Easy As Pie

You have to love the short work week before Thanksgiving. Its arrival signals the year is just about ready to call it a day. By lunchtime tomorrow, you can kick up your feet and start writing out a quality to-do list for when you return from this long and well-deserved weekend. You're entitled to enjoy a slow week when it shows up, right?

On second and a more productive thought, this is the ideal week to run harder than you have the whole year. A slow business week like this is the time to turn up your sales dial, because most of your competitors have turned theirs down--so the media-buying community you cover will more easily recognize your efforts.

Let me give you an example of this kind of market timing. When I was buying print pages, the sales staff at U.S. News & World Report would work harder on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving than any other publisher in the business. They would deliver apple pies--in white boxes, with the magazine's logo tactfully inscribed--to literally everyone they called on. The idea was brilliant: sponsor dessert at every media buyer's Thanksgiving dinner.



The execution took a tremendous amount of effort. The delivery of the pies brought the US News sales staff out in force to all their agencies within hours of shutting down for the holiday. I recall one of my colleagues waiting in her office, bag packed, ready to take off for the weekend--but not without her pie. What stood out was how US News waited until Wednesday to ensure the pies were fresh and they were the last imprint made on buyers before the break.

Sellers have always used food to connect to buyers. Perhaps it is too late to pull off something creative for this Wednesday. However, when you return to work on Monday, your competition will be dragging--as will your buyers. Consider sending buying teams on your key accounts a gourmet fruit platter with a note welcoming them back to work with food other than turkey.

There is an old adage in baseball meant for hitters that goes something like this: "hit em where they ain't." If you look for selling opportunities by going where your sales competition ain't, you are bound to get your share of hits. The market itself will present some of those opportunities, like this coming Wednesday, when everyone dozes off enough to hit a home run by simply delivering a pie. What is your plan for the next chance to go where the competition ain't?

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