Friday, October 31, 2014

Is a Blog Good for Business?

Like so many questions, the answer to this one is: "Well, that depends." A blog can be a boon to business or it can be a money and time-sucking bust. So how to know if a blog will be good for your business? Start by answering the following questions:Do I have the time and money to invest in a blog? A blog is a long-term marketing proposition. If you or an employee likes to write - or you have the resources to hire a blog writer - that's great: Put a check in the "yes" column. Plan to post once or twice a week for at least 3 months before evaluating the project's success. Make time each week to chime in on other blogs and to market your blog on social media. It takes time to build blog-love.Do I have resources to create and host my blog? While blogging doesn't have to be expensive, you'll need to choose a host and set up your site, which definitely takes time and often takes financial resources. If you are able to host your blog on your company website, that's ideal. If not, Google "best blogging platforms" and start researching. Word Press, Blogger, TypePad, SquareSpace, and Tumblr are popular blogging platforms.What will my blog look like? The most popular blogs are visually appealing, easy to read, and include interesting visuals. If you're not great with graphics, be prepared to hire a designer to design your blog and create a visual or two... or three. If you have the visuals under control, put another check in the "yes" column.

What will I blog about? My best advice is to speak to your customers. Answer questions you hear most frequently, post product and service reviews, talk about what's new and exciting in your field, provide helpful how-tos... you get the idea. If blog post titles are firing in your mind, that's a good sign and another check in the "yes" column.Am I patient? Blogging is like a marathon; slow and steady wins the race. Yes? No? Be honest when you can answer this question. Blogging is lots of things, but it's not a magic bullet.Am I social? There are many ways to get visitors to your blog, but posting on social media sites is one of the best. If you're social - or if you have a solid plan to get readers - you're on the right track.These are the primary considerations before deciding whether or not a blog is for you. If you've answered yes to most of the questions above and believe you have what it takes to start and build a blog, give yourself a pat on the back. There's no doubt about it: A well written, visually appealing blog has the power to shoot your business to the top of the search results.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How to Charge What You're Worth and Get It: Part 2 of 6 - Understanding Your Value (Continued)

In the previous article, I wrote about the importance of understanding your value to enable you to charge what you're worth and focussed on your expertise. In this article, I'll discuss the two other key aspects of understanding your value which are the client's need and your general self-worth.Because you don't really understand your value, you probably set your fees based on what other people in your market charge. Perhaps you've heard that you should never be the cheapest or the most expensive in your market, so you set your fees somewhere between the two extremes. However, to really appreciate the value of the work you do, you also have to understand your clients' needs.To do this, ask the client quality, open questions to find out what the problem is.Open questions are questions that can't be answered with a simple one-word answer and begin with words like 'what', 'where', 'when', 'how', 'who' or 'why'. When you ask these questions, let the client answer without interruptions, prompting or leading. Asking questions where they can only answer yes or no, will not give you the information you need.The purpose of this is to establish what "pain" the client is experiencing and how extreme that pain is. The greater the pain, the more likely they are to use your services and pay you what you're worth. Of course the reverse is also true.People use service professionals because they have a problem that they need solving. You need to find out what solving the problem will be worth to them and what will the problem cost them if it's not resolved.One of my clients, an accountant, charges his clients £175 an hour. Before he started working with me, he did a lot of work for clients that he never charged them for. Every time he did work for nothing, it was costing him £175 an hour. Obviously, that wasn't good for business. It wasn't good for him either because like many professional service providers, he had lots of internal conflict going on because he knew he should be charging for all the additional work.This is what was happening. Clients, who were paying a fixed fee for their compliance work would telephone him and ask for something extra to be done, for example cast his eye over their cash flow forecast and let them know his thoughts. He would say yes before he'd even had a chance to think, or if he did think, it went along the lines of the following: "Well I'm not actually doing any work (I.e. not creating the numbers), so I can't really charge them." And so he would do it for nothing. Even though it may have only taken half an hour or an hour to do, what would that extra piece of work be worth to the client? Would it save them from making a mistake that could cost them thousands or help them get funding they would otherwise be refused? You'll have to read the next article to find out the rest of this true story.

Exercise: Take 5-10 minutes and ask yourself the following question: What's the value I bring to my clients?The third aspect to understanding your value is self-worth. Self-worth is at the heart of everything we do and it drives our behaviour. As human beings we are motivated by pleasure or by pain. So we're either moving towards pleasure or moving away from pain.To put this into a business context, if you don't feel 100% worthy, how can you possibly charge what you're really worth? Your perception of what you're worth is too low.If someone tells you to raise your fees, it makes you feel uncomfortable. When you feel uncomfortable, what do you do? You move away from whatever is causing that discomfort. So if the idea of charging more for your work makes you feel uncomfortable, you do whatever you can to get away from that thought or feeling. You stick with the fees that you're currently charging even if that means not getting paid what you deserve for the work you do.And, if you don't value yourself, how can you value your clients? How can you treat your clients well, if you don't know how to treat yourself in the right way? The more you value yourself and the more you charge what you're worth, the more likely you are to create value for your clients.In fact, one client recently told me that since he raised his fees, he feels happier in himself and his creativity and performance are even better than they were before. This means that not only does the client get even greater value but he also has greater job satisfaction - a win/win situation.A quick way to change any negative thoughts you may have about your value into positive ones is to make a conscious effort to say positive affirmations throughout your day. Affirmations are statements that can condition your subconscious mind and help you to change harmful behaviours or accomplish goals, and they can also help undo the damage caused by negative thoughts; those things which we repeatedly tell ourselves (or which others repeatedly tell us) that contribute to a negative perception of something.Here's a great affirmation to help change your thinking about yourself and the work you do for your clients which you can start using immediately.
"I'm now creating fantastic value for my clients and in doing so am easily charging what my work is worth." Copy this affirmation onto a piece of paper and repeat it throughout your day.In the next article, I'm going to be discussing the communicating your value to clients part of the formula with more useful tips to implement.

Monday, October 27, 2014

5 Secrets for Better Custom Lead Generation

Every company operates differently, and each requires a specialized custom lead generation plan. Some businesses are focused on how to increase the number of leads they receive. Others are looking to create methods to glean better quality leads. With such an important role in a company growth plan, it is important to put time and effort into how leads are generated and how they are handled internally through the marketing funnel. Some approaches are traditional and have been part of better business practices for years. Others take advantage of new technology and developing trends. A company interested in maximizing their conversion levels will take a serious look at their current processes, in order to be certain there is not redundancy, lost opportunities, and wasted staff time.1. Well designed Web siteOne of the most powerful modern tools for custom lead generation is a well designed website. Rather than focusing on what needs to be sold or promoted by the company, the design should be centered around presenting solutions to the ideal customer. The most important information should be at the top of the page, so the user does not have to scroll or click through cluttered content for what they need. It is also wise for a site to be easily viewed on multiple devices, such as laptops, tablets, and phones. Working to optimize success with search results is also a must.2. Create shareable contentOne of the least expensive and easiest ways to increase custom lead generation is by utilizing social media. While it does take time and effort to maintain accounts with various services, most are free and only require staff time to run. Time spent on them can be reduced by creating content calendars, so the information is ready and only needs to be posted and updated periodically. The goal is to create posted information that is original, relevant, and to the point. That allows for a greater likelihood of being shared and promoted by followers, which is where social media really pays off with the time put into it.

3. Carefully crafted calls to actionIf a customer takes the time to seek a solution for their problem and lands on a company Web site, it is the perfect opportunity to convert them to a customer. They are looking for information and are ready and willing to do business. They should have clear instructions on what to do in order take the next step. All tools used to direct people to more information should be easy to see and understand. Buttons, hyper links, icons, and phone numbers should be arranged on the page in a way that is aesthetically pleasing, but also easy to find. If a lead gets frustrated, they will simply find another website for another company that is easier to use.4. Help current customers promote youThose happy customers that are currently being served can be a company's most effective marketing tool. Their word of mouth promotion to friends and acquaintance is a custom lead generation that not only gets an audience with new leads, but also sets up that introduction with a personal recommendation. They build trust and make a potential lead convert to a customer more quickly. Of course, the burden is always on the company to maintain a high quality of service and keep the business of new customers.5. AnalyticsHaving the most sophisticated marketing plan doesn't do a company much good unless there are methods in place to collect, read, and analyze information for the results. By using analytics, the marketing mix can be assessed and updated as needed. With the right marketing dashboards or programs, the various channels used by any company can be monitored for their strengths and weaknesses. That allows a highly personalized and effective approach to custom lead generation.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Marketing and Promoting Scientific, Legal or Technical Products or Services

Have you ever been listening to the radio or watching television when an egghead or brainiac starts talking about the great new technology product that his/her company has developed? Did you keep listening, or did the featured egghead get bogged down in too many complicated scientific big words and concepts making you change the channel as fast as possible. You know you may have just missed out on finding out about a great new product or service that could save you thousands of dollars or extend your life by 100 years. But you and the thousands of other potential customers and clients will never know because you changed the channel.It is important to recognise that scientists, lawyers, engineers and technologists don't always make the best spokesperson for the promotion of a product in the media. A good technical communicator will be able to cut through jargon and explain in simple terms, concepts important to promoting a product. Many science and technology companies send a press release before they prepare their strategy for an effective media campaign. There are 3 main mistakes that companies make when approaching the media to promote a new scientific or technical product or service.Mistake #1 - Using complicated Scientific Jargon and conceptsMistake #2 - Failing to prepare a technical sales communication planMistake #3 - Using only one media channel to promote the product or serviceAvoid Using Complicated Scientific Jargon & ConceptsYour potential customer or client needs to be able to understand quickly what the product or service is, and how it will benefit them. No point showing up for your media opportunity and losing everyone on your first sentence. For example, if you are a company who has developed a new water filter for use in the home, don't lead with technical information like this;

"The new water micro-filtration system has a 1 micron sediment pre-filter in a superfine polypropylene cartridge and a 0.4 micron carbon super block, superior post-filter with heavy metal removal technology."While this technical description might be important to the functioning of the product or create a point of difference, this information does not help your target customer make an informed choice about the product and how it relates to them. Instead, you should use uncomplicated words and refer to concepts which are aimed towards your target customer's level of understanding. For example;"Our new in-home water filter will give you unlimited clean and clear water guarding your family against all kinds of bacterial and chemical contamination."To provide the best chance that media will pick up your press release, you need to be able to share information about the benefits of filtering your water and provide some education for viewers or listeners about common contaminants in unfiltered water.Effective Technical Communication relies on PlanningBefore you can address the last two mistakes that I have listed, it is essential to identify a good technical communicator either inside or outside your company. Engaging a specialist technical communications consultant is both efficient and cost effective. Your specialist consultant can also assist in other areas by working with you to prepare an integrated scientific and technical sales, communication and promotions plan and provide training and education for your scientists on effective communication techniques for writing and the media.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Debriefing Your Sales Calls

Regardless of how well you performed on the last appointment, you can always do better, right? Unfortunately many sales and management 'professionals' lull themselves into believing that there is absolutely nothing they could do, stop doing, or do differently that would improve results.Let's face it. The majority of us came from average stock. The difference for some, however, is that at some point in their life and career they "got it." They got the fact that they will never be perfect and therefore continually strive to be greater. Those that "get it" can admit there is room for improvement, are open, and as a result continue to grow. The less successful individuals will never get there because they think they're already there. They've closed themselves off to opportunities to find out just how much better they actually could be. They fail to maximize their true potential.If you're still reading this, then you're likely someone that "get's it."For those that "get it," here's a twenty question checklist you can use to debrief your sales calls, because you believe that regardless of how well you performed on the last appointment, you can always do better.1. Did I establish an up-front contract with the buyer, specifying mutual expectations and an agenda?2. Was I mentally and physically prepared?

3. Was I focused on my goals for the call?4. Was I more concerned about ensuring success or preventing failure?5. Did I accurately assess the screens through which the buyer views the world?6. Did I accurately assess the communication style of the buyer?7. Did I adapt my communication style to the buyer's screens and communication style?8. Did I probe for the buyer's pain?9. Did I accurately summarize the buyer's pain to the buyer's satisfaction?10. Did the buyer commit to recognizing the financial cost of his or her pain?11. Did I accurately probe for information regarding the buyer's budget?12. Did I find out exactly when, where, how, and who would make the buying decision?13. Did I focus my presentation on the buyer's pain?14. Did I translate all the jargon in my presentation?15. Did I obtain a definitive yes or no answer from the buyer?16. If the answer was no, did I probe reasons?17. Did I follow the 70-30 rule? Did I ask questions and lead the buyer to speak most (70%) of the time?18. Did I maintain my composure and respond to stress with questions and reverses?19. Did I lead by letting the buyer control the process?20. What did I learn about this particular call that will help me in my next call?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Gatekeepers: 10 Tips for More Sales Lead Conversations

How many times did your sales team try to contact a company they felt would be an ideal client for X,Y,Z reasons, but were never able to get past the receptionist? Even though some sales people seem to have found the secret or magic formula to get to speak to the relevant contact, the majority of sales calls usually end up being stopped after a few seconds.However, in the hustle and bustle of today's busy business markets how to handle Gatekeepers has never been more paramount to the success of any sales executive in their bid to persuade a prospect to purchase their goods and/or services.Very well trained in answering "we do not accept these types of calls", "We have a no-name policy" or "Mr XXXX is in a meeting at the moment", the commonly known Gatekeeper - the business receptionist (but also the floor staff or the. PA) - very often does not even let you get the chance to explain the purpose of your call. These mechanisms have been created by front of house representatives in order to defend against a large number of sales calls queuing up at their door. However this defense mechanism can be overcome using a few techniques.1. Always remain polite
One of the most important things to remember is that he/she is like any other individual and deserves the same amount of respect and politeness as that of the CEO. By showing this type of gesture it can often be the primary reason for the gatekeeper for transferring you to whom you wish to contact. It also keeps your sanity intact as you will realise that the gatekeeper simply is doing his/her job - and does it well!2. Be confident
Using a confident tone in your voice whilst on the phone helps give the impression of an authority figure, which in turn allows for the gatekeeper to undertake the impression that you are of relative importance, thus it is more likely that he/she will transfer you to the relevant contact.3. Build a rapport
Always listen to the gatekeeper and build rapport with him/her as the gatekeeper has more information regarding the company than you do, can direct you to the correct contact or a specific department that would deal with you enquiry. Along with directing you, the gatekeeper can also be a great source of information regarding the current situation of the company.4. Use the first name
Most receptionists will answer the phone with their name so use this to your advantage. Everyone likes being called by their name so just by saying "Hi Anne, how are you today", you have already broken the ice.

5. Stay cool
Always remember to remain calm on the phone whilst talking to a gatekeeper as anger or nervousness will transfer through the line in your voice. You must remember that the gatekeeper is not the relevant party you need to speak to and for that reason always remember you should not be selling to him/her, but conversing to be directed to the relevant contact.6. Be assertive
Act almost as if you already know the contact you are looking to speak to. If you have the name of the prospect you require, say "can you put me through to John Doe please". It can give the impression that a relationship between you and the relevant party exists and thus the gatekeeper may be more likely to transfer your call through.7. Don't give too much information to the gatekeeper
When trying to get through to the decision maker, give information sparingly as if you provide too much information about the purpose of the call this will give the gatekeeper an opportunity to say "no we wouldn't be interested in that". Simply try and get across the benefit that your product/service will bring to the company.8. Try a different way to get through to the decision maker
Very often the 'No Names Policy' starts and ends with the gatekeeper and therefore it may be better to use the following approach: "Can you please transfer me to the sales/HR department?" When you get through to either of these departments you are more likely to get the name of the person you need to speak with.9. Sometimes it's the simple things that work best
If the gatekeeper is not willing to let you in after a few attempts, try calling at lunch time when the gatekeeper is probably at lunch. If the phone is answered by someone else, you are more likely to be given the name of the person you need to speak with and be transferred.10. Have a plan B
If the gatekeeper is still reluctant to put you through, it can be a good idea to ask to be transferred to the relevant party's voicemail.Hopefully, these tips will help your sales team maximise their chances to speak to the relevant decision makers in your top prospect accounts. It is up to you now to try these tips and find the ones that suit best your personal style.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Use a Meeting Agenda for Your Sales Calls

It never ceases to amaze me how often a salesperson will come back from meeting a client, with absolutely no information of value.Yes it is great that they are building a relationship with the client.Yes it is great that the client always considers our company when looking for services from companies like ours, but it is tough to be prepared for their future needs if we don't know what they are going to look like.It is also tough to improve our service if we don't understand what they like and dislike, from companies like ours.It is hard to build professional credibility if all that is discussed is personal in nature."If people like you, they'll listen to you, but if they trust you, they'll do business with you." Zig ZiglarThere are many wins that can come from a client meeting, and one way to improve your chances of getting some of those wins is by using a meeting agenda.Here are just 5 reasons why salespeople should use a meeting agenda:

It builds credibility with the client, showing professionalism and an effort at ringing value.

Creating an agenda forces you to think about the meeting and what you and the client should achieve from it.

Everybody is busy, so sharing the agenda with your client and asking if they want to add to it will ensure the client's needs are met too. This can even be done ahead of time.

The agenda can help keep the meeting on time... again being respectful of the client and sowing professional courtesy.

The most important reason is to ensure you capture everything that you need during the meeting, and deliver any necessary messages.
What kind of things might be on an agenda?Obviously there are many things depending upon your business, the nature of your relationship with this client and the objectives of this particular meeting. Here are some thoughts:

An understanding of how your company is viewed by the client. What they like and don't like. You could even extend that to include competitors. (If you know what they like and dislike about the top supplier and others then you can adjust accordingly).

An understanding of future needs, upcoming projects, areas of pain.

An understanding of current needs... which should lead to an ask for the business.

An understanding of the organizational structure, such that you can improve your ability to service the client. This might lead into discussion of other contacts you might meet.

An opportunity for the client to add to the agenda.

A discussion about timing of the next meeting, try to get commitment before leaving this meeting to ease the timing of a next meeting.

Deliver any messages that need to be delivered. This could be anything.

An understanding about how well the client knows your company's offerings, and clarification if necessary.

You might drop off a marketing item... which should be on the agenda. (It is not atypical for the salesperson to leave the meeting and discover that nice company pen still in their pocket!

Confirmation of the time available. If it is a 30 minute meeting then plan accordingly. I like to sit my watch in front of me and make sure the meeting ends on time.
There will likely be some personal discussion to build rapport and trust. This typically would not be on the agenda, but might be a way to get started before launching into the agenda.Clients may be reticent to meet with you if they think you will waste their time. An agenda will demonstrate your understanding that their time is precious."You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it." Charles Robert Buxton

Monday, October 13, 2014

Advertising Sales Reps - Increase ROI and Secure Your Renewal!

I worked in media for over 15 years. Whether it was 1999 or 2014 one of the biggest buzz phrases was always "ROI" or Return on Investment. It's one of the hardest things to ensure as a media rep or track as a business owner. But whether it was your media campaign that failed or not your customer will blame you and you will have that dreaded conversation upon renewal of the campaign "I didn't get the return I expected, I won't be investing with you again".There are so many factors that play a role in this. You did your part. You worked in-house to create a catchy campaign, you used the right products to reach the desired target audience, and you actually had a client that was ready to invest in the right quantity and length of time before judging success. To the best of your knowledge, it should have worked. Did your ad campaign truly fail or was it something beyond your control? So, what happens when you create a fantastic ad campaign, people are talking about it, there is a buzz in the marketplace, foot traffic increases at an amazing rate... but the bottom line doesn't?As media consultants we know that most advertising customers have no idea how to track the success of their ad campaigns. They make snap judgments about why their advertising didn't work and it is a lot easier to blame you than except that it could be something internal that is the problem.No matter how good the ad campaign, all of your hard work will go down the toilet (along with your renewal) if you drive customers to their doorstep but they don't buy. So, what else can you do to help improve your renewal rate? Develop a relationship with a quality janitorial service. You worked so hard to create an image with the advertising so it is a must that the client provides the same professional image in-house. Little things count, fingerprints on the entry door or receptionist counter, dusty chairs, dull floors, unpleasant smells. Potential customers notice these things, and believe it or not, make buying or service decisions on how comfortable they will be when they visit their environment.

So how do you go about making this connection for your customer? You have been to their business establishment. Pay attention to the professionalism, cleanliness, odd smells etc.. If you notice that they could use help with their overall image wait until you have built a good relationship and established yourself as a consultant. Wait until your ad contract is signed. You can simply give them some tips in preparation for the increase in foot traffic, one included, to have a detailed cleaning done prior to the start of the campaign (not that you noticed that they need it of course, just as a suggestion that you make to all of your clients). If they don't already have a relationship, suggest your cleaner of choice. The cleaner of your choice should be one that is focused on improving the image of their clients.An ad campaign cannot be successful if your client does not clean up in-house first. Be sure your client invests in professional routine janitorial services or at the very least a bi-monthly detailed cleaning prior to the start of your campaign to increase your potential for a renewal.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Salespeople Control Their Own Destiny

The typical salesperson's income is very much tied to their productivity... usually by way of commission.The company they work for will have expectations about how much business a salesperson should generate and this will typically be reflected by the quota assigned to the salesperson.Expectations will be based upon tenure, experience, sales territory and other factors.At the end of the day a salesperson needs to meet and exceed their quota in order to reach their expected income.This is a "good news", "bad news" scenario, dependent upon your comfort level with a commissioned income:a. Bad news for many people who view a commissioned income as risky, undesirable and stressful.b. Good news for the "true salespeople" because it represents opportunity, the ability to earn "even more" by exceeding their quota, and it is all in their own hands.Which type of salesperson are you?The "glass half full" stressed out, "I don't know if I can do this" kind of salesperson; orThe "I am going to blow the doors off" kind of salesperson.Whichever type of salesperson you are, the way to meet and exceed your quota is:1. Have a plan.2. Execute on that plan.3. Revise your plan regularly.4. Work hard AND work smart.Your plan at its most basic level should identify:

What client accounts will generate enough business to meet your target?

Who, within those accounts you need to meet in order to get the business.

You will need enough meetings, such that you get enough opportunities, in order that based on your "close ratio" you will get enough closes to meet your "stretch goal".

As the days and weeks go by you should be adding to your prospect lists so that when certain prospects disappoint, you will have others in the pipeline to take their place.

You will need to adjust on the fly.

You will need to generate, and maintain, enough "momentum" within your target accounts to meet your goals.

You will need to be pragmatic about your choices. Are you talking to buyers? Can you get the opportunities? Can you be successful? Can it happen quickly enough?

Some accounts will prove to be good future accounts and they will need some of your attention, but your primary focus needs to be on accounts that will help you now.
Sales is a fantastic profession that gives you total control of your own destiny. Your actions will decide how much money you earn, how much success you enjoy and what the future will hold for you.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

How to Charge What You're Worth and Get It: Part 3 of 6 - Communicating Your Value

In my previous two articles, I looked at the understanding your value part of my formula (UV + CV + CA = CW) for charging what you're worth. So now let's take a look at communicating the value to your prospective clients; the CV part of the equation. I have a sneaky feeling that this is often omitted for a number of reasons. Perhaps because the service provider is unaware of the importance of doing this or because he/she makes assumptions about the prospective client's understanding of the value or because he's/she's just not comfortable doing it.However, this is a key step in the process of charging appropriately. By ensuring that the client knows exactly what they'll be getting for their money, they're much more likely to do business with you and pay you accordingly. So it's not just important to discover your clients' problems and how extreme they are, as mentioned in the previous article, it's also vital to ensure that the client understands just how badly they want to have the problem resolved. To do this, you need to reflect both the value of your service and their pain back to them.If you read my previous article, you'll probably remember that I told a story about an engineer. A manufacturing company rang and asked him to come in and look at a machine which had broken down. He had the foresight to ask the company what the cost of non-production was and they said £100,000 a day. Armed with this information, the engineer went in to take a look at the faulty machine. As he walked around it, he prodded, poked and listened to it and then, after just a few minutes, he hit the machine hard with a hammer. Bang. Hey presto, the machine immediately burst into life. He then stayed around for a few minutes, until he was satisfied that the machine was running sweet and as soon as he was happy that all was well, he packed up his things and went on his merry way. Because he understood his value, even though it had only taken him 10 minutes, he sent an invoice into the Company for £2,000.00. The company wrote back and asked for a breakdown of the invoice. He said:For hitting the machine with the hammer £ 50.00
For knowing where to hit the machine £1,950.00
Total £2,000.00What he could have said when he asked them how much it would cost them a day for the machine to not be working was something like "£100,000 a day - that's an awful lot of money isn't it?" Thus reflecting the pain back to the client. Then he could have added, "so if your machine normally operates for 8 hours a day, that means you're losing a massive £12,500 an hour and even if your machine is running for 24 hours a day, that's still costing you £4,166 an hour." Then he could have said, "that's still an awful lot of money isn't it?" Thus reinforcing again. Then he could have asked what problems they would have if the machine was not working for any length of time. If the client couldn't think of any answers, he could have said "presumably that means that your customers' orders will be delayed. So you will need to alter transport arrangements. No doubt it will also mean invoicing is delayed and that may affect cash flow. Also staff would not have any work to do and you would then probably need to pay them overtime to catch up with the backlog." Anyway, you get my drift. So his parting shot could have been, "so if I can solve this problem quickly for you that will be hugely beneficial won't it?" If he had done this, they would have been grateful to him for solving the problem so quickly that when he presented his bill, it's unlikely they would have queried it. In fact, potentially, £2,000 was a very small sum to pay in the circumstances and perhaps he could have actually charged more!

Remember the focus is on the value you're creating, not how much you're charging or how long the job takes. It's about a shift from charging for time to charging for solutions.One quick tip to help you get more comfortable with this process is to keep your mind focussed on the fact that you want to help this client. So rather than thinking, what can I get from them, you're thinking what can I give them? So if you adopt this strategy, it is very likely that you will feel more positive, confident and comfortable, and you will convert more prospects into clients as a result. To me, it's very important to be sure that I can genuinely help and, If I don't feel that I can help a particular business owner, then I just won't take that client on. By making sure that I can provide real value and produce tangible results, it ensures that not only do I remain true to myself but also my clients trust me implicitly. In the next article, we'll take a look at how else you can communicate your value to your clients.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Do We Need Point of Sale Literature?

Has the end of collateral or point of sale literature really arrived, or is there still a need and a purpose in spending countless pounds on designing, creating and producing these products?Of course the pure "marketeer" will always say there is a need and benefit from having them; however the other side of the argument would say it's a waste of paper everything goes out in emails as PDFs now.I believe the tough and annoying answer here is it depends - on the purpose and the outcome that you are looking for. Recently I was handed a folder from an organisation that support businesses with grant funding and access to finance schemes, it was almost a cut and paste of their website in print format. Who is this for?A great speaker friend of mine Dr Graeme Codrington specialises in understanding generational and demographic dynamics, specifically how we work with and communicate with the different generations that are in the work place today. Consider this in relation to Point of sales literature - would a "Y" generation buyer within an organisation read a folder full of paperwork and bumf or would they scan the information they are looking for on their smart phone device. By contrast a "baby boomer" buyer is more likely to want to take their time flicking through a physical document giving them the options they require. Sweeping generalisation I know but it does highlight the issue.When I first broke into the speaking world I had a number of products professionally created and designed that did, even if I say it myself, look very professional and of high quality, setting me apart. In the guise of being honest several years later when clearing through my office a large percentage of these brochures landed in the recycling bin, unused and out of date.

I firmly believe that we all have to be far more strategic in our approach to how we use collateral, who it is designed for specifically and how long it will last. Much of our promotional material will be sent electronically so having vast stocks of paper is less necessary when compared to previous years.Contrast this to the occasional personalised mail shot that you receive now which is directed at you, landing in your office and not looking like a plastic covered flyer - are you going to skim it, read it or just bin it? Chances are at worst you'll notice it and maybe if it is relevant to you on the day it arrives you'll digest it.Promotional material is here to stay, the market has matured now and every piece of material created has to be specifically targeted, shorter runs and very focused - the days of a random spray and pray approach to blanket marketing techniques are gone. We need to be strategic and professional in our use of collateral and POS if we want to stand out in a highly competitive and challenging global market place.As an aside how much out of date, old brochures and bumf have you got horded in boxes hidden from site but you know they are still there - Bin them!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Close Enterprise Deals As a B2B SaaS Startup Without in-House Salespeople

Before we begin talking about the who, what, when, let's spend some time talking about why this is even possible today to compete with sales professionals from established B2B SaaS firms. Two words: Empowered Buyers.Let me explain that a bit so we are on the same page at the outset. There was a time (it still exists in certain countries and industries) when salespeople were able to manipulate buyers into buying, make false promises they had no intention of keeping, create a mystery around and about a product, play around with pricing, used psychology and 'techniques' to sell. This is no longer the case, buyers know these tricks, have more information about the product, the company why, even the salesperson. Internet and social media has played a role here but more importantly, I believe, buyers have evolved with the sellers.So, in essence, if you are a salesperson (or a non-sales person) who does not use any of these tactics, you stand a better chance at wins neck to neck.Secondly, let's talk about the chances of a startup vs an established vendor. If you are new, you are a third generation B2B SaaS firm. Although will have more integrations available, more consultants in the market, a richer partner ecosystem and 1000s of customer case studies, the fact is I and a vast majority of salespeople don't want to use it. It's just old. It's not made for the salesperson. It needs implementation and maintenance.. So are there pros to buying from an established vendor? sure.. Are there cons? Hell, yes, loads! To be fair to established vendors, I'd say you stand a 50:50 chance.With me so far? Great. Now we've established that, at least theoretically, it is possible to beat an established competitor without a professional salesperson on board.Let's now shift focus to the who,what, how, when.How did you know of this opportunity? I'm assuming, since you are a startup, you do not have an outbound lead generation inside sales team (yet) and that most of your leads are inbound leads from your SEO, content and email marketing initiatives. I'm also assuming that most of the time the leads are from smaller firms but every once in a while there's a USD 10k+/ year opportunity staring at you, one from a larger firm.Here are the pieces of the puzzle, I trust you to be able to make sense of it as a whole.1) The Decision Maker: Identify the decision maker. Simple as it sounds, this is by far the most tricky task on this list and the one most prone to error, but there is an easy solution. He/ she is not the most vocal of evaluators, he/she is not necessarily the person who signs the check. In larger organizations this is simply the person who is tasked with finding a solution for the problem at hand. How do you identify who this is. Identify who the person with the budget is and ask them. Use email/ LinkedIn or request a 2 minute call with them. They'll tell you who makes the call on this one. I can't think of a better analogy, so I'm using a war analogy (I do not believe there is any similarity between sales and war or even sports for that matter): You just won the most important battle in this war!2) How did it come to this? Why Change? What does the ideal solution look like? Why would they choose one vendor over another?: You would have heard this a lot: You should ask a lot of probing questions, and then listen. And it is right.. Let me tell you what kind of questions you want to ask. The difference between a conversation that we enjoy and the one that we are merely present in is this: Questions that seek information and questions that seek criterion, questions that make you think rather than seek sectors of brain with stored information. Let me give you an example:

a) What are certain things that the system should be able to do?b) What does the ideal solution look like? What will that help you achieve? How else can it be achieved?You'll need a mix of both. The idea is to have a conversation that you both get some value out of.3) Trust and Reputation: This is built over ages. As a startup you may not be able to leverage this unless you, individually, have a reputation you could use. All B2B SaaS vendors do no-contracts, monthly fees, free trial etc, so these are not game changers. Here are a few pointers that help:a) Use every interaction to build trust. Be honest.b) Commit only when you can as much as you can.c) Offer to do customer visits/ calls as against responding to their requestd) Offer to do pilot with real data even if it takes additional effort. Charge a fee if required.e) Say No or I don't know when needed, back it up/ get back when you can.4) Players:a) Champion: Usually the person who signed up/became a lead with you will be your champion within the organization. He/she found you, so it is in their interest that you do well. Empower this individual with whatever material they need, Ask to help him present or offer to present on their behalf. They'll usually know the buying process in the org and will be more than glad to share with you the real picture of how a tool like yours is bought.b) Evaluators: Evaluators generally are the people who's work-lives will be affected by this buying decision. A good leader will always make sure that the users who are to use the solution have a say in which solution was procured. Your job is to identify who these evaluators are, learn and manage their expectations and show the tool showcasing exactly what they asked for, individually if required. The idea is to know what each of them want and deliver as close to it as possible. If you are doing a proof of concept/pilot, make sure you understand what they want achieved at the end of the trial to call it success.5) Money and Negotiation: Money is generally a non-issue. I'm not a big fan of negotiation, so I believe in sharing one reasonable pricing irrespective of the buyer's budget as I think it's unfair on customers who aren't good negotiators. But take your call. There are buyers who enjoy negotiating, you do not want to disappoint them. Think of all the things you have to negotiate with, it's not just the money, it could be services, training, maintenance, support, terms.6) Risk: They like you, they like what they see in the product. Buyers will still need to know that this decision doesn't set them back by a couple of months. State all risks, real or perceived, and share how to manage them. Do get your deployment team involved with their IT teams for technical feasibility and get an A-OK there. Commit inside the contract proactively.As you'll see it's not that big of a deal. It's quite fun especially for someone who enjoys conversations. The only question is would you want to do it/would this be a good use of your time.