Sales Consultant

The bitter business acts as a sales consultant providing sales as a service in the areas of business development, sales strategy; social selling and high level lead generation. Entrepreneurs and early stage companies have no shortage of ideas on products and solutions but may struggle with ramping up sales and customer acquisition. In today’s digital environment — social media, social selling, inbound marketing, lower cost of customer acquisition, driving web traffic —it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what to do to raise the bar on generating sales revenue.

As a hands on sales consultant with real world experience in growing profitable businesses, The Bitter Business can help you plot and implement the paths that will lead to significant increases in sales revenue.

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1 Goal – Help You Improve Sales Revenue

The first step is to get to know the ins and outs of your market sector, quickly grasping the dynamics in the market. Next step is to work with you to uncover the changes and actions required to see sales revenue improvement. Then working hands on, moving from recommendations to implementing the actions and activities to move the dial on sales and marketing.

While I may call myself a sales consultant, my work goes way beyond just providing analysis and plans to help a business improve its sales, I get actively involved with the sales and marketing strategy using the Smarketing approach but never forgetting that at heart I am a person who sells things to other people.

Sales Consulting Approach from “The Bitter Business”

Learn the Product or Service

Apart from quickly immersing myself in the product to market fit, I take the time to get to know the company, its vision and what it wants to achieve. Then it is about acquiring expertise in the product or service while becoming familiar with competitors, market approach, the buyers journey and industry dynamics.

Generating Leads

The whole sales process starts with generating sales leads but to generate leads we need to build awareness and increase the consideration levels (sales pipeline, inbound marketing, proactive selling and social selling). The role of any good sales consultant is to start generating qualified leads. This means using a wide list of resources and skills to know who to target and then draw up a target selection profile including creating a database of people or companies that could potentially be interested in your offering. This work involves using a variety of prospecting tools ranging social networks, LinkedIn groups, business forums, content marketing, and business directories research to good old fashioned sales prospecting.

Lead Nurturing and Sales Appointments

Part of the work of a sales consultant is to nurture leads and secure sales appointments with prospective customers. Part of the service is developing a strong sales pipeline, provide sales forecasting and organising sales meetings. Also during a sales appointment, as a sales consultant I can demonstrate the product and provide any information that the customer asks for regarding the product to bring about a successful sale.

Sales Process

As a sales consultant who has worked for Dell, Oracle, Apple, J2 and many other companies I am experienced in looking at a business sales structure, processes and sales cycle. Part of my remit is to analyse the sales process to see how well it works and then recommend business advice on how to improve aspects like lead generation, close rates and shorter sales cycles. Also part of the role can be to go through the different aspects of a business (sales activities, marketing spend, customer acquisition strategies, cost per lead, sales productivity) to determine how to grow sales and then help the business owner to understand how the sales efforts needs to be improved. Providing auxiliary services, like SEO, inbound marketing, market research and competitor analysis or helping a client business implement an on-line strategy is all part of the services on offer

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Management Skill Set

Whether the sales efforts needs to be office-based spending time to observe the sales performance, working with the management team on strategy or working remotely to drive sales growth from scratch, The Bitter Business has the management skill set and over 30 years sales experience to deliver results. Like any business leader, I have strong people skills and comfortable working directly with business owners. Being highly analytical and quick to spot patterns and errors in a sales process has helped many clients in the past. As a sales consultant I enjoy being creative as I work with so many different types of sales processes from on-line to telesales to enterprise selling. Regardless of the challenge I have the skills to come up with cost effective solutions that are specific to each individual business.

Feel free to connect with me for a chat over a coffee as I am always happy to invest time listening to a business opportunity or challenge.

Social Media Marketing Plan

A social media marketing plan should not pose any major challenges to a small business. As in any growing business with a great product or service, the marketing team or person is most likely to be working on different tasks at different times and these tasks can change rapidly depending on the business needs. However, even with taking this into consideration, social media is now so vital to business success there are some tasks that need to be planned as part of the daily marketing routine.

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Set the social media goals and objectives.

Every article, news release, research or whitepaper are assets in a social media strategy to serve the goals that have been set. As with any business strategy you must know what you are working toward. Is it drive brand awareness, customer acquisition, generate new sales drive traffic, build up your network, reduce the cost per lead. Whatever of any or all of these you need goals and associated objectives clearly defined.

Work on the content strategy

When it comes to marketing the product or service, social media marketing success depends on the content strategy a business decides upon. Prior to writing, commissioning or publishing any content, a business needs to understand, what audience(s) are going to be  targeted?, What type of voice (expert, commentator, industry) will you use to communicate? Who are you trying to influence? What specifically do you want to achieve (leads, likes, traffic, views or authority)?  Allot of strategy answers are to be found in questioning the content strategy so everyone involved in the marketing and sales efforts need to know the why, what and who, understand it and is always in their minds. Content marketing strategy can then be tweaked and optimised as necessary.

Make sure there is new quality content to post

Fresh, quality, informative and relevant content is at the core of every social media campaign to reach target audiences and ensure engagement. To be seen as an influencer and sector expert it is vital to share new content consistently and regularly. New content when well written (not self- promotional or product articles) and engaging can propel a business forward. This is why the person in charge of the social media plan needs to make sure there is always some new content ready to be shared. There is no hiding the fact that writing content does take time and continuous effort so it needs to be planned.

Set up a content sharing schedule

The social media plan needs to have a schedule when content will be shared so all social marketing activities tie back into other marketing events or business plans. Also a schedule will take account for any external events, key word targeting, launches, promotions or seasonal trends that impacts your industry. This is why the content sharing calendar is so important for deciding what social media activities are in the pipeline. While not all content can be created and planned for weeks in advance of sharing, the core, and keyword targeted content pieces that demand more care and effort should be.

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Sharing sector Expertise

Selling is not sharing. Share your sector expertise on a regular basis in terms of marketing, insights, research, social stories and commentary to establish your business, product or service as an influencer. For every 1 self-promotional content pieces shared, share 4 quality “industry relevant” articles, also share insightful articles from other authors, comment and add value (not plugging your own business) on forums and groups.

Generate new content ideas

As stated above the value a great, insightful and quality piece of content can bring to a social media campaign cannot be overstated. This is why a business needs to spend the time brainstorming content and article ideas. Every business should always allocate time for it on a weekly basis. The reality is that without interesting ideas on content your goals and results will suffer in the long run. Content needs to be kept fresh, up-to-date and interesting in order to continue engaging an audience. An easy way of generating content ideas is to track your competitors and other influential blogs to see what content is working for them.

Following news for current and relevant content

As with most companies, some of your content marketing will be focused on industry news and events. This is why keeping informed of relevant news and events means you will be able to react quickly and creatively to opportunities which can boost your on-line exposure. Many social media managers monitor several different keywords, hashtags, social group and Twitter in order to keep up the date and in the know on trending topics. When the opportunity presents itself, it is vital to be ready to respond.

Include images, video and design

Social media is also a visual channel where images, video and good design can give an added edge in the awareness stakes. Using nice imagery or videos and a visually stimulating way of presenting content is far more likely to reach and engage a large audience. As the volume of content rises across social channel, great content should be complimented with visual impact. A business should working with a designer in order to produce visual elements like photos, infographics and video.

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Run social advertising

To add to organic reach on social networks, depending on your social media goals and business then social advertising on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn may be a consideration. Running a paid social campaign might help get the content out to a wider audience and more relevant readers.

Communicate with all stakeholders

Whether you are a social media manager working in an agency or working directly for a company, you will need to work with all the stakeholders (management, sales, product, marketing and service) in order to agree on the content to be shared. This is why social media marketers should be spending time with the all the stakeholders to plan for the future as part of the marketing daily tasks. Meeting all concerned can help gain more insights into deciding what type content to create, what upcoming events are there in the pipeline, launches or news that may be of interest and any other ideas to use content to engage the target audiences.

Reporting

Finally but as important is the reporting on social media actions, activities and results. Whether you work for a company or an agency, it is vital to report on the social networks achievements and the upcoming plans in place. This is done by setting up and agreeing on regular reports that monitor the KPI’s or metrics you have agreed on with the stakeholders.

For more social media marketing tips, read the marketing category on The Bitter Business.

Selling Techniques

In sales, for selling techniques to work effectively there needs to be clarity in both the actual sales role and in the process of selling. Successful selling is about always having a clear objective based on where we are in the sales process.

Challenge the buyer’s journey

Sales people can too often view the sales process as a linear process with a WIN/LOSS outcome at the end where the prospect either chooses you or the competition. There is a third option which studies show that effects up to sixty percent of deals getting marked lost, this is the “No Decision” scenario where the prospect parks the deal due to the fear of change or just don’t see the value. One selling technique is to challenge the status quo of the win/loss scenario and focus on getting buyers to see that change (choosing your solution) can make them a hero, will make life easier and has value far beyond the price being paid.

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Find the USP

In the sales process there will always be some overlap between what you provide and what the competition can provide to a prospective customer. Stark reality is that the overlap could be as high as sixty or seventy percent. Do not fall into the sales trap of over focusing on “parity areas” against competitors in the sales process. Rather sales people should focus on what they can do for the customer that is absolutely different from what the competition can do; this is your “Unique Selling Point.” Your USP has to be unique to your solution, identified as being important to the customer, and can be defended when push comes to shove.

Share social stories with real meaning

Sales and marketing messaging is about telling a company’s story in such a way that it attracts prospects to the business and eventually turns them into customers. The challenge for every company and sales person is to share stories (social selling) that differentiate from the competitors. Sharing stories with real meaning can help create a powerful perception of value in a customer’s mind. So we need to tell the “before” story and the “after” story, real verifiable stories, meaningful stories, stories with emotion. Share real stories about the people who were affected by the challenges in the business area they were working in. Then share how their situation became easier, more productive, or less stressful after using your solution to the problem.

The customer is the Hero

Every story has a hero. The hero who got things sorted. In business, the customer is always the hero, the hero who identified the problem, who foreseen change was needed, that there was a better way. Reality check, it is NOT you, your company or your solution. The customer is the one who needs to save the day, not you. Selling has changed, the sales role is to adopt the position of a mentor, listening, helping, guiding and sharing stories to customers so they can see what needs to be changed and how they can thrive into the future.

Focus on the customer

Successful selling starts by really listening to the customer, the challenges they have and what they want to solve, rather than just trying to find a reason to sell them something. No such thing as a standard sales presentation, each one should be tailored so the way you present your product or service will match each and every customer’s requirements. This solution selling technique is a far more powerful than delivering a template driven, general purpose sales pitch. Now your sales message can pinpoint exactly how your product suits the customer, highlighting the points where you have a competitive advantage (USP). While at the same time, the more information you know about a customer’s position and what your product could potentially do for them, the more likely you can prove its value to them, hence reducing the fear to change barrier.

Focus on the right customers

Customer acquisition and lead nurturing is about focusing on the right customers. Ask the question “Who do I sell to?” No point hunting down prospects if the solution you have is not a right fit. While sales training should include sales tips on getting past the gatekeepers such as secretaries and to create interest, they do not tell you which customers to approach. Take the time to understand where your company can beat the competition, then research customer profiles, draw up a list of prospects, engage with social selling to create awareness to put you in a strong position when it comes to considering you or your solution. Also knowing who your ideal customer profile is will help open up a sales story and why it is worth a customers’ time talking to you. Knowing when to sell and knowing when to walk away is a selling technique not being taught enough.

Clarity in the Sales Process

Think of a sales process as a series of steps to get from A to Z. Does the sales process have or include a free trial, an on-site visit, face-to-face meeting, proof of concept or maybe a product demonstration? What processes have proven most successful in the past? On every customer interaction, ask yourself, what do I want to get out of this and where are we in the sales process? Clarity in the sales process gives you a framework and the time to create a buying vision, the reasons and case why the customer will change (challenge the buyers journey) plus the time to share social stories to show how the prospect’s world can change for the better.

Be Systematic

Success is based on hard work and skill not luck. A systematic approach to selling is critical to sales success. Have a daily, weekly and monthly plan for lead generation, sales calls, social selling, pipeline development and deals secured with specific targets in each area. Much of this sales activity is a question of efficient time management so before you start your week, check your sales process and then plan the number of events you want to progress.

In sales, we are today where our selling techniques have brought us. We will be tomorrow where our selling techniques take us.

Inbound Marketing Strategy

Every business today needs an inbound marketing strategy. In the digital world nearly all marketing efforts are focused on actions like growing web traffic, increasing visitors, gathering sales leads, driving up conversions and securing buyers and customers.   Inbound marketing strategies deliver on all the same marketing goals but in a different way. Traditional marketing or push marketing  is really about interrupting buyers, trying to get their attention with TV or radio ads, online advertising, cold calling, direct mail to name a few.  Whereas inbound marketing is focused on “pull marketing”, devising marketing tactics to get buyers permission to share information as to add value to the buyers journey when researching products or services.

Every business will most likely use a blend of inbound and outbound marketing tactics to deliver the targets. Every marketing focused company including marketing automation companies like Hubspot, Marketo, Oracle and SAP all use both outbound and inbound marketing tactics. Indeed  outbound marketing activities like cold calling and lead generation by sales teams is nearly a forgotten weapon in customer acquisition as too many companies (especially newer technology focused companies) rely too heavily on inbound marketing to drive the sales pipeline.

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As a percentage of traffic and sales leads, inbound marketing is now the main driver in getting a brand into the buyer’s awareness and consideration steps when looking for a product mainly due to the non-interruption aspect of inbound marketing efforts.

Listed below are some inbound marketing tips to compliment the marketing strategy in pulling in buyers to a business. The golden rule of inbound marketing including social selling is that is it about sharing not selling, help not hype.  A business of any size can deploy inbound marketing with some good content and a few whitepapers to start but be aware that inbound marketing will take time to take hold however once traction starts happening , inbound marketing will deliver better qualified and less expensive sources of sales than outbound marketing.

The cornerstone of nearly all inbound marketing strategies is “Content” and sharing quality content alone on social networks will go a long way to increasing traffic and leads to a business or website.  But like all great strategies there is more to inbound marketing than just publishing content; inbound marketing should also include whitepapers, research publications, social stories, social selling, article sharing, social conversations, reaching social media influencers, article seeding and participation on the social networks.

Here is a list of inbound marketing tips that will hopefully improve Inbound Marketing results for you

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  1. Develop a complete inbound marketing plan. Inbound marketing includes blogging, articles, whitepapers, social networks engagement, social selling, lead generation, traffic and social media conversations. Which of these tactics can be improved?
  2. Implement all inbound marketing tactics. A business should never rely on one or two tactics even if you are getting good results from current inbound marketing tactics, implementing all tactics will drastically improve desired results.
  3. Don’t forget the “awareness phase”. Social media using content as the lead is where people become aware of your business and they delight in the quality of the content being read. The awareness phase is where you engage customers and prospects for future purchases and opportunities, even in B2B marketing. A business needs to have blog posts that delight, social media content that engages and messaging that keep customers or clients coming back. Before you get a lead or a sale, you need to build awareness.
  4. Share the content. Simply posting a new article or blog post and then leaving it to chance that it will be picked up by search traffic or prospects are wasted opportunities. Social media networks opens up the ability to immediately collect traffic and leads based on a new article published not to mention the long tail SEO impact. There is more to sharing content than posting to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Sharing content takes time and effort, share across all social networks, forums, groups, while seeding the article on relevant sites like Reddit, Scoop.it etc.
  5. Love your social media accounts. Spend time attending to all your social media account, yes they are fantastic broadcast channels but also more importantly a place to build relationships. Have a constant presence and it need not take a huge chunk of time. Share content from other sources, like other articles, reply to messages, engage with conversations and give regular updates.
  6. Stay tuned in as Inbound marketing, social media marketing and SEO are in a constant state of change. What is the latest social platform, the coolest social network, what type of content (words, images, videos) are best of which audience? To keep inbound marketing firing on all cylinders, marketing teams have to stay on top of changes and make sure to adjust to new opportunities while refining old ones.
  7. Embrace analytics and reporting- The numbers produced from marketing tactics are the key to what is working and what is not. Data and numbers should be checked against goals on a regular basis be it daily or weekly. Ensure all the metrics and KPI’s are in aligned to goals, actions and activities. By viewing the numbers, a business can see where it needs to make adjustments to improve results.
  8. Solicit feedback. Chat to customers, other departments (sales), prospects and industry peers about inbound marketing. Where do they go to be made aware, what delights them, and why do they consider one over another? Also sometimes we can fail to understand how integrated inbound marketing can be with other aspects of the business, from outbound marketing campaigns to sales calls to social selling and customer retention for future purchases. How else you can use inbound to get great results?
  9. Write quality content. Content marketing in the inbound marketing mix is the main conduit in bringing in search traffic and leads. While content will bring in a level of traffic regardless of the content quality, the bounce rate will be high and the consideration rate low. In a digital marketplace where everyone is sharing content, every blog, article or whitepaper needs to be specific, well researched, well written and above all informative. Search the web for blog ideas and to see what social influencers are reading (and interview them to get in-depth information for future social posts)inbound-marketing-terms
  10. Commit time and resources. Inbound marketing takes time, if it is a real marketing strategy for your business, then investment in time and resources to make it happen is a must. Do not let other activities take priority. Every business that is successful with inbound marketing takes the time to follow through on all tactics, methodologies, strategy and implementation; otherwise inbound marketing contribution to the business is just a wish.
  11. Give to get considered. Once awareness levels rise (traffic, reads, likes), start to give more to get into the buyers consideration phase. Offer more giveaways, free trials, deeper white papers, studies and reports. Make it easy for them to consider you, use landing pages, webinars, free samples, and contact us forms so you can move the prospect to a qualified lead.

So as you can see, there is more to inbound marketing than a simple promotional blog and posting it on Blogger. Words sometimes can be hard and time consuming to craft, but words are powerful, fun, enlightening and engaging. These words constructed into quality content and shared as articles across deep reaching social networks will drive your whole marketing and  inbound marketing for today and into the future.  Inbound marketing works as you HAVE READ this article right DOWN TO THE END.

Brian

The Bitter Business.