Author's Posts

The problem with taking offense is that it’s really hard to figure out what to do with it after you’re done using it.

Better to just leave it on the table and walk away. Umbrage untaken quietly disappears.

— Seth Godin, Taking Umbrage

I can’t think of a time when losing my temper helped out in the long run. More often than not, you get upset or take umbrage, not because of the situation or person you’re taking offence to. It’s because you’re angry at yourself – a perceived ineptness, shortcoming or deficiency.

That’s why, eventually, when you’re done taking offence, all you’re left with is your insecurity and whatever collateral damage was caused.

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I’m a big fan of routines, they allow us to free up mental energy by making certain tasks and habits mechanical.

But successful habits require one critical element – commitment. Without commitment, a routine become chores and is easily derailed. A snowstorm, a power failure, an early meeting, a late meeting, a sleepless night, a rainy day, a special day are all good reasons to break a routine. Unless there’s a commitment.

When you commit to writing a post daily, you write daily regardless of meeting times and weather conditions.

Routines are merely a way to deliver on what you said you would do. They allow you to spend less energy on everyday choices to focus on what matters, but when the routine fails, all that allows you to push through and still deliver is commitment.

If you didn’t start by standing up, so to speak, and say “I will do this”, then routine and process will only take you so far.

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There’s a common misconception in some SMB circles that all you need to do these days is set up shop online, and sales will flow in. After years of hearing the web was taking over and resisting it, this is the thought that remains. There’s a similar misconception in both large and small organizations with email, social media, and online ads. We’ll just send, post and spray our message and the sales will come.

The root of these misconceptions are similar: “people should be excited about what I have to say.”

While in 1998, you might have genuinely been excited to get an email, today the average executive receives 140+ emails daily. While back then you might have flocked to yahoo.com. Today, the audience is more fragmented.  

 

The misnomer that online is easy, (and the inevitable follow-up reaction: “online doesn’t work”) is an indication of lack of interest. And a lack of interest prohibits tests and insight.

So when you venture online, intuition alone is not enough for success. Necessary, maybe. But not sufficient.

Everything online is a thought through experiment fueled by testing and experience.

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There’s a difference between living in the moment and holding on to it. By definition, the present is fleeting. Living in the moment means accepting that.

When we breathe a sigh of relief when Lee Se-dol finally beats Google’s DeepMind AI at Go (even if just for a little while) or when Google’s autonomous car had its first fender bender, we’re holding on. “Ok, we’re still driving our cars. Life as I know it is unchanged.”

Of course, that type of thinking is futile. Burying your head in the sand will not prevent cars from driving themselves or computers to get better at replacing us. What it all means isn’t always clear, but what’s certain is that tomorrow will not look like today.

More fruitful I think is to accept and make the most of it. Your car will drive itself; complex human tasks will get replaced.

No matter how big or small, accept it. Move past it. Build on it.

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Commitment is a must. Once you state that you will blog daily, create a campaign or help a friend, breaking the engagement breaks the trust you’ve built by committing in the first place.

When someone sets the agenda, it might just be worth breaking that trust. It’s less damaging than continuing. But for all the times you made the choice, it is only by committing that will you ever be able to make a difference.

Sure a new practice isn’t always easy. The temptation to quit is often stronger than the drive to continue. Doing something that has the chance of being worth noticing never comes willy nilly. It comes from engaging and pushing through the temptations.

Determine what matters to you, commit to it and push through the temptation to stop.

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We’re wired to see things, to take not of subtle shifts and strong ones. It’s a matter of survival. For our ancestors, if you couldn’t perceive a subtle rustling of leaves how could you avoid the predator?

That’s still in us. But it’s been oppressed.

We’re taught to bury and forget it. Listen to the instructions, pass the test, check the boxes, tow the line. It worked great for a while. (Truth be told, I’m more than happy that my surgeon checks the boxes and not freely experiment while she’s in there).

But for the rest of us, for the marketers, the sales folks, the copywriters, the account managers, the students, the teachers, noticing is still very much a matter of survival. Maybe not life and death survival, but survival nonetheless.

Noticing is the only way for us to stand even a chance of doing work that matters, to figure out what is important to our customers, to hope to make a difference.

A little while ago, I stopped publishing my (almost) daily posts in the name of efficiency. Choosing instead to focus entirely on strategic posts. The reasons were a decrease in traffic to the site, less relevant business requests and fatigue.

Yes, that led to more introspection, but frankly also less “noticing.” You see if you don’t push yourself to share your work, you aren’t going to put yourself out there; you get lazy.

So today I choose to notice again. I elect to survive and thrive.

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Curiosity

At this point, if you’re in sales, it probably isn’t necessary to tell you that your prospects are researching you before a meeting or after a first contact. More often than not, that means they’ll find your LinkedIn profile. In other words, a stand-out profile is pretty much a must for anyone in sales looking to have some success.

That’s why sales professionals who are in the know, spend time tweaking and updating their LinkedIn Profiles. But for the rest of us it’s a daunting task. An insurmountable feat. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s all the copy that needs to be written; maybe it’s the fact that we’re unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the site; maybe it’s the fear of having to go through all our profile pictures to find an “okay” one; or maybe it’s that writing about yourself is hard.

… In fact, I think it’s a bit all of the above.

Where should we even get started?

That’s why I’ve set out some guidelines here for the most time-consuming part: your Profile Summary.

Arguably, the summary is the least understood section of a LinkedIn Profile. Most either ignore it (don’t fill it out) or summarize their work experience. Other times they’ll just talk about random facts with no real goal in mind.

What’s a Summary for?

Really it serves one purpose – to increase the chances of a connection by generating curiosity amongst your visitors. Whether you want them to accept your connection request or ask you to connect, your Summary will play a role.

You see, the role of your Profile Picture and Professional Headlines are there to encourage a click through. Your Summary and Experience are there to close the loop in a way and get the connection.

How to increase the chance of a connection?

There are two mechanisms you want to to tap into, curiosity and trust.

Wait a minute…, if you’re thinking that this sounds a little intense for a simple Linkedin Summary, you might be right. I have put a lot of thought into LinkedIn Profiles – I’ve written a lot of them so it comes with the experience.

What you need to understand is the entire goal of your profile is to generate a connection. And most potential contacts will simply skim through one. So while most people think, “If no one will read through thoroughly, I won’t spend too much time writing it” – that’s the worst thing you can tell yourself. It’s because people spend so little time reading a Profile that you have to make sure it stands out!

Back to our Summary… You need to think of your Summary as your elevator pitch. The best pitches do two things:

  1. They create curiosity and
  2. They inspire trust

How to use curiosity and trust

Curiosity is a huge motivator. It opens loops in the reader’s mind. If I say something like, “Here’s one thing no one tells you about LinkedIn Profile Summaries!” and you’re even only remotely interested in LinkedIn, there’s a good chance you’ll click through to learn about that one thing. That statement opened a loop, you clicked through to close it. Similarly, a good Summary will do that. It will leave your audience begging for more.

At the same time, an elevator pitch needs to build trust. You’ve gotten the attention of your prospect. Now you just need to make sure the reader can start trusting you or you’ll get more inquiries from irrelevant people than you’d care for. Since I started off by saying, “Here’s one thing no one tells you about LinkedIn Profile Summaries,” I might want to follow up with something like this: “I’ve been working with Sales Professionals for the past 5 years now and they were all impressed by this fact.”

If you aren’t in sales you’ll know that this “one fabulous thing” might not be for you and that’s fine with me. I’ve built trust by being honest and transparent about who I work with…

So there you have it when writing your profile Summary, keep those two points in mind.

  1. Start off your Summary by creating curiosity
  2. End it by building trust?

(Photo credit: Georgie Pauwels)

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Photo credit: David Groh

I was recently chatting with the head of a small B2B company that is experiencing major problems right now. The challenge? They aren’t finding enough new clients to attain their growth targets. On paper however, they have everything to get there: a good product, a product development team, a good service, a nice website, a marketing budget… Yet the clients just aren’t there.

Did you just read that and tell yourself: “Well obviously they have problems, without clients you’ve got nothing.” If so, you’d be right. Without clients, there are no sales, without sales there is no revenue and with no revenue there is no company. Everyone knows that…

Yet, no matter how obvious it is, solutions to remedy the situation are not well understood. Considering how the market is currently being turned on its head, many businesses don’t understand the new ways to generate prospects. Consequently, the results are average at best.

5 telltale signs that you aren’t mastering your lead generation

Here are some flaws or weaknesses you may already have noticed:

  1. An irregular sales pipeline;
  2. Too few prospects;
  3. A lack of prospects that match your ideal client;
  4. Inequalities in the individual performances of your sales team;
  5. A slow or non-existent growth.

If you’ve noticed one or more of these symptoms, continue reading.

2 essential elements of lead generation

Identifying and finding leads

There is a multitude of ways to achieve this.

  • Prospecting;
  • Networking;
  • Systematic request for referrals from clients;
  • Inbound marketing;
  • Blog posts, ebooks and other types of content;
  • Social advertising;
  • Online advertising;
  • Keyword purchase and pay-per-click (type Google Adwords);
  • Social media;
  • Etc.

Unless you’ve upgraded your techniques, the two first elements, prospecting and networking, have lost some of their efficiency in the last while and are increasingly being replaced by inbound marketing and the other options on the list.

That’s because the common element linking items 4 through 9 is the ability to multiply the impact without increasing efforts.

Retaining prospects

This crucial step feeds the sales pipeline and is done through what is commonly called lead nurturing. This is usually done through a series of preprogrammed emails with the goal of pursuing the prospect’s education. You need to help your prospective client’s ‘purchase-decision’ process along up to the point when s/he is ready to speak with a member of the sales team.

What is the secret to lead generation?

Using content to attract and emails to educate is really only a tactic to retain prospects – tactics that work mind you, but still only tactics. Success in generating prospects depends on one and only one element… The secret? It’s attention. Success comes if we know how to attract and retain the attention of our prospects.

Having a hard time finding new clients doesn’t come from the fact that prospecting is difficult or that advertising is pricey or even that writing quality content isn’t straightforward or easy. It all boils down to attention.

According to Wikipedia, “[a]ttention is the behavioral and cognitive process of selectively concentrating on a discrete aspect of information, whether deemed subjective or objective, while ignoring other perceivable information. Attention has also been referred to as the allocation of limited processing resources.”

Given that we’re constantly bombarded by messages, we’ve developed our capability to block most of them out. Put differently “People’s bullshit radars are insane. Marketing is about to get really, really hard,” said Gary Vaynerchuk back in 2010… Think about what that means today… Attention-getting is more expensive and attention spans are shorter than ever.

Maybe a few years ago with a press release and some advertising it was possible to make a splash. Today, well there’s Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, as well as emails (both legit and spam), there are screens wherever we look and messages all over them.

Everyone, including your competition, is looking to grasp your clients’ attention and, without exception companies who have a hard time generating leads are those who have a hard time capturing attention. They’re stuck in their old ways. They’re too promotional. They ask for the sale at the wrong moment. They only talk about themselves

5 ingredients of lead generation success

  1. Learn to draw on your audience’s instincts;
  2. Surprise your audience;
  3. Build trust;
  4. Reward your prospects in order to maintain their attention;
  5. Repeat the message.

If your messages don’t contain those ingredients, they’ll simply be ignored or forgotten and they won’t help you to attract new prospects to feed your sales funnel.

What to remember

Feeding a sales pipeline with qualified prospects is really a question of attracting and retaining attention. In any given market, an organization who does it best will attract the most qualified prospects.

To become a business which retains the attention of its prospects, you need to have a solid understanding of who your clients are: what they do, how they buy, what type of pressure they are under, what objectives they are chasing…

Photo credit: Dustin Groh

(A version of this post was originally published on Prima Ressource’s blog)

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Fabrice Calando | Sales AutomationAre you losing 50% of your potential sales? Let’s face it, Sales isn’t easy – you need a good balance of product/service knowledge and consumer psychology, you need to live by a scientific process and be persistent, thick skinned, patient yet convincing… Those are just the skills, now add the necessary tasks. Depending on your organization – Sales is in charge of finding leads, selling, cross-selling and even customer support and some implementation/execution. It’s easy to see why it’s one of the most important positions.

It’s not surprising then, a lot falls through the cracks at each step of the process – probably more than any Executive would like to know or admit. Are you finding the right amount of leads? Are you giving up on them too early? Are you approaching the closing and cross-sell in an optimal way?

The good news is that newish tools can help augment your sales efforts by automating tasks. By empowering your sales team to focus on their strengths, you get more leads, better quality leads and a more predictable sales funnel.

And your marketing team is the one that can help. The job of a marketer is to communicate the value of a product, service or business to customers and leads for the purpose of promoting or selling. In short, generating revenue for the company.

Converting visitors into customers… a forgotten step

Generally speaking, to generate income, a marketer must:

  1. Attract visitors to its site,
  2. Convert these visitors into leads,
  3. Then convert these leads into customers.

Usually, marketers know the first point well: advertising, social media, content for the blog. If it’s well executed, the right visitors are attracted. Point 2 is also known. Marketers optimize their landing pages to better convert visitors to leads. But what’s next? Are all visitors going to become customers? Are all visitors even ready to become customers? How does an organization even help them become customers?

It is precisely at that point that Sales Augmentation plays an important role.

How does Sales Augmentation help convert visitors into customers?

According to a study by Gleanster, of all company’s website visitors:

  • 30-50% of leads are qualified, but for one reason or another, are not willing to become a customer yet.
  • 25% of leads are simply not qualified.
  • 25% are willing to buy today.

So ignoring Point 3 mentioned above is ignoring 30-50% good leads.

This is where Sales Augmentation is so powerful. It enables a personalized, continuing education of our leads. For example, a Visitor came to our site because of search engine optimization efforts and decides, after reading some our blog posts, to download extra content. This content can be an industry report, a user guide, a price list, etc. Anything that could add value to our Visitor. Given the content’s high value, the Visitor must leave his or her email to access it.

Without augmentation, there are two conclusions: either the relationship ends there or a sales representative tries to contact him or her. Whatever the conclusion, you’re dropping a sale.

As noted earlier, although that particular Lead is qualified, he or she is not ready to become a customer. He or she is not yet looking to buy so asking our sales representative to contact him or her is putting the cart before the horse. That Lead is probably higher up in the funnel and is looking to learn and get educated. Ideally your sales team would take the time it takes to educate and teach. But that process can be long, time-intensive and not always conclusive, which usually runs counter to the quarterly targets your team is trying to achieve.

Through a well-implemented Sales augmentation processes, we can instead share more information directly related to the subject of the downloaded content. Often this sharing is done through a system of pre-programmed emails. If, during this process, the Lead downloads a second and even a third, a fourth piece of content (or more!), we can conclude that he or she is now more advanced in the purchasing decision process and perhaps more apt to buy.

LEARN ABOUT THE MAIN SALES AND MARKETING AUTOMATION TOOLS [Free Resource Guide] >>

The other advantage, often less articulated, is to disqualify uninteresting Leads. While it’s impressive to have a lot of traffic to our site, it’s really those in our target who are of interest. Sales augmentation allows us to filter the good from the less qualified leads and, therefore, put more effort on the latter…

Educate and build relationships

Sales automation is primarily a way to educate and identify our good Leads to encourage a sale. Whether we work in B2B, B2C, have a sales force or if all our activities happen online, it integrates with our other marketing efforts such as Inbound Marketing, SEO, advertising, etc. It allows us to get more customers without exponential effort.

[Free Guide] DISCOVER THE MAIN SALES AND MARKETING AUTOMATION TOOLS >>

(Photo credit: Chester Alvarez)

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There’s an opportunity for young marketers. Something that wasn’t available just a decade ago: The whole world of marketing is available to them. From blogs to podcasts and books to online classes. It’s all there. The opportunity to learn from the best and brightest.

That’s never been the case – knowledge was controlled by your university or college and then by the company you worked at. Quality or not you did the best you could with what you had.

Sure too much information can be an escape. A way to over consume and under deliver.

So how do we learn without escaping? The one skill that’s required is curiosity. The appetite to learn what needs to be learned at the moment you need it. The drive to dive deep and learn from experts to deliver your own results.

Go. Be curious.

(Photo credit: Reclusive Monkey)

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