All posts tagged communication

What You Need to Know if You’re New to Sales

What You Need to Know if You’re New to Sales

A career in sales can be a rewarding one. It is an opportunity to harness your enthusiasm and excitement for a great product line, and embrace all that lies ahead. If you’re new to selling, however, there are some basics you’ll need to master in order to get in the right mindset and reach your professional goals. Read on for some tips on how to get started.

  • Ask questions to quickly find out what the problem is and/or what the customer needs. The product or service you’re selling is secondary. No one wants to feel like they’re being “sold to.” Your objective should be to find out what problem the customer has that needs solving. Do this right away, and as soon as you identify it, quickly explain the solution that your product provides. Your customers will be more open to what you have to say once they realize that they could benefit from what you’re selling.
  • Use language that is simple to understand. Don’t make the mistake of using business jargon or uncommon words in hopes of impressing the customer. Speak to them in a natural, conversational tone just as you would a friend. Remember that you’re building a relationship, so choose your words carefully and make a connection with the customer. Perhaps you both follow the same NFL team, or maybe you both have a child the same age. Use easy-to-understand language when describing your product just as you would while talking about the Broncos or your 2-year-old.
  • Create and describe a picture for the customer. Tapping into your customer’s imagination can be a very effective way to demonstrate his or her need for your product or service. For example, you’ve identified that the customer’s problem that needs solving is that the family dog constantly sheds year-round. Encourage your customer to visualize the dog hair on the couch that’s nearly impossible to vacuum, the daily morning ritual of de-linting his suits before leaving for work, and the feeling that the house is never truly clean because of dog hair dust bunnies that always appear even after the floor has just been swept. Now, when you propose your solution of more consistent grooming and a complementary de-shedding tool, you can create a different picture of a hair-free couch, clean suits, and shiny wood floors. By creating pictures, you’ve helped the customer compare their lives with the problem to what their lives could be with the solution you offer.
  • Ask more questions and listen carefully to their answers. This is especially true when you’re faced with objections or hesitation from the customer. Ask specific questions that get to the heart of the skepticism and truly listen to the answers. Some salespeople call this “getting to the no.” Instead of being afraid to hear the word “no,” get right to it so you can begin to address the customer’s concerns and overcome objections. Careful listening will help you focus your discussion to the customer’s specific needs.
  • Think of yourself as a guide. As a guide, it’s your job to lead the customer to the solution. Help him or her navigate the roadblocks such as price points, time commitments, or value. Don’t get your prospect lost by losing your focus and going off on tangents about irrelevant topics. Address each concern and demonstrate the effectiveness of your proposed solution. Putting yourself in the role of guide will give you a more personable approach to sales.

The art of selling is one that is developed over time. The more experience you gather, the more confident and capable you will become.

What else do you think should be added to our list? Please share your ideas below!

How To Be Better in Business

How To Be Better in Business

The conscious choice to improve the way you do business is necessary to grow your business and move it forward. It is always a good idea to focus on one small area at a time so as not to spread yourself too thin. Consider the following suggestions for improving the way you do business.

  • Always look for new and better ways to do things. Sometimes we just get stuck in our old habits without thinking of better ways to do things that might be more efficient. For instance, even though you have been paying your bills online for years, you still find yourself with paper statements and an overflowing filing cabinet that needs to be cleaned out at the end of every calendar year. An easy solution would be to sign up for e-bills through your bank’s online bill paying system and/or paperless statements through your vendors themselves. Create an online filing system that works for you, and back everything up on an external hard drive or via cloud storage such as Norton or Carbonite. New and better ways of doing simple things are becoming available all the time, so take advantage of accessible resources.
  • Think of “no” as “not yet.” Perhaps one of the hardest things about owning a business is hearing the word, “no.” It may be from a potential customer, a recruit, or an existing client. Instead of taking “no” as the final word, think of it as, “I’m not ready for this yet,” or “I need more information about why I need this.” Adjusting your mindset when wearing your salesperson hat will prevent you from giving up too easily or shrugging off the follow-up questions you should be asking. Even if you only acquire one additional sale out of 5 or 10 by adopting this approach, it will be worth it to your confidence and to your bottom line.
  • Build lasting relationships to grow your business. Relationships with everyone you work with from colleagues to clients are the heartbeat of your business. Build new ones, nurture existing ones, and always demonstrate sincerity. Make an effort to learn something personal about your customers, especially something to which you can also relate like hobbies and family life. Find out from your staff what you can do to enrich their experience working for you or help them with something they’d like to improve. When others know you truly care, lasting relationships can be built.
  • Continue taking calculated risks. When considering taking a risk, make sure you are fully informed about the pros and cons and have a backup plan ready for the worst case scenario. Don’t fear risks so much that you never take them, as that can cause your business to remain static. Use your existing knowledge and skill set, research necessary information, and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of your decision.
  • Develop a reputation for excellence. It is better to do one thing extremely well than to do several things at a mediocre level. Focus on one aspect of your business, and strive to be the best at that one thing. For example, your bakery offers everything from freshly baked breads to custom made cakes. Your real strength, however, is that crumb cake that everyone raves about. Promote that particular product and consider creating new ways to use it, such as in bite-sized packages for gift baskets or kids’ parties. Your customers will always be able to count on your excellent crumb cake and because of your consistently high quality, they’ll branch out to your other offerings as well.

Don’t be overwhelmed by all the things you want to improve about your business. Just a few simple changes here and there can make a significant difference. What else should be added to our list? Please share your ideas below!

Effective Ways to Learn Something New

Effective Ways to Learn Something New

Don’t be fooled by the old saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” If you want to learn something new, you CAN do it. Perhaps your industry has adopted new technology, created a groundbreaking product, or maybe you just want to improve yourself personally. By taking your learning seriously and committing your time and effort to the task, you can accomplish your goal. Use the following suggestions to help you along the way.

  • Write down what you want to learn. Don’t underestimate the power of this one simple step. Writing down a goal mentally prepares you for all that its completion may require. Additionally, you can sort out what details are involved in tackling this endeavor. When writing down what you want to learn, include an objective, map out a plan of action, and give yourself benchmarks and deadlines. It’s also a good idea to write a few sentences about why you want to do this…what are the benefits you’ll enjoy as a result? Any time you get frustrated or encounter an obstacle, reread those sentences to regain your motivation.
  • Commit to a lot of studying and practicing. When Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty,” he really was on to something. Think of anyone who has achieved greatness in any area of sports, entertainment, business, etc. When you take on something new, there will be a great deal of research, studying, and practicing. It is crucial that you incorporate time for this into your day in order to make progress towards your goal.
  • Embrace your mistakes and adjust them to improve. Although making mistakes is frustrating, instead of letting them get you down, embrace them as learning experiences. Use those mistakes to modify your approach and improve. Almost nothing is done right on the first try. Mistakes are part of the process, and using them to your advantage will bring you closer to your objective.
  • Visualize yourself doing it. Mental preparation is a significant part of any kind of performance-based task. The next time you are out for your morning jog, sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, or lying in bed at night waiting to fall asleep, use your mind’s eye to picture yourself doing or using whatever you are setting out to learn. Doing this regularly helps boost your motivation and confidence.
  • Personalize it and make it a part of who you are. In order to truly incorporate something new into your life, it has to become a habit. Think about how you can personalize your new knowledge so that it gets worked into who you already are. For example, if you want to learn about photography and need to practice how/when to use different shutter speeds, incorporate that task into your existing routine. Do you regularly take your children to the park, attend sporting events, or just relax with your family at home on a Sunday? Use those opportunities, things you normally do, to practice using your camera correctly and experiment with different lighting situations. If you personalize your task, you are much more likely to stick with it and see it through to completion.

Taking on something new to learn is a brave and exciting journey. Prepare yourself mentally and commit to hard work.

What strategies have you used to learn new thing? Please share your ideas below!

How to Empower Yourself

How to Empower Yourself

There is so much in life that we can’t control, and you may sometimes feel powerless when things don’t go as planned. However, by learning to empower yourself, you can begin to have a more positive outlook on life and enable yourself to succeed. The following suggestions can help you feel more in control, and allow you to better enjoy both your professional and personal life.

  • Remember that your past failures don’t predict the future. Think of that big test you failed back in high school; did it prevent you from graduating? Did that time you knocked over the cone while parallel parking stop you from becoming a good driver? Past failures are nothing more than learning experiences. Instead of dwelling on them, figure out what you can actually learn from them. That test you failed probably taught you how to study more effectively for future tests, just as that parking incident helped you realize that you need to adjust your mirrors differently. Learn from your mistakes and move on. Empower yourself by taking control of your past to succeed in the future.
  • Lower the threshold for good things and raise it for bad things. Don’t make mountains out of molehills, but changing your perspective can show you what’s really important in life. This morning, for example, you woke up healthy and able to take on your day.  Realize what a great thing that is, and don’t take it for granted. On the other hand, remember that spilling your coffee on the way to work isn’t the worst thing that can happen; your house catching fire is more along the lines of something really bad happening that can change your life. Empower yourself by taking a moment to be grateful for all the positive things you have, big and small.
  • Eat healthier and exercise. A nutritionist wrote on her blog, “Note to self: when I eat badly, I feel badly.” This couldn’t be more true. Of course we all indulge once in awhile, but implement a healthy eating regimen if you don’t have one already.  Additionally, make sure you are getting at least 30 minutes of exercise 3 times a week. Do something you enjoy, like power walking, taking a kickboxing class to relieve stress, or play some Wii Fit in the privacy of your own home. The better you treat your body, the better you will feel.  Empower yourself by being as physically healthy as possible.
  • Make a list of everything good in your day. This is especially important when you’re feeling like everything is going wrong. For example, did your children wake up smiling and happy to see you? Great! Add it to the list. Did a customer express her satisfaction with your service today? Put it on that list. Empower yourself by recognizing and appreciating the positive.
  • Look for and expect something great each day. Every day will have something good in it, so be on the lookout for it. If you expect greatness in your life, you’ll find that it comes more easily because you will be open to recognizing it as it happens. Being a business owner is something most people don’t have the courage to undertake, so at the end of each day, if nothing else, take a minute to pat yourself on the back. You completed another day, achieving your dream and doing what you love. Empower yourself by developing an upbeat attitude and an optimistic point of view.

By making some adjustments to your mindset, you will feel more empowered to take on your world and reach your goals. How do you empower yourself on a daily basis? Please share your ideas below!

What You Need to Grow a Business

What You Need to Grow a Business

Congratulations! You’ve done something significant: you’ve launched a business and are maintaining a certain degree of success. Since the initial startup period has long since passed, it may be time to start thinking about how to take your business to the next level. You might think that doing so may take just as much “blood, sweat, and tears” as starting up your business from scratch, but there are simple things you can do right away to grow your business and continue achieving your goals.

  • Prepare financially and be ready to grow. Expanding your business will most likely require some sort of financial investment, such as a new marketing plan or travel costs for attending conventions and networking events. It is just as important now that you plan for these added costs as it was when you started the business. Are you prepared to see a slow return on your investment? Will investing this money take away from other key elements of your business? Once you’ve prepared yourself financially, make sure you are in the right mindset. Business growth will likely put more demands on your time. How will that impact your existing customers and your family? Only you can answer those questions, so make sure you are okay with the answers before you take the leap into business growth.
  • Think big and outside the box. One of the most successful entrepreneurs of our time, Donald Trump, wrote that “as long as you are going to be thinking anyway, think big.” Why put limits on what you can accomplish? You may not achieve every single dream, but selling yourself short before you even begin only keeps you where you are. Look for ways to grow your business that have large-scale impact. Be creative and try coming up with something original. You can always dial it back later.
  • Increase marketing. Growth cannot happen without some level of increased marketing. Assess your current marketing plan by figuring out what specifically is working and what is not. Eliminate the weak points and expand on the strong ones. If there is an untapped customer base or a marketing method you haven’t tried yet, give it a shot. You won’t be able to grow without adding to your bottom line, and that can’t be done without attracting more customers. Research what options will give you the greatest return on your investment and proceed full steam ahead.
  • Diversify and expand your team. Your team should consist of people whose strengths complement yours and each other’s. When looking to add to your team or staff, seek out different types of people. For example, you’ll want people who are strong face-to-face sellers, others who have a head for numbers and projections, and still others who are creative and contribute originality. A team that can pool their strengths and work together toward a common goal has the potential to be unstoppable.
  • Listen to customers. Ask them for their feedback about a variety of topics, including what new products they’d like to see, how service can be improved, what made them come to you as opposed to a competitor, etc. Customer loyalty has a huge impact on the success of your business, so it makes sense to pick their brains about how you can improve and grow. They will also appreciate your interest in their opinions.

Your business growth potential is limited only by your imagination. Use your available resources, your own expertise, and feedback from your customers to begin a plan for expansion.

What else do you think should be added to our list? Please share your ideas in the comments section below!

How To Build a Long Term Business

How To Build a Long Term Business

When you start a business, you hope that it will grow, and ultimately succeed. If you don’t start out with the right mindset and the commitment to work your business for the long haul, however, you may be setting yourself up for failure.

Here are some suggestions to help you build your business for long term success.

  • Create personal relationships with your clients. Building relationships in business does not differ that much from those that exist in your personal life. Personal relationships grow out of having something in common, along with a sense of mutual trust, respect, and support. All of these elements are also required in your professional relationships. Ask your clients about their interests and find some common ground, such as a devotion to the same baseball team or a love for the performing arts. Once your clients can relate to you, a relationship can grow. With that connection, you become more than the owner of a business they frequent, and they become more than just another customer. The result: a loyal client who is likely to recommend you to others.
  • Ask for feedback and use it to improve. You should make it a habit to ask for feedback from your customers, employees, mentors, etc. This can be done in a variety of ways, especially when seeking out feedback from customers. Depending on the type of business, you can create an online or paper survey, speak to them face-to-face, or incorporate it into a courtesy call. After collecting their opinions, reflect upon your findings and use the information to improve. For example, when following up with a customer regarding a recent order, you ask her what she thought about how you handled the sale. The customer’s response is mostly positive, but she does state that she found the online ordering portion of your website difficult to navigate. It might be wise to ask other customers if they had the same issues. If so, take the time to update the site and make the ordering process faster and more convenient. Asking for feedback is not always easy, but it can be an effective way to build your business for the long term.
  • Build value that exceeds what customers pay for. You may or may not have much flexibility in terms of product pricing. What you can control, however, is the value of a product. Show customers how it will solve a problem, how versatile it can be, and what services they will get by patronizing your business. Customers are usually willing to pay a little more for something when the experience of it all exceeds anything they would get elsewhere. What do you have to offer that your competitors don’t? The answer to that question will help you build value into your products and services, as well as setting up your business to prosper for a long time.
  • Do what you are passionate about. You’ll never last in a business doing something you don’t care about. Owning a business takes creative vision, time, and a multitude of other skills to make it flourish. What will drive you to continue if you don’t enjoy what you do? Look deep into yourself when deciding what kind of business to build. Perhaps you’ve always had a flair for cooking and are passionate about eating cleanly and naturally. If that is something that you’ve made a part of your daily life, it would no doubt make for a potentially successful business idea. Our passions motivate us to succeed, so choose something that you love doing.

What else would you include in your recipe for a successful long term business? Please share your ideas below!

Why Are Customers Attracted to You?

Why Are Customers Attracted to You?

It’s no secret that consumers have many choices when it comes to where they purchase a product or service.  In most cases, the same product can be found at a local retail store, a big box chain, and at several online marketplaces.  With all this competition, it’s important for small business owners to recognize and appeal to customers’ attraction to your particular business.  Giving them a reason to choose you is not as difficult as you may think. Read on to find out why you possess an edge over your competitors.

  • They trust you.  You consistently provide an exceptional customer service experience.  You’re attentive, pleasant, knowledgeable of your products’ features and benefits, and you’re always willing to go the extra mile.  Not only that, but because customers are always dealing with you, a relationship can grow.  Wouldn’t you rather shop with someone who knows you by name, asks about your family, is familiar with your product needs, and can even anticipate them?  Most people are even willing to pay a bit more to have a shopping experience like this; if they know they aren’t being “sold to,” they will want to return as loyal customers because they trust that you have their best interests in mind.
  • They have a need for your product/service.  This is where it becomes imperative that you know how to demonstrate to your customers why they need your product.  Perhaps it offers little known but substantial health benefits, provides a solution to an everyday problem, or just makes life a little bit easier.  Knowing how to educate potential customers is a major asset to your business because you will be able to attract new people all the time.  Become an expert in what you’re selling and share your enthusiasm about the product with others.
  • It’s a great value.  Value isn’t always about the price.  Value is about the overall package.  As stated above, customers are usually willing to pay a little more for certain things, and a product’s value will determine how much more that is.  For example, your window treatments, although competitively priced, may not be the cheapest available.  What you can offer, however, is a guarantee that the work isn’t completed until the customer is satisfied with the result.  You also offer free lifetime consultations on any room in the house after the purchase of just one other window treatment.  A service like that can tip the scales in your favor when a customer is deciding who to shop with.  Find ways to increase the value of your products and services, and your customers will be more attracted to your business than some of your lower-priced competitors.
  • You help them through the buying process.  Making the choice to buy something can be stressful for many people.  All the choices of where to go and what to buy can be overwhelming to say the least.  Do everything possible to help your customers make their way through the process from start to finish.  Yes, there is a chance that they decide not to buy from you in the end; however, your personalized service will make a positive impression that likely bring that customer back to you in the future and even recommend you to others.  Remember to listen, be patient, and offer your expert advice through every step of the process.

Why do you think customers are attracted to you?  Please add your ideas to our list in the comments section below!


DSEF & CBBB: 7 Tips for Optimizing Your Professional Profile Blog

DSEF & CBBB: 7 Tips for Optimizing Your Professional Profile Blog

By Lindsey Max

Mashable lists 7 tips for ensuring you have the best online professional profile:

1)      Keep it up to date: Post as often as you can with any new changes, statements, or recommendations. Try getting a new recommendation once a month; or, if you receive multiple recommendations at once, spread them out in your postings.

2)      Refresh your keywords and specialties: Find popular terms from job search websites that describe specifically what you do and integrate them into your profile. Be careful not to overuse these keywords, however, and be sure to include them in a natural way.

3)      Be Everywhere: Create multiple online profiles, making sure your message is consistent throughout all of them. Participate in online discussions, post recommendations, and comment on blogs to get yourself out there!

4)      Get the recognition you deserve: Don’t be modest! If you have received any awards or have had special accomplishments, SHARE THEM!

5)      Diversity your professional and peer recommendations: Having recommendations from more than one group will add to your credibility. Don’t have all your recommendations come from your coworkers at your previous job, for example.

6)      Request personal and professional recommendations: Ask for specific recommendations, but always remember to say thank you. It is very important to show your appreciation, and little things like a thank you note or a $5 Starbucks card may help more than you think.

7)      Get involved in groups on LinkedIn and other job forums: Look for LinkedIn groups and job forums that relate to your specific career goals and get involved. Such groups and forums can be great ways to network with company executives and recruiters.

To read the full article, visit

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Using Instagram for Your Small Business

Using Instagram for Your Small Business

Instagram is a photo-sharing tool that has recently exploded onto the social media scene.  A free app that can be found on both the Apple and Android mobile platforms, it provides users with a novel way to connect with a whole new group of people.

According to Instagram’s website, “It’s a fastbeautiful and fun way to share your photos with friends and family.  Snap a picture, choose a filter to transform its look and feel, then post to Instagram.  Share to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr too – it’s as easy as pie. It’s photo sharing, reinvented.”

If you regularly take pictures on your phone and share them with others, you should consider using Instagram as a networking and marketing tool.

How you can benefit from Instagram:

  • Capture moments from your business events.  Photos of conferences, openings and special celebrations can be filtered to capture the tone or mood of an image.  These can then easily be sent right to a tab or album on your business Facebook page.  Clients and contacts who visit the page will be able to get a feel for what kind of energy existed at these events and may be motivated to learn more about your business. And once you share photos from Instagram to Facebook, it’s easier to access and use these photos in other places, like Pinterest and your website, as well.
  • Make your business feel more real by taking and sharing photos from around the office, your production process, etc.  Before someone signs on to work with you, they can get a glimpse of what it might be like to actually work in your business.  What does a typical day look and feel like?  These images can share many valuable details about the day to day of your business environment.
  • Share photos as subtle business messages.  Your business can take pictures of happy customers for instant testimonials, parties, fundraisers, and training events to share with customers, contacts and team members. Share photos of people having fun with your products, too. By using appropriate tags, users will be able to find them easily.  Remember that Instagram is a social network, so you should share these images as well as images that are personally important to you.
  • Connect with a new group of people. Use Instagram to browse other photos that appeal to your personal and professional interests.  By following users who share such images, you can connect with a wider range of people who may become part of your broader business network. Remember to give as much as you get by taking the time to like and comment on images that appeal to you.
  • Engage with customers regularly by inviting them to share photos of themselves using your products on your Facebook wall.  Encourage users to comment on photos and even hold a contest where people vote on their favorite every month.  Instagram can be a tool that helps you keep an ongoing conversation about your products and business.

Maintaining a social media presence can be overwhelming if you try to participate in too many.  Don’t rush to use Instagram if you don’t feel you have the time to invest in it right now.  It’s a great tool for those who already enjoy taking and sharing pictures.  Now you can use that passion to benefit your business.

Are you already using Instagram in your business?  How have you benefitted from it?  Please share your ideas in the comments section below!

Four Ways to Improve Your Chance of Success

Four Ways to Improve Your Chance of Success

When you start a business, you no doubt take measures well in advance to maximize your chance of success.  You write up a business plan, choose a location, and procure financing.  Even with lots of research and preparation, it can be difficult to predict how well your business will perform.

Here are some tips on improving your chance of success.

  1. Master your networking skills.  Put simply, networking consists of building mutually beneficial working relationships.  Effective networking will work wonders for your business in a variety of ways.  You will be able to reach a wider customer base, exchange ideas with fellow small business owners, get advice from successful entrepreneurs, and even create professional partnerships.  Start by contacting your local chamber of commerce, attending industry conventions, establishing your internet presence, and by getting involved in the community (volunteering, hosting events).  You should consider networking to be a mandatory responsibility to the growth of your business.
  2. Tune out negativity.  Sometimes it is difficult to avoid hearing negative talk from others.  Perhaps those around you doubt your abilities, maybe they’re trying to prepare you for failure, or it could be that they simply don’t understand your desire to be your own boss.  The good news is that none of this matters.  As long as you believe in yourself, you can succeed.  Learn to tune out the negativity that others put out by creating positive self-talk, developing a mantra, and reminding yourself of your own strengths and accomplishments.  Seek out others who share your goals and views and who will add to your self-confidence, not diminish it. 
  3. Keep taking risks.  You’ve already taken the biggest risk of all by starting your business.  You will be faced with a great number of decisions that carry some level of risk throughout your career as a business owner.  Don’t be afraid to take risks just because there is a chance of failure or a setback.  For example, a veteran small business owner decides he wants to broaden his exposure and market himself as an expert in his field.  To begin, he has booked some local speaking engagements at vocational schools and community colleges.  It’s risky for him to take time away from his business to try public speaking, something completely new.  However, the potential for him to market himself as a brand can have positive impact on the business.  The risk is definitely worth it.  As long as you make educated decisions about your business and have backup plans in place in case of unforeseen events, risk-taking can lead to great success.
  4. Hire wisely.  No one is good at everything.  You may be brilliant at interacting with others and face-to-face selling, but horrible with organization and accounting-type tasks.  This is where it becomes extremely important to hire people who can make up for those weaknesses.  If you don’t have a head for numbers, look to bring on board someone who is.  You wouldn’t attempt to build a tree house if you didn’t know a hammer from a hatchet, so don’t do it with your business.  Identify your weaknesses, and hire people who are good at those things so your business prospers.

Owning a business does require some trial and error, but if you are prepared with the important things and follow the above suggestions, your chances of success are greatly improved.

What else do you think should be added to this list?  Please leave your ideas in the comments section below!