Can Twitter and Facebook help you sell to small business?
Guest Contributor: Albert Luk
Albert's Posts - Albert's SiteMuch has been made of Twitter, Facebook and other social media tools as new ways for business to reach their target audience. But is this nothing more than media hype or can Twitter and Facebook help you reach your small business audience?
It depends on several factors.
Given that Twitter and Facebook are both free applications and, since small business owners are value shoppers at heart, the barrier to entry is relatively low to reach your target audience; for curiosity's sake, many small business owners have become Twitter or Facebook subscribers just to see what all the fuss is about; thus, there isn't a large issue getting your potential audience to subscribe for the medium.
The ability to form groups or Twitter tweets also facilitates the ability to create community among other consumers of your good and product. Interactivity is always a constructive way to lower barriers between people.
However, there are also a few things to remember about the nature of the medium itself and your audience. As a personal finance blog pointed out, social media is about connecting people first and sales second. Thus, social media, unless your business is internet based, should not be seen as the primary selling tool to small business.
The other practical issue is the audience. Small business owners work long days and nights. I am not sure, practically speaking, that they have the time to log hours on Facebook or Twitter daily.
The bottom line is that Twitter and Facebook can be useful tools in selling to small business but it does not substitute face to face interaction and the process of building a relationship- the key building blocks of any successful sales strategy.
Labels: Albert Luk
Sales in Today's Economy
Guest Contributor: David Colomb
David's Posts - David's Blog
The economy is tough; just ask me, I have lost my job in the last month. I'm now in the world of job seekers and it has opened my eyes to a new approach to sales. I'm selling the ultimate product, myself, and I'm passionate about my product. If I followed the approach of many salespeople, that would be enough, just go out there present myself and make the sale, get the job. Today that just doesn't seem to work. In a bad economy you can't just roll out your resume, collect the interviews, and choose from among the offers that come back. In today's economy, everyone has hundreds of resumes for every sales job, and they get to cull through, pick and choose, and find only the best match. This means, as a job seeker, I have to be smarter. No matter how good my record is, no matter how outstanding my references are, I need to know more than ever to stand out. The same thing should be happening in your sales career.
Many salespeople seem to think that if you know your product inside out and work hard, you're going to be successful, and I believe, at one time, that may have been enough. I had a manager who used to say, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. That as long as you are positive and look straight ahead, you'll succeed. That is one approach, but I'm not sure that it's totally realistic.
I think there is a way to get to a new level. I believe that you need to spend time understanding the climate that you and your customer are operating in. I think you need to be tapped in to social networks, attending local business events, and keeping your ears to the ground. The more you know about the conditions in your environment, the more likely you are to be able to adjust your approach and answer the needs of your customer. Has your competition lost or fired a salesman, has your customer lost competition, or gained new competition? How has the community that your customer interacts with, changed in this economy? The more you know, the better equipped you'll be. You always need to be thinking about your customer and their business, if you take care of them, they'll buy from you. Salesmen need to be problem solvers, your customer is looking for answers, and they are expecting you to be a partner and give them answers that'll help them succeed.
As I write this blog, I'm watching the news and hearing about the rage over the AIG bonuses, and as a taxpayer I'm enraged myself. I feel that the company should never have made the agreements in the manner that they did, they should have been based on the company making a profit based on the employees contribution. I really don't think you can just decide to cancel a contract that was made in good faith, and pull back money that was promised. When you sign up for a job, you are given an agreement and that's the rules of the road. If you want to change the rules in the future, and then let's sit down and negotiate, and if it doesn't meet my needs, then we part company, no harm, no foul. The government is now the majority owner of the company, and they can make any rules that they want going forward, but they need to honor the contracts that were in place. If Congress decides to tax the money away from the people, or pull back the money, we're setting a precedent that could harm us all in the future.
Labels: David Colomb
Recognize your clients' pain
Guest Contributor: Albert Luk
Albert's Posts - Albert's SiteGerhild Somann is a 67 year old retiree who is very upset. Ms. Somann, like most of us lost a lot of money in the stock market last year. That is not what has her upset per se. What has her really upset-enough to generate bad publicity-is the fact her investment advisors don't feel her pain and instead are trying to sell her product! Most of us do not know who Ms. Somann is until she became the feature of an article much discussed in personal finance blogs.
Is attempting to push more product worth all that bad publicity?
The point is that in bad times several things tend to happen: (i) everything that could go wrong, goes wrong; and (ii) you really find you who your friend are. If you sell to small business you have two choices:
1. Run for the hills, deflect blame and keep selling; or
2. Take responsibility, be there for your clients and become a trusted advisor and not "merely" a sales person or an account manager.
It is easy to do number 1. Your legal department will probably advise you to never, ever, admit liability of any sort. Your sales manager just wants you to close. Pursuing this course of action does nothing but reinforce the sense that salespeople are not trustworthy and, as soon as the sales dry up, they will abandon you.
If you treat your clients like a commodity to be dumped at the first sign of trouble, do not be surprised if that behaviour is reciprocated. Bad salespeople always complain that their clients are fickle and demanding but then they turn around and do #1. Any wonder why the clients treat them this way.
Number 2 is the hard choice but, over the long-term, the right one. I am like everyone else, feeling the pinch but you know who I pay first? My vendors who have stuck with me, show loyalty and understand I am going through some pain. The vendors who treat me like a number, I put on the bottom of my payables pile.
Always remember that entrepreneurs don't die, they just come back in different guises so a short term approach will not serve you well in this market.
Labels: Albert Luk
The World's Famous Direct Mail Marketing Piece (or So They Say) & What You Can Gleam From It...
Guest Contributor: Shannon McCaffery
Shannon's Posts - Shannon's Site
Have you ever heard of Martin Conroy? Don't worry if you haven't. Because if you're not in the advertising world, its most likely you have no idea who he is. In fact, Martin is quite famous because of a letter he wrote back in 1974 for the Wall Street Journal. This is a very famous letter in the advertising world and considered a classic of direct-mail marketing. It's been reused and rewritten and reared as one of the best pieces of advertising among those in the marketing business. This letter was first sent out in 1974 and since then has been mailed continuously for over 28 years. It was sent to millions of people in the course of nearly three decades. It's alleged that it had a longer life than any other direct mail piece ever.
I'm mentioning this for a few reasons. First, I just wanted to pay tribute to Martin Conroy for his brilliant letter. He was an advertising executive and has since passed away. He was 84 years old. He was revered because he created the most enduring ad campaign of all time.
The beauty of what he created was in its simplicity. It was just a letter, a simple two page letter that was a subscription pitch for the Wall Street Journal. It was written in plain language and had an interesting similarity to a fairy tale. It's a wonderful story. That's the real key here, it's written like a story and is a very simple tale and interesting read.
The second reason I'm mentioning this letter is because something most interesting. The Journal never kept any statistics on the letter's effectiveness. As I've mentioned in previous posts about the importance of monitoring, tracking and testing your advertising, I'm amazed that this was never measured. In some ways because of its sheer longevity, the direct mail experts say that is its own testament to its effectiveness.
I just want to note here, unless you've got a lot of money to burn, I would highly encourage you to ALWAYS monitor, track and test your advertising! Here's a glimpse at the first paragraph:
On a beautiful late spring afternoon, twenty-five years ago, two young men graduated from the same college. They were very much alike, these two young men. Both had been better than average students, both were personable and both-as young college graduates are-were filled with ambitious dreams for the future. Recently, these men returned to their college for their 25th reunion..."
Want to read more and see what ideas you can "borrow" for your advertising? Discover the amazing secrets of this great direct mail piece. Check out the WHOLE letter by going to this link-
http://www.MarketingImplementer.com/WSJ_Letter.php You won't be disappointed by what you discover.
This should be something you keep in your swipe file of good copy, great story and a direct mail piece that really worked. My philosophy is keep a swipe file of really good ads that work. When I'm creating something new, I get out my swipe file and generate some awesome ideas for some killer sales copy.
Labels: Shannon McCaffery