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August2010


Hosted Call Centers Bringing Customer Service Back to U.S. Soil


NPR recently ran a fascinating news article on the the return of call center outsourcing back to the U.S. through distributed, home-based service reps.

And for once, it was nice to see that something we’ve been evangelizing for a while now is coming to fruition: that hosted telephony and call center services increasingly provide value for companies who want to save costs on customer service and support, but want to keep reps based in the U.S.

The article states that the primary reason for the shift back from international call center outsourcing to U.S. domestic is very simple: it increases customer satisfaction, leading to longer-term customer loyalty and higher sales . . . .

In Small Business Selling, the Rule Isn’t 80/20 – It’s 98/2


Though published back in 2002, author John Warrilow’s book Drilling For Gold presents a fascinating take on the tried and true (some might say cliché) “80/20″ rule of sales and marketing—namely, that when it comes to small business selling, the rule should closer to 98/2.

Using a chart that breaks down accounts and prospects into a series of “buckets,” he demonstrates a process for evaluating the current profit levels of customers and prospects, and each account’s potential growth.

smb-eval-chart

While Warrilow states that good qualitative research should back up the basic “Profit/Potential” profile, generally speaking the trick is to expend the highest levels of time, energy, and money not with the top 20 percent, but the top 2 percent of clients and prospects—the ones who are currently highly profitable, and have a high potential to remain so.

Quick Sales Tip – Don’t Forget the Gap in “Big Account” vs. “Small Account” Technology Needs


The guys and gals up at SEO.com recently announced that they were partnering with Boostability.com to address a “hole” in their service offerings. Recognizing that up to this point the bulk of their clients had been high-level enterprise, SEO.com felt that they needed to add a service offering for locally focused, small-to-medium-sized businesses to continue [...]

“The Medium is the Message” Redux – The Targeted Sales Email


mailbox-greenYesterday we looked at how the communication medium of the telephone constrains the process and effectiveness of how we make contact on a sales call.

Today I thought we’d briefly follow-up and take a look at one of the other ubiquitous sales communication media—The Targeted Email. Understanding the “message” of the email medium can help reps write better email content, and reach more contacts.

Point one: for marketing emails, data, statistics, and facts carry better than pure emotion—but don’t ignore the emotional impact either.

In spite of the fact that hundreds of millions of them get sent every single day, we occasionally forget that an email is still, in its purest sense, a written document.

This is important, because a written medium carries a much different “sense” than other forms of media. It can be seen, referenced, re-scanned, reinterpreted at will, as long as it is front of the reader. Written text is generally perceived as more formal than other modes of communication. We naturally assume that it carries more weight—as long as it’s worth our time to begin with . . . .

Sales Call Tactics – The Medium Controls the Message


tv-old20th century Canadian scholar and media theorist Marshall McLuhan once stated that when it comes to communication, “The medium is the message.”

In his mind, it was not always the content of the message that mattered, as much as the the method in which it was delivered.

For example, a television set can deliver a broad variety of messages through the media of video and sound—sitcoms, “reality” shows, newscasts, the NFL, talk shows, cartoons, full-length feature movies, and Shark Week. However, we often forget what TV can’t control—the fact that the recipient has to receive those messages under a very specific set of conditions.

The viewer has to be in front of a television screen, tuned to the right channel, able to hear the audio portion of the broadcast, and have a minimum level of outside distractions.

Have you ever considered just how much time, money and energy we dedicate to having a “maximized TV watching experience”? If the “medium is the message,” based on its use conditions, the message of the TV medium is that it’s a big deal. An investment. An experience compelling enough for us to plan our living arrangements around its very existence.

And here’s the kicker:

A sales phone call is no different. . . . .

SEO – A Bad Web Offer Can Kill Sales Before They Start


Can you lose a sale simply by having a bad Web offer?

I think we’ve all had the experience of following a link someone sent us on Twitter or Facebook only to discover that it’s just another poorly disguised attempt at hucksterism.

You land on the page and get bombarded by a long, endless page of marketing drivel, punctuated with flashing neon sign graphics, and a late-night infomercial vibe.

While most B2B Web marketers are much more professional in their approach than this, it doesn’t mean that the concept of “the Bad Offer” can’t apply.

No matter the context, a Bad Web Conversion Offer slows down the sale, gives potential buyers a bad taste, puts them off, or even sends a good buyer to a competitor.

So what makes a Bad Web Offer?

  • It doesn’t provide any value to the visitor.
  • The process to get the perceived value (the whitepaper, webinar, free trial) takes too long, or requires too much user input.
  • There’s no compelling difference between your offer and what they could get elsewhere.
  • The presentation is sub-par, unprofessional, difficult to navigate, or just plain boring . . . .

Inside Sales Tip of the Day: “Interest is Often the Counterfeit of Need”


It’s one of the sales industry’s oldest maxims, and I told it to my lead gen reps last week: “Interest is often the counterfeit of need.” When a B2B purchaser buys it’s because they have recognized the importance and necessity—the need— of solving a particular problem, and doing it now. Interest can, of course, be [...]

Inside Sales Tip: Treat a Sales Appointment Like a Corporate Meeting, Part II


whistle-nIn yesterday’s blog post, we discussed the idea of considering a sales appointment as an extension of a regular corporate meeting. We looked at understanding the type of meeting you should engage in and the purpose for it, and the first of two critical components, having an agenda.

Today’s post will cover the need for a meeting to have an effective referee, and the culture you should establish for your sales appointments with your prospects.

In Review:

Part I

1. Decide whether an appointment is about alignment or creation.
2.1. “A meeting has two critical components: [one of them is] an agenda.”

Part II

2.2. “A meeting has two critical components: [the other one is] a referee.”

First, let’s be clear: the onus always falls on you, the sales rep, to be the referee of a meeting, because you control the flow of information . . . .

Inside Sales Tip: Treat a Sales Appointment Like a Corporate Meeting, Part I


phone-screen-smAuthor Michael Lopp, blogging under the pseudonym “Rands in Repose,” presented an outstanding treatise this morning on how to run a meeting that brilliantly captures the essence of your average corporate pow-wow—but also contains some striking parallels to sales appointment setting.

What is a “sales cycle” after all, if nothing more than a series of “mini-meetings,” each designed to progress the sale and provide value for both parties?

Not every process works the same obviously, but as Lopp states, a good corporate meeting should decide whether it is about alignment or creation, should have both an agenda and a referee, and should avoid creating a culture of “having meetings for having a meeting’s sake.”

And all three ideas are eminently applicable to sales appointments . . . .

The 2 Lead Routing Criteria that Produce More Sales


leads-3d-graph-smAt some point, every sales manager on the planet has heard a sales rep gripe about how and when they’re getting their leads.

“Who’s deciding this?”

“Why aren’t I getting more leads?”

“Why aren’t I getting more leads from industry X / hot leads / leads for large accounts?”

Most companies struggle to find and keep a consistent stream of good, warm leads, and handing out a fresh, qualified lead can almost feel like an event in and of itself—but that doesn’t mean a rep asking these questions is out of line.

However the decision is made, the fact is that lead distribution is a selection process. Somewhere along the way, someone is making a decision about how leads are being handed out. Even if the decision is totally random / ad hoc, that’s still a decision . . . .