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First in a series

In this new series, distributor owner and sales coach Josh Frey answers frequently asked questions on a wide range of sales topics.


Q: What is the best way to build a sales force in the promo industry (so that I am not the only one selling)?

Good question! Below is a 10-step guide to building a productive and profitable sales force for your promotional business. I realize you may run your own sales and distributorship differently than I do. Given that, take what you want from this list and apply whatever tools you currently use. 


A Step-by-Step Process For Building A Sales Force (And Residual Income

Step #1: Free Up Your Schedule
Do what you need to do to get the non-revenue tasks and administration off your plate. Outsource it (which I do) or hire a virtual assistant. This will allow you to focus your time exclusively on selling, recruiting and coaching. Be diligent and focused on the time spent on these money-making tasks and you will generate revenue for yourself and your business.

Step #2: Document Your Daily Selling Routine 
If you know how to sell and build long-term client relationships, you need to document your process in order to effectively teach it to your recruits. The more detailed your training documents and onboarding processes are, the quicker you can onboard a sales rep and start helping them sell. 

Step #3: Set Up A Training Program 
Take your documented processes from Step #2 and roll out your own training program. Don’t worry. You don’t need to have everything figured out at the beginning. Document what you learned when you first got started in the business. You can add additional information as you train recruits. Organize your documentation in a way that flows easily and can then be used again and again as you take on more recruits.

Step #4: Set Up a Sales, Order, Lead and Commission Tracking System 
You must set up a central location through which you can track business activity such as records of past and current orders, activity for sales and pipeline activity that your reps are working on. Consider industry order processing and CRM systems. Also, set up a way to effectively communicate the “hand off” of your client relationships, and then closely track the results. This is a way to keep your finger on the pulse of your business.

Step #5: Take Your Business Online 
Buyers are getting younger and most have grown up with the internet. Buyers expect to be able to search and buy swag online. You must have an online presence so buyers can find you. Ideally, your business should have a platform where they can place their orders as well. We developed our own ecommerce technology platform that allows us to place orders and make inquiries, but there are plenty of off-the-shelf options available through our industry. This will also generate lead flow for your newly recruited sales force to work offline. It’s a great way to train them in real-time and develop relationships.

Step #6: Start Recruiting 
Make a profile of the type of person you think would be a good fit for selling in your organization. When I started out, I looked for people with business experience and a network they could leverage. I can teach them the business if they bring the network and work ethic.

Step #7: Help Them Launch And Promote Themselves 
Once your recruit is trained, introduce them to the business community. Leverage social media to announce their new business or role. Introduce your recruit to the clients they will now be handling and get them started building lead flow.

Step #8: Coach Them Every Week
I am a big fan of sharing best practices and shadowing. Good salespeople are always learning and improving their skills. Helping your recruits with ideas for opening doors and closing deals will help them grow their sales. You will earn money from their sales as well. I set up a weekly coaching call for my recruits for the same day and time each week and schedule them out for at least three months. I provide an agenda to make the call productive and to help them stay organized.

Step #9: Feed Them Leads 
Newbies to the industry are not going to sell huge volumes overnight. Regardless of their networks, it takes time. Keep them motivated by handing off accounts they can work, make money from, learn from and help grow. It may feel like you are giving money away, but the return on your “investment” will be well worth it. Especially if you find an “A” player to work and grow your client accounts, along with their own.

Step #10: Check Your Bank Account 
There is nothing more fun than watching your bank account grow. I have a system where I can see every time an order comes through from one of my teammates. Sometimes I need to actually turn it off because it distracts me from the other things I need to do. Once you have the system set up and working, you will know the feeling I am talking about.   


Josh Frey is founder of Falls Church, Virginia-based distributor On Sale Promos and the Swag Coach Program. He is a 25-year industry veteran and front-line sales coach. Visit to register for the next Distributors Helping Distributors show and to view past shows.