Social Media And The Disintermediation Of Sales People

Recently, I have been in many conversations with people claiming, social media reduces the need to have sales people. Some going so far as to declare the extinction of the sales person. I don’t buy this, in fact, I think it is just the opposite, I think it increases the need for strong sales people engaging their customers in new ways.

Social media changes the role of the sales professional, it doesn’t eliminate it. At least in B2B Sales, I believe the role of sales professionals is even more important.

Traditionally, sales people served a role of informing and educating customers about solutions. Today, the customer gets much of that information from the web. Some claim the sales person no longer needs to educate the customer. I think that’s wrong, just because it’s on the web, doesn’t mean it’s accurate. The sales person may have to spend a lot of time re-educating the customer, correcting misunderstandings. Additionally, many of our solutions are very complex, so while the customer gets a lot of information from the web, they still need to solve THEIR problem. The sales person still has the role of showing specifically how their solutions should be implemented to meet the customer’s specific situation. They bridge the gap from the experience of others to the specific and unique needs and priorities of the customer.

The change in the sales person’s role goes far beyond this. Some claim, with social media, the sales person gets involved later in the buying process than traditionally. Some would way, the customer has already done their needs assessment, narrowed their solution alternatives and engage sales people for those solutions that have been “short-listed.”

I think this is dead wrong, bordering on dangerous! This assumes the customer is perfectly knowledgeable about how to analyze their needs and narrow the solutions to those that best fit their needs. It assumes the customer has taken the time to research alternatives and apply them to their own business improvement.

To be honest, customers are prisoners of their own experiences (we all are). They will look at their business in a certain way-best on their own experience. Research on the web may broaden that perspective, but it will not address their specific situation. They still have to bridge that gap. Additionally, solving problems with your business starts with asking the right questions-to make sure you are solving the right problems.

Too often, because we are prisoners of our own experience, we may not be asking ourselves the right questions. One of the great roles of the sales person is that because they see many other customers, they can ask different questions, they can help the customer to reconsider how they are viewing the problem.

So far, we’ve focused on the role of the sales person in “the last mile,” the value they create by helping the customer understand solve problems or address opportunities the customer has already recognized. Rather than educating the customer about their products, they focus on the application of the product to solving the customer problems (but I always thought that was what great sales professionals do).

I’ve always thought great sales people don’t just help their customers solve problems, they don’t wait until the customer has a problem then propose great solutions. Great sales people help their customers consider new opportunities to grow their businesses, they help them understand new opportunities to improve performance.

Great sales people bridge the gap our marketing materials can never bridge. They can bridge a gap, that social media has difficulty in addressing. Great sales people know the customer’s specific strategies and priorities. They know how the customer works, they know how to make things happen within the customer. Knowing this, they are in a great position to go to their customer saying, “I’m seeing a lot of discussion about this…., have you ever considered what might happen if you tried doing this….?”

Great sales people are constantly working on behalf of their customers, finding them ideas about how to improve their businesses.

This is why I think it’s so important for sales people to be engaged in social media. As I’ve mentioned in other articles, I strongly believe sales people need to be listening-they need to see what their customers are doing, what their customers’ customers are doing, what their customers’ competitors are doing. They need to use social media as a source of ideas, opportunities, and possibilities for the customer to improve their business. They need to engage their customers before the customers are searching for solutions to help the customers understand new opportunities for their businesses. It may be pointing them to provocative blogs or news articles on the web, it may be a quick phone conversation to alert them about new possibilities.

Social media is not disintermediating the great sales people. It provides them the vehicle to be a more important contributor to their customers’ success. It changes the role of the sales person. Great sales people recognize this and are embracing it. Are you?

Intercultural Education

As more and more internal business structures have been radically transformed; mainly in the communication and transportation technology. The need for global interdependency has also increased resulting in companies fighting to conquer an international market by obtaining an intercultural business.

There are many factors to be taken into account when a company wants its business to be established in foreign grounds. The main concern when doing so would be intercultural differences. Regardless of how well you manage you business there will be intercultural misunderstandings, which will spark, in a regular basis.

The smart move to do then would be to introduce intercultural education or meetings to brief the staffs of their differences. Intercultural education doesn’t mean we have to fully understand their religion or culture, but it is more like a guideline for the do’s and don’ts of a certain race or culture.

Intercultural education or training sessions focuses on helping a team to realize their differences and similarities. Such areas like status, hierarchy, decision-making, conflict resolution, showing emotion and ultimately cultural relation building. From this basis, teams are then tutored on how to recognize future communication difficulties and their cultural roots molding them into becoming more self-reliant. This would result in a more cohesive and productive team.

When a company has a majority staff or clients with the same culture, their business can carry out smoothly without touching to much sensitive issue. But problems arise when the diversity of a certain culture is being mistreated, mostly ethnic minorities. For example in Malaysia: Governmental companies have a ratio of 60%~80% Malays, 10%~20% Chinese, 5%~8% Indian and only 1% for other cultures.

Such cases would induce lack of respect for each other, alienating different ethnic groups and in the end poor work contribution. When leading an intercultural business, one needs to understand and take care of the minorities, as a company is like a clock and for a clock to work properly it needs all of the mechanical parts inside to work together not against each other. (Remember the show “The Incredible”???)

Sure it is arguable that a company with a sole or one culture would work better than an intercultural company. Trying having all your close friends to work with you together, you’d get more cooperation and understanding as you don’t have to explain much all you need is a glare.

But that would otherwise disprove the need for global interdependency. Sure, you’ll get more cooperation and understanding, but what about other markets and foreign territories? China is an exploding market and their doors are open, are you fit enough to go in as you are? Wouldn’t it be a better idea if you were to send a Chinese representative over there, you’ll make more handshakes in a day as they are local. India is also a vast market, wait, you have an Indian staff go right on in. There are endless possibilities for intercultural companies; the only thing left to do now is to have better intercultural education with one another respecting each other while joining hand in hand to a prosperous future.

Tips For Creating a Fun and Educational Playroom For Children

You can create a fun and educational playroom for children simply by keeping things at their level, both physically and mentally. Bright colors, simple words, sturdy furniture and well made children’s rugs can make your kid’s playroom an adventure in learning as it provides a rich learning environment.

Toddlers learn at a phenomenal rate. Everything they do increases their knowledge base. At the same time, you want your toddler’s playroom to be fun and entertaining. By using educational kid’s rugs, low shelves and child-sized furniture when designing your playroom, you can create an environment that is both fun and entertaining.

Educational Children’s Rugs Serve Multiple Roles

Let’s face it – children sometimes spill things. That’s a fact of life. They also want to learn and play. Children’s interactive play rugs serve multiple jobs, protecting your floor, providing a comfortable play area and offering educational experiences. Children’s rugs can teach geography, the alphabet and animals. They also come designed as miniature communities and cities, and you can even purchase kids’ rugs that will teach your toddler about your home state!

Children’s rugs are designed with toddlers and young children in mind. They are soft and plush and come with plenty of padding. The materials used are easy to clean and durable enough to last for years of enjoyment. Your children’s playroom will be all the more fun with an educational kid’s rug. Children’s interactive play rugs can even help young children learn important social skills as they explore the possibilities with their play group friends.

Sturdy Children’s Furniture Is a Must

As appealing as inflatable or plastic children’s furniture may appear, it is generally unsafe and it certainly won’t last. Children are still learning about the laws of physics that rule our world. Sturdy, well made, child-sized furniture will help your toddler maneuver in their playroom safely and constructively.

By providing child-sized furniture, you will help your child learn how to use their body properly. This type of furniture is also far less likely to tip, causing a fall. In addition, children’s furniture comes in a variety of colors and patterns, allowing you to create a customized playroom, best suited to your kid’s interests and personal style.

Personal Touches Add Educational Fun

You can make your children’s playroom all the more enjoyable and educational with personal touches that you create together. Index cards make great learning tools when used to label common features of the playroom, such as taping a card marked “chair” to a chair. Other labeling opportunities can include walls, tables and dressers. You can also create a word wall using pictures and words of common items such as books, shirts, dogs, family members, trees, cars, and so on. The possibilities are limitless and you can make working with these label cards a game for you and your toddler.

Children love to learn and play. You can make your kid’s playroom a wealth of fun and information with sturdy, child-sized furniture, children’s interactive play rugs and other educational children’s rugs, homemade labels and plenty of books and positive learning games. Your children will enjoy hours of educational fun in their very own playroom.

Mail Order Backpacks

Hunting for backpacks on the Internet saves both time and energy. Backpacks of different styles and backpacks that fit your budget can be easily purchased through mail order backpacks. Mail order backpacks for all activities are available today.

Most mail order backpack companies display their products online, along with prices. This practice gives you an ideal opportunity to compare the products of different manufactures for their prices and styles. To boost their sales, most online traders offer free shipping charges and several other discounts.

Daypacks, technical daypacks, laptop packs and bags, slings and messenger bags, weekend packs, travel packs, camera packs, dog packs, expedition packs, external frame packs, hydration packs, and children’s packs are some of the different types of mail order backpacks commonly found in the stores of mail order backpack companies. Other related items like purses, water bottles, sacks, and kid carriers are also displayed by most mail order backpack companies.

A good mail order backpack company displays their products by category, and in most cases, the listings are be user friendly. This saves time, and a potential buyer can easily find the product that he is looking for. Details of each product and its price are also mentioned by most mail order backpack companies. Most websites also provide the option of reading reviews written on the product. It is better not to trust these reviews as they are mostly articles written to promote the product. But you can use the reviews to know the specifications and conveniences attached to each product.

The greatest advantage with mail order backpacks is that a product that is out of stock or not available from retailers might be available with mail order backpack companies. To get the best results from mail order backpacks, you need to do extensive research. It is always wise to compare a backpack product in different online stores before selecting a particular store. Before purchasing mail order backpacks, carefully read all the terms and conditions of the mail order backpack company. Clear all your doubts regarding shipping charges, time of delivery, and, above all, what measures will be taken by the company if the product is damaged.

Anti Aging Skin Products You Can Make at Home

Anti aging skin products are very expensive to purchase and are gaining an increasing market share amongst skin care products. A 2006 study noted that these products were slated to become the number two product in skincare sales behind hand and body lotions. The great motivator behind sales is that no one likes the notion that their skin aging badly.The thought of your once unlined face having more lines than a grade school notebook is not an appealing one.

This fear of looking older than our years makes us hand over an increasingly large chunk of our paycheck to retailers. The good news is that you can make your own anti aging skin products and save your self a huge amount of money, and get beautiful skin in the process. It’s not that commercial products are totally ineffective; it’s just that you can often achieve equal results with your own homemade products.

An example of some great anti aging skin products you can make at home are masks. A very simple, but very effective mask for cleansing and exfoliating the skin is to mix honey and oatmeal together in a 50:50 ratio. Apply the paste created by this mixture to the skin, and let it sit undisturbed for about fifteen minutes. After the fifteen minutes are up, wet your hands and scrub gently in a circular motion, then rinse well. This mask only costs pennies. As well as the exfoliating properties of this mask, the honey in the mask is an effective moisturizer, and oatmeal is soothing to dry, irritated skin.

Fruits and berries are also wonderful ingredients to incorporate into anti aging skin products. The natural acidity and antioxidants present in many fruits makes them wonderful ingredients for simple skin peels you can do at home. These simple facial peels assist in skin cell turnover, bringing new, fresh layers of cells to the skins surface. Of course, these won’t be the strength of a peel you would receive in your dermatologist’s office, and that is likely a good thing! An at-home peel is a treatment that should not be overdone; they should not be performed more than once a week.

A great anti aging skin product is simple olive oil. It works terrific as a make up remover, and is a wonderful addition to scrubs and masks. A very simple body scrub can be made from combining olive oil and either brown sugar or sea salt in an equal ratio and rubbing it gently on the skin. This treatment will lift away dead skin cells, and leave the skin feeling soft and smooth for several days.

GPS Comparisons

Global positioning system (GPS) is becoming an integral part of today’s lifestyle. Almost everyone has come into contact with a GPS unit. Some say that most GPS units function the same way but there are others who are critical of every minute detail of their GPS unit. Conducting GPS comparison shopping will enable a consumer to know which GPS is the most helpful for his requirements. Below is a GPS comparison shopping guide:

The Tomtom 910 Go

There is a high chance you’ve already heard of the Tomtom 910 Go GPS unit if you’re a GPS comparison shopper. It has been talked about both in the radio and on television. This vehicle-focused GPS unit includes a detailed map of Europe and North America. The map has already been pre-installed and you can use it immediately.

Because the maps are already in the unit, a user simply needs to enter his starting point and his destination. And the Tomtom 910 Go will take you there. The GPS unit will give you a minimum of four routes so you can identify the shortest route, routes without toll roads, and the roads with the least traffic.

Aside from this, it also has a notable 20GB memory space. There is sufficient room for your MP3s and digital images. The touch screen 4″ display is a sophisticated feature that lets you avoid the hassles of using buttons.

The Garmin Quest

Most users know that the Garmin Quest has long been established by GPS comparison shoppers as one of the most durable systems available today. Whether you’re driving, biking, hiking, or even boating, this GPS unit is a good addition to your equipment.

GPS comparison shoppers have also noted that the Garmin Quest has long battery life and accuracy. The 256-color transflective (TFT) display has high resolution and its antenna has a WAAS receiver. These features enable the system to be accurate for up to nine feet.

In addition, the AutoRoute Basemap is pre-installed on the unit. Users will be able to see interstates, lakes, rivers, and major highways in North America and South America.

Garmin’s ETrex Legend

If you’re looking for a sleek GPS unit, look no further than the Garmin’s ETrex Legend. Aside from its notable design, it is also comfortable to hold in your hand. You can literally take it anywhere because of its small size. Don’t overlook its features though because its screen, memory, and battery life is decent as well. When you do a GPS comparison with other units this size, you’ll definitely realize that the Garmin’s ETrex Legend is one of the best there is.

Small Business Ideas – Finding and Developing Ideas For Your Small Business

Business ideas seem to be a dime a dozen. Being somewhat of an entrepreneurial enthusiast, I read and consume much regarding business ideas, developing markets, and innovative solutions to common problems. The question is: How far should we go before we decide an idea is not worth a second look?

As I started posting ideas on my site’s forum, I realized that a lot of my own ideas were receiving flak for being a little “out there.” Admittedly, I did post the “Shower Tower” idea because I was more interested in starting discussion and debate to generate readership and loyalty for the site, not because I intended to develop a feasibility study on its relevance and viability. However, the question came to mind-to what extent should we discuss ideas before we either:

  • throw them out as impossible, unrealistic, unfeasible, etc.
  • take them to the next step and begin researching a feasibility study/business plan
  • assume all systems go and begin developing the business model immediately (most likely reserved for time-sensitive start-ups involving tech industries)

As a strong believer in the “less is more” mentality, I apply a quick set of criteria to each new idea thrown my way that helps me decide which route to take, so I don’t waste my own/my clients’/my colleague’s time (each response should be in sentence form, but the more concise, the better. One- to two-sentence responses are best):

  • What is the business model (how will you profit from the idea)?
  • What is the target market (who will buy your idea)?
  • What is the estimated cost and time-to-market?
  • Is it scalable?

These key questions are of course not all-inclusive, but they help me quickly and relatively accurately assess the elements that would need to researched more fully if I were to run a feasibility plan on the idea. As an example, here’s my question and answer sheet from the Shower Tower idea:

  • What is the business model? People will pay a premium price for a secluded, luxurious, relaxing bath/shower/nap experience in the middle of their working day.
  • What is the target market? Executives and business professionals between the ages of 35-50 who live in large, metropolitan areas and work 9-5 jobs.
  • What is the estimated cost and time-to-market? At least 1.5M for start-up and first-year costs; at least 6 months- to 1-year for start-up time.
  • Is it scalable? Sure, a franchise or co-ownership deal would help expand the business to other cities and regions quite easily.

So, given the above answers, I have prepared a tiny little feasibility study to see if the idea would be worth my time to look into. I’m not interested in jumping in to this idea just yet and I don’t think the idea is time-sensitive (showers and personal relaxation and hygiene won’t ever go out of style!), so I’ll keep the idea in mind as I develop other mini-studies and business ideas.

Check out my personal blog and homepage for more information regarding small business success, social media, and business branding. If you’re interested in new business opportunities, come check out my FREE newsletter!

Improve Your Business With Digital Video and Multimedia Productions

Video is an extremely powerful media that can be used for many applications. Here is a list of the main areas for its use:

Promotional Videos–Include a corporate image video (on DVD, CD-ROM, on-line, or on videocassette) in your sales materials and presentations. Optimal length is approximately 4 to 7 minutes.

Employee Training and Orientation Videos–Use video to explain all the standard procedures and responsibilities involved with different processes, positions and your organization. Approximately 5-20 minutes.

Product Training Videos–Offer a reference for your customers to refer to when using your products. Approximately 5-20 minutes.

Point of Purchase and Trade Show Displays-Increase point-of-purchase sales in retail stores, at trade shows and other locations where customers are making their purchasing decisions with an attention grabbing video. Approximately 2 to 4 minutes of looping video.

Events and Seminars–Capture your event or seminar on video! We can provide you with single or multiple camera production services, depending on your needs.

Or you can show video at your events. Nothing mixes it up and creates a ‘mental break’ like video. At your next convention or event, you can have a looping video projected on a large screen that will display the information or message you wish to project (no pun intended!)

Or if you’re giving a seminar or other presentation, people appreciate an entertaining, informative multimedia or video presentation as a change of pace.

Television Commercials–Produce creative spots for cable and network television, posted on your website, or emailed to current or prospective clients. They should generally be 30 seconds in duration. However, a 60 second spot can also be effective.

Video News Release – This is a press release in video form. It is generally a 90-second video piece that is paid for by corporate sponsors and then distributed, via satellite or mail, to stations around the country to be included in local newscasts. They are, in effect, paid advertisements in a news format. When they are well made, it is almost impossible to distinguish them from a regular news segment. Fortune 500 companies create them to inform the public about their latest product research. And, in the last decade, a growing number of small companies have begun to use them as an effective public relations tool.

E-commercials – Break into the booming market of internet video advertising. Capture someone’s attention with a commercial on the Internet. These can be posted on your website, emailed to current or prospective clients, or posted on other websites for a fee. Generally 30 seconds. Occasionally 60 seconds.

Podcasting – Podcasting is yet another vehicle that people are using to send information out to people and promote their products. As defined by Wikopedia, a podcast is a digital media file (or a series of such files) that is distributed over the Internet using syndication feeds, for playback on portable media players and personal computers. Like ‘radio’, it can mean either the content itself or the method by which it is syndicated; the latter is also termed podcasting. The host or author of a podcast is often called a podcaster.

Podcasts can be downloadable from your website and listened to at any time. You can instantly establish yourself as an authority (and possible a vendor) for a variety of topics and needs.

High Definition – If it has to be dramatic and the best quality, then High Definition (HD) is the way to go. The image quality rivals film, yet HD is much less expensive. Within the next one to two years, everyone will be using HD. Why not get a head start on the crowd and differentiate yourself from the pack? There are different ‘flavors’ of HD out there, so you may want to consult with an expert (such as Video One!) to discuss which type is appropriate for your needs.

Massage Universities – Teaching Tomorrow’s Natural Healers

Find Massage Universities in the United States and Canada. Massage universities offer more than just curriculums in bodywork; they provide training and education that last a lifetime. In general, massage universities and schools teach students how natural healing therapies like massage can positively impact personal health – mind, body and spirit.

Good examples of some of the many healing arts that are taught at massage universities include Lomi Lomi (Hawaiian massage), Oriental massage, Thai massage, Tuina (Chinese medical massage), esalen massage, Feldenkrais, acupressure, deep tissue massage, sports massage, Swedish massage, chair massage, perinatal massage, geriatric massage, cancer massage, lymphatic massage, among numerous others.

Future natural healers discover that massage universities and schools not only extend practical training in various body work modalities, but also in natural healthcare therapies like herbology, aromatherapy, holistic nutrition, spa management, hydrotherapy, energy medicine, and more. In addition, all massage universities provide basic anatomy and physiology.

Students enrolled in massage universities will often learn about kinesiology, which is a technique that measures muscle resistance in relation to common pathologies. Furthermore, students gain hands-on, clinical training in various massage techniques.

While most massage universities and schools offer standard training between 300 to 500 hours, prospective students find that a great number of these educational institutions provide up to and over 1,000 clinical and classroom hours.

Aside from the potential of earning lucrative wages,* (According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, massage therapists can earn over $30 hourly.) certified and/or licensed massage therapists who have graduated from one of many massage universities and colleges find the biggest rewards in personally being able to help in healing others.

If you (or someone you know) are interested in finding massage universities, let career training within fast-growing industries like massage therapy, cosmetology, acupuncture, oriental medicine, Reiki, and others get you started! Explore career school programs [] near you.

Massage Universities: Teaching Tomorrow’s Natural Healers
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Cooking As A Culinary Art

Culinary arts is the art of cooking. Cooking is a way to prepare food that will be eaten or served to other people.

The culinary arts is comprised of many categories – some of which are tools, methods, combination of spices and ingredients that adds flavour to the food. It normally needs the right measurements, proper selection and accurate combination of ingredients involved to reach desired result.

The diversity of the Culinary arts around the world mirrors many considerations such as:

- Economic

- Aesthetic

- Nutritional

- Religious

- Cultural

1. The Dawn Of Fire

The culinary arts, if not always, is associated with fire. The heat generated by fire is oftentimes required to be applied to be able to change the food’s texture, flavour, nutritional contents and even its appearance. Heating is important in the culinary arts because it disinfects the food and makes it softer. The food danger zone is between 4 to 60 degrees Celsius. Within these temperatures, the bacteria found in the found or even those that were transferred to the food can grow at a very alarming rate. Under ideal conditions bacteria can double their population every twenty minutes. Although at a glance, these foods may not appear harmful, when ingested they can be. Many people have the misconception that bacteria will die when we freeze our food or refrigerate them, but this actually does not rid the food of bacteria, merely it slows down their expansion.

2. Baking

Baking is probably the most famous department in the culinary arts. In the culinary arts, baking is the art of cooking food using an oven. The food is cooked through applying dry heat evenly through the oven and onto the food. It is used in producing pastry based goodies such as pies, tarts and cakes. The dry heat in the oven causes the starch to gelatinize and results to the browning or charring of the outside of the food. Some uneducated in the culinary arts might think that the charred part or the brown part is not as tasty as it sounds, but this part is actually what gives taste and flavour to the baked good, partly sealing the moisture of the food. The browning apparent in the baked good is caused by the sugar caramelizing and the chemical reaction that happens between the reduction of sugar and the amino acid (Maillard reaction). Moisture in the baked goody, on the other hand, is not really completely kept in, in time as the goody is being baked it will become drier and drier.

3. Boiling

Another category is boiling. Boiling is when there is a rapid vaporization of any liquid when the liquid is heated. In cooking, boiling is divided into many other categories. Blanching, a cooking term used to describe the submersion of food into boiling water and removing it after a certain period of time and then throwing it into cold water or letting water run over it causing the firming of food. Pressure cooking is when food is cooked inside an enclosed cooking tool that would limit the air that’s coming in or going out of that tool – this technique speeds up the pace of cooking. Stewing would probably be the most popular cooking technique in the culinary arts division. It is a method where meats are cut up into smaller pieces and along with some vegetables are simmered into a liquid. Simmering, then again is a cooking method where the liquid is barely kept away from its boiling point. Other boiling techniques are braising, codding, steaming, infusion, poaching, double steaming, steeping and vacuum flask cooking.

4. Other

To most Americans, microwaving and grilling are the most common forms of cooking. Microwaving is the easiest and simplest form of cooking; it is a technique used mostly to reheat sumptuous meals ready to be consumed. And for grilling, most Americans have a grill station in their backyard. Grilling is a roasting method that is cooking directly under a source of heat. Other roasting methods are Barbecuing, Searing and Rotisserie. A less common method is smoking meat, or even salting it.