When I started doing marketing work here at the shop, I got some advice from my dear Uncle Bill, who used to work in advertising.
He suggested I start sending personalized thank-you notes to each customer who made an order. I immediately saw the use of such an action.
By writing thank you notes, we not only show the customer that we care enough to thank them in such a personal manner, but we also encourage them to continue doing business with us.
In other words, being nice sells.
We write thank-you notes to show appreciation for our customers, thus fostering feelings of endearment, which paves the way for future sales.
If your mom made you write thank-you notes after your birthday and Christmas, I’m you sure you have memories of not particularly enjoying the experience. I know I do.
But now I’m glad my mother made me write such notes. They were good practice for my current habit of sending thank-you notes to each customer that gives us an order.
The chief reason for writing thank-you notes is simply to express thanks. It’s the nice thing to do, just as if you thanked someone verbally for returning your wallet after you dropped it.
Bestselling author Guy Kawasaki, former chief evangelist at Apple, opines that being nice also gives you “Good Karma.” Someone, somewhere, somehow, will be affected by your niceness, which will in turn benefit you.
By being nice to your customers, you give them a reason to be nice in return.
For them, being “nice” might come in the form of referring a friend to your business, buying from you again in the future, or talking you up on social media.
Furthermore, people usually want to do business with their friends. What could be more friendly than sending a personalized, handwritten thank-you note?
In today’s day and age, word of your attentive customer relations work will easily get around, earning you the respect and admiration of customers and fellow businessmen alike.
On a slightly more tangible level, writing thank-you notes will help you retain repeat customers.
Repeat customers are your biggest source of income, and being especially nice to them will be extraordinarily helpful for making more sales and raking in the dough.
With all this in mind, the best thing you can do is to compile a list of your top ten customers and personally thank each of them for their business with a handwritten note.
Repeat this with every order you get for the next six months, and then see how you’re doing.
After months of fruitless cold-calling, I finally got in touch with someone who was interested in sitting down to talk about doing business with the shop.
My initial response to any receptive prospect is elation. But as the details of a face-to-face meeting were slowly hashed out, I began to quiver.
I’d never been on a sales call before, and apart from reading a book or two on the subject, I had nearly no knowledge of how to sell stuff.
It got to the point where I welcomed delays and half-wished that the set date would be cleared at the last minute to avoid the impending awkwardness.
Fortunately, my fears never materialized. The meeting went well, the quote was negotiated, and the sale was closed.
Sales calls may sound scary to the inexperienced, but good preparation, coaching from a more experienced partner, and sheer persistence will enable you to overcome these fears.
Before we went to the meeting, we made sure to be as prepared as we could. “We” in this case means my grandfather and I, who worked together on this sale. Grandpa is our Goodwill Ambassador, and an experienced salesman and printer.
We brainstormed questions to ask our prospective client, checking and re-checking them to make sure they were on the right target.
We worked out a basic outline for how we wanted the meeting to go, what we needed to find out, and how we would work together. We agreed that I should do most of the talking while Grandpa worked as backup.
It should be understood that everyone who is just starting out in any field should find a mentor. Your mentor should have several more years of experience than you and have the heart of a teacher.
I found such a mentor in my grandfather.
Grandpa proved invaluable to this sales call. His advice and insight into the matter was essential in the preparation process. During the meeting, he was able to provide valuable product knowledge that cemented our rapport with the client.
The long and short of it is that without Grandpa, I would be quite lost in my pursuit of the sale. I’m glad he’s around.
The final piece of advice that I can offer as a novice salesperson is to be persistent.
Although I was afraid of being seen as boorish and rude by the prospect, it turns out that she was impressed by my determination to secure a meeting, not to mention my courteous manner. This helped us build rapport, which in turn led to the sale.
The lesson here to be bold. Don’t be afraid to pick up that phone start calling. Once you get a viable lead, make sure to not only differentiate yourself from the competition, but to do it nicely.
With the correct preparation, a good mentor, and a plucky attitude, I was able to secure a new client. With luck, I’ll learn from the mistakes we made during this sale (we nearly forgot to bring samples) and to study what we did right.
Having learned all of this from just one meeting, I now hope to apply my knowledge for the purpose of arranging more meetings.
This last weekend, my boss and I helped as volunteers for the Downtown Renton Committee's annual Halloween party.
A public event aimed at kids and families, it was a tremendous success, thanks in part to volunteers from Renton High School and participating local businesses.
My boss frequently involves me in the volunteer work he does for such events, he being a member of the DT Renton Committee. But it was only at this event did I realize the innate benefits volunteering can yield.
At the Halloween party, a series of tents were set up in the empty lot behind St. Charles’ Place. Games and activities were arranged. Prizes were awarded. Food was served.
Having nothing better to do, I went to help at the Cake Walk. The Cake Walk involves several kids walking around on squares with numbers on them on the ground while music is playing, and then all of them stopping right where they are the second the music stops.
The person who stopped on the number I called out got a prize. I soon got the hang of it and began to have a little fun myself.
To the assortment of kids in elementary school or younger, I shouted, “Are you ready?”
They replied weakly, “Yeah…”
“I can’t hear you!”
“Yeah!” came their shout.
It dawned on me that my enthusiasm was contagious, which brings me to a rule I have about salesmanship: If you don’t care, they won’t care.
So I helped the kids march around the cakewalk, operated the music player, handed out prizes to the lucky winners, shooed would-be thieves away from the prize table, and kept them all entertained.
When the crowd began to disperse from my assigned attraction, I knew I had to change tactics.
I immediately went into pitchman mode.
“Come to the Cake Walk!” I shouted. “Win a prize! Get something good to eat!” (Benefits!)
Curious passerby immediately stopped. “Come on, we need people for the Cake Walk!” I said. “The more the merrier!” Soon, we had enough people, and we began to play again.
At another attraction I got to exercise my customer service skills. Here, kids had to throw bean-bags through holes in a giant pumpkin-shaped target.
After taking it over, I made sure that all the kids stood on the right spot, gave some brief instruction on throwing technique, and awarded prizes based on how well they did.
During this activity, I made sure to learn the kids’ names, inform them of the rules, and enthusiastically congratulate them on their progress. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but that’s my idea of customer service!
So if you’re a job-seeker, a business owner, or a regular employee, don’t hesitate to get in some volunteer work!
You’ll not only find it rewarding, but you’ll also get to practice soft skills related to customer service, salesmanship, and leadership.
Also, a belated happy Halloween to you all!
Marketing Director at the Renton Printery. Providing advice on print-buying and business, along with notes on the state of the shop.