Speaking from Experience


Thou Shalt Not Invest Foolishly: Confessions of a Business Professor
- by Khalil Matta -

Unlike most books on investing, Management Professor Khalil Matta's book, Thou Shalt Not Invest Foolishly: Confessions of a Business Professor, details the author's blunders over the past 15 years rather focusing on his successes.

Instead of describing yet one more get-rich scheme, Matta describes typical mistakes made by novice and experienced investors alike-ones that many readers will no doubt relate to. In fact, says Matta, most investors know the error of their ways-e.g. they know that certain investment moves might not be wise ones-yet often cannot avoid committing them. His book tells of a renowned professor in a leading business school who is prone to making such investing blunders

.Thou Shalt Not Invest Foolishly goes beyond what to do and what not to do-it explores why we repeatedly make investment mistakes and suggests ways to avoid them. Matta, a management information systems professor, develops a portrait of an investor's psyche and stimulates the reader to reflect on his or her own investment decisions. He describes how fear, greed and falling in love with a stock can temper a person's judgment and lead investors astray.

By making fun of himself, Matta-who has no formal financial training but a lot of investing experience-adds humor to a serious subject matter. Instead of discussing financial theories and investment strategies, Matta shares the lessons he has learned the hard way.

Amazingly, says Matta, many people make bad investment decisions over and over again. This is particularly alarming when it involves retirement money. He asks, how can someone treat decisions that impact his or her financial well being as a hobby without assessing and understanding the risks involved? For more information on the book, please visit www.investingconfessions.com

Loyalty-Based Selling
- by Tim Smith ('87) -

Energy invested in current customers yields five times better returns than energy invested in gaining new ones. The first priority should be securing the loyalty of one's current customers-not in searching for new ones.

Sales representatives may spend months-even years-trying to acquire a single new customer. What they don't realize is that it takes just seconds to lose one.

Dollars go out the back door as fast-or faster-than they come in the front door. Sales reps waste time trying to win back lost customers. They lower price and make costly concessions to do so. Sales reps fail to ask their customers the question: What will it take to provide you with the best service you've ever received? Consider this: In all of your business transactions as a customer, has any sales rep ever asked you that question?

This step is so simple, yet many sales reps rarely use it. Did you directly ask your customers or did you infer what their answers would be based on your intimate knowledge of them? With the best intentions, you try to provide excellent service for your customers based on what you think they want. You may be going 100 miles for your customers, but down the wrong street.

Most organizations spend millions of dollars researching what it will take toget customer satisfaction. They send out customer surveys. They interpretresults. But once they have the results, most haven't a clue what to do with them. The good ones implement new programs geared to improve service and customer satisfaction.

Do these programs work? For some customers they do; for others they don't. Every customer is different. Each has unique preferences and a unique definition of what "the best service ever" means.

When a corporation asks the question, "What will it take to provide you with the best service you've ever received?" it is typically after they've worked with the customer for a period of time. You, however, can simply ask your customers this question before you start doing business with them. You can treat your customers as they wish from the start. So, by asking just one question, you can save your company millions of research dollars. And, you have clearly differentiated yourself from the competition.

Products from one company to the next are often similar, so differentiation in other areas is the deciding factor in a buying decision. Congratulations. You have just taken a huge first step ahead of your competition.

Tim Smith is a field sales trainer at Stryker Corporation, where he set an all-time record for annual sales. He is also a motivational speaker and the author of Loyalty-Based Selling. To contact Smith, send email to: mail@loyaltybasedselling.com

- Excerpted from Sales and Marketing Excellence magazine.