All posts tagged home business

Twist on Check Scam Targets Direct Sales Reps

Twist on Check Scam Targets Direct Sales Reps


By Emily Patterson

Reps for direct sales companies like Avon, Thirty-One Gifts and Mary Kay are finding themselves the targets of a new take on the classic check scam. Scammers pose as new customers and try to con consultants out of hundreds of dollars.

How the Scam Works:

You are a consultant for a direct sales company, and you receive an email or text message from a potential customer. The exact details of the situation vary. The “new customer” may simply request to purchase a few products, but some scammers provide an elaborate back story.  In one recent version, the scammer alleges to be working on a movie filmed nearby and urgently needs makeup for the actors.

The request seems like an easy sale, so you prepare the products and receipt. Then, your new “customer” sends you an urgent message. There was some mix up, and she/he accidentally sent a check for far more money than the purchase amount. The customer suggests that you fix the mistake by depositing the check, keeping the money for the purchase and wiring the remainder to someone else.

The stories given vary. Sometimes you are asked to wire money to a “doctor.” Other times, you are supposedly sending cash to the daughter’s wedding planner. No matter the tale, a few things are for sure. The check is a fake, and, if you withdraw money against it, you are out those funds.

Tips to Avoid Fake Check Scams:

Whether you are a professional direct sales consultant or simply selling a few items on Craigslist, check scams are common cons. Here are some tips:

  1. Be wary of checks received from unknown individuals: When selling to someone you don’t know, it is safer to accept cash or credit card payments.
  2. Do not accept overpayments: Don’t take checks for more than the sales price, no matter what convincing story the buyer tells you.
  3. Do not wire money to anyone you do not know: Wired money is extremely difficult to trace, and you will not be able to recover these funds. The same goes for pre-paid debit cards, a new favorite payment method for scammers.
  4. Confirm before you withdraw cash: A check can take several days to clear, and, until then, you are responsible for any funds withdrawn against it. To make sure the check cleared, call your bank… not the telephone number listed on the check.

For More Information

To find out more about scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper.

DSEF and the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) foster honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers—instilling consumer confidence and advancing a trustworthy marketplace for all.

About the Better Business Bureaus
As the leader in advancing marketplace trust, Better Business Bureau is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 87 million consumers rely on BBB Business Reviews® and BBB Wise Giving Reports® to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America. Visit for more information.

What The Olympics Can Teach You About Business

What The Olympics Can Teach You About Business from
What The Olympics Can Teach You About Business

What The Olympics Can Teach You About Business from http://dsef.orgWith the Winter Olympic Games having recently come to an end, it brings to mind how much these athletes have truly achieved. How do you think they got to the Olympics? The gold medal figure skater and all of her competitors surely couldn’t perform even the simplest jump the first time they got on the ice, just as those skiers couldn’t attempt more than a bunny slope the first time they put on skis. Each one of them completed a series of small achievements that eventually led them to the Olympics. As a salesperson, you should be setting benchmarks for yourself as well, small achievements that lead to great results. Here are our top three picks that will help you achieve your business goals.

  1. Find mentors to emulate. Who do you aspire to be like? Potential mentors could be people in your upline, or even in a completely different industry whose road to success is worthy of imitation. Identify your mentors’ work ethic, habits, education, or whatever it is that deems them worthy of your aspirations. If possible, talk with them about how you can achieve your goals by following in their footsteps. For example, if you are looking to transition from working your business “on the side” to making it your full-time job with a full-time income, an appropriate mentor would be someone who has done exactly that. Use the resources available to you in order to achieve your goals.
  2. Make adjustments to your business and its direction as quickly as possible based on facts and results. When things aren’t going well or as you had planned, take a step back and analyze why this may be happening. As soon as you realize that you need to make a change, consult with mentors and use the information you have to adjust. For example, if you find that you are not booking enough future hostesses at each party, identify what it is about your presentation that may be lacking. Test out a new approach, review the results, and adjust if necessary. There is no sense in repeating an action that fails to deliver your desired outcome.
  3. Build a strong foundation for your business by avoiding shortcuts. Your business must be built on ethical business practices, knowledge of your product and company, a desire to improve via professional development, and a commitment to representing your company and serving customers to the best of your ability. If you take shortcuts in any way, your business will suffer. When your upline conducts regional workshops once a month, asking a colleague for a brief summary instead of attending yourself is a shortcut. Make it a priority to attend, listen to what is being taught, incorporate relevant matters into your business, and always strive for improvement. You cannot expect success without hard work. The positive side is that by putting in the work and avoiding such shortcuts, you are more likely to rise above the fray and meet your goals more quickly.

With each benchmark that you meet, you are one step closer to realizing your dreams. Furthermore, such benchmarks help you stay focused, which is critical when your goals are long-term. What do you think about our benchmarks? What would you add to our list? Please share your ideas below!

A Fantastic List of Resources to Grow Your Business

A Fantastic List of Resources to Grow Your Business

Are you looking for ways to grow your business? Increase your sales? Manage your time better? Here at DSEF, we’ve been providing content for years on these topics and many others, to help you build a more profitable and rewarding business.

So today, we decided to reach back into the archives and compile some of our posts by topic, to help you find the content that will help you with what you’re working on right now. Take some time to explore the posts below, and share them with your friends and colleagues. We wish you much success!

Grow Your Business from http://dsef.orgMarketing Your Business Online

Establishing Your Online Presence

4 Tips for Effective Online Marketing

Tips for Running an Effective Contest Online

5 Tips to Attract More People to Your Facebook Page

12 Tips for Successful Online Virtual Events

4 Ways Photos Can Help You Grow Your Business

Making Facebook Work for Your Business

Using Instagram for Your Small Business


Grow your Business from http://dsef.orgBusiness Growth

Free eBook: 15 Days to Greater Success

3 Things You Must Do Now to Grow Your Business

Reaching Your Target Market in Different Generations

6 Ways to Get in Front of More Customers this Holiday Season

7 Ways to Get More Customers

Planning for a Bigger Business: The 3:3:3 Approach

Free eBook: The Power of the Success Mindset


Tips for Business Growth from http://dsef.orgIncreasing Sales

5 Ways to Get More Sales From Existing Customers

3 Ways to Increase Your Average Customer Order

4 Ways to Master Your Sales Pitch

4 No-Cost Ways to Increase Sales



8 Ways to Be a Great Leader

What Your Team Needs

Leadership that Motivates


Time Management

Why You Procrastinate

Balance Without Sacrificing Business (How to Make your Business More Efficient)

How To Manage Your Time on Social Media


Grow Your Business from http://dsef.orgBusiness Finances

Creating a Budget for Your Small Business

10 Tips for Reducing Financial Stress

Tips for Taking Control of Your Business Finances


Which post has helped you the most with your business? Please share with us in the comments!

Tips for Running an Effective Contest Online

Tips for Running an Effective Contest Online

Tips For Running An Effective Online Contest from http://dsef.orgNow that Facebook has changed its Promotions Guidelines, allowing people to use Facebook features such as likes and comments to enter contests on the social network, the landscape has changed for small business owners and entrepreneurs. No longer do you need to use a third party application to engage your online community with a contest.

But just because it’s easier now to run a contest online, doesn’t mean there aren’t guidelines you should follow. Let’s explore some of the options you have for running a contest online, whether on Facebook or elsewhere, and look at some best practices.

  1. Choose a Goal for Your Contest: One of the biggest mistakes businesses make when hosting a contest is not having a goal. Before you set up any contest, make sure you know what business goal you want to accomplish as a result of the contest, that will justify the time and expense you will put in. For example, you may be hoping to collect email addresses for your mailing list, which will ultimately lead to more sales. You may wish to increase your Page’s likes and reach, which will lead to greater brand recognition. Whatever your goal, make sure you have one, because it will help you structure your contest to achieve that goal.
  2. Decide What Tool You’ll Use for Your Contest: Sure, Facebook is an easy choice for your contest, but it’s not the only choice. Depending on your goals and your budget, you might choose to host your contest on your blog, on a separate tab on your Facebook Page, or on a social network such as Pinterest or Instagram. If your goal is simply to gain likes and shares on Facebook, you may just want to do a contest post on your Facebook Page that encourages those user behaviors. If you want to collect user information, you may want to set up a contact form on your blog  (using a contact form plugin on your blog or a Google Docs form) or on a separate Facebook Landing Page (using a 3rd party application like Pagemodo) that will serve as your entry mechanism. If your goal is to engage users on social networks beyond just Facebook, you might use a Rafflecopter widget on your blog or website that provides additional entries for pinning, tweeting, Instagramming, commenting, etc.
  3. Choose a Motivating Prize: When you have a goal for your contest, you also have a good idea of who you want to reach. Make sure you understand what motivates that type of person, so you can choose a prize for your contest that will attract them. For example, if you want to attract people who would be interested in organizing products, you won’t give away a book about sports. Rather, you’d give away a book about how to organize, or a product that helps someone organize their home.
  4. Choose a Time Frame: Avoid a contest that lasts too long, or you’ll lose momentum and interest. Many contests are most effective when they last a week or less.
  5. Write Up Your Rules and Keep Them Simple: It’s a good idea to write down the rules for your contest ahead of time so that there are no misunderstandings that could alienate the very people you’re trying to reach with your contest. Include such things as how to enter, what people will win, the dates for the contest, and when and how you’ll announce the winner. They don’t need to be complicated, but make sure they’re easy to understand. Post these rules on your website or blog (or a separate Facebook landing page) and provide a link to them wherever people enter your contest.

A contest can be a great way to attract new people to your business. But you need a strategy behind your contest to attract the kind of people that you’re looking for. So take a little bit of time to plan your contest based on your goals, and you’ll enjoy greater success.

What’s your favorite way to run a contest online? What tips do you have for making a contest effective? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below!

Free eBook: 15 Days to Greater Success

Free eBook: 15 Days to Greater Success

What are your goals? Do you have a plan to put your goals into action?

Having a plan is very important when working towards your goals, but you need something else as well: momentum. While you may be able to get started, when there’s hard work to be done in reaching for what you want, your ability to build the momentum that keeps you moving forward is just as important as your plan.

15 days to greater success coverThat’s why we’re excited to share with you this free eBook we’ve developed called 15 Days to Greater Success. It helps you take your goals and break them down into 15-day journeys designed to help you build the momentum you need to succeed. For some goals, 15 days may be all you need. For larger goals, you can break them down into 15-day segments that lead you along the path to success. By following the plan laid out in this book, you’ll be well on your way to reaching your goals and enjoying the success you’re working for.

And best of all? It’s our FREE gift to you!

To get your free copy of the eBook, click here: 15 Days to Greater Success. You can download it from our Facebook Page. And while you’re there, you can download our other free eBooks too: Business Owner’s Road Map to Success, Creating Your Success Mindset, and Reflections on Success. They’re all designed to give you an edge in your business, and help you focus on the daily practices that lead to your goals.

Please share this link with the business owners you know:

How to build the momentum to reach your goals? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.

DSEF & BBB: Online Shopping Taxes to Be Implemented

DSEF & BBB: Online Shopping Taxes to Be Implemented

ecommerce3-150x150By Nicole Bradley

According to The Wall Street Journal, online purchases will soon be subject to taxes. The Senate has passed a bill putting an end to tax-free online shopping; however, the final vote is set to occur on May 6. This bill, titled the Marketplace Fairness Act, enforces states to require online sellers all over the country to collect sales tax on any online purchase made by their residents. In the past, online retailers have greatly benefited from not having to charge shoppers with sales tax. With this luxury coming to an end, Web stores are now part of corporate support helping to aid the passage of the new bill.

Chief Executive of eBay, John Donahoe, explains that this bill will damage smaller retailers in that it will treat them the same way larger merchants are treated; however, these larger merchants have greater tax-collection capabilities.

Is this fair? What do you think?

For more information visit,

DSEF and the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) foster honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers—instilling consumer confidence and advancing a trustworthy marketplace for all.

About the Better Business Bureaus
As the leader in advancing marketplace trust, Better Business Bureau is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 87 million consumers rely on BBB Business Reviews® and BBB Wise Giving Reports® to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America. Visit for more information.

4 Ways To Make Your Product Seem More Valuable and Desirable

4 Ways To Make Your Product Seem More Valuable and Desirable

Woman Carrying Gift BoxesYou probably think that your product line is the best one out there. After all, that’s why you sell it! And it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that because you understand the benefits, the value is obvious to everyone. But that’s usually not the case. And simply reciting a long list of features and benefits will likely lose you the sale. It takes a skilled salesperson to highlight products in a way that make them seem valuable and desirable to customers.

Here are some tips to make your products feel more valuable and desirable for your customers:

  1. Get people talking. The more you can get others talking about your products, the more valuable and desirable they will seem. So when your customers are happy with your products, ask them to tell a friend. Provide them with the “above and beyond” service experience that makes them want to jump on Facebook and tell all their friends to shop with you too. Record videos of your customers using your products (or ask them to provide videos) and feature them through your social media profiles. Post testimonials from happy customers on your Facebook Page and website so people see how great your products are. Run contests where people submit pictures of themselves using your products, and share those photos with their friends. It’s a human trait to want what others have and like. Capitalize on that to build the desire for your products.
  2. Skip the long features list. Presenting too many features and benefits can bore your customer, and cause them to become overwhelmed, so they buy nothing at all. Instead, listen carefully to your customer and ask questions that help you find out what is important to him or her. Then you can highlight just the features that are most relevant to that specific customer, which makes your product seem most valuable to him or her.
  3. Highlight ease of use. The easier you can make your product seem, the more valuable it will be in the eyes of your customer. Of course you don’t want to in any way misrepresent your product, but educating your customer on how to use your product so that they don’t have to struggle to figure it out later will help your customer make a purchasing decision. Rather than having to rely on the instructions that come in the box, they’ve already had an educated salesperson who has taken the time to explain the product, and shown how easy it is to use. That beats a nameless, faceless big box store with uneducated employees every day of the week, and makes it more likely you’ll get the sale.
  4. Offer a test drive. People love to “try before they buy,” so when possible, give people the chance to test out your products risk-free. Offer a money-back guarantee, or have samples they can use before they purchase.  When you let people use your product first, they can see for themselves how valuable your product is, which increases the likelihood that they will buy it, because they’ve integrated it into their routine.

When customers have a chance to use and understand your products, they are more likely to purchase for themselves, and tell their friends. How do you present your products so that your customers find them desirable and valuable? Would love to read your thoughts in the comments below.


Six Ways to Give Your Customers the Best Experience Possible

Six Ways to Give Your Customers the Best Experience Possible

Using Credit Card at RegisterYour business relies on your customers to keep it profitable and thriving. One of your top priorities should be to make sure each customer is getting the best possible experience each and every time he or she patronizes your business. It’s a good idea to interact personally with your customers on a regular basis so you can see first hand whether or not you are succeeding in this area.

    1. Write a clear statement about what your clients should expect from you. This may come in the form of a “Customer Bill of Rights” similar to what commercial airlines have created for their passengers that clearly states what each customer should expect. You might also include a basic statement in any marketing materials or other printed literature pertaining to your business. Stating expectations clearly in advance will prevent disappointment down the road.
    2. Keep track of how you have made customers happy. Perhaps you stayed past closing one day to make sure a customer could pick up his order on the way home from work. Maybe you rushed an order free of charge for a loyal customer in a jam or provided home delivery. Keep track of the extra things you do to satisfy your customers, so that you can provide concrete examples when training staff and promoting your business. Tracking such things can also lead to new ideas for improving customer service overall.
    3. Focus first on the the customer’s problem, not on your product. Each product or service you provide should be a solution to a customer’s problem. Solving problems should be your main focus. When you speak with a customer, be sure to ask specific questions to find out what the problem is and how best you can solve it. If you fail to do this and only focus on your product, the customer will feel like he or she is being “sold to” and will likely tune out.
    4. Take responsibility for everything. Even when you delegate tasks and projects to other team members, the responsibility ultimately falls on you. Make sure you keep yourself informed of all aspects of your business, whether or not you are directly involved. This goes for both successes and failures. Your customers should know that you have a personal stake in everything that goes on in your business because it holds you accountable and makes you seem trustworthy enough to deserve their loyalty.
    5. Make note of customers’ personal likes and dislikes. As you get to know your customers, make a note of personal preferences they may share with you. This will help you to more effectively tailor your customer service to their individual needs. Keep an index-card sized file box handy or keep track on your smartphone, and add to your notes regularly after seeing a customer. He or she will appreciate the individualized attention.
    6. Show your clients your appreciation for their business. Each and every customer should feel valued and appreciated by you. Sometimes a simple, “Thank you for choosing us; we look forward to seeing you again!” as a customer leaves can make a world of difference. Or send a handwritten thank you note to customers periodically. You can also get creative with how you demonstrate your appreciation by way of incentives and promotions. Find your own personal style, and make sure your customers know how you feel.

Improving customer interaction involves focusing on the customers’ needs first and holding yourself and your team accountable for the way you do business. What else would you add to our list? Please leave your comments below!


DSEF & BBB: Be Cool. Know About the “3 Day Cooling Off Rule”

DSEF & BBB: Be Cool. Know About the “3 Day Cooling Off Rule”

blue_with_website-225x30022By Myriam Cruz

One of the questions we often hear at BBB is how to cancel the purchase of a product or service. While there are various reasons for wanting to cancel, many consumers feel they are pressured into making a purchase or signing a contract. They often feel they don’t have all the necessary information to make an educated decision, hence the feeling of buyer’s remorse. However, the desire to cancel a purchase seems to be most often on sales made at a consumer’s home or at a location other than the company’s normal place of business. For purchases such as these, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has guidelines for consumers and businesses.

What Consumers Should Know

The FTC’s Cooling – Off Rule gives consumers three days to cancel purchases of $25 or more conducted at a buyer’s home – even if the salesperson is invited to make a presentation at the home, workplace or dormitory, or at facilities rented by seller on a temporary or short-term basis, such as convention centers, fairgrounds, and/or restaurants. The right to cancel for a full refund extends until midnight of the third business day after the sale and consumers do not have to give a reason for cancelling. However, there are exceptions.

Company’s Responsibility

The salesperson must tell consumers about their cancellation rights at time of sale and provide two copies of the cancellation form, along with a copy of the contract or receipt. The contract should be dated, show the name and address of the seller, and explain the right to cancel in the same language used in the sales presentation.

How to Cancel

To cancel, consumers need to sign and date a copy of the cancellation form – or a letter – and mail it to the address given for cancellation, making sure it is postmarked before midnight of the third business day after the contract date.

Upon cancellation, the seller has 10 days to:

·        Cancel and return any promissory note or negotiable instrument signed;

·        Refund all money and tell whether any product will be picked up; and

·        Return any trade-in

Within 20 days, the seller must either pick up any items left with the consumer or reimburse the consumer for mailing expenses if they agree to send back the items.

If consumers don’t make the items available to the seller and return them in good condition, they remain obligated under contract.

Handling Problems

Complaints regarding the Cooling Off Rule can be submitted online to the FTC or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP.

When have you experienced buyer’s remorse? What service have you had trouble cancelling?


DSEF and the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) foster honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers—instilling consumer confidence and advancing a trustworthy marketplace for all.

About the Better Business Bureaus
As the leader in advancing marketplace trust, Better Business Bureau is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 87 million consumers rely on BBB Business Reviews® and BBB Wise Giving Reports® to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America. Visit for more information.

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!