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  • November 18, 2019 12:37 PM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Think about how you respond when you close a big sale. Do you consider it the beginning of a great new relationship or do you immediately run off to close your next deal? Julie Thomas, president and CEO of ValueSelling Associates, says that too many sales professionals interact with customers when they close the deal and then revisit them a year later to renew the contract. To keep your customers loyal, you must be truly invested in your customers' success.

    In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we discuss Thomas' best ways to retain customers and prepare for renewals.

    1. Approach renewals with care. Most companies commit enormous amounts of resources and effort to win new clients, yet when it comes to retaining customers, companies do not apply the same amount of time, energy and thoughtfulness. Research shows that 44 percent of companies have a greater focus on acquiring customers, while only 18 percent focus on retaining customers. In order to avoid customer acquisition costs, many businesses follow the golden rule of retaining customers and building a loyal relationship with them. Consider these statistics on the value of keeping customers:

    • It costs five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to keep an existing one
    • The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70 percent, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is five-20 percent
    • Increasing customer retention rates by five percent increases profits by 25-95 percent

    2. Create a frictionless customer experience. Selling today is a team activity that happens across several departments, says Thomas. A customer's impression of a company is shaped by multiple touchpoints with employees across the business. That's why it's essential for companies to use a sales methodology that all customer-facing employees can easily understand and use consistently. Make sure every department that interacts with the customer after the sale speaks the same language and is part of providing a holistic experience.

    3. Conduct a health check. The ability to renew a contract depends on the salesperson's ability to build a relationship with the customer. Performing health checks with customers is a great way to check in and see how things are going without selling them anything, says Thomas. You came to know each other during the initial sales cycle, so now you have an opportunity to strengthen the relationship. Gain rapport with your customers by being yourself and getting to know them.

    4. Set reminders ahead of the renewal date. Thomas says that the average global 1000 corporation has more than 40,000 active contracts at any given time. If your company sells ongoing services, salespeople can set reminders to renew the annual contract well ahead of the actual renewal date, typically at least 60 days in advance. This will give you plenty of time to work through negotiations and approvals before the contract expires.

    5. Perform continuous engagement for requalification. If your business solves a specific problem (rather than a continual service), you must realize that once that need is met, it's not a motivator for the next sales cycle. Staying partnered with your customers enables you to discover what problems the customer may have now and what their new needs are, according to Thomas.

    Your success as a sales professional is contingent upon the success of your customers. When you focus on adding value and not just making a sale, you can establish a lasting relationship that benefits both parties.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: Julie Thomas is president and CEO of ValueSelling Associates. She is a noted speaker, author and consultant with more than 24 years of experience in sales.

    Used with Permission from PPAI and PCT.

  • November 18, 2019 8:33 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)


    Chris Arranaga
    Gorilla Marketing (Distributor)


    • What is your title/role within your company?
      President
    • What do you like best about your company?
      The people. It really is all about the people who I am privileged to work with. They make us what we are at Gorilla Marketing.
    • How were you introduced to the promotional products industry?
      I started by selling t-shirts out of my dorm room as a freshman at UCLA; which lead to a variety of other products popular on campus, like glassware, hoodies and hats.
    • If you had to pick one, what is your favorite promotional product?
      For the ability to create meaningful art; t-shirts offer the impact, the larger format and significant impressions for the client.
    • Tell us something about you that most people may not know.
      I plan to be in a sanctioned boxing match next year.


  • November 18, 2019 8:31 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)


    Julie Andrew
    Cardplant (Supplier)


    • What is your title/role within your company?
      Promotional Products Sales Manager
    • What do you like best about your company?
      Cardplant's eco-friendly commitment
    • How were you introduced to the promotional products industry?
      At the promotional companies I have worked for.
    • If you had to pick one, what is your favorite promotional product?
      Greeting cards
    • Tell us something about you that most people may not know.
      I have a BFA in graphic design which gives me an advantage in my position.


  • November 18, 2019 8:28 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    If you followed the happenings of PPAI’s Leadership Development Workshop (LDW) a few weeks ago, you likely saw everything from cowboy hats and armadillo racing to comical costumes and karaoke contests.  But what you may not have seen were connections being made across 27 regional associations, conversations being had about the future landscape of our industry and what that means for each regional, and Board members and Executive Directors learning about the numerous tools and resources available to efficiently and effectively lead.  For industry leaders who represent their region, LDW provides the perfect environment to come together and share ideas, best practices and even vulnerabilities. 

    As the Executive Director for SAAC, and this being my first time attending LDW as a participant, what I gained was invaluable.  To share the experience with five SAAC Board members and 147 other passionate regional leaders was yet another reminder of how fortunate I am to be a part of this Association and industry.  

    In one of the LDW sessions, Paul Bellantone, CAE, President and CEO of PPAI, reminded us, “The pace of change will never be as slow as it is today.”  For an association that recently witnessed more than its fair share of change and challenges, I find Paul’s comment motivating. Day by day, the SAAC Board and I are laser-focused on actively providing benefits, support and resources to best serve our members and the promotional products industry in Southern California.  And while it doesn’t seem like big things are happening every single day, I’m confident we’ll all look up in a year and think, “Wow. Look at everything we were able to accomplish together.”

    -Jennifer Bingham
    Executive Director of SAAC

  • November 18, 2019 8:27 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE; Stephanie Critchfield, vice president and national sales manager at distributor The Vernon Company, based in Newton, Iowa, and Cliff Andrews, PPAI’s D.C.-based lobbyist, were on Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers about a new bill that directly affects the promotional products industry. Bellantone and Critchfield met with staff at the offices of Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa (above, with Sen. Ernst's legislative aid, Tyler Brown), who introduced the legislation, and later Bellantone and Andrews met with staff of Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who co-sponsored it.

    Sen. Ernst's bill, "S.2722, A bill to prohibit agencies from using federal funds for publicity or propaganda purposes, and for other purposes," was introduced on October 29 and has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Also referred to as the "Stop Wasteful Advertising by the Government Act," or the SWAG Act, it names a series of prohibitions against federal spending on advertising including "a product or merchandise distributed at no cost with the sole purpose of advertising or promoting an agency, organization, program or agenda." The bill's text goes on to name several products that are popular in the promotional products industry, such as apparel, thermoses and tote bags, along with numerous other items.

    In conversations with the Senators’ staffs, Bellantone says he found them to be open to PPAI’s position that, while the Association is in favor of balanced budgets and the responsible use of taxpayer dollars, promotional products companies and practitioners are an important part of their communities and economy, and promotional products are proven to be one of the most effective forms of media available to advertisers. The messages they carry help governments at every level to keep citizens informed, safe and well prepared.

    "We learned that the purpose of this legislation was to stop government agencies from promoting themselves, not to prevent them from educating consumers on agency programs," says Bellantone. "Senator Ernst's office is reaching out to the agencies right now to try to find the language that would allow them to accomplish their specific objective versus a blanket statement that harms our media. We've asked for a place at the table in creating that language and for continued progress on this bill."

    Bellantone adds, "This bill is still in the very early stages right now, but we've started the process by making them aware of the unintended consequences of using a chainsaw instead of a scalpel in crafting legislation. There is still a lot of work to do. It was critically important to have Stephanie Critchfield, a fourth-generation member of The Vernon Company and one of Senator Ernst's constituents, at the meeting this morning. Our success will be a combination of our trade association's efforts, direct contact from constituents and powerful influence from our industry at large. I urge all PPAI members to remain active and vigilant on this issue."

    PPAI also has an active lobbying presence in Washington, D.C. to monitor these types of legislative initiatives. The S. 2722 bill will be added to PPAI's Legislative Agenda as part of the Association's annual Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.) event where PPAI leaders and industry professionals meet directly with their members of Congress. L.E.A.D. will take place in Washington, D.C. May 6-7, 2020.

    Follow PPB Newslink to learn more about the bill’s progress, how PPAI and its partners are carrying the industry’s message to Capitol Hill and what industry members can do to educate Congress on the effectiveness of promotional products and advocate for the industry.

    Used with Permission From PPB Newslink

  • October 16, 2019 9:14 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    The Specialty Advertising Association of California (SAAC) has decided to alternate the location for its annual trade show, SAAC Expo, the largest of its kind in California. This year the show was held in San Diego. In 2020, SAAC is moving it to the Anaheim Convention Center for the first time. Dates for the show are August 6-7, 2020. In 2021, SAAC Expo will move back to San Diego on August 12-13, 2021. The show is also transitioning to a Thursday/Friday schedule, making each location more attractive as a destination event for attendees and exhibitors. The second day of the show will include an invited client component where distributors can invite their customers to walk the show floor.

    “On behalf of the SAAC board of directors, we are excited to provide our membership with an all new SAAC Expo experience. By alternating venues, we can bring together the industry’s top professionals all under one roof and in locations that best serve our suppliers and distributors,” says Tara Villanueva, incoming SAAC board president. “The board would like to thank our members for the continued support and dedication to the regional association. Please mark your calendars and join us. We are looking forward to seeing you all soon.”

    SAAC's mission is to support the California promotional products industry by engaging and meeting the needs of industry professionals and the businesses they serve. Alternating the host city for the annual trade show allows the association to best serve the geographically diverse membership most conveniently.

    “Having the SAAC Expo alternate locations would be a great thing to look forward to each year,” says SAAC member Ray Jimenez of The Magnet Group. “Alternating locations could increase the attendance based on the geographical location of the show. I know several LA County and Orange County distributors would be excited to have the show in Anaheim. Plus, the Pacific Surfliner stops right in the heart of the action of both locations, making them easily accessible destinations for distributors.”

    Exhibitors that register before December 31, 2019 will be included in the early space assignment and eligible for an early-bird discount. Distributors will be invited to register and invite their clients in the spring of 2020. Click here for show details.

    This article is from PPB Newslink and has been used with permission from PPAI.

  • October 16, 2019 9:13 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    The Specialty Advertising Association of California (SAAC), the regional voice of the promotional products industry in Southern California for more than 60 years, has announced the addition of Angela Taylor, marketing director at industry business services provider DistributorCentral, and Rhett Todd, managing partner of supplier PrintGear, as the newest members of the SAAC Foundation Board for 2020.

    “The appointments of Rhett and Angela to our board continues to solidify the direction of the SAAC Foundation,” says SAAC Foundation Board President Michael Bistocchi. “With their hard work and dedication to the SAAC community and their previous experience as officers on the SAAC board, they will be a great asset to the Foundation. As we continue to grow, Taylor and Todd will work to create additional fundraising strategies for our college-bound constituents. They will help assure the board reaches its goal of awarding scholarships of $25,000 in 2020.”

    The SAAC Foundation’s mission is to grant scholarships to family members of Specialty Advertising Association of California’s members to promote professional, academic or artistic achievement in post-secondary education.

    “I am honored to be a part of the SAAC Foundation board next year,” says Todd. “I am looking forward to working with such a dynamic board in support of this incredible cause. The SAAC Foundation has done so much to further the mission of SAAC Foundation. I am excited to work with both SAAC and the SAAC Foundation in continuing this tradition.”

    Taylor says, “I am very eager to continue to serve the SAAC community by joining the SAAC Foundation board. They are the most passionate group of volunteers and SAAC past presidents, and I’m happy to be one of them.”

    Taylor and Todd are set to join a board that currently includes Board President Michael Bistocchi of Inkcups, Steve Parker of Starline, Beverly Walter of Brown & Bigelow, Craig Reese of Jack Nadel, Kate Alavez of PromoShop, and Jacque Martin of Brown & Bigelow.

    The organization is hosting its annual golf tournament in honor of Jim Buescher on October 24 at the Brookside Golf Club. This is in conjunction with a VIP Stadium Tour of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Click here for more information.

    This article is from PPB Newslink and has been used with permission from PPAI. 

  • October 16, 2019 9:12 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    In September, California’s legislature passed new legislation affecting worker status for employees and independent contractors. California Assembly Bill Number 5 effectively bans companies from classifying most workers in California as independent contractors. The law also outlines some exceptions to the new rule and establishes a three-pronged test for determining independent contractor status in California. The first element of the test requires the worker to be free from the control of the hiring organization. This condition must exist in the text of the contract as well as in the practice of the contractor’s work. The second element of the test requires the work being performed to be outside the normal course of business for the hiring organization. The third element of the test is a requirement for the contractor to be involved in an occupation or trade that is independently established and the same type of work that is being performed for the hiring entity. This test makes the presumption that a worker is an employee unless all the elements are demonstrated by the hiring organization.

    The legislation, which amends the California labor code, also makes exemptions for some workers and circumstances. The exempted occupations include attorneys, doctors, direct sales salespersons, and numerous others. If a worker does not fall under one of the exceptions named by the legislation, there is a chance they may be classified as a professional services contractor and exempted from the new guidelines. The law also names several criteria for an individual to qualify for the professional services exemption, including the person maintaining a business located outside of the hiring organization's address, a requirement for the person to have a business license and several other conditions. This new law was signed by California's governor in September and goes into effect on January 1, 2020.

    This information has been provided from PPAI's Government Relations Today and used with permission from PPAI. 

  • October 16, 2019 9:10 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Negotiation is an important skill set, yet many sales professionals overlook it. After you invest time and resources to develop a pitch and sit down with a prospect, it only makes sense to come prepared to negotiate.

    James Meincke, director of marketing at CloserIQ, says the key is to create a negotiation strategy in advance. We share his tips on how to do it in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

    1. Plan a timeline. As you approach your prospect , Meincke recommends setting a personal goal date or deadline so you can better organize yourself. Have an idea of when each step should be taken, from first contact to follow-up, all the way to actually closing the deal. Try to keep to your scheduled plan.

    2. Know what your prospect wants. Know the details of their product/service and how their business operates. This knowledge allows you to adapt your sales presentation to focus on how your own product/service can meet their needs.

    3. Understand the market and industry standards. Aside from knowing what your customer needs, you also need to learn about your competitors and what they offer, says Meincke. Have an idea of the price average for what you are selling and know what the market demands.

    4. Be clear and transparent. There is no room for miscommunication when you are trying to come to an agreement with your customers. Be as clear and transparent as possible about your terms, your services and/or products and your prices. Meincke advises sales reps to always explain the benefits of closing a deal. Tell the prospect how your product can provide a solution to their pain points. Use data and statistics to give more credibility to your claims.

    5. Don't be afraid to set the price anchor. The price defines the value and worth of your product, making it key to position it properly. Meincke admits that creating a pricing strategy is a challenging and complex process and one that requires extensive research. Salespeople must know how to pitch terms confidently the minute they step into the price conversation.

    6. Listen closely as you negotiate. Meincke says negotiating should not be about pushing what you want to sell based on your goals; it should be about offering the option that is most likely to be the right fit for a customer. Active listening is essential for you to understand your client's needs and to adapt your offer to be as appealing as possible to the prospect.

    7. Answer questions patiently. Rushing to a close will only hurt your negotiation process because it will seem like you only care about the final result. Prospects have the right to ask as many questions as they'd like before making a final decision.

    8. Know what you're willing to compromise on. Sometimes, there are products or services which a customer just can't be persuaded to buy or they just can't afford to buy. Know what can be negotiated about your offer and be ready to give and take to meet your prospect halfway.

    9. Know when to walk away. If a sale is dragging on or the client is pushing you to compromise more than you can, it's often best to walk away and focus on another client.

    Don't invest all your energy in your research and pitch. Spend some time practicing your negotiation process to achieve the best results for you and your company.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: James Meincke is the director of marketing at CloserIQ. Previously, he worked as a recruiter at ManpowerGroup and as a freelance social media strategist.

    This article is from Promotional Consultant Today and used with permission from PPAI.


  • October 16, 2019 9:08 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)



    Craig Weiss
    Vice President of Sales & Marketing
    Initial Impression

    • What is your title/role within your company?
     Vice President of Sales & Marketing, but since we are a small business I have literally done every job here from graphic arts, order processing, invoicing, apparel decorating, award engraving, order delivery and trash collecting.
    • What do you like best about your company? 
    The fact that we are a family owned medium sized distributor we are flexible to adapt to the needs of our clients.
    • How were you introduced to the promotional products industry? 
    Initial Impression started as an engraving and award company 36 years ago. 30+ years ago our clients were asking for mugs, pens, etc. Now promotional products, apparel is over 90% of our business. I joined the family business full time in 2000 after the dot com crash and never looked back.
    • If you had to pick one, what is your favorite promotional product? 
    So hard to pin down – as a frequent business traveler I constantly use promo items – so I’ll pick two. My TenFour power bank from OrigAudio and H2GO water bottle from ETS.
    • Tell us something about you that most people may not know. 
    Every year I participate in the Padres Pedal for the Cause bike event that raises nearly $3 Million for San Diego cancer research. Last year I rode the century (100 miles) and it nearly broke me.


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Camarillo, CA 93011

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