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Calling All Rock Star Sales Reps for a Contest

Filed under: Guest Blog, News About ASI

I love you:  Salespeople who didn’t view the bad economy the past year as a hopeless situation, but rather, looked at it as an opportunity to really stand out and get it done.  In a year that could have resulted in the death of any salesman (or woman), you rallied.

I come to my love of great salespeople from being the editor of Advantages magazine for many years and having written about them, read about them and gained the utmost respect for them.  And if you’ve read my columns in Advantages, you also know, I’ve been married to Steve, a sales executive, for 22 years.  (I was a child bride…no comments, Tim Andrews.)   I’m no stranger to your agonies of defeat, having heard about the “end of the month,” “making quota” and how sales “is not a 9 to 5 job, Kath,” time and time again.

On the flipside, I’m happy for your thrills of victory.  Through years of relationship-building, establishing trust and loyalty among his clients, and simply checking his BlackBerry daily, Steve wrapped up three sales while we were on vacation in Key West last week.  And, despite the economy, this is turning out to be one of his best years ever. Yes, I am a proud wife.  But I’m also proud of you…the dedicated and determined sales professionals in our industry who have hung in there and made it happen.

Sales pros are so important to a company’s bottom line that our sister publication, Counselor magazine, even named the distributor sales rep its Person of the Year. And at Advantages magazine, we also want to recognize outstanding sales performance. So we’re looking for entries for our first-ever Salesperson of the Year contest.  Think about it:  In the past year, did you come up with something really creative that led to a huge sale?  Did you have the largest sales volume in your company?  Did you go way over 100% of your quota, despite the challenging times?  Have you gone above and beyond for a client?  Are you the one and only ad specialty sales rep your client would ever work with?

If you think you or one of your colleagues could be a contender, send me an e-mail pronto to:  khuston@asicentral.com.  Let me know what makes you so spectacular in 100 words or less.  Write about the measures of your success and give us one of your sales secrets.  If you would like to include a client testimonial, do that too.  If you’re the winner, you’ll be in the spotlight because, let’s face it, you are a superstar in your own right.  Not only will you be profiled in our January issue, but you will also be the subject of a podcast interview.

In addition, a $500 Amex card and prizes to help you further succeed will be all yours. And of course, you will have bragging rights for the year…and maybe a crown.  I’ll think about that one.

– Kathy Huston is the editor of Advantages magazine at ASI.

ProfitMaker Speeds Your Monthly Close

Filed under: Industry Initiatives, Member Benefits, News About ASI

In today’s fast-paced marketplace, anything that speeds and simplifies business is a huge plus, which is why I’m excited about the new automated features in ProfitMaker that make running a business as easy as one, two, three.

ProfitMaker, the premier order management and accounting system, now allows distributors to schedule month-end reports to run automatically.  Users can choose to start the processing immediately or at a specific day and time, and reports will be stored in a corresponding and easily-accessible directory.   

The new enhancements also include:

  • Payments using credit cards: distributors and suppliers can order a payment to a credit card company, while simultaneously removing the open invoice for the related vendor being paid by the credit card. No paper involved.
  • Automated email alerts: distributors and suppliers can setup email alerts for key events in ProfitMaker to provide information to decision-makers when they need it. Examples include alerts for order follow-up, past-due invoices from customers and reorder notices.
  • Vendor document folders: documents, graphics files and scanned correspondence for each vendor (or item) can be stored in one document folder and accessed anytime within the order entry graphics tab.

According to David Wirth, president and chief operations officer of ASI Computer Systems, ProfitMaker gives distributors, suppliers and decorators more time for selling since it cuts time spent on order management and office tasks.

For more details, please read the press release here.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with ProfitMaker, so post a comment or email me here.  I’m also on Twitter and LinkedIn.

New ASI Study Reveals Third Quarter Sales Off 10.9%

Filed under: Research

Today we’re announcing the results of a new study that shows third quarter sales of promotional products are off 10.9% versus third quarter 2008. But while sales are still off, the study shows the decline is slowing and optimism is rising.

The exclusive ASI third quarter sales survey showed that the year-over-year sales decline among distributors represented a decrease of about $551 million in ad specialty sales compared to the same quarter last year, but also indicated that the 10.9% decline is less than the 13.9% decline in the second quarter and the 18.0% decline in the first quarter.  This is the fifth consecutive quarter that industry revenue has declined; the decline began in the third quarter of 2008, when sales dipped by 1.6%

Nearly 30% of respondents reported an increase in sales, up 11 percentage points from 19% in the second quarter.  Larger distributors ($1 million or greater in revenue annually) showed the smallest decline in sales, off 8.1% versus 12.8% in the second quarter. 

The message to take away from this study is one of cautious optimism. Almost every distributor and supplier I’ve spoken to over the last two months has told me that their sales are up this year versus last year.  

To view the full ASI quarterly sales report, click here.   Read the press release here.

I’d love to hear about your third quarter experiences, so post a comment or email me here.  I’m also on Twitter and LinkedIn.

New 70% savings on UPS Freight…the Real Deal

Filed under: Member Benefits, News About ASI

A keen competitive edge can often make the difference between closing a deal – or closing up shop – which is why I’m happy to announce that we’re now providing 70% savings on shipping with UPS Freight. 

Yep, 70%.  That’s more than any other industry shipping program. 

Whether you’re shipping something that weighs 150 pounds – or 10 tons (which pretty much covers everything from Oscar de la Hoya to a very large elephant), the discount is the same. It covers all shipments billed collect to a member company, prepaid from a member company, or billed to a member company as a third party.

Further, this program can be customized for every member and these special rates aren’t available anywhere else.  I’m especially pleased to continue a partnership with UPS first forged in 2004, when we first started helping members save thousands of dollars each year with exclusive shipping discounts.  

In addition to the actual shipping, UPS provides ASI members a menu of workflow products and features that leave more time for selling, including:   

  • Online tracking and desktop shipping.
  • On-time performance within the continental United States, backed by a no-fee guarantee.
  • Reliable offshore coverage, with complete service to NAFTA countries.

To read more in the press release, click here.

Let me know your experiences with UPS or any of our other dozen member benefits by posting a comment now.  Of course, you can also connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

The power of catalogs: new end buyer study

Filed under: News About ASI, Research

Want to turn the page on a down market?  I’ve got one word for you: “catalogs.”

According to an exclusive new end buyer study from ASI, paper catalogs drive 93% of purchasing decisions.  Need more?  The study also shows that 91% of the time, browsing a paper catalog leads to action — with nearly half those browsers spurred to buy something.

The full results of the exclusive study are available by clicking here.   

The study supports what we’ve been saying all along.  Catalogs are not only effective sales tools, but also serve as resources for buyers, who read them and get great ideas while discovering new products and hot trends.

The bottom line is catalogs are reliable, grow sales and provide a big bang for your buck. They’re a proven one-stop sales tool that gets clients excited – and shopping.

ASI is now rolling out its line-up of 2010 catalogs and I urge you to take a look.  Need a reason? How about 4 million of them? That’s the number of people that have seen our catalogs.

Let me know your experiences with catalogs by posting a comment now.  Of course, you can also connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Brave New World of Social Networking – Study Results

Filed under: Community

This year, I jumped on the social network bandwagon in a big way, using LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and finally Twitter to share industry news and post pics and videos. IMHO itz GR8.  For the uninitiated, that’s tweet-speak for “In my humble opinion, it’s great.”

So I was fascinated by the results of a recent ASI Research study showing that an increasing number of you are also tweeting, friending and posting on blogs.

Our results show LinkedIn – the online site for professionals – is used by about 54% of distributors and 46% of suppliers, with more than 85% using it for business purposes. 

Facebook – a more casual online site – has the greatest penetration in the industry overall, with 59% of distributors and 62% of suppliers indicating they have a Facebook account.  More than 60% of users say it’s for personal use only.

But, as the study shows, things are always evolving in the online space.  Nearly 90% of respondents feel social networking already is or will become a good way to promote their business.

Read the press release by clicking here.

Let me know your social networking experiences – good and bad – by posting a comment now.  Of course, you can also connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

LMK (let me know).

Suppliers can now View all Suppliers’ Products in ESP Online

Filed under: Industry Initiatives, Member Benefits, News About ASI

If you’re a supplier – check this out.  We’ve made some changes to ESP Online and I think you’ll love them:

—  You can now view products (without pricing) from all suppliers in ESP Online, to help you benchmark your offerings versus the competition.  If your product lineup is ahead of the curve, now you know.  If it’s behind, now you know, and you can adjust your marketing accordingly.

—  In addition, you can also view all ASI Supplier Ratings, so you see where you stand among other suppliers in the system.

Take advantage of the new enhancements today and improve your business so you can sell more.

The latest upgrade is being delivered automatically to current users and will be completed over the next several weeks.

To learn more about ESP Online and for a free demo, click here  To read the press release, click here.  I’d like to hear about your recent experiences with ESP Online, so post a comment or email me here.  I’m also on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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