My Love Affair With LinkedIn

10 09 2010

I am always astounded when people tell me that they do not “need” LinkedIn.  That’s crap.  Unless you live under a bridge and plan to keep it that way, everybody (especially sales people!) can benefit from using LinkedIn.  This is going to be just a brief overview – LinkedIn 101 if you will.  If you aren’t yet sure about the whole “social networking thing” here are a some key ways you can build your business using LinkedIn.  If this doesn’t convince you, maybe you do belong under a bridge. 

  • Instant Credibility

Imagine being able to present a brag book of your accomplishments and accolades to your prospect along with every single proposal.  Imagine having an interactive resume to send along to a job interview.  Now realize that you already have that ability by simply utilizing the tools on LinkedIn.  Your LinkedIn profile is a snapshot of your career.  Between the recommendations that you (should) have, the professional picture that you (should) have, and the job history that you (should) have listed – you have the opportunity to demonstrate your unshakable credibility based on past performance. 

  • Network Expansion

Like the picture above, LinkedIn allows you to view your professional network, and even goes further to allow you access to your network’s professional network.   Want to meet someone but don’t have a direct connection?  Request an introduction from your common connection!  It doesn’t get any simpler than this.

  • Jobs Jobs Jobs!

If you are in the job market, don’t waste your time on Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com or any of those other waste-of-time “job” sites.  Get the job you want by using the “Jobs” section of LinkedIn.  Fortune 500 companies list executive level jobs on LikedIn.  The application process is streamlined – simply write a cover letter and send your profile along.  Recruiters love to be able to see what your comprehensive profile and I can tell you from personal experience – if done correctly you will get an interview every single time.

  • Prospecting

Ever want to find the name of the decision maker of a new account?  It can be very expensive or nearly impossible.  With LinkedIn you simply do a combination search of the company and the job title to get to the profile of your target.  Learn about their job history, school, and other pertinent information that will help you build rapport.  Furthermore, you can look to see how your network connects with their network and even orchestrate an introduction. 

  • Groups

I know I already mentioned Network Expansion above… but it gets even better.  LinkedIn has forums for people to connect called “Groups.”  You can connect based on your Alma Mater, Greek Affiliation, Industry, Hobbies… the list goes on.  Once in a Group, you can view the profiles of everyone else in the Group whether they are a direct connection in your network or not.  Again, sales people take note!  This is a wonderful tool for you to get in front of the right people at big organizations.  They may not take a call from Joe Salesrep, but they will read a message from fellow Group Member Joe Participates-a-Lot. 

 

So what are you waiting for?  Get going!  Follow the simple instructions at  www.linkedin.com and start to get all the benefits of this great online community.    Oh, and be sure to add me:  

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Facebook is, Like, Amazing!

27 04 2010

Once a mode of speech reserved only for valley girls and the cast of the hit 90’s movie Clueless, Facebook has taken the term “Like” to a whole new level.  Market researchers everywhere are honing in on the massive amount of “Like” information being made available to them from the over 400 million Facebook users.  If you have yet to, like, get clued in on this amazing new tool for social media promotion you should check out this comprehensive article:

Facebook’s Like a Timebomb

As a sales person, this information can be used to help you identify new prospects, build rapport with new prospects by identifying their interests, and  as a means of promoting your services!  And now – my turn to try to figure out how to add a “Like” button to my blog.





Press Checks for Dummies: Part 2

26 04 2010

Here is a general guide of things to look for on a press check.  Print for your own use or give to new clients!

 

Color – verify color against the color proof and/or PMS swatch for match.  Feel free to fold the press sheet.  Be sure to look at the proof AND the press sheet under the color specific lighting of the lightbox. 

  1. As this is a 4-color build of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (CMYK), be sure to only ask for adjustments with those colors.  Don’t ask for more “green” but ask questions that specify what you want the end result to be:  “if we add more yellow, will it make this green lighter?”
  2. Pay close attention to flesh tones- they can be tricky.
  3. Oversaturation of one color can make the rest of the sheet look muddy – be mindful of this as you check the sheet.
  4. Remember that the pressmen are not able to fix design issues, only adjust colors.

The Register

Registration –checking that the CMYK plates are all in register or in line.  Pull out your magnifying loupe (or ask to borrow the pressman’s) and check to see that all colors are lining up properly. 

A great way to verify registration is to check the circular register mark in the corner of the sheet. Also look at the edges of bold text.

Paper – Is this the paper you ordered?  Pick it up, feel it, fold it.  Keep in mind that these sheets will still have wet ink on them and the sheet may be slightly different when the ink is dried.

  1. Hold it up to the light to see if the ink has run through.
  2. Know that uncoated sheets will NOT match the color proof as the color translates differently onto coated and uncoated sheets.

Clarity – Using the magnifying loupe again, verify that the dots are sharp and clear when using a coated sheet, and reasonably clear on an uncoated sheet.  As with registration, the text is the great way to view clarity both from a distance and close up.

Magnified Ink Dots

  1.  Be sure that the ink is laying smoothly through the solid blocks of color and gradients are smooth.

  Other Details:

  1. Varnish or Coating: Look for a slight change in the gloss of the paper at the edge of the sheet to see if it has been applied
  2. Hickies:  Stray spots or irregularities in ink coverage causing small white circles.
  3.  Scumming and Ghosting: Ink or images appear in unwanted places

Above all, feel free to ask the pressman questions – this is his area of expertise and he wants this project to look good just as much as you do!

 





Best “Out Of Office” Response EVER

12 04 2010

We have all seen the generic “I am out of the office until May 12th and will get back with you at my earliest convenience”  out of the office replies.  Yesterday I received an automatic response that made me stop and read it twice thinking Wow – here is a rep who is leveraging her abundant personality with her value proposition even when she is out of town!  I promptly replied to her email telling her that I loved it and that I was going to steal it.  Please read below:  

“I am glad that you contacted me and look forward to speaking with you, but please note that I am currently out of the office and will return April 7th. You are important to me and I DO believe that Western is the best company to assist you, so in my absence… 

For NEW quotes, contact my colleague Vince Navarro at (713) 407.5213 or vnavarro@westernlithograph.com. He has been in the industry for 25+ years, so he can get your project going smoothly until I return. 

For PROJECTS IN PROGRESS, contact my CSR Scott Hill at (713) 407.5267 or shill@westernlithograph.com. He is my “right hand,” so be assured that you are definitely in good company! 

Thank you. 

Stephanie R. Hood” 

Now if that doesn’t impress you, I don’t know what will.  





Creative Pre-Call Experiment #2 – Be a Pill

4 12 2009

For those of you who saw my very first Creative Pre-Call Experiment from a few weeks back, you know that I am a firm believer in a small element of “cheese” when trying to charm your way in front of a new client.   Everyone is busy and everyone is bombarded by sales people on a daily basis.  That is why YOU need to set yourself apart from the first moment the potential client (aka Target) comes across your name.

You can use these pill bottles to creatively position yourself as the “prescription” to relive the PAIN that your buyers feel.

This Experiment takes a bit more prep then the first one, but is definitely impressive at the end.

Be a Pill

Materials:

  • Actual Pharmacy prescription Pill Bottles
  • Large Bag M&Ms
  • Avery Label Paper (I used Template 5163 2″x4″)
  • Envelopes – your company colors preferred
  • Clear plastic bags (about lunch-bag sized)

Tools:

  • Stapler
  • Gloves

Assembly Instructions:

  1. Obtain prescription Pill Bottles.  After scouring local stores and realizing they aren’t sold anywhere, I begged the Wal-Mart Pharmacist to sell me a few bottles.  I was able to purchase each one for exactly. $0.15 each.
  2. Next, put on a pair of gloves and scoop the M&Ms out of the bag into the bottles.  Be careful to not get your gross germs on your future client’s treat.
  3. Open Microsoft Word.  File>New>Search Template: Avery 5163.  This is the trickiest and most time-consuming part of the process.  You will not find an exact blank label pattern, so you will need to modify one with a plant decal or random ugly font.  I am not the most computer savvy so I am sure there is a faster way, but I had to manually delete and then re-insert the font and spacing that I wanted into each individual label.  Be sure to paste your company’s logo at the top as if the prescription is coming from the “Fittje Brothers Printing Company” Pharmacy. 
  4. Figure out a creative label that revolves around how you will relieve the Target’s pain.  You can see what I wrote below in the photo or here.  Then print 2 sheets so you have 2 copies of each label (you’ll see why in a sec).  Take one sheet and apply all the labels to the already candy-filled bottles.
  5. Next, write a creative introductory letter to the Target to the tune of “I know you are busy so I’m not going to waste your time.  I will call you on X day at X time.” Insert letter into a company-colored envelope with one of your business cards.
  6. Put labeled bottle and envelope into a clear plastic bag – be sure there is enough room left over for you to fold and seal it closed.
  7. Grab your extra label sheet.  The labels are difficult to read when wrapped around the pill bottle so this is how you will ensure that the target appreciates the full extent of your cleverness;
  8. Fold the top of the clear bottle over and hold closed with the extra label you have on your spare sheet.  Ta-Daaa!  You’re done!
  9. Now you just have to run around and drop these babies off.  Be sure that you actually call on the day and time that you indicated in your letter!

Experimental Conclusions:

Mixed.  Of the 12 bottles I put out, 4 were to current clients, 4 were to people I had been trying to call but hadn’t gotten through to, and 4 were to brand new names.  Clients LOVED these little treats and thought I was incredibly clever.  Almost immediately I won a bid with a client that I had lost almost all other bids with.

People I had tried to contact previously didn’t really respond.  I have put in regular calls prior to and after giving them pill bottles, and either way they are less than interested in what I have to offer.

For the new clients, my call was taken 3 of the 4 times.  Of those 3, all said that they were very satisfied with their current printer but left the door open for me to contact them in the intermediary.

Sooo all in all… I think this COULD be a very successful if targeting the right market such as a health care facility or hospital.  I think it was successful in that my creativity made me stand out and EVERY person I spoke to remembered me once I mentioned the pill bottles.  It was a failure in that I didn’t make any new clients, though I did further a relationship with an existing client.  It may be too early to tell… It has only been one month since I dropped these off and I’d like to believe that I planted the seeds for future business.





Always Wear an Undershirt … and Other Lessons Not Found in Sales Books

26 09 2009

Undershirts for $2 at Walmart. No Excuses.

So… I have been doing printing sales for roughly 7 months now.  Along the way I have learned some key lessons that I haven’t come across in any of the

“How To” and “Motivational” sales books I’ve read.  Maybe this list belongs more in the “For Dummies” books, but I’d like to share these pearls of wisdom with the world.  This blog is dedicated to a little wardrobe malfunction that happened on Thursday of this week.

  1. Always wear an undershirt with a blouse… you never know when a button is going to pop at a very inopportune moment, such as during an important client presentation.
  2. Business cards are your currency at a networking event… NEVER underestimate the amount you will need.  Stash your box in your car in case you are more popular than you anticipated.
  3. If someone starts to pull out a “before” and “after” picture of themselves in any form, run.  I don’t care if it is weight loss, botox, cosmetic surgery, or scar removal – they are in the business of selling, not buying.
  4. Never ever NEVER assume anything about the following categories: Gender, Age, Marital Status, Pregnancy, Sexual Orientation, Religion, Natural Hair Color, Political View, etc.
  5. Don’t buy a beer for a client unless you are certain they are not a member of AA.  Really.
  6. If you are sure they are good to go in the alcohol realm, be sure to understand that the “N.A.” designation on the beer bottle is not some new form of beer you’ve never heard of like “IPA”.  It means “Non-Alcoholic.”   People get really mad when they think you are bringing beer and you show up with the N.A. stuff…
  7. Don’t ride a mechanical bull in front of clients, even you are at a Rodeo and they are all chanting your name.  That is unless you enjoy having a bloody lip and walking with a limp.
  8. Iron your clothes even if you think they look swell.  The wrinkles do not add character.
  9. The creator of Dillbert is an absolute genius of insight.
  10. If you are late to a meeting because you hit a parked car, got lost, or forgot you had a meeting… don’t tell your client.  That doesn’t exactly build your credibility.

Now these are just a few gems that I have learned or observed during my short stint in outside sales… I know there are some seasoned vets out there with some awesomely embarrassing lessons.  Please share!