Saturday, July 19, 2008

Product Review: BlackBerry Curve 8330

Is this Device Superb or just a Blurb

While this phone has been out for quite some time now, I purchased one a few weeks ago and wanted to share my thoughts.

Why a BlackBerry?

Initial Needs: Send/receive email capability, ease of use when it came to typing text-messages/emails, easy to use/view calendar to schedule life, and a fairly high resolution screen.

Now that I have surpassed the poor service at the store when I purchased the phone I have been able to focus on the phone itself.

I could bore you with all the specific specifications about the phone, but most users just want a phone that works. (There is a link at the bottom for all the nitty-gritty details) As a result, I am detailing my experiences with the phone through out daily life.

Here Is My Review:


Buttons: I needed to rid myself of the multiple clicking of each button to type out messages, so I knew it would take me some time to adapt to the QWERTY keyboard. I now love it! Typing is much easier and fluid. However, when it comes to dialing phone numbers, it is slightly more difficult as the buttons are somewhat small (I do have big hands). Nevertheless, it is simply the learning curve I am going through and I guess I need to be more nimble with my fingers. I guess all my years of playing the saxophone haven't helped...

Call Quality: The voice on the other end is very crisp and clear. My old phone muttled the speaker's dialogue and I was always asking, "say again?" With this phone, that is not a problem. The volume is great as well. It can go to a very loud setting. For me, I have it set at the second softest level.

Scroll Ball: The scroll ball is the main way the user maneuvers between applications. It is utilized by either moving it up, down, left, or right. The user can also press it to make selections instead of the arrow enter key on the keyboard (see image below). It works great when I am scrolling down to scrolling to the right. I find that it is not as responsive when I scroll up or to the left.

Battery Life: It does a fairly good job. I usually charge it every two days out of habit from my old phone. I do not have a landline phone so this is my main device. I would say I talk about 1.5-2 hours a day on the phone. Then, there is the email/text usage that goes on as well.

Navigation: The user explores the phone through the 5 top bar buttons. Predominately, I use the scroll ball, the multi-dot button, and the half-circled arrow button. The multi-dot button allows me to bring up prompts for more detailed windows and to access the full list of applications. The half-arrow button allows me to go-back a screen. Then of course, is the scroll ball which the user uses to select and click the desired applications.

On a whole, I find the navigation pretty easy to use. I am still learning what each icon/application does, but for the most part, it's fool proof. It is very easy to customize the phone. I can move my more frequently used applications to my main screen. I can also select two applications to associate with the side buttons on the phone for rapid selection. I have the ringer control on the left quick button and the alarm on the right quick button.

Access: I can access the Internet and Google maps which is awesome!! While the download and upload speed are not 3G, I did not have that functionality before so I have no complaints. Users who have had BlackBerries in the past and want faster speeds should invest in a BlackBerry 3G phone. I love the ability to send/receive/read word documents as well.

Screen: It is pretty sweet. I love the resolution compared to my old phone. The colors are very rich. I would say they are more blue-based. I do clean it often as the oils from my skin transfer onto the screen.

Camera: I realized I use the camera more than I thought. It saved me once when Jiffy Lube ran my bike into their garage and I had to take pictures. Also, as my digital camera is on its last leg, it's nice to have a decent camera to take pictures.

Accessories: It comes with a leather holster. One would think it would have a belt loop on it (if you want to be that cool), but it does not. I decided to purchase a rubber protector to put my phone in. As a cyclist, I would hate to have my phone slip out of my sweaty hands when I'm stopped for a break checking messages. Also, we all drop our phones and I want to keep it safe. The phone also comes with a ear piece. It can go in both ears which is cool as it's a phone conversation in "surround sound".

Software: The BB Curve comes with software to sync it up to your computer. Users can transfer files, pictures, etc either to the the phone or to the computer. My computer is three years old and the software brings it to its knees.


*Easy to use
*Great screen resolution / colorful
*Compact for a full QWERTY keyboard
*Internet Access

*Software brings older computers to knees
*Battery life may be a problem
*Keys do feel a little cheap -- wear and tear may affect visibility of letters/numbers
*Scroll Ball is not as responsive going certain directions
*Vibrate feature is not as apparent

In closing:

I find this phone very useful. The typing functionality and ability to send/receive emails is great. The screen is bright and crisp. However, I hate the reliability on the scroll ball. If something were to go wrong, you're in trouble. I would recommend this phone to a new BlackBerry user.


Here is the Link to BlackBerry's Official Page

~ the GURU

Monday, July 14, 2008

Book Review: Customer Approved Small Business

Does this book give hope to young businesses?

Schell, Michael. The Customer Approved Small Business.

Approved Publications Inc. Vancouver, British Columbia 2005.

By The Small Biz. Guru, Zane Schweer

It is 3:11am. He just downed his seventh cup of coffee. The dog is speaking French and the significant other is threatening to walk out… again. Yet, the ever-persistent entrepreneur and/or business owner is awake, plotting, and creating a business to make his/her dream a reality. However, these late night sessions could be just a waste of time unless this visionary develops a sound design and plan to make his idea a reality. This is where Michael Schell, CEO and President of the Approved Group of Companies comes to rescue the bleary eyed business hopeful. Having twenty-plus years in business-to-business sales, Michael Schell and his team surveyed 228 buyers, conducted 330 interviews, and recorded the answers to 4,327 questions with the hopes of developing an easy-to-understand, basic platform to build one’s business. This book is different from others in that it is written from the perspective of the customer.

An emerging businessman can develop a service or product that solves all the problems plaguing a particular market, but if the proper foundation is not established, appropriate clients not targeted, and proper business professionalism not exhibited, the venture is destined to perish. The Customer Approved Small Business is based on numerous business secrets that revolve around the foundation of solid business practices, development of new business, and how to tie it all together.

The forward focuses on the fact that clients in today’s markets are less likely to show loyalty to one business. People go where the overall experience and service meets and exceeds expectations. Therefore, the importance of listening to the customer and curtailing the business model to embrace that premise is critical. Let us not forget that there is a sixty percent rate of failure for a business in its first five years. So, Schell stresses the idea of “measure twice, cut once” and “plan, plan, then execute”. Thus, I decided to refer to this book as a manual/handbook because it gives great instructions and helpful tools to begin to build a well-functioning business that evolves to the volatile market-place.

This manual plunges into building a business foundation. The foundation is built upon ensuring operational efficiency and effectiveness. Schell believes this is achieved by developing manuals (processes, job descriptions, missions). Well written handbooks help to avoid confusion as a business grows and, inevitably, becomes more complex. Thus, it helps to avoid the development of the “micro manager”. We have all had them and the strain they impose in the workplace environment is detrimental to overall goals. Mr. Schell gives tips on how to standardize each process and effectively eliminate the guess work. However, I do feel that a smaller business at the onset should not have as strict predefined roles. Most of the time, smaller businesses have employees that deal with numerous areas in the business and restricting them to specific roles may do more harm than good. While Mr. Schell believes (and rightly so) the ultimate goal of developing manuals is to withstand turn over and, thereby, maintaining stability in business practices.

As the book progresses, Schell examines the development of new business. Whether it is building the prospect database (industries, contacts, locations, etc), cultivating strategies to influence the decision makers, creating ISPS (industry specific positing statements), or telling us, the readers, what not to do during that initial sales call, he provides useful tips that every businessman/woman should know.

A serious pitfall for eager salespeople is to try to make a sale on the first call. I strongly agree. For a business to be “customer approved” according to this book, it is all about developing relationships and showing respect for a potential client’s time. Concentrate on providing a solution that meets the needs of the potential new purchaser. Sales will follow.

Understanding that the first 30 seconds of a call or meeting can make or break one’s success / clinching business, Schell provides tips on ways to The Customer Approved Small Business gives great examples of ways to write opening statements, primary reason statements, and key point statements because those initial thirty-seconds of a call or meeting make or break any hopes of success. As a business continues to grow and hire more employees, having this book as a resource gives the “newbies” a great way to draft their own statements instead of some cookie-cutter elongated paragraph. Getting a new-hire up to speed as quickly as possible increases the opportunity for profitability. I wish I was given this book when I started my job.

The most important sections in this book are the chapters honed in on planning and organizing meetings, developing an overall organization’s structure, and the “What the Buyers Say” sections. The “What the Buyers Say” is spread throughout the book. These tid-bits are notes and comments from business owners themselves regarding how they like to be approached and how they ultimately decide who earns their business. In addition, there are survey percentages given in regards to how many businesses put into practice certain ideas and the average rating of importance. For example, “I prefer to be asked for a moment of my time, but only about 20% of representatives do it” (Schell, pg 33). This was in reference to sales calls. These tid-bits scattered throughout the book are to re-enforce the theme of respecting client’s time and showing the ideal ways to conduct business.

As organization is one of the lifelines to a successful business, Schell gives concrete advice on how to create structure within the business, increase effectiveness of meetings, phone calls, mission statements, and ways to position oneself as an expert in the respective industry. In particular, the sections on developing an agenda before meetings to maximize time and guidelines for conducting follow up phone calls/meetings are excellent templates for anyone starting out or a seasoned veteran looking to fine tune.

Overall, The Customer Approved Small Business does a great job providing advice on laying a sound foundation through the use of manuals, processes, people, and plans. Then, Schell leads the business owner on how to take those plans and ideas and organize them, develop strong mission statements, and adapt to the ever changing business environment. Receiving tips from professionals who actually interact and make decisions based on what they have experienced gives this book an added bonus. The commentary and survey results help guide any start-up business in the right direction. At the end of the day, 60% of all entrepreneurs who set out to fulfill their dreams fail within in the first five years. This book will not save the business owner, but it does harness key knowledge that will ignite the spark that will hopefully burst into full-fledge flames.

~the GURU

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Customer Service... Or Lack There of at Verizon

Verizon should be glad their (cell) service is good

As my previous post stated, I finally took the plunge and purchased a BlackBerry Curve. Thus far, I love the phone; however, my experience at the store was not satisfactory at all.

The play-by-play of how sales should not go:

I walked into the store with the goal that I would not be leaving with out a new phone. I went over to the BlackBerry section and began to tinker with the phones to begin to familiarize myself with them and ensure I was selecting the proper thumb-clicking device. I believe I spent 10-15 minutes of standing there reviewing the phones before I was approached by a sales person. I mean, did I smell? Did my beard intimidate them? Am I too good-looking?

Finally, some man with a clip-board and a supposed suit walked up to me and asked if I needed any help. My response, "I was wondering when someone was going to approach me." Now, of course, I could have be pro-active in seeking advice, but, the fact of the matter is, since I was never even asked initially if I needed help, I wanted to test the waters. I've been in sales for a year now and I'm starting to toy with other sales people to see how good their skills are and see if they really want my business.

Moving along, once I was approached by the clip-board bearing, blue-tooth wielding, sales-person, as I asked my questions, he actually made me feel like an idiot. While I cannot precisely pin-point the exact causes, there were instances in his tone and inflections that really angered me. If I had not been adamant on purchasing a phone I would have left.

Nevertheless, I selected the Curve and then was taken to the counter. This "sales consultant" was even worse. Talk about being so bored and not wanting to show the customer he wanted the business as well. We began the phone upgrade process as I supplied all of my pertinent information. At this point, I thought (sarcastically), I really must be taking up this valuable person's time by me wanting to spending a couple hundred dollars with this company. Not only that, but the ever-annoying "Can You Hear Me Now" Guy was plastered right in front of me and I wanted to break his glasses.

I understand my phone upgrade was pretty much a transactional sale, but how did they know that? Should that matter? At least show the customer you value their business.

As I continue to evolve my sales skills and analyze others, I really paid attention during this "experience." Like I said before, if I had not been so focused to buy my new phone that day (or wanted to waste another trip and gasoline), I would have walked out.

My experience at Verizon was awful. The "sales consultants" made me feel stupid at times, all the employees showed poor customer service, and they made it seem that me wanting to spend money with them was deplorable. Verizon is lucky its cell-coverage is very good where I reside, or I'd be gone.

~the GURU

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I've Sold My Soul

Will I Resist Morphing into a "CrackBerry" Guy?

Ladies and gentlemen, I have gone beyond the point of return, I purchased a BlackBerry Curve over the weekend.

I must say, she is a beauty. I will be doing a product review on my website, after a couple weeks.

However, I have sworn to myself, I will never be the person who "thumbs" through the device while I am having a conversation with someone else...

My experience at the wireless store is another story...

~the GURU