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Trust – Fancy Website or Human Voice

11 Oct

A great comment from Barry Moltz:

“Many years ago small businesses wanted to appear large so customers would trust them. They produced fancy stationery and secured a respectable business address. This has all changed with the Internet, where customers value the human voice. Now every business wants to appear small and provide personal service to its customers.”

And I agree.  I was quite happy to stop the renewal order of new stationery and envelopes and instead spent it on a better website.  But still recognized that a website wasn’t enough, that customers expected a contact link that included phone and address.  It was acceptable that the address wasn’t local as long as there was a viable address.  More importantly was ensuring the phone was answered by a person instead of an automated system.  At my small companies, everyone was the receptionist because the call rang to everyone if the frontline people were otherwise engaged.

The next level of trust that customers are looking for includes customer ratings.  Think what eBay, Amazon and others started to ensure customer feedback is reflected back to prospects.  Having peer ratings for Inquisix referrals was a key point to the system.

To build trust in today’s market, make it easy for the customer to research and buy your offerings.  No more paper or offices but a well-designed website, a human answering the phone and trust ratings from customers are the new trust factors.

2011 New Year’s Resolution That I Kept

3 Jan

One of my 2011 new year’s resolutions was to find more time to read magazines that are either not focused just on my industry or not for pure entertainment. And it’s the one resolution I happily completed. The magazines I choose include The Economist, Fast Company and Wired. Each of them have been very enjoyable and enlightening to read and so I’ve renewed their subscriptions for 2012.

My measure of a good magazine was how many times I ripped out an article from the magazine to re-read or do more thinking on. Each of these magazines made that measure.

I picked The Economist for several reasons. Its reporting on world events is not from a pure US-based point of view, the articles tend to more in-depth and thought provoking than a Newsweek (for example), and they cover more of the non-English-speaking parts of the world.

I picked Fast Company because much of what they cover is what’s new – new companies, new technologies, new business leaders, new ideas. A breezier read than the Economist and only published once a month but I found myself also looking forward to their blog postings.

Lastly, I picked up Wired magazine. I had read it in the early 2000’s but it was so Internet-focused that I lost interest. However, recent issues have been much more interesting and I’ve found Wired to be similar to Fast Company in covering what’s new and yet there’s been very little overlap in their stories.

If you’re reading this blog soon after I posted it, you can take advantage of a Groupon for The Economist at $1/issue.

The two most interesting trends I have been eagerly reading about are social media and 3D printing. I’m quite tired hearing about what celebrity or athlete is tweeting or how many followers Ashton Kutcher and Oprah have. Nor do I care that much how companies are marketing their offerings to consumers. However, I’m fascinated by how social media has created social unrest to successfully challenge the governments of Egypt, Libya and lately, Russia.

3D printing may not be as mainstream as social media but for someone who worked for a 3D solid modeling software company, I’m quite interested in how people’s ideas can be modeled in software and then printed in 3D as easily as printing a letter is. The sophistication of the new 3D printers brings the ability for small businesses to design and manufacturer their own products in small batches and with high-quality. Imagine bringing manufacturing back to America not because of low-cost workers but because of the ability to easily manufacturer unique and high quality products in your own office.

What magazines are you enjoying reading?
What trends in 2012 will you be following?

Happy 2012!

Your Prospect Tells You How to Sell to Them

30 Nov

Not often that your C-level prospect will tell you how to sell to them.  They’ll hide behind email spam filters and executive assistants but won’t take the time to tell you what you’re doing wrong.  Until this CEO opened up with their automated email reply telling you to do more than just call the vendor hotline at purchasing – a voice mail no one ever picks up.

Top ways to get noticed:

  • Let your prospect find you – ie Inbound Marketing
  • Get introduced by someone they trust – ie Referrals

Top ways to annoy:

  • Constant cold-calls
  • Mass emails to entire executive team
  • Trying to connect via social media

Thanks to Hubspot for the full article.

That "SEND" button causes mischief and unintended response

5 Oct

Ever hit the “send” button on your email too quickly and then wished you could pull it back?  And if you try Outlook’s “Recall Message…” all it really does is highlight to the recipient that you made a mistake.

Here’s a perfect example of not proofing before you email.  And this was a cold call email blast to me from someone I don’t know.  Think I’ll be responding to this email with anything but “unsubscribe?”

ContactFirstName

You lost me at "Hello"

17 Dec

Stephanie Fox Muller, one of our advisory members, sent me this email along with her comments below.

Why would anyone take a salesperson seriously when their first communication – first! – offers a freebie of four hours of work? Let’s see, I don’t yet know what you do. That means I have to take my time to go to your website and figure it out. Then decide if I want four hours free.

If your fear of the economy is showing, maybe you need to take a step or two or nine back. If your product or service had value before the economy tanked, it still does. If you don’t believe that, you can bet that your prospects won’t. Good sales and marketing people know how to position their offering to meet the current needs of their audience. If you can’t figure out how to sell whatever the heck you offer in light of the current economic conditions, the last thing you want to do is give it away. If it ain’t worth anything to you, it’s worth less to me. And I don’t buy the little disclaimer at the end – if you try us out now, you may buy us later. If I don’t need you now, I won’t remember you later.

Instead of doing the email equivalent of cold-calling with a drop-your-shorts offer, how about asking clients who DO see your value and ask them for referrals?

We are not moving forward with your company

19 Jun

The blog postings about “Morale Killer or Career Limiting Move” have been some of the favorite postings in our blog based on the number of comments. The email below was sent in by one of the Inquisix readers who wanted to share a “thanks-for-nothing” moment by their boss. The subject line of the email (and the title of this post) must have been a kick in the gut to the sales rep receiving this email. Names have been deleted to protect both the innocent and the guilty. And like the first posting of the “Morale Killer or Career Limiting Move” some key information that I wondered about is missing. I’ll share that information as I get it.

But until then, what are your thoughts?

* Surprised the prospect was nice enough to actually follow-up and say, “No thanks”?
* As the sales rep, how would you use this email internally?
* Any ideas on how to get back to this prospect and get another chance?

From: Divisional Manager at Potential Prospect [and decision maker]
To: Sales Rep
Cc: Prospect’s peer
Subject: We are not moving forward with your company

Hi [Sales Rep]. I hope that this email finds you well. I wanted to get back to you and let you know that we will not be going forward with your company. While I truly enjoyed talking with you, I wasn’t overly impressed with the sales approach of [your sales manager]. When a company is selling a service I would expect that the sales approach would be directed to the individual in charge of managing that service. The majority of the conversation was directed to [prospect’s peer] who is not the decision maker. I have to say that a couple of times I thought I would get up and leave, however, I chose to stay because I did not want to appear unprofessional. I feel compelled to make a personal recommendation to your sales manager] to make sure that sales conversations be directed to the individual responsible for making the decision as to whether or not to purchase the product.

Have a nice summer – take care,
[Divisional Manager]

Morale Killer or Career Limiting Move? Part Three

10 Jun

My source for these interesting emails sent me the VP’s next email about the sales meeting, an email that was sent to all sales and senior management.

The VP lists the reasons why the sales meeting is being held on the weekend. I’ve added commentary on what the sales team could be thinking as they read this email. Which response, A or B, would be yours?

Dear Team,

I have discussed the meeting dates with executive management and we have decided to firm up July 11th and 12th for our quarterly sales meeting…”

Response choices:
A – Good, the VP checked with senior management and they all agree
B – The VP must have forgot to check with the far-flung sales team

* Senior management team routinely travel 50% of their time, including weekends and holidays to support sales efforts.

Response choices:
A – They’re doing all that travel and only asking us for one weekend? That’s reasonable, then.
B – That’s why senior management makes more money then us and has 10 times the number of options

* Large public technology firms routinely plan off-site sales meetings on the weekends

Response choices:
A – We want to go public and cash in our options so we’re all for emulating those firms
B – Yeah, and they plan the off-sites in locations like Las Vegas, Atlantic City or New Orleans instead of corporate’s class B office space

* Large public technology firms require their employees to share hotel rooms

Response choices:
A – Cost savings are important so we show a bigger profit (or smaller loss)
B – Those employees share a room at the Vegas Hilton with their buddy or friend-with-benefit, which is not the same as sharing a Motel 6 room in Albany.

The VP summarizes the reasons for keeping the meeting on a weekend, “[Our company] has done more for its sales people while requiring a lot less than what other firms expect from their field sales force.”

Response choices:
A – You sold me, I’m glad I work with such a great management team
B – Ah, the beating continues. Can I find a new job in a month?

So what do you think now? Did you choose more A responses than B responses?