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January 31, 2012

Written by Bob Meyer, Editor of BarterNews

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Trade Exchange Clients Should Be Seen As Appreciating Assets

An excellent way to find more customers immediately is to focus on the many sales opportunities available through your trade exchange. Give this powerful marketing conduit the time and attention it deserves.

One way is by looking at these new clients as an appreciating and highly valuable asset. Suppose, for example, you frequent a trade exchange member-restaurant once a month for a four-person dinner. Your worth to that restaurant is about $1,900 a year in trade. Or $9,500 for five years! And that�s just the tip of the iceberg, because as a satisfied customer you will also be an enthusiastic salesperson for that restaurant. Through your word-of-mouth advertising, others will frequent the eatery � both cash and trade customers.

As a pleased customer, if you sell just one colleague on becoming a regular customer your value to that establishment doubles. And that�s not accounting for your colleague�s word of mouth referrals. To owners of all types of business it makes sense to estimate the value of long-term customers and make it a goal to secure more of them.

Figuring the value of a customer is done by taking their average yearly transactions multiplied by the number of years you expect their business, and then multiply by two to take referrals into account. Now can you see why these customers are easily your most valuable assets?

While not every trade exchange member will spend the amount given in the example, many businesses can acquire ten or twenty new trading customers and substantially raise their aggregate total of extra business per year. These accumulated trade dollars can then be used for purchasing various services for your business and your employees.

Using trade dollars rather than cash translates into big savings ... valuable money which can be used to meet payroll and other necessities. For new businesses or during economic down-turns failure rates are often high. That�s why barter�s use is so necessary and valuable to today�s business owner.

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How Core Values Drive Performance

By John Treace

As a senior sales officer charged with effecting business turnarounds for bankrupt private and pre-IPO companies, I witnessed firsthand the importance of core values. A strong set of core values is crucial to driving corporate performance, and without them, companies suffer.

Core values define company culture, which is a big part of why they�re so important to driving performance. We can represent the relationship this way:

core values ? company culture ? actions/performance

For any sales team, the primary objective is to predictably and consistently produce sales, both within budget and in accordance with our forecasts. Core values, and the company culture they support, are the most important ingredient in achieving predictability and consistency in the actions that bring about the results we want.

Defining Core Values

Core values are simple action statements that express the business attributes management upholds and believes will lead the company to success. They are not vague proclamations such as �Do the right thing� � these can be interpreted at the whim of management depending on temporary conditions and motives. Core values should be specific and measurable. First, management should identify the desired attribute it wants to support; then, the core value can be determined from that starting point.

If, for example, management wants to emphasize financial responsibility, it would have core values that address how employees operate in regard to the finances of the company. Here are some examples:

�Don�t run out of cash, no matter what.� This core value keeps employees focused on adhering to the expense budget

�Be careful: a little success can create a lot of overhead.� This core value keeps employees focused on not overly expanding their departments in good years when there is excess income, putting the company at risk in slow years. This often results in layoffs, which are to be avoided.

�Throwing money at a problem doesn�t work.� This core value forces managers to think carefully through their plans to ensure a positive outcome within expense budget guidelines. It reminds them that throwing money at a problem almost never works, since it usually involves giving more funds to the people who created the problem in the first place.

If management believes that execution is a key to success, its core values would emphasize that the company values high performers. These core values might include the following:

�Surround yourself with only high performers.� This core value keeps managers focused on excellence in hiring and managing employees.

�Make it a challenge to get on board and difficult to leave.� This core value defines the way the company hires and manages people. If management hires only high performers, there will be few openings due to terminations for underperformance. And if we manage them well, they will not want to leave the company. The net result is a dedicated group of high performers.

If management values fairness � something every employee wants � this core value could apply: �Always do the right thing for customers, employees, and shareholders, and don�t take a position that favors one over the other.� This sends a strong message that one group will not benefit at the expense of another.

For example, the company with this core value will not reduce sales commissions to shift dollars to management with higher bonuses or shareholders with higher dividends. This company will not increase prices to benefit shareholders at the expense of customers. No single action should be taken to benefit one group at the expense of another.

Communicating Core Values

Once identified, core values should be published and posted throughout a company. They can be reviewed in state-of-the-business meetings with all employees, or in any other suitable venue. When presenting them, it is important to make an emotional connection between each core value and all employees. Simply reading them to the staff or posting them without explanation is not effective.

Just reading the core value �Don�t run out of cash no matter what,� doesn�t mean much, as most employees cannot envision the company going bankrupt. Instead, follow the presentation of that core value by asking the team, �Have you ever known someone who didn�t receive a paycheck?� You will see hands shoot up all through the audience. �If so,� you say, �they worked for a company that didn�t have this core value.�

Presenting the core value this way makes an emotional connection, and employees will remember it and be able to internalize it. When core values are internalized, employees will understand them at a deep level, which in turn promotes the desired culture. Further, to ensure employee commitment, each employee should understand that violation of a core value will result in disciplinary action.

Driving Performance

Companies and departments in companies are guided by mission statements, which should define culture, drive performance, and be supported by the company�s core values. The mission statements of departments can be more specific than those of the whole company and can be used as a blueprint for action.

Here is a mission statement I used in one sales department: �Our mission is to consistently and predictably support the corporate sales and profit goals through efficient sales and servicing efforts, while providing the highest degree of customer satisfaction.� Once we had the mission defined, we looked to identify the actions that would ensure its accomplishment. We identified three guiding principles:

         We will obtain for the customer what they want, and we�ll do it better than any other company.

         We will develop and maintain a sales management system that allows our representatives to maximize selling time while spending the least amount of time in front of the customer.

         We will develop and maintain a business environment for all sales department personnel that will enhance pride in the company, confirm the value of long-term relationships, and allow all employees the opportunity to reach their professional goals better with us than they could with any other company.

In summary, if we could successfully accomplish these three guiding principles of establishing a team of high performers, maintaining an effective sales process, and taking great care of the customer, then we would achieve our mission statement.

It is important to note that both the mission statement and guiding principles were supported by the published core values. In this regard, the published core values defined the culture and actions needed for success.

There is nothing more important in developing and maintaining powerful businesses than establishing a winning culture-base on published core values. People want to work for companies that are governed by established principles and management that supports them. Core values are where powerful businesses begin, and smart management will diligently work to enhance their effectiveness.

John R. Treace has over 30 years experience as a sales executive in the medical products industry. He spent over 10 years specializing in the restructuring of sales departments of companies that were either bankrupt or failing. In 2010 he founded JR Treace & Associates, a sales management consulting business. Treace is the author of the new book, �Nuts & Bolts of Sales Management: How to Build a High-Velocity Sales Organization.�

�What we have here is a failure to communicate!�

Years ago, one of the most visible people in the barter industry said the #1 reason why the industry wasn�t farther along in its development was due to a �failure to communicate� by those in the business.

This realization was the genesis of The Competitive Edge newsletter, now into its 18th year of publication. Trade exchange owners who use this powerful marketing and promotional tool are never guilty of �failing to communicate.�

As the owner of a trade exchange you must stay in front of your clients. Informing, educating, and inspiring them, because your clients� bartering is a relatively small percentage of their overall business. So if you don�t keep their interest and enthusiasm for trade at a high level, you lose.

Your primary aim, like all other businesses, is to get your clients coming back for more. Every extraordinary business (and every trade exchange owner who wants to be extraordinary) knows that the customer you have, is a lot less expensive to sell than the customer you don�t yet have!

Want to take your exchange to a higher level? Use The Competitive Edge newsletter in your operation�it �sells� the many benefits of working through your trade exchange like nothing else!

To learn more about The Competitive Edge newsletter and how it can help build your trade exchange, click here.


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