The power of a handwritten note

This isn’t the first article on handwritten notes and it certainly won’t be the last.

My wife and I have a sitter we use for date nights, doctor visits, etc. I’ve known this gal for over 10 years from church.

We recently referred her to a colleague of mine who have a little boy so they can have someone for date nights and other events.

On Saturday we received in the snail mail a small thank you card and a gift card to Chili’s from her thanking us for referring her to my colleague.

Wow! That was unexpected. And I’m not referring to the monetary value of the gift card.

We in sales all know after gaining a new client or referral that we should send a handwritten thank you. But we don’t. I think we get so busy we simply forget to.

3 quick observations:

1. How often do you get a handwritten note by snail mail these days? Seriously? It’s rare. Just by doing this small task more often, you’ll stand out.

2. It was unexpected and it brightened my day. Lately my allergies have been flaring up and I feel physically drained. This little act made my afternoon.

3. How likely am I going to refer our sitter to other couples and friends who need occasional babysitting help? Very much so! She took the time to send us a small note. She didn’t have to and I knew she was appreciate that we passed her name along. She stood even more by thanking us in writing.

So what can the power of a handwritten note do in your sales world?

I fired a prospect and it felt great!

Happy Spring everyone!

In March 2012, I reached out to a prospect, we engaged and he gave me a verbal commitment to move forward.

(Yes, I know that verbal commitments mean nothing legally, and yes he was the decision maker.)

Later that July, the prospect changed his mind and said they were moving forward with another company, explained his reasoning and I closed his file.

In March 2014, I was clearing my and cleaning up data and reached out again to the same prospect. He responded that it was good timing to engage again. We spoke several times and and ultimately, they didn’t move forward with us. I decided to let things go and move on.

Several months later, this prospect reached out to me via LinkedIn email and wanted to restart conversations. This was him reaching out to me.

We had more discussions and he introduced me to his Director who would be heading up this initiative.

Long story short, he waffled and I may not have done a good job of building trust or value.

I finally emailed the CEO and said I won’t be pursuing him anymore as a client. I gently reminded him that he reached out to me to get moving on the project. I left the door open that when he was serious enough to talk, that I’d love to have him as a client.

I haven’t heard back from him since. Not sure what his motive was for restarting talks. Perhaps other priorities and not enough time.

Sales reps and producers: it’s okay to fire a prospect. Call them out when they are stalling and won’t give you a reason why things keep dragging out. Be bold but be polite and respectful. No need to have false hope on landing new clients if the prospect has no intention of hiring you. It will save you a lot of emotional energy and time.

You can always make more money. You can never reclaim your time. Get honest with yourself on your sales pipeline. If in doubt, call the prospect and get their intentions and decision on moving forward or not. Lots of prospects and people are conflict avoiders. Don’t keep a lot of sales prospects in your sales funnel if they have no intention of doing business with you.

Don’t take “No” personally, you never “Know”

I work out at the gym 5 days week. Unfortunately I don’t eat healthy as consistently as I should and it neutralizes my workouts but such is life.

I see this gal in her 40’s who’s married with 2 kids working out quite a bit at the gym. She’s in shape and always seems to have a smile on her face. We exchange short conversations and pleasantries from time to time.

Last week I asked how her family was doing. She said her husband wasn’t doing too good. I asked if she meant physically or emotionally. She said both and told me that her husband was going through chemo treatments. I expressed my condolences and told her I’d be praying for him and the family.

How does this relate to sales and prospecting?

You never know what’s going on in your sales prospect’s lives. Both personally and professionally.

Professionally: Is the company merging with another one (Comcast)? Is the company going out of business (Radio Shack)? Did the prospect’s boss yell at them this morning? Was there a critical client issue that came up that day? Did they just lose a key person? Are they moving offices soon? Did they lose a big account that day?

Personally: Did a family member just pass away? Are they going through a divorce? Did they get in a car wreck recently? Did they wake up on the wrong side of the bed? Did their pet just pass away?

I could go on and on but I hope you catch my drift.

When you reach out to someone on the phone, you don’t know what they’re going through. Don’t take it personally if someone tells you “No” or “No interested” and hang up on you. Move on and try back another time.

Just like the gal from the gym, you never “know”, so don’t take “no” personally.

Happy Monday everyone!

The Serenity Prayer and Sales Prospecting

I’m sure you’ve read or seen the Serenity Prayer many times in your lifetime:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.”

I was reading an article and came across this prayer again. It started making me think in the area of sales prospecting and cold calls.

I can’t control the weather, economy, luck, timing or company decisions.

BUT I can control the number of sales cold calls I make. I CAN control the amount of networking I initiate. I CAN control the number of referrals I ask for. I CAN control my sales activity and effort and hard work.

I may not be able to control the results fully but I choose to be responsible for what’s in my control.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Photo Credit:

I misspelled my prospect’s last name on the proposal!

I recently was referred to a VP of Sales for a technology company based in Iowa but had a local presence here in Kansas City.

There have been several clients I’ve never met in person before.

This was different. We chatted by phone, had lunch when he was in town and exchanged several emails and his name and signature were in his emails.

I placed a “K” instead of a “G” in his last name and emailed over the proposal.

He noticed it immediately just like I would if someone misspelled my name. He pointed it out and fairly asked if he should be concerned about my question to detail.

Ironically I’m really good with remembering names and spellings. I blew this time.

I apologized profusely and corrected it and he signed up to become a client.

2 takeaways which I know I’m stating the obvious:

1. Take extra time and proofread and double check every proposal that goes out.

2. When you make a mistake, apologize profusely and immediately.

Thankfully he was gracious enough to point it out and not let my mistake kill the deal.

No matter how long we’ve been in sales, it’s the little things that count and make the difference.

Sales Lesson Learned From A Recent Presidential Debate

(Disclaimer: I’m a registered independent voter.)

I watched about an hour of of a recent Republican debate and then I went to bed.

I won’t go into the subject matter of the debate or my opinion on the issues or the candidates. It’s irrelevant.

One of the rules last night was that once a moderator asked a question, the candidate had one minute to answer the question with a 30 second rebuttal.

Sales takeaway: Is your sales or marketing message clear, concise and to the point? Can you articulate your value proposition in one minute or less?

If not, why?

Remember, people have attention spans shorter than a goldfish.

(The human attention span went from 12 seconds in 2002 to 8 seconds in 2013. A goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds.)


People are distracted, overworked and too busy to sit through a rambling speech about what you do. Less is more. Get to the point. Get to the point quickly.

Allergies, Pain and Sales Hunting

I’m a typical guy. I don’t go see the doctor unless somethings really wrong.

Until last week, I hadn’t seen a doctor since June 2005, when my wife strongly suggested I go in for a yearly physical. We had just gotten married and she said I should see a doctor. I visited my doctor and everything checked out fine.

The past month I’ve been struggling with sinuses and allergies and at times, I’ve felt miserable constantly blowing my nose and dealing with watery eyes.

(Compared to cancer and other illnesses, sinuses are very minor.)

So I found an allergist doctor and went in and got checked out and he made some recommendations.

It took me being miserable and slightly in “pain” to finally call the doctor and get in.

What does this have to do with sales hunting and sales prospecting?

Most prospects tend to buy solutions that solves their “business” pain before they buy solutions that will enhance their company.

People will reach for an aspirin to comfort their headache before they buy vitamins to make themselves feel even better.

When reaching out to prospects, ask them questions that brings up their “pain”.

Take care of their “pain” with your solutions and you’ll have success in sales.

Shaving My Head and Sales Positioning

I have a confession to make.

I am bald.

BUT, I’m bald voluntarily. I started shaving my head in 2000 and am thankful I have a decently shaped head with no scars or nicks anywhere. I give credit to Bruce Willis who made being bald cool and in fashion.

Typically I get my head shaved every 10 days. I usually go to Great Clips and it cost between $5 – $14 depending on if I have a coupon or not. They serve the masses and Great Clips is not for everyone. My hairdresser, Carol, rocks and I request her every time I visit. She does excellent work and is a pro. After I get my head shaved, I go home and shower and get all the little hairs out and it’s highly convenient since it’s about 2 miles away. It’s very obvious who Great Clips targets as their customer.

Recently I received a complimentary hair cut coupon and decided to use it at The Gents Place in Leawood Town Center. I made an appointment and showed up. I get there, check in and the gal behind the desk offers me something to drink. Then she comes around and takes my jacket and puts in a locker and hands me the key. I finally get called to my hairdresser and as you may tell, this place caters to Leawood middle to upper class business men. It has a pool table and spa rooms and locker rooms and even a bar for members. Top notch and it definitely caters to a high end clientele.

I got my head shaved, massaged, rinsed, washed and completed with a hot towel service. I’ve never had that before and it felt great. Normal cost was $45 or so and I tipped my hairdresser and left.

So as a sales organization, who do you cater to? Who’s your ideal client?

Is it targeted towards anyone or do you have someone specific in mind?

Target everyone and you sell to nobody.

Is your product or service targeted to the masses out there like Great Clips?


Do you have someone specific in mind with a certain income level, profession, geography, or type of business?

Take a few minutes and reflect on your ideal client. Do you have several transactions with small dollar amounts or fewer transactions with higher dollar amounts.

Happy Monday!

Are your sales reps Jayhawks or Wildcats?

I’m a big college basketball fan. I enjoyed watching this year’s NCAA Tourney and I congratulate the Duke Blue Devils for winning their 5th National Title.

As a lifelong Kansas Jayhawk fan, I remember them winning the title in 1988 and again in 2008. 2 titles in 27 years.

One of Kansas’ bitter rivals is the Kentucky Wildcats who have won 8 National Titles. UK has a great basketball program and John Calipari is a great coach.

Kansas Jayhawks has the longest current streak of NCAA tournament appearances at 26. 26 years straight of consistency.

The Kentucky Wildcats typically make the post season tournament each year and were National Champs in 2012. BUT, they completely missed the tournament in 2013 as well as in 2009.

What does this have to do with sales?

In a word: consistency.

How consistent are your sales reps? Are they consistent or irregular? Do they consistently hit their numbers or are they all over the board with some great wins along the way?

Do they constantly hit their quota or sales numbers?

Which would you rather have?

Would you rather have a sales team that consistently hit their numbers year in and year out?


Would you rather have a team that’s irregular and unpredictable BUT lands very big clients every now and then?

If you’re in sales or business development, are you consistent daily, monthly or yearly? If no, why?

Persistence pays off: A short story

Hello everyone!

Back in December of last year, I called on a $100M plus publicly traded software company in California near San Francisco.

I called the CEOs office and his assistant directed me to a certain Senior VP. I referenced the assistant’s name and proceeded to call the SVP.

I left 5 voicemails and 5 emails over 5 weeks and closed the task in The next day he called me back and we had a short discussion. They have an inside sales team but were interested in training and that my timing was good. He asked when I was available and asked if I could come out in the next 2 weeks. I said yes and he said to call him in 2 days.

2 days later I called him back and got his assistant. She explained that it was a no go for the next 2 weeks after I told her why I was calling. There also was a reorganization going on and it was being tabled. And the SVP’s wife was having a baby any day.

Boo I thought! So she said to call in March. I thought I was being blown off. I figured I have nothing to lose by following up. Q2 got moved to Q3.  When I finally connected live with the SVP’s assistant, she said that it was no longer her boss’s decision and to call the CMO. She mentioned that the CMO had requested info from the SVP that I sent by snail mail earlier that year.

So I reached out to the CMO a few times and referenced the SVPs name. He finally responded and we finally spoke by phone and I gave an overview of my training  workshops I conduct for companies nationwide.

Long story short, we agreed t o terms and I flew out last Wednesday, conducted the workshop with 9 of the inside sales reps on how to make outbound prospecting calls and put a system in place for future use. And I also got paid 4 figures for the day.

I share this not to brag but to encourage you.  It was an 8 month sales cycle total. Can you relate? Half the battle of sales is persistence and follow up.

If your sales team needs training on how to effectively prospect and make outbound calls, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

I’m Ray Ruecker with Connect 5000.