Tag Archive | "business tips"

How to Get More Done in Less Time, and Free Up More Time for Selling

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How to Get More Done in Less Time, and Free Up More Time for Selling

Posted on 12 January 2017 by CRadmin2

By Art Sobczak

Most of us would agree that we could sell more if we just had more time, or, realistically, better control of our time. After all, you can’t manage time any more than you can manage the weather. You can only control what you do with that time while on the phone–and off–to squeeze more productivity from every day.

Here are strategies and specific tactics to rid yourself of the feeling that you’re running in place, and instead, spend more time doing what you do best: selling.

Lists, Lists, Lists…

Like anything else productive, you must start with a plan.

  1. Don’t make a “to do” list at the beginning of the day. Make a “To Get Done” list. View your plans as something you’ll accomplish, not as an activity you’ll try to perform.
  1. According to author and certified management consultant Jeff Davidson, after preparing your “to get done today,” list, categorize the tasks under “urgent” and “not-so-urgent. Then, as unexpected hassles blindside you during the day, start a second list, the stuff you’ll get to tomorrow (after all, it’s normally the little fires that ignite during the day that steal our attention from even the best-intentioned plans, and upon close analysis, much of it truly can wait). Then, right before leaving, transfer today’s unfinished business to tomorrow’s list so you’re back to just one list.
  1. Do one more list. Harold Taylor, editor of Time Management Report, suggests that a “not to do” list is just as important as the others. Since managing time is a “zero-sum” activity, every item of secondary importance that you pinch from your schedule frees up that much more time to be invested in revenue-generating activities. Therefore, refuse to let yourself get caught in time-wasting meetings or committees that aren’t mandatory, and delegate clerical work whenever possible. Also, put this on your “not to do” list: don’t chase prospects who won’t commit to anything.

Ideas From the Experts

I asked an expert on the subject, Jeffrey Mayer, author of the book “Time Management for Dummies,” for some quick tips professionals can use.

  • Review your “Master To Do” list throughout the day. This ensures you don’t spend time looking at one pile after another, trying to decide what to tackle next, getting depressed in the process, and then saying “screw it” and getting up for another cup of coffee or a chat with your neighbor.
  • Do the important stuff first. That’s what you’re paid for. Make the bigger calls, work on the larger proposals, the more difficult projects … all early before the inevitable little annoyances begin chipping away at you.
  • Don’t let the arrival of e-mail messages, voice mail messages, or postal mail interrupt you. You know that when you’re engrossed in something you’re on a roll. Discipline yourself. And when you do review these interruptions, sort out the items that need immediate attention and add them to your Master To Get Done List. The others can be left for later. Or trashed.

Dan Wallace wrote an article in Home Office Computing called “Do Twice as Much in Half the Time.” I’ve excerpted and adapted the ideas that apply here.

  • Ask for the first appointment of the day. Whether it be a phone appointment, or in person, it’s the one least likely to start late.
  • Update your contact-management program and keep it current. Place a printout of your accounts/prospects by the phone and make manual corrections on the paper when you receive mail back or otherwise hear someone has moved on. Then, when you’re on terminal hold with someone, update them in the computer.
  • Rearrange your work space. Use the “near-far” rule. Keep things you use frequently at arm’s length, and things you don’t use often far out of the way. If piles are cluttering your desk, invest in some shelves.
  • If you’re right handed, place your phone on your left and keep a pad and pencil nearby. If you’re a lefty, do the opposite.
  • When you have a backlog on your voice mail, write or type the messages, and delete them. You won’t waste time scrolling through them the next time you check your system.
  • Use the lunch hour to return calls that require only a short answer, or when you’re posing a simple question. Many people will be away from their desks and you’ll reach voice mail.
  • Discourage interruptions. If you have an office, stick a sign on the door that says, “Important sales calls in progress.” Or, hang one on your cubicle that reads, “Door closed.”

More Tips

Here are even more tips I’ve accumulated over the years to help you more effectively control your time, and squeeze more production out of every day.

  • Flush your account files. I’m astounded by the rubbish that resides in many reps’ follow-up files, some of it not even as valuable as garage sale leftovers. Read the skimpy account notes, and you see a long list of comments like, “Not ready now, check back in 6 weeks.” Simple math tells you that time you spend trying to push a two-ton rock up a hill would be better invested looking for someone you have a chance with. Set an objective for a decision of any type on your next contact with these people. Ask, “When do you feel you’ll move forward with a purchase?” You save time on your calls, and the results are more pleasing.
  • Know when and how to say “No.” I’ve seen far too many sales reps who feel obligated to jump through hoops at the request of prospects who want to pick their brain, or otherwise want obscure product information or other research done. And reps comply without even knowing if they’ll get something in return! Before investing inordinate amounts of time with prospects, be certain there’s a potential payoff. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “I’ll be happy to do this for you. I’m assuming you want it because this is something you’re interested in, and that we’ll be working together on a purchase?”
  • Help people get to the point. Those who just want to chit-chat with you are pick-pockets. You wouldn’t let them snatch a $20 bill off your desk, would you? That’s what they’re doing with your time. Regardless of whether they’re customers, peers, or vendors, politely help them explain the reason they’re talking to you: “So how can I assist you?”/”What can I do for you?”
  • Talk in the past tense. To signify the end of the call you can say, “It’s really been great speaking with you …” or, “I’m glad we had the chance to talk.”
  • Reschedule personal interruptions. When friends call to chat, let them know you’re busy, but still want to speak with them.

“Mike great to hear from you. I want to hear all about your vacation to North Dakota. I’ve got some business calls I need to make here, so what’s the best time tonight for me to call you back?”

  • Use “Power Blocking.” Set aside blocks of 45-minute time blocks for activities, and do nothing but that during those times. For example, you might have two blocks of prospecting, and three blocks for follow-up calls during the day. This helps you focus and avoid spraying your activity in all directions.
  • Take the “Why am I doing this?”-test. When engaged in a questionable activity … stuffing envelopes … writing a proposal to a marginal prospect, ask why you’re doing it. If you can’t honestly say it’s either making you or the company money (or saving money), don’t do it. Or delegate it.
  • Analyze and adjust your work hours. You might be physically present for eight hours, but how much work do you get done during that time? Perhaps by coming in a half-hour earlier each day, you can accomplish what would normally be two hours worth of work later in the day. That would be like squeezing out another ten hours worth of production per week!
  • Never write memos or E-mail again. Got something important (and is it really that important, anyway?) to say to someone internally? Say it as you walk by their desk. Or call them for goodness sakes! I know, I know, some situations require that you cover your behind with a written record, but most are just plain drains of your time.
  • Go public with your intentions. If you must do something for someone else, commit to completing it by a specific time. Saying, “I’ll have that price quote to you by 2:00,” forces you to get right on it and complete the task. It avoids procrastination.
  • Turn wait time into productive time. If you think it’s dumb to waste money, it’s even more asinine to waste time. After all, you’ll make more money. Even Bill Gates couldn’t buy more time. Think of all the places you wait … in traffic jams, at the airport, doctor appointments, mechanics, and so on. Always carry with you a file of reading or light paperwork you need to get done. Doing it during this idle wait time eases the frustration of waiting, employs that time productively, and frees up your work time for more important tasks.

And Finally, The Most Important Point of All …

No tips on time control will do any good unless you desire to be a lean time machine. Do you?

It’s simple: if you want to get more done, you will. And from that desire flows your plan … your monthly, weekly, daily, and hourly plans for accomplishment. There’s no magic here. It’s back to the basics. If you have that burning desire, implement these ideas and you’ll find yourself getting more done in less time, and selling more by phone.

About the Author

Art Sobczak gives real world, how-to, conversational ideas and techniques helping business-to-business salespeople use the phone more effectively to prospect, sell, service, and manage accounts without “rejection.” Art is author of numerous books, taped training programs, and publisher of the TELEPHONE SELLING REPORT sales tips newsletter. He’s also a speaker and trainer, providing high-content, one-hour to multiple-day customized speeches and seminars.

Copyright© 2017, Art Sobczak. All rights reserved. For information, contact FrogPond at email susie@FrogPond.com.

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Surviving Uncertainty in Today’s Market: 6 Secrets to Keeping Your Balance, Business and Humor

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Surviving Uncertainty in Today’s Market: 6 Secrets to Keeping Your Balance, Business and Humor

Posted on 15 December 2016 by CRadmin2

By Julie Escobar

What you may not realize is that uncertainty can be a good thing. It can force us out of our comfort zone and propel us to get creative, get resourceful and, most importantly, take action.

If you’re ready to loosen the grip of uncertainty on your career, then I invite you to adopt the following six secrets. Attitude is everything. Well, almost everything, anyway. Consider the study recently conducted by Harvard Business School, which reported the four key elements for success in life:

  1. Experience
  2. Knowledge
  3. Intelligence
  4. Attitude

Stop and think for a moment how you would answer that survey if polled. How would you rate each of these factors in order of importance? Harvard found that experience, knowledge and intelligence comprise only 7 percent of the elements for success. Attitude represented a whopping 93 percent. Imagine that! The most critical facet is also the one we have the MOST control over. So, take control. Rid yourself of the negative and empower yourself with the positive, and you’ll be well on your way to keeping uncertainty at bay.

Over-Prepare. What happens when you know for a fact that you are ready for anything? When you’ve done your homework, practiced, drilled, rehearsed, dotted every “i” and crossed every “t” on your to-do list? Over-preparing for your next job will fill you with the confidence and CERTAINTY you need to win. Our company president always teaches the importance of going those extra steps to be practiced and prepared. So much so, that even if someone were to wake you in the middle of the night from a sound sleep and asked you, “Will you cut your profit?” the words and mannerisms would flow from you naturally and effortlessly with your profit intact!

Market Statistics. There’s never been a more important time to know your numbers than right now. The people who succeed in today’s market are masters of information. They bring to the appointment table all the ammunition you need to prove the quality and prices of your products and services. This affords your clients peace of mind and satisfies two extraordinary essentials for surety and success: confidence and credentials.

Stick to a Schedule. Without it, it’s simply too easy to get off track and find yourself in a rut, and nothing can fuel uncertainty quite like a good old-fashioned rut. Put yourself on a clear, concise, tight schedule, which includes that all important, must-do prospecting time each day. A precise and practical approach to working ON your business not just IN your business will allow you to not just be more productive but also eliminate a great deal of stress in your days. Prioritize your to-do list and keep those “money” activities such as prospecting, presenting and closing on the top of that list.

Master Your ABCs. In today’s market you must always be closing. Our market is quickly changing, shifting and making adjustments, and now is the time to help your customers make the right decisions rather than play the procrastination game. To close is to ask, and to ask is to list. Ask to accept. Ask to reduce. Ask to buy. Sound simple? It is. So go ahead – ASK!

More Is More. Times have changed. The cheese has moved. The economy is shifting. All of these are factors far beyond our control and all represent the change we are all feeling today. It’s all right though. That’s the nature of the beast. Nothing lasts – not the good or the bad – but certainly, how we react to change plays a large role in whether we survive, thrive or find ourselves looking for “a real job.”

The not-so-secret secret here is to do more. Be better. Get stronger at your skill sets. Master your dialogues. Do your homework. Start earlier and stay later when you have to. Readjust your calendars. Create more value for your customers. CONSISTENTLY stay in touch with your sphere of influence. Commit to learning, fine-tuning and crafting your presentations and your presence. Challenge yourself to step outside what “you’ve always done” and seek to go further than you’ve ever gone.

I found an interesting quote today by Ilya Prigogine, “The future is uncertain, but this uncertainty is at the very heart of human creativity.” What a great reminder that is for us to ignite our ingenuity. Tony Robbins tells us that one of the most defining factors that control and shape what we do and how well we succeed is not resources but resourcefulness. In other words, it’s not your broker, not your colleagues, not the market and certainly not the new stationary that determines your success or failure. It’s that deep down emotion that allows you to REALLY want something that powers your resourcefulness to make it happen.

Keep Your Humor. Finally, keep your sense of humor about you. If you truly implement these ideas, you are bound to feel some change, some growing pains and, uh-oh, some uncertainty. Roll with it. Laugh out loud with your friends and your family. Let your hair down, and gift yourself with the medicinal power of laughter. Whether you are a “Jack” or a “Jill” – all work and no play makes for a dull life and a sure case of burnout.

I hope you’ve picked up a secret or two to help you not just survive but truly thrive in this industry. By the way – they aren’t REALLY secrets, just reminders, so feel free to NOT keep them to yourself. Share with the people you care about, the new guy or girl who’s just starting out, that old-timer in the corner who can’t seem to get out of the rut and anyone else who could use a little “shot in the arm.”

One of the best ways to create abundance in your life, financially, emotionally, spiritually and in your career, is to share the wealth. The capacity in which you’ll find it boomeranging back to you is extraordinary.

About the Author

Julie Escobar
Copyright© 2016, Julie Escobar. All rights reserved. For information, contact FrogPond at susie@FrogPond.com.

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The 13 Characteristics of Successful People

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The 13 Characteristics of Successful People

Posted on 15 November 2016 by CRadmin2

By Jeffrey J Mayer

I’ve spent many years studying successful people and have identified the skills, talents and characteristics that enable them to succeed. As you look at and study these skills, talents and characteristics, you’ll realize that you possess many of them yourself. Some of these skills and talents are more dominant than others are and will play a greater part in your being, or becoming, a success in the business of life. These are the things you do well. The things you do easily and effortlessly. These are your strengths.

When you find you need a skill or talent you don’t have, just go out and look for a person or group of people with the skills, talents and training you need: skills and talents that complement your own. These people will become your teammates, colleagues, co-workers, professional advisors and friends. With these combined skills and talents, organizations grow, prosper and become successful.

These are the five things you’ll find every successful person has in common:

  1. They have a dream.
  2. They have a plan.
  3. They have specific knowledge or training.
  4. They’re willing to work hard.
  5. They don’t take no for an answer.

Remember: Success begins with a state of mind. You must believe you’ll be successful in order to become a success.

The following is a list of the skills, talents, and characteristics you’ll find in successful people:

1. Successful People Have a Dream. They have a well-defined purpose. They have a definite goal. They know what they want. They aren’t easily influenced by the thoughts and opinions of others. They have willpower. They have ideas. Their strong desire brings strong results. They go out and do things that others say can’t be done.

Remember: It only takes one sound idea to achieve success.

Remember: People who excel in life are those who produce results, not excuses. Anybody can come up with excuses and explanations for why he or she hasn’t made it. Those who want to succeed badly enough don’t make excuses.

2. Successful People Have Ambition.They want to accomplish something. They have enthusiasm, commitment and pride. They have self-discipline. They’re willing to work hard and go the extra mile. They have a burning desire to succeed. They’re willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

Remember: With hard work, come results. The joy in life comes with working for and achieving something.

3. Successful People Are Strongly Motivated Toward Achievement.They take great satisfaction in accomplishing a task.

4. Successful People Are Focused.They concentrate on their main goals and objectives. They don’t get sidetracked. They don’t procrastinate. They work on the projects that are important and don’t allow those projects to sit until the last minute. They’re productive, not just busy.

5. Successful People Learn How to Get Things Done.They use their skills, talents, energies and knowledge to the fullest extent possible. They do the things that need to be done, not just the things they like to do. They are willing to work hard and commit themselves to getting the job done.

Remember: Happiness is found in doing and accomplishing, not in owning and possessing.

Anecdote: Many years ago, I was asked, “Jeff, do you like pleasing habits or pleasing results?” As I pondered that probing question, and squirmed in my chair like a worm at the end of a hook, I felt as if I had painted myself into a corner. A few moments later, I answered, “I like pleasing results.” From that moment on, my life changed. I began to do the things that were difficult, because they enabled me to achieve my goals.

6. Successful People Take Responsibility for Their Actions.They don’t make excuses. They don’t blame others. They don’t whine and complain.

7. Successful People Look for Solutions to Problems.They’re opportunity minded. When they see opportunities, they take advantage of them.

8. Successful People Make Decisions.They think about the issues and relevant facts, give them adequate deliberation and consideration and make a decision. Decisions aren’t put off or delayed. They’re made now!

SuccessTip: Spend more time thinking and planning before you make your decision, and you’ll make better decisions.

SuccessTip: When you don’t get the expected results from the decision you’ve made, change your course of action. Decisions should never be carved in stone.

9. Successful People Have the Courage to Admit They’ve Made a Mistake.When you make a mistake, admit it, fix it and move on. Don’t waste a lot of time, energy, money and/or other resources trying to defend a mistake or a bad decision.

Remember: When people are wrong, they may admit it to themselves. If they are handled gently and tactfully, they may admit it to others and even take pride in their frankness and broad-mindedness. But people become very defensive and angry when others try to cram their mistakes down their throats.

10. Successful People Are Self-Reliant.They have the skills, talents and training that are needed in order to be successful.

11. Successful People Have Specific Knowledge, Training, Skills or Talents.They know the things they need to know to be successful. And when they need information, knowledge, skills or talents that they don’t possess, they find someone who does possess them.

12. Successful People Work With and Cooperate With Other People.They have positive, outgoing personalities. They surround themselves with people who offer them help, support and encouragement. They are leaders.

13. Successful People Are Enthusiastic.They’re excited by what they’re doing, and that excitement is contagious. They draw people to them because these people want to work with them, do business with them and be with them.

About the Author

Jeffrey Mayer helps business owners, corporate executives and sales professionals set their priorities, get focused and achieve their goals so they can grow their business, get ahead in life and live their dreams. This article is reprinted with permission from Jeffrey Mayer’s Succeeding in Business ewsletter. To subscribe to Jeff’s free newsletter, visit http://www.SucceedingInBusiness.com.

Copyright© 2003, Jeffrey J Mayer. All rights reserved. For information, contact FrogPond at susie@FrogPond.com.

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Seven Keys to Get Out of a Rut

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Seven Keys to Get Out of a Rut

Posted on 21 October 2016 by CRadmin2

By Paul Lemberg

Rut: a routine procedure, situation or way of life that has become uninteresting and tiresome…

And not surprisingly, unprofitable.

They say a rut is a shallow grave with two open ends. The good news (good news?!) is that the ends ARE still open, which means if you act fast, you just might get out of it.

How do we get into these ruts anyway? Who would voluntarily lie down in that grave, shallow or otherwise? Dr. Edward Debono suggests that thoughts are pathways that are literally etched into our brain as electrical connections that get strengthened each time we think them, thus limiting our mental options – just like cow paths.

It all begins when one of the cows wanders home from the field along a new path. Being cows, others naturally follow, nicely beating down the grass. The next evening our intrepid cow is a bit less bold and follows her own freshly trampled path with fellow cows in lockstep behind her. And so on, night after night, widening the path into a footpath, which over time, becomes hardened into a dirt road. More time passes, and the road is paved into a street, then an avenue, a two-lane highway and ultimately, an Interstate.

By the time you come roaring up the on-ramp in your shiny SUV, your direction is all mapped out in front of you. There’s no way to turn and nowhere to go but towards the next exit. If you want to chart a fresh direction, you are going to have to grab the steering wheel and give it a hard, gut-wrenching yank to the right.

And so it is with your thoughts and actions. Repeating them a few times all but insures you will comfortably repeat them indefinitely unless you take deliberate, and possibly disruptive, action to do otherwise.

Here are seven rut busters I use with my business-coaching clients that you can apply immediately to get yourself and your business out of a rut.

1. Shift your mindset from self to customer.
Most business people think of themselves first. They craft product and service offers from their own perspective and consider themselves the beneficiaries of their actions. While that’s not wrong, to get out of your rut, do this: Put yourself into the mind of your customer. Who are these people anyway? What are they concerned about? What are they trying to accomplish? If you were your customer, what would you think of that new product, marketing campaign or email blast? Are you selling your wonderful stuff, or are you providing them tangible, meaningful benefits? Ask yourself, “If I were the customer, would I care?” And if not, consider, “What WOULD I get excited about?”

2. Shift your mindset from customer to client.
A customer is someone who buys your goods or services. The original meaning of client is entirely different: someone who is under your care and protection. Now that’s a switch, isn’t it? If they’re customers, your goal is to get them to buy something. But if you were to think of them as under your care – would you approach your business from another angle? How would you take care of them? How would you protect them? What new programs would you want to implement immediately?

3. Revisit your vision.
Whenever I feel like I’m in a rut, I return to my vision and do two things. First, I make sure it still inspires me and that it is pointing me in the direction I want to go. Once sure, I put pen to paper and rewrite it – not just once, but over and over. And I keep writing until I can’t write it anymore because I’m jumping up and down with a new idea I must do something about right away.

4.Conduct a Survey.
If you don’t know what to do next, ask your clients. (They are clients, aren’t they?) Conduct a survey about anything that interests you. Ask them what’s bothering them. Ask them what they’re stuck on. Ask them what they like about your company and what they’d like you to do next. Ask them about new features, new products or new services. If you’re not happy with your current customers, conduct a survey among the kind of people you’d like to have as customers. And, if you can’t do that, conduct a survey online. Write an attractive search engine ad, promise something of value and drive people to a survey page. Ask them anything you like. The answers will almost always provide you with an interesting, and oftentimes surprising, mind-shift.

5.Focus on building your strengths and dump your weaknesses.
From the time we are little children, we are taught to better ourselves by working on our weaknesses. This is often frustrating and fruitless and certainly not as much fun as practicing our strengths.

Try this on: What if you focused 100 percent of your energy on being world-class in those few things at which you are already very good and out-tasked or outsourced those things at which you were mediocre. Imagine if you never had to face any of those things again, and you could spend all your time doing the good stuff. Would that change the way you felt about your business? Would that bust you out of your rut?

6. Not if, but how.
Think of that wild and crazy idea you had recently. The one where you said to yourself, “That would be great, but there’s just no way.” Well, I know there’s no way – you just said so – but if there was a way, what would it be? Answer that question as if you believed it was possible – probable even – and then get busy making it real. That’s power, you know: turning your vision into reality. Talk about a breakthrough!

7. What are you willing to sacrifice?
Some important things are more important than other important things, and trying to keep all those plates spinning in the air saps your vigor for the ones that truly matter. Dissipated energy – lethargy — is one of the reasons we lie down in that rut in the first place, and dropping a few of those plates can really help things break loose. So let go. Make the sacrifice. Clear your plate, and give up some of those precious things you’ve been holding on to. Focus your vitality on plans that will really rock your world.

Ruts? Who needs ‘em?

About the Author

Paul Lemberg’s clients call him “the unreasonable consultant” because he helps them see the unnecessary limits they place upon themselves and encourages, cajoles and, at times, beats them over the head to take bold, sometimes uncomfortable and often unreasonable actions to reach their critical business goals. He is CEO of Axcelus Consulting, the world’s only systematic business-acceleration program helping entrepreneurs and executives rapidly create faster-growing, profitable and sustainable businesses. His newest book is Be Unreasonable. Paul is available for keynote and executive retreats and can be reached via www.paullemberg.com.

Copyright ©2016, Paul Lemberg. All rights reserved. For information, contact FrogPond at susie@FrogPond.com.

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Optimize Effective and Efficient Behavior for Increased Success

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Optimize Effective and Efficient Behavior for Increased Success

Posted on 26 September 2016 by CRadmin2

By Anne Bachrach

“Time is really the only capital that any human being has and the only thing he cannot afford to lose.”
~Thomas Edison

Whether you are an employee or a business owner, it is your goal to be as effective as you can with the greatest efficiency. If you are an employee, the more effective and efficient you are, the greater asset you present to your employer. As a business owner, the more you can optimize these two factors, the greater return on investment you will realize in your business.

So how do you improve your career or business by improving effectiveness and efficiency? Let’s begin by reviewing the difference between the two terms:

Effective – Producing a decided, decisive or desired effect. Effective emphasizes the actual production of or the power to produce an effect or result.

Efficient – Acting or a potential for action or use in such a way as to avoid loss or waste of energy in effecting, producing or functioning.

Effectiveness is the building block while efficiency is the process of refinement. The better you become at effecting positive results with the greatest efficiency of effort, the bigger asset you become – and so does your business.

Optimizing effectiveness and efficiency doesn’t have any relation to IQ or intelligence levels. It’s really an awareness of your habits. It’s a delicate balance between effecting positive results with the least amount of energy expenditure. This essentially means that you expend the least amount of energy with the largest return – while effectively creating the desired result.

Quality Effectiveness and High Efficiency

Take Henry Ford for example, here is a man that was not well educated, but he knew that in order to build a successful business, he needed to be effective and efficient. Granted, Ford had other skills that contributed to his success, but he was obsessed with optimizing the effectiveness and efficiency of his assembly line in the interest of the success of his company. This obsession led to constant production procedure refinements that were unheard of at the time.

Ford understood that quality effectiveness and high efficiency were vital to building the best car with the least amount of wasted energy. Over a century later, Ford built one of the largest and most successful car factories in the world. While many of his peers at the time thought his ideas were impossible, his innovations still remain a standard in modern-day automobile manufacturing.

Optimizing Effectiveness

Optimizing your effectiveness and efficiency is vital to your success even if you are not a Bill Gates or Henry Ford. Your personal life depends on it and so does your professional life.

Let’s start by discussing improving effectiveness. What does this actually mean? In the most basic terms, you must first learn how to create positive effects, change or results even though by definition you could be effective at producing negative effects. However, our focus is on becoming proficient at producing positive effects. The better you become at effectively creating desired results, the better your personal and professional life becomes.

So how do you know if you are being effective? The first step is to ask yourself what kind of actions you are taking. If the goal is to produce a desired result, every step between the initial action and completed action needs to be in support of the desired result.

Evaluating Effectiveness

Recall a situation or project that produced a less than optimal result. If you go back through the series of actions that led to the result, can you pinpoint what might have triggered the shift from the direction of positive results to non-effective results? When the trigger can be identified, you are able learn from that experience and be more effective in future situations by changing or avoiding the action that created the negative result. Being effective is nothing more than a series of evaluations of past results to identify and separate the successful actions from the negative actions.

This evaluation process not only applies to your professional life but also to your personal life. Your career or your business is only as good as you are – which is why self-improvement is a vital part of your professional success. If you cannot learn to effect positive results, the success of your business will be limited. For optimal success, a dedication to improving effectiveness in your personal life is important.

Don’t ever think your career or business doesn’t have anything to do with you personally. Remember, the effects that are created in your professional life are a direct reflection of you. Every situation, whether professional or personal, deserves adequate evaluation for your improved success.

Refining Effectiveness

Now let’s discuss efficiency. Effectiveness is the building block and efficiency is the process of refinement. Think of it as a sort of horse and carriage. Improving efficiency isn’t possible until you actually learn how to effect results. While it is possible to be effective without being efficient, only having one of the two strengths is like missing the other piece to the puzzle. To be a true force to be reckoned with and to grow your business, you must be able to effect positive results with the greatest efficiency.

We all have the same number of hours in a day to complete our tasks, so you must learn to produce desired results with the least amount of energy lost. This is probably one of the most common concerns I hear from my clients. They wonder how they can do more under time constraints. I ask every client the same question, how are you spending your time? In order to make more time and become better at what we do, we must learn to improve our effectiveness and efficiency.

Calendaring and Scheduling

Although most people resist it, calendaring is a great tool for improving effectiveness and efficiency. When you put everything in your calendar and honor it, you’ll find your focus improves because you have daily tasks staring right back at you in black and white. Schedule everything in your calendar, including showers, drive time, calls, marketing time, client interviews, lunch and workouts. For every task, add a 15 to 30 minute buffer. This buffer will serve to add to peace of mind if unexpected delays come up. If you are actually running ahead of schedule, then you can get a head start on the next task and actually complete more in less time.

Improving effectiveness and efficiency may require improving organizational skills, maintaining a greater focus, task delegation, getting eight hours of sleep every night or any other number of factors. Although adjustments vary from person to person, the factors remain constant and comprise a set of success principles. Begin working on increasing your effectiveness and efficiency today and enjoy the benefits you receive as a result. You’ll find that you will accomplish more in less time and feel great about your progress every day.

About the Author

Anne M. Bachrach is known as The Accountability Coach. She has 23 years of experience training and coaching. The objective is to do more business in less time through maximizing people’s true potential and ultimately leading them to an even better quality of life. Anne is the author of the book Excuses Don’t Count; Results Rule! and Live Life with No Regrets: How the Choices We Make Impact Our Lives.

Copyright© 2016, Anne M. Bachrach. All rights reserved. For information, contact FrogPond at susie@FrogPond.com.

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Job Stress: What Can You Do About It?

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Job Stress: What Can You Do About It?

Posted on 16 August 2016 by cradmin

By Todd E. Linaman

Today’s workforce faces a multitude of pressures: deadlines, office politics, nonproductive meetings, conflict, job ambiguity, miscommunication, increased workload, inadequate resources, customer complaints and long hours. . . to name just a few. On-the-job stress can be quite costly, too, because it often results in increased absenteeism, reduced efficiency, low morale, reduced effectiveness and high staff turnover.

Researchers have discovered that since 1965, the overall stress levels in the U.S. have increased nearly 50 percent, and it is estimated that 75 to 90 percent of all office visits to healthcare professionals are for stress-related symptoms and disorders.

We know that a certain level of stress can be good. Stress actually improves performance by sharpening concentration, focusing attention and increasing motivation; however, when the threshold of optimum stress is crossed, it can trigger a very negative domino effect. High levels of stress not only compromise your work performance, productivity and efficiency, but more importantly, they can seriously impact your health.

Common physical symptoms of stress include headaches, migraines, insomnia, back and neck aches, nausea, twitching, appetite changes and sweating. The long-term effects of stress can include heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, gastrointestinal problems and more.

In addition to the physical symptoms, stress can also cause serious psychological and emotional problems, such as mood swings, poor concentration, anxiety, irritability, anger, depression, forgetfulness, pessimism, confusion and self-doubt.

No doubt we all agree that it is important to manage our stress effectively, but how can we do it? Here are a few tips that will help you to keep your stress low and your performance level high.

Control your time. When you are over-committed, something has to give. Take time to identify your most important responsibilities or tasks and focus on them first. Avoid taking on assignments just to please others or to look good. Successful time management involves your ability to control the activities in your life – and the better you are at it, the less stress you will experience.

Minimize procrastination. Putting off important responsibilities breeds stress. Procrastination typically occurs for three reasons: You aren’t sure how to do the task, you can’t decide how to approach it, and/or you don’t particularly enjoy doing what you have to do. Avoid waiting until the last minute to complete jobs by breaking down a large project into as many small, manageable, “instant” tasks as possible. Write these mini-projects on a piece of paper and then include several of them on your daily to-do List. When you complete one of the tasks, treat yourself to a nice reward. Before you know it, the project will be done and you will feel energized as a result.

Take time out for yourself. The busy-ness of work life and constant interaction with others can create a very legitimate need for alone time. Making time in your schedule for solitude can be a big challenge, but make it a priority to set aside “down” or “quiet” time just like you schedule business meetings and lunch appointments. During this time, give yourself permission to take a mini vacation. Find a quiet place to relax where you won’t be interrupted and then mentally transfer yourself to a quiet and beautiful setting. Imagine taking a leisurely walk on the beach or dangling your feet in the cool waters of a lazy mountain stream. As you sense the warm sun on your face and the cool breeze in the air, you will feel the stress and worries of the day slowly drift away.

Practice healthy self-talk. You feel what you think. Negative, critical and hopeless thinking produces fear, anger, worry and stress. Practice maintaining a positive mental attitude about yourself, your work and those around you. Remember, you do have choices in life and you can change and control many of the things that you are dissatisfied with if you are willing to set your mind to it.

Reconsider all meetings. Unproductive meetings are among the worse time wasters in businesses today. Meetings should only be held when interaction is required, and only those directly involved or affected should be required to attend. Productive meetings serve an essential purpose – to share important information and/or to solve critical problems. But unnecessary meetings just delay the completion of important objectives, which ultimately results in more pressure and stress. A study quoted in The Wall Street Journal reported that if American managers started and ended their meetings on time and followed an agenda, they could save 80 percent of the time they currently waste in meetings!

Control your diet. If you put low-octane fuel in your car, your engine will still run but not at top-performance level. The same principle is true for your mind and body. If you regularly consume junk food or skip meals, you can still function but with much less efficiency. A healthy diet is key to maintaining good concentration, a high level of energy and a healthy outlook on life.

Get your heart pumping. Physical activity is one of the best stress busters around. A brisk walk, game of tennis or aerobics class helps you let off steam and distracts you from your source of stress. Exercise can also boost your immune system and help you to fight off illnesses that stress can cause.

Stop mulling it over – take action. If you’re overloaded with worries, sit down with a pen and paper and spend 15 minutes writing down your concerns and potential solutions to the problems. By the time you finish, you will realize that you don’t feel as worried because you are now better prepared to take action.

Recommended Daily Habits

  • Set realistic goals and expectations for yourself.
  • Do something nice for someone.
  • Share a laugh or a word of encouragement with someone you like.
  • Make a list of things you are most grateful for.
  • Take a leisurely bath or hot shower.
  • Rest your eyes for 15 to 30 minutes without interruption.
  • Relax outdoors, enjoying nature.
  • Revisit your accomplishments – even the smallest ones.
  • Listen to soothing music.
  • Get up 15 minutes early to avoid having to rush.
  • Watch a funny movie or television program.
  • Spend 30 minutes reading a good book.
  • Take a walk around the building.

As an Employer

If you are an employer, be aware of what your company or organization can do to help your employees minimize stress in the workplace. Here are just a few items to consider:

  • Provide a safe and comfortable environment in which to work.
  • Provide a workplace free from all forms of harassment.
  • Make sure adequate resources are provided to complete assignments.
  • Discourage excessive work hours over an extended period of time.
  • Develop management practices based on equality of treatment.
  • Provide reasonable workload allocation and feedback on performance.
  • Encourage staff to maintain and improve their physical and psychological health.
  • Strive to ensure good communication throughout the organization.
  • Provide information and training to enable staff to develop their skills and maximize their contribution to the business.

Managing stress in the workplace – or anywhere else in life, for that matter – is really a question of balance. If your work is very busy, hectic or noisy, balance it with quiet times and relaxing activities. If your job is mentally demanding or requires long periods of concentration, balance it with play and physical activity. Eat enough but not too much. Enjoy time with family and friends, offset with periods of solitude and reflection. The key is recognizing the value of activities that aren’t related to your work and giving them adequate priority in your daily calendar.

About the Author

Dr. Todd E. Linaman is a licensed psychologist and the President of Relational Advantage, Inc. Dr. Linaman is also a conference speaker, published author and expert in the area of personal, professional and organizational development. RAI provides quality coaching, consulting and training for family-owned businesses, executives, managers and other business professionals. Copyright© 2016, Todd Linaman, Ph.D. All rights reserved. For information, contact Frog Pond at Susie@frogpond.com.

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Building a Sum Even Greater Than Its Parts: Why It’s Essential to Create a Cohesive Sales Team

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Building a Sum Even Greater Than Its Parts: Why It’s Essential to Create a Cohesive Sales Team

Posted on 28 July 2016 by cradmin

By Becky Wenner

“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress and working together is success.” Henry Ford, one of the great industrialists of the 20th century, said that about the importance of teamwork and of how it applies to businesses of all sizes.

Today’s economy is more diverse and more fiercely competitive than ever before, yet Ford’s insights still ring true today. Whether you are leading a small sales team, managing a large sales department or are part of a group of sales professionals, your personal success is going to hinge on building an ambitious, motivated team that can work together towards a common objective.

Even where sales targets are met individually, they are meant to be assigned to all members of a team. A team that meets and exceeds its combined targets is far more valuable than one where only a few succeed and the rest fail.

Work together for sales and against the corrosive effects of disunity. Infighting or squabbles with other departments isn’t just bad for morale, it also leads to lost business. Here at Engage Selling, we once worked with a company that had lost a quarter of a million dollar account because the sales and the engineering teams didn’t trust each other enough to communicate properly.

That’s a tough loss for any company. Worse still, it’s entirely preventable.

Ensure your group keeps meeting and exceeding their sales targets. Implement the following five tips on creating a cohesive sales team.

Choose people whose team skills even the balance.  When hiring sales professionals, be sure to look for people who demonstrate more than just a healthy competitive streak. They need to show they have team-oriented skills, too. These are not contradictory qualities. All proven sales people have the motivation and the tools to succeed on their own, but the truly exceptional ones are able to help others on their team succeed as well.

Open the communication channels in-house. Ensure you are communicating cross-departmentally on a regular basis. Bring in your engineering teams, your implementation teams and your customer service teams so you can have meetings that inform each group about what the others are doing in the common pursuit of serving the customer.

Eliminate ambiguity. Within your sales team, ensure everyone is clear about the sales structure and about how they are being paid. Sales teams can quickly become dysfunctional when staff is expected to perform well while dealing with unanswered questions (e.g., “Is that my lead or yours?” and “Do I get paid for this service I’m providing?”). Fill in the gray areas. Create well-defined sales agreements and compensation agreements.

Don’t compete against your own team. If you are a sales leader, make sure you are not selling directly to the customer. Some of the most dysfunctional sales teams I have coached got that way because the sales leader was competing directly against his own sales team. Your job is not to sell directly. It’s to help each sales person close more business.

Celebrate success. Dysfunctional sales teams stay that way because all they hear is bad news or negative feedback. Granted, a sales person’s commission is a fine motivator on an individual level, but what I am talking about here is what you can do to show that money isn’t the only reward for hard work. Good sales professionals leave organizations when they feel they’re not being recognized. So celebrate big wins. Ensure that every team member feels like they are contributing. Ask for their opinions. Celebrate when a new hire wins a new customer. If customer service or engineering has also helped in that win, make sure you include them in the congratulations as well.

A happy, motivated sales team that knows how it is going to be paid and communicates throughout the organization is the team that’s going to help you meet and exceed your sales goals…year after year.

Copyright ©2012, Becky Wenner. All rights reserved. For information, contact FrogPond at susie@FrogPond.com.

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Branding: The Subtle Secret to Explosive Marketing

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Branding: The Subtle Secret to Explosive Marketing

Posted on 13 June 2016 by cradmin

By Rich Levin

When I hear the word software, I think of Microsoft. The mention of a soft drink means Coke or Pepsi to me. Mention search engine, and Google pops into my mind. So how do you make your name pop into people’s minds when they hear the mention of countertops?

It’s Called Branding

Branding is the immediate association of a business name with its product type, and the right brands are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and, sometimes, a whole lot more. Can you establish a brand that has such value? Yes, you can, and consistency is the key – consistency of your graphics and consistency of the experience your business provides.

It’s More Than a Name

To Xerox something means to make a copy of it. You also believe that you can depend on a Xerox machine. A Kleenex is a facial tissue. You expect Kleenex to be decent quality. When you Google, you are confident that you will find what you want. These brands are recognizable by both their name and their logo, and they are associated with dependable quality and service.

All of that, the name, the look and the quality of service, is all part of the brand. Any fabricator’s goal is to have the people in their market associate the mention of the company’s name or seeing its brand with a positive and successful countertop experience.

It takes more than a name, a slogan or a logo, however. A successful brand is also the promise of something verifiable by the consumer as they work with the company. And to distinguish the business, the promise must be above the minimum expectation of quality. For a countertop fabricator, that means more than a basic level of service, attentiveness and expertise. So, how do you create a recognizable brand and raise your quality of service above these basic levels?

Brand Graphics

Creating a successful look or visual brand is called brand graphics, and it is not as intimidating as it sounds. Think of the Coke or Pepsi logo. It is a combination of a design, font and colors. And the brand graphic does not change for years or even decades. A fabricator’s brand graphic is also a simple combination of design, consistent font, colors and use of an eye-catching image. It should always be kept simple yet memorable and impart a specific feelings, such as solidness, quality or quickness.

Brand Experience

Creating a successful brand experience is also easier than it sounds. Many fabricators have already done this and don’t realize it. Think of your favorite store, restaurant, hair stylist or website. The way they greet you, speak to you, interact with you or, in the case of a website, the navigation. There is consistency that you recognize and depend on. When you call a local fabricator in Kansas City, you’ll hear some variation of “And a grand good day to you?” or “Hello and a glorious good morning.”

The way you answer the phone, propose a project or give a presentation; the speed and frequency of communication, giving of gifts, progress reporting, use video and social media – all contribute to the experience a fabricator provides. Consistency of that experience establishes your brand experience.

Be careful. Any businessperson wants to choose the most positive experiences to construct their brand experience. The best way to discover which experiences to make consistent is to ask. Call your clients from the past year or two and ask the following questions.

In addition to learning the best experiences to build your brand around, you are making a strong professional impression and you will likely generate some referrals.

  • Ask what they had heard about the way you do business?
  • What do they remember most?
  • What did they like and appreciate?
  • If they were to refer you, what would they say are the best things about the way you do business?
  • Why did they choose to work with you?
  • What do they think would be important for you to keep on doing, do more of, do differently or stop doing?

Consistency is the Key

There is an important principle in marketing that says, “The time when you are getting bored with your brand is about the time when it is just beginning to work.” Remember how long Coke, Pepsi, Kodak, Godiva, Google and other extremely successful brands maintain their brand graphics and brand experience? It is measured in decades. Choose your brand characteristics and, unless there is a very compelling reason to change, keep your brand characteristics for at least two more years after you are feeling bored with them.

You Don’t Have to…

Finally, whenever I teach or coach marketing, I always ask attendees to write this down: “You don’t have to get it perfect. Just get it going. And keep improving it.”

The way you do that is to choose deadlines. By when will you have your web design chosen? By when will you have your postcard designed? By when will you choose the photo you will use? Then, stick to those deadlines and move on to the next decision. Keep it moving, and you will realize that getting it going and then improving it is a key to success in your marketing.

About the Author

Rich Levin is one of the most successful business coaches in the nation by virtue of the measurable results of his clients and creator of the Real Estate Hierarchy of Success, a working model for understanding and planning a real estate business.

Copyright ©2016, Rich Levin. All rights reserved. For information, contact FrogPond at susie@FrogPond.com.

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Leadership Strategies to Address Today’s Most Common Team Building Problems

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Leadership Strategies to Address Today’s Most Common Team Building Problems

Posted on 12 May 2016 by cradmin

By Gayle Lantz

Despite best team building efforts, many organizations are still operating on low power when it comes to producing desired results. They’ve invested time and dollars in events that supposedly help team members bond and function coherently, yet results are short term at best.

So what’s the problem? Every situation is unique, but here are a few possibilities:

  • Some or all members don’t want to function as a team. They’ve become accustomed to operating independently and don’t see the value of operating as a whole.
  • Team building isn’t linked to business results. Instead, the team experienced artificial feel good exercises. Although the team has learned about each other’s behavioral styles, motivational profiles, individual strengths, etc., they have failed to connect their efforts to desired business outcomes.
  • There’s no follow-up beyond a one-time event. A successful team building process should be approached strategically, not as a one-time event hoping for the best. It should result in actionable ideas to help the team and organization achieve their goals. Continued learning, action and reinforcement are critical.

Of all of the potential issues that can negatively affect team building, here are some of the most common impediments to team success, in my experience, and ways to overcome them.

Team Building Impediment #1: Fuzzy focus

In this situation, the team doesn’t really know how to function. Either the team has lost focus on results or members have never been clear of their goals in the first place. Instead, they’ve become too internally fixated on other team members – judging what they’re doing, making assumptions, speculating, backstabbing, finger pointing, etc. Without a clear focus, team members frequently react to events in their immediate environment. They become distracted by other team members or simply respond to whatever issue lands in their lap. There’s no strategic team focus or energy to move forward.

Suggestion: As the leader, you must step in and clarify big picture goals and expectations. In order to complete this task effectively, you must communicate the goals in a number ways that appeal to a variety of team members. Some may need a visual representation (e.g., a roadmap); others may need to know the “why” behind the goals to buy in. Check for clarity. Ask the team to articulate their understanding of the overall goals in their own words. Then, clarify or correct as needed.

Team Building Impediment #2: Lack of leadership

Leadership is critical to help the team succeed. Without it, team members will resort to their own methods. Some will run as far and fast as they can to prove themselves, pushing boundaries and taking on too much risk. Others will sit idle for as long as they can, performing as little as possible, yet complaining about how much work needs to get done. Some leaders are too busy concentrating on their own political or career agenda. Other leaders just don’t understand their role or possess good leadership skills.

Suggestion: Conduct regular strategic focus sessions. Strong leaders will help the team focus on the goal (the what) and key strategies (the how). Hold consistent informal one-on-one development meetings with direct reports to gain feedback, uncover trouble spots and leverage opportunities. If you need to build leadership skills yourself, make that a priority. If you value your career, find a coach or mentor to help you. Remember, in order to develop others – you must first develop yourself.

Team Building Impediment #3: Stuck in sameness

The team is stuck in practices that may have been established years ago. They’ve gotten lazy or stopped trying new approaches. New team members may be frustrated by the apparent lack of openness to new ideas or ways of operating. Experienced team members defend the way things have always been done.

Suggestion: Identify one aspect of the team that you would be excited to see change. Talk with your team to make sure everyone agrees it would be worth it to affect change in that area. Determine what the best possible outcome could be if the team made the change, adopted a new procedure, tried a new approach or do whatever it is you’re suggesting. Then, call for ideas from the team on how to make it happen. Generating excitement about new possibilities makes it easier for the team to get unstuck.

The most effective teams can maintain best practices while adapting to new environments or organizational changes. They are not content with sameness or status quo. Their best practices include constantly seeking new and better ways to perform their jobs. They are not content with going through the motions or frivolous exercises that may help increase awareness but stop there.

Final Thoughts:

It doesn’t matter if Bob is a blue, green or yellow if he can’t connect his self-awareness to results. The same applies at the team level. Team members may find it interesting to learn more about team members, but be sure to help translate learning into results.

Great team leaders spend time clarifying goals, cultivating their own leadership skills and identifying new ways to achieve great results. Not to be confused with micromanaging, an effective leader will check in from time to time to make sure the organization’s goals and strategies remain clear. At the same time, they help build capability of individual team members versus taking on the work of the team themselves.

Simply opening productive and constructive communication to a greater degree will help leaders increase their effectiveness and their team’s functioning most effectively. Leaders often feel unnecessary pressure to tell everyone on the team what to do. Focus on influencing versus doing.

Team building is a means to an end and not an end in itself. What do you want your team to achieve?

About the Author

As an organizational development consultant, executive coach and founder of WorkMatters®, Gayle Lantz can help your team achieve substantial results. Clients include organizations such as NASA, Southern Company and Compass Bank.

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Build a Marketing Plan Guaranteed to Increase Your Business

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Build a Marketing Plan Guaranteed to Increase Your Business

Posted on 13 April 2016 by cradmin

By Grant W. Hicks

Marketing Objective

There is nothing better in marketing than surpassing your targets and growing your business as you planned. On the flip side, there is nothing worse than finishing a slow month and starting a new month with few prospects and little potential business other than a desk full of cold calls to make.

We all have financial goals and targets. Now we need a blueprint to start making those goals a reality. As an advisor, I know that the ups and downs happen. But I also know that with a consistent marketing guerrilla-attack program, you will smooth out your production and be more consistent in your approach.

Marketing Strategy

How do you sit down and write a marketing plan? Budget at least half a day to one full day, grab a pad of paper and a pen and start writing. Sound simple? Well it is, so make it simple. Unless you’re running the marketing for Proctor & Gamble, why do you need an exhaustive written plan?

Try these simple steps:

1. Write down all of the marketing that you are doing now, the frequency and the annual and monthly costs.

2. Write down all of the marketing ideas that you were thinking of pursuing in the next year. Write or collect a list of ideas. Don’t discard anything until you have examined it further. At this point, write it down. If you are looking for ideas, conduct a routine search of the Internet. Ask your manager or marketing wholesalers for ideas. Visit the library to find a book that serves as a guide to marketing ideas. Just write them down.

3. Write down what your competition is doing for marketing. At the same time, write down who your competition is.

4. Write down what your peer group and some of the business owners you admire or respect are doing in terms of marketing and their costs.

5. Create an annual and monthly budget. Exclude the cost of personnel. The final marketing budget should be between 10 to 20 percent of your gross income. Remember, marketing is an investment in your business and not an expense.

The second part of budgeting is time. Your time and the time staff spends on marketing both need to be allocated. How much time will you devote to developing your marketing? How much time during the day do you spend on marketing? Now, how much time should you spend on marketing during the day? I always schedule a half day per month to work on my marketing and client communication strategies. This scheduled time is very productive time in my practice. If you don’t have the time now, how will you have time in the future to grow your business?

6. Identify your ideal client profile, and write it down.

7. Decide what marketing mix will work for you. What will work and what won’t work depends on your commitment. This is where you make decisions based on projections of growth that you want to achieve. For example, if you want to increase revenue from $300,000 to $450,000 per year, your marketing budget is $6,000 and you have no major plans for marketing, then how are you going to achieve that growth?

Although some advisors say that their business grows by referrals only, what do they do to generate those referrals? Perhaps they provide exceptional service, which costs money and may be defined as an excellent communication program. Well, guess what, their dynamic communication program is part of their marketing strategy. What is your ideal marketing mix?

8. Once you have decided on what you are going to do in the next year, break it down into a monthly marketing calendar. Decide which months you are going to do what.

9. Decide on costs and put annual and monthly costs down on paper. At this point, make sure that you can afford your program. If you cannot, consider the consequences of borrowing to invest into your business. That is solely your decision. I remember once when I first started in the business, I borrowed money on a credit card to attend a conference. I didn’t think I could afford to go, but after I returned, I realized I couldn’t afford not to. I learned that I was investing in myself and not just spending money on my business.

10. Put the plan into a working document. Share it with other executives, managers and your staff. Then, commit to completing it, revisiting it on a monthly basis and measuring the results.

Bonus Tip

The simpler your marketing plan, the easier it will be to complete successfully. The marketing plan should be easy to execute once you have put enough thought and effort into it. The most challenging part of your marketing plan may be time and timing.

For example, I know several financial advisors who start a marketing plan only to stop after a few months because they are too busy. The plan depends on a constant time commitment to complete. If you plan in advance and schedule times and dates and pay in advance, then you are committed. However, don’t put your marketing eggs into one basket. Have multiple marketing ideas in different avenues working for you simultaneously.

Each quarter, I take one day to review the success of the marketing plan, look at future ideas that I may implement into my plan and set a course of action for the quarter. I also write a mini-marketing plan for the quarter. That way, I can review it with my team and plan the next quarter’s marketing events and ideas in advance.

Another key element of your marketing plan is to look back and look forward. First, look back to what marketing worked for you and what didn’t work. Then, project a vision of how you want to position yourself in your marketing messages. For instance, I manage retirement assets, so my title is not Financial Planner. Rather, it is Retirement-Planning Specialist. Positioning means determining exactly what niche you’re intending to fill. I live in a retirement community, so it is natural to work in that niche.

Finally, if you’re happy with and expect average service, then that is what you are probably giving. But if you expect world-class service, then bring that element to your business. The Ritz Carlton motto is this: “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” Look to first-class organizations with a high degree of service and attention to detail, and implement that type of philosophy into your business. This will help your marketing efforts when thinking about attracting new clients.

About the Author

Grant Hicks, president of Hicks Financial, is one of Canada’s leading authorities on marketing. He is a dynamic and entertaining speaker with an amazing ability to motivate audiences to achieve more. He co-authored Guerrilla Marketing for Financial Advisors with Jay Conrad Levinson for Trafford Publishing in 2003.

Copyright© 2016, Grant W. Hicks. All rights reserved. For information, contact FrogPond at susie@FrogPond.com.

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