Welcome to the Golden State Activewear blog. As you build your apparel company, you need to be a garment and decoration expert. Through our brand-new blog, Golden Nugget, you’ll find in-depth details on fashion trends, fabrics 101, decoration tips, sales and marketing strategies, inspiration for building your decorated-apparel business, and so much more!

Superstar Selling Strategies

Superstar Selling Strategies

When a customer asks for a “white T-shirt” do you just take the order, or do you dig deeper to find out if an alternate garment or additional items would help them out more? If you want to increase your average order volume and provide great service to your customers, try value-based selling.

We’ve got four proven ways—upselling, cross-selling, using the good-better-best scenario and presenting full outfits—that master apparel sellers use to increase order volume. Plus, they ensure repeat customers, since they take the time to match their clients needs and outcomes to the exact right decorated-apparel options for their needs.


The Scenario: A customer asks to see some basic pullover sweatshirts for a thank-you gift for their top customers.

Your Response: You say, “To make maximum impact on your most important customers, have you considered a fashion fleece sweatshirt or hoodie?”

How to Do It: When you upsell, you’re encouraging a customer to spend a little more on an upgraded or premium version of the original T-shirt or hoodie they requested. A good rule of thumb is to avoid recommending an item that costs significantly more than the customer’s original budget. Instead, focus on their needs and provide an upgraded item that also adds value.

If you meet with your customer in person or sell virtually, be sure to show side-by-side comparisons of the garments so your buyer can make an educated decision, along with the value of the premium item.

If you have an e-commerce site, you can show browsers similar, upgraded items to the one they’ve searched to give them additional options.

Our Product Suggestions: Softness and printability are key in fleece styles. You can pitch upgraded fabric types and blends to hit both notes.

First, show your clients French Terry options. This super-soft knitted terry cloth fabric has loops and soft piles of yarn on one side (usually on the inside), and a smooth hand on the other. The result? A lightweight, absorbent, moisture-wicking material that recipients can wear all year. We recommend these diverse French Terry styles from Independent Trading Co. and Next Level Apparel, where you can find men’s, women’s and unisex styles to fit any end-users.

When you upsell, you’re encouraging a customer to spend a little more on an upgraded or premium version of the original T-shirt or hoodie they requested.

These tri-blend fleece styles from Bella+Canvas are exceptionally soft since they’re made from a polyester, combed and ring-spun cotton and rayon blend. One style to note: The Women's Sponge Fleece Wide Neck Sweatshirt (style 7501). Feminine, cozy and versatile, this sweatshirt is designed with an exceptionally plush fabrication, in a classic pullover fit with a wide neck that can be worn pulled off the shoulder. It’s made from 50% polyester, 37.5% combed and ring-spun cotton 12.5% rayon tri-blend and 30 singles 8.2 oz. sponge fleece.

We're also digging Independent Trading Co's Special Blend styles, made from a 52% cotton/48% polyester 8 oz. fleece with a 30 single polyester/cotton blend facing for an unmatched softness.

Before your client chooses a unisex style for all recipients, remind them that there are lots of women's fashion-forward fleece styles from in-demand brands like Bella+Canvas, Next Level Apparel and Independent Trading Co. These pieces include popular crop, wide neck and full-zip styles.

Here's another great upselling idea if your client started with a basic sweatshirt: Show off other full- and half-zip jacket styles. We love these lightweight nylon windbreakers and polyester jacket options from Independent Trading Co.


The Scenario: A customer calls you and wants to order a T-shirt for an employee sales retreat.

Your Response: You say, "Yes, I can definitely help you out with that. Have you thought about pairing that comfy T-shirt with a cap or bag?" 

How to Do It: Cross-selling is a smart sales tactic that helps you generate more sales when you suggest additional items to a customer who's already committed to buying one shirt from you. When you say, "Would you also like a hat or bag" you naturally open up a conversation to an already-hot buyer with items that all of their recipients will love and use.

If you have an e-commerce site, you can also set up this functionality to enhance the browsing or buying experience by showing a shopper complementary items that raise the value of the initial purchase. 

Cross-selling is a smart sales tactic that helps you generate more sales when you suggest additional items to a customer who’s already committed to buying one T-shirt style from you.

Cross-selling also shows your buyer additional product categories you offer.

Our Product Suggestions: First up, caps. There are lots of styles that appeal to men and women, including Dad caps, Richardson's laid-back trucker styles, and popular multicam styles, reflecting what we're seeing at retail. Your customer can brand the cap with their logo, event name and year, and give employees a trendy hat that they'll wear at and after the retreat.

At Golden State, natural or neutral-tone bags are among our best sellers this year. Great for both genders, your client can add a full-color logo and message to a trendy tote that recipients will reach for again and again. Here are three styles we love from Liberty Bags: Star of India Cotton Canvas Tote (style 8866), Isabella Canvas Tote with Square Bottom Gusset (style 8503) and Branson Bargain Cotton Canvas Tote (style 8502).


The Scenario: Your client tells you she wants a T-shirt for a community event, but is very budget-conscious. 

Your Response: After asking your buyer questions about the event, the recipients and the "ideal" T-shirt, you decide to present three T-shirts at different price points, so that you can present the value and functionality of each.

How to Do It: Your goal is to encourage your client to spend a little more per shirt to get a longer-lasting product. Industry research shows that people keep T-shirts they love an average of 14 months. These garments generate an average of 3,400 brand impressions over their lifetime, as recipients wear them out and about. 

This is also a good time to brush up on your knowledge of fabrications, so that you can explain the difference between open-ended cotton vs. ring-spun cotton, for example. Open-end is a more budget-friendly way of turning cotton into yarn; the end result fiber is bulky and can create an uneven knit. Ring-spun cotton is smoother, since the yarn goes through a spinning process that softens and straightens each fiber, resulting in a much softer (and more wearable) fabric. 

Cotton jersey vs. slub jersey is another comparison you should know. Cotton jersey is the most common knit, but weight is important, as garments range from extremely lightweight (5 oz.) to heavy (12 oz.). Slub cotton jersey is a unique fabric that appears to have slight lumps, resulting from twisting the cotton before weaving. Slub jersey T-shirts are very lightweight and don't cling to the body.

Finally, while lots of buyers request white T-shirts, show your client how color adds a whole new dimension and wearability factor to their shirts. They can even match the shirt color to their brand or event colors.

Our Product Suggestions: Gildan offers a wide selection of T-shirt styles, so here are our recommendations when you want to show a client a price, value and quality range. For the "good" style, we recommend Gildan's Heavy Cotton Tee (style 5000), a classic open-ended cotton tee that's popular with buyers across the country. For a "better" style, we like our best-selling Gildan Ultra Cotton Tee (style 2000), also made from open-ended cotton. For a "best" tee option, try the semi-fitted Gildan SoftStyle Tee (style 64000), made of lightweight, soft ring-spun cotton. For buyers who also want to outfit kids in a similar style, show them the mini-me Gildan SoftStyle Youth Tee (style 64500B).

You can also impress your client with a new style like the Gildan Hammer Tee (style H000), for example. The Hammer Tee, made of ring-spun cotton, carries a streetwear vibe and comes in a heavier fabrication. (Fun fact: When Gildan acquired American Apparel, the substantial and soft Hammer Tee is the only product name that remained the same.)


The Scenario: Your brewery client asks you to show him some uniform shirts for their staffers.

Your Response: You take the initiative and present head-to-toe looks for male and female employees—including hats, shirts, joggers and flannels. 

How to Do It: When you show your brewery buyer complete uniform looks for all of his employees, it's easy for him to envision how employees will represent the brand and provide a unified look to patrons. Plus, your buyer can save money by ordering full uniforms, rather than doing it piecemeal.

Before you choose these looks, ask your client about their brand vibe, their culture and how they like employees to dress, so you can pick out just the right looks. In addition, some companies offer employees a choice of several shirts or hats, so take that into consideration when you're presenting your looks.

Our Product Suggestions: For T-shirts, the 100% cotton Bella+Canvas Unisex Jersey Tee (style 3001) in more than 40 colors and in sizes from XS to 3XL is a great choice for men and women. For a perfect women's companion,  try the Bella+Canvas Unisex Jersey Tee (style 6400) in 100% Airlume cotton and more than 25 colors.

Flannel's so in right now and it'll definitely make great uniform addition for breweries and beyond. For the guys, show these complementary styles in Red/Black Buffalo (there are other on-trend color combos available: Burnside Men's Yarn Dyed Long Sleeve Flannel Shirt and Burnside Women's Yarn Dyed Long Sleeve Flannel Shirt (style 5210). These modern-fit flannels are made of 100% cotton and feature roll-up sleeves with button placket.

For guys' pants, show the Burnside Fleece Joggers (style 8800) and for the ladies present the Bella+Canvas Unisex Poly-Cotton Jogger Sweatpants (style 3727). You can also pair these with Bella+Canvas sweatshirts for on- and off-duty situations.

Finally, check out the retail-inspired hat styles that we mentioned earlier, including Dad caps, Richardson's laid-back trucker styles, and popular multicam styles.

Bottom line? Smart apparel sellers know selling's a two-way street. To create repeat, loyal customers, dig deeper to find the exact right apparel that melds style, value and ROI.

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