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Why as a Salesman I Taught Myself to Market and You Need to Learn Too (As a Matter of Urgency)

Why as a Salesman I Taught Myself to Market and You Need to Learn Too (As a Matter of Urgency)

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

In the world of Sales there seems to be a view that certain activities are good and certain activities are bad. When they are bad for some reason you are a lesser person for doing this. And as sales so often is linked to a macho, it seems I am a lesser man for doing these things.

I’ve always been a new business salesperson, the notion of creating something from nothing and enabling a customer to get business benefit appeals to me. I remember my first £1Million plus ($1.3 Million) sale was at Stagecoach. I had no help from Marketing. My background is in selling Enterprise Accounting systems or ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) as suppliers like to call it.

A couple of us were sitting in the office, we had a copy of the Financial Times (a UK newspaper focused on business) and we were looking down the stock market listings and we were going through which company had which ERP system. When we got to Stagecoach, nobody knew, so I called them up and the rest is history.

New Business meant I was “out there”, there was no existing relationships, no understanding of the procurement cycles, your role was alchemy. The ability to create gold from nothing. Some people have used the term Rainmaker, but living in the UK I have enough of the rain.

You are Only as Good As Your Last Deal

I’ve head this saying many times and in a way it’s true. As a new business guy I needed leads and meetings and maybe it’s just the companies I worked for but Marketing didn’t ever seem to deliver any, or enough.

In one sales role, on listening to me cold calling a (supposedly older and wiser) sales guy came over and told me I was wasting my time. It was marketing’s job to create leads. I was cold calling when he was called into the office and fired.

Creating Leads from Nothing

As creating leads from nothing was a constant for me, otherwise I would have nothing to close. One of the many tactics I employed was to read as many marketing books that I could. Marketing create leads don’t they, so if I read marketing books I will unlock the knowledge on how to create leads. Alas, no secrets and while I did find out a lot about marketing, I even did a course, I didn’t find out anything I didn’t know already.

So What’s The Secret of Leads and Meetings

The secret is graft or today people call it hustle, hard work pays and in sales, hard work pays well. You have to take control of the lead generation process yourself as there is nobody out there that will help you. Prospecting is key for the sales person and a prospecting culture is critical for any sales leader.

So Cold Calling is the Answer then?

The problem is, that 20 years ago, the world was so much similar. No internet, no mobile, no social media and in fact 20 years ago, there still wasn’t mass acceptance of email.

All of us, as all of us are buyers won’t stand for being interrupted and pitched at by salespeople or adverts or unsolicited email and we don’t go to events as it’s just people pitching. Add to that legislation like GDPR that has killed email marketing and certainly killed push selling. What I mean by that is continually calling somebody asking them to buy. You cannot do that anymore. We also have technology to help us, ad-blockers use grows at 30% year-on-year, if you send me an unsolicited email once, I just create a rule so any future emails go straight into junk or just block you. The same is with cold calls, standard iPhone functionality allows me to block future cold calls.

This is the challenge that marketers are facing every day. The only way they can get the same results next year is to throw more mud and budget at the problem. Marketing is broken and if you don’t see any leads today, you will get less tomorrow and vent less the year after.

Nobody is Coming to Save You!

In Sales nobody can hear you scream, we have CMO after CMO coming to us and saying “Marketing no longer works”. So as a Salesperson what are going to do?

You have to seize control of your own demand generation. This does not make you a lesser salesperson, in fact the opposite, it will propel you into the top tier. You have to get on social. Either you need to get your management to sponsor a social selling program or you need to read a book like “Social Selling – Techniques to Influence Buyers and Changemakers” available on Amazon and is written has a handbook for sales people.

Marketing is broken and the sooner you do this, the better equipped you will be to meet the new challenges of an ever changing market. 

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Four things you could be doing on Linkedin which stop you from being attractive to the C-Suite

Four things you could be doing on Linkedin which stop you from being attractive to the C-Suite

by Adam Gray | @AGSocialMedia | LinkedIn

If you sell low priced things to junior people within an organisation then actually you don’t need to bother about your personal brand. What you do is probably pretty transactional and the buyer might not really care about doing too much due diligence. The further up within an organisation you need to be, the more difficult a task it is to look interesting to the people you need to engage.

Plenty or marketing automation type companies will give you a formulaic route to “drive registrations” or “optimise clickthrough” and whilst that may work for managers it certainly WILL NOT work for the CEO.

Selling at the top level within an organisation requires skill, patience and an ability to put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself “is what I am doing going to turn them on…or off.” Every “icon” you put in your headline or “click here to book a time” or “register now” button will turn away the very people that you want to engage.

You know it and I know it.

So what will work then? How can you get in front of the CEO on LinkedIn and have them take you seriously?

  1. You need a strong personal brand. Not a “landing page” or a “call to action” or an “advert” but a clear story about why the reader should like and trust and believe in them and in what you say. You can mention what you do and why this maters but remember – people buy from people so the thing that is really on sale here is you! 
  2. You need to have good behaviours. You need to be joining, taking part and leading (some of the) conversations and you need to be doing this regularly. It is highly unlikely that people will disconnect from you for sharing too much good content, more likely is that they don’t really know who you are at the moment (which is why they don’t comment or share or like the things that you post)
  3. Sharing your expertise. You need to be producing your own content – writing articles, shooting videos, sharing pictures. You don’t need to write 2000 word white papers or shoot studio quality films, but you do need to be creating original pieces of bitesized content to reinforce that you know what you are talking about rather than just re-sharing content written by others (although you should be doing this too of course). 
  4. You should have a clear process. Processes are vital because everyone needs to understand how to find, nurture and convert likely targets from prospects to clients and part of that process is ensuring that everything is up to date and you are “always online” being visible and having conversations.

So why would not doing these things make you less attractive to the C-Suite? Well, because they tend to be busy people. They do not have time to read and sift through a spammy profile full of pitches and platitudes, but they possibly do have time for a good story. They certainly don’t have time to scroll-back through hundreds of posts and perhaps but in to you.

If you do these things it’s highly likely you will notice a massive increase in the amount of visibility, conversations and therefore opportunities, that you have. It’s not magic, it’s just about being in the right place at the right time and the more you are “out there” virtually meeting and greeting people the more likely that is to happen. Rather like if you go to loads of events or business groups the chances are that opportunities will “just appear” because you will be front of mind and therefore people will mention you more often.

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The Day Ethics in Marketing Died

The Day Ethics in Marketing Died

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

This week I spoke at a Martch conference, I have to be honest I’m not a big fan of Martech, which if you didn’t know is short for Marketing Technology.

Martech in my view isn’t actually an advance, it is actually a backward step, why is this?

We all hate interrupt and broadcast marketing, nobody gets up in the morning and says “today I’m looking forward to being pitched at”

In my presentation I asked the audience of about 250 to stand up. Then I asked them to sit down if they remember the last three adverts they had seen. Of course nobody sat down. We all hate adverts. We fast forward through the ads on the TV, we switch radio stations when the ads come on. The way we work today is we filter this stuff out as noise. 

Following my presentation, I then had to sit through a presentation from Sky about how they serve ads to me, the presentation was applauded as grown breaking. Have you spotted the problem yet?

Like corporate content where companies tell us how great they are, how brilliant their founders are, how they are number one, how they are are the market leaders. We don’t care and just filter it out, again, just like adverts it’s noise.

So What has this got to do with Martech?

Well Martech, is basically analogue techniques in a digital world.

When I started work, we had a typing pool, I remember probably 5 years later my first 386 laptop with Amipro. (We had Amipro as the IT department said that Microsoft Word will never catch on.) My art in sales was crafting letters. It was years before email became accepted as a mechanism to communicate. At the Martech conference, the Forrester speaker recalled when the internet came out she put in a business case for a Financial Services company to register their web domain. The Board rejected it. I have a friend who submitted to a Board the business case for an email system. It was rejected. In both cases the internet and email were seen as “flash in the pan” and they will never catch on.

It is against this backdrop of the analogue world that Martech is basically an ability to send more and more emails. Or you can get software that will go out and find details or articles on a person or company you are going to visit. In this case it’s just automating what we can do already. None of this is new and none of this is amazing.

But of course, these systems and data can give you power.

Spiderman said “with great power comes great responsibility”. So back to the speaker from Sky.

The speaker from Sky, the UK Satellite TV Broadcaster said with great pride. Even though we have customers that have opted out. So they have ticked boxes that say, they don’t want to be called, they don’t wanted to be emailed and don’t want to be approached by any marketing means. In other words, they won’t to be left alone.

Sky, through their Adobe Martech system and buy data so they can track customers down on social networks and serve them ads.

I was opened mouthed. Have people lost their minds? You mean you are telling me that I have told you I don’t want to be bothered but you are hunting me down on social and bothering me.

This is of course, the same audience that I asked to stand up and sit down if they remember the last three ads and nobody sat down. It’s like saying you are a vegetarian restaurant but then saying you will cook me veal if i wanted it.

This flagrant pissing off or people is unethical and has to stop!

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Time to geek-out

Time to geek-out

by Adam Gray | @AGSocialMedia | LinkedIn

Okay, I admit it. I am a geek. A closet geek perhaps, but a geek nonetheless.

When I was writing my first book I studied everything that I could find about social media analysis, network mapping and measurement. I even went as far as to study statistics via an online course from Berkeley. It is a fascinating rabbit hole…but a rabbit hole nonetheless.

When Tim and I founded DLA we quickly realised that being clever (knowing all of this social media science stuff) largely wasn’t of any use to our clients because, whilst they may understand the principles of social media they were seldom practicing the techniques they knew.

Analytics in all of its forms is often wasted because organisations (and individuals) are not doing the basics.

Analytics data can, if you’re not careful, deliver little except pretty graphs that perhaps help you to hold on to your job but seldom deliver insights that help move the company forward.

Since we started DLA we have had a bit of a love-affair with Brandwatch because what it does is deliver insights that are actionable. Yes, it can do the pretty graphs (Vizia – their data visualisation tool creates artworks from your data) but it does more than just report. It helps us to benchmark what we are doing well and what we aren’t and make changes to that. We have the biggest share of voice for social selling on social (we know this because of Brandwatch) some of our prospects have no visibility whatsoever (we know this because of Brandwatch) when we run a campaign and we need to know just how many people have seen it we can work this out (with Brandwatch)… in fact Brandwatch is the tool that enables us to see whether our gut-feel is right or wrong.

But Brandwatch is not perfect, it has some major limitations, particularly around historical data, but we have been able to work around this. Brandwatch is not the only social media listening tool in the market…but it has been the best for a long time (despite its weaknesses)

So imagine our delight when we heard (from Giles the Brandwatch CEO) that they are merging with Crimson Hexagon. I kid you not about ‘delight’ because one of CH’s recognised strengths is its ability to provide lightning-fast access to historical data.

So, over the next 12 months as the two products become one gradually the strengths of each will iron-out the weaknesses of the other.

I don’t for a moment believe that the merging of the products will deliver perfection but I certainly do believe that the merging of these products will make them head and shoulders above any other tool that exists.

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I would write 500 blogs…

I would write 500 blogs…

by Adam Gray | @AGSocialMedia | LinkedIn

Well, actually I wouldn’t personally, but we have as a company.

Digital Leadership Associates is just over 2 years old and today we published our 500th blog on our site and I personally think this is quite an achievement.

Well, 500 blogs is not altogether true… in addition to the 500 blogs we’ve published on our site we have produced several guest blogs for Kogan Page, our most recent book publisher (yes we write books too), various clients and also to support some of the speaking events where we keynote. We also have written 250+ individual articles on our LinkedIn profiles, Tim has produced 75 TimTalks Alex has produced over 50 #AskAlex videos and Phil has created countless memes (of and I’ve created 60 short videos too) so when you add all this together we have created and published over 1000 pieces of content in 2 years…and there are only a handful of us!

Why? How? I hear you ask.

Why? Well, because we can! No, I’m kidding, we do it because it’s our way of prospecting. We do it because every day that goes past we grow a bigger and bigger footprint on the internet. When a visitor comes and looks at our mountain of content and then looks at one of our competitors who have perhaps created 100 pieces of content (blogs/videos/podcasts combined) we look like the obvious choice because we have something to say and loads of original thinking.

Why? Because being good at creating content just takes practice like anything else in life and we have practices a lot so now we have a way of doing this which is extremely efficient.

One of the key things we teach our clients to do is exactly this – become a content publishing machine. This is an important element of what we do because if you think about your business – perhaps you have 1000 staff. If we can activate just 50% of them to write and publish a short blog each month this means that you can create 6000 pages of content per year and if the marketing department guide the staff to write based on certain keywords and topics you can very quickly dominate your marketplace.

I know, you’re thinking that your staff will never write marketing content for your business…but they don’t have to. They just have to write. The thing to remember is that YOUR life partner doesn’t read what you write about your company because they love the company, they read what you write about the company because they love YOU. Every single person within your business is an influencer within their own network and leveraging this is they key to creating true visibility.

It isn’t possible to get my staff to commit to this? Yes it is, because we do it every day and to prove it can be done…we do it ourselves and this is a crucial point. A social media “expert” that tells your company tow produce content every day and doesn’t do this themselves is like the fat personal trainer or the business improvement consultant with holes in their shoes…someone who understand the theory but is not able tout it in to practice and therefore merely a pretender.

If you want to talk to us about how we can get all of your team willing in the same direction to help you to dominate get in touch, then you won’t be walking 500 miles but will be writing 500 blogs too!

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The Digital Marketing Big Fat Lie!

The Digital Marketing Big Fat Lie!

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

In a recent blog I posted out on Twitter I pointed out that Marketing, both corporate marketing and digital marketing was dead.

Nobody looks at adverts or they are ignored, email marketing, certainly in a post GDPR world is dead, nobody answers cold calls, nobody clicks on PCC.

As with corporate marketing, everything is the same. Everybody says the same thing. We all say we are the best. Go to any website and they are all the same. We are the world’s leading… we are number one… here our our founders, we are unique. No you are not! 5 years ago buyers used website to verify a purchase, now a website is used to deselect vendors.

Even SEO is now a big fat lie. Your customers don’t want to go to your dull website, so why send them there?

As buyers, we are slick, savy, we might not know what we want, but we know how to find it!

We are street wise, and are looking for people to give us insight, educate us, guide us. We don’t wanted to be shouted at by corporate marketing or sold to by some manipulative sales person. We don’t might talking to sales people, those that seem trust worthy.

I posted a blog similar to that on Twitter. Pointing out that Marketing no longer works and a person commented.

“Agree, but you have to do these things as these are the Marketing basics and you have to do the basics.”

I was lost for words, how can you throw money down the drain on marketing efforts we know don’t work and won’t reap a return?

As a salesperson who always did there own demand generation, I always wondered why Marketing didn’t generate me anything. Or if they did it was “icing on the cake”.

I spent the later half of my twenties and first half of my 30s reading every marketing book I could get my hands on hoping for the secret. Any marketers reading this are now saying, Tim but you don’t get this Tim, it’s all about Brand.

Is it? With corporate marketing now all the same, branding is pretty meaningless.

So what is the answer?

  1. First, if you are not into intent data you are way behind. When somebody comes to your website the deal has already been done. Buyers are leaving footprints on the web you need to spot the footprints.
  2. Get you salesforce to blog, better still get your employees to blog.Do this and you can shout out all of the competition.  By doing this you have an influencer marketing, your SEO (this will give you key word optimised content earned media content), it will sort turn your recruitment from push to pull.  All manor of benefits and savings.
  3. Align and then merge your sales and marketing departments. How to do this?  Well we have written a book on how to do it.  Not a why, you should do it, but a “how” so you can have your own project and meet today’s challenges.

Smarketing: How to Achieve Competitive Advantage through Blended Sales and Marketing” is available on all Amazon platforms click here

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