Staying On Track: How Well Are You Monitoring Your Business?

It’s never easy being a business owner. For one thing, you’re under a great deal of pressure from just about everyone. Not only that but you’re expected to be able to handle just about every problem that comes up. The other main thing that many business owners struggle with is the feeling that they need to be everywhere at once. It can often feel as though because you have something of a bird’s eye view of your business, you should be aware of absolutely everything all at once. It hardly takes a genius to realize that this is a massive overstatement of what a business owner is actually capable of. After all, you’re only human and have all of the same limitations as anyone else. However, there are things that always need your attention, not to mention things that can make it a whole lot easier to manage those things.

 

Your IT

 

IT is something that has been slowly becoming more and more important for just about every business over the last two decades. It’s now reached the point that, if your business doesn’t have some kind of digital component then it’s probably incredibly outdated and doomed to fail. Of course, when something is as important and multifaceted as it, it can be very hard to make sense of and manage. A dedicated piece of IT asset management software can make the entire process a whole lot easier. Rather than having to deal with everything personally, having a piece of software handle it can free up your time to cover other, equally important things.

 

Your Employees

If there’s one mistake that a lot of business owners make over just about any other, it’s the fact that they don’t pay close enough attention to their employees. They assume that just because they get a steady paycheck at the end of the month, that that’s enough to keep them happy and motivated. However, this simply isn’t the case. You should be paying more attention to the condition of your employees as well as their levels of motivation and engagement with their work. Not only that but you should be willing to adjust elements of your business in order to help them feel more closely connected to both you and the business as a whole.

 

Your Bottom Line

Let’s face it when it comes to business, money matters. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that it’s the most important aspect of any business no matter what. Whether or not this is true is somewhat irrelevant. The important thing is that you never fail to pay close attention to your bottom line and to make sure that your business is actually making the kind of money that you want it to. If you have the means to do it, you may even want to hire an accountant to take care of some of that stuff for you, allowing you to focus your energy on parts of the company where you may have more interest and experience overall.

Pitch Them an Offer They Can’t Refuse

The sales pitch is enough to strike fear into the heart of many professionals, but it it does play an essential role in the sales cycle, and therefore it simply cannot be avoided.

If you have been tasked with presenting a sales pitch in the near future, and you want it to be one of the best yet, you need to pitch them an offer they can’t refuse, and here’s how you do that:

 

Don’t Make It Too Sale-speaky

Making it really obvious that you’re trying to sell someone something, even when they know that’s why you’re there really, is a big no-no. Sales talk is a bigger turnoff than showing up to a first date wearing nothing but a lime green Mankini – it just doesn’t work – which is why you should avoid being pushy or overselling the product. Just make a brief introduction and let the client lead with the questions. That way, any information you give will be welcome, and you won’t look like a bullying double-glazing salesman.

 

Drop a Killer Hook

Every sales pitch should lead with a killer hook, whether you’re pitching in person, on social media or via email. This should be one sentence that sums up the benefits of the product or service you’re selling, using language that fires the client up and leaves them wanting more. It has to be an attention grabber, or they’ll be bored and uninterested before you ever really get started.

 

Bling Up Your Presentation

 

PowerPoint presentations are undeniably useful in getting information across quickly, but they’re often very dull. So, if you must use one, you should consider paying for professional presentation design, which will make your PowerPoint show look good, which in turn will keep the client’s attention and make a great first impression. It might not be fair, but boring pitches, no matter how solid the product they’re selling are rejected much more than interesting ones, even when the products are comparable.

 

Offer a Solution

If there’s one thing that will make clients sit up and pay attention, it’s offering them a solution to a problem they’ve been struggling with. That’s why it’s never a bad idea to focus your pitch on what the product can to help a company on a daily basis. This adds value and therefore is a better bet than something which may or may not make a difference.

 

Have the Figures to Hand

 

If dragon’s Den has taught us anything, it’s that you need to be able to back up your claims with figures, particularly when you’re pitching for B2B sales. If a client isn’t absolutely sure that what you’re telling them has some basis in fact, they’re not going to buy, no matter how good the rest of your pitch was. They need reliability, and they won’t get that from you if you come empty-handed.

 

Follow Up

Finally, you should always follow up with your client after making a pitch. Business men and women are busy, so even if they’re interested in something, they might not get around to signing a deal for some time. If you don’t get back in touch, they could forget about you completely, and all your work would be for naught! Give them a call or send an email and you may be pleasantly surprised.

 

Tactics That Will Help You Dominate Google

For years, Google has dominated the online marketing industry without as much as a backward glance. Even in 2017, the search engine giant is making changes to its functions to monopolise more power. Although this fact might make you think Google is going to have more power over you, that isn’t the case. Indeed, you can use the new modifications to dominate Google and become a marketing master. It isn’t easy, but it is possible thanks to the following tips. Implement these into your strategy, and you’ll be all over the electronic front pages.

Play The Long Game

The irony of becoming a Google master in the here and now is that it takes decades. There isn’t a quick fix, and the reason is simple: Google ranks age over beauty. Sure, you can tweak your site so that it is aesthetically astounding, but the G-dawg doesn’t care. What it does care about is the quality of your links, content, and the indexed age. Without these three components, your strategy won’t gather any traction whatsoever. The bad news is that it takes years to come to fruition, but if you start now you will get there quicker.

Content Is King

Scratch that because it should read ‘content is and always will be king.’ Some things evolve over time, as you would expect, and content is no different. However, what won’t change for a very long time is its importance in SERP. Simply put, Google trusts content more than anything else, and trust is a major player in its current algorithm. Now, the written word might not have the same impact as it once did, but they are other forms of content. Online video is the current king and one you should use to your advantage with short vines and social media links.

Experts Over Beginners

When all’s said and done, the algorithm that searches ranks sites wants quality over quantity. Obviously, this shouldn’t come as a big surprise because quality has always been the main man. However, some people don’t do the right things when it comes to producing quality throughout their site. What does this mean? It means you opt for beginners over professionals. Whether you need search engine optimisation experts or web design experts, you shouldn’t compromise. Okay, they are more expensive, but they the tricks of the trade. You, on the other hand, are only guessing and hoping you get it right.

Keywords, But Not Too Many

To rank highly, you will find it tempting to stuff your content with keywords. Although this seems like a valid option, it isn’t because of Penguin. Penguin is Google’s spam filter that finds sites with too many keywords and phrases and penalises SERP. Instead, you want to use them sparingly along with LSIs. That stands for Latent Semantic Indexing, and it ranks content which uses words and phrases that have close matches.

In layman’s terms, it’s a loophole in the system. But, it is something that Google doesn’t punish, so it’s fair game.

 

The Top 8 B2B Customer Marketing Trends in 2017 (Infographic)

In a survey of 202 respondents, primarily composing of B2B and hybrid B2B companies, Influtive and Konye Marketing discovered that customer marketing has become an integral marketing strategy and that it is on the rise. Businesses are no longer solely focused on bringing new customers – they are trying to retain existing consumers of their business.

Their research report “The State of Customer Marketing 2017” states that 93% of these organizations expect that their customer marketing efforts will take on greater importance, and 62% will increase their staff or budgets in the area for 2017. With only 61% of them satisfied with the results of their current customer marketing efforts, there is a great chance of growth in the customer marketing arena.

Here are 8 customer marketing trends that are likely to transpire in 2017, and in the coming years.

Download this infographic.

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Why You Need To Create A Business Plan ASAP

Not every business needs a business plan. Many successful businesses have started and thrived without one. However, if you can take the time to create one, you can enjoy many benefits. Here’s why you need to create a business plan ASAP:

Stay Focused On Your Goals
A business plan will help you to stay more focused on your goals, as you outline everything here to do with your business, including plans for the future. Things will be chaotic in the beginning, which is why having something like this can be really helpful.

Agree On A Vision With Your Business Partner
You’re going to need to make sure you and your business partner agree on a vision for the company. After all, having different visions for your company is only going to cause problems in the long run. Having things like things written down can help you to avoid conflict later on.

Have All Of Your Important Information In One Place
Having all of your business information in one place will be really helpful, not only to you but to investors. You should have everything in here, from how you plan to secure funding, to paying that funding back and even exit strategies.

europeana_business_plan_2017_workshop___europeana_business_p___flickr

Find It Easier To Secure Funding
Whether you need lots of money or a small business loan, having a business plan can help with this. It won’t only be helpful to you, but to investors. When investors see that you have your head wrapped around your business and know exactly what you’re doing, they’ll have far more confidence in you.

Sell Your Business Later On If You Want To
There may come a time later on where you want to sell your business. You might not think it now, but it does happen. Having a detailed business plan can help you to do this.

Balance Out Your Emotions
As things are going to be pretty chaotic and stressful, especially at the beginning, your business plan can help you to take a step back and regroup. You’ll be able to see that everything you’re doing really does make sense. Of course you can also have a great network of family and friends around you, but a business plan will have all of the facts to keep you going.

Avoid Big Mistakes
Avoiding big mistakes is crucial. How would you feel if you started your business, only to realize you were pretty much doomed from the start? This does happen sometimes! A business plan allows you to iron things out and get a better handle on things, so big mistakes can be avoided. Of course you can’t expect your entire entrepreneurial life to be mistake free. As long as they’re not too serious, just learn from them and move on!

Now you should see why it’s crucial you make a business plan ASAP. It really will help you to stay focused, keep moving forward, and secure the things for your business that you really need. If you have any thoughts and comments you’d like to add, make sure you leave them below. See you again soon!

Social Sellers VS. Non-Social Sellers [Infographic] – New Research

Original Post – Sales For Life 

We asked over 500 sales, marketing and sales enablement professionals: who gets the better ROI when it comes to volume of new customers and hitting revenue goals—social sellers or non-social sellers?

The results from our State of Digital Sales Survey 2017 gave some unique insight into some of the priorities and challenges of sales leaders today, as well as some of the benefits of implementing a long-term social strategy.

Here are what sales executives in small and large companies are saying:

  • The majority of sales leaders (71%) said their top priority in the next 12 months was converting contacts/leads into customers.
  • The top challenge for sales leaders today was a close tie between lead generation (55%), and conversion rates/speed (54%).
  • Companies that consistently do social selling see 65% faster volume of leads, compared to 47% of those companies that do random, or inconsistent, acts of social.

How to make #SocialSelling work for your organisation

I recently had the opportunity to work with Network Sunday and spent some time talking with Tim Bond, the companies CEO, resulting in a white paper that will guide organisations to the benefits of social selling.

Here are some highlights, followed by the white paper in full, hosted on slideshare.

In 2015 the questions being raised were:

What is social selling? Why aren’t more sales people selling this way? How do we implement it?

Today (October 2016) there is a general consensus that the buyer / seller dynamic has changed and sales people who practice social selling outperform their peers. Clearly organisations now face a new hurdle: ADOPTION

Social selling for Organisations from Ben Martin Social_Ben

 

Ultimate Guidelines For Super Successful Online Business Copywriting

Anyone can write, right? Well, a quick look around the web and you will soon find that this just isn’t the case. Every day I see examples of terrible copywriting on the websites of both small business and global corporations.

The trouble is that the words you use make a big difference to your chances of success. There are no excuses for poor copy that is grammatically incorrect, or that doesn’t compel the reader into taking action. And the truth is that you will lose sales, scare off customers, and fail to get your core message across.

So, do you think it is time to take the words you use for your business more seriously? If so, read on. I’ve put together these ultimate guidelines to creating fantastic copy that will make a huge difference to your sales.

We’re going to go through everything from why you should focus on the benefits of your product to understanding your audience. Let’s get started right away.

Who you are talking to?

First of all, who is your audience? If you don’t know, how can you possibly communicate with them? Establish an ideal consumer – the average person who visits your website, for example.

Who are they, where do they live, and what do they do for a living? How old are they? What are their interests, and what excites them? What other products and services do they buy? The more details you can draw from your customers, the better.

It will help you begin writing for that ideal customer every time you put pen to paper. You can target every word to appealing to them, and make every last sentence relevant.

How do you give them value?

Another critical fact to establish is understanding the value you offer your customer. If you don’t know why people buy from you, it won’t be long before you start struggling in the sales department.

So, have a good think about your value proposition. What differentiates you from the competition? Do you do things faster, cheaper, or better? If so, how? Understanding the value you give will hand you the opportunity to create convincing copywriting.

It also gives you an upper hand against your competitors. If you know you can deliver a pizza within fifteen minutes, for example, then you need to be shouting about it from the rooftops. You will automatically become the pizza delivery company of choice for anyone that needs feeding, fast!

What is the purpose of your writing?

Another big issue I see in copywriting online and off is irrelevance. It might be a blog post that is stuffed with unnecessary words just to make up a word count. It could be an email in my inbox that doesn’t explain what I need to do next. Or, it could be a business homepage that doesn’t explain exactly what they are about within the first 5-6 seconds after arrival.

Every word your business displayed needs to have a purpose. And, of course, you need to understand what that purpose is before using it.

Make sure the reader knows what they are looking at straight away. If you don’t establish that message and make it clear to yourself, it certainly won’t be clear to the reader.

What are the benefits of your product or service?

When I shop for something online, I want to know what a product will do for me. How will it improve my life? Which of my problems will it solve? Why is it better than a similar product I can buy for half the price?

The trouble is, so many online businesses get this wrong. Instead, these sites will just explain the features, rather than the benefits. So, they might say that a jumper is ‘made of wool.’ But does that really give me an irresistible urge to buy it? Far from it.

However, if that jumper was ‘woven to keep you warm in winter’ or ‘perfect for cosying up on a chilly evening’ it puts different pictures in my head. Take a look at the words you use on your site and see if you can make any improvements.

Why are you focusing on ‘me’ not ‘you’?

Countless business websites drone on for an eternity about their company history. And by the time a reader has got a third of the way through, they will just leave and go elsewhere. I hate to say this, but the vast majority of people don’t care about your business. All they want to do is find what they are looking for and buy it.

So, stop talking about yourself, save for a brief bit of info on your About page. It’s a complete waste of prime real estate that you can use far better by putting the focus on your customers. Avoid using the first person (I, me, mine, etc.) and use the second person instead. Words like ‘you,’ ‘your,’ and ‘yours’ talk directly to the person reading them. And it has a much greater impact, too. Let’s revisit the pizza delivery service again, as an example.

Which is the most impactful sentence out of these two? “Our first class pizza delivery service can deliver our pizzas in fifteen minutes”? Or, “You could be eating your delicious pizza within fifteen minutes”? The second creates an image in the reader’s head that is far more compelling, as it is more personal.

What do your customers say about you?

Testimonials and recommendations from past clients are a great way to give your service or products validity. A convincing quote from a verified customer can add a lot of credibility to your offering. However, the reader has to know that the person’s quote comes from a real individual. Photos, links to a website, and even their location can help paint a picture of that person.

While you are looking for suitable quotes, make sure you are taking notes. Let’s say you get a thank-you letter from a happy client. In it, you will find out exactly why they loved your service – and you can then use these words to create a compelling offer to everyone else. Customers are often the source of these types of reveal to companies – you might even find some benefits you had never considered before.

Are you up the task?

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, not everyone is a writer. And, not every writer is a great copywriter.

The truth is that copywriting is a skill that many people take years to master. And unless you have the time to put into educating yourself, you should think about aiming to find a copywriter or agency to help. I know how hard it is to run a business, and there is often little time to do everything. But, you have to bear in mind that the words you use represent your company, and it is critical to get them right.

Outsourcing copywriting can help you create compelling and convincing words that will improve sales. You are buying expertise and knowledge, and the job will be finished far quicker – and better -than you could do by yourself.

Are you keeping things simple?

Great copywriting is clean, crisp, and concise. The fewer words it takes to deliver your key messages, the better. Far too many websites fail to understand this, and will fill webpage after webpage with needless words and sentences. So, when you do the first draft, make sure you take a long, hard look at it when you are finished.

Could you edit it down a little, and trim off some of the fat? Could you separate some paragraphs to make it easier to read? Perhaps you could highlight specific sentences to attract a little more focus from the reader? Doing this will not only underline an important point, but it will also cover you if someone is skim reading your copy.

Are you direct?

Great copy is also forceful and direct. It doesn’t use words such as ‘may,’ ‘might,’ or ‘perhaps.’ Instead, copywriters use more direct language such as ‘will,’ and ‘can.’ These direct commands are a lot more forceful and have far more impact on the reader.

Let’s return to our pizza delivery company once again for another example. ‘Your pizza will arrive within fifteen minutes’ is far more compelling than ‘your pizza might arrive in fifteen minutes’!

Do you include a direct call to action?

Finally, it is possible to have the greatest piece of sales copy the world has ever seen but still not make any sales.

How? Well, the aim of all marketing is to create a response from the reader. It could be to sign up to an email list or buy a product, for example. But not every customer knows what they should do, even if they are impressed with what they have read.

It is essential that you make it clear what you want the reader to do next. And the best way to do this is to include what we call a Call To Action (CTA).

CTAs provide clear direction for the reader as to what they should do next. A CTA should also create a sense of urgency, to compel the reader further. Let’s head back to the pizza place one last time. A good call to action might be “Phone before 7 pm and get 10% off!”

I hope this guide to online business copywriting has helped. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!

The Importance Of Having A Well Designed & Professional Office

As a small business, you’re already at a disadvantage. This is because the majority of the time, people prefer to work with bigger and better-known brands. The main reason for this is because larger companies tend to be seen as being more professional. There’s nothing to say that a company that’s been running for 30 years will be more professional than a startup that launched six months ago. However, it’s a common misconception that many people make.

With that in mind, as a small business owner you need to ensure that your company is always as professional as possible. A big part of doing that is providing a good first impression. You see, in business, first impressions are everything. With that in mind, it’s crucial that you make every effort to always keep your office up to date and relevant. As that way, anyone who comes to your office will see that your startup is just as professional as your larger competitors.

Ensure the decor is smart and stylish

Your business premises should reflect your personality and sense of style. However, the most important thing is that the decor is smart and stylish. The vital thing to remember is that your office is a professional space. That means it’s crucial that it is designed and decorate to look and feel professional. If you’re unsure how to update your decor to be more professional, hire an interior designer to help you.

Opt for minimalism

There is nothing more unprofessional than an office space that is stuffed full of this, that and the other. To ensure that your office looks and feels professional, it’s important to adopt a minimalist approach. This means keeping the entire space free from clutter. The key to doing this and having everything that you need to run your business effectively is good storage solutions. There are plenty of options to choose from; it’s just a case of taking the time to think them through.

Make health and safety a priority

Regardless of the size of your office space, health and safety should always be a priority. There is nothing more unprofessional than a company that doesn’t take things like health and safety seriously. Because it shows their lack of regard for their employees (if they have any), customers, and the business industry in general. To ensure that your business premises is safe, perform regular checks on it. Any areas that you’re not trained in hire a professional to come in and check over. Take your electrics, for instance. Say, for instance, your power keeps turning on and off. It’s a good idea to use a electrical service to find the problem and repair it. Or say, for example, you’re having a problem with your safety lighting. It’s important to call in an expert to deal with it. It’s totally unprofessional to leave a problem, especially if it could potentially be dangerous.

Incorporate branding

If there’s one thing that instantly gives a space a more professional feel, it’s branding. Regardless of how big or small your business is, having branding used in your office can have a big impact on how professional you seem. There are various ways that you can incorporate branding into your office space. It’s just a case of getting creative. Think signposts, wall art, flooring.

So there you have it, how to ensure that your office is well designed, relevant, and professional.

 

The tunnel vision of Marketing is destroying Social Selling via @AmarSheth

I must admit that I really do like Amar’s posts of late. In this one, I really resonated with some of his statements. For instance:

Social isn’t the miracle medium. It doesn’t reward sloppy sales behavior.”

LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which is a powerful beast when used correctly. But when it isn’t, it can become an enemy”

Take the time to read and please add your comments below. Take care.

SALES & MARKETING TUNNEL VISION IS DESTROYING SOCIAL SELLING by Amar Sheth

Social selling is a term that is still entering the sales vernacular, but the definition of what defines a social seller is hasn’t been fully yet determined.

From our perspective, which may seem selfish to our non-sales friends, social selling is the ability to use social networking strategies to build relationships that drive pipeline and revenue. All other activities in the organization that roll up and drive to these fundamental principles are supportive functions.

However, this is not how many in organizations are looking at social selling. Their view is largely shaped by their departmental function. Let’s review some examples below.

THE MARKETING VIEWPOINT

When the marketing team leads the charge on social selling, it’s interesting to see how brand pervasiveness and amplification seem to the central focus. Updating LinkedIn Profiles, deploying employee advocacy platforms, focusing on content creation, etc. are heavily focused on this.

Additionally, when marketing is involved, an organization’s social media marketing team very well may be as well.

These are, programmatically, all necessary steps but very limited to the view that salespeople are simply distribution points of the company’s brand, image, messaging, campaigns and products.

But is that all salespeople are good for? The answer is obvious.

THE SALES VIEWPOINT

What’s more frightening is when sales executes own social selling with limited understanding. Yes, social selling is about building pipeline and revenue, but not at the cost of amplifying dated ideas on a new medium.

What am I referring to?

I’m talking about using the same old way of prospecting on social media. I’ve seen many sales professionals become frustrated after sending dozens of InMails on LinkedIn never to get a response. When analyzing further, it’s evident that their InMails read like cold, cookie-cutter prospecting emails.

Social isn’t the miracle medium. It doesn’t reward sloppy sales behavior.

This happens often when companies invest into products without proper training in changing mindset. I see this often when companies only invest in products like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which is a powerful beast when used correctly. But when it isn’t, it can become an enemy.

The investment into tools must be harmonized with sales training on social. The two can’t live without each other. Without this, there is a significant risk of low product usage. When sales professionals don’t know how to effectively drive results, it can be challenging to show a proper ROI on investing in tools.

Sales departments should not expect deep levels of social selling knowhow from tool providers.  It’s just not possible. Their focus is on building world-class products, not how to use the tools to positively impact sales.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The challenge with viewing social selling from these two separate and distinct perspectives is how social is ultimately being affected. Without a unified and programmatic approach to social, impact can be very limited.

Aberdeen Research found that best-in-class companies that aligned sales and marketing experienced an average of 20% growth in annual revenue, compared to a 4% decline in laggard ones.

Secondly, ask yourself this question: can we really wait to battle the inadequacies of existing corporate culture? Can we wait for people to “get comfortable” on social? Or, acknowledge that research should be done online (where else can it be done, the library?)?

Operating something that is so critical as social selling from two silos will limit progress, at best, or destroy the initiative altogether.

If you’ve read this far and are still wondering why social selling is so critically important, ask yourself if customer acquisition and nurturing matter to your business. The buck stops there.

You can reach Amar on Twitter  @AmarSheth or connect on LinkedIn

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