In the interest of our upcoming American Thanksgiving holiday this week, today’s post is a quick reminder to take time to thank your prospects, not just today, but at every opportunity.   There’s no better way to do that than with a thank you note.  Not an email, but a good old-fashioned letter or card in an envelope hand addressed and stamped.  Handwritten notes have gone out of style in the electronic age, making them even more special when you receive one.  Writing notes is something friends do with one another.  You open hand written cards and letters before any other mail on your desk and for sure it’s more important to you than your ever-streaming email.  Subconsciously that card will immediately reposition you from sales rep to “contact” or dare I say “friend,” elevating you above your competitors. And lastly, a thank you card doesn’t have a “Reply” button in it.  The recipient has no obligation to respond in kind, making the gesture truly magnanimous which is quite rare in sales. 

Princess Diana and George H.W. Bush were both famous for their handwritten thank you notes. Princess Di used to carry stationary with her, so immediately upon meeting someone she could write a short note of thanks.  Try carrying thank you notes in your car so that when you leave an appointment you can take 5 minutes to compose a highly personalized and hand written note that you can address and mail later.  It’s a terrific hack to follow through on the goal of sending more handwritten notes.  If you sell from the inside, keep a stack of notes prominently on your desk and take that moment to write three simple sentences each time you end a meeting.

President Bush’s heartfelt correspondence to everyone from staffers to foreign leaders to average American Joes helped him build his career, build relationships, and build his legacy.  He found ways to congratulate people on even small achievements, showing that he is paying attention and respects them.  In taking the time to write one of his staffers a note of thanks for a job well done, he demonstrated his willingness to work hard to do things the right way, motivating them to work even harder.  His dedication to letter-writing showed his dedication to courtesy, geniality, and humor.  Writing thank you notes to your prospects – and continuing the practice with your customers—helps establish your dedication to principles that they want in a supplier. 

How do you write a great thank you?  Keep it short, sweet and timely.  Same day.  Offer a simple thank you.  Use “I” language such as “I appreciate your time today.”  Turn the focus to them in a “You” statement.  “I applaud your efforts to increase personalization in learning,” or whatever was special about that person’s current initiatives.  Then close up by saying something about the future that isn’t a sales follow up.  Don’t ruin the effect of the note by tossing out a “look forward to working with you,” or other presumptive closing statement.  Try to close a relationship, not a sale.  You do that by not asking for anything, just a kind “best wishes for continued success,” or “see you at ISTE,” or “enclosing that recipe we talked about!” 

I’d like to end this post by thanking you readers for supporting and sharing Selling B2E, as well as thanking you for the work you do to build and distribute educational products.  Your dedication to raising human potential by improving the art of learning is an important contribution that often goes unrecognized.  You could sell anything, but you choose to sell to schools.  Thanks!

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