Thanksgiving is Here: Should I Take Off?

We know it’s tempting to stretch a holiday from one or two days to a full week.  Family is home, there are things to prepare for the holiday and it’s a great time to relax and recharge for the next week.

We say, “Don’t do it. Go into the office to get some work done!”  This is what we recommend you do Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of next week.

  • Monday—clean off your desk and clean out your office /cubicle. Have a large trash can handy because you will need it. Make a stack of important papers, order copies, Post-It notes and review your messages that require follow-up. Return samples to the showroom and refile catalogs. Disinfect your desk, phone, and calculator. Have lunch with co-workers and let them know how thankful you are for their help and friendship.
  • Tuesday—late start today! Review your stack of papers from Monday for follow-up. Touch these papers only once, listing to-do’s, calls and questions. These papers are heading for the trash or recycling can after one touch. When you are finished with this task, next review all of your pending orders and make sure they are on track for holiday delivery. Contact your clients to wish them a happy Thanksgiving and assure them their holiday orders are moving along as scheduled.
  • Wednesday—this is a half-day!! Your office is clean, your holiday orders are on track, you contacted key clients and enjoyed lunch with your co-workers. Make your to-do list for the Monday after Thanksgiving so you will hit the ground running when you return to the office.  At the top of a legal pad, write “Sales Plan”.  You will start on this on December 1st.

Enjoy the rest of the week with your family and friends.  We will get into your Sales Planning process soon in another post! Remember that a plan is just a dream until you write it down!

Effective Time Management

Top 5 Tips of Effective Time Management

What if I told you that how you use your time dramatically affects your income and the level of success you achieve in your career?

Well, that is exactly what I am telling you! You must take control of your time to take control of your income and career. Only then will you have the focus you need for success. Here’s how you get started.

To-Do Lists

End each day with the 5 actions items you must accomplish the following day. 4 out of 5 of these actions must be revenue generating.  If they are not revenue generating, rewrite your list.

Controlling In-Bound Communication

I know, you are very social and love to catch up with suppliers and CSRs at your office, and it’s great to chat with the occasional customer who might call.  Are these conversations on your daily list? Probably not. This is about taking control to build a business, not about instant responsiveness.

  • Forward your land line to voicemail.  Check it 3 times each day and respond only if urgent.
  • Silence your cell phone ringer and text notification. Check it 3 times each day and respond only if urgent.
  • Review incoming mail over a trash can, pitch what is irrelevant and save what you need to review for Friday afternoon when the pace is slower.

Allocate time for the following activities each week

  • Client research and prospecting
  • Order follow-up and “thank you’s”
  • Product research/quotes
  • Social media interaction
  • Brief check-ins with your team—CSRs, graphics, AR, referral sources
  • Face-to-face with 1-2 clients

Managing your time involves changing your clients expectations.  You can do this easily with a holiday “thank you” note.

“Hi Jane, Thank you so much for your business and friendship this year!  You are the reason I love my job so much.  In 2015, I have set aside Thursday afternoons to focus exclusively on helping you with your promotional calendar. I really look forward to kicking this off on 1/8/15, and know it will make your life easier….”

Fire time wasting clients.  You know who they are and it’s time you set them free to get better service elsewhere.

“Hi Steve—starting in 2015, I have changed the focus of my business and no longer embroider the 6 fishing team shirts you buy at Costco once a year.  ABC Embroidery is happy to help with that—here is their number.”

Most promotional product sales reps will tell you that time management is a major weakness of theirs. Most will tell you that they want to improve their time management skills. They will listen to a talk on the subject and read the handout material. It is rare for a sales rep to improve their time management skills. Why?  They can’t keep up, they don’t have the time, they can’t get organized, not enough hours in the day, they’re working on it.

You can be the one who improves their time management skills, increases their income and achieves greater career success. Just get started now and stick with it!

How to Write a Resume That Will Land You Any Job

How to Write a Resume That Will Land You Any Job

A resume is an ink and paper representation of your career. During the job search it can be the key to your next job. Like most things in the business world, it’s a good idea to stick with proven best practices. Below are several time-tested rules of resume writing.

Keep it simple and clean. Your resume should be built on your experience and accomplishments. It doesn’t need graphics, artwork, or “personality”. The structure and font that you choose does make a difference. Keep it orderly and easy to read. Nothing should detract from the content.

Include all pertinent contact information. This includes your cell phone number, personal email address and home address. Some younger candidates include social media handles. That can be helpful, but isn’t necessary in the promotional product industry.

Tell the reader what you want. This is your objective. Your objective needs to be a strong, bold statement about 1-2 sentences long. Follow this with your summary. This should be 4-5 sentences and tell the reader what they can expect to get from you.

Focus on your accomplishments, not your duties. Don’t tell the reader what you did, tell them what you got done.

If you can’t quantify it, it doesn’t exist. In the world of resumes, numbers are king. You grew your sales? Great. How much? You managed a team of sales rep. Cool. How many? Put a number to everything!

Many employers and recruiters will load your resume into a database immediately. They’ll use this database to search for job candidates just like you and I use Google. Take advantage of this and make sure that your resume contains keywords that make sense for the position that you want.

Your resume is not one size fits all. You need to customize, customize, customize! Customize it for each job and each company that you are applying for.

No matter what job you are applying for you have to highlight your qualifications for that specific position. Make it very obvious to the reader that you have everything they could want in an employee.

Resumes can quickly become stale and out of date. Set a recurring reminder to update your resume every 3 months.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, looks worse than grammatical or spelling errors in a resume. It shouts “Unprofessional!” Please proofread and have 2 others proofread it as well.

Promote yourself! Resumes are not for being humble or giving credit to others. Own your accomplishments and SELL THE READER! Provide all the evidence needed to convince even the most skeptical reader that you will be a difference maker for their business!

8 Signs That You Work in a Dysfunctional Office

Do You Work in a Dysfunctional Office?

Promotional product sales offices are crazy places. They have a unique dynamic that drives the culture, mood and productivity of sales reps and assistants who call the office home.  The tone of the office is set by the onsite sales manager, office manager or regional executive who is responsible for providing a productive home for all employees. Unfortunately, intra-office dynamics can develop that detract from productivity and camaraderie of the sales office.

In other words, some offices suck.

Do you work in a dysfunctional office? Here are the 8 warning signs:

  1. Whispering and gossip between employees
  2. Closed office doors
  3. Lack of sales support from your manager
  4. Staff who say, “That’s not my job!”
  5. Ideas and creativity are not shared between sales reps
  6. Flare-ups of overwrought emotions, including anger, tears, frustration and neglect
  7. Shared office chores aren’t completed because some feel put upon
  8. There is no sense of common mission or team spirit

You need to be aware of these signs of dysfunction and meet with company management to address your concerns. Ultimately the mission is to serve your clients.  If your office isn’t supporting your efforts, you owe it to yourself and your company to change things.

10 Tips That Will Get Your Client Presentations In Great Shape

10 Tips That Will Get Your Client Presentations In Great Shape

Big orders, career changing orders, usually require some sort of face-to-face meeting. With much at stake email will simply not do. Presentations are the way to go if you absolutely, positively must win a big order. However, standing in front of a professional audience can be intimidating. Follow these 10 simple tips and you’ll greatly improve your presentation skills and your chances of winning that big order!

  1. Preparation matters! Know your material, know your audience, and know what questions or objections might come up.
  2. Dress to impress. If you don’t look like an expert, you’re already in the hole.
  3. Don’t rely on live demos. If you’re presenting an online store, always use screenshots. The number one guideline with technology is that it will always fail at the worst possible time.
  4. Don’t rely on call-in participants. If you can’t be in the room for the presentation then butt out. Bad reception, missed calls, calling at the wrong time and loud background noise are just a few of the problems you can create when you call in.
  5. Avoid text-filled slides. Images can capture the imagination. Use them liberally.
  6. If PowerPoint is your game, keep it under 20 slides.
  7. Be repetitive! Tell them. Tell them what you told them. Then summarize what you told them.
  8. Keep your audience focused on you. You and what you are saying are the only things that matter. Handouts are a big distraction and can wait until later.
  9. Interject your personality. Robots can regurgitate information. Be a human and make a connection with your audience.
  10. Know who the real decision maker is and find a way to connect with him or her.

What other tips have contributed to your success in client presentations?