Surviving an email jungle

Every email message you send must hack its way through a jungle of spam filters, strong-arm inbox fatigue and survive your readers’ distractions. Inbox rates – the tally of whether an email reaches its intended inbox – dropped to 76.5 percent globally during the second half of 2011, down from 81 percent during the first half of the year, according to a report from email certification provider Return Path. Even worse, email blocked as spam increased a startling 24 percent during the same period.

Our new ZoomInsights article, “Improving B2B email deliverability,” has some good suggestions. For example, place an even higher value on targeting both the pitch and the list of intended recipients, according to industry experts. It’s a game of quality over quantity these days if you want to maximize open rate, read length and opt-in.

Also, there’s a good chance your target audience is reading your email on a mobile device. It’s the biggest recent sea change in the market, and it’s changing fast. As of September, 38 percent of email was opened on a mobile device, compared to 33 percent on a desktop client and 29 percent for web mail, according to Litmus’ Email Analytics report.

Our article, “Improving B2B email deliverability,” explains these and other issues. Check it out!

Mining your account book for gold

In 15 years of inside sales, Lauren Bailey of Factor 8 has noticed that most reps struggle with their approach to managing their book of accounts. To find great opportunities in your accounts, you must be like a miner sifting through rocks looking for gold. Whether you have 300 or 3,000 leads in your book, chances are only a small percent will be gold, quite a few will be fool’s gold and most will just be rocks. In a new ZoomInsights article, Bailey writes that, unfortunately, most reps fit one of these four miner profiles:

  1. If I don’t see the gold on the surface, I throw away the rock
  2. I’m going to carry around all of the rocks in case one might have gold
  3. I’m going to methodically study each rock one at a time
  4. I don’t really have any strategy and I’m calling my book in alphabetical order (ouch!)

Fortunately, Bailey has some great tips for improving the account book mining process, including doing a quick sort, qualifying quickly and categorizing by potential. Read more in her article, “Mining your account book for gold.

Treat job seekers like customers: It’s good business

Have you ever applied for a position at a company only to never hear back? Or perhaps you get an interview, but weeks pass without any follow-up from the company. We’ve all been there!

Christian Forman, CEO of StartDateLabs, told ZoomInsights, “Job seekers feel poorly about the recruiting process at baseline, regardless of how well companies (treat them) because it’s a process that generates 99 no’s for every one yes.” Despite the inherently frustrating process, recruiters and HR professionals can make small changes to make the ordeal a bit more pleasant – even for candidates who ultimately get rejected.

A new article on ZoomInsights, “Treat job seekers like customers: It’s good business,” provides incentive for keeping applicants happy by explaining the damage disgruntled candidates can do to a business. It also provides valuable advice on procedures and processes that can make all applicants feel as respected as customers.

From 0 to 5,000 qualified prospects in a year

Ryan Patenaude had to build a sales organization from the ground up. When The Focus Group put him in charge of sales for Focus EduVation, the new spin-off had no customers, no prospects and no business! Patenaude needed to get the phone ringing, fast.

Patenaude needed to develop quickly a database of prospects in the publishing arena, where many companies have thousands of employees. He evaluated a number of B2B business information providers, but the options he found were too expensive and too outdated. They also lacked a critical piece of information for prospecting in the modern age: accurate email addresses. As he put it: “Who cold calls or sends direct mail anymore?”

Find out how Patenaude found a data source that met his needs and built a successful sales operation. It’s all in our ZoomInsights article, “From 0 to 5,000 qualified prospects in a year.”

Own the sales cycle

If your days as a sales rep contain too much nerve-wracking uncertainty, unpredictability and unreliability, perhaps you need to “own” your sales cycle.

It’s all about asking the right questions early, developing relationships and maintaining them, even after a sale.

ZoomInsights interviewed two sales experts on the topic of owning the sales cycle. They offered great tips that can help you!

Check out our ZoomInsights article, “You can own the sales cycle.”

Four instant ways to relieve sales pressure

Feeling like you’re in the B2B sales “pressure cooker”? You’re not alone. With the dual demands from both the C-suite and your customers, it’s easy to let the stress build up and hurt your performance.

Michael Lopez, a sales manager at PGi, has been there and offers some suggestions to relieve the pressure in his new article on ZoomInsights, “Four instant ways to relieve sales pressure.”

Michael’s ideas include ways to:

  • Stop wasting sales resources
  • Cut costs without cutting results
  • Improve inside sales output with technology

His article focuses on relying more on insides sales and on tactics to make insides sales as productive as possible. Check it out!

Don’t hide from your customers

Putting up a website without search engine optimization (SEO) is like a shop owner hiding behind the counter when a customer walks in. If customers cant’ find you, they can’t buy from you! Fortunately, the first part of a new two-part article on ZoomInsights, “Don’t hide from your customers (Part one),” explains SEO, its importance and how to do it.

Part one is available now; stay tuned for part two.
In Part one, SEO expert Eric Evans from Merge discusses two of five basic SEO principles:
1. Tracking your success
2. Choosing the best keywords

The first basic principle isn’t just for SEO; it’s for your entire online digital strategy. If you don’t track and analyze your marketing efforts, how can you know if you’re converting users (or leads) into customers? Evans discusses various Web analytics options and makes a recommendation on which to choose.

In keyword research, your first step is to select keywords that fit with your business strategy and align with your company’s services. Evans uses the example of an exotic pet shop to demonstrate how to choose keywords and how to use them in Web pages.

Want to make sure your customers can find your website? Check out “Don’t hide from your customers (Part one).

When a prospect requests a brochure

Sometimes, when a prospect asks you to send a brochure, it’s really not a put-off. Some people prefer to do significant research on their own before they spend time with sales reps. Our friend Jill Konrath, author of the Fresh Sales Strategies Blog, offers three ideas to maximize the opportunity:

• Jolt them out of complacency with the status quo
• Show them what’s possible
• Keep educating them

Read more in the ZoomInsights article, “When a prospect requests a brochure.”

Don’t sink in a sea of metrics

Marketing executives across industries struggle with metrics and analytics for digital marketing programs, according to an article in ClickZ. Author Augustine Fou writes that digital marketing tactics are so new to many marketing executives that they’re unsure what metrics to use.

“What’s great about digital campaigns is that they do allow businesses to track a variety of new metrics. But they are not all created equal and the abundance of data can be overwhelming.” That’s the word from Demandbase CMO Greg Ott, who shared his thoughts for a ZoomInsights article, “How to measure digital campaigns.” Ott also shared five metrics that most business can start with, including overall visits and engagement by industry and company size and conversion rates by industry and company size.

And David Raab of Left Brain DGA pointed out that in a traditional channel like TV, marketers know that gross rating points correlate with revenue. But Raab told ZoomInsights that because digital channels are newer, the best you can do is find the metrics that are closest to the final result of increased revenue – metrics such as conversion rate.

If you’re not sure you’ve chosen the best metrics to monitor in your digital campaign, give our article a look.

It’s not in the budget

How often have you been told, “It’s not in the budget”? That’s probably one of the most common sales objections that people give you. But the fact is, the budget objection is irrelevant!

As sales expert Jill Konrath explains in an article on ZoomInsights, businesses rarely budget for a purchase before they learn what value that purchase will bring to them.

Jill’s article offers an excellent suggestion on what to say when the budget objection comes up. And she writes about how to keep the sale moving forward.

Check it out!