Tell a Story to Close More New Business

HDM Admin - Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Have you ever wondered why your current sales presentation or pitch doesn’t work? Is it possible it’s failing because you are leading with facts? The truth is that facts rarely sell a prospect in today’s society. That doesn’t mean facts aren’t important.  It just means they have their proper time and place. 

So for your next presentation don’t rely on facts and statistics alone. Instead, try persuading your prospects by telling a story. Of course, you still need to explain features and benefits, but only to give support to your story.

Storytelling is truly the essence of the “soft sell” method of salesmanship. This is where you use subtle persuasion in a non-aggressive nature. This doesn’t mean you are passive; rather, this technique is designed to push a product or service without coming off as pushy. I laugh every time I see the 1992 classic movie Glengarry Glen Ross. Alec Baldwin arrives on a stormy night at an office full of NYC real estate salesmen, mainly played by Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, and Ed Harris.  He proceeds to inform them that at the end of the week all but the top two will be fired. He then tries to motivate them, negatively I might add, by delivering a speech on how to close more deals.  The crux of his tirade is the theme “ABC”, which stands for “Always Be Closing.” He wants them to push the customer harder, insisting this “hard sell” method is the only way to succeed.

Now, that may have worked in 1992, but it certainly doesn’t work today. When a salesperson begins a presentation with a list of bullet points on how great their offering is it only frustrates the audience, gives them no urgency to get involved, and pushes the salesperson into a lower status. That’s because the consumer immediately feels the salesperson’s neediness, and neediness kills deals.  

There is actually a scientific reason for this, and it has to do with neuroscience of the brain, in particular how the brain stem (your croc brain) processes information. When we are first approached by another our brain evokes fear. That’s right, our fight or flight response is triggered. So if you want your information to get past that first response and to the part of the brain (the neo cortex) that tells us everything is ok, you need to start with a narrative.

Smart companies and sales reps know that a good story captivates and disarms an audience. It makes them think, it also makes them feel emotion, and that’s what inspires and motivates them. Storytelling in business helps create a more trusting and productive relationship with any prospective audience.

This is important to remember, because stories get your prospects’ attention, makes you stand out, and spreads your message.  Just make your message fast, novel, visual, and have a narrative that unfolds without the audience guessing the end.

Stories have been a primary driver of change throughout the history of man, so make your next presentation a story, and increase your chances of closing that sale.  

Operational Efficiency

HDM Admin - Monday, August 15, 2016

Efficiency is the Key to Maximizing Profits

Is there a difference between an effective business operation and one that is efficient?  The words Effective and Efficient sound similar, and they are often used interchangeably, yet there is a difference between the two terms.  In business operations, the word effective is used to describe a process that is adequate to accomplish the intended purpose or goal.  In other words, the process produces the expected result or output.  Being efficient in business operations, on the other hand, is performing the same or similar task in the best possible manner, keeping wasted time and effort to a minimum, which equals more profit for a business.  Efficiency concentrates on how much effort it takes to produce a desired result, and does not concentrate on results alone.  

A business can have effective operations without being efficient, but being highly efficient leads to higher profit margins.

Improving your everyday systems and processes can have a transformational effect on your business.  Working to continuously improve your systems and processes can also create unexpected opportunities, and in the end will improve productivity, profitability, and enhance customer satisfaction. 

Systems and process improvements begin with the following simple steps:
  1. Analyze current and historical operating results.  In particular, look at frequency of errors, capacity levels, usage of resources, and any productivity bottlenecks.  If you discover an area of your business that is under performing, then an opportunity may exist to improve that component, resulting in increased productivity.  Once you’ve identified the deficiency it will be easier to understand its root cause, and then actually solve it.
  2. Prioritize the findings of your analysis.  The most eminent and potentially damaging finding should be your starting point.  Next, prioritize the discoveries deemed to have a negative effect on your business, that way you can decide what needs to change.  
  3. Design a plan and implement the process changes.  As a business owner you don’t have to do it all.  Brainstorming with key employees and stakeholders can be very beneficial.  Zero in on the areas that consistently have poor results or high frequency of errors.  Remember, and remind others, that changes are being made to solve a problem.
  4. Document and track the progress of your changes.  Make sure all employees understand what is at stake, and clearly communicate the benefits the changes will have on them.  If your implemented changes are complex, then additional training may be needed.  But make sure everyone knows their role and buys into the solution.  Continue monitoring the changes until the desired results are produced.

Achieving operational efficiency is usually pursued for a number of reasons, however the goal is always to improve profitability and productivity, and enhance the customer experience.   

Become a Savvy Business Owner

HDM Admin - Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Savvy business owners have come to recognize and value the benefits to be gained by being able to interpret financial data and use it to run their businesses more effectively. I’m not talking about the typical examination of your balance sheet and income statement. The type of financial analysis I’m talking about is more sophisticated and involves performance ratios and industry benchmarking.

Ratio analysis is a valuable management tool that evaluates the financial performance of your business. Ratio analysis provides a clear understanding about the profitability, solvency, and efficiency of your business, and highlights financial trends. This type of in-depth financial analysis can identify a potential problem before it actually becomes a problem, giving you a chance to begin improvement in those areas right away.

Here are a few of the basic ratios you can look at;

  1. Current Ratio = Current Assets divided by Current Liabilities. This ratio is a measure of a company’s ability to pay its current obligations.
  2. Working Capital = Current Assets minus Current Liabilities. This is an indicator of a company’s ability to grow.
  3. Debt to Equity = Total Liabilities divided by Total Equity. This ratio shows the amount of protection owners are providing to creditors.  
Of course there are many other ratios that can be analyzed, including operating and financing ratios. Analyzing financial ratios will allow a company to track improvements over time by comparing its current performance with prior years’ performance, and is internal in nature. What’s important to remember is that this is exactly the kind of financial data many banks and bonding companies utilize when weighing the risk of granting credit to a business.

Benchmarking is external in nature, and provides an elevated view of your business. Look at it this way;

Imagine playing a competitive game and only knowing your own score. What would your strategy to win be? Would it make a difference in planning your strategy if you knew the whole score?

Just like a game, your business is in a competitive situation, and Benchmarking gives you the whole score.

Benchmarking is the process of comparing a defined set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) within your business to the top performing competitors in your industry. It provides external industry data that gives your key performance indicators context and meaning. Simply put, Benchmarking is a way of measuring whether or not your company is performing as efficiently as its peers.

The first step is to determine what KPIs will be used to compare your performance against. Start with your industry or trade association, as most provide benchmarking standards for their members.  Another good source of benchmarking data may be found at the Risk Management Association (RMA). They organize businesses by their industry NAICS code and publish benchmarking data in their Annual Statement Studies. The RMA’s Annual Statement Studies may be found at local libraries, Chambers of Commerce, or Small Business Development Centers, so check there before purchasing a copy.

Armed with more valuable financial information, you can set out to make strategic moves that can give your business a sustainable competitive edge, ensuring its success.  

5 Money Saving Tools for Small Businesses by Jessica Kane

HDM Admin - Monday, June 06, 2016
With technology constantly evolving, it's understandable that many companies would instead try and stick to what they're already comfortable with. Of course, technology has now reached a point where new applications are now making previously important parts of businesses obsolete. With that in mind, this guide has been designed to specifically help usher companies into the digital age. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it does touch on a number of applications and technological innovations that are incredibly valuable to any business on a tight budget that is looking for ways to save money.

1. Internet Fax Services

Internet fax services are the online alternative to a traditional fax machine. In addition to saving valuable space in an office, internet fax services also cuts down on other costs associated with storing and maintaining a physical fax machine. Perhaps most importantly, internet fax services are able to send and receive texts from virtually anywhere in the world, ensuring that your always available to do business when you need it most. Since faxes are automatically stored as scanned documents online in email folders, internet fax services cuts down on paper and ink waste. Ink and paper may seem cheap, but their costs add up over time, so any app that can save ink and paper will also save an absurd amount of money in the long run.

2. QuickBooks GoPayment

Switching gears slightly, QuickBooks GoPayment is particularly useful to companies that want a cheap alternative to card readers. By simply downloading the app, any mobile phone can quickly become a card reader and be ready for business. No one wants to turn away a potential client due to incompatibility with their payment method. It's for this reason that QuickBooks GoPayment is heavily recommended for any client facing business that works daily with individuals, particularly for small retail stores.

3. Zoho

Zoho is an online group collaboration system that brings together people from various departments and integrates all forms of communication into easily understood systems. Businesses that have employees working from home or across large distances will definitely need some form of groupware, but smaller businesses might too as they begin to expand more rapidly. In fact, Zoho's organizational utility makes it useful for businesses that aren't even necessarily interested in expanding. The less time that is wasted on inefficient communication channels means a greater opportunity to instead make money.

4. Shake for iOS and Android

Legal fees can be a very costly recurring business expense. Many types of businesses find that they require several types of contracts, regularly requiring modifications, revisions and renewals to support customized business terms on a per client basis. 

Shake for Mobile is a software tool that supports and manages agreements, electronically -- from your mobile device. With the free basic user license, you can create agreements from Shake's templates for common business purposes such as:

  • Non-Disclosure Agreements
  • Freelance, Contractor and Employment Agreements
  • Purchase and Sales Contracts
  • Rental Contracts
  • Loan Contracts

All versions of the application support in person signing and legally binding e-signatures.

5. Mozy

Finally, Mozy is a great resource for companies that deal with a large volume of data on a regular basis. Through Mozy, companies can save their data to the cloud and ensure that it is always available regardless of what happens to their own computer systems. While it may not save money immediately, any company that suffers a catastrophic failure will be glad with their investment in Mozy when they can easily get access back to their data.

Jessica is a professional blogger who writes for Faxage, a leading company that provide internet fax services for individuals and businesses.

Will your business thrive in 2016?

HDM Admin - Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A small business owner has one of the most exciting jobs in the world. However, operating a business is no easy task. According to a recent survey, 43% of small business owners anticipate no revenue growth this year.* Obviously, many small businesses are merely surviving, not thriving as I would hope.

To attain success a small business needs to adapt to a continually changing and challenging economic environment, and it must find a way to achieve sustained growth in order to thrive. Not only is sustained growth necessary, but this must be real growth, not just simply keeping up with inflation.

For today’s small business owners, setting goals and identifying the key factors of growth and success are paramount. With that in mind, here are five proven strategies that can maximize the performance of your business and help it thrive in 2016.

  1. Assess the health of your business with financial analysis. Understanding your current position is the key to creating good strategy. Through an in-depth dissection of your financial statements you will discover potential cost savings, find hidden inefficiencies, and identify growth opportunities. Make sure you also undertake Ratio Analysis, and Benchmark using Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s).
  2. Achieve operational efficiency to maximize profits. There is a difference between an effective operation and one that is efficient. Efficiency increases productivity, keeps wasted time and effort to a minimum, and lowers costs. Making improvements to your everyday systems and processes will help you achieve operational efficiency and maximize your profits.
  3. Plan for future growth and success. If your business is to grow and prosper it must have a clearly defined mission, there must be direction, and specific goals to be achieved. A strategic plan will prepare your business for the future in a proactive and adaptable way. Without a strategic plan, a business simply operates from day to day without any clear path for its future.
  4. Identify your ideal customer. I often hear business owners complain that they are spending thousands on marketing and not seeing any return. In many cases, they’ve never defined their target market or ideal customer. Once you’ve done this properly you’ll be able to effectively move the marketing process forward.
  5. Get help where you need it. This strategy is simple, but rarely heeded. There are very few small business superheroes out there. We are all mere mortals, and most anyone who’s running a successful business will tell you they’ve had lots of help along the way. You are the expert in your business, but you may not be an expert in financial analysis, operational management, strategic planning, or marketing.

Remember, you must work on your business, not just in it to see it thrive. Hiring an Accredited Consultant whose specialized help can get your business from Point A to Point B and Beyond may be the best investment you’ll ever make!

Contact Confident Endeavors today to discover how we can propel your business with proven strategies!

Small Business Consultant Offers Free Seminar

HDM Admin - Friday, October 23, 2015

Confident Endeavors, an Accredited Small Business Consulting Firm is offering a Free Seminar on October 27th at the Andaz Savannah. “How to Propel Your Business to Success” will begin at 6:00 pm. Learn about the top daily challenges and pitfalls all small business owners face, as well as proven strategies to overcome these challenges, how to increase your profits, and create sustainable growth that brings value to your company. To register please visit Confident Endeavor’s events page

For a Great Return, Invest in Yourself!

Dominick Biangone - Thursday, October 22, 2015

Businesses invest funds in many different things such as new equipment, the latest technology, signage, association dues, publications, etc. However, Owners frequently overlook one of the most important investments they can make for their business… an investment in expanding their own knowledge. Knowledge is the most powerful asset your business will have, and it makes the difference between success and failure. We have all seen in recent years how quickly the economic environment surrounding our businesses can change. Do you have the skills and knowledge you need to excel in our fast-changing world?

You spend money on your business, but do you spend money on acquiring more knowledge? There are many ways that you can invest in yourself. You can study the latest industry trends, take an online course, attend a conference, or perhaps you may be fortunate enough to find a local free seminar. Regardless of the method, expanding your business knowledge does not start and stop with a one-time effort, it is a continuous process.  
What’s that you say, continuous? That sounds like a big expense. Let me share a little secret with you… It’s not an expense, it’s an investment. Never consider this an expense item, but as an investment in which you will receive a return on investment (ROI), thus, creating value in your own business.  There is no substitute for knowledge. The knowledge you acquire improves your business not only today, but into the future as well. You cannot afford to allow your business to remain stagnant, or worse yet, decline. A business cannot grow without positive change and improvement, but that positive change begins with you, the business owner.

The Integrated Success Matrix

Dominick Biangone - Monday, September 14, 2015

There are many factors that play a role in the success of a small business. In order to be successful, a business must operate as efficiently as possible in order to maximize profits. It must also beat the competition by being better and different, and must make continuous improvement in its entire system. But that’s not all it takes. For a small business to be truly successful, it must understand the Integrated Success Matrix, which is comprised of three elements that are of major importance and consistently contribute to its long-term sustainability. These three major elements are:

  • Marketing
  • Product or Service
  • Integrity and Credibility

Marketing – Marketing is often confused with advertising. Advertising is just one part of marketing, along with branding, public relations, social media, and sales. Marketing promotes a business and builds demand for its products or services. A company’s marketing strategy personifies the company, is the entire package, and makes the company what it is. What is important with marketing is that it must “hit the mark every time.” Every dollar spent and energy contributed must reach target customers, and encourage them to connect, buy, and return. Competition is intense in today’s marketplace, and the spoils of victory go to the business that can deliver its messages consistently and effectively.

Products or Services - Competition is intense, so a company has to differentiate its products or services. But how can it do that? By being the best there is! Being the best there is does not mean having the highest quality of any product or service on the market. It means being the “best there is” for the class of products or services in which it competes. The automobile industry is a good example. An $80,000 car is not in competition with a $30,000 car, but each will still strive to be the best in their respective categories. The expensive car will try to be the best in its class while the less expensive car will try to be the best in its class even though they are not in direct competition with each other.

Integrity and Credibility – These two elements must be unquestioned by customers, clients, and anyone involved with the business. Integrity is about being ethical, honest, and fair.  Integrity means always doing what is right. The credibility of a business is about being believed by others, being seen as honest, and having high morals. Integrity works within a business. Credibility works outside of a business. Integrity and credibility are interrelated. Owners set examples for employees of how the company will conduct its business. Employees follow the lead. Customers see exemplary qualities of the business that set it apart from the competition, and in turn want to do business with the company.

Success is not a snapshot in time for a small business. It’s a constant work in progress, and it never ends. Today’s business environment is always changing, competition increases, the economy fluctuates, and employees come and go. The list is endless. Obviously, change is the only constant. So remember the Integrated Success Matrix, and your chances of achieving targeted goals will be greatly enhanced.

Benefits of Hiring a Consultant

Dominick Biangone - Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Small business owners love their business. Their passion is almost always evident, and they are endeavoring to live the life they imagined.  However, operating a business is no easy task. Many times the small business owner has technical knowledge and loves their business, but lacks the overall operational knowledge needed to understand the necessities of running a profitable enterprise. In most cases, small business owners have no idea how to properly analyze their business in order to make logical, prudent business decisions to help them succeed, and finding the time to learn about critical core functions seems near impossible. Unfortunately, due to this lack of time and overall operational knowledge, the dream of owning one’s own business can be just that for many individuals…..nothing more than a dream.

It is necessary for any business to attain sustained growth for continued existence, and this growth must be real growth, not simply keeping up with inflation. If a business is to grow and prosper, there must be direction with clear goals to be achieved. Operational procedures must not just be effective, but must be highly efficient in order to maximize profits. Without critical analysis and a strategic plan, a business simply operates from day to day without any clear path for its future.
This is why it is so important for the small business owner to seek out the expert advice of an Accredited Small Business Consultant. The benefits of working with an ASBC are well documented:

  • A consultant can provide a cost effective way to bridge the gap in knowledge and skills.
  • A consultant will bring a fresh, objective, and professional perspective to a company.
  • A consultant will have a results-oriented focus.
  • A consultant is an expert in improving operational efficiency, maximizing profits, and planning for future growth.
  • A consultant can provide the expertise needed to relieve your specific business “pain.”

The fact is that no two businesses are the same. Each faces its own set of unique challenges and opportunities, and requires a focused approach. Whether a company is trying to deal with a current problem or evaluating its viability in the future, a consultant can help. With the proper analysis, planning, and operational execution, a business can become successful. Consider hiring an Accredited Small Business Consultant to help take your business to a new, higher level.

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