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Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Myth of “Small Talk” OCTOBER 30, 2011By Kelley Robertson

Sales experts have long touted the value ofestablishing rapport with prospects before moving into the sales conversation. This exercise includes looking around a prospect’s office to determine points of conversation or areas of commonality and then making small talk in order to bond with the prospect.
Recently, I suggested that salespeople should not use valuable sales time to engage people in social chit-chat. Not surprisingly, I received comments and emails from people who disagreed with me. And that’s OK.
But why are so many people stuck on this concept? There was a time when this strategy was extremely valid, useful and effective. However, decision makers in today’s hectic business world are far too busy to waste valuable time on social chit-chat. They honestly don’t care if you have something in common with them. And they certainly see through your attempts to use photos and awards to better connect with them.
If you really want to establish rapport with busy prospects, then get to the point of your meeting as quickly as you can. Or, ask them a question or two about their business.
A few weeks ago, I met with a new prospect and, as I was taking a seat in his office, I made a simple comment about the upcoming expansion of his business. This prompted him to tell me about the company’s plans and gave me additional insight into his situation. We were developing rapport, but it was not based on small talk or social chit-chat but something pertinent to our meeting.
Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. For example:
  • If you are waiting for other people to arrive, small talk is usually necessary. After all, you don’t want to sit there in complete silence. Not only would that be uncomfortable, you would probably be perceived as being a dork.
  • If several people are present and introductions are being made, there may be opportunities to engage some of them in social chit-chat. Be sensitive to the time and avoid spending too much time on pleasantries.
Is there a time and place for rapport-building conversation? Absolutely!
It just isn’t the same as it used to be. The key is to be selective and recognize when it makes sense to engage in small talk. Don’t do it just because you think it is the best way to open the sales conversation. Focus on the objective of the meeting first, get down to business quickly and, when you’re finished, initiate a personal conversation.

In East Harlem, ‘Keep Out’ Signs Apply Even to Renters

                                                                                                                         Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

Several buildings in East Harlem have bustling storefronts, yet the residential units above are empty, some for decades.

The Problem With Challenges by PAUL CASTAIN on OCTOBER 29, 2011

I suppose I could give you the old “glass half full” sermon today with regard to life’s challenging moments . . . but I won’t.
Today, I’m going to call it like I see it and tell you what truly sucks about our challenges!
They distract us from all the other things that we are truly blessed with!
Challenges can be like that person at the table who won’t shut up long enough for everyone else to get a word in edgewise.
Challenges can be like that person who is always striving for attention . . .
They are the “drama queens (and kings)” the “divas” and . . .
we often let them win our focus . . .
At the price of the blessings that are quite plentiful when counted!

Branding Yourself . . . With Attitude! by PAUL CASTAIN on OCTOBER 29, 2011

News Flash . . . You don’t have to be like everyone else!
In fact . . . Please don’t!
There are many ways to stand out, in fact you could do a real good job of it by being a Grade A A-Hole but this is about standing out in a good way :)
Sometimes (emphasis on the word “sometimes”) controlled doses of attitude and edge provide a much needed breath of fresh air.
Just make sure your fluff is backed up with true substance!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Building Consumer Trust, One Client at a Time OCTOBER 27, 2011By Andy Stonehouse

This week’s LIMRA annual conference came at an interesting time in New York City, and not just as those Occupy Wall Street folks raged on and some very high-profile insider trading charges were leveled.
Rather, about the most interesting experience I had, my trip to the city being one of only a few visits I’ve ever made, was hearing that the city would like to crack down on one of its least pleasant consumer experiences: the never-ending barrage of honking cab horns, 24 hours a day. 
Riders, apparently, are now being requested to gentlyask their cabbie not to honk so much and to pay heed to the signs warning of $350 penalties for laying on the horn. To which the cabbies, in their various native dialects, said something to the effect of “Fuhgidabowdit,” and then continued to drive 110 mph down Lexington Avenue, honking all the way.
Leaving poor pedestrians like myself feeling a bit more like Ratso Rizzo in "Midnight Cowboy" in the process.
Better customer service and trust was also on the minds of the LIMRA folks and a session I attended during the conference offered some prudent advice to all manner of financial advisors, including those in the wealth management area.
Robert Baranoff, FLMI, LIMRA’s senior VP of member benefits, rolled through some of the organization’s recent research on the topic.
Their observations? While 58 million Americans are aware they need a better handle on their financial planning, the recurring comment is that they’re looking for someone to trust – and Wall Street isn’t high on the list, at present.
To gain trust, Baranoff suggested employing a bit of behavioral economic theory in advisors’ discussions with their clients, including some simple notions:
  • Tell stories and use your experiences to talk about the benefits of the tools you can provide
  • Don’t go into incredible detail during a first client meeting
  • Engage them and make the prospect feel like they’re a part of the process
  • Help visualize the benefits and the positive outcomes of your services, and don’t scare them
  • Consider products with multiple uses, where the money invested can be used for other purposes 
Other suggestions were equally helpful:
  • Ensure that your clients understand what you’re doing
  • Use tables and graphs to illustrate the benefits
  • Personalize the presentation to the client
  • Offer options, but limit them to three at most
  • Explain all of your recommendations
  • Above all, respect the customer – don’t talk down to them
Baranoff’s counterpart, Kathryn Reid, also added some good advice: buying anything isn’t a rational process, though this is the opposite of how investment products work.
Customers buy products based on emotion, to conform with others or because something happened to a friend and they want to prevent the same economic problems, she explained.
Therefore, it’s critical to take complexity out of the equation through the use of language, and help make it easier for clients to decide what they want to do.
About the Author
Andy StonehouseAndy Stonehouse
Andy Stonehouse is editor of Agent's Sales Journal and Wealth Management and Markets channel editor for LifeHealthPro.com. He can be reached at astonehouse@sbmedia.com.

Paul Simon - You Can Call Me Al

Thursday, October 27, 2011

5 Tips to Better Sales Emails October 27, 2011 By Bill Rice

Email is still the most effective marketing technique. It’s easy to automate and highly efficient at bringing in qualified new leads. Whether you are managing a large marketing list or trying to open the door on a new major accounts, these are a few tips proven to increase your email sales results.
Sales email

1. Subject Line That Look Human

It all starts here. Even the best of emails will go unopened 60-80% of the time. That’s why repetition and frequency is important, but that’s another topic. However, to get that 20-40% open rate you have to make it look like something worth opening.
Here’s my mental checklist:
  • Does it look like a subject line a friend or family member might write
  • Make it short and avoid Title Case (marketer red flag)
  • Make it interesting, maybe even a little mysterious

2. Short and Casual Copy

Make your email short. No one reads email, they glance at it. If they open yours and it looks like a college term paper, even in the best of scenarios, they will file it for later. Most likely they will delete it.
Keep everything casual. Again complex and formal gets filed for later. Simple and breezy copy gets them to glance at your offer.

3. Add a Little Value

The body of your email should flow naturally from your subject line. In other words it should fulfill the promise of the subject line. If you promised secrets, a list, or 5 tips–make sure they are there. This gives the customer the feel of real value–something to try now.
You noticed I mentioned secrets, lists, and tips. This is what people open emails for. Even if you are selling something make sure you are giving them a secret, a list, or some tips to validate the value and credibility of your offer.

4. Create a Sense of Urgency

Open up Google or Yahoo! News. Grab something from the headlines. Something that is already probably top of mind. Weave it into your offer. Make it be the reason they need to drop everything to act on your email.
My experience has shown me that buzz topics get the best response, but you can also try special offers and discounts. However, I think most customers are numb to those techniques.

5. Make Action Clear and Easy

MOST IMPORTANT ALERT! Sorry for all the caps, but I see this mistake all the time and it kills email performance.
Give your email reader only one thing to do. Request only one action in your email. And make it crazy obvious and easy.
If you want them to come to your website make a big button and say. “Get X at My Website.”
Don’t say, “Buy my book, or click on that ad in the corner, or follow me on Twitter, or call me, or email me a good time to talk, or, or, or, or.” Your email reader will do nothing. Guaranteed!
What are your secrets to selling with email? Do you have any tricks that work like magic? Tell us in the comments.

The Rising Price of Retirement As more people work part-time rather than hit the greens, the formula for how much they need to live on is changing. Their tax rate may not fall, and expenses may be higher than planned By Chris Farrell

Mention the word "retirement," and most people shudder. The term seems synonymous these days with the phrase, "you can't afford it." More than half of workers in the 2011 Retirement Confidence Survey by the Employee Benefits Research Institute say the total value of their household's savings and investments, excluding the value of their home and any defined benefit plans, is less than $25,000. Housing wealth has vaporized for many households. More than 27 percent of all residential properties with a mortgage—13.4 million homeowners—had negative-equity or near-negative-equity mortgages at the end of 2010, according to CoreLogic, an information and analytics firm.
Times remain tough even though the stock market is up 97 percent from its March 2009 low and the economy is gathering steam. The government's broadest measure of unemployment, and underemployment, is at 15.7 percent, and household budgets are being squeezed by rising food and oil prices—not to mention miniscule yields on savings. It all reinforces the fact that one must confront huge areas of uncertainty when planning for the last stage of life. The answer to the question "how much will you need?" depends on a series of imponderables, from the timing of your death to your health in old age.
Nevertheless, the pervasive gloom about retirement is overdone. Fact is, people are quite creative at coming up with solutions. Case in point: An aging generation isn't really retiring, at least not in the traditional sense of the word. (Think golf.) They may say goodbye to their employer and colleagues for the last time, but they're continuing to work, usually part-time. (Think consulting.) Call it the partial retirement or the job-tirement. It allows savings to compound longer. Delaying taking Social Security benefits locks in a more generous payout. "People aren't slowing down in their 60s and 70s," says Ross Levin, a certified financial planner (CFP) and president of Accredited Investors in Edina, Minn. Adds Joel Larsen, a CFP with Navion Financial Advisors in Davis, Calif.: "If you really like what you're doing, why retire?"


Just ask Don Lambert, age 67. The engineering manager retired from Fisher Controls (now Emerson Process Management, a division of Emerson) in 2002. He spent 32 years with the company, half of it abroad, mostly working on projects in the Middle East and Africa. He lives in Ames, Iowa, and when he retired he set up a consulting firm with Fisher as a client. He spent two years on contract with Fisher in Saudi Arabia, where the only thing he had to pay for out of pocket was his "newspaper and haircuts." He still works about two days a week and spends the rest of his time doing community volunteer work with the Rotary International, Meals on Wheels, and the Iowa Council for International Understanding. Lambert has a defined benefit pension plan, Social Security, savings, and no debt. He takes out roughly 3 percent of his savings a year. "I don't need to draw on a lot of my savings yet," he says.
The twin benefit from a higher Social Security benefit and returns that have compounded longer is striking. The Social Security payout rises 8 percent a year for every year of delay after age 62 and before age 70. Laurence Kotlikoff, finance professor at Boston University and head of ESPlanner, an online financial planning website, ran a simulation. Among the key assumptions: A couple is 60 years old, each earns $100,000, and they have a total retirement portfolio worth $2 million. If they elect to take Social Security at age 62 in 2013, they draw on enough of their savings for a total income averaging around $140,000 for the next 38 years. That means they can maintain their standard of living at 70 percent of preretirement income.
Yet if the same couple shifts to part-time work in 2013, making $30,000 each for four years, draws on their 401(k)s, and waits until age 70 to file for Social Security, their discretionary spending jumps by 14 percent, to nearly $160,000 over the next four decades. "To get the same living-standard-hike, the couple would need to find $455,000 lying on the street," says Kotlikoff.


But (you knew the "but" was coming, didn't you?) working longer complicates everyday money management by upending a few critical and common assumptions. A traditional benchmark is that in order for households to maintain their standard of living in retirement, they need approximately 70 percent of preretirement income. The lower figure comes from the assumption that a retiree will drop into a lower tax bracket, have more time to shop for deals, and won't incur many expenses associated with work. For instance, economists Mark Aguir of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and Erik Hurst of the University of Chicago delved into household data on food gathered by the U.S. Agriculture Dept. from the late '80s and early-to-mid '90s. They found spending on food fell 17 percent among retired households while the time spent making meals rose by 53 percent. There was no real difference between eating out at table-service restaurants for those aged 60 to 62 (pre-peak retirement) and those 66 to 68 (post-peak retirement), except that the retired household spent 31 percent less on fast food and diners.
The old rule is obsolete for the partially retired. The retiree's tax bracket may not drop. The dry cleaning bill will probably stay the same. They're busy and just as likely to grab a burger before a meeting or stop for a takeout meal on the way home as they did before retirement. "I don't think the 70 percent rule applies," says Moshe Milesky, finance professor at York University in Canada and a wealth management and retirement expert. "It may be higher than that."
The other big change is that an aging, income-earning household needs to save from every paycheck, just like their younger co-workers. After all, the cost of goods and services used by the elderly is going up. True, over the past 12 months the consumer price index is up a mere 2.1 percent. Yet that average masks some critical differences. Fuel oil is up 27.1 percent and medical services 3 percent over the same period—a big blow to the budgets of the elderly—while the price of personal computers is down by 7.4 percent, which may be a boon to younger folks. Mutual fund giant Fidelity estimates a 65-year-old couple retiring in 2011 will need $230,000 to pay for medical expenses throughout retirement (and that does not include nursing-home care). "Every single one of our friends has had some serious financial surprise during retirement that was completely unseen," says Henry "Bud" Hebeler, the former president of Boeing Aerospace. His own "retirement" turned into a career offering retirement and financial-planning advice at his website, Analyzenow.com.
Hebeler has devised his own formula for how much to save in retirement while working. He recommends taking your monthly take-home pay, after all deductions and taxes; multiply it by the number of years you will still work, and divide that figure by the number of years it's possible you have to live. For example, say a 65-year-old plans on working another 10 years, expects to live to 95, and makes $2,100 a month after deductions for Social Security, Medicare, union dues, and the like. The monthly amount she can spend from that paycheck would be $700 (2,100 x 10/30 = $700). The remaining $1,400 should go right into savings. Clearly, this isn't our parent's retirement.
Farrell is contributing economics editor for Bloomberg Businessweek. You can also hear him on American Public Media's nationally syndicated finance program, Marketplace Money, as well as on public radio's business program Marketplace.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

10 Open Ended Sales Questions February 3, 2011 By Bill Rice

Open Ended Sales QuestionsPlenty of research has been on common sales questions done over the years. It has revealed that when talking with a potential client, it is important that you don’t lead or persuade a prospect into answering sales questions in a particular way. It is important to have the customer give a real honest answer to involve him or her in the sales process. Many sales tips include steering clear of yes or no questions by asking open ended question. Open ended question usually start with the words how, what, which, when, or where.
Here are ten great open ended questions to help land a sale:
1. “What has brought you in to see me today?”
2. “Why are you looking for a particular product or service?”
3. “Where do you currently get this product or service?”
4. “What do you currently like or dislike about this product or service?”
5. “What challenges have you faced in the past?”
Building rapport is another sales tip. If the potential customer feels they have a relationship with the sales person, they will be more likely to complete a sale. To help build rapport use the following open ended questions:
6. “How would you like this product or service to benefit you?”
7. “What about this product or service is important to you?”
8. “When would you need this?”
9. “What concerns do you have?”
The last open ended question is a great sales tip for a situation when the sales person doesn’t get enough information to make a good recommendation in order to complete the sale.
10. “How so?” or “Why is that?”
By using open ended questions, a sales person can make an appropriate recommendation and provide a product or service based on the customer specific needs. The sales person can feel they did a service for the customer instead of just being a product pusher. This will lead to better sales numbers and referrals.

Be Like George Washington October 26, 2011 By Bill Rice

George Washington was a famous listener.
In fact, even though he was unanimously elected president of the Constitutional Convention he rarely engaged in the debates. However, his influence is largely attributed for convincing all thirteen states to ratify the new Constitution.
George washington sales

Let the Client Sell You

My experience confirms this as a killer sales strategy. People love to talk. If you can restrain your urge to do the same your prospects and clients will invariably tell you exactly they need to hear to be convinced to make a decision.
Remember to listen closely so you don’t miss the gift.
Then when you do speak…simply give them the pitch they asked for it.

Stop Trolling for Hints

Those who don’t follow this advice often use a tactic I like to call baiting or trolling. This technique typically plays as badly to the client as it sounds. You’ve heard this sales people that are continually throwing out ideas and alternatives hoping the client twitches just right.
They think this is giving them a clue into their buying mindset. Typically, they are looking for a graceful way to get you off the phone or our of their office.

If You Talk Too Much

If you can’t hold your tongue you might end up being an example of Abraham Lincoln’s sage words.
“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The 3 Question Social Networking Test by PAUL CASTAIN on OCTOBER 24, 2011

1) Are you involved or are you on the sidelines?
2) Are you interacting or are you just broadcasting?
3) Are you “collecting” followers . . . or are you taking the time to connect.
Adjust accordingly or simply do nothing . . . both will get you results :)

A Simple Year End Gift! by PAUL CASTAIN on OCTOBER 25, 2011

What if you were to take the concept of 1 action per day towards one of your goals and you were to do it . . .
Each day
5 days per week (give yourself the weekends off you deserve it!)
By New Year’s Eve your goal will have had the benefit of already having 45 actions towards its realization!
At that point, while everyone else is talking “New Years Resolutions” . . .
You’ll have already RESOLVED and already enjoying a little something called . . .
I’ll leave you with a little something I tell my coaching clients . . .
Don’t disrespect the process because of its simplicity . . .
This is the stuff everyone misses . . . because they are distracted by a need to find
A big sexy answer!
You could change all that today with just 1 simple action!

The Evolution of Facebook, Part 1 OCTOBER 25, 2011By Amy Mcilwain

Brace yourselves: Facebook has already begun the phasing-in process of vast profile-page changes. At the recent F8 Developers Conference, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the unveiling of the new Timeline feature: “If the original profile was the first five minutes of your conversation and the stream is the next 15, then I want to show you the rest,” said Zuckerberg. He added that the Timeline would be “the story of your life,” calling it a “new way to express who you are.”
It would seem that Facebook has finally responded to the recent launch of Google+ with its own version of Circles‑Facebook’s Friend Lists. They’re even dabbling in Twitter’s bread and butter: the Ticker, a real-time feed of activity from your connections. From selective sharing to digital-footprint curating, Facebook is taking big risks to stay on top of the social networking hierarchy. Here’s what you need to know take advantage of these changes:
  • Your cover. Use this wide open space to share your personality, your experiences and your life with your network. It’s the first thing people see when they visit your Timeline.
  • Your stories. Share and highlight your most memorable posts, photos and life events on your Timeline. This is where you can tell your story from beginning to middle to now.
  • Your apps. The movies you quote, the songs you have on repeat, the activities you love—now there’s a new class of social apps that lets you express who you are through all the things you do.
So there you have it. Facebook’s reformulation of the new profile pages which, according to Zuckerberg, is an integral part of the Facebook experience: “We wanted to design a place that feels like your home. You invest a lot of time in it and you curate it.”
As the changes gradually roll out in the next couple of weeks, we’ll be able to see if the risky updates are worth it. In the meantime, check out the tips below, which will help you understand the best ways to interact with the updates.
  • When you get your timeline, you can choose to publish it immediately or take a few days to review what’s there and add anything that’s missing.
  • If important parts of your story aren’t included on your timeline, you can go back to when they happened and add them.
  • Go to your private activity log where you’ll find everything you shared since you joined Facebook. Click on any post to feature it on your timeline so your friends can see it, too.
  • Facebook apps need only ask permission once to share stories on your behalf.
  • All “lightweight” information is going to the Ticker, a real-time list of things your friends are posting now that scrolls down the side of your screen.
  • You can watch TV and movies, listen to music and read news with your friends, all within Facebook.
  • You no longer need 25 likes on a business page in order to grab a custom URL.




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