Trading Services Doesn't Work in Business

    Posted by Pete Caputa on Jul 24, 2008 9:13:00 AM

    I had a conversation with someone the other day who was interested in HubSpot. They were referred by a client. I asked him how I could help him. He hadn't really bothered to understand what we do.

    I positioned us a few times (ie We help small business owners who are frustrated with not getting enough leads from their website and online marketing activities.) He didn't bite. He kept insisting he was doing pretty well with his internet marketing. Unfortunately, he wasn't. Then, he proceeded to pitch me on the idea of trading advertising on his site for HubSpot services.

    I told him that we have no need to advertise on his site. We have more leads than we can handle and we know what we need to do to get more, if we need it.

    I used to trade services. But, it never worked for a variety of reasons.

    Here's my rules taught to my be Rick Roberge:

    1. I'll buy your service if I have a need and it helps me fill that need.
    2. Feel free to buy my service if you have a need and you're convinced that it fills the need.

    I think the people that try and trade their way to success just don't know how to discover needs and align their product to the needs of the customer. This is going to result in no sales, which is going to result in no cash flow, which is going to make it difficult for them to invest in anything to make their business better, including their online marketing.

    Which is a shame because there are a lot of entrepreneurs and small business owners out there with great ideas and great passion.

    Trading is often used by entrepreneurs as a sales shortcut because they do not have the ability to sell. Before they're going to see their business succeed by closing new business, they need to learn how to identify problems, establish urgency and to present approprate solutions when the time is right.

    Unfortunately, they probably also don't have the willingness to make the changes in their business (and themselves) in order to learn these skills.

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    Topics: sales, HubSpot

    Initiating the First Conversation with a Prospect is Always the Hardest Step

    Posted by Pete Caputa on Jul 12, 2008 6:02:00 AM

    If part of your job involves initiating conversations with prospects, you need to read this email chain that Dave Kurlan has shared between him and a prospect:

    Lesson - Even if you fail to get a response or you get a negative response, keep at it! The key is to get a response - to something - to get a dialog started.

    Dave's example is about contacting a referral. However, the same principles apply for following up on web generated leads. Do what you need to do to just start "any" conversation.

    With referrals, I usually keep at it until I figure out whether I can help the prospect. However, with leads, it is two strikes and their out. Dave's example makes me think that I'm not doing enough before I abandon that lead. The main reason I don't is because I'm looking for low hanging fruit in a humungous orchard. In plain english, I have more leads than time.

    Anyone have this problem? How do you make sure you do the things necessary to get people into conversation with you?

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    Topics: lead follow up, web leads, sales

    Giving Product Demonstrations Better

    Posted by Pete Caputa on Jun 23, 2008 7:59:00 PM

    I'm working on improving my sales presentation skills, specifically my demos.

    Here's two blog posts about product demos.

    1. Customize-ing them. Tailoring them to the prospect's need. I do good here.
    2. I need to be better about structuring a demo.
    Update: I just received my daily justsell newsletter which was plugging a research report from gotomeeting about giving online product demos.
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    Topics: sales

    Best Sales Blogs on the Web

    Posted by Pete Caputa on Jun 12, 2008 7:38:00 AM

    If you haven't read on Rick's Rainmaker blog or Dave's Sales Management blog yet, Guy Kawasaki has created an aggregator of sales blogs on his aggregator site, Alltop.

    Ever since I saw him looking for "marketing" blogs on Twitter for Alltop, I've been pestering him and telling him he needed a page too. 

    It's launched with a bunch of my favorite blogs, as well as some new ones that look great. 

    If you have other suggestions, you should send them to Guy via twitter.  

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    Topics: sales

    Worcester Business Journal Sales Summit

    Posted by Pete Caputa on May 27, 2008 6:00:00 PM

    Central New England Sales Summit - looks very interesting. Depending on who they lineup for speakers, I will probably attend.
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    Topics: sales

    A Tale of Two Management Consultants

    Posted by Pete Caputa on May 11, 2008 11:46:00 PM

    In the last few weeks, I talked to a handful of consultants. There's two memorable ones. One for good reasons. One for bad reasons.

    Names have been changed.

    Joe Braggert: Joe thinks he knows everything there is to know. Joe's first words to me were, "Why do I need to talk to a sales person before I can sign up?" I had a total of 5 calls with Joe, which was 5 too many. We also exchanged a few emails. I did my best to help Joe.

    Joe wanted to buy based on following the company from "the beginning". He thought he knew how we worked better than I do. Joe had no interest in discussing how he was going to use our tools with me. Joe asked only one question. He asked it approximately 20 times. I gave him the same answer each time and it wasn't to his likeing. The last 15 times he asked it, I suggested that we weren't a good fit for his needs. Each time I suggested that, he suggested we were making a very fatal mistake in our business strategy. He lectured me. I told him that I understood his point of view, but the strategic decision was made for a variety of reasons and that the Company is signing on many customers each month that are ok with this decision.

    The second call ended with "I'll discuss this with your management." A threat which he had no ability to execute. So, I summarized our call and forwarded it to our management and cc'd Joe. They reiterated the same message that I did.

    In response, Joe provided a large amount of unsolicited advice and insisted we were making poor decisions about our business that would ultimately stunt the company growth.

    All the while, there was a relatively simple way around his issue. I had suggested it and he ignored me the first few times and continued to lecture me. He also insulted me several times. The solution involved him investing another few thousand dollars in his business. The third time I suggested it, he told me that did not have the money to invest. In his mind, this was our fault.

    John Partner: John and I discussed several of his current clients and prospective clients. We discussed, in detail, how we could help one of his prospective clients. Most of his current clients weren't a great fit or already had most of what we did covered. Unfortunately, the deal with the prospective client fell through. During the process of figuring out whether this company was a fit, I realized that John was a sharp guy. He not only knew internet marketing, he had done it successfully for his clients. He also understood his client's businesses and business in general.

    After his deal fell through, I suggested that he and I should talk about his business and whether I could help him in any way. We scheduled a call. During the call, I suggested that occasionally we have clients who need extra hands-on assistance or someone to do the work for them. He asked me a string of questions about how we were structured internally. Through a series of questions, without asking it straight, he discovered that we are mostly interested in building a software as a service business, as opposed to a "consulting" or "services" business, as SaaS scales much quicker and more profitably. In the beginning of the call, he didn't think we'd be interested in working with people like him because we do provide consulting. By the end of the call, through a series of smart questions, he understood our business model and the opportunity for him to get involved with us.

    John and I will talk again. I am sure we will do business.

    Joe doesn't have a website for his own business yet. He probably blames a long list of other people for this, mostly me.

    The Lesson: Do you ask questions in order to identify what's important to people? Or do you just make statements based on what you think is important? Do you take responsibility for situations and make decisions based on what's available to you? Do you wait around for the situation to be perfectly aligned to your vision? And blame others and external factors for your failures?

    Do you seek out opportunities to collaborate that fill holes where you're not strong? Or do you pretend to be an expert at everything?

    Do you do what you do because you love it OR because you're trying to prove how smart you are?


    Oh. And if you're a consultant, remember that your first job is sales or selling yourself. The stories above should demonstrate that you're always selling, even when you're buying, whether you're good at it like John or really bad at it like Joe. Coincidentally, Dave recently published a post called the "Tale of Two Salespeople" which you should also read.

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    Topics: sales

    "Best Blow Off on a Sales Call" The Nominees are...

    Posted by Pete Caputa on May 7, 2008 3:36:00 PM

    I called a person who downloaded our internet marketing kit today.

    Here's an excerpt of the call.

    Him: I understand you can't really tell me how your service can help me unless I tell you what I'm doing now and what I need. But, unless I know how your service is different from what I'm doing now, I don't really want to spend that time telling you what I'm doing now.

    Me: Would you like me to call at another time?

    Him: Can you send me an email with what it is you do differently?

    Me: Are you interested? I don't want to go through that effort unless you have a need.  

    Him: Yes. We're interested in traffic. We're ultimately interested in new customers.

    Me: I will send you a few links to things you can read. You'll learn how we are different and how we have helped other clients.

    Him: Sounds great.

    In between there, I told him that it was the best "blow off" ever. Most people will just lie or get belligerent. He was actually "busy" and I believed him.

    I'm going to send him to read our internet marketing case studies, about our internet marketing software and training. And then, I think he should read this article I wrote about how to use a blog to improve your sales process and this one about time being the most important part of anyone's internet marketing strategy.

    Actually, I'll just send him to this post.

    I find that clients who are most successful allow me to be the expert and help them solve their problems. Some people want to figure it on their own through reading. I'm not sure that works as effectively as talking to someone who has years of experience helping hundreds of clients. But, who am I to challenge it?

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    Topics: sales

    You Don't Know What You Don't Know You Don't Know

    Posted by Pete Caputa on May 6, 2008 2:37:00 PM

    Great post from Frank Belzer:

    I had a chance to meet with an executive last week and we discussed some ways that we could help him get better results out of his sales people. After the meeting I was reflecting on why the meeting had went so well, why we had made such progress in such a short time, why we had got along so well and the answer to all of these questions has to do with this executive having the oh so rare quality of Humility!

    his gentleman was very savy, very smart and obvioulsy had some excellent leadership skills. His business had grown very progressively over the years and yet rather than getting overly confident or even pompus about his success, he still had an "I don't have all the answers" demeanor. Oddly enough those who follow this mantra usually find themselves having all the answers.

    The best lesson to take away from this is that a big reason that this CEO is probably successful is because he is very willing to admit that he doesn't have all of the answers. He doesn't know everything. He knows that he doesn't know what he doesn't know.

    I speak to a few people every week that want to try to battle me like it's the internet marketing knowledge showdown. First of all, who gives a crap? There are plenty of people who know more than me about internet marketing. And there are many more people with more and better experience too. I'll admit it. But, I've never had an open conversation about internet marketing with someone where I wasn't able to find something I could help them with. I advised a leading social networking site the other day with a strategy that will probably triple their traffic from search engines. I have clients that are generating 4-6x leads now than they were just a few months ago.

    But, guess what, if you don't want to admit there's something you could do better and the possibility that I could help, than you'll never know. Why are you even talking to me? (Actually, why am I even talking to you?)

    These people are usually just trying to make themselves feel good about the job they're doing. And most of them are probably doing fine. The problem is that they're making themselves feel good about themselves to the detriment of finding out how they could actually do their job even better.

    They should take a lesson from the CEO above.

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    Topics: sales

    I Don't Have Time For Marketing. I Need to Run My Business.

    Posted by Pete Caputa on Apr 25, 2008 3:41:00 PM

    When I am qualifying whether someone is qualified to do business with HubSpot, I ask them how much time they will have to dedicate to their online marketing, specifically to creating content.

    They are usually the same people that think SEO stops when you tweak your title tags. Actually, they usually think it's about tweaking "meta tags", which we all know is not that critical anymore.

    They usually ask what would I need time to do? So, I say, "To really succeed at online marketing, especially SEO, you need to create content. The more pages you have on your site, the more keywords you can target. The more keywords you can target, the more traffic you can get from search engines. Also, when you create great content, people are compelled to link to it. Links increase your search rankings and send direct traffic."

    Then, I ask, depending on how difficult it is to rank for their keywords and how much traffic they need to generate to hit their lead and sales generation goals, "Do you have x hours/week to dedicate to writing content?" where x is usually 2-10 hours.

    About 1/3rd of the people I speak with, say something like, "I Don't Have Time To Do That. I Need to Run My Business."

    To which I respond, "Ok. Is there anything else I can help you with today?"

    One guy said to me today, "Is that the end of your pitch?".

    To which I responded, "Do you want me to blow smoke up your butt about how I can get your website out of invisible-land for $3500 and a wave of my magic wand?"

    He laughed and said, "I appreciate the honesty. I guess I'll call you when I have more time to spend."

    I said, "I'm here when this is important for you to do right."

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    Topics: SEO, sales

    Blog as a Sales Tool

    Posted by Pete Caputa on Apr 10, 2008 5:07:00 PM

    I wrote a post over at the HubSpot blog with tips on how to use your blog as a sales tool. Leave a comment over there if you have thoughts to share.

    Here's the Summary: 

    1. Subscribers Sell Themselve
    2. Answering Questions with Blog Posts.
    3. Invite Prospects to Write Guest Blog Posts.
    4. Highlight Your Client's Success. They'll Send It To Their Mom (and Everyone Else).
    5. Ask Your Prospects for Feedback in the Comments.
    6. Link to Your Prospect's Blog. Send Them Some Readers.
    7. Build a Community of Clients, Prospects and Partners On Your Blog.
    8. Track What Prospects Read, What Comments They Leave, How Often They Visit.
    9. Be a Resource. Link to Other Relevant Articles.
    10. Promote Your Blog Via Email.
    11. Promote Your Blog Via Social Media and Social Networking Sites.
    12. Blogging Supports Search Engine Optimization.
    13. Blogging Creates a Discussion and You're the Host 
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    Topics: blogging for business, sales, blogging

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