B2B Online Marketing – The Direct Pipeline to Off-line Sales: 5 Simple Steps

November 22, 2010 at 7:01 pm | Posted in Adrian's Network, sales, technology, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I’m so very happy to be able to share this terrific post by Jasmine Sandler of Agent-cy Online Marketing. Jasmine is truly a pro and these tips are valuable for all of us trying to build our businesses in the brave new world of online communities.

From Jasmine:
What is important now and in the future to small business B2B Online marketers is how to grow brand awareness and client interest across moving and fickle (marketing) channels, where the ability to engage the audience grows thinner each day because of the millions of messages being pumped out every New York minute. One effort that will always remain a common thread is the act of creating real client relationships. And so, how do we use Online Marketing as our main vehicle and measure return in real off-line deals?

It is through leveraging online communities such as NING, LINKEDIN, TWITTER, BUSINESSEXCHANGE and more to supplement the “old” ways of making the B2B sale. These (online communities) make it possible for a B2B marketer to execute at all levels of the solution sale.

You will get off to a great start if you follow these 5 simple steps:

1. Develop a relationship through a warm connection. In Linked IN, you can gain a connect to someone who you want to know through someone you know. Further, you can research that person’s history and interests and so when you do get the chance to make your first impression, it is a great one.

2. Understand the company of your target customer. Company profiles on these social networks are filled with important information you need to know to create a real alliance with that company and the key decision makers. Further, you can see who you need to influence and how you need to sell by understanding the company and its employees’ online behaviors and who is a real force within a company page.

3. Follow up and communicate effectively with your target through the networks in which they are active.

4. Become a real resource. Provide necessary connections and valuable information to your target client at the community level.

5. Comment/become engaged in your target’s activity – this keeps you top of mind.

Of course, just like a normal 3-6 month sales cycle in the solution sales B2B world off-line, you need to stay visible through other efforts such as smart networking and personal branding and the like. Further, you need to stay pleasingly persistent as we used to say at IBM. For more information on how to use online marketing to sell, visit the Agent-cy Blog.

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You’ve Had Lunch…Now What? (Or Other Impt. Networking Questions!)

June 1, 2008 at 1:05 pm | Posted in Branding, Customer Service, Networking, sales, Sales Training, small business, technology | 1 Comment
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Did you meet an interesting individual at the last networking lunch? Or, maybe you were recently introduced to someone at a neighbor’s party who could very well be a viable prospect. In these networking-focused times, you’re probably introduced to lots of people at a variety of formal networking events, informal get-togethers, and through online sources.

 

Sure, it’s important to have a healthy list of contacts. But, a list you never utilize is rather useless. If you’re not staying on the grid and keeping in contact, you’re missing out on valuable opportunities to gather new customers and grow your business.  Like with certain other things in life, it’s not the size that counts, it’s what you do with it. This adage certainly applies to contact lists.

 

Are you one of the countless individuals guilty of having an impressive list of contacts and not using it effectively? Don’t be ashamed. You’re in good company. Many professionals, including lawyers, doctors, CPAs and a whole array of others, are notorious for this.

 

So, if staying connected is so important, why doesn’t everyone stay in touch? The majority of excuses frequently used can be broken down into four main categories. Perhaps, one or more of these will sound familiar to you:

 

“I can’t think of a creative way to stay in touch.”

There is no shortage of ways to keep in touch. Start with providing something of value (information, introduction, invitation) and use some creativity.

 

“I don’t want to look needy.”

Actually, by staying in touch, you look professional and organized.

 

“I never get any business from my contacts, so why bother.”

The person who favors this excuse is the one who gives up quickly. Yes, it’s a numbers game, but how you play the numbers will determine your success.

 

“I Forgot.”

Oops, you forgot to grow your business? Ok, this is ridiculous, but unfortunately very common. Start with a system that allows you to stay on top of keeping up with your contacts, and stick with it. Playing ignorant or forgetful is a surefire way to achieve failure.

 

Are you wondering what the best way is to nurture your list? It’s all about having a touch-point follow-up plan. It’s not as complicated as it sounds, really! There are truly only three crucial tips to successful follow-up that you need to know. Are you ready? Ok, here we go:

 

 

 

1. Establish a Routine

Keeping in contact is something that needs to happen on a regular basis, not just when you have nothing better to do. If you have a routine, you’ll be far more likely to stick with it. Set a goal for yourself of emailing a certain number each day. E-Newsletters are another quick and efficient way to stay on the grid with contacts, as long as they’re consistently delivered and contain pertinent information.

 

2. Don’t Just Check In

Just like you, your contacts lead busy lives. Trust me. They won’t be your contacts for long if you frequently interrupt them with phone calls just to “check in.” Put some thought into when, why, how, and where you follow-up. A little bit of logic will go a long way here. There’s a fine line between being diligent and being downright pesty.

 

3. Offer Value

This tip goes hand-in-hand with the last. Don’t just make contact for the sake of making contact. Offer something of value. It doesn’t have to be monetary in nature. It can be anything from an interesting article emailed to an introduction to a colleague who attended the same school. How do you determine what is valuable to a contact? One word – Listen! Find out what their interests, goals, strengths, and challenges are. Keep track of them, and when you come across something applicable, make contact. You will be amazed how grateful and impressed someone can be when you demonstrate that you’ve been listening to them. Wow! What a concept! Simple, but it’s always worth repeating.

 

The fact is not all of your contacting efforts will result in million dollar sales.  However, the cumulative effect can be extremely important to your overall business development – either from direct sales or through additional referrals. At the end of the day, you just never know which of your contacts will be the one to bring in business or the one who will drop off your “radar.”  Thus, it’s crucial to consider a touch-point follow up plan and staying connected as something you need to do with consistency and enthusiasm. The bottom line – You will always lose if you disappear. Stay on the grid, and you’ll be the one who wins.

 

 

 

It Might Be Getting Warm Out but Use ICE to Increase Your Sales

May 20, 2008 at 4:54 pm | Posted in Customer Service, Networking, sales, Sales & Technology, Sales Training, small business, technology | Leave a comment

Did you know that “ICE” can help you turn a cold lead into a hot sale? This easy to remember acronym maps out the most effective way to work with a new prospect? Yes, it’s that simple. Regardless if you’re selling high ticket products or professional services, remembering to use “ICE” will help guide you through the sales process. What do the letters signify?

 

I is for Investigate

Start by performing the necessary due diligence to determine if a prospect is sales worthy and qualified. Don’t be afraid to ask the questions needed to weed out those not qualified or pursue those that have potential. This “investigation” can be accomplished with a pre-prospecting call or even during your initial contact with a prospect. Remember, gathering this information isn’t intrusive. Rather, it’s the only way to avoid wasting your time on those that can’t or won’t buy from you.

 

C is for Convert

After you’ve determined that a prospect has the potential to buy, pull out your sales techniques and skills and convert them into a client.  Use the information that you’ve acquired during your “investigation” to tailor your presentation to their needs, and don’t forget to ask for the sale.

 

E is for Expand

Don’t let a sale be the end of your contact with a client. Consider other opportunities for more business. Try cross-selling and upselling the full plethora of products and services that are applicable to a client. Ask for referrals and offer contacts that might be helpful to them. Keep an open line of communication with the client after the sale and focus on repeat business. It’s always easier and less costly to sell to an existing customer than to pursue a new one.  

How to Convert More Business

May 8, 2008 at 9:41 am | Posted in Customer Service, Networking, sales, Sales & Technology, Sales Training, small business, technology | Leave a comment
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As a salesperson, it’s always helpful to have a long list of prospects. However, if you don’t have a well thought out plan for converting them into customers, you are simply setting yourself up for failure. A low conversion rate is a common problem for salespeople, but one that is correctable with understanding the steps to take through the entire sales process. These steps are easily implemented with little or no cost and can make a tremendous difference in converting a higher percentage of prospects into customers.

 

 

Pick Suspects with Care

Not all prospects are created equal, and it’s best to think of them as suspects until they are screened and qualified. This is a fact that seems obvious, but is often forgotten. The reality is that it’s very easy to jump into selling mode, and mistakenly waste time dealing with someone who will never become a customer. Without a process for assessing the potential of a prospect, you are rolling the dice. You might get a customer, but more likely you’re going to get someone who will take your time and not offer anything in return.

 

Categorize Prospects

When you have multiple prospects, it can be a challenge to keep tabs on where each one is in the selling process. A touch point management strategy is a must. From sales quoting to billing and beyond, companies of all sizes need to make sure that these vital touch points are handled on time and effectively. Without them, the relationship will most likely come to a screeching halt. Sensitivity to what a prospect or a customer is experiencing is crucial and knowing that the proper handling of the most basic of interactions can be what is required to ensure long-term, fruitful relationships.

 

Improve Your Prospect’s Situation

You can have the most wonderful product or service in the universe, but if it does nothing to benefit your prospect’s situation, they’re not going to buy it. Take the time to understand their situation, their needs and wants, and then show them how you can help them. Never assume that what you’re selling just sells itself. In the vast majority of cases, it won’t. It’s your job to sell.

 

Move the Process along the Sales Pipeline

Often the sales process heat up early on, and then fades before anything is closed. If you’ve done your homework and know that you have a qualified lead and a potential sale, don’t let the momentum die. Follow through, keep asking questions, and offer your assistance. Don’t let a sale slip through your hands due to a lack of follow through, and by all means, don’t expect your prospects to do move the sales process along themselves.

 

Close New Business

It comes natural to discuss the features and benefits of what you have to offer, but it can be unnerving to take that final step of closing new business. This is often because many of us associate closing a sale as hard selling. Rather, it’s not a cutthroat maneuver; it’s just a necessary part of the sales process. If you’ve taken the right steps throughout the sales process and recognize that your prospect is ready to buy, they will appreciate the honest, mutually respectful discussion towards the sale.

 

 

What Facebook Means to Me….Ooops, My Business

April 28, 2008 at 5:05 pm | Posted in Networking, sales, Sales Training, small business, technology | Leave a comment
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(Oh no, not another Facebook groupie:) )

 

Do you think that Facebook is just for teenagers wanting to share photos with friends? Think again.  Facebook has become a social phenomenon that has changed the way many of us interpret networking. With over 70 million users worldwide, it has become an undeniably important tool for anyone trying to grow a business.

 

Launched in February 2004 by Harvard student, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook originally began as a way for students to connect and interact with each other. Yes, it may have seemed like simply a youthful fad at first. But, it’s now popular amongst all demographics and has become “the” place to attract prospects, build customer relationships, and develop brand awareness. In fact, organizations of all sizes are finding Facebook applications to be useful for a whole host of business building tactics.

 

So, now are you curious about how Facebook could help you and your business? Here’s a list of the latest ways to incorporate the site into your growth strategy:

 

Brand Development

Simply put, Facebook is a convenient, easy to navigate, online destination where you can communicate your brand to an ever-growing network of potential buyers. Many businesses are currently using Facebook quite successfully to communicate special promotions and events to increase brand awareness. Others are simply posting their product and service offerings, hoping to differentiate themselves from their competitors who have yet to discover Facebook as a marketing tool. 

 

Link to your Website

Once someone has found your business on Facebook, they need to be offered more information. Provide the link to your website and any other online properties. And, don’t forget to provide a link to your Facebook page on your website.

 

Find New Customers

With the number of Facebook users growing by leaps and bounds, it’s obvious why businesses are using its applications to generate and qualify leads. There are large numbers of potential customers on the site that you wouldn’t have otherwise connected with, and qualifying them can be as easy as reviewing their profiles.

 

Feedback

Want to learn more about what consumers are thinking? With the sharing of content and commentary, Facebook offers valuable insight that you can apply to your business.

 

Client Retention

Keep your clients up to date on Facebook. Along with providing the link to your page on your website, include it in your email correspondence and your marketing material. Refresh the content often, and consider the page an online newsletter where you can provide the information and offerings that your customers want and need.

 

 

Facebook for Me

November 26, 2007 at 7:49 am | Posted in holiday, technology | Leave a comment

I’m probably addressing this topic a bit late but I’ve started to play around with Facebook and am finding it great fun. I’ve been able to reconnect with some work friends from my past and even see a potential gig or two lurking in the connections. The site offers some cool things to play with and despite the protests that Facebook is “just for kids” I dare say it holds out lots of potential for business users as well. If you’re not a member take a look and start a page. Ask your friends to join and in no time you’ll be a “regular” on the site like me.

And how was Thanksgiving? I counted 6 Thanksgiving holiday cards that came to me unsigned and without any personalization at all. Bah humbug. This is when the holidays really start to piss me off. Empty sentiments and just a whole bunch of phoniness. If you can’t sign the card, DON”T SEND IT!

You Can’t Stop Breathing

November 5, 2007 at 12:36 pm | Posted in Branding, sales, technology | Leave a comment

The latest word in marketing and branding is Scent Marketing and the company to watch and learn from is Scentandrea (http://www.scentandrea.com). The trendsetter behind this company is my friend Carmine Santandrea, well known for his creative thinking and marketing breakthroughs over the last 40+ years.

Carmine is right on target. Smell is the last frontier in terms of customer…well, is it really, interaction. You can turn off the TV, shut-down your cell phone and close your eyes…but you can’t stop breathing.

Powerful connections, memories and visions are evoked by scent and companies are quickly hopping onto this brand awareness tool.

Check it out.

The Apple Saga Continues

September 17, 2007 at 9:06 pm | Posted in technology | Leave a comment

Okay. Here’s the shout out for the best, most patient, most responsible, most insightful Mac consultant around:

Jonathan Zacks
Principal
MacHelpNYC
350 7th Avenue, Suite 1503
New York, NY 10001
tel: (212) 675-4957
fax: (212) 937-3547
Mac Help NYC

After a nauseating amount of time on the phone with Apple and much time spent perusing the Apple web sites, Jonathan saved the day and got the music loaded.

If you have a Mac, you need Jonathan.

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