One of the more challenging aspects of business management is counteracting negative customer reviews. Customer relationship management (CRM) is always a delicate balance of responding without seeming defensive.
And in this new world of instant messaging, mobile platforms, and social media, where news is spread virally, companies need to respond quickly and efficiently. Twitter, the micro-blogging social media platform, is a great tool for CRM.
Setting up an Effective Twitter Strategy
Social media is different than print or broadcast advertising, as the underlying fundamental principles are all about relationships, which fits smoothly into CRM fundamentals. We talk with other people in social media, not at them as in a magazine ad. Consequently, social medial such as Twitter is a more effective tool for building trust and credibility which fits in with your CRM strategy.
Let a little bird help with business reputation management.
That said, Twitter can be used to also direct contacts back to ads, PR campaigns, or blogs to reinforce messages and ensure the maximum number of customers – and more importantly, potential customers – are reached. With tweets being so much faster than other traditional platforms, your counter measures will be heard sooner rather than later.
Here are important aspects of setting up an effective Twitter strategy:
Many companies use social media to only post information such as new product announcements or invitations to events. But since platforms like Twitter reinforce interactions among participants, it is a perfect way to implement CRM to build stronger customer relationships.
While sharing what you had for lunch may not be something you care to post, interacting with others is essential to success on Twitter. Re-tweet interesting photos or links with comments in front of the RT symbol. Ask questions about posts, such as “What new products are you releasing at the tradeshow you mentioned?” You’ll be surprised how easy it is to get a dialogue going if you’re not perceived as a spammer.
Being a good member of the community is key to social media success.
A good ratio is 80-90% interaction, with only 10-20% of your tweets talking about your products and services. If you are perceived as a good member of the Twitterverse, then when you need positive reviews, your fellow tweeters will be more than happy to help out.
Tweet with Frequency
We’re hearing marketing gurus say you don’t have to tweet everyday, and that is just plain wrong. An effective social media campaign requires that you tweet at least a dozen or so times per day. Software such as TweetDeck or HootSuite allows you to schedule messages so you can come into your office in the morning and in 10-15 minutes organize tweets that can go out throughout the day.
These don’t have to be original tweets. Re-tweeting, especially with a short comment in front such as “Ck this out” is considered good etiquette and is highly encouraged.
Frequency is important for counteracting negative customer reviews because Google will pick up Twitter posts in online searches. The more positive tweets you post, the lower those negative reviews will appear in page rankings.
Ask for Help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. While open requests to re-tweet a post are considered cheesy, the direct message option is a great way to privately get your network to support your efforts. Of course, as in any community, you have to reciprocate and support the other members of the Twitterverse!
It’s a good bet that with a consistent Twitter strategy your positive messages will get out. They may even go viral so that your online reputation is better than ever!
About the Author:
Sarah Boisvert writes on a variety of business topics, including social media, marketing, and sales. She has over 100,000 Twitter followers in her various accounts and considers herself a Twitterholic.
A best practice for sales people by Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator.
Mediocre sales people are content to react to the requests of their customers, and focus on maintaining the relationships in order to solidify the business they enjoy.
The best sales people understand that, while some of the above is necessary, they proactively seek to discover additional opportunities for growth in their key accounts and strategically build relationships with people who can open doors for them.
The difference is greater than just one of degree. The best sales people work from a mindset that understands they need to continually seek for additional opportunities. This mindset colors everything they do, and dictates the practices and disciplines they build into their routines.
One such discipline is that of systematically analyzing key accounts in order to identify opportunities for growth. They work like this:
Periodically, every quarter or so, they methodically consider each of their key accounts one at a time (for a discussion of key accounts, see my book, 10 Secrets of Time Management for Salespeople).
They may start with a matrix of all the categories of products they sell, and then methodically collect information as to how much of each of these each account currently purchases. For example, it may be that your company sells four categories of product: Widgets, gidgets, fridgets and pidgets.
For each account, they may have a matrix that looks like this:
||Annual Purchases (Total)
||Annual Purchases (From Us)
Notice that before they can analyze and prioritize the opportunities, they must first collect the information regarding the account’s annual purchasing volume. Just that practice alone will separate the best sales people from the pack.
But, once they have that information, they routinely consider it and make decisions about which opportunities offer the closest and easiest way to improve their business.
This discipline keeps them constantly focused on the best opportunities in their key accounts. And that means that they are always working in the most effective way. No wonder they are the best sales people.
Copyright MMX by Dave Kahle
All rights reserved
Image by imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
This is a best practice for sales people by Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator.
Every sales organization, and every sales process, begins with identifying a group of suspects. Suspects are people and organizations you suspect may one day do business with you. They aren’t yet prospects, because you don’t know if they have a legitimate need for what you sell, or if they can make the decision and buy your product or service. That determination comes later.
But in order to get a group of prospects, you must begin with a list of suspects. Here are eight ways to acquire such a list.
1. Buy a list.
This is the information age, and lists are available for almost every conceivable set of characteristics. For example, I could, this afternoon, contact a list broker, ask for a list of names, addresses, phone numbers, size of business in numbers of employees, and email addresses for manufacturers (or any one of a couple of hundred classifications) within a set of telephone area codes. I could have that downloaded to my computer by the end of the day.
Information selling is now a major industry in this country and there are lots of providers. Just do a Google search on “list brokers” and find a couple with which to work. You’ll be amazed at what information you can purchase.
2. Get referrals from your customers.
Probably the best way to meet a prospect for the first time is to be introduced by someone you both know and respect. Before that can happen, you need to get the name and details for the person who you want to meet. That means you must ask your current customers for referrals.
The best way to do this is to visit your customers face-to-face, have a conversation about your products/services and their satisfaction with them, and then ask them specific questions to generate lists of names. For example, don’t ask, “Who do you know….”, instead, ask, “Who is one of your vendors who could use our service?”, Or, “Which one or two people in your committee would be possible candidates?” By asking a series of specific questions instead of general ones, you’ll direct their thinking in more productive routes, and acquire more referrals.
3. Rub shoulders with groups of them.
If you have precisely defined your target markets, then you should spend some time thinking and researching this question, “Where do groups of them go?” The answers can vary from trade fairs, association meetings, to other suppliers. The most unusual answer to this was from a client who sold reference books to lawyers. In order to meet them, he discovered that many of them would frequent a local pub on Fridays. He then made it a practice to show up and rub shoulders them, meeting them in a social situation.
If you can identify where they go, then you can see about getting a list of them from someone who organizes or administers that event or meeting place. Or, you can just show up and collect business cards.
4. Advertise in publications and websites they view.
There is a reason why advertising has been around for so long. One way to collect lists of suspects is to advertise in the publications or websites they view, offer something free or inexpensive, and collect the names and details.
The people who respond to the ads move themselves one step closer to being prospects in that they, by responding, show they have an interest in what you offer, and are willing to take action.
5. Partner with someone else who sells something compatible to them.
The key here is “compatible.” Again, if you have done a thorough job of describing what the ideal suspect looks like, you can then ask, “What else do they buy?” Or, “With who else do they do business?” That should lead you to some companies and eventually people who may have a vested interest in sharing their lists with you in exchange for something of value from you.
6. Take a survey or send a newsletter to a larger list.
If you want to find “sales managers of medium sized insurance agencies who supervise six or more sales people” for example, you could take a survey of all insurance agencies, or send them a newsletter, with an opportunity for the sales managers to respond to something that is suitable for them. Those who respond, if you do this well, identify themselves as being in the category you want.
7. Hold seminars for larger groups of them.
By holding a free or inexpensive seminar, you engage with people who are interested in your subject and show themselves as willing to invest time and money. This has the added benefit that you position yourself as a valuable source of information as well.
8. Use social media to unearth them.
LinkedIn, Facebook, and the slew of other similar sites offer opportunities to join groups of them, and to identify those who meet your criteria. You can use any or all of these means to collect a beginning list of suspects.
Keep in mind that a suspect list is never finished. It’s not an event you take care of one time. Rather, it is an on-going process that never ends. You are constantly investing time and energy in assembling that list of suspects.
If you do a good job at this step, identifying suspects, it makes everything else that much easier.
Image “Businessman Searching To The Future” by bplanet at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The most basic function of any sales manager is to make sure that their sales team is doing the things that they need to be in order to be successful. Sales managers should keep their eye on certain statistics that will give them valuable information about the performance of their team. These statistics can range from activity tracking, response time, sales tactics, using internal resources and rate of closing.
A high outbound call volume makes every sales manager happy. Making a lot of dials doesn’t necessarily lead to success though. What happens after the first call? Does each sales rep schedule a follow up activity? What is their ratio of call to close? How many contacts does it take to push a lead forward? If your sales teams activity levels are high but the sales numbers are still low; it might be time to make some changes. Maybe the team needs help identifying and getting through to key decision makers. A CRM with a built in organization chart can help. Maybe the sales manager needs to put in a call to the decision maker to help things progress but if that person isn’t identified correctly, then it can’t be done.
When a lead is assigned to a sales rep, how quickly do they make contact? We live in an on-demand world and prospects operate at that same speed. If they submit an inquiry they want a response almost immediately. What tools does your company have in place to ensure prospects aren’t sitting around waiting on you? A CRM system with an integrated web to lead capture form is a huge time saver. A lead comes in, is automatically assigned to a rep and appears right on their dashboard so they know they have to work it. What could be easier? This also allows a sales manager to track when the lead came into the system and when the rep made the first attempt at contact. As we all know time is money and if your prospect is waiting on you chances are they are already looking at your competition.
When a prospect shows interest in your product or service and requests pricing information, the sales team should immediately be entering a sales opportunity into your CRM system. When an opportunity is identified and properly placed in a sales pipeline; the real selling begins. What is it going to take to close the deal? When is the opportunity expected to close? Have you worked with this customer before? Have you worked with another company in the same industry? The questions are easily tracked in any CRM system that has a customizable sales pipeline and a spot to put in competitive intelligence like industry. Using a CRM tool with this capability will allow your sales reps to have the information at their fingertips and transmit a stronger value proposition to the potential buyer. The sales manager is then easily able to track what type of information the most successful sales reps are using and to identify vertical markets that your company is strong in.
What resources do you have at your disposal to use in helping your sales team close business? The best sales managers use every tool at their disposal to empower their sales reps to close business. One of the most overlooked aspects of sales is the function of marketing and sales working together. Marketing isn’t only around to brand your company or get your message out to potential new leads. Does your marketing team do case studies? Do they keep a list of customer testimonials? Do you have whitepapers and videos that support your value proposition? Most importantly; does your sales team know these tools are available to them to use while engaged with a customer. A CRM system that has a document library feature is a great place to house all these resources. Sales managers often use these document libraries to pick and choose the most valuable bits of information to place in front of their team.
As a sales manager it is vital to identify which sales reps are the best closers and help the ones that aren’t closing as effectively to improve. Sales managers without a CRM system have to rely on reports and cumbersome excel spreadsheets to identify this. A CRM that has a win/loss analysis metric broken down by person provides statistics on who may need help with their closing skills. The sales managers can then work with them on the closing process and help them to improve.
About the Author:
Tom Gibson is a sales manager who is considered an expert on sales techniques, CRM and business development.
Image “Sherlock Holmes Museum” by email@example.com on Flickr under Creative Commons license.
There is no such thing as the best CRM software.
There are several products that may address your business requirements better than others, but there is no top CRM solution or best CRM system. Sorry to disappoint you. There is a lot of hype in this industry sector and millions spent on marketing and branding, but the best CRM software for you is the system that best meets your current and future business requirements. It’s that simple.
Mid-sized enterprises and large corporations understand this. Smaller businesses tend to make their decision based more on name recognition and price than on business requirements. If I said Microsoft Dynamics CRM was the best CRM solution no one would argue, or perhaps the folks at Salesforce.com might. Now if I said Commence CRM was the best I am sure this would generate a few replies such as “Who?!” That’s because companies like Commence do not sell into the enterprise market or have the marketing budget of a Microsoft or Salesforce.com. But if I told you this company has been servicing the customer management software requirements of small to mid-size companies for more than two decades and has several thousand customers around the world this might get your attention. You see my point?
While I do not know your specific business requirements, I can offer some advice with regard to your selection of a CRM solution.
- Buy from a trusted name, but not necessarily the most branded name. For example, say you are a small business in the recruiting industry and you have uncovered a CRM solution that successfully addresses similar requirements to yours; they may be a better fit than Microsoft CRM – even if they are not as well known.
- How long has the company been in business? This is a scary industry and many of the current CRM solutions providers may not be around in the near term. Find one that has had staying power and a large customer base.
- Ask where your data is. Most of the newer CRM solutions are cloud-based which means someone else is storing your data somewhere. Find out where and make sure it’s a world class hosting service that will be protecting your data.
- Does anyone answer the phone when you call? Many low cost CRM solution providers only provide e-mail support, probably because they don’t have the staff to support your business. How comforting is that?
- Product enhancements – should you expect any? Will there be any? The technology sector moves at the speed of light. You will want to partner with a solution provider that continues to invest in their product, and protects your investment in theirs.
Good luck and good hunting.
Larry Caretsky, Commence CEO, has released the white paper “Don’t Let Quality Leads Slip Away: Executive Takes Action with CRM Software.”
Here’s an excerpt including the introduction and you can download the full white paper below:
“As a sales executive of a computer software firm, I became consistently frustrated when comparing the number of leads that we generated every quarter to the number of new business opportunities we closed. Something just didn’t add up so I decided to dig into this and find out what was going on…
The project was driven by our internal requirements and the frustration shared by so many executives I had interviewed who were looking to address this business challenge.”
Click to view or download the full CRM Whitepaper.
Image by Ben Andreas Harding on Flickr under Creative Commons license.
This is a Sales Question and Answer article from guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator. Follow Dave’s latest Tweets at @davekahle.
Q. Dave, I’m interested in what you would recommend for a subscription to a monthly sales magazine and a sales improvement seminar.
A. You have touched one of my hot-buttons with this question. So, forgive me if you give a longer answer than you expect.
First, let me applaud you for asking the question. As amazing as it sounds, I have come to the conclusion that only about 5% of sales people ever invest in their own growth and improvement. My understanding of that number has evolved over the years. I used to think it was much higher, but the more experience I gain, the more I’m convinced that it’s a rare and unusual sales person who will actually spend $20.00 or so to improve himself/herself, much less to actually go to a seminar. So, just by asking the question, you have indicated that you are probably in that top percentile of sales people. And, the fact that you probably will invest in improving yourself means that, over time, you will distance yourself from the pack.
Before I tackle your question head on, let me sketch a little more background. Here’s a phrase to remember: Learning event. What’s a learning event? It’s an experience you have in which you encounter some new ideas, you gain insights in new ways of seeing existing ideas, or you are reminded of behaviors and practices of which you may have been aware, but from which you have drifted away.
So, reading a newsletter could be a learning event. So could a sales meeting or a conversation with one of your colleagues. So could five minutes spent after a sales call reflecting on what went well and what didn’t.
What’s important is this: As a result of a learning event, you focus on some better behavior which you are going to implement in the future. Learning, for adults, is all about behavior. In other words, you must find something that you can do differently, and decide to do that thing.
For example, you may have participated in one of my seminars. That’s a learning event. Following the seminar, you say to yourself, “I really should spend more time prioritizing my customers, so that I don’t waste my time with low potential accounts.” That thought is the “better behavior” which you decided to pursue as a result of the learning event.
Generating those kinds of commitments is what learning is all about. When you asked for a recommendation, my belief is that you ultimately want to generate those commitments to “better behavior” in yourself or in the sales people you manage.
I sometimes hear this kind of comment, “I knew that” from an experienced sales person following a seminar. My response is, “So what?” This is not about what you know, it’s about what you do. So the question should not be, “Is this something new that you didn’t know?” The question should be, “Is this something good that you are not doing, or that you could do better than you are now?”
The emphasis has to be on action (behavior), not just knowledge. Here’s a real life example. I had a conversation with a sales manager calling me with a problem. He had read my “How to Excel at Distributor Sales” book, and was impressed with, among other things, the chapters on getting organized. He said, “It is such basic information, but yet they don’t do it.” He went on to say that getting your file system organized was fundamental, but when he rode with his sales people, none of them had done it.
That’s the point. They probably all knew that they should be organized, but none of them were doing it. You see, it wasn’t about knowledge, it was about behavior.
If you want to continually improve, then you regularly answer the question: “What could I do better than I am doing now?” The question is not, “What do I not know that I should know?” It’s not just knowledge, it’s knowledge applied that is the issue.
The way you find answers to that question is to regularly engage in learning events.
In other words, rather than just one intense day-long seminar once a year, I’d prefer you to be involved in a learning event at least once a month, if not weekly. My recommendation is four hours once a month. The systematic and regular involvement in learning events puts you in the mindset of continuous improvement, constantly stimulates you with new “better behaviors” and allows you the time to focus on one or two areas of improvement every month.
One more little piece of background before I provide some specific resources for you.
We all understand that people have different ways they learn best. One thing that is rarely acknowledged is that different media generally have a slightly different impact on our learning. For example, when we take in something strictly by ear, we have a tendency to believe it more and remember it less. That’s why you can’t remember last Sunday’s sermon in church. It may have sounded good at the time, but you’ve lost the message in the few days since then. Taking something in by reading has the opposite impact. We are more critical of the information, but we retain it longer. It’s not as believable, but is more memorable.
The best learning experiences, then, require you to listen, to read, and to do. In that way, you are far more likely to gain helpful answers to the question, “What could I be doing better than I am doing now?” By the way, that explains why my telephone seminars, in-person programs and multimedia programs are configured and structured the way they are. They are all designed to maximize your learning by appealing to a multiple number of senses.
Sales Training Resources
That brings us to this conclusion: If you are going to do “continuous improvement” effectively, then you need to regularly expose yourself to a variety of learning events, focusing on the question, “What could I do better than I am doing now?” as a way of gaining value from every experience.
Here, then, are a variety of resources:
Start with my ezine by subscribing at http://www.davekahle.com/mailinglist.htm
Personal Selling Power has been a good quality publication, although I haven’t seen it around recently. I also subscribe to Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, which focuses both on management and sales. There are industry-specific publications for almost every trade group imaginable. Rather than attempt to list them here, let me just encourage you to get on their subscription lists. Contact the national association of companies who do what you do, and find out what publications are available for your industry.
I have to admit that I’m a terrible critic of others in my business. I think there is so much fluff passed off as information by people who have no idea how to help people learn, that it’s outrageous. So, I rarely find someone to recommend.
Beyond that, there are dozens of learning events in the form of seminars. Ask around, and get word-of-mouth recommendations from people whose opinion you respect. AMA does a good job with almost everything they produce, although they are a little pricey.
With about 50,000 books published in this country every year, you have an almost limitless variety from which to choose. I’m regularly asked to recommend a good book. My response is this: Read my books first. After you have read my books, then it really doesn’t matter much. If your attitude is right and you prepare your mind with the question, “What could I do better than I am doing now?” you’ll find something of value from almost any book.
Go to the library or the local book store, and pick up whatever appeals to you that day. Having said that, I have to admit that I am impressed with Neil Rackham’s books, and recommend them highly.
5. Other resources
Self-study multimedia programs are highly effective because they appeal to all the basic ways to learn. I specialized in them, and you’ll find a variety on my website. If you really want to get serious, check our Sales Resource Center® where we deliver 455 multimedia training programs 24/7 over the web – but remember, it’s only for the top 5-percenters of the world.
Whew! Now that’s a long answer to a short question. Hope this helps.
Article By Dave Kahle
Copyright MMXIII by Dave Kahle
All rights reserved
A best practice for sales people by Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator.
There are several very common temptations that routinely present themselves to the field salesperson. One is to become too reactive. When you succumb to this temptation, you eventually default to a mindset that sees your job as essentially being your customer’s gofer. You determine where to go and what to do on the basis of who wants something from you at the moment. Thus, where you go on Monday depends on who called on Friday.
Another temptation is to be lulled by the repetitive nature of the business-to-business selling situation into a mindless routine. When you succumb to this temptation, you quit thinking about the most effective actions, and give in to the lure of the routine. It’s 10 AM on Tuesday, and you are at account ABC. Why are you here? Because it’s 10 AM on Tuesday. That’s what you do. It’s been years, if ever, that you thought about why you are here. You just are.
Both of these create salespeople of marginal performance, because they rob the salesperson of one of his most powerful assets: The ability to invest his/her selling time where it will produce the greatest return on time invested.
There is, however, a discipline that serves as a counter-weight to these temptations. The best salespeople routinely and with discipline and method, create a monthly plan for the investment of their time.
The monthly plan is an essential discipline that holds the two temptations discussed above at bay, and, at the same time, produces decisions that lead to the most effective actions.
It is a best practice of the best, and one of the Five Key Disciplines that we teach participants in our Kahle Way® Selling System.
A monthly plan is just that – a plan that you create for the investment of your selling time over the next 30 days. You do one every month, at the beginning of the month.
Normally, it will take you 30 to 90 minutes. In it, you complete a two-page form that asks you to identify the most effective actions you can take during the coming month, by category. For example, the monthly plan lists each of your target accounts, and asks for a one-line description of what progress you want to make this month in each of those accounts.
If your company expects higher performance on key product lines, then planning for this month’s efforts in regard to those is another category.
If you have some expectations for acquiring new customers, those efforts are described and to which you are committed.
You identify those opportunities that are closest to the money, and describe what progress you are going to make to bring them to closure.
You identify and commit to your efforts to improve yourself this month.
All of these are areas on which you focus, make decisions about, and then commit in writing to specific actions.
The result? A plan for the most effective use of your sales time next month.
It is a regular discipline of the best. To learn more, consider The Kahle Way® Distributor Selling System, or The Kahle Way® Business-to-Business Selling System.
Image “08:40″ by Alberto676 on Flickr under Creative Commons license.
This is a best practice for sales people by Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator.
Article by Dave Kahle
This is one of those pieces of conventional wisdom that no one seems to question: “It’s good to be passionate about your product.” Like so many of these conventional myths that ingrain themselves into our psyche, this one has the potential for frustrating countless thousands of sales people, sales managers and chief sales officers.
Let me reassure you: It is not necessary to be passionate about your product or service in order to sell it effectively. In fact, your passion may be a detriment to an effective sales process.
Before you impale me on the skewers of this deeply-help belief, let’s consider this together.
The dictionary definition of “passion” is this: “enthusiastic — showing or having intense emotion.” In a business sense, we commonly think of passion as arising from a conviction that our product or service is a great value, or has some really unique features. So, when we are passionate about our product/service, we are so enamored with it that we become enthusiastic promoters of it. This enthusiasm is thought to be a good thing, and managers everywhere promote it.
Enthusiasm about your product is, however, greatly overrated, for a number of reasons. Let’s look at them.
First, enthusiasm comes out of you, the sales person. It arises out of your unique combination of life experiences and values. It says something about you, but has nothing to do with the customer, and says nothing about the product.
For example, you can have two sales people viewing the same product. One, a young, inexperienced sales person, is enthusiastic about the product. The other, a more experienced veteran, is much more objective and less emotional about the product. In that very real example, does the sales person’s passion arise out of the product or out of the person? Clearly, it says something about the person, and that person’s lack of experience.
I believe that experienced purchasers often view a sales person’s enthusiasm about a product as an indication of that person’s naivety and inexperience.
But, that’s not all. In fact, enthusiasm can be a detriment to servicing the customer because it clouds the communication process and weighs it heavily on the side of the seller. It holds your (the sales person’s) opinions up as more important than the customer’s.
When you are passionate about a product, you naturally want to talk about the product – after all, it’s so great that you are enthusiastic about it. And that enthusiasm then means that you don’t inquire deeply into the customer’s needs, interests or desires. Your enthusiasm often overrides your attention to the customer.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you are looking for a car, and have in mind a used, small SUV. You visit a car dealer, and a sales person introduces himself. You explain what you are looking for. The sales person walks you over to a new car – a model that has just been introduced. It has some really great new features, and the sales person is clearly enthusiastic about it. He goes on and on and you can tell that he is passionate about this new car. You listen politely, and then excuse yourself.
His enthusiasm got in the way of your needs. Perhaps if he weren’t so passionate, because he liked the new car, he would have spent more time trying to meet your needs. While he may have liked it, you weren’t particularly interested.
His passion was based on his opinion, his needs, and his interests, and not yours. So, passion comes out of the sales person’s experience and needs, not those of your customers. Passion can interfere with the sales process.
Passion can also blind you to the truth. Here’s an example. There was a reality TV show on for a while that rated people’s inventions. One inventor has created a wooden board game. It required a large wooden construction, larger than an ordinary card table to play. It looked like an interesting game, but the judges criticized the need for this construction, particularly in a day when far more fascinating games are routinely available for a fraction of the cost on smart phones and tablets.
The inventor stuck to his guns. He was passionate. He had invested his life savings in this game, and was enthusiastic about it. His passion and enthusiasm blinded him to the truth: It wasn’t very saleable. He would be better served by cutting his losses and moving on. Alas, his passion wouldn’t let him do that. His passion had blinded him to the truth, and interfered with a more rational decision.
Early in my career I was engaged by an entrepreneur in a similar situation. He had created a device that would alert the parents of school age children when the bus was about to appear at their bus stop. He was passionate about it, and invested lots of time and money into the product. Unfortunately, the market just did not want it. It took a couple of years and hundreds of thousands of dollars for him to find that out. His passion stood in the place of a wise decision.
As a veteran sales consultant, I routinely see people who are suffering in the aftermath of a passion, misplaced. They find or create an effort or company based on a passionate belief in something. However, their passion blinded them to the realities of the market. In a last ditch effort to rescue their vision, they call for the consultant. Unfortunately, I can rarely help them. Typically, they have depleted their resources in a mistaken effort that just a little more of some marketing effort would open the flood gates, and the world would share their passion and recognize their product.
The self-improvement literature is littered with exhortations to be ‘passionate’, to follow your passions, etc. Various examples are put forth of people achieving great things by being enthusiastic and following their passions. But very seldom does one see the far more common story – a misplaced passionate enthusiasm resulting in defeated dreams, mediocre performance and human potential squandered.
From my perspective, I’ll take experience, commitment and skill over passion every day of the week. There is a problem with passion.
Copyright MMXIII by Dave Kahle
All rights reserved
Image by MyEyeSees on Flickr under Creative Commons license.
Did you catch that Clydesdales commercial during the 2013 Super Bowl? Budweiser had just a bit of an audience that day, yes? Now – think back. How did it end?
Take a break, and check this out one more time.
How many names did they collect?
What’s the last action you can do to be a tiny part of this masterful piece of marketing?
If you can get your audience to respond, act, remember, engage, think, click, create, offer, contribute, participate, like, tweet, take action – or even name a baby Clydesdale – you have successfully used your social media marketing tool.
Think about what actions you can ask your consumers to take. If they become the slightest bit personally invested in your business, your name and product will stick with them.
It’s a fact: A whopping 63% of consumers are using social media. That is a massive amount of exposure, and if you aren’t using social media to cast a wider net, now is the time. The list only seems to grow each year: Twitter, Instagram, Quora, ZoomInfo, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, etc. Each and every one of these forms of social media is a golden opportunity to spread the message that you want to spread and to attain an even stronger reputation for your business. Just ask Budweiser.
Think of the connection between horses and beer. It seems like a far stretch, until you involve Clydesdales – make that a baby Clydesdale – and combine it with a warm-spirited, handsome, sentimental, and dedicated trainer. Budweiser created a story around that nameless pony, and what’s a viewer to do? Retain the product, retain the story, and of course, retain the question. No doubt, a fair portion of viewers will want to participate in the game of throwing into the ring a name for the pony. This is a superb example of how to create a buzz and get people talking after the commercial is over.
So what else can you do to get some of those 63% of buyers to bring some energy to your online presence? Every time they do, your online reputation is going to get a boost. Try some of these engagement techniques:
- Take a vote. Offer a few ideas for potential products that you’re thinking about bringing to the market, and have them cast their ballot with a simple click.
- Create a contest. Maybe it’s a trivia question of the week, or something light and fun that gets them to take a quick break from their daily tasks at hand.
- Let them inside. Create a short video that highlights you and your employees’ stories and pride. This will help your customers to feel a little bonded to the folks who work hard to create your product or service. We’re all in this thing together – this thing called life. Share that mentality, and you’ll grow both your reputation and client base. Keep it real, and they will respond. Maybe your viewers of the video will provide a comment or reaction. ASK them to!
- The direct involvement is always worthy, but you can also encourage your potential customer to participate in an indirect involvement question. Remember your first love? Maybe it was Fido, when you were five years old. Maybe it was your mom or dad, or maybe it was that little cutie in the back row in Algebra. For an indirect involvement question like this, you’re not actually soliciting answers, but you will still be getting them to respond. It’s an action, and that’s exactly what you want. Tie that indirect involvement question to an aspect of your business, and you’ve got them connected.
Get them to take some action, and watch your reputation skyrocket!
Engagement. Action. Response. Contribution. Connection. Your reputation and sales will increase if your social media viewers get involved.
Valerie J. Wilson is a freelance writer who writes about marketing, business, and the economy.
Image “Baby Clydesdale” by Bill Garrett on Flickr under Creative Commons license.
Image “Rocket Drag Race” by Steve Jurvetson on Flickr under Creative Commons license.