Wednesday, March 31, 2010

9 Ways to Increase Business Profits Quickly and Easily

Many business owners who operate a business want as many clients as possible, both those who have just started their business and those who have owned one for a long time. They are, however, not fully utilizing all of their assets as they could be in order to achieve their desired results.

The objective of increasing business profits isn’t only met by attracting more clients. There are several other reasons why a business doesn't make as much money as it should besides not having enough clients.

Here are a few simple, yet effective business coaching ideas that will help you unlock the hidden profits in business and also some reasons why things aren't operating at full potential as they should:

- Focus more time on the important matters - you may not have enough time available to boost your business, especially if you are the one who is serving clients on a regular basis. In this case, you should consider hiring somebody to help. Running a business takes a lot of work, so let the employees handle the day-to-day issues, while you take care of the important ones such as developing strategies for present and future growth. Set aside an hour each week to brainstorm ideas, implement strategies and nurture key business relationships.

- Carry out competitive intelligence on other businesses, especially the ones that are successful and emulate them. This doesn’t mean copying whatever they do. Take the best parts of your competitor’s business and apply them to your own. It is also very important to keep a close eye on the competition, regardless of the nature of your business. If you are running a restaurant, for example, you should inspect the services, the offers and the prices of the competition. By doing a little research on other businesses, you will be able to reorganize, improve your services, adjust the prices depending on the competition, as well as introduce new offers to your clients. By knowing what your competitors are up to, you will always be one step ahead of them.

- Spend less of your gross profit on overhead and ineffective marketing. Lease unused space in your office or warehouse. Track sales as a result of expense. Employ salespeople on a higher commission scale rather than a high base salary. Test and measure for effective marketing campaigns before dumping a ton of money on any marketing campaign that is doomed to fail from the start.

- Instead of competing on price, develop an ultimate strategic advantage™. Emphasize the qualities that make your business stand out and create a whole new positioning in the industry. Find out what really matters to your clients by surveying them and give it to them.

- Talk with clients and find out if they are delighted or not. Ask for suggestions. Dissatisfied customers will not return, while a delighted client will refer others.

- Nurture existing clients. Instead of focusing on acquiring new customers, concentrate on nurturing and maintaining the clients that you already have! Make sure they are pleased with the services you provide for them and pay attention to their needs, desires and complaints. It is very important to establish and maintain good relations with your clients, as they are the ones who keep your business running.

Many business coaching companies encourage selling more to existing clients because it improves a business bottom line by increasing the lifetime value of a client. It also brings new clients, attracted by positive experiences from your delighted clients. Referrals lower your acquisition cost through word-of-mouth marketing and this also adds to business profits.

- Up sell other products/services. Selling extras is known to be a great method of increasing profits. For example, grocery stores strategically place many magazines and snacks near the checkout. People browse and buy these while waiting in line raising the average dollar sale with these extras. McDonald’s is well-known for its up sell before a sale is completed by simply asking a simple question to add on more products (complete meal, fries, sundae, or apple pie).

- Increase your advertising - advertising is expensive but if things work well, the money will definitely return to you. You can also try to make the best use you can out of free advertising. Get the most out of promotions and limited offers, especially around holidays.

- Seek out business coaching advice. Having a comprehensive set of business strategies can help you further, by providing you with new efficient methods of increasing the profits of your business. To operate a business effectively long-term, most businesses will have to deploy several strategies in order to diversify their sources of leads and maximize their profitability through smart marketing, team building, and business process management.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

9 Ways to Improve Staff Morale

Staff turnover costs American companies millions of dollars every year. The cost of lost work days, interviewing candidates, reviewing resumes, checking references, filing paperwork and training the new staff member is much more expensive, in most cases, than creating a work environment where staff members are happy and want to stay. If you're worried about waning staff morale in your company, here are some things you can do to keep employees happy and productive.

Give bonuses. Even a little bonus can mean a lot. Bonuses improve morale and increase productivity. Explore the possibility of different bonus structures including: holiday bonuses, birthday week bonuses, sales bonuses, hire date anniversary bonuses, and education bonuses.

Plan a staff retreat. Time to relax and get to know your colleagues in a social environment improves teamwork and again, productivity. However, many people won't want to spend a weekend away from their families even if you put them up in a nice hotel. Think one-day staff retreats twice a year. Close the office on a work day and spend the day at a spa, golfing, at a theme park, going to dinner and a movie, hiking, kayaking, or at the zoo.

Pay for education. Most community colleges and computer centers offer relatively inexpensive classes to help people improve computer skills, management and leadership skills, or language skills. If an employee is willing to spend time taking one of these classes, reward him/her by reimbursing part of the tuition or giving them a completion bonus. The desire to increase education and learn new skills is an attribute of a good employee.

Involve their families. An annual holiday party or summer picnic is a great way to bring employees together along with their families. Even a barbeque at the park with a game of softball or water balloons can be a lot of fun. During the holidays, rent an ice skating rink or get everyone together to volunteer at a soup kitchen.
Buy new chairs and keyboard trays. Let your employees know that their comfort and safety is your concern. Most employees won't spend over $100 on a keyboard tray, but you could. And who wouldn't appreciate a top-of-the-line ergonomically-correct keyboard tray that adjusts for height and tilt with the touch of a finger? We found great deals at Versa Products

Have casual days. Casual Fridays are nice, but so are special casual days once a month. Let people come into work in jeans and comfortable shoes and they'll be in a better mood.
Free kraft services. Most employers provide coffee for their staff but the staff end up making it. Bring in healthy snacks once a week like a fruit basket, individual mini salads, or trays of bagels. You can also stock up on Stash or Tazo teas, biscotti, yogurt, granola bars and those 100-calorie bags of chips, cookies, and pretzels. Having lunch delivered once every couple of weeks is also a nice gesture and employees will appreciate the money they save from having to buy lunch out. Another fun event is to have the employees make lunch once a month. Alternate between the men and the women, different divisions of the company, etc. Make sure even upper management gets involved. Staff will learn new recipes and techniques from other employees and they'll have fun. The rest will enjoy eating!

Flexible schedules. If possible, give staff schedules that accommodate their needs and reduce commute time.
Gym memberships. Paying for their gym memberships or paying a Pilates instructor to come once a week after work is a nice way to encourage employees to stay fit.

Monday, March 29, 2010

9 Tips For Writing Better Business Letters

Copyright © Shaun R. Fawcett

It’s quite amazing how often business people fail to follow basic guidelines when it comes to writing their business correspondence. That might explain why so many people come to my writing help Web sites looking for help with their business letter writing. Just as businesses need to be focused and efficient to thrive and succeed, so too does the primary tool of most businesses — the business letter.

Following are a number of tips and guidelines that I have compiled while reading and writing many hundreds of business letters over the past 25+ years.

1. Limit Them To One Page
By definition, business letters should be short and to the point, preferably one page in length. Studies have found that busy business people do not like to read beyond the first page, and will actually delay reading longer letters. So, if you don’t want your letter to gather dust in an in-basket, keep it as short as possible.

2. Be Reader-Friendly
Always try to focus on the needs of the reader and make an effort to see things from their perspective. Put yourself in their position and imagine what it would be like for you to be receiving your letter. Anyone can do this, since we are all “customers” of some other business in some part of our lives.

3. Keep The Tone Formal And Factual
Generally speaking, the tone and content of business letters should be formal and factual. Feelings and emotions do not have a place in business letters. So, avoid phrases like “we feel” and use “we believe” or “we think” instead. A cordial, friendly approach is fine. Just keep it businesslike, but avoid overly formal terms like “heretofor”, “as per”, “herewith”, etc.

4. Carefully Plan Your Letter
Before writing the letter, take a few minutes to list all of the specific points you need to cover. Sometimes it may even mean a phone call to the recipient or his/her company to confirm a specific point. Remember, the purpose of the letter is to tie up all of the details on the subject at hand, so that more letters won’t have to be written back and forth.

5. Make It Clear, Concise And Logical
Use a clear and direct writing style that uses simple words and straightforward phrases. Make sure that your flow follows a logical progression, first identifying the main subject, elaborating on it, and then drawing the logical conclusion.

6. Accuracy And Timeliness Are Key
By their very nature, business letters need to be accurate and timely. They almost always have financial implications and related impacts on other businesses and/or people. Double-check all of the facts stated in the letter, and make sure that any future dates specified give others enough time to realistically complete what is expected of them.

7. Relegate Technical Details To Attachments
Often it is necessary to include detailed technical information as part of a business letter package. In such cases, use the main letter as a cover letter that lists and briefly explains and references the attached (or enclosed) documents.

8. Use Non-Discriminatory Language
Make sure that you avoid language that is specific to gender, race, or religion in all business letters, either to other businesses, or to customers. For example, use “workforce” instead of “manpower”, or “chairperson” rather than “chairman”. Most style guides contain detailed lists of the offensive terms and some suggested substitutes.

9. Eliminate Redundant Words And Phrases
There are certain words and phrases that one often sees in business correspondence that tend to make the language more complicated and cumbersome than necessary. For example, instead of the phrase “in spite of the fact that” use “although”, or instead of “in the normal course of events” use “normally”. There are many such redundant phrases, so review your letter and eliminate them.

If you are running any type of business in which business letters are important communication tools, you would do well to take careful heed of the above tips and advice. Remember, the business correspondence that you issue is a direct reflection of the overall products and/or services offered by your business. Poorly-written, amateurish, and/or shoddy business letters will surely result in lost sales.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

9 Characteristics That Millionaire Businesspeople Have in Common

In May 2005, Forbes magazine reported that there were 691 billionaires in the world. 1400 people across the world turn into millionaires every day. Want to become one of them? Of course you do. Everyone wants the freedom to do business in the way they choose. There is so much power in running your own business – and having a business that runs itself, which for many people is the ultimate goal.

Making money is not the only goal of becoming an internet millionaire – it’s about freedom. Many people across the world are gifted with experiencing this freedom everyday. How can you become one of these people? What kind of life, and business, do you want to run? Would you like to be able to check your email from your private plane? These are the kinds of goals many people have in mind when they begin to forge ahead with their business ideas. But the truth is that the rich and the successful – the millionaires off and online – have about nine characteristics in common, not that different from a lot of people we all know. Most of them exhibit some or all of these. The truth is that we all have the potential for greatness – if we can train ourselves to keep this in mind as we go about our business day.

1. They don’t blame. Successful businesspeople don't blame others. Instead of making excuses for bad outcomes, or reassigning responsibility to others, they take time to learn from their own mistakes.

2. They are decisive. Millionaire-types have a vision. They take quick, decisive action aligned with that vision. They’re action oriented, always pushing forward toward their goals.

3. They trust their intuition. If something seems like it’s not quite right, they trust that instinct. If an opportunity excites them and sounds like a great idea, they go for it.

4. They are singly focused on their CORE business. Successful entrepreneurs may be inspired by ideas, but they always remain true to their vision. They focus on opportunities that are aligned with their business’s purpose. If you sell retail products on eBay, don’t try real estate investing the next day. They don’t lose focus. They may sell their products on eBay, write articles, focus on joint ventures, and go to marketing seminars, but all of their efforts, and FOCUS, help them move toward their main goals.

5. They are marketing focused. Millionaires, including such giants as Bill Gates, understand the importance of building on their core business. They hire people with specialties in marketing. They work hard at building their email lists, gaining exposure, and are constantly looking for ways to reaching a wider audience. If you want to build a decent income, you sell products and services. If you want to be insanely rich, then you create and control markets. The key to your business, and creating phenomenal success, is marketing.

6. They understand the importance of continuing education. Successful businesspeople are always learning and drawing from other people’s experiences. They listen to how other people have achieved their success, especially if these people have expertise in another industry. They are constantly learning about new approaches and strategies, and thinking about how they can apply it to their own business.

7. They are not afraid of making mistakes. Any big company online will tell you that they’ve had their share of downfalls, even such giants as eBay or Craig’s List. Mistakes are building blocks for success – by making mistakes, you learn what works, and what doesn’t. You don't have to get it right, you just have to get it going. We all make mistakes, and one of the most powerful things you can do is glean feedback from them. Feedback is a great way to learn from your customers and colleagues. You need to look at feedback and take it with a grain of salt - it helps you learn and grow. See your mistakes as learning lessons

8. They model their business for success. Internet millionaires model other people, strategies, and systems. They constantly look for models of success in everyday life and think about how to incorporate these lessons into their own strategy. They even look at their competition for answers. Whatever niche you're in, subscribe to some industry newsletters, buy their products, and learn HOW they create success.

9. They build a team to rely on. No matter what stage you are in with your business, you’ve got to realize that you simply cannot do it all. You can’t be an expert in everything. You want to create a great team of people. How can you find them? Go to seminars and workshops. Hone your networking skills. You’ll often find that like minded people that are out there constantly learning and attending, seminars and workshops. Getting rich is a team sport. You have to have people that are cheering you on, encouraging your success.

These are some inherent characteristics of business millionaires. Can you apply them to your business and your life, too? Of course you can. If you can keep these principles in mind, you’ve got the millionaire mindset. No, you aren’t going to get there overnight. Making a million dollars takes some time. You can’t make a million dollars if you haven’t made your first hundred. So focus on the first hundred, first thousand, and first hundred thousand. Thinking this way goes a long way toward your goals – finding success, gaining riches, and living the kind of life you want to live.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

7 Ways to Stop Chasing Decision Makers

You’ve put your heart and soul into doing what you’re best at -- explaining the benefits of your solution but working hard not to come across "salesy" or pushy.

As far as you’re concerned, you’ve done everything right.

Now you’re on the phone with your contact. You’re hoping this will be your last conversation before they fax the contract through.

Finally you ask, "So, is the agreement ready to be signed?" There’s a silence, and then you hear the disheartening words: "Oh, I realize that I should really have Mike and Julie, look at it before I send it over."

Talk about being set up to believe everything was going to be smooth sailing -- now a big wave has overturned the boat and it’s sinking fast! Why didn’t he tell you he wasn’t the final decision maker? Why did he lead you on?

Most important, what can you do to stop this from happening again?

Don’t despair! Here are seven ways to end the chasing game with decision makers:

1. Understand the psychology of working in an organization.

No one in an organization wants to make a wrong decision and then be left holding the bag and looking bad. What’s more, in many cases even CEOs of companies can’t make final decisions without the other executives on their team buying in.

So, even if your contact tells you that he or she is the only one making the decision, in most cases that’s highly unlikely, especially in larger organizations. Once you understand that, you’ll find it easier to roll with the news that others are actually involved in signing off on the decision.

2. Make sure your contact has the authority to sign the agreement without approval

from others.

How many times have you been told: "I’m the decision maker, and I decide if we’ll purchase your solution or not"? Contacts may say this with total confidence, and we usually take them at their word, only to discover later that they didn’t want us bypassing them to get to the other decision makers. Here’s how you can avoid this situation: After they tell you they are the decision maker, you simply say in a relaxed, easy-going conversational manner, "Oh, okay. No problem. So, basically you’re the only person who signs the agreement, and no one else needs to be involved with this decision?"

It’s amazing what happens when you ask this question. First, there’s likely to be a short silence, and then all of a sudden you learn that other decision makers are involved. Once you know this, you can rethink your approach.

3. Don’t panic when you discover other decision makers are involved.

Don’t get thrown off track when you suddenly learn, deep into the sales process, that other decision makers need to be involved in the decision. When this happens, gently suggest that it might make sense to come up with a way to get them involved with the proposal so they won’t be caught off guard.

4. Suggest a conference call to connect with the decision makers.

Suppose you find out that two other decision makers are involved. Now you have a total of three! What can you do to avoid the delay that’s inevitable when your contact tells you, "I need to get hold of Mike and Julie, but they’re both traveling, so I’ll get back to you after I speak with them"? This situation is often the black hole of selling, because you can wait for weeks until your contact tracks down Mike and Julie and gets back to you.

Here’s how to avoid this: You simply say, "Okay. No problem. Sounds as if Mike and Julie are an important part of the process…I’m wondering if it might make sense to pull together a brief conference call with you and them so that they can get an overview of what’s happening. That way you can avoid chasing them down, and everyone can get up to speed at the same time. Does that make sense?" Also, the answer you get will tell you a lot about where you really stand. If your contact says, "Sure. That makes sense. Let me schedule it," things are looking good. But if you hear, "Nah, I’ll just try and get hold of them when I can and then get back to you," he could be saying, "We aren’t really that interested."

5. Work with your main contact to set the agenda for the conference call.

If your contact agrees to the conference call, spend some time working together on a well-thought-out agenda. Emphasize that your main purpose is simply to inform the others about what has happened so far. It’s crucial that you assure your contact that during the call you will in no way apply any type of sales pressure on the other decision makers.

Why is this important? Because many times contacts are reluctant to pull together a call because they’re afraid that the salesperson will put the participants on the spot, and that would make things awkward for everyone. When you begin the call, simply say, "The purpose of our call today is simply to bring you up to speed on what has happened so far so you all have the information you need to think this solution through at your own pace. Here at XYZ, we don’t believe in pressuring people to make decisions." Your contact will love you for this.

6. Ask your contact to arrange the conference call.

When you suggest a conference call with all the decision makers, it’s important to put your contact at ease. Too often, salespeople get anxious and say, "I’d be happy to contact the other folks and schedule the call for a time that works for all of us," but that may make your contact think you’re going to try to influence the others before the call.

To avoid accidentally triggering any "sales alarms," simply ask your contact if he or she would be open to coordinating the call: "It might make sense if you could e-mail them to coordinate a time for all of us to connect, since you’re closer to them than I would be."

7. Get to the truth about where the deal stands.

So you have the conference call and you feel it went well, with lots of good discussion. Your intuition is telling you that everyone seemed positive about your solution. Now you want to find out the truth about where the deal stands, but you need to be careful not to call your contact and put subtle pressure on him or her to give you a final answer.

You want to get that answer without asking outright, but you can’t until you’ve uncovered the truth about where everyone stands. When you call your contact back, don’t use the tired phrase, "I’m just calling to follow up." That just kicks off sales pressure. Instead, say, "I’m just giving you a call to see what kinds of questions the others on the call might have, since those types of calls don’t always address everyone’s issues or concerns." This will allow your contact to talk about where he or she stands, and you can then ask, "Where do you think we should go from here?"

These seven tips will help you put an end to the dreaded game of chasing decision makers.

Friday, March 26, 2010

7 Ways to Stop "Selling" & Start Building Relationships

Sometimes we can all use a friendly reminder to keep us from backsliding into old ways of thinking about selling that lead us down the wrong path with potential clients.

New Thinking = New Results

Maybe it's time to take a different approach. Maybe we need to seriously analyze our sales thinking so we can identify why we're not making more sales. Take a look at the table below and thinkabout your current selling mindset. How would your selling behaviors change if you changed your sales thinking?

Traditional Sales Mindset Vs Unlock The Game™ Mindset

1. Always deliver a strong sales pitch. Vs Stop the sales pitch -- and start a conversation.

2. Your central objective is always to close the sale. Vs Your central goal is always to discover whether you and your potential client are a good fit.

3. When you lose a sale, it's usually at the end of the sales process. Vs When you lose a sale, it's usually right at the beginning of the sales process.

4. Rejection is a normal part of selling. Vs Sales pressure is the only cause of rejection. Rejection should never happen.

5. Keep chasing every potential client until you get a yes or a no. Vs Never chase a potential client -- you'll only trigger more sales pressure.

6. When a prospect offers objections, challenge and/or counter them. Vs When a potential client offers objections, uncover the truth behind them.

7. If a potential client challenges the value of your product or service, you must defend yourself and explain the value. Vs Never defend yourself or what you have to offer -- it only creates more sales pressure.

Let's take a closer look at these central Unlock The Game™ concepts so you can begin to open up your current sales thinking and become more effective in your selling activities:

1) Stop the sales pitch -- and start a conversation.

When you call someone, avoid making a mini-presentation about yourself, your company, and what you have to offer. Start with an opening conversational phrase that focuses on a specific problem that your product or service solves. If you don't know what this is, ask your current customers why they purchased your solution. One example of an opening phrase might be, "I'm just calling to see if you'd be open to some different ideas related to lowering the risk of any computer downtime you may be having in your company?" Notice that you are not pitching your solution with this opening phrase.

2) Your central goal is always to discover whether you and your potential client are a good fit.

Let go of trying to "close the sale" or "get the appointment"-- and you will discover that you don't have to take responsibility for moving the sales process forward. If you simply focus your conversation on problems that you can help potential clients solve, and if you don't jump the gun by trying to move the sales process forward, you will find that potential clients will actually bring you into their buying process.

3) When you lose a sale, it's usually right at the beginning of the sales process.

If you believe that you lose sales because you make a mistake at the end of the process, take a look back at how you began the relationship. Did you start with a presentation? Did you use traditional sales language like, "We have a solution that I believe you really need" or "Others in your industry have bought our solution, so you should consider it as well"?

When you use traditional sales language, potential clients can't help but label you with the negative stereotype of "salesperson." This makes it almost impossible for them to relate to you from a position of trust. And if trust isn't established at the outset, honest communication about the problems they're trying to solve, and how you might be able to help them, becomes impossible too.

4) Sales pressure is the only cause of rejection. Rejection should never happen.

Rejection happens for only one reason: Something you said, as subtle as it might have been, triggered a defensive reaction from your potential client. Yes, something you said. To eliminate rejection, simply shift your mindset so that you give up the hidden agenda of hoping to make a sale. Instead, everything you say and do should stem from the basic mindset that you are there to help potential clients. This makes you able to ask, "Would you be open to talking about issues you might be having affecting your business?"

5) Never chase a potential client--you'll only trigger more sales pressure.

"Chasing" potential clients has always been considered normal and necessary, but it's rooted in the macho selling image that, "If you don't keep chasing, it means you're giving up -- and that means you're a failure." This is dead wrong! Instead of chasing potential clients, tell them that you would like to avoid anything that resembles the old cat-and-mouse chasing game by scheduling a time for your next chat.

6) When a potential client offers objections, uncover the truth behind them.

Most traditional sales programs spend a lot of time focusing on "overcoming objections." These tactics only put more sales pressure on potential clients and also fail to explore or understand the truth behind what the potential client is saying. When you hear, "We don't have the budget," "Send me information," or "Call me in a few months," do you think you're hearing the truth, or do you suspect that these are polite evasions designed to end the conversation?

Rather than trying to counter objections, you can uncover the truth by replying, "That's not a problem" -- no matter what clients are "objecting" to -- and then using gentle, dignified language that invites them to reveal the truth about their situation.

7) Never defend yourself or what you have to offer -- it only creates more sales pressure.

When a potential client says, "Why should I choose you over your competition?," your first, instinctive reaction is probably to start defending your product or service because you want to convince them to buy. But what do you think goes through your potential client's mind at that point?

Something like, "This 'salesperson' is trying to sell me on why what they have to offer is better, but I hate feeling as if I'm being sold." Rather than defending yourself, try suggesting that you aren't going to try to convince them of anything because that would only create sales pressure. Instead, ask them about the key problems that they are trying to solve, and then explore how your product or service might solve those problems --without ever trying to persuade.. Let potential clients feel that they can choose you without feeling "sold."

You too can improve your sales effectiveness if you are open minded and willing to try a new and more natural selling approach.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

7 Ways To Sky Rocket Your Google AdWords Revenue

Making money online is the goal of every entrepreneur, and one of the most effective ways of generating revenue online is to use Google Adwords. But, to make the most of what Adwords offers, you must have a firm grasp on how to run an effective Adwords campaign.

The first step you must take is to learn everything you can about Adwords. That means you must invest time in researching Adwords, and you may also want to consider taking an Adwords course or purchasing an Adwords guide.

Here are seven ways that will help you increase your Google Adwords revenue:

1. Once you have a thorough understanding of Adwords, consider how much you want to invest initially to bid on keywords. Set a budget that you are you comfortable with, and stick to it. Once you drive more traffic to your Web site and, in return, make larger profits, you may want to increase your budget. For now, however, only bid what you can comfortably afford to pay.

2. Know how to use keywords to maximize your investment. Your main keyword or keyword phrase should be in the headline of your ad, in the ad itself, and in the content on your Web site.

3. Your ad must be innovative and grab the attention of your prospective customers. Illustrate to your prospective customers WHY they should click on the link and visit your Web site. Remember, the objective is for prospective customers to click on your ad.

4. Your Web site must contain information that is valuable to your target market. Once prospective customers click on the link to your Web site, they want to find information that they need and can use. By providing unique and compelling content, you'll give prospective customers to both sign up for your list and visit your Web site again and again (provided that you add fresh content on a regular basis).

5. Always keep track of the competition. You must know what your competitors are doing, so you can ensure you're doing enough to get ahead - and stay ahead - of them.

6. Use a variation of keywords, including commonly misspelled words. By using a variety of keywords, you'll reach a larger audience.

7. Avoid using negative or inactive keywords. If a keyword isn't getting many hits, stop using it. Likewise, avoid using negative keywords. All of your keywords should be directly related to your target market.

If you apply the right techniques, you should see an increase in traffic to your Web site which will, hopefully, increase your overall profits. Remember, you should only bid as much as you can comfortably afford.

Purchasing keywords before having a thorough understanding of what to expect could end up costing you money, so be sure to do your research before you actually start bidding and placing ads.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

7 Ways to Sell and Retain Your Integrity

Making more sales while retaining your integrity -- is it possible to do both?

Here are seven suggestions:

1. Focus on the getting to the "truth" of your potential client's situation. You may or may not be a fit for each other, so focusing on the end goal of making the sale only derails the trust-building process. Without trust, you compromise integrity.

2. Eliminate rejection once and for all by setting realistic expectations and avoiding traditional sales behaviors such as defensiveness, persuasion, and over-confidence. If you're not trying to sell, you can't be rejected.

3. Stop "chasing" potential clients who have no intention of buying. How can you do this? Shift your mindset and boost your truth-seeking skills so that you can quickly, yet graciously, discern whether the two of you are a potential "fit" or not.

4. Avoid calling people "prospects" or even thinking about them that way. People are people, and when you label them in your language or your thoughts, you dehumanize them and the sales process. "Prospect" reinforces the notion that sales is only a "numbers game." Train yourself to think about "potential clients" instead.

5. Take the "cold" out of your cold calling. Don't start with "Hi, my name is... I'm with... We do...". When you begin a conversation by making it about you, instead of about the other person, you immediately cut off the possibility of opening a dialogue. Try the more humble approach of asking "Maybe you can help me out for a second," and keep in mind that you're really calling to help them solve their problems.

6. Don't try to "overcome" objections. Instead, determine whether the objection is the client's truth or not. Then you can decide whether to continue to open the conversation.

7. Avoid using "I" or "We" in your e-mail communications to potential clients. These words indicate that the focus of your communication is on satisfying your needs rather than solving their problems. This sets the wrong tone for a potential relationship.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

7 Ways to Make Money With Content Online

Over the last 6-7 years that I’ve made my living online I’ve discovered, as a writer, that there are huge opportunities for writers online.

Here are the 7 ways that I’ve made money by writing online:

1> Writing articles and selling the rights to other webmasters who want to re-produce the articles on their websites

2> Writing articles and reports available only to those who have paid to access my “collection”

3> Writing informative newsletters and selling ads in them

4> Writing about products and services I like, have purchased and found useful. Then I create a ‘link’ to the website that sells the product …if any of my subscribers buy, I get a commission

5> I create programs that allow others to resell my written content and charge a fee for them to do so

6> I write other people’s ezines for a fee

7> I create simple websites, add some articles or other content and sell them. I made as much as $8,875 on one simple website I created and sold

The Internet is a goldmine for writers like me and you and the possibilities are endless.

If you can’t write, there are services you can use to get other people to do the writing for you. Just makes sure if they do, you hire them on a “Work for Hire” basis, which means that you receive the exclusive copyright for the article they produced for you. If they do not agree to that, don’t hire them.

7 Ways to Make Money With Content Online

Over the last 6-7 years that I’ve made my living online I’ve discovered, as a writer, that there are huge opportunities for writers online.

Here are the 7 ways that I’ve made money by writing online:

1> Writing articles and selling the rights to other webmasters who want to re-produce the articles on their websites

2> Writing articles and reports available only to those who have paid to access my “collection”

3> Writing informative newsletters and selling ads in them

4> Writing about products and services I like, have purchased and found useful. Then I create a ‘link’ to the website that sells the product …if any of my subscribers buy, I get a commission

5> I create programs that allow others to resell my written content and charge a fee for them to do so

6> I write other people’s ezines for a fee

7> I create simple websites, add some articles or other content and sell them. I made as much as $8,875 on one simple website I created and sold

The Internet is a goldmine for writers like me and you and the possibilities are endless.

If you can’t write, there are services you can use to get other people to do the writing for you. Just makes sure if they do, you hire them on a “Work for Hire” basis, which means that you receive the exclusive copyright for the article they produced for you. If they do not agree to that, don’t hire them.

Monday, March 22, 2010

7 Ways to keep Customers Coming Back to Your Site

You've built a website. Wonderful! The next question to ask is this: Once you get a visitor's attention, how can you bring them back?

Of course, you don't want every visitor returning, but rather customers and potential customers. Articles and other content published on your site should be relevant, interesting and well written. Unique content will give your site a better chance of reaching targeted visitors through search engines.

Here are seven ways to keep customers coming back to your website:

1. Run short-term specials. Internet users love a bargain, and sales are a sure way to capture attention. Use short sales periods to motivate people to act — giving them three months to make a decision will just help them avoid making the decision to buy. Let users know that the items on offer are always changing to encourage them to visit your site regularly. And get creative with your specials. For example, consider giving away a free gift rather than just cutting the price.

2. Make your site topical. Internet users often look online to learn more about interesting topics in the news. Creating a link between your business and a hot news story can be a great way to attract visitors to your site. This is a common tactic used by public relations firms to get media coverage, and could work equally well for you.

3. Update information regularly. Why would a user want to return to a website that rarely changes? Keeping your information up-to-date sends a message to visitors that your company is current and serious about doing business.

4. Hold a competition. This is a great way to get visitors excited about your website and what you do. Consider asking users for feedback, so that it doubles as a market research tool. Prizes don't need to be extravagant, but should be fun and appropriate for your target market.

5. Send out an e-mail newsletter. This popular promotional tactic is an effective one. Don't expect to build a list of thousands of subscribers, but focus instead on building a high quality list of targeted readers. When sending a newsletter, keep it short and informative. Promotions are expected, but don't overdo it.

6. Join niche e-mail groups. If you have the time, participating in a targeted e-mail list is a great way to connect with potential customers and keep reminding them about your business. Participation in a group works best when your company services a niche market. For example, the owner of a pet store might join a mailing list for pet owners. By participating as an expert, the storeowner is able to promote his business to a community of prospective clients.

7. Know your customers. An understanding of the needs and goals of your clients is the best way to ensure that your marketing efforts are effective. Statistics and tracking reports will help you gauge the interests of visitors to your website. Website usage statistics will help you understand how people come to your site, and what they do once they have arrived. Are they finding what they want, or do certain pages on your site trigger them to leave? Was the contest you ran successful? This understanding will help you hone your online marketing efforts.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

7 Ways to Grow Flowers

Flowering landscape trees are the crown jewels of the yard.
Perhaps no other plants, individually, can have as great an
impact on how a yard looks in spring. Browse the articles to
which I've linked below for information on particular varieties
of flowering landscape trees. Pictures are included.

Crape Myrtles: Landscape Trees of the South

A popular choice in flowering landscape trees for Southerners,
crape myrtles have a long blooming period (mid-summer to
fall). The blooming clusters of these flowering landscape trees
come in pink, white, red and lavender. The clusters appear on
the tips of new wood. Northerners can sometimes get away
with treating these flowering landscape trees as perennials
that die back in winter but come back in spring.


Not all specimens with a weeping habit are flowering
landscape trees, but this article looks at several weeping
varieties that do bloom, headed by four types of cherry.
Saucer Magnolias

The size and shape of the blooms are what suggested the
common name for these flowering landscape trees. Want a
specimen with a brilliant bloom as big as a saucer? Access
information on these beauties here.

Rose of Sharon

Although some people think of it as a landscape "tree"
(because it gets tall and can be pruned so as to have a single
trunk), rose of sharon is, in fact, a flowering shrub. The fact
that it blooms relatively late -- and for a long time -- makes it
a valuable plant for those looking to distribute their yard's
color display throughout the growing season.
Top 10 List of Flowering Landscape Trees and Shrubs for
Spring |

This article features information on ten flowering landscape
trees and shrubs that brighten our spring seasons. Included
are redbud, callery pear and crabapple.
Hawthorn: Late-Blooming Landscape Trees

This article offers information on Washington hawthorn trees,
which are perhaps most valued for the time at which they
bloom (late spring to early summer). Many of the popular
flowering specimens bloom earlier in the spring, and while
their blossoms are pleasant sights for eyes sore from winter's
barrenness, they desert us too quickly!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

7 Ways to Get to the Truth : When the Sale "Disappears"

You're close, really close, to making a sale. Your potential client is in the market for your product or service and you've had a couple of good meetings.

Have you been in this situation before?

Of course you have--we all have, and it's painful. So, can you keep from getting dropped? Yes--With the Unlock The Game™ Mindset, you can abandon the salesperson role and come from a place of integrity that stems directly from your personal brand that doesn't compromise your authentic self. This opens communication with your potential clients so you can learn the truth about their situation--and that's what you always want.

These suggestions will help:

* Don't assume the sale. Potential clients are used to the traditional buyer-seller relationship, so they may decide not to tell you things that might make them vulnerable to you. Until you're sure you know the complete truth, you can never assume the sale.

* Keep making it easy for potential clients to tell you their truth. Toward the end of your conversation, ask, "Do you have any more questions?" If potential clients say no, follow up with the 100-percent-final truth-gathering question: "Now, are you 100 percent sure that there's nothing else that I can do on my end to make you feel more comfortable with this situation?" You'll be amazed how often people then say, "Well, actually, there is one more issue..." And it's at that point that you really start to hear their truth.

* Call back to get the truth, not close the sale. Most potential clients who suddenly "disappear" will be expecting you chase them down by calling them and saying, "Hi, I was just wondering where things are at?" Instead, eliminate all sales pressure by telling them that you're okay with their decision not to move forward, based on their not having called you back. In other words, take a step backward. Most of the time, it'll open the door to a new level of open, trusting communication.

* Reassure potential clients that you can handle a "no." Of course we'd rather not hear a "no." But the only way to free yourself and your clients from subtle sales pressures is to let them know that it's not about the sale but about the best choice for them--and if that means no sale, it's okay, because it's ultimately not about you but about them.

* Ask for feedback. Whenever potential clients "disappear," call them back (e-mail them if you have to, but only as a last resort because dialogue is always better) and simply ask, "Would you please share your feedback with me as to how I can improve for next time? Now that our sales process is over, I'm committed to understanding where I went wrong." This is not being feeble or weak -- it's being humble, which often triggers the truth.

* Don't try to "close" a sale. If your intuition tells you that the sales process isn't going in the direction it should be going - which is always toward greater trust and truth--trust those feeling. Then, make it safe for potential clients to tell you where they stand. It's simple--all you have to say is, "Where do you think we should go from here?" (But be prepared: you might not want to hear the truth of how they're feeling. You can cope with this by keeping your larger goal in mind, which is always to establish that the two of you have a "fit.")

* Give yourself the last word. Eliminate the anxiety of waiting for the final calls that will tell you whether the sale is going to happen--instead, schedule a time for getting back to each other. This eliminates chasing. Simply suggest, "Can we plan to get back to each other on a day and at a time that works for you--not to close the sale, but to simply bring closure regardless of what you decide. I'm okay either way, and that'll save us from having to chase each other."

You'll find that these suggestions make selling much less painful because, with Unlock The Game™, you learn to focus on the truth instead of the sale.

Friday, March 19, 2010

7 Ways to Cut Loose from Old Sales Thinking

Regardless of what product or service you’re selling, you should be able to relate to her dilemma.

Outdated sales skills fail to address the core issue of how we think about selling and unless we get to that core and change it once and for all, we’ll go on struggling with the same counterproductive sales behaviors.

And we’ll continue believing that we’re always just one new sales technique away from the breakthrough we’re looking for.

New Thinking = New Results

Maybe it’s time to take a different approach. Maybe we need to analyze our thinking and identify why we’re not making more sales.

Take a look at the table below and think about your current selling mindset.

How would your selling behaviors change if you changed your sales thinking?

Old Sales Mindset Vs New Sales Mindset

1. Always start out with a strong sales pitch Vs Stop the sales pitch. Start a conversation.

2. Your goal is always to close the sale Vs Your goal is always to discover whether you and your prospect are a good fit.

3. When you lose a sale, it's usually at the end of the sales process. Vs When you lose a sale, it's usually at the beginning of the sales process.

4. Rejection is a normal part of selling, so get used to it. Vs Hidden sales pressure causes rejection. Eliminate sales pressure, and you’ll never experience rejection.

5. Keep chasing prospects until you get a yes or no. Vs Never chase prospects. Instead, get to the truth of whether there’s a fit or not.

6. When prospects offer objections, challenge and/or counter them. Vs When prospects offer objections, validate them and reopen the conversation.

7. If prospects challenge the value of your product or service, defend yourself and explain its value. Vs Never defend yourself or what you have to offer. This only creates more sales pressure.

Let's take a closer look at these concepts so you can begin to open up your current sales thinking and become more effective in your selling efforts.

1. Stop the sales pitch. Start a conversation.

When you call someone, never start out with a mini-presentation about yourself, your company, and what you have to offer.

Instead, start with a conversational phrase that focuses on a specific problem that your product or service solves. For example, you might say, "I'm just calling to see if you are open to some different ideas related to preventng downtime accross your computer network?"

Notice that you are not pitching your solution with this opening phrase. Instead, you're addressing a problem that, based on your experience in your field, you believe they might be having. (If you don't know what problems your product or service solves, do a little research by asking your current customers why they purchased your solution.)

2. Your goal is always to discover whether you and your prospect are a good fit.

If you let go of trying to close the sale or get the appointment, you’ll discover that you don't have to take responsibility for moving the sales process forward.

By simply focusing your conversation on problems that you can help prospects solve, and by not jumping the gun by trying to move the sales process forward, you’ll discover that prospects will give you the direction you need.

3. When you lose a sale, it's usually at the beginning of the sales process.

If you think you’re losing sales due to mistakes you make at the end of the process, review how you began the relationship. Did you start with a pitch?

Did you use traditional sales language ("We have a solution that you really need" or "Others in your industry have bought our solution, you should consider it as well")?

Traditional sales language leads prospects to label you with the negative stereotype of "salesperson." This makes it almost impossible for them to relate to you with trust or to have an honest, open conversation about problems they're trying to solve and how you might be able to help them.

4. Hidden sales pressure causes rejection. Eliminate sales pressure, and you’ll never experience rejection.

Prospects don’t trigger rejection. You do -- when something you say, and it could be very subtle, triggers a defensive reaction from your prospect.

Yes, something you say.

You can eliminate rejection forever simply by giving up the hidden agenda of hoping to make a sale. Instead, be sure that everything you say and do stems from the basic mindset that you’re there to help prospects identify and solve their issues.

5. Never chase prospects. Instead, get to the truth of whether there’s a fit or not.

Chasing prospects has always been considered normal and necessary, but it’s rooted in the macho selling image that "If you don’t keep chasing, you’re giving up, which means you’re a failure." This is dead wrong.

Instead, ask your prospects if they’d be open to connecting again at a certain time and date so you can both avoid the phone tag game.

6. When prospects offer objections, validate them and reopen the conversation.

Most traditional sales programs spend a lot of time focusing on "overcoming" objections, but these tactics only create more sales pressure.

They also keep you from exploring or learning the truth behind what your prospects are saying.

You know that "We don't have the budget," "Send me information," or "Call me back in a few months," are polite evasions designed to get you off the phone. Stop trying to counter objections. Instead, shift to uncovering the truth by replying, "That's not a problem." No matter what the objection, use gentle, dignified language that invites prospects to tell you the truth about their situation without feeling you’ll use it to press for a sale.

7. Never defend yourself or what you have to offer. This only creates more sales pressure.

When prospects say, "Why should I choose you over your competition?," your instinctive reaction is to defend your product or service because you believe that you are the best choice, and you want to convince them of that. But what goes through their minds at that point?

Something like, "This ‘salesperson’ is trying to sell me, and I hate feeling as if I'm being sold."

Stop defending yourself. In fact, come right out and tell them that you aren’t going to try to convince them of anything because that only creates sales pressure. Instead, ask them again about key problems they’re trying to solve.

Then explore how your product or service might solve those problems. Give up trying to persuade. Let prospects feel they can choose you without feeling sold.

The sooner you can let go of the traditional sales beliefs that we’ve all been exposed to, the more quickly you’ll feel good about selling again, and start seeing better results.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

7 Things to Look for in a New Desktop PC

7 Things to Look for in a New Desktop PC If you're not a techie, buying hardware can be an arduous task. Use these tips for buying a machine that best suits your business needs.

Does your old clunker make wheezing noises when it boots up? Has your typing become faster than your computer? Tired of looking at the Windows hourglass for minutes at a time?

Perhaps it's time for a new desktop computer.

Computer manufacturers continue to struggle with weak business. Meanwhile, component manufacturers are making their goods smaller, faster and cheaper. The upshot: You can get a good deal on a powerful machine.

I can't recommend individual machines. They might not be on the market when you read this. Instead, let's go through the components that make up computers. Use these to help decide what you need.

Following are seven points to ponder before you buy:

The Microprocessor

This is one of the most expensive parts. Microprocessors for Windows machines are made by Intel and AMD. Those for Apples are made by IBM and Motorola. So here's my first piece of advice: Don't worry so much about who makes the chip. All four are good. For Windows machines, you have a choice of the AMD Athlon XP, the Intel Pentium 4 and the Intel Celeron, an economy chip. The Pentium 4 and Athlon XP are upper end chips. The fastest Pentium 4 runs at 3.2 Gigahertz — a very fast speed indeed. It's also very expensive. The comparable AMD chip, the 3200+, is slightly less expensive.

You may need these fire-breathers if you're doing lots of video editing. Ditto if you're working with computer-aided design or playing advanced games. Otherwise, look to chips running at 2.4 GHz to 2.6 GHz (or 2400+ to 2600+, in AMD-powered machines). They're cheaper, and they perform nearly as well as the top-end chips.

Intel's Celeron is a budget chip. If you do typical office duties and surf the web, you probably wouldn't notice the difference between a top-end Celeron and a Pentium 4 running at the same speed. But you could save some money.

Apple and AMD chips run at lower speeds than those made by Intel. AMD uses the + symbol, as in 3200+, to imply that its chips are faster than comparable Intel microprocessors, despite running more slowly. Indeed, tests often show that to be the case.

Apple claims that its top-end machines are faster than those running Windows. That is a matter of controversy; there are websites devoted to debunking Apple's claims. Apple's chips run at much lower speeds, so they are difficult to compare directly. If you're interested in an Apple computer, test one at a store, then test a Windows machine. Apple computers are more expensive than comparable Windows machines.

Both Apple and AMD have new 64-bit microprocessors. They can crunch twice as much data as 32-bit chips. But there are virtually no programs that take advantage of this power now. That will change in the future, but these expensive new chips don't offer as much value today.

The Operating System

Windows XP and Apple's OS X are also difficult to compare. But there's really no need. Both are stable and fast. You'll probably be satisfied with either.

Windows XP comes in two flavours: Home and Professional. Windows XP Professional has all of Home's goodies, plus some other stuff. Most of it is networking capability. Professional costs more.

But it does have some nice features. One is Remote Desktop, which allows you to access one computer from another. For instance, you could sign onto your office computer from home and check your email. It also allows you to encrypt files and folders.

Random Access Memory

You will need a minimum of 256 megabytes of memory. If you can afford it, get 512 MB. I'd go to one gigabyte for demanding applications, such as video editing. Memory is relatively inexpensive, so don't skimp.

Hard Drives are Big and Bigger

If you do a lot of video work, you need a big hard drive. Video files are huge. Hard drives at 200 to 250 GB are common and relatively inexpensive.

Otherwise, the gargantuan drives common today far outstrip the customer's needs. Even low-end machines today have 40 GB hard drives. You are unlikely to fill that. I recommend putting your extra money elsewhere.

The Video System

The video system sends the picture to the monitor. Many inexpensive computers use the main-system RAM to run video. The video processor is built into the motherboard (the main circuit board). This works, but is less desirable.

Better computers have a separate circuit board, called a video card. This includes the video processor and memory. For video cards, 64 MB of RAM is pretty standard. That's more than enough for day-to-day computing.

However, if you are doing video work or playing advanced games, get a card with 128 MB of RAM. Truly hardcore game players can get cards with 256 MB of RAM.

The Monitor

Do you need to buy a monitor? Most people get one without thinking. But monitors don't necessarily come with computers. Often, you can lower your cost by refusing the monitor. If you're satisfied with your current monitor, it should work OK with your new computer.

There are two basic types of monitor, as mentioned above: CRTs and flat-panels. CRTs are the cheaper option: I would not buy a CRT monitor that was less than 17 inches. Keep in mind that that measurement is diagonal, and includes a portion of the screen hidden behind the bezel. A 17-inch CRT will have a visible screen size of 16 inches or less.

Flat-panel monitors are far more expensive than CRTs. They come in two flavours: analogue and digital. Digital signals are produced natively by the computer; they do not need to be converted. Analogue signals are converted from digital by the video system. Some consider digital signals clearer.

CDs and DVDs

All computers come with optical drives — either CD or DVD. All but the very cheapest have burners. ("Burning" is the process of making a CD or DVD.) CD-RW burners are still the most common, but DVD burners are available on more expensive machines.

DVD is wildly popular, but remains troubled by incompatible standards. You're likely to see DVD+R/RW or DVD-R/RW on a computer. They are incompatible, but most players can handle R discs made on either. R means a disc can be recorded once. RW stands for rewriteable, meaning a disc can be recorded numerous times. DVD burners can also make CDs.

I recommend that you purchase a CD-RW, at least.

One final point: I hear from so many people wondering when the best time to buy a computer is. There will always be something faster, better, hotter, cooler, bigger or smaller coming. If you need a computer, buy one now.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

7 Strategies I Learned from Self-Made Millionaires: About Achieving Personal & Professional Success

Copyright 2006 Colleen Kettenhofen

“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” Albert Einstein

After attending a seminar in Las Vegas this past weekend on achieving personal and professional success, I walked away with a plethora of time-tested tools that can be applied immediately. Many of the presenters were "self-made" millionaires, as I'm not talking about someone who inherited it or married into it.These individuals, through grit, determination and calculated risk did it on their own. Here are seven proven strategies guaranteed to dramatically improve your happiness, and help you in achieving success in any area of your life, if you apply them.

1. Wherever you are today is a result of what you’ve done in the past. Take responsibility for the choices you’ve made. Learn from them and move on. Let go of the mistake but don’t lose the lesson. Don’t focus on the pain of your past, focus on your purpose for the future. This frame of mind alone can turn your life around.

2. “You become what you think about all day,” Earl Nightengale once said. Have you ever noticed while driving your car that if you keep looking to the right, you eventually go to the right? Keep looking to the left and your car veers left? What you think about and focus on becomes reality. So focus on achieving success and be specific with your goals.

3. The books you read and the people you interact with most determine 90% of your success. So surround yourself with successful, positive people. Join a mastermind group. It can consist of like-minded individuals all around the country where you talk by phone once a week. Attend business and personal development seminars to find the right people. Who are the people you spend the most time with? What about their goals, values and priorities? Do they have any goals?! You are an average of the five people you spend the most time with. Try this exercise: Add up their yearly income and divide by five. Most likely your income is within 10% of that sum. You can spend time with people less successful than you and feel like a big fish, but as you discover your passion and climb the ladder of success, those same people will drag you down and discourage your dreams.

4. Make the books you read be about achieving personal and professional success. Invest at least 3% of your yearly income in personal and professional development books, CD’s, e-books, teleseminars, webinars and the like. If you’re pressed for time, listen to motivational CD’s in your car. The average person spends 500 to 1000 hours per year in their cars. Turn your car into a virtual mobile classroom.

5. Reprogram your mind. You’ve heard the phrase “stinkin’ thinkin’.” To reprogram your mind with positive thoughts, spend a few minutes upon awakening reading inspirational literature or something related to the field you are passionate about. Do the same thing within that last hour before bedtime. The subconscious mind is most amenable to suggestion the first hour upon awakening, and that last hour before retiring.

6. The mirror exercise. Every morning getting up and every evening going to bed, give yourself pep talks. At first you will feel embarrassed and ridiculous, but this technique is very powerful. Ruben Gonzalez, three time Olympian in the luge, was the keynote speaker this weekend. He told how his friend used to make him stand in front of a mirror and say to himself with emotion, “No matter how terrible it gets I am going to make it happen!” He would say this over and over until he believed it. Saying it with emotion will help your dream manifest itself more quickly.

7. Learn to overcome procrastination. Most people procrastinate doing something because they fear it. For example, if you’re procrastinating learning a new software program, take classes or hire a tutor. If that skill is necessary in helping you achieve an important goal you must do it. Also, do the thing you like least first. The more you think about what you “should” do and procrastinate, the harder it is to get started, and your anxiety is compounded. Think how much better, lighter (and more confident) you’ll feel when it’s complete.

Celebrate your successes and reward yourself for even small accomplishments. All work and no play serves as a de-motivator. The larger the success, the larger the reward. Have you ever noticed how much you accomplish right before a vacation? You’re looking forward to that reward, and you don’t want to think about it when you’re on vacation. Do the same thing with these simple steps. Apply them. Work them.

Focus on your dreams not the fear. The price of success is huge, but the price of regret is worse. Increase your self-belief and increase your desire. Ask yourself, “Who am I?” “What do I want to be?” And go do that. Good luck.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

7 Strategies Guaranteed to Increase Your Productivity

Copyright 2006 Sandra P. Martini

Have you ever felt exhausted at the end of the day, knowing you worked your butt off and yet wondering what the heck you actually accomplished or, worse yet, wondering why nothing has been crossed off your “to do” list? It’s frustrating to say the least.

Here are seven strategies guaranteed to increase your productivity…and I don’t use the word “guaranteed” lightly!

1. Most “To-Do” lists are useless.

There, I’ve said it and those time management companies who insist we make lists and put pretty-colored “A”, “B”, and “C” identifiers after tasks will have to deal with it.

The reason why, quite simply, is that tasks have start times, but no end times. If you make just one change, do this: Put a start and an end time for everything you do and watch how much you get done!

2. The right “tools”

You need to have a schedule – one where YOU purposefully script out those things that are your priorities for the day and you insure that nothing “bumps” them. I have a schedule for each day, week and for the year so if a client asks me to attend a call or visit his office, I know what I’m doing.

Your schedule should include those things that you need to do every day until you have built a routine around them. I write every day. Not some days, not most days, but every day and it was only by having it on my schedule that it got done. It’s now a routine that I rarely miss.

Another critical tool is what I affectionately call my “Chat Pad”. I have a steno notebook for each client/key person that I deal with and keep a list of what I need to discuss with them (and the resulting actions of that discussion) so I can group phone calls or send one summary email rather than several throughout the day.

3. Ask this question.

What is the most effective use of your time RIGHT NOW?

For those rare times when you haven’t scheduled your time, ask yourself the above question and then follow through with working on the answer. You will dramatically increase the quality of the work you do.

4. Know your worth.

How much money do you want to make this year? If we assume that you work 8-hour workdays and you will earn $50,000 this year, then each hour is worth $25.61 and every minute is worth $0.427.

You intend on making $100,000 this year? Then double the above figures: every hour is worth $51.23 and every minute is worth $0.852.

So for every workday hour that you waste, you have lost $6,250 on a $50,000 income and $12,500 on a $100,000 income.

5. Delegate, don’t abdicate.

As an entrepreneur (or aspiring entrepreneur) who now knows the value of his time, you recognize that it is worthwhile to delegate those activities that you either aren’t good at or dislike.

While delegating is critical to the most optimal use of your time and energies, be sure not to abdicate responsibility for those items. Keep a running list of the tasks you’ve delegated and check in with that person (remind yourself using your “Chat Pad”).

6. Post your goals.

Having your goals posted provides consistent motivation on why you are doing the things you are doing.

Want an extra kick in the pants? Post a picture of that new car, new home, or dream vacation. Seeing the reason you are working to meet your goals will provide your subconscious with extra motivation to get the job done.

7. Keep a success journal

Success “journals” can be done several ways. You can simply keep a written record of all your successes or, you can follow Arnold Palmer’s method: he had a table wherein he inlaid his golf medals and, when he placed one medal in the table, he had a new hole grouted for the next, as-yet-to-be-won medal. Always looking ahead, always anticipating the next success.

Remember this: time can not be replaced. You can replace money, you can replace clients or projects. You can not replace time. Use it wisely.

Monday, March 15, 2010

7 Steps To Achieving Joint Venture Projects

Joint Ventures are considered an essential part of growing your business and becoming successful. However, many people looks at JV’s as a fearful or overwhelming idea. If you follow some steps and have some preparations together then you can move forward confidently.

First, before approaching anyone, do you have your business set up and do you know what you want to do a joint venture on. Many of the people that you approach may already be receiving several offers, so preparation is the key.

Then decide on who you want to have JV’s with. If you are not sure, you can do some research to help you find some potential people. The details on searching can be an article in its self, but to highlight you can:
Look at what your business is; what other businesses would complement yours. Then search the web for them. You can also ask around at forums and newsgroups and ask for referrals. Once you have done that carefully, pick a handful that you would like to try.

Look at their websites. Ask yourself, what is it about them that I like and why would I want to do business with them. What about their site stands out for me and that I could comment on.

Is there a report or course that I could try get to know them better. Is there a product that I can try? Is this even the right person for my JV? When you understand the other person, not only will it help you approach them, you will also be able to know if indeed you could recommend them to your list.

Then decide which of them you would want to work with. Now you can approach them. Think about what your goal is for the JV. Yes, there are the thousands of dollars it can bring, the free advertising and leveraging each other’s resources, but what is the ultimate goal for each JV.

What would your answer be when the potential JV partners says, "So, what do you have in mind?" Is this JV about writing and promoting a book, starting a contest, creating a product or sharing advertising costs, just to name a few.

While you are thinking about your answer, you need to realize that the potential JV partner is thinking, WIIFM. (What’s in it for me).

Why should he or she pick you over (or as well as) the other people that are also approaching them. Think about how this will help them. Do you have a large list, or contacts that they may want? Do you have stats to show how your plan will help them?

If they say no, and some will for many reasons, go on. They may already have too many things on the go right now. Ask if you can contact them in the future.

There are also different rules and viewpoints on the initial contact. I have heard some people say to phone, as they get so many emails that the call would stand out. Others have said, don’t presume to phone and interrupt them when you haven’t already met them.

There is a combination of things that you could try. For example, send an email that you wish to call. Send a letter via the post office. I have even seen people send requests by an express service and have included a number of different trinkets, samples and attention getters. You may need to experiment, as each person is different.

Ultimately, I believe that you should show that you have taken the time to get to know them on some level and know what their products are. When people feel that you respect them and their product or service, this can go a lot farther than being seen as just a source of your revenue.

Ultimately, plan, prepare and then take action and you will find yourself not only attracting great JV partners but also making good friends along the way.

"I’ve always found it very important to do your homework first and then talk."
Irwin M. Jacobs, Qualcomm Inc. CEO

Sunday, March 14, 2010

7 Signs That It's Time to Fire a Client

Copyright 2006 Donna Gunter

It's an issue faced by business owners worldwide -- having to let go of, or "fire" a client. When I started my business, it's not a situation I ever thought I would face, as I was happy to take on almost anyone that wanted to hire me. However, over time, my client scrutinizing skills became more acute, and I began to realize that not every client is a perfect client for me. In fact, more than 50% of the people I speak with are not a good fit for one reason or another. Just like Donald Trump in "The Apprentice", sometimes you just have to say, "You're fired!"

What happens to your business when you keep clients that are PITA (I'll let you figure out that acronym) clients? All of your time and energy is drained in serving these clients, you lose any enthusiasm you ever had for your business, and you no longer have the time or desire to go out and market yourself and continue to fill your client roster. You become angry and resentful of the clients that are dragging you down and begin to question yourself about why you started a business in the first place.

Disengaging from a poor client choice can be painful, and often it's not easy. However, given the alternative, letting go of that client is a healthy route to follow. I found a great quote on the topic of "letting go" by author Benjamin Shield in his book, Handbook for the Soul: "Letting go is one of the most difficult challenges human beings ever face. I've always pictured letting go as transformation moving from a closed fist to an open hand. As we take an open-handed attitude toward life, we can be free of the self-made obstructions that litter our path. This process requires a willingness to shed our persona--those inauthentic trappings we hold onto for identity but that no longer serve us. The choice to let go frees us to follow the pathway to our soul."

I can very much relate to this quote -- freeing yourself from a bad client choice does provide the pathway to follow your soul. Finding the perfect clients with whom you resonate will bring joy back into your life and business once again, thus putting you back in touch with your business and life vision and reconnecting to your soul. Life is too short to work with PITA clients. Check your client roster against these 7 signs -- is it time for you to shake out your client roster?

1. You dread every phone call from the client. If you're constantly ducking someone's call because you find it painful or exhausting to speak with them, or the conversation invariably makes you angry or resentful, it's time to take some action to remedy the situation. How much more would you enjoy your day-to-day client interactions if you looked forward to taking your client's calls?

2. The client nitpicks every single expense and insists that tasks should take anyone else as long to do. I've had clients who "knew" I was shortchanging them and insisted that what I was doing for them wouldn't take others in my field as long to complete, and I should adjust my bill accordingly. I've discovered that this lack of trust is about the client, not about me, and that I'm more than competent and skilled in what I do. Don't let a "nitpicker" make you doubt yourself --there are other client fish in the sea.

3. Emergency requests are the only type of requests your client makes of you. No one likes to be under the gun, and trying to do something quickly and under pressure stifles all creativity and thoroughness. Some people are addicted to adrenaline and like to stay in the urgent all the time. However, living the urgent is a high-stress way to live your life, and the toll it takes on body and spirit is substantial. A better client choice is someone who adequately plans and prepares his time, so that emergencies are rare.

4. Lack of client follow-through prevents any progress from being made. Do you spend all of your time with a client in review of plans and what's supposed to be done, yet seldom ever get to the point of completion so that you can move to the next stage? Nothing is more frustrating than a client who says she wants to achieve a certain result, but seems to be immobilized in the planning stage. Consequently, you spend all of your time with the client in review rather than in action. Perhaps you're able to put on a "coaching" hat and help the client see the roadblocks she's facing. However, if she's unwilling to discuss what's stopping her and your frustration level is growing at her lack of action, it's probably time to cut her loose and let her go.

5. Your client loves to micromanage. Typically, when I'm hired by a client, they have a problem to solve and I offer the perfect solution to their problem. However, I've had clients who don't let me solve their problem in the way that I think is best. They insist on having to approve every step along the way and must be involved in every single detail. In many cases, they are accustomed to having employees and erroneously believe that good management entails micromanaging each step an employee takes. A great client is someone who hires you to solve a problem and doesn't really care how you resolve it -- they are willing to give you the room and latitude to bring your experience to the table and help them resolve their issue.

6. Delegation is a skill completely foreign to your client. Most business owners know that in order to be successful in your business, you can't do it all alone. A successful business owner has a great team to which she consistently delegates tasks that she doesn't have the time to do, while she is out there looking for new business opportunities. If your client refuses to let go of anything and insists on doing the very things you were hired to do, your client hasn't grasped the notion of "lost opportunity costs". Sometimes it's simply easier for a business owner to work "in" the business rather than "on" the business, as the latter usually means that you have to be in the marketing and sales mode -- a mode that many business owners hate. A great client does what she does best and delegates the rest.

7. Money issues plague your client. Can your clients really afford to hire you? Sometimes they're in a start-up phase, or they're just experiencing a cash flow crunch. They obsess over your fee in every conversation that you have, and are usually slow to pay your invoices. The time and energy you spend in chasing their payment is very draining. A better client is one who understands your payment requirements and is easily able to afford and pay your fee.

I realize that it takes time and a visit to the "school of hard knocks" to finely tune your ability to choose clients that are a perfect fit for you. Take a look at your standards for running your business -- perhaps to need to raise them so that you can make better client choices. And, the first standard to put into place is that you don't work with any clients you don't enjoy. Let go of those clients who are causing you pain, and new clients that are a better fit will show up in their place -- guaranteed!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

7 Signs of an Entrepreneur

Do you have the right personality type to successfully run your own business?

It takes an entrepreneurial fire in your belly to start a business and make it succeed. Not everyone has it.

How do you know if you have what it takes to start a business? There's really no way to know for sure. But I do find things in common among the emotional and family fabric of people ready to consider an entrepreneurial venture.

You don't have to fit all seven of these categories to be a good candidate for entrepreneurship. But it probably wouldn't hurt. In general, the more you have in common with these characteristics, the closer you probably are to being ready to try going out on your own.

1. You come from a line of people who couldn't work for someone else. I don't mean that in a negative way. People who are successful at establishing their own business tend to have had parents who worked for themselves. It's usually easier to get a job with a company than to start your own business; people who strike out on their own often have the direct example of a parent to look to.

2.You're a lousy employee. No need to sugar-coat this one. People who start their own businesses tend to have been fired from or quit more than one job. I'm not saying you were laid off for lack of work or moved from one job to a better-paying one. You were asked to leave, or you quit before they could fire you. Think of it as the marketplace telling you that the only person who can effectively motivate and manage you is yourself.

3.You see more than one definition of "job security." I am truly envious of the few people I know who have stayed with one employer for 25 or 30 years. They look very secure. But how many people do you know who are able to stay with one company for that long? In a rapidly changing economy, job security can be frighteningly fleeting.

4. You've gone as far as you can go, or you're not going anywhere at all. Sometimes the motivation to start a new venture comes from having reached the top of the pile where you are, looking around, and saying, "What's next?" Early success can be wonderful, but early retirement can sometimes drive energetic and motivated people totally crazy.

5. You've done the market research already. Don't even talk to me about your great business idea if you haven't put the time into figuring out if there's a market for your product or service. As the people behind any number of failed Internet ventures will tell you, "cool" doesn't necessarily translate into "profitable." Don't bother building it if you haven't figured out whether there's a good chance the customers will come.

6. You've got the support of your family. Starting a business is stressful under the best of circumstances. Trying to do it without the support of your spouse or other significant family members or friends would probably be unbearable.

7. You know you cannot do it alone. You might excel at promoting a business. Maybe you love running the financial end of the enterprise. You could be someone who starts a business because you have unique creative or technical know-how to create a product.

Any of the above is possible, but it's unlikely that you are going to excel at all of these tasks — or at all of the tasks involved in running any business. Forget all that doing it alone stuff. You are going to need some help sometime.

The willingness to get that help — having employees, partners or consultants for those areas in which you are not an expert — is one indicator of likely future success. "No successful entrepreneur has ever succeeded alone," development consultant Ernesto Sirolli writes in "Ripples From the Zambezi." "The person who is most capable of enlisting the support of others is the most likely to succeed."

Friday, March 12, 2010

7 Pitfalls of Using Email to Sell

* Fear of rejection. The sheer negative force of anticipating rejection makes people turn to e-mail to generate new prospect relationships because it hurts less to not get a reply than to hear that verbal "no."

* Getting blocked by gatekeepers and voicemail. When salespeople don't know how to break through the barriers of gatekeepers and voicemail, they start thinking, "Forget it -- it's not worth the aggravation, and it takes too much energy. I'll just e-mail instead."

However, when you try to use e-mail to offer your product or service to someone who doesn't know you, you can't possibly establish the natural dialogue between two people that allows the trust level to reach the level necessary for a healthy, long-term relationship.

We all know how much everyone hates e-mail spam, but even so, many salespeople are still sending introductory e-mails to decisionmakers. They feel that, because they're from a credible organization, they won't be associated with the negative image of a spam solicitor.

However, these introductory e-mails typically contain the traditional three-part sales pitch -- the introduction, a mini-presentation about the products and services being offered, and a call to action -- and this traditional selling approach instantly tells the recipient of the e-mail that your only goal is to sell your product or service so you can attain your goals, and not theirs.

If you're still using email to sell, watch out for these 7 pitfalls:

1. Avoid sales pitches. If you feel you must use e-mail to start a new relationship, make your message about issues and problems that you believe your prospects are having, but don't say anything to indicate that you're assuming that both of you are a match.

2. Stop thinking that e-mail is the best way to get to d ecisionmakers. Traditional selling has become so ineffective that salespeople have run out of options for creating conversation, both over the phone and in person. However, it's best to view e-mail as a backup option only, not as a way to create new relationships. Try to use it primarily for sending information and documents after you've developed a relationship with a prospect.

3. Remove your company name from the subject line. Whenever you put your company and solution first, you create the impression that you can't wait to give a presentation about your

product and services. Your subject line should be a humble reference to issues that you may be able to help prospects solve.

4. Stop conditioning your prospects to hide behind e-mail. When you e-mail prospects, it's easy for them to avoid you by not responding. Also, they get used to never picking up the phone and having a conversation with you -- and they may want to avoid you because they're afraid that, if they show interest in what you have to offer, you'll try to close them. This creates sales pressure -- the root of all selling woes. This avoidance becomes a vicious circle. If you learn to create pressure-free conversations, you'll find that you'll start getting phone calls from prospects who aren't afraid to call you.

5. Avoid using e-mail as a crutch for hand ling sticky sales situations. Are prospects not calling you back? Many salespeople who call me for coaching ask how they can get themselves out of sticky situations with prospects -- but the e-mails they've sent have already triggered those prospects to retreat. It's tricky to come up with the correct softening language in an e-mail that will re-open a conversation with a prospect who has decided to close off communication -- direct, person-to-person phone calls or meetings are much easier and more human.

6. Avoid using "I" and "we." When you start an introductory e-mail with "I" or "we," you immediately give the impression that you care only about selling your solution, rather than being open to a conversation that may or may not lead to a mutually beneficial match between what you have to offer and the issues your prospect may be trying to solve. If you can change your sales language to a natural conversation, your prospect will be less likely to stereotype your message as a spam solicitation.


7. If you can, stop using e-mail selling altogether. There is a way to renew your confidence and eliminate your reluctance to picking up the phone and have pleasant conversations with potential prospects. Learn a completely new way of working with gatekeepers that will get you past voicemail and to your decisionmakers without the rejection and frustration that are inevitable with traditional selling approaches.

For all these reasons, you should think of e-mail as your last resort. If you can learn to pick up the phone without fear, start a trusting conversation with a gatekeeper, learn how to go beyond voice mail and find your decisionmakers, you'll join the many who have made their own personal selling breakthrough.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

7 No Cost Tips to Market Your Business

Marketing a business can be fun, exciting and creative. It can also be very frustrating and expensive if one doesn’t know what outcome they are looking for or how to evaluate cost effective methods of marketing.

Over the years people have come to know me for my unique ability to develop low cost and no cost strategies to market and promote a business, product or service. Strategies that have realized incredible returns.

Some of my successes have included:

- Before my last book was published I pre-sold over $8,000 in books
- Over 250 people registered for a recent seminar in less than 2 weeks and the cost to promote was under $25
- One company used my strategies for a career expo and made over $180,000 in consulting fees
- One speaker sold over $23,000 in product sales back of the room at a two hour seminar with strategies outlined in my program

I don’t share this to impress anyone, rather to impress upon you when using the right strategies for your market, you can realize some incredible results.

People have also come to know me as someone who is a stickler when it comes to putting systems in place. My marketing successes are a direct result of the systems I have implemented.

With a bit of forethought, planning and desire, you can successfully market your business in a very effective manner. Below are seven proven strategies sure to increase visibility, leads and sales.

1. Business Cards
Business cards are often one of the most underutilized tools in one’s marketing.
Use the front and back of your business card to gain full benefit. Depending on your market you can put some very valuable information on the back such as a sports schedule, emergency numbers, or special dates people want to remember.

Keep some in your wallet, your automobile, on your desk, and some at home. Be sure to carry them with you wherever you go and be willing to hand them out as opportunity presents itself.

Creatively distribute your card. When you eat out you can leave one with the tip.
If you borrow a library book, use one as a book mark. Hand them to clerks in stores who may know other people who could use your product or service.

When someone gives you their business card be sure to enter their information in your database. Send them a short note or email within 48 hours of meeting them to keep your name fresh in their mind.

2. Send a picture
A great way to keep your name fresh in a customer’s mind is to send them a picture of when they purchased a product or service from you.

Put a picture of a buyer’s auto purchase in a beautiful calendar. Likely, the proud owner of the vehicle will display the calendar for the next 365 days.

For specialty gift shops, when a customer makes a substantial purchase, have a picture taken with the shop owner. Frame the picture and send it to the customer.
Chances are very good the picture will be displayed proudly for friends and family to see.

A dentist who specializes in smile makeovers can easily arrange to have a professional makeup artist and photographer capture the patient’s beautiful new smile. No doubt the patient will be more than happy to show others their new look.

3. Associations
Associations particular to your market are a great resource for marketing. There are associations specific to virtually any industry, job type or business. A quick web search will likely show you how much is available.

A major opportunity within many organizations is the chance to network. Additionally, to make presentations. Along with presentations come publications.
Often, when you do a presentation, you will get a mention in the association newsletter, their Ezine and/or on their website.

In many cases, when an organization has a newsletter or Ezine, they welcome the presenter writing a press announcement for them. It saves them time and often assures you have a better chance of the information making it into the publication.

They may also welcome you writing an article for their publication or website.
This lends itself to pre-presentation visibility. Additionally, you will position yourself as an expert and increase credibility.

Most organizations have the following opportunities that can help you to gain visibility and do some very effective marketing:

-Internet listings
-Links to you website
-Discounted advertising rates
-Networking opportunities
-Business referral services
-Special recognition events
-Education seminars
-Business and membership directories

In many cases you will need to be a member of the association to take advantage of the multiple marketing opportunities. In other cases membership is not necessary.

4. Committee Involvement
Committee involvement is a great way to give back to the association or community while building visibility for you and your business. In some cases, you may even want to get involved in a committee where you have little experience or knowledge. This will give you an opportunity to stretch yourself and meet and network with individuals you may not have otherwise had the chance to meet.

5. Contests and drawings
Contests are a favorite for many businesses such as restaurants or those that have high foot traffic. Contests are a great way to build your database quickly.
You are generating very hot leads when you have a contest with people who have already frequented your place of business. The key though is to do back -end marketing. Far too many businesses hold contests, get lots of names and do nothing with them. In this case, it is a complete waste of time to hold a contest.
You can advertise a contest to gain new foot traffic in your place of business.
Trade show booths are a great place to hold a contest. Pre-show marketing helps to generate traffic at your booth. Invite people to stop by booth # _____ (whatever your booth is) to enter to win. Creative contests can also generate free publicity.

6. Cross-promoting
Join with other companies who have products or services that compliment yours and promote each other. Let’s say you have a massage business. You could partner with a candle company to sell their candles to your massage clients. They can give out coupons for your massage business. Or the candle company can partner with a gift basket company. Cross-promoting is only limited by your imagination.

This can considerably cut down the cost of business promotion and allow each business to use promotion techniques that might be too expensive to implement alone.

7. Bonuses
Secure special offers from various businesses who want to share a similar market as you. When a customer buys a minimum amount they receive a bonus packet with the various offers from the other vendors. This is a win/win all the way around. The other vendors gain visibility, you have something extra to offer you customers and the customers get incredible value for their purchase.

Be aware of who you cross-promote and joint venture with. You want someone who will be equally committed to a campaign.