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Spicing Up That Sales Pitch

Can laughs make the sale? Plus, the new deal-site ecosystem, loving the Like button, and the rest of the day's news for entrepreneurs.
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Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today.

Using laughs to land the deal. Is your sales pitch too stale? Try using humor, says Burt Teplitzky, an author, stand-up comedian, and corporate trainer based in Los Angeles. According to Teplitzky, incorporating humor into one's sales pitch releases tension, establishes a rapport with customers, and increases the "likeability factor." In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Teplitzky explains how punchy, relevant jokes are more engaging and impressive to an audience than a straightforward presentation. "Your main job is to create an environment where the customer wants to buy from you," Teplitzky says. "Humor helps to open lines of communication because you are both comfortable with each other."

The new deal-site ecosystem. With Groupon adding 150 employees a month, and LivingSocial's third office space already bursting at the seams, the Associated Press reports that deal sites are becoming so popular that their office are starting to look as crowded as their subscribers' inboxes. Exponential growth of these sites—including hundreds of clone or niche deal sites—might look like a bubble. But analysts interviewed say it's actually an emerging category of commerce that's dramatically changing how retail and service industries price and sell their goods. With Groupon, the top daily deal site, racking up 85 million subscribers in about two years, and LivingSocial gained 28 million. On the other hand, Joshua Gans in the Harvard Business Review offers a cogent argument that perhaps the daily deals space is becoming too crowded for the biggest names to continue rocketship-pace growth. he writes, "right now, there is one issue on which every economist I know of actually agrees," that Groupon should have accepted a $6 billion bid from Google, that Google was insane to have offered it, and that Groupon is doomed. Which story do you believe?

What Facebook's Like button can do for you. The stats compiled here by Search Engine Land's ed-in-chief Danny Sullivan come straight from Facebook, but none the less shed light on how Facebook's so-called social users can super charge web site referrals, page views, and—even—revenue.

Glenn Beck, e-commerce entrepreneur. That's right. The infamous TV personality's production company, Mercury Radio Arts, announced this morning the launch of a new e-commerce discount website called Markdown.com, Business Insider reports. What will the site sell? So far, Beck's production company says deals will be on everything from credit-score monitoring services to chocolate. Considering Beck's Oprah-like reach, the new venture could prove profitable. Markdown will offer one to two deals a week at first, but has plans to expand.

Should CEOs hate surprises? Barry Salzberg, who will rise to global chief executive of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, offers some thoughtful leadership advice in a Q & A with The New York Times. On leadership, Salzberg notes "I don't like surprises. I don't like good surprises. I don't like bad surprises. Obviously it's better to have good surprises, but the idea is to be transparent and straight and tell it like it is all the time and to make sure that you are involving others along the way." When it comes to hiring, Salzberg says a "good marriage" is the most important aspect of finding the right person. We're "looking for these intangibles, because at the end of the day, what we've found is, people join you for the firm and what they think they are going to do, and they leave because of the people and the environment they work in," he says.

Iams's top dog to help business's smaller pups. After making billions selling premium dog food, former Iams owner Clayton Mathile now is helping small businesses see at least a fraction of his mammoth success. According to CNN Money, the 70-year-old billionaire's nonprofit, Aileron, has helped more than 20,000 small business owners grow and develop since he poured $130 million into the organization three years ago. Aileron was named after an airplane wing part that helps lift the airplane during flight to symbolize how the nonprofit uplifts their clients, mostly entrepreneurs who have $1 million to $30 million in sales and 10 to 100 employees. With classes, counseling and funding, these entrepreneurs develop leadership and managing tools to apply in their start-ups. "Entrepreneurs can solve almost all the problems we have in this country, in this world," says Mathile. "It's just that they have to be allowed and afforded the opportunity."

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Last updated: May 23, 2011

CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN | Staff Writer | Senior Writer

Christine Lagorio-Chafkin is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is a senior writer at Inc.




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