Recent Articles

PAIN OR GAIN: WHAT MOTIVATES BUYERS »

by John Ingrisano

The Freestyle Entrepreneur

Pain or gain?  That is why people buy – always! 

As Entrepreneur Dan Paulson points out in his book, Apples to Apples: How to Stand out From Your Competition, “every purchase is an emotional purchase.”

Your product or service either takes away the pain (I need a car or else I must walk to work.) or offers some kind of gain (My new phone does more and costs less.) 

Your job?  It is to help them either understand the pain of not taking a desired action (If you do not buy this product for your business, you will fall behind your competitors.), or to see how this new product or service will make their lives better/easier/happier/etc. (Investing in this class will show you how to get more done in less time, giving you more time for your family.) 

What to do:  When crafting your marketing materials and sales presentation, always keep the pain-and-gain concepts clearly in mind.  One or both are the reasons behind all decisions to buy or not to buy.   

Work hard.  Make money.  Have Fun.  And sell to the key elements of pain or gain. –

John R. Ingrisano

The Freestyle Entrepreneur

 

Every purchase is an emotional purchase….  People are primarily motivated to buy by two factors – pleasure and pain.  A business has to offer products or services that reduce pain, increase pleasure, or do both.” – Dan Paulson, president, InVision Business Development

CLUB YOU: MAKE CUSTOMERS FEEL SPECIAL »

by John Ingrisano

The Freestyle Entrepreneur

Want to build a loyal clientele?  Then sell “membership” in your special club.  No, you do not need an online enrollment (though airlines and hotel chains find this effective).  Nothing formal like that.  Just do like Starbucks does:  Make customers feel that, when they do business there, they are part of something special … and that in turn makes them special.

 We all love feeling special, unique, valued, part of something beyond ourselves.  That’s why I grocery shop where the owner calls out, “Hey, John!” when I walk through the door; why I bank where my dog gets treats; or why I like to stay in the hotel that actually has my first name posted in the lobby when I arrive, because I’m a club member.

 I also love getting the you’re-special discount.  Years ago, when I spent a year playing and working on St. Maarten in the Caribbean, all I had to do was say “I live here” to get five or ten percent off my purchase in an island store.  I loved it.  It’s not about the money so much as just feeling a part of something.  I belonged.

 That’s why I was delighted the other day to walk into a fairly new, laid-back-but-upscale restaurant (Skalliwags) in my home down of Algoma, Wisconsin, and see a small note on the chalkboard menu over the bar that said:  “10% discount for locals.  Not only was the food excellent and the service good, but I also felt appreciated, part of that club.  So, come February, when the tourists have all beat feet for Florida, I’ll make a point of going back to this restaurant.  Why?  Because they value my local business, and they understand that it is local business that keeps the lights on in the off season. 

 As a small-business owner, how do you create that club-membership mentality?  Here are six powerful yet simple ideas:

  1. Give a discount to locals or to past or existing customers.  It need not be big, but make sure it is in your brochure and on your website. 
  2. Start the buy-ten-get-one-free punch card.  Some people live for those kind of discounts.  And whenever they whip out their cards to get punched, they’re reminding you that they’re one of your priority customers. 
  3. Acknowledge and greet every customer like he/she is your best friend and a truly valued customer.  A hearty “Welcome, come in!” helps build instant relationships.  Never let a customer wander in without a greeting.    
  4. Learn their names.  No, this is not always possible.  However, every time you are able to greet someone by name builds the relationship that much more.
  5. Ask their opinions.  If you are experimenting with a new recipe, offer a taste; if you are considering adding or discontinuing a product, ask what they think.  Not only does this provide instant market research, but it gives customers a sense of “ownership”  in your business.  (An alternate, highly effective approach:   Ask them  how you might improve a product or service.  The answers will be quite different from those to the standard question:  “How was everything today, folks?”  
  6. Throw in a freebie.  In a restaurant, ask your valued customers once in a while if they’d like a cup of coffee … on the house.  Or in a retail store, throw in a 25-cent piece of candy for the kids at checkout.  (When my family wandered into a business supply store 26 years ago as we explored the new town to which we had just moved, the owner gave each of my children a little toy.  Neither they nor I have ever forgotten it.) 

 Most of all, do not – ever – take your customers for granted.  They are your lifeblood.  You need them.  Make darn sure you do not miss any opportunity to let them know how much you appreciate their business. 

Work hard. Make money.  Have fun.  And make your customers part of your special club.  — JRI

POOR WRITING SKILLS HURT YOUR CREDIBILITY »

by John Ingrisano

The Freestyle Entrepreneur

Thankls yo for your ordr.  We will skip it iwtnng two wbusi9ness days.” 

Ever get an email, letter or memo like that?  Sure, that may be an extreme example.  However, we all see messages like this way more often than we should.  (And, yes, I admit, typos get by me from time to time.  They happen; however, I work hard to reduce them.) 

It’s a three-fold problem:  First, thanks to the internet, we receive and send a ton of email these days.  As a result, the potential for errors is high.  Second, thanks to the pace of business, we’re in a hurry.  When we receive those hundred or more emails each day, we are tempted to fire off responses  in a mad rush.  Third, thanks to a broken educational system, we’re not learning solid writing skills in school anymore.  I’m seeing younger men and women who lack a knowledge of many of the basic writing skills.    

Still, no excuses, when we let sloppy copy get out the door or slip through the internet, here is what is says about us:

  • We are uneducated.  Even if we have five college degrees, our writing says we need to go back to third grade.

 

  • We’re lazy, irresponsible, and unmotivated, not even willing to take just ten minutes to read through and proof our copy before sending it out.

 

  • We do not have an eye for detail.  In other words, we’re sloppy. 

  

Most of all, poor writing hurts our credibility.   Most errors creep into our copy because we’re in a hurry.  That’s understandable.  We’re busy, and we end up firing off emails, memos and letters at breakneck speed.  Still, sloppy copy hurts us, and it can hit us where it hurts most … in our bottom line.    

 

What to do:

 

  1. Proof-read your copy.  If it is worth sending out, take ten minutes to make sure it is right.  Don’t have the time?  Then come in 30 minutes early each day.  If it is worth writing, it is worth getting right.

 

  1. Get someone else to proof your copy, especially if you are weak in your writing skills.  Delegate it to someone who knows the difference between “effect” and “affect,” or when to use “who” and when to use “whom.”

 

  1. Don’t ever think that it does not matter.  A lot of folks think it is very important.  I have seen people lose contracts because the prospect caught a basic spelling/grammar error that destroyed the sender’s credibility.  Remember, some people love and appreciate words and writing.  They will take offense (and judge the writer harshly) when spelling and grammatical errors go out.

 

  1. Take a course to improve your writing skills.  A one- or two-day seminar on basic grammar and proofreading can improve your writing dramatically.  It is that important.  Just do it.

 

The bottom line:  Poor writing skills can cost you money, alienate customers, and make you look incompetent. 

 

Work hard. Make money.  Have fun.  And when you write your next letter or email, take the time to write it right!  — JRI

 

The Freestyle Entrepreneur – winner of the 2010 Top 35 Entrepreneur Blog awards from OnLine MBA.

John Ingrisano

The Freestyle Entrepreneur    

209  Church Street

Algoma, WI 54201

(920) 559-3722

www.TheFreestyleEntreprenuer.com

 

 

Want more biz tips and support?  Visit www.TheFreestyleEntrepreneur.com.

 

DO YOU DELEGATE? TAKE THIS SELF-QUIZ! »

by John Ingrisano

The Freestyle Entrepreneur

As a small business owner, you’re used to clocking long hours.  That goes with the territory.

However, if you’re logging more than your share of 10, 12, 15-hour days (while your employees waltz out the door at quitting time) something’s wrong.  Sure, it’s nice to know that your company couldn’t get along without you.  But there’s also a good possibility that you are doing a lot of work that could — in fact, should — be delegated to one or more of your employees.

By definition, delega­tion is a simple concept.  It involves the controlled sharing of responsibilities and authority, based on an individual’s abilities.  Unfortunately, this is one of those management tools that is often applaud­ed in theory, but dismissed in practice.

But the business owner who takes the time to master the fine art of delegation reaps the benefits of en­hanced produc­tivity, increased effi­cien­cy and higher morale in the company over the one who insists on making every decision and approv­ing every move.

Start by taking the following self-quiz to see how good you are at delegating. 


 

                                              DELEGATION SKILLS SELF-QUIZ

Rate yourself on each of the following on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 for NEVER; 1 for ALWAYS):

     I insist that every decision, no matter how small, be approved by me first.

     I delegate responsibilities only as a last resort.

     I believe my employees just aren’t capable of han­dling in­creased responsibilities.

     I insist on being in complete control at all times. 

     I view ambitious employees as a threat.

     I believe that if you want something done right, do it your­self.

     I feel guilty when I delegate responsibilities.

     I work evenings and weekends.

     I’m reluctant to take a vacation because my employees won’t be able to run things while I’m gone. 

     I assign tasks, but not the authority to make important deci­sions. 

     TOTAL

Rating yourself:  If your total is below 30, you’re slowly killing yourself and, more than likely, driving everyone in the company crazy.  Learn how to enhance your delegation skills.  If you scored between 31 and 60, you’re doing a lot right, but still have plenty of room for improvement.  If you scored 61 or above, you’re already enjoying many of the benefits of effective delegation.

 

So, work hard, make money, have fun … and delegate all responsibilities that you can.  — JRI

GUEST COLUMN: COACHING »

Below is a guest column from Jerry Baltus, a friend and professional coach.  For more great tips from Jerry, visit his site on Facebook, or contact him at jkbaltusgroup@wi.rr.com.  Enjoy.  JRI

The Biggest Loser

 Business coaching has often been compared to athletic coaching, and I’ve used this analogy many times to help others understand what we do.  One of the main concepts that is similar between the two is the idea that coaches recommend conditioning and exercises, set up the game plan and motivate the athlete, but ultimately it’s the athlete that plays the game and wins or loses based on their ability to compete effectively.

My new favorite analogy uses the trainers on “The Biggest Loser” television show.  If you’ve seen this program, you know that trainers Jillian and Bob are critical to the success of the competitors in achieving their weight loss goals.  They do it with excellent coaching skills that get results even for those who are “not the Biggest Loser!”  Let’s look at the similarities with business coaching.

  • Jillian and Bob don’t seem to set weight loss goals for the competitors.  Instead they set life goals.  They discuss the question of “what do you want your life to look like?” which is a much higher motivational subject than the simple goal of losing an arbitrary number of pounds.  In business coaching we often start with the same idea because our businesses ought to support our lives and can only do so when we are clear about what our life should look like.

 

  • Jillian and Bob don’t live with the competitors, who seem to be on their own for a good part of their day.  They can’t lose the weight for them.  So Bob & Jillian come in, go to the gym, guide the workouts and leave.  Business coaches (which may be very different from consultants) do not work in the business with the client.  Rather they meet, measure and review progress, help set new tasks and leave the client to enact the goals agreed upon.

 

  • “The Biggest Loser” trainers teach.  They educate the competitors about diet, food properties, proper exercise techniques, how the body uses energy and more.  Education is a huge component of business coaching as well, as it gives owners options for overcoming hurdles, ideas for better systems and best practices that have proven results in other similar situations.

 

  • Trainers Bob and Jillian are amazing motivators.  One minute they are screaming at a competitor to push through to the end of a difficult routine and the next minute they are sitting down quietly and asking questions about their emotional well-being or hugging them for a job well done.  In my business coaching practice, I admit I don’t do much screaming.  But we do provide frank, sometimes painful assessment of what we see of a client’s business that an owner might be in denial about.  And we celebrate our clients’ successes to reinforce the positive behavior that caused them.

 

  • “The Biggest Loser” keeps score.  Every week the contestants have to get on the scale to see the stark reality of the weight they’ve lost… or not!  Contestants also learn to count their calories, read food labels, and in other ways measure their progress.  Keeping score is part of business coaching as well and is actually a motivator as clients see progress and validation of their efforts.

 

If you’re curious about what a business coach does, hopefully this analogy helps.  Who do you know who would like help creating a business that supports their life goals?  Or who would value someone to teach and measure progress but leave them to do the work?  Or who could use the motivation and accountability to accomplish their goals?  Or who needs help figuring out how to keep score in their business?  Ask them to give us a call:  920-449-5130

Your success is our only business!

Jerry Baltus

STOP BLAMING THE RECESSION »

by John Ingrisano

The Freestyle Entrepreneur

Yes, we are awallow in The Great Recession.  So, take a few minutes to snivel, whine, complain … and then get over it.  If your biz is in the tank, stop blaming the recession.  And definitely stop sitting around hoping and waiting for it to end.  Do something about it!

In my roaming, “clinical” research, I ask every business owner I encounter a simple question:  “How’s business?”  I hear three possible answers:

  1. It’s awful.  I’m hanging on by my fingertips.
  2. It’s been tough, but we’re trying new ideas, redesigning our business model, and it’s showing signs of working.  (If not, we’ll keep on researching and trying others.)
  3. We’re doing great.  As the field thins and our competitors go under, we’re capitalizing on the opportunities that are everywhere.  We have elected to skip the recession.

Now, I would love to be able to brag that I am category # 3: a brilliant businessman, with vision and a plan that proved I’m so much smarter than my fellow entrepreneurs.  Just ain’t so, Joe. 

Instead, I confess that I was the proverbial deer in the headlights when I woke up two years ago to see that half my business had evaporated.  I had not been paying attention, just tooling along on auto pilot, enjoying the trip, ignoring all the signs that read:  “Danger!  Danger!  Brick wall ahead!”

So, I spent the next 18 months shaking off the daze, and looking for a way, first, to rebuild my existing business and then, second, when I realized that the old model no longer worked, getting outside the box and looking for new opportunities.  I had a lot of false starts and made some bad turns into dead-end streets. 

I learned a lot along the way and came close to the brink.  However, while too many of my biz associates have gone under, I’m still standing:  new ‘n improved, and even making money in this new, stranger-than-fiction economic reality in which we do business these days.  No, I’m not getting rich, but I am again financially stable and in growth mode. 

My point:  If you’re holding on in hopes that the economy will turn around, that’s not we do it in the business world, and you know it.  No business owner worth his/her weight in salt just sits back and hopes that things will improve.  Get out there and make it improve.    

What to do:   

  • Assess.  Look over your books and your markets.  See where you are still strong and where you are losing business.  Find out WHERE and WHY the game has changed for you.
  • Review your power strengths.  Where are you strongest?  What do you do best?  What is your number one competitive advantage? 
  • Update your business model.  See how you can adjust your business model to regain market share in your traditional markets.  Sometimes it’s only a matter of re-packaging your offer and beating the drum via some heavy-duty marketing.  (Revamping your website, looking to marketing sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, expanding laterally into a new niche in your current market.  Get creative.) 
  • Do not compete on price.  Don’t become a bottom-feeding price cutter.  Instead, focus on what makes you unique, special, attractive to prospective customers.
“When a business has a clear point of difference, easily communicated to potential customers, the sale will likely be made on factors other than price.  The clearly-differentiated company gains a price advantage, without having to cut prices.” – Apples to Apples: How to Stand out from Your Competitors, by Dan Paulson, president/CEO of Invision Business Development.                            
  • Get outside the box.  I know business owners who have explored everything from the ridiculous to the sublime.  No one – I repeat, NO ONE – truly understands today’s economy or where it will go in the coming months and years.  Explore your options and take reasonable risks.
  • Never give up.  Remember that the goal of business is to make money, but also to maintain independence.  My new business calls for a lot of travel, doing day seminars.  Though fun, it’s also tough.  Most of all, it beats becoming a cubicle-dwelling-wage-slave for some politically correct boss who likes to hold happy-clappy motivational meetings every Monday morning.  I’ll rise or fall on my own talents and weaknesses, thank you.

The bottom line:  These are tough times for everyone.  Do not roll over and play dead or just sit on the sidelines hoping that the next great econ boom is on its way.  You’re a business person.  You do not wait for things to happen.  You make them happen.

So, work hard and find a way to make money.   – JRI

SELLING BY INTIMIDATION — OH, THAT’LL WORK JUST FINE »

by John Ingrisano

The Freestyle Entrepreneur

I was in a serious buying situation at a used car dealership several months ago.  One thing above all else killed the deal:  The salesman kept telling me I was wrong.  He may have read, Winning by Intimidation.  However, to the best of my knowledge, there is no book titled, Selling by Intimidation.

I went in with a fair amount of research under my belt and a strong desire to get a fair, win/win deal.  I wanted to have a dialog, a negotiating discussion.  However, the salesman, who seemed intent on impressing me with his knowledge, didn’t discuss or negotiate, but simply kept telling me where I was wrong every time I opened up my mouth.  It got really old really fast.

When I said, “The car is nice, but I’m a bit concerned about the high mileage,” he never acknowledged my concerns, but instead came back at me with: “For today’s cars?  No, the mileage is not too high at all.” 

When I said that the price was rather high for a car with that many miles,” he told me, ”You obviously have not looked online at comparable cars.” 

When I asked about a trade-in, he flat-out insulted the car:  “These cars may have been getting top dollar in the past, but I’d be lucky to unload it today for what I’m offering you.  Nobody wants them.”  (I sold it a few weeks later for 40% above what he was willing to take it off my hands.)

When I asked if he could come down a bit on the price, he said, “We price our cars to sell, and there is no wiggle room.”  (Later on, when I finally had enough of being treated like the Moron of the Year and stood to leave, he knocked off $500.  By that time, I wouldn’t have done business with him if he had wanted to give me the car.)

Whether you are selling a product or a service, never forget that you never win a sale by winning an argument.  No, maybe the customer is not always right … but, well, the customer is nonetheless always right. 

If you want to prove you’re smart, play Scrabble or join a debate club.  But if you want to close a sale, work with the prospect and NEVER, NEVER attempt to make that person feel stupid or uninformed.

What he should have done:  Acknowledge my concerns/questions/objections and then guide me to where he wanted me to be.  Example:  “Now, that’s a good point, and I would normally agree with you.  However, let’s take a look at the special features that make this car just a bit special and worth every dime we’re asking for it.”

Or:  “Now, that trade-in is a fine car, one of the best in its class.  My problem is that, with gas prices at an all-time high, I’m having a hard time selling these big old beauties these days.  You might want to consider selling it yourself, cutting out the middleman.  Or, I tell you what – It is in good shape for its age.  I can go up another $200.  It may not seem like much, but, well, selling it online yourself might be more trouble than you want to invest.  If you can take the additional $200, we have a deal … and you don’t have to worry about the hassle of advertising it, dealing with no-shows and strangers coming out for test drives, worrying if the check will clear, that sort of thing.  Deal?

The bottom line: Be tactful and respectful … always.  Address or ignore prospects’ objections as the situation requires.  However, never get into an argument with them.

Work hard. Make money.  Have fun.  And play nice … always.  – JRI 

The Freestyle Entrepreneur – winner of the 2010 Top 35 Entrepreneur Blog awards from OnLine MBA.

John Ingrisano

The Freestyle Entrepreneur    

209  Church Street

Algoma, WI 54201

(920) 559-3722

www.TheFreestyleEntreprenuer.com

Want more biz tips and support?  Visit www.TheFreestyleEntrepreneur.com.

“I CAN’T AFFORD IT!” BALONEY! »

By

John R. Ingrisano

The Freestyle Entrepreneur

Here’s a hot-flash business rule:  People find a way to afford what they want.  Don’t think so?  Well, think again.

 That’s why you can walk into young couple’s flea-bag apartment and see  second-hand furniture, empty frig, no frills; they’re barely getting by, making minimum credit card payments.

 BUT, son of a gun, there’s that wide-screen TV on the cinder-block bookcase, along with more electronic games and gizmos than you can shake a stick at.  Oh, and don’t forget the full-feature iPad with apps galore, with payments that probably run a hundred bucks or so a month.

 My point:  It’s not your business to decide what your prospects can afford.  If you have a quality product in which you believe and that you believe will make their lives better, present it, stressing the important features and benefits.  If they buy it, it’s their business.

 However, if they object that “We love it, but we just can’t afford it,”       you’ve done a lousy job of presenting your product or service.  Remember, the vast majority of sales are based on emotion and desire.  So, if the prospect said “Thanks but no thanks,” you left something unsaid, left some need uncovered, left some question unanswered.

 Maybe you either presented something they simply did not want … or you did a lousy job of presenting it.  You didn’t find their hot button or ignite the spark that made them WANT what you have. 

 So, rather than just nodding your head when you get that I-can’t-afford-it excuse and walk away, figure out where you failed to connect, where you did not uncover the need in a way that made them want to own it … or absolutely have to have it.

 So, work hard, make money, have fun … and do some serious soul searching if you keep running into the “I can’t afford it” objection.

=================== 

Need help with your sales?  Check out my book, The Back to Basics Book of Selling.  Also, if you want to book training for your sales people or  a speaker for your next big meeting, call (920) 559-3722, or email me at john@thefreestyleentrepreneur.com.

HEY, COACH! GET ME IN THE GAME! »

by John Ingrisano

The Freestyle Entrepreneur

Looking for a way to accelerate your business success?   Find someone who is already in the winner’s circle and hire that person to be your coach.

I’ve been in training, marketing and sales for four decades.  However, I still bump into things I do not know.  Rather than try to bull my way through, I’ve learned that the best way to master new skills often is to recruit people who already know the lay of the land and the best ways to be successful.

I invite them to get together and ask for advice.  If possible, I ask if I can pick their brains in exchange for the price of a lunch together.  Most people are more than willing (if not downright flattered) to share ideas.

For significant career changes, consider hiring a coach … yes, paying good money to learn from someone who is a super success and can teach you a lot.   

For example, I recently took on a new client that provides specialized training in public seminar settings.  There is also a fair amount of resource promotion as part of each program.  I found that I was knocking ‘em dead in the seminar, but just not getting the hang of the resource presentations.  Everything I tried just did not work.    

So, I asked around and found another trainer who is very good at this aspect of the seminars.  Though he’s almost half my age, he knows his stuff.  (Old dogs should never be afraid to learn from young pups.)  After just one 90-minute coaching session (during which I had a handful of “aha!” moments), I made some minor adjustments in my presentation and – bang! – things began turning around the very next day.  I could have spent months trying to figure out the solution on my own. 

Recommendation:  If you are starting a new business, entering a new phase in an existing business, stuck on some persistent weak area, tackling a new market, or just tired of loping along experiencing so-so success across the board, track down someone who is already hitting home runs in that area.  Think big; find the best.

Again, do not be afraid to pay for quality coaching.  Just as you invest in new equipment to stay competitive, invest in quality knowledge and skills information.  It can be a darn good investment.

Example:  Imagine if you are currently earning $50,000 as a sales representative or financial advisor.  Not bad, but not all that great, either.  What if you hire as a coach, a heavy hitter, someone who is currently earning $150,000 in the same field?  (Remember, learn from the best.)  Now let’s say you pay $5,000 for six months of coaching and, as a result, double your business to $100,000 in sales within a year.  Do that and you have one heck of a return on investment.  It is money well spent.    

Plus, you could achieve that success in weeks or months, while trying to learn those same skills on your own, through trial and error, could take years … or forever.

So, work hard, make money, have fun … and consider finding a coach to fast-track your success.  – JRI

THE PROFESSION OF SELLING »

[The following is an excerpt from John Ingrisano’s The Back to Basics Book of Selling: A Guide to a Successful Sales Career.] 

Some folks actually believe that selling is rather like the old misconception about teaching: people go into it because they are not capable of doing anything else.

Wrong on both counts. Still, some people actually believe it. What’s worse, a number of salespeople — who should know better — believe it too. They look at selling as a job that has been forced upon them by circumstances. They act as if they are ashamed to call on other people to talk about their products or services. They mumble something about being “sales associates,” “prod­uct representatives,” or “consulting advisors” when asked what they do for a living.

They do not trust their products, they do not believe in their profession, they do not have faith in themselves. And it shows. To them, selling is nothing more than a job, a job of which they are not very proud and, as a result, a job at which they are not very good.

But selling is — and should be perceived as — a profession, an honorable, respectable profession. A profession is a career to which the individual devotes his or her entire life. The pro­fessional never stops learning, never stops growing, never stops striving to improve skills and talents. Professionals are not just doctors or lawyers. In fact, there are many doctors and lawyers around who are far from being professionals.

On the other hand, there are a number of salespeople who are sterling examples of the word “professionalism.” A degree does not make someone a professional. Professionalism is the result of an attitude, a state of mind, a sense of pride in what you do, and a determination to do it well.

If you have doubts whether selling is going to be your profession or just a job, you should reevaluate your own atti­tude toward your work. Because selling will be whatever you make it: just a job … or a professional career. 

As for the misguided impressions a vocal minority harbor about salespeople, the best defense is a thick skin toward their ignorance … and a lot of patience. You have probably en­countered some of these people already: those folks who, when they hear about your decision to enter sales, react as if you are carrying a highly contagious social disease. They turn cool, quickly withdraw their hand, and make it quite clear that, whatever it is you sell, they are quite sure they already have enough. They may even express sympathy be­cause you were unable to get a “real” job. They do not know or care that your decision to enter sales was a positive one, motivated by the opportunity to earn a good income while providing a valuable service.

Fortunately, though vocal, these people are few. They speak from a position of ignorance. They see salespeople as a stereotype: glad-handing, slightly shifty, gaudily dressed hawkers of overpriced merchandise, like the Herb Tarlick of the 1970s TV show, WKRP.

Forget about these stereotypes. Yes, there are huckster salespeople, just as there are dishonest doctors and profane ministers. However, on the whole, most people are honest and hardworking. Those who enjoy hanging negative stereotype labels on others are not worth fighting. Why? For one thing, you are not going to be able to fight this prejudice, primarily because the vocal minority who hold such views enjoy their ignorance. Trying to change their way of thinking would be like trying to per­suade a man to come down off a compost pile when the fact of the matter is that he rather enjoys sitting there.

Besides, you have better things to do than worry about the opinions of the vocal minority. However, for both your own sanity and for the information of anyone else, be aware of a few facts about the profession of selling and the dedicated individuals known as sales professionals.  (We’ll look more closely at these facts in future postings, starting with the fact that EVERYONE sells something.)

In the meantime, good luck and good selling.  It’s a great profession and you can be as good as you choose to be.  So, work hard, make money, have fun!

BOOST YOUR VERBAL SKILLS TO BOOST SALES »

by John Ingrisano

The Freestyle Entrepreneur 

Knowledge and skill-building are crucial to continued business success.  We constantly watch our markets, look for ways to cut expenses, boost profits, better manage our inventory and personnel.  Plus, we update our websites, adjust our marketing materials, and look for new ways to do business.      

What about our verbal skills?  When was the last time you considered that your ability to express yourself to a prospect, a customer, a lender or a supplier can make a sale, get you a lower interest rate or a better deal on inventory?  It’s true. 

So, why not improve your verbal communication skills?  It’s money in the bank.  That’s right.  Imagine building and finessing your ability to connect with your customers and business associates:  improving and refining your body language, your vocal tone and pitch, even your presentation organization and structure.  Sounds great, but how?

Well, here is where I am going to make a blatant pitch for a great organization.  It’s nonprofit and, no, I do not get a commission for every new member I round up.  This commercial is a labor of love. 

It’s called Toastmasters International.  Started in 1924, Toastmasters currently has more than 260,000 members around the world.  Each Toastmasters meeting is a learn-by-doing workshop in which participants have the opportunity to hone their speaking and leadership skills in a friendly (aka: safe) atmosphere. 

I’ve been a member of my local club (the Green Bay Yackers) for about two years.  During that time, even though I walked in thinking I was hot stuff, I have since learned more about how to communicate effectively than I ever imagined.  Based on the people I’ve met and what I’ve learned, I’ve become a big believer in this organization, which has challenged me to keep growing and improving my verbal skills.

One of the best aspects of each meeting is that presentations are constructively evaluated.  I personally love the instant feedback that, on one hand, boosts my self-assurance and, on the other, points out areas in need of improvement.  (For me, that would be eliminating the “ahs” and “ums” and slowing down my pace.)

Just as important, for those of us with a competitive spirit, there are district, regional, state and international competitions.  You can take Toastmasters as far as you desire. 

Finally, for me, even though I’m an old dog and no longer susceptible to flattery, glitter and gee-gaws, I must confess that I absolutely love displaying the five first-place trophies I have on my shelf.  (Okay, I am still susceptible.  Sue me!) 

Where can you find a Toastmasters group near you?  Look in the phone book or go to www.toastmasters.org.  Oh, and BTW, you are encouraged to visit meetings to check out what goes on … no pressure or obligation to join.  Do it!

The bottom line:  As business people, our manner, style and verbal skills are just as important as our product and business knowledge.  Hone and build those skills and I guarantee (well, almost guarantee) that your customer base, your relationship-building skills, and your sales figures will climb steadily.         

So, work hard. Make money.  Have fun.  And take your verbal skills to the next level!  – JRI

ASK FOR THE MONEY »

By John Ingrisano

The Freestyle Entrepreneur

Too often, in business, we’re afraid to ask for the money.  Here are two examples – one how to do it right; the other how to waste time and money doing it wrong.

Example # 1:  I’ve had the same veterinarian for my dogs for about 10 years.  In the past, she’d do the annual checkup, give the shots and hand me the bill.  I never carried my checkbook with me, but instead took the bill home and paid it faithfully within two weeks.  Though I always paid, it was just a habit, this delaying payment. 

I suspect some other of her customers were not always so diligent, requiring her to bill them several times.  I also suspect she had a growing list of uncollected collectibles.  In this respect, I estimate that she may have spent an hour or two a month re-billing customers, time she could have used to see more patients or spend with her family.

Well, about a year ago, she handed me the bill after giving Rocky the Boxer his annual toe-to-tail once-over.  I began to pocket it, when she (very likely screwing her courage to the sticking place, as Shakespeare would say) told me that payment was due at the time of service.  I hemmed and hawed and said my checkbook was at home.  She reminded me that she took credit cards.

I admit to being a tad flummoxed at this change in our routine.  Still, I had no grounds for my annoyance.  I handed her my credit card and, while signing the slip, found myself recognizing that she had made a good business policy decision in requesting/insisting on payment at the time of service.  It helps that she’s an awfully good vet.  She has a good, gentle manner with my dog and takes the time to explain things to me.

I was in last week, finished up the appointment and had my credit card out before she even wrote up the bill.  She gets her money promptly, cuts down on invoicing time and money, and still has my respect and loyalty as a customer.

Example # 2:  I needed a glazier at my place a few months ago to replace a window pane.  (I hate it when I leave my keys in the house and have to break into my own place!)  He was great, driving almost 20 miles each way to get there the same day and fixing the window within 30 minutes.  I whipped out my checkbook, ready to pay on the spot, but he declined to accept my money.  Instead, he billed me several days later, and I paid the invoice within two weeks. 

Now, I’m not criticizing this fellow’s work or his integrity.  On the contrary, he is top quality.  However, I suspect he knew what the cost would be by the time he finished replacing the glass and could have either taken five minutes to write up an invoice on the spot or even just said, “Oh, that’ll be X dollars.  Cash or a check works.”

However, he must have devoted at least 15 minutes to writing up and mailing me his invoice, for a job that was very small, a very inefficient and unnecessary process. 

My point:  Be bold.  Ask for payment at the time of service.  Stop invoicing customers/clients for fixed-cost services or items or when the cost is easily calculated.  If necessary, write up a price sheet of your standard prices and circle the appropriate one at the time of sale/service. 

Then take that extra hour or two a week and go do something special with your spouse, children or just a good friend. 

So, work hard, make money, have fun, and be sure to ask for the money!

John Ingrisano
The Freestyle Entrepreneur    
209 Church Street
Algoma, WI 54201
(920) 559-3722
www.TheFreestyleEntreprenuer.com

Review your Day’s LBs & NTs »

by

John R. Ingrisano

The Freestyle Entrepreneur 

Fred Pryor/Career Track, the seminar people, have become one of my key clients.  I get to travel around the country and do business workshops.  Pretty neat.  Check them out at www.pryor.com

One of their policies is to encourage their contractors to analyze the events of the day, to create a list of LBs (what you “liked best” about your last presentation) and NTs (things you would do differently “next time”).  I’m finding that it is valuable process for learning, growing and improving.  I’m also finding that writing down my LBs and NTs can be surprising, as I realize things I might have overlooked.

Just as important, it is also a positive experience.  NTs aren’t about things you’ve screwed up (SUs?), but activities/actions that could/should be done differently/better the next time.

So work hard, make money, have fun, and track what you’re doing right, as well as where you can improve.    

John Ingrisano

The Freestyle Entrepreneur    

209 Church Street

Algoma, WI 54201

(920) 559-3722

www.TheFreestyleEntreprenuer.com

Want more biz tips and support?  Visit www.TheFreestyleEntrepreneur.com.

The Freestyle Entrepreneur – winner of the 2010 Top 35 Entrepreneur Blog awards from OnLine MBA.

GET IT RIGHT … NOT JUST FAST »

by John Ingrisano

The Freestyle Entrepreneur

John Newton became captain of his own ship at age 25.  He was offered the job a year earlier, but begged off, asking instead to be made first mate, so he could gain more experience.  In the end, it made him a better leader. 

(For those of you who do not know Newton, he was born in 1725 in England and is best known for writing one of the most popular hymns of all time, “Amazing Grace.”  Though he eventually became the most respected preacher of his day, and helped England become the first country to ban the infamous African slave trade, he was also in his youth a notorious drunk, womanizer and slave trader … proof that there is hope for all of us.  For more on this and other redemption subjects, I invite you to visit my spiritual blog, www.dailyconnections.net.)

My point:  For most go-getters, it is the years between age 30 and 40 when our careers take off like rockets, when we are likely to see our incomes double and triple and rise to the vice president spot, and do lunch with the CEO.  After that, we either build more sanely on what we have achieved or burn out like a Charlie Sheen, unable to handle our success. 

How to avoid becoming a wildly talented flash in the pan, quick to rise and quick to plummet back to earth:  Do like John Newton.  (No, not his profligate ways!)  Go slowly, if possible.  Take your time to learn, find good mentors, build true, lasting talent, not just flashy charm and gutsy moves. 

I knew a man who was a director of labor relations at Firestone Tires back in the 1960s.  He loved his job.  When he was offered the position of vice president of labor relations, he turned it down — three times – even though it would have meant an almost doubling of his salary.  Eventually, he accepted the position, but only when he felt he was ready.  (When he retired 20 years later, he was one of the most respected men both in the company and with the unions, who saw him as a formidable but fair opponent.)

Take your time.  Build your skills.  That corner office will be there when you are ready.  But do not be in a rush.  Get it right … not just fast.     

Work hard, make money, have fun … and don’t be in such a super rush to get to the top.  It will still be there when you do arrive.  There is plenty of room at the top.   

The Freestyle Entrepreneur – winner of the 2010 Top 35 Entrepreneur Blog awards from OnLine MBA.

John Ingrisano

The Freestyle Entrepreneur    

209 Church Street

Algoma, WI 54201

(920) 559-3722

www.TheFreestyleEntreprenuer.com

Want more biz tips and support?  Visit www.TheFreestyleEntrepreneur.com.

Ad Libbing is for Amateurs »

by

John Ingrisano

The Freestyle Entrepreneur

Whether you’re just chatting about your business to a stranger in an elevator or summarizing your company’s key features and benefits to a make-your-day prospect, do not just wing it!  Ad libbing is for amateurs. 

Instead, actually write down and learn these following sales tools:

1.  Your company’s elevator talk.  That’s a 30- to 60-second power-punch explanation of who you and are what your business does.  It needs to summarize — in an interesting, powerful way — why a prospect should do business with you.  Put it down on paper.  Learn it.  Then rehearse it no fewer than ten times, until you “own” it and can give it in your sleep.  No, it won’t always be presented exactly the same way each time, and that’s the point.  You can adapt and adjust it depending on who you are talking to and how long you have. 

Important:  Watch your prospect’s eyes and listen for signs of other interest.  If you get the brush off, that’s it, no problem … and talk no more about your business.  However, if you see and hear signs of interest, be prepared to tell more.

2.  Your introduction to a prospect.  This is your story — who you are, what you do, your best-of-show unique competitive reasons why this person should give you his/her business.  Make it between three and five minutes in length and, if possible, include questions so the prospect gets a chance to talk as well.  (Otherwise, there’s a good chance he/she will begin to zone out. 

Once again, write it out and learn it and then rehearse it until it sounds natural.  This is important, because the biggest turn-off for prospects is hearing what sounds like a canned talk.  Instead, make it conversational. 

3.  Your close.  Remember, products and services do not sell themselves.  And even after you’ve trotted out all the great features and benefits, you MUST BE SURE TO ASK FOR THE SALE!   Again, make it smooth,  seamless, conversational.  For example:  “Well, that’s about it.  From what you’ve shared with me, I would say that this product/service meets your needs.  So, let’s get the paperwork wrapped up.  Let me confirm the spelling of your last name….” 

The bottom line:  Know what you will say, focusing on the key points you need to make, at every point of contact with every prospect.  Write out your key features and benefits, along with your close.  And then work on them until they feel and sound natural. 

Work hard.  Make money.  Have fun.  And be prepared to tell your story at the punch of an elevator button.

INVEST IN YOURSELF! »

by John Ingrisano

The Freestyle Entrepreneur

Are we there yet?  That’s the kids’ mantra from the backseat.  It can also be our whine when we wonder about when it’s ever going to get easier in our business.  Well, when it comes to you and your business success,  the answer should be:  Not yet! 

The fact is, in this uber-competitive, ever-changing world, we have to keep on growing, keep on learning, keep on investing in ourselves and finding new ways to stay ahead of the pack.  Life is challenging.  Embrace it.    

What can/should you do?  For starters, how about just 30 minutes each day of reading, listening to biz or motivational CDs while in your car; or maybe investing in a seminar, workshop or trade show several times a year?

Imagine investing 30 minutes a day, five days a week in staying sharp, keeping motivated, and growing.  That averages out to 2.5 hours a week, 10 hours a month, about 120 hours a year. 

That’s like three full weeks each year devoted exclusively to continuing education.  What will that do for you?  It will make you sharper and more knowledgeable than 95% of your competitors, and, yes, knowledge is power.  Just as important, it will help keep you motivated.  While many of the also-rans will get wooly-headed and dull-witted, you will keep loping along, staying strong in your game, becoming – and being known for – being one of the best.

So, invest in yourself.  And when you begin to wonder, “Are we there yet?” just smile, shrug and keep on going.  It’s a long trip, but it can also be a fun one.

Work hard. Make money.  Have fun.  And keep on investing in yourself!   – JRI

BUSINESS LOYALTY »

[The following is a guest column written by Dr. Robert C. Snyder, musician, businessman and keen-eyed observer of life.  Enjoy. JRI] 

In the late 1940s I became aware of customer loyalty. I noticed that Millard, my dad, always bought his gas at the same Texaco station near our house in Topeka, Kansas. Millard never let the gas gauge fall below a certain point because he liked to keep track of mileage for every tank full. He kept a record book of mileages, and to make it easy, he’d always buy ten gallons of gas. That way, he could divide the 235 miles per tank in his head by just moving the decimal point one position to the left, giving him 23.5 MPG. Even now, 60 years later, I can still see that Texaco station in my visual memory. When it came time for me to buy tires for my 1937 Ford I bought them at dad’s favorite station. You can see how customer loyalty rubs off.

When I worked at Earl Jennings’ Sinclair station in the middle fifties, we had a customer, Mr. Blue, whom I will say was totally loyal. He came in one day and told Earl that he had bad news. “Earl, you have water in your gasoline.” Earl jumped up from his chair, pulled out his testing rod, put some water detecting chemicals on the end of it, poked it down into the fill tube, and reported that, “Yes, Jim, you’re right. How did you find out?” “Earl, it cost me $100 to have my fuel system in my Chevy cleaned out. The mechanic said it was filled with water.” “Jim, I want to pay for your repairs.” “No Earl, I’ve been your customer for 32 years and I don’t blame you. However, you should probably fix those holding tanks.”

Later in my college years, I worked a few months in Blaylock’s Drugstore on Tenth Street in Topeka. Customers would come in and say things like: “I’d like a bottle of Acetylsalicylic acid”. Of course they were teasing but were surprised when I knew they wanted aspirin. Of course customer loyalty worked both ways. When I thought, “Wouldn’t it be fun to change the pills in these diet bottles with the pills in the laxative bottle?” I thought of doing that little trick decades before somebody actually tried it. Remember that upset? It’s the reason we have unopenable bottles with unremovable seals under the caps.

When I operated my first mower shop in Charleston, Illinois in 1980, I bought my parts from Don Hutton’s Auto Parts store. The small engine parts salesman, Don Whitacre, visited me in my shop annually to inventory my parts. Mr. Hutton, who was too macho to wear a seat belt, collided head on with another ½ ton van and regrettably died, I grieved for a long time. He was such a good man and generous. I had a wonderful deep sense of customer loyalty with him and Mr. Whitacre.

When I had my little Jack’s Fixit Shop in Chandler, Texas, the shop was right next door to Jerry Kidd’s Convenience store and gas station. Jerry was in our church choir where I sang tenor, played flute, and pipe organ. I discussed customer loyalty one afternoon with Jerry and complained that I could find little or no reason to build customer loyalty with his station, because it seemed like every time I went there to pay for my purchase, there stood an unfamiliar clerk. “How do you expect me to grow my loyalty when I never see the same face twice in a month?” “Yes, Jack, (I was called Jack in Chandler.) we’re going to have a meeting about that problem tomorrow.” As far as I know, the meeting participants never solved the problem.

Now, these many years later, I have a loyal relationship with Mike Symes’ BP station in Hudson, Wisconsin. I always buy fuel at Mike’s, have him install riding mower tires and tubes, refer lots of my customers to him because he sells non-ethanol fuel, and generally have a good time teasing him. One time, as I fueled my Ford Escape, the back of the car started to shudder. When I looked over, there was Mike shaking the car from side to side……. Relentless teenager.

Mike refers two or three mower repair customers to me each week. The customer loyalty program works both ways for us.

Finally, I went to visit my small engine parts distributor when I first started repairing machines in Hudson. By chance, a young man named Justin met me at the front desk. He obviously was new to the job, didn’t know much about parts or how to look them up. So, I pledged to always call upon him for part ordering and technical assistance. Now, about three years later, he’ll even go into the warehouse and count the teeth on a gear if I ask. Now that’s an undeniable fruit of customer loyalty.

Robert February 2011

PS. Some of my repair customers have such strong loyalty to me, they’ve brought over a dozen jobs to me since 2006!

HOW TO BEAT BUSINESS BURNOUT »

HOW TO BEAT BUSINESS BURNOUT

The Freestyle Entrepreneur is pleased to announce the first program in the TFE Business Presentation Series:  How to Beat Burnout!  This program, presented by entrepreneur John Ingrisano, can be tailored for your individual for business, entrepreneur, executive or inventor group.

The premise:  Burnout and boredom are among the top reasons small business owners pack it in and either sell out or shut down.  According to market re­search, these two factors account for 50 percent of all busi­ness sales.  Pretty much every business owner hits the wall, crashes and burns.  The problem is especially rough in today’s shaky economy.  

It makes sense.  Successful men and women tend to be creative problem solvers.  They are also easily bored.  Plus, they don’t just commit them­selves to their companies … they become consumed by the quest.  Many put in long hours.  They neglect their health, families and outside activities.  Some end up physically ill, emotionally depressed, divorced.  Ironically, a major cause of burnout is suc­cess, ach­ieving a single goal long sought.  That’s why many owners get rest­less, discontented, bored.  

The program:  This entertaining and informative 45-minute presentation, with Power Point and handouts, has universal appeal for most business owners.  A lively mixture of statistics and John Ingrisano’s personal experiences (“I know I’m approaching burnout when I begin fantasizing about either Las Vegas and a showgirl or applying for an hourly job behind the counter of my local convenience store.”), you will be amused and unsettled by this humorous approach to a very serious subject.  Most of all, however, you will leave with some practical ideas about how to beat burnout. 

Who should find out more: If you are an administrator for a Chamber of Commerce, SCORE chapter, Economic Development Corporation, or work with any group that brings together self-employeds and SBOs, you owe it to your group to get more information 

Presentation covers:

  • The price of commitment to success and the risk and causes of burnout. 
  • The telltale signs of impending burnout.
  • Ten practical, hands-on tips to re-ignite that fire in your belly and side-step burnout. 

 What attendees can expect to take away from this presentation: Business owners and executives will obtain tools to help them recognize the telltale signs of burnout and be able to take steps to avoid this destructive malaise that plagues too many men and women in business. 

For more information, call (920) 559-3722, or email him at john@thefreestyleentrepreneur.com

John R. Ingrisano isn’t a psychiatrist or a Harvard MBA.  He’s a mud-blood-and-guts business owner – 25 years worth – who admits that he has hit burnout several times, and the price of struggling back and re-igniting the fire in his belly was daunting.  That’s why he made a study of burnout, as he has with other areas of interest to small business owners. 

He is the author of articles on selling, money management and inspiration.  He is also a regular speaker for business meetings, annual conventions, sales seminars, charitable fund-raising events, business and religious groups, and the author of several books, including The Back to Basics Book of Selling and The Back to Basics Book of Money.

 

The Freestyle Entrepreneur — winner of the 2010 Top 35 Entrepreneur Blog awards from OnLine MBA.

John Ingrisano

The Freestyle Entrepreneur    

209 Church Street

Algoma, WI 54201

(920) 559-3722

www.TheFreestyleEntreprenuer.com

ALL IN … OR GET OUT! »

by John Ingrisano

The Freestyle Entrepreneur

Are you in or are you out?  Too many business owners these days (and, yes, their employees and sales people, too) are only half-committed.  They’re burned out, fed up, on the verge of going under.

They coast, going through the motions of their responsibilities, both dreaming about last weekend’s football game or watching the clock, counting the days ’til their mindless vacation to Disney World.  They’re everywhere but present and focusing on their jobs, their careers, their lives.

The solution:  Be there!  Put the clock away.  Focus on your responsibilities today … and on DOING them to the very best of your ability.  Be surprised when five o’clock Friday arrives.  (Oh, and then plunge head first into your weekend, too!)

Work hard. Make money.  Have fun.  And be there!   — JRI 

“BE THERE — The glue in our humanity is in being fully
present for one another.  Being there is also a great
way to practice wholeheartedness and fight burnout,
for it is those halfhearted tasks you perform while
juggling other things that wear you out.”

                             — Stephen C. Lundin (Fish! Tales)

DON’T CLENCH AT THE CLOSE »

 I had the opportunity to observe a sales presentation last week.  She was good: knowledgeable, enthusiastic, relaxed and persuasive.  However, when she got to the close, her entire tone changed.  I could hear it and I could feel it.  It was an awkward and obvious transition that screamed:  “Okay, I’m done with my talk.  Now, it’s time for you to buy.” 

She’s not alone.  Many sales professionals are reticent about asking for the order.  Perhaps they do not actually believe in their product or deep down inside, they believe that the prospect will not buy.  Whatever the reason, when they make the transition from product features and benefits to “The Close,” it is so obvious, clunky and clumsy that, yes, they seriously risk losing the sale.

The goal should be to make that transition so smooth and seamless that it appears as nothing more than the obvious, logical next step in the presentation, which it is. 

If you’re an awkward closer, here are a few tips that may help:

  1. Let prospects know in advance that if what you’re about to discuss appeals to them, they will have the opportunity to purchase it.  That way, the request for the order comes as no surprise to either of you.
  2. Bring out the application/order form at the beginning of your presentation.  If you pull it out of your briefcase when you are ready to close, that can set off alarms with prospects.  It is also awkward and clumsy.  Instead, get it out on the table early on.
  3. Don’t shift your voice tone.  Instead, keep it upbeat, positive, steady:  “I think you’ll agree that this is quite a product, and it definitely meets your needs.  We can get the order process rolling today.  All I need is some information.”
  4. Or use implied consent:  “I believe this product meets your needs.  Would you like to start with X amount or lock in some savings by going with XX?  Your call.” 
  5. Then begin filling out that application/order form that has been at your elbow for the last fifteen minutes, starting with easy questions;  “Okay, now, let’s confirm your street address?”

The bottom line:  Don’t hesitate or change your tone when you make the transition to the close.  Keep it smooth and upbeat.

Good luck and good selling. 

John Ingrisano
The Freestyle Entrepreneur    
209 Church Street
Algoma, WI 54201
(920) 559-3722
www.TheFreestyleEntreprenuer.com

 

Want more biz tips and support?  Visit www.TheFreestyleEntrepreneur.com.

The Freestyle Entrepreneur – winner of the 2010 Top 35 Entrepreneur Blog awards from OnLine MBA.

Special Offer: Rent John R. Ingrisano!

Need a motivational speaker to fire up your hourly folks or remind your sales force that what they do is super important? 

Let John Ingrisano, author of the Back to Basics Book of Selling,  give a boost to your bottom line with a get-results workshop, seminar, or motivational presentation.

For details, call 920-559-3722 or email john@thefreestyleentrepreneur.com    

John R. Ingrisano
209 Church Street
Algoma, WI 54201
john@TheFreestyleEntrepreneur.com
 

 
 

 

 

www.TheFreestyleEntrepreneur.com
Copyright © 2010 John R. Ingrisano

SCHEDULE VACATION DAYS FIRST »

I recently spoke with a biz owner who, convinced the place would go to pieces without her constant presence, hasn’t had a full day off in 12 years.  If that sounds too familiar for comfort, here are two suggestions to get you a few days off for fun and recreation in 2011.

First, in advance, decide the days you want off and write them on your calendar or in your appointment book.  Then schedule work around those days.

Let’s say you want ten days off in 2011, not necessarily all in one clump.    If you never take a day off, start by scheduling one day a month for the next ten months.  A modest enough goal.  Write them down.  Make sure the staff and crew see them on the scheduling board.  Oh, and then plan to do something exciting or interesting.  Most of all, get away from the business for that whole day … and stay away.

Now, it’s easy for me because I’m a one-man band.  However, even if you run a 24/7 restaurant, for example, you can do it.  How?  See my second point, right below. 

Second, either find someone who can run the shop while you are out or close the doors and just shut down (not necessarily advisable in these tough times if you’re in retail or a service biz). 

Sure, you may think that no one can do it, that no one can become manager for a day.  However, if you think so, that’s a matter of (A) too big an ego on your part; (B) a fear of delegating, or losing control; or (C) that you haven’t trained somebody YET to step in and handle things while you’re out of the office.  If the reason is A or B, get counseling.  If it is C, that means you’d better start grooming someone as one of your first goals for 2011.  

Remember, I’m not talking about a two-week stint in the Mediterranean.  Just a day or two off now and then.  So, decide how many days you want off in 2011, pull out your calendar and start blocking them out, and give your crew plenty of time to get ready for not having you around all the time.  I suspect you’ll be pleasantly surprised how well your employees rise to the occasion.  You might even find a manager-in-the-making just waiting for an opportunity.  Bonus:  You’ll get to be a human being (rather than a crazed business owner) for at least a few days in 2011.

So, work hard.  Make money.  Have fun.  And, yes, plan to take a few days off next year.

John Ingrisano
209 Church Street
Algoma, WI 54201
(920) 559-3722

Want more biz tips and support?  Visit www.TheFreestyleEntrepreneur.com.

I need to make money and you need to make sales.  So, buy a copy (or a dozen or two) of…

The Back to Basics Book of Selling: A Guide to a Successful Sales Career

25th Anniversary Edition

Learn the art, science and skill of becoming a better sales professional.  Then spend a lifetime reaping the financial, professional, and personal rewards.

To order your signed copy, send a check for $19.94  (we’ll throw in S & H for free) to…

John R. Ingrisano
209 Church Street
Algoma, WI 54201
john@TheFreestyleEntrepreneur.com
 

Or click on the title above to order (an unsigned copy) directly online.   

 
 

DON’T CUT CORNERS ON MARKETING »

by John Ingrisano

The Freestyle Entrepreneur

Smart marketing:  I just did a neat interview with one of the owners of Nutorious, a specialty nut company.  (Look for the amazing story of this zero-to-60-in-five-years Wisconsin start-up in the January 2011 issue of NEW North B2B Magazine.)  They sell high-end snack nut products, and have walked away with top awards in the snack food industry. 

One of the things that caught my attention during the interview was that they usually include samples with every order … often including a baker’s dozen in every dozen ordered.  Makes sense for them, of course, because the ultimate sales factor for food vendors is the taste.  Still, it’s a cost … or more like an investment.

Dumb marketing:  When I was a neophyte, I worked for a small marketing firm that was struggling.  I sat in on a meeting where one of the partners announced we had no money for a needed marketing trip.  As new as I was to business, I knew it was time to begin dusting off my resume.  And, yes, they were out of business within two months.  They had tried to save money by NOT doing the one thing that could have made them money!

My point:  Sure, these are tough times, but it makes no sense to cut back on the very activities that will build sales. 

Some people joke about skipping lunch and, instead, walking through Sam’s Club and scarfing up the samples.  Joke all you want; it works!  It’s the same with online sites.  Many give away a low-level product, and then earn big bucks by inviting visitors to go to the next level.  It works.        

Or then there are the business owners who make a point of putting in some face time with their clients at least once a year, but are flipping the coin over whether or not they can afford it, especially if those clients are scattered from New York to Tampa to Kansas City.  The fact is that maybe they can’t afford NOT to make the trip.  I believe it is crucial to remind clients/customers just how much they need and love you.  (They forget so easily.)  Staying in touch keeps you in mind when they need something you have to offer.

Spend your marketing bucks wisely.  Review results.  However, do not stop doing the very things that will help build up your business.  Keep on marketing!

Work hard.  Make money.  Have fun.  And maintain quality marketing activity. 

 

The Freestyle Entrepreneur – winner of the 2010 Top 35 Entrepreneur Blog awards from OnLine MBA.

John Ingrisano

The Freestyle Entrepreneur    

209  Church Street

Algoma, WI 54201

(920) 559-3722

www.TheFreestyleEntreprenuer.com

“TEN SURE-FIRED, GUARANTEED RULES FOR SALES SUCCESS!”

An Educational and Motivational Presentation by John Ingrisano   

Tired of losing high-potential sales people to attrition?  “Representatives don’t fail,” says Ingrisano, author of Back to Basics Book of Selling, with 35 years of experience training and motivating sales people. “They simply quit before their succeed.” 

This educational and motivational presentation will help keep new sales people on track and re-light the fire under your veteran producers.

Booking now for 2011-12 conventions and training camps and save.

Want more topics?  Click on motivational speaker to learn about other programs. 

Or contact John directly by calling 920-559-3722; or email him at  john@thefreestyleentrepreneur.com      

John R. Ingrisano
Algoma, WI 54201
john@TheFreestyleEntrepreneur.com

 
 

SATURDAY BUSINESS: EMPLOYEE OF THE DAY »

PATTY @ PAPA MURPHY’S MADE MY DAY

It was 11:45 AM on a knock-about Saturday.  I’d just finished doing some clean-up at our church and was ready to pick up two pizzas that I could pop into the oven later today for dinner for friends before heading off to hear/see Messiah at Green Bay’s Weidner Center. 

I walked into Papa Murphy’s in Sturgeon Bay and placed my order.  I was first to order, followed rapidly by three other groups.  Behind the counter was one person (on alone until noon, I learned) who was taking orders, making pizzas, doing whatever takes place in the back. 

This employee, Patty was her name, I learned, was pleasant, efficient, never lost her cool as the orders began to back up.  Best of all, as each new customer entered, she cheerfully greeted/acknowledged him/her and asked to please wait a few minutes.  (That’s a big one to me: I hate being ignored by a too-busy waitress/clerk/etc.  Just an acknowledgement that I am present and a request to wait … and I surely will wait.) 

As she made my order, I joked with her that she was manager today, as well as assistant manager and gopher. She smiled and, while working like a Tasmanian Devil, said that relief would show up at noon. 

Patty was terrific – cordial, efficient, hard working.  Even though several customers had to wait to place their order, her acknowledgement of them and pleasant demeanor kept them waiting without complaint.        

My point:  Simply to acknowledge a go-the-extra-mile employee and remind all business owners (A) that employees like Patty are out there and (B) when you find one, cherish and reward him or her.  That person is invaluable to the success of your business. 

Work hard. Make money.  Take care of your primo employees!!!!!

The Freestyle Entrepreneur – winner of the 2010 Top 35 Entrepreneur Blog awards from OnLine MBA.

John Ingrisano
The Freestyle Entrepreneur    
209  Church Street
Algoma, WI 54201
(920) 559-3722

THE 10,000 HOUR RULE »

Some people ask, “Why do sales people fail?”  With 35 years in this field as a sales professional and trainer of sales representatives, I recognize that sales people do NOT fail:  They simply quit before they become successful.  That’s why I encourage sales newbies to commit to the “10,000 Hour Rule.” 

Research has shown that 10,000 hours is the threshold, the “magic” point at which a person goes from being okay to being a super success. Nothing to do with talent; just persistence. 

A good example comes from the field of  music.  Studies have shown that music teachers, on average, practiced and studied an average of 4,000 hours before achieving their goal.  Moderately successful performers and bands – the ones who achieve regional fame, perhaps make a so-so living playing at the state fair each year, or become lifelong opening acts – have put in, on average, 7,000 hours total before achieving their level of success.  Super stars, however – Cher, James Taylor, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, etc. – generally work and practice and keep on growing for no less than 10,000 hours.  That’s the difference. 

That can take anywhere from three years for those who are focused and borderline maniacal to five years for people who have a family and a life.

The Beatles were a great example of that.  In the late 1950s, the Beatles were a so-so, knock about band in England, going nowhere.  A fellow from Germany showed up looking for British bands to play in the seedy strip joints of Hamburg.  He didn’t care if they were good, just cheap and willing to work long hours. 

The Beatles decided to accept the offer.  Over the course of three years, they went to Hamburg and played … and played.  During some of their gigs, they performed ten hours a day, seven days a week.  As one of their biographers pointed out, when they left England the first time, they were lousy, a third-rate band.  However, when they returned from Hamburg after their final contract, they were THE BEATLES. 

It wasn’t a matter of talent.  Yes, they were talented, but there are an awful lot of talented failures in this world.  It was their determination to work and work and work.  As a result, by the time they became overnight successes in the early 1960s, they had already put in well over 10,000 hours, more than most groups play during the entire course of their careers. 

The point:  If you’re in sales (or any field, for that matter), I don’t care how smart or talented you are.  You could be the biggest dullard in the world.  However, if you commit to working and learning and practicing, to trying and trying (and yes, failing), for 10,000 hours, you will become ranked among the best in your field.  Go for it! 

So, work hard, and keep working hard … and you’ll make it!  Period! 

The Freestyle Entrepreneur – winner of the 2010 Top 35 Entrepreneur Blog awards from OnLine MBA.

John Ingrisano
The Freestyle Entrepreneur    
204 Lakeview Drive
Algoma, WI 54201
(920) 559-3722
www.TheFreestyleEntreprenuer.com

 

Want more biz tips and support?  Visit www.TheFreestyleEntrepreneur.com.

“TEN SURE-FIRED, GUARANTEED RULES FOR SALES SUCCESS!”

An Educational and Motivational Presentation by John Ingrisano   

Tired of losing high-potential sales people to attrition?  “Representatives don’t fail,” says Ingrisano, author of Back to Basics Book of Selling, with 35 years of experience training and motivating sales people. “They simply quit before their succeed.” 

This educational and motivational presentation will help keep new sales people on track and re-light the fire under your veteran producers.

Booking now for 2011 conventions and training camps and save.

Want more topics?  Click on motivational speaker to learn about other programs. 

Or contact John directly by calling 920-559-3722; or email him at  john@thefreestyleentrepreneur.com      

John R. Ingrisano
Algoma, WI 54201
john@TheFreestyleEntrepreneur.com
 

 
 

Deliver Quality With A Touch Of Fantasy »

[The following is a guest piece by consultant Paul Rudo at rudoconsulting@gmail.com.   Enjoy. — JRI]

In order to be successful in any business, you must first have a high-quality product or service. But how do you define quality?

It’s simply the degree to which you meet customer needs, and the dollar-for-dollar value that you deliver. But the problem with “quality” is that only your customer can set the criteria that define it. As a marketer, you have very little say in the matter.

The customer will say “I want a faster, lighter widget,” and all of your competitors will begin announcing that they’ve discovered the “Fastest, Lightest Widget On The Market.

Announcing the quality of your product is really no way to market your offering. It just sets you up as another commodity provider. The quality of your offering should just be assumed.

Your customer already has an expectation of what they want from you. And if you don’t meet that expectation, you won’t succeed. So don’t even bother talking about it.

So if I don’t sell based on quality, what do I promote?

When people buy things, they usually do so with double-intentions.

First, they have an irrational, emotional need that they want to fill. And once they’ve spent their money, they justify their actions with rational quality-based arguments.

This is the essence of consumerism in a nutshell.

  • Make-up companies know that young women are insecure about their looks, so they use anorexic models and digitally altered photographs to set up a standard of beauty which is impossible to attain. And then, they link their product to it.
  • In their advertising, Apple portrays their customers as creative, artistic trend-setters. And the people who buy their product want to align themselves with that lifestyle. Almost as if a computer could make them seem more interesting to others.
  • One of my clients is a <a href= “http://ontariocleaning.com”>cleaning company in Toronto</a>. They understand that corporate customers are secretly terrified of having their cleaning person steal from the office. So their interactions are heavily focused on reinforcing trust, security and reputability.
  • Record labels know that poor urban youth crave money, cars, jewellery and women, so they portray rap artists as the sort of people who consistently have easy access to those things (although it’s almost never true).
  • Beer companies know that men want to be desired by women. So beer commercials usually take place at cool parties where the drinkers are seen having lots of fun, surrounded by beautiful women.
  • Fashion and jewellery designers know that rich people crave exclusivity and “authenticity” (whatever that means).  So they make their products very expensive and difficult to buy. That’s why some of the best luxury products require you to sit on a waiting list for months, or even years.

How can you associate a fantasy with your brand? What sort of emotions are your customers looking to feel when they hire you or buy from you?

  • Love
  • Acceptance
  • Danger
  • Lost
  • Belonging
  • Hope
  • Safety
  • Power
  • Protection

For example: Let’s assume that you’re selling a time management application, and most of you buyers are career-oriented males between 20 and 30 years old. These people clearly want to be more productive at work so that they can get noticed by the boss and promoted at work.

It’s not about saving time. It’s about social status.

How could you use your advertising to build a fantasy around this?

Figure out what your customers want to feel, and then see how you can associate your brand with that image as a means of differentiating yourself. If you can plant a “gut feeling” in your client, it sets you apart in a very positive way and allows you to charge a higher price.

About The Author:

Paul Rudo is an independent marketing consultant and blogger. He’s currently working with http://ontariocleaning.com to help with their online marketing efforts.  He can be contacted at rudoconsulting@gmail.com.