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Thank you for visiting our site. For over 25 years DEC International has delivered exclusive content to thousands of companies just like yours! What makes us different and of value to you is the wide breadth of services we offer that allow you to time your sales efforts more effectively than anywhere else. DEC has a unique outlook on researching; we believe it is a cooperative effort between our Members and ourselves. Finally, we know that we work at your pleasure.

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DEC Internatinal News

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Should I Stay or Should I Go?

StayOrGoLike the popular motel commercial you hear on TV; the question is also applicable to most of our customers who have clients not hundreds of miles away, but sometimes just down the street. Through the prism of over 30 years watching and participating in the Atlanta/Georgia market, we’ve rarely seen a period with so many people as frantically busy as at present.

While we are busy today, there will likely be a time in the not too distant future where business slows down or becomes more competitive. While the number of suppliers has been contracting, that trend will not continue indefinitely. Where there is profit, there is competition. The same goes for subs as well. Each month our Business Facts Report dutifully reports dozens and sometimes hundreds of new companies either being created or moving into our market that are construction centric. Today we have spot shortages; tomorrow there will be surpluses in labor and suppliers.

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Servant Sales

Efficient selling meets the new world order

I grew up like most of us did. I learned that there is essentially nothing new under the sun when it comes to human relations. We relabel it; we package old ideas and sell them as new. People are people after all; right? And, so I believed for almost all of my adult life. I listened to a new book over the last few weeks that changed my perspective in a couple of important ways. The book is “To Sell is Human” by Daniel Pink. This is easily the most complex sales book I have ever read/listened to. Many thoughts, many examples, many conclusions, all carefully laid out for you to understand and implement. Somewhere between the old prospect, qualify, interact and close methodology and Pink’s version of a Brave New World is where I fall right now (subject to change) and I wanted to share some of his key concepts that I took away on first listen.

  • The information revolution, and particularly social media, have made a profound change in both consumer and business to business selling by empowering your customer with knowledge, advice and alternatives never before available so easily. From technocrats to the 80 year old granny at home, all have access to the world; and they are doing so frequently.
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Can Do!

body youcandoitDo you make excuses or get it done?

We run this article every year because it’s something we all need to hear and think about on a regular basis. For those not old enough to remember, "Can Do" was a popular 50's expression that articulated a nation's conviction that an individual’s will is pretty much all that’s needed to overcome life’s challenges. More than a cliché, "Can Do" is a statement of expectation. Expectation that you can rely on what I say and that I will do whatever needs to be done. Was life really so simple in times past and have we lost that expectation that anything is possible if we want it enough and are willing to work for that goal?

Managers assign work to their associates with an ever-increasing concern as to whether the assigned task will be completed without problems. More and more, people assigned tasks are not performing them in either a timely manner or to completion. This is even more of a problem when that person is also independent. If your company has this problem, whose fault is it, what can you do about it and what are reasonable expectations? Answers to these questions and others are vital to your sales success.

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DEC International May Newsletter Danger Close

Danger CloseHow to avoid your own blue on blue accidents

 

When our soldiers are fighting an enemy at very close quarters the term “Danger Close” is communicated to all the friendly forces coming to help. The idea of broadcasting “Danger Close” is to ensure that responding forces know there is little room for error; and to be careful not to target your own guys in the heat of battle. So called Blue on Blue fratricide.   After almost 40 years of working with residential and commercial contractors and subs I’m ready to stop blaming the vagaries of the market and instead identify the number one killer of profits and long-term viability is companies’ inability to recognize their own mistakes and dangerous trends.

A week or two ago our Permit Department entered approximately 1,400 permits for that week. A number we have not seen in about seven or eight years. Whether those numbers hold up on an ongoing basis or not, I can’t tell you for sure, but what it does do is to remind me that when we are most busy, we tend to also have the most blind spots. You see it in the frantic pace many of our members keep up and the issues we see in marketing. Not enough of our members are broadening their base at the moment as they seek to collect the low hanging fruit first with the resources they have on hand. I hear over and over again, how difficult it is to get someone on the phone or in person. You have got to ask the question; is the right information getting to the top and then acted on?

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Monkey Experiment Proves Corporate Policy

five monkeys

Gail Riegelmayer is a close friend and a business coach. She wrote the following metaphor that seeks to explain why we sometimes institutionalize dumb policies and procedures. I hope you read along and enjoy this piece as much as I did.

Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the other monkeys with cold water. After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result, and all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon the monkeys will try to prevent it.

Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm! Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth.

Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked. Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey. After replacing all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana. Why not? Because as far as they know that’s the way it’s always been done around here.

And that, my friend, is how a company policy begins.

Note:  This is not an actual experiment but rather, it is a metaphor for what happens in

             business, families and other groups when policies or procedures are not questioned. 

             What’s important to remember is that some things outlive their relevance, so it’s okay

             to ask  “Why?”

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Let the Prospect Close the Deal!!

handsHave you ever tried one of those tricky “closing techniques” that are supposed to transform hesitant prospects into instant customers?

Some of the “experts” on this topic tell you to say things like, “Would you rather have it in blue or in yellow?” Or, “Do you want delivery on the first or the eighth?” Or, “Let’s go ahead and get the paperwork started. Here, you can use my pen.” (Then you hand the person a fancy pen.) Or, “Try it for 30 days. If you don’t like it, we’ll take it back.”

The problem with all of these techniques is that prospects can see them coming a mile away, and they usually feel like they’re under attack – which they are.

Salespeople who use these techniques, and others just as ineffective, do so because they are under the mistaken belief that these tricks sometimes deliver sales. Actually, when prospects decide to buy after the salesperson has said something like this, they buy in spite of the closing technique, not because of it. Instead of trying to use a tricky closing maneuver at the end of the sales process, you should secure commitment for a yes-or-no decision before you even make your presentation.

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2014 in the Mirror - We do our Crystal Ball Gazing Act

Crystal BallPerfect Knowledge would be the ultimate way to get ahead. Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone who has it and you probably don’t either. The next best thing though is a great sense of what’s happened in the past and an excellent grasp of the various external factors that frequently control events. Almost all our members are Georgia based or at least focused on this market. Georgia and particularly the Atlanta environs have gone through at least nine up and down economic cycles since I became involved in 1978. Until the most recent down cycle hit, Atlanta and by extension Georgia had what I would characterize as a coastal climate, i.e. we did not get the low, lows that inland communities got, we remained relatively temperate when it was freezing elsewhere. Not so this time. The economic tsunami that flooded the country did not spare us.

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Start Low, No Dough, Start High, Money to Buy

girl-holding-hand-up-stopOne of the five most  important tenets of selling!

A friend of mine wrote about what I consider one of the big five of selling…starting at the right level. If you start at the right level, you can figure out most everything you need to understand about the customer and his project.  Without this knowledge, you are just another bidder among many.

I got a one-line e-mail the other day:

“How can I get around a lower-level person (without making them mad)?”

Ever been blocked before? It’s a pretty common problem. It occurs for 2.5 reasons:

1. You get an inquiry from a lower-level person directed by the boss to go on a scouting mission, find facts and prices, and report back to daddy. 

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Are You Making Money?

atlasWhat’s the difference between cash flow and profit?

Everyone in business should read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. With all the Anti-Wall Street and anti-business rhetoric you hear daily, one might be afraid to own up to their capitalist leanings. Admitting that we work for money symbolizes capitalism. Ayn Rand said “Money demands of you the highest virtues.” Unfortunately, the general message out there today is: Dollars are money, money symbolizes capitalism; capitalism is immoral. Don’t believe it. Making money demands our best. Having money or spending money is not the same thing. The question to ask: Are you making money? Let’s have a reality check.

It is our belief, based on our day-to-day dealings with dozens of southeastern companies, that money remains tight, especially for small businesses. Further, many companies really don’t understand why things are the way they are. We hear the following frustrations:

  • Customers owe me a lot of money.
  • There’s too much competition.
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Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

Are Your salespeople learning one thing and doing another

dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde-jeremy-mooreYou remember the Robert Louis Stevenson classic don’t you?  Dr. Jekyll, the brilliant, compassionate scientist who wanted to do nothing but good, and the creature he turned into after he drank a concoction that turned him into a hulking, evil scoundrel.  The line between good and evil or, in our case, the line between excellence and incompetence, is neither clearly drawn nor obvious.  In over 30 years of being in business, I can count the number of intentional Mr. Hyde’s on the fingers of one hand.  Yet, I have run across innumerable unintentional Mr. Hyde’s that moved to the dark side without intent.  Today, we’re going to explore the relationship between hiring, training and practice, and the role of management in keeping you in the light!

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Is He Talking About You?

mandeskphone

  • I don't know who you are.
  • I don't know your company.
  • I don't know your company's product.
  • I don't know what your company stands for.
  • I don't know your company's customers.
  • I don't know your company's record.
  • I don't know your company's reputation.
  • Now- what was it you wanted to sell me?"

Moral: Sales start before your salesman calls......... with business publication advertising.

 

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Why Standing Still is Not an Option

Grow or die is not just an old cliché!

track-runnerAlmost all of us like to read articles and lists that deal with superlatives. The best this, the largest that. Seeing that list of the 25 largest, biggest or most admired makes us aspire to be just like them. Too often though, that fame can be fleeting. Pick up any annual ranking of just about anything, go back 10 years and look at the same list. You’ll likely find that many of the companies and people mentioned are missing in action. Today’s star is tomorrow’s road kill.

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Reading the Tea Leaves on Atlanta Construction

With all the conflicting signals which direction makes sense?

tealeavesWhat’s happening with residential and commercial construction in the Atlanta region and what to expect going forward? That’s our task for the day but first, a little bit of history to put things in perspective. Through the nearly 35 years we’ve watched the Atlanta region there has been a tendency for residential to lead commercial construction activity, but not always. At times, new arterial roads and highways become significant growth vectors that lead to commercial activity preceding residential construction. In the classic “build it and they will come” concept that’s all you need, but in practice that does not always work. This was particularly true on the south side of Atlanta where commercial got way ahead of residential construction with dire results for some. Commercial construction pulled way back but did not experience the expected foreclosure cliff forecasted by many pundits. We are still absorbing a lot of properties, even to this day. However, shortages are developing in more than a few geographic areas and a general shortage of land for homebuilding (again in specific areas) is putting some of those old metrics back into play. Commercial is not dead!

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Hold on to Your Golden Goose!

Client Retention: The key to long term success and profitability

Golden GooseWork is booming right now. Particularly so in the single and multi-family sectors. This writer is pretty long in the tooth and remembers how cyclic our industry is. Boom today could be bust in just a few months. We don’t predict that happening; we just know that too many of us don’t keep in mind how important client retention is. Another trap some members are fighting is their dearth of available time leading to putting out whatever fire is most expedient at the time. Sooner or later, that kind of management will bite you. Staff appropriately or risk eventually losing that backlog.

With all the studies out there on the cost of finding a new customer, you would think that the relatively low cost of retaining a client would be a no-brainer. Oh, would it not be so! Today, we will spend a few moments pondering the obvious and not so obvious. Read along with me.

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Top of Mind

Top of Mind

What does it take to be an ace salesperson? The perfect product that is in demand? Great training, an incredible script, superior leads, a wonderful team that delivers on time and perfectly? What about better pricing than your competitors and industry respect? Could you name some other factors that would ensure your success? I’ll bet you could. However, none of these factors by themselves or in combination will not ensure your success.

In over 40 years of buying and selling I’ve heard every reason for success or lack thereof. I’ve seen this or that surefire sales technique, method, strategy or fad and, I’ve seen them reborn and recast in different names and at different times. Ever since the first wine was sold by a merchant perhaps 20,000 years ago some were good at it and some were not. Why are some more successful than others?

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Ten Commandments of Selling

tencommandments

None of us are above the need for the occasional reminder or the need to once again be reminded of what’s important. Most of our readers are small business people. That means we have many roles that tug at us constantly. That’s why it is important to occasionally review what’s important, what I call first order tasks. While everyone has their favorite list, here’s a friends list of the 10 Commandments of Selling that I think is particularly well done Let it be a great springboard for further conversation and review. Here they are along with my comments.

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Sales Tips from the River

Sales Tips from the River

Mark Twain was fascinated by those river pilots who spent their entire lives learning and relearning the ever changing meandering of the mighty Mississippi. With drought and then floods, the mighty Mississippi was a challenge to keep up with, then and now. It was impossible to learn the right way to cruise that river once and for all as the ever changing shoals, sandbars and currents constantly rewrote the charts with not so much as a mind your manners glance. We too must be pilots on our uncharted journey. Never much of a fan of group think, leadership and innovation are among the single most important qualities top management can bring to the table these days. Today we will discuss basic concepts and ideas that will help you and your company prosper regardless of the economic conditions that come and go just as the channel constantly shifts on the mighty Mississippi. Let’s give it a go; shall we?

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An Awkward Start to a Short Relationship

Let’s start with the obvious…every salesperson wants to sell his/her services to their particular market. That’s a given. However, that’s all which is pretty much a certainty. Acquiring and holding profitable customers is the end game for Sales people, Business Owners and other Managers. Too often the optics is flat wrong. For many, the sales process winds up being a static two dimensional problem rather than the moving and three dimensional process that it is. At least every other blog entry I publish, I go out of my way to state that selling requires more planning, effort, smarts and dedication than probably any other position in your company. If it looks easy, it is because someone has spent a very long time figuring out the ins and outs of the process and continually puts his/her best foot forward. For most of us though, selling is a little bit like cornering that big game tiger only to find out that it is you and not he who is cornered.

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Message Received = More Money!!!!

Jack Nicholson played a scrappy no-nonsense Colonel in the movie “A Few Good Men.” When giving orders to his men the Colonel often asked “are we clear?” the correct answer was always “crystal” as in crystal clear. When communicating with our prospects being understood should not be something subject to interpretation. It should be clear, unambiguous and succinct. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the military training that fosters this “in-your-face” type of communication. On second thought I am not sure that your prospects may be entirely ready for it either! Nevertheless, you and your prospects deserve to be understood. It’s a waste of everybody’s time and counterproductive for each party to a conversation to take away a different meaning. Today let’s talk about the ways we can ensure that your message is received.

There are three primary techniques to ensure your prospect and you are on the same wavelength:

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21 Proven Methods to Put More $ In Your Pocket

Sometimes I feel like the preacher with too few butts in the pews! As a whole (particularly for smaller operations) when it comes to sales we operate in a reactionary manner. When we enjoy good times, we focus on the work ahead and during bad times we save what we can. For over 20 years we’ve preached the importance of playing a reasoned game that most always moves the ball forward or at least minimizes your losses. This requires planning, good execution and constant attention to the action on the field so that you can make the adjustments that current conditions require. Today, we challenge our readers to take advantage of a market that still has many challenges to overcome. For too many of us, selling and profitability sometimes go in opposite directions. But, it all starts with sales and that’s what we’re going to talk about today. Here are some actionable points we’d like you to take to heart:

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Products

Business Facts - Learn about new businesses.
Planning & Zoning - Early real estate development information.
Permit Facts - New construction and renovation permits.
Atlanta Housing Report - Permits for new construction.
Prospector - All things commercial construction in Atlanta and environs

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