Originally created 11/22/04

Around the watercooler



NOT SELLING: Are you in sales? Do you spending most of your time actually selling, or do you find that you're mostly doing administrative tasks?

Apparently, plenty of sales folks are spending only a fraction of their work time (10 percent) selling, according to an annual survey of sales force effectiveness. Most of their work days are consumed by paperwork, travel and problem solving, according to Proudfoot Consulting, a management consulting firm based in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

"When you think about how critical sales performance is to a company's top line, it is shocking how little time sales reps spend on what they were hired to do - sell," said Luiz Carvalho, Proudfoot's chief executive.

The study also examined how effective salespeople are in eight key selling skills. Barely more than a fifth, 22 percent, of study participants were considered competent in all eight. The rest were found to be poor or requiring improvement.

SEASONAL WORK: It's nearly Turkey Day, which means holiday shopping is about to begin. For those looking for a retail job this season, Vermont-based ResumeDoctor.com has some tips:

- Start right away. "Black Friday," the spirited retail day after Thanksgiving, is too late to stroll in and look for work. An effective staff must be trained and in place before the holiday rush.

- Have a resume ready. Even if it's not grand or fancy, tailor it to the needs of the employer you're targeting and the position you want.

- Consider staffing agencies. Temp folks also earn a living on the needs of seasonal employers. They can help direct you to companies with the greatest needs.

- Practice interviewing. Getting a job, even at a crazed mall crammed with frenzied shoppers, isn't a matter of showing up and asking. Be enthusiastic, and flexible, even if you're asked to work less-than-desirable shifts.

SENIOR CREDIT: When it comes to personal finance, older Americans face a unique and troubling situation.

Those 55 and older control 70 percent of the nation's personal wealth, and account for 80 percent of the fraud complaints lodged with the Federal Trade Commission, according to Your Credit Card Companies, an association formed by a half dozen of the country's largest card issuers. What's more, according to a Federal Reserve study, nearly 80 percent of this group has a credit score of 701 or higher, while another 10 percent are above 660 - scores that can make lenders and thieves alike drool.

So these consumers need to be alert to scams that target older people.

One common Internet scam that is increasing in popularity is known as "phishing," in which a legitimate-looking e-mail or site directs a Web user to a site to "update" personal data - including information that could give someone access to users' money.

Also, don't fall for any credit card offers that assess an "upfront fee" for processing. Reputable bank card issuers are more than happy to consider your credit application for free.

And don't forget the aged but sagest advice: If a credit or other financing offer seems just too good to be true, it probably is.