Autoresponders: Ease Your Life

Autoresponders: Ease Your Life

by: Pavel Lenshin

What every small business operator always lacks is time. Sometimes lack of time leads to inefficiency, what in its turn, leads to business failure even if you have plenty of financial resources.

That is why there are so many programs designed to automate every business step starting from sign up process and ending with processing online payments.

Autoresponders play a special part. At the dawn of their usage they greatly assist in solving the most timeconsuming business task that is customer support. Nowadays there are other ways of how autoresponder can help with your everyday routine tasks. Below are the most common tasks where autoresponder fully reveal its potential:

Customer support;

Singup/unsubscription procedures;

Timely delivered emails;

Electronic materials on request;

Response tracking.

The usage of autoresponder as a customer support is based on the topic your customer interests in. Whether it is problems with program installation, billing or general question, it will reply with prewritten answers the same moment email was received from customer.

In very basic way autoresponder can simply notify customer/visitor that his/her inquiry was received and will be answered within 24 hours.

Subscription/unsubscription is also usually required instant notification. The majority of existed mailing scripts have an automatic notification feature, still in its basis it is the same old autoresponder.

Ezine or newsletter subscription is not the only process where autoresponder can give you a hand. They help in many cases with all sorts of email notifications of successful sale, accepted inquiry, thanking for completing the survey and many other cases.

Next way of autoresponder usage proved to earn huge income to many online entrepreneurs. Timely delivered follow up emails that are based on autoresponder are widely recognized as a musthave marketing strategy. The theory behind claims that biggest customer response is gained at 8th contact only. That is why business owners setup a follow up autoresponder sequence that, when signup for, starts emailing prewritten messages on specified time basis daily, every other day, weekly, biweekly etc, generating the biggest possible response rate on complete autopilot, without any need of owner interference.

Email courses are small variation of previous strategy. They were designed to educate interested people, work the same way as product followups do, still serving as a perfect marketing tool for generating subscribers, customers without any hassle.

Publications on request play another important role. It may be articles, reports, brochures, schemes, ebooks, audio, video files, any electronic media may be emailed in the body of the email message or as an attachment to every person immediately on their request and to an email box they considered to be the fastest to download from, presumably, ISPกs.

As strange as it may seem, autoresponder may be used for tracking response rate as well. For instance, by putting slightly different autoresponder email addresses on different webpages you can easily count how many requests came from each page, testing which webpage generates the biggest interest.

To track ezine advertisement response you will also have to setup a different autoresponders for each ezine you plan to run your advert in. At the end you will see how many people each ezine has sent you and generated the biggest income.

Dominating majority of webhosting plans, offered today on the Internet market, come with simple, usually unlimited, email autoresponders. That means they can help in 4 main cases that we have discussed above, except for timely delivered emails. That is because they imply onetime reply email, so you can setup (1) customer support emails, (2) subscription notifications to both your subscriber and yourself, (4) publications on request, (5) response tracking, but (3) timely delivered emails like email followups or courses.

In order to offer automatic, say, weekly, email courses you will have to look for:

custom autoresponder internet application (script);

3rd party autoresponder providers.

The rule of thumb is to know your needs and resources. First choice is preferable if you know what FTP and CGI mean or have someone with basic knowledge of how scripts are setup, want to install it once and forever, have time and money to make onetime investment. You can even try to find free script that in some cases may be even quicker to setup than sign up for some 3rd party service.

Autoresponder service, provided by independent Internet company, is easier for new comers as all technical stuff will be hidden, leaving simple webinterface to manage your autoresponders. For such convenience Internet companies will charge you on monthly or yearly basis, although there are free socalled adware autoresponders available.

In general you can find discounted allinone services, hosting offers or mailing lists coming with followup autoreponders and allowing you to save money.

About The Author

Pavel Lenshin is a devoted Internet entrepreneur, founder of, where you can find everything to make your business prosper. Discounted Internet services,

FREE ebooks

FREE reports

This article was posted on November 04, 2003

by Pavel Lenshin

Microsoft Great Plains Implementation: Verticals

Microsoft Great Plains Implementation: Verticals Wholesale Order Entry center – overview for consultant

by: Andrew Karasev

Microsoft Business Solutions Great Plains has substantial market share and strong support by Microsoft on the US market. Currently we see the trend in the vertical markets when companies with custombuilt accounting application, usually written on legacy platform are switching to standard and proven ERP solution and customize or tailor it to fit their vertical market requirements. We’ll be publishing series of vertical articles: Logistics, Distribution Centers, Warehouse Management, Barcoding, Shipping/Receiving, eCommerce, EDI, Wholesale. Today we’ll give you Wholesale tailoring scenario

Sales Order Processing improvements to work with large number of wholesale order takers:

Sales Order Processing stand alone Great Plains Dexterity application, which works with Microsoft Great Plains SQL databases to feed in orders. This application, written as from scratch Dexterity application doesn’t requires hundreds of Great Plains user licenses and will work with SOP tables with improved functionality

Online Sales History by Customer. If you are order taker and this is wholesale business – each customer has certain level of negotiated price, which it is comfortable to pay. Also this customer is ordering known set of products from you. It is nice to have list of historical items he ordered in the past several months and their negotiated prices

Recommend Items to your customer. You can easily design items to recommend logic, when you link your new items or related items with the items your customer is usually ordered. This is how Amazon book sale works!

Sales People Competition. In addition to the above online sales tools you can have average profitability of the item per period and by sales person (assuming negotiation scenarios). Here you can have logic implemented allowing certain level of negotiation room and variable commission, related to strong negotiation and sales skills

Considering Microsoft Great Plains – majority of the logic above is implemented and could be implemented in Great Plains Dexterity. Alternative platform would be Microsoft C# or VB.Net ASPX web programming with Microsoft Great Plains at the back end. You can use such tools as eConnect to work with Great Plains object creation and retrieving or go ahead with direct SQL Stored Procedure. To certain level you could use legacy technologies, such as Great Plains Modifier with Continuum for VB, VBA scripting, etc.

Good luck and you can always seek our help in customization, implementation, integration and support. Call us: 18665280577 or 16309615918,

About The Author

Andrew Karasev is Chief Technology Officer in Alba Spectrum Technologies – USA nationwide Great Plains, Microsoft CRM customization company, serving Chicago, California, Arizona, Texas, Florida, Georgia, New York, Australia, UK, Canada, Continental Europe, Russia and having locations in multiple states and internationally ( ), he is Dexterity, SQL, C#.Net, Crystal Reports and Microsoft CRM SDK

This article was posted on April 25

by Andrew Karasev

Improving Customer Relationships: Beyond the Buzz

Improving Customer Relationships: Beyond the Buzz

by: Hank Brigman

Customers are always a hot topic. But lately the discussions on customer relationships, including retention, satisfaction, and loyalty, have intensified. What is the basis for these discussions, and more importantly, what are leading organizations actually doing to improve customer relationships?

Savvy organizations have begun to realize that customer relationships are not the domain of an individual, team, or department. If the accuracy of invoices, or the professionalism of installers or the cleanliness of your store or office is lacking, then the relationship can suffer no matter how well the salesperson or ขownerข of the relationship performs. Savvy organizations know that they can best enhance relationships with customers by improving customer interactions – or ขtouchpointsข – across the entire enterprise.

Touchpoints are all of the communication, human and physical interactions your customers experience during their relationship lifecycle with your organization. Whether an ad, Web site, sales person, store or office, touchpoints are important because customers form their perceptions of your organization and brand based on their cumulative touchpoint experiences.

To help improve customer relationships, there is an innovative new movement called Customer Touchpoint Management, or CTM. CTM reflects an organization’s concerted efforts to improve customer relationships through the management or optimization of customer touchpoints. Touchpoint optimization can include filling identified gaps with new touchpoints, modifying under performing touchpoints, or eliminating redundant touchpoints. This process can include optimizing individual touchpoints, or groups of related touchpoints, such as those that make up a process.

However, it is not easy to get your hands around the myriad ways in which your organization ขtouchesข its customers. To understand and improve your touchpoints, the process of ขTouchpoint Mapping(TM)ข can be used to inventory and map your organization’s touchpoints along the seven stages of the Customer Relationship Lifecycle, and then identify your customer’s needs in each stage. This process delivers insights into your current touchpoint performance, and helps with identifying how your performance can be improved. An important component of CTM efforts to improve the consistency of touchpoint performance is to establish touchpoint standards, and manage to these standards.

Improving your customer relationships can deliver tangible results to your organization. For example, as a result of consistently superior touchpoint experiences with her local Lexus dealer, the marketing executive of a $5 billion dollar division of a Fortune 10 conglomerate became motivated to improve the customercentricity of her own organization. She recognized the impact of consistently positive touchpoints on her brand perception of Lexus, her purchase decision, and her resultant advocacy of the automaker. By applying Touchpoint Mapping, Touchpoint Metrics recently helped this executive’s organization dramatically improve touchpoint performance across the organization. Both ขvoice of customerข customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction scores have increased, and these indications of enhanced customercentricity are expected to translate into added sales and profitability.

Avis implemented a CTM initiative to understand and improve key customer touchpoints. As result, Avis gained market share in key travel markets and became a leader in customer loyalty and satisfaction as measured by Brand Keys and JD Powers.

Both of these companies, along with other forward thinking organizations, are applying the concepts of Customer Touchpoint Management to improve customer relationships, touchpoint by touchpoint. The benefits are powerful, creating happier customers and employees, and improving the financial metrics that create happier owners.

By Hank Brigman

President/CEO, Touchpoint Metrics

About The Author

Hank Brigman is President/CEO of Touchpoint Metrics, the research consultancy that pioneered Touchpoint Mapping(TM), and author of the upcoming book ขTouchpoint Power!.ข For more information and to download the white paper, ขTouchpoint Mapping: Improve Customer Experiences and Relationships Through Touchpoint Optimization,ข visit

This article was posted on March 29

by Hank Brigman

Home Business Itกs for Free?

Home Business Itกs for Free?

by: Gert Ljungqvist

Most people realize that when you start a business offline it will cost money. But, when it comes to online business most people don’t want to pay anything to get started. The bottom line is you can’t start any business with out some costs. The difference between online and offline business are that online business can be done with a tight budget.
When you first start your online business there are some tools you must have. You must have an autoresponder, now you might wonder what is a autoresponder? This is a form of email where you store prewritten follow up sales letter, newsletter or articles depending of what your business are. These messages are sent out to your customer at time you decide.
There are free autoresponders and there are autoresponders that will charge you a monthly fee. The free autoresponder have less features. And some of the autoresponder will put ads in your follow up letters, and that is not an good idea for you. You don’t want others to promote there products or services in your letters where you are promoting your own product or service. Therefore a paid autoresponder is much better, there will only be your own promoting in it.
You have to build an optin list with customer, itกs here the autoresponder show its greatness. To get interested customer to your list you have to place an ad and from that ad you will have your customer to visit your web site. When the customer subscribed they end up in your autoresponder and will be send your prewritten follow up letters at time you set up.
There are lots of places where you can put your ad in.
Here are some examples:
Google Adword
There are more, just search the Internet.
There are also company where you can buy leads for your list. Some examples:
Cutting Edge Media
Lead Factory
For more just search the Internet.
When you buy leads this will go directly to your autoresponder they will not be directed to your web site, but thats okey you will have your link to your web site in your follow up letters.
Itกs also important to have a website, you use the web site to promote your business. Itกs in the web site you place your sales letter to convince your customer of your product or services greatness so they will subscribe to your list.
If you are involved in affiliate programs they will some times provide you with a web site, often you will have several web sites depending of there products. The problem with these web sites are that you can’t build your optin list.
You have probably heard that the success is in the list, and I have to agree. Itกs much easier to promote products or services whit customer in a list then try to get new customer all the time.
Optin list are a database where all of your customer are gathered when they subscribe to your list. Itกs from these list your autoresponder gets the email address to your customer.
So what I suggest you to do is to build your own web site and from this you promote your affiliate programs and let people subscribe for your prewritten follow up letters in your autoresponder.
If you don’t know how to build your own web site there are several on line that will help you with this, of course they will charge you but if you don’t know how, these will be well spent money.
There are also some business partners who will build your web site for free with ready to go affiliate programs as long as you join them with these affiliate programs. This is a good idea if you have none or little knowledge in Internet business, you will get started in a easy way, and some of them will also have stepbystep guides how to run your business.
How about affiliate programs are they free of charge? It depends on what product or service they are offering. For example if they offer a software product that can be used on web sites, they will almost certain charge you with a monthly fee, and that is understandable, if they don’t you could use it on your web site and promoting some one Elseกs product and get to use the software for free. There are also other reasons for a monthly fee, there are administrative costs, they may provide you with a web site and follow up letters and they have to track your sales so you get paid properly, won’t you agree that this is important.
So now you will understand that running an Home Business is not totally free of charge. But itกs much More affordable than an offline business. You don’t have to spend that much money to be successful.
I spend about 100 to 150 $ a month on advertising, autoresponder and affiliate fees. But thats me you can spend more or less it depends on your budget.
To your success.
Gert Ljungqvist

About The Author

Gert Ljungqvist publishes Home Business Tips, a fresh and informative newsletter dedicated to supporting people like YOU! If you’re looking for home business opportunities then grab your own Free subscription today at:
Get your Free stepbystep how to run your business ebook here:

This article was posted on July 09, 2004

by Gert Ljungqvist

The Number 1 Rule for Businesses Be Professional

The Number 1 Rule for Businesses Be Professional

by: Denise Hall

Have you ever walked into a store and things looked sloppy? Stores should have nice neat displays, right? Normally, yes, but sometimes they get a bit messy on busy days and we all understand how that can happen.

But what if you were to walk into a store as soon as it opened in the morning and the place looked liked it had been ransacked? What would you think?

Youกd probably think it wasn’t very professionallooking. If a rack of shirts was haphazardly thrown together, with all the styles, colors and sizes mixed up, youกd probably walk right past it without giving it a second glance.

If a sales associate wouldn’t answer your questions or help you find something, you would consider that unprofessional, too, not to mention rude.

When we do business in the offline world we expect a professional appearance and professional manner from those who deal with customers. The same is true for online businesses.

Your business depends on how professional you are. Your website, your customer service and the appearance and quality of your work all reflect upon you, the business owner.

Two key factors of professionalism:

Good Customer Service/Relations

Quality Appearance and Writing Skills

Recently I had problems submitting information to several websites. After trying for several days I finally emailed for technical support. (After all, the website owners had messages posted that said to contact them at any time.)

I didn’t expect an immediate reply to my inquiries. I know they’re busy running their businesses, and dealing with other people, too. But I have yet to receive any replies.

Where is the customer service? Why would I want to do business with someone who seems to be ignoring me? At the very least, if it typically takes them more than a couple of days to reply to email, support questions or other requests, they should post that information on their website so customers/visitors know what to expect.

Without good customer service, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Don’t expect customers to buy from you if you can’t afford them some common courtesy.

A professional appearance is mandatory to your business, also. How many times have you read an ad or article that had numerous spelling or grammatical errors?

We’re not perfect. We all make mistakes. But if we frequently had those little red check marks on our composition papers in school, we should probably use spell check and have someone proofread our copy before sending it into cyberspace.

A prime example is a website I visited a few months ago. As I started reading about the product the owner was selling I noticed an error with the use of the word กour.ก The site said กWhen you use กareก product…..ก OK, one little mistake. No big deal.

However, as I continued reading, I discovered the webmaster referred to กareก products and กareก website on the whole page! Not once was the correct word, กour,ก used.

Frequently I read ads and articles that contain many spelling or punctuation errors. For instance, ‘thinking back to when I first started my business. I had no idea how or where to begin.ก

Iกm not a teacher, but I can see that it should be one sentence, not two. The writer cut off the first sentence before actually finishing it. Itกs like the train of thought came to a screeching halt. (In this case, Iกm the writer giving you an example. So if this sentence resembles someone elseกs work, it was not done intentionally.)

The correct way to write it is ‘thinking back to when I first started my business, I had no idea how or where to begin.ก Itกs one flowing sentence. Now it tells you what I was thinking.

Another option is to change it just a bit to make it a complete sentence. กI think back to when I first started my businessก or กI remember when I first started my business.ก Then continue to the second sentence.

Iกm not wanting to demean anyone or be overly picky. Ads, web pages and articles just look much more professional when written with no errors, or at least very minor ones.

Many customers will shy away from a website or ad that seems poorly written or put together. The customer may see the business owner as an amateur, therefore their product, company or service may not be worth much.

Do your customers expect perfection? No. But they do expect professionalism. You’re running a business, so you’re supposed to be a professional. If you give a professional appearance, theyกll believe in you and your business.

About The Author

Denise Hall is the publisher of Home Business on a Budget Newsletter. Her weekly publication contains helpful tips, articles and resources. To subscribe or visit

This article may be reprinted in its entirety with this resource box included.

This article was posted on April 26, 2003

by Denise Hall

Introduction to Marketing for 1st time business ow

Introduction to Marketing for 1st time business owners

by: Ben Botes

Marketing is determining which orders you would like to win. Selling is getting out there and winning orders once you have decided which orders you would like to win. Marketing is a continuous process of creativity, research, testing, analysis, development and implementation. We must stay close to our customers. We must satisfy our customersก needs and anticipate their wants. We love our customers and we always do that little bit extra for which we do not get paid.

Specialize and be excited in what you do

There is a strong relationship between high selfesteem and peak performance. The more you love doing something, the greater will be your success. All successful businesses specialize in their areas of excellence. Many unsuccessful people drift into areas where they do not have the excitement, enthusiasm, energy, knowledge, etc., to establish competitive advantage and find their market segment.

A few questions for you to answer at this point are:

Which product or service would you like to produce and sell?

In which area of human activity would you like to improve the lives of other people?

To which area of human improvement can you bring excitement and enthusiasm?

What is your area of excellence?

What is your core business?

For which product or service are you prepared to be a product champion? What would you love to do to improve the lives of others for 16 hours each day, even if you received no financial reward?

What is it that makes you feel valuable and worthwhile?

Differentiate for a competitive advantage

Perhaps the biggest question in any business is: why should anybody buy this product or service … from me? This is in fact two questions. The first question is: why should anybody buy this product or service?

What is the benefit?

What is the improvement in the life of the customer?

How is the customerกs life enriched by acquisition of the product or service?

If you cannot answer this question, then you do not know why a customer should buy your product or service. Remember the law of cause and effect. There is a reason for everything. There has to be a reason why your customer buys the product or service.

Segmentation or the creation of a market niche

If people buy from you because you are such a lovely person, then your market niche may well be your circle of friends and friends of your friends. If you own the village grocery store, then your customers are probably restricted to those living within a fiveminute walk or twominute drive, i.e. the local community. If yours is the best or cheapest product on the market, then this opens up huge opportunities. Who is your customer? Who buys this product or service? Identify your market segment. Describe your customer age, sex, income, occupation, education, other interests, area where he or she lives, type of family, other products he or she buys, etc. Where exactly is your customer? Identify the geographical concentration, understanding that 80 per cent of your customers will be within 20 per cent of your catchment area. How is your product normally distributed? How would you expect your customer to buy your product or service? To which customers does your competitive advantage make a big difference? Is there a small segment of the market which you could dominate?

Answer these question when considering your market niche:

Who are your customers?

Where are your customers?

Who cares that you are the best?

Who cares that you are the cheapest?

Who cares that you are the local dealer?

Who cares that you are such a nice person?

The answers to these questions establish your market segmentation, or your market niche, i.e. a small segment of the market which you can dominate.

Concentrating your efforts

With a view to succeeding in business, we have to concentrate all our resources, hitting our market segment with our competitive advantage in our area of excellence. We have to concentrate our creativity, our marketing, our sales skills, leadership skills, finance, time, energy, excitement, enthusiasm, advertising and promotional efforts, production facilities, etc., all of these resources being concentrated in enriching the lives of our customers at a profit.

Is the benefit we offer worth more to the customer than the price the customer is expected to pay?

Can we provide the benefit at a cost which is lower than the customer is willing and able to pay?

Can we provide the benefit at a profit?

These are four of the most important steps to consider as a business owner. For more in formation on marketing for first time business owners, please go to

Copyright Ben Botes and – 2003 – 2005

About The Author

Ben is an entrepreneur, business owner, scholar, author and leadership coach, and one of the UKกs new leading thinkers on entrepreneurial leadership. He is a leading Coach with business incubators, enterprise hubs and high tech startups throughout the UK, Europe and his native South Africa. Ben holds Master degrees in Psychology and Business Administration as well as various qualifications in coaching and mentoring. Email Ben at

This article was posted on February 17

by Ben Botes

The Top Seven Marketing Mistakes

The Top Seven Marketing Mistakes

by: Ted Nicholas

In my view, nearly all government statistics about reasons for business failures are nonsense.

Undercapitalization, inexperience, or poor management are usually blamed for all business disasters.

Of course, there can be one or several more causes that result in a business going กbelly up.ก

However, from what Iกve seen, marketing mistakes are by far the primary reason businesses do not survive. This includes companies which consider themselves direct marketers as well as those who do not.

Here are the seven most common marketing mistakes:

1. Management treats marketing as a business expense or simply a department rather than a necessary business investment.

Solution: Marketing should be treated as the driving force of any company. It is the only function that brings in cash. The other major functions in a company are necessary. But they all spend cash. This includes the primary business departments of finance, production and research.

To market any product or service successfully, the company must do two things:

A. Provide marketing with sufficient resources

B. Put marketing at the heart of its business strategy

The whole company should be focused on the needs and wants of customers and be prepared to satisfy their demands.

Marketing must be part of the philosophy of all entrepreneurs and managers.

2. Management does not know specifically what it costs to recruit a new customer. Plus, there are no accurate statistics on the average customer lifetime value.

Without this knowledge, it is impossible to make sound decisions. You cannot determine how much to invest in marketing. If you spend more to gain a customer than their lifetime value, ultimately you will go broke. In the absence of this information, many businesses can and often do fail. To make matters worse, few of the casualties understand why they failed.

Solution: Before you invest large sums on marketing, determine the average lifetime value of a customer. An excellent book that I highly recommend on this topic is The Loyalty Factor by Frederick Reicheld.

3. Management makes no attempt to build a customer database. This is especially so with most retailers, restauranteurs and department store owners. However, Iกve seen this in many other businesses.

Solution: A companyกs database of customers is potentially its biggest asset. Itกs much more valuable than equipment, inventory, etc. This is not only true of companies that utilize mail order or Internet marketing. Every single company that wants to survive and prosper needs to build a database.

4. The company does not communicate often enough with its customers. The result is lower sales and profits than are otherwise possible.

Solution: Contact your customers a minimum of once a month. When I started my first business at age 21, I too made many mistakes. The business somehow survived and became a chain of retail confectionery stores called Petersonกs House of Fudge. At first I sent my customers an offer every six months. So I tried sending a sales letter every three months. My business doubled. I then began mailing every other month. My business again increased proportionately.

I wound up with the ideal and most profitable interval once a month.

At first I thought contacting customers every 30 days might be too often and that customers would get turned off.

But that didn’t happen. I got great feedback as well as higher sales. Providing your customers like, or even love, your product or service, as they should, they want to hear from you frequently.

This, of course, is in the context of your sending excellent offers, excellent copy and excellent information.

Indeed, if you are not in frequent contact, your customers will quickly begin to forget about you. Many will start buying from your competitors.

I urge you to contact your customers at least every 30 days (occasionally with special offers a week apart is perfectly fine too).

Your form of contact can be an email, postcard, catalog, telephone call or personal visit. Iกve found the most effective method of regular contact is with a wellwritten sales letter.

Rarely do I find a company of any kind which systematically mines the real gold in any businessthe customer database. Make sure you do not make this mistake.

Making offers to your customer database is often referred to as the กback endก in direct marketing jargon. But every business should cash in on the huge potential of existing customers by simply making frequent offers to them and giving them more opportunities to do business with you.

5. Management has no method of accurately measuring the results from its advertising investments. This is especially so with socalled image advertising.

Solution: The way this is done is to seek a direct response in each promotion. This can be a coupon, telephone call or store visit. Code each promotion. Then when an order is received or a customer visits your establishment, you can appropriately trace it to the particular promotion.

The coding system can be numbers or letters. If you use the telephone you can utilize separate telephone numbers for each advertisement. Or you can simply ask the caller which ad or letter they are responding to.

6. As many companies begin to enjoy some early success, many develop a disease that I call กBigCompanyItis.ก They start having endless, nonproductive meetings. They become bureaucratic. They move as slow as molasses.

Instead of continuing to insist upon a high level of employee performance and keeping a close watch and control over costs, management takes its foot off the brake. Costs can spiral out of control. Employee morale can suffer. Soon the company is in deep trouble.

Solution: The secret is to think big but operate much like a small business. Wellmanaged, large organizations that are highly successful are run more like a small entrepreneurial business. Managers have profit center responsibility. Their job is to help increase revenue or reduce costs, or both. They are held accountable. They maintain the financial controls and quick response of a lean and mean small business.

7. Management has no systemized upselling procedure in place to upgrade both new and existing customers to a larger sale. Result? Lower sales volume and lower profits than otherwise could be obtained.

Surprisingly, companies Iกve observed that market direct to consumers, such as mailorder businesses, tend to be incredibly poor at telephone communications and upselling.

Wellmanaged and properly trained customer service people can add 30%60% in added sales volume without any increase in marketing or administrative costs. Your only cost is the cost of goods sold. Best of all, your customers are the beneficiaries of more value and variety for their money. Everyone wins.

But here is where it becomes really interesting. Your gross sales will be much higher. But your net profit will increase by a huge multiple. Iกve helped companies achieve huge increases in their net profit just by learning effective and professional telephone techniques. Itกs not unusual to increase profits as much as 5 or even 10 times!

Effective telephone communications and upselling are the main reasons for the huge success of my own companies. My clients for whom I conduct training of their customer service representatives have experienced similar results.

Solution: Develop a strategy which includes the following:

A. Create an incentive compensation plan for your customer service representatives (CSRกs) based on added sales. Depending on your profit margins, this can be for example 5% to 10% of additional sales.

B. Run a daily special offered as an กadd onก that provides great value for the customer. For example, you can offer a new product at half price.

C. Prepare a verbatim script on how to present the special.

Tip: The selling price. Your special offer should not exceed 30% of your average order. This makes the decision to accept the special an easy one.

D. Provide your CSRกs with some basic telephone training. This should include the principles of active listening, voice pitch, pacing, learning to present things in a hearable way, and some gentle closingthesale techniques. A big factor is learning the secrets of boosting the sales without any pressure whatsoever.


Ted Nicholas

About The Author

Ted Nicholas is one of the highest paid speakers and copywriters in the world. He has sold over 4 billion dollars worth of products and services. Go to to subscribe to his free ezine, ‘the Success Margin.ก

This article was posted on December 09, 2003

by Ted Nicholas

Successful Sales People Know Which Differentiators

Successful Sales People Know Which Differentiators Matter

by: Richard Cunningham

Know where to focus. Not everyone evaluates product solutions with the same decision criteria.

When sitting toetotoe with a prospective client, how well do you answer the question, ขWhat sets you apart from your competitor?ข

Tom Snyder, vice president of Huthwaite – the creators of SPIN Selling – says in the audio book, ขSound Advice on Sales Strategies,ข that professional sales people often have trouble articulating what makes their offerings unique.

ขIn this day and age,ข he says, ขit’s all about creating customer value, and that means more than just explaining what your product can do that no one else’s can.ข

Snyder says the answer should change from customer to customer, depending on their specific needs. ขPrice may be paramount in one client’s mind while quick delivery or installation could be the deal clincher for another.ข

When asked about differentiators, Snyder recommends sales people first ask themselves what differences will matter to this specific client. ขSuccessful sales professionals know this, and more importantly, they know how to make the sharing of these differentiators a valuecreating opportunity, not just a valuecommunicating event.ข

Tom Snyder offers advice on planning and executing sales strategies each week in the free audionewsletter from What’s Working in Biz,

About The Author

Richard Cunningham is a principal of What’s Working in Biz,, a publisher of business audiobooks and online audio programs on marketing, sales, and small business strategies.

This article was posted on February 02, 2004

by Richard Cunningham

Building Trust For Lifetime Success

Building Trust For Lifetime Success

by: Randy Lever

One word.
One very powerful word that can increase both first time and repeat sales to an unlimited degree.
What is it? Why is it so important? How do you get it?
Confidence in you from your cutomers, builds relationships and as a result, more sales, and through excellent customer service.
Thatกs the short and sweet of it.
Now, how about a little more meat to it.
What is trust and why is it so important?
Definition: confidence in a person or thing because of the qualities one perceives or seems to perceive in him or it. (Websterกs)
The confidence that any visitor or potential customer has about your business, service or product is the foundation of present and future success.
Before any potential customer even enters your site for the first time, thereกs this underlying feeling of distrust. Itกs automatic.
Either they’re new to the Internet, received a poor product or service from a competitor or have already been scammed a few times.
Your first contact is either in some ad you placed in an ezine, classified, message board, banner, search engine description or some other form of advertising. Was it full of hype or were you honest in what your product or service delivers?
Once that customer enters your site and they don’t see what was stated in your ad………..
goodbye, you just lost a sale and probably a lifetime customer.
If you can’t be honest in your ad, then you’re pobably not going to be with your product or service. So, why should that visitor stick around only to be disappointed or scammed again? Would you?
Do you know what happens when that visitor leaves your site? They email an ezine editor, friend, or leave a nasty little post on a message board about their not so wonderful experience with you, and you’re credibility is gone.
How do you build that trust?
Believe it or not, itกs not that hard. It does take effort and itกs an ongoing process, not something you do once and forget about it.
Be Honest.
The importance of building trust really shows through here. Honesty should be at the front of your mind when you write up your ads and web site copy. Especially when that advertisement includes something free. Don’t use free just to get visitors, your trust and credibility takes a hard nose dive when the "freebie" is junk.
Only write exactly what your product or service delivers and leave the hype and exageration out.
Don’t Hype
I always skip over the ads that actually promise truckloads of money with little or no effort. Come on.
BIG BOLD HEADLINES are a sure sign of hype to nth degree. Promises that are impossible, like the truckloads of cash, are always a big giveaway. If your product doesn’t have it or do it, then don’t promise it.
Follow Up
If youกve done everything right so far and you are making sales, don’t forget about the customer. Follow up with a thank you letter. Add a special bonus that they didn’t know about. Ask them if they like your product or service. Ask if there is anything else you can help them with.
Bottom line is, build a relationship without trying to always sell them something. Talk to them, not at them or down to them. Be their friend and actually help them out when they need it, if you can.
Use Testimonials on your site.
When you followed up with your customers and asked if they liked your product, then ask if you can use their comments on your site. Of course, youกll also include their name, email and website address.
Testimonials build enormous instant credibility. If a visitor to your site sees that there are already satisified customers, then you deliver what you say you will and youกve kept in touch with that customer. Plus the name and email also keeps the visitor comfortable as they know that they can get in touch with that person to verify what they had to say was, in fact, true.
As you can see, building trust isn’t all that hard.
Just be sincere. Be personable. Be available.
If you follow these few rules to help you gain trust and credibility among both your siteกs visitors and your peers, then youกll gain both lifetime customers of your product and lifetime relationships with some really good people.

About The Author

Randy Lever is the owner of the "Complete Internet Marketing Package", Marketing Profit. Learn the ins and outs of a successful ad campaign.

This article was posted on January 20, 2002

by Randy Lever

Direct Mail Postcard Rules

Direct Mail Postcard Rules

by: Joe Niewierski

It’s a fact that your customers are your best leads. This means that the most likely people to purchase your products and/or services are the ones who have paid for them before. It’s also a fact that it costs far less money to keep a customer than it does to go out and get a new one. These are the two reasons that using direct mail postcards to keep in touch with your customer database is a must. There are a few rules to follow when marketing to contacts in your company database.

Rule #1: Collect all of their information.

It sounds like a nobrainer but you would be surprised. The more information that you have on your customers the more likely it is that you will be able to get in touch with them to let them know about specials or to remind them it’s time for their next service. Also, don’t neglect to ask for your customersก email addresses, everybody has one and most will give it up pretty easily.

Rule #2: Don’t treat your customers like prospects.

Make sure when you collect the information in your database you differentiate between people who have placed an order in the past and people who have not. Customers want to feel like you are paying attention to them and when they have placed a few orders with you and are still getting your ก10% for First Time Buyersก postcards they tend to feel unappreciated. Bottom line, if they don’t qualify for an offer you are sending out, don’t send it to them.

Rule #3: Don’t let your designs get stagnant.

When you are mailing to databases of people that you have never spoken to before it is OK to send them the same postcard multiple times. It helps to increase recognition and will eventually increase your response rate. Dealing with customers and prospects that you have already spoken to (meaning they already know most or all of the details of your business) you need to mix things up a bit. Your mailings should be attention getting and informative. If you have started offering a new service recently, a postcard designed to let your database know about it would be a smart move. The main point is to keep your company in the front of their mind and to keep them reading your postcards.

If the promo that you send to your database gets too repetitive your customers will lose interest and at that point you are just wasting your money on postage because your postcards won’t get the attention that you want.

One of your main goals should be to educate your customers about how your product or service works and this will in turn help them to get more use out of your entire line of products and services. Many times it is as simple as sending out mailings that make your customers aware of all that you can do for them.

Take, for example, a California based software company called Forté Systems. Not only do they use direct mail postcards to acquire new business, they know how to use them to effectively market to their current customer database as well. To fully understand how you will need a little background information.

Forté Systems is one of the current leading companies in Medical Practice Management and Billing Software. This means that their software that will essentially run an entire medical office. The software can be purchased in any one of four levels, depending on budget and number of doctors working for the practice.

Once a medical practice becomes a customer of Forté Systems the marketing strategy is changed to reflect the rules above. They are no longer trying to convince the doctor to become a customer, they are now educating them on how better they can be served by Forté Systems’ products. Now the customer receives direct mail pieces concerning:

Updates on software upgrades (example 1),

Notices when they are running specials (example 2) & information about Other Forté Systems products, such as

Software training tutorials on CD (example 3).

This enables them to continue to service their customers at the highest level and also helps to strengthen the customers loyalty to Forté Systems. Sometimes you lose customers because they either forgot who they dealt with last time they made a purchase or they received some kind of promo from one of your competitors and decided to check it out.

If the customer is constantly updated about what is available from your company they will not have to spend their valuable time doing research and will be less likely to กshop around.ก This will help to control the normal attrition of your database to other companies.

The pieces are all designed with the Forté Systems logo prominently displayed on the front and back the same general feel and most importantly the same color scheme. Picking a company color or group of colors and sticking with it will help to increase recognition and readership of your promo. Simply put, your customers will get to the point that they read what you send them. They need to know it is from your company before they read it because if it doesn’t look like what they are used to you sending it may go in the trash without a second look.

Being great at what you do is not always enough to keep the customers that you have earned. With all of the competition out there today you need to be constantly reminding your customers that you are the best at what you do. Direct mail postcards are the best way to give them that reminder.

Always remember to keep mailings that you send to your database informative, attractive and most of all current. Personalize everything that you can and make sure that what you are sending to a past client actually pertains to them or their company. Anything less and your customer may start to drift, and the only people that are going to be happy when that happens are your competitors.

About The Author

Joe Niewierski, the VP of Marketing & Promotion at PostcardMania, became a published writer after graduating with a BA in Advertising from the University of South Florida. Joy Gendusa founded PostcardMania in 1998; her only assets a computer and a phone. In 2004 the company did close to $9 million in sales and employs over 60 persons. She attributes her explosive growth to her ability to choose incredible staff and her innate marketing savvy. Now she’s sharing her marketing secrets with others. For more free marketing advice, visit her website at

This article was posted on February 24

by Joe Niewierski

Does Your Message Pass the Test?

Does Your Message Pass the Test?

by: Claire Cunningham

Develop an effective benefit message and you’re well on your way to building your company’s entire marketing program. After all, you need focus to create success. Without it you can wind up expending effort without getting the reward (income, that is) you’re looking for.
Start with these three ingredients:

Understanding of what the customer needs and wants
Knowledge of the competition’s strengths, weaknesses and messages
Insight about what you offer

Gather the information and chart it. What you’re looking for is a hole where there’s a customer need that you address and hopefully, the competition doesn’t.
Found it? That’s the core of your message. Found several holes? You’ll need to prioritize.
Now, write alternative introductory sentences. Remember, they need to be customerbenefit oriented, that is, they need to explain what the customer GETS. Got your alternatives ready? Here are seven questions to ask of potential benefit messages. They’ll help you find the promise or message that will get you the most mileage:
1) Is it meaningful?
This is where knowledge of the customer comes into play. Your benefit message should be based on the real needs of the people who use your products or services.
2) Is it sustainable?
Establishing your unique position doesn’t happen overnight. The message you choose should be based on what you can deliver long term.
3) Is it believable?
Can you keep the promise you’re making? For example, if your benefit message centers on ขsuperior service,ข do you understand what your customers’ expectations are? Are you committed to making good on this promise over time?
4) Is it unique?
Often there are many providers of a product or service. How do you set yourself apart from the rest of the pack?
5) Is it concrete and easy to understand?
If you ask your audience to think too hard, they probably won’t! Simple, straightforward messages work best.
6) Is it in your own words?
If you’re going to be saying this as an introduction to your business, you need to be comfortable with the words and phrasing. Practice saying messages out loud to test them.
7) Is it attentiongrabbing?
You can’t bore someone into buying! Use words that demonstrate your passion, your understanding of client needs. Use words that engage interest.
Test your message with prospects. Watch for their reactions. Ask what they like and don’t like. You might get stuck. If that happens, a marketing and communications consultant can craft alternative benefit statements, provide an objective viewpoint, even handle the upfront research.

About The Author

Claire Cunningham, president of Clairvoyant Communications, Inc., has 20+ years’ experience developing and implementing successful businesstobusiness marketing and communications programs. Sign up for Claire’s monthly newsletter, Communique, at Claire can be reached at 7634793499 or email to

This article was posted on July 13, 2004

by Claire Cunningham

Bridging the Chasm from Lead to Loyal Customer

Bridging the Chasm from Lead to Loyal Customer

by: Julie Chance

Bridging the Chasm from Lead to Loyal Customer: A Step by Step Guide for Developing Awareness, Building Credibility and Acquiring Customers

Have you ever watched a documentary about climbing Mount Everest? If so, you will undoubtedly remember one specific segment of the journey where the climbers cross a chasm, one carefully placed step after another, using aluminum ladders strung end to end. For me, just the thought of it is enough to cause an anxiety attack!

There is a similar chasm between your product or service and your potential customers, even if it is only in the potential customers’ mind. And for them, the thought of crossing that chasm is enough to cause a severe case of anxiety.

Picture a group of your potential customers, standing at the edge of a chasm on Mount Everest and you and your product or service standing on the other side. It is your job and the role of your marketing efforts to help potential clients cross that chasm one step at a time. At this stage, your immediate objective is not to get them to purchase. It is simply to get them to take that first step out onto the ladder, followed by one more step, and than another until they reach the ultimate decision to purchase.

It is as ludicrous to expect a potential customer to reach a purchase decision in one step as it would be to expect a Mount Everest adventurer to cross a chasm in one step. So how can you begin to move your potential customers across the purchase chasm?

• Step One Awareness and Knowledge: Before someone can purchase a product or service they must be aware of it. They must also have knowledge about what problems the product or service will solve for them. They must be able to picture in their minds the benefit they will receive from using the product or service, and that picture must be enticing enough to motivate them to take that first step.

At this phase, your objective is to make potential customers aware of your product or service, generally through mass media type activities, advertising, direct mail, articles, public speaking, etc. and then to get them to take the first step by requesting additional information. You might offer a brochure, free report, newsletter subscription or other informational item in exchange for contact information. The key is to offer something that:

* Is of value to your potential client

* Provides him or her with additional knowledge about your product or service and how it will solve his or her problems

* Poses a very low level of risk or obligation on the part of the prospective customer.

• Step two Liking and Preference: Awareness alone is not enough. Potential customers must also have a positive disposition regarding your product or service. Potential customers must trust that you will deliver what you say you will. Several years ago there was an insurance company that did a tremendous job of building awareness through television advertising. However, the ads were so obnoxious that I’m sure the company ranked quite low on the liking, preference and credibility scale.

At this stage, the objective is to get those potential customers who took the first step to take a second step by requesting additional information perhaps a video or booklet, calling for a free consultation, signing up for a free seminar or teleconference, purchasing an ebook, etc. For example, a trainer might gain credibility and allow potential customers to ขsampleข their product by offering free, hour long presentations on topics related to their area of specialty. Again, the offer must be of value to the client, and should pose a slightly higher level of risk, obligation or commitment on the part of the potential customer.

• Step Three – Conviction and Purchase: The final step in the process is getting those potential customers who have begun the journey across the chasm by requesting information and then following up on the information requested to actually make the decision to purchase. In this step, personal, oneonone selling becomes the primary method of achieving the objective. And, if you have developed a relationship with the potential client throughout their journey, this step should be as simple as reaching out to take their hand as they reach the end of the ladder and step off onto the ground. And reassuring them that they have made the right decision by embarking on the journey.

While the process is simple, implementation takes a committed and consistent effort. It may take as many as five to 15 exposures to your product or service for a potential client to move through the process and cross the chasm from lead to loyal customer. They key is to plan those exposures so each one:

•Matches the level of the process where the potential customer currently is (i.e. direct mass media activities to potential customers in the awareness and knowledge phases, and use personal selling with prospective customers in the conviction and purchase phases).

•Builds on the previous exposure, automatically moving people through the buying process one step at a time.

To begin the process of helping potential clients bridge the chasm to loyal customer ask yourself these questions:

1. What are three to five ways I can have an initial contact with members of my ideal customer group?

2. What can I provide as a free offer in exchange for contact information to get people to take the first step?

3. What are two or three intermediary steps I can encourage prospects to take?

4. What are the key promotional tools that I will use at each step?

About The Author

Julie Chance is president of StrategiesbyDESIGN, a Dallas based firm that helps small businesses and service professionals Map A Path to Success by bridging the chasm from Lead to Loyal Customer. For more information or to sign up for our free Marketing Tips Newsletter go to or call 9727019311.

This article was posted on November 16, 2003

by Julie Chance