Archives for 2013

The 5 Minute Rule Is Key To Lead Conversion

You are 100 times more likely to connect with a lead if

you call within five minutes rather than 30 minutes!   

This groundbreaking statistic from a researcher at MIT* only proves the point many of us already know: internet leads are only as good as the speed with which we follow-up.

If you feel like you’re not getting any business from the leads you’re generating, or you’re concerned about the quality, here are five tips that might help you refine your follow-up program:

Tip 1: Act quickly:
Your prospects are busy and will move on quickly.  When prospects call, email or submit an online form, they are actively asking you to engage with them.  As mentioned, even a five-minute delay drastically reduces the chance you’ll turn that lead into a client.  In fact, for the vast majority, if you wait more than a day they’ll probably have forgotten they even contacted you.  It’s vital to pick up the phone whenever possible (of course, not when you’re with a client!).  If you’re worried that you don’t find out about incoming leads in time, have a system in place that automates your notification with text message alerts and responds to them as well.

Tip 2: Do Your Research before Responding:
We work in a busy, fast paced world, so look for solutions that let you provide personalized information – quickly and easily.  Hopefully your lead generation forms give you a good cross-section of information so you can begin a follow up call on the right foot.

Tip 3: Appreciate the Lead:
Not every lead is created equal, and not everyone is ready to transact today.  Be patient, and tailor your follow up, and you’ll find you’ll have more opportunities to connect with those internet buyers.  Some early stage leads take months to transact.  That is future business, if your follow up is consistent.

Tip 4: Use the Same Method of Contact:
This one is pretty simple.  If they emailed you, email them back.  Same goes for calls.  Some people just ‘don’t do email’ and want to talk to a live person.  These individuals usually have more specific questions, and have often done more research on the neighborhood.  Just remember; get back to them ASAP.

Tip 5: Leave Them with Something Useful:
They’ve reached out to you, isn’t there something you can send them?  This shouldn’t be promotional, but information.  When we follow up well, it is a service to our prospects – service they will thank us for through future transactions and referrals.

If You Don’t Have This, You Are Just Another Realtor!

Remaining one step ahead of your competitors is essential to the success of any business, regardless of size or niche, due to the fierce competition evident in today’s crowded marketplaces.  Defining your USP or Unique Selling Proposition is a major part of this process, but for many small to medium enterprises simply identifying the essence of what makes their business stand above the crowd can be difficult, especially if you are just starting out.

Why is having a USP so Important?

As we’ve mentioned a USP puts your product or service ahead of the rest so you are able to attract the customers and clients your business deserves.  In addition to this, demonstrating a targeted USP is an essential aspect in successful business branding and demonstrates to your customers what makes your company special and the right choice for them.

Your USP should display key messages about your brand and in turn, allow your core demographic to meticulously organise your products or services into categories and rank them from there.  The clearer your USP is to the customer, the better your position will be within your target market.

Where to Begin When Defining Your USP

Your target audience plays a key role in interpreting and developing your USP.  Whilst it is advisable to define your USP and stick with it, it is important to acknowledge that any USP needs freshening up to stay in tune with their audience and it is recommended that your USP evolves as your business does.

Whether you are a start-up or an established business, getting started with defining your USP begins with your customers.  Understanding the people who buy your products, utilize your services or invest in your brand and their needs is essential if you are looking to build a memorable brand that is valuable to your audience.  By highlighting why your target audience may choose your business in particular, you can decipher what makes your company better than your competitors and use it to your advantage in upcoming marketing and advertising campaigns. Don’t be afraid to talk to your audience direct and ask them why they use you in particular and what others or your business may be lacking in the process.

Compare Yourself with Competitors

The next step in identifying and strengthening your USP is to use these points and compare yourself to your competitors.  Recognizing what needs your competitors cater for and giving yourself some constructive criticism can help you deliver a better product or service, even if you are in competition with market leaders that have bigger budgets than you.  Just because a rival company ranks higher or achieves better sales than you, this doesn’t mean they are delivering an unbeatable service.  Use your own business to build on your competitors’ weaknesses and learn from their strong points to gain competitive advantage, unlock new opportunities and emphasize your USP.

It’s not just your competitors that you can draw inspiration from, take a look at your wider market to highlight key trends and develop your USP further.

Positioning your Brand and its USP

By answering the following questions you be well on your way to defining your USP and the outcome with help you to convey key messages and position your brand in the wider marketplace.

Ask yourself…

  • Why should your customers believe in your brand, product or service?
  • What gives you the edge over your competitors?
  • How does your business stand out in the wider market?

By answering these three questions you should be able to make a series of strong statements about your brand and how it is unique.  If not, then it’s time to send your business model back to the drawing board!  These statements will form part of your key message, which can be used to communicate your USP via your marketing, branding and advertising strategies.  Every part of your business, from letterhead and brochures to your branded website and TV ad campaign, should clearly validate your USPs.

by Brittany Thorley

success key

3 Emails Your Business Should Be Sending

 1. Welcome Email

Are you rolling out the red carpet for your new customers?  A recent study by Return Path found that 80% of companies now send out welcome emails, up from only 40% only a few years ago.

What to include in your welcome email:

  • What to expect.  Warmly welcome readers to your mailing list and set expectations immediately.  Let your readers know what you’ll share with them in your future emails, and how often.  For example, you may offer advice and how-to articles, as well as some promotional offers.  You may send bi-weekly, monthly, or another frequency.  Stay true to whatever you promise! 
  • A special offer.  Want a little more love? Give your new subscribers a discount, offer, or gift for simply being a subscriber.  Then, let your new subscribers know that as a subscriber, they’ll receive special email-only offers they can’t get anywhere else just by being on your list.  They’ll be far more likely to open your future messages for enticing discounts.

*Timeliness is key when sending a welcome email. You want to send it out to your new subscribers as soon as possible after they subscribe.

2.  Newsletter
Many of our customers ask us about the difference between an email promotion/campaign and an email newsletter.  The words are often used interchangeably, but an email promotion or campaign tends to communicate one single topic or idea, such as your current sale, or a new product, while an email newsletter often has multiple topics and tends to educate (vs. sell) and builds rapport with your readers.  Your newsletter should always offer readers valuable information.

What to include in your newsletter:

  • News.  Press releases, blog articles or other publications that will help your readers. (It’s a good idea to summarize longer articles in a few short sentences and create a call to action button for the reader to view the entire article on your website or blog.)
  • Upcoming events or webinars.  These may be events you’re hosting or participating in.  You may also announce speaking engagements such as interviews with your executives on radio shows, at college campuses and the like.
  • Important announcements.  Include improvements to your products or services, new management, or new business practices. (If you are letting your customers know you are responding to their feedback and improving something for them, that’s always great news!)
  • Ways to connect on social media.  Include social networks you’re actively engaged on and updating regularly, as this is added value for your followers.
  • Images.  Keep your newsletter interesting with images relating to your content.
  • Calls to actions.  Tell your readers what you want them to do with clear calls to action such asread morelearn more, and register now.  

Even though the word “newsletter” suggests a more lengthy communication, remember it’s still  an email amongst many others in the inbox!  Try to avoid including too much information and text in one email.  A good rule of thumb is no more than would fit on one page of a word document.  Because newsletters are more comprehensive, once or twice a month is typically a good practice, however, depending on your business, and how much content you produce, weekly might work as well.  

3. Promotional Emails
Everyday, most of us receive tons of emails from various companies and let’s be honest, most customers want to know “What’s in it for me?”.  If you don’t provide real value, it’s very easy for subscribers to click that little unsubscribe button! How can you help avoid that? Offer something valuable and unique…

What to include in your promotional emails:

  • A NEW offer. Emphasis on the word new.  If you offered 10 percent off all window frames last month, it’s old news this month!  If you do repeat a certain offer, don’t repeat it back-to-back or multiple times in a row (you’re readers will think you’re a one trick pony!).
  • A compelling offer.  Discounts are great, but does the discount you’re offering compel your readers to click through all the way to the shopping cart?  Try testing different offers to see which ones are the most effective. Enticing customers with specific products or services can be more effective than a set discount amount off all items or services.  This is especially true of seasonal items.
  • Clear calls to action.  Make it as easy as possible for the reader to get the promotion.  This may mean buttons leading to a shopping page on your website or links to pages with already inserted promo codes or registration forms.  Just make sure as few steps as possible are involved in going from reading your email to purchasing the product. Don’t make it hard to buy.

*Be cautious not to send promotional emails too often. Once every 2 weeks or once a month are good general practices.

By including these three types of emails in your email marketing plan, you can help keep your subscribers engaged, loyal and spending.  

Published on September 30th, 2013 | by Amanda Day

 EasyButton

Privacy Policy

WorkSmartBeSmart/Smart Agent Privacy Policy

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The only people that have access to your data besides yourself (and anyone you give your login information to), will be WorkSmartBeSmart/Smart Agent technical personnel and/or persons that perform services for WorkSmartBeSmart/Smart Agent in connection with our business. There may be a rare occasion where we, or our service providers, need to review your data strictly for technical support purposes. In all cases your personal information, including your data is strictly confidential and never used for any purpose, and never shared with outside third parties.

We do not provide any information about our subscribers, customers or affiliates to any third party, except of course in the unusual event should we be required to do so by law. 

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Policy Modifications 

This Privacy Policy is effective as of January 1, 2009.  We may change this Privacy Policy from time to time effective as of another date that will be posted here, so be sure to check back periodically. 

Networking Skills

10 Tips To Improve Networking Skills

Business Management Daily

  1. Start with the people you al­­ready know.  Networking isn’t only about meeting new people. It’s also about strengthening relationships with people you already know.
  2. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you don’t need to network.  You will need it at some point.
  3. Don’t force your business cards on people.  Offer your card only after you’ve had a conversation and asked for the other person’s card.
  4. Establish expectations.  Tell people when and how you’ll contact them, and follow through.
  5. Pose good questions.  Questions that don’t go straight to a person’s profession can make for deeper, more memorable connections.
  6. Create a connections calendar.  This helps you remember to keep in touch with people every month or so.
  7. Find out what others need.  Then try to help them get it by connecting them to people you know.
  8. Give before you receive.  Net­­work­­ing is a two-way street. Don’t ex­­­­pect something in return immediately.
  9. Ask yourself “Why should they care?”  This will help you come up with a way to describe yourself and what you do that will be interesting to others.
  10. Talk less than you listen.  You can’t learn about other people if you’re doing all of the talking.
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Success 2014

Timeline Cover wsbs

The 11 Biggest Time Management Lies

by Dr. Donald E. Wetmore

In the world of Time Management there are things said to us that we accept as truth and we act accordingly. The problem is sometimes they are not truths. They are lies and as we believe them, they waste our time.

Those who speak these lies to us are not bad people at all because you and I are among them. We all speak these untruths to one another from time to time. So let’s not wish harm and doom to the liars. Let’s avoid the time traps their lying may cause us.Here are the eleven biggest lies to shield yourself from.
 
1. “This will just take a minute.” Has anyone grabbed you with that line? Does it ever “just take a minute”? Rarely. What typically “just takes a minute”, generally consumes several minutes and more.Next time, when someone asks for your time and assures you,” This will just take a minute”, tell them, “You’re lying. You may not realize you’re lying, but you are. I’ll give you five minutes. You may begin now.”  
 
2. “I need this as soon as possible.” No you don’t. That’s a lie too. You need it by a certain date and time because you are going to do something with what I provide for you. And if you’re not going to do anything with what I provide for you, why am I doing it for you in the first place?Don’t lie to me. Tell me when I have to get it to you. Be specific. You and I probably have two difference dates in mind when we think in terms of “as soon as possible”.3. “I want this now.” I doubt it. In this 24/7/365 world, everyone is under a sense of artificial pressure to get it done “now” or worse,” yesterday”.

Things are generally not that urgent. Don’t get caught up in someone else’s urgent trivialities.

Call the liar to task. “I’m not sure I can get that done now. What if I got it to you one week from today?” Use an outside deadline to give yourself ample time to prevent getting into crisis management.

Oh, and if they reject that alternative, try three better dates for you. Why? Because they may keep lying to you.

4. “It’s not about the money.”  When it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.

5. “This is the best (investment, business opportunity, book, movie, restaurant, boss, job, etc.) you’ll ever find.” Not true. There’s always something better. The best is yet to come.

6. “I can get this done in an hour.” It’s a fib. Ever notice how it almost always takes twice as long to get something done as what you thought it would? That’s because few of us have a very accurate internal clock to estimate the time required to complete most tasks.

7. “He’s a’ late’ person.” Most people who are “late” have a consistency about their behavior. My friend Dwayne is 20 minutes late all the time. If we need to meet for lunch tomorrow, it will take him 24 hours and twenty minutes to get there.
Dwayne is not “late”. He’s “On-time; 20 minutes later”.

8.”No Cost.” You don’t get “nothing for nothing”. Everything has a cost. It may not cost you your money but more often it will be your time and more of it than what you are getting in return for “no cost”.

9. “I’ll prove you’re wrong if it’s the last thing I do.” And it may well be. No one wants to be proven wrong. Everyone likes to be caught doing things “right”. Most, however, don’t mind being shown how to do things better.

10. “By the time I show him how to do it I could just as quickly have done it myself.”If it’s a one-time proposition this may be true. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend an hour to show someone how to do a task that takes only 10 minutes.

But if it’s a repetitive task, it’s a lie. If that one hour investment will save you 10 minutes every day, then in about a week you have your investment back and now you have a dividend of 10 extra minutes a day. What if you do that six different times? You get an extra hour in your day and 365 hours over the next year.

11. “This is going to be really hard.” Not true. Going through whatever you have to go through is almost never as difficult as you imagined it to be.

Mr. Smith, my high school principal, taught me that 95% of what we fear coming at us will never hit us. It will ditch itself before it ever reaches us. And as to the remaining 5%, God has given us the tools to deal with it.

timeflies

Grow Your Business On LinkedIn

Using LinkedIn as a Lead Generation Tool

How LinkedIn can generate new business leads.

LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) is an online networking community created to connect friends,
colleagues, clients and potential new customers.  Here are some ideas for using LinkedIn for lead
generation:

Connect with all new relationships — Every time you enter new leads into your database system,
send these same people a LinkedIn invitation.  Once you are connected, you have access to the
person’s profile, posts, connection list,  joined groups, and employment history.  This helps you
learn more about them, which gives you a foundation on which to maintain a relationship.

Become an authority by posting value-added content — LinkedIn lets you post updates
with links or attachments.  This is a great place to post important and relevant articles.  If someone
reads it,  and wants to learn more, they can easily contact you.  They can also share the content so
that their connections see your post and expand your reach.

Answer questions that target your expertise — LinkedIn has a section where members ask
questions and you can post answers.  Monitor this section for opportunities to share your expertise
and gain new connections. Don’t self-promote.  Use the opportunity to make it all about solving
your potential customer’s problems, it is all about them.  

Join groups and be active — This is another way to monitor customer’s needs and give input
that could inspire people to connect with you or visit your profile.  Remember business-to business lead generation, one good business connection can open an entirely new group of prospects.  BNI and other networking Groups are a great place to find referral partners.

Summary
• Make sure your LinkedIn profile targets your audience and shows that you know how to
solve their problems and your profile is 100% complete with a good picture.  
• Post value-added content that helps readers solve problems

How To Stop Arguments in Three Simple Steps

Stop Arguments

by Laurie Weiss, Ph.D.

Ever found yourself in the middle of a heated debate with someone and wish you could turn it into something more productive? Here are three simple things you can do to stop any argument in its tracks

Do you need to stop arguments? These three steps will turn almost any argument into a productive discussion in less than five minutes.

1. Go to the bathroom. When you are in the throes of an argument or difficult discussion, just say, “I really want to have this conversation, but first, please excuse me I must go to the bathroom.” Interrupting the argument will give each of you a chance to cool down and collect your thoughts.If you are on the telephone, say “Excuse me for a moment, I have to handle a call on the other line.” If you are on a cell phone, break the connection in the middle of one of your own sentences. Call back a few minutes later and apologize for being cut off.

Stop Arguments

2. Use your break time to think. Decide what you really want to accomplish by turning the argument into a discussion. Get very clear about your own objectives.

Stop Arguments

3. Return to the conversation, summarize the argument so far, and then ask politely what the other person wants the outcome of the conversation to be.

These steps work because they give each of you a chance to think instead of react to what has been happening. And neither of you needs to lose face or look weak or act disrespectfully.

When you approach any conversation with your goal in mind, you are far more likely to achieve it than you are in the heat of an argument. When you ask others their goals, they too must think about what they want to accomplish.

When you create a productive discussion, you create mutual respect and the opportunity for excellent future relationships.

 The key is to allow your adrenaline to stay low and your wisdom to stay high, don’t allow it to become personal.  

Tips To Stop Proscrastinating

Want to Stop Procrastinating?

Here are 10 Ways to Do It!

Procrastination robs you of your productivity and hurts your credibility. Stop putting off the inevitable and get it of the way with these 10 tips for pushing past procrastination

People usually procrastinate to avoid a task that’s unpleasant or daunting. Everyone does it. But you know it’s time to stop putting the task aside and get on with it when procrastination starts to interfere with your work performance. Perhaps it’s causing you to feel worried, fearful, and stressed-out, or perhaps your behavior is causing others to feel anxious because your holding up progress.
Don’t let things get that far. Instead, try these 10 ways to get out of the quicksand of procrastination. When you do, you’ll enjoy improved productivity, enhanced mood, less stress, better coworker relationships, a sense of accomplishment, and restored reputation at work as a “doer.”

1. Identify the challenge.

Write down the specific task you’ve been putting off. For example, “I have to convert all of my client contacts and notes into the new file-sharing software system and learn how to navigate its tools and folders.” Writing down the challenge helps you focus on it.

2. Pinpoint the underlying emotions.

This step helps you see the act of dragging your heels for what it truly is: an emotional reaction.
What’s preventing you from diving in to this task? It’s typically one or more of three core emotions. Perhaps, to use the above example, you’re intimidated by all the new functions you’ll have to learn (fear). Or you’re resentful about having to change when the old system worked perfectly well (anger). Or you’re bummed that you’re just not tech savvy (sadness).

3. Express and release the emotions.

Take some time in private to express those emotions constructively. By crying to express sadness, punching or yelling into a pillow or stomping around to release the anger, or doing exaggerated shivering for the fear, you give yourself permission to express the emotion. The emotional energy that’s been holding you back will get released and you won’t feel stuck. It’s like letting steam out of a pressure cooker.

4. Define your goal.

Good planning is the foundation of success for most any project. It’s helpful to write it down so you have it for ready reference. Start by getting clear on your goal. Your goal is your beacon to keep you on track in treacherous waters. For example, “I want to get good at this new software so it’s a useful tool, not an impediment to my progress.” Having a clear and precise idea of your goal will keep you on track and motivated.

4. Define your goal.

Good planning is the foundation of success for most any project. It’s helpful to write it down so you have it for ready reference. Start by getting clear on your goal. Your goal is your beacon to keep you on track in treacherous waters. For example, “I want to get good at this new software so it’s a useful tool, not an impediment to my progress.” Having a clear and precise idea of your goal will keep you on track and motivated.

5. Neutralize sabotaging chatter with “truths.”

Identify sabotaging thoughts that are hanging in the wings, ready to pounce in a weak moment, then come up with a couple of truths to contradict them. For example, if you continually tell yourself “I’ll never be able to learn all this,” you might say to yourself, “I can do this” or “If others can learn this, so can I.” That’s a plain and simple truth. To neutralize your frustration at having to do this task, you might say, “I’m doing this because I want to be a team player” or “My boss thinks I’m the best person to do this.”

6. Break the task into small, doable steps.

You’ve envisioned the goal, dealt with what’s been holding you back, and fixed your destructive thinking. Completing the task requires deciding when you’ll get started and figuring out a doable step-by-step game plan. Write it down, schedule it, and commit to it. Then go on a mental journey, plotting out each part of the task, including details such as whom you will talk with and what about, where and when you’ll be working, and how long you expect each part to take.

7. Be ready for roadblocks.

Once you’ve created a game plan, step back and imagine challenges and obstacles that are likely to pop up along the way. For example, other projects with shorter deadlines might land on your desk. How will you tackle such challenges in order to keep moving forward with the big task at hand? For every such scenario, have a tactic ready for sticking to your original plan. You may also want to find a mentor or supporter whom with whom you can consult on a regular basis.

8. Take the leap.

With all this preparation, it’s time to tackle the task you’ve put off. Before you do, acknowledge your emotions–whether it’s anger, fear, or sadness. Take just a minute or two and release the pent-up emotion in a physical and constructive way. Without the emotional energy dragging you down, you’ll feel prepared to take the leap and be amazed how easy it is as you just focus on one step at a time.

9. Fight your resistance.

As you move through the task, you’re likely to meet with resistance in the form of excuses, bad moods, and discouragement. Meet resistance with tenacity and stubbornness, and continue to deal with any emotions that surface. Say to yourself, “I can do this. I’ll feel better when I handle this.” Say it over and over until it’s set in your mind. Any time you feel discouraged or are tempted to procrastinate, refocus on the goal.

10. Focus on the upside.

Getting through a daunting task is incredibly satisfying. Praise each little step along the way. Remind yourself at every step that you’ll feel incredibly virtuous when you get the task off your plate once and for all. Accomplishing what you’re avoiding will simplify your work life. You’ll feel more energetic. You’ll sleep better at night.

Jude Bijou, MA, MFT, is a respected psychotherapist, professional educator, and workshop leader. Her theory of Attitude Reconstruction® evolved over the course of more than 30 years working with clients as a licensed marriage and family therapist, and is the subject of her award-winning book, Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life.Learn more at www.attitudereconstruction.com.

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