Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’

What Happened to Permission Based Marketing?

Each day in my email inbox, I receive many unsolicited emails from SMBs and organizations that do not interest me. These entities obviously ignore permission based marketing and rely on buying lists from other unethical firms.

When I first started developing my email lists over 10 years ago, I signed up with AWeber.  At that time AWeber recommended the double opt in option so that people would know they had signed up for being on one of my email lists. This option avoided people identifying you as a spammer and reporting your questionable marketing activities.

Even SMB owners and salespeople also appear to engage in adding names without permission. Have you ever attended a B2B networking event and exchanged business cards with another individual?  Then within a few days, did you suddenly receive via email a newsletter or a sales pitch?  I know I have and personally resented such an action.

For me by sending validated permission to add someone to an email list reflects my business ethics, my positive core values.  I am respecting them by respecting their time.

They do not have to unsubscribe from a list they never subscribed. If by chance someone else used another’s email address, the double opt in option ensures that only the physical holder of the email address is actually signing up.

Failure to use permission based marketing suggests these firms are engaged in spraying and praying.  Spray enough emails over cyberspace and pray someone will buy what you are selling.  For me that is not a viable business strategy or marketing strategy.

Now some firms will ask why you unsubscribed?  I wonder what these firms do with the response “I never subscribed to this list?” My sense it is a feel good action for the person unsubscribing and possibly may meet some marketing association or government policies.

Possibly with the expansion of social media, permission based marketing is viewed as archaic.  For me, I will still employ the double opt in and maintain my business ethics because ethics are never archaic.

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Hiding Your Sales Prospects Are You?

Salespeople invest a lot of time lighting up sales prospects and yet it appears many are hiding those sales leads. We know this to be true given how few times on average salespeople follow-up with new sales leads.

sales-prospects

Sales Fact:

44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up (Source: Scripted)

Does it make sense to do all that work especially if you are a SMB owner in a firm of fewer than 20 employees or a salesperson employed in a similar SMB? How much time and time is money is wasted?

Sales prospecting is truly about providing light to people who are in the dark about:

  • You
  • Your firm
  • Your solution

Additionally, these sales prospects may also be in the dark about their own problems. Many in business cannot separate the symptoms from the real problems.  This becomes a competitive advantage for top sales performers.

Sometimes all those sales leads become stuck in the middle of the sales funnel or what I prefer the sales tunnel.  This is also akin to putting them under a bushel basket because in the middle of the tunnel it is very dark.  What helps to keep flowing through the sales tunnel is a proactive contact process.  A good CRM like Pipeliner CRM works with SMB firms as it does not require a CRM administrator saving the SMB thousands of dollars in salary and benefits.

Sales Fact:

63% of people requesting information on your company today will not purchase for at least three months – and 20% will take more than 12 months to buy.   (Source: Marketing Donut)

When salespeople understand their marketing is about shining a light, their light, they are able to attract sales prospects to them.  Then they understand the must keep this light shining until the sales prospects buy.

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Isn’t It Time to Let Go of the Hope Sales Fallacy?

Have you ever heard this hope sales fallacy from a SMB owner or salesperson “I hope to make this sale?” or “I hope sales improves?” Many years ago before the book Hope Is Not a Strategy, my 4’10” Swedish grandmother told me “Hope did get me to America.”  No she planned for it and then worked her plan for 20 years.

sales-fallacy

Credit www.gratisography.com

For these SMB owners and salespeople hope becomes a sales fallacy to increase sales. They pin their sales forecasts on hope, on maybes, on wishes and not on reality.

Have you ever walked into a business to business networking event with the “hope” to meet one person?  Or do you attend these events with a specific goal or goals?  Then did you reflect upon your success or failure to achieving these goals?

Part of the reason for this ongoing sales fallacy is these same professionals lack a well thought out written strategic plan.  Instead they engage in Captain Wing It Behaviors where they spray their marketing and sales activities all over the wall and then pray something will stick.

Because of all these Captain Wing It behaviors, there is usually no:

  • Ideal customer profile or profiles
  • Marketing plan
  • Sales plan
  • Customer loyalty retention plan
  • Financial plan
  • Innovation plan
  • Leadership (personal development plan)
  • Forecasting based on past numbers beyond P&L statement
  • Weekly or monthly reflection except for sales numbers

Hope is a thought, a desire, a wish. Unless there is a well thought of plan with specific action steps, measurable outcomes and built in accountability, the goal to increase sales will still allude most SMBs. Possibly the first step to change this counterproductive behavior is to learn through these 78-core-talents-self-eval-dl  what you do well so you can stop hoping.

If you are still engaged in hope, click HERE to schedule a quick phone call with Leanne to learn how you can stop hoping and start doing.

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Where Realtors Are Missing Sales Opportunities – Part 2

The world of sales is changing and this includes the real estate market. Finding new sales opportunities in an evolving marketing requires thinking and doing things differently.

sales-opportunities

Credit www.gratisography.com

Currently the majority of business models within the residential real estate market is a 50/50 split of the commission paid by the owner of the home being sold. One realtor lists a home and usually a realtor from another firm sells the home.

Even though many realtors only want to list a home because this is the way they have done it for years, they are missing sales opportunities when the home does not sell.  Depending upon the time involved, there could be tens to hundreds of hours wasted when the home fails to sell.  All those hours devoted to marketing are lost and worse yet there is no revenue.

Enter the For Sale By Owner sellers and realtors are even more entrenched into just listing the house.  How ridiculous given there are a plethora of sales opportunities to be had to increase sales.

For example, instead of fighting the For Sale By Owner seller, why not act as a real estate consultant? Create a an affordable, alacarte fee schedule for the following:

  • Advising on how to make your home “show ready”
  • Providing more professional looking photographs to even taking a video
  • Writing actual marketing copy to be placed on free real estate listing websites such as Zillow
  • Offering to provide a lock box to even just a MLS number
  • Establishing a dedicated website
  • Posting to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

Instead of hoping to get paid for marketing services, now the real estate agent gets paid for his or her efforts. Even better, the real estate agent is now developing a relationship with the For Sale By Owner seller.  Since people buy from people they know and trust, the realtor is becoming a trusted resource. Here is a potential sales referral resource as well.

As it has been said, if you keep doing the same thing over and over again hoping for different results, you are embracing insanity.  Now is the time to get ahead of the residential real estate market and actually get paid for your marketing services (listing) instead of hoping another realtor brings a buyer to your listing.

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Be Selective Before You Send that Prospecting LinkedIn Email

How do you tell a potentially clueless or desperate LinkedIn member?  One potential identifier is a prospecting email sent by a professional colleague from over a 1,000 miles away to attend his workshop for executives just like you.  Gee, you think he would have known better. Of course with the extensive sales research regarding prospecting on LinkedIn, maybe he thought he could take a short-cut?

prospectingEmbracing the send all approach is a sales prospecting loser.  Yes going through your LinkedIn contacts one at a time is more time consuming.

Additionally what your LinkedIn email message says reveals a lot about your overall sales process (marketing, selling and keeping).  For example in a more recent LinkedIn email here is the first line:

“It may have been a while since we have connected but that does not mean I have not been thinking of you in some way!”

Really if this was true, why not pick up the phone and give me a call?  Even if I believed this first statement, the rest of the email shows me this is a 100% sales pitch. The email continues:

I have spent the better part of the last year focused on some of the biggest challenges that middle market businesses face on a regular basis and thought the result of that effort might interest you or I would appreciate your introducing this e-mail to someone that would benefit.

Given I am not this person’s target market, he thought his sales pitch would be of interest or I would willingly share it with my contacts.  I do believe in developing communities to expand one’s marketing efforts.

Using LinkedIn email in this manner is probably not the best tactic.  Additionally, we belong in a LinkedIn group which would have been a much better vehicle to share this event.

LinkedIn is a great marketing tool to prospect. As in the use of any tool, it must be used continually honed and used wisely.

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Faith in Sales, in You and Your Solutions

A colleague of mine, Elinor Stutz, shared an article on LinkedIn Pulse in which she discussed a sales tip about commitment. She then went on to articulate numerous actions to ensure commitment. I added in my comments that having faith in sales is also important.

faith-in-salesFaith in sales means you first have faith in your overall sales process.  Have you invested the time to hone your process including marketing, selling and keeping? In today’s market, many focus only on selling and end up making sales pitches before the marketing phase has been successfully completed.

Yesterday I received a LinkedIn invitation from a complete stranger who wanted me to review his book.  He shared he had hired a researcher to find people who reviewed similar books.  From my perspective, he violated the number one basic buying rule: People buy from people they know and trust.

Peter Drucker said (paraphrasing) when marketing is done well selling is effortless.  Bad marketing makes selling that much harder.

Do you have faith in yourself?  Have you invested the time to improve your interpersonal skills to sales skills?

Do you have faith in your sales solutions?  Are your solutions sustainable or just another quick fix solving a symptom instead of the real problem?

I am reminded of the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  Jones had to take a leap or a step of faith to cross a wide and deep chasm that do not appear to have any bridge. Yet the bridge was there all along.  He just couldn’t see it.  In Stutz’s post she reminds us of the following:

“Progressing through the darkest tunnels leads to our brightest light.”

Faith in sales is what works with us to progress through those dark tunnels to lead to that bright light of sales success.  For without faith, we are truly lost.  Faith goes beyond confidence. Faith is something unexplainable because it defies reason and logic.

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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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Got Discipline To Market Your SMB?

Remember the Got Milk campaign?  Possibly it may make sense to adopt your own Got Discipline campaign as you market your SMB.

SMBOne of the most frequent complaints I hear from SMB owners and salespeople is “I don’t have time to market my business.”  This complaint reflects a simple lack of discipline. And is 100% false as most people admit to wasting 12 minutes a day or 1 hour a week.  Time is not the issue but rather self management through better discipline is.

This week I will be attending a monthly B2B networking event, traveling with another colleague who invited me to a business breakfast; meeting another colleague for breakfast and then working and meeting with several clients.  Additionally I have 5 incoming phone calls scheduled and a lunch tentatively scheduled with a client. Since I will be out of town later in the month for 7-10 days, I must honor my writing commitments to the Post Tribune/Chicago Tribune, Worldwide Coaching Magazine as well as to this blog.

Yes marketing a SMB feels like a 24/7 job.  Checking email to ensure sales leads receive a quick response to reviewing comments and shares on LinkedIn Pulse postings all take time.  A schedule is definitely required along with daily to do list.

For SMBs marketing is difficult.  Wearing all the hats including, sales, operations and actually being the delivery person takes incredible stamina and energy.  Yet, no one said being a SMB owner or independent sales professional was easy.

This is why each morning I have the discipline to monitor the previous 24 hours of marketing actions, to handle all emails, to attend to any pressing operational issues before I start making phone calls or meetings.  Additionally, by having a process for researching sales referrals as well as other sales activities helps to reinforce my own internal discipline.

WAY SMART goals also support me in ensuring I maintain the discipline necessary to keep moving ahead of the flow. Without a marketing plan and my WAY SMART goals I sincerely doubt if I could have maintained the discipline necessary for marketing my executive coaching and talent management consulting practice.

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Time to Stop with the Cheap Sales Behaviors – Part 2

sales-behaviors

Credit: www.gratisography.com

Continuing with the cheap sales behaviors, here are another four (4) that may resonate with you.

Professional Development

How much time do you devote to your own professional development? Are you in the sales behavior of self-directed learning?  Sales continues to change even though in many instances it still remains the same.  With more educated buyers, understanding value creation, value articulation and value realization is essential if you truly want to increase sales.

If you say you don’t have time, do you waste 12 minutes a day? If you answered yes, that is one hour a week.  So time becomes another excuse to continue your cheap sales behaviors.

Common Courtesy

What does it take to send a handwritten thank you note?  No it is cheaper to send an email than to take the time to express your thanks for an act of kindness.  Loyal customers as well as centers of influence appreciate those acts of kindness and will remember you before the last salesperson who called on them.

Returned Phone Calls

Another cheap sales behavior is not returning phone calls.  “I don’t have time” or “I’ll call back later” is an inexcusable cheap sales behavior. With all the SMB in the marketplace, your sales lead or customer will just as quickly call your competitor.

Spraying and Praying Sales Behaviors

Possibly the cheapest sales behaviors are what I call spraying and praying. These behaviors are the result of no strategic planning including no market research.  SMB owners to salespeople spray their actions all over the place and then pray something will stick.

These are the folks passing out multiple cards at B2B networking events. There is no clarity as to their next marketing, selling or keeping sales behaviors.

Yes cheap has always existed, doing the least for the most. For those engaged in selling, cheap sales behaviors just may ensure you have cheap sales.

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Before You Make That Request for a Guest Sales Blog Post

sales-blogToday I received another request for a guest sales blog post.  This individual was from Chicago and said he was a salesperson.  He also indicated he would send me some samples of his writing.

Several times a week I receive unsolicited requests from complete strangers to post an article in this sales blog.  The requests are very polite and all read very similarly.  I wonder if they paid for some course on how to approach blog owners?

Making a request is in all actuality making a sales pitch.  Very few people like sales pitches out of the blue from complete strangers.

People buy from people they know and trust.  If I don’t know you, I am probably quite unwilling to give you the opportunity to use my blog platform as a way for you to gain new business (increase sales), find a job or add to your contact list.

Depending on traffic, this sales blog and website receive an Alexa ranking between 150,000 and 200,000 here in the U.S.  The Worldwide the Alexa ranking ranges currently between 800,000 and 900,000. Given its relatively good traffic with over 152 million blogs on the Internet, unsolicited requests from my perspective suggest these individuals want to use my years of effective content marketing to their advantage.

Several of my colleagues do accept unsolicited articles for their sales blogs provided the author is willing to pay $250 or more.  Their reasoning is the requesting writer wants to use their established content marketing vehicle and therefore should pay for it.

Possibly a better approach would be to reach out to me on LinkedIn and begin to develop a relationship. This is called marketing. Another marketing tactic would be to comment on this blog or some other article I have written such as this one on LinkedIn Pulse, 7 Top Tips to Hire & Keep Rock Star Salespeople.

By reaching out to the owner of any sales blog first before making a sales pitch shows that you respect her or his time. Reading unsolicited writing samples takes time. Time is something all entrepreneurs jealously guard.

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