John Ruhlin of The Ruhlin Group joins The Solopreneur Hour's Michael O'Neal to talk sales, gift-giving and more!Sales: love it or hate it it is THE skill that makes or breaks your business. And no one knows that better than John Ruhlin, the number one sales guy for Cutco. Cutco is largest cutlery manufacturer in North America and is one of the largest direct sales companies in the world.

While still holding that record and his standing with Cutco, John went on to found The Ruhlin Group. His firm specializes in year-round strategic gifting and appreciation programs to connect with C-level executives.

On episode 375 of The Solopreneur Hour John joins us to talk about all of that and more. Kick back, listen in and enjoy!

More About John Ruhlin

John’s initiation into the world of sales, gift-giving and business is a bit of a circuitous one, like it often is for solopreneurs! He grew up in rural Ohio, about 1.5 hours south of Cleveland. When he went to college he started off pre-med, he wanted to be a doctor.

To pay for that degree he began working for a cable company. After falling off a ladder several times (from 30 feet) and not getting hurt, he realized it was a wake up call. He needed to do something else to pay for school, or he might not be so fortunate the next time he fell! So he joined his friend who sold Cutco knives.

While with Cutco he had terrific sales training: he learned the art of overcoming objections and how to build relationships. One of those relationships was with his girlfriend’s dad. That man taught John the true key to giving gifts, creating referrals and solidifying relationships: give gifts that take care of the receiver’s inner circle (like the receiver’s spouse, significant other, assistant, and/or children) and you’ll create a bond for life.

You’ll Also Hear:

  • How often should you give gifts?
  • When did he know to switch his pre-med studies to PR and marketing?
  • One key question to ask yourself before giving a gift.
  • Why it’s not just the thought of giving that counts.
  • How can gifts keep you top of mind with someone?
  • And so much more!

On today’s episode John shares his craziest gift that he ever gave, and how it brought him referrals and exposure that millions of dollars in advertising would never have gotten him, as well as the keys to getting started with giving gifts, whatever your budget.

The keys to getting started are simple: personalize the gift, make it a surprise and make it something they can use repeatedly. All too often we receive personalized gifts, but they are personal to the SENDER, not the recipient.

Think about the last conference you went to or meeting you attended – what swag did you get? Did it have the company’s name on it or yours? Odds are it had the company’s name on it, and odds are you either tossed it in a drawer somewhere or gave it to Goodwill. No one wants to wear a polo shirt with your company’s name on it, nor do they want a mug with your logo on it – not unless you’re Nike, Lululemon or the like.

Instead make the gift you give personalized with their name, or engrave it to their entire family. One of John’s favorite gifts to give as a follow up when meeting someone or after they’ve set aside time to talk with him is a personalized Cutco knife with a handwritten note.

Whatever gift you’re giving ask yourself if you would give that gift to them at their wedding. If the answer is yes it’s a gift you can give. If the answer is no you need to rethink the gift and your personalization of it.

The second key is to make it a surprise. Don’t tell someone you’re sending them a gift – it ruins the surprise! Once you tell them they’ll start worrying you’re going to send them something they won’t like or won’t be able to use. Human beings as a whole love to receive a gift out of the blue, so make sure to surprise your recipient.

And whatever gift you are giving make sure it’s the nicest gift you can possibly give. If you can only afford a gift make it the nicest, best mug out there. If you can’t give the first class version of what you want to give then give another class of gift.

A terrific standby is a handwritten note. How many of us receive handwritten letters anymore? Few of us, and for those of us who do we don’t receive them often. If you have terrible penmanship consider using a service like MailLift, a company that will handwrite a letter from you and even put your postage stamp on the letter! It’s a great way to get into the habit of giving gifts.

Listen in for more suggestions from John, including some good quality gift ideas to start with, what his company provides for people and how to start working with them. It’s all here on episode 375 of The Solopreneur Hour.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What did you learn from John today that will change the way you do business? Let us know in the comments below!

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Selected Links and Resources From This Episode

John Ruhlin’s website
John Ruhlin on Twitter

The Solopreneur Hour on the Twitter
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