|NEW! Achieving Your Dreams
• Let's Talk Endurance
Achieving Your Dreams
There are millions of people everyday, all across America that say they want more than they've got. Most people are simply not willing to give up what it takes to achieve their dreams. Notice, I didn't say "give it" what it takes, I said "give up" what it takes. Why? Because that's exactly what it takes. You first must be willing to give up some things today to achieve your dreams for tomorrow. I believe that's where the rubber meets the road. I believe that's where most well-intentioned dreamers quit. In other words, they "give up" on their dream because they are not willing to "give up." Sounds kind of ironic, a paradox of sorts, but that's the ticket. Do you have the burning desire you need to drive your dreams into reality? You must be willing to formulate a plan and put in a lot of time and effort. The more you focus on your goals, plans and desires, the more methods you will create to arrive at that end. Decide what you are willing to give up to help make your dream a reality. If you invested only one extra hour each day, six days each week, that would give you an investment of over 300 hours this next year to move closer to achieving your dreams. By the way, that translates into almost two months of full-time work in the first year alone. Are you willing to get started? Count the cost, then decide.
• We Do It All
Let's Talk Endurance
Let's talk endurance. Sometimes in business, that's the name of the game. Being in business is like going into battle...you can lose a few battles but still win the war. It's all about endurance. Take our nations first great President, General George Washington. He was a powerful general, but no doubt, he lost a lot of battles. He lost so much that he began to realize that the only way to win the war was to not lose it, and just to keep plugging away until the British gave up. Never, never quit! Now that's endurance. Our great country was founded on that very principle - if you keep on keeping on, you can outlast your adversaries. The only real reason George Washington didn't lose the war, was because he didn't quit. That could be you. Before you give up and walk away, take a closer look at your tactics and strategies. Maybe just a little tweak here and a little tweak there can bring you victory. Remember what we learned from one of our founding fathers, "you only lose if you quit." So learn endurance - it can bring you victory.
• Pack Your Bags
We Do It All
"We Do It All." Ever heard that kind of company slogan? Here's the REAL question..."Is there anything you do well?" The suggestion, "we do it all," sure weakens the image of your brand. Consumers want companies focused and specialized in their niche market. I recently received a business card - the front side introduced an insurance agent and on the reverse-side of his card, an offer to join him in a multi-level marketing health juice opportunity. NOW, I will buy neither from him. If your insurance business is failing - fix it...don't add health juice to the menu. You must focus on your brand. Never compromise your identity to increase your sales by adding products or services that are just not the right fit for your established brand. I recently saw a magazine ad for an advertising agency that drove this point home. At the top of the ad layout were three individual photographs, which by image alone, clearly defined their services. Under each of the three photographs it read, Creative Advertising, Direct Mail Campaigns, and then Excavating. Now that third, full-color photograph of a backhoe really popped off the page. The advertisement was humorously designed to exemplify the foolishness of "we do it all" and losing one's brand focus. You must remember, "it's not how much you do, it's how great you are at what little you do." Trying saying that three times fast. This Marketplace Minute message...stick with your niche, do it better than anyone else, and don't deviate.
• Achieving Your Goals
Pack Your Bags
Pack your bags. Now, that can be either good news or bads news. Good news - we're going on a trip; Bad news - you're outta here. Fortunately, it's good news - we're going on a trip. But not on a vacation - this is a business trip. When you establish business goals and decide to take that long journey toward success, you must have your bags packed. And, like any trip, be sure you pack everything you need. Typically when people travel, they actually write out a checklist of everything they need take with them. Believe me, it's no different for you if you are embarking on a new business journey. What do you need? Where are you going and how are you going to get there? How about a map. Make a detailed and comprehensive list of everything you must have in order to reach your destination and achieve success. Have you conducted a new business feasibility study? Have you written a mission statement and outlined a detailed business plan? Be sure to pack the tools you need to get the job done...a strong company name and logo, quality materials, a strong support staff of professionals, and most of all - leadership with great attitude. Pack an attitude that expects to win. Take time to carefully examine every aspect of your business plan and uncover those areas where you feel you may have shortcomings. Focus on doing whatever it takes to strengthen those weaker areas with tools and personnel needed to get the job done before you push forward. When you pack everything you need for the trip, your journey will avoid many road blocks and dead ends.
• It's All About Networking
Achieving Your Goals
Every business owner must set goals. Oftentimes individuals have lofty and even unrealistic expectations, then set goals that are unattainable. If that be the case, then your goals can actually help you fail. Achieving your goals is critical to business success. First and foremost, set your goals higher than you can reach, then reach them. But, don't be deceived by the hyped-up, motivational speakers that promote the idea that you can do anything you set your mind to. That's nonsense. If that were true, you wouldn't be reading this, you would be recording your next multi-platinum album...the problem is, you can't sing, no matter how much you set your mind to it. So whatever you do, you must have ability and talent. Realize that to attain your goals you have to set out on a journey; and every journey starts with one step. Break your ultimate business goals into segments, each segment will then become attainable. Here's a very good illustration by Charles Swindoll from Insight For Living, "If you're running a 26-mile marathon, remember that every mile is run one step at a time. If you are writing a book, do it one page at a time. If you're trying to master a new language, try it one word at a time. There are 365 days in the average year. Divide any project by 365 and you'll find that no job is all that intimidating." So there you go, segment your year ahead into months, your months into weeks, your weeks into days, and your days into hours. That's how you reach your goals. Remember it's a journey. Better have your bags packed-we'll talk about that next week.
• Execute with Excellence
It's All About Networking
It's all about "networking"...that seems to be the buzz word. Networking groups and Chamber organizations have been around a long, long time; so what's with all the networking hoopla lately. Actually, social media has brought business networking to an entirely new level. Facebook, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, and Twitter, just to name a few, have reinforced our need and ability to network with others of similar interests. People have always tended toward grouping - whether it's Car Clubs, Sports Fans, or Business Associations. Now connecting with other businesses like your own, who are looking for growth, is more important than ever. And, with social media in place, communication among members of these business groups has been greatly strengthened. So guess what? You need to get connected in your local community to a Chamber and to Networking Groups that meet regularly for the purpose of referring business. Referrals will always be the number one source of new business for most companies. Here's a couple of quick tips. If you go with co-workers to an event, sit at different tables. If you see a friend you know, kindly greet them and ask them to introduce you to some of their network associates you haven't met. These warm introductions can prove very profitable. Dress right, be energetic, enthusiastic, be approachable and stand out. All that being said, please don't over do it. You don't need to be the "life of the party," but don't be a wallflower. Make this investment of time profitable. Make every effort to meet and network with new people at every event.
• The Power of Personal
Execute with Excellence
Poor execution compromises the brand of a company. Oftentimes we get caught up with "keeping up," so we rush into a multitude of marketing, must-have, mishaps (now that's a mouthful). It seems like all you ever hear is, "you've gotta do this, you've gotta do that. Are you on Facebook? Are you Tweeting? Do you have a YouTube video posted?" Slow down. Relax. Take a closer look and examine each marketing opportunity (one at a time) - then focus, and then, execute your plan better than anyone else. Develop new marketing tools with excellence - one new marketing concept this month, and then one more next month. At least now you are researching every new marketing opportunity carefully, and effectively implementing the best image for your brand. Steve Jobs puts it straight and simple, "Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't use to an environment where excellence is expected." That brings to mind an important consideration. Surround yourself with the best professionals. Surround yourself with professionals whose success you aspire to attain. Only then, will you really be challenged to step up your game. You only have one brand - execute your image with excellence. Never rush. Never compromise.
• What Is Branding?
The Power of Personal
Here's how it goes. You just walked into your office following an early morning, small group chamber meeting. Armed with eight new business cards in hand, you quickly, efficiently, and effectively enter each new e-mail address into your contact data base and promptly shoot off a short, but personal, pre-scripted e-mail to your new business prospects. That'll impress 'em - Yeah, right. I guess I have to challenge two misleading adjectives inserted in these last few sentences. However first, I must admit - Quick...no problem. Efficient...couldn't be easier. But, Effective...forget it. And Personal...what a joke. By the way, they will NOT be impressed. I also know that automated thank you notes have become quite trendy. Wow, look at this, it even has a look-a-like, hand-written font. How important are your clients and prospects that you can't take five minutes out of your "oh so busy" schedule and write them a personal note? If you're that busy, I don't think I want to rely on you to service my needs. Automation has really become such a disappointment to personal communication. If you really believe that these automated tactics are effective or impressive you are sadly mistaken. Here's what impresses people - pick up the phone and call someone, or take five minutes and drop them a hand-written note. Guess what...the "Power of Personal" will never change.
• Get With It, You Need a Web Site
What Is Branding?
What exactly does "branding" mean? The simplest way to describe branding is "you ARE your product." When consumers need your particular product and service, they think of you first. I am sure you have heard countless times, "pass me a Kleenex." I put the "K" in upper case because Kleenex is actually a brand, the product is tissue. That's how effectively Kleenex has established its brand. You actually refer to all tissue as Kleenex; what else could it possibly be? Another example is Xerox. "Can you Xerox this?" That simply means can you make a copy. Why? Because Xerox has continued to effectively drive its brand. "Can you pass me the Scotch tape." You know, I can't even think of another company brand that manufacturers tape...can you? One of the most striking examples I read recently was this..."When I was a child, my mother said to me, 'If you become a soldier, you will become a general. If you become a monk, then you will end up as Pope.' Instead, I became a painter, and wound up as Picasso" - Pablo Picasso...now there's a brand for you. When I opened this Marketplace Minute, did you notice I referred to your product "and" service - no room for "or" there? Every brand, every product, is established because of its service. Separate yourself from the rest of the competition with service that just amazes your clients. Every satisfied client helps establish your brand.
• Be Passionate but Be Responsible
Get With It, You Need a Web Site
Get with it, you need a web site. If you expect to get anywhere in today's new high-tech economy you better step up your game. Or wait, maybe you shouldn't. I say wait, because you need to stop and think for a moment. Just getting a web site up and running for your business does not make you relevant. I have visited hundreds of company web sites. It would be more advantageous if many of those companies had no web site at all. I have actually spoke with some business owners who are spending hundreds of dollars each week on Google AdWords so they appear at the top of the search engine list and increase their web site traffic. Stop it. Your web site is terrible. The more prospects that go there, the less business you will generate. Have you ever gone to a business web site and said to yourself, "I would never do business with them." Why? Because their web site is so lame, it makes them look totally incompetent. Remember, you only have one chance to make a first good impression. That's goes for your web site as well. So wait. Before you dive into a cheap, flashy, designed-by-my-nephew web site, count the cost. Take a close look at how your "professional" competitors are presenting their companies and stay focused on looking polished and professional. It seems like most of my clients have designed their own web site, and it cost them close to nothing, only $8.95 per month. I can't believe they are wasting $8.95 every month. That's like throwing away a perfectly good juicy ground round with melted cheese. Sit back, take a break, have a hamburger, and find someone, who you think is "too expensive," and have them professionally design your business web site.
• Internal Customers
Be Passionate but Be Responsible
Are you passionate about your work? Truly passionate? When you are passionate about something, it's no longer work, and when it's not work, you can spend all day and night doing it. When you are passionate about your livelihood sometimes you can't quit and oftentimes you just don't want to "leave and lock up." Now that doesn't mean that you don't ever want a break or don't deserve one. It just means that you love what you do and feel you don't really need a break. Remember, in Exodus, Chapters 20 and 23 it reads "For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." "Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest: that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed." So, take a break. It's commanded in the Holy Scriptures. It's not suggested, it's commanded. If you fail to follow this commandment, in time, even the passion you have for your business will wear thin. Why? Because other areas of your life will begin to fail, such as your marriage, family life, social life, and church life. All of these are so much more important than your job. It's wonderful when you are passionate about your work, just don't let that be a stumbling block that can damage the most important areas of your life.
• Shut Up
Believe it or not, your most important customers are your "internal customers." Who are they? Internal customers are your employees, management and office staff that make things click. And when I say "click," I mean working together like a fine-tuned clock. If you are ever going to look good to your external customers you must have your internal customers working together in harmony. Internal customers are the ones that can make you look good throughout your business community. Oftentimes, we overlook the importance of encouraging and building up our internal customers because we are too busy passing off blame from one department to another. You've heard it, "if the graphics department didn't screw up the artwork I could have closed that deal...it took those idiots in shipping three days to pack and ship that simple order." I recently heard a quote from a business journal that stated, "We have less to fear from outside competition than from inside conflict, inefficiencies, discourtesy, and bad service." How true and how sad. Teach your internal customers to work together in harmony and your external customers will reap the rewards and gain confidence in your organization. Your internal customers can also extend to your vendors, suppliers and even the UPS driver. Treat them with the utmost respect and let them know they are appreciated. Your internal customers need to feel proud they are part of a reliable team. If they feel pride among themselves it will project out across your business community.
• Be Prepared
Remember the ABC's of sales..."Always Be Closing." Throughout the process of presenting your products and services to a new prospect, and once you begin to establish value, then start to test close. Once the prospect is showing positive buying signs, and appears prepared to move forward with the purchase, then start closing. If you continue to ramble on, there may be some things about your products or services that raise more questions or objections, so then the prospect may hesitate and resist, and hold off for now. Now you have opened up a can of worms. You may have just talked a potential client out of buying. You need to ask closing questions and "shut up." For example, "Mr. Jones, do feel that the larger or smaller version would be a better fit for your needs. After asking this closing question, shut up. Why is learning to "shut-up" so important? When you ask a closing question, how long should you hold your tongue? 5 seconds? 10 seconds? What if after 20 seconds, the prospect still has not responded? Well then, shut up. Silence, focus and concentration should last up to 30 seconds. By the way, that's the most uncomfortable and painful 30 seconds you'll ever endure. But guess what? You asked them a question now it's their turn to talk. If there is still no response whatsoever after 40 seconds, then I guess you should check their pulse, or wake them up so you can complete your "dynamic" presentation. Learning to endure at least 30 seconds of total silence during a presentation is a skill that must be learned. If you do not learn this vital technique you will lose deals. Remember - Shut Up. If you talk first, you lose. If your prospect answers your question, you win!
• Never, Never Quit
Many business owners feel that if they are not selling 24/7 then opportunities are being missed. Oftentimes you can get so bogged down with call-backs, appointments, and new prospecting that you find yourself spinning your wheels and even losing some business because you've spread yourself so thin. When a fighter steps into the ring, it's following days, weeks, ad sometimes months of painstaking preparation. In order to be at the top of your game you must "work out." Don't ever feel that you know it all and you're ready for battle. The business landscape is changing daily with the introduction of new technologies. Two or three years ago, if I said "Social Media," you wouldn't know what I was talking about. Today, businesses can't survive without it. Block off time everyday for a variety of business growing strategies. You need time to organize, time to review yesterday's activity, time to learn, grow, and hone your skills, and then - time to hit the road running, prospecting, making follow-up calls, and serving your existing client base. And the latter is the most important. Remember the old adage, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." Don't get so caught up in daily activities that you neglect to respond to the needs of your existing clients. You never make any money prospecting, you only make money serving clients. Don't ever forget that above all of your responsibilities day-to-day, customer service always come first.
• Who's In Charge?
Never, Never Quit
If you don't close a deal you felt you should have closed, you have not actually failed, but learned from that experience. Failure is when you give up and stop trying. When you are selling, if one door closes, another one slams, the next person says "no" and the following appointment doesn't show up, have you failed? Remember failing is giving up. If you pick yourself up, hold your head high, dust yourself off and continue on to your next appointment expecting to close, then you win. I was taught that important lesson from my father when I was a young boy. Together we would sit in front of the television watching the baseball game. When one of our players came up to bat, my dad would say, "Get ready for some action, he's been up twice, hit a single, and a triple, there is no stopping him." The next batter comes to the plate, I hear my dad say, "This is his fourth time at bat. He struck out twice and grounded out. Get ready, he is overdue." Regardless of the player's previous performance, when they stepped up to the plate they were going to win. Whether fueled by triumph or fueled by failure, success was the only expectation. I have heard it said, and I know it is true, "If you say you can, if you say you cannot, you're right." Know that you can, and Go Sell - never, never quit.
• Customer Service
Who's In Charge?
Who's in charge? If you think YOU ARE, you're wrong. In today's economy, the more connected, sophisticated and informed buyer is in charge. Now, more than ever, you need to listen to your customer's needs in order to solve their problems and offer them valuable solutions. The secret to successful selling is developing yourself as a brand, making yourself memorable, and setting yourself apart from the competition. Customers must feel they need you in order to find solutions. Prospects need to see you as creative, only then will they rely on you and your services. Always be available, this will set you apart from your competition. Be their in the moment, whenever or whatever the need...that's customer service and reliability. Customers want your knowledge, experience and expertise. This is what makes you a valuable resource and a unique brand. Respect comes from giving straight answers. Always look out for your customer's best interest - be transparent. No sale is better than the wrong sale. Keep ahead of your game, continually mastering your craft and honing your skills...then you will become an indispensable resource to your clients. If they need YOU, then they will need what you have to sell.
• Making Managers...
Customer Service is really all any of us have to offer. Service is what separates the weak from the strong. As the internet has become more prevalent in our everyday business operations, customer service still needs to be the central focus of every interaction. Remember that consumers are continuing to transact business in the brick and mortar stores. These businesses offer personal human contact and caring customer service. Make sure that your internet business does not reduce your customer to a name and number (more often now, just a number). Today's technology and automation can oftentimes hinder your business service more than improve it. Have you ever been stuck in the voice mail merry-go-round...not too merry is it? Talking to a real person on the other end of the line is critical to customer care. Train your staff to be empathetic towards customer needs and respond quickly to resolve issues or problems that might arise. Know your customers in a personal way. If possible, call them directly and thank them for their business. Mail them a short, hand-written thank you note - not e-mailed - actually in an envelope with a postage stamp...it makes a big difference. Maintaining human contact with customers is no less important today than it was twenty years ago. Equip your staff with the resources they need to establish strong, personal relationships with your clients. When you empower your staff, your company can stand strong.
When considering promoting a staff member into management you must ask yourself..."has my new prospective manager proven him or herself as a leader?" Will they hurt or strengthen morale? Will they be too tough or not tough enough? Placing a team member in management can have huge implications. Take time to question, challenge, and establish their leadership skills and techniques. Oftentimes, another team member may feel they are better suited for the position. Take time to sit down with each staff member and get their view on current leadership. Ask what they like and what changes they would like to see implemented. As a business owner your decision is final. However, including all staff members in the process of leadership change, will let them know they are a valued member of the team. Including the entire staff will help make business transitions smooth, improve performance, and keep your organization unified. Spend time effectively training new management personnel so they don't make the most common mistakes of angering team members and hurting morale, which will stifle productivity. Managers must be strong leaders, yet considerate, respectful and transparent among their staff. Spend time refining their leadership skills.
• Excuses. Excuses. Excuses.
Integrity. This is a characteristic that seems to come up frequently, now more than ever. You need to know, there is no such thing as "Business Integrity," just integrity. You cannot exercise integrity in your business practices if it's not central in every aspect of your life, both personally and professionally. In order to practice integrity in business, one must first have these same strong values embedded in their everyday life. Your marriage, family, church relationships, and personal practices must all be strong and solid - rooted in trust. Remember, integrity starts at home. When economic times are tough, business professionals and consumers will be working harder and oftentimes much longer hours. As a result, they will consolidate their business associations. Those business relationships built on trust, integrity, and transparency will be the ones that last. Spend your time nurturing strong, healthy business alliances with your associates and clients. Always go that extra mile. Be honest and forthright in every endeavor, and you will establish business relationships that weather any storm. Now, in a tough economy, is when you will see your integrity and virtue pay off. People want to do business with people they can trust, individuals that are always truthful, those on whom they can always rely. Remember the old adage, "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me." Integrity is NOT most of the time, it's ALL of the time. First, serve your family and your friends, then incorporate that same character into your business relationships.
• You WILL succeed
Excuses. Excuses. Excuses.
Excuses. Excuses. Excuses...that's one way to explain away your problems. I have heard more lame excuses over my years of training business professionals I think I've lost count. Instead of coming up with challenging and more creative ways to realize better results, it seems like excuses become an acceptable reason for failure. Let me give you some examples, "I can't close any deals right now, it's Spring, Easter is coming and everyone is very busy with family plans." Soon followed by, "In just a couple weeks it will be Memorial Day, everyone is out-of-town, things are always slow this time of year" or, "Wow, I can't believe that school is letting out already, parents are so busy right now, things are gonna be slow for a while." Oh yeah, "It's summer, everyone is on vacation and cooking out in their backyards, things will pick up in the fall." Now don't forget, "it's Labor Day, this is the last big summer fling then we can get back to work." Now get ready, brace yourself, here comes the holidays. "You know Thanksgiving is coming, these next two weeks are gonna to be pokey, then Christmas is right around the corner. In fact, I can't wait until this Christmas season is over so we can get back to some normal hours." "You know, everyone is waiting until after the New Year to do business, once we get into the New Year things should settle down." "My gosh, you know January is historically the slowest sales month of the year, everyone is just recuperating from the holidays." "The winter weather has been atrocious, I can't wait till Spring and people get back into action." "I can't close any deals right now, it's Spring, Easter is coming and everyone is very busy with family plans." It never ends. Get the picture? Reading this may help you understand the concept of eternity. I have a great idea, how about just get to work and you need to step-up your game plan.
• The Customer is Always Right...Wrong
You WILL succeed
To succeed in a down economy, YOU MUST step up your sales game. You will not survive an economic slowdown by simply hoping that you sell more, or hoping your current customers buy more. Account planning and pre-call planning are the keys to effective selling in a "down economy." It's time to review your account plans or develop them, if you haven't already. Account plans are your road map to selling more to your "A List" accounts. It may be time to reassess pricing or bundling in order to pick off some of your competitors' offerings. You must know what your competition is offering. You must stay focused on your goal and adopt the attitude that WHATEVER IT IS - YOU CAN, AND WILL SURPASS IT! This is not the time to perfect your golf swing or take an extended vacation. This is the time to dig in and take charge of your business activities. By doing so, you will be able to survive the current tough times, position yourself for huge benefits when the economy bounces back, and you will be ahead of your competitors who are not stretching! Remember one thing: ONLY the top 2% of all salespeople automatically turn up their activity a couple more notches when things get tough. By doing so, they are the ones who will be standing tall when the economy turns around. If you really think 9 to 5 will cut it, good luck.
The Customer is Always Right...Wrong
You know the old adage, "The Customer is Always Right." Unfortunately, it makes some sense, but it just isn't true. I have said myself that you cannot win an argument with a customer, because then they are no longer your customer. Well, good...maybe they shouldn't be your customer. First of all, you are providing your customers with a professional service. You better know more about what you're doing than they do. So, when they tell you something isn't right, "It's just too big, it's just too small, or that color doesn't match my taste," well, maybe they don't have any taste. You are there to help, guide, and advice them through the process of your service. The customer's input is always important, but you should know what's best, or maybe they really don't need you. Or, maybe you don't need them. If you have a customer that makes employees unhappy, or worse yet, causes other customers to feel uncomfortable or uneasy, then you don't need them. They are actually bad for business. Sometimes turning away business can actually be good for business. Remember, you can't make everyone happy. Be sure your customers know you are the best. Demand respect and proudly serve those who appreciate your talents. Customers are your lifeline, but they are not always right.
||• Branding Your Company|
• Tie-Down Questions
Branding Your Company
Branding your company in the marketplace is the key to business success. Effective branding can be described like this, "When consumers think categorically of your product or service, they think of you." You have established yourself as the industry leader, the one to call, the solution to their problem. How can you achieve this? It starts first with your Mission Statement. Once your mission as a company is clearly defined, then a professional designer can develop an effective logo and corporate identity that tells your story in a simple symbol. This becomes the beginning of the branding process. Notice I said, "professional designer." I have met more business owners that have designed their own logo, and oh yeah, I almost forgot, their wife just loves it. When you tell a marketing firm "We don't need to spend money on a logo, we already have one my son in high school designed." That sounds as foolish as telling your dentist that your teenage daughter is going to handle your root canal. If you're not getting this, then you need a marketing firm even more than you can imagine. Let a professional focus on your brand and image - you need to focus on your products and services. You may not be able to afford a top advertising agency, but there are many small, high-quality, independent design firms that can help you achieve your business objectives. Following the development of your logo you will need a business card that commands attention and a professional brochure that summarizes your services. This initial investment in your business can help you move to the next level. And please know, this is just the start.
• Building a Winning Team
When presenting your product or service to a prospect, Tie-down Questions are pivotal to effectively closing the deal. It enables the prospect to recognize value and actually sell themselves. An effective presentation should include at least three or four tie-down questions. Asking simple tie-down questions will either trigger a "yes," or stir up an objection. "Yes" means they are perceiving the value. An objection means you must establish more value. Either direction, the prospect is telling you what they need to hear. That is the only way to close a deal. The tie-down is hung on the end of a sentence and demands a response. Example: "Having your sign manufactured using red really makes it stand out doesn't it?" You can invert the Tie-down Question to your opening. Example: "Don't you agree that bright red makes your sign stand out?" Remember, whenever you ask a question, be quiet and wait for the answer. Sometimes the silence can feel deadly, but just wait. How long? Forever. Just be quiet. Here is a comprehensive list of tie-down questions that you need to add to your closing. Aren't they? Don't we? Isn't it? Aren't you? Shouldn't we? Isn't that right? Can't you? Wouldn't it? Didn't it? Couldn't it? Haven't they? Wasn't it? Doesn't it? Won't they? Don't you agree? Won't you? Write these out...make a list. Learn them. Practice them. Make them part of every presentation. The more you implement tie-down questions, the more they will become very natural.
• Overcoming Objections
Building a Winning Team
Often times I've contemplated, "If I could only find someone just like me." Not the most humble of notions, but let's face it, we've all had thoughts like that. "If only I could clone myself. If only I could get someone to do and say exactly what I do and say, then we would have a successful team." Actually the truth of the matter is quite opposite. A great team is not made up of eleven great quarterbacks. You only need one great quarterback, then you need to scout players with other strengths. When looking to form a strong team or business partnership, look for professionals that bring something to the table that you need, not someone who possesses the same talents as you. Once you discover people that bring something new to the team, then it is time to examine the similarities that do make a difference. What are they in it for? Are their goals similar to yours? Does their passion align with your mission statement? Do they enjoy working? Do they enjoy working with you? These answers need to align. If not, you could be in for some serious trouble down the line. Once you assemble a strong team, they will all have their eyes fixed on the same goal line and do everything they can as a team to get that touchdown. When interviewing a potential partner or team member, make a detailed list of all those attributes they possess that will add a new dimension to your business. Then you can make an intelligent decision.
• What Do You Love For a Living?
When a prospect objects, that means they are listening to you. That's a good thing. Don't be intimidated by objections, just simply answer them. Many objections from a prospect may just be challenges; challenges as to whether or not your product or service is going to be effective for them. They are not necessarily objecting simply to discredit you or your service, they are actually hoping you have an answer that can make things work for them. Businesses want answers. Businesses want solutions. Those prospects that voice objections are just very savvy business people. These are the kind of professionals that you need as clients; strong, savvy, experienced business owners. They will be lifelong clients that actually realize the tremendous value that you are bringing to the table once they get on board. Here are some important lessons you must learn early on. Never argue your point! Remember the old adage, you never win an argument with a customer, they are just simply no longer your customer. Always give some credit to your customers objections, for example, "I understand how you feel Mr. Smith." Never go on the attack or suggest that they just aren't getting it - that is an insult. Ideally, let the prospect answer their own objection. Tie-down questions can help accomplish this goal. Questions such as: Don't you agree? Do you see how? Doesn't it make sense? We'll cover this technique in more detail next week.
• Starting a Business During a Recession
What Do You Love For a Living?
What do you love for a living? Did you read that correctly? If you're not loving what you do, you're NOT living. Two roads diverge in this flailing economy: should you try to jump-start your career or pursue your childhood dreams and become your own boss. It's tough times like these that can help you get very creative and motivated. Now may be the time to completely shift gears and get moving forward with YOUR life. As job security from big corporate America fades, an economic downturn can fuel your fire within and be that unanticipated chance to transform hobbies and youthful imaginations - parentally-labeled impractical, into real, fulfilling careers. You've spent most of your adult professional life making money for other people's companies, why not invest some time, money and energy into yourself, and your future. Now might be the only chance you get to live out your dream. Did you ever expect to be unemployed and unable to find a decent job? This could very well be a blessing in disguise. In a down economy, savvy entrepreneurs can capitalize on low overhead costs, cheaper commercial leases and lowered advertising rates. Now may be your only chance to step to the plate and take on that challenge.
• What Are You Selling?
Starting a Business During a Recession
Starting a business during a recession sounds kind of foolish to most. People have no money to spend - "let's start a new business where people can go spend money they don't have." Well, believe it or not, people will always spend money, even during a recession. You just have to be very careful to start a business that is in strong demand. Food, for example, is one thing people cannot go without. Cosmetics and consumables are always in demand. People may be broke, but they still need consumables and still want to look good especially when times are tough. What else do consumers need during an economic downturn: auto repair, healthcare, cell phones, internet service, and computers, just to name a few. Does your new start-up business match this kind of blueprint? One important thing to consider is to engage a franchise. A franchise can offer a proven model and template for success and cuts your risks considerably. Why reinvent the wheel? Do you homework. Find a successful franchise operation that matches your business plan...then go for it. This is going to be a big investment of time and money, make the most of it. When you do it, do it right and do it smart.
• Plan and Prepare
What Are You Selling?
What are you selling? Don't you sometimes wonder why a prospect brought from your competitor instead of from you? Oftentimes, the competitor's products don't even compare in quality or price. It sometimes just doesn't make any sense. I have a better product, my prices are less, and yet the prospect brought from them. I thought this was a no-brainer (we've all heard that old adage before). You may be missing one important part to the puzzle...service. Did you know that actually we all sell the exact same thing - service. You can go to the best restaurant in town and order the best food you've ever tasted, but if the service is poor, rude, or unattentive, you'll be eating across the street next time your out. You see restaurants don't just sell food, first and foremost they sell service. You and I are no different. Establish yourself as a service-first resource. Follow-up with prospects promptly, get answers to their objections quickly, return their calls without delay, and be on-time (early) for all your appointments. That's what they all buy...service!
• S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Plan and Prepare
Thinking of starting a new business? With job loss at an all time high, many Americans are considering starting their own businesses and working for themselves. If this is you, do not disregard the business planning stage. Most people just want to jump right in and get started having never done their homework or necessary research to discover whether or not their dream can be profitable. Jesus said, "For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?" (Luke 14:28) Your business plan is designed to get you from startup to where you need to be...successful and profitable. It takes time, but more importantly, it takes careful groundwork and preparation. If you take time now to study and develop an effective business plan, it will save you much potential grief in the future. Don't be too anxious to just get going. This may be your one shot, don't let careless haste steal your opportunity. Take to heart 2 Timothy 2:15 "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
• Sharpen Your Management Skills
Setting Goals...the hallmark of your success. Make a Dream List. What do you want? Write it out. Now, wait at least 24 hours, then review your list. Scrutinize it, revise it, and then move forward with what is left.
When Goal Setting, pray then be SMART! - acronym
- S -Specific - Have it written down and visualize it daily.
- M -Measurable - Set volume and dates, i.e; "I will have 10 new clients by the end of this month."
- A -Attainable - Believe in yourself, your abilities and be realistic. Stretch, but do not be unrealistic.
- R -Relevant to your life - Base it on your needs, wants and desires.
- T -Timing - Set a deadline and see yourself crossing the finish line.
Prepare each day. Write down at least six tasks to complete toward achieving your goals. Pray and believe everyday. Visualize it everyday. See it as done.
• Sharpen Your Communication Skills
Sharpen Your Management Skills
The Harvard Business Review, after studying nearly 11,000 company leaders, identified these as the Top Ten Most Common Flaws of Poor Management:
- Lack of energy or enthusiasm.
- Accepting mediocrity.
- Lacking clear direction or vision.
- Exhibiting poor judgment.
- Poor collaborators.
- Telling others to..."do as I say, not as I do."
- Resisting new ideas.
- Repeating mistakes.
- General lack of diplomacy.
- An inability to develop others.
Take all of these flaws into careful consideration, and one-by-one, start improving your leadership skills. It is vital to the continued growth and success of your business. Remember that your employees learn by example. It's not what you say, it's what you do that counts. If you are down, they will be down. If you don't know what to do, they certainly won't know either. Listen to knew, fresh ideas of employees. Praise them for their input, and give credit where credit is due. If you can effectively address these ten leadership flaws, you can develop great leaders in your organization and be recognized and appreciated as a great leader yourself.
• I Hate Firing People
Sharpen Your Communication Skills
You have heard it said, "You only have one chance to make a first good impression." That is so true, but keep in mind that involves more than one front. First, when you meet a new prospect, you must dress the part, be warm, friendly and make the prospect feel at ease? But, that's just the beginning. What comes out of your mouth is even more important. Sharpen your communication skills. Words are powerful. Every word you speak can greatly impact the outcome of the sales process. Study your products and services. Discover what your prospects need to hear. Watch their reaction to what you say. Some words just simply scare people. Words like contract, buy, price, and cheap. Don't scare your prospects away before you have a chance to introduce them to your products and services. Learn to select your words carefully. Instead of "contract" say "agreement." Don't say "buy" say "enjoy." Instead of "price and cheap," say "rate and affordable." Selecting the right words can help make the sale. Selecting the wrong words can quickly kill the deal and scare away a new potential customer.
• Build Customer Loyalty
I Hate Firing People
I hate firing people. I particularly hate firing someone who is working hard, giving it everything they've got, but just not getting it. Sometimes hiring and firing employees can feel like you're trapped in a revolving door. Unfortunately, as a business owner, this challenge just comes with the territory. You want to give a dedicated employee every chance to succeed, but there comes a time that either things have to improve or you are only hurting them, and the company brand. The truth can be brutal. No matter how gentle and kind you try to approach a sensitive matter like this, it's bound to result in some pain. I found that delaying the inevitable will, more often than not, result in even more trauma. You're not doing anyone any favors by hanging on and hanging on, when you know it isn't working. Believe it or not, it's much easier to cut the ties early on and count your losses, than to pretend things will get better when you know they won't. As a business owner, often times you have to think with your head and not with your heart. Sometimes it's not fun being the owner.
• Benefits Sell
Build Customer Loyalty
If you build customer loyalty, your profits will build. Customers most vividly recall their very first and last impressions when interacting with your business. You must greet customers with a smile and a warm welcome. Be sure to let them know that you are looking forward to serving them in the future. Now let's talk about service. We are living in the age of instant. Everything around us is moving at lightning speed. So this new generation of customers, expect a quick and instant response to their every need. If you can't deliver in this new, fast-paced environment, you better rethink your business model in order to stay competitive. Once you are up to speed, now you must serve. Some things just stay the same. The only way you will gain deep customer loyalty is through true, caring service. Once you've developed a satisfied base of new generation customers, they will talk, text, tweet, and brag about you on and offline. Believe me, that's the best advertising any business can get. Some would suggest that this kind of advertising is free...but it comes at a price. You must spend a lot of time and energy serving these loyal fans. Are you in the game?
• Let Go And Let God
Trying to sell your products and services can be challenging. Here are some tips to help you gain new clients. First, always analyze your prospects needs. If you ask the right questions, the prospect will tell you what they need and how to sell them. Secondly, you must establish value and help the prospect feel that you have a product or service that will make their life easier. You can mention product features, but always know, people buy based on emotion. A feature is: "it's light-weight and available in three different colors." Features are nouns or adjectives: light-weight, beautiful and blue. No one ever buys a noun or adjective, people buy verbs. The benefit is "you'll feel better, excited and proud to display your new product to your friends and neighbors." You see, benefits are verbs, so sell verbs: "You'll be proud, relieved, happy, or excited." Now that's what they really want.
• Integrity and Character
Let Go And Let God
Bitter, grumpy, cranky...get over it! As a business professional I am out and about quite a bit. I visit restaurants, small businesses, and retail stores often. Wow, I am amazed that there are so many bitter, grumpy, cranking people dealing directly with the public. Unfortunately, in my experience, it's not just the employees - they can be fired; it's the owners and general managers. Doesn't it make you wonder how they stay in business? No doubt, the Global Economic Crisis is having a huge impact on people and their attitudes...not just employees, but business owners and managers as well. You may be angry because of the politics and deception which brought us to this dark place, but leave your anger at home, or don't go to work. Things are miserable for a lot of people. No one needs your misery added into the mix. Chalk it up to one of life's experiences. Life's eternal - this really isn't going to last all that long. Don't forget, this is just a short stop on a much longer journey.
• You Must Stay Motivated
Integrity and Character
Let's prioritize. What's important? What really matters? I believe it is best summed up in this quote from Dr. Billy Graham, "When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost." So, if you gain wealth, it doesn't mean much if your health is sacrificed in the process. But even with health, if wealth is gained without integrity and character it is worthless and fruitless. So, you need to focus on your character first and foremost. Be a person of your word. Try your best to live above reproach. Secondly, live healthy. Make every effort to eat right, exercise, and work reasonably toward achieving your goals. Don't work 24/7 and sacrifice your family and even your faith walk for success. When you truly evaluate what is important in life, it is integrity and character. If you focus on attaining these traits in your life everything else that is good will follow.
• Setting Goals
You Must Stay Motivated
As the economy continues to flounder, and unemployment is higher than ever, it can become difficult to keep yourself motivated. Many companies are cutting back on spending, and the pressure to deliver your best is greater than ever. It is easy to lose your motivation and simply give up. But, giving up is not really an option. In fact, it is the recipe for disaster. That means, you must stay motivated. In tough times like this, there are opportunities. You do have services and solutions that others need. You must be aware that you can do better than you are doing now; that's a given. Sometimes things can't get much worse. Or could they? They can only get worse if you quit. Never, never quit! Accept your responsibilities, roll-up your sleeves, and keep working hard. You may actually, for now, have to work twice as hard to make half as much. But, you will get to the other side, and when you get there, you will be so much better than you were before this journey began.
• Take Charge Of Your Business
Setting Goals is the hallmark of your success. Make a Dream List. What do you want? Write your list out. Now, wait at least 24 hours, review your list, scrutinize it, revise it, and then move forward with what remains. If you say "You Can," if you say "You Can't" you're right. Set your goals higher than you can reach, then reach them! Prepare every day. Motivation is the key, and a positive attitude is a must. On a daily basis you should feed your mind with good, clean, pure, powerful, and positive material. Read good books and listen to motivational, educational and inspirational recordings. Regularly attend growth seminars or industry-related lectures and training programs. Get started Today! Write down at least six tasks to complete toward achieving your goals. Pray and believe everyday. Visualize it everyday. See it as done.
• What Is Your Mission Statement?
Take Charge Of Your Business
In your business who is at the helm, who is the Captain of the ship? Every business must have a leader...a principal to whom everyone is held accountable. As a business leader you must learn to delegate authority. You must have confidence in your staff and trust they can complete the task at hand or, maybe you have the wrong people or the wrong attitude. If you believe that you have to do everything yourself in order to have it done right, then you will spread yourself too thin. Jesus said, "For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?" Count the cost. Have you surrounded yourself with employees that are focused...employees that can get the job done. Assemble the best staff you can, and then trust them. Remember, it takes a lot more to run a ship than just the Captain.
• Don't Get Stuck In Yesteryear
What Is Your Mission Statement?
Are you focused? If your business is not focused on a specific objective, your vision will be blurred, and you can veer off track, and more often than not, run head-on into a brick wall. How does one get focused? Commit yourself to the task at hand and always remember your Organization's Mission Statement. If you do not have a clearly defined and written Corporate Mission Statement, now is the time to formulate one. It provides direction and helps staff and leadership stay true to their primary goals and purpose. Your Mission Statement needs to be concise, to the point, realistic, focused, inspirational, and motivational. It should clearly state your purpose, your commitment to that purpose, and reflect your organization's values and integrity. Your Mission Statement should be referred to constantly - print it out, and post it on your office walls for yourself, your staff, and your associates to see. Make your Mission Statement the very fabric of your corporate purpose and stay focused on your success.
Don't Get Stuck In Yesteryear
As a business professional, are you keeping up with the times? The business landscape has changed more dramatically in the last two-to-three years, than it has in the last two decades. With the emergence of social media such as
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Digg and StumbleUpon (just to name a few), business marketing has been transformed into an entirely different strategy. If your business is not engaged in the internet, and many of the current and
more relevant marketing media, you are missing out on many opportunities to grow your business. Don't get stuck in yesteryear! What worked then may have no merit or impact today. Your business needs to be up-to-date, fresh and relevant. You need to stand out head and shoulders above the
competition. If you are not tech-savvy, we strongly suggest you consult with a marketing expert and get connected to today's new business economy.