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Most Read Posts

Book Review: Succeed On Your Own Terms

  • Thursday, July 3, 2014
  • by
  • Unknown
  • What three things do the world's most successful people share in common? They have their own definition of success, they know the personality qualities that drive them, and they've seized their defining moments.

    That's the idea in a book that examines the personality traits of successful people across the globe. The book's authors say the lessons learned can help people succeed in their careers and in life.

    Written by Herb Greenberg and Patrick Sweeney--who have advised more than 25,000 companies in the areas of hiring, employee development, team building and organizational development--Succeed On Your Own Terms: Lessons From Top Achievers Around the World on Developing Your Unique Potential offers readers practical tips and advice.

    The book provides an in-depth look at more than four dozen talented individuals who have made their marks in business, politics, sports, the arts and global affairs. It also offers readers the chance to complete a free, in-depth personality profile (worth over $200) to help focus their energies on specific fields or goals. According to the book, successful people know that:

    • Real success comes from recognizing, understanding, developing and concentrating on one's strengths. According to Paul Schulte, the youngest U.S. Olympic wheelchair basketball player at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, that means "focussing on what you have, rather than what you don't have."
    • Being self-aware means not letting the outside world define you and knowing what motivates you. For instance, Rebecca Stephens, the first British woman to climb Mount Everest, says, "Success is the achievement of whatever it is that you set out to do. And it's up to you to decide what that is. It can't be determined by anyone else."
    • Being willing to risk means being all right with the possibilities. Senator Barbara Boxer says she doesn't always succeed if that only means accomplishing what she wants. "I can feel successful just moving my agenda forward," she explains.
    • When you love what you do, people can sense it in your presence.

    Reading the book's success stories will help people gain a new perspective--one that can be useful when striving for success in their own lives.
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    Book Review: Net Entrepreneurs Only

  • Wednesday, June 11, 2014
  • by
  • Unknown
  • Everyone loves to read other peoples success stories. It provides us with evidence that amazing things do happen to normal people. By learning what they did to succeed we come one step closer to success ourselves. Such is the case with the ten stories told in Net Entrepreneurs Only: 10 Entrepreneurs Tell the Stories of Their Success by Gregory K. Ericksen and Ernst & Young.

    Ericksen interviewed ten of the most successful entrepreneurs at the turn of the century and presents their stories with a unique but effective use of lengthy quotes from the entrepreneurs. The quotes leave you with a feeling of having actually interviewed the entrepreneur yourself rather than reading a story about them. Each story is about 20 pages long but reads more like 10 pages because of the big print and free flowing pace.

    The 10 entrepreneurs chronicled in the book are Jay S. Walker (priceline.com), Mike McNulty and Mike Hagan (VerticalNet), Christina Jones (pcOrder), William Porter and Christos Cotsakos (E*Trade), Gregory K. Jones (uBid), Russell Horowitz (Go2Net), Ken Pasterna (Knight/Trimark), William Schrader (PSINet), Pierre Omidyar (eBay), and Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner (broadcast.com).

    Each entrepreneur has a unique story of how and why they saw the internet as a viable place to start a business, and each had a different way of getting there, but after reading all ten stories you can see some common threads between these extremely successful net entrepreneurs. Although this book was written at a time when internet business success was substantially easier (the book was published in 2000), many of the core competencies that these entrepreneurs possess can be applied in any era to any industry.

    Each is extremely passionate about what they do to the point that they inspire others around them to have the same passion. Each is not afraid to take a risk, regardless of whether or not other people disagree with it. Along with that, each knows that failure is inevitable when taking risks and understands that future success depends on the ability to learn from failure and move on.

    Another interesting thing that was mentioned in three of the ten stories is the fear of being blindsided by an opponent that they can't see coming. They all talk about the proverbial kid in his basement or garage that comes up with the technology that puts them out of business. When talking about Mark Cuban, Todd Wagner said:

    "I know Mark worries, among other things, about the proverbial 12-year-old in the garage [coming up with technological breakthroughs] and us being blindsided."

    This commonality is particularly interesting, and I suspect it comes from the fact that many of these entrepreneurs WERE THAT KID and they fear the second coming of themselves more than anything else. They probably fear that this "kid" will have the same passion and determination that they once had, and that, more than anything else scares them.

    If I had read this book when it was written I would certainly have recommended it to any young entrepreneur. However, years later I recommend it EVEN MORE. I think that it's a must read for anyone looking to go into business or currently in business.

    The thing that you can do now that you couldn't do when the book was written is find out what's happened to these entrepreneurs and their companies in the time that has passed since the book's publication. One of the biggest joys of reading this book was trying to guess whether or not these companies still existed and whether or not the same entrepreneur was still running them.

    Knowing that there was the dot-com boom and subsequent crash around that time, I figured there was less than a 50/50 chance that these businesses were still around. I'm not going to ruin the individual surprises, but there was a fairly vast array of directions that these companies and entrepreneurs went after the dot-com crash.

    Some of the entrepreneurs we've all heard of (Mark Cuban), and some of the companies we know still exist and are very successful (eBay), but many the average reader won't be familiar with. Doing the research to find out where they are today adds an extra dimension to the book that a reader wouldn't have experienced if they read it when it came out.

    Net Entrepreneurs Only: 10 Entrepreneurs Tell the Stories of Their Success by Gregory K. Ericksen and Ernst & Young is an extremely interesting for anyone who enjoys a good success story. However, it's truly inspiring if you are that entrepreneur who strives come up with the next innovating breakthrough that puts one of these ten entrepreneurs out of business.
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    6 Ways To Fund Your New Business

  • Friday, May 16, 2014
  • by
  • Unknown
  • I'm often asked: what is the best way to finance a new business venture. This question is usually followed by "So, do you ever invest in new business ventures?"

    The answers, respectively, are: 1. there is no "best" way to fund a new business; and 2. I do invest in new business ventures, but darn it I can't today because I left my checkbook in my other suit.

    The truth is there are a variety of ways to finance a new business and which way is best for you depends totally on your product, your market, your financial requirements, your burn rate, and most importantly, your personal and financial situation.

    So with that in mind, here are a few of the most common ways to finance a new business without hitting old Tim up for a loan. Keep in mind that all methods have pros and cons and some (or most) may not work for your specific situation. No matter what financing method you choose thoroughly investigate the ups and downs and don't jump in with both feet until you're sure you'll land on solid ground.

    1. Savings and Investments

    The first source you should consider tapping is your own savings and investments. I'm a huge fan of self-financing when it comes to business because it doesn't make you responsible to others should the business fail. The bad thing is that it if things do go under, it will be your money that goes down with the ship. If you're not willing to risk your own capital you certainly shouldn't be willing to risk anyone else’s.

    2. Friends and Family

    After tapping their own savings and investments, many entrepreneurs turn to friends and family for help. This works well for some, but here's the creed I live by: NEVER borrow money from anyone you have to eat Thanksgiving dinner with. Nothing causes tension in a family like lending money that is never paid back. And notice I say "lending money" rather than investing money. Venture capitalists invest money. Your relatives lend you money. They will expect it back someday even if they say they won't. Remember, when a loved one invests in your business they are emotionally investing in you. It would be tough to tell mom and dad that their favorite son lost their life savings because his business went down the drain.

    3. Credit Cards

    I financed my first business on credit cards, which was an incredibly stupid thing to do given the fact that my business could have failed and left me with thousands of dollars in credit card debt that would have taken until the year 2099 to pay off. It worked out in the end for me, but if you decide to finance your business on plastic keep in mind that you will be paying extremely high interest rates on the money you've borrowed and unless you hit it big you will be paying for that money for many years to come.

    4. Mortgage The Farm

    Bank loans are next to impossible to get if you don't have collateral and a track record of business success, which is why many entrepreneurs use the equity in their homes to finance their business after being turned down for a bank loan. While this makes more sense than building a business on a deck of credit cards, the financial risks are no less abundant. You must pay this money back whether your business succeeds or not, but it is a good source of low interest money to get you started and the interest may be tax deductible (check with your accountant to make sure).

    5. Angel Investors

    An angel investor is typically a wealthy individual who invests in start up ventures for a share of the ownership. Angel investors are usually the first formal investors in a business and provide the seed money to get the business up and running. Some angel investors will write you a check and leave you alone to run your business while others consider their investment a license to "help you" manage and make decisions. If you do accept angel money make sure the terms are clearly defined on both sides. Angel money always comes with strings. Make sure you know whether those strings come in the form of a bow or a noose before you accept an angel's check.

    6. Venture Capitalists

    Venture capitalists are to angel investors as pit bulls are to Chihuahuas. That's not to say all VC are big, bad dogs, but they do have powerful jaws that can chew up your business and spit it out if things don't go their way. VC money doesn't come with strings, it comes with chains and locks and lots of legal documents. VC always have the upper hand in any deal they invest in. That's just how it works and that's the price you pay to get access to VC money.

    If your business gets to the level that VC money becomes a viable option, don't jump at the first bone a VC dangles before your eyes. If one VC likes your idea, others will, too. Present to multiple VC and carefully consider each offer before you accept the check.

    Just remember, no matter how you finance your business, use the money wisely. Don't buy $1,500 flatscreens and $1,000 Hermann Miller chairs.

    Have a very clear plan of how the money will be used and how it will be paid back.

    And remember this, the more you can shoestring the business, but more of the business you will own in the end.

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    7 Cold Calling Secrets Even The Sales Gurus Don't Know

  • Thursday, May 15, 2014
  • by
  • Michael G. Isinger
  • Cold calling the old way is a painful struggle.

    But you can make it a productive and positive experience by changing your mindset and cold calling the new way.

    To show you what I mean, here are 7 cold calling ideas that even the sales gurus don't know.

    1. Change Your Mental Objective Before You Make the Call
    If you're like most people who make cold calls, you're hoping to make a sale -- or at least an appointment -- before you even pick up the phone.

    The problem is, the people you call somehow always pick up on your mindset immediately.

    They sense that you're focused on your goals and interests, rather than on finding out what they might need or want.

    This short-circuits the whole process of communication and trust-building.
    Here's the benefit of changing your mental objective before you make the call: it takes away the frenzy of working yourself up mentally to pick up the phone.
    All the feelings of rejection and fear come from us getting wrapped up in our expectations and hoping for an outcome when it's premature to even be thinking about an outcome.

    So try this. Practice shifting your mental focus to thinking, "When I make this call, I'm going to build a conversation so that a level of trust can emerge allowing us to exchange information back and forth so we can both determine if there's a fit or not."

    2. Understand the Mindset of the Person You're Calling
    Let's say you're at your office and you're working away.

    Your phone rings and someone says, "Hello, my name's Mark. I'm with Financial Solutions International. We offer a broad array of financial solutions. Do you have a few minutes?"

    What would go through your mind?

    Probably something like this: "Uh-oh, another salesperson. I'm about to be sold something. How fast can I get this person off the phone?"

    In other words, it's basically over at "Hello," and you end up rejected.

    The moment you use the old cold calling approach -- the traditional pitch about who you are and what you have to offer, which all the sales gurus have been teaching for years -- you trigger the negative "salesperson" stereotype in the mind of the person you've called, and that means immediate rejection.
    I call it "The Wall."

    The problem is with how you're selling, not what you're selling.
    This is an area that's been ignored in the world of selling.

    We've all been trained to try to push prospects into a "yes" response on the first call. But that creates sales pressure.

    But, if you learn to really understand and put yourself in the mindset of the person you call, you'll find it easier to avoid triggering The Wall.

    It's that fear of rejection that makes cold calling so frightening.

    Instead, start thinking about language that will engage people and not language that will trigger rejection.

    3. Identify a Core Problem That You Can Solve
    We've all learned that when we begin a conversation with a prospect, we should talk about ourselves, our product, and our solution. Then we sort of hope that the person connects with what we've just told them. Right?

    But when you offer your pitch or your solution without first involving your prospect by talking about a core problem that they might be having, you're talking about yourself, not them.

    And that's a problem.

    Prospects connect when they feel that you understand their issues before you start to talk about your solutions.

    When people feel understood, they don't put up The Wall. They remain open to talking with you.

    Here's an example based on my own experience. I offer "Unlock The Game" as a new approach in selling. When I call a vice president of sales, I would never start out with, "Hi, my name is Ari, I'm with Unlock The Game, and I offer the newest technique in selling, and I wonder if you have a few minutes to talk now."

    Instead, I wouldn't even pick up the phone without first identifying one or more problems that I know VPs often have with their sales teams. Problems that "Unlock The Game" can solve.

    For example, one common problem is when sales teams and salespeople spend time chasing prospects who have no intention of buying.

    So I would start by asking, "Are you grappling with issues around your sales team chasing prospects who lead them on without any intention of buying?"
    So, come up with two or three specific core problems that your product or service solves. (Avoid generic problem phrases like "cut costs" or "increase revenue." They're too vague.)

    4. Start With a Dialogue, Not a Presentation
    Let's return to the goal of a cold call, which is to create a two-way dialogue engaging prospects in a conversation.

    We're not trying to set the person up for a yes or no. That’s the old way of cold calling.

    This new cold calling approach is designed to engage people in a natural conversation. The kind you might have with a friend. This lets you both of you decide whether it's worth your time to pursue the conversation further.
    The key here is never to assume beforehand that your prospect should buy what you have to offer, even if they're a 100 percent fit with the profile of the "perfect customer."

    If you go into the call with that assumption, prospects will pick up on it and The Wall will go up, no matter how sincere you are.

    Avoid assuming anything about making a sale before you make a call.

    For one thing, you have no idea whether prospects can buy what you have because you know nothing about their priorities, their decisionmaking process, their budget, etc.

    If you assume that you're going to sell them something on that first call, you're setting yourself up for failure. That's the core problem with traditional old-style cold calling.

    Stay focused on opening a dialogue and determining if it makes sense to continue the conversation.

    5. Start With Your Core Problem Question
    Once you know what problems you solve, you also know exactly what to say when you make a call. It's simple. You begin with, "Hi, my name is Ari. Maybe you can help me out for a moment."

    How would you respond if someone said that to you?

    Probably, "Sure, how can I help you?" or "Sure, what do you need?" That's how most people would respond to a relaxed opening phrase like that. It's a natural reaction.

    The thing is, when you ask for help, you're also telling the truth because you don't have any idea whether you can help them or not.

    That's why this new approach is based on honesty and truthfulness. That's why you're in a very good place to begin with.

    When they reply, "Sure, how can I help you?," you don't respond by launching into a pitch about what you have to offer. Instead, you go right into talking about the core problem to find out whether it's a problem for the prospect.

    So you say, "I'm just giving you a call to see if you folks are grappling (and the key word here is "grappling") with any issues around your sales team chasing prospects who turn out to never have any intention of buying?"

    No pitch, no introduction, nothing about me. I just step directly into their world.
    The purpose of my question is to open the conversation and develop enough trust so they'll feel comfortable having a conversation.

    The old way of cold calling advises asking lots of questions to learn about the prospect's business and to "connect." The problem is that people see right through that. They know that you have an ulterior motive, and then you're right back up against The Wall.

    These ideas may be hard for you to apply to your own situation at first because trying to leverage calls based on what we know about our solution is so engrained in our thinking.

    If you stay with it, though, you can learn to step out of your own solution and convert it into a problem that you can articulate using your prospects' language.
    And that's the secret of building trust on calls. It's the missing link in the whole process of cold calling.

    6. Recognize and Diffuse Hidden Pressures
    Hidden sales pressures that makes The Wall go up can take a lot of forms.
    For example, "enthusiasm" can send the message that you're assuming that what you have is the right fit for the prospect. That can send pressure over the phone to your prospect.

    You must be able to engage people in a natural conversation. Think of it as calling a friend. Let your voice be natural, calm, relaxed, easy-going. If you show enthusiasm on your initial call, you'll probably trigger the hidden sales pressure that triggers your prospect to reject you.

    Another element of hidden pressure is trying to control the call and move it to a "next step".

    The moment you begin trying to direct your prospect into your "sales process", there is a very high likelihood that you can "turn off" your prospect's willingness to share with you the details of their situation.

    It's important to allow the conversation to evolve naturally and to have milestones or checkpoints throughout your call so you can assess if there is a fit between you and the person you are speaking with.

    7. Determine a Fit
    Now, suppose that you're on a call and it's going well, with good dialogue going back and forth. You're reaching a natural conclusion--and what happens?
    In the old way of cold calling, we panic. We feel we're going to lose the opportunity, so we try to close the sale or at least to book an appointment. But this puts pressure on the prospect, and you run the risk of The Wall going up again.

    Here's a step that most people miss when they cold call. As soon as they realize that prospects have a need for their solution, they start thinking, "Great, that means they're interested."

    What they don't ask is, "Is this need a top priority for you or your organization to solve, or is it something that's on the back burner for a while?"

    In other words, even if you both determine that there ia a problem you can solve, you have to ask whether solving it is a priority. Sometimes there's no budget, or it isn't the right time. It's important that you find this out, because months later you'll regret not knowing this earlier.

    Putting the Pieces Together

    Have you ever wondered where the "numbers game" concept came from?
    It came from someone making a call, getting rejected, and the boss saying, "Call someone else."

    But with the new way of cold calling, it's not about how many people you call. It's about what you say and how you come across.

    Do you remember the definition of insanity: continuing to do the same thing but expecting different results?

    If you go on using the same old cold calling methods, you'll go on experiencing the ever-increasing pain of selling.

    But if you adopt a new approach and learn how to remove pressure from your initial cold calls, you'll experience so much success and satisfaction that it'll really change the way you do business, bring you sales success beyond your imagination--and eliminate "rejection" from your vocabulary for good.


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    5 Crucial Home Business Tips to Realize Financial Freedom

  • Wednesday, May 14, 2014
  • by
  • Michael G. Isinger
  • Starting your home business is the easy part, but realizing your long-term goal of financial freedom takes much effort and dedication. There are many ways to operate a home business, but the tips below outline some solid principals you should follow to earn a steady income from home no matter what your home business.

    1. Set Goals for Success

    Setting goals will help you stay focused on what you want to accomplish within your home business. Start with long-term goals for where you would like to be financially five, ten, even fifteen years from now. Next, create short-term goals for daily, weekly, and monthly achievements. To attain financial freedom is a great long-term general goal, but it will take many small goals to reach this level. You'll need to set small goals to create a steady cash system. A home business will go nowhere without goals, so take this step before starting any other tasks.

    2. Create a Pleasant, Professional Home Office

    Evaluate your home business workspace. Do you work in a corner of your bedroom with a desk and computer? Is your office usually the kitchen table between meals? Do you try to work in the living area while the rest of your family enjoys conversation or entertainment? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you'll probably need to make some changes.

    Create an office space that is for work only. Even if it's in the corner of another room, block its view with office sectional walls or some type of barrier wall to give a sense of privacy. An office should be just an "office" and nothing else. When you arrive at your office, you're ready for work. When you leave the office space, the workday is over.

    3. Get Organized

    Once you have a defined work area for your home business, fill it with supplies and tools to make work easier and more efficient. Choose a desk and chair for comfort as well as back, neck, and arm support. Desks with shelves and cabinets can make organizing your office a cinch, especially if you have limited office space. Also, keep a daily to-do list, calendar, and schedule book to prioritize tasks.

    4. Stay on Schedule

    When you work at home, it's easy to get off schedule because of interruptions or the temptation to take time off for leisure activities. Keep in mind that every moment wasted today usually means more work the next day. Eventually, you'll be working around the clock and never seem to accomplish anything. For home business success, keep a steadfast work routine daily and set a work schedule you can stick with every day. Develop a mentality that every job is actually a pay-by-the-hour job. Every hour spent working will help you make money and gain financial freedom.

    5.  Separate Business from Personal Tasks

    Once you set a schedule, stick to it. Don't allow personal tasks to get in the way of work. These can be anything from cleaning the house to visits from friends or relatives to watching television. Take breaks from your computer, but try to avoid getting involved in personal tasks during your breaks. Many women confess to washing dishes, ironing clothes, vacuuming, and other personal tasks while on break from their home business. Personal tasks can cause your mind to be off-focus, and it will be difficult to return to a regular work routine afterward.

    Find other things to do during breaks that won't take your mind too far away from work. Take a 15-minute walk. Sit and read a self-help book related to your business. Or, take a quick snack break, with a healthy snack of course!

    Once you take these steps, you're ready to enjoy a steady cash system at home that works. You can earn money doing what you love most, and your home business can soar to heights never imagined if you stick with these basic principals. Get ready for a bumpy road, but also look for the financial freedom that awaits you just over the horizon!

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    4 Classic Cold Calling Mistakes

  • Tuesday, May 13, 2014
  • by
  • Michael G. Isinger
  • Have you noticed that the old "tried and true" cold calling techniques which were once successful have completely lost their effectiveness over the years? They just don't work anymore.

    But many salespeople are still use them because that's all they know. They're working from that old, ineffective cold calling mindset. And they're making the same mistakes over and over again.

    I'd like to talk about 4 classic cold calling mistakes from the old traditional approach that will put you on the wrong path if you're not careful.

    1. Deliver a strong, enthusiastic sales pitch
    People almost always feel "pushed" by sales enthusiasm, especially when it's coming from someone they don't know.

    You see, a strong sales pitch includes the unspoken assumption that your product or service is a great fit for the other person. But think about it. You've never spoken with them before, much less had a full conversation. You can't possibly know much about them at this point.

    So to them, you're just another salesperson who wants them to buy something. And so the walls go up.

    It's much better to modestly assume you know very little about your prospect. Invite them to share some of their concerns and difficulties with you. And allow them to guide the conversation, rather than your pre-ordained strategy or pitch.

    2. Your goal is to always make the sale
    When your target in cold calling is to always make the sale, prospects are aware of your agenda. And almost immediately, they're on the defensive. After all, you're primarily focused on yourself and the sale--not on them.

    In the old traditional mindset, you forge ahead with the hope of getting a sale. You're coaxing, persuading, and pushing things forward.

    But most cold calls break down the moment the other person feels this sales pressure.

    Why? Because they don't know you, and they don't trust you.

    So the sales momentum you're trying to create actually triggers a backlash of suspicion and resistance. They're trying to protect themselves from a potential "intruder" with what appears to them as a self-serving agenda.

    Instead, you can approach cold calling with a different goal. Your focus can be on discovering whether you're able to solve a problem for the other person.
    When you become a problem-solver, this feels vastly different to the person you're talking to. You're not triggering rejection. You’re calling with 100 percent of your thoughts and energy focused on their needs, rather than on making a sale.

    3. Focus on the end of the conversation--that's when sales are lost
    If you believe that you lose sales because you've made a mistake at the end of the process, you're looking in the wrong direction. Most mistakes are made at the beginning of a cold calling conversation.

    You see, it's at the beginning that you convey whether you’re honest and trustworthy. If you've started out your cold call with a high-pressured sales pitch, then you've probably lost the other person in just a few seconds.
    When you follow a sales script, strategy, or presentation, then you're not allowing a natural, trusting conversation to evolve. So the "problem" has been put into motion by your very first words. So the place to put all your focus is at the beginning of the cold call, not at the end.

    4. Overcome and counter all objections
    Most traditional sales programs spend a lot of time focusing on overcoming objections. But these tactics only put more sales pressure on your prospect, which triggers resistance. And you also fail to explore or understand the truth behind what's being said.

    When you hear, "We don't have the budget," or, "Call me in a few months," you can uncover the truth by replying, "That's not a problem."

    And then using gentle, dignified language, you can invite them to reveal the truth about their situation.

    So move away from the old sales mindset and try this new way of approaching your cold calling. You'll find yourself being more natural, and others will respond to you in a much more positive way.


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