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Small Business Expert Interview — Joel Dubinski, Head of SMB Sales at InterCall

Dollar Days Blog is pleased to present the small business expertise of Joel Dubinski, Head of SMB Sales at InterCall, a company that offers conference call solutions for businesses including audio conferencing, web conferencing, and video conferencing.

Joel Dubinski, Head of SMB Sales at InterCall

Joel Dubinski, Head of SMB Sales at InterCall

Dollar Days Blog (DDB) – Please provide a brief bio and description of your company.

Joel Dubinski - I drive InterCall’s growing Small-Medium Size Business presence while maintaining its emphasis on customer’s needs and quality of service. I oversee a team of Inbound sales representatives responsible for InterCall’s online sales,  while also managing multiple teams that are solving the collaboration gaps of InterCall’s small-medium size business.  During my time at InterCall, I helped form a strategic partnership with Huddle creating the world’s first unified collaboration, communication and social networking platform.

InterCall is the trusted advisor to the small-to-medium sized business owner. Our company specializes in providing a variety of toll-free  audio, web and video conferencing solutions, facilitating thousands of meetings each day.  Our investment in the latest technology and bridging systems enable our clients to enjoy the highest level of quality and service from each and every conference call and web conference.

DDB - What is web conferencing and how can small businesses benefit from using it to run more effective, efficient meetings?

Dubinski – Web conferencing is an essential tool for small businesses.  It allows them to reach a larger customer base without increasing their overhead costs.  Web conferencing can demonstrate to their audience that they are in tune with advancements in technology and are willing to use something new and innovative to increase their productivity.  With the use of web conferencing a small business can shorten their business cycle which will lead to an overall stronger output in sales, growth and reach.

DDB – How can web conferencing help SMBs project the image of successful, stable companies?

Dubinski - Many SMBs are start ups in every sense of the word.  SMB owners may be working on a shoestring budget or even working from home,  all the while trying to do the best they can to generate a perception of an established business so they can compete with larger companies.  A professional looking and sounding web conferencing service conveys the perception of professionalism and an established business.  Instead of using a sometimes unreliable home phone, landline or mobile phone to conference multiple parties in and possibly incur static or lost connections, a web conferencing service ensures clear, effective and efficient conference calls every time.  Calls can be recorded, many parties can dial in and video conferencing can easily be added to enhance meetings.

DDB – What are some of the lessons that InterCall has learned from providing conferencing services to small businesses over the past 15 years?

Dubinski - Personally, I have learned that some business needs do not change. Regardless of how big or small a business is, people will constantly be looking for better ways to communicate and collaborate.   InterCall is unique because our mission is to help provide conferencing and collaboration services to all businesses to help them communicate more efficiently and effectively regardless of size.  It is also true that although a business may start as what is labeled SMB, it has the potential to grow into a larger enterprise company. InterCall wants to be there every step of the way and help them achieve their success.

DDB - Are there any new/exciting developments coming down the pipeline that SMBs should know about in the web conferencing market?

Dubinski – As web conferencing becomes more and more evolved, the ways to communicate change.  The addition of VOIP and audio broadcasting to web conferencing solutions are becoming more popular as are virtual webinars.  As web conferencing is becoming more and more commoditized these enhancements will help different providers differentiate themselves.

DDB – How can SMBs choose a web conferencing provider? What should they look for and what questions should they ask?

Dubinski - As SMBs start to choose a web conferencing provider there are a few things they should be looking for.

First, does the  company have multiple options for web conferencing solutions?  You do not want to be pigeon-holed into one platform if your needs change and evolve.

Secondly, SMBs should be looking to make sure that their web provider has a strong integration with audio conferencing as these services complement each other.

Finally, one should make sure the company is putting money back into its own products/services for enhancements and R&D, like InterCall does.

In regards to functionality  SMBs should be asking the following:

  1. Is it easy to use?
  2. Is there a low barrier to entry?
  3. Is it a scalable product?
  4. Is this for small collaboration groups, large webinars, or both?
  5. Does it have the “core features” that almost all platforms have (Audio integration, App/desktop sharing, presentation uploads, chat capability, email integration)?

Those are some of the basic inquires I would be asking if I were purchasing a web conferencing solution.

Does your company use a web conferencing or teleconferencing product to communicate with customers, colleagues or vendors? Share your experiences and comments below!

December 7, 2009   No Comments

Small Business Expert Interview – Mark Stevens, CEO of MSCO

MSCO CEO Mark Stevens

MSCO CEO Mark Stevens

Dollar Days Blog is pleased to share the small business expertise of Mark Stevens, CEO of MSCO, sales columnist for Entrepreneur.com and bestselling author of Your Marketing Sucks.

Dollar Days Blog (DDB) – Please summarize your business expertise in a nutshell.

Mark Stevens – My expertise is to identify and address what it takes for a business to grow and to move from one level of profitable revenues to the next.

DDB - Your bio indicates hat you did not attend business school, but that you got your business education on the streets of Queens. What did you learn there that helped you to succeed in business?

Stevens – The streets provide a far more enriching education than Harvard Business School. They teach you to learn from people who may not look “polished” enough to help you. To expect the unexpected. To act when your back is against the wall. To be prepared for random acts of opportunity and challenge.

DDB – Please explain your idea (written in a recent blog post) that less is more when it comes to advertising.

Stevens – Find a single key point about your business or product. For example, Walmart has chosen ‘low price leader’ as its single key point. Then push the accelerator on that. Avoid the temptation to tell everything about your business. The key messages will be lost in fog!

DDB - You’ve achieved considerable success with your book, “Your Marketing Sucks”. What are some of the key takeaways from the book?

Stevens – Throw out the traditional marketing playbook. It was written by professors who have never marketed/sold anything. Most important, measure everything you do in terms of revenue generation and stop all initiatives that don’t produce measurable results. ROI is king!

DDB – Lots of people might think that the title of your new book (God is a Salesman) is pretty cheeky. How could an omnipotent being, Creator of the Universe be a salesman?

Stevens – He is not really, and I address that right up front. But he teaches us the power of belief and faith, which are both critical for every businessperson.

DDB - What is the single most important thing that every small businessperson should do and why?

Stevens – Make the decision to be a big business person. Small business people work for themselves. Big businesspeople build a team to work for them….and to build their wealth.

What do you think of Mark Stevens’ advice? Is less really more when it comes to marketing? Join the discussion and leave your comments below!

November 30, 2009   2 Comments

Cyber Monday Specials – Electronics

cyber_monday It’s that time of the year again! DollarDays is offering some huge savings on wholesale products. We feel small businesses should be able to save as well.

Listed below are some great products never before offered at low wholesale prices. Stock up now!

$35 Coby MP3 Player – Coupon Code CMP35

$95 Advent GPS with 4′ inch display – Coupon code CGPS95

Don’t forget, orders over $349 get FREE shipping!

Looking for more ideas?

Fleece Blankets $3.99

Wholesale Toys & Games – Huge Savings

Wholesale Women’s Perfume – Closeout Prices

November 30, 2009   No Comments

Frugal Living Tip – Checking Out the Library

How often have you bought a book, started reading, realized it isn’t that good, but stuck with it doggedly anyhow just to ‘get your money’s worth’?

And even if you end up liking a book you buy, how many times do you pull the book down to reread once it’s found a place in your bookshelf?

It may seem like an old-fashioned suggestion, but you could save a good deal of time and money just by checking out the selection at your library.

Since you don’t pay a nickel to borrow a bike from the library, there’s no cost to stopping after 50 pages if you’re just not engaged.

And if you’re the type of person who likes to be surrounded by books at home, well the library could still prove to be a gold mine. Libraries frequently hold used book sales to clear out space for new arrivals. Show up early and you might find a good selection for a small fraction of the cost you’d pay to buy the book online or in a store.

These days, libraries have jumped wholeheartedly into the 21st Century. Many libraries have sophisticated websites that let you browse for books, audiobooks, CDs and movies online, then have your selections delivered to your closest library branch.

Some libraries, like the New York Public Library, are even experimenting with downloadable media – meaning you don’t even have to take a trip to the physical library branch to pick an audiobook or some music. The concept of libraries providing downloadable media may only gain force as e-book readers like the Kindle become more widely available.

Of course, the question of whether or not to use the library will come down to convenience for some people. It’s certainly easier to click a mouse on Amazon or Netflix and have a book or DVD arrive in the mail, but going to the library can be a pleasant experience in itself. While browsing the shelves, you might come across a book or movie you would never have considered. You might run into friends from the community or find out about a lecture or other event that the library is hosting.

If you haven’t been to your local library in a while, stop by or just visit the website to see what’s going on. You might just find the library can fill most of your reading, viewing and listening needs – saving you some substantial cash in the process.

How often do you use your library? Have you borrowed videos, CDs or audiobooks? Have you tried downloading anything online from your library? Has it helped you save money? Share your experiences, rants or raves in the Comments section below!

November 27, 2009   2 Comments

Keeping Your Hands Clean is Tough – Hand Sanitizer on SALE

This week, we’re having a huge sale on wholesale hand sanitizer. With the recent outbreak of H1N1, it’s becoming common for businesses, schools and many other public establishments to supply some free hand sanitizer.

Buy 24, Get 24 FREE!

Use code: HAND24

Shop Now!

Hand Sanitizer. 8 oz., With Vitamin E & Other Moisturizers, Kills Germs Without Water, Ethyl Alcohol 62%

2 Days Only! Ends 11/25

Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter for daily updates of specials and sales. We’ll be announcing some Thanksgiving specials, Black Friday and Cyber Monday savings.

November 24, 2009   1 Comment

Small Business Expert Interview – Adam Ishaeik, Hunter/Wellman CEO

Hunter/Wellman CEO Adam Ishaeik

Hunter/Wellman CEO Adam Ishaeik

Dollar Days Blog is pleased to share the small business expertise of Adam  Ishaeik, CEO of Hunter/Wellman, a company that assists small businesses with acquiring federal contracts.

Dollar Days Blog (DDB) – Can you please provide some brief background on yourself and your company?

Adam Ishaeik - I have been involved with federal business development for 6 years.  After my I received my MBA degree, I did a short stint with a large federal contractor and worked at the Department of State doing software release management as well as proposal support tasks.  I really enjoyed the business development aspects of the job. While developing small business subcontracting plans (which outline how a large business will allocate work to the small business community), I realized there were a lot of small businesses that would benefit from having sales support in the Washington DC area.

I broke off from the large contractor, and started working with small business vendors seeking to do business with the government.  As my success as a consultant grew, I knew the best way to grow was to incorporate as a company, bring in as many agency experts as possible and offer a full range of services to assist companies with their federal business development activities.

Thus, Hunter Wellman was born and we are proud to announce FY 09 was our best year to date.

1. Please give your own bio and describe your company’s business in a nutshell.
I’ve been involved with federal business development for 6 years.  After my I received my MBA degree, I did a short stint with a large federal contractor and worked at the Department of State doing software release management as well as proposal support tasks.  I really enjoyed the business development aspects of the job and while developing small business subcontracting plans (these plans outline how a large business will allocate work to the small business community – required for large contracts), realized there were a lot of small businesses that would benefit from having sales support in the Washington DC area.  I broke off from the large contractor, and started working with small business vendors seeking to do business with the government.  As my success as a consultant grew, I knew the best way to grow was to incorporate as a company, bring in as many agency experts (usually retired individuals who spent their careers at a targeted agency) as possible and offer a full range of services to assist companies with their federal business development activities.  Thus, Hunter Wellman (www.hunterwellman.com) was born and we are proud to announce FY 09 was our best year to date.

DDB - How big is the opportunity out there to win federal contracts?

Ishaeik – The Federal Government is the biggest customer in the world, with a yearly budget of over 500 billion dollars.  I would say the opportunity is huge.

DDB - What kinds of businesses have a chance at winning these contracts? For instance, is federal contracting just for defense industry businesses?

Ishaeik – The government utilizes almost every type of service and product imaginable, from janitorial work to cutting edge information technology design. Every federal agency procures a wide array of services and products from the private sector.  To get an idea if your service or product is in demand; simply go to www.fbo.gov and type your service or product into the search field.

DDB - What are some of the techniques and tactics that you recommend small businesses use to compete against much larger competitors in seeking federal contracts?

Ishaeik – The first item is to assess whether the federal government is a desired client.  It is a labor intensive activity to break into this market, however, once entry is achieved – the company can rely on steady income as many contracts are up to 5 years in length.

Second, treat the government like you would any other client – with a lot more bureaucracy and red tape.  The importance of building relationships with the users of your services and products, offering a unique product or service, providing competitive pricing, and all the other tried and true rules of effective business development all apply.  The element that separates government contracting from the private sector is the existence of comprehensive rules and regulations outlined in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and the contracting offices that are set up for each agency and sub-agency engaged in private sector procurements to enforce these rules.

Third, identify agencies that procure your offerings and the program managers who represent the end users.  It is critical to meet with these program managers to build trust and reduce the risk in their mind of sourcing their requirements to unknown entities.  The best way to do this is to bring in a connected sales professional who can navigate you through these waters – competent ones run about 250 K a year.  If your sales budget does not accommodate this figure, contract with a company like Hunter Wellman to manage this activity for you – there are a lot of federal business development companies in the beltway, all with differing specialties that can assist your sales efforts.

Lastly, establish a contracting vehicle such as a GSA Schedule, a SBA small business certification that allows sole source procurements (i.e. 8a, HUBZONE, SDVOB), or any other MAS IDIQ (Multiple Award Schedule Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity).  Having a federal contracting vehicle in hand will make your life a lot easier when dealing with the contracting officers.  You can make a brilliant sale to a program manager, but when the purchase order is handed to the contracting officer and they have no vehicle to source your services, you run the risk of the program being publically posted (www.fbo.gov) and attracting hundreds of competitors.

DDB – What are the opportunities for small businesses to partner with large companies to win government contracts?

Ishaeik – This is a great way to get started – partnering with a prime contractor.  The opportunities are huge, but you have to bring something of value to the table.  Relevant past performance is the most valuable thing you can bring.  For example, if a large prime contractor is pursuing a contract with the Transportation Security Administration, the big company may seek small businesses that have experience at the agency to provide inside information and strong qualifications to their proposal.  Another option is to presenting resumes of individuals at your small business who have experience at the targeted agency and offer their support with proposal development.  If your small business pursues this option, make sure you get a legal review of the teaming and subcontractor agreements or you run the risk of putting significant resources into helping the large company win the contract without any guaranteed work.

DDB – Finally, what is the single most important piece of advice you think small business owners and executives need to know?

Ishaeik – Be patient, work smart, think positively and recognize the value that building relationships with government procurers can have for your business development units.

What do you think of Ishaeik’s advice? Have federal contracts been a valuable source of revenue for your small business? If not, does Ishaeik’s advice inspire you to try to capture a  federal contract or partner with a larger company on work for the federal government? Share your thoughts and comments below!

November 23, 2009   2 Comments

Frugal Living Tip – Discover Where Kids Eat Free

Children may be priceless to their parents, but the cost of raising them can be calculated.

According to the BabyCenter calculator, a baby born in 2010 to a Midwestern middle-income family will cost more than $230,000 to raise and send to a public college.

So moms, dads and other adult caregivers can surely appreciate any Frugal Living tips that help them whittle away at that hefty bill while simultaneously enjoying a dinner out and freedom from cooking and doing the dishes.

Here is where the Internet comes in handy with sites like Kids Eat For (available via app on iPhone and iPod Touch) and KidsMealDeals.com giving you zip code searchable information on restaurants where children eat for free or get dining discounts.

Kids Eat For advertises itself as the largest and most accurate collection of listings where children eat for free or get special meal deals.

Since meal specials can depend on the day of the week, clicking on any Kids Eat For city brings up a calendar with top meal deals for Sunday, Monday, etc. In Philadelphia, for example, there are 27 listed Sunday meal deals. You can click links at the bottom of the calendar to see all the meal deals for any given day. Check back often because deals may be time-sensitive. For example, a Boston Market kids-eat-free deal was shown as expiring three days after we checked the site.

It looks like Kids Eat For may indeed have more listings than some of its competitors. For example, KidsMealDeals.com did have the Boston Market deal listed on its site for Philadelphia, but it lacked listings for some of the local restaurants featured at Kids Eat For. The difference could be attributed to the fact that KidsMealDeals.com returned results only for Philadelphia proper, whereas Kids Eat For showed deals in the greater Philadelphia region. (You can get around this geographical limitation at KidsMealDeals.com by searching within the radius of a particular zip code.)

Of course, Internet sites are constantly changing. No doubt both these players will seek to improve their offerings and new competitors will enter the market. For example, a different site called Kids Eat Free (searchable only by state) seems to rely more on user-submitted content.

Want some more choices? You can also try searching the listings at My Kids Eat Free or Coupon Divas’ list of places where Kids Eat Free. Another good idea is to look at online forums such as the one at Mommy Savers where site visitors contribute suggestions for places where kids eat for free.  (Be sure to check the dates on some of the forum contributions though because certain deals are for a limited time only…)

It’s also important to look at the specific rules for each restaurant since kids’ dining deals may be limited to a specific time or a specific day.

Do you regularly seek out special dining deals for your children? What’s the best free or discounted kids meal deal you’ve ever encountered? Do you know another website or app that has good information on discounted/free meal deals for children? Share your tips in the Comments section below!

November 20, 2009   No Comments

Small Business Advice – Developing a ‘Free Soup’ Strategy

Unless you have some sort of exclusive patent, chances are that your business competes on quality.

This means that whether you run a dry cleaning company, a restaurant, an office supply retailer or a gardening business, your customer has a number of choices on where to go to buy essentially the same product or service.

So how can you stand out from the pack? Obviously, you should stake your reputation on quality, friendly customer service, professionalism, good prices and so forth.

But in addition to all that, John Jantsch, author of the Duct Tape Marketing blog, believes you also need a ‘Free Soup Strategy‘.

For Jantsch, ‘free soup’ is shorthand for an unexpected bonus that exceeds your customer’s expectations and leaves her not only satisfied, but so impressed that she raves about your business both online (email mesages, social marketing sites, review forums) and offline (conversations with her friends and family, casual recommendations to people who need a similar service).

In some cases, this unexpected bonus could literally be ‘free soup’. That’s what happened with Jantsch and his wife when they ate at a local restaurant and received a complimentary unexpected pint of soup to-go along with their bill.

In the comments section of his Duct Tape Marketing post, some of Jantsch’s readers chimed in with examples of ‘free soup’ strategies they use themselves or have experienced as customers – a house inspector who gives his customers a free re-inspection, a web design company that provides its customers with a bonus favicon as a surprise at the end of the project, a home decor company that gives soaps and candles to its clients.

Your ‘free soup’ doesn’t need to be expensive or elaborate, but it should relate in some way to the products or service you provide. If you sell bicycles, maybe you could provide a free 6-month maintenance offer that would have the added benefit of bringing your customers back to your store. If you do outdoor landscaping, you could give your clients a bonus potted plant for indoor use.

It’s also important to know the surprise factor in the ‘free soup’ strategy. If you sell bicycles with a 6-month maintenance offer bundled in, that might be an attractive offer, but it’s not exactly ‘free soup’. ‘Free soup’ is giving the customer something unexpected after the purchase so that he or she feels a sense of satisfaction at getting what he or she has paid for and more.

What are some of the ways you go above and beyond expectations for your clients? Do ‘free soup’ strategies impress you as a customer? Tell us about your experiences on both sides of the ‘free soup’ equation in the Comments section below!

November 16, 2009   No Comments

Frugal Living Tip – How to Get Rid of Credit Card Debt

Living beyond your means is always a bad idea — eventually the bills will get out of control and you’ll find yourself facing a mountain of debt.

Credit card debt can be especially destructive. Miss a payment and your interest rate could skyrocket. But even if you make all your payments, making just the minimum necessary payment could stretch out your debt for years and pile up heavy interest charges.

(One blogger for The Paycheck Chronicles recently calculated that it would take more than 25 years to pay off $5,710 in credit card debt while making only minimum payments!)

So the best Frugal Living advice is simply to avoid credit card debt altogether. Don’t buy something on credit unless you have the resources to pay the whole credit card bill when it arrives.

Of course, that’s easier said than done — especially if you already have credit card debt. Then the big question is how to get out of debt fast – paying off your outstanding balances and reducing interest costs.

That’s where a recent article on Cash Money Life comes in handy. Blogger Patrick boils down a get-out-of-credit-card-debt strategy into a series of easy steps including:

- Stop using your cards while you pay off the debt. You won’t save your financial ship from sinking by bailing unless you plug the holes that are letting more water flow into the boat.

- Transfer balance to a 0% interest card. If you can a zero percent promotional rate from a new credit card, make the switch. You’ll pay down your debt much faster if you can put a brake on interest charges for a little while. Just be sure to try to pay down as much as possible before the promotional period ends and interest rates kick in again on whatever debt you haven’t managed to pay off.

Patrick’s other ideas including getting organized, setting a budget and making multiple payments each period to pay off the debt just a little faster.

Of these suggestions, the budgeting one is especially important. If you don’t have a budget, it’s unlikely that you’ll stay out of debt for long simply because you won’t have a good handle on cash inflows and expenses. So take the time to map out how much you can afford to spend each month and then stick to living within your means.

Have any of these strategies worked for you? What approaches have you used to get out of credit card debt and stay debt-free? Share your ideas in the Comments section below!

November 13, 2009   1 Comment

Snuggies are the New Birth Control! Buy Fleece Blankets

Marc-Gold-Fleece-BlanketsThat’s right, you’ve watched the Snuggie commercials on TV. You may have probably heard co-workers, friends and even family members making fun of them. So do yourself a favor and save yourself from the ridicule and go with something more traditional.

Marc Gold fleece blankets are 100% polyester fleece offering maximum warmth through the winter months. You cannot find these blankets anyplace else other than DollarDays.

Our exclusive blanket is a warm and cuddly fleece blanket in a generous size of 50″ x 60″. Packed in 6 assorted solid colors: Royal blue, Hot Pink, Grey, Red, Tan and Light Blue. 24 pieces per case.
Our blanket is a 300 gsm weight – not too heavy, not too light. Just right for a cuddle on the couch or your favorite chair. Just perfect to keep the chill off!
The tight whip stitch on the edges will keep your blanket from losing it’s shape throughout the cold winter season.

Winter is here and nothing says warm and comfy like a nice fleece blanket. Get them while you’re cold and Start shopping now!

November 5, 2009   2 Comments