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Archive for December, 2014

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San Francisco,  January 2015

Gerbsman Partners wishes you and your family, a Happy, Healthy and Safe New Year.

We also say “thank you” to our clients, advisors, business partners and all the people the team has been involved with. Gerbsman Partners goals have and always will be, to “Earn the Trust and Confidence” of our clients and to maintain the highest standards of “Ethics and Integrity”.

As we enter this New Year, we do so again with “Hope for the Future” and with the belief that the heritage of our nation will continue to demonstrate the values of our forefathers. Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Goodness.

Please accept our appreciation for your past support, confidence and trust. May 2015 be a successful and profitable year for you and more importantly, provide a gateway to a bright and prosperous future for our children and grandchildren.

Please remember that Leaders Lead, Freedom is not Free and we should take Responsibility for our Actions.

May you and your family be healthy, stay safe and enjoy.

Best regards

Steven R. Gerbsman

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Art of the Sale: Advice to Help You Win the Negotiation Game (and Land New Customers)

CEO, TrinityOne, Inc

You have to understand all the pieces of the sales puzzle–sales, negotiation and fulfillment–before you can learn how they fit together to create business success.
During my tenure in both radio and TV management, and as the chief marketing officer of a professional sports team, my roles encompassed not only creating and managing the sales and sponsorship plans, but also to serve as the lead negotiator for all those deals. The intention of these plans and the salespeople executing them was to get the prospect to a “yes” in doing a deal with their organization. Although that may seem like any salesperson’s obvious goal, it’s important to understand that a “yes” in a sales situation doesn’t always mean the deal is closed. In fact, the reality is a “yes” at the end of a sales process is just the beginning.The terms “sales” and “negotiation” are the rival siblings of the deal-making process, and they often don’t harmoniously coexist. For instance, when we “closed” the first naming-rights deal for a new stadium, the presumption was that our job was done. But we didn’t take into consideration the length of time and all the hurdles we’d face to actually get a signed document. The process took months, with an enormous amount of frustration and haggling that was often unproductive and irrelevant.When you’re part of a large organization, the extra work and time that’s spent on a deal can be masked by the number of employees in the organization. In your small business, however, long, drawn-out negotiations might be catastrophic: You don’t always have the depth to absorb the additional work and duration of a long negotiation. That’s why sales and negotiations, which are quite often viewed as two separate processes, need to work together to ensure efficient and effective resolve for the purpose of generating revenue.

Working as a Team

To help ensure that the pitfall of sales and negotiation doesn’t trip up your small business, make sure your company’s sales process isn’t just a separate department whose only goal is to get new business in the door. Instead, sales should be just the first step in an overall process of bringing in new business. The employees responsible for sales, negotiation and fulfillment all need to perform as a team to ensure you’re not saddled with gaps, confusion or inconsistency when a new deal’s been put on the books.

To make this happen, you should review your current organization, then put a process in place to ensure the company performs as a cohesive championship team rather than as a group of individual hotshots. When you approach a new business deal, make sure the three following areas are taken into consideration as a single process, not as separate functions.

1. Sales Steps and Communication

It’s helpful that the person responsible for bringing in the business isn’t just focused on the “ask” or the “close,” but also on all the information that needs to be gathered during the sales process that could help final negotiations and fulfillment. The business rep should be mindful of all the details that could affect other areas of the operation, then the pertinent details must be communicated to those taking over the relationship after the sale’s been completed. Sure, there is a sales process that has to take place to get revenue in the door . There are varying schools of thought on the proper mix of identifying prospects and performing research on potential customers, as well as different methods of outreach and engagement. But more important than specific sales process is how a small business engages and communicates with potential consumers.

To help you and your team get a prospect to say and keep saying “yes,” keep in mind what I call the “Three Gs to Gold”—gather, give, get—during the sales process:

Gather. Devise a cost-effective way to gather information about your customers and potential customers. Remember, current customers are also potential customers because you want to be growing the amount of money that customers are currently spending with you. Don’t focus solely on new business—focus on all business.

Take notes on your customers to make sure you understand what each customer truly wants, not just what you want to sell. To close a deal, you must not assume your product or service is the end all be all for your potential customers. We’re not living in a cookie-cutter world, so one size fits all is a terrible sales strategy. One way to do this is by using customer relationship management (CRM) software. Because there are a lot of products out there, you should be able to find an option that’s affordable for you. Salesforce is what I use, but Batchbook is another viable option, and Nimble uses its technology to feed in social data to your database. Whatever you do, find a solution that fits best with your company and use it religiously. I always tell my restaurateur friends that their waiters and waitresses should not only be taking orders—they should be taking notes.

Give. Once you know your customers, you can give them what they want and customize their experience to fit their needs and goals. But let me be clear: I’m not suggesting you change your products and services permanently to fit the needs of each of your customers. What I am suggesting is that you do what’s possible to customize the experience so your customers don’t want to go anywhere else. For instance, if you are selling a product such as pasta, I am not recommending you change your recipe to cater to one customer. But you should customize the experience so that customers do not want to go anywhere else. However, taking into consideration the restaurant advice provided above, by all means alter the meal to meet the customer’s wants . Your understanding of your customers’ needs and the relationships you develop with them may lead to a lifetime of sales as opposed to a single transaction. This second “G” will also greatly aid in the negotiation process and lead to a smoother back and forth to close a deal.

Get. Don’t just get your customers  to pay you—get their feedback, too. Once the sale is complete and you’ve provided your product or service, keep asking your customers questions so you’ll understand how to make your products and services better. The more feedback you receive, the better you’ll be at closing your customers again and again.

There are many ways to get this feedback—the key is not being afraid to ask. Companies such as Survey.com and SurveyMonkey can be helpful with broad-stroke questions and can even use social data to assist in verifying the validity of your customers’ answers. However, I’m partial to the “old-fashioned” way of doing things: personally asking your customers for feedback and insights regarding their experiences. Not only will asking them face to face or over the phone provide the data you need, but it will also assist in building relationships.

One last note: Don’t simply gather information so you can load each prospect’s profile with data. Instead, have your salespeople meet with the people who handle fulfillment to identify the data that can best assist them—this will help ensure that the nuances of the information aren’t missed. Having the information in your CRM system means the details will be readily available when it’s time to move on to the next stages of the process.

Just following steps to get one sale or your first sale is short sighted. For long-term sustainability, you must be concerned with the relationships you possess with customers and not just what they purchase from you. The Three Gs to Gold should guide you to make sure you are properly attending to the consumer to ensure not only one transactional sale, but, more importantly, a lifetime of sales.

2. Negotiation Preparation

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The more information that’s gathered during the sales process, the more efficient the negotiations are likely to be. The data should include details on the type of personalities that will be on the other side of the table, such as their negotiating style and personal information. Having a fix on the people involved in the negotiation process is sometimes more important to the details of the deal—understanding the egos at the table can be very helpful in getting a deal closed quickly. Prior to any prospecting, never mind negotiation, you must research potential clients and build profiles on them  to understand their makeup and characteristics. Understanding who they are will greatly aid in communicating with them to get to a closed deal. This will also help to break down barriers between the two sides. Often the animosity in a negotiation stems from not truly knowing the party on the other side of the table. The sales process and taking notes should complete any of the research done prior to the sale.

When I first started my company, TrinityOne, a three-employee operation at the onset, I lost a deal because I focused too much on the services we would provide instead of paying attention to the characteristics of the main person doing the negotiating for the other side. I was so sure we were the best option for this potential client, I lost sight of the fact that the ego on the other side of the table wasn’t negotiating for services; he was negotiating for superiority. He needed a win, beyond the logic of how the services would make his company better.  I wasn’t in tune with the personalities as deeply as I should have been. I probably could have closed the deal if I’d handled it the same way I did when I had the sports team’s brand behind me. But as a startup, I didn’t have the luxuries of a big brand, and I should have negotiated differently.

What I learned was that the services we provided were only one aspect of what the client wanted. Keep in mind these five negotiation nuggets to help you set the table for a more conducive and expedient way of getting the deal done:

  1. Understand the goals the client wants to accomplish in using your product or services.
  2. Know how the client wants to work with your company and the role you need to play.
  3. Have a full grasp on the “wins” of a client. (Remember, “wins” go well beyond company goals.)
  4. Be mindful of the client’s style and whose style in your group fits best.
  5. Don’t be afraid to say “no” when appropriate. It will lead to a deeper respect for you.

3. Meeting Expectations

Advancing from making the sale and negotiation to getting the signed contract and payment in a deal can be a satisfying experience . But the deal isn’t complete until customers receive what they  bargained for and, if you’re a great business, you go above and beyond what was expected. Understanding the process of fulfilling the deal and knowing that your company can actually get the job done are critical for business success. If you can do all that you say you can and exceed your customers’ expectations, it’s likely that you could not only recognize revenue from the closed deal, but also earn additional future revenue from the same company and from referrals.

Also, realize it’s those stated and implied expectations that need to be met, not just the list of fulfillment items on the agreement. It’s helpful to keep something in your “back pocket” to give to the client during the execution of the deal. Something of low cost or no cost is preferable so you don’t erode the margins of the deal.

When I was working for the sports team, we would take people down on the field pregame as an extra bonus. These on-field passes were not part of the deal and always made the clients feel extra special. You can likewise give something to a client that is not part of the deal, but makes them feel special.

Let’s go back to that restaurant example, but now, you’re the customer: Think about how you feel when you order a meal at a restaurant and it doesn’t meet your expectations. Perhaps the restaurant brought you the type of food you ordered, but it missed the point on how you wanted it prepared. You’re probably unlikely to return for another meal at that same restaurant or recommend it to a friend. But at the end of the meal, if you are given a complimentary drink or dessert, that extra special treatment may change how you feel, and you may be willing to look past small mistakes. Obviously, I am not endorsing mistakes, and am just trying to serve up the power of giving more than your customer bargained for.

Perfectly nailing this third area of the sales process is so important because there’s a ripple effect that starts with your performance. The ripples can either cause revenue growth or lead you to business destruction.

If you think fulfillment isn’t part of the sales process, you’re sadly mistaken. The sale continues way beyond the “yes” and is a fluid, living process for the entire existence of your business. Consider the process neverending if you want to generate consistent revenue and growth.

Lou Imbriano serves as managing partner of the Imbriano Group, a venture firm that provides intellectual capital and revenue building business strategies to organizations of all sizes. He also serves as president and CEO of TrinityOne, a sports marketing consultancy that works with organizations to turn around their marketing efforts and increase profitability. Imbriano was the vice president and chief marketing officer of the New England Patriots and Gillette Stadium for nine seasons and chief operating officer for the New England Revolution for three seasons.

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A friend sent this to me.

After receiving an email of the awe inspiring poem A Soldiers Christmas, written by Michael Marks, an individual felt compelled to create a video montage (using the song “I Believe” by Era) that would complement Mr. Marks words. I hope it touches you as much as it did me.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=sUGOjNsE4aY

Regardless of religion, it should remind all that “Freedom is NOT Free”. We must remember and never forget the past, for it is our guide to the future. We are the United States of America, one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

As we are experiencing challenging times, we must insure that the rule of law and the Constitution are what guides our nation.

As we say Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and Happy New Year to those who serve and protect our freedom, we must insure that they have the support they need to complete their mission.

Please view this and pass it on.

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8 Great Smart Home Ideas by Modernize http://modernize.com/about

It may be the 21st century, but many homeowners are still living in Medieval times when it comes to technology. If you want more out of life than a lantern, here are just eight products that will bring your home into the new age.

1. All-in-one television

Product: Samsung H6350 Smart LED TV
Price: $1,099.99

Say goodbye to tangled cords and bulky add-on devices. With Samsung’s “smart” TV, you’ll be able to manage games, movies, music, apps, web browsing and television channels all on a single screen.

2. Remote entry

August Smart Lock

Product: August Smart Lock
Price: $249.99

August Smart Lock uses keyless technology that allows you to control who enters your home from your smartphone. Let your friends inside without restrictions; let the cleaning crew in for just a few hours. August Smart Lock will even maintain records and timestamps of arrivals and departures.

3. Garden helper

Product: Bitponics Gardening Assistant
Price: $499

Are you tired of drooping daffodils and pitiful petunias? Get the Bitponics Gardening Assistant to monitor everything from air humidity to your garden’s pH level. It can even connect you to a network of other Bitponics users to swap tips and tricks.

4. Intuitive washing machine

Product: LG Smart ThinQ Washer
Price: $1599.99

This high-efficiency, large-capacity washer would be a demon even without its tech-savvy upgrades, but when you add in the fact that Smart ThinQ can actually monitor power consumption in your neighborhood and alert you of the best times to run it, this machine becomes one for the record books.

5. Portable sensors

Product: Twine
Price: $189.95

Twine is a nifty little device that can be placed anywhere in the home to monitor temperature, vibrations, moisture or movement. Even better, its WiFi sensors will send you alerts and warnings when something needs your attention. You should expect nothing less from a first-gen product from the Internet of Things (IoT).

6. Touchscreen refrigerator

The Samsung LCD Refrigerator with apps.

Product: Samsung LCD Fridge with Apps
Price: $2,499

If you’re always forgetting the milk, Samsung has the refrigerator for you. Its 8″ WiFi-enabled touchscreen is built right into the fridge doors, allowing you to create lists, search for recipes or even check the news while your pasta is simmering.

7. Home automation system

Product: INSTEON 2242-222 Hub
Price: $129.99

Control all your major appliances with the swipe of a finger when you install home automation system INSTEON. You’ll be able to adjust thermostats, turn on lights and monitor your motion sensors all from the convenience of your smartphone or tablet.

8. Savvy sockets

The Belkin WeMo.

Product: Belkin WeMo
Price: $49.95

Simple and affordable, switches hooked up with the Belkin WeMo can be controlled through your phone, allowing you to switch things on remotely or save power when not in use. You’ll see results both in your everyday life and on your electric bill.

If you’re ready to join the smart home revolution, these are just eight products that will upgrade and streamline your household processes. From keyless doors to intelligent washing machines, these are the goods that will help you ride the wave of the future.

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Which apps rose to the top of Apple’s charts for 2014?

Which apps rose to the top of Apple's charts for 2014?

Did you edit images on your iPad with Pixelmator this year, or maybe you lost a few hours playing Monument Valley on Apple’s tablet?

How about your iPhone? Did you give your brain a workout with Elevate or did you get sucked into endlessly playing Threes?

If you answered yes to any of those, then you were part of the “in crowd” that embraced Apple‘s picks for top mobile apps and games of the year. Apple released its annual “best-of” ranking today, with those four apps taking best-of show awards.

Here’s a rundown of Apple’s nice list.

iPad

App of the year went to Pixelmator, at $9.99 one of the pricier apps in the App Store and one which Apple described as “an astounding image editor — an incredible showpiece that’s guaranteed to help your photos pop.”

The runner-up was Storehouse, a free app that’s all about storytelling, allowing users to meld photos, videos and text and then share them.

Game of the year went to Monument Valley. This “genre-defining effort wows at every turn,” Apple said of the $3.99 puzzler.

Runner-up here was Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, the first iOS game to come from Blizzard. The game is free, but has in-app purchases.

Best iPad apps

  • New York Times Cooking
  • Microsoft Word
  • VSCO Cam
  • Yahoo News Digest
  • Replay Video Editor
  • Hanx Writer
  • Star Walk Kids
  • 120 Sports
  • Adobe Voice
  • GoldieBlox and the Movie Machine
  • Makr
  • 1Password
  • Joy of Cooking
  • Nighty Night Circus
  • Molecules
  • OmniFocus2
  • Toca Nature
  • Auxy
  • Slice Fractions
  • Flickr
  • Launch Center Pro
  • Yahoo Weather
  • Incredible Numbers
  • Post-it Plus
  • Stephen Hawkings Snapsots of the Universe.
J. “Josh” Jennings Moss has spent time on the police beat in Florida, on the political trail in Washington, D.C., and on the business front in New York. Among the places he’s journalized: Condé Nast Portfolio, FoxNews.com, ABCNews.com, the Advocate, the Washington Times, and the Tampa Tribune. Moss graduated from the University of Arizona and lives in New York City.

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Stillbrave7 Club

  • Every day, childhood cancer kills 7 children in the U.S. alone. That’s 7 children, who have to fight harder and be braver than any child ever should, who lose their battles every single day. They are and forever remain… STILLbrave.​
  • Join The Stillbrave7 Club with a small donation of $7 a month (less than $.23 a day) and start making a difference TODAY!
  • Club members automatically entered into monthly drawing for Renegade Gear and awesome prizes on the 7th of each month!

Volunteer

There are many ways that you can help Stillbrave help families! We have countless volunteer
opportunities available in many different areas.

Our Mission

Stillbrave’s mission is to provide non-medical, supportive care to children with cancer,
and their families in the Washington, DC Metro area.

Donate

Even the smallest donation can make a difference in the lives of children with cancer.

Please read Shayls's story
​
​http://www.stillbrave.org/shayla-s-story.html
 ​​​“Am I still brave Dad?” she whispered softly in my ear.  I placed my hands on her face and looked deep into her eyes; my baby was tired and she had fought so bravely for so long…but she was so very tired… she was still brave alright but as I looked into her eyes I began to realize something: this whole time she hadn’t been staying brave for herself, she had been staying brave for ME!!
​A few days later my daughter Shayla lost her battle with childhood cancer.
She fought hard and she fought bravely.  

​Today I rarely talk about the wind...and I NEVER talk about feathers...but I talk
a great deal about a little girl I once knew,and about the importance of being 
BRAVE. 

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Dennis Cagan, a long time friend and Board member, sent me this regarding Corporate Governance.  A good and must read.

 

This column is part of Globe Careers’ Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab

You know that old saying, “the fish rots from the head”? When it comes to a board of directors, never were truer words spoken

 

An effective board is the last line of defense for shareholders, regulators and other stakeholders. This small but mighty peer group is responsible for overseeing the management of an organization, so if one thing is flawed – if just one director’s behaviour is disruptive or toxic – it can be the difference between performance and non-performance throughout the entire organization. Poor dynamics have that kind of ripple effect, unfortunately.

As an external adviser and specialist in corporate governance and accountability, my work has allowed me to study and evaluate boards, investors and directors across all sectors, including health care.

I’ve never investigated a board failure where flawed dynamics was not a major contributor, which is why I know for a fact that great boards don’t just “happen.” They are carefully and critically designed to be functionally sound. They have to be. A board is just too important an entity to rely on crossed fingers and wishful thinking.

When it comes to toxic behaviours that can bring down a board, I’ve pretty much seen it all. Excessive power, over-reliance on one person, dominant managers, lack of integrity and trustworthiness, confidentiality breaches, lack of transparency and accountability, lack of meeting preparation, undermining board decisions, poor information flow management – these are all warning signs that need to be addressed immediately. But perhaps the biggest red flag is the dysfunctional director and the underperforming director.

I’ve seen dissention amongst the ranks on some of the most iconic boards in Canada. In one instance, there was a director who was so toxic that the board had been consumed by theatrics for nearly a year. When I spoke to the other directors, almost all of them wanted the bullying to stop, but no one had the courage to pull the trigger. Even the chair of the board was too weak to take action. Ultimately, my recommendation was to replace both of them in order to settle things down and get the board back on track.

People are often surprised to hear that the best thing you can do to begin to heal divisions and repair a broken board is to let someone go. But in many cases that’s the only way to start the mending process. It’s not easy to unwind chronic dysfunction on a board – it takes a strong chair or third-party supervision – but getting rid of the root cause is the best way to start. The key is handling the dismissal respectfully and diplomatically.

I once conducted a peer review for the board of an important and highly regulated company. If the board of this particular company makes a mistake, people can die, so it was critical for them to get it right. Every time.

During the review process, I noticed that one director rated another last on almost every single performance dimension. When questioned, the director proceeded to tell me, category by category, why he had rated his peer so poorly – even though others had given that same director exemplary ratings. It eventually became clear that he despised the director he had critiqued so harshly. There was simply no way to repair this enmity, and it had no place on this – or any – board. My recommendation was to remove the hostile director. And that’s exactly what happened.

Board members need to be proactive when they sense there is trouble brewing. The one regret directors repeatedly express is not speaking up and calling out toxic behaviours until it was too late. Letting it fester only makes the situation worse for everyone involved, especially the company.

But of course the best way to create a functional, healthy board is to avoid dysfunction from the start. Nominating committees need to spend more time at the front end recruiting directors, and on the back end retiring them. And they need to do it on the basis of expected and actual performance.

Unfortunately, most competency matrices don’t include behaviour, and all directors have “warts.” Nominating committees must do their due diligence, and that includes a proper competency matrix, the creation of long lists and short lists, interviews, background checks, and making sure to bring on directors who are not friends or known to current directors. A strong and experienced chair at the helm who can appreciate the value of a diverse board and make difficult decisions when necessary is another must-have.

An effective board doesn’t happen by accident. Spend time and effort designing yours by recruiting independent thinkers who can leave their egos at the door, ask the tough questions, give the right advice – and do it all with a smile. Let the notion of, “iron hand in a velvet glove,” be your yardstick as you create your dream team.

Dr. Richard Leblanc (@DrRLeblanc) is an associate professor of law, governance and ethics at York University (@yorkuniversity) and principal of Boardexpert.com Inc.

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