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Selling to everyone

Selling isn’t about the shine; it’s about what happens when the shine has worn off.

Will your (or your clients’) management will think positively of you a year from now because of an investment you championed?

They’d better.

Sales calls: How they react

What’s your reaction when a salesperson calls?

Are there any salespeople who stand out from the crowd that you don’t want to talk to? If you’re a salesperson and you don’t get sales calls, ask around your company about the nature of the sales calls your management receives. You could learn a lot about the calls you make.

With a few exceptions, here are the reasons why I react the way I do to your sales call:

  • I don’t know you, even though you act like I do.
  • I still have a bad feeling about our last deal and you act like that didn’t happen.
  • I don’t need anything right now, but I am willing to listen to new stuff – just in case – IF you make an appointment.
  • You don’t have an appointment. Message received = You don’t respect my schedule or my time.
  • I’m the wrong person or we’re have zero need.
  • Last time we talked, you gave a generic presentation suited to all businesses, rather than one fine tuned for my business needs.
  • Your last presentation was like drinking from a firehose.
  • The financials from our last discussion were generic and didn’t identify the payoff period.
  • Your assessment of labor cost savings (despite my objections/feedback) is inaccurate and/or you tend to ignore the additional costs incurred by implementing your solution, such as management costs.
  • You are out of touch with what’s going on with the product side of your business, such as open issues, deliverability delays, implementation costs / timelines.

Sales calls: How they want to react

What people would like to feel when you call is “This person is a champion for our company. They only call when there’s a likely win ready for me, or when I need to know about something new in the industry that might affect our business.

You get to that point in your clients’ minds in part by asking yourself questions like these:

Why am I qualified to propose these solutions?

Do I have testimonials not only for my solution and company, but for the job I’ve done helping my clients?

My prospect / client fits us well because…

We are a good fit for our prospect / client because…

Have you reviewed the alternatives to your solution? If so, what are the pros and cons of each and why is yours the best fit for us?

Is my company a market leader? Not just in revenue, but in vision.

Is my company cranking out the same old thing to milk their cash cow, or are we also thinking about what our clients upcoming needs and producing something to address them?

Can my solution, my company and my proposal help my clients solve problems without causing them to lose momentum?

Selling to everyone means selling to anyone

When you produce financials to sell your deal, you have to do the math and show your work, just like a high school test. Your proposal’s payback, implementation timeline and life cycle must reflect the client’s reality and your company’s ability to deliver.

The challenge is that every department views ROI differently. Today, you’re often selling to everyone in your client’s company.

A proposal citing the accounting and tax benefits will interest Accounting, but will resonate with Manufacturing / Shipping people who are concerned with process efficiency, throughput, MTBF and similar metrics?

Without buy in from everyone involved, your sale will be harder than it has to be.

Everyone involved“? The discussion that sells the CEO and CFO will differ from one that gets Manufacturing on board, much less the one that gives the warehouse manager the tools necessary to get their staff on board.

Why should you care about whether the warehouse is on board?

Because they can kill a purchase, even though you never hear it that way. No CEO will tell you that Margaret in Accounting killed the deal or that the guys in the shop / on the dock thought the solution made no sense.

A final question: “Have you produced in-context materials for the client’s departments that help the client’s management sell the proposal to each department on their own terms?

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Billboards and plumber’s pants

Drive around long enough and you’ll see a billboard that says “If you’re looking, it’s working”.

I see the same slogan on electronic advertising displays, which can be found everywhere from restaurant restrooms and gyms to billboards.

Is it “working” when you accidentally glance at the back of a plumber’s pants when he’s on his knees with his head buried under your sink? Or when you stare at an auto accident?

A definition

“My ad is working” means “people take action as a result of the ad”. It does not mean “someone with a heartbeat saw the ad”.

“Working” doesn’t always equal spending money, but it does always mean taking action.

After you glance over at that auto accident, if you put on your seat belt…. that’s action. Cause and effect. Taking action.

That’s what “working” means when it comes to an ad.

“But, you can’t track billboard response”

Yes, you can.

I’ve yet to see a media whose usage cannot be tracked.

To be sure, you can’t track how many people read your ad on a billboard or in the newspaper, though you can estimate numbers based on drive-by traffic statistics published by governmental agencies (for billboards) and subscription + newsstand buys + online page views (for newspapers).

The number *reading* your ad isn’t the important number. Sure, if you have a general consumer product, you want to tell as many people as you can, but you don’t go to the bank with “eyeballs”, page views, newsstand copies or cars-per-day.

You go with sales revenue.

What you really want to be paying attention to is how many people took action as a result of your ad, no matter where it is.

You can absolutely track what happens if readers take action, but many businesses don’t. As a result, they’re operating on gut feel, guesswork or a seat of the pants idea of what their ads are doing.

Look at the advertising you’re doing. Are you tracking any of it? If not, how do you know which ads work and which don’t? How do you know which media work (for you) and which don’t? (or don’t work as well)

Just because an ad or media is “free” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be tracking results.

Start tracking and you’ll start knowing what’s working and what isn’t.

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Creating the slot machine that never loses

Lobster Slot Machine - Las Vegas
Creative Commons License photo credit: dlr2008

I‘ve had a survey going on the site here for a while. It asks “What’s your biggest marketing challenge?”

25% of respondents have said “Making time to do the marketing”. That tells me that those folks still aren’t tracking the response they get to their marketing.

Why? If your marketing has been successful, then you know that it’s like a slot machine that doesn’t lose.

What I mean by that is that when your marketing is working, you can put $1.29 in and get $2.34 out (or whatever your number is).

So let me get this right… if your marketing efforts (overall) return $1.05 in PROFIT every time you spend $1.29, why wouldn’t your marketing be one of your highest priority tasks? In fact, why wouldn’t it be number one?

Are there other tasks you perform that have a greater return?

Tracking in circles

I realize this is a bit of a circular argument:

  • You: “I don’t spend much time on my marketing cuz I don’t know what works.”
  • Me: “If you start tracking, you will know. Once you know, you’ll understand what works, what doesn’t and it’ll become clear why your marketing is job #1 and how you can outspend your competition on it and still win.”

…and so on.

The only way to get to the point where you can play the slot machine that never loses is by *tracking the response to your marketing*.

I know, we’ve talked about this before. Tracking transforms your marketing from an expense into an investment with a known return.

PLEASE, please start paying specific attention to the performance of your marketing efforts.

Here’s a starting point to find posts at Business is Personal that will help you get started on tracking response:

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You and the NY Times, bucking for change of another kind

From the Oct 28, 2008 issue of the New York Times, an excerpt from the column “The Media Equation”:

Stop and think about where you are reading this column. If you are one of the million or so people who are reading it in a newspaper that landed on your doorstop or that you picked up at the corner, you are in the minority. This same information is available to many more millions on this paperâ??s Web site, in RSS feeds, on hand-held devices, linked and summarized all over the Web.

Things change. In every business.

Businesses faced with such situations typically have two choices: Adjust or lose the opportunity to do so.

Oh, I guess there might be a third: denial.

The NY Times figured this out a while back. Even the denial part.

To their credit, they’re still changing and adjusting how they provide content – a process of change they’d better get used to.

One example: They created the NY Times Reader, a nice Windows-based program that was created to display the Times in its original format on your screen, complete with high quality font display, 7 days of issues available to read with no requirement to be connected to the net once the news is initially downloaded.

But not all things are bright and shiny in the Land of Change: Another quote from the same column illustrates a collision of new and old thinking, and a teaspoon of Dont-Quite-Get-It-Yet:

More than 90 percent of the newspaper industryâ??s revenue still derives from the print product, a legacy technology that attracts fewer consumers and advertisers every single day. A single newspaper ad might cost many thousands of dollars while an online ad might only bring in $20 for each 1,000 customers who see it.

Is that just the slightest hint that they are still in a bit of denial about the price of newspaper print advertising out of whack with the value provided?

It’s NOT about how many people see the ad

It’s about who sees it, and further, who responds to it. That’s what advertisers should be paying for. One price to display to just the right audience. Another price if they respond.

Why another price if they respond? A great ad in front of the right audience at the right time will elicit a good response and generate more than enough revenue to make the ad worthwhile.

If this isn’t clear, consider this: If I see a feminine hygiene commercial 42 times (or 42,000 times), is it likely that I will ever respond? Ladies, you could easily find a parallel from the male world that you’d never respond to.

So why bother displaying the ad?

Why doesn’t the NY Times offer the option to never see ads, in exchange for paying more to read it? Or maybe I just don’t have time for ads on weekdays, so the Sunday Times still shows ads to me. Different fee.

It’s 2008. My paper should react to me and my needs. I might not mind ads if they were targeted at my needs, based on demographics and psychographics, among other things.

These ideas are troublesome for a print publication. Revolutionary to the newspaper business perhaps, but easy for a digital publication to deliver.

With all that in mind…

What kind of information should you be looking at for improved delivery? Sales info. Customer support info. How to info. Company news. Info for employees. Info for business partners. Training.

How are you and your business prepared – and continuing to prepare – for the speed that information delivery is changing?

Two choices. Adjust, or become the next $1 magazine like TV Guide. Not a $1 for one issue – $1 for the entire magazine.

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Olympic ads: Measurable ROI = $0?

As we’ve discussed here before, unmeasurable advertising is useless. But don’t feel like you have to believe me. In today’s guest post, read why Denny Hatch also doesn’t think much of traditional entertaining TV ads.

As we’ve discussed here before, awards and cuteness aren’t the goal of your marketing.

Results is the only real measure of successful marketing.

Sales. New clients. New leads.

Not warm fuzzies.

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Direct Mail Mistakes That Cost You Money

Several of my clients use direct mail for the obvious reasons – it works. Like a chainsaw in the hands of the skilled artisan, the results can be amazing.

Or they can be downright awful.

Common mistakes people make when using direct mail:

  • Talking about the wrong thing
  • Not knowing your numbers
  • Making assumptions
  • Not segmenting your mailing

Let’s look at each of these direct mail mistakes (yes, they could also be made in other media).

Talking about the wrong thing

You might remember a project from several months ago where we talked about political candidate websites and what you can learn from them and their signup processes.

I’m still on all those lists, mostly so I can see what techniques they’re using.

One of the candidates keeps emailing me at the end of each month, asking for a contribution and reminding me that the campaign contribution reporting period ends the next day.

As if I care.

I’m a voter, or in small business terms, a prospect.

I don’t give a flip about campaign reporting periods. I care about issues and what a candidate is going to do about them – something rarely (if ever) mentioned in detail in their contacts.

You wouldn’t offer to talk about AARP to a teenager. Why would you contact your prospects and talk about something they don’t care about? Don’t do it.

Not knowing your numbers

Before you stick that thing in the mail, you better have way to track who responds and of those who respond, who orders.

Yes, I mean keep track of and take action based on: How many you mailed, how many the mailing caused to respond, or how many of those who responded actually bought.

Making assumptions

In particular, making assumptions about the relationship you have with the person you mailed to.

I received a piece of mail not long ago that was personalized and made reference to things I had done in the past with this entity, yet made a slew of inaccurate assumptions about our relationship.

The result? The mailer hit the trash before I finished reading it.

You wouldn’t steal a kiss at the front door as you picked up someone on a blind date. Don’t make assumptions about the relationship you have with those you are mailing to.

Not segmenting your mailing

If you were doing the mailing for Ford Motor Company, would you send the same brochure to everyone in the country?

Of course not. But you probably do it with your mailings.

  • The same people who buy a Mustang Cobra are not likely to be buying an Escape Hybrid.
  • The same people who buy a F350 Diesel are not likely to be buying a Probe.

And yes, it is possible a family might have both, but your mailing’s goal shouldn’t be to sell BOTH, or you’ll end up sending 300 million identical mailers out and getting 0.0000001% response from them.

  • You send the camper and boat owners, construction business owners, farmers and similar businesses info about the heavy-duty diesel trucks.
  • You send the Mustang Cobra mailing to successful people in the right income brackets and age groups (if you are Ford, you know exactly what those brackets / groups are).
  • You send the Escape Hybrid mailing to people who subscribe to Mother Earth News or Money, as well as kayak owners in the Pacific Northwest. But only those in certain income brackets.

You segment your mailing rather than rain huge piles of random paper down on their heads that do little more than empty your bank account.