Productive talent is the most vital asset a company can acquire but the methods of how to retain and cultivate this talent is subject to the experiences offered by the company.  Great bosses are already on the ball when it comes to promoting a healthy culture in their companies.  The commonality for employers to provide perks, amenities, and flexible work arrangements are becoming a standard practice.  To attract an unbeatable, hardworking team dedicated to the company’s mission and vision, employers must think outside the box.

Employers ignoring their employees’ need for work life balance and amenities forge the possibility of losing their best talent to competitors, thus operating with a mediocre workforce while competitors are operating with a superior one.  Common perks which are high in demand are on-location fitness activities. Not only do these activities curb stress, tension, and disease but they are enjoyable! For many with rigorous schedules, it is the only way a daily workout out is possible. This gesture also shows an employer cares about their employees. 

Of all the types of fitness activities implemented, Yoga and Meditation seem to exercise the greatest promise toward measurable reductions of stress, fatigue, and illness.  A workplace study conducted by the APA found “mindfulness and yoga interventions demonstrated marginal improvements in breathing rate, and significant improvements in heart rhythm coherence, a measure of autonomic balance.”

From blood flow and energy to detoxifying the organs and relieving stress, steady breathing is vital to the health of the mind and body. Heart rhythm reflects on the health of the cardiovascular system and blood pressure.  Autonomic balance is when both branches of the nervous system are in a state of homeostasis which is the best way for the body to operate – all of which can be drastically affected by elevated stress levels.  This type of work pressure also hinders a talented person’s capability to produce their best work.  Fatigued, chronically ill, depressed, or anxious staffs reinforce a somber company culture where co-worker and customer relationships become thwarted.

Yoga and meditation provide a solution to this fast-paced life. The holistic solution helps with healing by acting as a powerful tool that kindles self-discipline, positivity, and tolerance.

Take care of your talent and they will take care of you. Any age, body type, or experience level, Yoga is a practice that invites people to practice just as they are. This may very well be one of the reasons Yoga and Mediation have become so popular. If you are looking for ideas to help bring your staff back to life, unaware, maybe set up a class. Do not be afraid to think outside the box. One thing is for sure, when employers show they care, employees show gratitude and appreciation with loyalty, productivity, and giving their best. Namaste.

Our guest blogger, Rochelle White, is an experienced 200 Hour RYT Yoga teacher and business owner with the ability to analyze students’ needs, distill and teach challenging poses to dynamic audiences with different experience levels while maintaining a flourishing business for students of all ages to enjoy. Yoga services are mobile at www.fitnessyogaworks.com.

The Analytics Revolution

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

“Old School” analytic companies that depends on legacy systems have resisted change – from reporting to hardware to software – but they are slowly realizing that they must embrace change in order to survive and continue to give their clients the results that they need in order to better run their businesses! 

Tools become obsolete as quickly as they are created.  Tools such as Hadoop and Yellowfin are newer than SAS and SQL for processing large quantities of data but will also be out of date or need updating within a brief period of time to keep up with demand.  Why the need for updated analytic tools?

  1. There is more data to massage.  In the age of social media, every text message, every email and every social media entry can now be analyzed.  These unstructured data reveals a lot about both prospects for new targeted campaigns, as well as help you sell better products to your current clientele.
  2. There are more types of data to analyze.  There is software to analyze social media content and so that creates a need for filtering engines to extract insights from this mass of information.   Government data can be purchased to overlay on private company data. The advent of CRM tools such as Salesforce allows smaller businesses to amass and massage their own data.
  3. All industries crave analytics.  Every industry now utilizes analytics for key decisionmaking – healthcare, entertainment, government, financial services and media create and utilize huge quantities of data to set annual strategy for sales as well as to create predictive and revenue models for new product offerings.
  4. Privacy is of less concern.  Millennials are used to sharing all their personal information on Facebook and Twitter in real time so they do not have as much concern for privacy.  The older generation also realizes they have a choice and can opt out of specific offerings or block marketing.  There are still huge privacy concerns in markets such as healthcare.
  5. Emerging markets have new data.  Due to technology, we know more about new markets than before.  The unbanked and underserved populations are getting tools to make their lives easier.  With those tools come another previously untapped area that is now a functional part of society and creates a new market for products such as prepaid cards and money transfers.

The company that does not embrace analytics will be left behind.  STEM programs (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) are now an embedded curriculum in most schools and are now producing graduates who are capable of developing new analytic models to navigate neural networks.

This week, I attended a Sales Jag that was given by the Inc. Business Owners Council (http://www.inc.com/iboc), a peer-to-peer network of top entrepreneurs created by Inc. Magazine.  A Sales Jag is an in-depth dissecting of a particular topic, and this topic was Sales.  Everyone brought their Head of Sales with them so we could double up on takeaways to take back to our teams.

Experts who participated were Keith Ferrazzi (author of Never Eat Alone and Who’s Got Your Back), Karen Jackson of Jackson Solutions LLC (who sold her business and is now a revenue doctor), Chuck Polin of The Training Resource Group, Inc., and Andy Gole, Founder and President of Bombadil, LLC.  These experts gave some fantastic tips but I’m only sharing the top five takeaways with you – I’ll leave the rest for another time!

  1. Your job is to be a career coach to the person to whom you are selling.  That potential client is only interested in their own well-being and success; not in your solution.  So, your job is to show them how using your solution will get them to the next level.
  2. If you don’t have an energized sales employee, we are burning $100 bills.  A low energy person will not be enthusiastic about selling.  There will be few cold calls and even fewer visits to the prospect.  You will be paying this salesperson to do basically nothing for which they were hired; therefore, you are throwing away money.
  3. A People Plan is different from your pipeline.  A People Plan is a developed strategy to reach out and create a long lasting relationship with very specific current clients and prospects.  You are not giving them a sales pitch but these are people who are instrumental to your sales career and can position you for even larger sales.  Be genuine about wanting to know them and not just trying to get a sale.
  4. Salespeople are heroes.  Celebrate your salespeople because they are the backbone and engine of your business.  Your entire organization functions off their efforts.  So, take care of them and make sure they know they are appreciated.
  5. 30% of a sales manager’s role is coaching.  A big part of a sales manager’s job is to ensure that the sales team gets coached and trained to do their jobs.  The old edict of a salesperson should sell does not necessarily apply to the person heading up your sales area because a part of their job is to work with the rest of the team to get the tools they need to do their jobs well.

It’s never repetitive to constantly hear these tips as we fall out of practice with them.  Share these tips with your team and review them as a part of your regular sales meeting to see what impact it will have on your organization.

Spring Into Action

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

 Springflowers3

With every changing season comes the opportunity to take a new approach – towards your life, and especially towards your small business. Seize the opportunity this Spring to take your small business to the next level. Remember the old but embrace the new, and encourage your team to thrive. Take these suggestions into account and consider how to make the most out of this season.

  • Conduct an Evaluation – Is your organization where you want it to be? Is there anything that you feel needs revising or improvements? This season is the perfect time to evaluate and determine what needs work and where your team’s efforts should be focused. Take the time to look into every facet of your business and determine if you are meeting all of your goals. If not, map out a strategy or plan in order to take the necessary steps towards accomplishing these goals.
  • Introduce Something New – If your organization has been working on an idea or product, it is the perfect time to launch it. After a rough winter, everyone’s perspective becomes a bit brighter as the atmosphere begins to change, so go ahead and take that leap. It is also the perfect opportunity to improve on already existing products and services.
  • Spruce Things Up – As the sun shines brighter so should your business. Now is the best time to complete those repairs you’ve been holding off during the winter. Do some cleaning and organizing; make your space looks exactly how you want it, inside and out. Check up on your organization’s website and make adjustments as needed. We all know that first impressions carry a lot of weight and perception is everything.
  • Desire to Inspire – A business is only as good as the team within it. Work to keep the environment positive and always seek to inspire your employees to reach new heights. Encourage them to do their best every day and your organization is sure to see great results. A genuinely positive attitude will not only affect your employees, but also your customers. It’s infectious!

Spring into action and keep these suggestions in mind as you venture into the new season.  Constructing a plan for some good old spring cleaning is sure to create the type of environment that will attract customers while keeping your team motivated to succeed.

Jennie Moussa is a marketing intern with Consultants 2 Go.  She is a student at NJIT and will be graduating in the Winter 2014.

FIVE EASY SALES TIPS

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

A successful salesperson must differentiate him or herself. There are thousands of competitors all trying to get business from the same consumers. When all else fails, these five tips should prove helpful:

Maintain Confidence.  Confidence speaks. Confidence sells and if you don’t make the sale, keep a high level of confidence for the next sale.  Sometimes you are not selling the right product to the right customer; use that loss in sales to better target the customer as there are customers who require your services or product. Not only will you find a customer with a need, but one who appreciates your service.

Relax.  Be professional, but be yourself. A salesperson’s advantage is the relationship building skill. Your relaxed demeanor and attitude counts towards building long lasting relationships. Share topics outside of the product/service dynamic to form a connection. No one wants a high-pressure salesperson. Customers have taken time out of their day to hear your sales pitch or to inquire about your product. Stay relaxed and relate to their unique situation of why they want your product or service.

Do Your Research.  Every top salesperson will tell you that cold calls seldom work and is not the best use of your time. In-depth research allows you to personalize your pitch to match the needs of the customer or client. Demonstrating deep knowledge of the customer’s need will build trust, which is one of the most important ingredients of sales.

Practice Your Delivery.  Practice makes perfect. Practicing your delivery will insure that you have the proper tone and timing when making your sales pitch. Ask an unbiased person if you can practice delivering your message to them so they can give you constructive feedback.  Also, feel free to record your pitch and listen to it to identify key areas of improvement.

Know Your Competition.  What makes your customer purchase from the competitor?  Utilize your competitors’ disadvantages to your advantage.  Ahead of time, compare and contrast your product vs. the competition so you can have clear answers to your customer’s rebuttals. Highlight the benefits of your product/service above competitors and demonstrate how it meet their needs.

Regular usage of the above tips will make them a part of your sales routine and will no longer feel like a pitch – it will just become how you do business.

Patrick Coughlin is a marketing intern with Consultants 2 Go.

It’s time to add another overwhelming task to your already stressful life – a job interview.  Why are you nervous?  You are nervous because doing well in the process is all up to you. Interviewing is likened to a sport or skill where practice makes perfect. Being mindful of these five tips for preparing for a job interview will help make the process seamless.

  1. Practice Posture. Today, we look down while texting, slouch on the couch when watching TV, and hump over a computer all day in the work place.  Our postures have become increasingly poor. Instead of signing up for a Yoga class, just take a few minutes to sit straight up, with your shoulders back. Good posture will improve your interviewing skills. Learning to keep good posture in tandem with maintaining eye contact shows the signs of a confident person and a confident future employee.
  1. Practice Questions. Know what you want to ask. An interview is two people engaging in a conversation so be prepared to ask questions. Practice how you word and say your questions. You do not want a conceited or sarcastic tone. When you think you have plenty of questions, come up with more. Again practice how you say these questions, as you want to demonstrate genuine interest and sincerity.
  1. Practice Your Answers. Not only should you practice your questions, but also you should practice your answers. Utilize your resources and Google “Commonly Asked Job Interview Questions” to get an idea of what an interviewer might ask you. Read each link, as while questions will overlap, each link will have different questions to offer. With practice, aim for a nonchalant delivery. You should be prepared to answer as many questions as possible, but be sincere when you don’t know an answer – don’t try to fake it.
  1. Practice Punctuality. Be early or on time, but never late. Check out the location of your interview well ahead of time. Figure out traffic patterns (there’s an app for it), where to park and the floor in the building. The more details you know about where you’re going the better you will be when you travel there. Then schedule your day so that you have plenty of time to get to your interview destination.
  1. Keep An Interview Dossier. My mother taught me to keep a dossier of the things that were essential to my interviews – questions, answers, and location. This dossier should be used as a study guide minutes before a test. You have done the studying; now, you’re just skimming everything over before the big event.  I still use this tip.

Practicing the above aspects of the job interview will reduce your stress. It’s intimidating meeting new people, especially those who have expectations after hiring you. Like anything else in life, practice makes perfect and preparing for a job interview is not an exception.

Patrick Coughlin is a marketing intern with Consultants 2 Go.

 

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Daylight Savings Time

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

DST1 Twice per year, the United States either Spring ahead, or Fall back in certain time zones.  At exactly 2:00am on a Sunday morning, the clock skips ahead one hour to 3:00am.  This is known as Daylight Savings Time (DST).  At some point, we are either ahead of some countries or on the same time with them.  Either way, here are things we hate or love about Daylight Savings Time.

  • We need more light – It’s hard to be energetic when the sun comes up at 9am and goes down at 4pm.  We go to work and come home in the dark.  Sunlight motivates us to do more, and more is better! Right?
  • Energy conservation – We are supposed to use less electricity because we get more natural sunlight – but we don’t.  The lights still stay on.
  • Confusion - we get more light but we are more confused.
    • What is the time of our favorite TV shows?  Not only do I get confused as to the time of shows, I now get confused as to the day!
    • Do animals get confused – Are human beings the only ones who are on daylight savings time?  How do animals know to jump an hour ahead or behind?  Are your children’s biological clocks aware that they should go to bed an hour later?
    • Are we 3 hours ahead of the West Coast or 2 hours?  Now I have to do calculations as to what time it is in other zones.  I need to have a clock for all time zones.
    • Less sleep for the sleep-deprived – statistics say most people in this country suffer from sleep deprivation.  If that is so, why take away an extra hour of sleep?  I’m not sleeping right now because I want to witness the change in time.
    • Are you early or late?  There are people who start their jobs at 2:00am.  In this case, are they considered late for their jobs and get docked, or do they get paid for only 7 hours instead of 8, or for 8 hours when they’ve only worked 7?

These are the things I think about at 1:59am.  Overall, we should just put everyone in the world on the same time and if it happens to be 6pm and light or 10am and dark, we would just deal with it.  I am sure there is a business owner out there who benefits from the change in time (golf courses, beaches, etc.) but they have to deal with the fall back in time which means a loss in revenues. 

Happy dreams…or good morning!  How do you feel about daylight savings time?

Creating Your Oscar-nominated Business

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

Do you run your business like you want to get an Oscar nomination and win?  Do you go all out in order to win over the competition?  Honestly, I don’t always do that, but watching the Oscars made me think about it.  Every year, there are a slew of awards shows and the Oscars is the culmination of a fantastic movie season.  (I’ve always wondered why the culmination comes in March and not December, but that’s their season!)  What is your season?  Do you have a seasonal business, or one that has a build towards a climactic event? The Oscars is a great event to mimic. 

Here’s what top movie houses do to make sure that they are seen at their major event and you can do the same:

Marketing, Marketing, Marketing.  Not every type of marketing costs money.  We, as small business owners, always think about marketing and money in the same sentence; however, with all the social media channels today, you can certainly be very cost effective with your marketing.

  • Talk showsHelp a Reporter Out (HARO) literally gives you free requests for marketing opportunities including talk shows.  Sign up for it.
  • Billboards – you see the latest movie advertised on every billboard.  Check out the cost of putting your business on smaller, neighborhood billboards – they don’t have to be in Times Square.  You will still get eyeballs from bus stop signage or a car driving around town with your business’ name.
  • Theatre Screens – I saw ads for the Oscars all the time when I was watching a movie – advertise your business on movie screens in your local or regional market.
  • Charity event appearances – Celebrities with movies are at every charity event in town…and you can be the celebrity for your business.
  • Social media – use it to announce business events to friends and clients and encourage their participation.  Additionally, announce events or key milestones for other businesses as well.
  • Have Pre-Showings (trade shows) – every movie has a trailer.  Participate in trade shows and consider it your trailer.  It’s your chance to give a peak potential clients at your product or service.

Practice Your Presentation.  Ellen DeGeneres is great at impromptu events but we are not all that blessed.  When you have to present to a client, practice.  It’s OK to use notes (cue cards) but don’t read verbatim.  And even with practice, know that mistakes can happen.  Even though John Travolta went to rehearsal and practiced, he still mispronounced Idina Menzel’s name – which also became a big social media event.

Say Thank You – every winner thanked the little people who helped them to get to that point.  We need to thank our team for helping us be and stay successful.  We need to show appreciation of our clients and supporters as well.

Scheduling.  The Oscars hold their event when nothing else is happening in town and that is THE event on everyone’s calendar.  You can do the same with your scheduling.

Celebrate!  There are pre and post-Oscars parties.  They celebrate the ending of a grueling year.  Do you celebrate your experiences with your team?  Start planning a summer BBQ or Christmas party now to show appreciation of their efforts.

Success doesn’t happen overnight and sometimes we have to create our own success.  And know that even when we put in all the work, we might not win “Business of the Year,” but we’ve moved our business along the continuum that will get us there. If we want our businesses to be in the “Best xxx” category, we must create opportunities to make it so.

 

Motivation is the Key to Success

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

As an employee, many of us thrive off motivation and as a leader, it is important to be that source of motivation and encouragement.  We all have days where things may not be going according to plan, but with an extra push or a few encouraging words, we can see the finish line.  In an article written by Bill Murphy Jr. for www.inc.com, he highlights nine important phrases leaders should reiterate to their team on a regular basis.  Below are a few of these phrases that, as a leader, you should try to communicate on a regular basis to help motivate and lead your team. 

  1. Here is the plan.  A leader is supposed to lead.  People will offer great suggestions, especially if you’re saying and doing everything else on this list, but you need to be able to make decisions and stand behind them.  Your team needs to know where you’re trying to take them, and how.  Also, don’t forget the crucial corollary: You need to be able to say “no,” especially to moves that would be inconsistent with your plan.
  2. I trust you.  If you can’t trust the people on your team, then they shouldn’t be on your team.  You need to trust their integrity, their judgment, their confidence and their passion – and you need to ensure that they understand how much you depend on them.
  3. You can count on me.  The flip side of that last point is true as well.  If your team can’t trust you, they shouldn’t do you the great honor of letting you lead them.  So tell them you’ve got their back, and then work like hell to fulfill the promises you make.
  4. What do you need?  This is crucial for two reasons.  First, people need to know that you care about them on personal and professional levels, and that you want them to succeed.  Second, if you’ve put together a great plan, you need to leverage every person’s abilities to the maximum extent possible.  If they are not able to give it their all, you want to know why.
  5. Let’s celebrate!  Don’t create a culture in which the only reward for great work is more work. Instead, make it a practice to celebrate your wins, both large and small.  This can mean big parties and bonuses, but it can be just as important to call people out for great work and congratulate them for their milestones – both professional and personal.

It is important to recognize the work your team is doing and to also be there to lend a hand if you see someone struggling.  It may not always be obvious, but a little motivation can go a long way.

To read Bill’s complete article, click here

Cold Calling 101

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

The thought of making a cold call terrifies many people.  The prospect of contacting a potential client without prior interaction can be intimidating.  I would bet if you surveyed a dozen sales executives and asked them what they dread the most about their jobs, many would say having to make cold calls.  No one likes the thought of an executive hanging up on them or the verbal abuse given if you’ve reached someone on a bad day.  However, if you pitch your business effectively, these cold calls may turn into some of your best customers.  The last thing you want is to be unprepared when you get that sought-after executive on the phone.  Below are a few tips to help you turn your cold calls into sales.

  1. Narrow your search.  Identify your ideal customers.  Research companies in your targeted geographic area and decide which of those companies could benefit the most from your services.  Utilize LinkedIn to generate leads and make sure you have done your research about the companies. 
  2. Practice makes perfect.  Before you make your first call, create a script and practice it until you feel confident.  Think about how you are going to approach the call, describe what you are calling about, and how you will respond to their rebuttals.  Make sure your pitch is fluid and conversational.  You want to avoid sounding like you are reading directly from the script.
  3. Handling the gatekeepers.  When calling large companies, you will most likely reach a gatekeeper – secretary, associate, or executive assistant – who will screen the call.  Don’t try to immediately bypass that individual.  Rather, take the time to explain your call’s objective and why it is important.  In the end, that person will decide whether your message gets passed through. 
  4. Keep your goals in mind.  In advance, be sure to outline your goals.  Are you looking to sell your product or services while on the call?  Schedule a meeting?  Know what you are looking to accomplish before you make the call.
  5. Rebuttals.  Oftentimes the decision maker at a large company is busy and will try to get you off the phone as quickly as possible.  A common answer might be, “I’m too busy,” or “We already have a vendor.”  If you get this response, politely ask when would be a good time to call back or if they would be willing to give you their email address so you can send them some additional information about your company and services.

Most likely it is going to take a number of calls before you successfully close a sale.  The goal of your first call should not be to complete a sale in one shot, but rather try to establish a relationship and get a meeting on the calendar.  Be persistent and success will come.