Monday, December 17, 2012

Business Tips From ‘A Christmas Carol’

I came across this article by By Jen Schiller  with business tips from A Christmas Carol one of my favorite this time of the year. Enjoy, Don
As the holiday season bulldozes on it’s sometimes hard not to feel like Charles Dickens’ infamous boss Ebenezer Scrooge in the classic ‘A Christmas Carol.’
And business owners and entrepreneurs, feeling the pinch of the holidays, can unintentionally develop some Scrooge-like tendencies.
Therefore, I’m putting on my best Jacob Marley ghost costume to bring  business tips, courtesy of ‘A Christmas Carol.’
The Ghost of Company Past:
To start with, I bring you the Ghost of Company Past. If you are a business owner try to remember the roots of your company. While change and progress are critical to the sustained success of a company, so too is the adherence to the principles and values set forth originally. Many young entrepreneurs get so wrapped up in the future that they fail to recognize what made the company successful in the first place. As the boss it is your job to keep employees on an ethical path.
Ghost of Company Present:
Next, we sail off with the Ghost of Company Present. Here’s the time for business owners  to remember to enjoy the current path of your company and view the positives of your current situation. Just like Tiny Tim saw the good in people despite all the obstacles he faced, you too should enjoy what you have. There is room for ambition in business, sure, but there’s no joy if you never stop to experience it. Bosses can use the holiday season as an excuse to celebrate company culture and instil a sense of pride for the company within the company.
Ghost of Company Yet To Come
Finally, we find ourselves in the presence of the Ghost of Company Yet To Come.
As the New Year dawns closer, business owners should take this time during the holiday season to envision their goals for the future of the company- remembering the lessons learned from the past and present. As the boss you may not find your grave unkempt or yourself stolen from, but outlining future plans to fix any issues you saw in the past or present iterations of your company is a noble and important goal this holiday season.
So there you have it, entrepreneurial tips courtesy of a trio of holiday ghosts. Maybe Dickens planned to write a compelling ethical and moral tale, but his story of the world’s most notoriously stingy boss set the stage for a set of holiday season-themed business ideas.
Don’t be a Scrooge this holiday season. Instead, be the entrepreneur and boss who is able to run a flourishing business, and an ethical one.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Make sure you sell what clients want to buy

Jaynie L. Smith, a U.S. sales and marketing consult-ant, likes to tell the story of the company that stuck to basics. It believed customers buy from people they know and trust. So its account reps put all their effort into building relationships with clients, through social events, expensive lunches and golf matches at the finest clubs.
Somehow, though, this didn't turn into sales. When the company finally looked into why its customers buy, it discovered clients actually prized quality and reliability most highly - no matter how much they enjoy the 19th hole.
How could a company get so out of touch with its clients? Smith, founder and chief executive of Florida-based Smart Advantage Inc., says this is standard procedure for most companies. She says her most recent book, Relevant Selling, is written for the 90% of businesses that never engage in formal customer research to ensure they're selling what their clients want to buy.
The implications are staggering. When companies simply guess what clients want, they take their leads from a) sales staff (not always known for their sensitivity, nor their commitment to objective data), or b) competitors (a.k.a., the blind leading the blind). Many companies likely could leave the current hard times behind by learning exactly what their customers value, then using those insights to differentiate them-selves. In one step they could move from slugging it out in a commodity market to dominating the most desirable niche in their industry - enjoying the fatter margins market leadership provides.
In an earlier book, Creating Competitive Advantage, Smith outlined how companies can create market elbow room by determining and then touting their unique competitive ad-vantages. But that turned out not to be enough. Her most recent book stems from the realization that after companies review their branding and their differentiators, they don't take the next step to deter-mine which attributes actually matter to customers. In her research, she says, "We found a frightfully large percentage of companies were way off the mark."
Many, for instance, simply assume price is a customer's first concern. Time and again, Smith's research found clients were more concerned about suppliers' financial stability, response time, or "on-time deliveries with accurate fill rates." ("Price" usually ranks in the lowest quintile, below 20%.)
She reports that one company, following her advice, now focuses its value proposition not just on quality, but on fast delivery and a product-testing process that is five times more gruelling than industry standard. The payoff? Smith says this client maintained unit sales when its market contracted 10%. And it pulled off a price increase its rivals didn't dare match.
Smith identifies several reasons why so many companies get this so wrong:
- They use unreliable or biased sources (e.g., out-of date data, or employees' assumptions);
- They try to build on diverse internal perspectives (IT tends to think clients value technology most, while customer support thinks it's service.);
- Companies don't correlate their strategic disciplines with customers' top buying criteria;
- Different customer groups buy for different reasons, an insight companies miss when their sales teams deliver the same message to all;
- Companies underestimate the return on investing in disciplined customer research. ("We have seen revenues increase as much as 117% for companies that became relevant because of their investment in testing potential competitive advantages," Smith insists.)
Determining the true voice of your customer is not as hard as you might expect. Ask your industry association for relevant recent market research. Or ask it to conduct research for you, or even split the expense (member-ship must have some privileges). You can also conduct your own research, reducing costs by partnering with non-competitive industry peers (e.g., a specialty telecom wanting to produce a phone for arthritis sufferers gained funds and credibility by partnering with the Arthritis Society).
Smith also recommends interviewing your customers on a regular basis, not just to learn more about their needs, but to find out more about your competition. Vendors and subcontract-ors may also be useful sources of key information.
Smith says nothing can re-place hiring professional re-searchers to conduct objective surveys of customers' needs and wants. Relevant Selling concludes with a short primer on research, survey methodology, and how to pick a re-search firm. It may not sound as exciting as a golf tournament, but it's likely much more relevant.
- Rick Spence is a writer, consultant and speaker specializing in entrepreneurship. His column appears weekly in the Financial Post. He can be reached at rick@
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Thursday, December 22, 2011

What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?

Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a giving heart, a wide open heart that thinks of others first.

You are all probably familiar with the Christmas time story of Dr. Seuss', The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

Dr. Seuss was a favorite at our house and as my family gets a little bit older, we find we all need a break from the commercialism of the holiday season.

In moving some boxes recently I came across a copy of the now famous Dr Seuss tale and in reading the book it brought back great memories of watching the original show on TV with my daughters.

There is a part near the end that has always moved me and I trust this holiday season it will help you with what’s really important!!!

From Dr. Seuss:

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?

It came without ribbons. It came without tags.

It came without packages, boxes or bags.

And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore.

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.

What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store?

What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?

As the holiday season approaches, we at Floodlight would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support.

It is business associates and customers like you who make our jobs a pleasure and keep our company successful.

We value our relationship with you and look forward to sharing our business thoughts with you in the year to come.

From all of us at Floodlight we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with peace and prosperity.

Donald Robichaud - President
FloodLight - Build Your Business
 1-888-768-9415 Share

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Build Your Business by Listening more!!

Listening is the key to selling

In today’s business world, unless you go into the sales arena with a strategy in mind, you will fail more times than you win with prospective clients, as they are busy with their own businesses.
When selling in these times, you must learn to ask the proper questions in order to gain the appropriate information that then leads to increased knowledge.
What are your best questions?
Knowledge is power, and as you ask great questions, listen to your client’s answers, you will discover a tremendous amount of information that will be pivotal in the sales process.
What are the top 10 questions that you will ask every client?
Once you fully understand the client’s situation, you will be able to make effective presentations which will enhance your personal credibility.

The fact is when you meet your client that you are prepared will impress your client because having prepared questions is a strong indication that you have spent time thinking about helping them with the issues that your questions uncover.

Asking great questions helps you and our client to define their needs, to define their desired outcomes, and to consider how to move from where they are now to an attainable goal.

These questions will give you the confidence to express your own ideas clearly, specific to the situation, and visually when necessary.

All of these factors will significantly increase the probability of making the sale.
Please contact us for more information on how we can help you "Build Your Business"!

Floodlight – Build Your Business
Kelowna – Ottawa – Kingston – Toronto
1-888-768-9415 Share

Friday, May 20, 2011

Why can't you get more referrals?

Another great video from Jeffrey Gitomer

Why can't you get more referrals? The definition of "referral" will surprise you, and at the same time make you understand why you don't get as many as you expect or ask for. The definition of "referral" is: Risk.
Do you ask for referrals?
Do you get as many as you think you should?
Why do people hesitate when you ask?
Why do people not give them to you, or put you off?
Why do YOU hesitate to ask?
Maybe you feel awkward asking because you really don't feel that you've earned the referral yet.
Here are a few questions to ponder if you didn't get what you asked for:
Did they like you enough?
Did they trust you enough?
What did you do to deserve it?
Did you deliver more than promised?
Did you serve them at the highest level possible?
What did you do that was memorable?
What did they risk by giving a referral to you?
Giving a referral is a risk. Is your customer willing to take that risk by referring you? Are they willing to risk a friendship or relationship they have by referring someone to you? Or more powerfully stated, WHEN are they willing - at what point in your relationship with them would they be willing to risk a friendship or relationship they have with someone else, by referring them to you? Here are a few deeper questions to ponder if you didn't get what you asked for:
What have you done to both earn the trust of AND reduce the risk of your customer? If "not enough" is the answer - then it's probably the amount of referrals you get.
REALITY: You are NOT going to get great (real) referrals without a high level of comfort, a history of performance, and deep level of trust.
Referrals are the highest percentage sales call in the universe. Would you rather have 100 cold call leads or one referral? Just checking. Referrals are not magic, but they sure make selling seem like it - you make more sales when you have more referrals. Everyone wants referrals, BUT few are willing to do more than ask to get them - and some salespeople don't even do that. There's a way to get more referrals than you thought possible - but there are some hitches, one of which is hard work on your part.
What's the best way to get a referral?
Don't ask for them; earn them!
PICTURE THIS: You walk into your best friend's house and say, "Mary could you do me a favor? I'm looking for some new friends and I was wondering if you knew anybody like yourself that you could refer me to, and oh by the way I'm going to be selling them something. And if you wouldn't mind doing an introduction for me, I'd really be a happy about that. And oh by the way, thanks."
Doesn't that sound ludicrous? Doesn't it seem imposing? Doesn't it even border on rude? And your friend may even agree to do this for you, but in the end when it comes time to put up or shut-up, their list will be very short. Maybe even empty. Yeah, yeah that's it. Empty. And you can be an even bigger jerk by calling them up pretending to like them, by saying "And speaking of referrals, how about those friends I asked you about the other day?" What I have just described for you is what 99.9% of all salespeople do when they ask for a referral. And it is obvious from the above example that they are 100% wrong! Anyone who asks for a referral doesn't get it. A referral isn't something that you ask for. A referral is something that you earn. Oh sure you can ask for them, but it makes everyone feel awkward and will oftentimes destroy a budding relationship.
Which brings me to my point.
When is the best time to ASK for a referral?
After the risk has been eliminated.
Sales managers tell salespeople to ask for referrals as soon as you make a sale. And sales managers are wrong. Real wrong. After the sale has just been completed is the WORST time to get a referral. You haven't delivered. There's no relationship yet. There's no proof of service yet. And trust is tentative. Start them thinking by asking, "Mr. Jones, if we deliver and exceed your expectations, who else would you insist get this?" Let him answer. Then ask, "If we are phenomenal, would you be willing to call a few associates and set up a three-way lunch?" Now the referral outcome is in your court. All you have to do is perform the way you promised. All you have to do is deliver.
Asking for the referral too early is playing the "greed' card.
Asking when you have eliminated risk and built trust is the "money" card.
My measure of success as a salesperson has always been by the number of unsolicited referrals I get. That's the report card of selling. People referring you behind your back. People referring you without asking. People calling you and wanting to buy. Share

Monday, January 31, 2011

How to Fix Your Prospecting in a Single Day

Sales prospecting is a lot like exercise.

We all know that we need to do it, we usually have a good idea of how to do it, and we can be pretty certain of what the long-term results will be... and yet, that doesn't make it any easier.

The issue, of course, comes down to discipline. To enjoy that pipeline full of fresh, qualified sales leads later, we have to do some things that might be inconvenient or uncomfortable today.

The good news, however, is that the discipline you need to prospect isn't as hard as you might think. Here's how you can fix your prospecting problems virtually overnight.

First, set aside one day per week for prospecting. This might be the hardest part of the process, since it's going to feel unnatural at first, and there’ll be lots of other issues clamoring for your attention. But, unless the office is burning down behind you, put them aside for the day.

What you’ll get in return is eight or nine uninterrupted hours devoted to generating new leads and sales opportunities.

Honor the time you’ve set. Don’t give in to the temptation to schedule over it when business feels too busy. Seclude yourself from interruption and focus on prospecting.

Spend some of this time cold calling, networking and email prospecting. Sellers love networking events because they get face-to-face with potential prospects. While networking might give you good leads, it often doesn't produce the volume you need to hit your sales goals.

Once a month use a portion of your prospecting time for networking, then reserve the rest for phone calls and email prospecting.

Always have a list of prospects you want to call or follow up with. You may have met them at a networking event, gotten their names from a trade show, or simply have a list pulled from Netprospex.

On your prospecting day, call and email prospects from your list. Over time you’ll find that these contacts add a steady flow of fresh, new opportunities to your pipeline and expand your client base.

Contact lost prospects! I often wish there was a way to calculate the value of the missed opportunities that got away, only to never be followed up on again. Sellers are sometimes hesitant to reconnect with potential clients who didn't bite, but they can be a massive source of future income.

Think about it this way. How long did you spend deliberating on your last major purchase? And would you necessarily make the same decision next time?

Your lost prospects are the same way. Things change. Sometimes projects don’t go as expected. Their businesses evolve and grow.

Unless you burned the bridge by being rude or unprofessional with a lost prospect, this could be a hidden goldmine for you. Follow up with these contacts at least every six months.

Take advantage of your Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) software. That means both learning it and using it.

Just as it's incredibly important that you follow up on prospects that got away, you'll want to remember the details of what you talked with them about in the past, not to mention how long ago it was that you touched base.

It builds confidence when you can tell a prospect that you last spoke in March right before their cruise, and then ask about the trip. You have solid information you can use to restart the conversation.

It isn’t a cold call.

It’s a follow-up and your CRM allows you to differentiate yourself from other sellers because you took a moment to note that tidbit about your prospect.

Note bits of information like the cruise and their business situation. Schedule your next follow-up. Then monitor your CRM to see what calls you need to make.

Make your prospecting follow-up calls on your scheduled prospecting day. After all, these are your prospects. When your scheduled prospecting day rolls around, you have a list of people you’ve spoken to in the past combined with new contacts to call.

It does take some discipline to get your prospecting effort moving. But if you can get started and stick with it, you'll begin to see new accounts flowing in faster than you'd imagine – and that's bound to make your sales life a lot easier.

Written by Kendra Lee Share

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

It's that time of year: "Call me back after the holidays."

Great Sales Video from Jeffery Gitomer

It's that time of year: "Call me back after the holidays."

"Call me after the holidays is the second most-heard objection in sales (first being, "Your price is too high." Third being "I have to think about it."). It comes up year after year and salespeople get frustrated year after year, unnecessarily. Here's how to think about it and here's what to do about it...

Humbug. Salespeople hate holidays. It's an excuse for decision makers to put buying decisions on hold. But the worst of them are the Christmas to New Year, "Call me back after the holidays," and "Call me after the first of the year." Two of the most hated phrases in sales. (They still rank behind "We've decided to buy from someone else.")

Call me after the holidays is not an objection. It's worse. It's a stall. Stalls are twice as bad as objections. When you get a stall, you have to somehow dance around it, and then you still must find the real objection before you can proceed.

Here are 11.5 clever lines and winning tactics to use that will help overcome the stall:
1. Close on the stall line. "What day after the first of the year would you want to take (would be most convenient to take) delivery?"

2. Firm it up, whenever it is. Ask, "When after the first of the year? Can I buy you the first breakfast of the new year?" Make a firm appointment.

3. If it's just a callback, make the prospect write it down. Call backs must be appointed, or the other guy is never there when you call. Writing it down makes it a firm commitment.

4. Tell them about your resolutions. "I've made a New Year's resolution that I'm not going to let people like you who need our service, delay until after the first of the year. You know you need it."

5. Offer incentives and alternatives. Invent reasons not to delay. Bill after the holiday. Order now, deliver after the holiday.

6. Question them into a corner -- and close them when they get there. "What will be different after the holidays? Will anything change over the holidays that will cause you not to buy?" (Prospect's answer -- "Oh no, no, no.") "Great!" you say, "Let's get you order in production (service scheduled) now, and we'll deliver it after the holiday. When were you thinking of taking delivery (beginning)."

7. Agree. Then disagree. I know what you mean...lots of people feel that way. Most don't realize that the money wasted between now and the first of the year, will equate to a huge savings if they buy now. Are you sure you want to waste the money?

8. Get a testimonial letter. Ask someone who bought before the holidays and was glad they did to write you a two paragraph letter. Get one paragraph about the value they received and how they originally wanted to wait. The second paragraph should be about how happy they are about your service after the sale. Similar situations are more powerful than your sales pitch.

9. Drop-in with holiday cheer. Use a small holiday plant or gift to get in the door. (No one says no to Santa -- unless you live in Philadelphia. There they boo Santa.)

10. Create urgency. There's a product or delivery back-up after the first -- schedule now.

11. Be funny. Say, "So many people have said call me after the first that I'm booked until April. I do however, have a few openings before the first. How about it?" Making the other person laugh (smile) will go a long way towards getting past the stall. An alternative joke is, "What holiday?"

11.5 Beg. Pleeeeaaase. I'll be your best friend.

Reality check. The success with which this stall is able to handled is directly related to the quality of the relationship that's been built with your prospect or customer. A good relationship allows more liberty to press for immediate action. A weak relationship will mean you wait until after the holiday. Or longer. Share