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Posts Tagged ‘sales’


After Black Friday, Small Businesses Can Benefit From Small Business Saturday

November 15th, 2010 :: Rieva_L

By Rieva Lesonsky

Black Friday—the day after Thanksgiving, and traditionally a huge sales day for retailers—has a new partner. American Express OPEN and more than a dozen advocacy, public and private organizations have declared November 27 “Small Business Saturday.”

Small Business Saturday is a national movement to drive shoppers to local merchants nationwide. Let’s face it, Black Friday is dominated by the “big boys,” so Small Business Saturday offers a great option for small companies to get their share of the pie.

For every $100 spent in locally-owned, independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures, according to the small business advocacy group The 3/50 Project, one of the organizations supporting Small Business Saturday. Others include SCORE, NAWBO, Yelp! and Facebook.

“Small business is the engine of job creation in the US economy,” said Kenneth Chenault, chairman and CEO of American Express.  “It is also among the sectors hardest hit by the recession.  By spreading the word about Small Business Saturday, we can help raise awareness about the critical role small businesses play in cities and towns across the country at a time when they need support the most.”

How does it work? Social media will play a key role in helping raise awareness about Small Business Saturday.  American Express has launched campaigns on Facebook and Twitter driving consumers and business owners to http://www.facebook.com/smallbusinesssaturday where they can participate in many ways, including:

  • American Express is giving a $25 statement credit to 100,000 Cardmembers who register their American Express and use it to shop on Small Business Saturday at locally owned, independent small businesses.
  • American Express is also giving $100 of free Facebook advertising to 10,000 business owners who sign up at http://facebook.com/smallbusinesssaturday to help build online buzz and drive customers to shop at their businesses on Small Business Saturday.  By simply entering a few pieces of information and clicking a button, business owners can create a personalized, geo-targeted ad that will run on Facebook leading up to November 27th.

For more information or to download online promotional materials, visit http://facebook.com/smallbusinesssaturday or

http://www.smallbusinesssaturday.com.

Image by Flickr User Bobbie (Creative Commons)

5 Ways Affiliate Marketing Can Help You Make Sales

August 18th, 2010 :: Thursday Bram

Affiliate marketing is a simple concept: you offer a percentage of the sales price to anyone who can help you close a sale. There are more than a few nuances to the situation, of course: especially with the advent of online tools, you can control which affiliates you’re willing to work with, what constitutes a sale and a variety of other factors. The important point is that for small businesses, affiliate marketing can be a relatively inexpensive way to increase your sales.

  1. Affiliate marketing lets you market inexpensively. The cost of marketing a product or service can cut into your margin of profit. But, as long as you know how much margin you can afford to offer up to affiliates, you can often get them to market your products less expensively than you can arrange for yourself. Depending on the payoff, some affiliates will even buy ads and take other steps to promote your product or service.
  2. Affiliate marketing helps build brand recognition. Even if your affiliates make relatively few sales, your product will be on their websites. They may write reviews, put up ads and take a variety of different steps to make sure that their readers are aware of your product (with the intention of selling, of course). But that sort of exposure can help create sales down the line, especially if a prospective customer sees your product all over a variety of websites.
  3. Affiliate marketing offers access to tastemakers. While it’s nice when someone refers a friend to your product, the fact of the matter is that people are more likely to do so when they have a financial interest. Tastemakers, such as bloggers, can be especially interested in affiliate marketing.
  4. Affiliate marketing can get you access to existing audiences. Many affiliates work hard to build up their own audiences, on blogs and through other media. The size of that audience can vary, but it’s not out of the question that you can get access to an audience in the tens or even hundreds of thousands with some careful planning. That sort of exposure, combined with the endorsement of the person who has brought a particular community together can be very worthwhile.
  5. Affiliate marketing can give you the initial connection to a new customer. If you offer products or services that allow you to build on one small sale to earn significantly more over the lifetime of that customer, affiliate marketing can be a cheap way to get access to new customers. Even if you have to offer up most of your profit margin on that initial sale to the affiliate that referred your new customer, it can still wind up being less expensive than advertising.

Affiliate marketing can take some work — you need to give your affiliates tools that will help them to be successful, whether that means logos or review copies. But the pay off can be phenomenal, especially if you can get the support of affiliates with wide audiences already in place.

Image by Flickr user Steve Snodgrass

How to Win Friends and Influence People

July 30th, 2010 :: Monika Jansen

The lessons and advice imparted in Dale Carnegie’s ground breaking 1936 book How to Win Friends and Influence People are as useful today as they were then.  Think about the reasons we small business owners spend time and money on marketing, especially social media: We want to connect with current and prospective clients and convince them that they need our product or service.  To do that, we need to know exactly how to connect with them, and this is where the book comes in.

Dale CarnegieThe only way on earth to influence the other fellow is to talk about what he wants and show him how to get it.  Dale Carnegie

Dale’s book is centered on one simple fact.  People want to feel important.  It’s just human nature.  We like praise and hate criticism.  Praise makes us feel important, while criticism makes us feel like losers.  And, as Dale also points out in the book, we spend around 95% of our time thinking about ourselves.  So, when you want to make someone do something, stop and think how you can make that person want to do it. 

If there is any one secret of success, it lays in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from his angle as well as from your own.  Henry Ford

My absolute favorite piece of sales advice, which speaks to Mr. Ford’s quote above, is that you need to show people how you can solve their problem, and they will buy from you.   We all strive to do this, but do we always do it?  Probably not. 

The book is broken down into six sections, but I’m only covering the second and third, because I think are the most important.  All of the following advice is common sense and highly applicable to most any situation (the final section, in fact, is titled Seven Rules for Making Your Home Life Happier).

Here are Dale Carnegie’s Six Ways To Make People Like You:

  1. Show a genuine interest in people. 
  2. Smile!  You’ll feel better and so will the person you are talking to. 
  3. Remember names.  “A person’s name is to him (or her) the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
  4. Be a good listener.  Encourage others to talk about themselves.  After all, we are our own favorite subjects!
  5. Discuss with the person whatever his or her interests are.  Teddy Roosevelt use to study his guests’ favorite subjects before they’d visit him at his Oyster Bay estate on Long Island so he could talk knowledgeably about it with them.
  6. Always make the other person feel important.  Remember the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”?   Make others feel important, appreciated, valued and be sincere when you do!   

And here are 12 Ways To Win People To Your Way Of Thinking:

  1. The only way to win an argument is to avoid one.  Unless it’s a matter of life or death, let the person think they’re right, even if they’re not. 
  2. Show respect for someone else’s opinion.  Don’t tell that person they’re wrong for having that opinion, even if you think it’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever heard.
  3. If you’re wrong, admit it immediately.
  4. Begin your persuasive argument in a friendly, not hostile or defensive, way.
  5. Get the other person saying “yes” rather than “no” by emphasizing the things on which you agree.  If you can, emphasize that you and this other person want exactly the same thing and that your only difference is method, not purpose.
  6. Let the other person do most of the talking.  (See #4 in the above section!)  Don’t pretend you have all the answers.  Let the person describe their business and problems to you, because they know these things better than you do.
  7. Let the other person think that the idea is his or hers.  Ask for his or her advice or help in solving a matter.  Then you can gently steer that person in the direction you want them to go.
  8. Play the devil’s advocate, and try to see things from the other person’s point of view, not just your own.  Show that you understand that person, what they need, and what they want.
  9. Be sympathetic to the other person’s ideas and desires.  If you want to stop an argument, create goodwill, and make the other person listen attentively, say “I don’t blame you for feeling the way you do.  If I were you, I’d feel the same way, too.”  
  10. Appeal to noble motives, such as honesty, fairness, and honor.  Think about celebrities asking the paparazzi not to take photos of their young children.  “Photos of me are fine, but please respect my baby’s privacy—there are too many creeps out there.”
  11. Dramatize your ideas.  The best Super Bowl ads do this.  You might not like beer, let alone Bud Light, but after watching one of their funny commercials, you’ll certainly remember it.
  12. Throw down a challenge.  Everyone wants to show off the fact that they’re better than someone else.

Ready To Grow Your Business? Know Thyself Before Hiring

March 29th, 2010 :: Monika Jansen
Handshake

From Aidan Jones on Flickr

I recently met a super cool CPA.  I do realize that statement is (usually) an oxymoron, but this guy is pretty much the opposite of what I expect a numbers-loving, detail-oriented accountant to look and act like.  Jason Howell is one of the nicest, funniest, most friendly people I’ve ever met.  He is full of energy, quick to laugh, and very engaging.  In other words, he’s my kind of people.  After talking to him a couple of times, I realized that not only is he really smart, he is also overflowing with advice for small businesses.  We sat down one recent warm, sunny afternoon to talk about small business finance and money matters.  This post is the first in a series of three based on the wisdom that Jason so generously shared with me.

The idea of hiring my first employee, full-time, part-time, or temporary, is exciting and scary at the same time.  I’m getting busy enough that I don’t really have time for networking anymore.  In the next few months, I should also be on the verge of turning away prospective clients.  In this economy, that’s pretty cool.  On the other hand, hiring an employee strikes fear into my heart.  Just thinking about the additional paperwork (we all know how much I love accounting/finance/tax stuff) and time needed to manage others stops me cold.

Jason said that before you or I think about hiring, we need to think about our business and what we most enjoy doing.   Simple enough!  He said all small business owners have varying levels of expertise in following three areas: 

  1. Technical skills.  We are technically proficient at whatever it is we do.   We might not love everything it is we do, but we are good at doing it.
  2. Management skills.  Some of us are very good at delegating responsibility and leading and managing others.  You can hand over the aspects of your business you don’t enjoy to focus on what you do enjoy.
  3. Sales skills.  Some small business owners think very strategically and are totally sales-focused.  They have a long-term vision of how they can grow their company, and they are good at selling their company’s products and/or services.  These people live for networking and closing the sale.

When you’re ready to hire people, simply figure out which skill it is you enjoy the most.  Is it doing the work, managing others who will do the work for you, or networking and selling your products and/or services?

If you enjoy the technical aspect of your work…Hire a salesperson to network and drive sales.  Train the heck out of that person so they know your business inside and out.  They need to have several elevator speeches ready for different audiences and have the charm and persuasive skills to set up meetings and close deals.  They will be out and about constantly, leaving you time to focus on doing what it is you do.

If you like managing others…Replicate yourself.  Hire people who have the same and/or complimentary skills and pass work over to them.  You’ll still get to do some technical aspects of your business if you choose—the ones you like doing best.  Say you’re a bakery owner.  You specialize in artisanal breads—it’s what you love doing and what you’re known for—but you also make pastries, which you don’t enjoy as much.  Employee A can help you with the bread baking, while Employee B can make the pastries.

If you’re a born salesperson…Find technicians to do whatever it is your company does.  This will allow you to be out networking, selling, and closing deals.

Does great CRM software exist for an independent professional?

February 17th, 2010 :: Carlos Diggs

One of the greatest frustrations for many independent professionals is the lack of a really good, flexible, economical contact relationship management system.

Does such a thing exist for a solo business person?

Everyone’s needs are unique. Your knowledge and experience may make the selection and implementation easy or difficult. You may have to compromise on a few features and functionality and settle for at least 80% of your requirements. I have spoken with many colleagues and clients who are all dissatisfied with what they are using. So, a fundamental question is this: Is there a resource for doing a fair assessment of all options? Well, it depends.

All successful systems and software selection projects begin with a list of requirements or wish list (Must have vs. Would like to have). You may ask, “Where should one start? Are there knowledgeable people who can guide a person or team toward an intelligent selection of a contact management system?” The answer is YES.  They exist at www.360salesfocus.com. 360SF will hold your hand through the entire selection process or provide just-in-time coaching on an as needed basis. For individuals who want to do it themselves, below are some initial considerations.

Regardless of the nature of your practice as an independent professional or the size of a company, its sales value and volume, business development for simple or complex opportunities, I always suggest to clients to first clearly define their processes before evaluating and selecting a technology or automation tool for anything.

For example: What does a typical sales cycle look like for you? How do you process new leads/contacts? How soon do you follow up?  What method do you prefer (email, letter, greeting card, phone call, etc.)? What’s the message? Do you have a sales/biz dev process? What are the steps, decisions, possible outcomes, etc.?

Processes enable people and technology enables processes

Technology without a correctly defined process will speed up poor results. It’s the old garbage in, garbage out concept…but faster.

MY PREFERED METHOD when I was an independent consultant: Even though I’ve implemented, used, optimized, and managed several CRM projects for clients (including SalesForce.com and ACT!), for 20 plus years as a solo consultant or, as the only business development person, my preferred CRM & Sales Force Automation (SFA) has consisted mostly of Microsoft Outlook for basic contact profile descriptions & management. I first had to learn effective relationship management without technology to make this work, thanks to Stephen Covey’s 7-Habits of Effective People. Outlook has all the basics such as detail contact info, calendar, and task, space for tons of notes, attachments, and links on every item. I think this may be true for most PC & Mac office-like contact/calendar/email applications.

For forecasting and tracking sales/business development opportunities, a spreadsheet does it all on one sheet, one line per opportunity (forecast of qualified opportunities…date, company, contact, offer, value, priority, close date, win-probability percentage, next Step (notes/remarks). If you want to see a good example, contact www.360salefocus.com/contact-us for a free Microsoft Excel forecasting spreadsheet that we use often and that you may use and modify for your unique purposes.

One of my requirements is mobility. Both Outlook and the spreadsheet interface well and are mobile (works on my smart phone).  I use Card Scan to scan business cards that I receive from meetings and networking events. I import and synchronize contacts with Outlook. It’s also great for mail merges (letters and emails). I’ve also incorporated David Allen’s Getting Things Done method for processing all my action items.

Once you get your process defined, then you can go shopping. Effective contact relationship management is at the core of what I do and coach my clients to do. Technology can bog you down if you are not careful. Let’s face it; nothing gets done unless you do it…whether on paper or on-screen. A discipline to keep records up to date, follow-up and follow-through still requires the consistent human touch.

One other consideration might be a marketing campaign management system for managing high volumes (> 500 contacts per campaign) of outbound/inbound lead generation efforts of large and frequent marketing campaigns (direct mail, events, website leads, etc.). This is ideal for processing and managing hundreds of leads that you will try to convert to clients. You still need a process first.

Unless you are trying to track contacts for a multiple people, I would keep it simple and use your desktop office apps for contact profiles, scheduling events/meetings and tasks, date all detail notes, and use every reminder and alert possible.

If you need help implementing a program like this, consider contacting a sales consultant.

Share your experience by leaving a comment.

At http://www.360salesfocus.com we have an entire integrated sales and marketing company at your disposal. How can we help you generate more business? Let’s talk about making something happen for your company.

Carlos Diggs is Managing Partner at 360 Sales Focus, a full service sales and marketing consultancy. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed at www.linkedin.com/in/carlosdiggs. Reach Carlos at [email protected] or 410.782.0360 or follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/360salesfocus.

How to Follow Up with Prospects and Clients: Be Diligent, Not Desperate.

February 10th, 2010 :: Carlos Diggs

Sales Coaching Tip

I am often asked how much is enough or too much:

  • How soon should I follow up with a prospect?
  • How many phone call attempts?
  • How many voice mail messages?
  • How many emails?
  • How many pigeons?
  • How many telegraphs?
  • How many smoke signals?

Well, it depends on many variables, so let’s address one of the common scenarios.

Common Scenario: You just had a meeting or presentation with a prospective client. Your client requests a proposal. Assuming you’ve qualified this opportunity and client based on need, budget, time frame and solution fit (Free B2B Qualifier). Before you leave the meeting agree to a proposal delivery due date (stick to it), and agree to a decision date. Get your clients preferred method of communication (i.e. email, phone, texting). If your client agreed to tell you NO, chances are, you won’t have to call or email them too often. We all know that things happen. People get sick, holidays, vacations, etc. So, you have to trust your instinct, be diligent, but don’t always assume the worst if you are unsuccessful in reaching them after a couple attempts. Now is the time to practice DILIGENCE and PROFESSIONAL PATIENCE.

In a situation like the one outlined above, the first and most important point to keep in mind is not trying to trick the client into saying yes. Hearing “No” is more productive than spending three months chasing the opportunity only to learn that you did not win. Top sales professionals have learned how to win fast and lose fast. They spend less time forcing unproductive opportunities and more time advancing relationships, opportunities, and sales.

How to develop an open and upfront channel of communication?

One method for developing an open and upfront communication channel with a prospect or client is to let them know that it’s okay for them to tell you NO. Saying something like, “I know you have many options, so if for some reason you don’t think we are a good fit or you just don’t like our offering, are you okay with telling me NO”? With a smile and humor say, “I don’t want to be annoying, leaving you  hundreds of voice mail messages and thousands of emails, because you are trying to be polite and don’t want to hurt my feelings. I would be most grateful if you would say NO as early as possible so we are not wasting each others time.”

How to Follow Up?

Don’t call or email everyday. Once per week is enough (no more than twice if you just feel compelled). Develop a mind set that you have too many new prospects in line waiting to meet with you and too many clients to care for. You really don’t time to call more than once per week…maybe only once every other week.

If you call first and choose to leave a voice message, immediately send an email, “I’m sorry I missed you today. I just left you a voice message regarding…I would appreciate a reply by___”.

If you send an email first, call and say, “I just sent you an email regarding… I want to make sure it didn’t end up in your junk/spam folder. I would appreciate a reply by ____”.

Always smile when on the phone…especially when leaving a voice message (they will hear your smile or lack thereof). Never sound impatient, rude, arrogant, annoyed, or timid, shy, soft spoken or weak. Leave an optimistic and friendly message like you would for a close friend or your grandmother. Regarding emails carefully check your writing tone. Try to choose words and phrases that evoke images and emotions of professional gentleness and kindness, yet with a mild since of urgency to meet upfront expectations.

I have a lot of success with getting timely replies from prospects and clients by using email subject lines to send very short “text-like” messages to ask a question or make a request. I don’t use cute texting shorthand or abbreviations. I may just insert a brief question that can easily be reviewed in their email inbox. If you need to write more, continue in the body of the email. Use clear key words such as: “Do you have time to meet next week” “Request for Information:” “Proposal Attached:” “Action Required:” “Please Review:” “Call me 400.555.1234,” etc…use your imagination.

If you need help implementing a program like this, consider contacting a sales consultant.

Share your experience by leaving a comment.

At http://www.360salesfocus.com we have an entire integrated sales and marketing company at your disposal. How can we help you generate more business? Let’s talk about making something happen for your company.

Carlos Diggs is Managing Partner at 360 Sales Focus, a full service sales and marketing consultancy. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed at www.linkedin.com/in/carlosdiggs. Reach Carlos at [email protected] or 410.782.0360 or follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/360salesfocus.

#1 problem salespeople need to overcome?

February 3rd, 2010 :: Carlos Diggs

Sales Coaching Tip 

After all is said and done (listening, planning, practicing, preparing, attitude adjustments, etc)…IF YOU ARE NOT OUT SELLING, YOU ARE BEING OUT SOLD. 

TOP PERFORMING sales professionals too often get bogged down with too many unnecessary and labor intensive administrative chores imposed on them by a poorly defined sales management process. (e.g. legacy/manual forecasting systems, CRM systems that are not used correctly). Therefore, impeding their quantity & quality face time with clients and prospects. Release (free up) your top performers by giving them administrative support and streamlining/optimizing systems, processes, and reporting requirements.

 UNDER PERFORMING sales professionals too often welcome all administrative tasks and sales/reporting fire drills as an escape and sanctioned excuse for not achieving goals. Even more importantly, this group must be released (freed up) by giving them administrative support and streamlining/optimizing systems, processes, and reporting requirements. To help get them back on track, some initial performance coaching focused on easy wins (appointment setting, proposal submitted, etc) will be required to build confidence, momentum, sales endurance.

Take Action

Nothing, absolutely nothing happens without ACTION. The law of physics says…for every ACTION, there is an equal and opposite reaction (RESULTS). So, as the recording artist Sting sings in one of his songs, “If You Love Someone, Set Them Free.” You do love your sales people? Sales people need love too (smile).

If you need help implementing a program like this, consider contacting a sales consultant.

Share your experience by leaving a comment.

At http://www.360salesfocus.com  we have an entire integrated sales and marketing company at your disposal. How can we help you generate more business? Let’s talk about making something happen for your company.

Carlos Diggs is Managing Partner at 360 Sales Focus, a full service sales and marketing consultancy. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed at www.linkedin.com/in/carlosdiggs. Reach Carlos at [email protected] or 410.782.0360 or follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/360salesfocus.

Network Like You Mean It: 4 Ways to Make it Work

January 29th, 2010 :: Monika Jansen

If you’re shy, the very notion of networking is paralyzing.  If you’re like me and not shy at all, the idea of networking is fun and challenging and an opportunity to meet a lot of cool people.  If you work at home alone, it’s also the chance to actually talk to someone in person.  And if you are a small business owner and/or just starting out, it is a great way to spread the word about your business quickly.

When I first started networking, I thought I would instantly pick up new clients.  As I learned, though, networking is not about sales, it’s about building relationships with people.  I have learned three other key things as well: have an engaging elevator speech, talk to as many people as possible, and, if it’s an evening event, don’t drink.

But first, you need to find events that work for you.  I have been to a few events that were packed to the gills with network marketers (you know, Mary Kay sales people and the like).  They are only interested in selling to you, so every conversation with them is about their product(s).  I avoid them like the plague now.  The events I do attend and enjoy are populated by small business owners, CEOs, and executives.  Rather than spending a lot of money and learning through trial and error like me, ask people you meet and like which events they attend and why they like those events.

Four Ways to Make it Work:

  1. Build relationships. As I said above, networking is about building relationships, not generating sales. Of course, if you meet someone who needs your service/product, awesome!  But that is not the point of networking.  I look for two kinds of people at events: those that are expert networkers and know tons of people and those who are in complementary businesses.  If I find an expert networker, I develop a relationship with that person.  They are most likely to be able to refer me business and introduce me to people I do need to meet.  I also like to meet those in complementary businesses: graphic designers, web designers, and those who work in marketing, public relations, and advertising, as we need each other’s services.
  2. Have an engaging elevator speech. If you and I met at a networking event and I told you I was a marketing communications consultant, well, so what?  That doesn’t tell you anything about how I can help you (and most people don’t even know what marketing communications is!).  So I tell people, “I am a writer and editor, and I help my clients articulate who they are, what they do, and why they’re better than the competition via blogs, email marketing, newsletters, direct mail, brochures, press releases, and website content, among other things.”  Then I’ll ask the person I’m talking to what sets them apart from the competition, but usually people will ask questions about my services.  The point is, you want your elevator speech to clearly state how you help your clients, and you want it to prompt questions.  If it doesn’t, work on it!
  3. Talk to as many people as possible. Sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be amazed at the number of people I meet who hang out with people they already know the entire time.  Almost as bad are the people who settle into conversations with one or two people and don’t bother mingling.  When I go, I say hi to the people I know, but mostly I walk right up to strangers and introduce myself.  If I see someone hovering nearby with no one to talk to, I invite them to join in the conversation.  If a conversation seems to be going nowhere, I say, “Well, it was great meeting you, but since we’re here to network, I better go network!”  No one has taken offense to that yet.  After all, isn’t that why they’re there as well?
  4. Don’t drink. Another no-brainer, but lots of people have no brains once they start drinking, so I figured it ought to be said.  I personally do not want to do business with someone who does not know how to handle liquor or themselves once they’ve had liquor. I also prefer to be fully cognizant of what I am saying to people and what they are saying to me.  If I want a drink, I have one when I get home.

One other thing to mention: be careful about the amount of networking you do.  It can get expensive and turn into a time-suck.  I try to go to one to three events a month, tops.  Anymore than that, and I am losing too many billable hours!

Six Things You Need to Do to Build a Sales Pipeline

January 26th, 2010 :: Steven Fisher

People get thousands of sales messages and pitches per day and it only is getting more saturated. How do you get more customers with so little time to get your message in front of them and acted on? They say it takes six impressions for people to remember a sales pitch or message.

You will need to utilize different channels where your audience is located. This could be email newsletters, search engine advertising, cold calls, letters, etc. This is a mix of inbound and outbound marketing and in order to build your sales pipeline we have identified six things you need to do to get that pipeline to grow and produce results:

1.)  Perform Outbound Marketing Activities

  • Networking with existing friends, colleagues, and acquaintances.
  • Attending industry/trade meetings and walking the floor
  • Securing speaking engagements at local and regional associations or interest groups
  • Hosting breakfast meetings people in the circle of who you are looking to connect with
  • Cold and warm telephone prospecting
  • Direct mail/e-mail/fax prospecting followed up with direct telephone calls

2.) Reinforce brand with inbound marketing activities – this includes e-mail newsletters, podcasts, search engine optimization, white papers, and social media tools (blogs, Twitter, Facebook).

3.) Set Metrics – These can be a variety of things and Bnet.com sums it up well – “Measure the performance in each stage of the process, benchmark, and establish the potential for improvement. This allows you to trade off strategies, such as investing in after-care versus A&P, account management versus tele-sales. It also helps you prioritise key initiatives, and incentivise teams around the biggest value drivers. The absolute key to success is finding ways to collect good quality information without creating a paper-chase for the team That will provide them with added value in their roles. Involving the sales team in developing this is critical.”

4.) Follow up – You know, many people work so hard to get your information or they meet you and never reach out even after having identified the need for your offering. Follow up with a hand-written letter or send them an email to schedule a meeting or a quick call. Many people don’t like the interuptions of a phone call unless they asked or you have asked a gotten their permission. I know that nothing that irritates me more than getting a number on my cell that I don’t recognize and answer thinking it might be important and the sales person tries to pitch me at the wrong time.

5.) Add them to the pipeline and keep up the activities – You have to keep up the activity. I know this sounds like a law of numbers and in most cases, it is. Keep the pipeline full and keep selling because you will close some and will lose some. The most important part is that you get out there and sell.

6.) Track your response rate and successes AND learn from them – This means that you will lose some and probably lose many deals. Learn why, was it turn around time or pricing or capabilities. Try and really learn what is getting you the sale and what is not. Also understand how they found out and what marketing activities worked. All of this will help you as you cycle back to step one and do this on a regular basis.

What is Working For You?

So what is working for you to build your sales pipeline? Are you following a process like this? What activities are you engaged in? Leave a comment so we can learn from you.

Are All Sales Teams Created Equal?

September 14th, 2009 :: Carlos Diggs

Can a single sales team sell direct, indirect, short and long lead sales opportunities? Are the skills required the same?

Is there undue stress on the team due to the different mind sets required for the different type of selling? Should the team be split to enable focus on the development of each channel and the skills required to work that channel?

Are you a Hunter or Farmer?

Considering that sales professionals fall into two primary categories based on personalities, hunters or farmers, you need to uncover each person’s preference zone and align them with the right channel assignment. Hunters are better at direct and short sales cycles then moving on. Farmers are better at relationship management, which is key for business development efforts via indirect channels, longer sales cycles, or account management assignments. The process, strategy and tactics might differ per channel and length. Document your best practices and all the things individuals do well or have done well in the past.

Do you have a Sales Process/Methodology?

If you don’t have a clearly defined and well document sales process for direct and indirect sales, now is the time to pull the team together and develop one. This is the only way to monitor and measure your team’s effectiveness. Winning sales organizations have document sales process (what to do) and methodology (how to do it).

Is it time to retool?

I had to learn this the hard way. I was very successful as an account manager for a major telecom provider. I protected and grew my $20M base of global accounts in a very competitive telecom market. I failed miserably as a hunter. I had to get retool and train to be a killer hunter. I do both well, but still excel as a farmer.

What has been your experience? Leave a comment.