PBB: The Importance of Attending Industry Events

Below is a blog from Personal Branding Blog by Ceren Cubukcu. She talks about how important it is to attend Industry events. If you need information on finding associations in your industry go to Dealer.org. or leave a comment and I’ll assist you in finding an association.

The Importance of Attending Industry Events 

3 LPOTY recipients CT Bob Kelly (Torno Lbr) MA Bethany Sawyer (Boston Cedar) RI Mark Grant (Moulding & Millwork)
3 LPOTY recipients CT Bob Kelly (Torno Lbr) MA Bethany Sawyer (Boston Cedar) RI Mark Grant (Moulding & Millwork)

Many people skip attending industry events unless they are required to. They usually underestimate the importance of these kinds of events. They find excuses not to attend such as “I have a very important meeting that day” or “I am very busy during that time” or “the ticket prices are expensive.

You shouldn’t wait until your company or your boss sends you to these kinds of events. You should be proactive and follow the events in your area and demand from your company to attend the event. If your boss is reluctant to send you, then make a case and try to convince him/her how useful this event will be for the company. You can find new clients for your business, see what your competitors are doing or observe the improvements in your industry. Also, during the event you should make yourself available to others and meet as many people as you can to increase your network. Don’t forget to ask their business cards so you can follow-up afterwards and stay connected with them via LinkedIn.

I will give you an example to show you the importance of these kinds of industry events. Last week I attended Webit Congress, one of the largest web and IT conferences in EMEA region. I was one of the speakers at the event and presented my company to the rest of the attendees. Approximately 8000 people attended the congress this year including professionals from large corporations, mid-sized companies, startups, investors, freelancers and journalists.

I was not sure who will be listening to my presentation due to the diversity of attendees. However, the outcome turned out to be much better than I expected. A famous European journalist came to me after the presentation and told me that he is interested in featuring my company at his magazine. This means free international advertising for my company. Also, I met with a few people who can be potential clients in the future. Long story short, you never know what to expect when you attend large conferences like this one. However, in my opinion, it is very important to be present in these kinds of events and meet with other professionals in your sector. Even if you are not the presenter, it is still essential to be there so you can follow the trends in your industry or find new clients for your business.

Advertisements

The Truth About 50+ Year Old Salespeople

Here is a great article from Steve Martin who writes the Heavy Hitter Sales Blog. Who do you prefer when you hire salespeople, someone young or more senior?

The Truth About 50+ Year Old SalespeopleUncle Sam

Over the last couple of months I’ve spoken to a number of experienced sales leaders and senior sales reps who were contemplating their next career move.  Many feared their age might become an obstacle so I thought I would post this article.

It’s still hard times for salespeople and sales managers over 50 today. As companies have downsized, they find themselves five times more likely to be let go when compared to their younger counterparts. They also have a more difficult time finding new jobs because younger sales managers have five basic fears about hiring someone older than themselves:
They are Un-coachable. Younger sales managers fear older salespeople are set in their ways and won’t take their directions.

They aren’t Technically Savvy. Younger sales managers fear they haven’t ingrained technology (smartphones, tablets, e-mail, and web-based sales force automation) into their daily working routine (nor are they up-to-date on the internet, blogs, texting, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc).

They are “Washed Up.” Younger sales managers fear older reps are burned out from too many years “carrying the bag.”

They Have a Poor Work Ethic.  For a variety of family, personal, or health reasons, younger sales managers question how hard they will work.

They Really Want My Job! Perhaps the biggest fear of a younger manager is that he is hiring someone who may upstage him in the eyes of senior management in order to fulfill an ulterior motive of taking over his job.

Given these fears, I would like offer five factors sales managers should consider when choosing between younger and more senior salespeople.

1. Do you have to Sell to the C-Level? The C-level Executive sell is based upon establishing credibility and trust. Who do think has an easier time establishing rapport with senior executives; a 26 or 56 year old salesperson? 

2. It’s about relationships, not Rolodexes. Never hire any salesperson solely based on the Rolodex (if you’re under 30 you might have to look this word up) of customer contacts they claim to possess. Hire the salesperson who has a successful track record at penetrating new accounts and proven their ability of turning aloof prospects into close friends.

3. Wit. Most companies make previous experience in the same industry their main criterion for hiring. Since these salespeople command the industry nomenclature, they are assumed to be qualified candidates. A more important hiring criterion is how candidates respond to pressure. In other words, how quick-witted or fast on their feet are they, what is their ability to learn quickly, and are they able to solve complex problems in real time? In this regard, don’t judge a book by its cover and assume a little gray hair means a lot less grey matter.

4. Sales is a Mentor-based Profession. Sales organizations are mentor-based environments. Inexperienced salespeople don’t know what they haven’t seen for themselves. Usually, it’s through the “school of hard knocks” that they gain their experience. Unfortunately, this takes time. The entire team can benefit from emulating salespeople who have accumulated a reservoir of experience working with customers.

5. Who Do You Trust? Peek into the cockpit as you board your next commercial flight. Chances are you are putting your life in the hands of one of the 70,000 airline pilots that are over 50 years old.

Deepen a Relationship With the Stroke of a Pen

Modern envelope with a single window for the r...
Image via Wikipedia

Below is a post from Personal Branding. Do you send thank you notes?

Deepen a Relationship With the Stroke of a Pen

By Erik Deckers

The last hand-written note I ever received made such a deep impression on me that I kept it. It made such a deep impression because it was 2008, and I was caught up in the heady days of email, Twitter, and texting.

The power of the “handwritten”

So imagine my surprise and thrill when I got a hand-written envelope addressed directly to me that didn’t have the smell of an advertising or direct mail piece. Paper was passé in 2008; three years later, and it hasn’t gotten much better.

It was heavy card stock, cut to a third of a sheet of paper. The person who sent it had pre-printed her photo and contact information on it, making it her personal stationery, and written a note thanking me for our meeting.

Exuding your brand

As we immerse ourselves into the digital realm even further, the one-third sheet could make a huge difference in our networking and personal branding. While I haven’t used this myself, I’m still intrigued by the idea, and even have a template on my computer that I could print out right now. Here’s what I (and you) need to do to start using our own personalized stationery.

  1. Lay out an 8.5 x 11 page — landscape, not portrait — on your favorite page layout program. Set 3 equal columns so that when you cut it, the sheets are perfectly even — quarter-inch margins with half-inch gutters (space between the columns).
  2. At the top of each column, place your photo, phone number, email address, blog/website address, Twitter handle, LinkedIn address, plus any other important contact info. Don’t take up any more than two inches of that top space, including the margins.
  3. Send a PDF of the document to Fedex Office or other small job print house. You only need 100 sheets (300 cards) of 80 pound cardstock. Make sure they do the cutting too. Tell them you want equal thirds, but if they don’t quite line up, that’s okay, since you’re sending these one at a time. No one will know if one is slightly off from the others.
  4. Keep a small supply of #10 envelopes and some Forever stamps on hand (Forever stamps don’t have a specific price, so you can use them even after postage prices increase).
  5. Whenever you finish a meeting with someone, as soon as they (or you) leave, write them a quick thank you note, address the envelope, stick on the stamp, and drop it in the nearest mailbox right away. This works whether you’re meeting in a coffee shop, their office, your office, or at a conference.

The envelope will arrive within a day or two, and it will be a pleasant surprise for the person you met with. It will remind them of why they met with you, and will make a long lasting impression.

While you don’t necessarily have to do this for everyone you meet with, you should do it whenever you find someone you want to have a deeper, more significant relationship with. Just a quick 30 second note on a real piece of paper, in a real envelope, will carry so much more weight with the people you’re networking with than any email or tweet ever will.

Five Ways To Survive Your Inbox

Email email email

Below is a great blog post. What are your best strategies for overcoming your inbox?

5 Ways To Survive Your Inbox

Six Pixels of Separation – Marketing and Communications Insights – By Mitch Joel at Twist Image byMitchJoel on6/7/11

I love email. I hate email.

Most people probably have a similar love/hate relationship with email as they grapple daily with their inbox. In fact, I hate email… I just hate not getting email more. And, that’s the dilemma that most professionals face when it comes to their inbox. It’s gotten worse over time. Now, it’s not just emails. We get messages from FacebookLinkedInTwitter and beyond. Most of us are managing multiple inboxes across multiple platforms and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better or easier to manage. My inbox has become a never-ending game of Tetris, where emails continue to flow in and stack up to the breaking point. Many professionals have declared email bankruptcy (where they simply delete every single email from their inbox with the hopes that if the contents were truly critical, the sender will reach out them or call as a follow-up).

Most of us rely on email for critical business communications and email bankruptcy is not a legitimate option, so let’s look at five ways to master the inbox.

  1. Create folders. Some of the newer Web-based email clients do not have folders (like Gmail), but they do have “tags” (words you can use to associate multiple messages to), either way creating tags or folders are critical to getting organized. My general strategy is to create a folder for every client or project. On top of that, I create folders for each member of our team at Twist Image (in case it’s a conversation related to an individual instead of a specific project). I also have folders for HR, business development, interesting news items that may wind up becoming content fodder for my newspaper columns, Blog post, or an idea for a book. I also track trends using my inbox. If something interesting happens with Facebook, I email the link to myself and file it under Facebook in my trends folder. Using sub-folders is another way to keep your emails organized.
  2. Create rules. I set-up a lot of email alerts from places like Google Alerts or when somebody new is following me on Twitter or requesting to connect on Facebook or LinkedIn. With a couple of simple clicks on the “rules” button, you can have emails sent from a specific email address or emails that have a similar piece of content in the body of the message to redirect automatically to a pre-defined folder. This avoids inbox clutter and clog-ups. This tactic works great if you subscribe to a lot of e-newsletters as well.
  3. Get it done. In 2001, David Allen wrote the groundbreaking business book, Getting Things Done – The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. While I’m not a sworn devotee ofAllen and his techniques (I’ve managed to develop my own coping mechanisms over time), one gem of productivity insight is culled from this masterful tome: if you can get it done in 60 seconds or less, do it right away. Emails that don’t require more than a few sentences to respond to get done as soon as possible and then get filed in their specific folders (or deleted). The longer emails are attended to in-between meetings, but I will set aside one hour – every day – to deal with the emails that require more writing/thinking. Lastly, I don’t beat myself up if every email doesn’t get responded to on the same day that it was received. The non-critical messages get dealt with in due process, but I do respond to every email that requires a response.
  4. Create a hierarchy of response. During the day, clients or potential new business get responded to first, then staff, then requests for media or writing, and then family and friends (unless it’s an obvious emergency). It doesn’t matter if that rule gets broken from time to time, but it’s the spirit of: clients first, team second and everything else after that, which allows me to look at my inbox with a different perspective. Create a hierarchy of who gets responded to and in what order.
  5. Tell people – in your emails – how to work better with you. Most people have no idea how to use email. They respond to everyone on an email with a bunch of people who were only cc’d and they’ll do things like send back an email that says, “ok,” as if that adds any value to the chain of communication. You can set the ground rules by putting some insights into your signature file. I’ve seen people with signature files that not only have their contact information, but say things like, “please only respond back to me, the other people who are listed on this email are just there to be kept in the loop,” or, “there’s no need to respond to back me, I just wanted you to see this so that you are kept in the loop.” A little clarity on how you like to interact via email will help keep your inbox clutter down to a dull roar and it will also teach other people new ways that they can use their email with more efficacy.

Most people are in email hell.

It’s on their smartphones and it’s on their screens for most of their waking moments. Many people look at their email before going to the bathroom as their first act of the day and many people look at their email right before they close their eyes for the night. Some may see this as an indictment on our society’s inability to find a peaceful balance in our work-centric lives. Ultimately, the only way to really survive your inbox is to make a personal promise that you are going to better manage your technology, instead of letting your technology manage you.

What are your best strategies for overcoming your inbox?

Cold Call Tactics That Increase Sales

 

A Cold Call
Image by WolfS♡ul via Flickr

 

Below is a blog from Harvard Business Review.

Cold Call Tactics That Increase Sales
by Steve Richard

As social media and web applications have become the hottest networking tools in business, too many sales managers are burying the cold call as an obsolete business practice. If you fall in this category I’ve got news for you: the cold call is not only alive, it’s kicking. And it should be utilized by every B2B sales force.

I see far too many sales teams focus all their attention toward hosting fancy webinars or creating snazzy web-based marketing channels. Still, cold calling remains the most effective way to set up appointments with the right decision makers at your target accounts. A Fortune 50 wireless telecom company hired our firm to train their sales force in the ways of cold calls, and saw a 10% jump in revenue after implementing the tips below. Other clients have seen similar leaps in meetings or demos scheduled, from 20-100%.

So how can you convert phone tactics into actual results? Here are four cold calling tips that will make the sale:

1. Get the direct line of the person that you are cold calling. This doubles the probability of the person answering the phone.

2. Separate your cold calling into two activities: prospecting to find the right person, and call blitzing to get that person on the phone. I recommend prospecting during normal business hours (starting around 10-11:30 am) when administrative assistants are in the office and call blitzing during “call windows,” before 8:30 am and after 5:30 pm when admins are gone. Some other great times to call are five minutes before the top of the hour, catching the executives before their next conference call meetings, and holidays like President’s Day, when executives are likely to be in the office and other business may be slow.

3. Know the difference between persistence and annoyance. Follow these rules of thumb to be professional while consistently reaching out to prospects: manage the flow of information (make sure it’s a constant flow), personalize each message, vary the medium (use an alternating combination of voicemails and emails), and always add value with each subsequent touch.

4. Utilize online resources. There are so many new tools to help you out, including information sources like LinkedIn, Jigsaw, InsideView, and ZoomInfo. With ConnectAndSell you can even outsource your dialing and block an hour to sit at your desk to only talk to live prospects when they get a “connect.”

These techniques have helped us set up thousands of sales appointments with strategic executives at target companies. With a good cold calling effort, you can propel your sales team to higher productivity.

What cold-call tactics would you add to this list?

Steve Richard is co-founder and head of sales training at B2B consulting firm Vorsight. He can be reached at srichard@vorsight.com.