Training Magazine

*This article was originally published in Training Magazine

My interview with
No More Bored Meetings

It might be time for a training refresher on how to run, and participate in, an effective meeting.

Rob Bellmar sprinted for home, glancing over his shoulder to check for the throw. That’s when he stepped on the bat in the base path and blew out his right quadriceps leg muscle.He learned something, though. About meetings.

The softball injury last June meant that Bellmar, senior vice president at InterCall, had to phone in for a meeting a few days later, rather than attend in person.

So what? Virtual meetings are business as usual for the Chicago-based West Corp. subsidiary. InterCall helps clients conduct meetings via audio, video, and Web. But Bellmar’s injury gave him a fresh insight. Calling in on the phone, he missed all the body language. If everybody’s remote, that’s one thing, but if some are present physically and one or more are virtual, meeting leaders must adjust.

For example: Were people paying attention? In person, stern looks from the senior VP matter. “In virtual meetings,” says Bellmar, “you’re not there to give them the peer-pressure stare, the one that says, ‘Are you in this meeting or not?’”

For the original article:

American Express Magazine

*This article was originally published in American Express Magazine

* What does your LinkedIn summary say about you?

Though often overlooked or underutilized, the LinkedIn summary is a free-form, 2,000-character-rich section located at the top of every LinkedIn profile—the profile owner’s moment to shine.

But because writing a compelling summary is time-consuming, LinkedIn users often bypass the summary section, missing their opportunity to tell their unique story and connect with profile readers.

I spoke with a number of LinkedIn experts and professional copywriters to get their takes on how to master the LinkedIn summary. Time and time again, I heard 10 key tips for getting it right. How many are you abiding by?

1. Use keywords intelligently.

Many LinkedIn users falsely believe that the summary section is a fitting section to unload a word cloud of relevant keywords, as the section helps with SEO. A blob of words, though, is not the best method. “Avoid sounding like you are keyword stuffing,” says LinkedIn marketing consultant Yoon Cannon. “Include the keywords in your summary copy, but [do so] using language that flows like a normal conversation.”

Intuit Magazine

*This article was originally published in Intuit magazine
Written by : Sheryl Nance-Nash

Although your mood of late may be moving from motivated to merry, there is much that you — and every small-business owner — should do before the year ends to set yourself on a good path for 2013.

Here are a few action items that should be at the top of your to-do list:

Tackle Your Taxes

Taxes are tricky this year due to the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Typically, it makes sense to maximize year-end expenditures and defer year-end revenues to minimize/defer your immediate tax burden. However, because taxes may go up in 2013, this year the reverse strategy may be best: Accelerate earnings, delay expenses. Consult your accountant about all tax moves.

If you want to take the hit but make things easier on your employees in 2013, consider paying bonuses now instead of next year to avoid gambling with changing tax rates for your workers. “It’s no extra work and will make employees happy this holiday season,” says Taylor Aldredge, ambassador of buzz for Grasshopper, a virtual phone system for entrepreneurs.

Target New Partners

Build your Dream 100 list, or the top businesses you would like to partner with or sign as clients. Develop a monthly plan to reach out to them in 2013 — whether it’s through a postcard, a phone call, or a face-to-face meeting — until they “buy or die,” says Robert Smith, founder of the public relations firm Champion Media Worldwide.

Build your Dream 100 list, or the top businesses you would like to partner with or sign as clients. Develop a monthly plan to reach out to them in 2013 — whether it’s through a postcard, a phone call, or a face-to-face meeting — until they “buy or die,” says Robert Smith, founder of the public relations firm Champion Media Worldwide.

Take Stock of Your Situation

What worked this year? What didn’t and why? Analyze revenue. Where did the money come from? From there, decide what to offer/expand in 2013. “Let go of programs, products, and services that fall into that 10 percent or less of revenue,” says Tina Forsyth, author of The Entrepreneur’s Trap.

Assess your role for 2013. “As the leader, what do you need to do more of and less of? Plan for the systems and teams to support the tasks that can be moved off your plate,” she says.

Analyze costs. Where can you improve your business to make it more efficient and reduce expenses? “This year it’s particularly important to check costs. Requirements for benefits and health care will change. For example, switching to a professional employer organization,” which provides human resource services to small businesses like paying wages and offering other benefits, “could save a lot of money in the long run by offering more benefits at a cheaper rate,” Grasshopper’s Aldredge says.

Mind Your Marketing

Review your 2012 marketing efforts. “You should be able to see a report that tells you month by month what your individual marketing tactics were, your investment in each, the number of leads generated, the number of sales transactions generated, the total sales dollar amount, and even the retention value of each sale,” says business growth expert Yoon Cannon of Paramount Business Coach.

Look forward. What new products and services will you create? By when? How will you raise the bar and further improve your client relationships? These are questions Chad Barr, an internet business strategist, says you should ask yourself.

With the improving economy, look to land bigger fish with larger budgets, says Steve Strauss, a contributor to Bank of America’s online small-business community.

“Is it time to appoint a chief customer officer — a person, perhaps already on staff, who is empowered to identify what the customer needs and wants — and put the process in motion to deliver this?” asks Mark Stevens, CEO of the marketing and management firm MSCO.

Inc Magazine-

* This article originally published in Inc Magazine
Written by Inc : Staff writer

There are several good reasons why every small and medium-sized business needs to build and maintain an effective customer pipeline, but perhaps the most important one is that failing to do so can jeopardize your financial stability, says Yoon Cannon, a business growth expert, author and keynote speaker at Paramount Business Coach LLC. “If 80 percent of your company’s annual revenue is riding on 20 percent of your total customer base, then you risk a devastating hit to profitability from losing just one or two of your biggest clients,” she says. Grant Car done, author of Sell or Be Sold: How to Get Your Way in Business and in Life, adds that a pipeline structure is “essential to the long-term viability and growth of your organization. It is impossible to be too aggressive in this area.”

The thought of building a customer pipeline can be off-putting to some business owners and managers, but that is most often because they lack knowledge about what the process entails, says Hunter Belington, a principal at Closer Consulting, which specializes in the recruitment and development of sales professionals. “They aren’t sure what goes into one or how to manage it.” But building a customer pipeline doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult, especially if you break the process down into a series of key stages.

The goals of a customer pipeline include creating awareness, generating leads, converting leads to sales, boosting transaction value through upwelling and cross-selling and increasing frequency through reorders and repeat sales. You should begin by mapping out the sequences that best align with your ideal target market profile and the products/services you would most like to begin or continue offering them, Cannon suggests. “The low-hanging fruit is often your lower-price offerings in the early stages, and that’s a good place to start. But you should begin thinking about what you can offer at higher price points that might eventually provide a greater return on your investment,” she says.

The pipeline creation process should include measuring performance in each stage of the process, setting benchmarks against existing performance and establishing the potential for improvement. The pipeline must provide you with accurate metrics so that over time your understanding of the process and your ability to measure and boost performance will improve, says Jeff Connelly, a professor at the Acton School of Business and president and CEO of CMIT Solutions. “It is important to break down the process into phases so that you can measure each one. You can only improve it when you are able to measure it.”

Gathering, analyzing and leveraging customer information are critical activities, says Cannon, who breaks the process down into seven key stages. Stage one is prospects who respond to a free offer, indicating a willingness to learn more about you and your business. A subgroup of people who express interest in a low-risk offer emerges in stage two and is further refined by those who complete that transaction in stage three. “From the prospects in the first three stages, you should be able to identify those likely to be interested in your mid-price offerings. The ones who complete that transaction become stage five customers,” she explains. The final two stages are the high-price-point interest group and the high-price-point customer group, typically representing about 20 percent of your customer base but up to 80 percent of your profits.

It is important to note the nature of the customer information that is most valuable in an effective pipeline. For the most part, general demographic information provides little value; it is customer contact data, information requests and purchase patterns that are most useful. This crucial information can be leveraged through a segmentation process such as that described by Cannon, as well as through customer relationship management (CRM) and direct marketing. With CRM, employees answering incoming calls can know exactly who the customer is and what he or she last ordered. The same data can be used to do a better job of targeting direct marketing efforts, regardless of media channel.

Finally, building a culture of performance, learning and continuous improvement is essential to wringing maximum value from your customer pipeline. Metrics and performance benchmarks are part of that effort, but incentives, morale-building and fostering an enthusiastic atmosphere that is conducive to your business goals are at least as important. “For many SMBs, a culture of performance means a change in behavior to consistently measuring performance metrics for the first time,” Cannon says. “Continuous improvement is about a consistent focus on a daily or weekly basis to monitor results and change variables as needed in order to better meet your target market’s needs and do a better job of motivating them to become customers.”

Philadelphia Business Journal

*This article was originally published in Philadelphia Business Journal
Written by : Yoon Cannon

Many companies are trimming down on payroll to weather today’s tough economic storm. But, staffing decision affect both budget and revenues. While high turnover certainly bleeds resources, low turnover can also inhibit a company’s growth if that staff has gone stale. Seniority should not win over stagnant.In either case, recruiting the right later talent will be vital to survive tough economic times and to thrive in years to come. Although more people are out looking for work today, business owners will still have to compete to attract and recruit top level talent. Here are seven steps and reminders for effective recruiting.

Step 1: Identify your company’s ideology.Before your start looking outside for who you need, you have to first look inside at who you are. More than your company’s mission statement carefully think through what your company’s ideology is. A greater purpose – a greater cause will sustain your people and challange them to perform at higher levels. What is one thing you stand for? What one core value are you most passionate about? How clearly is that message communicated throughout every aspect of your company?

Step 2: Dream plan your trophy employee profile.Most hiring managers and business owners are not specific enough as to who they are looking for to fill needed roles in the company.a. Write down the top five skills needed for the bench you are trying to fill.b. Rank the top five personal qualities you can not live without.c. Rank several characteristics you know you can not live with.d. Rank top three factors that your trophy employee is motivated by.Have exact written profiles not just for the upper level positions, but also for entry-level positions like receptionists, assistants, and even the interns. Poor performance at any level can clog up the whole system. Conversely, exceptional entry-level teams add tremendous value to your company’s growth. And, don’t just keep this information in your head. A written list will help you from not compromising on those things you already established at critical and important.

Steps 3: Do your research.You need conviction in the interview when you sit eyeball with the potential trophy person you want to recruit. You may be your applicant’s first interview or your interviewee may have been on 14 other interviews prior to yours. Knowing your top three competitors’ pay packages, benifits, culture, advancement opportunities and what their ideologies are will help you do steps for through eight.

Step 4: Have a USP for each of your job openings.As a small business owner you may not be in the financial position to out bid all of your competitors in order to attract the best staff. But, knowing what everyone offers can help you leverage your company’s best qualities. Each of our job openings should be presented in print and in the interview with its USP – unique selling position. Contrary to common beliefs, money is not primary motivator in recruiting the best talent. Also, a job opening isn’t just a bench that is empty. Include those weak-performing benches as well in your interview process.

Step 5: Search and find your draft picks.Don’t just rely solely on a staffing agency. Open the nets much wider to find your diamond-in-the-rough. Have a staff meeting and brainstorm a list of where to find these draft picks. If you want the best players on your team you need to engage other people’s ideas, resources and creativity. Success is never accomplished alone. Make sure your USP is clearly communicated in each of the recruiting strategies.

Step 6: Stage your company.If you wanted to sell your home to the highest bidder you would pay careful attention to how you stage your home. As a business owner or hiring manager you need to stage your company to help you recruit the highest talent. Pay careful attention to all the details that contribute to communicating your company’s ideology. Is the physical space and work flow aligned with your core values? Is your existing staff a strong reflection of your company values? Effective business-staging will articulate your company’s core ideology. Like pieces of a puzzle you will know when you meet the right candidate – and they will too.

Step 7: Create competition in the interview process.You do not need to conduct group interviews to create a competitive atmosphere among your potential candidates. But your attitude of competition does matter in not just recruiting someone, but in recruiting them right. The person whom you hired may have turned out to be your only applicant, but they do not need to feel that way.The goal to win the competition makes people work for the job. It’s important to set the tone that the applicant wants you more than you need them. When they are recruited right, they arrive wanting to be there, greatful to be there, and work hard to stay there.

We’re not the only ones to experience a storm. Animals have an innate sense when a storm is approaching. While the turkey will hide to weather the storm, the eagle will fly to a high spot and wait for the winds to come.

When the storm hits, it sets its wings so that wind will pick it up and lift it above the storm. While the storm rages below, the eagle is soaring above it. The eagle does not escape the storm. It simply uses the storm to lift higher. As a business owners you can use recruiting strategies as wind to lift your company to higher levels of success above this economic storm.

Yoon Canon is CEO of Paramount Business Coach. She has successfully started four other companies, interviewing over 15,000 applicants. She can be reached at or 215-292-4947.