Practical Selling Skills

10 07 2009

Yesterday I went to a Practical Selling Skills workshop run by Business Link at Wenta's offices in Watford. There were lots of useful tips, some of which were new and some reminders/refreshers of what I already know.

One great tip worth passing on, was smiling when you're speaking on the phone, because you can always hear a smile 🙂

Business Link have got lots of useful workshops and courses and best of all, they are free.


The Perfect PA…

9 07 2009

This has been circulated on the VA cyberchat and is worth sharing here…

PA Job Description

I can take 2 phone calls, set up an excel spreadsheet, book a conference call and
send several emails – all at the same time. Simultaneously, I can review 2
inboxes, update 2 calendars, book dinner for 7 with parking, location map and 2
vegetarian options, knock up a PowerPoint presentation, courier a package and
book three hotel rooms and three flights. I speak all languages and have
visited all the countries in the world: I therefore know every beach and every
hotel. I know all local customs and visa and vaccination requirements for all
nationalities and countries. I am personally responsible for  the state of
the hotel room (wallpaper),  the food on the flight, for traffic jams,
broken hire cars, overbooked planes, late taxis, the weather, possible war and
unrest, as well as the economic situation and adverse currency exchange rate
fluctuations. I possess magical powers which enable me to get a room in a fully
booked hotel and seats on fully booked planes and trains. I can also arrange
for planes to start and land at your desired destinations at your preferred
times. I know that – even though you asked me to book you a flight for Friday –
you really wanted to travel on Saturday. Also, if you arrange a meeting with
somebody over the phone and don’t tell me, I telepathically know and will book
and prepare a meeting room and arrange drinks.

I smile, am sympathetic, and am happy to replace his psychiatrist /punch bag as
needed – equally happy in turn to be ignored, insulted and blamed in the
interests of alleviating the frustrations of senior management in the workplace
– always calmly listening and trying to do better next time. I can act, sing,
dance and repair the printer. I replace the information desk, directory
enquiries and the post office. I am happy to get in early for meetings that
(may) take place and work late for no extra money. I hate having time off – as
I obviously have no family or other interests outside the joy and desire to
selflessly serve in the workplace.

Call minding recommendation

3 07 2009

I am so impressed with Call Partner and their call minding service. There's no monthly fee, you just pay for the calls that they handle. And if the caller is on their known list of cold/spam callers, you don't get charged either. Calls handled are charged at just 99p each. You buy credits in the form of vouchers and the calls just get drawn down from that. Any messages taken get emailed and/or texted to you.

I use them for my own call minding if I'm out and they answer the calls so professionally. I've signed up a few customers to them too, so that I be the first port of call and if I'm not around then it bounces to the rest of the team.

It's brilliant!

You can sign up here for a free 14 day money back trial

Mind your e-manners

29 06 2009

Thought this article I found in Executive PA magazine was interesting…..

"It seems manners go out the window when we're communicating via email, as Yahoo!Mail has revealed the top five peeves when it comes to emails:-

  • Use of text speak such as LOL and BTW (22%)
  • Mass distribution emails to five of more recipients (16%)
  • Use of 'shouting' capital letters (15%)
  • No entry in the subject line (12%)
  • Read receipts (10%)"

Constant Contact v/s iContact

18 05 2009

I've been using Constant Contact ( for managing communications with large databases for a while now and I find it a fab tool for sending out newsletters and email campaigns, it's very intuitive and simple to use with professional looking results. I've recently heard a few people talk about, so I signed up to a free trial account to have a look and compare.

What I like about Constant Contact is that you have loads of templates and graphics and layouts to choose from. In icontact, there doesn't seem to be as much a vaste choice in pre-designed images and layouts, which I suppose is fine, because once you've found one template you like, you should stick to it so your recipients get used to your look and feel.

One feature that icontact has that Constant Contact doesn't is that you can create more than one sign up box for different lists. In Constant Contact, it's just one form that subscribers can tick which list they want to subscribe to.

Pricing is different too. Both have a scale of monthly charges depending on how many contacts there are in the database. Constant Contact starts at $15 for up to 500 contacts, then jumps to $30 for up to 2,500 contacts. icontact starts at $9.95 for up to 250 contacts, then $14 for up to 500, then $19 for 1,000, then $29 for 2,500, so it works out slightly cheaper than Constant Contact and better value when you have less than 2,500 contacts.

Images are dealt with differently too. icontact allows you to store up to 500Kb for free, then you pay 10% to have up to 1Mb and 20% up to 2Mb. In Constant Contact, you're allowed up to 5 images for free, then you pay just $5 per month for unlimited images.

For usability, I prefer Constant Contact. It may be because that's what I'm used to and I know exactly where I'm at and there's no fear of sending out a half baked campaign unintentionally to the whole database!

I'll give icontact a fair trial and use the 15 days up and see if I can get used to how things are laid out there. I'm allowed to upload 250 contacts within that (Constant Contact only allow 100 in their free trial)

Oxbni – Amazing add-on Tool for Outlook

22 03 2009

Check this amazing tool out, called oxbni (inbox spelt in reverse).

You download it and it installs itself in Outlook and sits on the right of the viewing panel. After it's indexed all your emails, it does some very clever stuff.

It's linked to Facebook and LinkedIn, so any information that's stored publicly there you can see immediately. For example, when I've selected an email, any pictures that are on that person's Facebook or LinkedIn profile appear in the Xobni panel.

It also tracks all the email exchanges and file exchanges you've had with that email address/person, save you hours hunting for past correspondence.

And best of all, it's free! 

One footnote to add, is you need to be very careful what you reveal on social websites like Facebook…. anyone, including prospective clients, get to see it, so make sure it's something you don't mind anyone and everyone seeing/knowing about you!

Appropriate Book-keeping

2 11 2008

It's important to remember that, over and above meeting legal requirements, day-to-day accounts are there to serve the business and not the other way round. It is not always appropriate to keep full double-entry accounting records.  Indeed, for many businesses, it would be a mistake that would be costly in time and effort for very little return.

A lot of meaningful information about a business can be found from simple single entry systems.  As with anything, it's a question of finding a system that gives the most return for the least amount of time, effort and cost.

For many business owners it would be more cost-effective to pay a bookkeeper rather than attempt to do it themselves, this allows people to work on their business rather than in their business. You could be spending more time on winning sales, developing relationships with customers and enhancing your products or services.

Finally it's important to recognise that things change over time, so what might have worked a year or two ago could need updating if things are getting unwieldy.  Don't be afraid to make changes!

by Kassia Gardner – Bright Angels