Can you teach an old dog new tricks?
Guest Contributor: David Colomb
David's Posts - David's Blog
Technology, a word that is the friend of some salespeople. A word that strikes abject fear in to other salespeople. Which are you? I started my sales career with a three ring notebook, with a page for each customer, I put in info each time I contacted the customer, until the page was filled, and then I stapled a new page to the back, and carried on. The notebook became dog eared, the pages fell out, info was lost and I was frustrated. Communication was a pager that told me who to call, and the nearest phone booth and a roll of dimes were the way to contact my customer. You learned where there were phone booths with desks, and good lighting, so you could sit down and do your work. Research on a potential customer was a trip to the public library, cold call info was yellow pages; you kept a copy of each phone book in your trunk, and pulled it out when you were working the territory. Orders were placed by handwritten forms, or called in to the secretary who typed it up and turned it in. Copies were on your desk, and you filed it all away in file cabinets.
Today, all my client info is on my laptop, and with an air card, I can get on the internet anywhere and anytime. Orders are placed by filling out forms on the internet, with copies in a computer file. I have two cell phones on my hip, one for company business and one for personal. I have a printer in car, so I can fill out and print contracts on the customer's site. My car has two electric outlets to power all this technology. Which is better?
Yes. I know that keyboard time, has replaced windshield time as the bane of a salesperson's existence, but think back to how difficult organization was in the past. You can now put together newsletters, presentations, and other communications and email them to any number of clients. We can then record our movements on a file in our CRM, and know what we did. We can stay in contact with hundreds of customers on a regular basis. We can use GPS to cut down lost time and energy.
I always fear that that I don't let technology disconnect me from my customer, I need to balance technology with the personal touch. I may email, but I need to be sure to make face to face contact, I may use the cell phone, but I need to be sure we're talking. I can't let leaving a voicemail, be sufficient contact with a customer, I need to be sure I reach and speak with the decision maker. Technology should help me to have a better relationship with my customer, not insulate me from my customer. I also need to resist the need to be a belt and suspenders type of salesperson. I need to embrace and trust that technology works. I don't need boxes full of files in my car, which are copies of things on my computer. I don't need to hard copy every email I receive, I need to let technology lighten my load, not add to it.
We always want to complain about change, and lament the good old days, but they weren't that good. We need to accept change, advocate for more change, and use the technology to the best effect that we can. Let's all prove that you can teach an old dog new tricks.
Labels: David Colomb
How to Find Your Starving & Very Hungry Crowd
Guest Contributor: Shannon McCaffery
Shannon's Posts - Shannon's Site
There's a great story by the late marketer and copy writer Gary Halbert. He often asked a group of people this question, "If you were to open up a fast food business, what would you want?" Some people said they'd want a great location, others said the best secret sauce. And what Gary said was, "You guys can have that stuff. All I want is a starving, and very hungry crowd." This IS exactly what you want- a huge massive starving and hungry crowd. You need to find people that are desperate or who will do anything to simply get their hands on your product or services and then all you need to do is give it to them. Your potential customer is that "Hungry Crowd."
So then the real question is what comes first? Do you create your product first, then find your hungry crowd and sell it? Or do you find that hungry crowd first and then create your product? Well, the debate about this one in the information marketing business is pretty hot and heated and almost as passionate as to what came first, the chicken or the egg?! The funny thing is that the majority of people I come across usually have already created a product or in the process of creating it and then they look to build their list and find their hungry crowd. The real truth and honestly THE best way to go about this is finding that hungry crowd FIRST. This is really the key. There's no need to spend all your time, money and effort creating a product to then find out that it's not a real "hungry" market and there's no real "need" for your product.
I'm going to spend a few minutes here this month and give you some excellent tips I've discovered on how to go about finding "your hungry crowd" first, then later in the coming months I'll give you some insights and great ideas on how to go about creating your product.
Here's step #1, after you have your product area, you need to do RESEARCH. Best way to do it is go online to Google. Put your key words right into the search area and check out the right side of the page. These are paid advertising, and also the top of the page there might be some ads. Are there products or services already being marketed to this niche? If the answer is yes, that's a good sign. It means people are looking for solutions to their problems and are willing to spend money to buy them. Look for trends, and top performers in your category. For example if you create a product on house training your dog, put that into Google's search engine and see what comes up. Sometimes there are too many products in a field. So if you decide you want to enter, I'd recommend buying the top products that are your competition and read through them and figure out what's missing from the product. Figure out your competitor's weak point. So when you create your product, make it incrementally different, than your competition and have a specific marketing hook that's different from them. Also, sign-up for their newsletters or free reports and see what they're selling, and how they're selling it. Knowing your competition is good.
Other places to do your key word research: www.technorati.com - search blogs for your topic or idea, www.Wordtracker.com (they have a paid and free service) You could also go to Google Adwords and see your search volume on actual words people are using surrounding your product idea. Just go to Google, on the bottom of the page that says "Advertising Programs." (If you have an adwords account already, you can read on!), then click on Google Adwords. Scroll down to "Create your ads" and click on "Get key word ideas." Add as many words as you can and hit "get key word ideas." When you get your results, look at the "global monthly search volume," and you can even sort by this column. This will give you a good idea on how many searches were done with these key words. Plus it will give you many other key words that people search. There's so much more you can do with this, however, I just don't have the space here. And there are also volumes of other great resources on Google adwords that could help you as well.
Something else to keep in mind is that very successful products come from these 3 Super niches:
1) Money in Business
2) Health & Fitness
3) Dating and Relationships
Look for markets that are evergreen; is it a fad that will last? Is this a seasonal market and do I have time to enter it? How much money can be made in these niches? Remember you need a little bit of lead time to create and then sell your product.
Next, do you have a sense of what it costs them NOT to have those problems solved? If not, find out. This can be a key selling point in your favor, you will appeal to this crowd on an emotional level, and you feel their pain and want to help. Do you know what they are willing to spend in order to solve their problem? You can find out by going to the web sites of the current vendors within the space you are pursuing. Check out the products and services they sell, paying special attention to the pricing.
We've just scratched the service on how to go about researching for your product idea. I hope this was helpful. I'll give you some more great stuff on research and product creation next month too! In the mean time, if you have any questions, email me, I'm happy to help!
Labels: Shannon McCaffery
The Value of Empathy
Guest Contributor: Albert Luk
Albert's Posts - Albert's SiteI recently returned to practicing law having worked for a medium sized business on both legal and non-legal matters. At an entrepreneurial function, a contact of mine introduced me to someone as: "a real business lawyer because he actually understands what an entrepreneur goes through day-to-day."
A friend of mine runs a successful business with his vice-president handling the day-to-day end of it. I asked him how he ended up hiring this employee. As it turns out, the employee was his account manager for services he purchased. The employee asked him how he could join him and my friend responded: "run a business for a year and maybe we can talk." Sure enough, this gentleman quit his corporate job, ran a business for a year and contacted him. Impressed with his dedication, my friend hired him.
What do these two stories have in common?
Small and medium sized business owners place a high value on empathy. Specifically, they want to know that you understand the slings and arrows they go through every single day. If you have suffered them before or understand them, their level of respect for you generally tends to be higher which means a greater chance they may buy from you.
See how my friend handled his employee when he was an account manager? In essence, he said you can only work with me if you get out of the glass tower and understand the daily life of an entrepreneur.
One final story then some tips. Real estate agents often lease high-priced vehicles to give their clients the aura of success. I find that this tends to back-fire if you are wooing a potential small business client not interested in the currency of status. In fact, driving up in a high-priced car may provoke the opposite reaction as in: "I see where your commission is going-to maintain your life-style." Like attract like so understand the market you are serving.
The moral of these stories?
1. Don't be just a suit. Be a suit that understands small business.
2. Don't be afraid to show your entrepreneurial credibility. Working in or coming from a family of entrepreneurs gets you far.
3. Any tips or referral to help your small business clients will put you ahead of your competition. After all, you are implicitly saying you understand the day-to-day life of your customers or potential customers.
Labels: Albert Luk