English: Linksys WRT54GL Polski: Linksys WRT54GL

English: Linksys WRT54GL Polski: Linksys WRT54GL (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are you in the process of buying a new router?

It used to be a simple task, shopping for a new router.  But now, you have things to consider like “dual-band,” range, throughput and type of network, to name a few.  Here is an article that may take some of the mystery out of the process, while providing you with a solid foundation for making a well informed decision.

Hopefully, what you read will help you prioritize what features are most important to support your needs.  As time passes and more technology innovations hit the market, it’s only going to get more challenging to choose.  But for now, make an informed. well thought  out purchase.  You can also give us a call with questions should you need additional assistance.

Read: The Features That Matter on Your Next Router and the Ones That Don’t.

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Do you want to have an exceptional LinkedIn profile?

LinkedIn

Have you ever wondered why some LinkedIn profiles stand out more than others?  You might asked yourself, “What makes for a great LinkedIn profile?”

Here is an article from PR Daily, talking about some of the things you can do to make your LinkedIn profile rise to the top.  Most are pretty simple, and won’t require a significant amount of your time.

Tell us what you think, as well as share any of your tips about improving your LinkedIn profile.

Read 4 secrets to standing out on LinkedIn.

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In our efforts to help our clients and prospects improve the use of technology in their businesses, we have provided some information about desktop computers.  Whether you are looking to refresh your current assets, or procure new desktops to support your business, these reviews from the folks at PC Magazine might be quite useful.

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email

Do you sometimes feel that email is just a tremendous waste of your precious time?  Some estimates say that 40% of our time each week is spent on dealing with email that has little to no value to our business.  Think about that!  That is nearly two days of each work week spent on email.

What if they were a few easy ways to significantly reduce the time you and your colleagues spend on email each day.  Check out these tips from Inc.com on some ways to get the email monkey off your back.

5 Ways to Tame Your Email Beast | Inc.com.

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Do you know you can increase sales revenue with better needs analysis?

7 Tips on Conducting a Better Needs Analysis by Jim Domanski

MS Excel 2010 ~ What-If Analysis Icon

(Photo credit: barbourians)

Want to know the secret for significantly improving your sales results, generating more revenues and making more commissions or bonus?

Get better at conducting a needs analysis.

Depending on your target market and the product or service you sell, a needs analysis is quite possibly the most important activity in which you can engage.   Needs analysis help you AND your prospect identify areas of opportunity and areas of challenge. Done correctly, an effective needs analysis can also quantify those areas and ultimately determine if there is a need that your product/service can fulfill.   In other words, it is the key to sale.

Here are 7 tips to help you improve your approach to analyzing a prospect’s need:

Tip #1: Write out every single question you can possibly imagine

Here’s the toughest part but it’s worth the time and effort. Think of every single, solitary question you could ask your client relative to your product/service application. Everything: big or small, significant or insignificant. And then write every one of those questions down on a sheet of paper.

I know. It’s tedious. But here’s what happens. First of all, this exercise gets you to stop and think. It makes you more thorough in your thought process because you have the time. Second, and maybe more significantly, this exercise begins to imprint the questions on your conscious or subconscious mind. It will help you remember them and conjure them up when conducting your needs analysis.

Tip #2: Group your questions into categories

You can do this step in conjunction with Tip #1. Where possible, group your questions into categories. This makes them less random, easy to access and easier to remember. Categories create another level of focus for you and help with the imprinting process.

For instance, you might have a category called “situational questions” which might be questions that ask about the prospect’s current situation or environment. These might be fundamentals such as number of employees, number of locations, types of niche markets, the machinery they use, the processes they follow, the software applications etc.

Another category might be ‘motivator questions’ i.e., those that explore possible challenges, problems and issues or opportunities, enhancements and improvements that your client might be experiencing relative to your product/service solution. Of course, these are important questions because they uncover needs and motivators.

A third category might be ‘analysis’ questions which are questions that get the prospect to quantify and elaborate upon a problem or an opportunity.

Tip #3: Ask yourself, “Why am I asking this question?”

By now, you should have a pile of questions. Now it’s time to cull and refine that list. Review each question and ask yourself “why am I asking this?” Is it vital information you absolutely NEED or is it nice to have?

Re-write those questions that you absolutely need to have answered on another sheet of paper. Write these in RED. They are ‘must haves.’ This is your “master list.” These questions go to the heart of needs analysis. Keep them in their categories.

In blue or black ink, below your master list, have your ‘nice to have questions.’ You can ask these questions if they are relevant or helpful to you and/or the prospect.

Tip #4: Ask yourself, “How will asking this question make my prospect feel? What will he/she think?”

Review your revised list and think about how your prospect might feel when asked. Some questions, particularly questions that probe for problems and concerns can be sensitive in nature. Some might feel defensive. Others might feel embarrassed. Others might be a bit hostile because you seem so ‘nosy.’ Think about this from THEIR perspective.

Identify the sensitive questions and then move on to Tip #5.

Tip #5: Ask yourself, “What is the best way to ask this question?”

If you have a question that might make a prospect feel awkward, embarrassed, cautious, defensive or hostile, use a ‘softening trigger phrase’ before asking. A ‘softener’ is phrase that can take the ‘sting’ out of asking a sensitive question and make the prospect more receptive to replying.

For example, “Jim, some of the safety directors I have spoken to have expressed concern over the new OSHA ruling on … Let me ask, you what are your thoughts…” In this case, the prospect recognizes that he is not alone, that others have concerns, and that it’s ‘okay’ to speak up. He becomes less self conscious.

Here’s another one: “Debbie, hypothetically speaking, if you could improve production by 10%, what would be the net impact on profitability?” In this case, Debbie is not being held to specifics and not necessarily being held accountable for the estimate. In other words, she is not putting herself at risk because the question is creating a ‘make believe’ scenario. This makes it easier to truthfully answer.

Here’s one more: “Pat, sometimes clients see this as a sensitive question but I ask because it goes to the heart of what we can solve. We are finding that…” In this case, the softener trigger phrase warns the prospect that a potentially awkward question is coming up. In this manner, he/she is not caught off guard. In addition, the phrase explains why the question is being asked and implies a benefit for the prospect.

Tip # 6: Create a needs analysis cheat sheet

Once you have created your list of questions including softener trigger phrases, create a ‘cheat sheet’ or job aid. Use colored paper, use colored ink. Use large font. Hand write it or use Word and cut and paste. Put you questions on an 11 x17 sheet so there’s plenty of room. If required, paste two 11 x 17 sheets together. Make your needs analysis sheet big, bold and brassy. No one can see it but you. Post it where it is easily accessible and visible so you can reference it.

Tip #7: Drill, practice and rehearse asking your questions

The last tip is to drill, practice and rehearse your needs analysis. You could do this with your manager, or a co-worker, friend or spouse. You can rehearse it in your mind. The idea is to familiarize yourself with the questions and get comfortable with them. Use your cheat sheet and get comfortable with it too.

IMPORTANT!
The objective of this entire process is NOT to ask every single solitary question, one by one, like conducting a survey. The idea is to ask the appropriate questions when required. You might begin with a few situational questions, then segue into a motivator question, then back to a situational question or two, and then move on to an analysis questions.

No one can teach you the flow of questioning. That is a factor of the client and the information that he or she gives you. But KNOWING the questions ahead of time (having them imprinted on your mind) makes asking the appropriate question at the appropriate time much easier.

Summary

Good needs analysis differentiates you from your competition. Your prospects tend to see you as more consultative. You will get better, more relevant information. This gives you a distinct opportunity to sell more. Take the time and do it right.

About The Author:

Teleconcepts Consulting works with companies and individuals who struggle to use the telephone more effectively to sell and market their products and services. For more information on consulting services and training programs, articles, and other resources visit www.teleconceptsconsulting.com or call 613 591 1998.

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Can simple math really yield you more business?

One Hundred dollar bills

One Hundred dollar bills (Photo credit: 401(K) 2012)

There is always a point in sales process when you need to discuss price.  You have likely discussed the general price range to make sure that you and your potential customer are at least within the same general range.  But at some point you need to prepare the actual price quote. It’s at this critical point that many small-business owners fail to provide the assistance that potential customers need to close the deal. It’s not about features or benefits or service terms; it’s about money, and you need to shape their thinking about the price.

Most buyers will look at your price and compare it to what other companies are quoting them. They will then use this context to choose the winner of the contract. Though you should be able to address the differences between you and your competitors, this won’t necessarily seal the deal. How much more valuable is it to calculate the return on investment and break-even point of your proposal for the client.

This does close deals!  Read more at American Express OPEN Forum.

 

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Do you want to use email to close more deals?

SALE

SALE (Photo credit: Gerard Stolk (vers le Santiago))

Email an ideal channel for sending a very personal message, without length requirements, that can be forwarded, tracked, and measured for effectiveness. And it’s a great platform for building a long-term, ongoing relationship; something all salespeople know is critical for closing deals.

While there are plenty of technology tools for salespeople to use – mobile apps, Twitter, LinkedIn and so on – email remains the most effective way to maintain and build a personal dialog with prospects.

Some best practices to keep a conversation going using email – and how to get your message noticed to close that important sale include:

  1. Being personal and relevant
  2. Good Timing
  3. Consistency with communications

Read the full story here.

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Point of view: Online ethics and etiquette

Written by Deb Shinder, WinNews Editor

It’s been a long time since I tackled the subject of “netiquette,” and things have changed in the interim. Back then, the primary means of communicating online were email and newsgroups (remember newsgroups?). In comparison to the “old methods” of printed, mailed letters and telephone or in-person discussions, those methods seemed quick, informal, much less in-depth and not nearly as carefully composed. Today, social media is the online communications method of choice for many people, especially younger people. And social networking posts make email messages look stilted and formal by comparison.

A graffiti work found on La Brea Avenue, Los A...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As our technology changes, common practices and even the etiquette of communication changes too. Oh, the basics remain of course – it’s still not considered polite to call others names or “troll” (posting outrageous statements just to get others riled up and angry). But the rules regarding privacy and sharing are not the same as back in the earlier days of the Internet. Social networking emphasizes openness and sharing of information, and that may be disconcerting to some folks who are used to more discretion.

To understand why the old rules don’t apply anymore, we can start with the Terms of Service that you agree to (whether you realize it or not) when you join a social site. Most people don’t even read the ToS; they just click “Agree,” same as they do for a software EULA (End User License Agreement) when they install a program.

Let’s look at the Facebook ToS as an example. Section 2, Sharing your Content and Information, says (in part):
“When you publish content or information using the Public setting, it means that you are allowing everyone, including people off of Facebook, to access and use that information, and to associate it with you.”

What does that mean, exactly? Well for one thing, it means that even though your settings might prevent others from seeing your posts, the “public” information that you publish – such as your name – can be used by anyone, any way they want. For instance, if you accept someone as a Facebook “friend,” that person can add you to groups, send you game requests, post on your wall and so forth. Ways are provided for you to control various aspects of your privacy, but it’s up to you to figure them out and use them. The default settings will almost always be to share everything with everybody.

I recently heard about a case where a Facebook user was livid that one of his “friends” had added him to a group. It was a local interest group for members of a “real life” organization to which they both belong. The “added party” felt that he had been severely wronged and even threatened to make this an issue within the real-life organization, even after the “adder” removed him from the group.

These kinds of hard feelings can occur when people don’t understand 1) the common and accepted practices associated with the sites they join, and 2) how the technology works to encourage (and sometimes even force) more sharing and less privacy.

Let’s look a little more closely at Facebook groups. There are two different settings for membership approval. The creator(s) and/or administrator(s) of a group can configure it so that any group member can add or approve additional members, or so that any member can add but an administrator must approve all new members. The default setting allows any member to add and approve.

When you belong to a group and visit its page, a list of “suggested members” appears in a column on the right. As with Facebook in general, the aim of the software is to get more sharing going on. Simply clicking the button by a “suggested member’s” name adds him/her to the group. What can you do about it if you’re added to a group you didn’t want to join? Well, it’s easy to remove yourself. Just click the “Settings” button in the top right of the group page under the pictures (it looks like a tiny gear), and select “Leave Group.” You’re out.

Of course, you can also “unfriend” a person. In that case, he/she won’t be able to see your posts unless you mark them as “public.” Remember though, that someone else who is your friend can copy and share your posts with others. A good rule of thumb is: Don’t post it to a social site unless you would be comfortable having it printed on the front page of your local newspaper. Seriously, folks, Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook creator) argued in 2010 that privacy is “no longer the social norm”. Certainly there are many indications that young people today don’t value privacy nearly as much as previous generations did.

Legally, the concept of “expectation of privacy” is an important one in determining whether a person’s rights have been violated. In the context of the U.S. Constitution, this applies to fourth amendment protections regarding the reasonableness of police search and seizure of evidence. The concept is also applicable to determining whether a violation of one’s privacy has occurred in the social sense. For example, it’s generally accepted that a person has a reasonable expectation that the contents of a letter sealed in an envelope and mailed via the Postal Service are private. It’s also generally accepted that no such reasonable expectation exists for a postcard, because the information on it is open to the view of anyone whose hands it passes through.

We can think of electronic communications in the same way. An encrypted email message would carry a reasonable expectation of privacy. A post on a social networking site, because of the nature of those venues, probably would not.

Nonetheless, there are some generally observed rules of etiquette that apply to social networking. Here are a few regarding friends and groups:

  1. You’re not obligated to “friend” anyone just because he/she asks, or to “follow” anyone just because he/she follows you but…
  2. Remember that a friend request is a friendly gesture so don’t take offense at being asked. If you decline a friend request from someone you actually have a real-world or online relationship with outside the social network, the polite thing to do is send him/her a private message explaining why (e.g., “I use Facebook only for communicating with my close family members and don’t mix business with my private life – but feel free to send me a connection request on LinkedIn“).
  3. You can “unfriend” anyone at any time but…
  4. If you decide to “unfriend” someone, just do it – don’t make a big issue of it. It’s not necessary (nor polite) to announce it to the world. You don’t even need to announce it to the person you’re unfriending.
  5. You’re not obligated to join any group to which you’re invited, or to remain in any group to which you’re added but…
  6. If you don’t want to be in a group, just politely decline (or ignore the invitation), or if the site works by adding instead of inviting, just quietly leave the group. It’s not necessary (or polite) to post a nasty message to the group or send one to the person who invited or added you. Again, adding someone to a group is a friendly gesture; taking offense marks you as (at best) overly sensitive and unfriendly.
  7. If you send a friend request to someone who might not know who you are (such as that guy you met once at a conference or the author of your favorite blog), send along a private message, telling him/her who you are and how you know him/her, and why you want to be friends. If you send a “bare” request with no personal information, don’t be surprised if it’s ignored.
  8. Don’t be offended if you send a nice message asking to be friends, and you get a response that the person only “friends” people he/she knows in real life. Each social network member has the right to decide how narrow or broad to make the scope of his/her friends list.
  9. If someone else gets offended because you friended or unfriended him/her, followed or unfollowed him/her, invited or added him/her to a group, etc., don’t respond in kind. It’s hard to have your gesture of goodwill rejected, and if you get an unfriendly or accusing reply, your first impulse will be to answer it with unfriendly words of your own. Resist the impulse.

 

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Splashtop’s new app brings Windows 8 UI to iPad

The new Windows 8 Start Screen, making use of ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Splashtop on Thursday released a new tablet application that replicates the Windows 8 touch-driven Metro user interface on the iPad, which should help developers test applications for Microsoft’s next OS without investing in a Windows tablet.

Read all about it in ITworld.

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