For business people, landing clients in the skateboarding industry can be an extremely frustrating process. From skateshop owners to company warehouse managers, there’s no shortage of people who are generally disinterested in what you sell and would “rather be skating.” Yet as the success and popularity of the X-Games and shows like Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory have proved, there’s a lot of money floating around in skateboarding. The industry and its decision makers operate in a very unique way that makes it difficult for outside business people to form relationships. Therefore it can be helpful to understand the key characteristics that most industry workers have in common and identify steps to successfully sell to them.
1) Recognize that their passion is what drives them. No one who has been successful in the skateboarding world started working in it because they thought they would make a lot of money. They love skateboarding plain and simple. It’s important to find a way to appeal to that passion when selling your products.
2) Speak their language. Remember that most of them probably don’t read Forbes or the Economist in their spare time. Don’t use sophisticated business terminology in your sales pitch, but instead explain concepts like you’re sharing them with a high school student for the first time.
3) Remember who you are. It takes a long time to develop credibility and trust in the skateboarding industry. Everyone who successfully operates in it has spent years building a reputation. Don’t expect to be regarded in skateboarding the way you are in your own industry.
4) Have patience. Often passionate individuals get distracted by something that is more interesting or energizing. If your selling health insurance services to a skate shoe company, don’t expect to see the client super excited about what you have to say.
5) Don’t be too formal. Most skateboard companies have a very casual culture. If you show up to a company where every employee wears t-shirts and jeans in a $2,000 suit. Doing things the way they do it is a great way to be genuine.
6) Ask about their team riders. Nearly every skateboarding company has a team of professionals and amateurs that they proudly sponsor. These guys are the face of the brand. Research the team on the company website and ask a few questions about them.
7) Sell yourself as someone who genuinely wants to embrace what they do. As a salesperson, you are dead in the water if everyone in the skateboarding industry thinks that you are there to make money off them. Talk about helping your prospective clients grow their passion and make smart decisions so that they can continue to operate for a long time.
8 ) Ask about event-sponsorship opportunities. Skateboard shops in particular regularly hold demos where teams come into town and do tricks for the local kids. Try offering to supply some food for the event or rent a sound system on their behalf. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, but doing something for the event communicates that you are interested in what they do.
9) See how you can leverage your own network. Often times skateboarding company owners and managers are the community representatives for skateparks. Often times they become frustrated with the unresponsiveness of public officials to their concerns. If you have a strong contact in government, don’t be afraid to share it. A connection like that will be very appreciated.
10) Finally, be excited about skateboarding. That’s what this industry (obviously) revolves around