First Knife Order - need a few opinions please

Bruce McLeish

Well-Known Member
A long time ago, I taught sales to new Xerox sales reps. The main focus of the course was twofold : feature/benefit selling and top down selling. Bob just gave a terrific example of feature/benefit sale. Top down selling is you ALWAYS start at the most expensive , the theory being you can ask for less later. If you start at ,say, $100.00, it becomes almost impossible to ask for $150.00 later , but you can always make a deal at $90.00. If you start at $150.00 then come down to $125.00 then The customer perceives they got a deal and you didn't lose anything.
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
There is also the clientele you market to. Financial stratification is a real thing, and when word of mouth is your primary means of sales it matters a lot. Different people have different motivations. In my experience people with money want the finer touches, but they also expect to pay more. In fact, they want to pay more. A thing doesn’t appeal to them if they perceive it as cheap.

A hard lesson for me to learn is that I am not selling to guys like me. I’m a very practical person which is why I make knives rather than collect them. But the world is full of people who pay thousands of dollars for a shotgun or $100k for a truck, and they aren’t all rich. People buy handmade because it’s a gift to themselves and they take a lot of pride in owning craftsmanship and in owning something unique. And for some there’s a bit of bragging rights involved.
 

Smallshop

KNIFE MAKER
A hard lesson for me to learn is that I am not selling to guys like me.
Bingo.
My latest collaboration with my sheath maker was " Let's build the best combo we can with out letting a price invade our thinking. Then we will figure costs and price accordingly"

Yep...we have a knife/sheath combo neither of us can afford or would even buy....lol.
 

Smallshop

KNIFE MAKER
Not that I ever have a failed forge weld, but I hear from other smiths that it happens (Lol) so how do you figure that into your costs?
One thing I think is we pay for OUR mistakes. I left way too much material on the long A-2 blades....grinding is miserable. So I figure what it should have taken not what I'm actually doing. I also figure any experimenting (which I actually LOVE doing) is on my dime...and hopefully becomes profitable over time....and usually does.

Now if a customer wants YOUR craftsmanship on a material/style that is new to you they will have to pay for some of the "discovery"....lol. I try to only offer options that I have already proven out....with my current energy any commission style work quickly becomes a time sink-hole...
 

Bruce McLeish

Well-Known Member
There is also the clientele you market to. Financial stratification is a real thing, and when word of mouth is your primary means of sales it matters a lot. Different people have different motivations. In my experience people with money want the finer touches, but they also expect to pay more. In fact, they want to pay more. A thing doesn’t appeal to them if they perceive it as cheap.

A hard lesson for me to learn is that I am not selling to guys like me. I’m a very practical person which is why I make knives rather than collect them. But the world is full of people who pay thousands of dollars for a shotgun or $100k for a truck, and they aren’t all rich. People buy handmade because it’s a gift to themselves and they take a lot of pride in owning craftsmanship and in owning something unique. And for some there’s a bit of bragging rights involved.
A lot (most) sales people make a grievous mistake and one that John alluded to. That is we look at a potential customer and say "look at that guy with his worn boots and raggedy ass jeans , he could NEVER afford one of my knives. Don't be fooled, some of those guys could buy and sell all of us. So what I'm saying is "don't blow the sale because of a preconceived notion." Easy to say, surprisingly hard to do. Ya gotta see each customer as having unlimited funds (and in my case, no taste !!)
 

Sean Jones

Well-Known Member
Interesting comments about who we sell to. I would consider the neighborhood I live in a very middle class suburban neighborhood. Yet there are a lot of brand new $70,000 trucks in the neighborhood and also a few 'vettes. (Though they are usually hidden in the garage).

I've spent money on guns that would horrify some non-gun people. And yet I can't remember the last time I bought a new pair of socks.

More food for thought. My client wants a quote soon and this is all helping. Thanks so much.
 

chrisstaniar

Well-Known Member
As Smallshop said this is great advice. I had to turn down work just yesterday. Had a new customer that received one of my knives and wanted to order 50 for Christmas presents for his vendors and customers. He’s a local businessman and a good guy. Was willing to pay very well for them. Had to explain to him that my yearly output is only around 40 knives and there was no way I could produce that many. I make knives because I enjoy it and the people associated with the craft. I’m not letting it turn into a stress filled job that I hate.

I took on a big project recently and won't likely do it again. It isn't quite as many as you were asked to do but still more than I normally do. Let's just say it's testing my abilities!! (and patience)
 

Gliden07

Well-Known Member
Recently had a potential customer ask me to build him a hidden tang with a guard but no handle! I considered it then said "NO", I don't know how good his skils are, what kind of wood he's using etc... So what happens I sell him the Blade blank and guard, he finishes the handle and guard does a substandard job, then someone says "WHO BUILT THAT KNIFE"? He says "STEPHEN RANTI AT RANTI KNIVES"!! Now I own his substandard work! NO WAY!!
 

Randy Lucius

Well-Known Member
Recently had a potential customer ask me to build him a hidden tang with a guard but no handle! I considered it then said "NO", I don't know how good his skils are, what kind of wood he's using etc... So what happens I sell him the Blade blank and guard, he finishes the handle and guard does a substandard job, then someone says "WHO BUILT THAT KNIFE"? He says "STEPHEN RANTI AT RANTI KNIVES"!! Now I own his substandard work! NO WAY!!
Yeah. No way I would have done that either. If he wants a blank there are many places to get one.
 

Chris Railey

Well-Known Member
I’m slowly increasing the price of my knives and I’ll continue to do so until sales slow down.
That is my current plan but I have tried to make an effort to be aware of profit. In other words I need to come out somewhat ahead or whats the point. I know the rednecks around here are not going to pay $450 for a skinning knife. In another location those rednecks might pay $450.
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
That is my current plan but I have tried to make an effort to be aware of profit. In other words I need to come out somewhat ahead or whats the point. I know the rednecks around here are not going to pay $450 for a skinning knife. In another location those rednecks might pay $450.
The internet is the solution. Create an online presence. There’s a whole world out there ready to spend money.
 
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