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The Corona Virus for Small Businesses

Corona Virus

How should small business owners manage the corona virus, aka COVID-19? It’s a question on the minds of many entrepreneurs, as Fortune 500 companies announce new protocols for travel, meetings and even use of coffee cups. At Consultant Journal, we know many entrepreneurs, small business owners and consultants wonder about the business impact.

Refer to the CDC, WHO, your local health authority or another reliable, science-based source for health information. Their recommendations should inform your decisions. Keep in mind that recommendations may change. In the meantime, based on current information, you can take the following steps:

Managing Employees

  • If you have employees, you’ll want to review the steps you take to make sure they are safe from illness.
  • Wipe down and clean surfaces frequently
  • Encourage workers to stay home or leave work if they have symptoms noted by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Instruct workers to cover coughs and sneezes with tissues, elbows or shoulders, not their hands
  • Encourage frequently soap and water handwashing for 20 seconds or use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Make sure staff have access to well-stocked washing facilities
  • Encourage waving or nodding for greetings
  • Consider whether racism or profiling may be affecting your employees and review HR protocols to help provide emotional and work support

Client Engagement

If your business meets with clients in person, you may want to look at your policies and processes to help keep clients and yourself healthy. Think about what’s actually needed for your sales and marketing:

  • Wave or nod instead of shaking hands
  • Keep washrooms well-stocked with paper towels and soap
  • Bring along hand-sanitizing hand wipes or cleanser, if access to washing facilities is difficult
  • Consider which appointments must be made in person, whether trips are necessary and how you can make better use of teleconferencing and web meetings
  • Offer flexibility for cancellations related to health, review your fees and pricing around cancellations for illness and suggest tech tools for managing communication as needed
  • As with employees, check that racism and profiling are not affecting your work and look for opportunities to improve engagement, diversity and human rights
  • Update your website, social or client communication to let people know how you’re managing health and what options you are offering
  • Make sure you have two-way communication options for clients.

Business Process Review

From a business point of view, you may also need to take precautions:

  • Look through your HR policies, including paid time-off, sick leave, caregiver, short-term disability benefits and policies. Look for opportunities to offer work from home, make-up shifts, sick days, leave or other flexible conditions that promote health and wellness
  • Review internal and external communication policies and protocols. If there is a shut down, how will you inform staff and stakeholders, for example?
  • Do trial runs and document practices for using telemeetings, including teleconferences and web meetings. You may be already doing these, but sometimes employees, contractors and clients may be new to the experience.

Business continuity

  • Prepare your company for the possibility of a shut-down. Review what you would need to do to maintain inventory, reserves and contract fulfillment.
  • Take some time to review your childcare and family caregiver situation; encourage employees to look into options too, including working from home
  • Take a look at your cash flow and what a change to sales or staffing could do. Consider arranging financing ahead of time, as part of business continuity preparations
  • If you haven’t already, you may want to look into business continuity plans and insurance
  • Look for opportunities to automate business processes to minimize disruptions and make sure any credit cards, lines of credit and other investment tools are up to date. Some tools you may find helpful include Zoom, Slack, Google Docs, Trello
  • As with employees and clients, review whether racism and profiling may affect your business or those around you. Look for ways to address issues, provide better support and be a better member of the business community
  • You’ll also want to stay up to date on news around the virus. Be reasonable and make sure you’re using reliable news sources. The CDC and your local health authority are likely good options.

While COVID-19 may impact your business or your personal life, this situation also presents a good opportunity to modernize and automate your business and determine where you can create the most success with personal contact. You may actually find some of the steps improve your workflow, customer engagement, employee retention and other important performance indicators.

Related to Business Management:

How to Set Up a Website or Blog with Bluehost

So you’re looking to set up a personalized email address, website or blog. I’m a Bluehost affiliate partner and I want to be clear that I receive a commission if you sign up with them. You are certainly welcome to set up a website, blog or personalized email anywhere. I spent a fair bit of time researching where to send Consultant Journal readers, though, and I chose Bluehost because they’ve been around the block, they’re a recognized name and their approach seems good. I’ll walk you through the steps.

  1. Click here to go to the Bluehost website (it will open in a new window).

bluehost welcome screen

 

Got it? Good. I am a big WordPress fan and I find it’s pretty easy for most people to set up, so I suggest going with that.

2. Choose a plan.

I’m a bit of a klutz, so I like having a backup for my websites. You can choose any of these plans, but I personally feel most comfortable with one that comes with a site backup, so that I can recover anything I lose. However, when I was starting out, I used to just keep copies of my stuff in a folder saved in the cloud. If you’re just going to have a few pages, you can start that way. However, think about whether you also want domain privacy. I also pay the extra for my sites to have my registration details kept private, so that I don’t end up with someone showing up at my office or home unannounced, except for the courier folks who bring my chocolate subscription!

Okay. So click the plan you want.

3. Choose a domain.
There are lots of places you can buy domain names and you’re certainly welcome to choose one from your vendor of choice. Bluehost includes a free domain with your registration setup, though, so you might want to stick with them and keep it simple.

If you’re choosing a domain name, I recommend going for something short and sweet. I’m a bit biased to .com domains, but it’s fine to look at other options. With so many people just relying on search engines and links, you have a bit more flexibility these days. Still, I prefer to find something short and easy to spell, pronounce and remember. I also suggest making sure you aren’t infringing on any trademarks or existing business names. You may want to try using the domain suggestion tool to find something, if your preferred options are taken.

Make your choice and click next. Depending on what you chose, you’ll either be on to your domain naming or the payment details.

4. Set up your account

Now you’re on to the account information screen. Provide your registration details. (Many countries require you to provide your contact information to comply with laws about website registration.)

Then choose your package. (It’s okay to choose the shortest time frame. You don’t have to go for three years and, although, as a partner, you might think I’d push you to go for the longest term, I suggest you just do a shorter term, so that you get a taste of what’s happening.) You can’t pay by the month, but you can choose a 1, 2, 3 or 5-year package that works out to a decent monthly amount.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I set up website, I click the domain privacy protection button. I don’t like my personal details out there for anyone to find. If you happen to work from home, it’s especially important that you consider a privacy plan – it doesn’t add very much and it keeps your address and other details private. Otherwise, just ignore all the special offers and details.

5. Add your billing details

website cc account details

 

 

 

 

 

Read the fine print and the terms, cancellation and privacy policy. If you agree, click submit.

6. Create your password.

website password setup

 

 

 

 

You’re almost there.

 

Click the Congratulations button.

congrats

And there you go. You’re done.

Okay. You’re all set up. You can set up your email, website or blog now.

While you can choose one of the website themes they offer, I generally stick with the themes that come with WordPress. That’s because themes get updates fairly regularly and you could be stuck with an out-of-date theme that hackers would exploit. (This has happened to me and it really hurt my brand. So now I make sure I use popular themes, not custom or one-off themes.)

Go check out your new domain – and don’t be surprised when you see it isn’t ready yet. It takes a while for all the new domain and name server info to percolate through the Internet. Give it a day or two. But, in the meantime, you can start building.

Click the all done button:

all done

Set up on WordPress

wordpress set up

 

 

Ta da!

So, from here, I would just click “I don’t need help.” Okay, I understand. You’re thinking, “BUT I DO NEED HELP!” I get it. It’s just that the options with the blue buttons come with things set up and then you might find you’re trying to undo some of what’s been set up. If you click “I don’t need any help”, you can start from scratch and just set up the way you want.

If you’re just doing a blog, you can simply have one page and do everything there.

If you’re doing a website, I recommend you do what I teach my university students! Set up the main home index page, About and Contact. From there, you might want to add pages for Blog, Services, Products. Keep it simple.

Check your email

Make sure you’ve activated any account and website links sent to you by Bluehost.

STUCK? HAVING TROUBLE? CONFUSED?

Contact Bluehost at https://www.bluehost.com/contact. Calling usually works better than chatting and, personally, I find I usually connect better with people on the phone, when I can hear their voice.  I don’t have your account information! Bluehost has all that and they can help you figure things out.

Enjoy your new website or blog!

Writing great consulting proposals


Writing a consulting proposal? This evergreen post on writing proposals for consulting includes an overview of some key considerations for any proposal.

Of course, you’ll also want to include the contract terms, consulting fees, deliverables, terms of reference and other points. But starting with some key points can help.

Take a look at this post for pointers: http://consultantjournal.com/blog/proposals-proposals-and-what-you-need-to-consider

 

CPD online courses – Canada, US & International

CPD online courses – in Canada, US & International – and other offerings for continuing professional development can help busy legal, medical, financial and other professionals meet their annual requirements. In many fields, professionals need to take a minimum number of CPD courses each year to meet requirements for maintaining membership, licenses, certifications or other designations.

Online CPD benefits

Traditionally, many people turned to their professional society or to annual conferences and cruises in warm and sunny climes. But the advent of online CPD course offerings has opened the door to new ways of accessing continuing professional development. With ebooks, videos and online courses, busy practitioners can access CPD online.

For people with busy practices and careers, active family lives, remote locations or just a preference to work on their own or in small groups, online CPD may be the way to go.

Online CPD and Offline Options for Continuing Professional Development

CPD is just one of the many terms for ongoing professional development. Other terms:

  • Continuing Education Units (CEU)
  •  Continuing Renewal Units (CRU)
  • Professional Development Points (PDP)
  • Professional Learning Units (PLU)
  • Continuing Legal Education (CLE)
  • Mandatory Continuing Legal Education(MCLE)
  • Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE)

CPD – online & other formats

Continuing professional development may happen on the job (in-service) or outside the workplace. It might be through formal or informal programs. In some organizations, the Human Resources department may offer programming or there may be dedicated training departments in some firms. Some employers may also include CPD and other professional development courses as part of annual reviews and ongoing workforce planning. In other cases, it’s up to the individual to pursue their CPD.

 

CPD Online & Traditional Formats:

  • Lecture
  • Workshop
  • Academic course
  • Case studies
  • Coaching
  • Small group communities of practice
  • Individual study or reading
  • Mentoring

Some organizations award CPD credit for:

  • Teaching
  • Mentoring
  • Writing and publishing
  • Supervision

Looking for individual study options for you? Take a look at our online CPD resources. We have also partnered with CareQuadrant to offer socially innovative online CPD courses on inclusive language, advocacy, reflective practice and more.

 

How to sign up for Twitter

How to sign up for Twitter – shortly after asking about the merits of getting an account for Twitter, a friend and colleague asked how to go about signing up for the a free social media service. While you can merely check the steps on the Twitter site, some people prefer a step-by-step guide.

How to sign up for Twitter - image of a smartphone with Twitter sign up page

How to sign up for Twitter

    1. Go to Twitter.com.
    2. In the top right corner, you’ll see a “sign up” button. Click it.
    3. Provide some basic information about yourself. You’ll need to include your name, email address and a password. (See our password management app article.)
    4. You may need to try a few times to find an account name that hasn’t been taken. Try adding information, as opposed to numbers. MarketingConsultant2017 or MarketingConsultant443 are less memorable than DavisMarketingChicago.
    5. Then click “Create my Twitter account”
    6. Upload a photo (people connect better to pictures of people, but you could also use your logo)
    7. Add a background (a relevant landscape photo can work)
    8. Write a short bio. You may want to include some keywords that describe your work or interests, as well as something that makes you feel a bit more personable (“Father of 3. Longboard deck collector.)

Once you’ve created an account, start following some people and lurk on Twitter for a while. When you feel like you get the idea, try your hand at tweeting. You may want to write out some tweets ahead of time, then post them one at a time. You can experiment with replying to others, sending inbox messages and following conversations.

Related to Signing up for Twitter

Should I join Twitter?

Should you be on Facebook?

Consulting Fees

Professional email address names

 

 

Should I get a Twitter account?

Should I get a Twitter account? That’s the question a friend of mine asked recently. She was about to make a presentation at a conference and the organizers had asked for her Twitter handle. Although she knew what Twitter was, it wasn’t part of her typical social media use and she wondered what it might offer.

When she asked me “Should I get a Twitter account?”, I took some time to find out why she was asking. After all, the answer to whether you need a Twitter account varies.

Twitter, which launched in 2006, is a social media and news platform where users post and interact with messages. Messages on Twitter are called “tweets” and are limited to 140 characters. Brevity rules on Twitter.

Messages are sent directly to people when you put an @ symbol in front. If you write @usernamehere and then a message, it will be seen by that person, but it’s still visible to the larger world. If you put that @usernamehere into a message, such as “Hey @username here, this article on accounting might help you start your business”, it will also be seen in the Twitter feed of anyone reading the post.

People often use hashtags on Twitter (#consulting, for example) to create conversations that others can follow. So, if you want to know what’s happening in #consulting, #marketing, #Seattle or with the #WHO, you can search or click on those tags. You can add tags to your conversations to help others find them, too.

You may choose to follow people on Twitter, so that you get a sense of what topics are popular or what’s hitting the news. Here in Vancouver, when an earthquake rumbles, an accident occurs or even fireworks burst, people will search Twitter to see if anyone else has mentioned the situation. News, business events and laws may also be topics of conversation, along with scientific discoveries, magazine articles and entertainment. If people think about it, it’s probably on Twitter.

If you decide to start posting on Twitter, it can help with building your profile — assuming you get in front of the right audience. I’ve used Twitter to make business connections, generate blog traffic, share information, get media interviews and build my profile.

Since Tweets are so short, it takes very little time to write a tweet. It’s less commitment than writing blog posts, articles or taking part in other marketing.

That being said, if you’re going to do Twitter right, you need to have a goal, a target audience, key messages and a plan for using it. Like anything else, it may or may not work for you. It’s always better to choose effective campaigns for your business than to do something poorly.

Do you have a Twitter account? Would you recommend it to others?

Related
Should I become a marketing consultant?
What is free publicity?
Should you be on Facebook?

Consulting Fees

Inbound marketing for small businesses

Inbound marketing for small businesses – that’s the art of getting clients to come to you. When many people think of marketing, they think of pushy salespeople. But that’s more of an old school approach. Many small businesses increasingly pursue inbound marketing techniques that bring clients to them.

With inbound marketing, small businesses – and organizations of all sizes – make it easy for clients to find them and interact with them.

Inbound marketing brings clients and customers in

Instead of pushing your business at customers, inbound marketing puts you and your businesses where those clients are, so that you can start establishing and building a relationship based on trust. Inbound marketing means:

  • Creating and distributing content
  • Developing lifecycle-based marketing and relationship tools for every step of the customer relationship and lifecycle
  • Tailoring and personalizing content to the individuals in your audience
  • Approaching people in the channels where they want to interact, how they want to interact
  • Integrating content and messages throughout all your tools and media
  • Getting permission to keep the relationship going

Inbound marketing examples for small businesses

Some examples of inbound marketing – used by small businesses and even large ones – include:

  • Blogs
  • Articles
  • Whitepapers
  • Videos
  • Presentations
  • Speaking
  • Event marketing
  • Search engine optimization
  • Social media
  • Pay per click advertising
  • Content marketing

Inbound marketing builds trust

With inbound marketing, you provide the information clients need, as they need it, where they need it. By holding out trustworthy, well-developed content, you establish your business as an authority and a brand of trust.

How do you market to your clients?

Related to inbound marketing

7 terrible secrets revealed by your email address (and how to fix them)

When it comes to your personal and business brand, your professional email address may be undoing all your hard work. Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of email addresses – and I’ve had a chance to make observations through the eyes of hiring manager, consultant, client, volunteer and colleague.

Your email address brands you, even when you’re not working

If you want to be professional, you have to think about how your email address represents you. Even if you’re merely using your email address for personal reasons, it’s likely that many members of your business network see your personal address. That’s because everyone you contact becomes a member of your network:
  • Store owner who runs the mailing list for specials
  • Yoga instructor who sends you a mailer on upcoming classes
  • Meetup group you joined and never managed to attend
  • Parent class rep at your kids’ school – and  everyone on the shared contact sheet
  • Dating site people you saw once
  • Parent you met at the park and decided to join for coffee, since you both work in the same industry
  • Friend you met at fitness class, who knows about how to set up that thing on the computer
  • Guy you met at the charity event, who mentioned he could send you a discount code for an event at the art gallery
Most of those people may not profile as “business” or “professional” contacts, per se, but they’re part of your network and thus your professional life. In fact, even if you’re on mat leave, still in college, backpacking, vacationing, parenting, socializing or otherwise wearing your “non-career” hat, the contact you make may influence your future career and business. It’s all marketing and networking.

Consulting Course - Become a Consultant - Learn to Consult

7 terrible secrets revealed by common email address mistakes

These common email address mistakes can mar your reputation:
  1. Too flirty. You’ve got some flirty, cutesy or otherwise goofy email address, leftover from college, your Internet dating days or a drunken moment at Gmail – hotsexythang@domainname.com and coolseattleguy@madeupdomain.com.
  2. Shared with your life partner, meaning you have no separate identity, control issues, a domineering partner, computer skills too weak to manage your own account or some other “issue” people dream up – robandjulie@mytownslocalISP.com.
  3. Too generic. You put a date in your address to set you apart – jane2007@gmail.com.
  4. Make you look less than brilliant. Unless you’re flickr, a modified spelling looks like you either created your address in desperation or that you can’t spell – consltnt@gmail.com or propaytner@hotmail.com.
  5. Nonsensical. youcanseetheanswer@gmail.com or rotememoryrobots@yahoo.com.
  6. Unbranded. If you have a business or a professional career, it’s a mistake to use a generic email account, such as Hotmail or Yahoo – newyorkfloriststore@yahoo.com or rsmith.consultant@hotmail.com.
  7. Spam filter nightmare. Many email filters are set up to look for numbers, underscores, and superlative adjectives. Even if you can handle the branding issues, your email may end up in the junk mail bin – angela_coopersmith1980@gmail.com.  

5 remedies for common email address mistakes

Relax – there are several solutions for typical email address mistakes:

  1. Get your own email account, if you’re sharing one. Your ISP and gmail offer a variety of options. Click here for my preferred provider – I’m an affiliate
  2. Change the name of your existing email account. Your ISP may help you. Or you can easily set up a new Gmail account.
  3. Set up additional profiles if you use Microsoft Outlook.
  4. Forward all your email to the account you check most, if you don’t know how to set up more than one profile on Outlook or your smartphone.
  5. Purchase a domain name and set up an email address to match. You can do this even if you do not run your own business. Consider jane@realestatemagic.com or dsmith@atlantabanker.com, for example. Click here for my preferred provider – I’m an affiliate.

It gets even worse

I wrote this article on common email address mistakes because of a random discovery on LinkedIn. For years, I’ve recoiled in mock horror upon seeing women sharing their husband’s email addresses. But then I saw something that shocked me even more. For whatever reason, it seemed even worse than the usual email address mistakes. I saw a husband and wife sharing a single LinkedIn account. It made no sense to me. Why would you share a career profile on a virtual resume site? It boggles my mind. But more on LinkedIn (and Twitter) later.
What deadly email address mistakes have you spotted? What tips do you have?
 Note: all email address given are fictitious and were generated for the purposes of this article. No connection to a real living or dead person or existing or closed business is made or implied. Any connection is purely coincidental.

Know what to charge? Get the expert Consulting Fees Guide here

Making a great first impression

Making a great first impression can make a big difference to your career. This guest post by Tim Grayling gives you 10 tips for making sure that first impression counts in your favour.

When it comes to landing the job of your dreams, enough can not be said about first impressions. Your education and job experience are a necessity when applying for the perfect job. These two factors are paramount, simply in giving you the opportunity to show why you are uniquely fit for the job you desire. Once you have secured a job interview the position is ultimately yours for the taking. All that is left is for to make and outstanding great impression on the person interviewing you. Keep in mind a few simple tips and you can ensure that you are viewed in a positive light; positioned to be the candidate of choice when it comes to the final hiring decision.

  1. Always be prepared. Plan ahead for your interview. There is a good chance that the person interviewing you already has a copy of your resume and a list of references; all the same, bring those along yourself just in case. Plan to discuss how your formal education has helped to make you uniquely qualified for the position you are applying for. Contemplate what makes you stand out.
  2. Dress for success. When choosing what to wear for your interview keep in mind the type of job that you are applying for. Generally speaking, it is best to dress as you would if you where already an employee. While you may look amazing in a tuxedo or in a formal evening dress, this is probably not the best choice when applying for a banker position. Conversely, what impression would be made if you showed up to that very same interview wearing a t-shirt and jeans? Know the job setting, and dress accordingly.
  3. Be on time. The very first impression that you will make to your prospective employer is that of your punctuality. Plan to arrive ten minutes early for your interview. You want to be appropriately early, not too early. Showing up for an interview too early is nearly as damaging to your first impression as showing up late.
  4. Make eye contact. While being interviewed, make certain to maintain positive eye contact. This is not to say that it is a good thing to coldly stare at your prospective employer. Rather, when speaking, maintain eye contact with your interviewer. This conveys a level of sincerity behind your words.
  5. Open body language. There is far more to a conversation than the words you choose. The way you present yourself will have a huge impact on the how you are perceived. Avoid closing your body off, for example, crossing your arms or sitting turned away from your interviewer. These subtle gestures will nearly unconsciously close down any open lines of communication.
  6. Courtesy goes a very long way. No matter what happens during your interview always maintain appropriate, professional, courtesy. How we maintain ourselves during an interview says a lot about our character. Make sure that you are conveying a message of respectful confidence at all times.
  7. Take your time. When answering questions do not feel as though you have to produce an immediate and rapid response. Take a few seconds to think about the question. This will not only improve the quality of your answers and it will demonstrate that you are taking the interview question seriously.
  8. Do not talk money. When it comes to an interview, it is generally best never to bring up money. Before you stepped into the interview, you in all likelihood had a general idea of what the position would pay. Conversely, so does the person interviewing you. Realistically, no great gain is to be had when discussing compensation early on. There is a time and a place for everything. Once a hiring decision has been made, that is generally when this subject will arise. This is not to say that the subject is completely off limits during an interview; it is simply best practice not to be the one to bring it up.
  9. Do not forget to smile. Smiling is a basic human response. It generally conveys a sense of conformability. During your interview, make sure to put a little grin on your face. This shows your potential employer that you are at ease. When you are comfortable, there is a good chance that the person interviewing you will be comfortable as well.
  10. Parting words. Upon the conclusion of your interview, make certain to thank the interviewer. You have just been given a portion of that person’s time so that they could access your qualities. Thank them for this valuable opportunity and show that their gift was not wasted on you.

When it comes to getting the job of your dreams, making a lasting, positive first impression is of the utmost importance. Follow these 10 tips on making a great first impression and the interview process for you, will be one of ease.

This article was written by Tim Grayling on behalf of OnlineMBA.com which serves as an online resource for those seeking the best online MBA.

Have the confidence to see yourself as an expert

Have the confidence to see yourself as an expert. When thinking about whether to become an independent consultant, you may wonder whether you can really bill yourself as an expert.

Don’t get bogged down in the concept of being the absolutely best. Understand that there will always be someone who knows more than you about your industry. But you certainly know more than most people, and that’s what your clients value about you–to your clients, you are an expert. Have the confidence to see yourself as an expert.

For example, as a jury consultant, you know more about jury behaviour than almost all of the population. True, there may be a superstar jury consultant who has more experience than you, but you know a lot. Be confident and focus on what you do know.

The key is to have the confidence to see yourself as an expert by building your expert status in concrete ways. Wondering how? Subscribe to Consultant Journal’s newsletter and receive Six Tips for Jumpstarting Your Expert Status when you sign up.

Above all, you’ve got to have the confidence to see yourself as an expert. Have confidence in yourself and your clients will too.  Are you confident enough to consult?

Your confidence will grow over time. Give your confidence a boost and start building your expert status now.

Related posts: