Friday, December 25, 2015

5 tips for becoming more successful at selling

By David Ronald

Selling is a tough business and every sales person needs a plethora of skills. But abandon any strategies that involve force-feeding prospects a product they don’t want and don’t need. As Dale Carnegie famously said, people don't want to be sold to—they want to feel as if they're buying.

Instead, as your prospect moves through the funnel, provide resources and guidance as they attempt to solve a complicated business problem. Always be helping.

(Click here to read our white paper on sales enablement:

Here are five things to keep in mind when you are selling:

1. Remember you're in the people business

Lots of sales people get caught up in what they are selling and forget that they're in the people business. Your customer wants to be treated personally. Getting attention and maintaining your prospects' interest is a huge problem today. But walk into any big-box outlet, restaurant or professional office and you might not even be acknowledged.

Before visiting clients it’s best to remind yourself that "This is a unique individual who deserves distinct treatment."

 2. Don't avoid things that are uncomfortable

The best sales people I have known are willing to throw themselves into harm’s way. So convinced of their offer, they are willing to get in front of the tough customers, ask the hard questions and go for the close. Doing the uncomfortable thing is where the top performers live.

Identify your toughest clients and call them first—and keep calling on them long after everyone else has given up. Once a month, make a list of your company's most difficult target customers and create an attack plan on how to get those accounts. As someone once told me, “You can't bring the big deals home without getting into the deep waters where the big fish swim.”

3. Focus on the results, not the effort

The sales game is not one of organizing, planning or meetings—it's about getting results. Sales people often spend time kidding themselves about doing busy work and don't get in front of customers who can buy their products.

Your success in selling is about getting results and that means getting your products into the hands of more customers. A great sales person knows how to get the customer's attention and present their product or service in a way that causes the customer to buy. Don’t confuse results with efforts. You don't try to get an appointment—you either get it or you don't.

4. Wow your prospects

Good sales people look for ways to inspire a prospect's emotional involvement and create the urgency to take ownership. When you wow a buyer you make a difference and cause them to want to hold onto that experience. You can take any product—even a boring one—and make an exciting pitch.

For example, someone selling glass doors in a hurricane zone could slap on both sides of the glass to demonstrate their construction quality doing so will get the customer's full attention and set you apart from the competition. Average doesn't pay in sales. Wow prospects with your knowledge and belief in the product.

5. Ask for the sale

This may seem very simple, but many sales people fail to ask for the sale. Ever. This is hard to believe, but it’s true. Regardless of your product, price or how professional you are, if you don't ask, you will only sell to those who are going to buy regardless.

Think about keeping a tally of every time you ask a prospect customer for their business. Use this to identify what approaches worked best.

Thanks for reading.

Leave us a comment if you found this information useful.

Friday, December 18, 2015

9 tips for building a successful startup culture

By Sharon Lee

The probability of a startup succeeding over the long-term is low if the founders cannot build a culture of passion and commitment.

What does it take to build an effective startup culture? Although there’s no simple answer, and the needs of every company are different, transparency and communication are likely to be a part of the answer.

 Here are some recommendations that should help every founder team put this into practice.

1. Don’t hesitate to verbalize your dream to team members daily
Written mission statements and a passionate quarterly pitch to the team is not enough. Team members have to hear from you daily and see your enthusiasm during individual discussions, to the point that they are repeating your story to others. That’s how a culture is solidified.

2. Demonstrate a consistent set of personal values and priorities
People believe what they see more than what you say, and they tend to imitate what you do. Thus investors look for consistency between you and your team on values and priorities. If there is no consistency, there is no culture.

3. Customize your organizational structure based on individuals' strengths
There is no rule that marketing needs to report to the founder or that every startup needs a chief operating officer. Some of the best startup cultures have no hierarchical reporting, yet everyone knows who drives each of the initiatives. Culture is not defined by job titles.

4. Focus on hiring the right people and deal quickly with mismatches
Skills and experience are necessary in hiring but finding a match in values and culture is equally important. Mentoring and training programs need to be put in place early. Entrepreneurs who are too busy for people never get the culture they envision.

5. Foster innovation in process as well as products
Technology can be used to facilitate customer support and sales as well as enhance your product. Investors look for innovation in all areas of the business and all levels of the organization, from top to bottom. Winning cultures incentivize and reward innovation as well as business results.

6. Visibly link your standards to industry best practices
Teams tend to look inside an organization and tend to compare their performances to their own previous records or other internal groups. Comparisons should always be with competitors and customer expectations of excellence. A culture that excels measures itself against industry leaders.

7. Create opportunities for continuous learning
A winning culture is filled with people who love to learn. They need opportunities to do new work and try out new roles, as well as have access to training updates in their current positions. Successful leaders are good coaches and mentors, as well as being on the lookout for personal learning opportunities.

8. Sponsor internal events to build team synergy
Events need to be inspirational as well as directional. These will build the culture you need, but also give you an opportunity to observe where you need more focus. Make sure each one highlights your values, recognizes the right team members and involves customers and outside experts.

9. Make your startup a winning place to work
Promote your culture and innovations through social media and the press to make the team proud of their jobs. This pride will be sensed by customers and vendors, since everyone wants to buy into a winner. Winning in business is all about building momentum, and capitalizing on that progress.

The right culture doesn’t happen overnight and it’s especially hard to change once it is set. It’s especially important, therefore, to start early. Your business's growth and success depends on it.

Culture matters. A lot!

Good luck building yours.

Friday, December 11, 2015

3 ingredients of a successful content marketing strategy

By David Ronald

Content marketing increases demand for what you are selling and should be a key component of your business strategy.

What is content marketing? Content marketing alters the way you sell—it shifts the focus from hyping your products to adding value to prospects’ decision making. Content marketing is about creating relevant, informative and unbiased content that attracts buyers and converts them to loyal customers.

(Click here to read our white paper on content marketing:

Do you want to make content marketing work for you? If so, here are the three ingredients of a successful content marketing strategy.

1. Help don’t sell, talk don’t yell 

It’s a harsh truth that nobody is interested in you and your business—they are interested in themselves and their own problems. The starting point for your content, therefore, should be “how can we help our customers?” not “how can we sell to our customers?”

Share your expertise freely and be generous with what you know. A good starting point for creating helpful content is to begin with the questions your customers ask you. Answer those questions with your content. Blog about it, make videos about it. The format isn’t the most important thing; it’s the intention that matters more. Use what you know to create exactly the kind of content you know your customers crave.

You can’t separate content marketing from social media, they’re inextricably linked. Social media is one way you share your content – your blogs, your guides, your videos, but your social media updates are content in their own right too. Make them helpful, human and tone done the hype. Share other people’s content, if you know it will help your customers. Share it even if you think it’s too good, and you wish you’d created it yourself. Share it even if it’s so fantastic it hurts.

The biggest thing content marketing can do for you is to build trust in you and your business. Having your customers’ best interests at heart at every stage of the content process—from the subject you choose to write about, to the way you behave online—is the way to build trust, so keep this secret mantra in mind.

2. Know your content sweet spot

In my experience the number one place where people go wrong with content marketing is by failing to map their content sweet spot—which lies at the intersection between content which helps your customers and the content which will help you grow your business.

There will be an infinite number of things your customers are looking for online. On the one hand you could share videos of cats doing funny stuff and gain hundreds of social media followers, but it won’t win you any business. On the other hand you could talk exclusively about your business and its sales messages and probably nobody will listen. The content sweet spot is somewhere in the middle. Not cats, not self-interested sales promotion.

The best type of content marketing increases demand for what you are selling. So, focus on talking about applications of your product, instead of focusing on how it works. Wistia, a video hosting services company, is a good example of a B2B vendor doing great content marketing—the company has created a series of educational videos that teach viewers how to be better video marketers—each short lesson is a microcosm of some concept within video storytelling, including bulleted lists for easier retention of the subject matter. You can find these videos here:

By producing videos like these, Wistia has shifted from pitching its products to delivering content that makes its prospects more informed before they buy. And like all good content marketing, these videos are helping Wistia to increase its addressable market—someone not necessarily thinking about creating corporate videos may be excited by this content and embark on a journey that ends up with her signing up for a subscription.

3. Content marketing only works for good guys

People rarely write letters of complaint these days; instead, they leap onto Twitter and expect you to sort it out. So content marketing isn’t something you can leave to the marketing department, the whole team has to be in on the act. These days, it’s as much a part of customer service as it is a front end marketing issue. You need to be a good business—one that acts in the best interests of its customers—through and through.

If you’re doing content marketing well, you’ll be creating content and sharing it on social media platforms. Being a successful content marketer doesn’t mean creating the shiniest glossiest most amazing content and pouring it into the world and waiting for the results. It means using that content to help customers, and start the conversations that develop into long-term relationships. A big part of content marketing success is down to what you do with the content once you’ve created it—how you build content creation, distribution and relationship building into your business model.

Thanks for reading.

Let us a comment if you found this information helpful.

Friday, December 4, 2015

9 ways that social media marketing will help your business

By David Ronald

People sometimes ask me about the benefits of social media marketing.

In some instances a small business owner may already have spent time on social media in the hope that new prospects will appear in droves. After a few weeks, however, they scaled back on their social media activities, or abandoned them altogether, after becoming frustrated by an apparent lack of results.

I’ve highlighted the impact of social media marketing on SEO rankings in prior blog posts (for example and In this post I’m going to describe other benefits of being active on social media. The key thing to note, however, is that it takes time to build momentum with social media and the benefits aren’t always as obvious as you may like—successful social media marketing requires consistency and patience.

Nonetheless, if you’re feeling a little bit skeptical about the benefits of social media marketing, here are some reasons why it may be working better than you realize.

1. Brand recognition—one of the most powerful ways to use social media is as a brand-building tool. With social media, you get to decide how you want to position your company and what you want people to know about what you do. With consistent effort and great content, you can build a reputation for your brand around your company’s values, benefits, and advantages.

2. Repeat exposure—there is an old marketing adage that says it takes six to eight exposures to a product before a customer decides to buy. A clear benefit of social media is repeat exposure with your network. You have the opportunity to remind them over and over again about what you have to offer, which can shorten your sales cycles dramatically.

3. Authority—for coaches, consultants, authors, speakers, and other service-based businesses, social media can be very powerful in helping you establish authority in your field, making you the go-to resource for your target audience to seek out for help. Share great content, answer questions, and serve your audience, and you will inevitably build loyal fans.

4. Influence—as your following increases, your influence grows. Having a substantial social media audience creates a snowball effect that can attract new customers, media interviews, joint venture partnerships, and all kinds of other opportunities. It’s a bit like when you see a crowd hovered around something. You can’t help but want to see what all the fuss is about, so a large audience will only attract more interest.

5. Community—there is nothing like social media when it comes to cultivating a community. When your followers become part of your community, you gain instant access to them. That means you can find out what challenges they are facing and what they like and don’t like about your offerings. You can engage in ongoing dialog that can be more valuable than any kind of paid market research.

6. Ahead of the curve—whether you realize it or not, your prospects and clients are checking to see if you are engaging in social media. I always find it a bit odd when I’m investigating a potential service provider online and I can’t locate a social media presence or worse, I find Facebook pages that haven’t been updated in months, empty Twitter feeds, and a clear lack of interest in engaging. Social media isn’t a fad and it’s not going away. Even if it’s not your top priority, if you stay current with activity, your prospects will notice.

7. Mindshare with lurkers—although there will be days when you wonder if anyone is paying attention to your social media networks, you can be confident that more people are paying attention that you realize. Give it time and you’ll start to understand what’s happening behind the anonymity of the internet. You even hear from people who say, “I’ve been following you on Twitter for ages. I love your posts!”

8. Competitive advantage—the reality is that most of your competitors aren’t likely doing a very good job with social media (most companies aren’t), which gives you the chance to stand out. Also consider the flip side. If you avoid social media, you leave a big opening that allows your competitors to capture your audience.

9. Website traffic—social media can be a leading traffic generator and when you share blog posts, videos and other content from your website, you give your audience a reason to click through and visit your site. Once there, you have the opportunity to inspire those visitors to take action by inviting them to sign up for your mailing list, make a purchase, or call to schedule a free consultation. Install traffic monitoring service, such as Google Analytics, and if you are committed to your social media efforts, you will clearly see that social media brings traffic. Also, make sure that your visitors receive a clear call to action when they visit your site so that you can convert that extra traffic into business opportunities.

While many businesses large and small are trying to justify the cost and time investment for managing social media marketing, an important benefit often gets overlooked: Big Wins. For example, if a major media outlet finds you on Twitter and interviews you for a national article, then that is also a big win, one that you can’t measure based on directly-generated revenues.

Although big wins don’t happen often, when they do, they make it all worthwhile. It’s easy to forget results like these six months down the road you’re trying to assess whether your social media efforts are paying off. But that one contract you landed could cover your social media marketing costs for years. And that major media interview could lead to subsequent interviews and a line item on your resume that impresses a corporate sponsor three years from now. Never forget to factor in big wins in social media.

Thanks for reading.

Let us know if you found this information useful.