Category Archives: Business

Entering New Markets – The Four Steps to Successfully Entering New Markets

Entering New Markets - The Four Steps to Successfully Entering New Markets

Even well managed, successful, companies can mess up in entering new markets. But there are four critical steps that any organization can take to make sure that it avoids these mistakes, and thereby succeeds in entering new markets. They are:

  • read websites and blogs about the market
  • talk to people who already know the market and its culture
  • go for a walk
  • prepare for the language barrier

Step 1 – Read websites and blogs about the market

Before doing business in any new market, read websites and blogs about that particular market. Fortunately, there are websites and blogs written about almost every market in the world, describing its history, culture, business customs, key players and local business politics.

Step 2 – Talk to people who already know the market and its culture

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Talk to people who already know the market and its culture before you try to enter it. Find people who have done business in-market, or who otherwise know the market. Have them tell you how business is done in-market, what traps to avoid, and how to be successful. Ask them to share with you the essential, but to them quite obvious, information that you need to know about doing business in-market. Armed with this kind of information, you will be in a much better position to succeed internationally, no matter which market you may happen to be in.

Step 3 – Go for a walk

When you travel to the markets that you plan to enter, go for a walk. Take a stroll or car drive around the neighborhood. If you can, mystery-shop your customers, and your competitors. If you keep your eyes and ears open you will be amazed at how much you can pick up from a simple short walk or drive.

To give just one obvious example, a few short walks in Tokyo taught me a great deal that I needed to know about everything from commuting habits and the local dress codes, to roofing structures and the local building codes.

Step 4 – Prepare for the language barrier

English varies significantly from country to country, and from market to market. (The same thing is true for Spanish, French, and any other widely used language.) Be prepared for those language differences. Learn the local version of the language, and learn the local market business jargon. It will show that you care about the local culture.

Putting the four steps into effect

Although people vary significantly around the world, I have found one thing never changes. That is, if you show people that you care enough about them to have learned their business customs and how they conduct business, then they are much more likely to trust you, and to want to develop a business relationship with you. No matter which market you are entering, in the end, that is always the key to business success in entering new markets.

How to Market Your Business in a Tough Market Using an Old Fashioned Tactic

How to Market Your Business in a Tough Market Using an Old Fashioned Tactic

How to Market Your Business in a Tough Market Using an Old Fashioned Tactic: Things are tough right now. People have cut back on frivolous spending and many businesses are hurting like never before. Large and small companies alike have sliced their advertising and marketing budgets drastically in an effort to stay afloat. But, as a small business, you simply MUST, MUST, MUST stay in front of customers to succeed. Here are tips to help you effectively use a low-cost, grassroots tactic to keep you in front of old customers and to get you in front of new customers in a tough market that won’t cost you a cent.

Ring, ring, ring! Remember that old tried and true telephone? Use it. Cold calling is a good way to touch clients without spending a cent. There are many schools of thought on cold calling, but I can say with certainty that it works in my business.

Honesty, most people DON’T like to cold call. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who enjoys it, but when your back is against the wall and you have to save your business, cold calling as a low cost marketing starting point is a no-brainer.

I used to be a telemarketer for a newspaper in New York City. We had to call people to introduce them to the new newspaper and to see if they had anything they wanted to promote for FREE in the classified section of paper. Even though we were giving away advertising for free (it really was!), it was tough. It was a New York City market, and I can tell you, some New Yorkers can be pretty brutal on the phone in the mornings. But the truth is, once I got through my tenth or eleventh call that first day, it really wasn’t so bad and I turned out to be one of the offices top producers.

Here are my personal rules of thumb in cold calling:

Know WHO you’re calling. Don’t just pick-up the phone book and start calling people, have a plan, know who you want to touch. For example, if your business is web design targeting small businesses without websites, find the Chamber of Commerce’s website for your county. Most of them have a public, online directory. Sift through the directory and contact those businesses who don’t have websites listed, or who have inactive websites. Not only do they need your web design service, but they are the type of business that realizes the value of spending money to grow their business (re: they have paid a membership to join the Chamber).

Know WHAT you want to get from your cold calling effort. For example, are you trying to setup a meeting? Are you touching base with old clients to remind them you’re out there? Are you trying to get someone to commit to buying something from you on that call? Are you following up on materials you’ve sent them? Or, are you trying to get your company name out there?

If you’re new to cold calling altogether, consider sending a brochure or post card to the prospect the week prior. Then, follow-up with them to make sure they received the mailer and see if they have any questions about it. This way, you have a purpose for calling them. If they have not received your mailer, you can verify their mailing address and tell them you will put another mailer in the mail immediately. If they have received it, use it as an opportunity to see if they need a meeting to discuss how your product or services can help their business. If they say no, ask them if you can keep them on your mailing list and see if they’d prefer to receive emails from you instead (this will cut down on your mailing costs). The main thing is you will have established a “dialogue” with a new prospect.

Here’s another tip to get you going with cold calling. If you’re really freaked out about getting on the phone to grow your business, call prospects in the middle of the night when you knooooooow no one will answer. (I suggest using this tactic ONLY when you know you’re calling companies with regular business hours. You don’t want to wake a business owner at 3:00 AM with a cold call!)

Here’s an example: My business is a property preservation type company that works primarily with realtors. If I wanted to use this middle-of-the-night tactic, I’d call the realtor’s main office and simply leave a voicemail message as such: “Hi, this is so-in-so from… (company name). I’m calling to let you know my company is here to service you. We handle everything from… (go into brief list of company’s services/products). You can reach us back at… (company’s phone number) or visit us online at…. (company’s website address). We look forward to hearing from you.”

Hang up, on to the next one. (Middle-of-the night calling is a breeze; but, again, be certain you’re calling companies with regular business hours.)

Another rule of thumb for me is to create a script. You may stray from your script a bit, but it will be kind of like Little Linus’ blanket (remember Charlie Brown’s friend) when you first start out. Have a prepared telephone script as your “security,” backup, and as a firm guideline to keep you on point with what you want to achieve through your cold calling efforts.

Another rule of thumb is to follow-up and follow-through. If you tell the prospect you will send them a new mailer, do it immediately. If you say you will follow-up with them again in a week to make sure they received it, do it. The formation of your business’ image in that prospects mind begins to form the moment they hear your voice.

Don’t forget to start your cold calling efforts with a number goal in mind. How many cold calls do you want to make per day? Do some research in your industry re: statistics to see how many calls you will need to make to be effective in your efforts. Couple your cold calling effort with something else, another form of touching potential clients.

In business, you need to reach prospects a certain number of times to penetrate their minds, win mind share, when it comes to your product or service. So make sure you’re not only cold calling, but staying in touch via email, setting up a low cost mailer program (postcards are great!), submitting press releases to local media about your company’s USP (Unique Selling Proposition — what sets you apart from the masses), putting out fliers and door hangers if appropriate for your business, cladding your car with magnetic car signs, etc.

WARNING: When a prospect asks you to remove them from your call list, do it immediately, and don’t call them again. There are strict DO NOT CALL laws. Visit this link for more info on DO NOT CALL guidelines: ftc.gov/donotcall and the Federal Trade Commission’s National Do Not Call Registry.

Remember, if your advertising budget is tight and you don’t know how to get the word out about your business, go back to basics: pick up the telephone and saturate your target area with your business’ name using old fashioned tried and true cold calling.

Good luck with your cold calling efforts!

Perseverance – Success is Closer Than You Think

Perseverance - Success is Closer Than You Think

Perseverance is not about skill or talent. It’s simply about finishing what you started. There are a lot of good ideas that just stall or sputter until all momentum or desire is lost. For even the most talented individual, challenges, obstacles and failures are commonplace. Only when a person matches talent with perseverance do opportunities become avenues of success.

Perseverance goes the extra mile. It is an attitude, a sense of accomplishment. We are all creatures of completion. We feel great when we get things done. So does every member of our team.

 

 As leaders, we must inspire accomplishments. This sometimes requires us to pull people along, other times it requires us to push people through barriers. Either way, perseverance is the key.

 

Be careful not to fall into the trap. Perseverance can attract roadblocks and excuses from those operating from fear, doubt or laziness. You have to sift through the reality from the excuses. Challenges are a normal part of doing business but they are only opportunities in disguise for those that choose to see them that way.

 

Remember perseverance means succeeding because you are determined to, not destined to.

 

Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States stated;

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

 

Conduct you and your team’s effort with an attitude of ‘Success is closer that you think!’ Far too often people give up when success is right within their grasp. Perseverance is about building the right attitude and the right habits to succeed. If you or your team just give up on a goal, how do you know you just won’t give up on the next goal? You build individual and team character through persistent determination.

Government Bids – The Benefits of Using a Service

Government Bids - The Benefits of Using a Service

The competitive world of government bids requires companies to always be on their toes, and ready at any moment to make a bid on a government contract. Why? Because sometimes you never know when an Invitation to Bid may arise, and you never know what the bidding window might be. If you’re not ready to submit your bid, it will probably go straight to your competition.

When the government wants to award work it releases an Invitation to Bid. Within this Invitation are the product or service descriptions, the conditions for purchase, the deadline for the bid, quality control issues, and the necessary certifications. You will have to submit your government bids in prescribed ways, and having to prepare all this information to answer those Invitations can be a wasteful and unproductive use of time.

Government bid services are the answer to this dilemma. Online technologies allow you to register on a site and receive current and updated information on numerous opportunities. You won’t have to waste your time searching for bids. They’ll be sent straight to you every time a new opportunity arises. You could literally receive information from thousands of different agencies looking for a company to do some work.

The environment for government bids is an extremely competitive one, and you have to stay a step or two ahead of your competition if you want to be the company that is awarded the work. Government contracts are not necessarily as lucrative as many people believe they are, but they are certainly a source of strong revenues, and the right government bid service can help you maintain a steady stream of revenue.

Government bid services can help you get access to nationwide offers, and qualify your bid leads so you don’t have to waste time sifting through contracts that don’t have anything to do with your industry. Government contracts are available for countless industries, and you need to get the ones that are specifically suited for your company.

These services can be tailored to your specific needs. If you aren’t interested in work outside of your state, you can filter your results to deliver those specific opportunities. Are you only interested in certain types of government opportunities? Again, just set the filters and your inbox will be full of only relevant and enticing offers.

Being the first with government bids isn’t always going to win you the contract. But it certainly doesn’t hurt either. When you’re always first with the news, you can stay on top of the market and become the company a government agency recognizes and turns to when they need more work done.

Often, business owners believe that most contracts are awarded to people with “inside connections.” But the fact of the matter is that there are many federal regulations that require the government to encourage a competitive bidding environment. What this means to you is that no matter how many “buddies” your competitors might have, if you present yourself well, and if you are alerted in time to the opportunity, you’ve got a great chance to secure that work for yourself. And soon, you’ll be the company with all the “buddies.” All you need is a good government bid service to help you get started.

Proof – Distribution of Business Cards Significantly Increases Name Recognition

Proof - Distribution of Business Cards Significantly Increases Name Recognition

The primary purpose of handing a person a business card is to increase the likelihood that he or she will remember you. We derive much of what we think we know about the usefulness of this practice from personal observation, personal experience and general knowledge. We believe business card distribution to be useful, but is it really? Is there proof that it works?

Well it appears there is proof. A study by a group of medical professionals in Austria compared the impact of physician’s name recognition on patients who were provided business cards with the name of their anesthesiologist, prior to surgery, to that of patients who were not provided a card. Participants were surveyed six weeks after their encounter. The study concluded that “handing a business card to the patient during the preoperative visit increased the postoperative recall of the anesthesiologist’s name from 11% to 51%”.

The study involving 441 subjects conducted by Doctors Jeske, Lederer, Lorenz et al demonstrated that “the use of a simple tool such as a business card can indeed produce a measurable positive change in physician recognition on the part of the patient.”

From this I believe we can extrapolate with confidence that giving a business card in the course of a business encounter is similarly likely to have a positive impact on the recipient remembering who you are. So if you are wondering whether it is worth the investment to hand a card to a new prospect or client consider that you may be increasing your name recognition by 40%. If you respond better to negative stimulus consider that not giving a  card may be reducing your chances of being remembered by 40%. It’s a fact.  

3 Sides of I Have Already Submitted My Resume

3 Sides of "I Have Already Submitted My Resume"

You are interviewing a candidate about a position for your client, and then you get to the part about interviewing. You ask,” Who have you submitted your resume too?” I have submitted it to A, B, and C companies.

There are 3 major problems with submitting your resume to a company or Job Board.

Number One: The Company loses if they haven’t seen the resume. Typically the recruiter is now out of the process. There is no need to continue the conversation, because it’s now in the clients resume “abyss.” Therefore the recruiter is not entitled to a fee. Some clients have honored our pointing out that the resume has been previously submitted, and had it not been for the recruiter bringing it to the attention of the client company this person was currently being overlooked. Other companies don’t want to know about a candidate that has been submitted, and they are not entertaining the candidate and you know they have a solid background for the position. There needs to be a policy in place to handle candidates that have submitted their resumes in the past, and they are currently not under consideration.

Number Two: The candidate loses out because the resume is lost, and they can’t get a shot at the position. I have had candidates actually say, “Well if you don’t want to represent me, then it’s your loss. The resume is probably being overlooked.” Both points are valid and have probably crossed the recruiters mind once or twice during the conversation.

Sending your resume to a several companies has both positive and negative effects. The positive is you can land a great position. The negatives are that you are not sure “where in cyberspace” your information is floating around.

I have had several potential candidates and I have asked them if they have previously submitted their resume to my client and they say no or the amnesia surfaces and they can’t remember so it slows the process down. A couple of weeks ago, I interview a candidate and cover submitting his resume. He said he had not submitted his resume, and I submit his credentials and my client calls me back almost immediately and tells me when they received it. It was just two days prior to our conversation. Coincidentally, he gets a couple of interviews. He didn’t get the job.

Now I look like I am not qualifying my candidates, and the candidate lessens his/her qualifications. Then the candidate calls back two or three weeks later and wants to know about other opportunities. What would you do?

Another problem occurs when someone sends the resume to a company. The candidate sends the resume in to a company in the past. As long as six months prior to the new position opening and the candidate has not been reactivated.

I was working on a search. The client needed someone with very specific technical skills. I submit a candidate that had submitted his resume six months prior to our conversation. Once I submitted it, I get a call from the client stating they already had the resume on file and I wouldn’t be entitled to a fee. After some negotiations and stressing the fact that we brought the candidate to attention of the candidate we should be entitled to a fee. What is the right thing to do?

Conversely, we hear the hiring manager knows this person. The candidate takes the initiative to call the person after we have revealed the have an opening for the same skill sets. Would they have reconnected if the recruiter had not spent time with the candidate?

Tips for using Job Boards:

Job boards like Monster can be very helpful, but from a recruiters stand point it’s like using the phone book. We have to search for the right person, then the screen the person. We will get hundreds of resumes sent to us. We will narrow down the number of viable resumes by background and skill sets required. We’ll call five people and amazing only 2 or 3 people will return the call.

o Monitor where you have sent your resume

o Don’t submit your resume for a position that you are not qualified for

o Remove your resume if you are no longer interested in a new opportunity

o Check your resume for spelling errors

o Make sure your contact information is current

o Be realistic about your requirements i.e. salary, relocation, commute

o Be aware that your current employer can find you on job boards like Monster

Several times we have qualified a candidate and submitted the resume only to find out it had already been submitted by someone else without their knowledge. There are recruiters who will submit a resume to “test the validity” of a search. Hopefully it wasn’t your resume.

Some companies ask recruiters not to use Monster. I feel that is like asking a recruiter not to use the telephone. Job Boards are like phone books. You need to “dig out” the proper person. We often hear, “If you use Monster we will know.” Good but we all have job boards to utilize and it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. It’s just another resource for finding the right person for the client.

Submitting your resume if like using the telephone. If someone answers and takes your call then congratulations. If you keep calling and no one answers or returns your calls then don’t be disappointed. This goes for both companies and potential candidates. Think carefully about “submitting you resume” and then make the best move for your career.

What Do You Do?

What Do You Do?

During a recent keynote speech at the Annenberg School For Communication at USC, I emphasized to a gathering of students and alumni that they should use great care when characterizing what they do for a living.

For instance, if you label yourself a writer, in some circumstances you’ll be lucky to be paid a dollar per word, upon publication. That’s not bad if your are syndicated widely. But if they are not, you’re seeking starvation wages.

I mentioned one of my most successful “writings” is a conversational path that I penned a number of years ago. By my admittedly imprecise metric, it has been “performed” in more than a billion phone conversations.

Consisting mainly of a scientifically crafted four lines of text, about fifty words, it, along with the training programs I have devised to explain and teach it, has produced seven figures of earnings for me, and perhaps one hundred times or a thousand times more value for my immediate clients.

Imitators have latched onto it and have prospered with it, so much that I’m sure you have heard a variation of my text several times from your bank, mobile phone service provider, and utility company, to name a few common users.

My point is that I didn’t craft this call path as a “writer.”

I composed it as a consultant, keenly interested in raising the productivity and contribution of customer service personnel. My four lines redesigned the work of tens of thousands of people, making their conversations about 25% shorter, and measurably better.

This writing creates profits. It cuts costs. It retains customers.

How you characterize yourself and your contribution will inform to a large extent what you are permitted to do, occupationally, and how much you are paid for it.

As I stated, I trained people to use my script. That makes me a “trainer,” correct?

But if I sell my services as a trainer I’ll make a fraction of that which is paid to “consultants.” And if I call myself a “teacher,” I’ll make less than a trainer commands.

A very helpful, seminal discussion on a related topic was launched many moons ago by one of my professors, revered management guru Peter F. Drucker. He asked executives to regularly consider and to reconsider this question:

“What business are you in?”

Railroads, according to Drucker, mischaracterized their mission as being in the rail business. That contributed to being eclipsed by trucking and by airlines.

Had they re-characterized themselves as being in the “transportation” business they might have adapted to changing technologies and booming demand.

“What do you do?” is a common ice-breaker that we ask and hear when we meet people. Your answer should be very carefully considered, because its impacts will do more than stimulate or impair that chat.

You could be unwittingly opening or narrowing your occupational and financial horizons.

Getting Referrals – Tips on Getting Referrals Effectively

Getting Referrals - Tips on Getting Referrals Effectively

In business, there are many times when we want some type of referral from someone.  Using the term referral broadly, business owners often need:

  • Referrals from current clients or customers to other customers
  • Vendor recommendations
  • Employee references
  • Joint venture possibilities
  • Introductions
  • Support in obtaining funding

Looking at this list, it is quite clear that referrals are critical to the success of most businesses.  However, so often, business owners don’t get the exact referral they are looking for.  The potential clients are really the wrong type, the vendor recommended doesn’t quite meet the need you are trying address, the employee prospect just doesn’t have the qualifications, or you just don’t get any referrals as all.

Is this just human nature or is there something you can do about it?

With an understanding that no one cares about your business more than you do, there are some very concrete steps you can take to increase the quantity and the effectiveness of the referrals you receive:

  • Provide adequate background – Don’t assume that anyone will remember the details of a conversation you have had with them regarding your business interest.  With all good intentions, people just forget sometimes if it is not something on which they work regularly.
  • Know what you are looking for – If you just tell people what you do and expect them to figure out, therefore, who the most appropriate people with whom to connect you, you are likely to get very few referrals.  Figuring out your target is part of the hard strategic work that is critical to the success of your business.  Don’t outsource it to the people from whom you are requesting help.  Figure it out in as much detail as possible and tell them.  If they have other ideas once you have done this (it is always easier to come up with ideas when you don’t start with a blank sheet), they will let you know.  It is then your responsibility to determine whether they should spend their time on the referral they have in mind.  
  • Make it easy for the referrer – Provide everything a person would need to give you a referral so they have as little work as possible to do.  This means that you should craft an email that can be forwarded with a brief not from the referrer.  (This means that you need to have your personal communication in a separate email.)  It should contain the relevant background information and all of the wording necessary to explain what you are looking for.  Bios should be formatted as attachments that are ready to send.  Job descriptions, business summaries, etc. should already be included so the referrer does not have to create any content for your business.  People will do the work if you make it easy for them.

     

  • Follow through on every referral – When someone provides a referral, it is imperative that you follow up on them if you want to continue to receive referrals from a particular source.  No one wants to feel as though they went out of their ways for nothing.

     

  • Express gratitude for the effort – Very closely aligned with the point above, in addition to contacting the person that was referred, be sure to thank the person doing the referring.  Even better is to let them know what happened.  If things worked out, let them know.  There was not a match, thank them anyway and mention how you benefited from the contact.  Perhaps you learned something, refined your thinking, were given another source.  Just let the person know that you valued them taking the time and that it had a positive impact of some sort on you.

More Tips on Being Successful With Mentoring

More Tips on Being Successful With Mentoring

If you’ve been in business or are starting one up, you’ve probably heard of mentoring. In fact, you may have been recommended a coach or specific program. There are some people who would take offense to such a recommendation, thinking that they don’t need a mentor. While this is true, bear in mind a mentor is not there to make you feel inadequate or stupid. A mentor exists to show you where and how things can be improved and how you can get off to a fast start in your business.

There are others that tend to think that by simply plunking the cash down for a mentoring program, that this will mean they will be rich by next week, without the work. This is also a false notion. The mentor is simply a guide and confidante, who is there to share his or her experience and create a specific plan of action for your business.

In order to be successful, you first should speak with your coach-to-be. After all, you want to make sure that this is someone with whom you can work and who truly understands your goals in business. If they seem disinterested, take a step back.

Make sure that you are available at the times you specify. Things do happen, but it is of no value to either of you if you cannot connect. Being communicative is key.

Ask questions. Even if they may appear silly to you, ask anyway. This is the best way to learn as you are getting the benefit of your mentor’s wisdom and experience and this will help you avoid some of the more common mistakes made in business.

Why a Mentor is More Important Than Ever

Why a Mentor is More Important Than Ever

Recently, I came across an article that stated in effect that mentoring is held in little regard in this day and age. Some of the reasons given were that people on the whole were more impatient, prone to wanting things RIGHT NOW as well as programs being expensive and not guaranteeing results. Technology has also given rise to the 2 minute email. That is, if you don’t respond within a couple of minutes, people get frustrated.

First off, when it comes to business there are VERY FEW true “instant cash” models. In fact, if you’re looking for instant cash and a program claims that it has this feature, run far away – FAST. Building a profitable and successful business does take a little time, and those that understand that will succeed faster than those looking for a quick fix.

As far as expensive goes, remember you are paying for the program to help you increase your profits. And it is a businesses write-off come tax time as well. The value is not in the upfront price but in the knowledge you gain that you can then use to grow your business. And no mentor worth his or her salt can ever guarantee you’ll make a specific amount as it is still up to you to apply the techniques, test them, and generally use the knowledge gained. And although technology has enable instant communication, in the case of email, it pays to be just a little patient, if you want a solid, actionable answer and not a quick, pat note.

Is mentoring still relevant in today’s world? Absolutely! With the amount of information overload out there, having a mentor in your corner ensures that you do the right things to grow your business, have a plan and stick to it.