2020 Under 40: Kristina Davis, Brand Advantage Group, a Safeguard Company
KRISTINA DAVIS, 39
Brand Advantage Group, a Safeguard Company, Plymouth, Minn.
Creative, high-energy, engaged—these are the words that come to mind when one is asked to describe Kristina Davis. “I wish I had many more Kristinas, as her work ethic and attitude are off the charts,” said one of several nominators. Davis doesn’t believe in guessing or using cookie-cutter responses when jobs come in. Rather, she dives in to see what is at the root of the request to make sure she has vetted all options. She is also first in line to educate herself on what is available on the market, so that she can discuss how it will benefit her clients. You may know her by her social media hashtags, #isellcoolswag, #workwithkristina and #brandadvantagegroup. You may also know that she can do a mean Vanilla Ice impersonation—all in the name of promo—available on YouTube. She’s been a part of the industry for 16 years. Her first job out of college was with MHC Companies, later rebranded to TeamMHC, then acquired by Safeguard. At the same time as the acquisition, it merged with QBF by Safeguard, and both companies later rebranded as Brand Advantage Group, a Safeguard Company. Still with us? Up to this point, Davis had held many roles, including customer service, marketing, new business development and inside sales. Through all of the transition, Dave Daoust, then-general manager and current owner of Brand Advantage Group, encouraged Davis to move into sales. If the past is any indication of her future, Davis will be helping clients find “cool swag” for years to come.
Why she loves her job: I love presenting new ideas to current and new customers. I have a suitcase I bring with to all meetings full of products I have found that I think they would like. I also enjoy sharing my ideas via social media.
Age roadblocks and advantages: The biggest challenge with my age is I don’t have a lot of experience in sales, so I’m still learning the strategies and selling techniques that work for me. I’ve lost deals and learned a lot from those situations. As for advantages, I think I am right in the sweet spot with my age. My network is moving into decision-making positions or [they] have influence on the contacts I need to meet with. Referrals and introductions are easier to get. I also think being right on the bubble of being a millennial, I have embraced social selling and like to use it as part of my sales strategy.
Her biggest career influence: Dave Daoust has had the most influence on my success. He is the one who challenged me to move into sales and has been my go-to source for advice learning this job.
Her most meaningful business accomplishment: I’ve had a few things I am really proud of. This last year I hit a personal goal of $1.5 million in total sales. To hit that number with just three years in sales is pretty awesome! That same year, I was also selected as one of the top women in print. And this last year, I landed a client I have been calling on for several years. That was a sweet victory, and they are one of my favorite clients to work with. Being recognized as a rising star under 40 is also something I am very excited about.
Why she believes the future is bright: I’m building relationships. I make my customers understand I appreciate their business. Good relationships can withstand some of those outside influences. I also have fun with my job—check out my YouTube channel and you will see I don’t take myself too seriously.
What she hopes to accomplish in the next year: I’m going to work on being more mindful of how I spend my time. I’m going to give it to the clients who appreciate what I do for them. I am going to seek clients who value what I offer and I am going to carve out more time for self-care and be more present with my family.
Why she believes the future is bright: I think companies now more than ever agree that cool swag is critical to employee engagement and retention, and they finally see that promo products do actually work.
How the industry can better recruit young talent: I didn’t know about the industry in college when I was looking for internships or employment after graduation. Make sure you are attending college recruitment events.
What she does for fun: I love watching my son play sports, and I coach his basketball team. He is in karate, baseball, football and hip hop dance too, so he keeps me busy! My husband and I love to travel, especially cruises. We will be bringing our 6-year-old on his first cruise this fall. I enjoy cooking and trying new restaurants. I also love lounging on the couch and watching movies.
Additional thoughts: If you want a little insight to how I sell, follow me on LinkedIn or my business page on Facebook. Kristina Davis, Brand Advantage Group. #isellcoolswag #workwithkristina #brandadvantagegroup
Read the complete list of Print+Promo Under 40 honorees here.
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.