I had the pleasure of interviewing Crissy Manwaring, who has been with Boundless since 2010. This outdoor enthusiast is all about delivering solutions, not products, and is passionate about finding creative ideas for her clients. Learn her secret to building lasting client relationships in this week’s blog!
Tell me a little bit about yourself:
I was raised in Utah, and love snowboarding and cycling and soaking up the great outdoors. One of my favorite bike rides is across the causeway to Antelope Island in the middle of the Great Salt Lake. There is something pretty majestic about riding beside a buffalo. The sunsets in the Salt Lake valley are pretty spectacular, and the winter sports make digging your car out of snowbanks worth the bother.
Outside of staying active I really like making and sharing pies, and have to thank Grandma for teaching me the art of making a pie crust in my early teens. With a large family of aunts, uncles, and cousins gathering for the holidays, I got a lot of practice! I enjoy spending time with my family or cuddling up with my two dachshunds under a cozy blanket to read a good book.
How did you get into the promotional products business? What do you like about it?
I was introduced to the promotional products business in 1999 during an internship with Publicis. I was finishing up my BA in English and Communications at the U of U, and had a knack for creative that got me the internship with the advertising agency. It was an amazing time to work with an incredibly talented group of professionals and one of my projects was actually working on the 2002 Olympic Campaigns. It was an awesome learning experience, but I really found my niche in pairing the right promotional product with the creative messaging and images to deliver the message and make it stick. At the end of the internship, I was told me that I was incredibly creative, but that I just wasn’t crass or cut-throat enough to thrive in the agency environment. That’s OK – I’d found my niche in the promotional products sphere, and my clients don’t seem to mind that I’m sweet, and caring.
What professional goals do you set for yourself and how do you achieve them?
I want to be a resource for my customers more than just another supplier by proactively providing creative ideas and to help them achieve their goals, rather than just waiting for them to tell me what they want. I work primarily on word of mouth referrals, and the highest compliment I receive is when a new buyer calls me and says ‘”(Blank) says I need to talk to you about my current project, she says you are so creative!”
What is your secret to building relationships with your clients?
Listening. Listening, and Listening some more until I understand what their underlying goals are. When a customer calls and asks to order pens, I typically say “I can definitely help with that, but would you mind helping me understand what the pens are for?“ sometimes the pen is the perfect tool for their branding message and application, but often there is another product that more effectively delivers their message within the same budget. I want to provide solutions, not just products, and by demonstrating my dedication to my customer’s goals, I’m able to build relationships that last.
If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be?
I get frustrated with promotions that are poor quality or poorly executed and result in land-fill fodder instead of BrandLove. I’d love to see more intentional product selection, and less “buy some stuff to give-away at our booth.” Sometimes there is a perceived lack of respect for the industry because there are so many salespeople, but so few promotional sales professionals. I guess that is part of why I love Boundless so much – because it is a community of folks that share my passion for building effective promotions, not just a group of trunk-slammers trying to sell more mugs or pens.
What has been the biggest game-changer in the promotional products industry in your time as a sales partner?
The internet and online sales growth is a massive paradigm shift. The new transparency in the industry, where I can come to a meeting WITH a supplier partner. Instead of hiding my sources, I am revealing them and making introductions. The internet has made the world a much, much smaller place. Clients can find the same product from so many online suppliers or competing distributors, my value isn’t in providing the pen or mug, it is in providing the pen or mug that will help accomplish their promotional goals. It is a partnership and collaboration.
When did you start working with Boundless? What drew you to the company?
I joined Boundless in the Spring of 2011. I was seeing the customer requests shift – they wanted their purchasing experience with me to reflect their purchasing experience with an online company. They wanted their invoices archived online. They wanted tracking numbers for their shipments sent automatically, and visibility into where their order was in progress, and their historical spend. I was researching all available industry partners to see what was available. And also speaking with developers on what it would cost to build the solutions my clients wanted. At PPAI in January I stumbled on a poster that said Boundless in front of a meeting room in the same area that many of the top 40 distributor organizations were having their meetings that year, and so I looked them up. Best professional decision I’ve ever made! The culture, commitment to innovation, technology, and the creativity of the sales teams drew me to Boundless.
How do you see Boundless shaking up the industry?
All of our innovations are driven by our customers. We are responsive to their requests. We aren’t building a product, and then trying to shoe-horn our clients into it, we are listening to our clients, seeing what is missing, and what is needed, and filling that need. I like being a part of that innovation. My customers also love our internal terminology. When I say that’s a great idea – let me run it by Mission Control and see what it would take to build it – they get excited and feel that they are part of the innovation too.
Looking to make a change? Join our team!