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Speaker 1 (00:00):

Welcome to the Small Biz 101 Podcast, a show for big dreamers who want to start or grow their small businesses. And now your host, long-term small business owner and strategic business coach, Connie Weisel.

Connie Whitesell (00:17):

Welcome. I am Connie Whitesell, your host of the Small Biz one-on-one podcast. I am thrilled to have you here listening to this interview with my guest, the amazing sales coach, Denise Horan. In this show, Denise shares wonderful advice for small business owners, including how to learn more about developing your sales skills, how to address sales and marketing needs on a limited budget, and why it’s so important for a business to be active in their community. We ran this interview live in my Facebook group, streamlined Business Strategies. If you would like first access to all of my interviews with small business experts along with access to a wealth of other free resources, come on over to Facebook and join us there. Check out the show notes for links to connect and find out more about Denise’s work. Enjoy the show, right? Welcome, streamline Business Strategies, friends.


So good to have you here for another fabulous interview with an expert to help my small business owners who participate in the group. It’s been a little while. I haven’t had one of these since December, so it’s nice to get back in the groove again, and I am so excited about my guest today. So come on in as you come into the group, let us know you’re here. I’ll keep an eye here on the group, see if we’ve got anybody who has any questions for Denise. It’s wonderful to have you here. And just say hello, let us know you’re here. We’re going to be talking about all things sales for small business owners. Oh, Fonda Wynn. Fabulous. So good to have you here. Fonda’s, the owner of the amazing Limehouse Restaurant in Hamburg, New York. Fabulous. Fonda, I miss your food and I miss you once I’m back in Buffalo.


We’ll have to visit Ruth. Hey, good to have you here. Ruth George, amazing estate planning attorney. I know Ruth so much more. Do you know Ruth? Yeah. Hi Ruth. Yeah, yeah, I’m sure we have many people in common, so come on in, say hello. Well, let me just jump right into this. First of all, I’d like to introduce my amazing guest today. Denise Harran is the founder and principal of integrated management and Sales Consulting. She provides solutions to help organizations grow revenues, find new marketing opportunities, and develop effective sales and management leaders. Denise launched the National Sales Platform Sales Club, USA, which I’m so excited about. Were sales and other professionals can go for resources, events, clubs, guest speakers and more. And most recently, Denise has launched her first book, which I see right there on the screen, which is amazing Stories from the Sales Field, a collection of over 60 interviews from great sales performers. And that book I understand is And we’re going to put all of these links in the comments, in the notes where this video and the audio, wherever it goes, we’ll make sure we have all of this information and it’s also available on Amazon. So Denise, welcome. It’s so good to have you here.

Denise Horan (03:43):

Oh, Connie, I’m so excited to be here. Thank you for having me. And I love this topic. Of course, I live and breathe revenue growth and sales and business development, all that stuff.

Connie Whitesell (03:57):

I can relate and I feel so fortunate now having recently moved to the capital region in New York, Denise and I are almost neighbors, so it’s so nice to be able to sometimes see you in person too. We just had lunch the other day. It was wonderful. Yes. Alright, well let’s just jump right in and I’d love to ask you, Denise, if you would share just what are some overall sales tips that come to mind for you when it comes to small business owners?

Denise Horan (04:25):

Well, you need to engage and really get to know your clients and really make them feel like they are special. And I know that sounds crazy, but think about this. If you walk into a retail, let’s say it’s a boutique you walk into and no one says hello to you, nobody asks you if they can help. And it happens so frequently where there’s this just cold feeling when you get in there and let’s just say you go to a lawyer, professional services and the lawyer starts talking instead of getting to know you, asking questions, inquiring how you can be helped. So I think the engagement part people don’t realize is so important. It starts with a smile. It starts with, hi, I’m Denise, and who are you? So there’s a meet and greet aspect to that as well. And retail and professional services, although very different, have the same tips. You need to communicate, you need to engage, you need to make people feel very important. You need to make them feel like they’re the most important client.

Connie Whitesell (05:52):

Absolutely. It’s so interesting because I find working with small business owners, I often work with solo business owners. They’re so good at what they do, that’s why they started their business. They’re so good at, they’re passionate about it, they love what they do. But I can’t tell you the number of times that I hear, oh, I hate sales. I don’t want to just that whole, and it’s something that they’re not comfortable with, they maybe haven’t done in the past. So it’s new, it’s out of their comfort zone, yet it is so important. So I wonder as well, how do you recommend that small business owners learn more about developing their sales skills?

Denise Horan (06:42):

I think that’s so funny what you just said because they say that to me too, and they’ll be like, I hate this stuff. I’m like, you don’t understand. You need sales to make your business grow and survive for that matter. So I said, let’s look at it differently than sales. Let’s look at it as a meet and greet, as a social gathering, whatever it may be. Nobody said you had to pick up the phone and make a cold call. We don’t need to do that anymore. We have so many great tools to connect with others. We have in-person networking, we have virtual networking, we have clubs, we have associations, we have the Chamber of Commerce, we have LinkedIn. So there’s so many ways You can also go to classes. There’s workshops everywhere. You can all come on my new platform, see a speaker and meet people. It’s funny, I tell people, if you get on a workshop, let’s just say it’s a virtual workshop and there’s 10 people on there, you have 10 new friends, you’re all on the screen together. You can reach out and say, it was nice to meet you on the screen. Would you like to have a virtual cup of coffee if you’re not in the same town? So I try to make it simple and not so stressful. It doesn’t need to be stressful. Right?

Connie Whitesell (08:15):

Absolutely. Absolutely. And you so embody that. I mean, from the first time that we met, which was virtual, it was through, I believe Grow Buffalo business,

Denise Horan (08:24):

Grow Buffalo,

Connie Whitesell (08:25):

And you feel like an immediate friend. And when I came here and we got together, we’ve gotten together a couple of times. It’s sure there are collaborative opportunities in business. I’m sure there are ways that we’ll work together in the future. And we’re friends. We can go have lunch, we can go have a drink and just enjoy each other’s company, which is really nice. So I appreciate that you mentioned your platform. Would you share a bit more about that? Because I’m really excited about exploring it and I’m blown away by all of the experts that you have there to help people on that platform.

Denise Horan (09:02):

So it’s funny, I had this vision and it started during covid. So in 2020 when we all met on the screen and we met on the screen every day because you weren’t allowed to do anything else but talk on the screen. I said, boy, I said, it would be nice if I took all these great contacts that I’ve made and share them with everybody and all the material I have. I’ve been on my own for 25 years. I’ve written a million articles, a book, I’ve got all that to share with others. So I started working on this platform that I thought was going to take me three months, which took me a year because it’s loaded with materials, but how much fun it has been. So you may go on as a member or a guest and you can read articles, resources, you can study sales on there by yourself if you’d like.


You can sign up to see a guest speaker. I am not limiting it to sales. There’s sales, there’s business development, marketing, HR management. So I’ve found all these great people on these virtual networking events that I was on for three years and called them all and just said, would you like to come be a speaker on the platform? And then I market them so the speakers kind of like me. So I put them all over my tons of social media platforms. I reach out to my network and say, you’ve got to see this speaker. You got to come this coming week. I’m real excited. We have a woman talking about igniting trust and it’s like a leadership type of workshop. And that’s tomorrow, Thursday. We have one that’s going to help people who might want to write their first book. And she was my book coach. She was tremendous. And then next week I’ll be doing one actually on business development for lawyers and professional services.

Connie Whitesell (11:15):

Oh, Ruth, other attorneys who are popping on here. What is the date of that event?

Denise Horan (11:25):

That’s the

Connie Whitesell (11:25):

28th of March.

Denise Horan (11:28):

Of February.

Connie Whitesell (11:30):

February. Oh my gosh, are we

Denise Horan (11:33):

Still in February?

Connie Whitesell (11:34):

Oh no, we are. You’re absolutely right. Thank you for flying

Denise Horan (11:38):


Connie Whitesell (11:39):

Yeah, yeah. Such great resources and what a great platform. And when did you open that up?

Denise Horan (11:47):

So I started it in late 2023 and it was during holiday season, so I just did a kind of soft opening and invited friends on there. And I do have a virtual networking coming up on the 27th. I’ve had a few of those where people can just hop on the screen and meet people and get to know what’s on the platform. So it’s only been open a few months. I actually were getting ready to put the press out nationwide in March, so hoping to make it a nationwide platform.

Connie Whitesell (12:27):

That’s exciting,

Denise Horan (12:28):

Very exciting.

Connie Whitesell (12:30):

Absolutely. So many of our small business owners are on a limited budget when it comes to so many aspects of their business, including marketing and sales. So I’m curious, are there some ways that you recommend that small business owners can be sure that they are addressing marketing and sales even though they may be on a slim budget?

Denise Horan (12:58):

There’s a lot of things you can do for free. I shouldn’t really say free. It takes a little bit of time, but you don’t have to pay a lot of money. And I tell people the best thing that happened to marketing a small business is probably social media. And you just need to make sure you’re addressing your target market. So if your target market is females or your target markets corporate or your target markets retail, you might want to use a different platform for each of those and you can test ’em. You’ll see where there’s a lot of analytics out there so you can see where the viewers are coming from. So I think that’s probably the best thing that’s been given to us in the last 10 years. As far as marketing, I still am a very big fan of networking, whether it’s virtual or in person.


And a lot of times if you are running a business from nine to five, you might want to do the five o’clock kind networking or maybe you get to leave for lunchtime for a short period of time and meet some new people and you’re really not selling. You’re really just kind of talking to people about their business. And a lot of times a coach can help you with saying, hi, my name’s Denise. Tell me about your business or what brought you here. So it’s not about just pouring on the sales, it’s really about making connections out there. The other thing I absolutely love is I have interns all the time. I think the key to the intern thing is to try to secure them for a year so you don’t have to keep training every three months. So when I interview ’em, usually in the summer, I’m asking them to stay through the following summer if possible, and I pay them a small amount of money because it’s probably the right thing to do and they’re learning from me.


I’m actually learning a ton from them. One thing young people know is how to navigate research technology and all this kind of stuff that some of us aren’t so good at. So it’s really a great combination and they help with a lot of that stuff. They want to make social media posts, they want to research for you and find target markets. They want to analyze your competitors. It’s a great learning experience for them. So those are just a few tiny things that I would recommend. I am a fan of Chamber of Commerce’s generally. They’re very good. They have events, they’ve got workshops. I’m actually speaking a lot at the local chamber where it’s a chamber university and you go in and you get to see speakers, things like that and meet a bunch of people while you’re in the class. So kind of a nice opportunity.

Connie Whitesell (16:29):

Absolutely. Those are such great tips. So social media, networking, interns, those were the main points. And even deeper, I didn’t realize that there was an opportunity to hire interns for a year at a time. I was always thinking it was the semester by semester, which is a drawback sometimes when you have to keep training someone. But that’s wonderful to propose something like that. And I could not agree with you more in terms of the networking, almost regardless of the business and how it truly is. In fact, don’t come in intending to sell someone, come in there to build relationships and get to know people better. It just makes such a better difference.

Denise Horan (17:14):

You said it perfectly. It’s all about the relationship and the connection you make with those people.

Connie Whitesell (17:19):

Yeah, yeah. You were talking about social media, finding where your ideal client is being there, and I’d just like to add to that as well, another free online that’s almost like social media is the Google business profile, making sure that you have that there and that it’s up to date and that you keep sharing posts there. You can treat it almost as social media. So the Google keeps liking your business and keeps moving it up the ranks when people are looking for your particular type of business.

Denise Horan (17:51):

Yes, very much. And people forget about that. I’m one of the worst because you can only look over so many platforms as well. So that’s why I say it’s worthwhile getting some help either through an intern or I actually have a contract marketing person who’s tremendous, who helps me, guides me. He’s got different skill sets than I have, and we work together just great as a team.

Connie Whitesell (18:23):

I love that. Yeah, always good to have help, particularly in the areas where they’re not exactly in our, keep calling it the genius zone, what we’re really good at, right? There are always things, always things to help support us and people who are experts at them and love doing them. So I really appreciate you sharing that. And you did touch on this already a bit when you spoke about the chambers, and we have a number of people who are in the Facebook group and I’m sure who are watching this as well, who are locally based and work with people within their community, not so much virtually and nationwide. So are there other things that you recommend for people to be more active in their communities?

Denise Horan (19:13):

I do. I absolutely think it’s worthwhile to see what associations are local. I’m a member of the American Marketing Association, and not only is it a national organization, it has local chapters and we have a coffee outing every month. So we all gather, actually we have one almost every week, and it goes around to different areas in the region and anyone can come and meet new people. And usually it’s a group of 10 to 20 people for a cup of coffee at eight o’clock in the morning or something. I really like that. Plus the A MA allows you to go on to virtual lunch and learns. So it has a lot to offer. So that’s just an example of one association. There’s so many of them in the region and throughout the state. We have just a tremendous amount of resources through the associations. The other thing that I really do like is getting involved in a charity and either being a volunteer or taking a board seat. And it’s amazing how many people you meet, but you also get to learn who’s good at what. And there are a lot of referrals that go on a board. You’ll say, Hey, I know somebody who really needs your service or that kind of thing. So I like that.

Connie Whitesell (20:54):

Terrific suggestions. I love it. Thank you so much for sharing that. Is there anything else that’s coming to mind through this conversation I haven’t asked you but that you’d like to make a point of? And there doesn’t have to be something, I don’t mean to just throw this at you off the cuff, but I’m just curious. You’re such a wealth of information.

Denise Horan (21:15):

Well, there’s so much out there, and I recently did a podcast on personal branding. And I always tell people when it’s a sales thing, you need to think about how do you want to be known by other people? So your personal brand is pretty important. If you’re a restaurant, what do you want people to say about you? Do you want to say it’s the best food in the world, best atmosphere, best service? Of course you want ’em all, but how do you want to be known? What’s that little thing that sets you apart? If you’re an attorney and there’s 6,000 of you out there in the state, how are you going to be different in your practice area? Is there something that you’re involved in that other people aren’t involved in or something that you specialize in that the little things that set you apart as a brand? And I say the best way is to sit down with a piece of paper and a bunch of adjectives and say, what am I? Am I a leader? Am I an educator? Am I a connector? Somebody recently in one of my workshops said, oh, I’m an idea generator. I was like, oh, I like that one. I need to add that to my list.


But there’s little things like that that are really all about sales. And I do a lot of personal coaching, so I’m really kind of diving into the person, the person behind the business. And I think people want to know who they’re doing business with and to know that person is on the same page or can help them. So those are the things that I really, I think about when you talk about sales. I mean, there’s so much you can read and study and I don’t think we have time, but now AI in sales is huge. So I don’t know. Can I tell? Well, please

Connie Whitesell (23:38):

Go ahead. Yeah, please do. What’s coming to mind for you? I

Denise Horan (23:41):

Have a great story. I coach a new sales manager who was just recently promoted, and he’s young and he’s great, and his wife happens to be a tech person. And I find out afterwards that she’s going on and on about ai, ai. He is like, oh, that’s a bunch of bull. I don’t need that. I’m a sales, I got a team, all this stuff. But then I come along and I said to him, so are you using AI with sales? He looks at me, he goes, oh, it just this rug. I said, think about little things. You’re going to put together an email you need to send to a client and you just maybe need a couple words or you need to be able to phrase it in a short paragraph. AI can help you with that. I said, let’s just say one of your team members is out selling in a specific area and two appointments canceled. He can pop into chat GBT and find some local businesses that he might be able to drop by and introduce himself. Leave a card. I was in your area, or whatever. There’s so many little things that are getting involved in ai. They can plan your target market, they can map your territory. So many things they can do. Beautiful graphics for social media. There’s so many things that you can do and still be unique and still tweak it a little bit, so it’s personalized.

Connie Whitesell (25:27):

I so agree with you. And I mean related to that, when you were talking about graphics, they can also plan out and create a month’s worth of social media posts for you. I mean, almost anything that you can think of in your business where you get a little stuck. Normally there’s an area there where chat GPT can at least get you unstuck, if not more.

Denise Horan (25:47):

You’re right. And the beauty is it’s free. So if you’re a small business owner and you don’t have a lot of resources, one more tool that you have. So when somebody asks me, what can I do for free, I just basically say to ’em, listen, LinkedIn, other social media platforms, chat, GPT, you can go in there and do so much little marketing and connections and networking and emails and stuff like that that really are very low cost or no cost.

Connie Whitesell (26:23):

Absolutely. Well, thank you. I’m glad that you brought that up as well. You shared so much value today, and I really appreciate your expertise. Would you also share how someone could reach you if they’d like to contact you for more information?

Denise Horan (26:38):

Yes. I love when people contact me. So I have two platforms, Denise, H-O-R-A-N, and I have sales club You can reach me at or Either one. Great checking on both. Oh, go ahead. No, and I was going to say I am on all the platforms. You can find me on LinkedIn and Facebook and Instagram and YouTube, and you name it all Twitter. Oh x, sorry.

Connie Whitesell (27:21):

There we go. There we go. I love it. And apologies too. I realize I mispronounced your last name.

Denise Horan (27:26):

Oh, that’s fine.

Connie Whitesell (27:27):

Sorry about that. Not just

Denise Horan (27:28):


Connie Whitesell (27:30):

And we have a question that came in. Fonda had a question. She is franchising her restaurant, Limehouse Sushi and Ramy Ramen, and wondered for suggestions for finding franchisees.

Denise Horan (27:46):

You know the gentleman out of Syracuse, John Adams?

Connie Whitesell (27:51):

Actually, I know that Fonda has already been connected with him.

Denise Horan (27:55):

Okay. So that’s good. It’s funny that whole world, and she probably wants to get out there and do a little bit of research, but there’s a whole network of people involved in franchises that are either helping someone buy one, sell one, get involved, create a franchise. I don’t really play in that field, so I really can’t advise that, but I would think John would be able to direct her to maybe some experts in the franchise business.

Connie Whitesell (28:35):

Great. Great. Thank you for sharing and Donda, thanks so much for the question. Alright, well let’s wrap things up, Denise. It was wonderful having you here. And I will put your contact information post in the Facebook group as well as in the links on the YouTube and the podcast. All right. So it’s such a pleasure having you here.

Denise Horan (28:59):

Oh, that’s great. Thank you so much, Connie, and happy selling folks. It’s a beautiful thing.