We Never Talk Anymore

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What We Have Here Is…

In the world of business development and sales, certainly the game has changed, but  some things never change. While we have to continue adjust our strategies to suit our increasingly savvy B2B clients and prospects, there are some cornerstone principles that remain solid. And these things are often so simple, so “in plain sight”, that we simply walk right past them.

Just as Paul Newman so famously said in the movie Cool Hand Luke, “What we have here, is a failure to communicate.”

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Prospects have long been annoyed by salespeople being too “sales-ey” and this has not changed. They used to put up with it because you a) bought lunch, b) brought gifts and c) gave them valuable info about industry trends and maybe a few choice competitor insights. They still don’t mind the lunches, but they really get most of the information they need now online. I mean, surely your prospect doesn’t need to see you to get a very clear view of your product or service offering and benefits, right? It’s all there, on your website, for all the world to see or download to their heart’s content. As a result, salespeople have to find a new source of “value” to clients and prospects.

What salespeople really need to provide now is good old-fashioned communications. Think of it like your “neighborhood” of business. Treat your clients and prospects like good neighbors, by constantly bringing them good news in the form of highly relevant content and market intelligence. It doesn’t necessarily have to be focused on your own industry or area of expertise, either. The key is relevancy to your audience.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

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And like you do with your neighbors, mix it up. You might see a neighbor while out on a walk, you might call them with something more urgent, or you may drop by and stick a note on their door. Do the same thing with your clients and prospects, send email, leave a voice message, drop by and leave a note…any of these methods can work depending on the content being delivered.

So, once you’ve introduced yourself, just try to become a good neighbor first and when the time comes, they’ll come back to you for the info they need to purchase your type goods or services.

 

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Do You Have A “Gutless” Business?

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Are you a coward when it comes to your business development tactics? Do you have the courage of your (marketing) convictions? Are you afraid to separate yourself from the flock?

Unfortunately, this is the case for many small business owners I talk to. There’s way too much “me too” thinking out there, with business owners and marketing staffs just wanting to compare themselves (favorably) to their competition. It sounds, to your prospects, a lot like this: “We do pretty much the same thing as 100 other companies, except we do it better because…(choose your reason here)”. And on and on and on. Blah, Blah, Blah.

The key is not to compare, but to separate your company from the pack.

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Squeeze the balloon to get more sales.

What businesses must force themselves to do (no matter how painful it may be) is to narrow their positioning in one of two areas: either in the market they serve or the scope of services they provide.

Have you ever noticed when you squeeze down on one side of a balloon, the other side gets bigger? But when you press down in the middle, it flattens out.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but you have to narrow your positioning (marketing-wise) in order to gain deeper penetration and drive more sales. And the more competitive your space, the more polarized you need to be. Don’t get me wrong: this doesn’t mean you have to turn down business; it simply means you have market yourself differently.

ice-pick

Think “ice pick”.

Imagine trying to get traction and good penetration into a wall of solid ice. What’s going to work better, an ice pick or flat shovel face? Most businesses I meet with are (unfortunately) using shovels.

Forcing yourself and your team to take a hard look at your marketi positioning can pay great dividends when it comes to curing your business development, lead gen and sales woes.

Now, gather your courage and do what you have to do!

 

 

 

 

If A Content Marketing Tree Falls In The Forest

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It fell. But did anybody hear it?

Chances are, probably not.

A lot of product/services marketing folks are reaching out for new solutions today and many are coming back with the same one: content marketing. And there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, if you are not utilizing content marketing as a fundamental leg on your marketing “stool”, you are probably missing the boat.

It is surely to your advantage to position yourself as an authoritative source in your chosen marketplace while providing your prospects with valuable information that will benefit their businesses. Content (good content) truly is “king” and the development and/or curation of such content should be an important part of your marketing strategy.

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We’re not in Iowa anymore.

But the bigger issue lies in the promotion of this content. And that’s where digital marketing platforms come into play. Yes, I know, many will shrug off the entire notion of “paying for traffic”. And don’t even mention the old school tactics of advertising: direct mail, print media, broadcast, etc. After all, if we build it (and it’s really, really good), they will come, right? In most cases, not so much.

And while no one can suggest that the traditional forms of promotion are dead, content marketing does lend itself more effectively promoted via digital formats. Each channel or platform has it’s own application and you’ll need to choose those that best fit your particular market or niche.

To that end, I recently discovered a great post by Jeff Bullas, one of my favorite marketing bloggers, that does a great job of summarizing the pros and cons of each of the major “paid ad” type platforms. Please feel free to check it out here.

So write on, you content marketers, with pride and conviction in the value of your contributions to the markets you serve.

Just don’t forget to actually tell someone about it!

 

 

Is Lead Gen Dead?

Most businesses with a sales staff of more than one utilize some type of lead generation and opportunity tracking system. And usually there is a version of the sales “pipeline” somewhere in some responsible sales manager’s hands. It probably looks something like this:

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The Lead Gen Problem

The problem many business owners face is that either (a) there’s not enough lead generation being done to fill the pipeline to begin with, or (b) the pipeline seems full, but not enough sales are being generated from those leads. They usually think this is caused by either gathering too many unqualified (not real) leads, or poor closing techniques by the sales staff.

The real reason this occurs is that too much focus and effort is placed on the extremes of the pipeline (top and bottom) and not enough in the middle. This is called “pipeline marketing” or “pipeline management”.

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How Does Your Grass Grow?

About ten years ago in late May, as I was working and sweating, trying to do everything I could to improve my lawn’s slim chances of survival during the hot summer months to come, a neighbor (who’s lawn just happened to be the envy of the neighborhood) strolled by and said: “You know, if you’ll work this hard on your lawn in September and October, next spring you won’t have to work half this hard and your grass will look great all summer.”

Eureka!

The Key To A Greener Sales Forecast

The key to improving sales is not just in what we do on the front end filling the pipeline, or in what tactics we take to convert those leads to sales. If we’ll commit to working half as hard on pipeline marketing, we’ll find it takes a lot less lead generation activity (and dollars spent) or sweating out closings to generate a lot more “green” in the end.