You want to get married? We haven’t had a date yet.

At Selling Power, Founder and Publisher Gerhard Gschwandtner penned a brief online article about meeting buyers at the right time. He suggests an ideal scenario in which our sales hero enters a coffee shop and just happens to start up a conversation with a buyer who needs exactly what he has to sell. It got me thinking about the importance of timing in the sales process.

It is the dream sales situation, isn’t it? You meet a buyer at the exact moment that they have a thorny problem to solve. You just happen to have the ideal solution. You get along instantly; they want to hear more. There’s no haggling over price. This buyer is desperate to eradicate the pain and solve the problem. He’ll pay practically anything. You zip on over to the buyer’s office to complete an agreement that is approved by legal in minutes. Oh, and they cut you a check in advance to get the process started. A few short hours after that fateful coffee shop meeting, you walk away with a six figure deal.

Uh huh…let’s get real.

It rarely works this way in the real world. In the real world, we meet people all the time that would benefit from using our products and services. The problem is that we know it, but they don’t yet. It’s tempting to want to convince them, right now, that a problem is looming on their horizon. But timing is a tricky thing. Jump to fast, push too hard and too soon…bye, bye sales opportunity. When it comes to using social networking tools to expand their sales reach, I’m certain that this is a lesson that many sales people are destined to learn the hard way. Some, no doubt, already have.

Stay visible.

Technology provides limitless opportunities for the sales people who recognize that timing is everything in sales. When the buyer is ready to buy, these savvy social sales people want that buyer to think of them first! That’s why they remain focused on the bigger picture. Core elements of their process include building strong networks and cultivating sales opportunities by providing “value” in advance of the sale. That value can be anything from targeted information that benefits the buyer in their job, white papers about trends in their industry, relevant blog posts or connections to peers in their field.

To succeed in the social sales world, sales people (and their management!) need to accept that no one gets married without being courted first. Be patient and take the time to court your prospective buyer until they are ready to walk down the aisle. How you approach the courtship will say volumes about what happens after you both say, “I do”.

Hey Sales Leaders…It’s Time for an Upgrade

Yesterday, I talked about social selling. What it is and why it is important for sales executives to pay attention. Given the confusion around the meaning of Sales 2.0, I thought it would be a good idea to clarify the dialog, because the terms Sales 2.0 and social selling are often used interchangeably.

Often described as the use of better, technology-enabled sales practices to improve speed to close, team collaboration, strategic accountability and customer engagement, Sales 2.0 signifies an evolution in the approach to the sales process. Today’s buyer can circumvent your company’s fancy marketing programs and advertising to find out anything they want to about you through their social networks.

Yes, technology can increase the gains in sales-to-close conversion, but technology is only a portion of the equation. There is an attitude that must be cultivated and adopted in companies – and specifically sales organizations - of all sizes and industries, which recognize that Sales 2.0 is – at its core - is about helping sales people spend more time with their customers.

Isn’t that what every company wants? Continue reading

Fear or Just Ignorance?

An Atlanta executive who ought to know better (psst, not the guy to the left!) is now informing his business community that social media is worthless. He believes no results are likely to be had, and he smugly insists that the social web and all that it implies is a passing fad guaranteed to fade into the night.


Not only does this executive do disservice to himself, what about his clients? These are the business leaders who rely on his vast knowledge, experience and future vision. Not just because they trust him, but because they pay him. That’s his job. Provide time crunched business owners with the resources, counsel and tools they need to succeed with their business – today and tomorrow.

That’s the rub really…people who dismiss what they don’t understand. These folks are part of the “it didn’t work for me, so it can’t work for anybody” club. That’s a real shame.

Here’s the deal…social media provides leverage that all businesses can capitalize on. With the right strategy as the underpinning, the time you invest in putting your social media plan into action will more than give you the return on investment you want.

The Why of Social Media

The explosion of social media into mainstream consciousness has seemingly come from nowhere. Though it may be new to you, the social media groundswell has been building for some time, and it’s fair to say that the buzz right now is deafening.

While there is a growing familiarity with tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, blogs and YouTube, here are 5 questions being asked in companies large and small about the business reasons for using social media:

1. Why should we care?
2. Where do we start?
3. What technology should we be using?
4. How do we manage the information?
5. How will we measure effectiveness?

As with any new business undertaking, questions like these (and more) definitely need to be answered. Here are the reasons that I believe it is important to pay attention.

Why You Should Care

These days your prospects are surfing the net, reading blogs, participating in forums and group discussions, asking for product and services referrals from their social networks and joining on-line communities.

Even if you wanted to “opt out”, choosing instead to use outdated approaches to sales and marketing, your potential customers - and your savvy competitors - are most definitely going to be online.

Your prospects are tuned in to what they want, what’s available, where to purchase and how much to spend. The bigger the sale, the more educated they will be.

With 66% of the 38 million LinkedIn users deemed “key decision maker”,175+ million people on Facebook (31% over the age of 35), and millions more conversing over Twitter, you can’t ignore the opportunity. The name of the game then is visibility. If you aren’t participating online, you are missing huge opportunities to reach an audience you would otherwise not be able to connect with in an easy and cost effective way.

How to Get Started

If you are just getting your feet wet with regard to social media, you are most likely approaching it backwards, as most do. Companies are typically approaching the social computing world by looking first at the nifty, whiz bang technologies available. Could be a tweet here, a blog there, a LinkedIn profile, a Facebook fan page or a few YouTube video’s thrown up on the website- to achieve their sales and marketing goal. That is a mistake! People, purpose and plan first - technology last -should be the mantra of every business interested in succeeding with social media.


As with any hot trend, people are clamoring to get on board the social media gravy train. Yet as many have already discovered, having an online profile doesn’t mean you are using social media effectively to market your business or increase your sales. People are floundering in the online space for many of the same reasons they probably flounder around with their current sales and networking approach. They don’t have a plan!

Your plan starts with “narrowing” and “clearly defining” your target audience. Here’s a hint…your audience is NOT everyone with a pulse. Though it seems counterintuitive to some, the more you narrow your market, the faster you gain traction, which then leads to more sales of your products and services.

The key with choosing the right technology is making sure you know EXACTLY what results you want to achieve. You certainly need to understand what tools are available, but that’s the last thing you really need to focus your attention on. Once you know who your audience is, where they live online and what you want to happen once you get in front of them, you are then well positioned to use an online tool best suited for your purpose.

Managing the Flow

I’m known for saying that it is up to “you” to manage technology, not the other way around. Dashboard tools like Digsby help you watch your email, Facebook page, Twitter account, LinkedIn profile and more without having to web surf the individual sites. TweetDeck gives you the ability to keep on top of all that is happening in your Twitter world. And tools like Ping and HelloText let you create a post once that updates multiple sites of your choosing all at the same time. The point is that you shouldn’t let the “fear” of too much information stop you from getting on board. There are lots of great tools to help with the information management flow.

Measuring the ROI

Like anything else in business, you need to be sure that you are measuring effectiveness and results to ensure that you get the greatest return on your effort. In the March 23rd edition of Information Week, TransUnion reported as estimated $2.5 million in savings in less than five months. Did I mention that you first need a plan? In TransUnion’s case, their cost savings showed up in a reduction of software services purchases. Using an internal social networking platform, employees were able to brainstorm ways to more effectively utilize what they already had, thus reducing the need to buy more.

Companies of all sizes will benefit from having clearly defined objectives that you can then track your progress against. If one of your goals is to increase product sales on your website, you will want to track HOW people find you. Was it the blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, a Facebook ad, or that amazing sales article your sales manager just wrote? You can use tools like Google Analytics to help you track how many visitors visit your website, as well as give you clues as to what they focused on they got there.


Remember that social media and the world of social networking are here to stay. See it as a threat or an opportunity. It’s your choice!

My 3G and Me

If you would have told me last fall that I would now be the proud owner of an Apple iPhone 3G, I probably would have laughed. From the commercials I saw, it certainly looked like a cool, whiz bang phone, but my Windows Palm Pilot was working just fine thank you. Then, I didn’t see the need to take time to exit out of my existing phone contract and spend extra bucks just to buy another “phone”.

Isn’t funny how we often don’t know we need something until we finally have it?

AT&T did some fairly brilliant marketing just before Christmas and that led to a note one day from my boyfriend that said…”If you were to get an iPhone, would you want it in black or white?” Naturally, I was intrigued. It seems that AT&T was offering existing current customers an offer to add a line and purchase the phone at some ridiculously low price (seriously, under $100) if the deal was done by Christmas. Figuring I had nothing to lose - I could always return within the allotted time and go back to my other phone - I gave it a whirl. Within minutes of having it in my hot little hands, I was hooked.

Now that I’ve really had some time to play, here are the top 5 reasons I can’t live without my iPhone:

1. Email that is instant on. The Palm was a bit of a pain when it came to downloading email. I had to take the time to log in, download mail and then try to read it on a screen so small as to make it painful to try and read anything. I love that I can quickly check on messages in the morning without having to ramp up my laptop, the bigger screen makes reading messages pretty easy, and I admit that it’s nice to be able to check mail during the day if I feel so inclined.

2. Shazam. I’m a fan of movies and music. It wasn’t unusual for me to get excited about a movie soundtrack, promise myself that I would search it out on the internet so I could buy it, but then forget all about it later after the movie ended. Truth is, my attention span can be pretty short sometimes:) Shazam takes this into consideration, because this funky little app gives you immediate gratification. Here’s how it works. When you hear music that you like you simply hold the phone up the speakers so Shazam can “listen” and capture a clip that it then uses to find the music on iTunes. Once found, you can immediately download the music to your iPod application. Sure, it costs $.99 but who cares? Instant gratification is worth the price of admission.

3. Twitterrific and Twitter Trend. These both have to do with Twitter, which is why I chose to combine them. I love that I don’t have to go to my computer to “log into” Twitter. Twitterrific lets me keep up with the stream of tweets at my leisure. I can easily see what people are talking about, read cool articles, watch video’s or roll my eyes when I see yet another MLM email from someone who doesn’t get it. For a quick read on the top trends, I turn to Twitter Trend. In a few seconds flat, I can zero in on the hottest topics in Twitter Land.

4. Phone Flix. Until yesterday - seriously! - I pretty much never updated my NetFlix account. My super cool boyfriend basically set it up and managed it for me, because I was just too lazy to stay on top of it. Plus, I knew he’d do it for me anyway so… Anywho, during the Atlanta snowstorm yesterday as we were hanging out, I decided to give the Phone Flix app a try. It was SO easy! I didn’t even have to log in…I’m guessing Mark set that up for me too:). I was in my account in seconds and had fun moving movies around in my queue and scheduling new ones to arrive.

5. Dog Whistle. I love my dogs, Shorty & Murphy, but darn it…they have an uncanny ability to know just when I’m jumping on the telephone for an important call. They can be quiet as little meeces all day long until that very second when I dial my call. Enter Dog Whistle from AugWare. After tuning to the right frequency - the one that catches the attention of your dogs - this nifty little app emits a whistle every time the dogs bark. Now don’t get me wrong…there are many times I WANT them to bark but NOT when I need to be on the phone.

Well, there you have it. Barb’s 5 reasons why my 3G and me will never be apart.

Technology Is Sometimes Maddening

Just when I think I’ve got it all figured out, something else comes along to stump me. No wonder those without a lot of tech ability get frustrated. I understand. But since I’m making it my business to help others learn how to use technology bolster their sales and marketing efforts, it’s important I try things and get them figured out.

Why when I imported text from my old blog to the new one did it run everything together? I’ve tried several things to fix it, but no luck yet. Ah well…what’s life without a few challenges now and again?

Toys Toys Toys - What Christmas Fun I’m Having

Yikes, it is early as I write. Our darling dog, Murphy - an adorable and mischievous 2 year old black lab - gave us a 5:30 wake up call this morning. Who knows why. Murph does things for his own reasons, not mine or anyone else’s. As my boyfriend and I are fond of saying, “It’s Murphy’s world and we just live in it”. Even his brother, Shorty gets worn out sometimes, but more to come on the adventures of the black and tan brothers.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m usually an early bird, but on this particular Friday - the day after Christmas- I have no particular place to be. Sleeping in, just a tad, would have been nice:)

Christmas was just plain fun, and I’m happy to say that I am now the proud owner of several new technology toys. In my possession is a brand spanking new IPhone 3G, an Eee PC and a Snowball for podcasting.

The gifts were fun for two reasons:

1) I do love technology. Not just for the sheer geekness of it all - even though I am a closet geek - but I absolutely love what it can do for us used in smart ways.

2) I firmly believe that how we promote ourselves, build our networks, and expand our potential customer markets to sell more of our products and services requires the integration of technology into how we work.

I have a particular passion for both the art of the sale and technology, and I totally believe that if you happen to be of the old school sales mindset who believes that nothing helps you close a sale like a face to face meeting, you are bound to find yourself irrelevant in relatively quick fashion.

Here are 3 reasons you need to integrate technology into your daily sales process:

1. You can build a much larger network.

A potential client of mine (I ultimately decided they weren’t the right client for me) actually said that “because their reps sold to people outside of their geography, they didn’t need to network locally”. I think that’s completely stupid and that comment is perhaps a good indication of why their sales team will end their year at 30% of quota. One critical element of successful selling is networking. Even if your particular sales geography is not where you live, you still need to be out in the community meeting people. It’s good for the company first and foremost. More importantly, you just never know who you will meet who can connect you to the client you want to reach.

The truth is these reps aren’t networking online either - equally stupid. If you are selling to people who live outside your sales geography, do I really need to explain why you have to be online? These folks need to get a clue.

2. It’s not who you know, but who knows you.

Competition on practically all fronts is fierce. The way to get yourself known outside your itty bitty circle is to be online. Participate in blogs, appropriate business forums, write articles, network with other people, create podcasts…whatever it is you need to find a medium that works for you and get yourself known. Don’t get hung up on whether you can write well or not. If articles aren’t for you then spend time daily answering and posing questions in groups liked LinkedIn and others. Not only will you grow your own knowledge of trends and issues in your industry, but you have the opportunity to position yourself as a knowledgeable expert. Of course, that means you need to take the time to craft well thought out answers.

By the way, these days a lot of your potential clients will Google your name to find out more about you. The more you are seen in cyber land - provided you don’t present yourself as an idiot out there on the lunatic fringe - the more credibility you have with them.

3. Buying decisions are no longer made just by the boomers.

While the boomer generation may be more used to meeting with you in person or on the phone, the younger workers live online. As more and more of them become the key decision makers, you better be there. If you aren’t using - or at least aware - of the technologies they are using to ask for advice on everything from finding the right job to the right product or service to buy, you’re dead. Sales is about building relationships, which essentially means being able to relate to others. If you can’t speak the lingo of this new world, how can you expect them to trust you enough to want to buy what you have to offer?

Regardless where you are on the knowledge scale of technology, commit yourself to learning something new every day. Read books, listen to audio casts, watch YouTube videos, put up a Facebook page, start a Twitter account, create your own blog…whatever - do something, get going, have fun!