Thursday, February 28, 2008
In all my career I've learned there is one skill needed to achieve higher levels of success in all aspects of life, including personal and especially my professional life - That skill is selling. How many of you "hate" that word? And how many of you think that sales skills is a used car salesperson's learned trait? I cannot tell you how many times I hear negative comments about selling. "Oh, she's a good salesperson". "You better watch him because he can sell you anything"! There were many ocassions through-out my life that I was embarrassed to say that I was in sales! But over the years, I learned that sales is not a gimmick to get people to do what they don't want to do, but instead, it is a learned skill to relate to customers and help them (and myself) to better understand their needs and how best I could help them eliminate the pain those needs created. I attended many sales training classes and became a sales professional due to the trainings and classes.
One of the biggest lessons that I learned about selling is in order to advance in life, career and eventually run my own business, I must learn a working knowledge and develop a higher level of competency in sales skills.
Through most selling courses, I learned that first off, we are always selling! Even at home, your selling the idea to your children to do their homework and do well in school. Your also selling the idea to your wife "why" you need a new car or motorcycle. It may not be at a conscious level and you may fumble around trying to get what you want. Nevertheless, you're selling.
So, you see, selling and learned sales skills are very valuable in your business for helping customers and clients better define and achieve what they want. It's an art to help others gain clarity. And, if you help others obtain what they want, you, the business professional, gets what you want. Since we are always selling... let's get better at this critical communications skill.
We all have the potential to sell more effectively. It's simply a communication "giving and receiving" exchange with a win-win result. Both parties should walk away feeling good and feeling they indeed are better off for the exchange. Selling is not trickery or one up-manship!
To make the sales process easy to learn and accomplish, I like breaking it down in four step increments: 1) establish rapport and trust with the other party (client), (build a relationship) 2) ask qualifying or open-ended questions to gain significant information or data about their specific needs, 3) give or share the relevant benefits about your business solutions and how those benefits will ease their pain/needs, and 4) together, establish an agreement on the next step to take.
Here is an easy way to remember the effective selling and communication process:
1. Build a relationship
2. Find out what the customer's needs are (their pain) by asking questions,
3. Match your solution's benefits and how those benefits resolve the pain,
4. Determine together the next step.
Follow this selling process in any situation and you'll find yourself focusing on the client and their needs. It's simple and you'll both win when you follow this process.
Bottom line, whenever you are selling, you are simply asking questions and listening to the needs and wants of others and then offering a solution. Do not fear selling. And don't hate it. It is not difficult. And it's not rocket science. You might hate it because of a bad or negative "selling" experience when you felt pressured into doing something you didn't want to do! They were focusing on their own needs, not yours! And that my folks is not selling. That's pure selfishness and manipulation. You don't want to emulate that behavior.
When done right, selling is helpful. You are helping the client better define and understand what they want and need. You're helping them define their current situation, their ideal situation, and then bridge the gap by offering a solution. And this is noble!
Learning these skills and following the process, you will enhance your sales communication. By doing so, you help clients get what they want, you in turn get what you want - more success, fulfillment, and money. When done right, you both win!
Thank you for visiting. Carol @ Workingcaregiver.com
Thursday, February 7, 2008
More useful Internet and website tips to get your senior service noticed!
1. Focus on your specialty - How often do you go to a website and can’t seem to figure out what they are promoting or what they are asking the visitor to do? Try to focus your website to promoting one product or service, or asking the visitor to take an action. If you offer a variety of senior or aging products and services, you should have different websites for each offer or deliverable. Because family caregivers, seniors, and visitors search the internet using keywords and they are looking for one and only one thing. They will buy from the website that is delivering that one product or service because it appears to them that it is your specialty.
2. Get them to click by using a headline - Get visitors to pay attention your copy. Make headlines fascinating, your readers won’t mind reading a lot of small print to get details.
3. Make sure you put keywords in your content - Make sure your content has the keywords you’ve selected to include in your Meta Tags and with the keywords people are typing into search engines. What makes a search engine valuable is that it does a good job of taking searchers to websites that are exactly in line with their keyword searches. You want your site high on the list of organic search results listed for the keywords you’re using to bring people to your site.
More later on marketing! Carol @ WorkingCaregiver.com
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Over the past 2 years of learning the magical "how to's" of Internet marketing, I've made many mistakes. But out of those mistakes, I've learned critical improvements for WorkingCaregiver.com . There's more to learn but I'm proud to say that the Internet and it's search engines do not intimidate me like it did a year ago! Over the few years; I've attended classes on Internet marketing, cutting edge technology, and hired a consultant to help me learn their expertise!
I must admit, just because my background is high-tech does not make me technical. Like you, I had to learn the grueling ends and outs of the Internet. I offer you hope that you too can increase visibility and marketing know how when increasing your senior services visibility to family caregivers and seniors online.
You may be thinking - why is the Internet so important to my business? What I learned in researching elder care, 33% of all caregivers and seniors seek help through this mechanism. There are two other places they go when reaching out and you may already know the answer to that. But let's focus on the leader - Internet Search Engines!
Here's a few website design mistakes I learned upfront:
1. Having a Flash page as a home page or the first viewing page visitors come to when they click on your website address. While this looks appealing.. it's disaster for search engines. Why? Family caregivers and seniors who are perusing the web for information can’t stand them. The Flash page gets in the way of information. You may be losing more than half of the information seekers because they will leave your site before the flash page is loaded - they opt out of seeing your sales presentation because it's taking too long to load. And search engines don't like Flash pages. The Internet mammoth is only interested in content and in delivering information to seekers or searchers. I know for myself, when I come to a home page using Flash... I opt out by clicking "BACK".
2. Copy sells - Family caregivers don't have time to wade through a lot of graphics, click throughs to another page, and pictures. This all takes time to load. And we all know caregivers have limited amount of time. Besides, search engines love content. The more the better. And the more frequently added, the more it loves to visit the website. And as a senior service provider, you want frequent visits from search engines... the higher your ranking when searchers are looking for specific keywords.
Let me add that the average time a surfer spends on a Website is about six seconds. So, don’t waste their time by making the reader wait, and wait, and click and wait to read content they desparately need. Remember to place the article, in it's entirety, on one page, even if your reader must scroll to read everything. I've learned that by scrolling, readers will stay. They don't want to wait for a page to load and load.
3. Use more attention getting headlines - Your readers, family caregivers and seniors, will get pulled in and STAY (very imporant) if headlines are appealing and address their pain. Readers are looking for answers, tips, and tidbits of information to help make their lives easier and more balanced. And they're seeking help.. lots of help. In your headlines, give something 'Free", or "How to", or "Tips". Try a "Discount".
Consider these - they will drive and hold more seekers, searchers, and readers! After all... if the reader finds your copy or content rewarding, they will end up buying your service. The more value up front, the more return they perceive getting for the money spent on your service.
More on the Internet Marketing for Senior Services soon! Thank you for visiting.
Carol Marak at WorkingCaregiver.com - Carol@workingcaregiver.com
Sunday, December 30, 2007
More and more connections are being made on the World Wide Web. Many successful social networking sites are available for business professionals to connect online. Why? According to ThirdAge.com, a leading website for 50+ says this group is the fastest-growing market online. Between 2000 and 2007 alone, the online population of those over 50 is projected to increase from 17.7 to 35.4 million; that's a 100% increase. Every 7.7 seconds someone turns 50 and over the next 15 years, 50+ audience will grow by more than 50%, while the 18 to 40 age group will grow a mere 3%!
Senior Services Network's goal is to have access to more of these online visitors. Period. And if we continue networking face-to-face, think about how many contacts we lose. This trend is carrying over to the business world too. Did you know that in 2001 about 50% of business meetings were face-to-face? In 2004 it was little over 40%? The thought of high speed Internet connection is the driving factor behind more businss being done online.
We know the power of online dating! For myself, that's where I met my partner. An online dating service local to Austin, Texas. Online dating is often considered to be the preferred way to meet when looking for love. It's the looking for love in the right places! Many people use online dating because it's easy, efficient, safe, and confidential.
I believe business is going in that direction too for exactly those reasons. And I must admit... my schedule is filled and the thought of going to luncheons and face-to-face meetings, well, makes me quite anxious. However, I do enjoy meeting someone in person so that we put a face to a name. But that's not possible when I live in Texas and connect with someone in NYC or Dallas! I have confidence since my personal relationship with my partner was built online (initially), I believe the needed rapport and trust can be built for business relationships too.
What we hope to accomplish by building this virtual networking world is to put information about other Senior Service providers at your fingertips. You can choose to interact with them if you want, especially if you need their help or your client needs their assistance. And you aren't tied to a specific geography.
I've been working with a couple of applications in the last few weeks and determining which is best to use for our virtual group. When the time comes, I hope you join us in sharing leads and partnering with professionals across the U.S. to help your business grow and ultimately, help seniors and the family who cares for them.
In the meantime, I'd like to introduce you to several of our Austin and Texas providers that's now listed in our Texas Elder Care Directory/Senior Services Network:
John Berlet, CEO, MBA Finance & Member Financial Planners Association. His company, a Registered Investment Adviser Firm, based in Austin, Texas serves clients in Texas, Colorado, California, Ohio and New Jersey. They specialize in tax and retirement income planning as well as portfolio management. Licensed to provide investment advisory services in Texas only, licensed to provide insurance services in those other states in which we are licensed .We understand the needs of Baby Boomers and work exclusively with individuals in the retirement RED ZONE. We design, implement, and service custom plans for our clients in areas of accumulation and preservation with focus on distribution income planning. For clients seeking fee based managed accounts our BD affiliate is Shareholder Services and managed strategies are performed by Gradient Investment Group. Other asset classes available, including Life Settlements and Private placement Real Estate. Certified Senior Advisors (CSA) have supplemented their individual professional licenses, credentials and education with knowledge about aging and working with seniors. Know what those licenses, credentials and education signify. The CSA designation alone does not imply expertise in financial, health or social matters.
Learn more about John Berlet when listening to his podcast in the Texas Elder Care Directory by selecting Financial Services and Money Matters. Or visit http://workingcaregiver.blogspot.com/ - scroll down till you come to his profile under Boomers Advisory Group. I like doing business with John because he follows through in what he says he'll do for me. And John doesn't try to "sell" me on an investment - I trust he's looking out for my financial goals.
Contact John Berlet now and starting building your own virtual networking group ~ but soon, we will have a venue for business profiles with capability to partner and share information.
Wishing you the best,
Carol Marak at Workingcaregiver.com
Friday, December 14, 2007
Powerful Keys to Building A Senior Services Network in Austin, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio Texas, California, Michigan, Ohio
Laying the ground work. It's all about connecting to the right business professionals through-out Austin, Central Texas, Houston, Dallas Texas, and the U.S. Some professionals, believe their next senior or family caregiver client will come from a close tie, friendship, or strong relationship.. but I've learned over the years we also gain clients or leads from our acquaintances or those we might consider to be "weaker" contacts. Actually, what's surprised me over the years is this network of people have given me the "strongest" of referrals. What's important to remember is the flow of information. What I mean by that is the information about who you are, what you do, and how well you do it.. is sent out to business professtionals seeking your expertise.
Our stronger contacts, or friendships are close to us and share similar connections and network. Our weaker ones, however, are different from you on two levels:
1. Different from you as a person, in a different industry, another city or state.
2. Your weaker contacts have a network (those you may never have met personally) is different from your network and has access to another set of information flow - they have access to clients and other professionals you've never met.
For example, I received an email from a caregiver living in OH - now, tell me, do you think I know anyone up in OH? I know a lot of people here in Austin and some through-out Texas (but most are not strong ties). However, I've been networking via WorkingCaregiver.com through out the U.S. and have met several high quality Licensed Social Workers (Elder Care Dementia) and a wonderfully talented Geriatric Nurse up in OH. I was able to refer several family caregivers their way! And come to find out, the two of them shared the same local network! How's that for 6 degrees of separation?
That's what we're building here on Senior Services Network. It's wonderful to know that family caregivers and their loved ones can be referred to quality services, no matter what state they live in. This network and referral sharing is dependent on one thing and that's the amount of energy you put in to building relationships within the network. It really doesn't take much time and effort... just a little. And the rewards are so grand! I am enriched with all the new connections I've made online. And they continue to grow professionally in very rewarding ways.
The following keys (The Virtual Handshake) measure the relationship between you and other members in the network, whether you know them personally or not:
1. Character: Your integrity, what drives you - important to you, behavior (is it consistent?), trustworthiness - your network of business relationship can get a sense of that over time through the profile you build and what you share about yourself, goals, values, etc.
2. Knowledge, skills, interpersonal skills you've acquired and bring to their circle of network - what knowledge and skills you can share with them and their clients.
3. Relevance of the people, both acquaintances & strong relationships, what they bring to you to help you achieve your goals - remember, the acquaintances have a network of resources and help that can be directed your way.
4. Information you have about people in your network ~ what co-workers say about their work, making recommendations, etc.
5. Strength of the relationships - it's closeness can be measured in reciprocity and trust.
6. Number of people in your network, how many you know directly.
7. Diversity of the network - by geography, profession, and industry.
The keys character and competency (knowledge) are highest in ranking - for without character, no one wants to be around you. Incompetency breeds zero referrals.
Soon you will be invited to join our online Senior Services Network Community. You will then be able to search for other Senior Services Professionals based the service they provide!
Right now, I'm laying the ground.. preparing the way.. so that you have an understanding of network and how, when the ground is properly set, provides quality referrals for you. The seniors benefit too by knowing they can trust the professional. As Ralph Waldo Emerson says The whole value in the dime is knowing what to do with it.
Hoping you find value in our upcoming network. Please visit WorkingCaregiver.com and our Texas Elder Care Directory when seeking a quality business professional. If you know someone who needs immediate information on aging concerns, please direct them to 888-797-7806. Thank you for visiting. Carol
Thursday, December 6, 2007
Relating in Real Time with Family Caregivers in Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Texas and U.S.
"The Internet is a telephone system that's gotten uppity." Clifford Stoll, Author, Silicon Snake Oil
I found this quote that says it all in Virtual Handshake, a good book on building on-line business relationships.
Senior Services Network is about finding solutions for seniors and the family members, in Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Texas and nationally, who are helping aging relatives. What I find is family members searching for resources is you are difficult to locate! As I mentioned before, we don't typically live in the same city of our aging loved ones. Basically, we're in a crunch hoping the Internet can locate quality resources for us and our aging relatives.
It's our goal to simplify the referral process and build needed trust and a reliable referral system. While you may think that's a goliath task, Workingcaregiver.com and Senior Services Network believes it's worth the effort.
Why? Because the need is so great for family caregivers to find you! But we are tasked with trusting the reliability, quality, and trustworthiness of professionals we cannot look in the eye!
The Senior Services Network Community believes professionals like you can build quality business relationships with other senior service providers outside your city by exchanging information through our online network. This leverages your ability to build your business contacts, increase the number of your clients, and bring solutions to people who struggle with senior events!
It's all about Who you know!
It's a fact that businesses are thriving on virtual relationships. About 54 million Americans today are contributing their knowledge online through Websites, blogs, and sharing personal or business information.
We are here to create and build our professional network that helps solve senior's problems! The Senior Services Network creates and develops that network through our character, competence to do what we say we can do, relevance of the people we know, strengh of relationships, information you have about clients, number of people you know, and the diversity of our network. The Virtual Handshake
In our Senior Services Network we will build business relationships with more people, and maintain a social capital that today's professionals have lost.
Please join us in our Senior Services Network Community.
Working Caregiver opens new doors for building relationships online.
The Senior Services Business Network reaching out to senior servce providers in Austin, through-out all of Texas, entire U.S., and globally - making the traditional process of meeting new senior service providers online more efficient.
It's purpose is to build a network of same minded people, helping seniors solve problems, through sharing leads and referring clients.
Through my experience as a working family caregiver does not live in the same city of our elder loved one. Recently, I received a call from a man living in San Francisco who's deeply concerned about his aging grandmother in San Antonio. This is our world today. That's why connecting business professionals through out the U.S. and maybe globally, will help seniors and their family better.
Advertising increases awareness of products and services but personal referrals and recommendations are extremely influential in the decision to purchase. Our strong ties established on the Senior Services Network are built on reciprocity; you help one another through referrals. The stronger the ties you build yields strong companionship & security.
You'll have the opportunity to leverage your connections, helping one another and ourselves be more successful. The traditional way of meeting people, face-to-face can be extremely inefficient & limited geographically. You are locked in meeting people connected in your immediate network group Building online business relationships introduces you to others you may not have the opportunity to meet before, and takes less time to build connections (no travel time and face-to-face meetings, etc. which can eat up a lot of your valuable time).
We'll help you compress your business relationship development process. In addition to your profile on our Senior Service Network directory, the Texas Elder care directory, you will be profiled on our business network site. You can participate in our online forums, blogs, etc., if you're a member of our directory.
The new business contacts, senior clients, and anyone else visiting your profile (online at Senior Services Network business group) will have a richer impression of your business and how best you can serve them.
We invite you to join! In a few days, you'll have access to begin networking on our online business network. There you can set up your own profile and begin exchanging emails and information about your business with like minded professionals serving seniors.
Thank you. Carol @ WorkingCaregiver.com - Reminder: If you have a senior client or family member concerned about aging issues, direct them to our toll free number 888-797-7806.