Tuesday, October 29, 2013

FREE Halloween Golf Book -- Grand Slam: A Tale Of Weird Golf

It wouldn't be Halloween without a scary story or two, but we don't often connect "golf" with "scary" unless we're standing over a downhill three-footer with eight inches of left-to-right break and a $1000 press on the line.

Fortunately, there are cheaper ways to put some spine-tingling thrills into your golf experience.  Like picking up a copy of Grand Slam: A Tale Of Weird Golf. To celebrate the season, this quick, fun, tongue-in-cheek read is available for the spook-tacular price of FREE right now at Amazon.com.

Grand Slam follows the hair-raising adventures of Eddie Monk, a sportswriter who suspects that golf's newest phenom, Harry, "The Closer" Lanack, has a horrible secret that is propelling him toward winning the most elusive record in the sport. When the full moon intersects the golf tournament calendar with perfect timing, Harry's game--not to mention his hunger for human flesh--steps up a notch of two. Eddie's quest for the truth sends him from an insane asylum in Vienna to the storied fairways of Winged Foot Golf Club and a final showdown with "The Closer" under the light of the full moon.

And you thought that three-footer was scary?

Enjoy Grand Slam for FREE right now. If you don't have a Kindle, download it to your smartphone or tablet using the free Kindle app or read it on your computer. While you're reading, though, make sure you keep all the lights on!

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Saturday, October 19, 2013

KITE Flies For Under-Supplied Schools

A new social enterprise, KITE (Kids Inspiring Tomorrow’s Education), will make its formal launch in Bedford, NY, at the Bedford Historical Hall on the evening of October 24th, 2013.  The undertaking terms itself a "school supply company that gives", following the tried and true "one-for-one model." For each pencil pack purchased, KITE provides a pencil pack to a child in need. KITE is partnering with schools and organizations that are committed to eliminating the barriers of education both internationally and domestically. Thirteen million kids in the United States alone are without the most basic of school supplies with tens of millions more children around the globe facing this same reality.

KITE’s first two partner schools include the Kipp Ujima Village Academy (KUVA) in Baltimore, MD and the Oloomongi School (in partnership with the Anne K. Taylor Fund) in Masaai Mara, Kenya.  KUVA is a Title I School where a high percentage of students are living below the poverty line. Their student body is 99% African American and 86% receive free or reduced meals. The Oloomongi School serves a student body that has little access to basic school supplies due to widespread and extreme poverty.  KITE’s Co-Founders, Elizabeth Long Lang and Emily Ginnel Blair will be visiting the Kipp Ujima Village Academy in Baltimore, Maryland on October 25th (the day after the event) where they will be making their first domestic donation of pencil packs.  

KITE will be debuting its line of First Edition pencil packs, proudly made in the USA.  First edition pencil packs include 12 pencils and will retail at $10.00.  KITE pencils will be available for purchase at the event on October 24th from 5-8pm and online at www.kiteproducts.com.

KITE aims to empower consumers to help those in need by turning basic, necessary instruments of learning into weapons of change.  “A pencil is one of the most enduring, pervasive education technologies ever invented," says KITE co-founder Elizabeth Long Lang, "yet is still elusive in many poverty stricken communities. It’s easy to take such basic instruments for granted, but they are engines of confidence, propelling us on the path to literacy. With the necessary tools, every child can achieve success.”

KITE’s Co-Founders, Elizabeth Long Lang and Emily Ginnel Blair, both former residents of Bedford, will be hosting the event, along with co-hosts Kate and Dan Ginnel of Ginnel Real Estate, Ali Tejtel, and Nelson and Terry Long.

KITE’s long-term goal is to provide kids in need with the necessary tools to attend school and be productive learners. A lack of school supplies can negatively impact a child’s opportunity for academic achievement and places children at greater risk of abandoning school altogether. KITE is starting with pencils, but their dream is to develop a full line of school supplies, and in turn, help to make the dream of education a reality for millions of children around the world.

Dave Donelson distill the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides and Handbooks, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, and management strategy.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Creative Aging Project Shows Libraries At Their Best

The Westchester Library System's Creative Aging Project has been a huge success, helping seniors express themselves and enjoy fulfilling, productive activities at their local libraries. It's just one more way WLS and its 38 member libraries empower their communities.



Dave Donelson distills the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides and Handbooks, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, and management strategy.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Harrison Public Library Reaches Out to Special Kids

An ongoing goal of the Harrison (NY) Public Library is to make the public library a meaningful and popular place for all children. In partnership with the Westchester Therapy Solutions (Formerly Donna Klein & Associates), the Harrison Public Library staff has been trained to better understand and serve children with disabilities. As a result of this training, the Library staff has developed a series of craft, story-time and sensory movie-time programs that will be implemented by the end of 2013.

The Kick-Off Event, “Special Program for Special Friends”, an inclusive, interactive music show, is scheduled for Friday, September 20th at 10:30am. Matt Mazur from Turtle Dance Music, LLC will lead families through 45 minutes of participatory, movement-based songs. Children will also be able to try out different instruments throughout the show.

The Library has scheduled monthly Arts and Crafts for Special Needs Kids Programs. We are inviting kids ages 3 through 5 and their parents to join us Friday, September 27th at 10:30 am for the first craft program in this series. Visiting occupational therapist from the Westchester Therapy Solutions (Formerly Donna Klein & Associates) will be available on site. Families and caregivers participation is encouraged and needed. Sign up is required. Limited to 10 families. Siblings are welcome.

Dave Donelson distill the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides and Handbooks, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, and management strategy.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Chimps Lead the Action in Devolution

Action rules in Peter Clenott's Devolution, the story of a teenage girl raised by chimpanzees. The book is peopled by interesting characters and plays out against a well-described setting, but it depends on a rising crescendo of fist fights, gun battles, and ferocious attacks by wild animals (and humans) to propel the reader through the story.

As entertaining as the mayhem might be (and it is entertaining), it actually serves to underscore the theme of the book, which is how thin the line really is between man and beast. The protagonist, Chiku Flynn, is the sixteen-year-old daughter of two deeply flawed scientists who essentially turned her upbringing over to the chimpanzees they are studying on an island in the Congo. The result is a heroine every bit as compelling as Lisbeth Salander from Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

There are a raft of other characters, too, but the most interesting are the chimps. Clenott gave them distinct personalities, the ability to communicate, and individual motivations for their actions. This could have been cringe-inducing and mawkish, but he pulled it off quite well and made the primates fully believable characters.

The Congo itself plays a huge role in the novel. Having visited Central Africa myself and studied the DRC while writing my novel, Heart of Diamonds, I read Clenott's work with a particularly critical eye. My conclusion: his portrayal of the nation's tragic history and its current convoluted conflict is spot on.

Devolution is a fun, compelling read based on a fascinatingly creative premise.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Room of Tears Ends with a Twist

Room of Tears has one of the most creative "hooks" for a novel you'll ever encounter. Author Linda Merlino took what could have been a 9/11 weeper and turned it into an engrossing tale with a fascinating twist to the ending. You'll find no spoiler here; suffice it to say that you'll never see it coming and the concept will set you back on your heels.

The book tells the story of Diane O'Connor, the widow of a fireman who was killed in the attack on the Twin Towers on 9/11. The narrative takes us into the future when her son, Peter, born nine months after the attack, is elected Pope--the first from America. The links between those two events feed the narrative as it moves back and forth in time. Multiple voices tell the story, too, although most of it comes from the protagonist.

Room of Tears requires some careful reading to keep track of the story, but it's well worth the effort when you come to the thought-provoking conclusion.

Dave Donelson distill the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides and Handbooks, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, and management strategy.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Maybe the Richest Deal Ever Made on a Golf Course

It's probably impossible to prove, but it's entirely likely that a deal spawned at St. Andrew's GC in Hastings may have been the largest ever struck on a golf course. I ran across this interesting tidbit in American Colosus: The Triumph of Capitalism 1865-1900 by H.W. Brands. The club, which celebrated its 125th anniversary this year, played an essential role in the sale of member Andrew Carnegie's steel interests to J.P. Morgan and others in 1901.

The deal was a perfect example of the role golf can play in business--not to mention the value of scoring judiciously when playing against your boss.

Andrew Carnegie playing at St. Andrew’s circa 1899. He enjoyed the game so much, he built a home next to the course // Photograph courtesy of Westchester County Historical Society
Carnegie Steel President Charles M. Schwab was the hero of the piece. Morgan had made it known he and his partners wanted to buy out Carnegie so they could monopolize the steel industry. Schwab saw the value of the deal (he subsequently became President of the company it created, U.S. Steel) but the ultimate decision was Carnegie's, who wasn't particularly interested in selling. His wife, Louise, though, wanted him to retire. Here's how Brands described what happened:
"Louise Carnegie conspired with Schwab against her husband. Shortly after Schwab informed her of the merger scheme, she telephoned to say that Carnegie would be playing golf the next morning at St. Andrew's club in Westchester. He was always more cooperative after winning at the Scottish national sport, she suggested. Schwab took the hint, whiffed a few for the cause, and broached the subject of selling. Carnegie didn't reject the plan outright, which Schwab took to be a good sign."
It was. The next morning, Carnegie named his price--$480 million. Morgan accepted it and a few days later closed the deal personally. As he shook Carnegie's hand, he said, "Mr. Carnegie, I want to congratulate you on being the richest man in the world."

At that point in time, it probably wasn't an exaggeration. The deal would be worth about $13 billion in today's dollars. That has to make it one of the biggest ever born on a golf course.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Novel That Deserves an Audience: Room Of Tears

The tragedy of 9/11 has spawned countless books, but author Linda Merlino tackled the difficult task of telling a remarkable story that occurred in the aftermath of that horrible day. Merlino's new novel, Room Of Tears, is the gripping tale of a firefighter's widow and her astounding life after the attack, told from a unique vantage point.

The protagonist, Diane O'Connor, was widowed when the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed at 9:59 that morning. The event destroyed the life she had planned and shattered her faith, but it didn't crush her willingness to face her fate. She kept a note hanging on her kitchen cabinet as a poignant reminder of the words she left for her husband that terrible morning.  She also kept a journal of the year that followed 9/11, revealing it only because she knew her son, born nine months after that fateful day, needed to know what was in it.

Merlino says she was moved to write Room Of Tears by a chance encounter she had in 2008 in the Raleigh Durham Airport while on a book-signing tour for her first novel, Catalina Hudson (originally published as Belly of the Whale). In the airport, Merlino met a woman whose husband had been a New York City firefighter that day. He survived by chance; he had switched shifts to accommodate a doctor's appointment. "We moved down here to get away from the memories," the woman said. She went on to tell Merlino about the funerals, the widows, the waiting, and the grief. "Write your story," she said. "I may not be able to read it, but it needs to be written."

Room Of Tears needs to be read. It's a tribute to one woman's strength and a testament that miracles can really happen.

Available in eBook and trade paperback. ISBN: 978-1-927792-10-0

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Coming of Age at St. Andrews

An American Caddie In St. Andrews
At least once in their life, every golfer should make the pilgrimage to the Old Course in St. Andrews. Oliver Horovitz not only made that trip, he turned it into a coming-of-age book about his experiences working as a caddie there during his college years. An American Caddie in St. Andrews is an enjoyable, light read that covers the young man's summers looping on the Old Course while completing his education at Harvard, chasing girls, and pub crawling through the ancient town.

If you're a golfer looking for hole-by-hole insights into the Old Course, you'll probably be disappointed in this book. On the other hand, if you'd like to know what really goes on in the caddie shack, you'll be rewarded by the many tales Horovitz tells. As most of us have long suspected, caddies don't exactly have positive opinions of their clients. A tip less than 100% of the standard fee is generally met with disdain, for example. The caddies also have a private language for ridiculing their players--often right in front of them--to other caddies. It's not unusual for a caddie to purposely give wrong information to a player just for the sake of having a funny story to tell when they get back to the shack. Basically, two types of golfers are accorded caddie respect: scratch players and celebrities. The former gives the caddie fewer errant balls to look for and the latter gives them something to gossip about.  If you don't fall into either of those categories, according to Horovitz, you're just another chump, at least as far as the caddies at St. Andrews are concerned.

There are some non-golf story elements that turn the book into a memoir of sorts. The author chases girls and catches a few, shares various bachelor-pad type apartments with other caddies, and spends one summer filming the caddies as an assignment for one of his classes at Harvard. He also develops a fond relationship with an elderly uncle who lives in St. Andrews. A recurring theme is the way he was treated by the old caddies at the course and how, over time, he earned their trust and respect.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

American Triumvirate

American Triumvirate: Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan and the Modern Age of Golf, written by James Dodson, has earned the United States Golf Association’s Herbert Warren Wind Book Award for 2012. Dodson previously won the award in 2004 for Ben Hogan: An American Life.

“Snead, Nelson and Hogan set the standard for professional golf for three decades and were instrumental in defining the modern professional game,” said Robert Williams, director of the USGA Museum. “James Dodson did a masterful job not only telling the story of these three men, but also bringing an entire era of golf into sharper focus. This book is an impressive accomplishment that will undoubtedly stand the test of time.”

American Triumvirate brings to life the colorful personalities and compelling stories of three of golf’s all-time greats: Sam Snead, Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan. Interviews with friends, family and fellow competitors helped Dodson paint a picture of determined athletes, all remarkably born in the same year, 1912, who would revitalize a struggling game in Depression-era America.

Through Dodson’s expert storytelling, the reader experiences the dominance of Snead, Nelson and Hogan from the late 1930s through the 1950s. The passion, skill and competitiveness displayed by these giants of the game helped to forever change the public perception of golf and to plant it firmly in the mainstream of American life.

“This is a story about three extraordinary men, who were very different, but each helped put golf on the front pages of newspapers in America,” said Dodson. “Hogan, Nelson and Snead were the founding fathers of the modern game.”

Snead won 82 PGA Tour events, which remains the record. Six years after capturing the 1939 U.S. Open, Nelson won 11 consecutive PGA Tour events in 1945. And Hogan won four U.S. Opens, including the 1950 championship at Merion Golf Club, site of the 2013 U.S. Open.

Writer-in-residence for The Pilot newspaper in Southern Pines, N.C., Dodson also edits three arts and culture magazines published by The Pilot: PineStraw, Salt and O.Henry. Dodson, who spent two decades as a contributing editor and columnist for Golf Magazine, received the 2011 Donald Ross Award from the American Society of Golf Course Architects.

“This book was a real labor of love in the purest, best sense,” said Dodson. “Winning an award named after a mentor and friend is a huge honor for me. Mr. Wind gave me the inspiration to write the book, and called them an ‘American triumvirate.’”

The Herbert Warren Wind Book Award was established in 1987. The award recognizes and honors outstanding contributions to golf literature while attempting to broaden the public’s interest in, and knowledge of, the game of golf. Wind, who died in 2005, was the famed writer for The New Yorker and Sports Illustrated who coined the phrase “Amen Corner” at Augusta National. He is the only writer to win the USGA’s Bob Jones Award, the Association’s highest honor.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Great Golf Swing Oil Myth

Beer and Golf
It’s one of the great burning questions in golf: does alcohol make you play better or just think you play better? In other words, should you drink while playing? According to Dr. Phil Striano, “It all boils down to whether you want to shoot the lowest possible score or to have the best possible time.” Guess which choice involves loading a cooler into your golf cart?

Putting the whoop-it-up factor to one side for a minute, we decided to find out just how alcohol affects your golf swing. We turned to Striano, a Titleist Performance Institute certified chiropractor and avid, low-handicap golfer, to apply some science to the question in his golf studio at Rivertowns Chiropractic in Dobbs Ferry. Under (barely) controlled conditions, we asked a dozen pretty average golfers to hit some golf balls into a net, drink a few beers, hit some more balls, drink some more beer, hit more balls, drink, hit, drink, hit, etc. The test grew a little raucous, but the goals of science were eventually served.

Striano and Keith Melnik, assistant pro at Ardsley Country Club, used some of the latest technology, the K-Vest, which plots the movement of the body during the golf swing, and the TrackMan radar system, which measures swing speed, shot distance, accuracy, and a bunch of other metrics, to analyze the groups’ performance. We used a conversion chart to estimate blood alcohol levels based on their body weight, consumption, and time spent drinking.

The guinea pigs were golfers just like you and me. They ranged in age from 25 to 64, handicaps from 0 to 25, and number of rounds played per year from 10 to 50. Every one of them said they drank while playing—at least sometimes—and most said they felt more relaxed when they did. Most of them figured a little “swing oil” improved their game although more than one confessed they really didn’t know. Or care.

Our volunteers didn’t shirk their responsibilities. They consumed anywhere from three to eight beers (yes, we were counting!) and hit 229 balls (not including warm-ups and goofing around) for the test. By the time they finished, five of them were over the DUI limit of 0.08% blood alcohol and most of the rest were really, really close to it.

The results? Not surprisingly, the more beer you drink, the worse you play. Quite frankly, though, especially considering how many of the volunteers were slurring their words and telling raunchy, pointless jokes by the end of the test, the impact on their swings wasn’t too bad. The distance they hit the ball suffered the most, with the average loss of 8.2 yards in carry using a six iron, although three of the twelve gave up more than 20 yards.

Accuracy actually improved a bit for the group after they’d had a few, at least as measured by how far the ball landed from an imaginary target. The average was about two yards closer, although five of the players got worse while seven became just slightly better—or luckier. When you combine distance and accuracy, average player performance went down by about 4% when alcohol was involved.

There was a clear correlation between blood alcohol levels and golf ability. As more pickling agent hit the blood stream, the golf swing became more erratic. Incidentally, high handicappers suffered proportionately more, as did older golfers.

Striano and Melnick analyzed the K-Vest data to see just how the golf swing responds to a suds bath. “When you start drinking, a whole lot of things happen. Beginning with alignment, the golfer becomes erratic,” Striano said. “Plus, there’s no question that there is a definite swing oil effect. Most of the guys got a lot looser and there was more turn in their hips and shoulders.”  Yes, but did it help?  “That made their swings longer, which actually reduced how far they hit the ball.”

We couldn’t measure the effects of beer on the golfer’s judgment, although given the way many of them were acting after a few, we suspect it doesn’t get more conservative. Carry that water hazard with this three wood off a down-hill lie? Sure—why not!  Equally un-measureable was the attitude factor, although our test subjects were certainly happier at the end of the test than when they began, regardless of how—or where—they hit the ball.

Perhaps the best guidance about booze on the golf course came from a real aficionado of both, Dean Martin, who once said “If you drink, don't drive. Don't even putt.”

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Saturday, May 25, 2013

How To Balance Existing Customers And New Prospects

Your current customers are your best single source of new business. They know you, they know your product, they have demonstrated their willingness to purchase. What’s more, you know them, you’ve learned about their needs, and you’ve invested a significant amount of your time in the success of their business. You should work to protect that investment and encourage it to grow the same way you manage your investment portfolio, making adjustments periodically to maximize the return on your investment.

Your current customers are also your company’s most profitable customers. The heavy start-up costs have been absorbed and written off already. The current customers have passed the credit checks, had their account data fed into your computer, been educated about your billing practices, learned how to use your customer support and service staffs, and otherwise incurred the typical back-office expense necessary to start doing business with a new account.

They’ve probably also passed the most expensive stage of incurring initial selling costs. You’ve used the get-acquainted offer, the short-term trial contract, and the sales promotion expense to bring them into the company. You’ve done your basic research, invested your time in preparing the initial proposals, tracked down the decision-makers, and made all the follow-up presentations to make the first sale. Once you’ve done these things, you generally don’t have to do them again. You can skip or abbreviate at least some of these time-expensive tasks.

You can concentrate on keeping the current customer happy and increase your business with them while you go about developing other new accounts. As you’ve probably guessed by now, you have to do both tasks to build a successful account list or territory. There is no rest in sales unless you decide you’re not going to grow your business both ways. And if that’s your decision, you’ll have plenty of time to rest—in the line at the unemployment office.

Dave Donelson distills the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides and Handbooks, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, and management strategy.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Customer For Life? Maybe!

Your goal for every customer should be to turn them into a customer for life, a popular concept that’s made the rounds in the last few years. Bowl them over with your service. Become such an integral part of their company that you have your own desk in their office. Know their needs so intimately that you develop solutions before the customers even discover the needs themselves.

Out of all your customers, you won’t have very many with that kind of relationship, but when you do, you’ll profit from it. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a handful of such customers with whom I’ve done business both when I worked for other companies and after I started my own. A few of them have represented millions of dollars in income over the years. You can enjoy the same kind of long-term relationship with your best customers if you practice just one thing: never stop selling them.

They may become your friends; in fact, I hope they do. They may come to rely on your service or products to the exclusion of all others. They may tell you that they’ll always be your customers and sign long-term contracts to prove it. But if you take them and their business for granted, you’ll regret it someday.

You’ll also be sorry if you rely on them as your sole or main source of income. Having one dominant customer is a dangerous situation because there are too many variables outside your control—and theirs. “For life” is a long, long, time.

Situations and people change. What was the foundation for a wonderful relationship two years ago may not mean anything today. Your relationship with your customer for life has to develop and change the same way your relationship with your spouse or significant other evolves over time. That’s the only way the relationship will stay vibrant, alive, and satisfying to both of you.

So never stop selling them. Every time your company comes out with a new product or service, pitch it to your current customers first. If it’s really a “new and improved” model, don’t you owe it to them? If there’s a limited supply, shouldn’t your best customers get first shot at it? That should be one of their rewards for being a loyal customer.

And always look for ways to add value to their current purchases from you. If your company sees fit to offer an inducement to new customers, shouldn’t your best current customers get the same deal? It’s a real slap in the face if they don’t. And if the new business incentive is a small price to pay for a new account, it’s an even smaller price to pay to keep a current one. That’s one of the management dilemmas behind sales promotions.

Dave Donelson distills the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides and Handbooks, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, and management strategy.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Continual Selling Cements Customer Loyalty

The best way to make sure the long term customer knows you’re not taking them for granted is to make it a practice to continually sell them. Advertising works best when it’s presented constantly over time. The message and the medium are important, but the repetition of the message—the frequency with which a customer sees the ad—is paramount. Good customer relations are built the same way: continual selling.

As you practice continual selling, watch out for a few pitfalls. In most businesses, long-term orders are encouraged. A contract to deliver the product or service in increments over a period of several months is generally considered more valuable than a series of contracts to deliver the same volume written one month at a time. The security of the long-term contract is often so important that the vendor will grant a discount or other special terms to the customer who signs one. Salespeople recognize the value, too, because they know that it’s much more efficient to sell one contract than twelve.

But there’s a downside risk in long-term contracts, too. The salesperson often believes, either consciously or subconsciously, that they’ve secured all the business they’re going to get from that customer, so they stop selling them until contract renewal time comes around. In some cases (which are all too frequent), the customer won’t even hear from the salesperson again until it’s time to renew. This attitude not only impairs the relationship with that customer, but it blinds the salesperson to many good opportunities in the interim.

I’m sure that your company has a continuous stream of new products, repackaged lines, sales promotions, and maybe even a price change or two. The first place you should prospect to sell these is among your current customers. They’ve already shown their willingness to buy from you, so keep the boiler stoked by continually feeding it new fuel.

Your customer’s needs may have changed or new ones arisen since they signed that long- term contract. The contract itself may have left some money on the table or there may well be a “contingency fund” in the customer’s budget held back just for last-minute opportunities. You’ll never know unless you constantly offer them additions to their contract.

Another advantage of continual selling is that you are trying out new ideas on the customer all the time. That gives you frequent feedback on what the customer likes and doesn’t like, needs and doesn’t need. Whether you sell any add-ons or not, this is very useful information when it comes to renewal time.

Dave Donelson distills the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides and Handbooks, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, and management strategy.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Successful Contract Renewal Strategies

If you’ve been selling for any period of time, you’ve learned that contract renewals, even with your very best customers, are far from automatic. That’s why you should develop a renewal strategy that’s as complete as your plan for selling a new major account.

First, when you start working on that renewal, try to move the decision date earlier every time. There’s a real pragmatic defensive reason for this. Just as you monitor your competition, they’re constantly monitoring your accounts, too. And they’re probably just waiting for the opportunity to get in there with your biggest account at renewal time. Can’t you just see them lurking in the shadows?

The best way to foil their attack is to preclude it by locking up the renewal early. If you wait for the prospect to tell you it’s time for renewal, it’s too late. You should be the proactive party in the transaction.

Do your estimate (or re-estimate) of their spending potential, study their needs as you now know them, and put that proposal for the renewal on the table as early as you can. You’ll stand a good chance of getting an early renewal at the best and will have set the standards for the competition at the worst. It’s generally better to be defending your position than assaulting someone else’s.

And when renewal time rolls around, make sure you set your sights high enough. Don’t let your expectations be limited by the size of the last contract. Human beings have a bad tendency to categorize each other. In sales, you tend to sort your current customers into boxes—and the size of the box is not based on their total potential as a revenue source but on what they spent with you the first time you sold them.

This system of classification is even worse when you take over an account that had been handled by someone else, like your predecessor in the territory. There’s a particular danger of improper classification, by the way, with some computerized sales automation systems since they can’t take into account what should be, only what has been. And many time management systems  encourage you to rank your prospects by dollar volume and allocate your time accordingly, so the error can be compounded.

If you sort your customers into boxes based on their previous spending with your company, you’re putting yourself into a box, too. And that box limits the potential for growth in your commission check. You should have no more pre-conceived ideas about your current customers than you do about new prospects. You must not let past spending be the sole determinant of the size of future proposals.

Remember, too, that the stereotyping process works both ways. Just as you’ve classified the account based on its past spending, the buyer has probably classified you based on the size of the proposals you have offered. If you’ve been selling them small deals, you’re grouped (mentally at least) as an unimportant vendor. If the amount they spend with you “moves the needle” on their income statement, you’ll be in a much larger box.

I recommend periodic reviews of current account potential along the lines of the initial research on prospective new accounts described in The Dynamic Manager’s Guide To Sales Techniques. There’s no law that says you can’t do that same kind of research into your current accounts. In fact, you would be doing the customer a real service if you took the time to analyze them that way.

Start with a fresh needs analysis as if you were getting ready to pitch a new account—then add the knowledge you’ve gained during the term of the current contract. Has the competitive scene changed? Has the customer made any changes in their business? The list of questions is endless but they should all give you a clearer map of the route to a sizable renewal.

Then look outside the box and estimate their revenue potential. If there’s a discrepancy between the estimate and their actual spending, you may have identified an opportunity.

Dave Donelson distills the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides and Handbooks, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, and management strategy.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Don't Miss the First Westchester Digital Summit

The inaugural Westchester Digital Summit will be held on Tuesday, May 14, 2013, according to organizer Chris Dessi, CEO and Founder of Silverback Social.  The event has been named by Forbes as on of the “Four Lesser-Known Conferences That Deserve Your Attention in 2013.” The summit will be a global gathering of the most innovative minds in the digital economy today, bringing celebrities, global digital marketers and the most compelling industry personalities impacting the digital world today to Westchester County Center in White Plains, New York.

With an impressive roster of speakers and presenters including Brett Prescott, Global Marketing Strategy at Facebook, Shripal Shah, Senior Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer at The Washington Redskins, Josh Glantz, VP & General Manager of Publishers Clearinghouse Online, Brandon Steiner, Founder and Chairman of Steiner Sports, Geoffrey Colon, Vice President Social @Ogilvy, Sandy Carter, Vice President for Social Business and Collaboration Solutions, IBM, Michael DiLorenzo, VP of Social Media, Rue La La; Rick Burnes, Product Marketing Director, HubSpot; New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author Gary Vaynerchuk; and digital media impresario, author and educator David Kidder, the innovative summit will bring attendees face to face with the digital change makers of today.

The Westchester Digital Summit will feature a panel discussion led by powerhouse media personalities Dari Alexander, Fox News Anchor and Author; Ed Butowsky, Managing Partner, Chapwood Investments; Jeff Pearlman, author and Sports Illustrated contributor; and Mike Edelhart, CEO, The Pivot Conference, SVP and Chief Digital Strategist Shripal Shah of The Washington Redskins where they will tackle how digital marketing is changing the face of traditional media.

Silverback Social is producing the summit in conjunction with Zanzarella Marketing Consultants. Embracing the drastic change in the way that we, as a culture, aggregate and disseminate information, Silverback CEO Chris Dessi was inspired to organize an event that could offer marketers the proper tools to engage with their clients like never before.

“Through my public speaking endeavors, I have been asked to share my techniques for efficiently engaging in social media at some of the biggest and most celebrated conferences in the country and I see first hand that they are all concentrated in cities. No opportunity exists in suburban areas like my hometown of Westchester,” Dessi explains. “I took it upon myself to create this opportunity for the many local business owners and entrepreneurs that truly stand to benefit from having this caliber of knowledge and insight right in their own backyard. This was the inspiration for the summit, and it will change the face of business in Westchester forever.”

The Westchester Digital Summit will begin at 10AM on Tuesday, May 14th, and will continue throughout the afternoon with panel discussion and keynote speakers.  General Admission Tickets are currently $215, with student admission beginning at $35 and sponsorship opportunities available.

The event will take place at the Westchester County Center, located at 198 Central Avenue in White Plains, NY.  Tickets can be purchased at westchesterdigitalsummit.eventbrite.com

Dave Donelson distill the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides and Handbooks, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, and management strategy.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Building Repeat Sales

Creative selling isn't just for new accounts. A good creative seller will base the renewal proposal on a fresh idea for the long-term customer as well. Since you know their business intimately now, your ideas for them should be real barn-burners.

Idea power works on renewals the same way it works on new prospects. It more firmly establishes you as a resourceful ally of the customer. It separates you from the competition. It moves you and your proposal farther up the decision-making chain. And there’s that key advantage of idea selling, which is its focus on value rather than price.

A typical contract renewal usually starts with you and/or your sales manager deciding how much more to ask the account to spend. That amount generally is determined by the budgeted revenue increase your company has imposed on your sales manager and has nothing to do with the customers or their needs.
So the two of you look at what the customer spent last year, what prices they paid for what inventory or services, and you put together a proposal for the same thing with an additional item or two plus some unit price increases. Sound familiar?

When you pitch this insightful piece of work to the customer, Mr. Big’s going to consider it with two things in mind:

1. “Since this is the same thing I bought last year, am I satisfied enough with it to buy it again?
2. And if I buy it again, can I get a lower price?”

Then he’ll pull out the proposal which your competition has given him and compare the prices. Since they’ve had a year to study what Mr. Big bought from you, they’ve undoubtedly offered their version of it at a lower price. Even if they haven’t, Mr. Big is going to tell you that they have.

Being the saint that he is, Mr. Big will also inform you that he wasn’t entirely happy with what you sold him last year and has to have a better price this year to justify buying the same thing again. And since you can’t prove either point otherwise, you have to negotiate the renewal on price.

But what if you had followed the Creative Selling System to set up your renewal pitch? You’d be presenting a new idea to Mr. Big rather than the same old thing. And since your idea is based on the intimate understanding of his needs you have gathered during the last year of servicing the account, it should be right on Mr. Big’s target. Can he compare your new proposal with the competition’s? They’ve come in with last year’s model while you’ve presented a completely redesigned, up-to-date, forward-looking alternative. Which looks better?

How about comparing the new proposal with the old contract? If he says he wasn’t satisfied with the old deal, he’s playing right into your hands. Once again, what you are offering isn’t the old deal—it’s something new. He can’t compare prices—it’s apples to kumquats.

Idea power is awesome.

Dave Donelson distills the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides and Handbooks, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, and management strategy.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Don't Lose The Customer On The Phone!

We like to think that things like the quality of our company’s products or service and the fairness of our pricing are the most important factors when it comes to building customer loyalty. To a certain extent, that’s certainly true. But there are several other things we do (or don’t do) in our operations that can sour the customer’s feelings toward us and, all too often, drive them into the welcoming arms of our competitors. Most of those things seem like such small items that we can’t imagine losing a customer over them. But customer relationships can’t be taken for granted because even the smallest molehill can turn into a mountain if we’re not careful.

There are several areas of business operations where mountains are likely to grow. One of the first places to look is your telephone, often one of the first points of entry to your business for your customers. When the customer calls, does it sound like you’re glad they did? Or does the way you answer the phone send the message that their call is an intrusion? If you answer the phone with a supposedly neutral statement like, “Dave’s Guitar Shop,” you’re making the customer work to justify their call to you. If you just add something a little friendlier such as, “Can I help you?” it makes the customer feel wanted. This applies when a real live human answers the phone, of course.

If your customer’s first telephone interaction with your shop is with an automated attendant, some different rules apply. Since most people detest dealing with machines, it’s essential that you make their experience as painless as possible. Here are some guidelines for setting up your automated telephone answering system:

  • Make the welcoming message cheerful and short.
  • Offer an immediate option—like “press zero”—to speak to a real person, then repeat it after the other options.
  • Keep the number of choices to a minimum. If your customer has to wait to hear, “Press twelve for the parts department,” you’ve lost them.
  • Label your choices by functions the unfamiliar new customer will recognize, like “parts,” “machine shop,” and “estimates,” instead of “Charlie,” or “Susie.”
  • Don’t make them press more than one number before they’re connected to a human.

If you absolutely must use a voice mail system, make sure it’s customer friendly, too. Everyone’s greeting should be pleasant and promise a return call as soon as possible. At the end of each message, repeat the option to “press zero” for an operator.

Whether you use a voice mail system or have someone who takes messages, make it an absolute rule that every customer message gets returned that same day—although within an hour is even better. Even if you have to call back to say you can’t talk to them now, make an effort to acknowledge the call.

The degree of customer-friendliness of your telephone system is easy to test. Just take a page from the manual of the retailers who employee “secret shoppers” and call your shop from outside to see what it sounds like. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and ask yourself if the person that greets you—recorded or live—sounds like he or she is smiling. Listen to the entire greeting and ask yourself if you feel welcome. If you have an automated attendant, press every option at least once to see what happens. If you end up in voice mail purgatory—where you don’t know if the message you’re leaving is for the right person—you know you’ve got a potential problem.

Dave Donelson distills the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides and Handbooks, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, and management strategy.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Is Your Shop Customer Friendly?

When was the last time you looked around your shop to see if there are any customer-aggravating items? How about signs that explain your policies to customers? Do they read like they were written by Joseph Stalin? It’s really not necessary to scold your customers when you tell them where to park, make them stay out of the service area, or keep their hands off your tools, although it may seem like you have to sometimes. “No Customers Allowed”  sounds pretty nasty, especially compared to a sign that gets across the same message by reading, “Employees Only, Please.”

You sound a lot more customer friendly (and professional), too, when you explain why you have the rules you have. Add “Insurance Rules” or “OSHA Regulations” to the “Employees Only, Please” sign and you’ve made your policies sound a lot less arbitrary.

When it comes to rules, it’s not a bad idea to review yours every once in a while. Look at things like your hours of operation, availability of merchandise, deposits, and return policies to see if they serve a real purpose beyond irritating your customers. Do you close so early in the day that customers don’t have a chance to pick up something they need after they leave work? If a customer has to take off work, it’s an additional cost to them of doing business with you. The same holds true for when you open—can they drop off an item for repair and still have time to get to their job? Saturday and Sunday hours are customer-friendly, too. And if you want to really do it right, offer to accommodate customers by appointment at other hours when you’re not normally open.

Most customer relationships are built on good communications, of course, which raises a couple of other questions:  Do you call the customer when their job is ready or make them call you to find out if it’s finished? If the work’s not going to be done when you promised, do you call to warn them? It takes a little time and effort on your part, but the customer who gets such a call generally recognizes the thoughtfulness. Besides, it demonstrates that you respect the value of their time and, by proxy, appreciate their business.

While I’m ranting, whatever happened to saying “thank you” to customers? From the almost total absence of that phrase in most businesses these days, you might think it had been put on something like the FCC’s list of forbidden words. Another phrase seems to have replaced it, the one you hear when the cashier at the grocery store hands you your change and receipt and says, “here you go.”  What the heck is that supposed to mean? Even worse, when the customer takes the change, their inclination is to say “thanks,” which sounds as if they are expressing their gratitude to the store! What’s wrong with this picture?

If you want to make your shop truly customer friendly, make it a practice to thank the customer every chance you get. “Thanks for calling,” “thanks for letting us work on your car,” even “thanks for coming in” are the right words to use when dealing with the person who keeps you in business.

These may seem like little, picayunish details when compared to major factors like how well the product works after the customer gets it home, and they are—individually. But when you add them up, which is what happens when the customer comes into your shop time after time, they grow. Add enough aggravations, and the next thing you know, you’ve built that proverbial mountain out of a molehill
.
Dave Donelson distills the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides and Handbooks, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, and management strategy.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

How To Lose A Customer - Method #3

You can’t please everybody. Some days, in fact, it seems like you can’t please anybody. The paint color is a shade lighter than the customer thought it was going to be. There is a squiggle in the upholstery seam that only the customer can feel. The shelf is higher on one side than it is on the other—you can’t see it, but the customer can. How do you handle impossible, irrational complaints? (No, a slap upside the head is not a viable solution.)

The first step in handling a complaint—rational or otherwise—is to hear the customer out. Listening is the most important skill in customer relations, so remember the first rule: you can’t listen if you are talking! Let the customer talk first. Don’t pounce on what they say by trying to give them an answer before they’re finished. A remarkable number of complaining customers just want someone to listen to their problems, so learn to offer that particular small service automatically.

Is the customer always right? No, but they should never be told flat out that they’re wrong, either. Soften it a little by using phrases like

  • “I can see why you feel that way…”
  • “Let me look at that again…”
  • “I understand what you’re saying…”

Then make an adjustment if you can, or explain—politely and respectfully—why you can’t. It’s tough to generalize because complaints can vary from the frivolous to the catastrophic, but the key factor in the customer relationship is the way you communicate with them about it.

You may have to shave your profit on a job to make the customer happy, but it doesn’t really happen all that often. There are people who try to get something for nothing, but if we start by assuming that the customer is trying to take advantage of us, we’re never going to resolve the problem to either their satisfaction or ours. In fact, the damage to our relationships with good customers far exceeds any loss we’ll experience by giving in to the unfair demands of the single crooked complainer.

Dave Donelson distills the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides and Handbooks, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, and management strategy.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

How To Lose A Customer - Method #2

When you are in a service business, not every job goes as planned. That’s why, depending on the kind of work you do, you give your customers an “estimate” instead of a firm price before you begin. If you’re smart, that estimate is in writing, and if you’re even smarter, you ask the customer to sign it before you touch their job. Even then, though, misunderstandings occur and customer relationships can become strained. No one likes to get a bill for more than he expected.

It happens all the time: a manufacturer raises the price of a key component after you’ve figured the old price into the job; you remove a panel only to discover a crack in the supports underneath, one thing leads to another and before the job is done the man-hours you originally estimated turn into man-years. You can’t just absorb these unexpected costs, nor should you. But you can’t just pass them on to the customer either, at least not without his prior approval.

Your future relationship with your customer depends in part on the way you tell him his bill is going to be higher than he thought. Your goal should be to convince the customer that you’re not trying to pull a fast one. Express regret that you have to deliver some bad news, then give them the details—and the more details you include in your explanation, the higher your credibility will be. You don’t have to be defensive or apologetic, but let him know you share his pain. If you’re open, honest, and above all timely, you’ll keep that customer.

Dave Donelson distills the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides and Handbooks, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, and management strategy.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

How To Lose A Customer - Method #1

One of the easiest things to accomplish in any business is to lose a customer. Good ones are hard to find, but they’re easy to lose. A certain amount of customer turnover is to  be expected; people move out of town, suffer pocketbook problems, even experience lifestyle-altering events like getting married and having kids that change their buying habits. On top of that natural attrition, though, is the kind we create ourselves. It’s the result of the things we say, do, think, and ignore that drive our customers away.

Losing customers is never intentional, but you wouldn’t know that from the way some business owners and their employees treat the people who pay the bills. They inadvertently insult them, frustrate them, embarrass them, and confuse them in numerous ways that make the customer hesitate before coming back to the shop for more. Some of the problems come from poor attitudes, others from simple misguidance. Often, we think we’re doing the right thing when it’s actually the worst possible thing we can do from a customer relations standpoint.

Here is one of the most common ways we treat our customers that are almost guaranteed to drive them away:

You’re the expert. Let’s say you are in the automotive restyling business. You’ve spent years learning the tricks of your trade, the special skills that let you tweak a convertible top until it’s watertight or lay down a pinstripe with the precision of a NASA engineering draftsman. That’s probably why your customer brought his ride to you in the first place; if he could do it himself, he wouldn’t need you. But that doesn’t mean you have to rub his face in it.

Let’s face it, tricked-out wheels are all about ego. My car is cool and it makes me cool. It’s a reflection of my self-image, my style, my place in the world. If I ask a question, please don’t make me feel stupid when you answer it. You may be able to prove you’re smarter than me, but it won’t improve our relationship. If I have an idea or suggestion on what I want done to my car, please don’t ridicule it. Even if what I want you to do violates all the laws of physics, you don’t need to belittle me when you tell me it can’t be done.

It’s all about respect for the customer, an attitude that’s reflected in the words you choose and even the body language you use when dealing with them. Here are some phrases that you might use to raise the customer’s self-esteem:

  • “I can see how you might think that…”
  • “Good question!”
  • “That’s an interesting idea, but…”

Above all, no matter how hard it is, resist laughing, snorting, or shaking your head in disbelief when the customer asks a question or makes a suggestion.

Dave Donelson distills the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides and Handbooks, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, and management strategy.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Golf's Grand Slam In The Moonlight -- Free!

Bobby Jones did it, Tiger Woods almost did it, but if the moon were full during the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, and PGA Championship, could a werewolf win the elusive Grand Slam of golf?

Find out for FREE during this special promotion to celebrate the opening of the golf season in our neck of the woods. Right now you can download a FREE copy of Grand Slam for your Kindle or Kindle app from Amazon.com.

The story is my purely tongue-in-cheek look at the most coveted record in the game. My lupine protagonist stalks the fairways at Augusta National, Shinnecock, Carnoustie, and Winged Foot, not to mention TPC Sawgrass, The Olympic Club, and Whistling Straits, leaving behind a trail of bloody victims and sparking the ire of a golf-obsessed newspaper reporter who vows to stop him.

In case you haven't guessed, this is not your usual golf book! Download it today -- this special promotion ends Wednesday.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Dealing With Difficult Customers

We’ve all had them:  the customer who refuses to be satisfied. Sometimes they whine like nine-year-olds; other times they rant and rave about our merchandise, our service, or even our parentage. One way to deal with them involves a baseball bat but, attractive as that solution may be, it’s not really viable. Your goal when dealing with a difficult customer is to solve today’s problem in a way that lays the ground work for tomorrow’s order. Smacking them in the head interferes with that process. The better way is to apply some of the simpler principles of sales psychology and see if you can’t turn that steaming monster into a happy, satisfied repeat customer.

The root of most customer problems is stress, usually stemming from what they perceive as an obstacle you’ve placed in their way. They may feel you’re not giving them what they thought they were supposed to get from you, or that what you are providing doesn’t satisfy their needs. Regardless, the first step in reducing the stress level is to find out what’s really bothering them.

That’s much easier said than done. All too often, our first reaction to a complaint is to get defensive. The customer makes a less-than-pleasant comment about the design of a product we’ve slaved over for hours and it’s like somebody peeked into the bassinet and told us our first child was an ugly baby. How dare they!? We have to keep our primary goal in mind:  to make more sales. It’s very satisfying to create beautiful designs, but the only award that counts is the one that ends up in your bank account and that prize comes from a very opinionated judge, your customer. So, if the customer likes it, it’s good. If they don’t, change it! And do it cheerfully, because if you’re snarling under your breath, you’re telling that customer that you think they’re wrong. No one likes to be treated with condescension.

Sometimes, we immediately jump to the conclusion that they’re trying to get something for nothing or to bad-mouth us into cutting our price. There are people like that out there, but there are a lot fewer of them than we think. If we start from a defensive posture, we’re bound to make the problem worse instead of better. Orlando-based organizational management consultant Dr. Arnie Witchel advocates what he calls “negotiation jujitsu” when faced with a difficult customer. “In jujitsu,” he says, “you go with the force to disarm your opponent, not against it. If a difficult customer is pushing hard on you, do not push back!

Reframe any attacks on you or your company with questions that seek to clarify the situation and concerns. Don’t resort to hostility!”  He points out that you have to separate the person from the problem and focus on their interests and goals, not on the problem itself. If you do that, if you approach the situation with an eye on removing obstacles that block what the customer wants to achieve, you’re more likely to arrive at a collaborative, mutually-satisfactory conclusion.

Dave Donelson distills the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides and Handbooks, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, and management strategy.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Power Breakfast for Current and Would-be Entrepreneurs

I'll be moderating this event for entrepreneurs and those who aspire to own their own business.

914Inc Power Breakfast

Register today!

Dave Donelson distill the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides and Handbooks, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, and management strategy.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Practical Approaches To Difficult Customers

Here are some ways to improve communication with difficult customers:

  • Be receptive. Tell the customer you want to hear what they have to say, then give them a chance to say it.
  • Put on their shoes and walk around in them for awhile. If you were faced with their frustration, how would you feel? And, just as importantly, what would you expect to be done to correct it?
  • Use descriptive, non-judgmental words. Instead of saying “that’s wrong” try “that’s one way to look at it.”
  • Set limits on the problem by excluding things that happened in the past or aren’t relevant to the current situation.
  • Break the problem up into smaller pieces and try to reach an agreement on each one.
  • Emphasize the things you have in common. “We both want the recipient of your gift to be happy,” for example.

Listening is the most important skill a sales person can possess in every situation, from trying to get an appointment with a new prospect to making a presentation to your biggest client. It’s essential when dealing with a difficult customer, so remember the first rule of listening:  you can’t listen if you’re talking! Let the customer talk. Don’t pounce on the things they are saying by trying to give them an answer before they’re finished saying them. In fact, watch out that you don’t just pretend to listen when you’re actually phrasing your answer while they’re talking. A remarkable number of difficult customers just want someone to listen to their problems, so learn to offer that small service automatically.

Dave Donelson distills the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides and Handbooks, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, and management strategy.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Message To Our Legislators About Library Aid

Democratic Conference Leader Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins
spreads the message about more state library aid
Here's our message for NY State legislators this year, courtesy of the Westchester Library System.

Governor Cuomo's proposed budget includes $89.9 million for Library Aid. We request restoration of Library Aid to $102 million--a level equal to that of 2007. Additional funding would help us keep up with increasing demand for library services at all levels.  Here's how Westchester's 38 public libraries stack up from 2007 to 2011 (latest available):

2007 Visits - 7,187,139
2011 Visits - 7,594,963  +5.7%

2007 Expenditures - $63,399,054
2011 Expenditures - $68,078,286  +7.4%

NYS Library Aid helps fund broadband access for 730 public use computers throughout Westchester County, allowing 1,259,931 library patrons to access the Internet.

WLS provides workforce development through numerous programs, including WEBS Career Counseling, online learning programs for GED preparation, ESL classes, and business resources.

Westchester's libraries are an important part of the education system. 34 of our libraries offer early literacy programs and the Summer Reading Games drew 14,917 participants who read 166,941 books.

In 2011, 26,119 NO-Admission-Charge library-sponsored programs saved 537,415 attendees over $4.8 million. 16,082 of these programs were specifically for teens and children.

NYS Library Aid is an integral part of the funding stream for our libraries. Please help us continue to provide these and dozens of other services that empower our communities by voting to increase it to levels commensurate with its importance.

Dave Donelson distill the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides and Handbooks, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, and management strategy.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Free Sales Training

Learn the secrets of making a sale on the first call....absolutely FREE!

One of the great myths of selling is that you must make a series of calls on a prospect to determine their needs before you can make a proposal. This is generally time-wasting nonsense based on a misunderstanding of consultive selling. Why wait? You’ll speed up the prospect’s decision-making process if you present an actionable proposal on the very first call. Here's how to do it.

For a limited time, this ebook in the Dynamic Manager Handbook series is available at no cost to Kindle owners or anyone with a device that can use the Kindle app. It's my way of saying thanks to all the readers of the Dynamic Manager series and an introduction to aggressive, progressive sales people who haven't tried it yet.

Dave Donelson distill the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides and Handbooks, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, and management strategy.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Most Powerful Words In Customer Relations

“I’m sorry” may be the two most powerful words in customer relations. They’re certainly applicable if you or your company messed up an order or have something else for which to apologize, but they also show empathy for the customer’s feelings regardless of who is to blame. Those two simple words go a long way toward removing the “me against you” attitude that pours gasoline on a smoldering customer’s fire.

If you really want to “wow” the customer, accept responsibility for the solution, even if you don’t deserve it for the problem. Fear that their problem is going to get short-shrift causes more customer stress than any other single factor. It’s no wonder, when we live in a society where way too many “customer hotlines” are answered by call-center operators on the other side of the world whose standard answer to a complaint is to file it. Anticipation that this is going to happen turns slightly unhappy customers into absolutely furious customers, so one of the most effective ways you can defuse an explosive situation is to immediately promise your personal attention to working something out. When the customer finds a real, live human being who says they will personally take care of the problem, they’ll feel a tremendous sense of relief. And, when you actually do solve the problem, they’ll become customers for life.

Speaking of stress, it helps to relieve yours if you remember that not every single difficult customer can be satisfied. Sometimes their frustration stems from circumstances beyond your control, the solution is something you can’t deliver, and they just can’t or won’t accept those facts. Or maybe he or she really is that one-in-a-thousand customer whose goal in life is to get the better of you in every deal. If that’s the case, just tell them “sorry” and let them go.  You’ll probably lose a customer but you’ll gain a little peace and quiet.

Dave Donelson distills the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides and Handbooks, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, and management strategy.