Author Archives: Yafit Davis

Being distinctive makes brands memorable

I mentioned the Choice Factory in my last Blog, which covered first impressions. This time I wanted to use this helpful book to discuss the detail of making the right first impression, ensuring your brand is not only memorable but also engaging, which is key to creating lasting relationships.

In his book, Richard Shotton says, ‘Your task is to identify the formulaic rules of behaviour in the category you work in and subvert them.’ He provides an example from the comparison sites world, where up to 2008, all companies focused on their functional benefits, such as how many insurers are compared and how much money they have saved consumers. These in themselves were important factors but created no real reason to use one comparison site over the other.

Then in January 2009, Comparethemarket.com used a more emotional route by creating the meerkat, Alexander Orlov, who was depicted as the eccentric owner of the company. As a result of using this approach, quote volume went up by 83% and the company achieved their entire 12 months’ objectives in just 9 weeks.  This was all down to their brand becoming a lot more memorable and relatable for consumers. As Shotton concludes, ‘Distinctiveness paid’.

The evidence proving that distinctive is memorable is compelling and supported by many behavioural studies over the years but still we see little evidence to many brands breaking convention. The two main reasons for that are:

  1. Companies rarely look outside of their own processes let alone outside of their industry. This results in many managers being reluctant to change their proven and tested approach. It also means that often, boards make decisions based on wanting to do what everyone else in the industry is already doing.
  2. Making a decision to break ranks and do something completely different, carries a big risk. If the approach fails, it lacks the safety in numbers or the support of a proven method. Many decision makers therefore tend to avoid this for reasons of self-preservation.

I think it is important to say that I am not suggesting that companies go out of their way to be different for the sake of being different. Sticking to your Brand culture, vision and values is very important and must be taken into account when planning a new approach. It is also important to consider other elements such as:

  • Your target markets and their views on your potential approach
  • The way you are portrayed in the marketplace
  • The products you intend to promote

Creating a successful lead generation campaign depends on many factors and achieving just one will not necessarily be enough. Standing out against the competition and getting the attention of your target market is an important element, but it has to fit in with an overall strategy.

At YBDT we are currently offering a free strategy workshop to support your next lead generation campaign. 2020 is soon drawing to a close making Q4 an important one to generate new sales revenue. Get in touch with us to book your session.

First impressions matter but they are only the start…

I am currently reading a great marketing book by Richard Shotton called The Choice Factory. In it, he talks about research into first impressions and how important they are to get right. Through examining behaviour research, Shotton develops the well-known phrase, “First impressions matter,” to explain that Brands are often associated with one characteristic which colours the rest of the beliefs consumers hold about them. The reason first impressions are so important, is because they often form the initial belief which then affects our relationship with the Brand forever.

The way I see it is, if we create a bad impression, we can put a prospect off our company for life but if we create a good impression, it is only the start of the relationship. As a Sales Director, you need to ensure that:

  • You and your team always create a good impression when you speak with a new prospect
  • Once you have had an initial conversation you need to follow it up in an appropriate way

The first action above is important to all businesses across all industries and requires planning, processes and training. The second action, however, is particularly important to companies who sell high value services and products. This is because the length and complexity of the sales process have a direct correlation to the cost and complexity of the product you sell.

If you are looking to grow your business in an effective manner, you need to develop a funnelling process which includes the following steps:

  1. Creating an initial interest = identifying leads
  2. Identifying interest and clarifying time scales= identifying prospects
  3. Following up and nurturing the prospects= converting to customers

Having worked with many clients to create leads and build a pipeline of prospects, we find that most companies struggle with the third stage and this is because the follow up process is difficult to define, control and manage. To improve this, we recommend that you consider the following elements:

  • Identify what you still need to find out about your prospect and take steps to close this gap. This can be done through looking at their website and LinkedIn profile or by speaking to the prospect directly using prepared questions.
  • Understand the prospect’s personality type and work out how to best communicate with them. You can read more about buying profiles in our previous Blog, here.
  • Agree a timeline for further communication and a point of purchase or review which you are aiming towards.
  • Break the process down into small goals that you plan for each communication point. Things like, finding out where the project is and understanding who else is involved; other ways in which you might be able to help can be useful steps in building a relationship.
  • Ensure that you are always checking if your contact is welcome and appropriate.
  • Push for a definitive answer where possible so you are not pursuing a false opportunity and inaccurately inflating your pipeline.

We hope this is helpful in supporting improved lead conversion and increased overall sales revenue. Having said that, creating the correct follow up process is not easy and most companies I come across get it wrong in some way.

As follow up is a big part of what we do, we have developed some good insights which we will be happy to share with you. Get in touch to discuss your specific requirements.

Post lockdown working environment: has the sales process changed forever?

As we are living in times of tremendous change and uncertainty, I thought I would look for a quote from Deepak Chopra, My favourite change and transformation man. Hope you like this one:

“Simply with a change of mind you can change your life.”

One of the big changes we have all had to adapt to in the workplace, is the lack of face to face meetings. As a result, most people are now used to managing their meetings on virtual platforms. In many ways this has been a revelation showing that travel can be reduced making our working week much more productive.

This change has had a big impact on the sales process, particularly for high value sales. Salespeople typically spend 2-3 days of their week on the road, networking and meeting prospects to build strong relationships and promote sales. Face to face communication is considered an important factor in most sales processes offering great opportunities to get to know people. The tactile feeling you get from having lunch with a client or visiting a prospect’s site is hard to duplicate online.

Another element that differentiates sales activity is that it is not necessarily meant to be productive from a tick box perspective. Whilst your salesperson might be working long hours and running around, a lot of what they do is prospective as that is the nature of the job, particularly if they are developing new business. Current limitations mean that most of this activity is either postponed or undertaken online and that takes getting used to.

A lot has been written about how to adapt your sale style to suit online meetings and I think it is important to spend some time reading and reflecting about this. Here are a few important elements to consider when preparing for a virtual sales meeting:

Preparation:

  1. Make sure you have a reliable Wi-Fi connection at your office
  2. Consider what people can see in the background
  3. Dress appropriately
  4. Do your research
  5. Prepare slides to manage the meeting
  6. Be clear on your goals

In the meeting itself:

  1. Always appear engaged, smile and nod
  2. Look at the people you are talking to
  3. Allow time for questions and feedback
  4. Agree next steps and book the next meeting

After the meeting:

  1. Email all information required
  2. Send the next meeting invitation
  3. Follow up with the key decision maker for their feedback
  4. Make sure you are all on the same page

Going back to the quote from Deepak Chopra, the most important thing to manage now is your sales team’s mindset. If you can maintain a ‘can do’ attitude, you will get better results quicker. I do not see the sales process changing forever but I do think that, in the post pandemic world, virtual meetings are going to be more popular so learning to manage them is time well spent.

Where do you see selling going in the near- and long-term future?

Just in case you need support with your sales operation, we have a new service designed to support your sales kickstart as you are bouncing back from lockdown. You can read more about it here then give us a call to arrange your free target market workshop to kickstart your sales strategy.

Are your salespeople up for the challenge?

You can always count on Brian Tracy to provide a good quote when it comes to sales success; how about this one, ‘Keep yourself positive, cheerful and goal orientated. Sales success is 80% attitude and only 20% aptitude.’

What I love about sales quotes, is that they make everything sound very simple and easy. In reality, achieving sales success can be hard work. I do agree with Brian Tracy that attitude and aptitude are the two main components to consider if you are looking to improve your sales success. Whilst there are many things to consider, these are the key elements in my opinion:

Attitude:

  • Poor attention to details: When it comes to new business, details are essential to progress the sale. Appearing too pushy, closing too soon, or trying to promote the wrong solution can all result in a sale not going ahead.
  • Lack of empathy: A successful sales process must include developing trust, and empathy is a big part of that.
  • Lack of enterprise: Working on business development tends to bring up challenges regularly which require rapid response and creativity. Note that sometime the problem can be related to your management style rather than your staff.
  • Lack of ambition: People who want a regular 9:00-5:00 job should not become salespeople. You want your team to have fire in their bellies, always looking to have more (money, training, responsibility, products, territory)

Aptitude:

  • Poor communication skills: This is not so much about verbal communication but about written communication and presentation style which can sometimes get in the way of a sale.
  • Lack of processes and systems: Boring as it might sound, a well-designed sales process can be the difference between success and failure. The more defined processes and clear systems you have, the easier it becomes for your sales team to focus on selling.
  • Lack of clear strategy: If you have not looked at your strategy in a while, please make sure you do. Without a strategy, progress will be slow and measurement almost impossible.
  • Lack of organisation skills: Keeping on top of a sales funnel and pipeline takes some organisation. Sales is one of those jobs where you need to multitask to ensure that you are always moving forward.

An important thing to remember is that aptitude is easier to train and fix, whilst changing someone’s attitude is harder. The thing with attitude is that it is forever changing; people can be fantastic sometimes and struggle at other times. This is particularly true when it comes to hard times and rapid change, both of which are very prevalent at the moment. If you are starting to bring your sales team back from furlough, you will need to make sure that you are paying attention to their frame of mind and attitude, ensuring you give them the right support.

What can you do to make this happen? Well, because we are a very helpful company, we decided to develop a new service designed to support your sales kickstart as you are bouncing back from lockdown. You can read more about it here then give us a call to arrange your free target market workshop to kickstart your sales strategy.

Turning on your sales might not be as easy as you think…

I think it is safe to say that we have all spent some time at home recently. Some people have been working from their home office, others were furloughed and might now be coming back to work. The government has been promoting their lockdown exit plan which is designed to move the economy forward and get us back to work where possible; this means different things to different people but in my world, it means that we all have to get back to selling.

The Global Customer Growth and Innovation Evangelist, Tiffani Bove rightly said that, ‘How you sell matters, what you process matters. But how your customers feel when they engage with you matters most’. This means that sales are difficult to just turn on because timing matters and makes the difference between failure and success. To engage with your target markets properly, you need to consider your approach, choose your messages, and build a campaign strategy, not to mention discussing this with your sales and marketing teams, providing training, updating your website, and creating marketing materials; the list goes on and on…

In other words, like most things, if you want to achieve success, your sales launch will need to be considered and planned and this will take time. The last thing you want is to come to a point where you find some great opportunities in the emerging market place but you are unable to go after them properly because you don’t have the right plan in place; especially as at the moment, many of us are time rich and cash poor.

What can you do to make this happen? Well, because we are a very helpful company, we decided to develop a new service designed to support your sales kickstart. You can read more about it here then give us a call to arrange your free target market workshop to kickstart your sales strategy.

Why is business development the next thing to look at?

Clear or not in terms of details, the Government’s new message is opening the possibility for more businesses to get back to work.  As the economy starts to move, you are likely to start considering your sales revenue again. A famous quote from the writer H. Jackson Brown JR said, ‘There is nothing more expensive than missed opportunities.’  Whilst it looks like business development and sales opportunities are hard to come by at the moment, sooner or later you will need to find ways of growing your pipeline again.

You might think that, whilst this is true, now is not the time to consider business development or sales as currently you are not even sure how you will get your staff back to the office. This is very true, but I am afraid that you might need to consider multi-tasking.  This is because turning your sales on in one swift move might prove challenging for a number of reasons:

  • Many new projects and pipeline opportunities might not be relevant or still on hold
  • Many of your existing clients might not be in a position to spend as much or at all
  • Your key product might not be relevant anymore and you will need to consider promoting other products
  • New business sales take longer to develop and require a period of nurturing and relationship building

Another problem you might find, particularly if you come to rely more on new business development, is that your sales staff can take time to get used to the new way of working especially if they have been furloughed for a few months. You may also need to consider a new sales process, sales collateral and marketing message.

In other words, like most things, if you want to achieve success, your sales launch will need to be considered and planned and this will take time. The last thing you want is to come to a point where you find some great opportunities in the emerging market place but you are unable to go after them properly because you don’t have the right plan in place; especially as at the moment, many of us are time rich and cash poor.

What can you do to make this happen? Well, because we are a very helpful company, we decided to develop a new service designed to support your sales kickstart. You can read more about it here then give us a call to arrange your free target market workshop to kickstart your sales strategy.

Crisis Lead Generation tips from YBDT, round two…

In the past few weeks since the UK has gone into Lock-down, we have been posting tips to help companies consider their marketing during the Coronavirus crisis. Here is a summary of the latest tips in case you missed them:

Tip # 5: Test and Measure

Once you are clear on your message and campaign tools, start experimenting to see how you get your message across best. This will ensure that you get a better return from your campaign. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Try a number of platforms to promote your message
  2. Segment your data and send smaller campaigns to see which get better engagement
  3. Try to use new tactics you have not used before

All of the above are great ways to test but the key thing is to measure your results carefully to ensure you understand what works best at the moment. One more thing to remember is to be realistic and give it time and some repetition to ensure you are being heard.

Tip # 6: Follow up, follow up, follow up

I hope that our previous tips have helped you put together a winning marketing campaign that is appropriate for the current climate. Our tip today relates to what you should do once the dust has settled behind your campaign. To ensure that you are maximising on your return, follow up with every lead you generated and keep following up until you get a definitive answer.

One of my favourite quotes demonstrating this is from Wanda Alan who wrote Follow Up Sales Strategies. She said that 80% of sales are made between the 5th and 12th contact, yet most salespeople only make three follow up calls or less. The numbers of contacts are irrelevant, what matters is that you make as many as it takes to get a definitive answer.

Against popular belief, prospects normally appreciate your follow up as long as it is done in a polite and appropriate manner. Timelines will depend on your product and sales cycle but I have been known to keep in touch with people for several years before they eventually became clients. Don’t give up, believe in your product and remember that you are talking to people who expressed an interest in your company.

Tip # 7: Identify your clients’ buying personas

Last week my tip was all about ensuring you follow up with your prospects until you get a definitive answer. If you have followed up on this advice, you might be feeling rather frustrated with some of your leads by now. This is why this week’s tip is all about making some sense of buying personas which in turn will help you follow up more effectively.

When I get frustrated with following up, I take a deep breath and remind myself of a piece of research undertaken by DISC which identified that only around 35% of the population make decisions quickly, the rest still like to take their time but, importantly, do make buying decisions eventually. To help you use this in practice, consider your prospects’ buying decision, of which there are four:

  1. The Decisive: These buyers have a clear picture in their mind of what results they want. They value rapid action so will typically make quick decisions if they feel your solution is right.
  2. The Interactive: These buyers want to shape events and enjoy “getting their way” when it comes to negotiations or buying something. They typically make quick buying decision particularly when they feel a sense of connection with you.
  3. The Stabiliser. These buyers are more passive and introverted and interested in the how and why of a solution. Their primary interests are in maintaining stability so prefer to “take their time” and weigh up all options and outcomes before making a decision.
  4. The Conscientious: These buyers are also more passive and introverted. They too take a much more detailed and accuracy-based approach to their buying habits. Without sufficient data to prove any statements made to them, you will fail to achieve their buy-in.

Now you are aware, I suggest that you take some time considering your pipeline opportunities and dividing them up into buying personas where possible. This will really help with setting expectations and probable timelines. It might even help you to get rid of some dead horses too.

I hope this is helpful to your current thinking. As always, I am happy to have a chat and share the insights we are gathering from the campaigns we are running for clients at the moment.

Crisis Lead Generation tips from YBDT

In the past few weeks since the UK has gone into Lock-down, we have been posting tips to help companies consider their marketing during the Coronavirus crisis. Here is a summary of the latest tips in case you missed them:

Tip #1: DON’T STOP YOUR MARKETING ACTIVITIES

As part of ‘doing my bit’ in the current crisis, I have decided to share some daily insights and tips to help your thinking and plans regarding marketing. My first tip is simply to keep your marketing communication channels open.

 I know that everyone is looking at cutting costs and stopping your marketing can be very tempting in this context. However, I think it is useful to remember two things:

  1. If you want to carry on trading, you need to let people know you are working and able to support them still.
  2. This is a time-bound situation, whilst we don’t know how long it will last, we know it will finish. Trust me, once this happens you will want to have a sales pipeline.

Tip #2: FIND YOUR PARTICULAR CRISIS MESSAGE

I see a lot of online conversations about whether you should mention Covid 19 in your marketing content or not. In my opinion, the crisis is so whole-consuming that you have to make reference to it. That said, you will need to find your own voice and decide how you approach it. A few examples I liked today:

  1. Our client, Sentinel Group Security are looking at ways of supporting front line organisations free of charge
  2. My colleague, Adam Young from Fine Young Films, offering a home-made video editing service
  3. Here is our special offer to support companies in the transition to remote working: https://www.yourbizdevteam.co.uk/telephone-services.php

Tip #3: SET SOFTER TARGETS TO YOUR LEAD GENERATION CAMPAIGNS

I often have to manage my clients’ expectations at the best of times let alone in the middle of an unprecedented crisis. Most companies are not in a position to make any purchases right now. This does not mean you should stop all lead gen activities and focus on existing business only. Ask yourself two questions:

  • What can you do which is relevant and helpful right now?
  • Who will benefit most?

There is nothing wrong with offering free of charge or reduced cost services in the spirit of supporting each other. Make sure it is done strategically and within a framework you are happy to support. Then let your prospective clients know what you are doing and target your team to start some useful conversations with new prospects they have not spoken to before.

To let you in on a professional secret, this kind of target is a good one to have anytime. in my experience, all sales start with a useful conversation so make sure you are having lost of them now. This will definitely put you in a better place to develop new business when we are back to normal trading again.

Tip #4CHOOSE THE RIGHT MARKETING TOOLS TO SUPPORT YOUR MESSAGE

If you are looking at running some marketing campaigns at the moment, choosing the right tools to support your message is very important. I have already recommended here that you have a specific approach and message which is relevant to the situation. As part of this process, you will have decided who will be your target markets for this which puts you in the right place to choose your tools.

I am not suggesting that you have to choose one marketing tool only; you can run a number of campaigns using different tools and tactics. In many ways the tools and tactics you use are all relevant as long as they appeal to your target markets and convey your message correctly. Have I managed to confuse you yet?

Here are a few examples to make my point clearer:

  1. If your marketing message is all about reassuring your clients that you are here to support them and still open for business, you may want to choose a personal email with a telephone follow up. This will help you to convey a more personal message aimed at companies with whom you have an established relationship. You will also gain invaluable information through speaking to your clients and understanding their main challenges.
  2. If you are running a webinar to provide business support to companies which is open to all companies in a specific industry, you are better off using Social Media, and LinkedIn in particular, to appeal to decision makers in the relevant industry.

I hope this is helpful to your current thinking. As always, I am happy to have a chat and share the insights we are gathering from the campaigns we are running for clients at the moment.

About Social Distancing and marketing

The current situation we find ourselves in reminds me of a famous quote from Albert Einstein: ‘The measure of intelligence is the ability to change’. One of the proofs to this is the use of the new term, Social Distancing. A few weeks ago, none of us really knew what it meant. Today we are already looking at how we can improve our productivity working from home and considering how we can run effective meetings online. Moreover, if you key ‘Social Distancing’ into Google you get a whole load of great images you can use in your blogs and articles.

I am not making light of the situation; it is a worrying time to many of us whilst we struggle to make sense of it all. When we hit stressful and unknown times in business, decision makers tend to respond in two different ways:

  1. Looking at the situation in the short-term context and evaluating what is best for their company in this light.
  2. Looking at the situation in the long-term context and evaluating what is best for their company in this light. 

The first group will generally put a stop to any expense which they view the business can survive without at the present time whereas the second group will want to stick to business as usual as much as possible. I believe that at the moment the answer is somewhere in the middle, which might sound confusing but is probably the best way to look at things. 

We are already seeing many examples of cancelations and delays in expected contracts and orders. The easiest thing would be to make panic decisions. I try to look at the detail and context to help me make sense of it all. Consider the following:

  1. Is your industry or any of your clients’ industries directly affected by current or future limitations imposed?
  2. Can you approach your clients in a pro-active way to see how you can work through the situation in a way that is beneficial to all?
  3. Are there any new/ updated services you can offer which might be more helpful at the current state of affairs?

Once you are clear if you can carry on working, with whom and what is your ‘best Covid 19 slant’ you can then decide what taps you must shut and what taps you should keep going. 

Before I end this blog, I wanted to remind you that lead generation is a tap you should consider keeping open. There are two main reasons for this:

  1. When there are less available opportunities to do business, you need to cast your net wider and tap into additional opportunities.
  2. This situation is not going to last forever and stopping your lead generation would mean you will have a much bigger hole to climb out of then.

I hope this is helpful even if only as a moment of distraction from the doom and gloom.  Please don’t hesitate to get in touch and discuss your options.

New leads versus new sales what is the difference?

To some of you it may seem a rather obvious thing to say but a lead and a sale are two different things and accordingly need different treatment. I often come across businesses confusing the two and ending up losing a good lead that could have turned into a sale or spending too much time working on an unqualified lead because they thought they had a sale they didn’t!

A lead may eventually turn in to a sale but there is a process it needs to go through to get there.

Typically, you communicate to leads en masse, a lead could be a contact on a bought list, a card you picked up from a networking event, referrals, respondents to advertising/social media campaigns or someone who has filled out a contact from on your website.

Trying to sell to a lead too early can lose you a potential sale. For example, collecting business cards at a networking event then going back to your office and contacting them as if you have spoken to them and know them and their needs and trying to sell to them is a big no no! 

The simple but necessary process to turn a lead in to a sale means your leads become prospects, which can be turned into an opportunity and then finally closed in to a sale. Below is a brief outline of what needs to be done at each stage:

  1. Leads need to be treated with a care and respect, they need to be nurtured. You need to communicate with the lead on a one to one basis and encourage them to engage with you so you can learn more about them. You can do this with e-mails or telemarketing for example. If a lead engages in two-way communication this suggests they have real potential to buy from you. The lead then becomes a prospect. 
  2. A prospect has the potential to become an opportunity, to make a sale. So next you need to determine if they have a challenge you can help with and whether your product can bring them any value. Therefore, when handling a prospect you need to determine 
  • How much do they know about your product/service?
  • What do you know about their specific challenges?
  • What do they understand about how your product/service could help them?
  • Do they have a budget?
  • Would they appreciate a proposal?

If a prospect decides to consider your proposal or solution to their challenge they become an opportunity and are one step closer to becoming a new sale and a new client. An opportunity is a qualified prospect you have made a detailed proposal to with a specific cost. If the opportunity you present is accepted and agreed you now have a SALE and a new client. Now is the time to start providing them with your product/service!

So, in summary leads, prospects, opportunities and sales are all different but all part of the same process. It is important to differentiate between the stages so you can make sure your marketing and sales strategy is doing the right thing at the right time! If you would like help understanding the stages and developing your sales process please get in touch with Your Business Development Team. We are here to help and be a part of your team. It’s what we do! E-mail me at yafit@yourbizdevteam.co.uk