Monday, April 26, 2010

7 Ways to Boost Your Business, or How to Ask to Get Ahead
Written by Jack Canfield

Ask and you shall receive.

How many times have you heard that? But how many times have you used this fundamental truth in your daily life recently?

Let me put it this way: when was the last time you asked for a written endorsement from a client or colleague?

How about feedback from your customers? Or the opportunity to renegotiate something that just doesn't work for you?

I can't tell you how often I watch business professionals--especially those in sales and marketing positions--falter because they simply stop practicing the art of asking.

If you were to ask successful top executives how they got to where they are, I bet most would admit they "asked to get to the top." In other words, they knew when and how to ask the right questions so they could gather the right information, build their reputation, seek useful referrals, generate new business, and expand their audience or customer base.

If the simple act of asking is so critical, then why don't more people do it?

Because for some reason, people falsely think asking implies weakness and sets one up for potential rejection. It's easy to come up with all sorts of excuses to avoid asking questions that can return unexpected or critical answers. Yet the world responds to those who ask.
If you are not moving closer to what you want, you probably aren't doing enough asking.

Here are seven asking strategies you can implement in your business (and in life) to boost your results:

1.) Ask for Information
You can never have too much information; in fact, the higher up you go, the more you need to know. To win potential new clients, you first need to have an understanding about their current challenges, what they want to accomplish and how they plan to do it. Only then can you proceed to demonstrate the advantages of your unique product or service.
Ask questions starting with the words who, why, what, where, when and how to obtain the information you need. Only when you truly understand and appreciate a prospect's needs can you offer a solution.

2.) Ask for Business
Would you believe that more than 60 percent of the time salespeople never ask for the order after giving a complete presentation about the benefits of their product or service?!
It's true, and a painful statistic that could put anyone out of business quickly if it's not changed. Always ask a closing question to secure the business. Don't waffle or talk around it--or worse, wait for your prospect to ask you. No doubt you have heard of many good ways to ask the question, "Would you like to give it a try?" The point is, ask.

3.) Ask for Written Endorsements
These can be difficult to ask for if you don't like tooting your own horn, but well-written, results-oriented testimonials from highly respected people are powerful for future sales. They solidify the quality of your product or service and leverage you as a person who has integrity, is trustworthy and gets the job done on time.

When is the best time to ask? Right after you have provided excellent service, gone the extra mile, or made your customer really happy. Simply ask if your customer would be willing to give you a testimonial about the value of your product or service, plus any other helpful comments.

4.) Ask for Top-Quality Referrals
Just about everyone in business knows the importance of referrals. It's the easiest, least expensive way of ensuring your growth and success in the marketplace. Your core clients will gladly give you referrals because you treat them so well. So why not ask all of them for referrals? It's a habit that will dramatically increase your income. Like any other habit, the more you ask the easier it becomes.

5.) Ask for More Business
Look for other products or services you can provide your customers. Devise a system that tells you when your clients will require more of your products. The simplest way is to ask your customers when you should contact them to reorder. It's easier to sell your existing clients more than to go looking for new ones.

6.) Ask for Feedback
This is an important component of asking that is often overlooked. How do you really know if your product or service is meeting your customers' needs? Ask them, "How are we doing? What can we do to improve our service to you? Please share what you like or don't like about our products." Set up regular customer surveys that ask good questions and tough questions. It's a powerful way to fine-tune your business.

7.) Ask to Renegotiate
The negotiating room should never be locked up for good. Regular business activities include negotiation and often re-negotiation. Many networkers get stuck because they lack skills in negotiation, yet this is simply another form of asking that can save a lot of time and money. All sorts of contracts can be renegotiated in your personal life, too, such as changing your credit card terms and rates. As long as you negotiate ethically and in the spirit of a win-win, you can enjoy a lot of flexibility. Nothing is ever cast in stone. It's only in stone if you don't speak up!

The 5 Secrets to Successful Asking

The first stumbling block for most is knowing how to ask. There are five secrets to great asking that can guarantee you results, however big or small.

If you ever find yourself hitting brick walls and coming up short in responses, come back to these five tips:

  • Ask Clearly: No one likes getting a vague or fuzzy question. Be precise. Think clearly about your request. Take time to prepare. Use a note pad to pick words that have the greatest impact. Words are powerful, so choose them carefully.

    For example, if you throw out the "How am I doing?" question without specifics, it may take time for the other person to understand what you're talking about. Instead, try, "How is my attitude with customers? Do you see room for improvement? Where?"
  • Ask with Confidence: People who ask confidently get more than those who are hesitant and uncertain. When you've figured out what you want to ask for, do it with certainty, boldness and confidence. Practice in the mirror if you have to, or write out your question in advance.

    Be prepared to hear the unexpected or the unwanted. Try to have an open mind and heart (it's okay to feel intimidated by the experience, but don't show it). Don't get defensive if you hear something you don't like or that makes you uncomfortable. It's good to get a little uneasy once in a while upon the observations or insights of others. They will inspire you to stop, reflect, and take steps to make a shift for the better.
  • Ask Consistently: Top producers know that they can't quit if they ask once and don't get a good response. Keep asking until you find the answers, and try different ways of asking if one doesn't seem to be working.

    In prospecting there are usually four or five "no's" before you get a "yes." You may, for example, want to ask a co-worker about your performance on an important team project, but you sense reluctance from that person to offer an opinion.

    You can always ask another person who is more receptive to the question, or consider how you are asking it and try again. Because people don't normally go around asking others for opinions on how well they are doing, it's not a question typically heard. So be prepared to ask over and over again before you hear a clear--useful--answer.
  • Ask Creatively: In this age of global competition, your asking may get lost in the crowd, unheard by the decision-makers you hope to reach. There is a way around this. If you want someone's attention, don't ask the ordinary way. Use your creativity to dream up a high-impact presentation.

    Bear in mind that asking someone to stop and evaluate you can seem awkward or time-consuming. Show respect for them first and find the ideal time to ask the question. Here's one way to engage the insights of a superior: "I highly value your opinion and honest perspective, and would love to know what you think I could be doing differently on a daily basis that would make your life easier and make our clients happier."
  • Ask Sincerely: When you really need help, people will respond. Sincerity means dropping the image facade and showing a willingness to be vulnerable. Tell it the way it is, lumps and all. Don't worry if your presentation isn't perfect; ask from your heart. Keep it simple and people will open up to you.
Like speaking a different language, asking takes continual practice until it becomes a regular, reflexive habit. The sooner you build your "Ask Muscle", the sooner you'll see the results you've been waiting--and searching--for.

Don't think asking only relates to work-related goals and tasks. Bring this practice home to enrich your relationships with your family members and your friends, too!

I trust you'll be surprised and delighted at what you discover about yourself in this process.

Happy asking!

Jack Canfield, America's #1 Success Coach, is founder of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul©Inspirational Books)© and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success. If you're ready to jump-start your life, make more money, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at:

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bi-Weekly Mortgage Acceleration vs. 30 Year Mortgage

For more mortgage comparisons, also read:

In the following example, twin brothers Larry and Louie both purchased identical homes, with the same original mortgage amounts, through the same mortgage company, on the same day. However, Louie decided to immediately sign up for a “Bi-Weekly” mortgage acceleration program. It only cost him a one-time set-up fee of $300 and an additional $6/month service charge.

All Louie would need to do is simply pay half of his original $2,000 per month Mortgage payment every two weeks. In other words, rather than paying $2,000 each month -- he would only pay $1,000 every two weeks until the mortgage was paid off.

Louie was told the benefits of a “Bi-Weekly” acceleration program would allow him to pay off his home more than five years early -- and save him over $81,000.00 in interest payments. WOW!

Larry, on the other hand, decided to get a Standard 30 Year Mortgage with a fixed interest rate of 6% and a monthly payment of $2000.00 for principle and interest. Notice that after 24.54 years, Larry will still owe $110,747.00 on his mortgage. (This fact is important a little bit later.)

Louie, by paying $1000.00 every two weeks, is actually paying $2166.67 a month. This extra $166.67 per month accelerates the payoff of his mortgage by 5.46 years, so his house is completely paid off in 24.54 years! In this example, Louie saves $81,960 in interest, as compared to his brother Larry. Since Louie is used to paying $2166.67 a month, he continues to pay that amount for the remaining 5.46 years, but as an investment in mutual funds.

Larry had the same financial resources as his brother Louie, so he decided he would spend the same amount per month as Louie. Larry paid $2000.00 for his mortgage and invested the extra $166.67 per month into a Roth IRA. By saving that extra amount per month, and assuming a 12% return on investment, Larry had already accumulated $298,475.76 at the time that Louie had paid off his house. So, technically Larry could have paid off the $110.745.00 (see, I told you this would be important later) that he still owed on his house at the 24.54 year mark and still had $187,722.00 left in his investment, whereas Louie had no money invested at this point. Larry decided to keep paying the mortgage and investing the difference and at the end of the 30 years he had accumulated $588,330.73 of Tax-Free money!

The choice to accelerate the mortgage by making Bi-Weekly payments instead of choosing a standard 30 year mortgage actually cost Louie $387.163.18!

Summary of Facts:
  • Louie’s home is paid off 5.46 years earlier than Larry
  • Louie saved $81,960.00 in interest
  • Bi-Weekly mortgage payments means you will make one additional “Standard Monthly” payment per year, therefore, even though Louie only pays only $1000.00 every two weeks, over the course of the year, he actually pays the equivalent monthly payment of $2166.67. This is $166.67 more than Larry pays per month at $2000.00
  • In both examples $2166.67 is invested per month:
    • Larry: With the standard mortgage payments, $2000.00 per month goes to the mortgage for 30 years, and $166.67 per month for 30 years is invested in mutual funds with an IRA tag.
    • Louie: With bi-weekly mortgage payments, $1000.00 every two weeks (or $2166.67 per month) goes to the mortgage and nothing goes to savings for 24.54 years. Then the full $2,166.67 goes to savings for only 5.46 years
  • Larry – investing $166.67 per month for 30 years @ 12% earns $588,330.73 of tax-free Roth IRA money
  • Louie – investing $2166.67 per month for 5.46 years @ 12% earns $201,167.55. (An interesting note is that the majority of Louie’s money cannot be sheltered tax-free in a Roth IRA because it exceeds the yearly maximum.)
  • The cost to Louie for choosing the Bi-Weekly Mortgage as opposed to the Standard Mortgage and investing the difference is $387.163.18
In closing, a mortgage with a low interest rate is relatively "cheap money". If you have extra money to pay on your mortgage, consider either paying off debts with greater interest rates than your mortgage or investing that money in a vehicle (mutual funds with a Roth IRA tag would be wise) that will have a rate of return that is greater than the interest rate on your mortgage. And, never pay someone to set up mortgage acceleration for you. You can actually do this yourself. Just make sure that any extra money you pay to your mortgage is paid to the principal.

I'm so excited to share this information with you. If you have enjoyed the information or feel that it would benefit someone else, please share it. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me.

Monday, April 12, 2010

It Pays to be Nice ... and CALM!
Written by Jack Canfield

The North Wind boasted of great strength. The Sun argued that there was great power in gentleness.

“We shall have a contest,” said the Sun.

Far below, a man traveled a winding road. He was wearing a warm winter coat.

“As a test of strength,” said the Sun, “Let us see which of us can take the coat off of that man.”

“It will be quite simple for me to force him to remove his coat,” bragged the Wind.

The Wind blew so hard, the birds clung to the trees. The world was filled with dust and leaves. But the harder the wind blew down the road, the tighter the shivering man clung to his coat.
Then, the Sun came out from behind a cloud. Sun warmed the air and the frosty ground. The man on the road unbuttoned his coat.

The sun grew slowly brighter and brighter.

Soon the man felt so hot, he took off his coat and sat down in a shady spot.

“How did you do that?” said the Wind.

“It was easy,” said the Sun, “I lit the day. Through gentleness I got my way.”

# # #

Today’s featured article was an easy one for me. In this world of increased stress, financial pressures, pink slips, traffic jams and cancelled flights, it pays to know how to stay centered and calm—how to interact like the sun and not the wind.

Believe it or not, it's a critical success strategy.

Pamela Bruner is one of my students. She is a graduate of my seven-day Breakthrough to Success Summer Training (this year August 8-14), a participant in my year-long Train the Trainer Mentorship Program, and a member of my Platinum Inner Circle Master Mind Group.

Pamela is a master practitioner of the success principles I teach, and is currently working on a book with me applying the principles and techniques of the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) to removing the emotional blocks and limiting beliefs that confront people when they attempt to apply the 64 success principles that I teach in my book The Success Principles(TM): How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.

She sent me and an e-mail earlier this month that shows just how valuable it is to stay calm, expect the best, believe it’s possible to get what you want no matter what is happening around you, and to take action to produce the desired result.

Here is Pamela’s e-mail. I hope it will uplift and inspire you as much as it did me.

More importantly I hope it will serve as a valuable lesson for what to do if you find yourself in a similar situation—trying to get from where you are to where you want to be…when all the flights to where you want to be are being cancelled!

# # #

I was flying to West Palm Beach to film a TV spot for my husband Dave’s company, Heartland Harps. My plane was supposed to arrive at 8pm, and we needed to be in the studio at 7:30 am the next morning. The film crew would be there, waiting. My flight was delayed, and then delayed 3 more times. At 9:50pm, they announced that they were waiting for a call from the higher ups as to whether the flight would be cancelled.

Many people were angry, and were yelling at the two USAir representatives behind the counter. I went over and said to one of the reps, “The flight might still go, is that right?”

She replied, “I really think that they’ll cancel it at this point.”

I said, “I really need to be in Boca Raton tomorrow morning at 7:30am. I’m not upset, but I’ve got a film crew waiting for me. Is there any way you can help me?”

She went around the corner, and a few minutes later she beckoned me over.

“There’s a flight leaving for Ft. Lauderdale at 10:15. It’s oversold, but I might be able to get you on it. I think they’ll lose a few people.”

I said, “It’s 9:55 now. Can I make it?”

She replied, “It’s been delayed also. Go now!” As I grabbed the new boarding pass she’d printed for me, I thanked her profusely, and as I ran away, she said, “It pays to be nice…and quiet!”

I ran to the other terminal, exchanged my new boarding pass for one with an actual seat assignment (hurray!) and waited. The plane didn’t leave until midnight, and I got in at 2am. All around me I heard people grumbling about the delays, the service, etc. All I was thinking was how grateful I was to have made it before my 7:30am deadline.

I did see a few people from my West Palm Beach flight come over to the Ft. Lauderdale flight, but no one else got on. I was the only one who made it that night!

Thank you Spirit!!

The Success Principles employed:

—#4: Believe It’s Possible and You Get What You Expect
—#55: Be a Class Act, and
—#17: Ask, Ask, Ask!

Warmly, Pamela

# # #

This is a great example of how applying the principles can literally get you from where you are to want to be…when everyone else is being left behind. Try a little kindness and be a class act.

As Pamela’s story illustrates, warm sunshine works a lot better than a harsh wind.

Jack Canfield, America's #1 Success Coach, is founder of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul©Inspirational Books)© and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success. If you're ready to jump-start your life, make more money, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

All Indicators Point to Investing Now

Success in investing begins by identifying and accepting key financial facts:
  • The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index bottomed at 666 on an intraday basis on March 6, 2009. Since then, it has rebounded more than 68%. On a closing basis, the S&P bottomed at 676.53 on March 9, 2009.
  • There’s ample liquidity to push stock prices higher. Money has been pouring into savings deposits, with yields close to zero and will likely remain that low through year-end.
  • Corporate cash is soaring. It rose to 1.52 trillion during 2009’s third quarter. Among the most aggressive buyers of stocks recently have been companies buying other companies --- for cash.
  • Corporate earnings should continue to rebound; and, some Wall Street analysts predict the S&P 500 companies will earn almost $100 a share in 2011, up more than 20% from 2010’s estimate.
  • The upturn in the profit cycle should revive employment and capital spending because the correlation is very strong between the yearly change in the S&P earnings and yearly growth of the index Coincident Economic Indicators.
  • Productivity is growing rapidly and making new highs, suggesting real pay per worker will continue to do the same.
  • The global boom, which started in the early 1990’s, is staging a comeback, with the worldwide economy clearly recovering at a solid pace.
  • The sovereign debt crises around the world should force Governments toward greater fiscal discipline.
  • A major change in Congress is expected this year that should result in a more fiscally conservative legislature.
History shows how rapidly a market can change direction, and the benefits of staying the course.

If you want to see proof of this visually, I will show you in the form of two graphs.

The first graph is the one-year total returns for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Composite Index from 1926 until 2009. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged group of securities and is considered to be representative of the stock market in general. If you look at the graph, every year is represented by a blue box or red box – the blue box signifying a positive year and the red box signifying a negative year. As you can see by the graph, over the 84 year period there were 24 negative years and 60 positive years. If you watch your investment on a year by year basis, it could drive you crazy. One year doesn’t tell you much because the market jumps around so much every year. As a matter of fact, after declining 37% in 2008, the S&P 500 advanced 26% in 2009. Just imagine how awful those people that took their money out in 2008 felt after seeing the rebound in 2009!

By the way the S&P 500’s average rate of return for this 84 year period was 11.84%.

Now let’s look at what the stock market actually did for the same time period in ten year chunks. Each number represents the end of a 10 year period. So, since we were starting in 1926, the first decade will start at 1936. 1937 signifies the period from 1927 – 1937 and so on and so forth. As you can see by the graph there were only 4 negative decades and 75 positive decades. Even though you can see that 2009 was one of the negative decades, you can definitely see the rebound at the end of 2009 and into the first quarter of 2010. Being cautiously optimistic leads me to believe we are in for some good times ahead.

During the 79 decades period the S&P 500’s average rate of return was 10.76%.

To me it looks like all indicators are pointing to investing now. However, when thinking about your investments think long term and ride out those year-to-year waves. In the prophetic words of Warren E. Buffett, “Realize that the market always comes back.”

I'm so excited to share this information with you. If you have enjoyed the information or feel that it would benefit someone else, please share it. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me.