Is it Evil to Make a Profit?

If you’re recommending bad products at high prices, and you’re trying to gouge people? Well, that’s evil. Right? So don’t do that. But other than that, if you are providing actual solutions that clients need, at a price that makes sense for you and make sense for them, there is absolutely nothing evil about that. I would say that’s what integrity is all about, is providing them with a solution that is worth more to them than the money they’re paying you to get that solution.

David: Hi, and welcome to the podcast. Today, I am joined by Matt Eysoldt. He’s a multiline rep in the promotional products industry. And Matt and I were talking last week, and it turns out that we both like to work with smart, focused, motivated industry professionals. So I thought I’d invite him on the podcast to discuss that. Welcome, Matt. Good to have you here.

Matt: Thank you so much, David, I’m excited to be here and excited to talk to you about motivation, education and how to grow your business.

David: Awesome. Now, for those who don’t know what a multiline rep is or what a multiline rep does, give us a quick overview.

Matt: Yeah, so really what I like to say is the beauty of being a multiline is we offer value to the suppliers we represent. You know, maybe our better-known lines open the door for our lesser-known lines.

So it’s a definite win in that situation. But it’s an awesome win for the customers that I call on. And that’s because, maybe you’re looking for a red t-shirt and I’ve got that. But I’ve also got other things that may be the answer to your client’s needs. So it’s really kind of the opportunity to open the door to more diverse products in a short meeting.

You know, maybe we sit down and we talk 30, 45 minutes and we’ve really raised awareness to a lot of different items.

David: Right. Okay. And so I imagine, in order to be successful with this, it’s a choosing game to some extent. You’ve got to choose the right suppliers to represent. And you’ve got to choose the right distributors who are actually going to be able to do something with your recommendations, and with the suppliers that you’re recommending to them.

Matt: Absolutely. As we both know, time is our most precious resource. So we have to be extremely selective while we’re on the road, to say, “who are we going to see?” Who is going to take this information and use it to the best of their ability to promote my brand and to grow their business as well?”

So I think that’s a very, very crucial point. I’m always looking for that rising star, that motivated person out there. And what I find is, that motivated sales rep that is looking to help their client find the right solution for their promotion. That rep is also always willing to invest their time and energy into their own personal education.

So it’s really kind of a self-fulfilling cycle that, just continues to grow things.

David: Yeah, that’s what we’ve found as well. Obviously, we’ve been doing training in the promotional products industry for a long, long time. And, it doesn’t surprise me anymore, but in the early stages, when I would go to an industry trade show and find out that really maybe five to seven to 10% max of the people who go to a trade show actually participate in any of the education.

In the early stages, I found it surprising. Now, I think it explains a lot about why a certain percentage of people in the industry do extremely well and a lot are just either struggling or just sort of getting by.

Matt: Absolutely David. And I think, you know, I’ve run into customers that are afraid to make a profit that think that’s evil.

And, you know, I find myself trying to educate them on some of these things. Whereas, it would be awesome, talking to you, that I might be able to refer people to you a little bit to, you know, how can you increase that margin? Why is that margin important for your business?

You know, it’s one order that goes south on a person that’s running on a hair-thin margin that could put them out of business. So it’s things like that allow them to invest and be there for the long haul to continue to fulfill what the client needs.

David: Yeah. It’s really funny you should say that. Because when I think in terms of people in the industry who have said similar things to me, that, they’re sort of hesitant about the idea of making a profit.

You used the term evil. They think it’s evil if they’re making a profit. What I would say is that if what you’re doing is unethical, if you’re recommending bad products at high prices, and you’re trying to gouge people?

Well, that’s evil. Right? So don’t do that. But other than that, if you are providing actual solutions that clients need at a price that makes sense for you and make sense for them, there is absolutely nothing evil about that. I would say that’s what integrity is all about, is providing them with a solution that is worth more to them than the money they’re paying you to get that solution.

And I also found, in the industry, for myself, that’s where a lot of the joy comes from, is to be able to interact with someone, have an experience where they’re getting what they need. They’re getting a result that they need from their clients when they buy the products. And if it’s not a win-win, it’s not worth doing.

Matt: That is so true. And I think, you know, you hit the key. It’s the joy that finding that right solution for that client and the excitement with it when they open the box or when they see the result at their trade show or their event and the success of that. I think that’s what it’s all about. And I think, you know, my customers are pulled in so many different directions.

That they don’t always get the time to be proactive in the way they want to be or find that perfect solution. A lot of times it’s “Hey, I’m going to go with this supplier. I know them. I have the account set up. I know that item.” And I think, again, going back to the multiline rep, that’s where we can add value to that, is doing a little bit of that leg work.

Maybe working with them on a virtual, a proactive spec sample. Maybe it’s even us going in on that end user call with them to bring samples and to really drill down and focus. Those are all ways that we can really help them.

As a multiline rep inherently, we are entrepreneurs. We don’t have to make a certain number of sales calls every week. Although, the lines we represent definitely want to see a performance. But you know, we have to pick and choose. So we are there to grow that business together, period, plain and simple.

David: Yeah. And I think for distributors, particularly for some smaller distributors… Some smaller distributors don’t really get to see multiline reps all that often.

I remember when I was first starting out in my promotional products business, it was back in the late eighties and we were in Media, Pennsylvania. We had a little office there. And, somebody, I don’t even remember who it was now, but there was somebody who was a multiline rep who stopped by. And I was like, what’s this all about?

And I found it very helpful. I thought, “okay, this is nice.” He was about the only one I heard from though for, for a long time, until we started generating some decent volume.

Matt: Sure. Sure. And, you know, I think just like anywhere you’ve got great multiline reps and you’ve got average multiline reps.

But I also think in fairness, the multiline reps, it depends on the lines that you carry. For example, one of my big lines is a company called Founder Sport Group. And we do some leading on-the-field and off-the-field spiritwear. That type of stuff.

That opens the doors for me into the screen printer that might not see a lot of promotional people. Or that very small operation. So it allows me to go in there and open this whole wide world to those people that aren’t seeing that. So, you know, I feel very lucky to have a line like that, that requires me to call on that person and open that door.

David: Yeah. And I think one of the things that really impressed me with our conversation last week, and one of the reasons that I wanted to have you come on, is that I think a lot of people when they, people who are familiar with the idea of what a multiline rep is and what he or she does, they think in terms of the product. That you’re representing product.

But what really impressed me about our conversation is that you really seem far more focused on helping those distributors get results using your supplier’s product.

Matt: Absolutely. And, you know, I’ve got a little secret to share with you. I grew up in my grandmother’s embroidery shop and I was a distributor for six years before this.

So, maybe I failed to mention that to you, but that has been such a… I call it my secret weapon. Because I know how limited my customer’s time is. And I’ve been doing this 18 years now. It’s a lot more limited now than it was when I was a distributor.

So I have got to bring value. Because I’m pulling you away from your phone and from your email for, let’s just say 45 minutes to an hour. And when you go back to your desk, you are now buried again. And if I didn’t bring you value, then you’re probably not going to want me to come back in. And you’re going to look at that as a time- suck.

So it has got to benefit my customer, at the end of that meeting, or it doesn’t work for either one of us.

David: Yeah,, I completely agree. And I think it sort of goes along the lines of what tends to scare a lot of distributors. The idea that they’re going to be seen as a “salesperson.” Which is kind of amazing, but also very true.

And if somebody simply views you as someone who is there to sell them product, then you’re going to be a lot less welcome than if they feel that you’re there to actually help them.

Matt: And I think it’s transparent. If they know that that is your mission. They see right through that. I’ve always prided myself on knowing my line, knowing prices, knowing the catalog page numbers.

It’s funny. When I, when I call out a page number, a customer says, “gosh, Matt, you always know your page numbers.” And that’s just repetition. But the most important thing is… Whatever that item is, how do you sell it? Where’s it going to fit?

David: Right.

Matt: And does it fit with your client base? So I think those case histories and, I always say like, when they leave that meeting, if there’s one or two things that have really kind of jolted them, that when I leave this, I know I’m going to be behind in my emails, but I’m calling Joe at XYZ corporation right now, because that is the perfect solution for him.

And that’s what it’s all about. And that’s, I think where I get my excitement after 18 years of doing this, you still see that light turn on. You know, and there’s times where maybe I have 12 people in the room, but I might only be connecting with three of them. So I kind of drill down and work with them, and we go from there.

But I think this is the greatest business in the world. Because you know, year after year catalog, after catalog, there’s always that new, fun and exciting thing that you had never seen before. And that excitement is so contagious in our industry.

David: Yeah, it really is. I think for a lot of distributors, when you have somebody who is able to come in and not just provide you products that you need for your customers, but to be able to recommend things that are likely to appeal to the customers.

I think distributors tend to focus on, “okay, these are my customers, what are they asking me for?” And then they go out and get it. It’s like a dog playing fetch, you know, “Go get it!”

Matt: Right.

David: And, I think that one of the things that you are able to bring to the table is that you can come in to them and say, “okay, here’s something that’s working extremely well in this particular industry. Here’s something that’s working well among this group. Here’s how this company is using this.

So they can then go to their customers, who are in similar industries and say, “Hey, listen, here’s something that’s working really well for X, Y, Z Company.” Even if they never sold to X, Y, Z company.

Matt: That’s exactly right. In a perfect example, as you’re saying that, one of my lines, PowerStick.com, and I don’t want to turn this into a commercial, but, we came out with this pencil called The Jot.

It’s an infinity pencil. It’s only about yay big. It’s retractable. And you never have to sharpen it. And I thought, “that is awesome.” But, you know, I’m showing it, and people are saying “that’s neat.” And then one of my clients said “that would be a great item for a golf outing. That would replace a scoring pencil and they would never need another scoring pencil.”

I have used that case history over the last three months now. And it’s just, the orders are flowing. So it’s that little key that unlocks the door that, you know, I didn’t think of it. One of my customers brought it to me and I was able to share that. So again, to your point, I think that’s another way I can be that conduit of adding value.

David: And a lot of times, distributors work by themselves. There are a lot of solo practitioners, a lot of mom and pops, a lot of small businesses, who may not have somebody else that they can even bounce ideas off of. I mean, they can do it with their clients. They can do it with their spouse or whatever.

But if their spouse isn’t involved in the industry, it’s not all that helpful. When you’re able to interact with someone else who is doing it, who’s got the experience, and plus the connections that you have, the fact that you’re connected with all these suppliers, you’re connected with all these other distributors.

You just have a lot more immediate knowledge than anybody else because you’re living it every day.

Matt: That’s it. I’m out there. I’m plugged in.

You know, those who work hard, get lucky more often. And I really think that’s what it is. The guy that brought me into the business, a gentleman named Bruce Sachs were, great friends to this day.

He worked his tail off. And I respected him. When I was a distributor, I would call him. He answered the phone at any hour of the day. And he could always either give me the answer or point me in the right direction. And that’s what I tell my customers. “Make me the first call.” I am more than happy to point you to another rep, another line.

And I love just finding that solution. And I love the efficiency of that.

David: Yeah. So you’re seeing distributors pretty much every day. Certainly every week…

Matt: Absolutely. Yeah. Go ahead, go ahead.

David: I was just going to say, so at this point, at this particular moment in time, where would you say that the distributors that you’re seeing and interacting with, need the most help?

So, it’s very interesting you asked that. During the two years of COVID I felt like I was a therapist. I was still on the road traveling, and like you said, some people just needed someone to talk to.

Right.

Matt: I have found a lot of people are lacking in the motivation department right now. Some top performers. I think there’s a little bit of burnout there. I think there’s a little bit of stagnation because maybe they haven’t been out to the shows. Maybe they haven’t seen as many sales reps.

David: Right.

Matt: So my most recent mission has been a little bit more motivational. Maybe a little bit more pep talk in there. Maybe a little bit more share with them.

I never share specific end-users or distributors. But just some success stories to get them fired up. Because I know in general, the top performers in our industry, I would consider myself that. We’re competitive.

And if I know one of my associates in another state is just crushing it, I want to know what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.

David: Right.

Matt: And leave them hungry. I want to leave that meeting with them, thinking “I can do this and I can do better.” So, that’s been the biggest thing I’ve seen is maybe just a little bit of burnout. It’s like, you used to run marathons.

it’s been a while. You know, you can do it again. But your endurance isn’t there.

David: Yeah..

Matt: so that’s kinda what I’ve seen most recently.

David: Yeah. And to continue that analogy, the biggest challenge, very often, is just getting the sneakers on and getting them tied. Right?

Matt: So true…

David: It’s like, it’s not even about running the marathon. It’s about getting ready to go out the door. And I’ve noticed the same thing. Obviously, a lot of the work that we do is with industry professionals, promotional product distributors who need to grow their sales and profits.

And given the year that they had, 2020 and 2021. Now, the industry is growing now. We all know that. I was talking with Chris Ruvo at ASI, and he was talking about the recent stats and how the industry has been growing double digits for the last few months, certainly.

And so there’s a natural growth that’s happening. But for the people who are really focused now, this is an opportunity to really crush it and really make up for some losses. So I think to some extent, the motivation comes from knowing what to do, knowing who to approach, how to approach them, what to say, how to say it.

And some people are a little out of practice with that. I spoke at the PPAI Expo in January, and it’s the first time we’ve done a live show in a while. It was so great just being around other human beings again. I mean, we all have masks on and everything like that, but still, it’s like, “Hey look, there are other humans in the room!”

So, it was exciting. And the other thing that I noticed is that the people who were there, really wanted to be there. Which again, sort of tends to separate out the people who are really serious about this, and the ones who are like, “well, maybe I’ll go next year.”

There’s a lot that’s going to happen between this year and next year.

And so the people who are really ready, willing, and able to take action now are the ones who are going to be getting the results.

Matt: So true. And I’m calling them out. I think there are some great excuses for that person that doesn’t have the fire right now. They can use a lot of excuses and that’s what I’ve seen.

I am so excited for the Chicago show. Last year I was at that show. I was at the Vegas show this year and just had great conversations with people and time to spend. It was a total success.

I think there’s going to be a lot of fire in Chicago, but I think there’s been so much time leading up to that where there’s been opportunities that maybe some people haven’t taken advantage of.

David: Yeah. Chicago show is always fun. That time of year in Chicago is beautiful right there by the lake.

Matt: Absolutely.

David: I went to school out there. So it’s always nice getting back to Chicago.

One of the things, getting back to the idea of the people who are really serious and the ones who are doing it right now, versus those who aren’t. One of the things that I’ve noticed is it seems to be outside factors versus internal. It’s essentially blaming other things versus taking personal responsibility and saying, “what can I do now, despite whatever’s going on outside?”

I mean, obviously, many suppliers have been having issues getting the product they need.

That is very frustrating for the suppliers. It’s very frustrating for the distributors. But what I find is that the ones who are doing well right now are those who recognize that, “okay, not everything is available. I still have to do business.

I still have to find product for my clients. What am I going to do about that?” As opposed to, “well, I lost that order because of. X, Y, Z

Matt: Right. And that is where, again, we come in. And not just me. Even your factory reps. Work your relationships. I think, again, it gets in that mindset. I’m so busy. I can’t meet with that rep.

I don’t have time for it. I’ll use them when I need them, which is fine. But develop that relationship. Because there are there are reps that I talk to, weekly and they’re so good about checking in with me. And I think, “gosh, he just called me, why haven’t I called him?” But that relationship is there.

And in that quick five, 10 minute conversation, you know, I might think, “oh, by the way, I just caught wind that we’re going to be closing out this style, or we just got this shipment in… of black polos.” So it’s those types of things. And in the current environment, again, that’s where the reps can help you to ” where is the stash?”

You know, what do you have? Because you can’t blast it out there and share it with everyone. It’s kind of it’s limited resources. So. I think that’s where I see the reps that are very successful in their sales numbers are relationship people. But it’s a two-way street. Not only do they work the relationship with their clients. They work the relationships with their vendors.

David: Yeah. And that’s exact…, I was thinking the same thing as you were talking about that. The whole idea of how distributors… Any distributor worth his salt is going to talk about the fact that relationships are key. But very often they think of it in terms of the relationships with their clients. And they forget that there’s a whole other part of the equation there.

And to have those relationships solid is absolutely essential. The majority, I think I heard a number of 85% of the success that a promotional product distributors going to have is entirely dependent upon the suppliers they choose. Because if you choose the wrong suppliers, you’re going to have a lot of problems.

And if you choose the right suppliers, you’re going to have a lot fewer problems. So recognizing that, as you indicated, the relationships, they have to go from the distributor to their clients. But also, to and from the suppliers or the supplier reps. And just establishing those relationships, having relationships with people like you, who are in there every day, you’ve got your finger on the pulse of what’s going on and you can share those ideas with them. It’s very valuable.

Matt: It’s so important. I think that was one of the most important things I learned being a distributor is… When an order goes wrong to the end user. That end user, the buck stops with the rep that they bought it from. He or she could say “it was my supplier. It was my supplier rep.” It doesn’t matter. That, in the end user’s eyes, it’s their fault.

David: Yes.

Matt: So that’s why that partnership, that relationship, is so important. And I think when I relay that to my customers, that I understand that… they realize we’re made of the same cloth.

David: Right.

Matt: So I do. I think it’s just so darn important there. That it is a two-way street. That you do work that. And I wish more suppliers had the opportunity to understand that. Whether it’s an inside sales person at a supplier. To travel on the road for a week and see what our distributor partners go through on a daily basis.

Because, you know, I think it’s too easy to get out there and think, “they got it easy. They wait for an order to come in and…” No. No. And especially in this environment, they’ve got to sell an order four or five times.

David: Yeah.

Matt: They sell a white polo, they need a plan, A, B, C, and D right now.

Yeah. Up through double Z.

It’s very difficult. And both sides, we have our challenges. And I think it’s communication, understanding and respect that can just pay dividends to all of us.

David: Yeah. Very well said. Okay. So you represent certain states. So tell me about which states you’re in so that if someone’s listening to this, if they’re in one of your states, they might want to reach out. So which states do you represent?

They all know me already. David. I’m that good. No, I’m kidding. So I cover Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky. And I’m based on the north side of Cincinnati.

Okay.

Matt: Yeah.

David: And so, for a distributor who is in that area, who would like to… I suppose if somebody is not in that area, they could still potentially reach out to you. We can’t stop them from doing that. But what’s the best way for them to reach you?

Matt: Yeah. So you can go to my website, which is EysoldtMG.com.

You can email me, and I’ll spell my name here in a second. Or you email me at Eysoldt@gmail.com. My name is spelled E Y S O L D T.

And I don’t care if you’re in my territory or not. I love those conversations. This is a small world. It’s a very small industry. We will see each other at one point or the other.

So if somebody calls me from North Carolina, I’ll be the first one to connect them with my good buddy Jason or Judy down there who share a lot of the same lines as me. So you know, whatever I can do to build those relationships, it’s never a waste of time.

David: Yeah. Okay. That’s great. Awesome.

Now, earlier in the podcast, I used the word “joy.” You used the word joy, so I got to do a quick shout-out to Kirby Hasseman, who is the king of joy in the promotional products industry. Don’t want to be stealing his word here. I thought we both used it. I’m like, “oh boy, I better mention Kirby here” because…

Matt: Good point

David: …he’s, been doing The Marketing Joy podcast for a long time. So shout out to Kirby for that.

Matt: And one other thing for Kirby. You know, joy definitely associates with his name, but consistency. I always say to him, “if I go to Webster and open it up and look up consistency, it’s Kirby Hasseman.

His marketing, his program. He just sticks to it. And I just find that unbelievable how diligent he is, or disciplined he is with that.

David: There you go. And he even made it into this podcast without being here. So that’s all good.

Matt: There you go. Absolutely. Absolutely.

David: All right, Matt. Thank you so much. It was great seeing you and we’ll look forward to talking again.

Sounds great, David, thanks so much for your time today.

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