Want 5 Minutes of My Time? Then Don’t Ask Me for a Meeting

Like almost everyone with an email address today, I get a lot of email. I’m not just talking 20-30 new emails each day; I’m talking 100-200 new emails per day. To some of you out there, that may not seem like a lot, but to me – as someone who cannot leave a single unread email in her inbox – it is. If it weren’t for my trusty spam filter, I’d invariably loose my mind among the announcements, the solicitations, the offers, and on and on. Now please note, the majority of the email I receive is work-related, from my colleagues, and quite important to my daily workload, and there’s nothing I can do, or want to do about that. In order to stay on top of the latest industry news, competitor announcements, and other relevant information, I also subscribe to and receive emails several times a day from various industry-related Google Alerts, RSS feeds, Twitter alerts, LinkedIn Group threads, and industry relevant newsletters and announcements. So, even though I receive a ton of email each day, at least it’s email that I’m choosing to receive (minus the email that my trusty spam filter takes care of) and quite relevant to my daily routine. But, sometimes that’s not the case …

As the Online Marketing & Social Media Manager at Binary Tree, I often (and by often I mean everyday, multiple times a day) receive emails from Sales Reps who want to meet with me. I receive the old …”I just need 5 minutes of your time …”, or “ …I’d like to tell you how we can help you …”, and my personal favorite, “…I’m reaching out to you because I believe that your company is a great fit for a partnership …”. As a former Sales Professional, I completely understand that these folks are just doing their jobs. It’s tough out there and they have high quotas to make quarter-after-quarter. It’s definitely interesting to now be on the receiving end of a sales solicitation, and even more interesting to understand how the people I emailed and called (over-and-over) asking for a meeting must have felt. I used to send the same emails and use the same words and phrases like, “5 minutes of your time” and “partnership”. Sometimes it worked, but most of the time I was ignored, and now that I’m on the vendor side of the table, I have a much clearer insight into what a Sales Rep might be able do to get “5 minutes of my time”.

Don’t ask for a meeting Yes, you’ve done some research on my company, my industry, and my competition. You studied and combed through every page on my website. You know my boss’s name and job title and where I used to work. You know and work with some of my former colleagues. You even know where I went to college. All of this is very good stuff to know. It helps you get some insight into who I am and the “who, what, where, and why” about my company, how we work, and our possible needs. But knowing this information and how it possibly relates to your service and/or product doesn’t mean that I’ll meet with you. Just like you, I have my own “quotas” to reach. Not necessarily quarterly and yearly numbers to make, but projects and tasks that I’m accountable for and need to complete every week, every month, and every year. So, like you, I’m busy. I’m busy having meetings, making calls, creating documents, maintaining blogs, installing systems, instituting processes, and on-and-on. I carve out each hour of each day on my Outlook calendar and leave myself very little wiggle room. Any “5 minutes” that I may find during the day will most likely be spent pouring another cup of coffee or throwing a Pop Tart in the toaster. Just like you, I have deadlines to meet in order to be successful.

If you want to get my attention – if you want my precious 5 minutes – then you have to “wow” me with some compelling information. I need something that I can forward to my boss, his boss, and my Executive team that will distract them enough from their even busier day and make them say, “…that’s some very persuasive information, let’s meet with them.” Asking me for a meeting without nurturing me first with drips of information that can impact our bottom line and help us compete with our competition at a higher level is KEY to getting my 5 minutes. For example:

  1. Tell me how my top 3 competitors increased their sales last quarter by using your services and/or product.
  2. Send me a graphic that illustrates what I can expect to see over time if I purchase your services and/or product.
  3. Give me examples of who’s using your services and/or product, how they’re using it, and the positive impact it’s having on their bottom lines.

Nurturing me with that type of information – surprising me every once in a while with information that can impact our overall revenue – is what I want to receive. Then, if that information is compelling enough, you may ask for my 5 minutes. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time.Want 5 Minutes of My Time?

Don’t tell me that you know some guy I used to work with – In the day and age of social media, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+, everybody knows someone that knows someone. Heck, I follow Bill Gates on Twitter, but I don’t claim to know the guy. In a world where anyone can be connected to everyone, using the “I know someone you know” sales tactic isn’t going to fly. However, approaching it differently by saying something like, “ …we were able to increase <insert person’s name here> and their company’s revenue by x dollars …”, well then maybe you have a chance. But simply stating that you know someone that I know (or even just barely know) isn’t going to get you my 5 minutes.

Don’t tell me you contacted my boss – Telling me that you reached out to my boss or plan on reaching out to my boss isn’t going to stop me dead in my tracks and respond to you. I can assure you; my boss is just as busy – in fact he’s even busier – than I am. Unless he receives the same persuasive and compelling information from time-to-time that I discuss above, he’s not going to waste my time.

Don’t tell me my company is a great fit for a partnership – I know you did your homework. You read through each page of my company’s website, you’re familiar with our products and services, you know our competitors, and you know what we develop and sell. Yes, “partnership” sounds much nicer than saying, “your company is a great fit to buy our products and/or services”. But honestly, how do I know if we’re a “great fit” for your offering and if we should enter into a “partnership” with you if you don’t tell me how your offering will help my company, for example, increase market share? It’s like casting out a fishing rod. You cast it out in an place where you know there’s fish and bait the hook with what you know the fish likes and is interested in eating. When you finally get a fish to bite, you start reeling the fish in – you reel in a bit, and release a bit, you reel in a little bit more, and then release again – you perform this action until you have the fish in your boat. This analogy is critical – you need to “bait” me with what I like, and slowly, over time, you’ll get me in your boat.

Don’t forward me things you think I might be interested in – We never spoke on the phone and we never met, so what would make you think that I might be interested in information on an upcoming webinar or trade show? Again, the only way I’ll be interested in attending one of your webinars or meeting up with you at a trade show is if you can first educate me with the compelling information I need to persuade me to give up my “5 minutes”.

Again, I completely understand the plight of the Sales Rep. It’s hard out there and people can be brutal and rude. I, too, fell prey to the pitfalls I discuss above and often felt quite discouraged by the lack of responses (and thus sales) I’d receive. The interesting thing is that some of the most successful Sales Reps that I’ve had the pleasure to know and work with were first buyers before they became sellers. Having experience on the buyer side of the table seems to give them a better sense of exactly how to engage with a potential customer. They know what compelled them to give up their “5 minutes” and use that knowledge to educate and sell to customers.

Maybe that’s the solution …hire Sales Reps that were once buyers. Sure, that would be ideal, but probably far from realistic. If you want to get on my calendar you need to think like a buyer, not like a seller. What makes you purchase one item over another? Why does one product get your attention more than another? Why do you invest your time and money in one store over another? Asking yourself questions like these may just be the strategy you need to embrace in order to get my “5 minutes”    🙂

Emotional Marketing for Successful Sales

I came across this website today: ChangingMinds.org. As an online marketer who’s ultimate job it is to develop and execute marketing initiatives that help drive revenue, I found the website quite valuable in helping me understand the aspects of how we can change what others think, what they believe, how they feel, and what they do. In a world where social media is a driving force that significantly influences and shapes people’s opinions, beliefs, and decisions, I think it’s important to remember that when it comes to getting people to buy what you are selling, the way we market and sell needs to change.

It’s no longer about you, your product, or your message. In order to be successful, it all needs to be about the customer. Long gone are the days when someone would buy your product because you said so. Today, buyers rely on transparent, two-way collaboration, reviews, ratings, and specific examples that highlight experiences and emotions – not products.

So where should you start? The first step is to become more aware of your customers’ feelings. Empathize with them and let them know that you understand their pain and genuinely want to solve their problem. ChangingMinds.org offers several sections of information that may be helpful in understanding how to leverage empathy to drive sales. The section that focuses specifically on empathy is particularly interesting. Here’s a quick excerpt:

The value of empathy comes not from understanding the other person’s feelings, but what you do as a result of this.

Empathy connects people together

When you empathize with me, my sense of identity is connected to yours. As a result, I feel greater in some way and less alone. I may well, as a result, also start to empathize more with you. In a therapeutic situation, having someone else really understand how you feel can be a blessed relief, as people with emotional problems often feel very much alone in their different-ness from other people. The non-judgmental quality can also be very welcome.

Empathy heals

Therapeutically, it can be a very healing experience for someone to empathize with you. When someone effectively says ‘I care for you’, it also says ‘I can do that, I can care for myself.’

Empathy builds trust

Empathy displayed can be surprising and confusing. When not expected, it can initially cause suspicion, but when sustained it is difficult not to appreciate the concern. Empathy thus quickly leads to trust.

Empathy closes the loop

Consider what would happens if you had no idea what the other person felt about your communications to them. You might say something, they hated it, and you continued as if they understood and agreed. Not much persuasion happening there! The more you can empathize, the more you can get  immediate feedback on what they are experiencing of your communications with them. And as a consequence, you can change what you are saying and doing to get them to feel what you want them to feel.

See what I mean? Quite insightful and thought provoking.

Top 5 Things I Learned About Social Media This Week

Ok, so I missed posting last week. I have a good reason though. I won’t get into it but just know, it wasn’t fun. Anyway, here are the top 5 interesting facts,stats, ideas, and miscellaneous news items that I found valuable this week  as a social media and online marketing professional and enthusiast:

  1. Facebook recently announced their geo-location/check-in tool called Places. Social Media B2B wrote an excellent blog post titled, 5 Ways B2B Companies Can Use Facebook Places. I’m an avid Social Media B2B fan/reader and I find their perspective, ideas, and insight on how to leverage Places in the B2B space quite valuable. Read more here.
  2. There’s an excellent post on Social Media Examiner titled, How to Use Your Blog to Drive Social Sales. The post offers great insight on how to leverage your blog to drive sales. Read more here.
  3. I stumbled upon the website, Reel SEO Video Marketing, and was instantly intrigued. The site focuses exclusively on video marketing and video SEO. It’s full of interesting and valuable posts and a great asset to anyone looking to improve their video SEO. Read more here.
  4. I also stumbled upon a great content marketing blog called the PR 20/20 blog. Their 3-part series titled How to Optimize Video for the Web helps answer the question, “so how do search engines index and rank video?”. If you’re interested in finding out, read more here.
  5. Junta42‘s new Content Marketing Institute is full of resources for content marketing training and education. One particular post that I found very valuable is titled Checklist: The 4 Key Qualities of Effective Content. Although the post is simple a reminder of what you must keep in mind when creating and publishing compelling and nurturing content, it’s still worth a read. So, if you need a refresher, read more here.

So here are my top 5. I hope you find them as useful and as valuable as I do. Please feel free to share what you learned this week. I’m eager to hear.

Content Mapping and Buyer Persona

As I continue to build and execute the social media strategy for Binary Tree, Inc. I’m continually researching ways to optimize, streamline, and align every single aspect of the B2B buyer/seller relationship. Right now, finding ways to optimize and map our content (current and future) to the buyer’s purchasing stage is at the top of my list. Blogs like The Content Factor discuss ways to develop and align content based upon the buyer’s persona and stage. Developing content with a call-to-action that speaks to the buying persona and stage is critical in order to nurture the customer thought the buying process.

The Content Factor does an excellent job explaining and providing examples of the content needed to propel the B2B customer along at each buying stage. Keeping their strategy in mind, I created a content mapping strategy specifically for Binary Tree. Take a look:

Three Benefits of Twitter for Sales

I’ve been an avid Twitter user/fan almost since the beginning. I maintain a handful of Twitter accounts that I use for various purposes including personal, professional, hobby, etc. I could go on-and-on regarding its usefulness to me personally and professionally, but in order to keep it at a high level, here are what I see as the top 3 benefits of having a Twitter account for personal and/or business use:

1.) As a business development professional, my Twitter presence enables potential clients to connect with me as a trusted adviser and a valuable resource. It’s important to remember that Twitter is not a sales tool, rather it’s a resource tool that potential clients engage in to find relevant sources of information in order to make decisions. The key is for me to become a “go to” resource, gain visibility and credibility, and stay as visible and engaged as possible.

2.) Twitter allows me to be a “fly on the wall” and discover opportunities (via keyword or hashtag searches) that I would not be privy to otherwise. For example, if my business is real estate, I may do daily or even hourly Twitter searches (or set up Google Alerts or a TweetBeep account) to see whose talking about buying a new home in my particular area. I may chose to listen to them for a while, then follow them and the people they follow, and then gradually begin to offer advice, guidance, and become a trusted adviser and valuable resource.

3.) Whether you’re trying to build awareness for your personal brand or your business brand, Twitter is an invaluable resource to help you monitor who is saying what, when they’re saying it, why they’re saying it, who they’re saying it to, and so on. It’s a great tool for customer service, resolution, product development, business development, establishing brand credibility, learning, marketing, and creating overall awareness.

The bottom line is this …Twitter is a resource used to create awareness. Depending on how visible and credible your personal and/or professional brand is prior to participating in Twitter, it may take time to establish yourself as a key and credible resource, but once you do, the benefits (aka: sales) will be plentiful.