Tag Archives: Sales

How to Transform Today’s Traditional Midsize Companies and Literally Drag Them Into Digital and Social 21st Century Transformation? (Part 1)

I rarely write about myself so please bear with me! I remember 25 years ago; my first sales rep days as a Frenchman in Bavaria and Southern Germany. I would often be searching for public phones carrying stacks of German Mark! Thanks to vandalism phone cards were introduced and public card-phones had soon after to be searched for! At that time I was selling Volvic (French) Mineral water! Outbound marketing was in: I had flyers, a few cotton T-shirts no one wanted and for the most part practiced good old B2B door to door basic “hardcore” selling!  Like most companies we did not have Coca-Cola’s marketing budget! In many ways it was easy: I’d come up with a map, mark and pin it according distributors, key-accounts, customers and prospects, and start my regular tours planning around 10 daily visits selling, merchandising and prospecting for the most part!

We did not know about the silo mentality: we were living and exemplifying it! Customer complaints were turned around to make Volvic France shine! I particularly remember how dirty the French plastic crates were and how meticulous German car owners would regularly complain about them! Volvic France could not care less: they were so far away and I bet some of the people at the plant did not even know where Munich is! Every Volvic-silo was doing their own thing: bottling; packaging; warehousing; transporting and finally us: selling! During those 3 years I did not receive a single phone call from France asking me how things were on the ground! Mind you the ground? Obviously it Volvic France and customers were mostly for them a hassle, constantly making requests or complaining about something while our job was to convince them that most (if not all) of their requests were unreasonable!

Thankfully things have changed, as a matter of fact, changed so much that it is frightening: Volvic and everybody else now can receive emails, calls, reports, written-, spoken- video-information regardless of where we are! Sales people are expected to answer phone calls 24/7 and emails at the best before they have even been sent!  To the repertoire of traditional commerce has been added social enterprising, content marketing, E-commerce, social media, cloud computing and mobility! The 21st century traditional and wannabe digital sales-geek has to understand a lot more than ever in order to grasp Social Business & Media, Inbound Marketing, Mobility as well as Cloud communication (IaaS, PaaS and SaaS)!

Here is an exaggerated caricature of today’s midsize companies “operating silos”

  • Sales: trying to motivate Management and Production to finally manufacture products Sales can sell and this at an acceptable price, while complaining at the same time about delivery delays and quality issues!
  • Production: ranting about manufacturing “too many products” not properly streamlined by Sales & Marketing (Dream of every plant manager is: couple of products manufactured without disrupting too much his production lines).
  • Marketing: usually not having a clue of what is happening in their own company because of their mostly and until now “outbound” function!
  • Controlling: mainly informing Direction and Sales Management about things they already know!
  • IT Department: relentlessly upholding legacy structures, struggling to innovate but mostly slowing down everybody else!
  • CEO / Managing Director: trying to please the board of director breathing down his neck while having to meet financial targets and business strategy.

Bottomline: “It ain’t working that way no more” as our “over-the-pond “US neighbors would colloquially say! What do we do next? Who should put the pieces together?

  • Sales: I do not think so: Why? Because I have been a sales person most of my life and I know that most sales leaders cannot fulfill that responsibility.
  • Production: What do you think? (I hope you do not even have to think twice about it).
  • Marketing: probably not a good idea!
  • IT: hm…. Not really customer oriented for the most part don’t you think?
  • Controlling: usually informing company but mostly sales about the past, which is not going to help us much about future strategy!
  • Managing Director / CEO: yes definitely and this is the way it should be BUT his responsibilities are so immense that he needs assistance and help in order to fulfill his vision and above all get the RIGHT information!

Who should be fulfilling this strategic role! Stay tuned for the second part of this article!

10 Fundamental Ways to Transform Your SMB, Promote Innovation and Optimize Your Sales Results (Part 1)

Social media or not, Customer Service is what is being added to customers’ purchase before and after the sale has been executed! B2C retailers and B2B platforms should heavily reconsider rewarding both regular customers and brand faithfulness with additional perks and special privileges! Customer loyalty cards are already a given and let’s be frank we all know that most of those are not adding much value anyhow! It is now time to harness your creativity and develop a state of the art Social Business Marketing Enterprise!

1. Ratify your USP (Unique Selling Proposition and Unique Selling Passion) in order to focus the targeted customer audience your business will want to reach! The more precise the better! Brainstorm and debate: If you are still not sure about your USP make a turnover hit-list of your top 30 to 50 (or more depending on your business size) best customers and ask them personally to give you some input into what they would love your business to communicate about and sell! This will be a great way of getting them involved right from the start.

2. Your first piece of real estate should be your blog before even starting a website! Create one right away if you do not have one already and start communicating with your clients, prospects, visitors by posting relevant information around your USP relating to your audience, business and core values by publishing the following information:

  • Own and guest posted articles
  • Own videos (think of Gary Vaynerchuk’s creativity and audacity)
  • Videos uploaded on your site relating to your audience
  • Interviews, Podcasts and Webcasts on specific topics of interest
  • E-books, White papers, E-articles
  • Pictures, Recipes (if you are in the food business)
  • Featured articles linked to other sites (it will help SEO)

3. Refine your Social Media portfolio by making sure you have accounts in the following areas narrowing it down to 10-12 platforms at the most:

4. Create a digital company newsletter, which should include blog content with some specific items reserved to your exclusive circle of contacts and personally delivered to their mailbox always including a call to action! Consider making this letter custom made according to their preferences and interests by adding personal perks and offers.

5. Customer Content Marketing: Communication goes both ways: Reserve plenty of space for your visitors to upload the same sort of material your company is uploading:

  • Customer articles and / or links.
  • Give them the freedom to build their community on your website: it will dramatically increase your traffic!
  • Customer videos, personal videos even if not relating to your business (be personal and social and grant them the freedom to communicate)
  • Personal pictures, anecdotes they would like to share with their peers
  • Events customers want to share with your business and their community
  • Trust them first, in return they will start trusting your business

6. Read, listen and consider what your customers are sharing with your business on your blog / website; it will definitely help you fine tuning and adapt your blog-menu to your audience’s tastes, needs and expectations.

7. Make it simple and easy for visitors to sign up and upload any media content (picture, sound, video & text) and please drop this annoying “Captcha” by facilitating the signing up process with most popular media sites Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or YouTube.

8. Transform all your written collaterals by physically including your customers’ most relevant Social Media Icons

  • Ad your company’s blog & website link(s)
  • Ad Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube and Pinterest logos to all your printed collateral including business cards
  • Facebook, Twitter logos and links should automatically be printed on your cash register receipts with a call to action changing on a regular basis
  • Make your inside signs with your blog address, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Pinterest discretely visible on both physical and virtual shop.

9. If your business owns a physical shop give your customer the flexibility to sign up on site (with a touch screen computer) to your blog, Facebook Fan page or follow you on Twitter: Reward them on the spot with some free goodies and thank them with a smile.

10. Embrace mobile devices (Smart phones & Tablets) Please do your company a favor and organize smart phones for your sales and marketing people ASAP! It is not a toy it is a modern marketing tool you cannot afford not to have! Make also sure that the same web / blog content is readable on any platform and remember BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is not a buzz word anymore it is reality! Welcome to the 21st century “tradigital” business!

It is extremely important to keep up communicating with customers while delivering content in real-time! In future posts we shall review more items on how to make SMBs more competitive in this thriving mobile social media environment!