Posts Tagged ‘Marketing’

If You Build It, They Will Not Always Come

June 5, 2011

Over the years I have encountered many clients who fell prey to the “Field of Dreams Theory” of “If you build it, they will come.” Now the “it” in this sentence can be any number of things: a new website, a new blog, an e-newsletter, new social media profiles, or simply one’s business itself, or any number of other things. The “they,” of course, is new business. However, many forget the importance of personal interaction with all of these “its.” There may be many ways that the person who may need your product or service can find you, but how do those pathways to you or your website help you make a sale?

In my experience, the best programs combine both marketing (attracting) efforts with sales (finding) efforts. Sometimes it is as simple as one follow up call to the targeted prospect who downloaded a white paper, read an e-report, or visited your website to turn a prospect into a client. Other times it will take those 7, 13, 27, or whatever the latest magic numbers of encounters is (notice, however that the number is getting larger, not smaller) for them to build the confidence they need in you before they will do business with you. But, if at least half of those encounters are back and forth conversation between provider and prospect, that gives you 13.5 opportunities to not only tell your prospect how you solve problems, but to also get a better understanding of what THEIR problems are.

Too often, people use their marketing to tell people just how great they are. Yes, everyone wants to work with someone who is competent but also with someone who will solve THEIR problem. Marketing can help with that, but the only true way you will understand a prospect’s need is for you to directly interact with him.

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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.

Special Event:Lucky’s Pot of Leads

March 7, 2010

Lucky’s Pot of Leads

Order tickets via Eventbrite: http://luckyleads-efbevent.eventbrite.com

In conjunction with Business Club America and Randolph Sterling, Inc., Hummingbird Creative Group invites you to the second of a series of 9 roundtable events in 2010 to celebrate Hummingbird’s 15th Anniversary.

Friday, March 12, 2010 from 11:30am – 1:00pm at 1705 Prime, join industry expert panelists:
Wendy Coulter, President, Hummingbird Creative Group, Inc.
Rich Burghgraef, President – Randolph Sterling, Inc.
Sherry Mitchell, Director Brand Strategies, Hummingbird Creative Group, Inc.

The trio will address the differences between sales and marketing, as well as how they must support one another for either to be successful. Discover how to better qualify sales prospects through understanding why your current customers buy from you and using that information to build marketing messages that can help you sell! You will learn about:

~ the need for structured communication between your sales and marketing teams
~ the importance of knowing your competitive advantages
~ new online resources and opportunities to find and foster leads and fill your sales funnel
~ how selling is best done by asking questions, not selling what you have
~ budgeting for both sales and marketing, not one or the other, to reach your growth goals
~ qualifying leads to find more of the business you want through your sales and marketing efforts
~ using unique sales enablement tools to build brand awareness

1705 Prime
1705 E. Millbrook Rd.
Raleigh, NC 27609
919-850-2340

Cost is $25 per person and includes lunch

Order tickets via Eventbrite by Monday, March 8th: http://luckyleads-efbevent.eventbrite.com
or call 919-854-9100 ext. 304

“The Performance is Only as Good as the Audience”…And We Have a Great Audience!

March 3, 2010

Remember back in the days of elementary school, on those special days when you would have an assembly? We would pile into the gym—or as our principal used to call it, the “all purpose room” to either see one of the other grades perform a play or an outside group come in to perform for the whole school? Mr. Campbell, the principal at Westmoreland School in Fair Lawn, New Jersey where I grew up used to start out each assembly by reminding us kids to be respectful of the performers…”the performance is only as good as the audience” he would always tell us.

Those words have never rung more true than at the SAM Peer Advisory Group meeting that we held in our office in Cary, NC the other day.

We had a great meeting, and, as with all SAM Groups where each member is an equal participant and can give and/or receive advice, the participants determine the value of the meeting. Since the value of the meeting is that the discussions are confidential, allow me to take a minute to tell you about some of the participants:

Draughon Cranford of Xpress Image: Draughon is very well connected throughout Raleigh. So, when an issue comes up, he not only has his opinion about it, which he offers in a very professional manner, but he also knows someone else through all of the networking he has done in all the right places, that he can usually offer a recommendation of someone he can bring in to help with the issue.

Will Webb of Dupree & Webb: Will is one of the first people I met when I joined Business Clubs of America. In a world where people sometimes blur ethical lines (especially in the insurance industry where he lives) Will’s ethics are beyond reproach. Will is the kind of guy who would walk away from a profitable piece of business if it meant he wouldn’t feel good at the end of the day when he came home to his wife and 2 year old daughter to tell them about it.

Rob Pulley of Talent Management Solutions: Rob is the second person I met when I joined BCA. Rob is the kind of guy who doesn’t just speak to hear his own voice. Trust me, he has a lot to say, but nothing he says is not the result of careful thought to the issue at hand. Rob is also a guy who is very well connected and will make a recommendation for what he truly feels is best for his colleague, looking for nothing to gain other than respect of his peers. He definitely has it.

Danny Worthy of North Carolina Central University: Some of you basketball fans might be thinking…wait a second…North Carolina? Worthy? Is he related to former Tar Heel and Los Angeles Laker great James Worthy? Actually, yes, Danny and James Worthy are brothers. Danny, after a successful career at Verizon, decided to come back to his alma mater, NCCU, with the sole goal of helping them achieve growth as their athletic teams move into division I. Danny works to partner businesses with the university through various sponsorship opportunities. Danny is one of the most polite and respectful people I have met. He adds great insight and experience into every topic and isn’t afraid to ask for assistance as well as give his opinion.

And, I can’t forget to mention our very own Angela King: Angela has been very helpful in getting the SAM Groups up and running in Raleigh as well as assisting me in facilitating the meetings. As a facilitator, it is our job to keep the meetings on topic, but to also know when to go off of the agenda if a topic is being bounced around where everyone is contributing and getting a lot out of the discussion. Angela’s vast experience, both professionally and as a working mom who runs a household of four kids ranging in age from 18 to four, allows her to not only give insight that many of us have not had experience with, but it allows her to keep us all in line.

These core members of our Raleigh SAM groups are class acts, every last one of them. I would have no reservation in recommending any of them and I certainly appreciate the assistance they give me every time I am privileged to meet with them.

We still have a few seats available in this particular SAM group and we are starting new groups every day in both Chicago and in Raleigh; and we are working on “virtual SAM groups” to be able to serve sales and marketing professionals around the world. If you would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact Angela directly at aking@randolphsterling.com.

The Ketchup is Out of the Bottle: Our First SAM Peer Group Meeting!

January 27, 2010

We had our first SAM peer advisory group meetings this week in Raleigh. I had mentioned in my last article that the anticipation of getting these groups up and running is a lot like waiting for the Heinz ketchup to come out of the bottle. Now the ketchup is out…so how did it go?

I’d love for some of the BCA members who attended to post their thoughts about the meetings, but from where I sat, they were fantastic. Attendance was good and will continue to grow, but most importantly, the people who were there really got involved and contributed. They came with issues to discuss and opinions based on their experiences for the other members.

As facilitators of the group, neither me nor my colleague Angela King are exempt from being on either side of the advice, so we too gave it out as much as we took it. I walked away with some great ideas of how to do things a little bit differently, both with our sales team and with the business in general.

What always amazes me is how at the beginning of the meeting, someone will always say “I think we all have the same problem…finding more business,” however inevitably as we continue to move from person to person and issue to issue it becomes abundantly clear that things run deeper than simply how to find more clients. We end up defining ideal clients, which are not always the same for the different members of the group; looking at ways each company finds those prospects and makes them clients, which is also not only unique from company to company, but from person to person within the company (which opens up a whole new can of worms discussing sales process!) We also talked about issues in motivating salespeople and came to the unanimous decision that if you have to spend too much time motivating a salesperson, he or she is probably not the right person to help your company grow.

Every SAM group meeting is different because the meeting belongs to the members. It is their time to discuss their own issues, challenges, opportunities and goals. BCA members are a strong group so starting out with them as the base and adding members from there makes a lot of sense. I want to send a special thank you out to Penn Shore, market owner of BCA of the Triangle, for working with us to get these groups up and running. We hope as we continue to add more members to our SAM groups that we can also reciprocate by inviting them to other events that the BCA puts on every month.

Anticipation: Bringing SAM Peer Groups to the Triangle

January 26, 2010

Anticipation…remember the old Heinz ketchup commercials where they showed the ketchup slowly flowing out of the bottle and talked about the value of anticipation? That’s exactly how I feel as we start our new SAM Peer Advisory Groups.

The concept of our SAM groups is great. We provide an advisory board for salespeople and sales managers. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?

It was an idea brought to me by a mentor of mine who works with business owners and salespeople. He noticed that much of their internal pain revolved around bringing in new business and sales in general. We further noticed that many of the salespeople craved an additional outlet beyond their sales manager to bounce around ideas. This was for several reasons, but mainly because they didn’t want their sales manager to know they were struggling or had questions. In a SAM group, they can talk with other people out on the same front lines they are, dealing with the same issues as they sell their own products and services.

So what’s the problem? This is where my Heinz ketchup analogy comes in. SAM groups are great. Starting SAM groups are not.

Why? Well, there’s a couple of issues. One is that for a sales manager, VP, or President to commit to taking his sales rep out of the field for a four hour meeting once a month, he wants to see a return on his investment of both time and money. Another is that when we start a SAM group we may find two competing companies or two reps from the same company that want to join. This means starting another group for the second rep or the competing company.

The value of the SAM group is in its people. The agenda admittedly doesn’t look all that impressive, which is by design. In looking at the agenda the first thought that comes up is “this is going to take 4 hours?”

Agenda:

8:00    Welcome and Opening Announcements

8:15    Significant Sales and Marketing Events

8:45    2nd Half Annual Goals and Tracking of Quarterly Goals

9:45    Host Presentation

10:30  Sales and Marketing Issues–“Today’s Issues,” other issues

11:30  Guest Presentation on Topic of Interest for Entire Group

12:00  Adjourn Meeting

You see, the content of the meeting is determined by the needs of the people in the group, not by the group facilitator. When you start a group with 2 or 3 people, it does not look that impressive to management when the members get back to the office (although in reality, they probably got a lot out of the meeting because we were able to dig deeper into the issue they brought up).

We figured that the best way to build up even stronger SAM Groups was to partner with another association where what we do can benefit their members. The easy choice was to work with Penn Shore and Business Clubs of America (BCA). So I met with Penn, and after months of negotiations, starting this month…this week actually…we are offering SAM Group membership as an added benefit to the membership of BCA.

Anticipation…it’s making me wait, as the old Heinz slogan goes.

So here we are, on the precipice of our first BCA/SAM meeting and I wonder what I wonder every time we start a group: How many people will show up? Will they be good fits for the group? Do they understand the concept (the hardest part for us salespeople is trying to truly understand the problem before going right to trying to solve it?)

…it’s almost here, so I’ll let you know how it goes!

Marketing or Sales? The Good Companies Do Both!

January 13, 2010

One of the first questions we ask a client when we start working with them is what does their ideal client look like to them? What are the characteristics that they all share? It is a simple enough question but sometimes very difficult to answer as many of these traits are not exactly something you can search a database for.

One characteristic we noticed in our clients is an understanding of the difference between marketing and sales and the ability to use both effectively together rather than one over another.

I began taking marketing classes 20 years ago and have been selling since I tried to convince my parents to let me stay up an extra half hour at age 7. I have heard many definitions of marketing and sales but the best one I have heard, and the one that I use is this: marketing brings companies to you while sales has you going to the company. This article, for example, is an example of marketing. My hope is that you may read it and say “wow, Randolph Sterling, Inc. can really help me grow my business. I should talk to them,” and you give us a call or send us an email asking to be a client. It is also a sales lead tool as well because let’s face it, how many people are going to do what I described? Some maybe, but being a sales guy, I need to be more proactive.

As part of our “quick start” sales program that we have developed, we will get a report of who read this article, for example, or who looked at our website or any of our marketing efforts and reach out to them. We will thank them for their interest and offer them any additional information they may want on the article, the company, one of our clients, etc. While we have them, we will also see if there are opportunities where we might be able to help.

So which do you think is more effective:

  1. A strong marketing program which attracts buyers to you
  2. A strong sales presence where you go out and look for ideal clients and see if you can help them
  3. A combination program where a commitment is made to both 1 and 2 working together to find more of the people that have an interest in you, your company, and how you do business?

Of course, the answer is number 3.

I’m sure that many people are saying that investing in both marketing and sales is expensive and while it could be, budgeting properly and executing a good plan within your budget can yield some incredible results. The sales piece makes the marketing more effective and the marketing makes the sales more effective…and ultimately, isn’t that what we all want.

In 2009, Randolph Sterling, Inc. developed partnership agreements with marketing firms with different areas of expertise so that we can better offer a full solution to our ideal clients. We look forward to continuing those relationships in 2010 and continuing to grow as we help more and more companies find more of their ideal clients

Event: Learn More About Our Sales and Marketing (SAM) Peer Groups This Thursday in Raleigh, NC

August 10, 2009

Strategize with Your Peers to Grow Your Business

Date: August 13th, 2009
Time: 11:30 am – 1:30 am
Event Type: Roundtable
Market: The Triangle, North Carolina
Where: 1705 Prime, 1705 East Millbrook Road, Raleigh, North Carolina 27609

Details:
Join us for lunch as we introduce Randolph Sterling, Inc.’s Sales and Marketing (SAM) Peer Advisory Group Concept – a peer-to-peer advisory group for professionals who are responsible for growing their company’s business and giving participants an opportunity to share experiences and obstacles to growth with other executives from non-competing businesses. The presentation will be followed by a mini group session illustrating how a SAM Group meeting is run and how we work through business issues.

Whether you are a start-up business or in a later stage of growth, peer-to-peer learning affords you the opportunity to have other business owners serve as your sounding board. Participants can help you develop strategic plans, define specific goals and become a trusted resource. Register today for this Roundtable and learn how the Randolph Sterling, Inc’s SAM Peer Advisory Group Concept can help you navigate growth through these challenging times

For more information, call Richard Burghgraef at 312-498-8340, visit http://www.randolphsterling.com, or click here.