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Sales 2.0 Is Listening & The Death Of The 8 Step Sales Process

The customer is always right? At least that is how it should be- or once was?

I have come across several instances lately where the “Sales Process” superseded the need of the customer- namely me! Maybe I am hyper sensitive to the sales process because of my sales background, or maybe it is something larger. Maybe the writing is on the wall? Is the sales process of old obsolete? Are we in fact entering a new age of sales- Sales2.0 if you will? Gone are the days of the 8 step sales process that bring is in an army of experts to sell you on one product?

I entered a meeting today with a vendor that is already working with our organization. The purpose of the meeting was to go over the capabilities we had already purchased. 20 minutes of up-selling and chest thumping- and we finally started the overview of the purchased product. When is it time to stop selling and start servicing? It is proven that when you service a customer to extreme satisfaction they will purchase again and new sales ops organically develop. Turn the page and service your customer and ye shall find organic sales ops!

Another example: I was on the second sales call with a prospectus vendor. The mission for them was to show us their product with our brand in mind. Our own data points, a test drive if you will! No using Coke and Walmart as examples of how powerful the product is. Instead I was met with the following:

  1. “It costs us money to use your data in a demo”
  2. “We don’t have a playground for you to try it out, but we do have screen shots”
  3. “Just follow along with the slide deck- it’ll answer most if not all of your questions.”

My thought was “Maybe car salespeople aren’t so stupid- they at least let you test it before you buy it!” Ultimately both situations were a supreme waste of time for me. Time is of the essence to many of us in business today, so losing time for the sake of a sales process is futile. Barry Libert once said “When you give your customers, peers, constituents and family what they want, when they want it, and how they want it- you win them over- over and over again!” That resonated with me!

According to wikipedia a sales process is a systematic approach to selling a product or service. Traditional sales process definition breaks a selling cycle into the following phases:

  1. Prospect
  2. Qualify
  3. Propose
  4. Negotiate
  5. Close

So what is Sales2.0? I would argue it is listening more than you sell. Ask questions to get to the fundamentals of selling which is “find the need and fill the need.” But to do that you must listen. To listen you need to abandon the traditional sales process dictated by your organization and let the prospect tell you what they want. In order to do this I suggest giving the prospect an information sheet ahead of your call/meeting. In the age of online shopping and testimonials it has become a greater practice to research before you buy. A trend that will continue to grow as technology infiltrates all facets of our lives.

In addition to listening, I suspect large ticket items are going to all move into a “try it before you buy it” approach to sales. If you have nothing to hide – then have at it. Have faith that your product to will perform to the prospectus customers expectations. In many instances this will actually speed up the process and remove unneeded steps.

Finally, think about selling activities that allow both sides of the fence to learn from each other about what they would like. This helps build trust, mutual understanding and a true feeling of partnership from the outset. This is finding the need and filling the need collaboratively and in a far more productive way.

Be sure to check out a swell site called Sales2.0: Next Generation Sales Tip & Sales Strategies and here is something to think about if you service your customer. If you stop selling and service them- you will open pandora’s box for new organic sales without the need of a sales process.


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Ask, Listen & Implement – Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For What You Want!

The big question this time of year is always – what do people want for Xmas? So riddle me this, why guess when you can ask?

In recent months I have observed the hesitancy from organizations to engage the Twitters of the world asking for the important answers they are looking for. Like it is a sign of weakness to ask your peers to offer their solicited guidance and opinion? Why?

I recently needed a date for a holiday party. So I Tweeted it out! The next thing I knew, my virtual friends created a #derekneedsadate hashtag and I ended up with a lovely date for the party. Ask and ye shall receive, much like asking what do people want for the holidays?

So with this information in mind, here are three business area’s an organization or brand can ask for advice- and no it is not exposing a chink in the armor- it is simply smart. Good practice because the many probably knows more then you. Proven fact!

  1. Vendor selection – If you are a business and need an external vendor, do your due diligence on the vendor. One step is to ask your peers their experience with the vendor. These are invaluable insights that can help you make an educated decision.
  2. Product Roadmap – What is amazing to me is that organizations don’t spend this time of the year asking their customers what the product roadmap should look like in the coming year. Your customers will be incredibly impressed if you ask, listen and implement. Make it so number one! Yes, I inserted a cheese Star Trek reference in there!
  3. 3. Competitive Intelligence – For those prospectus customers that are not currently using your service- ask them why. This can be simply done via the many Twitter tools and Facebook tactics (a post for another day) that will result in invaluable feedback. You can guess, but getting the answer from the horse’s mouth has never been easier. It never hurts to ask! But if you do, remember to ask, listen and implement

Happy holidays! Be sure to use this time of the year to simply breath, reflect and value the amazing people you have in your life. I started this post off talking about presents, but we all know that is not what this time of the year is about. So this is my plug to urge you to go bowling with Dad, watch a movie with Mom and enjoy the loved ones in your life.
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3 “Must Items” To Consider Before Engaging Socially

I had dinner with Rachel Happe from The Community Roundtable. Our conversation about Community Management reminded me of22clibgdmbsssi2214ng-ladder2478 a recent conversation I had, with a would be prospect, about their plan. The plan? Launch 6 communities by years-end and 20 more social communities by the end of 2010. My question is, how many resources do you have, and who are going to be the community managers? The response- “one community manager and we will build the communities ourselves!” I turned down the offer to be their consultant. Even after I told them they would fail due to lack of resources, they still felt like their plan was the right plan of attack! To me, it didn’t matter how much strategy or best practices I give them, their apparent lack of knowledge was going to be their downfall.

After speaking with Rachel, I came to the conclusion that before any company engages socially they need to do 3 things:

  1. 1. Read, read, read! Read the blog rolls on this blog and the blog roll on The Community Roundtable. Pick up a copy of Groundswell and Trust Agents. So many companies know they need to engage socially, yet they run before they crawl. It is great to think big, but think about it smart. After reading and arming yourself with knowledge from people who have had success engaging socially, you will find the need for the right resources!
  2. 2. Identify Resources My last post talked about finding tech savvy extroverts to lead the cause. Chances are you will have to go out from your walls to find the right community manager. There are resources to find and hire the right person. And please, please…don’t make a community manager be the manager of anymore than 3 communities. The fewer the better they will perform. Trust me! Also, make sure your community manager stays hungry for knowledge and join communities like the Community Roundtable and RSS thought leaders to keep being challenged.
  3. 3. Be unique! The best social initiatives have thrived because they are unique, dominate a niche and add value to their members and participants. Please don’t copy what another company has done. Find a way to be creative. Have a brainstorming session over drinks…yes I am suggesting to have fun creating your companies plan! Many times getting out of the office will kick start the creativity. I don’t know about you, but a pub and good eats is a far more creative environment then florescent lights!

If you are thinking about engaging socially (don’t think you are late, this is the beginning of a 10 year upswing), I hope this post helps you kick off right. Remember, it is great to think big, but be sure to listen. Don’t think about the company’s ultimate goals and achieving them yesterday. Think big, start small, create a unique (fun), valuable and scalable plan! Then execute! As always, I am available to work with you to create  your strategy, just don’t expect me to agree if you decide to build 26 communities in 12 months with 1 community manager! 🙂
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14 WordPress.org Plugins That Make Sense & Simply Work

wordpressOver the last few months I have had the pleasure of working on the Authority Domains blog, which is hosted by us. We use WordPress.org. I have had a number of messages asking me which plugins to use. With there be literally hundreds to choose from, many that have the same functionality, it can be hard to choose. The following list are the ones we have had luck with. Frankly, it was all trial and error. Some plugins work better with certain templates. So remember, these plugins work great with our template, but may not work as splendid with yours.

NOTE: Be sure to update to the latest version of WordPress before installing any of these plugins!

Adsense-Deluxe
Place Google AdSense ads in your WordPress Posts. For complete usage and configuration click on AdsenseDeluxe under the “Options” menu. By Acme Technologies.

Akismet
Akismet checks your comments against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam or not. You need a WordPress.com API key to use it. You can review the spam it catches under “Comments.” It simply works. See also: WP Stats plugin. By Matt Mullenweg.

All in One SEO Pack
Out-of-the-box SEO for your WordPress blog. Options configuration panel As far as I am concerned, this is a must have!
By Michael Torbert.

FeedBurner FeedSmith
By FeedBurner.

Google Analytics
Adds Google analytics to your blog, with all sorts of advanced tracking toys enabled. By Denis de Bernardy. You will need to have a Google email addy to use this. Yep- it is free.

Gregarious
A solid social bookmarking plugin. We aren;t currently using it, but it might work for your needs. Try it out! By Ankur Kothari.

Popular Posts
Displays a highly configurable list of the most popular posts. It helps you keep the spotlight on the most popular posts from your readers. Requires the latest version of the Post-Plugin Library to be installed. By Rob Marsh, SJ.

ShareThis
The ShareThis WordPress plugin provides a simple way for users to add your post to many social bookmarking sites, or to send a link to your post via email, AIM, Facebook, Twitter and more. To check out the ShareThis plugin for WordPress, visit: http://sharethis.com/wordpress

StumbleUpon It!
Easy plugin that allows your visitors to submit your blog posts to StumbleUpon.com. By Andrew dela Serna.

Subscribe To Comments
Allows readers to receive notifications of new comments that are posted to an entry. This makes your blog sticky!  Based on version 1 from Scriptygoddess By Mark Jaquith.

TweetMeme
The TweetMeme button easily allows your blog to be retweeted (RT). The button also provides a current count of how many times your story has been retweeted throughout twitter.

WordPress.com Stats
Tracks views, post/page views, referrers, and clicks. Requires a WordPress.com API key. By Andy Skelton.

WordPress Database Backup
On-demand backup of your WordPress database. You will be happy you add this! By Austin Matzko.

WP-ContactForm
Need a contact form? WP Contact Form is a “drop in” form for your readers to contact you. It can be implemented on a page or a post alike.

“How to” Install Plugins

  1. Download plugin and save to your computer.
  2. Open the zipped folder.
  3. Click “extract all files”
  4. Upload files or folder to “wp-content/plugins” on your “remote server” via FTP on FileZilla.
  5. In WordPress Dashboard, click on “Plugins”
  6. Click on “Activate” to enable each plugin.
  7. Follow any specific instructions on how to use each plugin (this is important).

I tried to give credit to the original creators of these plugins, so to give credit where credit is due- I want to hear your favorite plugins. Have at it in the comments section. I hope this blog helped provide a beacon of direction in a world overrun with a great many useless WordPress plugins.

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5 Fantastic Firefox Add-On’s For Social Media & SEO Folks!

A number of conversations of late have turned up the need to outline some valuable Firefox Add-ons. I did an impromptu poll and found 8 out of 10 polled browse via Firefox, while only 3 out of 10 have actually ever installed an add-on in Firefox.

So with that, here are 5 quick add-on’s for Social Media and SEO folks. Trust me; they will make your life easier.

1. ShareThis – I have sung the praises of Share This on this outlet on numerous occasions. The Firefox add-on will allow you to share any indexing page in numerous Social channels with the simple click of a button. The button stations itself to the right of your URL bar in Firefox. I use and abuse it!

2. Alexa Sparky– Say what you will about Alexa! Some say it is not completely accurate. That could be true, but I have found that when you drive your Alexa rankings down (Remember lower the better. For example this blog is ranked in the 574,000 range- while Facebook is ranked #4) you business will see a direct correlation of activities in a positive manner. For being a free service it is a great tool to give you an idea of how your web presence is doing. As for the add-on, it gives me insight right out of the gate about a website and how that business is really doing in terms of exposure.

alexa

3. NoDoFollow – Download the add-on, click on Tools and scroll down to NoDoFollow and you can see any Do follow link in grey/blue, while all NoFollow links are in red. This is valuable at seeing if your links are being tracked by Google and Bing. Keep in mind to scroll over all links in grey/blue and look at the lower left hand corner of the Firefox screen to make sure the URL is pointed to an external link. For example, when you hover your icon over a DoFollow link in Facebook, you will see it is pointing to another Facebook page- not the external link you would hope. Facebook and Twitter are virtual nonentities in the SEO world. They are however great for exposure, so don’t not use them because they can’t create in-links!

NoDoFollow

4. FireShot – Sharing is caring. Well this takes screen shot sharing to a whole new level. It has robust functionality and you can pay for it. But really…why? The free version allows you to quickly take screenshots and upload them to easycaptures.com. You can edit it and add captions incredibly easy. This is huge for Social Media reporting, PowerPoint presentations and it is..well…fun!

fireshot

5. Hyperwords – This is a stellar add-on for research or to keep up on a topic based on #keyword. It adds an option to the mouse right click that will allow you to find more information related to the keyword that is important to you. For example, if you are reading an article and you would like to see Wikipedia entry for Mr. Met, highlight the word and right click, go to references and click on Wikipedia. Viola, everything you would want to know about the NY Mets mascot!

hyperwords

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Julie & Julia Is A Social Media Success Story & A Banana Split Life Lesson

banansplitLet me preface this post by saying this might be the only time I will reference a book/movie on this blog that is not a Sci-Fi. Yes, I am a complete nerd- proud of it! “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!”

There are two lessons I took from Julie & Julia.

Julie & Julia is a case study of Social Media success. The premise of the movie is a very ordinary gal (Julie Powell) has a really tough job post-9/11. She feels nothing in her life because this job is so unrewarding, yet she has everything. When her and her husband came up with the idea to cook over 500 recipes out of Julia Childs cook book in 365 days is when her life starts to fly. She blogs her experience and her diligence to the blog paves the way to many doors opening for her. The lesson for the Social Media world? Being diligent about original content daily is the recipe for success! So much so that Julie Powell opened the doors to a writing career just from taking an ambitious idea, sticking to it and making it a reality. It all culminated with the release of her book and the movie adaptation. The business world should take note and figure out who their Julie Powell is, and what is the idea they are going to stick to what will the business drivers be? Lastly, purchase the book or the movie (when it is out on DVD) and give it to anyone with your office walls who you could call a Social Media naysayer.

Do what you love! The message of the movie was to follow your passion! It wasn’t until Julie Childs indulged herself in French cuisine that she was able to find out about her love of food. Nor did she realize she loved cooking until she abandoned her government job in favor of her passion. Same deal with Julie Powell- her career path was a miserable dead end until she did something about it. Today she has a published book and a movie about her book starring Meryl Streep. Not bad for taking a lead of faith with a pinch of passion! What does this have to do with Social Media? Probably nothing! If anything it is a reminder that this is life- your life! You have one shot at it and it is probably much too short to be spent doing something not fulfilling. Maybe it is because I recently turned 35 and have started thinking about mortality. Or maybe it is because I talk to so many people who seem “vanilla” in their careers. Not the kind of stuff that as a kid they would have ever envisioned themselves doing as an adult. As a kid, most of us envision life as a banana split with many flavors and toppings! So make the banana split! Julie & Julia did!

Thanks for taking this route off the beaten path with me. Sometimes new adventures are in order to keep the insightful engine tuned up and kicking ass!

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Video: James Cameron’s Avatar Uses Viral Marketing Perfectly-Update

James Cameron’s Avatar has been abuzz for months now as the movie that will change cinema and push in the 3D age. With the movie being released on December 18th, I was curious to see how the marketing blitz would play out. Ultimately, the goal of the martketing department is to get websites like Aintitcool and and Rotten Tomatoes to take notice as soon as possible. Especially with rumors persisting that the price tag of this movie is like no other.

This morning I was incredibly excited to see the official trailer for the movie. So I went to AintItCool to see the new move stills and was suprised to see the trailer already posted. So I watched… (UPDATE 6/25/09) It would appear they took down the viral video after the launch of the trailer. So here is the disappointing CGI one. I liked the silly viral one better:

I would say the Avatar marketing people succeeded in creating something fun that will stir the pot and will be shared repeatedly in the coming days. The beautiful thing, something like this costs very little and your brand can do it today and get noticed by more eyes then traditional marketing avenues.

In all seriousness, the cool factor of this movie is high. Check out one of the creatures from the film.

avatar-creature

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