Archive for the 'Marketing, Sales & Business' Category

Introductions v Cold Emails

I just read an article on Mashable making “the case against business introductions” that mainly refers to Iris Shoor’s post where she discusses how she made appointments and sales at Twitter, LinkedIn and Github using a direct approach. She talks about how the direct approach led to better sales results than introductions.

I can see how this works if you know who you are targeting but introductions have provided Terem with new clients that could not have been gained through direct contact because we didn’t know they existed or had a need for what we do.

As a side note, her results fly in the face of those saying “cold calling doesn’t work”.

Wheels falling off

One of the things I enjoy most about being in business is its ever changing nature. I’ve noticed a particular pattern that I liken to powering down a mountain at 1,000 miles per hour only to hit a bump and suddenly have your wheels start to fall of. You madly scramble to re-attach the wheels properly whilst still powering down the hill. Once you pull through you’re back powering down the mountain, feeling like an unstoppable F1 driver.

Like I said, I love this feeling. Especially that moment when you pull the wheels back on.

The bumps might come about because you’re growing – you’ve got to pull the team together for some extra effort until your new hire comes on – or they might come about because something didn’t go as planned.

Earlier in the business I’d get quite worried when we hit the bump. Overtime I’m getting better at seeing the bumps before they occur and having the confidence that we’ll pull the wheels back on.

Fun times.

Self evaluation using the Characteristics of Admired Leaders

Knowing that I’m always keen to devour anything related to personal development or business my wonderful wife Susie bought me “The Leadership Challenge” for Christmas.

Early on in the book Kouzes and Posner put forward the characteristics of admired leaders based on studies they’ve conducted asking leaders’ constituents to describe what they look for in a leader they would be most willing to follow. Over numerous studies four characteristics continue to stand out:

  1. Honesty
  2. Forward-thinking
  3. Competent
  4. Inspiring

I think that this list is a great tool for self evaluation purposes. If you are reflecting on something that occurred and wondering whether you lead the situation well then you can quickly evaluate yourself against these four characteristics.

I caution against using it  as a list of “things that I must do to be a good leader” because it lists the symptoms or effects of  the character, passion, commitment, beliefs and understanding operating on a deeper level. For example, a reader could take this as “well if I just act forward-thinking then I can lead people.” I personally believe that you must be forward thinking and being forward thinking comes from a deep interest in and understanding of the area you are leading people through. Similarly, a reader of the book might be tempted to think “well if I just act inspiringly then people will follow me.” But you can’t inspire others if you aren’t inspired yourself; when you are inspired yourself, that will just rub off on others. If you are looking to exhibit the characteristics that people look for in a leader then you need to look under the covers.

Entrepreneurial Sales versus Sales Sales

At lunch this week I was chatting to Natasha from Streethawk about sales. The conversation bought out an interesting concept: Entrepreneurial Sales versus Sales Sales. Let me explain the difference.

Sales Sales

This is your standard kind of selling. You have a proven product, it has been sold in the past and you know it can be sold again. You know how to qualify people out of the pipeline, you know what the objections are, you know how to overcome them and you know what the key benefits are.

You can pick up a book like my favourite How to Master the Art of Selling by Tom Hopkins, something from Zig Ziglar or attend any of the many sales training conferences and events.

Entrepreneurial Sales

This is a different kind of sales. You have an unproven or partially proven product. The difficulty here is you don’t know who to qualify out, you don’t know what the objections are, and when you find them you don’t know if they can actually be overcome or if you just aren’t capable of it.

It is almost a form of research that, at the same time, you are trying to get a result from (cash in the bank).

I wonder whether there really is a difference. Whether it is more about sniffing out a market that can be sold into (playing the role of Entrepreneur) and then when you find one that you know can be sold into you put on your Sales hat and start prospecting like mad.

It occurs to me that the ability to sniff out of a market might be something that can only come through putting your Sales hat on and trying to sell into a few markets that don’t exist (but that you thought did).

Dreamforce

I found this quite refreshing on TechCrunch:

Benchmark partner Bill Gurley wrote an interesting note about the acquisition today, revealing that the firm didn’t even announce Benchmark’s funding of the company, which he says is unprecedented.The Demandforce team always felt that the attention should be focused on the customer rather than the company., he writes.

Demandforce focuses on local professional businesses and has chosen to keep an intentionally low profile – a strategy that has served them well, Gurley explains.

Keeping a low profile (in the business media – not your customers media) is an approach that I like. There is just something about it that appeals to me, it feels like Demandforce is all about substance rather than hype, titles or celebrity. However, in practice I see great value in people knowing who you are – that is keeping a high profile (the more people that know who you are, the greater your exposure to new opportunities).

Social and online media important for small business

You can’t avoid social and online media for a small business these days. The LA Times has an article on how social media, in particular, Facebook, has helped a small business:

“Each day on the website, Sprinkles announces a secret word, such as “ganache,” or “bunny,” or “tropical,” or “love,” and the first 25 or 50 people to show up at any of its five stores and whisper that word get a free cupcake.”

An article in the New York Times talks about online reputation for small businesses.

“Local review sites are reshaping the world of small business by becoming the new Yellow Pages, one-stop platforms where customers can find a business — and also see independent critiques of its performance.”

So, I wanted to share some of the links I’d come across that help small business with online and social media:

It’s also worth checking out Gavin’s Servant of Chaos blog.

7 Things I Learnt In Getting To The First Invoice For infome

infome sent out its first invoice the other day. In getting to this point through pickmylunch.com.au I’ve learnt a few things, I thought I’d share them:

  • Do something useful. It seems obvious, but it is so easy to get caught up in cool ideas and grand schemes. All you need to do is do something useful for someone. Businesses want more customers and customers want a good deal.
  • Keep it simple stupid. If you’re going to be useful, people need to be able to use you. It’s tough for them to use you if they don’t even understand what you’re doing in the first place. For businesses, “we bring more customers to your door” and for customers “we get you a good deal on lunch”.
  • Get yourself noticed. Placing massive red lunchboxes with our website on them around North Sydney, often accompanied by a glamorous blonde girl handing out discounts, has played a huge role in getting to this point. By making ourselves stick-out, we made people double take, point fingers and take notice of us. Don’t be afraid to be a bit outrageous. (I loved it when I put the boxes next to some suits handing out pamphlets and the suits didn’t even get a look-in from passers by.)
  • Talk, talk, talk. The more people we talked with the more we improved the business model and the offering. Go and talk to someone. Now.
  • Stick at it. It’s easy to hang up the boots when you’re facing a bit of adversity. It’s easy to move onto the next exciting thing. I’m learning to push through these sorts of things, pushing through is leading to rewards.
  • It’s all about the journey. I’ve been saying to myself, I should have reached this point earlier. However, the more I look back, the more I trace my steps, the more I realise that each and every step along the way has been essential in getting to this point.
  • It’s an internal battle. What’s stopping you from getting that next customer? What’s stoppping you from looking at new partnerships? What’s stopping you? Well, you. You are both the greatest asset and the greatest obstacle you have.

These are the things that have stood out the most. I hope you can take something away from them.


Scott Middleton
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