Wednesday, April 22, 2015

3 Steps to Bridging the Sales & Marketing Gap

The divide between sales and marketing has almost become expected. It always seems to come down to the same problems. Marketing is dissatisfied with sales because lead conversion rates are low. Sales is dissatisfied with marketing because the leads are not qualified. 

So how does this issue get resolved? How do you go about re-evaluating your marketing and sales strategies? How do you close the loop?

You must develop a clear plan and process, then follow through.
  1. Set the expectation that sales and marketing work together. Apple has mastered an uninterrupted connection between marketing and sales. It's almost unclear where the marketing ends and the selling begins. The sales team should understand that a marketers job is more than making things look pretty. They should understand that a marketer's job is to increase the salability of the product or service. The marketing team should understand that a salesperson's job is critically important as they drive business. 
  2. Define the term "lead". Who is your customer? Who are you trying to sell to? When both marketing and sales can agree on what a good lead is, marketing will be able to develop a strategy to attract the appropriate potential customers, and sales will be more likely to convert the lead because the product or service being sold speaks to the consumer's needs. 
  3. Establish a method for accountability. Utilizing a digital dashboard with lead management software can help do this. Not only can you see where leads are being sent, see who is following up on those leads, and view their status, you can also keep track of key details. Lead management software makes key brand messaging more accessible. It also allows sales reps to keep track of strategies that worked and any other notable information that might have transpired during a sale. From a marketing standpoint this is incredibly helpful as this information can be used as feedback when moving forward with new strategies. 
Be sure you are checking in weekly for more tips and tricks to benefit your small business! 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Old School vs. New School: How to step up your small business's marketing game.


Marketing tactics are ever evolving and in order to stay relevant it is critical to develop your small business marketing strategy as these changes occur. 

Here are three ways you can take your old school marketing tactics new school. 


1. Interruption Marketing
 old school

You're interrupting someone's day to push your product. This conversation is entirely one way and your focus is to make a sale ASAP. This can incite anxiety in the potential customer as the tactic feels pushy. 

what to do instead...


Permission Marketing new school

You're earning the potential customer's interest with a educational dialogue about your product. Your focus is on quality rather than quantity which is essential in building long-lasting relationships with your customers. This will likely result in higher customer retention. 

2. Advertising in Print Directories old school
Placing an ad in the Yellow Pages was once considered one of the best ways to get your small business's name out there but now it's more likely the directory will be tossed in the recycling bin before it's even opened.

what to do instead...

Online Directory Listing new school
Try an online directory. Updating your business information on an online directory (like your BBB) is a sure fire way for relevant consumers to see your business. Not only does it increase your visibility online but it helps generate traffic to your website, establish credibility, and improve sales. 

3. Radio Spots old school   
While radio spots are popular because they deliver short and sweet information, they also cost money.

what to do instead...

Tweets new school
Try modifying your radio copy for Twitter. Not only are you sharing your message with a vast audience (like radio) but you are able to generate traffic to your website. 

Be sure you are checking in weekly for more tips and tricks to benefit your small business! 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

BBB Warning: Scams Currently Affecting Small Businesses



Scams targeting small businesses are not only becoming more frequent, but are also appearing in many different forms. Most recently, BBB has received reports of office supply scams and Yellow Page spoofs.


Office Supply Scam


How It Works:
Scammers will call your small business claiming to be from an office supply company making offers for limited time pricing, discounts, or going-out-of-business sales. Once you have agreed to make a purchase, weeks later you receive a large invoice for products you did not order. If the scammer is questioned regarding the invoice, they will often back off. However, if your Accounts Receivable staff is authorized to pay any and all invoices, and are unaware of current scams, your business could fall victim.


How to Avoid this Scam:
  • Train your staff and make sure they are up-to-date and aware of current scams and schemes.
  • Make sure your staff does not respond to unsolicited phone offers. All sales pitches should be made in writing.
  • Do not engage with unknown sellers. Make sure they are a trustworthy business by visiting bbb.org.

Yellow Page Spoof


How It Works:
A scammer posing as Yellow Pages might contact your business about updating your directory information. They ask you to confirm some basic information such as your name, address, and phone number. Weeks later you will receive an invoice for an ad in the Yellow Pages. When you call to complain, the scammer posing as a representative tells you that you made a verbal confirmation. They might even play you a spliced recording making it sound like you had agreed to placing an ad.


How to Avoid this Scam:
  • Hang up. Don't confirm information over the phone from unsolicited callers.
  • Don't trust caller ID. Scammers sometimes use special technology to fake the number and name that appear on your phone.
  • The Yellow Pages name and logo are not trademarked, making it an easy target for scammers to impersonate.

If you are unsure if you have fallen victim to a scam, trust your instinct. If something seems too good to be true, it usually is. If your business has experience with or has fallen victim to these scams be sure to contact your local Better Business Bureau.

If you are seeking specific information about a business, or simply need assistance, contact BBB serving Eastern MA, ME, RI & VT by info@boston.bbb.org or call 508-652-4800.  

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Increase Your Facebook Page Visibility

One of the biggest frustrations I see small-business owners having when it comes to social media is figuring out how to reach their audience. On Facebook, a page's visibility is dictated substantially by Facebook's algorithm. Essentially the algorithm decides where stories appear in each user's newsfeed. The good news is, there are a few no-brainer ways to combat this algorithm and maximize your page's visibility.

  1. Use a branded cover photo. Research shows that photos receive the highest amount of engagement on Facebook. Additionally the cover photo is the first thing a user sees when they visit your page. You want to pick something creative, engaging, and most importantly something that communicates your brand message. We used our hashtag #StartWithTrust as the focal point of our cover photo. The hashtag is a vital part of our brand message, which is to help people find and recommend business, brands, and charities they can trust. As soon as a user visits our page this message is the first thing that is communicated to them. 
  2. Include photos in your Facebook posts. As previously stated, photos receive the highest amount of engagement on Facebook. Visual content draws users in. When you include a photo with your Facebook post, users are 39% more likely to click onto your post, therefore increasing engagement and visibility. 
  3. Respond to consumer feedback. It's no secret that the best kind of marketing is consumer word-of-mouth. When you give a timely and informative reply to your consumers you are enhancing consumer confidence. Additionally, do not shy away from negative feedback. This is an opportunity to not only show the consumer that you are concerned about their experience, but it also shows potential customers that you are attentive and you care about the customer. Engaging with consumers on Facebook is a easy way to retain and gain customers. 

Here at BBB of E. MA, RI, VT, & ME we have started a series on our YouTube page called Social Media Minute. You can check in monthly for small-business social media tips and tricks. We also encourage you to submit your own questions to be addressed in an upcoming episode. 

Check out our first episode:

If you have a question about social media you would like answered please submit it HERE.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Selling: Back to the Basics

Written By: Gary S Goldman
Business & Management Consultants to the Construction Trades
     
New and experienced contractors always ask three questions: “How can I be successful in the industry?” “How do I find prospects and “How do I market?”?” My answer is always the same: get “back to the basics” of selling. It really doesn’t matter what it says on our business cards. We may act as a consultant, but, in fact, we are all salespeople. So, what are the “basics?”

Let us start with the ethic of reciprocity – the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. Many times, salespeople forget that 90 percent of selling is listening. It is very easy to tell people what you want them to hear and try to earn their business, but – keeping the Golden Rule in mind – is that how you want to be treated? Do you really want someone telling you what you have to do or buy without asking you what you want to do and why? 

Being a great salesperson is as easy as treating others the way you want to be treated. If you are like most contractors, you spend a good portion of our day on the phone or emailing potential customers whom we may never meet. As we all know, it is very difficult to build trust over the phone or computer. Technology continues to change our daily communication, and we are easily connected to people worldwide. Depending on your niche, your market could encompass one or many states. So as sales people, we are to build rapport with our prospects, whether they are in Boston or Portland Maine.  

Keep in mind during all conversations that the goal should be to treat them with the same respect that you expect from your business contacts. You are your best asset. Sell yourself by using your personality and expertise to earn business. People want to do business with people they like. If they like you, prospects will find it more and more difficult to tell you “no”. When you earn the trust and respect of your potential customers, you will earn their business.

How many times have you heard people say they would rather have a root canal than deal with a salesperson? People as a whole don’t like to be sold, but they really like to buy. Ask yourself what you liked about the people you purchased items or services from. Your prospect has the same right you do in choosing who they wish to do business with. Are you the only person providing this service or product? Most likely you are not the only game in town. So how can you earn the right to be the ONE? Perhaps by allowing people to do what they do best. People love to talk about themselves, their family, pets, hobbies, vacations, etc. Be the one that takes the time to learn about your prospect on a personal level. You just might find out that you have similar interests and can use that information as an opportunity to create a comfort level for you and your prospect. They already know what they want to do; the question is who is going to help them reach that goal? It does not have to be a chore. When done right, it can be a pleasant experience for both parties. When your customers look at the sales experience positively, they are likely to refer you to business associates, friends, and family members. This is a great way to market and grow your business.

Obviously, it is not practical to think that you are able to build a rapport with every prospect that you meet or talk to on the phone. You must determine if they are a true prospect or not, then identify how they operate. Are they a logical or emotional decision-maker? Do they use their heads or their hearts? Are they talkative or do they keep their feelings inside? Are they working to avoid the problem or are they working toward a solution? It is important to remember that it is much more comfortable to work with people that have a similar personality. We have to step out of our comfort zone to connect people that we consider “difficult.” To master the selling yourself method, you have to learn how to customize your message in your own words for all personality types. Don’t stub your toe by not being yourself. The potential customer wants to work with you, but you need to know them, and they need to know you.

Has technology changed how customers behave or operate? Absolutely! People have forgotten how to interact with other humans. Think about it – do you order items from a catalogue? Do you buy things on the Internet? Do you Google for information? Do you interact with a credit card machine or a cashier? What happened to working with people? Whether in the past, present, or future, successful salespeople deliver personal, professional service through human interaction.

As you start to prepare your marketing plan, remember the importance of getting “back to the basics” and start from within yourself. You are the least expensive and most important asset that you have. It doesn’t matter what you sell; your prospects need to like you, and you need to understand and connect with them. 

We work hard to build relationship with our clients. Be confident and feel good about what you are doing to help others. Sell yourself by sticking to the basics. 



Saturday, February 21, 2015

New BBB Code of Advertising

Better Business Bureau has made comprehensive changes to its BBB Code of Advertising to reflect the many new ways advertisers reach consumers via websites, social media, texting and other channels. Every business that advertises in North America is expected to follow BBB’s Code, and compliance is monitored by 112 BBB offices in the U.S. and Canada. Industry self-regulation of truth-in-advertising rules has earned the support of federal regulators who take seriously cases referred to their agencies. 

 The Code states that “the primary responsibility for truthful and non-deceptive advertising rests with the advertiser” and that advertisers “should be prepared to substantiate any objective claims or offers made before publication or broadcast.” The goal is to make industry self-regulation track with rules to encourage the most honest and ethical marketing by businesses.

One of the most significant changes to the Code is an update to the section on testimonials and endorsements, to reflect the Federal Trade Commission’s current thinking on the use of them in social media. The most noticeable change to the Code is the elimination of the requirement that advertisers include a range of savings whenever an “up to” price savings claim is made (for instance, up to 40%); the Code retains the requirement that at least 10% of the class of items identified in the ad must be offered at 40% off. 
All BBBs across North America have Advertising Review Specialists who work with businesses in their service area to help ensure truth-in-advertising in all channels. When BBB learns of an advertisement or questionable marketing claim, it notifies the business and seeks voluntary substantiation, modification or discontinuation of the claim(s) in question. In 2014, BBBs conducted more than 11,000 ad reviews at the local level, and nearly 250 national advertising reviews were conducted by various programs at the Council of Better Business Bureaus.


Originally published at: http://www.bbbchicagoblog.com/blog/2015/02/19/new-bbb-code-advertising/

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

BBB and Porch.com Join Forces to Provide Homeowners with Trusted Resources



An established and trusted business review organization is joining forces with a new and innovative home network to offer consumers the most comprehensive information available on home improvement and maintenance professionals. Better Business Bureau and Porch.com announced today that homeowners can now find BBB information, including ratings and accreditation status, for millions of professionals right in their Porch search results. 


Porch will display BBB information on home construction, maintenance and repair companies, and the information is updated and refreshed daily. Consumers who wish to see more detail can click through to read the entire BBB Business Review.

Porch is the first website and mobile app in the home services space to offer nationwide integration of BBB ratings and accreditation status.

“Our BBB Accreditation is our best marketing tool and key to our success, bar none,” said Jim Borst, president of West Coast Roofing and Contracting, Inc., a BBB Accredited Business in Clearwater, Florida. “To our prospective clients, it illustrates stability, professionalism, and the ability to work through conditions that our industry inherently produces when disrupting the norm. Now with the agreement between BBB and Porch, our accreditation will gain even greater exposure.”

“We are on a mission to make Porch the place you go to find the best and most trusted home improvement and maintenance professionals,” said Matt Ehrlichman, chief executive officer and chairman of Porch. “Partnering with BBB is a natural fit for us, since consumers have been relying on BBB for more than a hundred years to help them find businesses they can trust. By putting BBB accreditation and ratings front and center across our website and mobile experiences, we can offer homeowners additional confidence in selecting a home services professional.”

“BBB is pleased to partner with an innovative company like Porch,” said Mary E. Power, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. “They have based their business model on trust, transparency and collaborative information, and they share BBB’s commitment to building trust between consumers and businesses. BBB’s information on Porch’s sites will allow customers to get more detail prior to hiring home professionals."

The agreement gives Porch six months of exclusive access to BBB accreditation and ratings for the home improvement and maintenance industry for use on Porch’s website and mobile app. The company has matched more than 3.2 million Porch profile pages to BBB Business Reviews, and is displaying the BBB accreditation status in its search results along with the BBB rating. Businesses can learn more about participating at bbb.org/porch-pro.