This is a strategy that anyone prepared to invest the time in creating great content and in researching and reaching out to publications can follow. Not only will it build your authority in your field, it can have an immediate impact on website traffic and email subscribers.
PR Expert Debbie Leven
Shortly after publishing the podcast I got a wonderful email from PR expert Debbie Leven expanding on the interview with some very practical tips on finding relevant opportunities for guest articles, blog posts and other media appearances.
I liked Debbie's email so much that with her permission I've turned it into an article with a couple of my own tips added in. I think you'll find it really helpful in implementing the strategies Dorie and I discussed.
Today's blog post is a guest article from Michael Zipursky. A good friend and real expert in marketing and sales for consultants and other professionals. Take a special look at the “Clear A Path” section – simple to do but an area where most people go wrong.
Get Unstuck and Shorten Your Sales Cycle
It's not uncommon for consultants and independent professionals to find their pipeline full of leads and prospective business, though not enough of that business is being closed.
Imagine a funnel being filled with small marbles from the wide end at the top. Each one represents a potential client and project. You know that the majority of these should be coming out the bottom in the form of a sale…yet nothing is moving.
When you find yourself in this situation, it's important to sit back and analyze the situation. Often one or more issues are at play. Once you deal with the issues it's like you've greased up all the marbles and they start coming out the bottom at a quick rate.
So how do you identify the problem in your sales cycle to fix it and grow your business?
Here are several strategies to help you get started…
Houston, We Have A Problem
In fact, maybe you have more than one. The problem I'm talking about however is not a problem with YOUR business. I’m referring to the problem your prospective client is facing. Once you've identified the real issue they are having, you can ensure that you focus your language and communications so that you're addressing it. To uncover what's really going on and how big of a problem the issue is, consultant and author Andrew Sobel suggests asking questions like: ” “What is this costing you right now?”; “If you don’t fix this problem, what will the consequences be?”; “What do you think this opportunity is worth to your organization?”; “What other issues is this causing for you?”; and “Would you say this is one of your top two or three priorities?” As soon as you've discovered the real issue and what it is worth to your prospective client you will be well on your way to moving the sales cycle along.
Clear A Path
Neglecting to outline the steps involved in the sales process clearly for the client is a mistake many consultants make. At the end of every meeting you need to inform the client what the next step is and when it will happen. In addition, you'll find it valuable to walk them through a step-by-step of what your sales process is. That may be starting with an Analysis, and then on to a Review Meeting, then a Recommendation Session with Discussion on Investment and so on. The better your prospective client understands your process the more likely they will be to move along it.
You are THE Authority
Another common challenge you may face is questions around your authority. If a prospective client doesn't have full trust in you, they will find it very difficult to engage you. In fact, this is one of the key reasons sales cycles can take so long. If the client is not convinced that you clearly are the best option for them, they will put off making a purchase. In this situation you need to do all that you can to educate and provide value to your prospective client to prove to them that you are an authority, that you get results and that they can trust you. Think case studies, testimonials, reports, demonstrations.
Shrink The Table
If you've ever sat a boardroom table and had a feeling that too many people are present you know what I'm hinting at with this point. When you are moving a prospective client through the sales cycle, it's critical that you are speaking directly with the decision maker. Anyone that doesn't need to be there ideally shouldn't be. If they can add value to the conversation and process, then value their input and attendance. If not, focus your energy on speaking directly with the decision maker. You will find that as soon as you talk to the right person and get on the same page with them, the whole sales cycle will speed up.
Sometimes asking a simple question can provide you with extremely powerful information. For example, “What would we need to have ready in order for us to start this project at the beginning of next month?” The goal here is to figure out what your prospective client's real objections are. You can then figure out how to remove those objections and create a clear route to win the project.
It's a great question, right? If there is no scarcity involved then your prospective client has no reason to move quickly. Scarcity doesn't have to be a ‘limited-time offer'. It can be something as simple as “We can only accept 2 new projects next month so if you want to do this soon it would be best to get moving quickly…” Or scarcity can be focused more on the company. “How much is this issue costing your company each day it is not dealt with?” If it's a big problem, finding a solution and having it implemented ASAP becomes valuable.
By looking at your current sales cycle and your prospective client and referencing each of these points you'll be able to uncover the current roadblocks in your path, remove them, and be well on your way to closing more sales.
Michael Zipursky is a strategy and lead-generation consultant, author, and founder of Consulting Success, a leading resource to help you become a consultant, and FreshGigs.ca, a jobsite for marketing and creative professionals in Canada.
Today's article is a guest post from Travis Petelle of Breakthrough Business Solutions. Travis has picked up on my ideas on Authority Marketing and shares some excellent tips on how to build an authority position in your business.
Building yourself as an authority figure in your niche could possibly be the best thing you could do for your business. It promises easier sales, more prospects knocking at your door, and overall a much simpler time getting what you want. Expecting this respect to just fall in your lap is foolish at best. You must take action to build yourself as the authority and that's what I wanted to cover in this article.
As Ian stated in his article, Authority Marketing: The Essentials, becoming the authority is more than just having the expertise. There are plenty of professionals with expertise in your industry available. Each one of them probably has about the same amount of knowledge and expertise in the subject. What's going to make you different? What's going to allow you to stand out from the rest of the crowd and have people begging to hear more from you. Building you as an authority will.
There are a number of ways to do this. You could add simple things to your website, create masterpieces that help your audience, or get hosted in several locations. Allow me to show you some great tactics that could easily increase your credibility and authority in your industry.
Instant Authority Builder – Become An Author
Writing a book and getting it published in your industry is one of my favorite ways to build authority. I often work with doctors, lawyers, and other professionals, and one of the main projects we focus on is making them a published author. When the public sees this, they instantly think of you as a higher authority. You are instantly seen as knowing more then others in the subject. It also opens the door to media coverage which I will get into later.
Becoming a published author isn't as difficult as you might think. If you aren't much of a writer, you can always hire a ghostwriter to help you get what you know down on paper.
Depending on your industry, you might find it difficult to get a book published by major publishers. There's an easy fix to this as well. Get your own book published. Amazon offers an easy to use service that will publish your book for a relatively cheap price. Just having that physical product with your name on it is what builds the authority.
Don't Be Afraid To Speak In Public
Public speaking is a great method to build your credibility and the influence you have on prospects as well. The reason it's such a powerful method is because you are helping the audience. Public speaking is all about informing others. In a consultant's example, once you show one member of the audience how to double his business by contacting his database, he will start talking to his friends about what your speech did for him. The power of referrals is tremendous and public speaking is a key step to fast referral building.
Make Good Friends With The Press
When you generate attention from the press, your authority will quickly build in your industry. Even just a simple newspaper article about your business or a guest spot on a radio show can and will get customers knocking on your door. There are always new stories developing that are related to every industry. The key to grabbing the attention of a reporter or radio producer is creating a captivating angle on these stories. Once you offer them something their readers will enjoy, they will keep an eye out for your name and what's going on with your business. Having a book and doing speaking events really helps put you in the press's spotlight as well.
Building Authority From Your Website
You all know how important your website is in today's market. It's where 9 out of 10 customers of any service or industry research before they buy. This is why it's so important to begin the process of building you as an authority from your website. It's the first place they are going to look to learn more about you. Here are some simple things you can do to help start building that authority:
Add Association Logos – BBB, BNI, Local Chamber of Commerce, etc.
Adding logos of places like FedEx, UPS, and USPS helps. These companies spend a lot of money to market themselves and just having their logo can cause credibility to rub off on you.
Have methods of payment accepted logos such as credit card logos. Shows you have been approved by 3rd party vendors who have spent millions building their credibility and they have approved you. You could also add PayPal or other online checkout logos if you accept internet payments.
Offering a powerful guarantee and make it a logo.
List a local phone number and a toll free number if marketing out of your area.
Post icons that show as seen on Google, Yahoo!, MSN, Bing, etc…
Include any awards you have earned even if it's not directly associated with your work. Charities often award these type of certificates, etc.
Any press release or news story featuring you or your business should be on your website.
Splashing testimonials across your website in random locations shows that what you do works.
Celebrity endorsements will rock your credibility even if they are just industry specific celebrities. Having pictures of you shaking hands with the celebrity etc.
Contact page including a picture of your office or building, Google Map, Fax , etc.
Link to Secretary of States office with YOUR business listing
A video of you speaking about your industry will boost your authority as well.
Becoming an authority in your industry is key to creating a highly successful business. As the authority, people come searching for you…not the other way around. You get the opportunity to start turning down clients instead of wondering where the next one will come from. So, get out there and start learning how to influence people.
This was a guest post by Travis Petelle. He is the president of the consulting firm, Breakthrough Business Solutions.