Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Death of the Salesman: Are Traditional Salespeople a Thing of the Past?

December 7, 2010

I recently spoke with a woman who worked for a company that “invested heavily in e-marketing and reduced [their] sales force.” She went on to say “It’s been working quite well for the past six months or so. I think that the traditional salesperson is a thing of the past. We still send people to networking events to develop personal relationships, but lead generation is happening for the most part online.”

Now, we at Randolph Sterling have seen a lot of e-marketing with our clients too. However, I don’t think I would agree that the traditional salesperson is a thing of the past.

We have a client that generates 200+ new leads a day for products ranging in price from $5,000-$50,000 through SEO, e-newsletters, etc. They had so many that their salespeople became not much more than order takers, and because there were so many leads, their follow up got bad. The attitude was, “Why call a guy back when I will have 10 more just like him tomorrow?”

But then we came in and added the personal touch by following up on all of the leads that either got skipped over or to which the reps just sent a quote and waited for the prospect to call back. In the first 20 hours of the first week, we had already sold over $300,000 of new business that the company would not have otherwise gotten.

There were two common elements to those sales:

  1. The lead generation system generated a quote to the prospect and showed it was opened. However, when we called, the prospect could not find the quote (often they accidentally deleted it) so we went over the information with them. If we hadn’t, they were going to sign off on another quote they had gotten somewhere else.
  2. The initial quote was usually for a smaller ticket item, often not exactly what the prospect wanted. But, by following up on these “little deals,” we often found that the prospect either needed several of the small pieces over the course of the year, or needed a different piece entirely.

Without the personal attention of a professional salesperson, these deals and many others would have been lost.

Technology is wonderful and certainly has helped the sales industry to change for the better, but based on my experience, my feeling is that the best formula is a strong sales team working with good technology to help attract the right prospects.


Should You Downsize Your Sales Force and Implement a More Automated and Online Marketing System Instead?

November 22, 2010

This is a question that came up in an online Vistage discussion group recently, and those who know me, or regularly read my blog or newsletter already know my answer: NO! An online or automated marketing system will never replace a strong sales force!!!

We’ve spent months and months in our Vistage groups talking about attracting more clients through online marketing systems and at the end of the day what was determined was what we already knew…some companies are sales focused while others are marketing focused, but the most successful companies integrated an approach using both.

Sales is about finding customers while marketing is about bringing customers to you. By having them work together, say by reviewing the report on who reads your e-newsletter and then calling the readers to discuss topics of interest in more detail, or offering a downloadable white paper on a topic of interest then following up with those who downloaded it, will increase the ROI of your marketing programs and reduce the sales cycle (for more details on this topic, click here).

Now, some might disagree with me on this and claim that their sales force isn’t working for them. In those cases I would say the problem is not a matter of having a sales force, but not having the right sales force. For example, if all your salespeople are doing is providing you with information that can be found on Google, fire your salespeople and get better ones (OK, maybe I am being a bit harsh with that.) Good salespeople develop relationships and find the right people for you to work with. If people only bought based on the “facts” they find on Google, anyone who wanted four wheels, an engine, good gas mileage, and a way to get to work would be best served buying a Yugo. When the salesperson digs deeper to find the true pain and how his solution can solve it…well just count how many BMWs and Hummers you pass on the way home tonight.

For companies who have a sales force that spends most of their time working with current clients, or don’t have a sales force at all and the people who do the work also sell it, a better idea would be lead generation. It allows the experts to be the expert. At Randolph Sterling, we have an inside sales force that we outsource to help develop new markets and new prospects. With it, we do not simply find AN opportunity for ourselves or our clients, but THE RIGHT opportunities. Good inside sales teams get a better feel for who your ideal prospects are and work to find you more of the people you want to do business with. You never want to incent them to find ANY opportunity because wasting your time on a bad opportunity can be more detrimental than not having an opportunity at all


Marketing and Sales…Perfect Together

November 1, 2010

We do a fair amount of partnering with marketing firms who will bring us in to assist them in providing follow ups to some of the projects they are running. For example, they may write white papers for their clients and then set up a system so prospects can download these white papers. They will then have us provide initial follow ups on these leads that were developed and then pass the hotter leads on to their sales team to close the deal.

I was in a conversation recently where a question came up about return on investment when it comes to marketing. I think that the breakdowns will definitely change based on industry and how much attracting clients plays a part in growth compared to a company that is more sales oriented.

We are finding that more clients are looking closer at return on investment for their particular form of marketing, although some are easier to track than others. It is relatively easy to see who downloaded a white paper from your website and then follow up on those leads to turn them into business, but a little harder to track the client you cold called who then Googled the company to find your website, Facebook page, Twitter account, LinkedIn profile, etc. and based their decision to even talk to you partially on what they read there.

Sales and marketing have always had a close relationship, often like brothers and sisters: sometimes they fight, other times they try to ignore that the other exists, but they always work better when respecting what the other brings to the table so they can work together.

Integrating Your Sales and Marketing Efforts for the Best Results

October 30, 2010

In a recent post wrote I spoke of how it’s getting to be that time of year when smart salespeople are trying to meet their annual quota, as well as building and strengthening relationships during the holiday season, and clients are working on their budgets. As I wrote that article, I was reminded of a conversation we at Randolph Sterling once had with a client. We mentioned to them that, based on the trial program we were running, if they were to invest $150,000 in our solution, we could pretty much guarantee an additional $2-3 million in sales. It is a great return on investment, however they had to determine if they had the $150,000 to invest, and, if so, would they be willing to invest it on this solution or someplace else.

Many of us right now are struggling with similar questions. For example, this October, we at Randolph Sterling, where we have strong sales culture, were left seriously contemplating how much of our 2011 budget we should allocate towards our marketing efforts and how we should divide our marketing budget amongst the different tools we implement, whether they be our email marketing campaign, our blog (which you’re reading now), our various social media efforts, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, or any number of other more traditional efforts. (Thank you Gini for your excellent video blogs on these topics).

However, we often see that many clients, whether due to their culture, or for some other reasons, believe they have to choose between sales (going out to look for customers) or marketing (drawing customers to them). Both are incredibly valuable, but unfortunately, it seems that too many companies focus on one over the other rather than developing a strong integrated plan. Here’s an example.

The marketing-focused company sends out a very nice post card to targeted prospects and hopes that they decide to call to use their services. The sales-focused company cold calls those same targeted prospects. Both get decent results, but the company who integrates the two by sending out the well thought out postcard and then has their sales team follow up on it by calling those targeted contacts most likely gets a better result than the other two because (in theory anyway) the guy who responds to the marketing effort follows the call to action on the postcard and calls the company that sent it, while the guy who responds to the sales effort doesn’t remember the postcard but returns the voicemail the salesperson left. However, a third group of people emerges who got the postcard and had a level of interest, but not enough to actually call themselves. They receive the follow up call and feel a little more familiar with the company because they remember seeing the logo from the postcard as the salesperson talks to them. Those that implement both sales and marketing efforts (again, in theory anyway) therefore are likely to get responses from all three groups.

With this said, it is important to point out that many people who went into marketing did not go into marketing to be salespeople, many people who went into sales did not go into sales to do marketing, and many people when starting their business had no real desire to do either, even though, oftentimes, both are required for the best results. So, where do you go from here?

The first answer that comes to mind is you can do it on your own. You can do it yourself. Someone else at your company can do it. Or you can bring in an additional person or two to fill these roles in-house. To once more use ourselves as an example, we are a sales solutions company, but we have an in-house Social Media Director, Daniel Nuccio, who handles our email marketing campaigns and manages our blog and social media accounts, while we maintain close relationships with marketing companies with many different specialties to help us and our clients with other tasks (more on this later).

However, you may not feel comfortable filling these roles yourself. Or you may believe that the time of you and your employees would be better spent elsewhere. And you may find that bringing on one or two new people may be too costly.

So, then what? You bring in an outside team or two. At Randolph Sterling, we offer a number of outsourced sales services for both short term and long term sales solutions. And, for your marketing needs, we at Randolph Sterling have partnered with a number of marketing firms with different areas of expertise so that we can better offer a full solution to our clients.

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!

Closing the Deal on the Go: Market Your Expertise

November 30, 2009

You are an expert in your company’s products and services. Your have years of experience and mountains of knowledge of the market you serve. This expertise can bring you new customers if you know how to use it.

Give a presentation to a local professional organization, using the opportunity to speak generally about your product. Participate in a vendor’s night. Write an article in a trade journal or a letter to the editor in a local paper or national magazine.  Start a blog. Work a trade show.

All of these things, if done well, help build your credibility and credentials, and may lead to new business.

This post is based on material originally published in Closing the Deal.

For more information on Closing the Deal, check it out on Amazon.

(Burghgraef, Richard. Closing the Deal: Hot Sales Strategies that Make Money. Encouragement Press. Illinois: Chicago. 2007)

Look Who’s Tweeting: Learning to Better Implement the Social Media

November 19, 2009

I had a meeting Wednesday with our social media intern, the topic of which basically was that I don’t blog, tweet, or tell the world what I am doing enough. I like and respect our social media intern, Daniel Nuccio. He is a bright kid who really knows his stuff, and the reason that we hired him was that after sitting through several seminars and talks on social media, I learned two very important things: (1) we really need to get involved with social media more than we have been, even if it is just to evaluate for ourselves if it is a way for us to find new clients or if it is just a fad; and (2) I was probably never going to put the time in by myself to do this right.

There are many reasons for me to have come to the second conclusion, everything from being a small business owner (which in my world means wearing several hats from the “big boss” and managing our inside and outside sales reps and sales management team to being the guy who makes sure the garbage is taken out in the office) to believing that although I’m probably a decent enough guy, most people don’t want to about every breath I take or every move I make. According to Daniel, that is not the case. He assured me that people want to know more about me and about Randolph Sterling, Inc. than just that we are a sales management and outsourced sales company or when our next peer advisory group meeting is going to be held. I greatly enjoy developing relationships with clients but am used to doing it one on one, face to face, not so much in the public eye. I can understand people would potentially be interested in me talking about the trade show I went to yesterday and the program we are running for trade show follow up, or my trip down to our Raleigh office to evaluate some software we plan to implement to help us stay in better contact with our clients, but do people really want to know about the great day I had on Saturday when I ended up shopping for a one year old’s Bob Marley t-shirt (who knew they even existed?) instead of a new car? Are the people searching for articles that include Bob Marley looking for the kind of sales help I can provide?

I promised Daniel that I would make a more conscious effort to write more—heck one day I can put all of this together and write that second book that has been eluding me—but now this brings up a whole new problem: I’m a sales guy at heart, always have been, always will be. I’ve been selling since I was a little kid trying to convince my parents to let me stay up an hour later at bedtime (I guess I was pretty good back then since now I never seem to get enough sleep). How in the heck am I going to be able to “tweet?” 140 characters, really? As a sales guy, I like to paint a picture. Ask any of us what time it is and you will most often get a little bit about how to build a clock. I did make a promise so I will start with some random parts of my life since Saturday:

  • Had a great day today…had planned on looking for a car but ended up having the best day in months looking for a present for a one year old. Company does matter.
  • Had fun watching football today, but think my Roethlisberger jersey has been cursed—Steelers lost and I got heckled by a Cincinnati fan!
  • Busy day in the office…have had good success on Aaron Equipment project but know more about waste treatment than anyone should!
  • Getting ready for the holiday rush. It is always a busy time for us when companies push to reach their sales goals and ask us for help.
  • That’s right, the holidays are coming! Time to start planning my holiday display for the house and the Toys for Tots drive.
  • Working on the website…has needed an update for some time now. Want it to be more interactive for clients. What would you like to see on it?
  • Have been bouncing around ideas for a charity event—something I have wanted to do for years. We should all be giving back
  • Just finished a day talking to clients about next year. In an hour was an “expert” in sales of tech, mfg., accounting, and staffing. I love the diversity of our clients.
  • Went to a trade show for a client. Saw some good opportunities for him, but even more for us. Will be going back tomorrow with Art.
  • Customer service matters. After sitting in traffic for 2 hours in Chicago on my way to McCormick Place. Parking lot attendant from yesterday remembered me & welcomed me back.
  • Sat in on a social media presentation at FabTech show in Chicago…ok, ok, I promise to tweet more!
  • Art made some good connections at FabTech for sales management and for having our team follow up on leads for them. Now let’s turn them into business.
  • Ran into my buddy Brad from softball as I was leaving the trade show. Talked a bit about biz and I think I have a good connection for him!
  • Played basketball 2 nights in a row and can still walk! Tuesday played great defense and Wednesday I scored a lot. Always enjoy playing ball with the guys.
  • Up early and off to the Raleigh office for a few days. Hoping to close deal to provide SAM Peer Advisory Groups for Business Clubs of America.
  • Have you ever been sitting on a plane, ready to take off only to have your plane go “out of service?” What does that mean exactly?
  • I like biographies so now I am reading Alonzo Mourning’s autobiography. Courageous, charitable, inspirational man. We can all learn from people like this.
  • Finally found us another plane…but this one has maintenance problems! Apparently the big problem was no water for coffee. Coffee…really?
  • Up safely in the air as I write this article and again wonder why I fly so much. I should hit Platinum status on my next flight. I like seeing clients face to face though.

So there they are, my random thoughts. I hope this gives you just a little bit more insight into me. I promise to write more and please, make comments so I can get to know you all better.