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"Excellence Doesn't Happen By Chance" - Peyton Manning

Peyton ManningRecord-breaking NFL quarterback Peyton Manning headlined a slate of motivational and educational sessions at the ASI Show in Chicago.

Mixing personal sports stories, jokes about his career as a product pitchman, and tips on becoming a better leader, NFL star quarterback Peyton Manning headlined the ASI Show Chicago in July. During his 40 minutes on stage – which included a speech and a Q&A session with ASI President and CEO Tim Andrews – Manning encouraged attendees to be game-changers at their companies by cultivating trust and through meticulous daily preparation.

“Excellence doesn’t happen by chance,” said Manning, who besides his day job on NFL fields also owns multiple Papa John’s pizza franchises in the Denver area. “In today’s business world, you may need to change your strategy, but you can’t change your vision. You have to be ready to compete and never get too comfortable.”

Product PickManning – a Super Bowl champion, 14-time Pro-Bowler and five-time league MVP – listed several ways businesspeople can excel in their field, relating his advice to his own life experiences.

“Don’t be stymied by change, be stimulated by it,” he said. “Be a master observer and look for things that aren’t evident to your competitors. That’s what I try to do when I call an audible. And invest in a coach that can help you continue to grow. I still want to be coached myself. When you stop wanting to be mentored, I think you’re in big trouble.”

Manning, 39, admitted that as he’s aged and suffered injuries, he’s had to adjust his approach on the field. Instead of judging himself against the past, he’s focused on his dad’s advice to “get back to zero,” meaning he finds a new baseline. He suggests businesspeople do the same.

“When you make a bad deal or bad sale, or when you have a bad presentation,” he said, “you need to erase it from your mind and get back to zero. Start again.”

Known for being a spokesman for brands like Buick, Papa John’s and Nationwide, Manning entertained with a few one-liners, as well. For example, referencing Colorado’s recent legalization of marijuana, Manning joked: “As a guy who sells pizza in Colorado, I can tell you the business is really good there right now.”

Finally, while he didn’t specifically address his future in the National Football League, Manning said: “This is the best I’ve felt since I’ve come back (from multiple neck surgeries three years ago). A lot of players retire because they get tired and bored with the grind. I’m not bored and I’m still looking for more ways to compete and win.”

Create a Winning Brand Identity
“We need to change the way we think in this industry.”

That was the critical message that Bobby Lehew of distributor firm Robyn Promotions (asi/309656) delivered to his ASI Chicago audience during his Education Day session titled “Top Level Branding: Discovering the Heart of Your Brand.” “You can’t just say that you sell pens and T-shirts and mugs,” he said. “You have to tell a story.”

In his lively session, Lehew discussed strategies for building a distributor brand that will resonate with clients and prospects today. His main point: Get away from the idea that you sell products and gravitate more toward sparking emotions with your marketing and branding campaigns.

“We don’t tell enough stories with the products that we sell,” Lehew said. “It’s not about the products. Branding and marketing in this industry should be more about the emotions that are felt by the people receiving the products. We need to build brands around the true value of promotional products.”

Lehew implored his standing-room-only audience and distributors as a whole to take more control of their messaging and branding efforts. “Distributors need to define who we are, not suppliers or clients or anybody else,” he said. “We’re a fan factory. We create fans for our clients through the products that we provide. That’s a much more powerful marketing message than just, ‘I sell pens.’”

Product PickAnd, Lehew believes that the companies that just position themselves as providers of promotional products are in for a rude awakening moving forward.

“If you’re just selling mugs or pens or T-shirts, then you’re falling behind,” he said. “Buying habits are changing. The Internet is making it easy for clients to research and purchase what they want. You need to uncover client purpose and create a story through your marketing and branding for exactly how you fulfill that. You don’t sell products, you create memorable moments. Your brand should stand for more than just products. It should stir emotions.”

Financial Tips to Grow Sales
Finance whiz Chris Vanderzyden, owner of Chris Vanderzyden Global, spoke to show attendees at ASI Chicago about how to increase sales and profits with some quick finance tips. Her session, officially titled “Money Matters: Seven Financial Tips to Make Your Sales Soar” but labeled more colorfully by Vanderzyden as “How to make a butt-load of money,” detailed steps distributors should take to improve their bottom lines.

First, Vanderzyden advised, find your own personal vision of victory. You can’t know exactly what success means if you haven’t detailed it, she said. “Identify your financial goals, create a plan for growth, develop your team and overcome obstacles,” Vanderzyden said. Once you’ve accomplished all that, she said, you can review what has worked and then make changes to what hasn’t worked.

Second, she cautioned distributors in the room not to tolerate clients who aren’t worthy of their services or take up too much time. When analyzing your finances and planning sales strategies, you need to focus your efforts on the customers that provide the most sales and highest profits.

“It’s totally OK to fire a client,” Vanderzyden said, noting that as someone with a CPA and background in the finance industry, sometimes it’s not enough to have someone buy from you if they cause you too much trouble. “You should list all of your present customers, analyze their volume and quality. Then, you should let go of those that aren’t worthy of your talent and time.”

Use Body Language to Boost Success
Communicating with the right body language can give you a major advantage in boosting sales, strengthening relationships and establishing credibility, according to Dr. Lillian Glass, a speaker at the ASI Show Chicago. Glass told attendees of her session, “The Power of Body Language,” that understanding certain cues can help salespeople connect better with clients.

“The body doesn’t lie, and it takes seconds for us to know whether we like a person or not,” she said. “Body language can be the difference between success and failure in making a deal.”

Using a series of photos, Glass explained how body language conveys large amounts of information. A palm-to-palm handshake, for example, expresses openness and relatability; a friendly smile can be a sign of warmth and genuineness, and good posture can demonstrate confidence. Conversely, a clenched fist often signals anger and frustration; crossed legs while standing can mean disinterest, and speaking with palms that are down may project caution.

Glass also stressed the importance of a good voice tone, showing attendees through various exercises how to speak at proper levels and with the correct inflection. “You don’t want to close your throat or have your words trail off,” she said. “You don’t want to be someone who attacks their words and has an aggressive tone, either.”

Glass – an author of several books and a noted expert on communication – talked in depth, as well, about how to spot dishonesty. “People who smack their lips, scratch their nose and ears, blink their eyes a lot, clear their throats and tap their fingers may not be telling the truth,” she said. “Liars also hesitate, then give too much info and can go off on tangents.”

She closed the session by reminding attendees to “be interested and not interesting.” The best communicators, she said, know their intentions and figure out what they can do to help others. “When you do this, magical things will start taking place.”

Build Business With Email Marketing
While so many businesses are ramping up their social media presence, every company should still consider the impact of email marketing. It is, of course, a cost-effective medium, but when applied smartly, delivering a unique and relevant message, it can be an invaluable part of a marketing plan.

Danny Friedman, vice president of Added Incentives, in his session titled “Email Marketing: Capitalize on Today’s Trends & Tactics,” said that email marketing makes sense, considering the changing face of the client.

“The buyers are younger, they’re millennials, so everything is tech related,” he said. “You have to adapt to the millennials. You have to figure out how your clients do business. But, you then need to train them to do business the way you want to do business.”

Since younger clients prefer to connect electronically, email marketing makes sense for most distributors, Friedman said. But make sure you’re not too casual with the method. “If you want to be successful, if you want to be a sales professional, you need to personalize your process,” he said.

In addition, there should be an objective to any email marketing plan. Whether it’s an email blast or a targeted email, distributors should create campaigns that encourage interaction. “Everything has to be planned,” Friedman said. “You can’t go into it without a clear strategy.” And email efforts shouldn’t be treated like social media campaigns. On social media, Friedman said, people are talking about the benefits of a product while an email marketing piece is asking for action.

Other elements to consider in an email campaign include virtual samples. “If you’re not doing virtual samples, do it tomorrow,” Friedman urged. “Just try it.” It’s also important to think about the message you’re sending and whether it’s something that’s going to be effective. “Always ask yourself, ‘Would I delete this if I got it?’”

And distributors should plan enough time to follow up with anyone who has opened the email because that could be the most opportune time for you. “You need to follow up. You need to strike while the iron is hot,” Friedman said. “But, if you don’t follow up and don’t plan to follow up, then don’t do email marketing.”

Finally, email marketing isn’t going to replace face-to-face selling, even with the growing number of millennials in the professional ranks. “It’s a supplement to the entire marketing plan,” Friedman said. “It’s a lot easier to say ‘no’ to an 800 number or an email than it is to a person.”

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