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Face to Face Demonstrations–Tips for Success

On-site demos act as a rallying point for technology purchasing decisions.

In fact, the demo may be the only chance you get to persuade some busy decision makers.


Here’s five tips to help you be more effective in your face-to-face technology demos :

1) Do Your Research

When highly-paid decision makers come to your demo, it costs your prospect’s company serious money; you owe it to them to be as prepared as possible.  Before the demo make sure to:

  • Interview all key players–understand needs, goals and issues
  • Find out who is FOR you and who may be AGAINST you in the sale
  • Discover ways in which your prospect would like to improve their business processes
  • Understand who your competition is

Based on this research, you can prepare a demonstration that is crisp, effective and contains exactly what they want to see.

2) Have a Teamwork Plan

Teamwork between sales and sales engineering is critical to demonstration success. To avoid mishaps, have a strategy for helping each other during the demo.

Here are some examples where planning ahead makes a big difference:

  • Hide demo set-up – While the sales engineer sets up the demo system, sales can do the company overview. The presentation takes the focus off you so that you can get your demo running without the pressure of a roomful of eyeballs on you! Agree on a signal to let sales know that the demo is up and you are ready to go, so they can quickly wrap up their presentation.
  • Reduce the impact of crashes – Sales should monitor the demo (as opposed to thumbing their Blackberry) so that they can come to your aid if a “bad thing” happens in your demo such as a crash. Sales can interject a comment, taking the audiences attention off you long enough to recover. Another good suggestion is for sales to keep a pack of Oreos in their bag so that they can “remember” to take them out and offer them to the prospect, buying you a bit of time. (This is especially effective with techies!)
  • Know what can be shown – Sales must be aware of what can and cannot be shown in the demo. Sometimes equipment or software is not working or a feature is not enabled–be sure to talk ahead of time to avoid embarrassment .

3) Make a Connection

All things being equal, prospects will buy from people they like. Making a connection is a combination of professionalism, social skills and competence.

  • Professionalism – Acting in a professional way, lets the prospect relax and focus on your message. Prospects expect you to keep things business like. Save political and religious topics for your friends. Be specific in all communication; make it easy to work with you.
  • Social Skills – Although, your purpose is strictly business, sales is a PEOPLE business. Learn to move smoothly between pleasantries and your business message. For technical people this can be as simple as talking about fun or  interesting technology as a way to lighten up the call, then moving back to business. Remember, most people are busy and don’t want to spend a ton of time on small talk, but they do want to get a sense for you as a person.
  • Competence – If you don’t know your stuff, today’s savvy prospect won’t want to work with you no matter how nice you are. Everyone has lots to do and if you waste their time once, it will be the last chance you get to do so! Work hard to become a knowledgeable resource for you prospects and customers.

4) Build Credibility

Come off too slick and prospects will suspect they’re being misled. To be credible, you need to prove that you understand their world and back up any claims that you make.

Early in the demo, you may have to show every feature to prove it’s real. As the demo progresses–provided you project honesty, knowledge and understanding–you will be able to say more and show less.

5) Close for Next Steps

As you conclude the demo, make sure to recap and outline what should happen next.

  • What have they asked about?
  • When will you get back with them?
  • What is the next step in the process: an evaluation, another meeting?

Based on your pre-demo goals, you should request specific actions that move the sale forward.

If you are interested in improving your face-to-face sales demos, please visit our Demos Skills Training page.

Software Demos 4 Tips for Improvement

Get some toothpicks for your eyes and a case of Red Bull, were gonna do a software demo!

Software demos are the cornerstone of technology sales. Here’s 4 tips to make your next software demo better:

Short Software Demos are Best

Our demos are too long. That’s probably the most common issue about that I hear about when I do Software Demo Training Classes. The reasons it’s so prevalent are:

  • We hate to leave any of the best features out, even if the prospect might not care
  • We like to show things a couple of ways to prove how flexible the product is
  • We’re used to doing product training where we show every single menu
  • Our product is very technical–we have ton of detail to cover
  • We have a big product stack (lots of different products) so it takes a while

Let’s take each of these in turn and discuss how we can do better.

The most important thing you can do to shorten your demo

If you’re having issues with long demos, the most important thing you can do is to spend more time understanding the prospects specific needs.

Talk to your sales person. Have the prospect complete a demo form outlining what they want to see. Once you understand their needs it’s easy to decide what to cover and what NOT to cover!

I hate to leave any important feature out of the demo

Engineering worked hard to put these features in, you may have even been the one who requested some of them. I get that, but here’s where it can hurt you.

You’re showing things your prospect isn’t interested in. That means:

  1. They will get bored.
  2. They may see something that turns them off on the product!
  3. The extra detail we show will make the product look complex and hard to use

Next time you do a demo, try to get more detail from sales on what they want to see and what they don’t–only show that. You may be surprised at how much smoother things go.

I want to show how flexible the product is

Showing things multiple ways is fine for training, but it’s a disaster for demos. Next demo, pick the best way to do something and only show that. I’m not saying you can’t show off some GUI bells and whistles; just pick the slickest looking path and weave it naturally into your demo.

We are used to doing product training

When technical support or the training group are asked to to demos, too much detail is a very common problem. Support people have little or no training in sales, and as such don’t know what to show. Without guidance they tend to show everything. Worse, yet, they may know the screens and menus very well, but they often lack the big picture understanding needed to relate the product to the prospects real business issues.

To help people with no sales experience do better demos, you need to be explicit about what they should show for each prospect. You may even want to script out what you want them to do and say. In time, many will be able to better demos with less input from you.

Our product is very technical

This is often a byproduct of poor qualification of the prospect’s needs. Technical product are complex, but the business problems they solve are less so. If you can understand exactly what the prospect wants to see and what they don’t care about, you can drop tons of unnecessary detail.

For you next demo, start with a short succinct list from your sales person, then focus on creating a demo path (a story) that shows how the business problem is solved. Make this path as short as possible while maintaining the integrity of the demo story.

We have a big product stack

This issue is common in larger organizations that have done lots of company acquisitions to build out a more complete solution for their customers. I’ve seen situations where the sales engineer (or a team of sales engineers) is expected to show the end-to-end solution for 10 or more products!

Multiple product demos are a burden for prospects interested in only a portion of your solution. No one wants to sit through the entire show if they don’t need what is being covered. In these situations, it’s crucial that you focus on your prospects specific needs and show as little as possible in the best way possible.

Use the right approach for the medium

Modern demos can be live, web based, and even canned (down-loadable, CD based, etc…). Each mode has unique advantages and disadvantages, be aware of them.

Web demos, are less interactive and you often can’t tell if the audience is with you or not. There are several ways to fight this:

  • Have a sales person on-site with the customer to act as your eyes and ears. They can help keep the audience engaged and let you know when you need to change course to keep them interested.
  • Take advantage of the polling and online question features provided in web demo software.
  • Ask questions and allow the audience to respond.

Live on-site demos allow you to use physical props and to easily see the audiences reaction to you talk. You can also keep things interesting by going to the chalk board or even letting the customer try your gear (if this is a safe thing to do).

The down side of a face-to-face demo is that if something goes wrong, all eyes are on you. You can’t surreptitiously bring up another version of the app in the background as you can in a web demo. Next demo, be mindful of these subtleties and you will fare much better.

Encourage questions

If you are doing a sales demo for a single company, you have to allow questions–period.

It’s their show–you have to give them what they need. If you don’t they won’t do business with you. If there are dangerous questions or audience members who are hostile to you cause, be prepared to deal with it.

If you are doing a demo for multiple parties and companies, I would still say that you must allow questions, just be prepared to redirect or to ask to take the question off line if they try to take you too far afield.

Pay attention to things that elicit questions in your demos, incorporate them into your standard demo and be sure to develop a killer answers for each question. Questions are the key to audience involvement, without them you will never do your best demo.

Don’t pounce

Pouncing happens when you get a question from the audience for which you have a killer solution.

At first blush, this appears to be a perfect lead-in to you pitching the killer feature. Be careful. With highly technical products, it’s critical that you fully understand the question it’s impact on the prospects world before you answer.

The best approach is to drill down and try to understand why they want to do the operation. Ask what the effect of not having the feature is now. Ask them how they think they would benefit from it in the future.

The key is to sell value, not features. Prospects only see value when you relate your product to their needs. By jumping into your pitch as soon as you hear a question, you’ll miss the opportunity to get the full picture.

Please let me know what you thought of this article and ask any question you like below.

And be sure to check out our Demo Skills Classes

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.

The Sales Demo Information Form

In this post I want to share a form that I provide in my Demonstration Skills Class that helps sales teams prepare for technology demonstrations.

(Here is a link to a PDF version of the Demo Form that you can print out.)

The form is a great way to promote communication and cooperation between your sales and technical team and helps you capture all important demo information in one place.

Companies that have taken my training class have actually implemented a web-based variant of this form to be used by the sales team and integrated with their CRM tools.

Here is the demo form followed by a brief description of the key fields.

Demo Form

Company
Name:

Demo
Date: Demo Time:

Contact:          Phone:

Sales Person:Attending y/n

Goal of the Demo/Best Result:

Attendees:

Name

Title

Role

Interests/Issues/Questions

All

Jane Doe

Competition:

Competitor
1 – N

Notes

Products to Show

Product
1 – N

Notes

Here is a brief description of the fields of the form:

Title – The title of each person who will be attending your demo.

Role – The job function and duties of each person attending the demo. This is important as titles can be misleading.

Issues – These are the issues that the prospect is concerned with, the problems they are facing. This is also a good place to record things that should NOT be brought up in the demo because they would be detrimental to the sale.

Questions – This is where you would make note of any questions that the prospect posed during the sales cycle that should be covered in the demo.

Interests – This is where you would record the features that would be of interest to the prospect. The key is to only cover issues that are important to the prospect and to leave out all extraneous detail.

If you you cover things that they don’t care about you run the risk of making the product look too complex or provoking difficult questions.

A Web based Demo Form

We will be releasing a customizable Web Demo Information Form in the near future. If you are interested in adding a Demo form to your web site, please drop me a note for details and release dates.

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.

Sales Presentations-5 Tips for Handling Hostile Questions

Hostile questions can quickly derail your sales presentation or demo. These questions occur for any number of reasons including:

  • The questioner has a chip on their shoulder
  • The person wants to feel superior and raise their status in the group
  • They like the competition’s product or service
  • Your product or service threatens them or their job
  • They want to show that they know more than you do

I’m sure you can think of lots more.

Hostile questions can cost you the sale–or at the very least waste valuable selling time.

So, what can we do to handle hostile questions before they create problems?

Here’s 5 tips:

1) Avoid hostile questions in the first place – Know your audience, if someone on the team is against you, try to add points to your presentation that will preempt their objection.

2) Stay focused on their issues – Keep your presentation focused on the issues your prospects care about. Bring up a topic that’s not relevant, and you run the risk of hostile questions and comments.

3) Look for common ground – You may have a valid difference of opinion with your prospect, that’s OK if you try to find areas where you agree.

Let’s say they don’t agree with a new process that you are advocating. Find common ground by reminding them that they’re unhappy with the existing process and, while not without flaws, your process may help.

4) Defer to power – Often, if someone is hijacking the meeting, it’s bad for the prospect as well.

One technique that I often use is to ask the highest ranking manager if you should continue on this thread or in the interest of time, handle it off-line. The ball is now in the managers court. If they want to continue, hang in there. More often than not, if the questions are off topic or too hostile, the manager will help you get back on topic.

5) Defer to the audience – If you don’t know who has the power, you can ask the group as a whole if they want to continue on a thread or cover it off-line. Often they will be on your side and you’ll be asked to table the topic for later.

Here is another great post on handling tough questions from Steve Martin at Heavy Hitter Sales

If you want to learn more about our training classes please visit sales presentation skills training

Sales Presentations-Practice Without Powerpoint for Better Presentations

Has PowerPoint has become a crutch that tempts you to give presentations without proper preparation?

Selling complex B2B products often requires that you perform very detailed product presentations. As a result, most have come to rely heavily on PowerPoint as a substitute for product knowledge, and preparation.

So Many Slides, So Little Time

Most companies have voluminous sets of slides, created by marketing that attempt to cover every imaginable scenario. Worse yet, well-intentioned marketers often add lots of detail so that the slides double as product training for the sales force.

Armed with these slides, most salespeople mix, match and modify the slides-then head out to do their presentation.

So, What’s the Problem?

In competitive B2B selling, you only have one shot at delivering a great presentation; with PowerPoint as a crutch a myriad of things can go wrong:

* With PowerPoint in control as both the message and the media, you fade into the background
* You use way too many slides; hoping to cover everything, you ensure that they remember nothing.
* You read every bullet on every slide: they can read, your job is to say only what is relevant to them.
* You run short on time and have to rush through way too many slides
* You know the answer to their question is somewhere in the 100+ plus slides-now if you could only find it

The Solution: Practice Without PowerPoint and Stand Out From the Crowd

Next time you are preparing a presentation, try to practice it without the PowerPoint deck. Here’s how:
Understand Your Prospects Needs and Create a Story

First, think about the major issues that your prospect is facing, and the goals that they want to achieve. Armed with this information, pick the top three.

Next, come up with Case Study (user examples) of how your product helped other prospects in similar situations.

Finally, create short stories that relate how these customers stories are relevant to the problems faced by your prospect. With these simple stories, you are ready to create a presentation that sells.
Practice Your Presentation Without Slides

Now comes the practice. Do the presentation without slides. Start with an opening that summarizes the prospects situation, then relate the success stories. For complex technical products, you may want to go to the white board and diagram the topic. With practice you will get comfortable without the slides and learn to focus on the story that you are trying to tell.

Now Add Just a Few Slides

Once you are comfortable doing the presentation, it’s time to add in just a few slides. Be ruthless about removing the slides that you don’t need. In addition, you should limit the detail on each slide that you chose to keep. Try to use the slides for diagrams and data that are hard to reproduce by other means.

A good rule of thumb would be one slide for an opening, one for the current sitiation and one each for the stories. Your last slide should be a summary and call to action. The goal is to limit the detail on any slide and to limit the overall number of slides.

Showtime

When it’s time to deliver your sales presentation, you will be ready to focus on telling the audience how other companies like theirs solved problems with your products.

Demo Data Dumps – Do You Have This Common Problem?

You Might Be Giving LBTPDs

Long Boring Technology Product Demos (LBTPD) are way more common than you might think. Avoiding Demo Data Dumps is a key demonstration skill that you must master to help you avoid them.

Find Out if You Have a Demo Dumping Problem

To see if you are guilty of giving a LBTPD, due to Demo Dumping take the quiz below:

  1. Do you ever say “and another cool thing is”, be honest :>)
  2. Do you show more than 3-4 key features?
  3. Have you ever done a “menu walk” of the product to be sure that you did not miss anything?
  4. Does your sales person keep saying: “show them this, show them that”?
  5. When you ask for questions, do you hear crickets?

Have you ever watched a product demo where the presenter repeats again and again:

“And another cool thing is”

See the problem? People tie new information to what they already know. Cool doesn’t tie to anything.

By repeating the same words for every feature, you give them no road map, and no value proposition to latch on to.

OK, Maybe You’re Afflicted–What Can You Do About It?

PUT YOURSELF IN YOUR AUDIENCES’ SHOES!

Research the prospect’s needs before the demo if possible. If you can’t do pre-demo research, never just start showing features–ASK WHAT THEY WANT!

Sales Presentations 5 Creative Powerpoint Tips

PowerPoint has become the poster child for bad sales presentations; so, how about some ways that PowerPoint can enhance your next sales presentation? Here are  5 that I use in my sales presentation training seminars.

Make a Joke

Humor can be very effective, but be sure your that you have the right audience when you use it.

How about a slide of the Windows Blue Screen of Death to get them thinking there was a crash. (Would work best with an anti-windows crowd.)

You can also use the onetime 1-second flash of a bullet item to give a funny subliminal message. For example if you really want to get across the point that you are local to the prospect and you have mentioned it once or twice already, you could have a note flash by saying: did I mention that we are local.

Draw Attention to You

PowerPoint often upstages you by drawing the attention of the audience. Why not use this to your advantage. Try creating a slide that prompts the audience to ask you questions of a specific nature.

Put the Elephant in the Room for You

Need to bring up a sensitive topic? Try creating a slide for it that gets the audience thinking about it. For example try a slide like “What our customers say about our prices” that highlights the pluses.

Hide Detail Until you Need It

This is especially good for technical products with lots of detail or for the dreaded Company Overview. Try creating your main topic slides and for each core topic, then create additional slides that flesh out the detail.

To allow quick access, number the detail slides using the format: end slide number + 20+ main topic slide number, that way you can use the select slide number menu in PowerPoint to quickly locate the detailed slides.

Create a Proforma Scenario

Similar to the Elephant in the room, this tip can help you to make standard terms and conditions more acceptable. Using a slide codifies the policy as official and makes the prospect more likely to accept it.

For some great tips on PowerPoint in general you may want to check out check out this Rules of PowerPoint post by Guy Kawasaki.

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

Five Tips to Spice Up Your Next Sales Presentation or Demo

High-Tech demos and presentations are often dry and boring. To make your sales call more interesting and effective–try these simple tips

1) Use quotations. Here is an example of how to use a quotation to establish the expertise of your companies’ engineers. This would be a great lead-in to a presentation on professional services and consulting:

Niles Bohr once said, An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.

–By that definition, our engineers are clearly experts in embedded systems development. We have walked the same path that you need to walk, we have made all the mistakes so we can save you valuable time by showing you how to avoid them.

2) Use a provocative or colorful statement. This allows you to grab your audience attention and to show them that you understand their world. For example:

Embedded systems development is the cold showers and root canals of software development.

–You guys are experts. This stuff is hard and you have to be sharp to do it right. We make the job easier by providing tools that help you find the toughest problems fast.

3) Use statistics to increase the impact of your message. For example, you could open a presentation to small business owners on increasing sales with:

Seven of ten small businesses fail in their first five years of operation. The most common cause of failure is lack of sales revenue!

4) Use props and showmanship. You could open a talk on computer back-up storage systems with a fake accident where you spill a soda into the systems hard drive. (You could use an old or damaged system as the prop.)

After some mock panic about the accident pause, smile and say that last year 250,000 businesses lost critical data due to lack of adequate back-up storage procedures.

5) Change your mode of delivery. Stop in the middle of your slide presentation and ask if you can go to the white board to explore a topic with the audience. This shows you are not afraid to go off script and causes the audience to refocus their attention on your topic. The key here is to avoid working in one mode for too long: Overall,keep your demo brief!

If you or your team need to create and deliver exceptional presentations and demonstrations that win more sales, our Power Presentations Edge and Demonstration Edge Skills programs may be just what you need. We’ll be happy to create a class that is specifically customized to your market, product and team. Please feel free to Contact us for a free consultation, you’ll be glad you did.

Pat Shaughnessy is Principal and Founder of Technology Sales Seminars (www.sales-training-lead-generation.com), a sales consulting and training company that helps companies dramatically increase their sales. He can be reached at 1-978-808-0626 or Contact us via online form.

How to Project Confidence in Your Next Sales Presentation

To deliver a compelling sales presentation especially to executives it’s crucial that you project confidence. If you look nervous, timid or hesitant, your audience will begin to doubt you and your message.

Here are five sales presentation tips will help you to deliver your message with confidence, and win the respect of any audience.

Know Your Product, Technology and Market

Without the requisite product, technology and market knowledge it’s difficult to relax. As you present, you’re in constant fear that someone will ask a tough question and embarrass you.

As a rule of thumb, you should get to the point where you can answer 90% of the typical questions that may be asked by your prospects. Any less than 90% and you will risk losing the respect of your audience.

To help you get up to speed:

  • Read everything that you can: data sheets, manuals and marketing collateral.
  • Talk to others on your team and compare notes.
  • As you present, be sure to collect questions that you can’t answer. Look up the answers later and get back to the prospect.

 

Speak Slowly

As you present, its best to keep your pace conversational or even a bit slower than normal. Speaking slowly will make you look thoughtful and competent. Conversely, if you speak rapidly, you will appear nervous and unsure of yourself.

Use Pauses

Pauses increase the impact that your words have on your audience. Pauses project confidence. By pausing for a few seconds between thoughts, you show your audience that what you are saying is important. To project even more confidence, be sure to establish eye contact with your audience as you pause.

Avoid Filler Words such as UM and AH

Filler words, are distracting to your audience and give the impression that you are nervous. For tips on how to avoid them, please check out this post on filler words.

Use Short Concise, Complete Sentences

As you speak, you want to be sure to express your thoughts in as few words as possible. You don’t want to weaken your messages by throwing in extra thoughts just to fill the silence.

If you like this post, please consider subscribing to this blog. Please visit this link for more information on our sales presentation training class.

Demo Skills – Lose Your Audience and Lose the Sale

Yo Columbus, get your sextant and your buddy Magellan we’re going to watch some product demos!”

The Problem–You Never Told Them Where You Were Going

Have you ever started watching a demo, either on-line or live, and wondered: “Where the heck is this demonstration going?!?!?”

You know exactly what you want to see, but so far you can’t even tell if you’re watching the right demo.

It goes something like this:

Opening screen for the product is up

Demo Guy says:

“Let’s get right to it.

This so neat: You can change the color, let’s change from pink to blue, er light blue. “

“There. “

“Nice. “

“Now, let’s go back to pink. “

“The really cool thing about this is that you can make these changes on the fly and see what the screen will look like”

“OK, let’s see, your gonna love this!” “Watch how I can rearrange the rows!”

“Really cool right? I Bet you never saw drag-n-drop in a web browser before!”

“Wait till you see this next really cool thing!”

And on it goes.

Not once are we told what we are about to see; where we are going.

Not once are we burdened with details about how a particular feature would help us do our jobs.

Nope, we’re simply left to try to divine where this is all going from what we’re seeing.

We get to watch the whole demo (or not, if we can escape) before we decide if there is anything at all that we care about. Yikes!

SO, What can we do to avoid this all to common demo disaster?

What to do: Think Like a Customer

Think like a customer. It turns out that everyone has a set of questions in their head that MUST be answered before they relax and accept what you are saying.

Your job is to answer those questions as quickly as possible so that the viewer can settle in and relax for your demo.

The key questions are:

  • What are we talking about and where is this going?
  • Is this stuff of value for me?

Example Demo Sequence

Here is a quick outline to keep you on track next time you do a demo:

You can assume some context, some background knowledge. Perhaps you were introduced. Perhaps their was a handout. Just be sure to err on the cautious side not everyone will be up to speed, so be sure to include the necessary basics.

Here is an example from a demonstration of embedded debug tools to embedded systems Engineers:

“Today were are going to show you how our product helps you to:

1) “Bring up your new PowerPC hardware. If you don’t have stable hardware, you can’t beging to debug your software”

2) “Load embedded LINUX and some application code to the system and debug it. Our tools can debug LINUX application code even with the MMU and paging turned on, most tools can’t and this will save you hours of debugging time”

I will show the same steps that you would use with your new board, only my sequence will only take 10 minutes and I don’t have to ship a working product. Your work may take a bit longer !

“Is this what you were expecting to see today? Are there other areas that I need to cover, need to omit?”

Conclusion

Notice how I introduced the topics, the flow and then provided a benefit for each topic. Now the audience can let me know if I am on track or if I need to make adjustments. I have answered the key questions that all audiences have:

  • Where is this demo going?
  • What’s in it for me?

The’re now ready to receive my message loud and clear.

To learn more about our Demonstration Skills Training Seminars please visit: Sales Demo Skills Training

Moving from Inside Sales to B2B Key Account Selling

A question I’m often asked by companies who want to increase order size, margins and strategic account focus is:

What’s the best way to move from an inside sales model to key account selling?

Their sales people are typically responding to inquiries and closing orders on the phone for standard products, but not doing much face-to-face large account selling.

Since this is a pretty common scenario for my customers, I decided to discuss what it takes to make the transition from phone sales to big account selling in this post.

Why Make the Move to Face-to-Face Key Account Selling

The main reasons that most companies make the move to key account selling are:

  • To increase order size and margin
  • To do business and secure case studies with high status accounts
  • To increase the lifetime revenue from accounts
  • To make it difficult for the companies competitors to gain ground in their accounts
  • To get a company to standardize on a product or service offering
  • To stabilize bookings by pursuing both new smaller accounts and key account sales

If the transition is a success, the benefits are clear. So what are the challenges?

Cost Effective Travel

Moving to a face-to-face model means travel. The key is to be sure to measure and monitor costs and to get good ROI on money invested. Today, when e-mail, and phone contact are the norm, just showing up can give you a decided advantage. To maximize ROI be sure to take geography into account when assigning accounts.

Long term key account strategy and planning are crucial to ROI. If you have done account planning well, you should be able to schedule your trips well in advance and to take full advantage of fare discounts. Exceptions and emergencies happen, but they should be minimized where possible.

Need to Understand Customers’ Business Needs

In complex B2B sales, reps need to do develop a fuller understanding of their prospects business needs. The deeper their understanding, the more effective and creative the sales rep can be.

Preparing sales people to move to an outbound model is a critical step in the transition. To penetrate accounts at the deepest levels, you need access to a companies executives. Busy CXOs and team leaders will not meet with your reps just to fill them in on their business, even if they like them. Understanding the end customers specific business issues and situation becomes a chief concern.

Reps need to learn to create detailed key account profiles, and to monitor their accounts for changes that will create problems that your offering can solve.

Need to Understand the Large Account Multiple-party Decision Making Process

As the sale moves from a simple transaction to a complex process, the need to understand the account in detail is clear. Sales Reps need to identify and profile the key players that are involved in the sale. This requires the salesperson to learn to ask process questions to uncover who is involved and to ask situation questions to understand the role of each person. Large account sales training that includes extensive role play exercises is an ideal way to help reps to acquire this new and valuable skill.

Need to Move Beyond Benefits and Away from USP based Selling

To achieve a decisive competitive advantage, reps need to move beyond the basics. Unique selling proposition is a way to position your products, but it is also a position that can be difficult to defend over time in a major account.

The best key account teams are the ones that use their keen understanding of the account to craft creative customized solutions that solve problems. Key account Pros fight the urge to talk products and stay focused on the issues faced by their customer. In the highly competitive B2B market, this is the only way to maintain margins and to avoid being percived as just another peddler with a product.

Finding B2B Companies to Sell to with JIGSAW

JIGSAW (now owned by Salesforce) is an industry directory that can be used to find companies to call on, and to find prospects in those companies to reach out to.

JIGSAW is a reasonably priced service that provides good (and ever improving data).

I use JIGSAW daily, and have recommended it to many of my B2B-sales training customers.

This post will show you how to use JIGSAW to find B2B companies to target for your products and services.

How to find B2B companies that could use your product or service

When considering which accounts to target, here are a few of the questions you need to answer:

  • Does the prospect currently use (or could they use) your type of product or service?
  • Can they afford your solution?
  • Are they likely to face the challenges that would drive them to need your solution?
  • Is the account one of your assigned targets?
  • Is the prospect located in the geography in which you sell?

Say you are selling test equipment for electronic products software debug, what are the steps required to use JIGSAW to find companies that could use your product?

  1. Decide the titles and roles of contacts that use your product, and search for them.
  2. Decide the keywords for the types of technology used by these people and search for them.
  3. Narrow the list by company size, geography and other general criteria.
  4. Chose the best contacts, purchase them, and begin your entry campaign

Once you have your target accounts you can do more research to find out the best plan of entry and who the best contacts may be.  If you would like to try JIGSAW, please follow this link: try JIGSAW now>>

Efficient B2B Sales Account Research Tip

Before you make that first call, you need to understand the problems that the prospect faces that you can solve.
This B2B Quick Tip shows you a very efficient way to do account research on a prospects web site.

Most reps start working their way around the web site visiting pages like the: News, About, Product and Management trying to understand a bit about the account. For a much more effective way to get information, try using the Google site search operator to zero in on exactly what you want.

Here’s a couple of examples:

1) To Look for the names of Execs with a specific title

Use the Google command:
Site:http://www.nameofprospectssite.com vp sales
OR
Site:http://www.nameofprospectssite.com vp engineering

Use any title that makes sense and this will return any reference on the site to that title.

2) To see if they use a specific technology

Use the command:

Site:http://www.nameofprospectssite.com nameoftechnology

3) If you want to know if they face a specific challenge such as tanking revenues

Site:http://www.nameofprospectssite.com quarterly loss

4) To see if they make a specific type of product

Site:http://www.nameofprospectssite.com system OR instrument OR tool

To look for an event that provides an opportunity for you to sell, try:

Site:http://www.nameofprospectssite.com recall

OR

Site:http://www.nameofprospectssite.com new facility

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.