It All Really Comes Down to Time

Greeting readers. It has certainly been a long time since I’ve connected with you. Welcome back.

At the beginning of the year, I found myself traveling much more than I normally had to. In addition, we had an almost four month streak of members of our household getting sick. We have young twins and they just started going to nursery school. The amount of ear infections, sinus infections, colds, etc is staggering. Kids really are gross, but I love them.

I didn’t make the decision to get back to writing until about an hour ago. The reality is that Sales and Tonic took a backseat to life, and that’s okay. But, it is an outlet and I wanted to get back to it. I receive really positive feedback when sharing content and that’s what it’s all about. I’ve been reflecting on this a lot lately and have come to the conclusion that the most valuable commodity in the world is time. It’s the one thing that we all have the same amount of. We all have 24 hours per day and 7 days per week. If you read any self help book from a successful business person, or a blog from a star athlete, you will usually find a chapter dedicated to their routine and time management. This isn’t a coincidence. The most successful people in the world have an almost fanatical approach to how they manage their time.

A few months ago, we published this article which went into a schedule for aggressive sales prospecting. Aside from a few of our sales travel guides, this was one of the most well received articles we published. That tells me that time management is very important to our readers and you can expect more content like that in the near future.

Stay tuned.

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Fending off a Cold While Traveling

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Ahh, cold and flu season. You are a cruel bastard. You sneak up on us like a wood nymph in a dark forest and infect us with your stuffy gifts of phlegm and congestion.

There is no way to avoid this time of the year. If you have children, it is doubly bad since they are germ magnets and not really the best at sanitizing themselves. If you travel for business, check off another box. Airports, train stations, and most public places are cesspools of airborne disgustingness.

The best that you can do is to be prepared. Here are four tips to help protect against (proactively) and deal with (reactively) the common cold while on the road.

Airborne - we covered this a few months ago. Airborne (can be purchased here) may be nothing more than a placebo, or there may be truth to the claims that it overloads your system with Vitamin C and other key vitamins and minerals, thus supercharging your immune system. One way or another, I haven’t heard of anybody getting MORE SICK from this. I use this before, during, and after every trip.

Alka seltzer cold and flu tablets (found here) are another effervescent tablet that can make a big difference. These would be taken after the symptoms start and they really do help. Make sure you get the ones with a flavor, as the plain version tastes like liquid chalk.

DayQuil and NyQuil (link) are essential when you have a cold or flu. For me, they basically mask the symptoms long enough for my body to recover, but I am perfectly fine with that.

Last but not least, you need to drink lots of water for any of these to truly have the desired effect.

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Balancing a Travel Schedule With Family Life

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Talk to any career salesperson or really anybody who travels for business and they'll tell you that one of the toughest parts of the job is to maintain a work-life balance. Not only are you working hard, but your hours tend to be much more extended than people who solely work in an office. In addition, while travel has its benefits, it is also tough on the road. Delays, inclement weather, and other unforeseen circumstances have a way of beating you down into submission. If you also miss your family along the way, this can be demoralizing at times.

As a husband and father of two young children, I can speak to this from first-hand experience. The constant travel creates a lot of challenges on the home front. Because I am not home all the time, I believe that a little bit of resentment has built up in my wife. She is always with the kids and is in charge at home. Obviously, she supports me and knows why I do what I do, but it is only human to feel this way, especially in times of stress.

In addition, it is tough for me to miss a good chunk of the formative years of my kids lives. I often spend a lot of time talking about the benefits of travel and of the sales lifestyle, but it wouldn't be I completely honest blog if I glossed over the challenges. Fortunately, I picked up a few tips and tricks along the way to help any of you who may be in a similar situation cope.

  • When you are not traveling, be present for your family. Try to bookend business trips with family time

  • As hard as it may be I tried to book very early flights out so I get the entire day before with my kids and wife. I can always sleep on the plane

  • Video chat / FaceTime as often as possible. Because I usually catch  early flights, my wife and kids are normally waking up before I board. This gives me a chance to say good morning to them. I always talk to my kids before they go to bed as well.

  • Make sure you have open dialogue with your family about work and why you have to travel so much. With a spouse, this can help to reduce some unnecessary resentment and with kids, it is just a good practice to share this kind of stuff with them

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Introducing - Sales & Tonic Free Fashion/Style advice

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When we set out to create a travel and lifestyle blog for salespeople, we knew that it would have certain focuses. Business travel was a natural focus. Sales advice and tips were also a given, and we strive to make them a little bit off-centered to differentiate from the countless other sales blogs out there. We pepper in various tips relevant to the lifestyle of a sales professional on a regular basis. The final piece of the puzzle is Fashion.

Now, admittedly at the moment, our focus is on men’s advice but we have been working to find some female resources to assist as well. With that being said, we are proud to introduce free fashion/style advice. It is very straightforward. Just follow the link here and fill out the short form. Once you’ve completed it, we will receive an email and respond within 48 hours (aiming for 24) with a personalized response.

So, if you are trying to figure out what kind of tie to wear with a particular shirt, drop us a note. If you want to know what the heck cordovan is, fill out the form. If you are looking for a few key pieces to freshen up your wardrobe without breaking the bank, we will send you some recommendations.

For free style advice, please fill out the form here or simply email us at stylist@salesandtonic.com

Ways to Stay Productive During the Holidays

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A few weeks ago we posted our Year End Sales Survival Guide. It addressed some of the most common issues that salespeople deal with year after year. After all, it is not unique to hear from a prospect that, “they are busy with year-end stuff,” or my personal favorite, “call me back after the holidays to pick this back up.” Surprise, surprise, people rarely pick up in January. This time of the year can be demoralizing for salespeople who get stuck in a rut or don’t have a plan to maximize the time. Well, have no fear. Here are a few tips to stay productive and recharge during the holidays (typically from the week before Christmas through to New Year’s Day):

Take a vacation

The best way to recharge from work is to completely unplug. If possible, take the time off. Hang out with family or travel somewhere fun. Try to ignore work for at least a few days. The time away will help you to refocus and recharge so when you come back, you are back in the fighting spirit.

Call Key Q1 prospects

If you have people that you are forecasting to close early in the new year, there is no harm in giving them a quick ring to keep things on track. It doesn’t have to be a hard sell situation either. A perfectly acceptable approach is to call and ask them if there are any tasks you can take care of during the “downtime” of the holidays that will help to speed things up in the new year

Email every prospect and mine for additional contact information

For the prospects that you haven’t really reached or connected with yet, this is an interesting week to reach out. There is a very good chance that you will get a lot of out of office messages, but that is okay. If you email all of your prospects, you will probably get a lot of valuable information from their email auto-reply. Examples of this are the exact dates they are out, alternative contact information (only to be used in the most urgent matters), and sometimes even a co-worker or alternate person to reach out to. This information should be recorded in your CRM as it can be very valuable in the future

Knock out administrative tasks

Let’s face it, we don’t like doing admin work but we know that it is incredibly important. This is a great time to block off an entire day or more to do research and other admin which will help you focus on dialing when everybody is back in the office.

The holidays don’t have to be a complete loss of time and productivity. Implementing some of the tips above can definitely set you up for a fantastic new year. Happy Holidays!

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Back Up Outfits - The Surpise Stain Contingency Plan

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Here is a true story. I had to catch a very early flight this week. As I normally do, I had everything packed and ready to go and woke up around 3:30 in the morning. I never want to wake up my wife or kids so I always try my best to make sure everything is in order. On this particular morning I took a shower, shaved, got dressed, and felt like I was making great time. When I looked in the mirror I noticed to my own personal horror that I had a massive stain of some sort on the shoulder of my shirt. Honestly, I have no clue what it is, but that’s a mystery I’ll have to solve when I get back home.

Now, my brain doesn’t exactly work as well this early in the morning (this was pre-coffee) so as I tore through my closet looking for another shirt and tie combination to wear, I found myself wasting valuable time. I like to pride myself on being prepared for any situation, but this definitely caught me off guard.

In the past, I’ve had back up outfits already laid out for situations just like this. Shame on me for not being ready in this case, but I won’t make this mistake again. It doesn’t take much to pick out a neutral combination of pants, shirt, tie, and any additional accessories. Not only should you have one at home for situations like this, but when traveling, if you have space, you should probably bring one as well.

Luckily, my closet is fairly well organized. I swapped out my stained patterned shirt for a solid blue with an orange tie. Solid shirts are perfect for this situation. I recommend always having a couple of extra white and blue shirts as they pretty much go with anything.

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The End of Year Sales Survival Guide

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December 31st. The end of the month. That’s scary. The end of the quarter. That’s very scary. The end of the year. That is like the first time you saw the Exorcist and had no idea what was going on. It’s a sad reality for those of us in sales that the most festive time of the year is also potentially the most stressful time of the year from a business perspective. But, this is what separates the wheat from the chaff in our profession. It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Here are a few time-tested tips to end out the year strong, while setting the table for a strong start to the New Year.

Close out what you can

Odds are your sales quota does not just disappear on December 1st, so you will definitely want to close out as much business as possible before the ball drops in Times Square. This requires a lot of persistent outreach, and a few good rebuttals when your prospects tell you that things are really busy and they want to revisit things next year. Here are a couple of options:

Offer to lock pricing in if they proceed by the end of this year. Odds are, their business assesses pricing on a yearly basis and open projects are a part of that evaluation. Another possibility is that the proposal you put in front of them expires (if this isn’t the case, take that as a lesson learned. All proposals should have an expiration date)

Use any remaining budget before next year. Most businesses have a set cycle for establishing and using budget for certain projects. Many departments have a “use it or lose it” policy around budgets, where if they do not use their budget this year, it will not be there next year. You can position your service to fall into the current budget so they don’t lose it next year.

If all else fails, this is a great time to remind your prospect to get started on project before the end of the year. Many projects kick off at the beginning of January, so this is a chance to convince them that you can slip them in early, thus giving them a jumpstart when everybody returns after the holidays.

If not, prepare for next year

It is a lot easier to enjoy the fireworks when you’ve nailed your target

It is a lot easier to enjoy the fireworks when you’ve nailed your target

If there is no chance to close these deals before the year ends, then you should focus on building as strong of a pipeline as possible for next year. Many people take off between Christmas and New Year, but not everybody. This is an unexpectedly good time to prospect. You may catch people who are in the office trying to complete busy work and who are in more of a mood to talk because they aren’t bogged down in endless meetings. If not, there is a very good chance that you will get out of office messages from a lot of people. These are valuable because they will often contain contact information of people that you can reach out to in the absence of your main contact. In addition, many contacts may leave alternative contact information to get in touch with them (just use sparingly as you do not want to call somebody’s personal phone if they are off spending holiday time with family.

Finally, this is a good time to nurture your pipeline for next year. Reach out to as many people in your pipeline for next year as possible and start getting the wheels in motion a couple of weeks early. You will thank yourself when all of your colleagues are two steps behind you in early January.

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Yoga Exercises for the Business Traveler

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Recently we shared a few tips on being more productive in the morning. One of the recommendations was to incorporate some type of yoga workout into your morning. This goes doubly when traveling for business.

The benefits of yoga are well known but lend themselves nicely to business travelers. Most importantly, yoga is a stress reducing exercise. It stretches you in ways that reverse the extremely adverse effects of planes, trains, and automobiles (not to mention conference rooms). Yoga can help you sleep better. In addition, it has been shown to help people perform better. This is probably a combination of reduced stress, better sleep, and less pain. Sign me up!

There are a few myths about the amount of time and the type of clothes/equipment you need to do yoga. Most notably, there is the yoga mat. While this can help the overall routine, it isn’t 100% necessary. If you don’t have a mat handy, just lay a sheet on the hotel floor. You can also modify your workout to ensure that the moves you’re practicing are conducive to that set up. In addition, yoga clothes are certainly helpful, but depending on the amount of time you are going to practice, they aren’t necessarily needed. I usually just wear gym shorts and a t-shirt. Speaking of time, how long do you need to do yoga to get benefit out of it? Not as long as you might think. Devoted yogis such as my wife normally practice for 60-90 minutes at a time. While nice, this isn’t practical when traveling for work, especially if you are trying to do other workouts in the morning. Honestly, even ten minutes of yoga can do a work of good for you.

Here are a couple of yoga mat suggestions that you can buy. Neither of them are expensive but they both do the job. The first one is the AmazonBasics brand and works perfectly fine at home or in the yoga studio. The second one is specifically designed for travel.

For your convenience, here are a couple of videos on YouTube that I’ve used while traveling:

Exercise 1 - 10 minute

This workout is only 10 minutes long but is incredibly effective at giving you a great stretch. It’s an effective way to wake up in the morning. Usually by the end during the child’s pose, I feel so much less tension in my neck and shoulders.

Exercise 2 - 20 minute

This is less a yoga workout and more of a flexibility workout but it accomplishes all of the benefits previously mentioned. If you can fit 20 minutes into your already packed morning schedule, you will absolutely thank yourself for it later in the day.

Exercise 3 - when sick

Unfortunately, business travel often leads to illness. No matter how much airborne you take or sanitizer you use, you can’t avoid germs and illness altogether. It’s so easy to stay in bed for an extra 30 minutes when you’re not feeling well, but the following work out is really useful in the situations. It doesn’t take very long at all, as it clocks in at under 10 minutes, but it will unscramble your tight muscles and give you a better shot at kicking off your day the right way. 

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One Reason NOT to Abandon Cold Calling

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After reading the article below, I found myself truly inspired to respond. I should probably lay out a few disclaimers.

Disclaimer 1: The author of the linked article is an authority on social selling, and raises good points about the value of social. My article is simply to argue for the continued benefits of cold calling.

Disclaimer 2: I believe that there needs to be a BLENDED approach, not one or the other

http://www.social-experts.net/why-the-phone-and-cold-outreach-no-longer-dominate/

Essentially, the author argues that DESPITE proof from legitimate sources (CEB/Gartner and Salesforce) he feels cold calling is fruitless. His “proof” is interesting to say the least. He cites a three year old “case study” which a friend conducted. The study:

  • States that for every 100 cold calls, you’ll have 4 outcomes, none of which are positive

  • You are told to go away

  • You are told they purchased 3 months ago

  • You are told to call back in 3 months

  • You get voice mail

  • He argues that with Social Selling, you’ll have a better ability to nurture, engage, etc

To be clear, I don’t disagree with the value of social selling, but I 100% wholeheartedly disagree about abandoning cold calling. What the author doesn’t mention is that phone calls allow you to connect human to human, voice to voice. Despite all of the advancements in technology and AI, there is still something very real that can be conveyed on the phone.

The sale starts from the no. If every salesperson gave up when they were told no, the profession wouldn’t exist. This is what separates the good from the bad.

But, the number one reason I would argue to continue cold calling is BECAUSE of articles like this. The more people, such as the author, who stop cold calling, the more likely people like us are to get through. The phone will become a differentiating channel and will seem all the more personal. 

Sales Travel Guide - Philadelphia

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I’ve spent a ton of time in Philadelphia and for the life of me, I still don’t understand how it earned the moniker, “The City of Brotherly Love.” That’s not to say that Philadelphians aren’t great people, but Brotherly Love is not the first thing that comes to mind. Philly is known for its very straightforward communication style...and for throwing snowballs at Santa Claus.

Airport:

PHL (Philadelphia International Airport) - With six terminals across all major US airlines plus half of A Terminal being reserved for International Flights, PHL is a key airport for the East Coast. Frankly I’d choose to fly from PHL over anywhere in New York, New Jersey, DC, or Baltimore 10 times out of 10. Despite its size and number of flights, the flow of PHL is efficient and effective. There are plenty of dining options and car rentals are quick and easy.

Hotel Recommendation:

The Rittenhouse 1715 Boutique Hotel is located within a half mile of the Philadelphia Convention Center and is also very close to sites such as the Liberty Bell. It provides a more unique and personal experience than most of the chain hotels at a fairly reasonable price.

How to Sell to People in Philadelphia:

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In one word, Philadelphians are direct. No bullshit is the way to go. You might get away with some light sports talk, but if you are a Dallas Cowboys fan, or root for New York or New England teams, stay clear of starting any arguments. You will have to negotiate carefully and make it a point to let your prospect win some of the points. This is true for most situations but Philly is a city of scrappy underdogs and they love a good come from behind win.

Where to Take a Client for Lunch:

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Forget about a restaurant. Every Philadelphian has an opinion on which Cheesesteak is the king and they love to share their opinion. Tell your client that you absolutely have to have the best Cheesesteak in Philly and want them to make the decision for you. Odds are, you will wind up at either Pat’s or Geno’s near Passyunk Avenue. There are arguably better Cheesesteak places in other parts of South Philly but these are the two landmarks.

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Where to Take a Client for Dinner:

The Continental Martini Bar in Old City is a great dinner spot for casual yet upscale dining. You won’t be out of place at all in a suit but it is loud enough where you can let loose a bit and have a more informal business discussion

Where to Take a Client for Drinks:

Monk’s Cafe is known as one of the best places in Philly for a beer. In fact, they call themselves “The Soul of Belgium in the Heart of Philadelphia” and live up to that label. In addition to a great beer selection including some private label selections, Monk’s serves some of the best mussels on the east coast.

Something Touristy:

Philly is home to some of the most important sites and landmarks from America’s Revolutionary War and pre Constitutional period so you can and should go that route. In addition, you are a short distance away from any pro sports event you can imagine with all four major teams playing within a mile of each other. We would actually recommend a slightly longer commute to catch the Philadelphia Union Major League Soccer club in the nearby Chester waterfront.

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Daily Schedule for Aggressive Prospecting

Prospecting...real prospecting, is something that takes laser focus and coordination. A large majority of salespeople either largely ignore this critical task, or do it in an incredibly ineffective manner. Unless you have a crack team of Sales Development Reps (SDRs) or a wonderful Marketing team with a great lead generation program (ha!), in order to be successful in pipeline building you will need to invest a lot of time into cold calling. Honestly, even if you do have the marketing and SDR support, you should still spend time on prospecting.

Below is a sample schedule that we put together which covers a bed to bed routine which should yield tremendous, repeatable pipeline building results. There are a few concepts to pull out of this that might not seem as obvious to everybody, but I promise that they help a lot.

For one, you’ll see that we recommend starting your day at 5AM. While it may seem counterintuitive to start a busy and long day by waking up super early, the idea here is 100% about getting that worm! Some of the most successful people in the business world wake up earlier and there are a lot of benefits which we have covered before.

The meditation suggestion is there to help get you in the right mindset for a long and grueling day. Remember, sales is a marathon and you need to center yourself before jumping into it. Separating research and calling is very important. You really want to eliminate all distractions prior to picking up the phone. We highly suggest turning off email while calling as well, aside from anything you need to send email follow ups.

It is also very important to block off time to do administrative tasks, client research, to read articles about your industry and prospects, etc. Multitasking has a place in many professions, but we are suggesting a radical departure from it when trying to build up your pipeline.

If you follow this schedule, you will see some major pipeline generation in very short order. Remember, most of the sales professionals are getting away from the phone. All of a sudden, the telephone has become the biggest differentiator in sales. This is mind-boggling and insane to many of us, but it is a great potential opportunity for hard working sales maniacs!

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What is the Sales Lifestyle?

Sales is unique among professions as it is practically the only one where you can name your own salary and actually execute on it. The only limitation is the opportunity in front of you and how hard you’re willing to work to get it. With this level of opportunity and potential, comes a certain set of demands that people in other professions may not understand. Sure, doctors are responsible for life and death situations, as are police officers, firefighters, and other brave individuals, but this does not change the uniqueness of sales.

For these reasons, sales people often live a lifestyle that cannot be related to by others. Based on which decade and you look back on, the public impression of salespeople varies. Due to the popularity of several movies set in the 1980s, icons such as Gordon Gekko, Jordan Bellfort, and even Patrick Bateman have given the world an unfair perception of salespeople. They think of us as greedy, freewheeling, materialistic, dishonest, and inherently evil. But, those of us who have carried a bag in our career know that the true values which we live by a much more down to Earth. The best salespeople:

Work hard and play harder
Eat what they kill
Win at all costs

Very little has been written about the sales lifestyle, but as one of the most popular professions in the world, there is a real need for these insights. First, a salesperson must feel good about themself. We receive rejection on a very regular basis (and honestly, the more rejection you receive, the better you are probably doing). Our self confidence has to be recharged on a regular basis. Some salespeople will focus on building a personal brand, but I think it is more about looking and feeling good about yourself. Fitness, nutrition, and sharp fashion typically help do the trick.

For anybody who is in an outside sales role, traveling is a part of the job. Whether you are a world traveler or carry a local territory, being on the road has its set of demands. One of the best ways to survive and thrive in this type of role is to make the most out of business travel. Try new food, drink new drinks, and take advantage of getting to see the world on the company dime. If you have to be on the road, you might as well have a blast.
And then there is the scariest part of the lifestyle; the dreaded work-life balance. Whether you are single, married, have children, or anything in between, there are demands both at home and at work, and you can’t afford to ignore either of them. You absolutely need to strike this balance.

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Sales Travel Guide - Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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Airport:

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is the main airport for Amsterdam. It is incredibly busy (third largest in Europe) and very spacious. It would be even busier if it weren’t for the fact that so many Europeans and other travelers arrive by train in Amsterdam via Amsterdam Centraal Station. The airport is very large, but incredibly easy to navigate since it contains just one large terminal with three departure halls.

Hotel Recommendation:

If in Amsterdam for business (which you probably will be if you are reading this article), head to the Amsterdam Marriott Hotel. Boring, yes, but a great location with nice amenities. As I normally do, I would recommend an Airbnb if your company allows it as a part of your travel policy. My experience in the Marriott was top notch and because I have platinum status with Marriott I chowed down every night in the executive lounge before going out. It was a good option for breakfast and happy hour. If you are looking for something a little different, check out this site which lists a number of unusual hotels.

How to Sell to People in Amsterdam:

The Dutch are incredibly friendly, but also quite matter of fact in their communication. They combine some of the best qualities of their German, Belgian, and French neighbors in that respect. When selling to them, stick to the facts, keep focused on business, but do so in a warm and friendly manner. Mirroring their hospitality will go a long way.

Where to Take a Client for Lunch:

The Little Thai Prince is an absolutely killer Thai restaurant in the heart of the Red Light District. Its location and appearance are deceiving, but if you read the reviews on their Facebook site, you will see a pattern; small place, wasn’t sure what to expect,...best food ever! Seriously, if you like Thai food, or are interested in getting into Thai food, this is a must eat location.

Where to Take a Client for Dinner:

If you need more time to wine and dine your client, you can’t go wrong with Restaurant Blauw, an Indonesian masterpiece. Blauw serves rijsttafel, or a traditional meal of rice/side dishes. I think we had something like 30 different dishes while we were there. You can’t rush through and have to have a few drinks at a minimum. The food was excellent and it left plenty of time to talk business.

Where to Take a Client for Drinks:

Amsterdam isn’t necessarily known for their beer, at least not as much as their German and Belgian neighbors, but there are a good number of spots to grab a few while in the city. I recommend Bierproeflokaal In De Wildeman. They normally have 250 beers on tap and have a pretty great atmosphere. It’s probably the most “Amsterdamy” place in Amsterdam.

Something Touristy:

Obviously Amsterdam is known for its coffee shops and the Red Light District, but you are there for business, not a stag party. There is much more to this amazing city. I recommend the Van Gogh museum or the Anne Frank tour. You can’t go wrong with either and they will make a lasting impact on you.