Saturday, May 29, 2010

Our Newest Trend Setter Package Client

Upward Trend is thrilled to announce our latest Trend Setter Package client, Corby's Collision, Inc. of Vacaville. Paul Troutner is the owner. We should have their new website and blog up within two weeks.

Since we announced the Trend Setter Package in April, here is the growing list of clients with this valuable service:
  • Corby's Collision, Vacaville
  • Talk of the Town Salon, Vacaville
  • Duya, Inc., Vacaville
  • Van Hatten Writing Services, Vacaville
  • Green Valley Floral, Fairfield
  • North Bay Truck Body, Fairfield
  • Vaca Valley Truck & SUV, Vacaville
  • Tamara Hansen, Realtor, Vacaville
  • ServPro of Fairfield
  • Grindco Concrete Grinding, Sacramento
  • North Bay Truck Center, Fairfield
  • Fairfield Chevrolet-Isuzu Truck, Fairfield
  • Queen of Marketing, Vacaville
Find out more about this awesome and very inexpensive package of services, see our new website at

Practice Is Just As Valuable As The Sale--Or Is It More? - Part 2

A couple days ago, I posted an article about practice being as important, or even more important than making the sale. I didn't intend to write a supplemental piece about this, but today changed my mind.

Today I realized so clearly how valuable practice can be, and is and how much better practice is than the sale. Today, I arrived. I arrived at the place that every sales person either wants or needs to be, or they should at the very least consider strongly. I arrived at full confidence in what I am doing.

Oh, I've arrived there before in other fields of endeavor, but today I arrived as an Internet Marketer and Consultant. Now, to put that into perspective, in September of 2007, I was completely unknowledgeable about websites, how to build them, what they were about, how they worked. In October of 2007, I built my first website using an online builder. It was terrible. But I kept doing it and they got better. The second website was in January of 2008. What's interesting about that is that I decided in that short time to go into business in that field. I know, that is insane. Knowing so little about something and taking that plunge.

But here's the deal. I got better and tried lots of things and learned and learned and read, attended seminars and learned. Even in March of 2008, neither my partner nor I even knew what a blog was. Scary. Now we build blogs like crazy. Weird. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization is another strange thing. What does that mean? Now we do this without even thinking of it that way. And, so much more.

Our focus was on one thing: providing valuable service to our clients. That is what we have done and the rest has come in regular doses to the point that today I decided that I have arrived at the level of full confidence in what I do in this field. I can even talk with people with far more experience than I and even occasionally teach them something. It is a great place to be.

And, get this--I can't write one line (even a short one) of HTML code, or JAVA or any other coffee brand. It matters not because I don't need to. Because the Internet was a complicated thing in my head, I needed to demystify it for myself so that I could understand how to make use of it. That very demystification is what we use to help our clients understand it as well. We're not web guys, but sales guys who use web tools to help businesses grow their business. If we don't know something, it's easy enough to find out.

Now, I can go talk to anyone I want and feel confident that it will not only make sense, but also appeal to their better instincts. This is tough to do without confidence and this confidence has only come from the practice. It is far more valuable than the sale. That confidence creates and stimulates enterprise. It builds companies. The sale is a side benefit.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Practice Is Just As Valuable As The Sale

"Practice is just as valuable as a sale.
The sale will make you a living;
The skill will make you a fortune."

-- Jim Rohn

I have loved this quote from my mentor, Jim Rohn since I first heard it in 1981. I love the whole concept of it and how he makes the journey even more valuable than the destination. I agree wholeheartedly that it is the practice, the journey, the living of it daily that makes the whole worthwhile.

I know a lot of sales people who work somewhere and move to another and another and they never seem to grow--matter of fact, it seems like they go backward a few steps. It's not a career, it's just a job, sort of like someone being hired out on an hourly basis, or job by job basis. There's no accumulation factor. It doesn't make sense to me to spend the time on the sale or destination and ignoring the value of the skill accumulation or the value of the journey.

Wouldn't it be different to have gathered knowledge and skills that can be used in different ways later, like writing a book about the journey, using the skills gained to turn it into a whole new career either in your own business or working in a different company or industry. Then you'd be moving up to gather even more experience and skills toward the next twist in the road.

None of this would happen if you didn't practice, learn, and accumulate skills, knowledge, stories, wisdom. What a loss it would be to not take advantage of those things. Those opportunities could be worth millions in time, compared with thousands not paying attention to what is important.

Learn to value the practice. Learn to value the journey. Destinations are good, but even once you get to a destination, you must begin moving toward another. By learning to value practice and the journey, the destinations will be improving over time rather than regressing or maintaining the status quo.

This is not only great advice for an individual, but also a company.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Some Business Investments Can Have A Huge Payoff--Later.

"If I had eight hours to cut down a big tree,
I'd spend 6 hours sharpening the axe."

-- Abraham Lincoln

I absolutely love this quote and it speaks many things to me so succinctly. It speaks about preparation. If you are in sales and working on some big clients, spending three fourths of your time in preparing will generally have a huge payoff. Lawyers do that all the time. Their court time is so small in comparison with their preparation time and that is what makes all the difference in the outcome.

If you're growing your business, much of the time you spend will be not directly earning money or profit, but it can be extremely beneficial in influence which will ultimately lead to much greater income and profit. Some of that can be done through networking and this can be done in many ways, such as through local Chamber of Commerce, Business Networking Groups like LeTip, BNI and hundreds of others, at trade shows and events, through your website, blog, newsletter and other Internet publications. It is this last one that I want to deal with in this piece.

Not having a website is like not owning a phone. It is a must. It should be effective and it should not stand alone if you want it to work for you. A blog. A blog is just a website for the most up to date content and it allows you to show even more personality in your business and have some fun and gain influence. An email newsletter is a perfect way to stay in touch with all of your current clients and prospects. You can gain more influence to people who find you through others, so it is also a great networking tool. You can post it on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites as well to let more people become familiar with it. These tools, when working together are extremely powerful and beneficial.

The website needs to be current and constantly expanding. Shoot for a page a month to continually add to it. Everything is searchable by search engines, but if it isn't on your website, it cannot be searched. The blog need not be updated daily, but should have 5-10 posts per month to be more effective. Everything on a blog is also searchable. The newsletter list should be growing every week. You may only send it once a month, but your database should be constantly growing.

Through time, all of these products become a symphony of activity on the Internet, all of them working together like a well-oiled machine directed toward your business enterprises and your continuing success and growth. It is the consistency of these activities that pays off big. Doing these for a short time or one time is of extremely little value in comparison. Your web properties will continue to give you influence as they are expanded and continually improved. 

We recommend that you find a service that will help you take care of insuring these things are all done well and done on a consistent basis. This is one of our specialties. Our Trend Setter Package recently announced has completely revamped our Internet services at a fraction of the previous cost. Now every business can afford the Internet presence of a much larger business. And the services mentioned above is only a part. There is much more that will get you up in the search engines, along with social networking. Visit our new website at for more information.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

On Site Events and How To Make Them Work

"Nothing draws a crowd like a crowd."

-- P. T. Barnum

Having participated in many on site events and done them myself, I have learned many things about how to make them work. I learned mostly from watching what I did and what others did and thought about how to improve that. As an example, I once sent 10,000 flyers out for an event that drew 50 people and most of them were not among the 10,000 addressees. Sad affair, and I had the factory rep there too. I went all out to have the event staged, but it didn't help.

Then, I have seen successful events and paid close attention to the differences in timing, the day of the week, the hours and you name it. So I learned a lot of things by seeing them done well too.

Here's some questions I like to ask those who are planning an event:

  • Why? What is your objective in having this event?
  • If it were a perfect event, after it was all over, what would it look like or what would have transpired or been achieved?
  • Are you willing to spend a bit more to have a much better result?
  • Who is your target customer? Who are you doing this for?
  • Think about how busy you are all day long. What would make you really want to spend the time and energy to attend your own event? In other words, what's in it for them? How will it benefit them?
Here's some typical advice I offer:

  • Get the biggest draw you can afford to help get people there, even if they are not your target audience. This may be a monster truck, race car, clown show, 100 lbs of barbecued tri-tip, a football star, some celebrity, and more. Something very popular would be best. An open house at your store is a very weak draw typically. The draw is the key!
  • Marketing the event. If you have event marketing people in your area, hiring them can really help you get more people there. Set your advertising to tease 2 to 4 weeks out and then stronger near the event. Target your key clients through telephone, email and personal contact. If you have a newsletter, advertise the event 8 to 10 weeks out. Consider radio remote broadcast. If you're a member of the local Chamber of Commerce, you can advertise at their events and through their venues, and more. Get the word out often and as effectively as possible.
  • If you're serving food and I hope you are, then spend a little more and make it quality food. Cooking hamburgers and hot dogs yourself is not a draw, and it is not quality--it's cheap. My best advice for a successful event is to have it catered where they come and cook and serve and clean up the mess and you don't need to be involved in it. Delegate. Hire it out and get a good one. If the budget is too small, I highly recommend not having the event.
  • Have music. I highly recommend that you hire a sound person and/or DJ to take care of this by bringing good equipment, taking care of the music and having a quality mike to give announcements so everyone can hear them. This is the point most events miss in my experience and I think it is critical. You want to be able to communicate with a crowd, since that's what you are going to draw. Upbeat music is energizing, soothing and fills the empty space. Not too loud, not too soft, and the sound people know how to do that best. It is very important part of a great event.
  • Vendors. There's not much worse than inviting vendors to an event--especially if you are asking them to pay for the privilege and/or bring raffle prizes--and then have a poorly attended event. Wasting your own time is one thing, but wasting all your vendors is another. You will need to insure your event is set up in such a way that the vendors are centrally located so that people at the event are drawn to the vendors, or that tickets are issued where each vendor has to sign off in order to qualify for the raffle, or something like that. Use your sound system to make announcements regularly.
  • Insure that things start on time and move smoothly. Timing of things must be orchestrated by someone, so make sure someone is assigned that duty.
  • Raffles. Calling numbers and having people not be there is not good. Have raffles throughout the period of the event so there is always something going on. Have a lot of raffle prizes even if many of them are minor prizes or logo-branded give aways. I recommend about every 15 minutes and stay on track with the time. If people must be present to win, you might want to have the raffles in a time frame where most everyone is there, so it won't be at the end of the event.
  • If you're having various presentations, announce those to help direct people to the right place at the right time.
  • If it is a large event, consider having some entertainment. This could be an artist drawing caricatures of people, walking magician doing little tricks moving around, clowns with balloons if there are younger ones, musicians, and such.
  • Think of it this way: the event should be full throttle from start to finish without stopping or slowing down. As soon as the event opens, it is full on, music, food smells, events going on, entertainment, vendors, announcements, raffles, etc. and keep it going right up to the final bell. Most events I have seen have peaks and valleys and more valleys than peaks. The best events peak throughout. This requires thought, planning, delegation and care. It will be worth it.
Here's a few optional thoughts:

  • It is a great idea to filter people through an introduction area. You might even then get their information including company, name, email, etc. for follow up. It is also a great idea to have name tags so people can network with each other more effectively, or communicate more effectively. If you do this, it must be able to handle the flow of people so that there isn't a line. Nobody likes waiting in line and especially to just get in to your event.
  • Another great idea is to filter people through an exit area. This is a perfect time to give them some of your materials, handouts, parting gifts, etc. and to quickly thank them for taking the time to come to your event.
  • Having your people in full force and mingling throughout the crowd is important and will help the event perhaps be more effective for you. Your people can make sure things are flowing and that people are having a good time and answering any questions that they may have, such as where the bathroom is, etc. Speaking of bathrooms, make sure that is covered in such a way as people can be comfortable.
  • Have lots of good drinks available and ideally in several areas so people can partake as they desire.
  • Usually, the longer they stay, the more opportunity you have, so a boring event or poorly run event will cause people to leave quickly, whereas a well run event, people stay sometimes throughout the time.
  • Lunch time is a very good time where people can legitimately leave their work for a time during the week. 11am to 2pm is a good window of time. That's three hours to stay at peak performance and serving food the whole time, or you could state that food will be served from 11:30am to 1pm while the whole event is 11am to 2pm, although, I think having food the entire event time is best. Many times when the food goes, so do the people and then your event will fizzle from there.
  • Make sure there is adequate and effective parking. You might even consider a valet service or if it is a large event a shuttle of some kind.
  • Weekend events would be best only for general public things and you will need a strong draw. For businesses, I think the weekday is best and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are the best days of the week from my experience.
  • Breakfast events are much harder to do well. Dinner events are great too, but they will require a bit more budget and more entertainment and other unique draws.
  • Have vendors please stay to the end. As soon as they start packing, the event is over. Keep it full on start to end.
  • Partner with others when you can. One commercial truck dealership partnered with a Lowe's Home Improvement store and used their parking lot a half a block from the dealership. This allowed Lowe's people to have give aways, and supply vendors for some associated items and to be an effective partner. That worked really well and they usually have a great event there.
  • Follow up and follow through. Send thank you's to all vendors and partners and your own team members for their help and their valuable time and skills. Follow through with quotes and other activities that you created at the event.
Good events require good planning, attention to detail, and orderly execution, along with a team assigned to the various tasks necessary. This is an old adage, but ever true: If you're going to do it, do it well. I hope some of this may be helpful and I wish that your next event is the best event!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Chuck The Plan. Pull Out The Dream.

"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice.
But, in practice, there is."

-- Jan L.A. van de Snepscheut

The Crystal Performance Ball is a business game that I've seen played widely. It entails creating business plans with lots of charts and graphs of projected revenues from the varied revenue streams which comes from the product spin-offs as the successful core is manipulated by the strategic marketing department by increasing the market share and expanding the demographic to encompass the ever widening advantages from the incentive based sales team.

With this empowered perspective, the sales management team has instituted a projection system and requirement for the sales staff to tell management what will be sold to whom over the specified period so that sales management can instruct production what to produce. Once produced, the quality control department will meet to determine quality issues and their solutions for the service department to entertain after the customer has taken delivery and made the second complaint. . .

Of course in theory this makes sense (well, sort of. . .) and though we practice it in our theory, it is the actual practice that has us hiding under the covers. And, it's no wonder. This is all so much crap. All for someone elses ego, I suppose, but not for a real purpose that I can think of. In all the years I've had to deal with this stuff, it has been a total waste of good energy and time. It is all so unnecessary and extremely ineffective.

Chuck the plan. Pull out the dream. Draw the dream and speak the dream for the team. Live the dream. Be the dream. Share the dream. Keep the dream alive. Without the dream, it is a hollow machine.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Marketing and Innovation Produce Results

"Because its purpose is to create a customer, the business has two basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs." -- Peter Drucker

I was looking at some quotes to use in the CTS Daily Inspirations Blog and ran across this great quote from the management guru, Peter Drucker. It got me thinking about that and businesses that I have worked for and worked with over a long period of time. Here are the thoughts as a result.

I love this quote because I also agree with it; however, almost every business that I have been associated with missed one of the critical two points: innovation.

All of them got the first part--marketing--well, sort of. They talked like they were all about marketing. But their marketing was stereotypical and stale. They might use brochures, flyers, specials, newspaper advertising, specialty publication ads, yellow pages. . . you know. . . marketing--or is it? Some would "target market" and others would "mass market," all in the hopes of increased sales and revenue. Same old stuff which didn't much make a difference in the past and maybe they just didn't do it enough. You know, repetition is the name of the game and all that.

To me, marketing is so much simpler, yet so broad in scope. In my experience, marketing is fastened at the hip to innovation and when innovation is lacking, marketing goes down with it. I think it is innovation that makes all the difference. Just think Apple: iphone, iride, ipod, ipad, irun, ijogg, ihear, ido. Yes. Innovation.

Okay, so you're not Apple and not Steve Jobs. Maybe you're a body company or a truck dealership. So, you hire an outside sales team and go out and tell the story over and over. Take a demo and show it off, tell them about the specials you got going on and what the incentives are for them to buy today. Boring. Of course, you already know that if Apple did that, they would be an Apple Core. It is the innovation that completely revived this once headed for the heap company. And, there's no question about Steve Jobs being a strong leader, but that can be done in your company too. If you really want to and you start seeing a different picture.

Do you think Apple salespeople have a hard time selling an iPad? or an iPhone? It's a piece of cake in the sales world, but only because of the innovative quality of the product. They have some nice marketing too, but again, that goes along for the ride. In a sluggish economy, their innovation is driving serious profits and new heights. What about your company? Or my company?

As a former 10-year body rep, I can tell you without a doubt that innovation would make all the difference. There is absolutely nothing as valuable in the marketplace as enthusiasm and enthusiasm is driven by innovation. Going out and telling the same tired story is torture--for the salesperson and the prospect. Repackaging the same old stuff is nice, but it is the same old stuff still. All that's left is cutting the price. What we need is new stuff: new solutions, new design, new materials, new effectiveness, new colors, new textures, newer and cooler and greener--in other words, innovation.

The same would be true of truck dealerships. Mass marketing has long lost its results. As a truck dealer, you don't control the chassis design, or body design, but here's the good news: you control everything else! How those two things are combined can be innovative. How the services are offered and performed need not be old, boring, same. They can be innovative services. There are a wealth of ways that innovation can take place and therefore drive marketing to new places in every dealership in the country.

No, you're not Apple, or Microsoft, or whomever is the Hot One at the moment, but you certainly qualify as a candidate, and so do I.