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Book Recommendation: Selling From the Inside Out

I originally purchased this book a few years ago in support of a sales consultant and trainer I greatly admired. I started reading it earlier this month and found it to be outstanding. Selling from the Inside Out was written by Tom Redmond. He specializes in the insurance industry, but the book can easily be applied to salespeople in any industry.Screen Shot 2017-02-24 at 2.01.55 PM

A few key points Tom makes really well:

  • Call reluctance. This is a major reason why salespeople don’t sell enough. He highlights 12 different forms of call reluctance in the book. Just for that

    content

    the book is worth buying.

  • Are they ready? When we’re talking to a qualified prospect interested in our products or services we should ask them directly if they are prepared to fire their existing provider. By asking this question they’ll know you’re serious about moving them to your company. This gets to how important it is to spend time with qualified prospects. A key reason salespeople don’t make their numbers is because they waste time talking to the unqualified or people not ready to move forward.

  • Recycled proposals. Don’t just cut and paste from old proposals to create new proposals. Just the act of doing that puts you in the wrong frame of mind to serve the new prospect in an entirely original way that suits their company. Don’t do it! Sure you can copy over some elements but get away from automating the process of churning out proposals. It will work against you.

The book is full of many other gems. Tom has a good sense of humor, too. You can grab this book for the incredibly low amount of just $19.95 from Amazon here.

Covered California Rates Going Up!

From the bad news for small businesses department comes this story. There are several carriers claiming that healthcare costs keep going up so they must raise rates for their plans that are offered by Covered Calfornia. So, although they raised their rates last year and this year, they now want to raise them by 13% next year.Screen Shot 2017-02-24 at 2.00.04 PM

That’s 3x the increase of the last two years. Read more about it from the San Mateo Daily Journal here. I cover the health plan for one of my employees and hope to do so for the other one soon, but I have to say that a big hike in the rates next year is going to hurt.

If you have questions about health plan options, I highly recommend a chat with my broker, Julie Foster. She’s a whiz when it comes to understanding the overly complex and costly world of health insurance plans for businesses.

Is Your Company’s Service Good or GREAT?

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I’ve rented cars from Budget, Enterprise, and Alamo. I’m only going to talk about the latter two since my experience with Budget was not good and will take too long to detail. Ping me if you want to hear about it.

Good Service

When I rented with Alamo, I was served pretty quickly and got a nice car that served me well at the price I expected to pay. You see, there was nothing wrong, but there was no gesture or individual who stands out in my mind.

 

Great Service

When I rented with Enterprise I was just so impressed with how friendly a young lady named Dieonna was. She helped me find my car out on the lot, introducing herself by name with a big smile. After showing me my car, she invited me to examine it to ensure there were no visible issues. After giving it the once over I thought it looked just fine.

Dieonna confirmed my appraisal, then left to go get the keys for me. Then, a strange thing happened. She couldn’t find the keys! Dieonna sincerely apologized for the inconvenience and offered to help me find another car. I asked for a white car. We found a 2017 Hyundai Elantra with less than 400 miles on it. I liked the idea of being just the 2nd or 3rd driver of the new car. She had the keys for this one.

Dieonna then gave me her personal business card in case I had any issues or questions, and offered me a cold bottle of water for the road. I couldn’t recall ever being offered a cold drink with my rental car. Overall I thought this was an exemplary service experience.

Enterprise makes it a point to create summer internships for students, then offer full-time jobs to new college graduates. Read more about that here. These jobs give the new hires a real opportunity to establish themselves in a professional company. These new employees, like Dieonna, are educated young people eager to make a difference in their first professional position. I like the strategy!

What About Your Service?

What’s it like when people do business with your company? Are they simply satisfied by getting what they expect, like my Alamo experience? Or, are they wowed by simple touches that raise the bar, like my Enterprise experience? A business card and a bottle of water together come to less than a dollar. And people say you can’t get much for a dollar anymore…

Trends we shouldn’t ignore

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I teach a Business 100 class at Skyline College. In one lecture, I teach that marketers control the 4 Ps – product, place, promotion, and price. What they can’t control are environmental factors around them. However, just because they can’t control them doesn’t mean they should ignore them. Any one of the factors can have a massive impact on one’s business if we didn’t consider approach to handling it and building off it beforehand.

Let’s look at 6 common factors and while we do so, consider how this factor could, or already is, affecting your business and what you can or should do about it.

Political

You know that Trump is affecting America and the world after just a brief time in office. But what are you going to do about it in relation to your business? If you are a therapist, you might advertise that you can help people with their T.I.A.D. What’s that? It’s Trump Induced Anxiety Disorder. Do a Google search for Trump induced anxiety and you’ll see lots of hits. One filmmaker took action and created a funny video about his own anxiety. It went viral and just might increase his fame and bring him work. You can see the video here.

I brainstormed with one client yesterday on how he might make a marketing move in relation to this political force. I can’t say what you should do, but I do want you to spend some time thinking about it.

Technological

The robots are coming. And, they’re bringing pizza. If you live in certain parts of Germany or the Netherlands, you may receive a Domino’s pizza delivered to you by a 6-wheeled robot. It’s true! Domino’s even delivered a pizza by drone in New Zealand previously. You can read about this advance here. You might think this is too far off to matter, but, wait! DoorDash is going to start trialing the use of the same robots right in the Bay Area. You can read the article from Fortune here. In Nagasaki, Japan there’s already a hotel run mostly by robots. You can see it in action here. In Dusseldorf, Germany robots are parking cars at the airport. Watch the fascinating video here.

The bottom line is this: Robots are here and the use of them by business is growing. What can you do in relation to this trend?

Social and Cultural Forces

Millennials are having an impact in businesses. In many ways they are quite different from earlier generations. Here’s one article comparing them to the Silent generation, the group preceding the Boomers. This article talks about what millennials want from retail. This Gallup article talks about what millennials want from the workplace. Here’s a one-paragraph excerpt from the article that sheds light on the topic.

Millennials apply the same mindset of “change” to the workplace. They want to be free of old workplace policies and performance management standards, and they expect leaders and managers to adapt accordingly. They see work and life as closely intertwined. Because of this, millennials want to have a different relationship with their manager. They want their manager to care about them as an employee and a person. Gallup has discovered that 62% of millennials who feel they can talk with their manager about non-work-related issues plan to be with their current organization one year from now.

If your business isn’t yet addressing what millennials want at work, or what they want in terms of product, service, transparency, and mobile-first marketing from the brands they do business with, it’s time to start.

I hope these few trends help you to understand how much the world is changing or has already changed around us. Spend regular time researching trends and brainstorming with a team to think about ways to do something with your business to meet the trend and win with it. Of course, I’m always available to join the brainstorming session with you.

What’s Happened to the Promise of 3D Printing?

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Do you recall the advent of 3D printing? You may have seen some really nifty items in your local Staples that were printed using 3D technology. The idea was that 3D printing was now poised to go mainstream.

The Problem: The Market

MakerBot is the company that promised to usher in this new age of consumer printing back in 2009. Problem is it’s not happened. They’ve since laid off 20% of their staff two times in 2015. This article from Mashable explains one reason why consumers are staying away. It’s too hard to use the printers!

Apparently MakerBot or its parent got the message last year as they have pivoted and are trying to target schools more than consumers. This pivot in strategy will hopefully prevent additional layoffs while the market decides just how interested it is in 3D printing.

Are You Listening?

This brings us to your company. Are you pursuing a market that’s not there (at least to the degree that you once thought)? Are you listening to what the market is saying? Are you holding strategy and brainstorming sessions to determine how to change course?

What’s happened to MakerBot and 3D consumer printing in general is a clear warning to be careful about believing in your own vision too strongly.

  • There are times to hold fast and then there are times to move on. The key is knowing the difference.

This type of thinking might also hold true when it comes to a person you’ve hired.

  • By what time should they show the promise you saw in them when you brought them on to the team? Or, alternatively, should they be placed in a different position that better utilizes their talents?

I believe we can learn a lot from the MakerBot story and apply that thinking to our businesses. This is about much more than 3D printing.

The Bane of Small Business Existence

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One of the banes of small business existence is figuring out the whole online marketing puzzle. It really is a Rubik’s cube, isn’t it? Well, here’s one answer for you: unify your online listings to increase Google visibility and SEO strength. This is a tip for businesses that have a physical address.

The fact is that many businesses have more than one way of listing their name and address. For example, my business address is listed as:

533 Airport Blvd., Suite 400, Burlingame, CA 94010
533 Airport Blvd., #400, Burlingame, CA 94010
533 Airport Blvd., Burlingame, CA 94010

I know they don’t look that different, but trust me when I say that Google doesn’t see these as the same. Updating your listings across 50 different sites on the internet can be a real time-consuming chore. Thanks to Moz Local for providing a way to automate the chore for just $84 for a one-year period.

First, do a free analysis here to see if there are discrepancies across listings or ones that are incomplete (like the one missing my suite #). If you see room for improvement, then go forward and pay them the $84 for the valuable service of taking care of it for you. Another step towards online mastery will be complete. Let me know if you have any questions about this. I’ll put you in touch with Ken who gets all this even better than I do.

Don’t Be Donnie Discounter

It’s time for a new sales-related video that’s up on my YouTube Channel. This clip talks about a trap that salespeople can fall in to and that’s frequent discounting.

Giving away extra services that should be charged for would also apply here. While it’s good to be aggressive and seek to capture every sale opportunity, it’s harmful to a business to discount regularly. It also doesn’t bode well for a sales person to always walk with a crutch.

Watch the video here. If you know a salesperson who’s caught in this trap, please do share it with them.

Book Recommendation: Grit

Boy do I have a GOOD ONE for you this time around! This brand new book unravels a mystery that has bedeviled the leaders at West Point for years: Why do a certain number of cadets drop out during the 7-week basic training nicknamed Beast Barracks even though their formal education hasn’t started yet? It’s incredibly difficult to get in to West Point. So, you’d think that nearly every person accepted would tough it out through Beast.Screen Shot 2017-02-24 at 1.45.59 PM

Well, the leaders studied the students in many ways but still hadn’t come across a method that would accurately predict who would make it and who wouldn’t until they met the Grit Scale.

Got Grit?

The Grit Scale, presented in the book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, written by Angela Duckworth, is a unique test. It looks at a variety of factors, but what it measures best is who has the grit necessary to ride out difficult times to last until they achieve their ultimate goals.

Many among us feel that natural talent is what is the basis for some of the highest achieving people in our midst, but that would be missing another huge factor. Passion and perseverance will cause a person to make effort after effort tirelessly over a long period to make it. In fact, in the formula for what takes a person from talent to achievement, effort counts twice. Talent times effort equals skill. Then, skill times effort equals achievement. See how talent alone can fall short?

If you don’t have much talent, then you’ll have to put in even more effort to develop skill.

The author makes a fascinating observation in the book that we as a society seem to be biased towards admiring the gifted and talented over those who succeeded through sheer effort. One reason for this may be that it’s easier for us to feel good about ourselves when we are able to say, “Well, they are super successful because they were bestowed an incredible natural ability.”

Grit is a great book for you if you want to learn more about achievement and what drives it. If you’d like to take the Grit Scale, you can take it here. My grit score was 4.0.

Your Story

I was blessed to be a Coach and Speaker at the 22nd annual Women in Technology Summit. The event had great energy and a clearly positive vibe.
I led two Coaching Circles: one on LinkedIn and the other on Small Business. At the latter one I was asked a really good question that’s pertinent to owners of small businesses. The question was: “How important is having a story as a small business owner?”

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My answer was that it’s REALLY important. A great story will draw people in to your business with curiosity and interest. It’s your hook. After you’ve hooked them your offering should take over.

The 11-year-old Shark Tank Contestant

Here’s an example, 11-year-old Mikaila Ulmer was on Shark Tank with her special variety of lemonade. The recipe it’s based on originated with her grandmother. Mikaila updated the recipe by adding some local honey and other ingredients and wants to support bees with some of the proceeds. The lemonade is now called Me & The Bees Lemonade. Can you imagine this little girl coming to the auditions for Shark Tank among all the older entrepreneurs? She stood way out.

Her story hooked them and got her a $60,000 investment. It also hooked Whole Foods. They loaned her some working capital to increase her flavors and ramp up production. Her lemonade is sold in 55 Whole Foods markets. The first link on her site is Our Story.

Shinola

Have you heard of this brand? It’s based in beleaguered Detroit and their flagship product is a line of reasonably expensive watches. In reality this brand was built from the ground up to be an American success “story”. The founder, Tom Kartsotis, made his riches from the Fossil watch brand and came up with this great story that he believed would capture hearts and minds: A new great American brand that is made in Detroit by people formerly displaced by offshoring. They even invested a pretty penny to purchase the Shinola brand name, which dates back to WWI. The plan has worked beautifully. Their revenue last year exceeded 100 million dollars according to this Inc article.

 

So, What’s Your Story?

 

Now you may not think you have a great story behind your brand, but I believe you do. You may have to dig back in to your past, ask a few people who know you well, and even get a creative writer to help you put it in to words that hook people in. BUT, IT’S WORTH IT. As Shinola, and Me & The Bees have proven, you can take your story to the bank.

Book Recommendation: Be Still

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This month’s book recommendation is a new one from Pico Iyer, a very popular TED speaker. It’s entitled, The Art of Stillness. Interestingly, Pico’s a travel writer who’s been around the world. But, his talk isn’t about what it’s like to go to North Korea or the Himalayas. Instead it’s about going nowhere. He has found that by taking time to just be still for regular periods, he’s able to be better prepared for motion and commotion.

Fairly sensible thought, isn’t it? The book is about how Pico does it; and how you can, too. Nestled among the pages are 2-page spreads of beautiful open spaces that make you think of calmness and serenity. If it’s time for you to slow down and be still, then this book may be coming along at just the right time. At just 66 pages you’ll be able to walk slowly through it in no time, giving you yet more time to be still. Find it on Amazon.