Frank Bria: Sales and Marketing Think Tank

Business. Rethought.

What Rush Teaches About How to Get Clients

Sorry, Client #1 I once heard a startup software CEO say, “You have to feel sorry for client #1.” It’s true. That first customer gets the brunt of the growing pains of your startup. Sure, they get all the initial customizations, and maybe a lot of attention, but little else. They’re your beta – if they’re lucky. Most likely, they’re your alpha. But if you know how to get clients, any client, you’re off and running. Right? The problem is, so many tech startups are dying to get client #1, that they end up taking just anyone. And that’s a mistake. Choose Wisely It turns out, knowing how to get clients isn’t enough. The wrong choice for client #1 – and any thereafter – can set your company on the wrong path – and it can be very difficult to recover from it. Mark Nogaki, CEO of Cambio Technologies, a Fintech startup dedicated to customer analytics, talked about his experience with a previous software startup. Our first paying customer was just wrong for us. Instead of helping us understand the needs of the market, they had us over-customize the software to their particular needs. We dumped UI components that turned out to be critical for other clients, and we spent a lot of time teaching them things that no one else cared about. It set us on a path we never truly recovered from. The problem starts because most tech startups don’t really know what they want to be when they grow up, not because they don’t know how to get clients. They’ve taken the “Lean Startup” mentality a...

3 Must-Haves in a Tech Company Web Strategy

What’s Your Web Strategy? When you kick off your startup, one of the first things you’ll do is put up a website. But is there a pattern to a good tech company web strategy? Obviously, some things will depend on who you sell to and what you sell, but there are 3 things you must have as part of that web strategy. 1. An Active Blog Notice the focus on “active” here? Yes, your tech company needs a blog. It’s not just for internet marketing firms anymore. Your tech company needs to be teaching something. Teaching is critical to your web strategy. Whatever your keeps your target market up at night, you need to be writing about how to keep away the boogie man. The pace and length of the posts depends on your market and solution. But generally speaking, my clients have to convince me to do it less frequently than weekly. When you blog weekly, you start to generate a pace of content that begins to saturate the space. Make keyword research a critical part of your web strategy. Make sure you’re blogging about stuff that matters. Don’t just take the time to mouth off about the latest piece of research or statement in the press. You’re not a consulting firm or trying to be controversial. Focus on the problem your technology solves. Write about the pain. Sure, mention the solutions, but save that for other content (see #2 below). Spend time in your blog “needling” your market a bit. Make them feel the pain more than they already would. Show successes and talk about how they...

How to Promote Your Business: 1 Thing You’re Not Doing

You Must Know How to Promote Your Business You want success for your tech company, don’t you? That means knowing how to promote your business. There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way. – Christopher Morley You want that for yourself and your business. One major reason tech founders and entrepreneurs can’t succeed is because their companies can’t break through. They can’t break through the noise of the marketplace. Knowing how to promote your business will allow you to break through that noise. Most don’t. They just blend in. Blend in with thousands of other companies just like yours solving similar problems. And even when you’re solving something differently, unless you communicate that difference, you’re just like everybody else. But You’re Not Like Everybody Else There’s a fear when you start a tech company that you have to engineer yourself out of it. If you were going to get acquired or IPO, the market had to see that the organization was bigger than you, the founder. That idea is starting to change, and what one writer calls the “paradox of personal branding” has been busted wide open. In fact, in order to stand out, you have to stand up – and be you. Become the one  who is setting the standard in whatever line of work you do – be it in the office, at home, in school or everywhere in between. – Jim Joseph So, to truly be successful – to know how to promote your business, you need one big strategy you probably aren’t doing today. Your #1...

3 Things to Speed Up Customer Acquisition

When you’re scaling up, it’s all about customer acquisition. You have to build a minimum customer base in order to get the scale you need. But more than that, you won’t really learn about your market and how it interacts with your product until you have a reasonable customer base. If you search for customer acquisition, you find a lot of platitudes about email marketing, SEO, content marketing, blah, blah, blah. Don’t get me wrong. Those are all critical things. And if you need a primer in these items, check out Help Scout’s comprehensive post on it. You know all of that. Maybe you even do it. But still, the people don’t come. Why not? Because all of the marketing tools in the world don’t matter if you don’t have the big 3: Relevance, Trust, and Authority. 1. Get Relevant through Audience Segmentation One of the major things you need to do in a start up is choose a target market. A target market focuses you to the demographics and psychographics that define your ideal customer. Many thing that’s enough to target the message. But that’s a mistake. You need to take that target market and segment it across two dimensions. Dimension #1: Customer Profile A lot of marketing professionals talk about this as your “avatar.” Think about the type of customer you have. Imagine the situation they’re in and draw up a profile. Write down the following: Give your customer a name. What are their demographics: age, income, educational level, job function, family status, etc.? What are their aspirations? What do they want? What are their biggest frustrations?...

4 Steps to Create a Minimum Viable Product

How Can You Create a Minimum Viable Product? The discussion of a minimum viable product, or MVP for short, is all the rage. From Lean Startup founder Eric Ries, the MVP gets you to market faster with a better shot at winning. A brief description in case you’re not familiar. A minimum viable product is the balance between a product with a minimum number of features, but just enough that someone will still pay for it. Take too many features out and no one will buy it. Leave too many features in and it’ll take too long to get to market. I get a lot of questions about how to actually design your MVP and it turns out there are 4 major steps. Step 1: Wrap Your Head around Imperfection As entrepreneurs, we are often perfectionists by nature. Or if we’re not a perfectionist in our whole lives, we often feel like our product is our “baby.” No one wants their baby called “ugly”, so we fuss. Get over it! If you want to survive, you’re going to have to deal with your “baby” being called ugly. In fact, you want the feedback. From the feedback, you’ll create a better product, and an even better one. The minimum viable product is what gets you there. Embrace it. Don’t make the mistake of analyzing and analyzing forever before launching. You don’t have the time and rarely have the money. It will not be perfect when you launch. Believe it or not, this is the hardest part for most entrepreneurs. Even if you think you’re okay with this, check yourself again....

4 Email Strategies for B2B Sales

I worked on an email strategy with a salesperson we’ll call Jack. Jack sold enterprise software to financial institutions. Jack was great in a meeting. He knew his solution backward and forward. He almost did as well as the sales support staff. In some cases, he was better because he knew how to read a room. He had great people skills. His problem? Not enough meetings. If Jack got a meeting, he did a great job converting. His conversion rates were quite high – especially compared to his team. But he had a hard time getting a first meeting. I asked Jack how he got the few meetings he did get and they were through connections or partner channels, but almost never directly. He tried cold calling into his prospects, but it wasn’t working well. I asked about email strategies. He said he sent introductory emails, but he admitted he didn’t have much of an email strategy. That’s not much of a surprise; many sales coaches note the poor use of email. There are a lot of things we can do to improve our email strategy – like Jaime Slutzky’s post on her 4 recommendations. 4 Email Strategies I walked Jack through the four basic email strategies for B2B sales. They break down across two dimensions: effort and content. Effort: Some emails are crafted by hand. You write them yourself, and even if you include some boilerplate copy, you make sure the overall content fits the recipient and you control the timing and content personally. These are manual emails. Automated emails, are of course, mass mailed and although they may contain some...

4 Types of Analytics Users and How to Sell to Them

The Thursday afternoon analytics users meeting had become a standard. Maybe you’re familiar with similar meetings. The key metrics everyone is following are presented in a presentation deck. Every number sliced and diced, bar charts and pie charts. Dozens of pages looking at different versions of the process to see what’s really happening. A few people asked questions, but mostly people just took it in. At the end of the meeting, people thanked the presenter who had taken so much time to put the numbers together and hung up. What was accomplished? Not much. I declare such meetings as a waste of time. They’re a waste of time because analytics mean different things to different people – different analytics users, if you will. And if we don’t understand how people consume analytics, they won’t absorb much at all. This lesson is critical for analytics solution providers. You’re selling to these different users. That means your solution needs to adapt to the different users and your messaging needs to adapt. The 4 Analytics Users Users of analytics break down into two dimensions: the purpose of analytics versus the skill set of the user. You can think of them as two axes forming a 4-box diagram. Across the bottom, we have the user’s purpose in the analytics: either exploratory or for decision-making. Along the side, we have the user’s technical skill level, from lower technical skill to higher technical skill. A lower technical skilled user will be someone who understands metrics, graphs, and charts, but cannot produce advanced analytic output. The higher technically skilled user will be able to understand and general...

7 Tactics to Boost Sales in 90 Days

Almost 15 years ago, my small technology business was on the brink of closing its doors. With no money and payroll to make, we needed to boost sales fast. I recently posted an article to LinkedIn that talks about that experience and walks you through the 7 tactics we put in place to grow. Out of that work, I have much of the process I teach companies today about how to boost sales that are lagging. Check the article out here. In the meantime, let me give you a bonus tactic #8. Bonus Tactic to Boost Sales: 8. Build an Autoresponder Sequence Related to tactic #5 (Teach Your Audience), I find that autoresponder sequences can be used effectively to build trust and confidence in your offering, thus shortening the sales cycle and helping boost sales. But not all autoresponder sequences are equal. Here’s a pattern for an effective 7-part autoresponder that leads your prospect gently to encourage a phone conversation. I’ve taken this pattern from Mark Satterfield‘s book The One Week Marketing Plan. I’ve adjusted it slightly for companies selling a product to enterprises. Every autoresponder sequence starts with an opt-in offer. Your offer should be an information product targeting your niche that educates the market around the “big result” you provide. Don’t know your big result (that’s tactic #1 here); get clear on that first, then come back to this. E-mail #1: Provide the download link the information product you suggested. E-mail #2: If the prospect has not downloaded the offer, send another e-mail giving the link “in case they didn’t get it” with more benefits to reading the...

Banking Trends for 2015

‘Tis the Season for Banking Trends and Predictions Now is the time of year for everyone to be talking about banking trends. So, of course, I have to jump on the bandwagon. If you want a more personalized walk through, I’m offering a webinar on the topic. I think there are four major themes for next year: Channels Technology Spend Mobile Regulation So, let’s talk about each one. 4 Channels that will Undergo Major Change 1. Online Especially in the use of online applications, this channel will undergo major shifts next year. Some of it will be due to regulatory change and some due to improved analytics. Customers are demanding a better application experience and few banks have responded. 2015 will be a year that demands a better account opening experience. Once that is in place, there could be a major shift in preferred banks as millennials and digital-savvy customers find banks that smooth the process. 2. Mobile Big surprise here, but there’s a lot of focus on mobile. I’ll go into more detail about mobile in its own separate theme, but clearly a lot of money is targeted for digital platforms with a special focus on mobile. Mobile is the go-to platform of choice among affluent and younger customers. It will also be the platform that will need to be conquered in order to capture the much discussed “underbanked.” No longer a niche offering, mobile banking is ready to be the standard for banking self-service. The Financial Brand published an article recently that talked about the push towards a better, more marketable digital experience. 3. Contact Center Here...

3 Cross Selling Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Cross Selling Oh, everyone talks about it. Cross selling. It will save the bank. We all know the statistics. Based on several different sources, we know that any given bank holds about 2 – 3 financial products per household where there could be up to 10 possible accounts. I spend a good deal of time talking about the appropriate use of cross selling in my book, Seven Billion Banks. Despite cross selling being a major priority for banks over the last few years, we’re just not that good at it. Consider the typical example: The Phone Call Jill has her checking account with her primary bank. It’s the only account she has there, although she has credit cards, an auto loan, and a mortgage with other institutions. She has three different credit cards, one that she just opened last week to start earning miles. They all have high limits and no balances, making her credit score quite high. But her auto loan is about 3 years old – about the time when people think about trading the car in or refinancing. Jill gets a call from her bank. It’s an account executive at the branch cross selling. He tells Jill that they’re really happy she’s been such a good customer for so long and would like to schedule an appointment for Jill to come into the bank and review her bank relationship. Jill doesn’t really know what that means – but it sounds ominous. She’s never met this “account executive” before; it wasn’t the person she opened her account with. She’s quite busy and declines. Undaunted, the banker continues...