We are excited to announce that we have partnered with the Mill Valley & San Rafael Chambers of Commerce to introduce a new Seminar Series for Small Business Owners.

A Better Way to Close the Deal - Linda Palermo, Sandler Training - August 3, 2016

Every business needs to continuously gain new clients and customers. Are you tired of spending time following up with people who just don’t get back to you? Would you like to learn how to tell right away if someone is truly interested in what you have to offer? Would you like to learn a system that will help you be more effective, time efficient, and help you close more deals?


 “You can’t teach a kid to ride a bike at a seminar.”

So said Linda Palermo of Sandler Training in San Rafael at the outset of her “A Better Way to Close a Deal” seminar, part of the ongoing The Essentials series from the Mill Valley, San Rafael, Corte Madera and Tiburon chambers of commerce.

Palermo drove home that point right away to set expectations. “You can’t learn to sell overnight – it’s like learning Spanish,” she said.

Every salesperson needs to develop a system, Palermo said. One of the keys to doing so is

to get out from the shadow of “hundreds of years of bad salespeople” and not to fall prey to their cliched, tired strategies that have given salespeople an oft-deserved bad reputation.

“In the world of selling, you have two systems at work,” Palermo said. “The prospect (buyer) system and the seller system." While those two systems in terms of perspective, they share the same problems: misperceptions, mistrust and stigma.

“This is the buyer-seller dance,” Palermo said. “It’s like ballroom dancing – one person, in this case the prospect, controls everything. To change the game, you have to have a system of your own and take control of the sales process.”

One of the key ways to do that is the Sandler System, which calls on salespeople to break the defensive wall built up by prospects by building a rapport, not coming off like a salesperson and putting the person at ease with your words but also with your tonality and body language. She recommended establishing a set of advance ground rules, including the possibility that the salesperson could determine that their product or service wasn’t a good fit for the prospect. That creates an equal business stature between seller and buyer.

“You have something to offer – salespeople shouldn’t beg,” she said. “Have dignity.”

Once that equal footing is established, salespeople should get beyond the surface-level needs of the prospect and focus on a deeper relationship.

“People buy emotionally – they only justify their decisions intellectually,” Palermo said. “Get them talking emotionally instead of intellectually.”

Palermo emphasized that all of the aforementioned work should happen before your sales presentation. “You don’t present to an unqualified customer,” she said. “You should close them before you get to the presentation. The presentation is just a formality about how you are going to make it happen for them.”
Presenter:

Linda Palermo, Sandler Training, has been in sales for over 20 years. She is a trainer and coach with Sandler Training, a leading global training organization. Linda loves to work with professionals, business owners and sales people who are ready to make significant change. She works with them on their self-beliefs, behaviors and technique in order to achieve more business success.

Small Business Seminar Series: Make Your Business Green

In the fourth of our new small business seminar series on March 21, County and city officials showcased myriad sustainability initiatives.

Want to save green by going green, and get applauded for doing so?

That was the pitch from officials from the County of Marin and the City of Mill Valley at a March 21st business seminar on sustainability, the latest in the Biz Essentials Series from the Mill Valley, San Rafael and Tiburon chambers of commerce, at the Acqua Hotel.

County Sustainability Planner Dana Armanino guided attendees through the California Green Business Program, which has recognized nearly 400 businesses in Marin since its launch in 2002. These business have garnered recognition for demonstrating their "continuous compliance with applicable environmental regulations, conserve
energy, water, and other materials, implement sound environmental practices that prevent pollution and waste generation, and share environmentally responsible practices with other businesses in our community."

The Green Business Program launched in Alameda and Contra Costa counties in 1996 with a specific focus on improving the waste reduction among the printing and auto repair businesses in those counties, and later expanded to all industries, including home-based businesses.

To garner certification, business owners must complete an application that contains 53 measures, some of which are required, including the use of energy efficient lighting and recycled paper. The online checklist lives here.

“For each industry, the program is skewed toward the opportunities and challenges of that industry,” Armanino said – for instance, “greening” amenities and laundry services for hotels, and kitchen and dishwashing processes at restaurants. “It allows you to pick measures that are appropriate and achievable for you.”

Just as importantly as the recognition gained from green business certification, businesses can gain access to money-saving opportunities to upgrade their buildings to be more energy-efficient, including cash rebates to help defray the cost of installing energy-efficient lighting, refrigeration products and HVAC measures.

The SmartLights program, for instance, is administered locally through the County, PG&E and MCE Clean Energy, providing business owners no-obligation, no-cost assessments of their lighting infrastructure, with approved contractors on hand to do the work if you want. Most importantly, rebates are available, and SmartLights “pays the rebate directly to the contractor so you don’t have to pay for it first and wait for the rebate,” she said, noting that most of the projects pay for themselves in less than three years.

There are also water conservation resources, transportation resources, waste reduction resources and renewable energy resources (see below for links).

City of Mill Valley Senior Planner Danielle Staude noted that the City and County have set aggressive waste reduction goals of between 15-25 percent by 2025 under the Zero Waste Marin banner. Mill Valley has targeted 15 percent reduction by 2020, and had achieved a 4 percent gain by 2010, primarily through energy efficiency and use of hybrid cars.

The City is also part of the Marin Climate and Energy Partnership, which is tracking a wide range of sustainability efforts, including energy, transportation, waste and water.

“Jurisdictions are really working together to coordinate and address similar approaches to reducing emissions,” she said. “Transportation is the key – it’s over half of our emissions in Mill Valley. We need to be very conscious of our vehicle use.”

Staude said the City’s Miller Avenue Streetscape Project, which promises to make the roadway much friendlier for bicyclists and pedestrians and hopefully reduce car trips in town. Staude also walked business owners through the City’s plastic bag ban and the continued reaction to it, including the sale of thicker plastic bags instead of paper bags at some stores. ​

Here are sustainability resources available to your business:

Marin Energy Watch Partnership
MCE Clean Energy
Marin County Green Building
SmartLights
Food Service Technology Center
PG&E Rebates
Marin Solar Program
Go Solar California
PG&E Net Metering Resources

Marin Municipal Water District
WalkBikeMarin
Transportation Authority of Marin
Zero Waste Marin
Marin Green Business Program
City of Mill Valley - Sustainability Initiatives
City Plastic Bag Ban
Marin Climate and Energy Partnership
​Marin Sustainability Tracker

Article reproduced with the kind permission of Jim Welte and the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce.

In the third of the series, Eckhoff and Company provided a comprehensive & illuminating review of strategies for tax reduction:

Biz Essentials Seminar Dives Into 'Strategies for Tax Reduction'

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"Dear IRS, I am writing to you to cancel my subscription. Please remove my name from your mailing list" –Charles M. Schulz (Snoopy)

“That’s one tax reduction strategy – but not one that we would recommend,” said Michele Hassid, Managing Partner at Eckhoff and Company, at the outset of “Strategies for Tax Reduction” on January 25, the latest in the Biz Essentials Series from the Mill Valley, San Rafael and Tiburon chambers of commerce.

What Hassid and her colleagues Janina Thomas and Ron Moss did recommend was to get help from the experts, and come up with a long-term plan.

“Tax law isn’t getting any easier to understand,” she said. “What an expert can do for you is to analyze your data, help you get good accounting systems in place and help you to implement a strategy.”

Michele Hassid, Ron Moss and Janina Thomas from Eckhoff and Company.                                                                                                                                                                                                        Photo by Carolyn Kohler.

Thomas guided the more than a dozen attendees at the seminar, set in the Acqua Hotel, through a summary of the Internal Revenue Service’s tangible property regulations, which went into effect in late 2013 and clarified longstanding and oft-conflicting case law around whether expenses related to buying property – that is, anything from computers and equipment to buildings and land – should be deductible business expenses or non-deductible capital expenses.

The updated regulations allow business owners to expense any “unit of property” – for instance, by definition all of the components of a computer are one unit, and each of the systems (electrical, plumbing, etc.) of a building are part of that building – valued at less than $500, while everything $500 and above would be a capitalized expense.

Each unit of property must pass so-called “BAR,” or Betterment Adaptation Restoration tests, which require that the unit of property not do any of the following:

  • Fix “a material condition or defect that either existed prior to placing the unit of property into service
  • ​Improve a unit of property to a new or different use
  • Restore a unit of property to like-new condition after it has deteriorated to a state of disrepair at which it is no longer functional.
As an example, Thomas cited a remodel of a business office or retail space. “If you’re just refreshing the way things look and not making any change to making that building stronger or giving it higher productivity – you get to expense it now,” she said. “But you must be consistent in your policy.”

Managing your taxes around equipment upgrades is essentially flipping a coin between having less taxable income and thus less tax today versus having more taxable income and more tax tomorrow, Thomas said.

“It’s given us many opportunities for planning but we want to be careful that taking it all up front isn’t always the best answer,” Thomas said.

The overarching key, she emphasized, is that every business must establish a policy, and must remain consistent to that policy in terms of how they handle units of property.

Moss then walked business owners through a variety of common mistakes made by small business owners, including being too aggressive and/or not detailed enough in accounting for meal and entertainment expenses that they’re seeking to write off – “be ready to show who you met with and what you talked about,” he said – and not structuring themselves correctly from the outset in terms of being an LLC, a sole proprietorship or as a corporation.​ Picture

Moss also emphasized the fluid nature of tax regulations in an election year, noting the varied proposals from the likes of Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders. “A lot could change,” said.

“Hopefully no one here still thinks they can do all this without a CPA,” Hassid said.

More info on Eckoff and Company.




This article reproduced with the kind permission of Jim Welte and the Mill Valley Chamber of Commerce.

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