Categories
Data Protection

Just how much information does Facebook and Google keep about us all?

Pretty scary reading….
Thread by @iamdylancurran: “Want to freak yourself out? I’m gonna show just how much of your information the likes of Facebook and Google store about you without you even realising it1. google.com/maps/timeline?… Google stores your location (if you […]”
https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/977559925680467968.html
 
March 2018

Categories
Sales/Selling Trust

The good, the bad and the ugly – which is your sales process?

The good, the bad and the ugly
I thought I’d share with you our experience this last month when wanting to trade in our car …. It was fascinating!  I love being the ‘fly on the wall’ observing others’ sales processes.
Background: Toyota owners – on our 5th, not counting the one when we first married!  So loyal. Last two purchased from one of the Bristol dealers as the penultimate car had come with a very good deal.   But it is a pain to get across there for services etc. so we thought we’d investigate closer to home as well as a couple of others comparisons.

  • The good: We popped in to our more local Toyota garage on spec. Spoke to a very pleasant young man who jotted down what we were looking for and promised to email some quotes that afternoon…. I have to admit I was somewhat cynical and wasn’t going to hold my breath to await said email.  But I was wrong.   It came when promised and all queries subsequently whether on the phone or email, have been answered fully and promptly.  We were advised that as a “loyal customer” we would be entitled to a £1K discount plus a further £2K for purchases agreed by end September. Professional follow up which wasn’t in any way intrusive.
  • The bad: We then visited a different brand dealership – the person to whom we had originally spoken to was ‘off’ on the day we visited so met with the Sales Manager. Very helpful and professional and said he’d get his sales person to call to follow up.  We’re still waiting (that’s why they’re down as ‘bad’!  The spec didn’t compare as well, however.
  • The ugly: We were invited to a VIP day by our original Toyota dealer Bristol – (remember we had purchased our last two cars from them). Our appointment was confirmed by quite an aggressive sales manager who wanted to make sure we were going to turn up and advised that this was an event for buying and selling, i.e. not a “jolly”.  We should have guessed what was coming when we were sent lanyards in the post with badges saying VIP customer.  On arrival we were welcomed into something that  was just not for us –  balloons, cardboard full size cut outs of famous film stars standing strategically by certain cars, two young very attractive girls brought in to offer coffee, and directed to a table on which was a plate of sausage rolls (really, on a hot afternoon?!!!)   A young man (really young – looked 19 or so and very much not knowing what on earth he was supposed to be doing) then sat down, with the sales manager hovering, who wanted to take our personal details eg name and address. This from the garage we had previously purchased two cars from.  Not good for first impressions – how long would it have taken someone to pre-populate their form?   And my husband had spoken to the sales manager to tell him more or less what we were looking for.  We were then told the price of the car which we were interested in and when we asked what deals there were, the sales manager told us there was £3000 off the car price for that weekend only and basically could we go ahead on that basis?   “After all, negotiating is just a big game, isn’t it”? he said. Absolutely no understanding of the sales process whatever.   Oh, and no follow up here either!   WHAT a waste.

So then it won’t surprise you to learn that we went with the ‘good’.   But how does this story connect with what you do every day in your business?

  • Do you always send information to your customers and prospects by or preferably before the day you promise to do so?
  • Do you understand the sales process?
  • Do you ALWAYS follow up with prospects no matter what? If not what could you do to ensure you do.  Is it fear of the ‘no’, or is it something else?  Maybe turn it around and ask yourself what your prospect will think of you if you don’t bother to follow up?
  • If you’re putting on an event, do you ensure that it is ‘geared’ for the demographic who will be attending?
  • Do you always update your CRM with conversations with customers and prospects so that you don’t let yourself and your company down when a customer turns up for a meeting and you are ill-prepared?
  • And the biggest of all – do you understand the importance and value of TRUST. As soon as the sales manager in the ‘ugly’ scenario said that the offer was only valid for that weekend, when we knew that wasn’t the case, there is absolutely no possibility that we would have continued with a purchase there.  Nor will we go back there again.   See a blog I did before on Trust here. (in which was the wonderful mnemonic S H I T)

September 2016

Categories
Sales Sales/Selling

To follow up or not, that is the question…

“Persistence is what makes the impossible possible, the possible likely and the likely definite”
is a quotation from Robert Half and which I have stuck up at eye level by my desk!
To follow up or not, that is the question – is a complex issue that challenges many business owners and there can be an extraordinary number of reasons why they shouldn’t follow up, today at least….  It’s as if a fear takes over and the business owner is rendered paralyzed… I don’t want to be annoying, or bothersome, or a nuisance or…….
And you’re right, no one does.  But, and it’s a big but, with the volume of emails in particular, as well as calls, that go around these days, it can take time to wade through all the emails and it can quite simply be that your last email got to the bottom of a very busy day’s list of emails.  You don’t know what day your prospect is having or whether it has been a day from hell.
But think how not following up on a conversation, a quotation, a meeting can reflect on you and your business.   If you are an avid networker, is there any point if you don’t follow up?  What is your process?  Do you have one?   If not, agree one with yourself and write it down and keep it somewhere you can easily refer to.
The sales process isn’t a straight line, nor is it a funnel where everything that goes in to the top comes out as an order at the bottom.   You need to understand the balance of emotion and logic and what makes up the sales process.
A survey conducted by the National Sales Executive Association reveals that only 10% of leads are being followed up more than three times, while nearly half (48%) are left languishing altogether.  The same survey shows that 10% of sales are closed on the fourth contact, while 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact! Based on this data, how can you find excuses not to follow up?   Whilst the exact % differs slightly I’ve come across an approximation to these figures a few times.
I wonder too if it’s that business owners don’t like to consider themselves as ‘sales’ people.  After all, is this what you studied for years to become the expert?  But, no matter if you are a lawyer, accountant, web designer, video maker, manufacturer of widgets, without sales you don’t have a business so if you are the only person in your business, you are then also the sales person.
So what happens if you go to a business expo – be it a small local affair or a large event in Olympia?  What have you planned in terms of follow up?  What would be the cost to your business if you don’t?

  • If you are a larger company then most likely the sales team will leap onto the hot prospects and follow these up. Let’s say 20%.   Then what about the other 80%, what happens here?
  • Often it can be that the sales team don’t have the time or energy to weed out the % of non-qualified contacts to nurture, so they abandon them.  Or, sales blame marketing saying that the leads are not great and then marketing blames sales for being lazy.  The challenge is to keep in touch with that % of the balance, let’s say 40%, to develop the relationship.
  • And in a smaller business, then the same principles but you are arguing with yourself and blaming your other self.   Oh, I’ll do that one tomorrow, it’s not important.   Then tomorrow becomes next week/month and the chance you had of following up is out of the window as you are by now completely forgotten.

So what do you need to do/know to follow up effectively?

  • You need to know you are talking to the right person who can make the decision to purchase whatever it is you are selling;
  • You need to understand his/her buying process… Who else is involved? What information do they want/  need and supply this ideally before being asked;
  • You need to understand the sales process and the mix of emotion and logic and when and where to supply evidence of both;
  • You need to understand completely what your prospect needs in order to solve their problem/hurt and ensure you have communicated to them how you can do this
  • You need to have supported your claims with evidence – case studies and testimonials for starters. If something concrete rather than a service, then a trial of something.
  • Have you explained the benefits to the client of working with you? Have you shown your passion and commitment to your role and to your company and demonstrated at all times your professionalism?
  • You need to get a feeling of the type of personality they are so that your communications are geared to ‘how they like to be communicated with’, so for example, if an FD, then bottom line, figures, ROI and no waffle. 3 words are better than 3 paragraphs.
  • By what means does your contact like to be communicated with? Email/telephone/mobile/text?
  • If you have a good CRM system you can set up a series of relevant follow up emails and then be able to see when each one is opened if at all. But do beware of overuse of these informative but non-personal communications. I had been waiting for some information from a CRM supplier on behalf of a client and then I started getting the follow up before the information I was waiting for.   Not impressed!
  • In your process you need to establish a guide of how often you should be following up and how; typically this could be
    • Give it a week since the last conversation and then weekly to start with
    • Then default to two-weekly
    • Try different days and different times of day
    • Can you slot into something that is of interest to the buyer that you learnt at your meeting or have picked up from LinkedIn? Comment on their favourite team’s performance, favourite venue etc, great film….
  • Be direct: if you don’t get anywhere ask if you should stop following up. People respect honesty and it can have the effect to get a reaction to your email…
    • A simple “I know how busy you are and completely understand if you just haven’t had time to get back to me, but I don’t want to bombard you with emails if you’re not interested. Just let me know if you’d prefer I stop following up”
    • Here’s a fun direct one I came across… Tongue in cheek but depending on your relationship can elicit a response…
      • This one from Workbooks, a CRM system (not the one referred to above, though) where someone asked for details and the ‘system’ was trying to establish contact with no luck:

“Should I stay or should I go?”   (was the email subject header)
You recently left your details on the Workbooks CRM website and I’ve tried reaching out several times with no luck. Usually people fall into one of 4 buckets when downloading our content or registering for our webinars:

  1. Thanks for following up; however, at this point I am only educating myself on CRM systems.
  2. While I am educating myself, I am also interested in learning more about Wizard Systems and Workbooks CRM.  Please schedule me for a no-obligation 20-minute assessment.
  3. Please call me as soon as possible. I am looking to evaluate my plan and would like a custom CRM presentation of Workbooks CRM.
  4. I have terrible carpal tunnel and can’t type! Please call a doctor!

 I’m a firm believer that any of these answers could be the right answer for you at this time. Your response (1, 2, 3, or 4) will allow me to better gauge your interests without bothering you during this busy time”.
 For sure the prospect will smile and will probably take the time to respond.  Understanding the meaning and value of a ‘no’ is also important.
Following up demonstrates your determination to build a relationship with your prospect and most significant sales are the end result of a relationship. You will still find a lot of disinterested parties, but a few potential buyers will appreciate the extra effort. These can become your best customers. In the long run, sales follow-ups are more cost-effective than chasing down new customers.
And, don’t forget, if you really can’t bring yourself to pick up that phone to follow up, outsource it.   There are lots of great people out there who will do so for you.  So don’t beat yourself up and just get it done!
If you need help with your sales and/or follow up processes, please give me a call or email me on debbie@armstrongbeech.co.uk; I’d be delighted to help.  A tighter sales process can eliminate much of the follow up.
And finally….another quotation for you about persistence:
Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.
Calvin Coolidge
30th president of US (1872 – 1933)
 

Categories
Email

Email News Updates

Email News Updates being sent out just using the ‘copy’ function on your standard email.  
I was amazed to hear the news on Wednesday about the NHS London HIV clinic who had emailed 780 of its patients who had been tested positive and had disclosed all the other recipients on the email, not once, but twice when an apology for the first email was sent out pretty much straight away and again to all recipients in the cc instead of the bcc.  Ok so they have apologised for “human error”, but was it just that, I wonder?  Whilst I don’t know the facts, here’s some thoughts:

  • Did the Trust fall short in their training, and was the task given to a team member who simply didn’t know the importance of cc v bcc?  Didn’t they realise the importance of sending out newsletters and understanding data protection?
  • Why is any serious company sending out news updates to a list of 780 just using their email system?  Not professional, not sensible, and as seen, not safe;
  • When emailing this way, you cannot check as to how many people are reading the newsletter or clicking on the links.  There’s no test and measure.

The Clinic now finds itself in a serious data breach and will be subject to investigation and potential fines; not to mention the trust issue they now face with their clients who will have serious misgivings about receiving further communication from them and will want assurances that ‘this will never happen again’.
Using Mail Chimp (often free depending on circulation) or Constant Contact, or perhaps a mailing service through your CRM system, will allow you safely to send emails and to see and understand the results.
For my customers I keep the stats so we can see which emails are more popular than others, which links more popular etc. Test and measure is crucial in marketing. Not an option. 
If you need help crafting your news updates and identifying the best way to send them out, call or email me.  .  I am just updating my ‘paper’ on sending out newsletters; happy to help if I can.

Categories
Customer Trust Trust

Do your customers trust you?

Do your customers trust you?
For me, trust has always been one of the most, if not the most important factor in any relationship with clients.  Whenever undertaking any sales training and running through the most important qualities of anyone working in sales, trust invariably comes out on top.
This time the issue is about the Charity sector and a Mr Rae who forgot to tick a box when he filled out a lifestyle survey in 1994.  It seems that the company behind the survey sold his personal information to charities which then bombarded him with requests for donations and some then proceeded to pass on Mr Rae’s personal information to other charities, data brokers and companies – over 200 times in total and resulted in him being scammed as well. No-one deserves this and the Data Protection Act is very clear – the very first principle is that your data is only processed fairly and lawfully.
Again, it comes down to trust and expectation and not simply down to the fact that 20 years ago Mr Rae didn’t tick the box to say ‘don’t share my information with ‘like-minded’ companies’. An interesting discussion yesterday on R.4 commented that part of the issue was too much short term thinking and too high targets for the sales team on the phone and a lack of understanding that the charity/donor relationship is very much long term and very much dependent on trust.  It is critical for donors not to feel bad if they can’t up their giving. Every donor should be encouraged to give to their comfort level but never beyond, they should never be made to feel guilty. This is a negative emotion and not at all productive.
So this then leads into emotion v logic not being understood, and perhaps processes in the business not being as robust as they might be. Are yours sound in your business?  Are there any that could lead to customers or clients feeling that you are not being transparent and perhaps not worthy of their trust?
I love getting process right. Call me if I can help.
3rd September 2015

Categories
Start Up Start Ups - company and domain names

Choosing a company name

Choosing a company name can take a lot of “blood, sweat and tears”. I thought this article from David Caviliero, Partner at Withy King,  was an excellent reminder of the most important checks to carry out before getting too far down the road of the look/feel of the new name.    Read the article here
And another article for you written by internet marketing whiz Andy Poulton last year on choosing your web domain name.  He gives some great examples of where people seemingly have just not tried out their new chosen domain name verbally or in writing, or perhaps even both!
These two articles sit well side by side and perhaps are common sense, but sometimes we need to be reminded of common sense.  It is also a good plan to include what your company does within the name, if you can.   I could have called myself Armstrong Beech Consultants or Armstrong Beech Associates – but then no-one would know what I did…. When my business name appeared on a list of businesses, eg at a networking event or similar, no-one would be able to remember me by business name as the ‘marketing’ would be lost.  But, by using the name Armstrong Beech Marketing, you at least get an idea, I hope, of what I’m about!

Categories
Coaching

"Everyone needs a coach" Bill Gates and Eric Schmid


Who are we to argue with the great Bill Gates and Eric Schmidt?
Everyone needs a coach – it helps to give you perspective and to help you see yourself as others see you.

Categories
Business Growth Buying Personas

Your business growth in 2015

Your business growth in 2015

Have you thought about using a coach-cum-marketing professional to grow your business?   Before you zap away I promise it’s not fluffy nonsense!
1. Why might you need help and support?  The value of business coaching is brilliantly explained in 45 seconds by Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google.   See here 
A coach gives you someone who is outside of your business who you can support you and whom you trust. A bounce.
2. Update your business plan for 2015 – including short and long term goals, time scales and “who/what/by when”.
3. Update your marketing strategy for 2015 including

  • an overview marketing audit so you can reflect on what has worked, what hasn’t, how you can improve
  • your marketing communications – thinking about your different buying personas, how is it best to communicate with them; what would they most prefer?

4.  Having monthly conversations gives you a focus to look objectively at your financials to see what could be improved/adjusted. Test and Measure. Always.
5. Having a bounce for issues in the business, from leadership to HR to whatever has presented itself as a challenge to you.
Whether using the great GrowthAccelerator support scheme, or directly with me, I’d be delighted to talk to you.
Email Debbie Newman

Categories
Armstrong Beech Marketing Article writing Copywriting

Why emotional words are essential in selling copy

Why emotional words are essential in selling copy

– and why so-called intellectuals who dabble in marketing – can be a pain in the ass…
I always enjoy receiving newsletters from Andy Owen of Andy Owen Copy and Creative.   I heard him speak at a seminar in London a few years back.   He says it as it is and there’s always lots to learn and improve on.  This is his latest newsletter.  He talks about using ‘everyday words’ and further on in the article he lists  the ten most frequently-used words in Schwab’s 100 good headlines – which is interesting!  I hope all my clients know to write all about YOU/the reader…. I go on about it often enough!  Nice to see endorsement, nonetheless…..
“You – 31 Your – 14 How – 12 New – 10 Money – 6  Who – 8 Now – 4 Why – 4 Want – 4 People – 4             (Not many intellectual words in that lot, is there?)
“I use the oldest words in the English language. People think I’m an ignorant bastard who doesn’t know the ten-dollar words.
I know the ten-dollar words. And they don’t work in copy…”
Ernest Hemingway
Read that and digest it. Read it again. And again. And believe it. Because it’s true.  Hemingway was one of the greatest writers ever.
His work has touched so many people – and will continue to do so, for as long as this world of ours keeps on turning.
One of the secrets of his success, was he was ‘real’. A man of the people…
The way he wrote, connected readily with people. Rich and poor. Of all races and creeds. People of all types and profiles. And, of all ages.
This was down to his genius – and the words he used. Copywriters today could learn so much from him.
If you are writing copy to generate a response and a positive reaction, then here are three essential copy commandments that I’m sure Ernest
would have endorsed, had he been around today.
1. Never use a ‘clever’ word when a simple one will do.
2. Use everyday words that connect to the reader and sound as if
you are talking naturally to them.
3. Keep any so-called intellectuals as far away from your copy as
possible.”
Read Andy’s article here

Categories
Business Growth Buying Personas

Your New Year Reminders and Actions

Your New Year Reminders and Actions

Who loves your business more than you?  Answer: No-one. No-one will ever love your business as much as its owner – do remember that when delegating your marketing within your company and /or if it’s up to you to ‘do’ the marketing. How much time are you going to allocate yourself each day /week to spend on marketing and all that makes up this wonderful word?
Don’t make working harder on your marketing one of your New Year Resolutions –  Statistics show that these resolutions generally don’t last too long.   “Marketing is not an event, but a process . . . It has a beginning, a middle, but never an end, for it is a process. You improve it, perfect it, change it, even pause it. But you never stop it completely.” Jay Conrad Levinson.   So a rush of energy into your marketing in January only to forget it for the rest of the year won’t give you the success you want.
Focus on what you want to achieve in 2015 –  Not just “more of the same without a plan”. But make goals. Write them down. Pin up above your PC/laptop where you can see them every day and calculate how you’re going to get there.  They won’t just happen.
Start an Action Plan and a Marketing Calendar –  doesn’t have to be complicated.   I’ve added most of the ‘national’ dates , then you need to add your local industry dates, look at your peaks and troughs, add specific dates for the business, eg birthdays/ anniversaries, milestones. Think too about your ‘buying personas’ and the different ways you’ll be communicating with them.   Then think broadly about the marketing activity to support what you’ve written.

  • So for lawyers and accountants, what new legislation is coming in that you need to communicate to your clients and prospects, and how are you going to do this?   If say you produce a quarterly hard-copy newsletter, how about introducing an email update between times?
  • If you’re into hospitality jot down all the key dates throughout the year including the special ‘food ones’ and see how imaginative you can be
  • And for a florist, with so many dates throughout the year, it’s easy to find a new reason to keep in touch.
  • Does your business have a ‘big’ birthday this year you can use to gain some PR?
  • Will you be involved with any of the ‘fun’ fund raising campaigns  you can post to your web and use social media to talk about?

Show your customers you ‘love ‘em’ – with Valentine’s Day around the corner – it’s a great way to show your customers you appreciate their business and support and that you look forward to a great ongoing relationship.  What are you going to do to demonstrate your customer/client is important to you?    Being ‘unique, special and different’ doesn’t only apply to you and your own business but also in what you do.  Think what impact a New Year or Valentine’s Day thank you could have on your clients.  Far more powerful than something in December when it could so easily be ‘lost’.  And I’m not necessarily talking about ‘gifts’.  A tasteful hand written card from the ‘boss’ can be very effective!
Buying Personas – Do you really understand who your Buying Personas are?  This is a drilling-down from just thinking about your ‘target customer’  Give each segment a name, a persona, consider the type of language they would use, what they need to know.   This makes a great sales training session with your team – very happy to oblige!
How effective is your Data Base?  Such a hugely important asset to your business  – and yet some businesses don’t think that ‘a data base is for them’.   There’s no excuse at all for a customer not to know all your offerings and services, but it’s down to you to tell them.   Your communications don’t have to be intrusive or pushy, in fact they mustn’t be either of these, but it is down to you to keep in touch and not for your prospects and clients to be experts on your business and all that it offers.  You want to keep uppermost in your customers’ and prospects’ minds when it comes to their next buying decision that affects you.
When did you last read your web site?   Does it grab your attention in those first critical few seconds?   Is it all written to show the reasons why a prospect/customer should buy from you, showing the problems / issues you are solving for them?    Does your web copy have ‘you’ all the way through it?  It needs to if it doesn’t.  Do all the links work?  Is the info all up to date?  How often do you post articles on your blog page?  Are your social media sites linking to/from your website?  Is your web copy and SEO still right for the work you want to do now in your business?
How far have you got with Social Media presence?  All professional business owners must have a proper LinkedIn Profile with a professional photograph (not of you with your kids/skiing etc.). The scope of LinkedIn is growing all the time.  This really isn’t an option any more.
Then you need to consider which of the other social media channels are right for you, decide how much time you’ll spend each week and stick to it.  It doesn’t have to be hours, but you do need to get started.   A blog, using info from your newsletters is easy, Tweeting and using something like HootSuite makes life easier.   Can you get your blogs to auto-fill you Facebook for business profiles and your Twitter feed?
Free Business Directory listings are also a valuable way to raise your web presence.  Yell.com (Hibu or is now Yell again?) can be useful for this.
What Testing and Measuring do you have in place so you can check the effectiveness of your marketing?  Renewing ads ‘blindly’ is not great, even if you’re pushed for time.   Before you place any ‘hard copy’ ads you need to be sure they’re going give you a return on your investment (ROI) .  Look at the size of Yellow Pages now v what it was years ago.  If you attend an exhibition or run a specific promotion, you want to be able to trace response to these efforts.  If someone wants to consider using you or your services, they won’t be guided by the copy in any ad; they’ll Google you and see what others have said, or they’ll ask friends for a referral.  It’s all about customer engagement .  Are you  there or getting left behind?
“Marketing takes a day to learnUnfortunately it takes a lifetime to master “ – Phil Kolter  There are many subscription schemes out there which offer you lots of marketing info in return for a monthly fee.  Trouble with these, on the whole, is that they are ‘general’, can generate a huge amount of data but not necessarily geared to you and your immediate needs to follow your plan.  Would it be any different to buy a large marketing book and take a chapter each month than respond to stuff sent to you to action each month?
Using a marketing professional  – It’s funny if you take the analogy with, say, a legal practice drawing breath in horror, I imagine, at some of the unregulated will writing services out there which don’t have the legal expertise or knowledge to think around all the potential pitfalls which may occur.  Is there such a difference in this principle with marketing when done in house by a non-professional?   Oh,  XXX looks after our marketing – and often XXX also does 101 other jobs and isn’t trained in the subject.  Answers on a postcard, please!
December and the New Year is a great time to start with an ‘audit/health check’ of where you are now – and ensuring you and all your colleagues have a professional profile on LinkedIn. Would be delighted to work with you on both if I can help. Just zap me a mail or give me a call on 01225 869 240.
If you’d like a copy of my calendar and my ‘who/what/when’ table then please email me on debbie@armstrongbeech.co.uk