Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Accept Credit Card In Your Business

Should you accept credit card in your business transactions? Many small companies or home-based businesses avoid doing so because of their concern over fees and expenses that may drain away potential profits. Yet the actual cost of implementing credit card payment processing equipment, along with associated monthly and annual fees, may cost less than you think. The application process is easy, many banks are willing to work with small business owners, and exciting profits are possible, so what are you waiting for?

Learning how to accept credit card in your business processing is simple. First you will need to apply for a merchant services account. You can do this by browsing the Internet to find a bank, credit union, or other reputable lender show is willing to help you set up a credit card processing account. Then you will need to decide which equipment plan to go with. You can start small and work your way through increasingly complex layers of sophisticated technology as additional sales bring in extra profit for reinvestment. However, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind as you implement credit card processing strategies for your business.

To accept credit card in your business customers, you should first find a merchant services account provider, often a bank or other financial institution that can help you by underwriting the associated expenses for this type of project. Many lenders will let you apply over the Internet for a merchant services account, and you may receive a response within a day or two. Decide what type of processing will work best with your business. For on-site companies or home-based businesses, you could set up a credit card processor for basic credit payments when a person comes by to purchase your products or services. But if you travel to your customers to deliver goods, you may want to invest in a wireless credit processor that can go with you. Typically these items cost several hundred dollars, or you can lease them for a set monthly fee. Depending on your personal business needs, you may want to get a pager, an e-check and debit processor, or Website credit processing as your business expands into the e-commerce arena.

The next most important way to accept credit card in your business transactions is to set up a Website as an Internet marketing tool. Your merchant account will help you to do this at a pace that will match your company budget. The Website can provide information about your goods and services, price lists, FAQs, industry tips, and a host of other information that will attract customers from around the world. Providing credit card processing service at your site can increase your sales volume and impress customers who are looking for convenient shopping methods without the hassle of waiting for a store to open or a sales associate to offer assistance.

Move your business to the next level of sophistication by applying for a merchant services account so you can accept credit card in your business payments.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Peek into Business Process Re-engineering

Business process re-engineering (BPR) sounds esoteric at best, and maybe a little pretentious. Wouldn’t it be simpler to say business process change?

Most people understand what a business process is but when you combine it with re-engineering, it suddenly sounds vague.

The ProSci-sponsored BPR Online Learning Center calls a business process “a set of activities that transform a set of inputs into a set of outputs (goods or services) for another person or process using people and tools.”

It is simple. The way we interpret that is:

  • there are many ways of doing business,

  • when one of those ways does not work or is considered to be ineffective it has to be improved,

  • certain elements are introduced to make it better (“inputs”),

  • those elements translate into a better product or service,

  • that product or service is supposed to serve another person (a customer, a supplier, a partner)

  • That’s elementary enough, but why do business processes have to be re-engineered?

    It’s All About the Customer (and Competition)

    The philosophy behind business process re-engineering is to please the customer. By delighting him, we get to keep him, turning him into a loyal disciple.

    Rivals have a sneaky way of snatching customers away from us. It’s not because this world is full of sly and evil people, it’s because we tend to sit on our bottoms and think that we’ve finally got it made. We’ve become lax.

    Business process improvement, according to ProSci, is not be confused with business process re-engineering. Instead of improving on current processes, the re-engineering concept says that because the technique is no longer viable, it has to be replaced, abandoned. There’s a need to establish a clean slate, as the BPR Online Learning Center teaches us.

    Business process re-engineering, just like the DMAIC in Six Sigma, presupposes a series of stages: stage 1 involves a definition of the project – its rationale, objectives and scope. Stage 2 covers the entire learning process wherein we obtain as much information as we can about our employees, customers, suppliers and competitors – including non-competitors and align that new information with technology.

    Armed with this knowledge, the next stage – stage 3 - is to set up our mission. Others call it a vision of the future. This requires a new set of business processes. Once we’ve determined the desired outcome of this transition, we move on to the next stage which calls for a plan of action that allows us to measure the gap between our company’s present state and where we want it to go.

    When we get to this stage, solutions logically follow.

    If you’re still wondering what distinguishes business process improvement from business process re-engineering, think of the starting point: are you starting from an existing process and want to improve on it, or do you want to start from scratch?

    Thanks to Information Technology

    Jump to globalization. We’re ushering in new technologies and they’re coming faster than we can learn them. There’s also this whole new talk about customer relationship management (CRM) strategies. We’re huffing and puffing and bursting at the seams. Businesses that have not adapted to global trends or introduced newer technologies into their operations will be clobbered by the competition. Today’s companies cannot afford to sit back and watch while others struggle with changes in the industry.

    Thanks to information technology and the creation of new business models, the world of e-commerce has given new meaning to the way we do business. As Hui-Liang Tsai puts it, “e-commerce is no longer a way to gain competitive advantage, it is a competitive imperative.” (Information Technology and Business Process Re-engineering: New Perspectives and Strategies, Praeger Publishers, Connecticut, 2003). While companies are trying to keep up with technologies, customers are also changing. They are more demanding and are never satisfied. They fall out of love, and don’t necessarily have to explain why.

    Picture the speed with which information is transmitted with just a click of the mouse. It used to be that urgent documents had to be couriered by special messenger or faxed immediately; today, documents are electronically portable. Mr. Tsai says that this phenomenon alone is producing a new crop of workers – he calls them knowledge workers. We are looking at the transformation of industrial society into an information society.

    A Franchise - Your own business, but include support and guidance.

    Many people dream of running their own business and of giving up the day job. Most of these ambitious individuals only have the most basic of skills needed, and recognize that their business would not stand a great chance of success.

    A Franchise is the answer for many of these would-be entrepreneurs.

    A Franchise works by the franchiser selling a business plan to the franchisee. The fee paid may include marketing, a site, a website and vehicles in company livery. The most important thing the franchiser provides is training in implementing the business plan.

    Franchise businesses have a much greater chance of success because the franchisee has training, guidance and supervision in the early stages. This support is expensive and the franchisee may have to pay a percentage of turnover or profits to the franchiser.

    Many high street businesses are run on a franchising business model including McDonalds and many other fast food and coffee businesses. Other favorites are cleaning businesses and vending machine businesses.

    A franchise has disadvantages, too. You have to obtain your supplies from a limited range of approved suppliers, or even, just from the franchiser. You have to stick with the franchiser's business image and are not free to develop or change the business image as you want to.

    You may find franchises from unscrupulous business owners who have decided to offer franchises in an unproven business to make a quick buck. You need to research any potential franchise in great detail, and to make sure the franchiser is part of a Franchise Member Group. If possible, you should talk to others with the same franchise and try to benefit from their experience.

    Franchise operations do offer a supported and easier route into running your own business than just going alone, but there can be heavy upfront costs. Your research will soon show you that most franchises cost between five and twenty thousand dollars. You may find a vending machine franchise for less, and a McDonald’s franchise could cost you a cool $250K.

    Monday, January 18, 2010

    A Comprehensive Guide On Indian Suppliers!

    If you are looking out for Indian suppliers for a variety of product or commodity under the sun, don’t run from pillar to post. Online directories offer you an online one source, from where you can search an Indian supplier of a particular product and at the same time compare the rates and the kind of services too.

    Such directories are updated guide to help a user find anything in this world, with just a click and in few seconds you have your result displayed. Online directory provides marketing services and promotional tools to buyers and sellers to find new trade opportunities and promote their businesses online.

    Directories offer you an online marketplace that facilitates trade between global buyers and sellers. It is open for all the companies looking for global business. You are able to search suppliers by writing the keyword you are looking for or make Indian suppliers find you by posting your buying leads. It provides you with plenty of different categories such as business services, computer and electronics, clothing, textiles and accessories and much more. It offers you either free or paid services in order to find new buyers; it also gives you the possibility to post your product catalogue, post a selling lead or search for new buyers to send them inquires.

    If it is jewellery you are looking for, manufacturer and supplier of indian fashion jewelry, beaded fashion jewelry such as fashion necklaces, resin bangles, glass beaded bracelets, cuff bangle bracelets, metal earings, beaded earrings, metal necklaces set and wooden necklaces whatever it is about jewelry just click and find it yourself. Or find Indian suppliers and manufacturers of fashion necklaces, fashion earrings and fashion bracelets. Also they are engaged in supplying handmade ceramic beads, ceramic beads, millefiori beads, glass beads, handcrafted glass beads and indian glass beads.

    Some of them do provide free and premium membership services using which suppliers can easily create their own homepage to showcase products online, locate and contact global buyers, reply to buying leads and post trade offers to sell. Buyers can use the site for free and can easily search for new products, locate and contact suppliers directly, post buying leads and use advanced e-marketing and communication tools to chat and meet the suppliers.

    Your work is reduced to such an extent as you can now find your Indian suppliers for all your products. Without much processing time, or money shelled out, just find simple solutions to your queries easily. Reach out now! Just play around with your mouse, just a click.

    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.

    Saturday, January 16, 2010

    I Remember Going To The Event But I Don't Remember Much Else.

    Hey, Jack! That seminar I sent you to last week? Any chance you can give us all an overview at the team meeting?" Jack's boss had just delivered his worst nightmare. Not only had the event been tedious and disjointed, he couldn't find the paperwork to remind himself of the key points and his memory was not providing any brilliant clues.

    You want your event to be memorable. You want it to flow effortlessly from beginning to end. You want every aspect of the event to be professional. This means you don't just want the event to be managed; you want it to be designed with a degree of panache and flair.

    Take some inspiration from the radio and television networks that make their living from presenting. Notice how they use words, music and images to identify a complete program; how programs are broken down into chunks and how one chunk is blended into the next using segues (pronounced segway).

    A simple segue does the following:

    * It acknowledges what has gone before

    * It connects that presentation to the overall theme of the event

    * It then connects both with the presentation to follow and in some cases introduces the speaker.

    For example

    "That was an opportunity for you to understand the theory of how our organization works with suppliers using the Provider Performance Feedback Process. Now it's time to hear a real-life example from one of our suppliers who has been trialing this process for 6 months. Jane Smith is the Sales Director of Jones Cooper Inc and she has been asked to give her unbiased opinion about working with the Provider Performance Feedback Process"


    No event is too small to have its own identity. Even a one hour seminar should have some sort of a personality to catch the imagination of the potential audience. An appropriate piece of graphics can be commissioned for a very reasonable fee and will tie in with the theme of the event. For example, Herbal Medicine would feature naturalistic plant imagery whereas Engineering might use cogs, electronic circuitry or industrial illustrations.

    This piece of graphic art which might also incorporate the name of the event will, ideally, be used on all printed matter, presentation material, signage and promotional items.

    You may have a talented amateur graphic artist in your company who can produce good work but be careful that their quality is appropriate and be honest with them if it does not meet the standard expected.

    Professional graphic artists use computer programs that link to the systems used by printers, so they can guarantee that the finished product will look like the samples they present to you.

    Branding, it seems, has deep psychological meaning. Apparently our brains deal with a brand image in a different way from most other information as it taps into our emotions. Emotional memory is more accessible; think about TV adverts. So, it makes sense to connect with your audience in as many ways as you can.

    If Jack had been looking for the big fluorescent green folder with the bright red tree printed on the spine and if the contents reminded him of a coherent, connected list of stimulating topics on the subject of 'Sustainability', he might not be dreading the team meeting quite as much.

    Friday, January 15, 2010

    Exactly What to Say When Asked, "How Much Do You Charge?"

    A client with a creative business called me one day and asked the following question. It's a question I get asked frequently, so rather than write an entire article, I decided just to tell you exactly what I told her.


    "I never know what to say when a potential customer calls and asks 'How much do you charge? What are your fees?'
    I don't want to shoot myself in the foot by quoting something too low, but also don't want the caller to hear a number that they think is too high and hang up.
    What do I say to them so I don't put them off, but also don't immediately take myself out of the running to get their business?"

    -Ann P., Philadelphia, PA


    Don't feel compelled to blurt out a number or hand over a price sheet. Calmly and confidently tell the prospect, "It depends." Follow up with, "Let me ask you a few questions...." Then proceed to ask the prospect questions that will help you learn about her needs, uncover her concerns, understand her methods of measuring success, and determine how to show the value of your services.

    Without knowing the basic information above, you are not in any position to be quoting prices and fees. Do yourself and your potential client a favor and don't rush into discussing pricing until you have all the facts, m'am.

    -Kirstin Carey

    Even Bill Gates Likes Free Software

    Linux can save your business money. Powerful Linux applications power servers, desktops and laptops across enterprises and small businesses each day. Here in our business, our websites are open source, our support module is Linux, the CRM application and the Accounting system we use to run our business is open source software. Best of all our Linux tools, operating systems and applications, are all freely distributed.

    Linux people are different. They search for power and function, but that is not all sought. Linux people believe that software should be freely distributed. The Linux community respects Microsoft; fantastic company whose apps like Office have improve millions of lives, really cool. But the dark secret in Linux circles paints Microsoft as a dinosaur, Linux people believe that expensive software with painful upgrade fees is headed for trouble.

    Bill Gates Sees a "Sea Change" in Application Software

    Microsoft sells operating systems and applications, and keeps on selling them. Backward compatibility with applications like Word can be hard and is this pain is by design. Microsoft wants to create pain and then fix, with upgrades. Microsoft wants upgrade dollars. This software model is starting to collect some rust. And the reason for this: free software is good. Free software is now available; free business applications to run your business, which are maintained, supported and best of all, are freely distributed. Bill Gates’s vision has focused on the on-line delivery model and even the free application delivery model.

    Linux Distributions are a Personal Choice

    Linux is built in distributions or releases, all slightly different. Ubuntu, a terrific linux distribution, is so good that it may be nudging Windows off desktops. Ubuntu is easy to deploy and easy to use plus it is loaded with applications for home users and business users. The Ubuntu desktop market share numbers are still viewed with a magnifying glass, but not too long ago, you needed a microscope. Ubuntu is easy to install and easy to use. Just get the software at the website and burn a CD. Ubuntu has just one CD or one ISO which loads in a snap. Red Hat, another distribution has 6 and takes much longer to complete. Ubuntu is lean because after the initial setup the user can craft his Ubuntu system just how he likes. The internet has Ubuntu distribution sites that power a tool called apt-get. All you do is apt-get install from a command line or user the Add Software GUI tools and you are getting the best linux apps right off the shelf and put right into your menu.

    Ubuntu Distribution

    The Ubuntu distribution has an Office suite with word processing, a spreadsheet, and presentation modules. All work can be saved in common formats like .doc or xls and are completely compatible with Microsoft products. The base Ubuntu application is loaded with graphics applications, CD, DVD burning and creation, multi-media including music and movie players, back-up apps, powerful anti-virus tools and networking applications that are best of breed. There is built in VOIP and message clients and many cool apps like Sticky Notes to make you more efficient.

    Free Business Linux Applications

    GNU Cash, free financial tracking, similar to Quicken. Cut an invoice, track bank accounts, run a budget and report your cash flow. Import your bank files and create buckets of spend for your financial analysis that will make an accountant jealous.

    PBX and Phone Systems

    Elastix will power up your phones. Did you know that most PBX commercial software is run using a freely distributed tool called Astericks. Elastix has re-packaged Astericks to ease the deployment and offers support. Expensive PBXs are not necessary. Linux has adapted other telephony tools like VOIP, predictive dialers, and call center solutions.

    Do you need a content management system? A website or an intranet for your company. Plone, Drupal, Joomla deliver big. The functionality in these freely distributed tools match the priciest CMS software. The tools are supported and you can even buy how to books at your local bookstore.

    Customer Relationship Management and CRM

    How about sales tools, CRM or order management, even inventory management software? Full power CRM or customer relationship management tools are available for free or for super low prices. DataForceCRM, based in Dallas, is deploying a sugarcrm linux derivative that has been enhanced and strengthened and customers are shaving 80% off typical user fees. DataForceCRM offers wikis, forums, full documentation and will make sure user adoption is high. The tool is super flexible, has Outlook integration, manages marketing, tracks sales, eyeballs inventory, push button order management, gives customers’s a support tool and is Freely distributed to companies with less than 10 users. If your business has over 10 users, prices are still a bargain.

    Companies pay high prices for customer support modules. OTRS, another open source backbone application in commercial applications, is there for the download and configuration. After set up your business will have a fully featured, professional trouble ticket tracker helping your clients get what they need.

    Virtualization is taking IT departments by storm. Virtualization turns your single computer, you need some memory, into many virtual machines. This streamlines hardware usage and turns hard ware utilization way up. State of the art Virtualization called Xen comes with many linux distributions. In Ubuntu do apt-get install vmware-server and a fine tool is on its way to your machine.

    The coolest thing about Linux is that in the 30 minutes I took to write this article, more applications were probably released., a depository for linux tools is one of the busiest sites on the internet and full of Linux value added applications. Just yesterday I needed to edit a PDF. I google up pdfnet and there I went, for free. Very cool, ERP, or enterprise resource planning is free too. Linux support was targeted for genius level IQs but not any longer.

    Companies realize good training and support drives value. Applications, even if free, are expensive if the learning curve is steep and if users are not guide. Smart open source companies are rolling out support modules to all service all learning types, wikis, live chat, forums, documentation and live phone contacts. Now with support in place, training available communities grow and grow. The applications I mentioned hit the tipping point where the user community is user support. Just this morning I was stumped with a virtual machine question. I googled the error code and added for Ubuntu. The page came up faster than I could call support, and the answer was clearly defined. Cool.

    New technology can be daunting to learn and use. The linux world knows this and just in the last few years, has put strong arms around user friendliness. Opensource software is easy to deploy, easy to use, powerful and supported. I just covered a tiny fraction of applications available today. Just for fun, visit the sites in this article. Check out the super cool applications and then put a number to your potential savings. You may become a Linux Geek.

    Thursday, January 14, 2010

    Evaluate Your Customer

    Evaluate Your Customer

    When a customer walks into your office, don’t sell them the first product that comes to mind. Sit them down and evaluate their needs, than sell them the products that meet their needs.

    I once worked with a guy in the banking industry, who was one of the best at explaining the benefits and features of our products, the only problem was, he was spending so much of his time explaining, but never selling anything.

    He never sold anything because he never took the time to get to know what his customer’s needs were, therefore he was attempting to sell them things that they didn’t really need.

    Nobody will buy things that they don’t need.

    This is why it is so very important to evaluate your customer.

    Start off by making your customer as comfortable as you possibly can, talk about non-business topics such as the weather, sports, or a current event.

    Once you and your customer have built a good enough report, start to ask some questions so that you may evaluate your customer’s needs.

    You can begin by finding out why your customer came into see you in the first place. Find out what products they already have. Find out if they already deal with one of your competitors. If so, find out all you can about the products and services they have with your competitor, so that you may compare products and fee’s. This is a perfect opportunity to let your customer know how much better your products and services are compared to your competitors.

    Find out what it is they need and can afford, than sell them the products you believe to be ideal for their needs.

    Once you have evaluated your customer, the chances of making a sale will be very good, because you will now be offering your customer something they need and can use, so they will most likely buy it.

    The last thing a customer wants to hear about, is a bunch of stuff they don’t need. They have a reason for coming into see you, so find out what that reason is and do all you can to satisfy their needs.

    Don’t waste your time trying to push off all of your products on them at once. This time can be better spent evaluating them.

    Get to know your customer, evaluate their needs, than meet their needs with the appropriate products.

    By evaluating your customer before you sell, you will find that the sales process will come much easier to you. Good luck.

    This article may be reproduced by anyone at any time, as long as the authors name and reference links are kept in tact and active.

    Don't Think Objections Are Necessarily Bad.

    Begin by examining the positive aspects of a prospect’s objections to see them as challenges. Any salesperson who wants a job without difficult questions should go to the stadium and sell hot dogs! The point is, without the challenges of selling, you would simply be an order-taker, and sales is certainly not that!

    In terms of personal satisfaction, the number of objections you meet on a daily basis in your particular marketplace tends to indicate the amount of money and prestige that is assigned to your particular position. In general, people are rewarded for the amount of difficulty that goes with what they do. Going back to the ball park example, common knowledge tells us that those who sell hot dogs at ballgames definitely do not generate as much income as those who encounter objections regularly in their sales positions. Where would you prefer to be on the financial ladder? Would you rather be on top, facing numerous objections throughout your sales day, or on the bottom, facing no objections or adversity but making no money?

    You should be optimistic when you are faced with an objection or tough question. You should see this objection as an indicator that you are moving in some sort of direction: either successfully completing the sale or failing to make the sale. In either case you know where you are and what you need to do in order to move ahead, take corrective action, or break off the relationship. When a prospect voices his or her concern over a certain aspect of your product or service, a chance has arisen for you to redirect your sales presentation. You now have the chance to move away from things that the prospect sees as undesirable in favor of moving towards those things that the prospect wants from you, your organization, or your product or service. Unless the prospect's objections completely blow away your product's benefits, you still have the opportunity to save the sale.

    Objections also give you the opportunity to hone your sales skills. The more objections that you face and successfully conquer, the better salesperson you become. As you start to notice patterns in the ways prospects present their objections as well as the consistent themes in these objections, you will be able to almost predict what kinds of objections your prospects will present. You’ll learn how to ask questions that help you flush them out or even eliminate them. Knowledge leads to improvement, so knowledge involving the ways you deal with prospects' objections can only lead to improvement in your sales record, and, in turn, improvement in your income.

    While objections obviously present salespeople with barriers to actually finalizing transactions, viewing these objections and tough questions in a positive light can only help you make more sales. Objections can be seen as challenging aspects of your sales job and mastering objections can lead to an improvement in your sales performance as well as your income. Objections may also be seen as a guide that points you in the right direction toward closing the sale. Finally, these questions and objections help the salesperson become skilled in dealing with objections. Remember, "Practice does make Perfect," and the case of conquering objections is no different.

    Wednesday, January 13, 2010

    5 Ways To Beef Up Sales...Immediately

    Last week, one of my clients—we'll call him Rick—had a demo scheduled with a prospect. The standard "show up and throw up" they typically did early in the sales cycle.

    Trying to shorten the sales cycle, I asked naively, "Why does the customer want to buy? What are they trying to accomplish?" Rick couldn't tell me. I asked if he thought the salespeople knew. He said no. I gave him an assignment: he had to find out "Why," "Why now," and "What's it worth." Otherwise no demo.

    In other words, no compelling reason to buy...No demo.

    So Rick took a risk, and is rapidly moving to a fully-paid trial implementation.

    Sure, long-term objectives and plans still matter, but I've been getting more and more inquiries focused on "what to do now." Entrepreneurs and executives alike are demanding help on how to improve revenues and profits right away.

    How do you make the quickest difference? Focus the bulk of your energy on revenue generation. In other words, sales! And don't do it the same old way either, because -- as you may have noticed -- it isn't working that well.

    Here are five ways for your sales force to bring in more business in short order. There are no magic bullets, but just last week I taught one of these techniques to a client (#2) and he used it to close a deal the following day! Use one or use them all. Each technique will have its own effect, and each will multiply the power of the others.

    1. Sell return on investment, and sell it to the CFO.

    Sales people are complaining that while the pipeline may be full, the deals are taking too long to close. Perhaps that's why the pipe is so full! What are the reasons for this? Companies have money, and in many cases they have needs. But many people are so scared THEIR customers aren't going to buy THEIR wares, they are loath to spend any money themselves. The result? They are only willing to spend money when they absolutely see near-term financial payback, and the CFO is killing many deals.

    The solution? Sell the return on investment. Sell the payback. And sell it to the CFO. Arm your salespeople with two things: A series of case studies that document the returns from using your product, and a well-defined ROI process worksheet. Work with the CFO to build the ROI case so that he or she owns it. This is the only way they come to believe it. Make it their idea and instead of killing your deal, they will help you close it.

    2. Forget USP. Determine your Usage Cases

    Instead of focusing on why your product is the latest and greatest, clarify the ways in which potential customers will use your product to solve specific problems and produce tangible results. Then, instead of touting the "benefits" of your product--which often fall on deaf ears, anyway--engage your prospects in conversations about what costly and quantifiable problems they now have, and how they might use your product or service to alleviate those.

    And, as sales guru Mike Bosworth says, don't tell them your offering IS the solution. You're a sales "guy" and they won't believe you. Instead, ask them if your possible solution might help them. If they believe it does, they have accepted your solution as truth. Then get them to tell you, in real dollar terms, what fixing that problem is worth.

    3. Increase Sales Training. Use the 10% solution.

    But don't expect any one salesperson--even your superstars--to be 100% at every part of your sales process. They almost never are. But there is a way you can raise the level of every person in your sales organization—immediately.

    Use this process adopted from W. Edwards Demming's principle of optimization. Break your sales process into as many discrete--but meaningful--steps as you can.. Cold calling. Letter writing. Setting appointments. Identifying pain. Writing proposals. Presenting. And so on. Find out who in your organization excels at each step, and have those reps explain their methods and mindset to the rest of your sales force. Do all the steps at once in a marathon session, or one step at a time. Either way, the results will be amazing.

    4. Use the 80/20 Rule. And get rid of the bottom 20.

    There's no room in today's world for mediocre producers. Hold each member of your team accountable for reaching two kinds of performance benchmarks: results measurements, which include not only revenue, but perhaps new accounts and repeat business, and action measurements, which might include prospecting calls, appointments, and new contacts.

    Not every sales person will be a superstar, but every one should pay their own way--and then some. Salespeople who aren't producing not only cost you money, they drag down the performance of your whole organization. You may not pay them very much, but why pay them anything? I suggest you do both yourself and them a favor, and let them go. Don't worry about having an empty desk: that warm chair was an expense your company doesn't need.

    If you feel it isn't fair to "dump" them, or if your sales cycle is too long to measure short-term revenue results, give the problem reps a 30-day plan to increase their level of activity in specific ways. That's long enough to see an improvement if there's going to be one.

    5. Track your results and work harder

    Most entrepreneurial sales organizations fail to analyze their efforts. They have no idea how much effort--or money--it takes to create a new customer. The only indication they have of whether salespeople are "doing enough" is based on the revenue numbers. The answer? Track both activity and results, and use the statistics your garner to quickly raise performance. Break your sales process into a series of meaningful steps, counting each time a rep completes one. Calculate averages and set a benchmark. And while you're at it, analyze the percentage of deals that close whenever you complete that step. That knowledge can dramatically improve your sales forecasts.

    Once you establish benchmarks--this one's a no-brainer--RAISE THE BAR. Yes, that's right, because the fact is, revenue isn't coming in fast enough. Do everything discussed above to improve your sales effectiveness--then do more of it. Just working smarter isn't going to cut it. You're going to have to work harder as well. And anyone who doesn't want to? See number 4 above.

    I've developed a unique Sales Audit Process based on the work of W. Edwards Demming. This program is guaranteed to produce an immediate 10-25% improvement in your company's sales, or more. If you'd like to find out more about how you can increase sales right away, call me at 858-951-3055, or visit and send an email with details about your company's sales situation.

    5 Keys to Building a Dynamic Self-Management Sales System

    1) Identify Your Essential Competencies and Performance Metrics

    If I asked you to list all the essential competencies that YOU are in control of - the ones that are absolutely critical for you to be successful in your sales position…could you do it?

    For example…

    Essential Competency or not?

    " Converting conversations to appointments? (yes it is)
    " What about filling out paperwork? No! (That's a related task)
    " What about closing ratio? (Sure it is.)
    " Degree of success in turning a first appointment into an opportunity? (absolutely)

    Get the picture?

    Now, if you truly want to adopt a self-management system that will work FOR you - not against you, you first have to "access" what is an essential competency and what's merely a related competency.

    To do this, sit down and list any sales metrics and performance numbers inter-related to your competency numbers and your desired revenue results. (Hint: "Sales Cycle" and "Average Revenue" per sale are two.)

    2) Diagnose Your Business on a Single Sheet of Paper

    If I ran into you on a train or in an elevator, would you be prepared to tell me what you do (and how it benefits me or those I know) - in under 1 minute…

    That's called your 30-second commercial. Most people don't have one, yet everybody needs one.

    One way to understand more of the obvious benefits your products and services bring to the table is to start to view and diagnose your business more scientifically. You will also see how the numbers work and which areas are most important to your short and long-term success.

    Ask yourself…What happens if your closing ratio reduces by 30% and your average revenue per sale increases by $2500? How does that affect your desired results?

    Write your competency measurements and sales metrics on a sheet of paper. Calculate ratios in line with competencies and average numbers in line with your sales metrics. Assign your revenue object or quota. Play with the numbers and ratios to see how they are inter-related and how they affect each other.

    3) Calculate your 'Magic Number'

    "Not setting enough new appointments on a routine basis" is like a malignant cancerous growth slowly eating away at the heart of most sales organizations - - Jeff Hardesty.

    The reason for this is because most of us do not identify how many new appointments are needed on a weekly basis based on individual competency numbers and performance metrics.

    That's like diagnosing with blindfolds on.

    Every one is different; we all have a 'Magic Number'. And it's personal to only you. If you routinely achieve it, you will routinely meet your desired results. Since it is a dynamic number that changes from week to week, it's important to understand how it is inter-related with other competency ratios, performance metrics and desired revenue results.

    It's important to include your 'Magic Number' in your self-management system.

    4) Train to the 'Napkin Rule'

    The 'Napkin Rule' simple means, putting aside all those sales automation systems for 30 days and keep track of your essential competency and performance metrics on a single napkin.

    Compute updates daily. Store the napkin in your pocket. When the napkin fills up, transfer it to a legal pad to show month to date. Have nothing else on the legal pad except your essential competency ratios and sales performance metrics. After 30 business days, transpose the legal pad metrics to your favorite computer software spreadsheet, and track it for 90 days.

    This simple but powerful "Napkin Rule" will help you become the CEO of your business.

    5) Run Your Numbers, Don't Run after Quota

    Concentrate on your numbers NOT your quota so you can diagnose performance trends before a revenue crisis. Then you have the power to institute strategies and tactics for immediate recovery.

    Here's why.

    Reaching and exceeding sales quotas consistently has very little to do with product, pricing and competition. But it has everything to do with 'Process'.

    Identify the core competencies that are necessary to be successful in your sales routine. Then train to Powerful Routines to increase your ratios of effectiveness. Document these meaningful business metrics and review them weekly. Build a simple but dynamic self-management system and outperform your peers and competition while assuring your revenue success.

    Monday, January 11, 2010

    Advertise the Smart Way

    If you have your own web site and want to get the word out on your products or services, there are a few things to do in order to advertise the smart way. No matter what size business or product that you are selling, you can draw lots of traffic to your site by advertising correctly.

    Many web developers throw money around without doing the proper research and analysis on who their customers really are. Before you throw money around make sure that you have put plenty of thought and analysis into which ways are the best way to advertise your product. Here are a few tips.

    Make sure you know who your customers are. A lot of web developers place their advertisements on the wrong types of web sites, which bring them little if any traffic. If you decide to use techniques such as email and popup advertisements, be forewarned that these types of advertising are considered nuisances to many customers. Many advertisers make the common mistake of advertising in one big shot instead of growing a market and following trends. So the next time you commit to an advertising campaign, make sure that you are advertising the smart way.

    Acquire New Business

    A major part of keeping profitable and growing your business is maintaining a focus on business development. Even when you've got the right mix of work, clients and employees you should be looking for new opportunities. You could establish a process to do this whilst ensuring your existing customers don't get neglected. The process helps you manage new business opportunities in a cost- and time-effective manner.

    Generate leads

    Identify the types of companies you want to work with and a realistic number of companies you want to target over a given period of time. For example: an accountant with experience in the marketing industry might decide to target five opportunities per month focussed on marketing consultancies.

    Finding potential clients and identifying new opportunities can be done through networking events, tenders listed in newspapers and industry magazines and headlines in newspapers about new projects and industry seminars. Keep an eye on your industry and stay aware of new developments.

    Track the companies you approach in a database ( you could use Microsoft Excel or Access). Tracking should cover the obvious things (company contact details etc) as well as details of what was discussed, potential works, actions and more.

    Qualify the leads

    Once you have a list of identified companies you must review to ensure they are realistic opportunities. Some areas to think about include:

    • Do you have the right contacts to get started?

    • Do you have the right services to offer them?

    • How can their website help you understand them better?

    • Do you have any conflicts of interest in pursuing this company?

    • Does this client have growth potential or would it be a quick job?

    • Who makes the decisions? How can you reach them?

    3. Raise your business profile

    By raising your company profile (no matter how small you are) you'll be able to generate new business with less effort. As a leader in the industry new business will come to you. There are many ways to raise your profile; you could try sponsoring events, adverts and gaining media coverage. The size, location and target market of your business this will dictate what medium to use and the areas to cover.

    4. Show them what you're made of

    Start to reach your qualified opportunities by showcasing your company's products. Send them a brochure or a copy of any newsletters you produce and invite them to join; show off examples of your work; highlight relevant media articles.

    Develop standard template letters in Word to send to potential clients to accompany your credentials/brochures. Ensure you link to your database (Excel, Access or Outlook) when merging the letters and envelopes to ensure you don't have to re-enter details.

    There is no specified time for this courting so be patient. It could be six months before anything comes to fruition.

    5. Set a meeting time

    So you're in the door. Now you need to sell yourself. Tailor the meeting to suit the way you operate as a business. It could be a formal PowerPoint presentation or a discussion over coffee. You may have no choice for the style of the meeting but make sure you are comfortable and well prepared. During the meeting be sure to demonstrate the knowledge you have developed in the previous stages.

    6. Follow up

    You've presented your capabilities and ideas. Don't stop there. Follow up is essential. This is a major part of the process and should be taken as seriously as the other steps. You'll probably be able to build on ideas from the meeting, or you might find an interesting/relevant article or statistics you could send to re-open discussion. Even if you don't have anything to send, thank them for the opportunity.

    Accounting and Accountancy

    Oftentimes when I meet someone for the second or third time, they say, “aren’t you in accounting?” While I am into accounting, which is the methodology and measuring aspect of my work, the profession as a whole is better labeled as ‘accountancy’.

    Accountancy is the profession and accounting it the methods by which accountants measure, track and report on financial information so that resource allocation decisions can be made by, well, whoever the decision makers are.

    For a small business owner’s personal finances, as an example, I may be measuring the finances of a few people (the family), and reporting the necessary information to the small business owner. In this situation, the decision maker is the small business owner and his decisions involve deciding how much money he has to put toward family necessities.

    Generally speaking, there are two main types of accounting. There is financial accounting and there is auditing. Financial accounting typically involves processing of financial information about a business operation where information is recorded, organized, summarized, interpreted and finally communicated.

    Auditing, on the other hand, is there process that an independent auditor examines accounting records and financial statements so that he or she can express a professional opinion about the financial records and answer questions about projections.

    At the heart of accountancy lies the need to take stock of the day to day state of various sales and expenses. In the modern world when many contracts are partially fulfilled at varying times, bookkeeping is the only way to know where you and your business stand in the greater scheme of things.

    If you operate your own small business, you may be able to do just fine with some accounting software. Take a look around for some flowchart templates. These can make monthly financial recording and reporting, dare I say it, fun. Simply enter in the various types of income and expenses, then each subsection updates the appropriate fields. Before you know it you’ve got proof that all bills have been allotted for and you’ve got your bottom line.

    If you find you can manage your business finances on your own, then, by all means, stick with the system that you know works for you. If, however, you start running into complications that make it hard for you to see where discrepancies are coming from, it may be time to enlist the services of a professional accountant.
    memory bus is also called an address bus or front side bus and both busses are high speed digital superhighways. Access methods and speed are two of the fundamental technical differences between memory and mass storage devices. All memory sizes and storage capacities will inevitably be exceeded with advances in technology over time.

    Cache memory is a special type of internal memory used by many central processing units to increase their performance or throughput. Some of the information in the main memory is duplicated in the cache memory, which is slightly slower but of much greater capacity than the processor registers, and faster but much smaller than main memory. Multi level cache memory is also commonly used. Primary cache is the smallest, fastest and closest to the processing device. Secondary cache is larger and slower, but still faster and much smaller than main memory.

    Semiconductor memory uses semiconductor based integrated circuits to store information. A semiconductor memory chip may contain millions of tiny transistors or capacitors. Both volatile and non volatile forms of semiconductor memory exist. In modern computers, primary storage almost exclusively consists of dynamic volatile semiconductor memory or dynamic random access memory. Since the turn of the century, a type of non volatile semiconductor memory known as flash memory has steadily gained share as offline storage for home computers. Non volatile semiconductor memory is also used for secondary storage in various advanced electronic devices and specialized computers.

    Accept Checks with Confidence with a Check Reader

    Even though a lot of people seem to be using credit cards exclusively for incidental purchases these days, the truth is checks are still a preferred method of payment for a lot of people.

    It doesn't make sense not to accept checks, since most people will expect to have that option, but there are certainly some things to worry about when you do accept checks. There's always the danger that someone has stolen the checks from their rightful owner or that they just don't have the money to pay for what they're writing the check for.

    There will always be some risk involved in accepting checks, but these days technology makes your life a little easier with an invention known as a check reader.

    A check reader is basically a scanner that the check is fed into. It reads the check and automatically debits the check writer's account at the time of purchase.

    The money is deposited into your account within 24 hours -- you don't even have to drive to the bank and physically deposit the check.

    Using a check reader means you'll know before the customer leaves the store if he or she has written a bad check. You'll also get your payment a lot more quickly than if you used the traditional method of accepting a check, depositing it into your account and waiting for it to clear.

    A check reader can take a lot of the guesswork out of accepting checks and will make you feel more secure when accepting checks for high-dollar items. Posting a sign that you have a check reader will make customers aware of the system and prevent people from writing bad checks in the first place.

    Check readers are commonly available from the same companies that provide payment processing for credit cards and merchant accounts. Some companies even provide this equipment for free to people who are interested in using it.

    You'll no longer have to limit yourself to only accepting checks from the local area in case you have to try to track someone down who wrote a hot check. The reader will do all the work for you and tell you in a matter of seconds if the payment has gone through, regardless of where the customer's bank is located.

    There's no reason not to get a check reader. You'll get paid faster and know immediately if someone is writing a bad check. At the end of the day, you'll know that the money you made today is going to be in you account tomorrow. What could be better?

    A Thriving Business - Heavy Transport

    Heavy transport refers to moving heavy material from place to another. Material movers are the people who perform such transportation. These heavy transport workers need special training if they are to work with chemicals, toxic material or specialized machinery. Physical training is required where extreme physical exertion is required. Heavy transport workers require a good sense of balance. They must possess the ability to read, understand and judge. Possessing basic arithmetic skills is also an integral part of this business. Many employers allow experienced workers to qualify as a trainee or a supervisor.

    Category of Heavy Transport Workers
    Workers in the heavy transport industry may be categorized into two groups: the laborers and the operators. The laborers work manually while the operators handle machinery and other equipments. These are the industrial truck and tractor operators, crane and tower operators; dredge operators, underground mining loading machine operators, pump operators and many others.

    According to their designation, these workers perform their duties. Like the truck, tank and ship loaders work for loading and unloading material at the dock. The shuttle car operators are responsible for the running of electric or diesel cars in the underground mines. Machine feeders are responsible for oiling and maintaining machinery. Wellhead pump operators take care of smooth flow of gas or oil from power pumps and auxiliary equipment. Similarly, all types of workers strive to do their particular assigned jobs. They are, thus known according to the work they perform.

    Heavy Transport: Nature of Work
    Heavy transport work is repetitive in nature. It may seem monotonous to workers. Therefore, shifting the duty time seems an appropriate option. Workers generally put in eight hours shifts and some times even longer. Many factories have round-the-clock shifts. Workers are hence required to do night shifts as well. The working conditions of heavy transport workers are at par with any other profession, when it comes to the hours put in.

    Heavy transport is a thriving business. It provides employment to large number of people. It is on this business that a large number of big enterprises and factories depend.

    A Simple Strategy to Increase Profits

    In today’s competitive business environment it is essential to find ways to reduce costs and increase revenues while keeping productivity and quality high. One of the best ways to achieve this is through hiring and retention of outstanding employees.

    Far too often hiring managers rush through the hiring process due to being reactive rather than proactive when filling positions. With some preplanning in the hiring process and implementation of sound strategies once people join your organization, you will lower the cost of doing business by considerable amounts.

    As you prepare to hire consider the following:

    • What type of person are you looking for?
    • What are the values that drive your company?
    • How difficult is the job you are filling?
    • Do you have anyone internally who can do the job?
    • How long will it take to find the right person for the position?
    • What are you willing to negotiate with the potential candidate?

    In looking for potential candidates you may want to try more than the traditional employee search. Tap into your network of professional connections. Some of your best candidates may be working for your competitors. Be careful about hiring someone just because they are a friend or family member. Not that friends and family members don’t make good employees - often they can be fantastic. And yet, if you are hiring them only because they are a friend or family member, you are setting yourself up for some big problems. With the wrong choice morale with other employees can go down. With the right choice it is just as likely to go up.

    Think through the compensation package. Are the wages fair for the job, industry and market? Make sure your benefit package is competitive for your industry. Find out what other companies are offering as far as compensation and consider matching or beating their offerings.

    There are occasions when someone may take a position without thinking through income, benefits or fit. Once they have gotten settled in and are feeling comfortable with the position and the company, they may realize the compensation and the job is not all it could be. That can cause some discontent on their part. To avoid this, do your homework.

    Another key to keeping good employees is to make sure they are treated with respect, dignity and appreciation. This may seem like common sense and yet, it often doesn’t happen. I consult with various types of organizations employee retention and how to gain more commitment from the staff. I often will meet individually, in private, with a cross section of the staff. I spend at least an hour with each employee in a confidential meeting to find out their view of the company. Inevitably, the areas that are most lacking for the employee to be fully satisfied are communication and appreciation.

    Once the area of discontent has been identified I design programs for the company in which to address the problems. What is amazing is the problem is often on the way to being solved by virtue of the fact the organization has brought me in. A common comment is, “Finally, someone is listening to me.”

    Often, a company’s problems can be lessened with some good coaching and training of management. It is amazing how many managers and supervisors were put into their position without any training in interpersonal skills, management and supervisory skills, and how to communicate effectively. Nine times out of ten the people who need the most training are the ones who think they need it the least. And, they are often the biggest obstacle to the success of a company.

    In order to stay competitive on all fronts you must keep your entire team on the leading edge. By doing so you will be in business for years to come with a happy, dedicated and productive team. And that will equal profits.

    Sunday, January 10, 2010

    A Podium is No Place for a Projector

    Remember the days when presentations before an audience consisted of boring lectures told from a podium while someone clicked slides or moved transparencies? The world has changed. Both in education and business, presentations are now more visual, more interesting, more dynamic.

    And the furniture industry has jumped on board. No longer do you need a second person to run that Power Point projector for you. No more turning around to make sure he/she switched the slides at the right time. You can do it all yourself with a projector cart—something no university lecture hall, conference center, or meeting room should be without.

    So what exactly is a projector cart? We found an excellently designed projector cart from Versa Tables, called the Projector Fusion Laptop Cart. Available in two colors and for under $300, the Projector Fusion Laptop Cart provides four distinct surfaces designed to help you keep your presentation organized. The first is an adjustable, pole-mounted laptop tray with a raised lip and locking mechanism to keep your laptop securely where it should be—at your fingertips! Adjust the laptop for your most comfortable standing or seated height and control the laptop yourself. In addition, the cart also offers three more adjustable platforms constructed from high-density wood; ideal for holding a projector, printed handouts, visual aids, and more. The frame is made of scratch-resistant steel and the entire cart is mounted on liquid-ease rolling casters. The casters also lock, keeping your cart in place even on uneven surfaces.

    Base storage trays and cable management units can be added for a nominal charge giving you even more storage space and easier cable organization. The carts fit easily into a closet or storage space when not in use. The platforms can be added or removed as needed and adjust independently, giving the user the option to customize according to the needs of his/her presentation. The platforms, as well as the laptop tray, also rotate around the core pole, so they're perfect for right-handers or left-handers.

    Show the speakers you invite to your venue that you care about their comfort by providing them with everything they need to give a successful presentation.
    Podiums are great for debates, but with today's business and education trends leaning toward the visual, a laptop fusion cart is perfect for any speaker. They're also ideal for trade shows, medical offices, and retail stores.
    Several manufacturers of computer furniture are now offering similar products, but Versa Tables' Projector Laptop Fusion Cart carries Versa's no-hassle, lifetime warranty, and ships for absolutely free to any customer in the contiguous United States. Versa also offers a quantity discount on this product—like all of their products—which is a great bonus for institutions like hotels, conference centers and universities which need to furnish multiple lecture halls or meeting rooms.
    Available in Warm Gray or Black River, the colors are pleasing to the eye. An additional pole-mounted monitor arm can be added for a fee, but the cart is truly functional without it.

    A Guide To Neon Signs

    If you are going to take a walk at night, notice the luminescent, glowing signs that are gracing the fa├žade of many buildings. These are called neon signs.

    The first neon sign appeared in France in 1910 at Grand Palais. The display caught people’s attention – in fact, the effect was so bright and catchy that other countries took notice. As a result, demands to create neon signs for commercial use have grown since the 50’s and are still very much in demand.

    Neon signs are created out of brightly colored gas discharge lamps filled with a certain gas. These are actually glass tubes bent and twisted to form different designs and letters. The light uses a high voltage but very low volume of amperage. To make the gas inside the tube glow with light, you will need to increase the electrical pressure from your wall outlet so that enough supply of current is transported.

    One known advantage of neon signs is that electrical cost is relatively low. The typical lifespan of neon signs range from 7 to 10 years but there are some that have been known to last 20 years.

    If you are wondering why those neon signs vary in colors, it is because these signs are created in three different ways using three different gases. Some use inert gas, for example. This is the combination of neon and argon/mercury gases. While neon gas glows in reddish-orange color, argon and mercury lights give off a light blue color. Some neon light also use fluorescent powders. Such lights use combinations of different gases to filter out different colors from the light spectrum. Some neon lights, on the other hand, use colored glass. This is the oldest method and the most expensive among the three. They provide the most vivid colors, but they are not as bright as other neon lights.

    7 Benefits Of Mobile Document Shredding Services

    Mobile document shredding service companies come to the physical location of your business and take care document disposal for you. These services typically use a medium size truck with the shedding device built into the back of the vehicle. This is so the shredder can go to the company location and shred all the documents on site before taking the particles to the dumping area for final disposal.

    What are the benefits of mobile shredding service?

    * Containers: Many shredding companies furnish nice looking steel locking containers for use in your office. These containers can be emptied on schedule, or whenever they get full. Many mobile shredding companies offer flexible scheduling.

    * Certification: You may get a “Certificate of Destruction”. While this certificate doesn’t totally absolve the business of responsibility for the document security, it does help.

    * Ease Of Use: Why risk transporting tons of documents off-site when you can witness the document destruction in the back of the truck right outside your office!

    * Unrecoverable: The professional process used by mobile shredding companies makes it impossible to reconstruct documents.

    * Affordable: It can cost only pennies per pound to shred business documents.

    * Verified Firsthand: Company personnel can witness the shredding is done on-site. You don’t have to entrust the drivers and a chain of people to destroy your documents…you can witness it firsthand without leaving your office parking lot!

    * Less time consuming: Shredding these documents by hand would waste valuable employee-hours. With a mobile shredding service, huge piles of documents can be shredded in a fraction of the time.

    Mobile shredding is probably the easiest, most secure, and most rest freeway of disposing of documents.

    Some of the service options frequently offered by mobile document shredding companies:

    Ongoing scheduled service
    One time bulk shredding.
    Onsite shredding
    Offsite plant based shredding
    One time purges
    Electronic destruction / Recycling
    Daily, weekly, monthly, and semimonthly (or, biweekly) schedule

    For a company, it can be a good investment to hire a mobile shredder to come to the site regularly and dispose of sensitive documents. After all it can cost a lot of money to warehouse this type of data. Instead of documents sitting around collecting dust, a mobile shredder can make mincemeat of them with minimum hassle and clear the clutter.

    You can find more information about certified mobile document shredding and paper shredding in general at our website.

    5 Key Elements of a Successful Home Based Business

    Who wouldn't want to work from home? You can make your own hours, forget ever having to commute, and never have to answer to a boss. Plus, as a home based business owner, you have the potential to earn exponentially more than you ever will by punching a time clock.

    Yet, there are so many home based business opportunities available that it's often difficult to choose the one that is a good fit for you and that has the income potential that you need. To help you make your choice, here are five key elements to look for in a home based business.

    1. Go with Network Marketing

    While it's true that not everyone succeeds at network marketing, the principles behind it are sound. After all, network marketing is essentially using and selling products through word of mouth. This approach allows you to reach out to an ever-growing number of people and reap the financial rewards of building your own downline. Because network marketing cuts out the middleman, your earning potential increases. In the process, you create the potential for residual income while enjoying low overhead and the opportunity to work when and where you want. Furthermore, when you take advantage of Internet-based network marketing, you are not bound by geographic boundaries; your customers and downline can reach global proportions.

    2. Choose a Company that Offers Multiple Products

    Every day, you use dozens of products. Some home based business opportunities focus on one product, while others focus on many. When you do the math, it's easy to see why it's preferable to choose a company that allows you to become a member and have access to a wide variety of products, as well as to sell those products.

    3. Find Cutting Edge Products to Use and Sell

    Few people need more candles, kitchenware, or knick-knacks. What they really need and want are information and mobile technology products, such as DSL, VOIP, and broadband. Baby boomers in particular are looking for values in discount shopping, travel, and professional services such as legal services and health services. Companies and entrepreneurs are always on the lookout for cutting edge business software, conference calling, SEO services, marketing products, and video production services.

    4. Look for a Solid Compensation Plan

    Compensation plans vary from company to company, so be sure to find one that gives you the greatest earning potential. A single paid matrix is an excellent approach, as is a 3 x 9 monthly matrix commission.

    5. Gain Access to Business Building Tools

    One of the premises of network marketing is that you don't need to reinvent the wheel; the infrastructure for a successful business model already exists. When reviewing home based business opportunities, especially those that are Internet based, find one that allows you to grow your business through duplication, so that you can immediately get up and running. The company you work with should also have a support system that includes mechanisms to capture leads, create ads, and develop solid marketing strategies. Moreover, there should be a sense of community, camaraderie, and mutual support.

    Launching your own home based business can not only lead you to a debt free life, but can also enable you to travel the path of true financial freedom.

    Friday, January 8, 2010

    Using SWOT Analysis To Improve Your Business

    Analyzing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) of a business is a well-established tool that is widely used by academics, consultants, and advisors. Although it is a simple concept, business owners often struggle when trying to use it because it is so broad. It is difficult to determine where to start, what questions to ask, and where to focus. The obvious problems get attention while many other important issues get overlooked. SWOT analysis is a great tool, but its effective use requires additional structure.

    Strengths and weaknesses relate to internal factors, while opportunities and threats cover external ones. The internal factors can be divided into five categories: management, workforce, sales and marketing, operations, and financial. The external factors are also divided into five categories: threat of new entrants, bargaining power of suppliers, bargaining power of customers, threat of rivalry from competitors, and threat of substitution.

    To approach the analysis in a structured way, prepare a checklist using the categories mentioned above. Identify factors within each category that are important to your business. Under management for example, a major weakness for virtually every small business is relying too heavily on the owner. What would happen to the business if something happened to the owner? In the workforce category a factor could be employee turnover and the availability of new hires. The threat of new entrants might include the possibility of a big box retailer opening near your business. The bargaining power of suppliers and customers categories should consider the possibility of losing a major supplier or customer. Come up with several factors for each category to complete the checklist. It is important that you do not try to rate or solve each issue as you identify them. If you do, you will get bogged down on each factor and never complete the analysis.

    Once the checklist is complete, you should rate each factor based on its importance to your business. Use an alphabetical scale from A to E, where A = very important, B = important, C = some importance, D = little importance, and E = not important. Next rate each factor based on proficiency (internal) or vulnerability (external). Use a numerical scale from 1 to 5, where 1 = very proficient or not vulnerable, 2 = proficient or little vulnerability, 3 = average proficiency or some vulnerability, 4 = poor proficiency or vulnerable, and 5 = deficient or very vulnerable.

    The factors with the lowest letter and highest number (A5) are the biggest weaknesses or threats. The ones with the lowest letter and lowest number (A1) are the biggest strengths or opportunities.

    Using this structured approach makes a SWOT analysis possible and practical for any small business. To make this process worthwhile you must use this information to take action. Work to fix the worst problems first, prepare for the biggest risks, take advantage of the best opportunities, and build your secondary strengths.

    Tips to Improve Customer Loyalty

    Statistics show that, on average, U.S. companies lose half of their customers every five years.

    It's true that acquiring new customers will help your business grow. However, your current customers are the lifeblood of your business and keeping them happy should be your highest priority. Here are a few ways to make sure your customers keep coming back.

    * Understand lost customers. Many business owners mistakenly believe that customers choose to patronize other companies solely because of better prices. While pricing can be a concern, customers often head to the competition when they don't feel valued.

    A change of lifestyle may have also created a situation where customers no longer need your product. By staying in touch with their needs, you might be able to adjust your offering to continue servicing them.

    * Know your customer's top priority. Maybe it's reliability or speed or cost. Your company should know your clientele's No. 1 priority and consistently deliver it. Remember, customers' desires change frequently, so ask yourself this question every six months.

    * Acknowledge the lifetime value of customers. The lifetime value of your customers is the income you would gain if a customer stayed with you as long as they could possibly buy your product or service.

    For example, the lifetime value of a customer employing a financial adviser could be several decades and could span several generations. Treat the parents well and you could win the children's business.

    * Create a positive first impression. Good first impressions tend to generate loyal customers, and you get only one chance to make a positive first impression. Appearance is important. The exterior and interior of your business should be neat and clean.

    * Listen to the customer. Employees should listen actively to customers. Reassure your customers that you genuinely want to help them. Customers will judge your business based on the politeness, empathy, effort and honesty of your staff.

    * Address and resolve complaints quickly and effectively. Inevitably, your employees will encounter unsatisfied customers. Whether they're returning an item or changing a service, customers expect a fair policy. If you cannot offer a resolution immediately, let the customer know when he or she can expect an answer.

    True Information Management: Far More Than Technical Automation Support

    Across the Regular army, the term Selective information Management connotes different substance. In a garrison environment, a unit or section selective information direction military officer is typically that computer smart individual responsible for keeping their respective automation assets properly configured and Entropy Assurance Vulnerability Alert compliant in accordance with Directorate of Info Management policy. In a tactical setting, specifically at division and higher echelons wherever command and control and C2 entropy systems are the centerpiece of trading operations, the IM mission takes on a much More encompassing and critical function.

    A office that has the INTERNATIONAL MARITIME ORGANIZATION often focused solely on technical foul control and configuration of C2 systems and systems data moving across networks and throughout tactical operation centers.

    Effective and true up IM, however, focuses Thomas More on tailoring, filtering and fusing C2 data for relevancy and significance to ultimately drive the commander's decision cycle. Breaking out of the technological automator mold to info analyst to achieve dead on target IM is an inherent dilemma facing many IMOs nowadays.

    As the Signaling Corps postures itself towards the Future Force and Joint Operations, off-the-shelf technology is increasingly user-owned and operated and providing vast amounts of data, taking possession of, and focusing on the straight IM mission volition prove vital to keeping the Sign Regiment relevant. Continued from page 1. On larger scale the I Corps staff is acting as a JFLCC or CTF, the is caught up playing the conventional albeit misguided part of ' automator', particularly in getting center systems set-up and configured. This purpose is often extended throughout the initial phase of an operation until C2 systems and procedures are synchronized.

    The IM plan and established procedures dictate flow during this early stage. Once a routine struggle rhythm is in place, the is usually afforded time to focus on real IM and deliberate tailoring of for and signification. At this point, IM is done in a deliberate, proactive manner versus a reactionary mode during initial setup at the conflict major or chief's request. During his tenure as Chief of Bespeak, MG(R) Pat Cavanaugh accurately captured the take exception still facing Data Managers and the Betoken Regiment now: "The manager testament be faced with the daily dispute of determining just how his organization receives, manages, processes, protects and disseminates.

    The manager, then, wish need to be well-versed in operating and employing systems and communications networks, and equally literate in the art and science of maneuver warfare." If you canvass possible candidates for this position, it's quite clear the Indicate Regiment is best positioned to take on the - use. Our skills, training and experience cause us to cross all lines of handling: from the backbone infrastructure itself, to the local area networks in TOCs, to the systems and databases that power our Ground forces fight-command systems.

    We need step up to the plate and take responsibility for IM. As the moves from division and corps formations toward the Future Force of UEx/ UEy design, technology bequeath continually enable faster and Sir Thomas More voluminous TOC flow to commanders.

    Tailoring this for and understanding to achieve on-key IM is an , training and staffing gainsay for the Point Corps, and a focal for managers of and tomorrow. far to a greater extent than automation support.

    MAJ Norris is currently assigned as the I Corps G3 officeholder. His recent assignments include signal ship's officer in the Stryker Brigade Coordination Cell at Fort Lewis, Wash. and 8th G6 plans policeman at Yongsan, Korea. Norris is a 1990 graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in journalism and 1997 graduate of Old Dominion University with a master's degree in applied linguistics.

    Steps To Take To Accommodate The Employee With Cumulative Trauma Disorders

    The United States Department of Labor has developed a set of guidelines that can assist the owner, operator or manager of a business in accommodating in the workplace an employee that suffers from cumulative trauma disorders of CTDs. More information on these guidelines can be found through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) which is an agency of the U.S. Department of Labor. OSHA maintains an Internet website at

    When it comes to workplace accommodation, there are different types of problems associated with CTDs. For example, one of the areas that people with CTDs suffer involves fatigue and weakness. Accommodations for this type of condition, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, include:

    -Reduce or eliminate physical exertion and workplace stress

    -Schedule periodic rest breaks away from the assigned workstation

    -Provide for the employee a more flexible work schedule and a more flexible use of leave time

    -Allow or permit the employee to work from home

    Some employees have found that they are suffering from fine motor impairment as the result of CTDs. The U.S. Department of Labor through OSHA has suggested accommodations for this type of impairment, including:

    -Implement ergonomic workplace and workstation design

    -Provide alternative telephone and computer access for the employee

    -Provide arm supports

    -Provide grip and writing aids

    -Provide a book holder and a page turner

    -Provide the employee with a note taker

    -Provide ergonomic workplace tools and other ergonomic adaptations

    Finally, there are people afflicted with CTDs that suffer from gross motor impairment. Once again, the U.S. Department of Labor through OSHA has recommendations for accommodating people in the workplace that suffer from CTDS. These accommodations include:

    -Modify the workplace to make it more readily accessible to the employee

    -Provide more accessible parking for the employee

    -Provide a more accessible entrance to the workplace for the employee

    -Install automatic door openers for use by the employee

    -Modify the workstation to make to more ergonomic and accessible for the employee

    -Make sure that equipment and materials used by the employee are accessible readily

    -Move the employees workstation closer to other areas which the employee accesses regularly

    -Provide the afflicted employee with carts and related lifting and moving devices

    Again, this information can be accessed in greater detail through the U.S. Department of Labor and OSHA at

    Successful Organizational Leadership: Effective Execution through Strategic Alignment

    It is an all-too-familiar scenario. Corporation X misses badly on its commitments several quarters in a row and the stock plummets. As a result, the Board loses confidence, the CEO “resigns,” and a new CEO is appointed who immediately announces a sweeping restructure of the corporation.

    In the past few years, papers have been inundated with such reports. Even at corporations where top-level executives show signs of “vision” and have articulated what seems to be a sound business strategy on paper, results fall short of expectations.

    We have all been there at one point or another in our careers. The leadership team spends long hours agreeing on a 3- or 5-year strategy to improve the performance of the business. Management teams work equally hard to come up with supportive annual budgets. Both teams populate long PowerPoint presentations and well-built, exhaustive spreadsheet files. Yet not much happens in terms of actual deliverables! Ambitious year-end targets are missed. Improvement curves keep being shifted to the right, until the scenario at the beginning of this article is realized. Now the process for restructure of the corporation begins.

    Questions immediately arise as to why these events occur so often and include:
    • What has gone wrong and why?
    • Are the goals too aggressive?
    • Are the visions and/or strategies inadequate?
    • Are middle managers unable to execute?
    • If the answer is yes to all these questions, then why is it so?

    All are good questions, and many have been extensively addressed with proposals on how to find corresponding solutions. Based on my experience, however, a key element that needs to be addressed is the importance of strategic alignment.

    What is strategic alignment?

    Strategic alignment can be described as the linkage between the goals of the business, which quantify the progress of the implementation of the strategy towards the vision, and the goals of each of the key contributors. Key contributors include groups, divisions, business units, departments, or individual employees who have an interest in the continuation of a successful corporation.

    Strategic alignment, put simply, is “everyone rowing in the same direction.” The tighter the linkage and the better the alignment, the likelihood of flawless corporate execution becomes stronger.

    Strategic alignment has several advantages once implemented properly and practiced. Benefits include:
    1. Allowing an efficient use of usually scarce resources,
    2. Resulting in increased speed of execution, as a corollary,
    3. Promoting team efforts towards common goals, and
    4. Escalating employees’ motivation, giving them a keener sense of contribution to the results of their individual groups and of the corporation as a whole.

    These are good results that many corporations would benefit from, but very few corporations are able to realize them. Since many corporations and their leadership teams attempt to gain strategic alignment, the question becomes what barriers must be overcome.

    How can strategic alignment be implemented effectively and what are the key success factors?

    The first component of a successful strategic alignment is the extensive communication necessary within the organization to understand the elements of the vision and of the key strategic directions needed. Relentless repetition by the leadership and management teams at every opportunity, including sales meetings, company meetings, and operational business reviews allow each employee to understand vividly how he/she can contribute to the overall progress. More often than not, however, these vital communication opportunities are restricted to boring presentations of high-level tables filled with data that are difficult for employees to associate with their day-to-day jobs.

    The second component of a successful strategic alignment is absolutely essential to link the results of each employee’s job to the progress of the entire corporation strategy and to do it clearly and simply. This is best accomplished by using simple measures of key performances (KBMs= key business metrics, or KPMs= key performance metrics), which can be connected to the employee’s annual performance review.

    One excellent example of effective strategic alignment is practiced at Thermo Electron Corporation, a leader in the field of analytical instrumentation, headquartered in Waltham, MA. Thermo Electron uses a cascading set of goals that quantitatively measure the progress of the strategic implementation. This “waterfall effect” or “goal tree” starts at the very top of the corporation and cascades down to all levels of the organization – from Corporation to Divisions; from Divisions to Business Units; from Business Units to Departments, and from Departments to Employees.

    When it reaches the employee, the objectives are incorporated into her/his annual performance targets and these objectives directly support the key goals from the highest levels of the organization. This ensures both focus and alignment as the employee daily delivers on their objectives. Objectives are rolled back up the “waterfall” or “goal tree” in periodic reviews of goals at all levels in the organization.

    Implementing strategic alignment is not rocket science. It requires, however, strong commitment from the top leadership and focus on relentless communication at every opportunity using simple management principles of focus, clarity and reinforcement.

    In the end, effective execution of strategic alignment is a leader’s top priority and ensures that goals are met and success achieved.

    Office Plants For A Healthy & Happy Workplace

    It is difficult to completely control the indoor climate in an office. It can easily become too hot, too cold, too dry or too damp. Furthermore, it can never be perfect for everyone: what one person finds too hot is too cold for someone else.

    In addition printers, copiers, computer monitors, floor coverings, paint and wallpaper release substances into the air which affects the quality of the indoor climate.

    The potential consequences of poor air quality are well known: irritated eyes, headache, skin complaints and dry membranes in the nose and mouth. This is not only unpleasant, it is also unhealthy.

    Dry throat? Burning eyes? Recurrent headaches? Plants improve your working environment all year round

    In winter, when the heating is running at maximum, it is the lack of moisture in the air which causes problems. Most people find a relative humidity of between 30% and 60% pleasant. But many offices do not even achieve the lower level of 30% in winter months. It is no fun indoors in the summer either. Sealed climate control systems with non-opening windows means that you cannot control the environment yourself. Even in offices with the latest climate control systems, more than a quarter of the staff are dissatisfied with the temperature or the humidity.

    Yet you can easily improve the indoor climate buy using plants! Plants help create a healthy indoor climate and a happier workplace. Not only do they put water vapour back into the air, they also absorb heat and filter dust and harmful substances out of the air. Some indoor palms give off a lot of water, and sword ferns and gerberas cleanse the air of the formaldehyde released by building materials, paper and furniture. Other good air-purifying plants are the rubber plant, English ivy and date palm.

    Which plants?

    Different plants have different effects - some purify and some humidify the air. Plants with a high level of water consumption can increase humidity by to 15%. Recommended plant types to purify the air are: Parlour Palm, Kentia Palm, Ficus, Ivy, Boston fern, Philodendron, Spathiphyllum and Mother-in-law's Tongue. Recommended plant types to humidify the air are: Ferns like Boston fern, African Hemp, Cyperus and other grasses, Spider plant, Bamboo and Spathiphyllim

    Fewer complaints & less illness

    The effect of plants in the workplace has been the subject of repeated scientific investigation. Time after time the conclusion is the same: plants work! One study looked at the effect of plants on the health of staff in the radiology department of a Norwegian hospital. Once plants were placed in the department and artificial daylight was introduced, the level of health complaints amongst those studied fell noticeably. This resulted in a permanent reduction in absence due to illness from 15% to 5% within 6 months. The instances of the following complains fell by a significant percentage:

    Symptom Reduction in complaints (%)
    Eye irritations - 15%
    Dry throat - 31%
    Fatigue - 32%
    Cough - 38%
    Headache - 45%

    More plants - less stress

    The presence of plants does not just affect the indoor climate. Researchers have discovered that a view of greenery can result in a demonstrable reduction in stress within five minutes. Research in the Netherlands has shown that people who spend more than four hours a day working at a computer monitor feel better and are more productive with plants in the workplace!

    The green view

    A green indoor environment
    Companies are increasingly willing to accept that they have a key role to play in protecting the environment and the welfare of their employees, and therefore often strive for a 'green' image. Presenting such an image starts with a healthy indoor environment. Plants at work fit perfectly within the area of company policy which nowadays is labelled ‘health management’. As an employee, you can hold your employer to account on this.

    Improve your workplace

    Anyone wishing to do themselves, their colleagues and their business a healthy favour will ensure that there are plants in the workplace. This guarantees a better working atmosphere, but above all a healthier climate in which to work. The benefits for employers are also substantial: less absence due to illness and better performance.