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Sales Tip – Getting the Name Has Never Been Easier, Now What?

Getting the contact name is easy

Most savvy salespeople know how to get a contact name at a target company almost instantly using a quick web search or services like Jigsaw, LinkedIN, Hoovers, etc. Couple that with some quick research and you are ready to “dial for dollars”, right?

Maybe not. Here are a couple of reasons why just having the name and a bit of information can be a big waste of time:

  • If you know how to get the name, so do hundreds (thousands?) of others
  • If all those sales people have the same name and contact information, the prospect will be inundated with calls and email
  • Some of the salespeople contacting the prospect may be less than professional and tick off the prospect
  • Prospects become jaded and hide behind voice-mail or delete your message as soon as they realize you are a salesperson
  • Most sales people sound like self-serving sales slime by using a standard product based pitch when they contact the prospect

Faced with these challenges, you need to separate yourself from the herd. Here’s how.

Get a referral

While not always possible, if you can get someone to refer you you will have a much better chance of connecting.

Research shows that referrals are the number one source of leads that result in closed business. Before you call or email, ask the person referring you if the prospect might need your type of product. Also ask about the types of challenges the prospect may be facing that you can help with.

Armed with this information you can put together a cogent, effective plan for contacting the prospect.

Get social

You signed up for twitter, LinkedIN, etc… a while back but, like most people, you probably haven’t been using it much. Here’s your chance.

See if the contact is on twitter or linkedIN and see if you know any one in their circle of “friends”. If you do, ask for an introduction. If not, you will need to spend some time understanding what’s important to your contact so that when you do connect with them you have something relevant to say.

Offer something of value

Your goal for a complex sale is to qualify the prospect and to start a conversation. To do this, you will need content that is relevant to the problems faced by the prospect.

Most of your competition will call the prospect and say something like:

“Hi, this is Jane from ABC. We make Enterprise software that helps secure your network from hacker attacks and protects your sensitive data.”

OR

“This is Jane from ABC. We help companies like yours protect their data from hackers and loss due to crashes.”

Savvy prospects will know right away that this is a sales call. In one call out of 500, you’ll get lucky and they will be in the market for your type of product–the other 499 times, they’ll blow you off by saying something like:

“Send me information”

“I’m Not involved with that type of product”

“I hear an alarm bell going off, I have to go” –this was an actual response one of my sales training clients got!

A much better way to connect and start a conversation is to offer something that you think they’ll be interested in based on your research. For example, if they’re members of a data security group on LinkedIN or you have seen them following tweets from security experts, you could offer a specific type of content based on that interest.

The goal is to get permission to nurture them, to provide value and to gain their trust.

Using this approach, they will typically accept the offer and the dialog has begun.

If they are not interested, you can ask about the types of data they do find helpful and counter with that if you have it available. As a side benefit, if they are the 1 in 500 that happens to need your product, they will let you know and nothing is lost.

B2B Web Marketing – Small Changes that Grow Traffic

If your sites been up for a while, you’ve probably accumulated  links and rank for some keywords. With just a few of the right changes, you can have a big impact on traffic and sales.

This section details site changes that leverage work you’ve already done, and outlines several high-impact  improvements for your site.

Unique titles and descriptions on every page

Unique, compelling page titles and text descriptions are crucial to both user experience and high rankings. Titles and descriptions (controlled by on-page meta tags) are an indication to search engines and visitors of the content and quality of a page.

Page titles act as headlines in the search results. Great titles grab the visitors attention and get them to click through to your page. When the visitor arrives at the page the headline reassures them that they’ve come to the right place.

Descriptions are body of text under the title in the search result. Effective descriptions give visitors a detail and a tacit promise of what they will see if they visit.

Here’s a great example of a title and description that works:

Rank better for your keywords

Page titles tell search engines what a page is about. You should include keywords in the title that reflect the content of the page and that you want to rank for. Ideally, you want to put the keywords first in the title, then (optionally) your site name or other branding information.

Examples of effective titles are:

  • How to get your site to page one in Google | Yo-Yo Dyne Web Marketing Inc. (Title with company name)
  • Seven avoidable mistakes made in B2B marketing and what to do about them
  • Do you have these common Web issues?

A great way to get ideas for your headlines is to look at titles from magazines as well as headlines on sites like Digg and Twitter. Look for titles forms that are compelling and collect them for future use on your pages.

Use compelling descriptions

Think of descriptions as opening paragraphs. They need to hold the readers interest and begin to deliver on the promise of the title. Descriptions can contain keywords but should look more like a sentence they compels the reader to click.

Use Header Tags

Like an outline, Header tags show search engines and visitors the structure of your document. To reflect the hierarchy of the document, major topics should use H1 or H2 tags and subheads should use higher number tags. For titles and headlines you’ll want to use the H1 tag.

Use Bold and Italics

As with good writing, bold and italics are used to make a word of passage stand out from the rest of the paragraph. Use them the same way on your pages.

Non-HTML File Types

Are you using FLASH, Video or PDF files on your site? To improve ranking for these types of pages, consider the following:

Optimize PDF files

Here are a few improvements if you are using PDF files:

1) PDF files reading order controls what text is seen first by the search engines. The first text seen is often what search engines display as a description in the search results. This allows you to approximate the functionality of the meta description tag. Most PDF creation tools allow you to set reading order of the document.

2) Be sure that your PDF is comprised of text as opposed to graphics. Take a look at the cache for the page in text format to see if you have readable text in your PDF doc.

3) For greater control over the ranking factors, consider creating an HTML version of your PDF files. Since users often prefer to view PDF files if available, be sure to include a link from the html document to the PDF. To keep the PDF version out of the search engine’s index be sure to disallow it in your “robots.txt” file and to use a “nofollow” link from the HTML version to the PDF file.

This post is getting a bit long, I’ll cover the rest of the factors in part 2.

Return to the List of B2B Web Marketing Articles in this Series

If you have questions, please leave a comment below.

B2B Web Marketing 101- a Ten-Part Series

This tutorial is designed to help you close more customers as a result of your B2B Web Marketing efforts. It covers things you need to do, as well as things you should avoid.

We’ll show you how to target professionals making complex purchase decisions involving multiple people, large budgets and that often have a broad impact on company operations.

In short–if you want to use you Website to help sell complex, technical products and services–this series is for you.

Each lesson provides specific improvements for your site, followed by suggestions on how to implement them. We give equal weight to the most important aspects of Web Marketing from: attracting qualified prospects, to technical search optimization to conversion strategy.

To improve your B2B Web Marketing, you should focus on three key areas:

  • Fixing “Broken Things” That are Costing you Traffic and Sales
  • Making Simple Yet Highly-Effective Changes to Your Site
  • Implementing an Ongoing Web Marketing Plan (Links and Content)

Later in this series, we will provide you with recommendations for training and additional resources. Please leave us a comment if you have questions.

A Ten-Step B2B Web Marketing and Lead Generation Tutorial

The ten articles are show below, new content will be added each week. Please comment and let me know what other kinds of articles you would like to see.

  1. What results can I expect from these website changes?
  2. Are these 10 deadly web problems costing you Traffic and Sales?
  3. Small changes that can make a big difference
  4. Are you wasting time and money on useless activities
  5. Ideal and target prospects content and keyword research
  6. Generating and Selecting Keywords
  7. Creating content (for the product or service life cycle, and by role and niche)
  8. Improving conversions with great copy
  9. Long term content, structure and linking strategy
  10. Using Social Media to improve sales

If you would like to learn more about Web Marketing, consider our Training Programs and Coaching.

Here are some additional articles about Web Marketing that you may find interesting:

https://www.sales-training-lead-generation.com/

B2B Web Marketing Goals

Improving your site takes time and effort. Anyone who promises big gains overnight is not being honest lying.

This series outlines a safe, long-term Web Marketing approach that gets results and avoids tricks that might get your site dropped from Google.

What can you expect from this series

I suspect you either want to learn how to improve your site and do the work yourself or you would like to learn enough to get the best from a consultant that you retain to do web marketing for you.

This series can help with both. While not an exhaustive examination of the topic, we do focus on common, practical tips that should help you make substantial progress.

Please enjoy the articles and let us know what you think in the comment section below.

Avoid B2B Web Problems that Cost You Sales

Web Issues Costing you Traffic and Sales – a Checklist

The first thing I do when working with a new company on their Web Marketing is to review their site to see what we can quickly fix. In this post, I discuss many of the issues that can cost you Web traffic and sales:

Unreliable Site Hosting

Problem If your site is down, customers and Google can’t access it.

To see if your site is unreliable – Try a service like: Siteuptime or Basicstate (these are not free). Services can check your site every 15 minutes or so, and give a complete picture of your site’s up time. If you don’t want to use the service, you can manually visit your site each day–not as effective as a service, but better than nothing.

To address the site failures – you may want to change hosting providers, or at least upgrade to a higher level of service on your existing host.

Slow Site Performance

There is some talk of Google using “page load” performance as one of the many measures of quality and trust. Even if this were not the case, the attention span of the average user grows ever shorter. If your site loads too slowly (a somewhat subjective concept), you can use the Firefox plug in “yslow” to help detect why the page loads slowly.

To fix the issue – You can upgrade your host provider or service level. In addition content distribution networks are useful in many cases.

Invisible or Missing Site Content

Problem If Google has no content to index, you won’t rank. Often caused by using FLASH or Graphics instead of text.

To determine if you have a content issue Look at how Google “sees” the text on your page to make sure there is enough text for Google to understand what the page is about. You need to write for user experience, and to be sure there is text for Google to “see”.

To check this:

1) Type the command: cache:http://www.name-of-your-page.com into the Google search box. This returns the screen below:

2) Click on the hyperlink labeled “Text-only version”

3) Google will display the web page with the text as Google “sees” it. If you don’t see any text, or just a few words, you need to check and see why.

To Address the Issue – If you use FLASH or graphics instead of text on your site, you may find there is no text shown at all. You need to change the page (by adding text) so the keywords that you are optimizing for are visible to Google.

Link Naming Problems (Canonical Naming Issues)

Problem – When you link to a page in your site, you need to be consistent with the link structure or you will reduce your ability to rank well for important terms. It turns out that: “mysite.com”, “www.mysite.com” and “www.mysite.com/index.html” are all different addresses. Most standard hosting setups will resolve the addresses and show the right content, but when you link to a page, you need to be consistent and only use one address. This can be an issue if you are not careful with you internal site links and will often be an issue when other sites link to yours

How to see if you have a canonical naming issue To see if you have this issue try this:

In Yahoo Site Explorer, (http://search.yahoo.com) in the search area:

Type:       “links:www.your-site-name.com”       ….. see how many links are returned

Type  “links:your-site-name.com”  ….. see how many links are returned

Type    “links:www.your-site-name.com/index.html”    ….. see how many links are returned

Type   “links:www.your-site-name.com/index.php”   ….. see how many links are returned

If the number of links is different, you have the issue.  (Note, not all addresses may be valid for your site.)

To address the issue -There are a couple of ways to address this issue:

1) Use an .htaccess file on your Linux server (or httpd.ini for MS server), or PHP code on the page itself to redirect all permutations of a page to the one true (canonical) name. With this change any address will be redirected to the one true address and all links will by extension point to the same (correct) page. You must be sure to use an 301 (permanent) redirect to adhere to Google’s guidelines.

2)The second method is Google specific. It requires that you change the preferred URL in Google webmaster tools for your site to you preferred address. This method will ensure that Google give you “credit” for all links, but will not redirect bad addresses (that don’t resolve ) to the proper page.

Here is a post describing the Google method from their site: naming issue

–There are many articles on redirects, try searching for: “301 redirects” in Google.

Site Virus or Malicious Code

Problem – This is one of the worst issues, you may have a problem and not even know it. This often happens when you leave the access to files on your server open to the public. It can also happen because of malicious hacks in plug-ins for platforms like WordPress.

How to detect it – Turn on safe browsing in Firefox (options->security) or Internet explorer (options->security) these settings should flag malicious pages on your site.

Use Google webmaster tools for your site. Google will tell you if any pages are suspect and allow you to fix the problem and get the page reindexed. Google’s search results will also show a warning screen when you go to any page that has malicious code on it. If you see this screen on a page from your site, Google has flagged it bad. This can affect the traffic and rankings for your entire site.

How to address the issue – Remove the bad source code from the page and all files on your site. It is beyond the scope of this post to cover the details. Please refer to the technical documents for your platform for help.

Incorrect Site Changes

Problem Creating “orphan” pages that are no longer linked to your site. If you make changes that leave old pages out of your new site structure, you lose built up ranking and trust. You also create a bad experience for users who find the old pages in a search. Here are the typical things that cause this issue:

  • Creating a new version of an existing site with new pages names
  • Creating a new site on the same URL and deleting the old one
  • Moving a site to a new domain
  • Changes in technology or implementation (pages ending in .php vs .html)
  • A company is purchased and their site is folded into the site of the buyer.

The core problem is that your existing site has pages in Google’s index that rank for terms that you care about. Your pages also have links from external sites and your own site (internal links). When you make any of the changes above, you are creating new pages and often new content. To compound matters, if the implementation of the site changes (say from a static HTML to a dynamic PHP based site) all the new page names will be different.

If you just blow away the existing pages on your site, you lose all those indexed pages (and credit for the links to them). Worst of all, when a user finds the old pages in the search results, they get an error when they try to visit.

How to tell if you have a problem – Go to the Google search window, type: “site:www.your-site.com”

Google will return all pages from your site in it’s index. Each of these pages needs to be redirected to the new pages in your site so the user sees the expected result. You can also use Google’s Webmaster tools to determine any visits to your sites that result in errors.

How to fix the problem – Use 301 redirects to point the old pages to the new pages on your site. For larger sites, you may want to move the pages over in groups and see how long it takes Google to index the new pages. Over time you can migrate all your pages.

Useless Pages Indexed in Google

Problem indexed source code, script files, webshop pages, and other pages of this ilk  may be pushing valuable pages out. I see this often with technology companies. Their web site has example scripts and code that may be of use to users, but not much use for ranking for keywords. Worse yet, many of the script files contain common text (headers, common parameters, etc.), which also causes Google to flag the pages as duplicate content.

Google decides how important your site is using proprietary ranking factors. Based on this decision, there are a finite number of pages that Google will index for your site. The only way to get Google to index more of your site’s pages is to keep adding quality links. The problem with indexing useless pages is that these pages take some of the slots allotted by Google that could be used to index more desirable content.

How to tell you have the problem – From the Google search prompt, type the command:

“site:www.your-site.com”

Google will return all the pages that they have indexed for your site. Us the page navigation to move through each of the pages looking for files and directories that you do not expect to be indexed. These pages and directories will become your target list for removal.

How to fix the Issue – There are several ways to get content out of Google’s index:

  1. Use your robots.txt file to keep Google from indexing files and directories
  2. Use the robots meta tag (noindex, nofollow) on any page that you do not want in the index
  3. Use java script to block access
  4. Use .htaccess to password protect pages
  5. Tell Google’s Webmaster’s tools to drop the page

Content is Blocked

Problem  If Google can’t see your content, it can’t rank it. This happens when tags or robots.txt are used to stop Google from accessing pages that should be indexed.

How to Tell if You have the Problem – As we did in the example above, use the site command or use Webmaster tools to verify that all pages that should be in the index are.

What to do about the issue – To get the pages back in the index, fix the technical problem. If you don’t see the page back in the index in a few weeks, try adding some internal and external links to the page.

Title and Tag issues

Problem Simple, yet often overlooked, title and tag issues are crucial to ranking in Google. The title and description tags control what the user sees when your pages come up in the search results. At minimum you need to:

  • Have a unique title for every page of your site with the key words that you want to rank for in it.
  • Have a unique description for every page that tells the user a bit of detail about the page and spurs them to click on the result.

Ugly Page Names with session IDs

Problem Auto-generated page names look like ugly to users. These are those funny page names that have questions marks and numbers (due to session IDs) in them.  Ugly page names are bad for your users and can cause duplicate content issues.

What to do about it – Use “mod_rewrite” ( Apache Server parlance) or any other scheme supported by your CMS or platform to change the title to “human readable” form.

If you have questions, please leave a comment below.

How to Discover a Companies History-B2B Sales Research

by Pat on April 20, 2009

Mr-Peabody-and-Sherman-Jay-Ward-400x224One of the best ways to get great historical information about an account that you are trying to break into is to use a little-known site called The Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org). Many of my sales training customers have never heard of this site, but once they see it, they love it!

This site is also know as the wayback machine, a reference to the time machine used Sherman and Mr. Peabody in a segment of the Saturday morning cartoon Rocky and Bullwinkle.

The internet archive has been quietly capturing  historical snapshots of many popular sites since 1996. You can use the archive to find lots of interesting data about a company even if they have changed or even taken down their site. Here are some examples:

  • Who were the officers of the company, who were their predecessors, who proceeded them.
  • What did they say in old (and possibly no longer archived) news/press releases?
  • What was their market focus, has it changed over time?
  • Did they acquire any other companies or change their name?
  • Have they had job openings for people who could buy you product or service?

I’ll bet you can think of lots of other interesting B2B sales info to gather as well, let’s take a look at an example of how you might use the archive:

To find out who was on the initial senior management team?

  1. Surf over to the archive site: http://www.archive.org
  2. Type in the URL of the company you would like to research, i’ll use: www.windriver.com
  3. Click on the earliest possible date shown, in my case June 26, 1998
  4. Click on corporate, then click on background, then senior management
  5. You should now be looking at a list of executives who were in place in 1998!

Now try the same exercise using March 29th, 2004

  1. Click on about us
  2. Then click on corporate bios
  3. You will that their are some changes in personnel

You can poke around your target site and get a look at old news items, shows attended, partners you get the idea.

One thing to note, the archive does not get data from every site. The best thing to do is pick a site and check it out.

Please let me know if you have questions or comments

Good Selling

Press Release Secrets for B2B Lead Generation

What are the best ways to use online PR to generate leads for high technology hardware and software products. Let’s take a look at PR from both a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Lead Generation perspective.

Where Should I Place My Press Releases?

There are several places where you should put your online releases, depending on your budget and goals:

  • Online Trade Journals, Portals and Magazines – Relevant publications that can drive lots of quality traffic to your site.
  • Free Press Release Services – Generally of low quality, but some may provide value.
  • Paid Release Services – These run the gamut from quite good to horrible. Selection is key and you don’t always get what you pay for.

How to Choose the Best Websites for Your Press Release?

Two key factors should drive your site choice: Web traffic generation and SEO link value.

Web traffic value – The number of visitors who come to your site by clicking on a link in the press release. Sites with web traffic value will be relevant to your topic and also be popular for related terms in the search engines.

Choose a site that ranks well–and a popular keyword or phrase– and your release could end up on the first page results for Google. Page one means lots of new traffic from people clicking through to your site from the release.

How to Determine Web Traffic Value

To determine the web traffic value, you can look at your web sites analytics reports for referral traffic. This will show which of the current press releases (and sites) are currently generating the most traffic for you. If you have not used press releases or do not have analytics data, you could ask a partner with a related but non-competitive product for this information. In addition, some trade journals and press release services can provide traffic estimates.

SEO link value – is the value of web links from the press release to your web site. Press releases with more link value will help your web pages rank higher in the search engines. Sites with Link value will be relevant to your topic, be popular for related terms in the search engines and allow you to control various on-page aspects of your release such as anchor text and page title.

How to Determine Web Link Value

To determine the SEO Link value, you should use verify the following:

  • The site ranks well for your keyword or phrase. (Press releases show up high in the search engine results for the site.)
  • The release allows a link back to your web site
  • The link is a normal link and not a nofollow link which passes no link value.
  • The link allows control of the page title
  • The link allows control of the anchor text or the link back to your site
  • The site allows Multiple links from a release to your site

The more features that are available, the better your link will be.

What to Put in an Online Press Release

In the online release, you would put information about your product. The trick to ranking well is to use keywords and phrases in your release that are specific to your product and to choose trade journals and press sites that will rank high in the search engines for your release.

It also is crucial that you use a compelling title that describes a benefit of your product in the release. You should be careful not overuse any key word or phrase in a release. Your best bet for avoiding key word overuse is to use several common variations of or synonyms for any important phrase. Placing words that a user may type in a phrase are best grouped in close proximity to each other in your release.

How Do I Find Good Online Homes for My Press Releases?

To find the best places to put your online releases, you need to focus on:

  • The Relevance of the Site to Your Product
  • The Search Engine Popularity of the Site for Your Product
  • How Hard it is to Get Your Release Placed
  • The Cost, If Any
  • How much Traffic The Release Can Generate

Let’s take a look at how you would find good online sites for your releases.

To find relevant, popular journals, simply type a search term that relates to your product into Google:

For example if you were selling new multimedia management software, you could type that phrase into Google. When I did this, four of the results (including the 2nd result) were press releases from various sites.

By typing in various phrases related to your product, you can come up with a list of places where you can put releases. As you look at the results, be sure to note where your competition is listed so that you can do the same. The key here is to find the trade journals and press sites that rank well for the terms that you care about, and then to get your release placed there.

How Hard is it to Get Your Online Press Release Placed?

So now that you have found likely homes for your releases, it is time to see how to submit your news.

First look at the page and see if there is a submit news or submit press menu or button which leads to a page. Some journals may also list the page with the form as submit story or submit product news. If you cannot find the submit page by inspection, you can use a more complex Google search: site:name-of-trade-journal.com submit

If this fails, you may want to look for an editorial calendar. This section may have information on how to contact editors and getting them to place your release.

Should You Pay to Put Your Press Release Online

 

If you use the search criteria described earlier to find potential homes for your releases, some of the sites that you find will charge a fee. In general, if the value is good (link value and/or traffic value), it may well be worth while to pay. I would be sure to get as much information about the results that you can expect before you pay for a release before you place the release. In addition, I would carefully track results on you site to see which sites and releases product the best results best for you and your market.

Using Online PR to Dominate Page One of the Search Results

Instead of doing just one online release, why not do a number of them. The value here is that if your choose the right online journals and press sites, you can blanket the first page of Google’s results. Your end goal would be to have the first page of search results for your product or service to contain a result for your web site, and as many press releases as possible for your product. When a searcher looks at the results, they keep seeing your product and site mentioned. This kind of visual saturation will usually cause them to click through to your site.

Sales Leads Now – 7 Ways to Boost Short Term Lead Generation

We need sales leads now it’s a common lament. What you do about it can make all the difference.

Maybe it’s the seasonal slump; maybe the market has slowed down. Whatever the reason, suddenly you aren’t closing enough business and the forecast looks bleak. Worse yet, if things don’t pick up and fast you’ll have to lay-off half of manufacturing.

Here are seven lead generation tips that I have found invaluable for creating a short term pop in leads and sales:

Online Press/New Product Releases – Periodic releases sent to a service on a monthly basis are great, but what I’m talking about here is a short term burst of activity that gets people to contact you now.

To be effective, pick one product to promote at a time. Create a product update announcement and press release about it.

Make sure you optimize the releases for keywords and links back to a dedicated landing page on your site. Submit both releases to one paid release service (I like send2press) and as many of the free services as possible.

For best results on the free side, focus on online trade journals for product news and press releases. These tend to be highly relevant to your market and often will show up well in the search engine results.

To find relevant online journals, try a Google search: inurl:submit-news yourkeyphrase Make sure the yourkeyphrase is general enough to give you some results.

Web Site Tweaks – Are you getting traffic, but not converting visits into leads? Try these tips:

  • Avoid indirection; put the form right on the page and keep it short.
  • Try a small registration form with an offer of something free like a newsletter or white paper.
  • Try a so called name squeeze page. Create a page with compelling copy that is focused on one goal: getting the visitor’s name and contact information.

Are you showing up high in Google search results pages for most key search terms? If not, spend some time optimizing your site, I have seen cases where small changes can make a big difference in both traffic and leads.

Online Events – Hosting a webinar can be a quick way to boost sales, but the key is promotion. A good rule of thumb is to start promoting an event about six weeks ahead of the target date.

  • Do an email blast to all your existing contacts. You may also want to consider renting a list from a relevant source.
  • Be sure to clearly display the registration information on your web site. Also, use the popular online web-based event listing services as well as online industry trades and press to get the word out.
  • If you really want to pump up the visitors, try working with a large industry partner to cooperatively promote the event.

PPC Campaigns – Google adwords is kind of like Texas Hold’em poker, it takes minutes to learn and a lifetime to master. Adwords can be expensive if you are not facile with it, but it can bring results fast. Keep these pointers in mind when working with Adwords:

  • Avoid getting into bidding wars for top positions when lower positions can draw almost as well for a lot less money.
  • Be sure to judiciously use quotes around your key phrases to avoid paying for wildly unrelated phrases. (This is one of the most often overlooked aspects of adwords.)
  • Focus on so-called long tail keyphrases. These phrases are very specific (often less competitive) phrases in your niche. An example would be Sales Training for Engineers as opposed to the more generic and competitive term: Sales Training.

e-mail campaigns to your existing list – email campaigns can be effective if they are not construed as spam by the recipient. You can rent lists or directories, but the best approach is to use a list of contacts that has had contact with you in the past. (This also helps you to not run afoul of the spam laws.) Existing contacts are usually comprised of some the following groups:

  • Existing customers

  • Past prospects that did not buy

  • People that have contacted you about your products or services in the past

  • Newsletter subscribers

  • Past event attendees

If you have a large number of contacts, you may want to segment them into manageable chunks. Mailing to fewer accounts affords you the time to do proper follow up on the program. As we will discuss in the next section, targeted follow up calls and direct mail can greatly increase the response to your campaign.

You can also segment by business potential. For example, you may have a handful of contacts from accounts that have the potential to be large customers for you. You should cull these from the list and give them special attention. A prospect specific letter and a little research can go a long way here.

The types of campaigns that bring the best results typically include some kind of special offer of something of value to the recipient. Examples of special offers include: free white papers, ebooks and webinars as well as tip sheets, free software and resource directories.

Calls to existing lists – Cold calls are often less effective than they could be because the contact does not have any idea who you are. By calling to your existing list you can reference the previous contact on the call or in a voice mail message and establish some credibility with the target.

Multiple touch lead generation (using multiple communication methods in a sequence) is the key to success here. You should have a systematic program (using email, direct mail, calls, etc) that keeps you in the prospects mind.

Have you ever had the experience of hearing about something say a new type of car and then find that you see them everywhere? This is the power of multiple touch with your prospects, if they see your name enough, it will sink in.

Before you pick up the phone to call, take the time to do a bit of research on the prospect. You will really stand out from the heard if you go to their website and study their business a bit. What are the latest press and news stories about them? Have they recently had a re-org, been through a merger? Have they just received a new chunk of funding, announced a new product? What was the previous contact with them all about? Were they interested but had no budget, did they choose a competitor? Anything you can find will help you to be more relevant to their needs.

Call your partners – Partners can be a great source of short term sales opportunities. Work directly with the sales reps at your key partners. Before you consider working with a partner, be sure you are comfortable with their approach to selling and their reputation on the street. Once initial trust is established, the formula is simple give a lead to get a lead.

Start with an overview conference call or meeting to determine overall fit. Do they call on the same types of accounts and functional areas as you? Are they active enough to be able to provide you with enough leads to make spending time worth while? Once you have determined that there is a fit, take some time and do a lead swap with them. Be prepared to give them a few currently active projects or at least some valuable contacts in organizations they may want to penetrate. Expect to get roughly the same type and quantity of leads in return.

Attend Lead Generation Training – Shameless plug alert! This article gave an overview of some of the short term lead generation activities available. If you interested in learning about the latest lead generation strategies and techniques in more detail, we offer fast, effective customized lead generation training and consulting.
Technology Sales Help can help you generate more leads, grow sales and avoid costly mistakes. Please call Pat Shaughnessy (978-808-0626) for a no-cost lead generation or sales process consultation. If you prefer, you can use our online form to ask questions or arrange a discussion.

Launching a Start Up Better Do This First

If you are planning to start a company, there are a number of web related things that you need to do right away. Even if you don’t expect your great idea or product to be ready any time soon, you must do these things now if you want to get leads from your web site.

Why is this such a big deal, I can get a site up pretty fast?

Yes, getting a site up is pretty easy these days. The real issue is that for your site to be of value to you, it needs to be much more that an online data sheet. Your site is a crucial part of your branding, marketing and lead generation process and as you will see in the next few sections: Getting to critical mass takes time.

Google Sandbox: Age Before Beauty

All things being equal Google loves older sites. You can have a beautiful site with the latest graphics and video, the best content and all the latest social media do-dads, but in order for your new site to rank (show up in Google when someone searches for a related term), it takes time.

The reason for this is the so called “sandbox” effect in Google’s search algorithm.

The concept of a sandbox is not a literal penalty, it is simply the result of the many filters that Google uses to establish weather it can trust your site. The most notable of the filters is the age of the site. In general terms the older a site, the more Google trusts it.

Does Google Know That Your Site Exists?

In practice, the sandbox delay can be several months or more. The key thing to remember here is that the age is not when you purchased the URL name, it is when Google first learned about your site.

You can tell if Google knows about your site by typing the site command in your browser:

site:www.sitename.com

For example:

site:www.sales-training-lead-generation.com

Will cause Google to report back the pages that is has in it’s index.

If Google returns:

Your search – site:http://technologysaleshelp.com/ – did not match any documents.

You are not indexed.

How to Get your Site Indexed in Google

If you find that you are not in Google’s index yet, how do you get in?

There are lots of ways to get in, but the one I would suggest is to get a link from another established (already in Google’s index) site. If you own such a site, you can do the link yourself. If you don’t have a site that is established to link from, you could ask someone else for a link.

As an alternative, you can simply pay to get listed in one of the human reviewed directories such as: yahoo, business.com, etc.. Be sure to use one of these or another human edited and reviewed directory as Google tends to trust them more since a human editor is involved in the process.

Before you submit your site, make sure that all the pages are finished and that there are no under construction pages. These things can cause the editor of a directory to reject you.

Once you have been accepted by a directory, you should be listed in short order. Once you are listed in the directory, or have a link using one of the methods I described earlier, Google will pick up the location of your site from the link and follow it to your home page. Once Google has visited your site, it will index it in short order.

What to Do if You’re Not Sure When Google Learned About your Site

To get some idea of how long your site has been indexed in Google, you can also look at the internet archive or wayback machine (www.internetarchive.com) to see historical entries for your sites pages by date.

If your site has pages in the archive, the earliest date in the list is a rough indicator of how long Google has been aware of your site.

Please note that this a rough indication only, your site may have been indexed before the first date indicated by the wayback machine. The one thing you can be sure of is that it was NOT indexed before the first date shown.

Come up with a Theme for Your Site’s Content

When Google looks at your web site, it tries to figure out what it is about. In the same way you read a document, Google looks at the words used, how often they are used, etc.. After you have read a page in a document you think things like:

  • That page was crucial to the message
  • That page was about small Blue widgets and how to buy them

When you have read all the pages you think things like:

  • Page 1, the Blue widgets page, is the key idea of the document
  • Page 3, the Small Blue Widgets page really helped me understand why I need them

The writer of the document wanted to reveal the information to you in a logical manner and a theme was the natural byproduct of the writing. Without a theme the document is harder to understand kind of like this one :>) !

You can help Google to understand what your site is about by organizing it into themes. Here is a simple example of a Blue Widget Theme:

In this picture, the top level represents your home page. The second tier is where you would put specific versions of the thing represented in the top or main theme.

The goal is to keep decomposing the topic into more and more detail.

Don’t Nest Too Deeply

One thing to keep in mind when creating a hierarchical theme, is that Google is more likely to look at pages (and count them as more important), if they are not nested too deeply in the site’s structure.

As a rule of thumb, important pages should not be more than 2 hops (2 levels below) your home page.

An average site might have anywhere from 3 to 5 themes or more. The goal here is to keep related topics together.

Support The Theme with Popular Keywords

Once you have your themes, you need to chose words and phrases to use in the content of each page. You can use tools like Google’s keyword research tool to help you decide which words and phrases are searched for most often. As you write each page, be sure to use the words and phrases that you found along with their common synonyms.

Web Savvy Names for your Site, Products and Services

I want to talk about naming conventions as they relate to ranking well in Google. What I am about to suggest, from a pure branding and marketing point of view, may repulse some people. That’s OK, my intent is to discuss names that will help you rank better in search engines like Google. You can take this advice combined with an excellent treatment of creative naming such as the book: POP! Stand Out in any Crowd by Sam Horn, and be well on your way to the naming hall of fame.

As I mentioned before, Google likes themes. Using the themes, keywords and phrases you came up with earlier, you have a starting point for web-savvy product and site names.

Google-Savvy Product Names

If you sell Blue Widgets (and who doesn’t) you could go with product names like: Blue Widget PRO or Blue Widget Ultra. The value here is that your product names will appear everywhere from articles to online press releases to the pages of your site. If your product names contain key words, it will help you rank better for those words.

Google-Savvy Site URL Names

Once again, themes are key here. You should try to get several of your most important keywords in your URL, and try to get them in order of importance. For best results, try to get them in the actual form that you expect people to type them in when they are searching. Lets take our Blue Widget example and try to come up with some good site names.

“blue widget planet”, might be a good one to try. Remember, URL s can’t have spaces, so you need to string the text together or use a separator character.

bluewidgetplanet or blue-widget-planet

Although the search engines are getting smarter and can probably disambiguate the bluewidgetplanet version, the blue-widget-planet is better since Google already treats the dash as a space.

That said, saying all those dashes on the phone can be confusing to your customers. As a work around, I would suggest purchasing both names and even a possible third short hand version (something like www.bluewpt.com) to make it easy to understand.

You can now use the best one for Google ranking as the location for your site (http://www.blue-widget-planet.com/), then use a 301 redirect  for the other two, to point them to the same place. This would mean that typing in any of the three URLs would all take you to your site.

If you follow these simple steps, by the time you are ready to launch your start up, your site will be indexed and ready for you to start the lead generation process.

B2B Sales Training

b2b-sales-training-programs

Demo Skills Training – Would you like to make your sales demos a secret weapon that wows prospects and wins deals? Is your team showing up and doing demos–only to find out later that they lost the deal? This fun, interactive training session is specifically designed to make your sales demos more effective. Learn how you can improve your software, hardware and system level demos by taking our Demo Skills Training Workshop>

B2B Sales Training – Does your team need to sell at high margins, even in a tough economy. Would you like to shorten the sales cycle and break into more new accounts? Need to prevail over tough competition and grow average deal size? Our proven sales training will give your team the competitive edge they need to win the complex B2B sale. To learn more about our open and on site training classes and seminars follow the links: B2B Sales Training> , Key Account Sales Training> and Sales Prospecting >.

Sales Presentation Training – Do you and your team need to deliver sales presentations that win more sales, enhance your company’s reputation and leave prospects saying: ” Wow–I hope our sales team is that good!” This customized Sales Presentation Training is a fast-paced, effective way for your team to improve their skill regardless of their current level. Learn more about our Sales Presentation Skills Training>

Let’s Talk About Your Training Needs

We start things out right with a no obligation conversation. Give us a call (800-421-5824) or send us a message Ask us questions, pick our brains. We’ll give you straight answers, no strings attached. If it makes sense to work together, great–if not you’ll have a few new tips that you can use right away!