Monday, July 9, 2018

July Newsletter

Develop a good elevator speech.

An elevator speech is a short and sweet summary that describes a product or service and its primary benefit. It’s called an elevator speech because it delivers the summary in the time it takes for a short elevator ride, usually somewhere between 30 and 90 seconds.

A good elevator speech is a useful business tool.

Jill Konrath, founder of STBB, explains why, "In today’s fast-paced world, the average person is bombarded with thousands of marketing messages from multiple mediums every single day. Advertising is everywhere— television, radio, road signs, e-mail, banner ads, direct mail, clothing, pens, newspapers, and magazines. These pervasive and often intrusive methods of capturing attention have created a backlash; most people don’t even notice them anymore."

The process of creating your elevator speech is a great way to get focused on what your company’s central message should be. Having a concise, powerful statement that describes what you do and that reveals a benefit that is appealing to the self-interest of your listener will serve you well with prospective investors, employees, and vendors.

Things to remember:

• Shorter is better. I limit my elevator speech to 30 seconds.

• Do not use jargon or technical terms.

• Do not use business clich├ęs such as, "We offer a ‘best of breed’ solution for . . ."

• The fewer the syllables and the shorter the words and sentences the better.

Your elevator speech should be delivered with enthusiasm. If you’re not excited about what you’re offering, why should the listener be?

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Monday, June 18, 2018

Guest Article By Leslie Wells

Are you motivated by your feelings or habits?
By Leslie Wells

Every sales professional experiences good and bad days. We are only human and if you expect yourself to be enthusiastic and pumped every day, you are in for a rude awakening. There will be days when you simply do not feel like prospecting or selling. However, when you are presented with those days, do you give in to your feelings or do you rely on your discipline and habits?

Habits are those actions that we simply do on an ongoing basis without thinking about it. Laziness is a habit, gossiping is a habit, procrastination is a habit, being late is a habit, cursing is a habit and being disciplined is also a habit. When we want to change something within our lives, whether it be personal or professional, we are simply swapping one set of habits for another. Any habit starts with our awareness, self-talk and our willingness to carry out what we ask of ourselves to do. When you give in to any type of habit, you give yourself permission and accountability to act accordingly.

One of the most important habits that we can develop is self-discipline. Self-discipline is a powerful tool that can work wonders in both our personal and professional lives. However, many of us never develop this tool or have a very weak development of it and can certainly use some strengthening when it comes to carrying out what we request or need ourselves to do. One way to develop this all important habit is to take small steps and small bites of the elephant. For example, If you dread prospecting via the phone but know that you need to plant more seeds for sales, set a goal and hold yourself accountable to start with just 5 calls on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Once you have accomplished this goal, then gradually increase the number of calls or days. Or you can set a timer for a certain amount of time such as 10 minutes each day, eliminate all other distractions during that time frame and focus on the task of prospecting. Tell yourself if you don’t prospect during the time that you have set aside, your only other option is to sit there and do nothing. Give yourself a hard choice between the two. Eventually the task of phone prospecting will become a part of your routine, a habit, a task that you simply do because it is ingrained in you to do.

If you feel that you will do better by participating in a group as opposed to developing self discipline by yourself, find a support group. A support group will provide you accountability and motivation to carry out what you desire to accomplish and the simple act of repeating your efforts will help you develop the habit of self discipline as well.

Another challenge that often stands in the way of developing the almighty habit of self-discipline is fear or discomfort. Using the example of prospecting via the phone once again, we all know that this act can be uncomfortable. Anyone that has participated in cold calling a prospect has experienced rejection and rejection can certainly move you out of your comfort zone but your reality is truly shaped by your perception. If you adapt the perception that any rejection that you receive is not personal, since your prospect does not know you on a personal basis, this should lessen the fear and discomfort. Viewing your discomfort in a positive light or a more beneficial light will enable you to move toward and conquer your challenge as opposed to avoiding it.

When you become enlightened and aware of something that you would like to change, you open the door to make that change because you focus your attention on what needs to transition. You can change anything that you acknowledge; however, if you ignore it, avoid it, or refuse to accept it, you will not change it.

Being moved by your feelings also stands in the way of implementing the habit of self-discipline. How often have you thought about not prospecting because you simply did not feel like it? Feelings are driven by emotions and we can experience a number of feelings from day to day. In the word emotions, the key word is motion and emotions do just that, they move and change from one day to another. Just because you feel a certain way today, does not mean that you will feel the same way tomorrow or one hour from now. Feelings come and go.

As a sales professional, you want to rely on your discipline and habits, not your feelings. When one of those days come around when you simply do not feel like prospecting or selling, learn to be your own accountability partner and demand of yourself to follow through regardless. Or find a support group that will help you step outside of your feelings. If you need to create better habits for yourself or if you need to be more disciplined, acknowledge this and start working on the change. Jim Rohn, an excellent entrepreneur and motivational speaker, stated that discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. Habits will carry you to the finishing line of success every time, giving in to your feelings will not.

Leslie Wells is the owner of L. Wells and Associates, Inc. , a new business development firm that specializes in helping small to medium size organizations, schools and childcare centers with expanding their customer base through sales coaching and training, marketing strategy and various calling campaigns. L. Wells and Associate's many sales strategies have made a difference with several entrepreneurs, companies and sales professionals. In her spare time she enjoys a really good book, a movie with an unpredictable plot and traveling. To find out more about L. Wells and Associates, please visit

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

June Newsletter

Have an interesting story.

Why was Solomon recognized as the wisest man in the world? Because he knew more stories (proverbs) than anyone else. Scratch the surface in a typical boardroom and we’re all just cavemen with briefcases, hungry for a wise person to tell us stories. — Alan Kay, Disney Fellow at Walt Disney Imagineering

You’ll make your business more memorable if you have a story with an interesting, entertaining, or surprising element. Publicists call this a "hook." People like a good story, and if you have one, the likelihood of getting publicity increases.

I have an acquaintance who started an auto alarm company. How he developed his theft prevention product makes for an interesting story.

Who would know more about car theft, he reasoned, than car thieves themselves. He located (don’t ask me how) several convicted car thieves and learned their tricks and methods for heisting cars. Based on this knowledge, he developed a state-of-the-art product.

Although he never referred to his thief advisors in his advertising, he did use it in his news releases which were widely published in the business press.

Also, consider the story of the second grade teacher who invented an anti-cold supplement, which enhanced the immune system. She invented it, as the story goes, out of self-defense. Her story fires the imagination and conjures up images of second graders sneezing and coughing, filling the air with germs. Her story is one to which buyers can relate.

Remember your excitement and interest as a child when you heard the words, "Once upon a time . . ."? Good stories appeal to the same emotions. A story well told makes your readers feel that they are experiencing it with you.

For it to work they must identify with the characters. They always want a happy ending.

People rarely remember exactly what you say or do. Their strongest memory of you is how you make them feel. Stories make them feel good.

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May Newsletter

Starting a business? Should you buy or build?

Making good decisions is a crucial skill at every level. —Peter Drucker

A neighbor of mine, who is a classic car aficionado, went to a large classic car show in Los Angeles. One of the vehicles was a beautiful, fully restored 1955 Ford pickup truck. He struck up a conversation with the owner who asked him if he would like to buy it. My friend told him he couldn’t afford it. The owner said, "Make me an offer." My buddy told him that anything he could offer would be far below the value of the vehicle.

"Try me," the owner said.

"Okay," my friend said, "I’ll give you five grand."

Without hesitation the owner said, "Sold!"

It turns out that the owner was an attorney who owned a collection of a dozen more classic vehicles. He jokingly told my neighbor that his wife had instructed him not to come home with the truck. To bring a vehicle up to the pristine condition of the truck would have taken months and cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Business sellers often have a far more compelling reason to sell than the truck owner had. Retirement, divorce, a pressing need for cash, and a host of other personal reasons may motivate them.

Depending on the type of business you want, it may be far cheaper to buy it than to start one from scratch. This is especially true if costly equipment is required. When you consider the time and money saved by avoiding recruiting and training a staff, start-up advertising and marketing, acquiring equipment, negotiating a lease, and dealing with regulatory agencies, there may be some real bargains out there. Many sellers include a training period for the new owner as part of the deal.

Heed this warning: To go this route, you need professional help from an accountant as well as from an attorney who is experienced in business sales. This is no time to skimp. Hire the best and avoid headaches down the road.

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April Newsletter

Don’t call me. I’ll call you.

I sympathize with anyone trying to make a living by cold-calling prospects. It’s a tough hustle, and only a few succeed at it.

Because of the unprofessional telephone sales tactics of some, the well has been poisoned for all. Yet, despite the difficulty of selling on the phone, the calls keep coming in.

Anyone in business is forced to take defensive measures against unwanted phone solicitations.

While you may refuse to accept unsolicited sales calls, never ask anyone to lie for you, as in, "Tell him I’m not in." This is bad business form and shows weak leadership.

When a salesperson calls, have whoever is taking the call instruct the caller to send an e-mail. Have the screener ask the caller to put STAR in the subject line of the e-mail so you will know the person has called and you won’t summarily delete the e-mail. This makes the rejection easier for the caller and, who knows, you may have an interest in what is being sold or proposed. Although unlikely, the call could also be about a wonderful business opportunity.

Of course, the most effective junkyard dog of a gatekeeper is voice mail. I worked with one CEO whose voice mail message concludes with, "If I don’t know you or the reason you’re calling, please don’t expect a return call."

There will be times when you will be the one making the cold call. You may be calling to discuss an affiliate arrangement, check out a reference, or other business not related to selling. While you won’t be selling anything, you will be screened as if you were. Your call will be much more likely to be put through if you give your company and your name and title and state the reason for your call and add, "Please tell her that this is not a sales call."

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Monday, April 2, 2018

March Newsletter

Beware the "expert."

The expansion of the Internet has given rise to a multitude of people who present themselves as experts. Many aren’t, and doing business with them can be very costly.

No matter how slick their marketing or how cool their website is, I strongly suggest that you request a half-dozen referrals. Take the time to contact these referrals and ask questions about their experience with the company. Ask questions about price, delivery, and the quality of the work performed.

I once made the mistake of not doing my homework on a company offering expert website development. We discussed all the elements and functionality required for the website. I was assured that it was a "piece of cake" to get me everything I needed. I was told the job would take about three weeks.

After many phone calls and meetings which seemed pointless, it slowly dawned on me that I was not dealing with experts, but rather a company that held itself out as expert.

After eight weeks, I called the CEO and held his feet to the fire. He promised to complete the site within 10 days. It was completed; however, it took an additional three weeks, and the site never did function correctly. I had to spend more money troubleshooting and correcting the problems.

The company’s initial low price was not a bargain, considering the lost time and what I had to do to get the site up and running.

I later learned that the delays were caused because the company was sending the work offshore, and it was having difficulty managing the relationship with the foreign company.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

February Newsletter

Learn to read people.

Body language is a very powerful tool. We had body language before we had speech, and apparently, 80 percent of what you understand in a conversation is read through the body, not the words. - Deborah Bull, English entertainer

Police detectives, professional poker players, and successful deal makers have one thing in common: they all know how to read people.

At least 80 percent of human communication is nonverbal. Eye movement, posture, arm positioning, hand gestures, facial expressions, voice inflection, and other subtle and unintentionally sent messages can be read and interpreted. Plenty of learning resources on this subject exist. Take advantage of them. Your ability to read people pays big dividends in your professional and personal life.

Beyond business, there are dozens of life situations in which knowledge of body language pays off. Whether you’re making a major purchase, interviewing, dealing with coworkers or even with those at the dinner table, it is a very useful skill.

Are you being lied to?

I’m certainly not an expert on reading body language, but I have made it a point to learn the basic signs that tell me I am being lied to. Here are a few things I look for:

If a person doesn’t use contractions in his or her speech, it’s an indication of lying. When you hear, "I did not do it;" instead of, "I didn’t do it," chances are that person is fibbing.

Also people offering a theory that removes them from suspicion such as, "I would not take the chocolates. I do not even like chocolate," and then offers an alternative theory, such as, "Maybe the cleaning crew took them," is probably lying.

A change in the tone of voice often also indicates deception. Tugging at one’s collar and crossing one’s arms are other indicators.

None of these behaviors viewed separately means much, but, you can rest assured that, if three or more are displayed, it’s a pretty safe bet that you are being lied to.

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