June 28, 2010

Would you like fries with that?

No matter what type of business you are in, the old truism stands: Nothing happens until someone sells something. You may be the best at what you do, but if you avoid selling, you are dead in the water. If prospecting isn't your idea of fun, and let's face it, who among us enjoys cold calling, maybe there is another way to boost your selling. 

Before you get a cold call panic attack, let's maximize each sale that comes in the door now. Fast food companies are the ultimate marketers of selling more than the customer plans to buy. "Would you like fries with that?" or, " Would you like to Super Size that for just a dollar more?" Why not apply the same philosophy to how you service your current clients? 

Keep them in the Family
Do you have related products or services to your core business? Begin today to offer them with every sale! Consider packaging or bundling products and services with different names (Silver, Gold, Platinum). Example: Siding installers can offer power washing. Call it what you want but offer an add-on of 3 annual power washings and free inspections. 

Get a Commitment
Do your customers need your services repeatedly? Example: Hair stylists... Offer an annual hair care package of a cut every 8 weeks, color every 16 weeks, nail service and a $50 retail credit for products. Discount it for advance purchase or throw in a labor only expense such as unlimited brow waxing.

There's a place down the road...
Could you expand your line of products or services. Here's an exercise: What type of referrals do your salespeople make most often to another business. Why pass revenue to someone else's cash register. If you are a window cleaning service, think about adding screen repair. If you are a travel agent, consider a house or pet sitting service.

It's that time of year
Check in with customers as they near the anniversary date of their last purchase. Your business may be seasonal, or the customer always calls you in October because that is when their birthday reminds them of your service, in any case, take advantage of the opportunity to call and check in. Even if it is just to "see how things are". It is a chance to tell them about new offerings that may be of interest.

Your current clients are the easiest path to larger revenues. Before you embark on a prospecting campaign, be certain that all staff with customer contact are looking for sales potential of current buyers and that they have a menu of offerings.

Good luck and get selling!,

June 22, 2010

Men in bras

In 1986, I was charged with establishing The Women's Business Council of a local chamber of commerce. As the staff member leading a group of member volunteers, it was my role to implement the member's vision of the Board of Directors directive to serve the needs of women in the business community. I was filled with a passion for celebrating modern empowered women. I came to my first meeting with the group armed with a folder full of workshop and speaker ideas on accessing capital, establishing gender-neutral employee policies, sexual harassment awareness programs, etc... All designed to provide cutting edge information and strategies to liberate us from the oppression of the patriarchal business culture. The group wanted to host a fashion show.  I wanted to cry.

"No!" I railed. I probably said something like "Over my dead body", but I can't be sure, it is a blur, a big pink blur. But I am sure that I tried something along the lines of..."Ladies, we have been given an opportunity to be taken seriously, to rise above the ranks of the secretarial pool, we must provide programming that not only serves women but sends a message to the entire community that women in business must to be taken SERIOUSLY!!!!! They stared at me. "Oh".

Keep in mind that my manila folder full of ideas was the ONLY accessory to my plain blue suit with sensible flat-heeled shoes and understated (if even existent) jewelry. We were dressing like men so that we would be treated like men. Those of us at the helm of the womens' business movement were denying our every feminine quality.

Twenty-five years later, I would host a fashion show without a second thought. In fact, Mary in the Morning and Marigold are the proud sponsors of the National Cherry Festival's Royal Pageant of Fashion . Whodathunkit? So what's changed? We can now be WOMEN instead of men in bras.

The worlds of feminism and fashion have always clashed. When I think of an over-the-top hard-core feminist I see a hairy arm-pitted woman in no make up with stringy, if not un-brushed hair. She's not prettying herself up for a man! Well, the message is she's not prettying up for ANYBODY! 

Nowadays, I'm perfectly comfortable expressing myself through fashion and beauty as a complement to what I have to contribute to a conversation. I see a fashion show as an opportunity to preview what is available in stores to help save me precious time when I need or want a new outfit. I am definitely not a fashion plate and consider myself to be fashion-challenged, so for me, a fashion show is like spell check, preventing me from making gaffes that would be potentially embarrassing to "Brand Mary".

I hope to see you at The Royal Pageant of Fashion!

June 15, 2010

Change Your Plans for Thursday!

Whatever your plans may be for Thursday morning, you will want to change them. At 7:30AM you want to be by a radio, tuned in to my conversation with Donna. Donna? Yes, Donna. She's going to say some things that may shock you, may make you uncomfortable, but I guarantee that you will be talking about her for the rest of the day.

Donna Estes Antebi has written a book, The Real Secrets Women Only Whisper, The 21st Century Woman's Guide to Success and Survival - including dirty tricks every woman needs to know! 

The book is not being released until this fall, but I have an advance copy. Now, keep in mind that I get a pile of books each and every week from publishers and publicists wanting to get their author on Mary in the Morning. I've become very discerning in deciding who I feels has something new, relevant and original to lend to my show. Since first picking up this book about a month ago, I've thought about it every single day. I've given it to friends to read and review, and despite her Keep This Book Away From Men warning on the cover, I've given it to men and listened to their ideas as well.. Everyone who reads it is somewhat shocked, somewhat jarred, but all are impacted.  

Last week I caught up with Donna by phone at her office in Los Angeles. We spoke for an hour or so about our adult sons and their choices of women, WEEDS (her term for younger women stealing married men and destroying families), the swinging pendulum and backlash of feminism on the role of men. It was fascinating conversation. 

She'll tell you to just stop being a bitch to your husband, why to sign a pre-nup, why not to sleep with men you wouldn't marry, how to be a Cleo instead of a Cougar,why it's okay for your man to dress badly, and why you will never be Oprah.

I will interview her on Wednesday afternoon, it will air on Thursday at 7:30am. We do have a few copies to give away to listeners, but don't expect me to give up mine!

June 8, 2010

What does Mary think of Dr. Laura

Last month YOU-FM, the home of Mary in in the Morning, switched to an all talk format. Will it be a ratings coup? A bomb? It will be a couple years before we know for sure, but the line-up of shows has certainly gotten some tongues wagging. I'm thoroughly enjoying the comments I'm getting from listeners.

The reaction so far has been completely random from love to hate, very little middle ground here. The prime time line-up includes the Queen of the Left, Stephanie Miller who airs immediately after Mary in the Morning; Dave Ramsey the Live Debt Free guru who brings Jesus into the conversation with callers quite comfortably; the acerbic Dr. Laura is there for your afternoon drive, followed by rightie-pants Jerry Doyle.

When I'm out and about I'm asking people their thoughts on the line-up, 90 percent of the time the conversation leads to: "Mary, what do YOU think of Dr. Laura?" This is a very polarizing question, or at least I think it is meant to be. If you say they you like Dr. Laura, people can fit you into a box full of assumptions (pro-life, anti-gay, women should stay home with the kids, blah, blah, blah) So here you have it: I love Dr. Laura for being Dr. Laura. I don't agree with many of her positions on how we humans run our lives, but I do respect and cheer for her decision to not be politically correct.

This woman has balls.  Dr. Laura filters her callers questions through a simple filter of right and wrong, black or white, her way the highway. She doesn't have the inclination or interest or time to sugar coat it. She gives her opinion. And that is why people continue to call and take the abuse. She makes the drama of our lives so simple. Do this, goodbye, Next caller....
Even when I'm disagreeing with her, calling her names, rolling my eyes at the radio, I am completely and thoroughly enjoying myself. I try to catch at least part of her show every day. We seem at times to be a nation of very stupid people, and Dr. Laura is one of the only brave voices out their.

Most importantly, Dr. Laura has been on the scene long enough that every caller to her show should know what to expect. She is so predictable that she couldn't possibly be accused of ambushing anybody. Simplistic? Yes. Heartless? Perhaps. Ambivalent? Never!

Tune in to Dr. Laura daily 3-6PM and let me know your thoughts on her show.