Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Ball Pit

Image: graur razvan ionut /
My two daughters love to go to places like McDonald's and Chuck E. Cheese because they have a play area just for young children.

I love to take them there because I can sit down for a minute and breathe and let them burn off some excess energy before having to deal with baths and bedtime.

You don't see this too much now, but years ago, places like that would have a giant "ball pit" where kids could "swim" around and dive under the balls and have fun.

For those of us in the business (especially those of us in sales), the world is like that ball pit.

Think about it...

Let's say that all the balls in the pit represent your potential customer base, but only the red balls are the ones who will buy from you. Unfortunately, all of the balls (the red ones included) are covered in mud so you really can't see what color it is.

So what you have to do is reach into the ball pit (access your prospect list), pull out a ball (call that prospect), clean it off (qualify the prospect) and determine what color it is (ask for the sale).

Anyone in any sort of sales or service industry knows that it's all about the numbers. If you talk to enough people, eventually you will find the right ones who want to do business with you. The problem as we all know is  nobody has a stamp on their forehead or a neon sign around their neck saying "pick me... pick me."

Some months you'll reach into the ball pit and immediately find the 4 or 8 or 12 red balls you need to reach your goals.

Other months you'll go through 30 or 40 wrong ones to find the right ones.

But lets say that the ball pit has 3000 balls, but only 10 of them are red, but if you find all 10 red balls you earn $100,000 bonus. Anything less than 10 and you don't earn anything. But you know that it is 100% guaranteed that there really are 10 red balls among the 3000 mud covered unidentifiable balls in the pit.

How hard would you work to find those 10 red ones? How long would you stay at it until you found them? What if the 10 red one were the last 10 balls you pulled out? Would you stay at it through the other 2990 or would you give up after five or six hundred because you didn't see the results you wanted to see?

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends and followers and let us know your thoughts in the comments below...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

All Alone... Or Not

The following post from Roger Magalhaes has been republished with permission. Roger has been a business owner since 2006. He comes from a background of sales and installation in the window treatment industry, but his points are universal for any entrepreneur.

Image: graur razvan ionut /
With the beginning of every new year, business owners take time to analyze how their operations performed in the previous year and also make plans to increase sales and profits for the years to come.

Most business consultants and analysts agree that business owners should focus on the tasks that bring the most value to the company, such as sales and overseeing the operations. Even when the whole operation is a “one man show” there is still room for delegation.

This is an example of a plan we should NOT follow:
"I know of a professional painter that does superb work at the job site. He is a perfectionist and knows how to finish corners and baseboards seamlessly.

Unfortunately, he is not good with numbers or paperwork so he wastes a lot of time doing his books. He is also unsure about how to promote his business and wastes time and money in campaigns that do not bring enough revenue to his company."
Does this sound familiar to you?

A better plan for this owner would be to hire a sales person to close more sales, find a bookkeeper to do the books more accurately, and even hire a company to manage his marketing campaigns. Sometimes, business owners – especially the ones working alone – think they need to do all the work, which reduces the bottom line. It’s very rare for a single individual to be great at everything he/she does. Hiring the right professionals to do what they do best frees the owner to do what he/she does best, increasing the bottom line for the company.

Focusing In Our Industry

If you are great at sewing even the most complex window treatment, but lose sleep the night before the installation, you should consider hiring an installer for the job. Perhaps you are all about creating drawings and putting colors and fabric together. Why bother doing an “okay” job sewing it yourself? Why waste tedious hours trying to find the “perfect” fabric with your client when you are just the best at installing?

The point is: do what you do best and hire the ones that do their job best to form a winning team.

Roger Magalhaes
Roger Magalhaes is a certified Professional Installer by CHF Academy, Hunter Douglas, Somfy, and Norman Shutters. He is an active member of the WCAA, WAOA, and CHF Forum. Roger is the owner of Shades IN Place Inc. in Franklin, Massachusetts. Established in 2006, his company specializes in all types of window treatment installations, window treatment cleaning services, and sales of brand name custom window treatments. Roger is known throughout the industry for his award-winning installation techniques, attention to detail, window treatment custom design understanding, and superior customer service. He also attends international conferences and trade shows annually to keep himself current on new and improved products and techniques. For more information, contact or visit

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends and followers and let us know your thoughts in the comments below...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Who Are You?

Let's face it. The more people that know who you are and what you do, the more likely you are to create revenue, find clients, expand your business and become more profitable.

That being said. How are you letting people know who you are?

Are you using traditional advertising such as radio, tv, magazines, and billboards? Are you attending networking events at your local chamber or other professional groups? Are you using social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn?

I once heard someone say that the best place to promote yourself and your business is:

Wherever your customer is.

So if your ideal customer is watching TV, use TV to promote your business. If your ideal customer is on Facebook, connect with them on Facebook, but don't be "weird" while you're on there. People don't connect with corporations, they connect with people. And survey after survey proves that people don't like to be "sold" something. But if they understand the value of what you offer, then they are more likely to buy a product or service from someone they trust.

How do they start trusting you?

First off, they have to see a real person behind the company logo.

Melissa Galt, a business coach and owner of Prosper By Design, says that you should be "...congruent on every network (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc) and that you should use the same image and a similar bio everywhere because consistency leads to success."

If you take a look at my "web properties" you will see that I have taken her advice and I have the same headshot on almost all of my profile pages.

Don't get me wrong. I love my daughters and they look adorable, but it's simply not appropriate for me to use a picture of them on my LinkedIn profile page. And neither is a photo of "James Bond" (which probably has a copyright attache to it).

And lets face it, it someone reads this blog and wants to connect with me on Google+ or Twitter, how will they know they have found the correct James Holloway if I've got a different picture on every site? It would be a lot harder.

So let the world see your business by seeing who you are.

And remember, I'm pulling for you, even if nobody else is.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends and followers and let us know your thoughts in the comments below...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Are You A Rhinoceros or A Whine-oceros?

image courtesy of  Nite Owl Graphic Design Group

They say that the lion is the king of the jungle. Well, he may be the most majestic, but the rhino is the toughest beast you'll deal with.

Business owners are like the rhinoceros.

They have to be in order to succeed.

A business owner has to have "tough skin." You have to be able to withstand the attacks and jabs of those who try to put you down, or put down your business or ideas.

Just like the rhino, a business owner has to be fearless. Being in business requires a certain amount of risk. And starting a business from the ground up is Not For The Meek Or The Weak.

The rhinoceros is a target for illegal hunting and although business owners usually do not have to worry about being hunted down and shot, they have to be able to protect their ideas to prevent the competition from "poaching" their intellectual property.

Business owners must also step up to the challenges presented to them and "charge ahead" instead of wallowing in the mud whining about why it won't work, whose fault it was, and so on.

 So, are you a Rhinoceros or a "whine-oceros"?

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends and followers and let us know your thoughts in the comments below...

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Groundhog Day

Image: chrisroll /
As is customary this time of year here in the U.S. we take time out of our lives to pay homage to a giant rat in the hopes that the cold winter will be mild and pass us by thus ushering in an early spring season. We call it: Groundhog Day.

It just so happens that in 1993, Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell star in a film by the same name.

If you've seen the movie, you know that somehow Bill Murray's character is subjected to living the same day over, and over, and over, and over. And according to some, Harold Ramis (the director & writer) explains he relives "Groundhog Day" for more than 10 years - some estimates say 30 or 40 years.

If that is the case, is Ramis using the story of the plight of Phil Conners as a look into the life of most Americans?

Think about what most people do...
  • They have an alarm clock wake them up from a cozy bed. 
  • They eat breakfast (probably the same thing every day - or at least very few variations). 
  • They take a shower. 
  • They get dressed (probably the same outfit gets revisited every 4 or 5 days). 
  • They drive to work (probably leaving at approximately the same time every day and driving the same route every day). 
  • They perform the same tasks and duties while at work. 
  • They eat lunch (probably at the same place - or small assortment of places). 
  • They go back to work. 
  • They drive home (again taking the same route in all likelihood). 
  • They fix dinner (again with very little variation - hey it's Wednesday, that means it's meatloaf night). 
  • They watch some TV or read a book, catch the news and go to sleep.
And the next morning they start all over again.

And they do this for 40 years of their life hoping to one day be able to retire and live on 1/3 of the income that they can't survive on now.

I call this a "settle for" life. But you don't have to live this way forever. Just like Phil in the movie, you can learn to live each day to the fullest. Chase your passions. Start that business you've always wanted to start. Find something, anything, that can inspire you to do something you've never done before.

Take a different route to work. Leave 45 minutes earlier and meander down side streets, or leave 60 minutes later and wait for the traffic to thin out - although this is probably not for someone who has a traditional job, most managers don't like it when you slide in "whenever you feel like it" (boy am I glad I don't have a manager.)

But what ever you do... don't get stuck in a rut. Don't end up reliving the same set of events day in and day out for the rest of your life. You're better than that. You were meant for more than that.

I believe in you. And even if no one else is, I'll be pulling for you.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends and followers and let us know your thoughts in the comments below...