Success by Association

Over the last several months, Robert and I have been identifying those things that are common to Canada’s most successful entrepreneurs. So, we’ve been spending time where entrepreneurs ‘hang out’ to gather key business insights, exchange ideas with influencers and secure resources. And, it turns out, not surprisingly, that successful entrepreneurs ‘hang out’ with specific business groups.

So, in BusinessCast episode #114, Success by Association, we focused on one of Canada’s most well-known groups — The Toronto Board of Trade(B.O.T.) — that shares our passion for ensuring entrepreneurs’ success.

We sat down with Carol Wilding, President and CEO, to uncover the value that groups like the B.O.T. bring to their entrepreneur members. Carol also shared some great success stories and highlighted how the B.O.T. continues to evolve so that they are always relevant for entrepreneurs.

If you are evaluating what combination of online/offline professional groups will help you succeed, listen to BusinessCast episode #114, Success by Association.

Also check out the following BusinessCast podcast episodes, where Robert and I gather stories from the leaders of some of the most popular Canadian entrepreneur-focused business groups:

Episode #111 – Canadian Association of Women Executives and Entrepreneurs

Episode #104 – LinkedIn Groups

Episode #94 - Canadian Franchise Association

Episode #85 – Canadian Federation of Independent Business

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Overcoming Common Sales Objections

Entrepreneurs know: The sales cycle never stops. And, so it makes sense that entrepreneurs always have to be prepared to face sales objections. Many BusinessCast loyal listeners have asked Robert and me to offer more advice/content on overcoming common sales objections. So that’s exactly what we’ve done.

In BusinessCast podcast episode #113, Robert and I sit down with award-winning sales guru Warren Coughlin. Together, we run through the most common sales scenarios and how you can address them.

So that you can comfortably address sales objections, we’ve also developed some additional guidelines and point to resources that will help you successfully overcome objections prior to, during and after any sales conversation.

Guidelines

1) Keep in-mind there is no “silver bullet” response to any real customer/prospect objection. Addressing real customer objections takes time, patience and commitment to understanding their priorities.

2) Anticipate objections. That means, prepare for ALL of the major objections and the subtle nuances that come with them. Role play with colleagues, friends and relatives. Don’t try to develop an ‘out of the box’ script. Rather, rehearse tackling each objection from several different angles.

3) The more you learn about the prospect/customer before your sales discussion, the more success you are likely to have dealing with objections. This also shows respect for your customer/prospect and helps to demonstrate that you care about helping them succeed.

4) Recognize that regardless of how well you probe, there are simply some objections that you cannot overcome during a particular conversation. That’s okay. Not everyone is going to be a customer in the short-term.

5) How you deal with sales objections sends a very strong message to your customer/prospect. As a result, always be respectful, enthusiastic, courteous, professional and honest.

6) Don’t take any sales objection personally. Objections are not a reflection of you or your product/service.

7) Apply what you learn through the discussion about the objections in subsequent discussions. So, make sure that you always leave the door open to carry on the discussion at an other time. That means promise some kind of follow-up deliverable and meet that deadline.

Resources

Turning Sales Objections Into Opportunities – some good tips and depth of understanding.

Top 10 Lies Customers Tell Sales Reps and Top 5 Dirty Tricks Customers Play on Sales Reps. There are some good tips here. But don’t let the article titles cause you to think of a would-be client as a liar or adversary. If you do, your relationship will be built on mistrust. As soon as that happens, you’ll hate working with them and they’ll feel the same about you.

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Greening Your Business…For Business

Greenyour business?  Why should you? After all, you’re busy dealing with day-to-day business challenges in the middle of a soft economy. Do you really have time to be thinking “green“? What’s the payback? Will it really matter to your top line or to your bottom line?

Well, “greening” your business means a host of different things to different people. So, in BusinessCast Podcast episode #112 – Greening Your Business — we sat down to get a perspective on greening from an entrepreneur who has a strong track record of successfully implementing green practices. Rob Grand, the President of Grass Roots Store has a relevant perspective for all entrepreneurs. For the better part of 15 years, Rob has worked through the various ways that businesses can become more green. In so doing, he’s weeded through the hype and chosen strategies that have seen his business grow its customer base, its revenues, its brand and achieve operational efficiencies.

If you’ve ever wondered about the value of greening your business, listen to BusinessCast Podcast episode #112.

Here are some additional resources to help you to determine if, when and how you should green your business:

  • A carbon footprint calculator that allows you to play out various scenarios regarding the impact of items such as servers, travel, facilities, etc.

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Business by Association

If you’re like most successful entrepreneurs, you’ve found great value in belonging to professional associations. But, what about getting involved in the leadership of an association? What’s involved? What are the benefits? Is it right for you? Is it right for you now?

To answer these questions, in BusinessCast Podcast #111 — Business by Association, Robert and I gather practical insights about this topic from the President of one of Canada’s most prestigious and dynamic associations — the Canadian Association of Women Executives and Entrepreneurs (www.CAWEE.net). As a successful entrepreneur herself, Beth Parker speaks candidly about the realities of leading this forward-looking association.

After listening to Business by Association, you’ll know if/when it makes sense to pursue a role in leading an association — for you and your business. Finally, here are some resources that you can tap into about association leadership/management:

Resource Centre for the American Society of Association Executives/and The Center of Association Management; and

List of Publications by the Canadian Society of Association Executives.

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Business Succession — Making the Most of the Opportunity

All entrepreneurs, at one time or another, must contend with business succession. For example:

  • Are you buying a business from someone?
  • Are you planning to sell your own business?
  • Are you taking a back seat/different role in the business you’ve built?
  • Have you taken over the helm of a business for an aging/exiting family member?

Regardless of the circumstances, you’re going to face succession issues and challenges. And the way, you deal with these issues will have a tremendous impact on you, your friends, your family and your business.

That’s why in BusinessCast Podast #110 Robert and I sat down with succession-management guru John Geddes who recently authored one of Canada’s business top sellers Succession and the Family Business: A Road Full of Potholes or Paved With Gold“. The old school of thought for succession had been “get the legal and accounting issues dealt with and everything would be fine.” But, John’s worked with enough entrepreneurs to know that the interpersonal challenges unique to family businesses must be dealt with properly to ensure a successful and smooth succession. And, that rule applies whether you’re an entrepreneur taking over a family business or an entrepreneur making plans to leave a family business to take on other opportunities.

But, John’s wisdom is universal. His insights about the emotional dynamics that play out in family businesses during succession can help any entrepreneur who serves or sells to family businesses going through difficult transitions.

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The “Entrepreneur and the Netbook”: The Checklist Episode

Netbooks are all the rage. But, are they right for entrepreneurs? And, are they right for entrepreneurs, now? They certainly can be when entrepreneurs apply a disciplined approach when searching, evaluating and comparing this leading-edge type of business tool.

In BusinessCast Podcast 109a – “The Entrepreneur and the Netbook”, we go through the key criteria that all entrepreneurs should use when considering a netbook as well as identify a handful of key free resources.

After listening to BusinessCast Podcast 109a – “The Entrepreneur and the Netbook”, you will have the tools you need to make sure that the netbook you choose is right for you and your business!

And, in case you can’t wait to find out which netbook we chose at the BusinessCast Podcast– have a peek at the Samsung N-110.

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Information Technology for Entrepreneurs: Getting the Right I.T. Support

Information Technology (I.T.) plays a critical role in every entrepreneur’s success — at every stage of business growth.

That’s why for BusinessCast Podcast # 109 — I.T. Support for Entrepreneurs, we sat down with ThinkQuick’s Michael Donovan. Michael brings a rare combination of strategic and hands-on experience solving I.T. issues — in hardware, software and systems.

Michael also has an uncanny way of getting to the crux of I.T. problems and describing them clearly without technical jargon. So, we focused on one of the most basic I.T. issues: I.T. support. In short, when should you get I.T. support? And, who should provide it?

After listening to BusinessCast Podcast # 109 — I.T. Support for Entrepreneurs you will have a much better idea of what you should do in order to find and secure the kind of  I.T. support that will keep your computers, and therefore your business, up-and-running.

BTW, here are 15 key questions you should ask when choosing your I.T. support whether that is to solve an immediate problem or to head-off issues before they interrupt your business:

1. What steps will you take to ensure that my data is safe/recovered?

2.  How are you going to diagnose my technical issue(s)?

3. What guarantee will you give me on the work that you do?

4. On what basis do you charge (i.e. hourly/per project/retainer)? Do you charge for estimates?

5. What kind of computers/software/systems have you worked on in the last 2 to 3 years?

6. How do you keep current on the latest I.T. challenges/technologies?

7.  What do you see as the single most important thing in resolving/anticipating my business’ technology issues?

8. What is your troubleshooting timetable (i.e. how often do you look for ways to avoid problems before they arise)?

9. What is your method for delivering I.T. support (i.e. on the phone, on the web, via email, via Twitter, via Instant Messenger, in person)? Can I, as a client, choose what support method I want?

10. What are your hours of operation? Do you charge differently for “off hours”? Do you charge differently based on how quickly technology issues need to be resolved?

11. Can you give me the name of three entrepreneurs that you have helped overcome similar issues or are providing ongoing support?

12. How big is your operation? On average, how many calls does each member of your Support Team handle per day? What’s the average turnaround time that I can expect before I receive a call and/or service?

13. Do you support PC/MAC/LINUX or mobile technologies like Blackberry and iPhone?

14. What’s the range of support services you offer (i.e. from individual workstations to servers and networks)?

15. Do you sell hardware/software if I need something replaced or installed? What sort of additional markup do you add on top of retail (or discount do you take off)?

You can reach our I.T. expert Michael Donovan by email at: Donovan@ThinkQuick.com.

Don’t forget to enter the contest to win a Blackberry Bold! All it takes is 100 words (or less) on why a Blackberry Bold will help your business. Send your note to Robert@businesscast.ca.

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