This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Embrace the Sales 2.0 Movement to Increase
Sales and Outsmart Your Competition
by Justyn Howard
Embrace The Sales 2.0 Movement To Increase Sales And Outsmart
By Justyn Howard
Please share freely under the Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 license.
Copyright © 2007, 2009 by Justyn Howard All Rights Reserved
Editor: Preston Hull, Layout: Valerie Spencer
Note from the
It’s been almost 2 years since the first edition of this book (then
titled the Passive Pipeline) was written. In that time the processes
and tools available to help Sales Professionals work smarter have
been enhanced dramatically. Tools like LinkedIn and targeted email
marketing have become commonplace. Technologies like Twitter
and the iPhone have given us new opportunities, and a whole new
breed of software like InsideView, Genius.com and SlideRocket has
Many of the tools I wrote about in 2007 have been replaced with more
powerful and easier to use resources.
In terms of efficiency and productivity it’s a better world for
professional sales today. Unfortunately, our economy has also
temporarily handicapped us, so it’s more important than ever for Sales
Professionals to work smarter and more efficiently. It’s more important
than ever to embrace new tools and processes when engaging
with prospects and customers. Those of us who take this as an
opportunity to grow will increase their business dramatically while our
competition and those around us who choose not to do so will find
this business climate very difficult.
We’re facing reductions in sales forces across the globe. Companies
will be forced to do more with less. Those of us fortunate enough to
stay employed will have to become better than ever at maximizing our
productivity and finding new ways of conducting business.
That has always been the spirit of this book, as well as improving the
buyer-seller experience by bringing a more professional level of sales
to the mainstream.
Sell Smarter will give you new ideas and increases in efficiency. There
are lots of ways to be more effective in your work, many of them
coming from advances in intuitive web technology. Consider this book
an opportunity to grow your skill-set and leave your competition and
coworkers wondering how you blew out your sales quota in the midst
of a recession.
Did I mention you no longer have to cold-call? I haven’t made one in
nearly three years, yet I still managed to have a record year in 2008
and a 300% 4th quarter during the economic collapse. Yes, I am a
current quota-carrying Sales Professional who uses everything written
in these pages. I simply won’t share a tool or practice that I have not
used and found success with.
I hope you embrace the ideas presented. If they help in some way,
please recommend this book to a friend or colleague.
Thank you, and I wish you all the best in 2009.
Be sure to register at
for free frequent updates.
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
What You Will Learn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
What’s Possible? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Adopt Or Perish . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
How To Use This Book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
The Broken Model . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
How Salespeople Perpetuate Dysfunctional Buying Practices . . . . . . . . . 25
How Sales Managers Perpetuate Dysfunctional Selling Practices . . . . . . . 30
Quick Tips: Professional Selling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
Data Is Power . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
The Power Of Data In Sales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
Customer Relationship Management Software . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
Assessing Your Current Solution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
Choosing A CRM Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
The Power Of Queries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
Turbo Charge Your CRM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57
Quick Tips: Client Relationships . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
A New Era In Email Marketing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
Then And Now . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
Why Email Marketing Works . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
Standard Email Equals Lost Business . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
Choosing The Right Email Tool . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
Build Your Mailing Lists . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72
The Absolutes For Email Success . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
Building Your Email Strategy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
Using Email Templates To Boost Productivity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76
The Elements Of A Good Email Signature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
Crafting Emails That Get Responses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
Avoid The Most Common Email Mistakes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
Permission Based Email . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
Legal Considerations For Email . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
Reporting & Analytics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90
Email Automation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91
Newsletters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92
Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
Important Lessons About Communication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94
Blogging . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96
Why Should Sales Professionals Blog? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
Reasons Why You Should Blog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100
Is Blogging Right For You And Your Business? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105
Definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109
Building Your Blog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110
Easy Ways To Build Blog Traffic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119
Maximize Your Reach With Quality Content . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123
Analyzing And Tuning Your Blog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125
Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128
Quick Tips: Sales Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129
The New Professional Networking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 132
Your Personal Business Network – Compliments Of Web 2.0 . . . . . . . . 132
Enter Web 2.0-Powered Personal Business Networking. . . . . . . . . . . . . 133
How LinkedIn Can Impact Your Sales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135
How To Build (Or Enhance) Your LinkedIn Network . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141
Twitter: A Quick Guide For Sales Pro’s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144
Developing A Social Networking Strategy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148
Managing Your Online Reputation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153
Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157
How To Create And Deliver A Great Sales Presentations . . . 158
Discovery vs. Presentation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160
To present last? Or first? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160
In Person vs. Virtual . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162
Slides. Slides. Slides. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 167
Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 173
Quick Tips: Meetings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 174
Creating A Defined Short-List Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 176
Additional Tools And Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180
SlideRocket! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 181
LovelyCharts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 182
Jigsaw . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183
Sales Success Forums . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 184
Zoominfo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185
Microsoft Live Writer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186
Remember The Milk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187
GetAbstract . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 188
Xobni . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189
LeadLander . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 190
Google Reader . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191
Google Alerts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 192
Tying It All Together . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 195
Putting A Plan Into Action . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197
CRM Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 201
Email Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 201
Blog Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 202
Additional Software Tools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 202
Recommended Readings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204
There are many absolutes in sales, but one supersedes all others: In
order to earn business you must be invited to the table. You “Must be
present to win”.
Another absolute is that your chances of winning are directly affected
by the stature with which you enter the equation. I call this your
Credibility Upon Entry (CUE).
This book is a collection of tools, techniques and processes designed
to increase your effectiveness in these two areas. While there are many
stages in the sales process, without an effective means to execute
the first two, the rest become useless. Many of the ideas presented
will increase your effectiveness throughout the sales process but our
focus will be on getting you to the closing table, poised to win.
This book will help you build a set of processes and tools to
dramatically increase your presence, find more opportunities and
increase your close rate. Best of all, many of the components are
automated. They work 24 hours a day to promote you and your
business and they do so more efficiently and with better results than
you could possibly achieve alone.
New advances in
sales have been
absent for at least
It’s no secret that cold-calling no longer works well. It’s a fact that you
spend more than half of your time working on deals that you have
little chance of winning. And it’s an unfortunate truth that less than
one quarter of your time is spent actually selling. With the tools and
technologies available to sales professionals today, these truths will
no longer limit your success.
The concepts embedded in this book have been in use since the
onset of trading and selling. An example is traditional professional
networking. Networking has always been the process of forging
relationships that will capture future business. Well-executed networks
continue to generate business with very little maintenance. The same
is true with the Passive Pipeline, but on a much grander scale.
Networking will always be a staple of the business community, but
there are dozens of new, more effective techniques emerging that are
easy to use and less taxing on our most precious resource…time!
In addition to increasing your market presence, these techniques will
create a sphere of influence around your sales process that will make
it nearly impossible for competitors to derail you.
There have been tremendous advances in technology in the last ten
years, and the opportunities they present in sales are staggering.
Unfortunately, most traditional sales wisdom was established before
these new tools were invented or widely accepted.
“My belief and experience
is that if people have
a better model, better
skills and if they get
better results, they will
change. Otherwise they
will fall back on what they
know, even if it seems
– Mahan Khalsa
In fact, it’s often acknowledged that new innovations in sales process
have been absent for at least 30 years. Fortunately there have recently
been major developments in Sales 2.0 tools, though adoption of these
tools has not yet hit critical mass. In this book, I plan to show you
ways to advance your own selling practices beyond the majority.
Many sales professionals are already using the techniques I will discuss
and these early adopters are cashing in. Others are so busy trying
to reach quota and are too entrenched to realize they’re being left
behind. A power shift is ensuing in our field between those who
embrace technology and those who do not.
It will become increasingly harder for those who don’t embrace
technology and new methods to capture business. The gap between
sales professionals who understand how to be effective in today’s
business climate and those who don’t is widening every day.
At this very moment, by reading this book, you have a head start.
It will be years before widespread change occurs. Even if changing
the way you work seems a little daunting, get started now. Seize this
opportunity to advance your sales career to a new level!
What You Will Learn
Sell Smarter is a series of tools and techniques that operate on the
same premise as networking: build your pipeline, infuse your influence
via the network, and increase your income, all while spending your
time working with high-potential prospects and adding a great deal of
value to their buying process.
Each component of this system serves this purpose in some way,
while the core of creating a passive pipeline chains these components
together to create a perpetual business-building process requiring
The ideas we will discuss cover two major components:
1. The first are the tools and techniques designed to positively
impact your sales, either through generating opportunities,
securing the opportunities you have, or enhancing your influence
and outreach, all while saving you a tremendous amount of time.
2. The second component involves chaining all of these tools and
techniques together to unlock their real power. The entire process
creates an automated, cyclical pipeline-building “machine” with
many points of entry and a single uniform purpose. Skillfully
intertwining these ideas will elevate the effectiveness and
professionalism with which you work.
What it can
do for you.
Here are some of the things you will accomplish in the
Your prospective clients will prefer to do business with you,
before you ever even speak to them.
You will manage your prospects’ buying and selection
process with exclusive authority.
You will know who is buying before they ever tell you (or
You can create at least three times more opportunities than
you are capable of generating with your current efforts.
You will become an invaluable resource to your prospects,
someone whose expertise they would not consider moving
You will obtain the most comprehensive set of demographic
and contact data possible for your market.
You will be able to execute the most precise and effective
prospecting efforts possible, without wasting your time on
ineffective and outdated methods.
You will build a highly visible list of professional references
that will turn your contacts into your greatest lead source and
eliminate the need for self-promotion.
You will save hours every week in building your business,
while seeing exponentially better results.
You will effortlessly build tremendous credibility that will
increase your stature before ever interacting with a prospect.
You can “own” your territory in a manner that was never
You can be the first person into every deal you work.
You will close more business, make your boss smile, frame
your next W2 and steal your competitor’s commission!
These are pretty aggressive goals, and without the advances in
technology over the last 10 years, they would be impossible. Sales is
a fast moving occupation. We tend to get so overwhelmed with the
task at hand that we fail to recognize innovation.
Our profession as a whole is notorious for being stuck on what worked
yesterday (in some cases it didn’t even work then). Small pockets of
sales professionals such as real estate and recruiting have admirably
embraced change and have found great success in doing so.
The biggest change that will work to our advantage is that these tools
and techniques are no longer exclusive to those with tremendous
resources and technical savvy. The learning curve is gone. Anyone
can use these techniques with similar results, but the reality is that
not many are today. You still have a great opportunity to outmaneuver
Imagine if the following were true:
You could be alerted when a prospect was evaluating a
competitor’s product or service.
Prospects sought you out for advice and expertise at the
beginning of the buying process.
You could see in real time when a prospect or client opened your
email or visited your website.
Your sales presentations were more relevant and more valuable.
You were involved with every buying process in your territory.
You could be alerted when potential clients were unhappy with
All of these things (and many more) are already possible.
The next few pages contain three real-world examples of how we
can leverage widely available technology to increase our sales and
outsmart our competition. As you’re reading the next few pages,
ask yourself how these scenarios differ from your current business
practices. Focus on not only the practice being executed, but also the
ease and “passiveness” with which it is performed.
Real-World Example #1
Yesterday I received a press release from our marketing department
regarding a client in the banking business. Within five minutes, I had
personally emailed every contact I had in the financial industry. The
email included a note stating that I thought their team might find the
attached article of interest. I also included several links to various
articles I wrote and published on the web, to product pages, to
downloads, and I closed with a call to action.
This is pretty basic, right? You can do all of this today, right? But
The real WOW factor came a little later in the day. By utilizing one of
the tools we will discuss later, I was able to see who opened my email,
whether it was forwarded to any coworkers, and precisely which links
in the email were followed. Sounding better?
My call to action had prompted a few responses already, but what
about the ones that hadn’t responded?
I noticed a contact I hadn’t spoken with for some time had
downloaded the RFP template that was included as a link in my email.
I called and told her I noticed she had downloaded the template. I had
the opportunity to chat with her regarding her future business plans. I
asked her the following questions:
“Is your team planning to source in the near future?”; “Would you like a
sample business case that some of my clients have used in the past to
sell the project to executives?”; and “Anything else I can help you out
Using traditional practices, this would have been just another marketing
email sent off into the abyss. I would have never known that she visited
our website, or that she was even interested in buying at this time. This
particular contact is just one of a couple dozen that took measurable
action as a result of this email.
Realistically, I probably never would have sent this email if it weren’t
for my Passive Pipeline. I simply never had the time or the data for
precision marketing of this nature.
If you’re like most people, you may send out a mass (untargeted)
email or newsletter once or twice a month. Once in a while you may
even get a response and close new business. The days of those
ineffective practices are numbered. We will discuss some more
amazing things you can do with your marketing efforts in 2009.
Real-World Example #2: (this one hits on several fronts)
Establish yourself as a sought-after expert in your field.
Have prospects that want and prefer to do business with
you, before you even speak to them.
Manage your prospects’ buying and selection processes
with exclusive authority.
Know who is buying before they ever tell you (or anyone else).
Be the first person into every deal you work.
Blogging is a very important opportunity for sales professionals, so
I have dedicated an entire chapter to it. We’ve all heard of blogging,
and tens of thousands of people make a living at it, but what you
might not know is that it can be the #1 source of new opportunities for
Today, I noticed that a top-level manager for a company I have been
courting for over a year downloaded an RFP template (the same one
I mentioned in the previous example) that I had posted on my blog.
This in itself is a great thing because the template was authored by my
company and was understandably in our favor.
I called the contact to follow up and ask him about his current plans
for sourcing this solution.
As the conversation progressed, I learned that my blog had a direct
feed into his team’s intranet site and that they had been following it for
some time. Furthermore, they found my articles very useful and began
to use my insight as a measure of their project strategy as they moved
I cannot imagine a better example of Credibility Upon Entry (CUE).
Not only did this prospect see me as an expert, his team was using
my materials to develop their strategy. On top of that, I was able to
manage the buying process through my RFP template. I was now
the first person in the deal and the prospect was predisposed to rely
on my expertise. How hard do you think it’s going to be for another
salesperson to get the upper hand in a sales process like this?
Real-World Example #3:
Prior to my calls in both of the previous examples, I was able to, from
within my contact management software:
See all relevant company data including size, locations,
Determine any contacts I had in common with the person I was
calling including current and past employers (e.g. Dave used to
work at IBM with Joe’s current boss)
See buying triggers including acquisitions, jop openings, news
These are just a few examples of how the tools we will cover can be
combined to elevate your business to a new level. There are dozens
more in the pages of this book. The power of combining these
strategies is even greater the more tactics you utilize.
“These things won’t work for me!”
As I was writing this book, I thought about the salespeople who are
process-regimented and not creatively encouraged. I played devil’s
advocate for a minute and went over the possible scenarios:
“that’s not how my company works” – mine either.
“my company handles all of our marketing efforts” – mine too.
“my company dictates what email programs and relationship
management software I use” – mine too.
“I don’t have time for all of this stuff” – neither did I, which is
exactly why I had to embrace and develop these techniques.
My point is that I am well aware of the typical structure and tools
available on today’s sales floor. The good news is, these tools won’t
turn your company upside down or mean that a battle with IT is
imminent. I have worked for two organizations in the past 10 years,
each with very different requirements and procedures. In both, I was
able to deploy and develop the techniques in this book with very little
the ideas that
I have also used these practices in my own businesses. Those of you
working independantly or running your own business will have even
more flexibility in building your Passive Pipeline.
You don’t need to adopt everything presented in this book to make
a dramatic impact on your business. While the ultimate power of the
Passive Pipeline is in using all of the tools combined, don’t be afraid
to start with the few you think will provide the greatest benefit. You
can do away with the tools that don’t make sense for your business.
I don’t use them all in my 9-5 (err…7-7) job. Some of them are not a
good fit. Some of the ideas make more sense for my other endeavors.
The more ideas you can adapt to your business, the better the results.
Adopt Or Perish
We need to face the fact that there are people working smarter and
more efficiently than we are. If we don’t start to recognize that the
business climate has changed and start using the powerful tools
available to us, someone else will. Your competition might be three
chapters ahead of you in this very book. Start today and stop letting
someone else steal your commission!
I’m not an established author, sales coach, or motivational speaker.
What I am is a top performing Enterprise Sales Professional with a
creative mind and a knack for technology and writing. I am a student
of sales, a believer in helping my clients succeed, and an observer of
human nature. And one more...I have been able to remain at the top
of the sales board for nearly my entire career by defying tradition and
finding new ways to excel.
When I first entered the sales profession, I pounded the phones to
make contacts and attempt to secure clients because that’s the way I
was taught. I was in a competitive industry at the time (I still am), and
I quickly realized I was going to need a more effective way to build my
pipeline and get a head start on my better-known and more seasoned
competitors. My natural curiosity, computer savvy, and desire to excel
began forming the ideas that evolved into this book. This was only
nine years ago, but it may as well have been a million years because
of the way technology advances.
As I began learning and applying the strategies I will be discussing in
this book, I presented a problem for my employers. I was at the top of
the sales board (usually by a good margin), but I didn’t employ many
of the practices they were teaching and measuring. In some cases,
they stopped posting certain metrics because they didn’t want the
rest of the sales staff to see that I had the highest sales and the lowest
“metrics” of anyone on the sales floor. I was doing very much the
opposite of what was taught and required of salespeople.
Luckily, some managers were accepting of my “alternative” ideas, and
some converted, but this was not always the case. I’ve been called
un-teachable, difficult and lazy (though not according to my sales
numbers). Yet I’ve had former employers later request that I teach
them about the methods I was using to succeed.
Technology has provided advantages that weren’t available when
the “legendary” sales books were written, or when your supervisor
entered sales, or when your company’s founders established their
“tried and true” sales system. It’s time to embrace today’s tools and
take our profession to a new level.
I absolutely love what I do and I hold a 110% conviction that we
maintain one of the most important, challenging and respectable
jobs that exists. You’ve probably heard the phrase “nothing happens
until someone sells something”. It’s true, and it breaks my heart
to see salespeople who, by using senseless, unfocused methods,
are perpetuating the false notion that we are to be avoided and
As I developed the practices I will be sharing with you, I had no
intention of writing a book. I didn’t really think what I was doing was
that uncommon. I was simply trying to discover a better way to
succeed in my profession. If I was going to be doing sales for the long
haul, then I was determined to make the most of it.
Over the last couple of years, I really started to develop a system for
my approach to business. Technology became integral and allowed
me to do my work even more efficiently. When I finally stopped long
enough to evaluate my evolving business approach, I came to an
unexpected conclusion: my techniques really were unique. I began
to look around for other resources: books, seminars, workshops; any
means to help me expand my skills. I rapidly came to the conclusion
that this type of support didn’t exist for sales professionals. I had to
rely on books and seminars for Internet entrepreneurs and online
marketing experts to learn more. It was frustrating because no
educational opportunities were put into a context that spoke to our
profession. The great authors and speakers and coaches in the sales
world had either missed these advances or chose to ignore them. I
think it was simply because they were unfamiliar concepts and widely
There are hundreds of books published every year about the
human and psychological aspects of sales, selling style, how to ask
questions, negotiating and creating rapport, the way that business is
evolving, and how we must adapt. To date, there is little about how
technology can be used in sales to do our jobs more effectively. There
is not a single book targeted at sales professionals regarding the
effective use of a CRM system, online personal business networking,
or targeted email campaigns at the sales representative level.
No one can argue with the fact that the greatest impact in the last 50
years of business evolution is technology. However, when was the
last time you read anything about using technology in a sales book?
You may have read about how to manage your time using a PDA or
the “do’s and don’ts” of email marketing, but tell me about something
that can really make a difference in your sales potential! There are
some phenomenal sales tools available today, and they will play an
important role in your success.
How To Use This Book
This book is composed of both explanation and application. I
recommend you read through once to fully understand the concepts.
Don’t stop and begin work in any one area. After your first reading, it
will serve as a workbook and you can begin to implement the ideas
While engaged in this book, make note of the concepts and
methodologies that can be applied to your business. While most
people will find all the concepts are applicable, certain elements
will have a more substantial and immediate impact. Focus on
implementing those ideas first; move on to the others later.
As I have mentioned, the real power of what you will learn will
be realized when several of these ideas are working together
simultaneously. However, don’t attempt to pull all the methods
together at one time, as you will likely find yourself overwhelmed. This
may result in several half-attempts resulting in your failing to obtain the
benefits of each concept.
Software & Links
Throughout the book you will see references to software, websites
and blogs. Whenever possible, I have included a direct link to the
software download, article, website, etc. At the time this book was
The tools are
easy to use.
published all links were active.
If any of the links stop working, please email me at justyn@
The majority of the tools and services discussed in this book are either
free or available at a very low cost. They are also all easy to use.
The Broken Model
The world of buying and selling is constantly changing, while
mysteriously our approach to sales is not. Unfortunately, mediocre
selling and buying practices have become the norm over the years,
leaving buyers skeptical and sellers willing to compromise in order to
make a sale. The more prospects resist, the more disconnected our
selling practices become.
For success in sales today, we have to identify means to change
the apathy in the sales industry and deliver value to our prospective
customers in a different, more subtle, (but quite deliberate) fashion.
Buyers today have what are often unreasonable expectations. You
must know how to meet the consumers’ needs but they provide you
with little or no useful information with which to do so.
Because of past experiences and skepticism, some buyers attempt
to answer all of their own questions and then simply look for the best
bid. If buyers truly had the expertise to pull this off, they wouldn’t
need outside vendors at all. The buyer’s request or demand that no
meaningful discussion take place between you and the very people
whose needs are meant to be met.
If you sell to businesses, you’ve likely heard, “it’s all in the RFP.” If you
want to secure a sale, you must follow the outlined process and ask all
questions in a public forum. By no means are you to vary from these rules.
Any attempts to consult directly with the business owners or to
uncover what really needs to transpire in order to meet their needs are
often met with scrutiny and you will probably (unknowingly) be labeled
as “difficult.” In an honest effort to do what is in the best interest of the
client, you are seen as making the buyer’s job harder.
In dealing with consumers, you may be perceived as just a
commissioned salesperson who knows little about the product and
who certainly doesn’t have the consumer’s best interests in mind.
Consumers have been conditioned to avoid and mistrust salespeople
even more than corporate buyers, though it’s usually a silent matter.
The sad reality is that the buyers are not to blame for this scenario.
Salespeople have been using inadequate selling practices for so long
that the consumer’s suspicion is justified. You can’t take it personally.
The problem stems from thousands of salespeople before you who
made buyers feel compromised. Executives have had their time wasted.
Receptionists have been reprimanded for allowing salespeople through.
Salespeople continuously cold-call people who have no interest in the
product or service being offered and add absolutely no value to the
These are just a few examples, but you get the idea. The skepticism
we face is, in most ways, justified. It’s not personal, but it’s very real.
As a result we have been trained to get past the “gatekeeper.” We
have learned how to leave vague or urgent messages that prompt
a response. We develop “elevator pitches” to sell our product in 30
seconds (because we are conditioned to think that’s all the time a
salesperson should expect to get).
As much as I would like to see a change in this grim reality, it’s unlikely
to happen (at least not in the next couple of lifetimes). What we can
do is commit to working above the standard that exists in sales today.
If we can infuse the system with more effective practices, we will be
able to disassociate ourselves from this pattern.
Change is urgently needed. We’re never going to be exceptionally
successful in sales if we must continually battle the poor buying and
selling practices that we (as a whole) have created. Instead, we need
to move forward from this point by building a new foundation which
fosters success for both the buyer and seller.
In the grand scheme, we can see this as an opportunity to be the
trend setters for a new approach to sales. It’s much easier to stand
out in a crowd when you adopt an approach that promotes a winning
situation for all parties. We have the capacity to turn a poor perception
of salespeople into a powerful tool for change. We ultimately want to
associate with the clients who appreciate our hard work, not the ones
that lump us in with the negative stereotype of what a “salesperson”
In addition to providing you the ability to uncover more opportunities,
this approach allows you to do so on terms that are conducive to a
successful sales process. How much better do you feel about your job
when you are seen as a trusted advisor to your clients rather than an
annoyance? My goal is that you never experience the latter again.
Sales professionals like you and I add value to the people we serve.
We take our chosen profession very seriously. We are mindful
of our prospective clients’ time and therefore we work hard to
best meet their business goals. We don’t need an elevator pitch
because the people we serve respect and value our opinions and
recommendations and will allow us the time needed to help them be
This is my reality, and I hope it is yours. The distrust and skepticism
we face in the sales industry is no reflection of the way we do
business. They are part of the perception created by our cohorts and
many salepeople before us. It may be surprising that something as
impersonal as technology might be the key to regaining the respect
and trust of our current and future clients, but it’s true.
is a prospect
How Salespeople Perpetuate
Dysfunctional Buying Practices
The single biggest way that salespeople perpetuate this broken model
is the manner in which we solicit opportunities (prospecting). At some
point in your career, you have likely been told that if you make 100
phone calls, you will speak to 10 people, book 2-3 appointments and
make one sale (or some similar version of this nonsense). You are told
it’s a numbers game. More contacts equates to more sales.
I argue that the more ineffective calls you make, the lower your
chances of success in the long run. Out of the 100 people you call,
how many of them will need your product or service over the next
couple of years? Many of them probably will, but how many of them
do you alienate and irritate using the methods we currently employ?
More often than not, those opportunities are lost forever.
The fact is that a very small percentage of the people you contact are
in fact ready to buy today. However, by calling these folks constantly
you are putting yourself at risk of being categorized as the type of
salesperson they would like to avoid. In their opinion, you are just
another needy salesperson about to waste their time (especially if they
don’t need what you are selling).
The consequence of this “tactic” is that prospects don’t call you back.
In fact, they won’t return any of your phone calls or emails. At some
point during this one-sided exchange, something important happens
that most of us fail to realize: that person makes a subconscious
decision at that very moment to never contact you. Even six months
later when they actually need what you are selling, they will not be
calling. Why? Because they have ignored you for months and they
actually feel bad about it. Not only did they ignore you, but your
persistence made it worse. Your sales manager may applaud your
persistence; your bank account will not.
The second reason you won’t be hearing from them is that because
people don’t like to admit when they’re wrong. Maybe they should
have called you and simply said that they didn’t need your services
at that time. They didn’t call because they viewed you as the
stereotypical salesperson, and they assume you’d be calling them
again next week anyway. If you didn’t, another one would.
Ultimately, rather than returning your calls, they will avoid the situation
altogether and call someone else, even if you have the best product
for their particular needs, simply to avoid any guilt.
The best thing we can do is keep buyers away from that emotional
pitfall. Sales are driven by emotion (and if you don’t believe that, then
you probably haven’t cracked a sales book in the last decade).
pool is not
If you’re like me, you have a limited number of prospects. It might be
your territory, a vertical or named accounts. The point is, you probably
don’t have an endless supply of prospects. Every time you put one
of your prospective clients in the situation I described above, you are
essentially diminishing your territory. When your prospect list gets
smaller but your quota continues to grow, what happens? You get
desperate for sales. You practice below-average sales methods and
you alienate your prospects even further.
Traditional methods also lead to poor time management. The purpose
of a cold-call (over the phone, through email or in person) is to deliver
a message. Ninety percent of the time we never get that chance. This
means that 54 minutes of every hour spent seeking new clients yields
no results, other than to annoy the people we are trying to reach. If
that same hour were spent on efforts that could reach thousands
and build your Credibility Upon Entry (CUE), the results would be
exponentially higher. Similarly, if that hour were spent calling on people
who are actually in the market for your product or service, you could
substantially increase your success.
There are three possible outcomes of cold-calling: that you will not
reach the intended contact, that the person will not be interested in
what you have to sell, or that the person is ready to purchase your
product or service.
Be in the
ALL the time.
None of those scenarios have much value to you. “But the person
is ready to buy!” you say. Sure, but other circumstances need to be
considered. Another salesperson (maybe more than one) is probably
already leading the charge. They either had an inside line or they were
simply in the right place at the right time. Maybe they even reached
the client first because of a cold-call. The Passive Pipeline is about
being in the right place ALL the time, and reaching opportunities with
the right timing and credibility needed to win.
I’m not saying that cold-calling will not benefit your business. One sale
out of 100 calls will certainly help (though I doubt the ratio is even that
high). What I am saying is that there are other ways to prospect and
find opportunities. You must break the cycle of inferior sales methods
while maintaining and building your professionalism and credibility.
Let your competition perpetuate the poor sales processes so that
when a buyer is ready, you will be their choice. There are better ways
to find opportunities.
The beauty of the approach taught in this book is that your prospects
will begin to find and approach you, and while this was a result of your
efforts, it never feels like prospecting (to you or the prospect). You
build credibility before entering any sales process, and have clients
who are grateful to be working with you (not the other way around).
This new approach brings the client to you because of your
knowledge, expertise, integrity and respectful nature. It creates
a brand around your very name that tells prospects that you are
someone they should do business with. They didn’t find you by
chance. They found you because of some very calculated efforts
on your part toward building your credibility and presence. This is a
perfect example of how a sales effort doesn’t have to mean being a
Here are a few more examples of why traditional prospecting
methods don’t work:
Real decision-makers rarely take time for pitches or cold-calls.
The people who will take your calls don’t have real power.
You have no competitive advantage when you enter the sales
cycle using these methods. You are constantly trying to prove
your usefulness, simply because of the way you approached
Gatekeepers are never going to connect you with the real
decision makers. You will be passed off to someone who
collects information, has little authority, or manages vendors
for a living.
People prefer to do business with people they seek out, not
the other way around. It puts the client in control.
Do the things
100% of the
If you’re a subscriber to the 80/20 rule (it’s hard to argue with), then
80 percent of your opportunities come from 20 percent of your efforts.
So the question becomes: why don’t you get rid of the other 80% and
do the things that work 100% of the time? Technology and advances
in sales process have allowed us to identify these effective practices,
it’s no longer necessary to “throw everything at the wall and see what
It’s our fault.
How Sales Managers Perpetuate
Dysfunctional Selling Practices
Most sales managers were salespeople at one point in time. They
have been operating on the same traditional buying and selling
practices as everyone else. Along with the rest of us, they fail to realize
that the business climate, as well as the most effective buying and
selling practices, have changed.
Today, the number of calls and appointments made doesn’t
translate into sales. While it is an easy metric to track, if your efforts
aren’t resulting in sales, it is simply activity with no results. Pushing
salespeople to consistently court buyers who aren’t ready to buy is
not going to work either. Accepted sales “wisdom” tells you it’s all
about persistence. While it’s true that persistence is paramount to
success, persisting in doing the wrong things has no real purpose.
Traditional sales theory (especially around prospecting) simply does
not apply in today’s business environment.
Most sales managers (and salespeople) also operate under the
misconception that the product with the best features or lowest price
will succeed. Most managers don’t attach enough importance to the
CUE with which you enter the sales process. Finding opportunities
and failing to turn them into business is worse than not finding an
opportunity at all because of the drain on your time and resources.
There are many other factors at play that create such a misguided
buying/selling relationship. We have marketing departments that that
waste our time with unqualified leads, CRM software that we were never
properly trained to use and unrealistic urgency pushed upon us that
leads to more frantic and disconnected sales effort.
Most studies reveal that we spend less than two hours a day actually
selling. The rest of the time is spent on ineffective prospecting, working
with CRM systems that aren’t working for us, forecasting sales, and
sitting in meetings, among other things. The two hours that we do
spend selling are primarily wasted on unlikely opportunities, trying to
force-feed our expertise to prospects or inefficiently drafting responses
and communications. We are spread too thin, which has, in part, led
to our inefficiency and lack of success.
The good news is that the practices, tools and techniques needed to
correct the situation are readily available.
I’d like to recap the outcomes this book can deliver:
Successfully obtain prospects that want and prefer to do
business with you, before you ever speak to them.
Directly manage your prospects’ buying and selection
process with exclusive authority.
Know who is in a position to buy before the client tells you (or
or your competition).
Create at least three times the opportunities you are capable
of generating with your current efforts.
Effectively establish yourself as a sought-after expert in
Obtain the most comprehensive set of demographic and
contact data possible for your market.
Execute the most precise and effective prospecting efforts
possible, without ever picking up the phone or asking for the
“person who handles such-and-such”.
Build a highly visible list of professional references which will
make any competing sales person wonder why they even
attempted to take your commission.
Save hours (days in some cases) every week in building your
business while seeing exponentially better results.
Locate and be introduced to the people you want to do business
with, and present them with a “billboard” of your credibility
before ever interacting with them.
“Own” your territory in a manner that was never before possible.
Be the first person into every deal you work.
Close more business, make your boss smile, frame your next
W2 and steal your competitor’s commission!
Here are two very different approaches to courting a prospect
which summarize the ideas presented in this book:
With the traditional model:
You have a list of companies to call and dial furiously to make just
a couple of connections. Ninety percent of the people you reach
become irritated and make a mental decision not to work with you.
Maybe two or three agree to an appointment. Of these, few have any
buying authority. You may spend months trying to convince them to
buy your product or service when the people with authority don’t have
a need for your product or don’t even know you’ve called. Or, you
may find a legitimate buyer with a genuine need, but you are the ninth
vendor they have spoken to! This is not a sales model I choose to
A Smarter Model:
A buyer finds you because you have established a presence through
your passive pipeline. The buyer contacts you. You have now entered
the sales process on an equal footing with the prospective client and
you are no longer perceived as a salesperson. You help the buyer
manage the purchasing process, provide them with useful information,
and begin to mutually explore solutions with them.
The buyer is thrilled and satisfied to be working with you. The
sales cycle is shortened, and if by chance more vendor quotes are
required, they are simply accepted as a matter of process. Other
vendors and salespeople are being measured against the standard
that you have set.
In addition to this buyer, thousands of other potential prospects
are finding you through your Passive Pipeline. You are seen as a
professional and you have the luxury of only working deals you have a
high probability of winning.
Final Thoughts Before We Move On...
I’m going to get off the soapbox now and detail exactly how you can
start using technology to make today’s selling climate work in your
favor. Much of what you will read in the next few chapters will be
entirely new to you. You may start to wonder why these techniques
have not been made available before. Let me address that now.
These are not new ideas. They are proven and they work. Many
top performing salespeople, real estate professionals and internet
businesses are using them today with exceptional results. The
concepts we will explore have simply never been widely applied to
“No one has ever
found success by
doing the same
that resulted in mediocrity today.”
Great authors, speakers, and sales coaches of our time simply are
not in tune with the new resources available to us today. They are
superb in teaching the human aspect of selling, closing, prospecting,
time management and so on. I am not in any way discounting the
excellent speakers and authors out there and I think we should
continue to rely on the best of them for guidance. I simply think we
need to augment these teachings to match the pace at which the
business climate is changing.
These are uncharted and unfamiliar waters to most people in
the sales industry. Human nature often resists change in favor of
what’s comfortable and familiar. But the sales world is no longer
a comfortable place. Chances are you aren’t satisfied with your
current selling situation or you wouldn’t be reading this book.
No one has ever found success by doing the same things tomorrow
that resulted in mediocrity today.
Quick Tips: Professional Selling
The most important sales skills you will ever learn come from
a true desire to help your clients succeed.
You must invest time to stay abreast of your industry. Don’t let
someone else come to the table that is more knowledgeable
Your relationship with your sales management team is the
relationship that will have the biggest impact on your success.
If your boss is demanding more of an activity that isn’t yielding
any results, it’s time to have a chat. Determine with your boss
at what point a different approach is required to achieve the
results you both want.
Top performance requires rest. Don’t beat yourself up for
downtime. Take it when you need it and enjoy it. When you
need to shut down, shut down completely.
Show gratitude to your internal support team (product
managers, operations, marketing, etc.). Anyone who has
a hand in your success or product delivery deserves your
appreciation. By working as a complete team, you will
accomplish your work faster and your clients will be given
priority. Very few salespeople reward and thank their internal
Nobody cares how much you forecast at the beginning of
the month; they care how much you close at the end. Don’t
fall into the common trap of feeling pressured to project a
large number. You will only destroy your credibility with your
management team. Be honest with yourself and your boss,
despite your ego. If you can’t be consistently +/- 15%, lean
towards being a “sandbagger” as opposed to a dreamer.
Whenever possible, do the things that really charge you up.
If one form of prospecting gets you going and gets results,
do more of it. If face-to-face meetings leave you feeling
accomplished, schedule more of them. Don’t mistake this with
doing the things that are easy; you don’t want your results to
suffer in favor of fun.
Some of us run at peak performance during our busiest times.
When this crosses the line to stress, make an effort to manage
that. Stress comes with the territory, but learning to manage
(and eliminate) it can help your career and enrich your life.
Become an expert on setting goals. There are tons of books and
online resources. Being able to effectively plan and follow through
with goals is the mark of very successful sales professionals.
By coming into every situation with the commitment to helping
your clients succeed, you can overcome any other deficiency.
Data Is Power
The Power Of Data In Sales
Most of us have that little plastic keychain card that saves us a few
bucks at the local grocery store, but do you know that these cards
have become standard not only at every major retail chain in the world
but also at small community businesses? It’s because these cards
provide these companies with the most lucrative set of demographic
and purchasing data you could imagine.
This information is used to determine which products are popular in
certain regions, which products have lost popularity, which coupons
to print on your receipt, and which ad campaigns have been effective.
The cards have both saved and earned billions of dollars for these
An excellent example of the power of data collection is Amazon.com’s
email marketing program. The information you receive is remarkably
relevant to you. How did the folks at Amazon know those books
would interest you? How did they know to leave irrelevant books out
of this valuable advertising space? Amazon.com is amazing at utilizing
data to increase their outreach and ultimately their sales.
On the other hand, I receive marketing material (even from very
well known companies) containing products or services that I have
absolutely no interest in purchasing or using. Intuitively, I think these
data is your
companies are crazy for spending the time and money on marketing
these items to me.
There’s a good chance you are doing the same thing to your contacts.
Ask yourself a few simple questions: Do they really have any need
for what you are sending them? Is there relevant information in every
communication that you send? Are they even involved in the buying
process for what you sell? If so, have you appropriately related your
material to their specific role in that process? Do you know what that
Here’s an embarrassing scenario: are your existing clients getting
emails about buying a product they already own? If they are, you
need to re-evaluate your marketing strategies. What does this relay
to your clients about your professionalism?
I recently signed up for a workshop offered by a leading Internet
Marketing firm. A few days later, I received an email asking why
I hadn’t reserved a seat and stating that if I didn’t act soon the
workshop would be filled. I wondered how a prominent internet
marketing company could make such a simple mistake. They
simply hadn’t utilized data properly.
Even the best businesses falter from time to time, but it is important
to be cognizant of how professional your efforts appear in the public
domain. Data is the key.
Before we go any further, it is important that we lay the proper
foundation. Accurate data that is easy to manage is one of the most
important tools a sales professional can have. Further, many of the
other ideas presented in this book depend on it.
The typical vehicle for housing data for sales professionals is a
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software tool. These
have also come to be known as Sales Force Automation (SFA)
CRM systems come in a few flavors. There are standalone
applications which operate on a single computer (like Act!), Enterprise
systems which are typically housed on a company’s network
(Microsoft CRM, Sales Logix), and increasingly popular Software as a
Service (SaaS) solutions which are simply accessed through your web
browser (Salesforce.com, Landslide, Sugar CRM).
These systems vary widely in interface, ease of use, and reporting
capabilities, but they all serve the same purpose. Most salespeople
and managers confuse the purpose of these systems. CRM systems
do not simply hold contact information or provide reports for
Your company has wasted a great deal of money if this is how they
use their CRM systems and in turn, you are wasting a great deal of
time and opportunities if this is how you are using it.
If you asked 100 salespeople to share their feelings about their CRM
tools, 99 of them will tell you that it’s a hindrance, that it consumes too
much time, and that it interferes with the sales process. When you find
the one person who lights up and tells you how lucky they are to have
such a tool, and how they operate ten times more efficiently using it,
hire that person. If they already work for you, give them a raise and sit
them near their colleagues who don’t quite get it yet.
Management is primarily to blame for the failed adoption of CRM solutions
by salespeople. The problem typically falls into one of two categories:
either the salespeople were never properly trained to use the system, or
the company itself treats the CRM system as a digital rolodex.
Most often, a company trains sales staff in the points and clicks of the
software but fails to train employees in why proper use of the CRM tool
is so important. It is often the case that the management team doesn’t
fully understand CRMs capabilities either. The decision to buy a CRM
solution often falls in the hands of the IT department. By the time the
software reaches the end-user, the value to the sales organization is
lost. The system is seen by salespeople as a burden with no value, and
millions of dollars have been wasted.
all the data
Assessing Your Current Solution
It’s time to find out where you stand in terms of your current CRM tool. If
you are currently using Salesforce.com, Microsoft CRM, Act! or another
popular product, then you are in good shape.
If you’re not sure how well your current solution stacks up,
answer the questions below:
1. Are you able to properly capture all data that is relevant to your
line of work? Or, do you find yourself without the fields required to
properly capture all the data you need?
2. Can you easily sort or group your contacts based on a specific set
of criteria (location, employee size, industry, etc.)?
3. Is the system flexible enough to allow you to specify several
criteria on which to report or with which to view your data (location +
company size + industry, etc.)?
4. Can you save the criteria you selected to easily go back and see
an updated view?
5. Can you export this data in a commonly usable form (Excel,
HTML, Text, etc.)?
If you are unsure, try all of this with your current system. Make a list of
all the relevant contact information you want to store, and then ask
yourself, is there a place for it all in your CRM package? Try to view
a list of contacts that are in the banking industry and are located in
a specific town. Now see what options you have for retrieving that
specific “view” out of the system.
If you were able to answer “yes” to all of the above questions, or if you
use one of the tools I mentioned earlier, then you can skip the next
few pages of this book.
If you answered “no”, you’ll need to look at your options. If you are
part of a large sales team that has a standardized CRM system, do a
little more research. Chances are it has the functionality I mentioned,
but you weren’t trained properly.
If the standardized system doesn’t suit your needs, determine whether
you can use another system. Personally, I would not work for an
employer who didn’t provide the functionality I required to do my job
well or didn’t allow me to use alternatives tools.
If you’re feeling defeated right now because you’re absolutely stuck
with a system that won’t meet your needs, there is a final option. Ask
for a Microsoft Excel® export of your entire database (just your records)
and spend some time learning how to manipulate it. You will be able
to achieve the desired results using Excel, they just requires a few
more steps. CRM products are essentially just databases themselves,
but they offer a prettier interface and apply some compelling business
Choosing A CRM Tool
If you don’t currently use a CRM tool, or if you are feeling compelled to
re-evaluate your CRM after reading the last section, I will outline a few
options available to you. In my opinion, you are in an enviable situation
if you are planning to use a new CRM tool. You have a clean slate and
my organizational habits love a clean slate! No fat-fingered data entry
from previous salespeople to clean up and no stagnant contacts.
On the next few pages you will find summaries of rthe eadily available
tools which I think are best suited for today’s salesperson. Don’t
consider this a comprehensive list. There may be a product built
for your specific industry that offers a lot of convenient tools. The
options I have reviewed simply represent the CRM tools I find to be
popular and feature-rich. For what it’s worth, I use Microsoft CRM for
my primary job and Salesforce.com/Landslide for my other business
Salesforce Automation (sfa)
Free Trial: Yes
“Reps need solutions that make their jobs easier, not more complicated.
Salesforce gives them fast access to data—online, offline, and via
mobile devices—and links easily to popular tools like Microsoft Office
and Outlook. With a user interface rated “simple and intuitive” by PC
Magazine, Salesforce is the one SFA solution every sales rep will love
and use.” –Salesforce.com
Free Single User Version: Yes
Cost: Free for Personal Edition.
Team and Enterprise versions start
around $65 per user per month.
Salesforce.com has taken the CRM industry by storm and for good
reason. First and foremost, it does everything a salesperson could
ever ask of a CRM product. Second and maybe most important to
you, they offer a free single user version.
Ease Of Use: Beginner
My primary word of caution about this product is that you need
a browser to use the non-enterprise versions. If you don’t have a
constant internet connection (or have a slow one) this may not work
well for you. With the absence of “views” in the personal versions, the
user can still use the report builder to meet the same objective but it’s
not quite as powerful.
Publisher: Microsoft Dynamics
Ease Of Use: Beginner
Free Trial: Yes (30 days)
Free Single User Version: No
Cost: Starts around $395/user annually, though you may be able to find it
Microsoft Dynamics CRM
“Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a customer relationship management (CRM)
solution that provides the tools and capabilities needed to create and
easily maintain a clear picture of customers, from first contact through
to purchase and post-sales. With modules for sales, marketing, and
customer service, Microsoft Dynamics CRM delivers a fast, flexible, and
affordable solution that drives consistent, measurable improvements in
every business process, enabling closer relationships with customers
and helping to achieve new levels of profitability.” –Microsoft.com
As I mentioned, this is the tool that I use in my daily job. Microsoft
Dynamics is a powerhouse and really delivers on functionality. One of
my favorite features of this CRM is its excellent out-of-the-box query
Microsoft Dynamics CRM is not as user-friendly as some of the
other systems. The standard import tool is limited, and the available
documentation for this product is difficult to obtain and not very
comprehensive. Finally, and this may just be my experience, the email
tool built into Microsoft Dynamics CRM leaves a lot to be desired.
Ease Of Use: Beginner
Free Trial: Yes (6 Months) - here
Free Single User Version: No
Cost: Not Available. Licensing beyond
trial requires 5+ seats.
LandSlide Sales Production System
“As a Sales Production System, Landslide’s Sales P3 is a new
category of sales software that helps move deals faster through your
pipeline. While SFA/CRM systems focus on capturing data about your
pipeline & customers, the focus of a Sales Production System is on
helping salespeople close more deals faster - with predictability and
Landslide is a breath of fresh air in the contact/opportunity
management space. It delivers all of the tools you would expect,
while being more aligned with your actual sales process. It’s really in a
league of its own, conceptually new, and certainly worth a look.
This product is for forward thinking sales organizations. It’s going to
be tough to get traditional-minded leaders to abandon their existing,
traditional CRM solutions. To maximize its potential, this product
also requires that you take a deep look at your sales process, which
requires some work.
Publisher: Sage Software
Ease Of Use: Beginner
Free Trial: Yes (30 days)
Free Single User Version: No
Cost: Currently $230 for the single
“ACT! enables individuals and small business customers to instantly
access key contact and customer information, manage and prioritize
activities, and track all contact-related communications. It fosters the
growth of productive business relationships. Renowned for its ease of
use, ACT! can be tailored by each user and offers robust integration
with the tools you use everyday.” –Sage Software
Act! has everything you need and is feature-rich. Outisde of my
research for this review, I have never used the product, but I have
known many salespeople that are committed to it. It also provides
a desktop installation so you do not need connectivity to use it. The
built-in integrations with Microsoft Word and Excel are solid. The
product is updated frequently and current owners upgrade for a
As an individual user, I would go with Salesforce.com’s free product.
As a large organization, I would choose Salesforce.com or Microsoft
Dynamics CRM. For a small- to medium-sized team that requires data
to be shared and centrally stored/reported on, Act! is a great solution.
The time spent cleansing
your data will have
tremendous rewards. This
step is vital!
CRM Setup Notes
A new CRM system requires that you do two tasks right away.
The first is to create custom fields you will want for your contacts
and accounts. CRM software allows the user to add custom fields
because everyone’s needs are different. The fields you choose to add
will vary depending on what you sell and your target audience.
Note: Custom fields in Salesforce.com, Act! 2009 and personal versions
of Microsoft Dynamics CRM are simple to set up. If you are running a
network-based version of these tools, the custom fields are set up by
your administrator. In this case, contact your administrator and simply
ask them to add the desired fields.
The second thing you need to do is to import any of your existing
data. Unfortunately, I don’t have the space in this book to explain
how to achieve this for every CRM product, but the applications I
have mentioned are fairly straightforward. Accessible documentation
is included to walk you through a complete data import (with the
exception of Microsoft Dynamics CRM).
Before you import your existing data, take a look at the next section to
cleanse your data before you bring it in.
Whether you’ve chosen to stay with your current CRM tool or are
about to import existing data into a new one, it’s important to cleanse
your data. Your data will be less effective if not cleaned properly. I’ll
give you a real-life example:
A previous salesperson in my territory couldn’t understand the last
name of one of his contacts. So he entered “Can’t Understand
Name” in the last name field. We regularly plug a person’s first or last
name directly into email campaigns to personalize them. As a result,
this poor contact has been getting emails addressed to Mr. Can’t
Understand Name. How embarrassing for us and frustrating for him!
Another mistake to be wary of are names entered in ALL CAPS or all
lower case characters. This is undesirable for the obvious reasons.
It’s also important to augment the data you already have. Incomplete
information is of little value. If you plan to target a specific industry,
but half of your contacts don’t have an industry associated with them,
you won’t be able to use the sorting and other features of your CRM
software to their full advantage.
You’re going to spend a lot of time on this cleanup, but the good
news is, when it’s all done, you’ll be staring at a gold mine!
Here is a list of things to do to clean your data:
1. Do a search for any accounts (companies) that don’t have
contact records associated with them. Unless there is a compelling
reason not to, delete these accounts. They are only place holders.
If there is pertinent information in the record, then why doesn’t it
have a contact?
2. Print (or export) a list of all of your accounts. Find any duplicates,
and merge the records together. This is usually done in a few clicks.
3. View, Print or Export all of your contacts. Look for any oddities in
the capitalization of names (all caps, all lowercase, etc.) and correct
these for consistency.
4. Do a search for any contacts or accounts that don’t have data
in the fields which you will use to target your audience (industry,
employee size, etc.). Spend some time now to complete all of this
information. Missing data is a good reason to reach out to your
clients and have conversations under the guise of cleaning up your
records. You can gain additional information and contacts easily,
primarily because it isn’t technically a sales call.
5. Find any accounts that don’t belong in your database. If you work
in territories, look for accounts that aren’t located in your region. If
you work in verticals, get rid of the companies that don’t match. If
you work a specific company size, eliminate companies that don’t
Do not skip
match your size criteria. I don’t mean permanently delete these
records, but get them out of your database and let your sales
manager deal with them. You may be hesitant to drop accounts,
but why clutter up your database and spend your time marketing
to a client base that is outside your area of expertise?
6. Look for contacts that don’t have a company associated with
them. Unless you sell to individuals, match them up with an
account or delete them.
During this process, instead of doing laborious manual searches,
plug your criteria in and let the software find them for you. In the
next chapter I will show you exactly how to build queries. If you are
unfamiliar with how to do the things I’ve described above, consult
the program’s “help” menu or someone who is experienced with the
Data cleansing is vital. If you complete this right now, and in any future
data imports, you will never have to clean data again! If you settle for
incomplete or inaccurate data now, your effectiveness will be cut in
half, at least.
The Power Of Queries
The concept of a “query” is not one many people are familiar with.
Most people think a query is simply jargon for searching. While that’s
fundamentally true, the real value of queries is that they are stored
for future use. You can define the criteria or “rules” of your query
once, and get a snapshot of all records matching those criteria at
any point in time.
Next to having clean data, learning to build queries is the most
important (and beneficial) asset to effective use of your CRM. If you
learn how to properly query your data, a new level of efficiency will
open up to you.
I have close to 50 queries saved in my CRM and I use them all the
time. Within 30 seconds, I can see just about any group or subgroup I
need. Send an email to everyone whose name starts with “T” and who
works for a company that has franchise locations, you say? Probably
not something I would realistically need to do, but easily possible using
I have separate saved views for all contacts within each industry I
market to. I also have a modified version which includes only contacts
with email addresses.
I have saved views for every relationship type (client, prospect, analyst,
media, etc.) and views for just about anything else I need.
If you were to look over the shoulder of 95% of CRM users, you would
find thet they either had none of their own queries built, or that they
just had queries that came pre-loaded in the software (either by the
publisher or by their company). This is typical, and I don’t intend to
alienate anyone, but it’s also a shame.
Any company that is not actively grouping and manipulating data
to perform targeted sales activities is wasting money and losing
business. They might as well just have a huge filing cabinet in the
middle of the sales floor.
If you are fortunate enough to have well-thought-out queries or views
already saved in your system, get familiar with them. You will likely need
to make a few changes to get them just right, which we will discuss in
the next chapter.
How To Build Queries That Sell
The process of building a query varies by product, but in this regard all
CRM products basically work in the same way. Look for an “advanced
find” or “custom report” tool in your software.
You will start by indicating what type of records you intend to search
(contacts, accounts, opportunities, etc.).
Next you will choose the search criteria. Most software will also
have operators such as “and” or “contains data” which allow you to
complete advanced data dissections.
Make sure the report is dialed in exactly the way you want it, and then
save it. Afterwards, each time you run this query, it will be updated
with any new data acquisitions.
Some of my favorite queries:
Contacts I have not contacted in last 60 days
Contacts with no email (shows me where I have work to do)
______ Industry Contacts with Email Addresses
Companies with > _____ employees
Opportunities with <50% probability of closing (more work to do)
These are just meant to get your mental wheels spinning. Determine
which queries would have been helpful over the last 6 months, or what
efforts or advances you could have made if you only had ______ data.
After following the steps I’ve outlined here, you now possess a tool
more powerful than anything that most of your competitors have. I
hope I made it clear in the beginning of this chapter that your goal is
not just to become organized. It’s to build a foundation that allows you
to operate more efficiently and make all of your customer interactions
valuable. Your effectiveness will grow exponentially.
Turbo Charge Your CRM
There are many technologies being developed to increase the
efficiency and results of a traditional CRM tool. As I’ve mentioned,
CRM software is not a rolodex! It should provide insight and data
modeling which allow the sales professional to be precise, relevant
and intelligent about the way they approach their prospects and
One company that has recently made great progress toward
enhancing the CRM experience is InsideView. They offer a tool
called Sales View which I have found to be an incredible asset.
Here’s a description from their website:
“SalesView is an on-demand sales intelligence application, that brings
you insights from traditional editorial sources and emerging social
media to increase sales productivity and velocity.” - salesview.com
In summary, the tool provides contact information, business profiles,
news stories, possible connections and buying triggers for your
contacts. You can see an example of a view from within Microsoft
Dynamics CRM at the left (SalesView also integrates with Landslide,
SugarCRM, Oracle and Salesforce.com and offers a standalone
version). The tool also has fantastic list-building capabilities and can
weight potential prospects by custom buying triggers.
For successful marketing efforts, you must have clean, complete data. Data, when properly used is your best weapon in
The biggest reason for CRM resistance is that its value is not
fully understood by its users.
Choose a CRM tool that will empower your marketing efforts.
Start by scrubbing your data. Remove errors and add relevant demographic information.
Build queries to segment your contacts by interest, vertical,
More Great Resources
CRM at the Speed of Light, Fourth Edition: CRM 2.0 Strategies, Tools,
and Techniques for Engaging Your Customers [Book, pre-order]
Salesforce Fundamentals Module 3: Using Salesforce [Tutorial - free]
Selling to Big Companies [Book]
Quick Tips: Client Relationships
Treat every contact like they are the CEO (but remember to
speak their language). A middle-manager who doesn’t feel
important can kill a deal just as quickly as their superiors.
You have not earned the right to be introduced higher in
the company until you have demonstrated your ability to
add value. You will often notice that the person who invited
you to a meeting will start to relax once their superiors have
accepted you. Likewise, you will see them become tense if
you appear to be wasting someone’s time. Ask your contact’s
opinion about how you can add value to your meetings.
Let your contacts present your great ideas to their peers. Any
chance to make him/her look good is ultimately good for your
Don’t make promises you can’t keep. If you’re not able to get
someone the information they request by tomorrow, tell them
you will have it in 3-4 days. If that’s not acceptable, they will
tell you. The expectations you set for yourself are often more
demanding or urgent than those established by the client.
Meet face-to-face with any client that contributes 5% or more
of your annual quota at least once a quarter. You’re going
to uncover additional needs, curb any future problems, and
solidify your relationship. If you have to do it only 2-3 times
a year to fit everyone in, that’s still better than the schedule
most salespeople maintain.
If you make a mistake, be honest and fix it. Any side-stepping
or assignment of blame will only discredit you. It doesn’t
matter if the mistake wasn’t yours. To the client, you are the
face of your company.
If there are certain clients that always seem to drain the life
out of you when you call, schedule those calls late in the day.
Nothing productive comes from this type of drain first thing
in the morning. (If you happen to be one of my clients, and I
regularly schedule our meetings at 4:00 pm, then you’re the
exception, honest). Equally, if the call is unpleasant for your
contact, they won’t have the rest of the day to dwell on it.
Show your appreciation to your clients every chance you get.
Tickets to a play, a gift card or an extra seat at a ballgame
can earn you a client for life. We’re often so busy chasing the
next sale that we forget the one we just left behind. If a client
spends 100K or more a year with you, do something special
such as a monthly wine club (my editors have asked me to
recommend Castoro Cellars Wine Club – 1-888-DAM-FINE,
ask for Jan). Sixty dollars a month is minimal compared to the
commission you earn, and your client will be reminded of your
appreciation every thirty days. If you can’t expense this, write
it off at the end of the year.
A New Era in Email Marketing
Email marketing has traditionally been handled by marketing
departments and has been associated with spam, online retailers, and
newsletters. Successful sales professionals are managing their own
email marketing efforts today with great results! It’s easy and anyone
can do it.
Email marketing is often an after-thought, used to supplement other
marketing methods (cold-calling, print ads, etc.). This is unfortunate
because email marketing (when properly used) is the most effective
form of marketing. I’m not referring to the kind of email you send to
your entire database in hopes of getting one or two people to take
action. I mean targeted email communication with a personalized
message delivered from the salesperson.
The biggest difference between traditional and leading-edge email
marketing is that in the latter, you are working with a rock-solid set
of demographic data that you created in the previous chapter. This
allows you to work with the same tools as the marketing elite, such
as Amazon.com, Google, and others. Another important difference is
that this type of email marketing will help you establish credibility and
rapport with clients, both of which have been absent from traditional
– Seth Godin
Then And Now
Email is “the most personal advertising medium in history” - Seth
Godin (my favorite voice on marketing and common sense in
business). “If your email isn’t personal, it’s broken.”
For example, this morning I sent out an email to decision makers in
my territory letting them know I had moved the contents of my blog
to a new server. I invited them to take a look at the changes. I also
included specific links to a couple of my most popular articles. By
noon, more than 30 decision makers at Fortune 500 companies had
not only opened the email but clicked through to read the articles I
My objective was to stay in front of decision makers who were currently
using a competitor. The content of my articles, while unbiased, was
geared toward the typical challenges companies face with their current
providers. It’s worth mentioning that the articles I linked in my email told
me exactly where that contact was in the buying cycle based on which
article he or she read. It’s subtle, it’s powerful and it’s only possible due
Like you, I’m busy. I don’t have the time to constantly engage companies
that are using the competition or aren’t presently interested in buying.
This effort took me about 30 minutes and I was able to personally reach
30 decision makers to get my message in front of them. In addition, I
increased my stature and credibility with these contacts.
3x the ROI
Why would I choose to reach these folks on the Friday before Spring
Break even IF I had time to call them? Friday is a terrible day to send
business-to-business emails, but I had specific reasons which I will
discuss later. If I was able to reach them by phone, what are the
chances they would have allowed me the time to share my message?
Also, what would their perception of my call be? A cold-call from a
salesperson who needs their business! Instead I was able to reach
them, in a manner that positioned me as a valuable resource and
Why Email Marketing Works
We’ve been told throughout our career to call people on the phone, and
that email isn’t effective and that it won’t allow you to build rapport
with your clients. Before we continue, I would like to share some
Email marketing has 3x the ROI of traditional marketing efforts.
In my experience, you are three times more likely to get a
timely response through email than through the phone, even
if you have an existing relationship with the person.
Approximately 146 million adults use email everyday.
82% of marketers consider email their most important
Personalizing emails and segmenting your audience more
than doubles the effectiveness of your email efforts, yet only
4% of marketers currently engage in these practices.
Email has reached 32% of total market penetration, topped
only by television which has 39%.
In my opinion, email will never replace lunch or a day on the golf
course as a means of building relationships. However, when it
comes to building credibility, efficiently managing your territory,
engaging prospects, and passively growing your pipeline, email is the
There are hundreds of books on email marketing. If this is something
you feel will enhance your marketing and aid in your success, and
you want to learn more, by all means seek other resources. I have
compiled what I feel to be the essential information on email marketing
for a professional salesperson in order to save you time and money.
The information in this chapter may be a little overwhelming. This
doesn’t mean that managing your own personal email marketing is
hard or time consuming. I spend roughly an hour a week on email
marketing, and I will now lead you through it, taking out all the
guesswork. If you don’t believe that email marketing will be effective in
your business, that’s OK. Just remember that one of your competitors
is likely already doing it to some extent and reaping the benefits.
It better be
Standard Email Equals Lost Business
Standard email clients such as Outlook, web based email (Gmail,
Yahoo, etc.), and the email interface built into most CRM systems, do
not meet my personal preferences for email marketing. Here’s why:
They do not (easily) allow me to send personalized emails.
It is imperative that each email include simple dynamic
content such as first name, company name, etc. This can be
accomplished through various flavors of “mail-merge,” but for
my needs, I want one-click access to this functionality.
They do not allow me to automatically send the same email
to multiple recipients individually.
There are a couple of reasons why this is important. First, the
chances are very high that any email addressed to more than
one person, either by using “cc” or “bcc,” will be blocked.
You also NEVER want to include more than one recipient in
the “To:” field for a couple of reasons: one, it’s a beacon of
poor taste. Two, it exposes each person’s email address to
everyone else on the list. You might as well title your email
“unprofessional, impersonal junk mail.”
They do not allow me to track clicks within my emails (links,
I want to track who follows the links I send in my emails.
More importantly, I want to know which specific link they
click. I include links strategically to allow relevant follow-up
and to profile recipients (as ready to buy, browsing, etc.). This
information is priceless. In fact, these techniques alone have
doubled the effectiveness of my prospecting efforts.
They do not allow me to (easily) segment my mailing lists.
I currently have nearly 50 mailing lists. Each serves a different
purpose and targets prospects and clients meeting different
criteria. As you discovered in the last chapter, CRM programs
accomplish this nicely, but because the built in email systems
are lacking, I need my external email client to manage this
They don’t allow me to track who opens my emails.
This is pretty basic. I want to know who actually opens my
correspondence. The business value of tracking who opened
and who didn’t open an email is not significant, but it can
prove helpful now and then.
They don’t allow me to automate and schedule email campaigns.
Outlook’s scheduling functionality is pretty basic. It will get
the job done, but not the way I may want it to be done.
More robust email tools will allow you to schedule emails,
follow-up emails, and threads of emails easily.
They do not (easily) allow me to set varied “auto-responders”.
We’ll discuss auto-responders in more detail later in the
chapter, but they’re basically a tool internet marketers
have been using for a few years to help boost their sales.
Here’s an example of how auto-responders might be used
in the real estate industry. A buyer signs up to view your
home listings. The auto-responder sends them an email
with an introduction and a few listings. A few days later, it
sends another email asking them how their search is going
and whether they would like to speak with you personally.
Shortly after the first two emails, they are sent another email
asking whether they need to revise their listing criteria, and
so-on. This process is fully automated. Can you see some
uses for this in your business?
They do not (easily) allow me to manage my subscriber and
Sending emails to someone who’s asked not to be contacted
is the quickest way to ruin your marketing endeavors. By
sending a few unwanted emails, you can easily end up on a
“black-list” which essentially means your email will not reach
90% of recipients.
Choosing The Right Email Tool
If you want to get serious about email marketing, you will need to
get a tool with additional functionality to be effective. Adding another
piece of software to the mix may sound daunting, but I promise it
will have very little impact on your day. You’re still going to use your
normal email interface, you’ll just be adding a second tool when it’s
time to send targeted materials. I still use Outlook and web mail in
my day-to-day communications even though they do not meet my
strategic marketing requirements. The following two software tools are
viable options for adding a successful email marketing venue to your
Publisher: Constant Contact, Inc.
Ease Of Use: Beginner
Free Trial: Yes (60 Days)
Free Single User Version: Yes
(up to 100 addresses)
Cost: Tiered based on size of email
list. $30 per month for up to 2,500
Free Trial Here
“With Constant Contact, you can create and send top-notch email
newsletters and promotions with no technical expertise. We make
everything easy for you, including list management and reporting—
and we give you free live support when you need it. With Constant
Contact, you have everything you need to be successful at an
affordable price.” –ConstantContact.com
I use this tool for all of my email marketing. The biggest advantage
here is that all of your email is sent from the Constant Contact
servers themselves. You don’t have to worry about your ISP’s email
policies. The emails I send have high deliverability and all of the
tracking I desire. I can easily view opens, clicks, how my campaigns
compare with industry standards, and more. The template function is
great and the cost, in my opinion, is quite affordable.
I wish ConstantContact would build in the auto-responder function.
The reporting engine could also be simplified. Update: They have
released this functionality since the original publishing.
Ease Of Use: Intermediate
Free Trial: Yes (15 day)
Free Single User Version: Limited
Cost: Varies based on list size.
Free Trial Here
“iContact has all of the features you’d expect from an enterpriselevel email marketing service, but at a price that is affordable for a
small business. Features such as a large array of custom templates
make iContact perfect for people who are just starting with email
iContact is similar to Constant Contact, however it offers a lower price
point for smaller lists. This service also offers auto-responders and
survey creation in the base price, whereas ConstantContact currently
charges an additional fee for these.
This is not really a concern, but the user-interface could use some
work. Also, iContact does not support Google Chrome, which is my
browser of choice.
Ease Of Use: Beginner
Free Trial: Yes
Free Single User Version: Limited list
Cost: Varies by list size
“MailChimp is a do-it-yourself email marketing service for ‘the
Google generation.’ We make it easy to send email newsletters to
your customers, manage your subscriber lists, and track campaign
performance. Unlike some of our competitors, we don’t ‘dumb
things down.’ We take extremely powerful tools that sophisticated
marketers use (like segmentation, a/b testing, and ROI tracking), and
we make them accessible to anyone.” – MailChimp.com
First, the analytics they offer for email tracking are superb and easy on
the eyes. They also offer A/B split testing which allows you to test the
effectiveness of different subject lines. Another cool feature is that your
email stats are compared to industry averages, so you can get an idea
of how well your campaigns are performing.
There are no auto-responders yet. They are due in March ‘09, and
when they become available I will strongly consider moving from
Constant Contact, primarily due to the analytics and A/B testing.
Build Your Mailing Lists
Now that you have chosen an email interface to use, you will want to
import the queries you built in your CRM program into your email program.
If you haven’t done so already, you will want to modify the queries
to include only contacts with email addresses. For this purpose, a
separate set of queries is useful. Before you can import these lists
into your email system, you will need to export them into “.xls” “.csv”
or “.txt” format. If you have any trouble importing your lists, search your
program’s “help” files. Help with this import can also be found on the
email software’s website because this is a fairly common task.
You’re going to want to create a folder on your computer where all of
the files you export from your CRM program are housed, and in turn
where the files you will load into your email program are located.
Once a month you will want to update these lists with your new
contacts, so keep your storage organization consistent, unless you
are adding them as you go, or even better, automating this process
with one of the tools I will introduce later.
Now you should have a dozen, or depending on the uniqueness of
your audience, a couple dozen lists in your email program. From here,
targeting messages to individual groups is as easy as a few mouse
The Absolutes For Email Success
These principals and tips govern any and all business email
communications you send and should be memorized.
1. Every email must have value specific to each reader.
2. Every email should contain at least one dynamic field (such as a
3. Email must be sent directly to only one recipient (no “cc” or ”bcc”).
4. Every email should be conversational in tone.
5. Every email must establish credibility.
6. Your email should not ask to do business (unless your business is
truly transaction in nature).
7. Tuesday is the most popular day to send marketing email,
followed by Wednesday and Thursday.*
8. Wednesday is the day that most marketing emails are opened.*
9. 9:00 and 10:00 am are the most popular times to send
10. 11:00 am is the most popular time for emails to be opened.*
*Source: EmailLabs.com from various industry studies.
11. Keeping your subject line to less than 50 characters achieves
12.5% more success.*
12. Images are blocked by default by more than half of your
13. 97% of email recipients accept HTML formatted emails.*
14. Sending marketing emails at a frequency of 2-3 times per month
yields the best results.*
15. Every email must contain instructions for opting-out.
Building Your Email Strategy
At this point, a plan to market to your contacts should be taking shape.
If your company is like mine and generates a lot of press
releases, you may want to send them out to the appropriate
contacts as they are produced.
You may want to send a quarterly account status email,
which I will outline below.
You may have a monthly event or offer you plan to send.
*Source: EmailLabs.com from various industry studies.
I recommend sending an initial email once your groups are
established using the “conversational” example below.
You might want to send an announcement that you have a
blog or provide monthly updates on recent articles (these
should be targeted to your audience as much as possible).
Regardless of your strategy, a solid plan will keep you on track. The
effectiveness of email marketing is close to zero if you only do it once.
Plan your different types of communications at intervals of at least one
week, sending a maximum of 2-3 emails to each contact per month.
Example Email Strategy:
First Monday: Recent articles from your Blog
Third Monday: An article or press release relevant to each list
Quarterly: “Catching Up” emails
A solid plan
will keep you
As available: Related press releases or client testimonials
This isn’t something that’s going to take hours. You setup emails in your
email program once or twice a month, and they are sent as scheduled.
In fact, I recommend you set aside just a few hours at the beginning of
each month to draft and schedule all of your email communications.
Then simply send additional emails as necessary.
Now you’ve reached every contact 2-3 times per month, with
personalized and valuable information, while building credibility and
rapport. How long would that have taken using your current approach
to email (or worse, using the phone)?
Using Email Templates To Boost Productivity
You can save a lot of time by using templates for your email
communications. By using templates, you will only have to spend time
on the areas of the email that are unique to that communication.
You will want to create a basic email template. This can include your
signature block and any other information that you feel is necessary
such as confidentiality information and information about unsubscribing
from the mailing list (note: if you use Constant Contact, iContact or
MailChimp the opt-out information is included by default). On the next
page is an example of a signature that I use. It may look busy, but every
component has a purpose.
Client Quote of the Day:
“Insert a client testimonial here” – So and So from Such and Such
Read more: www.yoursite.com/testimonials
Your Blog Name (and Link)
Corporate Account Manager
<Company Logo or Tag Line>
City, State Zip
CONFIDENTIALITY NOTE: The information contained in this transmission is privileged
and confidential information intended only for the use of the individual or entity
named above. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any
dissemination, distribution or copying of this communication is strictly prohibited. If
you have received this transmission in error, please immediately reply to the sender
that you have received this communication in error and then delete it. Thank you.
The Elements Of A Good Email Signature
My client quote of the day is actually taken from a long list of
testimonials I have compiled. I choose one that I think speaks well
to the specific email. For example, if I am targeting executives, I
will include a quote from an executive. If I am targeting banking
institutions, I will include a quote from a banking company, etc. I like to
include a default quote in my template simply to remind me to add a
If you aren’t including a testimonial in every email you send, you are
losing an opportunity to build credibility and increase sales.
My blog link is simply the name of my blog with a hyperlink. It does
not say “my blog.” In fact I don’t care if the recipient knows it’s my
blog. We will discuss blogs in more detail in the next chapter.
Instead of a link to my blog, I might include links to articles (from my
blog) relevant to the email I’m distributing. I keep it short (3 or 4 titles).
This is a great opportunity to use link tracking to see which articles
your recipients are interested in.
The purpose of including links to your blog is to increase your CUE
and position yourself as an expert. The articles you link in your emails
must be well-written and place you as a thought leader in the particular
market you are trying to reach. They are also going to position your
company and their products in a positive light, without directly promoting
For example: I may write an article about choosing the right “such and
such” in which I tell readers what to look out for and what key features
to look for when shopping and buying. I’m not directly pitching a
product, simply providing expertise, though the content certainly
paints a good picture for my products and services.
Of course, this becomes tremendously more effective if the client finds
your articles independent of you. I’ll tell you how to start making that happen
too. Remember the story I told you earlier about the very large corporation
that had been following my blog for some time? Although they think they
found it on their own, the truth is, they found it through my Passive Pipeline.
Everything else in the signature template is pretty standard stuff. Take
note that I like to separate my name and title from the rest of my contact
information. This works to subconsciously brand around your name and
As you continue to experiment, you will find many other uses for
templates. You can develop a press release template, for example, that
has the email prepared, except for the text of the release, or you may
want to save a template for a typical introduction letter. The idea is to
create these templates now, so you can send them out later in seconds
rather than hours. If you don’t make these tasks easy, you will most
likely fail to implement them.
conversational in tone.
Crafting Emails That Get Responses
Because we are using targeted lists and personalizing our emails, we
have the ability to be conversational in every communication we send
and to sound natural. It’s important to incorporate a conversational
tone because it puts you on equal footing with your prospect or client.
As with many concepts shared in this book, your primary objectives
are to establish integrity and ensure that you are seen as an expert in
In some cases, email is the only way you will ever communicate with
your prospects (until you do business with them). It’s important that
you present the right image. Because we are using targeted email
marketing, we have the unique ability to establish our credibility and
foster a positive working relationship.
Here is the typical format of my emails. You may want to use a different
spin. It’s not my intent to change your approach to sales copy, but this
has worked quite well for me.
The maximum on your subject line should be fifty characters. Most
email programs do not show any more than this and shorter subject
lines have been shown to have a higher open rate.
I usually use something like “<My Company Name> follow-up” or if I’m
sending a press release or article, I may put the title or a variation of it
in the subject line. I don’t spend a lot of time crafting my subject line, I
just make sure it doesn’t scream “I want to sell you something.”
Note: If in your business it makes sense to include a time sensitive
offer or discount/sale/promotion, feel free to put this in the subject
line. These offers have tested well.
This might be something like, “I thought you and your team would be
interested in this.” The idea is that you have a very human purpose for
Value, Value, Value
Whether it’s an article, a testimonial, or simply an update on what your
company is doing, there MUST be some value in every email you send.
Ask yourself before you send: Is there value in this for my audience? If
there isn’t, don’t send it.
Tip: If your email doesn’t have value for every contact in your mailing
list, you need to create a separate list. Re-work the criteria for your
it easy to
even with a
list, or the content of your email, until your email has value for every
Call to action
“I’d like to chat with you in the next couple of days to get an update
on <Company Name>’s current situation.” – Put any appropriate call
to action here; this is just one I often use. I’m asking for an update,
Permission to tell me no
“If this isn’t something that fits your current strategy, I would love to
know that as well as it allows me to more effectively use my time
and plan my follow up efforts.” Sometimes I also use “If this isn’t
something that fits in your current plans, I’d like to know that as well
as I am in process of my quarterly account updates.” The point is that
you want a response. If your prospect has no plans of buying, you
want to know that too.
I can’t count the amount of time I have saved in my career by inviting
prospects to tell me that they weren’t currently looking for my services.
Even prospects that are not interested will take the time to help you if
you invite them respond in the negative.
Tip: I keep a spreadsheet called “own your territory.” Every time I
pass you off.
get a response from this type of email, I put that information into
my spreadsheet (along with company name). Something along the
lines of: “budgeting for solution in 2010” or “currently contracted
with Competitor X until Q4” and so on. After a while, you’ll have a
snapshot of your entire territory in one place. I also add competitor
and future project information into my CRM system so I can query that
Permission to pass me off to someone else
“If this isn’t something you are currently responsible for, please share
my contact information with the person who is and let me know who I
should expect to hear back from.”
Try to add one more item of value here, possibly an article from your
blog, an upcoming product update, etc.
This example reads much differently than a typical sales email, but it
works. The idea is to get a response, regardless of what that response
contains. Any information is good information.
Every component of my example serves a specific purpose. While
it seems fairly specific, I can send the same email to a thousand
contacts and each of them will read it as though it was written
specifically to them. The responses I get back prove it, and my
response rate to this type of communication is many times higher than
that of standard email marketing efforts.
Test Every Email
Before you send any mass email, always send it to yourself first. If
possible, send it to a web mail address (like Yahoo or Google) and
a corporate email program like Outlook. This way you can see how
it appears in different readers (they WILL vary). If you don’t have a
web mail account, create one for this purpose. If you don’t have MS
Outlook, send it to a friend who does and ask them to send you a
screen shot from their end. This is crucial. Sending an email to a
thousand people only to find out that the formatting is completely off
will quickly deflate your enthusiasm.
An even better way to test your bulk email is to set up a mail list in
your program which includes your test addresses, complete with first
name, last name, company name, etc. When you use this list to send
your test emails, you can also make sure that your dynamic content is
working properly. A blank greeting or last name where the first name
should be are just as embarrassing (and unprofessional) as poor
Avoid The Most Common Email Mistakes
I’ve learned most of my mistakes from experience. I’ve sent a thousand
emails with my name in the greeting line. A close friend of mine intended
to send me an email about how attractive he thought one of our vendors
was; he sent it to her by accident (sending to a person mentioned
in your email happens often because that person’s name is on the
top of your mind)! I accidentally revealed an office romance between
two friends of mine and didn’t realize it until I heard chuckles from
Always enter the recipient name (or list name) last
Re-read, verify values and test your email first. If you enter the
recipient name or list name first, one slip of the finger or mistaken
mouse click can doom you!
Never put more than one address in the “To:” field
Although this has been mentioned before, it’s worth repeating.
In any marketing email, never include more than one name in
the “To:” field. Also, leave the “cc” and “bcc” fields empty. No
exceptions. Sending a mass email using these fields will expose
all email addresses to everyone on your list (and they may end up
in a competitor’s inbox). It also makes it very clear that you only
see this person as a name on a list. Most email programs will kick
out an email if the recipient’s name isn’t in the “To:” field.
Email marketing programs like the ones discussed in this
chapter automatically send an individual email to each
Never assume the recipient is the only one who will read
This applies equally to both internal and external email.
Write every email as if it will be viewed by others. Never
make a derogatory remark about anyone in your emails.
Karma’s law says that is exactly the person who will end
up reading it. Always consider email a permanent record.
Don’t send too much information
This isn’t about volume of text. If you send a prospect your
brand new pricing matrix, how do you know their brother
doesn’t work for the competition? Never assume that a
recipient will recognize confidential information, either. Just
because you have a confidentiality statement in your email
doesn’t mean it will get read. If something is confidential,
simply say, “please consider this information confidential,”
especially if it’s something like pricing information.
You may even want to throw “please consider this confidential”
into your email strategically, even if it’s not that vital. It gives the
impression of privileged information or that the recipient might be
getting a better deal (when price is included).
Don’t forget attachments
It’s not too big of a deal, we’ve all done it, but it still
Send emails at the right times
Unless you are marketing to consumers, don’t send emails
on a Monday, Friday, or late in the day. These emails get
buried under everything else that comes in that night or over
the weekend. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays before
noon are the best time to distribute.
I will occasionally send emails on a Friday around 11:00 am
if it’s a popular vacation weekend. It’s not optimal, but often
people are looking for anything to take their mind off of the
work at hand.
Google the phrase “email mistakes” for other common and uncommon email
mishaps and checkout “MessageGate” for some entertaining email blunders.
Permission-based email is making the medium more effective as a
marketing tool. The idea is that you only contact people you have
already had communications with, or those who have chosen to give
you their contact information and have agreed to receive your emails.
The terms “spam” and “mass” emailing don’t apply to permissionbased email. When used appropriately, these emails are always
targeted and always add value. Aside from professional and legal
concerns, emails sent to people who do not fall into the permissionbased category are a waste of time. If your contact list is over
1,000,000 recipients but few are actually interested in what you have to
offer, your work is truly ineffective.
Legal Considerations For Email
The federal laws governing email are contained in the CAN-SPAM
Act. Here is a summary: The bill permits e-mail marketers to send
unsolicited commercial e-mail as long as it contains the following:
An opt-out mechanism;
A valid subject line and header (routing) information;
The legitimate physical address of the mailer; and
A label if the content is adult oriented.
The content is exempt if it consists of:
Content that broadly complies with the marketing
mechanisms specified in the law; or
National security messages.
For marketing purposes, this means don’t send emails to addresses
you gleaned from a list, and always allow recipients to easily remove
themselves from your list within 10 days. For a full list of legal
considerations regarding email, visit LegalArchiver.
Reporting & Analytics
You could spend hours a day analyzing the data you receive from your
email campaigns, and some people do. However, most professional
salespeople have little time for data processing. What you can do is
view a few critical data points for the emails you send that can help
boost sales and add value to future interactions.
Tools like Constant Contact, iContact and MailChimp have built-in
reporting features for the most useful analysis. Here are a few of the
things you will want to keep an eye on:
Keeping track of which emails and audiences have the highest open
rates (the percentage of emails which are actually read) will help you
fine-tune your email marketing efforts.
This information is incredibly valuable when used properly. You can
easily see which recipients clicked on the links and images embedded
in your email. As I’ve illustrated previously, this allows for additional
targeting and very successful follow-up efforts. It is also useful to see
which links have the most draw for your audience.
In addition to scheduling emails, auto-responders may have additional
benefits to your business.
Auto-responders have a few fantastic features, specifically, the ability
to automate additions to your email list and to automatically send a
series of emails to your list at set intervals. I call these progressive
emails. Each one typically reinforces and continues to build the sales
pitch over the span of the email string.
work for you.
Internet marketers who want to drive return traffic to their site or
automate “touches” in order to sell a product favor this technique.
You’ve probably heard that it takes 7 “touches” before someone
buys. So, create 8 or 9 progressive messages in your auto-responder
and let it do the rest.
I don’t use these in my corporate business, but I do use them to promote
my book and websites. I encourage you to do some research if you
think this might fill a niche in your business. I will caution you that I think
6 or 7 progressive emails will not go over well in most B2B situations
because you cannot adjust for buyer feedback. Simple “touches” are
better suited to this and can be managed in your other email marketing
I’m sure you’ve heard that newsletters can add significant value to your
marketing endeavors. Perhaps you’ve even tested it. The truth about
newsletters is that the real benefit to you occurs before the newsletter
is even distributed. The most common and effective use of newsletters
is to entice prospects to share their contact information with you.
Beyond capturing contact information, newsletters are typically used
to stay in front of potential prospects. I personally feel that two to
three personalized and targeted email contacts a month will serve
this purpose much better. Do you really read any of the newsletters
that show up in your inbox? I read a few, but only those coming from
people I value highly.
The other challenge is that “top-of-mind” no longer works. We’ve
been taught to send out mass emails regularly in order to stay on
the clients’ radar. “You never know when someone is ready to buy.”
The reality is that it’s much easier for your audience to do a Google
or Blog search for something than it is to search through their inbox
(more likely through their deleted items) to find your newsletter. The
instant access to information available today has decreased the
effectiveness of top-of-mind marketing dramatically.
Email is the most effective form of marketing at your disposal.
“If your email isn’t personal, it’s broken.” - Seth Godin
Choose a modern email marketing tool designed for sales
Every email must add value to the individual recipients.
Continuously analyze and test your email marketing campaigns.
More Great Resources
Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friend and Friends into
Customers - Seth Godin [Book]
Constant Contact Learning Center [Tutorials & Best Practices]
Important Lessons About Communication
Word of mouth is the most powerful force in sales. Any
dissatisfaction should be taken seriously and escalated to
management. Technology makes it easy for ideas to spread,
and enough rumbling can cripple a company or salesperson.
There are a finite number of potential buyers in your territory.
Use every interaction as a means of making a good impression.
You never know which interactions will be remembered.
Email is no longer taboo. In fact, it’s three times (at least) more
likely than a phone call to get a response, even from someone
you know. Taking the time to listen to voicemail, write down
the message, and call someone back doesn’t fit well into most
people’s schedules. Hitting reply when they have a few extra
Never underestimate the power of playing dumb. For example,
“I’m embarrassed to say I have no idea who I should be talking
to and the receptionist didn’t know either, but I’m hoping
you might be able to assist me.” Our egos make it difficult
to communicate in this way, but when you’re stuck, this can
open a lot of doors. Another example, “Well, let me ask you.
What approach do you think will have the best impact with
your team?” “How does Susie like her meetings to run?”,
“How would you sell this product to your company?”
When inquiring with a receptionist, ask for your party in a tone
that suggests you already know that person: “Jack Murphy,
please.” If you are suspected to be a salesperson, even if you
do in fact know the individual you are calling, you’re going
to set off alarms in the mind of the receptionist, which can
sideline your efforts.
Never ask the receptionist to connect you with someone whose
name you don’t know (the IT Manager for example). Ask for the
department, then when connected, ask for the most appropriate
person to speak with. The person who answers the phone at
the department level is much less adept at screening calls than
the main receptionist.
Don’t use out-of-office replies unless you won’t have access
to email for an entire day. Many salespeople mistakenly think
that a half-day meeting or sales conference warrants an outof-office message. People begin to perceive you are always
away from the office.
Never call someone just to “check-in.” If you don’t have something
of value to communicate, don’t call. It appears needy and implies
you don’t trust them to contact you when something changes.
Always leave your call-back number twice on a phone message.
How Blogging Has Revolutionized Selling
I have experienced three major turning points in my professional career.
The first was when J.C. Coldren took a chance with me and gave me
my first “professional” sales job at 19. The second was when I finally
had enough knowledge to place real solutions in front of my clients and
offer thought leadership. The third was the day I discovered blogging.
“Blogs are telling it like it is at
the street level”
– Brad Inman
Since I started implementing blogs into my business I have uncovered
opportunities and closed business that I simply could not have
captured using any other means. The benefits, as I will share later
in this chapter, are multi-faceted. If you haven’t experienced this for
yourself, it’s difficult to fathom, but the results can be tremendous.
Like many of you, whenever I heard the term “blog”, I assumed it
referred to some distraught teenager pouring out their emotions in an
online journal. Then I started hearing about political blogging, corporate
blogging, and blogging professionals. In the last few years, I have been
enlightened and I will go on record as saying that blogs are the most
important source of information on the internet.
That’s a bold statement, so I’ll elaborate. The information found in
(most) blogs is untouched by any corporate agenda. There is no
marketing spin; information and ideas flow freely and quickly! Good
blogs provide unfiltered information with both personality and credibility.
Most marketers develop web pages to promote a product or an idea,
essentially advertising. Blogs are written by real people just like you
and me and are an innovative and personal means to reach the public.
Since I discovered blogs, they have been the first place I look for
credible and uncensored information. If I want to learn about the local
real estate market, I turn to blogs. If I am considering the purchase of
a product or service, I will research the “blogosphere” first. I look at the
blogs posted by people I am considering doing business with, or by an
author whose work I am thinking about reading.
Blogs are becoming increasingly popular in all aspects of society. Go
to Technorati and key your industry or company name into the search
box to see what the blogs are saying. You will be surprised by the
number of resources and the depth of information they contain.
Blogs empower people to make better choices, be more educated
and find experts who share insider information not privy to mainstream
media. If you think about it, traditional media outlets simply don’t have
the bandwidth or desire to cover all that goes on in our world; bloggers
do. Bloggers number in the millions and cover an innumerable number
of topics. If a company is acting as a corrupt corporate citizen,
bloggers are the first to know. If your particular industry is poised for
major change, there are experts in the know who are blogging about it.
There are interesting demographics about blog readers themselves:
Blog readers are 11% more likely to earn over $75K.
Blog readers are 30% more likely to buy products or
Blog readers spend twice as much time online.
Why Should Sales Professionals Blog?
Until the last few years, blogs were most popular for entertainment,
social or news related material. However, before too long the influence
and topic base grew.
More recently, blogging has been adopted by online marketers,
authors, large corporations, real estate professionals and experts (real
and self-proclaimed) in just about every other field you can imagine.
The group that has not been widely represented is professional
salespeople. Google the phrase “blogging for sales professionals” and
you will see a long list of irrelevant material. Aside from Real Estate
professionals, salespeople have been slow to jump on the blog-wagon.
It is my belief that blogs offer tremendous value to sales professionals,
perhaps more than to any other professional group.
*Source: Internet Marketing Company.
I’m not suggesting that all salespeople develop a blog. An overinflux of self-promoting bloggers hyping products that offer little or no
value to the readers will taint what is presently a valuable resource.
However, true sales professionals, who have valuable knowledge and
expertise to share, should definitely consider it.
For sales professionals, blogging serves to establish credibility and
reach potential customers. If your prospective customers find your blog
when conducting a web search, or see your articles reprinted by other
credible sources (another benefit of blogging I will discuss shortly), they
will automatically see you as a trusted advisor and will be inclined to
do business with you. This is amplified when your blog posts contain
targeted, valuable information that is not found elsewhere.
As a consumer, if you were searching real estate online and found a
useful blog that was candid about the market you were considering
and also offered other useful information that wasn’t readily available
or compiled in any other place, wouldn’t you be likely to consider
using their service? Furthermore, hasn’t this person instilled more
trust and credibility than the typical website or yellow-page ad
would? Of course!
stay in touch
Reasons Why You Should Blog
Reason #1: Credibility
It is difficult to build credibility with people you don’t know
through traditional sales efforts, with the exception of through
word-of-mouth. You simply don’t have a voice in the market
that carries an effective means of endorsement. You might
already distribute an e-newsletter that provides your existing
contacts with amazing information about you and your
services, but what about the people who you aren’t currently
in contact with? Blogging can be your answer to reaching
new clients AND staying in touch with current ones.
Some forward-thinking salespeople have boosted their
credibility by actively participating in online forums related
to their field. This serves as a way to answer questions
and provide valuable information. However, there are
two problems associated with online forums that blogs
solve. First, online forums are typically a one-time activity.
Unless the viewer contacts you via email from the forum,
the moment has passed as soon as they leave the
venue. Second, few people have the time to visit every
relevant forum, monitor questions regularly and engage in
conversation in dozens of places.
A good blog allows your “presence” to be in thousands of
places at once, 24 hours a day, ready to shake hands, answer
questions and be a trusted advisor. With a blog, instead of
self-evangelizing you will have people quoting you, posting
links to your posts, etc. Now when/if you do participate in
forum discussions, you can provide a link back to your blog,
with more of the great ideas you have to offer.
Reason #2: Interest Level
With a newsletter your audience is limited. People have such
tight schedules, not everyone on your contact list will have time
to read it. With a blog, your readers have essentially asked you
to keep them in mind and they will seek out the information
you have to share. These people are much more likely to not
only read what you have to say, but also to buy what you have
to sell. Further, blogs are not typically perceived as a sales
mechanism, while newsletters are.
Reason #3: “Power-Linking”
This is a term that means sending your prospects to material
published online instead of them hearing it directly from you.
Imagine you have a prospect who is gathering information
to build an RFP. This is a great opportunity to manage the
buying process, but it has to be accomplished as an advisor,
that you are
not as a salesperson. You could simply inform them of what
to look for and what to be cautious of, but it is much more
powerful to point them to a well-written article on a popular
blog (authored by you) that will walk them through the buying
Once your blog gains some traction, your articles are also going
to show up on other sites. This is common practice in the
blogging world, and it’s a good thing! If an even more popular
blogger or trade publication picks up your article, you have just
enhanced your profile. Now instead of just sending prospects
to your blog, you can also send them to an unbiased 3rd party
who thought your article was important enough to re-publish
on their website. You can’t build much more credibility than
that! Now your prospect not only understands your business
approach but also views you as an expert in your field.
Reason #4: Presence
Without technology it’s impossible to be everywhere at once.
If you aren’t considered early in the evaluation process, your
chances of securing a client are minimal. Through your blog,
the references to it, and the re-prints of your information, you
have a presence. You’ll appear in search engines, the forums
and everywhere else people are talking about your industry.
Reason #5: Branding
People like to be associated with high profile people and
do business with them. When you become a sought-after
commodity, you create a brand which defines you. This brand
supersedes your company’s public image and follows you
everywhere you go. If you become a valuable source of
information, you become independently marketable.
Reason #6: Building Potential Customer Relationships
Blogs give you a chance to interact with your audience
and build rapport even without direct communication. The
interactions you have within others can be an integral part of
your blog. Visitors will see that not only do you have relevant
expertise, but others are turning to you for advice. Your
credibility essentially snowballs because of the human tendency
to keep up with the Joneses.
Reason #7: Traffic
Blogs are more search engine friendly by design than most
websites are. As your content grows, and more and more
people link to your dialogue, your search engine ranking will
soar. Linking between blogs and posts is part of the current
blog culture, and it promotes your site in the search engines
Even with no links, some of my blogs have appeared in the
top three results in Google searches after only a couple of
days. Even if your company’s website gets good search traffic,
it’s still a company website. A blog in the top search results on
Google or MSN can have a huge impact on your pipeline.
Reason #8: Springboarding
When most people start a blog, they aren’t thinking about
parallel opportunities that may surface as a result, but it’s
likely these opportunities will arise. Within just a few days
of starting my first blog I was contacted by several industry
analysts asking for further information on a particular article
I had written. One of those inquiries led to a great business
relationship. Many bloggers will also find themselves
with opportunities for syndication in trade magazines or
for speaking engagements. Finally, many excellent job
opportunities have arisen for hard working bloggers. I don’t
know any way to make this kind of visible splash with typical
Is Blogging Right For You And Your Business?
Blogging is not for everyone. You certainly don’t want your entire
sales force, with varying degrees of communication and writing skills,
competing for real estate in the blogosphere. Blogging may not be for
you or it may not fit into your business model. That’s OK, but many
of you will be thoroughly pleased with the results you can achieve with
very minimal effort.
Like many of the ideas I share in this book, the idea of setting up a
blog might seem overwhelming. It’s likely a very new concept for you,
but the initial shock is much worse than the actual application. In fact,
you can have a blog up and running in 10 minutes. You can set up
your posts for an entire month in the same amount of time budgeted
for one day of cold-calling! This doesn’t require any more work than
the things you are doing now; in fact it requires quite a bit less. And it
is still remarkably more effective than traditional networking.
Below are a few questions taken from a checklist posted by a prominent
blog managed by Darren Rowse. Darren is considered a leading expert
in blogging, and I discoverd many of the ideas I’m sharing with you on this
topic through Darren and his work. I have modified the explanations a bit
for my audience, but the questions are universal. This checklist will help
you determine if you possess the right motivational skills and interest to
develop a blog:
Do you enjoy writing?
Blogs are a written medium. If you do not enjoy writing, or you
are not passionate about your subject, then perhaps you should
not consider a blog. However, if writing is your only hang-up,
I wouldn’t rule blogging out entirely. Many people have been
successful with blogs simply by compiling information from other
resources and making it available to their readers in one place.
Are you a self starter?
Starting a blog takes initiative. While blog software makes it
simple to start a blog, a blog doesn’t run itself, and it takes a
motivated person to get one off the ground. This is especially
important in the early stages. Once your blog is up, you can
simply post content a few times a week (or daily) and respond
to reader comments. At the onset, it’s going to take more work
to establish your internet presence. There are few things more
disappointing then an abandoned blog that had real potential.
Do you have the time?
In addition to the work required to get the blog off the ground,
it also requires you spend time regularly to keep the content
fresh. Stale content will diminish your subscriber list rapidly.
If you are currently doing any type of prospecting, then you
have the time to refresh your content. A single post may take
30 minutes to write but can reach thousands. If you don’t
see yourself writing posts several times a week, then spend a
few hours on a Friday afternoon preparing your posts for the
following week. Most blog software will automatically display
your posts at the times you set throughout the week.
Are you thick-skinned?
People are going to read what you write. Not everyone is going
to agree with you (especially your competition). It’s no different
than presenting your opinion in daily conversation, only your
audience is much larger. You will need to be able to “roll with the
punches” and maintain a professional persona regardless of how
your readers might respond.
Do you have any technical ability?
This is not a limitation in most cases. If you can check your
email, you can manage a blog. If you want to customize your
blog, you will need some skills. Thousands of “plug-ins” are
available to add some functionality to your blog, and technical
savvy will come in handy however, most blog software makes
any customization pretty simple.
Do you have perseverance?
The development of a large subscriber base doesn’t happen
overnight. As you start adding useful content, you will see your
efforts rewarded with an increase in subscribers numbers but it will
I recommend visiting Darren’s blog when you are ready to get started.
He presents a wealth of useful information. The web address is
What Is A Blog?
The term blog is short for “Web Log”. A blog is essentially a
chronologically ordered series of written posts with built-in reader
interaction (comments or forums). Blogs are typically misperceived as
personal online journals. The fact is that some blogs have readership
in the millions (per day), placing them in the ranks of the most popular
sources of mainstream media. Feel free to visit one of my blogs at http://
www.passivepipeline.com for an example.
What Is A Post?
A post is simply a blog entry. It might be quite short, or span a couple
of pages. It might be original content, a quote or a link to another article
or post. Posts are typically displayed in reverse chronological order so
that the most recent posts are displayed first.
What Is RSS?
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. The popularity of RSS is
exploding, and it’s one of the key reasons that blogging is so beneficial
to sales professionals. Readers who visit your blog can subscribe to
your RSS feed (usually by clicking a single button). This is attractive
to the user because it doesn’t require any contact information. Once
a visitor has subscribed to your RSS feed, the content of your posts
will be instantly transmitted to whatever service they use to read their
news (Google Reader, for example). Visiting multiple websites on a
regular basis to get information is out. RSS feeds are in!
Building Your Blog
If I’ve done my job representing the valuable role blogging can play in
your professional sales, then you’re probably ready to get started.
Below, I have summarized the steps to begin blogging in a way that lends
itself to sales. Most of the information available today is for the personal
blogger or those who want to make money with their blogs directly. We
are taking the indirect path, one which further promotes our expertise
and builds our credibility without pitching a specific product or service.
Identify your theme and goals
Before you set up your blog or write your first post, it’s
important to determine the overall theme. Are you going to
review products? Provide insider information? Educate your
audience? Provide property listings? Your blog can have any
purpose or even have more than one, but I suggest you stay
focused on one primary theme. Once your readers have grown
to expect a certain type of experience from your blog, changing
your focus may cause them to look elsewhere.
Identify your audience
Who are your target readers? Are they HR professionals,
purchasing agents, consumers or CEO’s? You can cater to
more than one audience, but you need to make sure your
content is serving them all equally well.
Another consideration in identifying your audience is your
actual sales reach. If you handle a small territory, it is
important to focus on content relevant to that reader base.
You might also choose to keep your audience very broad.
This is particularly useful if you are in a position to gain referral
business. You may send your readers to a trusted colleague in
a different area or specialty. Or, if you are a true team player,
you might flip leads to a co-worker who handles the area
outside your region. If this is the case, I suggest you establish
up-front how you might be compensated for a referral.
If you offer a local service in rural Montana for example, there
is no need to expand your reach. However, if you have a
relationship with a trusted colleague in a nearby area, it might
make sense. If you are a mortgage lender who is licensed it
several states, then I advise you target the broader audience.
It is also important to determine how people will locate you.
If potential clients are likely to search for your product or
service on a local scale (i.e. real estate or lawn care), then
distinguish yourself as community-committed and target that
audience. If you sell enterprise software, it is not likely anyone
will be searching with geographic location as a buying factor,
so it makes sense to aim for a broad audience. Someone
searching for real estate will likely use a city name when
researching online (i.e. “Chicago condos”). A CTO looking for
new storage hardware will not.
Identify your audience’s specific needs
If your audience is HR professionals, your content is going
to be different than if you are serving IT professionals. Not
only will your content be different, but your writing style
and underlying message will be distinctively different. IT
professionals prefer details and information on the latest
technology. HR professionals want to determine how they can
enhance service to their employees. CEO’s want to know how
other companies have instituted change using the products
or services offered by your industry. Salespeople want to
make more sales. If you have been in your field for any length
of time, you know best what will benefit your audience. Don’t
lose sight of this important design element.
Plan the structure of your blog
Common components of a blog include posts, comments,
an “about the author” page, external links, and a list of recent
posts, among others. The necessary components of your
blog will certainly change as it develops, but initially you will
need to determine which elements are most appropriate to
Plan your schedule
You will have to decide how much time you can commit to
your blog. You may be able to work it in a few times a week
or choose to load all of your posts on a Saturday afternoon.
Remember, the intent of this entire book is to maximize your
business while spending more time selling.
I recommend you start out by posting a few times a week.
Block out a 30 minute window in your schedule to write. You
will also want to schedule a couple of times a week to check
on comments and interact with readers. As you get the hang of
blogging and what your readers are looking for, it will become
easier to set aside an hour or two a week to pre-load all of your
Select a blog service
If you’re just launching into blogging, use Google’s Blogger
product. It’s hands-down the easiest to use of all the choices
available, and it’s free. Setting up a blog with Google Blogger
is literally a 5 minute process. As an added bonus, Google
(who happens to own 60%+ of online searches) heavily favors
blogs that use their platform (i.e., more search traffic to your
If you are more technically inclined, you may want to try a more
flexible service like TypePad or WordPress. They offer some
additional bells and whistles, so you can customize your blog
to the nth degree (Google’s Blogger is catching up and now
offers most of the functionality and flexibility of these more
purist products and you can always upgrade to one of these
other platforms down the road).
Another reason more advanced users lean toward other
products is that they want to have their own web address for
the blog, as opposed to yourblog.blogspot.com (which is the
Blogger default). Unless you are experienced with website
hosting and domains, the simplicity of Google Blogger will
outweigh that one drawback.
To get started with Google Blogger, visit www.blogger.com.
You will either sign in using an existing Google or Gmail
account, or create a new one. After that, name your blog,
pick a template and you’re done.
Configure your blog
For this next step I will assume you’re using Blogger. If you
aren’t, then you’re probably experienced enough to know
where to find these settings.
Naming your blog
There are two places to provide a name for your blog. One is
the title, which will be shown in the heading, and the second
is in the web address of the blog (yourblog.blogspot.com).
When choosing a name, be sure to keep your audience in
mind. What will attract your target viewers? When choosing a
web address, keep it short but relevant.
Your blog’s description will be seen by readers who visit your
site, and it will also appear in search engine results. You will
want to choose descriptors that possess keywords related to
your topic, but don’t sacrifice keyword use for a clear message.
Devise a short and relevant address, something that
contains keywords relevant to your topic, is short, and is fairly
easy to remember.
This option tells your blog software whether you want to
notify search engines about your web and blog indexing. The
answer is yes.
Number of posts to show
This option tells the software how many posts (articles) to
show on the home page of your blog. Depending on the
length of your posts, 3-10 is appropriate. You can archive or
categorically arrange posts so that readers can easily access
the ones that have been bumped from your home page.
Comments and back-links
At first, you may want to disable comments from your posts.
Once you get steady traffic, you can turn them back on. If
you have few or no comments, it gives the appearance that
your blog is not very popular. However, it’s expected that a
new blog will not have many comments so it’s not a huge
concern. As time goes on, if your posts are still not receiving
any feedback, you may want to keep this option off until your
Back-links are a way of showing your readers other blogs
that reference your posts. As your reader base grows, the
other sites which link to your blog will also grow (though this
is heavily dependent on the quality of your content).
This option allows you to offer an RSS feed for your blog.
There are a couple of different formats which you can
investigate. You will also need to add buttons to your site to
allow people to subscribe. For now, you will need to activate
feeds by turning this option on and naming your feed.
Create your first post
Begin your blog with a “welcome” post with a brief statement
about why you have created your blog and what interests you
intend to serve. This MUST be accompanied by a second post
which has valuable information for your readers. A “welcome”
post by itself is not going to compel anyone to come back.
Create your “pillar” posts
I borrowed this term from Yaro Starek, the author of several
blogs including Entrepreneur’s Journey and Small Business
Branding. Here is Yaro’s description: “A pillar article is
usually a tutorial style article aimed to teach your audience
something. Generally they are longer than 500 words and
have lots of very practical tips or advice.“...“This style of
article has long term appeal, stays current (it isn’t news or
time dependent) and offers real value and insight. The more
pillars you have on your blog the better.”
Yaro suggests that you begin with at least five pillar posts.
You don’t want to post these articles all at once or even in
succession. The idea is to have at least five high-impact
articles at your disposal to give your readers above-average
value. These pillar posts are also the ones most likely to be
picked up and linked by other sites.
Spread the word
When your blog is set up and you have your welcome post
and one good article, you are ready to present it to the world!
Easy Ways To Build Blog Traffic
Now that your blog is ready for the public to utilize, you will need to
get the word out. This is easier to do than you might imagine. In fact,
your first visitors may come through no efforts of your own. Bloggers
are a curious bunch, so don’t be surprised if your first visitors are fellow
bloggers (who are probably well worth knowing).
Here are some additional ways to ensure your blog is poised for
Post Quality Content
Posting quality content is consistently cited as the number one factor
generating blog traffic. I will discuss this in the next section, but I
would be breaking blogger protocol if I didn’t mention it now.
Submit To Online Directories
There are thousands of online directories for blogs, but most of
them are either not very useful or they will eventually find your blog
automatically. In the interest of time, I have provided you with the
most effective online directories.
Technorati is the premier blog indexing engine and it will play
a big role in your blog’s initial success. www.technorati.com.
Google Blogger will automatically inform Google about your
blog. If you’re not using Google Blogger, visit Google Blog Search
Pinging Service to complete this step manually.
Sign up for FeedBurner. This tool is free and offers several
benefits, most importantly that of distributing your blog posts
via RSS. It also allows you to quickly view your blog statistics
such as the number of visitors and subscribers.
Blogcatalog.com. I’m using blogcatalog. Many blog index sites
exist, but I prefer this one because it has a high Google
PageRank™. In addition to being listed on their site, having
a link from a page with a high PageRank™ will help you
appear higher in search engine results.
You may consider spending some time getting listed with the other
directories. If you do, download the Google Toolbar so you can see
each site’s PageRank™. Look for sites that have a rank of five or
Post Comments On Other Blogs
When you comment on another person’s blog, it will typically create
a hyperlink that other readers can follow to learn more about the
individual that commented. Do not leave comments strictly to promote
your own blog; this is considered “comment spamming” and these
comments will most likely be discarded by the author. If you have
valuable feedback for the author or additional information for other
readers, comment all you like. If you’re commenting on a site with a
big reader base, this additional traffic can lead many readers to your
Submit Your Posts To eZineArticles.com
eZineArticles is a place where authors and columnists can submit
articles to be viewed and re-used by the masses. This accomplishes
two goals. First, it gets your name and ideas out there. Each article
you write includes a signature tag that allows you to include your blog
address. Second and most importantly, it makes your articles available
for syndication. Publishers and content providers constantly scour
eZineArticles.com to find articles to include in their newsletters, blogs,
and websites. Anyone who re-uses your content must credit you and
include your signature block (with a link to your blog).
Always submit your “pillar posts” to eZineArticles.com, but wait a few
days after posting so that Google indexes yours as the original.
Encourage Comments On Your Blog
By encouraging readers to participate, they feel engaged in your blog
and develop a personal relationship with you. This is a valuable tool in
building a base of return readers.
Get Links From Other Bloggers
Darren Rowse is again a great resource; visit his article: 13 Tips on
Asking Other Bloggers for Links.
Aside from the obvious benefit of keeping content fresh for your
readers, frequent updates prompt the search engines and blog reader
robots to visit your site more frequently, making sure that your posts
are visible to as many readers as possible.
Keep The Design Simple
Be careful not to add too much distraction to your blog. The focus
should be on your content. While you want to add elements that make
it easy to subscribe to your blog and find relevant links, you don’t
need to add a ton of bells and whistles.
Stay On Topic
Some people, even the best bloggers, can get off track. They may
have found a great new Chinese restaurant and can’t wait to tell
the world. The rule of thumb is that if it’s not of direct value to your
readers, don’t post it. Furthermore, if it’s not what your readers
expect to see, don’t post it. If the content is not on topic, it belongs
Maximize Your Reach With Quality Content
The definition of good content will depend on your audience.
What makes one blog legendary could prove useless to a different
audience. Follow these basic guidelines with your specific audience in
1. Make your material useful. If your target audience is learning
something new and relevant to your topic, they will be drawn
to your blog.
2. Capture the audience’s attention quickly. Assume that you have
about two minutes of time with your reader. Direct them to
something meaningful in that amount of time.
3. Develop unique material. This doesn’t mean your blog has to
contain all original posts; just make sure that you are providing
information that is not posted on every blog in your industry.
4. Make yourself stand out. If there are 100 bloggers writing on
the same topic, what makes you different? Why should readers
subscribe to your blog? Dare to be different! Take a different
stance, use a different tone or write in a humorous fashion.
Whatever it is, make sure there is something distinctive and
memorable about your blog and its content.
3 to 5
5. Consider Quantity of Posts – The ideal number of posts will vary,
but generally one a day or three to five per week is a reasonable
goal. Some of the most popular blog sites have multiple posts per
day, but this is due largely to their specialized content, such as
technology news. How often you post should be dictated purely
by the amount of useful information you have to share. If you can
easily write three to five good posts per week, you are meeting the
goal of maintaining a dynamic blog. If not, there are plenty of other
resources which you can share with your readers.
Finding External Content
There are two reasons why you might need to look outside your own
brilliant mind for content ideas. One is that at any particular time, you
may not have anything to write. The second is that you can provide
your readers with access to terrific information from other valuable
sources. Our egos may shudder at the thought of posting someone
else’s ideas, but this can be a great service to your readers.
Here are some ideas for finding material:
Subscribe to Google Alerts to keep you informed of all the latest
news in your industry.
Subscribe to the RSS feeds from other respected blogs on
Browse online trade publications for helpful articles.
Inform your readers of upcoming events.
When incorporating external content, it’s a good idea (and responsible
blogging) to provide a brief summary, followed by a link to the full
article. Copying and posting an entire article (even when you provide
credit to the author) is discourteous.
Establishing a link to other blogs will benefit you in a couple of ways.
First, you give your readers something useful. Second, the blogger you
reference may become a friend and establish a reciprocal link to you.
I would caution against linking to another blog that targets the same
exact audience as yours and by all rights is better than your own. The
idea is that you retain your readers!
Analyzing And Tuning Your Blog
Once you have traffic to your blog, you will want to look over the
usage statistics. Most blog software allows you to determine how
many people are visiting your page, which articles they are reading,
and how they reached your site.
This information is helpful in many ways. The measure you are most
interested in is of how many people are visiting your blog. It’s a very
good indicator of how the public receives your site. Don’t expect a
lot of traffic in the first few weeks (or even months in some cases).
The traffic will arrive, and it’s more about quality than quantity: some
of my first readers were from major corporations and still follow my
Remember that you don’t need a large amount of blog readers to
have a big impact on your sales.
It is valuable to determine how the users have found your blog. This
becomes important when you try to determine where to put your efforts
in promoting your blog. The ultimate goal is to turn your blog into an
entirely passive entity (except posting, of course). The more time you
spend at the onset attracting visitors, the more you can be assured that
your blog will run smoothly with less effort.
Finally, knowing which posts are well-liked will enable you to decide
what to write in the future. If a post on a specific subject is wildly
popular, writing more on that subject should please your audience.
I use the following tools to analyze my usage and traffic.
This tool is full-featured for a free product. Google Analytics
has a lot of versatility, but the most helpful tools are those
which allow you to view visitors by hour/day, see which pages
they accessed, see where there are from, see which site
referred them, and even see which operating system they
FeedBurner is primarily for managing your RSS feeds and
subscriptions. By using FeedBurner, you can ensure that all
of your readers are getting the same RSS feeds. It also has a
handy tracking tool and other options to enhance your blog.
Blogs are an opportunity to gain authority and credibility, and
to have prospects seek out your expertise.
Use blogs as a place to publish great content that increase
your traffic and reach.
Content and perserverence are the two primary attributes of a
Stay on topic and maintain a consistent voice.
Participate in other blogs and industry forums to help drive
traffic and increase exposure.
More Great Resources
ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income Darren Rowse [Book]
Blogging Tips for Beginners [Article]
Choosing a Blogging Platform [Article]
Quick Tips: Sales Process
Never stop experimenting. Don’t reinvent your sales process
during the slumps, but always be open to new ways to impact
your business and help your clients succeed.
If you don’t interact with more than one contact at a company
that is purchasing a complex (or expensive) solution , you will very
rarely win. You should have three regular contacts per opportunity.
If you are going to lose a deal, let it happen as quickly as
Know when to cut bait. An opportunity with a 10% chance
of closing will take just as much of your time as one with an
80% chance. You can only effectively work on so many deals,
therefore it’s best to weed out the low probability prospects
and focus on those you are more likely to contract. Even if you
don’t have back-fill, spend the time you save finding more
positive opportunities. If you’re working five deals and they all
fall through, your quarter is blown and you’ll spend the next one
trying to re-build your pipe. This is easier said than done, but
your passive pipeline will give you the backfill you need and you
can turn away low probability deals.
A buyer who approaches you is many times more likely to buy.
You should never have to “close” a prospect. Signing the
contract should simply be the next step in delivering what
they want/need. Your intent is to foster a long-term working
relationship with a client.
Never let a “presentation” precede a discussion. If you explain
to the prospect that you don’t make blind presentations
without fully understanding their needs, they will respect you
for it. If they don’t, they’re not a decision-maker.
Set the stage early for access to power. Whenever you
can, make it clear that you need access to the stakeholders
in order to bid on a project. If you don’t set this precedent,
you will be forced to work with the information gatherer for the
entire sales process.
The value that you personally bring to the buying process is
the single most relevant indicator of how likely you are to win
The hardest questions to ask are often the ones that most need
asking. One of my personal heroes Mahan Khalsa says that
if you are truly trying to help the client succeed, you can get
away with some questions that would scare most salespeople.
For example, “I haven’t heard anything that would compel me
to change providers if I were you, can you share your thoughts
with me on that?”
Never rely on anyone else to sell for you. They aren’t
salespeople. If someone offers to pass your information on,
offer to speak with the intended recipient personally. In this
way, you can directly send them information that is actually
relevant. Marketing material doesn’t ensure sales.
Selling at the C level makes sense sometimes, but not all the
time. Most buying decisions are delegated to the director
level or lower. It never hurts to engage the CEO, but they
do not warrant the brunt of your sales efforts. Besides,
they are the names everyone knows, they get assaulted by
salespeople all of the time. If you can show someone lower in
the hierarchy how your solution will benefit them personally,
you have a great chance at a glowing endorsement.
Expect (and earn) the same respect and consideration from
your clients that they demand from you. Creating the illusion
that you are somehow lower than your prospect or client
will hinder the entire relationship. This is very common in
situations where the relationship was started with a cold-call.
If you didn’t get into the relationship on equal footing, work
hard to get there quickly.
The New Professional Networking
Your Personal Business Network – Compliments Of Web 2.0
It’s commonly agreed that people buy from people they know and
trust. But unless you provide a local service in a very small town, you
don’t have the luxury of being known or trusted by all of the people
you would like to do business with.
With the overabundance of information currently available in our
society and the pure saturation of mainstream media and marketing,
it has become more and more difficult for salespeople to stand out.
People are so overwhelmed with marketing and solicitations that they
are forced to fall back on recommendations from people they trust.
In your business, have you ever known a buyer who was so
overwhelmed with choices and information that he simply bought from
someone he knew or who came recommended, even though it may
not have been the best choice?
Personal business networking has the potential to overcome this
major selling obstacle. One major advantage that networking has over
advertising and other forms of revenue generation is that it’s free. The
other attraction is that it’s primarily passive, and with a little work and
attention can produce opportunities that you simply wouldn’t have
Enter Web 2.0-Powered Personal Business Networking.
When you combine the natural benefits of business networking with
the power of the internet and the genius of Silicon Valley, you find
yourself with a tremendous tool. You probably already know that I’m
referring to LinkedIn, but you may not be harnessing its full potential.
LinkedIn has taken business networking to new heights, and it
continues to develop new ways for users to benefit from its services.
LinkedIn is a very powerful networking tool even with just the basic
functionality, and the developers are building additional tools such as
LinkedIn Answers and Services Directory, which presents salespeople
with even greater opportunities. With $12.8 million in new revenue,
LinkedIn has promised to experiment with even more powerful tools in
the coming years.
Regardless of whether you have or haven’t discovered LinkedIn, I’d
like you to pay special attention to how LinkedIn can have a significant
impact on raising your income.
Before we dive into of the anatomy of LinkedIn, I’d like to share a few
More than 37 million business professionals currently belong
to LinkedIn (26 million more than in 2007).
More than 100,000 new business professionals join weekly.
The average user is 39 years old and earns $139,000/year.
The average experience level of LinkedIn users is 15 years.
Members spend an average of 20 minutes on LinkedIn per week.
All of the Fortune 500 are represented at the executive level.
The average Harvard Business School graduate has 58
LinkedIn connections. The average Google employee has 47
Membership includes 89,000 CEO’s and another 750,000 C
Level Executives (as of 2007)
LinkedIn is a connection engine that does not operate on random
introductions. By simply adding the people you already know and
work with to your network, you can be directly allied to the people
you most want to do business with. Best of all, you arrived as a
trusted referral and your accolades are immediately apparent to your
prospects. I have yet to find a situation where someone I wanted to
reach, even a CEO, was more than two connections away. The more
people in your network, the more powerful the site becomes for you.
“People realize that relationships matter in business.
People want to find and do business with people who are
recommended by people they know. As a small business,
you don’t have a big brand behind you, which, in some ways,
makes your work harder. People are less likely to respond to
you because they don’t really know who you are. Having a
profile and endorsements on LinkedIn can help.”
– Konstantin Guericke
Co-founder and vice-president of marketing at LinkedIn.
How LinkedIn Can Impact Your Sales
By now the benefits of LinkedIn are probably obvious, but how can
this networking tool actually boost your sales and your career?
More than just a way of making new connections, LinkedIn enables
you to reconnect with previous colleagues, classmates and business
associates. It also gives you an opportunity to put your product or
service on the top of your contact’s mind.
Create A Mobile Network
Because it’s a personal vehicle for business development, your LinkedIn
network will follow you wherever you go. Should you choose to change
careers, your long list of satisfied customers can go with you. Even
better, the endorsements and connections you’ve built will follow you
as well, growing along the way.
Key contacts and introductions can be fostered through a simple
search using your network. You can search by company, keyword, line
of business and even find former employees of companies. The more
adept you become at using LinkedIn, the larger your network and the
more valuable your searches will become.
I read the following in an article on the power of connections on
LinkedIn. This is not a business scenario, but illustrates my point;
A group of friends and relatives who were scheduled to fly from
Israel to attend a man’s wedding in San Francisco encountered an
underbooked United Airlines flight. While at the airport in Israel, the
man located the French General Manager for United Airlines through
LinkedIn and got an introduction to an Israeli contact. Before long the
contact had the flight reinstated and United’s French General Manager
emailed the man to let him know that all passengers had safely
Another article I discovered recounted a meeting between two
entrepreneurs looking for capital and the founder of LinkedIn (who
invests heavily in startups). The meeting was arranged through, you
guessed it, LinkedIn. He liked the entrepreneurs’ pitch and offered to
contact them in a few days with a decision.
By using InMail you can directly contact any other member without the
need for a mutual connection. The LinkedIn communications networks
aren’t inexpensive, so they are still used sparingly enough to be taken
I haven’t seen any statistics to support this, but I would estimate that
this type of direct communication, even without mutual contacts, is
at least ten times more likely to garner a response than a cold-call or
letter. In fact, many professional salespeople rely 100% on LinkedIn as
a means of prospecting.
Endorsements are the most under-utilized feature among LinkedIn
users. This is unfortunate, because regardless of how many people you
are connected with, you won’t likely gain much ground without positive
feedback from people who have personally worked with you. By having
members of your network endorse your work, either as an employee,
peer, or client, you add instant and visible credibility to your name.
Aside from simply adding praise to your profile, you now have the ability
to present credentials and testimonials to potential LinkedIn connections.
Once you have built endorsements, I recommend you also display a button
linked to your profile in your email signature, blog and anywhere else you
can make connections. You can find the buttons to cpoy into your signature
on your profile settings page on LinkedIn’s website.
Research Your Prospects
LinkedIn allows you to learn about a prospect and their business
relationships before you turn to direct communication. In this way, you
have a chance to ascertain whether you might have a mutual contact,
or if you are connected to others in their organization.
You might use this strategy to locate a champion for a project beyond
your primary contact, or to introduce yourself to a key stakeholder
who may not yet be directly involved. You can even ask contacts in
your network to put in a good word for you ahead of time!
I research my sales representative competition on a regular basis. I
want to know who they know, who has endorsed their work, and as
much other information as I can garner. It is obviously important to
learn as much as you can about a competing company, but I also like
to know about the individual people I will be competing against.
I have also made it a habit to browse my contacts to see which
competitors they may have recently added to their networks. It’s a
great way to monitor who may be courting your best clients.
Get A New Job
A complete and endorsement-rich LinkedIn profile makes an excellent
resume and is also bait for potential employers. Companies like
Microsoft and Google spend hundreds of thousands a year on
LinkedIn services in order to find good candidates for open positions.
A profile with twenty or more connections on LinkedIn is thirty-four
times more likely to be approached with new job opportunities than is
one with less than five.
LinkedIn also offers a great opportunity to learn more about future
employers, uncover turnover concerns, see who has endorsed your
potential new boss, etc.
Ask For Advice
LinkedIn Answers is a survey tool which allows you to pose questions
to your entire network, not just your connections. If you want to find
out what is important in a business partner, just ask!
Another example, similar to the Israeli scenario I mentioned earlier,
involves a gentleman who needed to find a flight to the Netherlands to
visit a sick relative. He wasn’t having any luck with travel, sites so he
posted a question on LinkedIn. Within one hour he had six responses,
including a referral to someone who could get him a flight! The types
of questions you can submit to LinkedIn Answers are limitless.
You can have your new blog posting critiqued, determine the most
popular features of a product or service, etc.
Be Listed In The Services Guide
A new feature on LinkedIn is the services tab. It’s a way to search for
recommended providers, but it goes much further than that. When
someone submits an endorsement for you, it is stored in the services
directory. When someone within two network-relation levels of you
searches for a service provider in your field, your recommendations
will appear under that service. Those in the closest network relation
position to the searcher will appear first in the results. It’s completely
automated; all you need to do is indicate your line of business in your
profile and have people write recommendations for you.
How To Build (Or Enhance)
Your LinkedIn Network
Creating your profile on LinkedIn is an intuitive process, but I have
included some instructions to guide you.
1. Make sure you complete your profile. Adding your current profile
and educational accomplishments isn’t enough. I recommend you
add all past employers, colleges and degree(s), club participation,
community outreach and any of your other achievements to your
profile. This will give you a step up in connecting with more people.
2. Once you have completed step one, you can use the “People” tab
to locate and add new contacts from your current job, previous
jobs, schools and groups. LinkedIn will automatically find these
people and provide you with a list to choose which to add to your
network. Once you have done the automated searches, you can
also search for personal contacts by name, and send invitations to
join your network.
If you download the Outlook toolbar provided by LinkedIn, you can
scan your mailbox for potential connections and send invitations.
You can also use the toolbar to view LinkedIn information on
anyone you communicate with via email. The website provides
detailed instructions on how to accomplish this.
Some people use LinkedIn regularly, and others every few days,
so allow appropriate time for a response. Many people have just
as many pending invitations as active contacts. Some people just
don’t commonly use LinkedIn, or may have a company policy
against using networking sites, so don’t take it personally if an
invitation is not accepted.
3. Now that your contact list is populated, start asking people for
recommendations. LinkedIn allows you to send a courteous
request for endorsements. For the strongest recommendations,
request them from people you have worked with directly and have
served well. The right endorsements provide you the competitive
It is useful to have recommendations from all contact types (former
employers, coworkers and clients). You never know who will be
viewing your profile or why. Demonstrate your diversity and ability
to work in a variety of settings.
4. Consider a Premium Membership. My LinkedIn network has
served me well without paying for any premium membership
package. However, if you want to begin contacting prospects
directly, with no introduction, or to request many introductions,
you might want to consider the investment.
5. Be a good network citizen. While no rules exist against adding
people you don’t know or have mutual connections with, it
does go against the original intent of the service. Some power
networkers, known as “LIONS”, will display their email address as
part of their username to assist strangers in adding them to their
networks. This allows for greater outreach, but many would argue
it takes the value out of an introduction from a legitimate contact.
Sites like Myspace, FaceBook and even YouTube have caused the
general public to profile online networking as a social tool. LinkedIn
is all business. LinkedIn has a brilliant (possibly accidental) system
of self-regulation. This quality is not built into the software, but built
into the minds of its members. Professionals are inclined to invite
contacts at their level of expertise or above. When you chose which
contacts to invite to your network, did most of them fit this criterion?
The membership will continue to consist of those who are thought of
highly in the business world, making LinkedIn a sort of very, very long
Twitter: A Quick Guide For Sales Pros
By now you’ve heard of Twitter , or even dabbled with it. Quite
simply, Twitter is a way to connect with the world and update them
on what you’re doing, and vice versa. I didn’t see much value in that
professionally until I realized it’s more than just what you’re doing. It’s
what you’re reading, what you’re struggling with, what you suggest,
how you can help and how you can give back.
It also gives you an opportunity to connect with customers, to
connect with people who are interested in your area of expertise, and
to crowd-source a very large audience.
Twitter is a fantastic resource for sales professionals, but it must be
used correctly (I’ve compiled a short outline of the rights and wrongs
of twitter for sales pros), First, here are a few of examples of how
Twitter has helped me professionally:
I have found people who are happy/unhappy with my product and
I have made sure they all end up in the former category. A quick
Twitter search will turn up all mentions of your business or product
I have found people who are unhappy with the competition and I
have found ways to help. Twitter is often used to vent, and many
people include company and product names while doing so. Use
not a place
Twitter Search or your favorite application to find them.
I have found people who are considering using the products and
services I sell. I often find tweets (individual Twitter messages)
from people who are in meetings or demonstrations with my
competition. Tweet them back!
I have been promoted. Yesterday I posted a tweet about a
software tool that I really like (@SlideRocket) and a link to read
more about it on my website. The company reposted my tweet
(known as re-tweeting) to over 1,800 followers, and included my
web address. It was good press for everyone!
There are plenty of articles on the subject of Twitter, so I want to
focus on just the things I feel are important for sales professionals to
Twitter is not for prospecting. At least not in the traditional sense.
You will likely build relationships that turn into prospects, but don’t go
into thinking of Twitter as a lead source. It’s just not.
Add Value. Twitter’s tagline “What are you doing?” is partly to blame
for the “just ate dinner” and “watching Gossip Girl” tweets. In fact, the
original intention of Twitter was to share just that sort of information.
But the venue has evolved, and, from a business perspective, your
posts need to add value to the reader’s day. This is especially true for
people who recieve hundreds of updates per day.
And it’s not
Have two Twitter accounts. I use one which consistently adds value
to my readers (I hope). The other I use for more informal things like
connecting with vendors or asking questions of my peers. The latter
is full of re-tweets and @ responses (a message directed to a certain
person on Twitter has an @ symbol in front of the users name). I have
some of those in my outward facing account as well, but I find that a
lot of the communications I have on Twitter aren’t necessarily useful to
my followers. That’s what the second account is for.
Note: You’ll need a second email address to make a second account.
If you use Gmail and have a period in your name (justyn.howard),
you can simply exclude the period (justynhoward) and Twitter will
recognize it as a seperate email, but your messages will still go to the
ReTweet the good stuff. It’s courtesy, it adds value to your followers
and will likely gain you some additional ones.
It’s not a popularity contest. Don’t start following everyone in hopes
that they will follow you back. I only follow those people who, through
search, I have found to share an interest with me, those I want to get
new ideas from, or those who have followed me that also have some
useful posts of their own.
Use Direct Messages (DM’s as they are known). If you’re having a
two-way conversation with someone, use direct messages. These
are not shown to all of your followers, so they keep your timeline
clean and useful. When you respond to someone with an @ reply,
everyone sees it, and because they are only seeing one side of the
conversation, it’s pretty useless.
Include keywords and misspellings of your name in your tweets so
people can find you. If your name is commonly misspelled, include the
misspellings in one of your tweets. This tip was modified from one that
was passed on by Jill Konrath regarding LinkedIn, which is another
great place to include a misspelling.
For more beginner-focused information on getting started with Twitter
check out this article from CNET . For more advanced twitter tips visit
Finally, feel free to follow me on Twitter @sell_smarter.
More Great Twitter Tools:
Search.Twitter.com [Twitter Search]
Twhirl [Twitter Desktop Application]
TweetDeck [Twitter Desktop Application]
Note: The two desktop applications above are great once you get familiar
with Twitter and want a little more functionality/flexibility when viewing and
Developing A Social Networking Strategy
If you are serious about using social networking to increase your reach
and influence, it’s important to have a strategy for managing these
efforts. A strategy will increase your effectiveness and also reduce the
potential for information overload and productivity drain. Below are a
few things to consider when deciding on a plan that works for you.
Where to set up shop? First you need to decide which communities
you want to participate in, and chances are you already have a few
that you are active in. I highly recommend both Twitter and LinkedIn
for sales professionals, but you may want to consider others.
Facebook, with its over 200 Million users, is often overlooked as a
business tool, but it can be a huge source of traffic and reach if used
I have gone back and forth over the idea of using Facebook, which I
have always considered too personal for business use. Some recent
developments, though, have made having a business presence on
Facebook a lot more appropriate. Specifically, I am referring to the
launch of Facebook “Pages,” which are intended to allow businesses
and professionals an opportunity to connect and build relationships on
If you are interested in developing your business presence on
Facebook, you should visit WhyFacebook.com, a blog by Mari Smith,
who is the authority on the subject and coaches many high profile
sellers on using Facebook to increase sales.
Two things to keep in mind when it comes to using Facebook for
1. Your personal profile will still play a big part in your efforts, since
you cannot add friends with ‘Pages’ (they can only add you).
Be aware that your personal profile may need an overhaul to be
2. The terms of service for promoting business on Facebook are very
specific and strictly enforced. Make sure you read and understand
There may also be other communities where you want to get
involved, such as industry specific networks. The important thing to
remember is not to spread yourself too thin. You cannot possibly have
meaningful interactions on a dozen social networking sites; this would
degrade the quality of your involvement across the board.
You also need to be mindful of your time. The intent of this book is
to develop resource-friendly processes that will grow your business.
If you are spending too much time managing your social networking
activities, you are defeating the purpose.
Have a common purpose. Being active in 3-4 different communities
is a great way to network and gain tremendous exposure, but you
want to stay as consistent as possible. By consistent I mean the
objectives (not the activity) in each should be uniform.
While maintaining a common purpose, you also need to avoid
being redundant. Ideally you want each network to feed the others,
so having the same updates or posts on all of your networks is
An example of using multiple networks effectively might be using your
blog to post original, useful content while using Twitter to point users
to your blog, share news and participate in conversations. You can
use LinkedIn and Facebook both to network and to introduce users to
your work by pointing them to your Blog and Twitter accounts.
You should also post some of your best work (blog posts, articles,
etc.) to your Facebook and LinkedIn pages. This will help potential
“followers” understand what they can gain from networking with you.
Link them up. Each of the networks we’ve discussed has a place
for other links. Each of your networks should link to the others. Make
it easy for viewers of your Facebook profile to follow you on Twitter,
make sure your Twitter profile has a link to your blog, etc.
Choose a voice. Your blog may embody much more of your
personality than your LinkedIn profile, and is even more true of your
Twitter account. You want to stay consistent with your tone and
personality in each of these environments so that users who choose
to interact with you will have a familiar experience. That’s not to say
you can’t mix it up from time to time, but you should choose a primary
“voice” for each.
Note: Using the same photo for each community is a good idea
because it helps promote your personal brand. When people start
seeing you everywhere, they’ll stop and take notice.
Participate. Setting up profiles and occasionally updating content
are not enough to see the real benefits of social networking. You need
to be active in discussions, comment to others, pose questions and
On LinkedIn, for example, you can participate in the Answers area by
posing or answering questions. You can also be recognized for giving
quality answers and resources to others. On Facebook, you can join
groups. On Twitter, you can seek out others with common interests or
help someone solve a problem. The point is, without participation and
adding value, there’s not much point to establishing a social network.
Be mindful of your time. Initially you’ll spend a lot more time with these
tools - setting up your profiles, adding users and making minor tweaks
Plan time to
along the way - than you will eventually. You may also find yourself
overwhelmed with the amount of great information (on Twitter for
example). It’s OK, just know that until your networks gain critical mass,
you’ll still need to keep up with the outside world and your normal
Develop a plan. Once you get the hang of things and build your
network, it’s not necessary to spend more than 5-10 minutes a day on
each of your communities. Plan this time in your schedule and stick
to it. Social Networking does not usually bear immediate fruit, but the
long term benefits can be phenomenal.
What does the web
say about you?
Managing Your Online Reputation
As a sales professional, it’s highly likely that you spend a good deal
of time on the web (If you don’t, you should). What you might not
realize is the permanent footprint you leave behind. Because of the
proliferation of the web and the explosive growth of social media, the
amount of individual information available online might surprise you.
Want proof? Go to www.pipl.com and search for yourself.
Whether someone is actively looking for this information, or just
browsing and clicking links, people ARE seeing this information.
My suggestion, and the purpose of this section, is to scrub this
information and make sure that your professional reputation is
represented in the best possible way.
Not every prospect or potential employer is going to google you
or lookup your Facebook profile, but this is becoming increasingly
popular and it’s the first thing I do when I’m researching a contact. It’s
worth the time and effort to make sure you’re putting your best virtual
foot forward. Things that may seem trivial among your circle of friends
may not be as harmless to professional contacts.
This is especially true when it comes to things like politics, religious
beliefs, or that picture of you doing a keg stand at your family picnic.
Did you know?
Google is a verb.
Here are some tips to help you tidy up your online persona:
Start with Google
To start, google your name. Use quotations around your name in your
search so you will only get exact matches. Take note of anything in the
first 2 pages of results that you wouldn’t share with a first date. If you
have a common name, results that actually refer to you may not even
appear in the first few pages, which is fine.
Now, visit the links that you would like to remove from the search
results and look for ways to either hide or delete that information.
It may be a simple step, or it may involve deleting an account
from whatever site the information may reside on. It might also be
necessary to contact the site owner. In some cases (such as with
public records) you cannot remove the information, but you may be
able to push it off of the front page using some ideas I’ll share a little
Keep your professional and social lives separate.
You need to decide what level of distinction you want between social
networking and your business. If you’re trading jabs with friends,
ranting about the last movie you saw, or posting private pictures on
Myspace or Facebook, it’s probably best to keep business contacts
off your friends list.
If you decide that you want to use Facebook or similar sites for
business networking, make sure you clean up your profile so that
it is suitable for this purpose. You can also control what content is
available to your “friends” in the most popular online communities.
My suggestion is to start by using your favorite social network for
friends/family, and use a site such as LinkedIn for business contacts.
I prefer to keep them completely separate, though Facebook has
presented businesses with some compelling opportunities, as
discussed in the previous section.
It may also be useful to delete any outdated profiles. While your daily
social site might be up to date, you don’t want to forget about an old
profile from your college days that could come back to haunt you.
Another thing to keep in mind is the recent popularity of tagging
people in photos. Your name can be associated with a photo that
someone else posts, and you may not even be aware of it. Of course
most of us aren’t being caught in tabloid-worthy photos, but you need
to be cognizant of this.
Load up on the good stuff
Once you have sterilized your online presence, it’s time to make it
shine. Here are a few good ideas for increasing your online cred:
Make sure you have a complete LinkedIn profile. Ask colleagues
and clients for testimonials. A good LinkedIn profile should be as
complimentary as a well-written resume (and can be used as such).
If it’s available, buy www.yourname.com. You don’t have to put
anything there; you can simply redirect it to your LinkedIn profile or
something similar. The reason this is good to have is that search
engines will often place sites with the search term in the domain name
higher in the search results.
Have some useful information to share with the world? Have articles
published on sites like www.ezinearticles.com. Sites with large
amounts of traffic rank very high in search engine results.
Participate in online forums related to your industry, interests, or job
role. Not only can these sites be informative, they also do very well in
search engine results.
There are also services such as Reputation Defender that you can
use not only to monitor your reputation, but to help to clean it up and
make sure people are only seeing the things you want them to see.
As Bing Crosby said, you’ve got to accentuate the positive and
eliminate the negative. Your online persona is going to become
increasingly important in any profession, and it will benefit you to keep
these things in mind.
A complete and testimonial-rich LinkedIn profile is a must for
any sales professional.
Include a link to your profile in your email signature and invite
prospects to join your network.
Social networking is a way to build relationships, not to sell
Consider Twitter and Facebook as additional networking
Develop a specific strategy and don’t spread yourself too thin.
More Great Resources
Twitter Power: How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a Time
LinkedWorking: Generating Success on The World’s Largest Professional Networking Website [Book]
Note: If you’re looking for other books on the subjects presented in
this chapter, don’t buy anything published before mid-2008; too much
has changed since then.
How To Create And Deliver
A Great Sales Presentations
If you sell larger-ticket items or services, chances are you give sales
presentations. And chances are you’re doing it wrong. Here’s a quick
checklist to decide whether your sales presentation needs work (hint,
these are all bad);
Are your first slides full of company information?
Do you use the same slide deck for every presentation?
Are you guilty
Are your slides full of bullets?
Are your on-screen sentences more than 6-8 words?
Does any slide require more than 5 seconds of reading?
Do you spend time on demonstrations when a screen-shot
Most of us are guilty of a few (or all) of these things. It’s OK. You’re
doing things exactly the same way your competitors are. If your product/
pricing/reputation is superior enough, you may make an average
number of sales this way. If you want to provide greater value and a
vastly more enjoyable experience for your prospects, we should explore
some ways you can improve this process.
Your sales presentation should tell a detailed story of how your product/
service will improve life for those involved. Does the location of your
corporate office have any impact your audience? If it does, fine, but
ask yourself if every part of your presentation adds value. If it doesn’t,
ditch it. Does the number of years you’ve been in business matter?
Salesforce.com is one of the youngest companies in the CRM space,
yet it is probably the most respected.
My point is, get rid of the useless. It’s your job to understand what will
add value to your audience and to deliver nothing more. If you haven’t
had enough dialogue with the prospect to understand where the value
lies, reschedule the meeting. If your slides are full of information that is
easily found online or in your brochures, unplug the Internet and start
On the subject of useless, are there people from your company
involved in the meeting that don’t need to be? I have a competitor
who regularly brings 6-10 people to every presentation; all but 2 or 3
of them remain silent. It overwhelms the conference room and makes
the prospect wonder if your bulging travel budget is reflected in your
So how do we do things right? The next section will be broken into
two parts. The first will focus on the technical aspects of delivering
your presentation; the second will focus on what’s in the presentation.
Discovery vs. Presentation
Always treat discovery and presentation as two separate steps. The
first half of your presentation should not be spent asking questions to
determine how the second half will go. That should take plance in a
separate meeting involving the stakeholders to determine where the
value is. Again, if you haven’t done discovery, reschedule the meeting.
You also need to make sure that your team members understand this
and that they show up to the dance armed with the information you’ve
already gathered. Don’t make the prospect repeat themselves and
reset the foundation. It’s a waste of time and a cause for frustration.
Use an agenda
It doesn’t need to be on the slides or in the handouts (which you
never give until after the presentation, right?) but you need to set an
agenda and use it. This should be a set of objectives mutually agreed
upon by you and the prospect, and it should be addressed briefly at
the beginning of your presentation so that everyone knows what to
expect, and can suggest changes if needed.
To present last? Or first?
In a competitive selling environment, when you present (relative to the
other vendors) can be a major advantage.
Most sales professionals don’t think to suggest when they’d like to
present, so the chances that you will be able to pick your spot are
So when do you go? Personally, if during my discovery I have
uncovered that I have major, unique advantages and a powerful story
to tell, I like to go first to set the bar for the other presenters. If my
discovery has not uncovered many ways in which I have an advantage,
or if I feel like another presenter is in the lead, I like to go last. When
going last, I also like to make sure I show the prospect a few things
they haven’t seen before.
Be cautious: while going last has its advantages, you should be extra
careful to exclude unnecessary information and education points,
as the prospects are probably already fairly well informed and tired
of being in the conference room. Another advantage of going last is
that the audience will typically ask more questions and give you more
opportunity to show value. During the first presentation, they didn’t
know what to ask.
Finally, when presenting last you have a unique opportunity to
determine how you stack up against the competition. By simply asking,
“Considering all of the presentations you’ve seen, are there any areas
where you do not feel we are the best solution, or any capabilities that
we have not yet demonstrated?” You’re the only presenter with this
In Person vs. Virtual
There are times when meeting in person is more appropriate than
meeting virtually, and vice-versa. However, there are things to consider
for each situation which, although they may fall into the common
sense category, I will reiterate them just in case.
Establish a time to arrive which will allow you to properly setup,
grab a drink of water, test the Internet connection, etc. Don’t
assume the contact knows you will arrive early. Always get
a cell number for your contact - they are probably shuffling
around before you arrive.
In a conference room setting, avoid the “us vs. them” seating
arrangement. Get cozy. During discussion periods it should
feel like a roundtable discussion. It truly makes a difference as
far as the vibe in the room. You hope to be working closely
with these people; be a team.
Don’t speak from behind the audience while they look at the
screen. There shouldn’t be much there to look at anyway! You
are the mascot; let them see your enthusiasm (if you don’t
have enthusiasm for what you sell, check out our job boards).
The prospects’ eyes should focus on the screen for no more
No cards, no
than 5-10 seconds; the rest of the time they are witnessing
wisdom and value spewing from your happy face.
Don’t walk around handing out business cards one-by-one
while everyone is sitting down. This is just a pet peeve of
mine. You can do that at the end if needed, but business
cards are dead, in my opinion. You’re going to invite these
guys to join your LinkedIn network tomorrow anyway, aren’t
Some of us have a tendency to focus eye contact only on the
people they are familiar with. Don’t do that. Anyone in that
room can roadblock your sale. Spread the love.
Use a presentation clicker. Nothing screws up your
momentum like walking back to the laptop to change slides.
Good ones aren’t cheap, but they are worth it. Here are some
options. There are also some cool iPhone applications that
can be used to advance your PowerPoint slides from your
phone (sure to impress the IT folks in the room).
Send the virtual conference details when you set the meeting,
not the day before/of the meeting. Your contact wants to get
people scheduled before calendars fill up. Don’t make them
send an update when you get around to setting up the virtual
Ask the prospect to test out the virtual conference tool in advance,
even if it’s one they use regularly - these programs are
Ask the prospect to arrive a few minutes early so you can
work through any technical issues without eating into your
If there are more than 5-6 people on the prospects’ side, don’t
ask for introductions - it can be awkward. Instead, find out
who is coming in advance and acknowledge them. You should
get an attendee list in advance regardless.
When introducing your team, give each members title and
explain why you have asked them to join. Having your team
introduce themselves can also be awkward; just pause briefly
for each to say hello if you are more comfortable with that.
Each member of your team should be accustomed to stating
their name before they speak if there are more than 2-3 of
them. Otherwise, the prospect can be confused as to who is
talking. Though you can tell their voices apart, your prospect
Invite prospects to use the chat box for questions so that
they don’t forget them while you are talking. Make sure
someone is watching the chat window.
Use a headset. One benefit is that you have your hands free
to run the presentation. The other (and maybe this is just me)
is that the cord keeps you from wandering away. I used to
have a bad habit of this, and I would have to trek back to my
computer (sometimes rooms away) to change the slide. I still
use a fairly long cord.
No breaks in virtual meetings. It’s just too difficult to manage.
If someone needs to get up, they’ll do it. If your meeting
is long enough to require breaks, have it in person (and
consider shortening it - studies show most people’s attention
span lasts about 15-20 minutes, especially executives).
OK, so now we’ve laid the groundwork for a professional, well
conducted meeting. Before we move on to the presentation itself,
here are a few more tips to keep in mind.
1. Practice your presentation. Because every presentation should
be mostly unique based on the prospect’s situation, these
should not be canned presentations that you can give with no
preparation. Every time I give a presentation, it is the first time
I have given it. As such, it’s important to run through it once
to yourself. Do it out loud. When you goof up, start from the
beginning. By the end you’ll be so comfortable with the delivery
that it will flow with ease on game day.
in the room.
2. Print your slides 6 to a page and keep them handy. I find it useful
to know what slide is coming next so that I can make an intelligent
transition. Otherwise it almost seems as if you’re just seeing the
slide for the first time yourself as you gather your thoughts.
3. Kindly reject RSVP’s. If there are people from the prospects’ side
that won’t get any value out of the meeting, let them know and
suggest setting up a separate meeting. This happens often with IT
people who are brought into meetings unnecessarily. Why are they
invited? Because your competition gives the dog-and-pony that
includes every piece of irrelevant information that can be fit on a
slide. You tell a story about a brighter day for their business, only
touching on technicalities if needed.
4. If you are not fully comfortable with speaking to groups, join a local
Toast Masters group, or volunteer to give internal presentations
to your company. Practice is the only way to get over this hurdle
(which is especially common among folks who transition from
inside sales). Anyone who tells you to just “picture them naked”,
hasn’t spoken in public.
On to the presentation...
99% of slides
Slides. Slides. Slides.
Even if you are excellent at solution selling and gaining buy-in from
power, at some point you are probably going to have to put together a
slide deck to educate a group on the value of your product or service.
In a perfect world, slides wouldn’t exist. A presentation would just be
you, your prospect and your ideas. But the client is going to want to
see the solution in action, and slide presentations or virtual demos are
the ways they are used to doing so.
Believe it or not, this is the area where most salespeople come
up WAY short. Not everyone is great in front of an audience. Not
everyone has the polished look or charisma of a news anchor. These
things do not need to be disadvantages. Everyone can, however,
structure a meaningful presentation, devoid of any fluff and full of
value. To do otherwise, while unfortunately common, is to lose a great
There’s a common phrase involving PowerPoint and “death,” which
I dislike so much that I can’t bring myself to string it together here (I
am allergic to cliches). But the fact is, most slide presentations bore
the snot out of a large portion of your audience. Half of them are
there because they were told to be and would rather be doing just
about anything else. They expect boring slide after boring slide. If you
give them any reason to think your presentation is the same (bullets
Less is more.
anyone?), you’ll lose that group immediately. The other half will suffer
through the typical presentation because regardless of your lousy
slides, they need to solve a problem or harness an opportunity.
Here is a quick formula for a good slide deck;
Less fluff (transitions,
More focus on the presenter
and their ideas
This is quite a bit different from what most of us are familiar with. Your
company probably breaks all of these rules. Every presentation you’ve
ever seen probably breaks all of these rules. That doesn’t make it OK.
If all you have to offer is bullets and drawn out text, what use are you
as a presenter? A document would suffice just fine.
Your value is your expertise and your ideas. As soon as you put them
in a slide, they are no longer your ideas (in the prospect’s mind). They
could have come from anywhere. There is no enthusiasm or emotion
in words on a screen. A slide should be a representation of an idea;
the good stuff should be coming out of your mouth.
You can read. So what?! Nobody wants to be read to. Never repeat
the information on the screen verbatim (or even close). It’s just dumb
and I don’t think I need to explain why.
They audience can read too. And they will. Text on the screen should
not take more than 5 seconds to read. If they spend more time than
that reading, they are not paying attention to you. Seth Godin, one of
my favorite idea people, has said in his articles and books that you
should never use more than 6 words on a slide. I tend to agree, but
I understand this will be too dramatic a change until you get used to
presenting in a different way. When you get good at it, you’ll begin to
see the beauty of this and you can shoot for the 6 word mark. There
are exceptions to this rule, such as in the case of a quote, but they are
See the images to your left for an example of old thinking vs. new. In the
first example, not a single item on that list is going to resonate. It’s all
stats and every vendor who has walked through that door has had
them. In the second example, you reference emotion and then YOU tell
the prospect about why your customer experience is so extraordinary.
Now, if you adopt this idea (which I hope you do), you may be inclined
to use more slides. Don’t. In fact, if done properly, you can probably
give your whole presentation using just 5-6 slides. How different would
that be from the 42 slide presentation your prospect just sat through?
Text is for
If you still find yourself left with bullets, consider giving each item a
separate slide. Then, decide if an image or diagram can properly
relay the message. If it is really important enough to leave in the
presentation, give it the attention it deserves.
A picture is worth how many words? Use one whenever possible
to accent your point. A well-thought-out diagram is just as good.
When using diagrams, make sure they are not cluttered or tough to
understand. When choosing pictures, get good quality stock photos
from istockphoto.com or stock.xchng. Do not use the lousy clip
art provided with PowerPoint. It’s worth noting, though, that Office
2007 does have some very well formatted “Smart Art” for creating
diagrams. Another great (free) resource is my.lovelycharts.com. You
can read more about Lovely Charts here.
Every slide in your presentation should tell a story about how the
prospect’s life will be better with your solution. All of them. You can
use things like similar case studies, prospect-specific samples, or
samples of previous work.
One thing that every presentation should also include is new ideas,
things that your solution can help with that your prospect had not
yet considered. This could mean simplifying a process, eliminating
redundant solutions, impacting a separate business unit or simply
doing something better than was expected. We’ve all had those
moments when the audience starts nodding in agreement and talking
amongst themselves. These are the moments you should aim for.
As I mentioned, I build every presentation from scratch. I determine
what I need to display to accentuate my message, and in what order.
Then I go about creating my slides and putting them together. Make
sure your progression of slides is logical. You wouldn’t believe how
many presentations are put together like Frankenstein’s Monster.
I save all of my slides and add concepts that I may want to use
later in a sort of master file which I call my buffet. Later, after I have
conceptualized the presentation, I go through the buffet and look
for slides with similar ideas that I can re-purpose. This saves me
a lot of time, and I often come up with better ideas for the current
presentation after browsing previous ones.
Your company may have standard branding guidelines, or even
templates for presentations. If they are trash, say so. A poorly designed
template can distract your audience or give an amateurish impression.
In addition, there may be extra information on those slides that doesn’t
need to be there. Is the prospect really going to forget which company is
presenting to them and need to be reminded with a logo on every slide?
Don’t be afraid of white space. Some people feel the need to fill every
inch of the screen with something. This is not necessary: white space
can dramatically enhance the aesthetics of your presentation.
There are many other concepts to consider in design such as
alignment and consistency across pages, but we’re not trying to
turn you into a graphic artist. For more excellent information on slide
design, I highly recommend a book called Presentation Zen by Garr
Another awesome design tool, which is discussed in detail in the
Additional Tools chapter, is SlideRocket. It is an easy, online alternative
to PowerPoint that creates stunning slide presentations. Your
prospects will thank you for varying from the garish slides they are
While there is a lot more that could be said on this subject, and I could
probably write an entire book on it (I might), I hope I have given you
enough information that you might be able to modify some of your
current practices and make the presentation process better for all
Be prepared and conduct thorough discovery
Eliminate the useless
Plan for your environment (in-person vs. virtual)
Give the audience less to read
Bring the focus back to the presenter
Use images and diagrams to relay ideas
Focus on the prospect and how specifically you will help
Cut WAY back on bullets and text
Use a professional and well-designed template
More Great Resources
Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery Garr Reynolds [Book]
How to Win a Pitch: The Five Fundamentals That Will Distinguish You
From the Competition [Book, preorder]
Quick Tips: Meetings
Never demonstrate a product; present a solution. Technical
demonstrations should account for no more than 30% of your
allotted time unless they clearly show how your solution will
meet the exact needs of the client.
Open-ended agendas show a lack of preparation. Stick to a
well composed agenda and encourage conversation. Provide
adequate structure to ensure that you will cover the most
important items on your agenda.
Never leave a meeting without knowing the name and role of
everyone in the room. The one person you do not introduce
yourself to may be crucial in securing the deal.
If someone you have never met will be attending a meeting,
do not schedule a virtual conference. You have only one
opportunity to make a first impression and an in-person
meeting is by far more effective than a virtual meeting.
Match power with power. If a business decision warrants the
prospect’s CEO’s presence, it might warrant yours as well.
Don’t let your sales engineer or product manager sidetrack your
meeting. They most often don’t understand the direction you
have intended for the dialogue and if allowed, they will spend
time on features and benefits that are important to them and
not to the client. Have this discussion before the meeting.
Whenever possible, demonstrate your understanding of the
prospects’ needs. Your demo should tell the story of exactly
how the needs will be addressed. You will be surprised
by how many of your competitors fail to do this, and the
feedback will be immediate.
One of the most valuable pieces of information you can
provide to a wide-eyed board room is how a similar company
is meeting the same challenges using your product or service.
Decision-makers crave real world applications, especially if
one that involves one of their competitors. This is also a great
way to resurrect a dead audience.
If you bring your superiors into a first meeting for no reason,
you are giving up power. The prospect will either see you
as incapable of meeting their needs or they will prefer to
communicate with your superiors.
Creating A Defined Short-List Process
Note: Readers who engage in highly competitive sales processes,
especially those involving RFP’s, will gain the most from this chapter,
though the ideas presented have value for all sales professionals.
For example, if freelancers using eLance to win business were to use
these methods, their sales would increase dramatically.
So far, you’ve learned new ways to increase your credibility, develop
more opportunities and give a stellar presentation. Now that you’ve
made the short-list, you have an incredible opportunity to block out
your competition if you develop and execute a defined, repeatable
process for engagement during the final stages of the selection
Traditional wisdom suggests that sophisticated buyers have already
made a selection at this stage of the process, especially when
working with RFP’s. I don’t fully buy into this theory. I think a short-list
vendor has at least a 25% percent chance of winning the business,
regardless of predisposition, when using the techniques discussed
in this chapter. 25% is not staggering, but compared to the 3-5%
chance most experts suggest, it’s quite a leap.
Further, I think that sales professionals who execute this process
skillfully can raise this percentage to 50% or higher. Since
implementing these practices in the second half of 2008, considering
only opportunities in which I was not the first person in the deal or
“blind” RFP’s, my success rate (executed contracts) has been 80%,
totaling over $1.3M in contract value.
During a sales conference in January (2009), I attended a seminar in
which the speaker again cited that you only have a 3-5% chance of
winning an RFP when you are not the first vendor in the deal. He also
suggested that you either change the game (engage in dialogue with
the buyer and insert inherent advantages and differentiators into the
evaluation criteria) or decline to participate in the RFP. I exchanged
some notes on a napkin with my boss suggesting that we had won 4
of 5 mostly blind RFP’s in the past 6 months, and I decided to further
define and enhance my short list process. I knew that with an easily
repeatable process, we could still capture revenue from these types of
buying scenarios without expending too much in the way of resources
(outside of the drafting of the responses and a few conference calls).
The challenge I was attempting to address when I started
experimenting with this process was a typical one. You make the
short list, the buyer goes mostly quiet, and you check in from time to
time and essentially sit on your hands until a decision is announced.
I wanted to develop a way to increase prospect engagement during
this stage of the sales cycle, and to figure out things that would set
me apart from my competition and increase my chances of winning.
The final process will look different for everyone. Here is an example of
what it might look like (I have omitted timeframe from this example):
Short List Notification
Send Thank you and Sequence of Events
Begin drip campaign of testimonials from similar clients
Begin drip campaign of relevant white-papers
Invite additional contacts to join your network on LinkedIn
Begin “ownership” phase
Schedule scoping call with IT Resources
Schedule Implementation Overview Call
Send Commitment Letter from Executive
Send detailed information regarding what the buyer can expect
after the sale, including sample project plan
Continue to revise sequence of events with buyer input
This is very close to the process I used to achieve the 80% win-rate
I mentioned. Every item on this list has a purpose, but the real intent
is to engage the prospect in ways that your competition does not, to
reduce the perceived risk of your solution (risk concern is at its highest
point during this part of the sales process) by sending testimonials
and white-papers, and to begin to transfer ownership to the buyer by
introducing key players and resources which are typically held until
after the selection.
With the exception of the scheduled calls/meetings, these items are
resource friendly and easy to implement. You can even use a template
for several of the items. Some may consider this to be throwing
money at a long-shot sale, but I consider it hedging my bets. The sale
has cost us money up to this point, so why not spend a little more
and dramatically increase our chances of winning? Many people may
disagree with me on this subject, but these methods work.
You can dramatically increase your chances of winning
competitive opportunities by developing a repeatable short-list
Your primary goal during this process is to eliminate fear and
transfer ownership of the solution.
Ask yourself, what can you do during the decision phase to
provide more value and demonstrate professionalism in ways that
your competition does not?
Additional Tools and Resources
On the following pages you will find some of my hand-picked favorite
resources for sales professionals. Every tool listed in this chapter
is highly recommended and has increased my productivity or sales
performance in some way.
I am constantly looking for new tools to share with my readers. If you
feel that something is missing or have a suggestion for another tool
that I can include in an update, please let me know!
Every tool here is also free, or has a free trial - usually with very limited
restrictions. Free as they may be, these are some of the coolest tools
discussed in this book!
Ease Of Use: Intermediate
Free Trial: Yes
Cost: Free (Basic), $10/mo (Individual),
Visually appealing presentations
Great template and imagery options
Quote search tool
Conduct meetings from website
SlideRocket is one of those tools I’ve been hoping would come
around for a long time. It is an online tool for creating and delivering
presentations. In that sense, it’s similar to PowerPoint, but that’s about
where the similarity stops.
Whereas common PowerPoint presentations can be spotted by
their drab appearance, endless bullets and clip-art, SlideRocket
presentations can be identified by their stunning graphics, modern
elements and focus on ideas vs. information.
Purpose: Chart/Diagram Creation
Ease Of Use: Beginner
Free Trial: Yes
Export to Presentation Software
Easy to use
Easy to customize
If you’ve ever tried to build a chart or diagram in Word or Excel,
you know the process can be cumbersome and the results leave
something to be desired. LovelyCharts takes all of the hassle out of
creating elegant and logical charts & diagrams. It’s also super easy to
use and it’s free.
“Diagrams are great, because they are a very simple and extremely
efficient way to intelligibly represent even the most complex ideas. But
drawing diagrams can also be very complicated, simply because most
diagramming software require you to draw. Lovely Charts’ motto is
“You think, we draw!” - Lovelycharts.com [sic]
Purpose: Find Contacts/Prospects
Ease Of Use: Beginner
Free Trial: Yes
Cost: Plans Vary by Activity
Find exactly the contact you need
11.9M Contacts from 2.2M Companies
Earn credits for adding contact info
Easy to use
Most popular online contact database
Jigsaw is the most popular place online to get and share contact
information. It’s become very popular because of it’s ease of use,
completeness, accuracy of data, and the free information they
“Jigsaw is more than a go-to place for those looking to conduct
vibrant, efficient and successful B2B campaigns. We’re also
a global community of 700,000 members who contribute to,
maintain and constantly update our vast database of millions of
Jigsaw also offers powerful tools that enable you to make robust
searches, build targeted lists and better promote your website...
for free! Dynamic features like Free Company Data, Company
Wiki and Research Tab let you quickly dig deeper to secure those
hard-to-reach contacts, mount effective campaigns and conduct
business with greater ease, efficiency and success.” -Jigsaw.com
Purpose: Connect and share ideas
with other Sales Professionals
Ease Of Use: Beginner
Free Trial: Yes
Cost: Always Free
Free to use
Network and share ideas with salesprofessionals from around the globe.
Searchable Knowledge Base
New users join daily
Learn from the experts
Sales Success Forums
The Sales Success Forums are an online discussion tool hosted
by ThePassivePipeline.com. Discussions range from topics like
prospecting, RFP creation, to presentations, closing and more.
It’s always free to use and interact with other Sales Pros from around
the world. Get feedback on your sales copy or pitch, fine tune a
presentation, or simply get advice from others on any variety of topics.
Click here to visit the forums and create your profile.
Purpose: Company & Contact Information
Ease Of Use: Beginner
Free Trial: Yes
Cost: Free for basic search
Easy access to information sourced
from all over the web.
See updated news stories/press
See key contact information
See detailed contact information (paid
Zoominfo takes the hassle out of finding detailed company profile
information and building lists. It is not as comprehensive as some of
the paid services (Hoovers, OneSource), but it’s free.
“You spend hours researching and making cold calls to find the right
person within the company you’re targeting. Every minute spent
making fruitless phone calls is a minute lost in closing deals and
making money. Maybe you need to connect with the head of human
resources, or the engineering manager or the vice president of IT.
Whoever it is, whatever their title, access to the right person - their
name, their phone number, their email address - opens the door for
you. “ - Zoominfo.com
Purpose: Blog Authoring
Ease Of Use: Beginner
Free Trial: Yes
Easily Add Photos/Video
Preview Your Posts
Create great looking posts
Microsoft Live Writer
Microsoft Live Writer is a free and incredibly easy to use tool for writing
blog posts. It works with most popular blogging platforms and allows
you to create great looking blog posts, to preview them before you
publish and to send them directly to your blog. I highly recommend
this tool to anyone who manages a blog.
Purpose: Task Management
Ease Of Use: Beginner
Free Trial: Yes
Web/PC/Mobile based - use it anywhere
Intuitive grouping and priority labeling
Exceptionally easy to use and update
Flexible sorting and filtering
Add Tasks Via Email
Take a tour here.
Remember The Milk
If you’re like me, you’ve tried several different tools to keep yourself
on task over the years. I’ve tried everything from PDA’s to Outlook to
Notepads and just about everything else. It always goes OK for a few
days, and that’s it. Sound familiar? Finally I found a task management
software that works for me because it was built intelligently, based on
the Get Things Done (GTD) model developed by David Allen.
Remember The Milk is intuitive, easy to use, portable and
engaging - meaning it emails you daily task lists which can help
remind you to use it while you’re adjusting to the new process.
Purpose: Business Books
Ease Of Use: Beginner
Free Trial: Yes
Cost: Varies by subscription type
Digest dozens of books in the time it
takes to read one.
Evlaute the book before you buy
PDF/Mobile and Audio Formats
All the latest titles and bestseller
Try it free
Did you ever read CliffsNotes when you were in school? GetAbstract
is the business equivelant to CliffsNotes - offering summaries and
the key points of thousands of business books as PDF or Audio files.
Their team of editors does a fantastic job of grasping and relaying the
concepts of hundreds of books each month. You can download a few
abstracts for free using the link on the left.
Purpose: Outlook Enhancement
Ease Of Use: Beginner
Free Trial: Yes
Faster, more comprehensive search
Detailed user information
LinkedIn and Facebook integration
Email history with user by conversation
History of files exchanged between you
and the user
Ability to schedule time with the user
based on your calendar openings
Hoovers company profile information
Contacts you have in common with the
An overall better, more efficient Outlook
Xobni (“Inbox” backwards) is a free
tool for Microsoft Outlook 2003/2007
which offers a very compelling set of
features for Sales Professionals. These
features come in three main areas:
organization, relationship building, and
productivity. In a year when experts
predict the average adult will spend
41% of their work time managing email,
any increase in productivity is highly
Overall it’s a great tool (see all the
features on the left), it’s free, and even
aside from the extra features, it makes
your email history much easier to deal
Ease Of Use: Beginner
Free Trial: Yes
Cost: Varies by use
See who is accessing your site
See what content they are veiwing
See company profile information from
Automated email notification
View the keywords they used to find
LeadLander is a very cool utility that allows you to see what
businesses visit your website and which specific pages they visit. This
is a fantastic opportunity to find warm prospects and identify their
Salespeople can identify their own territory in the settings, and
LeadLander can also send automated emails in real time as the
prospects visit your site. Powerful stuff.
Note: There is a script that must be placed at the bottom of your web pages in
order to use this product. You will likely need to talk to your webmaster to follow the
instructions which are sent when you start the trial.
Purpose: RSS Reader
Ease Of Use: Beginner
Free Trial: Yes
Manage all of your blog feeds in one
Discover New Feeds
Much quicker than visiting each blog
Include Google Alerts to monitor search
Google Reader is the preferred reader for reading and managing
RSS Subscriptions. By using RSS you can keep current on all of your
favorite blogs, search results and more. It’s a free tool from the folks at
Google Reader Labs.
Purpose: Market Intelligence
Ease Of Use: Beginner
Free Trial: Yes
Google Alerts is one of the most powerful single tools on the internet
for sales professionals. It’s also probably the easiest to use, and it’s
It works very much like a traditional Google Search, except the results
are delivered to you automatically via email, and you are continually
updated whenever there are new additions to the web that match
your criteria. Instead of thousands or millions of search results, Google
will provide you with links to only the latest articles, blog entries and
websites containing the search terms you specify.
Because of the algorithms that search engines use to rank search
results, newer articles and blog entries would very rarely make it to the
top of conventional search results for quite a while. This makes it very
hard to stay in tune with what’s happening now.
I’ll give you an example of how I use Google Alerts to illustrate why
this is important:
I have Google Alerts set up to search for entries containing my
industry and the term “RFP”. A big portion of my company’s business
involves formal bid processes. Any time those two phrases appear on
a website or article, Google tells me about it.
If I were to simply do a Google search for those terms, the first dozen
or so pages of results would be either companies that I compete with
or results that are very old. The results are indirectly skewed by age,
so the first fifty thousand may be from more than a year ago. By using
Alerts, which will only deliver new entries, I am able to find these new
opportunities without sorting through thousands of pages of search
results. If I waited for these RFP’s to appear in search results, they
would already be awarded and I would have to re-run this search
Not all of the results that are emailed to you will be relevant, but the
ones that are will have great value. Once a week on average I find a
prospect who is issuing an RFP for my product that no one on our
sales team knew about previously. This week alone a single Alert has
added over $400,000 to my company’s pipeline. It would take an
entire staff of researchers to find this kind of data manually.
Let’s say that you participate in 12 formal bids per year (this could be
quite low depending on your industry). Let’s also assume that ½ of
your business comes from formal bid processes. This means that you
participate in 24 projects per year or an average of 2 per month. If by
using Google Alerts you uncover only one additional opportunity every
2 months, you have increased your pipeline by 25% annually, with 5
minutes of work.
This is a great example of the essence of the a passive pipeline. By
working more efficiently and using the tools that the advances in
technology have made available to us, we can be more productive than
anyone before us; more importantly, we can be more effective than our
That’s just one example of how you could use Google Alerts. Here are
a few others:
Find out what is going on with your competition today. Find
out what the web community is saying about them. Read
their press releases and case studies. Know just as much
about your competition as they know about themselves.
Your Best Clients
Discover what’s new with your clients. Be aware of mergers,
acquisitions and key personnel changes. Uncover new ways
to help your clients succeed before they think to ask.
Industry News & Events
Tying it all Together
As I’ve alluded to several times in this book, the real power of the
Passive Pipeline is realized when all of the techniques we’ve covered
are used simultaneously. Each additional tool that you use increases
the effectiveness of the others.
Clean data results in more efficient and effective marketing.
Effective marketing increases the efficiency with which you
Targeted messages increase your CUE and, in turn, your
ability to win business.
Your email signature showcases your testimonials.
Your blog articles position you as a thought leader.
Reprints of your articles increase your reach.
Your increased reach ensures you will be more likely to enter
a deal first.
Early entry ensures you will have the ability to manage the
Your CUE and endorsements make your prospects
comfortable with your managing the buying process.
Your new efficiencies allow you to spend more time focusing
on winning business.
Winning more business allows you to focus on deals in which
you have a high probability of winning.
Winning more business yields more testimonials.
Your testimonials foster new relationships in which you are
seen as a trusted advisor.
Your blog, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles constantly build your
contact list, which in turn feeds your email marketing, which
starts the cycle over again.
You’re reaching people through multiple means which operate on one
common basis: efficiency. Not only are you reaching more people than
ever before, your CUE is being constantly increased and promoted,
allowing you to enter business engagements with an absolute upper
In the time you would spend making just one “real” connection, you
now have the opportunity to reach hundreds. While your previous
methods all but assured that you would spend the rest of that
relationship trying to prove your worth, you are now working with
prospects who are glad to be working with you.
Now let’s look at a summary of the steps involved in achieving
Clean your data.
Create smart queries.
Execute a solid email marketing plan.
Update your blog a few times a week with new content.
Participate in Social Networks to gain visibility, credibility and
Spend a few hours per week building, tuning and participating
in your social communities.
It really is that simple. Work intelligently, plant the seeds and
your Passive Pipeline will continue to bear fruit endlessly.
Putting A Plan Into Action
This section will provide you with a basic roadmap for implementing
your Passive Pipeline. While we’ve been discussing these techniques
for nearly 200 pages now, it really just comes down to execution. With
each little stone you turn over, you’ll start to see immediate benefits
and motivation to keep moving forward.
I do not know what line of work you are in and I do not know which
aspects of this book will be most useful to you. For those reasons, I
have not included timeframes or tremendous detail in this roadmap.
You can refer back to each chapter as you put your own plan
Here are my standard recommendations:
1. Create a plan. Determine which techniques discussed in this
book suit you best and over what length of time it is realistic for
you to implement them.
2. Settle on a CRM system (either the one you have, or a new one).
3. Clean your data. Make sure you have all the fields you need to
properly segment your market.
4. Create your queries. You should have one query for every story
you have to tell.
5. Choose an email platform. The ability to track who opens your email
and which links they click is paramount. Do not take this for granted.
6. Create your email templates. One or two templates for now is
fine. As you begin to send more targeted campaigns you can
7. Import your email lists from your CRM.
8. Create a blog.
9. Write your first posts and create a schedule for updating.
10. Spread the word about your blog using the techniques
11. Build a complete LinkedIn profile. A complete profile
12. Add all former contacts whom you feel would be useful
13. Add your LinkedIn profile button to your blog.
14. Include links in your email campaigns to your blog articles that
are specifically useful to the exact recipients you are sending the
15. Follow each campaign with an analysis of opens and clicks.
16. Grow your professional network. Add new contacts and regularly
search for previous contacts that have recently joined LinkedIn.
17. Look for new and creative ways to promote your work, build
relationships and increase your reach.
18. Rinse, repeat.
Once you have conditioned yourself to leverage technology and a
new way of approaching opportunities, you will enable yourself to
continuously innovate. This is a quality that I hope I have helped to
foster in your professional sales career. It is my goal that as a student
of this book, you will uncover new and exciting ways to increase your
reach and your CUE before I even have a chance to revise this book.
The tools and techniques we have covered will not remain privileged
information forever. In fact, in some circles they are already
commonplace. The key is learning to adapt and to position yourself
to take advantage of new opportunities for greatness as they are
Some of these techniques will be more fun than others, but one
promise I will make is that the payoff will be far greater than what
you will get by continuing to do the things that aren’t yielding results
today. The business world is moving exponentially faster than at any
other time in history. As a profession, we have failed to match that
pace. But we have a tremendous opportunity in front of us, and I
hope you will choose to take advantage of it.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.