Posts Tagged ‘content marketing’

Need, a Word to Be Banished from Your Content Marketing and Sales Conversations

Just this morning in my news feed, I read a content marketing and sales headline “These are the skills you need to have.” The following thoughts quickly surfaced in my mind:

marketing and sales

  • Really, I need to have these skills of (leadership, sales, management, etc.)?
  • What if I don’t have these skills?
  • Will I be less successful without these skills?

The word “need” is filled with judgment and is probably one of the least emotionally intelligent words people in sales and marketing use on a daily basis. One can’t blame salespeople after all they are trained to “uncover wants and needs” in most sales training programs.

Return to a moment n your childhood and think about your parents or an adult telling you any of the following:

  • You need to go to bed
  • You need to make straight As
  • You need to go to college
  • You need to find a good job
  • You need to visit your relatives
  • You need… (the you need list is endless)

Every time I read about “you need” to do this or have this when it comes to SMB, sales, marketing to leadership, I inwardly cringe.  For the last 10 years, I have attempted to remove this word, “need,” from my own executive coaching engagements, content marketing and sales conversations.  I also encourage my clients to replace this highly emotional word with other phrases such as “Have you considered?”

Emotional intelligence is critical to successful marketing and sales.  Jeb Blount founder of Sales Gravy is releasing on March 20, 2017 a book, Sales EQ: How Ultra High Performers Leverage Sales Specific Emotional Intelligence to Close the Complex Deal, dedicated to emotional intelligence specific to sales and one I recommend purchasing.

Of course changing an existing behavior is not easy. And for time strapped marketing and sales people having to speak a few extra words may prove frustrating. My advice is just remember how you emotionally felt years ago when you were told “you need” to do whatever.  That memory should be enough to prompt you to change your behavior.

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To Engage or Not to Engage, the LinkedIn Quandary

LinkedIn for B2B professionals does matter.  For the last few years I have been conducting my own private research and learned, at least for me, the top 5 reasons why people ask to be connected.



#1 Engagement

The super majority of people (nearly 60%) send me invitations because I have engaged with them or with one of their connections.  Since LinkedIn changed its groups policies, these engagements are overwhelmingly from update posts.  Prior to this change, the invitation outreach was through groups.

Additionally within this reason for connection, I have included those profiles I have visited.  When a second or third degree connection has visited my profile, I usually return the visit.  In quite a few instances, I will then receive an invitation to connect.

#2 LinkedIn Pulse Articles

Even with all the people publishing on Pulse, my articles still continue to drive a significant amount of invitations to my In Box. Right now approximately 25% of all LinkedIn invitations are because of these articles. What I have also observed is quite a few people within this community will follow me first and then extend an invitation to connect.  Content marketing for B2B is a proven marketing method for attracting attention and beginning to build relationships.

#3 Direct Outreach

Sometimes either through a personal one on one meeting, I will receive an invitation to connect or I will send an invitation.  These invitations represent around 7%. Also within this group are those who are connected to one of my first degree connections and believe it may make sense to connect with me as well.

#4 Referrals

As my network has grown, I have begun to see an increase in referrals from other colleagues.  Those within my existing contacts also have made suggestions for others to connect with me. Where in the past this percentage was nominal, today it also hovers around 5%.

#5 Suggestions

Finally, around another 3% of my connections now originate from LinkedIn’s suggestions to connect. This is the smallest percentage. And for me has always been the smallest percentage.

For those engage in social selling or better yet social marketing, then it makes sense to be engaging on LinkedIn.  Share the update posts of others.  Comment on those posts.  My other suggestion is to keep track of those who visit your profile, research their profile to determine if an invitation to connect is warranted.

P.S. Please make sure your LinkedIn Profile is complete and engaging.  Many profiles turnoff more sales leads or prospects than they turn on. And no you do not have to accept all invitations.


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Plagiarism Goes Beyond Intellectual Dishonesty

Yesterday a colleague, Mark Hunter, came across one of his articles being plagiarized by a fairly well connected LinkedIn member.  He notified a group of other sales coaches, sales consultants and colleagues about this plagiarism.  The group responded and not even 24 hours later, this particular article as well as all other articles under this person’s name were removed.

plagiarismI too have suffered from plagiarism.  A sales training company in Texas took one of my website pages one for word and copied it to their own website.  When I notified the CEO, he called and said he was unaware, apologized and the copy was removed. The CEO blamed the web designer. Over the years I have discovered other blog postings copied and have called out the authors.

Individuals who plagiarize the intellectual capitol of others demonstrate from more than dishonesty within their business ethics.  They also reveal they are lazy, lack creativity and are stupid to think eventually they will not be caught.

A recent study by the University of Missouri revealed the financial impact of dishonesty by CEOs. Unethical behavior does translate to the bottom line to a measurable 4.1% loss in shareholders’ value.

In today’s social selling world where content marketing has become a viable sales leads generating channel, being a plagiarist just does not make good business sense.  The reason is simple, in spite of how large the world is, it is still a small world.  People are connected to other people.  Software programs can find duplicate content with the stroke of a few keys.

One of the more simple ways to avoid even unintentional plagiarism is to Google the title for any content marketing in quotes.  This way the you can quickly determine if another person has written a similar article. Also this same tactic can be used to learn if your titles are being plagiarized by someone else.

In sales, people buy from people they know and trust.  Swiping the intellectual capital of others will not increase sales.

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How Sales Pitches Keep the Reticular Activator on High Alert

Social media is one of the primary reasons for the increase in sales pitches.  All these usually free social media channels now have conditioned sales leads to be very wary of any inbound marketing messages.  What has really transpired is all these prospecting activities have put the sales lead’s reticular activator on high alert.



Just as a quick review, the reticular activator is really a system within the human brain that essentially stays on high alert.  The actual name is “reticular formation” and it is located at the core of the brain steam between the medulla oblongata and mid brain.

What happens is the sales lead’s brain first recognizes sales pitches. Then the brain is now on high alert. These marketing messages are immediately discounted.  This might explain why messaging may require updates and changes as people become overly aware or sensitive to certain marketing messages.

The more the salesperson engages in sales pitches on social media the greater the chance to turn off all sales leads.  This is probably why education based marketing now considered influence content marketing continues to grow.

No longer is the salesperson or marketing person sending out buy this or buy that updates, but rather these individuals are  providing interesting, informative and relevant content with the intent to educate and ultimately influence a positive emotional reaction. From this emotional reaction, then a more logical action is taken such as sending a LinkedIn invitation or following the person on Twitter.

Possibly this may also explain some other behavior such as why people are reluctant to leave LinkedIn Pulse posting when directed to click on a link to read the rest of the article.  Their conditioned behavior of being aware has them potentially jaded as to what they may encounter if they leave the LinkedIn posting.

The goal of marketing is to create awareness and begin to build a relationship. Understanding how the human brain works including the reticular activator will support forward thinking salespeople to avoid sales pitches in their marketing and sales conversations.

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The Trick or Treat of Sales Advice

Yesterday I received my weekly email from a colleague, Anthony Iannarino, entitled How to Avoid Bad Sales Advice. This posting was quite accurate given there is so much sales advice out there and yet people still are unable to achieve sales results.



Sales advice is much like Halloween, 365 days a year.  It is either a trick or a treat.  For many it appears to be more of a trick than a treat.

The marketplace is changing, continually evolving because of technology.  Today’s buyers are more educated and less susceptible to trickery.  One would think salespeople would also be less susceptible, but that does not appear to be the case.

Pressure from sales managers to SMB owners to increase sales, meet quotas, expand marketing may be part of the reason for all this trickery. Additionally, there is the “quick fix” belief held by many because they waited until results were so bad they needed something quick to fix a long term, usually systemic problem.

All this bad sales advice presumes everyone is suffering from the same people or process problems.  If we examine the sales statistics, we learn that most people are not ready to buy when meeting a salesperson.  We also know people buy from people they know and trust.  This is called relationship building and is helped through nurture marketing via content marketing be it a weekly email or monthly ezine. 

In many instances, the reason for poor sales is not because of salespeople’s actions but rather from executive leadership which lacks clarity and thus creates misaligned and misdirected actions.  As Theodore Hesburgh said “You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.”

People need leadership and uncertainty is a killer when it comes to the goal to increase sales. This is not the time to engage in trickery or treats that are still tricks. Be authentic, be present and remember people buy from people they know and trust.

Happy Halloween!

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Sustainable Sales Success – Tip #12 Be Reachable

To have sustainable sales success does require for you to be reachable.  If people cannot find your contact information, you may be losing sales.

sales-successThe challenge is three fold for SMB owners and sales professionals:

  • Phone numbers and addresses change
  • Content marketing via the long tail may have old contact information
  • Salespeople are crazy busy

Some sales professionals have migrated totally to social media and have ignored even updating their website with their basic contact information.  Even when I discontinued my landline, the first thing I did was to go to my website and update the pages to ensure the correct phone number was available.

To make the presumption that all sales leads will find you via social media is potentially a fatal increase sales strategy.

Being busy is no excuse for not returning phone calls, emails or even texts.  A couple of years ago I incorporated texting into being reachable even though I was not a fan of this communication channel. However, I had clients as well as sales leads texting me and I wanted to be reachable.

Today texting is the preferred communication channel.  Text messages have a far greater open rate than other communication channels such as email or even phone calls. in their research revealed 35-50% of the vendors who respond first get the sale. This site also suggested that those who respond within 5 minutes to web sales leads are nine (9) times more likely to convert.

Being reachable is necessity for sales success!

To increase sales no longer can salespeople have the attitude “when I have time I will return the call or message.” Technology has forced salespeople to be reachable at all times. Our marketplace is global and operates on a 24/7 time frame.

Remember, you cannot increase sales if people are not able to reach you. Those who respond first and with the right message have a far greater likelihood of securing the goals to:

  • Increase sales
  • Achieve sales success
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Time to Fall Clean Your Marketing Toolbox

Fall is here.  Now is the perfect time to clean out your marketing toolbox and refresh it for the forthcoming last quarter of this year and the first quarter of next year. So what is currently in your toolbox?

marketingUpon opening your toolbox, you will have a removable upper tray that contains your lightweight marketing tools. Down below is a larger compartment to hold those heavier tools.  All of your tools have a cost.

For example, your lightweight tools include your elevator speech, business cards, stationery from envelopes to letterheads, brochures, postcards, postage, promotional items or giveaways CDs or DVD’s, Costs for these tools range from pennies to hundreds of dollars.

The heavier tools at the bottom of your toolbox have a lot of variety.  There are speeches that you can deliver to local organizations or to larger conference audiences.  Printed books such as Be the Red jacket or Fail-Safe Leadership along with published articles are always effective heavy marketing tools. Paid advertising, membership in referral groups, local chambers and other B2B networking groups are other heavy tools.  Finally, there is that all important website. And let us not forget your blog or other social content marketing channels such as LinkedIn Pulse.  These heavy tools costs hundreds to thousands of dollars, but may also provide you a steady stream of passive income.

When you analyze all the costs within your toolbox, you will be amazed at the total investment. For some this may quickly exceed $50,000. Whatever the costs, the results from these tools deliver must be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure their value.

Is your 30-second elevator speech effective?  How about your 60 second and three minute elevator speeches? If no one is seeking you out after you deliver your infomercial, then it is definitely time to refresh that tool. Have you updated your website to make it search engine friendly? By being proactive now will keep you from being reactive later.

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Add Amplification to Your Sales Strategies

Sales strategies abound in today’s B2B and B2C markets.  In many instances, the larger firms are ahead of the flow when it comes to including a new sales strategy into their sales playbook.  Smaller firms especially those with under 50 employees lack the exposure to many of these up and coming ways to increase sales.

sales-strategiesAmplification is one such sales strategy that is often overlooked by SMB owners and sales professionals.  This was quite evident during a discussion yesterday at the SouthShore Business Networking group.

I shared how by belonging to a community of like minded sales professionals I was able to amplify this recent LinkedIn Pulse article – Great Coaches Are Equal to Top Sales Performers.  I published this article on Friday, September 30, 2016.  On Monday I shared it within one community. By Wednesday am, the results from LinkedIn were impressive:


Ninety percent of those who shared it had over 500 connections or 20×500 equals 10,000. Add this to my 2,500 connections and the amplification was four fold.

Many of these same individuals also shared it on Twitter.  A quick glance of the first 12 people who shared this article revealed amplification of over 10 fold to my current Twitter followers of 11,663.

Amplification through just one community increased my marketing reach from approximately 14,000 to over 150,000.  The best part of this sales strategy was it cost me absolutely nothing.

Discovering sales strategies that are cost effective and deliver measurable results is in many instances one of trial and error.  Amplification works. Probably the major obstacle is building a community of like minded individuals who recognize amplification is not a one way street.

As with other sales strategies amplification must be aligned to existing marketing strategies within the sales process such as content marketing.  To engage in this sales strategy without having a well thought of strategic plan is not forward thinking and will not be as effective as it could be.

Read Fail-Safe Leadership to better understand how misalignment impacts sustainable business growth.

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Content Marketing Is the NEW Be There or Be Square

Over 10 years ago, content marketing was not on many business people, sales professionals or SMBs radar screens. I remember reaching out to the local SCORE group. When I talked about content marketing specific to the effectiveness of article marketing or having a blog, the advisor looked at me like a deer trapped in the headlights.  He was definitely no help because in his business experience there wasn’t anything called blogs or article directories.

content-marketingFunny, 10 years later SCORE in Washington, D.C. just published some interesting statistics on this now very prevalent marketing channel:

  • 32% of B2B marketers and 37% of B2c  marketers have a content strategy
  • B2B marketers allocate 28% of total marketing budget to content marketing
  • B2C marketers allocate 32% of total marketing budget to content marketing

Social media is the primary delivery channel for content marketing.

For me, content marketing has become the primary source for my sales leads. This past week I just published by 500th consecutive column for the Post Tribune/Chicago Tribune. I write one solid and informative LinkedIn article per month and write this blog 5 to 6 times per week.

With so many SMBs being single office/home office (SOHO) or non employed as per the U.S. Census Bureau, marketing through writing content is an affordable marketing strategy.  This strategy works very well when the overall focus is education based marketing and not product based.

Of course, as in any endeavor, practice does make for continual improvement.  There should be research respective to headlines, key words, length of postings, graphics as well as general overall readability and structure.  The use of automation tools such as Hootsuite must be understood because with the plethora of content being produced having someone read your content is much more unlikely than likely.

Content marketing demands building at least one if not several communities for amplification of your message.  The more people who share your content the greater likelihood your marketing efforts will generate actual sales leads (results).

Yes today to increase sales leads content marketing must be present.  To ignore this viable marketing strategy will doom your SMB believe it or not.

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Are You Being Too Comfortable with Your Content Marketing?

B2B buyers are becoming far more educated and astute. A 2014 DemandGen reported:


  • 65% of the buyers shared the winning vendor’s content marketing had a significant impact on their buying decision
  • 68% indicated they increased the amount of content used to research and evaluate their purchases

Of course it is easy to be comfortable about writing posts on building rapport, asking open ended questions, to what CRM tools a salesperson should have. Then there are all those comfortable postings about attitude, motivation and the necessary talents.

The necessary  question to ask yourself is “Does this content make the sales lead think differently about you, your company or your solution?”  To think differently make require your perspective to challenge the status quo.

For example, I do not believe in value creation.  This goes against many of the recognized experts.  I do believe top salespeople connect to the value drivers of the sales leads, the ideal potential customers. This column has discussed this issue numerous times and does make other uncomfortable.

Listen to the podcast “Can Salespeople Create Value” between David Brock and Leanne Hoagland-Smith

Uncomfortable content marketing makes the reader think and take notice.  For example, discussing risk does make most people uncomfortable.  People especially salespeople want control because they want to “close the deal!”.  The more risk results in lesser control.

Have you ever thought about risk from the perspective of dissonance?

If the goal is to increase sales through content marketing given how much content is being consumed by sales leads and the ultimate decision makers, then shouldn’t your content Be the Red Jacket by standing out among all the other gray suits?

The status quo also applies to your state of being comfortable. And if writing the content makes you a little uncomfortable, this probably means you will be making the reader also uncomfortable. Of course, always be mindful of being respectful to the reader by applying emotional intelligence to your word selection.



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