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Monday, September 1, 2014

(SALES) The Best 42 Cents I've Ever Spent


People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel. -- Maya Angelou

In the highly competitive world of sales, differentiation is one of the keys to success. Product, service, or salesperson ? ?standouts? enjoy more success.

Every Saturday morning I used to make it a habit of reviewing my week and sending thank you notes or correspondence appropriate to the people I was in contact with that week. By designating this time, I could focus and make sure I completed the task. Recently, I?ve changed that practice for two reasons. 1.) The volume of material was taking more time than I wanted on a Saturday; 2) My correspondence with those I was in contact with wasn?t fast enough to have the greatest impact. So I changed my practice to taking a few minutes after each connection, if appropriate, to follow up.

We live in an instant world. A world where you can microwave a PopTart for three seconds instead of waiting for the dreaded toaster. We want everything now, we need immediate gratification and results. It?s so easy to shoot a quick email when you get off the phone, or send a text. I see nothing wrong with those forms of communication. However, none of the new technologically advanced forms of communication, yes including Facebook, can have the impact that a personally addressed handwritten note can have.

I send out lots of personally addressed mail each week. Apparently I?m an anomaly. The United States Post Office publishes an annual report called The Household Diary Study, mail use and attitudes. 2012 is the most recent report and it shows the average household receives a handwritten letter once every 12 weeks. On top of that, 95 percent of all mail received today is advertising material. Of course the USPS cites Internet communication and email as the reason for the decline.

In the past week or so I?ve been reminded of the power of the handwritten note based on the responses. I?ll share three.

Ryan and I worked together. He frequently ?retweets? and likes my content on LinkedIn. I sent him a note of thanks and encouragement. He?s doing amazing things with his new career. This was his response: 

I got your card today and put it next to the other one you sent. I keep them on my desk as it makes me feel like a "big deal." Haha. I get 50 or more emails a day and they just become one big blob it seems. When I get a letter, it is actually exciting. Opening it takes top priority over anything else I'm doing at the moment. No joke.

Julie is a seller for one of our clients. One of her peers said she was showing great promise and he thought a nice email from me might make her feel good. I sent a handwritten card instead. This was her response:

I received your card in the mail this week, that was very nice. I have never been given a ?thank you card? for reading someone?s book before. If teachers did that in grade school?. we might all read a little more. Ha!

Jon E. Horton is the author of the book The 22 Unbreakable Laws Of Selling. I?ve followed Jon?s blogs on Radio Ink and enjoy his style. A few weeks ago, to my amazement, Jon quoted me in one of his articles. Okay, I admit, I did a ?happy dance? that a guy of Jon E. Horton?s experience and caliber was quoting me. I immediately searched for Jon?s home address so I could send him a thank-you card. Here?s how Jon responded:

New technology should be a supplement to but not a substitute for meaningful customer communication. Client service began to deteriorate with the advent of the fax machine and that slide has only accelerated in the digital age. A handwritten note! Are you kidding me? Trying to explain the power of that medium to a young seller is guaranteed to produce that ?deer in the headlights? response.
Trust me when I tell you that I blushed as I read your kind words. After my mini-celebration, I applauded your effort. No other form of communication could match the good feeling I enjoyed opening and reading your note. (This e-mail, then, is lame by comparison. But watch your mail.)

Jon followed up his email with a personally autographed copy of his book.

All of these great reactions, all of these positive feelings on the part of the recipient because I spent 42 cents and took the time to let them know I appreciated them.

You want to be different? You want to stand out? Make a commitment to sending handwritten notes and thank-you cards. I freely admit I have to catch myself and resist the temptation to fire off a quick email because I feel great about a conversation or something that someone has done for me. My mother always taught me that some things are worth waiting for.

How else can you spend 42 cents and feel like a million bucks? The person receiving the note feels great, and you feel great for making them feel that way. As Maya Angelou shared with us, that?s how to never be forgotten.

Commit to sending 10 thank-you cards this week. You won?t be disappointed with the results. I know I?m certainly going to continue.

Jeff Schmidt is EVP and Partner with Chris Lytle at Sparque, Inc. You can reach him at

Twitter: @JeffreyASchmidt

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