It’s Only Common Sense: Doing Whatever It Takes to Succeed

Sometimes your back is against the wall, and for whatever reason, you just have to win this business. You do all you can, pull out all the stops, eat your pride, and remain laser-focused. Sometimes, when failure is not an option, you dig deep and do whatever it takes to succeed.

We’ve all faced this situation at one time or another. I once was forced and under pressure to do whatever I could to win a contract. In my case, the future of the company and all 100 people who worked there was at stake.

Here’s the story: I was director of sales for a company that had been through hard times, mostly due to the ineptness of the new owner and his cronies. They were as incompetent as hell.

For years, we had been doing business with a large electronics aerospace company. We normally booked between a half-million to a million dollars of business a year with them. But they were worried about us— and rightfully so—since we had recently filed for Chapter 11 to give us time and protection to rebuild the company. I’ll save that story of mismanagement and misappropriation of funds for another day.

The problem, though, was that we were in a publicly-declared bankruptcy; when that happens, your customers tend to lose faith in you. They don’t feel so kindly toward giving you more business, if you know what I mean.

I was the lead salesperson and to say it was a daunting task would be an understatement. Without more business, the company would fold. This defense/aerospace legacy customer had a new and very large program that could save us for the time being. Winning that program would mean everything—keeping our people employed for at least another eight months. We had to win this contract.

But there were a couple of problems. First, the customer was sure that the technology for this program was beyond us; second, the program was intended for our stronger, bigger, and more financially stable competitor, and we only knew about it because my salesperson for that customer had built up a solid relationships with their engineers who then shared the news with my salesperson.

I knew this job was a perfect fit. I immediately called the buyer and told him—not asked, but told—that I wanted a proposal for that contract. He declined, but I was prepared. I used every guilt-packed fact I could. I talked about our long relationship, all the favors we had done for his company, and I even told him he at least owed us a chance. Reluctantly, he capitulated and sent me the proposal.

Now all we had to was win the project. We worked up our best possible proposal package for this program. It consisted of more than 70 part numbers and was worth almost $1 million. I then had our trusted salesperson hand-deliver the proposal, hoping to get some immediate feedback. He spent the next few days wining and dining his friends in the know, all the while, lobbying for us to get the contract.

Despite his best efforts, it wasn’t looking good. His friends in the company still felt our competitor was a shoe-in. So, I called the buyer and invited him and his team for a site visit. I wanted him to see that conditions at our company were not as bad as it had sounded and he should see for himself. Fortunately, he agreed.

We prepared by scrubbing and cleaning, making our little shop look the best it ever had. We even hung promotional banners of the customer’s products all over the shop, and we made sure that everyone on our team would look and act their best. I asked the employees to engage with the customer team as they walked through on their tour. I wanted this to get personal.

Finally, I gave the presentation of a lifetime. I threw at them every statistic and milestone about our long relationship. It was no longer just a business deal to me; this was personal. I showed them the important role they could play in saving our company. (Remember I said I was desperate?) By the time they left, I was pretty sure we would get their business.

But the next day, and just a few days before they would announce the awarding of the contract, my salesperson called me with the bad news: His connections at this defense company told him that while they were impressed by their visit, our Chapter 11 still loomed too dark and large; they would give their business to our competitor.

I was devastated, so I went out for a long walk to think it over. Soon I came back to my office and wrote the buyer a letter. This was the letter of all letters. It was so heartfelt and genuine that no one would forget it easily. I wrote from the point of view of the entire company. I made it personal. Then, I had every single person in the company sign it. Some even wrote little notes, asking for this company’s business. I sealed it up and sent it overnight to the company.

What was the result? My salesperson told me that the letter had a huge impact. It was copied and passed around the entire division. Everyone we dealt with read a copy of that letter. The best part was that it worked.

Later that day I got a call from the buyer. He started out by calling me a “son of a you know what” and then said, “Okay, you got the damn business. You guys better not screw it up.” Which we didn’t—and that’s a story for another day as well.

This is just but one example of what you can do when it’s all you’ve got. It’s when you see that failure in not an option.

It’s only common sense.

Dan Beaulieu is president of D.B. Management Group.



It’s Only Common Sense: Doing Whatever It Takes to Succeed


Sometimes your back is against the wall, and for whatever reason, you just have to win this business. You do all you can, pull out all the stops, eat your pride, and remain laser-focused. Sometimes, when failure is not an option, you dig deep and do whatever it takes to succeed. We’ve all faced this situation at one time or another. I once was forced and under pressure to do whatever I could to win a contract. In my case, the future of the company and all 100 people who worked there was at stake.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Are You Selling What Your Customers Want?


Our customers will buy what they want, not what we want to sell. That’s kind of a pain, isn’t it? No matter how great our product is, how compelling our sales pitch, or how absolutely convinced we are about the product, if they don’t want it, they won’t buy it. So many of us spend too much time trying to convince our customers to buy what we’re selling and not enough time listening to what they want. We all do it. It’s a bad habit we need to break.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Great Salespeople Never Quit


If you are in sales and don’t treat your job with intensity, passion, and seriousness, you’ll never succeed. This is how you make your living, after all, and in some ways, it is what defines at least one facet of who you are. You owe it to your company to give 100% and you owe it to yourself to give 150%; it takes great effort to be great. Here are some of the things I say when I am coaching a salesperson who is looking to get out of a rut of their own making.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Five Tips to Kick Start Your Sales


Are you stuck in those sales doldrums, the bane of even the best salespeople? Everything has come to a standstill, you’re not even hearing from your good customers nor getting answers on quotes that looked so promising and imminent just last week. You’re sitting there wondering, “What’s next? How will I get out of this rut?” Now what? What will you do next? How will you kick start your day and get out of this rut? No worries. Here are five things you can do today to get things moving again.

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It's Only Common Sense: We Are the Alchemists


I recently talked to a board shop owner who entertained a customer visit from a large military OEM. In the group were four young engineers who had never been in a PCB shop before. As they toured the facility, they were actually stunned at the amount of equipment, people, and process steps it takes to build a printed circuit. I'm tired of PCB fabricators taking a back seat in the supply chain. As the true "makers," it's time we stood up and let our voice be heard.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Solving Your Talent Problem


Some of you will not like this column, but it needs to be said. With all due respect, listen up, and read this with an open mind. I’ve been talking to company owners over the past six months, and they all say essentially the same thing: “People just don’t want to work anymore.” The reasons for this vary. Workers are spoiled and lazy because “the government gave them too much money,” or “their generation was raised badly,” or “they’re spoiled and expect too much.”

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It’s Only Common Sense: Want to Be a Better Listener? Try These 5 Tips


Every now and then I feel the urge to write about the great art of not just hearing, but true and active listening. About once a year, I feel like it needs to be brought up and discussed—maybe for your benefit or mine. This is one of those things that I need to work on. I often get so enthusiastic when talking to someone that I end up talking too much, or interrupting the speaker, or talking over them. This is my problem. It’s a case of “teacher teach thyself.” But especially as I attend both virtual and live meetings, I am reminded repeatedly of the importance—and skill—of listening.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Short Circuiting the Excuse Cycle


Sales managers, have you ever heard one of your salespeople say something like: “If we only had (whatever it is your company doesn’t have), I could double my forecast?” How about, “If we only had the spec or qualification, we could double our sales? Everyone is asking for it now.” Or maybe, “Once we have that new laser drill, I am going to bring in a ton of business.” These “what if” scenarios sound promising, but let’s be honest, these are excuses.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Don’t Stop Your Marketing—Ever


Marketing works. Even when you think it doesn’t. So, if you’ve been to a trade show recently (and if you haven’t, it’s time to start booking the next event), don’t let your marketing stop now that you’ve boarded a plane and come home. When a companry, maybe the first time, really starts thinking about their customers, then it's time to put together a marketing plan. You bring the customer to the table, and you start considering the following questions.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Five Tips to Retaining Your New Hire Long-term


There are many challenges and opportunities when it comes to making a new hire. In the scenarios I have laid out over the past several weeks, we have detailed the process of searching, recruiting, interviewing, selecting, and negotiating. We’ve also talked about taking a formal new hire through an orientation and training program, which includes assigning them to a mentor. Congratulations, they are now a full-fledged member of your team. But now comes the greatest challenge of all. How do you retain this new team member for the long haul? How do you keep them learning, growing, and contributing for years to come?

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It’s Only Common Sense: A ‘Hire’ Responsibility—Making a Sweet Offer


So, you’ve planned, searched, vetted, interviewed, and you’ve finally found the right candidate—the perfect person for the position. Now it’s time to make an attractive offer and negotiate the details of the compensation package with this stellar candidate. If you have done your homework properly, you already know what it will take to convince this person to join your company.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Ordering Talent Off-Menu in 2023


In thinking about the best way to hire good and talent individuals, I went to my library and found a copy of Tom Peters’ book, "The Professional Service Firm50," published over 20 years ago in 1999. Even in these unprecedented times, I have to say: Tom Peters still has it. Flipping through the book again, I was struck by how spot-on his advice still is and, for a moment, I thought that he had foreseen our future talent shortage all those years ago. But I came to realize that he didn’t need to know the challenges we’d be facing in 2023—good advice is timeless.

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It’s Only Common Sense: A ‘Hire’ Responsibility—Selling the Search


Looking for the right people for your company is very similar to the way your sales team approaches building sales—especially now, when the competition for good people is so intense. This is a smart way to consider your search tactics. In some ways, the search team is faced with an even harder task than a sales team because it’s currently harder to find a good hire than a new customer. There are far more potential customers than candidates right now.

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A ‘Hire’ Responsibility—Finding the Perfect Fit


You’ve done everything right so far in your organization’s ongoing search for a new top line recruit. You’ve created an ideal candidate profile, so you know exactly what you want, and you’ve leveraged your network to spread the word. Great news: All your hard work has paid off. You’ve managed to find not just one, but several good potential candidates for the position. As you review your options, you see there’s one candidate you’re particularly excited about, and now it’s time to start taking a good, hard look at them. Dan Beaulieu has five tips for success.

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It’s Only Common Sense: A ‘Hire’ Responsibility—The Search


Dan Beaulieu continues his series about searching for and hiring the perfect candidate. This time he focuses on starting your job search. He says, "You’ve created your ideal candidate profile and you know exactly who you are looking for. To many, that is half the battle, since it is so much easier to search for someone when you know, tangibly and holistically, the qualifications you really need to take your business to the next level. Now it’s time to start your search. Here are my fundamental and timely tips for transforming your next job search."

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It’s Only Common Sense: A ‘Hire Responsibility’—12 Traits of the Perfect Candidate


Continuing our series on finding and hiring the best people for the future of your company, today we will talk about the ideal candidate for the position you’re trying to fill. Just like in sales, where we develop the ideal customer profile, we know to who our ideal candidate is. As the saying goes, “How will you find what you want if you don’t even know what you want?” The best way to find the perfect candidate for the position you want to fill (and for your company) is to create a description of that ideal candidate. This means really thinking about what attributes you want in the person you are going to hire.

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It’s Only Common Sense: A New Series—A ‘Hire’ Responsibility


In this new series, Dan Beaulieu will address one of the biggest challenges facing companies today: finding and retaining a qualified workforce. Dan speaks with companies all around the country and this what they all talk about. Remember the time when we had so many potential candidates to choose from? Well, we all know it's not like that now. But you can still build a dream team. It just takes a little more thought. In this first installment, Dan addresses thinking creatively and with the future in mind.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Planning for a Great 2023


Here we are again, getting ready to plan for a new year. If your company has been doing great this year, this is an opportunity to review what worked and why you have been succeeding in 2022. You can build on that by adding a few more tactics and adjusting that strategy so next year is as good as this one. If things didn’t go so great for you, it’s a great opportunity to start over, to turn that proverbial page and have a fresh start. Learn what worked and throw out what didn’t work—after learning from it, of course.

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It’s Only Common Sense: It’s Just Not Common Sense


Some things really make sense, but let's face it, some things really don't (even when they're supposed to). In this week's column, Dan Beaulieu—an avid reader of customer service books that highlight when things don't work so well and the solutions for them—shares a few of the annoyances in today's technology that just don't seem to be the commonsense approach. Isn't customer service supposed to be about service? But some of these things we all deal with may not be as good as we want them to be. How does your list compare to Dan's?

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It’s Only Common Sense: Take Your Company From Zero to Hero


Many times, we can be too close to the problem to see it. It’s the old “forest for the trees” predicament. When this occurs it’s time to step back and do a full evaluation of the situation. It’s time to take a clear and unadulterated look at you and your company. There is nothing wrong with doing this kind of exercise, and I recommend it happens on a regular basis. In the end, no matter how bleak things may look, it will help get your company on the right path.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Goals for 2022—The Courage to Innovate


There is an expression, “Whoever tries the most stuff wins. Whoever fails at the most stuff wins.” This appeals to me because I really hate playing it safe and not trying something instead of risking failure. If you look at all the great ones—the innovators, the creators, the developers, the people who have made significant changes in the world—they were all risk-takers, and probably all a little crazy. And there are the others who will never get there. Speaking of great ones, don't forget the famous words of Wayne Gretzky, who said, “I never made a shot I didn’t take.”

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It’s Only Common Sense: ‘A Christmas Carol’ Lesson


Charles Dickens’ "A Christmas Carol" is one of the best and most original business books you can read. It’s full of valuable lessons that apply to all facets of business, even today, more than 180 years after it was written. This time of the year you can watch any version you like, from the 1938 Reginal Owen version to the 1951 Alastair Sim version to Disney, the Muppets and Mr. Magoo. Even Bill Murray has his own version. Given that, I’ll go on the assumption you know the story. Except you’ve probably never thought about it as a business story.

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It’s Only Common Sense: ‘The Profit’ Offers 10 Rules for Success


While other people are watching "The Voice" or "Game of Thrones," I am always watching business shows. Call me a nerd, but it’s a passion. One of my favorites is "The Profit," where serial entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis invest his own money into businesses that need his help. I love this show because he deals with companies, mostly small and family owned, as he shows their challenges and how he helps solve them. It is an ultimately relatable, common-sense approach to problem solving.

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It’s Only Common Sense: A Little LEGO Story


What do Brad Pitt, Anna Kendrick, Gillian Anderson, Britney Spears, Matthew Perry, Mayim Balik, Mark Hamill, Chris Pratt, Daniel Radcliffe, Robert Pattinson, and David Duchovny all have in common? Think about that for a minute (or a million years) and you will never get it. Okay, give in? They are all AFOLs. No, not awful (my spell checker is working) they are all AFOLs—Adult Fans of LEGO! You’d be surprised how many AFOLs there are in the world. I can add my name to this list, and here's why.

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It’s Only Common Sense: How Well Do Your Customers Really Know You?


A friend of mine was disappointed recently when he went to trade show and met one of his customers. As they talked it became evident to my friend that his long-time customer had no idea that his company did flex and rigid flex boards. Talking even further, this customer had no idea that my friend’s company did metal-backed boards either. Alt this customer knew about my friends’ company is what they did for him—simple six- and eight-layer epoxy boards. But customers are not interested in hearing your message–or any other message­–until they are ready to listen to that message.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Planning for a Great 2022!


Get ready to enter a new year; it’s less than five weeks away. If you haven’t started working on your planning for 2022 you are almost too late. And since I have been in the industry before dust, I know for a fact that most of you have not even thought about it yet, never mind started your prep. So, as always, I’m trying to be helpful in any way that I can. Here is a short checklist of things that you can do so your planning for next year is done by the end of the month.

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It’s Only Common Sense: What the Pandemic Taught Us


I think this has been the fastest year in history. People tell me it’s because I’m getting old, and that’s true; but come on, I’m not that old. It feels like we just turned the page on 2019 to 2020, never mind 2020 to 2021. Heck, it feels like only last week we were all worried about Y2K and what that was going to do to our world. That was over 20 years ago.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Your Customer is Job #1


A survey I read recently said that 76% of the companies they polled admitted that it is now easier than ever to switch vendors. Yikes! And I believe it. I know that our own industry has become very dynamic. Now, more than ever, our customers are open to making changes. The bad news is that this puts us in jeopardy of losing our own customers; but the good news is that it gives all of us the opportunity to attract and gain new customers as well. It’s the wild west out there when it comes to customer acquisition.

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It's Only Common Sense: Together We Can Figure This Out


The supply chain as we know it today is filled with missing links that are frankly screwing everything up. Why don’t we sit down and think about this for a minute? We can overcome many of these delays by actually working together by performing some of these actions concurrently rather than consecutively.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Super Service Your Way to Customers for Life


Our goal should be to become so treasured by our customers that when their new accountant shows up and says your customer is paying too much for your products, your customer is so enamored with your work that they tell the accountant, “Shut up and mind your own business,” then list all the reasons they will never move away from you.

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2021: ‘Let’s Hope It’s a Good One Without Any Fear’


Other year-in-review scripters are listing all the reasons why this was a horrible, terribly no-good year. It would be easy to do the same. Dan Beaulieu follows his mother's advice to look on the bright side. He lists 10 ways to see a silver lining in 2021.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Adaptability is the Key


Why is it that some people have done so well working remotely? Dan Beaulieu believes this warrants further study for a number of reasons, not the least being that it so much easier to hire people remotely, than it is having to hire locally.

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It's Only Common Sense: Why Market to Our Own Customers?


In many ways marketing to your current customers is the most important form of marketing you can do. To emphasize this point, here are seven reasons why you have to market to your own customers.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles


As we do every year on the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving, my family gathers to watch the old classic “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles,” starring Steve Martin and John Candy. Just like we do every year, we all end up shouting ideas and suggestions at the characters, encouraging better choices. This movie came out in the late ‘80s, and it is stunning to realize today how many things have changed since then. Most notably, there have been changes in terms of technology, services, and travel. Just think if they’d had cellphones. Their lives would have been so much easier.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Words of Wisdom From Bezos


There is no mistaking the fact that Jeff Bezos is a smart guy. After reading the book "Invent & Wander: The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos"—which, you can find on Amazon, of course—Dan Beaulieu shares eight key takeaways.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Here We Go Again—Pandemic Shutdown, Round Two


For a number of reasons, the U.S. and other countries around the world are entering into the second round of shutdowns, which promises to be more severe than the last time. As we approach this new chapter of shutdowns, Dan Beaulieu shares eight positives to consider.

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It’s Only Common Sense: It’s the Small Things


Great companies always pay attention to details. Dan Beaulieu shares how Seth Godin recently wrote a book titled "The Practice: Shipping Creative Work" and describes the importance and impact of receptionists.

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It’s Only Common Sense: How Leaders Find Great People


Continuing his series on leadership, Dan Beaulieu looks at what truly successful leaders are doing and saying when it comes to hiring great people. What kind of people do they hire? What qualities do they look for? And how do they match prospective candidates to their company’s needs?

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It’s Only Common Sense: Leaders Really Care


Continuing his series about leadership this week, Dan Beaulieu details a story he read in the book "212° The Extra Degree: Extraordinary Results Begin With One Small Change" by Sam Parker and Mac Anderson, as well as some examples of the power of leaders and teams from the NBA and five things that great leaders always do.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Doing What Matters


More people than ever are calling Dan Beaulieu for advice on how to spend their days. But things are not normal right now, and people—especially salespeople—need some advice on how to spend their days. Here, he shares seven lead generation steps you can take today that will make you a great salesperson tomorrow.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Making 2020 the Best Year of Your Sales Career


Even if you didn’t do your homework last year, it’s not too late to set yourself up for success—all you need are two days of planning and a lot of hard work to make 2020 the best year ever. Dan Beaulieu shares 10 surefire steps to help you be successful in 2020.

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It’s Only Common Sense: 50 Holiday Wishes for Salespeople


In the spirit of the holidays and the new year, Dan Beaulieu shares his 50 holiday wishes for salespeople, starting with, "May your products be great and on time."

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It’s Only Common Sense: Consistency Is a Virtue


It all comes down to a simple rule, which we sometimes tend to forget. The key to consistent customer service is to treat your customers as you want to be treated. And that rule applies to everyone in the company, from the owner to the customer service people.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Delivering Amazing Customer Service


As you can probably tell by the tone of some of Dan Beaulieu's recent columns, he is on a journey to discover the best customer service ideas he can find. Beaulieu shares highlights from Amaze Every Customer Every Time: 52 Tools for Delivering the Most Amazing Customer Service on the Planet by Shep Hyken.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Out the Friction!


If you were not familiar with the term “friction” when you read the title of this column, you will understand soon. Dan Beaulieu explains what friction is and how to avoid it based on the book Run Frictionless: How to Free a Founder From the Sales Role by Anthony Coundouris.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Delivering “WOW” Service


Based on The Power of WOW: How to Electrify Your Work and Your Life by Putting Service First, written by members of the Zappos team, Dan Beaulieu shares the company's Oath of Employment, which highlights outstanding customer service.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Treat Your Customers Like Prospects


After sharing a story from "Be Amazing or Go Home: Seven Customer Service Habits That Create Confidence With Everyone" by Shep Hyken, Dan Beaulieu advises readers to advise anyone who is serious about customer service to read this book and asks how you treat your customers once they're no longer prospects.

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It’s Only Common Sense: The Right Way to Brand Your Company


I have helped a lot of companies develop their brand, and I believe the best way to get started is to find their story. It’s always there; you just have to find it. It reminds me of the Michelangelo anecdote that claims he was fond of essentially saying, when faced with a huge block of marble, “There is a beautiful statue in there; it’s just my job to find it.” The same applies to a company’s story. Here are some of the questions I ask the companies I work with.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Building a Great Reputation


The first thing you have to do is make sure that you do have a great reputation. It makes no sense to brand yourself if you can’t deliver the goods. So, just like a company that has to make sure that it delivers the best overall value to its customers, as a salesperson, you have to deliver the best overall value in what you do.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Sales Management—Focus on What Is Important


A sales manager should do everything they can to focus on their sales team. They should perform at maximum proficiency at all times and ensure that they are focused on all the right things. It is recommended that good sales managers spend 90% of their time with their sales team doing three things: have one-on-one meetings with individual salespeople, lead team sales meetings, and take part in “ride-alongs.”

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It’s Only Common Sense: Where Will We Be in Five Years?


As the great economist Thomas Friedman continues to advise us, commerce dictates the flow of the world economy, and there is nothing that governments—particularly politicians—can do about it. Like water, commerce always rises to its own level. And yes, as will be demonstrated by what happens to the PCB industry, the world is indeed getting flatter.

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It’s Only Common Sense: The “It” Factor—Are You a Dedicated Salesperson?


As 2018 ends and the new year is almost upon us, we should all do a little soul searching and self-evaluation; a tune-up to make sure that we still have “it.” We should strive to find the “it factor” that makes us great salespeople, causes us to wake up every morning ready to go and make those sales, and drives us to be successful even when we don’t feel like it.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Santa’s 10 Leadership Secrets


Last week, we talked about the bad guys. This week, we are going to talk about the leadership secrets of the big guy himself—Santa Claus. After all, it is the season to be jolly. These leadership tips come from a neat little book I just read by Eric Harvey title, The Leadership Secrets of Santa Claus: How to Get Big Things Done in Your Workshop All Year Long.

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It's Only Common Sense: Advice from the Bad Guys—What Would Atilla the Hun Do?


Over the years, we have turned to many business experts, reading their words and stealing their ideas. We have talked about Peters, Godin, Tracy, and a few other business experts, and we have benefitted from all of them. Now, I thought it would be interesting to delve into the dark side to see how the bad guys got things done. How have the most evil people who ever lived managed to get so far before the forces of good finally stopped them?

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It’s Only Common Sense: What the Customer Really Means


As salespeople, one of the things that we spend a great deal of time doing is trying to interpret what the customer is telling us. We all can hear the customer and what they are saying, but so often, we don’t know what they mean.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Let’s Talk Godin


It’s the season to give thanks, and one of the things I am most thankful for this year is that Seth Godin has a new book out. Full disclosure—I am an unabashed fan of Godin.

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It’s Only Common Sense: New Leadership


The world and business have changed, and so has the way we lead. It is no longer enough to assume the role of leadership as just being in charge and telling people what to do.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Tips for Attending Trade Shows


As we near 2019 and the upcoming trade show season, Dan Beaulieu discusses some of the best ways to get the most use from your hard-earned trade show spending.

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It’s Only Common Sense: What Would It Take for Reps to Come Back to PCBs?


Simply put, getting reps to sell PCBs is getting harder all the time. Too many have been burned, the competition is stiff, performance is not up to par, etc. There are a million reasons not to sell boards.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Characteristics of a Great PCB Company


Dan Beaulieu worked with well over 100 PCB shops over my 20 years as a sales and marketing consultant. Some have been well run, while others have not been.

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It’s Only Common Sense: I Can’t Prove It, but I Know it’s True


How many times have you felt something in your gut that you know to be true, but there is no good way to prove it? You just have a sense, a feeling, an intuition, that you’re right, but there is just no way to prove it. So, with that in mind, here are 20 things that I have learned over my too many years in this business, but I can’t prove that they’re true. I just know they’re true.

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It’s Only Common Sense: 6 Ways to Guarantee a Great 2018


Here we are again. The beginning of a brand-spanking new year—2018! Who would have thought we would make it this long? But we did, and the North American PCB business is still alive and kicking.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Quality is Everything


Yes, quality is everything, and it is in everything a company does: from the way you answer the phone, to the way you present your quotes, to the way you package your product, to the way your salesperson looks and acts, to everything large, or small, that your company does for the customer.

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Ten Things EMS Providers Must do to be Great


With EMS companies, its becomes more important than ever to stand out from the rest of the crowd. So many EMS companies are vying for business that if a company wants to be truly successful, it has to come up with ways to distinguish itself. The question becomes how to do this. With that in mind here are 10 things that EMS companies must do to be truly outstanding.

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It's Only Common Sense: The All-Important Intense Customer Survey


Whether you are in the business of board fabrication or board assembly, the fact is that you are not building your own products. You are building your customers’ products, which means that you are in the business of helping your customers be successful.

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Marketing: More Important than You Think


The good news is that more PCB companies then ever before are finally figuring out that they need some marketing. I have seen this trend rise in the past few years, where once it was a rare EMS or PCB company that did marketing, to now where we are seeing more companies than ever getting involved.

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Customer vs. Vendor Relations: Here is What We’re Going to Do


Two weeks ago, I discussed PCB customers who were not happy with their vendors’ performance and last week looked at things from the other side of the issue and why PCB fabricators have a hard time being good and productive suppliers. Both sides had a lot of complaints about the other side and not much good to say. This week, in the interest of seeing a problem and solving it, we are going to talk about what we should do about it.

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It’s Only Common Sense: The Other Side of the Story


I ended last week’s column with a group of designers from a high-tech company asking me the ignoble question, “Why do all PCB shops suck?” And, I promised I would not only address that question but also explain why there are two sides to that story.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Five Things CMs Can Do to Get Business Now


Everyone is struggling to fill their factories these days, as the fight for more business heats up. In years past, contract manufacturers had a good solid base of customers they could depend on year after year. Many were satisfied to pick up a couple of customers a year as their base remained stable; however, all of that has changed.

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It’s Only Common Sense: A Frustrated PCB Customer Vents


I recently received an e-mail from a good friend at a top milaero company. Here's just one snippet: "Why do I have to call and ask, 'Where is my stuff?' If it were just one board shop, I would say good riddance and move on. But it is almost universal among our supplier base that late deliveries only get discovered when we ask. Again, what the heck? With the continued decline of the supplier base, one would think that customer service would get better. So, why not?"

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It’s Only Common Sense: 7 Reasons to Fire Your Principal


OK, so now it’s your turn. We have talked enough about making sure that as a rep, you make yourself invaluable to your principal. We have gone on ad nauseam about the various ways that reps disappoint the companies they represent. Now we are going to switch gears and put that proverbial shoe on the other foot and talk about when it’s time for you to check out, and tell your principal, “Adios, amigo.”

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It’s Only Common Sense: Seven Ways to Prospect for New Accounts


We all know that companies must grow or they will die. The same thing applies to rep firms. You must keep growing your business, adding new customers, and increasing your sales.

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It’s Only Common Sense: 7 Ways to Get Your Principals to Brag About You


If you’re a rep, the best way to be successful is to have your principals love you. Sad as it may seem, I almost never hear principals bragging about having a great rep. In fact, instead, I hear horror story after horror story about how reps aren’t doing anything, they are not bringing in the right stuff, they are hard to find when they are being signed and even harder to find after they are signed.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Seven Steps to Marketing Your Rep Company


If you want to stand out as a rep company, you must get your name out there. The good news is that practically zero rep companies ever pay any attention to marketing their companies. This means that any company that invests a little time and money in marketing will stand out, and it’s not that hard to do.

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It’s Only Common Sense: So, You Want to Be a Rep?


You’re tired of working for someone else. You have a bunch of customers who just love you and would probably follow you wherever you go. And you want to sell more than what your company has to offer; you no longer want to be restrained by the limited capabilities of one company. And then there's the money...oh, the money. You want to be a rep. Are you sure? Read on.

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It’s Only Common Sense: ITAR—The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, and the Very Ugly


Has there ever been a more nebulous qualification than ITAR? It’s one of those topics that everyone has an opinion about, but no one really understands. To some of us it’s a game with ever-changing rules, and to others it’s simply a hurdle to overcome. And for others, it is something to ignore altogether. Speaking of ignoring it, some large companies have been ignoring ITAR restrictions for years, flying right in the face of the DoD.

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It's Only Common Sense: Targeting the Ideal Customer


To successfully sell your products and services, you first must figure out who wants them. To do so, you should develop and implement what I call an ideal customer template. This requires an honest evaluation of what you do. You should first understand exactly what it is you’re selling, and then analyze who you’re selling to right now so you can identify your ideal customers.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Salespeople Selling High Tech


You may have been a director of engineering in your previous position before moving into sales; maybe you’re a full-blown technology guru. But the minute you switch over to sales, your credibility is immediately challenged. Tough and unfair as this may seem, it’s true. The reason for this is simple: If you have the word “sales” on your card, people assume you are trying to sell them something and will do anything to make that sale. Here are five guidelines for successfully selling high technology.

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It’s Only Common Sense: The Game of Sales


Managing a sales team is just like managing a sports team. You strive to put the best team on the field and then manage them to greatness. It means dealing with all the team members as individuals, figuring out how to handle each of them, from the prima donnas to the underachievers and rookies. Then you must bring them together as one cohesive unit that will work together towards one common goal of winning the game, or making forecast.

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It's Only Common Sense: Why Best Buy Will go out of Business


Have you been to Best Buy lately? If you have, you’ve seen a store that is going to go out of business, sooner than later. And it’s a shame, because it doesn’t have to happen.

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Hiring a National Sales Manager


Because of some of the major consolidations that have taken place this past year, especially one company in particular, this is also good time to be looking for direct sales people. And because so many companies are merging, there are going to be some great sales managers looking for work. Yes, folks, there are going to be some good ones out there looking, and they’re yours for the picking.

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It's Only Common Sense: The Weekly Sales Report


If you hire and manage salespeople, you need to have them write up a weekly report for you. Actually, they need to do it for themselves, because one of the true tenets of reporting is that the report is at least as important to the person writing the report as it is to the manager reading it. I am talking about a good and thorough accounting of what the salesperson has accomplished in the past week and what his plans are for the coming week.

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It's Only Common Sense: You Can’t Make Sales Calls on Mondays!


Everybody knows you can’t visit customers on Monday. And forget Friday. And you know that Wednesday is never ever a good day to visit customers, right? One guy told me that in New England they don’t like seeing vendors in the summer, so there is no reason to even try. Everybody in New York takes August off, so that’s out. If you've ever said any of these things, you don't really want to be a salesman.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Advertise Like you Mean It!


Before you spend your hard-earned dollars on advertising, make sure that you know what you want to say and how you want to say it! Make sure that you know just exactly what message you want to get across and, finally, make sure that your ads are going to move your customers to do something. Here are 10 guidelines for developing a solid advertising campaign.

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With Twitter, Ignorance Is Not Bliss


Twitter is the fastest way to get the word out about what's happening at your company. If you hire a new employee, buy a new piece of equipment, or develop a new technology, Twitter will reach the widest audience. If enough people retweet your post, then your Tweet can go viral, driving a bunch of people to your website. How else can you do that, old-timers?

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It’s Only Common Sense: Providing Super Customer Service


I recently came across a terrific book on customer service by Flavio Martins. Win the Customer: 70 Simple Rules for Sensational Service is filled with new and innovative ideas and strategies for improving your customer service. I thought this would be a great time to pass on some of the more interesting, pertinent and instructive ideas from the book. And our industry needs all the customer service help it can get!

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It’s Only Common Sense: Go Where the Business Is


Demand for sales training is on the rise lately. People are realizing that the number one problem for any company is a lack of sales (as if you’ve never heard me say that before!). So now individuals and companies are looking for ways to gain more customers, and of course the very best way to do that is to make sure that your sales team is operating on all eight cylinders. That is, they must be fully trained, armed, and prepared to get out there and win more business.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Cold Calling—There is No Short Cut!


No matter what books you read, the important thing to remember is that in the end, the salesperson is the one who makes it happen. You can read all the sales books in the world, attend all of the seminars and webinars that money can buy; but in the end, it’s the person in the mirror who has to have the ambition, the passion and the diligence to make it happen.

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It's Only Common Sense: Encourage Freedom of Thought at Your Company


Ask yourself this: Are your staff members allowed to think? Some of the new management techniques can encourage team members to leave their brains at the door. I know that my friends on the other side of this argument will strongly disagree, but I am going to stick to my guns on this one. When you start measuring every single step of an operation to the point where you are measuring minutiae, trying to save every half second of time on the manufacturing floor, you are squelching the very creativity that you claim to be encouraging.

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It’s Only Common Sense: Being Productive is Easier than you Think


Start being more productive with your time today by removing the tasks that are not dictated by someone else. Plan your days ahead of time. Get in the habit of laying out your work week, and do so two weeks ahead of time. Make appointments with the tactical scrutiny and planning of a U.S. Army general.

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It's Only Common Sense: Be a Great Leader


Ask yourself: Are you the kind of leader you would want to follow? Are you proud of the way you lead your people? Are you proud of the way you carry yourself? Are you proud of the way your people react to you?

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A Conversation with... PNC Technologies' Sam Sangani


PNC Inc. specializes in working side-by-side with visionary engineers and buyers in the high-frequency RF/microwave, audio, defense, and medical industries to create solutions for ever-advancing concepts and designs. Columnist Dan Beaulieu recently sat down with President Sam Sangani to learn what he has to say about being one of the industry's leading PCB suppliers.

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It's Only Common Sense: Ways to Ensure Failure in 2015


"I know this sounds pretty brutal, but I have to use any method I can to get your attention: If you don't change your ways, you'll go out of business in the next 12 months," writes columnist Dan Beaulieu.

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A Conversation with... ASC's Dave Lackey


American Standard Circuits' Vice President of Business Development and Technical Sales David Lackey is the company's resident guru when it comes to flex, rigid-flex, and military technology. Columnist Dan Beaulieu recently sat down with him to discuss the technology and its importance to ASC's growth and industry growth in general.

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It's Only Common Sense: It's Forecasting Time Again


If you want to be successful you must do a forecast. You must understand your customers, their buying habits, and their ordering patterns. To predict what your customers are going to do next year you must know what they did this year and the year before that.

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It's Only Common Sense: Be Unreasonable


To be great you must to be unreasonable. You must be the one to expect more from yourself and those around you than most are comfortable giving. You must get off your butt, get out of your comfort zone, and make things happen that no one thought possible.

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It's Only Common Sense: No MBA? You've Got TV!


Who needs Harvard Business School when everything you need to get a full-fledged MBA can be found on your television set? That's right, everything you need to know about business is available with the click of a remote control.

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It's Only Common Sense: The Future is Now


I love watching the future unfold right before my eyes. I've been on a technology kick lately--reading everything I can get my hands on about new and exciting innovations. I came across a piece in this month's copy of Wired that really blew me away.

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Saving the North American PCB Industry


Enough is enough: It's time for us to take our industry back. I think we can do it. We have more than a good chance of earning our way back.

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It's Only Common Sense: Saving the N.A. PCB Industry


Columnist Dan Beaulieu comments, "Enough is enough: It's time for us to take our industry back. I think we can do it. We have more than a good chance of earning our way back. As Thomas Friedman would say, the world is flat and things have equalized. We can now make our move and ensure we get the PCB industry in this country back up and running."

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It's Only Common Sense: Predictions for 2014


As 2013 comes to a close, Columnist Dan Beaulieu takes a look back at the past 12 months and reflects on what's happened, evolving trends, and what both mean for the coming new year.

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It's Only Common Sense: All I Want for Christmas is a 3D Printer


While Christmas shopping this week, Columnist Dan Beaulieu writes, "I spied the future, something we've all heard and talked about for the past couple of years at the end of one of the aisle. It's called 'The Cube' and it is the first 3D printer I've ever laid eyes on."

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It's Only Common Sense: Take My Life, Please


I'm done with passwords. I just don't care anymore; take anything you want from me. It's just not worth it. If you want to sneak into my house and steal $2.99 movies from my Apple account, do it! If you want to go to my audible account and steal a book, then be my guest--have a ball.

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It's Only Common Sense: What's Fair is Fair


In the past month I have heard no less than three times about companies asking--demanding--that their PCB suppliers take 20% off the price of their boards. Not just the new part numbers, mind you, but the part numbers they've been building for years. Really?

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It's Only Common Sense: It's All About the Story


A company's story explains what the firm does, what it stands for, why it's different from other companies, why it's better than other companies, and why people should choose its products over competitors.

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It's Only Common Sense: Murder in the Sky


I was horrified to read in the papers the other day that the FAA is about to cancel its ban on cell phone use during flights. Soon we'll be able to make calls while the plane is flying, which means we are about to lose the last bit of silent sanctuary the world offers us.

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It's Only Common Sense: Get Out of the Box!


Columnist Dan Beaulieu writes, "We do the same things over and over again expecting different results. Very little thinking is done outside the box in our industry; this is something I deal with all of the time."

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It's Only Common Sense: Social Media - It's Time


Like some of you, Dan Beaulieu knows that social media is something that he needs to get involved in, but just doesn't know how to get started. One book can solve his problem, and yours.

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It's Only Common Sense: Bring the Orphans Home


There are all kinds of reasons why we lose customers--it just happens. Should you just forget about these lost customers? Assume they are long-lost orphans and move on to greener, pastures? Dan Beaulieu says to do everything you can, whenever possible, to bring them home.

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It's Only Common Sense: Being the Best


Where do you rank as a salesperson? Are you doing the best job you can? Whether you have been in sales for 20 days or 20 years there are things you should always be doing to ensure you're performing at a maximum.

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It's Only Common Sense: A Great Time to Sell Your Shop


There is a great deal of renewed interest in American board fabricators and, interestingly enough, those most interested are as we say in Maine, "from away." European companies are particularly interested in buying into the American market.

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It's Only Common Sense: Thank You, IPC


Kudos to IPC for trying to raise awareness when it comes to International Traffic in Arms (ITAR) regulations. The association recently hosted a workshop with the country’s leading defense contractors in an attempt to educate them about ITAR in terms of PCBs.

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It's Only Common Sense: It's the Little Things


A great company takes everything it does seriously. It considers everything important, from the way they answer their phone, to the way they handle customer issues, to the way they package and ship their boards.

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It's Only Common Sense: An Offer They Can't Refuse


For the past couple of weeks, Dan Beaulieu's been talking about the rep/principal situation which, these days, he says is as polarized as the Republicans and the Democrats or the rivalry of all rivalries--the Red Sox and the Yankees. But now, he says, it's time to declare peace.

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It's Only Common Sense: Be Great


Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, a French critic, journalist, and novelist, once stated, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." When I look at our industry Karr's observation seems shockingly accurate.

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It's Only Common Sense: Ways to Make a Rep Love You


Dan Beaulieu answers questions from his readers: How do I make the rep/principal relationship work? How do I create a successful partnership between these entities? How do I change things around so that instead of hating board shops, reps love board shops?

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It's Only Common Sense: Why Reps Hate Board Shops


For the past couple of years, I've noticed that it's much more difficult to get independent sales reps interested in selling for board shops. One of my offerings, a task that is becoming my least favorite, is trying to find reps for shops. My fee for this is getting higher every year because it's getting more and more challenging.

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It's Only Common Sense: Focus on the Positive


Poor salespeople also find a way to make themselves feel better for failing. They choose to believe what they see in the news. It's as if they hear about a recession and think, "Aha! That's why I'm failing; that's why I can't win any business." But when I talk to successful people, they don't even discuss such things.

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It's Only Common Sense: Can't We All Just Get Along?


"DAM" thinking occurs when a person feels it is more important to push his or her own agenda than it is to contribute to the success of the company's agenda. A person or company with this type of thinking will end in failure.

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It's Only Common Sense: When Not on the Road


The time you spend in preparation can be as important (if not more) than the time you spend selling. It's all about selling. Here are 10 things you should be doing on those days when you’re not on the road in front of customers.

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Could Jack Welch run a Board House?


No, I don't think Jack Welsh could run a board house. He would have a hard time dealing with the challenges that we in the board business face. First, he would have to face his own people. Then he would have to deal with cash flow. For the first time, he would know how much it costs to hire that admin. And he would have to pay bills on time.

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Special Edition - It's Only Common Sense: Not Leaving Japan


The events in Japan quickly became very personal for Dan Beaulieu last week. His son, Damon, a teacher in Morioka, Japan, gives his first-hand account of the events that followed the record-breaking earthquake and tsunami that changed an entire country.

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It's Only Common Sense: A Simple Plan


If you want to be successful in sales you have to know your customers. You have to know what their needs are, what problems they face and what they consider a good vendor.

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Multilayer Takes Aim at Military, Niche Products


Multilayer Technology has seen some good years and some tough years. But while other companies chose to hunker down and merely weather the recession's storm, Multilayer chose to enhance the firm's technologies and capabilities. The company recently achieved AS 9100 certification, and management continues to plan technology upgrades.

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It's Only Common Sense: Success Is Up To You


This week, Dan Beaulieu gives you the cold, hard facts: Success in sales is entirely up to you. That's right, success or failure all depends on only one person--you.

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It's Only Common Sense: Getting Great Reps


Do you want to find some great representatives? Its not easy, but Dan can tell you how in this week's new column. This weeks is a must-listen: Listen for the free offer Dan mentions inside!

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It's Only Common Sense: Get New Customers


The key to success in the current economy is winning new customers. Current customers are ordering less, so you've got to grow your customer base. American companies are realizing that they have to look out for one another if things are going to improve--creating a new sense of nationalism in this country.

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It's Only Common Sense: Cancel Sales Travel, Indeed!


Companies need business now more than ever, but many are actually canceling sales travel! Dan Beaulieu has a serious problem with this senario. Sales travel is essential to the health of your company--it also lets your customers know that you're still alive and kicking. Be assured: There is business out there for companies willing to make a show of force and go after it aggressively.

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It's Only Common Sense: Getting That Story Out


You can have a great product and still not succeed in this industry. This week, Dan offers three economical and effective ways during these tough times to get the story of your products out to the rest of the world.

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It's Only Common Sense: The Annual Meeting


Its that time of year again--if you're going to have a successful 2009, you'd better start working on it now...right now. This week's edition of It's Only Common Sense tells you how to get prepared for a successful 2009!

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It's Only Common Sense: What About This Price Thing?


Dan Beaulieu asks, "What are we going to do about always going for the lowest price at any cost?" The real cost of going for the lowest prices are real--very real, indeed. The customer may always be right, but when that customer insists on the lowest priced product, at the expense of quality, then that customer is not putting out the best product possible.

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Column: It's Only Common Sense from Dan Beaulieu "How to Motivate Your Salespeople"


Want to get the most from your sales team? Listen to this week's "Its Only Common Sense: How to Motivate Your Salespeople" and find out.

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Dan Beaulieu Column: "The Great Solution Is Staring You in the Face"


Why do we refuse to buy into a great solution to our problems even when it's staring us in the face?

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Dan Beaulieu Column: Be the Best You Can Be


Are you the best salesperson you can be? If not why not...its your choice.

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Dan Beaulieu: It's Only Common Sense "From Cold Call to Customer Base"


Do you hate cold calling?

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Dan Beaulieu's "It's Only Common Sense": This Is What I believe


Listen to this week's It's Only Common Sense column from Dan Beaulieu "

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Dan Beaulieu's "It's Only Common Sense": Yes, You Still Need a Brochure!


o you think the web site takes care of everything? That you no longer need a brochure? Think again my friend.

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Dan Beaulieu's "It's Only Common Sense": Old School vs. New School


Some companies are old school and losing while other companies are new school and thriving

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New Column from Dan Beaulieu: There's A New World A-Comin'


The world is changing -- are you ready?

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Column by Dan Beaulieu: Are YOU the problem? Making that plan work.


Learn how to succeed in making your business plan work.

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Want to hire great reps? Listen to Dan Beaulieu's latest column.


Want to hire great reps? Dan Beaulieu takes the mystery out of finding and signing the right sales reps for your company.

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Listen to Dan Beaulieu: "Beware of the bad guys."


Listen to Dan Beaulieu's column ths week. Beware the bad guys. Be careful, be very very careful, if that job offer seems too good to be is...

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