My Trip to the Million-dollar Club
How do you sell $1 million in print and promotional products in a year? What about $2 million? $5 million? $25 million?
I'm not sure I have the answer, but I do have some ideas. I recently had the chance to talk to several million dollar-plus selling distributors, and spend some time thinking about how they got to that level of career success.
Proforma, a large print and promotional products distributorship, was kind enough to fly me out to write about its annual Million Dollar Club event. It's a three-day celebration of all Proforma's owners that have passed the $1 million mark in sales for the year. It's held at a different resort every year. The 2015 event was at the beautiful oceanside Terranea resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. While there, I spoke with high-earning Proforma owners, as well as their support staff and supplier partners, to figure out how and why these distributors were able to break the million-dollar mark in sales.
Proforma Resources and Support
To grow past a very small size, most businesses must specialize their labor. Each staff member cannot have the same job, because at a point, one person with specialized skills will be much more valuable than three or five people doing one-third or one-fifth of the same job. Example: A bakery with a single location would probably function fine with five staff members who all bake, work the front counter and handle deliveries. If that bakery wants to grow to have 20 locations, however, it makes much more sense to have a dedicated staff of bakers, salespeople, and delivery and fulfillment experts. With a much larger staff, the bakery chain can afford to specialize jobs without sacrificing staff flexibility and redundancy. The bakers can focus just on baking, without having to worry about picking up shifts at the counter or helping plot delivery routes, since there are enough staff in each specialty to share among locations, and the same would be true for the salespeople and fulfillment experts. This specialized bakery is a much stronger business than the smaller one, and essentially, it's this kind of specialization that Proforma and other distributor networks offer its owners.