Don’t Be Left In The Rain with your B2B Marketing

It’s a simple mix – and yet missed by so many.

There are five critical components of B2B marketing— neuro-science based claims development and messaging, content, website traffic, a website, and, of course, conversion. These are ultimately the only five that really matter and yet the B2B marketing landscape is like a field of broken dreams.

I originally wrote in the context of social media marketing – but I’ve expanded for digital as a whole.

People buy based on fears and needs

Start with a neuro-science based approach that focuses on your customer’s needs, fears and pain—and extend this into all aspects of digital.

Content is the driver

Whether it’s traffic or conversions, content is the piece that attracts and helps drive conversions; especially when it’s relevant, useful and audience-specific.

Traffic matters

When it comes to the big metrics – traffic is one of the big three. Traffic can originate from organic sources, PPC and social ads.


Our CEO likes to ask our clients – “is your website your lead salesperson?” Your website should generate consumption and conversion.

Conversion matters

Even with great messaging and the right traffic, conversion is the most important piece. Whether it’s micro or macro conversions, we all want real results and tangible outcomes.

Yes, it’s challenging to get all five components right, but the outcomes make the effort worthwhile.

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Search Engine Marketing in Your Business, How Does It Fit In?

The question is often asked by any size of business: “Where should I put my marketing dollars?” At least one of the answers should be SEM. SEM (Search Engine Marketing) in 2019 is almost a default effort that every business needs to employ to be successful in the digital space.

That is not to say that your business should go willy nilly into the world of SEM without a plan, a direction, a set of goals, and other KPIs to ensure that you are spending your money wisely. After all, to any business owner, every dollar is important. Ensuring that the money you are putting out into the ether is bringing money back in is of the utmost importance. Fortunately, through a good SEM campaign, you can more often than not rest assured that you will generate some ROI.

There are a slew of reasons why these efforts are important for any business, but not all will be relevant to your business. However, if you can find the solution and the reason that fits your needs, that is always a good start.


You can start a campaign right now and start getting results the next day! This isn’t always the best route, as there should be planning and discovery that goes into any marketing effort, but if you are looking to generate more traffic, gain more brand awareness, increase the number of leads in your funnel, and more, you can quickly generate a successful campaign (with proper planning) and get moving!

Brand Awareness:

In the realm of search, you can never be certain what your competitors are going to do. Outside of regularly checking your own brand name in searches, you can ensure you stay at the top of the results by bidding on your brand. Usually, the cost is low, because your name will have fewer searches and competition than most. Searchers will also see your name at the top of the list if you include it in the ad copy, increasing awareness and association with your product or service. It is always good to be front of mind to your users.

Search Intent

When using any SEM platforms, you are gaining data on what your users are searching for. You can look in detail at the search terms that are generating clicks and conversions for your ads, which in turn shows you the search terms that people are associating with your business. This can drive more marketing efforts through your site, from new static web pages to blogs and videos that you can create on your site. It really opens up a new world of opportunity.


By now, nearly everyone knows the large market share that mobile search has, which is propelled even more by the rise in voice search. As these numbers continue to go up, it is important that you find your users where they are. With the smaller size of the mobile search engine results page, it is important that you stay near the top. This can be accomplished with a good mobile SEM campaign, keeping you relevant to both desktop and mobile users.


Nearly all search, especially when it comes to Google, is targeted to the area surrounding the user. More and more, people are searching for terms like “near me” or “in INSERT CITY” to generate searches that are more relevant to them. This isn’t surprising, as searchers get smarter about finding the things they need and the search engines get smarter about delivering those local results. With an appropriately targeted SEM campaign, you can target the specific areas that your users are in, target relevant local search terms that your users are looking for, create ad copy surrounding those specifics, and generate more quality leads!

Small Budgets:

As a business owner, especially if you’re just starting to delve into an SEM campaign, you don’t have to blow everyone out of the water with a $10,000 budget. Budgets of all shapes and sizes can be catered to and manicured for success within any campaign and as that campaign generates success and growth, it can grow with you. Don’t get scared by budget numbers.

As for which platform you should use to start your SEM efforts, Google is the general default. This makes complete sense since it dominates the search market, but there are other platforms out there you can test to find your audience and meet them where they are. Whatever you choose to do, make sure that you take the time to do your research upfront, determine your goals of any marketing effort, and make the commitment that you are going to spend the time to try to make it work. If you half-ass your marketing efforts, especially when it comes to SEM, you can expect results accordingly.

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That Time When a Powerpoint Presentation Was the Best SEO Strategy

A while back, a prospect came to us looking for help. Their search traffic had all but disappeared. Leads from the website were halved, and the president of the company had suddenly become embroiled in the details of SEO.

“We only got 13 links last month, and only posted 8 articles about our main keyword. We’re still ranked #27, we need to be doing better. Can you help us?”

We started like we do with most clients, by making a dashboard. In the top left corner, in bold numbers, we showed the revenue that the website was generating. In just three weeks – a relative nanosecond in a busy sales organization – the conversation changed.

“We only converted 10% of our leads last quarter. We need to improve that to make revenue go up. Can you help us?”

You Are What You Measure

The point isn’t that focusing on SEO improvements is the wrong thing to do, but rather that organizations need to improve the metrics they measure. Of course, traffic to your website is good for business, but given the choice between more links or more revenue, there’s a clear winner. After all, what are those links good for, at the end of the day, if not a means to revenue?

In the example above, the sales presentation became the priority because it became clear that it was the fastest thing that would affect the bottom line. But that kind of insight is impossible to gain if you’re measuring links and blog posts, not revenue and expenses.

After the pitch was modernized, the close rate nearly quadrupled. Then, it was time to get to work on filling the top of the funnel, knowing we could close almost 40% of the leads. For this president and her company, the change was fast. For others, it takes a lot more effort, but it all starts with how you classify success, and looking at how you measure it.

Companies that get it wrong confuse activity for achievement. How many emails did we send? How many meetings did we have? How many times did I follow up with that vendor? That prospect? How many pipeline moves did I make?

Companies that get it right focus on results and achievements, however they happen.

What Are You Measuring?

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Is 2020 The Time For A Website Rejuvenation?

When was the last time that you took an in-depth look at your current website and SEO plan? With the ever-changing algorithms used for search engine ranking, is your plan up-to-date? Is it relevant? As technology does not stand still and is always changing (sometimes for the better, sometimes not), it is imperative that you periodically take the time to review your plan and tweak it as necessary to ensure that your website stays relevant and in good standing with the powers that be.

There are some necessary, yet often overlooked, things that you should consider when maintaining and growing your website.

Is your site accessible?

I know, it would seem like this is a no-brainer, but still… “Accessible” is more than just online. Have you published your sitemap.xml file so that search engines know about all the URLs that you currently have on your website? How regularly are you updating this? You should be updating this content whenever you add new content, edit current content, or change URLs. You should also be monitoring for any error codes listed for pages and fix them immediately.

Mix it up!

Is the only content added to your site a new blog post once a month? Then mix it up and broaden your content by adding in some different formats. Things like videos, infographics, case studies and more can add an attractive variety that your users will appreciate.

Know your Numbers!

I’m sure you have all heard it before, analytics! Analytics can help any SEO plan become more effective as they will show the behavior of users on your website. BBC offers a robust analytics feature that shows in great detail the path that your users take while visiting your site as well as give you a clear picture of their viewing environment.

Searching is key(word)!

How many of us actually take the time to do keyword research? Keyword research can help you promote your pages naturally and expand the reach of your listed content to a greater audience.

Follow me to …!

We all want to reach the end users out there who are potential customers, clients, readers, etc. How is this done? One fundamental way to do it is to make sure they can read the signs to reach you. Your website structure must be uniform and easy to follow. It will help the users to navigate their way through your site as well as help search engines crawl your site… fast.

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A Year in Review: Great year. Did we set ourselves up for failure?

What a year! Congratulations to everyone in a professional services firm that just finished their best year ever. I count myself as blessed because so many of you, so many leaders of firms (whether accountants, or architects, or attorneys, or contractors, or engineers) shared feedback about your firm’s successes and struggles and what you see trending in the industry. Thank you for that.

As I look back at the year, there were certainly a few common threads that wove through most of the stories I heard.

Obviously, one of the common threads was that most everyone is very busy. Another was that many are also struggling to attract and/or retain the talent they need to get the work done. In a way, those two sentences could summarize the state of professional services industries today.

There’s another thread I’ve focused on quite a bit lately because it worries me… a lot.

Even though most of the firms I talked to are busy, maybe busier than they’ve ever been, there’s an underlying current that, if they’re willing to admit it, worries almost every one of them.

Here are a few notes I jotted down during conversations this year:

  • We’re busier than we’ve ever been, but we’re less profitable than we’ve ever been.
  • We’ve won more projects than ever before, but we submitted for a record number too. Our win percentage is actually down.
  • We’re so busy and we’re hurting on the talent side so much that we’ve put a hold on developing new business. I’m afraid not being able to perform will hurt us more than passing on a few projects.

I don’t want to dwell on the negative… it has been a great year, but these kinds of comments leave me wondering: How will you leverage this year’s success for even more in the coming year? I hope this year wasn’t the setup for a disaster to come.

Here are the two things I’d like you to weigh in on:

  1. If you were very busy, ever busier than ever this year, were you more profitable than you’ve ever been or have you been working harder for less margin?
  2. If you had more work than ever this year, were your win rates actually up?

My fear is that many professional services firms, while having a successful year, have simply been propped up on a very strong economy. I hope you’ll prove me wrong, but if I’m right…

If professional services firms aren’t getting better at winning, what will happen when the economy inevitably slows down and competition gets tighter?

We’re already seeing signs that things are slowing down.

A couple more notes I jotted down:

  • We just had a project post-mortem with a client we’ve worked with for 15 years. Everyone was thrilled. The next week we found out they were looking at different delivery methods and fee-shopping for their next project… The. Very. Next. Week!
  • We’re a $1.2 Billion company and 90 percent of our work comes from repeat clients and referrals. We have a team of 6 responsible for our business development, but they’ll all be gone in the next 8 years.

If you’re responsible for developing business in the professional services world, I’ll guarantee you’ll tell me it’s a relationship-driven industry… and you’ll be right.

Relationships are important. They need to be developed, maintained, and cherished. There’s a good chance you wear “90% of our work comes from repeat clients and referrals” on your best blazer like a gold star. You’ll insert your own number between 75 and 90, but everyone says it.

It’s great when there’s plenty of work going on and those relationships are paying off, but what happens when projects start to dry up? What happens when those relationships start to fee-shop or the people that maintain the relationships aren’t in your firm anymore?

I know you’re busy and I hope that continues for a long time. Congratulations on a successful year, but please, please make sure you work hard in the coming year to get better at winning more of the right work at the right fees. It’s the only way to avoid disaster when the economy slows, commoditization is magnified and irrelevance is the lens your clients and prospects see your services through.

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Is Your Sales Pipeline A True Business Lifeline? Or Does It Risk Going Flatline?

Even a regular flow of orders is NOT the same as a true pipeline, argues Bryan Gray of Revenue Path Group. A pipeline that in reality is only at best a dotted line – with serious underlying business health issues – is one of the Five Great Threats to revenue growth through effective selling.

Don’t let fear of what you might find out become a barrier to accessing the knowledge you need.

Many people – and men are by far the worse offenders – would rather stay out of the doctor’s office at any cost than go anywhere near a check up. The thinking – or rather the subconscious fear led denial – goes like this:

“I feel ok. Maybe not super great. But not terrible either. If I let medics poke me around, they’re sure to find something. And when they do, the fact that I get to know about it will permanently jinx my health. Even if there is plenty I can still do to change my habits and prolong my active life. So I’ll carry on as I am, thank you for your concern.”

Yes it’s irrational. Crazy even. But in daily life we tend to derive a great deal of comfort from letting things be and not waking a sleeping dog. And we do the same in business, particularly when it comes to the sales pipeline.

We’re doing ok? Well aren’t we?

Just as we often let fear rule over the rational realization that having our blood vessels checked out at sensible intervals would be a good thing, we leave the vital business artery that is the sales pipeline un-scanned and unattended. We interpret superficial indicators – such as the fact that we are still in business and that the cash comes in – as proof positive of good underlying sales health. And when the ultimate shock of system failure comes, we are genuinely surprised.

BUT … this fear led and comfort oriented approach is no longer good enough. Too many of our competitors are now taking too much good care of their own sales pipeline health for us to be able to ignore ours and still sleep soundly at night. So it’s time to get that good ol’ pipeline on the treadmill and subject it to some stress testing. (By the way, it’s much better to do this in a controlled environment, with supportive intervention at hand, than be left to pick up the pieces after a collapse in the real world.)

If your best customer goes, does your business go with them?

Let’s get started by asking a simple question: What would happen to your pipeline of sales if your best customer today dropped out of it tomorrow? Would the impact be noticeable, but you’d still do just fine? (Because your healthy system is always delivering alternative revenue sources and one of those will quickly grow to compensate for the loss.) Would the business take a knock but carry on, although in a weakened state? Would the blow be terminal?

Time out. How are you feeling about this test? Confident? A little breathless? Somewhat anxious but you’re ok to carry on? Good, then we’ll continue. Now ask yourself what shape your pipeline would be in if you lost your best customer AND your second best customer AND your third best customer. All in rapid fire order. All unexpectedly. You’re looking pale. Very pale. The monitors show that your pipeline is flatlining. Code Red here!!

Happily, we are still in a controlled environment. We can stop this virtual test any time and start to learn from its lessons. The first key learning is that we need a benchmark, a definition of “healthy” for the sales pipeline that we can use to compare with our own situation. Clearly, no two businesses are identical and there will never be a single “ideal”. But there will be common indicators of basic health we can all profitably become aware of.

What are the vital signs of true pipeline vitality?

First and foremost, a properly functioning sales pipeline will carry a healthy mix of business. There won’t be over-dependency on a small number of existing customers. Contrast this with a so-called “pipeline” that only delivers repeat business. This is not a pipeline in any true sense. It’s an order calendar. It’s completely under your customers’ control, not yours.

Of course it’s tempting to look at this situation as the ideal. Generations of sales wisdom tells us that a diet of regular customers is the healthiest possible. They cost far less, or even nothing, to support in terms of sales operation. Their revenues are predictable. Their margins are respectable. But they also carry as much high, and hidden, risk to the sales pipeline as heavy cream does to the arteries. In both cases, with over consumption, the pipe becomes inflexible, hardened and narrowed. Any sudden stress and …

A sales pipeline with real vigor will enable healthy growth and not just in new business, but even among the longest-established accounts. There will be fresh activity, signs of new life and evidence that the sales operation is still capable of teaching old customer dogs new ordering tricks, instead of just letting them lie.

A sound sales pipeline will – just like a three-dimensional pipe – have real physical integrity. In plain terms, there won’t be any holes. There will be a continuous flow, from effective new business prospecting at the top, to a steady flow of revenue-boosting orders at the bottom.

Steady is the key word here. A jerky or spiky supply of business – with long gaps between orders and sudden spurts and floods – suggests a worrying underlying pathology. In layman’s terms, you have not so much a sales pipeline as a sales dotted line. Irregular. Not fully joined up. This in turn makes true business planning impossible, given the absence of predictability. And a business that can’t plan can’t grow on its own terms. It can only react.

Finally, a healthy sales pipeline will be just like a healthy blood vessel: flexible, open and rapidly responsive to changing conditions. It won’t depend on old and slow techniques; approaches that are already far outpaced by the technology and cultural impact of online based, social media influenced selling.   

What’s really under YOUR comfort blanket?       

The comfort of assumptions is an illusion. So stop assuming that your sales pipeline is in the state it ought to be for optimal performance. Get it on the treadmill and model the impact of a few tough scenarios. Don’t accept the status quo. Taking action today will save you from reaching for the statins tomorrow.

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“Silent Super-Salesman”? Or “Turnoff Time Bomb”?

Stop thinking of your corporate website as a “thing”. Start looking at it as your lead sales person, says Bryan Gray of Revenue Path Group. Is this a person you like? Or even respect? Are they effective or just also-rans? Keeping a website on the team that can’t do the job is one of the Five Great Threats to revenue growth through effective selling.

Close Encounters of the Sales Kind – 70% Now Happen Online

For sure, there is a lot of subjectivity around the often fraught issue of the company website. “Look and feel” is always going to be open to debate. It is rare that total consensus is achieved when design is under discussion. BUT … What simply cannot be ignored – or even debated – is the following hard fact: around 70 per cent of pre-sales research is now done online by your prospects before they even think about engaging with your sales team.

So your website is de facto your lead sales person. Handling the bulk of initial enquiries. Determining to a great, even frightening, extent whether a prospect takes the next vital steps to becoming a customer.

Where Does YOUR Website Sit in the Customer Persuasion Hierarchy?

Now in ANY organization, anyone who was guaranteed to have 70 per cent of all the initial close encounters of the sales kind would be the alpha, the silverback, the 700 pound gorilla who got everything from the best bamboo shoots to the bragging rights, every time and unchallenged.

The hard question to be asked therefore is this: is your website as it stands today, right now, a 700 pound roaring sales-making gorilla? Or is it something a little more modest? A shy lemur, perhaps? Or a timid little bush baby only appearing at night and frankly preferring to stay out of the limelight? Worst of all, is it a sloth? Happy to spend its days lazing in a tree? How can you tell?

“Sloth website” tendencies include the following: high bounce rates, indicating that visitors aren’t engaged by what they encounter and don’t stick around for long; lack of leads, proving that few visitors feel inspired to follow up and get in touch; low conversion rates confirming that prospects have little interest in becoming customers. These tendencies might, might, be easier to accept while you continue to think of your website as an inanimate object; a kind of techno-phenomenon that’s just too hard and too expensive to fix until you really run into trouble. But now try that trick of thinking of your website as a person and see how rapidly your attitude changes.

Sales Warrior? Or Lack-of-sales Worrier?

This guy is your lead sales warrior. Yet he is basically doing nothing! How long will you go on paying him? How quickly are you going to demand that he show you some radical improvement before you show him the door? If you could get rid of him right now, would you? And if you did cut him loose, would it make ANY real difference to your business?

If strong feelings are aroused by this process, that’s good. Anger is the precursor to action. But for an effective fight back, don’t (just) get mad. Get even better at selling through your number one sales person. Finally, make your website work for your business.

And here is where it gets a little more demanding. Now that you’re looking at your site as a human sales person, you can’t just roar at the guy for an hour and finally give him a month to shape up or ship out. That might make you feel better momentarily but it’s not a long-term answer. You have to look at your own role in the development of the current situation.

Did this ineffective sales person really know and understand what was expected of them? Did they have quotas? A personal development plan? Training and ongoing professional development? Sales aids and full marketing support? Or did you, being honest, equip them with the online equivalent of a sandwich board and an arrow on a stick reading “Golf Sale This Way”? Then did you plant them on the end of a virtual street and hope to catch some passing trade? If this was your approach, blaming the poor guy for not cutting it out there in a tough market seems a little harsh!

It’s Time to Equip for Success

From now on, things will need to be different. Your website will persist in being a truly horrible salesperson for just as long as you persist in giving them a horrible working environment: one of uncertainty, lack of support and absence of clear goals.

First base for positive change is defining what you want the poor guy to achieve. What does website-led success mean to your organization? How many initial sales meetings (visitor traffic) do you expect each month? What proportion of those visitors – as a minimum – do you expect to go further and convert into customers? How much money do you expect your head sales honcho to make for you?

Answering these questions will clarify the basic issues. You simply cannot succeed – or expect anybody else to succeed – if you can’t express quickly and clearly what success means. With the success parameters clearly defined, you can turn to the question of supporting your lead sales guy effectively. You have set them a series of expectations. That’s good. We know where we stand. How are you going to support them in achieving those expectations? (Not doing their work for them but making it possible for them to be effective in their own right.)

If you’re unsure how you’re going to support them. If you don’t really know what kinds of support are needed and what is going to be effective, it’s worth taking some advice and taking it quickly. After all, this virtual sales guy is directly handling 70 per cent of your prospects’ search for the stuff they want and the answers they need. So you can’t let him struggle on month after month, alone and ill equipped.

The Real Damage a Poor Website Does is to YOU

To sum up, if you have a website that’s the equivalent of an unprepossessing fellow with a clammy handshake – and who’s in acute need of a breath mint – then you also have a problem. It’s not your customers’ problem – they can simply say “not today thank you” and shut the virtual door. It’s not your shaky salesman’s problem because he isn’t actually a human being after all; ‘he’ is just a bunch of code on a server somewhere. It’s your problem.

So make it personal. Make fixing your web site issues an immediate priority. Start taking your share of the mighty 70 per cent of the enquiry process that’s happening out there right now. Because, if you don’t and your lead sales guy stays pallid instead of pushy, there are thousands of others out there who will get their foot in the door. And customers who could potentially be yours will open right up to your competition.

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How to Create a Sales Pitch That Closes More Deals

You’ve made it to the short list and now it’s time for the final presentation to a room full of decisions makers. But, the real decision-maker in the room is not a person. 

You’re really selling to a 3 pound organ called the human  brain. And as complex and amazing as it is, the process it uses to make a decision is both primitive and predictable. 

When it comes to decision-making, there are two basic parts, and they can be categorized as either an influencer or the judge. You might be surprised to learn that neither logic nor emotion are the judge. They’re influencers, offering support for really big decisions, some of the time. The real judge is the “instinctual” part of the brain, the limbic part. Its everyday job is to eliminate threats, pains and fears.

What’s amazing is that about 90% of our daily choices only happen in this part of the brain. They’re the sort of things we do all the time, like braking when a light turns red, tying a shoelace that’s come undone, or avoiding a hornet flying near you. For the other 10%, the limbic part of the brain makes its move first, and then logic and emotion come in as backup support. You can’t avoid it; every human decision, including whether or not to buy from you, begins with an assessment of threats, pains and fears.

What We Know About the Brain 

Process – Most sales people present in a way that conflicts with our brain’s decision-making process, citing facts and figures and features and benefits. As hard as it might seem, you need to flip it upside down, and talk about pains, threats, and fears first.

Speed – With 90% of decision made on autopilot, you must make it easy and fast for your prospects to say “that’s it!”.

Emotion – You must create emotional lift to spark commitment. Emotions are the trigger to decisions.

So, How Do I Present to the Brain?

#1 – Develop Your Three Convincing Why’s 

Find the two or three ways you solve your prospect’s pain. Prove them over and over and you create alignment with your prospect’s entire team, each member able to remember and recite how you’re different and why they should buy. Those two or three reasons answer “Why should they do business with you?” We call them Convincing Advantages™.

Well-crafted advantages that are unique to you, focused on your prospect’s pain and relentlessly proven, make it easy to communicate, easy to remember, and easy to apply – along every step of the sale.

#2 – Stop Talking About Yourself

“We have over 100 years combined experience on our team…”

“We’ve been a local resource for two decades….”

“We are trusted by over 10 of the Fortune 500…”

Do not start your presentation by talking about yourself. The brain does not care you are 100 years old, that you love your customers, or that your astrological sign is sagittarius.   

So many presentations lead with facts and figures, trying to win with logic, features or benefits, keeping you in the “wants and needs” part of the brain. We now know real connection happens below that line, at the subconscious level.

#3 – Focus on Solving Pains and Eliminating Threats

Your prospect’s brain needs to hear how you’re solving its pain first. During your presentation, start by setting the pain and showing resolution. This is called driving emotional lift. That last movie or book you enjoyed? It was a great example of setting up a pain or threat and then giving you the same kind of emotional lift through its resolution. 

Your presentation doesn’t need Hollywood special effects, but it can make the pitch better if you follow the formula. Each pain you address must be quickly countered with its resolution–your product or service. Then, back it up with solid proof. This engages the right part of the brain–the limbic brain–first, then gets the influencers–emotion and logic–to stop by and agree.

Win More Sales with A Better Pitch

You can’t show up and look the same, act the same, and say the same things as your competition and expect to close the sale. You have to win the brain to stand-out and differentiate and carry the room to close the deal. You can start winning more deals with sales presentations that actually engage your prospects and position you as the only solution.

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Hey Google, can you tell me how voice search is killing my SEO?

Who would have thought a 6″x 4″ speaker would change your life? Whether it’s Google Home or Alexa – sidenote, at 70%, Alexa currently dominates the US speaker market – smart speakers are moving into homes and businesses at a rapid pace. According to research from NPR and Edison Research, 1 in 6 Americans owns a smart speaker. That’s a 128% increase from a year ago.

Combine smarts speakers with mobile voice technology – your old friends, Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana, and voice search have become a dominating force for marketers and SEO.  In 2016, 1 in 5 mobile searches were conducted via voice search. (Mary Meeker, 2017 Internet Trends Report)  Currently, there are over one billion voice searches per month. (Alpine.AI)  And, 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020, according tocomscore.

“Of all the disruptions that are taking place in all the things technology is bringing into our space, voice is among the most disruptive,” said Graeme Pitkethly, the chief financial officer of Unilever PLC.

Voice search has two major effects on brands:

#1 – How You Say It

Bottom line, you say it differently than you would type it. On your desktop or mobile, you might type “Store hours for Starbucks” or “Store Hours for Starbucks near me”. But, with voice, the user isn’t inhibited by having to type each word. They may say “Hey Google, what are the store hours for the Starbucks on Beltline and Knapp?” or something more conversational, such as, “Hey Google, how late is Starbucks open?”

#2 – The Algorithms

“When it comes to voice search you go first position or you go home because beyond the first or second place there is no future,” Sebastien Szczepaniak, former Amazon executive who now heads e-commerce for Nestle SA.

Consumers get one to two options when using voice. When a consumer doesn’t specify a brand, Alexa, for example, uses the “Amazon’s Choice’ algorithm which implies a well-rated, well-priced item that ships with Prime. If the consumer has purchased before, Amazon will usually select the brand previously purchased. Like most algorithms, Amazon won’t disclose exactly how it all works. Google Home works using apps or their own Google Express. If a consumer doesn’t specify shopping within a specific app, Google will select one of their current stores based on your location and delivery day.

At this time, brands cannot pay to be served up first.

In conclusion…

The consumer impact for voice search can be felt right now as users are already using voice to look for new restaurants or call up a 24-hour locksmith. But, it won’t be long before B2B organizations begin to feel it just as strongly.  Smart speakers will be in the workplace.

“Hey Google, can you send me a list of the top rated architects in Michigan.” or “Hey Google, please call a local paper shredding service.” and “Alexa, I need a supplier for commercial cleaning products.”

Optimization for voice search will be imperative for organizations sooner than you think. Now is the time to start thinking about your voice strategy if you haven’t already.

“The guy who will win is the guy who will have iconic brands and products,” said L’Oreal SA’s Chief Digital Officer Lubomira Rochet. “I believe voice is as big as the internet—and Google—when it came.”

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How Buyers Judge Your Demo And What You Can Do About It

Top 5 phrases used on every demo:

  1. Our proprietary product has the following comprehensive list of features
  2. Our proprietary product will save you time and money
  3. We built our proprietary product with the end user in mind
  4. We have the highest quality product and best customer service
  5. I’ll go through the next few slides quickly because we’re getting short on time …

Oh boy…

If you say “proprietary” one more time, your buyer is going to fall asleep. Or do a shot. Maybe both.

Your buyer doesn’t care about the features and benefits of your proprietary product/service/method. They don’t want to be driven through a product demo of menus and clicks that leaves them daydreaming about who is going to get voted off of the island on Survivor. Hopefully, it isn’t you.

This isn’t your fault, and it’s not the fault of your product. Demos crash and burn because sales teams don’t understand how today’s buyer buys. You end up looking, sounding and acting the same as your competition. Thanks to the digital age, the buyer’s journey has completely evolved.

Focus on these three elements to make your demo the deal closer.

#1 Solve Your Buyer’s Pain
You may think that your buyer makes informed decisions based on meaningful, measurable, and logical outcomes. You are wrong. Their number one priority is to eliminate pains, threats, and fears. Why? Because their brain is in the driver’s seat.

You may think that your buyer makes informed decisions based on meaningful, measurable, and logical outcomes. You are wrong. Their number one priority is to eliminate pains, threats, and fears. Why? Because their brain is in the driver’s seat.

The brain has two major parts, the neocortex, where logic and reason live, and the limbic region, where instinct lives. Being a highly-developed species, we like to think that we make all of our decisions with logic and reason but the truth is that 90% of our decisions are made in the limbic, or instinctual side of our brain.

What does this mean for your demo? If you are leading with facts, figures, and features you are putting your buyer’s brain to sleep. You have to present your solution as the only way to eliminate their pain. You have to be able to drive preference and priority with your buyer.

By framing your demonstration around how your product or solution eliminates pains, threats, and fears you can create an emotional lift that differentiates you against the competition and creates a convinced environment.

#2 Create Group Consensus
According to the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), there’s an average of 6.8 people per decision-making team and that number continues to grow. And, that’s not just people… it’s 6.8 opinions, 6.8 different wants, and needs, 6.8 goals. Every person in the group comes to the decision table with their own bias and self-centric priorities.

Most salespeople only focus on the key stakeholder or the perceived decision maker. That worked 10 years ago, but today decisions are made by consensus. Sales teams need to go beyond the key stakeholders and uncover the needs as many of the members on the decision team as possible. From there, the salesperson must help to build prioritization and consensus. Once established, the presentations and demonstrations should only focus on the solution to achieve the right outcome of the buying team’s identified needs and objectives.

In a recent Linkedin article, Rob Falcone points out, “Sellers leading “feature-demos” connect with a point-problem (I need to get my lawn mowed) that buyers have defined. Sellers leading value-demos not only show how they can help address the point-problem but also help buyers broaden their scope to consider the strategic outcome (I need to maximize the sale price of my home, as quickly as possible).”

Focus on the strategic outcome, not the individual features.

#3 Prescribe Solutions
A prescriptive approach involves demonstrating what and how the buyer can do rather than telling people what they should do. This is often referred to as demonstrating the art of the possible.

With the right prescriptive message during your demo, you’ll prioritize the can solve over the on the minds of the buying team. Not only are you positioning your solution as the right choice, but you are also convincing the buying team that they need to act now to eliminate the pain, threat, or fear.

Demo to Win
Product features are a dime a dozen these days. And any buyer can sign up for a “Free Demo” of the latest and greatest. By the time they are jumping into your demo, chances are they are three-quarters of the way through their buyer’s journey. This means you’re out of the picture when they’re doing their research, making their own assumptions and creating their shortlist. Bottom line, you have less time to influence your prospect’s decision.

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