When working on the sales strategy for the upcoming year, one typically considers key components to sales and marketing such as the sales process, sales skills development, CRM systems and more. But would you believe that the company itself has a personality that could be leveraged to help sales reps meet goals and long-term growth? This is your Corporate Persona and there are three primary components: culture, cause and community.

Culture has become a buzzword lately with Millennials joining the workforce. Culture is important to the Millennials at your organization, but also those at your customers' companies. These key buyers will want to partner with vendors who share the belief that company culture matters.

Diversity, work-life balance, innovation and continuous improvement are all key parts of your company's culture. Are you including your company culture in your initial presentations to new prospects and contacts? Do your sales and marketing teams share stories that portray your culture? The other two C's, cause and community, sort of play into the culture, but also should be harvested for their own inherent values as well.

Your culture of innovation, teambuilding, flexible scheduling and diversity are all great, but how does that help the greater good? Cause marketing, sometimes more narrowly referred to as strategic giving, has many perks that can enhance sales opportunities. The challenge is that strategic giving typically infers that one is literally donating money. Not a bad thing for certain. Sponsoring a charity event offers branding opportunities, networking and good public relations. However, distributors can also achieve these same benefits without spending money by allowing their teams to volunteer for their favorite charity during normal work hours.

A more interactive approach that personally involves the customer and/or your associates could really be the way to go. I've seen things like customer or social media contests where the winner can choose which charity the prize goes to; customer events where a portion of the proceeds go to a charity; or there's the option to add a donation at checkout of your e-commerce system to the charity of their choice.

Even if your customers don't choose to participate, attend or "round up" for kids, they are still getting the message that your company has a cause and a mission beyond the bottom line.

And of course, all of the above plays into your community. While there are certainly many national charities that do great work, you will get the best local return on your cause support in the communities in which your company operates and your team lives and plays. Let your team help pick which causes to support because they will go above and beyond to talk about the good things your company does for organizations that they personally feel connected to.

Tina Saunders, I.C.E., MBA, ACT, is Director of Marketing & eCommerce at Nichols and owner of SonicTrain, LLC, creators of The Arena gamification platform. You may contact her at 419-297-0822 or