Category Archives: Sales Training/Coaching

Entrepreneurs – Born or Made?

Many people have a great idea. Many people are willing to take a risk. Many people know how to hustle the sale. Many people would say, “failure is not an option.” Many people are willing to work really, really hard. Many people know how to turn a profit. Many people can motivate others. Many people are hyper-focused. And many people can build powerful relationships. YET – not every one of these people is a successful entrepreneur.

Jim Clifton, the author of Entrepreneurial Strengthsfinder, asserts that only 5 out of 1,000 people have the total package required to start and grow a big business. He contrasts that with the fact that 20 out of 1,000 people have an IQ high enough to be accepted into Mensa. So, you might ask what does that mean to the average business owner?

For the average business owner, it might mean that you are not alone in the challenges you face. By understanding the textbook view of what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur you will have a better understanding of the areas of entrepreneurship that don’t come naturally to you. This doesn’t mean that you have to throw in the towel, or settle for a less than successful business.

If you are serious about building a successful business, now is the time to look for team members, mentors, and/or partners that can provide complimentary entrepreneurial skills to your own skillset. Perhaps you don’t have a risk-taker mentality and would rather agonize over the pros and cons endlessly before making a decision. One way to step up your risk-taking is to have a group of advisors that have a more balanced view of risk and even include some advisors that are high risk-takers. If you are not the shameless salesperson, then hire someone who can thrive in that role – and then let them.

YOUR CHALLENGE: If you are not one of the five that are born with the entrepreneurial silver spoon in your mouth, determine the skills you are lacking and then surround yourself with those that share your passion and are willing to assist you.

If you would like further information or you have any questions about this blog, you can email me at or call 847-739-3079.

Please visit to register for my complimentary workshop, 6 Steps to a Great Business, and let’s work together to help your business grow.

5 Development Tips for Young Professionals

Experience and proficiency in networking can only be gained by actually getting out there and doing it. That being said, there are ways for young professionals to prepare themselves for the world of business development. Successful networking is like anything else you have ever done. In order to get better you have to set goals, monitor your results and refine your techniques to get better.

Utilize these tips in order to build confidence that you are going about things the right way in your initial forays into networking and business development.

Form Relationships
Strong networkers have a mindset that focuses on what they can do for someone else more than thinking what that person can do for you. By keeping with this thought process, you become posed as a valuable and reliable contact. Do not approach people with the idea that “I’m here for this, and looking for that.” It is not so much about acquiring clients as much as it is about building relationships. Meet people with a genuine approach of helping them find what they need. This altruistic nature will resonate with everyone you meet and make them more likely to try and help you get business.

Strategic Partnership
Identify the handful of individuals in the room responsible for the event and introduce yourself. Forming relationships with these people and informing them of your interests will give you the inside track to other networking events and the numerous contacts within them. Another avenue that can prove extremely beneficial, is finding a strong networker to show you the ropes and expand your secondary network tenfold.

Effective Communication
Be specific in your communication and avoid generalities. If you say your clients are small businesses, the person you are talking to probably knows a lot of small businesses and may not know where to start in connecting you with one. Think of an industry or vertical you have multiple clients in, or a vertical you are looking to expand when explaining what your target market is. An example of this could be, “We work with many small businesses, but currently we are expanding our reach in the medical industry, specifically we are noticing an underserved market in dental offices. If you know of any dentists or other companies that work with dentists that would benefit from a service we provide, that would be a great connection for me.” Now they are going to think specifically and you have given them a definition of a good connection; this should help increase the probabilities of them actually making a connection for you.

Stay Polished
Staying polished goes beyond dressing the part; cross all t’s and dot all i’s, be polite and interested during networking events despite having a long day or anticipating an arduous business meeting. As a young professional or recent grad, it is important to make sure you stay polished in every sense of the phrase. While businessmen and women recognize that you are new to the game, it can still be difficult to overcome a poor first impression. You are casting a large net and growing your network, the more people who see you in a positive light, the stronger your chances of building your contact list.

Follow Up
When beginning to network you will start to pass around your card, and likewise, take any card given to you. Meeting and greeting this many individuals can become overwhelming, but take a step up into the big leagues by making a point to remember specifics about the good conversations you had. When you have a few key contacts that you want to stay in touch with, show initiative. Never assume a contact will reach out to you. Be proactive and take the first step. Calling or emailing people with a personal note about your conversation is a great way to get out there in a positive way.

25 sales basics you may have forgotten

Listen more than you talk

Know the customer

Use a firm handshake

Make good eye contact

Know your product/service

Strive for solutions

Become a resource

Don’t burn bridges

Take deep breaths

Follow up

Act professionally always

Tell the truth

Practice patience

Stay in shape

Use breath mints liberally

Note notes

Be 2 minutes early for appointments

Remember names

Dress appropriately

Show respect

Turn your phone, computer, tablet and watch off during meetings

Refrain from denigrating competitors

Eliminate off color jokes and inappropriate gestures

Lose 4-letter words

Proof read everything – twice

Do your research

Master small talk

Strive to be interesting

Learn to tell great stories

Be yourself

Eat breakfast

Play fair or don’t play at all

Learn empathy…not sympathy

Earn trust

Build a strong personal brand

Give back

Keep a positive attitude

Mentor others



Stand up straight

Set an example

Commit to continuous learning

Surround yourself with brilliant people

Share the spotlight

DO something spectacular for your clients

Avoid gossip

Retain your sense of humor

Listen for needs

Know yourself


Jan Marino is a social media and reinvention expert. She is also the
author of “Take Back Your Career”. She understands the two key concepts
that successful organizations have adopted in today’s market: personal
branding and listening for client needs. Jan is also a keynote speaker
and has appeared regularly on TV and radio. She’s worked with hundreds
of clients including McDonald’s, The Northern Trust, Walt Disney Co.,
and Bank of America. Jan began her career as a receptionist and worked
her way up to become a senior executive in the telecommunications and
financial services industries. Contact Jan:

Deciding where to invest your marketing dollars

Have you ever asked yourself “Where should I invest my marketing dollars”? With the rapidly increasing channels available to reach consumers, how do you decide where to spend your limited marketing budget? Should it be Facebook, Google AdWords, Craigslist, Groupon, direct mailers, yellow pages, magazine ads, or something radically different? With consumers shifting how they interact with media, how do you stay ahead of the curve, make the right decisions and maybe even out market your competitors?

I can’t tell you how many small business owners have asked me this question. Everyone wants to find the magic bullet that’s going to get people flooding into their business. So, how do you determine which marketing activities are most optimal for you? The answer is simple…track them and compare. I know that sounds obvious, but I’ve found that the majority of businesses either don’t track/measure their marketing activities, or they don’t spend the time to assess the tracking they are doing.

Even if you aren’t tracking your marketing activities today, you can begin to capture the right information relatively quickly and easily. And, as soon as you start this process to gather the data and spend the time to assess the results, you will be on a path to maximize your marketing spend by knowing where to invest your marketing dollars.

Now, there are many ways to assess the performance of marketing activities, varying in level of sophistication. I’ll briefly describe two approaches, and you can choose the method most appropriate for your business given your aptitude for complexity.

Approach 1: Basic Response Measurement


The first approach I want to discuss is designed to be simple and quick such that any business can start measuring marketing effectiveness. Simplicity comes with a tradeoff of accuracy; but if you’re doing nothing to measure effectiveness today, this will definitely be a positive step forward. Here’s how to get started:



    Simply place a promotion code on each of your advertising channels. Keep a database with each of your marketing activities and the code associated with it. Also, include the cost for that particular activity.


    Next, be sure to require that customers present the promotion code in order to redeem it. You cannot stop here though. You need to actually record in your database each redemption. Remember to record the sales total for the transaction when these promotions are redeemed.


    The final step that many businesses never accomplish, even if they’ve completed steps 1 and 2, is to analyze the results. On a regular cadence, at least monthly, review the number of redemptions for each activity as well as the total dollars associated with those transactions.

As you can see, this particular approach should be relatively easy to implement. I need to note here that as you look at sales associated for each marketing activity, the answers are just that…sales associated with the marketing activity. This approach does not actually identify if the marketing activity “generated” those sales. Meaning, is it possible that you may have gotten those sales anyway? Absolutely. But, even if this method only identifies which activities did not have sufficient sales to cover the marketing costs, that’s a huge step forward. See, what you do know by this approach is that any marketing activity that cost more than the sales associated with it did not generate enough sales to make it worthwhile. With this, you can at least begin to determine where not to place your marketing dollars. (I’m going to leave the concept of long term value of a customer out of the discussion here to keep things simple). This knowledge is better than having no awareness at all.

For the activities associated with favorable sales, you could do some basic sales comparisons of periods with and without the activity present. This may help you gauge if the sales numbers for the promotion activity were actually incremental, or at least better than without. Because there are many other factors that could have driven sales
success during the promotional period, it may require more advanced methods to be certain extra sales actually resulted from the promotion. So, you can accept some assumptions and go with this approach, or utilize the next approach and eliminate much of the uncertainty.

Approach 2: Measuring Consumer Behavior

The goal of promotions should be to influence customer behavior in such a way that it improves the long term value of your customer. Therefore, the best way to identify if a promotion is worthwhile is to identify if it accomplishes this objective. Now before describing how to measure this, there are two important distinctions from Approach 1 that must be called out.

First, just because a promotion was associated with sales greater than the cost of the promotion, this does not directly mean the promotion was effective. For example, suppose you ran a promotion for $2 off a commonly purchased item and this promotion was sent out to all of your regular customers. While many of your customers may have redeemed the promotion, there’s a good chance they would have purchased the particular item anyway. Therefore, all you have done is subsidized the purchase they were already going to make.

To resolve this dilemma, it is necessary that you track each of your customer’s purchase behaviors and build an analytic model that helps you estimate the amount of money they are likely to spend for a given period. Then, based on this estimate, you can compare actual spend for a period for each of your customers and compare it against your estimated. Now, based on the promotions redeemed during that period, you can identify if the promotions added incremental dollars compared to what you would have expected in absence of such promotions.

The second distinction to highlight is that promotions do not have to generate more sales than they cost for a given period to be considered effective; despite that requirement in Approach 1. Suppose you offered a promotion that allows your regular customers to take advantage of a new product for free for a given period. Clearly, the promotion is not immediately profitable as there are no sales dollars associated with this promotion (at least for the direct item promoted). However, if that trial results in a customer purchasing that product frequently in the future and increasing their overall spend, then the promotion may have actually been extremely effective. Increasing long term value of your customer is critical to build brand loyalty and maximize your customer retention rate.

In order to accomplish this type of promotion analysis, you must have the processes in place to track your customers’ spending over time, as well as dedicate the time to analyze customer purchase patterns on a regular basis. Additionally, you must design promotional strategies with a clear intent of the type of customer behavior shifts that you are trying to influence. While this approach requires more effort, the rewards are exponential. When you can determine the true effectiveness
of every marketing activity, as well as continually focus on positively influencing customer purchase behavior, your business will reach new levels of success. As a result, you will have little doubt on where to invest your marketing dollars.

In order to measure your marketing effectiveness with this level of precision and accuracy, there are a few steps required to get started:



    Ensure you have systems and processes in place to capture the purchase behavior for each of your customers. If you operate a service business, you may already have this information in place today.


    Setup proper promotion tracking codes on each of your marketing activities just the same as in Approach 1.


    Build an analytical model to estimate individual customer purchase behavior for each period. If you don’t possess the analytical expertise to accomplish this, identify an external consultant to help you construct a model that can be automated to support continuous estimations.


    Dedicate time to review the results of your monthly analysis and set clear strategies for influencing customer behavior. Each of your promotions should be designed for a purpose, with clear targets that are measured and evaluated for success.

Following the steps listed above, you can put your business on track to maximize its marketing effectiveness. In a quickly evolving technological world, with hundreds of possible marketing channels to reach consumers, its critical that you find the best way to reach potential customers before your competition. Whether you follow a simple approach to measure marketing effectiveness as described in Approach 1, or are willing to journey down a more advanced approach in
order to surpass the competition, you cannot afford to let your marketing dollars go to waste. The longer you wait to maximize your
marketing efforts, the more likely it is that your potential customers will land with your competition.

Keith Aichele is a business health expert, author and founder of Misaic, a company dedicated to helping businesses utilize customer analytics to achieve sustainable success. For more information on Misaic or business health monitoring visit To learn more on this subject, attend  Stop the Failure: 3 Habits Every Business Owner Must Break to Survive! in Schaumburg this Thursday, June 26 and Saturday, June 28. Click here to learn more.

Dramatically improve your message with these 5 simple tips

Have you ever been frustrated when you can’t get someone to do what you want them to do? You know what you want done, but somewhere it gets lost between your mouth and their ears. Are you aggravated that you can’t get them to do what is expected of them?

Once you realize that “communication is the response you get”, you can begin to make some changes that will dramatically increase your effectiveness as a communicator.

First, look at the message that you are delivering.

  • Plan your message. It’s as simple as jotting down the goal of the conversation and/or outlining the points you want to make. Include the what, why, when and how.
  • Know your audience. Different people will require more or less information to get the full meaning of the message. The same message doesn’t work for everyone.
  • State your intent. Start with the purpose. For example, “John, I need this information sent to ABC Company today.”
  • Check your tone and body language. The verbal message should complement your body language.
  • Avoid repeating yourself. Condense your message if necessary and try not to repeat your message over and over.

Second, confirm understanding. Ask open ended questions to check for clarity and understanding. For example, “What’s your next step based on our conversation?” or “Could you explain what you heard me say?” Don’t fall into the trap of using “Do you understand?” The answer is always “Yes.”

Bottom line – It does take time to deliver a high-quality message and it does pay off when you get the response you desire.

Remember, communication is the response you get!

YOUR CHALLENGE THIS WEEK: Slow down your communication – Look at the message, check for understanding, and own the response you get!

Please visit for more information and to register for PJ Weiland’s complimentary 6 Steps to a Great Business workshop and let’s work together to help your business grow.

PJ Weiland is no stranger to business. At the age of 10 she started her first business, and then worked in the family business before starting her second business. She brings over twenty-five years of experience working with all-size businesses. As an ActionCOACH, she works with business owners to put money on the bottom line. Through coaching, PJ provides an alternative to conventional consulting by providing both practical assistance and training through an affordable and effective mentoring approach. 

10 things I reflected on in 2013


Forgotten Dreams


Less procrastination

Being proactive

Preparing a road map to success every day

Building credibility

Building strong relationships

Being outrageously creative

Doing what I love to do

It has been an eye opening year for me.  A metamorphosis realizing that all the things I have learned over the years, I needed to take those skills and talents and put them to good use.  I  needed to ramp up my game and play to WIN.  Developing a sense of urgency knowing time does not stop, using and enjoying every minute.  I stuck my neck out and learned some new things, along with reading, writing and speaking more.  I finally realized how critical it is to be healthy, exercising my body and brain which gives me more energy and clearer thinking.  Learning from others, asking what my children think, teaching my grandchildren and mentoring others.  Where did the year go?  As we get older time flies, when we are children time does not move fast enough.

May I challenge you to reflect?  Sit with a sheet of paper, write done those things you can reflect on. Take the time to look back on what worked or didn’t work this past year?  What needs to change, what you promised yourself, what you should have done and didn’t? Take some time to plan your strategy for a stellar year. Best of all have a FUN filled year! Have an attitude of gratitude and help others along your journey.  Like I said, it has been eye opening for me!        

I look forward to staying in touch each month, featuring people who will share their wisdom and give us some things to open new doors.

May 2014 be healthy,happy and prosperous!

Jan Marino is a social media and reinvention expert. She is also the author of “Take Back Your Career”. She understands the two key concepts that successful organizations have adopted in today’s market: personal branding and listening for client needs. Jan is also a keynote speaker and has appeared regularly on TV and radio. She’s worked with hundreds of clients including McDonald’s, The Northern Trust, Walt Disney Co., and Bank of America. Jan began her career as a receptionist and worked her way up to become a senior executive in the telecommunications and financial services industries. Contact Jan:

Ready for a Little Coaching?

When should you hire a coach? Click on the image below to download a PDF on how to select a business coach. We all strive to be in a better place, with improved results and to get the most out of life. There are times however, that we get stuck and just can’t seem to feel the magic or find the “zone” that was so instrumental to our past growth and success.

Coaching is the process that allows you to open up and explore where you are in your quest for what you thought your life would be like or should have been by now. It’s also the opportunity to search for the missing components that make for a good life balance. Working with a coach, you’re committing to dig deep within yourself to tap into your unrealized potential and to begin to define the direction you really want your life to take.

Coaching creates a safe environment that allows you to confront your fears, openly discuss your doubts and to talk about the obstacles in your way. Once we begin to open these doors and find out what’s really behind them, then we can begin to define the path forward and help you create a road map that will guide you to achieving what you want life to deliver.

Knowing how to dive deep into one’s own true thoughts and desires often requires help and guidance from the outside. A second set of eyes, without the emotional attachment to issues, situations, history or problems can guide the person being coached to answers that are lodged deep and often, sheltered. This process is akin to peeling back the multiple layers of an onion. Slowly, layer by layer, eventually you get to the heart.

Once the real obstacles begin to surface, those barriers can be identified. You can then make conscious decisions for what action you want to pursue to overcome those obstructions to your forward progress. Depending on the rewards to be realized or the pain of the consequences, you can identify the wisest path.

“A coach is someone who tells you what you don't want to hear, who has you see what you don't want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.”  - Tom Landry, Dallas Cowboys coach from 1960-1988, ranked as one of the greatest and most innovative coaches in National Football League history We’re all capable of improved performance and attaining more successful results in all aspects of our lives. None of us is fully using anything close to our full potential. Yet, we let obstacles hold us back or paralyze us from advancing towards our goals. Without these introspective explorations, we will never get close to the full realization of being the positive, successful and well-balanced people we know we can and want to become.

Phil Gafka, a Certified Business Coach, works with business owners, executives and professionals to help develop their career, business and life with a balanced plan that works for them. By helping increase the self-awareness of an individual’s goals and desires and identifying their leadership strengths, he is able to help them more rapidly achieve the results they desire. Capitalizing on his experience of leading successful companies and developing leadership performance at a variety of corporate levels, Phil focuses on Strategic/Cultural Business Planning, Leadership Development and Executive Coaching. Contact Phil directly at: