Sales Guys, Take a Cue from The Donald

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Adam Honig has a great post on Trump’s style and how you (as a salesperson) can borrow a couple of tips to close more deals.

Let me say unequivocally that I’m definitely NOT a Trump supporter nor will I be voting for him – even for dogcatcher. But there’s still something to be learned from his disruptive antics that every legendary sales guy/gal needs to recognize on his or her road to glory.

Source: Sales Guys, Take a Cue from The Donald

Door-to-Door Selling as the First Step to Billions

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This article is by Gillian Zoe Segal, the author of Getting There: A Book of Mentors.

Before you shell out $160,000 on a business school education, you might want to consider spending a couple of years as a door-to-door salesman instead. That’s what I learned as I researched and wrote my new book, Getting There: A Book of Mentors, in which 30 leaders in a broad range of fields tell about their rocky road to the top. I was surprised to find out how many of them credited early shoe-leather sales jobs for equipping them with the skills they needed for their ultimate success.

 John Paul DeJoria (Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images)

John Paul DeJoria, co-founder of the Patrón Spirits Company and John Paul Mitchell Systems, called his three-year stint selling Collier’s Encyclopedia one of the most formative experiences of his life. “If that job existed today,” he says, “I would make every one of my kids do it.” DeJoria went door-to-door persuading strangers to buy a set of encyclopedias. This forced him to both hone his powers of persuasion and overcome rejection. “After you’ve had 15 doors slammed in your face,” he explained, “you need to be as enthusiastic at door number 16 as you were at the first door, if you want to make a sale.”  When DeJoria launched John Paul Mitchell Systems, he relied on the same skills, going from beauty salon to beauty salon getting people to purchase his hair care products. He recounts that at least four out of every five salons turned him downbut he knew better than to let that discourage him.

Sara Blakely, the billionaire founder of the shapewear company Spanx, had a similar experience in her eight years working for a company that sold fax machines door-to-door. She recalled, “I would wake up in the morning and drive around cold-calling from eight until five. Most doors were slammed in my face. I saw my business card ripped up at least once a week, and I even had a few police escorts out of buildings. It wasn’t long before I grew immune to the word ‘no.’” When she started Spanx, she needed to find someone to make a prototype of her product, and she began by telephoning local hosiery mills. Without exception, they turned her down. So she drew on a lesson she had learned from cold-calling: Face-to-face makes a huge difference. She took a week off of work and drove around North Carolina, popping by many of the same mills that had already rejected her on the phone. She sat in the lobby and waited to speak to the founder or owner. It eventually worked, and the Spanx prototype was born.

From cold-calling, Blakely also learned that you have about 15 seconds to capture someone’s attention—but if you can make them smile or laugh, you get an extra 15 to 30. With no money to grab people’s attention the conventional way, through advertising, she decided to infuse her product with humor wherever she could, from naming it Spanx to writing “We’ve got your butt covered!” on the package. She ended up turning Spanx into something people love to joke about. Her product has been mentioned everywhere from The Oprah Winfrey Show to Gleefor free.

The artist Jeff Koons cut his teeth selling candy door-to-door and then moved on to hawking everything from soft drinks on a local golf course to memberships at the Museum of Modern Art, and mutual funds. “Selling is kind of like fishing” he explained. “To be successful, you have to be persistent and patient.” He is now the most commercially successful artist alive, but it took him nine years after graduating from art school to make enough money from his art to give up having a second job.  Calling on the persistence and patience he had perfected as a salesman, he slowly broke into the art scene by saying yes to any invitation that might give him the opportunity to network, showing his work to anyone who would look, and never refusing an opportunity to exhibit.

During her early modeling years, Kathy Ireland sold herself door-to-door. She explained, “Back then, agencies would send models on ‘go-sees’ to get jobs. The people in charge of hiring would look us up and down and dissect us right in front of our faces. I was rejected a lot. It hurt at first, but I soon learned that it was just part of the process.” She eventually became a successful Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, but as she got older she wanted to pursue a career that was not dependent on her looks. After years of failing with various start-ups (a microbrewery, a skin-care line, and several art projects), she finally launched her own brand, kathy ireland Wordlwide, with a line of socks. It is now a $2 billion enterprise with its name on more than 15,000 products. Ireland frequently advises others, “If you never fail, it means you are not trying hard enough.”

Writing my book, I learned how much success in any field depends on persistence, not fearing failure, and getting others to follow your ideas. What better way could there be to acquire these essential traits than by actually hitting the street?

How To Do An Elevator Pitch

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If you’ve ever been given 30 seconds to answer the questions “What do you do?” you already understand the importance of having a quick, concise and memorable intro. I’ll give you mine and then break the components down so you can see the theory behind the verbiage:

“What I do – is use the Internet … to make the phone ring; or make people walk into your business. I’m not a ‘Web Guy’ so I do NOT need you have a terrific website; or even a website at all for that matter.

“I get my clients because they’re frustrated at putting so much effort into Google or Facebook or Twitter or Yelp – and it doesn’t seem to help them SELL MORE of whatever they’re into. That’s what I do, and I’m really good at it 🙂

“The most common kind of client for me is someone who owns their own business – who has a great reputation because they are awesome at what they do – and wants their phone to ring more.”

There are a couple of elements that are worth pointing out here:

1. An immediate reference to the WII-FM radio station we all listen to right off the bat. (That’s “What’s In It For ME” in case you’re not familiar with that acronym. It’s probably the most important thing you can learn in sales.)

2. An answer to my most common objection right up front.

3. A “quick pinch” to get them to feel the pain that I solve. Key word: “frustrated”.

4. A “low-hanging fruit” reference to close up – if that’s them, there’s a chance they’ll self-refer; if not, it leaves the door open for a referral conversation.

I use a version of this introduction at BNI, Chambers of Commerce, cocktail parties or just while having a beer with friends. It’s low-key but straight to the point. Take these elements and craft your own – make it fit your style and personality; that’s the key!

Now get out there and go sell something 😉

Changes to Google Places Dashboard

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I was on SearchEngineLand and came across a great article by Myles Anderson, the Founder & CEO of BrightLocal.com. BrightLocal provides local SEO tools for local businesses; see their Research section for the latest findings about the local search market. I’m resposting his 10 tips you need to be implementing today in your Google+ Local initiative if you want to continue to be found  by your customers.

Recently, Google announced some significant changes to their Google Places dashboard. The wires have been humming ever since, and the reaction has ranged from fall-off-seat excitement to ‘humph, is that it!?’

Places for Business Dashboard

Dashboard images: Local Search Forum

Whatever the opinion, the truth is that these changes signify a big development in the way Google handles ‘Local.’ Google has been talking up the importance of local for an age, and the increased real estate given to local results in SERPs backs this up. They have also updated and iterated their local product almost more than their main search product in the last 12 months.

But, despite this rhetoric and commitment, Google has given scant attention to how SMBs use and manage their data within maps/Google+ Local.

Tuesday’s announcement changes this. The new ‘Places for Business’ dashboard is all about making life easier and clearer for SMBs to manage their data and promotion within Google’s local products (Maps/Mobile/+Local), and they have really put some thought into solving the backend issues and providing a helpful, consolidated interface.

Hang on… before I go too far with the praise, let me make one thing very clear. This update is also designed to make it easy for SMBs to purchase Adwords Express. Google has struggled to monetize ‘Local,’ and this update puts AdWords Express front and center on the dashboard in the hope that SMBs will start to spend more with them. ‘Google the Benevolent?’ (Yeah, right…)

Listed below are ten things SEOs and SMBs should know about the new dashboard.

1.  Phased Rollout – Many Changes Still To Come

This update has addressed a number of issues which have confused and frustrated SEOs and SMBs for years; but it has not improved all issues and niggles. This is very much a v1.0 for the new dashboard, and there are many more improvements to come over the coming months.

2.  Only Available To New Profiles Or Newly Verified Profiles

The new dashboard is only available for new listings (newly created or newly verified) and not for existing, verified listings. As soon as a listing is verified, they will get access to the new dashboard. However, those of us with existing verified listings will have to wait until the rollout reaches us.

Also, the dashboard is only currently available in the US. Once rollout is complete in the US, then it will jump across to other territories. There’s no clear timeline on this; so, it’s a case of carry on doing what you’re doing and wait till Christmas arrives!

3.  Easier, Faster, Clearer Update Route For Google+ Local Page

This change is a huge improvement – and a big thumbs-up to Google for sorting this out!

The current/old dashboard had a slow and tenuous link to the Google+ Local page with changes made in the old dashboard taking a long time to show up on the visible Google+ listing.

The new dashboard feeds data directly into Google’s updated ‘knowledge graph’ data structure. This enhanced structure makes management of data within Google better, and Google puts more trust in this data.

The upshot for SMBs is that any changes made via the dashboard have greater trust and should go live on their Google+ Local page faster – within 48 hours, according to various sources.

4.  Verification Process Still The Same

Thumbs down on this one, I’m afraid!

The verification process for listings is still the same. Businesses still need to get a PIN via mail, SMS or phone call and enter this into their listings so they can take control of their listing.

But, there is a clearer process for disputed listings. If you want to take control of a listing which is currently claimed into a different Google account. there is a clear, stepped appeal process. Listings can no longer be claimed into multiple accounts, which will greatly reduce confusion over listing ownership and administration.

It also appears (fingers firmly crossed) as if this process is going to be overseen by a dedicated customer support team, which would be a hugely welcome change.

already-claimed-conflict

Image courtesy of Mike Blumenthal

5.  Helpful Interface Guides Users To Make Right Choices

The new interface incorporates contextual, inline tips and advice on how best to complete the various fields. There are actually less fields to complete, which means less customization options (a real bugbear for many SEOs), but at least Google makes it clearer how best to complete the fields so SMBs don’t contravene the rules and suffer the consequences!

6.  Don’t Merge Your Google Local Listing With Your Google+ Local Page Yet

Google advises that if a business is considering merging their old Google Local Listing with their Google+ Local page, they should wait. This process is still riddled with issues, but there is light breaking on the horizon.

In due course, the new dashboard will incorporate an ‘Upgrade’ button which will make this process smoother. So, unless you have a burning need to tackle this merge now, you should hold fire for the time being.

7.  SMBs Need A Google+ Profile To Update Video & Social Elements

All core business info can be updated from the new dashboard. Updates should go live within 48hours, except for photos. Photos will take longer, and it’s still faster to add photos as a user rather than a business owner. Google has acknowledged this issue and will improve the process and speed in due course.

However, if a business owner wants to add video to their listing or manage their social stream, they need to have a personal Google+ profile. Given that lack of personalization options within Google+ Local, having some videos about your business and publishing tips/updates/ideas in Google+ can really strengthen the appeal of your business to a potential customer who visits your Google+ Local listing.

Google is not going to give up on its Google+ play, so it’s time for SMBs to embrace it!

8.  Service Area Businesses (SABs) Get A Google+ Local Page For 1st Time

At last!! Google is, at last, acknowledging the existence of SABs and now enables them to have a Google+ Local page and to hide their address if they wish. There are additional settings for service area and a neat check-box so a business can positively state if they also serve customers at their location.

Service Area Businesses in Google+ Local

Image below courtesy of Mike Blumenthal.

Coupled to this is a wider range of contact options – including email – which will help SABs even more.

9.  Select Up To 10 Categories To List In, But No More Custom Categories

The new dashboard allows SMBs to list themselves in more categories than before. They can select up to 10 categories – chosen from a pre-defined list; but, they can’t create custom categories any more (although older listings with custom cats may remain).

Select up to 10 categories in new Places for Business Dashboard

Select 10 categories – Courtesy of Mike Blumenthal

The dashboard incorporates inline guidance on what correct categories are vs. incorrect – it’s almost like Google has thought about what a user might enter and pro-actively given some advice on how to get it right – amazing! 

10.  Analytics Still Sucks!

There is no improvement in the data reported on your Google+ listing. You still get approximate views, clicks and call-to-action. This is a real shame, as Google as the power to supercharge reporting in Places, but continues to de-prioritize this aspect.

The interface for reporting looks like it has improved (although, I’m yet to see a screen shot which actually contains any data on the insights tab, so I can’t be 100% sure); but, the data reported on has not changed.

Postscript: Sources & References

The following sites were used for research and reference in writing this post. Many thanks to their owners and writers for great coverage and for making my life easier!

  1. Blumenthals.com – Visual Guide to the new Places for Business Dashboard
  2. Blumenthals.com – Google rolling out new update to Google Places for Business
  3. Local Search Forum – Major update – new Google Places Dashboard – All-in-one Local Listing Management
  4. Google – More details about the improved look and feel of Places for Business Support Pages
  5. Blumenthals.com – Categories in new Places for Business Dashboard

What Are You Doing Now?

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I’ve been getting this question a lot over the last few days since I changed my LinkedIn profile to reflect my new work affiliation. I thought I’d take the opportunity to talk a little about how excited I am to be working with RevLocal and what makes this group exceptional in the marketplace.

First, I came to realize that there were several things about what I was doing that weren’t really aligning with my long-term career vision:

  • To provide an ongoing, increasingly valuable service to my clients – revolving around helping them sell more product / get more clients
  • To be able to work with any kind of client regardless of their industry or location around the world.
  • To leverage technology in helping clients market and sell their products, but not be tied to one particular technology or tool.
  • To be able to build a sales organization around the service I provide, creating potential opportunities for the quality sales professionals I know.
  • To have the freedom to grow my business my own way.

This brings me to RevLocal. Over the past several years I’ve done a ton of work with websites, mobile marketing and social media. I’ve had clients hire me directly to work on their online exposure and have worked with many awesome, cutting-edge tools. Affiliating with RevLocal gives my clients access to a scalable infrastructure with a deep bench of expertise in social media, location enhancement and mobile traffic generation. Because they’ve been in the internet space since the days of Sysops and BBSs (think AOL Online and CompuServe for those of you too young to know those acronyms), they have several assets that create a formidable competitive advantage for my clients:

  • Deep SEO / SEM / PPC expertise
  • Call center sophistication
  • Skilled engineering staff
  • Experienced IT Team with demonstrated skills and capacity
  • Strong existing cash flow with no venture capital considerations

Bottom line: If you are trying to sell more product, get more clients, generate more traffic – or have a client who is, this platform is the most cost-effective industrial-strength offering I’ve found in the market today. I know that’s a strong statement – but I challenge you to  have me back that up.

Visit their site at http://revlocal.com to learn more about their approach, values and resources. As always, feel free to ping me with questions and ideas!

How to Increase Sales on your Website

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People have a very short attention span online these days. That’s why you have to make every attempt to be as clear and concise as possible with your website. It’s very easy for people to move on to a different website if they can’t find what they’re looking for right away.

All they have to do is press the “back” button and they’re off to the next website.

In fact, the industry average conversion rate for an e-commerce website is somewhere around 2 to 3 percent, meaning that only 2 or 3 out of 100 people that visit a website actually end up buying anything. There are several small improvements you can make that all add up to make a big impact.

Here are five things small business owners can do to improve their website’s conversion rate:

Source: http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/inc-well/How-to-Increase-Sales-on-Your-Website-192314801.html#ixzz2LjuZEByX