Stop the chatter- with chat!
Eastern philosophy talks about the unproductive chatter that runs through our heads. We’ve all got thoughts and conversations in play mode between our ears. This mental activity creates busyness which keeps us away from the essence of the moment. The Buddhist Term for this mental, destructive busyness is Monkey Mind.
At work there's some serious Monkey Business when we get bogged down with interoffice communications. There’s constant chatter demanding your attention. Beat the Monkey with a stick by creating a messaging system that keeps everyone mission focused without the burden of reading and responding to interoffice emails, or heaven forbid, listening and responding to voice mails. The app to check out is Slack- teams that use Slack see an average of 49% reduction in internal email, giving them more time to do great things. Slack is easy to use- a total necessity for great teams!
Simple interoffice chat keeps team members up to speed with the significant benefit of before and after conversation perspectives- they save time, mind space and keep all those damn monkeys out on the street!
In today’s competitive marketplace, a powerful network is critical to a rain maker. How often do you put yourself in a position to meet new people? Are you plugged in and active with a local Chamber? Do you actively participate in a productive Lead Group? Do you make it a regular practice to invite key contacts to meet for a cup of coffee. Best investment I've ever made has been in all those high voltage espresso-laden Americanos! Get Involved with other business people...it’s the cure for slumps and being bummed out! Meet new people. Make more friends. JUST DO IT… it will lead you to a better place in your mind and your spirit, not to mention the best business opportunities you will ever find!
Create a system that constantly pushes you in front of new contacts. Your calendar should include a consistent dose of “people meeting” opportunities. Get up to speed quickly with a contact management system, a CRM system, and new Social Media tools. Add new meaningful contact information accurately and immediately into your database. Create a Relationship Action Plan for key new contacts. New contacts should receive a personalized sprinkle, followed by, an on-going drip that keeps you in touch on a consistent basis and in a meaningful way.
Don’t make it hard. Make it simple…
Grab your umbrella and get started today! Plan it! Do it! GET STARTED TODAY!
Every business makes a promise. The Best! The Greatest! The Ultimate!
We get paid, we say thanks and move on.
Getting consistent feedback from customers is critical to success. Payment without complaint may not be the full and complete message you need to hear from your customers. To just move on without getting feedback is foolish... what if they weren't happy? What if they didn't feel like you delivered on your promise? What if they had constructive criticism? Why move on to the next customer without confirming the satisfaction of your last customer? Without feedback you continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. Feedback is the key to keeping the compass pointed in the right direction.
Survey each customer at the end of your delivery process. Let them know early in your sales and delivery process that getting their feedback is important to you. Tell stories about how your survey feedback has enhanced the way you do business. Simple, straight forward survey questions can be the key to getting better and better at what you do. How'd we do? Did we deliver on our promise? It's important to us - we care about what you think!
Lots of products out there for doing surveys... my favorite for clients is SurveyGizmo. They offer a great mix of data collection and reporting at affordable prices. They offer a free version- check em out!
Build a system for asking and getting feedback from your customers- they will lead you to where you want to go!
Stop the howling!
I’m often reminded of a story I heard many years ago. It goes something like this…Bernard, on occasion, enjoyed stopping by Larry’s house for a cup of coffee and some great conversation. During each visit, Larry would greet Bernard at the front door, and lead him into the kitchen. During the first, and all subsequent visits, Larry’s dog would meander into the kitchen, sit in the corner, and begin to howl. Larry always just ignored the situation, so Bernard felt compelled to mind his own business. Over time, Bernard became more and more puzzled by the dog’s odd behavior. So, one day, Bernard waited until the dog started his howling and he said,
“ Larry, what's going on here… why does your dog sit in the corner and start howling bloody murder?"
"Oh, that; Larry responded, that's no big deal, there’s a rusty old nail coming up through the floor in that corner. Bet that hurts like hell don't you?”
How many of us continue to sit on rusty old nails expecting something different to happen. Can we expect things to change without taking a new path… trying a new way… stepping outside of our comfort zone?
Here’s a list of the Top Howling Items I've heard most often:
I wish I had a database for my contacts
I wish I had an emailed newsletter
I wish I had a ________ follow-up system
I wish we had an online employee training system
I wish my assistant would do _________ correctly
I need to figure out what to do with all this Social Media stuff
I’m great with clients… I just don’t have enough prospects to keep me busy
I wish my email was organized
I wish I had all of my contact information in one place
I have no idea of what is happening with __________
I wish we had a way to keep the office in the loop- we get too bogged down with email!
I wish I had a way to group my contacts
I wish I had a way to know what my customer's are thinking
I should be more organized
I wish I had a way to remember what was discussed during client meetings
Networking events are just a waste of time
Email is always hard for me
I wish I had a way to find out why my customers don't call us back
I wish I had a way to quickly prepare new quotes and proposals
I wish I had a clue as to what my sales people are doing with their time
I wish we had a way to track sales
I wish we knew what our customers want to buy
The solution is to create a simple, easy to use, system building platform that you work with every day. Get off that rusty old nail, stop all the Howling and take the time to end the madness... Build a Business System!
Then, let’s all stop by Larry’s with a hammer and give that poor old dog a break!
Are you doing consistent follow-up? How often do you receive professional follow-up? Not very often. In fact, when you do, it probably blows your mind! Your startled and maybe a little put off… “why are they being so nice to me… They must be trying to sell me something!” It’s crazy… we work our tails off to create a new customer while our current customers and prospects are on hold waiting to place new orders, or waiting to refer us to others, or waiting to ask a question that should have been anticipated.
Does your system give you the ongoing ability to create a powerful follow-up experience for your customers and prospects? The key is to never stop. There’s always a Next Step… a promised phone call; an email; a delivery; a thank you; mailing something of value, placement on a mailing list, or email list, or group list… there’s always something if you care to stand out in the crowd!
Create a business system that mandates a Next Step with each and every completed task. If there is no Next Step, why not? If you have reached a dead end with a prospect or customer then use your delete key or put them in a Dead Zone category or group. Build your system with smart, consistent, planned and rehearsed Next Step Thinking.
I kept seeing you as someone LinkedIn thought I should connect with. I took a few minutes to glance at your profile and it looks as if LinkedIn was correct.
Hopefully we'll run into each other sooner than later!
- James Pappas
I love this approach to connecting with new LinkedIn contacts. LI connections are a start but don't forget to place a reminder in your system to follow-up with value and work towards an online cup of coffee with key new networking contacts and/or prospects. Follow-up and build your database with meaningful LinkedIn contacts... it's a money maker!
Don't even think about reading this post without connecting with me- Please connect with me on LinkedIn!
Babies need love
How many of your incoming leads are ready to buy right now? Let's say 1 out of 4 is ready to buy now. Let's also say that 1 out of 4 is disqualified upfront. That leaves 2 that are not yet mature and ready to buy. They might buy.... and many of them do! Are you prepared to nurture as many as 50% of your incoming leads until they are ready to buy? Why focus on expensive new leads without first investing in a lead nurturing system for immature leads who have responded to one of your campaigns?
Are you listening to your infant leads?
"Hey, look at me. Here I am. Here's my contact information. I just might be interested in buying your product or service at some point in time. Don't be a pushy, self centered sales person right now and just stay in touch with me in ways that don't piss me off. Provide me with new information and respond professionally when I reach out.... I just might be your next best customer"
Lead nurturing is not expensive or difficult. It's like everything in business... it just needs some time, attention and a well written process developed and put into action. Sure, you can get all excited about having an emailed newsletter. That might be part of an effective system... but why not add more to the mix with some simple professional follow-ups that keep your firm top of mind and in the right place at the right time when they are ready to buy.
Key Considerations Include:
What to send or do?
Can you combine or sequence for better results... test, test, test!
The trick is to come up with a series of thoughtful follow-ups that nurture and nudge. If you are running a small shop or managing a sales team.... figure it out and make it easy to initiate and manage.
Quit throwing all those babies out with the bath water! Convert more of those not yet ready to buy leads and significantly lower your cost of acquiring new business.
Are you certain that team members are taking care of the little things that make a difference? Growing a business requires a thoughtful, watchful eye on key task and process management. Too many business owners and managers assume that good people will get the job done right. In reality, it's hit or miss even with the best employee. We need tools that give us the ability to sit down on a consistent basis and develop the best ways for us to do what we do. We must be driven to do good work and spend time focused on creating better and better best practice scenarios.
Without tools for building and monitoring great systems we manage in a fantasy state and we fail to empower good people to do the best work possible. I firmly believe that a fierce drive to create excellence is the single most important characteristic in successful business owners. It's very satisfying to work with clients who "get it" and take action after we share the simple and easy ways we teach to plan, develop and manage great process and task management systems.
When's the last time you reviewed, confirmed and energized what's important to your business?
Unfortunately many small business owners spend more time contemplating Thanksgiving dinner than planning and developing more effective operations.
“Why put your tail on the line day after day, without having an end-to-end process in place to generate leads, sell BIG, deliver the goods, provide killer follow-up and track performance?”
The answer is obvious. ... it’s more fun to plan Thanksgiving. I don’t know about you, but just thinking about this year’s Thanksgiving Feast is a motivator for me. With that in mind, let’s go to work and prepare a Thanksgiving System Build with a keen eye on creating a Performance Master-piece!
First things first, let’s do some planning. What’s the purpose for this meal? What’s our goal? Are we focused on creating an unforgettable holiday experience or maybe we just need to get the in-laws fed and back to the trailer park. Let’s build with a clear destination in mind. What are our concerns? What bottlenecks have we stumbled over in the past? After last years fiasco with the tequila and the fire department maybe we should take some extra precautions. Let’s focus on what we want the outcome(s) to be and what problems we need to solve and build accordingly. It’s also important for us to take a look in the checkbook and make sure we don’t go over the deep-end at WalMart!
Now let’s map the entire event. It’s helpful to envision a series of scenes. For this project .... how about Before-During & After our fabulous meal? As we develop each phase it’s important that we build with a new, creative eye focused on improvement and meeting our objectives. Let’s start by listing everything that must be done in each phase... three columns on the page, with plenty of extra lines for all the little things that jump out as you develop your new model. List all the menu items. We will not forget the turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and the Greek olives & feta cheese... remember this is my Thanksgiving System build... but what else needs to be on the list? How about items that were missing last year and might have been a real difference maker? After we create the lists.. let’s priorities the items... maybe some items are less important and we can eliminate or postpone them to create flexibility in the budget. Timelines are always critical... Holy Smokes... we should have invited Aunt Bertha two or three weeks ago and we just missed the deadline for ordering a do-it-yourself, fresh 30lb turkey at an incredible 80% discount from LiveTurkeys.com! Think it through... list each and every item that comes to mind... the devil is in the details and consistent focus is the birthplace for Business System creativity!
After planning, we need to select the right tools. What tools, supplies and ingredients will get the job done right? We need to take a hard look at our current tools and see what needs to be upgraded or replaced. This would be a great time to clean out the fridge leftovers from last year's Thanksgiving... a total turn-off when Aunt Bertha is looking for another cold Budweiser. After exploring the market and selecting new solutions, we might need to come back to the budget and make adjustments accordingly.
The final step will be to implement our new plan . Hopes and conversation aren’t going to put a sensational meal on the table... we now need to move forward with a series of Action Plans and a realistic Timeline focused on execution. We need to stay focused on accomplishing our original set of goals.
There, that wasn’t tough. Now we have a killer new system in place that will make this year’s Thanksgiving a huge success.
Bon Appetite & Have a Fantastic Thanksgiving!
This year we're getting a CRM!
I see... so in year's past you somehow found a way to do what you do without a CRM?
So what's the big hurry?
What are you trying to accomplish?
Is a CRM going to get out of bed and think of some terrific new ways for your business to generate leads?
Is a CRM going to meet 20 or 30 new key contacts each and every week?
Is a CRM going to help your team show genuine interest in others?
Is a CRM going to dial the phone and say thanks for your business?
There's a reason why most CRM implementations fail!
CRM's don't really do anything. It's what people do with CRM's that adds value to your business.
CRM does not stand for Customer Relationship Management- despite this post- effective CRM stands for driven, caring, and thoughtful owners, managers and people!
Plan It & Do It with an Exceptional team & a simple effective tool set for collaborative work groups!
We love Google Drive... a place where you can create, share, collaborate, and keep all of your documents. You can upload and access all of your files, including videos, photos, Google Docs, PDFs and beyond. You can also share documents... sounds like a perfect document storage and management system for Cloud Builders!
Access is easy and Drive syncs with mobile devices and your computer. After setting up your Drive, you create a Google Drive folder on your desktop... so cool, you can drag and drop files without opening your Google apps account. Another change that we appreciate is in the nomenclature... no more Collections... we now have good old fashioned Folders to store files in ... collections were always better suited for baseball cards, stamps and old coins!
Google Drive is free and installs in seconds.
All your files – everywhere
Put files in Google Drive and you can access them on your desktop, mobile phone or tablet, and drive.google.com.
Always up to date
Make changes to a file in one place and it automatically updates everywhere.
5 GB of free space
You get 5 GB from the start, you can upgrade to get more space any time. Only stored files (.PDF, .DOC, .JPG, etc.) count towards your storage limit. Google Docs formats don't use up your storage space. Pricing is super affordable
So, turn on Google Drive inside of your Google Apps account and create a cloud based, easy access, sharable, central repository for all the documents you and your team use to get the job done without any more hassles and confusion.
Don't yet have a Google Apps for Work account set-up for your firm...? Contact Us Today!
Google Apps free accounts are no more....
Effective December 6, 2012 Google has announced the end of the free Google Apps version. Here's the new information as it relates to new Google Apps customers:
For Businesses, instead of two versions, there will be one. Companies of all sizes will sign up for the premium version, Google Apps for Business, which includes 24/7 phone support for any issue, a 25GB inbox, and a 99.9% up-time guarantee with no scheduled downtime. Pricing is still $50 per user, per year.
Please note this change has no impact on existing customers, including those using the free version.
Reach out to us to learn about our Google Apps set-up and training services.
Take a look at the Success Horizon and you can’t help but notice the many benefits of building a cloud based Business System. “Cloud” is a metaphor for the Internet. Over the last 5 years more and more companies have been delivering software that’s accessible from the Internet. No longer do you need to purchase expensive hardware and software to implement a new CRM solution for your work group. If you have consistent, reliable Internet, you can simply do some smart up-front planning and quickly deploy an effective solution that drives sales and provides your clients with an exceptional level of service.Small business has the advantage with the ability to quickly adjust and adapt. Cloud based Business Systems give you a powerful foundation for nimble change. New systems, better processes, timely campaigns, and work flow realignment… need to happen right now. It’s a fast track with very little margin for error. Building A Cloud Based Business System gives you a competitive advantage you can’t live without!
We moved to the cloud in 2008. It took about a week with our old system side-by-side with our new Cloud System… and BAM… there was no turning back! That’s saying a lot when you understand how entrenched we were with our old system, the basics had been in place since 1997. Since the change, we've made a commitment to search for the best cloud based tools and systems for our clients.
Why Business Systems Succeed with Cloud Solutions:
You were good at getting things done when you were working on your own. You did it all. Nothing slipped through the cracks. You finished what you started with a complete set of tried and true Next Steps. The devil was in the details and you were the devil’s task master... you sold, you serviced and you could count on successful outcomes.
But now things are different. You are growing and losing control. The door has been left wide open and it’s becoming more and more difficult to keep important details and follow-up in check. Work groups need tools and systems to slam the door shut on task and process mismanagement!
The problems start with the little things. Even with the best of intentions we all forget simple tasks... remembering to call someone when promised; sending the email follow-up; entering quick notes about your last conversation; adding the extra something... little professional things that people notice, customers love and clients have learned to expect. Each and every work group member must have a system in place for doing the little things... for doing exceptional follow-up.
The second issue is with process management. The checklist that kept you on-track fell by the wayside when things ramped up and more people jumped into the mix. Work groups need to be well trained relay runners with clear-cut systems for handing-off and receiving batons. A complete process development and management system needs to be implemented in a collaborative work space. We need to plan, rehearse and monitor the delivery of our services and products.
So, what’s the key to making this all work for your organization?
We must have a shared calendar that is linked to our contact data and driven by our unique and powerful strategies and tactics. We must have a tool set that gives us the ability to plan, develop and implement systems that create task reminders in a shared work group calendar. Those tasks are the key Action Steps you predetermine when you create a terrific step-by-step process. The rubber only hits the road when important task reminders are clearly displayed in the calendar and someone who cares makes sure things get done.
So come on, like my Mom used to say, were you born in a barn...?
Close that damn door!
It’s always a pleasure to introduce a business owner to Google Apps for the first time...
“Ok... so what your telling me is that Google apps will provide us with email- not free looking gmail... real business email with your domain name, shared calendars, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, web sites, instant messaging, and video chat all accessible anytime/anywhere by simply logging in with username and password over the internet”
“OK... got that. Your are also telling me that we don’t need to upgrade or purchase a new server, we don’t need to purchase or upgrade any software licenses, and as we go forward, we no longer need to keep paying for server maintenance or all those pesty, unpredictable fix and break issues with our IT”?
“And I hear you telling me that emails, calendars and contact data is easily synced to our mobile devices?"
“Did I also hear you correctly when you stated that our on-going cost per user for our work group of less than 11 users would be zip, nada, no annual fees at all unless our work group were to grow to over 10 users or we wanted some additional storage and some other nifty features that would then bump-up our annual cost to a whole $50 per user per year...?"
“To put the cherry on the cake, please tell me I wasn’t hallucinating when I heard you say that you also have a complete set of integrated applications that can be tailored to our work flow ”
“ My God man, do you realize that what you are telling me is that with Google Apps for Work we could save time, eliminate brain damage and save a significant portion of our current IT expenditures?”
“What’s the catch?"
“No catch, just grab Google Apps for running a quick, nimble and profitable business in the new economy!"
Plain english about Google Docs
"Oh yea, Google Docs... I know about Google Docs... just like Word right"?
Well, no, not really
With Google Docs you have access to online word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and forms. That's pretty cool... but the real power and benefit of using Google Docs comes from the new way you will think about and approach being productive when you work with others.... collaboration is powerful! Google Docs are part of the web suite of tools included with a Google Apps account... check out Google Apps.
We like things simple and straight-forward here at CBS, so watch this video and see a plain english explanation of how you can create documents and invite real-time sharing with Google Docs.
Steve Jobs- The Ultimate Cloud CEO
Why do I feel like the Cloud
just got a huge new burst of
energy, inspiration & focus?
Keeping your eye on the ball…? Have a clue as to what THE BALL actually is? The first step in creating a Terrific Business System is to have a crystal clear vision of exactly what you’re about. It’s your on-going, living and breathing Business Purpose.
What’s your Primary Aim?
The Primary Aim for our firm is to be a Success Builder. That’s exactly what our ball looks like. Each and every new plan, process and system is designed and inspired by our quest to create successful systems for our clients.
Discover your Primary Aim and then guide your business with a compass that leads you to where you were meant to be.
Systems are economic stimulus
Like me, you probably can’t imagine a scenario where the Federal Government would step in and do anything to help you when things got tough or a bad decision was made. Isn’t it nuts. Small businesses create more jobs and Economic Mojo then all of the Wall Street Bunglers and Political Hacks put together. We are the producers and unfortunately it looks like we will be forced to step in and bolster what these clowns have managed to bugar up. It’s a sad day when what makes this country so great is shadowed by a dark cloud of inept politics focused on greed and self interest.
Building a better Business System is smart economic stimulus during trying times. This is the right time to Systematize and run a smart, efficient, Primary Aim Oriented operation. Get started now… it doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated… it just needs to work.
We get out of bed and hear more and more about BIG economic problems. Are you doing everything possible to protect yourself and your organization from the perils of too much rotten, stinking, good for nothing news?!? Constant down-tone banter does nothing for attitudes, profit margins or hopes and dreams. What can you do to make sure your business gets out of bed with a positive, powerful mindset?
First, include consistent POSITIVE in your planning process. Everything begins and ends with planning. Take note of what’s going right as opposed to focusing exclusively on problems. Share the right things with everybody… prospects, customers, co-workers and your family! If you have a consistent planning system… which every good Business System Must Have … insert a constant flow of meaningful, uplifting, inspirational affirmations and quotes into your process. Check out Woopidoo.com, a Business Motivation Portal loaded with business and finance inspiration. Subscribe to receive a motivational business and finance quote three times each week and a motivational business article every Monday. Plan with Great Expectations. When sending communications, or scheduling meetings, include POSITIVE in your memos, emails and agendas.
Second, push POSITIVE with the creation and delivery of your Selling Systems. People buy on emotion and then they justify it with intellect and features. Appeal to their emotions first and foremost. Benefits are the language of emotion. Even people who insist they buy logically do so because that’s what makes them feel better. Keep your Promise and your marketing messages focused on the positive benefits of your product or service. Don’t sell really fantastic (Your Product/Service); sell what’s really POSITIVE ABOUT (Your Product/Service) to your prospects! You and your offer make a difference. Spread your message with POSITIVE passion!
Third, make POSITIVE your ongoing internal and external operating tone. Make it a habit to spread POSITIVE. Smiles are contagious and they attract new business! Give them and get them. Recognize and encourage POSITIVE. If people in your organization aren’t smiling and upbeat do something about it … it’s killing your business! Communicate with POSITIVE energy and make an extra effort to be completely understood by others. Check out Jon Gordon's The Positive Business Manifesto. He points out that management problems are the result of faulty communication. Communication gaps are filled in with negative energy. When people feel fearful, uncertain or unheard they start thinking the worst and act accordingly. Don’t let negative energy fill these voids and grow in these gaps. Make sure your Business System is designed to put effort AND ACTION into enhancing communications to eliminate negative gaps and allow POSITIVE energy to flow through your business.
Tough situations simply raise the bar… give your quest a powerful POSITIVE Get-Out-Of-Bed Vibe that transcends the times. Make sure your Business System has ongoing POSITIVE Action Plans built-in!
Each and every day we have an opportunity to create something special with energy and resources. So, why do some people and businesses succeed, while others stumble from week to week? Is it talent… luck … persistence… what’s the difference maker?
Nothing, by itself, is the driver for success.
Instead, it’s a consistent combination of many things coming together, at the right time. That’s what we are doing when we make a commitment to build a successful business system. It’s a relentless pursuit of excellence, each and every day. We know and understand how critical it is to make each day the absolute best that it can be. It's a sense of urgency applied consistently to how we run our business.
With that in mind, tune-in to this exceptional reminder from Dead Poet's Society and Seize The Day, each and every day, as a Success Builder.
CRM...uh, that stands for...
Wondering what CRM stands for? Here, for those of you who might be wondering, is the definition of CRM software from Wikipedia.
I couldn't have said it any better myself!
Customer Relationship Management Software
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Customer relationship management (CRM) is a widely-implemented strategy for managing a company’s interactions with customers, clients and sales prospects. It involves using technology to organize, automate, and synchronize business processes—principally sales activities, but also those for marketing, customer service, and technical support. The overall goals are to find, attract, and win new clients, nurture and retain those the company already has, entice former clients back into the fold, and reduce the costs of marketing and client service.
If you are looking for a CRM solution for your small business I would highly recommend Insightly! Check it out- they offer a free 2 user account to get started. The paid tiers start at about $15 per month per user. Tons of features, easy to use and integrated with your Google Apps/G Suite- this is my favorite for our small business clients!
Welcome to my blog
James Pappas is always on the lookout for new ideas, systems and tools for small business.
Stay tuned as he shares his favorite apps and explores new ways to get things done and take care of business.