Lean In Jamaica Program

The 12 things I learned from “Lean In” and the Discussion Guide

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This is what I learned in each chapter. Since I couldn’t possibly do the book justice; I implore you to read it.

  1. Don’t judge a book by its author - The first and foremost thing I learned from Lean In was to not judge a book by its author. I fell into the trap like so many others lambasting Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg for writing a book about challenges she couldn’t possibly understand. My initial objective in reading the book was to be able to criticize from a position of knowledge.  I couldn’t have been more wrong. Immediately I was absorbed into a funny, witty, very personal account of what read as easily to me as would my own story. The Lean In concept consumed me. I was thrilled to know that I had been leaning in for quite some time, but… there was so much more that I could do and with so much more finesse.  I’m sharing with you my personal take aways from the Lean In experience while wishing you your own experience with this transformational book.
  2. Chapter 1 – What would I do if I weren’t afraid? I’d work for me and simultaneously start a technology company…in progress! I learned that I don’t have to be  afraid nor embarrassed by my fear.
  3. Chapter 2 - How am I going to sit at the table? Rather than waiting patiently to be appointed to more Boards, I’m going to seek out Board appointments. Truthfully it is scary to say but I’ve also learned to be more emboldened and not hide from by what I really truly want; success.
  4. Chapter 3 - How am I going to be successful and liked?  The first ground breaker for me was just understanding why I wasn’t as liked as much as I wanted to be, and then discovering that with some careful thought and positioning, I could soften while not diluting my delivery of opinions, recommendations or decisions.   My most valuable takeaway from the book came here; I learned how to negotiate well without giving up too much ground (what I normally do) and without risking the relationship (what I normally fear).
  5. Chapter 4 – It IS a jungle gym not a ladder! I’ve realized that it’s ok for my path to the corner office to meander. I won’t shy away from opportunities or challenges that are parallel or even downward if ultimately I can see them leading to rapid advancement.
  6. Chapter 5 - Who are my mentors? While I’m not great at asking for help, I have a handful of friends, male and female, who I go to for help on an on-going basis whether it’s a new idea or a “how to” execution question.  I learned that those are my mentors, how to seek more, and the best way to engage them.
  7. Chapter 6 - My truth… I need to learn about gentle delivery, especially when I’m upset.
  8. Chapter 7 – About leaving before I leave.  Another challenge for me, I’m moving and every decision I’ve made in the last year has been around the move rather than just making the best decisions.  I don’t do well with uncertainty so this one will have to be a work in progress for me.
  9. Chapter 8 – Having a real partner. I’m lucky, I’ve won the partner lottery, he’s fair and simply an amazing source of love and support. The sad part is I didn’t expect of him the shared responsibility that he automatically assumed. I didn’t realize it was what I should have expected, that’s why I count myself so lucky that it was a conclusion that he came to on his own.
  10. Chapter 9 - Doing it all…Secretly I like being thought of as “How does she do it” so I bake the cookies and then work all night. I think what I learned here is when my efforts miss the mark I don’t have to emotionally flog myself; it is what it is.
  11. Chapter 10 – Talk about it! If we’re ever going to shift the gender bias we have to acknowledge it exists and take baby steps as well as leaps in order to over come it.  I learned that I shouldn’t be afraid to talk about it, it’s not imaginary it’s real.
  12. Chapter 11 - Working together… I love working with women, they’re tremendously hardworking and dedicated. What I don’t like is the perception some men have that women can’t work well together. My lesson was to stamp out that kind of nonsense when I hear it, and gently nudge women I see that aren’t supporting their counterparts.

That’s what I learned.

Here are the discussion guides, Lean In!

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Social Media Cheat Sheet

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Our Services

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Caribbean Women in Leadership, Yep, Still a Crisis!

Men are from Mars Women are from Venus was never more evident to me than from a meeting that I was in today.  Two men were lamenting that the IDB created a lending program specifically targeted to women entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean. These esteemed, extremely bright, and well meaning gentlemen had surmised that since women are graduating in greater numbers than men, true (source:gapminder.org) and women make up a greater percentage of the overall workforce than men, not true 55%men, 45% women (source: Statin) that there is no need to create  incentive programs for women.  I’m fully astounded that anyone could dispute the plight of women in this day and age.

The Facts

The reality is that women are STILL disproportionately under represented in leadership roles in the Caribbean, even with two female Prime Ministers.  I’m just about convinced that having female Prime Ministers is conspicuously misleading.  Trinidad and Jamaica are the only two of the 15 Caricom member states with female leadership. Eighty – Seven Percent (87%) of Caricom is run by men. The same may be true in business, we see Thalia Lyn and Audrey Marks and somehow believe that we’re home free. Regardless of how many working women you see the data suggests that there aren’t enough, yet.

The gentlemen I was meeting with believed that women are represented in the majority in the financial services sector. Here’s the skinny, not nearly, not in leadership anyway.

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(Source: Each of their websites)

So what does it all mean? That we’ve got a long way to go but anyone that perpetuates a myth that women are treated equally in the workforce to men is a part of the problem, not the solution. It’s tantamount to saying that racism has disappeared since Barack Obama became US President. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that we’re making gains but have so much more ground to cover.

What we can learn about Customer Service from the Harlem Shake Phenomenon!

What can we learn from 32 seconds of a viral video about excellence in customer service delivery.

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Original Harlem Shake http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=384IUU43bfQ

In two weeks, an obscure group of teenagers and a song released last year went from 0 – 175 Million views on Youtube. The video was released on February 2nd by five teenagers from Queensland, Australia. The teenagers danced to “Harlem Shake” by electronic musician Baauer which has since  inspired tens of thousands of copy cat videos, over 40,000 in the first 2 weeks. Baauer’s single reached #1 on the iTunes America chart and #2 on iTunes in the UK and Australia by February 15, 2013.

Three distinct aspects

  • Part 1 - Usually, a “Harlem Shake” video begins with one person (often helmeted or masked) dancing to the song alone for 15 seconds, surrounded by other people not paying attention or unaware of the person dancing.
  • Part 2 - The bass drops and the video cuts to the entire crowd doing a crazy convulsive dance for the next 15 seconds, there’s a slow down, but then everyone continues.
  • Part 3 - As the video progresses everyone is wildly and passionately doing their own dance but all with the music, creating a single scene. Typically people wield strange props while doing the dance.

 

What does this have to do with Excellent Customer Service and how are the two similar?

Customer Service Definition:  Customer service is the provision of service to customers (internal and external) before, during and after a purchase. It’s how you treat people; everyone you meet is a potential customer.

Harlem Shake – starts with one nameless faceless person, just doing their thing having a good time and … no one notices. Excellent Customer Service starts the same way, normally it’s just one nameless faceless person that starts the revolution and yes typically everyone else is oblivious. Even if no one notices, commit to delivering the best customer service experience anyway. Deliver out of passion. A passion for customers and a passion for what you do.

Lesson One: Deliver your customer service passionately as though no one is watching.

Then the beat drops and… other people finally see what’s happening catch the groove and start to participate. If you’re the innovator and you deliver excellent service, eventually everyone else will catch on.  Even if the momentum slows, worry not, things will pick up, just keep doing your best.  If you’re not the innovator, but you see the momentum around you, join in.

Lesson Two: Participate in what’s taking place in your organization, allow yourself to get caught up in the transformation that’s taking place.

Finally a truly uninhibited group of individuals dances wildly usually with odd props, but creating one cohesive scene. Once everyone is involved and uninhibited everyone has to be empowered to deliver their own brand of customer service under an overarching guideline which is the organization’s customer service policy.

Lesson Three:  Feel empowered to deliver your brand of customer service, depending on your role. Take your customer service viral.

And the props you’ll need….

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  1. A Ring (engagement ring) to remember to engage your customers, really understand what they want, be the conversation starter.
  2. Eye glasses to make sure to maintain eye contact, they’ll know that you’re sincere.
  3. Headphones to plug into them and actively listen to their wants, needs and objectives.
  4. Deodorant so that you can be up close and personal, be personable and sincere so that they want to do business with you.
  5. A tooth brush to remind you to always smile.
  6. Keys as in keys to something you own, take ownership of your customer relationship, take ownership of anything that is handed to you to execute on.
  7. A ball to remind you to not drop the ball, when something is given to you, don’t drop it and if you’re giving something to someone else to do, make sure to confirm that they’ve got it before you let it go.
  8. A copy of the book Great Expectations to remind you to set a great expectation then exceed it.
  9. Proactiv Acne Cream to remind you to be proactive, learn your customers patterns so that you can anticipate their needs.
  10. A hammer that reminds you that when there’s an issue, just fix it, don’t run, don’t hide, just fix it.
  11. A mirror to remind you to treat customers the way you’d like to be treated, if you act as though you’re always serving the ultimate customer, you, your delivery will be impeccable.
  12. A watch to remind you to set the time expectation, if you’re committing to an activity set a deadline and stick to it. If you can’t stick to the deadline, then follow up before the deadline. Follow up with them before they have to check back with you, they’ll know you haven’t forgotten.
  13. A Bible to remind you to be trustworthy and honest.  Every interaction with your customer should be as though you’re under oath.
  14. A Spoon & Bowl to remind you to prepare as you would prepare food, put all the ingredients together and don’t be afraid to mix things up. For every customer interaction prepare, look at the industry, do your research, so that you’re in the best position to deliver.

 

Why? – Because your life and livelihood depends on it.  With the economy the way that it is, excellence in customer service has to be one of many defining characteristics of your business.  The companies that survived the great depression were the ones that out innovated, out planned and out served their competition.  Deliver like your company, your family, your life depends on it, because in these trying times, they do.

My personal favorite Harlem Shake version so far http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Creyd_QN8WM enjoy!

3 Apps to simplify your life

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As a technologist techie and gadget freak, I’ve always been an app fanatic.  These are my favorites, Asana, a to do list app, EEBA a budgeting app and Anylist a shopping list app and here’s why:

Asana

As a power Microsoft office user, former teacher and staunch advocate, it pained me to move to apple and a macbook pro.  The angst lasted for about five minutes.  The thing I did miss most though was my to do list and the ability to drag and drop from mail to calendar to tasks and  around.  It created the ultimate flexibility in information management. So while I quickly grew to love my mac it really frustrated me to revert to little pieces of paper to keep my tasks.  Some apple forums discussed neat tricks like creating all day calendar items for each task and then moving them into the timeslot in which they belong. That works save for the fact that you don’t get a reminder that you were supposed to have done something last week and  you forgot.  Hello Asana! I found it when my frustration of managing 6 projects and being a mom hit an all time high.   The best thing about Asana is that it’s free up to 30 collaborators and available both on your phone and on the cloud via desktop. It is phenomenal at collaboration and provides all the reminders you need, it even synchronizes with a calendar. It allows me to invite clients only to their portion of a project so that they can see what’s happening, what are the tasks associated with their project and what are the due dates.  This saves me from having to create a separate document or provide an update, as it emails them any time I’ve updated a task to which I’ve invited them, and it’s completely intuitive.  Despite my Microsoft expertise, I struggled in the early days with the mac, to me it wasn’t so intuitive, so Asana is definitely silly proof.

www.asana.com

EEBA

The first time I saw the ad for the new banking application Virtual Wallet by  PNC Bank I was insanely jealous! Why couldn’t I have that, the ability to manage my finances on my phone, and budget from a perspective of what I’ve allocated and not what I’ve spent.  By the time you’ve spent it, the damange is done. EEBA has been a Godsend.  You fill your envelopes every month with your income, you enter very easily every time you spend something and indicate which envelope and voila! Money Management. It’s been great for me as I’m seeing patterns and opportunities for saving long term by cutting back in certain areas and being more realistic in others.

EEBA incorporates your bank accounts although I’ve not enabled that functionality.  My accounts are in different currencies so I thought that might confuse it, but I shall try it and provide an update.  The app also allows you to share the app with your family members so that if you’re working from one household budget and someone spends from “Takeout” for instance, you know right away.

https://www.eebacanhelp.com

 

Anylist

I’ve used a number of grocery store list applications, I won’t name some of them as many were frustrating and overly complex in their execution.  Anylist on the otherhand anticipates what you’re typing pulls from a master list that they already have which is so obvious I don’t know why the others aren’t all doing at least that, and it sorts your list into the areas of the grocery t hat you have to go to get it, so that you don’t realize you need milk three aisles after you’ve passed dairy.  It has also been updated to manage multiple lists so that you can do a separate one for pharmacy, hardware store, mega store or shopping abroad, and it’s shareable.

I’ve discovered if you need it and can think of it you can find an app to do it, and if you can’t find it, you might have just stumbled upon the next big business idea.  Multiple online services can help you create your dream app, we can help you prepare the plan and beta test it.

http://www.anylistapp.com

With this arsenal of new apps at my fingertips I should be ultra over organized, if only I could get all of my bills and statements solely electronically I could save a forest of trees and never see a piece of paper again.  Maybe that’s the next blog, how to save the earth one app at a time.

What you can do about Jamaica’s failing education system

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There are certain things that are always true.  

15 years ago as I sat in church with my then 2 year old daughter, I worried about money the way I always do.  The pastor said take out your cheque books. Reluctantly I took mine out. He said thumb through it, look for the biggest cheque that you’ve written this month I found it. He said “That is the thing that is most important to you, whether it’s your home, your car or something else.  If it isn’t you need to reconcile that, but realize that you speak with your money.” My biggest cheque was my daughter’s daycare/education, it was more than my mortgage, and I was fine with that. It helped me gain some clarity about my own purpose and about being on the right path. He was right, it is true, you spend your money on what you believe is important.

Education is changing  

If I told you I had an apple, your first thought would probably be that I meant technology by mac and not an apple from a tree.  A red apple used to be the symbol of Education, but technology is changing the dynamics of education.  And if we’re not in a position to move forward with the wave of change we’ll be left behind. The technology apple is now the new symbol of education.

The reality of our situation  

The reality of the situation is that less than 20% of our students pass CXC, CXC is the standard by which we judge performance and ability to be admitted to university or get a job. The Jamaican Government figures indicate that 40% of students pass CXC, which is bad enough.  What happens to the other 60%, but the reality is even more dire.  That 40% is 40% of only  half of the students that entered high school.  The other half elected not to take the exam,  they knew they wouldn’t pass. (source: http://www.moe.gov.jm)  So what do we do?

Potential

The truth is, Jamaican kids are very bright, you need only interact with them to know they’re brimming with potential and not just the Campionites, but the holy childhoods the Andrews the  Priory all of them.  Unfortunately being bright doesn’t guarantee  access to learning resources or the education that you would need in order to be able to compete with the world’s best.  If we’re thinking about the world, let’s start with how we compare regionally.

GDP  

Primary Education – In the region Trinidad spends 15% of GDP, Jamaica 20% and Barbados 23%, however what that translates into Jamaica 1.3K, Trinidad 2.5K and Barbados 3.6K per person.  (source gapminder.org 2010)  The answer can’t be to ask the Jamaican Government to spend a greater portion of GDP on Education. Unfortunately  the pie we have is already very small and shrinking, the percentage is right in the middle, but Jamaica’s GDP is low, and Education is a simpler issue to manage than GDP/productivity at the moment.

So what’s the answer? 

The answer is for the private sector to assist in bridging the gap to assist educators in doing more for less.  By employing a flipped classroom model we can at least provide greater access to parents and children to materials when they need it so that at any point in the process where there is a breakdown there is also a failsafe.  Jamaica Education Television, is such an initiative, it is a public private partnership with the ministry of education. The objective is to outfit schools with televisions, and broadcast the best educational material into those classrooms while making it available to over 600K households on a cable channel and on demand. Children get access to the best content, and use classroom time for more interaction with the teacher after having heard the lecture at home.  If we don’t address it now it will not continue to get better if we ignore it,  the quality of education available in Jamaica will only spiral downwards.

Flow and Burger King are fully on board….where’s your cheque book?

 

 

3 Reasons Your Business Needs a Facebook Page

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by Nicholas Mayne, Domayne Social

Many small business owners believe that a website is the only digital presence needed to represent their firm, inform and acquire prospective clients. Whether you have a website, or are considering Facebook as an alternative here are four reasons why Facebook may be the only presence your business needs. Facebook is social, targeted and cost effective advertising, and most importantly has the ability to increase the depth of your interaction with your client.
1. Social - First and foremost Facebook is social. Which means that you can facilitate two-way communication between yourself and your prospective client. Websites are notorious for being static and lacking opportunity for true interaction. Facebook on the other hand, is built for exchange. It’s a natural extension of people’s propensity to tell a friend when they receive exceptional service and it’s so simple. Unlike a blog where you start most of the dialogue, Facebook puts the power in the hands of your customers and friends to start the conversation on your behalf. Good or bad, people get a sense of your personality as a business and how you deal with things.

You can actually sit back and see the recent activity happening on your page, as customers share photos, information and interests surrounding your product or solution. Your prospective client evolves from an anonymous visitor, to a real person that you and your community can interact with.

Anything posted on your Facebook page can be shared by anyone. The importance of this is that you can generate massive exposure for your business simply by posting content that is useful to your followers. If your content is shared it takes on a life of its own, with it, your company logo and name with no limit to where it may reach. Your brand recognition grows as the conversation continues. Whenever something you post is responded to through a like or comment, the impact is exponential, it shows up in countless newsfeeds.

2. Targeted and cost effective  Advertising – With over 1 billion+ users, millions accessing their pages every day every possible demographic is tapped. The beauty of Facebook advertising is that you have the ability to target your ads to a very specific audience based on criteria such as gender, location, age, family status, interests, device used to log into Facebook (e.g. smartphone, desktop, tablet) etc. Also, you can also limit your advertising to friends of your current followers accessing new customers who may have heard about you through their friends already.

So if your target market is Caribbean Entrepreneurs between the ages of 25-50 who list CARICOM and investing as an interest on their Facebook profile, you are in a position to engage them directly with your services. It is far more precise and cost effective than other mass marketing options.

3. Deepens Relationships – The Facebook platform can be customized in a number of different ways through Facebook and third party applications. Your Facebook presence can have a web type experience while still having a number of different opportunities for you to be interactive. Beyond just posting on your wall you can host a Q&A session to develop relationships and understand what your prospective clients real needs are. As a means of engagement prospective clients can private message you a question they need answered. You can steer the client in the right direction, and then urge them to sign up for a paid consultation to get more detailed and customized information based on specifics.

You are able to make your client, a better client. For example, An intellectual property attorney client of mine, regularly posts IP law advice and information on a custom Facebook page we created for him. Given all of the information available on his page, by the time a prospective client decides to engage with his firm for legal services, they are already familiar with the laws that apply to their situation. They’re able to ask smarter and more relevant questions providing the attorney the opportunity to accomplish more with each interaction.

Social marketing is now, if your business doesn’t have a Facebook presence it needs one. Similar to the invention of the telephone, fax machine, radio, TV, and e-mail, social marketing is simply the next step.

Nicholas Mayne is founder of Domayne Social, a consulting firm helping small businesses take advantage of social networking to acquire new clients and enhance business operations. Please feel free to contact him at 315-527-0227 or nickmayne@gmail.com.

Terminating Staff? Don’t feel bad, really.

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I’m a Malcom Gladwell enthusiast to say the least.  The author of Blink, Tipping Point and Outliers among others is a confirmed genius or at least an outlier according to his book. His philosophy creeps into a blog here and there, now and then.   Every time I read a book about some super genius, like Gladwell, Steve Jobs or Oprah that was fired I think, “Seriously?!?!?”. Yes apparently sometimes employers get it wrong, or do they?  Maybe it wasn’t working, maybe it was clear from the onset that they were destined for greater things, or maybe whomever fired them was blind, or worse threatened by their genius.  Regardless of what it might have been it was a blessing.  None of them would have accomplished what they did without that defining incident.  Being fired can be a tipping point.   A really good friend of mine at the moment is praying to be fired.  She simply hates her job but can’t seem to kick herself in the pants to believe that there is something else out there in these challenging times. So she goes to work and waits for the kick, every day.

That’s why it never bothers me to fire anyone. I firmly believe that everyone is good at something and needs to find their calling.  If I have provided all of the support, guidance, tools and opportunities to learn and develop and if not at least due care. Then I can part company with an employee with the clearest of consciences. Who knows you may just be the hand of divinity on that person’s path to a brighter future.

You always hear that people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. So does every job, and while you always want to leave on your own terms, that’s not always going to be the case.  I’m extremely fortunate for every path that crosses mine, each one is an opportunity to learn, grow or interact.

I was terminated, and it truly was the best thing that could have happened to me. I’m not saying it feels great at the time, and if you are terminated with a sense of dignity it makes a big difference in your recovery.  A termination almost always creates a sense of uncertainty, even if you will it or expected it.  But there is one certainty, when my final biography is written that incident will be highlighted as the thing that I most needed that I couldn’t do myself. I now live in gratitude of that moment and for any every success that has come since, even more so.

 

Is Timing Everything? – Why The Time Your Staff Arrives Isn’t Important.

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Is the time your staff arrives to work important.  That depends, doesn’t it always depend? But yes it depends.  If they have customer facing entry level jobs then it does matter, they have to be there at the time they’re supposed to be there or customers aren’t served, doors aren’t opened, shifts aren’t changed and the system falls down.  However if what they do is primarily mental mid to upper management then I challenge anyone that believes it’s better to monitor time than performance.  Arrival and departure time is no more a measure of productivity than skin colour is a measure of sun exposure; it’s totally hit or miss.

Here’s a study by Dan Pink about Motivation from his book Drive, astounding.

In addition to above, my experience has always been that the more you empower people to perform and make them feel that what they’re doing is important instilling a sense of pride, you get a natural tendency towards going above and beyond.  Which could mean many things including early arrival, if that’s when their brain works the best.  Any staff member at mid management that has to be monitored on a minute-by-minute basis either has a lack of understanding or feeling of control of their area of concern or is a poor fit for the role. Focusing on measurable achievement on the other hand is something that can be relied upon.  Is that fool proof, not by any means but neither is monitoring arrival. Some people arrive early and leave late to avoid traffic but spend their whole day social slacking on Facebook. What’s important is to set the expectation and explain any stringent time requirements.  As an employer and as a parent I’ve always found that the more you treat people like children the more they reach your minimum expectation. In both instances they are problems that you as the person in charge have to solve, but in my opinion, punching the clock isn’t the solution.

 

Cheap, Quick, Quality Website in 6 Simple Steps

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I’m sure you didn’t think it was possible, to have a cheap, quick quality website, as it turns out, you can have your cake and eat it too.

I’d once heard that you can get cheap and quick, without quality, quick and quality, but not cheap, or cheap and quality but not quickly  never all three. Either you get it quick and cheap but the quality suffers, it’s great and inexpensive but takes long, or quick and great quality but expensive. That doesn’t apply to websites, not any more. These days, you can have it all.

Using the 6 simple steps below you can have a quality website, quickly without a huge investment.

1. Strategy - Evaluate your strategy, what are you using the web presence for. Once you determine what that is, the process of having a website up and running is extremely simple.
2. Website or Simple Blog – Determine do you really need a website. In the current times of giving to get, and by that I mean Blogging, if the primary function of your website will be to share information and facilitate easy updating then I strongly recommend that you use a Blog. WordPress is my favourite template, it’s easy to use and even easier to update. You don’t have to be particularly web savvy. If you’re going to use a WordPress Blog then pick a free theme, buy a premium theme, or pay for customization, either way it will run you under $150USD. You can have different pages and a reasonably sophisticated menu system, and if that’s all you need then you could be set up in under an hour. There’s even an option to purchase your domain from WordPress so that your blog can appear at www.mycooldomainname.com or whatever you choose.
3. Website Template - If you must have a website, then unless your requirements are super sophisticated, I’d suggest you use a template and a cheap service to update it. www.TemplateMonster.com is my favourite to find a great selection of templates. It lets you search by service, key words, colours and/or format so you can easily identify the right template to use. Just about all of the elements are changeable so if you find something close to what you need then go with it.
4. Photography selection - If the site is fantastic but you’re not crazy about the images they’ve used try www.istockphoto.com for some lovely pictures that are also easy to search and find.
5. Resourcing - Finally to update it, post on elance, you can find thousands of suppliers ready and willing to assist you in completing and uploading your new site.
6. Instruction Template - I used the following template form that I created in order to provide the page-by-page text and images in order to update the site. It includes an example of the type of instructions.Website Template Completion Instructions

These instructions were sufficiently brief. If you need more detailed instructions in any area, please feel free to write to me.

5 Must have sales tools critical to successful selling

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You wouldn’t go into battle unarmed and you never see a doctor without a stethoscope?  So then why would you send sales people into customers without the tools and materials that they need to be successful?  Far too many organizations focus on hiring the right sales team, which is really important but what is equally important is that they have the tools necessary to sell and close efficiently making the best use of their time.  Taking for granted that they have the basics which I consider to be business cards, a smartphone, a computer and the company website. There’s simply no excuse for not having a website.   These three can make or break your sales targets:

  1. Commission Plan & Target – Steven Covey was right in the 7 steps, put first things first. If your sales team doesn’t have an incentive plan they don’t really know what you consider is important.  Targets are hard wired into sales people’s DNA. You get the kind of performance that you create an incentive around, which doesn’t mean that you have to create an incentive for everything, but you do need an incentive plan to provide some direction.
  2. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – This to me is the single most important sales tool.  Keep track of all of your contacts and the contact you’ve had with them, measure your deals, and measure performance against target.  Keep track of all correspondence in one place. CRM is the gauge of your performance. 
  3. Company Brochure – Certainly your sales team can articulate the basics of what you have to offer, however, a brochure, collateral material or leave behind is critical to your sales team’s success.  Most buyers forget most of what you say by the time you leave.  A brochure serves as a colourful and pesky reminder of your offering and early conversation. The trick is to create a brochure that speaks to your value proposition the way that your best sales people would.  It can serve as a training aid for new team members as well.
  4. Proposal Template – Once you finally get a client really and truly interested in a solution, you’ve assessed their needs, you’ve qualified the opportunity and determined why they simply cannot survive without your product or service you have to put it all in writing.  The problem is, this can be quite a time-consuming event, robbing sale people of much needed client facing time.  Worse if your team aren’t natural writers it makes executing a proposal document even more difficult.  The truth of the matter is, outside of the positioning to that specific client, your proposals should be pretty standard.  Proposals should include the same information about the product or service and why they should choose you.  The information that differs is the positioning, configuration and price.  Create a template for those things that are repeatable so that minimal time is used re-writing what has already been created. It also provides the opportunity to put your best foot forward.
  5. Linkedin Page – Admittedly I was one of the last people to see the merits of LinkedIn.  I think it’s just not intuitive to me, so I didn’t take to it.  Moreover I don’t like how most people use it as yet another opportunity to spam others.  However, LinkedIn is invaluable to understand who your “six degrees of separation” are.  If you’re in the Caribbean it’s less than two.  If you’re polite and have a well-developed page, you can have your LinkedIn connections introduce you to potential customers. See where they’ve worked and what they consider their value proposition.  When selling to a customer, a scan of their LinkedIn can tell you what their personal wins are.  How quickly they’ve escalated through the organization and what their career aspirations might be.  Be the person that helps them to get there with your solution.

 

If you have all of the above then I’ll say you’re golden, on to the next sale for you. If not, contact us, let’s see if we can help.

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