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May 20, 2008

Pause for the Cause

The following is technique/tip submitted by Brian. The information is of great value. I often, as a training excercise, have sales reps tell a joke to the group. A great sales presentation consisting of timing an delivery, like a good joke. This thought is included below.

Brian's submission also references listening. Good listening skills along with keen observation often seprate the average from the above average reps in the same team. These skills can not be utilized unless your are comfortable and well practiced in your presentation. If you have to "pay attention" to what YOU are doing and saying there is little chance that you will hear or see the messages the client is providing.

Thanks, Brian! Happy hunting!!!

All the top salespeople ask good questions and listen carefully to the answers. One of the most important skills of listening is simply to pause before replying. When the prospect finishes talking, rather than jumping in with the first thing that you can think of, take three to five seconds to pause quietly and wait.

Becoming a Master of the Pause
All excellent listeners are masters of the pause. They are comfortable with silences. When the other person finishes speaking, they take a breath, relax and smile before saying anything. They know that the pause is a key part of good communications.

Three Benefits of Pausing Pausing before you speak has three specific benefits. The first is that you avoid the risk of interrupting the prospect if he or she has just stopped to gather his or her thoughts. Remember, your primary job in the sales conversation is to build and maintain a high level of trust, and listening builds trust. When you pause for a few seconds, you often find the prospect will continue speaking. He will give you more information and further opportunity to listen, enabling you to gather more of the information you need to make the sale

May 10, 2008

Technology Nightmares

Not a good week to be around electronics in Mark of Excellence. I tried changing my operating system so the geek squad could set up some kind of link to the server...I have NO clue. Now, of course, a bunch of stuff doesn't work on my computer. I just wanted to be able to get my email, which at the time didn't seem like a large request. Now it seems like I asked for the Cubs to win a world series or a 32" waist.

Jason, about to leave to go get a contract signed, finds his keyboard does not work. It has something to do with loading a driver for a wireless keyboard. Turns out the wireless keyboard works without the driver that it came with. Why do we even bother?

Remember when it was just clipboards and tape measures? Beepers were the hot technology to have! Oh, I miss those days...and a 32" waist.

Speaking of sales...what does it really come down to? The system doesn't change, just the associated tools, props and displays. What is there in every appointment? YOU. That is the constant. The only thing you can count on. The only thing that you can control. Speaking of control...I feel that is the number one reason for not getting a sale - loosing control of the appointment, the client and the sales system. The system never fails, only we fail the system. Here are the items that need to be present at every appointment to maximize the odds of successful results:
  1. Pre-call preparation
  2. Energy and enthusiasm
  3. Professionalism
  4. Listening skills
  5. Observations skills
  6. Follow the proven system

If any of these six are not included or are not fully in effect, the others are not successful and the likelihood of failure is on the rise.

People buy from those that they like and trust. People respect people that they like or want to be like. How does this happen? Luck? No, it comes from the constant focus on having those six items present and in effect at all times...with or without a laptop, PDA or any other technology or prop.

Happy hunting!


May 4, 2008

What a lay down!

Speaking of kitchen sales....

Jason was on an appointment last week.

Two thirds through the presentation...

CLIENT: "How much money do I owe you today?"
JASON: "Nothing today"

After the $72K price presentation...

CLIENT: "Okay what happens now?"
JASON: "You give me a check for $4K and then we start designing and drawing your new kitchen."
CLIENT: "I thought you said I don't have to give you any money today"
JASON: "You don't HAVE to give me a check today, but if you do, you will have your new kitchen sooner and my wife and children will be very happy tonight!"
CLIENT: "Okay. Who do I make the check out to?"

Now why didn't I have that appointment!!!

Kitchen Design Trends

Kitchens have always been, and continue to be, the heart of every home. Less traveling and more entertaining have made certain that dust doesn’t gather on most countertops. Also, many socio-economic factors have made household sizes grow to numbers that were last seen fifty plus years ago. While some lifestyles have come full circle, today’s kitchen does not resemble any predecessor from another period.

Kitchen renovations continue to be a common request by homeowners across the country. Hanley Wood Publications does a comprehensive annual study of remodeling projects nationally and by region. The article is printed in its Remodeling Magazine and named “Cost vs. Value”. The study reviews typical projects and the average investment amounts for a midrange and upscale options. The midrange kitchen remodel is listed to have an average national investment of $55,503. The upscale version for a 200 square foot kitchen, which includes stone countertops, cherry wood cabinets, gourmet appliances and an extensive lighting package, is valued at $109,394. Every project is individualized for each client and home, therefore pricing and options vary tremendously. While not the definitive price list, “Cost vs. Value” has served as a helpful, planning guideline for homeowners for the last twenty years.

Neil Parsons, VP of Sales and Marketing at Mark of Excellence Remodeling, has seen many remodeling requests and trends evolve through the years. Kitchen remodeling is no exception.
Neil lists five items or features below that are being incorporated in today’s kitchen designs that were usually not included or even discussed as recent as ten years ago.

One item is a convection oven. Convection ovens utilize fans to force heated air across the food. The forced air breaks the thin insulating layer of air that surrounds food. This process decreases the cooking time or the temperature required for the food preparation. Convection ovens are typical the second oven in a kitchen as part of a double wall oven unit or as microwave-convection oven combination.

Beverage centers can be found free standing or built into base cabinets. Beverage centers are smaller refrigerators designed to store wine, beer and soft drinks. The more expensive units have the ability to set separate temperatures for each shelf making the multi-use beverage storage possible and enjoyable for all tastes. It cuts down on the use of the much larger main refrigerator. Sizes, features and prices will vary. The price range is typically $200 to $2,000.

If the room or area permits, fireplaces are on the wish list of many families. Direct vent, natural gas fireplaces are the common choice. The options here are plentiful. Free standing, simulated wood-burning stoves require only a small area and are reasonably priced. Built-in units with a stone wall, hearth and a wood mantel can transform any room.

A generation ago every kitchen had a telephone on the wall with a phone book and note pad in the closest draw. Today cabinet layouts often contain a work station. A place for a chair, leg room and counter space. Yes the telephone is still there but it is usually accompanied by a personal computer, laptop or PDA, therefore the phone numbers are stored electronically or located on the internet. These work stations are a convenient place for note taking, children’s homework and home office use.

Now what room is not complete today without a television? Yes, televisions are on most
kitchen design surveys and many families want to see them included in the final plan. While placing a television in the kitchen is not completely new the difference between placing a portable unit on the counter with cords and cables dangling and having an under-cabinet unit with a flip-down flat panel screen is vast. These built-in televisions often have other media or internet capabilities. When working in the kitchen cooks can by companioned by the news, soap operas and of course the Food Network.

Mark of Excellence Remodeling has been Appreciating Homes Since 1987. The New Jersey design + build remodeling firm has been honored with several awards for its projects and business acumen. The company has been featured in various national publications throughout the years.

One of Neil Parsons’ kitchen designs, currently being built in Monmouth County, incorporates four of the five features listed above. The addition and kitchen area has been referenced to as the “Gathering Room” from the onset of the design and development. If you would like pictures sent as the project progresses and completes send your request to or visit the website