I have been involved in many conversations over the past few weeks about the impact and necessity of a handwritten note. In this age of digital communication, it is easy to think that it is more important to be quick with a response or a thank you. Especially in the sales world with which I claim familiarity. I would like to share a few brief stories of how handwritten notes have impacted my career.
The sale where it made a difference. As a sales manager, I often required the account executives to include me in sales calls of a certain value. This was for several reasons, but mostly because these were deals you did not want to loose because of a personality conflict or a missed negotiation. Clients would see my presence as an ego boost demonstrating that their company was of importance. Once, when we were in a highly competitive situation, it was the handwritten note that got the deal. The account execs did a great job of sending thank-yous from their blackberries as soon as they left a presentation, but I could tell this decision maker required more. I wrote a handwritten thank you and had a line specific addressing one of his concerns. The following Monday, he called to see if we could come the next morning to finalize the deal. When we got there, he pulled out my note and stated that I was the only one who addressed his concern, that’s why we got the deal. We certainly weren’t the cheapest.
Note from the new boss – Many of us have been hired by one person and at some point that person gets replaced. It is not often that person gets replaced within the first 6 months of your employment. That happened to me. However, the new CEO was very positive and wrote a specific note to each of the directors highlighting a trait or characteristic of ours that he looked forward to experiencing. For me, it was my creative and can-do attitude. I held on to that note, and whenever I had difficulty with this CEO, I would review it. It helped us a great deal in our communication.
In his posts, Handwritten Notes Matter, Don Gallagher discusses the 4 “S” guidelines. I agree with the first 3 that are handwritten notes are specific, short, and sincere. There is a level of sincerity that just by doing a hand written note implies, but use familiar names and being specific about the purpose of this note will only add to such sincerity. If you need to address more than one item, then you need to type a letter. I had a sales manager whose motto was “be brief, be brilliant, be gone”. Good rule for notes is 3 -4 sentences tops.
In the fundraising world, we often have too much geography or too large a donor portfolio. Like the title of this post, you can never say Thank you too often nor too late. Thank you notes are impactful connections with our donors. They are a great way to begin our day with a few notes that remind us who and why people support our organizations. Not too mention, they are great morale boosters for our colleague. Find out tomorrow how much different your day would be if you started it with a moment of gratitude and wrote a note to a long time supporter and a colleague. What impact would it have on that colleague’s day.