Engaging prospects two vital elements to dropping resistance

: You pick up the phone, the decision maker is on the line, countless letters and attempts have been made to get to this point, your great benefit line comes out, response; “not interested, click”. Want to be able to “engage” customers with out creating resistance? Here are 2 vital elements everyone needs to be influential and persuasive. Now it does not matter if we are using the phone, walking in cold or in a retail setting. We need to avoid adding any additional resistance in the other persons mind. There is this avoidance of “sales people” in 80% of our population including other sales people. This is mainly because of product pushing, “I don’t want to be sold something”. Here is the key; do I understand what the other person really wants? Do I have an idea of how to talk in their “language”? Can I ask a question that will drop resistance and engage them in conversation? It has been proven time and time again that shoving your product in front of someone will create resistance to you and your product. Review the first and second key from the last article (4 Keys to Selling), your customer buys the “results” of your product/service/idea because it fixes, fills or satisfies their perceived needs or wants. This means your product/service/idea is just a means to and end, not the main issue. 1. Our first action is to take the time and determine just what is it that our product/service/idea does for the other person. Determine what the real results are from using your product/service/idea. Here are some examples. A business owner might be looking for more time, better productivity, reducing hassle in some area, freeing up capital for something else. A young mother with 3 toddlers might be looking for best value, more time, better direction, safety, even just a listening ear. A plant manager might be looking for ways to get better compliance, reduce down time and get his numbers up, keeping his boss off his back. Think of your past and current customers, what is it your product/service/idea did for them? What did it reduce, take away, eliminate or create? Also keep in mind that people have a tendency to avoid loss more than obtain gain. This means if you can provide a better “today”, it generally has more power than a better “tomorrow”. In a recent training program we worked with a real conflict situation a participant was involved with. We ended up with over 50 “what’s in it for the other party” points that could be used to engage the other party in a positive way! It took 5 minutes! 2. Second you want to “engage” your prospect or customer in a positive way. The best way is to develop questions that can “engage” rather than repel. Before we start, we have to understand what results your product can potentially provide for your customer. Here are some examples. Office equipment: Reduce work load, eliminate paper, eliminate errors, streamline process, reduce labor expense, free up time, create in-house opportunities, and eliminate daily frustrations. Real Estate Agent: Eliminate wasted time, reduce the stress of selling/buying, assure legalities are covered, target the market, professional image, experienced input, negotiations services, and eliminate the hassles. Now there are many more and I suggest you create at least 20 for your product. Here is a hint, list the facts about your product, then all the benefits related to that fact and then ask, “What are the results to my customer/other party because of these benefits”. Let’s now apply these to questions that “engage” our customers. We want to use “open” type questions that get people talking. If we don not have them talking we have only partial engagement. Open questions use what, why, how in their structure. “Mr. Jones, what effect would a reduced work load have on your staff?” “If you could eliminate both paper and errors in your current procedures, what would happen for you?” “Just suppose the frustrations you face on a daily basis were gone, how would it change things for you?” Now put yourself in the customer’s shoes, how would you react to the previous questions versus this? “We sell copiers and office machines of the highest quality with excellent service, when could we meet to determine your needs?” How many words are in this question that create resistance or could be rejected by the customer? Compare that to the three questions above, which ones “engage” and which question repels. Now if your customer is a “D-I”* type you usually can ask for appointments or get quickly to the point. If you have an “S-C”* type they may want more info which you can give in the form of a quick example of another application you have done, not a litany of your products facts and benefits. This has proven to be a much more viable way to engage customers and people in general than talking about your “stuff”. People are concerned about their issues and problems, not your product or you. Engage them by asking about what a “result” might do to their concerns and issues. You will find them much more open and willing to talk. One of our participants in the Internet Technologies asked only one of these type questions and 20 minutes later closed on a million dollar deal! Just one question! The customer did all the talking and sold themselves. The power of engagement! For more on building these skills and thinking patterns, check out the Influence and Persuasion Program and Reverse Engineered Sales at our web site www. hgoergerassoc. com * DISC Behavior Patterns, ask us about how this can help you sell, manage and engage people. Questions or comments: Contact Harlan at [email protected] net cell phone 701-799-1972.

10 low-cost sales boosters you don t want to overlook

You don't have to spend a fortune to boost your sales! Take a look at these 10 quick and easy ways to send your profits to the moon without digging into you advertising budget.

1. Test and Evaluate

Have you ever wondered just how much of your advertising budget should go toward experimenting with the latest marketing strategies? Marketing gurus say... spend 20 percent looking for new and improved marketing methods, while the remaining 80 percent uses the "tried and true" marketing strategies to keep the profits flowing.

2. Capture Attention on your Website

Use headlines that leap out and grab the reader's attention to moment they open your Web page. Hey, they're just like you... if their attention isn't caught immediately, they 're ready to surf on the more exciting things!

3. Use the Best-Kept Marketing Secret - Postcards

Postcards are quick and easy to read, not to mention the fact that you can shave off a great deal of wasted advertising expenses by targeting your market. Hey, they're cheap and convenient for you, and they get read more than other types of advertising materials... a winner all the way around!

4. Let Customers Sell You

Some things sound better coming from someone else. Yes, it's hard to brag your business up as effectively as a satisfied customer. Testimonials are evidence that you deliver what you promise. Paste them across ads, your Website, and any other sales copy you happen to distribute.

5. Just Ask

Great salesmen take the time to listen to the questions the customer has, identify their wants and needs, then ask for the sale. That's right, they're not afraid to just ask them to buy! Sometimes customers just need that little bit of pressure to cement the deal.

6. Raise the Value

Sometime value is only in they eyes of the beholder. You can raise the perceived value of your products by pointing out benefits that consumers may have overlooked. While you're at it, raise the price. Yeah, we all know that more valuable items have higher price tags! Don't be surprised if your profits skyrocket.

7. Make it Easy to Decide

Have you ever had a hard time deciding what to buy? Uh-huh, you don't always come to a conclusion immediately. Every time a customer walks out of the store without making a decision, you take a big chance on losing the sale. Keep the options to a minimum to maximize the sales numbers.

8. Break it Down

Got a big ticket item? Break the price into bite sizes for more appeal. Yeah, 90 cents a day sounds much cheaper than $325!

9. Create Bonuses

An unexpected bonus with a purchase makes it seem like you got a lot more for your money. Keep customers smiling when they walk away from the cash register, and they'll keep coming back for more.

10. Handle Customer Complaints With a Little TLC

Don't waste time getting to the bottom of the problem. Customers want to feel they are being heard, or they wouldn't take the time to complain to you. Are you afraid that you'll be losing profit, if you have to bend too far backwards to accommodate them? Think of it this way... an unhappy customer you turn into a happy customer will become a loyal customer. Yeah, it'll pay in the long run.

What s your magic number

The most successful businesses — and certainly, sales departments — have identified their Key Performance Indicators (KPI); individual gateways that directly effect the outcome of a particular process. Then they measure the competency ratios in line with them.

Have you identified the KPIs in your sales process?

A good KPI example in the sales process might be how many times you advance the first sales appointment to the next phase, whether that’s a demonstration, a site visit, a survey or a proposal. Another KPI is how many times you gain a new customer once the first gateway is passed. And when you do gain a new customer, what’s the average revenue you achieve? That’s certainly an important KPI. Because if your average revenue per sale is 40% less than the average peer KPI, you might want to find out why and take focused action to improve it, as you’re leaving money on the table.

And what about the length of a sales cycle in days? Is that conditional or do you have a degree of control over it? If you have a team member that has an average sales cycle 30% shorter than the peer group, uncover and assimilate those best practices out to the rest of the sales team. Less time, more results. That makes ‘Sales Cycle’ a valuable KPI.

On a practical level, KPIs can provide management prospect reactions to their service offering for feedback to marketing and product development, detect problem areas in sales performance and signal the need for strategic or tactical modifications — even an all-out intervention through pinpoint sales performance training.

Perhaps the most overlooked KPI is the individual ‘Magic number’; how many new weekly sales opportunities must be generated based on neighboring KPI’s. Think of the magic number as the fuel in your gas tank needed to get from point A to point B. It’s directly proportional to how far a distance, how fast you drive and your average miles per gallon. Your sales process ‘Magic number’ is a derivative of your average revenue per sale, 1st appointment to proposal ratio, closing ratio and revenue goal. It’s your ‘Activity barometer’ and it should be at 100%.

The following are some tips for improving several sales process KPI’s.

If your current 1st Appointment to Proposal ratio is below 65%:

1. Internally define what your ‘Next step’ objective of the 1st appointment is; a demo, a site visit, a survey or a proposal. Then train to a process and measure the outcome.

2. Decide to start at the ‘Top’ with the fiscal authority that can ‘Call the shots’.

3. Avoid ‘Selling’ your product on the 1st appointment. Instead, outline your diagnostic steps to evaluate the fit between your solutions parallel to their business objectives.

If your current Closing ratio is below 65%:

1. Ask pertinent questions to what the Prospect Company’s decision-making process is, what the internal criteria for change is and what players need to be involved for evaluation.

2. Communicate a timeline and set a specific date for the 2nd appointment before leaving the 1st appointment. Encourage that all management players be present at the next appointment.

3. Catalog risk factors for each management player and develop strategies, tactics, and tools for direct communication to them.

4. Have relevant industry and title reference letters available for ‘Real-time’ credibility.

If your current ‘Activity barometer’ is below 100%:

1. Announce the Competency of converting conversations to appointments as a Key performance Indicator for sales success.

2. Define an appointment setting training objective and set a realistic goal.

3. Develop a training process in line with prospecting scenarios and best practice communications.

4. Don’t sell your ‘Widget’; sell the Business reason to meet.

5. Partner with technology to transfer best prospecting practices into ‘Intellectual capital’ promotion throughout your sales society.

Ultimately, sales trainers and management should work in concert to create a new culture by replacing random sales routines with specific KPI competency training.

Targeted and timely KPI training can make a critical difference to your monthly revenue scorecard. In today’s high sales performance culture migrate away from monthly and quarterly ‘Quota’ focus to daily routines and weekly goals. The opportunity rests squarely on switching paradigms from the required ‘End result’ to the necessary steps (KPIs) to get there routinely. Then build supporting tools for learning and application.

And don’t forget your ‘Magic Number’.

Strategic selling - all three roles defined

: As we are all aware, getting to know the customer and understanding their needs is not a quick and easy process. Customers possess a hierarchy of needs which have to be uncovered gradually. This is why we need a new type of salesperson for a new type of customer. So what does this new breed of salesperson look like? For a start he or she has progressed from the more traditional, ‘lone ranger’ approach of selling to a more team-based consultative style. Our research shows that a consultative salesperson needs to fulfil three basic roles, that of business consultant, long-term ally and strategic orchestrator By combining all three roles salespeople are more able to develop and maintain long-term relationships with clients. At the same time, organisations need to ensure that they provide their salespeople with the vital support systems and training that enable them to make the most of their knowledge and skills Business Consultant: Gone are the days in which a salesperson could simply walk into an office, establish a good rapport with the client, show he/she had thorough knowledge of their products and services and clinch the sale. Nowadays, the emphasis is on establishing long-term, mutually beneficial relationships and in order to achieve this, the salesperson needs to earn the right to continue discussions with his/her client. Before they can proceed to sell their products or services, the salesperson needs to reassure the client of their integrity, reliability and ability to understand and recommend the appropriate solution. They can do this by demonstrating; • Up-to-date knowledge of business news and current affairs Best practices include - reading newspapers, magazines, journals, trade publications and other sources of business information; maintaining membership of appropriate professional organisations; acknowledging gaps in knowledge and taking steps to fill them; locating or developing databases with information on customers, their industries and their own customers. • An in-depth understanding of the customer’s industry, company and strategies as well as an appreciation of “the big picture”. Best practices include - gaining an understanding of the issues at all levels of the customer’s organisation including strategic, departmental and individual needs; seeking to understand the customer’s perceptions of market trends, company direction, plus potential product and service needs. • A readiness to exchange information and ideas between the supplier and client organisation. Best practices include - familiarising the customer with your own industry and companies; sharing useful business information even if it does not directly impact on the sales effort; demonstrating the cost-cutting or revenue producing benefits of your products and services. • The ability to listen and absorb information. Best practices include - refining the way you identify customer’s needs by asking the right questions and listening actively to customer comments; speaking at the listener’s level of knowledge; using stories and analogies effectively; asking for feedback on the clarity of your message. By demonstrating comprehensive knowledge, outstanding communication skills and the proper attitude, the salesperson earns the right to move beyond the role of supplier to that of a valued business consultant Strategic Orchestrator: To fulfil this role, the salesperson needs to be seen as the key person responsible for engineering the appropriate solution. This involves co-ordinating all of the information, resources and activities needed to support customers before, during and after the sale. It means enlisting support from specialist colleagues and hence the move away from the “lone ranger” approach. According to our research, effective strategic orchestrators have mastered the following competencies: - Knowledge of their own company’s structure - Expertise in developing and managing a team - Ability to manage priorities and performance - Ability to co-ordinate delivery and service to customers - Efficiency - Flexibility Customers of strategic orchestrators express a high level of confidence in the salesperson and his or her organisation: This increased confidence can lead to faster buying decisions, increased repeat business and strengthened links between customer and supplier organisations. Working as strategic orchestrators, salespeople are also able to develop their organisation’s capacity for team selling. Long Term Ally: Since the key to differentiation is in forging closer links with clients, the role of long-term ally is a crucial one. Once the salesperson has earned the right, it is important to develop and maintain the relationship. As the term suggests, acting as a long-term ally involves maintaining contact with the client even when there is no immediate prospect for a sale. It also suggests that the salesperson needs to be committed to the long-term development of the relationship. Our research shows that top salespeople demonstrate this commitment by continuously looking for ways to: o Build interpersonal trust o Create and maintain a positive image of the sales organisation o Inspire respect for their company o Show genuine concern for their customers’ short and long-term interest o Identify ways to strengthen the quality of their business relationship o Help the customer meet needs within his or her organisation o Deal with issues openly and honestly o Deliver on promises It is also crucial for the salesperson to ensure that the relationship between the organisations is mutually beneficial. In other words, it is essential to build and honour the expectation that reaching agreements will mean good business for both parties. At the end of the day, taking a long-term approach proves more profitable since the customer will recognise that the salesperson is taking a committed interest and in so doing is giving honest and open advice. This inevitably encourages the customer to trust the salesperson and to view him or her as a colleague rather than an opponent The Difference That Makes The Difference: According to Albert Einstein,” the definition of insanity is to continue to do the same things in the hope that those things will miraculously achieve a different result.” If that is the case, then sales managers who are not happy with the results they are achieving must make changes. Keep doing what you are doing and you’ll keep getting what you have been getting!! The moral right of the author, Jonathan Farrington, has been asserted. All rights reserved. This publication or any part thereof may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical including photocopying, recording, storage in an information retrieval system or otherwise, unless this notification of copyright is retained.

Screener and voice mail tips to help you get to more buyers

Here are some ideas to help with screeners and voice mail.

Don't Get Lost in the Phone System Bermuda Triangle.

When initially trying to locate a decision maker you've never spoken with, if you detect even the slightest bit of hesitation in a screener's voice when they give you a name, continuing questioning. Nothing is as frustrating as being shoved from one unwanting soul to another like a hot potato. Find out the title and department before you're sent there.

Ask for the Highest Level.

Find the level higher than the one that typically makes the decision. This way, if you need to be referred, it's better to say that you “. . . were speaking with Karen at Mr. McNabb's office, and she felt that Ms. Collins would be the person I should be speaking with.” It's important that you don't imply that Mr. McNabb said that she should buy from you; just let them know that you've come from above and your call will implicitly carry more clout.

Go to Other Departments.

This also works when an operator or screener is not authorized to give out the names of the people you're looking for. Ask for someone in sales . . . you know they're always willing to talk! Larger companies have purchasing departments that might be able to help. You might end up speaking with these people eventually, but what you really want to find out now is who uses and recom­mends your products. If you run into a talkative purchasing agent, you just might also learn who they're buying from, what they spend, and other goodies that can help you.

Even if you do land at the polar opposite of where you need to be in a company, use something like this: “I hope you can help me. I'm not in the right department, and you can probably point me in the correct direction. I'm Dale Strong with Thomas Development. I'm looking for the name of the person who handles the site selection for your franchises.”

Listen to their Entire Voice Mail Message.

If you don't, you might be missing potentially useful information. I was sitting in with a sales rep listening to call, and as soon as the voice mail answered, she hung up. I asked her to call back and listen again. On the recording she this time heard the person say that he wasn't going to be at this location for the next several days since he was at his other brand new location, and gave the phone number, and the hours he would be there! Now this rep knew nothing about the other location, but called him there, congratulated him on his expansion, and managed to close a sale right there!

Be prepared for voice mail.

Don't place a call without being ready to leave a statement on voice mail. Not just any message, though. Talk about ideas that you have which may poten­tially help them benefit in some way, or avoid loss. Talk about a problem you've solved for another company, and mention you'd like to ask them a few questions to determine if it would work for them as well.

Sound interesting.

There's something psychological about talking to a tape recorder that causes even the most elo­quent speakers to lapse into their robot-like voice. Be yourself! Visualize the live person you are speaking to at the other end, not a passionless microchip! Practice your messages. Recite-do not read-them into your own tape recorder. Listen to yourself, being very critical about areas you want to improve. Focus on your inflection, putting variation in your voice to convey the moods of enthusiasm, urgency, and importance you desire to con­vey. Be sure your articulation is crisp, especially in pronounc­ing the ends of words and consonants.

Hang up if you need to.

If you are not prepared, and the re­cording has the effect of erasing all signs of intelligence from your short-term memory, like a computer experiencing a data-zapping power surge, hang up before you say anything. Think through the message you'd like to leave. Then call back. Or, if their system allows it, review your message to be certain you're comfortable with it. If not, do it over.

Answer Screeners' Questions.

Never try to evade a screener's question. That's one sure way to get dumped. They simply want to determine if you have something of value. Use something like, “Let me explain why I'm calling. We work with companies such as yours that do large numbers of air express shipments to help them cut down on their total bill each month, and in some cases the savings runs from a few dollars to a few thousand. Whether or not we could do the same for you depends on several variables that I'd like to discuss with Mr. Holloway.”

It's tough to sell if you can't get through. Try these ideas.

How to forecast sales more accurately

When it comes to starting a business, entrepreneurs face a number of challenges, not least the issue of whether there is actually a demand for their particular product or service. The more unique the concept, the greater the challenge in predicting future sales levels. However, as this article will show, there are a number of methods that can assist you in making better educated guesses when forecasting sales for your goods or service.

Forecasting

Since time immemorial, people have sought to predict the future. Until the emergence of the relatively modern concept of ‘risk’ and the development of probability theory in the 17th century, predictions about the future had traditionally been the preserve of soothsayers such as Nostradamus. However, with probability theory, mathematicians demonstrated that one could use past indicators to make educated guesses as to the expected outcome of a particular set of events, e. g., the roll of a die. All these years later, and despite our progress, we still lack the ability to predict the future. Nevertheless, by considering various risks and probabilities, we can aim to understand some likely future (sales) scenarios to a greater degree.

Naturally, if you run an existing business, you will have a trading history and will be able to use this data to make more informed decisions with regards to future possible outcomes. If you generate strong cash flows and have a stable cost base, you can assess available investment options with more confidence. On the other hand, if you are just about to start up, you obviously lack ‘history’, and while you can make some assessment of the initial monthly outgoings (particularly fixed costs), the real challenge is to accurately predict the likely sales revenues. Breaking revenue down into its constituents (the product price times the quantity sold) gives entrepreneurs the two key figures they need to consider to begin forecasting. Price can be determined by the entrepreneur, while quantity is the variable that is most difficult to predict (notwithstanding the correlation between price and demand).

Why is forecasting important?

Firstly, cash is the lifeblood of any business and is needed to fund working capital to enable a business to run effectively. A large number of business expenses and investments in assets need to be paid for up front, and these obviously have to be paid for out of capital. These outgoings occur against a backdrop of uncertain sales levels and often a delay in receiving cash on those sales (exacerbated if your sales are predominantly on credit). Consequently, companies need to prepare cash flow forecasts to assess what the level of the cash shortfall will be, so they can obtain financial assistance in advance, such as bank overdrafts or loans. Companies can be profitable on paper yet run the risk of falling insolvent if they do not meet their obligations as they fall due. Hence, it is necessary to understand the nuances of cash flow for your particular business from Day 1, as good cash flow management plays a large role in ensuring continued solvency.

Of additional importance, investments in businesses are based on the ability of the firm to generate free cash flows, so as to reward the investor for taking a risk. The amount of cash generated and its timing is of particular interest to investors, who face an array of investment options with various risk / return tradeoffs. Typically, investors will look to review a business plan before they invest and they will pay particular attention to the predicted sales levels and cash generation capability of the company (as detailed in the cash flow forecast). Hence, these two factors underline why accurate forecasting is of vital importance to those setting up in business.

What forces affect demand?

At the start-up stage it is difficult to assess with certainty what you believe the revenue will be for Month 1. Once you have one month of trading, then of course you can use that month’s figures to forecast likely sales levels in subsequent months. As a result, when you draw up your business plan initially, you need to assess the landscape and try to estimate a range for the predicted sales levels.

The following represents a list of some questions about the key external and internal determinants of demand. Answers to these questions will support the entrepreneur in coming up with plausible figures for Month 1/ Year 1.

The Proposition

Pricing

Does the product or service fulfill an existing need? Has it been produced such that each key feature and resultant benefit is attractive to a commercially viable market segment?

What is the competitive landscape like, i. e., are there barriers to entry/ attractive alternatives? What is the turnover of a close competitor and how profitable are they?

Macro Environmental Trends

Competition

How is the product correlated to the external environment? Does demand drop significantly when the economy is struggling? Does the product attract extraordinary taxes or tariffs, e. g., alcohol and tobacco? Will a growing environmental consciousness affect demand levels?

Is the product priced at a level that will attract a sufficient number of customers? Standard demand and supply rules would dictate that the lower the price, the higher the demand for a product. What price level maximizes profitability?

Seasonal Characteristics

Substitutes

Is there any seasonality or cyclicality element to the product or service?

Are there many attractive substitutes? What are the main bases for differentiation in the market, i. e., price, features, service, etc.?

The Market

Marketing

What is the market demand for the product category (i. e., the size of the prize you are chasing)? Is it growing or is it stagnant?

Is there a marketing plan in place? What are the key marketing activities? Is there sufficient budget to effectively target various segments?

Route to Market

Has the company secured a "route to market"? How will customers access the product?

Having assessed the various determinants of demand, it is now a little easier to hone in on a plausible range of sales forecasts for the months and years ahead.

How do you make a sales forecast?

Once you have considered the context, you are now in a more informed position to consider potential revenue figures.

There are two main elements to forecasting – the use of facts and the use of subjective assessment / judgment. Given the uncertainty, you can aim to identify a range for the sales predictions depending on your assessment of the potential impact on sales of specific conditions, be they environmental or company-specific (or a combination of both). There are numerous determinants of demand, ranging from the performance of the overall economy to whether there is any appetite (demand) for your particular product or service. You need to consider which of these is likely to have the biggest impact on your offering. Ideally, you should be able to obtain a Profit and Loss / Income Statement (facts) for a competitor and you could use that as a reference point to assess likely demand levels for your company (judgment).

Looking for comparable indicators for a service

Not every new company has a directly comparable competitor whose accounts can be scrutinized for sales data. However, no matter how unique your concept is, if you define your market widely enough, it is likely that you can use figures from alternative offerings (facts) to help you assess likely demand levels (judgment). For example, when the Millennium Dome was being launched in London in 2000, they initially targeted 12 million visitors in Year 1. While the actual visitor figures reached an impressive 6.5 million, the huge shortfall in numbers meant that it was not even close to breaking even / financial viability and it ultimately failed as a venture. Had senior management looked closely at visitor figures for the UK’s other top paying attractions, they would have found that Alton Towers was top at 2.65 million visitors closely followed by Madam Tussaud’s and the Tower of London. These proxies would have given them a clearer sense of the range in numbers and a more conservative target within this range would have resulted in a very different proposition / investment structure from Day 1.

If you are looking to set up a local service such as a coffee shop, there are also numerous resources you can use in assessing likely demand. Websites such as www. caci. co. uk/acorn/ and www. upmystreet. com/ enable you to get extensive free demographic data about areas based on post code searches. Profiles available from www. scavenger. net offer an insight into a specific industry and its outlook. Finally, if you want to consider setting up overseas, then websites such as www. cia. gov/cia/publications/factbook/ give an excellent insight into various local conditions in advance of undertaking more localised research.

The facts from these sources need to be backed up by judgment. If, for example, you were looking to open a coffee shop on the Fulham Road, London, you would start with a list of likely costs, ranging from rent through to set-up, etc. Once you had an estimate of the costs, you would then look to work out the revenues. To do this, you could park a car outside of a particular target location for the shop and count “footfall” for the day. You could also obtain average spend per customer, estimate a percentage conversion rate from the footfall and use these figures to assess whether you believed you could break even by relying on passing trade.

You could also drive around the neighbourhood looking at competitive coffee shops and their locations. Hence, by using a number of different data points, you can now make a more informed decision on the financial viability of a proposed coffee shop in Fulham. If you want to get more scientific, you could assess how consumption of coffee is correlated with the economy (i. e., will less be consumed in a down turn) and also whether you needed to stock alternatives to boost average spend e. g. fair trade coffee /non coffee-based alternatives or food. As mentioned previously, there is no exact number – you are merely striving to produce a good educated guess, i. e., a plausible figure that is within a range for a typical company in that field. Product Indicators

There are a number of different methods to try to assess sales levels for a new product. Firstly, by assessing the key benefits of the product, it is possible to understand the core need being fulfilled. This will then help inform you of a category of complements or substitute products it belongs to. More scientific approaches include George Day’s top down and bottom up approaches which seek to assess demand from different sides. The top down approach seeks to drill down from the total population to a final market segment, whereas the bottom up approach looks to generalize from the consumption of individual customers.

Alongside these approaches are more subtle ones, for example, an assessment of demand based upon data from disparate sources such as the Internet. Here are two common tools:

“Key Word Assistant” from Overture http://inventory. uk. overture. com/d/searchinventory/suggestion/ is one such tool. It enables you to enter a search term for your product and it returns the number of searches that were undertaken on that term in the previous month. Invariably searches are attempts to resolve problems or satisfy needs, so the results can give an indication as to likely demand levels.

“eBay Pulse” relies on a similar concept http://pulse. ebay. co. uk/ as it gives an insight into top sellers from the eBay market place. Again, this can help you assess demand for a particular product, determine the category it is best suited to, and even a naming convention (when assessed in conjunction with the Key Word Assistant).

How do you make a more accurate sales forecast?

Having assessed the wider environmental conditions and considered the internal decisions regarding the proposition, it is possible to make more accurate predictions for Month 1. After that, it is a case of extrapolating into the future using a growth factor and flexing for seasonality or cyclical trends. Notwithstanding the difficulties in forecasting for a start-up, the real benefits accrue after a year of successful trading. Once there is an historical record for a year of trading, it is then possible to plan with more certainty through the use of more scientific methods, such as trend analysis and comparison with variables. For example, an ice cream vendor could compare sales of ice cream with an obvious variable – weather temperature – in order to assess the correlation between the two variables. Once a sales forecast has been made, it can then be used for budgeting, allocating resources, managing cash flow, and as a basis to secure investment.

Conclusion

The aim of sales forecasting is to come up with some revenue figures that can be considered to be credible in the wider context. As illustrated above, forecasting is not an exact science but a mix of fact-based analysis and judgment. Placing some rigor around the process of deriving credible revenue figures also serves the entrepreneur by enhancing their awareness of some of the key drivers for revenue growth in their business. It will also help them to produce a more plausible business plan, and ensure that the author is confidently able to answer questions regarding the market opportunity – questions that will top the list of any prospective investor or bank manager.

To the salesmen who have prejudged me. . . . i want you to know the costly mistakes you made

My new husband and I relocated to a new city, from the East to the West. We started a marketing company and soon after, opened a printing plant. The hard work and the long hours started to pay off and it was time to purchase a home. We found a brand new 2 bedroom, 2400 sq. ft. beauty. An in-floor spa in the master bathroom, an atrium with skylight in the living room, it was really a lovely place.

In my travels, looking at model homes, I remembered seeing one with all the interior windows shuttered and we both really loved the look. Noting the name of the design studio, my husband and I decided to stop in on the way home. Thinking back, I guess after a tough day at the office, in blue jeans and sweat shirts, we may have looked a bit seedy but still clean and fairly presentable.

As we walked through the door of the studio a little bell rang and a gentleman in the back peered out at us. We could hear him say, “Oh, they’re just walk-ins.” Someone finally came out front, I told him I saw the shutters in the model home and I would like someone to go out to our new home and measure the windows.

Please note that I did not ask for the price or an estimate. I knew what I wanted. This salesperson said with a definite snooty air about him, “They’re expensive, you know.” I looked at him and said, “That’s okay.” He agreed to send his ‘measuring guy’ over and would call me tomorrow. He called our office the following day and these were his words, “Oh Mrs. Robinson, that’s all I can say is WOW, what a house!” I would love to do your whole decorating job.” It seems the man he sent to measure called him to come and see the place. The moral of the story… I did buy the shutters, because they were what I wanted but because of his initial attitude, someone else did the decorating and that sale would have made a lot more than his day.

I guess we are an impetuous couple. One evening with no previous thought, we decided to buy a new car. We left our office, not really a place for formal type business suits, but again presentable. We walked into a Cadillac dealer’s showroom and while peering out the window I saw the car of my dreams. It was a deep turquoise Eldorado with the covered wheel on the back. It was a bit late and there was only one salesman left. When he approached, my husband pointed outside and said, “We want to buy that car!”

Would you have taken that as a buying signal? I would have had my order form out and the keys in the customers hand before they knew what was happening. Here’s what this car salesman said, “We’re closing in about 20 minutes. Why don’t you come back tomorrow and I’ll give you a test drive?” The moral here…we crossed the street and bought a Lincoln Town Car.

To prejudge means to judge before hand, prematurely, and without all the facts. You can easily judge the character of others by how they treat those who they think can do nothing for them. I’m certain both these cases were a matter of prejudgment. We are both blue jeans kind of people, no airs about us, but don’t automatically dismiss us. It’s your pocket that will suffer.

Sales and neurological levels

Logical levels? What is that, you might ask? It is a model created by Robert Dilts, a pioneer in the field of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) after studying Gregory Bateson (1904-1980). Some believe that Bateson will before long (presumably in the 21st century) come to be recognised posthumously as "another Einstein of the 20th century" or even as beyond him. Bateson part Anthropologist, Social Scientist, Cyberneticist, was one of the most important social scientists of this century.

With this background in mind, Dilt’s created a learning model called “Neorological Levels.” My persupposition in this article is that, in the consultive sale you uncover the need. This is the first level in the nuerological levels. If the person you are selling to doesn’t live in the “envorionment” where your product of service is needed, you will not get any further.

Once you have uncovered the “need” for your service. Your customer will start to evaluate your behavior. This is where the skills of rapport come in. Your prospect will evaluate how consistant are you with your method of delivery. This can be real or synthetic as NLP teaches. You can match body posture, tone and tempo and even breathe like they do. But this will only work for small ticket items. When selling as a consultant, your true nature will be revealed. This is where the skilled salesperson is head and shoulders above the rookie. You can’t fake it while your making it. In fake, it is better to lay your cards on the table and let them know you are a rookie. You will then be using this logical level of behavior to your advantage. People by their very nature want to help. They will help you close the sale.

Once you have worked through the first two levels of environment and behavior, you will start interacting with their beliefs and values. If you are positioning your product in alignment with their values, it will fit into their beliefs. The natural salesperson does this by nature. The prospect is using words like challenge, freedom or flexibilty. Each of these words are hot buttons for that person and they also relate to their beliefs and values. You would do well to listen for these words I term Impact words in my book, “Awaken the Genius.”

As you iteract on these first three levels in sales, you are getting to know one another -- figuring out if you can do business together.

As you understand this level of learning, you will ask questions to educate and lead the prospect. Hence, to do this, you should be using the ABC of sales. Always be closing. This allows you to know if they have the capacity to make the decision to buy or not. Which is the next level. If they are not the decision maker you should work to empower them to get that person or group involved.

Once you have everyone who will be making the decision involved, it is time to ask the need-payoff questions. This is a series of questions that once the prospect answers them they are identifying with your product or service. Identifying is the next step in the logical level process. If they don’t have the need they will not identify. If they don’t think they or their company can demonstrate the behaviors necessary they will not identify. If your product or service is not in alignment with their values and beliefs they will not identify.

That means, it is your task in the sales setting to get these four specific areas to align and it will move your prospect beyond identifying and they will become part of your sales force -- helping to refer family members, business associates and staff members and it all started with the idea of educating, enlightening and motivating them to buy your product or service.

Get what you want in life with the seven powerful principles of persuasion

"Persuasion is grounded in basic scientific practical and learnable principles." -- Harvard Business Review

Have you ever find it difficult to say no to your friends, colleagues and family members? Ever felt trapped into buying something you didn’t really want or hoodwinked into saying yes? Time and again, people in every culture have developed certain predictable reactions to common situations in the persuasion process. It is because of these reactions to certain stimuli that make it possible to predict behavior and for that reason to persuade. Unfortunately it is also these same reactions that make it possible to manipulate or be manipulated by unscrupulous individuals.

Politicians, sales professionals, network marketers, insurance agents, colleagues, friends and family members all have an interest in you agreeing to their requests. So how do you know whether you have been manipulated unfairly or ethically persuaded?

Although this article looks at the Seven Principles of Persuasion that govern getting to “yes”. And you would have already know your success largely depends upon your ability to persuade and influence others to accept and adopt your point of view. I assert to you that in addition to this, there is a direct correlation between your ability to persuade others and the level of income you receive.

Therefore, knowledge of these Seven Principles of Persuasion would certainly empower you.

Principle #1: PRINCIPLE OF RECIPROCATION

This principle states that when we give something of apparent value, people will respond with a desire to offer something in return.

According to Bob Stone, professor of Direct Marketing at the Northwestern University and founder of his own direct marketing advertising agency, Stone and Adler, Inc.: “It’s not at all unusual for the right gift to increase the response by 25 percent or more.”

It is no wonder that super salesmen like Zig Ziglar have made this the foundation of how they operate. Zig has always said this: “You can have whatever you want as long as you help enough people to first get what they want.” We can see this powerful principle in practice all around us. Supermarkets offer free samples, car dealers offer test drives, health clubs free workouts, builders offer free surveys and so forth so that potential customers try out the product or service and at the same time become indebted at some psychological level.

It is also common practice, at Tupperware home parties, for the presenter to give away an inexpensive Tupperware item or product sample. And reciprocation is further reinforced by the generous offer of free refreshments and tidbits – This technique further obligates the partygoers to the host and the company.

You can build a sense of indebtedness in someone by delivering a number of uninvited "first favors" over time. They don't have to be tangible gifts. In today's world, useful information is one of the most valuable favors you can deliver.

Another form of reciprocity at work is “risk-reversal”. In marketing, this is offering a guarantee on the products so that you can overcome a prospect’s innate aversion to “taking a risk” and buying the product. With a guarantee, the risk is no longer on the buyer. By reversing the risk, much more sales are made and the customer and vendor are both satisfied. How can you apply “risk-reversal” in your life to get whatever you want? Let me demonstrate by the example of Napoleon Hill, best selling author of “Think and Grow Rich”.

Napoleon Hill chose his future employer right out of college even though his future employer didn’t know about it. Here’s how he got the job. He went to the employer and essentially said, “Let me work for you for two weeks and I’ll pay you for the opportunity. Let what I pay you be drawn against my future earnings. At the end of two weeks, if you don’t like me, I’ll leave. If you like me, you hire me at the rate I’m paying you for the opportunity to show myself.”

Of course the employer immediately jumped at this idea. A fortnight later, Napoleon Hill had the job he had set out to get. Why did this work? It worked because he helped overcame the employer’s reluctance to hire an unproven fresh graduate. View it from the employer’s perspective, he either got an excellent employee after two weeks or he got someone to pay him two weeks of wages and two weeks of free labor. For Hill’s employer, it was totally “Risk-Free”.

Can you think of three ways you can apply “risk-reversal” in your life to get more of what you want right now?

Principle #2: PRINCIPLE OF CONTRAST

This principle states that when two different items or circumstances are placed close together, their differences will be made more apparent.

"We can do this the hard way... or we can do this the easy way." -- Gangster Movie Script

I'm not advocating any acts of criminal intimidation here, but there is something to learn from the above quote. The way the Principle of Contrast goes like this – You offer your prospect two choices. One choice will be so ‘bad’ that no one in his or her right mind would take it. The second choice, the one you want them to take, will seem in contrast to be the most attractive.

For example when two homes are in similar neighborhoods, real estate agents will usually say, "Before we look at the $500,000 home we should really take a look at the $350,000 home." The more expensive home will always have more features and it is the last home the prospective home buyer will see. Psychologically as the last home is a much more decorated than the first, the less expensive home will appear a lot less attractive to the prospective home buyer.

Here’s another example: Retail store salespersons will always sell you the suit first, then offer you "add on" items like ties, belts, cardigans, etc. The additional $45 to $150 for the extras is considerably less compared to the $800 suit. These retail store salespersons would never sell you the $45 item first, then try to persuade you to "add on" the suit! By the way, do you remember the last time when you availed yourself to a product and what items you were asked to buy in addition to your original purchase?

Remember when using the Principle of Contrast, we must always start with the choice that no one in his or her right mind would take first. It’s only then that the choice we want our prospects, loved ones or friends to take will be readily accepted.

Principle #3: PRINCIPLE OF CONSISTENCY

“It is easier to resist in the beginning than at the end.” -- Leonardo da Vinci

Research shows that we humans have a nearly obsessive desire to be and appear consistent. Once we’ve made a decision or taken a stand, we feel pressure to act in ways consistent with that commitment. Usually once a decision is made, we usually don’t have to think about it any more.

If you are in insurance or network marketing sales, have you ever had prospects cancel appointments with you at the last minute? In a similar situation back in 1998, a certain Chicago restaurant owner was all ruffled up with last minute cancelled reservations. He solved his problem by asking his receptionists to modify just two words of what they said to patrons requesting a reservation. These two words reduced the no-show rate from 30% to 10%. The magic within these words was that they tapped the human desire to be consistent. The receptionist modified her usual request from “Please call if you have to change your plans” to “Will you please call if you have to change your plans?” At this point, she would deliberately pause and just wait for a response. The pause was critical because it encouraged the customer to make a public commitment. This principle also worked well for my clients in the insurance industry.

Have you ever wondered why is it difficult for a person to leave a cult? That’s because cult members are unconsciously trying to justify their earlier assurance to their families and friends that no one is ordering them around and that they had chosen to do what they did." With such public commitment or declaration, getting out can make these cult members feel really guilty.

In a coaching scenario, if a coach can create a situation in which his client or group makes an active verbal or written commitment, particularly if this is done in public, the chances of compliance shoot up dramatically. In reality, the magic of written goals derives its power from the client’s desire to be consistent. A second way to use the Principle of Consistency to persuade is for the coach to frame his request as related to a commitment his client has made earlier on. For instance, “I know how committed you are to your family. The diligent application of the time management tools we are talking about will free you up for more quality family time, don’t you agree?”

Principle #4: PRINCIPLE OF LIKING

This principle states that people prefer to say yes to individuals they know and like.

The Master Persuader will always emphasize certain factors and/or attributes to increase their overall attractiveness and subsequent effectiveness. He will always use the following factors:

A) Physical Attractiveness

Majority of the population form conclusions about people within the first four minutes they meet. Research has shown that 93% of the time we are judged based on first impression and the remaining 7% is based on our real abilities.

This means that sales professionals such as insurance, real estate agents with good dress sense are perceived as physically attractive and therefore more likely to influence more prospects to use their services.

Physical attractiveness also gives the impression of intelligence and kindness. As a result, attractive sales professionals and motivational speakers are more persuasive both in terms of changing others' attitudes towards the business and getting what they request.

B) Similarity

We like people who are like ourselves and are therefore more willing to say yes to their requests, often without much critical consideration.

C) Praise

Sincere and lavish compliments almost certainly enhances liking. Remember Dale Carnegie? He advised all who wants to win friends and influence people to be hearty in their approbation and lavish in their praise.

Research conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that inaccurate praise also induces the same intensity of liking for the flatterer. In fact, men will sacrifice their lives for praise, honor and recognition. Intrinsically, we crave and yearn for a boost to our esteem. We all wear an imaginary badge that says, “Please make me feel important.” And ironically most people would never think of physically harming someone or depriving them of food and water, yet often without reservation we will harm someone emotionally or deprive them of love and appreciation! To be a Master Persuader, we should make it a habit to give genuine sincere praise to someone every day. Don’t wait for a reason or for something big to happen. Be generous with your praise. Praise simply makes others more open to persuasion.

D) Increased Familiarity & Frequency

Repeat contact between a prospect and direct sales professionals (like insurance agents and network marketers) always facilitates liking and influence the prospect’s decision to join the business. This principle explains the necessity to follow-up with your prospects. According to the ‘McGraw Hill Sales Statistical Studies’, 96% of all sales happen after 5.6 exposures to information (and, most importantly, the persuasive presenter).

Principle #5: PRINCIPLE OF AUTHORITY & POWER

This principle states that most people have a very strong tendency to obey authority figures and they also prefer products, services and opportunities that are endorsed by people whom they believe to be credible.

From a very young age, we are trained to obey. First our parents (and by default all adults), then teachers, policemen, managers and so on. Eventually it defaults to anyone who seems to be our superior. We thus divide the world into those who are superior to us (and who are thus to be obeyed) and those who are inferior (and who should obey us). We also must be cautious not to equate superiority with authority.

Stanley Milgram was a famous Yale psychologist who is most remembered for his work with obedience to authority. Deeply disturbed by what had happened in Germany during World War II, Milgram carried out an experiment to find out whether it was indeed true, as many Nazi collaborators claimed, that ordinary people could be made to commit unspeakably cruel acts under the influence of authority figures.

Posing as an education researcher, Milgram hired an actor to pose as a "student" in the experiment and told his subjects he was studying "learning." The actor was hooked up to wires that, Milgram explained to his subjects, would deliver a shock whenever they pulled a lever. In his role as experimenter and authority figure clad in a white lab coat, Milgram instructed his subjects to deliver greater and greater shocks to the actor whenever he got answers wrong on a series of learning tests. The actor would howl theatrically in pain and often feign a heart attack before passing out.

How many subjects do you think continued to administer shocks to the actor to the point that they reached the dangerously fatal level? Sixty-eight percent of them obeyed orders to punish the actor! By donning on a white lab coat, Milgram had undoubtedly created an atmosphere of authority.

"The disappearance of a sense of responsibility is the most far-reaching consequence of submission to authority." -- Stanley Milgram, Yale University Psychologist

During one of my training trips to China, I actually came across an advertisement billboard that promotes a certain hospital in a large city. The billboard actually features their team of top medical specialists all donned in surgeon’s cap and white lab coats.

Robert Kiyosaki, the best selling author of ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ and popular guru of wealth creation, has helped many decide to join Network Marketing when he strongly endorses this industry in his landmark book ‘The Business School for People Who Like Helping People.’ This principle also explains why so many network marketers are approaching medical professions in this business. Whenever doctors join network marketing opportunities and endorse any products, it is usually perceived as credible.

Anyone offering his or her experience, expertise or credentials are harnessing the power of authority. Of course there is nothing wrong with these claims providing they are real because we all want the opinions and ideas of true experts.

You can put this principle to use by citing authoritative sources to support your ideas. Look and act like an authority yourself. Be sure others know that your research, education and experience support your ideas. Complement the Principle of Authority & Power with the Principle of Liking, dress like the people who are already in the positions of authority that you seek.

Principle #6: PRINCIPLE OF CONFORMITY

This principle states that people prefer beliefs, products, services and opportunities that are popular or part of a trend.

This principle is also known as the “Bandwagon Effect” and is closely associated with the Principle of Authority and Power. One way we decide what is correct is to find out what others think is right. Or when everyone else is behaving in a certain manner, most would assume that is the right thing to do. For example, one of the important, and largely unconscious, ways we decide what is acceptable behavior on our current job is by watching the people around us, especially the higher-ups or old timers.

When attempting to persuade, you may wish to include accounts of others’ positive reactions to the suggested action. This is especially effective if the people cited are those that the person perceives as similar to self in some ways. In team building, you can use the power of positive people on your team to help you influence others to choose helpful and constructive behavior.

At the corporate level, more and more companies are donating a percentage of their profits to charitable organizations. They are doing this because it has been proven in a study that 70 percent of consumers believe that cause-related marketing helps to solve social problems. And when the product’s price and quality are the same, these consumers are more likely to switch to a brand that’s associated with a good cause. Even more surprisingly, more than half of these consumers are willing to pay more for a product when it is associated with a cause they care about.

The Principle of Conformity kicks in even more strongly when the situation is uncertain or people aren't sure what to do. When you can show them what others like themselves believe or are doing, people are more likely to take the same action. The 1997 mass suicide among the Heaven’s Gate cult followers in Southern California is an example of the negative power of this principle.

Principle #7: PRINCIPLE OF SCARCITY

“The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.” -- G. K. Chesterton

This principle essentially says that people desire more of those things that seem to be scarce. Also when a person believes that something he might want is scarce, that something becomes even more valuable.

Nearly everyone is vulnerable to some form of the Principle of Scarcity. Opportunities seem more valuable when they are less available. Hard-to-get things are perceived as better than easy-to-get things. Why do you think the “limited time offer” is so common in advertising? Because it works! The retailer indicates that a decision must be made now or within a short period of time, or the price will go up or the opportunity will no longer be available. The desire to acquire the scarce item is increased further when we believe that someone else might get it and hence gain a higher social position that we might have possessed.

The Principle of Scarcity also works in calculating the value of an item. If it is rare or becoming rare, it is more valuable. According to the Principle of Scarcity, the more time a lawyer has available in his schedule, the less prospects and clients will value his services. But as the lawyer grow busier and has less time available, prospects and clients see his services as increasingly more valuable.

Likewise many novice insurance agents seemed to be begging for an appointment, “Pete, I hope you don’t mine me asking, are you free on Tuesday at 7pm? I’ve got this interesting investment to show you.” And the answer most often given is “no.” The experienced insurance agent (EIA) however will leverage on the Principle of Scarcity by implying he has a tight schedule, with only certain days and time slot available.

EIA: I can’t meet you on Wednesday, Thursday is also packed. How about Friday at 4pm? I have a 20 minutes slot free then.

Prospect: Wow! Business must be good for you! Okay, let’s meet on Friday at 4pm.

By the way, the Principle of Scarcity also has applications in our personal lives. Do you recall the proverb, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”? Well, on one occasion, I actually sat down with a sobbing course participant who declares his undying devotion and willingness to do “anything” for his wife who has just walked out on him because of years of neglect and being taken for granted.

IS THIS MANIPULATION?

Some of you may be wondering out loud, “Aren’t the above tactics manipulative?” Perhaps, if that’s the way you choose to use them. That’s a matter of personal integrity and ethics. My assumption is that you will exercise integrity when applying these Principles of Persuasion. It is my sincere belief that using these principles to persuade people to think or act in ways that are in their own best interests as well as yours will certainly help everyone become even more successful. The Seven Principles of Persuasion are incredibly powerful and can be combined in numerous ways to your advantage.

Characteristics of a true sales leader

In the average sales organization, successful sales reps get promoted to managers. These "new" sales managers are suddenly tasked with leadership and training. In these situations, there is one common liability. The salesperson's biggest strength now becomes the sales manager's biggest weakness in leading a team. Typically, top sales reps don't diagnose and document their sales routines and processes; rather, they “just do it”, as the sneaker commercial so aptly says. So, when they are asked to advance the same superior results in a large group, they can not do it. Why? Because these individuals are exceptional "drivers." Most of their past success was due to their personalities and individual abilities, which are not transferable to the masses.

Sadly, most superior sales performers, when promoted to leadership positions, are unable to truly lead. They have trouble analyzing and teaching their personal sales processes in such a way that their sales teams can properly digest. Solo reps who move into the management sphere tend to manage people versus coaching critical competencies and behaviors, which hurts the bottom line. To be effective, sales leaders must understand and know how to integrate knowledge of sales systems and processes to their staff. They need the majority of their salespeople to accept it, own it and benefit from it.

Going one step further, it is crucial for sales leaders to have experience in identifying and measuring critical core competencies and essential performance metrics. Sales leaders should understand that there are a finite number of scenarios in any selling process. If you identify, train to and measure each one of them, you are on your way to excellence. True sales leaders shine a light on the most critical competencies, enabling the highest percentage of their sales force to routinely win. Sales leaders train to each one of these competencies, but they do so by priority. They understand that training to multiple missions at once will achieve minimal results.

The importance of sales training comes into play for sales leaders, who must consider results-oriented training as a process versus an isolated event. They don't just talk about it at sales meetings, or attend seminars that superficially touch on it; instead, they extract the most important critical competency, such as creating new opportunities, and peel back every element that comprises it. They break apart the elements into single scenarios and attach powerful routines to each scenario. Sales leaders, like great business leaders, spend time developing systematic approaches to essential competencies. And they do it so that their people can outperform the standard.

Sales training campaigns should be setup to improve the ratios of success in each core competency. Operational effectiveness equals better competency routines. Better than whose, you ask? Your competitors', of course. With the right systems in place, good sales leaders understand their essential competency ratios and performance numbers, and are able to relate them to revenue objectives. It is important to set realistic goals that are in line with performance ratios, then set "benchmarks" for each competency and train specifically to those benchmarks.

Jim Tressel, head football coach for the Ohio State Buckeyes, gave a preseason interview the year after winning the 2002 National Football Championship. He said, "We decided to identify a number of important performance benchmarks, and effect training to meet them each week. For instance, we found that over the last 15 years, when we gained at least 200 rushing yards in a game, we won the game 98% of the time. So we are training to routines that will help us get better at the competency of running the football on the ground in order to reach that particular benchmark more often."

Sales leaders believe that sales reps will be accountable to results, provided that leadership:

(1) Identifies the important competencies required for success; (2) Supplies targeted training with appropriate structures for learning and application; and,

(3) Measures the degree of improvement.

Sales leaders are dedicated to transforming "C" players into "B" players, and "B" players into "A" players. They hold themselves accountable to develop or invest in relevant training systems, learning structures and support tools. They want most of their people to routinely meet or exceed company revenue goals, as well as personal career objectives. They know that they must provide the setting and the tools that foster this kind of achievement.

While their seat-of-the-pants skill sets are excellent, the natural sales rep, when thrust into the role of sales manager, must learn how to convert these skills into transferable processes and routines that focus on essential competencies. Thereafter, it comes down to how effectively they can train, motivate and support their staff towards maximizing core competencies, which ultimately increases the odds of exceeding revenue targets.

Search out sales

Regardless of what you are looking to purchase there is one sure fire way to save money. The best way to do this is by waiting for a sale to come around on the product. If you think about it, during the course of a year almost everything that you can buy will be on sale at least one time. This means that if you can wait to buy it, you should wait to buy it. If you can wait on larger purchases you will most definitely save a lot of money over the course of a year.

One of the best products that you can save money on is clothes. If you are in need of winter clothes try to buy them during the spring when they go on sale. And along the same lines, if you are anticipating a need for summer clothes you will want to make your purchases during the winter months. By purchasing clothes during off peak months you will be able to save yourself a lot of money.

Another big purchase that families make are automobiles. Even though you may want your new car now, if you can wait a bit you may be able to save yourself thousands of dollars. At different times every year car manufacturers put out huge rebates on their cars, or are looking to move them quickly for one reason or the next. If you can wait for this time of the year to come around, you will save yourself a good bit of money.

Also, to take advantage of sales, you will need to keep an open mind. If you are only interested in one particular brand you may end up waiting around a long time for a sale. But if you keep your options open to other brands and styles you will almost always be able to find a sale when you are looking for it. This is one of the most difficult things that people have to learn to do that are trying to save money.

By sniffing out sales you will be able to save yourself a lot of money over the course of a year. It may not seem worth it at the moment, but if you exercise some patience you will be able to get exactly what you want for a much better price. Keep an open mind, and start saving money today!

How to improve book sales

Have you written a book? Has your book been published? How many books have you sold? The average number of total books sold for a typical book is only 1,000 copies. This can lead to a loss in profits and drop in your business representation. How can you avoid a low number of sales? One key step is to create a quality mailing list.

A quality mailing list is one that has customers with whom you have established a relationship. Your mailing list can be increased further if you work with another author or several authors. Working with other authors to create a book allows you to swap lists and promote the book together. Thus you have access to thousands of new customers.

Another major step is to figure out how you can control the distribution of your book. You can work with your publisher to find out who they are sending your book to and their contact list. Be aware, though, that publishers often shy away from giving away free books. Try to create a deal with your publisher so you can have access to free books. These free books will be given to select contacts for marketing purposes.

Another key task is to present additional offers with your book. For example, you can include free reports for book buyers if they go to your website. These free offers appeal to many customers. You can even place all these offers on the front cover of your book.

Plan ahead because you will most likely lose money on your book. Books are a huge investment. Therefore, the profit from a book should not be the sole source of your income. In the future, you may live of off royalties, but that would be an idea situation.

Lastly, you need to have your backend components in place. This means that you have to have an actual business that backs up your book. A book alone will not keep you afloat. Do not jump into a new business area with just a book. You need to be an expert, or have access to an expert, to create credibility for your book.

Complete these key steps and your book will be well on its way to a #1 best seller.

How to be a simply irresistible salesperson

Ever notice how some people have a certain energy about them that naturally attracts success. What is their magic secret? Who you are personally shows up in your sales approach. It's a big mistake to think that you can fool people when you are not coming for the right place. It's the subtle subconscious clues that you send your prospect that can make or break your sale.

Let's face it - People buy from people they trust. People trust people who are like them. The more you behave like your prospect the more they will trust you. This is the core of relationships.

Much research has been done on the determining factors of creating rapport with prospects. It's not what you say that counts, it's how you say it. These are the three components in communication for developing rapport. Words, Voice qualities and Physiology. These three elements equal 100%. What's your best guess on the breakdown?

Your words are only 7% of your communication. Your voice qualities are 38% and your physiology is 55%. That means that what you say is the least significant. How you say it and how your carry your body are the most important factors in your ability to create rapport with your prospect.

It's important to speak your prospects language. You already know how to be who you are - it takes an elegant persuader to care enough about the other person to enter their world. Everyone wears different glasses to perceive the world. Your job is to find out what glasses they are wearing and speak to your prospect about your services with their glasses on. When someone feels like you understand them, their trust level goes up significantly and are more likely to buy.

There are three basic types of people Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic. Identify which one your prospect is and enter their world. Keep in mind in different circumstances people are all three. People tend to favor one more than the others. You use both of your hands, but tend to favor one more than the other.

Selling Strategies for the Visual Person

Visual people tend to look upwards, speak rapidly and have high levels of energy. They love to look good and will usually dress to perfection. Visual people love visual information. They speak in visual terms and they want you to do likewise. They love to see the goods, not talk about them. The look of the goods is vitally important in assisting them to make a positive buying decision.

Keep this overview in mind as we present you with a picture on how to highlight your presentations to Visuals in a way that is both illuminating and compelling at the same time. Can you see what we are looking for?

1. For a visual prospect, a picture is truly worth a thousand words. Use charts, graphs, photos, and slides. Reinforce your presentation by using the blackboard. Bring videos if you have them.

2. Use visual words to pace their information gathering process. Develop beautiful pictures through your language. Use phrases in summation and closing like, "Is that clear to you?," "Imagine how this will...." or "How does this look to you?"

3. Glance upward occasionally. If you want your customer to imagine something or think visually, you can guide them to access visually. Looking upward will enhance their ability to form lasting mental pictures.

4. Write things down for your visual client throughout the sales call. Write important points down as you summarize. Encourage them to take notes. When you close the sale with a visual client write everything down so they can see the agreement.

5. Dressing professionally is important with any client. It is especially important with the visual client who will look for the "image" you have created with your clothes and your briefcase.

6. Visual clients "notice" everything. Pay attention to detail and the way things look. The package is as important as the product

to Visuals.

7. And last, but most importantly, paint vivid and compelling pictures. The more vivid the picture, the more powerful the influence.

Selling Strategies for the Auditory Person

Auditory people tend to be more centered. Their eyes tend to move with their ears. Auditory people love auditory information. They speak in auditory terms and they want you to do likewise. They love to hear about your product, not necessarily see it. What others have said about your product is very valuable information.

Record this information in your mind so you tune in to your auditory prospect. Give them an earful of persuasion and listen to them to ask you for more. Can you hear what we are saying? Are we beginning to sing the same tune?

1. Use auditory words and phrases like, "Does that sound good to you?", "Are we in harmony on this?", "Shall I speak more directly about the facts and statistics?" or "This plate stamping machine is twice as quiet as the one you now have."

2. Quote testimonials and endorsements with your auditory clients. Auditory people think in "words" rather than feelings or pictures. They love to hear what other people have to say about your products or services.

3. Use your voice to hold the Auditory's attention. Change tone, volume, pitch and speech rate to verbally emphasize and enhance your sales points. Auditory prospects will pay as much attention, if not more, to how you speak as to what you say.

4. Tell the auditory customer lots of stories. Story telling in sales is powerful with everyone, and it is especially important with auditory prospects.

5. If you have to send them some information they often will not enjoy reading a brochure, so send a cassette tape outlining benefits, features etc. Use all the verbal information you can to move the sale forward. Get audio tapes into the hands and ears of your auditory leads right away. If your company does TV or radio advertising, ask your auditory client if they have heard your latest ads.

6. Have frequent telephone conversations with your auditory prospects. Even a brief call will mean a great deal to them.

7. Summarize agreements verbally after closing, using such a phrase as : "We are speaking about (summarize details.)" Remember, the Auditory hears everything. Give them exciting and motivating words that will play in their internally driven tape player long after the sales call is through.

8. It is important to know that auditory people find it hard to look at you and listen to what you are saying, so give them subconscious approval for looking away, by not demanding eye contact. They need to concentrate on what they hear and that's why they look away from you. Also, don't speak to rapidly or you will lose them.

Selling Strategies for the Kinesthetic Person

Kinesthetic people are more low keyed, typically the like to look down to connect with their feelings. Kinesthetic people love kinesthetic information. They react to kinesthetic terms and they want you to do likewise. They love to touch the goods, so let them get their hands all over the product. They must absolutely feel good about their decision, so help them get in touch with their feelings.

Grasp the important points in this section as we drive home the hard hitting strategies that work long and hard in putting deals together with the Kinesthetic. When these strategies sink in and you feel good about using them to nail down transactions with the Kinesthetic, you will have reached another plateau.

1. Use Kinesthetic words and phrases like, "Are you comfortable with this?", "How do you feel about that?" or "Do you need a more concrete example?" Talk about common interests, sports, family and let them know you care about their feelings. They want to know that you care about them and you are their friend.

2. Meet face to face with Kinesthetic clients. Don't rely too much on phone calls or written communication. They crave the head to head, belly to belly feeling that only one on one communication can give. Match them: if they have their jacket off, their tie loosened, do the same. They typically like to dress comfortably.

3. Get the kinesthetic physically involved with your presentation. Have them mark up your brochure. Have them walk through your proposal. If you are demonstrating a product they can use, encourage them to test the product out to find how it feels. Encourage them to hold the product, use the computer, feel the car finish, touch the rock fireplace, walk around the yard, stroke the leather seats get comfortable on the couch, etc. Make sure they are always physically comfortable. If they are not, they won't stay "with" your presentation.

4. Tell moving, emotionally based stories about your product and, most importantly, about the impact of your product or service on people just like them. Strongly communicate your emotional commitment to your product, to what you are selling. Then link commitment to your commitment to serving them.

5. Glance downwards occasionally. Kinesthetic people will intuitively pick it up and know that you are emotionally involved in your product. You can also guide them to access their feelings by glancing down and getting them to follow your lead. Typically, they are not comfortable with constant eye contact.

6. Kinesthetic people often like to be touched. They shake hands forever, often with the old "two-handed, let's hold this contact for a long, long time" approach. Since this is so appealing to them, an occasional pat on the back will fire off strong positive feelings. When you close the sale or come to some major commitment, shake hands on it. That gesture means a lot to a Kinesthetic person.

Your prospect wants to know that you care about them. It is very easy for a salesperson to sell their product or service based on their values. Your values are what sold you to sell your product. Your prospects values for buying may not be the same as your values. It is critical that you take the time to find out your prospects values, and what needs to happen in order for them to experience that value around your product.

Lastly, you want to attract sales, instead of chasing, selling, promoting, seducing or going after it. Attraction is when people come to you. Selling, promoting, seducing and chasing is when you go after them. When you set up your life for sales to come to you invite effortless success into your life.

Buy watches online

For the ultimate in variety, availability and selection, there is no better way to purchase wristwatches than to buy watches online.

Online jewelry sales in the U. S. market hit $2.45 billion in 2006, an increase of 20 percent from 2005, according to data from IDEX Online Research. Online sales comprised 3.9 percent of all jewelry sales of $63.0 billion in 2006. For those who fear that it is unsafe or unwise to purchase watches online, this should provide comfort and reassurance. With outstanding return policies and quality guarantees, consumers can rest assured that even if their purchase is not exactly what they hoped, they can return or exchange the watch for something more to their liking. Online security is so advanced that there is little risk of information getting into the wrong hands. Shoppers are encouraged, however, to read both the return policy and guarantees are before submitting their order.

One website that has built an excellent reputation for quality and customer service is KenmarWatches. com. Kenmar Watches has been selling wristwatches on the internet since 1997, and carries well over 125 brands. They offer 100% customer satisfaction and you can even receive your new watch in 24 hours or less.

Styles Of Wrist Watches

While there is a wide variety of watches on offer today, the general categories of watch are listed below. Keep in mind that many of today's watches blur the line between one type and another, so when buying a watch online, the information provided here should be used only as a general reference.

Dress Watches: Keep it simple. One rule of thumb is to consider what would look best if you were standing on the red carpet at an awards ceremony. Dress watches are often thin, plain, and crafted from a precious metal, such as gold or platinum.

Designer Watches: Often, by the time a person has made a name for themselves in the watch world, they previously made a name for themselves in some other medium. This is not always the case, however, and there are scores of designers who specialize solely in wrist watches (such as Longines, Pulsar, Seiko, and Tissot), but by-and-large designer Wrist Watches are created by other popular fashion, furniture or accessories designers, including Anne Klein, Betsey Johnson, Dolce & Gabbana, DKNY, Ed Hardy, Armani, Fendi, Gucci, and Locman.

Sports Watches: As the name implies, sports wrist watches are often rugged and frequently display bells and whistles such as a stopwatch ("chronograph") or waterproofing. Many sports watches are water-resistant to some degree, and nearly always have large, prominent hands. Two important sub-categories are Diver and Pilot watches.

Which Watch Wrist Watch?

Probably the most important thing to consider when buying a watch is personal style. Beyond that, one might consider whether or not the prospective owner has other watches. If this is to be the bearer's only watch, it is best to go with a simple sports model, one that will not be out of place at the gym, but will look equally appropriate at a job interview. When shopping for a watch online, look into the website's return policy, in case you and the watch recipient have different tastes and styles!

The next consideration is size. Watches have gotten bigger and bigger in recent years. When you Buy Watches online, be sure to read the description for exact measurements. If you already own a watch, compare the size of that timepiece to the ones you are looking at on the internet. However, a good return policy at an online vendor (such as KenmarWatches. com) can ensure that even if the size is too large or too small, the watch can be returned for a more comfortable size.

If you are purchasing a watch online to give as a gift, many websites offer wrapping and gift options, including allowing the gift recipient to exchange for a watch of their specific choosing. This is one more reason why more and more people buy watches online.

To the salesmen who have prejudged me... i want you to know the costly mistakes you made

Salespeople who prejudge prospects based on appearances, the car in the driveway or the home they live in are missing out on some of the best clients. Having experienced this personally, I hope the two salesmen who decided I couldn’t possibly be a buyer are reading this. They never knew how much they lost.

My new husband and I relocated to a new city, from the East to the West. We started a marketing company and soon after, opened a printing plant. The hard work and the long hours started to pay off and it was time to purchase a home. We found a brand new 2 bedroom, 2400 sq. ft. beauty. An in-floor spa in the master bathroom, an atrium with skylight in the living room, it was really a lovely place.

In my travels, looking at model homes, I remembered seeing one with all the interior windows shuttered and we both really loved the look. Noting the name of the design studio, my husband and I decided to stop in on the way home. Thinking back, I guess after a tough day at the office, in blue jeans and sweat shirts, we may have looked a bit seedy but still clean and fairly presentable.

As we walked through the door of the studio a little bell rang and a gentleman in the back peered out at us. We could hear him say, “Oh, they’re just walk-ins.” Someone finally came out front, I told him I saw the shutters in the model home and I would like someone to go out to our new home and measure the windows.

Please note that I did not ask for the price or an estimate. I knew what I wanted. This salesperson said with a definite snooty air about him, “They’re expensive, you know.” I looked at him and said, “That’s okay.” He agreed to send his ‘measuring guy’ over and would call me tomorrow. He called our office the following day and these were his words, “Oh Mrs. Robinson, that’s all I can say is WOW, what a house!” I would love to do your whole decorating job.” It seems the man he sent to measure called him to come and see the place. The moral of the story… I did buy the shutters, because they were what I wanted but because of his initial attitude, someone else did the decorating and that sale would have made a lot more than his day.

I guess we are an impetuous couple. One evening with no previous thought, we decided to buy a new car. We left our office, not really a place for formal type business suits, but again presentable. We walked into a Cadillac dealer’s showroom and while peering out the window I saw the car of my dreams. It was a deep turquoise Eldorado with the covered wheel on the back. It was a bit late and there was only one salesman left. When he approached, my husband pointed outside and said, “We want to buy that car!”

Would you have taken that as a buying signal? I would have had my order form out and the keys in the customers hand before they knew what was happening. Here’s what this car salesman said, “We’re closing in about 20 minutes. Why don’t you come back tomorrow and I’ll give you a test drive?” The moral here…we crossed the street and bought a Lincoln Town Car.

To prejudge means to judge before hand, prematurely, and without all the facts. You can easily judge the character of others by how they treat those who they think can do nothing for them. I’m certain both these cases were a matter of prejudgment. We are both blue jeans kind of people, no airs about us, but don’t automatically dismiss us. It’s your pocket that will suffer.

Greater conversion -- three things everyone should do to get more sales

: Many more people want to buy your product or service, but they don’t end up doing it! That’s because many companies are stuck in the print marketing mindset, and don’t realize that there are a couple simple things that they can do online to increase their conversion rates. In this article, I’ll outline three easy to implement changes that will take those extra sales right to the bank! 1) Product / Service Image Size Chances are you’ve got images that represent or depict your product or service -- that’s a common sense way to add familiarity to what you have or do! An eye tracking study has shown that small images are oftentimes overlooked and that medium sized images (210x230 pixels) provide near a 150% increase in the amount of time spent looking at the image. The same study has shown that people tend to focus their attention on photographs that contain a human face. Medium sized pictures with faces in them retain interest longer! 2) Linking Images The same study showed that people click on pictures, even when there is no indication that the picture is a link. For those images of products, link the image to the product page where they can buy your product! For those images depicting services, link the image to the related service information page or a contact page! Always link your images to the next step of your conversion process! 3) Call to Action Visitors that are interested in your product or service may not know what to do to get it. Or they may be interested enough to purchase or subscribe, but only if it’s easy -- otherwise they’re not interested. This often overlooked scenario is easily overcome by a call to action link on every page. The call to action could be as simple as "Find out more about XYZ Widget Model 3 here!" It could be a Buy Now button underneath an image. The most important part of content written for sales is to make that call to action. You’ll quickly see that doing so will have you smiling all the way to the bank! Always have your visitors do something! After you’ve implemented these three simple changes into your website, sit back and watch your stats increase. You’ll find that getting more conversions is a very pleasing scenario! As one last word of advice, other eye tracking studies (and possibly the same one I’ve referenced throughout this article) have confirmed that many people let their eyes wander below a picture when there’s text below it. Use that to your advantage by placing "Buy Now" buttons underneath your images. Good luck! Source: http://www. poynterextra. org/eyetrack2004/photos. htm

Computer consulting services selling the network as security and data protection

Small business prospects and clients may view your computer consulting services as part of their insurance policy. You write up a service agreement that lists what’s covered and what’s not, as well as various parameters for coverage. Then each month, quarter, or year you collect some kind of retainer deposit, similar to an insurance premium.

Play Up the Value of your Computer Consulting Services

Part of the reason small business owners never miss a premium is because they want to make sure that your firm will be there in their time of need. So effectively, one of the reasons small businesses hire your firm is for "security". Rather than go kicking and screaming trying to vehemently deny this, play up the value of your computer consulting services and add security and data protection into your sales pitch - as major parts of your clients’ network investments.

Superior Security Foundation

Be sure to weave some of the following security and data protection points into your computer consulting services sales presentations. In sharp contrast to a client/server network like the one you’re proposing, a peer-to-peer "server" generally isn’t capable of maintaining its own user account security database.

As a result, a standalone peer-to-peer network is limited to "share-level" access control. This means everyone that connects to this peer-to-peer "server" share point has the same user name and password. There’s no way to differentiate between access levels of users and no way to terminate an individual’s password when he or she leaves the company.

Highlight Your Computer Consulting Services

A dedicated server OS, on the other hand, provides much better control over who has access to which shared resources. Each person can be assigned his or her own user name and password. Be sure to highlight how your proposed networking solution takes this into account.

Security with your proposed networking solution is also more flexible or granular. With most peer-to-peer "servers", security can only be controlled at the share level. When a share point is set up on a dedicated server with a true NOS security can be controlled all the way down to the file level.

The Bottom Line about Computer Consulting Services

Consider adapting this file cabinet analogy for your client presentations: Would you rather grant employees unrestricted access to an entire room full of file cabinets, or just a few select hanging folders in certain file drawers which are pertinent to their job?

Copyright MMI-MMVI, Computer Consultants Secrets. All Worldwide Rights Reserved. {Attention Publishers: Live hyperlink in author resource box required for copyright compliance}

10 top tips to become the worst sales person in your company

Have you ever had sales people who just never seem to make it no matter how hard they try? These sales people are one of the main factors for decline in business. Your sales people are the heart of your company and without good ones you will find it difficult to succeed in selling your products. To train good sales people you sometimes need to take a different approach.

Here are 10 tips that will save you from becoming the worst sales person in the company:

1. Not being punctual: being on time is very important to a customer. Take into consideration that many of your seasonal Christmas customers will be new. Your sales people will represent the first contact these customers have with your company. First impressions are lasting ones and your sales person need to make a good impression. Being on time will give a good impression to the client and increase their confidence in your company.

2. Poor presentation: some sales people just do not have all their ducks in a row and simply do not present the product well. A presentation is the first thing a customer will know about your product. If your product is not shown correctly to the customer he is very unlikely to buy.

3. Bad attitude: rudeness and unprofessional behavior is not acceptable under any circumstances. It is quite surprising that you will meet some sales people who are just plain rude and short with you the consumer. This gives the potential buyer the wrong impression about your company. They do not get a proper picture of the product, as they will probably not even wait for the presentation to end. You will lose many sales like this.

4. Not being articulate: a sales person must know how to express himself with confidence and fluency. He needs to be able to greet the prospect and introduce himself with assurance. This will start the whole presentation off to a good start. When he actually presents the product he must be sure to do this in a confident manner. He should also be prepared to answer all questions concisely and well. If your sales person cannot do this, your sale will not go through.

5. Not listening to a customer: a sales person should not only be able to present your product but listen to the prospective buyer. There is nothing more irritating to the consumer than having a sales person go on about a product and not letting you ask a few simple questions. After all whose money is on the line here? Worse still is when you do finally get to ask your question and instead of giving you a straight answer they go off on a tangent and have clearly not been listening to you. This will make a customer angry and they will probably never do business with you.

6. Basing a sale on cost: it is extremely risky for a sales person to depend on cost to close the sales. The prospective buyer will be quick to take advantage when he sees that the deal depends on the cost factor. He will drive the price as low as he can and you will take a heavy cut in profits for the sake of a sale. The buyer may hold off and then not even buy.

7. Not knowing when to close a sale: This is a common fault but a lethal one. Many sales have been lost because the sales person did not know when to close the sale. A good sales person is in tune with the prospective buyer and knows instinctively when to move to close the sale.

8. Hard sell: Hard sell is when sales people try to push the sale on the prospective customer. This will make the buyer aggressive and he will try to get rid of your sales person as soon as possible. It is a proven fact that nobody likes to be sold to.

9. Inflexibility: a sales person should be aware of different personalities and various situations. They must be flexible and able to adapt to different circumstances. The presentation may be the same but the buyers are rarely the same. Each buyer wants to feel special and expects the sales person to understand his circumstances. Inflexibility will cost you many sales.

10. Not following up a hot prospect: Follow up is very important. It is actually plain good manners. You have spoken to a person who has expressed interest in your company’s product but may not have been able to make a decision yet. It is courteous and good for business to follow up with hem. You may even make a sale this way. If your sales person does not know how to do this you will end up losing valuable customers and sales.

How to choose a portable heater

: Having a large heating system can be great for warming a house, but if you only want to heat certain areas or if you're away from your main home then they don't do much good. Instead, you're going to need to use a portable heater that can be brought to exactly where you need it and will produce just as much heat as you want. Many of these portable heaters can be used in shops, on job sites, in the garage, or even when out camping or otherwise away from home. The trick, of course, is finding the portable heater that will do exactly what you want it to do without having to mess with things that you don't. There are a number of things that you should consider in order to make sure that you get the best heater for your needs, including how easy it is to move and the type of fuel source that the heater uses. To help you choose the portable heater that meets your needs, here are a few suggestions of what to look for. Portability Obviously, one of the main advantages that a portable heater has is the fact that it's portable. A heater may not be as easily portable as you would like, though, and depending on your intended use this may be a problem. Stop to consider how often you'll likely be moving the heater and whether it can be easily moved to a new location if necessary. If you're planning on using the heater in the same location much of the time then portability isn't a major concern, but if one of the selling points of the heater is the fact that you can take it with you then you're going to want to make sure that it's easy to transport. Electrical or Fuel Needs Your heater will require fuel or power in order to produce heat, and this should be taken into consideration as well. If your portable heater is going to be used around the house or in places with ready access to electricity then a corded electrical heater might serve you well. At the same time, you'll definitely want to have a heater that uses propane or some other fuel if you're going to be using the heater in outdoors locations or in places and situations where you won't have access to electricity. Make sure that the heater you choose will work where and when you need it to, and that the cost to keep it running won't be more than you're willing to pay. Setup Concerns Another consideration with portable heaters should be how easy or difficult the heater is to set up when you want to use it. Many heaters simply need to be placed where you want them and turned on or started, but others may require some form of mounting or other types of stabilization. You're going to want to make sure that any setup required, either for the first usage or every use, is easy enough to do that you can accomplish it in a reasonable amount of time. This includes the physical setup of heater, the connecting of a fuel source, the time it takes to get the heater started, and how long it takes the heater to start producing heat. Heat Production Make sure that the portable heater that you choose can produce as much heat as you need it to. Most heaters will have a suggested area that it can heat printed on the box, as well as a BTU rating that tells how much heat it actually produces. This will let you know whether a particular heater will be able to do the job that you need, or whether you'll need more than one heater. You should also remember that if it produces too much heat for the area you're heating then you might have to adjust the temperature on the heater numerous times in order to keep the air temperature from being too warm or too cold. Storage Unless you live in the tundra, there's a good chance that you're going to need to put your portable heater into storage for at least a decent portion of the year. Take into consideration how easy or difficult it will be to store the heater you choose and whether you're likely to damage it if it's stored incorrectly. You should also determine exactly how much storage space the heater will take up and make sure that you have somewhere at home, in your garage, or at your workplace where the heater can be stored.

Take out the trash

Is your head trash piling up?

The term “head trash” came up during a conversation with a colleague and he used the phrase to describe the mental garbage that affects the performance of most sales people. Head trash is a collection of limiting thoughts or ideas that prevent you from taking specific action that will help you generate better results. Here are a few examples of how head trash can affect you.

In a sales training workshop I conducted for a specialty retailer, several people stated that they didn’t bother trying to close any business before 11:00 AM because they “knew” that everyone who came into their store before that time was just comparing their price with one of their competitors located close by. A sales person in a manufacturing company told me that her customers would not pay full price for her products because a major competitor sold similar products for less money. As a result, she consistently offered her customers a discount even before they asked. Another sales rep confided that he believed that the lowest possible price was the only thing his customers wanted from him and his company. He had held this belief for so long that nothing could dissuade him from this line of thinking.

Head trash can affect you in different ways. During a morning workout I caught myself thinking that I could not complete a particular exercise and this self-limiting thought prevented me from continuing. Yet, on most other days, I breezed through the workout with much less strain and effort. From a sales perspective, if you believe that a prospect will not be receptive to a new product, idea or solution, your ability to present that idea in a positive manner is greatly reduced. I have seen sales people talk to customers at great length and at the end of their conversation ask, “You don’t want to order this do you?” They have convinced themselves even before they ask for the sale that the customer will not be interested.

The cause of head trash varies. Extreme fatigue from lack of sleep or illness is one common cause because your physical well-being contributes to a less-than-optimistic outlook or mindset. Another cause is associating with negative-minded people. I once worked with an individual who always saw the glass as half-empty instead of half-full and after even a brief conversation with him, I always felt drained and pessimistic.

The most common cause of head trash is the experience you have had with a particular task or assignment. For example, you may be required to cold call to generate new leads and prospect. However, if your experience with cold calling has not been positive and you have failed to find qualified leads then picking up the telephone will be a grind and you certainly will not enjoy making the calls. And, when you do eventually pick up the telephone, your tone will not convey the desired message to your prospect.

To achieve the results you deserve and are capable of it is essential that you dump your head trash. While this is easier said than done, applying a few techniques will help.

First, focus on what you CAN do. With a positive outcome. Instead of thinking of the negative aspect of the task, concentrate on the best possible outcome. Let’s return to the cold calling example for a moment. If you put yourself into the mindset that making these calls will generate new business, or at the very least, that they will help you connect with new and interesting people, your willingness to invest in this task will dramatically improve.

Next, take action immediately. Most people procrastinate when head trash invades their thinking and this prevents them from moving forward. However, taking one step or small action supersedes the desire to remain complacent. I believe it was Confucius who said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I have learned from experience that making a difficult telephone call eliminates the need to procrastinate and stimulates my desire to take further action throughout the day. And, as I continue to take action, the trash that may have collected in my head is emptied.

It is also important to associate with action-oriented people who support your goals and objectives. I start the week by talking to a good friend of mine every Monday morning. During our conversations we discuss the challenges from the previous week and explore options and ideas. I also belong to a Mastermind group and when we meet each month, we help each other look for new opportunities within our respective businesses. All of these conversations help eliminate my head trash and motivate me to try new approaches and apply different ideas.

Take out your trash and watch the difference in your results.

© 2008 Kelley Robertson, All rights reserved.

Get your low rate merchant account

What can a low rate merchant account do for your business? Plenty! A merchant account provides you with the support your company needs to conduct e-commerce, which is the trend that more entrepreneurs are following these days. After getting approved for a merchant account, you can set up your business to accept credit card payments by a variety of means, including a desk-top terminal, a wireless unit, digital phone payments, and an Internet credit card option. Why wait and worry over a customer’s check that may bounce when you can get a real time processor for credit card payments that will help to keep your company solvent? Moreover, accepting credit card payments can actually help your company to grow, since more customers are choosing to pay with credit cards nowadays. In a few short months, you profits could multiply while your expenses decrease if you follow a prudent business plan for incorporating e-commerce options.

One of the most important keys to achieving long-term success with a low rate merchant account is to find an underwriter that charges reasonable fees. Some shysters will try and take advantage of a naпve new business owner who doesn’t know how to evaluate merchant account terms. A novice might be so excited at the prospect of getting a merchant account that he or she will accept any terms, failing to keep in mind that like a personal credit card account, a merchant account is based on terms that can vary. It is always best to shop around for affordable rates that provide quality terms and service. Carefully check all the listed fees, and ask the company representative about any others that are not listed, such as whether an annual membership fee will be required next year, or if there are service fees that will be implemented when the account is activated. If you don’t get clear answers, steer away from that company and look for another with clear-cut information.

A low-rate merchant account may charge monthly fees as low as a few cents for each credit card transaction or a low overall percentage rate for the account services. Find out what the actual fees will be and if these can change over the course of the coming year. Mention that your company operates on a tight budget and that you wish to remain a responsible business manager by seeing that all bills are promptly paid. Therefore, you cannot afford to be surprised by unexpected or new charges later. Most ethical banks or lenders will respect your honesty and provide up front information to help you make a decision about whether to apply for a merchant account with them. They might even point you to another lender with better terms that will fit with your company’s size, income, and goals.

When you decide to apply for a low rate merchant account, be sure that you can afford the monthly payments and that the services you receive in return will help your clients pay their bills on time. Otherwise, you are wasting your time and your profits on the questionable benefits of a low rate merchant account.

Why consider sales prospecting as a sales management training course

The last thing a sales manager wants to do is to go through a certification course in ‘Sales Prospecting’. They’ve been there and they’ve done that, or they’d not have been promoted to a sales manager level. After all, that’s up to the sales rep. That’s why they are hired on. In fact, I recently asked a Vice President of Sales in a competitive industry if he’d be open to looking at a ‘Sales Prospecting System’ for his sales managers his remark was “That’s what we hire sales reps for. If they don’t do it, we fire them and find some that will.”

Well, by definition, I guess that’s fair. Because if you take a look at any outside sales representative job description, you’ll see experience criteria listed such as: “Excellent cold calling and lead generation experience,” or “Must be able to identify Target Prospects and maintain an appropriate activity funnel,” or “Must meet or exceed activity standards.”

So why should a sales organization consider establishing a prospecting certification course for their Sales Managers? In order to consider this argument, let’s first take a look at standard criteria within a sales manager job description:

“Responsible for managing Sales activity for new and existing Account Executives”

Now let’s break this job criterion into individual elements and look at it as a professional Investor would look at a ‘Business Case’. Here are some synonyms for the word ‘Responsible’:

• Accountable

• In charge

• To blame

• Liable

• Guilty

• Answerable

• Dependable

• Conscientious

I don’t know about you, but if I understand the King’s language here, I am beginning to feel I have some ‘Skin in the game’ as a sales manager already. Let’s investigate a little further by pulling out the phrase ‘managing sales activity’.

There are (2) different ways to manage. You can choose to ‘Supervise’ or you can elect to ‘Organize’. If 100% of your sales team is 100% effective at professional prospecting; meeting or exceeding the necessary activity standard, ‘supervising’ will do the trick.

You’re dismissed.

But to the extent that they are not is the extent you will need to ‘organize’, put in order a best practice prospecting system to support new sales appointment activity. (Or start over like the sales executive fore-mentioned.)

Now let’s peel back the phrase ‘new and existing account reps’.

In a sales manager dictionary, ‘new’ means ‘New-hires’ and ‘New-hires’ reflects ‘Ramp-to-quota’. Simply put, the quicker a new-hire ramps to Quota the better for both parties; the new-hire and the sales manager. Both get more credit, earn more recognition and receive more commission. And what is the most important facilitator in getting a new-hire sales rep to Quota in the least amount of time?

It’s making sure they secure the necessary amount of new appointments. It’s the fuel in the tank. The quicker they do that, the quicker they will ramp to quota with the proper mentor support of course.

And that brings us back to the leadership choice between choosing to ‘Supervise’ versus electing to ‘Organize’.

Here’s a (1) rep ‘Hard-number’ example.

Average New Hires per Year: 1

Monthly Sales Quota: $7,500

Average Term Agreement: 24 months

Current Average Ramp-to-Quota: 5 months

Improve Average Ramp-to-Quota: 4 months

Average 'Sub-Quota' Revenue per Month during Ramp: $2,800

Annual ROI: $112,800

In this example, reducing the time it takes for (1) new-hire sales rep to achieve Quota by only 1 month returns back to the sales manager $112,800 in additional sales revenue.

The other and sometimes forgotten performance silo within the term ‘New-hire’ is sales employee turnover. Most sales employee turnover occurs with the first 8 months of bring a new sales employee onboard. My studies also tell me that 90% or more of that turnover is directly related to low sales activity; not setting enough new appointments to meet the quota ramp criteria.

Using the same model as above, let’s look at what’s in it for the Sales manager to promote a Prospecting system to reduce new-hire employee turnover.

Number of Sales Reps: 10

12 Month Turnover Rate: 40%

Average Salary: $25,000

Recruiting Costs/Rep: $1,000

Training Costs/Rep: $1,800

Monthly Sales Quota: $7,500

Improve Turnover Rate To: 30%

Revenue Ramp-up Costs: $60,000

Total Annual Cost: $178,533

Revenue Production Loss: $63,000

Saved Reps: 1

Annual Savings: $44,633

Reducing annual turnover for just (1) new-hire sales rep returns back to the sales manager $44,633 in additional sales revenue and recovered costs. Multiply that out by your own sales employee turnover number.

Now back to our sales manager job description criteria of “Responsible for managing sales activity for new and existing Account Executives.” Let’s investigate the term ‘existing account managers’ and what managing sales activities by ‘supervising’ or ‘organizing’ means to our career.

First of all, what percentage of your existing sales team is reaching or exceeding quota each month. Of the percentage that is not, what percentage of them are not achieving quota due to sub-par sales activity? When you uncover that sales performance number and understand the ramifications to revenue result, you will move another notch closer to your ultimate answer of ‘supervise’ or ‘organize’.

Secondarily, what percentage of your sales reps time is spent on securing new business appointments? JDH Group clients spend on average 50% of their weekly ‘hourly rate’ on prospecting. For a sales rep working 45 hours per week, that’s over 22 hours dedicated to front end activity. If you decided to ‘organize’ a prospecting system, become certified in it and help others with it, would that drive that number down? Will that allow your sales team more time to pursue higher-value, solutions-based selling opportunities?

One definition of ‘Best practice’ is the sum of everything everybody in your sales organization knows that gives you a competitive edge in the market place. Putting in place a ‘Prospecting system’ with best practice components and elements, becoming independently certified to it as a manager/leader and mentoring it throughout your sales team will ensure that nobody is left behind.

And enabling your sales team to share knowledge and insight stimulates ‘Targeted’ sales activity that will drive new business and help you reach your desired results more often.

Wholesale - is it worth the cost

If you're reading the title of this article and wondering if it's a misprint, it is not. Wholesale many times comes at a cost that people don't realize or don't think about until it's too late. This article will try to shed some light on some of the pitfalls of buying wholesale.

There is an old saying that goes, "You don't get anything for nothing" and that is so true with buying wholesale. Let's take a look at a few real life examples and you'll understand the problems you face.

For starters, you just can't buy wholesale if you're a regular Joe off the street. Meaning, you can't walk into a wholesale store, walk up to an aisle, pick up a bar of soap, walk to the checkout and expect to pay wholesale for it. You'd better be prepared to go back to that aisle and gather up a few cases of soap. Then you have a shot. Before that though, you need to have a membership.

Most wholesalers require that you pay a yearly fee for this privilege of being able to walk out of their store with 10 cases of Ivory Soap, which will probably take you 25 years to use unless you own a hotel.

Therein lies the rub in buying wholesale. Each outlet is different, but the amount of product you will need to buy in order to walk out with your purchase is at times beyond what would be reasonable for any rational human being unless they indeed did own a large business of some kind that uses these products.

A perfect example is wholesale distributors for recording media like tapes and CDs. There is usually a minimum of about 10 to 20 pieces required in order to get these items even close to wholesale. The more pieces you buy, the lower the cost per piece. But unless you own a recording studio or plan to tape every rock album from 1970 to the present, the number of pieces you will need to purchase in order to get them wholesale is a number that is closer to the speed of light than the number of golf balls you can hold in two hands.

Then of course there are those yearly fees for belonging to all these wholesale clubs. They're not cheap. Some can be as much as $50 to $100 a year. Sure, if you're a restaurant owner who uses lots of dishwasher liquid in a year it's more than worth it. But what does the mom do who goes through a bottle of dishwashing liquid maybe every 3 months? When you're buying, what in some cases can be as many as, 10 cases of dishwasher liquid with 10 bottles in each case, you're looking at 100 bottles of dishwasher liquid. At a consumption of maybe 4 bottles a year you're looking at 25 years until you use the stuff up, if it lasts that long. Certainly these things have to have a shelf life.

The reason these companies can sell wholesale is ONLY because they sell in volume. And they're still selling these items at a profit. In case you aren't aware of this, wholesale is not the same thing as cost.

So if you're planning on buying wholesale you'd first better figure out if it's something you need a zillion of and also if it's something that is going to last 25 years if you don't.

Yes, even wholesale comes at a price.

How to recognize your true sales performance competencies

Let’s first define what we mean by a “core competency.” We will then introduce the 3 Core Competencies, and spend our time understanding how they can dramatically increase your success.

The term Core Competencies refers to those essential elements in the sales process that most directly impact your success. These elements are controllable and measurable, and sales professionals can be trained to be proficient in these areas. Unfortunately, many sales organizations and individuals lose focus – distracted by peripheral activities or sophisticated systems that track dozens of different activities when only a handful really matters.

Without a foundation built upon these essential elements or Core Competencies, and because of all the distractions and roadblocks an organization is susceptible to today, results can be mediocre or less.

Take a look at the following list of items that are prevalent in the sales cycle, and select the items that you believe are absolutely essential to your success.

- Closing Sales

- Developing Prospect Lists

- Setting Appointments

- Running 1st Appointments

- Working Qualified Prospects through the Sales Pipeline

- Post-Sale Marketing

- Developing Referrals

- Reporting and Paperwork

- Documenting Testimonials

Many of these tasks are important, but they are not all sales performance competencies. Yes, it is important and useful to ask for referrals and develop testimonials from satisfied customers, but your success hinges mostly on the mastery of – and attention to – the Core sales Competencies.

One simple way to determine whether an activity, routine or task is truly a core sales competency is to ask what activities are directly linked to revenue.

After all, revenue is how we sales people measure success. That’s our scorecard at the end of the month.

We can do that through a series of questions listed below.

Is it an essential component to the sales mission or is it just an ingredient in the recipe?

Separate necessary tasks in your sales day from key competencies.

Consider a golfer’s essential competencies from tee-off to last putt. Is the core competency the ball – or the club? Or is it the golf swing and putting stroke?

As an example, Prospecting for new business is a necessary sales system to put in place for routine success. Within your Prospecting system are individual components for lead generation; things like customer referral programs, vendor collaboration programs, affinity programs, target information seminars and association programs. These are not authentic sales competencies but tactical vehicles for lead generation.

The actual sales competency is the ‘Act of communicating the Business Reason to Meet’ once you are given the opportunity to have a face-to-face or telephone conversation with your intended target prospect.

And the measurement of that competency, or key performance indicator, is the ‘Conversation-to-appointment’ ratio; how many times you ask for the business appointment versus how many times you achieve it.

Can it be measured routinely and accurately with a napkin, pencil, and calculator?

Just as measuring your ‘Conversation-to-appointment’ ratio; how many times you ask for the business appointment versus how many times you achieve it, your first appointment to proposal ration is a key performance indicator which make it also an essential sales performance competency, because the objective of your first appointment is advancing your sales process to the next step. That might be a demonstration, a site visit, a survey or a proposal.

The degree that you perform your 1st appointment sales process to achieve your ‘Next Step’ objective is measurable and will give you diagnostic feedback to your competency level parallel to your 1st appointment methodology and process.

Can you set a realistic performance benchmark tied to revenue goals?

Let’s say you have diagnosed your sales performance competencies as converting target prospect conversations to appointments, converting 1st appointments to the ‘next step’ in your sales process and then closing the business from there. So that’s (3) sales performance competencies; Conversation-to-appointment ratio, 1st appointment to proposal ratio and closing ratio.

How would you go about setting realistic performance benchmarks that the team can aspire to and measure themselves against?

To do so you need (3) more sales performance numbers; your average revenue per sale, your monthly revenue objective and your weekly activity number. Your weekly activity number is a derivative of your (3) sales performance competencies and your average revenue per sale parallel to your monthly revenue objective.

Here’s an example of a sales manager in the document management industry. Her team’s average revenue per sale is $3400. She calculates she needs to maintain a 1st appointment to proposal ratio of 65%. The closing ratio is set at 40%. Their individual monthly revenue goal is $25,000.

The derivative of these performance numbers is a weekly activity goal of (7) new appointments per rep, on average.

Next is the reality check. Are these performance numbers realistic to meet? Do they have the necessary skill-set and supporting tools to meet all the benchmarks and achieve the performance ratios and activity goal?

If not, what adjustments are needed in line with the benchmarks and what training is needed to achieve them?

Can you apply “Pin-point Training” and “Powerful Routines” around each core competency?

We know what training is, but do we understand why training fails? Timely training is NOT a seminar or one-time event. It requires appropriate structures for learning and application, defining useful short-term objectives, measuring progress, working closely with qualified trainers for follow-up and support, and most importantly, organizational commitment from the ‘Top’ down.

‘Timely training’ is focused on one sales performance competency at a time until the appropriate benchmark of performance is realized.

So if you can say it is directly tied to revenue (or your end result), is a skill set that can be trained to for improvement, and can be easily measured, it is a Sales Performance Competency.

Perhaps a golf analogy will help illustrate the power of the Business of Core Competencies. A self-professed “poor” golfer with a chronic slice might attempt to correct the problem by adjusting his stance – actually aiming away from the fairway so that the slice hopefully lands the ball in the middle.

In contrast, a low handicap golfer with a persistent slice might address the problem by adjusting their grip, rotating their hips, or the adjusting the arc of their swing. In other words, the good golfers address the core competencies of the swing vs. adjusting peripheral elements.

Off the golf course, in the sales arena, the opportunity for you is to identify, train to and measure sales performance competencies and performance metrics, and not just chase after quota.

Paint a picture with your words

Paint a Picture With Your Words

Depending on what you sell, it is not always easy to get your point across, so it is very important to paint a picture with your words to give your customer a visual of your product, or a visual of themselves using your product.

When you are meeting someone face to face, and you can show them your product up close, it is easy for them to get a visual because they are looking at it with their own eye’s, and they can hold it in their own hands.

But seeing and feeling the product is not enough. You want your customers to see themselves using your product. You want to give them the visual of being in action with the product.

For instance, the last time I was on the market for a car, I went to a local dealership looking to test drive some jeeps.

The salesman showed me the jeeps he had on sale, and he even let me test drive a few of them.

Not only did he go over all of the wonderful features the jeep had to offer, such as the CD player, the electric windows, and the heated seats. He also said to me; Can’t you picture yourself cruising through the mountains with the sun setting behind you, and a cool breeze flowing through the open cabin as you play all of your favorite Cd’s?

The visual of me cruising up into the mountains in my new jeep with mother nature in all of her glory was all I needed to picture in my mind, and I was sold.

Well, I still have that jeep, and I enjoy it just as much today as I did the day I bought it. However, I have yet to experience anything as serenely as I had visualized the day I test drove it for the first time.

But the salesman’s technique worked. I bought the jeep.

If I were selling baseball bats, I would give my customers the visual of hitting a home run in the bottom of the ninth too win the game with the exact bat they were holding in their hand.

I could sit here all day coming up with scenarios to get my point across, but I think you get the picture.

So the next time you sell a product, paint a picture. Put a visual in your customer’s head of them using the product in a positive light. It will make a world of difference.

This article may be reproduced by anyone at any time, as long as the authors name and reference links are kept in tact and active.

Even bill gates likes free software

Linux can save your business money. Powerful Linux applications power servers, desktops and laptops across enterprises and small businesses each day. Here in our business, our websites are open source, our support module is Linux, the CRM application and the Accounting system we use to run our business is open source software. Best of all our Linux tools, operating systems and applications, are all freely distributed.

Linux people are different. They search for power and function, but that is not all sought. Linux people believe that software should be freely distributed. The Linux community respects Microsoft; fantastic company whose apps like Office have improve millions of lives, really cool. But the dark secret in Linux circles paints Microsoft as a dinosaur, Linux people believe that expensive software with painful upgrade fees is headed for trouble.

Bill Gates Sees a "Sea Change" in Application Software

Microsoft sells operating systems and applications, and keeps on selling them. Backward compatibility with applications like Word can be hard and is this pain is by design. Microsoft wants to create pain and then fix, with upgrades. Microsoft wants upgrade dollars. This software model is starting to collect some rust. And the reason for this: free software is good. Free software is now available; free business applications to run your business, which are maintained, supported and best of all, are freely distributed. Bill Gates’s vision has focused on the on-line delivery model and even the free application delivery model.

Linux Distributions are a Personal Choice

Linux is built in distributions or releases, all slightly different. Ubuntu, a terrific linux distribution, is so good that it may be nudging Windows off desktops. Ubuntu is easy to deploy and easy to use plus it is loaded with applications for home users and business users. The Ubuntu desktop market share numbers are still viewed with a magnifying glass, but not too long ago, you needed a microscope. Ubuntu is easy to install and easy to use. Just get the software at the website and burn a CD. Ubuntu has just one CD or one ISO which loads in a snap. Red Hat, another distribution has 6 and takes much longer to complete. Ubuntu is lean because after the initial setup the user can craft his Ubuntu system just how he likes. The internet has Ubuntu distribution sites that power a tool called apt-get. All you do is apt-get install from a command line or user the Add Software GUI tools and you are getting the best linux apps right off the shelf and put right into your menu.

Ubuntu Distribution

The Ubuntu distribution has an Office suite with word processing, a spreadsheet, and presentation modules. All work can be saved in common formats like. doc or xls and are completely compatible with Microsoft products. The base Ubuntu application is loaded with graphics applications, CD, DVD burning and creation, multi-media including music and movie players, back-up apps, powerful anti-virus tools and networking applications that are best of breed. There is built in VOIP and message clients and many cool apps like Sticky Notes to make you more efficient.

Free Business Linux Applications

GNU Cash, free financial tracking, similar to Quicken. Cut an invoice, track bank accounts, run a budget and report your cash flow. Import your bank files and create buckets of spend for your financial analysis that will make an accountant jealous.

PBX and Phone Systems

Elastix will power up your phones. Did you know that most PBX commercial software is run using a freely distributed tool called Astericks. Elastix has re-packaged Astericks to ease the deployment and offers support. Expensive PBXs are not necessary. Linux has adapted other telephony tools like VOIP, predictive dialers, and call center solutions.

Do you need a content management system? A website or an intranet for your company. Plone, Drupal, Joomla deliver big. The functionality in these freely distributed tools match the priciest CMS software. The tools are supported and you can even buy how to books at your local bookstore.

Customer Relationship Management and CRM

How about sales tools, CRM or order management, even inventory management software? Full power CRM or customer relationship management tools are available for free or for super low prices. DataForceCRM, based in Dallas, is deploying a sugarcrm linux derivative that has been enhanced and strengthened and customers are shaving 80% off typical user fees. DataForceCRM offers wikis, forums, full documentation and will make sure user adoption is high. The tool is super flexible, has Outlook integration, manages marketing, tracks sales, eyeballs inventory, push button order management, gives customers’s a support tool and is Freely distributed to companies with less than 10 users. If your business has over 10 users, prices are still a bargain.

Companies pay high prices for customer support modules. OTRS, another open source backbone application in commercial applications, is there for the download and configuration. After set up your business will have a fully featured, professional trouble ticket tracker helping your clients get what they need.

Virtualization is taking IT departments by storm. Virtualization turns your single computer, you need some memory, into many virtual machines. This streamlines hardware usage and turns hard ware utilization way up. State of the art Virtualization called Xen comes with many linux distributions. In Ubuntu do apt-get install vmware-server and a fine tool is on its way to your machine.

The coolest thing about Linux is that in the 30 minutes I took to write this article, more applications were probably released. Sourceforge. net, a depository for linux tools is one of the busiest sites on the internet and full of Linux value added applications. Just yesterday I needed to edit a PDF. I google up pdfnet and there I went, for free. Very cool, ERP, or enterprise resource planning is free too. Linux support was targeted for genius level IQs but not any longer.

Conclusion

Companies realize good training and support drives value. Applications, even if free, are expensive if the learning curve is steep and if users are not guide. Smart open source companies are rolling out support modules to all service all learning types, wikis, live chat, forums, documentation and live phone contacts. Now with support in place, training available communities grow and grow. The applications I mentioned hit the tipping point where the user community is user support. Just this morning I was stumped with a virtual machine question. I googled the error code and added for Ubuntu. The page came up faster than I could call support, and the answer was clearly defined. Cool.

New technology can be daunting to learn and use. The linux world knows this and just in the last few years, has put strong arms around user friendliness. Opensource software is easy to deploy, easy to use, powerful and supported. I just covered a tiny fraction of applications available today. Just for fun, visit the sites in this article. Check out the super cool applications and then put a number to your potential savings. You may become a Linux Geek.

Think before you speak

You are talking to a customer and after you present your product, service or solution, she asks, “What discount can I get?” or “What can you do about the price?” Think before you speak otherwise this innocent-sounding question will cost you money right off your bottom line. While it’s tempting to offer a discount or better price resist the desire to do so. Here’s why.

First, just because someone asks you for a better price, does not mean they expect to get it. Some people ask for a discount because they have been told to. They are often uncomfortable doing this and will seldom press the issue. However, professional buyers and key decision-makers know that many sellers will drop their price at the first sign of resistance so they ask everyone for a discount—and they can be aggressive in their approach. Plus, experienced negotiators lose respect for people who drop their price too quickly. Standing your ground and refusing to cave in right away is also a show of strength and executives respect this type of behaviour.

Second, when you drop your price too quickly, you teach your customer to repeat that behaviour in future transactions. Remember, everything you do now affects your customer’s behaviour toward you in the future. When I first started my private practice, I gave a client a discount on a package of services. The next time he contacted, he demanded that same discount which put me in a somewhat precarious position—did I give the same discount or risk losing the sale? A business executive once told me that she knew which of her suppliers she could browbeat into giving her a better price and she always took advantage of that perceived weakness.

So, what is the best way to respond to a request for a discount or better price?

Professional negotiators will tell you to flinch. A flinch is a visible reaction to a request or demand and goes something like this, “You want a discount!?! Even though we have been working together for four years and you know our services will help you get better results you still want a discount?” When coupled with the right facial expressions and body language, this technique is extremely effective. However, I have found that most people are extremely uncomfortable using this approach and even I find it difficult to apply on a consistent basis.

An effective way to respond to a request for a better price is to ask, “What did you have in mind?” or “What were you looking for?” When you ask one of these questions, you get the other person to tell you how much of a discount they want. In many cases, their expectation will be less than you are prepared to give which means you will increase the size of the sale and save money at the same time—a double win. One word of caution here—an experienced negotiator will say, “Well, I want a better price than this” which means you need to be prepared to ask the question a couple of times.

This also applies to email correspondence. Many people will ask their sales person for a discount via email which makes it next to impossible to use some of the standard negotiating techniques. Before you respond by offering a better price, take the time to properly craft your email. Here is what you can say, “We might be able to do something for you. What did you have in mind?” The key is to give the indication that you have flexibility without committing to something you might regret later.

This sounds like an easy technique to use but it’s not. You have to train yourself to listen for your customer’s question and be prepared to respond with your own. I hate to admit it but I have fallen for this question because I wasn’t expecting it. In one situation, an existing client asked me for a package price on some bundled services. Instead of responding by asking what price he was looking for, I automatically offered a small discount. I kicked myself afterwards because I felt that I should know better.

It is essential to listen carefully to what your prospect says and to think before you speak. It is also critical to practise asking your question until it becomes second-nature so you can respond quickly when a prospect asks for a discount or better price.

© 2008 Kelley Robertson, All rights reserved.

Us government sales marketing

Copyright 2006 PJM Consulting

What’s the difference between selling to the US Government and selling to the Commercial market?

It’s like night and day.

Sales and Marketing to the government is truly the flip side of commercial activities. You really can’t believe how different these markets are--until you’ve actually come from one side--and tried to go over to the other. I emphasize, tried, because it usually doesn’t work out very well!

First of all, in the Government world, the term "marketing" is a standard term. But its meaning in the government world is very different from its definition in the commercial world. When you hear someone talk about “Marketing” to the government—they really mean SELLING. That’s in large part because those businesses that deal primarily, or exclusively, with the government really don’t do much in the way of marketing in the commercial sense.

Everything's Different

In a traditional government contractor, there is usually no one with a sales title. There are often a couple of people with grand titles like “Vice President of Marketing” or “Vice President of Business Development”. These people have very little in the way of real marketing responsibilities--they are the chief sales people of the company. They are usually former government employees, and in the case of a military contractor, often an ex-general or ex-colonel. Key to their hiring was that they are very well connected in the government or service branch that the company is targeting. Included in their charter are some “light” Marcom activities--putting together data sheets, and coordinating a few targeted trade shows. In addition to the dedicated “Marketing People”, much of the technical selling of individual deals is done at the project manager level.

Of course, it’s not just the sales & marketing functions that are so different in the government world vs. commercial. Almost everything is! The typical government contracting business model more closely resembles a grocery store, than it does a typical high tech company. Margins are very thin, but profit is pretty much guaranteed once you’ve secured a contract. Up front R&D (“IR&D” in government terminology) is generally discouraged, as it’s a great way to lose money. IR&D can also be funded by the government; that is utilized heavily, but it has limitations. Spending an amount(without government funding) that would be modest in the commercial world on up front R&D can easily wipe out the thin margins that the government contracting business yields. The government contracting model works like this: Hire an ex-employee from the agency that you are targeting your “marketing” at. Leverage that relationship to secure the contract, with a minimum of up front product development expenses. Then hire the people to staff the project, and of course do a good job executing the project. Add new “marketer” from another agency and repeat.

So for those purely commercial readers out there, this must sound pretty different than what you’re used to. That’s only because it is! There is no Product Marketing/Product Management function in a true government contractor. In the government world your “market” is one customer, or a small number of customers, who are basically specifying the product for you. There are a few sales people, but as I mentioned earlier, they’re called marketing people. The actual marketing tasks are few and far between—collateral creation, trade shows, a party here or there.

Difficult to make the Jump

As you imagine from the discussion above, it’s difficult to move between the two worlds. That’s the reason that nearly EVERY government contractor that has tried to enter commercial markets in any major way has failed abysmally. Government-oriented companies typically don’t have the entrepreneurial cultures found in commercial high tech companies. They lack fundamental Market Evaluation and Product Planning skills required for success in the commercial world—because it’s not required in their core market.

Senior managers at Government contractors are often profoundly aware of all of this. They may intellectually understand that they need to do things differently for their companies to make the jump to the commercial side. But especially if they have been very successful in the government business, a difficulty emerges that won’t be obvious on the surface. And this is the worst of all: Successful senior managers tend to fall back on their what I like to call their “Common Business Sense”, when they encounter new or stressful situations. Often they don’t even realize that they are doing it. Unfortunately, when an executive with a government contractor utilizes their “common business sense” to make a decision involving a commercial business, the results can be disastrous. The “right way” of doing things in the two businesses are so fundamentally different that it would work out better if they took the OPPOSITE path from what their instincts told them. Not an easy way to do business.

Commercial to Government

So what’s a C-level manager in a commercial company, which would like to secure some government orders, to do? Given the different business cultures of the two markets, it seems pretty daunting. Those poor government guys who have tried to go commercial have had their hats handed to them—does the same fate await me?

Fortunately, it doesn’t necessarily need to be so bad. If you are selling services, or highly customized products, you may need to closely replicate the government-contracting model, if you are going to be successful. If you are selling fairly standard products, however, it may be possible to gain significant government business leveraging your normal commercial marketing efforts.

A few years back, I was running a startup commercial software product group within a company that was otherwise a pure government contractor. It was a diversification effort for the company. Our sister groups within the company were all very successful, and extremely well connected within government contracting and procurement circles. I expected, and was promised, a lot of help in placing our products in large quantities within various government agencies and military branches. For a lot of different reasons, that help never materialized. But a funny thing happened—this startup software product group ended up with 40% of its revenue from US and foreign governments. This was without a government-specific product, no real marketing advantage provided by our well-connected parent, and no special government emphasis in our sales and marketing programs. Contrary to popular belief, if you have a great commercial standard product that has use within the government, the agencies and branches will find a way to purchase it. Our product was aimed at Network Administrators, and their needs were similar to their commercial counterparts. The government market is huge, and we did well in the government sector. With a few modest investments, however, we could have done even better. So what steps should a commercial company do to maximize its penetration in the government marketplace?

Tips for Success

Create a great product—Above all, your market research and product planning are the starting point to success. Make sure to include a few potential government customers in your upfront planning, which should ensure that you don’t miss any special requirements they might have. This is a huge market you don’t want to miss.

Have a modest entry-level price for your product—Even if in a production environment your product costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even millions, it’s very helpful to have an entry-level price of less than a thousand dollars. This will allow a motivated prospect to acquire your product initially by “going around” the laborious, lengthy, confusing—and often competitive—contracting process. Even if you have to go through a contract later to secure the full production purchase price, the bidding process may then be “written to your specifications”.

Hire an experienced government sales executive—This can NEVER hurt. It really helps having someone who knows his way around your target agencies, to head your Government Sales Division.

Place your products on the GSA schedule via an established Government Reseller—Getting on the GSA (Government Services Agency) via your own company is a long and complex process. For most commercial entities, it isn’t worth the effort. It’s much easier to give up a few margin points to a reseller already on the schedule. It’s much easier for him to add your products. They won’t do much for you in the way of promotion, and I’ve found that being on the GSA schedule in most cases isn’t REQUIRED to buy your products (although some will tell you otherwise). But it does make it easier for the customer inside the government, and if nothing else, raises their comfort level. They will know that they won’t face a major hassle to buy your product.

That’s my take on selling to the US government. Hopefully there’s a nugget or two in there that can help you. Send me a note with a few of your own tips.

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What to do when you hit the invisible sales revenue ceiling

Have you ever hit a level of revenue that you just couldn't seem to break through?

If you have, then you know how frustrating it can feel.

You may even spike above this ceiling periodically. But, like water seeking its own level, your revenue results seek a sub-par level.

I once walked into a situation much like this. I assumed the position of Vice President in a relatively young company. I was immediately tasked with making the changes needed to solve the revenue problem.

The company, after nearly 2 years of business-to-business selling of their service, had met only 40% of their revenue expectations.

Finance told me they were "behind" projections and needed to catch up. And the executive team wanted to know how long it would take. And the CEO said we didn't have much time.

In this case, corporate had created a unique and valuable position in the marketplace. They had a sustainable competitive advantage. The service application worked, the product was needed and their offering was dramatically different from its competitors. Their Strategic Positioning was in place and healthy.

So why the invisible ceiling?

Sales leadership had failed to understand their meaningful business metrics. This was the primary reason, as it is in most cases. They had not isolated the essential competencies and components. Therefore, their people couldn't self-compete to reach and maintain revenue goals.

They failed to develop practices and processes that allow an individual to identify, train to and measure their own competencies and performance metrics.

In other words, they attempted to shortcut the "Blocking and Tackling" process to routinely meet revenue goals.

When you hit a revenue "ceiling," you have to go into diagnostic mode.

Ask the critical questions:

Which one of your Key Performance Indicators is causing you to fall short?

There may be several, but only one is the main culprit. As an example, the company I mentioned was fundamentally fine in turning first appointments into proposals. And they were maintaining an "average" closing ratio. Their sales cycle was within acceptable benchmarks.

Both competencies had room for improvement, but they were not the "smoking gun" at the scene of the crime. So what was the one culprit in this case?

What if I told you they were only generating 2 new appointments per week per sales rep?

Their average revenue per sale at this level of activity, when related to other competency and performance numbers, produces a 40% return.

Anyone can understand that something has to change operationally to grow the revenue. And what one item jumps off the page? In this case, as in many others, activity is the path of least resistance. They just needed to be taught how to generate routine opportunities in the least amount of time.

Everyone settles to his or her own level of "result".

That may be OK, but only if your comfort zone is consistently at or above the company's expectations. And when it's not, "Houston, we have a problem."

These kinds of problems cause a shortfall of revenue and unnecessary employee turnover, both of which carry "hard-dollar" consequences. I attribute it to having a "comfort zone" that is not all that comfortable.

So, there you are. You're having a hard time figuring out where it hurts. So you take an aspirin and hope it goes away.

Seek to understand how to break through this undefined ceiling. View your job as a business, your business, and evaluate it. Use the kind of diagnostic lens entrepreneurial business people use to scrutinize their enterprises.

Now, you can develop your own systems and processes, if you want. But maybe you'd rather not try to re-invent the wheel.

In which case, invest in mine.

Either way, the first step in busting through an invisible revenue ceiling is to identify and measure your essential core competencies. Then, develop powerful training systems to improve those competencies.

And you'll outperform your "comfort zone," your peers and your competitors.

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