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Author Topic: How do you sell your knives:  (Read 33487 times)
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Ed Fowler
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« on: July 18, 2011, 09:58:06 AM »

I received an email from a new knife maker who asked me for advice on how to sell the knives he makes. I find this an interesting topic and one that I have heard a lot of thoughts about. Thanks to my my lack of computer knowledge I lost his email so cannot answer him personally, but decided this would be a worthy topic for discussion on our forum.

Any thoughts?    

« Last Edit: July 20, 2011, 07:01:19 AM by PhilL » Logged

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Ed Fowler
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« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2011, 03:34:46 PM »

Common gentlemen, many of you make knives, many sell knives and some sell other stuff. You are a new knife maker and he is seeking advice how he can sell his knives. I know we all have ideas, please don't be bashful, share your thoughts.
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« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2011, 05:14:15 PM »

Well it seams like all my friends have bought a knife from me and their friends would see the knives and so on, so far with me it has been all word of mouth and i like that but i would like to get knives out their i would like to get my name out their in the future as a knife smith, i would like to do a web page fore my knives, i have a knife going to Africa soon on a hunting trip so i hope some one on the trip likes how my blade performs and maybe i will get a few more orders.  I am interested in how other people sell their knives.
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« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2011, 05:38:47 PM »

I don't make knives but I've been in sales for 20 plus years......
Listen to your customer
know your product
you don't sell your product you sell yourself. If your customer trust you then they will buy from you.


Short story......My best friend ask me to go with him to a knife show in 2001. I met a man in the lobby of an Atlanta hotel. He was very nice and showed me one of his knives. I had never held a high end custom knife before. My mind was spinning out of control and I'm sure I had a huge grin on my face, he asked me a question....... What do you think about her? I ask several questions......What is the handle made of and is it easy to resharpen. He grinned, probably becaused I didn't answer his question but ask some of my own. He replied and explained his answers and why he used the handle material and why the knife would be easy to resharpen. This was not a "Sales Pitch" for say but it is the perfect sales technique. Obviously you know it was Ed Fowler. Ed didn't try and sell me a knife. He was nice, knowledgable, and willing to listen.



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davidm
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« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2011, 09:06:25 PM »

Like Vance, i dont make knives. I would imagine exposure would be an important element for a new maker, be it marketing on a website, magazine, or making contacts through shows.. Knowing where your customers are. I have sold and traded (more) knives. One thing to me, knowing who are the dealers in the genre that i collect, makes life easier. If other collectors have similar taste it is good to know who they are, if you want to buy/sell. 
For selling knives online, i have always heard that good photos are an absolute. I cant vouch for any recipe for success, except i have concluded that dealers have an advantage. Often a dealer may require a % off, as a way of introducing a new maker to a market. (i dont know the rules of this, as they apply everywhere) Some dealers are "promoters" too, and may be able to help a new maker, i would guess.. But in any case, there is a lot of web traffic that gives custom knife sites an advantage,
 over "average Joe" knife selling on a subforum exchange.   

For makers, being friendly and helpful- i cant think of the "business" because i do not know it. One of the prominent dealers (entrepreneurs) in custom knives suggests "knowing ones position in the market" - not raising prices IF there is a
 surge in business right away. He calls it the "kiss of death" when you prematurely go up with prices, in tandom with aftermarket swings.  And, not staking too much on knife making as a primary source of income when just starting out. - These are just things i have heard, and seem to be rooted in experience. Another, good communication & word of mouth
 advertising. Promoting your work
somehow, and staying honest with customers. Keep good records too. Contacts, etc..

People often compain of makers who do not answer emails, take deposits and are not mindful of delivering knives when/if promised, poor customer service (repairs). So, good communication is key, having a standard of excellence about one's work- commitment, is another. The rest is getting the attention of the knife buying public, showing a quality product.
- well, just some thoughts to add.       
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PhilL
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« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2011, 07:00:19 AM »

I think this thread could be great and prove to be very valuable to our members here that are or want to be professional knife makers. I really did not want to jump in too early especially as another Non-maker. With that said, I do have over 25 years of Sales experience and have owned and operated my own businesses where a product or service had to be marketed. I do consider Making Knives to be an Art form as well as Sales being an Art as well. I think Sales makes the world go round and people who look down their noses at Selling as being some form of Prostitution are probably someone who will fail as a business person, and then wonder why. There is nothing wrong with making a profit. If you think there is, you may have a problem.

Decide for yourself are you in business to make money or are you a hobbyist knife maker that wants to sell a few knives to offset the cost of materials and equipment. What you focus on is what you?ll probably achieve. If it?s a business treat it as a business, form a corporation and keep accurate accounting records. Take advantage of all the relate Tax benefits and write-offs that your business will allow, including hiring family and friends in your business. The Tax Code, says that we can design our lives to pay the least amount of Tax possible, take full advantage of it. Starting and owning a business offer excellent deductions. If you have a full time job the write off from your knife business can get you a refund from withheld taxes. Remember it?s not what you make it?s what you keep.

If I was brand new to knife making my first goal would be to make as many knives as I possibly could and get my knives into as many hands as possible. I would not put my name on or allow a knife to leave my hands that I was not proud of. I would let everyone I knew know that I was making knives, everyone. I would give my knives as gifts as much as I could. If anyone showed an interest in owning one of my knives, I would make them a knife at cost. I would want an honest assessment of my knife after they had used it for a while. Oh, and get it in writing, testimonials can have great value for your website and your Press Kit.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2011, 12:13:47 PM by PhilL » Logged

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So, figure out what price there is to pay, and Pay It.


Dennis Mashburn
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« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2011, 03:33:53 PM »

Everyone please put in your thoughts on this one.  I would also like to hear thoughts on pricing knives even though I have read an article or two on it.

I have not yet made any sellable knives but hope to someday fairly soon.  I am not thinking I want to sell them at cost. 
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PhilL
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« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2011, 06:32:17 AM »

Know where you?re going

We all have our own different views of what Success is, and it?s not always accumulating a lot of money, or fame. For some it?s discovering what it is that will make us happy and then doing that with a passion. Most never get a clear picture of what they really want, they just take what life throws at them.

If Knife making is your passion then you make knives because you have to. You are half way to becoming successful, even if you?ve never sold a knife. When someone pays you to do something that you love than you?re one step closer to becoming successful. But, you?re not there yet.

Picture yourself waking up tomorrow morning in the shop of your dreams. With the knives that have been ordered from you in various stages of completion laid out before you. Check you emails for new orders and your growing Bank Account online, and you smile.

Set yourself clear and specific goals, within a definite time frame, even if you have no idea on how to achieve them. If you have the desire, if you remain focused and are persistent there is no way to fail.

If you don?t know what you want, and are easily distracted, if excuses are the result of every obstacle you encounter, then there is no way for you to succeed.


What is the number one attribute you need to succeed?

?Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.?
Calvin Coolidge


« Last Edit: July 21, 2011, 06:54:05 AM by PhilL » Logged

You can have anything You want in Life, as long as you?re willing to pay the Price.
So, figure out what price there is to pay, and Pay It.


Harold Locke
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« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2011, 02:41:14 AM »

I like this thread. I have had a rough 9 months and had planned to be attending the California Knifemakers Show in Brea this weekend and to have had knives to sell. Life doesn't always take you where you want.

As far as persistence, this will be the third weekend that my shop has been opened back up and production has started on the 19 knives that have been patiently waiting for my return. So far one full blade (the second knife of five from the Willow Bow Seminar) is complete and will have her new sheath completed this weekend and I am getting that excited feeling.

So far I haven't sold any knives, they are all accounted for going to the friends and family who have supported me in my endeavors with lady knife. All but 4 are up to the point of getting there handles on.

The goal is to get them handled and dressed quickly and move on to the next project goal is to make the Pasadena Knife Show with a table set to sell blades the goal is to have ten. Will go even if only one knife. Only one year left to achieve my goal of selling knives to people I don't know. Then I want to go to the Blade Show and set a table, hopefully paid for be the knives sold at the Pasadena show. And finish off next July at the Cal Knifemakers Show next July!

Oh yeah, Will have to formalize a business this next January 1 and set up, I was thinking sole propritorship, LLC Huh Maybe. Have gone thru the corporation process before, pretty simple. I have not been good at holding on to product and commanding a profit for my labor. Maybe make everyone deal with my Mom on the price. Huh

Alot of work to do before next March!!!

Harold Locke
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PhilL
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« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2011, 01:14:58 PM »

Only one year left to achieve my goal of selling knives to people I don't know. Then I want to go to the Blade Show and set a table, hopefully paid for be the knives sold at the Pasadena show. And finish off next July at the Cal Knifemakers Show next July!

Alot of work to do before next March!!!

Harold Locke

Harold, there is no doubt in my mind that you have what is needed to be a success at whatever you decide you want. That "excited feeling" is Passion, and that's great. But, your quote allows room for failure. It's what we tell ourselves and how we say it that our sub-conscious mind reacts to.

"In one year's time I will be selling my knives to customers that don't know me or my knives right now. I am awaiting the plan by which I will make myself known to them. I will follow this plan when it is revealed to me.

I will have a table at Blade Show paid for from my profits from knives sold at the Pasadena show. I will finish off my first full profitable year as a Custom Knife Maker at next July's Cal Knifemakers Show!"

Stated like that, with passion as a daily affirmation leaves little room for anything except success.

"Whatever the Mind of Man can Conceive and Believe it can Achieve"
« Last Edit: July 22, 2011, 01:24:38 PM by PhilL » Logged

You can have anything You want in Life, as long as you?re willing to pay the Price.
So, figure out what price there is to pay, and Pay It.


Harold Locke
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« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2011, 07:25:20 PM »

Phil,

Thank You, Sir! I do believe in the power of positive thought. Very astute on your part to find what is needed to firm up my mental outlook. I have copied and pasted your suggestion and will make some copies to hang around to keep me thinking straight.

This will be finished and in the sheath by Monday afternoon (caution: cell phone photo). It's great to be the shop again.

Thanks Again Phil

Harold Locke


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PhilL
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« Reply #11 on: July 23, 2011, 10:08:03 AM »

Sales 101

Nobody wants to be Sold. People like to buy and own stuff, but nobody wants to be sold. Nobody says, ?Look at the New ____ that guy just Sold Me!?

Telling Is Not Selling. People don?t buy for your reasons they buy for their reasons. If I tell you everything I know about my product I know that at the end of every sentence that you?re saying either, ?B_ll sh_t? or ?So what?? Because you know that I?m a salesman and I have an ulterior motive. But, if I ask you the right question and get you to say it, then you?re not BSing. Learn to ask a better question.

So, let?s say you?re at your table setup at a Knife Show and somebody starts looking over your knives. After you smile and say, ?Hi, my name is _____, and I?ve made all of these knives. I hope you?ll pick up any that interest you and see if they fit your hand.?

What?s a better question? How about, ?What are you looking for in a knife??
Get them talking, listen and learn. Maybe you have what they're looking for and maybe you don?t. There?s always something you can learn.

Learn to love the word ?No? People hate to be rejected and fear the word ?No?. As a Salesman I know how many ?No?s? I have to hear before I get to a ?Yes?. That ?Yes? will come maybe 1% of the time. But, if that ?Yes? is worth a $100 sale, then every ?No? is worth $1.00 to me. I can deal with 200 - 300 ?no?s? in a day. Can you?

I never hear the first ?No? a person gives me, I know it?s just a standard reflex response. How many times have you walked into a store and the sales clerk says, ?Hi, may I help you?? and you reply, ?No thanks I?m just looking?. Standard reflex response, ignore it.

Most important don?t take the ?No?s? personally. Have you ever been in a diner where the waitress comes around with a pot of coffee to top off your cup, and you put your hand over your cup indicating you?ve had enough? She made an offer and you declined. Do you think she goes in the back sobs over your rejection? Of course not, and neither should you, just smile and greet the next customer. I know you?ve put your blood, sweat and tears into those knives, it doesn?t matter. You need to get Sales Tough or don?t sell your own knives. There are other ways.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2011, 10:14:14 AM by PhilL » Logged

You can have anything You want in Life, as long as you?re willing to pay the Price.
So, figure out what price there is to pay, and Pay It.


davidm
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« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2011, 05:52:06 PM »

Thanks Phil. Good insights!

Topic is posted here as well:    http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php/868160-Tips-on-selling-knives?p=9833060#post9833060
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PhilL
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« Reply #13 on: August 04, 2011, 05:09:24 PM »

I finally got through reading David's thread on BFC, 9 pages (at last count).
There's a lot of fluff and a pissing contest or two, but there's some really good information for makers here that want to sell the knives they make.

I particularly like Les Robertson's input. I took Jim Cooper's advice and copied Les' post into kind of a tutorial. I think Les' first post sums up what a new maker needs to ask himself.


Post #26

"Is this thread about making knives.....that you hope to sell. Or is about creating a successful business that turns a profit from the sale of custom knives.

    The two are very different."

    Les Robertson
    Custom Knife Entrepreneur


Thanks David
« Last Edit: August 04, 2011, 05:11:04 PM by PhilL » Logged

You can have anything You want in Life, as long as you?re willing to pay the Price.
So, figure out what price there is to pay, and Pay It.


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« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2011, 07:38:56 AM »

Very good responses and right to the point.

Now just for the fun of it, I will ask the question: "Why do you want to make knives?"

There are many motivations for making knives:
To escape our day job, work for ourselves, make money?
All fall  in the same general arena.

But  there are other arenas:
Why did Van Gogh Paint?
Why did Beethoven compose?
"Why did Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson  sing?
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