Sunday, January 30, 2011

14 Indicators that show you're Not Selling Interactively. Two fundamental practices of Interactive Selling.

Here are 14 signs you'll see if you're neglecting half your sales job:
1. There is a low frequency of contact. There aren't very many meetings, phone calls, or e-mails between you and the prospect. You had that one face-to-face, but between then and the upcoming meeting in which you expect to ask for the order, you haven't heard from the prospect, nor has she heard from you. She has no idea what you're cooking up, and you have no notion of whether she'll find it tasty.
2. You have unspoken assumptions and unasked questions. You consciously decide not to question the prospect about something you know is important, so as not to stir up trouble, raise doubts, take any more time than you already have, or open a can of worms you just don't want to deal with right now. How often do you later wish you'd asked about it—because it would have eliminated trouble, rather than stirring it up?
3. There are obvious expectation gaps. There are little disappointments and those awkward moments when one or both of you discovers that what you were thinking or expecting was quite different from what the other was thinking or expecting.
The expectation could be as simple as how long a given appointment would last, or as deal-busting as how high the price tag would be.
4. There is tension you can cut with a knife. The prospect distrusts you from the outset, not wanting to grant you very much time, or giving brief, largely useless answers. Or perhaps it happens later on, when he suddenly clams up and the flow of information drops to just a trickle. Sometimes it's you who doesn't trust the buyer, so you know exactly what it feels like when he doesn't trust you!
5. You forget there's a buying process going on. You get so wrapped up in qualifying the prospect, nailing down her needs, and crafting your proposal, that you give no time to considering the steps the prospect must go through before she'll be able to say yes to your proposal. You carry on unaware until she says something that reveals she's way back there at step one, or maybe step one-and-a-half.
6. The prospect loses touch with the selling process. There's been so much going on in the prospect's world since your previous appointment that he seems to be on a different planet now. He remembers you, but he's unable to recall what you related to him last time or even what he told you…his needs, his issues, his expectations. It seems as though you have to start over.
7. Their needs changed and you didn't know it. It took a while to assemble your proposal, and in the meantime there has been a material change that made your proposal at least slightly off focus, if not totally off base. But your lack of interaction kept you in the dark. Weeks don't have to pass for a prospect's needs to change—it can happen overnight, perhaps the result of a meeting the prospect had with one of your competitors.
8. She gives you endless grief about every element of your proposal. of your proposal. You know she's not out to get you—at least, you hope she's not—but it certainly seems that way, because you can't get through a single piece of your plan without a tough cross-examination. You worked hard to come up with the right plan for this prospect's needs, and the thanks you get? Doubt, skepticism, and hostility.
9. Your price is too high for the prospect even to consider. Or there's some other element of your proposal that marks it dead-on-arrival. The prospect shows no particular interest in having you rework the plan and resubmit, and instead rises to shake your hand, says thanks, and shows you out. You could fight your way back in, but you wonder if it's worth it.
10. The prospect takes all your hard work for granted. This one galls you. The prospect is dismissive of the effort you put into crafting a solution for his needs. He acts as if all you did was grab a package off the shelf, that you made no effort to tailor the plan to meet his unique needs, that nothing you did deserves even a thank-you. This kind of call makes you wonder if you should even stay in sales.
11. You often hear the "Give me some time to think about it" response. about it" response. It sounds promising—better than a rejection!—but it's the classic indicator of handoff selling. You hear it every day, or at least every day you submit a proposal to a prospect. And it's a legitimate response, because you failed to give the prospect time to think about it earlier. People do need time to consider plans and proposals, ideas and solutions—even good ones.
12. You make too much of an investment too early. You go all out on behalf of a new prospect, wasting valuable time that could have been invested in a better opportunity. It might be the wrong prospect, because they'll never turn into a good client; the wrong person, and sooner or later, you'll have to start over again with the right person; or the wrong project, and there were bigger, more important, more urgent, or more appropriate needs for you to work toward meeting and solving.
13. There's too much time and effort spent closing. Your calendar and to-do list are crammed with phone calls and e-mails in which you have nothing to say, nothing to add, nothing to contribute…you struggle to find something to say other than, "So, has the decision come down yet?" That's what life is like when you've already handed off the proposal. At that point, you're just trying to push on a string, to somehow keep the proposal moving inside the prospect's company, which is darn hard to do from the outside looking in. These calls are no fun to make, and from the reactions you hear on those occasions when you get through, these calls are no fun to receive, either.
These post-handoff phone calls are no fun to make and no fun to receive.
14. The client is contentious after the sale. Sometimes the hardest part is not even getting the deal done—that was hard, but not as hard putting the solution into motion, keeping the client happy, holding the deal together, maintaining profitability, and sometimes even keeping everybody out of court. Too many of your clients these days act as if you're the problem, not the solution, and often the reason is that expectations about performance, about deliverables, and about return on investment (ROI), were left vague. You were thinking one thing; they were thinking something very different.

The more of these 14 signs you see in yourself, the more likely it is you're neglecting half your job. You're paying close attention to the selling, but scant attention to the buying. And you're paying the price in lost time, lost momentum, lost opportunity, lost relationships, lost sales, lost revenues, and lost income. Nothing on that list is the fault of your prospect or client—these 14 indicators point to the fact that you're not selling interactively.

For a great many of you, the lack of interactivity is the one piece you're missing. You're one of the legions of motivated, well-trained salespeople who continue to suffer fist-pounding frustration and lose billions of dollars in sales every year because everything you've been told about selling is still only half the game. No one told you that you could or should insert yourself into the buying process—or that you could and should invite your prospect into the selling process. This is the master stroke of the salesperson's craft. This is what makes buyers and sellers into true partners, interdependent players who help each other get the job done, not because they're such nice people but because it's by far the best way to get their own jobs done.

The two fundamental practices at the base of interactive selling are contracting and partnering. Contracting is the management of expectations. It's a fancy word, but it's easy to grasp the meaning. Contracting is what's happening when:
 The dentist, a long, shiny needle in his blue-gloved hand, warns you that you'll feel "a slight pinch" before he gives you a shot of Novocain.
 You tell your friend, before you leave for the game, that you want to be home by 10 o'clock to tuck in your daughter.
 The boss at your new job tells you what the business hours are in the office and what is considered appropriate office attire.
 The menu at the Thai restaurant places a little pepper icon next to items that are spicy, and then you notice some dishes have two peppers and others have three!

Contracting happens every day in myriad unconscious and mundane ways. So it's particularly surprising how often contracting fails to happen between salespeople and their prospects. And it's remarkable how a process as simple as contracting can have such profound impact on your success in sales. You're about to find out how.

Partnering is the sharing of control and responsibility. When a truly interactive salesperson is on the case, the sharing is ratcheted way up. The partners—yes, they're feeling and acting as partners even before the first deal is done—share expectations, share agendas, share information, share enthusiasm, share resources, share goals, share energy, share limitations, share control, share decisions, and share responsibility during their first meeting and during every subsequent meeting—whether those "meetings" take place face-to-face, over the phone, or via e-mail, instant messaging, or collaborative software. Partnering is the process that makes the business relationship truly interactive, that synchronizes selling and buying to the advantage of both seller and buyer.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Cold Calling Techniques. How to Network with complete strangers through e-mail.

How to Network

How can you work the network? Use both e-mail and the telephone (what’s often called ‘‘dialing for dollars’’), and then follow up, follow up, follow up. Assume that no one will actually do anything they commit to doing without at least three follow-up calls from you. Many people think that networking involves contacting friends and acquaintances for help, or making a list of anyone they’ve ever known and getting in touch with them. That’s true. That’s the easy part. Networking also involves cold-calling. Contacting complete strangers. Sometimes, using strangers to refer you to other strangers. The key here is that when you use someone’s name, the other person will hardly ever ask you how you know the person whose name you drop. All you’ll have to do is say simply, ‘‘I was referred to you by . . .’’ If you should be asked how you know the person whose name you dropped, simply say, ‘‘I asked them for advice and they suggested. . . .’’

A good way to begin the process is to send people an e-mail indicating you’ll be calling them within the next few days. It will be very unusual for someone to remember the e-mail, but it gives you a starting point. It also allows you to say to the administrative assistant or other gatekeeper, without completely stretching the truth, that the person you want to reach is ‘‘expecting your call.’’ Once you get them on the phone, you want the conversation to go something like this:
 Introduce yourself with a referral. ‘‘Hello. My name is __________ and I’m following up on the e-mail I sent you. Do you recall it? Oh, you don’t. I can certainly appreciate the fact that you get many e-mails each day. Well, I was talking with __________ (the person who gave you the name of this contact) and she suggested I contact you.’’
 Explain why you’re calling. ‘‘I am a __________ (recent grad, career changer, industry expert, etc.). I’m looking for some help on __________ (be specific about what you need help on, such as your resume, getting a handle on the job market, learning about the industry, etc.) and __________ (name your referral) tells me that you’d be the perfect person to __________ (compliment the person you’re talking to).’’
 Attempt to appeal to someone you are cold-calling. Assuming you’re talking to a member of top management, check out the company’s website. Pick up some information from recent news releases. Go to the employment section. Find that person’s biography and read his or her background and accomplishments. Now you’re on your way. Talk to the person about:
o His or her reputation in the industry
o His or her sense of pride about their company
o Some accomplishment achieved
o His or her position in the community
o The views you share on an important issue
o A common organization that you belong to (e.g., you graduated from the same alma mater)
o A shared ethnic background
o Other shared life experiences
 Prove you’re worth talking to. Here’s where you have to hook them. For instance, you might say, ‘‘I have __________ (give a strong accomplishment that relates to the specific area you want to ask them about). I’m looking for some advice and would really appreciate your help on how to __________ (market myself, write my resume, answer interview questions, prepare a career plan) and wonder if you’d be kind enough to spend maybe fifteen minutes to meet with me.’’
 If the person is busy and puts you off, suggest an alternative time. ‘‘I realize how busy you are. Could you spare just a few minutes of your time? I could come in early or meet you late or do it on a weekend. How about __________?’’
 If the person says no to meeting, make the most of the phone call. ‘‘Well, I can certainly appreciate the fact that you’re too busy to meet. Would you mind if I asked you a couple of quick questions now?’’ (Ask questions that you have prepared in advance.)
 If the person has no time for questions, offer a compromise. ‘‘Well, I can understand how busy you must be. Would you be willing to critique my resume via e-mail? I could send it to you. . . .’’ (The longer you can keep people on the phone, the more likely they are to agree to meet with you. Give them plenty of opportunity to do that. If they do agree to a meeting, be sure to send them an e-mail confirming the appointment. Many executives rely on someone else to make appointments for them and are very bad about setting appointments on their own.)
 If they still can’t meet with you, ask for a referral. ‘‘Thank you anyhow for taking the time to talk with me. I’m sorry I won’t have an opportunity to meet you. I really would have liked that. I can certainly understand why you’re not able to give me some help on my resume. Is there anyone else you can think of who may be able to give me some additional advice?’’
 If they can’t think of anyone, prompt them with an idea. ‘‘Perhaps an employee of yours or a colleague in another company, or someone from one of the professional associations you belong to. . . .’’
 Close the conversation. ‘‘Thanks for your help. May I call you again sometime, if I’m still looking for advice?’’
Now you’re ready to make your next phone call, and you can start out that conversation by saying, ‘‘I was talking to __________ and he suggested I contact you.’’ What if you’re actually able to get in to see the person? What then? Well, have a list of questions. Go in with pen and paper in hand. Here are a few ideas about what to ask:
o How did you decide to enter this field?
o What has been your career path? Is that typical for someone in your position?
o What do you like most about your job? What do you like least?
o Do you have any regrets about what you’ve done in your career?
o What are the important skills that lead to success?
o What am I missing in my background that would help me in this field?
o What professional organizations do you suggest I join?
o What does the trend look like for employment in this field?
o What companies might be interested in someone with my experience? Do you have any contacts there?
o What do you think I should emphasize in my resume? What should I deemphasize?
o What job-search techniques do you recommend?
o What kind of experience do you think I should look for in my next job?
o What conventions or professional meetings should I attend to make more contacts?
o What should I be doing in this field to get more visibility and credibility?
 Is there someone within your organization who might be willing to talk to me?

Always send an e-mail thanking your contacts for their time and telling them how much you appreciate their help. Keep good records on each meeting, too. If one of your contacts says something such as, ‘‘Feel free to get back to me if I can be of additional help,’’ then go back to them at a later time, if necessary, and remind them that the two of you spoke.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Durable, Elegantly Designed Ceiling fans

Ceiling fans is a cheap source of energy efficient climate control to your home. You can save more energy all year long at fraction of cost, compared to air conditioning. In the summer, they effectively reduce energy usage while still creating a cool breeze to your home. In warmer weather, it can make a room feel up to seven degrees cooler by creating a wind chill effect. In the winter, you can run your fan to recirculate the hot air trapped near the ceiling, thus creating warmer atmosphere. Ceiling fans and accessories comes in a wide variety of sizes, styles, and finishes that bring elegance, beauty, and comfort to your home for years of enjoyment. You should look for powerful and most durable ceiling fan motor, superior quality blades that bring exceptionally quiet air movement and efficient operation. For maximum performance, choose the right fan size for your room. For long or large rooms, consider more than one fan to handle your cooling requirements.
For maximum comfort, the fan should be placed as close to the center of the room as possible. Blade tips should be at least 18 inches from any wall. Puts the blades seven feet from the floor for the best air movement and clearance.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Human Resources and Strategic Planning. Key Strategies of a Successful HR Leader

Here is some excerpt from Vice President, Human Resources and Strategic Planning

The Goals of My Position
Because I have responsibility for both HR and strategic planning, my goals reflect both areas. Wholesale distribution is a highly people-intensive business, and I believe that, while the two areas are distinct from one another, they are inseparable.

From an HR perspective, our major goals mirror the HR goals of many other companies. First, we’re working to provide a valuable benefits package for our employees without jeopardizing the financial health of the company. With the rising cost of medical benefits and the challenge of funding other benefit programs, this is a major priority for our HR team.

Our second major initiative is succession planning and executive development. We anticipate a workforce shortage going forward, especially in leadership positions. Just as an example, our “average” employee has just under twelve years of experience with the company and is in his or her forties. We know that people tend to work longer than they did in the past, but even so, our number of employees under the age of thirty is far less than the number of employees that are over fifty. In ten or fifteen years, that will leave us with a large gap, unless we take action now. In addition, we’re finding that it’s much more difficult to get people to move into management positions, especially when relocation is a requirement. Employees today want more life and work balance than they had in the past, and we're starting to see the effects of that trend. So, a big challenge for us is to continue developing a “bench” of solid leaders to take the company into the future.

Our third initiative is to move the “ownership” of HR to our managers. Over the years, it seems that people issues were automatically directed to HR. But we’ve learned that it’s more effective when the HR team takes on a support role. We’re here to provide the tools, advice and resources to help managers with this task, but our role is not to take ownership of every “people” issue.

I spend a lot of time reminding managers throughout the company that people are their most valuable asset. We are all working to help the company achieve its business objectives, and we can only reach our goals by having the right people on board and equipping them to succeed. I come from the “business” side, not HR, so I am highly focused on creating value in the organization by helping managers achieve great results through their people.

The Three Most Important Things I Do to Add Value to the Company
In my team, we need to execute the “basics” consistently and effectively. I’m a pretty big stickler when it comes to reviewing what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and whether we’re adding value. For example, we carefully monitor and manage our relationships with various benefits suppliers, insurance providers, and any other company with which we have outsourcing agreements. This helps to ensure that our audits don’t contain surprises and that the HR needs of our employees and the company are being met.

Another way I add value is by contributing to the design of the company’s medical and pension plans and benefits. In HR, it’s our responsibility to provide recommendations about what we can do to get the biggest “bang for our buck.” Or, in the case of medical costs, for example, our medical claims trend last year as compared to 2003 was approximately a 4.3 percent increase per member per month, which is much lower than average. I believe that’s partially because we’ve been educating our employee owners on how to be smarter “benefits consumers.” That has a direct financial impact on the company, especially in light of skyrocketing medical costs. Our medical and drug expense for active employees was virtually flat last year. I don't think many companies can say that.

Third, HR has a direct financial impact through the effective implementation of training and development. For example, we believe that managers in the organization have a significant influence on, and responsibility for, the success of the business. As a result, we work very hard to equip managers to make smart business decisions. Many of my HR people spend a lot of time discussing business issues with business people, rather than just talking about HR issues. I continually reinforce with them that we're business people first. HR just happens to be our specialty.

Strategies of a Successful HR Leader
I believe a successful HR leader must keep a constant eye on the priorities of the company. The biggest change that people saw when I took over HR is that I brought a lot of my business experience and discipline to the department. I’ve run a number of major initiatives, so I tend to approach things from a results-oriented perspective. My first question to the team was, “What legal, operational, or administrative things do we have to do?” Then, we asked, “What do we need to do to support the company’s goals, both in the short- and long-term?” We found that we were doing some things that really didn’t directly support the company’s objectives or our operational requirements. We decided to stop doing those things and spend our time on other priorities. I believe that in HR our job is not to make people happy, but to add value by helping the business achieve its goals through good people practices.

I also find that balance is the key to being a successful HR executive. You must be very strong and focused, yet not heartless. You have to balance the objectives of the corporation with those of the human side of the business. You have to know the business and work well with your peers so that you have the credibility and the relationships to help make decisions for the company.

The third thing that contributes to the success of an HR executive is the ability to lead. The gentleman who preceded me in my job gave me a really valuable piece of advice. He was an HR professional throughout his career, first with General Electric and then with Graybar. I have great respect for him and his wisdom. One day, he told me, “Remember, Kathy, to lead and not drive. There’s a difference.” Knowing my style and background, he continued, “That’s going to be the biggest adjustment for you, coming out of the real hard-line business side. You need to show more of your leadership side and less of your driven, focused, pushing side.” I remind myself of his advice often and am continually working to develop my leadership skills.

Some of my greatest challenges deal with misconceptions about HR and the people that work in this area. Often, people have an attitude that you’re “just” in HR. Even though I'm on the Board of Directors and on a number of key committees, there are still occasions where people react to my suggestions by indicating (either directly or indirectly), “Well, you’re just in HR.” To me, that is very, very difficult. Knowing what the perception of HR is, I try to add value to the business by providing practical solutions, instead of just giving anecdotal opinions.

The biggest misconception about my position is that I'm a “softie,” that being in HR means that you automatically lead with what’s in the best interest of the person or the employees, versus what’s really in the best interest of the company and the employees. Many people who meet me for the first time tell me, “You’re not what I expected,” because I’m very direct, and I say it like it is.

Another misconception is that HR people don’t understand business issues. I think there are plenty of HR people that don’t understand how business works, but I’ve found that the best HR people have had other experience within the business world, in Finance or Operations, for example. This gives them a better appreciation for the reason why HR exists, to support the business. The people on my HR team have very diverse backgrounds, which help them work more effectively with the business and with each other.

Among the day-to-day challenges I face, personnel issues, especially those with a legal connection, are very difficult. I need to look at the situation from the “people” side but, also, from the angle of business risk. In those situations, I always get advice from our legal experts. Then, I sit down with the business leader, and we decide on the best commercial decision for the company and the best resolution for the employee.

Performance management is always challenging, especially when you’re dealing with long-term employees that were never told by their managers that their work was not meeting expectations. That’s one of the big reasons why I’m really focused on shifting the “ownership” of HR issues to the managers. It’s their responsibility to develop their employees and ensure that their performance meets expectations.

Technology presents a unique challenge for HR, since many routine HR activities can now be automated. This trend also gives companies the option to outsource many of their administrative and operational tasks. As a result, HR people as a whole are trying to redefine their roles. I see a big transition for a lot of HR executives and HR people, even within our own company. What value can they bring to an organization when their core tasks are moved out or done differently? What skills do they need to be a successful HR professional in the future?

My role in HR is to remind people of the key things that differentiate us as an organization. I continually point out that investments in our people bring us financial impact. By having somebody who talks business first, HR really becomes a business discipline, not just a back office function. We should be at the table on any major business decision, because it always impacts our employee base…always.

HR Relationships and Resources
As an HR executive, I am continually working to cultivate strong working relationships with my boss, my peers, my team, and others inside and outside of the organization. First and foremost, I report to the company’s President and CEO. This relationship is critical to ensure that my team’s goals and my own goals support what he needs done on behalf of the corporation. My role with him is to be a sounding board, to reiterate our focus on business objectives and to represent fresh ideas and approaches to ensure that we stay true to our mission.

Probably my second most significant working relationship—other than with financial and legal, which I work with every day—would be with the executive that runs the profit and loss side of the business. He and I need to be in alignment because he is responsible for the vast majority of the employees in the organization. The only way we can accomplish significant HR actions is through his support and involvement. Fortunately, he and I have worked together for many years and have a good relationship. In most cases, he and I sit down and discuss things far in advance of putting out any new policy changes, programs or procedures. While we disagree on occasion, he is very supportive of HR, and I do my best to make HR less of an issue for his people.

As far as working with my own team, every year, we sit down with a planning session and review the previous year. First we talk about the goals for the company. As a team, we agree on what the goals are for each functional area and what we’re going to do cross-functionally within the department. We ensure that these goals will support the business goals and create teams to begin working on the key projects.

We track our goals in a tool called the “Employee Development System.” This allows us to show the linkage between our individual goals and the larger organizational goals. It also helps us monitor our progress. About every 120 days, I sit down with each of my HR managers one-on-one, and we review their own progress. We also review our progress regularly as a team to make sure that we’re staying on the right track and moving forward with our key initiatives.

I continually remind my HR management team to think strategically. They’re all experts in their unique areas, and, unless we continually remind ourselves to step back from the details, it’s very easy to migrate toward the tactical and operational tasks.

Because we’re one of the largest companies in our industry, we are invited to participate in a number of associations and teams. That’s a real advantage, because we learn a lot and can contribute to some important projects at the same time.

We participate in national and local surveys and industry bulletin boards. Our employees also sit on boards and committees. We’re continually networking with other major corporations to find out what they’re doing and to share our knowledge. We also enjoy working with colleges and universities in a variety of ways, whether it involves participating in research or trying new approaches to education. I believe that it’s critical to know what’s going on outside of the company, and I require everyone who works for me to be involved in outside organizations.

On a personal level, I’ve really benefited from participating in some executive education courses. Some of the best I’ve found were at Harvard University and the University of Michigan. These programs allowed me to develop relationships with a lot of other HR executives and discuss important trends and best practices in HR.

Aspects Unique to My Industry
In wholesale distribution, we have a couple of unique issues. The first deals with pay as a motivator. Wholesale distribution operates on extremely low returns, and we strive to hire people that want to work for a company for more than just the money. In many cases, we can’t compete with the pay in other industries, but we can offer a wide variety of challenges and opportunities. Of course, we certainly strive to provide a good compensation package for our employees, but we really try to find people that are more motivated by the challenge than the money.

Also, in our industry, we typically have modest turnover. Wholesale distribution, as a whole, has very low double-digit overall turnover of headcount. Employees of many wholesale distributors tend to stay around a while. We have a lot of outstanding employees; so, in most cases, that’s a very good thing.

Our company is 100 percent employee-owned, which is a very unique attribute, especially for a company of our size. This affects our company’s culture in many ways. Our employees are the shareholders, so I believe that we pay a lot more attention to employee issues and concerns than some other companies may.

Most of the HR budget goes to direct personnel expenses. I should probably clarify that this is “pure” HR budget and does not include the Benefits “Plan” expense budget; the first thing on the fringe benefits report after salary is medical and medically related expenses. We have taken over and centralized our service group, so payroll and benefits are all handled from a single source. That in itself, from a headcount perspective, was a shift in the budget and in the way we approach many of the administrative tasks related to HR.

Our second largest budget item is training. We firmly believe in the value of investing in our people. We know that it makes a difference.

How do we decide what gets spent where? Some of it’s required. When we centralize certain services, we need to be sure that we provide the level of service our employees expect. Training, on the other hand, is driven by a work-force analysis. We compare the business objectives with our work force, from an experience level as well as demographics. Then we try to decide how we’re going to close that gap and where we’re going to put our resources.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Gold Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA) and Gold 401k

There are numerous investment asset classes: property, stocks, bonds, precious metal, annuities, savings accounts and many more. From most investment asset classes, gold investment has shown strong return on investment, after breaking US$1,400 barriers. Historically, gold is negatively correlated to stocks, bonds and mutual funds. When stock and bond markets have fallen, the price of gold and other precious metals has tended to increase. In addition, gold coins and bullion often used in retirement planning as the ultimate long-term store of value. An IRA gold can reduce the volatility of your retirement portfolio. Gold IRA offers asset security and protection during period of economic turbulence. During economic or political turmoil, people tend to shift their investment into safer option. Gold is often viewed as the preferred safe haven investment option, as it can increase in value during times of economic volatility.

If you wish to include precious metals within your Individual Retirement Account (IRA), you may include silver, platinum and gold. Many IRA account holders put gold in IRAs as a way to achieve diversification of funds. You can choose between gold coins and bullion or gold stock. Gold coins must be 99.5 percent pure gold to be IRS-approved, must also be classified as legal tender, and must be stored at an approved depository. At this time, the coins that qualify are the American Gold Eagle, the Canadian Gold Maple Leaf, Perth Mint Lunar series and Kangaroo-Nuggets from Australia, and Austrian Philharmonics coins. In addition, when you has separated from your employment, you can rollover the 401(k) assets into a gold-backed IRA too. You can establish your gold IRA transfer in 3 Easy Steps with goldcoinsgain.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Two Major Obstacles to Sales Success. Why Customers Don't Buy. How to Overcome the fear of failure and the fear of rejection.

There are two major obstacles to making and closing any sale. They are both mental. They are the fear of failure and the fear of rejection.
The fear of failure is the biggest single reason for failure in adult life. It is not failure itself, but the fear of failure, the prospect of failure, the anticipation of failure, that causes you to freeze up and perform at a lower level.
The fear of failure is a deep subconscious fear that we all develop early in life, usually as the result of destructive criticism from one or both parents when we are children. If your parents criticized you continually when you were growing up, you will experience this deeply entrenched, unconscious fear of failure as an adult, at least until you learn to get rid of it.

Why Customers Don't Buy
The fear of failure in the mind of the customer or the prospect is the one greatest obstacle to buying. Every customer has made countless buying mistakes. He has purchased services that he later found were overpriced. He has bought products that broke down and that he could not get repaired. He has been sold things that he did not want, could not use, and could not afford. He has been burned so many times in sales experiences that he is like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
This fear of failure and disappointment is the number one reason why customers do not buy. So, one of the most important things you can do in the process of building trust and credibility is to reduce the customer's fear to the point where he has no hesitation about going ahead with your offer.

The Fear of Rejection
The second major obstacle to selling and closing is the fear of rejection. This is the fear that the potential buyer might say no. The fear of rejection is triggered by the possibility of rudeness, disapproval, or criticism toward the salesperson by the prospect.
The rule is that 80 percent of sales calls will end in a no, for a thousand different reasons. This does not necessarily mean that there is anything wrong with the salesperson or the product or service being sold. People say no because they simply do not need it, do not want it, cannot use it, cannot afford it, or some other reason.
If you are in sales and you fear rejection, you've picked the wrong way to make a living. The fact is that you are going to get a lot of rejections. As they say, "It goes with the territory."
Every experience of failure or rejection affects your self-esteem. It hurts your self-image. It makes you feel bad about yourself and triggers your worst fear: "I'm not good enough."
If it were not for the fear of rejection, we would all be terrific salespeople. We would all make twice as much, and maybe even five or ten times as much.

The Salesperson's Average Day
In a study at Columbia University a few years ago, they found that the average salesperson works approximately one and a half hours per day. They also found that, on the average, the first sales call is not made before eleven o'clock in the morning. The final sales call is usually made at about three thirty in the afternoon, and the average salesperson quits working shortly after that. He goes back to the office or heads for home.
Most people spend half the morning getting warmed up, drinking coffee, chatting with coworkers, reading the paper, shuffling their business cards, and surfing the Internet. Then they go out and make a sales call just in time for lunch. The second sales call isn't made until about 1:00 or 2:00 PM, after which the average salesperson begins winding down for the day. The total amount of time spent face-to-face with customers works out to about ninety minutes per day. That is the average—half are above; half are below that average.

The Brake on Sales Performance
Why is it that salespeople work so little and avoid getting face-to-face with customers so much? Simple: fear of rejection. The fear of rejection acts like a subconscious "brake" that holds people back and causes them to underperform. Of course, they always have a wonderful selection of excuses and rationalizations, but the real reason is fear of rejection.
It is easy to prove this. Let us conduct an experiment. Imagine that your company has hired a marketing research firm to find customers for you. This firm has developed a sophisticated way of identifying ideal prospects. Using this system, they can give you a computer printout of fifty prospects that will be literally guaranteed, with 90 percent accuracy, to buy on a particular day. This list of hot, qualified prospects is so precise that it is only valid for twenty-four hours. Imagine that they call you in and give you this list of fifty top prospects for the following day.
If you received a list of fifty highly qualified prospects, 90 percent of whom were guaranteed to buy if you could call on them within that one-day period, what time would you start in the morning? How much time would you take for coffee breaks or lunch during the day? How long would you spend chatting with your colleagues and reading the newspaper? If you were guaranteed a sale to virtually every single person you spoke to in a one-day period, you would probably start at the crack of dawn and keep on going until midnight if you possibly could. If you had no fear of rejection and you were guaranteed a high level of success, you would be calling on prospects every single waking moment.

Rejection is not Personal
All top salespeople have reached the point where they no longer fear rejection. They have built their self-esteem and self-concepts up such that if someone says no to them, it does not hurt them or put them off. It does not send them dejected back to their offices or cars.
Here's the key to dealing with rejection. You must realize that rejection is not personal. It is not aimed at you. Rejection has nothing to do with you. Instead, it is like the rain or the sunshine. It just happens from day to day. When you can rise above yourself, stop taking yourself so seriously, and recognize that rejection simply goes with the territory, it will have no more fear for you. You will ignore it like water off a duck's back. You will expect it in the normal course of things, shrug your shoulders, and move on to the next prospect.
There is a sales motto: "Some will; some won't; so what? Next!" This should be your motto as well.

Never Give up
Perhaps the two most fundamental qualities for success in sales are boldness and persistence. It takes courage to get up each day and constantly face the fears of failure and rejection. It takes persistence to keep coming back, day after day, in spite of continued difficulties and disappointment.
But the good news is that courage is a habit. Like a muscle, the more you practice courage, the stronger you become. Eventually, you reach the point at which you are virtually unafraid. After that, your career takes off like a rocket.

Five Calls or Closes
A full 80 percent of sales are never closed before the fifth meeting or closing attempt. It is after the fifth time that you ask the prospect to make a buying decision that you make most of your sales.
These numbers turn out to be valid especially when you are trying to get your prospect to change from buying from one company to buying from your company. At least eight out of ten of all first purchases from a new supplier take place after the fifth call or visit.
It seems that only about 10 percent of salespeople make more than five calls or attempts to close the sale. Half of all salespeople, or more, make only one call before they give up. When you are selling to a company that you want to switch from their existing supplier to you, remember that it usually takes about five visits to break down the prospect's natural skepticism and resistance.
This does not mean that you have to spend five hours. It just means that you have to make five visits or more. You have to make an appointment, go and see the prospect, talk to him, tell him that you and your company are available to serve him. It is usually after the fifth visit that the prospect starts to become interested.
Most People Quit Early
In a recent study, it was discovered that 48 percent of all sales calls end without the salesperson trying to close even once. The salesperson meets with the prospect, talks enthusiastically about his product or service, shows him the written information, and dazzles him with reasons to buy. Then, when the prospect has been completely overwhelmed with his charm, enthusiasm, and verbal agility, he takes a deep breath, sits back, and says, "Well, what do you think?"
This almost automatically triggers the response, "Well, I'd like to think it over." The prospect says he wants to talk it over with his boss, wife, cousin, brother, uncle, sister, partner, board of directors, banker, accountant, and whoever else he can think of. "Could you call me back later?"

Prospects Don't Think it Over
One of the important secrets of success in sales is for you to understand and accept that people don't "think it over." The minute you walk out of the prospect's office or home, he or she forgets that you ever lived.
Have you ever gone back to see a prospect a week later, after you thought you had a fantastic sales conversation and he was thinking it over? Some salespeople have the vanity to believe that this prospect has gone home and has been thinking about their product or service twenty-four hours a day. They think he turns it over in his mind and talks about it with everyone he meets. He thinks about it and dreams about it, just waiting for you to come back.
Then, when you visit the prospect a week or two later, you are amazed to find that he has forgotten your name, your product, and everything else. He doesn't remember who you are or what you sell. He has not been thinking about you or your product or service at all.
People don't think things over with regard to products or sales. These words are a polite way of saying, "Good-bye forever." When they say to you, "Let me think it over," they are announcing to you that the interview is over and that you have lost your entire investment of time and energy in this prospect.

Self-Esteem Eliminates Fear
The reason I mention this direct relationship between courage and persistence on the one hand, and making multiple calls and sales success on the other, is this: there is a direct and inverse relationship between the fears of rejection and failure, and high self-esteem. The more you like yourself, the less you feel rejection and the less you fear failure.
Imagine two escalators that go in different directions. One is the up escalator to high self-esteem, and the other is the down escalator to the fears of failure and rejection that hold you back. The more you like yourself and the higher your self-esteem, the faster you go up the escalator to courage and confidence. The more you think about failure or rejection, the more you ride the down escalator toward fears of failure and rejection.

You are a Good Person
When a person says no to you, he is not saying no to you as a person. He is simply saying no to your offering or your presentation or your prices. The rejection is not personal. Once you know and understand that saying no is not personal, you stop worrying about it when people react to you or your product negatively.
Here's the danger: if you take a "no" personally, you can start to think there is something wrong with you as an individual. Or you begin to believe that your product or your company is faulty. When you begin thinking like this, you can soon become discouraged. You will lose your enthusiasm for selling. As a result, you will start cutting back on prospecting. Soon you will only be working an hour and a half per day.

Fear Leads to Excuses for not Selling
As your fears increase, you will begin to rationalize and justify your nonselling behavior. You will make excuses and create all kinds of "make-work" at the office. You will convince yourself that you have to read the newspaper so that you will be fully informed when you call on prospects. You have to shuffle your business cards and check the office to see if there have been any phone calls. You have all those people out there who are "thinking it over." Maybe one of them has called and ordered something.
You go into the office and plan your first hour or two around a couple of cups of coffee. After all, you have to wake yourself up in the morning so that you are sharp and alert when you go out to see customers. You chat with your coworkers and talk about business, especially how tough the business is. You kill most of the morning; then you realize that you had better go out and call on somebody, anybody. So you rush out and make a call just before it's time for lunch.

An Unproductive Day
You wouldn't want to interrupt prospects when they are going for lunch. Therefore, you don't make any calls after 11:30 AM. You go and have lunch with your friends, go shopping, get your car washed, or kill time.
Time passes. You certainly don't want to call on people immediately after they get back from lunch. It might disturb their digestion. So you make up a few more excuses and rationalizations, and you don't make your next call until 2:00 or 3:00 PM. Soon it's 3:30, then 4:00, and of course, everybody's on their way home, aren't they?
You don't want to go out and bother people late in the afternoon while they are preparing to wrap up for the day. Instead, you go back to the office to commiserate with the other salespeople who are gathering there like survivors after an accident and talk about what a tough day you've had.
There is the story of the two salesmen who go back to the office at the end of the day. One says, "Boy, did I ever have a lot of good interviews today!"
The other one says, "Yeah, I didn't sell anything either."
Can you identify with any of these behaviors? They are the favorite practices and excuses of salespeople in the bottom 20 percent of money earners in their fields.

Increase Traveling Time
Another way that salespeople avoid the possibility of failure and rejection is by spreading out their sales calls geographically. Such a salesperson makes one call at one end of town and makes her second call in the afternoon at the other end of town. This gives her a nice solid hour of driving in between, which allows her to pretend that she is working, when in reality, she is just putting off getting face-to-face with a prospect.
The fears of failure and rejection, which lower your self-esteem, quickly become the major obstacles to success in sales.


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