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This group is in English. Practice and share Business English advice with professionals across all industries.
Catégorie:Business
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 Definition: A podcast is a pre-recorded audio program that's posted to a website and is made available for download so people can listen to them on personal computers or mobile devices.

 

Podcasting takes its name from Apple's popular iPod line of products, but it isn't limited only to iPod owners and listeners. What distinguishes a podcast from other types of audio products on the internet is that a podcaster can solicit (=ask for, request) subscriptions from listeners, so that when new podcasts are released, they can automatically be delivered, or fed, to a subscriber's computer or mobile device. Usually, the podcast features an audio show with new episodes that are fed to your computer either sporadically (sometimes, at irregular intervals) or at planned intervals, such as daily or weekly. Just like the old radio serials of the 1930s and 40s, this format encourages listeners to subscribe (=sign up so you can get every show) so they can find out "what happens next."

 

As long as you listen to podcasts only on your computer (the vast majority of podcast subscribers do), you don't need any special software other than the audio player, such as a Windows Media Player or RealPlayer, you already have on your computer. But if you want to subscribe to a podcast feed, you'll need to install "podcatcher" software on your computer. The most popular podcatcher software is iTunes.

 

Do you ever listen to podcasts?  For what purpose?


 Definition: A comprehensive package of information outlining a company's products and services most frequently sent to members of the press

 

A press kit--also called a media kit--is a prepared package of information you can send out to anyone looking for more information on your company. Most commonly, it's sent to members of the press.

 

As you grow, you may come to the attention of local or national media and need a way to quickly and completely communicate key facts about your company. A complete press kit contains the following:

 

1. A brief company biography. This should be a one- or two-page summary of what you do and what makes you special. It should be a quick reference guide to your organization and include your full company name, address and contact information, mission statement (=a statement defining your business purpose), organizational structure, products and services, locations, number of employees, and relevant financial information.

 

2. Short biographies of senior management. Each one will include full name, title, education, professional affiliations (=involvement with professional or community groups) and awards, family and community involvement and awards. A paragraph or two per person should be sufficient.

 

3. A sheet of testimonials with comments from customers. You may also include awards and citations (=certifications).

 

4. Reprints of newspaper and magazine articles, printouts of Web sites and references to television and radio shows your company has been mentioned in. Articles and media exposure lend tremendous credibility to your company.

 

5. Photos of products, people, facilities or other important parts of your company. This will help put a face on your company.

 

6. Something to put it all in. Make it something like a pocket folder with your logo on the cover.

 

Does your company have a press kit?  What’s in it? When is it used?


 1. Know the customer or decision maker for your product. For example, if you are a developer of Hawaiian time share condominiums, it would probably be better to avoid soliciting people that already live in Hawaii.

 

2. Every direct communication should include an offer or incentive for the customer to buy your product/service, such as a discount or a free gift.

 

3. Be clear.  What is your product? What are its benefits? Why does your audience need it? Where does the reader sign up, and by when? If your readers are confused, they will not buy.  Use short sentences, bullet points, and headlines.

 

4. Using different type styles such as bold, underline and ALL CAPITAL letters can be used to draw your reader's eye to key messages. Consider highlighting your offer, call to action, and response date.

 

5. Call to Action. The bottom line with any direct mail piece is to get your reader to take action. Tell them what you want them to do, and don’t be shy about repeating it.

 

6. Multi-Wave Mailings. Send various emails approximately 1-4 weeks apart to make people see and comprehend them.

 

7. Creating Tracking Measures. Use promotion codes and/or coupons can help you determine to what extent your efforts were successful. Ask your customer to mention the coupon or read a promotion code when they take advantage of your offer.

 

10. When setting a budget, consider the following types of expenses: Mailing list, paper, printing, postage, (void if you’re using email, of course) cost of the offer, lettershop expenses such as merge/purge and mail sort, and any advertising agency or graphic artist fees.

 

11. The financial success for a campaign can be measured in many ways. Cost per new accounts (CPA) and return on investment (ROI) are two examples. To calculate a CPA, take your total program expenses and divide by the number of new accounts acquired. A simple ROI equation takes the total program expense minus the additional money generated as a direct result of the campaign.

 

Does your company ever use direct mail campaigns?  Do you think they’re an effective way of advertising?


 Definition: The search for potential customers or buyers

 

When it comes to drumming up (=finding, creating) new business, like anyone involved in sales, your first big challenge will be to reach the right individuals. To successfully find new prospects for your products and services, you'll need a hard-working prospecting program that reaches out to qualified prospects and moves them through the sales cycle from cold to warm to hot. Your program must incorporate a range of marketing tactics that, over time, bring prospects incrementally (=a bit at a time) closer to a decision to hire you.

 

Cold prospects are customers or organizations you've identified as well-qualified but that have little or no awareness of your company. They can be reached through advertising, public relations, cold calling (=calling without being solicited) and networking. Begin a campaign of magazine advertising to showcase your unique selling proposition, and set up an ongoing public relations program that targets the same publications. Also create a prospect list of qualified individuals or organizations, and support your marketing efforts with cold calling. To round out your efforts to reach cold prospects, begin networking within select groups where you're most likely to come into contact with members of your target audience (=the people or organizations you want to sell to).

 

Once you've begun calling on top prospects and leads from your advertising and PR programs start to roll in, you'll need to set up a database using contact management software. This will help you consistently maintain ongoing contact with warm prospects-companies and individuals with whom you've previously spoken or met. Initiate a direct-mail campaign (=emails to a list of your prospects) to make frequent contact with your database. And support the campaign with sales activities, including follow-up phone calls as well as meetings with prospects generated by your direct mail, advertising and public relations.

 

Hot prospects are the ones you've successfully moved through the first two stages of your sales cycle. When your marketing program has brought them to this point, you'll need to get personally involved to supply the "heat" to close sales.

 

What do you think are the best ways to move cold prospects to warm, and warm to hot?

 

 


 

 


 What's in a name? If you're in business, the name of your company is probably one of your most valuable assets. An effective name is one that establishes a strong identity and describes the type of business you're conducting.   It's the first impression the public will have of your growing company. Today, coming up with a good business name is more difficult than ever because many of the best names have already been trademarked, but it’s crucial to creating a memorable business image. The name you choose can make or break (=mean the success or failure of) your business!

 

Start by deciding what you want your name to communicate. To be most effective, your company name should reinforce the key elements of your business.

 

The more your name communicates to consumers, the less effort you must exert to explain it. Specific names make sense if you intend to stay in a narrow niche (=creating the same products in the same place) forever. However, if you have any ambitions (=plans, goals) of growing or expanding, you should find a name that's broad enough to accommodate your growth.

 

Descriptive names tell something concrete (=solid, real, tangible) about a business--what it does, where it's located and so on. Suggestive names are more abstract (=intangible, conceptual), and they focus on what the business is about. Would you like to convey quality? Convenience? Novelty?

  • Choose a name that appeals not only to you, but also to the kind of customers you're trying to attract.
  • To get customers to respond to your business on an emotional level, choose a comforting or familiar name that conjures up pleasant memories.
  • Don't pick a name that's long or confusing.
  • Stay away from cute puns that only you understand.
  • Don't use the word "Inc." after your name unless your company is actually incorporated.
  • Don't use the word "Enterprises" after your name; this term is often used by amateurs.

 

What do you think are some good business names?  What else do you think is important when choosing a business name?


 By attending business meetings, participants get a chance to learn new information and interact with peers and leaders in their field.

 

Create a great agenda.

 

The agenda should be focused on a single theme and not overwhelm (=be too much for) attendees.

 

Be sensitive to the calendar and clock.

 

Despite the best agenda, event attendees have preferences as to when they want to attend such programs and when they cannot.

  • Attendees prefer morning schedules for seminars.
  • Attendees prefer appreciation events immediately after work.
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays are popular meeting days.
  • Avoid holding meetings on Fridays if possible.
  • Avoid scheduling meetings on holidays and the eve of holidays.
  • Be sensitive to attendee travel requirements for the event.

 

Start on time and finish on time!

 

Identify a unique and convenient location.

 

Select a venue (=location for the meeting) that is easy to get to, and where attendees will enjoy themselves.

 

Compile an appropriate guest list.

 

Successful meetings have a specific topic and target audience for that message.  Don’t open the meeting to the masses – invite those who will benefit from and enjoy the event.

 

Invite, invite, invite.

One of the keys to achieving attendance to your meeting is by inviting people early, and continue reminding them about the event even if they have confirmed attendance.  Call every guest on the phone to extend a personal invitation.

 

Establish a reputation for delivering excellent programs.

Everyone has attended good conferences and bad conferences, and the same holds true for seminars and other appreciation events. If people like the last even they attended, they’re more likely to attend the next.

 

Send follow up communications and thank attendees.

Because people attend meetings to gather new information, many attendees appreciate receiving additional handouts and materials that may have been referenced by presenters and other folks within your organization. It is an excellent opportunity to share that information with follow thank you messages to those who attended the event. 


Golf - With about 27 million golfers in the U.S. alone, golf outings are among the most popular corporate events each year. You can have your own golf outing, or take in a PGA Tour.

 

Concerts and Performing Arts - In many cities around the world there's an outdoor concert series "in the park" with high quality pop, folk, blues, jazz, opera, orchestra and world music. They include seating, private tents, and options for private catered dining.

 

Cruises and Sailing -  If you are located near water - an ocean, lake or river - chartering a private yacht or boat during the day or evening offers incredible relaxation and views. Hire a captain with a great personality, and a docent (=teacher, lecturer) to serve as guide and storyteller

 

Motor Speedway - NASCAR is known for having the most loyal fans. Motor speedways offer private entertainment for business events that includes suites, meeting facilities and catering options that really enhance the track experience.

 

In addition to taking your group to the most popular events and venues in town, there are countless other options to consider for planning a unique event, such as a private reception with exotic dining, music, and dance performances as a signature event at any of the following:

  • Restaurant patio
  • Art gallery and garden
  • Museum or zoo
  • Horse barn
  • Winery
  • Botanic garden

 

Or, consider taking your group for a day to one of these planned group events:

  • Team building retreat in the woods
  • Fishing retreat
  • Horseback riding
  • Walking city tours
  • Hiking and biking
  • Off-road and jeep tour

 

What other ideas can you think of for corporate events? Which of these do you think are the most appropriate and/or innovative?



 As you think about your new business, you must create a way to make your business stand out in the minds of potential customers/clients. And you must describe your products or services to make people want to come in and buy. You must create a Unique Selling Proposition (USP).

 

The most important thing to remember about a USP is "benefits, not features." Focus on benefits to your potential customers, not the great features you think are really cool. The technical aspects of your products are great, but your customers are more concerned with whether the product or service is what they need or want.

 

For example, if you are selling shoes, don't describe the way they were made, talk about how they will make the customer feel sexy, or comfortable. Focus on:

  • How the product/service will solve a problem
  • How this will change the person
  • How the product/service will improve the person's life

 

Some unique propositions that were pioneers (=the first) when they were introduced:

  • Domino's Pizza: "You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less -- or it's free."
  • FedEx: "When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight"
  • M&M's: "Melts in your mouth, not in your hand"
  • Wonder Bread: "Wonder Bread Helps Build Strong Bodies 12 Ways"

 

Creating a USP is one of the most difficult parts of a business plan, but one of the most important. You will need to keep working on getting it right, so you know how to market your products or services.

 

Does your business have an USP?  What is it?  If not, what could it be?



 Work your social media and networking platforms (your blog, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter) by posting information about your product or service and asking questions about your audience's needs. This gets the conversation going and creates more exposure for your business. The point is to keep your business on the minds of potential customers worldwide.

 

Transport your products

 

Your next step is to focus on logistics — transporting the product to where you will be selling it. By now, you have located customers who love your product, solidified (=finalized) the terms of the sale with them and established a means for getting paid. Now you must move it.

 

Hire a global freight forwarder who serves as an all-round transport agent for moving cargo (=any goods to be moved), typically from a factory door to another warehouse. Their service saves you a lot of time, effort and anxiety for a very reasonable fee. They take care of all shipping arrangements, which includes handling documentation, arranging insurance, and determining necessary licenses, permits, quotas, tariffs and restrictions (=country regulations), which can be one of the most complicated aspects of importing/exporting for a newbie international trader.

 

Provide great global customer service!

 

Speaks for itself.  The relationship between you and your overseas customer shouldn't end when a sale is made. If anything, it requires more of your attention.

 

Have you ever considered starting an import/export business?  What ideas do you think would be successful?

 


 


 Hire the best salespeople

 

If you are interested in starting an import/export, it is extremely important to hire the best sales reps, as they will determine how financially successful your company will be. It is imperative that you take the time to hire right to help get your import/export business started right!  Use your professional network (=business contacts you have through your work) to find them, check local colleges and universities, and advertise in trade magazines.

 

You can pay them by pure commission (=a percentage of gross sales), but usually a combination of salary + commission is preferred– security AND motivation.

 

Price the product.

 

The business model for an import/export business is based on two critical elements within the international sales operation.

1. Volume (number of units sold).
2. Commission on that volume.

 

The goal is to price your product in such a way that your commission (=markup on the product to customers) does not exceed what your customer is willing to pay, and offers you a healthy profit. Typically, importers and exporters take a 10% to 15% markup over cost (=the price a manufacturer charges you).

 

Find customers.

 

With good search engine optimization on your blog or website, customers will find you, but you should also go hunting for customers! Check with local contacts, such as trade organizations, Chambers of Commerce, embassies and trade consulates. An excellent service on the exporting end is the U.S. Commercial Service (CS) Gold Key Matching Service. The U.S. CS can help you find potential overseas agents, customers, distributors, sales representatives and business partners.

(to be continued)


 

  • Make them laugh. You might say something like, “Hi, my name is Jane Smith and this is a sales call. I know, you hate these, so I'm gonna be as brief as possible.” It's usually safe to make fun of yourself, but avoid making fun of other people!

  • Offer something valuable. If you are selling a physical product, suggest a free demonstration.  If you’re selling a financial service, for example, you could offer a free consultation.

  • Solve their problems. Ask “What is your biggest, most unsolvable problem?” Then list one or two ways that your product or service will help to solve it. This approach can require some pretty creative thinking, but if you come up with a good answer you are almost assured of getting the appointment.

 

End on a Positive Note

 

Once you've broken the ice (=broken down the initial tension) and told the decision maker a little about your product, it's time to ask for the appointment. It is vital (=extremely important) to close the call assertively (=boldly, confidently, with self-assurance).

 

Always use language that assumes they want to meet with you. Say “Are you available to meet next Thursday at 3PM?” By assuming the close you make it harder for the prospect to say no.

 

Throughout the course of the call, be courteous and project confidence. By being polite and respectful to everyone you encounter, you are showing them that you value their time. And if you aren't confident about yourself and your product, you can't expect your prospect to be confident about them either!

 

Have you had experience making cold calls?  Do you have any success tips?  Do you ever receive cold calls?  How do you feel about them?



 Cold calling (=unsolicited sales calls): the dreaded sales technique that can make even hardened salespeople shake in their shoes (=become afraid). Here's how to cheerfully turn your cold leads (=contacts that have not yet shown interest in your product) into warm prospects.

 

Get in Touch With the Decision Maker

In business-to-business sales you will frequently have to work your way through one or more people to reach the appropriate decision maker.  Often you will have to convince the “gatekeeper” (usually a secretary or assistant) to let you through. Don't think of the gatekeeper as an enemy… he or she is a potential ally (=friend), who can provide valuable information about the decision maker.

Don't ever lie to the gatekeeper or try to use trickery. Trust is a prerequisite (=something that must come first) for a successful sale.  Instead, tell the gatekeeper what you're selling and ask who would be responsible for purchasing that product or service.  Sometimes the best approach is to come right out and ask the gatekeeper for his or her assistance!

 

Sell the Appointment

The point of your call is not to sell your product but to get an appointment. Start by asking if it's a good time to talk; that shows that you respect your prospect's busy schedule. If they say they can't talk now, suggest another time and be specific, for example, “I'll call back tomorrow at 9AM, if that's convenient for you.”  If the decision maker is willing to talk now, you need to get their attention quickly; the first few seconds of the conversation are critical (=extremely important).

(to be continued)


Questions  can be used for networking and marketing purposes, and blogs can also be used to demonstrate your expertise.

 

Recommendations  are an important part of your LinkedIn profile - users with recommendations are three times as likely to get inquiries through searches.

 

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) - Customize your public profile URL to be your name and edit the links to your websites, make your profile public, and use keywords liberally.

 

Tools  - LinkedIn has a number of productivity tools that you can use to search, build your network and manage your contacts. You can download a toolbar for Outlook, browser toolbar, email signature, Mac search widget and a Google toolbar assistant.

 

Updates - You can add Twitter to your LinkedIn profile and when you update your LinkedIn network by asking a question, sharing a thought or posting an article, you can choose whether to share it on Twitter at the same time.  

 

Videos – Videos are an incredibly dynamic way to showcase and communicate more about your company.

 

 Weekly -  Make LinkedIn an active part of your social networking and be sure to update your profile at least once a week!

 

eXperience - Use the Summary part of your profile to highlight the most important aspects of your experiences and what you have to offer. Add specific specialties as well.

 

YouTube – Subscribe to LinkedIn’s YouTube Channel, a great resource where you can see videos and short “in tips” on topics such as creating a 100% complete profile, sharing your basic information, telling your story through your job history, and including details about your education.

 

Zero In on Connections - Focus on developing a quality network that can actually help you achieve your goals.

 

Have you tried LinkedIn?  What are your thoughts?

 




Groups - LinkedIn Groups are a great way to stay on top of topics of interest to you and to network with others in your field. You can see who was most influential in the group in the past week and follow their activities.

 

Help Center answers your questions and gives you step-by-step answers.

 

Images – Use a professional and eye-catching profile picture – it’s a key component of a complete profile.

 

Jobs – You can use LinkedIn to look into companies of interest to you by seeing if anyone you know may know someone at the company.

 

Keywords – Use keywords that are specific to your industry and skills. You can optimize the specialties section and even include mention of your geographic location to improve the chances of coming up in searches.

 

Link to your LinkedIn ProfileBe sure to include your LinkedIn URL in your email signature, on your websites, info tab in Facebook, and on your business card.

 

Mobile - Connect with LinkedIn on your mobile phone. There are apps for iPhone, Blackberry and Palm.

 

Network Statistics - you can see information about your network, including how many users you can reach through your connections. Your network grows every time you add a connection.

 

Organizer - Profile Organizer is a feature on the LinkedIn premium account that enables you to bookmark LinkedIn searches on profiles, company pages and jobs you may want to apply for. You can save the information to a folder of your choice, and add details and notes that you want to keep track of.

 

Proactivity - Use LinkedIn proactively. Don’t set up a profile and abandon it.  Add connections, make your profile public, customize your URL to include your name, find answers to your questions, and conduct market research!

 

 

(to be continued)



 

I have recently started advertising English classes in my local area, and have been looking for ways to connect with businesses who could use (and pay for) my services.  After advertising in Facebook and Orkut, I came across LinkedIn.com.

 

 

 

With more than 85 million users and “a new member being added every second,” LinkedIn is often regarded as the premier business-oriented social networking site for business professionals, helping them maintain a list of connections which could be used to find work, get information about potential employers, and fill your own job vacancies.  Linkedin is also the perfect website for the freelancer (like myself) who is constantly on the lookout for new job opportunities.

 

 

 

Here are your tips from A-Z on how to best utilize your LinkedIn account.

 

 

 

Applications - You can add third-party applications to “enrich your profile, share and collaborate with your network, and get the key insights that help you be more effective.” There are currently 19 applications to choose from.

 

 

 

Blog Links - You can bring your blog posts into LinkedIn with applications such as Blog Link or WordPress LinkedIn. It’s a powerful way to engage your connections with material you’ve written.

 

 

 

Company Pages – Allows companies to showcase their business. Companies are able to feature products and services with descriptive overview, and videos can even be embedded on the page..

 

 

 

Direct Ad Campaigns - LinkedIn Direct Ads allow you to target ads by industry, company, geography, job function, seniority, gender and age. Ads can appear as a media box, banner ad or text hyperlink. Ads are pay-per-click or by impressions and can be stopped at any time.

 

 

 

Events – You can browse events by type, topic, location and add your own event for users to find, promote and attend.

 

 

 

Follow Companies - Company follows make it possible for you to keep your eye on key events happening at companies you’re interested in. You’ll see information regarding new jobs, new hires and promotions, what it’s like to work there via employee testimonials and how to contact a recruiter.

 

 

 

(to be continued)

 

 



Cloud Computing is a Platform

 

What's a platform? It is the basic structure which runs our apps. Windows is a platform. The Mac OS is a platform. But a platform doesn't have to be an operating system… Java is a platform even though it is not an OS.

 

Through cloud computing, the web is becoming a platform. Word processors like Buzzword and office suites like Google Docs are slowly becoming as functional as their desktop counterparts and could one day replace software such as Microsoft Office in many homes or small offices.

 

Cloud delivers applications of all shapes and sizes from web mashups (=web applications combining date from various sources) to Facebook applications to web-based multiplayer online role-playing games. With new technologies that help web applications store some information locally, and a new browser called Chrome, Google is a major player in turning cloud computing into a platform.

 

Cloud Computing and Interoperability

 

A major barrier (=difficulty) to cloud computing is the interoperability of applications (=how applications work together). While it is possible to insert an Adobe Acrobat file into a Microsoft Word document, things get a little bit more complicated with web-based applications.

 

While we might one day be able to insert our Google Docs word processor document into our Google Docs spreadsheet, it’s unlikely we’ll be able to put Buzzword document into our Google Docs spreadsheet. This creates a ton of data security issues. Not only would we need a standard for web 'documents' to become web 'objects' capable of being generically inserted into any other web document, we'll also need a system to maintain a certain level of security when it comes to this type of data sharing.

 

Possible? Certainly, but it won’t happen overnight.


 Just what is Cloud Computing? I've heard it called a service, a platform, and even an operating system. Some even link it to such concepts as grid computing -- which is a way of taking many different computers and linking them together to form one very big computer.

 

A basic definition of cloud computing is the use of the Internet for the tasks you perform on your computer. The "cloud" represents the Internet.

 

Information storage is the most basic service offered by cloud computing, and a good example of this is Flickr.  Flickr allows you to easily access your images no matter where you are or what type of device you are using, and it lets you easily share the images without physically carrying them around.  On top of this, Flickr offers you the security of having a backup if your harddrive crashes or your house burns down.

 

This is also where grid computing comes into play. Beyond just being used as a place to store and share information, cloud computing can be used to manipulate information. For example, instead of using a local database, businesses could rent CPU time on a web-based database.

 

The major drawback (=biggest disadvantage) to using cloud computing as a service is that it requires an Internet connection. So, while there are many benefits, you'll lose them off if you are cut off from the Web.

 

(to be continued)


 The Balance Sheet is a financial statement that lists the assets (=what a business owns), liabilities (=what the business owes) and equity (=how the assets are financed) of a company at a specific point in time and is used to calculate the net worth of a business. Subtracting liabilities from assets shows the net worth of the business.

 

A basic tenet of double-entry book-keeping is that total assets must equal liabilities plus equity. In other words, the balance sheet must balance!

 

 

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