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Equipment finance with bad credit: it’s not impossible

A bad credit record can be a stumbling block to anyone who is applying for a loan. This can make the process difficult and can affect the outcome of your loan, such as higher interest rate and the need to provide collateral before the bank will approve your application.

 

If you need to purchase equipment for your business, but do not have a good credit score, applying for finance can be a seemingly impossible task. But, if you know what to do, you will likely be approved for equipment finance.

Check your credit record for accuracy

Contact Experian or TransUnion to acquire your credit report and read through it carefully, looking for any inconsistencies. If you see anything that raises a red flag, phone the credit bureaus to immediately remove all negative data, especially if you know you have repaid the debt in question in full. You will then need to ensure that this is changed on your credit history to show the debt is repaid.

Explain your debts

Your chosen bank or financial institution will want to know the exact reasons why you have a bad credit rating, so it is important to have the pertinent facts readily available. They will want to know whether the debt was entirely your fault or not, and what you are planning to do to rectify it. Lenders are already wary of lending money to those with a bad credit record and if you are unprepared to explain your debt or how you will rectify it, your finance application is likely to be rejected.

Offer additional collateral

If you already own equipment or have a property, then you should consider offering this to the bank as collateral. The bank will look favourably on this, as it will lower your risk in their books. They will be able to sell this collateral should you be unable to repay your loan, making granting your loan easier. It is an effective way to gain confidence if you have a bad credit rating, and will work towards securing your loan.

Try an alternative lender

Rather than going to a bank, you could look into going to an alternative lender. These lenders often look at the positive aspects of your business rather than at anything negative. They will see it as an investment rather than scrutinising your credit score, but be sure to research every aspect of your chosen alternative lender. Make sure the terms of the loan are all in order – it may look fantastic on paper, but this does not immediately make it the best choice.

Find a cosigner

Finding and using a cosigner is often one of the best ways to secure a loan. The bank or financial institution you are applying to for finance will see this as a positive endorsement of your willingness to alleviate yourself from debt, but be warned that your cosigner will be taking on part of the debt too. And that can put a strain on relationships if the chosen person is a friend or business partner.

Offer a larger down payment

One way to secure finance with bad credit is to offer the bank or financial institution a larger down payment. If you are having difficulty finding a cosigner, making a larger down payment may help to assure the bank that you are not a high risk applicant. You will, however, have to pay at least 20% upwards, which can be a difficult task for those who are battling with finances already.

Expect a higher interest rate

You will need to take into account the fact that a bad credit rating will incur higher interest rates. You will need to prepare financially for this and cut back on as many expenses as possible in order to make the monthly payments in a timeous manner. Until your credit rating improves, you will be seen as a high risk client and so the bank or lender views lending to you as a liability.

Settle the payment terms of your loan

Read the loan terms carefully and ask the bank to explain anything you may not understand. Usually, a bank will be very straightforward with their terminology, but some lenders may use terms that are confusing or ambiguous. Be sure that it is understood you can only pay back a certain amount and understand the interest rate and fee structure fully before signing anything.

Conclusion

Equipment finance with bad credit can be a hurdle for a business owner who already has tight finances. But, if you are willing to put in the work with the bank, you will likely be approved. Provide all information you need and be prepared to explain your situation, but do not feel judged or ashamed, your bank will be understanding to your situation and you will be able to move your business forward.

The right way to market and sell life insurance

The topic of life insurance is quite an entertaining one. Well, purely for the process that leads people to eventually buying life insurance.

Most people start out with an irritation towards life insurance sales agents and the prospect of their pending death being held against them as some sort of commodity. But, eventually, when marriage, children and life-changing investments come into the picture, we’re rather quick to go knocking on insurers doors.

One could argue that the “stigma” around life insurance marketing and sales pitches is the way in which they are presented to audiences who aren’t ready to hear: “have you sorted out your life in the event that you might die tomorrow?”. And who can blame them?

We’re going to be talking about a few ways to change your approach as an insurance company and change the minds of potential clients.

Find something in common

Salespeople, in every industry, need to have a knack for communication and connecting with people. And even more so in the insurance industry where the end of a person’s life is under discussion. You can’t start with a hard life insurance sell.

Start by learning more about your potential client and find something the two of you have in common. Not only will it help you personalise your sales pitch (and we’re getting to that), but it will also make your clients feel more comfortable to open up to you and trust you as an advisor for a huge life decision.

Personalise your sales pitch

Every customer is looking for a customer experience with a brand that promises to change their lives and then delivers. And it’s for that reason that an established relationship and personalised sales pitch is necessary. It’s also why generic cold calls and “threats” don’t work when it comes to selling life insurance.

It’s not about knowing each individual in your prospecting list of clients. But you need to narrow down your audience and know who you’re talking to. Through marketing campaign analytics and even your social media’s statistics, you can keep track of your audiences demographics, interests and needs.

And with this information and placing your audience into segments, you can cater for specific audiences and, in that way, personalise your sales pitch. That way, when you do your cold calls and know who you’re talking to, you can be more sensitive towards the prospecting client.

Calling up a twenty-something-year-old and telling them they need to invest in life insurance today and think about how their families would be able to cope without them. Not only do they experience that as insensitive, but their first reaction is that it’s irrelevant. Take a moment to change your perspective as a salesperson and rather communicate by speaking of the benefits it will have should they start life insurance now and what monthly payment options are available.

Relate through human emotion

Now, when we think about life insurance advertisements they’re either in-your-face life insurance or seemingly completely irrelevant. No one wants to watch an advertisement that consists only of experts sitting in an office and giving you the statistics on life insurance and how death affects a family (skipping over the entire grief period while they’re at it).

You need to find the balance between introducing the people of your company, the work your company has done and the lives your company has changed. Because that is what people are more interested in – someone or some story they can relate to.

Testimonials are a great way to get an audience to relate through human emotion. They want to listen to the people with similar stories and situations as them. They want to hear that it’s possible to save money, have living benefits and have life insurance pay out when the time came and the family was in need. Your target audience would rather find out that way that having life insurance is, actually, important and that the weight of responsibility that falls on those you leave behind can be tremendous and hard to deal with.

Young adults with no evident responsibilities won’t need to hear about how a middle-aged person with a partner and children is benefiting from life insurance because they aren’t in that stage of their lives yet and their answer to an insurance sales agent would be “I’ll wait until I need it”. What they need to hear is words coming from a fellow young adult who can rest assured because they know they’re covered should anything happen now and, even more so, later in life because they started now.

How you can do it

The right way to sell and market life insurance is to get to know your audience and give them whatever it is they need to relate to your company and your product. Take a look at your website and see what it says to people who have no idea what life insurance is about.

The AUL website, for example, gives comprehensive breakdowns on what they offer, who they work with, the people they help and what their mission is. It’s not about doom and gloom threats to get people to buy insurance from you, it’s about fulfilling a need and being a part of a process that will change their lives.

Lawyers: think marketing isn’t necessary? Think again

As a lawyer, your services are always in demand. You may be a divorce lawyer helping couples come to amicable conclusions or a labour law professional dealing with the CCMA or labour disputes on a daily basis – whatever your speciality, legal services are usually in high demand.

However, many lawyers overlook the power of and the need for marketing in their industry. If you do not market yourself or if your firm is not marketing itself, you may be losing out on high-paying clients. Taking marketing courses will help you to understand just how useful marketing can be.

Why do I need marketing?

You may have studied for years to become a lawyer and can understand complex topics, but marketing is most likely a new and confusing concept to you. There are some pertinent facts as to why you need to market your services, including the following.

Competition is intensifying

Arguably the most important reason why lawyers need to market their practices or firms is the fact that competition in the legal world is fierce. And unless you can come up with a catch-phrase as memorable as Saul Goodman’s, you will need to be creative to beat the competition.

The increase in law students also means that there is more competition in the job market, so you will need to learn how to market yourself to potential employers and clients.

Beating bad press

It is well known that lawyers and legal professionals often receive bad press from the media. Marketing and PR strategies can help you to beat this press or to allay the repercussions. Not having your own publicist is no excuse to ignore your public image, this is what potential clients see before considering you as their legal aid. Use social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook to market your firm or yourself, but remember to create a professional Facebook profile and avoid using your personal profile for anything business related. If you show yourself to be a professional at all times, bad press will not be an issue for clients and can easily be avoided.

Technology is evolving

Articles and speaking engagements are a great way to become noticed in the legal world, but your clients are most likely more active on social media platforms. You should be more active on these platforms. Using techniques such as podcasting allows you to introduce yourself and the work you have done and are able to do.

It is not advisable to continue using outdated marketing techniques while the current ones are changing on a near weekly basis. Lawyers can make use of content marketing, video marketing and even post entertaining social media pieces to get their name out there to clients and potential employers.

What can I do to market myself?

Aside from hiring a marketing firm or taking marketing courses, there are simple tactics you can use in your marketing strategy.

  • Understand how clients find you: People will only use lawyers they know they can trust, which is why word of mouth is such a powerful tool. However, in today’s modern world, many people do their own further research rather than relying solely on the words of others, which is why it is important to have an online presence.

 

Maintain the relationship with current clients to strengthen the word of mouth referrals, but set up a LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ profile for those who want to be entirely certain that you are trustworthy.

  • Use content to build awareness about your services and/or firm: Other than word of mouth and social media reviews, having professionally written, relevant content on your website or profiles can work wonders toward garnering new clients.

 

If you are unable to write content in layman’s terms or in a manner that is appealing to your audience, you need to hire or reach out to a professional content or copywriter. These marketing experts will craft copy that is on point and that will tell clients that you are the best choice for their needs.

  • Build your social media presence: As mentioned previously, social media is an ever-growing platform that people use on a daily basis. For any company looking to build their customer base, having a social media profile is a highly effective way to do so.

 

If your posts focus on customer service and on articles written by employees or by yourself, you will not be breaking the confidentiality clause between lawyer and client.

Final thoughts

Any law firm or private practice needs to include a marketing or PR strategy in their budget. Using traditional methods of marketing is successful to a point, but if you want to grow your client base and flourish in today’s world of technology and modernity, you will have to implement a marketing strategy that includes digital tactics.

Let’s chat about chatbots

Chatbots are the topic of conversation in various industries at the moment, yet there are still people out there completely unaware of what exactly they mean for everyday life and society. Hence, we’re chatting about chatbots.

If you don’t know by now…

Chatbots are defined as computer programs designed to simulate conversations with users via the Internet through voice recognition technology. It’s AI technology designed to ask and/or answer our questions, as the user.

Surely you’ve heard of Siri (Apple), Cortana (Microsoft), Alexa (Amazon) or Google Assistant (obviously Google) by now? They are all integrated examples of chatbot technology in our everyday lives. Not everyone is a fan of Siri and the technology can, at some times, be frustrating especially if you have to repeat yourself five times for her to pick up what you’re trying to ask.

But there will never be a time where everyone in the world is happy with what’s available. So, if you still want to take a contact centre support course, the rise of chatbots shouldn’t stop you. There will always be a market for actual human to human interaction.

Their direct influence

Chatbots are already making their way through various industries in big and small ways that have a direct influence on us as users and on the companies that have adopted its technology. Here are a few examples:

  • Insurance: Allstate Business Insurance in America incorporated ABIe (a chatbot) to relieve traffic from the call centre and is able to handle thousands of queries from both agents and consumers directly.
  • Finance: Capital One Financial (also in America) has Eno – the balance-checking, payment-making, credit-card-informing, text-message chatbot. It only communicates via text.
  • Hospitality: Marriott International makes use of chatbot technology in Facebook Messenger and Slack (soon WeChat and Google Assistant as well) and allows for rewards members to research and book their trips.
  • Therapy: There is a chatbot out there that you can have conversations with and build a relationship through Facebook Messenger. Well, a relationship in the sense that Woebot, as you talk to him, gets to know you and your moods better. Woebot changes the way people think about therapy and is available 24/7 to chat, give expert advice, share a quote or crack a joke.

There are more examples, but that should be enough to give you an idea of where and how chatbot technology can have a direct influence on you. Well, it’s not too surprising seeing as they were designed to directly interact with us, but if you weren’t aware of it before, you are now.

Chatbots affecting the future

The content marketing and market research industries are going to be greatly affected by chatbots in the near future.

  • Personalisation of content based on trackable user behaviour through interaction
  • Humanising chatbots with personalities will better the user experience
  • Increased brand engagement stimulated through user-bot interaction.
  • Chatbots retrieve direct user insight in an unobtrusive manner
  • Quick and direct way to interact with the brand
  • Additional/external applications are not necessary for interaction making it convenient for users

The future of marketing is all about messaging and interacting with a user in a way that is convenient and not intrusive. A way where they have a choice to partake in the marketing campaign – by means of conversation.

Companies making the move

A lot of people are on the move to better their customer’s experience with their brand, so much so that the experience is beginning to rely less on the actual product conversion and more on the process of bringing them to that conversion.

Coca-Cola is one of the larger brands preparing for a digital future. David Godsman, Coca-Cola’s chief digital officer, says “It isn’t about changing digital experiences but also about helping customers make decisions in a more effective manner. It’s about an operational transition.” And the transition he’s talking about? Oh, just some talk about chatbots and AI vending machines.

Starbucks has also dived into the chatbot-pool with a “bot-barista” from which customers can order and pay for drinks remotely. Other companies include Pizza Hut, Mastercard, Sephora and Spotify, mostly through Facebook Messenger and Twitter.  

How you can do it too

The market and customer improvement opportunities with chatbots are incredible developments for any company that values their customer experience, which should be every company. If you were wondering, it is possible for you to make the most of it too.

Some places you can look at to help you create and test your bots are The Bot Platform, Chatfuel, Engati (through a 10-minute process), ChattyPeople and ChatScript (considered “next-generation” and was awarded for having the most human-like AI).

The internet can help take your business to all the places you’ve been struggling to get into by the click of a couple buttons. The process to use technology is never as complicated as the process to create the technology was and that should be comforting in a world of constant technological innovation.

Why you need report writing skills for business communication

Business communication requires a number of skills, ranging from effective presentation skills to the ability to understand graphs, charts and data. There is also the need to write effectively and concisely while including all pertinent information that can help to understand the communication sent out.

This is where report writing skills are important and will come into play. Report writing skills are different to normal business communication or simple writing skills as they encompass a different set of abilities, such as the ability to write objectively and factually rather than using emotion and persuasion in your pieces.

What are report writing skills?

Report writing skills are vital to effective communication in any office. The skills that are required for writing an effective report can include the following.

The ability to focus

This is essentially keeping in mind the objective of your report. You should not be distracted easily by information that does not relate to the report or is not necessarily needed for inclusion in the report as this will make for an unstructured and unfocused report.

An analytical approach

Being able to analyse and utilise data are essential report writing skills, as having an analytical approach will allow you to interpret the information you have been given, such as financial data, SEO numbers or performance data on employees. You’ll also have to make an analysis of the target audience, the purpose for which audience requires the report, the type of data the audience is looking for in the report, and the implications of report reading.

An objective mindset

When writing a business report that’s regarding an employee’s behaviour or a disciplinary action report, it is important to be able to take both sides into account without bringing emotion into play. Meaning that you will have to apply an objective eye to the information provided. It will not be conducive to decision making if you write a report that is fraught with emotion and is subjectively biased toward the employee in question.

The ability to be clear and concise

A report for business purposes does not need to be lengthy or convoluted, but rather it should be accurate, clear and concise, including only the most important details and information. This does not mean, however, that you should aim for a short document, but that you should practice the ABC of report writing: Accuracy, Brevity and Clarity. Your report can be over three pages long, but should never read like a conversational piece or include information that has no place in it.

Quality assurance

Simply put, quality assurance means the proof-reading, editing and fact-checking of a report, which further increases the effectiveness of the document and the information. It is important to verify every piece of information that goes into the report as not only will incorrect information reflect badly on you, but it can hinder any decisions made regarding the report, such as budget cuts or hiring a new employee.

How can report writing skills help in business communication?

Report writing skills can help improve business communication in many ways, such as improving general writing ability and boosting the effectiveness of further business communications. Some of the ways that having and improving report writing skills can help business communication:

  • The quality of writing in business reports will improve.
  • The content and format of business reports will always be correct.
  • General writing and document sequences will be logical and meaningful.
  • The presentation of business reports will improve, as will the formats.
  • The clarity and efficiency of all business writing will improve.
  • Organisation skills will improve, due to having to remain focused and accurate when writing reports.

Improving your report writing skills is of vital importance to any successful business communication and there are some effective ways that you can improve them aside from going on a report writing course, which in itself is extremely helpful.

Thinking before you write applies not only to report writing, but to every type of business communication you may be writing. It is important to ask yourself what the audience should know or think after reading the email, proposal or report. And if the answer is not immediately clear, then you may have started writing preemptively.

The writing structure you learnt in school does not cross over well into business writing, where you need to be direct and clear without writing long introductions and conclusions. Business reports should be direct in their message and remain clear and accurate throughout, so be sure to keep this in mind when writing a report that is meant for a business situation or will be read by an analyst or decision maker within the company.