The Life of a Sale

Liveblog

Beth Blecherman (techmamas.com // @techmama)
Ana Lydia Ochoa (llblogghers.com // @LatinaPRpro)
Teneshia Jackson Warner (egamiconsulting.com // @teneshiajwarner)
Deb Rox (Platformunlimited.com // @debontherocks)

Beth: Is everyone ready for some fun. woo-hoo! Trying to get everyone jazzed! Hello everyone we are so excited to have you here. As a social media entrepreneur and blogger we have to understand the life of the sale....

Beth: We are going to present slides but we want to make this interactive so we want to hear what you have to say. We will start with the 5 stages of Sales Cycle. The first stage is to define and understand you product, then lead generation, executing a sale, reporting results and maintaining customer relationships. Our whole presentation will be on these five stages.

Ana: Starting with the first thing. You have to research yourself. Are you working with a brand or are you working with an agency. once you know who you are working with you will know how to approach them. Think about the diff scenarios on how you are going to work with them. What are the trends and needs that they have. Do self-analysis. Think of all these niches and tools you may have in your arsenal that might be a good match for an agency. Do you have experience or a degree that could be helpful. Don't under-play your experience. There's a difference in touting and boasting your experience. Figure out what you can do for them. Speak their lingo. Strategy vs. tactics vs. tools. Managing a Facebook account is not a strategy its a tool. What can you do? Do not oversell yourself. If you don't have experience, just because you have a social following does not make you a community manager. Don’t just think about the obvious, think about what you can sell them and what you can provide them. What is the cherry on top? It could be that you're an ethnic blogger, what is your cherry on top? The upsell, package these different things together to help lengthen the life of the partnership

Audience: what are some of the basics that brands and agencies look for?

Ana: They don't just look at what you can do online, its what you can do offline as well. Can you take your influence offline as well. I was able to work with a brand at an offline event and tap into the community to come to the offline event. Also, the blogger posted photos of the event on their blog. Don't just focus on your online community. Your offline influence is huge. Pinterest is huge, so is Instagram. You have to build a community. Focus on where a brand needs you and where to focus. Go beyond the blog post

Ana: What are you selling. What is your product? A blog post, that's a product. You might be a brand ambassador and you have to develop a product.

Deb: you might not have the right product offerings or level of reach that a brand needs. So, look at an offering by partnering with others who might have similar offerings. Different groups might have different needs. A brand may have put together... others might allow you to act as an agent where you put together an. As a project, something that has a beginning and an end. It might have elements of a campaign that will help them understand

Beth: When you are defining what you are selling, it is important to look at ROI. When you are selling something, what is your return on investment. As a blogger, my ROI wasn't very good. So, I added consulting to help improve that. Really look at ROI when defining what you're selling

Ana: If you're lacking in a certain area, involve somebody else. A collective community comes into play. Tap into that network. You've created a small strategic consulting group that can work collaboratively to go after clients. You can create something much stronger than just you.

Deb: Product development is the biggest thing to approach a client then waiting for them to come to you. If someone is coming to you then they realize they can see your brand as a product. But if you want to take ownership of the sales and pitching, you have to articulate your brand with the handles of a product.

Teneshia: now that you all have a good sense of how to package yourself we want to talk about Lead Generation. Its all about putting together a pipeline of potential customers. How do you do that? As you understand your core services, that should help you understand of who you are target. As you craft... If its a brand, create a list of the type of brands, if its any agency, the best agency that will align with your target. Once you have that list, you need to think about where you go to meet them. One, is national conferences, industry conference. Each fiscal year, I make out my lead generation strategy. What are some of the conferences that you need to be at to sell your services. Take a look at networking events. Are there professional associations you need to join? Create a calendar of events along with a social media strategies. Social media as we all know, is an awesome tool that you can use. If an agency is one of your potential customers can give you an understanding of who you are selling to. That's phase 1. As you go to the conferences or networking events, you have to convert them from a nice to meet you to nice to do business with you. You have to think about your pitch and train yourself to always be listening for the need based on your customer and clients. Listen i na general conversation. I heard a need, here's an opportunity and what can I do. People do business with people that they like. Get comfortable with your pitch, with your sale. We really are all sales people. The moment you decide to become an entrepreneur you are a sales person. Know that you've been selling in some way your entire life in some way. Embrace that its something you've been doing naturally anyway in your life. Listen through an opportunity-finding ear. Understand how to take the follow-through and turn it into business. Right after leaving the conferences you want to have that follow-up happen quickly. I like to have my follow-up within 7 business days. You want to stay fresh on their mind. Recap back to them about what you heard in that initial email. The second thing, is making a lasting sales impression. That happens in that follow-through. Whether through the initial follow-through or following through with a proposal. You may have a ton of leads, but you have to place a priority on the leads. If you're talking to someone and they are ready to move you want to move them right to the top. Some people may not know what they want to do so they may be your tier 2. You still want to keep your tier 2 and tier 3 leads warm, maybe you check-in with a quarterly newsletter.

The other thing that's important. Go back and revisit your lead-gen strategy. Look at your efforts, what is your cost of efforts vs. how much you are closing. I look back every year, if I've gone to a conference twice and didn't close a lead, then I don't go back. Some of these conferences are expensive so you want to look and trace did that convert into business. Also, look at what forms of social media engagement led to a new business lead. Always go back and look at what is working and what is not working.

Audience: Do you have language we can use? Tactical ways to say things to close leads? Recommendations?

Teneshia: To that question...Oh man.... one thing for sure, is practice your pitch. Based on the type of conference you're going to you really have to do your homework. Download the floor plan, where the brands will be and what brands will be there and craft a pitch based on those brands that will be there. Speak to some of the things a brand is already doing and how can your service enhance what they are already doing. In short, practice and do your homework. Each pitch should be different based on who you are pitching. You want to have broad language you can fall back on but do your research to have a pitch be specific

Ana: In terms of resources, Is the Big Book of Small Business. It's my bible. I highly recommend it. Another book that's helpful, is Working with Emotional Intelligence. Highly recommend it. If you're going to events and pitching yourself at events is going to Toastmasters.

Beth: I also want to say, if you're talking to a brand, you need to go to their blog, see what campaigns they are doing

Deb: Leads are really just your friends, friends who are doing really cool things. They are accountable to their own careers. They are interesting people trying to do interesting things in the world. Its really about helping each other get done what you want to get done. The more you can put yourself in their shoes and understand their business goals are, understand they are incredibly busy for them and how you can make things easier for them. On the other hand, if you just let them be leads, and don't pivot the conversation into the sale and are afraid to make the pitch and ask you will just be friends without benefits. Its really about learning when is the right time to make the ask. A lot of it is really just asking your lead and listening for opportunity. You can ask them what is the best way to pitch. They may want to have a collaborative meeting with them. It will naturally and organically turn into a conversation. Another way a pitch may happen may be very written and formal. They may want a media kit, a price sheet, a PowerPoint document. They may want to see some numbers before engaging. You may not want to lead with that but you want to be ready with that information. They may not be just 1 decision maker and just know that they are going to pass that information around. Have materials that will really serve as a snapshot for them. You can also have a specific sales sheet designed just for them. You can match it to the things you've heard. These are all valid ways of pivoting that lead into a sale. All along its really important that you listened and be adaptive. It likely they will have distinctive messaging and needs. You want to have room to tailor your pitch. Its a collaborative process, especially if you're a creative person. You're collaborative partners with your leads, that collaborative discussion can lead to innovative products.

Ana: To add to that, its so easy to close a sale when you think of two things. Every brand, agency is looking for two things -- to save money and to make money. Keep it simple. You are there to make or save them money. Where do you fit in.

Deb: Brands want ways to spend their money. They want ways to spend money rather than just standard, traditional products. they want to collaborate and think of innovative products.

Ana: Remember to be aware of who you are talking to. PR agencies do not have money. They are only interested in how you are going to save them money.If you're looking to get money go to advertising agencies, marketing teams.

Teneshia: During the pitch process you will hear no. Find an interpretation that work for you, no could simply me "Not Now" or a delayed yes. You can't think of a "No" as a forever thing.

Deb: Know that you won't actually hear "NO" as often as you would think. Persistence really does matter. Be patient and understanding that it could take a long time. It could be a long process, you may be asked more things. Its really about patience. It does sometime take being bold enough to ask for the close. You can only ask that if you're okay with hearing "No." You have to sometimes feel it out.

Ana: When you get "No," find out what they are looking for. You have to have a hard shell, figure out what you're going against. Figure out what doesn't work. Its a mutually beneficial relationship. You can't take it personally, its not against you find out what they are looking for and what can make your blog better. Bloggers unfortunately are groomed to be in a silo. Don't be afraid to collaborate with others who might be good and something you're not.

Deb: Outsource, work with an ally, partner. There is a lot of "No" and delays. Trade with someone else or secure some help

Beth: Find out where the money is. A no isn't necessarily a no its about figuring out where the money is.

Teneshia: Really, track and measure how long its taking you from the first point of conversation to the time to sign the contract. You may want to do something different. Really watch what you do to work and craft your business model.

Ana: You need to have an answer for all of the bad things. If you prep ahead of time, it doesn't hurt to ask questions. You want to grow so any feedback you get will help.

Audience: I've worked with brands who will ask me to do a post who are very specific on language. And some brands give me more freedom, very loose guidelines. Is there a norm?

Ana: I'm going to give you a little secret of what I've been doing. What I created was a Google Form, have them fill it out. Send them the link and have them fill that out. Have them fill out all of the information you need form them. And give them access to a DropBox where they can drop their photos etc. That helps you when you get that form filled out to check of the list.

Teneshia: I had the opportunity to interview a lot of bloggers in the process of creating the book. As bloggers you have to be protective of your brand and your voice. You may in the end be hurting your personal brand so you have to assess what brand partners work best for you so you're not selling out your network just for the check. Don't be afraid to push-back and say that's not my voice. Its not about taking the check and selling out.

Ana: In the Google Doc. Put exactly what you will do and what you wont do. That way they know exactly what your restrictions and guidelines are. At the end of the day whose readers will go to if there's an issue. Be honest but be professional

Beth: A Statement of Work is so important. Contracts are so important, get a lawyer. In a statement of work it is exactly what you are signing up to do. If you have a good SOW you have that to fall back on.

Ana: If you have Word, you can type in a Statement of Work and they will give you templates. Go to legalzoom or rocketlawyer to get standard contracts. Once you have one contract, use it for the whole year. Change it after the year because laws can change. Whenever your contracts change take it to a lawyer to double and triple check. If you're pitching a client you have to have your foundation ready.

Audience: If you feel like your strength is your voice but want to outsource the rest. What do you think about outsourcing the sales component of your business? Like a sales rep or agent?

Ana: One of the things I was told was "It's better to get a part of the pie then a whole of nothing." I will pay something to get me leads. Absolutely, if you're not good at it, outsource it. As long as they understand your values, your voice who you are so they are representing you properly.

Deb: I think its a good question, especially since a lot of lead gen has to do with relationships. I think its acceptable but I think its important to have a connection to your lead. For some people it works really well to have someone repping them. There could be great strategy in that you would come in at just the key times. You could work it a lot of ways. How many people does your helper represent. If they are repping a lot of folks, you might end up competing. Even if you do outsource, stay involved and engaged. There could be a lot of disappointment for people who think its a passive process. You have to stay in touch with the people who are repping them. Its an active process. Obviously, if you have help the pie is bigger.

Teneshia: I would add, if its your voice and your followers are connected to your voice, what I found is that its the balance between the dance. There is certain blogger talent where I really appreciate that they are the voice but when it is time to go into strategy their sales person will help with the sale. No one is going to rep you exactly the way you are so I would definitely not cut yourself out completely.

Ana: If you're part of a network of bloggers, they will rep you. If you are part of an agency, get a project management system. Start using all these different tools.

Beth: This is a great segue into stage 3. We talked all about negotiation and pitching. The next part is executing the sale. Everyone in this room is selling a product or a service. Its a three step process. First, take the contact and make a project requirements. Call the client and get a list of what the deliverables are. The second step is creating a plan for those requirements and then implement the plan.

So, next you are going to ask yourself what tools do you use? There are tons of project management tools out there. Start simple and work up from there. I use Excel a lot. A good ole spreadsheet works. Basecamp seems to be the top tool recommended. Here's a list of some of the project management tools. The people that are successful are using project management tools. Setup a system, it will get you through everything. Use online documents, scheduling tools, curation cools. Video is so important. Look at what social media platforms fit your service. If you don't know how to do it, learn how to do it. There are so many apps for the phone and social media management in terms of maintaining lists. When executing sales it is so important to have the right tools in place.

Deb: You have this great idea, you found leads, you pitched and sold... you're not done yet. The really important part of the sales cycle is reporting your results. You need to summarize your outcomes, project's impact. The person who gave you the money is accountable for that money. You want to keep your contract as simple as possible and then over deliver and tout how you over delivered. They might not have seen the great comments and the conversation that happened. You want to tell them to get why what they bought mattered. Its a great chance for you to say what you can do next time and it helps them do their job and report to their superiors. Give them the metrics and the ROI on what you did. Give them screen shots, tweets, photos and put it together in a nice package for them. If its a PR company, there are really motivated to get new business. Their partnership with you can help them. Those are some things you can do.

Deb: There are formal tools that can help you keep track of the conversations and the exchanges you have with people. A lot of us are experimenting and you want to remember the conversations you had and you're learning. One CRM tool I like is crm.zoho.com. There are places where you can make notes, load documents and have an understanding of your conversation with them. You can do this yourself using excel, do find a system that works for you that reminds you who that person is, what type of work they are doing and how they might fit into the work you're doing. It's important to not only stay in touch with them when you want something from them.

Audience: What is the name of the website to get an attorney?

Ana: SBDC, the women's small business development center. Just search those terms.

Beth: A lawyer is the best thing you can invest in

Ana: Someone to do admin work. Task Rabbit and ODesk are great sources. They are temporary people who can take a few hours to do work for you.

Deb: And we know a lot of people just because you can do it all doesn't mean you should do it all.

Beth: I think we're done. Thank you so much!


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