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07 Aug 16:25

1 piece of sales career advice you'll never hear in business school

by steli@close.io (Steli Efti)
sales-career-advice

There’s a certain sales mindset you need to have if you want to succeed. No matter who your prospect is, they’ll have an awful lot of hesitations, about everything from your pricing and features to the date your company was born. You need to overcome all those hurdles in order to close the deal.

If you’re focused on maintaining your nice-salesperson persona, you’ll probably nod your head in agreement with every one of their concerns. The prospect will like you, you’ll feel good about how reasonable you are, and everything will be great, right?

Not quite.

There’s one small detail you’re leaving out: Sure the prospect will like you, and sure you’ll feel pretty great about how nice you are, but that prospect is going to take their business elsewhere, and you can’t pay the bills with polite no-thank-you’s.

So what should you do instead?

You need to be unreasonable. Don’t just nod your head at their concerns. If you do, you’re going to fail at making sales.

But you want to be professionally unreasonable. I wrote in detail about what exactly that means, and how to do that (with word-for-word scripts and templates) in my book The Follow-Up Formula. Click here to claim your free copy today.

The sales mindset requires you to be unreasonable

If you want to be successful in sales, you need to adopt the right sales mindset, and that means being unreasonable. If you’re too reasonable, you won’t be successful long-term.

“What are you talking about, Steli? You want me to be stubborn?”

Kind of...

Before I dig even deeper here, let’s first understand what it actually means to be unreasonable:

Being unreasonable means going beyond the limits of what is acceptable. It is not being guided by or based on good sense.

That’s right—it means “going beyond the limits of what is acceptable.” It means not being guided by the safe answer, the status quo.So if you decide you want to be the most reasonable salesperson in town, you'll have a whole lot of prospects who appreciate you as a person—but you won't be able to push those prospects to change their status quo and become customers.

No matter who you’re selling to, one question will always be the theme of the conversation:

“Why should we choose you over someone else?”

woman-on-sales-call

Let’s be honest: There are tons of other vendors and salespeople and software companies and service providers that your prospect could go with instead of you. The other guys are cheaper, they have more features, they’re bigger, they’ve been around longer…

What makes YOU the choice that prospects can’t possibly say no to?

That right there is the million-dollar question. What do you have to offer that makes you and your company the one they should give their business too? Why should they take a risk on you?

Think about it:

From your prospect’s point of view, their hesitations seem very reasonable.

Whatever price you’re charging, they want it cheaper. No matter how many features you offer, they want more. No matter how exciting your offer may seem, it’s just not the right time for their company. Going with you doesn’t make sense, they say.

If you’re too reasonable, you’ll agree with your prospect about every one of their concerns. But then how do you expect to change their mind and convince them to take the leap of faith with you?

All great innovators and visionaries are unreasonable

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak didn't become household names because they quietly maintained the status quo. Henry Ford isn’t in textbooks for playing it safe.

The world’s great visionaries and innovators have earned that title because they refuse to nod their heads and accept the way things have always been done.

Here’s the thing:

There’s always going to be another reason NOT to change something.

Whether that something is your CRM software, your smartphone, or the grocery store you always go to, you can always come up with a new excuse not to switch it up. Your sales prospects will do the same thing. 

The reasonable approach would be to sit back and accept every one of their excuses and move on. If you buy into their hesitations, you’ll never make positive change.

For example, when the Foursquare sales team was considering to switch from Salesforce to Close, they ran into a lot of internal resistance from management. The reasonable and safe thing would have been to just give up and stick with the safe choice. Instead, they figured out that being unreasonable was worth it, and made a strong case, surfaced facts and data that supported their argument. 

small-business-crm-close

The result?

  • Their sales team was more productive. 
  • They spent less time on administrative tasks, and more time actually selling. (For example, the simple act of logging a call in Salesforce took 16 clicks in Salesforce. In Close? Just 2. If a rep makes 100 to 150 calls a day, and you're dealing with 30 reps, these 14 saved clicks really add up.)
  • They drastically reduced the time it took them to train new reps on how to use the CRM to just one hour! 
  • With Salesforce, about two-thirds of what we were trying to track didn’t get captured in the CRM. Close automatically captured all of this information

How you can actually start converting your prospects

Your prospects want to convince you that there’s nothing wrong with the status quo. If you buy into that idea, you’re going to fail, especially if you’re selling something innovative that’s totally new to them.

If you want to start changing the minds of your prospects and converting them into customers, you need to bring an unreasonable mindset into your sales calls.

sales-call-convert-prospect

When a prospect tells you they don’t want to pay what you’re charging, don’t be so quick to budge.

When they ask why they should choose you over an established brand, remind them that every established brand was once a startup just like you.

When they say they already have someone doing what you offer, don’t just nod your head and move on.

It’s your job as a salesperson to tell them why they need to purchase despite all of these objections. It’s your job to ask them to go beyond what seems reasonable and to take a risk. It’s your job to get them out of their comfort zone.

You need to ask more of them than your competitors do.

You need to convince your prospects that the REWARD of change is greater than the RISK of change. If you can’t do that, you’re going to fail.

Wrapping things up

When we launched Close in 2013, we were jumping into the most competitive category in SaaS. It seemed like everybody was selling a CRM, and yet the market is even more crowded today than it was when we launched. Still, we were able to stand out.

How’d we do it?

We asked more of our prospects than the average salesperson would. When they came back at us with their hesitations and alternatives, we didn’t just nod our heads and agree with those perfectly logical reasons. We were unreasonable.

Am I saying you need to lie, cheat, and steal in order to close deals?

Not at all. Quite the opposite.

You just need to be a little unreasonable if you want to be successful in sales. In our case, that sometimes meant that we would qualify a prospect, figure out that we actually were not the right fit, and then refer them to one of our competitors. You need to be a change-maker who’s not so quick to accept the easy, safe, reasonable excuses.

Carry that unreasonable sales mindset into your calls, and you’ll be closing deals you never thought you could.

If you want to dive a little deeper into this idea of being unreasonable, be sure to watch the full video where I go into the methods and tactics you can use as you shift to an unreasonable sales mindset.

Want my very best advice for succeeding in sales? Download a free copy of my book The Follow-Up Formula today!

ACCESS YOUR FREE COPY NOW

07 Aug 16:25

10 Quotes from Netflix Shows Salespeople Can Relate To

by James Meincke

As a sales professional, you’ve got a hard job — you deal with rejection daily. Powering through call after call, demo after demo, email after email… and no, no, no. Some days it can feel like all you can do to stop yourself from banging your head against the wall or hitting “snooze” ten or twenty times. 

Sometimes it can be nice to know that you’re not alone in your thoughts – you’re not. We hear you.

So we put together this list of quotes from popular Netflix shows that we feel salespeople can relate to at one point or another. Not all the shows are sales related, but every one of them is popular for a reason. 

Take a 5-minute break from the grind and enjoy. 

10 Netflix Shows Quotes Salespeople Can Relate to

1. “Every No is a Yes in disguise” 

~Lydia Riera, One Day at a Time

From all the prospects you speak with, the proposals you craft, the demos you present – you want every single one of your client to say “yes, I’d love to buy [X] from you”. You see the value of the product you’re selling (hopefully), and they should too.

But things don’t work that way 100% of the time. You’ll probably hear the word ‘No’ more often than you will hear ‘Yes’.  But a good salesperson knows how to turn a solid No into a Yes. In fact, they see it as a challenge and an opportunity to grow. That’s what separates a performer from the rest of the pack. Of course, it would be nice to hear a simple, straightforward Yes after every sales pitch or demo. But where’s the fun in that?

2. “Confidence is good. Facts on your side, better. Know what you’re walking into.” 

~Chuck McGill, Better Call Saul

To be successful as a salesperson, you need to be confident. But having facts about the prospect on your side is definitely better. You need to be prepared. I’m sure you’ve been there – or seen others – going into a call without having done the necessary groundwork. Confidence can take you a good distance – but only so far. 

Doing your homework ahead of time takes you the rest of the way. 

3. “I’ll be the Number Two guy here in Scranton in six weeks. How? Name repetition, personality mirroring, and never breaking off a handshake. I’m always thinking one step ahead. Like a carpenter that makes stairs.” 

~Andy Bernard, The Office

There’s no way a list of quotes for salespeople can be complete without an Office reference. As for the one we chose – everyone, regardless of industry, has met this person. He or she comes in, making big talk about how they’ll be “top dog” within X-timeframe, and Y is how they’ll do it. But have you ever seen it actually happen? 

It’s pretty rare. 

4. “I’ve always loathed the necessity of sleep. Like death, it puts even the most powerful men on their backs.” 

~Frank Underwood, House of Cards

This one can apply a few ways:

  1. You love your job, you love selling, you’re good at it, and you’re chasing the “top salesperson” title. In this case, having to sleep can be an irritating necessity getting in your way – but a necessity nonetheless. 
  2. You’ve got difficult quotas, and it doesn’t seem like there are enough hours in the day. If only you just didn’t need sleep….

5. “Every day gets a little easier. But you have to do it every day. That’s the hard part.” 

~Runner, BoJack Horseman

Whether you’re completely new to sales, or new to a different industry, or were promoted into a role that feels a little big for you – every salesperson is here at some point, where your first days you feel as if you’re floundering more than swimming. 

But then you go home for the night, or the weekend, and you come back the next day and you go again. And each day it gets a little better – as long as you keep showing up. 

6. “Laura! Clear out my schedule! I have to push a boulder up a hill and then have it roll over me time and again with no regard for my well-being!” 

~Princess Carolyn, BoJack Horseman

If you’ve ever had a seemingly-sadistic boss hammering you with heavy quotas… it can feel like this. “Here we go again….”

7. “Mornings are for coffee and contemplation.” 

~Jim Hopper, Stranger Things

Those 8:15 team meetings? Yeah, no. Coffee first. And contemplation? Well, that’s up to you. Cat memes with coffee aren’t a bad way to start the day. 

Let’s push that meeting back to 9, shall we? 

8. “Principles aren’t principles when you pick and choose when you’re gonna follow them.” 

~Chidi Anagonye, The Good Place

As a salesperson, every time you go on a call, you have a choice: Be a good salesperson and match the prospect to the right product; or, fulfill every stereotype of the pushy, sleazy salesman just trying to make a buck. 

When you’ve got quotas to fill, it can certainly be tempting – and you wouldn’t be the first (or last) to give in every once in a while. But, principles are principles – unless you pick and choose when and where to apply them. 

9. “Nothing in this world is easy, except pissing in the shower.”

~Ruth Brenner, Russian Doll

No one is going to argue that sales isn’t stressful – and no one knows it better than sales pros themselves. The most successful salespeople can handle the level of stress it entails to rise to the top.

And if they can’t? If they make it high enough, they’ll soon collapse inward like a dying star under the pressure.

10. “As ever, Watson, you see but do not observe. To you, the world remains an impenetrable mystery, whereas, to me, it is an open book. Hard logic versus romantic whimsy – that is your choice.” 

~Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock (BBC)

To finish things out – when you’ve got a new rep tagging along and you close a sale cleanly and with precision.  They don’t “see” and hear what you do, nor know the prep you put in ahead of time. To them, your dexterity in handling the prospect is an “impenetrable mystery.” But you? You know how you did it. Pass it on

These were some Netflix quotes we thought salespeople can relate to. So pick up your favorite line! Can you think of more?
Discover the best sales career opportunities. 100% free and confidential.

The post 10 Quotes from Netflix Shows Salespeople Can Relate To appeared first on CloserIQ Blog.

19 Jul 15:36

What Every Business Should Have in Their Sales Tech Stack

by Meg Prater

“Sales stack” is jargon for the technology/software salespeople need to do their jobs and communicate effectively with prospects. Having the right tools in your stack is the best way to support your reps, so that they can do their best work.

To determine what you need in your stack, start by looking at your sales process. At HubSpot, we use the Inbound Sales Methodology to help us frame our sales process. It views each action the salesperson will take (Identify, Connect, Explore, Advise) in relation to where the buyer is in their process (Awareness, Consideration, Decision).

inbound-sales-stackThe result of meeting the buyer where they are -- with an approach tailored to their needs -- is that that prospect moves from stranger to opportunity and finally customer in a frictionless way.

Think through every part of your sales process, and identify where you could streamline processes or make your reps’ lives easier with the right technology.

To help you get started, we’ve pulled together a list of the top types of technology that should be in every sales team’s stack. Do you see any gaps in your stack?

Sales Stack

1. CRM

Your CRM is the backbone of your sales team -- and likely your company. CRMs facilitate relationship building with your prospects, speed up your sales cycle, and keep your team organized and goal-focused.

HubSpot Senior Growth Marketer David Ly Khim describes CRMs this way: “CRM, or customer relationship management, is a strategy companies use to track customer relationships from pre- to post-sale. A CRM database is software that stores information on client and prospect interactions with employees.”

Khim continues, “Marketing and Sales touchpoints (including email, phone, website, live chat, and social media) are tracked, providing customer-facing employees with detailed context on a client’s activity and feedback.”

Pretty important, right? That’s why it’s crucial to choose the right one. When selecting a CRM, ask yourself:

  • Why are we investing in CRM?
  • What operational business challenges do we need to solve?
  • What processes do we lack that we should implement?
  • How many people do I expect to use the CRM?
  • How much customer information do we have?
  • What other software do we use that the CRM should integrate with?
  • How much budget do I have?

Keep your answers to these questions in mind as you’re vetting potential CRMs and know which are non-negotiable.

Examples of a CRM

HubSpot CRM

  • Price: Free
  • About: Everything you need to organize, track, and nurture leads. You’ll be able to manage your pipeline, automatically track things like customer interactions over email or social media, sync with Gmail or Outlook to capture every meeting in real time, and make every part of the sales process easier.

2. Sales Enablement and Automation

Sales used to be incredibly manual. Today, it doesn’t have to be -- more than that, it shouldn’t be. When you’re reviewing each part of your sales process to identify gaps in your sales stack, make sure you’re looking at what processes you can automate. Your CRM might be able to help out with some of this automation.

Before buying a standalone piece of software, check in with your CRM support person to see if there’s a feature you can add to your existing software. Here are a few areas where sales enablement can help your team sell better:

Email

There’s a reason email is the primary medium of communication salespeople us. In fact, 86% of business professionals prefer email to any other type of communication at work. This means it’s prime optimization real estate.

For example, Sales Hub offers email sequences, which allows you to personalize and automate follow-up emails to your prospects. Create email templates within your CRM and customize them to reduce your response time. And track your email performance easily for faster optimization and improvement.

Prospecting/Lead Generation

Prospecting is where most of a rep’s time goes. This makes it another great candidate for automation. Use an email template that has a scheduling link and allow your prospects to opt into a meeting on their own terms.

Live Chat

Is a prospect hanging around your pricing or features page? Engage with them in the moment using direct messaging. Just make sure you use filtering criteria to ensure your chatbots are giving you the most qualified leads possible.

Content

Content is a powerful tool in a salesperson’s arsenal. A well-targeted case study or timely blog post can give a champion prospect what they need to convince a wary executive. To make sure you’re making the most of your best use cases, track usage in your CRM and use that data to identify and reach out to potential case study or blog feature customers.

Reporting

Standardize what KPIs your team will be held to and automate the tracking of those numbers in your CRM or reporting software. Common KPIs are:

  • Client acquisition rate
  • Number of calls
  • Number of emails
  • Upsell/Cross-sell rates
  • Average deal size
  • Conversion rate

Keep track of this information and be ready to pivot or optimize your strategy as the data suggests.

Examples of Sales Enablement Software

Gong.io

  • Price: Available upon request
  • About: Want visibility into your customer conversations? You might want Gong. This sales enablement software integrates with your CRM to analyze dialer calls and drill down into what separates great reps from the good ones.

Zoho Analytics

LeadGnome

  • Price: Based on reply volume
  • About: Another one that integrates with your CRM to give you insight into the emails your team is sending. LeadGnome allows you to protect your valuable database of prospect and customer information, use powerful workflows, minimize API calls, and beyond.

3. Scheduling

Kiss back-and-forth emails goodbye and make scheduling meetings a breeze with the right appointment scheduling software or app. Giving prospects the ability to schedule meetings when they want makes it painless to get a meeting on the books -- and less likely you’ll be ghosted. We’ve listed a few good examples below but find a more comprehensive list of appointment scheduling apps here.

Examples of Scheduling Software

HubSpot Meetings Tool

  • Price: Free
  • About: Use with your free HubSpot CRM to invite prospects to schedule meetings on your calendar, sync to your Google or Office 365 calendar, send group meeting links, embed meeting links on your site -- and even set up round-robin meeting links so prospects have the option to speak with a rep who has the most open availability.

Calendly

  • Price: Basic, Free; Premium, $8/month; Pro, $12/month
  • About: Connect with up to six of your calendars to automatically check availability. Calendly also has a round-robin scheduling feature and gives users the ability to host multiple invitees at the same event. Calendly also has a cool buffer feature that allows you to add extra time before and after events.

4. Demos

Maybe the perfect pitch doesn’t exist, but the right presenting software can get you pretty close. Make sure it’s user-friendly (i.e., doesn’t require a designer to tweak the spelling on one of your slides), easily shareable, and compatible across devices.

It’s also important to think of presentations outside just the slides you’ll be sharing. Video is a rep’s best friend and pretty great for your company as well -- since they don’t have to have huge travel budgets to get you face to face with prospective clients.

Examples of Demo Software

Prezi

  • Price: Standard, $7/month; Plus, $19/month; Premium, $59/month
  • About: Turn your stuffy PowerPoint into a dynamic presentation with Prezi. You’ll get 100 templates, the ability to add movement to your slides, and collaborative functionality that allows up to 10 people to work on your Prezi at once. Plus, Prezi is compatible with PC and Mac desktops as well as iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.

Zoom

5. Closing/E-Signature

Knowing when someone has received your contract, read it, and signed it can shave valuable time off your sales cycle. Using an e-signature tool allows everyone to sign digitally, so you waste less time waiting for buyers to … well, spend 10 minutes trying to remember how to use their office printer/scanner.

Examples of Closing/E-Signature Software

PandaDoc

DocuSign

6. Team Communication

Most of this list has been focused around your communication with the customer -- which is how it should be. But it’s important not to forget technology that streamlines your communication with coworkers.

It’s no secret most salespeople live in their inbox, but there are tools that can make communication, knowledge sharing, and competitive or objection analysis much easier among teams.

Examples of Team Communication Software

Slack

  • Price: Free; Standard, $6.67/month/active user; Plus, $12.50/month/active user
  • About: Slack is a collaboration software divvied up into channels and opportunities for direct messages. Organize your channels by team, project, client, or something else altogether. Start threads within those channels to take a conversation further. Slack also offers integrated file sharing, voice or video call capability, and CRM integration that will turn your Slack conversations into HubSpot tasks and notifications.

Your tech stack should be as unique as your business. Analyze each part of your sales cycle to define what technology you need to increase performance and boost revenue. For more, check out our Ultimate Guide to Sales Automation.

17 Jul 16:21

Meet Your New Buyers: Millennials

by Danielle Rosen
Millennial Buyers

Millennials now make up the largest generation in the global workforce.  They are now 23 to 38 years old and rising through the ranks of the organizations they work for, shaking things up with their digital savvy and high consumer expectations. This generation may get a lot of bad press, but many Millennials are now your customers and prospects.

What do Millennial buyers mean for salespeople?

With up to 15 years of experience, Millennials are playing an increasing role in B2B purchasing decisions. According to a recent study by Merit, 73% of millennials are involved in the decision-making process, and one third are the primary decision maker for their department. 

The thing is, these buyers think and act differently from the buyers that seasoned sellers have built relationships with over the last few decades. Understanding and adapting to the millennial approach to purchasing and attitude towards salespeople is critical to future success of your sales organization. 

A key challenge is that Millennials have a general distrust of salespeople relative to other generations. They are more likely to believe a seller’s only goal is to sell their product, not to solve their business problems. Further, only 37% of buyers believe salespeople are honest about the shortcomings of their products. 

This skepticism of vendors combined with the wealth of information available online leads many millennials to do and trust their own research first. Forrester found that 68% of B2B buyers say that they prefer to gather information online on their own rather than learn from a salesperson. So, when you finally get these millennial buyers on the phone, they may be up to 57% of the way through their buying process. They have already identified their needs and likely understand your product and its value in solving their challenge.  

So, what can you do?

As Miller Heiman CEO Byron Matthews points out, “it's no longer just about [sellers providing] information but sellers must also provide inspiration about a problem the buyer hasn't thought of." It’s the sales reps that bring something new, show an understanding of the business, and challenge thinking that really stand out and win-over millennial buyers.  

To earn their trust (and their business), you need to show these buyers that you know them. Sellers should show they understand not only how their product/service will positively impact their customer’s business, but their career as well Coming to them with generic feature and function information will not only bore them, it will drain your credibility.

Remember, Millennials are digital natives. They’ve been posting about their lives and opinions on social media for at least a decade. They will have a basic expectation that you have done some preliminary research on them, their role, and their organization.

LinkedIn is a great place to learn about and engage these buyers. There are 8 million director level + millennials on LinkedIn and they are more active than many of their Baby Boomer or Gen X peers. 

  • They are following 2.4X more companies -- these are warm leads for reps to capture and engage. 
  • They are sharing 2X more: Read their posts, understand their challenges, engage with how you can help solve them. 
  • They read InMail 2X more: This is a new, trusted channel to engage them (with insights you’ve gathered), outside of their cluttered inbox. 

As buying committees become increasingly millennial, it’s increasingly important to adjust sales motions to fit their preferences. Be proactive, leverage the mounds of information out there to understand these millennial buyers, and engage them the way they want to be engaged. Sales teams that do this will hugely outperform those who don’t over the next few years.

To keep pace with the latest thinking in sales, subscribe today to the LinkedIn Sales Blog

17 Jul 16:20

26.2 B2B Marathon Marketing Lessons

by Lane Ellis

Collage of six images of marathon runners.

Collage of six images of marathon runners. Racing a marathon and running a successful marketing campaign have a surprising number of similarities — in fact, here are 26.2 things they share in common, and the lessons they can teach us. I’ve been running marathons since 1998 and working in digital communications and marketing since 1984 — two pursuits I’m passionate about that may initially seem quite dissimilar, but which really do have much in common when you begin to look closely.

The Importance of Pre-Race Planning

The marathon isn’t a race you want to run with no training or on a whim — and even if you did, the notoriously unforgiving distance has a way of giving runners back just what they put into it. Skimping on training usually spells disaster when it comes to marathon running. Similarly, successful marketing is usually the result of putting in the necessary planning the way runners pack in the marathon training miles. Let’s begin our 26.2 mile marketing marathon with our first steps and lesson number one.

Mile 1’s Lesson: Have a Great Training Plan

Marathon runners along canal image. A time-tested training plan is a vital part of preparing for a marathon — whether it’s one of the popular multi-week plans from Hal Higdon, Pete Pfitzinger, J. Daniels, or a custom variation you’ve tailored to your own style of running. Similarly in marketing, a proper and well thought-out plan is important when it comes to tackling any new campaign. A good training plan in both running and marketing will help you get the most of our your race or campaign, starting out by setting benchmarks and goals to hit along the way as you build up to the big race or campaign launch. In marathon running it’s often said there’s no substitute for getting in the miles, and with marketing too there’s no magical elixir or great secret about what needs to go into a top-caliber campaign, so it’s a matter of finding what works and making a concerted effort at every step of the journey. A marathon training plan will usually cover the period of between eight and 16 weeks before your target race, and by analyzing how you handle the daily prescribed workouts, you’ll be able to gauge how prepared you are when race day comes around. [bctt tweet="“If the marathon if a part-time interest, you will only get part-time results.” — Bill Rodgers @BillRodgersRACE " username="toprank"] In marketing, how detailed and dedicated you are in following the planning process will have a direct effect on what happens on the day of the big campaign launch. The runners and coaches who’ve devised top marathon training plans are similar to the marketing industry pioneers, experts and influencers who we can look to for guidance when mapping out a big new B2B marketing initiative. Both marathon training and marketing planning benefit from relationship building, as runners will want to forge relationships with other runners using the same training plan, or sometimes even the author of the plan themselves. Similarly, marketers will want to interact and learn from as many of the experts as possible who have devoted their careers to the powerful marketing methods that go into creating a successful pre-launch campaign plan. [bctt tweet="“If you want your content to be great, ask influencers to participate.” — Lee Odden @LeeOdden" username="toprank"] The experience and credibility of the people you learn from and follow during both marathon training and marketing planning has a direct impact on how your training and campaigns will perform, so it’s important for runners to build relationships with people who have had marathon success. For B2B marketers, it’s ideal to work with and learn from those who have planned and executed highly-successful and award-winning campaigns. Congratulations! You’ve passed one of the biggest obstacles of running a marathon or creating a great marketing effort — getting started with those first steps. Let’s move on to another lesson as we reach mile two.

Mile 2’s Lesson: Know Your Running & Marketing Training Paces

Marathon training plans spell out the workouts that will best help prepare you for race day, with some days set aside for long runs, some for mid-speed tempo workouts, and others for faster interval repetition sessions. Successful marketing plans also focus on specific aspects of bringing a campaign to the starting line, with preparations including the long-run equivalent of creating strong content or digital assets, a tempo-like initiative of finding and working with the right industry experts, and an interval-like burst of effort to plan for both organic and paid promotion. [bctt tweet="It’s easy to get excited about a big name or an influencer with a large following, but neither of those will necessarily translate to your ultimate goal of delivering results to your organization. @martinjonesaz" username="toprank"] Well done! You’re already approaching mile three and a new running and marketing lesson.

Mile 3’s Lesson: Warm Up Before Running or Marketing

Marathon runners image. Especially at the top level of marathon running, a carefully planned pre-race warm-up is an important part of training, and chronologically the last piece of the puzzle before the starting gun goes off. Elite marathoners work hard to keep their body at an optimal temperature up to the last possible moment, and during the 15 minutes before race time you’ll find them running their warm-up routines. For top marketing performance, before a campaign begins it’s not the physical warm-up routine that will help during an imminent launch, but the psychological boost that comes from having reviewed all of the planning you and your team have done, and ensuring that you’re in the most positive state of mind when launch time arrives.

The Right Race Equipment & Marketing Tools

Marketers and runners both need equipment to have the best performance possible, so let’s take a look at some of the lessons we can learn from our running and marketing equipment, as we move along to mile four.

Mile 4’s Lesson: The Shoe Hits the Pavement

For 99.9 percent of marathon runners — unless you’re Abebe Bikila who won gold sans shoes at the 1960 Olympics — wearing the right shoes will be an important part of your training and racing. The time to learn which shoe works best for your feet is during training, keeping in mind that you should never allow yourself to make the rookie mistake of wearing brand new shoes on race day, even if they’re the same model you’ve used in your marathon build-up. Slight construction variations in shoes, along with wear patterns specific to your foot strike, mean that you should always race in a shoe you’ve trained in for at least a week or more. The marketing tactics you’ll use in your campaigns represent similar important choices, and you won’t want to be trying unplanned and untested methods once your big campaign has launched — the time to test them is during your pre-launch planning phases. Test your marketing tools and services on example campaigns, and use your team to uncover any shortcomings in the lead-up to launch, rather than in the days after your effort has gone live. What’s that ahead — can it be the five mile marker already?

Mile 5’s Lesson: Wear Comfortable Shorts

Marathon runners on bridge image. Finding the perfect running shorts for your marathon is another seemingly insignificant equipment choice that can have a surprising impact on the outcome of your race. Shorts that have too many seams or other uncomfortable construction methods are likely to make you more and more uncomfortable as the miles go by. As with shoes, the time to try out different shorts is in the weeks and months before your race, so resist the temptation to race in those flashy new shorts you just got at the marathon expo the day before the race. Marketers too need to find the methods that work best for them over the long haul of a modern digital marketing campaign — one that is likely to last substantially longer than even an ultra-marathon. Try to find and use the marketing solutions that augment and work alongside your strengths, and hold off on those that just aren’t in-line with the way you and your team work, or your desired campaign goals.

Mile 6’s Lesson: Use Tried & True Socks & Techniques

You might think that something like the choice of which socks to wear — or whether to wear any at all — during a marathon is insignificant, however in distance running as well as in marketing, even the smallest details can over time and miles add up to being either great assets, or debilitating troubles. Race in socks you know well from training, with the right amount of padding, wicking abilities, and other performance features for your needs. Similarly with marketing, don’t neglect the small details with campaign components such as proof-reading, testing, private trial runs to gather feedback, and other aspects of strong project management that your competitors may be skipping over.

Mile 7’s Lesson: Wear a Race-Worthy Singlet

The shirt or singlet you race your marathon in should be comfortable, with a minimal number of potentially abrasion-causing seams, made from modern wicking materials, and since it’s such a visible part of your race-day gear, you may want to choose one that speaks to your own personal fashion style. Elite marathoners are usually required to wear the singlet featuring their sponsors’ logos, but at all other levels you’ll have great freedom to choose in this area. Some runners use an easy trick to give themselves a small but powerful edge during the marathon: simply use a permanent marker to write your name on the front of your singlet. I did this one year running Grandma’s Marathon in my hometown of Duluth, Minnesota, and I got more encouragement from supporters lined up to watch the race than I’d had in all my previous marathons combined. In marketing, how you package your campaign is similar to the choice of which singlet to wear. Certain B2B campaigns will require you to use very specific sponsorship images and messaging, while other campaigns will allow you to have nearly free reign over how your efforts will look when entering the digital world, whether it’s social media video and messaging, paid search advertising, or the new audio branding possible with podcast marketing.

Mile 8’s Lesson: Utilize Timing Chip & Marketing Tech

When I first started running marathons in 1998, the ones I ran hadn’t yet adopted timing chip technology, where a small plastic clip containing an RFID chip is attached to a shoe, but not long after that nearly every marathon was using them, making it easy to record official times at checkpoints along the marathon course, and also helping family and friends wanting to track a racer’s progress during the marathon. In many marketing campaigns, making it easy for customers and fans to share your digital asset and messages is also important — whether it’s a full-blown interactive big top experience like the one we recently launched for Content Marketing World — or a more traditional blog article or infographic.

Check out the full interactive experience by clicking on the image below:

Well done, marketers — the nine-mile marker is already in sight ahead!

Mile 9’s Lesson: Energize Along the Way

Fueling before, during, and after a marathon is an important piece of the racing puzzle, and also one you’ll want to work out and master before race day comes around. Smart marathoners know which variety of energy gel or bars will be available at the aid stations along the course, and will either learn to run fueled by them during training, bring along their own favorite racing energy food sources, or have family and friends positioned on the course to have them ready. A savvy marketing effort will also benefit from having pre-planned boosts of digital energy to invigorate and re-fuel a campaign as it progresses, which can come in the form of:
  • Daily or weekly social media promotions
  • Special events rolled out to coincide with your campaign
  • Contests and polls that are scheduled throughout your efforts
Could it be mile ten already? Why yes, there it is now, along with another marketing lesson from marathon running.

Mile 10’s Lesson: Get a Phone or Watch Advantage

Runners touching colorful shoes together image. I ran my first marathon using a GPS training device in 2003, when I set my then state-of-the-art Garmin Forerunner 201 to help keep me on pace for my goal time. Its tiny low-resolution black-and-white screen showed a rudimentary stick figure and noted whether you were ahead or behind goal pace. That day I saw only one other person wearing a GPS device. Today however, it’s hard to find a marathoner who isn’t using one — whether it’s a sport-specific watch or pod, or a cellphone in an armband using a dedicated running app such as iSmoothRun, my personal favorite. In the same way, successful digital marketers are always adopting new technologies to improve their efforts. [bctt tweet="“The most successful digital marketers are always adopting new technologies to improve their efforts.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis" username="toprank"] Some tools are built to help keep your campaign efforts on pace to reach your goals, just as in marathon running, while others are focused on planning or post-campaign data mining and analytics. Finding the right marketing tools in an ever-expanding sea of choices can be daunting, however we’ve done plenty of research and in the following articles dig in to some of the most powerful utilities available for B2B marketers:

Mile 11’s Lesson: Don’t Forget Your Hat

A good hat is another piece of marathon running equipment you’ll likely want to have on race day, if not to keep out the sun, at least to soak up the sweat a race-effort marathon will produce on all but the chilliest days. Another seemingly minor decision, hats have been known to play a factor in the outcome of a marathon. During the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon trials, famed runner and now top coach Alberto Salazar went to a level of preparation not previously seen, when on an exceedingly hot race day he provided his runner Galen Rupp with new dry icy cool hats at various points along the course. Rupp went on to win the race, and ultimately earned a medal at that year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. [bctt tweet="“In today’s fiercely-competitive marketing world, a fanatical attention to the minute details can be all that separates a Cannes award-winning campaign from one relegated to the digital dustbin of marketing history.” @lanerellis" username="toprank"]

Mile 12’s Lesson: Marketing So Bright You’ll Need Sunglasses

Sunglasses can of course help runners block out sun, but they can also help inspire and provide motivation, through the use of the many varieties of colorful lenses available. For several years I reserved a special pair of sunglasses with yellow-tinted lenses for marathon day, and knew that when I was seeing the world through them that it was time to focus all my hard training on the immediate task ahead: hitting my mile splits, one at a time, through to the finish line. In marketing, we may not have special sunglasses, but when campaign roll-out day comes, we can utilize a wide variety of special means of encouragement to help us focus on our goals. For some this may be waking earlier than normal, doing extra exercise, eating in an especially healthy manner, or simply using music that energizes and encourages you to do your best work.

Mile 13’s Lesson: Your Unique Identification Number

In each marathon’s pre-race package you’ll find a number bib to pin to your singlet — a unique identifying number for race officials and spectators alike to track and chart your progress during the race. Without a number bib a racer would be what’s known as a race bandit -- someone who’s jumped in the race without paying. Marketing campaigns also have their own unique names and numbers, whether it’s an internal company code name, an official campaign effort name, or one of the identification numbers used by the various tools we use to track campaign performance against goals. Whether you’re the top-seeded racer wearing the #1 from winning the previous year or #22839, it’s your job in both running and marketing to make the most of what you have from the position you’re starting in. Marketing efforts can cause formerly small clients to achieve skyrocketing success when done very well, and for marathon runners one of the great unifying aspects is that everyone starts running at the same time and, theoretically, even someone at the back of the pack could win. There have even been cases where elite marathoners have shown up late to a race and gone on to catch up to the leaders after passing thousands of runners, something also sometimes possible in marketing.

On Your Mark — Get Set — Go!

via GIPHY

Now that you have your training, planning, and equipment lined up and in order, let’s move on to strategy for actually hitting the starting line in both marathon running and marketing.

Mile 14’s Lesson: Starting Line’s Launch Day!

This is it! The months and seemingly endless miles of training are complete. Every pre-race ritual has been attended to, and you’re completely prepared to run the best marathon you can for the day. While the starting line is a place to focus on the difficult task ahead, don’t forget to at least give some acknowledgement to all the effort you’ve made to reach this point, and to think of all those who have helped you along the way. The energy and excitement at the starting line of a marathon, whether large or small, is one of the most amazing experiences in all of running, and smart runners won’t block it out entirely, but learn to feed on and draw energy from these magic moments. Launch day for marketers is similar, as a time to focus intently on the efforts ahead, to recall the expert planning you’ve done to give your campaign the best chance of digital success, and to think of and thank the people who have helped you reach launch day.

Mile 15’s Lesson: Keep To Your Plan & Don’t Zoom Out

Going out too fast is one of the most common mistakes new marathon runners make on race day, as the pre-race excitement and pent-up emotions all let loose when the starting gun goes off, and hundreds of runners all around you dart speedily onward. Knowing that most runners will start too fast, smart runners hold back and work hard to stick to their predetermined mile-by-mile pacing plan, whether it’s through using the virtual training partner on your phone or smart watch, sticking to a pacing group, or simply by starting out running at a pace that feels too slow compared to those around you. [bctt tweet="“Motivation remains key to the marathon: the motivation to begin; the motivation to continue; the motivation never to quit.” Hal Higdon @higdonmarathon " username="toprank"] Most marathons have runners line up in sections corresponding to their goal finishing time, with elite runners on the actual starting line, and others positioned at spots set aside for those expecting to finish in three, four, five or more hours. B2B marketers can also learn pacing lessons from marathon runners, as during campaign launches it’s important to not unleash more than you have allotted for launch day.

Mile 16’s Lesson: Hydrate & Nurture Your Body & Campaign

As the marathon progresses, smart runners will know exactly where every water and sports drink aid station is, from studying official pre-race information, and they’ll follow the plan they’ve carefully laid out and used on long runs in training. Knowing how to best hydrate your body with water and sports drinks, and how to keep it cool using the sponges and shower misters on hand at many marathons, are also areas savvy runners will have learned and perfected in training. As marketers we need to hydrate our campaigns too, by doing everything possible to keep our careful plans on track, with the skill to make quick adjustments on-the-fly as needed. Keeping up on the latest industry trends can help keep your marketing skills nimble, and here are three recent article we've published to help in that regard:

Mile 17’s Lesson: Utilize Aid Stations & Social Platforms

Marathon runners racing image. More than just tables to grab water from, marathon aid stations represent the important passage of miles along the course — just like the official mile markers — often festooned with colorful and fun markings such as balloons or even particular themes. Many marathons have aid stations that are run by various non-profit or corporate organizations, each with their own unique style and flair, sometimes including radio stations with live bands. There are also usually many unofficial aid stations along big marathon courses, with supporters offering runners everything from strawberries and candy to beer and tequila. In marketing, the social media platforms your campaign will nearly always use also each have their own unique rules, features, and strengths, and it’s up to you as a smart marketer to know how to get the most from each one in the grand scheme of your marketing efforts. We’re explored some of the best ways to achieve success using the top social platforms in the following recent articles:

Mile 18’s Lesson: Get a Boost From Your Fellow Racers

Even the most focused marathon runner will see and interact with fellow racers during the hours spent running, and these runners can provide valuable inspiration during the race if you leave yourself open to the connecting moments each race brings. I remember running a marathon where a runner dressed in a full official U.S. Postal Service mail carrier outfit passed me mid-race, complete with a letter bag and black leather shoes. He drew cheers from the crowds and fellow runners alike, and ended up setting a fastest-known-time record for a marathon run in a full postal outfit. Other years there have been people running marathons carrying full-size flags, and there always seen to be runners who race in costumes, such as Elvis impersonators or dinosaurs. [bctt tweet="“Everything you ever wanted to know about yourself you can learn in 26.2 miles.” — Lori Culnane " username="toprank"] A difficult aspect of marathon running to prepare for includes the inevitable runners you’ll encounter who are having a much worse day than you hopefully are — balled up in agony on the side of the road as severe cramps make them cry and moan. Seeing these runners is a humbling experience, as each one was previously out there faster than you until the wheels fell off or they became sick or injured. Taking lessons from them can help you appreciate that fact that you are still moving ahead, even if you may not be precisely on your goal pace. Sometimes you’ll even pass one or two elite runners who have for whatever reason been slowed to a walk or jog, and this too can serve to help you reflect on the small victories you’ve had within the marathon itself — a lesson that also applies to marketing. Some marathon runners thrive on camaraderie during training and while racing, while others prefer to train and run alone. As marketers, we can universally benefit from relationship building, whether it’s through using industry experts in a campaign, or the interaction with new clients brought about by smart and well-planned marketing efforts.

Mile 19’s Lesson: Renew with Your Cheering Section

via GIPHY

Having your own family and friends along the marathon course or at the finish will undoubtedly provide helpful cheering and encouragement during the race, so if you’re lucky enough to have them, take the time to thank them for coming out and supporting you on race day — if not during the race itself, once you’ve finished. This holds true for marketers too of course, as the influencers, fans, clients, mentors and associates who’ve helped you and your campaign to succeed should also all be thanked, either in public, in private, or both.

Mile 20’s Lesson: Prepare For & Overcome Rough Patches

In running, hitting a rough patch is often called bonking, and in marathoning this can often happen around mile 20, especially with new marathon runners. [bctt tweet="“No marathon gets easier later. The half way point only marks the end of the beginning.” — Joe Henderson" username="toprank"] It’s important to have alternate plans and time goals in place, and the flexibility to adjust your desired outcome depending on how badly you may be bonking, or worse yet, dealing with an in-race injury. On race day, smart runners will also adjust their pacing and finish goals when Mother Nature throws difficult weather conditions into the mix. A rainy, especially hot and humid, or particularly cold day will see experienced marathoners adjusting their goals to meet the conditions at hand — a task experienced B2B marketers will also perform when unexpected elements out of their control strike a campaign. Having a plan b or plan c are parts of planning that will help should the need ever arise.

Mile 21’s Lesson: Precisely Monitor Time & Campaign Splits

Runners image. Throughout your race, and especially as you near the final 10K of a marathon, keeping track of the time splits you reach for each mile — which will show how far ahead or behind your time goal you are running — is an important task, and one that gets progressively difficult as your energy levels fall during the later stages of a marathon. Before smart devices and phones, I used a pen to write my goal time splits on my palms. Later, running companies began offering wristbands with goal mile splits for various finish times from around a 2:45 marathon up to 5:30 or so. Today, it’s easier than ever to track your mile splits during a marathon, so there’s little excuse for not knowing whether you need to try picking up the pace, or dialing it down a notch in order not to burn out. As smart marketers we also note and celebrate important milestones during campaigns, and use tools to measure progress throughout the life-cycle of our marketing efforts, whether it’s audience engagement, reach, or other performance benchmarks. Here are several recent articles we've put together to help you with these important marketing tasks:

Mile 22’s Lesson: Work with Groups and Influencers

Many larger marathons offer pacing groups to help runners reach specific time goals. The folks behind the CLIF bar helped pioneer marathon pacing groups, and for several marathons I ran alongside one of their excellent pacers — runners usually carrying a sign showing the pace group’s goal time, and sometimes also flags or balloons. Although their particular team is no longer in operation, others have taken up the slack. It’s reassuring to be able to stick with your pacing group as planned, and equally frustrating to watch them fade into the distance ahead of you if you’re having a bad day on the marathon course. As marketers we use influencers, industry experts, clients, customers, and sometimes fans to help us keep important campaigns on pace for hitting performance goals.

Mile 23’s Lesson: Marathon Mind-Tricks & Marketing Mantras

via GIPHY

During the many hours spent running while training for a marathon, some runners develop subtle psychological practices to help them get through difficult patches. Some of these include:
  • Thinking of (or actually listening to, if you’re in a marathon that allows headphones…) an inspiring song
  • Repeating a personally-inspirational mantra, saying, or phrase
  • Making note of an upcoming tree or signpost and focusing only on making it that far, and then repeating the process again and again
Marketers too can benefit from focusing, keeping a positive attitude, and mindfully working to build up and keep the energy needed when launching and running a modern digital marketing campaign. [bctt tweet="“If you feel bad at 10 miles, you're in trouble. If you feel bad at 20 miles, you're normal. If you don't feel bad at 26 miles, you're abnormal.” @deek207 " username="toprank"]

Mile 24’s Lesson: Track Those Marathon & Marketing KPIs

Every marathon and marketing campaign will have certain very important key performance indicators (KPIs). For the marathon, these usually come at the 5K, 10K, half-marathon, and 20-mile marks. Making your time split goals at these mileposts can be especially important in a runner’s mental efforts to stay on-track with reaching an overall race time finishing goal. Similarly in marketing, hitting important KPI levels at various predetermined points along the campaign journey is especially important when it comes to reaching our overall goals.

Finish Line Fulfillment — Not the End But A New Beginning

You’ve come a long way now, and the end is nearing, so let’s take a look at how to get the very last drop of performance from your marathon and marketing efforts, and savor the hard-earned moment. Can you believe that mile 25 is just up ahead now?!

Mile 25’s Lesson: Finish Line Celebrations

via GIPHY

There’s nothing like the first glimpse of the finish line in a marathon, as it seems to induce your body’s final, hidden stores of energy to release — a boost that only seems to come out when the body knows its work will soon thankfully be done. If a runner is ever going to feel a euphoric sense of elation, it’s most likely going to come while approaching the finish line of a marathon, knowing that nothing is going to stop you from crossing that line. [bctt tweet="“If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon.” — Emil Zatopek " username="toprank"] It’s a great time to savor the moment and celebrate the weeks or months of hard training and planning, and the same can be said for the end of a successful marketing campaign.

Mile 26’s Lesson: Take Time To Recover & Learn

After the many strong emotions of the finish line, whether they’re for celebrating a goal that’s been met, or disappointment in falling short despite your best efforts, the time will come when you can learn a great deal by examining in detail how your race went — what worked well and what failed. Some runners like to write down their memories from a marathon as soon as possible after the race finishes, and marketers too can benefit from taking a look back once the campaign ends at what worked and what didn’t. Having this first-hand analysis of our performance can be invaluable when the time comes to launch the next similar marketing initiative, or to run another marathon. [bctt tweet="“You have to forget your last marathon before you try another. Your mind can't know what's coming.” — Frank Shorter " username="toprank"]

Mile 26.2’s Lesson: Go The Final Distance & Win Awards

With hard work and fanatical training, a successful marathon may involve setting a new personal record, winning an age-group award, or at the highest level even winning an overall race medal outright. In marketing, a great campaign can continue on long after it’s officially concluded, by providing a variety of opportunities for derivative works through re-purposing, or even entering and winning various industry awards. Running marathons can help elevate our lives, enhance fitness, and bring newfound depth to each day, and great marketing can do the same as we boost our marketing fitness. [bctt tweet="“The marathon never ceases to be a race of joy, a race of wonder.” — Hal Higdon @higdonmarathon" username="toprank"] Thanks for coming along for this 26.2 mile marketing marathon, and I hope you’ll find value in the lessons of each step we’ve shared on the journey together. I'll leave you with a link to a short video of the finish of one of the greatest races of all time, with running legends and former marathon world record holders Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia and Paul Tergat of Kenya battling to the very end during the last lap of the 2000 Olympics 10,000 meter final. [bctt tweet="“Ask yourself: ‘Can I give more?’ The answer is usually: ‘Yes’.” — Paul Tergat " username="toprank"]

The post 26.2 B2B Marathon Marketing Lessons appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

17 Jul 16:20

We're building fewer elevators and escalators — and it's evidence that 'growth might go to zero'

by Jim Edwards

escalator halloween spooky joker

  • Investor Kyle Bass says "real growth might go to zero."
  • UBS's construction research shows the market for escalators and elevators has gone into stagnation — implying that large building construction is losing steam.
  • AJ Bell noticed that freight shipping in the US suddenly went negative.
  • Visit BI Prime for more stories.

There is no shortage of people worrying about an imminent downturn in the global economy. Here's Kyle Bass, the founder Hayman Capital Management, telling the Financial Times, "Growth numbers are going to come down and real growth might go to zero." 

But what does the data say?

Two recent data points from the "hard" economy — the world of actual things being built and real objects being shipped — show Bass might be right.

First, we spotted this chart in UBS's deep-dive into global construction. For the last three years, there has been no growth in the construction of elevators and escalators — and the data shows no growth is forecast through 2020. The market for really big buildings has cooled, in other words.

UBS

UBS analyst Guillermo Peigneux Lojo and his team say they are seeing strong infrastructure spending, "but a global synchronized slowdown in residential and non-residential [construction] – resulting in a no-growth environment after almost a decade of recovery and over 5% p.a. growth."

The slowdown in China is already having a global effect, he says.

Second, the Cass Freight Index shows shipping in the US fell off a cliff at the end of last year and has gone negative in 2019. Fewer goods are being sent from A to B. That's a bad sign, obviously.

Cass

"Shipments fell for the seventh straight month in June," according to AJ Bell, the investment house. "Trade tensions with China (and other commercial partners) are having an effect, especially as the sugar rush created by the December 2017 tax cuts starts to wear off."

Freight is an early warning signal, AJ Bell believes. "The start of a slump in freight traffic, as measured by Cass, in 2000 and 2007 heralded both a wider slowdown in US economic activity, as benchmarked by the ISM's manufacturing purchasing managers' index, and eventually a bear market in stocks."

That dovetails with Markit's Purchasing Managers' Index, which shows that globally, manufacturing may already be in contraction:

PMI

SEE ALSO: European car sales took a dive in June — and the industry looks set to drop for a second straight year

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Jeff Bezos is worth over $160 billion — here's how the world's richest man makes and spends his money

17 Jul 16:15

The Sales Person As “Contextualizer”

by David Brock

Context is everything!

Each of our customers is different, each company has different goals, strategies, priorities, challenges, cultures, values. Though they may compete head to head, or participate in the same industry, or the same markets, every company is very different.

People are different. We categorize them by their titles, CEO, VP of Sales, VP of Marketing, or by their persona, or by their behavioral style, or by their role in the buying process (remember economic buyers, technical buyers, influencers, decisionmakers.) But each person’s hopes, fears, dreams, and challenges is unique to them, the situation they face at a point in time.

Every buying journey is different. Though we may be able to “fit” them into very generalized steps, for example problem identification, needs identification, evaluation of alternatives, solution selection; how they navigate the buying process is different–both from other organizations and within their own organization–from decision to decision, and within a single buying journey. The Gartner “spaghetti” chart best describes the variability, wandering, starts/stops, that customers go through.

In spite of all this, we try to “fit” every company and every individual into the same “standard” approach. While we have tools that enable personalization (if we choose to personalize), we have the ability to segment by industry, application, problem, role, where they are in the buying process, we try to plug everyone into a common standard.

Our content addresses a broad audience, both in terms of customers and individuals.

Our sales process addresses a broad range of buying journeys.

We build on “one to many,” where what’s important to the customer is “one to me” (not one to one).

Some, naively, think, AI/ML saves us. The reality is it doesn’t. It refines our generalizations or categorizations, it can help us become more specific, but it lacks that capability to make human to human, contextually relevant conversation in real time.

And this is the role of great sales people. The become the “last mile/kilometer/inch/centimeter in connecting and contextualizing with the customer. The magic of great sales people is their ability to connect, to understand, to empathize, to teach, to engage the customer, individually or as a group. They can help the customer connect the dots between what they are trying to do, how they do it, and how our solutions help them do this. They do it in terms meaningful to the customer now….and now….and now, recognizing the context is different each time, even with the same individual.

Sadly, too much of what we try to do in the name of efficiency and sales productivity, is we move away from that. We script the conversation, based on what’s been successful in past conversations with thousands of customers each in very different situations. We take what can be a deeply personal and impactful conversation and generalize it.

Too many sales people are walking talking brochures/data sheets, not translating it to what’s meaningful to the customer. Even something as simple as “Pay attention to page 2 paragraph 5. This is what you are trying to do, this is what it means to you…..”

Context is everything. Context is fleeting, it changes with each person, each company over time.

The only way we can connect in contextually relevant ways it through sales people that have the capability of understanding and engaging the customer in ways that are meaningful, relevant, and create value with the customer.

For each sales person, how do you become the “contextualizer” or sensemaker for your customer?

For managers, how do we recruit, train, coach, develop, and enable our people to become contextualizers for our customers?

Afterword: Thanks to Hank Barnes for provoking my thinking on this topic.

17 Jul 16:14

Why You Could Benefit from an ABM Campaign for SaaS

by Veronica Green-Gott

Have you heard of account-based marketing, or ABM? This new style of marketing to your clients has big benefits- for the right SaaS company. Not everyone will benefit from ABM; its effectiveness depends on your ideal clients, and for some companies, it’s just too specific. But ABM for the right SaaS provider can give your company’s marketing and sales a big boost.

Here’s the long and short of it: inbound marketing is like going fishing. You could fish from a specific pond, with a specific fish in mind, but at the end of the day, you’re casting your line into the lake waiting for the fish to come to you. ABM marketing is like golf. You’re out on the driving range with multiple balls, aiming for one specific target.

With account-based marketing, you’re using multiple strategies to target specific accounts. You’re not waiting for leads to come to you. Instead, you’re out there going to them.

Target a Well-Defined Audience

Does your company have a few large accounts that are key to your business? Or a multitude of accounts? If you said option A, a few key accounts, then account-based marketing is for you. To clarify, account-based marketing works for a specific niche audience. For example, your product is geared specifically towards IT decision-makers who work for the government. There are only so many branches of government and only so many IT departments for the government out there. Your audience is much narrower than someone whose product is geared towards retailer, for example.

If this is the case for you, then ABM for SaaS providers is a great option.

With account-based marketing, you can market directly to those few key decision-makers with a wide variety of tools. For example, you can launch a direct mail campaign, a social campaign, and a Google Adwords campaign that is targeting your specific list of contacts. You’re out there going to these individuals through a multitude of channels to get them to work with you. No longer are you stuck with campaigns that are too broad, targeting an entire geographic area and some keywords. You know you’re reaching your customers because you’re targeting specific contacts.

Clear Data to Build From

With such a well-defined audience, ABM for SaaS offers you clear-cut data that lays a foundation for the campaigns of the future. For example, maybe your targets are responding much better to the LinkedIn campaign than to the Google Ads. Now you know exactly how to reach your target audience. Without account-based marketing, you could see that the LinkedIn campaign performed better than Google Adwords, but you wouldn’t be able to tell if it was targeting your exact customers- only that it was targeting IT professionals. For all you know, your LinkedIn campaign got so many clicks because Joe Schmoe the computer guy really enjoyed the image. Maybe his boss (your buyer) never saw it.

Collecting such clear-cut data puts you at an advantage against competitors, too. Too often the power of data is underestimated. Through an ABM campaign, you could discover that the content of your website isn’t on target. It needs to be re-written to be more like the messaging of the LinkedIn campaign. Data collected through an ABM campaign could change your entire marketing program for the better.

Opportunity to Personalize Marketing Content

Have you ever gone to a website where, instead of seeing a generic home page, you’re greeted with a line that is personalized to your company? For example, instead of “The Microsoft Solutions Provider You Need” you see “Microsoft Solutions to Increase [insert target company’s name here] Efficiency.”

The difference is astounding. All of a sudden, the customer’s interest is piqued. This company is here for them, working to solve their problems. An ABM campaign for SaaS providers allows you to personalize your marketing content down to the company level. Because you’re targeting specific known contacts, you can redesign your content to display personalized messages to the people within your email list.

ABM’s personalized touch adds humanity back into digital marketing. You’re working with people again— not the world wide web.

Integrate Seamlessly with Your Sales Team

Now’s your chance to integrate your marketing directly with your company’s sales team. After all, who knows these contacts better than your sales team? They should be familiar with the companies, the position, and the industry. While marketing should also have knowledge of this, working together will provide you with more information to go off of.

Your marketing team should be able to work closely with the sales team to map out goals, remain aware of any ongoing sales initiatives, and identify what contacts they’re currently working or have worked with in the past. Collaboration is essential in order for the marketing and sales teams to present a unified message.

Black-and-White Goal Setting

Going into your ABM campaign, you should have set goals. How many leads would make this campaign a success? Is there one company that’s more important than another? What’s the time frame for the campaign?

With an ABM for SaaS campaign, you’re not trying to grow your email list or explore new industries, your goal should be to bring in new leads for large accounts and close them. The small set of target accounts allows you to more easily track how many leads originated from which account and which channel they came from. ABM campaigns should be relatively black and white. You either hit your goals or you didn’t. With great data to pull from, you’ll be able to track what went wrong and why.

17 Jul 16:13

Meet Your New Buyers: Millennials

by Danielle Rosen
Millennial Buyers

Millennials now make up the largest generation in the global workforce.  They are now 23 to 38 years old and rising through the ranks of the organizations they work for, shaking things up with their digital savvy and high consumer expectations. This generation may get a lot of bad press, but many Millennials are now your customers and prospects.

What do Millennial buyers mean for salespeople?

With up to 15 years of experience, Millennials are playing an increasing role in B2B purchasing decisions. According to a recent study by Merit, 73% of millennials are involved in the decision-making process, and one third are the primary decision maker for their department. 

The thing is, these buyers think and act differently from the buyers that seasoned sellers have built relationships with over the last few decades. Understanding and adapting to the millennial approach to purchasing and attitude towards salespeople is critical to future success of your sales organization. 

A key challenge is that Millennials have a general distrust of salespeople relative to other generations. They are more likely to believe a seller’s only goal is to sell their product, not to solve their business problems. Further, only 37% of buyers believe salespeople are honest about the shortcomings of their products. 

This skepticism of vendors combined with the wealth of information available online leads many millennials to do and trust their own research first. Forrester found that 68% of B2B buyers say that they prefer to gather information online on their own rather than learn from a salesperson. So, when you finally get these millennial buyers on the phone, they may be up to 57% of the way through their buying process. They have already identified their needs and likely understand your product and its value in solving their challenge.  

So, what can you do?

As Miller Heiman CEO Byron Matthews points out, “it's no longer just about [sellers providing] information but sellers must also provide inspiration about a problem the buyer hasn't thought of." It’s the sales reps that bring something new, show an understanding of the business, and challenge thinking that really stand out and win-over millennial buyers.  

To earn their trust (and their business), you need to show these buyers that you know them. Sellers should show they understand not only how their product/service will positively impact their customer’s business, but their career as well Coming to them with generic feature and function information will not only bore them, it will drain your credibility.

Remember, Millennials are digital natives. They’ve been posting about their lives and opinions on social media for at least a decade. They will have a basic expectation that you have done some preliminary research on them, their role, and their organization.

LinkedIn is a great place to learn about and engage these buyers. There are 8 million director level + millennials on LinkedIn and they are more active than many of their Baby Boomer or Gen X peers. 

  • They are following 2.4X more companies -- these are warm leads for reps to capture and engage. 
  • They are sharing 2X more: Read their posts, understand their challenges, engage with how you can help solve them. 
  • They read InMail 2X more: This is a new, trusted channel to engage them (with insights you’ve gathered), outside of their cluttered inbox. 

As buying committees become increasingly millennial, it’s increasingly important to adjust sales motions to fit their preferences. Be proactive, leverage the mounds of information out there to understand these millennial buyers, and engage them the way they want to be engaged. Sales teams that do this will hugely outperform those who don’t over the next few years.

To keep pace with the latest thinking in sales, subscribe today to the LinkedIn Sales Blog

17 Jul 16:13

What Every Business Should Have in Their Sales Tech Stack

by Meg Prater

“Sales stack” is jargon for the technology/software salespeople need to do their jobs and communicate effectively with prospects. Having the right tools in your stack is the best way to support your reps, so that they can do their best work.

To determine what you need in your stack, start by looking at your sales process. At HubSpot, we use the Inbound Sales Methodology to help us frame our sales process. It views each action the salesperson will take (Identify, Connect, Explore, Advise) in relation to where the buyer is in their process (Awareness, Consideration, Decision).

inbound-sales-stackThe result of meeting the buyer where they are -- with an approach tailored to their needs -- is that that prospect moves from stranger to opportunity and finally customer in a frictionless way.

Think through every part of your sales process, and identify where you could streamline processes or make your reps’ lives easier with the right technology.

To help you get started, we’ve pulled together a list of the top types of technology that should be in every sales team’s stack. Do you see any gaps in your stack?

Sales Stack

1. CRM

Your CRM is the backbone of your sales team -- and likely your company. CRMs facilitate relationship building with your prospects, speed up your sales cycle, and keep your team organized and goal-focused.

HubSpot Senior Growth Marketer David Ly Khim describes CRMs this way: “CRM, or customer relationship management, is a strategy companies use to track customer relationships from pre- to post-sale. A CRM database is software that stores information on client and prospect interactions with employees.”

Khim continues, “Marketing and Sales touchpoints (including email, phone, website, live chat, and social media) are tracked, providing customer-facing employees with detailed context on a client’s activity and feedback.”

Pretty important, right? That’s why it’s crucial to choose the right one. When selecting a CRM, ask yourself:

  • Why are we investing in CRM?
  • What operational business challenges do we need to solve?
  • What processes do we lack that we should implement?
  • How many people do I expect to use the CRM?
  • How much customer information do we have?
  • What other software do we use that the CRM should integrate with?
  • How much budget do I have?

Keep your answers to these questions in mind as you’re vetting potential CRMs and know which are non-negotiable.

Examples of a CRM

HubSpot CRM

  • Price: Free
  • About: Everything you need to organize, track, and nurture leads. You’ll be able to manage your pipeline, automatically track things like customer interactions over email or social media, sync with Gmail or Outlook to capture every meeting in real time, and make every part of the sales process easier.

2. Sales Enablement and Automation

Sales used to be incredibly manual. Today, it doesn’t have to be -- more than that, it shouldn’t be. When you’re reviewing each part of your sales process to identify gaps in your sales stack, make sure you’re looking at what processes you can automate. Your CRM might be able to help out with some of this automation.

Before buying a standalone piece of software, check in with your CRM support person to see if there’s a feature you can add to your existing software. Here are a few areas where sales enablement can help your team sell better:

Email

There’s a reason email is the primary medium of communication salespeople us. In fact, 86% of business professionals prefer email to any other type of communication at work. This means it’s prime optimization real estate.

For example, Sales Hub offers email sequences, which allows you to personalize and automate follow-up emails to your prospects. Create email templates within your CRM and customize them to reduce your response time. And track your email performance easily for faster optimization and improvement.

Prospecting/Lead Generation

Prospecting is where most of a rep’s time goes. This makes it another great candidate for automation. Use an email template that has a scheduling link and allow your prospects to opt into a meeting on their own terms.

Live Chat

Is a prospect hanging around your pricing or features page? Engage with them in the moment using direct messaging. Just make sure you use filtering criteria to ensure your chatbots are giving you the most qualified leads possible.

Content

Content is a powerful tool in a salesperson’s arsenal. A well-targeted case study or timely blog post can give a champion prospect what they need to convince a wary executive. To make sure you’re making the most of your best use cases, track usage in your CRM and use that data to identify and reach out to potential case study or blog feature customers.

Reporting

Standardize what KPIs your team will be held to and automate the tracking of those numbers in your CRM or reporting software. Common KPIs are:

  • Client acquisition rate
  • Number of calls
  • Number of emails
  • Upsell/Cross-sell rates
  • Average deal size
  • Conversion rate

Keep track of this information and be ready to pivot or optimize your strategy as the data suggests.

Examples of Sales Enablement Software

Gong.io

  • Price: Available upon request
  • About: Want visibility into your customer conversations? You might want Gong. This sales enablement software integrates with your CRM to analyze dialer calls and drill down into what separates great reps from the good ones.

Zoho Analytics

LeadGnome

  • Price: Based on reply volume
  • About: Another one that integrates with your CRM to give you insight into the emails your team is sending. LeadGnome allows you to protect your valuable database of prospect and customer information, use powerful workflows, minimize API calls, and beyond.

3. Scheduling

Kiss back-and-forth emails goodbye and make scheduling meetings a breeze with the right appointment scheduling software or app. Giving prospects the ability to schedule meetings when they want makes it painless to get a meeting on the books -- and less likely you’ll be ghosted. We’ve listed a few good examples below but find a more comprehensive list of appointment scheduling apps here.

Examples of Scheduling Software

HubSpot Meetings Tool

  • Price: Free
  • About: Use with your free HubSpot CRM to invite prospects to schedule meetings on your calendar, sync to your Google or Office 365 calendar, send group meeting links, embed meeting links on your site -- and even set up round-robin meeting links so prospects have the option to speak with a rep who has the most open availability.

Calendly

  • Price: Basic, Free; Premium, $8/month; Pro, $12/month
  • About: Connect with up to six of your calendars to automatically check availability. Calendly also has a round-robin scheduling feature and gives users the ability to host multiple invitees at the same event. Calendly also has a cool buffer feature that allows you to add extra time before and after events.

4. Demos

Maybe the perfect pitch doesn’t exist, but the right presenting software can get you pretty close. Make sure it’s user-friendly (i.e., doesn’t require a designer to tweak the spelling on one of your slides), easily shareable, and compatible across devices.

It’s also important to think of presentations outside just the slides you’ll be sharing. Video is a rep’s best friend and pretty great for your company as well -- since they don’t have to have huge travel budgets to get you face to face with prospective clients.

Examples of Demo Software

Prezi

  • Price: Standard, $7/month; Plus, $19/month; Premium, $59/month
  • About: Turn your stuffy PowerPoint into a dynamic presentation with Prezi. You’ll get 100 templates, the ability to add movement to your slides, and collaborative functionality that allows up to 10 people to work on your Prezi at once. Plus, Prezi is compatible with PC and Mac desktops as well as iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.

Zoom

5. Closing/E-Signature

Knowing when someone has received your contract, read it, and signed it can shave valuable time off your sales cycle. Using an e-signature tool allows everyone to sign digitally, so you waste less time waiting for buyers to … well, spend 10 minutes trying to remember how to use their office printer/scanner.

Examples of Closing/E-Signature Software

PandaDoc

DocuSign

6. Team Communication

Most of this list has been focused around your communication with the customer -- which is how it should be. But it’s important not to forget technology that streamlines your communication with coworkers.

It’s no secret most salespeople live in their inbox, but there are tools that can make communication, knowledge sharing, and competitive or objection analysis much easier among teams.

Examples of Team Communication Software

Slack

  • Price: Free; Standard, $6.67/month/active user; Plus, $12.50/month/active user
  • About: Slack is a collaboration software divvied up into channels and opportunities for direct messages. Organize your channels by team, project, client, or something else altogether. Start threads within those channels to take a conversation further. Slack also offers integrated file sharing, voice or video call capability, and CRM integration that will turn your Slack conversations into HubSpot tasks and notifications.

Your tech stack should be as unique as your business. Analyze each part of your sales cycle to define what technology you need to increase performance and boost revenue. For more, check out our Ultimate Guide to Sales Automation.

16 Jul 16:56

How to Have an Agile Hiring Process to Attract Top Marketing Talent

by Bob Van Rossum

Today is the era of agile marketing–which means–recruitment marketing needs to improve to get the best marketing talent.

Hiring candidates any day of the year is disruptive. As a CMO, you have a plethora of daily tasks. At the same time, you need to hire more talent to make your company grow and ultimately be successful.

On the one hand, you have to complete the tasks of your job. On the other hand, somewhere between your schedule, your team’s schedule, business travels, and PTO you need to fit in a mission-critical quality hire.

Having scheduling issues on your side and you having people who are critical to the hiring process who are busy does not mean the candidate will wait nor does it negate the fact the pace at which hiring is happening outside of your organization is changing.

The goal of having an agile hiring process is to recruit talent fast but also recruit quality talent that will move your company forward.

Video by IBM Watson Talent

Incentivize, Incentivize, Incentivize

As a marketing recruitment firm, we know CMOs have a lot on their plate. Incentivizing your team and hiring managers with a bonus to fill a role in a short window will encourage faster results. Ask yourself how you can put a metric into your team’s bonus that is tied to the speed of which they hire and the quality of that hire. Most companies who are growing quickly tie a portion of bonus compensation to the speed of hire.

The truth is, the best leaders are good at hiring because they understand the long term effect. However, the best workers who are very good at their job, who produce results and who adds value aren’t always good at or focused on hiring talent, especially if that individual is not a direct report.

Finding some way to create a sense of urgency will help push your team to create an agile hiring process.

Create a Revolving Interview Team

To stay ahead of the curve and better delegate responsibility–create a revolving interview team.

Have your core people on the team that you need, but then have team members who can substitute for those individuals, if others are not available. When used strategically, having a broader base of people that you can tap into optimizes the hiring process and keeps the ball rolling.

The key takeaway is to have a cross-functional team. So whether someone on the team leaves the company or becomes too busy, it’s important your organization is cross-trained. By doing so, you will create a stronger more efficient marketing recruitment strategy.

Organize, Don’t Agonize

Another method to use to create an agile hiring process is by creating a systemized way of interviewing. To get a quality hire, you need a great interview process. If you are letting your team interview without direction or wing it, your results will suffer. There are lots of good hiring methodologies out there from behavioral-based interviewing to topgrading. Which structure you use is less important than having a detailed structure you can comfortably rely on.

It can be as simple as creating ten questions to ask all your candidates on a graded scale from most exceptional fit to least fit for a role. Having a team that follows the same guiding principles to assess a candidate will make the hiring process more swiftly especially during the slower months.

It all boils down to this: if you’re not able to move quickly because of scheduling issues on your end, someone else will. If you slow down your hiring process, you will loose top talent. With the pace of change in marketing moving faster than ever, the war for talent is becoming more and more competitive.

Go the Extra Mile

marketing executive search agile recruitment marketing top tips

Have you considered outside business hour interviews?

A smart way to fit extra time in for interviewing is to do it off hours or even when you’re on vacation. Going the extra mile, for instance, changing your interview format to video conference instead of in-person or staying after work to talk to candidates will pay off in the long run.

We know most marketing executives do not want to ask their employees to spend time Saturday interviewing. We understand. Most people don’t wake up and look forward to interviewing candidates for a role. However, another option is you may not hire the best person. The cost of hiring a subpar marketing executive is detrimental to your bottom-line and poses a high risk to the future growth of your business.

The Bottom Line

There’s no perfect hiring process. However, by following these simple tips, you will increase the time it takes to hire. You will also create a more fluid onboarding process. In an active business environment where your daily tasks often exceed business hours, we know it’s hard to try to squeeze in more responsibilities such as looking for new talent. To stay on top means working harder than anyone else, adopting an agile marketing mentality and learning to balance when it’s time to push your team and when it’s time to relax.

16 Jul 16:41

Ultimate Sales Pro. What the best salespeople do differently. Paul Cherry

by Reg Nordman

Ultimate Sales Pro. What the best salespeople do differently. Paul Cherry. 2018. ISBN 978081443896.  The author is a successful salesperson and sales trainer who has detailed the paths to success in sales.  His focus is on efficiency and why you do things this way. He makes a good argument that salespeople need a coach through their career, someone whom your company is unlikely to provide.  He also does a reasonable job wrto to laying out how your career is likely to progress.  I took many notes as his material rings very true. Pretty decent book and takes up about a 3 hour plane ride.

16 Jul 16:40

The Inevitable. Understanding the 12 technological forces that will shape our future. Kevin Kelly

by Reg Nordman

The Inevitable. Understanding the 12 technological forces that will shape our future. Kevin Kelly. 2016. ISBN 9780525428084.  Kelly was an original editor of Wired and witnessed all the recent technology gains ( and losses) . He takes his experience, skepticism, and clarity of vision and puts it all here in this book. Very readable, believable and I feel that most of what he predicts will come true. Since 2016 already I see the trending along his ideas. Anyone who wonders what is coming or has seen lots of what has come to be will enjoy this book from one of the better technology writers of our time.

16 Jul 16:26

1 piece of sales career advice you'll never hear in business school

by steli@close.io (Steli Efti)
sales-career-advice

There’s a certain sales mindset you need to have if you want to succeed. No matter who your prospect is, they’ll have an awful lot of hesitations, about everything from your pricing and features to the date your company was born. You need to overcome all those hurdles in order to close the deal.

If you’re focused on maintaining your nice-salesperson persona, you’ll probably nod your head in agreement with every one of their concerns. The prospect will like you, you’ll feel good about how reasonable you are, and everything will be great, right?

Not quite.

There’s one small detail you’re leaving out: Sure the prospect will like you, and sure you’ll feel pretty great about how nice you are, but that prospect is going to take their business elsewhere, and you can’t pay the bills with polite no-thank-you’s.

So what should you do instead?

You need to be unreasonable. Don’t just nod your head at their concerns. If you do, you’re going to fail at making sales.

But you want to be professionally unreasonable. I wrote in detail about what exactly that means, and how to do that (with word-for-word scripts and templates) in my book The Follow-Up Formula. Click here to claim your free copy today.

The sales mindset requires you to be unreasonable

If you want to be successful in sales, you need to adopt the right sales mindset, and that means being unreasonable. If you’re too reasonable, you won’t be successful long-term.

“What are you talking about, Steli? You want me to be stubborn?”

Kind of...

Before I dig even deeper here, let’s first understand what it actually means to be unreasonable:

Being unreasonable means going beyond the limits of what is acceptable. It is not being guided by or based on good sense.

That’s right—it means “going beyond the limits of what is acceptable.” It means not being guided by the safe answer, the status quo.So if you decide you want to be the most reasonable salesperson in town, you'll have a whole lot of prospects who appreciate you as a person—but you won't be able to push those prospects to change their status quo and become customers.

No matter who you’re selling to, one question will always be the theme of the conversation:

“Why should we choose you over someone else?”

woman-on-sales-call

Let’s be honest: There are tons of other vendors and salespeople and software companies and service providers that your prospect could go with instead of you. The other guys are cheaper, they have more features, they’re bigger, they’ve been around longer…

What makes YOU the choice that prospects can’t possibly say no to?

That right there is the million-dollar question. What do you have to offer that makes you and your company the one they should give their business too? Why should they take a risk on you?

Think about it:

From your prospect’s point of view, their hesitations seem very reasonable.

Whatever price you’re charging, they want it cheaper. No matter how many features you offer, they want more. No matter how exciting your offer may seem, it’s just not the right time for their company. Going with you doesn’t make sense, they say.

If you’re too reasonable, you’ll agree with your prospect about every one of their concerns. But then how do you expect to change their mind and convince them to take the leap of faith with you?

All great innovators and visionaries are unreasonable

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak didn't become household names because they quietly maintained the status quo. Henry Ford isn’t in textbooks for playing it safe.

The world’s great visionaries and innovators have earned that title because they refuse to nod their heads and accept the way things have always been done.

Here’s the thing:

There’s always going to be another reason NOT to change something.

Whether that something is your CRM software, your smartphone, or the grocery store you always go to, you can always come up with a new excuse not to switch it up. Your sales prospects will do the same thing. 

The reasonable approach would be to sit back and accept every one of their excuses and move on. If you buy into their hesitations, you’ll never make positive change.

For example, when the Foursquare sales team was considering to switch from Salesforce to Close, they ran into a lot of internal resistance from management. The reasonable and safe thing would have been to just give up and stick with the safe choice. Instead, they figured out that being unreasonable was worth it, and made a strong case, surfaced facts and data that supported their argument. 

small-business-crm-close

The result?

  • Their sales team was more productive. 
  • They spent less time on administrative tasks, and more time actually selling. (For example, the simple act of logging a call in Salesforce took 16 clicks in Salesforce. In Close? Just 2. If a rep makes 100 to 150 calls a day, and you're dealing with 30 reps, these 14 saved clicks really add up.)
  • They drastically reduced the time it took them to train new reps on how to use the CRM to just one hour! 
  • With Salesforce, about two-thirds of what we were trying to track didn’t get captured in the CRM. Close automatically captured all of this information

How you can actually start converting your prospects

Your prospects want to convince you that there’s nothing wrong with the status quo. If you buy into that idea, you’re going to fail, especially if you’re selling something innovative that’s totally new to them.

If you want to start changing the minds of your prospects and converting them into customers, you need to bring an unreasonable mindset into your sales calls.

sales-call-convert-prospect

When a prospect tells you they don’t want to pay what you’re charging, don’t be so quick to budge.

When they ask why they should choose you over an established brand, remind them that every established brand was once a startup just like you.

When they say they already have someone doing what you offer, don’t just nod your head and move on.

It’s your job as a salesperson to tell them why they need to purchase despite all of these objections. It’s your job to ask them to go beyond what seems reasonable and to take a risk. It’s your job to get them out of their comfort zone.

You need to ask more of them than your competitors do.

You need to convince your prospects that the REWARD of change is greater than the RISK of change. If you can’t do that, you’re going to fail.

Wrapping things up

When we launched Close in 2013, we were jumping into the most competitive category in SaaS. It seemed like everybody was selling a CRM, and yet the market is even more crowded today than it was when we launched. Still, we were able to stand out.

How’d we do it?

We asked more of our prospects than the average salesperson would. When they came back at us with their hesitations and alternatives, we didn’t just nod our heads and agree with those perfectly logical reasons. We were unreasonable.

Am I saying you need to lie, cheat, and steal in order to close deals?

Not at all. Quite the opposite.

You just need to be a little unreasonable if you want to be successful in sales. In our case, that sometimes meant that we would qualify a prospect, figure out that we actually were not the right fit, and then refer them to one of our competitors. You need to be a change-maker who’s not so quick to accept the easy, safe, reasonable excuses.

Carry that unreasonable sales mindset into your calls, and you’ll be closing deals you never thought you could.

If you want to dive a little deeper into this idea of being unreasonable, be sure to watch the full video where I go into the methods and tactics you can use as you shift to an unreasonable sales mindset.

Want my very best advice for succeeding in sales? Download a free copy of my book The Follow-Up Formula today!

ACCESS YOUR FREE COPY NOW

16 Jul 16:20

Winning Your Prospect’s Prospect

by Tibor Shanto

By Tibor Shanto

We’re all familiar with the expression “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Not a moto for successful selling and retention, but maybe it has some purpose. At the core, the concept points how two unrelated parties can band together for a common cause. For sales, that common purpose something other than an “enemy.” The common goal in sales is winning your prospect’s prospect.

Who’s Paying For This?

While we can take this out a few circles, you really don’t need to. The fact is that most buyers only focus on pleasing their direct customer when we help them do that better, they win, and we win. Again, this makes the people your prospect is trying to win, your responsibility as well. On the surface, this sounds reasonable, but in practice, it continues to be a struggle.

While most salespeople can speak to how their product impacts their buyers’ day-to-day world. Mostly through the lens of their product. While the language continues to evolve, the message continues to be the same. Many who sell in a “complex sales” environment continue to define their value in ways linked to features, not business impacts.

Enabling Success

Time and stacks will not change the fact that features are the enabler, but salespeople need to go beyond that and be conversant with what these things enable for the client. That is how our clients get paid; by helping their clients deal with their market realities. So while we are thinking about how we can sell our product to this prospect, they are asking about how this will help them sell to their customers. Our prospects’ buyer’s objectives and requirements are the common and crucial factor.

Deliver More

When I ask salespeople why people would want to buy their product, how they help their customers, the vast majority provide a feature-based response. Faster, shinier, cuter, cheaper, first of its kind, best of its kind, blah, blah, blah. When challenged to expand on how that helps their clients, responses are very much grounded in the deliverable, the product, not business factors, certainly not the business their client is trying to sell.

Ask a group of sellers what they sell, and the majority will respond in something related to their deliverable. Not in why that deliverable will be utilized or the ultimate business impact it helps the company achieve. I recently had a rep from a company who has spent much time and effort in crafting their message. Looking at what they communicate publicly, you quickly understand how they see their AI helping their customers anticipate and react to specific risks. If you dig into their material, they actually speak to the downstream impacts on the buyer’s clients.

I asked the reps to tell me how they would respond to the question of what they sell. (The set up was that they are at a relevant trade show and meet someone in a coffee line who could be a potential buyer who poses the question “what do you sell?”). All but one said, “I sell software” when pushed, “the provides BI to drive efficiencies in inventory management.” The other one said she sells “solutions” (who doesn’t). However, when pushed for what her “solution” solves, back to the empty calorie comfort of “efficiencies.”

The Back End

As long as we continue to define our value in the space between our buyers and us, we will continue to deal with the back end of the opportunity, literally. While they may be looking right at you during the meeting, their thoughts are looking the other way, towards their source of revenue. Will, what you’re selling help them do that better? But you don’t talk about to that, you speak to how your algorithm will deliver relevant data to their fingertips. Take it to the next level of relevance, how they apply that in their world to hit their objectives.

Which objectives or outcomes to speak to is not that hard to figure out, just a bit of time and effort. Go back to people who bought from you six months ago, and 12 months ago. And rather than asking how they love your product, ask them how their workflows have changed. How those change impacted their ability to do specific things for/with their customers. Explore how elements such as their ability to identify and address issues their buyers are dealing with. By understanding how they can help their customers achieve their goals, enhance their reputation, add value to their client’s offering, and improve their cost structure and other areas of finance, you will be able to demonstrate specific, and relevant impact. The same must be done with opportunities you’ve lost, and those that never went to decision.

Slow Down To Go Further

I understand every minute counts and stopping to do something related to an event six months ago may seem odd. But once you develop the habit, make it routine, put time aside for the exercise each week, and you’ll find pay-off that continues to grow over time. We use a simple tool to do this; it needs to be structured, especially if you are going back to review lost opportunities. The last thing they want to do is relitigate a deal they forgot about. Focus the interaction on how the way they do work has changed, or results have changed. There is no room for judgement, no challenge, or pointing out what you could have delivered differently. For best results, you should have a marketing person do this; they won’t take it personally.

You can grab the 360 Degree Deal View here.

As you evolve this practice, you will learn a lot about how they have been able to change their customer’s world.  Look for things that directly benefited both your customer and theirs. When you know that, you can add value by focusing on winning your prospect’s prospect for them.

The post Winning Your Prospect’s Prospect appeared first on TiborShanto.com.

16 Jul 16:14

Moving Upmarket: SMB to Enterprise—What Does Your Marketing Plan Need?

by Sarah Mead

StartupStockPhotos / Pixabay

At the heart of every inbound marketing strategy, the intent is the same: we’re looking to reach best-fit personas for our brand and nurture them with helpful content until they are shouting our brand name from the rooftops. In the B2B world, however, it is important to remember the size of the organization you are trying to reach because it can have many implications for the success of your outreach.

Some strategies are very well suited to reach SMBs, but those same strategies just may not carry the same weight when you’re going after Fortune 500 companies. If your team is heading upmarket and looking to reach more enterprise customers, there are a few key considerations you should make when assessing and reconstructing your marketing plan.

Three Considerations to Inform Your Marketing Action Plan

1. Longer sales process

In most situations when seeking out enterprise clients, you should expect a longer sales cycle—especially when you’re talking about a larger potential deal size. This is crucial for your sales/marketing teams to anticipate so you can plan your touch points and develop properly timed lead nurture workflows.

2. Different personas and decision-making team

At an SMB level, there may be one decision maker who has a budget and can quickly sign on with your product or service. At an enterprise level, however, there are likely multiple departments who will weigh in on the decision-making process—and, depending on the financial investment, the decision may need to go through legal, as well.

3. Type of content

In inbound marketing, we talk a lot about sharing “helpful content.” In this instance, the content will only be helpful if it applies to the buying process at hand. At an enterprise level, you may need more documents to help gain buy-in from other team members, even though that may be completely unnecessary at an SMB level.

Enterprise clients also tend to ask the question, “Who else is using your software/service/product?” When this comes up, it’s helpful to have a few case studies in your back pocket.

If you keep these three considerations in mind, you’ll have no problem revamping your marketing strategy and action plan to better attract enterprise-level clients.

Rethink Your Marketing Plan to Reach Enterprises

Prove Your Credibility

At the enterprise level, prospects will want to know that you have credibility in the space. Prove this through strong partnerships with other companies and brands in your industry. Do what you can to get out there and establish your team as thought leaders early on, so the brand name will carry itself.

Additionally, identify your champions—they’re the ones who will gladly play a role in increasing awareness so other companies see your value, too. A steady investment in PR is another way to carry this credibility and tell your brand’s story. The more frequently you can get bloggers and outlets talking about your brand, the better.

Develop Tons of Content

One easy way to show your credibility to enterprise clients is through the content you create. Make sure that you are regularly producing blog content and premium offers, then share the heck out of them on social. Additionally, invite experts from your industry to contribute content through blogs, webinars, social-exclusive content, and podcasts.

Your enterprise audience will be happy to see that these prestigious voices are tied to your brand, and may have an easier time buying in. As mentioned previously, another easy win is focusing on creating case studies and success stories about your product that demonstrate ROI. These materials have the potential to speak volumes about your brand and are crucial in the consideration stage of the Buyer’s Journey.

Expand Your Reach

Further building on your credibility and brand awareness, think about how you’re leveraging those partnerships digitally to drive strong backlinks to your site. Guest blog posts go a long way in terms of link building, but even more importantly, they show your prospective enterprise customers that you are an expert in this field. Pursuing opportunities to speak at industry-specific conferences and trade shows will perpetuate this expertise, as well.

Consider Account-Based Marketing

It’s not always easy to determine who the decision makers and champions are at an enterprise level. If you find that your team is running into trouble with this, it may be worth thinking about adding account-based marketing to your marketing mix. This can help you expand your prospect outreach while also gleaning better insight about your target audience that can inform your marketing in the future.

Remap Your Sales Process

Knowing that you are (most likely) dealing with a longer sales cycle, marketing and sales will need to put their heads together to create a robust process that works for your enterprise buyers. If you are using a CRM such as HubSpot to track your deals, consider adding in any additional stages needed, such as “With Committee” and “Legal Review,” to account for the entire decision-making process. From there, you can start to reverse engineer and allocate your touch points so you are staying helpful and top of mind during the entire decision-making process.

Conclusion

The shift to attract more enterprise-level leads is certainly within reach—you’ll just want to be intentional about how you access this new market. Once you get the right action plan in place and your team is on the same page, you’ll be on the right path to head upmarket.

16 Jul 16:13

How to Implement Inbound Marketing for SaaS Businesses

by Meggie Nahatakyan

Software as a Service (SaaS) businesses became popular in the last few years. They have the highest demand growth rates of all companies on the market. Naturally, they have to stay on top of marketing trends. So, many turn to inbound marketing to promote their software.

If you own a SaaS company, you probably heard of inbound marketing before but never had the chance to look it up. In this article, you’ll find out what it is and how you can implement it in your current strategy.

What is Inbound Marketing and Why it Matters

Inbound marketing is a form of marketing whose goal is to create awareness and attract global and local based customers through social media or content. It’s the opposite of outbound (interruption) marketing, which promotes the product via advertisements, sales, or promotions.

Your regular customers like to find your product by themselves. If you continuously show them ads, they might get upset and intentionally not buy from you. However, if you only show them the path to your shop, they will gladly go through the funnel all the way to the purchase stage. In other words, it will naturally lead them to the shipping cart instead of intimidating them.

Moreover, most of the customers that landed in your shop through inbound marketing are more likely to turn into repeat customers.

Inbound Marketing Tactics for SAAS Businesses

Do a Thorough Website Optimization

Your website is like your company’s personality. If customers like it, they will want to know it on a deeper level. Keeping a great personality is especially important for SaaS businesses, where people need a user-friendly interface and easy navigation.

In other words, you need to use inbound marketing and optimize your site to speed up the lead generation process. Thorough website optimization or SEO includes full optimization of your site along with keyword optimization and backlinks. Normally, you can’t stuff the site with keywords and links and hope for the best. It is a method that takes time and learning from your part. Make sure to include natural-sounding keywords and acquire backlinks from reputable sites.

Generate Better Content

content

One of the on-page SEO factors to include in the equation is generating better content. Don’t just rewrite similar texts you find online; enhance them with your own insights, market analysis, or additional information that your customers find useful.

The first rule of on-page SEO is that your content must be valuable to the reader. Given the fact that 39% of customers won’t return to your business for about 2 years after having a negative experience with your website, means you should pay detailed attention to what information you provide to your customers. If they find your info boring or unhelpful, they’ll pass on to your competitor’s site. Besides the plain text, give them infographics, videos, exhaustive how-to guides, and flowcharts.

Create Co-Marketing Campaigns

co-marketing importance

If you believe your own marketing methods run dry, try co-marketing. It’s a method of collaborating with other businesses that sell products that compliment your services or have similar marketing journey as you do. Everything is more productive and more fun when you’re doing it with someone.

For example, a co-marketing company and your company can host a webinar together or publish joint research. The leads you gather from this type of content gets shared between you two. Although it sounds simple, the key is that both parties should understand each other and make an agreement. Together, you can potentially reach a customer base that you would never have alone.

Think Outside the Usual Social Media Box

If you think of social media channels, your first thoughts are probably Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. However, Saas businesses should put their marketing efforts into websites such as Reddit, Spiceworks or TechDiscussion, or similar forum-type sites, where people need actionable steps to their questions.

Your answers are inbound marketing, as well. Just make sure not to come off as too pushy with your service. Only give them the answers they need. If you manage to position your SaaS company as an expert, people will trust you more and demand more answers from you.

Consider Improved Inbound Marketing for Your SaaS Business

The benefits of well-crafted inbound marketing strategies can outweigh your outbound marketing tactic. Follow our simple steps in case you’re starting your inbound marketing journey. If you still haven’t considered implementing changes to your SaaS inbound advertising, make sure to get to know more about inbound for SaaS, make a marketing analysis, and hire experts in the field to get you started.

15 Jul 16:36

Boost Your Situational Awareness to Win More Sales

by Gerhard Gschwandtner
Research from Florida State University found that high-performing salespeople are typically more alert in customer interactions, but that level of situational awareness often diminishes in reps who have recently been top performers – because they tend to become overly confident.
15 Jul 16:25

Our Customers Are Voting With Their Time

by Dave Brock

Several years ago, Gartner research on how customers allocate their time in the buying process indicated about 17% of their time is meeting with sales people—all sales people, not just us. We just get a fraction of that 17%. (I’d be interested in seeing an update to that research, I suspect it will be less than 17%.)

Customers are looking for, and finding, answers in other places. In part, this makes huge sense, if they can more efficiently find the answers they need through digital research, then they are more efficient (perhaps not more effective) in their buying process.

But a good part of this small time allocation for sales people is that sales people aren’t providing the help they need, in a way that’s most helpful.

The same research shows that customers are relatively indifferent about the channel through which they research and learn. They don’t necessarily prefer one over the other, they will tend to leverage multiple channels ( a little over 3), simultaneously. But they aren’t unwilling to see sales people, they are just investing their time where they learn most, most effectively, and most efficiently.

Hmmmmm, so what’s this say about sales?

Customers are investing 83% of their time in alternative channels because they get greater value from those channels. They get what they want, when they want, more efficiently.

Our answer to this seems less focused on increasing the value we create–incenting them to invest more time with us. Instead, we ramp up the volume, velocity machines.

If we aren’t getting enough ear/face time, with current efforts, let’s just double what we do. Twice as many calls, twice as many emails, twice as many social outreaches…… And when that doesn’t work, we double it again.

At the same time, there are more alternatives for customers to choose, each competing for ear/face time. Each raising the volume (figuratively and literally).

Yet we ignore the customer response–or lack of response. We don’t recognize they are voting through their lack of response and through their decreasing allocation of their time in meeting with us.

Instead of trying to learn what we could do to change this, how we can motivate customers to change their votes, we persist with more of the same thing.

As part of our work, we get the privilege of talking to our customers’ customers. We ask, “What would cause you to want to meet with a sales person? What would cause you to invest a larger portion of your time in meeting with sales people? What do great experiences with sales people look like? (As I re-read that sentence, it seems a bit like an oxymoron.)

Don’t expect any great “Aha’s” or insights from what we learn in those discussions. We have known them for years, if not decades.

  • We don’t want sales people to waste our time.
  • We want sales people who know us, understand our business, our markets, our challenges.
  • We want sales people that know their products and how we get the greatest value from implementing them.
  • We want sales people who care about us and what we want to achieve, not just the PO.
  • We want sales people who can help us with the buying process. To help us think about things we may be overlooking or may not know.
  • We value those sales people that give us new ideas or help us think about our businesses differently.

It’s almost comical, if it weren’t so sad. What the customer wants has been obvious for decades. It’s not new, it hasn’t changed.

Yet since we fail to deliver what they want, they invest their time in other places, where they can get the help they want, more effectively and efficiently.

We can earn more time from customers. The answer is simple, we just give them the “selling experience” they value as part of their “buying experience.”

Our customers vote based on how they allocate their time. We know what we need to do to get them to vote for us, but that probably means doing a lot less of what we currently do, as well.

Go get your customers’ votes! You will set yourself apart from everyone else.

15 Jul 16:21

How to Deal With Difficult Clients: 9 Innovative Strategies

by Hannah Cohen

Dealing with tough clients is a part and parcel of every agency business. Learn how to deal with difficult clients with 9 strategies in this article.

In agency hallways, conference rooms, and cafeterias, the stories abound. Sometimes shared in hushed tones, sometimes in boisterous tales at late afternoon lunches. Every agency veteran, it seems, has at least one to tell.

I’m talking, of course, about client horror stories.

Dealing with clients lies at the heart of the agency business. Whatever else you might offer, you at least need to be good at dealing with clients.

Unfortunately, being good with clients isn’t always a two-way street. Some clients can make you tear your hair out in frustration. Others can make you want to quit the business altogether.

How exactly do you deal with such clients? Do you simply rely on the old virtues of patience and people skills, or are there actual tactics you can use?

I’ll answer this all-important question in this article. You’ll learn how to identify difficult clients and how to develop a strategy to deal with them.

Not All Difficult Clients Are the Same

The brief for agencies in any agency-client relationship is simple – offer expertise, results, and good service.

Clients, however, don’t always know the part they have to play. They switch their decisions frequently, don’t respond to requests on time, and ask for too many changes too late in the project’s life cycle.

This behavior is rarely out of malice. Clients very seldom, if ever, intentionally treat agency reps (and the project as a whole) poorly.

Rather, they often act this way because:

  • They don’t know any better
  • Something in their personal/professional life is keeping them occupied
  • They’ve been sold an unrealistic vision by the sales/marketing team

Which is why I like to say that not all difficult clients are the same, and your approach to dealing with them can’t be the same either.

You can broadly divide difficult clients into two camps: the clearly difficult, and the unintentionally difficult.

Clearly difficult clients are the kind you hear horror stories about. These are people who want too much work for too little money, who’ll withhold payments, and who’ll be rude to your team. You know them when you see them.

The vast majority, however, are unintentionally difficult clients. These are clients who don’t really know they’re being difficult. Think of clients who:

  • Haven’t been educated enough about the service to make quick, informed decisions
  • Haven’t been told clearly if something is out of scope
  • Are constrained by their company’s policies (say, you want Net 30 payments but their employer only does Net 45 payments)
  • Are burdened by professional or personal issues beyond their control
  • Inherited a bad situation from an earlier stakeholder
  • Were oversold by the sales team and entered the agency-client relationship with different expectations

In these situations, it’s easy to use a broad brush to paint such clients as “difficult”. But more often than not, their difficultness is a result of the agency’s failures. If the PM doesn’t communicate clearly enough, or the sales team sells them an unrealistic vision, is it really the client’s fault if they demand too much or struggle with decision-making?

This is why you can’t adopt the same approach when dealing with all difficult clients. Quarantine and control the clearly difficult clients, but for the unintentionally difficult ones, practice empathy and education instead.

Adopt this philosophy and you’ll find that dealing with hard clients becomes much easier.

9 Strategies for Handling Difficult Clients

A lot of advice online for dealing with difficult clients tends to focus on the customer service aspects of client work.

While a friendly smile and a chipper attitude definitely help, if you focus too much on these tactics, you tend to ignore deeper, more fundamental issues.

If you have a lot of difficult clients, you have to ask: why do you have difficult clients in the first place? Is there something you’re doing wrong?

That’s exactly what we’ll focus on in this section. Apart from specific tactics, we’ll look at some core strategies you need to adopt to handle tough clients.

1. Reorient your prices

Agency veterans will tell you that the more you compete on prices, the tougher clients you tend to get. It makes sense as well – a client on a tight budget will want to cross-check every invoice and demand more from your team.

How do you avoid these clients?

Simple: by reorienting how you sell your services, particularly in terms of pricing.

As we wrote in our earlier article on agency positioning, your client base tends to mirror your positioning. An agency that focuses on value pricing often attracts value-focused clients. If you sell yourself as a cheaper alternative, you’ll get clients who want cheaper work as well.

This essentially locks you in a situation where your work is valued in terms of its cost, not its performance.

It’s a vicious cycle – a “cheap” agency can’t hire top-tier talent, which means that your work remains mediocre, which also means that clients are never truly satisfied.

Pricing remains the second biggest reason for clients leaving ending an agency relationship (Source)

By repositioning yourself as a performance or quality-focused agency, you can avoid landing a lot of these deal-hunting clients. Once you do that, you’ll find that a lot of your client troubles tend to go away as well.

2. Simplify decision-making

Have you ever been to a restaurant where the menu was thicker than War & Peace and the list of cuisines ranged from Austrian to Vietnamese? If yes, did you ever struggle with deciding what to eat?

Clients act the same way when you confront them with too many choices. If you offer them 20 concepts for a logo, don’t be surprised when they take forever to approve a design.

Your goal as a project manager should be to aid the client’s decision making. You can do this by:

  • Offering clients fewer options
  • Offering tips and advice on making a choice

For example, instead of five, you might offer clients two different strategies for growing traffic. You might also tell them that “80% of our clients choose Option A” to help them decide.

Remember: clients don’t know the industry as well as you do. Client input matters, but it has to also be channeled and controlled. Don’t be afraid to guide them down a path that you know works better for them.

3. Make sure that your communication is watertight

One of the core symptoms of a difficult client is someone who doesn’t respond to requests, ignores deadlines, and doesn’t approve deliverables on time.

While it’s easy to blame these issues on the client, you have to ask: have you done your best to communicate your concerns?

Clients often miss deadlines and requests not because they want to, but because of countless other reasons such as:

  • They were never made aware of the importance of the deadline. This is common in situations where missing deadlines in the past had no impact on the project.
  • They never knew about the deadline in the first place.
  • They weren’t given enough information to complete the request
  • The platform you used to approve/reject deliverables was too difficult to use.

All these problems are fixable on your own end. If approving a particular deliverable on time is crucial for the project, it’s your prerogative as a project manager to make sure clients understand that.

So before you start blaming clients, make sure that you’ve covered all your bases as far as communication is concerned. A few simple tips such as using automated reminders and online proofing tools can make your job a lot easier.

In Workamajig, you can ask stakeholders to can review deliverables right from the same project dashboard.

4. Educate your clients

There are some clients who have years of experience working with agencies. They know exactly what is expected of them in this relationship.

Then there are clients who’ve never worked with an agency before. They have little idea what to do and when to do it.

The problem is particularly acute for digital agencies that sell services which aren’t easy to understand. A client might instinctively know what a TV ad campaign is, but something like “inbound marketing” or “digital PR” might be difficult to grasp, especially if you’re dealing with older stakeholders.

The solution to this problem is to invest in client education.

When you get a new client, evaluate:

  • How well they understand your core service
  • How much experience do they have working with agencies

Create a client education and communication plan based on this evaluation.

How you approach this depends entirely on your agency, your working style, and the contract. With a large client, you might want to invest in hands-on, 1-on-1 training/education. With smaller clients, you might create a drip email sequence to educate them about the service.

5. Understand the client’s situation

Or in fewer words: be empathetic.

The client might be going through a personal or professional issue that’s keeping her from focusing 100% on the project. Maybe they had some illness in the family. Maybe they had a horrible quarter and are expected to downsize. Or maybe the original sponsor left the company and the new one hasn’t had time to catch-up.

While these problems can’t necessarily justify poor client behavior, they can at least explain them. It also helps you discard the mentality of painting them as a “difficult” client.

Instead, you can see them for what they are: good clients stuck in a bad situation. This gives you room to handle the issue with more empathy and patience.

6. Review the promises you make to clients

The agency business is a tough one. By one measure, there are nearly 14,000 ad agencies in the US alone.

The total number of agencies in the US (Image source: Statistia)

This immense competition means that agencies often promise the world to clients. From parading their list of marquee clients to pitching astounding results, agencies are notorious for making exaggerated claims just to land the account.

And what happens when you can’t deliver on these claims?

Unhappy, difficult clients.

One of the first steps in dealing with difficult clients, thus, is to realign client expectations with reality. Review the promises your biz dev team makes to clients. Are you promising them results that you can’t guarantee? Are you passing off your best-case scenarios as the norm?

If clients enter the relationship expecting the extraordinary, delivering the merely good won’t suffice. So work with your biz dev team and get them to review their sales pitch. Try to get a PM to sit in on a meeting to drag things back to reality.

7. Establish standards early in the relationship

Some clients think that they’re the only clients you have and demand all your time. Some others ask for the impossible (and get angry when you can’t deliver).

Problems like these usually have the same origin: you didn’t establish standards and boundaries early in the relationship. If a panicked client called you up at 11 in the night about a mundane issue, and you didn’t tell them it was inappropriate, what’s stopping them from doing the same in the future?

Fix this issue by being clear and upfront about your standards. Clients should know exactly what is appropriate and what isn’t. They should also know everything that is included in your service and what isn’t.

If they want more than the original brief, make it clear to them that it will cost them more as well.

This isn’t easy to do of course – agencies are often scared of crossing clients – but the earlier you do it in the relationship, the happier you’ll be.

8. Keep a record of everything

Does the client ask for too many changes too late in the project stage? Do they argue about including extras that were not a part of the original agreement? Do they delay approving a deliverable, then deny that they ever received it?

All of these issues are avoidable by simply keeping a record of everything.

Managing change requests formally (instead of an informal “I’ll get it done”), for instance, can serve as an insurance against scope creep. It keeps clients in the loop about the changes they’ve requested and ensures that things don’t get too much out of hand.

52% of projects experience scope creep, according to PMI (Source)

Similarly, by keeping track of deliverables (even using a deliverable sign-off sheet [include link]) ensures that clients know the project is well on track.

Data is your friend against angry clients. Keep track of things so you have evidence to point to in case a client demands the impossible.

9. Don’t be afraid to cut your losses

Finally, you’ll sometimes come across clients who will just never be satisfied. No matter what you do, they’ll demand more.

Worse, they’ll be rude to your team and kill the morale across your entire organization.

With such clients, don’t be afraid to show them to the exit sign. Whatever money their account brings in isn’t worth destroying your sanity over. Especially if it affects your team as a whole.

Remember that agencies thrive on talent. Losing one client and retaining a happy, skilled team is always a good trade.

Over to You

Handling tough clients is part-and-parcel of the agency business. While patience and fortitude are definitely valuable virtues to have in such situations, a well-rounded strategy will serve you better. Follow the tips I shared above to make dealing with difficult clients easier.

One way of improving your client interactions is to use better project management software. Try Workamajig today to see how it can transform the way you deal with clients.

15 Jul 16:21

If You Have No Problem with Generating Revenue, You May Have a Pricing Opportunity

by Doug Bartels
Are you growing faster than your competitors?  Have you started the year off blowing out your plan?  If you answer yes, congrats, you have a good “problem” on your hands.   What CEO doesn’t want to grow even faster? It gets the
15 Jul 16:21

Tough Love for Salespeople About Selling Over Email

by Anthony Iannarino

If there is one thing I see salespeople do that harms their results, it is believing they can sell over email. Because they can’t secure a meeting, they accept a conversation on the phone and an emailed proposal and pricing as their sales process (something I am calling the new one-call close). This is to do the opposite of what a domination strategy requires of you.

If you can’t sell the value of a meeting, then you can’t sell the value of the process. If you can’t sell the process, you will struggle mightily to sell your solution. Rather than adapting your sales process to something that doesn’t serve you, you are better off learning to trade enough value for a meeting, increasing your conviction, and making a better argument for a face-to-face meeting.

Trading Value

In The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the 10 Commitments That Drive Sales , I wrote about two rules for salespeople: 1) Trading value for every commitment you ask for, and 2) Controlling the process.No more pushy sales tactics. The Lost Art of Closing shows you how to proactively lead your customer and close your sales. The Lost Art of Closing

The single reason your prospects or dream clients reject your request for a meeting is that they don’t think your offer justifies their time. If you want to make it easier to obtain a meeting, increase the value you offer in trade for that meeting.

In Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customers Away From Your Competition, I included a framework in the first third of the book on developing an executive briefing that is worth your dream client’s time and how to use the tool for capturing mindshare, compelling change—and scheduling a meeting. You will do better when your value is captured even if there is no nest step (that’s one way you know its real value). Win customers away from your competition. Check out Eat Their LunchEat Their Lunch

It’s foolish to believe you can win big deals without your dream client agreeing to a meeting. However, trading value may not be enough to get you an appointment, so before talking about controlling the process, we have to cover another change that will improve your ability to acquire a meeting.

Conviction

If you don’t believe what you are saying, neither will your dream client. If you are not willing to push for a meeting, you are not going to obtain the meetings you need. If you don’t believe you will create value for your dream client in a meeting, your doubt will become their doubt.

You have to be willing ask again, and you have to promise your dream client you will not waste one minute of their time, the heart of every objection you will ever hear when you are asking for a first meeting.

This newsletter isn’t about belief in your company, even though that’s necessary. It also isn’t about your confidence in your product or solution. It’s about your confidence in yourself, your belief that you alone can create enough value to deserve the meeting.

Controlling the Process

Your prospect may not want to have the meeting necessary for real change, the meetings required to move from their current state to a better future state. If you can’t sell a meeting, you can’t sell the process. This is true because the process is a series of meetings.

Salespeople (and sales leaders) are being sold on the idea that automation and technological tools will improve their results. Most of the tools start with a premise that suggests friction-free, time-shifting technologies are the right medium for sales conversations. They assume deals can be sold and won without face-to-face meetings and phone calls. Not every company should run their sales organization as an SAAS company, nor should every company have the same sales stack.

Controlling the process requires you to talk to your prospective client about the real next steps necessary for producing the results they want and need. You have to ask for these meetings and to do that you need to be a combative diplomat. The combative part means persistently and energetically arguing to do what’s right, not what’s easy. The diplomat part means having that conversation in a way that doesn’t increase the resistance on your dream client’s part and instead, reducing it to the point you gain agreement to the next meeting.

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  • If your dream client isn’t going to meet with you, why would you believe they are going to buy from you?
  • If your dream client won’t commit to going through the process you know is necessary, what makes you believe they are going to sign a contract and start sending you checks?

The post Tough Love for Salespeople About Selling Over Email appeared first on The Sales Blog.

15 Jul 16:18

B2B Reads: Learning from Failure, Recession, and The Phone Diet

by Kailee McKinney

In addition to our Sunday App of the Week feature, we also summarize some of our favorite B2B sales & marketing posts from around the Web each week. We’ll miss a ton of great stuff, so if you found something you think is worth sharing please add it to the comments below.

Learning From Failure
Sometimes failure can be the key to future success. Thanks for your thoughts, David Brock.

5 Ways To Reinvent The B2B Customer Experience To Boost Engagement
Some great advice or boosting your customer engagement. Thanks, Sam Makad.

How To Prepare For The Coming Recession
Insight on becoming an adaptive enterprise to survive the coming recession. Great article, J.P. Gownder.

4 Things CMOs Can Do to Prolong Their Tenure
Some things for CMOs to consider if they want to ensure their place in their company. Thanks for the tips, Steve Olenski.

The Phone Diet: How I cut back on my favorite technology — and why it made a big difference
Do you need help detoxing from your phone addiction? Here are some great ways. Thanks, Adam Schoenfeld.

How to Write a Creative Brief in 7 Simple Steps [Examples + Template]
Some awesome tips for writing creative briefs if you’re just starting out. Thanks for the advice, Pamela Bump.

Marketers Lack Confidence Measuring Content Impact
A closer look at measuring your content impact. Thanks for your insight, Jon Gingerich.

8 Unconventional Marketing Tactics Every CMO Should Take Advantage Of
Some marketing tactics you might want to check out if you’re looking to cut costs and see better results.Great tips, Adam Torkildson.

The Shift From Sales Reps to Trusted Advisors
Buyers today are more educated, and with that, their expectations of salespeople have also increased. Great article via Seismic.

The Books That Taught Me How to Sell
A look at some great sales books to check out. Thanks for your suggestions, Anthony Iannarino.

The post B2B Reads: Learning from Failure, Recession, and The Phone Diet appeared first on Heinz Marketing.

15 Jul 16:17

The ultimate guide to selling your startup for a boatload of cash, from founders who sold their startups for billions

by Shana Lebowitz and Sherin Shibu

AppDynamics Jyoti Bansal

  • There's no set way to sell a business successfully.
  • We asked founders who have done it to share best practices and common pitfalls to avoid, and to provide best practices and war stories in exclusive conversations with Business Insider.
  • For example, Jyoti Bansal, founder of AppDynamics and Harness, recommends selling a few shares instead of selling the whole company if you need the money but don't want to lose control.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Jyoti Bansal decided to sell AppDynamics to Cisco the day before the company was set to go public.

Cisco had offered $3.7 billion for AppDynamics, which was nearly twice what the app-analytics business was pricing its IPO at.

That meant many AppDynamics employees would fare very well financially. And for Bansal, who is now the CEO of Harness, an automated software deployment platform, his team's well-being was the deciding factor.

"We had at least 400 employees who would make more than $1 million if we sold," Bansal previously told Business Insider. "You have to do the right thing for them — $1 million is life changing."

Not every entrepreneur will find themselves torn between such appealing outcomes. But deciding to sell the company you've built from the ground up, and then finding the right partner, is rarely easy.

So Business Insider asked Bansal, plus other seasoned entrepreneurs and an academic director of entrepreneurship in exclusive interviews, to share some best practices around selling a startup — and the biggest pitfalls to avoid.

Our sources include:

  • Marla Beck, the founder and CEO of luxury beauty retailer Bluemercury. She sold the company to Macy's for $210 million in 2015.
  • Justin Kan, the founder and CEO of Atrium, a law firm for startups. He sold Twitch, a live-streaming platform for gamers, to Amazon for $970 million in 2014.
  • Jeanette Miller, director of the corporate innovation and entrepreneurship major at Penn State Smeal College of Business and associate director of the Farrell Center for Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
  • Steve Martocci, the founder and CEO of music-creation platform Splice. He sold GroupMe, a group-messaging app, to Skype for $85 million in 2011.
  • Marc Lore is the CEO of Walmart eCommerce US. He sold retail startup Quidsi to Amazon for over $500 million in 2011, and Jet.com to Walmart for $3 billion and stock in 2016.

Read on for a practical guide to selling your startup.

Don't build a company just to sell it

Miller, the Penn State professor, advises founders to have a potential exit strategy (like selling your company or taking it public) in place from day one.

You should keep that potential exit in mind during the fundraising process. Beck has learned through running Bluemercury that some venture capitalists want to see a return on their investment sooner rather than later, which means they may pressure you to sell or go public before you want to.

That said, building a company just to sell it can backfire.

As GroupMe and Splice founder Martocci previously told Business Insider, venture capitalists can "sniff out" founders who go in with the intention to sell. They'll be dissuaded from backing those founders, who don't seem truly committed to fulfilling the company's mission. Instead, those founders are prioritizing monetary gain.

Focus instead on making your business as successful as possible. A growing company will inevitably attract interest from potential buyers.

The right time to sell

Some founders wind up selling their company out of desperation. Maybe their company is losing money or growth is stagnant.

To be sure, it's hard to predict whether you'll wind up in those circumstances. But the best time to sell is when you don't need to.

That's according to Kan, the Twitch and Atrium founder, who wrote a blog post about selling a startup. In an interview with Business Insider, he added that you should ideally be in a position of leverage when you sell. Leverage could mean your company is growing rapidly or you have interest from other potential buyers. Twitch, for example, reportedly had acquisition offers from Google and Yahoo!.

"If you're running out of money, your company hasn't been growing, and you're desperate to sell it, then you don't have any leverage," Kan said. Partners aren't just looking for a proven record of success, they want to see the potential for continued success.

Consider alternatives to selling

Bansal sold some shares of AppDynamics when he declined an offer of $350 million, thinking he would continue to grow and try to achieve unicorn status.

He points out that any founder can do the same: sell some of your shares without giving up complete control of your company. That way, you can continue growing the business while also gaining some financial stability.

He said his wife wasn't happy that he was turning down the $350 million offer. "But selling a small amount of my stock made her very happy and supportive for continuing to do it in the longer term," he added.

Read more: Jugs of coffee, lots of Advil, and no sleep for 4 days: A startup founder reveals what it was like to sell his company for $3.7 billion

Think about what you want to accomplish before you negotiate with potential buyers

Marla BeckDo you want to scale? Do you need easier access to capital? Figure out what your ambitions are — and remember that they might not be the same as another founder's.

"People forget that entrepreneurship is really personal," Beck said. "You need to actually understand what you want and what you're trying to do and actually take some time to reflect."

Beck recently advised a founder who was evaluating multiple offers from potential buyers. The founder realized that none of the offers were exactly what she wanted. Beck told her to take a step back and figure out what was important to her, and then push for what she wanted if she wasn't getting it.

Be realistic about your company's valuation

It's hard to be objective when calculating your company's value. As Kan points out, the potential buyer is likely valuing your startup based on where it fits in with their short- or long-term strategy — and their number is likely lower than yours.

Miller's research suggests that new founders can be especially naive. "The first business is always the most challenging because you're usually relatively unrealistic," she said. "And the opportunity that is in front of you, everybody thinks it's going to be a billion dollar company."

It probably won't be.

One potential solution is to get an external party (i.e., a banker or a lawyer) to come in and value your company for you. "When you have a banker and someone you really trust or believe in," Beck said, "they're able to talk to all the parties and figure out what the right terms are and what's important to each party, so you come to an agreement."

Before selling Bluemercury to Macy's, Beck interviewed five different bankers before settling on one she trusted. She said too many founders make the mistake of hiring the first banker they meet and rushing to sign a contract, only to realize that the person or the terms aren't a good fit.

Read more: A CEO who sold his first startup for $1 billion explains how to build a company and stay happy at the same time

Set expectations with your partner upfront

Before you sign a term sheet, be clear with the acquiring company about your vision for the partnership.

When Beck was in conversation with Macy's about selling Bluemercury, she was clear that she wanted to continue scaling while still maintaining the company culture. She set those expectations with Macy's upfront. 

Beck recommends getting into the nitty-gritty as much as possible. For example, she said, you should decide how often you're going to meet with leadership at your parent company.

Beck, for her part, wanted to stay focused on growth and didn't want to be distracted by having to prepare for a weekly or monthly meeting with Macy's. "It was really important for me to have the mind space to continue to be a creator as well as a CEO scaling a company," she said.

Read more: The first-time founder's ultimate guide to navigating a term sheet and avoiding common pitfalls — with a sample from a major VC

Know whether an offer is legitimate

Justin KanApproach every offer with a degree of skepticism. 

In his blog post, Kan shares a few ways to tell if an offer is "bulls---":

  • It doesn't come with an expiration date or the promise of a term sheet to be delivered within 24 to 48 hours.
  • The acquiring company isn't doggedly pursuing you to prevent you from looking elsewhere.
  • They're offering to pay you $10 million and your startup already has a term sheet for a $15 million Series A round. (These are hypothetical numbers, but the point is to clarify valuation expectations as soon as possible.) 

Do some research upfront to make sure you don't waste your time on subpar offers.

Don't be afraid to negotiate or to see what else is out there

Kan urges founders not to be afraid to say no.

"A potential acquirer's first offer is rarely its best offer," he writes. "The potential acquirer isn't going anywhere." In fact, Kan writes that being willing to walk away gives you some leverage in the negotiation.

Another key negotiation strategy is initiating some competition, Kan writes. It's similar to the way a job candidate wants interest from multiple companies, to incentivize each firm to bump up their salary offer.

Bansal agreed. Once you've gotten an offer that piques your interest, he said, ask around and find out from other potential buyers what their terms would be.

Bansal admitted he didn't shop around after Cisco offered to buy AppDynamics. But, he said, "that's a common thing that a lot of companies should do." That way, you'll be more educated as to how appealing the first offer really is, and you'll be able to make the right decision for all your shareholders.

Consider important factors beyond money

Money may be the most readily quantifiable piece of an offer. But it's not the only important one. 

Bansal outlines three questions to think about when evaluating offers. 

  1. Does the buyer's mission align with your company's? "You want to solve a particular problem," Bansal said. "How much does the acquiring company believe in that, and how much are they aligned with your mission and the vision that you had as a startup?"
  2. Does the buyer's culture align with your company's? "As a founder, you are responsible for your employees, your team," Bansal said. "You don't want them to get into a culture where they would not enjoy it, or they would hate it, or they would say something like, 'This is not what I signed up for.'"
  3.  Will the buyer's offer allow you to accelerate your company's mission? Maybe the most compelling thing is their sales force, or their capital. Focus on what your potential partner is bringing you.

Considering these factors will save you potential regret after an acquisition by making sure that the company you've built retains its mission and culture.

Read more: Founders and investors reveal the ultimate guide to scaling a startup — and common pitfalls to avoid

Be prepared to experience some regret or confusion

Some entrepreneurs who have sold their companies have expressed regret. Lore, for example, remembered selling Quidsi to Amazon as something of a let-down. "It was this really depressing sort of moment where we didn't even want to go out for a drink," he previously told Business Insider's Alyson Shontell. "It wasn't a celebration. It was sort of like mourning."

Even founders who are pleased with their decision should anticipate some feelings of confusion. 

"It probably would've been good to raise more money and keep going," Kan said. "But I can't really regret that."

Explain to your employees why the acquisition is a good thing

Whether or not they're losing their jobs, employees may find the acquisition news jarring. It's your job to help them understand why you made this decision and what their future looks like.

Entrepreneur and angel investor Brad Flora remembers telling the staff at his startup, Perfect Audience, that he'd sold the company.

In a Slate article, Flora writes, "When I shared the news, the team stared blankly at me, unsure if it was a good thing or a bad thing." He and his cofounder spent an hour answering employees' questions. Eventually, they realized it was a positive development, since most of the proceeds from the deal would go to employees.

Flora was able to tell his employees, who took risks to join the fledgling company, that they had earned "a big chunk" of cash and stock. He considered that the best part of the process. 

Keep your employees' best interests in mind

Your employees' careers are just as important as yours.

In periods of organizational change, Miller says there's a "huge uncertainty" among employees about what's going to happen to them. It's important to consider their perspective as well. 

That's why Bansal accepted Cisco's offer and declined to go public as planned. After all, how often can you deliver $1 million to 400 employees?

Read more: HOW TO START A BUSINESS: The ultimate guides for founders on launching a company, raising money, and becoming wildly successful

SEE ALSO: Building a company that sells for millions might sound like a dream — but for CEOs who do it, the next chapter can be just as hard

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Kylie Jenner is the world's second highest-paid celebrity. Here's how she makes and spends her $1 billion.

15 Jul 16:17

Why You Always Get What You Pay For

by Anthony Iannarino

You may not like what you get, and you may not like what you pay, but you will always get what you pay for.

If you don’t like what you get, you still paid for it. If you didn’t like it because it was less than you feel you should have received, it was exactly what you paid for. You think you invested enough, and the seller does as little as possible, reducing what they do to be able to give you the price you want. When you underinvest, you rarely get what you really wanted. This is why buyer’s feel cheated when they get the bargain they insist upon.

If you don’t like what you paid, you still got what you got. If you paid more than you wanted to and got less than expected, you got what you paid for. You again received what you paid for, even if you made a more substantial investment and expected much more. You invested enough, but the seller invested too little. This how sellers lose future sales, future clients, and receive poor word of mouth.

If you like what you got and you liked what you paid, you invested the right amount in the outcome you wanted, and the party that sold it to you invested enough to deliver it.

The idea that you get what you pay for is well recognized in some areas, but in other areas, it’s as if it’s a foreign concept.

Taking Money Out of Your Program

Some people are deeply committed to the belief that they can take money out of their solution and somehow make it better. Never in the history of all human history has taken money out of anything improved it. Yet, there are people, companies, and certain roles who operate from this belief. They get what they pay for, reducing their supplier’s prices, and much of the time, increasing their costs. This group insists on taking money out of their own program.

Others deeply believe you get what you pay for, ensuring they make the necessary investment to deliver. People who buy this way think that paying more means that they should expect more, and the seller should—and will be—accountable for the outcome. They get what they pay for, paying a higher price, and experiencing lower costs and better results. This group insists on a fair deal and the outcome of their investment.

The first category of buyers believes they can shrink themselves to greatness, removing more money from their programs, mistakenly believing they have taken the money from their supplier. Instead, they have reduced the investment in their own program, making it more difficult and less likely they get what they want and expecting it anyway.

The second category of buyers is not buying price. Instead, they are buying an outcome. And while they are always going to ask you for your best price, they are not going to try to extract so much of a price concession that it would cause you to fail them. They want to invest what is necessary to produce the result they need, not more, and not less.

As someone who sells, you want to acquire clients and customers in the second category, and as much as is possible, avoiding those who would expect more than they are willing to pay for.

Essential Reading!

Get my 3rd book: Eat Their Lunch

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The post Why You Always Get What You Pay For appeared first on The Sales Blog.

15 Jul 16:16

Lessons from the World’s Most Famous Car Salesman

by Dan Stefano

Iacocca

Car salesmen get a bad rap, trying to peddle vehicles while burdened with pop culture-fueled stereotypes as swindlers and lowlifes. Indeed, there are fast-talkers with dubious intentions, but most are just regular folks doing a job.

And some are legends.

Lee Iacocca, the auto industry titan who was the face of Ford as it soared to new heights with a series of masterful campaigns, died July 2 at age 94. One of America’s best-known businessmen in his heyday, he has since garnered a mixed reputation, after playing a role developing one of Ford’s most disastrous vehicles, making unpopular-but-necessary decisions as an executive with a then-bankrupt Chrysler, and amid revelations that many of his best ideas may not have actually been his.

But Iacocca’s marketing acumen and status as a communicator are mostly unimpeachable. Early on, he recognized cars were more than a means of getting from point A to point B, playing up the sense of freedom, style and personality that permeates the industry’s messaging today.

As Iacocca displayed an ability to connect with consumers that few possess, some major waypoints in his career have timeless lessons for anyone who works in communications. Let’s examine a handful.

  • The 1956 Ford: Iacocca’s first major success came as an assistant sales manager in Ford’s Philadelphia district. Amid sluggish sales, he concocted a simple promotion: “56 for 56.” After a 20 percent down payment, customers could get a ’56 Ford with three years of $56 monthly payments. The alliterative campaign took off, catching fire with a growing middle class that was about to take the auto industry into the stratosphere. Iacocca’s district went from last place in the nation in units sold to first.Those results earned him a promotion, and four years later he became a vice president and general manager of Ford Motor Co.’s titular Ford division. It all started with “56 for 56,” which stands as a testament to the value of a great promotion with a catchy title. They still draw in audiences and likely always will
  • The Mustang: Iacocca’s memoir offers this description of the quintessential American muscle car: “It had to be a sports car but more than a sports car. We wanted to develop a car that you could drive to the country club on Friday night, to the drag strip on Saturday and to church on Sunday.”Understanding his market and demographics, Iacocca recognized young car buyers wanted something fresh and exciting – and many had the extra cash for a fun second car. The low-cost Ford Mustang was an instant success upon its debut in 1964, and while many (convincingly) dispute Iacocca’s role in its actual development, his spin on that pretty set of wheels is still felt today. Like the higher-end Corvette, the Mustang tells a uniquely American story about powerful engineering and the freedom of the road – and Iacocca knew it.
  • The Pinto: The biggest failure of Iacocca’s career had horrific consequences. In a rush to make a subcompact car that could compete with increasingly popular imports, Iacocca, who became Ford’s president in 1970, sped along the development of the Ford Pinto. And in a subtle mirror of his “56 for 56” campaign, he wanted a vehicle that weighed no more than 2,000 pounds and sold for $2,000. Those constraints contributed to the development of a fast-selling but incredibly dangerous car, with a flawed fuel tank that could explode upon being rear-ended.Lives were lost – reports say as many as 180 died in rear-impact-related fires, and hundreds more were burned. Ford eventually was charged with reckless homicide after three teenage girls died in Indiana, but the company was acquitted. In his autobiography, Iacocca claimed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s then-director said, “It’s really no worse than any other small car. You don’t have an engineering problem as much as you have a legal and public-relations problem.” Iacocca blamed management for the failure, including himself, but he denied the company cut corners. Still, he was fired by Ford shortly after a 1978 recall of 1.5 million Pintos.

    In the end, there is no defending something that ends in such tragedy, but it does highlight that a company needs crisis communications training and ready plans for any unforeseen result.

  • The Minivan: It’s almost hard to believe there was a time without minivans, the once-ubiquitous, lumpy family vehicle that has had to make room for SUVs and crossovers over the past couple decades. Today, minivans are jokingly – and unfairly – derided for being “soccer moms” vehicles. But there’s no denying the extra space is useful for busy families.While small vans were no revolutionary development in the ‘80s – ever see those old-school Volkswagen minibuses? – plans for vans aimed at families were floated at Ford and Chrysler. After Iacocca joined Chrysler, he pushed the wilting automaker’s Plymouth Voyager and Dodge Caravan to market, recognizing their potential. And now everyone gets to soccer practice with their stuff easily packed away.

The lesson here? Big ideas might fail – but when they work, they can change an industry. That holds true in communications, just as it does in the auto industry. Don’t be afraid to dream, take risks and adopt the next big thing when you see it. Iacocca, for all his flaws, wasn’t – and he became the world’s most famous car salesman.

15 Jul 16:15

9 Things Terribly Wrong With Sales Today: We’re Not Problem Centric

by Keenan

Sales is suffering from 9 brutal ills:

  1. The Bro Culture
  2. Lack of Coaching
  3. Too Product-Centric and Not Problem Centric
  • Not enough salespeople understand the game/rules of sales
  • Too much reliance on selling tools.
  • Not enough training in the industry/space
  • Too much activity management
  • Little respect for prospects and buyers time
  • Not enough humility

 

In post three, I’m tackling how the culture of sales is broken. In many ways, I argue it’s never been “right” or fixed.

Take a look at how you sell, look at the majority of your sales training, listen to your sales conversations, and it will become somewhat visible to you by the end of this post. Selling today and for the majority of the history of sales has been product-centric. In other words, the sales process, our sales conversations, our sales engagement has been focused on the product and what the product can do. Think about it for a second, what do we say when we’re asked to do our elevator pitch? Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. We spend 30 seconds talking about the product, it’s features and what it helps people do. It usually starts with; We help people . . . blah, blah, blah. We’re obsessed with our product (as we should be). And because of this, we jump on any chance we can to talk about it. You don’t believe me? Look at your cold email.  Look at your website. Look at your marketing materials. Listen to your sales calls, they are almost always focused on the product; it’s features and benefits, your company, and what some claim of your products greatness. I recently read some sales advice that suggested that because we know our product or service isn’t perfect, we should offer to share upfront where the competition is better by asking the following question:

“Would it be helpful if I started with where they are better than us?”  

This is the ideal example of product-centric selling. It forces the rep to compete on features and functions,  not on unique, customer-centric problem resolution. You can’t possibly tell a buyer where your competition is better than you if you don’t know what problems they are facing, and what outcomes they are looking to achieve. You see, your product is the solution to a problem or set of problems, and depending on what challenges your prospecting is facing, your product may be better than the competitions. In other situations or environments, your competitions maybe better. Therefore, it’s impossible in product-centric selling to claim that one product, service, or offering is better than another without understanding the problem. It’s time we problem-centric sell. Problem-centric selling is the concept where the problem drives the discussion, not the product. It’s accepting the notion that people don’t want products or services, they don’t want your widget, they want what your widget can deliver. They want the output. They want to change from a negative environment today, to a more positive one tomorrow. Problem-centric selling puts the problem at the center of the table. It shifts the conversation from the seller and their products and services to the buyer and their problems and issues. It focuses the selling effort on the buyers business, the challenges they are having, the root cause of those challenges, the impact the challenges are having on the organization, and more. Problem-centric selling recognizes that every buyer’s problems manifest themselves differently, that no two organizations can ever have the same problem and therefore doing the work to understand each of your buyer’s unique problems and the impacts they cause to the organization is the most critical element of the sale. Even more significant than whatever product or service you’re selling.

Switching from a product-centric seller to a problem-centric seller is difficult. It starts with changing how you engage with buyers and where you focus your energy, time, and thought processes. The graphic below highlights the differences between product-centric sellers and problem-centric sellers where and how they operate differently.

Product-centric selling is self-absorbed and puts you, your company, and your product at the center of the sale. Problem-centric selling puts the buyer, their challenges, their problems, and their desired outcomes at the center of the sale and isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?

It’s time we change the way we sell. It’s time we stop focusing on us, and our products and our goals and start focusing on our buyers. It’s time we change the conversation to look more like problem-centric salespeople than to product-centric salespeople.

Remember, it’s not about us, it’s about them. Let’s start acting that way.

The post 9 Things Terribly Wrong With Sales Today: We’re Not Problem Centric appeared first on A Sales Guy.

15 Jul 16:13

This Week’s Big Deal: Engaging Buyers Earlier in Their Journeys

by Alex Rynne
This Week’s Big Deal: Engaging Buyers Earlier in Their Journeys

The new conventional wisdom tells us buyers don’t want to engage with B2B salespeople until late in their purchase journeys. Committees are now more self-driven than ever in their research, which ostensibly means they prefer not to hear from reps until they’re almost ready to make a decision.

However, new research contradicts this school of thought, illuminating real opportunity for sales to make a pivotal impact in the early stages of consideration. Understandably, these insights are generating a lot of buzz in the modern selling community. Let’s unpack the data and see how you might use it to your advantage.

Buyers Are Engaging Sellers Earlier in the Process

According to the 2019 B2B Buyers Survey from Demand Gen Report, we’re witnessing a changing of the tides. Here are a few key developments uncovered in the study, which surveyed more than 250 senior-level B2B executives:

  • 42% said they engaged a rep from the vendor they ultimately selected within the first month of researching (up from 33% in 2018)

  • 33% said they accepted outreach from vendors for calls and demos in the first month (up from 23% in 2018)

  • 25% said they sought RFPs, competitive bids, and/or pricing info from vendors in the first month (up from 20% in 2018)

This is sweet music to the ears of sales teams everywhere. Not only do these stats suggest we can assert our presence in the first few weeks of the buyer journey, but also that we might be able to accelerate sales cycles, which can be notoriously lengthy and drawn-out (especially for large enterprise organizations).

On that note, I was also intrigued by a recent report from Aberdeen, Why Do B2B Buyers Struggle? The Answer is in the Data. This survey of nearly 350 B2B buyers revealed similar findings to those above, with a surprising 73% of respondents saying they reach out to vendors early in the process:

However, the study by Aberdeen also found 53% of buyers saying they halt or postpone decisions at least half the time. Why? Respondents point to a lack of differentiation, or an absence of suitable solutions:

How can we, as sellers, help decision makers overcome these hold-ups and stave off the plague of inertia? Below, we’ll sample guidance from some of the web’s top trending sales content.

Key Opportunities to Impact the Buyer Journey

It goes without saying that engaging and swaying buyers early provides a critical competitive advantage. These four techniques can help you do just that.  

Listen and Learn (Don’t Push)

Just because buyers are open to conversations with sellers early on doesn’t mean they want a barrage of salesy promotion. It’s important to keep in mind that at this point, prospects are still trying to get their arms around the decision at hand, and they value assistance with this above all.

In her interview for our Insight Track series, published last week, sales expert Nancy Nardin argues that listening and asking good questions are the two most overlooked tactics for today’s pros. 

“Salespeople often listen just long enough to start talking,” Nancy says. “They’re not really listening or responding to what the buyer says. In that vein, they often ask a question and use the answer as a jumping off point to pitch. Step back and really hear your prospects. Comment on their answers and ask another question.”

This ties back to the insight above about decisions stalling because the buyer didn’t see differentiation, or didn’t find the right fit. Oftentimes, this happens because the rep wasn’t attentive enough to truly understand the organization’s unique situation, and tailor the position of their solution accordingly. Listening and asking good questions are both crucial practices for making this connection.

Prioritize Your Prospecting

Sometimes, a prospect simply isn’t the right match for what you’re offering. Salespeople can waste a lot of time and resources trying to pursue these fruitless leads. So one vital step is to properly identify the opportunities that make sense, and focus your efforts there. 

In his recent post at Business 2 Community, Howard J. Sewell calls out lead scoring as an essential practice for expediting the sales cycle

“How well does your current lead scoring program identify prospects exhibiting signs of buyer intent?” he asks. “Are you capturing Web behavior such as visits to high-value pages? Are you integrating third-party intent data? A highly tuned lead scoring program will help ensure that motivated buyers receive the appropriate attention and don’t fall through the proverbial cracks.”

Leveraging quality data and pursuing the highest-value prospects will help you ensure those early engagements are productive for both sides. Sewell also adds that prioritizing high-intent sales alerts can help teams become more efficient.

Be Uber-Responsive

The title for this section is a bit of a play on words. In the age of Uber and on-demand everything, people want — nay, expect — instant service on their terms. Candace Lun Plotkin of McKinsey & Company recently published an article about B2B customers’ desire for rapid response times on LinkedIn.

“Customers want speed right through their buying journey. They may deliberate over their choices, but as soon as they interact with a supplier they want answers fast,” she writes.

Obviously no human being is going to be available 24/7 at the whim of curious buyers, but it’s worth thinking about ways your sales team can optimize for these shifting preferences. As Lun Plotkin notes, digital tools like web chat applications are gaining popularity for this purpose.

Step Up Your Sales Content

Delivering the right content to match a buyer’s mindset is of the utmost importance. Demographica CEO Warren Moss recently shared an insightful first-hand story of his own journey to find a particular service, and the obstacles he encountered in his search.

The entire piece is a worthwhile read for B2B salespeople and their marketing counterparts, but I was especially struck by his recounting of an instance where a company rep shared a brochure and seemed more concerned with its design than its actual content.

“This is something we come across time and again in the B2B space, where businesses don’t put enough strategic thought into sales collateral, from brochures to folders and articles to explainer videos,” Moss explains. “[The rep’s] primary concern was that his brochure was going to be made to look ‘better’, whereas it actually should have been strategically redesigned to not only help me make a decision — but to swing the decision his way.”

It’s worth noting that Moss was engaging these companies deeper into his journey, which is why he felt more persuasive content was warranted. For those engagements taking place earlier in the process, buyers tend to value more general, objective information that helps them fully understand their options. Work with marketing to ensure you have content aligning with each stage of the journey.

Early Bird Gets the Worm

In the final example, Moss says that he “completed over 80% of the purchase journey before [he] spoke to a human representative of the company.” Naturally, there are still plenty of decision makers who want to handle the bulk of research on their own before welcoming outreach. But the aforementioned research makes it clear that an increasing number of buyers are willing — if not eager — to consult with reps early on. Capitalizing on these opportunities is a big deal.  

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15 Jul 16:13

The 5 Things Salespeople Need to Build Their Personal Brand

by kniemisto

When I launched into the wonderful and terrible experience of planning my wedding, I had one budget item I would not budge on: florals. While I appreciate their beauty, the idea that I was supposed to allocate 20% (TWENTY. PERCENT.) of my budget to something that was completely perishable was baffling to me. I scoffed at the recommended percentage and proudly proclaimed to my wedding investors (aka my parents) that we would dedicate no more than 10% maximum. Get fake flowers. Pick them from the gardens at the venue, I don’t care.

When all was said and done, I ended up devoting 25% of my budget to my florist. Why? It wasn’t because I’m not good with a spreadsheet. It’s not because the floral market here in St. Louis is monopolized. It’s because I love my florals vendor. I trust her completely. If she told me to, I would make an interactive presentation, win over my board (again, my parents), and make the case for an expanded budget.

Here’s what I learned from my incredible vendor—and my own purchasing behavior: You are much more likely to justify the cost when you feel valued by the person you’re buying from and when you trust his or her credibility.

While your marketing team is hard at work crafting your company brand, you should take the opportunity to humanize the sales experience by building out your own brand. Give the people what they want: a chance to buy from a person they like.

Here’s the Secret Sauce for Your Personal Brand

1. Host a Webinar

While your technical wherewithal in your industry may vary (looking at you, medical and IT sales reps—it gets complex!), your understanding of your customer should be strong. Work with your marketing team to identify the topics that make sense for you to cover. Could you host a sales-based webinar on “How to pitch expensive solutions to your executive board”? Is there an aspect of your product or service that you’re particularly passionate about? These could all be useful presentations for both you and your company to provide to your audience.

By playing an active role in webinars, you show the buyer that your company trusts you to speak at an industry level and to represent it well. The more visible you become as a consistent webinar host, the more prospective buyers begin to associate your name with your company—which could have endless benefits, ranging from staying top of mind with prospects to building your credibility.

2. Email Communication

All salespeople worth their weight in commission should know how to send a compelling email. But if you could use a refresher, here are a few quick tips:

Make it content-driven. If you just hosted a webinar, link to it and explain why you think it could be useful with regard to a specific problem your lead is trying to solve for.

Make it personal. Personalization is 2019’s sales word of the year. Use “you” 3x more than you use “I” or refer to your own company. Find a relatable but not creepy thing to connect on with your prospect.

Make it brief. Not my strong suit personally, but it should be all salespeople’s mantra: If you can’t say it simply, you don’t understand it, and neither will your lead. You have but a brief, fleeting moment to connect with your prospect and make your case. Use words sparingly and wisely.

3. Bylined Content, Blogs, and Guest Posting

Contributing to publications that reach your buyer means tapping into wider audience reach, increased visibility for you and your company, and third-party validation. Likewise, having a presence on your company’s blog further validates your expertise and demonstrates your engagement with the overall initiatives of your organization.

Both blog content and externally published articles are SEO boosters. When your leads get happy fingers and go to the almighty Google, it will be to your benefit for them to see byline after byline of valuable content backing you up.

4. Speaking Engagements

How many times have you thought, “If I can just get in a room with my buyer, I know I can win them over.” All salespeople are pretty convinced they have magnetic personalities (because: true), and speaking engagements are a perfect opportunity to use that expertise and charm to build a face-to-face connection. Much like a webinar, a speaking engagement suggests that your company has faith in your ability to represent the organization well.

You also get a chance to showcase your passion for your offerings, field questions in real-time, and meet your audience. In fact, a speaking opportunity is a great touchpoint for reconnecting with any leads in the area. A quick email or LinkedIn message inviting them to the event could lead to later conversations or a chance to meet in person—or at the very least, spark a conversation around your potential partnership again.

5. Social presence

Social media is one of the easiest, least time-consuming ways to create a digital footprint. Stay active on platforms like LinkedIn, where you can repurpose your webinars, blog posts, and articles and begin to gain a following. Show your prospects that you have an impressive knowledge of industry problems and your own products or services.

A few ideas:

Start a LinkedIn group specific to your industry and regularly share trends, insights, and other content formats. Pose questions aimed at solving the challenges your prospects face and that your service is a solution for.

Weigh in on industry news. Tweet out interesting statistics relevant to your buyer and add colorful commentary. Start conversations that keep you active in your lead’s mind.

Building a personal brand isn’t about catering to your sales ego. It’s about creating meaningful, trustworthy connections with your prospective buyers that foster a long, healthy relationship with your company moving forward. Anything you create under your own name can point back to your company positively and allow a buyer to get comfortable with the sales process. Like me and my florist, you may find that your personality and helpfulness result in expanded budgets, loyal followers, and very happy customers.

The post The 5 Things Salespeople Need to Build Their Personal Brand appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

15 Jul 16:11

Recognize Your Customers: A Complete Guide on Customer Behavioral Cues and Building Customer Relationships

by Hemalatha Sekar

You decide to buy a phone. Do you go for the phone of your dreams even though it’s beyond your budget, or would you settle for a functional, but less-ostentatious one that fits into your budget? Do you wait for special offers so you can avail a discount, or get the device on credit?

These are the kind of behavioral indicators that decide the types of customers and what aspect of a product/service appeals to them.

To understand consumers better, psychologists conducted an extensive study on how people made financial decisions, and what factors influenced them. The likelihood of gains and losses, current wealth, and pattern in relation to risk contributed to their financial decisions. The common thread in all these indicators is the fact that humans dread the idea of losing something of value. Thus, framing choices in a way that gave them the context of losing a great offer worked the best. For instance, look at the example below:

Option 1:

  1. A) You get to take home $250 (or)
  2. B) You can take a bet to win $1000, where the probability of winning is 25%, and losing is 75%

Option 2:
C) You are going to lose $750 (or)
D) You can take a bet to win $1000 with a winning probability of 75%, and losing probability of 25%

Framing the exact outcome as a gain or a loss has very different outcomes in customer behavior. Behavioral psychology deals with such day-to-day influences that customers go through.

Factors that Affect How Customers React to Your Product

Behavioral cues go beyond persuading customers to buy your product with eye-catching phrases. Everything from where and how your prospect gets to know your brand to their first point-of-contact with your company decides the kind of relationship the customer is going to have with your brand.

We’ve put down the major factors that influence the customer-company relationship, and how to make the most of these scenarios.

It’s Complicated!

Studies have shown that customers don’t always quit on service providers who provide subpar service1. People who get locked in with such bad business relationships often have multiple reasons to do so. The reasons range from feeling like they owe it to the company, the long history they share, the cost of switching being high, to being unsure of alternatives.

It seems rational to stop doing business with a dissatisfied service provider whose negatives outweigh the positives. But as humans, we aren’t always rational when it comes to long-lasting relationships. The zero-price-effect is one such phenomenon, where people tend to systematically overvalue a product or service that was free or purchased at subsidized rates. Being on the receiving end of free services feels good, thus making it feel like one owes it to them to stay.

This, in turn, connects to the reciprocity theory, where customers feel guilty of moving to another service after availing of the offered subsidized rates/discounts, especially when they feel the favor was exclusive to them.

Similarly, an individual’s character plays a significant role in business relationships too. People who avoid confrontation try not to show dissatisfaction or anger when they don’t like a product/service. This also explains why certain consumers don’t switch even when they’re not particularly happy with a product/service, which is described as the customer “lockdown”.

How to identify leads that are in the “lockdown” –

  • They tend to focus more on the free products or perks they get, and not the quality of service they receive.
  • The business they are subscribed to is of a family or friend of theirs.
  • Emphasizes the long history they have with the business.

How to deal with a locked-down lead?

  • Give them options to dial-down their existing service and slowly migrate to yours, rather than a hard exit. Provide a program where you give your customers a reasonable migration time frame that eliminates downtime to their business.
  • Talk about the current and long term benefits in choosing your service.
  • Weigh in on the pros and cons of their existing relationship and how your product/service stacks up against it.
  • Show them what they need. Sometimes consumers suffer through certain services as there aren’t any alternatives. Uber disrupted the commercial transportation industry and showed consumers how they suffered to usher a cab every time. Uber highlighting this gap/pain point got them to a place where they are indispensable today.

Not All That’s New is Fancy

New offers can be exciting, but they might not beat the perks of comfort and familiarity that come with it. Customers tend to stick to proven techniques that give them minimal profit and avoid bad outcomes. They don’t want to risk it all to achieve better results. A typical excuse given in such risk-averse circumstances is that “it is not right for us at the moment.”

When their risk aversion tendencies kick in, every customer is going to see a switch as a potential risk. Here are some best practices to make your potential customers see the value in your product/service.

– Pick a reassuring tone when you converse with your customers. Terms like safe, sure, guaranteed, tested, and risk-free give a positive tone to your service.

– Low pricing makes deals attractive. Offer a low price or a discount as a token of welcome to get more people interested in trying/using a product/service.

– Tell a story. Statistics and facts state the reality and are surely necessary, but humans connect better with stories. Customer success stories in the form of testimonials and case studies are a great way to tell your customers why you would suit them the best.

– Money-back deals give a sense of assurance to customers. Advertise risk-free cancellations and cashbacks on cancelations like the example below.

It’s All in the Mindset

Now, let’s consider you have convinced your lead to buy your product. Your customer would then get ready to actively take action and move towards their goal. This is known as the predecisional action mindset (PDM). The predecisional action mindset decides how a person would respond to new ideas and execute it. The PDM has two phases – deliberative and implemental. Customers who stay in the deliberative phase are more open to new ideas while customers who move to the implemental phase will want to get things done their way. Some customers can also keep going back and forth.

How to identify customer mindset.

– Social skills and manners speak a lot about a person. When a customer receives a message from you, do they call you immediately or message you? Such indicators reflect how the customers would prefer to be contacted.

– Listening to the language they use will help in understanding the level of urgency of their concern and in what priority you must address it.

Best practices to nurture customers –

  • When customers are able to be in the deliberative mindset for long, they expect intense brainstorming sessions. Be ready with fully-prepared plans for them.
  • Be open to suggestions from people who enter the implemental mindset. Make them feel that their voices are heard.
  • When the customer keeps going back and forth between deliberative and implemental mindset, give them time. Try getting weigh-ins from other seniors in the organization.

Put it to the Test

Mapping your customers’ personality traits and dealing with them accordingly makes things easy for both sides. It helps customer service agents identify the underlying emotions of customers and assist them proactively. There are two common personality tests that are used to understand customer personalities, how they would respond in different situations, and how to face them.

Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) –

MBTI is the most commonly used personality indicator used in professional circles to build teams, co-work, and get a clear image of the work environment. This test helps customer service agents identify the behavioral characteristics of people in their workspace and offer their services to them accordingly.

The test in itself is divided into four broad categories, which further branches into two each, with different pairings, forming sixteen different sets of personalities in total. Out of this, psychological attitude forms the most distinct characteristic. Here’s a brief breakdown of it.

Customer Behavior

The Dominance, Inducement, Steadiness, or Compliance (DISC) Model –

The DISC is a similar personality analysis test that is used to determine the types of customers and how to make your service enticing to them. The test consists of four major categories under which a person can be analyzed. Everyone is a combination of the said traits at varying degrees. By understanding the cues of your leads, you will be able to understand them better, connect with them at a better pace, and deliver both what they would like best and what they need.

– The dominant trait determines how people look at challenges/obstacles. People with dominant tendencies withstand a hostile environment, are goal-oriented, have strong opinions, and like to have a say in the final call.

– The influential trait has an impact on their surroundings with their thoughts and ideas. These people are confident, inspiring, and are open to ideas.

– The stability trait indicates how a person responds to the ambience. These people are good listeners, calm, and encouraging.

– The conformity trait is an indicator of how people reply to a situation. People with strong conformity trait lean more on knowledge and facts to make a decision.

How to make use of personality traits in customer service –

– Make use of your helpdesk to keep track of customer personalities so you can serve them better. Adding little notes on their traits makes future conversations with them a piece of cake.

– Personality traits provide cues on customer conduct. This helps agents to handle irritable customers in a professional manner.

– Using personality tests to determine customer characteristics also promotes healthier internal communication within your company.

– Educating your agents on how to handle respective customer personalities promotes self-awareness, social skills, and self-regulation among your agents.

Cognitive Biases

Cognitive biases are those presumptions that customers make when they are influenced by factors they do not realize.

There are multiple ways cognitive bias comes into play in customer relationships.

  • People tend to believe information that sides with their preconceived notions. In such cases, customers are prone to seek information to prove that their existing service or business providers are better for them.
  • People generally believe that the outcome of their decision is reasonable and the best out of all options. While trying to persuade a new customer to change to a new plan that has a better result projection, they might think the jump would be a risk, given that a reasonable profit is lesser.
  • A customer can process data that sides your service differently from how you expect them to. This difference would root from what they believe is the best, rather than what has been stated.

Best practices –

  • Explain how your solution would work best with their existing work model, operations, and infrastructure.
  • Provide case studies, success stories, and statistics to explain why you would be a better fit for their business.
  • Be open to criticism to show that you do not hold cognitive bias yourself.
  • Customer cognitive biases are not always a bad thing. You can use their biases to your benefit. When you get an idea about customer preferences, modify your pitch into a version that excites their cause.
  • The appearance holds a reasonable amount of appeal. Creating a brand and a friendly user experience for your service encourages people to stay loyal to your service, and also makes them your advocates. This is known as the bandwagon effect.

Apple is one such brand that has successfully made use of the bandwagon effect. Anything they launch is a great success, and they have one of the most loyal global customer bases even when there are multiple competitors in the market.

Here’s an amusing but poignant take on how Apple wound brand themselves if they sold water.

Loyalty Programs

We all love being on the receiving end of freebies. We have also discussed how offers and discounts can make customers loyal to your brand. But when your acknowledgment technique goes wrong, it has more chances to backfire and take you to a negative place in your customer’s eyes than when you did not carry out any sort of customer gratification. People find more satisfaction in a thank you note than in monetary appreciation. This is known as the trivialization effect.

  • Opt for nonfinancial options of gratification in the initial stages of the customer relationship.
  • Gratification can also be a great way to do value-add marketing. Take Mykitco for example. This website that sells make-up products and accessories also has a section for tutorials by the owner of the brand – James Molloy, a world-renowned makeup artist. When customers buy products from him, they can also make use of his tutorials free of cost. This intertwined gratification/ knowledge base approach has grown his customer base into a community, where people can rent studio space, learn makeup, and communicate with other students in the community.

  • Sustainability of your acknowledgment program plays a vital role in customer satisfaction. Customers feel a higher level of dissatisfaction when the acknowledgment incentive is stopped, than the gratification they felt while receiving it.

Customers constantly compare your gratification not just with your competitors, but with gratification they’ve received across all their business transactions. For example, businesses like hairdressers and home maintenance have higher levels of positive feedback while cell phone service providers and banks had a negative outlook. A simple way to overcome this bias is by thanking your customers with a heartfelt personalized note and frame it in a way that their actions are acknowledged.

Some tips to build successful loyalty programs:

– Adopt an omnichannel customer support system. There’s no better way to show that you care for your customers’ well-being than to be available to them on their preferred channel of communication.

– Building customer relationships that doesn’t stop at just purchasing and adds value to your target audience’s lifestyle will increase customer loyalty. For example, Redbull sponsors extreme sports events and shows that have a strong viewership of its customer base.

– Create idea/knowledge forums where your customers could connect with each other and build a community. Studies 2show that customers who are emotionally connected to a brand have a lifetime value that’s four times more than an average customer.

Final Thoughts

Building a good rapport with your customers is no simple job. There are so many factors that influence how your customers view your service. Understanding customer behavioral factors and acting according to them can help businesses create long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships.

Understanding customer behavior through psychology can act as the final push toward building lasting relationships. Saying “customers like you prefer” instead of “our plan” makes all the difference in customer support.


Source:
1- https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2753/MTP1069-6679200403
2 – https://www.motista.com/resource/leveraging-value-emotional-connection-retailers