Time is of the Essence!

To make any kind of impact on social media, it is imperative that your content be timely.  That’s why you should start each day by viewing search alerts from your web search engines of choice, on topics that are meaningful to your business and industry.  You need to know what’s going on NOW.  The reasoning here is simple: keep your web presence as current as possible. It strengthens your business reputation, and your blog’s SEO.  And, you always have stuff to write about!

Here’s a quick lesson on how to get pertinent, timely information delivered to you when you need it:

  1. Where do you go? Log into your Google account, and go to http://www.google.com/alerts.  (Yes, you can do this with other search engines, too.)
  2. Where do you search?  Don’t limit the scope of your search to just news or just discussions, at least initially. Search everything, including other people’s social media!
  3. What do you search?  Create search alerts on your name, your business or product name, and some industry keywords.  Don’t forget your competitors’ names and products.  Do each of these separately, otherwise you will have bloated search results.  Use quotation marks to focus on “specific terms” such as “your name.”
  4. When do you want to be notified?  At very least, once daily.  But depending on your industry, you may want to be notified “as it happens.”  Beware of having too broad a search when you use immediate notification; your inbox will fill up quickly.

Consider doing this with a variety of search engines, such as Yahoo!, Northern Light, Bing, etc.

But a word of caution: become adept at quickly scanning and assessing these alerts.  If you fully investigate each citation, you will have created an incredible time-suck.

So focus on the hot news, and when something catches your eye, immediately write something about it, link to its source, and share it with your world!

–Chuck Dennis

8 Steps to Recovering “Lost” Customers

Because we’re so focused on generating new business, recovering old accounts is usually not a priority. But it’s a great revenue strategy to identify recovery targets and develop an action plan to go get them. Here are some steps to get you started:

1.  Research your customer database for all customers that have not done business with you for one year or more.

2.  Segment the list into groups of one year, two years, three-plus – and then sort by sales territory.

3.  Review each list with customer service and the territory sales rep to see if they have any intelligence on why the customer left.

4.  Check in with other key personnel who have been with your company for a while and have had customer contact, to see if there is any anecdotal information.

5.  Categorize the reasons for leaving and work with marketing to construct tailored messages for the major categories.

6.  Create a multi-touch field campaign to start to re-engage – holding out those you know had a service issue.  The goal is to get agreement for a preliminary live conversation with a sales rep.

7.  Do NOT try to sell them anything in the first live meeting. This is only step one in earning back their business.

8.  For service-issue customers, re-engagement requires a personal touch. Determine what the nature of the issue was, and what you can offer them now that might be worth reconsidering you as a vendor.

For this to work, you need patience and consistency. So make Customer Recovery a key aspect of every monthly sales meeting. Track and report on the process of recovery for each of the identified targets and make sure everyone in the company knows what is happening, and when you win them back or why you didn’t.

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Customers: Lost & Found

This is why you think the customers that you have lost have stopped doing business with you:

•    Can’t compete on price
•    Key contact left the company
•    Bad customer experience
•    Ummm… don’t know why

In reality, here are some real reasons they gave as to why they stopped doing business with you:

•    Vendor stopped calling us
•    Didn’t grow with us
•    Unwilling to be creative
•    Only heard from them at renewal time
•    Unresolved bad customer experience
•    Someone else wanted the business more

The differences between these two sets of reasons point to a key communication gap. A typical scenario: Former Customer says,“I never hear from them, and someone else appeared who took more time with us. So we went with a new outfit.”

When asked if they would consider doing business with their old vendor again, Former Customer said he would certainly consider it, but wasn’t sure that his business was important to them. This should be an “a-ha!” moment for the old vendor.

So think about it: what if you could recover 10-20 percent of your lost customers? It would likely have a significant revenue impact for you not only this year, but in future years.  It’s not always comfortable to reach out to former customers, especially if they were disgruntled.  But you may find it well worth your time to reconnect, and this time, LISTEN to them.  Addressing their issues might be easier than you think.

Click here to read more.

— Lisa Dennis

Socially Speaking

As social media becomes more and more prevalent in business, two things have become apparent.

One, social media for business is about your customer’s and prospect’s preferences, not your own.  This means utilizing the platforms that your target audience prefers, not the ones YOU prefer.  This may seem like an elementary statement, but human nature often pushes us into our own
comfort levels, as opposed to places unfamiliar to us.  Find out where your customers and prospects hang out online, and make sure you have a significant presence there.  Don’t assume! Ask them; find out what they like about Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.  Then make sure you are there, giving them the relevant content that they desire.

Two, your social media platforms need to support and talk to one another.  People who find your business page on one platform should be directed to your pages on other relevant platforms.  In addition to the ubiquitous icons of Facebook, Twitter, and the like that now regularly appear on web pages and email signature files, many of these platforms themselves now allow for crosspollination.  For example, Facebook has an app that can lead people who land on your business page, and allow them to sign up for your Constant Contact newsletter.

As businesspeople, we know that there are few things move precious than our mailing lists.  These are people who are asking us to contact them, so it behooves us to provide easy access for them. Constant Contact and Facebook have done just that.  Check it out!

Let us know how you are sharing your social media pages with customers.  Or ask us questions about how to better leverage your social media accounts.  We’d love to exchange thoughts and ideas on this topic!

– Chuck Dennis

Qualified Deals: do you have any??

Qualified Deals: do you have any?? Answer these questions and find out.

• What is the business pain the prospect is experiencing – in their language?
• How is the project need defined by the prospect and can we address it?
• Does the project have both a name and a budget?
• What is the time frame for a decision AND for a completed implementation?
• Who are the members and their roles on the decision making team?
• What are the criteria for each member of the decision making team?
• When do they expect a completed proposal?
• Who else are they talking to and how likely is it that we will make the shortlist?

http://ow.ly/6AOkc

Who Cares if Prospects “Fit?” You Should!

Over the past several years, most of us would say that any prospect with a pulse is a good prospect. But the reality is there are a number of other criteria that actually determine who is the best target. The stronger the fit of the prospect, the better chances you have to turn them into a profitable customer.

Given that the most limited resource you have is time – a random approach to working your sales territories has the potential to leave a lot of unclaimed revenue on the table.  Not to mention your valuable time, blowing around like leaves in the autumn wind.

Over the years, we have preached the importance of “doing your homework.”  This is not just a cute tagline; this is a serious strategy for everyone who needs to make sales.  In archery, hitting a target is a lot easier and more productive if you are aiming at the right target, and within reasonable shooting distance from it.  If that same archer was blindfolded, and spun around a few times before shooting, how many bulls-eyes would he hit?  How many times would he even hit the target?

Doing your homework, especially regarding your target prospects, will help you aim and focus on the right target, to increase your chances of a hit on each shot you take.  This is just smart business.

Please read my article on Creating a ‘Customer Fit Index’ for your Sales Territory” for some ideas on how to focus on the right targets.

— Lisa Dennis

Customer Fit: Do You Know What You Are Seeking?

You’re looking for more business.  The bad news is, so is everyone else in the world.  the good news is, you have a plan.  At least you will after reading this.

Evaluate the makeup of your best customers.  Things to consider:

  • market position
  • revenue size of organization
  • number of employees
  • market type
  • technology platform
  • competitive strategy
  • core business challenge
  • opportunity size
  • core product penetration
  • level of support needed
  • referral or reference potential
  • industry fit.

What common factors do they share?  What trends do you see emerging?

Develop your own set of custom criteria, get internal buy-in for the list, and prioritize by overall value to your business.  Go do this!  Now!

— Lisa Dennis

Creating a ‘customer fit index’ for your sales territory

Knowledgence’s president, Lisa Dennis, has a strategic & tactical article for salespeople in Mass High Tech http://ow.ly/65Ozd

So Many Sins, So Little Time

I read an interesting, if somewhat basic, article by Stephanie Parker yesterday, on SocialMediaToday.com, entitled 7 Deadly Sins of Social Media.  In this article, Ms Parker lists some guidelines (I think “deadly sins” is a little dramatic in this case, but hey, it got my attention) for newbies on the social media business scene.

She discusses the pitfalls of posting too much, and posting too little, and how doing either can damage your credibility in the social media community.  While there is no general standard for amount of posting one organization should do in any given day/week/month, the old phrase “moderation in all things” applies here.  Posting too much makes you a blabbermouth; posting too little makes you a wallflower.  Neither extreme will help your business.

Along the same lines, Ms Parker addresses the nature of what you share.  You don’t have to be, nor should you be, “all business, all the time.”  Keep the “social” in social media by posting or commenting on things that you think might interest your followers, but not to the point that you become known as the wacky organization that posts all the cute kitty videos.  But if your personal interest in music / art / literature/ photography / etc. intersects somehow with the nature of your business, by all means, share it with your followers.  This presents your human side, and ultimately, people do business with people they like.  So be likable!

Another part of what makes social media social is the interactivity. Don’t just be a facilitator, be a participant.  On your own pages, if you start a conversation that people join, make sure you contribute and respond to other people’s posts.  If people are contributing on your pages, it’s because they want you to hear what they think, and they want to hear what you think.  And to that end, Ms Parker also urges you to participate in a variety of social media sites.  Different sites have different strengths and weaknesses, and target audiences.  If you’re going to do social media correctly, you want to be seen at all the cool places.

Her final warning is a good one: not to get too hung up on metrics.  There are ways of measuring the effectiveness and ROI of social media, but ultimately, you are trying to increase your business’ visibility and build some relationships.  Do that over time, and the ROI will come.

Chuck Dennis

Use value to break through voicemail and gatekeepers

Use value to break through voicemail and gatekeepers. Does your message or opening sound like every other sales person? Are you repeating the same message over and over, and wonder why no one is calling you back? Develop strong, important, customer-focused unique selling propositions (USPs) and then dole them out one at a time, as you move through the cycle to get a live connection. This gives you the ability to add something new to every contact you make to get the meeting. This is much more intriguing to a prospect than hearing the same “sales-y” message repeatedly. http://ow.ly/5MLcf

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