The #1 Risk to Your Business – And What You Can Do About It

What is the biggest risk to your company’s short and long-term viability? Is it sales and keeping the pipeline full? How about attracting and retaining key employees? Could it be your competition coming out with a better, less expensive alternative?

While these are legitimate threats, they are all at least somewhat controllable. A very realistic, and for most companies, a completely un-monitored threat is the financial health of suppliers and customers.

In the “age of information” it’s actually surprising how little there is about the financial viability of those with whom we do business. I sat down with Lori Frank, CEO of Argos Risk to discuss how to monitor the financial health of companies.

What’s the financial status of your biggest customer?
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What would happen to your company if a key vendor suddenly went bankrupt?  Would you be able to maintain your own customer relationships if you couldn’t ship a product for days, weeks, or even months? What would happen to your business if one or two of your key customers stopped paying, or even stopped paying on time? Could you maintain your cash flow? Could you pay your employees? How about payroll taxes?

Typical credit check companies can tell you if a company paid its bills three months ago. What you really need to know is, will a company pay its bills three months from now?argosfree

Argos Risk, is a predictive financial health tool that leverages big data to provide insight into a company’s financial health. Using more than 250 data points — from a company’s credit history to customer reviews; from current lawsuits to any executives who may be looking for a new job — Argos Risk puts you in control when it comes to monitoring your key business relationships.

Argos Risk is incredibly simple to set up, and the dashboard is very intuitive and user-friendly. Using a familiar red, yellow, green model, you can instantly see if a financial situation has changed with one of your relationships, and you can click-through and drill down to learn what happened and why. When a company you’re monitoring sees a significant change, Argos Risk will email you, so you can ask the right questions and act quickly.

As a fan of Know More! you can monitor up to three businesses for FREE. Just Click Here to learn more about Argos Risk and sign up for your three free reports. An Argos Risk representative will call you to get you started.

Take control of knowing the financial health of your key business relationships. Now that you Know More!

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Prospecting for High Profits – Q/A with the Sales Hunter

High Profit Prospecting BookMy good friend and sales expert Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter” has just come out with a great book, High-Profit Prospecting. As the title suggests, it’s focused 100% on finding high-quality leads that you can convert to highly profitable customers.

I just finished reading Mark’s book and there is only one word to describe it: AWESOME!

What I love most is how Mark eliminates all the B.S. excuses sales people use for not successfully filling their pipeline. Mark puts accountability back into the sales prospecting process and more important, he provides actionable ideas that make hitting one’s sales goals realistic. He also dispels many of the myths that so called “experts” keep spouting off about sales, for example, that tele-sales is dead or that social media is some magic sales bullet. Mark walks through in detail how to take ideas we thought no longer worked and turn them into strategies that will and do work.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  For a short time, Mark also has some amazing offers/bonus items available when you buy his book for you or your team. In fact, I told him he’s a bit crazy for giving all of this stuff away, but that’s Mark. Seriously. He is amazingly committed to helping his fans and readers reach sales levels most probably never thought possible. Just click this link to take advantage of Mark’s offers.

Following is a brief Q and A with Mark where he shares some of the key concepts from the book:

Can we say cold calling is dead?
You can say “cold” calling is dead, but certainly not “calling.” In fact, calling is still one of the most effective prospecting methods. The problem is too many people don’t know how to prospect with the phone. The Internet gives us the ability to know more than we’ve ever known about whomever we want to reach [SAM EDITORIAL: “this is music to my ears!”]. In today’s world, there is little reason to ever have to make a “cold” call. This is why I say what works is “informed calling.” You simply have to understand the steps to do it right.

In this era of social media, does prospecting even work?
Far too many salespeople have allowed themselves to believe prospecting by way of actually “calling people” doesn’t work anymore, and the solution is social media. To me, that’s a mistake! Yes, social media plays a key role in prospecting, but it’s just one of the prospecting sales tools available. The answer to prospecting effectively is being able to use social media not merely as a tool to post content, but as a tool to have one-to-one conversations. [SAM EDITORIAL: Here’s the math that supports Mark’s answer.]

How do you want people to read and use your book?
Great question! I want people to more than just read the book. My goal is they read it and, at the same time, assess how they currently prospect and what they need to change. The book is full of review questions, lists, scripts, talking points and more! The reader can use these to craft a specific prospecting plan on which they can build long-lasting success.

What is the biggest mistake people make when prospecting?
Wow, that’s a loaded question, as unfortunately there are numerous things most people get wrong. What stands out the most is failing to have a plan and following through with it. Too many people make a bunch of calls one day and think that’s all they have to do. Prospecting requires a plan that equips the lead or prospect to see that your goal is to help them achieve something they didn’t think was possible. Succeeding at this requires numerous touches with multiple messages over a specific period of time. This requires a strategy few people are willing to develop and execute.

Who owns the prospecting process? Sales or Marketing?
I get asked this question a lot, and I firmly believe Sales must own the prospecting process. This does not excuse the role Marketing plays; it just means Sales must be the owner. Sales needs to own the process, because they’re the ones who turn prospects into customers.  When Marketing is allowed to own the prospecting process, it becomes too easy for Sales to blame Marketing.

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What Does Facebook Know About Your Private Life

Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook team make their billions of dollars by advertising down to the micro-level — down to an audience of one — you. Everything you do on Facebook, and even while you’re not on Facebook, is tracked, analyzed, and fed into big-data machines.

Every Facebook user has a defined persona. What you do, what you care about, where you go, what you eat, who you like, and more is tracked, analyzed, and used to determine what types of content and messages you’re likely to enjoy, and respond to. Like never before, with this data, advertisers can laser-target their messages. So if you’re an advertiser wanting to reach people in Minneapolis who like football, dogs, occasionally drink red wine, and who often travel, then Facebook is your vehicle.

(If you’d like to see a list of these people, try my new Facebook Search Engine, www.yougotsocial.com – using the engine, login to your Facebook account and then CLICK HERE to see the result of the above search.)

It’s all a bit scary and certainly big-brother-ish.

What if Facebook’s understanding of me is spot on? What gives them the right to know all that information, other than I guess I gave up all of my privacy rights when I created my Facebook account?

What if the persona that Facebook assigns to me is wrong? Could the information about me in Facebook’s database be used against me someday? Could I lose out on an opportunity? Could I get on some sort of government or private company list that ultimately makes my life more difficult, for example, I am more scrutinized at airports?

So what does Facebook know about me? What does Facebook know about you?

Facebook PersonaThe good news is, the situation isn’t as ominous as it might appear. In fact, you can see your Facebook persona by first logging into your Facebook account, and then using the Ad Preference Tools.

Open the Ad Preference Tools and you’ll see a navigation menu about half way down the screen. Click on the links to see your persona, as it relates to a specific category. Make sure to click the MORE link on the right of the navigation bar to open the drop-down menu, where you can select additional categories including Food and Drink, Fashion, and more.

Some of what Facebook thinks it knows about me is eerily accurate. Yes, I do have an iPhone 6, an iPad 4, my laptop operating system is Windows 10, and my primary browser is Chrome. Obviously it’s pretty easy for Facebook to figure those out.

Facebook also got it right that I enjoy studying personal finance, e-commerce, search technologies and professional keynote speaking; that I think public libraries are awesome; that I enjoy improvisational comedy; that I’m a big fan of Jill Konrath’s and Sean Stephenson’s work; that I like eating kebob’s; that I enjoy Dale Carnegie books and Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich; and my fantasy superpower is time travel.

What is annoying is that my Facebook persona — or who Facebook thinks I am and shares that information with advertisers — includes some wildly inaccurate data. For example, I am not a Socialist (furthest thing from it); I enjoy post-punk rock (are Journey, John Meyer, and Yanni considered punk, and is it okay that I publicly just admitted that I listen to Yanni?); I watch the TV series Derek (never heard of it); and that my favorite airline is Sun Country (nice airline that I occasionally fly, but just in the last few years I have flown more than 1.5 million miles on Delta).

So how does Facebook gather this information. Ad Preference Tools makes it pretty easy to find that out too. Just hover your mouse over any of the content squares and Facebook shows you what you did to add that content to your persona. And, because even Mark Zuckerberg and his team understands that “big data” still has a long way to go, Facebook allows you to modify your persona. To do so, hover your mouse over an Ad Preference Tools content box and in the upper-right corner of the box, click the “X” to remove the selected information from your persona profile.

In addition, you can click the “Edit Profile” link on the upper-right of the Ad Preference Tools page, and modify the Facebook profile that you created when you opened your Facebook account. The demographic data (e.g., age, where you live, where you work, etc.) that you provided Facebook when you opened your account, and that you may have added to over time, is still the number one factor Facebook uses to craft your persona and use with its advertisers.

So now you know how to access and change your Facebook persona, and even take control over some of the content and ads you see within Facebook, now that you Know More.

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Six HOT Tips for Attracting More Customers

Laurie Guest helps companies all over the globe creatively attract new customers. Her keynote presentation — I Want to See the Jalepeño Coming! A Hot Recipe to Attract New Customers — is filled with great ideas on finding new prospects and closing more deals, without having to spend a lot of money.

laurie-guest-scaleI sat down with Laurie for a recent interview and in 30 minutes, she shared ideas that you can immediately implement to help you grow your business. Following are the six key points Laurie discussed:

LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW on The Richter Scale Podcast

1) Most business and sales people know their product and solution. But the one thing they often don’t know is how their customers buy. The three keys in attracting buyers are 1) know; 2) choose; and 3) commit.

2)  KNOW – your customers cannot buy what they don’t know. You have to get on your customers radar. List all of the different ways that a customer could get to know you. There are the obvious ways including marketing, social media, etc. But dig deeper. What events do your customers attend? Make sure you’re there. Are there non-profits your dream customer is involved in helping? Find out, and if it’s a good fit for you, start volunteering.

3) Knowing doesn’t mean that you have to spend huge amounts of money on advertising. It could be something simple like getting creative with your networking. As Laurie says, “Stop networking and start tunneling.” When you have a networking event coming up, do your homework ahead of time. Get a list of the attendees or the past year attendees. Study who will be there that you want to meet. Is your “dream customer” going to be there? How about a current client who you haven’t spoken with in some time? Research the individual via LinkedIn and YouGotTheNews. Find out what you have in common and come prepared to discuss something that the other person will find relevant to their world and of value.

4) CHOOSE – you must understand the degree of pain, or urgency, of your buyer. No one is going to choose you just because they like you.They have to have a pain — what is going on in their world that isn’t going so well that you can help them do better? Do your homework and ask great questions so you understand what is truly important to your customer and what they would like to do better. When it comes time for you to talk, focus on what you do that can help the other person achieve their company goals a little more efficiently, a little more profitably, with a little higher quality than they might be able to do on their own.

5) COMMIT –  it sounds simple, but you must ask for the sale. It’s crazy how often salespeople forget to ask if the prospect is ready to buy, and to finalize next steps. But you have to ask for the commitment carefully, in a way that doesn’t seem pushy. For example, after you’ve shared your story with the prospect, say something like: “Have I answered all of your questions for the day? Great… in our process, the next step is…” And then continue with what you’re going to do next. Maybe it’s sending over a proposal for review. Maybe it’s a contract that they need to complete. Maybe it’s setting up the next meeting to finalize the details. Don’t leave the meeting or the sales call with out a next-step commitment.

6) Practice the 3 Rs: 1) reorder; 2) revisit and; 3) refer.

  • Appreciate the business beyond the thank you card. To get more reorders, ask the person how often they want to be communicated with and would it be helpful if you put him/her on an automatic reorder system.
  • Revisit the opportunity on a regular basis. Did something change? Do they have any new challenges where you can help? Your customers’ businesses and lives are constantly changing – are you providing value that helps navigate that change?
  • If someone does business with you, do business with them. That’s the easy, and obvious, referral that so many companies and individuals forget. Help your customers find business by making referrals to them. When you make a referral, send a note to your customer letting him or her know about the referral so your customer can be prepared. In the note, say something like “this is a really and important customer of mine that I’m referring, just like you are, so please take care of…” This is a great way of letting your customer know that he or she is always top-of-mind, and you’re doing it in a way that doesn’t look like you’re keeping score or taking credit.

Again, take a listen to the full Richter Scale interview with Laurie and you too will gain some creative ways to attract new customers, now that you Know More.

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Find Exactly Who You Want on Facebook

With approximately 1.5 billion people around the globe having an account, Facebook is obviously an exceptional Sales and Relationship Intelligence resource. In addition, because users post so much information on their accounts, Facebook should theoretically be an incredible list-creation tool (e.g., find all people at 3M who like football and live in Minneapolis).

Unfortunately, finding the right people on Facebook can sometimes be an exercise in extreme frustration. Facebook’s own search engine isn’t very good, and there are no advanced search features built into its interface.

The good news is there are third-party Facebook search engines, one of my favorites being www.yougotsocial.com.

Okay…for full transparency, this is a search engine I developed leveraging the expertise from online information expert Michael Bazzell. The reason I built YouGotSocial.com — and why I use it often — is it allows me to quickly find the information I need without having to figure out Facebook’s ever-changing and all too often, inaccurate, search functions.

To use YouGotSocial…

YouGotFacebook.com Results

  1. Login to your Facebook account. Note that logging in just allows YouGotSocial to access the Facebook database. The engine is not accessing your account nor does it track your searches.

  2. Go to www.yougotsocial.com. Using the pull-down menu, choose a criteria and then enter a term that meets the criteria, e.g., ‘”Past Employer” / Shandwick’ means that the person used to work at Shandwick.

  3. Click the AND button to add new criteria, e.g., ‘”Liked” / football’ are people on Facebook who are football fans.

  4. Click and Add as many criteria as you want to narrow or expand your results. NOTE: when adding criteria, try different options. For example, in a location search, try ‘Minneapolis’ and then try ‘Minnesota.’

  5. When you are done adding criteria, click the ‘Search’ button and in a new browser window, view the results.

  6. CLICK HERE to see the results for the above scenario (make sure you’re logged into your Facebook account first). You’ll see that the results include all people who live in Minnesota, who are football fans, and who used to work at Shandwick (I am listed in these results).

  7. To start a new search, refresh your browser window.

Note that the results do not represent all Facebook users who meet the criteria. Rather, they represent people who have included the criteria somewhere on their personal Facebook page, and, who have made that information available for public viewing. For example, a person may be a football fan, but if he/she does not mention it on his/her Facebook page, that person will not appear in the search results. Or a person may have worked at Shandwick and include that information on his/her Facebook page, but in the person’s Facebook settings, it may be marked as “Private.”

However, play around a bit and you’ll quickly see the power (and fun) of being able to mine Facebook to find the right people, matching the right criteria that you care about.

With YouGotSocial, it’s easy to search Facebook, now that you Know More.

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