All posts tagged communication

Reaching Your Target Market In Different Generations

Reaching Your Target Market In Different Generations

Reaching Your Target Market In Different Generations from the http://dsef.orgWe’re at an interesting point in history. We have generations that grew up without the internet, and those that have never been without it, all in the same workforce. These are your customers, employees, team members. And in order to work effectively with each generation as a business owner, you have to be extremely flexible, and prepared to deliver you message in multiple ways, in order to reach people of every generation.

Here are some tips to help you work effectively with multiple generations.

  • Research: Take the time to understand the needs and communication styles of the generations that you work with. For example, Generation Y prefers texting over email communication, whereas baby boomers prefer a phone call or face to face communication. Generation X wants you to communicate via email or text, but you need to keep it short. By researching the communication preferences of each generation, you can craft messages that are more effective, and that help you get your message across. Here’s an article where you can start: Communicating with Many Generations
  • Ask: Generalizations about communication preferences are great, but it’s also important to ask the individuals you work with how they want you to communicate with them. For example, many people today prefer to learn via video, and there is a big push to produce authentic videos of actual customer experiences. Yet there are still some who don’t have the patience for video, and would prefer a quick summary of steps. Make sure you’re asking how people you work with want to hear from you, and then honor those communication preferences.
  • Be Flexible: As you work with multiple generations, you may need to deliver the same message in different ways in order to reach everyone. So this means you need to learn all the communication techniques (text, email, video, handwritten note, social networking, etc.) and then be prepared to deliver each message in a variety of mediums. For example, if you want to let your customer base know about a sale, you may send out a text alert to your customers that have signed up for that list, include it in your email newsletter, record a short video about it that you post to YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, and write a personal note to your best customers that you send through the mail. In this way, you can be sure that everyone, regardless of generation, gets the message.

In order to be a business that attracts many, you need to communicate in the ways that people prefer to hear from you. So be sure you’re taking the time to learn about generational communication preferences, and then create a strategy to communicate effectively with the many generations you serve.

How do you adapt your communication style for various generations? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below!

How To Negotiate Well

How To Negotiate Well

businessgrowThe art of negotiation takes a fair amount of practice and real-life experience to master. From haggling at a flea market to negotiating the price of a new car, each situation requires the same basic elements. Use our list below as a general guideline for your own business negotiations.

  • Be fair and expect a win-win solution. Without fairness on both sides of the table, any negotiation is doomed to fail. Each party must be willing to compromise something in order to gain something else. For example, when cutting a deal with a vendor, he may sacrifice his desired price in order to gain your exclusive loyalty. This becomes a win-win solution because he has acquired a long-term loyal customer, and you have procured an unbeatable cost for his services.
  • Know your bottom line. There must be a tangible point which, if reached, would end discussions. Know what this point is and be willing to walk away from the negotiation if you get there. Your bottom line may not always be a number, but rather a clause in a contract or a procurement of a certain service by vendors or employees. Decide well in advance what your bottom line actually is.
  • Do your research to know their bottom line. You may not be able to know for sure exactly what the other party’s bottom line is, but with adequate research, you may have a good idea. By anticipating what their point of no return is, you prevent the possibility of exhausting all other options before the other party leaves the negotiating table. For example, when negotiating the contract of a prospective employee, some research might tell you that at her current job, she is allowed one day a week to telecommute, and without that one day in any future position, she wouldn’t be willing to leave her current employer. Knowing this allows you to leave it on the table in all aspects of the negotiation to prevent her from walking away.

Depending on the situation, negotiating can be simple, complex, or anywhere in between. Remember to be fair, willing to compromise, and adequately prepared with information about the other party.

What tips can you share for improving your negotiating skills? Please share your ideas in the comments section below!

Three Ideas to Improve Your Business Scripts

Three Ideas to Improve Your Business Scripts

Three Ideas to Improve Your Sales Scripts from

It’s no secret that creating a script for a sales pitch or other type of meeting can be extremely helpful. A script can prevent you from forgetting to include important information, can make you feel more prepared, and can increase your confidence. All of these benefits increase your chances of achieving your desired outcomes.  Here are some ideas for making those scripts even better.

  1. Build in time to listen. Much of your presentation probably consists of you doing the talking and the audience doing the listening. However, there should be specific parts of your script where you engage the audience in a way that gets them thinking about something in particular. For example, you might pose a rhetorical question and give them time to silently come up with an answer for themselves. Encourage active listening as much as possible to maintain their attention.
  2.  Include a Q & A session.  A question and answer portion of your script is a wonderful opportunity for you to gauge how effective you have been in presenting your information. The types of questions asked will give you some insight into how the audience perceives your message. Furthermore, a Q & A allows you to clarify important talking points and add new information where appropriate. To maximize the effectiveness of the Q & A, ask the client to be more specific with a question or to explain what is meant by it. This helps others who may have the same type of question in mind.
  3. Allow time for your audience to process the information and provide feedback. Perhaps you can assign a small group activity where your audience breaks off into groups of 2-4 people to discuss a question you’ve posed to them. Doing so allows you to circulate, give each group some individualized attention, listen to feedback, and make suggestions and recommendations. For example, if you are training a batch of new employees on how to handle a difficult customer, consider assigning them a role-playing activity to act out and then discuss its outcome. As you circulate the room, observe each group, interject and guide them when necessary, answer questions as they arise, and offer positive reinforcement. All this increases the likelihood that your audience will get the most out of your message.

To maximize the effectiveness of your scripts, make sure they are well-rounded and allow the audience a variety of ways to engage.

What suggestions do you have for improving scripts? Please share your ideas below!

4 Tips to Improve Your Public Speaking

4 Tips to Improve Your Public Speaking

Four Tips to Improve Your Public Speaking from http://dsef.orgIf public speaking is a regular part of your role as small business owner, and you are like many people, it may be one of your biggest fears. Fortunately, it does not have to be that way. There a few easy ways to ease your public speaking fears and improve your skills at the same time. Here’s are some things you can do to improve your public speaking:

1      Prepare, prepare, PREPARE! There is almost no worse feeling than being unprepared. If you haven’t done the legwork before a public speaking engagement, you may feel flustered, nervous, and incompetent. These worries will be evident to your audience, so prepare as much as you possibly can. Write down or type out your content, and frequently rehearse using your notes; also, make adjustments where necessary. For example, if you find that you continually lose your place when reading from your notes typed on an 8 ½” x 11” sheet of paper, switch over to note cards, on which you can write just a few bullets before getting rid of that card. Find a system that works for you. You may also consider recording yourself on video to get a sense of your own body language, and how you appear to others.

2      Show confidence.  This is easier than it may seem, especially if you have adequately prepared. You know the material, you are a successful leader, and you have been given the responsibility to speak in front of a group of people. Take pride in this role by holding your head high, making frequent eye contact, and speaking in a strong, clear voice. Give yourself a positive “pep talk” before going in front of the group, and tell yourself that you are well able to give your speech effectively. What you tell yourself matters!

3      Focus on key points, but provide personal stories to balance them. Your main focus should be on the key points, or main ideas, of your speech. If you nail those, the rest won’t matter as much. However, it is also important to give your audience a way to relate to you personally. So be sure to provide a few personal stories that will illustrate your main points. These are the things that people often walk away with as a result of your talk. So choose 2 or 3 of your main points, and plan a brief story you can tell that will illustrate those points.

4      End with a call to action. You don’t want your speech to fall flat because of a boring conclusion. End with a call to action from the audience. Doing so helps give your speech purpose and drives your point home. For example, if you are speaking to a team of employees about improving customer service, an effective call to action might be, “Ask your next customer for their honest feedback before you let them leave. Then the next, and the next, and so on. Make this your new protocol.” Concluding with a call to action also helps your audience figure out where to start.

With careful preparation, self-reflection, and a firm grasp on the content, public speaking can become yet another skill you master. And don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from others either in a practice setting or after the real thing. This will help you continuously improve your skills!

What else would you add to our list? Please share your ideas below!

Five Ways to be Unforgettable

Five Ways to be Unforgettable

Five Ways to Unforgettable from http://dsef.orgThe most effective networkers and salespeople have certain qualities that make them unforgettable. Whether you are meeting a prospective customer or presenting a new marketing campaign to your staff, it is important that you leave a lasting impression. Your impression is as important as your content, so keep the following tips in mind when you want to leave a memorable impression.

1      Maintain a positive attitude. Your own attitude about what you are saying is the first thing that people will notice. Not only must you truly believe in your words, but you must display a positive attitude and enthusiasm as well. Demonstrate this with your bright smile and light-hearted tone of voice. Most importantly, let your personality shine through, and your positive attitude will be contagious.

2      Use logic in your presentation. Using facts and reason injects logic into your presentation, and if done effectively, can eliminate any doubt or hesitation. For instance, in a sales pitch to a prospective customer about high end cutlery, one experienced representative always asks the customer to show him the drawer full of cheaper, lower quality knives that are no doubt stashed in the kitchen. The salesperson then asks how often the customer must replace the utensils and how much it costs each time. After showing the prospect on paper the amount that has been spent on low quality products over the last ten years, he then presents the cost of his product to show that because it never needs replacing, the customer is actually saving money in the long run. Numbers don’t lie, so this is an effective way to use logic in a presentation.

3      Tap into emotions. Logic will take you far, but not all the way. Your prospect needs to feel something about your content in order to take immediate action. The cutlery salesperson can tap into a customer’s feeling of accomplishment after preparing a delicious meal for her family with ease. A team leader can tap into the staff’s excitement about beating out the competition with the new marketing strategy. Do your research ahead of time to find out the best way to appeal to people’s emotions.

4      Be concise. No matter how infused your presentation is with a positive attitude, logic, and emotional appeal, it will all mean nothing if you go on for too long. Say only what is necessary, and don’t lose focus by going off on tangents or straying from the topic at hand. Be respectful of others’ time and mindful of average attention spans.

5      End with a creative idea that has impact or something visually powerful. The ultimate part of your presentation must be memorable. Don’t waste the opportunity to pack one last punch by summing up what you’ve already said. End with a creative call to action or a stunning visual that will solidify your overall presentation. The cutlery representative, for example, strategically places his different product samples throughout the customer’s kitchen during the pitch, and ends with asking him or her to take a good look at this new and improved cooking space. Having given the customer’s kitchen a makeover of sorts has a lasting impact and provides a visual that is hard to refuse.

The keys to being unforgettable are to truly believe in what you are presenting and to infuse your own individuality into your pitch. What would you add to our list? Please share your ideas below!

Six Easy Ways to Attract More People

Six Easy Ways to Attract More People

Businesspeople Applauding --- Image by © Royalty-Free/CorbisWhether you’re looking to attract more customers, recruit new employees, or network with influential people, there are a few simple things you can do to increase your chances of success. Take a look at our list to see how you can attract more people to you and your business.

  • Engage everyone with a friendly greeting. Sometimes we get caught up in our own worlds and don’t take the time to greet each person properly. Initiate a friendly exchange by greeting each person. A simple opening such as, “How are you this morning?” or “It’s a pleasure seeing you again,” can suffice. More often than not, such pleasantries can lead to a friendly conversation. When people know you are genuinely interested, they will not only remember you, but will look forward to interacting with you again.
  •  Focus on the individual. Although your ultimate goal may be to attract a certain number of people, forget that number when interacting with one person. For that moment in time, focus solely on the individual. What are his or her needs? How can you be of service to the person? What message is the person trying to convey to you? Don’t inadvertently turn people off by engaging them in generic conversations. Tailor your interactions to that particular person.
  •  Avoid arguments. You will not always see eye to eye with each person you come in contact with. Arguing, however, is unprofessional and will turn people away. Be proactive and avoid potentially controversial topics such as politics and religion. Even if you do these things and a disagreement happens anyway, take the high road and “agree to disagree.” People will respect and appreciate your honesty and courtesy.
  •  Assume everyone is good. By doing so, you demonstrate that you are a positive person who sees the good in others. This feeling is contagious and often reciprocated. Everyone makes mistakes, but giving others the benefit of the doubt will encourage a sense of trust and will likely strengthen your relationship. Besides, wouldn’t you want others to think the best of you?
  •  Be helpful. This can be done in so many ways, and a good deed will definitely be remembered by others. For example, the owner of a local pizzeria found a gold bracelet on a table left behind by one of his last customers of the night. He had no idea who she was or how to contact her, so he put it aside in case she came in again. She returned a few weeks later, and he asked her if she had lost it. The woman was so grateful she was nearly in tears; it turns out the bracelet was left to her by her recently deceased grandmother. She told everyone who would listen how generous the man was and became a loyal patron of the establishment. It would have been just as easy for the owner to toss the bracelet or keep it, but his helpful nature earned him something that was priceless for his business.
  •  Get involved. Reach out to your customers, your staff, and your community. Involving yourself in a good cause will show others that you truly care. People are attracted to others who are generous with their time and skills. Demonstrate your sincere desire to give back to those around you.

You can attract more people by treating others kindly and going the extra mile to show them you care. What can you add to our list? Please share your ideas below!

8 Ways to Get Positive Results

8 Ways to Get Positive Results

Low angle view of two business executives shaking hands

In order to get more consistent positive results out of all that you do, the first thing you need to do is to maintain a positive attitude about every situation. Although we cannot control the behavior of others, we certainly can control the way in which we ourselves behave. Even if you are feeling less than enthusiastic, commit to finding the positive in every situation. Here are some ways you can incorporate being positive into your everyday routine and increase your chances of positive results.

1.       Write down your expectation for the day. The act of writing down your expectation solidifies your commitment to following through. By doing this at the start of each and every day, you are making an affirmation that helps you focus your mind and maintain your motivation no matter what challenges the day may hold.

 2.       Make a plan and prioritize. Writing down your expectation is a great start, but it is only the beginning. How will you go about meeting this expectation? Create a plan and prioritize which tasks are most important; tackle those first. For example, if your expectation is to organize your cluttered office, create a list of what steps need to be taken and in what order. You cannot file pending paperwork away without first purging old files and making new ones. You cannot dust and vacuum the furniture and carpeting without first clearing out the clutter and putting everything in its proper place. Making a list will keep you from becoming sidetracked and will allow you to get the positive results you are looking for.

 3.       Smile at everyone you see. A little smile goes a long way. Smiling at colleagues, clients, and even strangers on the street will bring out the happiness inside you and will even encourage reciprocal smiles and happiness in others. When people see you as a positive person, they will want to be around you. You will also enjoy your day much more when everyone is in a good mood and pleasant with each other.

 4.       Make your conversations positive. When someone asks how you are doing, it might not be a good idea to start spouting off negative comments about your team or how stressed you are about tax season. There is a time and place for such venting, but in your everyday conversations with others in a work environment, emphasize the positive. Talk about how excited you are for an upcoming trip or how you can’t wait to debut a new product line. Positive conversation begets more positive conversation, and both parties will appreciate the good feelings.

 5.       Seek the good in others. Give people the benefit of the doubt by assuming they are good. Everyone makes mistakes, but by seeking out the good in others, you give them a chance to be their best and redeem themselves if necessary. For instance, if a client has made a payment late, only to give you a check that bounces, don’t assume the worst and make an angry phone call. Maybe the person is experiencing personal difficulties that are causing financial strain. Keep this assumption in mind when dealing with adverse situations.

 6.       Eat healthy and enjoy your exercise. There is a meme circulating the internet that says, “When I eat garbage, I feel like garbage.” We all need to splurge once in awhile, but don’t make it a habit. When you eat right, you have more energy and you feel equipped to take on the day. Furthermore, enjoy the exercise you get, whether it be walking around the block or attending a high-impact Zumba class. The endorphins you produce while you exercise can make you feel re-energized and freshly motivated.

 7.       Don’t worry about the small stuff. Not everything is a matter of life and death. Learn to recognize what things require immediate attention and deserve your stress, and what things are out of your control or trivial in nature. A leaky roof is a valid thing to worry about, but finding that you have run out of stamps isn’t something to get upset about.

 8.       Start a daily gratitude journal and end the day with what you are grateful for. At the end of your day, write down the date and jot down what you are thankful for. Do it in a way that makes most sense to you: in prose, stream-of-consciousness, a basic list, or just some key words. If the last thing you think about before going to sleep at night is positive, you will rest easier and be able to continue the positive cycle again tomorrow.

It isn’t always easy to remain positive all the time, but sometimes you have to “fake it ‘til you make it.” Committing yourself to positive behaviors each day will actually help you feel more positive and achieve the results you want.

What do you do to achieve positive results? Please share with us below!


Are You Making These Mistakes in Business?

Are You Making These Mistakes in Business?

MP900289918[1]Throughout your career as a small business owner, you are bound to make the occasional mistake. No matter how prepared you are, how much research you have done, or how smart you and your team may be, mishaps are pretty much a guarantee. However, the good news is that as long as you accept them, take them in stride, and learn from them, the damage will usually be minimal. Here is a brief list of some common mistakes made by small business owners to help you steer clear of preventable missteps.

  • Inconsistency – Being consistent is an absolute must, whether it pertains to your company policies, customer service protocol, or any other aspect of the way your business operates. Inconsistency equals lack of reliability and will send your customers and staff running to your competitors. For example, your staff handbook clearly states that repeated lateness to work will result in first a warning, then a brief suspension, and finally dismissal. This policy is enforced for everyone except one employee you’ve known since college. Because you and your friend go back a long way, you have turned a blind eye when it comes to her tardiness. Not only is this unfair to the rest of your staff, but it puts a major dent in overall morale. When people feel that there are different sets of rules for different people, they become unhappy in their jobs, and their work suffers. Be fair and consistent in every aspect of your business.
  • Failure to stay in contact and/or follow up – Acquiring contacts through networking, referrals, or through family and mutual friends is a great way to grow your business. However, you must do your part to maintain such contacts. Implement time in your daily or weekly schedule to make follow-up calls, send friendly emails, or jot down a handwritten note to your contacts. These can be prior customers you haven’t seen in awhile, people you’ve recently met at industry events, or even prospective clients whose information was given to you by a friend. Be proactive and keep that contact list current.
  • Lack of online presence – Here we are in the year 2013. The importance of an online presence cannot be emphasized enough. Here’s some perspective: the current generation of 20-somethings has no memory of life without the internet and has been using social media their entire young adult and adult lives. You don’t need to get on every single networking site and try to be everything to everybody, but at the very least, have a user-friendly and informational company website as well as a current profile on one or two social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. If you don’t make this a priority, your competitors will easily get the best of you.
  • Neglecting to listen and respond to your clients – Most people frequent small businesses over their larger corporate counterparts because of the personalized attention they receive. Be sure to make it worth their while by listening to their concerns and responding to their wants and needs. Even if you can’t provide everything they’re looking for at the moment, knowing that you care and that they are being heard will ensure that they remain loyal customers in the long run.

Although many mistakes cannot be avoided, certain mistakes can. Use common sense, listen to others, be fair, and follow industry trends.

What other common mistakes would you add to our list? Please share your ideas below!

Three Networking Mistakes

Three Networking Mistakes

Woman Talking During Job InterviewSuccessful networking is a necessary part of growing your business and taking it to the next level.  Doing so requires a certain amount of social grace, including the ability to engage people in conversation and making them feel comfortable. 

Avoid these three common mistakes when networking and stand out among the crowd in a positive way.

  • Focus on building relationships. This will allow for long-term planning. Even if this contact can’t help you in your endeavor right now, the opportunity may arise in the future for this person to offer something of value to your business. Give something of yourself when establishing professional relationships. For example, a dance studio owner/dance teacher looking to expand her clientele by offering classes for children under 5 years old holds an open house for prospective students and their parents. When speaking with some of the parents individually, she asks each one why they would like to start the child in a dance class and offers a free demo class as well as a discounted private lesson for those interested in joining her studio. The parents recognize that the teacher is giving her time and expertise so they may have a risk-free trial before committing to a year of classes. This also allows the teacher to get to know her future students and show the parents that she truly cares about their early dance education.
  • Don’t play the role of counselor; keep the conversation social and friendly. An initial introduction is not the time to offer unsolicited advice on the topic at hand. Make sure the conversation centers around common interests. The dance teacher shares her own stories about how she got started at a young age, which helps prospects relate to her on a more personal level. This is more effective than preaching her philosophy on why children should start their dance classes as soon as possible. A light-hearted conversational tone is best in networking situations.
  • Digging too deeply into people’s lives makes them uncomfortable. Although you do want to build a relationship and find out a bit more about the person, be careful not to pry into their personal lives. One mother of twins attending a demo gymnastics class with her children finds herself being asked by total strangers if she used fertility treatments to conceive. A seemingly innocent question made in social conversation is actually quite personal. Don’t make the same mistake. Let the other person guide you in how much they are willing to share, but err on the side of caution when asking personal questions.

Just like many other aspects of your business, networking takes practice. The more you do it, the better you become. You can’t avoid making some mistakes; that is to be expected. However, by steering clear of certain downfalls, you can more quickly get on the road to networking success.

What advice would you give for successful networking? Please share your comments below!

How to Handle Criticism of Your Business

How to Handle Criticism of Your Business

How to Deal with Criticism of Your Business from http://dsef.orgWouldn’t it be great if everyone was as excited and positive about your business as you are?

Unfortunately, every business owner eventually encounters critics…people who only have negative things to say about you or your business. Sometimes these comments come from complete strangers, but sometimes they come from those who are closest to you. And it can be discouraging! Fortunately, you are not the first (and far from the last!) to deal with critics as an entrepreneur, and there is lots of wisdom to be gained from those who have “been there, done that.”

We asked our community on our Facebook Page to share some of their experiences. Here is some of the great advice they shared:

  • Find misconceptions, and share the facts. Howard Fidler from Minnesota writes: “Find out what their objection is and then give them facts to overcome it,” and Marcia Flach from Texas suggests: “Ask them questions!” This is always a great strategy. By asking specific questions you can uncover the reason for the criticism. It may be that the person you’re talking to misunderstands some aspect of your business or is making certain incorrect assumptions. By providing facts that counter the misconception, you can overcome the objection and possibly create a new customer or business partner. 
  • Respect differences of opinion. Occasionally, you and the critic may just disagree on certain points. And that’s OK too. Respect their right to disagree with you, and leave things on a friendly note. You never know when, down the line, someone may have a change of heart. If you’ve left the door open and friendly, they may eventually come back to you! As Mark Arsenault from California says, “Be pleasant, then go achieve massive success!”
  • Know when to move on. Sometimes you need to realize that no matter what you say, someone doesn’t want to hear your side. And that’s OK. There are plenty of other people who will be open to learning more about your business. As both Robyn Mohs from Montana and Christina Ortiz from Texas shared…”Next!”
  • Refuse to dwell on negativity. Sometimes, even after the critic has stopped talking, we continue to think about what he or she said, running it over and over in our minds. And too much of this can stop you in your tracks. Don’t let it keep you from focusing on your own success. John Taylor advises: “Move on. Life is too short to deal with Negativity!!!!”

Finally, we leave you with these wise words from Kelley Michelle Barnett of Texas: “I was told to accept the word no, put a smile on and deal with it because when you least expect it you will get a yes and straight up positive.” Good advice indeed!

How do you deal with people who criticize your business? We’d love to read your advice in the comments below!