Archive for September, 2010

Getting the Most Out of a B2B Email Marketing Campaign…Or Any Marketing Campaign

September 26, 2010

Recently in an online discussion group a friend of mine posted a question regarding how you can ensure the best results from a B2B email marketing campaign. They received a number of good recommendations for tools they could use. There was a lot of excellent information about how to craft an effective message and make sure there is a clear call to action. However, one of the things everyone seemed to leave out was that any e-mail marketing campaign, or any marketing campaign at all, for that matter, will produce an even stronger ROI if you follow up rather than just wait for them to call you.

I am familiar with several of these tools (we use Constant Contact, for those who wish to know) and the ones I know all have features that show you who from your mailing list looked at what article from your campaign, indicating they had some level of interest in that given topic. Not only is this good for targeting email correspondence to your prospects and building their familiarity with you, but it is also produces an opportunity for your sales team to call these prospects and offer additional information to them to move the sales process along. In our experience, this has been very effective because here your prospects still have you at the “top of their minds”.

However, many times this step is not taken for several reasons…salespeople are busy keeping their current clients happy, they don’t receive the information as to which of their prospects read which article, etc. This is why our inside sales team offers email marketing follow up campaigns to handle this for you. However, whether we do it for you or your team handles it, follow up and you will see even better feedback from your e-mail marketing campaigns.

If you would like more information on Randolph Sterling, Inc.’s short term inside sales services, please contact us today!

The Importance of 10 Second Mission Statements and Showering Before You Go to the Gym

September 26, 2010

Earlier this year I requested that all of Randolph Sterling’s team members commit our mission statement to memory:

Randolph Sterling, Inc. is a sales solutions company whose main goal is to assist growth oriented clients improve their overall sales and sales process through management services, process development/improvement, inside sales, and sales peer advisory groups.

Ultimately, we would like to change the perception of salespeople by the public by always promoting solution based conversations and continued learning.

Here is why:

I went to Virginia Beach over one weekend during the Spring. On Sunday morning I rolled out of bed, hair all messed up, unshaven and unshowered, and decided to get a quick workout in before getting ready for the day. Usually, when I travel and work out in hotel gyms the place is empty, so I didn’t think anything about it.

This time, of course, was different.  As I walked in, a woman was walking out to get some wipes to clean off a treadmill and just wanted me to know that she was coming right back (I think she didn’t want me to take her Sunday paper). She mentioned that she travels a lot for work so I asked what she does…turned out she is a director of sales for an accounts receivables management firm in the transportation industry. She asked what I do and I gave her a variation of our mission statement. When I told her, she replied that she was so buried in client meetings that she never has time to develop new prospect relationships and that she definitely needed our services. I ran back up to my room to get a card after she requested one.

Twenty minutes later we were having a business meeting while I was on the StairMaster and she was on a treadmill. When she finished up, I asked when I could get a proposal out to her for us to assist her. She gave me not just her card, but also the card of a colleague of hers who is redoing her company’s website. She mentioned that I should reach out to him as there might be some opportunities for the two of us to work together as well.

This is a testimonial to why having a quick 10 second rundown of who you are and what you do can lead to profitable results…also, it shows why you should always shower before working out! 🙂

Using Your Time to Your Advantage

September 20, 2010

This past March I ran into my friend Jim down in Virginia Beach where he and his fiancé Sue were running a half marathon. This was the second time that I met up with Jim at a race (the first being the day he actually met Sue), however, I have always been content with grabbing a beer with him after a run. Sure, I play softball, basketball, and bike ride, but I never considered myself much of a runner.

Jim inspired me to start running, so since about the end of March, I have been running every other day, usually 3-4 miles or so. When the weather got hot, I figured it best to do this run at 6:00 AM when it was still cool, rather than 6:00 PM when it was still very hot. This became somewhat of my morning commute (I also walk for about a half hour on the “non-running” days.) It has become a great time for me to collect my thoughts, plan my day, and think about clients and how we can help them before getting into the regular daily grind of the workday.

Let’s face it, once the day starts, it is run, run, run, and not many of us have the time to really look at the bigger picture. As much as we want to take the time to find the inspiration to do that next great thing, the phone starts ringing, or you check your email to find 100 messages waiting for you. Next thing you know you are in your first meeting of the day and the day becomes more of a list of transactional activities rather than a study of ideas to make the world better. At some point you grab some lunch and say “Darn, it is only Monday,” “TGIF!” or something in between as you flash for a second to a time when you thought you’d be doing something more inspirational at work.

Many sales teams we see are exactly like this. The “what have you done for me lately” attitude leaves them going from transaction to transaction instead of building long term relationships. When was the last time you sat back and thought about something you could do for a client…maybe refer them to someone, research an article you think they would find interesting, or come up with an idea that will make their life easier even if it doesn’t put a dime in your pocket. We all want to do these things. We all see the value of doing them and growing a stronger relationship, but many times we just don’t have the time to think about them.

I urge you all this month to take that “in between’ time, the time in between your front door and your office door, the time in between your desk to the restaurant for lunch, or the time in between the end of the day and coming home to your family to allow yourself to think of the bigger picture both for your clients and for yourself…to find your inspiration.

Should You Adjust Sales Compensation in a Declining Revenue Environment?

September 14, 2010

How one adjusts the compensation of their sales force is something many people have been talking about recently, both on business oriented discussion boards online and in person, privately as well as at well attended events.

On the surface, these are simple questions with several variables. In general, I have always been a supporter of lower salaries with the majority of the upside in total compensation coming from commission, especially when the salesperson controls the sale from start to finish. However, if the product or service being sold has quite a long sales cycle, 9-18+ months perhaps, and is a pretty high ticket item, I would usually say a larger base salary is needed because people do need to eat while they are developing a long term relationship.

The deeper question though is why so many companies are considering changing their compensation. Are they paying their sales people too much up front to begin with? Has the sales cycle just gotten too long? Has their sales team started to buy into the “bad economy” excuse and lost their focus on developing new relationships and growing the ones they have? What exactly is making it a “declining revenue environment?”

In over 20 years of selling and managing salespeople, my response to a change in compensation either by the company or by the salesperson is simply “SELL MORE!” While it isn’t nearly that simple, I would look at all factors of the “declining revenue environment” before making any strong consideration on changes. Plus, we have not even begun to discuss the potential for negative reaction from the salespeople. What would they do if there was a change? Would such a change cause you to risk losing too many of the right people and put you in a steeper declining revenue environment?

Does Being an Athlete Help You in Business?

September 12, 2010

I recently read a forum question on LinkedIn asking this, so I wanted to share my answer with all of our readers. Being an athlete growing up has definitely helped me not just as a professional, but as a grown adult. I played baseball growing up and still play softball and basketball today. As a sales professional, baseball taught me that by playing a sport where “greatness” still means that you will fail 7 out of 10 times, you still have to always go up to the plate (whether that plate is the start of your day, a meeting with your boss, a presentation, etc.) understanding that failure is a possibility, but not something to dwell on. It also taught me to always be ready to learn from success as well as failure. Have I always been successful in baseball? Well, since I’m sure none of you have a baseball card with my name and statistics on it, let’s just say that the things I learned playing baseball have served me for much longer in the boardroom than on the field.

While baseball has some great team elements, a lot of it is one on one, you against the pitcher. Basketball, however, has helped me become even more of a team player and I have added that to my business life. Basketball is not just about scoring, but about playing defense, passing, and doing the little things that make your team win. That same attitude helps our team at work be successful as we each help each other out and help each other to grow.

I never was a great basketball player growing up, so I never played on an organized team. I was always tall, but I think the uneven surface on the basketball court in the park behind my house growing up caused some difficulty picking up good ball handling skills and that hurt my confidence in playing. I never really played until I was in my mid 20’s when I used to go with my brother in law, Bob, and his best friend, Frank, to the Rutgers University gym to play in some pick up games. It was there that I learned that I could be an effective teammate by setting picks, playing good defense, and rebounding. It helped that Frank always had a good jump shot so he would pick up the scoring slack. I soon noticed that the teams I played on won more often than not and usually the guy I guarded (not used to someone playing defense and taking pride in it) didn’t score too much. I had become a good teammate, even if I wasn’t the top scorer.

All of those skills help me today as President of Randolph Sterling, Inc. and I think that team attitude and the desire to constantly learn and grow has permeated the culture at work as well as to our clients. We will always try to do better, to do more and learn more for our clients. Will we be perfect? Probably not. But, we will always work to do our best and to learn as much from those ground balls to second base as we do from the great successes we have for our clients.