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12 Oct 21:30

Mark Hunter on How to Target and Win High Profit Prospects – Episode #71

Mark Hunter is one of those guys you never forget once you’ve heard him speak. That’s because he’s got such penetrating insight and such unreserved passion behind his opinions. This episode commemorates the release of Mark’s newest book, “High Ticket Prospecting.” Anthony asks Mark a lot of questions about the content of the book including why he felt the book was needed in the first place. In characteristic style Mark’s going to give it to you straight on this one, so be sure you take the time to listen. Find your ideal client by starting with the outcomes you can provide. One of the most important things Mark Hunter teaches is that in order to find the ideal prospect you have to first know who your ideal client is. But you won’t be able to identify them unless you start with the outcomes that you uniquely provide. On this episode, Mark Hunter chats with Anthony about how that process works and gives you some steps to follow to build that ideal client profile and get your prospecting in high gear as a result. You’ve got to communicate with people using the method they appreciate most. Prospecting is about communication and Mark Hunter is no stranger to picking up the phone to make that connection. But he’s also aware that not everyone gravitates toward or appreciates the telephone. So as a salesperson you’ve got to pivot in the way you make contact with people, learning how to connect with them using the means they prefer, whether that’s email, phone, or something altogether different. Why have salespeople shifted to email over the telephone? Mark Hunter believes that most sales professionals have shifted to email because it makes the sting of rejection easier to handle. It’s also a way that they are able to show their managers that they are making contacts consistently - but just how effective ARE those contacts anyway? On this episode, Mark chats with Anthony about the right and wrong way to do email prospecting. He even gives you a brief example of what his prospecting emails are like and how he uses them. The greatest lesson Mark Hunter has learned in life is to get back up. The sales arena is not a place for the faint of heart or timid. Rejection is real. Closed doors happen often. Mark Hunter has learned that one of the most important skills for any human being, but especially a sales professional is the ability to get up when they are knocked down. Discouragement cannot be allowed to win. Pessimism must be crushed. On this episode, Mark shares why he’s come to believe that so strongly and how it has served him in life and sales. Outline of this great episode [0:43] Anthony’s introduction of Mark Hunter. [2:00] The elephant in the room about Mark’s new book. [3:36] Why Mark decided he needed to write a second book about prospecting. [5:04] How Mark plans to target high profit customers. [9:19] Why have sales people shifted to email? [11:48] What salespeople have to do to maximize their time for prospecting. [14:25] The difference between a prospect and a suspect and why it’s important to qualify leads immediately. [17:05] Why sales managers are responsible for accuracy in the prospecting pipeline. [18:19] Should salespeople still be using the telephone? What about leaving voicemail? [24:53] How email can be used effectively to prospect. [32:24] The person who’s had the biggest influence on Mark’s thinking. [34:18] The biggest lesson Mark has learned in life. [38:26] Mark’s new certification from the National Speaker’s Association. [39:37] How you can get Mark’s new book. Resources & Links mentioned in this episode www.Preorder.theonlysalesguide.com [asa]0814437761[/asa] The theme song “Into the Arena” is written and produced by Chris Sernel. You can find it on Soundcloud Connect with Anthony Website: www.TheSalesBlog.com Youtube: www.Youtube.com/Iannarino Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iannarino Twitter: https://twitter.
23 Aug 16:10

Canada ‘missed the boat’ on economic policies to mitigate climate change: doctor

by CB Staff

VANCOUVER – Canada “has missed the boat” when it comes to developing renewable energy resources that would mitigate the impact of global warming and its impact on human health, a leading medical expert says.

Dr. James Orbinski, a professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, told a meeting of the Canadian Medical Association that Canada still has time to catch up with other countries or it will be left behind.

California has the fastest-growing economy in the United States despite putting a price on carbon emissions, but Canada has failed to recognize that this is not a “false choice” with a negative economic impact, Orbinski said Monday.

“For Canada, we have been stuck in this paradox,” he said. “We are lagging behind economically in terms of the kind of advances that other nations like Germany, Spain, the nations of continental Europe, the U.K., China even, the kind of policies that they’re engaging in terms of dealing with the effects of climate change.”

The development of alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind power, has fuelled a knowledge- and technology-based economy in California, which has experienced a fifth year of drought driven by climate change, Orbinski said Monday.

People in developing regions of the world suffer the most from the effects of climate change, he said.

In 2011, 13 million east Africans were on food assistance because of drought, he said.

“This is the consequence of climate change. It is profound. And it is utterly unacceptable.”

Orbinksi, who co-founded the medical and research organization Dignitas International to provide AIDS treatment in the sub-Saharan African country of Malawi, said 270,000 people are receiving treatment for the disease, but that’s not their worst problem.

“It is drought,” he said, adding 29 million people in southern Africa are on food assistance.

Orbinski, who headed Doctors Without Borders when it won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1999, said wildfires, hurricanes and floods, as a result of rising sea levels, are just some of the effects of climate change.

The rate of temperature increases in Canada is two times higher than the worldwide average, with greater hikes in the northern part of the country, he said.

“What is very clear is that climate change is like no other threat that the human species has ever faced in its history,” he said. “It is the contemporary issue of the 21st century.”

Orbinski urged doctors to get involved locally in climate-change initiatives, adding that could affect policy change.

Dr. Cindy Forbes, outgoing president of the Canadian Medical Association, said discussions will be held by the organization’s board as physicians aim to make a difference in their own communities when it comes to climate change initiatives.

“We’ve identified it as a major issue,” she said in an interview. “We will be looking at what we can do at the federal (government) level but at this point we have not made any decisions or determinations as to what our next steps will be.”

The federal government, along with other provinces, set new goals following the Paris Agreement last December to reduce carbon emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Last week, British Columbia decided against increasing its carbon tax. Premier Christy Clark called on other provinces to match B.C.’s carbon tax and said the government would re-evaluate the levy when other jurisdictions have similar taxes in place.

— Follow CamilleBains1 on Twitter.

The post Canada ‘missed the boat’ on economic policies to mitigate climate change: doctor appeared first on Canadian Business - Your Source For Business News.

23 Aug 16:02

PPC Cum Laude: 3 Smart Strategies for Higher Education Marketing

by Allen Finn

If you’ve read my posts in the past, you’ll know I came to paid search from the world of advanced degrees and elbow patches. While the academia wasn’t quite for me, I’ve managed a number of accounts where I had to use paid search and social ads to find others who are interested in pursuing higher education in its many forms—from locally-targeted advanced degrees to worldwide MOOCs.

PPC Strategies for Higher Ed

Higher education, AKA higher ed, accounts can be tricky for account managers because of two key factors:

  1. Budgetary constraints
  2. The number of touches it takes to garner a conversion

Higher education keywords are expensive. When we did a study of the most expensive keywords in Bing last year, “MBA” related keywords were in the top 10, coming in at over $60 per click!

PPC Higher Ed CPC

This would be a source of frustration for a company with a huge budget, but it’s especially bothersome when budgets are tight. With higher ed clients, paid search and social are often lumped in with all-encompassing marketing budgets (shared with email and radio spots and ephemera and you get the picture), which means your financial resources are limited.

Protip: To make the most of your budget, try to save as much cheddar as possible for the busy times of the year—typically the fall and late winter/early spring for programs without rolling admissions—and run a barebones operation in the summer (read: college admissions doldrums).

A conversion in a higher ed account isn’t the same as buying a reclaimed wood end table or hitting up a plumber to repair your rusted water pipe. It’s a multi-touch affair that requires a well thought out lead nurturing funnel.

Marketing Funnel Higher Education

Sometimes paid search is the first step in that funnel. Others it’ll be the last thing someone does before deciding to complete an application. My point here is this: know when prospects are clicking your ads and cater your value proposition and CTA accordingly.

Who am I kidding? You already know this stuff. You’re here for the in-depth hacks, so advanced tactics ye shall receive. Here are three ways you can increase lead volume in your higher ed PPC accounts.

1. Remarketing: The Freshman English of Higher Ed. PPC

Remarketing is mandatory for every higher education paid search account in existence. Scratch that: it should be a requirement for all paid search accounts. Period.

Facebook remarketing

Unless you’re exclusively bidding on branded keywords (or your name carries mad clout), it’s likely that the prospects who see your ads won’t be overly familiar with your program. Great ad copy can convince them to click your ad instead of a competitor’s, but it won’t necessarily lead to a conversion, no matter how tantalizing your landing page is. Today, at least.

Enter remarketing.

By remarketing to the people who show enough interest to visit your site, you begin the nurturing process. If every time somebody’s trying to research your competitors’ grad programs or buy toilet paper in bulk they see a compelling ad for your own program (perhaps you’re offering some fantastic bit of information, reduced application fees, etc. in exchange for an email address), eventually they’re going to convert.

When these hard-earned prospects become exceptional students who go on to start the next Uber, write this generation’s great American novel, or cure some blood disease, you’ll be stoked you cyber-stalked them with inescapable banner creative.

And don’t forget about Facebook…

Pair search remarketing with its paid social parallel, Facebook remarketing, for maximal effectiveness. The social platform allows you to leverage lead ads to acquire new customers without even sending them to a landing page. This is especially useful if you’ve got time or the staff resources to contact prospects personally.

FB Remarketing for Higher Ed

Two morsels of sage remarketing advice (you’re welcome):

  1. Don’t be afraid to block IP addresses if your remarketing campaigns begin to pull in spam.
  2. Put your remarketing tag on the entire website, not just PPC landing pages.

I took over an underperforming higher education account at the beginning of last winter. They offered a really cool graduate program that blended engineering and entrepreneurship. Unfortunately, this meant bidding on engineering keywords (pawn-your-furniture expensive) and business keywords (start-selling-your-organs expensive).

By placing the remarketing tag across the whole site (not just on the paid search landing pages), we increased conversion volume from an average of 12 per month to more than 30… per week.

After checking out the back end to take the temperature of the leads from a quality perspective, we discovered that we were pulling in some junk with our banner ads; people or bots were entering random strings of letters. Thankfully, we managed to avoid adding a Captcha to the remarketing landing pages (more work for a potential prospect = decreased likelihood of “potential”) by diligently blocking recurring IP addresses.

2. Give Each Discipline Its Own Dedicated Campaign

“Granular” is an overused word in paid search. Do you know why? Because it neatly conveys exactly how most accounts should be structured.

You must distil the specific facets of your program, or all of your school’s offerings, into precise campaigns, ad groups, and keywords. This goes back to the idea of mitigating cost I touched on in the remarketing tip, but it also makes non-budget-related account optimization a heck of a lot easier, too.

Some disciplines in your program won’t garner nearly as many impressions as others. And that’s totally okay. These low-impression terms could end up being your top performers when it comes to conversion rate and CPA. If you’d lumped them in with costly keywords from a different discipline, it’s likely they’d have been paused or deleted for being lame ducks.

Periodic Table Higher Ed

Per WordStream SEM Manager Jackie Jordan, “It’s crazy how much CPCs can fluctuate based on the area of study (business in the highest by far), so keeping them separate makes it easier to control spend.”

For example, you wouldn’t want to group all of your hard science programs under a single campaign in which ad groups are created around individual disciplines. Instead, everything from physics to biochemistry should be given its own campaign.

From here, you’ll want to follow a similar philosophy with ad groups. Inquiry-based keywords (scan your search queries for question words: who, what, where, when, why, and how) should not be intermingled with branded terms. Top performers and long-tail keywords should be broken into their own ad groups. Very broad research terms like “+online +mba +program” should be watched like a hawk. If these terms are disproportionately expensive you may even want to give them their own campaign (or skip them altogether if they’re killing your budget).

This will give you greater insight into which terms are working for you and which should be added to the scrapheap (to be repurposed at a later date), and let you tailor ad copy to speak to exactly what your prospects are searching for. Instead of just being in the same ballpark, you’re spilling ketchup on your lead’s raw denim and buying them “I’m sorry” Miller Lights.

The name of the game here is maximizing control over your budget. Will this frontload the work needed to get things off the ground? Absolutely. Is this a pain? Of course. But in the long run, it’ll save you money and make daily and weekly optimization a cinch.

3. Do Display – The Smart Way

Thus far I’ve touched on remarketing (advertising to those who’ve already been to your site) and search campaigns with a laser-precise organization. Both of these techniques focus your efforts (and budget) on pretty well vetted potential prospects. Provided you’re staying on top of your negative keywords and implementing new creative, landing page tests, and bid adjustments frequently, you should start seeing an uptick in lead volume.

Why you might ask, are we pivoting towards the Display Network, the AdWords equivalent of drift net fishing?

Display Network Search

Because it represents cost-effective opportunity.

While Display is a way to serve ads to unwieldy, disinterested audiences, there are two targeting methods that’ll let you leverage the power of the Display Network in your favor: Gmail ads and In-Market Audiences.

Gmail Ads

Gmail Ads (formerly known as “Gmail Sponsored Promotions”) are the paid ads that surface in Gmail inboxes across the globe. They’re a relatively recent addition to the Display repertoire and they’re fantastic for higher education marketing.

Gmail Ads for Higher Education

GSP ads live in the promotions tab.

A note: You’re charged when a prospect opens the email, not when they navigate to your site. This means that a killer teaser—the subject line that will entice somebody to open the ad—isn’t enough: you also need compelling creative inside the ad.

PPC Higher Ed Display

Not-so-great teasers: can you tell I just moved?

To avoid casting an obscenely wide (and expensive) net, use domain targeting.

According to Big G:

“Domains can be used to target (or exclude) users who’ve received emails from specific companies. Domains should be entered as keywords using the format example.com or site.example.com (not example.com/site). The system will scan the body and subject of the last few hundred non-spam emails, including deleted and archived messages.”

This means you can use domain targeting to:

  • Target your own domain: By targeting people who are already receiving your emails with paid ads, you give yourself the opportunity to control more real estate within their inbox. Think of this the perfect complement to your existing email funnel.
  • Target competitors’ domains: Show those considering other schools that your program offers a world-class education and represents a better ROI. This’ll be significantly cheaper than bidding on competitors’ keywords and you get the opportunity to wow prospects with a great offer conveyed through eye-popping creative.

Avoid PPC Errors in Higher Ed

Once you’ve built out separate ad groups (you didn’t think you’d be lumping them together, did you?) dig up the market research you or your coworkers conducted when the programs you’re advertising were conceived. Who is your ideal student? More importantly: which websites do they love?

Use this list of sites to create a “Prospect Profile” ad group. If you’re an online MBA program, for example, you’ll want to include sites like Forbes and ETrade. An online “become a full stack developer” course should target sites like Stack Overflow and Code Academy. Be sure to make use of the exclusions, too: like negative keywords, they’re a great way to trim wasteful spending and hone in on your ideal target audience.

Display In-Market

Finally, we have Display In-Market. We’ll turn to Google again to explain exactly what In-Market audiences are:

“Select from these audiences to find customers who are in the market, which means that they are researching products and are actively considering buying a service or product like those you offer. In-market audiences are available to advertisers in all AdWords languages.

These audiences are designed for advertisers focused on getting conversions from customers most likely to make a purchase. In-market audiences can help drive remarketing performance and reach consumers close to completing a purchase.”

Essentially, Display In-Market allows advertisers to find more qualified traffic to serve creative to.

In the context of higher ed marketing, this means Google will assist you in finding prospects whose browsing history indicated that they are “likely” to convert. They may have visited your website or the sites of your competitors. Perhaps they’ve been researching on forums and third party platforms. My point is this: it’s a targeted subset of the population and the clicks aren’t costly compared to what you’re probably paying in standard search campaigns.

In-Market Audiences for Higher Ed

Will In-Market be your top-performing channel? Probably not. But it represents value. It gives you another avenue through which to prospect. And the best part? Your competitors probably aren’t using it.

***

There you have it, folks. Three ways you can squeeze every ounce of performance out of your higher ed account. Whether through remarketing, targeted search campaigns, or the Display Network, or all three, these strategies are sure to increase conversions and keep your budget in check.

I’ll leave you with one final kernel of wisdom: when in doubt, offer a catalog.

23 Aug 16:00

High-speed Internet price war spreads to Western Canada as Shaw, Telus duke it out

by Emily Jackson

The broadband price war is finally heating up in Western Canada.

Telus Corp. responded last week to Shaw Communications Inc.’s incredibly good deal for ultra high-speed Internet with a killer promotion of its own.

Telus, the country’s third largest telecommunications company, is offering a two-year contract for fibre Internet with upload and download speeds of 150 megabits per second and a data cap of 1 terabyte (1,000 gigabytes) for $47 per month for the first three months and $85 per month after. It closely matches Shaw’s offering for 150 Mbps speeds with 1 TB of data for $49.90 per month for the first year and $79.90 for the second year.

The move comes a month after Shaw launched its deal and follows a few months of heavy promotional intensity in Ontario, where BCE Inc. and Rogers Communications Inc. are duking it out for wireline customers that increasingly demand faster speeds and larger data caps to accommodate their increased use of video streaming services such as Netflix Inc.

But one analyst is questioning whether the steep discounts will ultimately hurt the bottom line for both companies vying for customers in the west.

“Neither player benefits in a price battle, and we view this development as a net negative for both players if the promotions spiral into a full-on price war,” Barclays analyst Phillip Huang wrote in a note to clients Monday.

Both the Telus and Shaw plans offer about six times the speed and exceptionally more data than major competitors’ plans available for the same price in Ontario.

While Shaw has a “significant” marketing advantage because it can offer fast speeds to a broader footprint with its existing infrastructure, Huang wrote that Telus has “the upper hand with this broadband battle.”

Telus’s strong wireless business can help it better finance a prolonged price battle and its “nascent” broadband market share is less susceptible to impact when the prices go back up, Huang added. It also doesn’t have to worry as much about cord cutters who give up television and opt solely for Internet in light of the better deal.

Investors are paying close attention to how quickly incumbent telephone companies Telus and Bell can roll out fibre-to-the-home service that rivals speeds provided by traditional cable companies Shaw and Rogers.

In Ontario, the competition between telcos and cablecos has resulted in longer periods of promotional pricing, often 24 months, for both bundled and stand-alone services, RBC Capital Markets analyst Drew McReynolds noted last week. It’s notable that companies are offering deals on just Internet — Bell and Rogers are charging under $70 per month for 50 Mbps and 100 Mbps plans respectively – instead of only offering discounts to customers that buy multiple services.

23 Aug 15:58

The Louder You Yell, the Less Your Customers Listen

The Louder You Yell, the Less Your Customers Listen

By Steve Shaheen

 

While walking your dog down the street, you come upon a gorgeous patch of grass. Your pup sees it, too, and rushes toward it — and then you see the sign: “Please keep off grass.”

You pause and think. Why can’t dogs enjoy this grass? Who do these people think they are to restrict the pleasures of my best friend?

But what if the sign said, “This area has been treated with pesticide — please keep pets off grass”? Would you feel the same sense of frustration, the same indignant temptation to break the rules? The first sign provokes resentment. The second informs and lets readers decide for themselves how to act.

There’s a saying: “With the best salespeople, you never know they are selling.” Great salespeople deliver their message without making you feel uncomfortable, awkward, or, most importantly, that they’re trying to control you.

In this world, we only have control over ourselves — a reality marketers and salespeople can easily forget. These are a few ways I’ve found to help customers choose you: 

1. Pitch with emotion. Many cigarettes have the words “smoking kills” emblazoned on their package. Think about that: The company with the least incentive to say this must literally tell people that their product causes death.

I don’t deny the powerful properties of addiction, but smokers — at least in the beginning — ignore a life-and-death warning to make an emotion-driven choice. They’re not buying the product itself; they’re buying into the emotional connections associated with cigarettes. Young smokers want to fit in, define themselves, find friends through the habit, or distract themselves from another problem. Big Tobacco has built itself on our emotions’ ability to distract from reason.

Steve Jobs knew the power of emotional messaging, too. In his “Think Different” campaign speech, he told Apple employees, “We are not going to bombard people with the latest features of the Mac,” alluding to improvements in computer memory, onboard storage, and more. He pointed out that Nike rarely mentions the features of its shoes, instead focusing its advertising on “honoring great athletes” — another homage to emotion’s power over reason.

The next time you talk about your product or service, think about what users’ emotional connection to it may be. If you think there isn’t one, remember that there’s nothing intrinsically emotional about computer hardware.

2. Close with respect. Few things are worse than an intrusive salesperson. You’ve tried everything from passive disinterest to overt avoidance — and he or she still won’t leave you alone. Perhaps, at some point, you succumb — or, worse yet, if you don’t buy the product, the salesperson forks over your data to dozens of other vendors. 

Take Target’s eerie pregnancy prediction software that learned a teen girl was expecting before her father did. Perhaps Target thought it was getting ahead in the marketing data game, but does anyone believe it bought the company more new sales than angry customers?

Pushing a customer into a sale generates revenue, but it fails to maximize long-term value. When a customer feels great about choosing you, he or she is more likely to champion your brand (more sales), submit fewer service requests (fewer costs), and keep coming back (greater lifetime value). Not all types of closes are created equal. A marketing and sales culture that respects customers’ personal boundaries is not only the right thing to do; it’s also a formula for long-term success.

3. Sell with subtlety. When was the last time you bought something that declared, “This product is the best — you must have it”? Akin to watering plants with a pressure washer, that messaging doesn’t just turn off customers because it’s boring: It’s failure by firepower. 

What subtle cues convey your message instead? Naming and ad copy are good places to start. Have you ever noticed a traffic accident is called an “accident” (implying no blame) versus a “failure” (blame) or that the term “pro-life” is used by its adherents rather than “anti-abortion”? Those terms are subtle, yet deliberate, ways to mold conversations in ways that advantage their speakers.

From mirror neurons to the law of round numbers to placing higher-priced items on the right, advertisers have a slew of techniques to sell to you with subtlety. 

If you want to stand out to consumers, don’t shout louder. The world is already full of screaming salespeople. Instead, lower your voice, appeal to emotion, and leave the high-pressure tactics at home.

 

Steve Shaheen is the global head of digital marketing for Restaurant Brands International, the parent company of Burger King and Tim Hortons. He previously held leadership roles with The Walt Disney Company and LivingSocial and founded two successful digital marketing companies in the education and healthcare industries. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School.

23 Aug 15:58

The amazing story behind the world's first hedge fund

by Rachael Levy

aw jones

The first hedge fund looked nothing like most of those in operation today.

The founder had little investing experience and had bounced around careers in diplomacy, sociology, and journalism before settling on investing at age 48.

Alfred Winslow Jones is widely thought to have created the first "hedged fund" in the late 1940s (though some credit legendary value investor Ben Graham).

He got the idea while researching a markets article for Fortune magazine.

Jones' concept was simple: create a "hedge" by shorting stocks he thought would drop in value while going long, and sometimes using leverage, on stocks he thought would go up. This is a basic hedge fund strategy today but was novel at the time.

To short means to bet that a stock price will drop, while using leverage means using borrowed money to boost bets.

His strategy did phenomenally well and made lots of money for his clients. According to a 1966 Fortune article by legendary reporter Carol Loomis, Jones's firm gained 670% in the preceding 10 years, compared with a 358% gain for the leading mutual fund of the period.

Here's more on the then-new strategy from his firm's website:

"Each technique was considered risky and highly speculative, but when properly combined together would result in a conservative portfolio. The realization that one could use speculative techniques to conservative ends was the most important step in forming the hedged fund. Using his knowledge of statistics from his background as a sociologist, Jones developed a measure of market and stock-specific risk to better manage the exposure of his portfolio."

Jones spawned the modern hedge fund industry, which now counts about 11,000 funds worldwide — though many hedge funds today look nothing like Jones'. Today's hedge funds adopt lots of different strategies, and some don't even hedge.

For more on the sprawling history of hedge funds, read Business Insider's explainer.

SEE ALSO: 'Hedge fund' doesn't mean anything anymore — that's why they've been such a disappointment

SEE ALSO: Hedge funds have started bashing themselves — here's what they're saying

SEE ALSO: The activist hedge fund that shook up Yahoo is crushing it

Join the conversation about this story »

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23 Aug 15:57

A Sales Professionals Four Most Important Words

A Sales Professionals Four Most Important Words

By Richard F. Libin, President, APB, rlibin@apb.cc, www.apb.cc

In sales, the right words can make or break a deal. Yet the four most important words in the business are never spoken, but govern behavior and determine whether or not your customers have an exceptional experience. Ultimately they can impact your ability to close the sale.

The four words are:

  1. Accountability
  2. Communication
  3. Comprehension
  4. Consistency

These four words can literally mean the difference between success and failure in any sales organization. This does not discount the professional skills that are needed by any means; however, these behaviors form the foundation that is needed for sales skills to work.

Accountability is defined as “the quality or state of being accountable; especially an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility or to account for one's actions”*

Think about it. Quality. Obligation. Responsibility. These are powerful and often fearful concepts. Yet, every day we all are held accountable for something. And, generally, accountability is a two-way street — people and organizations are accountable to each other. For example, a mortgage company agrees to accept the obligation of loaning the outstanding value of a property to a buyer, who in turn agrees to be accountable and repay the loan with interest on time each month. Teachers take on the obligation of educating their students according to the required curriculum. Students (and parents) are accountable for attendance, homework, behavior and studying.

Yet, when it comes to our jobs, accountability is what most people fear most. No one wants to be held accountable, least of all salespeople. We can learn more about why this is by looking at communication, comprehension and consistency.

Communication is defined as “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior”*

An exchange of information. This would seem pretty simple, yet miscommunication is as common as clear communication. Often, it happens even more often, especially in business. As a manager, it’s not enough to think that employees know what is expected. It’s also not enough to simply tell them. People communicate in different ways and require different resources to ensure communication is remembered and learned. Some learn by hearing, others by seeing, and still others by doing. Effective communication requires all three methods. Tell your employees, show them and then have them do it.

Even so, is this enough? Do people remember after a single communication? In our world today, there is so much “noise” that for communication to truly be effective, it needs to be repeated and recorded. Managers must clearly tell employees every day what is expected in their job, for their sales and/or customer service performance, how they are measured, where to go for more information and how to handle challenges or problems.

Employees must have access to materials and resources that can make their jobs easier and to set them up for success. For example, if your business uses the Internet, be sure your employees have full access to internal resources as well as to the customer view of your business as reference tools.

Even the best communication, however, is worthless without comprehension.

Comprehension, our third word, is defined as “the act or action of grasping with the intellect: understanding”*

Do your people understand what they are accountable for? Most people will answer, “Yes,” yet most of the time people make mistakes or fail to meet expectations because of a lack of understanding. Comprehension cannot be assumed. Without a clear understanding, employees either do what they think should be done or what they feel like doing.  Rarely, will they meet expectations.

Comprehension occurs when an individual has a full understanding of what is being done, how it must be done, and why it matters. To fully comprehend, an individual must be involved in the process. And, they must understand the personal benefit — like the great radio station WIIFM (What’s In It For Me), and the benefit for the customer. Let’s simplify this with an example. If you ask people to jump off a bridge, 99% will ask why. They need to understand before they act. The same is true in business. Employees, who understand why processes exist, perform better. Often, simply asking questions will provide a reality check on whether or not an employee understands, and whether or not management is communicating clearly.

Consistency, our final word is defined as “harmony of conduct or practice with profession”*

Another primary cause of misunderstanding is a lack of consistency from one manager to the other, or even by the same manager. If processes and expectations are applied inconsistently, not surprisingly employees get confused. How can any employee be held accountable if the rules change day to day? Managers must be consistent. And, if changes are made, they need to start back at the beginning, communicate what employees are responsible for, ensure comprehension and apply the new standards consistently. Only then can managers hold employees accountable and business achieve sales and service excellence.

Conclusion

Accountability, Communication, Comprehension, and Consistency – when taken to heart and applied by management with their people, are truly the four most important words in achieving sales excellence.

*Source: Merriam-Webster, m-w.com

Richard F. Libin is the author of the book, “Who Stopped the Sale?” (whostoppedthesale.com) and president of APB-Automotive Profit Builders, Inc. His next book, “Who Knew? It’s All About You. Because Everyone Is A Salesperson,” is due out in 2016. His firm has more than 48 years’ experience working with both sales and service on customer satisfaction and maximizing gross profits through personnel development and technology. He can be reached at rlibin@apb.cc or 508-626-9200 or www.apb.cc.

23 Aug 15:57

To Reduce Complexity in Your Company, Start with Pen and Paper

by Rita McGrath
aug16-22-170550809

Companies that grow face a predictable problem: over time, the business becomes way too complex for its own good. I see this a lot in companies that have moved heavily into what I call the “exploitation” phase of a competitive advantage, or the phase that comes after the initial launch and successful ramp-up. Chris Zook and James Allen have also recently tackled this issue their recent HBR article “Reigniting Growth.”

With the warm glow of steady and more-or-less predictable profits to depend on, more and more policies are introduced, more new ways of extracting profits are developed, the company loses touch with its customers, fewer activities are directly related to what Geoffrey Moore famously called the “core” and instead have to do with context, and the company seems to lose its agility. The internal world comes to matter more than what is going on outside the boundaries of the company and it just sort of loses its edge. The difficulty here is that this doesn’t happen overnight. Convinced that they have a sustainable competitive advantage (always a risky way to think about your business), executives allow bureaucracy to take over and decision-making to become sclerotic.

To give an example of just how hard it can be to prevent this from happening, let’s consider the case of Nokia. For years, the company was a poster-child of success, earning admiration from business executives and academics alike. The voluminous case studies and articles about the firm would fill entire file cabinets in the typical business school storage area. I myself wrote admiringly about the firm’s practices with respect to venturing in an article that was published in 2006. Nokia’s CEO was featured on the cover of Forbes magazine in 2007, with the headline “Nokia: A billion customer and counting. Can anyone catch the cell phone king?” You could forgive executives in the company for believing that they had it nailed.

And yet…2007 was the year that the iPhone was introduced and Android commercialized. Despite Nokia’s global footprint, it was nowhere in the US and carriers disliked the company’s arrogance, built up during its day as the dominant handset maker. I’m told that at one point the management-through-presentation culture of the company was so extensive that they were actually investigated by 3M for potentially re-selling the huge volumes of acetates used in those days to make slides for overhead projectors!

I started to get communications from the company that felt like really bad news. In one, a star researcher said that he was leaving as there was no space for creativity anymore, as the company squeezed budgets and eliminated roles without a clear ROI. The venturing process that I so admired was essentially dismantled, to be replaced by a numbers-driven group that went hunting for near-term success. And I wasn’t the only one concerned about the company’s direction – in 2008 my colleagues Yves Doz and Mikko Kosonen wrote about the “rollercoaster” that was strategy at Nokia for many years, just before the Apple phenomenon decimated the company’s handset business.

This is a story without suspense – eventually, we know, Kallasvuo was fired and Stephen Elop was brought in as CEO, penning a call to arms for the company, his famous “burning platform” memo. In what was clearly a “Hail Mary” pass, Elop engineered a tie-up with Microsoft that never really worked out, eventually setting the stage for the sale of the company’s entire handset business. And this despite having working prototypes of devices that could have come to market as the iPhone or iPad – years before Apple invented them. The problem, according to people like Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs, was sclerotic decision making that caused the company to miss opportunity after opportunity. Sounds like what Zook and Allen are talking about.

This is exactly what I look at when a company has gone far too heavily in the direction of exploiting. You can think of it as the “tangle” of growth. Without the pressure to move quickly and make decisions fast with imperfect information, it is all too easy for the balance between pressing forward into the future and exploiting the current situation to get out of whack. The focus becomes internal, politics take over decision-making, senior leaders are not told the bad news they need to hear, technical experts’ voices are not heard and, for reasons nobody can quite put a finger on, everything seems to be moving at a leaden pace.

What is the remedy that Zook and Allen propose? Clean house by eliminating under-performing units, while reducing complexity and eliminating excess cost. Focus on what they call the “front line”– that part of the company that actually touches the customer. Get senior teams out of the office to encounter one-on-one what is really going on in their markets and with their customers. Eliminate bureaucracy. Rediscover the mission.

Pragmatically, you can begin to do this without a whole lot of drama. I start by making a model of the business. I like to look at variables in 4 columns:

  • Outcomes (what you are trying to achieve, as in sales)
  • Drivers (what you believe causes the outcome to occur, or not)
  • Leading indicators (how do you know how you are doing on the drivers?)
  • Work streams (what are you doing to influence the leading indicators)

In a recent retreat with the executive team of a retailer that is facing a genuine tangle and trying to get back on track, we kept it simple. I used a hand-drawn picture of what the model for their business would look like. The handwritten, unsophisticated part is important – remember that a lot of the tangle is characterized by over-engineered PowerPoint presentations and way too many reports. What you want is to get clarity about what really matters to your business and what is just noise. So what we drew as outcomes for this retailer were results such as in-store sales, revenues from secondary products, revenues from on-line sales, and then the various contributors to cost. Next, we looked at what we believe caused those things to happen, for good or for ill (things like traffic from which customer segments, average spending, median spending, nature of what was bought, share of wallet, etc.). Then we looked at what indicators might predict whether our drivers were improving or not (customer complaints, net promoter scores, sign-ups for a loyalty program, and so on).

With this picture firmly in front of the whole team, we next dove into the implications for what the organization should be focusing on – and more importantly what it could safely stop doing. If an activity didn’t have an impact on a leading indicator, we resolved to eliminate it. If a unit couldn’t clearly show the linkages between what they do every day and the outcomes we were trying to drive, it was a candidate for being shut down. If one member of the leadership team owned a key driver, the goal was to let them manage it rather than everybody being in micro-management mode.

Eventually, the changes that were implemented led to a redefinition of the company’s core strategy and a renewal of its relationships with its customers, without a wrenching restructuring or devastation to morale. Perhaps even more impressive than these strategic outcomes were the effects of this “detangling” on the organization. The senior team was able to more effectively prioritize the use of their time. Before the detangling exercise, they had fallen into the classic trap of continuing to “do stuff” when really their very senior roles were to ensure that the right things were being executed down the organization. They were now more able to clearly separate out responsibilities so that less communication and fewer meetings were required as they realized that the responsible person should tackle the action plans. Decisions were made more quickly. A big thrust, ongoing at the moment, is to re-energize their workforce which had been drifting in the direction taken by Circuit City and Home Depot, namely replacing experienced and deeply knowledgeable staff with part-time and less knowledgeable people which eventually damaged the reputation of both firms (and in the case of Circuit City ultimately led to its demise).

Getting tangled up is easy. Getting untangled is hard. Absent the pressure from either a major corporate crisis (such as a burning platform) or a CEO and senior team that insist these things be part of the ongoing work of the organization, the tangle will dominate. The reason this strikes me as a critically important issue today is that in a world of transient competitive advantage, even very good companies, like Nokia, can fall victim to this syndrome. Far better to tame it before it sinks you.

23 Aug 15:56

This is what might happen when robots take over banking

by Tina Wadhwa

Child iphone

When Business Insider asked experts what they thought would change the financial industry in the next decade, nearly all said automation. But while some saw humans being replaced, others thought that the tech will make humans better.

This is what we learned after surveying chief technology officers, chief innovation officers, startup founders, and venture capitalists.

We are heading toward a world where "ubiquitous mobile computing, an exponential growth in data, and continuous advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence will transform finance into an always-on, algorithmically driven industry," according to Sean Park, the founder, chairman, and CIO at venture-capital firm Anthemis Group.

Adding to this trend, he said, is the coming of age of the "Snapchat generation," the millennials — and the generation ahead, which some call "Generation Z" — that have grown up using technology in an automated world.

It's clear that industry experts, from startup founders to senior executives at incumbent giants, agree. Here's a sampling of their thoughts:

  • David Reilly, CTO at Bank of America, believes that automation will "change how we insure property, loan money, invest money, deliver technology, write research reports, and what professionals in financial services do every day." For example, an insurance company can incorporate far more data — from credit scores to behavior — when it decides how risky a customer is. He added: "Every week in the news we read about a new application for artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural networks, or robots — whether it is self-driving cars, AI assistants, predictive models, robots building (or printing) hardware, or how to invest our money ... Put these all in the category of automation — and that is what will impact finance the most in the next decade."
  • Diwakar Choubey, CEO of online lender MoneyLion, predicts that "what was once a sit-down conversation between a client and their personal private banker might now be accessible through a mobile app to broad audiences, 24/7."
  • Jenny Fielding, managing director at Techstars Accelerator, said that technology "enables basic automation so that making payments, checking balances and customer service can happen in real time via messaging platforms. However, as the underlying technologies mature, deep learning algorithms will minimize the need for human interaction."
  • Dean Nicolacakis, PricewaterhouseCoopers' coleader of US fintech, believes that automation will allow financial services to become "embedded directly into the user activity itself as a native, not a separate, function." Think services like Uber, where paying is simple within the app. He imagines that kind of seamlessness will come to other transactions like getting a mortgage.
  • Chae H. An, vice president and CTO of the financial-services sector at IBM, sees the growth in artificial intelligence allowing banks to provide services tailored specifically to individual customers.
  • Bu Lo, cofounder and CEO of online investment manager FutureAdvisor, said that "technology will also continue freeing up human financial advisors from mundane tasks so that they can focus on providing uniquely human value, like coaching and mentoring." Instead of having to deal with administrative procedures, advisors can spend time offering a personalized service according to client needs.

The days of traveling to your bank, waiting on line, and sitting down with a financial adviser to discuss your financial future are already a thing of the past for many. But experts think that, for most of us, the bank of the future will be entirely virtual.

"The impact on businesses will be profound," said Fielding.

SEE ALSO: We asked some of the smartest minds in finance how Wall Street is going to change — this is what they said

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The biggest security mistakes people make with online banking

23 Aug 15:52

Vancouver's housing bubble might not be a bubble after all (fxc)

by Myles Udland

Stop me if you've heard this before: there's a housing bubble in Vancouver

The massive rise in Greater Vancouver home prices, which are up 30% year-on-year as of the end of May, has in many corners been attributed to rush of Chinese buyers coming into the market.

Buyers seeking a safe place to park assets outside of China, however, are likely to be far less price sensitive than traditional homebuyers. This is how markets start to look bubbly: uneconomic buyers dominate. 

Another factor potentially driving Vancouver prices higher, though, is that when priced in yuan rather than Canadian dollars, home prices in the region haven't risen nearly as aggressively over the last decade.

Screen Shot 2016 08 22 at 1.03.39 PM

Seen this way, then, the rise in Vancouver home prices for the market's most aggressive buyers hasn't been, well, as aggressive. 

And in a note to clients, Matthew Barasch at RBC Capital Markets argues that amid broad warnings on the bubble-like nature of Vancouver's market, this foreign influx of capital pressing prices higher looks a lot like the dynamic we're seeing across other markets as well (think US Treasurys). 

On the one hand, this might indicate that everything is a bubble. Alternatively, higher prices across the board don't necessarily mean there is a bubble. 

Here's Barasch (emphasis added):

Now, we are not going to stick our necks out the window in the spirit of Howard Beale and proclaim "we're mad as hell and there is no bubble!," but we also do not believe that just because prices have risen a lot means that Vancouver home prices automatically meet the definition of a bubble that is set to burst, leaving bits and pieces in its wake. Further, we wonder if Vancouver is indeed a bubble, whether or not we are surrounded by bubbles worldwide as Vancouver is hardly an exception in terms of soaring prices brought about by significant foreign inflows and the lowest bond yields in a millennia. 

The metaphor Barasch extends in his note — because this is a research note and all research notes must have metaphorical hooks — is that just because Vancouver's bubble-looking markets looks like a duck and acts like a duck doesn't mean it's not a platypus. Which, sure. 

But the reality is that consensus thinking right now would say there is a housing bubble in Canada, particularly after the Bank of Canada's commentary earlier this year

Some analysts might be more hyperbolic than others — "Overall, we might be close to peak crazy in the housing market" — but any chart that looks like the following from RBC will get people excited.

Screen Shot 2016 08 22 at 1.23.16 PM

Or as Fitch Ratings said in a note out Monday, "Fitch currently estimates home prices to be more than 20% overvalued nationally in Canada when compared to growth in long-term economic fundamentals, leaving markets increasingly exposed to downside risk."

SEE ALSO: The next big consensus view in economics has arrived

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: EX-UNDERCOVER DEA AGENT: What I did when drug dealers asked me to try the product

23 Aug 15:50

Mark Hunter on How to Target and Win High Profit Prospects – Episode #71

by Heather May

Mark Hunter is one of those guys you never forget once you’ve heard him speak. That’s because he’s got such penetrating insight and such unreserved passion behind his opinions. This episode commemorates the release of Mark’s newest book, “High Ticket Prospecting.” Anthony asks Mark a lot of questions about the content of the book including why he felt the book was needed in the first place. In characteristic style Mark’s going to give it to you straight on this one, so be sure you take the time to listen.

If you’re not seen as a leader you won’t be seen as a good salesperson ~ Mark HunterClick To Tweet

Find your ideal client by starting with the outcomes you can provide.

One of the most important things Mark Hunter teaches is that in order to find the ideal prospect you have to first know who your ideal client is. But you won’t be able to identify them unless you start with the outcomes that you uniquely provide. On this episode, Mark Hunter chats with Anthony about how that process works and gives you some steps to follow to build that ideal client profile and get your prospecting in high gear as a result.

You’ve got to communicate with people using the method they appreciate most.

Prospecting is about communication and Mark Hunter is no stranger to picking up the phone to make that connection. But he’s also aware that not everyone gravitates toward or appreciates the telephone. So as a salesperson you’ve got to pivot in the way you make contact with people, learning how to connect with them using the means they prefer, whether that’s email, phone, or something altogether different.

Why should the prospect engage if you’re a babbling idiot on voicemail? ~ Mark HunterClick To Tweet

Why have salespeople shifted to email over the telephone?

Mark Hunter believes that most sales professionals have shifted to email because it makes the sting of rejection easier to handle. It’s also a way that they are able to show their managers that they are making contacts consistently – but just how effective ARE those contacts anyway? On this episode, Mark chats with Anthony about the right and wrong way to do email prospecting. He even gives you a brief example of what his prospecting emails are like and how he uses them.

The greatest lesson Mark Hunter has learned in life is to get back up.

The sales arena is not a place for the faint of heart or timid. Rejection is real. Closed doors happen often. Mark Hunter has learned that one of the most important skills for any human being, but especially a sales professional is the ability to get up when they are knocked down. Discouragement cannot be allowed to win. Pessimism must be crushed. On this episode, Mark shares why he’s come to believe that so strongly and how it has served him in life and sales.

Get back up. The greatest lesson Mark Hunter has learned in life - on this episodeClick To Tweet

Outline of this great episode

  • [0:43] Anthony’s introduction of Mark Hunter.
  • [2:00] The elephant in the room about Mark’s new book.
  • [3:36] Why Mark decided he needed to write a second book about prospecting.
  • [5:04] How Mark plans to target high profit customers.
  • [9:19] Why have sales people shifted to email?
  • [11:48] What salespeople have to do to maximize their time for prospecting.
  • [14:25] The difference between a prospect and a suspect and why it’s important to qualify leads immediately.
  • [17:05] Why sales managers are responsible for accuracy in the prospecting pipeline.
  • [18:19] Should salespeople still be using the telephone? What about leaving voicemail?
  • [24:53] How email can be used effectively to prospect.
  • [32:24] The person who’s had the biggest influence on Mark’s thinking.
  • [34:18] The biggest lesson Mark has learned in life.
  • [38:26] Mark’s new certification from the National Speaker’s Association.
  • [39:37] How you can get Mark’s new book.

Resources & Links mentioned in this episode

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The theme song “Into the Arena” is written and produced by Chris Sernel. You can find it on Soundcloud

Connect with Anthony

Website: www.TheSalesBlog.com

Youtube: www.Youtube.com/Iannarino

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iannarino

Twitter: https://twitter.com/iannarino

Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/+SAnthonyIannarino

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/iannarino

Tweets you can use to share this episode

You wanna get stupid prospects, do stupid stuff. You’re going to wind up with them ~ Mark HunterClick To Tweet
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The post Mark Hunter on How to Target and Win High Profit Prospects – Episode #71 appeared first on The Sales Blog.

23 Aug 15:49

How to Use Instagram for Business: An Easy Walkthrough

by Lauren Marchese

People still seem to think that Instagram isn’t worthy of their business’ time and efforts, despite countless facts and statistics telling us otherwise. But even with statistics, it can be tough to get a concrete idea of what, exactly, Instagram can do for a business. Well, look no further!

In this post we’ll talk about:

  • How Instagram can directly benefit your business
  • Instagram features you can use to generate sales and leads now

Instagram For Your Business

At the risk of sounding repetitive, here are some stats you may have already seen about Instagram that are so important they’re worth mentioning again.

What these statistics tell us is that Instagram’s user base is very, very active on the app. They don’t just sign up and forget about it. 300 million people are scrolling through their feeds every single day, and they’re not just looking – they’re engaging with brands in a big way.

Instagram Brand Engagement Track Maven

TrackMaven Study

If you’re spending most of your social media budget on Facebook, where brand engagement levels are significantly lower, you may be wasting resources that could be spent on a platform where people want to interact with brands. That makes Instagram extremely valuable for any business, no matter how small.

But how and where do you allocate resources to Instagram? Let’s dive deeper into some app features and Instagram for Business tools that will make your life easier.

Features and Tools

There are so many ways your business can use Instagram to help with branding and market awareness, leads, sales, and more.

In-App

Some of the most effective ways are through free, in-app functions that anyone can use. One of the best examples of this is the new Instagram Stories feature that was recently rolled out. Instagram Stories is similar to Snapchat’s Stories feature, with a few important differences.

If your business is on Snapchat, followers can be hard to come by. It’s very difficult for individuals to find users they want to add without knowing the exact username due to the lack of a search function on Snapchat. With Instagram Stories, you get to post informal Snapchat-like content where more of your followers will have a chance to see it. That means more interaction with your audience.

And the older features are just as significant when it comes to audience engagement with brands.

Hashtags (#), for example, are extremely useful for any business looking to expand their audience. When you post a photo, you can pick out a few relevant hashtags that describe your business or the photograph and include them either in the caption or in a comment below. People who don’t follow your business will be able to find your post using these hashtags – thus expanding your reach.

If you use relevant keywords as hashtags, the people finding you are likely to be interested in what you’re posting about. Refine your hashtags by seeing which posts perform best with which tags to attract the most new users.

mainstreethost instagram for business google partner

Geotags are another in-app feature that can expand your audience and allow you reach people who don’t already follow your brand. Whether you’re at the office or putting on an event, geotagging the location of your post can attract the attention of others interested in that venue or area.

You should also regularly check other posts published with relevant geotags (just click on the geotag to do this). There may be some great opportunities among these posts for interaction with customers. For example, if you own a coffee shop, you should check the geotag for your shop at least once a week to see if anyone is posting Instagrams while enjoying a cup of coffee.

You can interact with these people via comments in any way you want. Thank them for stopping by, reward them for their loyalty with a free item during their next visit, etc. Be creative!

But you don’t need a brick-and-mortar location to utilize these functions. For example, Mainstreethost recently participated in a HubSpot User Group meetup. In an Instagram post, we included a geotag for the coffee shop that hosted the event. This targeted people who weren’t at the event but might have a dual interest in the coffee place and business/marketing.

mainstreethost instagram for business geotags

Instagram for Business Advertising

Last but not least, to facilitate a more strategic approach, Instagram created a resource for business accounts called Instagram for Business. One of the most important parts of Instagram for Business is advertising – paid ads are a fantastic option if your budget allows for it. You can create your ad in Facebook’s Ads Manager or Power Editor platforms and choose how much you want to spend, how long you want it to run for, and what you want it to look like. Click here for a comprehensive guide on how to make impactful Instagram ads.

Pick your audience, image, and caption carefully to attract the most engagement possible, and don’t forget to include a relevant CTA based on what type of action you want to encourage. Do you want to link your ad to a product page hoping people will buy? There’s a CTA for “Shop Now.”

What if you just want them to visit a particular web page or blog post? Choose the “Learn More” CTA instead. Instagram allows you to customize these ads pretty much any way you want – and the results are worth it.

But while the ad dollars spent help increase your business’ influence, the results will be nothing without a thought-out strategy by the ad creators to make sure it’s reaching the right people.

You can track your ad’s performance in whichever platform you choose (Ads Manager or Power Editor) to learn how to improve the next time. The result of doing all these steps correctly will be boosted Instagram likes, comments, and (hopefully) account follows.

These in-app features and advertising tools can lead to actual sales and leads for your business if you put in the time and effort to make your Instagram profile stand out. It’s well worth it!

Free Social Media for Small Business Ebook

22 Aug 16:22

4 Deadly Mistakes Killing Your Lead Generation Strategy

by marc@MarcWayshak.com (Marc Wayshak)

deadly-lead-generation-mistakes.jpg

For most salespeople, lead generation is a mixture of good intentions and disorganized execution. In fact, the vast majority of salespeople make the same lead generation mistakes again and again. Overwhelmed by the idea of prospecting, many salespeople procrastinate lead generation altogether, putting it off as soon as they get busy.

If this sounds anything like your approach to prospecting, it’s time to shape up. A solid lead generation strategy can help you close more sales, attract more clients, and maximize your profits. So what are you waiting for?

Below are four deadly lead generation mistakes that salespeople make. Correct these mistakes to start turning your good intentions into profitable action. And while you’re at it, watch this video to learn about the most effective lead generation strategy out there:

1) Relying on just one approach. 

In a world where we have dozens of communication methods at our fingertips, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Phone calls, emails, social platforms, networking events -- sometimes it’s a relief to focus on just one, and forget the rest. But limiting yourself to just one communication approach is a sure way to kill your lead generation strategy. Instead of relying on just one method of generating leads, you should have at least three lead generation strategies going on at once.

For example, try calling high-level prospects, asking for referrals from your existing network, and inviting your best prospects and customers to semi-annual private events. By combining these three vastly different lead generation approaches, your strategy will yield better, more varied results to fill your pipeline with qualified leads.

2) Setting unrealistic lead generation goals.

Many salespeople set lofty goals for lead generation, only to ditch them when life gets too busy. If your goals are unrealistic, you’re likely to end up in the same boat. While everyone appreciates an ambitious salesperson, it’s better to be laser-focused on specific lead generation goals that you know you can accomplish even on your busiest days.

Instead of overwhelming yourself with a vague, lofty goal, commit to smaller actionable steps you can follow through on. For example, dedicate a specific -- and attainable -- amount of time each day to lead generation, or write small weekly goals in a visible place to keep you on track. Truly great salespeople understand that consistent focus on attainable goals is the key to executing good intentions.

3) Separating delivery from lead generation.

Salespeople often view sales as a separate job from the delivery of their product or service. When these two interconnected processes are thought of as separate, it can lead to a misalignment of priorities and a huge loss of opportunity. 

Instead of separating these tasks, remember that delivery is the perfect opportunity to strengthen your relationship with clients. During the delivery process, you can -- and should -- ask for referrals and introductions to new leads. The most successful salespeople see product delivery as the perfect opportunity to generate valuable leads. 

Ensuring delivery goes smoothly is also the best way to keep your relationship positive and productive. You can’t expect a client whose implementation didn’t match up at all with your promises to refer business to you in the future.

4) Being disorganized. 

Unfortunately, most salespeople are completely haphazard when it comes to prospecting. They bounce from emails to phone calls and back with no consistent process for connecting with their leads. Instead, take the time to establish an organized sales prospecting campaign to consistently reach out to your leads.

First, map out an intentional process for connecting with and getting in front of your prospects. The goal should be to touch each prospect at least seven to 15 times throughout your campaign. Utilize a strategic mix of letters, packages, phone calls, voicemails, emails, and drop-ins if applicable -- and write down an intentional schedule for each step of your plan.

To stay organized, try logging these steps in a CRM to easily track where you are in the process with each and every prospect.

By using multiple approaches, staying focused, capitalizing on delivery, and getting organized, a salesperson can enjoy a steady stream of leads -- and slowly but surely get on the prospect’s radar every time. Check out the video below for more tips on how to improve your lead generation strategy by avoiding common mistakes:

Which of these lead generation mistakes do you find yourself making? And which communication tools have proved most effective for you as a salesperson? Share your experiences in the comments below. For more cutting-edge sales advice, join the free 9-Day Sales Intensive online training course.

Email tool in HubSpot CRM

22 Aug 15:36

Canada’s economy may be underperforming, but investors are raking it in

by Maciej Onoszko and Eric Lam, Bloomberg News

One of Canada’s weakest economic expansions isn’t stopping the country’s assets from handing investors the best returns in seven years.

Combined gains of the loonie and total returns for Canadian government bonds and stocks reached 26 per cent this year through Aug. 19, the best performance since 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Equities led gains with the highest return among 24 developed markets after New Zealand, followed by the loonie, the third-best performer among Group-of-10 countries.

The asset surge is against a back drop of the slowest two-year pace of growth outside a recession in at least 60 years. Last year’s collapse in oil prices has sapped activity, manufacturing has yet to rebound and concerns are rising about an overheated real estate market. It’s not enough to discourage investors, both domestic and abroad, who are increasingly left with little choice over where to put their money.

Bloomberg
Bloomberg

“People see Canada right now as a bank account, an area of wealth preservation,” said Hans Albrecht, options strategist at Horizons ETFs Management Canada Inc. in Toronto. His firm manages $5.79 billion in exchange-traded products. “They’re doing it with real estate, why not with our equity market? Why not with every facet of investments in Canada? It’s a big backstop to our economy because people are buying real estate here.”

Canada is looking attractive as the outlook for the global economy remains weak or uneven in Europe, Asia and the U.S. At the same time, loose central bank policy is driving interest rates toward record lows as investors seek haven assets like gold — and safety in stable and innocuous countries like Canada.

“All markets are dislocating a bit from reality, and that’s an effect of extremely low rates,” Albrecht said. “It’s pushing investors further on the risk spectrum than ever before and it’s pushing up all asset classes. You take what you can get in a low-growth environment. Plug your nose and just go for it because the guy beside you is going to do it.”

That thinking helped the S&P/TSX Composite Index post a total return of 15 per cent this year, putting it on track for its best year since 2009. Meanwhile the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Canada Government Index has posted a total return of 3.2 per cent this year. Government bonds have returned 12 per cent when taking into account the 7.6 per cent advance in the Canadian dollar, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Too Negative

Meanwhile Canada’s economy probably contracted 1.4 per cent in the second quarter, the most since 2009, its trade deficit widened to a record, while the country’s job market shrank last month.

“These markets improving may be an indication that too high probabilities are assigned to negative scenarios,” said Paul Ferley, an assistant chief economist at Royal Bank of Canada in Toronto, the country’s largest bank.

In his view, Canada’s economy is holding up well and will recover in the second half of the year after a temporary dip in the second quarter, driven partly by shutdowns of oil production after wildfires in Alberta.

Oil Prices

Yet skepticism remains over the stability of the recovery as the surge in Canadian assets this year could be just a reversion to the mean after a dismal 2015, when both the currency and stocks fell the most since 2008, according to David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at Gluskin Sheff & Associates Inc.

“This year’s stellar performance has to be viewed in the context of the depressed conditions that Canada endured not just last year, but in the last couple of years,” Rosenberg said. “At the same time, more fundamentally, sentiment on Canada, whether it’s the currency, credit or the stock market, is going to be hitched largely to the direction of oil prices.”

Most of the gains in Canada’s equity market came on the back of stocks that are benefiting from almost 30 per cent gains in gold and crude this year, factors the local economy has little influence over. “If you strip out energy and materials, it is a less robust picture,” Rosenberg said, adding he expects the market to finish the year close to levels where it is now.

Foreign Inflows

Nonetheless, oil continues to provide support as it jumped 9.1 per cent last week for its strongest weekly increase in five months, entering a bull market with investors speculating that OPEC talks next month could lead to an output freeze. New York crude traded at $48.52 per barrel on Friday.

Be it because of the rise of oil prices or the overwhelming influence of expansive monetary policies by the world’s largest central banks, investors from abroad don’t seem to be overly concerned about Canada’s economy. Net inflows into Canadian assets were positive each month this year, the first such occurrence since 2009, while the $80.4 billion of total inflows through the first six months of the year is the highest on record, according Bloomberg data.

“Instead of buying a European bond that’s yielding negative, you’re better off buying something here in Canada,” said Krishen Rangasamy, senior economist at National Bank Financial in Montreal. “But the run-up in the stock market isn’t sustainable. The only question is when investors will refocus on fundamentals.”

Bloomberg.com

22 Aug 15:13

Loblaw makes $170-million cash bid for B.C. medical records company QHR Corp.

by The Canadian Press

Loblaw Companies Ltd. is planning to expand its growing presence in the health care industry, proposing a $170 million, all-cash friendly bid to buy a B.C.-based company that develops electronic medical record technology.

The country’s largest food retailer offered $3.10 cash per share of Kelowna’s QHR Corp. — or 22 per cent over the stock’s price on the TSX Venture Exchange at Friday’s close — saying it will be a “natural complement” to its Shoppers Drug Mart division.

Loblaw purchased Shoppers, Canada’s largest retail network of pharmacies, in 2014 for $12.4 billion.

A shareholder vote on the QHR deal will require two-thirds approval, and is expected to take place at a QHR special shareholder meeting in October. It already has the approval of QHR’s board of directors.

QHR CEO Mike Checkley said exclusive negotiations began two weeks ago following an unsolicited offer from Loblaw. “We weren’t out to sell the company,” he said on an investors conference call. “What came across the table we felt was very fair and we feel this is absolutely the right arrangement for us and our customers.”

The deal does allow QHR to consider other offers, and comes with a $6 million break fee if one is accepted.

If approved, the acquisition would give Loblaw a foothold with the 7,700 healthcare providers QHR currently supports with its suite of electronic medical records technology — that business accounts for 20 per cent of the Canadian electronic health record market, which is worth approximately $350 million per year, according to Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Ralph Garcea.

“We recognize that the future of healthcare is digital and this strategic investment will make us a better health and wellness partner to patients and providers,” said Loblaw spokesperson Tammy Smitham. “QHR brings complementary talent and technology to our organization, providing opportunities to establish new business partnerships and drive improved care coordination for Canadians.”

Smitham said that Loblaw has no short term plans to change the way its pharmacy business operates — but that the company is hopeful the acquisition will in the long term make its patient care more efficient, and allow it to work with more health care providers beyond the pharmacy niche. In recent years, retailers including Shoppers have added medical services, notably dispensing flu shots and prescription renewal services, as governments have sought to regulate the professional allowances pharmacies receive from drugmakers.

RBC Dominion Securities analyst Irene Nattel said in a note that the QHR acquisition will have negligible impact on Loblaw’s results but should fit alongside the company’s existing pharmacy and healthcare operations.

QHR’s shares climbed 56 cents to reach $3.10 in mid-afternoon trading on the TSX Venture Exchange. Loblaw shares were up 67 cents to $71.77.

Loblaw has looked to its Shoppers division to deliver new avenues for earnings growth, as competition for sales volume in its grocery business has expanded beyond traditional competitors like Metro and Sobey’s to include big-box retailers Costco and Walmart.

The Shoppers acquisition in 2014 gave Loblaw access to smaller sized stores in high density urban neighbourhoods, where Walmart and Costco remain largely removed. Following the introduction of increased food and grocery offerings at its drugstores, revenue growth at Shoppers Drug Mart outpaced other parts of the company’s business in the second quarter.

In July, Loblaw reported its net profit fell almost 15 per cent in the quarter from 2015. Its net income was $158 million or 39 cents per share for the three months ending June 18. That was down from $185 million or 44 cents per share a year earlier.

However, the company’s overall revenue grew by $196 million or two per cent, putting it at $10.7 billion from $10.5 billion a year before.

22 Aug 15:11

8 Cool Marketing Analysis Tools for Data Junkies

by Dan Shewan

Data is every marketer’s best friend. Without data, we couldn’t identify what’s working well in our campaigns, diagnose potential problems, or decide upon which areas to focus our efforts. However, some data is more valuable than other data, and knowing which metrics to monitor can mean the difference between success and failure.

Marketing analysis tools

There are dozens (if not hundreds) of marketing analysis tools available to marketers of all disciplines. Some are free and do one thing really well, whereas others are subscription-based and offer a broad range of functionality. All of them promise the sweet, sweet data you need to run more effective campaigns, but which ones are worth your time?

In today’s post, we’ll be taking a look at eight marketing analysis tools to see what they do, who they’re for, and what they can offer you.

1. Mixpanel – Advanced Web and Mobile Analytics

First up in our list of marketing analysis tools is Mixpanel, a powerful suite of analytical tools that can offer invaluable insights into audience behavior.

Marketing analysis tools Mixpanel

Image via Mixpanel

What Does It Do?

Mixpanel offers users a wealth of information about how people use websites and mobile apps. You can monitor user interaction with your app or site as a whole, or drill down to individual buttons and features to see exactly how your users are interacting with your product. All of this functionality is possible without requiring a single line of code, meaning that even non-technical personnel can access important data about your site or app.

Who Is It For?

Mixpanel has some impressive clients, including Autodesk, Salesforce, and Twitch, but its competitive pricing (see below) puts it well within reach of even small businesses. Users with complex websites or mobile apps could potentially benefit greatly from the insights offered by Mixpanel.

How Much Does It Cost?

For analysis of up to 25,000 data points per month (a data point is any defined user action, such as clicking a button or taking a specific action on your site or app), Mixpanel is free. The monthly subscription changes depending on the volume of data being analyzed. Check the official pricing page for more details.

2. The AdWords Performance Grader – A Complete PPC Audit in 60 Seconds

PPC is a great way to reach new customers and grow your business, but to say there are a lot of variables that can determine your success would be an understatement. For those new to the world of paid search, even identifying the right areas to focus on can be overwhelming, which is why thousands of small-business owners and advertisers have turned to the AdWords Performance Grader for help.

What Does It Do?

The AdWords Performance Grader quickly and securely evaluates the strength of your AdWords account in 60 seconds or less. Once the Grader has performed its audit of your account, you’ll be presented with a detailed report showing the strengths and weaknesses of your account according to 10 key metrics, including mobile optimization, ad text optimization, and impression share.

Marketing analysis tools AdWords Perforrnance Grader

This information allows you to zero in on the elements of your account that need the most work, offering a strong potential lift in immediate account performance.

Who Is It For?

Anyone with an active AdWords account can benefit from the insights provided by the AdWords Performance Grader, from small businesses to mid-sized agencies.

How Much Does It Cost?

The AdWords Performance Grader is completely free to use. Grade your account for free today!

3. Formisimo – Insight into Web Form Abandonment

Web forms are an integral part of using the web, but their prevalence doesn’t make them any less of a challenge from a conversion perspective. That’s what makes Formisimo so potentially valuable to marketers.

Marketing analysis tools Formisimo

What Does It Do?

Formisimo provides users with actionable data about why people fail to complete web forms. The software analyzes real-time data from your site and compiles intuitive reports according to analysis of your forms against 54 individual metrics. This level of insight can tell you which parts of your forms are deterring prospects from converting, among many other things.

Who Is It For?

Anyone whose website or app uses web forms can benefit from Formisimo. Similarly to Mixpanel, Formisimo is used by some of the web’s leading brands and sites, such as Toyota and Uber, but small businesses may benefit even more from the kind of actionable data promised by the software.

How Much Does It Cost?

Formisimo costs $50 per month for the “Startup” package, to $180 per month for agencies.

4. CrazyEgg – Heat Maps Done Right

There are few marketing analytics insights more valuable than heat map data. Seeing precisely where your users are focusing their attention on your site (among other uses) can provide marketers with remarkable insights into their audience’s behavior.

Marketing analysis tools CrazyEgg

What Does It Do?

CrazyEgg tracks and analyzes user behavior on websites. It tracks which elements of a page users are interacting with, which creates a heat map visualization of this behavior over time. CrazyEgg can also measure the scroll depth of web pages, revealing at what point you begin to lose visitors’ attention. (This is one of the so-called “attention metrics”).

Another really cool feature of CrazyEgg is that it can tell you a great deal about where your clicks came from in the first place. In addition, you can augment your existing audience profile data with information from CrazyEgg, which can offer amazingly granular data and reporting, depending on the plan you opt for (more on this below).

Who Is It For?

If you want to stop guessing what your users are doing and start seeing actual data on what they’re doing, CrazyEgg is for you. Heat maps – and the decisions you can make based upon them – can have an immense impact on your conversion rates, as you can literally see what people are doing on your site, as well as revealing areas that are being ignored.

How Much Does It Cost?

Notably, all CrazyEgg plans are completely free for the first 30 days, which is pretty awesome. Beyond that point, CrazyEgg plans start at $9 per month (paid annually for an up-front one-time yearly payment of $108) for the Basic plan, which includes data for 10,000 visits per month across 10 active pages with daily reporting.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Pro plan costs $99 per month (again, paid annually for an up-front, one-time payment of $1,188) and includes 250,000 visits per month across 100 active pages, hourly reporting, advanced filtering and tons of other cool stuff.

5. BuzzSumo – Laser-Focused Content/Social Analysis

Social media is a fickle mistress indeed, and despite the wealth of tools at our disposal to quantify and measure our social media and content marketing efforts, we still can’t predict The Next Big Thing every time. We can, however, use BuzzSumo to find out what’s really resonating with our audiences, and use that as a starting point.

Marketing analysis tools BuzzSumo

Image via BuzzSumo

What Does It Do?

BuzzSumo is an extremely versatile social media and content analysis dashboard that provides users with data on which topics are trending across all major social media channels. You can analyze data from a range of time periods, from the previous 12 hours or spanning several months. This lets you see at-a-glance which topics in your industry are gaining the most social traction.

BuzzSumo offers a wide range of additional functionality, such as advanced keyword search operators, content type filters, backlink information, and even influencer marketing features. You can then sort and export this data into a spreadsheet-friendly format to examine the data in greater depth or use as the basis for your next content project.

Who Is It For?

Although almost anyone could benefit from being able to distinguish the signal from the noise online, content marketers, social media specialists, and established bloggers will benefit the most from BuzzSumo. WordStream’s Founder and CTO, Larry Kim, is a big fan of BuzzSumo, and uses it frequently to help him keep up with the hottest topics in search and identify new content topics. If you work in content or social, you owe it to yourself to give BuzzSumo a shot.

How Much Does It Cost?

BuzzSumo is available in three tiers of service:

  • Pro – $99 per month
  • Agency – $299 per month
  • Enterprise – $999 per month

BuzzSumo also offers convenient monthly or annual billing options, though paying yearly offers a significant cost savings.

6. Convertable – Go Beyond Form Data

Form data can tell you a lot about your visitors. However, with the “need” for more information comes the temptation to ask too much of your users, potentially alienating them and harming your conversion rate. One analytical tool that might be of help to you if you’re relying on web forms as a means of gathering data is Convertable, a tool that goes much deeper than standard form data.

Marketing analysis tools Convertable

Image via Convertable

What Does It Do?

Convertable analyzes the metadata of your web forms to provide you with a great deal more information about your users than form fields will allow. For example, Convertable will tell you potentially crucial data such as how that person arrived at your site (organic, paid etc.), relevant keywords they used to find you, user location, which pages they viewed (and how long they viewed them), and even the operating system and device they were using – all of which could prove valuable to marketers seeking to gain a greater understanding of their audiences.

Who Is It For?

Anyone who relies on web form data in their marketing campaigns can benefit from Convertable. Advertisers who are sending traffic from PPC ads directly to unique landing pages (e.g. all advertisers, in an ideal world) may get even more out of using this software, due to Convertable’s keyword functionality and compatibility with both search and display campaigns. There’s even a handy WordPress plugin, too, so bloggers can also access this data about their users.

How Much Does It Cost?

Convertable is free to use.

7. Crowdbooster – Social Media Moxie

There are plenty of social media analytics tools out there, but some are better than others. Although many social media marketers rely on Twitter and Facebook’s robust built-in reporting to gain insights into their audience engagement, sometimes these tools feel a little lacking. That’s where Crowdbooster comes in.

Marketing analysis tools Crowdbooster

Image via Crowdbooster

What Does It Do?

Crowdbooster is a social media analytics platform that allows you to see how well your social media campaigns are performing through a series of intuitive, well-designed dashboards. Among the software’s most exciting features is its real-time reporting functionality, which offers up-to-the-second data about who is engaging with your social content, and how.

It doesn’t stop there, however. Crowdbooster also allows you to identify your most engaged fans and followers, and provides recommendations on both how to reach more of these brand evangelists, as well as how to improve the content of your social updates themselves for greater engagement. Of course, Crowdbooster also offers scheduling and automation functionality you’d expect from any social media management platform.

Who Is It For?

Crowdbooster seems best suited to social media professionals who are responsible for managing multiple branded or corporate social media accounts. That said, even small businesses just getting started with social could benefit from the insights offered by Crowdbooster, especially given the tool’s emphasis on targeting high-engagement users and audiences.

How Much Does It Cost?

Crowdbooster plans begin at $9 per month for the Bronze package, which supports one Twitter account, one Facebook profile, one registered user, and analysis of up to 50,000 followers. At the other end of the spectrum, the Gold plan costs $119 per month, and supports 30 social profiles, 30 registered users, and analysis of unlimited fans and followers. Custom plans designed around your specific needs are also available on a bespoke basis.

8. Open Site Explorer – Advanced Link Profile Diagnostics

Nobody knows SEO like our esteemed friends at Moz. Not only is Moz famous for the breadth and depth of its SEO know-how, Moz is also widely respected for its range of software tools, among the best of which is Open Site Explorer, one of the best competitive intelligence tools for SEOs out there.

Marketing analysis tools Moz Open Site Explorer

What Does It Do?

Open Site Explorer (sometimes abbreviated to OSE) is a link analysis tool that examines the link profile of a URL provided by the user. From here, you can examine a wealth of data about your site’s link profile, such as domain and page authority, total number of inbound links, top pages, anchor text, and much more. Virtually everything you need to know about your link profile can be quickly and easily found in OSE, making it almost indispensable to SEOs and marketers seeking to increase their site’s visibility.

Who Is It For?

While novice digital marketers can get a lot out of OSE, professional SEOs are the product’s primary target market, particularly when it comes to OSE’s advanced reporting features. However, content managers and even webmasters may find many of the tools in OSE useful, such as the software’s spam analysis, link opportunity identification, and anchor text optimization tools.

How Much Does It Cost?

The bare-bones functionality of Open Site Explorer is available for free. However, OSE is best used when fully integrated with Moz Pro, Moz’s wider suite of software tools that is available on a subscription basis. Moz Pro plans begin at $99 per month (available in both monthly and yearly billing plans).

22 Aug 15:10

How to be an effective listener

by Catherine McIntyre
Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi.

Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi.

It’s the job of Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi to know what’s going on with his constituents, which means a lot of conversations—and a lot of listening. Here’s what he’s learned from hearing all kinds of feedback from constituents:


“In my job, I have to be ‘on’ all the time. Every trip to the grocery store becomes a town hall meeting on public transit in that neighbourhood. I love it, and we in Canada are so lucky that we live in a place where we can just talk to people in positions of political authority. But if you’re having a tough day, and you just want get through that checkout line and get home with your ice cream, for a second you think, Do I really have to talk to this person? I always have to remind myself that that’s the deal.

“Besides, what’s the alternative, exactly? Am I going to go out in a hat and sunglasses so nobody recognizes me? That’s much worse. If you’re a leader, you’ve rented yourself out to your community, if you will, and it is absolutely people’s right to come and talk to you about this stuff. And, invariably, having a conversation with that person in the checkout line, or wherever it may be, makes me better at what I do.

“A lot of my work before entering politics was in consumer-facing industries, and that experience helps me as mayor—because as a manager, you have to really understand the people who work for you. And that means connecting with people. The answer for me is always: Why not talk to people? Why not ask them what inspires them, what parts of their job they like and don’t like, and how they can add more value in the organization. Leaders in any line of work can do a lot by really listening.”

The post How to be an effective listener appeared first on Canadian Business - Your Source For Business News.

22 Aug 15:10

17 Closing Lines Completely Sabotaging Your Outreach Emails

by afrost@hubspot.com (Aja Frost)

I read more than 100 outreach emails last week looking for examples for a post on powerful closing lines. But instead of inspiration, I mostly found examples of what not to do.

A bad final line can completely wreck your email. Not only is it the last thing your prospect reads, research shows it’s actually the most memorable element of the entire message.

The takeaway: If you want buyers to take you seriously and follow your call-to-action, you can’t screw up the last sentence. Read on for the lines you should never use again.

17 Terrible Email Closing Lines

1) “Is [product] something you’d be interested in?”

The answer might seem obvious to you, but the buyer needs more information before they can definitively say whether your product could be a good fit.

Plus, your email should end with a clear, specific, and relatively simple next step. If you don’t show your prospect a clear way forward, they’re probably not going to take action of their own accord. Buyers usually have multiple tasks and a long queue of other messages to tackle.

That means they don’t have the time or mental energy necessary to figure out their next move with you. Doing so is your responsibility.

2) “I know our product is a perfect solution for your needs.”

It’s pretty rare to have the “perfect” solution for someone’s needs. More likely, your product is the best fit or the strongest option. This sounds like an oversell, which will automatically damage your credibility.

Claiming 100% certainty before you’ve ever spoken with the buyer makes this line even more obnoxious.

3) “You’re probably not struggling with any of these issues. However, if you are, my customers have found that a quick call is the easiest way to determine if we’d be able to help.”

I was baffled to see this line in an outreach email I got last week. If the sales rep doubted that I was experiencing the challenges he’d just named, then why mention them?

This line would have been much stronger if he’d simply written, “If you’re struggling with any of these, my customers have found … ”

4) “If you’re not the best person at [company] to connect with about this, I’d love if you could direct me to the right one.”

There are two major problems with this parting line. One, you should be fairly confident that you’re emailing the right person. If you can’t tell who that is based on job title, use LinkedIn to research their individual responsibilities.

Second, never start a sentence with “I’d love … ” -- or any phrase focused on what you want, for that matter. Sales isn't about the salesperson, it's about the buyer. Don’t ask your prospects to do anything that’s in your best interest rather than theirs.

5) “I look forward to meeting your every need.”

Are you actually going to meet the buyer’s every need? Of course not -- they have a whole range of needs, and you’re trying to help with a specific one.

Promising to solve all of their problems won’t make them like or trust you more, it’ll only make them roll their eyes.

6) “We would be ecstatic to have you as a customer.”

Every interaction with your prospect should feel as natural and comfortable as possible -- and when was the last time you actually referred to yourself as “we” during conversation? Probably never.

As a general rule, you shouldn’t write anything in email you wouldn’t say out loud. Unless you’re genuinely speaking for the company as a whole (for instance, “We help clients improve quality by 10% on average”), use the first person.

Also, steer clear of over-the-top words like “ecstatic,” “thrilled,” or “elated.” People don’t like being pandered to, and these sound hyperbolic.

7) “If there is any more information we can provide, please let us know.”

Prospecting emails should be as short as possible. (After all, you’re working with limited attention spans and frequently, tiny screens.)

Don’t waste valuable real estate telling prospects you’d be happy to send them more information. If you actually want to seem helpful, provide value to them in your email. You’ll make the same point far more convincingly.

8) “Thanks in advance.”

This closing line is guaranteed to grate on your prospect’s nerves. You’re expressing gratitude for something they’ve neither done nor agreed to -- which usually backfires and makes them less inclined to do whatever you’ve asked.

It also makes you look lazy, like you can’t be bothered to thank your prospect until after they've actually fulfilled your ask.

9) “Thanks for your time.”

You won’t offend anyone with this final line, but you won’t impress anyone, either. It’s completely forgettable.

In addition, remember that you’re kicking off a mutually beneficial relationship. “Thanks for your time” makes it seem like the prospect is doing you a favor -- but the value is going to flow both ways.

10) “When, if ever, would be a good time to chat?”

Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by adding “if ever” to your question. If you’ve properly explained the reason you’re reaching out, why you’re doing it now, and how you can provide value to your prospect, anyone who's a good fit should be interested in talking to you.

That doesn’t mean every prospect will take you up on your offer -- but don’t plant the seed in their mind.

11) “When would be a good time to chat?”

Even without the qualifier, this closing line isn’t great. You might think you’re doing your prospect a favor by accommodating her schedule; however, you’re actually creating more work for her.

She’ll need to pull up her calendar, find an open slot, ask if you’re free during that time, and finally, book the meeting. And if you aren’t available, there’ll even more back-and-forth.

Just the thought of all this often exhausts people -- so they’re programmed to reject the offer.

To reduce the cognitive load of your ask, provide specific options like, “Are you free Wednesday at 10 a.m. or Thursday at 2 p.m.?”

Better yet, use the HubSpot Sales Meetings app. Prospects can see your availability and instantly book a mutually compatible time.

12) “Are you free on Thursday at 9:30 a.m. or 11:30 a.m. so I can give you a demo?”

Asking for a demo in your initial email is like the waiter requesting a tip when he seats you: That step will happen, but you have to prove your worth first.

Once you’ve established trust with the buyer and shown them your product’s value, they’ll be eager to look under the hood.

13) ““Are you free on Thursday from 9-10 a.m. so I can walk you through the product?”

If it looks like a demo, sounds like a demo, and acts like a demo ... it’s a demo. Asking a buyer if you can “walk them through the solution,” “give them a tour of the product,” or “see it in action” is a demo request in different words.

Again, right move, wrong time.

14) “When you’ve got the chance, please give me a call at 867-5309.”

This suggested next step is far too vague. Your prospect doesn’t know when you’re free to talk on the phone, so they’re probably not going to call.

And if they do, and you’re already talking to someone? Now you’ve extended the process of connecting by anywhere from a couple hours to a couple weeks, since you need to reconvene and find a time that works for both of you.

Fortunately, you can dramatically shrink the timeline by giving them a couple dates and times to speak.

15) “I look forward to hearing back from you at your earliest convenience.”

If only instilling urgency in your prospect was this simple.

Unfortunately, this line isn’t just ineffective -- it also sounds presumptuous. The buyer has no idea whether your product is a good fit for their needs, so they’re probably not dropping everything to return your email. Assuming you’ll get a response “at their earliest convenience” screams arrogance.

16) "Are you open to learning more about [company] and our capabilities?"

It doesn't matter who the recipient is or what they do, the answer to this question is "no." Your prospect may be interested in getting unique data, competitive intelligence, or surprising insights from you ... which will potentially lead to a conversation about your product and how it can help them accomplish their business goals.

But notice the focus is about the buyer, not you. Take a "me first" approach, and you're guaranteed to be denied.

17) "Let me know if I can get on your dance card this week."

Being a bit cheeky can help you break through the noise and show your prospect you're not just a robot programmed to sell, but a real person with a sense of humor. This line, however, goes over the line from "funny" to "awkward."

I also came across an email that ended with, "You're the cool girl at the party I've always wanted to talk to. Make my dreams and schedule a call?" Again, while being memorable is a good thing, this salesperson had taken things too far.

If you're ever unsure whether your humor is inappropriate, leave the joke out. Better safe than sorry.

Recovering from a bad first impression is nearly impossible. So don’t set yourself up to fail: Remove these cringe-worthy lines from your outreach emails right away.

To learn what you should say instead, check out these email closing lines and email sign offs that'll make a powerful impression on prospects.

Free Sales Training from HubSpot Academy

22 Aug 15:04

Value as a Service: ultimate battleground for software companies

Business leaders making customer-facing decisions must read “Value as a Service: Embracing the Coming Disruption.” The author shares information about this disruptive business model.

Keep on reading: Value as a Service: ultimate battleground for software companies
22 Aug 15:04

Marketo Got Sold What Does This Mean For Industry?

by Hlib Nikk

Marketo, a leading marketing software giant has been acquired by a private equity firm Vista Equity Partners in an all-cash deal of $1.79 billion. Founded by Phil Fernandez and Jon Miller in 2006, Marketo offers a range of cloud-based marketing services like lead management, email marketing, mobile marketing, consumer marketing, etc. It has customers ranging from startups to tech giants such as GE and Microsoft.

marketo-sold

Marketo was listed on NASDAQ in 2013, however, with this acquisition, it will be delisted and its ownership will become private again. In 2015, the company earned a revenue of $210 million from 4600 customers. Although the company has been operating at a loss, its revenue has been growing at around 40% year-on-year. Its valuation is almost twice of Eloqua, which was acquired by Oracle not long ago. Recently, Salesforce bought Dreamware, a SaaS e-commerce company for around $2.18 billion. These deals and valuations clearly indicate the robustness of Software-as-a-Service business model.

3 Important Insights From Marketo’s Deal

1. No Significant Impact On Marketo’s Customers

This deal is a private equity transaction and not a strategic acquisition. Therefore, no significant technology migration is expected in short to medium term for its clients. It means that the acquisition will not have a major technological impact on Marketo’s customers, at least in the near future.

2. Staying Privately Owned Is Good

Publicly traded corporations experience a lot of undue pressure in the short term. Sometimes emotions and perceptions play much bigger roles in the stock performance of a company than its business model.

Marketo was operating at a loss and predicted that it would continue to do so for the next few years. It is working on a next-generation marketing technology called Orion Project. Through private equity investment, the company will have sufficient capital to focus on breakthrough enterprise platforms and thus would have a competitive edge over other players. Marketo could not do this effectively if they continue to be a publicly traded corporation because of high pressure of delivering quarter-on-quarter growth numbers and other short-term pressures.

3. Consolidation Is In The Offing

Marketing technology industry is still in its nascent stage. The penetration of marketing automation among small businesses is very low. Most of the small business owners are willing to invest in performance marketing.

However, they don’t have time to compare thousands of options before getting hitched to one platform that delivers desired results. Also, they just don’t want to deal with multiple vendors to execute their marketing campaign. That is why the role of integrated and automation marketing software in the small business segment is becoming increasingly important.

It requires Marketing SaaS providers to develop intuitive software that includes most of the features that can make a real difference to businesses. This will lead to consolidation in marketing technology industry. Marketo acquisition is a clear sign of beginning of consolidation that is going to take place in marketing automation.

Conclusion

The operating cost of software-as-a-service has gone down significantly. However, the associated costs are still not zero. It requires a lot of investment and years of hard work to create a platform that does something meaningful to businesses. Thus as a SaaS company, if you aim for higher valuation, create a complete system that adds real value to the busiest people.

22 Aug 14:58

Lean Communication for Sales – Book Review

by Tibor Shanto

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

Communication is central to sales success; we have all seen brilliant people with vast knowledge who are challenged in sharing their knowledge due to an inability to communicate.  Closer to home, we have all seen how the quality of communication can make or break a deal.  All the more reason why Jack Malcolm’s new book Lean Communication for Sales, is a must read for sales people and their managers.

Straight off the top, Jack posses the following question: Would your prospects and customers pay to talk to you?  Regardless of how you answer this question today, you will be in a better position to answer and act after you read this book.

Jack how and why to make the answer affirmative every time.  The only way prospects and clients will pay to talk to you, is if they know you will bring them useful ideas to improve their business outcomes without wasting their time.

One of the recurring themes in the B2B sales world is the idea that salespeople are an endangered species, because buyers have so many alternative sources that they can tap into, to get the information they need to make the right purchase decision. But with the entire world clamoring for their attention, it’s no wonder that buyers put off talking to salespeople for as long as they can.


Talk less, Sell more -
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In fact, it is precisely because there is so much information available and so many voices clamoring for the attention of your target prospect, they will welcome a trusted voice who will give them just what they need when they need it without wasting their precious time.

Jack Malcolm’s Lean Communication for Sales, will help you to develop and become that trusted voice, by showing how to communicate more value in fewer words—and become a valuable asset to your prospects. As a B2B sales professional, your role is to deliver the information and insights buyers need to make the best possible decision.

Lean Communication for Sales will help you communicate higher value with less waste by applying the principles of lean thinking to your sales communication process. You will be able to apply 9 powerful ideas as simply as ABCD:

  1. Add value: Leave your customers better off by Answering the Question that is on every buyer’s mind, and using Outside-in Thinking to communicate what they value the most.
  2. Brevity: Save time and boost credibility by putting your Bottom Line Up Front, and use the So What filter to eliminate clutter.
  3. Clarity: Ensure that your message is heard, understood, and remembered through Transparent Structure, Candor, and User-friendly Language.
  4. Dialogue: Co-create value with your buyer through effective dialogue, using Just-in-time Communication and Lean Listening.

The idea is simple, talk less, sell more: executing is a bit different.  Now you can improve the quality of your customer conversations with Lean Communication for Sales!

Become one of the thousands of sales professionals receiving my latest updates on sales execution, tools, tips and more.   

Join Now!

The post Lean Communication for Sales – Book Review appeared first on Renbor Sales Solutions Inc..

22 Aug 14:58

60+ LinkedIn Profile Tips for Marketers

by Lisa Dougherty

linkedin-tips-marketers

Content marketing careers are constantly evolving, but one thing is certain: The power of LinkedIn for personal branding is here to stay, especially when you’re aware of all the tricks that can help you strengthen your profile.

If your “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” chart is flatlining week after week, these tips will help breathe new life into your profile, improve your presence in search results, generate more views, and impress your audience.

Finish your profile

According to LinkedIn, users with complete profiles are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities such as job offers, mentors, or new business. Your LinkedIn profile is your digital resume. You can add more detail than you can on your printed resume. It will set you apart from your competition.

To achieve unofficial “all-star” status, include:

• Your industry and location
• Current position, including description
• Two past positions
• Education
• A minimum of three skills
• At least 50 connections

Bonus tips:

  • Don’t get too creative in the name field, but add professional credentials, suffixes, and designations (i.e., MBA, Jr., PMP).
  • Don’t use symbols, numbers, special characters, email addresses, or phone numbers in the name field because that could prompt LinkedIn to restrict your account.
  • Name field character limit: 60

Add a headshot that reflects your industry

A photo puts a face to a name so you’re not just another silhouette. It helps establish trust. A photo makes your profile seven times more likely to be found in a LinkedIn search.


A photo makes your profile 7x more likely to be found in a LinkedIn search via @LinkedIn. #LinkedIn
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What’s acceptable? If you’re a creative director, you might want an edgier photo, as compared to a CMO who might want a more traditional pose. CMI’s community manager Monina Wagner’s photo radiates her personality, making her likability factor skyrocket.

monina-wagner-profile-photo-screenshot-example

Whatever you do, don’t use a selfie, company logo, you with your furry friend (unless you are a veterinarian), or your #TBT college photo. These types of images could damage your personal brand. If someone wouldn’t recognize you at a professional event based on your profile image, change it.


If your #LinkedIn profile photo is outdated, change it says @Brandlovellc.
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Bonus tips:

  • Be mindful of your background. Using a bright color (like orange) will help you stand out from the crowd, especially in a thumbnail view. See what I mean?

michele-linn-thumbnail-view-profile-photo-linkedin

  • Use the same image on all social media channels to help build your personal brand.
  • Headshot pixel size: 400 by 400 is ideal. Width or height cannot exceed 20,000. File size cannot exceed 10MB.

How to do it:

  • Move your cursor over Profile at the top of the home page and select Edit Profile. Move your cursor over your photo and click Change Photo.

Incorporate branding into your background photo

Your background photo is like a billboard for you. Use it to generate interest, build credibility and trust, and give your audience a quick glance at who you are, what you do, and why they would want to connect with you. Use the space wisely.

For example, if you are an author or consultant, include your book covers. Doing so will help position you as a thought leader and help build credibility. Check out the profile of CMI’s Robert Rose.

robert-rose-background-photo-linkedin

If you want to promote your company, include a branded image like the example below from CMI’s Michele Linn.

michele-linn-linkedin-profile-background-photo

Or show your company pride as Amy Horgan does in her background photo.

amy-horgan-background-photo-linkedin-example

Bonus tips:

  • Consider these things when designing your background photo:
    • Creating a collage (see Robert’s photo)
    • Advertising an employer event (see Michele’s photo)
    • Showing your company pride (see Amy’s photo)
  • Creating custom art is always best if you have design capabilities or can hire a pro.
  • If you don’t have budget and don’t have time or the skill to create custom art, LinkedIn premium members (paid accounts) have access to an image gallery. Choose industry-related art. LinkedIn offers a free one-month trial. (You’ll also be able to see exactly who your competition is in “how you rank for profile views.”)
  • If your photo is blurry or pixelated, LinkedIn recommends using a compression tool such as Trimage for Windows or ImageOptim for Mac before uploading it.
  • Background image pixel size: Between 1,000 by 425 and 4,000 by 4,000 is ideal. File size cannot exceed 4MB.

How to do it:

  • Hover your mouse over the background area (in the middle) and click on the Edit Background rectangular button that pops up.

Use keywords in your headline

Your headline — the text below your name — is prime real estate. The LinkedIn algorithm seems to consider it one of the few heavily weighted areas in search, and it is one of the first things your audience sees.

Your headline defaults to your current or last position. Customize it. Tell the world (specifically your target audience) who you are and what you do:

  • Be descriptive and use keywords that uniquely define you.
  • Include your city to help your profile stand out 23 times more.
  • Support what your headline says throughout your profile.
  • Use searched-for words like: content strategist, B2B blogger, author, content creator, social media community manager, or content marketer. Pamela Muldoon’s headline is a great example.

Include your city to help your profile stand out 23x more in location-based searches via @LinkedIn
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pamela-muldoon-headline-example

  • Promote your value proposition. Here’s an example: Proven Program Manager | Demand Generation Expert ► Driving Brand Awareness Through Integrated Marketing Campaigns

amy-horgan-headline-example-linkedin-example-001

Bonus tips:

  • Don’t use words like ninja, guru, super star or rock star. Instead of saying you are great, demonstrate it in your profile.
  • Use keywords that your target audience would use to find someone like you. Incorporate them in your headline and summary description.
  • If you need help finding relevant keywords, use the free Google AdWords tool even though it’s not directly connected to LinkedIn search.
  • Headline character limit: 120

How to do it:

  • Go to your profile, move your cursor over your professional headline section (or any section) and click to add, edit, or remove content.

Tell your work story in your summary

Think of your summary as your elevator pitch. Brag about yourself, but keep it real and back up your claims throughout your profile.

While not talking specifically about LinkedIn, Jonathan Kranz’s advice applies to your summary: “Facts, figures, concrete examples — these are fundamental pillars for good content.”


Facts, figures, & concrete examples are fundamental pillars for good #content says @jonkranz
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Follow this approach to a well-crafted summary:

  • Say things like “award-winning” if you have won awards.
  • Cite publications where you’ve contributed articles.
  • List the industries in which you have expertise.
  • Add an “areas of expertise” section to incorporate relevant keywords that describe your skill set.

Dianna Huff, president of Huff Industrial Marketing, makes great use of her summary section:

dianna-huff-summary-example-linkedin

Bonus tips:


Add personality to your @LinkedIn summary says @brandlovellc. 87% of recruiters are looking for it.
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  • Summary character count: 2,000 — use them all if possible (Write a summary of at least 40 words to rank higher.)
  • Use bullets and/or symbols, in your summary section to stand out but use them conservatively. Feel free to copy and paste the symbols and bullets for your profile.

Arrows

►    ◄    ▲    ▼    ⇒  ⇓  ⇔   ⇕   ⇖   ⇗   ⇘   ⇙   ⇚   ⇛

Stars

★    ☆     ✱     ❉     ❊

Traditional bullets and ticks

■    □     ◊    ●    ♦    ◘    √

Miscellaneous symbols

™    ©    ®    ℠

Email

✍     ✎   ✑     ⌨

Phone

✆    ☏

Horizontal lines (copy and paste the lines several times)

☲☲☲☲☲☲☲☲☲☲☲☲☲☲☲☲☲☲☲☲☲☲

▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

How to do it:

  • Go to your profile, move your cursor over your summary section (or any section) and click to add, edit, or remove content.

Create a vanity URL

Your profile’s default URL doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Create an easy-to-understand URL. Customize like I did: http://www.linkedin.com/in/lisadougherty. This URL is far more SEO friendly.

Bonus tips:

  • Include your custom URL in your email signature, resume, blog, etc.
  • Vanity URL character limit: Recommended to use between five and 30 — don’t use spaces, symbols, or special characters.

How to do it:

  • Change your URL by clicking “customize your public profile URL” on the right. You can learn more about the process here.

customize-vanity-url

Add work samples

Images, media, and documents make your profile stand out and support the claims you’ve made in your summary. For example, if your summary or headline says you are a sought-after speaker, author, or consultant, upload examples that demonstrate your experience like Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group, did:

michael-brenner-media-example-linkedin

Another great example is from Roger Parker, publisher, blogger, and author. He includes a few SlideShare presentations, articles, and a book excerpt.

roger-parker-media-samples

Bonus tips:

  • Find a couple statements in your summary to represent visually. Have you contributed to an industry blog or written a post for your company? Have you given a talk or presentation? Share the link, badge from the site, slides, or video.

Buddy Scalera shares a link from an article he contributed to the CMI blog.

buddy-scalera-media-samples

  • Use Internet Explorer, as I’ve had trouble doing this in Chrome.

How to do it:

  • Add media samples to your summary, education, and experience sections on your profile by moving your cursor over each section and clicking the “add media” icon.
  • Ensure that your video, audio, and images are on the list of supported file types that your profile can link to.

Publish directly from your profile

Writing long-form posts on LinkedIn can entice viewers to stick around to read what you have to say. It also helps you be seen as an influencer to a targeted audience — your connections.

You also expand your reach to the first-degree connections of anyone who engages with your post — a previously unreachable audience. Plus, LinkedIn automatically sends a push notification to all your connections notifying them of your post, reducing your content distribution efforts.

Bonus tips:

  • Create a short, catchy title. Paul Shapiro of Search Wilderness found that titles between 40 and 49 characters received the greatest number of views.

#LinkedIn titles between 40 – 49 characters received the greatest number of views says @fighto
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  • Add a custom image to your post. (LinkedIn adds the three most recent posts to your profile.)
  • Don’t publish anything that is self-serving. Provide high-quality, relevant content to your audience that will help them solve a problem or inspire an aha moment. Make it useful to the reader, as CMI’s Cathy McPhillips does:

cathy-mcphillips-linkedin-self-publishing

  • Include a clear call to action at the end of your post. Ask your readers a question to encourage them to comment. If your post earns comments, “likes,” and shares, it has a better chance to be featured on LinkedIn Pulse, expanding the reach of your content to the potential of millions of views.
  • Send a tweet to Tip@LinkedInPulse with your post to improve the odds a LinkedIn editor will see it. One of Cathy’s posts was featured in the marketing and advertising category.

cathy-mcphillips-linkedin-pulse-screenshot

How to do it:

  • Learn how to publish long-form content on LinkedIn.
  • Not all geographic locations have this capability at this time. You’ll see a Publish a post button on your home page when you have access.

Complete your contact information

Make it easy for people to contact you. At the bare minimum, you should include your email, location, Twitter handle, and website address. If you don’t have a personal website, include your company’s, your blog, or your LinkedIn company page. The Contact Info tab is under your connections number on the right side of the top half of your profile.

Bonus tips:

  • Display up to three website links customized with your company or blog name. For example, rather than choosing LinkedIn’s standard “blog” label, brand it with keywords that indicate what your blog is about, like BrandLove Social Media Blog or Follow BrandLove on LinkedIn. This optimizes your profile and drives traffic to your other online properties.

lisa-dougherty-contact-info-example

  • Website anchor text character limit: 30
  • Website URL character limit: 256
  • Phone number character limit: 25 (only first-degree connections see)
  • Street address character limit: 1,000 (only first-degree connections see)

How to do it:

  • Customize the links by editing your profile, clicking edit on your website links, and selecting “other” in the drop-down menu to customize the anchor text.

Complete your experience section

At the bare minimum, include your current position, industry, and dates of employment. LinkedIn members with current positions receive up to five times more connection requests. Also, include a high-level summary of what your role is and some key achievements. A good rule of thumb is two to four sentences to summarize each job (plus bulleted achievements).

Amy Horgan’s experience section is a great example of describing her role and work achievements:

amy-horgan-experience-linkedin-example (2)

Bonus tips:

  • Link to projects, courses, certificates, honors and awards, work samples, recommendations elsewhere in your profile that relate to the position. This is more proof that you are who you say you are.
  • Add your work history, not just your current job. You never know what criteria people are looking for.
  • Customize your job title and company name so it’s more descriptive. You don’t have to use the default, as shown in Dianna Huff’s profile.

dianna-huff-experience-linkedin-example

How to do it:

Get written recommendations

While LinkedIn no longer requires three recommendations to have a complete status, it still is important to have them from colleagues, management, people you manage, vendors, or customers. Recommendations show up underneath each position for which they are written along with a thumbnail profile photo of the person who wrote it.

Bonus tips:

  • Be specific when requesting a recommendation. Suggest points that:
    • Qualify your relationship by including how long you have known each other and describing your relationship.
    • Describe a project that you worked on together.
    • Note if they would work with you again or to provide their contact information for more information.
  • Have at least two or three recommendations for each position.
  • Solicit C-suite endorsements, which could do more for your brand than 10 recommendations from colleagues.
  • Gain additional exposure when the recommendations appear in your connections’ news feeds.

C-suite recommendations will do more for you than 10 from colleagues via @brandlovellc. #LinkedIn
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How to do it:

Add skills and get endorsements

Endorsements are one-click acknowledgments of your talents from your network. They also affect your ranking in LinkedIn’s search algorithm. Having at least five relevant skills help people connect you to opportunities. According to a LinkedIn study, inclusion of these skills will result in up to 31 times more messages from recruiters and other members.

For example, I have 99-plus people who have endorsed me for social media marketing. When a hiring manager or recruiter is searching for people with the skill “social media marketing,” my profile is more likely to come up on the first few pages of the search results.

lisa-dougherty-skills-endorsements

Bonus tips:

  • Rearrange your skills in the order you prefer. Drag and drop the skills that match your work experience the best (and number of endorsements) near the top.
  • Endorsing your connections’ skills first encourages them to endorse you. (LinkedIn notifies them that you have endorsed them.)
  • Don’t send a mass email asking for endorsements. Segment your network according to how you met them or what industry they’re in. Write a personal e-mail telling them why you feel they best understand your expertise in (fill in the blank) and that you would appreciate an endorsement — if they feel you deserve it.

How to do it:

Showcase the extras

Volunteer experience and causes you care about

What you do out of the office says a lot about you and contributes to a higher search ranking. In fact, 42% of hiring managers said they view volunteer experience equal to formal work experience. Also, viewers may want to connect with you if they are passionate about some of the same causes. Take a look at Monina Wagner’s profile.

monina-wagner-volunteer-causes-linkedin-example

Organizations

Adding organizations and professional memberships are another way to incorporate keywords into your profile and show viewers your commitment to your craft, as shown in Dianna Huff’s profile. They also can boost location-based searches.

dianna-huff-organization-example-linkedin

Publications

The Publications section is the perfect place to link to your contributed blog articles, e-books, and other cited work. Take a look at Buddy Scalera’s profile. He links directly to Amazon where you can purchase his book. Brilliant.

buddy-scalera-publications-linkedin-example

Courses

If you don’t have a degree or certification that reflect your experience but have taken professionally related classes or received on-the-job training, showcase those in the Courses section.

lisa-dougherty-courses-linkedin-example

Certifications

If you have some college education but didn’t finish, add any industry-specific training you have completed in the Certifications section. Include a link to allow viewers to learn more.

certifications-linkedin-example

How to do it:

  • Go to your profile, move your cursor over each section and click to add, edit, or remove content. Click on the View More button to see all the profile sections available.

 Add projects

Adding a Projects section allows you to name your project and input a URL so viewers can click to see what you did and give the originating site an inbound link. You can specifically relate your project to a position that you currently hold or to a previous position.

Bonus tips:

  • Add side or personal projects. Andrew Hanelly, creative director at Rev, says, “Usually, marketing job applicants emphasize the wrong details to an agency or brand. They focus on work experience, but what I get excited about are side projects. One amazing hire had a Tumblr (account); it was just a small note on his resume, but I found out he had about 100,000 followers, and I recruited him based on that.”
  • Add team members if you are connected to the project collaborators.

lisa-dougherty-projects-example-linkedin

How to do it:

  • Add sections for projects by moving your cursor over each section and click Projects to add content. Click on the View More button to see all the profile sections available.

Join groups

Join groups related to your industry or niche and be an active participant in two or three. Only 16% of LinkedIn members are in the maximum number of groups (50). According to LinkedIn, your profile is five times more likely to be viewed if you join and are active in groups.


According to @LinkedIn, your profile is 5x more likely to be viewed if you join & are active in groups.
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When participating in group discussions, remember that groups are about community not about you or your services. Andrew Davis generally suggests sharing four relevant pieces of content from influencer targets and one original educational piece of content for every sales-related piece of content.


For every 1 sales-related content piece, share 4 from influencers & 1 original educational. @DrewDavisHere
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Bonus tips:

  • Directly message a member of the same group, bypassing the first-degree connection requirement.
  • View profiles of members of the same group without being connected.
  • Read these best practices on group participation so you don’t get sent to LinkedIn jail.

How to do it:

  • Find and join a group by searching for relevant groups from the search field at the top of your home page.

Rearrange your profile

LinkedIn enables you to reorder the sections of its profile template. For example, Vishal Khanna moved up his Honors and Awards section to directly below his Summary section.

vishal-khanna-rearrange-profile-example-linkedin

Bonus tip:

  • You only have a short time to impress your viewer. What are you most proud of? Awards? Skills? A SlideShare presentation? If you’re a recent grad and don’t have robust experience, move Education to the top. Rearrange your profile so your most important work is at the top.

How to do it:

  • LinkedIn provides instructions on how to change the order of sections on your profile page.

Change your public profile settings

Once you’re satisfied that your LinkedIn profile is the best version of yourself and all sections are complete, choose to show all sections or just a few by adjusting your public setting. Setting your profile to full public view gives you several advantages:

  • Your LinkedIn profile will appear when anyone searches for you on Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc.
  • It can be displayed to LinkedIn members who email or have meetings with you if they connected their email or calendar apps to their LinkedIn account.
  • You can print your profile to a PDF format.

Bonus tip:

  • Including most sections of your profile adds credibility to your profile when potential hiring managers are trying to determine the credibility of a potential candidate or execs looking to do business with you.

How to do it:

  • Go to your profile, and click the “settings” icon next to your URL. Next, click on the pencil icon to edit. Make sure that you enable the setting that allows anyone to see your public profile.

lisa-dougherty-public-profile

Build your network

Once your profile is in good shape, work on building your network — not only does this help you grow your connections, it also helps you get found more through search. It makes good sense to surround yourself with good company. Start building up your network with vendors, industry influencers, friends, coworkers, and former coworkers to build up your personal brand. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • When asking to connect with someone, use “we’ve done business together” rather than “friend.” Do some quick research before reaching out and include a personal note that explains how you know the person, or where you met, or who you have in common. For example, let them know you just purchased their book, are in the same group, or saw them speak at a conference.
  • Beware. If you invite too many people to your network and they mark your invitation as someone they do not know, you will be banned from inviting new people to your network unless you know their email address. LinkedIn doesn’t say specifically how many is too many, but I’ve heard between five to seven “I don’t knows” triggers restriction.
  • You are allotted 3,000 invites and required to enter a Captcha (verifying you’re human) for each invite over 100 sent in 24 hours.

Bonus tip:

  • LinkedIn has a feature that allows you to segment your connections. Once you’ve made the connection, make sure you “tag” them into certain folders. This turns LinkedIn into a powerful CRM tool that allows you to target messages to individuals or groups of people. There isn’t an easy way to go back and tag your contacts except one by one, so I highly recommend doing this each time you add a connection.

aaron-orendorff-crm-tool-example-linkedin

How to do it:

  • You can tag or untag anyone who’s saved in your LinkedIn Contacts. They can be added to a person’s profile or from your Connections.

Conclusion

With over 433 million members and recognition as the go-to social media platform for professionals, LinkedIn cannot be ignored. A lively and comprehensive profile can be your ticket to a plethora of opportunities that will come knocking on your virtual door. If you follow these tips, you’re well on your way to making a killer first impression and your Who’s Viewed Your Profile chart will no longer be flatlining week after week.

How has your LinkedIn profile helped your personal branding? What opportunities have you seen because of it?

Want to continue building your personal brand and expand your content marketing skills? Subscribe to CMI’s daily newsletter with tips, trends, how-to, insight, and more.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

The post 60+ LinkedIn Profile Tips for Marketers appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.

22 Aug 14:50

A Refresher on Marketing Myopia

by Amy Gallo
aug16-22-hbr-paul-garbett-marketing-01
Paul Garbett for HBR

Every year, a large majority of product launches fail. There’s debate about exactly what percentage—some say it is 75%, others claim it’s closer to 95%. Regardless of which number is right, there is no doubt that a lot of time and energy go into marketing products that will no longer exist in a year. Why is this? Some of the failure is likely attributable to the fact that many company leaders, including executives, have what’s called marketing myopia—a nearsighted focus on selling products and services, rather than seeing the “big picture” of what consumers really want.

I talked with John Deighton, a professor at Harvard Business School and an authority on consumer behavior and marketing, to better understand this classic concept, its origins, and its relevance to organizations today.

Where did the concept originate?

The term was coined by the late Harvard Business School marketing professor, Theodore Levitt, in a 1960 article by the same name (republished in 2004). The “heart of the article,” according to Deighton, is Levitt’s argument that companies are too focused on producing goods or services and don’t spend enough time understanding what customers want or need. Therefore, he “encouraged executives to switch from a production orientation to a consumer orientation.” As Levitt used to tell his students, “People don’t want a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”

“The genius of the original article is that it is so easy to be myopic when it comes to marketing,” says Deighton. “Any marketer is obligated to be concerned with programs, tactics, campaigns, etc. Unfortunately, the clock never stops long enough to answer the question, ‘Why are you doing what you are doing?’ So it’s far too easy to lose sight of the big picture.” The other thing that made the article so significant at the time of its publication is that it reminded CEOs that marketing is part of their job: “[Levitt] tells the leader of the organization: you are in business because you have a customer. Therefore you have to think about marketing,” Deighton explains.

What is marketing myopia?

The myopia that Levitt describes is a lack of insight into what a business is doing for its customers. Organizations invest so much time, energy, and money in what they currently do that they’re often blind to the future. They get lulled into thinking they’re in a “growth industry,” which, according to Levitt, don’t exist. Instead, there are really only companies continuously capitalizing on growth opportunities.

There are several examples in the article that illustrate the main concept, that your product is not your business. Perhaps the most famous is the railroad lines, which Levitt argues fell into steep decline because they thought they were in the train business rather than the transportation business. If those leaders had seen themselves as helping customers get from one place to another, they might’ve expanded the business into other forms of transportation like cars, trucks, or airplanes. Unfortunately, they let other companies seize those opportunities and steal away their passengers instead.

Luckily, there is a cure for marketing myopia. Levitt suggests that leaders ask themselves: What business are we really in? Deighton says that the best way for leaders to answer that question is by asking themselves another: What are we really doing for the customer? Successful companies focus on customer needs, not their own products and services, which can—and will—be replaced by competitive alternatives, either ones they make themselves or those produced by existing or potential competitors.

How relevant is it today?

Deighton says the idea of marketing myopia is “still very applicable” today, “in part because the original idea wasn’t very prescriptive. Levitt didn’t offer ‘ten steps to eliminate marketing myopia’. Instead, he was all about provoking people to think differently.” In fact, Deighton still uses the concept frequently when he introduces what marketing is to business school students.

And you don’t have to look very far to see companies or industries that are suffering from this malady today. Deighton points to an example close to home for this writer: the publishing industry. He suggests that it’s time for publishers to ask Levitt’s central question: What business are we really in? “There seems to be a myopic attachment to the word ‘publish’ that is a production-oriented take on the industry. But what are customers really looking for?” They don’t want newspapers or magazines, he says. “They want to be entertained, informed, stimulated, by people more interesting than their friends and acquaintances,” he argues. “Only a production-oriented publisher would defend the form of delivery over the value of the experience it delivers.”

There are, of course, contemporary companies that are taking Levitt’s advice to heart. Deighton points to IBM Interactive Experience, IBM’s consultancy that combines analytics, design, and technology (and brings in $2 billion in revenue) as an “attempt to think past what they produce and say, ‘we’re not in the business of information processing, we’re delivering the communications that are valued by consumers.’”

How has marketing myopia evolved?

The concept has stayed in tact over the last 50-plus years. Deighton says that that is because the original article was like a “polemic, almost like a religion. And any attempts to augment, complicate, or interfere with the polemic don’t work.” The idea has become the foundation of modern marketing.

That’s not to say it doesn’t have its limits. In 2010, Craig Smith at INSEAD, Minette Drumwright at UT Austin, and Mary Gentile at Babson, published a paper called “The New Marketing Myopia.” They posited that marketers have taken Levitt’s advice to an extreme, creating a new kind of short sightedness, marked by a single-minded focus on the customer, a narrow definition of the customer, and a failure to address the multiple stakeholders who have arisen out of the “changed societal context of business”. There is no doubt that Levitt believed the entire corporation must be viewed as a customer-creating and customer-satisfying organism, and Deighton admits that this is one of the potential pitfalls of Levitt’s original idea: it “puts great trust in the consumer.” In his original article, Levitt acknowledged how difficult it can be to listen to customers; he wrote: “Consumers are unpredictable, varied, fickle, stupid, shortsighted, stubborn, and generally bothersome.” But Smith, Drumwright, and Gentile go even further, arguing that it’s not just about listening to consumers but about hearing all of the stakeholders who contribute to your company’s success, such as employees, suppliers, shareholders, competitors, media, and community members.

Deighton says that the concept of “industries” has also been challenged over the last decade or so. The industry a company is in today may not be the same one it’s in next year: “In today’s very fluid times, it’s more accurate to say ‘eco-system.’ Disruptions are constantly challenging the stability of industries.” Take programmatic ad buying. As Deighton explains. “People who apply technology to ad targeting don’t necessarily think they are in a particular industry. They recognize that the product will change, the medium will change, everything on the production side is in play. The only constant is the consumer need they fill.”

Marketing myopia remains an important reminder of the risks your company runs if you don’t pay close attention to your consumers’ needs. Levitt believed that executives couldn’t predict the future—and shouldn’t try. Instead, by concentrating on meeting customer needs rather than on selling products—by always keeping in mind the business that they’re really in—companies could be better prepared for whatever the future would bring.

22 Aug 14:49

Liz Weston: Secrets of next-door millionaires

by CB Staff

The way most Americans build wealth is no secret: Save, invest, repeat. How average people keep their wealth, though, gets a lot less attention.

It boils down to how they handle risk. It’s hard to accumulate wealth without taking some risks, but there are perils that “next-door millionaires” seem to avoid.

Next-door millionaires weren’t born into wealth. They haven’t invented killer apps or won the lottery, exercised a pile of stock options or played professional sports. They’re the majority of millionaires, and they include teachers, small business owners and professionals who accumulate wealth gradually over time. They’re often in their 50s or 60s before their net worth ticks over to seven digits.

Research into how they think and act can give other regular folks some good insights. Here are some rules of thumb you might consider applying to your own finances.

FOLLOW THE ‘ONE HOUSE, ONE SPOUSE’ RULE

Marriage can really benefit your financial life. People who get and stay married tend to be much wealthier than never-married singles, according to research by Jay Zagorsky at Ohio State University. By retirement age, married people have nearly 10 times the financial assets of singles, according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

But divorce can dramatically shrink your wealth. Zagorsky found that people who split up experience an average wealth drop of 77 per cent. So while the uber-rich may be able to divorce and remarry with relative impunity, dividing assets can be wickedly costly for everyone else.

Sticking with one house can pay off, too. Every time you sell a house and buy another, you’re giving up a chunk of your wealth to commissions and moving costs. Trading up also means staying in debt longer if you take on a new, 30-year mortgage with each purchase. If your home has appreciated substantially, you also may owe capital gains taxes on the sale. (The first $250,000 of home sale profit is exempt for singles, or $500,000 for a couple.)

If instead you keep the house and bequeath it to your heirs, it gets an updated value for tax purposes, and that gain is income-tax free. Paying off a single mortgage over time, or refinancing only to shorter-term loans, can leave you with a ton of equity that you can borrow against in an emergency or use to help finance your retirement.

TAKE RISKS, BUT DON’T GAMBLE

“Safe” investments don’t get you anywhere. The returns on Treasury bills and bank accounts insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. don’t even keep up with inflation, so you’re actually losing wealth over time. But next-door millionaires aren’t speculators, either. Millionaire portfolios tend to be widely diversified, with investments in stock funds, bonds, cash and real estate.

The most popular investment choice? Low-cost Vanguard index funds, according to the 2014 CNBC Millionaire Survey.

TEACH YOUR CHILDREN WELL

Some people question the value of a college education, but in wealthy families, it’s usually a given, says Myra Salzer, an inheritance coach and founder of the Wealth Conservancy in Boulder, Colorado. Nine out of 10 millionaires surveyed by BMO Private Bank in 2013 had a college degree and over half had a professional or graduate degree. (For comparison, just 36 per cent of people ages 25 to 29 had college degrees in 2015 and only 9 per cent had graduate degrees, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.)

Eight out of 10 millionaires told the 2014 CNBC Millionaire Survey that wealth inequality was due at least in part to wealthier families’ greater access to education. Encouraging your kids to go to college, and helping to pay for it if possible, could help your kids get on the right side of the have versus have not divide.

DON’T DIY YOUR MONEY

Seven out of 10 millionaires surveyed by the Spectrem Group in 2014 used financial advisers. Many said the primary benefits were improving their knowledge of investing, having access to a wider range of investment opportunities and boosting their returns. Also on the list: peace of mind and being able to delegate to experts.

You don’t necessarily need a fleet of advisers, attorneys and tax pros, especially if you don’t have a lot of money. But expert guidance is available in many forms. You can, for example, use the target-date retirement fund options in your workplace 401(k) or opt for an automated financial adviser that uses computer algorithms to invest and rebalance your money.

These approaches tend to be carefully designed and executed with an eye toward balancing risk and return. They’re far more likely to help you build your wealth than your own efforts to pick stocks, since most investors fail to beat the markets.

A BIG TAX BILL MEANS YOU’RE WINNING

In fact, a tax bill of any size means you’re doing better than a lot of Americans. A large chunk of U.S. households — 45.3 per cent, according to the latest Tax Policy Center estimate — don’t pay federal income tax because they don’t have enough taxable income. (Some still owe state taxes, and most who have jobs pay Social Security and Medicare taxes.)

The loathing some people have for taxes can lead them to do pretty stupid things with their money. They might buy variable annuities to defer taxes, not realizing that excessive fees can erode their returns and that they could pay more in taxes in the long run. (Annuity withdrawals are taxed as income while other investments may qualify for lower capital gains rates.) Or they keep a mortgage just for the tax deduction, which is like giving someone a dollar just to get a quarter or two back in change.

It’s OK to consider strategies to reduce your taxes, but tax considerations shouldn’t drive your investment and financial decisions.

_____

This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet.

Liz Weston is a columnist at NerdWallet. Email: lweston@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lizweston.

RELATED LINKS

NerdWallet: How to choose a robo-adviser

http://nerd.me/3_Investing

CNBC: Shockingly boring investing secrets of millionaires

http://www.cnbc.com/2014/12/11/whats-inside-the-millionaire-stock-portfolio.html

MarketWatch: Most investors fail to beat the market

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/almost-no-one-can-beat-the-market-2013-10-25

The post Liz Weston: Secrets of next-door millionaires appeared first on Canadian Business - Your Source For Business News.

22 Aug 14:48

How to Create Buyer Personas in 3 Minutes [Free HubSpot Sales Training Excerpt]

by lhintz@hubspot.com (Lauren Hintz)

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Modern, successful salespeople lead with a message personalized to the buyer’s context, not based on what the seller's goals are.

The seller no longer has all the power because buyers can get virtually whatever information they want about a product on the internet.

So building out your sales process to be personalized is essential -- otherwise you won't provide any value to your buyers. Context for that personalized message could be the buyer’s industry, role, interests, common connections, or buyer activity on social media or the seller's website. To do this, salespeople have to put themselves in their buyer's shoes. At scale, this means creating buyer personas that salespeople can use as a barometer against the prospects they speak with. 

The 3-minute video below is an excerpt from HubSpot Academy's free sales training course.

It explains best practices for segmenting your target market, creating buyer personas and includes an example company to demonstrate these techniques in action.

 

Interested in more videos like this? Register for HubSpot Academy's free sales training course.

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22 Aug 14:48

How To Write A Cold Sales Email That Won’t Get Moved To The Trash

by Danny Wong

With all of the different media available now for reaching out to prospects, we still need email to get the job done. Sure, it’s not the flashiest or the most contemporary form of communication, but it is still ubiquitous. The average American employee spends over six hours per day checking email, and respondents in the 18-34 demographic indicated that they spent even more time on their work email than older employees. Sometimes reaching out to a prospect with a cold sales email is the beginning of a long-term, mutually-beneficial business relationship. Far too often however, impersonal and overwhelming sales emails can lead the prospect to close the door on your company and lock it too, all before you’re even within view of the doorway.

Twenty-first century B2B buyers have so many commitments vying for their attention, and they’re so attuned to marketing and sales material that you may think it’s nearly impossible to get them to respond to a cold email. But just because they’ve grown accustomed to the practice doesn’t mean they aren’t looking for innovative solutions to legitimate problems. They expect you to be honest, respectful of their time, and they want to connect with you on a personal level, just like with any human interaction.

You’re not a sales robot, so don’t write like a sales robot

The most fundamental aspect of writing a cold sales email that people will want to read is also the simplest, yet sales reps still forget it constantly. It has to sound like an actual human being wrote the email, or else it’ll end up in the spam or trash folder without a second glance. This isn’t the time for a formal letter that sounds like it was drafted by a legal team to be submitted to the court.

Address your prospect by their first name, be straight and to-the-point, and do not unnecessarily fill the space with fancy graphics and statistics in an attempt to prove your authority. Reach out to them as if you’re a human who wants to have a conversation with another human, and you’ll pique their interest as to what benefits this relationship could bring.

Find something you can use to create a personal connection

With so much information available through social media and corporate websites it’s possible to find some fact that you can use as an icebreaker in almost any situation. Don’t use this as an excuse to break any ethical or legal barriers by attempting to gain access to private information through unscrupulous means, but by doing some cursory research you should be able to find a basic conversation starter. Even if you can’t discover anything about the prospect themselves, you can use any connection you have to their brand or industry to kick things off.

Give them just the details they need to keep reading

Let’s say for argument’s sake that you have a great product that you’re knowledgeable and passionate about, and you’re sending a cold sales email to a well-targeted prospect whom you know can stand to benefit from doing business with you. That’s great, but you might also assume that this email is the time when you’re going to dazzle your prospect with spectacularly detailed information about your offering so that there’s no chance they won’t understand why they should continue the conversation. It’s not the right time! A litany of dense information is going to cause their eyes to glaze over at this point, so be reticent with the details until you’ve already established an interest. Focus on introducing just one idea at this point, such as how you’ve helped company X increase productivity by a certain amount and you’d like to do the same for them.

Only automate if you have the data to back it up

You can do some great things with quality sales automation software, but if you don’t have a solid database of CRM information to draw from then automation is going to make the email sound impersonal. Again, many of these automation programs go heavy on the graphics and images in an attempt to make the content stand out, but at this stage you should eschew this strategy in favor of personal details that will connect you with the audience.

Get to the point in the CTA

Make it short and sweet, but always end your cold emails with a clear call-to-action. Remember that it’s important to respect their time (they’ve already committed some to you by reading to the end of your email!), so make sure your request in the CTA doesn’t require too much of an investment. This is only the beginning of a multi-stage process, so not everything has to be covered in this or even the next conversation.

22 Aug 14:47

5 Crucial Things to Do in the First 10 Minutes of Every Sales Presentation

by afrost@hubspot.com (Aja Frost)

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If you don’t like the first few episodes of a TV show, do you stick with it until the series finale?

Probably not. It’s unlikely you’ll suddenly start loving it, and there are plenty of other options out there.

Unlike a show, your prospect probably won’t stop the sales presentation if the beginning doesn’t go particularly well. But the first 10 minutes can determine whether the entire meeting is a success or a failure -- which means you need to nail the opening.

Read on to discover the crucial things you should do at the beginning of every presentation.

1) Confirm Your Audience

It’s easy to tell who you’re speaking to when you’re giving an in-person presentation -- after all, they're sitting right in front of you. But when you’re on the phone or sharing your screen, it could be just your prospect on the other end -- or it could be your prospect plus several other stakeholders.

Knowing your audience is essential, since it lets you tailor your message to each person’s specific needs, goals, and involvement in the buying process.

Ideally, your prospect will let you know in advance if other people are attending. But don't count on them to do the legwork for you.

At the beginning of the sales presentation, quickly clarify who you’re talking to by saying,

“Is it just you and me today, [prospect], or do we have others joining us?”

If there are more people on the call than you expected, ask everyone to introduce themselves -- and pay special attention to their titles, since those will help you figure out their role in the deal.

Not sure why someone is attending? After they introduce themselves, say:

"Great to meet you, [name]. So I can make this relevant to you, is there anything in particular you're hoping to learn today?"

If you think there's a stakeholder who should be on the line, but isn't, consider speaking up. Not only will including the right people help you avoid internal obstacles and speed up the deal, but it'll show your prospect that you're experienced and helpful.

Here's a soundbite:

"[Prospect], I'm wondering if the person who handles [project, responsibility, KPI] for you should hop on the call as well. I've found it's helpful for them to [hear about our tools for X, ask questions about Y, share the perspective on Z]. If they're busy right now, I could also send them the call recording."

2) Build Rapport

Next, before you get into the nuts and bolts of the presentation, build some rapport.

Setting a friendly, natural tone from the very beginning is important, as it’ll make the buyer more engaged and interested. Plus, getting them to open up early on means they’re more likely to ask questions during the actual presentation, which could allow you the chance to handle an objection or concern before it derails the deal.

Instead of asking how their day is going or what the weather is like in their town, compliment something about their website or business.

Here are a few lines you might use:

  • "I saw you just launched a new product -- it looks awesome. What was the inspiration behind that?"
  • "I love that you guys offer [X service]. Seems like not many companies in your space do."
  • "I checked out your [reviews, case studies, testimonials]. You're killing it with [common theme]. Any tips I should pass on to my coworkers in [relevant department]?"

3) Set the Agenda

A presentation without an agenda usually feels like a string of unrelated facts rather than a tightly woven narrative.

Setting an agenda gives buyers a clear roadmap of where you are, where you’re going, and where you’ll end up by the end of the meeting. Not only will their level of comprehension skyrocket, but knowing the plan will make them feel more in control. Empowered prospects speak up -- so you'll get better insights into their mindset throughout the meeting.

Try the “Purpose, Benefit, Check” agenda:

  • State the purpose of the meeting: What are the main things you’ll be discussing?
  • Explain the benefit to the prospect: How will having this information help them?
  • Check that you’re in alignment: Ask, “How does that sound to you?” or “Was there something else you’d like to cover as well?"

This approach lets you quickly and easily get everyone on the same page.

4) Say You're Open to Questions

Your demo or presentation should be interactive. Nothing makes prospects stop listening more quickly than when you throw an endless list of facts and numbers at them. Instead of lecturing your audience for 20 or 30 minutes straight, have a conversation with them. Make sure they know you're open to -- in fact, welcome -- questions. As an added benefit, encouraging them to ask questions makes you more likely to hear their objections while you still have time to resolve them.

A few good lines to use, ranging from funny to formal:

  • "Ask any questions that come to mind. Seriously, I like the sound of my own voice as much as anyone else, but this will get boring fast if it's just me talking."
  • "I'd much rather have a discussion than present for a half hour -- although I can do that too -- so please jump in with questions or comments throughout."
  • "Please stop me at any time if you have a question. I'm happy to give you more information or simply explain things a different way if they're not clear."

5) Recap What You Know

Looking for the perfect segue into the actual presentation? In one to three sentences, summarize your prospect’s pain and/or your current understanding of their situation.

Outlining their biggest challenges has a couple benefits. First, it focuses the conversation. Second, it sets you up to discuss your product’s features specifically as they relate to your prospect’s challenges, which will boost their engagement.

Here’s an example:

"During our last conversation, you shared a few things you were frustrated with or hoping to improve -- specifically X, Y, and Z. Does that sound right to you?"

Once the buyer has confirmed your overview, you can smoothly transition into the presentation itself by saying, “Great -- let’s walk through how [product] can help with those challenges.”

Optional: Set an Upfront Contract

Many reps wait until the end of the presentation to discuss next steps. This sequence makes sense: Assuming the presentation goes well, buyers are more interested in moving forward at the end (or at least have a clearer idea of what they'd like to do next).

However, if you find that your expectations for the meeting’s outcome are frequently out-of-sync with your prospects', establishing an agreement at the very beginning may be a good idea.

Dave Mattson, CEO and president of Sandler Training, suggests creating an "upfront contract" by stating your desired outcome right off the bat.

Here’s some sample wording:

“If you feel by the end of the demo that [product] will help you solve [X and Y business challenges], can we agree to [next step]?”

There are only two possible outcomes: the buyer will agree to your suggested next step, or they'll disagree. If it's the former, you know that you're completely aligned on what will happen after this meeting. If it's the latter, you'll have the opportunity to probe into their reservations and expectations -- and find a compromise.

Start off strong by including these elements in the beginning of your sales presentation. Your prospect will be hooked from the start -- making them more likely to stay engaged until the end.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in August 2016 and has been updated for comprehensiveness and freshness.

HubSpot CRM

22 Aug 14:45

Take Your Infographics from Eye-Catching to Engaging in 4 Steps

by Jessica Mehring

Every year you read new reports about how visual content is more engaging to readers than text-based content.

The data is pretty compelling, actually. Especially when it comes to infographics.

You know that infographics work well to engage readers, make your content more memorable, and get more shares and likes on social media.

What you might not know is that making your infographics interactive can actually help you create a two-way dialogue between you and your customers.

An interactive infographic is one that combines the graphics and data of a standard infographic with interactive elements like animation, video, surveys, and polls.

Making your infographic interactive encourages the reader to engage with the content, instead of just reading your infographic and/or absorbing the visuals. In other words, you’re not just visualizing the data for readers, you’re helping them participate in it.

Read on to learn the 4 steps to creating an interactive infographic that really gets your customers’ attention – and gets you valuable feedback in return.

1. Decide on the Data

As fun as infographics are to read, they really are all about the data. The data you choose will guide all of the content – from copy to graphics.

So first things first. What data do you want to share with your audience?

  • A research report with findings that would be meaningful to your customers.
  • Survey data you collected that would be interesting to readers.
  • A process or policy you want your audience to better understand.
  • Key takeaways from a presentation.
  • Publicized results from an industry report or survey.

Infographics can (and should) be fun! Starting with the data doesn’t mean the infographic has to be academic or boring. Here’s a cool one from Column Five that shows you the calorie count and alcohol content of those happy-hour drinks you guzzle on Friday nights.

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Just make sure if you’re citing data from other companies and organizations, you link to the original source in your infographic. Most people include the list of sources as footnotes or endnotes.

2. Reveal the Story

Data is just information until you put it in context. So once you’ve decided on your data, you need to begin creating that context for your readers with a story.

Sometimes the data tells a story all on its own. Startling statistics don’t often need a lot of copy to introduce their meaning to the reader. But more often than not, you’ll need to paint the picture with an engaging story.

First, decide if you’re educating, inspiring, entertaining, or informing the reader. Once you have that end-goal in mind, decide what specific pieces of the data will help you tell that story best.

Like any good story, your infographic will need a beginning, middle, and end. Write a brief intro, let the data do the heavy lifting to tell the story in the middle, and then wrap up the infographic with a conclusion that includes a CTA (call-to-action).

Of course, not every infographic needs a CTA – but if you’re creating an infographic as a marketing tool, you’ll want to include one.

Here’s an example from the New York Times that beautifully illustrates the story of Japan’s new Himawari-8 weather satellite and its 144 photographs of our planet per day.

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3. Get Interactive – Really

Here’s where the rubber meets the road with today’s interactive infographics.

It used to be that animation or video was all it took to call an infographic “interactive.”

Not anymore.

By definition, interactive means two people or things influencing or having an effect on one another. It also means a two-way flow of information.

Animation and video make infographics more interesting, sure. But to really create that dialogue – that two-way flow of information – you need to involve the reader’s real-time input.

Truly engaging interactive infographics ask the reader to do something. To enter information or make a selection.

Take a look at how Cross Country Home Services did it using SnapApp.

To navigate through the infographic, the reader is asked to choose an area to focus on. It’s a simple request, and one that doesn’t require much cognitive energy for the reader – but it gets them directly engaged in the infographic.

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Additionally, this two-way interaction allows you to gather valuable information about your audience.

Once you have your data and you’ve decided what story you want to tell with it, you’ll need to decide what interactive elements you want to add.

To zero in on the right elements, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What conclusion do you want the reader to come to at the end of the infographic?
  2. What more information does the reader need to know?
  3. What information do you need to know about your customers?

4. Bring It to Life With the Right Visuals

You have all the content ready to go and you know how you want the reader to interact with your infographic. Now it’s time to bring it to life with a visual theme.

Many businesses stick close to their branding when they design their infographics. And there’s certainly value in the consistent experience that brand visuals bring to the table. Just don’t forget your customer in this situation.

Make sure the visual design of your infographic will speak to your customers, first and foremost.

Look at how Save On Energy did it with their infographic about how solar panels work.

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The audience for this infographic is solar panel buyers. It’s clearly designed to appeal to the target customer, with only hints of the company’s branding throughout.

Create an Infographic Your Customers Can Sink Their Teeth Into

Animated infographics used to be the sole residents of the “interactive infographic” category.

But oh, times have changed.

Now you can create infographics that really get readers involved in the story you’re telling with the data.

22 Aug 14:45

Developing Your Brand from Bottom to Top, Part I

by Liz Papagni

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Whether you’re an established business or just getting started, developing your brand is always a must. Knowing who you are, what your message is, and how to get that message to buyers is the most important aspect of your marketing. Starting without understanding your brand will only lead to confused buyers and lackluster revenue.

Even if you have a pretty good grasp on your brand, you can always use a refresher, right? Getting back to the basics is important to building and maintaining a rock-solid foundation for your business. Let’s go back to the beginning and discover how you can develop your brand from the ground up.

Define Your Business

Maybe it seems a little silly to go back to the very beginning, where you decided on a name for your company. And, of course, you’re already aware of your industry, location, and market size. Still, this is the very foundation of your brand. Your understanding of even these smallest things will help you develop a stronger, more powerful brand.

For instance, let’s think about your business name for a moment. Did you think long and hard before coming up with a clever pun? Maybe you own a flower shop called Best of Buds. One of my favorites is the classic Tequila Mockingbird. If you went for the giggle when naming your business, then that’s part of your brand. You want people to immediately recognize your lighthearted approach to your company.

The name you chose for your company sets an immediate tone, whether you realize it or not. If you’re not sure you got it right, take a moment to ask some trusted colleagues what their first impression is. You’ll learn a lot with just that one question.

Investigate Your Competitors

If your ideal customers aren’t buying from you, who do they buy from? What is so compelling about that competitor that it draws your target audience away? Determining what makes your competition different is one of the fastest ways to determine how you are different.

Let’s imagine you’ve opened a local bank and named it Neighbors Financial Solutions. You’ve got the attention of the families in town, but your biggest competitor manages to get all the high-end investment accounts, and you don’t know why. We could drill right down to the name you chose for your business, which elicits mental images of small-town, friendly service instead of investment sharks like the global financial institutions have. In just one quick question, you’ve determined your competitor’s difference, but you’ve also discovered your own.

Of course, you can’t simply stop at the name of your business. You must investigate every aspect of your brand to determine where you can set yourself apart from the competition.

Recommit to Your Vision and Mission

The reason your business is different from your competitors is because you have your own vision and mission for your brand. Your mission is your why—why did you build your company? What did you hope to accomplish? No one, not even the competitor most comparable to your brand, could possibly have the same why. No one else will have the same vision for your company’s future.

Rediscover your why and recommit. You may have lost sight along the way, or maybe you started with the wrong vision to begin with. Any company’s mission should be obvious to its customers. Is yours? Do your buyers know why you do what you do? If you don’t, they can’t.

Evaluate Your Brand Position

Now that you know who you are, why you’re in business, and how you’re different, it’s time to evaluate your brand position, which could also be called your unique value proposition. This tells you and your buyers everything in one simple statement. Your bank may be “the neighborhood bank where everyone is family” or “the financial institution with years’ of experience in investments.” See how easily your brand position could set you apart from competitors?

You’ll notice we haven’t even touched on your logo, colors, or tag lines. You can’t build a brand on aesthetics alone. These foundational elements must be addressed before you begin designing collateral and building a reputation. We’ll investigate the optics of your brand next time.

Image Source

22 Aug 14:44

How Engineering Firms Can Maximize Their Influence On LinkedIn

by Rhonda Bavaro

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How does a small to mid-sized engineering firm even begin to be noticed online within their industry? The answer: Increase your online presence where your customers and employees hang out. That place is LinkedIn. As a platform for social networking, LinkedIn has become an incredible source of new business and new talent in the B2B market. According to Statista.com, as of the spring of 2016, LinkedIn had 450 million users. LinkedIn offers a platform for professionals to network with each other and for businesses to expand their influence.

If your engineering firm is late to the social media game and you’re wondering where to start, begin with LinkedIn. Its power as a B2B marketing tool is proven. In a study of 5,000 businesses, Hubspot found that LinkedIn was 277% more effective in generating leads than Twitter and Facebook. A focused strategy on LinkedIn can yield positive results for your firm so it’s worth the time invested in making it work. You’ll get targeted engagement and visibility within your industry.

Another thing to note about LinkedIn. It was built for business networking, so there is an expectation that the content shared and relationships built on this platform will be business-related. Gone is the awkwardness of sharing business content with your “friends”. Also missing is the algorithm that Facebook uses to determine what content is shared with followers. LinkedIn users know where and how to find the information they want, as opposed to Facebook users who tend to digest the articles that Facebook deems worthy of releasing to their newsfeed.

So, let’s dive into the specific ways that engineering firms can maximize their influence on LinkedIn.

Marketing

After you set up your profile page and explore the features of LinkedIn, you’ll soon discover that LinkedIn is an awesome PR tool. Announcing new products, innovations, and industry accolades will lead to greater exposure for your firm.

Articles and videos that share ways to use your firm’s products and services are an opportunity to provide helpful and purposeful information with your current and potential customers.

Posting about employees in the news, such as awards received and research published, is great for public relations and employee relations. It helps establish your firm as valuing the work that your employees produce and as a leader in your industry.

Publish articles written by employees. This boosts a company’s visibility and credibility as a thought leader. It’s also great for employee relations to see a company celebrate their employees’ innovations and subject matter expertise.

Join groups with members who are prospective clients and influencers in your industry. Then create and share content (articles, eBooks, guides and blog posts) that is engaging and relevant to the group. Once you’ve established your firm as an industry leader, start your own group.

Don’t forget the 80/20 rule. Share 80% purposeful content that is created by others. 20% of your content should be created by your firm. Although LinkedIn is a business form, it should not only be used to promote your company. Provide great information that helps people. That’s how you grow followers on any social platform and LinkedIn is no different in that respect.

Be sure to share technological developments made by other firms in your industry. Sharing posts from key influencers will help you create more connections and become established as an industry leader in your own right.

Building Relationships

LinkedIn is, after all, a social networking site. It only makes sense that one of the best uses of LinkedIn is as a sales tool. When used to build relationships with potential customers it can be very effective. It allows you to engage with like-minded individuals in a professional way, especially in Groups. By answering questions, posting relevant purposeful information, offering industry expertise and seeing how potential customers respond and engage, it allows you to build deeper relationships with potential customers.

According to Yumi Wilson, Manager of Corporate Communications at LinkedIn, “when you engage in groups, more people look at your profile. So there’s a four-time increase in the number of profile views based on your engagement in groups.” Like any social networking site, putting in the effort to build relationships will lead to results. People don’t want to be sold to, they want to be helped. Make sure your conversations with other group members center around helping them find solutions to their problems.

Building Good Will

Put your company mission and core values on your firm’s profile. It’s one of the first things a potential customer or employee will see. Use this valuable piece of LinkedIn real estate to share not only what you do but why you do it.

People want to do business with companies that make an effort to be environmentally and socially conscious. Publish articles about your firm’s efforts to be environmentally friendly and sustainable and why this is important to your firm.

If your firm has connections to the community be sure to share that on your company page. Examples are employees serving on community boards or raising money for local charities, conducting tech fairs for local students, and coordinating STEM programs that encourage careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Recruiting

LinkedIn was made for attracting potential employees and recruiting top candidates. Utilize the Careers tab to make it easy for candidates to apply for positions with your firm. Some of the ways to use this page of your company profile are:

  • Embedded video – share a message from your firm’s CEO or employees discussing why they love working for your firm.
  • Jobs listings – include a listing of open positions or a link to your website’s Careers page.
  • SlideShare – include a slide deck that shares why your firm is a great place to work.
  • Employee spotlight – put your employees in the spotlight, sharing what they do and how they are making an impact in your industry.
  • Outlining the hiring process and tips for successfully applying.
  • Announcing upcoming career fairs and college recruiting visits.
  • Sharing employee relations articles discussing what makes you a great employer (i.e. military-friendly, diversity, fringe benefits, opportunities for growth, educational opportunities).

Utilize the power of LinkedIn as part of your overall marketing strategy by integrating it into your other marketing efforts and budgeting in the time and staff it will take to see results. A company profile page which looks dormant can damage your reputation, so if you’re going to start using LinkedIn make sure you keep up with it. You’ll want to have a staff member(s) dedicated to the role of implementing your social media strategy so it doesn’t get pushed to the back burner. Consistency is key.

For a closer look at how specific tech firms are using social media, including LinkedIn, check out this article.

If you are already using LinkedIn, we’d love to hear what’s working best for you. Be sure to comment and let us know about the ways you’re using LinkedIn as part of your marketing strategy.

Inbound Marketing for Engineers