Selling As Passion

CPAs Size Up Technology Trends

One Big Phone Book On Your Hard Drive

Corporate Angels

Grants Awarded

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Bart Jackson and Kathleen McGinn Spring were

prepared for the May 21, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights

reserved.

HR Professionals Can’t Be Too Careful

Hallmark of our new millennium: we are more touchy and

less feely — and we have the laws to back it up. After the job

interview is over and the human resource interviewer walks the

candidate

to the door, she casually asks what the candidate is doing for the

Easter holiday. Whoops! "Lawsuit, lawsuit," screeches the

equal-employment-alert siren. This human resource professional could

be accused of furtively trying to ferret out religious information

about a prospective employee. In theory, the candidate could file

a discrimination suit against both the interviewer and her company.

Such are the rules of the human resource game. And whether you judge

them as appropriate or overboard, all employers must be aware of them.

A road map for navigating without mishap is presented at a day-long

seminar, "How to Avoid Costly Legal Problems for Human Resource

Professionals," on Thursday, May 22, at 9 a.m. at the Mercer

Conference

Center Cost: $119. Call 609-586-9446. The event features Frank

Crivelli, partner in Hamilton -based law firm Kalavruzos, Mumola,

Hartman & Crivelli. From pre-hiring strategies, right through

termination

policies, Crivelli addresses the full scope of employee issues.

"I always say a human resource program is akin to a car: every

once in a while you’ve got to change the oil and overhaul the system

to make it efficient," says Crivelli. For the past decade, he

has performed such overhauls in some of the nation’s toughest arenas.

As captain and a judge advocate in the U.S. Marine Corps, he helped

shape the Navy and Department of Defense’s sexual harassment policies.

As a major in the Marine reserve he is still called upon to

investigate

serious harassment cases. Crivelli also serves as mock trial coach

for the West Windsor-Plainsboro high schools.

Policy and paper are the employer’s best sword and shield against

personnel problems, according to Crivelli. Workplace laws are

exhaustive.

Therefore, policies and recording methods in dealing with them must

be equally thorough. Grievances will happen, but with a little

forethought,

they need not lead to the legal tar pits.

Cast a wide net. Most employers view the wide-net approach

to hiring as strictly geographical. But a national search will not

necessarily free you from discrimination claims; nor will placing

ads in all appropriate professional journals. "Wide range

hiring,"

notes Crivelli, "must reach across ethnic, gender, and age

boundaries

as well." If, for example, over 90 percent of the readership of

a particular electronic engineering journal are white males,

advertising

an engineer’s position solely in this journal could be construed as

narrowing hiring efforts to exclude women and minorities. The goal

of current law is to force a little outreach on the part of employers.

Sometimes it is not possible to hire a qualified woman or member of

a minority group for a particular job title, but an employer who can

show that he has sent recruiters to predominantly female or minority

colleges and has placed ads in Spanish-language newspapers, has gone

a long way toward demonstrating a good faith effort.

Paper trail. "Full documentation does not end with

checking the resume," says Crivelli. At some point, nearly every

employee will have a grievance, be up for promotion, or face possible

termination. If the employee has been notified three times in his

periodic work review or in separate citings of some particular job

failing, it makes the employer’s actions appear more legitimate —

not only in the law’s eyes, but in the view of other employees as

well. Swearing that you have verbally cited this employee "time

and again" is not enough. Record each reprimand.

Likewise, make sure to document praise. Promoting a worker whose file

is stuffed with written commendations provides some protection against

claims that equally qualified candidates were passed over, perhaps

because of age, gender, or ethnicity.

Annual HR audit. Exactly how far can you delve into a

disabled candidate’s limitations before crossing over the line from

justified job fitness inquiry into discrimination? The law is very

specific, but do your interviewers know it, and more importantly,

do they apply it? An annual legal audit of all human resource

practices

is one of the best tools for keeping companies out of the courtroom.

Outside shop doors. Legal vulnerability, unfortunately,

does not halt at the threshold of your office. Clients and vendors

come under a less stringent, but enforceable, set of guidelines.

Generally,

the law assumes that a client has the option either to endure

objectionable

behavior or simply to shop elsewhere. Thus harassing and offensive

language seldom becomes a legal issue. However, a firm’s entire

process

of awarding business and rejecting bids must be as clearly

anti-discriminatory

as its hiring practices. Here again, a little ostensible outreach

is called for.

Deep pockets. "Most companies are woefully

underinsured

in breadth, if not depth," claims Jarjour. Companies make sure

to purchase basic fire, theft, loss, property, and general liability

insurance. But they forget to cover blunders. Jarjour says every firm

should hold a substantial Errors and Omissions policy as a sort of

corporate malpractice insurance. Well designed, such policies can

cover negligent hiring practices, employment contract disputes, and

even certain aspects of harassment.

Yet in the end, no matter how many layers of prevention you stack

up, legal claims can seep through. Every business needs to have both

an official and an unofficial settlement plan. Many claims, if

initially

turned over to a pre-established employees’ court, can be taken care

of at a fraction of the cost of bringing them before more costly

forums.

If, however, the claimant seeks more official redress, you, as

employer

should already have in place a line of mediation, arbitration, and

litigation fallbacks. The choice of venue will depend largely on your

case. Mediators generally aim to strike a compromise and keep the

employer/employee relationship functioning. Arbitration, while

typically

cheaper than a courtroom, is less likely to send the parties away

with a clear cut win/loss decision.

While paper trails along with carefully-drafted policies help to turn

away legal bullets from disgruntled employees, the best bet remains

keeping them happy in the first place. If you hire with the sole goal

of seeking only the optimum workforce and strive to maintain a well

informed, happy staff, it will be recognized. The lone employee

protesting

his treatment in such an atmosphere will not find support and is less

likely to pursue or win a legal victory.

— Bart Jackson

Top Of Page
Selling As Passion

Today: More home foreclosures than any time in American

history; the second largest trade deficit; gyrating oil prices; and

high unemployment at home and in Europe and Japan. Globally, business

is a disaster. Ah, but locally, this is spring. Real estate, clothing,

travel, and a host of other markets bloom with promise. The money

is out there, but the spending is very selective. Thus the mantle

of profit or loss, in these odd times more than ever, falls on the

shoulders of the sales force.

Yet, unlike weight lifting, sales power does not improve with daily

repetition alone. Enhancement demands the kind of study delivered

in the seminar "Recharging Your Sales Tactics" taking place

on Tuesday, May 27, at 8 a.m. at Panera at Nassau Park. Cost: $20,

breakfast included. Call 609-989-5232.

Sponsored by the Small Business Development Center of the College

of New Jersey, this workshop features Michael Sleppin, founder

of Cranford-based Paradigm Associates (www.paradigm-assoc.nj.com).

The techniques discussed are designed to benefit not only the

full-time

sales professional, but also the occasional program presenter. After

all, all business entails selling.

Stepping back from the podium, Sleppin walks down among his audience

and asks individuals why they are there. What’s more, he listens.

"I’m not here to come from the mountain and deliver the Sleppin

Rules of Selling," he laughs. "I come to each seminar trying

to help the people with their needs." And in so doing, the speaker

provides his prime directive to salespeople.

Sleppin was raised in New York City, graduated from Gettysburg

College,

and went straight into the army. Following his stint in the service,

Sleppin spent three decades in Chicago, on the sales force of two

major high tech firms. Too energetic to retire, Sleppin moved east

and for the past 14 years has run Paradigm Associates where, as he

puts it, he "facilitates deals for the firm’s 60 clients."

The silver-tongued salesperson who can indeed sell the occasional

ice box to the occasional Eskimo does exist, grants Sleppin. But in

the long run, he says, this seller is not going to be your top

performer.

Sales are not won by pushing product alone, however cleverly.

Sleppin’s

whole focus is to re-focus the entire process around the customer

in what he calls "consultive selling."

Find out where it hurts. Sleppin sees the seller’s major

role as that of a diagnostician. The customer, even the casual

browser,

is someone who doesn’t feel well — or at least wants to feel

better.

It is the seller’s job to find out where it hurts and to bring both

the pain and the solution to light. This approach transforms the

salesperson

from a product pusher to a sympathetic problem solver. On a first

visit, you may end up giving out nothing more than free information.

You might even steer the prospect to a competitor. But you are laying

the cornerstone for a long term customer relationship.

Get passionate. Two kinds of sales professionals are most

apt to succeed. The first is the salesperson who has just fallen in

love with his product. He is the skier who adores skiing and makes

it obvious that this job is just a way of financing his addiction.

Further, it becomes abundantly clear to every customer within earshot

that he wouldn’t dream of hitting the slopes with any other kind of

ski than the one he is waving before you. You’d have to be crazy to

set foot on snow with anything else. Seen in the glow of his

excitement

and expertise, the product gleams seductively.

The second, albeit more subtle, sales champion, is that individual

who just loves selling. He loves listening to you, hearing your needs,

talking about his product. He seems never to have met a person or

a tool he didn’t like. You don’t care that he has never ridden a

chairlift.

You like him. You like the idea he’s planted of getting together with

the kids on the bunny slope. Together, you and he trace your fingers

along the ski’s finely engineered edge. Nothing is so contagious as

his enthusiasm.

Beyond their success, the only trait these two sellers have in common

is their passion. "Every good salesperson must have an enormous

ego drive," says Sleppin.

Make trust your product. Every salesperson must sell

himself

before he can move a single widget. The customer must be confident

that

he is dealing with a trustworthy individual. "But trustworthiness

is like being tall or being happy," notes Sleppin. "If you

are, everybody will see it. If you’re not, you can’t convince anybody

that you are."

Clone your stars. When a sales novice joins the force,

Sleppin insists that he should be placed under the wing of the very

top performers. While this may not be exactly an earthshaking

managerial

technique, it remains surprisingly rare. Too often, recruits are

tutored

by some aging sales veteran who is not too busy to give a little

coaching.

Unfortunately, the reason he is not too busy to teach the newcomer

the ropes is that he has a small client list. "Always clone your

stars," says Sleppin. "You want to reproduce the best in your

company."

Successful selling — like leadership, or management — is a

process that involves a great deal of chemistry. Some have the gift,

others always struggle. But like every skill, there are techniques

and practiced approaches that may not always make the path smooth,

but will definitely increase the reward along the way.

— Bart Jackson

Top Of Page
CPAs Size Up Technology Trends

The New Jersey Society of Public Accountants holds its

annual two-day "Accounting Business and Technology Show" on

Wednesday, May 28, at 8 a.m. at the Meadowlands Exposition Center.

Cost: $50 for both days; $35 for one day; exhibit hall, free. Call

973-226-4494 for more information.

Ahead of the event, the American Institute of Certified Public

Accountants

polled a number of its members, including 142 CPAs holding the

Institute’s

Certified Information Technology Professional designation, on the

top technologies of the year.

Information security came in first, up two spots from last year. This

category includes the hardware, software, processes, and procedures

in place to protect an organization’s information systems from

internal

and external threats. Protection options include firewalls,

anti-virus,

password management, patches, locked facilities, Internet protocol

strategy, and perimeter control.

The CPAs say this year’s list was exceptional because six new items

made their way into the final list. They include:

Business information management. This is the process of

capturing, indexing, storing, retrieving, searching, and managing

documents electronically, including knowledge and database management.

Business information management makes the promise of a

"paperless"

office a reality.

Application integration. This is the ability of different

operating systems, applications, and databases to "talk" to

each other and for information to flow freely regardless of

application,

language, or platform.

Wireless technologies. A hot new area, growing fast,

wireless

technology transfers voice or data from one machine to another via

the airwaves without physical connectivity. Examples include cellular,

satellite, Bluetooth, WiFi, 3G, and two-way paging.

Intrusion detection. This is accomplished through software

or hardware solutions that list and track successful and unsuccessful

login attempts on a network such as Tripwire. Intrusion detection

capabilities are being built into many of today’s firewall

applications.

Customer relationship management. This includes managing

all customer touch points, including Call Center Technologies,

E-commerce,

Data Warehousing, and all other technologies used to facilitate

communications

with customers and prospects.

Privacy. Today, more and more personal information is

being collected and converted to digital formats. This information

must be protected from unauthorized use by those with access to the

data. Privacy is a business issue, as well as a technology issue

because

of state, federal, and international regulations.

In addition to the six new technologies, CPAs polled pointed

to the importance of remote connectivity — technology that allows

a user to connect to a computer from a distant location — and

to disaster recovery planning, which they define as the development,

monitoring, and updating of the process by which organizations plan

for continuity of their business in the event of a loss of business

information resources due to impairments such as theft, virus

infestation,

weather damage, accidents, or other malacious destruction.

Top Of Page
One Big Phone Book On Your Hard Drive

The paperless office may be a mirage, but the bookless

office could upon us. Dictionaries — foreign language, scientific,

and street slang, along with Webster’s — are now a click away.

The same is true of encyclopedias (remember encyclopedias?), almanacs,

books of familiar quotations, guidebooks, medical reference tomes,

and law books. Given websites like refdesk (www.refdesk.com), it is

entirely possible to go from January straight through December without

ever hefting a single office reference book.

But even the most Internet savvy offices still contain dozens —

even tens of thousands — of copies of a single book. But that

ubiquitous business tool almost certainly is facing the same fate

as the folding paper map. This is so because Verizon has just started

circulating its first electronic phone book.

Called Superpages, the wafer-thin CD could replace — with a single

download — a stack of phone books taller than the most imposing

redwood. From the executive penthouse to the mail room, and in each

cubicle in-between, every corporate denizen has long had his own

personal

copy of the weighty yellow tome. But Verizon’s new electronic

publishing

product could clear desk space faster than the average intern can

say "speeding locomotive."

The CD is a snap to install. Directions that come with it explain

how to put it onto a LAN server or a web server, so that everyone

in the office has access to its contents. Using single copies is easy

too, as easy as sliding the CD into its drive.

The Superpages’ homepage has a simple index on its upper left-hand

side. The categories are emergency pages (which can also be accessed

via an ambulance icon on the task bar), community magazine, government

blue pages, business white pages, residential white pages, and

coupons.

The community magazine points to the format’s good points, and bad.

The only way to search the magazine is to choose from one of four

topics. Rather than listing, say, "cultural attractions,"

the CD tells users that its community magazine contains information

on the State House. But click on the State House section, and

information

on the Grounds for Sculpture, the Princeton University Art Museum,

and even Penn’s Landing comes up. It is a good bet that a number of

users, interested in a range of cultural options, will never click

on this heading. It is the same with the other magazine sections.

Another category is labeled "Princeton University Sports,"

and yet it also contains detailed information on other spectator

sports,

including diagrams for a number of stadiums.

Look past the headings, because nearly every attraction in the

community

magazine contains a link to its web page, a most useful tool. Add

the ability to print out driving directions, diagrams, and ticket

options, and the CD version of the phone book’s community magazine

gains a real edge over its paper cousin.

Some of the same quirks show up in the "coupon" section. Again

the index is the weak link. A first click on the lawyer section seemed

to turn up no coupon offers from attorneys. There was a pest control

company with a big coupon (15 percent off any termite extermination),

an offer from a body shop ($125 off any restoration job coming it

at over $1,500 — unless paid for with a credit card), and a deal

from an auto glass shop ($10 off on any new windshield), but the

lawyer

didn’t seem to be there. A second try and a more careful read,

however,

found him up at the bottom of the page, offering 20 percent off any

legal service.

Both the residential and the business white pages are straight

forward.

A nice touch is the ability to search by name or by phone number.

Pages can be viewed one at a time, or in the same dual lay-out that

occurs when a phone book is opened onto a desk. A zoom feature is

a help for those who need reading glasses, but are putting off buying

them.

The yellow pages can be searched by business name, heading, keyword,

or phone number. Here, in the meat of the book-replacement CD, there

are a few little problems. A search for "web design" elicited

the quick response that two-word searches are not allowed. Combining

the two words resulted in a "no listings found" response.

Searching on "Internet" turned up several web design firms.

More came up under "graphics."

Here is where an electronic yellow pages might change advertising

practices. After searching on "graphics," a prominent bright

green arrow pointed right toward the firm with "graphics"

in its name. Firms using the singular — say "Graphic Design

Boutique" — did not get the green arrow. And neither did those

who used something, perhaps "Web Creations."

An even stronger case for new advertising strategy, should the yellow

pages CD replace its paper equivalent, is that if one looks for, say,

painters, it would seem that those coming up on the first page would

have a huge advantage. Or perhaps those on the first three pages would

have this advantage. This is so because it takes only a tiny fraction

of a second to flip the pages in a paper book, but it takes up to

15 seconds to "flip" the CD page. That is an eternity in

computer

time. Getting from the fifth to the sixth page of painters took 10

seconds, and getting from the sixth to the seventh took an almost

unbearable 15 seconds.

Being listed first has always been good — as AAAAA Taxi and

similar

company names illustrate — but when and if the CD version of the

yellow pages becomes the dominant format, the ante for appearing at

the head of a list would increase considerably.

Another tiny problem with the Superpages CD yellow pages is, once

again, an index issue. Upon receiving a search request for painters,

the CD offered only two choices, "painters’ equipment and

supplies"

and "painters — automotive." Choosing the former did

indeed

turn up painting contractors, but it is strange that the categories

are not either more broad — simply "painters" — or

more narrow, including more business segments.

These are small quibbles. Overall, the electronic phone book has it

all over quickly dog-eared, sometimes torn-apart paper phone books,

whose typeface appears to be shrinking a little more every year. While

absolutely no use in boosting toddlers up to the dining table, the

CD version is a winner in most other situations.

Top Of Page
Corporate Angels

A $1,000 scholarship has been created and funded by

law firm Pellettieri, Rabstein & Altman to recognize

contributions

made by a volunteer "buddy" in the Hamilton YMCA Special Kids

Organized Recreation program (SKOR).

The SKOR program, started in 1999, runs basketball, soccer, and summer

camp programs for special needs children in the Hamilton area. More

than 100 special needs children participate in the program. They are

aided by "buddies," who are high school students who volunteer

time to help. As many as 50 buddies are involved in the SKOR program

at any given time.

The scholarship, which will be given to a graduating high school

senior

to help with higher education costs, will be supervised by Tom Smith,

a partner at the law firm and one of the founders of the SKOR program.

For more information call 609-520-0900, ext. 2299.

The Mercer County Bar Foundation’s K.I.T.E.S. Program

(Kids Instructed in Tolerance through Education and Support) has

awarded

mini-grants to Princeton Outreach Projects, Trenton After School

Program,

Samaritan Baptist Church, and Antheil School.

The funds go toward the support, development, or implementation

of programs that attempt to promote conflict resolution or reduce

violence in children’s behavior. Eligible programs must include a

component that involves parents. The maximum grant awards are $500.

For more information call 609-637-4908.

Top Of Page
Grants Awarded

With $150,000 in federal funding, The American Red Cross

of Central New Jersey, along with the New Jersey State Police

Community

Affairs Bureau, is training troopers to help rural victims of sudden

cardiac arrest. The grant, from the U.S. Department of Health and

Human Services Office of Rural Health Policy Rural Access, is for

the purchase of automated external defibrillators and training in

its use.

From three to five units are being distributed in seven counties.

Now that training has been given to 250 troopers, and 20 have been

certified as instructors, the State Police Community Affairs Bureau

is self-sufficient to do its own training.


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