United Nations Bans Fruitcake

December 22nd, 2011

Just in time for the holidays, the United Nations has voted in favor of a major human rights initiative—to ban the manufacture, distribution and sale of fruitcake.

“Those who question the value of the United Nations need look no further than this action to see the critical role it can play in bringing diverse countries together to prevent human tragedy,” asserted UN spokesman Nick Landime.

The ban was applauded by more than two dozen human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, The Carter Center, the Islamic Human Rights Commission, and the World Organization Against Torture.

“It’s about time they’ve done something,” stated human rights activist Rob Berbarren. “For too long, the UN has stood by while billions have suffered needlessly.”

Critics of the United Nations have long accused the organization of dragging its feet, alleging the UN has secretly been in league with the so-called Bakery-Industrial Complex. In his press conference, Landime expressed hope that this ban would put an end to those rumors.

Landime also pointed out that with this single action, the UN is also fulfilling many of its other goals, starting with reducing world hunger. “The flour, butter, sugar and other ingredients wasted in fruitcakes each year could feed the entire Horn of Africa for a decade.”

“In addition, it will go a long way toward protecting the environment,” he noted. The UN estimates that approximately 147 billion pounds of fruitcake end up in landfills every year. As they decompose, their toxic byproducts can contaminate groundwater.

“And it’s an important step in fighting climate change,” Landime continued, referring to the well-established link between fruitcake production and global warming.

“At the end of the day though, this is about basic human rights—protecting people from torture and suffering.”

North Korea, Iran, and Myanmar were among the handful of countries to vote against the ban. Iran and Myanmar have both refused to allow UN inspectors to visit their bakeries and there is no reliable estimate of North Korea’s fruitcake-manufacturing capabilities.

31 Things Buyers Don’t Want

December 14th, 2011

In sales training, we often spend a lot of time discussing what prospects and customers want. However, there are a lot of things that buyers don’t want, and being aware of these can be equally important to your sales.

Because the things buyers don’t want are what keep them from buying, or  at least buying from a particular seller. In other words, these are the things that kill potential sales.

Specifically, buyers don’t want to be:
1. Insulted
2. Pressured
3. Hassled
4. Questioned about their judgment
5. Bored
6. Lied to
7. Made to feel uncomfortable
8. Harangued
9. Overcharged
10. Belittled
11. Subjected to profanity
12. Ignored
13. Taken advantage of
14. Embarrassed
15. Overwhelmed
16. Made to feel like an interruption
17. Berated
18. Misled
19. Condescended to
20. Offended by noxious odors
21. Rushed
22. Confused
23. Disappointed
24. Forced to waste their time
25. Ripped off
26. Angered
27. Made to feel stupid
28. Disgusted
29. Inconvenienced
30. Abandoned
31. Taken for granted

Great companies and salespeople know how vital it is to prevent existing and potential customers from experiencing any of these things. Print out this list and make sure everyone in your organization—not just salespeople, everyone—understands its importance.

And feel free to add to the list. What else do you think should be on it?

How to Get a Head Start on Next Year’s Sales: On Breakthrough Business Strategies Radio

December 7th, 2011

You don’t have to wait until January. Whether you’re a salesperson, sales manager, small business owner or CEO, there are things you can do right now to ensure your sales next year are fantastic. Regardless of the economy!

Listen to my appearance on Breakthrough Business Strategies Radio with Michele Price. In this twelve-minute segment, you’ll discover:
    • The first thing you should do to foster increased sales
    • Critical questions to ask yourself
    • The dangers of niching
    • And much more!

To listen, just click on the link below. Or to download the segment to listen later, right-click the link and select “Save Target As…”

How to Get a Head Start on Next Year’s Sales, Don Cooper on Breakthrough Business Strategies Radio (mp3)

To learn more about Michele Price and listen to her interview other business experts on Breakthrough Business Strategies Radio (which I strongly recommend), check out www.WhoIsMichelePrice.com.

Sales Thoughts on a Full Stomach

December 1st, 2011

Sales Thoughts on a Full StomachLast week I was in Washington DC to spend Thanksgiving with my girlfriend. While I was there, she took me to her new favorite restaurant, Virtue, in Old Town Alexandria. I loved it as much as she did and we decided that while I was in town, we should also visit the other four establishments owned by the Eat Good Food Group.

They were all fantastic. And crowded. Which got me to thinking about how this ownership team has managed to successfully grow their business in the most failure-prone industry known to man, during one of the worst economic periods of our nation’s history.

Here are four observations and thoughts for your own sales:

1. Have a clear vision
The partners in the Eat Good Food Group—husband and wife Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong and their friend Todd Thrasher—created each restaurant with a very clear vision in mind: Virtue is a casual tavern; The Majestic is an upscale eatery serving American classics; Restaurant Eve is a French-influenced fine dining experience; Eamonn’s is an Irish fish-and-chips place; and PX is a lounge that evokes a 1920’s-era speakeasy. The vision for each establishment manifests in details such as the lack of signage on PX’s door, the Irish sodas at Eamonn’s, and the gas-station-style shirts worn by the wait staff at Virtue. Each restaurant has a distinct look and feel that distinguishes it from competitors.

What’s your vision for your business? How do you want your customers to feel when they walk into your place of business or experience your product or service? And how does that experience differ from what your competition provides?

2. Do fewer things better
The menus at all five restaurants are pretty limited. (Heck, Eamonn’s pretty much serves only fish and chips.) While this would seem to be a disadvantage compared to many other restaurants, where the menu choices seem to go on forever, the Armstrongs and Thrasher have realized an important point: It’s better to do a few things incredibly well than do a lot of things unexceptionally.

Too many businesses try to do too much, in a doomed effort to be all things to all people. You can’t please everyone, and you’ll drive yourself crazy trying. Instead, harness the power of focus: Offer less, but make what you do offer, extraordinary.

3. Hire good people and train them well
Another element all five restaurants share is the quality of the people who work in them. From the hosts to the chefs to the wait staff to the managers, everyone is friendly, knowledgeable, skilled and helpful. They clearly enjoy being where they are and doing what they do, an attitude customers appreciate.

Your people are your business. Do you have the right people? Do you have enough of them? Are you training them consistently so they can continuously improve?

4. Make customers feel great
Whether you’ve just dropped $200 on the Tasting Room menu at Restaurant Eve or spent less than $10 on an enormous portion of fish & chips at Eamonn’s, you walk out feeling wonderful. That may seem easy in an industry based on feeding people, but I’ve walked out of plenty of restaurants where I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about my experience there. (I’m sure you have as well.)

Business is all about feelings. There may be a lot of numbers, facts and logic involved, but the bottom line is that people buy when they feel good about a company or a salesperson. And they return when the experience creates a positive emotional imprint on them.

How do your customers feel when they do business with you? How does your product or service make them feel? How could you improve their experience?

Whenever you see a successful business, take a few minutes to think about what they’re doing right and how you might incorporate it into your own business. And the next time you’re in the Washington DC area, check out one or more of the Eat Good Food Group restaurants. Tell them I said hi.