4 Best Practices to Increase Sales (for Promo Distributors)

With consumer expectations and supply chain disruptions at an all-time high, growing a promotional products business can seem like an uphill battle. Luckily, branded merchandise is highly valued across different industries to promote businesses, events, teams, schools, and charitable causes.  

Account Executives, Owners, and anyone managing accounts in the promo distribution industry has an unprecedented ability to leverage the desire for promotional products. ASI reported that average distributor sales increased 5.4% in Q1 2022. And in Q2? Sales were up 13.5% compared to the prior year.  

The industry is doing more than ever with retail brands and industry-specific technology that responds to promo’s challenges. A solid strategy will lead to untapped sales opportunities to increase your sales volume and market.  

1. Get new top-selling products in front of your clients 

It seems obvious, but thoughtful product recommendations matter.  A lot. Clients can work with any distributor that comes their way, but to stand out and maintain grow your accounts, you have to make their job easy and add value. See yourself as a valued extension of their marketing team: think of the big picture and come ready with a plan so they don’t have to do the work.  

Be picky on behalf of your client: rid your product arsenal of all the dated and overdone mugs and pens.  Anyone can offer those products to your clients and take their business from you. 

To arm yourself with best-selling items, set a monthly calendar reminder to do your homework: 

  • What’s new and popular in the industry? What are other distributors not selling yet? (Pro tip: ask your supplier partners.) 
  • What promotional products are your client’s competitors using? What products can you offer that are better?  
  • What products are trending in the (non-promo) retail world? This helps you identify trends before your competitors. 

2. Recommend online promo stores to high-volume clients 

Look at the accounts that are making you the most money.  If they don’t have an online promo store (company store or pop-up store) yet, they need one (or even several) ASAP.  Thankfully, we have industry-specific technology that understands the complexities of ordering promotional products. Build company stores so your clients can order online. It’s table stakes in the promo industry and is extremely lucrative when done right. 

Ecommerce solutions increase margins and sales for distributors. They allow your clients to order more with a single link to a website than they could by ordering from easy-to-forget and hard-to-manage spreadsheets, forms, or emails.

3. Reach out to your clients before they reach out to you 

Take the lead on client communication and schedule meetings well in advance of their needs.  Being proactive is key to building trust and credibility with your clients. They should trust you to reach out to them with recommendations based on their long-term goals and seasonal initiatives. Getting clients in the habit of working within the time constraints of your business sets reasonable expectations for turnaround on decoration, shipment, and supply chain issues.   

Being proactive can look different depending on how large the account is, but here are some quick ways to get started: 

  • Plan a recurring touch base at the same time every month (i.e., the first Tuesday of the month), so your clients know to expect you.  Come prepared with ideas for upcoming holidays or events.  If you know they’re unlikely to make a purchase at your regularly scheduled meeting, still come armed with something they’ll find valuable–whether industry-related tips, news, or new products. 
  • Send emails with links to schedule time on your calendar, and/or to share new products 
  • Review reports and set alerts to notify customers when their online inventory is running low.  Bonus points if you have technology that can alert you when pre-determined thresholds are met. 
  • Engage with them on social media–LinkedIn, TikTok, Twitter–wherever they are– to keep your name at the top of their mind. 

4. Create a Sense of Urgency 

The supply chain clock is ticking.  

Every second your client waits to approve an order is time that someone else is staking a claim on their branded products.  Put firm deadlines in place for your clients and be realistic about the sense of urgency for top-selling products.   

If you’re using Commercio for ecommerce, you can set a countdown clock on your client’s website, so shoppers know when final orders are due.  Remind your clients to send emails to their colleagues and friends to place orders before they forget. That’s just one of many ways you can be helpful, knowledgeable, and add value in a way that will also drive your bottom line.  


When it comes to selling promo, the basics still apply. Creating long-term relationships with your clients, recommending new promotional product solutions, and being proactive about your plan will keep everyone aligned and sales high.  

Learn how Commercio online stores can help you increase sales with a quick demo.