Improve Your Business

compassWant a great business? Then do great things. As a leader, business owner, decision maker, you set the tone for the rest of your team, no matter what the size or location. Often, there are so many things to do in a day, we bypass some of the most important concepts that can make our businesses GREAT. The following Business Improvement Concepts, as basic as they may seem, are often overlooked. Apply or revisit these GREAT concepts for your business and see what happens!
1. Have a GREAT Vision:
Great leaders have great visions. Bill Gates envisioned  “a computer on every desk”.  How do you ultimately see your business? What are you doing? Who is around you? What are your sales?
2. Develop a GREAT Business Plan:multi-arrow-target1-300x240
You can’t hit a target you can’t see. Know where your are going and how you are going to get there. What are your goals for the year, the quarter, the month, the week, the day…even the next hour? Review it often and adjust strategies and goals as opportunities and hurdles present themselves. 1 minute of planning can save 10 minutes in execution!!
3. Implement a GREAT Marketing Approach:
To have a great business, you need great sales; to insure great sales, you need a great marketing plan. Who are you marketing to? How are you marketing to them? Remember to focus on what you product does-the benefits-instead of what it is-the features.
4. Attract and Keep GREAT Customers:
Once you get the word out and attract great customers, be sure to ask what they want to keep them coming back. HappyCustomersResisit the temptation to assume you know what they want or even who they are. Know who your best customers are and keep them happy-HAPPY CUSTOMERS ARE YOUR BEST REFERRAL!!
5. Deliver GREAT Products or Services:
If you had to start over, which product or service would you focus on? Which would you eliminate? Know what is successful and what isn’t by getting feedback and tracking your sales. Continuously ask “What can be done to improve?”

6. Track GREAT Numbers:numbers
Identify key numbers and track them. A key number or numbers will tell you instantly how your business is performing. What matters most…Number of customers? Number of sales? Profit per sale? Customer aquisition cost? Renewal period? There are always one or two numbers that predict the success of a business more than any others. Know what they are and focus on improving them.
7. Get GREAT Results:
Planning is important but if it doesn’t yield results it is not a great plan. FOCUS on results; and if they aren’t great, revisit your vision, adjust your plan, review your marketing approach, evaluate  and talk with your customers, assess your products or services, check your numbers AND get back to getting GREAT results!


Posted in Basics, Business Improvement, Business performance, Sales | No Comments »

Back to Communication Basics

Business owners, clients, friends keep telling me they can’t sell…they have no experience, they hate selling. How did sales get such a bad rap?? How many of us ARE in sales?? Do you offer an idea, product, service or yourself toj0439347 somebody in your life? Who do you offer these to? Spouse, partner, kids, boss, customer, staff, suppliers…..everyone you come in contact with. What are you doing every time you sell? COMMUNICATING!
Well, as business owners, what do we need most? CUSTOMERS! Without them we have no business. How does someone become a customer? They buy something.Why do people buy? To satisfy an emotional need.
What kind of emotional need might they be satisfying? The need for MONEY? That’s what most people say, but what emotional need does that money satisfy?
Your job is to find out what that emotional need is and how you, your product, service, or idea can satisfy it and continue to satisfy it. You do that by communicating effectively and basically, that’s all selling is..
My 6 Keys to Communicating for Success:
1. Consider Perspective:
Perspective is based on an individual and that individual may not look at things the same way you do.
 a. Consider who you are communicating with.
 b. Use DiSC-the language of observable behavior to learn HOW people behave.
 This POWERFUL tool can give you insight into how to effectively communicate with others.
 c. Learn to adapt your communication style. 
TO LEARN MORE…contact me at or respond to this post.
2. Ask Good, Open Ended Questions:
 a. Builds rapport which builds trust.
 b. Shows interest.
 c. Gets people talking-Why is this so important? Your job is to find out what that emotional need is and how your product, service, idea can satisfy it. People will give you the answers if you get them talking.
Open-Ended Questions require an answer and encourage dialogue as opposed to close ended questions which require only a yes or no response. Great Book: Questions That Sell by Paul Cherry to get  ideas of questions for any situation.
 EX: Are you happy with your suppliers? Vs. What have been some of your likes and dislikes with suppliers in the past?
 EX: Do you like working there? Vs. Since you’ve been with the company, what have been some of biggest hurdles you’ve faced?
 EX: How’s business? Vs Everyone is dealing with change, what’s the biggest change you are facing?
3. Listen:
 a. Shows respect and indicates the individual is important.20565
 b. Allows you to get information about their style!!! (DiSC)
 c. Let people complete a thought before responding. Most people are already forming a response before hearing the full thought-what might you be missing?
 d. Pause before responding-take time to formulate a response or logical, appropriate comment.
4. “Hear” What Isn’t Being Said - 3 Components of Communication:
 a. Body Language 58%
 b. Tone 35%
 c. Content 7%
What are your body language and tone are telling others? What are the tone and body language of the others telling you?
5. Get Feedback:
 a. Know what your customer wants instead of what you think they want.
 b. Just ask, don’t assume-SURVEYS can provide that information.
 c. Be specific about the feedback you want-ask questions that will provide you with the information you really need.
Mom6. Everything Your Mother Taught You Is Not Out of Style:

a. Look people in the eye (don’t stare).                                                                                                                                                     b. Shake hands-use the same pressure as offered.
c. Say “Please” and “Thank You” AND Mean it!
d. Comb your hair (Yes, how you look matters!)
e. Stand Up Straight AND……SMILE!

What works for you???


Posted in Basics, Communication, Sales, Success | No Comments »

Seinfeld and a FrenchTutor

girl_thinkingIn the age of social media, it becomes easier every day to find ways to procrastinate.  In an effort to somehow justify perusing the variety of forwarded emails, articles, YouTube clips, questionnaires, surveys, games, links, invitations…..I contemplate what message, learning or opportunity could be buried in the content, and how I might apply it to my business. Often, I come up short, scolding myself for deviating from the “block schedule”, a fail safe tool which is supposed to insure an efficient and productive blend of marketing, sales, meetings, administration, planning, preparing, delivering and following up. Oh, and a personal life.
Having been recently reacqainted with my high school french tutor, procrastination resources were enhanced yetFrench teacher again. In one such case, what appeared to be cause for scolding, turned out to be a terrific reminder that a “time-out” is not always a punishment. Pause for reflection, a quick chuckle, change of scenery, is often inspiring, invogorating and just plain fun. Funny how teachers know these things. Maybe recess had a purpose!!
The culpret of the assumed procrastination was a YouTube clip from a skit Jerry Seinfeld performed on Saturday Night Live back in the 90′s. In it, he played a history teacher in front of a high school class. I confess, I watched it more than once because it was hysterical. As usual, I struggled to determine the hidden message, which if conveyed to a business owner, could potentially provide insight that might catapult him or her to success never imagined. Nothing. I rattled off a quick note to my tutor, thanked her for the diversion and mentioned I would eventually figure out what to do with it.
A day or so later, her response read “You don’t need to do anything with it. Just enjoy it and remember you were once a student!” Wow, what a concept.
Power of Full Engagement BookWe struggle daily-attempting to maximize our productivity, do more with less, master a variety of roles, meet deadlines, obtain goals….meet everyone’s expectations. Sometimes a good old “time-out” works wonders. In their book, “The Power of Full Engagement”, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz address the concept of “sprint and recover”, emphasizing that to fully engage, we must allow ourselves frequent, intermittant recovery time to recover from the “sprint” we engage in daily. A few minutes to break the cycle, chuckle at a ridiculously funny re-enactment of high school history and not do anything with it,  is OK. In fact, here it is.

ENJOY a “time-out” to recover so you can fully engage in whatever it is your schedule is telling you to focus onJerry Seinfeld history teacher next.

                                     click here for the Jerry Seinfeld SNL clip:

                                                                              Share Yours!

Posted in Basics, Habits, Procrastination, Productivity | 1 Comment »

Tiger Lessons May Help Your Business

Anyone who has turned on their TV or radio in the last week has undoubtedly heard some portion of the presstiger-woods conference with Tiger Woods, held in Augusta, GA.. One reporter asked Tiger why he hadn’t addressed his situation sooner, knowing he was cascading into a downward spiral? Tiger’s response was simply, he wasn’t able to face reality and take action until he had reached absolute rock bottom. Most likely, Tiger will recover and go on to win tournaments and generate millions in endorsements. What about your business??

Whether you’re a golf fan or not, there are valuable lessons to be learned.  Ask these 8 basic questions regularly about your business and avoid having to hit rock bottom before taking action.

untitled1. Ask “How are we doing?  Do this often. Always know where you are with regard to achieving your plan. Waiting until a deadline to evaluate can lead to disappointing results.
2. Ask “What’s working”? Something is always working. Figure out what it is, why, keep doing it and celebrate.

3. Ask “What’s not working?” Some things might not be working, but view these as opportunities to adjust.

4. Ask “What are the consequences of not taking immediate action to change the things that are not working? Continuing to allow ineffective practices can catapult your business to rock bottom, faster than you can imagine. 

5. Ask “What 1 thing, if it were in place today, would have the biggest impact on moving the business forward”? Take the time to zero in on the most effective and value added activity. Get it done and move onto the next one. Often, we focus on activity level instead of activity effectiveness. Avoid getting lost in the minutia, at the end of the day you may have been busy but what did you actually accomplish?

6. Ask “What is the greatest obstacle”? Let’s face it, there are going to be obstacles. Identify them, face them head on and avoid letting them bog you down. Don’t forget to look in the mirror-80% of obstacles are internal only 20% come from external factors.

7. Ask “What are the possible solutions”? There are always options, so take the time to evaluate which is most appropriate, apply it.

8. Ask “What measure can be applied to determine progress”? Identify one or two numbers which will givetiger-woods-out-of-bunker you a clear indication of how your business is progressing. Detailed reports are important, but can take time to review. Find those particular numbers and keep track of them regularly-making sure all of your team is tracking them as well. Examples: monthly revenue, annual profit margin, weekly operating costs, quarterly number of clients, weekly client conversion rate, daily cold calls, average transaction dollars-whether dollars $, percentages %, or numbers #- pick something and track it. 

Once these questions have been answered, adjust your plan and put it into action!

How often do you stop and reassess? What would your answers to these questions be? Would love to hear from you!

Posted in Basics, Habits, Peak Performance, Success | No Comments »

The Devil in the Details

Who would imagine 2 little letters could make such a difference?
devil in the details 2A few weeks ago I received 2 emails. One was offering new business owners the opportunity to gain visibility in a new online and print business magazine. The other was inviting me to the launch party for a new magazine with the same name. I opened the first email, clicked the link and checked out the advertising, featured business owners and comtemplated whether or not it would reach my target market. Next, I reviewed the launch party invitation, thinking what fun it would be have a new group to network with. Looked interesting, so I forwarded to my friend, asking her if she might want to go to the party and to check out the magazine at

Within 5 minutes an email popped up with the subject “Are You Kidding???!!!”    misinterpretation2

Not the usual subject line, I opened it immediately, curious what I must be kidding about. The site I had directed her to was “completely inappropriate and perhaps there was a side of me she didn’t know about-had I actually looked at the site??” Indeed I had and proceeded to reopen the link I sent her…now this was not at all what had popped up the first time!! What happened to the professional headshots and enthusiastic offers of products and services from optimistic entrepreneurs? I closed it and tried again…same thing. I went back to the email with the invitation and clicked on the site…same thing. Had I been hallucinating??
I deleted everything, completely baffled.

A few days ago another email came from “the magazine”. Curious, I opened it and clicked on the link to the site and waited with anticipation as the smiling faces of up and coming entrepreneurs appeared on the screen. Phew! Very carefully, I studied the link…
Two little letters made all the difference!



We all process massive amounts of information on a daily basis. Often answering emails or texting, talking on the phone, listening to music and eating at the same time. It is VERY easy to miss the details. Seemingly minor details can lead to major miscommunications.



Adopt these simple habits to insure “the devil in the details” doesn’t get the best of you:
-Contrary to popular opinion, multi-tasking is not efficient. Focus on the task at hand until it is complete can result in up to 80% time savings.skills_lge
-Finish one task before moving to the next, stopping and starting is inefficient. According to a USAA study, the mind can only focus on one thing at a a time.
-Always check your work (sound familiar?).
-Use spellcheck.
-Let a document, letter, critical email, etc. sit for a few hours and come back to it with fresh eyes-amazing what you might catch.
-Take a break-get up and move around-long bouts in front of the computer or a project are not productive. Your mind and body need to be renergized about every 90 minutes (every 20-30 according to Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz in their book “The Power of Full Engagement”).
-Drink water-your  mind needs hydration to function at it’s best.

“Small differences in your performance can lead to large differences in your results”-Brian Tracy, coach, author, speaker

How has “the devil in the details” impacted you!!! Please share your stories and the small differences you applied to make sure it wouldn’t happen again.

Posted in Basics, Discipline, Habits, Peak Performance, Productivity, Success | No Comments »

18 Disciplines of Selling

The first quarter of 2010 is coming to a close-have you closed as many sales as you planned? If you are like many, sales is a complex, frustrating activity that can deflate your ego as fast as a pin in a balloon. I continue to hear this from my clients, colleagues, friends and even strangers I happen to strike up a conversation with while waiting in lines, sitting on the bus, even in passing on the street! What is it about having to present a prospect with value worth more than the price that can send an otherwise confident, articulate, enthusiastic adult running for the door?  The magic words, “let me think about it”, bring instant relief to many and justification for the retreat.
back_to_basicsI began sharing the 18 Disciplines of Sales used by a consistently successful sales associate and 2 time recipient of the Brian Tracy award for Sales Excellence. In past blog posts these were presented a few at a time. Considering the consistently recurring sales theme, it seemed timely to share all 18 at once. Hope these offer some relief from frustration. Sales CAN go according to plan. Apply these basics and make the second quarter of 2010 exceed your expectations:
1. Be PROUD of whatever role you are in and act like it. Perception is reality.  CONFIDENCE SELLS!!
2. Act like a WINNER. People gravitate to those they perceive as winners. Success is an attitude.
3. Expect SUCCESSS and er, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER give up. Success requires persistence.                         getting-organized2
4. Be PASSIONATE about what you do and show it. People feel passion and they pay for passion.
5. Get ORGANIZED. If you live in clutter your mind is cluttered.  
6. Set written, clear, concise, smart GOALS. Commit 2 minutes a day to think about and write them down.
7. Have a daily, prioritized PLAN. Must apply this discipline. Prepare it at night and let your superconscious mind go to work on it. Stay focused and insure that what you are doing “right now” is the one thing that will move your business forward.
8. Have a clear idea of who your TARGET CUSTOMER is. Work hard to narrow it down so your prospecting time is effective. Be aware of opportunities right in front of you.
9. Selling is about RELATIONSHIPS and effective communication. Identify who you are speaking with and what their needs are. People buy from those who understand them. Leverage tools out there, like D.I.S.C., to sharpen your listening and communication skills.
10. Clearly understand your UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION (USP). What sets you and your business apart from others? Know and be able to articulate it. The time spent figuring this out is worth every minute (or hour!!).
11. Create a POWERFUL 10 second MESSAGE. Only 2% of all salespeople can articulate what they do in 10 seconds. DSC00354Answer WII-FM (what’s in it for me?).

12. In it’s most basic form, selling is a game of NUMBERS. Talk with alot of people, sell to them all. ASK for appointments. ASK for referrals.
13. LISTEN!! the prospect will tell you how to sell them.
14. Be CONSISTANT and PERSISTANT. 80% of ALL sales are made on the FIFTH to TWELTH contact.  48% of salespeople NEVER follow up with a prospect        

15. Understand that closing is NOT A BIG EVENT…It’s Incidental!
16. Understand what you are willing to give up to get what you want.
17. TRACK EVERYTHING…hours, cost, leads, customers…..
18. Work HARD and work SMART . What you put into it is what you get out of it.
Now get out there and SELL!!!!!!

Posted in Basics, Discipline, Goal Achievement, Goal Setting, Productivity, Sales, Success | 1 Comment »

5 Business Success Basics from Olympic Athletes

Success_FailureCould not have said it better…enjoy!
Five Management Lessons from Olympic Athletes
Monday, March 1, 2010 12:00 AM, Harvey Schachter (Globe and Mail)
The athletes have finished their competition in Vancouver but the memories – and lessons – remain. ‘Whether you’re a sports fan or not, there are valuable lessons to be learned when you view the efforts and results of these amazing athletes from the perspective of leadership and peak performance,’ consultant Kevin Eikenberry says in his e-zine. He offers five – fittingly, one for each Olympic ring – to take to work this week:
They Keep Score
Olympic athletes know how they are doing all the time. They know their results, but they also know their progress and improvement. If you want to improve your performance, Mr. Eikenberry says, you’ve got to keep score of your own efforts and results.

They Have Clear Goals
Every athlete had a goal for the Olympics. To some, just qualifying to be there was the target, while, for others, a medal – or a specific medal, gold – was the obsession. Mr. Eikenberry stresses that the athletes were all clear about their goals, and says you must duplicate that precision in your own work life.

They Practice
Actually, they practice, practice, practice – and practice some more. “They don’t expect world-class performance after only putting in occasional efforts in training. They know to be their best, they must practice in focused and strategic ways to reach their goals,” he notes. “Do you practice like a champion? Are you as diligent and consistent in learning the skills that will help you succeed as they are?”

They Play To The End
They know where the finish line is, and they don’t stop until they hit it. They pick themselves up after falling and continue, or even ignore injuries in their zeal to make it to the finish line. Their chance to achieve their goal may be lost but they don’t stop. And you will rarely hear them blaming others for results, unlike many folks in the workplace who constantly berate scapegoats. “Olympic athletes play to the end, remaining singularly focused on their endeavour. Do you?” Mr. Eikenberry asks.

Margaret MaclayThey Have Coaches
It’s unheard of for these world-class athletes not to have a coach. Even though they are among the best in the world, they recognize that they need help to keep improving their performance. It’s the same for achieving success in the office. The best thing you can do to improve your own or your staff’s performance is to find a coach.

I welcome your thoughts and comments. Need some help applying these to your business and life? Join me, local business owners and professionals on March 15th in Edgewater, NJ for “Flight Plan 2010″ Workshop and make a commitment RIGHT NOW to take the action necessary and implement these 5 lessons and more. Register on the Flight Plan link.

Posted in Business performance, Coaching, Goal Setting, Success, Teleseminar | No Comments »

Perform at your best…no matter what!

Margaret MaclayBack in August I was all excited about writing a blog. I jumped right in and entered my first post!!!

Then I got distracted, things got “busy”, procrastination set in and suddenly hesitant about whether anyone would actually read or care about what I had to say, the posts ceased as rapidly as they had begun.

When posting my March workshops I realized that more than 195 days had passed since my first/last/only blog entry. My, how time flies! But isn’t this indicative of what happens to us in business and life every day? They say “time flies when you’re having fun”…but it flies whether or not you’re having fun. Months just seem to glide by.

I was reading something a more diligent author posted-don’t recall the source, so sorry to whomever I quoted in the title of this post-and was struck by the words “Perform at your best…no matter what”.  No matter what? Despite intentions to do our best, we all have overly full schedules, reasons for why things didn’t get done… much better than blaming the dog for eating it and distractions, good, bad or otherwise.

Most recently, The Olympics were the distraction. The snow was a distraction. The Yahoo blog post about winners and losers at the Olympics was a distraction. After all, despite 17 days of viewing, on 3 channels, with recaps at least twice an hour, something important could have been missed!! It was…the lesson we can be reminded of by some of these amazing athlete’s who truly do perform at their best no matter what. Time to take action!

Part of performing at your best no matter what as a business owner, is to take action every day. Take action that might not always be fun, but is important to moving your business forward. This is what distinguishes the winners.

Indeed time is flying. Today is March 1st. The first quarter of 2010 is almost over. Yikes! What a great time to make a commitment to “perform at your best no matter what”  and achieve everything you planned for 2010.  Even if it’s not always that fun. The results are bound to be fun and satisfying.

 So, my initial blogpost stated that I was going to share the 18 Disciplines of Selling put forth by our top FocalPoint Coach, Dan Creed, 2 time recipient of the Brian Tracy Award for Sales Excellence. The first 5 can be found in my post “Success Is Not An Accident!”. Here are the next 5,  which are sure to impact your business success if you give them your best shot no matter what:

6. Set written, clear, concise, smart GOALS. Commit 2 minutes a day to think about and write them down.

7. Have a daily, prioritized PLAN. Must have this little discipline. If you prepare it at night, your superconscious mind will go to work on it. Be focused and insure that what you are doing “right now” is the one thing that will move your business forward.

8. Have a clear idea of who your TARGET CUSTOMER is. Work hard to narrow it down so your prospecting time is effective. Be aware of opportunities right in front of you.

9. Selling is about RELATIONSHIPS and effective communication. Identify who you are speaking with and what their needs are. People buy from those who understand them, not those they understand. Leverage tools out there, like D.I.S.C., to sharpen your listening and communication skills.

10. Clearly understand your USP (unique selling proposition). What sets you and your business apart from others? Know and be able to articulate it. The time spent figuring this out is worth every minute (or hour!!)

The next 5 will be coming soon. No waiting another 195+ days.

What’s getting in the way of you performing at your best, no matter what?

Posted in Business performance, Goal Achievement, Procrastination, Productivity, Sales | 1 Comment »

Are You on Course to Achieve Your 2010 Goals?

Make a decision RIGHT NOW to review your goals, make course corrections and take REAL action to insure you achieve all that is possible for you and your business.

Flight Plan 2010 Workshop:
Stay On Course
… Achieve YOUR Goals!


Certified International Business Performance Coaches, Margaret Maclay and Jerry Cohen will lead you to create an ACTION PLAN to assure you are on course…

During this interactive workshop you will:

-Choose your Destination

-Review your Flight Options

-Write Your Flight Plan

-Prepare for your Journey

-Take off at Full Throttle

-Plan for Turbulence

-Make Continual Course Corrections

-Persist until you SUCCEED!!

Learn the real keys to accomplishing any long term, meaningful success!

$39.95 in advance

$50.00 at the door

Click below to REGISTER and complete payment

NEW YORK WORKSHOP 5:45pm – 7:30pm

Tuesday March 9th, 2010

New York Life Bldg

420 Lexington Ave Graybar Building 15th Floor

NY, NY 10170

Click HERE for Directions

NEW JERSEY WORKSHOP 5:45pm – 7:30pm

Monday March 15th, 2010

Homewood Suites Hilton

10 The Promenade

Edgewater, NJ 07020

Get Directions HERE

You must bring a photo ID with you to the event.

All Materials included; beverages and light snacks will be served

Space is limited

Can’t wait to see you at the workshop!

To your success!

Margaret and Jerry

Jerry and Margaret have over 50 years of experience building, managing, transforming, leading and growing businesses and teams. They utilize the FocalPoint approach, designed by Brian Tracy, which are straight forward, common sense strategies and tactics which have been proven to dramatically increase profitability, effectiveness and overall organizational performance for all types of businesses and professional practices.

Posted in Business performance, Sales, Success | No Comments »

SUCCESS Is Not An Accident!!!

Success_FailureWelcome To My Blog!!!
The place to get and share information about achieving personal and professional success.
This is one of the best times in history to be in business…opportunities are everywhere…you just need to be open and ready to see them when they are right in front of you. HOW to do that?? Keep checking in for tips, methods, approaches and how to apply proven principles from experts, real life experiences and to share yours!

I just returned from the FocalPoint Coaching Annual Conference in Phoenix. 60 of our top coaches from around the globe were present to share ideas and approaches to ramping up Success-increasing productivity and profitability, achieving goals-Generating More Sales.

18 Disciplines of Selling were presented by our top coach and 2 time recipient of the Brian Tracy Award for Sales Excellence .
Here are the TOP 5: (stay tuned for more on future posts)
1. Be PROUD of whatever role you are in and act like it. Perception is reality.  CONFIDENCE SELLS!!
2. Act like a WINNER. People gravitate to those they perceive as winners. Success is an attitude.
3. Expect SUCCESSS and Never, Never, Never give up. Success requires persistence.
4. Be PASSIONATE about what you do and show it. People feel passion and they pay for passion.
5. Get ORGANIZED. If you live in clutter your mind is cluttered.
It was an inspiring week….What inspires YOU??
I welcome your comments, questions and requests for information. Tune in for upcoming events, articles of interest and lots more…..
To your success!FocalPoint

Posted in Sales, Success | 1 Comment »