Archive for May, 2011

Video Marketing – One Consistent Downfall

Okay, I am old and I freely admit to being technology challenged. Yes, I have a mobile device, but I know I do not use it to its full advantage. Of course I have a computer, actually a new one with a much faster processor and 4 gigs of random memory along with a one terabyte hard drive. I should be okay for another 12 to 24 months before I will need another new hard drive.

Credit www.mozealous.com

My integrated marketing  plan does include social media, blogging and article writing. Also, I am consistently learning to overcome my technology deficits as well as other ones by subscribing to a plethora of RSS feeds or Google alerts. However I am discovering one consistent downfall with this technology tool of video marketing. That downfall is time or rather lack of time.

Being from the generation that learned to do from reading, I can usually read far faster than someone speaks. Videos are very time consuming as well as push my lack of patience button even higher between the introductions, the pauses, etc. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Time once spent can never be recovered.

Yes I know the Generation X and Generation Y love videos as the primary means to receive messages and information. For me, so many videos are more like long, dragged out affairs with once again the emphasis on the speaker or what I call “ego watch me go” mode.

Now there are some who respect the viewers time such as John Maxwell in his Minute with Maxwell or Simple Truths with their 3 minute DVDs. I have come across a few others where there message is delivered in 3 minutes or under. However, those who are succinct are far fewer in numbers than those who are wordy.

For example, I just clicked on a video “Ten Tech Tools for Your Business.” Beyond having to listen to the intro which was nothing more than a captive advertising message, the actual video was 23 minutes long. There was no supplemental text.  In reading the comments, it appears I was not the only person unhappy with the delivery system. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  I scan comments first to see if the video marketing message has value.

Since the purpose of marketing is to attract attention, as in the previous headline copy of “Ten Tech Tools for Your Business” and to build a relationship, then why tick off potential customers by going on and on and on?  The opportunity to satisfy their wants is right in front of you. Instead, the video marketing message turns off the viewer and creates negative emotions.  Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Negative emotions usually do not result in the ability to increase sales.

If you employ video marketing within your integrated marketing plan with the goal to increase sales, then you may wish to remember that time is precious. Craft an emotionally compelling message in under 3 minutes, one minute is better.  Leave the wordy messages for those who appreciate authors such as Dickens in a Tale of Two Cities where he writes “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” and then goes on and on and on.

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Happy Memorial Day

In my weekly business column for the Post-Tribune of Northwest Indiana, I wrote about Memorial Day as a salute to leadership and provided some not so common facts. If you have a moment, please read it and share your thoughts there, back here or even on Facebook.

Today is a day to thank those leaders who have fallen in service of our country as well as those who have served and are no longer with us.

For without their service,

we would not be the greatest county

in the world.

God Bless America!

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Foolish, Clueless Marketing Messages Anyone?

Yesterday I received an email (think marketing message) from a Social Media connection asking me if I “want to shorten my sales cycle” with the implication to increase sales. Given that 3 out of 4 last clients have been earned on the first telephone or contact, I am unsure as to how he can shorten this sales cycle anymore.  Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Only 2% of all sales are earned in the first contact.

Also, since I am a sales coach, I was quite surprised to get this marketing message from another sales coach.

When I receive these types of foolish marketing messages, I take these quick actions:

  1. Search for the person on Google using his or her names in quotes to see how many hits and them compare that number to what my name generates on Google in quotes
  2. Check out there Alexa.com website site and again compare the results to mine
  3. With time permitting, look at LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter

The reason I take these actions is to confirm if this is someone who truly understands marketing, selling and sales or another guru looking to make a fast buck. When I receive a marketing message that clearly indicates I do not fit his or her ideal customer profile, what this action does is confirm this person is foolish, clueless or both.

Here is why this individual was both foolish and clueless.

#1: People buy from people they know and trust. In this case, yes we may be connected, but we do not know each other and therefore I know I do not trust this individual. Additionally his communication copy did not inspire trust. Sales Training Coaching Tip: All marketing messages should honor this first sales buying rule.

#2 – People buy first on emotion then justified by logic. Sales Training Coaching Tip: The presumption is the emotion is positive and links back to the first sales buying rule.

#3 – People buy on value unique to them. Sales Training Coaching Tip: By presuming my value is the same as everyone else’s can be very dangerous.

Foolish clueless marketing messages are a turn off and will not support the efforts to increase sales. The advantage to these poor attempts to attract attention is good writing fodder for this sales blog.

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Inconsistencies, Self Promotion, Social Media – Friday’s Editorial

How to increase sales is on the minds of most small business owners to crazy busy sales people. The ways are many with the results varying in degrees of success.

Social media has become a congested cyber highway with eager beaver business professionals seeking to get ahead of the traffic flow as their way to increase sales. Yet, there are road bumps even in this marketing delivery system to increase sales.

Two of these bumps in the road so to speak are inconsistencies and self promotion.  For example in LinkedIn, there are three main tabs, Discussion, Promotion and Jobs. Unfortunately because the promotion tab is not promoted by LinkedIn, the discussion tab becomes the place for self promotion of free webinars, books, seminars, etc.  I

n the past I would flag these self promotions and sometimes make a comment such as “When is a promotion a discussion?”  This comment was viewed by some as negative. Go figure.  Kill the messenger because you don’t like the message. Now I realize there is no fix for stupid so I will refrain from comments and curtail my time on LinkedIn.  My time can be better invested where people are more respectful and can actually read.

Now inconsistencies is a very broad area. My take here is more philosophical.  If social media is a way to attract attention and build relationships (the purpose of marketing), then would it not make sense to support others who are also attempting to attract attention and build relationships? The inconsistency is when you are always focused on you and yet you say you support other businesses, how do you demonstrate that support? As the old expression goes,

Actions speak louder than words.

To grow the local business community economy starts from within.  By supporting, patronizing, and even acknowledging other local businesses demonstrates that you truly care about the economic viability of your business community.

Liking a posting is a positive action or behavior. What would happen if you shared links from the local newspapers or from other Facebook postings regarding the good things that have happen to other local small business owners and sales professionals? These demonstrated actions could also then be posted on Twitter or on other social media sites. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Remember it is not about you as the sales person or leave your ego at the door.

What I am not saying is to promote willy nilly.  Be thoughtful and promote those who you know to be ethical businesses.

BNI, (Business Networking International), has a motto of “giver’s gain.”  When you give more, you gain more.

By embracing this approach of how to increase sales, you truly can as I say Be the Red Jacket in the social media sea of gray. And who knows, you may come back from appointments, find a large mailing envelop, open it to discover a huge thank you card along with a special key ring from a local small business owner.

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Moving Sales Targets and How to Increase Sales, Not

Most hunters know that successfully hitting a moving target is difficult.  This is why taking aim at a standing still one makes far greater sense and increases success.

So why do sales managers as well as the C Suite team continue to deliver moving targets to their sales teams while increasing the expectations (think sales quotas)?

This behavior is becoming more and more prevalent at least from what I am hearing from my sales coaching clients.  One minute the sales manager and in some cases the CEO is telling the sales team to sell more and then when an opportunity presents itself, possibly somewhat out of the norm, but not impossible to meet, the immediate response is “Did you tell them we don’t do that?”

With the market place changing at what appears warp speed, no longer can organizations afford to miss any sales opportunity especially if it is with an existing customer.

So you don’t do that!

  • What would happen if you could find a strategic partner who does that?
  • Possibly, you could return to your R&D department and determine if altering your solution is possible especially with a high value client?
  • How about if you had truly been hearing what the customer wanted instead of focus on what you think the customer needed especially if it fit into your existing solutions (think products and services)?

For example, if the goal is how to increase sales, this may require a conversation with both active and inactive customers. One of my sales coaching clients is engaged in that process right now and has learned:

  • Technology sites are providing some of her services for free
  • Overall business is down for her inactive and active clients
  • Opportunities still exist with new and existing clients

Another sales coaching client is finding his customers want more back end support and do not need any new products.  Unfortunately, his company is resistant to offering this support and is truly focused on selling more widgets. And to make matters worse, his competitors are in some cases stepping up to the plate and providing what the customer wants.

Then there are the cases with small business owners who want to increase sales, yet continually move the targets they expect their sales teams to hit.

For example, a salesperson makes a cold call and the customer needs something right now. This item is not currently available by the competitor. The salesperson checks with his warehouse and he has it for delivery today.  Details regarding the account are taken and forwarded to the sales manager.  Management calls back and tells the salesperson that the credit must be approved. This process will take 2 to 3 days even though he just was told this morning in the meeting called by the sales manager to find new business, open new accounts and outperform the competition.

Moving targets only contribute to poor morale, dysfunctional  sales teams as well as may create negative emotions about the organization as well as the salesperson. Sales Training Coaching Tip: People buy from people they know and trust.

How to increase sales is a direct result of alignment between all departments as well as the removal of any inconsistencies between strategy, structure, processes, rewards and people. Moving sales targets and how to increase sales are totally incompatible not to mention absolutely ludicrous.  Maybe it is time to have a honest analysis of your strategies, structure, processes, rewards and people if your sales people are not hitting their quotas.

Possibly the problem respective how to increase sales is

“moving sales targets”

and not the sales skills of your people?

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How a Sales Blog May Increase Sales

A recent posting over at Sold Lab shared 6 points in how to increase sales through the use of a sales blog. Each of the points expressed by the writer are valid.

What the posting does not address is the need for an integrated marketing plan where the blog or other social media vehicles along with any additional Internet marketing is aligned to the overall marketing plan using an education based marketing approach.  Another critical element not discussed was the importance of keywords.  Both of these strategies are required when using a blog to increase sales.

To be found on the Internet given the incredibly vast number of web sites including blogs is not an easy task.  Understanding what words people write down in the Google Search Bar helps you to attract more attention. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  The purpose of marketing is to attract attention and build a relationship.

Of course, the words you believe someone may be using and the actual words may comprise two distinct and different lists. Using Google analytics, statistics from your CPanel or some other metric assessment software can help you determine how you can be better found in cyberspace. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  If you do not have time, then hire someone to help you. This is an investment well worth making.

These key words also need to be infused into all of your marketing copy. For example even though I am not fond of the word “consultant”  or “business consultant” to ignore this in my marketing copy is just plan foolish. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Sometimes you may need to get our of your own way. I know I had to.

Additionally, not all words may be actively searchable words and those words then should reflect some higher emotional reaction.  Sales Training Coaching Tip:  People buy first on emotion then justify that buying decision logically. Sales Buying Rule #2

Yes a well written, consistent, key word rich, emotionally engaging sales blog can help to achieve the purpose of an integrated marketing plan and its two fold goals:

  1. Make a friend
  2. Be asked back for that critical face to face meeting

Depending upon your solution (products or services), you may actually increase sales on that first contact or call.

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What Lies Keep You From Your Goal to Increase Sales?

An interesting post by Geoffrey James suggested there are 10 top lies that crazy busy sales people tell themselves. These lies obviously are not how to increase sales, but rather how to rationalize why you cannot increase sales.

Credit www.sxc.hu

James make reference to this two word phrase in his first paragraph – self deception.  One of the best books to explore this obstacle to improved sales performance is Leadership and Self-Deception getting out of the box by the Arbinger Institute.

Self deception as the Arbinger Institute “determines one’s experience in every aspect of life.” What happens is the individual blames other people or other objects for his or her problems instead of seeing the root cause of the problem lies within him or her. When self deception happens, sustainable solutions are not possible.

In sales, there is a lot of self-deception because sales people are sometimes to close to the trees and cannot see the forest or anything else nearby.  James’ list of 10 lies are pretty straight forward.

One commonality within many of these 10 sales lies is the failure of the salesperson to do his or her homework especially when it comes to qualifying sales leads.  When I first wrote Be the Red Jacket, I included 4 sales buying criteria:

  1. Decision maker who has the authority to sign the check or purchase order
  2. Allocated budget where there is money allocated to your products or services (just because the potential client has money, it may not be allocated or your contact may not be able to authorize transfer of the dollars)
  3. Wants and needs for your solution (products or services)
  4. Urgency to take action

With the challenges of change, I realized, at least in my executive consulting and small business sales coaching practice, there must be urgency to take action (sales buying criterion #5).  For without urgency, no decision will be made even if all four other criteria are present.  As the old expression goes, “Change is good, you go first.”

Another commonality is self imposed limitations such as cold calling does not work or I keep everything in my head. One of the behaviors I have adopted is to write an executive summary after each interaction with a potential customer a.k.a. prospect or a client. This helps me to stay abreast of what has transpired and any commitments I promised to make.  Additionally by sending these back to the potential customer or client demonstrates my value and helps to continue that branding of  I am the Red Jacket in the Sea of Gray Suits. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Use technology to help you remember. Save your brain’s memory for really important and critical information.

Of all the 10 top sales lies, I must agree with James #10 as this is supported by sales research. With almost 50% of all sales leads not acted upon for whatever the reason, there is plenty of opportunities for crazy busy sales people.  Unfortunately, the majority of sales people (90%) because they believe they are crazy busy (self imposed limitations) and probably not having a process to manage their sales leads only follow up on sales leads three times even though 90% of all sales are made between the fourth and twelfth contacts.

Maybe it is time for you to take stock of what lies you are telling yourself especially if you are not realizing your goal how to increase sales.  As always, the choice is yours to take action or not to take action. Remember, indecision is a decision not to take action and possible more self deception on your part.

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How to Increase Sales Tip – Remove the Destructive Distractions

Technology upgrades have forced me to rethink my home office and my sales productivity. This reflection has me relocating to my first floor office that had become more of a library than a sales productivity center.

What I have learned from this relocation and consolidation (as I am a pack rat) is that I made a conscious decision to remove as many distractions as possible with the first one being the television set.  Even though having the news on provided me a contact with the real world, I now realize it was interfering with my thought processes,  my focus not too mention overall sales productivity.

Distractions can easily detour your daily to do’s as well as your thinking process. This is why I tell clients who are taking one of the several online assessments I offer to remove ALL distractions. For when the phone rings, someone knocks on your door, the computer tells you that you have mail, then the path you are currently walking down suddenly takes a detour and you may not end up where you want to be. Sales Training Coaching Tip: Sometimes it makes sense to follow your own advice.

The detour costs time and time for crazy busy sales people as well as small business owners once spent, used or enjoyed can never be tangibly recovered. Once we realize in our “how to increase sales efforts” that distractions are destructive to our sales productivity, we can them put a plan in place to overcome those destructive non productive activities.

P.S. In the days to come, I shall share some over “how to increase sales tips.

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Gratitude with a Personal Touch to Increase Sales

Credit www.sxc.hu

Yes, the Internet is a way to market and to attract attention.  Since the majority of businesses are non-employed (meaning no employees), their marketing resources (available dollars) are limited.  Using social media, search engine optimization and other activities called Internet marketing are very beneficial.

However to totally embrace Internet marketing or the traditional marketing such as paid advertising, brochures, direct mail at the exclusion of the other is probably not the best marketing strategy. For people still buy from people and enjoy if are not totally thrilled with the personal touch.

And when that personal touch shares your gratitude then all the better.

Pitney Bowes conducted a survey at the end of 2010 and it revealed that email mail is being ignored while direct mail is being opened at a much higher rate (78%).  Of course this survey is somewhat self serving.

However, think about when you get mail outside of every day personal or business bills?

You see your name handwritten on a card size envelop or a colored envelope.  What do you do?  Do you casually toss it on your desk to be opened later when you have time? Or, do you open it because you are curious about it’s content especially if it isn’t a special day for you or a holiday?

Then you read it and someone is acknowledging you or thanking you for:

  • The opportunity to meet you
  • A recent achievement
  • Becoming a client

Suddenly, you smile and are pleased with his or her action.

Since gratitude comes from the Latin word “gratus” or grace  meaning pleasing, then you smile shows you are pleased with this person’s attitude of grace.

Yes being technology smart and using technology to increase sales is a good business strategy. Yet the more sustainable business strategy is to continue with the personal touch of gratitude especially if you do wish to increase sales.

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No Email on Business Cards, What Gives?

In today’s technology driven and global business marketplace, having complete information on your business card is a must especially if you wish to increase sales.  However, for the life of me I cannot understand why sales professionals to small business owners still fail to include an email on their business cards.

Since business to business networking is about connecting with potential new customers, strategic partners, centers of influence (think referral partners) and ultimately being able to increase sales, then ensuring that you can be contacted is critical. Not to have your email address on your business cards is simply foolish and more importantly tells others you are not serious about business.

P.S. Always make sure you have business cards on you. Failure to do so again suggests you are not serious about business.

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