Paupers Selling Promos

Most people starting out in our industry have no experience selling promotional products. That’s understandable. Maybe they had previous experience selling other services like print or embroidery, or maybe they had some customer service experience. That’s all fine. But there’s a disturbing trend in our industry now that I would like to see ended as soon as possible. People who call themselves promotional distributors, who not only have no experience in our industry, but who also say they have no time and no money to learn it.

At the risk of sounding callous, I would just say that if you have no experience, and you have no time and no money to learn what to do before you get started, please… just stay out!

The last thing our industry needs is more paupers selling promos.

OK, I’m not going to get any prizes today for compassion, but I’ve got to tell you, this growing trend of inexperienced, dead-broke individuals calling themselves promotional distributors has got to stop.

In my career, I have likely trained more new promotional products distributors than anyone else on the planet, so I speak from a lot of experience here.

The people I work with, regardless of their level of experience coming in, are focused, motivated and determined to succeed. Like every industry professional, they’re busy. They have demands on their time from prospects, clients, friends and family. They start early and work late, but they manage to either find the time or make the time to do what’s necessary to learn their craft. They invest in themselves. They invest in their businesses. They invest in customer acquisition. And they do this regardless of whether or not they are flush with cash. They may not be investing much, but they’re investing something.

For many starting out, it’s a struggle. But instead of making excuses, they do what is necessary to succeed.

Obviously, these are not the people I’m talking about when I refer to paupers selling promos. Instead, I’m talking about individuals, who claim to be promotional products distributors, but who also seem to indicate that they don’t have two pennies to rub together.

They say they have no money to invest in training, no money to get to industry trade shows. They certainly have no money to hire help, and it makes me wonder… how it the world could they possibly ever pay a supplier in the unlikely event that they somehow managed to get an order?

But it gets worse. In addition to having no money, many “paupers selling promos” also say they just don’t have the time to learn. No time to attend even a free webinar training. They’re just too busy.

But doing what?

In business, you need time, you need money or ideally, both. You don’t have to have a ton of each. But you have to have something.

Success requires investment.

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “you get out of life what you put into it.” But I am constantly amazed at the number of people finding their way into our industry who think that they can literally invest nothing — no time, no money, no focused effort, no commitment to excellence or even competence — and still get something out. Let me assure you, it will not happen.

Success in business requires the ability to create value for people. And value creation requires time, focus, commitment and at least minimal levels of investment. First in yourself, then in your prospects and clients.

If you’ve been reading our newsletter, listening to our podcasts, learning from our training or benefiting from our memberships, then you probably already know that you can’t get anything out of our industry (or any other industry for that matter) without having something to contribute — without having the ability to put something, anything in.

So commit to focusing today on your contribution. What can you invest today in your prospects, your clients or your own training and education? What will you invest in terms of time, energy, ideas, resources, recommendations and enthusiasm?

The fact that you’re reading or listening to this indicates that you’re not a pauper selling promos. But if, by some chance you believe that you can get anything out of this industry without first putting something in — without first creating value for someone else, I would encourage you to either step up or step out.

If you’re new to the industry and need to get grounded in the essentials of promotional products sales, visit us online at If you need to get clients now with no distractions and no excuses, visit Or, if you’re a smart, focused, independent distributor doing a reasonable volume of sales, join the AIM SmartEQP community today at that’s

    4 replies to "Paupers Selling Promos"

    • Allen & Debbie Krieg


      That’s what I like about you – always spot on!

      I remember in the early days, around 2003, after I retired from being a Deputy Sheriff for 22 years, my wife and I started a promotional marketing business. We were clueless! However, that year we traveled to Orlando for the trade show and happened to run into you. You were so friendly and invited us to attend your seminar. We did and it was the turning point to a successful run as a promotional product distributor.

      We had goals we wanted to meet and still enjoy life traveling and such. We exceed our goal of $250,000.00 in annual sales. We built a great client base, again using your principles. Due to health issues we sold our business client list to a printing supplier we had contracted to. To this day he is very successful and I enjoy working and consulting with him as my “part-time” job.

      I agree with you; put nothing in, get nothing out, but maybe burn out! We invested our time and money and were richly rewarded. So to this day I am reaping from our investment and enjoying my 50% commission distributing promotional products to my old clients that remained faithful to us.

      Thanks again for your guidance to a successful promotional marketing distributorship!

      Forever grateful,
      Allen & Debbie Krieg
      ARosa Marketing, LLC

      • David Blaise

        Thanks Allen & Debbie, I always enjoy hearing from long time clients like you who had the strength and determination to do what’s necessary, take action and follow through. Enjoy your travels along with those ongoing commissions!

    • Billy Booe

      David, Long time no talk. Great commentary and so glad you took the time to address this topic. One of my main concerns over the past 5 years has been the difficulty in finding well qualified promotional consultants. The lack of knowledge and experience which seems to permeate our industry today has impacted all of us in a negative way. This approach of not knowing and not having the personal motivation or drive to properly educate yourself is disruptive to our industry. This industry has changed dramatically over the past 30 years. Alot of the change has been positive, but this commentary addresses a topic which has compromised the value and integrity of what true promotional consultants bring to the table every day. Thanks again for taking time to publish this. See you in Chicago!

      • David Blaise

        Thanks for your feedback, Billy. Great to hear from you! Among larger promotional distributors I also notice a catch-22, where the company thinks the salesperson should be responsible for his or her own training and the salesperson thinks the company should be responsible for training them. As a result, no one takes responsibility and no one gets trained. Too many businesses spending too much money trying to recruit salespeople from other companies, rather than investing a dime to train the people they have. But that’s another story altogether. See you in Chicago!

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