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What’s Your Best Strategy?

A few days ago, a poll at SellingPower.com caught my eye, where it asked “What is your best strategy for this economy?” Here were the results:

  • Focus on better prospects: 33%
  • Make more calls: 25%
  • Improve sales process: 29%
  • Reduce risk of buying 8%
  • Lower price: 2%
  • Get better technology: 2%

I find these results interesting. First off, on a positive note, I’m glad to see only 2% responded by stating they’d lower their price. Though the skeptic in me wonders if they just don’t want to admit that’s one of the things they’re doing. In a previous entry, a commenter pointed out the special discount this past week on my products as an example of cutting price (by the way the 50% discount ends Friday night). Again, thank you for your comments Chris! However, the engine of my business for nearly 25 years has been speaking engagements, and in fact my fee went up in 2008 by 20%! Offering an aggressive discount on product means they get into more hands and my message gets out to more people, some of which have the ability to hire me!

I’m also thrilled to see that 25% said they’d make more calls, because many salespeople don’t make enough calls.what does “more calls” mean to you? Is it one more call; two; three; maybe ten.

If you’ve read anything I’ve ever written on prospecting, listened to my audio program, Don’t Count the Yes’s, Count the No’s, or watched my prospecting DVD, Prospecting Skills that Work, you know how important it is to specifically quantify the amount of calls you need to make. Anytime you leave something vague or open ended, it makes it way too easy to stop doing it! Without a plan, “Make More Calls” can be a recipe for disaster.

As far as “improve sales process” and “focus on better prospects,” they both seem pretty vague. I mean so many elements can fall under “sales process.” As far as “better prospects,” some of my least qualified prospects have gone on to be some of my biggest winners, and many times salespeople use “we need better prospects” as an excuse not to sell.

But the good news is: Salespeople and companies are recognizing the crucial need to adapt.

Which brings me to you; I’d like to know: What are some of the strategies you’re using?

If you’re improving your sales process, give specific examples how. If you’re focusing on better prospects, let us know what kind and how you came to that decision. Even if you’re not in sales, any type of personal or professional strategy is welcome!

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Amazing Customer Service In Academia!

Delivering extraordinary customer service is not hard. It doesn’t take any amazing skill or talent. It’s very similar to playing great defense in basketball. Both take a high level of commitment, desire, communication and buy-in from everyone on the team as well as every level of the organization.

The only reason a company or organization would deliver lousy customer service is the same reason the New York Knicks play lousy defense. Not enough people on the team care; from the top on down.

Just recently, I came across extraordinary customer service in academia! Yes, you heard that right; the ivy-covered, sheltered-from-reality world of academia. You and your company now have no excuse.

My daughter Emily will soon be completing her junior year of high school and has started her college search. I suggested to Emily that she check out High Point University: a small liberal arts college in High Point, North Carolina. She agreed and we signed up for a campus tour.

I suggested it because I happen to know the new President, Dr. Nido Qubein. Dr. Qubein is not an academic. He is a highly successful businessman, entrepreneur, speaker, and author with a high-energy, can-do, no excuses attitude. I figured if anyone could create a unique, cutting-edge atmosphere on a college campus, this was the guy.

Dr. Qubein became president of High Point University three years ago. What he inherited was not pretty: a failing institution that was bleeding money and losing students. What he has done in the last three years is nothing short of remarkable.

  • He raised over $100 million in the last 2 years.
  • He made the decision that everyone at High Point would understand that students are customers.
  • He told his professors that their biggest responsibility was to be in the classroom, be accessible and educate students.

Everyone who works for the university is friendly, accessible and gives you the impression there’s no task too tough to handle. Dr. Qubein wants every student to have an extraordinary experience in a fun atmosphere. Let me take you through our tour in order for you to really appreciate it.

First Emily, Linda (my wife) and I pulled into the visitor parking lot. Now each parking space has an electronic sign. We found our space and the sign read “Welcome Emily Greshes.” Remember, it’s those small unique touches that people remember.

Next we walked into the admissions building where up on the wall was another electronic sign welcoming all the students who were there for the 2PM tour. Each student was greeted by a separate admissions counselor. Pretty amazing since there were about 10 to 15 students there for tours. She briefed us on the university, told us what would happen on the tour, answered our questions and then turned us over to our tour guide. Our tour guide took us around campus in a golf cart, with two other students and their parents.

What we saw was amazing…

The grounds were perfectly groomed with beautiful flowers everywhere. While the university is 80 years old, there isn’t a single building (dorms included) that isn’t either brand new or completely renovated.

Class sizes are no more than 20 students per class. The entire campus is wireless. The new School of Business building was designed to be exactly like the Harvard School of Business. The dorms look like hotels. A freshman girls dorm had two, three and four bedroom apartments with a kitchen, dining area, common area and bathroom. The bedrooms were singles and each apartment accommodated 2 people per bathroom. The dorms had lounges on each floor with flat-screen televisions, leather recliners and games like foosball.

Now for more of those unique small touches…

In today’s crazy world, I’m sure many of you (like me) worry about security on campus, especially those of you with daughters. At High Point U, the campus police are right in the middle of campus next to the Student Union. If you get back to campus late one night and can’t find a parking spot near your dorm all you need to do is drive over to the campus police; they will take your keys; valet park your car for free and shuttle you to your dorm.

There is an ice cream truck that drives around campus dispensing free ice cream. We met the driver: he’s the Student Body President! They’re lucky my son Michael doesn’t go to school there or that truck would be out of business. There are also outdoor kiosks on campus that will dispense hot coffee, hot chocolate, and breakfast snacks for FREE to any student who is rushing to class and didn’t have time for breakfast.

The new Student Union has an outdoor pool with a hot tub (Emily was sold). Since High Point is the furniture capital there are leather recliners all over campus. Linda was so impressed she asked Dr. Qubein if she could apply for admission.

Needless to say, enrollment is soaring and better yet, so is retention. And just in case you’re wondering, and I’m sure you are, the price represents one of the best values in America for a private school.

It’s amazing what an organization can do when everyone is on the same page and is committed to the same thing! If it can be done in the stodgy, resistant-to-change halls of academia, it can be done anywhere.

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Entrepreneurship: It’s About Getting What YOU Want

I’m writing to share with you two great examples of entrepreneurship from a chapter of my book, The Best Damn Sales Book Ever. I also highly recommend a great new book, The One Minute Entrepreneur, by Ken Blanchard and Don Hutson. It is an exciting story about the trials and tribulations of business. You can take part in their special offer by clicking here.

…This is an excerpt from Chapter 15 of The Best Damn Sales Book Ever:

When I ask,“Why did you get into sales,” or “Why did you go into this kind of business,” I’ve had way too many people say, “…Because I heard you can make a lot of money in sales,” or, “I heard you can make a lot of money in this kind of business.” I know people who have made a lot of money doing things where others would turn up their noses.

You’ve probably never heard of a man named Randy Repass. He was like so many other people in that he had a job he was disappointed with at a Silicon Valley technology firm, so he turned to his love of boating for relief from the cold, impersonal nature of the high-tech industry. In 1968, working out of his garage in Sunnyvale, California, he began selling nylon rope by mail order under the name West Coast Ropes. Occasionally, adventuresome customers would even drop by to pick up their orders in person.

“I decided from the beginning that I wanted to take care of people,” says Repass.“The high-tech industry didn’t provide me with an effective way to do that. But the boating industry gave me the opportunity to really enjoy my work and interact with customers who shared my interests. I was having a blast and building a business at the same time.”

Repass also saw an opportunity to improve the way people shopped for boating supplies. According to Repass, he was frustrated by the experience of shopping in local chandleries for the parts he needed to outfit his modest day-sailer. “Boat supply stores in those days were usually dark, disorganized places staffed by a couple of salty but indifferent clerks who preferred swapping sea stories with one another to helping customers find what they came in to buy.”

Repass’s dissatisfaction led him to open the first West Coast Ropes store in Palo Alto, California, in 1975. From that one store, a love of boating and a commitment to helping rather than selling enabled Randy Repass to build West Coast Ropes into West Marine, the world’s largest boating supply retailer.

I’m sure that selling tires for a living doesn’t seem like the road to riches or the coolest way to make a living, but don’t tell that to Paul Zurcher.

Mr. Zurcher (I don’t think I’ve ever called him Paul, and even though he’s one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met, I don’t really think I could) left the Armed Forces right after serving in World War II. Having grown up on a farm in rural Indiana, the only thing he knew was that he didn’t want to be a farmer. With the help of a $2,500 loan from a local businessman who took a liking to him and believed in him, Mr. Zurcher bought a one bay service station. As his business grew, he branched out into selling tires. Treating every customer as special (as every customer is), his tire business grew and today Zurcher Tires, more commonly known as “Best One,” is one of the largest retailers and wholesalers of tires in the United States, with stores all over Indiana and the Midwest.

Mr. Zurcher, now in his 80s, is as active in the business as ever. While he certainly doesn’t have to be—his sons, along with other family members and executives, do a great job of running the company— he loves being there as much today as he did 60 years ago.

You know what? You can make a lot of money doing anything, if you really love it and put everything you’ve got into it. Loving what you do is what is going to get you through the hard times when there is no money coming in. It is also the one quality that can help make you great at anything you do.

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Starting Your Own Business: What to Expect Part II

In the second of this two part series based on Discover Card’s “Small Business Watch,” we’re looking at information derived from small business owners that will better prepare you to take that next step into entrepreneurship. Here are some things you might not know but better be prepared for:

  • Nearly one of three business owners, 31 percent, indicated they work at least 10 hours or more per day on average. Only out of five non-business owners, 19 percent, worked the same each day.
  • 15 percent of small business owners work every day of the week, more than twice as many, 6 percent, as the general population. Similarly, 28 percent of small business owners work six days a week, compared to 15 percent of the general population.
  • Nearly half of small business owners, 47 percent, said that they always or mostly work on official holidays.

So if you’re used to a 9 to 5 life, think twice before starting a business.

  • More than half of the business owners, 52 percent, took seven days or less off work last year, compared to 36 percent of the general population.
  • 59 percent of small business owners define a “day off” as being available for calls and emails, working some time or even working all day at a remote location. Only 32 percent of the general population does the same.
  • More than half of small business owners, 55 percent, said their spouses approve of them checking email when they are off from work, compared to 37 percent of the general population.
  • “Small business owners are really focused on serving their customers every day. Our survey found that 40 percent of them carry wireless devices to keep in touch with their customers and clients when off work." “Being a small business owner often means that you are always open for business.”

When you’re a small business owner, your life is your business and your business is your life. It’s not even a matter of overlapping; they are totally intertwined.

Also, if you already own a small business or you’re thinking about starting one, then check out our new small business consulting service and give us a call for a free initial consultation.

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Starting Your Own Business: What to Expect Part I

According to the director of Discover’s small business credit card, more than a third of adults are interested in starting their own business some day. If you’re part of that one-third don’t go into it blind. Here are a few things you should be aware of:

In part II, we’ll look at how much time the typical small business owner devotes to his or her business vs. the general working population. Also, if you already own a small business or you’re thinking about starting one, then check out our new small business consulting service and give us a call for a free initial consultation.