188 billion email messages sent each day?! That’s a boatload of email!
We concur with the Infographic’s conclusion—email is here to stay. However, email is not always the most effective way to transmit your message. New(er) technologies—like Facebook and Twitter—introduce additional ways for humans to communicate. Think about what you’re trying to accomplish and select the best media available to you.
Email gets a deserved bad rap from marketing campaigns and spammers pushing unwanted messages that ignore communication fundamentals—such as this basic truth: the receiver must want to receive the message sent!
When your emails are written to be personal, with timely, relevant information the receiver really wants, they can help you build relationships one-to-one. Make your emails better and create relationships using VisibleGains.
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I recently realized we’ve taken for granted a powerful shortcut for creating Outlook message templates that’s been in our company toolkit for a while. I was talking to a prospect recently about email workflows and described our process for sending multiple personalized emails containing a similar core message. He was amazed at this shortcut, even though it seems pretty obvious to me. I’m documenting it here to share more widely. Hopefully you already take advantage of using Outlook’s standard signature setup; this just kicks it up a notch for creating multiple personalized emails containing similar message text.
This shortcut saves me time when I want to repetitively send only slightly different emails over and over again–such as a follow-up to a hands-on product demo I’ve just given. Let me know how this shortcut works for you.
Got any Outlook tips to share with us?
If we’ve learned anything from Steve Jobs, we’ve learned technology is constantly evolving around the use case.
We’ve referenced before Gutenberg’s printing press and the sea change its introduction created. The ability to print in quantity created a new channel for communicating information to the general public. And, as the printing press became commoditized, it wasn’t just the rich producing content. Streamlined processes and lower production costs increased the diversity of subject matter communicated. For the first time, regular folks could share their ideas to persuade the masses. Leveraging the new technology, “crazy” ideas could easily spread and plant seeds for other “crazy” ideas–aka innovations. The same thing happened with the introduction of TV and subsequently the Internet.
Sometimes everything just comes (or is coming) together…
It’s not like the tablet just got invented yesterday. Steve Jobs was superb at making it work very simply for the user in the form of the iPad. I’m pretty sure Amazon’s Kindle Fire (suspiciously familiar to the Blackberry Playbook) wouldn’t exist today if Mr. Jobs hadn’t been as successful at widespread adoption as he was. That’s not the interesting part. What’s next is the INTERESTING PART.
Click below to hear David Meerman Scott talk about why he wrote his newly launched eBook Newsjacking, specifically for the Kindle Fire.
Text no longer exists statically in black and white on paper–it’s colorful, blinks and moves–opening us up to a whole new way of thinking about how we consume and interact with information. The iPad truly started us down the tablet path and Amazon’s Kindle Fire takes us a step further. The Kindle Fire will be more accessible at its significantly cheaper price point and it will allow me to self-publish my thoughts beyond the blogoshpere. Amazon provides you the opportunity to elevate your credibility and bring interactive content to the masses; the iPad doesn’t seem to be going this way.
Can you imagine if all 48 pages of Common Sense written by Thomas Paine had an interactive community around it citing sources? Could King George have jumped in and had a counter argument disputing each point from its original anonymous “Written by an Englishman” author? Would support for the American Revolution been secured faster? What similar e-documents were used to aid Egypt in their efforts for independence? Did mobile texting networks, the blogosphere or Twitterverse speed up the democratization process? I’d argue it did.
Compelling content exists today in unfathomable quantities and we hungrily consume and produce more of it every day. Whether paid or not, people take the time to post 900,000 blogs per day. There are roughly 70 million videos on YouTube and 2 Billion searches conducted via Google.
I engage (and expect to engage) with online content much differently than I do when I read a printed book. I choose to explore related resources when they are conveniently presented to me, only a click away. Dispute a fact. Research a related thought. Ague a point. Post a comment. Buy a product right now. Have a concern about a company– ask your friends about it right now. Granted, I have a bias towards action (in fact, my twitter handle is biasforaction), but I don’t think I’m unique.
Maybe I’m giving them more credit than they’re due, but I’d like to think that Amazon with its Kindle Fire is deliberately breaking new ground. Amazon could become a broker of communities formed around common interests and original content. I realize may be way off-base as I don’t even have a Kindle Fire yet. Still, I’m excited at the possibilities and the technology revolving around “me” right now.
What do you think? Is Amazon up to the task of advancing our level of engagement with new ideas (and each other) through interactive content? Is Kindle Fire the platform to change the way the masses communicate and consume information?
I recently called my satellite TV provider—DISH Network—and asked what they could do for me as a longtime subscriber. I was perfectly happy with DISH Network’s service. In fact, over the years I’ve referred new customers to them by gushing online via social media as well as offline. However, an offer from Verizon for FIOS TV had piqued my interest since we already receive our Internet service through Verizon. Without much hesitation, the customer service rep from DISH Network told me nothing could be done to match Verizon’s offer. Oh, and don’t forget to mail in the last month’s check—thank you very much.
Really? No, really?!
At the time, DISH Network was actively recruiting subscribers and I was truly confused by the service rep’s indifferent response. Guess what I did? I switched to Verizon for FIOS TV, of course.
We’ve all seen statistics on customer retention versus acquisition. Lots of really smart Ph.D’s have explained the concept of Customers Lifetime Value (CLV). In the simplest of terms, it’s a lot cheaper to keep a customer than to get a new one—common sense without the fancy TLA (Three Letter Acronym). Within the past few years, I’ve noticed CLV has been modified to CCLV (Connected Customers Lifetime Value) and CEV (Customer Engagement Value).
Basically, anyone selling anything should expand their thinking beyond their existing customers to their customers’ network and sphere of influence.
Product marketing sometimes casts customer retention in terms of switching costs. Think about what a pain it is to switch cell phone carriers. The Cell Carrier Lobbyists fought tooth and nail against LNP (Local Number Portability) until they could figure out ways to lock up customers. There’s really no reason to have specific phones for specific carriers. Europe doesn’t. Instead of focusing on change penalties, how about improving the value of the services delivered by understanding my needs and what makes me choose to be a loyal customer and refer my friends?
Airlines attracted and successfully retained loyal customers for a while with frequent flyer programs. I know—I booked most of my flights on United even though there weren’t always direct flights to where I was going. But then United and other airlines blew it by instituting too many restrictions.
Most businesses truly do strive to please their customers. Most business people appreciate the power of referral marketing and naturally hope through careful management of customer relationships, we’ll gain new customers via referrals.
I invite you to pause now and honestly ask yourself: when was the last time you reached out to your customers individually? I don’t mean sending a newsletter or some marketing automated message, but making a direct one-to-one connection. And, not when there’s a problem, but when there isn’t—simply as a way to listen, learn and share information.
Connecting genuinely on a more personal level—one-to-one—is a powerful way to cultivate happy customers, and, hopefully, referrals. Here are several tips to help you get started:
Having said all that, my hope is to personally connect with more of our customers. Please DM me @biasforaction or give me an old-fashioned phone call to chat. My direct phone number is 781-350-3416, extension 113. My email is bcarney at VisibleGains dot com (so the SPAM bots won’t pick me up).
I had coffee with a psychology colleague who is a brain specialist. I told him about my recent post discussing how salespeople can inadvertently paralyze prospects through information overload.
He got thoughtful and asked if I wanted to know what actually happens in the brain when someone is presented with too much information—like when a buyer has to shop in a “superstore” versus a “bodega”. I eagerly said yes and this is what I learned.
First of all, he explained, we humans are motivated to solve problems. Problems create uncomfortable feelings and we are programmed to make those uncomfortable feelings go away. In fact, the feelings (FB) part of the brain (science speak: limbic system) has many lines of communication that are directly connected to the problem solving (PSB) part of the brain (science speak: prefrontal lobe). So when we experience discomfort about something not working right, that feeling gets sent directly to the PSB, pleading:
“Do something about this problem!”
Feeling some pain or discomfort is actually a good thing because it energizes us to gather information in order to find a solution. For example, a prospect may search websites, read blogs, or perhaps ask a trusted colleague for some solutions to his or her problem. The shopping process begins…BUT when a prospect is presented with massive amounts of information, the PSB, craving order, has to work “overtime” to categorize information in order to be able to make a decision.
The FB picks up the strain in the PSB and sends frantic messages to it:
“I’m overwhelmed! I don’t have enough time to figure out the best solution. What if I make a mistake?”
With all these distress signals going to the PSB, guess what happens? The PSB gets exhausted and gives up trying to solve the problem and instead shifts into survival mode. Your overwhelmed prospect is no longer shopping for a solution. He or she is using all of her energy to feel better.
“How can I get out of here? My problem is not so bad. I don’t really need to change anything. Good bye!”
So what can a salesperson do to avoid this from happening to a prospect?
Helping buyers categorize information leaves them with more energy to make an informed purchase decision more quickly. Think about going into a superstore to buy a television. When you arrive in the TV area, you’re faced with a dizzying array of choices. Left on your own, you may get overwhelmed and bolt. An experienced salesperson, though, can prevent you from fleeing and promote thoughtful decision making by asking you a few “category promoting” questions such as:“What are you going to watch? How big is your room? Does it have a lot of sunlight? Will you be gaming on it?” This line of questioning enables you to narrow your selection and hone in on a few options to choose between.
Understanding how the brain reacts to information overload is critical to helping your prospect stay focused to make a decision. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog for more tips to help your prospect thrive in our “superstore” culture.
How do you simplify decision making for your prospect?
Peggy Kriss, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in Newton, Massachusetts and a consultant to VisibleGains. Stay tuned for more psychology informed blogs by Dr. Kriss.
Is “prospect” a dirty word in our changing culture of commerce? I propose that salespeople will be much more successful if they work to create “prospect communities”- the goal being for prospects to feel excited, involved, informed, engaged in discussions and interacting in the eco-system surrounding their companies. This community approach will dramatically increase the motivation of the prospect to make the transition to customer. Why? Because being part of a community increases trust, sense of value, reduces resistance, identifies needs, reduces fear, and makes people feel really good.
Chris Brogan said in his recent blog “I am not a customer. I am not a user. I might be a client. I might be a member. I may even be a loyalist. But don’t call me a customer. ‘Customer’ is a dirty word.”
Twitter expert, Laura “@pistachio” Fitton expresses this sentiment in her “4 enchanting ways to improve your inbound marketing” blog post where she talks about the importance of building an “enchantment ecosystem” so your customer has lots of ways to feel valued, be part of a community, actively giving and receiving and overall having lots of opportunities to interact and feel positively about the company.
Let’s extrapolate from what we are learning about the changing customer and apply it to the prospect. Look at LinkedIn Groups or a Tribe as Seth Godin puts it. Using groups creates multiple opportunities to engage prospects and customers alike. If they are active participants in a group or tribe you can rest assured that they are passionate about a specific topic and have come together because they care. A post from triplepundit explains it this way: “think of success as the strength of the relationships your stakeholders will walk away with”.
What’s the worst thing you can do as a member of these groups? Sell Stuff. You run the risk of alienating the group and groups tend to stand up and force selfish people out. You will undermine trust, reduce your perceived value, increase resistance, distract them from the important task of focusing on their own needs and fears, and foster unhappy feelings.
Here are 7 tips for creating a “prospect community”:
Are you just selling stuff or are you passionate about it and willing to contribute to the community?
Peggy Kriss, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in Newton Massachusetts and a consultant to VisibleGains. Stay tuned for more psychology informed blogs by Dr. Kriss.
As a Marketing guy and at the end of every day – Sales is my client. Since the data in Salesforce.com can sometimes be a bit off, I’ve created little tricks that my clients seem to love as it makes their life easier. This one came about from watching an inside rep I was working with. This also makes complete sense as Salesforce.com should be configured to only include people that have scored a certain number of points and or raised their hands for specific content/inclusion.
The rep had two screens open while they were making calls. They were cutting the name out of Salesforce and pasting it into Linked in as the data inside Linked in appeared to be current and they could see groups, comments, and other people within the company for circle of influence selling and finding a referral within their network. It seemed like a lot of work and was slowing their productivity proven by their daily activity log (Even though the data in Linked in helped them achieve their quota every month).
I created a very simple Salesforce.com button mash-up which when clicked will open a Linked in page and deposit Lead, Contact or Account Data into the appropriate fields and look for that person who is currently employed at the company. This simple button helped the rep exceed their quota the very next month.
To get it done you’ve got to be an Administrator and follow the below steps:
Remember the button will not be shown unless you GOTO > Your Name > Setup > Customize > Leads > Page Layout > Edit
Then Click “Buttons” and drag and drop “Linked in Search” into the custom buttons box at the top of the Lead Sample. Saving your work afterwards.
That’s it…Most Sales reps will call you a hero for doing it. Give us a call if you have any difficulty.
Before you can sell your services to a customer, you need to build a relationship. In business, the relationship between the salesperson and the customer is based on a foundation of trust.
One of the easiest ways to generate profitable publicity and to build a foundation of trust is to establish yourself as an expert in your niche. The point is to create a reputation as being the source for information about your product or service. – and the best way to provide information is via content.
First impressions are everything, and chances are your customer will first ‘meet’ you on your website. In a study by FOCUS two-thirds of a prospects mind is made up prior to engaging a sales rep. So be sure to fill your site with content that establishes you as a well-informed authority on your product or service. Your website should not be a supermarket of content with relevant information buried under layers of lingo and buzz words. Creating landing pages which are specific to the individuals you are trying to converse with is important. This is the cornerstone of trust.
People love to buy stuff, but they hate to feel sold. Avoid this turnoff and focus your content as providing information. Fill your website with educational, tutorial-style content that will decrease sales resistance. Create content that allows the viewer to self direct their education. Consider using Video, PDF’s, Slides, Pictures, Lists and anything else that will speak to them about their concerns.
Video is an excellent way to provide engaging content to your potential clients in a unique format. Consider making a how-to video. If you make a demonstration video, the content should focus on the benefits of the product or service. Video does not have to be overly produced consider – business casual video. Clean and clear recordings with good audio conveys and honest and direct approach which will be appreciated.
Follow blogs and social media sites that deal with your product or service to see what customers are talking about. And then engage with them in a conversation by offering pointers, answers and advice.
Chances are there’s a trade publication, blog or site dealing with your sector. Why not write a guest article for it? Just make sure the article doesn’t preach but provides valuable information to the reader.
When writing your content, don’t forget to make sure it’s search engine optimized. Customers will only find you if you show up on the search engine results!
Marketing should exploit the immediate connection and effectiveness of using video in their referral process. Video is an effective and simple way to make a connection. These types of clean videos come across as very honest as there is very little “production”. I’ve gotten five testimonials completed in 30 days using this method.
It might be obvious to some but the web is becoming a broadcast system. People love consuming content this way and it really has an impact. You don’t need large budgets or time to enable this component of your demand generation marketing engine.