Do Your Homework BEFORE Buying a Franchise!

The dream of owning your own business is alive and well for most Americans. The only problem is that many people don’t know where to start on the journey to becoming self-sufficient. There are a million different options, but first and foremost each potential entrepreneur must decide if he or she wants to become a franchisee or start a business independently.

Each route has its benefits; therefore, it’s critical to take the time to consider both options before making a decision. What it initially comes down to is asking yourself the following questions:

1. Do you understand every aspect of the business, or do you thrive in one area?

When starting a business from scratch, entrepreneurs should be well versed in every single element of the enterprise. They need to create systems and procedures and test whether these work for that particular business. This process of ironing out the details deters some from choosing to own an independent business but excites and challenges others.

Conversely someone who buys a franchise knows that someone else has already done the “dirty work” and found the most effective systems for that particular business. A franchisee must simply thrive at correctly running the system while adding their own personal management touch. 

2. Are you an expert at making a name for yourself or would you like to be associated with an already strong brand?

When purchasing a franchise, you are also inheriting the reputation of that brand. For example, if you open your own Dunkin’ Donuts shop, you will encounter customers who already recognize the pink and orange logo. Many people will know whether they like the brand and will expect speedy service providing them doughnuts and steaming hot coffee.

On the other hand, those starting a business from scratch have a chance to create a unique brand identity. But consumer trust and awareness don’t come easily; they need to be earned through time, consistency and excellence.

3. Are you the kind of person who likes to go it alone or do you appreciate a sense of community?

Owning a business — whether it’s a franchise or not — can be risky. Some people prefer to be self-reliant and want to manage potential problems using past experiences and premonitions as guides. An entrepreneur must solve the issues that arise.

Others prefer enlisting the support and help of others to ensure that their business runs smoothly. A franchisee has many built-in allies, including the franchisor and other franchisees within the system.

The most important factor for success is making sure that problems are identified, and steps are taken in the right direction.

Is Owning a Franchise in Your Future?

For many individuals that explore franchising as the next step in their career, as a way to control their own destiny or as a way to create a family business understanding the process can be quite overwhelming. Below are several articles by franchise experts I shared on my blog in 2018. Still relevant today, I believe it will help interested parties diligently navigate the process to help create a playing field that is best for them as opposed to seeing themselves aimlessly tiptoe through a minefield consisting of franchising’s good, bad and ugly.

If you’re thinking of becoming a franchisee, how should you prepare yourself?

Buying a franchise can be a great move for a would-be entrepreneur who doesn’t want to create a new business from scratch. In theory, franchisees acquire a model that already works on every level, from branding to pricing to marketing. A ready clientele eagerly spends on Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s and 7-11. The market has tested the best recipes for glazed crullers, Egg McMuffins and the right combo of energy drinks to stock next to the register. But making a go as a successful franchisee can be a lot more complicated than simply finding an appealing brand and plunking down some cash. For a taste of what can go wrong, see Forbes’ piece about the past problems at sandwich franchise Quiznos, which paid $206 million to settle a suit brought by franchisees who claimed the chain had oversold its markets and excessively marked up supplies. Read more.

How to Buy a Franchise

Contrary to popular belief, the process of buying a franchise isn’t really difficult-but it is a process. I’ve found, (through working one-on-one with thousands of potential franchise owners) that it’s really important to tackle a major life decision like the purchase of a franchise business-or any type of business, in a very methodical way. (Even if you’re not a methodical person!)

But you need to realize that buying a franchise is a big deal. It could potentially be life changing. That’s what you want, isn’t it?

After all, you probably wouldn’t be reading this if you wanted to just go out and find a new job -or keep the one you have.

With that in mind, kick off your shoes and grab your favorite beverage. In this article, Joel Libava, The Franchise King shows exactly how to buy a franchise. Read more.

Owning a Franchise Business is Good for Your Family

Many entrepreneurs choose to become small-business owners with an exit strategy of turning over the business to their children one day — a strategy that takes on more importance in an era where young people are struggling to find gainful employment. Children who begin working in the family business at a young age will typically start an ascension into management after college, with an eye on purchasing some or all of the family business as their parents head into retirement. Often, the parents will retain a percentage of the business as a revenue stream in retirement, adding an extra level of responsibility for the child as a steward of their parents’ nest egg.

Even if they don’t stay in the family business, studies show that parental entrepreneurship increases the probability of children’s entrepreneurship by about 60%. Children of entrepreneurial parents have already experienced many of the ebbs and flows of small-business ownership, which helps to mitigate their fears and raise their risk tolerance. Read more

Learning About Franchising

During research for Franchise Bible, 8th Edition, author, Rick Grossman found that the franchise industry had changed in many ways over the years. Technology has had the biggest impact by modifying buying behaviors. Not too many years ago, franchise buyers would find an opportunity in Entrepreneur magazine or by attending a franchise expo in-person. They would then go through the franchisor’s respective step-by-step process to qualify, purchase and launch their franchises. But today, buyers can find a plethora of information online about nearly any franchise they want to learn about. This has leveled the playing field for new innovative companies to compete favorably with the “big boys” in the marketplace. Read more

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Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

Overcoming Fear

As Mental Health Awareness Month continues, I wanted to be sure we keep it front and center. As such, I’ve given it some personal thought this morning as I found myself reflecting upon the past few years and where things are today. What should I be doing moving forward? What lessons have I learned? How do I address my own personal fears?

Certainly, the last few years has had many uncertainties which, quite frankly took us on an emotional roller coaster. Mostly, the driving force has been fear. I’ve realized my own fear once I was able to admit being scared. Hey, at my age and the fact I’m not in good shape, I must be realistic. So, I’m working through my fear and in doing so, maybe I can overcome it. As fear is such a strong emotion that easily grips the soul, it will take time and patience to overcome such a grip.

Little by little I look forward to continuing to pry it away as fear is replaced by courage gained from confidence that fear is just a challenge to be conquered. The great thing is that some of the challenges don’t have to be tackled alone. Instead, collaborative efforts aligned with common goals truly exemplify the phrase, ‘strength in numbers’ and it’s that strength that ultimately conquers fear. Easier said than done? Possibly, but the alternative is being overwhelmed by fear and that, I recognize is not living.

Others feel the same and possibly are dealing with it in a bad way. Talking things through can be most helpful but should we initiate a conversation? Resoundingly, YES!

Always be sure to let the special people in your life know you love them and remember; actions often speak louder than words. Be sensitive to the fact they may be going through some difficulties and keeping it all inside. Open, positive communications may provide them just enough confidence to open up and share their thoughts.

Need to talk through your fears, to determine how to tackle challenges you’re facing and, to clear your mind so you can explore possibilities? If so, I’d like to help. Please contact me on LinkedIn or drop me a note at paul@acceler8success.com. Of course, I will keep our conversations private.

When faced with the possibility of failure, what do entrepreneurs do?

No matter how well entrepreneurs plan and regardless of the effort they’ve dedicated to their business and endeavors, they sometimes fall short of their goal with the end-result causing a variety of challenges and problems.

Ultimately, it can adversely affect financial position, reputation, relationships, team spirit and much more. It can also start to spiral into personal life and affect family, health and overall well-being.

Such situations are often perpetuated by denial by placing one own’s head in the sand. Well, as we’re able to visualize our head deep in the sand, we quickly realize our most vulnerable ass-et is sticking out in plain view.

Some will laugh. Others will point and snicker, definitely telling others. And a few will take advantage of the situation and current position of vulnerability.

Sadly, we put ourselves in that position. Not because we swung and missed. Not because we didn’t see the forest for the trees. And not because we just flat-out saw something that wasn’t there.

Instead, it’s because we didn’t keep our head high, accept the situation, learn from it and move on, and with laser-focus. That is exactly what entrepreneurs do when faced with failure.

Certainly, we must do all we can to persevere. It has me thinking about a quote. One of many I keep in my memory bank… “Never give up and be confident in what you do. There may be tough times, but the difficulties which you face will make you more determined to achieve your objectives and to win against all the odds.” – Marta

When faced with failure, or the possibility of failure, we should be diligent in reviewing our goals. Often, it’s the Why behind those goals that can give the push needed to move forward, to climb out of the hole, so to speak. However, we must be clear in our minds that what we may be wishing for is one thing, and it’s good to wish because doing so digs deep into our hearts and soul. Remember wishing for that shining new red bike as a kid?

Well, there’s a huge difference between goals and wishes but they’re often confused as the same. Why? Because the desired end results appear to be the same and especially if they’re articulated with what appears to be passion. However, the difference comes down to action. Wishes are nothing but talk with no definitive action plan. Goals are real, but only with a definitive action plan. Dennis Waitley states it best, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.

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Napoleon Hill was quoted as saying, “The No. 1 reason people fail in life is because they listen to their friends, family, and neighbors.”

So, think for yourself. Keep driving towards your goals knowing you will fail at times along the way – and you will fail because if you don’t, you’re not working hard enough at perfecting your ideas. And, keep hustling and grinding each and every day, avoiding negative distractions as you remain laser-focused on the road to success.

May is also Military Appreciation Month

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“It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag” ― Father Dennis Edward O’Brien, USMC

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

Adapting to Change; a Moving Target

One key to success in a business owner’s life is to learn from mistakes. Although the mistakes may not have been intentional, they’re real, nonetheless.

Unfortunately, even when lessons are learned, the negative results attained by poor choices and ill-fated decisions sometimes take a long time from which to completely recover. These issues often have to be worked through, driven by a firm commitment to reverse course. Sure, it’d be so much easier if a quick change in direction allowed for full recovery but it’s typically not that simple.

So, as business owners find themselves moving in the wrong direction, it’s essential to implement a strategy to get back on course and then stay on track until full recovery is achieved. To that end, it’s essential business owners hold themselves accountable while accepting personal responsibility. Doing so increases the possibility, if not the probability of success.

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Change is the New Normal

How are business owners currently handling change? How will they handle it moving forward? In the past, leaders predicted threats and planned responses with a risk-management strategy. Today, however, the nature of risk itself is different… It’s right upon us!

The changes business owners are implementing today to survive will continue to be necessary as their recovery from the pandemic continues and again as they’re facing the uncertainty and effects of inflation. Most likely, changes, and adapting to the changes will be key to their future success as customers and clients will become accustomed to the changes and will expect them to continue – even if it means the business owners must implement the changes alongside what was previously considered standard operations. It’ll be another moving target.

For example, think about the pandemic-driven focus on take-out & delivery in the restaurant industry. Customers are expecting this to continue long after standard operations have resumed. Actually, this focus has helped businesses to recover faster, and in many cases, it has improved business as processes were perfected and improvements were made along the way, as opposed to efforts being considered a temporary solution for the times. Will it remain as such? Possibly. However, the moving target will be the implementation of necessary improvements to keep pace in technology and customer communications.

Despite being in a continuing survival mode, business owners must be thinking about the next steps, the next phase of recovery lest they fall short and lose the war despite winning battles along the way. In a world of seemingly constant change, non-adaptive behavior will be a killer problem. 

Weekly Review May 8-14

By now you’re most likely aware that Sundays at Acceler8Success Cafe is the time for looking back over the past week. It’s a time for review as with so much going on at Acceler8Success Cafe I know it’s easy to miss a newsletter or two. Possibly my Question of the Week slipped by without you noticing, or an announcement I may have made just seemingly got lost amongst the busy news feed.

To reiterate, just like an experience at your local cafe, I really want Acceler8Success Cafe to be conveniently located when you desire or need to relax, enjoy a cup of coffee, and catch up on some reading. My goal is for Acceler8Success Cafe to be your virtual cafe. A place where you may frequently visit to enjoy a few minutes to yourself. I’d like the experience to be memorable by providing learning opportunities, by presenting a different perspective & insight, by spurring thought & reflection, by encouraging interaction, and by spotlighting topics that, frankly, may not be as front and center as they should or need to be.

I’m excited that Acceler8Success Cafe is open for business seven days a week. For the benefit of current & aspiring entrepreneurs, this daily newsletter will be delivered each morning. As a way to jumpstart the week ahead, I’m delivering a weekly review each Sunday morning listing the articles you might have missed during the previous week. My goal is to provide an opportunity to begin the new week with information and ideas that possibly could accelerate your success.

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The Ability to Sell is a Cornerstone to Entrepreneurial Success It’s essential to have developed a great idea, product or service, and business model, but without perfecting the ability to articulate the vision, communicate it well, and close the deal, the company or concept goes nowhere.

Proper Preparation (and Diligence): Essential Steps to Closing Deals Whether selling a product or service, or as is the case of an entrepreneur pitching his or her ideas, it’s vital to be ready, really ready to make an effective presentation.

Questions are Key to Closing Sales Buying motivations and needs are not always the same. Buying motivations have to do with desires, feelings, tastes and so on. Look for tell-tale signs – hot buttons. How? By asking the right questions, the right way!

Question of the Week: How important is it for an entrepreneur to be proficient in presenting and selling?

When the Sale is in Jeopardy, but Failure is not an Option! You’ve learned in the 11th hour; an important prospective client is changing directions and is exploring options with your competitor. As it turns out, the change in direction is being blamed on something you did or said that they weren’t exactly happy with. What would you do?

There is No “I” in Sales Nothing is so basic to business as sales. In fact, nothing happens in business without a sale!

Together… The way it was, and/or a case for how it could or should be? Together… with or in proximity to another person or people; so as to touch or combine; in combination, collectively; into companionship or close association; so as to be united or in agreement; at the same time; without interruption; continuously.

A major announcement in the world of franchise and small business finance!

Benetrends, the International Franchise Association’s preferred vendor for ROBS business funding and the trusted leader in franchise and small business funding for over 40 years, has acquired DCV Franchise Group.

“The acquisition of DCV Franchise Group enhances our access to lenders and greatly expands our lending footprint in the industry,” stated Rocco Fiorentino, CEO of Benetrends.

Read the press release HERE.

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If you’re interested in submitting an article for Acceler8Success Cafe, please let me know. Articles must be about entrepreneurship, franchising, small business ownership or anything related to these general topics. Please reach out to me here on LinkedIn or via email to paul@acceler8success.com. Thank you!

On the lighter side…

A young MBA was leaving the office late one evening when he found the CEO standing in front of a shredder with a piece of paper in his hand. “Listen,” said the CEO, “this is a very sensitive and important document here, and my secretary has gone for the night. Can you make this thing work? “Certainly,” said the young executive. He turned the machine on, inserted the paper, and pressed the start button. “Excellent, excellent!” said the CEO as his paper disappeared inside the machine. “I just need one copy.”

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A month and a half left in the second quarter. It’s hard to believe. It’s time to shift into high gear and take things to another level or two!

Have a great week ahead. Make it happen. Make it count!

Together… The way it was, and/or a case for how it could or should be?

This past week, I read two interesting social media posts that I found myself thinking about quite often. Although each post was shared by different individuals, I believe the two posts really sync well together, almost like two stories shared to make one point. This morning, I find myself pondering over them once again and thought I would share the same in this morning’s newsletter instead of what I had prepared for today. As always, I look forward to learning your thoughts, so please do share.

Together – with or in proximity to another person or people… “together they climbed the dark stairs”; so as to touch or combine… “she held her hands together as if she were praying”; in combination, collectively… “taken together, these measures would significantly improve people’s chances of surviving a tornado”; into companionship or close association… “the experience has brought us together”; so as to be united or in agreement… “he won the confidence of the government and the rebels, but could not bring the two sides together”; at the same time… “they both spoke together”; without interruption; continuously… “she sits for hours together in the lotus position”

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I remember my father, when he pulled nails out of anything, he would straighten them to be reused. My mother would press little scraps of soap together to create a “new” bar. Any kind of food or drink container that made its way into the house was pressed into service for some other purpose. Clothes and toys got handed down to younger cousins. Shoes and small appliances were repaired, not replaced. When I think about these things today, they sound so penny-pinching but that’s how most of the people on my street lived. Never for one second did we think of ourselves as poor, but nothing with any useful life in it went to waste.

Maybe that way of life was a hangover from the Great Depression. My parents and those of their generation who lived through that nightmare were never the same. Financial security became an obsession. Saving something for a rainy day became their mantra. My parents never owned a credit card. If they wanted something they saved up and paid in cash. Buying a washing machine or a television set was a significant decision. When we got our first telephone, a black, beauty with a rotary dial, my mother had it installed in an alcove behind a little curtain like The Wizard of Oz.

We were mostly happy and well adjusted. Then Madison Avenue went to work telling us in TV ads that we weren’t cool unless we paid five times more for the jeans with somebody’s name on them. We started looking for happiness in things instead of people. Credit cards sprang up everywhere and people started buying houses, cars, fancy weddings and vacations they couldn’t afford. They found out too late that the simple lives their parents led, though not easy, made them happier than all the things money could buy. How can we restore an appreciation of simple pleasures back into our lives?

I hope it doesn’t take another Great Depression.

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United We Stand, Divided We Fall. Similar thoughts have appeared throughout history. 

In the biblical New Testament – translated into English from the historic Greek in Mark 3:25 as “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand”.

In an Aesop Fable (16th century) – “The Four Oxen and the Lion” – A LION used to prowl about a field in which Four Oxen used to dwell. Many a time he tried to attack them; but whenever he came near, they turned their tails to one another, so that whichever way he approached them he was met by the horns of one of them. At last, however, they fell a-quarrelling among themselves, and each went off to pasture alone in a separate corner of the field. Then the Lion attacked them one by one and soon made an end of all four.

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

There is No “I”​ in Sales

This week, we have focused our attention on sales basics. We discussed sales prospecting, presentations, sales questions and even the sale that possibly goes wrong. Although yesterday’s segment was scheduled to be the last in this series, I’ve received a number of emails and comments throughout the week basically asking the same thing, “what do you think is wrong with my salespeople?” Well, here’s an article from our archives that may best address this question. Again, realize this applies regardless of what you may be selling. After all, successful sales are based upon fundamentals!

Nothing Happens Without a Sale!

Dedicating our efforts to the latest technology is essential to leading the field in any industry. However, we must not lose sight of the basics. Just as a professional baseball player practices and drills on the basics, especially when in a slump, entrepreneurs must review and stress the basics of business. And nothing is so basic to business as sales. In fact, nothing happens in business without a sale!

With this in mind, I will take you back to the very fundamental aspects of sales from the perspective of you being the one making the sale. Share the same with your salespeople in your organization and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how getting back to basics improves your team’s results.

On a very basic level, there are five ingredients needed to create a sale:

The salesperson. The qualified prospect. A need or want that the prospect has. The product or service. The selling strategy or procedure you follow that guides a prospect to the natural conclusion of the selling process, the sale.

While many salespeople would say the selling process is about the customer, they wind up making it about themselves. Think about all the fears or reluctance you may experience when it comes to cold calling or selling. I don’t want to say the wrong thing. I don’t want to look bad. I don’t want to be a nuisance. I don’t want to impose. I don’t want to be rejected or hear no. I don’t want to blow it! I, I, I, I, I!

Look at the first word that begins each statement above. Making the selling and cold calling process about you is the number one roadblock to successful prospecting and the number one cause of cold calling reluctance. Instead of making the selling process about you and how much you can gain if you sell, make it about the prospect and how much value you can deliver to them.

If you are experiencing any fear or resistance to prospecting, look at who you’re making the selling process about. Chances are, you’re making it about you! Once you shift your focus and energy towards making it about the prospect, it will immediately relieve you of the unnecessary pressure to look good and perform.

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On another note… Winners or Losers: Choices are Made Everyday

The Winner is always part of the answer; The Loser is always part of the problem.

The Winner always has a program; The Loser always has an excuse.

The Winner says, “Let me do it for you”; The Loser says, “That is not my job.”

The Winner sees an answer for every problem; The Loser sees a problem for every answer.

The Winner says,” It may be difficult, but it is possible”; The Loser says,” It may be possible, but it is too difficult.”

When a Winner makes a mistake, they say,” I was wrong”; When a Loser makes a mistake, they say,” It wasn’t my fault.”

A Winner makes commitments; A Loser makes promises.

Winners have dreams; Losers have schemes.

Winners say,” I must do something”; Losers say, “Something must be done.”

Winners are a part of the team; Losers are apart from the team.

Winners see the gain; Losers see the pain.

Winners see possibilities; Losers see problems.

Winners believe in win/win; Losers believe for them to win someone has to lose.

Winners see the potential; Losers see the past.

Winners are like a thermostat; Losers are like thermometers.

Winners choose what they say, Losers say what they choose.

Winners use hard arguments, but soft words; Losers use soft arguments, but hard words.

Winners stand firm on values, but compromise on petty things; Losers stand firm on petty things, but compromise on values.

Winners follow the philosophy of empathy: “Don’t do to others what you would not want them to do to you”; Losers follow the philosophy, “Do it to others before they do it to you.”

Winners make it happen; Losers let it happen.

~ Author Unknown.

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

When the Sale is in Jeopardy, but Failure is not an Option!

This week, we’ve discussed sales basics including prospecting, presentations and sales questions. Today, in our last segment, we’ll discuss the key sale that possibly goes wrong. From a business owner’s perspective and in light of today’s economic environment, the possibility of being in this position is quite real. This applies to all types of sales, and especially as nothing happens without a sale!

When the Sale is Critical, What if…?

You’re close to finalizing a major deal with a prospective client that will result in a large payout and repeat business for years to come. The time you’ve spent nurturing this prospect will finally payoff. Some of your current clients have been disappointed by the lack of attention you’ve shown them over the past year, but you know you can make it up to them after you close this deal. Besides, this new client will generate a significant increase in revenue and profits that everybody knows is vital to the company’s future success.

But wait. You’ve learned in the 11th hour; the prospective client is changing directions and is exploring options with your competitor. As it turns out, the change in direction is being blamed on something you did or said that they weren’t exactly happy with. You find this out from a former employee, now employed with your competitor. He goes on to tell you the prospect would rather do business with your company but only if you weren’t involved.

You think about the potential loss of immediate and future business. What about the revenue and profits the company desperately needs? How will you be viewed by your employees (and partners) if the prospect signs with your competitor when you’ve invested so much time and resources? What happens if key employees find out the prospect could have been saved if you stepped aside? What is it that you did or said that caused the change in direction? Does it really matter now?

Forget the “this wouldn’t happen to me” response. Put aside the “it couldn’t happen like this” statement. Look beyond the “he should have seen it coming” exclamation. Let’s assume it happened exactly as it was described above – What would you do? How would you handle this situation?

I look forward to learning various insight and perspective on this. Please share in the comments section, send me an email to paul@acceler8success.com, or text me at (832) 797-9851. As well, I’d love to discuss. So, if you’re so inclined, let’s schedule a phone call. You may grab some time on my calendar HERE.

On another note…

If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or maybe you’ve already taken the plunge into entrepreneurship but not yet meeting your expectations, then this video is for you. It’s less than minutes long. If you take the time to watch it, I’d love to learn your thoughts.

“Life is a gift and now is the time for you to become the entrepreneur that you are looking for. A great life, it doesn’t happen by chance, it happens by design.”

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

Questions are Key to Closing Sales

In continuing with our focus on sales basics this week, we will build upon the last two days’ articles about sales prospecting and presentations, and today discuss sales questions specific to a B2B situation, but can be easily revised for any sales situation. But first, let’s begin with my Question of the Week.

How important is it for an entrepreneur to be proficient in presenting and selling?

I’d really appreciate your feedback. So please, share your comments, insight and perspective in the comments section below.

As we dive back into the sales conversation, let’s start with the infamous scene from what I believe is one of the best “sales” movies, Glengarry Glenn Ross. As you’re responding to today’s Question of the Week, I’d love to understand your perspective about this scene. *Please pardon the language and some phrases that are definitely not politically correct in any sense imaginable today.

Questions Set the Stage for a Successful Sales Outcome

Prepare, in advance, the questions to be asked when actually get face to face with the prospect. Of course, every selling situation is unique, and every selling situation requires some variation, but certain basic questions that come up in every sales situation can be planned in advance.

With careful planning them, all bases can be covered. Wording must be precise. There is one caution – words must be phrased in such a way that they won’t sound canned.

Ask As Many Open-Ended Questions as Possible

Closed questions that call for a “yes” or “no” answer tend to discourage people from talking, to give only limited information, and they tend to set a negative tone. During the probe (the questioning) step of most selling systems, primarily open-ended questions that require prospects to express how they feel, what they want, or what they think are essential to the process. There is always room for “yes” or “no” questions, but caution must be exhibited to not to use too many or to use them incorrectly. Now is not the time to try out words not yet fully understood.

Ask Needs-Based Questions

In the probe phase, key is to get the prospect talking. His or her needs (or desires) must be addressed. Therefore, questions must phrase to gain insight into how the prospects perceive their needs (and desires).

Ask Questions That Help Identify Problems That Need to Be Solved

Usually there’s one overriding problem that needs to be resolved in the prospect’s mind – a situation that can be understood by asking the right questions. Plus, with proper pre-call planning and strong internal advocacy, a glimpse of the problems can be identified early on.

Ask Questions That Help Pinpoint the Dominant Buying Motivations

Buying motivations and needs are not always the same. Buying motivations have to do with desires, feelings, tastes and so on. Look for tell-tale signs – hot buttons.

33 Most Valuable Open-Ended Sales Questions

Avoid Offensive Questions or Asking Questions in An Insensitive Way

Certain types of questions can offend prospects and cause them to back away. Here are some examples of pitfalls to avoid:

Don’t use leading or “set up” questions such as “You do want to make a profit, don’t you?” What’s the prospect going to say…”No, I don’t?!”

Probe don’t pry. Nosy questions can be a real turnoff.

Be careful about phrasing. For example, instead of asking “How much can you afford to spend?” you could phrase it a little more positively: “How much had you planned to invest?”

Ask Questions That Are Easy to Answer

Questions that require knowledge the prospect doesn’t have can often make him or her feel stupid. For example, asking most consumers, “What’s the maximum wattage per channel on your amplifier?” might get you a dumb look for an answer. The smarter the prospects are made to feel, the smarter they’ll think the salesperson is and the more they’ll like them.

Use Questions to Guide the Interview & Keep the Tone Positive

Some people love to ramble on and on, but by skillfully using questions, the interview will remain focused on point and move in the right direction. Also, questions should be asked in such a way that will solicit responses in a positive manner. Studies have shown that most people much prefer to agree than to assert themselves and disagree. In other words, the goal is to make it easy to say “yes.”

Ask – and Then Listen

The prospect can’t talk while also trying to listen. Besides, it’s hard for the salesperson to learn while they’re talking. Every word said by the prospect must be quickly grasped while staying aware of speech tone, body movement and facial expressions that may accompany the spoken word. Remember, people can be talked into buying, but listening and responding accordingly, keeping things about the prospect will create a buying experience the prospect will feel confident they made the right decision instead of being pushed to make a decision. One they may regret after the fact,

Shifting Gears… Against All Odds!

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Anytime that you believe your business ideas are a long shot, think about 2022 Kentucky Derby Winner, Rich Streak who won against 80-1 odds. As long as you’re diligent in your preparations and as opportunities present themselves, a little bit of luck will go a long way. After all, luck is nothing more than opportunity meeting preparedness.

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

Proper Preparation (and Diligence): Essential Steps to Closing Deals

In continuing with our focus on sales, we will build upon yesterday’s newsletter about sales prospecting and today, discuss sales presentations. Remember, the points we’re making are from a recent B2B sales training workshop, but the fundamentals remain the same and are applicable for today’s entrepreneur.

Average vs Professional Presentations

Research indicates that most people involved in sales put 80-90% of their time into presenting and demonstrating and leave only 10-20% of their time for other things. Professional salespeople, however, spend only 40% of their time presenting or demonstrating; not more than 10% prospecting; and about 50% of their time qualifying and planning.

Let’s look at these figures one more time. The professionals spend half as much time demonstrating or presenting as the average salesperson does, yet we find that he or she still manages to turn in at least twice the volume. And this is a conservative figure. Actually, the professional brings in between four and ten times as much business as the average salesperson will. It’s not uncommon for a single salesperson to outsell the entire bottom half of the sales force, and keep on doing it month after month, year after year.

So, what is it that the true professional does to stand above the rest? By far the greatest difference lies in his or her attention to and ability at planning sales, at selecting and qualifying the right people to sell to, at overcoming objections and closing, and at deserving and obtaining referrals.

As important as presenting and demonstrating is, if it’s done with the wrong audience because qualifying wasn’t done properly, it’s all for nothing. If working with the right people, but their objections have become seemingly insurmountable because ineffective or even no preparation had been done, then it’s all for nothing. And if the person being presented to has no decision-making authority, all efforts are for naught.

If there is an inability to close, a true knack AND skill to close deals, the structure and parameters of will be in place but ripe for the person being presented to look elsewhere for something similar. The bottom line is the presenter must be a strong presenter or demonstrator to sell effectively. They must have the ability and commitment to qualify strongly, handle objections strongly and close strongly.

There are three things that must be covered in a presentation:

1. Tell them what you’re going to tell them. This is the introduction.

2. Tell them what you’re there to tell them. This is the opportunity or product being presented.

3. Tell them what you just told them. This is the summary.

This is the outline of all successful speeches, presentations and demonstrations. In other words, the foundation is built upon repetition. The same things aren’t repeated three times, of course, As outlined above, new ideas are introduced, points are covered in depth and related to the end-user’s interests and needs and finally, conclusions are drawn from the presented points along with a call-to-action and next steps.

Repetition is the mother of learning, yet average salespeople don’t like repetition. For one thing, they have used their material so many times that it’s stale to them. All too often, average salespeople have gone worse than stale on their presentations and feel it would be better off buried. The professional, on the other hand, never tires of phrases that work, ploys that sell, and ideas that make sense to his or her buyers.

There is no doubt about it, one of the keys to the professional’s greater skill at presenting or demonstrating lies in his or her ability and willingness to use repetition effectively to reinforce every point. He or she doesn’t mind repeating the sales point because he or she knows it leads to repeated sales to the same type of clientele.

So, think in terms of tell, tell, tell and remember: Repetition is the seed of effective presentations, and successful selling. And last but certainly not least, technology should be utilized to enhance presentations. However, the presenter MUST be proficient at doing so!

On the lighter side.

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Today is Tuesday. It is the unheralded day of the week. It’s like the hall closet in a house, the light inside the trunk of a car, a streetlight on a dead-end street. No one says, I can’t wait for Tuesday!

Well, let’s look on the bright side, Tuesday means we’ve made it past Monday. It means we get to do the things we wanted to do yesterday when other things got in the way.

And as a day that draws little attention, it’s the perfect day to stop and smell the flowers, to take a walk, to daydream, to drive the long way home. We can take our time to do it all just a little longer than on other days because the balance of the week is still in front of us.

Tuesday is a no-pressure, no deadline type of day. It’s a day, maybe the only day when you can push off for tomorrow what you could’ve done today. Tuesday is a great day to ensure your balance, to clear your mind and refill it with positive thoughts. Make the most of it.

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count.

The Ability to Sell is a Cornerstone to Entrepreneurial Success

Regardless of the industry and industry segment, successful entrepreneurship begins with the entrepreneur’s ability to sell. He or she must be able to sell to investors, clients, suppliers, and employees from day one. Of course, it’s essential to have developed a great idea, product or service, and business model, but without perfecting the ability to articulate the vision, communicate it well, and close the deal, the company or concept goes nowhere.

Unfortunately, not enough emphasis and time is dedicated to the importance of sales in an entrepreneurial venture. Sales is a cornerstone to entrepreneurial success. However, many just wing it with the mindset of, the product or service will sell itself or build it and they will come. The bottom line is, nothing sells itself and unless there is awareness of what is being built, no one will know!

This week at Acceler8Success Cafe, taking nothing for granted I will focus on basic sales skills. From prospecting to closing, I’ll work through various steps in a sales process. For now, I will keep it simple because quite simply, understanding and implementing sales fundamentals will go a long way toward entrepreneurial success, and quite frankly, success in achieving almost any goal.

One more thing, and this is vitally important to your “sales” success, key to a successful entrepreneurial venture is the founder, the entrepreneur being the number one salesperson, the number one promoter. No one will ever do it as good as you!

Sales Prospecting: Motivation & Overcoming Rejection

Style points don’t count. Ability is not enough. In sales, winning comes only with the right attitude! And winning at prospecting or cold calling, whatever you may call it in your business, is all about attitude!

When you’re responsible for developing new business, one of the keys to success is your attitude toward prospecting.

If you don’t have the desire to prospect, or are afraid of it, you won’t do it often enough. As a result, your prospecting skills become weaker. This in turn causes your motivation to diminish and prospecting then becomes a monumental task.

When we evaluate the reasons why a salesperson has failed or plateaus at an unacceptable level, we are constantly reminded of the following: they are not motivated to prospect or, have a fear of rejection. Neither their lack of motivation nor the fear of rejection is the main culprit; both are to blame. It is a catch-22. Either the lack of motivation causes the fear of rejection, or the fear of rejection demotivates them. Either way, the person never becomes the effective prospector they could be or should be.

What I’m offering here, are some ideas on how to get motivated and stay motivated when prospecting or cold calling. I have also included suggestions that will help you overcome the fear of rejection. When you internalize these concepts and techniques, you will become the most effective prospector you can be and will achieve the level of success you deserve.

Believe in it: it works.

Prospecting over the phone or cold calling “door-to-door” or on LinkedIn is a very effective way to find qualified leads for your business. Since the beginning of time, farmers, livestock ranchers and a variety of other vendors have been bringing their products to market on horse and buggy. Today, millions of companies spend millions of dollars and have millions of “salespeople” doing it.

Prepare yourself properly.

Prospecting is like a contact sport. You are either prepared and have an advantage over the other person, or you are unprepared and don’t. Top salespeople have regular phrases, statements and/or scripts they use to generate interest on the part of the prospect. They are also prepared with a list of common objections and responses to handle any resistance the prospect or gatekeeper throws at them. This preparation comes from practicing with a peer or sales manager and/or from making a lot of calls to prospects. The key question is, “Are you fully prepared?”

Discipline yourself.

Every time you feel like quitting and/or find yourself procrastinating, you are being bit by the “Fear of Rejection” bug. The only way to beat this bug is to maintain the discipline to keep going. Discipline in business is about forcing yourself to do something that you don’t want to do. When you are staring at that name on your list or standing outside the prospect’s door – Just do it! No one has more power to discipline you than you.

Convert that feeling.

Try to understand why you get sick to your stomach when you have to prospect. Or why you hate the phone and have a fear of rejection. Ask yourself why you feel this way and then listen for the answer. When you are in a quiet place and are truly interested in finding the reason, it will come out. Don’t let that feeling control you. You have to learn how to control it. Once you have control, you can convert the negative feelings into positive energy. The good news is, the worse you feel now, the stronger you’ll be when you convert it and the more chance you have of being a prospecting dynamo!

Don’t take it personally.

Most, if not all, of the prospects you are going to call are bombarded with salespeople each week. And they reject most, if not all of them. They are not rejecting you; they have rejected every other salesperson that has called them this week. So, when you call, it is not you they are rejecting, they are rejecting another salesperson. Don’t feel so singled out. You are among an elite group of people whose goal it is to find people who are not so willing to or who are unable to reject salespeople. And that’s easy when you have a good call list and are well prepared.

Partner with a buddy.

Many people that exercise would rather do it with a friend because this helps keep them motivated. Both people enjoy the workout more, plus they keep each other in line. We recommend you find another person in your organization or network that has the same or better work ethic as you and agree to keep you motivated and positive during prospecting sessions. When you make commitments to each other of when, how long, and who you are going to prospect, you subconsciously put incredible pressure on yourself to hold up your end of the bargain. This is very healthy pressure to have.

Make the time to prospect.

This is part of the discipline theory we spoke of before. Most every person responsible for sales I’ve met says they are busy, and some say they are too busy to prospect. This is nothing more than an excuse and an infection by the “Fear of Rejection” bug. Top salespeople make a habit of allocating a certain percentage of their week to prospecting. Regardless of their workload, they put a priority on prospecting and do it regularly. It is your responsibility to make time to prospect and create this habit.

Organize your list of leads.

It is a complete waste of time to make phone calls to companies and people who are not qualified to buy whatever you may be selling. Top salespeople have at least 100 qualified leads on their call list at all times. A qualified lead is defined as a prospect you know can use and pay for the products or services you offer or is currently using similar products or services offered by your competition.

A business card is not a prospect.

We are amazed at how little value salespeople put on prospects. They get a business card from somewhere, write some notes on the back and use this as their main prospecting system. A stack of these things with a rubber band wrapped around them is an inefficient method of prospecting. I highly recommend becoming digitally organized on your iPhone or tablet and keep as much information as possible on each prospect. In addition to the name, title, phone number with direct extension, and address of the person who has the authority to buy your product or service, you can collect additional information and use it to your advantage.

Call Decision-Makers only.

Strong lead lists will have the name of the Decision-Maker for each lead. A Decision-Maker is generally defined as the person who makes the decisions in relation to your products or services. Generally, there are two things I look for when categorizing someone as the final Decision-Maker: 1) the ultimate authority in their organization to over-rule everyone’s decisions regarding products or services, 2) the ability to allocate money, set budgets, issue POs, sign checks, give a credit card or enter into agreements. They have the money, and they can spend it!

All at once or not?

Salespeople regularly ask me if it is better to cold call for eight straight hours (one full day) or to break it up into two four-hour sessions. Frankly, I have met successful salespeople that do it both ways. One salesperson may prefer to allocate a full day to nothing but prospecting while another may prefer to break it up into two mornings on two different days. I don’t think it makes a difference. I believe we all have to find the method that is comfortable for us. Provided you discipline yourself to concentrate on prospecting during this time period and not on other busy work.

Break up the day/session.

The fact of the matter is that even great prospectors are going to be rejected. Prospecting is a numbers game based on percentages. Having said that, I believe it is sometimes difficult for people to take a lot of rejection for a long period of time. So, I recommend breaking up your session in a fashion similar to this. Make a particular number of calls to brand new prospects and then, make some calls to prospects you have previously called on, then call some people for referrals, then take a short break.

What I have just described is one cycle. The length of each cycle will depend on your commitment to prospecting, your work ethic and level of tenacity. In order to effectively prospect, you are going to have to repeat these cycles as often as you can in order to get results. Only you can determine the length of each cycle and how many cycles per day you are comfortable with.

Use a headset.

Not for motivation, for discipline and efficiency. When you are “literally” connected to the phone via a headset, it is much harder for you to walk away from your desk. So many people put the phone down and have trouble picking it back up. They don’t even realize it, but as soon as they put it down, the resistance to picking it back up is even greater. If you don’t have a headset, make it a rule that you will never put the receiver down until you dial at least “x” number of calls. Just hang up each call with your finger instead of putting the phone down. Once it’s down it’s even harder to pick back up again!

Hold all calls.

Not for motivation, for discipline and efficiency. A telephone prospecting session is just that – outgoing calls only. Have your admin or assistant hold all your calls or direct them to your voice mail. Telephone efficiency is all about rhythm. Once that rhythm is broken it’s hard to get it started again. When you start to field incoming calls, you might get sidetracked by a friend or even worse a customer or client who needs something now. Boom: rhythm broken.

It’s a numbers game.

Even professional baseball players are only successful at getting on base 30% of the time. And they rate in terms of skills in the top 1% of all the millions of kids who start out playing baseball. So let me get this straight. They are the best of the best, get paid millions of dollars and yet actually fail on a consistent basis 7 out of 10 times! Why don’t they get the fear of failure? Because they understand it’s a numbers game. In sales efforts, a 20 to 30% success rate is good. When you can secure 2 – 3 appointments from every 10 prospects or leads you are doing a good job. Keep in mind that every customer “no” gets you one step closer to that elusive “yes.” Just keep stepping up to the plate.

Build on little successes.

Regardless of your experience level, you may occasionally hit slumps just as professional athletes do. To overcome this they don’t quit, they focus their attention, practice regularly and keep at it. Little by little they start to succeed and get their confidence back. You can do the same by working a strong referral list or by calling on some previous contacts. By doing so, you will get your rhythm back. As soon as you start to succeed throw in a couple of cold prospects and watch your confidence take over. Even if you are not in a slump, during a call session you may want to call on some older contacts to keep your motivation and confidence level up.

Increase your tolerance level.

You don’t start your running career with the 100-mile marathon. You start by first running the 5-mile marathon. Then you build your level of tolerance and stamina. Same with prospecting. If you are suffering from a lack of motivation or the fear of rejection, start small and build your way up. Start with 10 calls the first week, 15 calls the second week, 20 calls the third week, 25 calls the fourth week, and so on.

Set goals.

Recently, I was speaking with a veteran salesperson of about 16 years. For the past 8 years, he had a strong account base and did not have to make cold calls. He just took a new job with a company that does most of its business by telephone prospecting. He said he was scared at first (he took a cut in pay in hopes of the bigger payoff) but had faith in the company and went at it. He told me the main reason he has been more successful on the phone than most of the other new reps is because he sets goals for himself every week. He has goals for the number of times he dials the phone, the number of contacts he makes and the number of appointments he sets. Basically, he said he works as many hours as it takes to hit his goals. Now that’s commitment and desire!