Beware the I’s of Finance: Insurance, Investments, Identity Theft

The Nuts and Bolts of InsuranceMost people forget that they even have insurance. With the exception of an occasional doctor’s visit, it’s an insignificant benefit for which we pay an arm and a leg. However, being seemingly inconsequential matters such as being underinsured or paying high interest rates can be immensely damaging to your financial profile.Tending to your insurance generally consists of monitoring two key ingredients: rates and coverage. If you do not recognize either of these words, the first step is to call your insurance agent. Although you might hesitate to inconvenience him, think of all the money you could be hemorrhaging on exorbitant rates and insufficient coverage.Most agents receive commissions based renewals and new sign ups, not for updating you on rates that complement your changing lifestyle. Request a review of your policy once a year to ensure that you are receiving full coverage, earning applicable discounts, and staying informed about changing. Having this awareness will supply you with tools to shop for a better package. Also remember to keep an eye on your credit score as it can adversely impact your insurance rates.Take Control of What’s YoursYou have to know who is in control of your investments. It doesn’t necessarily have to be you, but it should be someone you trust and can consult with conveniently. The worst scenario is not being aware of your finances. If you need help to track your investments, hire a financial consultant or advisor through a trusted source. If you’re not sure of what your finances look like, find out whether you funds are depleted or you’re actually holding onto sound capital.Once this question is answered, reconsider your risk tolerance, a measurement of your comfort level with certain investments. Depending on your income, experience in the market, age, years to retirement, monthly expenses, and long term goals, some stock commitments can be perceived as jeopardous. Choosing items that match your degree of risk tolerance will decrease the likelihood that you will ignore your investments. Instead of steering clear from disappointing news, you’ll be curious to see what happens with your stocks.Losing Control of What’s YoursIdentity theft can happen to anyone, anywhere, and at anytime. It can tarnish your credit history and can take years to rectify. Because it’s such an invasive act, a common misconception is that the perpetrator must always be a stranger. More times than not, you already know that thief. Family members, employees, office mates, and friends can all steal away your financial identity. Moreover, thieves are capable of accessing your information in numerous ways, from fishing through your trash can to hacking your computer.You can prevent identity theft by being cautious with your financial information and frequently reviewing your finances. By checking your monthly statements, you can avoid false charges being applied to your credit cards and immediately report suspicious activity to creditors. Any document that contains your social security number, date of birth, online account information, or credit card information should be shredded to avoid this predicament.Also, check-in with your bank manager about identity theft policies. Even if an account is insured, it can take a substantial amount of time to replace stolen funds. This window of time could lead to bounced checks, late payment fees, and deficiencies on your credit report. Finally, enlist the services of a credit monitoring agency. Even though you are asked to pay a sign-up fee, it’s worth the peace of mind. Be sure to select an agency that agrees to assist you with problems as they arise.In the event that your identity is stolen, cancel all credit cards instantly. Even if you aren’t making the purchases, you might be found culpable if you hesitate to inform the companies. Next, file a police report. Although, you’re not necessarily asking them to frisk the thief, documenting identity theft with them validates the crime and enables you to file a subsequent report with each of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Hereafter, you can take steps to have criminal activity erased from future credit reports.

Carefully Chosen Mentors and Coaches Will Accelerate Your Performance

History has shown that most of the incredible comebacks and super achievements were accomplished by individuals, who were influenced by great mentors or coaches. These super achievers came from many different and diverse fields, such as business, art, science, politics and sports. Their great achievement was related to a common thread of either a mentor or coach, who supported and inspired them to remain motivated, to take daily action, stay on track and become great.When identifying the right coach or mentor, you could either employ a professional to assist you or you could look around you environment and discover an ideal mentor or coach. My experience has shown me that the most suitable mentors or coaches come from within your organisation or industry.Action Idea: When identifying the right coach or mentor, first know exactly what you want to achieve and ensure that you have a very clear, articulated and written down vision. Next create a crystal clear picture in your mind of exactly what you want from a mentor or coach. Write this down and then decide how much time you would need from your mentor or coach each week or month. Build a very concise written introduction that you can use when you approach either a mentor or coach with your proposal.Search around in your environment and see if there is anyone close to you who can mentor or coach you. If there is no one suitable, expand your search into your industry and beyond by using Google, LinkedIn and even Facebook, to research your prospective mentors or coaches. Once you identified the most suitable person, approach them with a very clear concept, describing your exact expectations and the amount of time you would need from them each week, month etc. In most cases, when you are really concise and you show that you know exactly what you are looking for, people are willing to assist.Identifying and utilising all the opportunities available to you, to get support from the right people around you, is one of the key ingredients to becoming and sustaining top performance. A long range study conducted over 40 years, by two researchers, Ruth Smith and Emily Werner, in Hawaii, attempted to answer the question “Why some people are motivated to overcome severe disadvantages, while others from similar backgrounds are overwhelmed by the same challenges”Their research showed that the people that persevered and pushed through until they overcame adversity possessed an interesting quality. They all had the ability to recognise potential sources of support in other people around them. They could look beyond the walls of their lives, where they discovered relatives, friends, teachers, coaches or mentors who could support and assist them. This very important result illustrates the incredible value found in identifying and forming mutually beneficial relationships with coaches or mentors.The secret to make a mentoring or coaching experience sustainable in the medium to long term is to ensure that the relationship always remains mutually beneficial. In the case of a professional coach or mentor, you would be paying for their services and so reaching a point of fair exchange is relatively easy. The challenge is to find a way to ensure that anyone from your organisation or industry, who is ideal to be your mentor or coach, always feels like there is a fair exchange, for the time they invest into you.Action Idea: Research your mentors and discover areas where they may require assistance with research or they have an interest. Do the research for them or send them information that would be of value to them relating to their area of interest. I have found this to be one of the best ways possible to sustain any really important mentoring or coaching relationships.A great coach or mentor is not only a source of valuable information and encouragement, but also offers you an additional correctional device or accountability partnership to help keep you on track. A good, well-chosen mentor or coach will assist you and help you remain inspired and driven to succeed, especially during the difficult or challenging times.Identifying and working with the right coaches and mentors is one of the most important choices you will ever make. Invest sufficient time to ensure that you are absolutely clear on your needs and expectations from them and then choose the people you want to work with very wisely. Your coach or mentor is there to support, encourage and guide you. So make sure that they are committed and have a vested interest in helping you.

Call Tracking – Evaluating the Performance of Your Sales Force

What are you doing to track your sales force? Are you simply adding numbers for activity? As managers, we often get excited when a sales team is having a great week out in the field. We might bend the rules a bit, be more flexible, we all have fallen to the “great post sales week blues”. While the bells were ringing in the office, the darkness was upon us on Monday. Typically when a company generates high volume of sales there is no time dedicated to prospecting to make sure the funnel stays full the following week. Monday morning arrives and the meeting starts off with a bang. Then the darkness arrives, “So team, what you all have lined up for the week?” The room becomes dead silent. What now?Panic usually sets in and then you start implementing some actions to take. Is it the reps or is it my fault? Both are to blame, the sales reps for forgetting the funnel and yours for not keeping the reps accountable. It is important to set targets with each individual rep. Not one rep is the same. We would love to have the ability to clone one or two on the team. That won’t happen so we have to spend time with each rep, go out in the field to observe, etc. With this information we tailor a plan based on his or her performance / skills. For example, you need to hit 15 doors per day; this will give you 4 appointments and generate one sale. Based on this, you will have 5 deals per week. You have to stay with them and don’t wait for a week end report, request a 5 minute end of day meeting with the reps. It can be in person, on the phone or they can send a report via email. Create a report designed for each individual. Included in the report are businesses contacted, result (appointment made or not), and plan moving forward. This will keep them accountable and productive, everybody wins. Ok, I can track their activity but what about during the process?Two invaluable tools for monitoring a sales force are inbound call tracking and outbound call tracking. How are my reps behaving on the phone with their prospects and customers? Recording their calls will give you a world of new information to use for staff improvement and training.If your staff is using company cell phones, you can use local or toll free inbound call tracking numbers and forward the call to their cell. Each incoming call will be recorded and include information such as caller ID, if call was answered or not, length of the call, etc. The real time reports available through a web based platform will indicate how the rep is handling incoming calls from prospects or customers. You can review these calls with them during your weekly one on one meeting or share the call with the group if it is a great one. It’s a good idea to consult with the rep before sharing as some people might not feel comfortable with it.If you are managing an inside sales team or working with sales and marketing consultants, outbound call tracking would be a great solution for you. Each member of your staff would be assigned a 4 digit code which identifies them as the caller. With the outbound tracking number programmed in your phone system, the rep would simply press the assigned line, enter their 4 digit code and dial the 10 digit telephone number they want to call. You will have a detailed report of each reps activity for the day, including the recording of the call. Also, with the ability to listen to live phone calls in progress, you can help your sales team increase their closing ratio, book more appointments and spend less time on the phone.Whether you are a small company with 3 sales representatives or a large one with 200 reps, make sure to include call tracking to help evaluate the performance of your sales team. Keep your staff accountable and productive with daily reporting on activities and inbound and outbound call tracking.