Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How To Obtain Small Business Financing Help When Banks Say No

This article provides some realistic small business financing options for commercial borrowers to consider if their bank cannot help. What to do if their bank says no to a request for commercial loans and working capital is on a growing list of problems that small businesses cannot ignore in the face of commercial banking difficulties.

By Stephen Bush

Because of a deteriorating commercial lending environment, some of our earlier advice is now likely to be especially relevant for many businesses. Banks are currently saying “no” more frequently than they have in decades, and we provided advice a few years ago about what actions business owners should consider if their bank rejected a small business financing request.

A bank saying “no” can actually lead to an overall improvement in commercial financing options under many circumstances, although a business owner is not likely to hope for the business loan rejection in the first place. With requests for needed business financing and working capital, small business owners are increasingly hearing their bank say “no”. Most commercial borrowers are often not sure what to do next since such an awkward situation represents uncharted waters for them.

Banks are routinely saying “no” to small businesses which are both profitable and long-term customers. Because this has become such a widespread commercial lending problem, it is now common to hear phrases such as “business loans without banks” and “thinking outside the bank” when talking about strategies small business owners might need to analyze.

There are two financing situations that businesses should especially be prepared for banks saying “no”. One of these involves working capital loans (including commercial lines of credit) and the other commercial real estate financing. While a small number of banks are still proving to be reliable sources for some business financing options, recent nationwide commercial lending reports clearly show a drastic reduction in commercial loans for commercial real estate financing and working capital loans.

Small businesses have only rarely pursued the option of replacing their bank. There is little recourse but to pursue such a path when their bank says “no” to routine requests for business financing, and astute business owners need to quickly accept this harsh reality. Improvements to the overall financial health of a business will be achieved in a pleasantly surprising number of cases even though this search for new commercial finance alternatives is undertaken under protest by most commercial borrowers. Keep in mind that in many cities and communities, one or two banks frequently operate in a near monopoly environment. When small business owners have literally been forced to find new business finance options, they are often pleased to discover that they can not only replace existing bank financing satisfactorily but also improve their bottom line in the transition.

A prudent starting point for commercial borrowers to adequately evaluate how to get working capital and other business loans when their bank says “no” is likely to be a lengthy conversation with a small business financing expert. A critical step to eventual success in formulating a strategy for obtaining new sources of effective commercial finance funding is likely to be finding and selecting such an expert, but it should be realized that this is not likely to be a quick or easy task for business owners. Ensuring that the commercial financing expert chosen is totally independent and not affiliated in any way with the bank which said “no” is an especially crucial aspect not to be overlooked in locating a reliable expert to help.

Stephen Bush has provided candid advice to business owners for 30 years and is a commercial loan expert. AEX Commercial Financing Group offers small business financing and working capital options

Monday, August 30, 2010

What Type Of Character Is Your Customer?

This article looks at the FACE model of customer types and shows how sales people can adjust their approach so they are more effective and better able to sell to the four personality types identified.

By Richard Stone

New sales people often ask their sales training tutor, “Why do I need to learn more than one sales approach?” or “Why does my approach work well with one client, but leaves the next disinterested in my product?” The answer given to such questions by the tutor is: “It’s to do with your customer’s personality!” Selling, they will be told, is the art of persuasion; it involves the sales person persuading their potential customer that what they are offering meets the customer’s needs best. Every customer will be different, that is why nothing works with every customer all of the time. To be effective your sales talk must address different customers in different ways. That is you will have to tailor your sales talk to best fit the style of the customer in front of you. An important part of your job as a professional in sales is to identify what type of customer you are selling to.

The FACE model, as taught on sales training programmes, helps us to understand the different types of customer we come across. The model analyses a person’s personality using two interacting scales of how assertive and how emotional they are. This gives rise to the four basic personality types described by the FACE model.

We all spend between 65% and 72% using one particular style and this is known as our natural style. However, no one is exclusively just one personality type and we all use the different FACE styles from time to time.

The first personality type is the ‘Friendly’ personality. These types are emotional and responsive people who are essentially led by the needs of others and are people orientated. You could imagine that selling to this type of person would be easy. They’re friendly and open, so what’s the problem? The difficulty is that they want to get on with everyone and say yes to everything. This will make them delay any decision making that might upset anyone, including upsetting the supplier. So what can be done? It’s vital to get to know this person really well. Building rapport is essential. The impact of change should be minimised, particularly if people are invloved. Place emphasis on the benifits and do not be tempted to try to rush them. Their attitude is one of “Reassure me that this is right for my colleagues and me”.

The second personality type is the ‘Analytical’ personality. Such people are described as unemotional and responsive. This type of personality is extremely wary of sales people - they can’t see that any value is being added by the sales function. As you may expect, to sell to them requires the provision of a great deal of information - therefore, preparation is critical. Like the ‘Friendly’ type, they decide slowly, so allow them time for consideration. Don’t exaggerate - that will only arouse suspicion. Be prepared to present the downside of your offer as the ‘Analytical’ considers nothing to be perfect. Remain cool, calm and factual. Present proofs if possible.

The third type of personality is the unemotional and assertive type known as the ‘Commander’. Commanders focus on time, results and action. Selling to the ‘Commander’ requires preparation. They will regard any shortfall in a presentation as sloppiness and will decide against it very quickly. Time is of the essence - If they can not see where the meeting is going, they are likely to end it. The sales person must stress the result for them and their organisation - profits first, then people. It is also criticle that the “commander” sees the salesman as a firm and decisive business partner - any hint of uncertainty will tip the scales against them.

Finally we have the ‘Extroverts’, defined as both emotional and assertive they are gregarious people who love to be at the centre of whatever’s going on. They can be huge fun to meet with but be careful that they do not take too much of your time. Keep your sales talk light and short because details bore them. They may need more attention than the other types, so you should keep in touch by phone, email or letter. Sell to extroverts by stressing the benefits of a new, different approach. But whatever you do, do it enthusiastically!

The real benefit of sales training that includes the FACE model is that by knowing how each prospect or customer thinks and acts we can alter our sales approach and so become more effective sales professionals.

Richard Stone is a Director for Spearhead Training Limited that specialises in running management and sales training courses to improve business performance. Richard provides consultancy advice for numerous world leading companies.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Three Step Formula For Overcoming Objections And Closing Sales

This article describes a simple three step process used by professional sales people for handling customer objections. Following this process will help you close more business.

By Richard Stone

Even the most experienced sales professionals have to face objections as part and parcel of their sales job. Whilst I wouldn’t be so bold as to say that you can overcome them all, the formula that follows, which forms the foundation of consultative selling techniques as taught on our sales training courses, will give you a much higher chance of handling such objections well. And if you handle objections well you will be able to close mutually beneficial business for both sides and this in turn will lead to greater job satisfaction for you.

Some clients raise clear unambiguous objections during your sales presentation, such as “I want delivery on Monday not Tuesday”. These objections are easy for the sales person to handle and rarely cause issues on sales training courses. However, very often, the objection is articulated less clearly by the customer using a phrase such as, “I don’t think it’s right for us”, or, “the men on the shop floor wouldn’t wear it”. Whilst they are themselves valid as objections, they are far too vague for a sales person to handle immediately. This is where the three stage formula for handling objections can be particularly useful.

The first step in the three stage formula is to refine the customer’s objection. This is to make it meaningful, specific, or quantifiable so you can deal with it. You can do this by asking a question such as “Do you mind if I ask why you say that?” By using this type of question we make the client re-phrase their objection and disclose its real underlying meaning. If you can do this you are well on your way to handling the objection.

Having refined the objection we now want to be sure that this is the only reason why our prospect is reluctant to proceed with the purchase. It would be a complete waste of your and the client’s time if you solved the objection and were then greeted by a load more. So the second step in the three stage formula is to isolate the objection. This can be acomplished by asking the client another question along the lines of “if we overcome that can we go ahead”?” The answer given by the customer will quickly indicate to us if there are any more skeletons in the cupboard that we need to deal with. If there are no others, then the end point is in view.

Now that we know the reason for the objection and we have established that it’s the one thing preventing the sale from taking place, we must move into the final stage of the three stage formula. In this stage we now need to take a pro-active stance with the customer, using justification. This means repositioning the customer’s argument. Instead of focusing on the reason not to buy, our presentation to the customer should now help them focus on, and consider, the extra benefit they will get which arises from their area of concern. So, for example, if the objection is “Too dear”, they really want to know what extra gain will come their way by proceeding with our more expensive offer and we should explain this. If, on the other hand, they state that “Its too large”, they are enquiring as to why it is constructed in that way and what they will get for their money. Again we need to address these concerns.

So, in summary, the three step process for managing objections well means refining the objection, ensuring it is the only bjection the client has and then overcoming the objection using pro-active justification. By adhering to this three-step process, as demonstrated on our sales training courses, you will be well down the path to developing the skills needed to become a professional salesperson.

Richard Stone, Director of Spearhead Training specialising in management and sales training courses to improve business performance. Richard also provides consultancy advice for many leading companies. View further information at => http://www.spearhead-training.co.uk

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Presentation Success: How You Can Own The Room

A successful presentation starts with the presenter owning the room. When you know and own the room, you will be a more powerful and confident presenter. That leads to more successful presentations for you. What can you do to own the room?

By George Torok

Consider this

While strolling in your neighborhood you will feel more comfortable and confident than in a strange town. A sports team usually feels stronger when playing at home. Delivering a presentation is certainly a competitive sport. Why not do it on your home turf?

As a presenter, how do you own the room? “Owning the room” is a feeling that you can generate within yourself by knowing the room. How do you know the room?

Know the room

Knowing the room for your presentation might mean arriving the day before your presentation. At the very least, arrive one hour before your presentation. Don’t breeze in 10 minutes before you speak and expect to “own the room”.

Get into the room before your presentation - preferably when no one else is there. This will allow you to make the following preparations.

You can see the room and start visualizing how you will present and how your audience will look. Visualizing yourself presenting in the room is an effective way to prepare for your presentation. You will feel more comfortable and more powerful if you’ve been in the room before your presentation.

If the room is not the right size for the audience expected you can plan what to do to alter the room to make it appear to be smaller or arrange for another room.

You can check the setup of the room. Become familiar with the layout of the seating, tables, doors, curtains and other characteristics of the room. Walk around the room and sit in different seats so you understand better how the audience might or might not see you and your visuals during your presentation. Look for blind spots.

Arrange for the seating to be changed to your preferred arrangement. Sometimes this might mean making those changes yourself. (I’ve done this the night before an important presentation.)

Play with the switches. Test all the lights, AV and climate control switches. Tape the ones that should not be changed. Discover the ones that give you the settings you want so you can set it quickly or explain to an assistant how to do it.

Check all the doors to learn which ones are noisy - so you can tape the latches with duct tape. Which are the outer halls that need a “Do Not Enter” sign taped on the outside? Where are the washrooms so you can direct people? hich are the emergency exits in case they are needed?

Rehearse walking on and off the stage so you don’t trip. I’ve done it and seen it happen. It’s surprising how simple things like walking on stage can be nerve wracking when you are giving a presentation.

Stand on the stage and deliver parts of your presentation. Move about the stage to feel comfortable and find the cracks or creaky boards that you will need to avoid. Check the position of the speakers while speaking on the microphone to avoid feedback. Test the microphone when the AV people are there. Often they test the microphone with one of their staff then they disappear.

One More Presentation Tip

Change or move something to make the room yours. Close the curtains, move some chairs, put a small table on stage… It might not be much but any small change that you make can help you feel better when you take the stage.

I’ve delivered over 1,000 presentations and I’ve noticed that a good room setup can influence the energy of the audience and success of your presentation.

Know the room and you will own the room. Your audience will marvel at your confidence and presentation power.

© George Torok helps business leaders, managers & sales professionals deliver million-dollar presentations. He offers presentation skills coaching and presentation skills training. For more free presentation tips visithttp://www.Presentation-Skills-Success.com To arrange a media interviews call 905-335-1997

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Why Some Entrepreneurs Don't Make Much Money

When an entrepreneur isn't making much money, it's usually a mixture of lack of business skills and a mindset about money that needs to change. In this article, Sue tells a story about one entrepreneur who is going broke, and what that entrepreneur really needs to change if she wants to make money.

By Sue Painter

Here’s a quick test for you...let’s say I hand you a C-note. Close your eyes and feel that hundred dollar bill in your hand. Now, watch your thoughts and see where you mind goes. Just watch, until you get a thought that comes up about this money in your hands. What is the thought?

* A good number of people will have a thought something like “I better put this away, I don’t want to lose this money.”

* Fewer people will get a thought that goes “this is a gift, truly found money. How should I use this, what can I do?”

If your thought was about keeping the money safe, I’ll wager that you think of money as potential loss rather than potential gain. And that mindset isn’t going to help you create a business where money automatically comes in and goes out, just like the tide. You can’t stop the tide. If you constantly try, you still get the inevitable but you are much more miserable over it than if you just let that tide go out and enjoy watching it as it goes. Same with money!

The other day I had someone contact me who was interested, she said, in coaching for her small business. Actually, she had two businesses, had them both for several years. The very first statement out of her mouth was not about her businesses but about her money. “I make less than $100 a month with these businesses,” she said. She didn’t tell me about her businesses, ask me how I might help her, or what she hoped to gain in working with me. Instead, she came at me from a place of lack, focusing on what she doesn’t have. That lack is fear-based, contracted energy. Behind it is a poor-me mentality. That creates a constant story of lack, a negative energy. It literally “pulls” others toward that lack. While we didn’t get far in talking about working together, she right away let me know she had little money and probably could not afford to work with me. Underneath that statement was a subtle pull on me, to join her in her financial lack by cutting a deal to work with her for less money, or to sit there and spend an hour of my time for free while she talked about her financial lack rather than asking me how I could help her go where she wanted to go. Then, we both could lack and she would have a “community of lack” going. Do you see? Very subtle, but very powerful. Watch for that from others, and don’t let that energy go to work on you.

Let’s think about this solopreneur who has two businesses that are both several years old and who makes about $100 a month from both of them together. Does she need to be more profitable? Obviously, yes. She probably needs to focus down on one of the businesses, build that to an ongoing profit, and then bring the second business on-line. She may need to ditch one — I don’t know her well enough to say. I do know, though, that it doesn’t work to approach me about working with you and ask me first thing what I charge. The money isn’t the issue. The issue is what would this $100 a month entrepreneur GAIN in working with me (or someone else) rather than what she would LOSE. If I can’t get her to focus on the gain, she won’t engage in what I suggest to her. She’ll be thinking about that money she’s losing by paying me (or someone else) rather than what she is GETTING in the process.

There are a lot of reasons why many solopreneurs and small business owners are not profitable. Many lack knowledge about the basic tools of business. These things are skills that one can easily get through classes, reading, having a mentor or a coach, or going to workshops. The bigger barrier to making money is your own mind set about money. If you focus on how little you have it will absolutely never grow. If, instead, you focus on what you can gain with the money you have (no matter how little or large that amount) you will be OK.

Here’s what I wrote to this woman. “You know, it’s never about the money, it’s about what will happen if you do NOT change and learn to invest in building your business. When people e-mail me and ask only what it costs to hire me, I know they are trying to decide only on cost. The wiser decision is based on value or what it will cost them if they keep on the road they are on. See, it would benefit you to know more about what we might do for those three months, but instead of asking me that, or asking when we might talk about it, I see that you are asking only what it will cost you, not what you will gain. So there you have a little bit of coaching for free. If you change to put your attention on gain rather than loss, you will begin to shift your thinking and your business from cost to benefit, both for yourself and for those you wish to serve.”

If you are not profitable through lack of focus, bad planning, or lack of business skills you can fix it. It takes risk, self-honesty, willingness to feel a little uncomfortable as you learn new skills and behaviors. It takes faith! But the biggest thing it takes is shifting your mind set from lack to gain. Or, from a poverty mentality to an abundant mentality. Or, from fear to love. Not only will you benefit, but those you serve will benefit.

This week, practice not leading with money questions. Practice focusing on what you gain rather than what you lose. It will shift your mind set, and in time it will shift your bank account, too!

Sue Painter is a marketing therapist whose expertise is finding the dark and murky under-places that keep your business from succeeding. She develops business plans that work, and strategic marketing plans that take dead aim at your target market. You can subscribe to her Marketing Tips e-zine at http://www.confidentmarketer.com .

Monday, August 9, 2010

Why A Top Ranking Google Website Will Determine Your Success

Having a website is like advertising your business in the yellow pages of yesteryears. A top Google ranking website lets you reach potential customers and pre-sells your products and services. What is the price of not having a website in today's business context? A lot!

By Azmi Adnan

For every business entity that exists today, there is a website that goes along with it. Having a website is like advertising your business in the yellow pages of yesteryears. A top Google ranking website lets you reach potential customers and pre-sells your products and services. What is the price of not having a website in today’s business context? Seriously, a lot. It is something that no business can do without.

When previously we visit a travel agent to purchase our plane tickets, today we do it at a click of a mouse on our home computer from service providers such as priceline.com and at a cheaper price too. In some cases, we can even choose our preferred seats and our in-flight meals. We used to book our hotel rooms from travel agents too but now when can do it directly from the hotel website or from discount wholesalers such as hotel.com. The business gameplan has changed. Today, business is conducted at the speed of thought.

Unless you are a big entity that everyone knows about such as American Airlines, Citibank, or Amazon, letting your customers find you in the crowded world wide web can be complicated. Firstly, you need to understand the surfing habits of people looking for information. Surfers hardly go beyond the first page of a search engine and even if they do click on your link to view you site, you generally have about 7 seconds to engage them before they leave. Unless you are very good at copywriting and designing web pages, I suggest you outsource this task to people who are experts in this field, and there are plenty of them around.

Besides the importance of having a top Google ranking or having a top 3 positions in the generic search result of the search engines, there are also other ways of letting your customers reach you. If you own a specialist store for wines for example, you can distribute flyers to your customers and let them know where you can be found in cyberspace. You can even collect email addresses of your customers and start sending ezines and updates on your products and services to them. The idea is not to sell to everyone, but to a select group of people who has shown and interest in your business and keep selling to them. The fact that your customers visited your store pre-qualifies them.

This article is to establish that if you need to survive in today’s business environment, a website is an essential instrument to reach to your customers. If your are building a new customer base based on your presence in cyberspace, than having a top Google ranking or a first page ranking in the other search engines is your priority task. However, you can also take advantage of your current customers who visit your store and build a relation with them through newsletters with a link to your site. In any case, in this digital age, you need to reach out to your customers and offer greater convenience and value through the world wide web.