Tag Archives: sales

A Customer Can Become a Lost Client

I have always tried to build relationships with existing customers with the goal of making them clients. A salesperson who becomes tagged as the promo person, the forms person, the printer, or––the hardest mold to break––the commodity person will never convert the customer to a client. What’s missing? The go-to person who has the solutions.

A lesson learned: I recently was fortunate enough to have a customer that ordered 10,000 T-shirts and hats a year. For five years, I was Joe the Promo Guy. One day, I received a call informing me that Larry the Promo Guy from Brand X beat my prices and Vanguard Direct was history. I guess that company was never a client to lose because I never had it (in spite of doing almost one million dollars’ worth of business with it in five-plus years). My contacts at the company had left, and the department had gone to another outsourcing group.

This is a hard lesson to learn, and it happens time and time again to salespeople in our industry. We now, however, have several clients that consider Vanguard Direct a solutions provider that offers a wide range of services. This is all due to the fact that we don’t go to our clients with products to sell––we go to our clients to listen to their problems, and we find solutions that meet their needs.

When is the last time you converted a customer to a client?

Author: Joe Corbo


“The Sales Game” – Communication Between You and Your Clients

Vanguard Direct, Utterly Orange’s parent company, if you will, continues to encourage engaging conversation among its employees while still keeping things lighthearted. At this year’s company kickoff meeting, we had the opportunity to discuss a relatively common agency/client conversation with a video that got everyone smiling—particularly those who knew the account people acting in it.

Bob O’Connell, our fearless President, generously lent us his office to ’60s-ify with hippie-style décor, complete with wildflowers and a lava lamp. Take a look at some of Vanguard’s employees taking themselves a little less seriously. And if you’re not doing it already, let’s hope you’re talking to your clients the same way Salesman #2 is soon.

I can’t tell who’s more handsome: the host or his mustache. Cast your vote now! (Kidding!)

Author: Eric Swenson

When Is It OK to Say No to a Client?

Are you insane? This goes against everything anyone in sales or customer service has ever been taught! The customer is always right, right? No! Is it right to promise what you can’t deliver? Is it right to tell the customer the job will be delivered in a short amount of time when you know it physically can’t be done? Is it right to tell a customer you have the capability to produce what you know your equipment or software isn’t capable of?

We always want to give customers what they want, even though we know we can’t always do that. But sometimes we need to say no if the client demands services that are prohibited, dishonest, or damaging to their brand, or if the client has extreme expectations. Consider this: Is it wise to say yes, work like a fiend, push your equipment beyond its limit, or spend all night writing a new program? No. This almost always results in an exhausted and frustrated employee, broken equipment, and a program that still doesn’t please the client. Disappointment is felt all around. It’s important to note that saying no doesn’t mean that you are ending your company’s relationship with a client. So, how do you say “no” without disappointing your most valued asset? When a client wants something that you can’t achieve, the best answer is to explain the reasoning behind the “no” and offer an alternative solution. People like being treated fairly. All the leading customer service and sales experts tell us to replace the word “no” with the statement, “Here’s what I can do for you.”

If you constantly give excellent customer service and your client is 99% satisfied with all that you do, it is always the better choice to say no when something cannot be done. Promise your absolute best, promise you will do everything “within reason” that you can, but remember that there is no shame in admitting defeat. And the most important lesson here is to admit defeat before you see “the whites of their eyes,” which will actually be the client seeing red if you constantly promise what you cannot deliver.

Bottom line: If you must say no, say it with empathy and clearness. Present an alternative solution so that the client doesn’t feel a loss of power. I personally dislike hearing “I understand how you feel.” Try to avoid that phrase. Everyone and everything has its limitations, which can often be overcome eventually. But for now, say no when you know deep down it’s the right answer.

Have you ever said no to a client? If so, want to share any stories that would help us all learn how to cope best with the situation?

Project manager Rob Mills offers great insight on when to say no to clients in this article.

Author: Doreen Doyle & Marina Kaljaj

9/11 Memories of 90 West Street and the Retirement of a Salesman’s Salesman

The first ad for the newly completed 90 West Street, future home of Vanguard Direct for 16 years between 1985 and 2001.

On November 17, after 23 years with Vanguard Direct, Richie Ravalia will be retiring. Richie is in sales, and although his charm, wit, and knowledge will be missed, what will be missed most of all is his personal dedication to his clients. When I first started here at Vanguard Direct, I sat next to Richie and was impressed that he kept index cards for each of his clients with personal information culled over years of talking to them. He would know children’s names, birthdays, anniversaries, etc., and would use these as reasons to call, which eventually would lead to an order. He was a salesman’s salesman.

Unbeknownst to many, I spent the morning of 9/11 with Richie and his wife, Mary, after evacuating Vanguard’s offices at 90 West Street. As the story goes, after the first tower collapsed, I found shelter in the cement halls of the old South Ferry building with about a dozen or so other frightened strangers. We were told to stay put because the second tower was coming down, which we did. After the second tower came down and the dust cleared, I emerged. I will never forget the dust-covered streets, the smells, and the sounds. One of the first sounds I heard was someone shouting my name: “Hey, Caska!” It was Richie.

With Mary clutching his arm, we eventually evacuated Lower Manhattan via the Staten Island Ferry, which was followed by a NYC bus ride to the foot of the Bayonne Bridge. We walked up the ramp with the intent of crossing the bridge by foot. We were headed the same way––Richie and Mary to their home in Cliffside Park , and me to the NJ Transit trains in Hoboken. As luck would have it, a Polish plumber in a van pulled over in response to my extended thumb (Richie says it was Mary’s leg) and gave us a ride to the light rail in Bayonne. Since the light rail was not complete, we could only go as far Port Imperial and then had to walk the balance of the way to Hoboken. Toward the end of our journey, I received a phone call, which I answered “Tony’s Pizza.” It was Ralph Fucci checking on me, not knowing I had company. He was relieved to hear our voices and learn that we were none the worse for the wear and tear.

That would be the end of the tale, but in the days leading up to Richie’s retirement, I was handed a copy of the Printers’ Ink publication from February 20, 1907. This was loaned to me by a friend from his small collection of letterpress-printed books that were left to him by an old-timer who had retired. They were printed by the man’s grandfather on letterpress equipment that had been scrapped for the metal as offset presses were replacing the old method of hand-set type.

As I skimmed the pages, an advertisement caught my eye on page 31. Here was one of the first ads for rental space at the newly completed 90 West Street, future home of Vanguard Direct for 16 years between 1985 and 2001. The ad reads “Location unsurpassed. Centre of the machinery, coal and iron trades … Architecturally the most beautiful office structure in the world.” Set to open on April 1st, 1907, the building had a grand restaurant on the 24th floor that connected to the roof garden in the summer. 90 West Street was one of the happier stories of 9/11: The building was directly in line with the falling towers but did not collapse. More than three-fourths of the floors were gutted by the flames, and two people lost their lives in the building that day. The woodcut in Printers’ Ink does not do the building justice, so I attached some of the newly restored photos to see the beauty the ad spoke about in 1907. When you look at the ad, you will see that the rental agents were some of our very own Traffic Coordinator Renee Cruikshank’s distant relatives: the Cruikshank Company.

Although Richie was not there for the opening (as some might suggest), as I think about it all today, he did have a connection to 90 West Street.

All the best in the world, Richie, from me––just some guy you met coming out of the ashes on a day we will never forget.

To learn why 90 West didn’t collapse on 9/11, click here.

Author: Tom Caska

Spotlight on Vanguard Direct’s Pennsylvania Office

Vanguard Direct’s headquarters are in New York City, but we have a total of five locations on the East Coast: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Florida. Our Pennsylvania office has nine employees based out of Fort Washington, PA and one employee based out of Florida.

The Pennsylvania office opened on December 1, 1999. They were established to help support our Philadelphia clients and expand our service markets in the mid-Atlantic region. Our Pennsylvania team works closely with our NYC headquarters. John Incollingo is part of our Upper Management team as the Regional Sales Manager and supports the office’s function to service and develop marketing opportunities.

Our Pennsylvania team has just recently moved from West Chester to Fort Washington in December 2010.  The move has allowed them to be more centrally located and to best serve their customer territory.  For the PA office staff, it has also improved the commute time and distance for most of the employees and has enhanced the office space. The new expanded conference room allows for onsite client presentations and serves as a training center for our staff.

The Pennsylvania office covers the five county area of Philadelphia, plus South Jersey, Delaware, and Florida. We have a very seasoned staff in the PA office – our sales team of five has over 125 years of experience, as well as our customer service team of five, has over 100 years of experience! That’s an average of over 22.5 years per person.

You can reach our Pennsylvania office at:
Phone: 267-468-0211
455 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 128
Fort Washington, PA 19034
Author: Stephanie Huston