Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Are You The Best In The World At What You Do?

April 15, 2010

Since I was a kid, I could always sell. Quite frankly, I thought it was pretty easy…talk to the right people, find out what they want, give it to them and they will pay you. This process, as simple as I have made it out to be, is not always that easy, usually for one very important reason—the salespeople get in their own way.

Who is the best in the world at what you do? If you don’t think that you are, neither will anyone else.

Salespeople often stop their own sale because they have talked themselves out of it. They start thinking that maybe they don’t understand their product or service as well as they should, or that a competitor may do it better. There are a million ways to talk yourself out of closing the deal…no one that doesn’t improve by knowing that you are the absolute best at what you do.

I know our company—even if I am learning something new every day about it—and I know we are the absolute best in the world at what we do. Our sales management and process work–it is the best out there because we work with our clients to achieve their objectives. We don’t come in with a premeditated plan of attack or a multiple point plan, but rather we work with our clients in their environment to achieve their goals as they continue to grow.

Our outsourced sales team is made up of professional salespeople who have worked in the business and know how to develop a relationship. They don’t just try to get an appointment for our clients; they find the right person in the right company and develop a rapport to see if they are the best fit for our client. When the conversation between the two gets to a point where they need to bring in the expert, we get our client involved to close the deal. That’s something you only get from the best of the best.

Our SAM Peer Advisory Groups. If you want networking, there are plenty of places to go, but how many places offer an advisory board to the people in your company who are directly involved, right at the front line, in the growth of the company? CEOs have been involved in advisory boards for years, but salespeople have been left to fend for themselves many times. We bring these dynamic personalities together, in one room, and help them achieve or continue their greatness.

Do I think we are the best in the world at what we do? Absolutely I do. Mediocrity is for someone else.

Would you really want to work with someone who didn’t know they were the best at helping you grow?

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March Madness: On the Court and at the Office

March 18, 2010

I was walking through the airport this morning and as I was going through security I overheard a few guys talking. “Duke is looking strong,” one of the men waiting to be screened said. “Nah, Kansas is going all the way!” Immediately I knew that these guys were not talking grad school here because it is that day that so many people wait all winter for…the first day  of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament…March Madness!

Being a fan of warmer weather myself (if you have been reading this blog, it has been well documented how “done” I am with snow and winter!) I usually look at March Madness as the perfect appetizer to the upcoming baseball season, when I spend many an evening over the next several months before going to bed finding out two very important things: (1) Did my Yankees win? & (2) Did the dreaded Red Sox lose?

March Madness has led to another thing that has become an annual tradition—sitting here just hours before the first game and realizing that I did not fill out my NCAA brackets!

My plan is simple, pull out the bracket the Monday before and pick my teams for the one or two pools I plan on joining (since readership of my blog is growing and you never know if the FBI is monitoring to crack down on $5 office pools, I will allow to remain nameless the people who run these pools). I always plan on getting my picks in on Wednesday after thinking about which upsets are going to happen in the early rounds and which top seeds are going all the way. After all, after watching 2 or 3 games over the winter and listening to sports talk radio in Chicago and Raleigh, I qualify as an expert, right?

This year there is a good reason why I am not participating in a pool: we just got too busy at work and I completely forgot to fill out my brackets. I know, balance is the key and the $50 or so I could have won would really have gone a long way, but with the amount of work we have been seeing lately during this economic recovery, things have been just nuts lately.

We are seeing many companies focusing on new business and business process lately, in all areas of the economy.

  • Manufacturing firms looking to increase business by having us develop new relationships with companies that previously were working with a competitor who has since gone out of business; or by developing processes so that their product is a “lower hanging fruit” for manufacturers’ reps to sell their products and 5 or 6 others.
  • Staffing firms, especially temporary staffing, has been on a huge rise as companies are finding projects that were put off in 2009 are now critical in 2010 but they just don’t want to hire back full time staff to do the work. Their account executives have been so busy keeping current clients happy and solving problems (when your “product” is a person, you will be amazed the issues that arise) that they simply do not have the time to reach out to the newer prospects. Our inside sales teams in both Raleigh and Chicago are seeing more and more firms contracting with us to provide that initial relationship development as their salespeople just don’t have the time to make 100 calls a day to prospects.
  • Marketing firms looking to expand their reach by partnering with us to provide solutions to firms who understand that sales and marketing should be working together for optimal success
  • Plumbing companies who are providing new services to clients—have you ever heard of Hydro-Excavation? Google “Hydro Excavation in Chicago” and you will find a video by C.J. Erickson Plumbing which will show their hydro excavator in action
  • Associations who are looking to increase advertising and sponsorship revenue
  • Trade show companies interested in increasing the return on their clients’ investment of the trade show by working with us to follow up on the leads they get at shows. Do you have any idea how many of those leads actually get followed up on? We found research saying about 30%, however one of our clients said their research showed it was more like 10%…10%? That means 9 out of 10 people they are currently meeting do not receive any type of follow up at all. We can make a pretty good impact on their bottom line by reaching out to those people and discerning the prospects from the people who stopped by the booth for the giveaways only.

March Madness indeed, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. We have continued to increase our staff to not only keep up with growing client demands, but also to allow our staff to continue to grow in their careers. Having “the right people on the bus” is always an important part of how we do things.

We continue to thank our clients for their faith in us and continue to look for more people that we can help, either in outsourcing the inside sales function, assisting with sales management and sales process, or getting them involved in our sales and marketing peer advisory groups.

I guess it was worth missing filling out my NCAA bracket this year; which reminds me of a joke I heard this week from a Duke fan which I will leave you with: “What does the NCAA tournament and a pair of flip flops have in common?   No Heels!”

…and the Oscar Goes To….5 Years as a Vistage Member

March 8, 2010

Last Wednesday I attended my monthly Vistage meeting. For those of you unfamiliar with Vistage, it is a peer advisory group for CEOs of similar sized companies. We discuss issues that are going on in our respective businesses. Sometimes you are the teacher, explaining how you handled a particular growth issue and sometimes you are the student, learning from what others did to solve a similar problem.

Wednesday’s meeting marked my five year anniversary as a member of Vistage. Upon my arrival to the meeting, our chair, Clay Garner, presented me with what looked a lot like a show box and asked me to open it in front of the group. Inside was my reward for 5 years of sharing my growth, challenges, issues, concerns, ideas, etc. with this wonderful group: a beautiful–and very heavy I might add–crystal award engraved with the following: “In Recognition of Richard Burghgraef. Honoring Your Commitment to Growth. Member Since 2005.”

Upon receiving this award, I felt a little like the winner of an Oscar…they like what I have to say, they really like what I have to say!

I have found the Vistage experience to be wonderful for me as I have grown Randolph Sterling over the last 7 years. During what has been the most difficult economic times in my lifetime and some would argue in history, we have not only held our own but have continued to grow. As we start to break out of this economic downturn, we are poised to continue to help more and more people implement strategies to their sales process that result in increased revenue and profitability due to some of the many lessons I have learned as a member of Vistage.

It was my Vistage experience, and my Vistage chair who inspired me to start our SAM Peer Advisory Groups and allow us to help salespeople, the lifeblood of growth to many if not all companies, learn form each other. Vistage also helped me to make decisions about my company that increased cash flow, morale, and productivity. Now if I can just get them to help me sell my house and maybe take a vacation!

Thank you Vistage and my Vistage colleagues for 5 great years!

Special Event:Lucky’s Pot of Leads

March 7, 2010

Lucky’s Pot of Leads

Order tickets via Eventbrite: http://luckyleads-efbevent.eventbrite.com

In conjunction with Business Club America and Randolph Sterling, Inc., Hummingbird Creative Group invites you to the second of a series of 9 roundtable events in 2010 to celebrate Hummingbird’s 15th Anniversary.

Friday, March 12, 2010 from 11:30am – 1:00pm at 1705 Prime, join industry expert panelists:
Wendy Coulter, President, Hummingbird Creative Group, Inc.
Rich Burghgraef, President – Randolph Sterling, Inc.
Sherry Mitchell, Director Brand Strategies, Hummingbird Creative Group, Inc.

The trio will address the differences between sales and marketing, as well as how they must support one another for either to be successful. Discover how to better qualify sales prospects through understanding why your current customers buy from you and using that information to build marketing messages that can help you sell! You will learn about:

~ the need for structured communication between your sales and marketing teams
~ the importance of knowing your competitive advantages
~ new online resources and opportunities to find and foster leads and fill your sales funnel
~ how selling is best done by asking questions, not selling what you have
~ budgeting for both sales and marketing, not one or the other, to reach your growth goals
~ qualifying leads to find more of the business you want through your sales and marketing efforts
~ using unique sales enablement tools to build brand awareness

1705 Prime
1705 E. Millbrook Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27609
919-850-2340

Cost is $25 per person and includes lunch

Order tickets via Eventbrite by Monday, March 8th: http://luckyleads-efbevent.eventbrite.com
or call 919-854-9100 ext. 304

“The Performance is Only as Good as the Audience”…And We Have a Great Audience!

March 3, 2010

Remember back in the days of elementary school, on those special days when you would have an assembly? We would pile into the gym—or as our principal used to call it, the “all purpose room” to either see one of the other grades perform a play or an outside group come in to perform for the whole school? Mr. Campbell, the principal at Westmoreland School in Fair Lawn, New Jersey where I grew up used to start out each assembly by reminding us kids to be respectful of the performers…”the performance is only as good as the audience” he would always tell us.

Those words have never rung more true than at the SAM Peer Advisory Group meeting that we held in our office in Cary, NC the other day.

We had a great meeting, and, as with all SAM Groups where each member is an equal participant and can give and/or receive advice, the participants determine the value of the meeting. Since the value of the meeting is that the discussions are confidential, allow me to take a minute to tell you about some of the participants:

Draughon Cranford of Xpress Image: Draughon is very well connected throughout Raleigh. So, when an issue comes up, he not only has his opinion about it, which he offers in a very professional manner, but he also knows someone else through all of the networking he has done in all the right places, that he can usually offer a recommendation of someone he can bring in to help with the issue.

Will Webb of Dupree & Webb: Will is one of the first people I met when I joined Business Clubs of America. In a world where people sometimes blur ethical lines (especially in the insurance industry where he lives) Will’s ethics are beyond reproach. Will is the kind of guy who would walk away from a profitable piece of business if it meant he wouldn’t feel good at the end of the day when he came home to his wife and 2 year old daughter to tell them about it.

Rob Pulley of Talent Management Solutions: Rob is the second person I met when I joined BCA. Rob is the kind of guy who doesn’t just speak to hear his own voice. Trust me, he has a lot to say, but nothing he says is not the result of careful thought to the issue at hand. Rob is also a guy who is very well connected and will make a recommendation for what he truly feels is best for his colleague, looking for nothing to gain other than respect of his peers. He definitely has it.

Danny Worthy of North Carolina Central University: Some of you basketball fans might be thinking…wait a second…North Carolina? Worthy? Is he related to former Tar Heel and Los Angeles Laker great James Worthy? Actually, yes, Danny and James Worthy are brothers. Danny, after a successful career at Verizon, decided to come back to his alma mater, NCCU, with the sole goal of helping them achieve growth as their athletic teams move into division I. Danny works to partner businesses with the university through various sponsorship opportunities. Danny is one of the most polite and respectful people I have met. He adds great insight and experience into every topic and isn’t afraid to ask for assistance as well as give his opinion.

And, I can’t forget to mention our very own Angela King: Angela has been very helpful in getting the SAM Groups up and running in Raleigh as well as assisting me in facilitating the meetings. As a facilitator, it is our job to keep the meetings on topic, but to also know when to go off of the agenda if a topic is being bounced around where everyone is contributing and getting a lot out of the discussion. Angela’s vast experience, both professionally and as a working mom who runs a household of four kids ranging in age from 18 to four, allows her to not only give insight that many of us have not had experience with, but it allows her to keep us all in line.

These core members of our Raleigh SAM groups are class acts, every last one of them. I would have no reservation in recommending any of them and I certainly appreciate the assistance they give me every time I am privileged to meet with them.

We still have a few seats available in this particular SAM group and we are starting new groups every day in both Chicago and in Raleigh; and we are working on “virtual SAM groups” to be able to serve sales and marketing professionals around the world. If you would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact Angela directly at aking@randolphsterling.com.

February Fury Hits the Midwest: What a Strange Day It Has Been!

February 10, 2010

Usually I try to keep my blog posts and articles as much about business as I can, but for this, I will take a little deviation and tell you about the last couple days or so in dealing with the February Fury Snowstorm, which hit Chicago.

Tuesday is basketball night in the winter, so I hoped that we would not be cancelled. It has been a stressful (in a good way) last few weeks, and I really needed to take a break and blow off some steam. I left Mt. Prospect, Illinois at about 3:30 to get to a meeting in Evanston at 4:30, figuring that the normal 30 minute drive would probably take a while longer. I was amazed by how great the streets were! The plow and salt trucks must have been out early because the roads were nothing more than a bit wet, which made for a pretty easy drive since most normal people were home.

I left my meeting in Evanston at about 5:30 and had a few minutes before basketball to go and get some gas. I’ll admit it, I’m usually I pretty fast driver but today I had plenty of time, the snow had been falling steadily all day, and apparently the snow and salt trucks I praised before had gone home for dinner, so I was moving very slow. I made a very slow and easy left turn after stopping at a light and the rear of my car decided it wanted to continue to go, so I ended up doing about a 90 degree spin.

Undaunted, I got to the gas station and then to the basketball court where 9 other crazy people were ready to play two hours of basketball. We had three great games, although the team I was on happened to lose all of them. After 3 long games and about 2 hours of basketball, it was time to head home. I figured I would take the highway as it was most likely better driving than side streets back to Mt. Prospect.

I drive an Acura…not too bad in the snow, but you would think an 18 wheel truck with a full load would have even better traction. We are driving about 30 mph on Chicago’s Kennedy expressway when the truck about 10 car lengths in front of me decides to drop down to 20. I tap on my breaks but yet again, my back end wants to go faster (in its defense, my car is usually not going that slow so it may have been confused) and I start to spin out! Luckily there were no cars near me and I was safely in the middle lane so no harm was done other than to my driving ego. I made it home, happy that I could stay in until the next morning when I would have to shovel out my driveway to get to client meetings.

Now it gets really strange…I woke up ready to shovel my driveway only to see that someone—I have no idea who–plowed my driveway for me. I still had to shovel out my walkways and the snow that was up against my garage (we got around a foot of snow here in Chicagoland, most of which was now packed up against my garage door!) so I grabbed my snow shovel and started shoveling.

A few things you need to know about this next part. (1) It is 7:00 AM so I’m not completely awake yet. (2) I usually leave my snow shovels by the front and back doors so if it snows overnight, I don’t have to trudge in the snow to get the shovel out of the garage. (3) Last year, toward the end of the snow season, someone took my shovel from beside my front door, so this year I bought myself a new one.

As I was shoveling, I’m noticing something is different. Then it hit me. I realized that this was not my new shovel (which is red) but it is my old shovel (which is gray and black!) Now the new one is gone but the old one is back…what the hell? Apparently somebody plowed my driveway and then returned my old snow shovel (and yes, I am 99% certain that it is my old shovel) but then took the new one I bought this past fall.

While I am very grateful to whomever plowed my driveway, I am still completely confused about the whole shovel situation. Is the cost of getting your snow plowed that you get entered into this game of musical shovels? Where is my new shovel now? If I take the old shovel that is by my back door and move it to the front, can I trade it in for the new one?

The real question is…can someone just buy my house—I’ll even throw in whatever shovel I currently have–so I can move to the North Carolina office so I don’t have these issues anymore?

The Ketchup is Out of the Bottle: Our First SAM Peer Group Meeting!

January 27, 2010

We had our first SAM peer advisory group meetings this week in Raleigh. I had mentioned in my last article that the anticipation of getting these groups up and running is a lot like waiting for the Heinz ketchup to come out of the bottle. Now the ketchup is out…so how did it go?

I’d love for some of the BCA members who attended to post their thoughts about the meetings, but from where I sat, they were fantastic. Attendance was good and will continue to grow, but most importantly, the people who were there really got involved and contributed. They came with issues to discuss and opinions based on their experiences for the other members.

As facilitators of the group, neither me nor my colleague Angela King are exempt from being on either side of the advice, so we too gave it out as much as we took it. I walked away with some great ideas of how to do things a little bit differently, both with our sales team and with the business in general.

What always amazes me is how at the beginning of the meeting, someone will always say “I think we all have the same problem…finding more business,” however inevitably as we continue to move from person to person and issue to issue it becomes abundantly clear that things run deeper than simply how to find more clients. We end up defining ideal clients, which are not always the same for the different members of the group; looking at ways each company finds those prospects and makes them clients, which is also not only unique from company to company, but from person to person within the company (which opens up a whole new can of worms discussing sales process!) We also talked about issues in motivating salespeople and came to the unanimous decision that if you have to spend too much time motivating a salesperson, he or she is probably not the right person to help your company grow.

Every SAM group meeting is different because the meeting belongs to the members. It is their time to discuss their own issues, challenges, opportunities and goals. BCA members are a strong group so starting out with them as the base and adding members from there makes a lot of sense. I want to send a special thank you out to Penn Shore, market owner of BCA of the Triangle, for working with us to get these groups up and running. We hope as we continue to add more members to our SAM groups that we can also reciprocate by inviting them to other events that the BCA puts on every month.

Anticipation: Bringing SAM Peer Groups to the Triangle

January 26, 2010

Anticipation…remember the old Heinz ketchup commercials where they showed the ketchup slowly flowing out of the bottle and talked about the value of anticipation? That’s exactly how I feel as we start our new SAM Peer Advisory Groups.

The concept of our SAM groups is great. We provide an advisory board for salespeople and sales managers. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?

It was an idea brought to me by a mentor of mine who works with business owners and salespeople. He noticed that much of their internal pain revolved around bringing in new business and sales in general. We further noticed that many of the salespeople craved an additional outlet beyond their sales manager to bounce around ideas. This was for several reasons, but mainly because they didn’t want their sales manager to know they were struggling or had questions. In a SAM group, they can talk with other people out on the same front lines they are, dealing with the same issues as they sell their own products and services.

So what’s the problem? This is where my Heinz ketchup analogy comes in. SAM groups are great. Starting SAM groups are not.

Why? Well, there’s a couple of issues. One is that for a sales manager, VP, or President to commit to taking his sales rep out of the field for a four hour meeting once a month, he wants to see a return on his investment of both time and money. Another is that when we start a SAM group we may find two competing companies or two reps from the same company that want to join. This means starting another group for the second rep or the competing company.

The value of the SAM group is in its people. The agenda admittedly doesn’t look all that impressive, which is by design. In looking at the agenda the first thought that comes up is “this is going to take 4 hours?”

Agenda:

8:00    Welcome and Opening Announcements

8:15    Significant Sales and Marketing Events

8:45    2nd Half Annual Goals and Tracking of Quarterly Goals

9:45    Host Presentation

10:30  Sales and Marketing Issues–“Today’s Issues,” other issues

11:30  Guest Presentation on Topic of Interest for Entire Group

12:00  Adjourn Meeting

You see, the content of the meeting is determined by the needs of the people in the group, not by the group facilitator. When you start a group with 2 or 3 people, it does not look that impressive to management when the members get back to the office (although in reality, they probably got a lot out of the meeting because we were able to dig deeper into the issue they brought up).

We figured that the best way to build up even stronger SAM Groups was to partner with another association where what we do can benefit their members. The easy choice was to work with Penn Shore and Business Clubs of America (BCA). So I met with Penn, and after months of negotiations, starting this month…this week actually…we are offering SAM Group membership as an added benefit to the membership of BCA.

Anticipation…it’s making me wait, as the old Heinz slogan goes.

So here we are, on the precipice of our first BCA/SAM meeting and I wonder what I wonder every time we start a group: How many people will show up? Will they be good fits for the group? Do they understand the concept (the hardest part for us salespeople is trying to truly understand the problem before going right to trying to solve it?)

…it’s almost here, so I’ll let you know how it goes!

Thanks to the Niles Chamber of Commerce for a Nice Christmas Party

December 29, 2009

This December the Niles Chamber of Commerce hosted their annual holiday party, which is a great opportunity to not only network but to catch up with friends. This year, I invited Art and Daniel to join me at the festivities. Never too much holiday cheer for Randolph Sterling, Inc., especially when there are clients and prospects to catch up with. It is a great way to enjoy each other’s company and just get to know each other in a “less business” setting. People will buy form people they know, like, and trust, you have heard me say many times.

I had an opportunity to spend time with three of my favorite people at the chamber: past president Bob Ryan form Express Employment Professionals, Executive Director Katie Schneider, and newly installed president, Joe Walsh from Access Benefit Solutions.

Bob Ryan and I got to become friends simply as a result of getting to know each other at chamber meetings. As president, Bob attended every event, a very difficult task if it was all you had to do, but Bob and wife Sheila also have to run their own business.  As chairman of the Niles Marketing Committee and stints as Second VP and first VP on the chamber board, I sat next to Bob a lot. Bob is a class act. He is “Mr. Niles” and what you see is what you get with him. What makes him successful is that he is very down to earth. I don’t get to see Bob as much as I would like, but every time is a joy.

Katie Schneider is the Executive Director at the chamber. Without her, along with her team at the chamber office, nothing would ever get done. Katie teases me because she can guess my age simply by the CDs in my car when I take her out for lunch to discuss chamber business (apparently, if you have a Van Halen CD, you are probably in your late 30’s. She was right on target so I guess it is true!) She and husband Andrew are just wonderful, kind people and she has done so much for me personally to help Randolph Sterling, Inc. grow over the years. She has become a good friend.

Watching Joe Walsh get “installed” as the chamber president this year was a little bittersweet. Joe is absolutely the right man for the job and will do a great job in taking the chamber to new levels in membership and services. I look forward to seeing what he will bring to the chamber in 2010. The bittersweet part comes in that originally 2010 was going to be the year I was Niles Chamber president.

I had been on the chamber board and moved up the ranks, however after chairing the Niles Night of Roses Committee and co-hosting the event, I realized that there was no way I would be able to be chamber president with my work schedule the way it has been. With Raleigh booming and me still the main person there, it was tough to get back for chamber events and give it the time and energy necessary. Randolph Sterling, Inc. and my clients always come first.

Thanks again to the Niles Chamber for a great event and for helping Randolph Sterling, Inc. to continue to grow. We look forward to great things in 2010.

Did you see mommy kissing Santa Claus? Help us find a better Holiday song and win a $25 gift card!

December 14, 2009

OK, so I finally went out and bought an iPhone, much to the delight of my good friend, iPhone app developer extroidenaire, and client, Alex Bratton, CEO of Lextech Global Services. My plan was to just use it for business purposes, so when I was assisting Alex in bringing in new clients, I could show them some of his apps (if you Google “most expensive iPhone apps,” you will find some of the solutions Alex and his team have provided.) That plan lasted about 48 hours, or until I found the free Pandora app.

For those of you not familiar with Pandora, it is basically an Internet radio station where you pick the music that you like and it will find more like it. Very cool, actually. Since it is the holiday season, I decided to set it to my “Rockin’ Holidays” preference so I can hear songs like Bruce Springsteen’s “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and, well practically anything by Trans Siberian Orchestra or Manheim Steamroller. Unfortunately, my least favorite holiday song came on “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” (If you clicked on the link, did you see how bad it was?)

It doesn’t matter what artist plays this song, I just have a problem with it. Seriously, who decided it was good to write a song about a little kid seeing his mom kissing Santa? Isn’t life confusing enough for kids already? Back in the day, all we had to worry about was whose house we were going to play at or trying to figure out how our parents somehow walked to and from school uphill in the worst weather climate possible. Now we have to add in concerns that our mom might be fooling around with Santa?

“What a laugh it would have been, if daddy had walked on in…” are you kidding me? A laugh, really? Where are our values? If I someday meet Miss Right and she becomes Mrs. Burghgraef, and we have kids, I really hope one day I don’t come home from a long day’s work to have Junior come up to me and say…”Hey dad, you will never guess what happened today. I came downstairs and saw Mom smooching with a guy in a red suit, grey beard, and about 50 lbs. overweight.” What are we teaching our kids?

That’s why I stick with the simple songs. Bruce asking “The Big Man,” Clarence Clemons, if Santa is going to bring him a new saxophone; and then later in the song you hear him laugh as he belts out “Santa Claus is Coming to Town!” I hope it is because he is having a great time doing the song and not because he just caught his wife kissing Santa (see, I just can’t get over that!)

How about David Bowie and the late, great Bing Crosby singing “Little Drummer Boy?” Can you find an odder pairing this side of Frank Sinatra and Cyndi Lauper, but they make it work into one of the most beautiful Christmas songs out there. How about the “old time classics” like Gene Autry doing “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” or Burl Ives crooning about “Holly Jolly Christmas?”

What is your favorite? We’d like to know.

Please send us an email to info@randolphsterling.com (put Christmas as the subject), or post your answer as a comment here, telling us what your favorite Christmas song is and why. The winner (here is your chance to convince our staff why your favorite should be “the favorite”) will win a $25 gift certificate for a local restaurant as well as an autographed copy of my book “Closing the Deal: Hot Sales Strategies That Make Money.” You Have till Christmas day!

Merry Christmas to all…and to all a good night!