CEO Blog

Category Archives: Sales

All blog posts by Kevin Dee, Chairman at Eagle — Canada’s premier staffing agency, related to sales.

Take Notes During Sales Calls

Taking notes quote by DanteWE work hard to get client meetings so it is imperative that they are very productive!

Here are just 10 reasons why salespeople should take notes when meeting with clients.

1.  Your memory is not as good as you think, so take note of what one of the world’s smartest men said!  Albert Einstein once said, “why should I fill my brain with facts I can find in 2 minutes“.

2.  Many meetings are filled with facts, names of contacts, names of projects, details of those projects, budget details etc.  You will not remember all of that data after the fact!

3.  When you can show detailed notes from a client meeting it demonstrates your professionalism to your manager.

4.  Later you can use your electronic calendar to identify the date of any meeting you have had (because of course you also use your calendar religiously) and go back to the notebook you used at that time, to tell you what was said at that meeting.   This can be useful for a million reasons.

5.  Amongst your notes will be tidbits of information that may prove crucial at some future date … contact names, phone numbers, dollar amounts (eg revenue spend of a client), commitments etc.

6.  If you have notes written down then you can quickly share them with anyone … scan and email, transcribe into a CRM or even photocopy and drop on someone’s desk!

7.  The act of writing things down actually improves memory of the facts … so you remember those facts better when you write them down!

8.  Taking notes means that you am not going to forget commitments you make … if you are in a meeting and commit to sending information later it will be highlighted in your notes.  If it is only in your memory then there is a chance you might forget.

9.  When you are meeting with a client and take notes it demonstrates your seriousness/professionalism to the client.

10.  I consider this to be one of the habits I have built that have led to any success I have enjoyed in my career. It is a good habit to cultivate!

“I never dreamed about success.  I worked for it!”  Estee Lauder

Here are 10 TIPS for note taking.

1.  Ask the client if they mind you taking notes, it is just another way to demonstrate your thoughtfulness.

2. Your notes should be legible to you … if your handwriting is bad then use capital letters.

3. Leave lots of space in your notes to add commentary later.

4. Keep all of your notes on one topic or meeting together … don’t have it in different places.

5. If you take notes in a sales meeting it is good practice to transcribe the information into quick notes for the CRM.

6 If you use a consistent method of taking notes then you can always find what you need later when wanting to refer back … so use a notebook, a time management system or some such organised method of collecting notes.

7. Always date notes and list who is present (eg. Joe & Ted or Sales Team etc.), a title would be good too … these can be done before the meeting in your best handwriting to make the notes easier to find.

8. Offer to take notes in company meetings and share them … its a good way to develop note taking skills.

9.  Always review the notes from your last meetings before going to the next meeting.

10.  Work at building good sales habits!

The sales profession offers so much opportunity, but it requires effort and a willingness to learn if you are going to be successful.

“Its the little details that are vital.  Little things make big things happen.” Coach John Wooden

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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Sales 101 – Asking For the Business

Colin Powell thoughts on successSalespeople tend to be social by nature and that can be a double edged sword.  The good part is that they can very often build relationships with people, the bad part is that they spend so much time socialising that they forget about the business!

If your salespeople are getting client meetings but not getting business then there is a good chance this is exactly what is happening!

The client makes time to meet, and your rep has a decent rapport.  The conversation focuses on some non threatening subjects like sports teams or golf, followed by some personal stuff like kids or hobbies.  If the client is smart they will get some information from the salesperson about what they are seeing in the market and before you know it the allotted time is up!

“The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses—behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”   Mohammed Ali

The salesperson leaves feeling good because it was a “great meeting”, “the client really liked me” … or some other such “non revenue generating” points.

The client might be okay with the meeting, but will not have addressed any of their business needs … so they could actually feel like they wasted time, because nobody has time to spare these days!

How do you get your salespeople to address business issues, and potentially ask for business?

One answer is to have a standard practice of using a meeting agenda for every sales call!

  • It forces the salesperson to ensure there are valid business reasons to have a meeting;
  • It puts in black and white the kinds of subjects that lead to business discussions;
  • It demonstrates that you are professional;
  • It is a good sales practice; and
  • It demonstrates that you will not waste your client’s time.

A client can always change the agenda as they see fit, but at least with an agenda there is a starting point that has some thought behind it.

“Thorough preparation makes its own luck.” Joe Poyet

Build good sales habits … ALWAYS use agendas!

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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Silence is Not Always Golden!

Communication quote by John PowellCommunication is more a science than an art.  There are guidelines and even rules that can govern communication which we can use to train people, yet it remains one of the most frustrating aspects of people’s modus operandi!

One of the most frustrating communication traits is when there is silence, when there should be some form of communication.  You know what I mean … that contractor who was going to build your back yard deck was supposed to start last Monday, but he didn’t show and he won’t return your calls.

You were expecting to hear from that relative visiting from abroad, and you don’t know if they are going to show up.

You were expecting an update on a project that is late, but have received nothing.

You applied for a job and you don’t even know if your resume was received, because the recruiter hasn’t even acknowledged your application.

There are many, many such situations.

Invariably, when (if) communication does happen it will begin with, “I had nothing to tell…” or “I was waiting for news to give you…” or “I assumed…”

“Silence is a text easy to misread.”  A. A. Attanasio

We all know that “silence” can be deafening when we are expecting news, but somehow we don’t always translate that into what other people are feeling!

Here are a few thoughts on the subject …

  1. Most times more communication is better than less communication.  (That does not include talking instead of listening.)
  2. It is OK to communicate the fact that there is nothing to report.
  3. Try to put yourself in the shoes of people who might expect to hear from you.
  4. Poor communication erodes relationships as much as anything.
  5. When you don’t communicate at all, the person at the other end will make assumptions that you might not want them to make!

Great communicators are thoughtful, not only in the messages they deliver, but also in when they deliver them.

“Communication is a skill that you can learn.  It’s like riding a bicycle or typing.  If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.”  Brian Tracy
 
Having said all of the above, there are absolutely many times when silence is preferable to words … just not when people are waiting anxiously for an update!

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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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What IS The Comfort Zone … 10 Thoughts?

Einstein quote about mistakes and trying new thingsYou will see all kinds of articles, quotes and advice about “getting outside your comfort zone” and I have certainly written my fair share.  Certainly I see that a lot of people “get it” but there are also many who either don’t see the value, or don’t think they should bother.

So … I thought I would try to demystify these references to the comfort zone.

1.  The comfort zone is a comfortable place.  We are in familiar territory, we do the same kinds of things day in day out.  We deal with the same people, using basically the same processes and don’t try to do anything differently.

There are good reasons to be here.  It is lower stress.  It requires less “thinking”, and creates less errors … because we learn to do the same things over and over again so we get them right!

2.  Getting out of the comfort zone is not for everybody.  Some people would be very stressed out.  They would probably be paralysed by fear or uncertainty if they were forced to change the way they do things.

3.  Our world changes around us all the time.  The mobile phone was not around when I started my career … so the world forces change on us.  It is always better if we can be the ones driving change rather than having it happen to us!  That is what happened to dinosaurs and “buggy whip” manufacturers!

picture showing a circle representing "the comfort zone" with the larger area being "where all the good stuff happens"4.  For the right people change is exhilarating, or at least stimulating, which helps life to be more interesting.

5.  People that want to have successful careers need to be people willing to make changes … rather than have change happen to them.

6.  Change happens as much in our personal lives as it does at work, so a willingness to get outside the comfort zone can be very beneficial in all areas of our lives.  Getting out doing new things can result in new skills, meeting new people and open up new opportunities.

7.  Change, or a venture outside the comfort zone, does not have to be big.  It can start small.  As we get comfortable with small changes, then we can try a little more.  It is similar to learning to swim … start with short distances in the shallow end of the pool.  Ultimately you might swim across the lake, or at a minimum have fun jumping off the dock with your friends!

8.  We grow our muscles by working them hard.  We increase our knowledge by learning.  We grow our life skills by trying new things.

9.  A comfortable place is often a great place to be … but sometimes it is just boring.  Change brings some hassles, but the rewards can be many!

10.  I would sooner get to the end of my life and regret the things I did, rather than the things I never tried.

“Twenty years from now you will more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from the safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover.”  Mark Twain

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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Salespeople and the Comfort Zone

Take care of your customers Bob Hooey quoteIt is very easy for salespeople to get in a groove.

When things are going well, the clients are happy and quotas are being met.

When the client relationships are good, you seem to be getting more than your share of the business.

That is exactly when, as salespeople, we need to be worrying about “complacency”.  It is just too easy to slip into a comfort zone and keep doing what we have been doing, expecting with some good reasoning that the same results will keep coming.

Why would we do anything different?

It is hard to change.

Why mess with something that is working?

Well here are a few reasons that you should think about:

1.  There is a shift in the economy that impacts your clients, and it can happen very quickly.  Suddenly budgets are being cut, suppliers who are not canned are squeezed and generally the world is no longer looking rosy!

2.  A new boss arrives at your client.  Maybe they have preferred relationships from their previous role, maybe they just want to change things up but before you know it things have changed.  You might get to re-compete the business or you might just be “outa there”!

3.  Your key contact at the client moves role, quits, retires or otherwise moves out of the role of decision maker.  Perhaps the new person prefers another supplier, or just doesn’t know you.  Either way your position just changed for the worse in a hurry.

4.  Maybe your company messes up, and the client decides to find another supplier.

5.  Maybe your client company gets bought.

There are lots of things that can go wrong in sales … so there is never a time to be in the comfort zone.

Some thoughts for all salespeople:

1.  Yes, celebrate your wins … just don’t take long because you have work to do!

2.  The comfort zone is one of the most dangerous places you can be.

3.  You can never have enough contacts … get out and meet people.

4.  You need to diversify your contacts in all of your client accounts.  Never be dependent upon one person.

5.  You need to diversify your accounts so that you are not too dependent upon one account.  (Sometimes with very large accounts this might mean having business with multiple departments within the client account).

6.  Business intelligence is very important, so when chatting with your key contacts about the baseball game, their golf handicap or all those other important things don’t forget to ask about the business!  What is new?  What is happening?  Who else could you meet?  Any rumors circulating? etc

7.  Don’t forget to be nice to the people who pay your bills, the people who write your contracts, the admin assistants who you deal with and all those other people who can affect your success in an account.  I’ve seen more than one salesperson undone by ignoring the important people they referred to as “the little people”!

8.  If you are tempted to cut your day short because your client meeting was at 3pm out near your home remember that your competition are working.

9.  To be successful you need to use your time wisely, so invest in yourself.  Take sales courses, practice great time management and bring value to your clients with your knowledge.

10.  Always keep your sales momentum going … because if you lose momentum it becomes so much harder to get it back.  (If you have been there you will know what I mean.)

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Kevin Dee is the Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Use Productive Mini-Breaks to Improve Your Productivity

Time quote How often are you swamped with urgent. “must do” tasks that absolutely consume your day?

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that happens to a lot of people.

The work needs to get done, so you put your head down and do it.

One problem is that other important tasks slip … some of which will be come urgent in time.

If you are in sales that might mean you are not setting up appointments with clients, not doing customer service calls or otherwise hurting your reputation and your pipeline.

IF you commit to taking 5 minutes every hour and knocking off one of your quicker, important tasks then you can significantly increase your productivity!

Here is how it might work for a salesperson.

1.  Have an up to date To Do list … a critical item for any good time management practices.

2.  Identify the quick hit, important tasks.  Setting up meetings; returning client calls; customer service calls; prospect calls.

3.  Block off 5 minutes each hour in your calendar, and set up an alert.

4.  When the alert goes, stop work on the large task …. proposal work, reporting, billing or any other time consuming task … and give 100% focus for 5 minutes to knocking off some quick hits.

At the end of the day you should have 6 or 7 of those small, but important tasks crossed off your list.

Some of the benefits:

1.  It ALWAYS feels good to cross tasks off the To Do list.

2.  You will have created momentum with your quick hit tasks that will be apparent as soon as you finish the big task.

3.  You will have meetings already in your calendar that would not be there if you had not done this.

4.  Very likely the large task will take no longer, because the breaks allow you to be more productive when you go back to the task.

5.  Your To Do list will not feel like a mountain to climb because you have been chipping away at it.

This little trick will help you to be more productive and in sales that typically affects your earnings!

PS.  This trick will work in most professions, because it is difficult to stay 100% focused on one task for hours at a time, the mini-breaks are used productively rather than chatting with a colleague!

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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?
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Persistence or Stalking?

Sales quote from Patricia FrippWhen you are in sales there is a tough line to walk between being a stalker and being persistent.

There are lots of statistics suggesting that salespeople give up too early, BUT if there is no “client need” then pushing too hard is not going to help.

Recently I spotted an article about some reporting tool that caught my interest at that particular moment.  It was a point in time thing, but (silly me) I clicked through to the website.  There are so many tools on the internet that tell suppliers about who has been on their website … so I’m guessing that within microseconds the supplier knew exactly who had just clicked onto their site.

A small sidebar.  I find these tools fascinating, but creepy and I’m pretty sure I am not alone.  Use them carefully, and be empathetic to your “target” … and I use that word carefully!

I guess the fact that I clicked right back off within 5 seconds of reading their landing page was not considered relevant data in their sales and marketing world.

The calls started about an hour later.  “We noticed you were on our site … we’d love to help, give me a call I’m SalesGuy at (xxx) xxx-xxxx”.

Nothing wrong with that, he was responsive and just trying to convert a website visitor.

I ignored the call.

The second call came before the end of the day, and continued twice a day for some time.  All ignored.

I’m an old sales guy, and I have some empathy for a sales guy wanting to make something happen.  I’m also a busy guy running a company who cannot afford to take time out to talk with every sales guy who calls me.

This crossed the line of persistence and became stalking.

“To satisfy our customers’ needs, we’ll give them what they want, not what we want to give them.”  Steve James

So, here is some advice if you really want to get some traction with someone like me, using the tools available to you.

  1. A brief flicker of interest is always worth following up … but read the signs!
  2. A brief flicker of interest CAN be fanned into something more tangible, by feeding it with some valuable information.
  3. If I showed a flicker of interest I might be open to temptation, if it does not take much time.
  4. If you send me a link to your website … it is highly unlikely I will click through.
  5. If you send me attachments it is highly unlikely I will read them.
  6. If you want my attention you will need to be brief, relevant and have some kind of impact.
  7. It is possible to get that interest over time, IF you do not overwhelm me. I have one salesperson who has consistently called me three or four times a year for probably 8 years.  I have never found that to be stalking, but I do admire the persistence … I just have never had need of his services, yet.
  8. A steady flow of interesting content might work over time.
  9. Persistent stalking is going to turn me off quickly and will never get you business.
  10. You can remain “on my radar” because you are professionally persistent. However when the right time comes, I will remember you.

In business to business selling, clients do not always need your services or products right now, but you can still get their interest for when they might.  That of course makes it a longer sales cycle, but it also doesn’t take a whole lot of your sales time.

“Make a customer not a sale.” Katherine Barchetti

Bring value.
Be relevant.
Remain in contact … on a schedule that makes sense.
You might call that “Pragmatic Persistence”!

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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?
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Some Hard Facts About Sales

Your job in sales is to generate business for your employer.

You do this by:

  • Representing your company well.
  • Understanding client needs and problems.
  • Solving those needs and problems with your company’s solutions/products.

“If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”  Zig Ziglar

There a LOT of pieces to that, including:

  • Recognising where there is a fit, and not forcing square pegs into round holes.
  • Recognising that to get the whole story from one client you may need to talk with a lot of people … and listen a lot.
  • Recognising that to uncover one client that actually needs your help will necessitate a lot of rejection from companies that don’t need it today.
  • Recognising that people like to deal with people they like.
  • Recognising that you need to earn trust.
  • Recognising that you need to build credibility.
  • Recognising that this is all hard work … and needs total focus.

“A good listener is not only popular everywhere, but after a while he knows something.”  Wilson Mizner

Look at the chart … this is real life!

Some sales statistics

You need to be able to answer these questions.

  • How many good leads do you need to get “enough” closes to meet your targets?
  • How many meetings do you need to have to get those “good leads”?
  • How many conversations do you need to have on the phone to get those meetings?
  • How many calls do you need to make to get those conversations?
  • How many of those people that you called never hear from you again?
  • How many people you talked with will never hear from you again?
  • Do you have a system and a process to keep in contact with those people … bringing them some kind of value?
  • Why do you think people will buy from you?

There is nowhere to hide … this is what it takes for you to be successful.

“Days are expensive. When you spend a day you have one less day to spend. So make sure you spend each one wisely.”  Jim Rohn

If you are waiting for the phone to ring you might be waiting a long time.

If you are relying on the same clients you relied on last year then you are in decline.

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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?
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Make Change Stick

Jim Rohn quote about cIf you are like me then you will always be looking for ways to be better, in many areas of your life.  I work at my professional role, my home life, my relationships and my health.  If I want to improve anything it requires change, and as we all know change is tough!

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein

It is no big surprise to anyone that wanting to make changes, and being successful at those changes are a world apart!  As anyone who has failed in their attempts to quit smoking, or lose weight can tell you.  I would go so far as to say that most of us will fail at implementing change most of the time, BUT if we truly want to get better we need to find a way!

Effecting change in your life, whether it is as simple as committing to more exercise or as complex as making a career change or starting a business, is hard!  Here are three principles to apply if you want to be successful at implementing change in your life.

  1. Consciously create new routines … the mere act of creating routines will work with your brain, not against it.
  2. Keep it simple … take the “eating an elephant” approach, one bite at a time.
  3. Have a plan … not just a goal, but a plan with action items to help you reach that goal.

It is easier to make small changes and create new routines, than to make BIG changes in your life in one go.  If you can make multiple small changes over time, that together add up to meeting your goal, then you will be far more likely to succeed.

“If you don’t try at anything, you can’t fail… it takes back bone to lead the life you want.”  Richard Yates

It is important that when we “fail” to achieve the change we want, we don’t just give up.  The right answer is to adjust the plan and try again.

“Fall down seven times.  Stand up eight!”  Japanese proverb.

Change becomes easier when we see success from our efforts.  By having smaller goals, and making incremental changes you will see small successes and use them for motivation.
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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?
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Surviving a Downturn (in Alberta?)

oil rigs

I first wrote this blog in January 2015 and here we are in April 2016 … and it still holds true!

Here in Canada, where the resource sector plays such a big role in our economy there is some concern about what kind of economy we are going to see in 2015.  The price of oil is unlikely to recover quickly and the conference board is suggesting that Alberta will head into recession.

This will have people wringing their hands and concerned for their future.  The most pragmatic will already be making plans for the new realities and those who have not yet done that will either throw your hands in the air and hope for the best … or better yet will knuckle down and do what is needed!

The following is advice that I remember reading from Tom Peters at the start of the last recession … it was sobering, but reality.  It seemed like a good time to pull it out again.

I am constantly asked for “strategies/’secrets’ for surviving the recession.” I try to appear wise and informed—and parade original, sophisticated thoughts. But if you want to know what’s going through my head, read the list below:

You work longer.
You work harder.
You may well work for less; and, if so, you adapt to the untoward circumstances with a smile—even if it kills you inside.
You volunteer to do more.
You always bring a good attitude to work.
You fake it if your good attitude flags.
You literally practice your “game face” in the mirror in the morning, and in the loo mid-morning.
You shrug off shit that flows downhill in your direction—buy a shovel or a “pre-worn” raincoat on eBay.
You get there earlier.
You leave later.
You forget about “the good old days”—nostalgia is for wimps.
You buck yourself up with the thought that “this too shall pass”—but then remind yourself that it might not pass anytime soon, so you re-dedicate yourself to making the absolute best of what you have now.
You eschew all forms of personal excess.
You simplify.
You sweat the details as you never have before.
You sweat the details as you never have before.
You sweat the details as you never have before.
You raise to the sky the standards of excellence by which you evaluate your own performance.
You thank others by the truckload if good things happen—and take the heat yourself if bad things happen.
You behave kindly, but you don’t sugarcoat or hide the truth—humans are startlingly resilient.
You treat small successes as if they were Superbowl victories—and celebrate and commend accordingly.
You shrug off the losses (ignoring what’s going on inside your tummy), and get back on the horse and try again.
You avoid negative people to the extent you can—pollution kills.
You eventually read the gloom-sprayers the riot act.
You learn new tricks of your trade.
You network like a demon.
You help others with their issues.
You give new meaning to the word “thoughtful.”
You redouble, re-triple your efforts to “walk in your customer’s shoes.” (Especially if the shoes smell.)
You mind your manners—and accept others’ lack of manners in the face of their strains.
You are kind to all mankind.
You leave the blame game at the office door.
You become a paragon of accountability.
And then you pray.

Thanks Tom!

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Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Gain a competitive edge!  Join Eagle’s Executive Consulting Network!
Find Canada’s top hot jobs, updated in real-time!  Visit Eagle’s Job Centre!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) VirtualRecruiter service?
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