Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Success Stories Create Emotional Attachment to Your Brand

Don't Let Selling Interfere With The Sale - Instead, Tell Me A Story

A portfolio of compelling success stories proves that your company is in the customer results business and that you're not just a vendor of products and services.

With each one narrowcasted for a target audience, and without sounding like an infomercial, a Success Story inspires people to act. Each story demonstrates how you've tackled challenges similar to theirs with solutions that produced desired results.  As a retention tool, success stories remind customers of what you did for them.

Brand your company as an array of customer stories that can be narrated by your employees and by external people who draw their own conclusions, insert themselves into your story, and retell it in their own words.

Top tier BizD professionals are natural "Story Sellers".  The middle tier, who fear the risk of tackling new customer challenges, will learn what your company has done for its customers and feel less threatened when looking for new customer problems to solve.

If you don't tell your stories, you are wasting an opportunity to differentiate your company.

If you don't have compelling stories to tell, you probably compete on features, price and delivery, which shouldn't give you a high degree of confidence in your business.

Stories should be available in hard copy and online to provide more details that support the narrative. Online versions should include keywords that enable self-service discovery by those looking for solutions.

Email marketing campaigns can direct a story to the appropriate audience if your CRM system or mail list includes the right account and profile information.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Sharing Blog Posts With Social Networks Optimizes Readership

I always share my blog posts with my social networks, but I was curious as to how social sharing impacted blog readership.  So, I did a test with two recent blog posts by not sharing them with my social networks.

As it turns out, open rates were 5 times higher for posts that I shared with my social networks [LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook].

This confirms my hypothesis and I will continue to "social share" my blog posts.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Quality Reviews Retain Customers and Earn Referrals

Quality Reviews Prove Your Commitment To Total Client Satisfaction

Don't fear what you might learn about your company. It will set the stage for growth.

After important projects or sales, a quality review debriefing between you and your client verifies that desired results were achieved and discovers gaps requiring resolution. It recognizes those that contributed valiantly.  It reveals your company's weaknesses that need to be addressed along with strengths that can be leveraged en route to being selected for the next opportunity. It gives the client confidence to refer you to others who have a similar challenge.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Business Relationships

There Will Always Be Someone Who Wants To Eat Your Lunch

The only way to create and then strengthen interpersonal business relationships is to help each contact achieve goals, minimize risk, enjoy what they're doing, eliminate pain, etc.

All the personal stuff is fluff [golf, football tickets, lunch, etc.] that will make a difference only if job #1 is accomplished.

First, get to know their company and industry before attempting to gain personal credibility with them. 

Then, make sure they know if you have a strong business relationship with others that they admire in their own organization.  It lessens their risk in partnering with you because they don't have to be the first.

Continually add value just to maintain your relationship because someone else that they've discovered on their own in this new world of self-service marketing has come along without your knowing it.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Lead Generation Through Online Press Releases

PR Generated Leads Rank Second To Referrals In Terms Of Close Rate

Online press releases fuel self-service searches for information about products and services that will lead people to your company before you know an opportunity exists.

Commit to Online PR if you want people to find all things newsworthy about your business.  They will read it, act upon it and share it.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Lesson On How To Kill Your Brand

Is Your Company Doing What It's Known For?

Not too long ago HP was branded as a technical innovation leader - not by itself, but by its customers.  Its tailored products were expertly aimed at a well-defined target market [not all things to all users]. Prior to 1990 I always marveled at the strong affinity that  customers had with the HP brand.  I learned this from my experience competing directly with HP while working for Texas Instruments and Tektronix.  HP customers were passionate about HP and willing to engage in verbal battles defending HP.  I remember how HP's RPN scientific calculator language created vociferous arguments between HP customers and TI's customers who preferred TI's AOS calculator language.  HP's engineering workstation was the market leader.  HP minicomputers owned the manufacturing automation marketplace. HP OpenView was the leader in IT systems management.

HP always competed on value, never on price.  It's prices were always higher, but perceived value was too. The new HP tries to blend the old HP with its acquisitions - Digital Equipment, Compaq, and others.  Now HP competes on price and tries to sell to everyone.  I don't think HP has that passionate brand appeal of days prior to the 90's.

I'm disappointed to be greeted with a commodityish home page when I visit  I'm sure Mr. Hewlett and Mr. Packard would feel the same way I feel.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Closers Earn Face Time

Here's Another Way That Top Closers Earn Face Time

Yes, being referred by a trusted lead source and managing a quality customer portfolio are tried and true weapons for finding new prospects and quickly and efficiently converting them to close-mode sales opportunities. But online tools can also be a formidable weapon in your business development arsenal if used wisely.

Social networks, email marketing and other online tools are great BizD resources for preliminary research, staying in touch and featuring your best ideas to get yourself noticed - but don't allow them to trap you into thinking that they are closing tools.

Recruit them to be your point guard who sets up the plays so that you can score easy buckets at trade shows, sales interviews, etc.

Just like the skilled marketing person who blends eye catching layout with content, let your online efforts capture attention and help you earn the right to present content in person after which the prospect says, "I'm glad I made time for that".

Why do my LinkedIn connections only appear when they have new connections?  I'd like to read more posts from them.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Focus On Most Valuable Customers In A Challenging Economy

FocusFocus during this challenging economy by asking "What's A Most Valuable Customer Worth"?

MVCs, the core of your business, have a high lifetime value and unrealized potential. MVC traits:
  1. They award you most of their business through repeat high margin sales
  2. They buy during economic downturns
  3. They are easy to do business with and readily self serve themselves
  4. Because you are well positioned within their organization, they tell you what you need to do to win - no guesswork.
  5. They provide collaborative assistance in designing new products and services 
  6. Being in your customer portfolio enhances your stature because of their reputation
  7. They refer you to new potential MVCs
MVCDo you know who are your MVCs? Do you have enough of them?

Do you know who are your Most Growable Customers (MGCs) who can be developed into MVCs?

I believe that you should strive for MVCs + MGCs to comprise 80% of your customer base.

I also believe that your field sales reps should be managing only MVPs and MGCs. If they're investing time with second tier customers (STCs) or below zero customers (BZs), you have too many sales reps. Instead, your inside and online sales processes should manage STCs and your marketing process should nurture leads to sales ready status.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Business Owners Fit the 80/20 Rule

Pareto's Rule 

Applies To Business Owners



 20% Have These Characteristics

  • Their communication style establishes trust, honesty and dependability
  • They follow through on their commitments
  • They're not distracted because they behave like CEOs rather than employees
  • They don't flinch when an unexpected situation occurs
  • They have courage to take advantage of defining moments
  • Positive change trumps the status quo
  • They look for opportunities to expand comfort zones - personal and company 
  • They build an action culture of great execution
  • They build processes that encourage the right actions

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Earn The Right To Charge The Price You Want

Premium Prices Are Not An Entitlement

If the best-in-class company in your category charges a prestige or premium price, this doesn't entitle you to position your price near the rim of their price umbrella unless you can match their brand reputation for an excellent customer experience - before, during and after the sale - including the value derived from their products and services.

If you don't exceed the NetPromoter Score acid test of being told that you consistently deliver total satisfaction and can prove it by the frequency referrals you receive, your price is probably too high.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Easiest Time To Improve Is When Things Are Going Well

Don't Miss the Opportunity To Raise the Bar During Good Times

Have you noticed when things aren't going so well your peripheral vision shrinks and you don't pay attention to opportunities for improvement?

With this in mind, shouldn't we make every effort to improve when things are going well?  More discretionary funds become available. Higher confidence levels are evident throughout the organization. There tends to be less risk avoidance and more willingness to expand comfort zones. Positive attitudes begin to take over.

Continue to raise the bar and elevate to the next level of something, whether it be customer experience, profitability, marketing process, team participation levels, efficiency ...

The Top 10% Are looking to Raise The Bar At All Times

Even when their economy isn't doing well

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What Is The Role Of Sales Commissions In Your Company?

If I Were a Customer and You Were a Sales Rep

Here's How I'd Like You to be Paid

How do you feel when the person with whom you are dealing will earn a commission or win a trip when you buy from them?
  • Does anyone other than the sales rep win?  Do you win? Does their company win?
  • Do they understand your needs and interests?
  • Will they traverse your buying cycle so that you can do things at your pace?
  • Will they be concerned about your experience after the sale?
  • How do you know what's behind their recommendation?  Is it truly your best interests, or an internal SPIF, or selling what's in stock, or inventory liquidation, etc.?  Do they need this sale in order to make quota?
I'd prefer to know that the sales rep is being compensated based on my level of satisfaction.  Companies need to take a fresh look at their sales compensation schemes.  They need to be designed so that when their company wins, the sales rep becomes eligible to win.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Cheap Doesn't Mean Low Price

Use Your Words Wisely

Cheap Doesn't Mean Low Price

It's like finger nails scraping a blackboard when I hear someone say that their product is cheaper, or that they are looking to buy something that is cheaper.

Do they really mean that?  Cheap translates to "poor quality", not better value.

If a quality product happens to be available at a lower price, wouldn't it be better to say that it's less expensive or more economical?

With this as the backdrop, can someone tell me what they'd rather buy or sell that is "cheaper" than the alternative?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"Like" Doesn't Really Mean "Like" on Facebook

Awareness expands when you click Like on a Facebook page.  Your community automatically sees everything you Like.

But, does Like lose its meaning when a company says "Like and be eligible to win something"?  [I guess you can't blame people who Like your offer if they stand to get something in return.]

As a marketer, I refrain from baiting people to Like my article, or product or website, etc.  Otherwise, how would I know how many people really Like my product or service or article, etc.?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Your Preferences Don't Matter

Only Customer Preferences Matter

Quite often a client will balk at a new marketing or business development idea that I present to them.  They resist the change with personal rationale such as "I wouldn't respond favorably to that"; or "I wouldn't meet with a representative who used that approach"; or "that'll never happen".  Those who try the idea often say, "you proved me wrong on that one".

When crafting marketing strategies or campaigns, don't think in terms of your own preferences.  Instead, understand  the needs, wants, problems and preferences of those you are serving.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Al Dente` Approach to Marketing

The Al Dente` Marketing Strategy

Throw it on the wall and see what sticks

This strategy is followed by many marketers and it doesn't work very well.  Create a master plan and make sure everything you do is aligned with it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Likeability Vs. Desirability

Likeability and/or Desirability

Essential Traits for Being Selected

To me, likeability reveals DNA for building a strong network and bringing out the best in others, while desirability is earned by delivering a beneficial result, or providing advantage or pleasure.

What is the golden ratio of desirability [a] to likeability [b]?  Can desirable people thrive with a low likeability factor?  How brightly must their product or service shine as the obvious choice to buyers?  Are they artificially likeable for as long as they continue to help their customers look good based on the excellent results produced by their product or service?

Can likeable people survive for a longer period of time when their products or services aren't always the obvious choice?

How would you want your [a] and [b] to be rated by your customers, prospects and channel partners?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Big Sales Opportunities Need Winning Competitive Strategies

Strengthen Relationships By Beating The Competition

Past Relationships Are Trumped by the Winning Strategy

Great experiences at your touch points during a customer's buying cycle will earn you an invitation to begin your selling cycle and a mutually advantageous business relationship.

Developing insight into the customer's products, business model, politics and culture will prepare you to adeptly navigate their power base and beat the competitor's strategy - keys to winning a large sales opportunity.

The customer power base will take notice of your strategic approach.  Many will want their sales teams to emulate your process You've already proven that your strategy is aligned with their best interests, so they'll invite you to compete for future opportunities so they can watch you in action.

According to Holden International, only 3% of B2B companies vie for large opportunities at a strategic level. Just 17% earn political support[24% compete at the feature/benefit level; 56% at the value-added level.]

If your company is "strategically competent", you will improve the probability of winning.  Strong relationships and loyalty will become byproducts.

If not, you'll need a strong change agent to address the high level of resistance by managers and sales reps who won't want to expand their comfort zones.  Motivate a "strategically favorable" emotional response by rationally engaging them to believe that status quo risk is greater than moving forward.

Watch this 7-minute video on Holden's Power Base Selling.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

It's Not Micromanaging

Do Employees Say You're Micromanaging Them?

Ever had an employee whose inner child sets you on your heels when they say "you're micro managing me"?

Here's a basketball analogy that you can use to differentiate micromanaging from what you're really doing.

The Right Approach to Practice Optimizes Chances to Win
The best coach/manager leadership persona has vision to structure the team and design a style of play that integrates cohesive rhythm on offense with intensive continuity on defense by players who execute as a seamless unit through teamwork and communication.

The coaching staff avoids ambiguity by breaking down each play in order to transform goals into individual responsibilities and specific steps.  Multidimensional, skilled players fit this style of play each season.  They have strong fundamentals [shoot, pass, dribble, create floor balance, move the ball, move without the ball, exploit mismatches, know when to dish or shoot].

Professionals welcome the opportunity to participate in hours of film sessions listening to coaches and team mates candidly criticize their game and identify opportunities to improve their game.  Imagine if they viewed this as micromanaging?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Customers Not Responsible for Your Quota

"What can you do to close this sale before the end of the month?

We need this in order to make our quota."

Don't introduce incentives or pressure the customer to sign because it's in your best interest.

Bad things will result if you venture outside the boundaries of making sure that all commitments are up to date [yours, your team's and the buyer's team]. Also logical next steps to manage the opportunity to closure must be mapped out.

By interrupting the natural flow, you will reduce the profitability of the sale, mar the customer relationship and create inefficiencies for your sales reps who need to be working on other opportunities and relationships.

Leverage a sales opportunity's sales cycle. Strengthen the relationship and create an above the funnel entry for the next opportunity.  That's the essence of smart account management.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sales Rep Optimism - Key to Winning

After watching today's 5-minute video on, I thought about the psychologist's one-sided premise. I'd like to present Side B to complement his hypothesis.  He took the employer-centric view because he wants to sell candidate evaluation services.  He suggests that companies must look for people who have optimism built into their DNA because it can't be taught.  I agree, but I also believe that there are company-centric and transactionally oriented companies like Oracle, HP, EMC, Sprint, and many others that cause sales reps who are naturally optimistic to suppress this trait because they just can bring themselves to opt-in.

It's likely that an innately optimistic sales person with the necessary professional and technical skills along with a natural competitive drive will produce average results if their company does not possess its own DNA traits that build employee and customer allegiance.  Otherwise, sales reps won't commit their personal resources, only their time and physical energy.  Yuck!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Paradigm Overexposes Kodak

In the early 1990's who could have imagined that Canon Sure Shots, Blackberries, iPhones and iPads would be looming on the horizon?

Market leaders manage their dynamic product portfolios to keep pace with trends so that new paradigms aren't killers.

Kodak took its eye off the mark.  Now, it will file for Chapter 11 because there remains only small well-defined niches for its best-in-class traditional products.  In fact, in order to raise cash, there's talk about Kodak selling digital imaging patent rights.

Who is being held accountable for all those grandmothers whose shares of Kodak have dropped from $6 to $.75 per share ?  Who was in charge when the paradigm shift began?

Kodak was unwilling to respond to the paradigm shift that wrecked its dynasty.  The same fate sounded the death knell for many product-centric leaders. Polaroid is mostly in the past.  Digital Equipment didn't want to cannibalize its minicomputer business. Tektronix thought its proprietary hi-res graphics technology could never be topped.  Buggy whip manufacturers didn't recognize that they were in the transportation business.

What a great case study for innovators.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Advertisers Use Mediocre Content

If you study "product-centric" ads, you'll notice the same trite phrases and buzz words that everyone else uses. They don't do a good job of setting themselves apart from all the rest.

Media vendors, whose end game is to run the ad [TV, Radio, Print ...], would prefer that clients provide content, but most don't have a content portfolio for them to draw upon.  So, the media vendor scrambles to author content that doesn't differentiate their client from others who are hoping that an undifferentiated market will "buy my stuff".

If you haven't taken the time to continually update your content portfolio to be aligned with your marketing and business development strategy, you are making a big mistake because you won't be able to create a differentiating theme for a well-defined audience and produce measurable results for the call to action you've set as your goal for every promotional campaign.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Deductive Advertising Is Better

Don't invest in inductive advertising [here's my product - figure out what you can do with it].

Instead, only invest in deductive advertising [if you have this problem or opportunity, then this solution is right for you].