Marketing

The 5 Questions Every Company Should Ask Itself (via Fast Company)


Question Mark on Road (ahead)This is a RT via @FastCompany.  If you’re not following Fast Company, you should do it right away.  It represents some of the best and brightest business thinking out there and has wonderful content.  This article is no exception, and really gets you thinking about some fundamentals about your business… ://t.co/5lCsLebn9q

*Spoiler Alert* Here are the questions.  You’ll need to read the article for the context:

  1. What is our company’s purpose on this Earth?
  2. What should we STOP doing?
  3. If we didn’t have an existing business, how could we best build a new one?
  4. Where is our petri dish?
  5. How can we make a better experiment?
Sales

4 Awesome Questions for Leaders


Just found this nugget in an article in Business Insider.  The article explains that in his letter to shareholders, then newly appointed IBM Chairman Sam Palmisano explains that he was recently looking over his notes from his first meeting as chairman back in 2003. He was surprised to see how little he wrote. At the top of the page, he had only four questions:

  • Why would someone invest in us?
  • Why would customers buy from us?
  • Why would someone work here?
  • Why would society allow us to operate?
Powerful questions for any organizational leader to ask.  What would you say?
Sales

Please Read CRM and Leave Me Alone!


Begin rant here…

If you look at it from the perspective of the sales representative, one of the principal benefits of CRM (and I’ve selected, implemented, and used them all – Microsoft CRM, Salesforce.com, Oracle CRM, Sugar, you name it)  is creating a “book of record” for opportunities and client touch points. 

I know where my opportunity stands.  I know the sales stage we’re in.  I know the people making the decision.  I know our allies and our detractors.  I have all my correspondence to and from our buyers.  I have the latest feedback from the  influencers.  I’ve documented our partners on the deal. Ditto the competition. I know our relative strengths and weaknesses.  And, here is the coolest part – SO DO YOU!  In fact, everyone in the organization has this information in one, centralized spot.

This is why my pet peeve is doing perpetual deal reviews for various members of a pursuit team – catching them up.  As the Sales Rep, this consumes  untold cycles of my time.

If you want to know about a deal, please go review the notes on it in CRM! 

Otherwise, why am I doing this typing?  (I’m the one who already knows this information, remember?)

…Rant ended

Sales

Guaranteed Better Sales Interactions? Plan On It


We don’t always do the best job that we can at preparation.  But one thing is for sure – there is no shortage of meetings each day, especially in sales and marketing.    Due to the collaborative nature of selling today, those meetings burn not only y0ur time, but the time of other valuable people in your organization.  It pays to do them effectively and efficiently.  So when is the last time you pre-planned an important meeting? 

On my better days, this makes the difference between a highly successful meeting or one that lacks specific direction and outcomes.

You can do a pre-meeting plan in a phone call, or more formal written document.  But whatever form it takes, I guarantee that you will have better meetings, and accomplish more in them if you take a few minutes and plan ahead.  It works for non-sales meetings too.

So what comprises a good pre-meeting plan? 

To fit your unique situation, you’ll ultimately need to answer that for yourself.  But here are some suggestions from my “g0-to” pre-meeting plan document to get you started:

1.  Meeting Logistics: 
Communicate the time, date, exact location, attendees from both organizations, dress code, and a reminder to bring business cards.  It seems simple, but at least one or two of these are almost always missed.  By the way, your client will give you points for asking for this information ahead of time. 
Not all their vendors come off this organized!

2.  Client Snapshot:
Include a brief, relevant overview of the client organization to baseline the participants.  Especially in the age of the internet, you never look so unprepared as when a team-mate asks a basic question that they should have known going in. 
You’re on for preparing them!

3.  Client Goals, Problems, Needs:
What does your client need from this meeting?  How often do you go in to a meeting without the answer? Too often if you ask most clients.  Preparing for this item is the only way you can know that you will deliver “in-meeting” value. 
Provide “in-meeting” value or your follow-up won’t matter!

4. Sales Objective for the Meeting:
What do you hope to accomplish from this meeting?  Some people are not comfortable with this prep question.  I don’t know why.  Clients know that we are all in business to give and get.  Don’t just go in for a visit.
What’s annoying to them is you being unclear on what you want!

5.  Main Agenda Topics and Topic Owners:
Being organized ahead of time to avoid confusion or conflict makes a huge difference on the impact of the meeting . The collaborative nature of selling has introduced a variable that did not exist in the “1 vs. world” model of sales meetings.  We all think we’re smart and we all hate silence.  Have this mapped.
Someone will say something dull unless you script it out!

6.  Potential Objections, Planned Responses, and Owner:
If you can do just one item on this list before your next meeting make it this one.  This is the most critical item and most often missed opportunity.  Prepare for objections before you get in there.  Here is a fun exercise to run before the meeting: Ask 4 participants what our ideal answer to a client’s question/objection will be and watch how far-flung the responses are.    Practice this, or at least plan for it, and your meeting will be many times more effective.
A crisp response to a tough question can mean a win or a loss!

So there it is, your starter “Pre-Meeting Plan.”  Now go make it yours and watch your meetings soar.

Good Selling!

Sales

I Fired a Prospect Today. Yep.


It may seem completely counter-intuitive. I’m the sales rep.  I’m supposedly the person who never met a deal he didn’t like. The one who will drag our company’s resources through any unqualified pursuit to the bitter end – all the while golfing, wining, dining and fretting away the company’s resources – or so legend has it.

So why did I do it? Why did I let this deal go?

1. It was the right thing to do for the prospect: Our stepping back was the most transparent and powerful message my firm could send the client. We know the right way to do this engagement, and we are not going to compromise your success or our reputation by short-cutting.

2. It was good for my business. Here’s a question: What is the WORST hand in poker? The SECOND best hand. That’s the player who stays in, doubles down, fattens up the pot (drives up their cost of sale)…and then loses.

3. It will free up precious time. Let’s face it, time is more valuable than money at this point in your life. You only have capacity for x number of deals per year. This client will take all the time and information that you offer, but they are not going to buy at your solution/scope/price. What is the opportunity cost to you for not spending that time on other opportunties?

4. It was good for my psyche. Training/re-training yourself that not every deal is a good deal is an important lesson to learn and reinforce. Nothing is more powerful than the will to walk away. It’s good for your sense of self as well as your ability to offer more objective counsel to your customers going forward.

So (never thought I’d say this…) what are you waiting for? Go out and fire a prospect today!

Marketing

Consuming Information Via The 5 Screens


I’m reading The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo.  I have it in hardcover.  It may not be the best novel ever written, but I’m really enjoying it.  One side-effect of being bombarded by so many messages (it is hotly contested statistic but most media experts agree we’re exposed to thousands daily) is that a little quiet time away from a screen is a rare treat.  

You don’t even realize it until you stop and think, but much of your day is spent on “screen time,” and not just TV.  For Marketers, I’ve found that an interesting model to ponder is  the “5 Screens.” 

This entry in  Wikipedia summarizes the historic line of Communication Screens:

  • First screen, (the Silver Screen, Movies)
  • Second screen, Television
  • The Third screen really came about after the advent of two technologies melding together – the Personal Computer and the publicly available World Wide Web in 1995
  • Arguably the Fourth screen is related to mobile hand-held devices.  It followed in 2002 with the advent of Hand Held technologies and Wi-Fi, 2g and 3G mobile services.
  • The Fifth screen are screens often seen in public areas.  The digital screen that is seen outside the home in many different venues. Screens are installed in elevators, malls, airports, train stations, on a subway platform, in retail stores, banks, etc.

Not many of us deal with the first and second screens much, unless we are working with global brands.  It is notable that only these first two screens were widely available before 1995. Which brings us to the others…

You most likely have an active effort around the third screen (your website, this blog, web applications, etc).  How if at all are you working with the fourth screen (mobile applications/internet, phones, tablets)?  Finally, the fifth screen is exploding in Point of Sale, Point of Wait and Point of Transit installations. It is expected that millions of these screens will be deployed over the next five years in places like Retail outlets to promote sales of products, or while waiting in line as at a bank, and in transit, such as Digital Billboards on highways.

A lot of screens to think about, both as a consumer and a marketer. 

But first I think I’ll knock out a few more chapters of my book.

Social Media

Tim on Twitter


No, not me.  I’m highlighting an interesting post on a very cool blog that I just discovered from Tim Berry, President and founder of Palo Alto Software on the nature of Twitter. 

Tim argues Twitter can be a good thing or a bad thing.  At its best, it is a game-changing business must-have for every serious marketer.   At its worst, Twitter is time-wasting drivel.  In the end, however, it’s neither.  It all boiled down to how you use it.

I think we’ve all caught ourselves in that moment of shock waking up from a Twitter bender having just spent more time that we’d like to admit on the “bad” Twitter. 

Tim Berry’s Synthesis: “Twitter is the brush, not the painting. It’s a tool for a new kind of self publishing with a different kind of reach. Talk of business benefits of Twitter are like talk of business benefits of the telephone, or of conversation, or of advertising. It’s all in how you use it. Who or what are you trying to be in Twitter, and what does that have to do with your identity, your message, your business, your self.”

How are using your brush?

Read more of Tim’s interesting blog at: http://timberry.bplans.com/2010/12/twitter-is-the-brush-not-the-painting.html#ixzz188ajPUqj

Marketing, Sales, Social Media

Are You LinkedIn?


I had the pleasure of co-facilitating a workshop on LinkedIn this week.  There were more than 20 people in the room with varying degrees of familiarity with the LinkedIn platform.  It was a fun event, and we received some great feedback on the usefulness of the tool, particularly for these folks, many of whom are in a job search.

They say you never learn something until you teach it.  What I learned was just how far this platform has come in the past 6 months.  As an early adopter, I sometimes take it for granted.  But seeing it through the eyes of a newcomer really highlighted just how powerful this tool set is.

LinkedIn is:

  • Your Personal website.  It’s YOU.com (just Google yourself and see)
  • Your LIVING Rolodex (it grows exponentially as you nurture it)
  • A “P [professional] RM” System  (moves with you from job to job)
  • A Social Media Platform  (hooks into Twitter, “like”, “sharing,” etc.)
  • A Database of Corporate Information (“Company” entity added)
  • A Job Posting / Search System (powerful for recruiters /job-seekers)

If you (or anyone you care about) are still not on LinkedIn, you need to get on pronto.  If you are a power user, it’s time to take a look at the new features available to you.   LinkedIn has centralized some very useful training information in a section called “The Learning Center” http://learn.linkedin.com/ where you can quickly update your knowledge and skills.

Get to it!

Marketing, Sales, Social Media

Are You Content Marketing?


If you are marketing today and not doing so through organized publicity of your intellectual capital through Content Marketing, you’re missing the boat!

Before you jump in, there are a few things you need to know:

  1. It’s a LOT HARDER THAN YOU THINK!   This takes planning, organizational alignment, rigorous scheduling, and new processes to start,  and – most importantly –  discipline to maintain.
  2. It’s a LOT SIMPLER THAN YOU THINK!  The tools available to support your efforts in this area were simply inconceivable only a few years ago.  Now they enable you to do this complex job more efficiently and effectively.
  3. It’s about WILL POWER!  Focus and tenacity are the hurdles here.  If you have them, you can be winning with content marketing in very short order.

What are the benefits?  “Brand Stickiness,” “Google Juice,” – whatever you want to call it, will bring recognition>leads>business!

The graph displayed here is an image from an excellent research piece done by Roy Young of  Marketing Profs and Joe Pulizzi of  Junta 42 “(B2B Content Marketing, 2010 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends” [download here] that will give you an overview of the major components of a content marketing effort, along with some very useful statistics.

Some highlights:

  • Nine out of 10 B2B marketers are using content marketing to grow their businesses.
  • Enthusiasm for content marketing is high; however, marketers are still unsure about the effectiveness and impact
  • Content marketing deployment is high across industries, with no single industry reporting below 78% adoption
  • Web traffic is the most widely used success metric (56%) followed by direct sales (49%)
  • On average, B2B marketers allocate approximately 26% of their total budgets to content marketing initiatives
  • The largest challenge is “producing the kind of content that engages prospects and customers” (36% of respondents
  • Social media and article posting are the most popular tactics and are currently used by 79% and 78% of B2B marketers

Get this paper and digest it today!

Marketing

A Call For Expertise in Preparation


If you’ve read this blog you know I’m a huge fan of Seth Godin.  His posts really make marketers think about the job we’re doing.   It’s probably the best blog out there for marketing professionals, and Seth is very economical with his words.

Yesterday he posed a particularly provocative thought on preparation.  The challenge is to think about the level of effort and expertise you are applying to your preparation.  Basically, are you a pusher or a leaner?

He argues there are three levels of preparation: “Beginner,” “Novice,” and “Expert.”  Basic premise:  Most of us languish in the novice stage and never push hard enough to reach expertise.

As sales and marketing professionals, we can take this to heart in many areas:  Go-To-Market Planning, Pre-Meeting Planning, Product Development, Websites and other marketing efforts.  Do you ever find yourself phoning it in?  Why start if you’re not going for something brilliant?

Social Media

Jeff Bullas’ Top 5 Posts…


I’ve sung the praises of Jeff Bullas in past posts.  If you’re not following him on Twitter, it’s your loss.  Pound for pound, it’s the best social media direction I’ve found out there.

Here is an interesting post of his from this summer.  It is from his blog readers’ perspective.  The focus is what they have found “most newsworthy and topical in the last 90 days.” 

Summary:

  1. 30 Things You Should Not Share On Social Media
  2. The 7 Secrets to Ford’s Social Media Marketing Success
  3. 20 Things You Should Share On Social Media
  4. Twitter Reveals 11 New Facts on its Traffic and Usage
  5. How To Use Twitter For Business: 5 More Incredibly Interesting Case Studies

As usual, great stuff.  Thanks, Jeff!

Social Media

If We All Had These Core Values…


While reading another fantastic blog post by Jeff Bullas  (who if you don’t follow on Twitter you must – as he highlights and summarizes some of the most interesting concepts in social media marketing today)   I ran across this summary of the 10 core values driving the online shoe retailer Zappos.  Jeff’s focus was linking these values to  ways in which social media reinforces the culture and the success of Zappos, and it’s a great post. 

I’m still just processing this list (for the first time) on a simpler level.  I am simply struck at how different these values are from most of the generic, boring, homogenized core values in corporate America.   While reading them I asked myself (and urge you to do the same) how much better would my (or any) company be if we focused on these unique values?

Have a look and let me know your thoughts.  Here is a link and the list:  

  • Deliver WOW Through Service
  • Embrace and Drive Change
  • Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
  • Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
  • Pursue Growth and Learning
  • Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
  • Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
  • Do More With Less
  • Be Passionate and Determined
  • Be Humble
  • Sales

    The Two-Year Sales Cycle That Proves Nurturing Works


    Yesterday, I had the satisfaction of closing a sale on which I’d been working for over two years.  I can’t describe the feeling better than to say this is why you get into sales!

    A two-year sales cycle is crazy!” you say?  I would submit that it is more the norm these days when you look at the total life of a deal.  As you can imagine this represented the culmination of many, many touch points with my client.

    In their outstanding book “Professional Services Marketing,” the partners at Wellesley Hills Group espouse the concept of “Nurturing.”  I could not agree more.  As mentioned in the book, the “long sales cycle” equals the months and even years that it takes to foster a strong relationship while the client builds to a point where they have a real initiative and funding and are thus in active buying mode. The concept is that the “short sales cycle,” once the client is able to buy, is much shorter – perhaps only several weeks. 

    But you need to focus on the nurturing that puts you in a position on the long-cycles so when that buyer is ready, you are a trusted source for solutions and the obvious choice.

    What are you doing to stay in front of your highest priority customers monthly, or even weekly, to nurture your way to more sales?