ZoomerOne Refines Internet Surfing

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This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the November 27, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Good Salespeople Should Prosper in a Bad Economy

The word on the street is that this is a terrible time

to be a salesperson. The economy is down. Capital spending is down.

Whole industries (think telecom or IT) are on skids. Pennies —

not to mention dollars — are being held in reserve as a bulwark

against an uncertain future.

All of this is just noise, and totally irrelevant to good salespeople,

according to Kevin Shulman, principal in Iselin-based sales

training company Shulman Turrisi (732-767-5351). In fact, says Shulman,

the negative chatter can actually work in favor of the smart salesperson.

He explains how this is so when he speaks on "Why Salespeople

Fail and What to Do about It" on Tuesday, December 3, at 1 p.m.

at a free seminar sponsored by the Trenton Minority Business Incubation

Initiative. Call 609-393-8898 for more information.

Shulman, who grew up in Millburn and in Short Hills, graduated from

the University of Southern California with a degree in psychology

in 1977. He then obtained an advanced degree in industrial psychology

from Wayne State University and taught for a couple of years. "Then,"

he recounts, "I realized I had two choices in life. I could teach

or I could make a living."

Opting for the latter course, he founded Shulman Steel, a company

that sold steel products, mainly to the automotive and construction

industries. "I had grown up in the steel business," he says

of his choice of industry. His father and mother, Al and Florence

Shulman, had owned a similar company in Newark while he was growing

up, and his father joined him in his company.

After a while, however, Shulman became bored with the steel business

and closed his company down. Casting about for his next career move,

he met Dave Sandler of Sandler Sales. "The sparks flew," he

says. In an instant he saw that his background in psychology, teaching,

business development, an entrepreneurial venture, and sales

could all fit together in a new career in sales training. "I had

found a way to teach and to make a living," he says.

In addition to sales training, his company, which is 10 years old,

is involved in sales force evaluation, client development training,

and private entrepreneurial coaching. Much of his work is with

individuals, professional firms, and small to mid-sized companies.

Advice applicable to all includes:

Let the negative buzz work for you. The more the talk

of a down economy heats up, the more most salespeople retreat. Use

others’ fearfulness to your advantage, Shulman urges. "If you

believe the competition is running scared," he says, "you

will realize there is an opportunity for you."

Put the bad news into perspective. "Bad economy?"

says Shulman skeptically. "For the most part, that problem is

between salespeople’s ears. People who believe it is real are people

who are influenced by it."

But, wait, wait! What about all those reports — sometimes a dozen

in a single day — detailing slowdowns, downsizings, slashed profit

estimates, and bankruptcies? Okay, Shulman admits, everything is not

rosy. Still, he insists, let’s put this into perspective.

"Here’s an example," he says. "Let’s say you know all

the stats show that software buying in New Jersey will be down 20

percent in the next 12 months. In a macro perspective, that means

companies will be buying $800 million rather than $1 billion. But

on a micro level, if you have to sell $2 million or $3 million to

make your $200,000 this year, that means you have to sell one-third

of 1 percent of that instead of one-quarter of 1 percent. The difference

is only slightly larger."

Learn a new way of selling. The salespeople having the

most difficulty, says Shulman, are those who are "stuck in old

ways." He defines "old ways" as allowing prospects to

control the selling situation. Be brave enough to take charge, and

you will be a more efficient salesperson, he says.

Don’t let "No" scare you. In the old sales paradigm,

says Shulman, salespeople did anything they could to avoid hearing

the word "No," despite knowing on some level that the word

conveys information it is vital for them to have.

He tests his hypothesis in his seminars, asking two questions. The

first is: If you could know at any point that the buyer was not going

to buy when would you want to know? The answer he gets 100 percent

of the time is some variable of "yesterday" or "in the

first five minutes."

Then he asks the second question: Knowing that it is so valuable to

have this information, do you do as much as possible to find out as

soon as possible? Here the answer is a universal no.

The result is a drawn-out process through which the salesperson allows

the prospect to enter into a series of stalling maneuvers, until,

says Shulman, "he is eventually lost in voice mail." For as

much as salespeople hate to hear "no," their prospects often

hate to say the word even more. "We’re brought up hearing it is

not polite to say no," explains Shulman. This being the case, a salesperson

not willing to give his prospects clear permission to turn him down

will waste a lot of time in a courtship pre-destined to go nowhere.

In this economy, as in all economies, says Shulman, salespeople need

to forget about macro trends and concentrate on getting customers

to say "yes" or "no." His most important piece of

advice is simply to "take away the maybe."

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ZoomerOne Refines Internet Surfing

You can not let young children on the Internet by themselves.

You must sit down with them," says Wei-hsing Wang, the father

of a second grader and a fourth grader, and the founder of NicheUSA,

a Princeton-based software company that takes the mistakes and danger

out of ‘Net surfing (www.nicheusa.com).

Wang’s three-year old company has begun marketing a family of Internet

searching tools called ZoomerOne. The `One’ is in the name, he explains,

because each search tool in the Zoomer family performs just one type

of search. This contrasts with common search engines such as Google

or Yahoo!, which can be used for any search at any level.

Wang has created a ZoomerOne just for the Princeton Public Library

— and for its users. He talks about how to use his gift on Tuesday,

December 3, at 6:30 p.m. at "Extreme Searching: Tips from Pros

in the Trenches," one of the library’s monthly Tech Talks. Internet

search experts Janie Hermann, Robert Lackie, and Joanne

Mullowney also speak at the free event. Call 609-924-9529.

Wang says his children, knowing he holds three degrees in computer

science, including a Ph.D. from Boston University, often ask him for

help in using the Internet. Doing so efficiently is not so easy for

young children, he says, pointing out that even a slight misspelling

can thwart a search, or far worse, lead a youngster to a violent or

pornographic site. Searching is not a breeze for adults either. For

one thing, there is a whole "hidden Internet," a vast area

into which most search engines do not go.

Often databases and materials within scholarly journals cannot be

accessed through a query in a search engine. Even materials a search

engine finds are returned in the form of URLs, each of which has to

be opened.

Anyone who has spent more than a nanosecond searching knows that many

of the sites brought up on a query for, say, "travel bargains

Great Britain" will be a waste of time. In opening the sites’

home pages to see if the information they offer is on point, surfers

are often met with pop-up ads, which are a minor annoyance at best

and often go beyond annoyance to freeze up the computer. All of this

leads to seriously subpar search results and, says Wang, a huge waste

of time.

ZoomerOne operates differently from other search engines. Feed it

a query and it goes off, looking only at reliable sites, to retrieve

a folder full of information. Most searches take between 30 and 60

seconds, and Wang says the longest he has seen is two minutes.

The ZoomerOne Wang has created for the Princeton Public Library allows

‘Net searches to feed a query to all of the databases the library

makes available to card holders for access from their homes —

or from any other location where they happen to be. These databases

include Alt-Health Watch, Biography Resource Center, Funk & Wagnalls

Encyclopedia, Image Collections, Infotrac Newspapers, D&B Company

Directory, MagillOnLiterature, Literature Resource Center, Fiction

Catalog, Essay Finder, and more.

Before ZoomerOne, library card holders would have to type in a long

string of digits to access each database, and then, says Wang, would

have to worry about the database timing out if they stepped away from

their computer. Searching five databases would require five log-ins.

ZoomerOne, on the other hand, allows users to enter a search query

just once. Given the query, ZoomerOne is off and running. It searches

each and every one of the databases available for home use and presents

a folder containing pertinent information gathered from all of them.

While the ZoomerOne for the Princeton Public Library is suitable for

searches by patrons of all ages, other ZoomerOnes typically are designed

by age group. There is a ZoomerOne for astronomy searches by students

in the third through the sixth grades, for instance. The company also

is conducting a trial run of a ZoomerOne with the University of Pennsylvania’s

biology department.

Wang, who worked for Broadvision and for AT&T Bell Labs before founding

NicheUSA, sees uses for ZoomerOne not only in schools at all levels,

but also in research facilities, at newspapers, and in companies of

all kinds. It could be useful, he says, in company intranets, perhaps

by allowing employees to access data held by different departments.

A ZoomerOne search can rest on a desktop, ready to be called up again

and again for updates on queries a surfer makes often.

The company’s original business plan called for signing up individuals

for ZoomerOne subscriptions, but Wang says the thinking now is that

that approach would be too time-consuming. So the company, which has

four employees, is concentrating on signing up organizations. The

company, says Wang, is on the look-out for partners, investors, and

good employees.

It is now working on a ZoomerOne for Mercer County public schools.

Once in place, it will be one more tool to assure that youngsters

get the most out of an Internet search, and at the same time are safe

from the more pernicious elements of the ‘Net.

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