Increase sales? Sell from your vision.

How do you increase sales if you have lost sight of your vision – the ‘how and why’ you are selling?

For 18 years I’ve worked with businesses of all sizes, stage of growth and across different markets. One thing in common?  The desire to maximize sales, shorten the sales cycle, excite and engage their marketplace – and create a bigger impact.

Yet sometimes companies may be on the brink of marketing-self-sabotage — where marketing and sales initiatives undermine or delay sales — and they don’t even know it.

One of the symptoms of this is when a company doesn’t lead (by which I mean consistently act with a deliberate direction) from their vision.

Your company exists for a reason. There’s an underlying vision of what it wants to change in the world or in people’s lives; there is an impact the founder of the company envisaged. Yet companies lose track of this and stop leadiIncrease salesng from their vision.

I like to ask companies about their vision right up front, and it’s surprising how many people within a company — sometimes even founders — aren’t crystal clear on their vision, and how inconsistently the vision is articulated, with so many different answers. Get clear on your vision, share it with your company and then lead from it — not just in terms of management, but in terms of positioning and marketing.

Do you believe in your vision and act in ways that constantly and consistently support it?  Does every part of your business reflect your vision – from the way you communicate to your market, to the way you articulate your sales cycle, to the way you treat your staff? Are you acting on, reinforcing and underpinning the vision every single day ?

Help your prospects and your communities understand why your company exists and make it easy for them to engage with you.  Build your vision into your working practices. Remind and inspire your co-workers. Because if you’re not clear and engaged on the vision, then no-one else is going to feel part of it.

If you are looking for fresh inspiration on how to accelerate and reinvigorate your sales cycle then join us for our FREE Sales Mastery webinar on August 25. You will learn more about how a shift in attitude and a killer sales plan can dramatically and immediately boost your sales conversions. We look forward to you joining us!

Are You Working to a Written Marketing Plan?

technology marketing plan successDo you have a written marketing plan?

To some people this may sound like a ludicrous question, but having worked with more than 300 vendors (of all stages and sizes) over the past 18 years, I still find myself surprised by the number of vendors that don’t have an explicit and written marketing plan.

When I say ‘plan’ I mean something written, that has been discussed and is agreed upon by relevant stakeholders.

I see plenty of cases where there is no written marketing plan – and instead, marketing is done on a whim, a hope, possibly a prayer.

So if you don’t have a written marketing plan in place, my advice is to start on one – now

Yes, creating a marketing plan can take time (though it doesn’t need to be – in fact shouldn’t be – ‘War and Peace’). And while having a plan in place is a great starting point, the plan then needs to be executed – campaigns  are run based on the plan, launches are mapped out, metrics are in place, it’s measured and optimized.

Want some ideas on what you should (and shouldn’t) include in your marketing plan?  Sign up for a free 30-minute strategy session to discuss your marketing and sales.

Tribalist: List-building for technology companies

I recently met with the marketing team of a well-established company to talk about content marketing and list-building. I was surprised to hear that while they seemingly had a bazillion ideas for content, they didn’t have this mapped through to a solid and constantly evaluated list-building strategy.

It’s pointless creating content if it’s not part of a consistent list-building process to engage with your target audience. To me, list-building is a core and deliberate activity of any marketing department; a well-documented, carefully considered, highly useful and regularly reviewed strategy that analyzes the leads coming in — then sources and harnesses technologies to trial and split-test.

These are some of the common list-building mistakes we’ve seen and helped fix at technology companies. Are any familiar?

  • Little understanding of how to list-build, measure and analyze
  • Poorly defined market segments in your list
  • Not clear on target audiences, including specific pain points, specific behaviors for market segments
  • No focus on building relationships with the list
  • Information offered in content is about you – the vendor company
  • Prospects don’t read and think, ‘Ahh, that’s what’s in it for me’
  • Lists are not tagged, categorized or managed appropriately
  • Technology is not used optimally
  • There’s not enough concurrent list-building activities
  • Landing pages, lead boxes and squeeze pages are poorly implemented
  • There’s no ‘prospect path’ to nurture leads
  • Analytics are not used rigorously
  • List-building is seen as “the sticky end of the stick” (a direct quote from a VP of marketing) and not understood as a central and core activity which is crucial to the development and growth of the business.
Tribalist: List-buildingTribalist: List-building for technology companies
With these concepts in mind, we packaged up everything that we know about list-building in Tribalist, comprehensive list-building training for technology marketers.
This detailed program is composed of six information-laden modules accompanied with live calls, videos, checklists, cheat sheets, suggested resources and step-by-step guides. It’s specifically designed for technology marketers who are serious about considering, testing and adopting new ways to consistently list-build. Head over to www.tribalist.us to find out more and sign up to learn how to consistently and deliberately list-build.

List-building horses and content carts

I was recently talking with a client about metrics for their big product launch. We reviewed content and themes and I was surprised to see that there were no metrics in place for what I would call the ‘list-building’ part of the plan. When I asked about specifics to build and increase traction of the company’s list around the launch, I was told that the team was “writing a whitepaper and a new webinar for the launch,” and that once they had them finished, they would “then plan how to share them.”

From 18 years of helping companies market and sell, I see this as the wrong way around.  You don’t want to ‘create-content-then-shoehorn-it-into-a-list-building-activity’ thing, because that’s putting the content before the list-building objectives, or as I like to think of it, it’s putting the content cart before the list-building horse.

This happens a lot. Whether you are planning an e-book, a whitepaper, a customer case study, writing a series of emails, or putting together a webinar – or a mix of these things to support your launch, it’s important that think about the ‘why’. You need an up-front analysis of potential audiences, their traits and buying behaviors, consideration of how your list is segmented, the stage of sale that those target audiences are at – and how you can help them. I’ve seen whole campaigns sent out to entire databases without a thought of the different decision makers, industries, or stages of sale involved.

That’s why we help corporates to think about how they are list-building and we show them, step-by-step, to consider different angles, approaches and best practices. In our Tribalist program we list-build by flipping the process, starting with detailed metrics and objectives based on what the list looks like now. Do you know how many opportunities you get from your list? How many people are being added to your list from different activities?  What makes prospects join — and unsubscribe — from you list? What do you find when you split-test different content formats, headlines or subjects?

Without careful planning, results you get from creating content are inconsistent. It should also be noted that having permission to contact a prospect or customer directly by email is a privilege. It should be honored by doing the most planned, relevant and deliberate campaigns targeting specific personas and helping them — not by creating content for unknown, faceless contacts.

So if your content cart is before your list-building horse, think about how much growth and traction you are seeing from your list, and how changing the order can change your results —and your relationship with your prospects.

If you’d like to see how we show marketers to deliberately and consistently list-build then check out Tribalist – our comprehensive list-building program.

Winning customers vs closing sales

Sales: Are you just selling or creating customers?Great sales is about doing the right thing for everyone involved: for your business, yourself, your team, and the customer.  If you’re selling something that isn’t totally serving the end user, then you’re not creating a customer base; you’re just closing sales.

Some people may think: “So what if I’m only closing sales? That’s what I need to do.” But this mindset doesn’t come from a place of service. Using this theory, then, sales is about manipulation. It means that you aren’t acting in the best interest of your customers. You may get a sale, but you don’t have a customer — a contact that will appreciate and recommend you, or become a reference or someone who trusts you.

Sales is something you do for someone, and not something you do to them.

Zig Ziglar talked about sales being the need to become the assistant buyer — thinking from the prospect’s perspective.

If you’re entrepreneur who wants to increase sales and drive business results for your startup, then join us for our free online training:  “How to Make Your Startup a Sales Machine.” Click here to find out when the next training is and to secure your place