The six jobs of a great Realtor (& why these might apply to you, too)

realtorsweaterMy wife and I just bought a new house (three blocks from our current house, which is a longer story), and are putting our home of 12 years on the market next week.  It’s already been a whirlwind of activity on numerous fronts, as you know if you’ve been through this process once or three times.

This is the first time I’ve bought and sold a home at the same time, and the process thus far has reinforced why a great real estate agent is so important.

I’ve worked in or around the real estate industry via start-ups and other service providers for years, and there’s certainly an undercurrent out there that all real estate agents basically do the same thing, that access to the MLS is a commodity.  But if you’ve had a great Realtor, you know their role and value goes well beyond that.

Here are the six roles our Realtor in particular has already played for us:

  • Project manager: She’s keeping a tight schedule of what happens when, coordinating between our loan officer, the seller, and the weekly (and sometimes daily) deliverables she needs from us to keep things moving on time.
  • Negotiator: She’s advocated for us with the seller, with the City of Kirkland, with our inspector, as well as a variety of other people we probably don’t even know about.  It’s more than just “being in our corner.” It’s knowing how to advocate for us, how and where to make compromises to move things forward, but ultimately how to get us what we want.
  • Mediator: There have been times when my wife and I have a differing opinion about something.  Our Realtor has been great at working with us to quickly reach a decision or compromise.  It’s been helpful that we have a great, open relationship with her, so can speak freely and efficiently to reach a conclusion.
  • Marketer: Getting the maximum price for a home sale is more than just writing a good listing description.   It also involves staging.  The psychology of a home buyer’s first visit and first impressions of the home.  The difference between getting and losing $5-10K+ extra from your home sale comes from the little things, but that’s a huge part of marketing the home.  It’s tangible and intangible, but given that most of us rarely go through this process, it would be next to impossible to recognize some of these things on our own.
  • Therapist: Buying and selling a home, with three kids in tow and a full-time job, is not for the faint of heart.  Our Realtor has been great at keeping us on point mentally as well.  It’s a delicate balance but clearly part of the job, in my opinion.
  • Futurist: My Realtor’s job was not to take our literal house requirements and create MLS filters.  She also learned about how we wanted to live in that home.  What we wanted to do in it.  How we might grow into it over time.  In this way, our Realtor needed to have some vision beyond what the house looks like or is today.

I’d say these or similar attributes apply to a variety of professional services roles, and/or any customer-facing role including sales, customer service, etc.  Curious to hear your opinion or perspective as well.

Best practices for birthdays (yours and theirs) on social media

facebook-birthday-1My birthday was last week and I got a number of very nice messages from people on a few social networks.  My experience last Wednesday as well as what I try to do daily to recognize other people’s birthdays got me thinking about a short set of best practices to best take advantage of birthdays to nurture relationships you have with your overall network.

Here are a couple best practices for your own birthday, as well as on the birthday of others.

On Your Birthday

  • Respond to Everybody: I know it takes time, but it’s worth it.  It shows you care and noticed, even if it’s just a quick “thank you NAME”.
  • Block time on your schedule to do this: Give yourself a block of time to engage.  You might need more time than that, and it’s OK to take 1-2 days to get back to people.  They will understand.  But it’s still appreciated.
  • Respond with questions to start a conversation: You literally never know where it will lead.  It could turn into your next sales opportunity, or an invite to a ballgame, or introduction to someone that’s important to you.  Either way, if you take the time to ask something back, you open up more opportunities for serendipitous value.

For Other People’s Birthdays

  • Set up notifications so you know:  Facebook and LinkedIn is pretty much all you need, but turn on the email notifications so these become part of your daily or morning routine.
  • Customize the message and headline:  LinkedIn in particular gives you some default copy, but if you keep that you’ll literally look like everyone else.  Do something a little different, even if it’s just changing some words.  Feel free to us the same or similar copy for multiple people to keep things simple.  It’s particularly important to differentiate the subject line so it shows up uniquely in their inbox.
  • Consider offering something fun:  Last week, someone wrote “act surprised at the party” in their note to me.  Someone else included a great meme.  These are probably used every day with everybody else, but it was new to me.  And it stood out.
  • Send your message the day or night before: Instead of getting caught in the crowd of everyone else, you’re one of the first!
  • Send an offline note: This definitely takes more time, but even if it’s a couple days late, it stands out, adds more value, and is also more likely to generate a response and potentially a discussion that benefits both of you.

Curious what best practices you may use, of what’s stood out to you when others are recognizing your birthday (online or otherwise).

Does Your Firm Have a Visible Expert? How building visibility in your ranks leads to profit and growth

Guest Blog post by Lee W. Frederiksen

Knowledgeable in-house experts are the backbone of any firm, but few of those experts are what we call Visible Experts, professionals who are very well known within the industry. Why does that matter? New research from the Hinge Research Institute clearly demonstrates that high-visibility experts deliver key benefits to employers—helping firms become more recognized, attract more leads, and grow faster. In this post we’ll look at why this happens, and just what firms stand to gain by developing Visible Experts in their ranks.

The Halo Effect

It’s apparent that recognition will help a professional on an individual level—after all, the more well known you are, the more likely that clients will seek you out and want to work with you. But how does personal recognition help an expert’s firm?

To understand why Visible Experts matter to a firm, we have to travel back in time to 1915, when a researcher named Edward Thorndike conducted a social study about how people make judgments. In his study, Thorndike discovered that if a person had one strong positive trait, such as being attractive, it would positively influence people into believing they also had other good qualities, such as a strong work ethic. He called this phenomenon the halo effect.

Flash forward to the present day, and Thorndike’s halo effect explains how a buyer who already perceives a Visible Expert in a positive light is likely to believe that the expert’s firm is wonderful, too. Bottom line? As an expert builds their own recognition, their firm benefits, too.

The Benefits

The research demonstrated that firms reap multiple benefits from their Visible Experts, including growth, brand building, lead generation, and higher fees. Let’s explore these findings:

1.  Growth

66In the study, we found that 66% of all Visible Experts exert a major positive influence on their firms in terms of business development and growth. When we dug into this category, we found that Visible Experts bolstered firms’ businesses across a number of areas, with the biggest increases occurring in firm growth, lead generation, and audience reach.

2.  Brand Building

62The research showed that 62% of Visible Experts greatly contribute to building their firms’ brands. Visible Experts help their firms establish trust and market leadership, expand their reputations, and increase overall brand recognition. We also saw firms enjoying increased brand awareness simply from being associated with a Visible Expert’s name.  The figure below shows the breakdown.

Visible Experts'3.  Generating Leads

Visible Experts were found to be lead-generating machines, significantly boosting the number of inbound leads for their firms. The research showed Visible Experts generating leads for their firms in a variety of ways:

  •  By writing and disseminating blog posts, articles, whitepapers, and books
  • Through public speaking, including keynotes, webinars, podcasts, interviews, and more
  • Through networking and relationship building
  • Through search engine marketing and optimization practices
  • By focusing their efforts on target markets

Further, having a Visible Experts on staff not only permitted firms to be more selective when screening leads, but also made it easier to convert leads that were already in the pipeline.

4.  Higher Fees

 The research revealed that buyers want Visible Experts, and they are willing to pay more to work with them—a lot more. In fact, buyers will pay 200% over baseline to hire Visible Experts at the lowest level of visibility, and 13X over baseline to work with Visible Experts at the highest level of visibility, as demonstrated in the chart below.

Relative Hourly Rates

Grow a Visible Expert

The research clearly showed that Visible Experts bring many advantages to their firms. But it revealed another, even bigger, surprise: high-level Visible Experts from all different industries and backgrounds had performed remarkably similar actions to get to the top. Although their careers, ages, and personal stories were wide ranging, their journeys followed a very similar trajectory.

After analyzing the data, we determined that there were seven critical components that all professionals must have in order to become a Visible Expert, a recipe for success that almost any expert could follow. This news was too good to keep to ourselves—so we wrote a book. In The Visible Expert: How to create industry stars, and why every professional services firm should care, we lay out both the data and the recipe for success, teaching both firms and individuals how to grow a Visible Expert.

Lee W. Frederiksen, Ph.D., is Managing Partner at Hinge, a marketing firm that specializes in branding and marketing for professional services. Hinge is a leader in rebranding firms to help them grow faster and maximize value.


Matt’s App of the Week: Vsnap

appoftheweek-300x284This is the latest in a series of weekend posts highlighting a wide variety of applications we think are pretty cool. Most have to do with sales, marketing and productivity. Check out past featured apps here.

Video in email isn’t anything new, but personalized video in email has proven to be harder to adopt at scale but far more valuable.

Imagine someone sends you an email with purely written words – nice, customized, but definitely one-dimentional.

Now imagine you get a written email with an embedded video – created just for you with a personalized, real-time message.  You can see the sender’s face, see their emotion, etc.

Creating these video messages – whether you’re in sales, business development, customer service or simply managing your network – is as simple as doing a “video selfie” with your smartphone.  But the response and engagement lift is significant.

Vsnap makes personalized video messages that simple.  Definitely worth checking out.



B2B Reads: colors, confessions & what NOT to say

best-blogsIn addition to our Sunday App of the Week feature, we also summarize some of our favorite B2B sales & marketing posts from around the Web each week. We’ll miss a ton of great stuff, so if you found something you think is worth sharing please add it to the comments below.

In the meantime, here’s some of what we’re reading:

The new rules of selling [slideshare]
You think that because you’re in engineering, you don’t do sales? Think again! Everyone is in sales, no matter what your job title might be. Great stuff from David Meerman Scott.

3 keys to sales enablement success
Sales enablement was an important player in 2014. However, getting implemented the right way hasn’t exactly peaked yet. How will that change in 2015? Good article from Daniel Korten.

Choosing the right colors for effective emails and landing pages
Color is powerful. It can create emotion and instigate certain feelings. The right combination of colors can help make your online marketing campaigns accessible and readable for everyone. Fun article from Lisa Cannon.

14 LinkedIn tips for salespeople to use each day

LinkedIn is one of the most important platforms for marketing and sales professionals. There are so many cool ways to utilize LinkedIn to get the most out of it on a daily basis. What are you doing each day? Great tips from Alice Myerhoff.

Confession:  A big mistake we were making with content marketing
Developing great content doesn’t just mean writing blog posts and blasting them out on social like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. What about email? Often times email get overlooked. It is time to change that. Interesting development from Joe Pulizzi.

5 questions for Q4 sales shortfalls
As Q4 gets closer, if your business isn’t hitting its numbers, don’t focus on the past and how to fix it. Focus on thinking about 2015 and how you won’t let it happen next year. It’s most likely too late in the game to change it now. Great questions to ask yourself from Babette Ten Haken.

7 marketing cheat sheets you’ll use again and again
Everyone finds their own little cheats for the stuff they do daily. Next time you’re feeling bogged down and need a little help, look back to this cheat sheet for guidance. Why not even start your own cheats to it! Thanks for the tips Jesse Noyes.

PowerPoint is killing your sales presentations
Great sales come from talking to your client, not talking at them. PowerPoint takes away that connection because you are staring at a screen talking, not looking your potential new clients in the face. Are you selling effectively? Interesting stuff from Joanne Black.

10 quotes salespeople should memorize
Some of the best sales tips come from quotes anytime, anywhere. Here are just 10 of Geoffrey James’ favorites!

Examples of what NOT to say when prospecting
One of the biggest challenges that salespeople face is getting that needed face time with decision makers. Once you do get that valuable time, don’t waste it! Great tips from Jill Konrath.

Want some more really great content? We are helping Ann Handley launch her new book “Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide for Producing Ridiculously Good Content” on October 2nd. You won’t want to miss this! Register now!


4 Elements of a Ridiculously Good Content Marketing Strategy

Ridiculously good content t-shirtPost by Brian Hansford, Director of Client Services, Heinz Marketing, Inc.

Content marketing is one of the top pain points I see with any B2B marketing organization. Strategy. Execution. Production. Measurements.  It’s difficult to do in a ‘ridiculously good’ way. (See our special Ann Handley event details at the end of this blog!)

Unfortunately there are way too many blogs full of platitudes stating how content is like a form of royalty. Pursuing these platitudes causes marketers to focus on activity and quantity and not on customer engagement.  Marketers are still producing massive quantities of digital “brochure-ware” that goes unnoticed and unused.  Don’t fall into the trap and become a 2015 version of a 1995 marketing communications manager!

In their 2014 survey, Forrester Research and the Online Marketing Institute highlight the challenges in B2B content marketing:

  • Only 4% of marketers are “masters” in content marketing
  • 87% of marketers surveyed find major challenges in producing the right content  

DemandGen just released the 2014 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey which shows how critical content is for effective B2B marketing:

  • 58% of B2B buyers spent more time researching purchases in 2014, compared to 48% in 2012.
  • 64% of surveyed B2B buyers said the winning vendor’s content had a significant impact on their buying decision.
  • 82% of surveyed B2B senior executives said that content was a significant driver of their buying decisions.

Finally, SiriusDecisions estimates that 60-70% of content goes unused.

Clearly B2B buyer’s want good content.  Lots of B2B marketers are “doing” content marketing and many are seeing results in helping to grow their business and engage customers.  It seems many B2B marketers still struggle with doing content marketing well.

B2B marketers need to focus on developing the right content for their audience, and sharing that content in ways that are most meaningful for customers.  Here are 4 elements of a good content marketing strategy.

Strategy – Yes, build a strategy. Don’t just randomly produce white papers and create infographics.   Identify the target audience and what’s important to them. Answer questions like: How will content be used and where will it be published? Who will develop the content?  What are your competitors doing? What is the best way to reach your customers? How do you measure success?

Audit and Assess – What is your content library made of currently? Do you have a solid inventory of all assets? Where do the assets fit in the buyer’s journey? What formats are they available in? Who are the assets intended for? Is the content current and relevant? Perform a thorough content audit and review exactly what you have, or don’t have. Kapost has a fantastic tool to help audit content through all kinds of channels including websites, YouTube, and SlideShare.

Channels and Formats - Where does your audience engage and what are they about? A business blog with regularly published content (thanks to the strategy and editorial calendar) is a fantastic anchor for that and can feed into many other channels.  Content produced on a blog can often be repurposed in other formats and channels like e-books, webinars and more.  Focus on the audience and diversify!

Measure what Matters (But remember not everything can be measured) – Content fuels a demand generation strategy that is powered with technology like marketing automation.  Without content, nothing happens.  Content impacts how people discover and engage with your organization.  Many of the steps and phases in content-fueled demand generation can be measured.  The analytical picture often crystalizes over longer periods of time.  (Don’t judge content success after one day!) Types of content, the target audience, and the focus all have some measurable impact on customer engagement and revenue generation.

We have produced a simple content marketing diagram to show how customers engage along with potential channels and formats to support their journey.  Hopefully you will find this a useful model!
Content Grid_09112014-01 (2)
Heinz Marketing is proud to host Ann Handley on October 2nd, 2014 in Seattle!  Ann is the Chief Content Officer for MarketingProfs. She will present “Ridiculously Good Content” and all attendees will receive a copy of her new book Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide for Producing Ridiculously Good Content.
Learn more hereAnn Handley Afternoon LP Header FINAL v2 08282014 rev3000px


“How I Work”: Tamara Schenk, Research Director – MHI Research Institute

Tamara Schenk“How I Work” is one of my favorite recurring features in Inc Magazine as well as via Lifehacker’s This Is How I Work Series, and recently several sales experts (including  Anthony IannarinoDave Brock and Trish Bertuzzi) participated as well.

Periodically moving forward we will feature a new B2B sales, marketing or business leader here answering what have become the standard “How I Work” questions.  You can catch up on everyone we’ve featured thus far in the “How I Work” series here.

This week I’m excited to feature Tamara Schenk, Research Director at MHI Research Institute.   A special thank you to Jonathan Farrington, CEO of Top Sales World who nominated Tamara and graciously provided the following introduction:  “Tamara Schenk is a breath of fresh air: She possesses a complete view of the sales process – in abstract, conceptual and pragmatic terms. Her marriage with MHI Global is the ideal combination; a world-class organization that has coupled with a genuinely global thinker, to create a perfect union. The sales space is in desperate need of more Tamara Schenks.”  Suffice it to say, Tamara gets stuff done.  Here, in her own words, is how she works.

Location: Wiesbaden, Germany. One of the most beautiful cities to live in. Frankfurt airport is just half an hour away, which is very important for me – I need to be close to an international hub. Wiesbaden has various famous buildings and great architecture to offer, because luckily the city was not destroyed during WWII. I’ve lived here for eight years now, and I’m still happy to come home from my various trips around the world.

Current computer:  There is a ThinkPad and a ThinkPad – not very original, but that’s the way it is. Both are laptops, a little one with the tablet option and a larger one, and they’ve never disappointed me.

Mobile Devices:  All my mobile devices belong to the Apple family. I love my iPad for checking emails, social networks, and simple internet transactions. I use an iPhone 4 and an iPhone 5, one is a personal phone and the other is for business. I just love the intuitive user experience – being able to do many things with just one click.

What apps/software/tools can’t I live without?  I can survive without any of these apps. Seriously, I still have to make my green smoothies on my own; there is no app to do that for me… But I do highly appreciate the apps and tools that make me more productive.

PowerPoint and Word: Both are essential for my work. Word is for research content and blog posts; PowerPoint for presentations, visualization of frameworks, models and to create stories to tell – my canvas…

LinkedIn: The most important social network for business. I love the way LinkedIn takes business networking to another level.

Hootsuite: The platform for my tweets, my Google+ and my business-related FB posts. I love to have different streams on one screen, to be able to adjust, to schedule and to monitor tweets. It’s a productivity driver.

Twitter: Perfect for everything that stays within twitter, and I don’t need to use Hootsuite.

Skype: I started to use Skype for personal calls. Now, I use it more and more for business purposes. Working in a global organization with many business partners, Skype is often the single common denominator.

Google+: For me, Google+ is the social network with the best conceptual approach. The circle principle and the ability to quickly – I mean really quickly – grow circles cannot be achieved with any other network. And Google+ Hangouts – often better than Skype.

Google Maps: Always with me on all devices to find known places, to add new ones and simply to get guidance in new cities or places.

Zite: Checking quickly who has published new content on topics I’m interested in. Zite makes sure that I’m up-to-date and can learn about new sites I didn’t follow so far.

Feedly: My to-go “newspaper site.” All the blogs and websites I’m following are in one place. That reduces the notification emails I get significantly, because there is no longer a need to receive emails when new posts are published. I have it in Feedly, everywhere, on all devices, and I can share directly from Feedly. Especially in my profession, I need a quick overview day by day on who has written about which topics, where new stories are, and where content from older stories is appearing again. Checking Feedly is also how we create our weekly recommended reading list for our research members.

Evernote: Traveling, taking quick notes, capturing an idea, beginning to write a blog post – Evernote is my app to go.

What’s my workspace like?  As an analyst with a global role and a focal point in Europe, I work from home. My home office is the most productive workspace I’ve ever had. I already worked a lot from home in my previous role as VP sales enablement at T-Systems, because my team members were all in different cities – in Germany, Europe and the US. What started as something I enjoyed intermittently is now my main workspace. Before I started my role at MHI Research Institute, I designed my office exactly the way I wanted it to be. I made sure that I have the right paintings with the right energy on the wall in front of me. An effective and well-designed bookshelf and a large desk make my home office really comfortable. And of course, my red couch is a must-have ingredient as well. And I love this one, which is next to my screen – a card from my favorite chocolate company Booja-Booja that says, “Relax – nothing is under control.” I’m always reminded of this wise statement when something happens as a result of a complex environment with very low predictability. Inhale, exhale. Then, keep moving.

What’s my best time-saving shortcut/life hack?  I’m a big fan of the Pareto principle. That means I focus on those issues where the specific value I can add is really required. And I try to delegate and to step away from everything else. It’s a process and I’m getting better over time.

What everyday thing am I better at than anyone else?  That’s a question my colleagues, clients and business partners should answer. In my own humble opinion and what I received as feedback, I have the ability to work with strong concentration and focus over a long period of time. Additionally, I have a lot of energy to get things done. And I work at a fast pace. Another thing is that I quickly recognize complex situations and can decide how I want to navigate complexity. I’m a system thinker – not always easy for my environment – but that’s the way it is. I love to discover related dimensions and patterns and I quickly create a framework in my head.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?  I don’t have a favorite. Honestly, I hate all of them, because I don’t want any app to tell me what I should do next. But since I need one anyway, I work simply with the outlook task manager.

What do I listen to while I work?  No music while I’m working. I love music, but I think great music requires a listener’s full attention. I’m just listening to the birds out there, and most important – my inner voice.

What am I currently reading?  I’m always reading a few books in parallel, as not everything makes sense in every reading moment.

  • Michio Kaku: Mind: The future of the mind
  • Osho: Courage

What’s my sleep routine like?  I’m usually up until about 11 pm. My most creative time is the afternoon and the evening hours. I often have to force myself to go to bed, because seven hours sleep is what I should get. I get up between 6:00 and 6:30 a.m., most of the time before the alarm clock rings. My day begins with a yoga session to align my body, mind and soul, a fresh shower and a home-made green smoothie. Then I take care of my plants and flowers and I’m at my desk at around 8 a.m.

What’s the best advice I’ve ever received? You are the master of your own journey – trust in your courage and strength and enjoy the freedom of creativity.

Fill in the Blank:  I’d love to see Richard Young, Managing Director, Pipeliner Sales, answer these questions.

And … hopefully you enjoyed the inside scoop on how I really work.

Six rules for more effective sales lead follow-up

brucedickinsonEarlier this week I highlighted some good & bad lead follow-up experiences I had first-hand last week. I listed a couple implications, but wanted to go deeper and get more specific on a few rules I believe constitute best practices for sales lead follow-up.

1. Document the best practice sequence (no matter how you define that)
Ask 10 inside sales managers and they’ll give you 10 different lead follow-up sequences – # of touches, mix between email and phone, voicemail or no voicemail, etc. No matter how you define it, make sure you have a consistent best practice sequence that’s trained and reinforced throughout the organization.

2. Draft email templates & VM scripts
Give you smart, trained reps flexibility to customize their prospect messages, but give them a baseline template for each email as well as explicit script for voicemails. Ideally these include your best practices around messaging, format, offer, etc.

3. Diversify channels beyond email & phone
At minimum, your lead follow-up should include both email and phone/voicemail. Leaving voicemails has been proven to increase familiarity and awareness, which increases response rates of future outreach. But diversifying channels further will accelerate the path towards response. Think social, discussion boards, Twitter “favorites”, LinkedIn Groups, their blog comments, anywhere you can generate a value-added impression with them that increases your engagement rate.

4. Automate & queue up the preferred outreach sequence as much as possible
Save those templates in, or better yet queue them up as a Program in ToutApp. The advantage of the latter is real-time notification of opens and clicks, as well as rolled-up reporting on response rates, sales rep usage, etc. This also helps save your reps time and increases their productivity.

5. Minimize recording and admin requirements for your reps
Speaking of productivity, make sure that increase in rigor and precision for the follow-up process doesn’t come with an increase in administrative work for your reps. The more time they spend recording each and every voicemail, the less time they’re actively selling.

6. Create a post-disposition nurture and trigger event program
Once your reps get through the full follow-up process without successfully reaching or qualifying the prospect (which will happen the majority of the time), develop a process that’s more than just marking the lead as “nurture” and sending it back to marketing. Ask the rep to send a LinkedIn connection request, follow them on Twitter and watch their activity via a column in Hootsuite, as well as any other tactics that help your reps notice and respond to daily trigger events and buying signals your prospects exhibit down the road – tomorrow, next week, next month or later in the year.

Curious to hear your lead follow-up best practices as well, especially those that have been implemented and optimized across deployed inside or field sales teams.

Four lies (and four truths) about social selling

pinocchioI’m thrilled to be joining Mike Weinberg and Tibor Shanto this Thursday for a webinar hosted by Kitedesk, featuring eight specific sales strategies to finish 2014 strong. You can register for the event here.

As we prepared our content for this event, the topic of social selling came up again and again, and it was clear that there’s quite a bit of misconception and over-hype about what social selling is, and what it really means for sales & marketing in today’s environment.

In my opinion, there are four lies about social selling that are causing the most confusion.  Here are those lies and what I believe to be the “truths” hidden behind them.

Lie #1: You can use social media as a sales channel
The Truth: There’s no such thing as social selling. Rarely if ever can you actually make a sale purely using social as your channel or medium. Social is a marketing tool, not a sales tool. It’s fantastic for engaging people, exchanging ideas, nurturing prospects, increasing value-added impressions, etc. But it won’t help you close. It won’t help you clarify your value proposition. In short, it won’t help you sell.  And by sell, I mean close.  Most everything else is still marketing.

Lie #2: Social selling is replacing traditional sales
The Truth: Social channels are a tool, not unlike email and the telephone. Social channels are highly efficient means of identifying and exchanging information, but they don’t change the way we fundamentally make decisions, how we experience pain and needs, or how we experience the psychology of buying and selling. The nature of the buyer/seller relationship is changing, sure, but that’s not because of social media. The tools and process by which buyers buy is changing, but the fundamentals of what works in sales – value, relationships, tenacity, activities – those aren’t going anywhere.

Lie #3: Social media leads are warm leads
The Truth: I’m all for building relationships with prospects well before you need them, and well before the prospect is ready to buy. But the implication that social leads are warmer leads, that because prospects are talking to you earlier in the process that they’re more interested in moving forward, is fundamentally flawed. Those socially-generated leads aren’t much better than your white paper or webinar leads. There’s nothing inherent about the channel that makes them any more or less ready to engage.

Lie #4: Prospects are easier to reach on social media
The Truth: In sales as well as marketing, we will always be in search of the white whale. That magic tactic or tool or channel that makes things easier. I’ll send a bunch of tweets and LinkedIn requests instead of talking to prospects! It will work better, faster and easier! Not true. Prospects on social are just as hard to reach, just as crazy busy, and just as cold. You will have to work just as hard to earn their attention and respect over time, else they will still ignore you.

I hope you can join us this Thursday for more commentary on what’s working in sales, and what can help you hit your number in Q4.

A tale of six data providers: Who wants my business?

headinthesandA week ago today, I needed a small email database appended with title and company information. It was an opt-in email list with just email and first/last name, so I needed a bit more information for first-level sorting.

I’m what you would call a highly-motivated, ready-to-buy buyer. If I find the right product for the right price, I’m ready to buy right now.

I’m also what you would call a crazy-busy buyer. I know I probably need to shop around a bit to see who has higher record completeness and reasonable prices, but I really don’t have time for a full RFP process or six complete presentations.

So, a week ago today, I sent Web and/or email inquiries to six companies that offer database and/or list append services.

Here’s what happened.

As usual, they were highly responsive and happy to work with me completely via email. They offered pricing immediately, and even took a copy of my database and provided a precise idea of what percentage of my list they could append not only with title and company information, but also with business phone, industry and other important filtering data.

I submitted a Web inquiry with detail about what I was looking for. A week later, I’m still waiting for a response.
Their “contact us” form didn’t give me an opportunity to give detail on what I was looking for, and the “thank you” page made it clear I’d hear back from someone within 48 hours (a loooong time for what I was looking to buy immediately). Two days later I got a call from a rep leaving me a voicemail and asking what I wanted to buy. No mention of (in case I didn’t know the two were related). No email follow-up.

I submitted a Web inquiry with detail about what I was looking for. A week later, I’m still waiting for a response. In their defense, they may have actually called. Someone left me a message mid-last week saying they were from “the service department” but didn’t identify what company they were calling from. No email follow-up.

I submitted a Web inquiry and got a response within 30 minutes. Highly-engaged rep with exactly the availability and pricing detail I needed.

This was actually a referral from a colleague I was speaking with later last Monday. Immediate response, all via email, clear pricing & availability.

Three things stood out to me in particular about this process:

  1. I’m surprised that two of the companies failed to respond to me at all
  2. Three companies called me just once or twice, then stopped trying.
  3. Those same three companies clearly wanted me to communicate via phone. I didn’t have time for that, and would have been far more responsive to an email vs. having to reply to a voicemail.

And, of course, a couple lessons here for those of you managing or working within demand generation or sales teams:

  1. Make sure leads don’t fall through the cracks. I wasn’t going to be a huge transaction, but I was a highly motivated buyer with money to spend.
  2. Even if the prospect initiated the contact, keep trying beyond 1-2 phone attempts. Your prospects are incredibly busy. And if they wanted something from you, they will appreciate your persistence.
  3. Don’t count on just one channel of communication. Use at least phone and email, if not social as well, to allow prospects to respond with their preferred method of communication. For your crazy-busy prospects, email and social are often far easier and more convenient.