Friday, June 29, 2012


Do you follow up with your prospects? Here are some interesting sales statistics from Jack Daly. As with most things that are hard, staying with it is one of the keys to success. Just because you don't make a sale on the first try, doesn't mean you should give up. 

A business acquaintance I met many years ago told me about sales call where the prospect kept stringing him along and buying product from his competitor. Finally, after many visits, he asked the prospect how many sales calls it would take before the prospect gave him an opportunity to win the business. The prospect was a surprised and blurted out "five". The salesman left and came back the next time and didn't talk any business. They talked about the prospects kids and their sports teams. Right before he left, he took an index card out of his pocket and made a note of the date and put it back in his pocket. He got up and left.

He came back a few weeks later and repeated the process. They discussed only personal things, no business. Like the last time, he took the index card out of his pocket and made a note of the date and left.  On the third visit, when there was no discussion of business and he made a big production out of the index card, the prospect asked what he was doing. The salesman said, you told me on such and such a date, that it would take five more calls before you'd give me a chance to win your business. See, I made a note of it on this index card and I've recorded the date each time I called since. I need to make two more trips before you'll give me a change to earn your business. 

Of course the prospect blurted out "five" to discourage the salesman from continuing to call. Little did he realize that he'd make a game of it. The salesman put the index card back in his pocket and got up to leave when the prospect gave him an order. He has since earned nearly all of the prospects business and turned into a loyal and profitable account.

The moral of the story, stick to it. 

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Transit for Teachers

Free 2 Teach is a Huntsville based volunteer-run teacher supply store. It's stocked with teaching resources and supplies donated by the Huntsville community. On Thursday, June 21st, Cathy Anderson and the Woody Anderson Ford team made a huge donation to the Free 2 Teach effort by give the group a beautifully wrapped Ford Transit Connect.

Ford Transit Connect donated by Woody Anderson Ford

Free 2 Teach has a goal of providing supplies for all full time teachers. While they will accept all supplies, they are primarily looking for the 7 core items needed by teachers:

1. #2 Pencils
2. Pens
3. Crayons
4. Washable Markers
5. Glue Sticks
6. Copy Paper
7. Loose Leaf Paper

Cindy Davis, Office Manager of Woody Anderson Ford,
making a donation to the Free 2 Teach Van

Supplies can be donated aWest Huntsville Elementary School, located at 3001 9th Ave SW, Huntsville, Alabama 35805. Visit their website at

Mayor Battle and the Chick-Fil-A Cows join Eula Battle and Nancy Jones 

Free 2 Teach is a featured charitable organization of the Ad4! Group.

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Disaster Recovery & Communications

Does your small business have a disaster recovery and communications plan? Prior to the recent Tornado outbreak in Alabama, most small businesses probably didn't think they needed a plan. But after massive destruction and no power for a week, most of us started thinking about this a little more seriously. 

The SBA has put out a list of tips for creating a crisis communication plan for small businesses in the aftermath of a disaster. There is also a link to a useful checklist put together by Agility Recovery. While we don't often have severe weather from hurricanes here in North Alabama, these precautions are valuable for any type of problem.


When a disaster occurs, it’s often the misleading bit of information shared by an outsider that gins up rumors about a damaged business shutting down.  Obviously, this situation undermines the company’s ability to recover. That’s one big reason why precise, effective communication – within the organization, and out to the public – is vital during an emergency.

Now that the Atlantic Hurricane season has begun, it’s a good time to set up an effective crisis communications strategy.  You want to develop a plan to make sure your employees, customers, vendors, contractors – everyone you do business with – is aware of the progress you’re making as you recover in the aftermath of a disaster.

Here are a few tips to get your company’s crisis communications plan started:

  • Develop and regularly update an Emergency Contact List that includes a home phone, alternate mobile, personal email, family contact information, and the evacuation plan.
  • Establish an email alert system capable of multiple means of communication to employees, stakeholders and clients.  Test the alert system regularly.
  • Consider an online social network platform for web-based crisis communications (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Having a plan to deal with local media is also essential. With a good strategy in place, the media can become a supportive function as you rebuild after a disaster.
  • Designate primary and secondary spokespersons, and give them training in dealing with the media. Make sure all employees know the name of the spokesperson.
  • Create key message and talking points to ensure consistent messaging.
  • Continuously monitor what’s being said and written about your company both online and offline, so you can evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your strategy and messaging.

After the crisis, notify all critical people of your next steps. It’s also a good idea to do a debrief with your staff to evaluate lessons learned, and how to improve the plan if necessary.

There’s a great crisis communications checklist on Agility Recovery’s website.  Use it to create your own plan.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Get Your Employees To Do Great Things

You have worked hard building your business and investing in customer acquisition. Your customers love your products, but do business with you because of your service. How do you get your employees to do great things for your company?

Big companies especially, struggle with this concept. By definition, larger companies have more trouble with great individual customer service because of their systems which identify the behavior and outcomes that they expect. So just throw out the operations and service manual and all will be fine? Hardly. Large companies with good or great customer service thrive because of their systems. The insure that service is consistent across properties or regions. 

Small companies tend to have more individual freedom for employees. That's mostly because nobody has thought about or had time to document a system for employees to use. 

Is service necessarily better at small companies? Does the systematic structuring of big companies prevent local level employees from having the soul that often accompanies awesome customer service? In my opinion, no and no. Have I talked myself into a circle?

Let me give you two examples, one from my recent real-life consulting experience and one I read about, but related as real none the less.

Real Life Example

My partner Felica at Ad4! Group and I were working with a group of upper-level line employees at a hospitality venue. As I talked about understanding customer expectations and responding accordingly with information and service that wasn't part of their "job" but would endear them to their customers, they proceeded to school me on just how that is done in real life. At a single location business, they created, on their own without any prompting or inducement from management, a system to categorize and organize this information of which I spoke, so that they could use it help their customers without having to fumble. They created a system for their own use so that they could provide an unexpected level of customer service. 

Read About Example

Walt Disney Company strives to provide a level of service that exceeds most expectations. They train their hotel housekeepers that they are not there to clean rooms, but to help create memorable experiences for their customers.  They had a housekeeper who would take little Mickey Mouse plush dolls and put them in children's beds with a note 'I was waiting for you.'

What do these examples have to do with each other? Probably many things if we were to study them, but my point is this: train your employees to understand your mission and give them the resources to do their job. Then, if you get out of their way, they will do great things for you. My experience with employees is that they just want to be able to take pride in what they do. Whether they are artists, craftsmen, or accountants, they want to have the freedom to do a great job. Allow your employees the freedom to express their individual style and creativeness to implement your systems and forward your mission. In this type of environment, good people will thrive. They will deliver the service that you need and feel empowered to be the best they can be. It's a win-win. 

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Friday, June 8, 2012

The Startup Curve

The startup curve, the idea that a business startup is not a single, always uplifting idea that makes all your dreams come true. It's a graphical description of the ups and downs of the process. Paul Graham defined the process for Silicon Valley tech startups with the following chart.

 This process with its tongue-in-cheek descriptions, shows the emotional process of the tech startup. This has nothing, directly, to do with profitability or viability, it has to do with the emotional roller coaster that entrepreneurs experience as they mold their idea and try to create a valuable, efficient, and profitable entity that can someday make them actual money or be sold to create actual money.

It's just one more thing to consider as we tweak our great ideas into the promised land.

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