It's amazing that there's so much great content out there surrounding demand generation and B2B sales and marketing! Here are a few that stand out to the Smashmouth crowd from last week:
Are Your Inside Sales Reps Good Detectives? A guest post on AG Salesworks' Sales Prospecting Perspectives blog provided an interesting comparison to inside sales reps and detectives. The author likens his approach to that of Columbo and collects as much detail from his prospects as he can.
"I find that people are willing to share one more thing with me in order to get me off the phone. This one thing may turn into a longer conversation that could bring out more pains and needs from the prospect and in time, turning this ‘not interested’ person into an opportunity for our clients."
Whatever You Do, Don't Do This During a Sales Meeting. Jill Konrath, sales strategist and author of SNAP Selling, has an article on ScLoHo's Collective Wisdom blog about limiting the amount of time you speak during a sales call and keeping quiet during that most critical meeting -- replacing your competitor!
"Top sellers realize that replacing an incumbent is a slow, deliberate process. They understand it takes time to demonstrate value and develop strong relationships. Knowing this, they put together a one-step-at-a-time account-entry strategy that advances the sales process much faster than if they tried to do everything in a single call."
7 Fluff-Free Reasons Your Online Content Isn't Spreading. David Siteman Garland, author and entrepreneur from The Rise to the Top website, wrote a guest post over at inbound marketing evangelist HubSpot's blog. Garland shares some great thoughts as to why your content may not be as aflame as you'd like it to be.
"Normally there isn’t just one answer and it isn’t black-and-white. Some things directly matter and others go a little bit deeper with more abstract, yet equally important ideas like trust and authority. But, everything adds up."
Like I said, there's a lot of great information out there; what would you have added from the week?
Photo Credit: steve.wilde via Flickr
Guest post by Paul Simon, Sharper Content, @paulcontentman
We all form instant impressions when meeting someone new. Guess what? The same thing happens when we read something from someone we don't know - and the proliferation of social media puts an awful of "new" people in front of us.
As Michael Damphousse says, "Good content creates value. Value creates trust. And, yes, trust creates leads."
On the Internet, it's all about content, whether you have a product to sell, service to offer or leads to pursue. The best content is clear, concise and compelling, creating a bond and a relationship with the reader. Can poor writing, misspellings and grammatical errors interfere? You betcha.
A few days ago someone in a sales group on LinkedIn posed this question: "Love reading and participating in this group, but I could not help noticing all the blatant spelling errors in our posts. Do you think it reflects negatively on our attention to detail and professionalism not to re-read our posts before we hit the send button? "
Intriguing responses followed, some dismissing an occasional error in a group comment as inconsequential and others characterizing them as a general lack of professionalism. Here are a few of my favorite comments:
"Numerous mistakes indicate a lack of attention to detail. If I am thinking of hiring someone to take care of my business, I want someone who is brilliant in their field AND cares about the details..."
"If one person, someone who is important to you, forms a negative image of you because of something you've written, doesn't it make sense to be more mindful? I would hate to think that I was shut out of an opportunity because I failed to take a few extra minutes to ensure that my spelling and grammar were up to snuff."
As someone who makes a living writing and editing other people's copy, I've often wondered about the same thing when I see a lot of errors. I've made my share of typos in rushing out an email here and there, but it does seem that a business communication rife with errors really gets you off on the wrong foot.
Can you afford to take a chance? Are your content marketing efforts going to impact demand gen? You owe it to yourself to pay attention.
You want to talk about improvements? You know what needed improvement? The Boston Celtics, that's who. If you're a fan of basketball, or maybe even a fan of rivalries, maybe you, like me, watched the Boston Celtics crumble last Thursday night (June 17th). Two storied franchises, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics, both vying for the NBA Championship in a Game 7 match. Winner takes all, losers go home with their heads hanging low. For Celtics fan, it was a great game - up until the 3rd quarter. Spoiler alerts here, folks: The Celtics blew it. The Lakers tied the game and then went up and never looked back. It was a bad night for the Bean's Green, and their play in the 4th quarter certainly needed improvement -- minute by minute improvement -- constant improvement.
What about your B2B sales and marketing blog, though? I read 20-40 of them a day, do they need improvement? Are you on the verge of "blowing it" and driving prospects to competitors, or losing your industry leader status? Chances are, it could use some constant tweaking (I'm speaking to myself, too). Here are three ways, as we head into the second half of 2010, that you can improve your B2B sales and marketing blog:
- Revisit your blog's goals - When you first started writing your blog, you had a goal in mind. Maybe it was to establish your organization as a thought leader, maybe it was to bring awareness of your services or solutions, and more than likely, it was to create interest in your prospect audience. Somewhere along the line, maybe you've moved from one of those goals to another. That's not a bad thing, but maybe you've confused your audience. Go back and revisit what you intended to do when you first started. If that goal is still a worthwhile pursuit, resolve yourself to stick with it. If not, make the changes necessary to make your blog into what you want it to be. In my case, I had two goals, and I'm sticking to them: establish a leadership role in the b2b demand gen space (demand gen blog tag here), and to promote without being too self serving, the appointment setting and outbound marketing services offered by Green Leads. Not to mention SEO and Lead Generation.
- Write from a place of passion - This one really should go without saying. If you've lost passion for writing about your services or solutions, it's time to pass the torch onto someone else who may have some. That doesn't mean you can't pick it back up later when your batteries are recharged, but if you're not excited about what your writing about, neither will your audience be excited to read it. If you've got a "corporate" type blog, look for someone else who may have an interest in writing and encourage them to share their talents. And keep the passion regular -- be it once per week, or twice a day, maintain your article publishing consistency.
- Don't be afraid to stir the pot - While I don't necessarily subscribe to the belief that nice guys finish last, I do believe that nice guys are free to disagree with whomever they want, and then blog about it. The following two controversy articles were two of my highest traffic articles to date:
Web Leads: Pounce, Pause, Nurture or Wait
Lead Generation Tips: Take a 3 Hour Lunch
What I'm getting at here is that you shouldn't be afraid to use your blog to disagree with ideas or create controversial ones. It's a great way to get some good dialogue going with your audience. Remember, there's a good way to go about airing controversy, and there's a wrong way. We're all adults and professionals, so let's act like it. Don't hurt your brand.
What are some of the ways you go about improving your blog?
*Photo Credit: The Game Is On via Flickr
If someone has already written about this, forgive me. But twice in the past few weeks the discussion of real time search came up and how it might touch b2b demand gen. Today, unless someone is searching in multiple places -- Google, Twitter Search, Facebook Search and others -- they will never find the trending topics that people are talking about. When someone goes to Google and types "appointment setting," don't you want your organic results on the left and your real time social media posts on the right? I do.
Please blend Organic Search and Real Time Search on one page. Better, create algorithms that will show real time results from people "like me," not just from topics that sound or look like I'd like them. Personally, I'll love it. Professionally, I can see demand gen goodness for inbound marketing all over it. It will allow my prospects to find me in multiple different ways, and allow my real time content to be as valuable as my static content -- even if those searching aren't into Twitter or Facebook.
(credit: Google and Scoopler)
A while back, I read an article by Chris Brogan that discussed 19 chores we could each do daily to help us maintain an online presence. I was already doing a majority of the list, but then it got me thinking. What if I had my browser setup so when I wake up in the AM all my daily tasks for maintaining my social media prowess were just lined up waiting for me to get my coffee? Here's my Lead Generation Tip for today.
I've never been one to clutter up toolbars in a browser, but this seemed like a great reason to do it. So I bookmarked the following links and turned on the bookmarks toolbar. This allows me to wake up, sip my Greenest Bean coffee (organic, locally roasted), and make my presence known. I come back to it during the day when I need a break and hit them again.
- HootSuite - been using this since I uninstalled tweetdeck for locking up my system every day. I've got it all decked out with columns, tabs, subjects, friends, you name it
- Google Reader - still the easiest RSS reader going. Read up, schedule the best for tweets on HootSuite with Send Later. Comment on a few relevant articles
- Hubspot Dashboard - finds daily chores for me to do around blogging, keywords, search rankings, etc.
- LinkedIn Q&A - to maintain my top Lead Gen Expert status and to accept invites and other LinkedIn goodness
- Personal Facebook - post some drivel
- Company Facebook Fan Page - post some value
- Fast Company Blog - share an article
- Smashmouth Marketing Blog - write an article
- FriendFeed - check out friends thoughts
- SocialOomph - vet my new twitter followers
During the process, I usually digg or stumble a few articles as well.
ps. Look at the other top experts in the Lead Generation section of LinkedIn. I'm in good company!
What other daily tasks do you do to keep yourself in the frontlines? Leave a comment
Just a quick post to point readers to an interview of me on Marketo's blog, Demand Generation and Social Media: Thought Leadership with Mike Damphousse of Green Leads. Questions discussed:
What is B2B appointment setting? And why is it important to marketers?
When it comes to leads, quality or quantity?
You specialize in reaching CXOs and VPs. Can you give marketers three tips to connect with these hard to reach decision makers?
How does lead nurturing play a part in reaching these executive contacts?
I noticed you use Twitter frequently and have an active blog. How have these helped the success of your company, and what kind of budget and resources do you have to be so active in social media?
What metrics do you use to measure your social media success?
What are three tips that any marketer can use to increase their social media or blogging?
Hope you enjoy it and post some comments.
My vacation read was The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova - an incredibly told story of Dracula from both an historical perspective, a thriller, and a biographical twist. It was a great book and I recommend it highly, but after a couple hours per day, some rain and relaxation, my mind still wandered back to work. Not much, mind you, but enough so that I wondered if I should pay attention to it.
After talking with my wife and Green Leads business partner, Linda (who had no problem forgetting work), I stumbled upon the thought of doing those creative projects that I never have time for. I'm stimulated by creative work such as writing a fun blog article or doing a souped up graphic that is needed for a presentation, creative work for me is relaxing.
So these are the 5 things I did on vacation that were work, but were not mentally taxing in a work sort of way. I came back refreshed, despite the three days of rain:
- Write a couple blog articles - not the tough, fact filled kind, but the light ones that come easily. (I banged out 4 that I'll use for fillers in the future)
- Catch up on RSS feeds - peruse all those brilliant bloggers out there that you never have time to read
- Paint a picture - I've had a diagram that I've wanted to do for a presentation that has been lingering in my mind for months. Drawing stimulates a different part of the brain
- Comment - We all know that blog comments help with organic search results, cross linking, etc. We also know that we all have opinions. So go leave a few. Don't forget though, learn how to use HREF tags so you can link your brilliant comments back to your blog or to other relevant links -- otherwise, you're just typing
- Teach - Sharing what you know is typically a feel good, especially if it is voluntary. Find someone within vacation ear shot that could benefit by learning about twitter, or social media, or anything valuable, and share
What can Obama teach us b2b marketers? I was recently in a debate with a friend about Obama's marketing efforts. He had read an article about how the campaign was based on three simple tenants: Simplicity, Consistency and Relevance. I started exploring how the same three guidelines can be applied to marketing, especially as it pertains to demand generation. The examples I used were Cold Calling and Blog Marketing.
Blog Marketing - Writing a blog for business purposes isn't just a process of putting thoughts on the internet. It's about branding, educating the market, and thought leadership. It's about delivering messages that inspire conversation and allows readers to inform themselves and if interested, engage.
- Don't overwhelm a blog topic. Keep it simple. Provide basic information to open the knowledge share, provide links to other information, and keep it short enough that someone can scan it and/or absorb it at the pace they desire. Whitepapers and analyst reports are for lengthy detail.
- Be consistent about delivering content and messaging and presence. There is nothing worse than following someone's blog for months and then seeing it go blank for weeks. Or to see the shift from "Web 2.0" to "Social Media" overnight. Stay consistent, or at least emerge and grow with consistency.
- Stay on topic and be relevant. Stick with what you know. It is debatable whether a blogger should build some level of personal brand with off-topic content. But maybe put a relevant twist to it. For example, I'm passionate about Family and living a Green lifestyle, so I tie it into a post here and there, such as this article on Market Research, or this one on Father's Day.
Cold Calling - delivering a message to someone in a cold call is a process. Many people misunderstand the process of a cold call and lose the attention of the prospect. The same three pillars apply.
- First, it's not that the lead is cold, it's that you are catching the prospect "cold". You can take control of the call at that point. How do you take control? You only have 30 seconds to keep them from hanging up. Keep your opening simple. Enough said.
- The next 30 seconds allow you to continue to the real pitch. So make that 30 seconds relevant to what a prospect wants to hear. If you are calling to tell a CTO how your security software will help comply with Sarbanes Oxley, say that along with why they would want to continue the call. Don't bother with "How are you today?" (do you really care?) or "We're a leader in security software" (do they believe you?). Imagine Barack opening with "I'm the candidate everyone is voting for" (not interested?).
- Lastly, if you've gotten this far, then have the conversation, and stay consistent with your objective. If you are calling a C-level executive to set an appointment, then keep coming back to the appointment. If you are calling to invite the prospect to an event, keep inviting them. Don't waste time on the phone telling them how good the event will be. Just give them relevant info, consistently remind them why you are calling (appointment or invite) and let them decide. Barack didn't sell us, he informed us and we made decisions.
The world has changed. Buyers view the buying process in a different way. They are more sophisticated. They make decisions differently. They listen to their peers and the industry more than they used to. Help them through this process by giving them what they need and want. They will reach out to you, and they will be receptive.
We've all seen it, more than web publishers would like. That dreaded 404 Page not found error. A couple months ago, someone wrote to me regarding my company site saying they got an external link back to my site and received a 404 error because the linker mistakenly referenced the URL. It happens. Then one day I stumbled on Smashing Magazine's article that showed creative 404 pages. I hadn't even known that using the 404 error to go to a specific page was possible. But now that I did, I was determined to use it to my advantage, and I recommend you do the same with your site.
We created a simple 4 panel video with some Green Leads messaging about appointment setting. It's sweet, short, and conveys what we want to convey in 15 seconds. Now that's a good use of someone's typo mistake.
To see it work, you can type any url address at www.green-leads.com that may not exist, like http://www.green-leads.com/missingpage.html or yourname.html, whatever. The missing page will redirect your browser to our video. Try it. Type in anything you want after the ".com/" and it will work.
You can learn how to create your own custom 404 page here.
Just got an interview published on Craig Rosenberg's funnelholic blog. I'll share the intro here, and you can get the rest of the article on the site. Craig is publishing a series of Thought Leader articles and thus far they have been great reading for B2B Marketers. You can find all his articles on his site.
Thanks Craig! Enjoyed doing the interview.
"Having worked with Mike Damphousse over the last couple of years, I can tell you this: He has a value-added opinion on anything and everything. Check out his blog and you’ll believe me. He is the expert in one of the hardest things to do in lead gen: Getting an appointment for the sales rep."