In the first of a two-part feature, Marshall Atkinson takes a journey down the sales funnel to analyse the buying decision process

Regardless of the seat in the decorated apparel industry your company holds, there’s one thing that is common to all other businesses and that is that you need sales to exist. And by sales, I mean someone wanting to financially compensate you for your effort or product. But how in today’s crowded marketplace do people get to that decision? How do you make that decision yourself? Think about it for a second.

Any buying decision is basically broken down into four elements: Know, Like, Trust and Buy. Understanding how your potential customers behave with the first three to action the fourth can be critical to pushing the sales growth that you need.

Lewes FC shirts sell in smaller quantities, but cost the same as those of bigger Football League teams

Before reading the rest of this article, stop and consider your company for a moment.

  • How do you attract customers?
  • What are your sales efforts?
  • How do you position yourself in your marketplace?
  • Do you have a differentiator that makes you stand out?
  • How do your staff interact with customers?
  • What is it about your company that makes customers come back?

So let’s build the funnel.…


A fancier term for Know is Brand Awareness. This is the first step in getting more sales. If nobody knows you exist, how will that phone ever ring? Who is going to visit your website? What will it take for someone to get into their car and drive over and walk through your door?

So, do your potential customers know anything about you? And who are those people anyway? You absolutely need to invest some time researching as much as you can about this demographic. Without understanding them, how can you ever determine how to reach out to them so they know about you? You may be spending all of your effort and money in the wrong direction.

I speak to so many shop owners and their main business plan is to just lie in wait like a spider in a web. There is very little thought about who they are targeting. When you ask what markets they service, their response is usually “everyone” or “whoever walks in the door”. That thinking is limited and very short sighted. They are completely at the mercy of luck.

Getting others to like your company is just like making friends. The only way to get more friends is to be one. This means you have to do things for others to like you. Spend some time and illustrate the positive things that happen at your company. Share.

In the next issue I’ll consider the two remaining elements in the buying decision process including the critical part of the sales funnel – how you ask for the sale.

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Marshall Atkinson is the chief operating officer of Visual Impressions and Ink to the People. A frequent article and information contributor, Marshall lectures on sustainability, and has participated in numerous industry webinar panel discussions. He is on the Board of Directors for the SGIA’s Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP), and serves on SGIA Leadership Committees as well.