‘It’s the people you meet along the way and how you treat them that opens doors,” says Annmarie Woods, senior regional vice president of New York Life.

It’s about being connected, says Woods. Makes sense, but before you jump on line and post a tweet or send a text, take a breath. Woods has a different take on being connected. Unless meeting with someone in person or speaking on the phone, her communication kit includes two main devices, pen and paper; the medium, a hand written note. That’s the kind of connection that will draw potential clients to you and keep existing clients happy, she says.

Woods will share her success stories and suggestions for growing a thriving business in a talk titled “Let’s get them talking about you: Client Acquisition and Retention Ideas,” Wednesday, August 19, 7:30-9:30 a.m. at the Nassau Club, 6 Mercer Street. Sponsored by the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce, this event is part of the Business Before Breakfast series and includes a full buffet. Call 609-924-1776 or register online from the events page at www.princetonchamber.org. $25; non-members, $40.

What attracts people to you and keeps them loyal is knowing that you are genuinely interested in them, Woods says. Calling a client or sending him or her a handwritten note or a small gift based on his interests shows that you value that person as an individual, not just another customer.

For instance, for Golfer’s Day this past April, Woods contacted a few of her clients who love the game of golf to let them know she was thinking about them. In another example, she recently sent her top New Jersey clients a small box of blueberry muffins. The connection? The blueberry is the official fruit of New Jersey, and July was National Blueberry Month. Woods included a personal note letting them know she values their business and friendship. “I received so many calls from very happy clients because of that one simple act,” she said.

When your communication with clients connects with their interests and their environment, it keeps you on their radar screen, says Woods. Thank-you notes can especially go a long way.

You can send notes at any time but certain occasions should be part of your sales process: after each client meeting, after key phone calls, after purchases, after referrals, after reviews, whenever anyone does anything nice for you, and for older clients to remind them how much you appreciate their business.

Woods has found that handwritten notes increase influence and trust and tip the scale in favor of the sender when being compared to the competition. At the very least, a note can be memorable for the recipient, and it reflects a level of sophistication on the sender.

A graduate of Regis College outside of Boston, Woods became interested in financial and investment strategies while studying political science there. Fascinated by the way people relate to each other and world around them, she found money to be a common influence in most relationships. “Everyone relates to money,” she says. “Money moves the world.”

With her interest in finances and interpersonal communication, Woods found that working in sales within the financial services industry was a perfect career choice.

Woods says her parents were a positive influence in both her career and personal life. The oldest of four siblings, she grew up in Laurel Maryland through sixth grade before her family moved to Little Silver, New Jersey. Her father worked in sales for a beverage importer, and her mother took care of the family and worked in the legal department at Fort Monmouth. “My dad was charismatic and kind. My mom is the definition of a lady. I grew up in a close knit family,” she says.

As someone who has always enjoyed reading about public figures, Woods has found role models in other women, including Jackie Kennedy, Princess Diana, and Grace Kelly. When they communicated with others, they had a way of making people feel good about themselves, she says. What’s more, she adds, these women dressed for the occasion and always looked good.

While wardrobe is not the theme of Woods’ breakfast talk, she will share some tips about dressing not only for your next business meeting but while jogging in the neighborhood or strolling on the beach. Wearing a shirt or jacket with your company name and an interesting quote can be a conversation opener. Woods’ ideas about your appearance and the clothes you wear give a whole new take on the phrase, “dress for success.”

As the regional vice president of New York Life, Woods understands and practices what she recommends. She joined the company in 2005, and in her current role covers the wirehouse channel throughout New Jersey. She is responsible for mutual fund, annuity, and separately managed account distribution. With nearly 30 years of experience in the retirement plan marketplace, she has been a keynote speaker at many industry events on retirement planning topics. Previously, Woods held positions with Pioneer Investments and Prudential Securities.

“I’ve always worked in sales,” says Woods. “I’m talking from my own experience. In business and sales communications, what you give equals 90 percent and what your receive equals 10. But the 10 percent that comes back to you provides you a wonderful life.”

Along with Woods’ business relationships, she values a rich personal life. She is close to her grown children and is active in her church and community where she lives in Fair Haven.

“I have a great family and great friends,” says Woods. “You couldn’t ask for more.”

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