Monday, February 7, 2011

A simple '3 step' primer before your sales calls

I am sure all of us are involved in making sales calls several times your careers (whoever said that sales calls are made only by sales people). Here are some tips to make your sales calls more relevent and increase its chances of success

1) Have a strong reference to get into the call
Using names of people that the contact knows always helps. An earlier meeting, if that has happened will also help. Get as personal as possible to make sure that you can reach out to your target prospect and he is in receiving mode to hear what you want to communicate

2) Have a value-prop that is personalized to the contact. 
Important that is personalized, not just for the company that you are calling, but for the contact that you are currently calling. Pre call research about the contact and the company can help a lot in preparing for this step. Social media only eases matters

3) Define a next step that you would like to achieve
You never achieve sales closures in one sales call,so define what you would like as the next step. The next step could be to have him accept you sending some info to him/her. Be clear that you are trying to achieve this objective and not aiming for a super-human effort. 

Any other ideas, please contribute

Thanks & Best Regards,
Atul Dhakappa

Monday, November 1, 2010

Running out of content for your marketing needs, 4 tips to Re-Purpose your Content

To meet your marketing objectives, you need new marketing content all the time. How can you use existing content and re-purpose it in a different form and yet ensure that you are offering something fresh and relevant to your target market

In the marketing world today, Content is king and is also considered by many as currency. Generating fresh, relevant content to feed into your different marketing artifacts is usually a challenge. It involves significant, consistent effort and is expensive. How do you then keep generating this content to feed into your marketing plans?
The answer to the above challenge lies in re-purposing content effectively to meet your organization’s requirements. How do you go about doing this? Here are a few tips. 

1.      Converting Webinars to Whitepapers
Webinars are very popular means to engage with your potential prospects and existing customers. Creating the content for an engaging webinar takes a lot of time & effort. All the knowledge and information gathered during the creation of a webinar can be effectively re-purposed and abstracted as a white paper.  White papers are useful for targeting larger segment of audiences.

2.      Converting Whitepapers to blogs/articles
White papers discuss a variety of topics with a neutral stand-point. Sections of these topics can be used to create articles/blogs. Usually it is possible to generate at least two articles from one white paper that you generate.

3.      Converting PowerPoint presentations to fresh Blogs/Articles
Your business starts with creation of PowerPoint presentations detailing your product/services offerings. A lot of effort has been already put to make the presentations at their best. Why not leverage the effort put into a PowerPoint presentation to create a blog/article.  

4.      Re-Purposing Press-Releases for highlighting relevant content
Use a series of press releases ahead of an important event to ensure higher attention from your target customers. Every release may have a different story line, but you can link the stories together to drive your objectives

Golden Tip
Listen to blog comments or lack thereof, study web analytics, monitor social media responses to get an idea of how audiences are responding to your content propagation. Try and anticipate what the audience wants and do your best to give it to them. If responses remain poor, then you need to do self-introspection and use alternative means to interact with your target audiences

Feedback welcome

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The definitive science of creating "EFFECTIVE Marketing Content"

For your business to be successful, you need to manage the relationships that you have with your prospects, customers and stakeholders. While managing these relationships at different levels right from a suspect stage till the contract closure stage, you will need different forms of ‘effective marketing content’.  What is this ‘Effective’ marketing content then?

Content comes in different forms and takes the shape of different marketing artifacts (e.g. Flyers, Brochures, Articles, White papers, Blogs, Website content, email newsletters, Press releases, Case studies, Customer testimonials) at different points in time. For it to be effective, it should meet the objectives and the purpose at different levels in the buying cycle.
Here are some characteristics of great & effective marketing content
1)  Compelling & Engaging
With the initial few paras/words/subject headers/abstract, it should feel compelling to go through the details included. It should engage the attention of the reader and arouse enough curiosity.
2)  Relevant & Fulfilling
Having generated the curiosity, the promised value should be delivered (fulfilled) by the content. This avoids the negative effect of disappointing the reader and also increases the chance of the content being further distributed / recommended amongst peer communities.
3)  Convenient and user friendly
Content should be simple, convenient and in an appropriate format. Content should be designed, specifically for print or for electronic views.  

How do you go about generating such kind of content then?
It takes a lot of efforts and planning, but here are some things you can do: 
1)    Research
a.  Research your target audience, who is going to consume the content
b.  Understand the objectives, that you need to achieve with the content
c.  Research your competitors to understand what they are talking about
d.  Research your target industry to look for any signs of any trends/implications developing and how these are going to be affecting your target audience.
2)   Generate content repositories and filter
a.  Gather all reference content that you feel can be re-used in some way to meet the above objectives.
b.  Do Intelligent Tagging and maintain your content repository well, so that you can get to the content that you want, when you need to.
3)   Write, Refine, Package & Publish
a.  Define your content headers and start populating content. If you keep looking at your repos, you may never be able to start. Focus on your objectives
b.  Refine content in line with the objectives
c.  Package, as appropriate for the format in which it is going to be used. Use Design effectively
d.  Publish content

Let me know your thoughts !

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Leveraging the 'power of four' to ensure responses to your email campaigns !

There are so many emails hitting your target customer's email box on a daily basis. Add to this the fact that most of the emails would be read/filtered using Blackberries. How do you make sure that your email gets read in this crowded INBOX. 

Here are four  things that you need to pay special attention to 
1) Subject lines - cannot be sales offers, cannot sound like promotions. Keep your subject line short, but compulsive for the person to read. An effective way may be to use references of other persons that the recipent works with or is friends with. An example could be "Re : Conversation with Bob", where Bob might be his boss at work. There are many ways to find out co-workers, thanks to social networking

2) Reference - If your subject lines are strong and thoughtful, you have successfully navigated the first step and your email has been opened. you have to incentivize the person to read through and that is your next challenge.  Build on what you used while framing the subject,build a strong reference case. Of course you cannot fake it, and you have to be genuine. An example could be " I spoke with Bob Fisher's office and was told that you would be the person responsible to discuss about improving profitability options for your company"

3) Content - Make it personal - If your target customer has gone through the first two parts, most likely he would read through the rest of the content as well. Make sure that it is short and never more than 1 or 2 paras at the most. Don't beat around the bush, make the offer relevant for the person that you are trying to reach. Answer the"Whats in it for me" syndrome. Also try and make it as personal as possible. Use customer name as often as possible in your content. 

4) Precise Next Action - Once you have gone this far, define very clearly what you want the next action to be. Offer times for a follow-up discussion rather than keeping it open to next week/next month. There should be enough in your content to fetch you a response. Just as the role of a CV is to get you a job interview, the role of effective content in point 3 above is to get you to the defined next action. 

Let me know your thoughts/feedback. 
Happy selling


Monday, August 16, 2010

Some simple mechanisms to 'retain' your customers

   Every company spends a lot of money to acquire new customers, so investing a bit more to keep them is well worth the price. It's widely acknowledged that the cost of acquiring a new customer can be upwards of five times greater than the cost of retaining an existing one. That means marketing tactics aimed at customer retention should be a priority.

One smart, effective, and efficient customer retention tactic is an integrated e-mail communications program. There are many opportunities to communicate with customers via e-mail, and e-mail fits well into the communications methods engineers and other technical professionals prefer.

To make e-mail work as a customer retention tool, you need to :
1) Get out of the promotional mindset and get into your customer's mindset. Whether they are a loyal, long-term customer or have just purchased from you for the first time, your customers want to hear from you when you have something to say that's relevant to them. They don't want to be sold to again and again. They want useful information to help them do their jobs better. This will keep your company "top of mind" with them.
2) Coordinate efforts among different departments who will use e-mail to communicate with customers. This is where the integrated part comes in. Anyone who might be sending a customer an e-mail — customer service, marketing, accounts receivable, sales — must be on the same page. Their communication efforts should be coordinated and spaced apart so that the e-mails customers receive from you are relevant and timely. There's nothing like a barrage of similar or contradictory e-mails to turn an e-mail retention program into a mess of communications that backfires and turns your customers away.
3)The key to using e-mail for customer retention is to think in terms of having conversations with your customers. Stay away from the hard selling and limited-time offers and try cultivating your relationship by providing relevant information.

Here are some examples of relevant information:
  • A simple thank you e-mail for purchasing a product with links to support information or other products that are related to the one they purchased
  • An e-mail with phone numbers, e-mail addresses, or links for support
  • E-mails containing technical articles or links to articles about their industry or job functions
  • E-mails announcing new versions of products they own
  • E-mails containing customer satisfaction surveys
  • An e-mail from the salesperson just "checking in" to see if the customer has any questions or needs additional help
While none of these examples are promotional in nature, several of them still perform important cross-selling and up-selling functions. E-mails on new product announcements or related products can lead to additional sales for your company. 

Happy emailing !
Thoughts & feedback welcome


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

6 point 'start-up checklist' before you launch into Lead Generation Programs

     A lot of my customers ask me, “What would you need from our side before you launch a lead generation program for us”. I thought this info would be useful to a larger audience, so decided to post it as a blog. Well here it is :

1) Company Brand and Messaging
  a) Be clear about what the ‘high level messaging’ of the company is going to be. Have   your boiler plates/company overview slides ready in word/powerpoint
  b) Be ready with ‘elevator pitches’ and customize them, based on the audience that you are trying to reach
  c) Have ‘calling scripts’ done and rehearsed. If you are engaging in telemarketing, you are going to get no longer than 10 secs to make a first impression. As you progress, you may or may not refer to these, but it is useful to internalize them amongst your teams.
2) Company Offerings in terms of products/services offered
   a) Have offering documents ready for what you offer in terms of products/services. These could be in the form of PDF brochures/Powerpoint presentations
   b) Make sure to incorporate “How do you do it” sections, which will give confidence to your prospective customers that you are all ready to work for their requirement.
   c) Be ready with your ‘engagement models’ and ‘commercial models’. You may not  expose them during the first interactions, but will need them pretty soon. If you do not have them ready, this will waste precious time of a warm prospect.
3) Set achievable targets from the program
   a) So that you can measure progress, analyse results.
   b) Monitor initial results and initial discussions to validate your hypothesis about the target market.
4) Have a clear plan for lead nurturing
   a) A lot of leads will move into lead nurturing programs that you will need to run for extended periods of time. Have a plan ready to continuously engage with these potential prospects that are not yet ready to do business with you.
5) Create a target prospect list and engage in primary/secondary research
   a) Cold ‘Cold calling’ will hardly achieve any results. You need to be relevant for the person/company that you are calling. Find out ‘why’ and’ how’ your products / services can be relevant for them
   b) Focus on business value to the prospective customer, not just on parameters like cost & quality.
6) Have patience – loads of it

All the very best for your programs
Any more thoughts – feedback welcome


Monday, August 9, 2010

6 "Marketing must-haves" for your website

Organizations increasingly depend on their website as the single largest 'marketing infrastructure' tools. Here are some "must haves" for your website

1) Performance - you might design great sites, but you need to make sure that the site load time is reasonable and is not an irritant. Also you must check compatibility with common browsers. A good usability study is always an added advantage. 
2) Ease of navigation - For a visitor who comes to the site for the first time, it should be easy to get to what he is looking for. Content should be optimized for minimum scrolls and should be a mix of text and intuitive graphics. Also it should be easy for the user to download or click to get more info
3) SEO readiness - With SEO so relevant, you should make sure that you have your meta descriptions, page titles, image titles and key words well defined. 
4) Fresh content - There is nothing better than having fresh content on the site . This could be in the form of blogs, white papers, articles, PR as well as videos. 
5) Means to engage visitors - You have spend so much effort to lure visitors in. you should make sure that they stay on the site longer. There should be means to engage visitors through some innovative applications of gaming, surveys and free resources. 
6) A clear call to action (C2A) - Every page should have a clear C2A. It could be either download, subscribe, contact us etc. If they want to reach you, lets make it easier for them. 

Any thoughts/ideas. 
Suggestions welcome