AA-ISP Senior Executive Retreat from Oct. 5-7, Sundance, UT

AA-ISP Executive RetreatThe AA-ISP Executive Retreat will be held in Sundance, UT from Oct. 5-7. The event is for sales leaders to learn more about selling. It is also a great opportunity to network and share ideas.

Topics and discussions will focus on leadership, staffing, and productivity development, as well as sales acceleration.

The special guest speaker will be Colonel (ret.) R. Patrick Kane, who will discuss leadership lessons from the battlefield. Other speakers will include Jason Jordan, Sales Management Expert and author, and David Sill, Senior VP, Customer Success at Discover.org.

Mr. Jordan is the author of Cracking the Sales Management Code: The Secrets to Measuring and Managing Sales Performance. The book discusses how those in sales management can improve performance of their sales teams.

Guy Wallace from EPPIC, a performance improvement consulting firm, called it an “excellent book” in his review.

Mr. Wallace writes that “for this book is all about the good and the bad numbers that Sales Organizations use and/or should use to manage Sales efforts. It provides clear guidance for thinking about Sales Metrics – how you might approach reestablishing yours.”

Tips for Sending Gifts to your Clients

gifts for business clientsWhen prospecting for new business, it’s not always enough just to make cold or warm calls, send emails or cards, or leave voicemails Sometimes you also have to send gifts.  After all, your goal is to make your client aware of you, stand out, and encourage him to do business with you. Of course, gifts alone are not enough – but it could make you stand out from the crowd from your competitors.

Let’s face it, your clients are busy. In order to grab their attention, you need to do something unique.

Below are some ground rules for gift-giving –

1). Inexpensive – send only inexpensive gifts. If you are sending a gift that’s too expensive, your client may interpret it as a bribe. However, your gift doesn’t have to be tacky. Be creative. Have a different assortment of gifts available and send one that you feel will really interest your client. And don’t forget to include a nice handwritten card.

2). Useful – send something that is useful or that he can give to his children to play with. Examples include a mousepad, magnet, pen, business card holder or letter opener with your company’s logo and contact information. When I worked for a durable medical equipment company, the owner created a round plastic measuring tool to help clients properly measure the size of bearings for chairs on wheelchairs and other equipment. Believe it or not, that tool was extremely popular and helped secure some large sales. I actually had clients who wanted to order large quantities of it to send to their customers!

3). Large prospects – focus on clients who you suspect will give you large or repeat orders over time. While there is nothing wrong with pursuing small clients, you want to target clients that will give you the most bang for your buck.

Below is a list of companies that are a good source for inexpensive gifts –

Poor Richards Promos
Oriental Trading

Gift-giving shouldn’t be just during the holidays. For your business clients, make it a year-long habit.

Note: If you like my post, please check out my book Advice for New Salespeople: Tips to Help your Sales Career for more help.

Social Media Strategies Summit from Sept. 23-24 , San Francisco

Social Media Strategies conferenceThe Social Media Strategies Summit will be held from September 23-24 in San Francisco.

Agenda items will include “Content creation – Becoming a storytelling marketer,” “Building cross-functional social media and content teams,” “Empowering your employees and fans,” “Craig Dodge Lite,” “Case Study: GoDaddy’s social content strategy and execution,” and “Funny or Die case study: Optimizing social engagements and reacting to results.”

Speakers will include Greg Schindler from Funny or Die, Crystal MacKenzie from Rotten Tomatoes, Marcel Santilli from HP, Jon Baugh from Target, Bruce Wilson from Trapit, Inc., Melissa Joy Kong from Product Hunt and Kirsten Chiala from Cisco.

The conference also has a series of excellent blogs. I recommend that you check them out.

Is your glass half empty or half full for Positive Thinking Day?

be positive, is the glass half empty or half fullSelling isn’t hard – it’s dealing with negative thoughts and attitudes that are hard. Sure, some will argue that sales are just a “numbers game” and that you should embrace rejection. But that’s easier said than done.

There is so much negativity associated with selling. While most salespeople are honest and hardworking, there are a lot of bad apples who make the rest of us look like sleazy losers. Like it or not, selling as a profession has a bad reputation.

So it’s tough not to come to work daily and not feel down on yourself. You make phone calls, you get rejected. You send out emails, they get deleted. You send out direct marketing pieces, they get thrown in the trash. You go on sales calls, and no one answers the door. While you do all the basics, like doing your pre-call research, asking good qualifying questions, determining needs, finding pain points, and overcoming objections, you know from experience you have to dig through a lot of dirt to find gold.

As a result, negative feelings behind to boil up. You start saying to yourself, “maybe I wasn’t cut out to be in sales,” or “maybe it’s not too late to go to law school,” or “maybe working behind a cash register isn’t so bad after all.”

Wake up. Snap out of it. Today is Positive Thinking Day. Today erase all of those negative thoughts and feelings and focus on being positive.

Is positive thinking difficult? No. But only if you make it so.

According to Health CheatSheet, in its article “6 Health Benefits of Positive Thinking,” having positive thoughts can do the following for you –

1). Increase your lifespan
2). Improve resistance to the common cold
3). Lower cholesterol
4). Reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular disease
5). Improve coping skills during hardships and stressful or depressing times
6). Slow aging

And if that’s not enough to convince you, you can always read the classic The Power of Positive Thinking: 10 Traits for Maximum Results, by Norman Vincent Peale. 

In his bestseller, the author argues that the keys to positive thinking include believing in yourself and everything that you do, improve your personal and professional relationships, and be kind to yourself.

Not bad advice.

As for the origins of the day, according to the International Business Times, Positive Thinking Day was started by Dr. Kirsten Harrell, a psychologist and life coach, and owner of ipopin.com, an online source of one-minute affirmations.

So have a happy Positive Thinking Day!

Any good ideas for National Swap Ideas Day?

National Swap Idea Day for salespeopleOne of the challenges of working in sales or any occupation is swapping ideas. Some of us like to jealously guard our ideas and not share them with our co-workers or upper management. Others are very open about exchanging ideas. And finally, there are a few who are reluctant to make suggestions for fear of being criticized or fired.

In the spirit of National Swap Ideas Day (which is held every September 10th), let’s make this a day of openly exchanging ideas and suggestions with one another.

Based on my research, no one knows the exact origin of National Swap Ideas Day. However, some believe it was created by Robert Louis Birch, who is also credited for creating other strange holidays including “Lumpy Rug Day,” “Trivia Day,” and “Nothing Day.” Mr. Birch was a retired librarian from the U.S. Patent Office Scientific Library and the National Agricultural Library.

The obvious purpose of National Swap Ideas Day is to get everyone to share thoughts and concepts.  This can be done on a one-to-one basis or in a group environment. There are no rules, so everyone is encouraged to be creative and think outside the box. For those who may too shy about offering their ideas, maybe you should create a permanent suggestion box in the office.

To learn more about making suggestions in the workplace, please check out this post from Six Sigma Online (Aveta Business Institute) called “Demonstrations of Success – How to Correctly Offer Suggestions in the Workplace.” And here’s another post from Think IT Association called “5 Ways to Offer Suggestions to Your Supervisor (without getting fired!).”

To help you further, please read The Idea-Driven Organization: Unlocking the Power in Bottom-Up Ideas by Alan G. Robinson and Dean M. Schroeder.

They make the argument that employees can offer insights to help make a business grow and become more successful.

And finally, to make the day even more interesting, there is actually a hashtag that you can use on Twitter – #NationalSwapIdeasDay.

5 Companies to Help you Write Thank You Notes

Thank you cards for salespeopleIn the age of emails, writing and sending out Thank you notes is becoming a lost art. I wrote two posts recently about the importance of sending thank you cards. But let’s say you’re busy, and you don’t have the time to compose a nice card.

No worries. There are actually companies that will do that for you for a small fee.

Below is a list of five (5) companies that I found –

1). MailLift claims that nearly 900 companies are currently using their service. With each letter handwritten (no fonts), they guarantee that each one is reviewed by two or three people before being mailed. To further enhance quality control, each letter is also photographed. And to make your thank you letter even more authentic, each one is shipped from your location with a local postmark.

MailLift can even help you automate your mailing by integrating with Salesforce.com, HubSpot, Marketo, Infusionsoft, and Zoho.

And finally, MailLift can send your clients swag such as books or T-shirts for an additional fee.

Pricing starts at $6.00 for a single letter. However, if you have more ambitious plans, they offer three programs for Prospecting Letters, Marketing Automation, and Sales Automation. The prices for those services range from $250.00 to $2,000.00, with monthly plans and a one-time setup fees.

Still not convinced? You can even request a free sample letter.

2). Postable does not offer handwritten letters, but you can select from 20 different handwriting fonts. You can import addresses from Excel, Gmail, Yahoo! Outlook, and other sources. You can select not just Thank you cards, but cards for other occasions, including Birthdays, Holidays, Weddings, Congratulations, or even Blank cards where you can upload and do your own design. Postable will print, stuff, stamp and mail the cards for you. Unlike MailLift, they cannot mail the cards with your local postmark; however, they will mail your cards to you and you can send them out yourself.

If you need help on how to write a card, they offer advice on their blog posts “Tips and Tricks.”

Prices range from $3.00 for a single card on up to $2.00 per card for five or more cards.

thank you cards by salespeople3). Handiemail states on their website that “in an age of emailing, texting and social media, we believe that sending real handwritten mail, both personally and professionally, is more important than ever.” Like MailLift, each letter is handwritten – no fonts. And like MailLift, Handiemail also photographs your final letter and reviews it before it’s mailed. You will receive an email once your letter is sent, along with a photo as proof for your records.  The Chicago based company will also work with large-scale orders.

Pricing for a single letter mailed domestically costs $9.95 or $10.95 internationally. If your letter is more than 230 words, they request that you complete their price quote form.

4). The Handwritten Card guarantees that each card is “100% genuinely handwritten by a real person using a real pen.” In fact, they show you handwritten samples of their work on their website. You can select a cursive or printed script. You can compose your own message or they can help you. They will also scan and email you a copy of the card once it’s completed.

Unlike some thank you letter companies, they emphasize that they are a card service and that your note should be of no more than 25 to 40 words in length. You can either use their “100% cotton stationery” or yours. While the Cincinnati based company will only mail from their post office, you can request to have the finished card mailed to you if you want to send it from your local post office. And finally, unlike some companies, they will not put their advertising on your card which they feel is “too cheesy.”

The pricing starts at $5.00 per card. If you want larger orders or have special requests, please contact them.

5). That’s Gratitude not only provides personalized handwritten cards and letters but can also help you with branding and print services. For example, the Maryland based company can help you with ads, postcards, brochures, catalogs, booklets and more. Unlike some companies mentioned here, they don’t mail your cards for you. Instead, they send them back to you stamped and ready for you to send directly from your local post office.

Like most companies mentioned here, you can either use their stationery or provide your own. They also provide handwritten stationery for other occasions, including weddings and holidays.

For business clients, they don’t provide pricing on their website. While there are no minimum orders, they prefer to have their business client’s work on a retainer arrangement based “on an average quantity.” They recommend that new business clients sign a four-month trial agreement.

To help you further when it comes to writing Thank you notes, please check out Kelly Browne’s book 101 Ways to Say Thank You: Notes of Gratitude for All Occasions.

Also, here are two articles on how to write effective Thank you notes –

“Write Memorable Thank You Notes: 8 Steps,” by Nathan Parcells, and “How to Write a Thank-You Note,” by Trent Hamm.

Note: If you like this post, please check out my book – Advice for New Salespeople: Tips to Help your Sales Career for more help.