Entrepreneurs — In Action

Robert and I are always looking to identify events that help entrepreneurs succeed. Given that there is such an array of online and offline activities, it’s difficult for any entrepreneur to know which events and forums are truly worth their time.

That’s why we’re so pleased to have been invited to be official media guests for the 7th Annual Business Networking Night. The event has become one of the most worthwhile and fun evenings for up-and-coming business leaders in the City. In BusinessCast #121 – Robert and I captured the energy and enthusiasm from the event — organized by Toronto’s leading business networking facilitator, Jennifer Beale.

While at the event, we spoke to dozens of entrepreneurs and asked them two key questions:

  1. What is their biggest business challenge today; and
  2. How are they overcoming that challenge.

Listen to BusinessCast #121 and tap into the secrets behind how entrepreneurs are successfully tackling today’s most difficult challenges.

BTW, we’ve just added a new title to our ever-growing library of books — available for any of our listeners at no charge. The new book: “Upstarts: How Gen Y Entrepreneurs Are Rocking the World of Business.”

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Penetrating New Markets

One of the most exciting times in any entrepreneur’s business life is when they successfully penetrate new markets. Of course, “new markets” can mean a different segment, a different industry, a different geographic region, etc. But, whatever the focus, the key to success is applying discipline — but, where to begin?

To answer this question, for BusinessCast podcast episode #119 — Penetrating New Markets – Robert and I sat down with Tony Lourakis, CEO of Markham-based, Complete Innovations. Tony shares his insights about how, in under nine years, he has successfully taken an innovative niche business into new markets. At the same time, Complete Innovations has earned accolades such as being named in the Profit Hot 50 and the Profit 100.

Listen to BusinessCast podcast episode #119 — Penetrating New Markets – and you’ll gain practical insights on how and when you can penetrate your next new market!

A special thanks to Victoria Freeman at High Road Communications for introducing us to Tony.

Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

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.

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Leveraging LinkedIn – Online Networking for Entrepreneurs

More and more entrepreneurs are jumping on LinkedIn – which is one of the most popular online/social networking tools. But, to what end? So, Robert and I dig into this question.

In BusinessCast #104 – Getting Linked In, we speak with Doyle Slayton who has done a terrific job at using LinkedIn to build his professional profile. Doyle shares some of his experiences of how he’s used the LinkedIn to successfully build the “SalesBlogcast Group” to be one of the largest, fastest growing, most focused and user-friendly resources on LinkedIn.

Whether you’re new to LinkedIn or are an experienced user, here are some useful LinkedIn- related resources:

1) Why Use LinkedIn – This often quoted Guy Kawasaki article is ususally mislabelled “How to use LinkedIn” but really answers the question “why this tool can be useful”. So, while it doesn’t give you any hands-on insights, it still is worthwhile reviewing to determine whether LinkedIn is right for you. For those entrepreneurs who want some more background, here’s a source that prides itself on being the “unofficial source for all things LinkedIn“.

2) Who is on LinkedIn anyway? Here’s a PowerPoint presentation that gives an overview of the demographics of LinkedIn users.

3) Thinking about using LinkedIn to build your business and business network? You’re not alone. While there are thousands of articles that chip away at how to answer this question, here’s one that provides some good hands-on advice.

After listening to Doyle’s passion in BusinessCast #104 – Getting Linked In, you’ll likely want to check out and sign-up to his thriving SalesBlogcast Group or his SalesBlogcast blog.

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.

Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Email Marketing Bootcamp – Part 2

Email Marketing…the Right Way!

In BusinessCast podcast episode #93 Email Marketing for Entrepreneurs – Bootcamp Part 1 our guest Matthew Vernhout, email guru and voice behind the authority EmailKarma.net spelled out how entrepreneurs — of all sizes and across industries — can develop email marketing campaigns that truly work. In Email Marketing for Entrepreneurs – Bootcamp Part 1 Matthew addressed:

  • The key players involved in email marketing campaigns
  • How to establish relevant and measurable goals
  • How to build and grow your database of email subscribers

Now in Email Marketing for Entrepreneurs – Bootcamp Part 2, Matthew addresses the final stages of any profitable and effective email marketing campaign:

  • Ensuring that email actually arrives after you send it
  • Getting your emails opened
  • Ensuring your email is acted upon
  • Measuring success and improving follow up campaigns

This bootcamp series is an absolute must for any entrepreneur wondering when/how to leap into or optimize their email marketing.

BTW, have you listened to BusinessCast episode #94 — Franchising for Entrepreneurs? Robert and I chatted with Lorraine McLachlan, President and CEO of the Canadian Franchise Association (www.cfa.ca). Lorraine shares an insight into this effective and potentially recession-proof business model.

Be sure to join us at the CFA’s Canadian Franchise Show on February 21 and 22. We’ll be at the show gathering compelling stories, lessons and insights for you from franchisors and franchisees.

Don’t forget to enter the contest to win a Blackberry Bold!

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Connecting for Business Success

Today, it’s hard to find real business “truths” because everything that impacts your business changes so quickly — for example: the new technologies you need for your operations, dramatic swings in customer demand, new competitors entering your market, the rising cost of production and sales, the challenges in securing investment resources, evolving employee expectations etc.

But, one truth is constant: your business will only succeed if you are connected to the right people at the right time.

Finding, nurturing and leveraging the right business connections is exactly what Donna Messer, President, ConnectUs Communications Canada – guest for BusinessCast #95, Connecting for Business Success – does day-in and day-out.  Just like every entrepreneur, she has a network of suppliers, customers, advisors, colleagues, media… and the list goes on and on. But, unlike most entrepreneurs, Donna has honed a process for efficiently connecting them with each other so that participants find value in the connection and in the initiator of that connection, Donna. The result: Donna has become an important influencer in dozens of different industries.

Listen to BusinessCast #95, Connecting for Business Success and you’ll find some practical nuggets of wisdom that will help build your connecting skills/opportunities — and therefore ensure your business’ succeess.

If you want to read about how entrepreneurs just like you tackled some of the other most common business problems, check out Your Business Success Stories.

Don’t forget to enter the contest to win a Blackberry Bold!

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Franchising for Entrepreneurs

As an entrepreneur, you eat, drink and sleep your business. It’s your passion — it keeps you going; it keeps you exploring; it keeps you growing.

So, it shouldn’t be any surprise that many entrepreneurs, just like you — somewhere in their business lifetime — tip their toes into franchising, either as a franchisee or a franchisor. Why? Because it can be a very effective method for:

  • Trying another type of business;
  • Investing in a proven brand;
  • Generating new or additional sources of revenue; and
  • Building lifelong business relationships.

It’s for these reasons that in BusinessCast podcast episdode #94 — Franchising for Entrepreneurs – Robert and I sat down with Lorraine MacLachlan, the President and CEO of the Canadian Franchise Association (CFA). Lorraine leads a team of dedicated professionals who share a core value with all of the BusinessCast podcast guests and loyal listeners: they want to see entrepreneurs succeed!

As a result, the CFA provides some great resources to help you determine if, when and how franchising is right for you.

Make sure you check out some of the CFA’s current research and publications and join us at the Canadian Franchise Show on February 21 and 22.  As recognized members of the business media, we’ll be gathering real-life stories ‘live’ at the show and sharing them with you.

BTW, keep an ear open for our podcast in two weeks (February 14), we’ll be hosting Email Marketing for Entrepreneurs – Bootcamp — Part 2. Matthew Vernhout, the email marketing guru from emailkarma.net will be back. Matthew will share practical tips to get your email successfully delivered, opened, acted upon and measured. Email Marketing for Entrepreneurs – Bootcamp — Part 1 was a huge hit! So, you won’t want to miss out on the additional insights that will ensure the success of your future email marketing campaigns.

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Email Marketing Bootcamp Part 1

Email is part of every entrepreneur’s life. But, email marketing remains a mystery for most. Why? Because to do it cost-effectively and to achieve the right business objectives has become increasingly complex. That’s where our guest comes in…

In BusinessCast podcast episode #93 Email Marketing for Entrepreneurs – Bootcamp Part 1 our guest Matthew Vernhout, email guru and voice behind the authority EmailKarma.net spells out how entrepreneurs — of all sizes and across industries — can develop email marketing campaigns that truly work. In Email Marketing for Entrepreneurs – Bootcamp Part 1 Matthew addresses:

  • The key players involved in any successful email marketing campaign
  • How to establish relevant and measurable goals
  • How to build and grow your database of email subscribers

In a few weeks, Matthew will be back to address the final stages of any profitable and effective email marketing campaign. So, in Email Marketing for Entrepreneurs – Bootcamp Part 2, Matthew discusses how entrepreneurs can optimize their campaigns by:

  • Ensuring that email actually arrives after you send it
  • Getting your emails opened
  • Ensuring your email is acted upon
  • Measuring success and improving follow up campaigns

You’ll enjoy this, our first ‘bootcamp’ series because it mixes some high-level approaches and some practical to-do’s — all of which will help your email marketing campaigns work better for you. Chances are you’ll also be inspired by Matthew because he shares our philosophy of business which is: “by sharing best practices and tools, every entrepreneur wins!”

Make sure that you listen to next week’s episode as well — particularly if you’ve ever thought about franchising your business or investing in a franchise. Robert and I chat with Lorraine MacLachlan, President and CEO of the Canadian Franchise Association (www.cfa.ca). Lorraine brings passion and excitement to the topic of franchising. And, the timing couldn’t be better because the CFA is hosing the Canadian Franchise Show on February 21 and 22. FYI, Robert and I will be at the show gathering compelling stories, lessons and insights for you from franchisors and franchisees.

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Networking for Entrepreneurs: Part 2

In BusinessCast podcast episode #92 – Networking for Entrepreneurs, Robert and I interviewed the inspiring networking guru and author of Smart Networking, Liz Lynch. She shared some of the background and core lessons that can be found in her book. But, do we think that her book is going to become the new networking benchmark? Short answer: yes!

Here’s a rapid book evaluation and review which outlines why this is an important resource for any busy entrepreneur looking for practical tools they can use in the short- and long-term. Specifically, Smart Networking:

1) Identifies and addresses the most common obstacles to effective networking. For the most part, these obstacles are ways that people feel about — and therefore approach — networking. Smart Networking addresses these mental blocks head-on rather than avoiding or ignoring them. This is a refreshing approach that will appeal to anyone who hesitates with the prospect of networking (pgs 11-32).

2) Succinctly outlines a straight forward approach to ensuring networking success: be found, be personable and be credible. This foundation may sound simplistic but, the reality is that everyone can build on at least one  of these principles (pgs 33-44).

3) Provides practical and foundation-setting tools that can be used by every current or budding entrepreneur regardless of industry (pgs 45-62).

4) Identifies actionable strategies that entrepreneurs can implement based on their own skills, willingness, availability and budgets (pgs 63-119).

5) Addresses available online tools and communites as a method to optimize networking efforts and results  (pgs 120-164).

6) Outlines a realistic and measurable networking plan (pgs 165-177).

Bottom Line for Entrepreneurs: Smart Networking is a critical networking tool — ideal for those who want to begin or hone their networking activities. Also, check out Liz’s site which complements the book with tools including an initial (and free) self-assessment.

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Networking for Entrepreneurs – Part 1

Every entrepreneur recognizes that networking is essential to succeed. It’s the most effective marketing tool for building new business relationships and growing new revenues. However, the truth is that even the prospect of networking causes many entrepreneurs to cringe. But, that’s not because it is not seen as valuable. Rather, its because, mastering the art of networking remains an uncomfortable, and often unaddressed, mystery.

No need to worry. In BusinessCast Podcast episode #92, Networking for Entrepreneurs, Robert and I bring you a resource that is guaranteed to make you a better networker…regardless of your current networking skills.

We interview one of the World’s leading networking “gurus” — Liz Lynch, author of Smart Networking: Attract a Following In Person and Online. Without a doubt, this practical and easy-to-read book is destined to become the networking Bible. And, because Liz is so candid, realistic and knowledgeable, she (and her book) truly inspire!

Later this week, in the blogpost entitled, Networking for Entrepreneurs – Part 2, we build on our conversation by doing a book review/summary of Liz’s book to give you a real flavour of how this resource is a “must-have” for any entrepreneur.

Finally, Liz has so much insight to bring to help entrepreneurs become more effective networkers, we’re going to have her back as a BusinessCast guest in a few weeks. At that time, we’ll play out the most common networking scenarios so that you can see how you will achieve the best results in similar situations.

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

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