High Stress Level


A small business is likely to provide a living for its owner, but not much more. There are always worries about competition, employee problems, new equipment, expanding inventory, rent increases, or changing market demand. In addition to other stresses, small business owners tend to be victims of physical and psychological stress. The small business person is often the owner, manager, sales force, shipping and receiving clerk, bookkeeper, and custodian. Many creative persons succeed or fail, not because of their business concepts, but rather because of difficulties in managing their business.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Learning Organizations are Fun


Many organizations, even in this day and age, still hate hearing bad news. This is driven by their attitude to learning: at heart, organizations are either learning organizations or they are not. Those that are not learning organizations genuinely hate bad news. They shoot messengers and prefer to bury their head in the sand till they get kicked out of their complacency and forced to act. Fortunately (or not) for some of them, they have enough credit in the bank to get kicked quite a few times before eventually they receive one kick too many and are pushed over the edge. Learning organizations, however, are fun to work in and attract talent.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Trend Analysis


Managers must often determine whether the variations in business activity indicated by statistics have any regular pattern.

Trend analysis, also known as time-series analysis, is the examination of data over a sufficiently long time so that regularities and relationships can be detected, interpreted, and used as the basis for forecasts of business activity. Such an analysis generally explains changes in terms of three factors: seasonal variations, cyclical variations, and secular (or long-term) trends in business growth.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

The Creative Selling Process


Although it may look easy, creative selling is not a simple task. Of course, some sales are made in a matter of minutes. But others, particularly for large organizational purchase, can take years to complete. Salespeople should follow a carefully planned process from start to finish.

Step 1: Prospecting: Prospecting is the process of finding and qualifying potential customers. This involves three activities:

  • Generating sales leads. Sales leads are names of individuals and organizations that might be likely prospects for the company’s products.
  • Identifying prospects. A prospect is a potential customer who indicates a need or a desire for the seller’s product.
  • Qualifying prospects. Not all prospects are worth investing sales time in. some may not have the authority to buy, and others won’t have enough money. The ones who do have both the authority and the available money are called qualified prospects.

Step 2: Preparing: With a list of hot prospects in hand, the salesperson’s next step is to prepare for the sales call. Without this preparation, the chances of success are greatly reduced. Preparation starts with creating a prospect profile, which includes the names of key people, their role in the decision-making process, and other relevant information such as the prospect’s buying needs, motive for buying, current suppliers, income/revenue level, and so on.

Next, the salesperson decides how to approach the prospect. Possible options for a first contact include sending a letter or cold calling in person or by telephone. For an existing customer, the salesperson can either drop by unannounced or call ahead for an appointment, which is generally preferred.

Before meeting with the prospect, the salesperson establishes specific objectives to achieve during the sales call. Depending on the situation, objectives can range anywhere from “getting the order today” to simply “convincing prospects top accept the company as a potential supplier.” Following that, the salesperson prepares the actual presentation, which can be as basic as a list of points to discuss or as elaborate as a product demonstration or multimedia presentation.

Step 3: Approaching the Prospect: Positive first impressions result from three elements. The first is an appropriate appearance—you wouldn’t wear blue jeans to call on a banker, and you probably wouldn’t wear a business suit to call on a farmer. Appearance also covers the things that represent you, including business cards, letters, and automobiles. Second, a salesperson’s attitude and behavior can make or break a sale. A salesperson should come across as professional, courteous, and considerate. Third, a salesperson’s opening lines should include a brief greeting and introduction, followed by a few carefully chosen words that get the prospect’s attention and generate interest. The best way to accomplish this is to focus on a benefit to the customer rather than on the product itself.

Step 4: Making the Presentation: the most critical step in the selling process is the presentation. It can take many forms, but its purpose never varies: to personally communicate a product message that will convince a prospect to buy. Most sellers use of two methods: The canned approach is a memorized presentation (easier for inexperienced sellers, but inefficient for complex products or for sellers who don’t know customer’s needs). The need satisfaction approach (now used by most professionals) identifies the customer’s needs and creates a presentation to specifically address them.

Step 5: Handling Objections: No matter how well a presentation is delivered, it doesn’t always conclude with an immediate offer that might move the prospect to buy. Often, the prospect will express various types of objections and concerns throughout the presentation. In fact, the absence of objections is often an indication that the prospect is not very interested in what the salesperson is selling. Many successful salespeople look at objections as a sign of the prospect’s interest and as an opportunity to develop new ideas that will strengthen future presentations.

Three basic approaches to overcoming objections include asking the prospect a question, giving a response to the objection, or telling the prospect that you will need to look into the matter and address it later.

Step 6: Closing: So far, you haven’t made a dime. You may have spent weeks or months—years in some cases—to bring the customer to this point, but you don’t make any money until the prospect decides to buy. This stage of the selling process, when you persuade the customer to place an order, is referred to as closing.

How should you ask for the order? Closing techniques are numerous; here are some of the more popular. The alternative proposal close asks the prospect to assumptive close, you simply proceed with processing the order, assuming that the prospect has already decided to buy. Another alternative is the silent close, in which you finish your presentation and sit quietly, waiting for the customer to respond with his or her buying decision. Finally, many salespeople prefer the direct close, where you just come right out and ask for the order.

These closing techniques might strike you as tricks, and in the hands of unethical salespeople, some closing approaches certainly can be. But the professional salesperson uses these techniques to make the selling process effective and efficient—not to trick people into buying when they aren’t ready.

Step 7: Following Up: Most salespeople depend on repeat sales, so it is important that they follow up on all sales and not ignore the customer once the first sale is made. During this follow-up stage of the selling process, you need to make sure that the product has been delivered properly and that the customer is satisfied. Inexperienced salespeople may avoid the follow-up stage because they fear facing an unhappy customer. However, an important part of a salesperson’s job is to ensure customer satisfaction and to build goodwill.

In order to improve the odds of keeping a satisfied customer after the sale, salespeople should remember to:

  • Handle complaints promptly and pleasantly
  • Maintain contact with customers
  • Keep serving the customers
  • Show appreciation.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Thinking Before Signing a Franchise Agreement


A franchise agreement is a legally binding contract that defines the relationship between the franchise and the franchiser. Because the Agreement is drawn up by the franchiser, the terms and conditions generally favor the franchiser. You don’t necessarily have to agree to everything on the first go-round. Maybe you can negotiate a better deal. Before signing the franchise agreement, be sure consult an attorney. Here are some tips you must consider before signing the agreement:

  1. Are your legal responsibilities as a franchisee clear? Are your family members similarly obligated?
  2. Who is responsible for selecting the location of your business?
  3. Is the name or trademark of your franchise legally protected? Can the franchiser change or modify the trademark without consulting you?
  4. Has the franchiser made any oral promises that are not reflected in the written franchise agreement?
  5. What are your renewal rights? What conditions must you meet to renew your agreement?
  6. Do you have exclusive rights to a given territory or could the franchiser sell to additional franchisees who would become your competitors?
  7. Under what terms are you allowed or required to terminate the franchise agreement? What becomes of the lease and assets if the agreement is terminated? Are you barred from opening a similar business?
  8. Under what terms and conditions are you permitted or required to sell some or all of your interests in the franchise?
  9. Are you required to buy supplies from the franchiser or other specified suppliers? Under what circumstances can you choose your own suppliers?
  10. Has your attorney studied the written franchise agreement? Does it conform to the requirements of Government rules?

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

The Role of Entrepreneur


An entrepreneur is an individual who risks his or her wealth, time, and effort to develop for profit an innovative product or way of doing something. The free enterprise system provides the conditions necessary for entrepreneurs to succeed. In the past, entrepreneurs were often inventors who brought all the factors of production together to purchase a new product.

Entrepreneurs are constantly changing business practices with new technology and innovative management techniques.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Value Chain Analysis


The term value chain describes a way of looking at a business as a chain of activities that transform inputs into outputs that customers value. Customer value derives from three basic sources: activities that differentiate the product, activities that lower its cost, and activities that meet the customer’s need quickly. Value chain analysis (VAC) attempts to understand how a business creates customer value by examining the contributions of different activities within the business to that value.

VCA takes a process point of view: it divides (sometimes called disaggregates) the business into sets of activities that occur within the business, starting with the inputs a firm receives and finishing with the firm’s products (or services) and after-sales service to customers. VCA attempts to look at its costs across the series of activities the business performs to determine where low-cost advantages or cost disadvantages exist. It looks at the attributes of each of these different activities to determine in what ways each activity that occurs between purchasing inputs and after-sales service helps differentiate the company’s products and services. Proponents of VCA believe it allows managers to better identify their firm’s strengths and weaknesses by looking at the business as a process—a chain of activities—of what actually happens in the business rather than simply looking at it based on arbitrary organizational dividing lines or historical accounting protocol.

Judgment is required across individual firms and different industries because what may be seen as a support activity in one firm or industry may be a primary activity in another. Computer operations might typically be seen as infrastructure support, for example, but may be seen as a primary activity in airlines, newspapers, or banks.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Openness to Criticism


Criticism of any decision not only reflects on the actual appropriateness of the decision itself, but also on the decision-maker as well. When making a difficult decision, it is very  tempting to quickly move past it in order to avoid the questions and doubts the disapproval causes. However, the failure to adequately engage the objection becomes its own ethical dilemma with costs to both the individual and the organization when the ethical dimension is ignored. Openness to the criticism and the lessons it contains can be a key indication that the professional is actively integrating ethics and value reflection into his or her professional life.

When one’s decisions are criticized, one needs practical tools and processes to effectively learn from the reproach and to engage the ethical issues the disapproval presents. there are four fundamental steps in such examination described per herebelow:

  1. Accept the discomfort of the criticism and honestly confront the temptation to ignore it. An important incentive for this honest self-reflection is an understanding of the negative consequences of ignoring the ethics of one’s decisions and their consequences.
  2. Identify personal core values, listing them and examining them in light of the criticism being encountered.
  3. Cultivate openness to the ethical dimension of the business life and of business decisions. The role of the moral imagination and reflection will be examined.
  4. The need for practical tools to identify and audit the core values at work in the decision-making process will be reviewed.

These elements will enable the professional to effectively engage the ethical dimension of decisions and their aftermath. Openness to criticism, developing the moral imagination, having practical tools for ethical decision-making, and understanding the need to integrate one’s values into business goals, perspectives, and decisions are fundamental ingredients in integrating both vision and reality.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Ethical Expectations and Public Values


Ethical expectations are a vital part of the business environment. The public expects business to be ethical and wants corporate managers to apply ethical principles—in other words, guidelines about what is right and wrong, fair and unfair, and morally correct—when they make business decisions.

In the global arena, ethical standards—and even what is meant by ethics—can vary from one society to another. In spite of differences in ethical meanings, cultural variation does not automatically rule out common ethical agreement being reached among people of different societies.

Human rights issues have become more prominent and important for business. For many years that pressure was exerted on South Africa’s political leaders to halt racially discriminatory practices of apartheid and its business leaders to challenge the South African government’s enforcement of the policy.

The question is not, ‘Should business be ethical?’ nor is it, ‘Should business be economically different?’ Society wants business to be both at the same time. Ethical behavior is a key aspect of corporate social performance. To maintain public support and credibility—that is, business legitimacy—businesses must find ways to balance and integrate these two social demands: high economic performance and high ethical standards. When a company and its employees act ethically in dealings with other stakeholders, they are improving the organization’s contribution as a social actor. When they fail to act ethically, there is the risk of losing the public support an organization needs to be credible and successful.

Business leaders are faced with the continuing challenge of meeting public expectations that are, themselves, always changing. Yesterday’s acceptable behavior may not be tolerated today. Many forms of harassment and discrimination were once common. Today, however, social standards make such actions unacceptable. Public expectations of service and ethical behavior are as relevant to a business as customer expectations regarding products such as automobiles and computers.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

The Workload


The workload may vary from hour to hour, day to day, week to week, season to season or from department to department or job to job. Workloads may be as simple to measure as, “We need one security guard on duty every hour of the year,” or as complex as, “We manufacture and ship over 300 different customer products, and our customer orders come in at the last minute.” Companies that do not routinely measure their workload practice backward scheduling, fit the workload into their current schedule even though that schedule may be the wrong one. The result is often a big gap between the master schedule (the one that’s posted in the employee handbook or printed in the union contract) and the actual schedule (the one that is really worked). Many companies become experts at backward scheduling and are able to stretch their master schedule to the limits, keeping customers satisfied, but the negative impact on productivity, safety, overtime, and morale can cost millions of dollars every year.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir - Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

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