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Other blog posts I found interesting and starred this week

1 Jul

In addition to the blogs listed to the right under the Inquisix blog roll, there are many other really interesting blogs that I read on a regular basis. Posts at these blogs that I recently found interesting enough to star and comment on are below:

  • 10 Tough Questions To Ask Prospects – Sometimes it’s the commenters that really make me think about what’s being written here. This is one of those posts because the first commenter disagrees with these 10 questions. He claims to be a buyer so the credibility should be there.
  • 10 Ways to Get More Clicks in Your Email Campaigns – Our VP Marketing, Betsy, has been sending out regular InquisixCONNECT newsletters to all our members. I’ve found this post to be a great checklist for me to quickly review her newsletter to ensure we’re getting the attention we want. I especially like these tips:
    #2 Link Headlines
    #3 Link Images
    #5 Tease them
    #10 Personalize
  • How to Gently Remind a Customer… – It’s end of quarter and you (or your salespeople) have a few deals left in the forecast. Are they going to happen or not? It’s the time for wondering how many times you can call the customer in a week just to get their update. You’ve already asked for the order. A “Yes” is a great response. “No” is not great if it’s because your competitor is winning but bearable if it’s just pushed out a few weeks. But it’s the no response at all that drive salespeople (and their managers) CRAZY. The stress of not knowing is almost worse than knowing it’s a “No”Geoffrey James has a few ideas on how to get the customer to respond. Better yet, the first commenter shared an email that made him respond to the salesrep asking him for the update.

Selling Better On The Road

16 Jun

Like many other road warriors, I’m often using my cell phone when driving in the car. Especially when it’s a long ride on the highway. Or a long wait at the airport. I definitely prefer a handsfree headset, not because it’s the law in many states, but because I am more comfortable when I don’t have to hold the phone up to my ear. More comfortable means better communicating.

I recently found a great Bluetooth wireless headset. I don’t choose my headset as a fashion accessory. I always chuckle when I see people having a face-to-face conversation but leave their Bluetooth headset in their ear. Did they forget to take it out? Do they really think it’s a geek fashion accessory? Well, the headset I chose is not a fashion accessory. Form over function.

I wanted the following features:

  • Bluetooth to work with my cell phone and PC (for Skype)
  • Long battery life
  • Great noise cancellation so that the person I’m speaking to doesn’t think I’m driving in the car
  • Comfortable

I could only find 1 manufacturer that made a Bluetooth headset with a boom microphone. Turns out the VXI BlueParrott B250-XT is made for truckers to talk over the sounds of their big rigs.   Well, it’s GREAT for my uses, too. Even comes with power chargers for work and car. And I had one problem (caused by not reading directions) that the toll-free tech support remedied in no time at all.

BlueParrot

So if you are looking to actually USE a headset when talking to customers and prospects from the car, then buy this headset.

You can find details about the headset on VXI’s website.

I bought the headset online at less-than-suggested-retail-price from GeekBro and their price, service and delivery were excellent. (Maybe this headset is a geek fashion accessory after all!)

Meet Master Networker Rick Roberge, Inquisix Member

10 Jun

rickrobergeweb21

This is the second in our series of meeting our Inquisix community members.  Thank you to Rick Roberge, master networker and sales coach with David Kurlan & Associates — and an Inquisix member since December 2007. Rick spent some time to answer a few of our questions about trends in business and networking and we’re much obliged.

General Inquisix

What is your business?

We, at Kurlan & Associates, are sales development experts. We evaluate salespeople, management, systems, policies and procedures to determine WHY sales aren’t what they should be. Once we determine the WHY, we can train or coach salespeople or managers, develop a more effective sales process, recruit stronger people or a dozen other solutions with laser focus and a predictable ROI.

Why do you network?

The average person doesn’t take calls from strangers. I’ve found that a minute or two, face to face conversation that’s all about them will increase the odds that they’ll take my call and be open to having a more substantive conversation at that time. Problem is, face to face networking can be time consuming.

What types of networking were you doing previously?

Face to face at Chamber of Commerce mixers, Business expos and home shows. Visiting BNI and other networking groups. Inviting my clients to private (my client only) business card swaps. Volunteer groups. Service organizations. Weddings, funerals, graduation parties. If I’m with people, I’m ON!

What was missing from your previous networking endeavor(s)?

Face to face networking can be time consuming and you have to get dressed.

What made you join Inquisix?  

I liked the idea. Like-minded, centers-of-influence, trusted advisor-types that can ask each other for introductions with the expectation that they’re talking to a similar type professional.

What do you like best about Inquisix?

In my opinion, LinkedIn has been ruined by the “LION” attitude (note: LION refers to LinkedIn Open Networker, which means you’ll accept an invite from anyone in LinkedIn.) I know every connection well enough to know whether I should introduce and how to introduce and give the person that I’m introducing a clue as to how to tailor their approach. I’ve refused many LinkedIn invitations from chance encounters if we haven’t interacted enough (or we’ve interacted enough to know that I shouldn’t). I also like the fact that I can say, “Yes” or “No”. I’ll usually have a conversation with the member asking for the introduction to determine fit.

Promise fulfilled? Have you received a referral introduction? Was it successful?

Yes! Success is defined as, “The person took my call and appreciated the fact that their friend introduced us.” It does not mean that I sold anything because I may not think it’s a fit.

Do you give referrals? Why?  

Yes. Lots. But not every time I’m asked. However, I sometimes give them without being asked.

What are the misconceptions about online networking? How does Inquisix address these or do them differently?

Quantity doesn’t matter. Quality matters. Inquisix insures quality by introducing the concept of “Reputation Points.” If you don’t or can’t make a strong introduction, everyone will know. So, it’s important to upload the people that trust you most and will follow your lead.

How do you see the future of networking?

I see networking as being the future. There’s a lot of buzz about in-bound marketing and lead generation, but NOTHING (unless you’re ‘click to buy’) happens until you have a conversation with a prospect who’s listening and open to your thoughts.

If you could get across one thing about Inquisix to a perspective member what would it be?

I’d rather have you upload 10 people that smile and feel good when I mention your name than 1000 people that will ask, “Who?” when I mention your name.

Thanks for speaking with us Rick.

Happy Ears Are Bad For Forecasting

15 May

Alyssa Dver is author of, “No Time Marketing” and was recently on Barry Moltz’s Business Insanity Radio show again. She had a great quote that was both funny and deadly accurate.

She said that “Happy Ears” is her term for confusing prospect enthusiasm with purchase authority.

What a great quote! It should be one of your top concerns when submitting your forecast to management. And management should be filtering forecasts with same consideration.

What about your forecast, does it have too many opportunities in it based on Happy Ears?

Improve Your Message Before You Call

7 May

Since I have that fancy letter “C” as the first letter in my title as Chief Sales Officer, I get quite a number of cold calls.  Of course it just makes me cringe to be called by someone who hasn’t even spent a minute looking at our business and developing a message about their solution that I’d care about.  But I do enjoy critiquing in my mind their pitch.

Some would like to rename cold calling.  I recently heard it called “introductory calling” in an interview done on Barry Moltz’s talk radio show.  I don’t know, seems analogous to putting lipstick on a pig.

lipstickpig

Instead of just renaming the term, Nigel Edelshain of Sales 2.0 has written a 24-page ebook on turning cold calls into social calls.  He reviews the new Sales 2.0 techniques and tools to “…help you with the three most critical factors: talking to the right people, establishing relationships and using changes in your buyer’s environment.”

You can download Nigel’s book for free here.  Adding his blog to your RSS reader is also well worth it.

Innovative View To Inside Sales Metrics

27 Apr

I worked with Trish Bertuzzi of The Bridge Group on a few inside sales consulting engagements when I ran PeakSales Consulting in the late ’90’s.

Her company specializes in improving the Insides Sales department, especially when the group is involved in the full sales cycle till close. So they’re well qualified to publish reports on Inside Sales Best Practices. Trish’s latest offering is the “Periodic Table of Insides Sales Metrics” which I think is a really neat way to summarize the important data relevant for building a top-tier Inside Sales Group. Best of all, the table is free to download from The Bridge Group website.

trishtable

If you’re local to Boston and would like to hear Trish speak, why not print out the table and get her to autograph it at the Sales 2.0 Conference on May 21, 2009? I’m first in line!

Personal Sales Videos – their time is here

9 Mar

Most everyone has an online avatar. Whether it’s your Facebook picture shown to your friends or your LinkedIn picture with your resume, everyone’s putting their mug shot online. With the introduction of YouTube, easy-to-use video editing software like iMovie and inexpensive video cameras like The Flip, it seems like everyone is taking the next step from pictures on the web to videos on the web.

And web videos are a natural extension of your sales and marketing efforts. It’s a great way to quickly and accurately get your compelling message across to a large number of customers and prospects. We’ve been exploring adding video to the Inquisix site not only to educate members but allow members to tell their own story to fellow members.

Since we don’t want our videos to win awards on “America’s Funniest Home Videos”, I sat down with Inquisix member Catie Foertsch of OurTownProductions to learn more. She talked about her 6 tips to making a better video. I’ll summarize them here but you should go to her website for the complete details.

Catie’s 6 tips to a better video

  • Start with a script
  • Be Yourself
  • Use a quality microphone
  • Use lots of good lighting
  • Frame your face well
  • End video with a call to action

Top Inquisix Posts of 2008

25 Dec

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all. As the end of 2008 rapidly approaches, the Inquisix team hopes you are all enjoying the holidays with your family and friends. If you’re thinking of prepping early for 2009, here’s some of our most popular articles from 2008.

Why Cold Calling Doesn’t Work:

Cold Calling From the Buyer’s perspective:

Generating Referrals:

Pay or Play for Referrals/Reputation:

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?

Get in the Door – Be Assumptive not Consultative

16 Oct

I attended the “Winning Big Company Clients” event in NYC earlier this week.  The event was hosted by Nigel Edelshain, CEO of Sales 2.0 with a panel discussion led by Jill Konrath, author of “Selling to Big Companies” and Razi Imam, CEO of Landslide Technologies.

Jill’s discussion was very interesting.  While she admitted that much of what she wanted to talk about was in her book, it was beneficial to get the synopsis.

Her main point is that the corporate decision makers use the delete key first.  When listening to your voice mail, their finger is on the *3 or whatever key combination they use to delete your voice mail and email.  Their preference is to delete, not listen.  So if you are not relevant, your message is deleted immediately.

That means that you don’t have 30 or even 10 seconds to get your point across.  You have 5 seconds to be relevant.  Her studies have shown that corporate decision makers also believe that it’s your responsibility as the sales rep to call them back.  Jill says that you’re their conscience.

Being relevant means you can’t be consultative.  No more, “Hi, this is Jill and I’d like to understand more about your business issues so that we can find a solution for you.”  Corporate decision makers don’t have the time or desire to educate you.  Jill says that you must be assumptive in your belief that they have a pressing problem and that you can solve it.

Jill says that the corporate decision makers will review 3 things in their head as their finger is poised over the delete key.

  • Are you relevant?
  • Is this an urgent problem?
  • Are you credible, ie are you the one to solve this problem?

I found what she said very timely and very interesting.  Thanks, Jill for your insight.  And thanks to Nigel for hosting!