Author Archives:Bill Haman

Ten Ways to Close the Sale

1)      Ask for the order…70% of salespeople do not.

2)    Always give the customer/client a choice of two different product/services, either one of which is fine with you. Otherwise their decision is between yes and no.

3)      Always be closing with small trial closes.

4)      The Take-a-way…”Probably not right for you, even if most of your competitors are benefiting from it. No, there may be something else…”

5)     The Ben Franklin close…List the benefits on the left and the objections on the right…Obviously you will help them think of the benefits but not the objections.

6)      The Assumptive Close…Assume at all times that they are going to buy, answer all their questions, start “processing” the order, watch for buying signals and ask how many they want.

7)      Get agreement…ask a series of questions that that evoke a positive response. It is hard to say no after agreeing with everything.

8)      Get a commitment…”Oh, price is the problem? If I could get an additional 10% off for you, would you go ahead with it? Great, initial here and I will see what I can do for you”.

9)      Agree with their objection…”You are right. I felt that way as did many of our customers. However, When they compared the true value…”

10)   “Forgive me, I have failed. I know that you are not going to buy today. So, please help me. Where did I go wrong? If I had done my job, you would be as happy as all our other customers…So, if it wasn’t for the color, you would have bought today…So you are saying that if I could get that color in here tomorrow…”

Key Elements of a Sales Agreement

It is vital that a written agreement be established spelling out specific services to be provided, when, at what price and other pertinent terms. This written document initially can be the Sales Proposal and then be modified to be the Sales Agreement /Contract. The key elements of the Sales Agreement are:

  1. Contact information including company name, address, phone and fax numbers, e-mail address and web site.
  2. Marketing information such as: “Bonded and Insured”,“Work Guaranteed”, “Fully Covered by Workman’s Compensation, etc.
  3. Proposal Number
  4. Proposal submitted to: Name and address of Client
  5. Detailed description of goods and services to be supplied:
    –Include any special conditions such as services to provided by the client (water, power, access, etc…)
    –Who will obtain and provide licenses and permits.
    –When the work will be performed and its duration.
    –Specify cleanup to be provided and equipment to be removed
    –Other…
  6. Pricing and payment terms
  7. List any specific items that are excluded.
  8. The level of client support/participation to be provided.
  9. Statement that any changes/additions to the specific items listed are subject to a negotiated price change.
  10. Name, title and signature of proposer, including date of proposal.
  11. Term for which the proposal remains valid (10, 30, 60 days)
  12. Sgnature of buyer and date of acceptance
  13. Any notices of the right of the seller or buyer to cancel the proposal or agreement (such as: the buyer’s property becomes unavailable (fire, flood, destruction, etc..)

The original of the signed agreement is retained by the Seller and a signed copy is given to the buyer.

Improve Your Chances For a Loan

Getting a small business loan is not easy. Here are some tips from Robert Seiwert that offer a glimpse into how bankers think.

1. Get to know bankers at several institutions. Find out which banks in your area make loans to firms like yours. Some banks specialize in business loans; others don’t. Some specialize in lending only to certain industries. The best way to find out is to simply ask the bank.

2. Briefly summarize your firm’s value proposition and your strategic plan. If you can’t clearly articulate how you’ll effectively compete in your market, the chances of getting a loan are slim. Develop a business plan with three scenarios: Best case, most likely case, and worst case. Be prepared to discuss in detail the assumptions behind those scenarios.

3. Think like a banker. Understand and be realistic about the risks of operating in your industry. Share your ideas on how to mitigate those risks. The bank will do a risk analysis anyway.

4. Develop at least two ways to repay the loan. Bankers look for primary and secondary loan repayment sources. The more certainty that the banker has about your ability to make payments, the more likely it is you’ll get the loan plus the best interest rate.

5. Don’t ask for loans that should be funded with equity injections. If your needs are best met by an angel investor, that’s where you should look for money.

6. Anticipate questions. The bank will want to know how you plan to use the money, how reliable your financial information is, what kind of credit you have and why you really need to borrow.

To find small business lenders, visit the small business loans section at Business.com.

Request a meeting with a SCORE mentor. In Cincinnati call (513) 684-6812.

Tips for an Effective Home-Based Business


You cannot operate a business at home successfully if you try to do it in a casual, ill-planned way.
First, find out if you are suited for a business in a domestic environment. To be successful, you must treat your business as a bona-fide business. A solid plan, with dedicated execution of that plan. A SCORE counselor can assist you. In Cincinnati call (513) 684-2812.

Advantages & Disadvantages

  • You are in control of your working hours and free from someone telling you what to do. However, you can easily fall into the habit of working too much or too little , with dire results for you mentally and economically, as well as your family relationship.
  • You gain privacy and freedom to operate that cannot be found in a business office . However, you may not be able to find these at home if you have a family buzzing around your work space or you allow other distractions. Discuss this seriously with your family.
  • The space that you will set aside should be dedicated strictly for business. Can you make this happen?
  • Overhead costs are relatively low and costs for commuting , lunch, clothing, daycare, etc., can be reduced.
  • You can save considerable tax dollars by applying IRS-approved deductions for space and expenses used exclusively for business.
  • You are readily available for family needs. However, mixing time for business with time for domestic responsibilities can cause conflicts.

In sum, working at home could result in many advantages, but you will have to exercise personal discipline and have family cooperation.

A Plan Is Necessary

Because your business is home-based, it does not eliminate the need for a business plan to improve your chances of success. This involves such factors as form of organization, an operations plan, financing, marketing, accounting, licenses and permits, etc.

Three Quick Steps to Finding New Customers

Step1: Determine unique characteristics, approximate size and location of your trading area. How far will your average customer travel? The Statistics Family Expenditure Survey can identify what the average household spends on goods and services. Population forecasts for your area and planned construction are available. The internet can help identify names of your competitors.Your Chamber of Commerce and local business publication can give you insights.

Step 2: Get out and study your competitors . Visit locations where their product is offered. Analyze the location, customer volumes, traffic patterns, hours of operation, busy periods, prices, quality of their goods and services, product or services offered, promotional techniques, positioning and handouts. If feasible, talk to customers and staff. You may want to contact a similar business in another city.

Step 3: Use your research to estimate your sales on a monthly basis for your first year. The basis for your sales forecast can be the average monthly sales of a similar-sized competitor’s operations operating in a similar market. Make adjustments for this year’s predicted trend for the industry. Be sure to reduce your figures by about 50% a month for the start-up months. Consider how well your competition satisfies the needs of potential customers in your area. Determine how you fit into this picture and what niche you plan to fill. Will you offer a better location, convenience, a better price, later hours, better quality, better service? Consider population and economic growth in your area. Using your research, make an educated guess at market growth over time and your market share. If possible, determine the number of customers you need to reach your sales goals..

Ask SCORE for help. In Cincinnati phone (513) 684-2812.

Passionate about Sales?

Do you know what to look for in a sales person? Most sales applicants can present a lot of reasons why they will be great for you . Suggest you might be hiring on straight commission and see what they say… If they are from your industry, they will tell you about all the business that they can bring with them. Usually you can discount that by 50-100%.

Do your sales people have a passion for sales?

If your sales people do not… Rule #1 : Suggest that they seek employment elsewhere. Rule #2: Replace them them with people that love sales. If a sales person does not love selling, they will rarely bring you sales success. You do not want “order takers.” Unsuccessful sales people will give you reasons why customers will not buy from your company. Rarely will they say that they really do not know their product or are not really putting in the necessary time or effort. If they are not doing the job, shame on them and shame on you. You cannot afford to keep them on the “if come.”

Take a long hard look

Do you know what to look for in a sales person? Most sales applicants can present a lot of reasons why they will be great for you . Suggest you might be hiring on straight commission and see what they say… If they are from your industry, they will tell you about all the business that they can bring with them. Usually you can discount that by 50-100%.

Some companies prefer little or no experience, so they can train the new sales people properly and do not have to overcome bad sales habits.. . Because an applicant has been with 5 other companies does not mean good experience, it usually means failure.

The best sales people

Having trained & worked with 1,000s of sales people, I have noted 4 traits that the most successful have in common:

  1. They love selling. (are passionate about)
  2. They have worked very hard to know everything about what they are selling (this is crucial).
  3. They are enthusiastic and optimistic.
  4. They put in a lot more time and effort than the “average” sales person (who sells far less).

Note: None of the above mentioned were “born sales people.”

For help with your sales organization, contact SCORE.org or your local chapter of SCORE.

Bill Haman, SCORE Cincinnati

Find Help and Network Online

Jarie Bolander, SCORE Counselor, shared the following:

One of the wonderful things about the Internet is the communities it can build. No other venue connects so many people together, so rapidly. One such community is http://answers.onstartups.com. This site is a new community of entrepreneurs that come together to help each other. Through asking and answering questions, users gain reputation points. As these points accumulate, other features of the site unlock. The community really does have control of the content since the overall moderators end up being the users with the most reputation points.

Another nice feature about this site is that it attracts all sorts of like minded entrepreneurs. Some are newbies while others are seasoned veterans. Much like SCORE.ORG, the all volunteer group answers questions for the good of the community rather than for any monetary gain . This naturally leads to many different perspectives, ideas and advice for the budding entrepreneur.

The site presents the collective knowledge of talented people and a wealth of information. When you add the voting , you get qualified answers that the group feels is the most worthy. This collective wisdom is a wonderful resource for entrepreneurs .

The more information that you have, the better decision you will make.

The next time you have a question about start ups or entrepreneurship, first go to SCORE.ORG and then try http://answers.onstartups.com It’s a great way to prepare for your SCORE counseling session by getting some of your questions answered.

How Venture Capital Can Help Your Business


Venture capitalist
is a broad term used to describe investors that make “high risk” investments in young companies. These investments typically involve equity (ownership) positions, but are often combined with debt.

Why would I seek venture capital for my company? If you are experiencing or expecting rapid growth, you may need financing that exceeds your personal resources and is more than you can borrow from traditional lending institutions.

What does it cost? It’s not unusual for a VC firm to target a return of five times their initial investment over the expected life of their investment. They make most of this money when they sell their investment, and they like an “exit strategy” that materializes within 3 – 7 years.

Would my company be attractive to venture capitalists? VC’s look for:
– product or service that is unique and has high growth potential –
– product or service that is “scalable” in that revenues can be quickly expanded
– management team that is “coachable”
– product or service has been proven as a concept and there is a market.

How would I choose a venture capital partner? Look for those with experience in your industry, have contacts that could help you, etc. Remember that the VC will likely have a presence on your Board. Be sure that you’ll work well together and that they will be in a position to add value. You should also check on the reputation of the VC.

Sales: Professional Checklist

Bill HamanFrom the SCORE Ask an Expert Blog:

22 Points for Sales Success

People buy from people they like and respect. What they expect of you:

  • Product knowledge-customers want to do business with one who knows their products.
  • Look sharp, be sharp-dress in a professional manner. Look successful.
  • Know your customer-develop a profile of your customer. Customer relationship software can be very useful.
  • Be prompt, confirm meetings, and always be early. This goes for returned phone calls. Customers respect sales people that get back to them right away.
  • Take rejection in a professional manner. Ask why you failed. Next time you may be the winner.
  • Always be prepared. Being prepared shows your customer that they are dealing with a professional.
  • Know the players in your industry and maintain contact with fellow professionals.
  • Always give the second or third effort to make sure your customer has total satisfaction with the service you provide.
  • Always ask for the order. Most salespeople are afraid to ask.
  • Your sales presentation should be well prepared and to the point. You are there to get an order. Timing is everything.
  • Know when to listen. You learn more by listening than by talking.
  • Always send a thank you. A follow up note is professional.
  • Always be a fighter for your customer.
  • Always be honest and truthful.
  • Know your competitors thoroughly. Know their weaknesses and strengths.
  • Never take anything for granted.
  • Body language should be watched closely. There is always a message given.
  • Have a plan and work your plan.
  • Paper work is part of your responsibility. Records, order entry, credit collection. You have to be a total salesman.
  • Know when to shut up. If they are ready to buy, do not talk your way out of the sale.
  • Make time for your family. Stay in good condition. A tired horse never runs a good race.
  • Attend a SCORE sales seminar and learn from the pros.

Bill Haman, SCORE Cincinnati

Plan for Success

The main purpose for the plan is to serve as a working guide for the business. It is a living document that should be referred to regularly and updated periodically.

The Executive Summary may be the most important part of the plan because it is what investors and lenders read first. The executive summary should not exceed three pages. It should be concise and highlight what the company is all about and what’s in it for the investor. The executive summary should be written last after completing the other sections of the plan.

Describe your business venture. Be specific and focused. Do not describe too broad a range of activities, especially if you are a sole proprietor. You are just one person with all the responsibilities. Everything in the business plan will be based on or be influenced by what you decide the business is to be. Describe realistic goals and how they will be reached.

Defining your target market. You must have a product or service that fills a unique needs that attracts customers.What are the trends of your market, potential customers, your competition, and the best ways to reach your market. The marketing plan must describe specific goals supported by facts and logic: size of market, strength of competition, pricing and competitive edge. You should talk to similar businesses outside your market area.

The financial section is essential to understanding how your business is doing. You may be able to set up the financial record keeping yourself. Your cash flow statement is probably the most important. Done properly, it will predict whether or not you will have sufficient funds to meet projected future cash needs. Realistic financial projections must clearly show viability of the business, loan repayment and positive cash flow.

For sample business plans, see:

SCORE can review your plan,make suggestions for improvements and help you to fine tune it.