Corrections or additions?
These articles by Kathleen McGinn Spring and Bart Jackson were
prepared for the March 19, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All
For Jobseekers: Telemarketing 101 — Amanda Puppo
<d>Amanda Puppo’s answering machine message ends
with a cheery "Have a great day!" She ends live phone
with the same sentiment. She sounds confident and businesslike, but
also warm. It’s a winning combination. Now if only she could bottle
the tone and the easy assurance for the audience to whom she is
Puppo, founder of Cranbury-based MarketEntry, addresses a meeting
of Jobseekers, the support and networking group for job hunters, on
Tuesday, March 25, at 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Church on Mercer Street.
There is no charge. For information call 609-924-2277.
Her topic is "Telemarketing for Job Seekers." The very thought
of same is enough to send all but the hardiest straight to bed. Maybe
with a drink. Many consultants who give this sort of talk inspire
dark thoughts of "Yeah, if it’s so easy, why don’t you just pick
up a phone and try it?"
In this case, the speaker not only has tried telemarketing, which
she much prefers to call "telephone marketing," but also
on it to provide her with food and shelter. Puppo’s business is built
on securing sales appointments for others. She is on the phone all
day, every business day, persuading people she doesn’t know to give
their time and attention to a sales pitch. Not only is she good at
it, but, amazingly, she appears to enjoy it.
This sets her apart, and she knows it. "Most people are not good
at selling themselves," she says. "If you’re an IT director,
you’re as far from sales as possible." Still, the task is
Few employers are going door to door looking for a few good employees.
That being that case, Puppo advises, "you have to get over your
ego. You have to realize there’s going to be rejection. Don’t take
Easy for her to say, one might think. The woman is outgoing without
being at all abrasive. She is upbeat. Calling her "bubbly"
would not stretch the truth. Yet, Puppo confides, "the funny thing
is, I was shy growing up." She changed, and says there is no
why others can’t too. Here is her advice for job seekers who see the
cold call as the equivalent of a nice dip in a glacial lake patrolled
by polar bears.
calls. "Call your relatives and your friends," she gives as
a kick-off strategy. There are any number of stories about the nephew
whose girlfriend’s stepfather plays golf with the brother of the
of development at Major Pharma. Giving a nephew a ring generally is
a lot easier than cold calling Major Pharma.
a woman with countless cousins, could conceivably run out of relatives
to call. Job seekers, working at casting their nets as far as
will run out of relatives and friends too. The next best group is
made up of acquaintances. Call old acquaintances, and make new
Don’t spend the whole day on Internet job boards. Get out and go to
a Chamber meeting, play golf, volunteer at the kids’ school fair.
Develop relationships, and placing calls will be much easier.
start on the cold calls. Before doing so, however, perfect a 30-second
introduction that sums up the reasons that you — and you alone
— are the answer to the decision maker’s dreams. "It’s all
about creating interest," says Puppo.
says Puppo. Find the name of someone in the department in which you
would like to work. Call and ask if he could spare a few minutes to
tell you about the company. Then ask if he could suggest a good
within the company, a decision maker in his department or in
a person with whom you might be able to talk further about the
screening applicants for the job you want is likely to be sitting
with a pile of 400 resumes — maybe even 4,000. Chances of rising
to the top of the pile are not good. Up your odds, Puppo says, by
placing a brief call. Be friendly. Be conversational. If you think
it is amazing what a perfect match you are for this job, don’t
to say so, giving a quick reason why this is the case.
Chances are there are more than a few where the president is working
100 hours a week or where vital tasks, perhaps marketing or strategic
planning, are falling through the cracks. Contact the president and
let him know why you are just the person to cut his workload while
raising his bottom line.
"The president does all the work, and then you come along. He’ll
talk to you. Who wouldn’t?" declares Puppo. Creating a job for
yourself can work. Thoroughly researching the company gives you the
confidence to offer yourself as a godsend to the overworked owner.
"but not annoying. Don’t be voicemail crazy. Don’t leave 900
As someone who makes her living through telephone marketing, she
the importance of walking that line. Trust to fate that your resume
will work its way up the pile, and you risk being turned down for
a job that is perfect for you. Call too often to check on your resume
and the hiring agent may use it to blot up his coffee spills.
p.m., her lunch break is over, and she must get back to the phones.
Yes, she has been cold calling all morning, and she is going back
for another few hours. Just before she hangs up, she says "Have
a great day!"
After 40 years of traditional Irish music, the
saw the need to reinvent their act. Perhaps a little touch of
folk, country, even the occasional blues song might help maintain
the wild success of the act. They decided to reach out to Nashville,
home of a host of varied folk artists and huge record companies. But
even for this popular, well leveraged group, how to network with whom
became a major problem.
The fine art of how to "Connect Right to Compound Your
is the topic on Tuesday, March 25, at 8 a.m. at the Panera
Nassau Park location. Cost: $20. Call 609-989-5232. Sponsored by the
Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the College of New Jersey,
the event is part of a CEO Toolbox series. It features
a business consultant who has worked with small businesses for nearly
The SBDC is best known for mentoring start-ups and for providing a
host of programs for them, but its CEO Toolbox series has been
specifically to provide refresher skills for existing firms at all
levels of growth on such topics as sales, marketing, and leadership.
Several area chambers, including the Mercer Chamber, are
Raised in Edison, Romeo took his professional training at Westminster
Choir College, gaining a degree in music education. He taught high
school music for two years, got downsized, and went into sales for
Hale Piano & Organ in the Woodbridge Mall. He watched, learned, and
began to develop his theory of business. "Product knowledge is
bunk," he remarks. "The key is to solve a customer’s
By l984, Romeo was ready to launch out on his own as a sales
Problem: No experience, and no referrals. The Romeo solution: Let
the work speak for itself. Romeo approached two nurses in Peddlers
Village, Pennsylvania. They had just opened a store, In Nature’s Way.
"They had the most marvelous merchandise," he recalls,
out in the most unmerchandisable way." Totally uninterested in
his promises and put off by his lack of credentials, the two owners
suggested politely that Romeo move on. He responded with an offer
to work for one week, for no pay in exchange for a letter of reference
if they liked the result. After one week, sales boomed, he trousered
the letter, and launched Rocky Romeo LLC, a sales consulting firm.
"How long does it take to become a good surgeon?" Romeo asks
audiences. His point is that just because you’ve been wielding a steak
knife for years, you are not necessarily qualified to remove an
"How long does it take to become a good networker?" is his
next question. Similarly, your ability to chat with business cohorts
does not automatically translate into skill in networking. Both
and networking are learned skills. There are steps to attaining
in either. For networking, the steps include:
you’ve got to go to an ant hill. This obvious step demands a little
research. Where do ants — or publishers, or accountants, or
managers — gather? Get their trade magazines. Find out when they
are holding trade shows, meetings, or seminars.
The trick here is to not only find where they are, but where they
will be most receptive to you. Scores of advertised book fairs invite
authors to flog their wares to various publishers. However, publishers
also attend library conventions, where they are the sellers, reaching
out to passers-by from their own booths. If you were an author,
to find a publisher with her defenses down, a ticket to the library
convention might be just the thing.
If you are seeking small business owners, a meeting like this CEO
Toolbox series, might be a good place to look. Of what chamber of
commerce is your target a member? Churches, charities, and social
gatherings also work, particularly when you seek one individual, but
you have to be a bit careful here. Most folks stiffen at the intrusion
of business opportunists into their recreational time. In this
aim merely to make a personal connection, with all business conducted
after a relationship has been well established.
all their lives in a basement producing brilliant products, and who
admit they just cannot go out and meet people," says Romeo.
For those who compare networking unfavorably with a trip to the
Romeo offers you two choices: You can watch the process and learn
some techniques, or you can hire someone to do it for you. One
of employing a representative is that most Americans prefer to deal
with the top player. Generally, we want to brush aside the mouthpiece.
On the other hand, a practiced professional probably presents a much
more effective image than you do. Take your choice.
nice chatting with you about our mutual interest. Here’s my card.
You can call me anytime. We really should get together." Right
there, insists Romeo, lies the biggest blunder in networking. The
goal of the first meeting is future meetings. You are trying to
a business relationship here. In the above scenario, our speaker
even walk away with a means of re-contacting Schmidlapp. And even
if he did, he would probably call later and find Schmidlapp engrossed
in other projects, barely remembering his name. "Always set up
a specific date for your next meeting or phone call," advises
skill. You are not born with it, nor are you going to learn it in
three days. "If you don’t practice and you wing it every time,
you’ll get only wing-it results," Romeo states. One practice
is to gather fellow employees and have them listen and help sharpen
a dialogue script. Such training can be done for even the most casual
The trick here is that you must always be able to break out of your
prepared phrases and go with the flow. Romeo recalls, "I once
had a fellow who announced in the middle of our conversation, `Gee
Rocky, you sound as if you are reading from a script.’" He had
been caught. No one wants to feel themselves the victim of a canned
speech which is probably used on everybody else. But Romeo’s answer
shows the necessity of the quick shift: "You’re right Jim and
I do apologize. So what is it going to take for me to get to know
you better?" Instantly, Romeo has put the ball in the other court
and re-established an open conversation.
meetings dangle polite, not-overly-sincere carrots in front of
acquaintances. "Gee Rocky, that sounds interesting, we could
use a man like you at our plant." In response, you can labor hard
to insinuate yourself into this individual’s firm, or you can reply
with a non-committal "Oh, I bet you have sales trainers back at
your plant who are every bit as good as I am." At this point,
you are allowing him to either set the hook or let it go. If he
earnestly that he truly would like to have you drop by — you’ve
got a potential deal. But if he just laughs and admires your
let him swim away.
not canned tech props. Romeo advises against the use of PowerPoint.
When you bustle into a client’s office clutching pie charts and
ready to preach and read from a slideshow, the odds are excellent
that you will frighten or numb-out your prey. This goes back to the
Romeo credo that teaching product knowledge is a back-burner
"Your goal here is to convince a man with a flat tire that you’ve
got a wheel that can get him back on the road," he offers as an
analogy. "Not that it’s a double-steel-belted Michelin designed
to last him a lifetime."
someone who knows someone else. So, everyone can, at least eventually,
lead you to that big player you seek. Romeo suggests keeping a
of all your contacts and keeping in continual touch. You might call
on each in turn for no other reason than pass along a tip or a piece
of industry gossip. Small newsletters can also be helpful. Offering
a little free labor is another potentially productive tack. Scores
of organizations are always trying to find free speakers. Talking
about your own business not only should be relatively easy, but it
will set you before potential clients. "After all," quips
Romeo, "I began working for free in Pennsylvania and it has
me across the river into the land where the big boys play — and
— Bart Jackson
Did ya hear? The old man’s selling the business,"
announces some water cooler clarion. "Yeah," responds the
rumor mill, "Doc gave him about six months. Can you imagine his
wife, that gym teacher, running this place?" Thus starts the
Every employee madly launches updated resumes through cyberspace in
hopes of swiftly abandoning the sinking ship. By the time of transfer,
the old man’s lifelong enterprise sells for 20 cents on the dollar.
Business succession need not be this horrific. There are ways to
the transition. Stark & Stark presents "Financial Planning and
Life Transition Situations" on Wednesday, March 26, at 6:30 p.m.
at the Trenton Country Club. Free by reservation. Call 609-219-7413.
This broad-coverage workshop features three Stark & Stark attorneys:
estates and elder law; and
specialist. In addition, financial experts
to discuss specific asset protection programs. This seminar is
to help all owners who want their firms to continue profitably after
they leave the helm.
Each speaker urges all business owners to consider the importance
of preparation. "Despite your current omnipotence," notes
Friedman, "you have very little control over your firm from the
grave." Bronx-born Friedman graduated from Rider University with
a major in accounting, to which he added a law degree from Western
New England College. Since joining Stark & Stark in l989 he has helped
scores of families, with all degrees of readiness, to keep the firm
profitable when its owner passes.
Silk, his partner, puts the task succinctly, "you have to ask
yourself simply, `What will happen when I’m not here?’ and then work
out a plan." Silk, a native of Pittsburgh, and still a staunch
Steelers fan, earned an accounting degree from Penn State, and then
a law degree from Villanova, and a tax law master’s at New York
In his 27 years with Stark & Stark, he has noted that, though the
considerations of succession are several, if handled methodically
and with forethought, owners can ensure a undisruptive transfer.
deathbed with all his generals clustered around awaiting the whispered
name of his successor. He died without appointing anyone, and his
empire disintegrated into warring factions. Had our conqueror listened
to Silk and Friedman, he would have selected and named a potential
heir years before his death, begun training him, and slowly made his
choice public in order to answer all the possible objections that
Typically, the choice of successor comes down to an evaluation of
high potential members of your firm and your heirs. "No matter
whom you select," says Silk, "make sure you mean it. Test
this person with increased responsibility and let him grow into the
Where an obvious successor, such as a younger partner, spouse, child,
or trusted senior executive, does not fit the bill, the owner may
want to select an advisory board. This unofficial board can aid the
owner while he is still running the firm, and then be empowered to
select the best CEO when he steps down.
against a mass employee exodus in the case of a void at the top. Your
employees are your firm’s most valuable and volatile asset. If they
feel that your absence will leave an emotional void, but not a fiscal
chasm, they are much more likely to stay and to increase the value
of the business.
A good succession plan should include a transition team, empowered
to vote in the new leadership. Shareholders’ agreements typically
can be easily worked out in advance, yet if postponed until the fact,
they can fill investors with trepidation and resistance. Life
tax liabilities, estate and asset shifts should be addressed. Equally
important to designing the plan is sharing it. Everyone from the rank
and file to the largest stockholder must know that you have a defined
plan in place. Yet exactly how much of the specifics you release
on the amount of friction you expect to engender.
crown of your firm to another head, as long as his hands are holding
a purse heavy enough to pay for it. In the case of death, Friedman
suggests, the prospective new owners can pre-plan by taking out life
insurance on the current owner, which will give them the needed liquid
funds for the buy out. Other such bootstrap purchases can be arranged
through buy-sell agreements. But Silk warns that agreements often
entail a long payment plan, which can squeeze the cash flow to both
to the heirs and the business.
If the firm is being sold to a an outside party, an insurance hedge
may become necessary. The loss of the owner automatically makes the
dollar value of the business dip. Debts accrue and liquid assets are
required. A very few businesses, perhaps a jewelry store or a
with several salable franchises, may have the quick-sale inventory
to meet the terms of the will and demands of the new sale — but
most businesses don’t.
pass to a surviving spouse with no tax penalty. But only to the
Children, other heirs, or partners all get hit with a whopping tax
liability. Friedman suggests two ways to minimize this loss. First,
you can reduce your business’ tax bill by beginning to transfer pieces
of its value during the owner’s lifetime. Thus, at death, the
shows less book value and takes less tax.
The second tax planning method is to take out a simple life insurance
policy on the owner. The premiums become, in effect, an escrow account
available for the upcoming transfer tax bill. The benefit of an
plan, rather than a separate investment fund, is cost versus odds.
It is nearly impossible to estimate the company’s future value and
the future tax law at an unknown date. With an insurance policy, you
can count on a payment, based on premiums you can afford today.
full payment arrives immediately upon death of the owner — as
does the tax bill. Without such a tax plan in place, the new owners
may find themselves taking out an equity-based loan that restricts
cash flow just when the company is shifting through the trying
the dominant family asset upon death of the owner. In this age of
the blended family, surviving spouses and intertwined step-children
all come in for a chunk of this not-very-liquid asset. They key to
a smooth transition, Silk insists, is previous and ongoing
"Traditionally, most Americans perpetuate a code of silence about
business matters," he says, "and this invariably leads to
disaster." Long before the parents get older and in need of help,
it is wise to bring in the children and explain your personal and
business finances to them. Even if they are not going to take over
the business, they will play vital roles in the transfer. "And
for god’s sakes," laughs Silk, "find your safe deposit key
and show them where it is kept."
Avoid asset competition, warns Friedman. One partner seeks income
from certain profits; the other sees reinvestment and growth as the
goal. Putting these two in charge of the same fund, or making them
beneficiaries of the same trust, is a recipe for endless friction.
Too often Friedman has witnessed the classic blunder of a trust willed
to the wife of a second marriage, and, upon her death, reverting to
the children of the first wife. "Imagine how the children will
howl when the wife asks the trustees for cash to buy her new
Faced with the current economic slump and no clear hope on the
business transfers nationwide are slowing down. The fever to quickly
launch a start-up and sell it off to the highest bidder has been iced.
No one’s investing, no one’s buying. Those who own a functioning
if it is at all profitable, are hanging on. Odds are, their employees,
witnessing their 401Ks dwindle, and keeping an eye on government that
sees Social Security as a potential war chest, are planning to labor
on into their 70s. But every company, like its owner, has a life span.
The individual who founded it will someday, for whatever reason, pass
the torch to new hands. With a little foresight, it can pass smoothly
and shine profitably.
— Bart Jackson
<d>Panera of Nassau Park hosted volunteers from the
YMCA’s Crafters Marketplace, treating them to coffee and pastries.
Panera also helped Crafters’ Marketplace raise nearly $64,000 by
its products at the event and donating all profits.
Proceeds from the event benefit the Bates Scholarship Fund, which
subsidizes course fees so that economically disadvantaged community
members can participate in YWCA programs.
are offering free financial planning to the spouses of New Jersey
military personnel who have been assigned to active duty. The help
comes from the society’s New Jersey CPA Help Center, which is staffed
by volunteers prepared to offer assistance with budgeting, developing
a long-term savings strategy, tax filing, and other financial issues.
With the military on call, New Jersey’s small business
owners should plan ahead for the loss of one or more key employees
to military reserve activation. In an effort to lessen the economic
impact such an activation can cause, the U.S. Small Business
is continuing to offer affected businesses the opportunity to apply
for Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loans.
The loans are low-interest, long-term operating loans intended to
provide otherwise viable businesses with relief until essential
return from active military status. They provide funds to small
to assist with meeting ordinary and necessary operating expenses and
debt payments that were being met prior to the loss of the key
The loans can be used for long-term debt refinancing or capital
Reservists loans are offered at a maximum interest rate of 4 percent
for a term of up to 30 years. The SBA determines the actual term of
each loan, based on the borrowers’ ability to repay.
Loans are offered for up to $1.5 million, with each loan amount being
based on the actual economic injury to the business due to the loss
of an employee. Potential borrowers must have a good credit history,
no unsatisfied liens to the federal government, and an ability to
show that they can not survive economically without government
For further information, call 800-659-2955.
The Community Loan Fund of New Jersey is getting an
infusion of capital from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority
(NJEDA) to finance commercial projects in underserved communities.
The EDA made a 10-year loan of $500,000 to the Community Loan Fund
through its Fund for Community Economic Development at an initial
interest rate of 3 percent. Established in 1987, the Community Loan
Fund is a nonprofit agency that provides technical assistance and
capital for investment in housing and commercial development to
neighborhoods and build economic self-sufficiency for low-income
The Trenton-based Community Loan Fund typically provides monies for
affordable housing, child care facilities, cultural centers, health
care clinics, and small businesses. It has made 345 loans totally
$54 million since 1987.
The Community Loan Fund lends money to organizations that are either
unable to obtain financing from conventional lending sources or are
otherwise unable to provide sufficient capital for a project that
is needed in the community. For more information about the fund or
other EDA programs, call 609-292-1800 or visit www.njeda.com
<d>PSE&G is honoring the 100th anniversary of the
PSE&G Foundation by making two $100,000 Century of Caring grants and
funding and building a Habitat for Humanity house in Newark.
The two $100,000 grants will be awarded via a Request for Proposal
process to nonprofit organizations in the PSE&G service area. One
will be awarded in the area of children and families and one will
be awarded in the area of community and economic development. For
details visit www.pseg.com/caring.
Corrections or additions?
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