New Selling Strategy Series – The Knowledgable B2B Buyer

Part 1-The Knowledgeable B2B BuyerSkeptical Guy is a Skeptic

News flash, not only has the B2B buying process changed but the B2B buyer has as well.  Back in the day, sales and marketing tactics were all the same regardless of a prospect – a glossy brochure, a cold call, a direct mail piece…one size fits all.  Those days are certainly over. Trust is paramount. And access to information from you or others is available faster than you can say “google.”

Your customers have wised-up[1], you should too!  Thanks to the internet, social media and other online influences- prospects are spending more time on the web or mobile device doing their own research.  Remember, the days of taking your word for it are over!

Let’s examine a top buying group whose wicked research skills demand a more customized approach – Generation X, (people born from 1960 to the early 1980’s).

  • Overly Skeptical
  • Research the company in depth
  • Stalk products – searching high and low for every detail
  • Cross reference – from peer reviews to industry ones, from literature, case studies, webinars, ebooks, white papers and videos
  • Research the sales team – are they trustworthy? Do they know what they are talking about? Can he/she/they be a partner?

Skeptical and savvy – these Gen Xers force us to change the process.  Forcing us to gain social capital [2]and take a hard look at our processes in sales and marketing. Embracing a social selling process is the first step in the new direction. It’s not about selling, it about solving.[3]  To keep your pipelines full, you should evaluate if you are still in the game or lost in the “research.”

Some key takeaways to keep in mind:

[1] The description of business-to-business buyers as more ‘rational’ than their consumer counterparts is perhaps controversial, but we believe true.  We may not leave our emotions at home when we go to work, but most of us attach them to a tight leash and try to keep them away from our colleagues. Would the consumer who pays £3,000 for a leather jacket that is less warm and durable than its £200 counterpart in the shop next door make a similar decision in the workplace?

[2]You build a reputation around your brand, your company, and it stands the test of time, as the saying goes, if you do it well. There’s a certain amount of goodwill that goes into this social capital concept and you can abuse it in some cases, and your buyers, your fans, will give you some slack, and forgive you. In other cases, all the capital in the world won’t help you if you cross certain lines…If we need social capital in order to influence others to buy from us, how do we build it in online circles and in real life? My belief is that we need to know our customers better. Technology helps us with that, but process is just as important.

[3] Let an actual buyer voice be heard:  “Okay, so what gets my goat more than anything is that after I do all the research and such, I finally get to talking to a sales rep. And what happens? They just regurgitate all the stuff I found online. They are not telling me anything new. Just telling me what I already know.”

Thoughts? Is it time for a new selling strategy?

 Join us next week when we discuss “Your B2B Social Profile-Are You Trustworthy Enough?”

Is Health Insurance the Sleeping Giant Preventing Entrepreneurship in US?

insurance policy document

I know it is a bold statement. But throughout time, government policy and social factors have affected entrepreneurship.  I am not trying to get into the whole healthcare political debate.  I just want to share a couple of recent conversations I have had.  And merely share a trend that has bubbled to the surface.

One story where a cancer survivor who has brilliant and innovative ideas on how to transform nonprofit fundraising, but is confound by a less than visionary work setting.  I passionately said, “Quit and start your own transformational fundraising consulting firm.”  For a moment there was a spark in her eye…it was a fleeting moment.  She replied, I can’t. I have to be a part of a group health insurance plan.  My risk profile isn’t very flattering, so I have to go with a traditional work setting.

Next story, this is a series that I bundled all together.  I talk to several highly experienced people in their 50s and 60s that dream of starting another career or their own company and when I ask, “well, why don’t you just do it! Is it fear that is holding you back?”  The number one reply: It’s health insurance.  At “my age” it’s difficult to get the coverage you need for an affordable price.

When people of all ages talk to me about my business, the first question that comes up.  How do you deal with health insurance?  I am sure there are lots of solutions, I just say, “I have an individual plan. It’s not the best, but it is affordable and it works fine.”

Don’t get me wrong, I know many people aren’t cut out to be entrepreneurs. I know that health insurance is just the first barrier to taking the leap.  But interesting that it is one of the top reasons people don’t even consider their alternatives.

What do you think?  Is health insurance the sleeping giant that’s holding us back?

 

Focus – The Future Crown Jewel of All Skills

Focus – The Future Crown Jewel of All Skills

You know when you fill out your LinkedIn profile and the section comes up for Skills.  You know the section I am talking about…the one now everyone is endorsing you.  Have you ever really thought about what are the best skill sets in a time where business is flipped upside down.  Where companies can start with less cash than it costs to buy a used car.  Where everyday people are bombarded with millions of messages and information. I suggest one of the most important skills these days is “FOCUS” – both for individuals and companies.  More and more we are seeing “barriers of entry” busted.  We are seeing cross-over in product and service lines.  And yet the temptation of adding more and more constantly  lingers and entices us to do more.  Sure, we try to justify this action as a way to diversify our portfolio…but what it really is doing is distracting us from being the best. Distracting us from being the best employee or the best company. It’s hard.  It’s hard to say no. It’s hard to create boundaries and stick to them.  You have to be flexible, yet focused.  It’s a dance.  Well, I just put on my dancing shoes.  I challenge you to strive to “FOCUS” more.  What do you think? Is “FOCUS” a key to success today? I am going to put it on my LinkedIn Profile.  How about you?

10 Minutes a Day to Social Media Success

10 Minutes a Day to Social Media Success–Yeah, it can happen.

And it can start in your email inbox. I have been failing my own advice for 2 years now and feeling guilty.  I had tried every tool imaginable, but I just couldn’t get a rhythm.  I felt like I was always bumbling around or chasing. Ironic since I help companies with their innovative marketing and social media presence.  I found, personally, it was hard to keep up and be active every day, consistently. Plus, many of my clients were struggling with his/her personal profiles, not as marketers.  Finding the time and process that works in your daily routine is a big challenge everyone faces.

Here is my secret.

8 Steps to Implement K. Melissa Kennedy’s 10 Minutes a Day to Social Media Success

  1. Block off 10 minutes on your  calendar
  2. Add the Google Chrome Extension – Buffer  (It does all the “dripping” for you, updating your profiles throughout the day. Plus, it is in the browser so you don’t have to open another application.)
  3. Create a rule in your inbox to put all newsletters and google alerts in one folder
  4. Set a timer for 10 minutes
  5. Check your folder, read and “buffer” relevant content – Always read/watch the content before sharing, add your personal flair or commentary when sharing
  6. Review your social sites to see what your network is doing and skim to see if you want to engage (like, comment, share)
  7. Timer goes off
  8. Stop

It has been working like a dream.  I have had more engagement on my posts than ever before.  I have been consistently more active. Plus it is continuing to build my personal online brand.  Sometimes if I have time at night, I add in another 10 minutes and follow the same steps, but if I don’t, I catch up in the morning during my 10 minute social media appointment. I hope the secret helps.  Just 10 minutes, an inbox folder, timer and a web browser extension and you can manage it.

Leap of Faith and 3 Secrets Revealed from SoSummit and Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Rio

Leap of Faith in Rio

Leap of Faith in Rio

Yeah, that’s me taking a real leap of faith as I hang glide over the Tijuca Forest and land on Ipanema beach in Rio de Janerio, Brazil last week.

What I learned is that a “leap of faith” is what every entrepreneur takes when they set off on starting their own company. Not sure if it is bravery or stupidity, but it is the only way to be in the game.

Here are 3 secrets revealed at the 2013  SoSummit (Start up Weekend Organizers Conference) and GEC (Global Entrepreneurship Congress)

  1. Everybody has an idea – Entrepreneurs take action on ideas —-Sounds pretty generic, but it was major validation for me.  Everyone has ideas…lots of them, some good and some bad.  But nothing matters unless you take action on ideas.  And then the secret to success is to execute like hell….even more action.  Action is a major key to success.
  2. Entrepreneurship can be lonely – BUT you are not alone.  Doing something different is always less popular than the norm, so it only stands to reason that starting a new business is in the minority.  It can be a very lonely place.  BUT you are not alone, there are not only others on the same journey, but enthusiasts and champions that have your back.  Remember that when you are running out of steam and think you can’t go on.
  3. Success for future start up growth lies on both sides – Entrepreneurs and Government. It’s easy to say we don’t need the slow, bureaucratic government, we will just do it.  Well, not so fast…building a supportive community and culture only succeeds if the infrastructure supports it. Take Brazil for example, there are lots of entrepreneurs on the beach selling everything you would want at the beach…a sarong,  a lunch pastry or a beer, but none of them are legal, because it takes at least a year to get a business license in Brazil and the government takes 50% of your earnings.  These are not incentives to support a hungry and brave culture of entrepreneurship   It take both entities to be successful and sustainable and from what I experienced at the GEC…we have a LONG way to go.  I believe it is a cause worth fighting for—offering people the freedom and joy to make their way. Now that is something we all can support.

So cheers to the brave, to those that support them and to a world where anything is possible.

 

3 Top 2013 Trends to Watch for in the Future

Crystal Ball

I will throw my predictions into the hat….

3 Trends to Watch for in 2013

  • Second screen revolution – the tablet and mobile device will be the jelly to the TV peanut butter….one will not be without the other.  Marketers will need to figure out how to connect those virtual dots without a solid tech “connection.”
  • Big Data gets analyzed – Did you know that something like 98% of data collected is never looked at? All this talk about big data is exhausting, especially if no one looks at it and translates it into action.  This will be the year that companies will invest in some analytics help, so they can start taking advantage of all that information.
  • Attribution gets smart -Who gets credit for what? The question every professional yearns to answer- especially among various marketing departments: Was it brand? Was it lead generation? Was it sales enablement? — that closed the deal. And then there is the tactical level–email vs search vs social vs….and what combination worked the best? and how does that translate to budget allocation? This is the year where companies start to throw out formulas and seriously help solve the “credit” attribution problem and create better predictive models. Be careful though–all rules (and formulas) are meant to be broken.

Let’s see how this plays out.  What are your predictions?

Best Year-End Business Advice – 3 BIG ideas

Best Year-End Business Advice – 3 Big Ideas

Where has the time gone? Hopefully, this year it has gone to doing business – to building business, to closing business and to delighting customers and solving their problems.

I have had a great privilege to work with some amazing companies, organizations and people. It’s been hard, but so much FUN!

Here are 3 BIG ideas to help you close out this rockin’ year!
  1. Thank your customers, partners and supporters.  They are what make your business hummmm and without them we would be no where.
  2. Take some time to relax and recharge.  You deserve it.  You survived another year with all of its trials and tribulations from your own business turmoil or raving success, to madness and tragedy in the nation and the world.
  3. Reflect and celebrate.  Hard work isn’t sustainable without a little “woot woot.” I foresee 2013 to be a tremendous year, so write down your victories and toast yourself.  You have earned it.

 

So maybe these aren’t BIG ideas, but they are effective.  So I will take action on the first one to show you how it gets done.

  • THANK YOU.  To all the people who have made Ester Mae Marketing an amazing success in 2012.
  • Thank you to my wonderful customers. What great things we have done! Cheers to 2013!
  • Thank you to my colleagues who have referred me and put their reputation on the line for me.
  • Thank you to my wonderful team for their imaginative and diligent spirit and relentless drive to “make it happen.”
  • Thank you for my “cheerleading” board of supporters – your sound advice and affirming voice helped me and my business blossom.

Wishing you all the best as we close out 2012.  Cheers to makin’ it happen in 2013!

 

 

 

The “DOING” is the hardest part – 3 Ways to Help You DO More

Everyone has ideas...everyone!

The “DOING” is the hardest part – 3 Ways to Help You DO More

Everyone has ideas...everyone – some good, some bad, some just plain genius.  But the hard part about any great idea is actually doing it – the implementation, the execution.  The act of putting together a plan, forming a team and then jumping off the cliff and doing something.

I am one of those people that can brainstorm until the cows come home…I love generating ideas.  Love, love it.  I think that is one of the fun parts of innovation is imagining the possibilities.  What takes talent (and discipline) is taking an idea from concept to completion.  That’s the “Doing”…and “Doing” is the hardest part.”

"DOING is the hardest part"

Here are 3 ways to help you DO more and ignite innovation:

  1. Set a time limit on the brainstorming – Don’t spin on the ideas!
  2. Create a sense of urgency – real or fake.  Budget that needs to be spent, or a scheduled customer meeting
  3. Empower your team.  Give all around you the confidence to step out and deliver.  Fear is usually the big hurdle.  If you inject confidence, it will get done.

Stop dreaming and start doing.  The next big thing will never be, if you don’t just do it.

 

 

Internet Summit 2012 After Hours Party – Don’t Miss

 

After Hours Networking Party, 11-7-12, 8pm Spy Raleigh, Free

IT’S On!  The most outrageous networking party you have ever attended.  After you learn from some of the most innovative interactive and tech rockstars at Internet Summit, unwind and meet your next big connection at the official after hours party of the conference this year. Plus, several area businesses including Jabarra, Tuscan Blu, Videri Chocolate factory and The Pit will be offering discounts.

Hosted by Sitecore, Triangle Interactive Marketing Association, and the Triangle American Marketing Association.

Where: Spy Raleigh, 330 West Davie Street, Raleigh, NC 27601

When: November 7, 2012 from 8pm – until

Who: Anyone is invited.  It is a FREE event.

Networking not your thing?  Come anyway, there will be lots of entertainment for all to enjoy.  Apple Juice Kid rockin’ the tunes, Aerial Circus Acts inside the night club and a live graffiti artist slinging paint on the patio.  Plus, there are lots of fun door prizes and membership discounts for the tech-no-geek is us all.

More details here.

Happy partying…or networking…

 

 

 

Why companies don’t try new things? Legacy Inertia

Why companies don’t try new things?

That was the question a few colleagues have asked me over the last few weeks.  Especially when stats prove the success of new techniques. I call it “Legacy Inertia.” Thanks David Rose (@dbrose67) for the eloquent term.

Legacy Inertia is the phenomenon that people will continue doing something that reaps moderate results versus trying a new tactic, supported by various forms of evidence of its superior results, because the old “legacy” technique and its results are already accepted in the organization. The perceived risk of not meeting that minimum mediocre expectation is too high to be the one to try something new, even though the results may be infinitely greater.

It all about fear.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of failing. Fear of success.  Trying something new takes guts.  And most people are risk averse. They think they have far more to lose than to gain by fighting to try something new and gambling on its success.  It’s why large companies find it so difficult to innovate. Hitting the preverbal brick wall.

corporate brick wall

My favorite part of this ailment is that usually when you talk to people they say “yeah…we have to do that…” They nod in agreement…often times they get excited by the prospect.  But when they go back to their organizations and start talking about it…they meet resistance. Resistance kills innovation.

Consider it for yourself.  When you are trying to convince your boss to try video for example in your marketing mix…or when you have an idea of a new product feature…watch it unfold.  First they listen, then they agree and get excited and then when you are ready to take action….excuses commence and innovation stalls.

What do you think? Does this “Legacy Inertia” Exists? How do you combat is in your organizations?

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