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Consultant Al Simon Explains How Peachtree Corners Businesses Can Leverage AI

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Al Simon has a message for businesses: if you’re not using AI, you’re as far behind technology as using candlelight instead of electricity.
Sales consultant Al Simon // Photos by Tracey Rice

Al Simon has a simple message for business owners: if you’re not using AI, you’re about as far behind technology as if you’re using candlelight instead of electricity.

This was the core message of his talk at the January Peachtree Corners Business Association’s After-Hours Speaker Series. As a consultant for sales management with Sandler by Neuberger, Simon focuses on small to medium businesses with sales teams of 35 members or less and revenues up to $200 million.

He works with management teams and trains salespeople to improve sales revenue, gross profit margins, and other business metrics.

“Overall, it helps people thrive in their sales and sales management roles,” he said.

His topic, artificial intelligence for selling, involves teaching managers how to use AI to gather and interpret data. A simple Google search uses artificial intelligence, he said, but he also teaches salespeople how to use that information to improve their skills and processes.

Boosting sales enablement

Simon explained that AI could be used for pre-call planning. It’s not difficult to prompt a generative AI program to give you what you need.

A sample query for ChatGPT could be: “I’m a sales rep in the plastics manufacturing industry, and my prospect is an injection molding manufacturer. What are the three best questions I can ask their plant manager?

He emphasized that when prompting the AI, it’s vital to include the role you’re playing, the role of the people you’ll be meeting with and the challenge at hand.

“A prompt that has those components in it will be very effective in terms of coming back with three specific questions to ask,” he said. “It’s pretty cool.”

The biggest advantage of using AI is saving time, he said.

Even though the pre-call planning questioning strategies are important for sales reps, they should also gather information that they can use based on the prospect organization itself.

“I did one for a client of mine, a nonprofit, and … I asked the prompter how this organization can get revenue?” Simon said. “I got a great response —five or six bullet points on exactly how they get the revenue stream.”

He explained that the information is available in other ways, but by using AI, you can save the time it would take to weed through hundreds of pages of documents and reference materials.

“It’s a great way to quickly and efficiently and in a usable way get pretty complex information,” he said. “Back in the day, I hated searching through all those public documents trying to find information.”

Sales management uses for AI

On the sales management or even executive leadership side, Simon said there are many tools that gather metrics and interpret data. He mentioned a platform called Gong that uncovers what’s happening in customer conversations so revenue teams can do more of what’s working and set themselves apart from the competition.

“It analyzes a sales call by looking at how many questions you asked, how much talking you did and how much talking the client did,” said Simon. “You then start to build a database of your sales calls. You’ll be able to see trends.”

The manager can then help the employee ask enough questions or ask the right questions that are important to the sales call.

“Those kinds of things come out of a tool like that,” he said.

He also recommends utilizing a platform that measures close rates for salespeople.

“How often you win deals when you’re not talking to the main decision maker is important data,” he said. “If you’ve got someone who is consistently not calling high enough, so they’re always presenting proposals to a recommender who then has to take the proposal to their boss, it will decrease your close rate.”

Management can review the data and give the salesperson tips on connecting with people higher in the company.

At the end of the day, Simon said those who embrace AI technology will have a leg up on the competition because they are saving time and making better use of resources.

“The whole reason for these management tools is to coach the reps to be more effective,” said Simon.

One of the most valuable investments a business has is in its people, and making them better – even incrementally – can have a significant impact on business, he added. Even if the business is so small that the owner is the primary salesperson, there’s a lot to learn from AI.

Arlinda Smith Broady is part of the Boomerang Generation of Blacks that moved back to the South after their ancestors moved North. With approximately three decades of journalism experience (she doesn't look it), she's worked in tiny, minority-based newsrooms to major metropolitans. At every endeavor she brings professionalism, passion, pluck, and the desire to spread the news to the people.

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BRACK: Peachtree Corners to lose Peterbrooke Chocolatier

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Scottt Gottuso and Geoffrey Wilson.
Scottt Gottuso and Geoffrey Wilson. Photo provided.

Peachtree Corners will soon lose one of its most iconic, popular and tasty businesses.

Peterbrooke Chocolatier, run by Geoffrey Wilson and Scott Gottuso, has been told by Peachtree Forum landlords, North American Properties and Nuveen Real Estate, that its lease will not be renewed. The last day of business will be July 25.

Meanwhile, Peachtree Forum is getting several new stores. They include Kendra Scott, Sucre, and The NOW Massage. Previously announced were Alloy Personal Training, Cookie Fix, Gallery Anderson Smith, Giulia, Lovesac, Nando’s Peri-Peri and Stretchlab. Wilson adds: “We are not in their big picture.”

Wilson has operated Peterbrooke at the Peachtree Forum for 14 years and Gottuso has been there nine years. They have made the chocolatier profitable and doubled sales. Wilson says: “We turned it around through community involvement and made relationships. We worked with the schools, gave donations, did a lot in the community, and made a difference. We produce most everything we sell in the shop, so it’s labor intensive. We make European-style chocolate treats from scratch from the very best ingredients, package it, make gift baskets, and also sell a lot of gelato.”

Key items include truffles, hand-made caramels, cherry cordials, chocolate-covered cookies and pretzels and strawberries hand-dipped in their own blend of chocolates. (They are all good!) One of Wilson’s and Gottuso’s most iconic products is chocolate popcorn. Once you try it, regular popcorn is tasteless. “We sell a lot of it.” Wilson adds: “Gelato sales have carried us in the summertime, since there are not many chocolate holidays in the summer.”

Peterbrooke now has five employees, and would like to have 10, but it is difficult to hire people with the skills in chocolatiering. A key part of its business is corporate companies, such as Delta Air Lines and Capital Insight. The Peachtree Corners’ Peterbrooke has corporate customers as far away as Cleveland, Ohio.

The operators were surprised when the Forum owners did not renew its five year lease. “The big decisions were made in Charlotte or Cincinnati, not locally,” Wilson feels. “We were no longer in their big picture. They want new and glitzy, shiny, fancy and trendy.”

The operators plan to start their own chocolate company, to be called “Scoffrey,” and initially sell online, plus have pop-up locations during holidays, and possibly have a booth in other merchants’ stores on occasions.

“Whatever we do would look different. We might rent a space somewhere close by so that people can still have the good chocolate experience with us, but we won’t have a regular audience walking by.”

Another element: the price of chocolate futures has spiked this year, with a bad crop production year. Wilson says: “That is key to our business and a huge cost increase. That doesn’t help.”

Wilson adds that the forced closing of the Peterbrooke location “is something like the death of a friend. But you go to the funeral and to the wake, and in six months or a year, It won’t be so bad.”

Have a comment?  Send to: elliott@elliottbrack

Written by Elliott Brack

This material is presented with permission from Elliott Brack’s GwinnettForum, an online site published Tuesdays and Fridays. To become better informed about Gwinnett, subscribe (at no cost) at GwinnettForum

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North American Properties Revitalizes Avenue East Cobb

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North American Properties (NAP) has revamped the Avenue East Cobb shopping center in Marietta, boosting its appeal to suburban residents.
The Andrews Brothers performing at Avenue East Cobb via Instagram @avenueeastcobb

North American Properties (NAP) has revamped the Avenue East Cobb shopping center in Marietta, boosting its appeal to suburban residents seeking a more urban lifestyle. Now, it’s being honored as part of the Atlanta Business Chronicle‘s “Best in Atlanta Real Estate” coverage.

NAP is known for transforming properties like Atlantic Station, Colony Square and The Forum.

According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the redevelopment involved demolishing part of the main building to build a public plaza with a stage surrounded by restaurant patios.

A new concierge facility was also added, including a canopy for drop-offs. Additionally, smaller retail buildings were created for standalone tenants. The business mix was updated to include names like Warby Parker, Lululemon and Peach State Pizza.

NAP also increased community engagement by partnering with at least 10 local organizations for social events. These efforts have proven successful. Over the last two years, Avenue East Cobb has seen a 36% increase in sales per square foot thanks to a major rise in foot traffic.

More news from North American Properties can be found here.

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North American Properties Secures 3 New Brands for The Forum

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North American Properties (NAP) and Nuveen Real Estate announced three new businesses are planting flags at The Forum Peachtree Corners.
Sucré – A Sweet Boutique

North American Properties (NAP) and Nuveen Real Estate announced three new businesses coming to The Forum Peachtree Corners (The Forum). The new brands include Kendra Scott, Sucré, and The NOW Massage.

“We’re excited to keep expanding our merchandising mix with more experiential concepts that motivate guests to extend their time on property. In addition to these new leases, several tenants are on track to open over the next few months, and we can’t wait to see the impact,” said Brooke Massey, director of leasing at NAP.

Here are the latest deals to be signed at The Forum:

Kendra Scott ­­– Known for its plethora of accessories and customizable Color Bar experience, jewelry brand Kendra Scott blends classic designs with modern sophistication. Kendra Scott jewelry celebrates individuality and self-expression.

The growing brand has also donated over $50 million to local, national and international causes since its launch in 2010. The 2,284-square-foot space, situated next to Lovesac, opens later this spring, marking the retailer’s fourth location in the NAP portfolio.

Sucré – Founded in New Orleans, Sucré is a gourmet patisserie known for its macarons, gelato and other handmade, French-inspired desserts.

The sweet boutique will occupy a 1,718-square-foot space on the north end of the property and is slated to open later this year. Georgia is the brand’s first out-of-state venture, with The Forum being its third metro Atlanta location and eighth overall.

The NOW Massage – This brand is helping people discover the healing benefits of massage therapy.

The customizable menu offers guests three signature massage styles and a variety of exclusive enhancements like Deep Tissue, Herbal Heat Therapy, Hemp Calm Balm, Gua Sha, Gliding Cupping and more. Located near Mojito’s, the 2,414-square-foot massage boutique debuts late summer. 

These businesses join:

 Alloy Personal Training (opening this month),
Cookie Fix (open),
Gallery Anderson Smith (opening this month),
Giulia (opening this spring),
Lovesac (open),
Nando’s Peri-Peri (coming winter 2024), and
Stretchlab (open).

Since acquiring the property in March 2022, NAP has executed 39 deals with new, existing and temporary tenants alike.

To stay up to date on the latest happenings at The Forum, follow on Facebook Instagram, and X or visit theforumpeachtree.com.

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