How To Craft A Winning Business Plan

An employee recently came up with an idea. He wanted the company to invest money to develop new functionality for the software solution we sell to our customers. The first question to him was, “How much money will it take?” He gave a ballpark number. So he was asked, “How did you get to that number? Do you have market research to show the need for this functionality and a rationale for the cost?” Of course, he didn’t, so it was suggested he work on a business plan.

There are many times a business plan is required, and it’s not just when you are looking to launch a new business. However, a majority of businesspeople don’t understand the key elements of a business plan and the role it serves.

Today we reveals the key elements for developing a business plan shared by author MaryEllen Tribby in her Huffington Post article, “The Eight Key Elements of a Successful Business Plan and How to Make Them Work for You.”

1. Executive Summary: Following the title page, the summary should tell the reader what you want and clearly state what you’re asking for. Length of the statement should be from a half page to full-page depending on how complicated the plan. Within that space, you’ll need to provide a synopsis of your entire business plan.

2. Market Analysis: This section should illustrate your knowledge about the particular industry your business is in and the market drivers that are affecting this industry. It’s the foundation for setting up your opportunity. A market analysis also outlines pricing, distribution and marketing strategies that will allow the company to become profitable within a competitive environment. Begin your market analysis by defining the market in terms of size, structure, growth prospects, trends and sales potential.

3. Company Description: This section should include a high-level look at how all of the different elements of your business fit together. The company description should include information about the nature of your business as well as the crucial factors that you believe will make your business a success.

4. Organization and Management: This section includes your company’s organizational structure and ownership of your company, and describes the roles, responsibilities and qualifications of your management team, as well as any advisory boards or board of directors.

5. Marketing and Sales Strategies: This section defines your strategies for building brand equity, market penetration and lead generation. It explains how you are going to fill the sales pipeline and move your prospects through that pipeline to secure the sale. Start with strategies, tactics and channels that you have used to create your greatest successes. Next, branch out to others that may be working for your competitors. Remember that this section will be continually updated based on your results.

6. Service and/or Product Line: In this section describe your service and product. What is it that you are actually selling? Make sure to emphasize the benefits or value to the market (not the features). Establish your unique selling proposition. This means you have to show not only how your product is different but also why it is better.

7. Funding Requirements: In this section state the amount of funding you will need to start or expand your business. Include best- and worst-case scenarios. Be realistic.

8. Financials: Develop the financials after you have analyzed the market and set clear objectives. You should include three to five years of historical data.

The biggest mistake that most businesses make is that they don’t revisit their original business plan. We all know that it’s a dynamic marketplace, with outside forces affecting businesses every day. Make it a discipline not only to make decisions based on business plans, but to also revisit your business plan and make adjustments on a regular basis.

Source: MaryEllen Tribby is founder and CEO of and

Seriously, Don’t Come to Work If You’re Sick

We’ve been off for a bit due to the busy nature of the holidays but today we are back with a vengeance and to talk about something very important to all of you out there.

Nobody wants you and your gross germs.

840x-1There’s nothing more selfish you can do than come to work sick. You may get a gold star for showing your sniffling face at the office and soldiering through the workday to prove your value—but everyone around you just gets sick. You’re an inconsiderate work hazard.

When people bring their infectious illness to work, it spreads—and when sick people don’t have a financial incentive to show up to work, fewer people get sick, according to a new working paper by the nonprofit National Bureau of Economic Research.

The researchers studied U.S. cities with paid sick-leave mandates and, using Google Flu Trends data at the city and state level from 2003 to 2015, looked for changes in flu rates after those mandates went into effect.

The cities that adopted paid sick-leave mandates in that time frame saw flu cases drop by about 5 percent after their laws took effect. For a city of 100,000 people, that comes out to 100 fewer infections per week, the researchers estimate.

“You see people who are at the workplace sneezing and potentially infectious. That’s how diseases spread,” said Nicolas R. Ziebarth, an assistant professor at Cornell University and one of the study’s researchers.

For most of us, staring at a computer through the fog of illness is torture, and does nothing to help us recover. Yet 3 million people, or 2 percent of the U.S. population, bring their ailments to work each week—a phenomenon the researchers dubbed “contagious presenteeism.”

Many do so because of financial pressures; nearly a third of workers have no access to paid sick leave, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The other two-thirds, who have the luxury of taking a sick day, need to stop making excuses for showing up at work sick.

Almost half of workers say they worry work will pile up if they stay home sick. People who find their jobs engaging also have a hard time staying home, finding work more fun than submitting to the reality of a sick day.

“Some people want to appear tough and signal that they are hard-working,” said Ziebarth.

But those diligent workers aren’t just showing their commitment, they’re also showering their coworkers with germs; the modern open office plan is a breeding ground for contagious illnesses. Worst of all, people tend to come to the office at the beginning of an illness, when they’re at their most contagious but still feeling well enough to get a little work done.

“You have over-the-counter drugs that suppress your symptoms, but they don’t suppress contagiousness,” Ziebarth pointed out.

And diligent workers who absolutely must meet a deadline or finish a life-or-death project should at least self-quarantine. Telecommuting has become an increasingly acceptable way to work, and 60 percent of employers let employees work from home, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s annual Employee Benefits Survey.

“It’s good to change the culture of how people see each other,” said Ziebarth. “You can signal hard work in a lot of different ways. It’s not the right way to go into the office and spread diseases.”

In fact, we all need to do our part to stigmatize coming to work sick. If a coworker comes in complaining of a tickle in his throat or clammy hands, say: “Go home! Nobody wants you and your gross germs.”

Original Article by

Rebecca Greenfield August 30, 2016, 9:47 AM EDT

Are You A Persuasive Presenter?

If you are in a management role, you’ve most likely given presentations at work. In fact, a 2014 survey by presentation software firm Prezi revealed that 70 percent of employed Americans who give presentations agree that presentation skills are critical to their success at work. However, 20 percent of respondents said they would do almost anything to avoid giving a presentation, including pretending to be sick or asking a colleague to give the presentation, even if it means losing respect in the workplace.

Sound familiar? One way to address the fear of presentations is to build confidence in giving presentations that are effective and memorable.

We’ve all heard the basics such as you shouldn’t have too much copy on a slide or that you shouldn’t read from a script. Here are just a few presentation tips from writer Dorie Clark that give you the power to persuade your audience—the ultimate goal of a presenter.

1. What’s the problem you’re solving? Clark says that too often presenters start off by directly providing a solution rather than first acknowledging the problem. If you don’t explain the context and why it matters upfront, you risk them tuning out early on because they’re not sure if your idea is relevant.

2. Why now? Next, you need to explain to your audience why now is the most relevant time to address this problem. You need to create a sense of urgency, a call to action and the cost of not taking action.

3. How has the idea been vetted? Next, according to Clark, you need to explain your credibility in addressing this problem and how you’ve vetted your recommendations. This means highlighting your experience and your competence in addressing this issue. As Clark says, “For instance, it’s worth mentioning that your team interviewed 100 leading researchers to identify the best practices you’re recommending, or that you ran three pilots to test the concept.”

4. Have you simplified the structure? Clark says that the next step is to simplify your idea. Present it in a way that is simple and clear to the audience. Perhaps present your idea in a series of steps or phases. This enables the audience to grasp a complex solution more readily, and inspires more confidence in the path you’re proposing.

5. Have you included a story? Make sure your idea is wrapped in a story, says Clark. Don’t just pepper your presentations with a bunch of factoids and statistics. Instead, build a narrative that helps others visualize what you’re talking about. Facts and stats can serve to emphasize points in the narrative, but make sure there is a story to which the audience can relate.

6. Have you included a call to action? Finally, Clark reminds us to always end with a call to action. Be clear about the key steps you want the audience to take and how they can make a difference.

When you know how to be a persuasive presenter, the idea of giving a presentation becomes a powerful tool instead of dreaded task.

Source: Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist and professional speaker who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. She is the author of Reinventing You and Stand Out. You can receive her free Stand Out Self-Assessment Workbook.

How To Choose The Right Organizational Structure

It’s the fourth quarter, and that means it’s time to finalize budgets for 2017. One of the budget considerations is determining what staffing will be required to carry out next year’s goals. This planning process has caused me to stop and consider: does my current organizational structure make sense?

Here we will look at three key organizational structures and considerations a small business should take into account when determining the right structure to achieve its business goals.

Business writer Kristie Lorette says that a small business can achieve both efficiency and effectiveness by implementing one of three primary organization structure options: functional, divisional or matrix.

Functional: A functional organization is one in which the hierarchy of the business is based on the job role of each employee. The structure features groups of employees who are focused on a common goal. For example, all accounting roles would be on an accounting team. Even if you only have two or three employees who fulfill the marketing role of your small business, you would structure it so one person is in charge, such as the vice president of marketing. His team would consist of a marketing manager and a public relations manager. This is a traditional organizational structure.

Divisional: The divisional organizational structures place specific roles within divisions or business units, products or regions—decentralizing specific functions. For example, you could divide the United States into four divisions: north, east, south and west, and each division would have its own specialists, such as a marketing director. Each division would then have its own employees.

Matrix: A matrixed organizational structure is a hybrid of functional and divisional organizational structures. The matrix organizational structure works more like a team. Instead of department heads, each team has a leader. Matrix organizational structures bring together employees who focus on a project, but fill different roles from across your business. The matrix organizational structure often works if your business serves different geographic regions.

If you have a small business, how do you take in elements of these organizational structures? It depends on your growth. For example, says Lorette, if your business starts out by only serving the local city where the business operates, but eventually serves the state, you might start with one structure and change to another one to better fit the needs of your business and its customers.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution, no right or wrong. Try elements of each of these structures to see what works best for your business.

Source: Kristie Lorette is a marketing copy and content expert who works with small business owners and entrepreneurs who struggle to market their business effectively to attract the right clients on a consistent basis. What separates her service from other marketing professionals is that she only works with small business owners and only specializes in creating marketing content and copy. Because of this, Lorette’s clients receive proven, effective and extremely specific step-by-step information on exactly what they need to do to attract clients with their marketing. As a result, those who work with her attract more clients and make more money than that would have on their own.
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How To Lead Innovation

There may be a time when you need to take the lead on innovation in your organization. The distinguishing aspect of leading a special-purpose team is that you’re not in control; you can only influence behavior. You’re tasked with figuring out how to do something new, so what you do in the formative stages will greatly impact the team’s chances of success?

1. Keep team size small, even for big projects. In Silicon Valley, the “pizza rule” has taken hold. If you can’t feed a team with two pizzas, your team is too big. Once a group gets beyond five to seven people, productivity and effectiveness begin to decline. Communication becomes cumbersome. Managing becomes a pain. Players begin to disengage, and introverts withdraw. When it comes to team size, less is more.

2. Pay attention to group chemistry and emotions. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon point to three factors that make a team highly functioning. 1) Members contributed equally to the team’s discussions, rather than letting one or two people dominate; 2) Members were better at reading complex emotional states; and 3) Teams with more women outperform teams with more men. The emotional component—how we feel when we are engaged with a team—truly matters but is all too often never discussed. Pay attention to how the people you’re inviting onto your team relate to others. Always give credit to your team rather than take credit yourself, and practice empathy at all times.

3. Don’t go overboard with diversity. Can too much diversity be a detriment to team chemistry? Researchers at Wharton think so. Too much diversity of “mental models” can be a drag on forward progress, say professors Klein and Lim. If members of a team have a shared, organized understanding and mental representation of knowledge about the nature of the challenge, it can enhance coordination and effectiveness when the task at hand is complex, unpredictable, urgent and novel. The researchers concluded that team members who share common models can save time because they share a common body of knowledge.

4. Establish a group process. A group without a process is like a ship without a rudder. It will have a harder time innovating. Establish team rules at the outset. Address how you’ll treat each other, how you’ll respect each other and articulate how much of time each member is committing to the team. Effective teams establish clear goals and rules at the outset, and hold each other accountable.

5. Pay attention to the 3R’s of innovation: Result, Reputation and Residuals. What motivates people over the long haul is not money, but intrinsic rewards. As the team leader, keep the three R’s in mind: 1) Result: If you hit your target, you’ll have another accomplishment on your track record; 2) Reputation: Your status in the organization rises. Senior management will be delighted. Colleagues will talk you up, praise your contribution, and invite you to join future projects. 3) Residuals: the lasting payout of participating in a successful collaborative team is that you get to see your “product” being used by customers, both internal and external. You know you’ve made a difference, solved a problem or created an opportunity for the organization, your team and most of all yourself.

Source: Robert B. Tucker is a renowned global futurist and innovation keynote speaker with a client list that includes more than 200 of the Fortune 500 companies. President and founder of The Innovation Resource, Tucker is an internationally recognized pioneer in the field of innovation.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

Milestones Matter. Celebrate Them.

Gone are the days when people worked for the same company their entire careers. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American worker stays in his or her job for 4.4 years. So when you encounter an employee who has worked for the same company for 20 years, as I recently did, you realize this is a dedicated and engaged employee—one who deserves to be celebrated.

The fact of the matter is, employees remember their hire date. It’s the career equivalent of a birthday (and who doesn’t love birthdays?) You know who else remembers employees’ hire dates? Great managers, that’s who. By treating each employee’s anniversary as an achievement and a special occasion, you create a positive work environment and encourage employee commitment (and thus increase your employee retention rate).

Make sure your company is following these four steps for celebrating employee anniversaries:

Step 1: Create a system for remembering anniversaries. First, you need to create a system for remembering anniversaries. Prepare a list or a spreadsheet of employees and keep track of their hire dates. Make sure to mark these dates to your calendar and create reminders long before the date so you have time to plan a celebration.

Step 2: Decide how and when you will celebrate. Establish a policy to designate when you will celebrate anniversaries, whether annually or on more momentous anniversaries such as five or 10 years. Take into consideration the size of your company and your budget when deciding how you will celebrate.

It is important to maintain consistency so you do not hurt anyone’s feelings by celebrating someone earlier or more frequently than another.

Step 3: Be sincere and make it personal. Acknowledge each employee’s anniversary every year, even if it is just with a small gesture (save the big celebrations for special anniversaries). Make it personal with a card, letter, phone call, personal visit or some other gesture. Don’t worry about making it formal. It just needs to be a genuine expression of appreciation.

A few sincere words from management will be noticed and appreciated by an employee and greatly improve their morale. Feeling appreciated is very important to job commitment and success.

Step 4: Think twice about giving monetary gifts. In employer-employee relationships, money is associated with compensation. The last thing you want to do is confuse employee recognition with compensation. When you are celebrating an anniversary, you are expressing appreciation for the employee’s service. Compensation is something that is earned.

You also don’t want it to seem like you are obligated to celebrate an employee’s anniversary. While easy to provide, gift cards that include a specific amount of money can be perceived as just another form of giving money. A classic choice is to select a relevant and personal gift that includes the corporate logo.

In the end, it’s important to make it part of your company’s culture to notice and recognize employees. It’s a great gesture to celebrate employee anniversaries, but it’s even better to also frequently celebrate employee successes, accomplishments and contributions as a part of your company culture.

Source: Integrity HR, an Inc. 5000 company and certified Female Business Enterprise, has been operating in Kentucky since 2007. The company provides results-focused human resources outsourcing services, executive and professional search services, behavioral and talent assessment tools, as well as additional HR solutions to reduce HR costs and create more successful, productive and high performance organizations.
Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

How A Sense Of Urgency Separates Winners From Losers

Sometimes, three little words—the saying, the adopting, the believing—can make all the difference in the world. I’m not talking about the classic “I love you,” or any variations thereof. Today we are sharing three important words that will boost your business: sense of urgency.

Those three words tend to define the difference between winning and losing. In a nutshell, winners have the sense of urgency; losers do not. When you’re analyzing your own performance or that of your salespeople, ask yourself, “Do they display a sense of urgency about their jobs – or not?”

One might think that tighter economic times would provoke a greater sense of urgency on the part of those whose responsibility it is to make things happen. Often, however, the result is the opposite, because urgency’s enemy—fear—sets in. Salespeople who would otherwise be highly motivated to make calls get nervous and apprehensive about “the economy,” and thus calls go unmade (“I’d rather call them when the news is better”). Of course, since “the economy” is simply the cumulative effect of individual decisions to do or not to do business, every such postponement actually makes the economy a little worse.

Lack of urgency will affect business growth in multiple ways. Here’s how:

The salesperson: I see a lack of urgency in many different parts of the sales process. As an example, recently an out-of-town company prospected me to purchase a fairly innovative marketing program. Coincidentally, a local company contacted me the very next day, offering a similar service. I know and like the owner of the local company, and I am a buy-local guy when it makes sense. So, I met with them and discussed some possibilities. I then waited for a proposal. And waited. And waited. Meanwhile, the out-of-town company was calling me to follow up. When I finally received a proposal from the local company (after not one but two calls asking if they wanted my business or not), it was less targeted to my needs than the one I’d received earlier from the out-of town company. Reasoning that if the local outfit didn’t have a sense of urgency about winning the business, they were unlikely to have one when it came to servicing the business, I went with the out-of-town company. I’m pleased with my decision but if the local company had followed up aggressively, they’d have won the deal.

The sales manager: The most common way for urgency to get lost at the sales management level is when changes are desired by ownership, but the sales manager is lackadaisical about pushing that message to the reps and making sure that the right things happen. The biggest way the sales manager can reflect a lack of urgency, however, is simply by not making certain that the reps are maximizing their 40 hours per week. I call these sales managers “coast and collect” managers, and they’re not a help to you or your company.

The business owner: Business owners can be the best and worst at having a sense of urgency. Sometimes, they’re the best such as constructing a new building or adding a product line. Sometimes, they can be the worst. One example that I see all the time is the business owner who waits for the perfect time to do work to develop his/her personnel. “Well, I’d like to get the next person hired” becomes “We’re kind of busy right now” becomes “We’re not very busy right now so we’re keeping an eye on cash” becomes “I just had two people leave.” This rhetoric becomes a never-ending cycle. Not coincidentally, the companies owned by these business owners seldom grow.

Having a sense of urgency means maximizing every lead, every call, every proposal and every hour. If you’re doing it, great! If not, remember those three little words.

Source: Troy Harrison is the author of Sell Like You Mean It! and president of SalesForce Solutions, a sales training, consulting and recruiting firm.

Do You Want A Staff Of Perfectionists?

Everything must have its place. Every meeting must be run in a specific way. Every project detail must be exact. You know who I’m talking about … the perfectionist who sits two cubes down from you. Or, perhaps you are the perfectionist.

Do you want perfectionists in the workplace? Some managers say “yes,” whereas others respond with a resounding “no.” The informed answer is, “it all depends.”

Perfectionists possess many traits that provide great value in the workplace.

  • Produce quality work: Perfectionists tend to produce high-quality work. They take pleasure in excellence and find satisfaction in a job well done.
  • Exceed expectations: If the boss expects a short summary, the perfectionist will submit a report. If achieving a 99 percent rating is admirable, the purist will aim for 99.9 percent and then 100. Being above average is not good enough; being the best is a self-imposed requirement.
  • Go the extra mile: Perfectionists often give more than asked. If a report needs to be five pages long, they will turn in six. If a product needs to have three new features, they will add a fourth and maybe a fifth. If they set a record last month, they will strive to better it this month. In sports, this results in shooting free throws while the rest of the team showers or taking 30 minutes of extra batting practice—every day.
  • Set high standards: Another trait is that perfectionists set high standards, both for themselves and others. As long as the standards are reasonably attainable, it is acceptable, and even admirable, for perfectionists to set a bar high—for themselves. (However, foisting faultlessness on others does little more than establish the groundwork for future frustration, disappointment and conflict between the precision-minded and the rest of the world.)

Of course, there are counterparts to these traits. One is procrastination. It is said that perfectionists subconsciously reason that the results of their work will never be just right, no matter how much time is invested, so why start? In fact, the project is often delayed until the last possible moment, so there is a plausible excuse as to why it’s not perfect: “I didn’t have much time to work on it!” Taking this to an extreme, some perfectionists miss deadlines and blow past due dates, often agonizing over some trivial or irrelevant detail.

Another side effect associated with perfectionism is a problem in making quick decisions. Sometimes, they need to “sleep on it” to be assured of the correctness of their judgment. Other times decisions can be agonizingly difficult for them to reach. They fear coming to the wrong conclusion; that is, a less than perfect one. They delay a decision while awaiting more information so they can conduct an informed analysis. Unfortunately, this mental paralysis is seldom cured by amassing more data.

So if you work with a perfectionist, be assured this individual will deliver an outstanding product, even thought it might be a day late!

Source: Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Sign up to receive his newsletter, read his blog or connect on social media.

Giving Back To Your Community

As I put this article together, I’m sitting in my office with at least 100 pairs of kids’ tennis shoes stacked around me. Why? I’m spearheading my company’s participation in Shoes That Fit, an organization that matches groups with schools that have kids in need of shoes. My company’s mantra is “community first, company second”— a bold statement for a company that works hard to satisfy shareholders every day.

Why Give? There are many reasons why it is wise and appropriate for a business to give back to its community. It expands networking opportunities, increases corporate standing and generates goodwill. From an employee standpoint, it builds team camaraderie as staffers serve together and pursue common non-work related goals, increases employer esteem and provides a connection outside the workplace. These, then, have an indirect effect of improving employee job satisfaction and thereby decreasing turnover. And, as employees see a different side to their employer, respect can increase and better understanding can be nurtured. With all these benefits, what company wouldn’t want to promote and pursue a philanthropic effort?

What to Give? There are two primary forms of assistance that can be provided: money and manpower. Most organizations are more in need of volunteer labor than they are of monetary donations.

Let’s start with the manpower aspect. You can provide opportunities for your staff to volunteer. Generally, these opportunities should occur outside regular working hours. Some businesses have a provision to take time off without pay; a few even offer paid time off when volunteering. These, however, are rare, costly to the company and generally not needed. Setting up a simple means to allow employees to know about and pursue volunteer opportunities takes little time and incurs little cost to the company.

If making a financial contribution is feasible, one consideration is setting up a matching fund. This is when companies budget monies to match the donations of their employees. The employee makes the donation, submits the receipt and the company makes a matching contribution. This, too, is quite easy to set up. Payroll deductions for charities are also an option.

Where to Give? Needs exist all around your community. Consider after school programs, food pantries, clothes closets, homeless shelters and soup kitchens. Call your nearest school and ask how you can help. Opportunities might include “adopt-a-classroom,” reading programs, tutoring, providing back-to-school supplies or helping with GED classes.

How to Give? It is important to remember that no matter how great the need or how rewarding the work, only a percentage of employees will take part. Also, their degree of involvement will vary greatly. Just make sure no one feels obligated to get involved, and remind them that volunteering is, in fact, voluntary. After all, you don’t want to serve with someone who is negative or resentful; the goal is to have fun and find fulfillment as you volunteer. Leave the naysayers at the office.

When to Give? Now! Not next month, not next year; now.

Source: Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night.

Do You Ask The Right Questions?

If most managers have the best of intentions when supporting their salespeople, then why do they keep asking them questions that result in lost sales? Managers tend to believe that in order to achieve sales goals and attain quota, they need to keep focusing on the results. Think about the questions you ask during a conversation. Do your questions focus on how your people do things or focus more on what’s been done or getting done?

Today we focus on questions that emphasize one thing—outcomes—then we will share questions about changing the outcome.

Here’s an example of the type of questions that are continually being asked by managers who have a results-driven mindset. These questions focus on one thing and one thing only: the outcome.

What are you working on that’s currently in your pipeline?

How many meetings did you schedule this week?

You’re putting everything we need into the CRM, right?

Is your sales forecast accurate?

Did you get in touch with the decision makers, as well as influencers in the company?

How many calls did you make today?

You qualified the prospect to ensure there’s a fit, this is a priority for them and they had budget, right?

If we’re going to put a pilot in place, did you confirm that we are their vender of choice?

Did you demonstrate a solid value proposition that’s aligned with the customer’s needs?

Are these questions important? They most certainly are! However, these questions enable managers to facilitate only half of the conversation you need to have with your salespeople. While these questions certainly focus on results, they are also, for the most part, all closed-ended questions providing no additional insight into the situations, facts, behavior or what was discussed.

Change Your Questions—Change The Outcome
Here are some examples of open-ended questions that are truly open ended, allowing for conversation with the salesperson on what can still be changed.

How have you handled that situation before?

What have you tried so far? How did you do that?

What is your expectation of exceptional customer service?

How does the customer define value and ROI?

How did you respond when the customer pushed back on pricing?

What steps can you take to resolve that?

Walk me through the last conversation you had with that customer.

What questions did you ask to qualify this opportunity?

What are the titles and names of all the people involved in this decision?

What did they tell you their decision-making criteria was?

What are the top concerns the prospect shared with you that could get in the way of earning their business?

How did you confirm that your value proposition was perfectly aligned with their objectives and needs?

While these questions challenge people to assess and improve how they do things, they do so in a positive way, rather than in a confrontational way. These questions demonstrate that you actually have an interest in them. It shows that you’re not only focused on the results but on them, as well.

When you become someone who is more process-driven, notice what happens to the quality of the questions you ask. Now, you have the power to positively impact the outcome of every conversation.

Source: Keith Rosen is the CEO of Profit Builders and award-winning author of Coaching Salespeople Into Sales Champions, one of the top books on coaching.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson