Salesperson’s Best Friend

Dog Holding PhoneActually speaking to sales leads is as important today as it was 30 years ago, or even 300 years ago for that matter. Humans have an innate, timeless desire to interact with each other on a personal basis, whether it’s to talk sports at a bar or buy an appliance at a retail store. Over the last several years there’s been much discussion about whether technology is bringing society together or pushing people apart. There’s truth to both sides, especially in sales. Technology has created new channels for companies to sell their products in, and innovative ways to market those products, but it’s also created a phenomena in which salespeople feel more comfortable relying on texts, emails, and social media instead of having an actual conversation with a prospect.

The Funnel Frenzy
“Top of the funnel” marketing approaches have become increasingly popular in the digital age. Companies strive to create the ultimate “lead magnet” – a white paper, newsletter, social media campaign, etc. – that will allow them to build a large email distribution list with which they’ll begin the “nurturing process” of turning list members into “sales-ready” prospects. Many of these approaches have been successful across a variety of different industries, but in S2L’s view they could work even better if a phone-based initial contact and follow-up approach was integrated. Such a tactic could also lead to a potentially much shorter sales cycle, and a more personal one at that.

There’ nothing wrong with a company getting creative in its approach to attracting customers, and today’s technology affords plenty of opportunities to become a trendsetter via a new, effective campaign. But when businesses become too enamored with the marketing automation process for collecting email addresses and executing “nurturing” campaigns, there’s a chance that they could neglect to actually “call” the lead – which is a practice that has proven effective since the advent of the telephone. Of course, not all businesses need to speak with a lead in order to be successful. I can buy shoes from Zappos without a phone call. I can buy a garden hose from Amazon without speaking with anyone. But tens of thousands of products and services, especially those that require consideration because of a high price tag or complexity, would benefit from a conversation in order to determine whether both parties are a good fit, move the sale forward, and grow the relationship for future business beyond the first sale.

Fundamental Things Apply
Here’s a no-doubter: sales is a conversation. A conversation between two or more people on the phone, at dinner, in a conference room. However, sometimes this fact takes a backseat to technology, with sales and marketing teams perhaps becoming too enamored with the tech side. Sure, the best marketing campaigns/technological innovations can help a product sell itself, but more often than not, person-to-person sales can make all the difference. You want to avoid falling into the trap of thinking, “When the prospect is ready to talk, they’ll call me. I mean, why else would they fill out the form on our landing page instead of calling the phone number included?” Likewise, if you work in a retail store you don’t want to avoid approaching a customer because “She’ll come to me when she needs help or is ready to buy.” Confidence is a salesperson’s greatest asset, but it can also be their greatest weakness, especially where technology is concerned. Rare is the product that simply sells itself. If the opposite were true, there would be no need for salespeople in the first place.

When evaluating just how important it is to contact leads by the phone and initiate a good ol’ fashioned conversation, the numbers don’t lie:

– 12% of all leads receive no follow-up of any kind
– 33% of all leads receive an email, but no phone call
– 40% of all leads waited more than a week to receive a phone call or email
– 80% of all leads received too few calls

These percentages are based on total expenditures of $118B last year by companies worldwide seeking to generate internet leads, plus another $18B on CRMs to manage those leads. Clearly the investment wasn’t worth it, because many people neglected a key step in the sales process: picking up the phone.

Your Phone is Your Best Friend
In a sense, one of technology’s biggest “traps” is that it can cause us to put the cart before the horse.  What I mean by this is that instead of employing fancy nurturing campaigns via marketing automation to try and move leads through the funnel to become “sales ready”, why not call your prospects first and qualify them in your system, or simply close them immediately?  And for those that aren’t ready to buy, use technology to automate relevant nurturing campaigns, increase loyalty, and capitalize on future sales opportunities.  I understand there are some businesses, particularly of the midsize and enterprise variety, that are lucky enough to have too many leads and thus use lead-scoring to call only those leads that are most sales-ready. However, there are far more companies in the opposite camp, always seeking more leads. These are the companies that should embrace the philosophy outlined above.

Technology has proven very useful in the sales and marketing world, but that doesn’t mean it should automatically be viewed as the death knell for the telephone. Quite the opposite. The technology exists because long ago, some brave sales souls picked up the phone, closed deals, built relationships, and made the money that bought the technology.

Sales is a conversation. And the phone enables conversations better than any new technology currently available.

Let Your Talking Do the Walking

Let your talking do the walking

Let your talking do the walking

Though it may seem like several lifetimes ago, it hasn’t been that long since the Yellow Pages was our only answer to “Googling” a desired product or service.  The Yellow Pages had a great slogan: “Let your fingers do the walking”.  But thanks to enhanced processing power, improved voice recognition technology, and ever more refined speech-to-text accuracy, I think we’ve finally reached the point where we have the option to accomplish most of our desired tasks with our voices instead of our fingers.

From a consumer product perspective, one great example of how far we’ve come is Alexa, Amazon’s sublime virtual assistant. As an integral part of Echo, Amazon’s uber-popular voice-controlled home device, Alexa can order a pizza, tell you about the weather, turn off the lights, and remind you to take the trash out.  And unlike some voice-recognition technology (ahem, Xbox Kinect), Alexa actually understands what you’re saying.

In Speak2Leads’ more specialized domain, where we cater to sales representatives who make their living on the phone, advancements in interactive voice response (IVR) and voice recognition engines represent a major breakthrough.  We’ve begun integrating this technology into our service offer, and soon our clients, in addition to speaking with prospects and customers on the phone, will be able to conveniently use their voice to record call notes, create tasks, set follow-up appointments, and launch nurturing campaigns.

The upside will be tremendous.  For example, how about when you’re driving.   You just finished a productive call with a hot prospect, and instead of having to pull over and log your call notes or summarize a great follow-up sales approach, you can just talk and let S2L’s transcription engine covert your speech to text and then post it in note form directly to your CRM.

Also, whether in the field or in the office, most salespeople will tell you that the least favorite part of their job (besides expense reports) is logging into their CRM (or sticky notes, email, standard Excel document –whatever you prefer) to make notes, create tasks, set follow-ups, etc.  But regardless of the method you use, the key is to find a way to optimize workday efficiency – and that’s exactly what S2L’s voice recognition software will help you do.

What’s most important is that you consistently keep your promises to prospects and clients, and that you persistently follow-up on leads and maximize your meaningful daily conversations.  Disenchantment with your CRM (or whatever database you use) can take you to a place where over time, the tasks begin to pile up to the point that you resent their very existence – and pretty soon you start ignoring them altogether. S2L’s voice recognition software is the cure for this type of sales-related malaise.

Our new features will enable sales reps to use their voice to record call notes as soon as the prospect hangs up.  The notes are then transcribed within minutes (by machine) and posted to your CRM.  You’ll also be able to use your voice to schedule a follow-up call on a specific day and time – and on that day and time, you’ll get a call prompting you to “press or say 2” to call your prospect.  If you can’t remember who they are or what you last talked about, no worries – just listen to your call notes before saying 2.

If you’re stuck in a meeting and can’t make the call, you’ll have the option to press 4 (you could “say 4”, but we don’t want you to get in trouble) and “snooze” it for however long you prefer.  When you’re  ready to answer the call again, just say 2 and connect the call, and your CRM will automatically update itself with a completed task that you’ve called the prospect.  And if it turns out the prospect doesn’t answer, another follow-up task will be automatically created so that you don’t forget about this important contact.

These are two of many examples of how S2L has evolved beyond lead response and is now supporting the “post-conversation” aspects of selling in order to boost efficiency and closing rate.

This new voice recognition technology will dovetail nicely with our other innovative, recently-released features, all designed to make a salesperson’s job more efficient and more profitable.  For instance, did you know that our automated lead response feature calls you mere seconds after a new Internet lead arrives, and automatically prompts you to call the lead?  And this great lead response technology works even better when paired with our lead follow-up feature.  Say you call the lead back and get voice mail.  With S2L’s lead follow-up, we’ll prompt you to try again at optimally-timed (not overly-persistent) intervals.  Meanwhile, the CRM is updated with each attempt.  No work or thinking required – just answer the phone and follow the prompts.     

Speaking of evolution, our voice recognition feature is coming to your phone soon, and after you’ve used it we’d love to hear your thoughts.  Did you “let your talking do the walking”?  Are you closing more deals than ever?  Let us know!

New Press 2 Feature

finger with telephone keypad

Since rebuilding our platform five years ago, Speak2Leads has surpassed 1,000 features — some of which are on the “backend”, and not as noticeable, and some of which are more obvious. One of our newest features, “Press or Say 2”, allows you to either speak your command or press 2 on your telephone keypad.

This handy option is especially useful when Speak2Lead calls you with a lead when you need to be hands free, i.e. while you’re driving. It also helps override any “press 2” (DTMF) issues that may occur. Some of our clients have reported that every so often when they press 2, a call isn’t generated. Nothing happens. This is because our application can’t hear the tone produced by the “2” key in certain situations.

The main causes of this are a weak phone signal due to bandwidth degradation on VOIP phones, and mysterious intermittent DTMF issues. To learn more, read this article on DTMF issues and troubleshooting from Voip Mechanic.

Stay tuned — we have some exciting new things in the development pipeline, and we‘ll give you a heads-up when they’re released!

Claim Your New Domain Names Now!

BW-ulr-new-domains-2This year marked the beginning of the largest-ever expansion of the Domain Name System (DNS); a change that promises to promote global innovation, competition and consumer choice. It means you will soon see the Internet grow from the 22 gTLDs (Generic Top Level Domains) that we have now (e.g., .COM, .Net, .BIZ, .ORG, .EDU) to more than 1400 new possibilities.

You should gear up now to take advantage of new domain extensions, which could alter the landscape of SEO.

There are many industry specific domains covered like Real Estate. A few examples pertaining to real estate include – .realestate, .realtor, .realty, .homes, .house, .condos and a few more.

Attorneys may want to look into .lawyer and .legal and dentists – .dentist, .dental and so on.

I culled through the list of TLDs that have been recently released or are soon to be available for private post-secondary schools. Here are the ones you may want to consider for your school before the lead generation aggregators jump on them;

Now available:

.academy

Pre-Registration Only:

.university
.education
.careers
.institute
.training
.university

Be strategic about the names you want. Think about the keywords your visitors use to find what you offer. I am not an SEO expert so you may want to discuss your strategy with your marketing team.

You can also find a few more insights related to SEO and domain names in this article- http://www.seobook.com/how-choose-great-domain-names

If you’re interested in purchasing up-and-coming gTLDs, you can go to major providers like GoDaddy, or go straight to gTLD wholesalers, such as HEXONET — check out a full list of their gTLD pre-registrations.

Good luck!

How to Make Your Prospect’s Ears Perk Up

Cute ears of dobermann dogEvery once in a while the stars align and some smart people with a high degree of integrity develop a tool that gets a measurable and significant return on investment for school clients.

I have found– not 1, but 2 new products that do just that. Both were created by people I have known in the school industry for many years so I know they are both smart and authentic. And their products are proven and worth looking into. (They did not ask me to write this. I just think they are worth sharing with you.)

Both products work to help your admissions team understand what is important to the prospective student so their communication is tailored to what resonates with each individual.

1. Enrollment Resources– Virtual Admissions Advisor

The Virtual Admissions Advisor is an online lead qualification tool that helps prospective students understand their personal strengths, career options, and program matches.When a prospect completes the Career Readiness Quiz and signs up for a tour, you immediately receive a comprehensive lead notification, contact information, preferred meeting times, areas of interest, and specifically what the prospect wants to discuss during their tour. Virtual Admissions Advisor has increased conversion rates 87% or more.

http://enrollmentresources.com/

2. Peerless Analytics

Peerless Analytics has developed a scientific algorithm that is able to predict exactly what individual messaging will most influence each of your student’s buying decisions. They then provide your admissions team with those messages in real time as they are talking one-to-one with the prospective student. By offering a more compelling experience by personalizing the marketing messages you will convert more prospects into enrollments by knowing what is most on their mind. Peerless clients average a 34% increase in their admissions conversion yield.

http://peerlessanalytics.com/

Monthly Roundup: 7 Sales Reads to Kickstart Your November

It’s hard to believe that the holiday season is already here. The end of Halloween marks the beginning of the Q4 rush – Thanksgiving, Cyber Monday, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve. For online retailers, advertisers, and sales professionals, it’s the busiest time of the year. Keep your head on your shoulders, and stay optimistic that the end is in sight. Here are 8 inspiring reads to give you that push through Q4’s busiest months:

1. 3 Lessons Your Workplace Should Take from Team Sports 
Post by: Nate Skinner
Publisher: Salesforce

Give real time feedback, root for one another, and learn as much as you can from the tough times. As the holiday season ramps up, it’s especially important to prioritize the people behind your team. Whatever happens, your team should be there to carry one another to the finish line. You’re in the Q4 race together.

2. Small Business Owners: Survive and Enjoy the Holidays
Post by: Megan Totka
Publisher: Infusionsoft Big Ideas Blog

It’s an understatement to say that the holiday season is stressful. According to a recent report, 36% of small business owners say that the holiday season is a time of significant stress. Here is your go-to-guide for ensuring that everything stays on track. Decorate your office, plan ahead, take time to recharge, and celebrate the happy moments with your team.

3. Toxic Relationships: Why Do You Stay Connected with Emotionally Unhealthy, High-Maintenance People?
Post by: 
Robert Terson
Publisher: Selling Fearlessly

It’s almost 2014, which means that it’s time to start thinking about your New Year’s resolution. Every sales leader, business owner, and startup founder has at least a few folks who can feel like thorns in your side. Make 2014 the year that you surround yourself with people who add value instead of extracting it.

4.  There Is No Substitute for Wanting to Win
Post by: Dan Waldschmidt
Publiser: Dan Waldschmidt

What do you want in life? More money? Better health? Stability? As important as these goals might be, they are no substitute for the drive to be bigger than yourself and win. If you’re feeling stressed or down, you absolutely need to read this blog post for an energizing pick-me-up.

5. Why Your Dream Client Refuses Your Request for a Meeting
Post by: S. Anthony Iannarino
Publisher: The Sales Blog

Even the best sales professionals have been there. You find the most amazing prospective client, and he or she just doesn’t want to talk to you. If only you knew exactly what to say. This blog post can help. Sure Q4 is going to get busy. Why not aim to score that meeting come Q1?

6. Make Networking Count: Follow Through
Post by: Daniel Newman
Publisher: Millennial CEO

Holiday parties mean lots of face time with new people. Make relationships that count by following through on the promises you made over cookies and egg nog.

7. Simple Strategy to Turn Lost Sales Into Sales Success
Post by: 
Jill Konrath
Publisher: Jill Konrath’s Blog

What differentiates top performers from everybody else are their responses to setbacks. When faced with tough times, these relentless optimists reframe negativity into new personal challenges. Here is how to transform losses into key personal growth opportunities.

You pick #8. What have been your favorite reads this quarter? What words of wisdom are  keeping you energized through Q4?

Productivity Apps You Needed Yesterday

For small business owners, time is a scarce resource. It’s amazing what lengths we’ll go to maximize our days. We wake up at 5AM to hit the CrossFit gym and take care of our bodies. By 8:30 AM, we’re ready to roll and sync up with our clients and teams. We go non-stop until evening. Maybe we’ll take a quick break and have dinner. But even during downtime, we’re restless and ready to hop on email. Entrepreneurship isn’t a job. It’s a life-calling. It’s hard-wired into our DNA. We’re restless, relentless, and never stop pursuing our dreams.

That means we have to cut corners somewhere. Every minute counts. Our lifeblood? Technology.

Productivity apps can help us make the most of our limited time and budgets. The less time we spend scheduling or managing expenses, the more time we can spend fundraising and driving growth. The following tools will change your life.

1. Dropbox 

This tool lets you access your files from anywhere. Rather than struggling with USB drives, convoluted network servers, and email attachments, you can keep your files in one place. Host everything in one place, and invite collaborators to view your links based on permissions. Dropbox integrates with your computer’s network settings and is accessible through an online interface. You can even access your files through a mobile app.

Dropbox

 

DropBox

 

2. Clarity

Good advice is hard to come by, and when you have questions, you need answers immediately. That’s why Clarity launched its dial-an-expert service. The goal is to connect business leaders and new entrepreneurs with on-demand business advice, no matter where they are. Never feel lost or alone again. Clarity connects you with so many others who’ve been there before you.

productivity-apps-clarity-puri-open-forum-embed1

3. Fuzebox

Clunky collaboration platforms are the rule rather than the exception. We’ve all been there. Between clunky Go-To-Meeting invitations to crashed computers and plugins that don’t work, it’s easy to feel frustrated with what’s on the market. Then Fuze came along. This collaboration tool provides a seamless user experience, regardless of what device you’re using. Share your screen, collaborate via video, or host a conference call. You can even dial in with Skype.

Fuze

4. HipChat

This cross-platform app provides a hosted IM and group chat service to help your team stay in touch from anywhere in the world. This communication tool is a staple for geo-diverse teams. You can set whatever privacy settings you need to ensure that communication stays within your team and network of consultants.

hero-image

Final Thoughts: Delegate

The most important productivity tip? Share more with your team. Most likely, you’re overextended. Don’t deny it. If you run a small business, there are tasks that you should definitely unload. Don’t be afraid to empower your team with autonomy to get up and running. Give them space, learning opportunities and the tools they need and they’ll shine.

What are some of your favorite resources for streamlining your time?

 

 

 

New TCPA Laws for Calling Leads: What to Know

In just a couple of weeks, new Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) laws kick in. If you’re a marketer or sales team leader, you need to make sure that you’re 100% compliant in how you contact your customers and prospects. Otherwise, your company may become the target of a class action lawsuit. Be smart, and take action. Here’s what to know:

A Primer on the TCPA

As you probably know, the TCPA was passed into law in 1991. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a series of rules and regulations to protect consumers against damaging telemarketing calls from advertisers. These include automated calls, robocalls with live respondents or pre-recorded messages, and automated text messages.

New Changes: What to Know

Beginning October 16th, marketers will need written consent before sending telemarketing calls or text messages. The exception includes calls that are manually dialed, that do not include a pre-recorded message.

Be smart, and be cautious. If you’re too aggressive, or if you ignore these rules, you expose yourself to significant risk. And ultimately, anything that goes wrong will fall on you.

Speak2Leads has hired an attorney to ensure that our products are 100% safe. Here is what we’ve learned along the way:

It’s an understatement to say that these laws present a confusing situation for lead-driven marketers and sales teams. Suffice it to say it is safe to continue using Lead Response S2L. Because it is not an auto dialer. It calls you or your sales reps and they manually press ‘2″ to call the lead. However, it can’t hurt to add a check box for written permission to auto dial the prospects cell phone later using Lead Revival.

When using Lead Revival S2L for your old leads now, we will scrub out the cell phones for you and then you are good to call business land lines with a prerecorded message following the scripting requirements mentioned above.

If you have questions or need a helping hand, feel free to reach out to us personally. We’re in this together and here to help each other learn.

-Sammy

 

5 Tips for Dealing with Customer Churn

Goodbyes are never easy, especially when you’re parting ways with a client.  Plans change. Budgets wind down. Companies shift direction.

Especially in the services industry, churn is far-too-common. As much as you’ll invest in keeping your customers close, some will inevitably slip through the cracks.

And here’s the thing. It’s inevitable. You can fight it by changing the terms of your contracts or by building a new product feature. You’ll do anything and everything for your clients, as these folks are near and dear to your hearts. It hurts to part ways — kind of like a breakup.

So what happens when churn strikes?

The truth is, it isn’t the end of the world. When handled right, a B2B breakup can actually be an extremely positive experience. Here are five tips for what to do:

1. Give your partner space

Accept that the fit just isn’t there. Take a step back to give your partner space, and stop trying to beat a dead horse. Take a breather. Embrace the situation. As tempting as it is to feel upset, don’t. Negativity is a waste of energy when you should be focusing on more productive efforts like prospecting for new business.

2. Focus on actionable takeaways

Why did the relationship fail? Perhaps there are a mismatch of skills. Maybe your two businesses’s directions changed very suddenly. Instead of wondering over what could have been, take the time to focus on what actually happened. Reinvest the experience into takeaways for your sales strategy moving forward. Would you do anything differently next time? Why or why not?

3. Look beyond what’s happening now

Customer relationships are more valuable than what’s right in front of you. Who knows what could happen in the future? Your paths could overlap again — perhaps in another context. When your customers churn, don’t dwell on the lost opportunity. Instead, focus on the long-term relationship. It’s a small world, and you’ll inevitably come across the same connections again and again. Keep an open mind.

4. Keep a diverse portfolio

It’s true that you should value and respect your customers as individuals. Give them the time and attention that they need to succeed. But as a business, you need to protect yourself. Keep your client portfolio as diverse as possible.  The more you focus on scaling your business, the less you’ll feel stressed over churn. If a customer backs out, it’ll feel like a bummer — but it won’t be the end of the world.

5. Stay positive, no matter what

No matter what, keep smiling — even if you’re feeling upset with your team or company. Negative energy will cause more damage than you realize, so don’t let your stress come though. Feel good, and stay relentlessly optimistic. And if you truly are feeling upset? Fake it ’til you make it. When you stay positive, the chances of receiving a glowing recommendation will increase exponentially.

An end to a business relationship is not always the end of the world. For all you know, parting ways could help push your company towards new beginnings. Don’t let churn bog you down. It’s healthy. It’s normal. It’s part of the business process.

5 Life Changing Relationship Building Tips

Relationships are the heart and soul of your tech startup. At the heart of every amazing product is your customer, and at the center of every innovative idea is your dedicated team. If there is one powerful lesson to learn in business is the power of people over sales. If you’re constantly chasing a bottom-line-revenue dollar, your view will quickly become shortsighted.

A smarter long-term strategy is to prioritize the people who make your business possible — your customers, team members, partners, and network of peer supporters. Here are 5 tips to guide you along the way:

1.  “Remember that failure is an event, not a person. Yesterday ended last night.” – Zig Ziglar via HubSpot

People make mistakes. It happens. But as a leader, you should never confuse mistakes with failure. Always give your team the benefit of the doubt to stay motivated, learn from setbacks, and always pursue success. When you’re a supportive leader, your team will have the freedom to innovate and move your business forward. Be a good boss, and treat your sales team well. Tomorrow is always a new day.

2. “Never Assume You Know Everything” – Eric Siu via His Blog

As smart as you think you are, there are always people who are better, stronger, and more successful than you. Even the most talented jack-of-all trades professionals have room for growth and improvement. Ask questions. Listen more than you talk. Technology moves at a million miles per hour, and the best way to keep up is to keep your eyes, ears, and heart open.

3. “Tell a compelling brand story to strengthen ties with your customers” – Susan Gunelius via American Express OPEN Forum

What inspires you and your team to get up early and come to work every day? Sure, you’ve build the most amazing product in the world, but why? What problem are you trying to solve, and how does it make you feel? Remember that as decision makers, we are equal parts emotional and rational. Build human connections through your personal brand stories.

4. “Spend quality time together” – Christina Papale via MarketingProfs

As rushed and as busy as you are, never sacrifice time with your employees and clients. Know each other. Understand what you need and how your businesses fit together. Don’t risk missing this key connection by chasing down a quick sale. There is more to business than your quota, and the time you invest in one another will help your organizations drive growth for the long-term.

5.  “All things being equal, people will do business with a friend; all things being unequal, people will still do business with a friend.” – Mark McCormack via Entrepreneur

 

Prioritize likability as much as you do your sales pitch. At the end of the day, people build long-term relationships with people they like. Be genuine, trustworthy, and show how much you are. Relationships are more than just a business transaction. Listen to your heart as much as your head.

-Sammy

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