Saturday, February 20, 2016

What Makes Taylor Swift World's Best Negotiator

Christine K. Clifford, CSP is the author of nine books including Let’s Close a Deal! Turn Contacts Into Paying Customers for Your Company, Product, Service or Cause and  YOU, Inc. The Art of Selling Yourself. She is CEO/President of Christine Clifford Enterprises and The Cancer Club, helping companies and individuals craft their story and designs “knock your socks off” Media Kits for companies, individuals and entertainers. 

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Let’s start with a basic question – what are the biggest negotiation mistakes that novices make? 

The biggest mistake made by most sales people—both new and old—is thinking of a sale in terms of “What’s in it for you, and what’s in it for me?” I call this the typical “Win-Win” situation. Rather, a sale always has a third party beneficiary: your company, your family, a charitable organizations, etc. So instead, look at the sale as, “What’s in it for three?” I call this the Win-Win-Win. If you keep in mind all parties involved, you have a much greater chance of success. 

What is the quickest way to improve your negotiation skills within a short time period, say, six weeks? 

Ask everyone you know (your boss; colleagues; friends; family) what you are doing right, but more importantly, what are you doing wrong? This information can be gathered fairly quickly and you can start acting on it immediately. 

Face to face meetings and personal interactions are becoming increasingly rare. How do you negotiate in the age of Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp? 

Getting your face—and body—in front of a potential client is still the best way to close a deal. But if you can’t accomplish that, send a short video, Skype, or Facetime so you can actually interact with the other party. 

Many newer companies, especially startups, take pride in the fact that they don’t have a sales department single sales person, even in the niches that are still dominated by direct sales, like enterprise software. What’s your view on this trend – is salesmanship a skill that’s going to be always in demand or are technological advances, especially Big Data, leaving less and less room for ‘old school’ sales tactics? 

We are all salespeople… in every aspect of our lives. So the question is not, “Is there a need for a sales person?” But rather, “How can I be more effective?” Every person in every organization is a “face of the company.” And because of that, they are selling the company/product/service/ or cause. But this becomes even more reason to be as effective as you can be given the small amount of time or exposure you may have to a potential client. 

Could you please give a few specific tips for negotiating over the Internet – email, LinkedIn, Skype, etc. 

I sold a $2500 sponsorship to PORSCHE by simply sending a cold/call query email. Why did it work? Because it captured their attention, explained briefly what the benefit would be to them to participate, provided a history of the success of the organization I was soliciting for, and asked them for their business. Tips for negotiating over the internet are these: be brief, brilliant, bold and brave. 

If you were to pick one person to be world’s best negotiator of all times, who would that be and why? 

Taylor Swift has become one of the world’s best negotiators because she has clout; she asks for what she wants/needs in a way that is not offensive; and she is liked—no loved—by all. Positioning yourself in a place where you cannot fail is what Taylor has accomplished in a culture-changing way. 

What books, blogs, podcasts and other resources would you recommend to our users who want to learn more about negotiating successfully? 

I would recommend my two books: Let’s Close a Deal: Turn Contacts into Paying Customers for Your Company Product, Service or Causeand YOU, Inc. The Art of Selling Yourself. 

Thank you for the interview. 


Bitrix24 is a free social collaboration platform. Use promocode TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

5 Bootstrapping Strategies Every Startup Should Be Using

Money is frequently the biggest issue for startups. You have to spend money to make money, but there isn’t much to begin with. Don’t despair with a little bit of common sense and a bootstrapping mindset, you can stretch your hard earned dollar a long way. Here are five tips to get you started.


1. Take advantage of the SaaS wars.

Software as a service is a multibillion dollar industry with new companies trying to get a piece of the pie every month. In order to gain market share, some companies provide free plans which could easily compete with competitors’ paid versions. For example, Bitrix24 offers a free CRM that’s better than 95% of paid CRMs. Asana (of ex-Facebook fame) is a terrific project management service that’s free for any company with 20 employees or fewer. Wave Accounting has an extremely generous free plan that can save you thousands. Any business tool you can think of (invoicing, conference calling, benefit management, time sheets) is offered for free by some SaaS that’s backed up by millions in venture financing with aggressive growth strategy.

Hint – follow KillerStartups’ Twitter account and you’ll be the first to know when a new one is launched.

2. Smart-sourcing

I am sure you know can you save a lot of money by outsourcing work to people with lower wage expectations and that crowdsourcing lets you choose among dozens of qualified workers. However, to get your black belt in crowdsourcing, stay away from do-it-all crowdsourcing sites (eLanceFreelance.comGuru.com, etc.) and learn about niche crowdsourcing sites. The difference is this:  at an unspecialized site, you have to explain the task in tedious detail to the hired hand, at a specialist site, you may find that you’ve working with someone who understands the task better than you do.

Need a domain name for your project? You’ll get hundreds of suggestions for unregistered domains at PickyDomains.com, it costs $50 and you pay only if you decide to use one of the suggestions. 99Designs.com is widely regarded as the best place for logos, where the ready-made versions cost only $99. Need to shoot a commercial for a local TV advertisement? That’s what PopTent.com is for. As with SaaS, there are dozens of amazing niche crowdsourcing sites for virtually every aspect of your business, from cold calling to legal services. All you have to do is dig a little deeper and ask around.

3. Start accepting ‘exotic’ digital currencies.

You accept credit cards, PayPal and bank transfers, thinking that’s plenty enough. WRONG!  First of all, almost every country has a digital currency that’s in wide use. For example, WebMoney in Eastern Europe is more popular than PayPal. MoneyBookers (now known as Skrill) is extremely popular in India. It’s hard to sell things in China without accepting AliPay or TenPay.

Offering key regional digital currencies immediately increases your appeal in local markets. Second, some global digital currencies, like BitCoin, for example, form a large community around them. Once a few people from that community start buying from your startup, the news spreads like a wild fire.  Joining one of many online barter networks also helps.

4. DIY public relations with LinkedIn InMail

If you are a tech startup, hiring a PR firm with enough expertise and weight to get you published in tech publications well set you back at least $5000 a month. Needless to say, the results aren’t guaranteed. You’d be better off (at least in the beginning) investing $100 a month in upgrading your LinkedIn account, so you can send InMails.

Essentially, InMail option lets you send messages to any LinkedIn member, even the ones you aren’t connected to. LinkedIn makes contacting editors-in-chief or journalists very easy. Also, you are charged only for InMails that were actually read by the recipient.

Here’s a tip – don’t ever use LinkedIn to send press-releases. Use it to ask questions, pitch ideas or inquire about guest posting opportunities. If you want a journalist to take a look at your press-release, ask him or her first. Something like, “We are publishing a report about how offering a freemium option increases sales based on our own statistics. There are quite a few interesting numbers in the report. Can I send you a press-release for that?” usually works.

5. Take advantage of numerous ‘frugal’ sites

There are numerous online communities for the frugal-minded. Reddit has r/frugal and r/freebiesAppSumo works like a Groupon for business tools and services. RetailMeNot can get you coupons for office supplies. There are sites and apps devoted solely to listing stores that are going out of business in a certain radius. Bootstrapping is a state of mind. Join other like-minded individuals and share your finds, tips, techniques and experiences.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Five Questions To Ask To Get More Sales

Being ready with a few prepared questions can make the sales process easier for you and more comfortable for your customers. Review these questions and have them ready so you can move those conversations forward to closing ground. 
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Question 1: Name Your Problem 
What’s your biggest project right now? 
What’s the biggest problem you face right now? 
What’s causing you the most stress right now? 

Phrasing your question in an open-ended way–one which doesn’t allow for Yes or No answers–helps your customers to share what’s really on their minds. And that’s exactly what you want. 

Honest conversations build rapport and trust. They also help you to understand what your customers really need and which obstacles keep them up at night. When you can pinpoint their projects and their problems, you can start introducing the best solutions. 

Question 2: Name Your Change 
If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be? 
If you could change one area of your business, what would it be? 
What’s one change that would really help you? 

This question helps your customers to break out of a limited mindset, bound by time and budget constraints, and dream a little. What would really improve their lives and businesses? As an objective listener, you can help them see that the change they want isn’t that far out of reach. Then you can help them build a realistic plan. 

Or, as you listen, you might see that the changes they name aren’t real improvements or the smartest investments. Introduce other ideas that might be doable and offer the help you can to accomplish those goals. 

Question 3: Name Your Obstacle 
What’s holding you back from making this change? 
What’s keeping you from deciding on this purchase? 
What’s the best reason you have to walk away from this opportunity? 

Every customer has a list of reasons why it’s easier to say no. Sometimes staying stuck in a rut is more appealing than working up the energy to move forward. Of course, your customers won’t say that; they’ll just list their reasons: “It’s too expensive,” or “It takes too long,” or “It’s not the right fit,” or “We’ve tried that before.” 

Instead of putting your customer on the defensive, go ahead and invite their best reasons to say no to your offer. When you remove the conflict from the conversation, your customer is more likely to be open and see that their best reasons are, maybe, not that great. And, with that clear list of obstacles, you can answer each one of them specifically. 

Question 4: Name Your Need 
How can I help you right now? 
What can I do to help you most with this problem? 
What kind of help do you need the most? 

This is the kind of question that customers try to brush off; don’t let them. If their first response is negative, rephrase the question and ask again. We all have needs, but we’re not all used to asking for, or accepting, help. 

There’s just one caveat here: be ready to provide, to the best of your ability, what your customer needs. That might be time to think, more information, further meetings, or some other resource you can provide. Do what you can to show your customer that your priority is to help them however you can. 

Question 5: Name Your Benefit 
What will you miss by not taking this opportunity? 
What do you think you’ll miss if you don’t move forward now? 
What do you risk if you choose to walk away? 

Discussing problems, obstacles, and needs will provide plenty of opportunities for you to share the benefits of your product or service. What’s left is to let your customers convince themselves. That’s what this question does: you’re helping your customers tell themselves what they could gain, and what they risk losing, by saying no to the sale. 

Don’t be afraid to repeat questions in your conversations. Sometimes the first answer (or two) is a quick response without much thought in it. When you present the same question, rephrased, a few different times, your customer gets a chance to think about it and answer honestly. You gain insight into your customer’s real needs and insight to lead your customer to the right solution for those needs. 

Bitrix24 offers Internal communication tools. Use promocode TIP10 when registering your free Bitrix24 account to get extra 10GB. 

See also:

Thursday, September 24, 2015

8 Most Effective Apps For Internal Communications


PickyDomains - World’s first risk free naming service 

No one needs to be yelling from office to office, or sending unnecessary emails. It's simply a waste of time. That's why we asked 9 entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) what they rely on most for communication among team members. Their best answers are below.


1. Bitrix24


I have tried many different apps for internal team communication and Bitrix24 is the best by far. Bitrix24 has group chat and video, document management, its own cloud, a calendar for planning, email, a CRM system, human resource capabilities and much, much more. There isn't anything that I wish Bitrix24 could do but doesn't. The best part is that you can pick and choose which parts you use (and it's totally free). – Robert De Los Santos, Sky High Party Rentals
2. Slack

Our team switched from Hipchat to Slack in less than a day, and everyone loves it. It's really easy to learn, the integrations are fantastic, links and file uploads show up inline and all the conversations are searchable for later. Also, the ability to create a Google Hangout from inside a chat room is one of the coolest and most useful features I've ever seen. – Mattan Griffel, One Month

3. Campfire

We use Campfire and it's awesome. It's great to have password-protected group chats, and since it's network agnostic, our team members can use it no matter what other chat network they're on. It's also got a great suite of add-ons and extras, many of which are free, so we can really customize what we get out of it for customer service, development and design. – Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com
4. Basecamp

At Ajax Union, we use Basecamp both for internal team communication and for bridging the gap between staff members and our clientele. Basecamp makes it easy for people in different positions at the company, especially those who wear many hats, to easily share files and stay in the loop on projects and client information. It's easy to use and a go-to for getting team communication up and running. – Joe Apfelbaum, Ajax Union
5. Redbooth

While technically a task tracking application, Redbooth has implemented a fantastic built-in chat software. This combines being able to assign tasks and using the same window to communicate with members about those tasks. It helps keep chat oriented to business communication, which maximizes productivity among the entire team. – Cody McLain, WireFuseMedia LLC
6. Wrike

We use Skype and chats within Google Docs to communicate. However, we find that it's very important to tie discussions to particular tasks and projects. We useWrike as our task and project management tool. With the ability to easily “@” message a team member through tasks and the activity stream, Wrike lets us message each other while bringing context to the conversation. – Miles Jennings, Recruiter.com

7. Kato.im

We're huge fans of Kato.im for internal communications. It has seamless integration with GitHub and other services that allow us to provide context and data behind the conversations we're having. We use it religiously in our office. – Brewster Stanislaw, Inside Social
8. Microsoft Lync


For our internal team, we use Microsoft Lync as it allows us to have a truly unified communications platform, blending video, phone, instant messaging and collaborative work environments into one space. It greatly increases the productivity of our firm. – Michael Spinosa, Unleashed Technologies

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program.


Adopted from Business.com

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Six Totally Free CRM For Your Business

There’s no such thing as a free lunch. It’s one of the saddest facts in my life, right up there with my insane student debt and the realization that Taylor Swift will probably never talk to me.
But there’s good news! I just saved a bunch of money by switching to… no, I’m kidding.
The real good news is that, while lunch may not be free, Customer Relationship Management software can be!
Free stuff is exciting!
Free stuff is exciting!
Free CRM comes in two categories – free, but limited (also known as freemium), and open source.
So the free, but limited versions offset caps on the amount of free users, contacts, storage, extra features, or some combination thereof.
Open source, on the other hand, offers an unlimited, fully functional CRM to users. The caveat is that your company needs a person (or team) who can install and configure the CRM. Of course, because of this, open source CRM is extremely customizable, which is nice. Most open source CRM companies also offer a preconfigured version and/or installation and support for a price.
Where can you find these magical free CRMs? Well, I put together a list for you! Check out the comparison chart below and read the details about the CRM systems that interest you.
Please note that I have not placed these in any particular order. Each system is different and each one will serve some companies better than others.

1. Bitrix24

Bitrix24
I like Bitrix a lot because it offers really flexible price options. I like flexibility. For a completely free account you get 12 users, five GB of storage and the ability to do anything you want with that storage, which is already a pretty sweet deal.
This is how it gets better. The upgrade fee to get unlimited users and 50 gigs of storage is $99, but if you’re not feeling that cause really all you needed was a few more users, or maybe just more storage… Bitrix totally hears you! They offer an additional 12 users to the same program for $25/user/month. And/or if you want more storage they offer a tiered pricing plan on that up to one TB.
So that’s the pricing.
Overall, reviewers find Bitrix to be a very easy-to-use system. In addition, itsdocument management feature is well integrated and extremely useful.
The drawback that reviewers all point out is that Bitrix’ aesthetics are a little rough at points. One reviewer mentioned that they use a flashing clock in the corner to remind users to timestamp all activities, which I could easily imagine is quite obnoxious.

2. CapsuleCRM

CapsuleCRM
Capsule is free for up to two users with 10 MB of storage, and 250 contacts. To upgrade, it’s $12/user/month. With the upgrade comes two gigabytes of storage, 50,000 contacts, and integration with such applications as Mailchimp andFreshbooks.
Capsule’s best feature, according to its many glowing reviews, is its ability to integrate with at least 33 other software programs, including Mailchimp, Freshbooks, and Gmail.
In fact, according to the reviews, the only place Capsule is really lacking as a system is its customer support. While they have a FAQs section as well as helpful articles posted on their page, if you need any help after hours, you’re sunk. In addition, they offer no direct phone service. Rather, you must submit a form, though they do claim to call you back within a single business day.

3. Insightly

insightly
Insightly claims on its homepage to be the “#1 online small business CRM.” I have no evidence to corroborate this particular claim, but I can tell you that they offer a great free program and a very friendly website.
Insightly offers their system free for three users, 2,500 records (which they define as any stored item from contact to note), 200 megabytes of storage and ten custom fields. Perhaps most importantly, Insightly offers free users full product support! The upgrade fee is $7/user/month and includes 100,000 records, unlimited storage, and Mailchimp integration.
As they say on their homepage, Insightly is great for small businesses. For many small businesses three users is really more than enough. However, many reviewershave mentioned that Insightly is not ideal for bigger businesses, particularly because its functionality is not capable of handling the demands of a larger business. One particular example cited is that the email integration lacks a lot of user functionality that other CRM platforms don’t think twice about.

4. Really Simple Systems

Really Simple Systems
Really Simple Systems claims to be the best CRM system for small businesses. (But it does not claim to be the #1 online CRM for small business, so there’s no rivalry with Insightly.)
Really Simple Systems offers a free two user system that includes 100 accounts (business that you deal with), unlimited contacts within those accounts, tasks, and 100MB of storage. To upgrade to five users with the same functionality, it’s $15/user/month.
Customers love Really Simple Systems because it’s actually really simple and they offer excellent customer support. I honestly struggled to find the problems people had with this system, that’s how much users love it.
However, I did manage to dig up one con to keep in mind. Cloudpro’s review, while generally praising this CRM, does mention that Really Simple Systems offers more limited functionality, and so works best for small businesses compared to large or enterprise ones.

5. FreeCRM

FreeCRM
Here’s another CRM that claims to be #1 at something. This time its #1 at online free CRM software for business (so again, technically no rivalry!).
This free version comes with five free users, 2,500 contacts, and all the basic features. The upgrade fee is $14.95/user/month for more features, storage, and support. Two major drawbacks up front: you only get one year free, and no customer support.
So what makes FreeCRM worth it? First, their upgraded system is actually one of the most affordable CRMs on the market. Second, it’s a web-based solution, so you don’t need to create an expensive and time-consuming infrastructure to host it on, meaning pretty much anyone can get it up and running with ease.

6. Bitrix24

Bitrix24
I like Bitrix a lot because it offers really flexible price options. I like flexibility. For a completely free account you get 12 users, five GB of storage and the ability to do anything you want with that storage, which is already a pretty sweet deal.
This is how it gets better. The upgrade fee to get unlimited users and 50 gigs of storage is $99, but if you’re not feeling that cause really all you needed was a few more users, or maybe just more storage… Bitrix totally hears you! They offer an additional 12 users to the same program for $25/user/month. And/or if you want more storage they offer a tiered pricing plan on that up to one TB.
So that’s the pricing.
Overall, reviewers find Bitrix to be a very easy-to-use system. In addition, itsdocument management feature is well integrated and extremely useful.
The drawback that reviewers all point out is that Bitrix’ aesthetics are a little rough at points. One reviewer mentioned that they use a flashing clock in the corner to remind users to timestamp all activities, which I could easily imagine is quite obnoxious.

7. Raynet

Raynet1
Raynet markets itself as an easy-to-use, does-it-all CRM. It’s free version allows for two users, 150 accounts, 50MB of storage, and full customer support. Upgrade to 20,000 accounts and one TB of storage for just $19/user/month.
Raynet’s system is very aesthetically pleasing and features an “account card” (featured above) where you can glean most of the information you need about a customer from a single glance, including how much they’re worth to your company.
All that said, Raynet is a fairly new company, and the fact that it’s headquartered in the Czech Republic may make support difficult for U.S.-based companies (though they have an office in Florida).  Additionally, perhaps because it’s such a recent entrant to the American CRM market, there is not yet much third party information or reviews on software.

8. vTiger

vTiger
vTiger is an open source CRM, that is also based on Sugar. vTiger was actually originally a part of Sugar, but both have since gone their own ways.
While you can download and install the open source version of the software for free yourself, vTiger does offer several preconfigured versions starting as just $12/user/month. In addition, vTiger also offers installation, support, hardware, and/or administration for a price. It integrates with MailChimp, Intuit and Paypal, among others.
One thing that vTiger does really well is offer a wide array of features for very cheap, even on the preconfigured level. These features include billing, inventory tracking, and project management capabilities, all of which are fairly unusual to find in any CRM system.
From reviews, it would appear as though a fairly important drawback to vTiger is the fact that it has compatibility issues with PHP 5.6 and above.

9. ZohoCRM

Zoho
Zoho is one of the big dogs of business software, so it’s pretty cool that they offer a free program. This CRM version is free for three users and 5,000 records. It comes with a mobile app and social CRM among other things. Their first step upgrade (for more users, features, and 100,000 records) is only $12/user/month.
Zoho is well known for being easy to use with highly developed importing features.
Unfortunately, Zoho is not as feature-rich as other CRMs on this list and has some quirks that take getting used to. An example that one reviewer used was that, when exporting from Zoho, you have to be very careful to ensure that there are no commas in any records, or else it will split up the record when putting it into Excel.

10. Zurmo

Zurmo
Zurmo is open source, and is unique on this list because it is also gamified. Zurmo was written on the principal that offering users incentives along the way makes users better employees. So the system sets goals, or ‘missions’ (which are different for different types of users) and then gives badges along the way to goal completion. It also allows coworkers to challenge each other to missions with set rewards at the end (like a gift card).
Currently, the biggest drawback to Zurmo is that it’s pretty new on the scene – which, being open source, can actually be a bit of a bother. Zurmo’s open source version lacks some fairly basic features such as social CRM.  This, of course, is unlikely to remain a problem the longer it sticks around.
Zurmo does offer a preconfigured version for $32/user/month.
Source - Capterra.com