Archive for March, 2013

Business Growth Marketing Liaison The Next Generation of Talent Management

business-growth

Many small business owners believe that hiring another sales person will increase sales and expand business growth.  Possibly in the past this was true, but for today’s small business owners a new position must be created especially when in the start up phase. This person will be 100% about business growth; will be the in house liaison between marketing and selling; and will represent the next generation of talent management.

Since small business owners initially start in the role of specialist usually sales, the marketing is also left to these crazy busy people through:

  • Business to business networking events
  • Traditional buying of advertising
  • Cold calling

Yet with all the research about the impact of technology (mobility, social media, Web 2.0, etc.) especially through content marketing, the small business owners of today and of tomorrow will need to  hire one person to respond to business growth through:

A recent report by Eloqua, Modern Marketing, also identified these specific skills, knowledge, attitudes and talents (SKAT) as necessary to manage business growth through marketing in today’s very socially alive technology world:

  • Technology knowledge specific to marketing, monitoring of social media as well as business intelligence
  • Analytical skills to understand and measure marketing ROI
  • Conversion skills and attitudes to enhance collaboration with both internal and external customers
  • Engagement talents from blogging to demand generation
  • Targeting knowledge and skills respective to the buying process as well as changing market trends

With change happening sometimes in less than 24 hours, having an outside marketing firm that does not know the intricacies of the small business becomes a detriment and places small business owners behind the business growth curve and flow.

Probably the best person is someone who is initially willing to work sales either outside or inside part time and then devote the other 50% of the time to business growth marketing.  This would provide the individual the opportunity to understand the sales process, the buying process, the brand perceptions and have an ear as to what are some of the current issues and trends facing the customers of any small business.

Yes times are changing thanks mostly to technology. In several years most small businesses will have a business growth marketing liaison whose impact will increase sales to the tune of thousands of dollars while making it somewhat easier not only for the small business owner but the rest of the sales team.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is a heurist who looks to discover new ways to guide and support rapidly growing small businesses or those who wish to grow beyond their current employees as well as executives in chaos.  She can be reached at 219.759.5601 CST.

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Why Support Your Competitors?

Years ago one of my colleagues, Doug Brown,  made this very insightful remark:

competitors

We drive by more business than we will ever have.

So when I am asked this question, which I am asked rather frequently, “Why support your competitors?” I say “why not?” with this one caveat.

Those competitors you support should share your business ethics and also be forward thinking leaders within your industry.

I am very fortunate to be in several communities where everyone is a potential competitor. Yet it is amazing the friendship, the knowledge and the wisdom I have gained from belonging to these communities of forward thinking leaders with incredibly high business ethics.

For me to start naming names, I might leave out someone. I would not want to unintentionally hurt anyone’s feelings and given their positive attitudes I do not believe they would feel that way.  And possibly I am being somewhat selfish by not sharing their names.

The benefits beyond the personal relationships is to my other communities. My colleagues, friends and clients now have additional insight, knowledge and wisdom that I could not provide.

  • Different perspectives are essential to business growth.
  • Variety is truly the spice of life.
  • Life is too short to live in fear of the competition beyond the one we all share – the status quo.

So if you want to grow your communities either the face to face local business to business  networking or those within your social media influence maybe it just may make sense to reach our to your competitors provided they are forward thinking leaders with high business ethics.

Who knows you just may learn something?

Of course, if you are fearful of losing a client or a sale,  you will probably lose far much more than just a few dollars.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is a heurist who looks to discover new ways to guide and support rapidly growing small businesses or those who wish to grow beyond their current employees as well as executives in chaos.  She can be reached at 219.759.5601 CST.

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Emotional Intelligence in the Streams of Social Media

Much has been written about emotional intelligence regarding business and leadership. However from my observations of the past couple of weeks, there is far kess written about emotional intelligence within social media.

emotional-intelligence

First let us not forget social media is a marketing channel to attract attention and begin to build relationships. Through technology especially smart phone and other devices allows us to be in and out of these various social media communities.  Then with automation tools such as Hoot Suite, some appear to be in these social media streams 24/7. This continued social media presence does create backlisting where others can find our what you wrote or posted months before.

Second, let us remember the words we write have impact and consequences. Our interactions may be positive, negative or neutral. Innocent words may be blow way out of portion or a thoughtful analysis may be viewed as incompetent and even potentially dangerous within our communities or industries. Just think how you feel when you see responses in all capital case letters?

Third, to ignore emotional intelligence is equally dangerous. How we respond by the words we choose to write speaks volumes about who we are as individuals; our depth and breathe of knowledge; our biases and most importantly our core positive values and business ethics.

Yes one can be the contrarian by always challenging others. I know quite a few who take that position rather well including myself sometimes. What those individuals all share is a high degree of emotional intelligence compared to others who engage in name calling to derisive insults just to make themselves look to be better, more intelligent.

One hundred years ago, a rather smart and insightful man, Dale Carnegie, wrote a book “How to Win Friends.” This book was written long before Howard Gardner, Daniel Goleman and others expounded inter-personal and intra-personal intelligences.

Maybe it is time for those in business leadership roles (that means everyone)  to revisit that classic and start apply those key concepts within the streams of social media?  Who knows, maybe it will convert a few of those Internet Trolls not to mention all those over reactionary individuals who are so busy wanting others to hear their positions they fail to be emotionally intelligent.

Speaking of being a sometimes contrarian, consider this free webinar, Only April Fools Sell on Value, Thursday, April 4, 2013 fro 12-12:30pm.

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Internet Trolls, Story Tales and Backlisting

The content marketing world of today opens many up for criticism from Internet trolls. Until I read about Internet trolls from a colleague I did not know this phrase applied to relentless critics because I still thought about trolls like in the 3 Billy Goats Gruff or those very cute and colorful little troll dolls.  Guess that shows my age!

Internet-trolls

Recently several of my colleagues have been experiencing vicious and unwarranted attacked from an Internet troll. This Internet troll person and I have agreed to disagree on several other social media platforms. My impression was his ego was getting the best of him kinda of like the Big Bad Wolf in “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down.”  I am sure you have encountered this type of individual somewhere in your life travels.

Responding to this type of person does no good as he or she will just continue the back and forth volley. I don’t mean to be sexist, but from my experiences there appear to be far more male Internet trolls than female ones.  My sense is women have more emotional intelligence and would rather place their efforts elsewhere. Of course some may contend that women do not create the controversial content that men do. Then it might be the male ego? Who knows? I digress.

Critics will always be part of life and provide the benefit of making great story tales. How we respond is a matter of choice. And through the power of the technology we can quickly determine through backlisting if these individuals are true critics or Internet trolls before we make that choice.

Content marketing writers be they sales training coaching authors to consultants will always experience disagreement and that is a good thing. What is not good is when those with disagreements lack positive business ethics and believe they have the right to malign others.

The lessons to be learned are Internet trolls are now a part of the business, social media blogging world.  Recognize them for what they are, mean spirited, malcontent, insecure, pathetic and very sad individuals.  And then smile because you are not like them.

 

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Plato’s Wisdom Resonates for a Successful Sales Process

Plato wrote in The Republic “[the] beginning is the most important part of any work. A successful sales process (the work) usually begins with marketing (attracting attention) followed by selling (earning the sale). With a few, very few, sales processes there is a third phase which I believe to be keeping (keeping top of mind awareness and securing 3 referrals).

sales-process

Traditionally,  the focus on the sales process is the middle of selling; closing the deal, you know what I mean and not the beginning of marketing. However more and more marketing research such as revealed by Microsoft Advertising regarding multitasking through cross screen engagement suggests effective marketing is becoming far more important than selling. This is not good news for all those sales training coaching experts who believe a successful sales process is 100% about sales or selling.

So if you wish to increase sales through your sales process, consider improving your marketing message and strengthening your marketing channels by better understanding how your potential customers react in today’s mobile economy. Maybe if we place Plato’s wisdom in the context of today’s vernacular “It is the beginning stupid!” it may gain more traction.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is a heurist who looks to discover new ways to guide and support rapidly growing small businesses or those who wish to grow beyond their current employees as well as executives in chaos.  She can be reached at 219.759.5601 CST.

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Marketing to the Multitasking Archetypes of Carl Jung

multitasking

Every day is filled with new marketing research especially with the ongoing influence of  mobile technology. According to a report on cross-screen engagement released by Microsoft Advertising, Flamingo Research and Ipsos, there appear now to be four common multi-screen pathways to potential customers or consumers.  Each pathway is driven by specific needs.

Potential customers or buyers who own multiple devices suggest a strengthening of the reliance on smart devices along with gaming consoles for:

  • Inspiration
  • Information
  • Communication
  • Entertainment

Each pathway of multi-screening has distinct motivations for this multitasking. For example there is content grazing where this is thought to be a distraction behavior compared to investigative spider webbing which is discovery driven. Then there is social spider webbing with the motivation to connect and share. The fourth pathway of quantum is sequential with an intentional based motivation.

Further each of these pathways have specific activities along with the number of screens being used. Bottom line is marketing has indeed become far more complicated with all this multitasking.

What was interesting was the connection between Archetypes of Carl Jung and how these people ( think potential buyers)  related mentally to these devices. The research suggested the following:

  • Television is “the everyman”
  • Computer is “the sage.”
  • Mobile is “the lover.”

With the impact of multiple screens and multiple functionalities, this study of cross screen engagement has identified:

  • Jester as the “gaming console”
  • e-Reader as “the dreamer”
  • Tablet as “the explore”

What this means is marketers, think small business owners, may need to take a more holistic view or what I call the Sea to See Level  marketing approach.  This approach requires content that works specifically at the “Sea Level” for a one type of buyer and then the “See Level” where content is adjusted to fit each screen for other potential customers.  The content is becoming more narrowly focused to meet the needs of the buyers. No longer can the marketing message that in the past was on radio can be easily transferred to television or print with the same success.

The advice to be gleamed by small business owners from this marketing research report is:

  1. To begin to learn more about how people are being attracted through multitasking using different technology tools
  2. If you are hiring a marketing firm make sure they understand these nuances.

My sense is most local marketing firms probably have not read this report and still are advocating traditional based marketing solutions that probably are not reaching your very mobile multitasking target audience.

If you have 30 minutes of time on Thursday, April 4 from 12-12:30pm CDT, you may find this free webinar Only April Fools Sell on Value of interest.

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Business Ethics and Backlists

Human beings being human beings do not always see eye to eye. These different viewpoints help to spawn further discussion and insight. However how we handle these disagreements respective to our business ethics can be very public in today’s 2.0 Social Media World.

business-ethics

Yesterday, one of my colleagues from a strategic community of like minded and forward thinking sales leaders, sales coaches and sales trainers was publicly attacked by someone else. This written assault was almost a bombardment given the number of postings the attacker proliferated in the social media world. I guess he truly wasn’t really busy to be able to devout so much time to this endeavor and he doesn’t realize his comments are now part of his backlists as described by Seth Godin.

After reading the ongoing internal discussion thread from various members, the group decided not to engage with this individual because he was screaming for attention and to respond would result in being contrary to the shared business ethics within this group. Most within the group had encountered this individual within other social media sites including myself.

My sense is anyone who has established some credibility through his or her blog, writings and overall social media presence will kick up the ire of someone else. I remember another colleague who included a non swear word  in a blog headline and some thought the use of that word was very offensive. In context it was quite appropriate. Granted I would not have employed that specific word, but that is me not him.

How we handle these personal and public attacks speaks to our own business ethics. I realize what I write will not be accepted by everyone and that is “Okay.”  I welcome respectful push back to negative comments and will post them here on this blog. What I will not re-post are comments that may offend other readers or that may start a back and forth bickering.

Additionally I know that eventually I will come to the point of “We agree to disagree” and then disengage from further discussion because I know that other person is not listening; further discussion is a waste of time and this may lead to increased hostility. And most importantly, I know my comments, my written words will exist in the back unknown regions of this social media world and be subject to backlists as well.

To engage in personal and public attacks only makes you the attacker a much less credible business professional and showcases to the world your lack of business ethics.

In a world filled with a plethora of individuals within the sales training coaching arena, differentiation sometimes is very hard to achieve. One proven behavior is always to be consistent with one’s business ethics.

We can share our viewpoints, our knowledge, our expertise in a way consistent with our business ethics and positive core values. And given the breathe of the 2.0 Social Media World, one truly does not know who knows whom and as Seth Godin described those backlists will be out there forever.

Maybe my Swedish grandmother had it right when she shared with me many, many years ago:

“If you cannot say anything nice, then shut your teeth.”

Leanne Hoagland-Smith by being a heurist looks to discover new ways to guide and support rapidly growing small businesses or those who wish to grow beyond their current employees as well as executives in chaos.  She can be reached at 219.759.5601 CST.

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Sales Leadership Talent of Project Scheduling

Many in sales leadership roles think of project scheduling from a sales management perspective instead of understanding this talent is truly all about time management for every salesperson.

sales-leadership

Project scheduling is “the ability to understand the proper allocation of resources for the purpose of getting things done within a defined time frame.  This capacity will include the ability to minimize dependence on one critical function of production.  It will also include identifying alternatives in work tasks and maximizing the physical facilities available.” (Source Innermetrix) By taking this perspective, can you better understand why project scheduling is critical to the sales success of every salesperson?

Individuals who have a good score specific to this sales leadership talent “can effectively allocate resources in an effective way so as to maximize their efficiency.  They can make the best use of time; not wasting or allowing resources to sit idle.”

Conversely, those who lack this sales leadership talent have “difficulty in dealing with the complexity of satisfying multiple demands with a limited number of resources in a limited amount of time.”

When it comes to time management, is not this sales leadership critical? Also consider this talent supports sustainability initiatives because resources are maximized and not wasted.

Believe it or not there are 78 talents and if you wish to know your talents and those specific to sales leadership then take advantage of this special offer that ends on March 31, 2013.

 

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In the Sales Process There Are Consequences to the Keeping Phase

For me, sales process consists of three (3) phases marketing and selling and keeping.  And it is this last phase of “Keeping” were so many opportunities to increase sales are lost.

sales-process

Recently a new small business client shared with me one of his vendors was unhappy that he (the new client) went elsewhere for a solution. Now my immediate question is why did the my client go elsewhere? My next question was what actions did his vendor take to “keep” his client?

How many times after a sale is made the client or customer is almost forgotten until the next sales opportunity arises?  Of course, the vendor does not know who else is courting his or her customer or what new contacts the client has amassed. Additionally with so much information available, the client may be better informed than in the past.

With all these unknowns, why vendors do not do more to keep their clients is beyond me. And this is exactly why a keeping phase should be part of every sales process.

The goal should be two fold:

  1. Top of mind awareness (TOMA)
  2. Secure at least 3 referrals

Also, there should be specific steps or methodology in this “Keeping” Phase of the sales process.

When customers go elsewhere, the most short sighted behavior to take is to become mad or angry with the customers.  It is the responsibility of you to keep your clients. Now if the client has become unreasonable or was unreasonable to begin with but you needed to increase then you must take action. Sales Coaching Tip: A keeping mentality builds customer loyalty.

Remember as sales objections go, price is number four behind you, your company and your solution. Consider adopting this third phase of the sales process and you may just begin to increase sales.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith by being a heurist looks to discover new ways to guide and support rapidly growing small businesses or those who wish to grow beyond their current employees as well as executives in chaos.  She can be reached at 219.759.5601 CST.

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Does Your Sales Process Ignore This Phase?

Each sales process from my review of many sales processes has a marketing phase and/or a selling phase. The steps may be different as well as the purposes and goals. Yet there are only two clearly articulated phases. In some cases there is a last step called support, but it is usually not identified as a phase with multiple steps.

sales-processHowever I have found very few with this third phase of what I call Keeping. Prior to this Keeping phase the sale has been successfully delivered; the relationship fairly well established and the salesperson has now moved onto more marketing and selling. Possibly the customer has been put into the CRM program for future follow-up.

Keeping goes beyond support, follow-up and customer loyalty because the goal of this third phase of the sales process is two-fold:

  1. Top of mind awareness (TOMA)
  2. Three (3) qualified referrals

Much is written about customer loyalty especially with the publication of the Net Promoter Score. This score is based upon how likely are you to make a recommendation. The disconnect is between how likely and have you actually taken action. Just imagine what would happen to the goal to increase sales if the Keeping phase was embedded into the sales process.

Additionally the addition of the Keeping Phase of the sales process allows a natural transition back into marketing and may make it somewhat easier as the salesperson has already attracted attention and building the relationship becomes a tad more easier.

The reason I believe using the word Keeping creates top of mind awareness for the salesperson as well.  For it is her or her responsibility to keep the customer as he or she is the initial contact person. The use of the word support suggests others should be responsible and potentially lets the salesperson off the responsibility hook.

With the super majority of small businesses having under 10 employees, Keeping customers is critical to each firm. Beyond being the responsibility of the salesperson, Keeping is an easy phase to remember and is a far more warm word than the rather cold words of support or acquisition

If you are around on April 4 from 12-12:30pm, you may find this free webinar Only April Fools Sell on Value interesting.

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