Does age determine sales acumen? For these ace sales reps, success isn’t defined by a number.
Senior Branding Specialist, Axis Promotions (asi/128263)
Years of Industry Experience: Three-plus.
Types of Clients I Work With: Axis works with a very wide range of clients across numerous industries. My particular team is media-heavy.
My Greatest Strengths As A Salesperson Are: My creativity. We have the opportunity to partner with incredibly creative clients, which makes our job that much more interesting. I really enjoy getting to strategize on projects from the very beginning stages of idea generation and brainstorming and watch it come to life in a tangible way. There is nothing more rewarding then helping create a great kit or item that successfully tells a brand’s story.
What I’ve Learned Working In The Industry: The importance of communication. Axis prides itself on being an extension of our clients’ marketing and branding teams. Keeping an open line of communication and transparency allows us to really get to know the brand and embrace it as our own.
When It Comes To My Job, My Age Is: Just a number. I am an old soul when it comes to both my professional and personal life. I started this job very young (and I am still young) but I have learned so much and grown so much as a salesperson. I can only hope that shines through my work every day!
What’s True About My Generation: I think that in general Millennials are very socially and environmentally conscious. With social media being so prevalent, we have grown up with access to a lot of information at our fingertips (sometimes too much), which brings social issues to our attention. There is a huge green/environmental push also that makes us especially aware of how our work is impacting the environment. Axis as a whole has a large green initiative. We try to do our part.
What’s A Myth About My Generation: While there are exceptions to every rule, I think that my generation is plagued with the stereotype of entitlement. I am a firm believer in putting in the legwork and going the extra mile to prove myself in any situation but especially on a professional level. A majority of Millennials that I know are very hard workers who want to prove this stereotype wrong and just want to be an added value to their company, colleagues and peers.
Account Director, Overture Premiums and Promotions (asi/288473)
Years of Industry Experience: Nine
Types of Clients I Work With: Automotive, multiple-industry manufacturers and consumer goods.
My Greatest Strengths As A Salesperson Are: My ability to understand what will strike a chord with the target market, and knowing when I need to do more research. While there are times when a promotion just needs an inexpensive popular giveaway for mass-audience brand awareness, I love the challenge of using a promotional item as a medium to deliver a brand’s message to a specific demographic in a way that will resonate with them. When I’m able to help my clients make that connection during a promotion, everyone comes out on top.
What I’ve Learned Working In The Industry: When a client trusts you with the important elements of a campaign or project, business is incredibly personal. Our industry is such a small piece of the pie for most of the buyers responsible for it, but it’s amazing how much of a priority branded merchandise can become for a project. Promotional merchandise can deliver that “wow” factor at an event that gets people talking, and gets them asking where or how they can get one too.
When It Comes to My Job, My Age Is: Probably late 30s to early 40s. I recognize that I’ve learned and applied a lot into my career, but I also know that there’s a lot of room for growth and development.
What’s True About My Generation: We want to make a name for ourselves, and we want to create something. I think it’s true that a lot of us can get anxious when we’re first starting out because we want to make an impact right away, but I also think that many people my age don’t take ourselves quite as seriously as we seem on movies and TV.
What’s A Myth About My Generation: We’re not afraid to work for it – while I tip my cap to the work ethic of the generations before me, I know plenty of people in my age group who are most satisfied after a day of working hard and building toward the future. Obviously success and wealth are things that everyone wants, but most of my generation would rather earn the accolades than just inherit them.
Ruth A. Verver
Co-Founder and Partner, Paperclip Promotions (asi/290142)
Years of Industry Experience:20
Types of Clients I Work With: Industrial/manufacturing and technology.
My Greatest Strengths as a Salesperson Are: I think my greatest strength is that I don’t consider myself a salesperson. I simply enjoy helping people, and when it comes to customers, I work to find the product that will help them reach their goals and make them look like a rock star.
“No matter the age difference, as long as we enjoy working together, we are good to go.”
Ruth A. Verver, Paperclip Promotions
What I’ve Learned Working In The Industry: Anything is possible. The world is getting smaller, and it is amazing what can be accomplished in a short period of time. We once participated in an RFP for a Fortune 500 company, and to surprise our contact there, we had a spec made overseas of totally custom sunglasses. They were designed and delivered to me in about two weeks. The prospect was impressed for sure, and I will be a forever fan of the supplier that made it happen for me.
When It Comes To My Job, My Age Is: Just a number! I work with older and younger clients, and I believe it’s about just being yourself. No matter the age difference, as long as we enjoy working together, and I give them what they need and stay relevant, we are good to go.
What’s True About My Generation: Many of us grew up as latchkey kids, and that helped the majority to learn how to be independent and adapt well to change.
What’s A Myth About My Generation: We all grew up being skateboarding cynical slackers! Sadly, I never even owned a skateboard.
Regional Vice President, HALO Branded Solutions (asi/356000)
Generation: Baby Boomer
Years of Industry Experience: 27
Types of Clients I Work With: Airlines, commercial real estate, nonprofit, oil and gas, lots of small customers too.
My Greatest Strengths As A Salesperson Are: Working through assistants to maximize response times and communicate throughout the sales cycle. Identifying buying styles and tailoring presentations to the way the customer wants to buy. Energy at the point of contact.
What I’ve Learned Working In The Industry: We teach buyers the business a lot. I am constantly a student of imprint processes. There are too many good customers to allow the toxic ones to bring you down. Strategically turning down business is a good practice.
When It Comes To My Job, My Age Is: 35. From my college days and education on exercise physiology, I learned that from a health perspective, you have a free ride up to age 35; then you need to work constantly to maintain a healthy and vital body. A youthful mindset is a choice in any dimension of your life. Business is no different in my mind. But I also have to remember my 35 rule and not act like a 20-year old (that is what my wife says) when I attempt extreme sports – I just tried kite surfing and broke a rib.
What’s True About My Generation: We were in our prime working window when technology exploded. If you fell on the side of adopting and keeping up with it, you are feeling young and optimistic. If you didn’t, you feel exhausted and wish that this working stuff could come to an end.
What’s A Myth About My Generation: We can’t relate to the Gen-X or Millennial generations. If you have solid product and logo application knowledge and are willing to accept a text message to take an order, you can relate to the younger generations. If I am on trend and excited about the products, I can usually relate to a buyer of any age. The younger buyer might look at non-traditional channels to make a purchase. After I convey the risks of some of the non-traditional channels, I often complete the sale.
President, Proforma Graphic PrintSource (asi/300143)
Generation: Baby Boomer
Years of Industry Experience: Over 40
Types of Clients I Work With: Hugely diverse client base: financial, manufacturing, hotels/resorts, grocery, medical.
My Greatest Strengths As A Salesperson Are: I have always believed in ethics and honesty first with clients. Getting back to people quickly and accurately, and making sure their order is on time and correct. Keeping promises is critical. Taking care of problems quickly is also critical. Being proactive and truly understanding what each different client would want or need, and giving it to them, often before they even ask for it.
What I’ve Learned Working In The Industry: If you follow those values I mentioned, sales will happen and clients will stay. You must truly have the best interest of the client first, and everything else will follow from that. I also believe in keeping educated in new products, trends, ways of doing business and technology. That is a whole lot of time and effort, but this business changes all the time, and to stay relevant, I have to change as well.
When It Comes To My Job, My Age Is: 40. I have over 40 years of experience, but I am a very young 63: very active, travel often, live an extremely busy and hectic but enjoyable life. I don’t feel 63 at work – I have a ton of energy!
What’s True About My Generation: My generation was not the entitlement generation. We worked hard and did not expect to be given things, we expected to earn them, and we did. I still believe in that, but don’t see it much today. I think that is a recipe for disaster for business and for our country. We attempted to learn what a client wanted and know what we were asking for before we went to a supplier for the quote. Now, I see that people want to let the supplier do all the work and understand the sale even better than the reps do at times.
What’s A Myth About My Generation: I see the myth as being that the younger generation thinks that we “don’t get it.” That they have a newer, better way to do business and we all have fallen behind. While lots in my generation do fall behind in technology, what the younger generation will come to realize over time is that our belief in solid and ethical business relationships, saying what you do and doing what you say, keeping promises and talking to people are values that have not gone away.
Gene E. Gillette
Sales Associate, Specialty Incentives (asi/331870)
Age: Early 70s [Editor’s Note: Gene, you’re too coy!]
Generation: Silent Generation
Years of Industry Experience: 29
Types of Clients I Work With: Nonprofit associations, large paper companies and retail stores.
My Greatest Strengths As A Salesperson Are: I have endeavored to build my business by nurturing a strong business and personal relationship with my clients. Thankfully this has resulted in a loyalty that is appreciated, but not taken for granted. This in a time when people can get most anything on the Internet; instead, many times they come to me and ask if I can get the same thing or something similar. These opportunities are what help me keep my business growing. The clients come to trust that when I promise something I deliver. If something goes wrong, as it occasionally does in our industry, as well as any human endeavor, my customers know I will do what is necessary to make the situation turn out right for them. Customer service is not just a platitude, it is a credo I live by. Lastly I try to be persistent without being pushy, as expressed in the following quote: “When nothing seems to help, I go look at the stonecutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without so much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”
What I’ve Learned Working In The Industry: Like so much in life, this is an industry of change. And aren’t we lucky it is, because we always have something new to show our clients. While some products become commodities, this industry is vibrant and fresh with new ideas with which to amaze our customers, and fulfill their marketing goals.
When It Comes To My Job, My Age Is: Irrelevant, or in some cases, a benefit, as I have the wisdom of experience. While I still make mistakes I can avoid many pitfalls, as I have been there and done that in the past, and have hopefully learned from those many past mistakes.
What’s True About My Generation: We are hardworking, creative and loyal, and believe we grew up during the best of times.
What’s A Myth About My Generation: I cannot speak for a whole generation, but for me I am not all that silent. While we grew up in a time of uncertainty with the Cold War and the threat of nuclear war with the Soviet Union, we enjoyed a much simpler life and were not inhibited from speaking our mind.