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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

So Close: Clinching the sale when potential clients begin to waver

Before making your case:

The most important preparation you can make before selling your product or service is to do your research. You likely already know your own business inside and out, but it's essential to understand the needs of your potential clients and why your business is the best resource to fulfill them. Good preparation will help you exude confidence in your pitch, which means that you will perform better and your potential clients are more likely to positively receive your pitch.

After the pitch: steady the wavering clients

You're finishing up your proposal or presentation to a prospective client when you hear the dreaded phrase: "I'll have to think about it." At this point, resist the urge to beg and plead your case. Behavior like this will weaken the argument you just made. After the potential client has surrendered his or her feelings of uncertainty, ask questions to pinpoint their biggest apprehensions of accepting your proposal. Is your potential client:

  • Worried about spending the money? If it's a B2B sale, assure them that, as a business, they must spend money to make money. Sitting on all their assets without investing in methods of growth means their own business will fizzle.

  • Afraid they will overpay for your services? This is where that research you conducted will come in handy. Remind potential clients that "you get what you pay for." Differentiate your business from your competitors and site specific examples as to why your product or service is a great value for them.

  • Concerned that not all of their team members are on board? Ask who or what team is responsible for making the final decision. Remind the potential client that although complete consensus is the best scenario, you can't always wait for everyone to be in agreement. Where would we be if we waited for every person in the US — or even everyone in the Senate to agree on the same candidate for president?

  • Anxious about the state of the economy? Tell them that one of the worst reactions to a recession in the market is to hide all of their assets under their bed. True, the potential profits in the current economic climate have been slashed. However, opportunity to get a slice of the remaining profit lies in the hesitation of other businesses and consumers. Carpe diem, opportunities abound for business growth!

After the sale: garnering future and repeat customers

Following the sale, a little creative customer service can go quite a long way in the eyes of your customers. You need to improve your customer service to maintain a healthy bottom line. Remember the old gift-giving adage "it's the thought that counts?" Well, the saying rings true in the business world as well. Any company can send out a complimentary calendar with their business logos and photos plastered all over it, but a gift like this is neither creative nor thoughtful.

Instead, work to match the gift with the client receiving it. For example, let's say that in your last meeting, your client mentioned a restaurant he or she just dined at. Show him or her you appreciate the business by sending a thank-you note along with a gift card for said restaurant. Creative customer service techniques like this will keep your business top of mind as well as demonstrate you're really listening. Another perk: fantastic customer service will build your reputation via word of mouth, which means more business for you.

Yes, it's tough out there and sales are more difficult to clinch. However, with excellent preparation and top-rate follow through and customer retention, you can persuade your potential clients to come off the fence.

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posted by Tiger Leasing @ 8:18 AM 0 Comments Links to this post

Friday, December 17, 2010

Managing Difficult and Underperforming Employees

Whether you own your own business or are a member of management in a corporation, you're likely to encounter challenging employees. No matter if it's their work ethic or personality that rubs you the wrong way, the easiest coping strategy for this situation is often to simply ignore it altogether. However, turning a blind-eye to the problem almost always means that office tensions will escalate further.

Before taking action, determine specifically, using concrete examples, exactly what the employee does that aggravates you. This exercise will ensure that your qualms regarding the individual are justified and he or she is not simply the office scapegoat. It can be all-to-easy to start unconsciously assigning undue blame on a single member of your staff.

If you find the difficult employee in question is indeed causing tension for you or the rest of your staff, as his or her boss, you have the responsibility to defuse the situation promptly and with the necessary tact. Remember that all your other team members will be watching — especially if the behavior of the person in question directly affects their workday.

When confronting a difficult employee with poor work ethic or behavior:

  • Act immediately: You may not enjoy initiating a confrontation with a problem employee, but the longer you wait, the more likely the situation is to become unmanageable. In addition, you don't want to convey the attitude that poor behavior in the workplace will be tolerated by other team members.

  • Maintain a professional attitude: It's essential that you not lose your temper or refer to non-work related grievances during the conversation. Offer your respect by keeping the conversation appropriate and out of view and earshot of other employees. Unless it's necessary to consult other team members, keep the issue private.

  • Be clear: Site specific examples and set explicit boundaries. Clue the employee in on the consequences their actions have to their team or the business as a whole. Remember that it's possible that your employee was not even aware of his or her infractions.

  • Offer recommendations: Let the employee in question give his or her side of the story to help you understand the motives. After hearing them out fully, offer your insight on how they can make adjustments.

  • Don't be quick to fire: Not only is employee turnover costly to a business, it can also present legal issues. Terminating an employee should be your last resort. Remember, investing in your employees makes sense.
If it's quality of the employee's work rather than his or her conduct that is the issue, as a manager, you're responsible for helping that employee fully understand your expectations. Again the team member in question may not even know that you're dissatisfied.

When confronting a difficult employee with poor quality of work:

  • Act on an appropriate timeline: If it's an inexperienced employee or a novel project, do give the person some time to figure it out on their own. However, if the quality does not improve, it's time to tackle the issue face-to-face.
  • Point the finger on yourself: Consider the notion that it's not the employee that is the problem, but your own directions that are resulting in miscommunication. Start by asking how the employee thinks he or she should be completing the project and ask them to site the steps they're taking. Then assess again how the situation needs to be remedied.

  • Change the way you present instructions: Different people learn and understand best using different methods of communication. Strive to understand how your employee operates by giving instructions both verbally and in writing.

  • Don't intimidate: Instead of calling employees into your office, confront them about their performance on their own turf. They'll feel more at ease and the conversation will likely be more productive.
The most important takeaway should be to refrain from making assumptions. Don't immediately presume it's the employee that's in the wrong and don't assume the problem employee knows his or her quality of work or behavior is in question. By approaching the situation from different viewpoints and asking questions, confrontations are more likely to yield positive results.

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posted by Tiger Leasing @ 1:51 PM 0 Comments Links to this post

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Know When It’s Time to Upgrade Your Business Equipment

If your business mantra is "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," you're probably operating with outdated equipment. Yes, the economy and good business practices dictate that necessity comes before wanton spending. However, even if your outdated equipment is still functioning, it might be in the best interest of your business to replace it anyway. Tiger Leasing understands it can be difficult to determine when the best time to upgrade your office equipment is. We've put together some tips so you know when the time is right for your business.

When productivity is affected

As technological advancements breed new equipment, bigger companies with higher equipment budgets will be on the cutting edge, snatching up the biggest, the strongest and the fastest tools of their trade. It is understandable that not all businesses have the means to keep up — nor should they. However, when new technology means the job gets done on a shorter timeline and with greater efficacy, business equipment upgrades are worth it.
To arrive at an unbiased decision, look at the situation from a purely mathematic point of view. Calculate how long the job is taking with your current equipment and the overhead costs such as labor that are associated with your current timeline. Next, estimate how much time would be saved if you had more advanced equipment. Compare these numbers in the long run. When would your potential profit outweigh the cost? Also consider opportunity cost — how many other projects could your business have taken on if the time it took to complete your projects was reduced by new equipment.

When new equipment means new business

Your business may have started out fulfilling a single niche in your industry. However, as equipment technology advances and competition gets stiff, you may need to expand the number and level of services you offer. Do an analysis of your business to determine if equipment upgrades can allow you to provide a unique skill set, thereby acquiring new clients.

When there are government tax breaks and incentives

Currently, as a result of the Small Business Jobs Act, small and moderate sized businesses can benefit from significant tax deductions when they buy or lease new equipment. Under Section 179, businesses that spend less than $2 million a year on qualified equipment can write-off up to $500,000 of their purchases. Additionally, The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 extends a 50% first year bonus depreciation and AMT depreciation on new business equipment.

When your reputation is at stake

Are potential clients not taking your business seriously because your equipment is outdated? Are you not able to hire the most qualified employees because they refuse to toil on old equipment? Mull over these questions when deciding if new equipment will be a profitable move. Increased revenues based on your business's reputation can be difficult to measure, but that doesn't mean they don't require the same level of consideration as the other profitable facets of your business.
Equipment leasing allows businesses to upgrade their current equipment without tying up your cash and working capital. Preserve your credit lines and your business by acquiring the equipment you need through leasing and financing programs. Don't let your competition pass you by, lease the equipment you need to get ahead in your industry.

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posted by Tiger Leasing @ 11:40 AM 0 Comments Links to this post