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RFQ vs. RFP: What Is the Difference?

When a company engages in business with other corporations on a business to business (B2B) basis, they will have to navigate tricky clientele attainment processes. With thousands of businesses to choose from, it can be difficult to find the best price for goods and services without putting in hours of research. Companies engage in large-scale B2B operations through the distribution of Requests for Proposals (RFPs) and Request for Quotes (RFQs).

These documents allow companies to send out requests to potential contractors and vendors for certain goods and services. In turn, these vendors will send quotes and project proposals to the company for approval and, hopefully, hiring. Usually, the procurement department of a company will distribute these documents.

Though they are similar documents, different situations can lead to choosing RFQ vs. RFP use by a company. A key factor in successful corporate sales is knowing when to appropriately use one over the other. Luckily, there are a few key differences between an RFQ and an RFP that can help corporate professionals navigate these documents.

 

Request for Quote

A Request for Quote, or RFQ, is a document that companies use to gather information about goods from the potential vendor. Before the procurement of these goods, this document explains that the company wishes to purchase a certain type and amount of goods from a vendor. The RFQ will detail the specifications and quantities of those goods.

The company will send the RFQ to specific companies they are interested in working with. In response, potential vendors will send quotes and price estimates to the company who put the RFQ out. From these responses, the company can choose which vendor can provide the best products at the best prices. Usually, a company uses an RFQ if they need to make a large-scale purchase.

For example, imagine that an office is in the market to purchase a large quantity of paper for an upcoming conference. They need to purchase 2,500 reams and are trying to find the best price for their project. The office will send an RFQ to various paper suppliers in their area to find the best quote for the amount they need.

RFQ may also stand for “Request for Qualifications.” Companies use this document to solicit vendor and contractor qualifications to narrow down choices for a project bid.

 

Request for Proposal

A Request for Proposal, or RFP, is a document that companies use to gather information about services from a potential supplier or contractor. These documents are more complicated than RFQs since they ask for more than just a price.

Since the document is a request for services, not products, the information contained in the RFP is more detailed than information in an RFQ. The RFP will detail the goals and nature of the project that the company needs completed. In addition, it will detail the number of pages and illustrations that the proposal should contain, what laws the project is subject to, and what qualifications the contractors should have. The company may request the proposal contain other information as well, depending on the project.

In return, the potential contractor will submit a proposal detailing:

  • What the contractor needs for project completion
  • The estimated costs of labor
  • The estimated costs of management and other fees
  • The total project cost

The company will use this proposal to decide whether to hire that contractor. Companies who lack the expertise to detail the scope of the project they want to complete use RFPs to solicit assistance from more knowledgeable contractors.

For example, imagine that a corporation is looking to open a new store location in a different state. They need to find a contractor to renovate their property to match the design of their other locations. They will send an RFP to various contractors in the area detailing the nature and goals of the project, the different building codes that the contractor will have

to adhere to, the company’s style guide, and the licensing requirements the company is seeking. Contractors will return proposals to this company and the company will select the best proposal for hire.

 

What About RFT and RFI?

Other documents that companies use to solicit information from potential suppliers are RFIs and RFTs. RFI stands for Request for Information. Companies use RFIs to gather information on what steps to take next in a contract negotiation. Usually, RFIs are the last stage in the RFQ or RFP process.

RFT stands for Request for Tender. Companies use RFTs to solicit offers from potential suppliers for specific goods and services detailed in the request document. These documents help companies make informed decisions based on pre-identified criteria before hiring or purchasing goods and services.

 

If your company is looking for effective corporate sales training, look no further than Shapiro Negotiations. Our comprehensive workshops for sales professionals will equip your team with the tools, habits, and knowledge necessary for corporate success. Contact Shapiro Negotiations today to learn more about the program and to schedule a free consultation.

Leading by Influence: Are You Ready?

With the right amount of influence, an individual can compel others to join a cause, dedicate themselves to a goal, and successfully fulfill a unified vision. Contrary to popular belief, an authentic leader does not have to maintain a position of power. Whether you are a manager or employee, you have the capacity to become a leader if you put effort into it.

A highly influential person is generally one who uses leadership traits and skills such as effective communication, dependability, and the strength of influence to lead others while on the job. In many cases, employees will follow a leader’s example with no regard to what position they hold. Leading by influence can have an exceptional effect on your business’s prosperity. If you are ready to embrace leading by the power of influence, here are some ways you can become a model for leadership in the workplace regardless of your title.

 

Contribute

If you are a director or manager of a region in a business, take the time to do some of the duties your employees would normally do. Since people don’t like it when the person giving them orders hasn’t demonstrated his or her ability to contribute, a director who is eager to be hands-on will help encourage employees to be proactive as well.

 

Remain Positive

Even though no one can be positive 100% of the time, it is important to try to remain upbeat no matter what the circumstances. Positivity can be contentious, and employees are far more likely to respond positively to someone who is kind and demonstrates an ability to maintain a good attitude. Express gratitude toward others by making them feel good about their achievements and rewarding them for making progress toward their goals.

 

Have an Open-Door Policy

If your employees or associates are uneasy when approaching you, they will have less respect for you as their leader. Make sure your associates know you are accessible at any times and are willing to address any concerns they have. Being approachable helps cultivate a strong sense of mutual respect and understanding between you and your employees.

 

Be Consistent

If you tell your employees something and don’t follow through or do the exact opposite, you will damage your integrity. Losing credibility with your employees is extremely hard to come back from, so once you commit to do something, always honor it.

 

Communicate

As a force of inspiration, effective communication  helps guide others in pursuit of achievement, so it is essential to be an excellent communicator in order to lead by influence. Enhancing communication skills will enable you to use your inspirational power to motivate others so keep the following notions in mind when expressing ideas to employees and associates:

  • Understand what you want to achieve.
  • Consider the perspective of your listeners.
  • Pay close attention to how they respond.

 

Use Rewards

Being in a position of power allows leaders to use rewards to motivate others, but outstanding leaders can recreate the notion of coercive power by transforming it into influence no matter what their position is. Handing out rewards, including bonuses and promotions, in accordance with a clearly expressed batch of criteria helps promote productive activity. Maintaining a rewards system also includes adhering to rules and being fair always, which will increase your credibility and establish a foundation of trust between you and your employees.

 

Be an Example

The referent influences you have, the more others will want to align themselves with your cause.

You can increase your referent influence by being ethical, reliable, and embodying the qualities of professionalism. Illuminate the values of honesty, fairness, respect, and company pride to establish a strong model for others to look up to.

I removed the link here to the influence training page and instead placed it under “leading by influence” as that anchor text is more relevant to the link.

5 Tips for A Great Business Presentation

Some individuals jump at the chance to make presentations, whereas others detest the task. But no matter whether you love them, or you hate them, work presentations are something most people must do at some point in their professional lives, so iit can be very valuable to learn how to be a good presenter. Before you start preparing to deliver your next business presentation, review the following five tips to help ensure your demonstration is not only effective, but goes as smoothly and painlessly as possible.

 

1. Develop Content Wisely
  • Create a story. Presentations can linger on and appear pointless when they display scattered information without context or underlying significance. Rather than bore your audience with facts and figures, use a story to express them.
  • Shorten your introduction. A lengthy introduction can be counterproductive to your goal of capturing the audience’s attention, so do your best to limit your opener to a brief sentence or two.
  • Make your presentation short and to the point. The longer your presentation continues, the more you risk losing your audience’s concentration. Make your display as compact and precise as possible without sacrificing important information. To sustain audience engagement, make sure to shorten it to at least half the length you first expected it to be.
  • Use simple graphics. Too many complicated tables and charts do not help cultivate your listeners’ attention. Instead of attempting to dazzle with the use of graphics, animations, or fonts, put the spotlight on only the most important data points.
  • Refrain from using fancy backgrounds. Presentations with fancy backgrounds can easily distract viewers from the main points of your display. Keep their focus in check and use a simple background style with neutral colors.
  • Be simple. Rather than focusing on adding special effects, make your content simple in hopes of ensuring your audience remembers the message you want to communicate better than any other elements of your display.

 

2. Plan Your Presentation
  • Check equipment carefully. If you must use equipment like a projector or laptop in your presentation to show videos or broadcast your presentation, double check beforehand to make sure everything is working as it should be.
  • Concentrate on your audience. Ideal public speakers maintain their focus on the viewers rather than their notes. Keeping your eyes on your audience will compel them to concentrate on you and the point of your presentation.
  • Eliminate all unnecessary or redundant slides or information before you make your presentation to avoid having to skip over them while you are on front of your audience, which will make you look unorganized.
  • Be timely. Listeners can become distracted at certain times, so try to schedule your presentations around these points in the day. Always avoid making presentations at the end of a work day, before lunch hours, or a few days before a holiday.
  • Have questions prepped. If you are planning on having a Q&A when your presentation is over, prepare a few questions ahead of times to get a head start at encouraging discussion. You can introduce prepped questions with phrases such as “I am frequently asked …” or “You may still be contemplating …”
  • Make a handout. If there is information you want the audience to have during or after your presentation, make a handout to distribute before or after you talk.

 

3. Clarify Goals at the Beginning
  • Present your viewers with the purpose or objective of your presentation at the beginning to help them connect the purpose with the material you talk about during your display. This will increase the chances of the energizing the audience to act.

 

4. Introduce Ideas With Memorable Quotes or Visuals
  • To increase viewer engagement and make a lasting impact, introduce all separate topics and concepts with a related quote or image. Consider adding a sentence or two about the topic or say it out loud while allowing the image to speak for itself. These techniques not only help to break up the content of your presentation, but it will grant your topic more influence, as a relevant quote or visual will remain in the audience’s mind throughout your display as you introduce related material.

 

5. Make Your Closing Short and Sweet
  • End your presentation effectively and incorporate a short closing after you complete your Q&A. Use this time to briefly touch on the vital points of your presentation and heighten the emphasis of your call to action.

 

An exceptional training program concentrating on how to inspire by influence can help individuals gain presentation skills to deliver a winning presentation. Shapiro Negotiations can help teach people to become more influential in presentations and other forms of professional interaction. Learn more about their influence training program to become a remarkable influencer today.

 

The Importance of Negotiation

Technology advances rapidly in the business world. However, some things will always stay the same. The art of negotiation is as important a business skill as it ever has been. Why is negotiation important? Strong negotiation skills can be the difference between a beneficial compromise and a loss. There will always be conflicts in life, and the ability to solve them, particularly in the business world. That’s why negotiation is important in business —  it is what creates success. What are some important negotiation skills, and why are they so critical?

  • Confidence. Don’t be intimidated; bullies know how to get their way. The business world has its fair share of tyrants, as some people intimidate their way to success. Feeling intimidated means you’re already on your way to defeat. People can sense when you’re emotionally not up for the fight, and they take advantage of it.

In the business world, this can mean lost profits, promotions, and opportunities. Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated during negotiation. If the other person appears more confident, understand it’s typically not because they deserve something more than you do; they’re just convinced they do. By bringing this conviction to the table, you can win a negotiation.

  • The importance of negotiation skills includes knowing when to walk away. Some battles are not worth fighting. When business decisions hang in the balance, it’s imperative to be willing to — and know when to — walk away. If someone is transparently trying to get their way with no concessions to you, it’s best to exit the negotiation.
  • Playing fair. In most negotiations, the goal is to be fair. If both parties can understand this and be sympathetic to the others’ needs, both stand to benefit far more. A competition for money or business resources isn’t a true negotiation. In any negotiation, each side has something to offer, and some things they can reasonably concede. Be open, fair, and honest, and you can gain the most from business negotiations.
  • People skills. More often than not, it’s not what you say – it’s how you say it. By presenting your case in the right light, you stand to gain much more from any negotiation. Approaching a negotiation nervously or aggressively gives the other party the upper hand. Be calm, civil, and direct. A good sense of humor and open demeanor, as well as being a good listener, go a long way to realize a successful negotiation.

The importance of negotiation skills cannot be overstated. That’s why, as a business skill, negotiation is here to stay. But by not only understanding why negotiation is important in business, and  prioritizing having good negotiators on your team, you create the perfect environment for business success. Remember, negotiation should be approached not as a competition, but as a compromise in which everyone leaves satisfied.

18 Proven Sales Tactics That Work in Any Industry

Developing a strong sales program is the most critical aspect of any business. Without effective sales strategies, companies will not be able to compete and grow. Sales professionals must learn how to implement proven sales tactics that work. These sorts of sales tactics do more than just help them to close individual sales; they help to generate additional prospects for future sales.

As a sales team manager, one of your responsibilities is to provide your team with effective sales training and sales strategies that will increase your company’s profits. Effective sales processes are not just about working hard and putting in long hours. In fact, many sales teams work long and hard without experiencing results.

sales professional at work

Effective sales strategies involve employing the best strategies in the right situations. Here are 18 sales tactics that can work for sales teams in every industry.

  1. Be persistent with leads and develop the habit of following up with each customer.

    According to the latest sales research, 80 percent of sales transactions require 5 interactions after the first contact with a customer. Many salespeople are primarily concerned with immediate sales. If they do not get the sale at the first meeting, they silently give up and continue their hunt for the next immediate sale. However, savvy sales professionals understand that they must nurture viable leads until an action is taken. These ‘rock star’ sales professionals send emails, direct mail, make phone calls or send brochures to customers at designated intervals. By taking this action, your customers will think of you when it is time to make their next purchases.

  2. Solve your customers’ problems.

    Successful businesses thrive in competitive industries because they provide solutions to meet their customers’ needs. There are many sales professionals who do not fully understand their roles in the transaction. Consider this fact. As many as 70 percent of your leads are reaching out to you to solve their problems. When customers contact your sales team, your sales professionals must be able to demonstrate to them how they can quickly and easily solve their problems.

  3. Develop the ability to actively listen to customers.

    Customers have access to pages of information on the internet. In many instances, they may be as knowledgeable as your sales team. When sales professionals interact with knowledgeable customers, they might be tempted to talk constantly to show them that they are qualified. It is important to remind your salespeople that they should never get into a knowledge power struggle with customers. Sales professionals should always listen more than they talk. Simply listening to customers’ answers can be one of the most effective sales tactics in your team’s arsenal. They should ask questions that probe into their clients’ thought processes and carefully consider the responses. The goal is to make customers feel as if they are respected throughout the sales process.

  4. Use polite terms when you discuss the competition.

    Your sales team should always strive to present themselves in a positive light and use professional language. There is nothing that screams unprofessional like using derogatory terms to discuss other people or companies. Although customers may participate in the negative conversation, bad mouthing any person or company is never a good sales tactic. If a competitor does not have a good reputation, the members of your sales team should remain neutral.

  5. Earn your referrals before you ask for them.

    Sales professionals know that referrals are the proverbial ‘holy grail’ of marketing. In fact, 91 percent of customers will provide a referral contact to a salesperson that they like. Before you think about asking your customers for referrals, you should focus on providing them with a quality customer service experience. During the transaction, your goal is to develop positive relationships with your customers. After you have determined that they are happy with your services, it is a good idea to pursue the referrals. When it comes to soliciting referrals, timing is important.

  6. Ask for referrals from your customers.

    You might not believe it, but only 11 percent of sales professionals ask clients for referrals. According to this data, the majority of salespeople are leaving money on the table. Most customers are generous, and they would happily share your good customer service with friends, family members and colleagues, but you have to ask. If your sales team waits for their customers to initiate a conversation about referrals, it might never happen. Teach your sales team how to integrate referral conversations into the sales process at the appropriate time.

  7. Adhere to strict deadlines with your customers.

    Sales professionals must create a sense of urgency with customers, or the deals will take much longer than necessary. Changing deadlines according to the whims of each customer makes sales professionals lose credibility. The old adage, where there is a will there is a way, applies here. If customers want to meet the obligations of a transaction by the deadline, they will definitely find a way to make it happen.

  8. Develop relationships with your customers.

    Without customer relationships, it can seem as if you are always in the vicious cycle of trying to ‘drum up’ new business. Your past customers can be an excellent source of new transactions for years to come. When your initial transaction is completed, you do not have to end the relationship at that point. Find creative ways to keep in contact with your customers even after you close the deal.

  9. Identify your customers’ needs and meet them.

    Sales professionals should never lose sight that the only purpose of the sales transaction is to help customers. Since transactions are closely associated with money, it is easy to lose sight of this fact. Create a list of questions that you can use to pinpoint exactly what the customer needs from the transaction. These questions will enable you to save time with customers and get to the heart of the matter. Once customers believe that you understand their predicament, they will work with you to meet their needs.

  10. Be able to distinguish a lead from a customer and act accordingly.

    Brace yourself for this disheartening fact. According to a report by Gleanster Research, only 25 percent of all leads are legitimate and ready to complete a transaction. Leads are potential transactions, and you cannot bank your future on potential. You should categorize your leads and create campaigns to interact with each type. For example, warm leads should have a different marketing strategy than cold calls. Time is a limited resource. It is best to use it wisely.

  11. Solicit targeted leads.

    A difficult lesson for many sales professionals to learn is that every person with a pulse will not be a customer. Since this is the case, sales professionals must create a strategic plan to attract customers that fit their target markets. One way to do this is to make good use of technology to find leads that could use your services. For example, credit professionals who are targeting people who are recovering from bankruptcy can use the public record to find people who fit this profile. Once you have found your potential customers, create a customized sales pitch that will appeal to each demographic.

  12. Learn to uncover each customer’s pain points.

    Television advertisements are known for pushing the viewer’s hot buttons in order to get them to take action. Fear of loss is the most common pain points that advertisers address. The primary mission of every sale professional, as emphasized in our negotiation training courses, is to find a customer’s pain points and use them to their advantage. Ron Shapiro said it best when he stated, “In order to get what you want, help them get what they want.” Sales professionals can start the search for pain points by asking closed-ended questions that only require a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. As the customer begins to feel comfortable, the salesperson should ask open-ended questions that will prompt customers to reveal additional information. Once the vital information is discovered, salespeople can use it to help their customers take action.

  13. Master the art of storytelling.

    When sales professionals meet with customers, they are usually armed with all sorts of facts and data. Although data may seem important, studies suggest that only 5 percent of people remember statistics after a presentation. However, an impressive 63 percent of people remember stories after a presentation. Sales professionals need to arm themselves with stories about relevant experiences of people who have received favorable results after using their products and services.

  14. Stand by your product or service and offer some type of guarantee.

    If your customers are willing to part with their cash, your company should at least be willing to offer a guarantee on the product or service. The guarantee can be a refund or replacement. If you are afraid of most of your customers taking you up on a money back guarantee policy, you should not be. Less than 10 percent of customers return items each year. A product or service guarantee provides your customers with peace of mind that lets them know that they are protected in the event that something goes awry.

  15. Find prospects who want the things you have to sell.

    The best way to navigate through water is to go with the current instead of swimming against it. In sales, going with the current means that if you are selling chicken, your leads are people who like chicken. If your prospects are vegan, then it will be nearly impossible to sell your chicken products to them. If you want to be certain that your clients need the items you are selling, you should pre-qualify them before you actively market to them.

  16. Develop compelling goals and an actionable plan.

    Successful people know where they want to go, and they develop an action plan to help them propel toward their destination. Goal-setting and planning are critical to any sales team’s success. According to a study conducted by Inc. Magazine, sales teams that set goals realized a 28 percent increase in sales. Teaching goal-setting strategies should be a mandatory part of every organization’s corporate sales training manual.

  17. Show customers proof that your product or service actually works.

    When you look at infomercials for weight loss products, they often show ‘before and after’ pictures of previous users of the products. They understand that new customers are motivated by social proof. Sales professionals should keep customer testimonials in a binder or in their laptops to share with customers. When customers are able to view the visible proof, they will be more likely to invest in your product or service.

  18. Maintain a positive mindset.

    This may seem like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised by the number of sales professionals who develop a jaded outlook because of sales slumps. Sales professionals must make every effort to remain positive in good and tough times. Developing a positive attitude has many benefits. Customers can tell when you are not in a good mood, and it will affect the transaction. A positive outlook helps sales professionals look for solutions to pending problems. When your sales professionals are positive, they will be able to handle stressful situations.

The above list isn’t just a collection of interesting tips—these are proven sales strategies that work. In this competitive business environment, sales professionals need to learn all the tricks of the trade in order to close a deal. By using these sales tactics that work, your sales team can learn to thrive in any economic climate.

4 Tips for Answering Influence Skills Questions in Interviews

We’ve all been on that interview where a prospective employer asks you to “Give me an example of a time when…” While building rapport is very important in the interview process, it often feels as though the interviewer is just reading off a list of prepared questions. Well, he or she most likely is.

But what does the prospective employer really want to know?

These questions, also known as competency-based or behavioral interview questions, are designed to discover how you may respond in real-world situations. They’re useful for helping hiring managers weed out applicants who look good on paper from the ones who understand how to influence others and deliver the results that they need.

In almost every field, from government to project management to customer service, these negotiation and influencing skills can have a strong impact on a worker’s success. Negotiation interview questions allow prospective employees to demonstrate where these negotiation and influencing skills have helped them in the past—situations that may not show up in the applicant’s cover letter or résumé.

Some examples of influence skills questions are:
  • Tell us about a major challenge you encountered in your current position. How did you adapt and overcome?
  • How do you handle projects that require a lot of initiative and team work?
  • What is your approach to dealing with an angry customer? Can you tell us about a specific time when you solved this type of situation?
  • How do you contribute to your organization’s long- and short-term goals?

Even though these types of negotiation interview questions style of interviewing have become increasingly popular, questions like these can still throw you for a loop. SNI offers a variety of courses to help develop the communication skills necessary to excel in situations like these, but we’ll start with the basics. Here are four tips for answering these influence skills questions that will help ensure you project competence and authority, highlighting your value from the moment you enter the room.

Reach for the STAR

The challenge with influence skills questions usually isn’t thinking of an example; it’s organizing your thoughts efficiently and communicating them powerfully. The STAR acronym outlines four steps to breaking down an influence skills question – no matter how complex it may seem. Keep this in mind when a hiring manager lobs one your way.

1. Situation. Describe the situation or context of the example. For instance, “We were far behind our projected sales goals and had lost two key members of our team.”

2. Task. What goal were you trying to meet? What obstacles were you trying to overcome? “We had three weeks to make up 50% of the difference.

3. Action you took. Take ownership and use “I” statements frequently. Remember, they are interviewing you – not your former coworkers. “I pulled some long hours running numbers and I discovered missed opportunities…” Also, specifics are crucial here. Try to use actual facts and figures instead of generalizations. “I analyzed three months of account revenue and found 30–40 instances of missed opportunities.”

4. Results. Again, using “I” statements and specific facts, sum it all up. Example: “I restructured the working hours of the staff to allow for more coverage during high-volume times, resulting in a 35% increase in our closing rate and an additional $500,000 in revenue. My department ended up exceeding our goal by $10,000–$15,000.”

Follow STAR and the other tips outlined above. The next time an interviewer tries to surprise you with an influence skills question, you’ll be more than prepared to demonstrate your strengths when it comes to getting results.

Facing Employee Retention Challenges in 2018

Employee retentionThe U.S. unemployment rate is low, and companies are cranking up recruiting efforts. Organizations will face a challenge in the year ahead to keep current employees from being lured away by companies offering attractive benefits and innovative perks. Businesses can attract and keep employees by improving digital efficiency, providing relevant feedback and matching people with their passions for improved job satisfaction.

Intentionally Endorse Culture

When employees believe in what their organization stands for, they are more loyal and engaged. Make creating a positive culture top priority when it comes to employee retention. Define the values most important to your brand and seek ways to communicate and practice those ideals throughout your organization.

Analyze and tweak every step of onboarding to highlight those values in company policies and practices. Make sure training gives specific steps for how to incorporate them in workplace interactions, not just with outside clients.

Develop Leadership

Supervisors often obtain their position because they were effective as lower-level employees. While they might have been the strongest member of their team, they don’t necessarily have the skills to be effective management.

One of the biggest reasons employees leave their job is because of conflict with a supervisor. Offer leadership training to provide the communication skills necessary to effective relationships with employees.

Prioritize Growth

Some employees change jobs because they see another company as an opportunity to get ahead. If your staff feels stuck in their current positions, they are likely to experience frustration and defeat. Instead of losing your talent to the competition, keep them when you do the following:

  • Offer performance-based bonuses or other perks to top performers.
  • Provide training and staff development that gives employees skills they need to be promoted.
  • Let staff members know the career opportunities available and the ways your company can help them reach their goals.
  • Allow employees to cross-train so they learn a wide range of skills.
Make Your Offer Better

Money isn’t everything, but employees are lured away when they can make more with your competitor. Make your compensation package as attractive as possible. Salaries and bonuses are a major part of what attracts talent, but other factors can be just as important. Health insurance, flexible scheduling, vacation time and retirement packages also play into an employee’s decision to stay with your organization or go somewhere else.

Know what the competition offers so your staff isn’t lured away by a few dollars. When Glassdoor analyzed job transitions, they found base pay that is 10 percent higher makes it 1.5 percent less likely employees will leave.

Invest in retaining your current workforce by creating a positive place in which they thrive. The productive work environment that results will improve your bottom line and attract top talent to add to your team.

4 Lessons We Can Learn From Famous Business Flops

Big businesses have seen their fair share of flops in PR, sales, and marketing. Some businesses are even forced to fold because of their embarrassing mistakes. Here are some of the most famous business fails throughout history and the lessons we can learn from them.

The Hamburger Mistake – Not Knowing Your Buyer

In 1996, McDonalds introduced its Arch Deluxe. The burger cost more than standard McDonalds’ fare and was aimed at “urban sophisticates.” This was outside McDonald’s target demographic. No one bought it, so McDonalds had to take the item off the menu.

The takeaway – If you try to sell to someone who doesn’t want what you’re selling, you’re destined for failure.

The Chip Mistake – Making Claims Too Good to Be True

In 1998, Frito-Lay marketed WOW! Chips. The chips were made with Olestra, a compound that made them fat free. However, Olestra’s molecules were too large to be digested properly. Customers experienced stomach cramps and diarrhea. The chips had to be taken off the market.

The Takeaway – Don’t get so excited about the good aspects of your product that you fail to conduct due diligence. Take your time, do your research, and make sure the data backs your claims.

Nintendo’s Mistake – Offering a Product Before It Was Ready

In 1995, Nintendo released Virtual Boy, new technology that was supposed to transport buyers into virtual reality. The tabletop game console was supposed to create the illusion of depth with stereoscopic 3D graphics. It didn’t. Games had low-resolution graphics, grainy images, and an often-monochromatic display.

The Takeaway – Know your target audience, and give them what they want, but be sure your product is up to the challenge first.

Facebook Home – Making Things Too Complicated

In 2013, Facebook launched an app for Android that makes Facebook’s cover feed the user’s home screen. The app was only compatible with a handful of devices and got negative reviews. Users reported Facebook Home gave them too many notifications and made it hard to see other apps. Critics said it used too much data and battery. Most people uninstalled it.

The Takeaway – Don’t over-provide. Start slow, and build from what works.

Don’t make the same mistake these big businesses did when they lost sight of their audience, rushed in with a product that wasn’t ready, or overcomplicated their sales efforts. Focus on your target market and audience and stay within that demographic. Eliminate unnecessary information and counterintuitive steps so these mistakes won’t happen to your business.

3 Ways to Warm Up Cold Leads in 2017

Cold calling and cold lead marketing still have their place, even in today’s technology driven world, but, with the digital revolution, there are some new tricks to the trade. We live in a consumer-driven economy, so they’re more ahead of the curve than they used to be. Cold lead marketing is now a combination of digital and traditional techniques, but it has the same end goal: leading a prospect one step further down the funnel. Here’s how to do it in 2017:

1.  Foresee and Derail Common Objections

Rejection is simply a part of the business, and most cold callers know how quickly rejection can derail a call, but doing some customer research can help you identify sources of common objections so you can tackle them before they arise.

Each company will handle an objection differently, but, no matter your response, practice it over and over. For example, a common objection is that a product or service is cost-prohibitive. Be prepared to offer alternate solutions, such as an exclusive promotion, instead of hanging up the phone.

2.   Leverage Multiple Channels

If you’re still exclusively cold-calling, it’s time to come to the 21st century. The digital revolution has opened up several channels for cold lead marketing: email campaigns, social media outlets, and even things like Adwords.

One of the best ways you can nurture a cold lead is by posting relevant evergreen content on your company blog. Evergreen content, like its name, is long-lasting and sustainable. It’s not breaking news or information about the latest trends, so it remains relevant for long past its publication date. This allows traffic to build over time.

To build evergreen content for your website, consider your customers best pain points and design your work around it. These are ideas that will stand the test of time and that you can share through different channels over time (email marketing, social media, etc).

3.  Prepare With Email

Cold calling can be a valuable tool in your sales arsenal, but you can warm up a cold call by sending a quick email. Create a compelling, personalized subject line, then offer a paragraph of content that addresses a customer’s pain point or business concern. Tell them you plan to call to discuss the issue further. Avoid being too “salesy” since you’re not really selling them anything at this point. Focus on providing them with VALUE at this point.

Cold lead marketing has become more sophisticated than ever thanks to today’s technology. Follow these tips to turn cold leads into loyal customers.