What Salespeople can Learn from Book Fairs

book fairsI’ve written several posts about how salespeople should act at tradeshows.

Having attended two book fairs in the Washington, D.C. area this month, I would like to share with you some tips I’ve learned that you help you sell better at trade shows.

The book fairs I attended were at Roscoe Neapolitan Pizzeria in Takoma Park, MD. and at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Md.

Here are my tips–

1). Smile – yes, you may have written a book about depression or divorce, but if you want to attract people to your table display, you need to smile. While the subject matter may have been difficult to write about, you don’t want to make it more difficult for people to connect with you and buy your publication.

2). Business cards – put your business cards on your table. If you’re busy speaking to someone, a potential customer could at least pick up your card and contact you later, or perhaps circle back when you have time to speak. Or better yet, if you are selling books, offer free bookmarks with your contact information.

3). Summary – when someone ask you what your book is about, be prepared to give them a one or two sentence summary or pitch. Don’t go into a long explanation. After summarizing your book, ask the attendee if he has any questions or interest in what you are selling. In other words, learn to engage with attendees.

4). Price Sheet – depending on the size of the book fair (or trade show), it doesn’t hurt to display your price sheet. Also, if you are offering a special “book fair” price only, make sure you mention that to attendees.

5). Apparel – if you want to attract attention, wear a funny hat or shirt displaying your book or subject matter.

paper bag6). Got bags?Jennifer Bort Yacovissi, author of “Up The Hill To Home,” a historical novel based in Washington, D.C., came up with an interesting idea to encourage books sales – She brought paper bags and gave them to her customers to carry books. Not a bad idea for someone like myself who likes to buy a lot of books.

7). Don’t share tables with other writers – yes, I know that you want to save money at book fairs. I get that. But nothing hurts your feelings more than someone returning later to buy your neighbor’s book and not your copy.

If you want to stand above the crowd, you need to stand alone.

8). Promote your attendance – don’t forget to promote your attendance on social media and your website so all your fans and friends can stop by and offer you morale support, not to mention purchasing your book.

9). Swag – providing free pens with your website and contact information never hurts.

10). Never give up – so you didn’t sell a lot of books at your book fair. Evaluate what you did right or wrong. Should you have had a larger table? Should you have created a better display of your books? Should you have rented a better location? Live and learn, and then move forward. There are more book fairs to come.

Frankly, selling at a book fair is a little tame and less stressful compared to working at a trade show. But I hope my tips will help you sell better in the future.

Note: If you like my post, please read my book Advice for New Salespeople: Tips to Help your Sales Career.

Can Sales and Marketing Get Along?

can sales and marketing get along?In one of the most famous quotes from 1990s, Rodney King asked “Can we all get along?”

That same question could also apply today for sales and marketing departments.

Are there really any conflicts between sales and marketing departments these days? Or are some people just hyping the conflict to sell books, promote seminars or…write blog posts.

It depends. Company leadership, culture and personnel can either create harmony or animosity between both departments.

Jen Kern, CMO at Tracx, and John Evans, Director of Sales at Celerity addressed some of the challenges they faced while working together at Celerity during a recent AA-ISP DC Chapter meeting on “The Dynamic Duo – Fueling an Integrated Marketing & Sales Engine.” (The event was hosted by WeddingWire in Friendship Heights, MD).

In a question and answer format, both Ms. Kern and Mr. Evans discussed how they were able to successfully increase sales at Celerity by forging a working relationship between sales and marketing. In fact, there were no real marketing efforts at all prior to Ms. Kern’s arrival at Celerity in 2011. Together, she and Mr. Evans were able to overcome some initial skepticism and resistance by demonstrating how marketing could help sales grow through lead generation.

According to its website, during the past 13 years, Celerity has grown to 8 regional offices, is generating more than $80 million in annual revenue, and has more than 500 employees. Not a bad track record.

Some of the key takeaways I got from the discussion –

1). Sales and marketing need to work together – not just in terms of achieving common goals, but also by proximity. The days of assuming that  marketing employees work in some mysterious ivory tower, sipping tea, submitting leads, and treating salespeople like a bunch of boorish louts are long gone. And the days of assuming that salespeople work in some windowless drab basement, gulping coffee, ignoring leads, and treating marketing employees like of bunch of clueless snobs are also long gone. Sales and marketing teams need to literary work together in the same office space – the closer, the better. By doing so, both teams will develop a better appreciation and respect for each other’s work.

2). Marketing employees must either like sales or get out of marketing. Period. Marketing employees need to understand what drives most salespeople. For salespeople, that motivation is usually earning a lot of money and being number one. For marketing people, the motivation is developing and fine tuning a process of generating qualified leads, and handing them off to salespeople.

For example, I once worked at a small company where the marketing department was sitting on more than 11,000 prospects. They acquired the prospects from list brokers. Eager to pursue those prospects, we were denied access because the marketing team couldn’t figure out how to export the prospects from Excel to our ancient CRM without creating duplicates.

In addition, they didn’t know how to develop a marketing plan to turn those prospects into qualified leads.

A few months went by. Nothing happened. Then the head of marketing decides to go on a one week vacation, with a vague promise of solving the problem she returned.

When she returned, again, nothing happened.

Frustrated, I left for another job and never looked back.

To this day, those prospects are probably still in Excel.

hungry salesperson waiting for prospectsThe lesson? Sitting on prospects and not giving them to your sales team is cruel. It’s like denying food to a hungry dog, and then laughing at him as he begs for a taste…just a taste to satisfy his appetite.

Don’t do that. Because salespeople, like everyone else, need to eat.

If you work in marketing and don’t respect salespeople, it’s time for a career change.

And I would add that in this post 2008 Great Recession era, all employees are now salespeople. If you have any employee who doesn’t think that way, fire him. You either work or sink together. It’s that simply.

3). Old School isn’t always bad. Frankly, I think it’s a myth that older salespeople don’t “get technology”. I’m an older salesperson – not only do I get technology, I embrace it. The same is true with social media. (I even taught myself WordPress.org to write and publish this blog). In short, anything that I can help me sell better and exceed my quota, I’m all ears.

However, there are still some old school salespeople that give the rest of us a bad name. You know the kind – they don’t use LinkedIn, they never heard of Twitter, they don’t enter sales notes in a CRM, they don’t use an Outlook calendar to schedule appointments, etc. However, over the years, many old school salespeople have developed enough relationships and goodwill among their clients that are essential to a company’s growth. That’s OK. Leave them along. As the old saying goes “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”

Too often, new managers will come in and try to “shake things up” by imposing too many new rules too quickly without first learning how the sales or marketing departments are operating. As a result of their heavy-handed tactics (mostly a result of their insecurity and arrogance), good employees leave and the new managers have to start building their teams from scratch. Most companies can’t afford this costly and time consuming mistake.

(And BTW, where do a lot of those good employees go? You guessed it – your competitors).

Work with who you have on your sales team. An old warhorse may be old – but he’s still a warhorse. Yes, introduce new methods. And while you’re at it, hire new employees who will understand and appreciate modern technologies and marketing efforts. In the end, both old and young salespeople will prevail.

4). Marketing and Sales compensation must be closely aligned. Simply handing off leads to the sales team and washing your hands of them are now over. No matter how qualified the lead may be in the eyes of the marketing or sales department, the only good lead is one that becomes a paying customer.

Leads that are converted into customers – not just leads themselves – should be the determining factor in compensation for both sales and marketing employees.

Thus, dumping unqualified leads on your sales team is no longer tolerated. You are only hurting yourself and the employer. Do some research. There are plenty of tools out there to help you better qualified leads. Use them.

Examples include Marketo, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and ActiveCampaign.

(A good source to find lead generation tools is Capterra).

This is why it’s so important to constantly test the waters with different email or other marketing campaigns to obtain the best qualified leads possible. Don’t be afraid of failure. If one campaign doesn’t work, try another. Experiment.

To learn more about how sales and marketing teams can work together, please click on these articles below –

“How Marketing and Sales Can Work Together to Close More Leads,” by Max Traylor

“Overcoming The Marketing-Sales Turf War: Six Strategies to Integration,” by Christine Moorman

And finally, if you are not a member of the AA-ISP, I strong recommend that you become one. Not only will you find great networking opportunities, but you will discover plenty of good resources on the main website.

Note: If you like my post, please check out my book Advice for New Salespeople: Tips to Help your Sales Career.

Are you feeding the Sales Beast?

Are you feeding the beasts?If you want to keep a beast happy – feed him.

If you want to keep your salespeople happy – feed them too. But feed them with good leads and qualified prospects.

All too often, salespeople are told to find their own leads and prospects. There is nothing wrong with that. When times are slow, doing some research on the side is OK. But if your salespeople are spending too much prospecting, that means they are spending too little time selling.

Based on numerous studies, the average sales person only spends about 30 percent of his time actually selling. The rest of the time is spent on training, administrative work, account management and other tasks.

This is why it’s so important to have a marketing team on board to help your sales team. Using tools like KiteDesk, Data.com (formerly Jigsaw), RainKing, DiscoverOrg, Zoominfo, and others can help your sales team generate more business.

What’s worse than a bad salesperson? A bored one.  Why?  Because bored salespeople who are good in their profession start seeking other opportunities. And you don’t want that to happen.

So always feed the sales beast.

Note: If you like my post, please check out my book – Advice for New Salespeople: Tips to Help your Sales Career.

5 Roadblocks preventing clients from receiving your emails

One of the biggest challenges of sending B2B (Business to Business) emails is ensuring that the prospect on the other end will actually receive it. With so many companies (and individuals for that matter) being flooded by emails on a daily basis, safeguards have been placed to prevent unsolicited emails from coming through.

As a marketing or sales person who wants to increase your bottom line, what are you supposed to do? Sure, you can make cold calls. Nothing wrong with that. But with voicemails, caller IDs and receptionists (gatekeepers) blocking your way, cold calling just isn’t your only option these days.

Yes, you could send direct marketing pieces. Maybe a nice card with a handwritten message enclosing your business card. Or, you could send swag like a mouse pad or magnet with your company’s contact information and logo. But there is no guarantee that your prospect will read your information much less open up the envelope.

So what to do? You must use a combination of tactics. Cold calls, Check. Leaving voicemail messages, Check. Sending direct marketing pieces, Check. And….also sending emails. Check.

Real Magnet, a marketing automation company, outlines several challenges that you face when sending emails to your prospects. In the video below, the Bethesda based company mentioned 4 hurdles we all have to overcome –

1). Too many domains – while B2C  (Business to Customers) clients only have a few major domains, e.g., aol.com or gmail.com, B2B clients have thousands of different domains. Making sure you have the right domain is a major task in itself.

2). Spam filters – even if you have the right email address with the correct domain, you still must break through spam filters. There are many spam filters on the market, including Microsoft Exchange, Barracuda and McAfee, to name just a few.

3). Capacity varies – While most B2C clients will accept emails quickly, B2B clients may have strict limitations on how many emails they will accept at a given time. This is especially true for large and popular companies that you are trying to target.

4). Message Placement – even if your email reaches the prospect, there is no guarantee that it will reach the inbox. In some cases, your email may end up in a spam or quarantine folder. I dealt with this situation firsthand; for example, even if both the prospect and I know each other, and have been speaking to one another, I would still find my emails ending up in his spam folder. After a few phone calls, the prospect would eventually adjust his server to accept my future emails.

And I will add one more problem below –

5). Using the wrong email address – It happens. We think we wrote down the correct email, but then we receive a bounce back. No worries. Just review your notes and resend the email again.

While Red Magnet is obviously promoting its own tool, I believe the video below does a great job discussing in more detail the problems we all face when sending emails.

Please watch the video below –

Are you unique enough?

the power of uniquenessSince starting this blog a month ago and also tying this to a Twitter account, I’ve received 9 requests to purchase Twitter followers.

Now, I’m not going to discuss the ethics or wisdom of purchasing followers. I will save that for a future post. However, today I’m going to discuss the power of uniqueness. You see, all 9 of the Twitter followers making the request are using the same Header Photo from 100kfollowers.net. I’m assuming that if I go through one of the Twitter followers of my account, and purchase Twitter followers, that particular follower will receive some type of payment or commission.

But if you are going to offer a service, shouldn’t you at least be a little unique about it? Shouldn’t you try to stand out of the crowd? I mean, when 9 Twitter followers are using the very same Header Photo slogan “Speed Up Your Twitter Marketing Campaign” and are using the very same pictures of different packages and price offers, it makes me suspicious.  I mean, c’mon. You couldn’t find another picture for your Header Photo to make you stand out – even a little?!? What is going to inspire me from purchasing followers from one follower vs. another follower? Nothing.

And that’s where the power of uniqueness comes into play. Many vendors sell or closely sell the same types of products or services. But to make yourself stand out and generate more sales, you need to show uniqueness – at least in the eyes of the consumer. Do you want to buy a suit from Walmart or Brooks Brothers? It depends on your taste and budget. Both retailers have a unique brand that caters to a different market. Walmart is going after the discount crowd while Brook Brothers is going after the fashionable crowd. Who’s right? Both are – because each know their own market and are going after different consumers.

And really, when you think about it, that’s what branding is all about. It’s about being unique – making yourself look different from your competitors who may sell or closely sell what you are offering.

So the next time you want to sell followers on Twitter – be a little unique. It may go a long way of helping you make more money.