by Ryan H. Law
In a previous post I shared the importance of writing thank-you notes on a regular (preferably daily) basis.
In this post we are going to discuss how to supercharge your card writing by learning about Joe Girard, who was considered the “world’s greatest salesman” by The Guinness Book of World Records.
Now I know that you may object to the term “sales.” After all – the terms “salesperson” is for a commission-based variable annuity salesperson, right? Well, regardless of the way you do business (commission, hourly, fee-based, subscription) you are in sales.
You have to sell yourself and the services you offer.
In addition, I believe we can learn a lot from any industry, which is why I bring in psychology, neuro-science, and many other disciplines into my teaching and writing. Sales is one of those areas from which we can learn much.
Joe Girrard had a tough upbringing. He was born in 1928 – right as the Great Depression was starting. His father was a tough man who regularly kicked Joe out of the house. Joe would end up sleeping on train cars or anywhere else he could find. Joe eventually left-home and spent several years in a variety of jobs, none of them sticking or making him successful.
When Joe was 35-years old he decided he was going to sell cars. He worked at a Chevrolet dealerships in Michigan, and learned everything he could about sales. He sold cars from 1963-1978.
In those years Joe sold 13,001 cars, including 1,425 in one year (1973), a record which stood until 2017.
Joe went on to write several books about selling and doing training courses, a second career at which he was extremely successful.
Joe had a couple of sales secrets that made him the best car salesman:
- He hired two assistants out of his own pocket to handle paperwork, including pre-qualifying customers and setting up appointments.
- He sent a thank-you card after every sale and a birthday card every year to every customer.
The biggest thing that Joe did, however, was that every customer got added to his card list. Joe commissioned a local artist to draw 12 designs for the year – celebrating New Years, Groundhog Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, etc.
Joe and his assistants would send out an astonishing 13,000 cards – every single month. Some accounts said he eventually got up to 16,000 cards.
They simply said:
I like you – Happy New Year!
That’s it. Every single month. Customers looked forward to his cards and collected them.
Girard once said that, “Personalized mail is the best thing anybody can receive…”
In his initial thank-you note it had a postscript that said, “If you know someone who might be looking for a car for themselves or a family member, would you remember to send them my way? Thanks so much.” That is the extent of the selling he did with his cards, though.
The cards were a simple way to stay in touch, keep Joe in the forefront of people’s minds and to let them know that he likes them.
Whenever they (or a family member, or a friend) needed a car, who do you think they went to? To Joe Girard, of course.
People would travel from all over the place to buy a car from Joe, often waiting several days to get an appointment with him.
How can this help you in your business? We know that people do business with those they know, like, and trust. Sending cards is one way you can build some good will with customers.
I personally don’t think that the annual Christmas card is enough.
Why not try something similar to what Joe did? Certainly you don’t have 16,000 people you would need to mail cards to like Joe did. What about your top 25 clients? Or top 10? You could even choose 3-4 holidays if you don’t want to send twelve. Hire an artist to draw up the designs and print up cards using those designs.
Keep the message simple like Joe did. It certainly can’t hurt to give it a try!
- If you are going to implement this idea, choose the holidays you will send the cards out on and find an artist to draw up cards. Have them incorporate your company name and logo into the design.
- Write and address the cards by hand. If you don’t have good handwriting, hire someone who does and you can just sign the cards.
REFERENCES AND RESOURCES:
- All of Joe’s books can be purchased on Amazon or other bookstores.
- For articles about Joe’s life see:
- There are services, such as SendOutCards, that send the cards for you. If you plan to send a lot of cards that may be something to look into.
- Joe Girard passed away in 2019, but his company still shares his story and products at JoeGirard.com