• Dennis Kelley

    David Kelley

    Dennis Kelley is a seasoned professional with over 30 years experience leading teams and coaching people to success. Dennis is in high demand as a speaker, consultant, trainer and an author... Read More

    David Kelley

  • Inspirational Quote

    “The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” -- Michalangelo
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  • March 2018
    M T W T F S S
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Quick…When I Say Salesmen What Comes to Mind?

salesWhen I ask most people that question the typical responses are a wrinkle of their nose and words like, pushy, intrusive, won’t take no for an answer, an interruption, and even rude. It is a reaction born from experience and stereotypes. Just think of the last time you interacted with someone trying to sell you something. Was the experience a good one? Did you find yourself becoming defensive?

Salespeople who act in ways that make us uncomfortable have confronted us all.  For example, there is the sales person that just would not leave you alone or tried to push you into buying something you didn’t need. Not all of our experiences have been bad, but they are the ones we remember…and tell others about! The good experiences tend to be ones that feel right and you did not feel pressured into the purchase. The salesperson may have been very persuasive, but their style and approach did not leave you feeling pressured.

Many times, I find my clients struggling with the concept of truly selling in their business. They are concerned others will see their business in this same negative light. “If I’m just nice to my customers and give them a good product, then they will buy,” is the common position many owners take.

But, here’s the real shocker…we are all salespeople! That’s right; we are all salespeople.  We sell every day…in our personal life, with our spouse, kids, friends and others we meet, during our normal daily activities. In your business life, you are selling to your employees, co-workers, vendors, and yes, even with your customer.

You see, selling occurs anytime you are trying to persuade someone else. In fact, the most successful sales people are those who can talk to people, listen actively, and uncover their needs to reach agreement. Selling is actually a very positive activity and extremely important in every business. No business can survive if selling is not a key priority that is practiced and coached daily.

It is also critical to understand your sales numbers. Three areas you must focus on in order to improve your results are: your conversion of prospects into paying customers, the average amount each customer spends with you each time they make a purchase and how many times they buy from you. Let’s take a quick look at each one.

Sales conversion rate – set up a simple process to measure the number of prospects your business generates and how many of them make a purchase. Your business already generates prospects so converting more of those prospects to paying customers is a low-cost way to increase revenues. This includes how many people contact your business through website visits, phone calls, personal visits, pro-active salesperson contacts, etc. Improve your conversion rate and your marketing efficiency increases making your business more profitable.

Average amount sold to each client – measure the average ticket size per sale in your business. Increasing this average through cross-selling and up-selling will increase revenues very cost effectively. Your average will increase by offering your prospects and clients additional services or adding value to their purchase. It goes without saying that this must be done ethically and be in the interest of the client. However, there are many ways to increase the average amount sold. Some of these include offering additional products or services, service agreements, or other valuable items that are in the best interest of the customer.

Number of times a customer buys from you – keeping your current customers coming back again and again is cheaper than finding new people to buy from you all the time. Build a base of loyal customers and keep them coming back to grow your business. Successful businesses know how to keep their customers coming back while also attracting new ones. Build customer loyalty programs, communicate with them on a regular basis, understand and meet their on-going needs and be sure to thank them for their business.

I define selling as “professionally helping others to buy.”  Note the term professionally as that is a critical part of the process.  It is not about being pushy, rude, aggressive, etc.  It is about finding a need and showing the prospect how to meet the need through your business and its products…professionally. 

Changing perceptions, either yours or those of your team, about what selling is and how to do it will help you grow your business revenue and even more importantly your profits. 

Now go sell, sell, sell…professionally!

To your success,


It Takes 100% Commitment to Your Plan to Succeed

Stay committed to your plan to reach new heights

Stay committed to your plan to reach new heights

There are three areas you must focus on in order to achieve the success you desire. In difficult times like these it is absolutely critical that you learn these three key skills and apply them every day in your business and life.


One of the most difficult things to master when you are self-employed is maintaining self-discipline. It is too easy to become distracted or lose sight of what is really important. In times like these it is very important to stay focused on the big picture. There may be times when you need to deny yourself small things until you can achieve the big goal you really want. That is what self-discipline is all about. It is important to recognize that our mind plays tricks on us. Sometimes it will attempt to divert us from achieving our goal when it looks too much like work. Sometimes we stall our own best efforts by not practicing self-discipline.

Learning to be self-disciplined helps to nip this problem in the bud. So, what does self-discipline mean? It is the ability to do things we need to do even when we don’t really feel like doing it. The hardest part is staying focused on doing what needs done. The good thing about developing self-discipline is that it is fairly easy to train your mind to it. It can be compared to training a muscle. When you exercise it on a regular basis, it becomes strong and healthy. On the other hand, if left unused, it will weaken and atrophy.

Self-discipline is built from habits and repetitive patterns of behavior. When you establish a pattern of achieving your goals, it creates momentum. This makes it easier to stay committed to your objectives. After you have experienced the satisfaction of completing a few of your goals, you will be more disciplined. You will want to achieve the next goal and then the next goal until you have reached your dreams. Show self-discipline toward the goals you have set, and you will have the outcome you are aiming for sooner instead of later.

Risk versus Reward Analysis

Any path you choose will have a variety of risk and rewards.  Of course, the ultimate reward will be achieving the success you are working toward. Throughout the journey to success, you will be making risk reward assessments. The analysis should be to look at the objectives you set and verify they align with your ultimate goal. This exercise will help to increase your level of commitment providing encouragement that you are on the right track.

When you compare the action you are currently undertaking to a long-term goal, the positive feelings associated with those dreams are reinforced. Stirring these feelings helps to increase the power of the vision you have of your ideal life. The reward you are giving yourself will outweigh the risk of taking the step you are committing to get you closer to your goal. 

Of course, if you do this risk reward analysis and determine the step you are about to start doesn’t get you closer to your objective, then you will determine not to do it. Don’t forget about the importance of giving yourself small rewards as you accomplish certain milestones. The determination of the rewards you will receive by taking action against your goals will dramatically increase your commitment to taking the needed action.

Focused Attention

You get what you focus on in life. By controlling our attention, we are able to control our outcomes. By focusing our attention on what it is we want in life, we are keeping it off the things we do not want. Whenever you find yourself beginning to drift away from the things you want to accomplish in life, then re-focus your attention. 

Your short-term goals help you determine areas in your life to focus on for the purpose of achieving that goal. It can be any of the goals you have established including financial, spiritual, mental, physical or educational in nature. Select one specific area and decide that you are going to focus your attention on it today in order to understand how you are creating improvement or change there.

If it is financial, focus your attention on how your money is spent by keeping records to review. If it is spiritual, determine where you need to focus your attention to better connect spiritually. If it is mental, determine what is causing the mental concern and seek advice about overcoming this concern. If it is physical, ask yourself what you need to do to improve the physical situation and create a plan. If it is educational, determine what book, program, class, job or other format will provide the knowledge and focus on completing it. A strong focused approach to taking the steps you have outlined in your success plan will keep you committed to them. 

Focus your attention first thing in the morning to set your mental focus for the day. Do it again at bedtime to lock in the progress you made during the day. This allows your mental state to stay focused on the positives. You achieve what you focus on, so keep your thoughts locked in on what you want and what you have achieved. Be pulled into action each day by keeping positive focused attention on your expected outcomes. 

To Your Success,

Secrets of a Top Salesperson – Special Offer

51glYO9FnqL__SL500_AA240_Today Sales can be one of the most fulfilling, exciting and lucrative careers you can choose. But let’s face it—sales can also be very frustrating—financially, emotionally, and intellectually. If you are a professional seeking unlimited success and financial freedom–or if you aspire to be– you want to minimize your learning curve.

Especially during a tough economy. How? By learning from someone who has been through the exact challenges you are facing—and succeeded superbly.

Introducing Paula Pagano, 30 year top producer, sales trainer and author of Secrets of a Top Salesperson – How Emotions Make or Break the Sale. Paula writes with raw honesty and heartfelt humor about the emotional journey of succeeding in sales. That’s right – the part most people gloss over when they leap straight to the end of their success story.

Secrets of a Top Salesperson is where Eat, Pray, Love meets The Art of the Deal. This new book has sparked much praise within the business and literary communities:

• Barbara Corcoran, NBC’s Today Show Current Real Estate Guru says, “Secrets of a Top Salesperson is a powerhouse of ideas for entrepreneurs and anyone who has been hit by the mortgage/ real estate crisis.”
• Ray Brown, best selling author of ‘Home Buying for Dummies’ and 15 Year KNBR radio host recommends Secrets to all real estate agents.
• Mike Larsen, well-known literary agent claims, “Secrets of a Top Salesperson is truly inspirational!”

SPECIAL OFFER – today only buy one copy of Paula’s book during our special promotion, and you will instantly receive several hundred dollars of bonus gifts from experts—workbooks, audio materials, and coaching by these pro’s—including free sales coaching by Paula.

You can even enter a drawing for a 3 day/2 night cruise! Discover all the bonus gifts here: http://topsecretsofasalesperson.com/?id=0022. Paula knows that life is about more than making money. It is about the journey of personal transformation that you absolutely must experience in order to become highly successful.

Act now! Learn the coveted secrets of a top salesperson today. http://topsecretsofasalesperson.com/?id=0022

The Movable Mountain

I just finished reading a chapter in the book ThinkerToys by Michael Michalko. I have found this book to be fascinating and highly recommend it. Michael has packed this book with a ton of creative ways to look at business problems and attack them to find solutions.

One thing that struck me today was a summary he gave for a chapter on a Tug-of-War strategy to problem solving. He summed it up with the following;

“Once there was a man who died and found himself in Hell, with the road to Heaven blocked by a huge mountain. Although indignant that he was in Hell, the man assumed he could do nothing to change his situation and settled down to an eternity of suffering. He never discovered that the mountain was on wheels – to reach Heaven he needed to only push the mountain aside.”

He went on to say, “Once you identify the forces operating in your challenge, they become as negotiable as a mountain on wheels. You can either learn to live with the negatives by limiting your options and compromising your goals, or you can change their position and neutralize their impact.”

Wow! How many people accept their current situation and settle down for a life of mediocrity or, even worse, misery? What are the forces operating against your goals? Have you created options to get them out of your way? Don’t compromise — create a plan for your life; determine what is in your way and find creative solutions to remove them. Once you move the mountain out of the way, there’s nothing to stop you but you!

To Your Success,

ps. if you need to get out of your own way to achieve your goals then pick up a copy of my book, Achieving Unlimited Success, and get started building the business / life you always wanted!

What if It Cost You Money to Buy Time

Lost time = lost money!

Lost time = lost money!

If you are a solo-preneur, a sole-proprietor or a small business owner, then one of the biggest double edged swords in your business is that you don’t pay “cash” for the inventory of time you sell. One edge of the sword is the amount of money you can make selling your time. The other edge of the sword is the self-defeating tendency to give away your time for free since there’s no hard cost associated with it.

Your time is one of the most valuable assets you have. Giving it away for free just doesn’t add up. Think about it like this. Imagine that every day you show up at work and before you can begin work you have to pay $800 to purchase a bucket with eight gallons of liquid time in it. You have to sell those eight gallons during the day. If you don’t then you won’t have the cash you need to buy your liquid time tomorrow. Of course, your goal is to sell those eight gallons for more than $800 so you can make a profit. 

Also, the bucket has a small hole in and will leak liquid time and there isn’t anything you can do about it. This hole represents the amount of time wasted from interruptions, distractions and delusions during the day. In order to not lose too much of your valuable time, you need to stay focused on selling it quickly. The more time you waste the more time runs out of the bucket and won’t be available to sell.

Regardless of the type of business you are in, you have to ask yourself if you are being honest with yourself. Are you frustrated every day because you know that you are wasting your time on insignificant things that you really shouldn’t be focused on? It happens all the time where business owners become so bogged down in the day-to-day minutiae and don’t sell their time for the maximum value.

Becoming or staying profitable is all about doing less insignificant activity! Remember, you can buy a bucket full of time for a personal assistant or virtual assistant for a lot less than what you can sell your time for. You can outsource your bookkeeping. You can delegate less valuable task to subordinates, or simply cut out those things that aren’t necessary. 

The real key is having the discipline and accountability to minimize “procrastination” or “avoidance” behaviors yourself. If you take a hard look at your day you’ll know what I mean. Staring at your emails while they download, surfing the web, doing non-productive tasks and the list goes on and on while your bucket continues to leak your time away!

One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is letting the fear of paying for an assistant hold them back. They see the cash expenditure required and tell themselves that someday they will be able to afford it. Meanwhile, they will continue to perform administrative duties they could pay someone $8 – $9 an hour to do while they could be selling their time (products, services, advice, etc.) for 5, 10 or even 20 times that amount. 

Ask yourself, how much an hour of your time really is worth. If you were out doing the things necessary to build your business, sell your products or services how fast could your business grow? How much would you need to sell in order to cover the cost of a part-time or even full-time assistant? Way too many businesses are held back from reaching their full potential because the owner isn’t applying their skills and talents to the most important part of the business. 

Your bucket continues to leak all over the floor while you are doing the minor work that best fits someone else’s skills. Make the decision to invest your time in those things that will bring the highest return for your business. If you want to someday become successful enough to step back and enjoy the fruits of your labor, then you need to begin right now. Be honest with yourself and evaluate how much of your time is leaking out of the bucket each day and then fix it.

Is Our Connectedness Causing Us to Disconnect?

7-7-08-text-messagingThere is no doubt that we are more connected today than at any time in our history. It is possible today to be connected to hundreds and even thousands of people at a time and to constantly keep everyone in our network up to date on our activities. Today’s technology makes it possible to never be out of touch. Yet, it seems the more technology enabled we become the more disconnected we are.

Years ago if you wanted to keep in touch with someone you needed to make a telephone call or write to them one at a time. In order to make that call you needed to be somewhere that you could use a land line and if you didn’t reach them you may be able to leave a message if they were fortunate enough to have an answering machine. Your other choice was to actually write a letter and put it in the mail. This was true whether you were contacting a family member, friend or wanted to communicate something to someone at work.

Then, along came the cell phone and all the sudden we could now talk to anyone, anytime from anywhere (except those pesky dead zones.) It was now possible to talk to your sales agent while they are in the field, or reach the boss while they are out of the office to ask that critical question that just couldn’t wait until they got back to the office. We could also now stay connected to the office from our car or in the evening or weekend and while on vacation with the family. All the sudden we became connected to the office with the cell phone as our umbilical cord. Now there was no need to go anywhere without having someone on the phone. I know people who pull out of their driveway dialing the phone while backing out of the garage.

Pretty soon text messaging and instant messaging offered the chance to say something without needing to actually have a conversation. We could control the conversation and reach more people at a time and say things we may not be willing to say if we had to hear the persons voice or actually see their face. Today, we all laugh about our kids who text each other while they are in the same room. Is it really funny though? Suddenly making a phone call and having a conversation with a live human being became uncool and uncomfortable.

Now we can add to this our addiction to social networking. Twitter is the new rage. Nobody seems to know exactly how many Twitter users there are, but estimates are there are more than one million active users who Tweet more than three million messages a day. Now you can say something pithy in 140 characters or less to anyone who is willing to read it. It suddenly is possible to tell all our ‘friends’ what we had for lunch, what meeting we are heading to or how we feel at the moment. No need to engage in discussion – you can share your feeling, thoughts, emotions, benign activities anytime of the day or night and ‘communicate’ anything you want.

In addition to Twitter, there are over 200 million Facebook users, 191 million MySpace users and more than 29 million Friendster users in the world. Add to that the millions of users on LinkedIn, Plaxo, Classmates.com and all the other social networking sites and it seems everyone is technology crazy these days. It is also predicted that more than half the world will have a cell phone by the end of 2009. It seems that with so much connectedness going on it should be making our lives easier and allow for great communication in our society.

So why is it that there seems to be so much discourse and miscommunication happening on a regular basis? Have we become a society that uses technology to avoid having meaningful discussions that allow for relationship building, sharing of ideas and reasonable debate that helps solve problems instead of creating them?

Technology clearly has a place in our life these days and can be utilized in many ways to keep people informed and up to date. Businesses can find many effective and efficient ways to use technology to keep team members, customers, vendors and others up to date more timely and effectively than always making a phone call or mailing a letter. The question is whether we can develop or maintain a relationship or manage conflict and crises through Tweets, Wall Posts, and texting.

Every day I talk to and hear from people who seem to use technology as a way to avoid personal contact. I know people who wait until they know someone will not be home or are away from the office to call so they can leave a message and not have to talk to them. By making the call, they can now check off their mental list that they have kept in touch. People respond to a voicemail with an email or text message. The Tweet or Facebook Wall post keeps everyone up to date so the guilt of feeling like they should call or visit someone and talk to them is removed.

Technology makes it easy to tell people what you have been up to, but don’t let it replace personal contact to build and maintain relationships. We are at great risk with our youth in losing the ability to do business and create lasting relationships other than through technology. Many more problems are solved, ideas created and relationships strengthened through personal contact than through the cold, impersonal, mass-distributed contact of technology.

Go ahead and send that Tweet, or make your Wall post or send that text message, but also make some time to call someone you want to keep in touch with, care about or have an interest in maintaining a strong relationship with. Set up a time for a cup of coffee together or to ‘do lunch’ or just spend five minutes letting them know that you care. Businesses are built on strong relationships; if you want to differentiate yourself in today’s high tech world, pick up the phone or hand write a personal note. Don’t let your connectedness cause you to disconnect.

To Your Success,

Build a Successful Business Through the Art of Budgeting

Budget Your Way to Success

Budget Your Way to Success

Statistics show that only 43% of small businesses that have employees prepare a budget that projects revenues, expenses and profit. If you include sole proprietor type businesses then that number is closer to 80%. There are many reasons for this staggering statistic. Many owners simply believe their business is too small to need to budget. Others feel they don’t have enough money to worry about budgeting. Probably the biggest reason small business owners don’t manage their business with a budget is that they don’t like to do it and they don’t know how to do it. 

What is a budget? A budget is a plan that establishes goals for how you will manage the financial resources and expenditures for your business. It is a simple equation of revenues (sales) minus expenses (costs) to determine profit. An annual budget, commonly referred to as an operating plan, broken down into monthly projections allows you to capture infrequent expenditures as well as see trends and the seasonality of your business. 

A budget creates the plan that allows you to determine if you are making progress toward your goals. It gives you the information you need to make informed, intelligent decisions about how to run your business successfully. Budgeting is important because it helps you determine if you have enough money to fund operations, expand the business and create profit and long-term wealth for the owner. Every small business owner should budget, no matter the size of the business. 

In 84% of small businesses, the owner or a partner prepares the budget. This can be done in conjunction with your accountant or CPA. There is nothing difficult about this task, however, most small business owners are not familiar with the process and therefore avoid it. 

Business budgets do not need to be a monster. You can create simple and effective business forecasts using a simple set of guidelines. If you are still unsure of how to approach it, ask your CPA or a trusted business peer. There are also many great resources from books to on-line programs to seminars on the subject. Accept the fact that there will be a learning curve in both how to create a budget as well as how to use it to manage the business decisions. 

Here are some guidelines to follow in creating an operating plan and using it to build a strong company that provides a great return for you. 

Review Your Financial History or Industry Standards

If you have been in business for a few years, pull out your records from the past 2 or 3 years and build a spreadsheet of the revenues and expenses. Break the expenses into fixed costs and variable costs and by easily identifiable categories. If your business is new, research industry standards to determine your starting point. Not all businesses are alike, but there are similarities. You can also check the IRS Website to get an idea of what percentage of revenue goes to various cost groupings. Once you have this information, you will be ready to build your forecast. 

Build a Spreadsheet with Your Expected Results

Construct a spreadsheet to estimate the dollar amount to budget for each revenue category and expense category. Review your history and / or research to determine how much to budget for each category. As your revenues increase, your expenditure for materials and other variable costs will also increase. Be sure to consider this as you create your spreadsheet. Factor in any seasonality to your estimates. Don’t just decide what your annual expense is and divide it by twelve unless your business has not seasonality or you are not expecting growth. Don’t forget to budget for marketing and promotion to build your business. 

Look for Ways to Reduce Costs

Now that you have your revenues and expenses plugged into the spreadsheet, take a look at the difference between the two. This is your profit. Is it as large as you want it to be? Fine-tune your numbers by looking for ways to cut cost. Where can you get a better deal from suppliers or make adjustments that will add to your bottom line? Or you can reallocate to give you more money for marketing that will improve results. Every penny saved in expenses will boost the bottom line. Small changes can add up quickly. 

Err on the Side of Conservative

Watching expenses and cutting wherever possible is important however, you still need to be conservative in your estimates. Be realistic in your revenue expectations and build in some cushion for expenses, as there will always be surprises along the way. 

Review Your Results Against the Plan Regularly

After each month, compare your actual result to your budget. Look for any variances and make sure you can explain them. By understanding why you missed the budget you will be able to better manage the results. If costs increased then maybe you need to review pricing or service providers. Are lower revenues a result of ineffective marketing, pricing or some other factor? If necessary, make some minor adjustments to the plan to improve your forecast for upcoming periods. By actively reviewing your results, you will quickly get a clear picture of your business and be in a position to manage it effectively. 

Use Your Budget as a Form of Restraint

The budget is not intended to constrain your business but to help you restrain from making poor decisions. Sticking to a solid plan is the most effective teacher of fiscal restraint and teaches discipline. However, don’t let the plan keep you from busting the budget on occasion should something exceptional occur. As an example, if you have discovered a marketing program that drives exceptional results, invest more in it even if it exceeds the budget. Take advantage of opportunities that arise to grow your business and adjust your plan accordingly. 

Budgeting is an easy but essential process that all business owners should use to forecast results. The goal is to provide enough fiscal discipline to keep your business running smoothly and growing to ensure success. In addition to the operating budget, it is critical to develop a cash flow budget to monitor cash levels. This is a separate but critical budget for business owners. Learning to apply the fiscal discipline of budgeting to your business will keep the business healthy. 

To your success,