I Have A Dream…

Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech used 1,666 words and is the most significant American political speech of the 20th century. While prepping for this article, I learned that Dr. King graduated from college a few months before I was born and he died a year before I graduated from high school. When I read the list of people that he acknowledges influenced him, I made a note that I should make the same sort of list. As I grow older, I appreciate him more.

So, let me tell you what prompted this post. Today, I received the following email.
Rick- can Steve be in your joke list? He’s too shy to ask.
I immediately thought of all of the inbound marketers out there that are waiting for their blog readers, Twitter followers, and LinkedIn connections to start a conversation. Maybe the prospect is just too shy and the marketer will have to start it?

I then thought of Kelly’s guest post on this blog, “I’m Not a Salesperson” and remember thinking that she was just like the majority of Inbound Marketers that I had spoken with. The answer was always ‘do more marketing’ or ‘let the customer/prospect keep control’. Never, ‘let me start a conversation with them.’ I feel bad for the people that have to go through life feeling afraid to start.
The second sentence of Kelly’s post is “I loathe salespeople.” Think about the relationship between the races when MLK delivered his speech in 1963. So, Kelly and Steve,
I have a dream that all people, not just salespeople will be able to start a conversation.
I have a dream that marketers and salespeople will lay down their petty differences and work to make the world a better place by helping their ideal customers buy and helping their less than ideal customers find the right solution.
I have a dream that all people, marketers and salespeople alike, will get evaluated to identify their strengths, their weaknesses, their skills and the beliefs that hold them back and recognize that change is difficult. Change is uncomfortable, but if the status quo is not acceptable, change is inevitable.
I have a dream that all people recognize that they need to have a dream and they need to share their dream with the world. How many people stand in front of their world and say, “I have a dream.”?
Dr. King delivered his “I have a dream” speech on August 28, 1963 in front of the Lincoln Memorial and the world changed. I can’t change the world, but I can help you change yours. If you want to be evaluated, schedule a conversation. Get evaluated before August 28th and in addition to the evaluation report and my review, you’ll also get a private coaching call and my help in writing a guest post for my blog. Here’s the link again.

Sales 2.0 Tool Review: Postwire

Finally, a content management tool for sales- not marketing! (?)

I recently attended the July Hubspot User Group meetup in Maine (HUGME). Cliff Pollan gave a preview of Postwire. Carole Mahoney shares her thoughts. Enjoy!

If you are unfamiliar with what I am passionate about, it’s customer experience. I grew up in a family of generational entrepreneurs, from custom iron work for commercial properties, to real estate, to a winery- there is not much the members of my family have not done, or tried, as entrepreneurs. And despite the many different ventures, types of entrepreneurs, decade, geographic location, or target customer, there is one thing they all had it common (at least from my observations)

When it comes to your target customer, you better believe it is personal- to them. If they are not happy and delighted, you will have problems. Big problems. And it starts with the initial interaction, or sales approach, or as they say in plain English: the first impression.

If you are in sales, you know this (or you should). You also know how much time it takes to send individual, personal follow up emails that include links to content, or sales sheets, or videos- whatever it was that you talked about in your conversation and promised to send.

The last thing you want is for marketing to send one of their cutesy, automated lead nurturing emails to the prospect you just spent a few hours developing a personal relationship with. You are the customer experience for them.

What does Postwire tool have to do with customer experience? And why should sales people care?

Postwire allows sales people to send custom, visual, and collaborate email follow-ups. It can save sales people time, lost (or ignored) emails. It can tell you who opened, what they looked at, what comments they made. It helps you to get virtually engaged and stand out from every other sales email follow up that floods decision makers inboxes.

It can help you make the customer experience personal to your prospect, lead, client or customer. You stand out.

For a brief summary of the Postwire tool, check out this TechCrunch soundbite from their Disrupt conference in NYC.

Sign up for a Postwire account, you can get one for free. Cliff and Craig are keen for feedback as they build more and more functionality into the product.

One piece of advice, and this applies to any new technology that you might expose prospects to- give them a heads up first. Never assume they will know what to do, otherwise you are leaving their customer experience in the hands of someone else. Ask them, do you prefer the standard text email, or a personalized web page for you and your co-workers? Let them know they will need to sign in, but the info is secure, their comments are protected, and it will take less than 30 seconds.

When it comes to tools, or technology, if you don’t understand the
concept that it is all about your customer’s experience, you are dead in
the water. Floating around the ocean in a raft without a paddle, map,
or food, simply tossed about with the latest trend in the current
.

If you are an entrepreneur who knows that the best way to grow a business is through word of mouth, you might be an inbound networker. 

If you are wishing you had more people to send follow-up emails to in the first place so that you could use a cool tool like Postwire, then get on Rick’s calendar, he will know what to do.

For more about me, check out my musings on the Smarketing blog, watch my ADHD in real time on Twitter, or visit me on LinkedIn. Or if  you prefer to speak, select a time on my calendar, I will do the rest.

Photo credit: creativereview.co.uk

Why I read….

I just read two articles.

and
and they reminded me of Kelly’s guest post, “I’m Not a Salesperson“.

Now, one of the dangers of linking to source articles like I did here is that you’ve already been reading for a while and may be out of time. I’ll be brief.
Both Bruce and Jamillah talk about the status quo, change and the importance of being uncomfortable. Bruce suggests reading books, listening to CD’s, taking courses. Jamillah writes, “When the way you consistently do things doesn’t improve your bottom line or build you a better team, then it’s time for a change — or at least an evaluation.”
Evaluation is the difference in the two articles and the reason that Kelly is the way she is. So many people read books, listen to CD’s and take courses without having an objective evaluation done. Kelly agrees that “stuff that got in our head and heart that gets in our way.”, but she only acknowledges the “stuff” that she’s comfortable acknowledging. An objective evaluation shows everything, the comfortable and the uncomfortable. Once the “stuff” is identified then read books, listen to CD’s, take courses, but don’t avoid the ones that make you uncomfortable.
If you’d like to be evaluated, I know it’s crazy, but here’s my number. So call me, maybe.
BTW – watch for the announcement. My new course starting in September for business owners that need customers but don’t want to feel like they’re selling. Learn how to use the new tools with a soft approach. Want to know more? Leave a comment or
send me an email
.

Capital Punishment for Marketing Liars?

I wrote Should you fire marketing? a few days ago.

I wrote My Rant on Liars, Thieves and SMS a couple of months ago.
Lest you think that I’m totally negative, do you remember this article about the Proper Use of LinkedIn?
Now, I’m not suggesting capital punishment for marketers that are stupid, or inept and can’t do their jobs, or even those that believe wrongly and make a mistake. I’m talking about the downright liars.
Twitter notifies me that I have new followers every day. When I get that notification, I look at my new follower’s profile to see who they are and what they’re about. Then I do one of two things.
  1. I send them a direct message like, “Noticed the follow. What brought you by?” If they want to engage, that’s the time. If they don’t, I don’t do anything else and assume that they’re a stalker
  2. If they have stopped following me, I report them for spam. I’d rather use capital punishment, but that’s not one of Twitter’s choices.
I started a group on LinkedIn two weeks ago. When describing the group, I used terminology like 

“by invitation only”, “replace un-active members with new members” and “If you aren’t planning on sharing, you are wasting your time in this group”.

So, yesterday, I removed 5 of the first members to join from the group. I told them that “I believed that we were not on the same page.” I also sent this message to the rest of the group. Why did I do that? Joining and not doing is lying and LinkedIn doesn’t allow capital punishment.
Anything (besides me) bugging you?

Should you fire marketing?

First, let me define “you”.

80% of businesses have fewer than 4 or no employees. If you have fewer than 4 employees, I’m talking to you. Even though there are so many VSB‘s, many sales and marketing consultants consider them unworthy because they don’t have enough money to spend. And, they’re right. These businesses have average revenues of $45,000/year. When you contrast that with the $5M average of the top 20%, it’s a ‘no-brainer‘.
So, if you’re one of the 20% that’s got 5 or more employees and your revenues are in the gazillions, I’m not talking to you. I don’t care. Spend all the money you want on marketing, advertising, promotion, PR and while you’re at it, give all your hot shot salespeople a big raise.
I’m talking to the business owners that do it all; that are their business (or most of it); that don’t have huge budgets and are trying to make ends meet. If you are tired, frustrated or tired of being underpaid or under appreciated, I’m talking to you. Look at all the time that you put into marketing. Seriously, is it working? How about inbound marketing? When was the last time somebody called you and said, “I just saw your tweet. Can I buy from you?” Clearly, you have to be on line. Clearly, you don’t want to be a spammer. Clearly, you don’t want to resort to cold calls.
Here’s the secret. If you tell Joe (imaginary ideal prospect) that you’re wonderful, you’re bragging and you’re trying to sell him. He’ll very likely tune you out and you will waste your marketing and sales resources. If Sam respects you as a professional resource and Joe respects Sam as a professional resource and Sam tells Joe how wonderful you are, Joe is much more likely to listen to Sam and he is more likely to listen ta and buy from you because Sam has paved the way.
How do fire marketing and find your Sams and Joes (and Sallys and Joans)?
Join Inbound Networkers. It’s free at the moment.

How to get to know your target customer- The New Way

Our guest author is Don Battis, a savvy entrepreneur, businessman and financier that has a great story to tell about experienced salespeople using new technologies. He is currently the CEO and founder of Pawntique, an online pawn shop and serves as a director on the board of Great Island Technologies a Value Added Reseller for HubSpot, Box.net, and Shopify

I’m an “Old School” sales guy using new technology.

This is PART 2 of a post about getting to know your customer. This post describes the
process of gathering information about your target customers using technology. (Did you read part 1?)
Sales people today have technology, which makes lead intelligence much easier and
readily available. Potential customer intelligence is available through websites, blogs,
and online public documents. A little time spent searching these resources can give
you an edge to know what are the short and long term objectives and strategies of
the company. If you can connect those explicit or implied strategies with how your
product can help achieve them, you have an opportunity. And a similar analysis of your
competitors’ websites can help you evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.
On a more micro level, LinkedIn can give you a chronology of your guy’s educational
and job history. It also shows where he fits into his organization- the company as a
whole or his little corner of the world. LinkedIn allows you to figure out who else may
be an influencer or decision maker in your sale. Another feature of LinkedIn is that you
can see who is viewing your profile. You can assume that anyone who is checking you
out is probably interested in your offering.
Your prospect’s Facebook account is one of the best sources to find out what he is
interested in. Photos of family activities, hobbies, travel, and interesting news tell much
about a person’s inner workings.
Your prospect’s Twitter account reveals more than just the inane chitchat like “I just
went out for pizza.” Using the “Birds of a Feather Flock Together Principal”, you
can conclude that his twitter followers have some affiliation with him- likely to be co-
workers and business associates. By following the people he follows, you can stay
current on what they are thinking and discussing. This may be important if you want
to be part of their conversation. Remember, whenever possible, people want to do
business with people who have the same interests as them. They trust people in their
own “flock”. These same people are also likely prospects for you.
On your own website, you have tools available today that give you an information
advantage that is so powerful it’s almost unfair. Once a visitor identifies himself by
opting-in, you can track every page he has visited and every download. This tells
you exactly why he is interested and which features are important to him. Using
that intelligence, you can craft an offer to him based on exactly what you know he is
interested in. If a car dealer sees that a customer has been on the site and has downloaded
every article about safety, the dealer should forget about promoting the sleek body styling
or the awesome new sound system. By searching his Facebook account you might find
a family with young kids of “car seat age”. It might be a good idea to make an offer that
emphasizes vehicles that are easy to load small children and have top safety ratings.
Lead intelligence is very much like conducting surveillance- “watching” visitors enter
and wander around our website. They might just want to browse and explore for
themselves and not buy anything. But if they return, it’s an indication that they have a
need and we can nudge them along towards eventually becoming a customer. 
At Pawntique, we use HubSpot All-in-One Marketing Software. We are able to track the
activity from the IP address of a large competitor as they regularly visit our site. They
are watching our progress in the online pawn space and we are watching them watch us.
We have a complete history of all visits, page views, and downloads.
When potential customers opt-in, we can view their social media accounts to help
determine their interests. When a lead returns to our website, we get an email
notification. We then can gently reach out with an email that might refer to the pages
they visited. If they downloaded our eBook, The New Rules of Small Business Finance,
then we might mention how pawn loans have helped small businesses. If they have
downloaded our Pawning 101 Kit, we might mention our online chat capability that they
can use to ask questions.
The new Lead Intelligence technology can give sales people an important edge by
understanding their customers and their true interests. It is also much faster and more
efficient than the old face-to-face sales calls. A pipeline of leads from a wide geographic
area can be managed efficiently using the new tools.
So, what do you think? Was the Old Fashioned Way better than the New Technology way for
getting new sales?
Please comment and let me know your thoughts.

Should You Outsource Sales or DIY?

If you look at my bio,
you’ll notice that I spent 20 years in the debt collection industry and I’d
like to think that I was pretty good at it. One of the questions that I would
ask prospective clients is, “Why don’t you just do it yourself?” I’d typically
get one of three answers.

1.     
“I don’t know what to do.” Many small business
owners don’t anticipate a deal going bad. They assume that because they’re
honest, everybody’s honest and when a customer turns out to be dishonest, the
business owner gets emotional, takes it personally and loses control. Even if I
told them how to collect the money, they probably couldn’t do it.

2.     
“I know exactly what to do, but it’s my busy
season and I don’t have time to deal with it.” Let’s face it, when it’s your
busy season, you usually have a hard enough time keeping up with filling
orders. You don’t have time to send letters, make calls or go to court.

3.     
Finally, it didn’t make good business sense. Bad
debt was a very small percentage of sales. The company was good at finding
business and delivery. Why throw good money after bad by chasing small money.
Think about it. Which would you prefer, to write the bad debt off without
putting any time or resources into collection or to put significant time and
resources into collection and still not collect it? So you still have to write
off the whole debt.

As I think about outsourcing sales, I can’t help but wonder,
“Don’t you have to answer the same question?” and aren’t your answers going to
be similar? I wrote “Collection
Problems = Sales Problems
” almost exactly six years ago. Many of the links
in the post are no longer valid, but if you try to DIY sales and you’re not
good at it, you lose twice!

One more thing, our ego sometimes tries to convince us that
we can do something that we have no business doing. If your ego is telling you
that you can sell, but you’re not sure, contact me for an evaluation. It takes
an hour and you’ll know for sure.

Thanks for reading!

How to get to know your target customer- The Old Fashioned Way

Our guest author is Don Battis, a savvy entrepreneur, businessman and financier that has a great story to tell about experienced salespeople using new technologies. He is currently the CEO and founder of Pawntique, an online pawn shop and serves as a director on the board of Great Island Technologies a Value Added Reseller for HubSpot, Box.net, and Shopify. He is also an inaugural member of Inbound Networkers.

I’m an “Old School” sales guy using new technology. 

This is PART 1 of a 2-part post about getting to know your customer.  This post
describes the process “back-in-the-day” and the 2nd post will talk about how it’s
done now. 
Once upon a time, when salespeople made face-to-face sales calls, you had
to be clever to develop the lead intelligence you needed to make the sale.   I’m
not talking about the stated specifications that were written on the Request For
Quote.  I’m talking about the needs of the person controlling the purchasing
decision.   Until you can understand what motivates and guides them, you can’t
successfully sell them.
How did you gather that intelligence?  Imagine that you show up at your
prospect’s office a few minutes early for your appointment.  You “chatted up”
the lobby receptionist, who often was also the switchboard operator.  If you had
promotional items, like pads of paper or key chains, you shared them generously.
A few minutes of small talk could yield valuable information about your prospect’s
schedule and work habits- is he an early bird? Does he stay late?  Does he
answer his own phone after hours? Is he casual and outgoing or formal and
proper?
Establishing a friendly relationship with the receptionist could mean the
difference of whether or not your future calls got put through.
Often there was a sign-in book where all visitors registered.  A quick glance
could reveal the names of your competitors and when they had called on your
prospect.
Once inside the prospect’s office, you had to think like a detective at a crime
scene.  What do the things in the office reveal about your guy?  A golf trophy, a
picture of the family at Disney World, a crayon drawing of the World’s Greatest
Grandpa, a framed award from the company, a photo of your guy with his CEO,
a cluttered desk, —all of these give you clues as to his personality and how to
relate to him as-a-person.  Not only were these potential conversation starters,
they gave you the chance to empathize with him and establish mutual interests
and trust.
My favorite time for calling on a customer was 11:00 a.m.- just before lunch so
that it was logical after finishing our business to say, “What do you say we run
out for a quick sandwich someplace?” This was a good way to get the buyer
out of his business environment where he was playing his official role and into
a setting where he was more relaxed and willing to share personal information
and “off the record” business info.  Often this revealed which features were
important and how the buying decision was really going to be made- not the
official process.  Maybe it was being made by someone in Engineering that you
needed to convince in order to close the sale.
This intelligence gathering is necessary to find out the true needs of the
customer.  If you know what the company needs, and what the individual
decision makers need, you can present your offering in those terms.  You can
show how you and your company can satisfy those needs.  One of the benefits
of this face-to-face process was that it ALSO provided the opportunity for the
customer to learn about you and come to trust you.  That personal trust is critical
to any sales situation. 


People don’t do business with companies. People do business with people.

Hey! Any of you old timers want to share what you used to do?  Please comment and let me know your thoughts.

Inbound Networking

Dale Berkebile created this graphic to help business owners begin to understand the steps that a customer goes through before they become a customer.

How many new customers do you need this year? 10? 100? 1000? Do the math. Are their 5,120, 51,200 or 512,000 people searching for your product in your market? How will they find you? What will they be looking for? Bright colors? Flashy graphics? Data? E-books? Free trials?
It’s understandable that so many business owners struggle with inbound marketing. Many variables plus lots of competitors making noise all trying to get the same group of people to enter their funnel. As a matter of fact, if you’ve tried inbound marketing you’ve probably discovered that your prospects enter multiple funnels (yours and your competitors) at the same time and play you against each other.
This is much different than the ‘by referral only’ business that I ran for most of my career. The great thing about referrals is that it saves 97% of your marketing effort. Prospects enter the funnel above as real sales calls and you don’t have to deal with 97% (496/512) of the non-buyers that your competition is dealing with.
The problem is that the internet is here to stay and personal and professional networks are more than handshakes. They exist on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other online communities. Small business owners that used to attend weekly networking meetings must now join an Inbound Networking Group, but if you don’t have a big on line presence and you don’t have a huge network, you will probably need help. That’s what the Inbound Networkers Group on LinkedIn is all about. Helping you build your on line presence and your network to grow your business.
Click Inbound Networking Group for information or to join. Contact me if you have questions.

Fun Friday Posts

If you’re on Twitter, you may know that they have this thing called #FF (Follow Friday) and I’m always flattered when somebody mentions @RainMakerMaker on their #FF, but as you know, I don’t work much on Friday, so I often miss them. Here’s my idea….

How about if we screw with the Twitter world, but do it with a Fun Friday post? The post will be silly, or off color, and definitely not serious, but (and this is important) will have a sales lesson in it.
I’ll start. This one comes from a good friend of mine.
  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  -
This is my neighbor:
She’s single…She lives right across the street.  I can see her house from my living room.
I watched as she got home from work this evening.
I was surprised when she walked across the street and up my driveway.
She knocked on my door … I rushed to open it.
She looks at me, and says, “I just got home, and I am so horny! I have this strong urge to have a good time, get drunk, and make love all night long!
Are you busy tonight?”
I immediately replied, “Nope, I’m free… I have no plans at all!”
Then she said, “Good! In that case, could you watch my dog?”
So, how many salespeople think they have a sale but wind up watching a competitor have all the fun?

So, your mission, should you accept it is to Tweet this post with the #FF hashtag. If you want some notoriety, comment before you do. Then they’ll probably read your comment as well as the post.

Want to guest post a #FF? Send it to me.