Monthly Archives: July 2012

Sales Tips: 5 Tips on Closing the Deal

Written by Chris Clark

Hey all, here are five steps that I have found to be successful when attempting to sell:

1. Networking: As a sales person the most valuable thing that you can do is networking.  There are two things that you need to know when networking: People buy from people they know and people buy from people they trust. That said, I’ve learned in business there is always a problem to be solved, the question is can you listen well enough to identify the problem to present a solution?

2. Initial Meeting: After a relationship has been established it is important to set up an initial meeting, and ask as many questions as possible.  Good sales people ask all the right questions to get the client to tell them their entire life story, so to speak. Think about this, the more comfortable the prospect is with you the more likely they will disclose information that could help you later land a deal. If you want to get a pearl from a clam, you have to strategically position yourself to retrieve it.

The same is true for clients. Ryu Murakami, author of award-winning books like “In Miso Soup” says that “Everybody wants to talk about themselves and everybody wants to hear about everybody else’s story.” So when you’re talking to your prospects think about this: the more information that you can extract from them the better position you will find yourself in to put together a successful RFP.

3. Follow Up: After your initial meeting you should have left your client with just a taste of what you do (less is better).  The more they have about your business the deadlier they are. At this stage in the game most prospects think they have a good understanding of your business model, and from that they can make an educated judgment about whether they need your services. Your job is to give them just enough to have a basic understanding, but request a proposal from you to understand how it would fit into their business model. Once this request has been made, you’re half way there.

At this stage in the game you can create your proposal. Try to use language that was used in your previous discussions with the prospect. This does two things, the first is it makes you sound like a professional in the industry, and two is it lets the prospect know you were paying attention during your initial discussions.

4. Make Your Pitch: The idea here is to present the solution to the problem presented in your initial discussions, but to do it in a way that gives the prospect strictly the facts.  Visual aids are always good; prospects should still be doing most of the talking in this portion of the meeting. Try practicing residual questions such as “Do you think those objectives align with the problem we are trying to solve?,” statements like this take your pitch from being one sided to interactive and engaging.

The moment your prospect feels gung ho about your product or service is when you know you’ve got them hooked. You’ll notice this because the questions will become much more tailored to their business model.  Such as “How would you fit this in here?” When you hear this BE QUIET, and let them talk, it’s kind of like that moment when a concert finishes and that last note is still resonating, and that annoying person starts clapping too early (don’t be that guy/girl). Pay attention! At this moment your job is to be a “Yes” man or woman, because your meeting has just been hijacked, so go along for the ride. End the meeting with a definitive next step, because if you don’t your prospect has room to wiggle out when you get ready to send them that contract to sign.

5. Follow Up & Close: No more than 24 hours you should send a follow up note thanking the prospect for their time, and attaching or addressing any follow up items. This stage in the game is very fragile; too much follow up is not welcomed, however too little and your lead goes cold again. Once a week seems to be a good rule of thumb.  When the client realizes that this is something that they want to do, write up the contract and send to them, and there you have your sale.

 

 

Shopping Begins Online with Content Marketing

More than ever, the shopping process begins online, typically with content marketing. Average people search Google to find product reviews before ever leaving their home. They go to retail websites, blogs and ask their online friends looking for opinions about the product they are looking to purchase.

The other day I received a text from a friend who is not a blogger and is typically very un-techy. She had gone online to research and read product reviews on a blog before choosing a particular makeup product. She thanked me profusely and said that without my influence she would have not known to do that.

That incident reinforced everything I believe about shopping today; modern consumers value information about products before they purchase and not just information provided by the company.  They look for real reviews by real consumers and see bloggers as a trusted source.

Although the consumers reading blogs may not know the blogger personally, the relationship cultivated through the blogger’s product reviews, recipes and personal stories become real to the consumer. Bloggers interact with their readers either through comments, email or social media outlets. (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest are primary traffic drivers today.) When a consumer connects personally with a blogger, they become loyal to what the blogger promotes because of a relationship built on trust.

Brands have become increasingly aware of content marketing and are scrambling to keep up with this change in consumer behavior. Recently, the Harvard Business Review did a piece on this sharing, “…today consumers are more promiscuous in their brand relationships: they connect with myriad brands, through media channels beyond the manufacturer’s or retailer’s control or even knowledge”.

This market shift benefits the consumer, but many brands have been slow to respond to it. Brands that have succeeded during this change have gotten on board with blogging and the social world, reaching out for honest opinions to be shared with these micro-publishers’ loyal consumers.

Suggestions for Crowdsourcing Content

Written by Ted Rubin

 

Every business needs content in order to be found in search, and to differentiate them from the competition. Without quality, helpful content (and lots of it), you’re lost in a school of fish that are all the same color. Who’s going to find you? Who’s going to pick you?

The trouble with content development is that it can be expensive. Website copy, blog articles, e-books, reports—they all take time and effort (and dollars) to produce. However without them, you really can’t do an effective job of marketing your business—especially in the social age. It’s the classic chicken-or-the-egg syndrome. The more social our businesses become, the more we need that variety of content that speaks to our listeners and helps them solve their problems so we can A: get their attention, and B: develop relationships with them.

The bad news is that most companies still don’t understand the relationship between content marketing and relationship building. Investing in content is absolutely essential—whether you’re writing it in-house or outsourcing it, and I personally believe bloggers create some of the most engaging, relevant, and worthwhile content for brands when managed strategically. The good news is that if you know who your customers are and where they look for and share content, you can use crowdsourcing to have others help you write the kind of truly helpful stuff that your market is looking for. Developing a steady stream of user-generated content isn’t free, but the BEST news is that this type of content is trusted by more people and produces better return than most advertising that uses “marketing speak.”

Here are a few suggestions for crowdsourcing content:

Blogger Outreach

There are two ways to approach this. I’ve seen some companies (like manufacturers or retailers) have their marketing directors research influential bloggers in their niche and pitch them on doing reviews of their products—offering to send a sample to use. However, this can be hit-or-miss, not very efficient and it does not incorporate story telling, or insert the product in the lives of the users. Another way to approach it (and the one I prefer) is to develop relationships with a set of bloggers, and pay them to create the content around a strategic set of goals and incorporated into lifestyle. Bloggers are micro publishers and deserve to get paid for their work. I think this approach to blogger outreach produces the best results if you want a constant stream of relevant, user-generated, authentic content. It requires a great deal of management, relationship building and strategy, but can be outsourced and managed with the right partner.

Blog Interaction

On your own blog, floating a concept or question about your brand and asking for responses can be a good way to encourage subscriber interaction. You never know when a really good response will trigger a connection and deeper conversation. I often find that asking and answering these kinds of questions (both on my blog and others) leads to more relationships, which results in more content-building opportunities. Always be thinking of ways to encourage response…. and make the questions, and the process, EASY!

Video/Visual Contests

Using Contests on social platforms such as YouTube or Pinterest can encourage user-generated videos or photo boards that portray your brand in positive light. I wouldn’t put all my eggs into this basket, but it can be a fun way to garner graphic and video content you can use in other places to build the kind of “social proof” that helps you win hearts and minds.

Co-authoring thought leadership pieces

This is where your relationship rubber meets the road, so to speak. Co-authoring books and e-books with a peer (or set of peers) requires that you have a solid relationship with your co-author(s), which will stand the stress of time-management issues and headaches that go along with getting published. However, the result of a successful collaboration here can garner wonderful results that would be difficult to achieve if you had to do it all yourself. We’re all stressed for time, so think of ways you can reach out to your peers and colleagues to crowdsource all kinds of thought-leadership pieces, such as case studies, white papers, e-books, books, webinars and videos.

You can see that all of these examples rely on collaboration—which is the cornerstone to getting the best Return on Relationship. In my opinion, planning a good content strategy should always include finding ways to crowdsource, whether it’s tapping your customers to find out what their needs are or how they view your industry, to building on your relationships with your peers to produce thought-leadership pieces. At the end of the day, your content should make everyone you deal with (your prospects AND your peers) comfortable with your brand—and using input from others to create value-oriented content can be a good way to make your brand more approachable (for more on this, check out the video (ROR: Return on Relationship™–Will They Buy from Me?).

There are lots of ways you can use crowdsourcing to build value in your organization, your personal brand, and enhance both. Don’t wait for a comprehensive strategy… start now.

 

 

Want to Scale Social Messaging? Get Your Customers’ Help

Writteb by Ted Rubin

The social space is getting so crowded that brands have to work DOUBLY hard to achieve any kind of traction in social messaging. How do you develop awareness around your product or service when the stream is so busy you can’t get a word in edgewise? Here’s one often-overlooked resource in amplifying your message online—consumers.  And not just any consumers, your own customers!

Whether you are a retailer or your market is B2B, your consumers are always on the lookout for validation, especially if you’re selling the same thing as the brand down the street. Why should they buy from you versus them? Believe it or not, the customers you already have can help you out with this—and all you have to do is ask.

But this is where a lot of companies fall down when using social. They get so tied up in the parameters of the platform that they forget to think outside it. They sink money into platform advertising, contests, and mobile apps to attract new followers, but forget completely to tap the one source that could exponentially increase their reach… the people who have already bought from them!

Brand advocacy doesn’t come from advertising spend or buying followers via any other social mechanism, folks. It comes from people sharing their experiences with your brand via their networks. So how do you get them to do this?

The brand Zaggora does it by going after “ambassadors” of their HotPants™ women’s exercise clothing and rewarding them for sharing their stories. If you take a look at their website, you can see that they’ve got some press going, a magazine they share with their growing email list, and also a healthy Facebook presence, all of which is focused on leveraging the customer’s story. Zaggora understands that their market wants to hear how others have achieved success, lost inches or gained strength before they plunk down their money—so they’ve pulled out the stops to create a great customer experience and reward their ambassadors for spreading the word. It works like magic.

B2B companies can tap into the same power. In fact, according to customer advocacy data from the Zuberance.com blog, 50% of B2B customers are highly likely to recommend a service or product to their networks, 30% of advocates recommend the first time they’re given an opportunity, and a whopping 70% of those advocates’ contacts respond to recommendations.

So how do you dig up potential advocates among your followers? Here are three tools to help you find influencers who are active on social channels and are already sharing your content:

  • Traackr – This app shows you who is influential in your space, as well as what content they’re sharing and how they share it
  • Tweet Reach – Use this tool to find out who is sharing your tweets and who they have touched
  • ReFollow – Peruse your Twitter followers, identify influencers and engage them

Once you find these folks, reach out to them! Think of ways you can thank them for sharing your content or recommending your brand. Remember, your customers have a wide array of networks, so look for potential brand evangelists wherever you have a connection, not just on social channels. Mine your email list, tap into the influence of bloggers, speak to customers (god forbid) in your place of business… find them wherever you can!

At the end of the day, making it your policy to develop good relationships with your customers will differentiate your brand from the others. Make that your priority. Create conversations that matter, to those who matter to you. Think engagement, not media. Perform for the promises you’ve made before making new promises. Strive to make every experience with your brand… not routine, but remarkable. Remember… an initial purchase does not make a shopper a customer; repeat purchase is what makes a customer.

Then find and take care of your advocates in social channels and they’ll shout your message from the rooftops!

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~Maya Angelou