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Get Your Content Shared

In the article entitled “20 ideas for content that readers want to share” by Gina Dietrich, she says that it’s not easy to have consistently fresh blog content that people want to read and share. She’s right. That’s why a content development process is essential. You must create content to answer the questions your prospects and clients ask, and that content should be tied to keywords so, when they Google their questions, you pop up in search results.


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However, let’s say you’ve exhausted your list of questions that are asked—and you’re not feeling creative on priority keywords or phrases. How do you handle that? The truth is, when you blog consistently, you begin to see ideas in everything: what you read, TV you watch, even in discussions with your peers, clients or friends. My friends know when my notebook comes out, parts of our dinner conversation are probably going to be published (I always ask permission so there are no surprises).


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Still, every writer experiences writers’ block every now and then. Here are 20 tips to help you through your next dry spell:

1. Subscribe to SmartBrief.

The SmartBrief newsletters aggregate blog content every day (at least 10 articles) around one topic, such as entrepreneurship or social media. Pick a topic that you care about and have fresh ideas delivered to your inbox.


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2. Subscribe to Talkwalker Alerts.

A replacement for Google Alerts, Talkwalker Alerts are even better, provide more relevant results and are free. This will give you plenty of really good story ideas just from scanning those every day.

3. Read the comments.

If you have an active community on your blog or on one a social networks, read the comments. You will get story ideas just from what people say, such as perspectives you hadn’t yet considered.


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4. Pay attention to current events.

There is almost always something happening in the news that you can comment on for your industry.

5. Go through your sent mail.

Go through your sent mail to see what types of things you’ve sent to customers, prospects and vendors that could be used for content. Most communicators write emails to explain a sales process, a feature or benefit or an organization’s thinking. Use those emails to publish non-proprietary information online.

6. Create a trends manifesto.

You’ll find this happening in the blogosphere every year, beginning in October and running through January. Many organizations will publish their thoughts on the trends they expect to hit the industry in the next year or identify three words people will use to drive their success. The trends manifesto provides you with an opportunity to shine as a leader in your industry.

7. Connect to pop culture.

Lots of really successful content creators take current events, like a Royal baby or new Marvel movie, and provide lessons related to their field.

8. Open a debate.

When you disagree with other voices on the web, you might not feel “safe” to voice a differing opinion. However, this can be a missed opportunity. Giving people an opportunity to see two sides of something can work really well when executed carefully.

9. Identify positive progress.

Even though people love good train wrecks, they also want to know how companies in an industry are doing things well. Interview organizations in your industry and highlight the good things they’re doing through your blog content.

10. Take lessons from missteps.

It’s no surprise the bad case studies are shared over and over and over again. When you create your content, think about what you can add to the conversation with specific lessons for your industry or niche?

11. Avoid personal attacks.

If you can figure out how to write about an industry train wreck without attacking a person, it’s going to be pretty popular. It grabs attention and makes people want to read, comment and share.

12. Make a list.

People love lists. So much information coming at consumers these days, and lists make it easier to scan and read quickly. If you integrate lists into your blog content, you’ll find they quickly become some of the most shared posts on your site.

13. Offer free stuff.

People also love giveaways. It might be a book a friend has written, a collection of free eBooks or your own writing. Doing this helps you begin to qualify prospects.

14. Rank a competition.

The organization Run, Walk, Ride puts together a list of the charities that raise the most money every year. They highlight the ones you’d expect, but also show how well some of the up-and-comers are doing. It’s a win because they’re highlighting their peers (and competitors) and driving significant new-customer traffic to their site.

15. Identify and reward superlatives.

Just like People produces its “sexiest man alive” issue, you can do the same for your niche. It might be an app of the month or a productivity tool. Think about what your readers would benefit from knowing more about and start compiling lists of favorites.

16. Review a book.

If there is a classic must-read in your industry, doing something as simple as summing up the key points or penning a review can give you some easily shareable content. As a bonus, you might spark a conversation in the comments.

17. Go on a rant.

Get people riled up about something and give them something to rally behind. Everyone has a pet peeve or two—and you might find others who are ready to join you in your righteous crusade.

18. Interview industry experts.

Interviews work well because you’re giving people access to someone they wouldn’t otherwise meet. It could be the big keynote speaker at your industry’s annual conference, or someone you respect or admire. This can also work for formats other than the written word.

19. Answer a “Question of the Week.”

Let people ask you a question they find interesting. This is a great time to use those social listening skills.

20. Share a parable.

Make sure the story you want to tell makes a clear point.Now get started creating great content!

About The Author

Accelerate Your Sales Today

Christine Beckwith, a veteran who rose from the trenches to become a respected and well-known Executive Mortgage Industry Leader celebrated her 30thyear in the industry this past July. To her own surprise, she jumped into her 5-year business plan early by launching a national coaching and consulting company: 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching. 


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When we asked her about this big move from senior executive sales position at AnnieMac Home Mortgage to become Master Coach and Founder of her own entrepreneurial business, her answer was authentic and classically Buffy (as she is known to her peers). Here’s how she describes her new business and the state of mortgage lending:


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Q: Christine, you have had quite the year; been in the spotlight, visible in many publications, received awards and lots of attention. To what do you credit the year you are having?

CHRISTINE BECKWITH: “It has been quite a year indeed. Well, I published my two books in the start of 2018.  ‘Wise Eyes- See Your Way to Success’, is my life’s work written in personal stories and successful top tips that I believe can change a sales person’s life. I open up about my humble beginning and get real with professionals about what it took for me and what it will take for them to have a winning career in sales. 


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I also wrote, ‘Clear Boundaries- Every Business Woman’s Essential Safety Guide’. This book was co-authored with Jessica Peterson and became a Best Seller overnight. It has taken on a life of its own, for which we are both grateful and astounded. It was written to help women stay safe in any situation from a truly state-of-the-art perspective. The book is focused on helping women position themselves for safety and on how men can help their loved ones stay safe. We hope—no, we already know—it saves lives. 

Clear Boundaries was dedicated to a murdered co-worker who lost her life in a domestic situation on December 30th, 2017. She was the compliance manager at AnnieMac Home Mortgage, so the dedication has an emotional connotation for me. The MBA and Marcia Davies, COO specifically has endorsed Clear Boundaries and the women who attended MBA Annual mPower Empowerment session received a donated copy. We are proud of that. 

I feel blessed this year to have been listed amongst elite men and women in several award publications; especially since these are nominated industry publications. It is gratifying to realize that my colleagues and employees put me there. I have also had the pleasure of writing this year as a feature writer now in many magazines. I give credit to the acclaim I’ve received this year to writing and copiously sharing what I write. I love writing, obviously. Words are powerful, and I believe they change lives.” 


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Q: Tell us what you have seen change most over 30 years?

CHRISTINE BECKWITH:“Every year presents new changes, obstacles, and hurdles to mount and conquer. I’ve enjoyed no breaks in my career since 1988, so I have seen this industry in all phases of growth and recession. Good and bad, some ugly years. That said, I think what has most changed is technology. When I started, we were scrolling carbon copied legal size notes in a typewriter. Today we are digitally uploading documents on an iPhone as the consumer is seated before us. 

Q: What has been the most rewarding thing about working in the Mortgage Industry?

CHRISTINE BECKWITH:“I think teaching others how to manage, how to survive, and more over thrive. How to handle fires in a productive manner, to stay in the pocket of prospecting, and ride their sales highs. How to work a business plan. How to compete. All of it. I am an athlete and competitor. I went to school for sports medicine and nutrition, and I will kill myself to win a contest. That competitive mindset is what I applied my whole career and it has led to substantial wins. 

In the past five years many have seen me as a senior sales leader a few times removed from the trenches. And while true, the reality is that I kept my head in the trenches by keeping up my competitive edge by holding master mind sessions at the Mortgage Loan Originator seat. This kept me fresh and let me see what the originators were seeing. 

And of course, there are plenty of guys in the industry who knew me for two decades when I was directly competing. I won contests where I was up against 200 guys at the top level. I ran districts to the top of national company level—from the bottom. As you might expect, I withstood a lot of bullying verbally and proved repeatedly that I could dish it back out. What I liked best was to beat them with results instead of words. I earned my seat at the table. 

Q: Ok, let’s go in a different direction. What has been the hardest thing in the past 30 years?

CHRISTINE BECKWITH:“What a great question! I will stay true to my authentic self and own this. The honest answer is fighting for respect and judgement based on accomplishments. It was especially challenging to not be diminished because I am a woman playing on a male-dominated field. It was an uphill battle and one I believe is still angled sharply today for women. I am not sure we can completely solve the problem, but I will continue to help women and men do so. 

Assumptions are made when you become a minority senior executive sales leader. People automatically assume I am a feminist, trying to prove something. I’ve never understood why. Why does my accomplishment need a label? I had many men assume I was voting for Hillary Clinton when the Presidential Election was happening. That in and of itself was insulting. Assumptive, inaccurate, but also not surprising. All my career I have had to explain what I did. Two decades ago I showed up in a Chicago district to speak to 125 employees. I stood in the back of the room having let myself in quietly.

A guy also leaning against the wall next to me asked, “Oh, are you that company trainer coming from corporate?” 

I said, “Yeah, something like that.” You would think that when I was introduced as the Senior Vice President of Sales and went to the podium to speak, he might have understood that I was much more than a corporate trainer. I do not believe he even knew that, partnered with another SVP, I ran the company at the senior level, responsible for all of retain sales. 

Repeatedly in my career I have had to defend that I actually was in charge. And sad to say, if I didn’t watch out, there was always some guy I worked with who would rise up, attempt to push me over, or want to diminish my role. To not become jaded, defensive, and bitter is an art in and of itself. It’s been trying and made success even sweeter. The roles I’ve chosen and risen into are not for the thinned skin. When people see me fly my flag high and proud, understand that it’s on purpose, to say proudly, “Yes, I may be a unicorn, but I am what I am.”

Q: Describe what you’ve been doing the past 5 years?

CHRISTINE BECKWITH:“I’ve been forecasting sales, building sales business plans, teaching sales techniques, coaching, holding management meetings, fronting our real estate and realtor facing platform, speaking within the industry, making contributions to the women’s movement in our industry, writing in industry magazines, and building my coaching company that is about to launch. I’ve been raising a son who is now a teenager, keeping a home, exercising, and striving to be a good sister. Daughter, and girlfriend. Most of all I have been feeling like I want to engrave my name in this field and leave a legacy for others. I’ve worked hard to be a shining example for all people, female or male. It is my intent to encourage others to take leaps into their next best selves through carefully made plans and daily focus on drivers that lead to results. 

Q: What has been your advice to loan originators about this past year economy?

CHRISTINE BECKWITH:“Another great question. I wrote an article on this subject that was published in Mortgage Women Magazine and shared by mPower in the MBA News. The article title was “How to Stay in a Solid Sales Seat in 2018—The Game of Musical Mortgage Chairs.” (find on Linkedin) In the article I gave the advice to stay seated unless you were sitting in a sinking boat. The cliff notes version is this: Markets like this make people nervous. 

When things slow, management gets pressure from above. Since I’ve been in their seats, early on this year I, with the other senior sales leaders on our team, knew enough to batten down the hatches and to discuss what the ugly parts of this years’ market would look like. Experience predicted that compressed margins would make people, especially managers. We advised our people against making a jump when other companies wave guarantee monies. That’s most often a short-sighted mistake. We still had casualty, less than most. We did pick up all the swimmers (the good ones) who were bailing out of their sinking ships. 

This market is rough as it has multi-faceted issues, like rising rates, inventory pressures, and compressed margins. We have to widen and deepen the sales funnels. I said it hundreds of times this year, markets like this are a fifth-grade math problem. Johnny sells 10 apples a day for $1. How many apples does he need to sell to make the same money if apples are only worth 50 cents now? Answer: Johnny needs to sell more apples which means work harder for less.

That is math no one wants to face or hear but it’s true. Sales people need to adjust, ebb and flow to match efforts with the market state. Show me a rigid sales guy and I will show you a guy who will not bounce when he hits the wall, it will crumble him to pieces. 

This market is a sign of a slowly strengthening economy. It has problems that can’t be solved overnight and won’t be. We will prevail, but we need to row steady, stay in the boat, and bail any water we are taking on. We need to stick together as a team. We need to keep our eye on the bottom line of our P & L’s and stay lean and mean. And most of all, we need to be willing to make difficult decisions to benefit the whole of the team. 

Q:Where do you think technology is taking the Mortgage Industry?

CHRISTINE BECKWITH:“I think it’s going to take us everywhere. LOL! Mobile, Block Chain (long term), the lead flow arena–all will strengthen when equity begins to return combined with a desire for activity or more volume. MLO’s need to get active to fill the void. We are figuring out the algorithms of this market and as we do, we will see technology help us get where the business is going. 

We talked about this on the Progressive Lending FinTech panel during MBA Annual. Mortgage companies investing in technology need to make a 2-year commitment because sales people adapt slowly. The average age of the MLO is 52. That will change. We are seeing younger originators enter the space again. There was a big lull for a while when the first reactive rigid regulation of licensure for MLO’s came out in 08’, but with the letting out of the belts combined with signs of past years stronger economy, younger originators are emerging. With their thirst for technology they will drive us to greater usage. My mom still doesn’t text, it kills me. I would do anything to send her a text. If I can get my mother to text, I can teach anyone anything on earth. I have made this my greatest goal in life. 

Q:If you could say anything to the mortgage industry for the past 30-year career and to up and coming professionals what would that be?

CHRISTINE BECKWITH:“You ask excellent and topical questions. My best advice? Assume nothing. I would tell them to stay pliable and be prepared to adjust. I would remind them they are an extension of Wall Street, that they sell on a moving platform and as such, what they are selling, how, and to whom, will all change tomorrow. 

Being successful is far less about “selling” than it is about networking and being trusted. Find your tribe of referral partners and offer them value. 

Show up when you say you will, be professional, work hard, don’t take anything less than excellence from leadership, and if you want to have career succession be authentic. People will follow you if you are real. They know the difference. 

Don’t succumb to the wolves. There are many; keep your head down and walk by them. Have Faith that you are making a difference. Believe in you. Be Strong at all times. 

Compete like your life depended on it. Be the game changer, the bar raiser and don’t let words hurt you, especially if directed by lesser individuals who are trying to shake you. You chose a career of survival, be a survivor. Don’t see yourself as a victim, play harder, out smart your competition, just be better. 

Be the best…your best, the highest and best version of yourself you can be. Remember people are watching. If what you are doing can’t be printed on the front of the NYTimes, don’t do it. Finally, remember you are building your legacy every day you’re alive. Build a great one, one your grandchildren will gather their grandchildren around to repeat; the story of their ancestry. We need more of that. Be that. 

Q:Final thoughts?

CHRISTINE BECKWITH:Long after we are gone the homes we close on will be occupied by folks who are sitting around a fireplace or table with a family who is kept, warm, safe, and healthy. Those roofs will weather storms, will create memories from holidays, and raise generations of people to come who will one day be figuring out the economy of a future we can’t even imagine. Let’s take the baton, do whatever we can with it to push the ball forward and hand it off, in great shape with the spirit of entrepreneurs, heart and soul for the next guy in line. 

INDUSTRY PREDICTIONS

Christine Beckwith thinks:

1.) Even with the global economy slowing moderately as we head into 2019, we continue to say goodbye to the effects of the financial crisis & the worst recession since the Great Depression of 1929, the best advice for mortgage professionals is “stay relentlessly focused” on their own personal business and financial wellness. Hone Sales Skills, Refine Business Plans at a laser focus and build your savings, reduce debt and be focused on business growth.

2.) Ignore volatility in stocks, bonds and commodities because these are things you simply cannot control. What you can control are you actions and attitude, which brings me full circle back to staying relentlessly focused. 

3.) Inflation might increase a bit but this should be offset by a more rapidly slowing Asian and European economy, which in essence allows us to import disinflation. So despite a modest slowdown in economic growth the US housing market will remain strong due to a persistent supply and demand imbalance.

INSIDER PROFILE

Christine Beckwith became a 30-year mortgage industry veteran in 2018.  Over 3 decades she has consistently won in mortgage sales originations at all ranks, from the Loan Officer seat and up the ranks all the way to her Regional sales management roles at the top 5% consistently. For the past 18 years she has run mortgage companies at a senior and executive level. During that time, she has continued to win public awards for breaking several glass ceilings.  She would become a sought after public speaker on the mortgage circuit and in January will be speaking on Gary Vaynerchuk bill at his Agent2021 tour, in Miami at the Miami Gardens Stadium.  Christine will also co-host the National Association of Minority Mortgage Bankers Convention in April.   This past year Christine won numerous awards including “Most Elite Women in Mortgage” by MPA, a 3X recipient of this public nominated & culled award.  She also was named “Most Connected Mortgage Professional” by National Mortgage Publications and “Most Powerful women in Banking” by NMP as well.   She was the feature story and cover of Mortgage Womens Magazine for the March/April edition and now is a monthly columnist for that publication.   She has written and released two bestselling books in early 2018 and won the American BookFest award for her Sales book ‘Wise Eyes’ while receiving the “Best Selling” label for ‘Clear Boundaries’ her safety book by ‘Hot New Releases’ & ‘Womens Business’ Book ratings.  On November 1st, Christine fully launched her Coaching company 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching & Consulting into the Mortgage finance and Real Estate world.

Win The Deal

It’s great to close that deal that you’ve been working on, but what happens when you lose the deal? Why does that happen and how can you win the deal more often? In the White Paper entitled “Why Didn’t They Buy?” put together by DiscoverOrg.com, their research concludes “as a data business, we know that solid, accurate, and comprehensive data drives the best decisions, and even seasoned sales professionals can improve their results by diving into the numbers. This objective study explores the multifaceted and complex buyer persona to reveal which sales approaches are effective and which aren’t—all informed by deep insights into human behavior and rationalization.”

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Specifically, this research challenged the reader to put yourself in the position of the experienced buyer who has met with hundreds of salespeople. What percentage of salespeople would you say are excellent, good, average or poor? Overall, study participants rated 12% excellent, 23% good, 38% average, and 27% poor.

Think about those figures: What are the implications of nearly 2/3 of B2B salespeople being considered average or poor? Buyers have been conditioned to be skeptical and not to trust salespeople in general. Therefore many buyers have immense RFPs and laborious spreadsheets that vendors must complete. They require each product feature and operation to be fully documented, and meticulous hands-on evaluation of each product. The goal is risk mitigation: reducing the uncertainty associated with selecting a vendor and making the purchase.

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Buyers go to great lengths to reduce the risk of buying. They may list their needs in documents that are hundreds of pages long; they hire consultants to verify that they are making the right decisions; and they conduct lengthy evaluations to test products, talking to existing users and doing pilot tests—all in an effort to eliminate fear, uncertainty, and risk. The B2B buyer is fixated on risk mitigation—and your reception as a sales professional depends on the department you’re selling to.

Also, whenever a company makes a purchase decision that involves a team of people, self-interest, politics, and group dynamics influence the final decision. Tension, drama, and conflict are normal parts of group dynamics, because purchase decisions are not typically made unanimously.

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One of the most formidable enemies facing salespeople today is no decision. What prevents prospective buyers from making a purchase, even after they have conducted a lengthy evaluation process? Every initiative and its associated expenditure is competing against all the other projects requesting funding.

What is the ability of different departments of a company to push through their purchases and defeat the company’s bureaucratic tendency not to buy? Let’s look at the profiles of the various departments in terms of how they ranked their leadership ability as a predictor of their department’s ability to promote their internal agenda. Here are department responses that strongly agreed with the statement, “I am often a leader in groups.”

Beyond their formal titles and position on organization charts, people take on specific roles when they are part of a selection committee. Some take control of the group and steer the decision toward their preference.

Based on the research results, you might expect Sales, Information Technology, and Engineering to have more internal clout to push through their projects than Marketing or Human Resources. Therefore, they’re better departments to sell into from the salesperson’s perspective. As a president of a company once told me during a win-loss interview, “At the end of the day, a project will or won’t get approved depending upon who is pushing it.”

In most industries, a single company dominates the market. Compared to their competitors, they have a much larger market share, top-of-the-line products, greater marketing budget and reach, and more company caché. For salespeople who have to compete against these industry giants, life can be very intimidating indeed.

However, the study results provide some good news in this regard. Buyers aren’t necessarily fixated on the market leader and are more than willing to select second-tier competitors than one might expect.

In fact, only 33% of participants indicated they prefer the most prestigious, best-known brand with the highest functionality and cost. Conversely, 63% said they would select a fairly well known brand with 85% of the functionality at 80% of the cost. However, only 5% would select a relatively unknown brand with 75% of the functionality at 60% of the cost of the best-known brand.

In some sales situations, it is necessary to align with the buyer’s thought process in order to win; these buyers are experienced and knowledgeable about their business and technical fields. In other situations, the buyer’s thought process must be transformed and gently shaped over the course of the sales cycle. Finally, just as a doctor must sometimes prescribe a painful treatment to heal a patient, in some sales situations you must control prospective buyers in order to help them.

What selling style do prospective buyers prefer? The survey shows 40% of study participants prefer a salesperson who listens, understands, then matches their solution to solve a specific problem. Another 30% prefer a salesperson who earns their trust by making them feel comfortable, like they will take care of the customer’s long-term needs. Another 30% want a salesperson who challenges their thoughts and perceptions, and then prescribes a solution that they may not have known about.

To better understand the impact of human nature on buyers, study participants were asked to recount the last time they experienced significant buyer’s remorse. Buyer’s remorse occurs after the purchase is made when the buyer feels a sense of regret, guilt, or anger, and they second-guess their decision.

Most people mistakenly associate buyer’s remorse with an impulsive purchase, or assume it was caused by the pressure tactics of a salesperson. When each example was laboriously analyzed, a pattern emerged. The source of buyer’s remorse can be categorized into nine different root causes. However, it is the buyer’s action, which actually caused remorse in over 70% of the examples – not the salesperson or the product that was sold.

Within every company, each department has its own “buyers.” For example, Marketing defines product requirements for Engineering; Engineering builds a prototype for Manufacturing; IT provides the systems Manufacturing needs; and Finance provides funds for IT. For the most part, each department’s buyers are internal to the company, both physically and culturally. The Sales department is unique. Sales is focused solely on external buyers who are geographic and cultural outsiders to the organization.

Within many companies, buyer persona profiles are created by Sales Enablement to provide messaging and information on how the salespeople should interact with the various types of prospects they meet. While most of these buyers personas are predicated on the customer being a rational decision maker, in reality, it is human nature that determines how buyers evaluate and who they ultimately select. There is an entirely intangible, human side to the sales process. And it is the mastery of the intuitive human element of the buyer relationship that separates the winner from losers.

About The Author

Talking To Prospects

According to Jill Konrath, in today’s crazy-busy world, the ONLY way to capture and keep your prospects’ attention is to talk with them about what matters to them. Pure and simple. That’s all they care about.

Your prospects have zero tolerance for salespeople who think their job is to share their unique methodologies, great technology or extraordinary service. All that info is available online. If it’s of interest, they’ll find it—on their own time.

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Jill Konrath is a globally recognized sales strategist. She’s an in-demand speaker at sales kick-off meetings and conferences where she shares fresh strategies to help salespeople deal with emerging challenges.

Forrester Research also found executives state that 86% of the salespeople who called on them were NOT prepared to have an intelligent conversation on their initial meetings. Most didn’t get a second chance.

Yet your prospects are thirsty for ideas that can help them do their job better, faster, or more productively. They crave information on how to increase revenue, reduce costs or expand their market presence. They search for insights on how to deal with changes in the business environment. A salesperson that delivers these ideas, insights and information is pure gold.

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Additionally, Forrester Research shows that the first vendor to create a viable vision of the future has a 74% chance of closing the sale. That’s an amazing statistic, but entirely achievable IF you target the right prospects, research their business and talk with them about what matters most. In short, you need to use catalysts and context to lead an intelligent conversation.

According to Wikipedia, a catalyst “speeds up a reaction by lowering the activation energy required for the reaction to proceed.” In sales, a catalyst does the same thing. Suddenly the organization is receptive to new options. The grip of the status quo has been loosened. Money even appears out of thin air. Here’s how to find and leverage these trigger events for maximum impact at your company.

Identify The Catalysts

To get started, analyze your existing clients. Ask yourself:

(1)…What internal factors (inside the company) made your clients finally decide to take action?

(2)…What external factors (outside the company) changed their business environment sufficiently so that the status quo was no longer sufficient?

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Often salespeople discover distinct changes or issues that are behind virtually all decisions. Invariably, these are the most common:

New Leadership: Often, within 3-6 months, new executives are implementing fresh initiatives to drive revenue, reduce costs or increase efficiencies.

Financial Announcements: If business is up, expansion projects take priority. If business is stagnant or down, productivity or cost-saving initiatives jump to the forefront.

Mergers/Acquisitions: Any change in this area causes organizations to re-evaluate all their supplier relationships.

New Strategic Initiatives: When new corporate directives are announced, the entire organization shifts to ensure they’re in alignment.

Legal/Compliance: Changes in government regulations (e.g. Affordable Care Act) cause organizations to take immediate action.

These are only some of the many catalyzing events that can create opportunities for savvy sellers. Others include reorganizations, new product/service announcements, relocations, market expansions, new business deals, or new funding.

If you’re new to this type of thinking, review local or national business publications and ask yourself: “If this happens, how does this impact an organization’s need for what I sell?”

Knowing your catalysts frees you to pursue those companies where you have a higher likelihood of closing an accelerated deal. Plus, you’ll know what to talk to these prospects about since you are deeply immersed in their issues and challenges. It’s the fodder you need to have an intelligent conversation.

Get A Jump Start On Competitors

Here’s the good news. Many of these catalytic events are newsworthy announcements, shared publicly by the company. Or they’re part of required financial reporting.

The easiest way to get your hands on this info is to leverage sales intelligence tools – ones that automatically search for your specific catalysts and deliver them to you on a timely basis. If you sell to a small number of companies or track a finite set of catalyzing events, you can get by with Google Alerts.

But things get pretty complicated when you need a steady stream of new prospects. Or when you’re selling to multiple market segments. Or when a variety of these catalysts can signify a loosening of the status quo.

Sales intelligence apps like InsideView, Lead 411 or DiscoverOrg can totally automate this process for you. They sort through all the junk that’s out there, giving you daily alerts about what’s happening in your territory – on just those catalyzing agents that you want to follow.

Intelligent conversations depend on sale intelligence. Today, it’s imperative to be the first one in the door with fresh insights on how to deal with the emerging priorities and issues.

Planning an intelligent conversation involves combining what you know about the catalyst’s impact with your understanding of the context of prospect’s situation.

From this, you develop a game plan to pique your prospect’s curiosity, showcase your depth of knowledge and build trust that you’re an invaluable resource.

You’ll know you’ve succeeded, if, at the end of your conversation, your prospect says, “Very interesting. We clearly need to look at this in greater depth.”

Let’s go back to where we started. According to Forrester Research, the first vendor to create a viable vision of the future has a 74% chance of closing the sale. That means you need to identify a gap between your prospect’s business goals and their current situation.

When companies are disrupted by catalytic events, a gap naturally emerges. Suddenly the status quo is no longer sufficient. Change is needed.

Salespeople who use sales intelligence apps to notify them when these trigger events occur consistently outperform their peers. They get in early, which gives them the ability to shape the discussion.

When these same salespeople leverage context, they integrate their knowledge of the company, individual people and their digital behavior into the conversation. They know more—which enables them to come up with better ways to help their prospects achieve their specific goals.

Combined, catalysts and context yield intelligent conversations – ones that are focused on helping prospects create a viable vision of what’s possible in their organization. In this article, we’ve just talked about the initial conversation. You’ll need more to close the deal. But you’ll get there faster and with minimal competition. It’s definitely the way to sell today.

About The Author

Convert More Customers

Follow these seven steps to consistently attract and convert more customers by building an automated marketing funnel.

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“Before you do anything else, get really specific on your solution and the audience it’s for,” suggests ELIV8 in the following infographic. “Otherwise, you’re doomed to fail before you even begin.”

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The next step is to choose your traffic source, such as paid ads, SEO, content marketing, social media, email marketing, and local search.

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The third step is to “create a highly specific, irresistible offer that you can give to people in exchange for their contact information,” states Eliv8. “Lead magnets are usually offered on landing pages that are optimized to convert even cold traffic.”

To find out the next steps in about building an automated marketing funnel, check out this infographic:

TLI816-Data

Vendor Launches New Sales And Marketing Automation

Velocify has launched Velocify LoanEngage. The all-in-one mortgage marketing and sales platform is designed to help retail lenders grow their business and close more purchase loans. Velocify LoanEngage brings together automated marketing, lead management and referral partner management features into a single platform, bridging the gap most lenders experience between their marketing and sales efforts, while enhancing visibility, compliance, and productivity in the mortgage process.

“For years, retail mortgage lenders have struggled to create harmony between their sales and marketing activities because they were using disparate systems that couldn’t talk to each other,” said Nick Hedges, president and CEO of Velocify. “Velocify LoanEngage solves this problem by placing each of these critical functions in one place, allowing loan officers to focus on their most precious asset – relationships with referral partners, new borrowers, and existing clients.”

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Due to inefficiencies and lack of coordination between sales and marketing efforts, most retail lenders have trouble converting borrower leads—even leads from their existing client databases. Velocify LoanEngage eliminates this gap by providing automated marketing solutions with lead management, and then integrating both into a lender’s loan origination system. The result is a consistent, transparent marketing and sales process that lets lenders see what is going on with every borrower, loan officer, and referral source, from the pre-application stage through closing and beyond.

“We’ve been waiting for a platform like Velocify LoanEngage for some time. There is nothing in the market like it,” said Jeff Richard, Midwest regional marketing manager with MCS Mortgage Bankers. “With Velocify LoanEngage our loan officers will be able to manage and leverage their most productive referral sources. In addition, the automated marketing materials and new visibility into the sales process will help us ensure compliance, close more loans, and operate with far greater efficiency.”

Velocify LoanEngage builds upon Velocify’s mortgage lead management and auto-dialer capabilities—which enable lenders and mortgage professionals to respond to potential borrowers and stay focused on the highest priority sales opportunities. The platform helps retail mortgage lenders more effectively find and engage more borrowers, manage referral sources, and ultimately close more loans.

About The Author

Building The Best Team

Business can be tough. The mortgage business these days is really tough. So, how do you succeed? One way is by having the right team and motivating that team to perform. In an article that I read recently called “Top 10 Team Building Ideas” by Jon Gordon, he shares his ideas about team building. Here’s what he advises:

1.) If You Really Knew Me. If you really knew me you would know this about me_________. Gordon recently took a leadership team through this exercise and at first they shared very shallow comments like “you would know that I’m very generous and wonderful” with him. But after challenging them to go deeper and sharing something vulnerable about himself they started sharing meaningful stories and feelings that connected the team in a deep and powerful way.

2.) Share a Defining Moment. When a leader and each team member share a defining moment in their life you learn things you never knew before. Immediately you know your team members a whole lot better and feel more connected to them.

3.) The Safe Seat. Gordon recently wrote about how Dabo Swinney, the head coach of the Clemson University Football team, put a “safe seat” in the middle of the team meeting room and had each team member sit on the seat and answer questions about his life. It’s called a safe seat because what is shared in the room stays in the room. This makes it safe for each person to be vulnerable and transparent.

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4.) Hero, Highlight, and Hardship. According to Cori Close, the UCLA women’s basketball coach, sharing hardship is important. With this exercise each person talks about one of their heroes and why they are their hero. Then they share a positive highlight as well as a hardship from their past.

5.) The Hard Hat. As a team, discuss and identify the characteristics of a great team member. What does it mean to be a great team member? Write all the characteristics on the board/wall. Have each person choose the one that resonates most with him or her.

6.) Get on the Bus Together. Rhonda Revelle, the University of Nebraska Softball coach, paired up her team and had each pair present to the rest of the team 1 of the 10 rules of The Energy Bus book in a fun and creative way. Some made a video, others sang a song, some gave a speech, some made a painting, etc. Rhonda said the team took on a whole new life and energy after these teammates brought the rules to life for each other. She said this energy propelled them to the College World Series that year.

7.) One Word. Have each team member choose one word that will help drive them to be their best and bring out the best in others. You may choose a word such as: connect, commit, serve, give, help, care, love, tough, relentless, excellence, selfless, and so on. Each person should choose a word that is the right fit for him or her. Once you choose your words you can make a team poster, sign or image that features all the words of the team.

8.) Fuel up the Tanks. The Brown University Women’s Lacrosse team gave each player a manila envelope with a picture of a bus and their name on it. The envelopes represented their energy bus tanks and were placed on a table in the locker-room. Players were also given index cards where they could write something positive about a teammate and place the card (positive fuel) in their teammates manila envelope (energy bus tank). After practices and games players were encouraged to write positive comments and fill their teammate’s energy bus tanks with positive energy. The exercise created more positive interactions and generated appreciation and encouragement that fueled the team throughout the year.

9.) Leave a Legacy – Have each team member create and share a legacy statement that includes the kind of impact they want to have on their team. How do you want to be remembered? What do you want others to say about you year later? Knowing how you want to be remembered helps you decide how to live today.

10.) 20 Questions – Make up a list of 20 questions. During each team building session pair up with a different team member and ask/answer the questions about each other. This will help you get to know your team members and become more connected.

Now go out and build your team.

Follow these tips and you will be well on your way to creating a power team.

About The Author

Get Every Sale

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TME-MHammondThese days, you can’t afford to miss out on any sales as a technology vendor. Every deal is too important. So, you need to let your content do some of that work for you.

In her article “5 Things B2B Buyers Want Your Content To Do,” Gordana Stok describes how content can help you get more deals. She says that good marketing content should:

  1. Help me to build the business case for change.

“Anything that a company can provide that helps me translate the business case to the decision-makers in my company is a benefit. Any kind of comparison tools that show, not just ROI, but the impact of your solution on my business.” – Senior systems administrator, manufacturing industry, enterprise

More often than not, your solution is competing with other projects for finite resources in the buyer’s organization. B2B buyers need your help convincing senior executives to make your solution a strategic priority. The content you give them, therefore, needs to go beyond demonstrating the ROI of your solution. It has to communicate the ROI of fixing the problem that your solution addresses.

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You can help stakeholders understand the profound impact your solution will have on their business with one of these approaches:

>> Parts-whole relationship: Paint the big picture by explaining how this problem affects a bigger problem or goal on the organization’s radar.

>> Opportunity ROI: Explain how fixing this problem will enable the organization to pursue new opportunities for growing revenue, saving cost, or mitigating risk.

>> Compare and contrast: Simulate what it will be like working in the new environment. Compare and contrast the new business systems, processes, and user experiences with the existing ones.

>> Pros and cons: Weigh the positives and negatives of fixing the problem versus doing nothing. Explain how those attributes might change over time and why.

>> Case study: Provide proof of the value. Share what tangible and intangible benefits and ROI organizations have seen as a result of fixing the problem.

  1. Tell me in 90 words or less why I shouldn’t eliminate your product/service from consideration.

You have a potential customer’s attention for three to seven seconds, and what you say in that time period is pretty important. And so, that’s what I was looking for. Something that in 90 words or less came closest to fitting what I wanted and needed to do.” – Owner and operator, professional services, small business.

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Buyers quickly scan your website to determine if you appear to have a solution that meets their needs. Because they screen a long list of vendors, they look for any reason to eliminate you from consideration and focus on vendors who “get it.” The short-form messages on your home page and product-landing page help convince buyers whether it’s worth their time to take a deeper look at your solution. To get your value proposition under 100 words and ensure it truly resonates with buyers, you need to be absolutely certain that you understand what they’re looking for in the first place.

You can achieve this by interviewing buyers and probing for the following insights:

>> Buying criteria: What are buyers looking for in a solution and vendor? What criteria do they use to compare you to your competitors?

>> Business impact: Why is each criterion important? What impact does it have on their business?

>> Evaluation process: What does the ideal solution look like with respect to each criterion? How do buyers evaluate this among the vendors?

>> Final decision: How do buyers decide which vendor to choose? What is the tipping point or number one thing that sways them?

  1. Give me more in-depth product info so I can determine if I should short-list you for evaluation.

“We wanted more than just the data-sheet stuff that you find on a website. The providers that didn’t make it through didn’t have robust sets of marketing materials that helped us understand what the breadth and the depth of their offerings were and their capabilities as a company.” – CIO, utility industry, enterprise level

“I expected to have more non-marketing related evidence as to why it was a bad idea or a good idea. I hate to use the word empirical, but more specific in nature that wasn’t driven by a marketing group. What is your demonstrated research? What are your demonstrated metrics? What have you done to actually test the assumptions you’re making?” – IT director, manufacturing industry, mid-market.

If your short-form message resonates with B2B buyers, they will spend more time on your website to have an in-depth look at your solution. At this point, they’re trying to determine if you are likely to meet all or most of their buying criteria, and whether to put you on the short list for evaluation. Your Web content, therefore, has to do more than just restate the benefits buyers expect and confirm that you meet their criteria. To be persuasive, your content has to explain how you meet each criterion, why you do it better than your competitors, and how you back up your claims with proof points.

  1. Give me detailed case studies for companies like mine.

“Case studies are useful as long as they have enough detail. A lot of case studies tend to say what the benefits are, but they don’t go into enough detail to tell us whether it’d be applicable to us in our environment or not. Also, we didn’t come across a lot from mid-market companies. There were some from the Bank of Americas and Chevrons, but not much on how you do it with a small team.”  – CIO, retail industry, mid-market.

Convincing B2B buyers that you can successfully solve a problem isn’t enough. They need to get a sense of whether your solution is within their means without having to contact your sales team. Your case studies, therefore, need to go beyond the standard, two-page “about the company,” problem, solution, and benefits format. You need to provide more details so buyers can determine whether they can implement your solution in their specific business and IT environment using the resources available to them.

  1. Help me to sell your solution to our internal stakeholders.

“The vendor we chose helped us market the idea of it, why there was a need for it, selling it to the top tiers of the organization. They put together a message for each group and in some cases for each person. They said this is what’s important to them. This is what you can anticipate the questions being.” – HR director, insurance industry, enterprise level

Consensus-based selling is the new normal in complex B2B-buying decisions, as the book The Challenger Sales: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation points out. The HR director’s quote supports the book’s argument that you need to tailor your message to a wide variety of stakeholders to maximize resonance and get consensus. The authors and researchers recommend doing this on four levels: industry, company, department, and individual. Most organizations, they add, don’t contextualize messages at any level, so this provides marketing with an opportunity to add tremendous value to the sales process.

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Hitting Your Numbers

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TME-MHammondHere’s a typical story for you: Feeling slammed? Let me guess. You’re under intense pressure to meet your monthly numbers. It’s impossible to keep up with all the reports. You’ve got an open territory, your new hire is struggling and all this new technology is overwhelming.

Your customers are changing too. Getting on their calendar is increasingly difficult. They sometimes disappear into black holes for months on end. They’ve upped their expectations, yet seem fixated on the bottom line.

Plus your salespeople keep complaining that it’s virtually impossible to stay on top of it all – and you feel exactly the same way. Trapped in a never-ending cycle of increasing demands and constant change, you wonder if your team even has the capacity to be successful. Or if you do.

I read that story in a white paper entitled “5 Strategies For Leading A Quota-Busting Sales Team” by Jill Konrath. It’s not directly about the mortgage industry, but it sounded spot on to me. Technology vendors are looking to get the attention of lenders that are preoccupied with compliance and other matters. And lenders want to get in front of new borrowers that may not feel all warm and fuzzy about homeownership right now.

So, how do lenders and vendors alike succeed? Here are 5 tips from that white paper that I mentioned:

Turn Problems Into Challenges

Leading a sales team is tough. When the 15th of the month comes around and forecasted orders aren’t rolling in, you have a problem. When new competitors emerge – and you don’t know how to fight them – you have a problem. When your company has a bad 3rd quarter, that’s a problem too.

Your reps face their own personal sales problems as well. Unresponsive prospects, lost orders, service issues, to name a few. And it scares them – just like it scares you.

Unfortunately, whenever the brain sees something as a “problem,” it releases cortisol (a stress hormone) to help you deal with it. While cortisol may help you flee a wooly mammoth, it’s terrible for solving sales issues. Cortisol degrades your memory, shrinks your ability to come up with creative options and makes success feel like it’s out of your control. Not good!

Agile sellers tackle problems differently. They transform them into challenges – something your brain loves. This strategy works especially well if you pose the challenge in the form of questions. For example, you might say, “Closing more deals by the end of the month is going to be a real challenge. We’ve got some bright people on this team. Everyone of us has tackled other issues successfully in the past.”

Also, don’t just ask one question. To stimulate your team’s thinking, look at the challenge from a variety of perspectives.

Turn Failures into VLEs

When you and your sales team are learning new things, failure is virtually guaranteed. It’s a natural part of the learning process. But so many of your salespeople will do whatever they can to avoid it. New sales reps want you to feel like you’ve made a good decision by hiring them, so their standards are perfection – which is clearly unachievable. Some may be afraid to pick up the phone or make calls. They’re also afraid of failing in their new position – which would embarrass them.

Sometimes, your more experienced pros are the worst at dealing with failure. They don’t like the anxiety they experience. They dislike feeling like a rookie again. After one or two unsuccessful attempts at trying something new, they’ll often say: “It’s a dumb idea” or “It’ll never work for our customers.”

To lead a quota-busting sales team, it’s imperative to get your people to think like an agile seller. You want them to stretch and try new things – even if they don’t do well at first. To make that happen, you need to eliminate failure from your vocabulary.

Your reps can never fail! They can only have valuable learning experiences (VLEs). You need to imbue the idea in your sales team that failure is inevitable – and that how they react to it is the most important thing.

Set Getting Better Goals

Since your objective is to lead a quota-busting sales team, clearly you want your people to set big goals – ones that are a real stretch from where they are today. It’s tempting to challenge them to reach 165% of quota or earn 50% more this year.

Unfortunately, doing this often creates unintended negative consequences. Research shows that your salespeople are LESS likely to achieve performance-based goals, especially if they have to learn new things to reach them.

Why’s that? Because a salesperson’s self-worth gets tied up in achieving them. To protect their ego, reps will likely blame everything BUT themselves if they fail to meet their goals. You’ll hear excuses like pricing, lack of product/service capabilities, lousy lead generation or a crappy website.

Instead, what works is to get salespeople focused on “getting better” goals. This is especially important if they need to acquire new skills, master new situations and strengthen their confidence. According to psychologist Don VandeWalle, salespeople with “getting better” goals actually set higher sales targets, worked harder, planned better and achieved significantly more.

If you want to lead a quota-busting sales team, you need to keep your reps focused on improving one step at a time. Have heart-to-heart conversations with each of them. Rather than pushing them to achieve stupendous goals, discuss what they can do in the upcoming quarter.

Increase Digital Perceptivity

It’s highly likely that your sales force is having fewer in-person meetings today than ever before. If you are leading an inside sales team, your reps may conduct all their business via phone and online. Sometimes it’s tough to gauge a person’s interest or decide what to do next when you can’t see how they’re reacting.

Today’s quota-busting sales teams track digital body language to get invaluable insights about their prospects. There are numerous sales tools available today that can give you this kind of visibility. Some of my favorite ones let you know when a prospect has opened your e-mail, from what type of device, and how often. Others add on capabilities that let you know how prospects interacted with attached content such as PDFs or PowerPoint presentations. You can find out if they looked at it, which pages they spent the most time on, if they forwarded to others, and more.

Experiment A Lot

This is my favorite strategy because it encapsulates all previous ones. It’s all about creating a culture of experimentation with your team, with a continual focus on getting better.

Step 1. Identify a specific sales challenge to work on.

Step 2. Research the topic.

Step 3. Analyze your current practices.

Step 4. Decide on the experiment.

Step 5. Establish metrics.

Step 6. Run the sales lab.

I found these tips to be really helpful. I hope they help you as well.

About The Author

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Now Is Not The Time For Negativity

I know that there’ a lot to be worried about these days. Volume is not rising any time soon, but the amount of regulation surely is. So, how do you get the most out of your team to ensure success regardless of market conditions? You have to be a positive communicator. Here are nine tips from best-selling author Jon Gordon:

  1. Shout Praise, Whisper Criticism – This phrase comes from the original Olympic Dream Team and Detroit Pistons coaches Chuck Daily and Brendan Suhr. They won NBA Championships and an Olympic Gold medal with a lot of talent and great communication. They gained the trust of their players and built winning teams by praising in public and constructively criticizing in private. Shouting praise means you recognize someone in front of their peers and whispering criticism means you coach them to get better. Both build better people and teams.
  2. Smile More – When you share a real smile it not only produces more serotonin in your brain but in the brain of the recipient of your smile. Just by smiling at someone you are giving them a dose of serotonin, an anti-depressant. Never underestimate the power of a smile. As a positive communicator you have the power to make someone feel better just by smiling.
  3. Don’t Complain – When you complain you lose power, effectiveness and credibility as a communicator and leader. Most of all complaining is toxic and sabotages you and your team. Complaining is like vomiting. Afterwards you feel better but everyone around you feels sick. I know it’s a gross analogy but you’ll never forget it.
  4. Encourage – Truett Cathy said, “How do you know if a man or woman needs encouragement? If they are breathing.” We all need encouragement and positive communicators encourage and inspire others to do more and become more than they ever thought possible. Great communicators are great encouragers.
  5. Spread Positive Gossip – Instead of sharing negative gossip, be the kind of communicator who spreads positive news about people. My college lacrosse teammates Mike Connelly and Johnny Heil are famous for this. Whenever you talk to them they are always praising our mutual friends. “Did you hear how awesome so and so is doing? Their kids are doing great!” They never say a negative word about anyone. They always spread the positive news and the best part is that you know when you are not around they are likely sharing something positive, not negative about you.
  6. Sometimes You Have to Listen More and Talk Less – Positive communicators don’t just talk. They listen. They ask questions and really listen. Research shows that when people feel like they are seen and heard there is a moistening in the eyes and yet in 90% of our conversations there is no moistening in the eyes. Positive communicators make others feel important by listening to them and truly hearing what they have to say.
  7. Welcome Feedback – Positive communicators also listen to and welcome ideas and suggestions on how they can improve. They don’t fear criticism. They welcome it knowing it makes them better. They send a clear signal to their team, customers, coaches, etc. that they are always willing to learn, improve and grow. Positive communicators say, “I’m open. Make me better. Let’s get better together.”
  8. Celebrate Success – Instead of focusing on what went wrong each day, positive communicators focus on what went right. They celebrate their successes, even the small ones, knowing that small wins lead to big wins.
  9. Give High Fives, Handshakes, Pats on the Back, Fist Bumps and Hugs When Appropriate – Positive communication isn’t just verbal. It’s also physical. Several studies have demonstrated the benefits of physical contact between doctors and patients, teachers and students and professional athletes. For example in one study the best NBA teams were also the touchiest (high fives, pats on the back, hugs). In a world where physical touch has become taboo because of misuse and abuse we must remember that it is a way we humans communicate naturally and is very powerful and beneficial when done appropriately with good intention.

So, get out there and be a good communicator to get the most out of your team.

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