Monday, June 24, 2013


imageThis article was written by Barry Mc Kinley, SCORE Orange County Business Mentor

Two of the five top reasons a business fails directly reflects to training employees properly. Many business owners feel that they don’t have the time to spend training a new hire. So they give them a little direction and hope they figure out the rest. Most times your customers serve as the guinea pigs to the new employee’s learning curve. I recently got gas at a gas station and the outdoor terminal indicated for a receipt go inside. With two clerks behind the counter I asked one of them for a receipt and gave her a pump number. She proceeded to start telling me why she couldn’t give me a receipt while the other overhearing the conversation clicked on her terminal and handed me a receipt while the first clerk was still talking. What would have happened if the 2nd clerk had not been there? Interested in the outcome I hung around looking at other merchandise. The 2nd clerk never explained to the first how to get the receipt and the first never asked what she could do in the future. That incident reminded me of a business saying; “What if I train them and they leave? -- What if you don’t train and them and they stay?Sad news for that gas station owner the first untrained employee is sticking around and upsetting customers hourly.

What does it cost to bring a customer to your business? In my case the cost was $85 per customer (I sold expensive items). Now if that new untrained employee talked to 10 customers a day that is costing me $850 per day or $25,550 per month. Wow you could send them to Harvard for that. I wouldn’t even want to think how much profit was lost because of untrained staff.

In setting up your training be sure that the person doing it is knowledgeable and patient. You need to give the trainee a guideline of what will be covered and what is expected. The training instructor needs to be reminded EVERY new person will take time to grasp a new skill. It has been proved to own a skill you need to repeat it at least 30 times. Skilled trainers have learned that telling somebody what to do is NOT effective.

The average person will retain within 24 hours;

7% of what they heard

15% of what they read

25% of what they learned via video or computer training

30% of what you show them

New staff members learn by doing:

50% through discussion

75% by practicing the skill

95% by teaching the skill

Be selective on who does the training. Make one person assume overall responsibility but try to use a buddy system. The training steps should be;

PREPARE – Give them the overall picture and how this job fits.

TELL – Explain thoroughly; break it down into key parts and steps

SHOW– Demonstrate how it is done

DO – Have the trainee perform the task

REVIEW – Provide an honest evaluation and offer helpful constructive criticism

MEASURE – Continually check back to insure they are doing it correctly.

Well trained employees create a happy environment for your customers and you will see immediate increases in sales, profits and customer loyalty.

Take the Chill Out of Cold Calls

imageThis article was written by Harvey McKay, reprinted by permission

Cold calling is dead, or at least it should be. Too many sales people waste their time and energy cold calling for new business, when they can be using technology and the "Invisible Web" to warm up potential customers.

Sam Richter, president of SBR Worldwide, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Actifi, and a world-reknowed sales trainer is a guru on taking the chill out of cold calling. His best-selling book Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling: Web Search Secrets for the Inside Info On Companies, Industries and People shows how being in the "Value Age" is even more central to salespeople than being in the "Information Age." That’s why I wrote the foreward.

My goal is always to learn as much as I can about my prospect and company. When you do that, you’re going to have a warm call, where you position yourself and your company as credible. You capture the interest of your potential customer and ask pertinent questions because you already understand what’s going on in their world.

A cold call isn’t just cold at the start. It leaves you cold at the finish. A value-based warm call defrosts the doorway. It turns practical research into an enticing opportunity.

In his book, Sam shows how to use free or low cost tools to access information on companies, industries and people. Whether it’s effectively using popular search engines or accessing data via the invisible web—the 90 percent of web pages that search engines don’t access—the information that you need for warm calling is out there, if you know where and how to look.

I know it works because MackayMitchell Envelope Company uses his system. He has made a couple presentations to our sales force.

Start by visiting Visit Sam’s Warm Call Resource Center, the corresponding program for Sam’s #1 rated Know More! sales training program, for an updated list of business information web sites, search tips, and download the Warm Call Toolbar so you can access business information resources directly from your browser. (I bite my tongue as I share this choice secret. I can only hope our competitors don’t pick up Sam’s book).

Following are just a few of the search tips you’ll find in Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling. Start using these today to get the information you need to establish your credibility, make a great first impression, provide relevant solutions and take the chill out of any cold call:

  • Google Filetype Search: Imagine finding a competitor’s sales proposal, an association’s membership list, or a high-end research report online. To find files online using Google:
    1. Enter the information you want and/or the company name (use quotations around phrases).

2. Enter filetype: and then choose a filetype extension (pdf = adobe acrobat; xls = Excel spreadsheets; ppt = PowerPoint document; doc = Word document). For example, "plastics industry" + "membership list" filetype:xls will search for a plastics industry membership list in Excel format. "ACME Corporation" filetype:ppt will search for an ACME Corporation PowerPoint presentation. "automotive industry" + trends OR issues filetype:pdf will locate reports and/or articles related to trends or issues in the automotive industry.

  • This business networking site helps you create connections at companies, learn about people, and ask for referrals. Once you’re registered, invite people into your network. Your online network can grow quickly because as people accept your invitations, and as you accept theirs, everyone’s network is shared. Once you’ve built up a good sized network, you can use LinkedIn’s advanced search to start searching for people by name, company, job title and more.
  • ZoomInfo uses sophisticated Web search tools to find information on people, and then it automatically creates an online profile using different information sources. Just enter a person’s name in the ZoomInfo search engine. If it’s a common name, also add their company name.
  • Your Local Library: Most libraries subscribe to premium databases that you can use for free. Want Dun and Bradstreet or ReferenceUSA to research companies, their competitors, executive biographies and more? Want to see if a prospect company you’re visiting has ever been quoted in a local newspaper or cited as an expert in an industry trade journal? Find out which library databases you can access from your computer.

With the amount of information available online today, there is absolutely no excuse for not knowing something about your potential customer before you meet or call. Your prospect couldn’t care less about you. What they do care about is if you can help them achieve their goals.

Mackay’s Moral: If information is power, then use the web to catch customers.

Why Market Research is Important in Business Planning

imageThis article was written by John Rau, SCORE Orange County Business Mentor

Generally speaking, the key elements or sections of a business plan are the following: Executive Summary, Company Description, Market Analysis, Organization and Management, Service or Product Line, Marketing and Sales Plan, Funding Requirements, Financial Projections and, as necessary, Appendices.

The Market Analysis section is extremely important, because before launching your business, it is essential that you research your business industry, market and competitors. That’s what market research is all about, namely, the process of gaining information about your market. The results of market research become the basis of your plan to move forward with your business. Without having performed adequate market research to give you some direction as to where you should be going with your business in the marketplace, you’ll be like Alice when she “came to a fork in the road. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked. ‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat. ‘I don’t know, ‘Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the Cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.”

To get you started, you need to ask yourself some basic questions. The Edward Lowe Foundation, through its Business Builder Program (see suggests that you should get answers to the following questions:

  • Is my market clearly identifiable?
  • What is the size of the market?
  • By what methods am I able to reach it?
  • How fast is the market growing?
  • Can the market be segmented?
  • What types of people buy this product/service?
  • Does the product/service have limited appeal based on geography?
  • What do potential or existing customers like about my competitor’s products/services?
  • What makes my product/service unique relative to others in the marketplace?
  • What are current buyers paying for comparable products/services?
  • What factors are most important to buyers when selecting a product/service: price, quality, delivery time, etc.?
  • What is required to succeed in this market?
  • How many competitors will I be competing against and who are they?
  • If location is important, where are my competitors located relative to my business?
  • Can the market support another player?
  • How do my competitors reach the market?
  • Are my competitors making any changes?
  • Are they successful? If yes, why? If no, why not?
  • How are my competitor’s fees, operations and marketing structured?
  • Is the industry growing?
  • What are the current trends within the industry?
  • Who are the leaders within the industry, and why are they successful?
  • What types of marketing strategies are prevalent within the industry?
  • Is the industry seasonal?
  • Are there regulations that affect the industry?
  • Is there customer loyalty within the industry?
  • Is the industry sensitive to economic fluctuations?
  • Are there technological changes happening or required in the industry?
  • What are the financial characteristics of the industry?

The above list of questions is intended to give you a starting point relative to your market research efforts. You need to get answers to these types of questions in order to give you the basis and direction as to how you want to proceed with your business. Don’t be an “Alice” who had no idea where she was going!

Leadership Principle: People Do What People See

This article was written by John C. Maxwell, in Success Magazine, June 2013 issue, reprinted by permission

Two men, down on their luck, sit on a park bench in shabby clothes watching businesspeople in crisp suits rushing to their offices. The first man says, “The reason I’m here is because I refused to listen to anybody.”

“That so?” replies the second fella. “I’m here because I listened to everybody.”

Both practices are recipes for disaster. Successful people don’t take the advice of everyone, nor do they try to do everything on their own. Instead, they find successful models who exemplify the values, skills and qualities they desire to possess.

If you’re a leader, I hope you have already found models to follow, but that’s not what I want to discuss. I want to ask you this simple question: Are you worthy of followers?

One of the most important leadership principles I’ve discovered is this: People do what people see. When your team looks at you, when they watch what you do day in and day out, what do they see? If they were to emulate you, how would you rate them?

I base my leadership primarily on my values and a pragmatic approach. I do what I know works. But I’m also very conscious of the fact that others are watching me and following my lead.

What I do, they will do. How I work, they will work. What I value, they will value. So I ask myself: What kinds of traits do I want to model?

1. A Passion for Personal Growth

I know too many people who suffer from what I call “Destination Disease.” They’ve identified a certain career position or financial goal they want to reach, and then they work very hard to achieve that goal. But once they get there, they stop working hard and growing.

This mindset creates two problems for leaders. First, it causes them to stall. You’ll stop improving the moment you lose the tension between where you are and where you have the potential to be. Second, it sets a bad example for their followers. Think about it: How many people in your current circle didn’t see your former self, the one who fought hard to achieve? If you’re resting on your laurels, they’ll assume you are doing what you’ve always done and follow suit.

If you feel yourself slowing down, it’s time for a self-assessment. If you’re done working, retire and get out of the way of your business. But if you stay, you must keep striving. If you slacken, your people will do the same—Destination Disease is highly contagious. To keep it from taking hold, set new, higher goals for yourself and make sure your people see you pursuing them. It’s a surefire way to keep your organization humming.

2. A Heart for People

If you’ve ever seen me in person, you know I don’t blitz through a crowd. Instead, I stroll across a room, shaking hands, saying hello, offering smiles. It’s my way of showing that I care.

I’m a busy guy, but these moments are worth the pause. People want to know that the leaders they follow can be trusted. They want to know that the leader cares about them as people, not just as tools to help realize a vision.

Taking this extra time also forces me to stop and listen. How can you add value to people if you don’t know them and understand what they want? So slow down. Talk. Listen. Connect. This practice will not only help you grow as a leader, it will also establish a caring culture across all levels of your organization.

3. An Ability to Coach Others to Reach Their Potential

“The only difference between a rich person and a poor person,” says Rich Dad Poor Dad author Robert Kiyosaki, “is how they use their time.”

Boy—is that statement ever true of successful people! This is one principle I really try to model for my team. You won’t catch me idling. You will see me trying to wring the most out of every day.

Here’s a good place to segue into another way I like to cultivate leaders: by mentoring them. You can model all sorts of valuable traits, but sometimes people need hands-on help, too.

One of the best things I did for a member of my leadership team years ago was to meet with her every few months to talk about her priorities. She was a good leader and got a lot done, but she sometimes lost sight of the big picture. Our regular meetings helped her to stay on track.

If you can learn to coach people, you’ll help them, your organization and yourself. By coaching, I don’t just mean giving people the skills to do a job. That’s training, which does have value. But coaching—that long-term, guiding relationship—is even more impactful. According to the International Personnel Management Association, training increases productivity by 22 percent, while a combination of training and coaching increases it by 88 to 400 percent!

This is a message I practice as much as I preach. Early in my career I offered experienced leaders $100 for 30 minutes of their time, just so I could ask questions of them. That would work out to around $1,000 in today’s dollars. I really couldn’t afford it back then, but it was the best way to learn. Even today, I look for guidance from other leaders I admire.

“You will never maximize your potential in any area without coaching,” my friend Andy Stanley writes in his book Next Generation Leader . “You may be good. You may even be better than everyone else. But without outside input you will never be as good as you could be. Self-evaluation is helpful, but evaluation from someone else is essential.”

So mentor your people. Show them how you seek guidance on your own endless quest for self-improvement. And remember these words by Andrew Carnegie: “As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.”

Are you doing what you want your team to do?