Every year at holiday time, I used to receive from a vendor this amazing gift basket of wines, cheese, crackers, chocolates, and fruit. It always included the following year’s schedule of benefits, training schedules, and spiffs. It was always huge and must have cost at least $150. The vendor that sent this basket every year once told me he sent out about 75 of them to his most loyal customers. I first thought, “wow, you have 75 loyal customers!” And then I did the math and those treats were also clearly taking a little chunk out of his wallet. Notice at the beginning of this blog I said “used to.” This year, there was no basket. Actually during fourth quarter, when I typically receive goodies and hear about training and spiffs that are on the horizon for the following year, well, this year, there was silence. And I wasn’t surprised. In this economy, don’t expect your vendors to shower you with much of anything. Instead, you’re going to have to put your nose to the grindstone and work closely with your vendors to determine what you’re going to need to support their products and how you can do this together as a team in an economic fashion that doesn’t break the bank. How are you going to sell your vendor’s products? What inexpensive but innovative tools are in your bag of tricks that will close the sale without dipping into the budget? Call a “brown bag” meeting or conference call and brainstorm ideas as to how the coming year will be different. Ask the right questions. Look at your existing tools and see how you can tweak them this year. This year especially you must resolve to work more closely with your vendors, which will ultimately benefit you with more sales.