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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Top 8 Differences Between a Worker Bee and a CEO

by Phil Glosserman

1. The CEO prioritizes her time around strategic activities that affect the company's growth and direction. The worker bee spends most of her time buzzing around doing projects and managing the details of the business.

2. The CEO thinks big and out into the future. The worker bee thinks in terms of short-term deadlines and constraints.

3. The CEO is clear about his role, responsibilities, and duties - he knows when to delegate, farm out, or hire. The head worker bee doesn't; make the distinction between being a worker and a manager. His boundaries are fuzzy and this often gets him, and the business, into trouble.

4. The CEO takes charge of building the company's reputation, image and trustworthiness. He is externally focused and "outward facing". The worker bee is more internally focused - on the tasks, projects and problems at hand.

5. The CEO realizes he must invest in himself, his company and his people to make the business thrive.  He readily invest time and money in coaching, education, training, etc.  The worker bee typically sees himself as too busy or strapped for cash to invest in himself.

6. The CEO is bold, visionary, optimistic, and takes calculated risks. The worker bee worries about getting through the current workload and may be afraid to take risks because things "may not work out". 

7. The CEO builds the capacity of the business ahead of the business growth.  The worker bee is reactive - he builds business capacity in response to business growth.  He usually adds people and other resources way late in the game and struggles to bring them up to speed while managing the work that has been piling up. 

8. The CEO sees herself as a leader in and outside the company. She is aware of her responsibilities to inspire and motivate people and takes it seriously.  Most worker bees don't see themselves as leaders. 

How do you stack up? Do you think and act like a CEO, a worker bee or a little bit of both?  It doesn't matter whether you're head of a large company or a one-man operation, if you want to be the CEO of your business, you must first think like a CEO.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What to do BEFORE You Start Your Blog

by Stebbins Media
There are no real hard-defined rules for starting a blog, but there are tasks you can complete before a full launch that will help you gain footing a bit faster than if it the steps completed after the fact.

If you haven’t yet decided upon a domain name yet start researching domain names by looking into a keyword tool.  A very popular choice is Google AdWords Keyword Tool.  Type in the broadest term for what type of blog you are looking to start and narrow it from there.  For an example, if you sell chairs you may want to research furniture and narrow it down from there (drilling it down to your local area).

Come up with at least 10 post idea and write them (paying some extra attention to the keywords that you found during your earlier research). Even if you may intend to post weekly, monthly, or even daily having this cushion to fall back on may prove exceptionally helpful.  There is always the chance of something happening that you aren't planning on, and having that cushion will be incredibly helpful.  Another benefit of having some pre-done posts is the ability to take your time and truly craft them perfectly.
Research every angle before writing.  Before you look into your posts, research your market in every area you can find.  There are internet forums for almost anything conceivable, look towards them to get a feel for what your potential customer is looking for. This is also a great time to establish a presence on these forums and work up trust before your launch.

Before you officially launch, you may even want to consult with experts both in your field and SEO and blogging.  You can learn a lot from other people’s knowledge and ability and it will prove a great time to learn from them before an official launch.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What is the Tipping Point for Your Industry?

by Stacey O"Byrne 

In today’s economic climate, word of mouth marketing / relationship marketing is extremely important and very necessary.  Business owners today, are asked to do a lot with a little.  This causes us to continually juggle and multi task.  When a small business owner / entrepreneur / sales person joins a networking group, their expectations may not always be reasonable or realistic.  I have found through my years of networking and training thousands of workshop attendees, that if people get very honest with themselves they realize that their expectation was to receive a significant return with a minimal investment.  What do you want to get out of your networking efforts?  What do you expect your ROI to be?

Each industry / category has its own tipping point, do you know what yours is?  I will share with you a few examples to help set the bar and get an idea of your networking tipping point, to help you get the most out of your TEAM membership.  If you were to represent Mary Kay, or equivalent, and you joined a chapter today.  It is very safe to say you could potentially start receiving referrals and transactional business within a few weeks, 3 – 5 weeks.  Let’s look at the opposite end of the spectrum now.  If you are in financial services, Financial Planning / Advising, this is a much more personal and sensitive category.  Your investment needs to be much greater before you start receiving a return.  It is very realistic to say that you would be looking at 9 – 18 months before you truly start seeing something or possibly anything.  Is it worth it, absolutely it is, you just have to understand the concept and philosophy to this type of environment.  

I would love to share a story with you to put this into perspective.  I have a student of my program, who has since became a friend, she is a Financial Advisor.  She went through my course back in Feb 2011 and when she did, she told me she would do everything I told her to do because it wasn’t a matter of wanting to make this work, she had to make this work.  No pressure right!  I told her due to the nature of her industry and the sensitivity of dealing with people’s money and the trust that had to be evoked would require her to invest 9 – 18 months of playing full out and participating in networking continually.  She assured me she got it, she understood and she was fully on board.  October / November time frame, she was sharing with me her frustration.  “I have done everything you told me to do and I have become a great referrer.  People have gotten a lot of business from me, but I haven’t received anything in return.  This isn’t working, I’m not sure if I can keep doing this.  I’m just not getting the value.”  Her boss even called me.  He said, “ I really need you to intervene, she believes in everything you tell her.  She must be doing something wrong, because she isn’t seeing anything.  Will you see if she is closing right?”  I assured him, that he really didn’t understand the foundation of networking and that she was fine and would start receiving a return on her investment, she just had to reach her tipping point.  I received a call shortly after Thanksgiving, “I got my first referral, and wrote my first piece of business from networking.”  Then a couple weeks later, I received another call, “I got another referral and wrote another plan.”  Guess what, between then and now.  She has written 10 new clients.  Just on the verge of her tipping point, she was at her ropes end.  She had almost given up.  She is very glad she didn’t.  

Each industry has a different investment level before you will see a return.  Now that doesn’t mean that you might not luck out and get something before then.  It just means that you won’t see the “mother lode” until you have made your investment.  Now to get clear, investment is not just showing up to your weekly TEAM meeting.  Investment means, SHOWING UP to your TEAM meeting.  Playing full out.  Engaging in relationships, adding value.  Understanding why you are there, what you are going to do while you are there and what you are going to do when you leave.  Investment means, having a networking plan, creating a commercial strategy, participating in your chapter, doing your coaching session and adding value to your TEAM members.  Remember, how you do some things is how you do everything and how you do the little things is how you do the big things!

The last tip I would like to share with you to help ensure you get the biggest bang for your investment.  Is track your ROI.  Put a dollar amount on your time, track what you spend on networking, get really organized and track the referrals you receive, 1st generation, 2nd generation and 3rd generation etc.. referrals.  By understanding your tipping point, making a real and honest investment and then tracking your ROI you will be very surprised on your true networking results.  If you have any questions or would like any help, please feel free to contact me.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Client Retention is Everybody's Job

by Reuben Estrada

CEOs, this is a no-brainer.  Yet so often, so very often, in business I find myself working with a client that is having a hard time with the concept of creating “Customers for Life.”  You know the sales people are out there selling, but they simply don’t see it as their job to follow up on their past customers.  The people in your Customer Service Department deliver the product or the service, but they don’t see it as their job to talk about future sales or purchases with that customer.  The receptionist, who is answering the phone and doing well at it, just doesn’t see it as her job to ask that additional one or two questions:  How are we taking care of you? Do you know about the other products that we have to offer?  Your Production Department is doing their job by putting out product so the Service Department can serve the customer, but for some unknown reason there seems to be a big disconnection between production and the end user, your customer. In the most successful organizations I’ve seen, the customer is it!   Everyone in the company knows without a doubt that Customer Service is everybody’s job.

Here’s a tip:  Ask this question of every employee, in every position, and in every department:  How do you specifically, in your job, impact Customer Service?  More importantly, how do you feed our culture of creating “Customer’s For Life”?  If they don’t have a great answer, develop a training program and systems to make sure they understand and begin to live this culture.
This has been your CEO Rule of the Week.  I am Ruben Estrada.  Your Next Move


Friday, May 25, 2012

Frank Ortiz, of A Shot at Happiness, shares his secrets and ideas on how to create a happier life. During these hard economic times, everyone could use a little happiness in their day to day lives. Are you ready for your shot at Happiness?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Invest Your Time to Build Relationships

You know a lot of people, but how well do you really know them? By investing your time to strengthen relationships you will grow a strong referral network.
You may have heard the phrase, it’s, "Who you know." Well, many believe that the phrase, "How well you know them and how they do business" that counts.

This means your network must not only be broad, it must also be deep. Unfortunately, most people make lots of contacts hoping to find that special someone that will become a client. They are simply gaining exposure and some visibility. These people need to consider this… eucalyptus trees have a shallow root system and the oak tree has a root system that grows deep into the ground. During heavy winds, the eucalyptus tree blows over and yet the oak will weather the storm. Which tree are you? If you want to be the oak tree you need to build a relationship based on trust and deepen the roots of your network. Let’s get you started.
1. Determine who is in your network that has the same ideal client as you do. Ask around to determine if this person and the business are reputable. Visit their website and read the marketing material.
2. Schedule an hour and get to know them as a person and about their business. At the end of an hour you will know if you want to get to know them better or not.
3. If you still want to know them after the initial hour invite them out for a social event, attend a networking event together, or a fundraiser to further strengthening the relationship.
4. Once trust has been established you may want to pass a referral or make an introduction to someone in your network in order to move the relationship along. This is important, one referral or introduction only… follow up on this and see how it goes. If all goes well, then get your “Ask in Gear” and ask for a referral or introduction in return.
We all know the best time to plant an oak tree was 25 years ago; however, the next best time is now! Invest your time and develop business relationships with deep roots, it will be worth it.

Laura Bruno
The Business Relationship Authority

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Facts Tell, Stories Sell

by Cory Newman
Every week in your TEAM chapter you will have an opportunity to give a “One Minute Commercial” about your business, and I have a little saying about this time of the meeting.  It is "Facts Tell...Stories Sell".  What does that mean?  It means when we are telling stories about our business we are really painting a picture to our networking partners, clients, potential clients and everyone else that we know what we are doing, and are doing it successfully.  Telling stories helps you brag about yourself a little bit.  Let me give you an example:

During the "highlight one part of your business" you can say: This week I'd like to highlight...(and then proceed to tell us about the highlight for the week).

Now, let me show you how to "spice up" your highlight.  You can say: "This week I'd like to highlight..." (and then proceed to highlight your business...and share a story that will illustrate how you have helped someone this week)

Find a way to share a story in every One Minute Commercial because it works!  Remember, when we were growing up, our parents didn't tell us bedtime "facts", they told us bedtime stories.  Facts tell, stories sell and we want you to sell a bunch.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Procrastination 101

by Phil Glosserman
What Is Procrastination?
Who among us hasn't procrastinated? Sometimes it's no big deal, but other times we
undermine ourselves or let others down when we put things off. Some people have a
pattern of procrastination--they routinely blow things off or stress themselves and
others out in a last-minute rush to hit a deadline. In this article we'll take a look at
the real reasons we procrastinate. Understanding why we choose to put things off is
the first step to breaking the procrastination habit.

Many of my coaching clients come to our first meeting with a list of goals that
they've been putting off. When I ask why they've been procrastinating, I get a
variety of answers:
  • · "I'm too busy."
  • · "I'll get to it eventually."
  • · "I don't know where to begin."
  • · "What if it doesn't work?"
  • · "I'm not sure if I should do it."
  • · And my personal favorite, "Let's see what happens."
In simple terms, procrastination is avoidance of a decision about what to do and
what not to do. When we procrastinate, we operate in a gray zone, unclear and
unresolved about what to focus on and when. It doesn't feel good and it undermines
our clarity and self-confidence.

The Cycle of Procrastination
Procrastination often turns into a viscous cycle. We put off projects or decisions and
over time they mount up. We become frustrated with the projects and with ourselves
for not doing them. Our self-esteem suffers and we feel less and less motivated to do
whatever we've been putting off. As things continue to mount up, we become
overwhelmed and procrastinate more.

Peter, the Master Procrastinator
I've worked with many sales people who were masters of procrastination. At our first
meeting, Peter told me his success depended on his making at least 120 sales
prospecting calls a week. When I asked how many he was actually making, he said
he didn't keep track. I had him keep a time log for a week. During the following
workweek he made only 43 calls. During the time he could have been calling he
spent 6 hours on the Internet, 7 hours on e-mail, 3 hours talking to people around
the office, and ran 4 personal errands. Apparently, Peter was doing anything and
everything to avoid making calls. He was sabotaging his own success. Why? Despite
industry statistics that showed he'd have to make 35 calls to generate one sale, he
felt anxious in anticipation of hearing a "no," so he avoided making calls. Through
our work, Peter developed a new mindset and strategies and is now making close to
145 calls a week. His sales have increased 48% in three months.

"Just Do It" Just Doesn't Work
Most people think the cure for procrastination is simple: buckle down and work
harder--"just do it!" Sometimes this strategy works temporarily, but eventually
procrastination rears its ugly head again. "Just do it" doesn't address the real issue:
Why we choose to procrastinate.

The Hidden Meaning of Procrastination
Very few people understand the real reason behind procrastination. Procrastination is
a covert, unconscious strategy we use to avoid anxiety. Most of the time, it's not to
avoid the work itself, but to avoid the anxiety that comes up when we contemplate
starting or completing a project or making a decision. In other words, we get so
antsy just thinking about a project that we push it aside. It's kind of kind of like
sweeping it under the carpet so we don't have to think about it.
So what's the anxiety about? It can be many things, but here are some of the most
  • · Fear of failure, criticism, being judged, or not doing it well enough. This fear
  • can show up as a reluctance to say no to a project in anticipation of what
  • others might think.
  • · Fear of success. If we succeed, we're afraid we'll be on the hook to do even
  • more or perform at an even higher level.
  • · Not yet knowing what to do first or next in a project.
  • · Fear of making a wrong move or decision.
  • · Fear of losing our freedom or other opportunities once we commit to a project.
For most people, these fears are unconscious. The good news is that these fears are
most often unfounded and irrational. When we flush them out and examine them, we
can see how we are working against ourselves and decide to move on. That may
mean taking immediate action or scheduling action. Sometimes the best way to stop
procrastinating is to make a clear-cut decision not to do something.

When you find yourself putting something off, ask yourself what's the real reason
you're avoiding it. Be honest with yourself. Are you procrastinating because of some
fear or anxiety? If so, look at the anxiety and notice whether it's over something real
or imagined. If you still feel stuck, take responsibility for moving ahead--schedule
the next steps, take action, or work with a coach to help you accomplish what you
really want.
All the best,
Coach Phil
© 2003

Saturday, May 19, 2012

6 Celebrity Secrets for Making Your Customers Feel Like Stars

by Donna Cutting

If Johnny Depp walked into your workplace today, how would you behave? If you’re like most people, you’d drop whatever you were doing and approach him, smiling, ready and eager to serve him. If Halle Berry walked into your restaurant, you’d immediately escort her to the best seat in the house. If Tom Hanks was on the phone asking questions, you’d do whatever you could to get him his answers… cheerfully… right?

What about the rest of your customers? Perhaps you’re thinking, “Of course, we’d treat them exactly the same way!” Maybe. In general, though, customer service has become a “buzz phrase” that is rarely lived up to. A study done by Connell and Associates (2004) found that 45% of all respondents felt that most companies simply do not provide good customer service. In a Harris Interactive Study 80% of respondents stated they had made the decision never to do business with a company again because of bad customer service.

How can you – the business owner or service professional – turn this trend around? By treating your customers like stars!

As Garrett Richter, president and CEO of the First National Bank of Florida, tells his employees, “If we roll out the red carpet for billionaires, they won’t even notice it. If we roll out the red carpet for millionaires, they expect it. If we roll out the red carpet for thousandaires, they appreciate it. And if we roll out the red carpet for hundredaires, they tell everybody they know.”
To this point, the same Harris Interactive Study found that 60% of respondents said the main reason they would recommend a company is outstanding customer service.

Here are the six secrets from the world of celebrity that will get your customers buzzing about you.

  1. Give Them a Red Carpet Arrival.  When a celebrity arrives for a movie premiere or a charity function, it’s a big deal! There’s a red carpet. There are photographers. There are hundreds of fans lined up, shouting their name and begging for a chance to spend even two seconds with the star. When the rest of us arrive at a place of business, we’re lucky if we can even get someone to acknowledge us. Treat your customers like stars by showing them you’re glad they came. Look up, smile, walk out from behind the counter and greet them. Most people don’t need a fancy carpet or paparazzi – just eye contact is enough!
  2. Call Them By Name.  Motivational guru and author Dale Carnegie said that when you remember someone’s name you “make them feel important.” Remember your customer’s name and use it each time you see them. Make it a top priority, and you’ll find remembering names easier than you think. You can also find unique ways of using someone’s name. For instance, High Point University welcomes all expected guests with their own parking space designated by a sign bearing… you guess it… their name. Some restaurants name dishes after famous people. What if you named some of your products after your best customers? Now that’s the star treatment.
  3. Remember and Refer.  Aside from their name, remember other details about your customers as well and refer to them. When one grocery store manager recalled that the “grumpy lady who comes in on Wednesdays” had been to Chicago to visit her daughter, he asked her about the trip… and made her day! Now, that once grumpy customer seeks the man out with a smile on her face whenever she comes into the store. It doesn’t take much to make ordinary people feel special. Just pay attention.
  4. Cater to Their Personal Preferences.  While your customer may not be as picky as the celebrity who wants all the brown M&M’s taken out of his candy dish, everyone has their likes and dislikes. Surprise your customer in little ways and let them know you are paying attention. In his former career as a banker, Author and Speaker Dave Timmons earned the business of a prospect after he tossed him two baseballs signed by the members of his grandsons’ favorite sports team. One hotel dining room supervisor heard a guest say that she enjoyed blood oranges, so he secretly had a few brought up to her room. Delight people in this way and you and your business become unforgettable.
  5. Give Them SWAG!  At every awards show celebrities walk away with gift bags filled with products and paraphernalia worth thousands. There is a reason why people line up – and even pay good money – to give their goods away to celebrities via the swag bag. When the superstar wears or uses their product, it creates buzz. When Katrina Campins, star of the first season of The Apprentice wore a watch on the show that was give to her by Jacob the Jeweler, she was swamped with calls from men wanting to buy one for their wives. While your customers may not have the platform that Katrina had to show off your product, when you give them something for free they will talk about it. Just watch how much press Ben & Jerry’s gets next time they hold a “Free Cone Day.” What kind of swag can you give your customers to get them talking about you?
  6. Be Extraordinary… And Then Some.  Make a commitment to be remarkable in every way that you serve your customer. Be the first one to respond. Have the widest smile in the room. Call everyone by name. Constantly be on the lookout for little ways that you can make your customer feel like the most important person in the world. When you do, you will find yourself not only with a customer for life, but with a raving fan that will go out and spread the word about their incredible celebrity experience.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Clutter: The Epilogue

by Jeff Zbar
My desk still often remains a bit cluttered. But I’m not anal about keeping a “clean” desk during the work week. I know where stuff is, can find it rather quickly, and spend Fridays cleaning my desk. Besides, people with spotless desks during the week scare me. 

I guess this is hereditary. My dad had a sign in his office, “Please do not straighten out the mess in my office. You’ll confuse me and screw up my whole world.” Like those who believe a little dirt is healthy for kids, a little clutter reveals a busy mind – as long as there’s no dust atop the clutter.
The essential component to any effort to knock back clutter is to Create a Process. Don’t just shred, but know what’s to be shredded when it arrives. Don’t just create Folders in Outlook. Know what those folders are to be used for – and base your folder-making decision on your actual habits.

If, as Aristotle was believed to have said, “Excellence is not an act, but a habit,” Make Excellence in De-Cluttering a habit as well.

The Art of De-cluttering & Organizing the Home Office

by Jeff Zbar

I received this query recently: “What should people do with that cluttered, paper-filled home office?” My advice… Ditch the paper. Go digital. Scan documents. Receive all bills (corporate and personal) via email. THEN, clean up digital clutter by creating ‘folders’ in Outlook or gmail or any other email program. Digital clutter is as bad as the paper kind.

- Set aside a day every month or three to cull your paper detritus. Clean out old files and folders (the paper kind). Ask yourself, “Can I find this online?” If so, ditch it. My motto: “The more I can piss off the garbage man by having one or more cans filled with stuff removed from my office, the better I’ve done my job” (I tip them generously during the holidays, so I don’t feel too badly).

- Don’t just ditch. Shred. Any document that has personally identifying information – name, address, credit card number, Social Security, Driver License, etc – gets shredded. My Fellowes PS-77Cs shredder is a fixture in my home office.  As a work-at-home dad, I’ll make a pile and let my kids do it. They seem to get some vicarious thrill running things through the shredder.

- Create an Organizing System. It’s not enough to put papers in folders in a file cabinet. Create a system for filing. Even filed papers can become clutter. I subdivide larger topics into more manageable ones (e.g., “House” folders include separate ones for Insurance, Repairs / Renovations [large renovations or projects get their own folders], Home Taxes, etc.). This goes for digital / email folders, too.

- Create a system for MyDocuments. See Create a System above. My larger clients may have sub-folders beneath a master folder to better organize or handle projects. Some are for specific projects, another is for general correspondence. Divide and Conquer.
- The standard philosophy always applies: Touch Mail Once. Before mail enters the house, I’ve culled the junk (if it’s a credit card app, I shred it first). I also registered with the FTC-backed Do Not Send list for credit cards, and the Do Not Call Registry. Calls can be as cluttering on the mind as paper can be in the house. Once mail’s in the house, I put it where it belongs – in the respective family member’s room, or in the to-be-paid pile. I also pay bills electronically almost immediately upon arrival, and then shred the bill. Some people keep bills, but they’re all available online – if you’ve set up online service with the particular vendor or utility.

- Touch Mail Once (the caveat): Don’t just toss mail onto your spouse’s desk – unless you prefer to tempt fate. Instead, discuss where your spouse would like the mail placed – on a desk, in a stack, on YOUR desk if it’s a bill and you’d normally handle it anyway. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Is Your Content Helping or Hurting Your SEO?

by Stebbins Media
Casting the blogging net far and wide to attract customers (and hopefully conversions) to your website sounds like the best thing to attract new visitors. It seems almost logical.  

Unfortunately this is also the way to turn off potential customers.   Improving your content can in turn improve both  the website ranking and customer conversions.

Think of it as if it were a canvas and you are the artist. While you could use every last color and brush at your disposal but think about what the of that would look like.  It would very likely be a muddied and confusing mess.  Scaling down however, and carefully choosing the palette and tools carefully instead can turn it into a work of art.

Now, apply that same school of thought to your blog’s content.  A visitor that may search for something and wind up on your website is only as good as what they may have searched for.  If your business sells e books about electronics, but if a visitor wound up on your website by searching for pluming advice, it’s not going to do you any good what so ever.  It is doubtful that  they will wind up purchasing an e-book on a completely different topic.

Having a well-defined niche is important and occasionally it is okay to mix up the topics, but  writing about a more narrow area will attract those specific visitors to your website.  This is one of the most basic lessons in SEO, and it’s also one of the most useful.  

Simply by casting a smaller net you in a defined area will attract more of the visitors you are looking for, and you have a better overall chance at turning those visitors into customers.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Maximizing Your Web Presence

by Reuben Estrada

 In today’s rapidly changing world of technology it is easy for business owners to get lost between SEO (search engine optimization), Social networking, Blogging, and Website management. Far too often, when coaching a client I learn that they are confused as to what to spend their time and resources on and often find them doing nothing. No Social Networking strategy in place, not changing their SEO plan and worse of all, no clear strategy for their web sites. “Far too many strategies to learn about and work on while still running my business” is what I hear from the business owner. “What should I do?” I am asked.

Well, I have always played by the simple rule of “Begin with the end in mind”. How does that apply to this situation you may ask? Simple; the end with any and all of the strategies above is to drive traffic to your web site. It was reported recently that 80% of all purchases included the buyer visiting the sellers web site, be it a restaurant, furniture store or car dealership. I do it. My wife and I are driving down the road and I get the craving for some Susi. I turn on the Google Places finder on my Andriod and look for Susi Restaurants in the area. I check out their web sites from my phone and quickly select the one I want to eat at based on what I see. I may have selected the worse of all restaurants, but they had a good web site. So I tell my client, “Let’s take a good look at your web site. Then we will design the plan to drive traffic there.”

First of all you must decide what you want your web site to be. There are three general types of web sites and one of them will be best suited for your business. Your job is to decide which of the three your business needs then build you web design and strategy around it. Here are the three;
  1. Customer Focused:  This web site is rich with tools and information for Customers to access when doing business with you.  It may have industry or trade specific information, company credentials and certifications, product or service use videos and a “log in” for customer to check on their order or history of purchases.  Although these web sites may have access for new visiting potential customers to get more information, or even make a purchase, the overall strategy of the site is to serve a current customer base. A good example of this is any of the Verizon web sites. When visiting their site one will find hundreds of links for “How to” with Verizon; however, on these same customer service pages Verizon is advertising their newest phone, new service packages or other special deals.

  1. Resource or Information Focused: Some web sites exist simply to offer information or to be a resources, or repository, of specific information. They do not have very little customer benefit information nor do they have a sales component to then. They are primarily a place to go to learn something specific about a company, organization or industry.  As you are reading this you may be thinking to yourself, “Why would Ruben even mention this type of site strategy. I am a for profit business that needs customers and sales, not a “Resource” company.” Here is why. Far too often when visiting a customer’s web site we discover that the site does a great job providing information about the company history, its accomplishments and credentials. There are pages after pages of “how we do this” and “How we do that”. In fact there may even be a full page just about the owner. Nice head shot, great bio and fascinating story. Good INFORMATION about the company and an excellent RESOURCE if someone was doing a autobiography of you and your business. But when it comes to customer service or driving sales to your business, “who cares about your bio”?

  1. Sales: A web site designed to drive sales, or leads, to your business answers this question on the home page; “what was the visitor thinking when they typed in the key search words to find me?” For example, if I own an auto body repair shop and someone types in “Auto body repair” I can pretty much assume they have been in an accident, are a bit distressed, maybe even hurt or angry and want rapid response. So I may load the top of my home page with the words “CALL US AT 909.444.2222 FOR GUARANTEED 5 MINUTE RESPONSE”.  Then I would follow that with more information that caused the buyer to trust my business capabilities focusing on prompt service, ease of transaction then our capabilities. A Sale’s focused web site has “Contact us” buttons flashing on every page. Local phone numbers are easily visible above the fold on every page, not hidden in the top ribbon or below the fold where the visitor has to scroll down to find it.

So, beginning with the end in mind here means to build a web site strategically designed to serve your desired visitor, not to server your ego. If you are still lost as to what to do next after reading this article, get some guidance by calling a professional business coach at

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

6 Signs a Small Business is Ready for a CRM

There are times when keeping Post-It notes doesn’t cut it for sales tracking. And there are times when using a solution like Salesforce is overkill. To help put things into perspective, here are six signs your business might be ready for a small business-grade CRM solution.

1. You can’t easily add people to your marketing database.
When a new prospect is in your hands, how do you add them to your database? Is it in your email app? Is it in your Outlook? Is it a text file? Using disparate solutions like a separate email system mailing list or lead management system, you will face challenges later. If you don’t have a consistent and scalable method of adding people to your marketing system, it’s time to invest in a CRM solution.

2. You can’t tell where people are in your ‘pipeline.’
Ask any salesperson and they’ll admit to you they hate cold calling. Make their job easier by delivering them hot leads that are ready to buy and have their basic questions answered. If you can’t differentiate between a cold lead and one that’s ready to buy, it’s time to get a CRM.

3. You want to send a promotional offer out to people who are warm leads, but can’t figure out how.
Most CRM solutions available today require you to build a custom integration for sending emails. This causes frustration when you want to send a targeted offer to folks at the right time. If you’re using a CRM, make sure it’s easy and simple to send marketing messages from it without needing to call a software engineer.

4. You are unable to associate which lead generation activities are resulting in sales.
The old phrase in marketing, “I know that half of my advertising budget is wasted, but I’m not sure which half,” can be addressed if you have accurate tracking on leads and sales. If you’re not tracking your marketing activities with every contact, you’ll have more difficulty making informed marketing decisions later on.

5. Your sales team finds it difficult to quickly access prospects and update them.
As a business, you want your salespeople to educate and sell – not waste valuable time messing with your software solution. Your salespeople should see their lead nurturing and tracking software as the conduit to their success and not a barrier.

6. Your data is not accessible remotely.
If your customer database is on your hard drive, it’s time to put your data in a service that is reliable and takes necessary steps to secure data (such as PCI Compliance). In the event of data loss or theft, think about how you would recover? Most web-based CRM providers offer solid reliability and data integrity that you can rely on.

There are plenty of options and as you graduate from a basic CRM solution to a more robust one. Ideally, you want a CRM that will grow with you – and not hold you back. To get a better idea about how we can help your small business, sign up for a personalized demo on how Infusionsoft can help your business.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

7 Ways to Sharpen Your Leadership Skills

Very few people describe themselves as natural born leaders. It takes buckets of self-confidence and a dash of moxie to get others to follow your lead. But you don't exactly need to grab the microphone to exude leadership. Leadership is a skill; one that can be learned and developed. Strong leadership skills will help you score more responsibility at work, which means higher chances of a promotion, increased salary, and growth opportunity overall. So, if you want to give your boss more reasons to promote you, consider doing at least one of the following each work day:

1. Foster a reputation for being helpful and resourceful. You don't have to know how to do everything to be seen as a leader, but you do need to be a problem solver. Keep your eyes and ears perked to be aware of what's going on, even in other departments—who's the best person for graphics? Or who's the most accessible person in the IT department? When a newbie co-worker or manager asks for help, you'll know exactly who to direct them to, which will solidify your status as someone who knows the ropes.

"Top performers are widely known and respected by others not because of their frequent contact, charm or likability, but because they help others solve their problems," says David Maxfield, co-author of New York Times' national bestseller Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success. "By doing so, they become invaluable resources." Aim to be helpful; knowing about your surrounding resources is a great start.

2. Be a self-starter. At the very least, you should become the go-to, indispensable person in your little corner of the company. Do whatever it takes—whether it's classes at night, attending conferences, or starting a blog about your field—to become a super authority on your job.
The key here is to kick into self-starter mode—a major prerequisite to gaining leader status. It's not just about doing the job you're assigned, it's about starting your own side projects to keep practicing and mastering your skill.

3. Mentor someone newer. If you see a co-worker who is clearly struggling, point them in the right direction if you can. After all, what better way to practice leadership than to let someone follow your lead? The trick here is to be an effective communicator. Their success is a testament to yours, and at least one person will now see you as a leader. You have to start somewhere.

4. Get on the radar by networking. Networking is important because it'll not only place you on the map but it'll also help you achieve tip No. 1. Joanne Cleaver, author of the upcoming book The Career Lattice and president of the strategic communication consulting firm Wilson-Taylor Associates, says you need alliances with co-workers who can pull in the resources and expertise you'll need to get a project done. "People often assume that they must network up in the organization, but in this era of professional social networking, lateral networks are just as crucial," she says.

5. Lead collaboratively, not cutthroat. Leadership is centered on teamwork rather than going it alone. If you're only out for yourself, why would anyone follow your lead? A good leader recognizes others' strengths and harnesses them to orchestrate a collaborative project.

6. Gain your colleagues' trust. How do you gain trust in the workplace? Simple: Don't give others a reason to be mistrustful of you. This one is really a matter of being ethical. Don't lie, cheat, steal, or throw anyone under the bus to get ahead. Following the Golden Rule will go a long way in earning trust with your work mates.

7. Encourage others through positivity. Leadership requires strong, positive energy—people gravitate toward positivity. Tony Schwartz is the president and chief executive officer of The Energy Project, a company that teaches people how to have a more engaged workforce. In a guest blog post for the Harvard Business Review, Schwartz writes about how leaders should "Serve as Chief Energy Officers—to free and fuel us to bring the best of ourselves to work every day."

Leaders exude positivity, and it's this energy that helps fuel everyone to do their best. This goes back to being solution-oriented and resourceful. A can-do, pleasant attitude is much more respected than a negative one.