One of the most frequent requests I have heard throughout my career is “May I have your card?” Whether it’s a sales call or business-to-business (B2B) networking, the practice of swapping custom business cards is the most common way to make an introduction. So why do so many merchant level salespeople (MLSs) arrive at meetings and trade shows without them?
I’m always surprised when, during the “get to know you” part of a committee meeting, someone in the room announces they have “forgotten their cards.” Or when someone visits our booth at a trade show and is unable to leave a card because they don’t have any with them. In sales, forgetting your business cards is like forgetting your pants.
The most effective way I’ve found to remember people I’ve met is to retain their business cards. During our conversations, I often take quick notes on the back of the cards that I can refer to later, such as jotting down a reminder about something from our meeting, an action item I have agreed to or something they have committed to me.
Once back at my desk, I review the stack of cards. I write thank you notes, delegate action items, pass along leads and the myriad of follow up details that occur after a business trip. Without the cards, I’m left only with an attendee roster and pads of paper.
Your cards should include your name, phone number, fax number, e-mail and street addresses and company logo. This information should be produced in a color and font that are easy to read. I recently received a business card that had been printed with pale lavender five-point type in order to fit all of the information the proprietor wanted on the card. A lot of information was there, but I couldn’t read it-even with my bifocals on!
Make sure you proofread your business cards before they are printed. Here’s an easy trick to use when proofreading to ensure what is to be printed is correct: Read each line backwards, from left to right and from bottom to top. This will force you to look at each word and number, instead of only skimming the information that you are so familiar with.
Keep a supply of custom business cards in your wallet, briefcase, car, computer bag and desk, and invest in a simple business cardholder to protect the cards and keep them looking crisp and clean. Most importantly, give your business cards away.
Many sales managers monitor their sales staffs’ activities based on the number of business cards each rep collects during the day. You can easily rate the effectiveness of your daily routine by counting the cards your collect. You’ll have a better idea of how many leads you’re generating if you give a card each time you receive one.
Your business cards are one of the most productive pieces of collateral you will generate. Consider them the seeds of your business, and scatter them widely.