6 Signs Your Business Idea Is Ready For Financing – Jared Hecht

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It’s thrilling to hit on a great idea for a business, and envision yourself at the helm of a lucrative new endeavor. Less thrilling, though, is the prospect of securing the necessary financing to get from idea to real-life CEO.

The truth is, finding the money to run a startup requires a lot of preliminary planning, regardless of whether you’re going to pursue outside funding or choose to bootstrap your first few months. Most startups looking elsewhere to kickstart their cash flow will have the best luck securing funding through their personal networks. You can look to an angel investor, a loan from friends or family or even crowdfunding. Alternatively, there’s also the option for a small business startup loan, another route entirely.

Regardless of which financing route you take, your potential investors need to see evidence that your idea is practically viable before they throw their hats into the ring. These six signs indicate that your business idea is ready for financing — and just might provide the evidence your potential investors need to be convinced.

1. Your idea serves a true, identified need

Your business isn’t going to work, let alone make money, if it doesn’t have a customer base. And, what’s more, if they don’t need whatever you’re creating. This may seem obvious, but many aspiring entrepreneurs get so caught up in the excitement of their big ideas that they fail to plan for how that idea will function in the real world.

Before you jump into the financing process, you need to identify your target customer segment and understand their behavior. You should design your product or idea to deliver a solution to a problem that those customers are facing.

While we’re on the subject of product: You need to know what that product or sevice is, how it works and how you’re going to sell it. You’ve identified potential problems that may arise with your product, or barriers you may come up against in the market, and you have a game plan for troubleshooting those snags.

Then, you need to perform due diligence in your industry. Determine exactly how you’ll situate your business within the existing market, understand how your product can shift and grow along with it, and differentiate yourself from competitors. And make sure your customers can afford your product or service.

2. You’ve tested out your product, and it works

Pay attention, especially to that second part. Very few lenders will feel comfortable investing their money into just an idea, no matter how enticing it might be.

Your business idea is ready for financing when you have material evidence to bring to your investors’ table, whether it’s a prototype of a physical product or a beta version of a program or website. Be ready to present any data, reviews or research you’ve acquired after testing out that product, too. And if that data isn’t favorable, you might need to go back to the drawing board.

3. You have a business model and plan

If your business model is the what, your business plan is the why.

Your business model indicates your business’s revenue streams, and your business plan lays out how you’re going to acquire those revenue streams. How is your business’s leadership team organized, and how is your business legally structured? What kind of equipment, staffing and marketing plan do you need to operate your business and generate income?

Both your business model and plan provide proof, both to yourself and to any potential lenders, that your business idea is practical and operable.

4. And you have a financial plan, too

Whether you’re pitching an investor or seeking a small business loan through a lender, your financier will want to see how you plan on using that potential money. You can’t just ask for money as an entrepreneur. You need to know exactly how much money you need, why you need it and how you’ll use it.

That’s especially true if you seek financing through an angel investor. Since these individuals lay their own money on the line to fund your startup, they need to be sure your venture is sustainable, eventually lucrative and that you’ll use their resources wisely.

Poor financial planning, or no financial planning, certainly can’t convince potential lenders of your business acumen. So, draw up a financial road map that projects exactly how you’ll get from point A — where you and your resources are now — to point B, where you hope to be within the next one to five years.

Be sure to include a detailed plan of your projected business expenses, or how much capital it’ll take to get your business idea off the ground, and your operating expenses, or how much it’ll cost to keep that business going.

5. You’ve recruited a qualified team to execute on your vision.

Even if you created your business idea on your own, in reality, every entrepreneur needs help kicking off, then operating, their startups.

Before you seek financing, recruit a capable and qualified management team to run your business, or have a hiring plan in place to do so ASAP. And if you don’t have enough relevant experience in the field yourself, you’ll need to gather a team of partners or mentors to fill the gaps in your knowledge. It’s crucial to acknowledge you can’t do and know everything yourself.

6. You can prove you spend money responsibly

Although you might not have a way to prove you’re responsible with business financing yet, you want to make sure you’re positioning yourself to create a track record so investors and lenders can trust you.

Even if you start with seed money from close friends, or crowdfunding from Kickstarter for your business idea, you may need to seek additional financing through a larger venture round or a small business lender. That’s where the proof becomes necessary. For instance, if you’re working with a lender, they’ll want to know that your business is capable of repaying your debt before extending you a loan. And any other investor will want to know that any money they give you will be spent responsibly, especially if they’re expecting returns.

One of the best ways you can do that is to cultivate a healthy financial profile, and keep a high business credit score. Open a business credit card, and follow best practices to improve your credit score, like paying all your bills in full and on time and regularly checking your credit reports for errors.

Then, the proof will be in the numbers. Alongside a squeaky-clean track record and a strong personal credit score, a great financial history will position you for the financing your growing small business needs, whether that’s new term sheet, or maybe a gold-standard SBA loan.

For aspiring entrepreneurs, sometimes the hardest thing isn’t coming up with innovative ideas, it’s knowing which of those ideas are worthy of financing. Watch out for these six signs to know when you’re ready to seek the financing you need to turn that big idea into a reality.

If everyone who reads our articles and likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as $5, you can donate us – Thank you.

Utilizing Exhibitions As A Market Development Tool – Omar Rahman

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Exhibitions can be used to cement your brand in existing markets, and build relationships with existing audiences, but do you use them as a market development tool- meaning to break into new markets, or reach new audiences in existing markets? The good news is that you can do that, and here are two key approaches.

Approach #1: Increasing sales in new geographical markets 

Attending exhibitions in a new region helps position you for that market, introducing your brand to new people in a new context. Clearly, it isn’t as simple as just turning up, so let’s look at the specifics your business needs to know about exhibiting in new geographies.

1. Research first When you enter a new geography, the audience might be very different from your current audience. If you don’t understand that audience deeply, exhibiting will prove a wasted investment because your conversion rates from attendee to lead to sale will be abysmal.

So, to ensure your exhibition doesn’t miss the market you need to research. Data, not intuition, should guide your decision to enter new territories. Which sounds obvious, except a CEB (now Gartner) survey found that only 11% of markets use data for customer decision-making.

The first research should happen before you decide to exhibit. The question is whether the market is worth entering. As the ‘Cracking New Markets’ whitepaper puts it, ‘look at the current and potential application of your product, competitors and positioning in the market’.

Assuming you’ve decided you do want to move into Poland or China or wherever, you then need to conduct extensive research into your buyer personas, to understand who they are, why they buy, and how to appeal to them.

Make that knowledge felt in every aspect of your next exhibition: in your stand design, in training your sales team, in your sales funnel, in your promotional material, and in any gifts you give away on the day.

2. Leverage influencers The Harvard Business Review talks about how Nike changed their perception as an ‘amateur’ to achieve ‘the business equivalent of sinking three successive holes in one’ when entering the golf market in 1995. Their secret? Nike have a consistent formula for growth that they execute again and again, part of which is securing endorsement from major celebrities in their new target space. In this case, Tiger Woods.

Although Nike is extraordinary in focusing on new customer segments, new products, new distribution channels and new geographical markets near-simultaneously, the point stands. When you’re entering any new market, securing external endorsement creates credibility. Make sure your next exhibition packs a punch by aligning yourself to influencers in that new geography.

There are several ways influencers can then help you boost your credibility– and also exhibition attendance and product sales. They could promote your brand/products/exhibition through social media and their own email list. They might add their image and testimonial to on-the-day promotional material and subsequent advertising. They could attend your exhibition themselves and meet attendees. They might even be the ‘prize’ in a competition for attendees (‘A day with Richard Branson’, for example).

3. Generate excitement Global consultancy McKinsey observes, ‘Companies that harness word-of-mouth effects […] and get their brands onto shoppers’ shortlists for initial consideration are more likely to capture the loyalty of emerging-market consumers’. That adage is true when entering any new market, not just emerging ones. Capitalizing on initial activity with word-of-mouth helps increase your reach and build your credibility somewhere new.

Your next exhibition can be a lynchpin of that strategy, by giving attendees something special to talk about. For example

  • Special gifts
  • An exciting competition
  • A popular special guest
  • Cutting-edge technology
  • An immersive new experience

For your next exhibition, develop a ‘centrepiece’ that will help generate hype, then promote it relentlessly. Extend your event beyond on-the-day impact with pre-event promotion (to attract more visitors who are warmer and more likely to convert) and post-event promotion like announcing competition winners. Do everything possible to encourage social sharing on the day as well, to maximize your viral impact. Social booths or a social competition both work well.

Approach #2: Developing new market appeal in your existing market 

The second way to grow your business through market development is to reach new customers in your existing market, by altering the way your product is perceived to attract customers who would never have bought from you otherwise. For example, a software subscription service might offer a different pricing system for business users– opening up a new market without fundamentally changing the product. Or you might start selling a food product in individual packages instead of bulk-only, so you can appeal to the domestic demographic as well as industrial.

Exhibitions are well-suited to this because of their face-to-face nature. You can bring your new product vision to life through hands-on product demos and attentive sales reps, to help capture business from customers who originally didn’t fit your buying profile. Here are some guidelines to get this right.

1. Make product demos imaginative Exhibiting means you’re perfectly placed to earn credibility for new product uses. Done right, product demos can be much more impactful than standard how-to articles or videos because they allow prospects to really experience your product in that new light. But to achieve that impact, your product demos have to be imaginative and well-researched, to show genuine, credible and useful new uses or approaches.

For your next exhibition, bring your products to life in new ways. Consider leveraging technologies like VR or AR for maximum impact, and try to give customers a way to touch, feel and use your product for themselves. That way, customers who might never have considered your product before can imagine new possibilities. For your business, that means increased sales from new customers without developing new products or broaching new markets: that’s low-hanging fruit for business growth.

2. Focus on a single shift The big challenge when developing new market appeal is doing so without alienating current customers. Or as business leaders from 25 high-growth companies put it in the Harvard Business Review (HBR), ‘never put the core business at risk.’ Your focus should be on restraint. As the HBR concludes, ‘although [these business leaders] constantly scanned for opportunities, they pursued only one at a time’.

For your next exhibition, aim to develop new appeal along a single fault-line. Add more than one new focus and you confuse your core message and risk your relationship with core customers.

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3. Differentiate clearly As above: never put your core business at risk. That means you should continue to serve your existing market with the same rigour as ever. There are three main ways to do this at your next exhibition.

First, attend a new exhibition where you can cater to those new customers. This works if there’s an event that specifically targets your new customers but not your current ones. A good example is moving from B2B to embrace B2C. Second, show two separate exhibition stands for both parts of the business, current and new.

This works well when you’ve got different business units to cater to these new customers, which is often effective if new customers are very different from current customers, as in the B2B/B2C example. Businesses like IBM and HP have had plenty of success like this. Third, your least ideal but also least expensive option is to take two teams, create two sets of marketing materials, have two sales patters, and so on, at the same stand.

In the end, the more you differentiate, the better.

Exhibitions play a vital role in business growth through market development 

Events are an incredibly valuable market development tool to break into new markets and unlock new customers in existing markets. Your main challenge will be gaining traction, building credibility and earning trust among new buyers– without threatening your core business. But follow the advice outlined here and you’ll be well-placed to make your next exhibition a market development success.

If everyone who reads our articles and likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as $5, you can donate us – Thank you.

Starbucks Is Now Open for Loitering and It’s a Terrible Business Decision – Gene Marks

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Starbucks, in an effort to walk back from the recent bad press it received, has just made a terrible business decision. Did you catch it? According other reports, the company, in a letter to its employees this past weekend, said that “any person who enters our spaces, including patios, cafes and restrooms, regardless of whether they make a purchase, is considered a customer.”

Starbucks employees were told to follow company procedures for people that are acting in a “disruptive manner,” particularly when there’s a potential safety concern. The company is also asking its customers to “behave in a manner that maintains a warm and welcoming environment by using spaces as intended, being considerate of others and communicating with respect.” That’s fine for “customers.” But if a guy’s not buying any coffee how can you call him a customer?

It’s a terrible mistake and it should be a fascinating business lesson, not only for the giant coffee chain but for the thousands of smaller, independent coffee shops, merchants and restaurant owners that operate around the country. Why?

First of all, consider my local Starbucks (which by coincidence is the one located at 18th and Spruce Streets in Philadelphia, where the now infamous racial incident that occurred last month). I go there all the time. Unfortunately, so do lots and lots of homeless people who sleep the nights in nearby Rittenhouse Square looking to use their bathroom or to get a cup of water.

The employees at that location are great — always providing but then politely moving them along. (Let’s please not get into a homeless debate here: It’s a terrible and sad problem. But anyone who lives in a city like me knows the best thing to do is to contribute to organizations who can provide food, clothing and medical care for this population.)

Once word of this new policy spreads — and it will spread quickly — my expectation is that this location will be residence for many indigent people…all day long. If you were homeless, wouldn’t you do the same? As long as you’re “considerate of others” and “communicating with respect” (whatever that means) you can sit there from opening to closing and enjoy warmth, security, a bathroom and as much water as you can drink.

It’ll be interesting to see the impact this has on all the other customers who use that location as a place to meet friends, study or relax with a latte and a book. My prediction: Bye-bye, Starbucks.Secondly, what will Starbucks do if the policy fails? Has this really been thought through? Was it even tested during this past month? Please, don’t ever do this in your business.

Yes, we all sympathize with the homeless, but do you sympathize so much that you would sit next to someone who’s been living rough (and smells like it) after spending six bucks on a Frappuccino? And what about their employees? Does the company realize just how much more difficult their jobs will become? Will Starbucks lose valuable people due to the added stress from adding “policeman” and “psychiatrist” to their already long list of job duties? I think so.

There is potentially good news from this decision, particularly if you’re one of the thousands of coffee shop, store or restaurant owners around the country. It’s quite possible that the influx of homeless or other people who aren’t paying but use Starbucks like a bus station waiting room will drive existing Starbucks customers to you.

But then again, it’s possible that the Seattle chain’s supposed “benevolence” may force you into doing the same — or bear the wrath of activist groups, social media trolls and bad headlines. Will this force the many independent business of chains like Subway and Dunkin’ Donuts to do the same? Ugh.

So let’s see how this plays out. I’m ready to buy my coffee at any of the dozens of local merchants nearby if my local Starbucks becomes uncomfortable or undesirable. You know what? I should be doing that already.

If everyone who reads our articles and likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as $5, you can donate us – Thank you.

How Women Can Rebound From a Huge Work Mistake – Career Contessa

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Made a mistake at work? Don’t freak. Follow this strategy to fix it. I still remember the first mistake I made in my professional career. I was a White House intern and I was asked to edit an Excel document filled with addresses for the president’s Christmas cards.psychology of

There must have been thousands of addresses on the sheet, and I was supposed to edit the informal phrases — like “St.” and “P.O. Box” — to their formal equivalent (“Street” and “Post Office Box”). I wanted to find a quick solution, so I used the “Find and Replace” feature to quickly find and replace all informal words with the formal ones. It might have been a great solution, but I made a mistake — I didn’t realize that many names would also be changed as a result. So, Steven Potter became Streeteven Post Office Boxtter.

Unfortunately, mistakes happen. They happen in your personal life and they are bound to happen in your professional life, too. Some mistakes may even be out of your control — but what you can control is how you react and recover from your mistake.

Luckily, I was able to learn an effective and appropriate strategy for fixing a mistake early in my career. Here’s what I learned.

1. Calm down.

Making a big mistake is unnerving, and you’ll be able to think more clearly if you’ve calmed down first. I recommend taking a walk around the block or listening to your favorite song. Take a few deep breaths and reassure yourself that everything will be OK. You’ll be better at thinking clearly and finding a solution to the problem if you are calm.

2. Identify a solution.

Don’t come to your manager or team with a problem. Come with a solution. In my case, the solution was restoring the document to the original draft. Auto-restore wasn’t working, so I decided I would stay late until everything was fixed. Identify two or three ways that you can fix your mistake.

Don’t start implementing the plan until after you talk to the team. They may have suggestions, and will probably want to be kept in the loop as you move forward. Regardless of the outcome, people will be impressed by your proactivity and willingness to take accountability for the mistake.

3. Tell your manager.

It will be much better if the news is coming from you, not someone else. Don’t try to hide your mistake in the hope that no one will find out. Calmly explain the mistake and outline your plan for fixing it. Take responsibility and don’t blame other people. Even if it is a group mistake, be accountable for your part in it.

Your manager and team may have constructive criticism and feedback. Listen carefully to the feedback and show that you’ve acknowledged it. One good technique is to repeat what your manager has said to you. It shows that you are listening and also will help you remember the feedback in the future.

4. Create an action plan.

Reflect on the mistake and how you handled it. Create an action plan for how you can improve in the future. For example, if you missed an important client deadline, write down three or four ways that you can stay more organized. You might write all of your deadlines on a Post-it Note on your computer screen, while also adding them as tasks on your calendar, so you get an email reminder a few days ahead of time. You could also ask team members how they stay organized, and adopt some of their habits.

5. Move on.

Making a mistake may decrease your confidence. It’s important to recognize that you are human, and mistakes happen. Reframe the mistake in a positive light by acknowledging how it’s led you to make changes that will improve your performance in the long run. As James Joyce once said, “Mistakes are the portals of discovery.” Don’t take yourself too seriously.

I had to see the humor in my situation. I still sometimes sign Facebook posts or emails to my White House intern friends as “Streeteven Post Office Boxtter”. At the end of the day, the holiday cards went out, and it wasn’t the Excel spreadsheet that stole Christmas.

It’s helpful to remember that mistakes often happen when you are stressed out. Make sure to take good care of yourself and practice self-love at work. Everyone makes mistakes, but not everyone handles them maturely. Follow these five tips to gracefully and maturely handle and learn from your mistakes in the future.

If everyone who reads our articles and likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as $5, you can donate us – Thank you.

8 Keys to Coming Off As The Expert In Whatever You Sell – Marc Wayshak

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The most successful salespeople in the world don’t come across as salespeople at all. Instead, they carry themselves as experts in their industry who can solve key challenges for their ideal prospects. Simply put, if you’re in the business of selling, then you’re an expert in whatever you sell. It’s up to you to make sure your prospects know it.

While your prospects only see what’s going on at their own companies, you can offer them a valuable bird’s eye view of trends across the entire industry. But do your customers see it that way? If not, it’s because you’re coming off as salesy instead of as an expert.

The following eight simple keys will help you build a reputation as an expert in whatever you sell, so you can earn prospects’ trust and start to crush your sales goals:

1. Don’t think like a salesperson.

If you want to come across as an expert to your prospects, you must first stop being salesy. That means you have to stop thinking like a salesperson. When you think like a salesperson, you jump at any chance to pitch your product or service. Instead, slow down and listen. Strive to identify if your prospects are a fit in the first place. Thoughtful intentionality is the first step towards being viewed as an expert in the eyes of your customers.

2. Adopt a doctor’s mindset.

Instead of thinking like a salesperson, try adopting the mindset of a doctor. I’ve never met a doctor who used a pitch like, “We have this incredible new procedure that I just can’t wait to tell you about! It’s going to change everything!” Rather, good doctors ask questions to make sure they truly understand your pain before making a diagnosis. Mimic this approach by making it your goal to fully understand your prospects’ deepest frustrations before you ever propose a solution.

3. Lose the P.E.P.

Most salespeople are full of P.E.P. — Persuasion, Enthusiasm and Pitching. They’ve been told that this is the key to closing more sales, but it simply isn’t true. If you have to persuade a prospect, then that prospect probably isn’t a good fit for what you sell. Enthusiasm comes off as salesy and insincere. And pitching is the opposite of trying to understand a prospect’s problem. Instead of turning your sales meeting into a P.E.P. rally, adopt a genuine approach that seeks to understand and diagnose key challenges. When you do, prospects will view you as an expert they can trust.

4. Share challenges you’ve observed.

As an expert, you have valuable industry information that your prospects would love to know. Capture their attention and increase your perceived value by sharing some of that information at the start of your conversations with prospects. Try listing a few examples of challenges you’ve seen in their industry. This will provide value, give the prospect something to relate to and serve as a launching-pad for some great discussion.

5. Ask about their challenges.

Once you’ve shared a few common challenges you’ve observed, simply ask, “Do any of these challenges ring true to you?” Simple questions like this create more value when you sell, in addition to engaging prospects and encouraging them to open up to you. If you can get someone to articulate a challenge that they’ve yet to share with anyone else, you’ll immediately gain respect as an authority in your field who can tap into, and ultimately resolve, big problems.

6. Know when to walk away.

What do you do if you ask, “Do any of these challenges ring true to you?” and your prospect answers “no?” Well, if a prospect doesn’t have the challenges you can solve, then it’s probably not a good fit. When this happens, you must be willing to disqualify. Walk away without looking back so that you can spend your time with qualified prospects instead. Customers will respect and trust you more when they notice you aren’t trying to push a product they don’t need.

7. Remember the 15 percent rule.

Salespeople should never talk for more than 15 percent of a meeting. Talking doesn’t put you in control of a conversation; great questions do. Engaged body language, thoughtful questions and small prompts such as, “really?” are all great tools to keep the customer talking. Follow this rule, and prospects will view you as a thoughtful listener and an expert.

8. Never need a sale.

In all fairness, there may be times when you really do need a sale to pay your bills, but prospects should never be able to tell. When you come across as successful and confident, prospects will believe you don’t need their business. Instead, you’re simply meeting with them because you think your offering will truly help them. Relaxed confidence is attractive to prospects, and an air of success will suggest that you’re an established expert in your field.

You’re already an expert in your industry. Now it’s time to act like one. Which of these keys will you use to establish yourself as an expert in the eyes of your prospect? Take this free 1-Minute Sales Strengths-Finder Quiz for even more insight into improving your sales strategy.

If everyone who reads our articles and likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as $5, you can donate us – Thank you.

 

How To Make Profit By A Simple Adsense Loophole Madsense Reborn

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The real secret to profits in ANY niche is to go against the grain. So while people are running away from Adsense … we’re running TOWARDS it. Abdullah showed me and Gaurab his SIMPLE Adsense method that flat-out worked for anyone who used it.

Most people follow outdated traffic methods such as SEO, setting up backlinks, buying ranking fiverr gigs and creating special “SEO Friendly” Content. And then after doing all that, they MAYBE get 100 visitors if they’re lucky …

Visitors that DON’T convert and if that’s not enough, Google wakes up one day and slaps the shit out of your website and all your backlinks and when that happens, you lose everything.

As our new mini-sites started topping 6 figures in profits, we began sharing this strategy with coaching students… and have now created MULTIPLE success stories with our method.

In fact, what I’m about to show you, has been selling for up to $997 on private webinars to students around the world and it’s the EXACT system that we use. Over time, we’ve tweaked the system to add even more profitable loopholes  shortcuts. And this system is what can change your life once and for all.

Just imagine life when you’re making an extra 5K each month … in under 30 minutes ‘work’ per day?You can live off of it, scale it and reach six figures like my partner Abdullah does or you can simply take it easy and invest in your “main” business like Ecom, Softwares, CPA or anything that requires a budget.

 Here’s an overview of the system and your training modules. (videos)

Module #1 – Engage The Profit Machine

MODULE #2 – Done For You, Downloadable, Customizable & Profitable Mini Site

Module #3 – Shortcuts To HQ Content

Module #4 – Adsense Setup

Module #5 – Simple Traffic

Module #6 – “Predictable Stairway Scaling” – NO RISK AT ALL

Module #7 – The Free Traffic Hack

Module #8 – Tripling Profits With Retargeting (NO RISK WAY)

 

  • Anyone can do this and get fantastic results
  • Adsense Is an easy way to make money if you know what you’re doing, and highly targeted, risk free paid traffic is the way to do so.
  • Get started with a budget of only $5 and you’re set or even try out free traffic alternatives.
  • No technical skills required at all, everything is explained so clearly in the modules so that you can get started as quickly as possible.
  • Unlimited potential, some people are making mid six figs with it on the SIDE..No kidding.

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3 Sales Meeting Mistakes You Don’t Know You’re Making

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Running effective sales meetings doesn’t come naturally to me. Over time, I’ve learned how to structure them in a way that takes advantage of my introverted nature and my natural awkwardness. But, if you’re still trying to find your own path, you’ll enjoy learning from the conversation I had recently with Jill Konrath.

Konrath is an international sales speaker who was named one of the most influential sales experts of the 21st century by LinkedIn (where she currently has more than 350,000 followers). She’s also the author of four best-selling books — More Sales, Less Time; Agile Selling; SNAP Selling; and Selling to Big Companies — and she’s worked with companies like GE, Microsoft, IBM and Staples.

Konrath has also been doing a lot of work recently on the topic of mastering sales meetings, so I was eager to pick her brain. Below are three common sales meeting mistakes that came up in our conversation.

1. You don’t understand the goal of a sales meeting.

The goal of a sales meeting is to get the sale, right? Not according to Konrath.

“A lot of salespeople think that their goal is to explain their product and service, to tout their capabilities and to differentiate themselves from their competitors,” she told me. “The real purpose of a sales meeting is to generate interest in continuing the conversation and to determine if you or your product or service can truly make a difference to that person and to that company.”

Are you still trying to hard sell on your first interaction with a prospect? If so, you should take a step back and test a softer approach.

2. You don’t really know who your competitors are.

So how did we get it so wrong? How did so many of us come to this mistaken impression about what it really takes to run an effective sales meeting?

In my experience, one big problem is that too many of us copy what we see our competitors doing. They offer a free consultation; we do too. They focus on the features and benefits of their products; we do the same.

The problem, of course, is that your competitors may not be any more effective than you are. They may have different value propositions, or be selling to different types of customers. Furthermore, according to Konrath, you may not really be competing against others in your industry in the first place.

“Your competitor is the status quo, number one,” she said. “The first thing that you have to be able to do is to help people understand why the status quo is not good enough for helping them achieve their future goals or objectives. That should be the number one focus on any initial call. Remember, people are not necessarily buying in the first meeting. In fact, very few do. What you need to do is get people to the point where they say, ‘Geez, we really need to take a look at this.’”

As a side note, there are tools out there that can help with the process of sales call targeting and messaging. Konrath likes Rambl.ai, though there are similar products available to suit different needs/budgets.

3. You aren’t prepared.

During our meeting, Konrath shared a sobering statistic, courtesy of Forrester Research: Of 319 executive-level buyers surveyed, “Only 20 percent of the salespeople they meet with are successful in achieving their expectations and creating value.”

Understandably, according to Konrath “If you”ve got a meeting with an important buyer, and you’re not prepared, the chances of you having a second meeting are really slim.”

So, how do you prepare? Reading up on the company is part of it, as is learning more about the specific people you’ll be speaking with. Using this information to prepare relevant case studies and examples to share in your sales calls is a good idea, as well.

In addition, use your preparation to come up with the specific questions you’ll ask during your call.

Not only will this demonstrate your level of preparedness, it’ll enable you to drive the conversation in a way that gets prospects engaged. Konrath gives the example of the kinds of questions she’d ask a tech company aiming to reduce its time to market:

  • How important is it for you to be able to shrink your time to market on a new product launch?
  • How are you currently handling your product launches?
  • People doing launches [a certain] way, Konrath said she’d tell a tech company, experience “these kinds of problems.” Her question: “Are you guys running into these problems?”
  • What are your objectives related to this?
  • What are you trying to achieve in 2018 in this area?
  • What’s coming up the pike that is related to this? Or how big a priority for you is reducing time to market in your organization  this coming year?

Customize questions like these to your company and its products, according to the research you’ve done. Use them to get prospects excited about your solution. If you can do that, the rest of your sales process will fall naturally into place.

If everyone who reads our articles and likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as $5, you can donate us – Thank you.

To Be a Better Salesperson, Master Your Ego and Bend Time – David Meltzer

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In the early ’90s, my first job out of law school had me selling legal research at Westlaw, where I was trained by Mike Bosworth, a solutions selling expert. He taught me that a good salesperson needs to have two important characteristics: empathy and ego.

I believe that this approach is outdated, as ego and empathy are related in my view, and this formula certainly needs to be upgraded. There’s another important factor to be added that Bosworth did not consider when it comes to achievement in business: time.

There are two things that often get in our way when it comes to sales, business, or life: our perception of self (our ego) and our perception of time.

Leggo my ego

The ego has illusionary needs, which can create a waste of your time and energy. The ego also has the need to be right or to be offended. It can cause you to feel a need to be separate, inferior or superior. Ego can cause fear, guilt or shame. It will have you searching for recognition over achievement.

These needs cause you to react in inefficient or ineffective ways. This is why it’s necessary to utilize the following tools that will counteract your ego:

  • Gratitude gives us perspective.
  • Empathy brings forgiveness for ourselves and others.
  • Accountability provides control over everything that’s attracted to our lives.
  • Effective communication lets us draw upon inspiration and share it with others.

When it comes to communication, there are two types of people: One type manipulates, and the other inspires. What’s the difference between the two? Ego.

Ego can hamper any type of relationship, from business to personal, so use those four tools to keep it in check.

Time, activity and productivity

The missing component in my mentor’s sales philosophy was a perception or understanding of time.

I’m sure you’re familiar with this phrase: “Time equals money.” I believe that the way we utilize time is actually what equals money. There’s no such thing as linear time. Like ego, it’s an illusion.

Time in business is directly related to two things: your productivity and your accessibility.

Making optimal use of your time allows you to be productive. It also allows you to be accessible, to be of service. Understanding time pushes you to ask for help when you need it (which saves you time), or to pitch in and help others when necessary (which saves them time).

The best way to “bend” or maximize time is to be a student of your calendar. Now, most people think this simply means you need to look at your calendar at least twice a day. But, no matter how many times you check your calendar, if you’re a busy person, you’re going to forget when things are scheduled, or what events are taking place.

To be a student of your calendar takes consistency, in order to raise your awareness of what’s going on in the organization around you. People who do this are better able to take advantage of the opportunities that are being attracted to them.

Study your calendar both in the morning and at night. Ponder efficiencies and potential problems, and prepare to make adjustments.

You’ll see that your productivity changes and you become aware of new opportunities that exist and now are accessible to you. Equally important, you’ll discover new ways to save time.

In order to instill this strategy in my team, every morning I have a Hill Street Blues meeting (a police “roll call” briefing, for those who are too young to get the reference) where I go through my calendar and ask questions to ensure my employees are students of their calendar as well as the company agenda. This creates a collective belief in accessibility and leads the team to be more effective, efficient and statistically successful.

If I can, I do it, no matter how annoying it may be to others. “Do It Now” is a remedy for procrastination. It tends to take you twice as much time to finish a task if you don’t start right away. And the more you put it off, the less successful you tend to be in the end.

One example of this is email. If I can respond to an important (key word) email shortly after it comes in, I do it now. That way I don’t find myself swamped, overwhelmed and feeling begrudged, at the end of the day when I’m ready to go home, by a slew of emails that have accumulated.

No traps from ego or time

If you understand the traps of your ego and combat them with the tools of gratitude, empathy, accountability and effective communication you’ll soon be seeing success in both business and your personal life.

Also focus on your perception of time, especially as it relates to productivity and accessibility. Learn to “bend time” by being a student of your calendar and practicing the “Do It Now” strategy every day.

If everyone who reads our articles and likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as $5, you can donate us – Thank you.

How Blockchain Technology Is Helping Remodel the Private Equity Industry – Peter Daisyme

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Private equity investment funds have made many people and institutional investors billions. However, structural issues prevent all parties from experiencing the full benefits of this powerful investment vehicle.

Real estate investment has proven inaccessible to many investors across the marketplace. It has required massive initial buy-ins and/or intimate market knowledge for profitable participation.

Private equity today

Historically, private equity funds have been a reliable and steady source of income for investors and fund managers. Unlike public companies, a limited number of in-the-know partners hold private equity. Shares can’t be bought and sold on the stock market. Now, this is where shareholder governance and reporting are significantly easier. Unlike venture capital, private equity is traditionally used to invest in established businesses seeking to expand or restructure.

Therefore, a growth-oriented private equity fund invests the capital it raises in companies seeking growth capital to facilitate expansion, an acquisition strategy, and/or restructuring.  In addition to providing capital, the fund’s investment team will use its expertise to assist a portfolio company in achieving its growth goal.

After a prescribed amount of time, the fund divests its interests in the portfolio companies. Hence, this provides a return to the fund’s investors.  After divesting its holdings, the fund will be wound down. Then, the private equity firm will start a follow-on fund and repeat the cycle.

Stiff structure

In the past, this investment model has been successful. However, it also has struggled with several inefficiencies.

Private equity fund managers have sought to work with a relatively limited number of investors to minimize shareholder reporting needs. Hence, the amount of cash typically required for participation means only large institutional investors like pensions or wealthy individual investors can buy in. A huge portion of the investing world simply isn’t able to participate in this profitable investment structure.

Furthermore, private equity fund structures have defined liquidation deadlines. These deadlines drive certain behavior that isn’t always in the best interest of maximizing underlying asset value.  After the downturn, many funds liquidated their holdings. And, as a result, suffered tremendous losses. These structural deadline elements oftentimes constrain the investment manager from generating the best returns for their investors.

Blockchain token solutions

Blockchain’s immutable ledger can be used to tie real-world assets to tokens. This strategy combines the benefits of blockchain — its transparency, accessibility and security — with the reliability of real-world investments. Smart contracts and an immutable ledger means ownership of those real investments can be secured within the blockchain itself.

Cryptocurrency has made a few people very rich over the past six months. Yet, many tokens have experienced price drops almost as dramatic as their price increases.

People who need lower-risk investment opportunities have been shut out of the cryptocurrency boom. No one wants to sink a large portion of their kids’ college fund into a cryptocurrency that might be worthless tomorrow. This is where asset-backed blockchain tokens come into the picture.

A secure option for investment: Asset-backed tokens

Founded in 2012, Muirfield Investment Partners is a private equity firm. It will launch a TAO for a new generation of private equity investment. Murfield built MIF, a security asset token. And, a private equity real estate investment portfolio managed by the private equity real estate firm will back the token.

Initially, a limited number of U.S. accredited investors and non-U.S. approved parties will receive tokens. Then, public exchanges buy and sell MIF tokens. This can happen after a lock-out period of 90 days to a year. This groundbreaking model presents several opportunities.

Breaking the rigid structure of private equity investment

Tokenization allows a lower barrier of entry to participation. Anyone who owns just one token is participating in the fund.

Furthermore, tokenization allows liquidity that was previously impossible in private equity fund structuring. As a result, this helps optimize the private equity fund structure. Investors in need of redemptions can sell their tokens in exchanges. Someone else acquires the token.

Fund managers face far lighter redemption burdens under the tokenization model. Plus, the fund doesn’t have a liquidation deadline. Therefore, they can manage the fund far more efficiently and drive greater economic returns for their investors.

In fact, tokenization means no fund liquidation. Instead, managers can focus on maximizing the fund’s long-term net asset value rather than reaching a target exit date.

Now, Muirfield wants to improve the traditional private equity fund world. Tokenization opens this world up to a larger participant pool. As Thomas Zaccagnino, Founder of Muirfield Investment Partners, explained, “We are very excited to bring a new and much improved private equity investment structure to the market.

A structure offering better alignment between the investors and investment manager, improved ability to maximize assets values, and enhanced liquidity allowing investors the ability to control how long they participate in the growth of the underlying real estate portfolio.”

If everyone who reads our articles and likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as $5, you can donate us – Thank you.

How to Develop a Positive Relationship With Failure

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Entrepreneurs love few things more than their own ideas. These sparks of inspiration fuel the endless hours entrepreneurs devote to their businesses, and they compel investors to open their wallets in the hopes of making these ideas come to fruition. But even the greatest ideas can’t overcome fundamental flaws.

In 2017 alone, many concept-fueled businesses have shut their doors. Beepi, a used car marketplace, was founded on a great idea but stumbled under bad prioritization. Quixey, a digital app assistant, folded as competition flooded the market. Yik Yak, an anonymous social network whose popularity was underscored by its young user base and a valuation nearing $400 million at its peak, shut down after cyberbullies ran rampant.

The failures of these well-funded companies sent ripples throughout the startup world. But failure itself isn’t the problem — the inability to let go of a beloved idea is. Being an entrepreneur is all about having a healthy relationship with failure.

Failing to fail.

Many entrepreneurs are so fearful of ultimately failing to create a profitable and sustainable company that they overlook the smaller failures that litter the path to success. Failure can also be found in the lackluster marketing campaigns, ill-conceived software updates and rushed hiring decisions that occur while trying to realize an idea.

I’ve fallen in love with a lot of ideas, but I eventually gave up or put on hold the ones whose weaknesses became so noticeable that even I couldn’t deny them. For example, my company, ONTRAPORT, held Implementation Days to provide strategy, copy and design services to support our clients in launching successful marketing campaigns. We knew small business owners would benefit from this additional insight on top of the capabilities our software tools offered.

This concierge service program met with some real success; we had a few deeply happy customers who were thrilled with the above-and-beyond efforts of our staff. A few cried while talking to our employees.

Meanwhile, we had thousands of people waiting. We had let the program veer off course while trying to serve individuals instead of our broader audience. I looked at the numbers and had a hard conversation with myself, concluding that although I loved the program, the business was suffering. These few happy people weren’t covering our costs.

To deliver on our mission, I had to serve thousands and that required putting Implementation Days on the chopping block. I now make a point to cancel programs at the end of each year if they don’t make business sense or don’t result in worthwhile ROI. Determining which ones make the cut, as well as how to rebound from such a loss, isn’t easy, but a few steps can soften the blow.

1. Clarify why an idea must be abandoned.

The financial devastation of throwing good money after bad can’t be overstated. If an idea was once successful but is now struggling, its owner must attach a dollar amount to its current failure. To come up with the full cost, determine how much each stage of the process costs, how much it costs to pay your employees to do that work and how costly it would be to replicate the process in the future.

Then, ask yourself, “If I have $1,000 to spend, what will truly get me closer to my goal?” You may determine that it’s worthwhile to have your designers and writers implement marketing strategies for your customers because the results will outweigh the labor costs. Or you may, like me, come up with an alternative that still supports the goal. In our case, we decided to offer templates with guidance about copy and design strategy, allowing us to provide similar value to our customers, but at scale.

2. Don’t abandon the lessons hidden in the experience.

Failure is hard, which is why most people don’t want to go through it. Even watching other people fail is hard. My 1-year-old nephew is on the verge of walking, but he keeps losing his balance and falling. But he’d never learn to walk if people kept grabbing him before gravity took hold. There’s a payoff to his pain.

Likewise, if you’re going to fail, you might as well make it worth your while. Write down the skills you obtained as a result of your failure. Get competitive with yourself: Compare the current version of yourself to last year’s model. What are you now capable of doing differently to lead your company? What do you know now that makes you more valuable?

I did this at the end of 2015, a challenging year for my business. I found lots of problems, all of which were our own design. I could see exactly why we’d managed to find ourselves in the position we were in. However, we escaped layoffs and grew the company by 3 percent. Looking back, I realized that I hadn’t prioritized data and analytics in my decision-making; I had failed to incorporate the right KPIs and how they were reported.

Today, everyone in the company receives a Daily Stats email first thing in the morning with what we call “cash the plane” KPIs. We then set up better weekly, monthly and quarterly reporting for each of our teams during our weekly leadership meeting.

3. Develop a grateful mindset toward failure.

The idea of thinking of failure with gratitude may feel like salt in the wound. But without the failures of 2015 that forced us to look at what we were doing, our company wouldn’t have uncovered and resolved so many issues that would have prevented us from becoming the scalable business we are now.

I didn’t just get comfortable with the list I’d made of the lessons I’d learned. I sat down with a colleague and put our lists together. There was overlap, but we’d each zoned in on different failures and overlooked others. That meant there was even more learning to be done. We adjusted our perspective and began embracing a new attitude: “How can we be open to that?” There’s no longer a penalty attached to failure.

We also put our work in perspective. In our line of work, unlike that of doctors or firefighters, people’s lives aren’t in danger when we fail. Remembering that makes it easier to absorb the beauty of failure — it’s part of the cost of learning, and it’s why you’ll be paid more down the line. Failing as an entrepreneur is a lot like surviving the grueling rigors of a difficult college program: You pay thousands of dollars, get no breaks and endure lots of pressure. But the “Is it worth it?” question is answered at the end, when you wear that experience like a badge of honor.

Failure resembles grief: The only way out is through. And that makes sense because failure means grieving an idea that didn’t pan out the way you’d hoped. But evaluating the data, embracing the lessons and adjusting your attitude ensures that your failure will pay off with a much stronger company that can take a few blows and remain standing.

If everyone who reads our articles and likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as $5, you can donate us –  Thank you.