A Value System – Truth Sells, Honesty Pays

Selling is an honorable Profession - ZigOver my many years of sales and sales management, I’ve noted a fairly common widespread trend. People tend to “get into sales” with a preconceived notion that it’s not an honorable job – they believe that the prime objective is “making lots of money, which is probably going to require deceptive tactics – all salespeople do it (they think), it just comes with the territory.”

The tendency even shows up in the semantics of our typical sales-speak, where conversations about “attacking” a segment (as though customers were enemies) is all too common.

I completely disagree with this long-held  newbie-notion that customers “need to be manipulated to be sold”. And while some people nowadays might consider the late Zig Ziglar dated or “corny”, I feel I’m in good company to agree with his comments on the subject:

Selling is an honorable profession. Sales professionals are held to a higher standard than other professionals. Why? Because salespeople are trained in the skills of persuading and influencing. Therefore, they must hold themselves to the highest ethical standards.

Unfortunately though, we live in an age where unethical behavior has been egregiously rewarded, especially on Wall Street (and elsewhere).  I suspect that leaves the wrong impression on many young professionals as they embark on their careers, but that model is becoming obsolete, and the world is changing again (though not soon enough for me).

It’s all about our VALUE SYSTEM. And while the leveraging of our debt-based fiat money system is far too complex a topic for me to go into here, it reflects upon our value systems elsewhere – in our personal lives, and in our professional lives – which brings me back to the subject at hand.

It’s easy for new salespeople to get lost in the popular notion of “deceiving customers to get them to do what you want them to do”, because they haven’t yet developed the power of persuasion yet.

Once that power is developed, if any form of conscience is their guide, they’ll be more than a little wary of abusing it. The repercussions can be life-changing.

And therein lies THE POWER OF TRUTH. There is no more powerful a tool of persuasion than the TRUTH, and part of that TRUTH is the knowledge that your company has a viable value proposition  (it better had – if not, get the heck out of there as fast as you can) that makes it the right choice for certain prospects in the marketplace.

Now, NO company can do all things for all people. So the job of the sales professional is to clearly understand what differentiates his or her company, and its products or services, from those viable competitors in the marketplace, who are also striving to carve out their niche.

And then … go forth and engage those prospects that your company “owns” by virtue of its value proposition’s particular relevance to their business model. Then look them in the eye and tell them the TRUTH, with all the conviction that understanding brings.

When you encounter that prospect who is “close” to being your company’s ideal prospect, but not quite the hands down candidate that your company truly owns, can YOU yourself add the extra value that makes doing business with your company the deciding vote?  if so, then tell THAT TRUTH, with the same conviction.

Why does the TRUTH work in a world where so much wealth has been created (in part)  by telling lies?

Just look at the success of social media, and see how the marketing concepts of the digital era sync up and align with this same over-arching sales truism of honesty and transparency.  Opening up a business’s online presence to the TRUE POWER of social media means being 100% vulnerable to the 100% transparency of an online customer relationship policy for all the world to see.

Showing how you treat customer interactions transparently, on a daily basis, is the TRUE POWER of social media, because it represents the unvarnished TRUTH about the character of your company. If your company deceives customers to make unearned sales as a standard operating policy, that customer regret is going to haunt you on social networks to the point of failure – such is the power of social. Those who fear it will avoid it, and lose the benefit as well.

But again, I mention our value system as the backbone of everything we do, and it affects social media as well.

Facebook for example has been the topic of much discussion online lately, as it’s value system projects the same skewed reward mechanisms that most Wall Street IPOs are enriched by today. It’s founders and early investors are the benefactors of a get rich quick scheme to “bait and switch” followers into paying for something that was once free – so that a few people can become immensely wealthy, disproportionately to the true valuation of the service.

That is to say that if Mark Zuckerberg was making about 300 grand a year and investors were making a decent return instead of “a killing”, we wouldn’t have our feeds throttled back to the extent that Facebook is nearly completely monetized now, with “Like Farms” springing up, and more and more people gradually using it today for the wrong reasons (self-aggrandizement, popularity contests) than the right ones (transparency and altruism).

Even the digital model of Facebook and others (give it away for free until you have so much satisfied user mass that charging for it yields a windfall profit) is being challenged by the UBER type model, leveraging user mass in a much more democratized, socially distributed way.

So there is always gravitational pull from the dark side of human nature that tempts us to take shortcuts for the easy rewards today – in sales and elsewhere – rather than making the long committment to the TRUTH, and it’s tendency to prevail.

That prevalence gradually causes people like me (and others) to become tired of Facebook’s increasingly self-serving premise, and drop off in interest and usage, until something more honest comes along.

It’s a fairly relevant analogy. The salesperson who is self-serving will likewise find their prospects becoming disinterested and “drop off in interest and usage” until someone more honest comes along.

Website Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Part II

In Part I of this series, we hinted at a website search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that involved getting website owners or employees in the business of digital marketing.

That may seem like a good way for a digital marketer to plan for retirement. But believe me, there are more technical roles for the digital marketer to undertake than posting on Facebook, or a blog.

Naturally, I post articles related to my business and my profession for certain reasons. Take this post for example. Within a month or so, it will be found by people who are interested in, and searching for website search engine optimization. Some of them may contact me for help in this area.

But no matter what I write about. If it’s interesting and well written, and if it is well optimized for its subject matter, and if there is ample demand for it, it will be searched for and found. That’s a simple fact of modern life.

Website Search Engine Optimization (SEO) With WordPress SEO by YoastSEO is a big part of my business and my value proposition as a consultant and service provider. So I tend to write it about it more than, say, pizza (something I love even more than SEO).

So what about you? What about your business? What about your value proposition? Is that something you can write about? Do you love it? Do you at least like it enough to write something interesting about it, or would you rather try to make your living eating pizza?

Now, as an SEO professional, I have a little bit of an edge over the average blogger – I understand WordPress SEO, I have it installed on this blog, and I know how to use it, optimally.

Some of our customers also have blogs, but most just post on Facebook. After all, doesn’t everybody? And that’s great, because it proves that YOU CAN PUBLISH TO THE WEB. We couldn’t say that 15 years ago when I had just started forming the concept of mywebmarket.com, a web based marketplace that YOU operated from your own WebAds account (with a little help, when needed).

That concept is more viable today than ever before. And yet getting business owners to write about their businesses is still a struggle.

But it’s my job to help! So our customers (and our newsletter subscribers) will be receiving a special offer to have a WordPress blog installed, with the WordPress SEO plugin included.

The offer will include a hands-on screen sharing tutorial via Google Hangout that clearly shows how I optimize posts using basic SEO optimization strategy (in conjunction with WordPress SEO) using real post by post examples, including this one.

But most importantly, I’m going to show the results, in my Google analytics account, that prove beyond a shadow of doubt, how well these techniques can work.

And these business owners will see how to apply these same techniques to their business, and to their website optimization strategy, to achieve the same great SEO scoring, and results.

I’ll even do a little of the heavy lifting and optimize their first few posts so that they can have a template for success to look back upon going forward.

The offer is going out once in October and once in November, and it’s only going out to newsletter subscribers.

There’s only so much I can convey in a blog about website search optimization – what we’ll convey in the coming live, interactive Google Hangout will go far beyond a single post – but if a single post gets you there, that’s good enough for now.

Inbound Marketing – 4 Keys To Success

Bruce Sutter's Split Finger Fastball
An Effective Inbound Pitch

I recently read an article that questioned the validity of Inbound marketing based on the financials of a company that is probably considered the “poster child” of inbound.

Without getting into that discussion at all, let me just say that the validity of inbound marketing success rests upon one of the most solid foundations of our information age, namely that:

“Prospects are findng your solution at the peak moment of interest – when they are actually searching for it.”

It’s pretty hard to seriously question the logic of that premise, both from a common sense standpoint, and from a financial one.

To truly comprehend the superiority of search engine marketing (SEM) and other forms of inbound over the outbound “spray and pray” methodology of times past, it helps to be a sales veteran of the pre-digital era.

Those experiences will help to inform an effective “digital sales strategy” for today. But we still have to fully embrace and understand inbound marketing to leverage its superiority.
Part of that understanding is that:

  •  not everyone searches the web for solutions
  •  not everyone searches the web for solutions very well
  •  not everyone who searches for YOUR solution finds you
  •  those who do find you, may not like what they find

These are “givens” within the realm of inbound. Once you address them in your strategy, your success will probably increase on an order of magnitude relative to improvements you make in each of these areas. Let’s take them one at a time.

Not everyone searches the web for solutions

That’s why email marketing is still considered a viable component of any inbound strategy  – to convert non-searching email users (a big number to factor into your “sales numbers game”) into potential customers – by directing them to your landing page through a relatively effective means other than search..

Not everyone searches the web for solutions very well

Here’s where it really gets sticky – and where SEO expertise comes in handy.  In my last linkedIn article I covered this in some detail. Of course it’s all about relevance, but it’s about perception too – your prospect’s perceptions – you have to capture those perceptions on their terms , yet relevant to you  (set your expectations accordingly).

Not everyone who searches for YOUR solution finds you

Another given, yet you can minimize this factor in several ways. Email marketing , as mentioned, is one. You may also want to engage in display network advertising if it’s the right venue for you. With display networks, people are not “searching for your solution at their peak moment of interest”. Ratherthey are being “served your message while doing something else online” … based on certain online behaviors which profile an interest in your solution type.

 Those who do find you, may not like what they find

And why should they (after all ) unless you’re rewarding them for being  smart enough to engage your least expensive sales channel (in a very price – sensitive and competitive environment) ?

You owe it to your inbound prospect to at least acknowledge their expedience in the form of a tangible reward of some type – exclusive to customers acquired online.

And if you do, you’ll gain a competititve edge over those who do not. Creativity usually earns dividends here.

Cover these 4 key strategies if you aren’t today, and I would expect your inbound success to grow accordingly. Just measure and monitor to continually reach higher.

Next time, we’ll cover the follow-up outbound call strategy (you’ll eventually have to call about 90% of inbound leads at some point anyway). Here’s where the Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing BUT the Truth actually pays off in your outreach approach.

Bruce Sutter image source