Category: Pure Business

30 May 2017

Sales Superheroes? There’s An App For That!

The best sales professionals have one goal: solve the customer’s problem. If the customer doesn’t have a problem, then they don’t need a solution. So, either a salesman has to “hurt ’em to heal ’em” (as we say in the south), or they need to respond to the question with a knowledgeable solution. Thus, the sales call has to be fluid in case the problem is not what the sales professional originally perceived. In fact, ideally the customer discovers he has numerous problems the salesman can solve. Either way, information is king. In a world full of information, the pace of retrieving the answer becomes the competitive advantage. Furthermore, many businesses provide numerous solutions. A human can only retain so many details about complex specs or products. Nothing is more humiliating than when a potential customer asks a question about the salesman’s company’s products, and he can’t answer it! The customer is never more interested in the answer than when he’s just asked the question. So, either the sales call starts to lean towards, “I’ll follow up with you later,” or even if a sale is closed, a cross-sale is probably lost.

This is why we designed and developed an app that can carry the customer conversation from beginning to end in the palm of your hand. It is a good practice to take a room of sales people and ask them to describe the average sales call conversations in detail. Odds are, they have similar characteristics and some of them may not include checking on the company website. Here is a great example: a worldwide sales team may regularly need to calculate the price of products in different currencies depending on where the part is manufactured. It may not seem like a big deal; he can simply pull out a smart phone and Google it. When his customer asks about market news, he can locate it on his laptop to walk-through the story. Or, if there is a product video available on YouTube, he may even use a tablet to find and offer an excellent resource.

The sales call can continue for some time while waiting for this video to load, or that site to be found, or that contact to be emailed. But what if, upon discussion with this room of sales people, you realized the conversations were all fairly similar and could plan to be prepared in one application to offer all the answers? Yes, there is an app for that. Unlike many sales software solutions, the Leopard Digital app takes into account the modern philosophy of transparency. The salesman takes the lead, but while he is researching the answer, the customer is watching. Everything done in front of the customer should be a quick, professional, and even branded experience. Also, some sales solutions are designed to gather pertinent information to design analysis/produce charts and research for the customer, but when an unanticipated question is asked, it would be odd to login to the software to design an answer.

It’s time to turn the monitors around. We all know the feeling of standing behind an airline counter and waiting through 100’s of keystrokes and having no idea what could possibly be going on on the screen! Technology, like the iPad Pro, offers a large screen that is easily shareable, and there is no hidden feeling of searching for something behind someone’s back. More data, less memorization, less missed cross-sales, suggestion alerts, and presentation quality research. Contact us to learn more about it. We can use the digital advantage to help you #FindYourSpot out in the offline world, too!

Thank you for your time,
Katherine Campbell

13 Mar 2017
Progress Over Perfection | Manufacturing Marketing Blog

Progress Over Perfection – What are you waiting for?

We all have that one person on the team who seems to know it all. And, often times, he actually does! But, the challenge is that Mr. Know-It-All tends to do something that isn’t very smart. He finds a way (and then yet another way) to do something better. He can often be what I call “actively deciding” which is a current state of open-ended decision-making, versus the past tense, decided. Particularly in today’s ever-evolving world, nothing is ever done. Everything we complete is only complete for the moment. It can take months to launch a new product whether a newly engineered light bulb or a new type of mortgage loan. So, from the time the product was conceived to the time it is ready to be released, of course we have learned a lot along the way and can find improvements in the original concept. The choice should not be to halt the progress, but to let it run its full cycle and then start a new decision cycle versus continuously interrupting the one in process. For some, this will simply make no sense. “How can you know there is a better solution and release a less optimized one?” Well, for these people who struggle, here is a 1-2-3 to consider:

  1. Remember, it’s not what you’re selling, it’s who you’re selling to.  Your market hasn’t even caught up to your original thought. They haven’t sat in the meetings, heard the debates, priced out the other options, and weighed the benefits. They simply woke up one day to an email that touted “New XYZ Product!” Also, we largely work with professional services. Many of our clients don’t offer products that are sold to the same buyer even as often as light bulbs. So, whatever you release today is bound to be significantly better than the version they had before.
  2. No one cares as much as you. Now, don’t get me wrong, clients’ expectations are high, and they are more educated to their options than ever before. But, even still, on the one product that you have spent an inordinate amount of time developing, no one in your sphere probably knows or cares about it as much as you do. It is important to keep in mind that you’re not done with a product or service offering, there is V.2 and beyond waiting to be discovered. Continue your thoughts down the next version and even keep them to yourself for a bit. One doesn’t want to demotivate the team or deflate their enthusiasm. Let them feel accomplished and keep the level of enthusiasm for teamwork and accomplishment.
  3. Progress over perfection. This is a philosophy that needs to be mentioned and adopted by the development team from the beginning. Now, this doesn’t mean settle for a mediocre product, but there can be processes in place to actually ensure that Mr. Know-It-All doesn’t continuously kill the opportunity for growth. For instance, Thomas Edison and his team of researchers tested more than 3,000 designs for bulbs between 1878 and 1880. In November 1879, Edison filed a patent for an electric lamp with a carbon filament. The patent listed several materials that might be used for the filament, including cotton, linen and wood. Edison tested more than 6,000 plants to determine which material would burn the longest. Apparently, bamboo won. Now, this isn’t to suggest that Mr. Edison wasn’t correct in his approach, but 6,000? Really? Were we still burning ourselves with wax while waiting the time it took to test 6,000 plants? A good suggestion would be to have a firmly documented development process in place, as most companies do. But at some point of the process make a rule that once it is signed off of that step, there is no turning back. You may even start version 2 before V.1 is launched, but for goodness sake, get it done! Let us marketers worry about the messaging.

We all know that once we do something so little as remodel a hall bathroom, we would do it differently next time. The good news about product development is that, most likely, there are many more next times to come! Keeping people motivated is the name of the game, let them make progress.

Thank you for your time,
Katherine Campbell

20 Feb 2017

Product Launch: Does the Right Hand Know What the Left Hand is Doing?

Especially with new product launches, but anytime there are more than a few people involved, communications and motivations can be difficult to align. For instance, if you look at an industry like manufacturing, their R&D and marketing teams couldn’t be further apart in their styles of communication, and often their measure of success is a department goal versus a corporate one. I once lead a marketing team for a worldwide manufacturer and just trying to get feedback from R&D was difficult. They had so many high level executives to report to, they certainly didn’t want pressure from marketing for a product launch! Of course if you remove all emotion from it, there would be no use releasing a new product if there were no sales collateral or market awareness that it existed. So, there in lies the problem, and it is a team effort to design the solution. I have reviewed many product development flowcharts, and as you’re probably aware, they basically define a flow that goes in this general order:

  1. Idea – product team
  2. Market Analysis – R&D
  3. Product Development – R&D
  4. Production – Manufacturing
  5. Marketing & Launch – Marketing & Sales
  6. Aftermarket Service – Service

Oh sure, we always say we’ll get more organized next time, but there rarely seems to be a significant product that gets launched the same way twice, right? That’s because budget, testing, software development, etc. rarely happens in a steady stream as planned. So, here is another One, Two, Three from me to suggest an efficient communication process from idea to service when launching a product of any kind.

  1. Establish a new product development team. This would include a group of people from each department including R&D, Sales, Marketing, Accounting, Supply Chain Management and any team who will be impacted by the product. This team is NOT comprised of management – we all recognize management has enough meetings! This is a group who should be made to feel privileged that they are in-the-know about the latest and greatest things the company is working toward. They are merely to report back to their managers and groups with progress and questions as needed.
  2. Merge marketing. Though it can be common for marketing teams to be responsible for the layout of technical documents including specs, etc of a new product, often the promotions team isn’t aware of what drawings or animations may be available. Also, there may be a brand team who has a budget for offline that doesn’t coordinate with promotion online, who may not even coordinate with the web development team who is responsible for updating the website and creating a URL for the product to begin with. A clear workflow should be established within marketing that is largely motivated around the KPI’s for the performance of the product. Namely, yes, sales! Marketing should be accountable to bottom line sales. This will often set the tone for the team to be proactive in having the collateral ready.
  3. Training. Of course there should be time set for the sales team to be trained on a product launch. But, be sure that early in the process, training includes the marketing messaging, marketing distribution (i.e. magazine, websites, etc), and any brochure collateral that is created. The sales team is your feet on the street. Make sure they’re repeating the message that so much time and money was spent to create. A uniform voice to the customer is the powerful one!

Happy product launching! Remember that Leopard Digital’s Sales Mobile App can help sales teams retrieve information faster than ever before. Ask Us How.

Thank you for your time,
Katherine Campbell

23 Jan 2017

Do I advertise Offline if I advertise Online?

THAT is the $1,000,000 question!  Should I advertise offline in local magazines, newspapers, direct mail, bus benches, billboards, radio and all the stuff I get sold all day long, or do I take the leap and spend my marketing money online? The simple answer is, YES…to both.

Occasionally I come across a professional who doesn’t “believe in marketing,” as if it’s a faith that may or may not be sending or receiving the right messages to live a full life. And, no doubt about it, marketing does require a certain amount of faith. But, by and large, most professionals believe in the opportunities of marketing, they’re just unsure how to go about it. They ask, “Should I keep it local where I can frame it and hang it in my business, or do I try to look super savvy and do that Google stuff?” Many advertising purchases are often made out of emotional decisions – “I want to see my logo in the magazine that I read.” However, the idea of advertising offline or online are not mutually exclusive and doing both can have exponential benefits. There are clear guidelines to reaping those benefits, and it all revolves around customer behavior.

So, think about it. You’re a customer. You search online for products and services all the time. When you go to click on a result after searching, often times you may choose a brand name you recognize. So, let’s say you need a real estate agent. You may type in the search bar, “real estate agent near me.” When the list of results appears, you probably see a familiar option. The agent who has her name on the grocery cart or logo on a bus bench that you’ve driven by 100 times, seems like a comfortable choice. You may not have ever met her, and you didn’t even think to search her name, but once she appeared as an online option, her offline advertising gave you a sense of comfort to click her link.  This is similar to the concept of my last blog: Yellow Pages vs. White Pages in case you missed it.

What is most important is to understand the intention of each type of advertising, and make logical decisions based on the goals they can achieve. Let’s stick with the real estate agent example. Just because you see an ad for a real estate agent, doesn’t make you have a need to sell your home. There is not a lot a real estate agent can do to create the need for his service. However, when someone does need the service, he can position himself to be chosen based on his consistent impressions in the marketplace. This is why people in the service industry, like a financial planner, may say, “I tried advertising, and I didn’t get one call off of my one ad in that magazine.” For the most part, advertising a professional service in an offline vehicle is merely a very brief impression for consumers. Clearly, the more ads, the more impressions in a consumer’s mind, the more likely it will stick. It is difficult (and expensive) to build an advertising campaign that creates a need. But, it can be quite reasonable to be in the right place at the right time to fill a need. This is where online advertising has huge benefits. People reading a magazine may not need a realtor at the moment, but people searching “real estate agent near me” certainly do!

So, how do you actually execute a budget-friendly strategy?
Advertise offline in the same area and publication to develop a relationship with a niche market. If you don’t have the budget to advertise all over town, then focus on owning one section of it. It may be one publication only. At least the people who read that publication every month will begin to recognize you. Visit the publication’s social pages regularly and comment on the different topics. Mention that publication on your website and social media, and show the advertisement. It can help with your search engine optimization and instantly make the connection for the potential customer – “Ah yes, I’ve seen that ad.”

You can dip your toe in the water of advertising, or you may jump in the deep end from the high-dive, but you do have to be in it to win it!  There is only so much time in the day, however, and we know you have your real job to do.  We at Leopard Digital would be happy to help you take the leap and Find Your Spot.  Contact us today!

Thank you for your time,

Katherine Campbell

15 Jan 2017
Learn how to get out of the competitive Yellow Pages with three inexpensive ways for people to find you online. Leopard Digital

Yellow Pages vs. White Pages

For the few that can even find a phone book today, there is little use for it outside of a cheap booster seat for the little ones. But, back in the day it was THE solution to marketing your business and making sure someone could Find Your Spot. It was a big decision, too, as to what size ad you wanted to place in the yellow pages which could cost a couple of thousand bucks. If you are XYZ Patent Attorney, for instance, it was the only way you could “advertise” without embarrassingly going to market to advertise. So, making sure you had a good presence under “A” for attorney helped you stand out from your competitors. But what if they already knew your name? If you did advertise and people remembered your name, they would never visit the yellow pages and see your competitors at all. A potential customer would instead go to the white pages and look under “X” for XYZ Patent Attorney – right next to Xavier Printing Press, no competition there. Today, of course, we use online directories of all kinds that allow us to search for the service we want, select from a list of options, and click to call – all in about 10 seconds without moving from our seat…or having to lift 10 pounds!

Yet, many companies forget that the process of finding a service hasn’t changed at all.  A potential customer opens a search bar and either chooses to type the name of the service you provide, or they type your business name. I regularly see professionals not only making the mistake of not buying the search terms in their respective field of service, but they often don’t even buy their own name when someone is specifically searching for them. The business owner is often overwhelmed by online behavior and opts out of participation all-together. Even worse, they continue to spend money on the actual yellow pages because it’s what they’ve always done. It would be like Nike only putting their logo on the bottom of their shoes. Sure, the people in your home may eventually see the logo, but out in the real world, no one can. Why brand to four people when you could brand to everyone who sees you walking around?

So, here are 3 important and inexpensive steps you should take so that people who are searching for you can find you: buy your business name, use social media, and SEO (search engine optimization) maintenance.

  1. Buy your own name.  For goodness sake, if someone does think to search for XYZ Patent Attorney, you don’t want to miss them.  Many businesses don’t buy their own name on Google, Yahoo!, or Bing, yet competitors are buying words in their industry like, “Patent Attorney” “Business Attorney”, etc. Even worse, THEY may be buying YOUR name. So, even though your website may appear as a result somewhere on the page, it may not appear in the first few options, and now you’ve opened up the “yellow pages” of competition even though someone started in the “white pages.” Make sense?  I have bought the same business name up to 300 different ways because you might be surprised to learn how close (yet so far away) someone can be to remembering your name but get it wrong. It could even just be a typo, but people might search for “ZYX Attorney” “YXZ Patent” “Lawyer XYZ” – all kinds of crazy things, but they want to find YOU!
  2. Use social media. Your website should remain current, but most professionals don’t edit it very often. Searchable content for your brand name can be found in more places than just your site if you’re using social media. So, instead of the list of results only being your website and then your competition, the results could be your website, your Twitter page, Facebook page, then LinkedIn page, and THEN your competitors.  You could potentially take up to half of the first page results…who could compete with that?
  3. SEO maintenance. The services of attorneys, for instance, don’t change. So, once the site is done, they feel there is nothing to add. Doing regular SEO (search engine optimization) maintenance on your website is important if you want people to Find Your Spot. Not only is there regular improvement that can be made on the development side that no one can see, but regularly creating content adds to your search scope for people to find you. One such form of content would be to blog. All you have to do is type about what you already know, and viola! People may be searching for just such a thing. (Ahem…for example, you’re reading this blog now.)

As always, we at Leopard Digital recognize you have a real job to do. Making you successful online is ours. Let us #FindYourSpot.

Thank you for your time,

Katherine Campbell

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