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Posts Tagged ‘sales process’


Web.com Small Business Toolkit: Sandler Training (Sales Training)

April 15th, 2013 ::

Sandler Training

You may be a natural-born salesperson (or have hired one), but everyone can use a refresher course now and then. Sandler Training has been around since 1967 and has grown into an international franchise with 200 locations worldwide, offering sales training in 27 different languages. Rather than a quick fix, Sandler approaches the sales process with reinforcement and constant coaching. From online tools to local training centers, Sandler offers many ways for businesses of all sizes to take advantage of their vast experience. Check out their blog for smart insights about sales and ask about customizable material for your sales staff.

Web.com Small Business Toolkit: TinderBox (Document Management)

April 11th, 2013 ::

TinderBox

Sharing and editing multiple documents online just got easier for you and your employees. With TinderBox users can collaborate on documents and marketing content without losing specific branding details. The tool contains a redlining feature that shows edits and comments; documents are housed in one central location so each department can see what exactly is being used during the sales process. Plus, you’ll get real-time analytics that show which marketing materials were successful (or not) in acquiring customers. Then TinderBox can help streamline the proposal and closing processes with e-signature features and group permissions.

“Buy American” Is Still a Selling Point—If You Know How to Sell It

April 11th, 2013 ::

By Maria Valdez Haubrich

Are you hoping that the “Made in America” label will help your product sell better? Chances are you’re right. A recent Harris Interactive survey found support for buying American products across a wide swath of age groups, both genders and both political parties. However, it’s important to define what “American” means when it comes to a product.

Being made in America is the biggest deciding factor in whether an item is considered American. Three-fourths of respondents say a product has to be made in the U.S. for them to think of it as “American.” Being produced by a U.S. company or being made from parts manufactured in the U.S. was important to about half of consumers; being designed by an American was important to about one-fourth.

What type of people care about buying American? Just about everyone. However:

  • The older people are, the more importance they typically place on buying American. Respondents age 48 and up were most likely to say buying American is important; 18- to 35-year-olds were least likely.
  • Women were more likely than men to believe it’s important to buy American.
  • Republicans and Democrats, however, were equally likely to believe it’s important to buy American, and felt more strongly about it than did Independents.

What types of products are people most likely to want to buy American? Major appliances (75 percent), furniture (74 percent), clothing (72 percent), small appliances (71 percent) and automobiles (70 percent) were the categories for which respondents were most likely to say it was “very important” or “important” to buy American.

What are people trying to accomplish when they buy American? The most important reason for buying American was to “keep jobs in America,” which 66 percent of respondents rated “very important.” Next on the list was “supporting American companies” (cited as “very important” by 56 percent). Safety concerns about products made outside the U.S. were a very important reason for buying American for 49 percent of respondents.

Less important reasons for buying American were:

  • Quality concerns with products assembled/ produced outside of the U.S.
  • Patriotism
  • Human rights issues with products assembled/produced outside of the U.S.
  • Decreasing environmental impact since products don’t need to travel as far. However, even this factor—the lowest on the list–was rated “very important” by 32 percent.

Clearly, buying American is still a priority for many people. If you decide to use this as a selling point, be sure that you:

  • Are honest and accurate about exactly what “Made in America” means in terms of your product.
  • Emphasize the factors that matter to customers, such as keeping jobs in America or supporting U.S. companies, in your marketing.

To fine-tune your marketing message, drill down into more details about specific consumer groups’ opinions at Harris Interactive.

Image by Flickr user donkeyhotey (Creative Commons)

No Same-Day Delivery? No Big Deal, Shoppers Say

March 29th, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

Are you stressing because you know big retailers are increasingly offering same-day delivery, and your small ecommerce site can’t afford to do so? If you’re worried that same-day delivery is a game-changer that will make or break your business, you can breathe a sigh of relief. A new study by the Boston Consulting Group found that customers don’t actually care that much about same-day delivery, despite the emphasis that big ecommerce sites and retailers like Amazon.com and Wal-Mart may put on this service.

The BCG study found that consumers care much more about low prices and free shipping than they do about same-day delivery. Only 9 percent of consumers polled say same-day delivery would improve their online shopping experience. In contrast, 74 percent say free shipping would and 50 percent say lower prices would.

The study notes that lots of dotcom companies touted same-day delivery in the first dotcom boom in the 1990s-2000s, and that the service didn’t prove popular enough to keep those companies afloat.

There is one niche market that could be willing to spend on same-day delivery. Affluent, urban Millennials with incomes of $150,000 or more have shown greater than average interest in this service. If that’s your target market, you may want to consider this option.

However, even so, keep in mind this advice that BCG offers for making same-day delivery work without breaking the bank:

  • Charge additional fees for same-day delivery. The average respondent in the survey was willing to pay $6 for this service; affluent Millennials were willing to pay up to $10.
  • Limit same-day delivery offerings. It’s best to offer same-day shipping only for smaller, lightweight products, like electronics, office supplies or apparel, that can be quickly packed and don’t cost a lot to ship.
  • Focus on high-margin items. Products where you’re making a higher profit make more sense for same-day delivery.
  • Consider your location. If your customers are primarily in upscale, urban areas where delivery is common, such as New York City or Boston, it may make sense to test same-day delivery. If you’re in a rural or suburban area, however, it’s likely not going to be cost-effective.

Keep an eye on what happens with same-day delivery so you don’t get caught behind the eight-ball if the concept takes off—but also keep in mind that currently, BCG found that only 2 percent of online purchases are delivered the same day, meaning demand for this service is far from widespread.

Image by Flickr user Lachlan Hardy (Creative Commons)

Hot Market: Indie Women

March 25th, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

When you think of marketing to women, do you think of moms? Then you’re missing out on a huge and profitable target market of “indie women.” Age 27 and up, these single women are living without partners or kids, and pack a disproportionate amount of spending wallop, as MediaPost reports.

Currently, indie women account for 31 million or about one-third of all U.S. women over 18, and their numbers are increasing: There will be a projected 50 million indie women by 2035. What do you need to know about this powerful market?

Indie women have higher incomes than the average woman and spend $1 trillion each year, including:

  • $22 billion on vehicles (that’s five times more than “indie men” spend)
  • $20 billion on entertainment
  • $50 billion on food

Indie women watch more television than average women and are multi-screen users, meaning they frequently accompany TV-watching with a “second screen” such as the tablet, laptop or smartphone.

Indie woman are highly socially engaged online. They are 6 percent more likely than average women to  rely on online ratings and reviews, 12 percent more likely to report that friends and family routinely ask them for advice on health and nutrition advice, and 10 percent more likely to say they are frequently the first among their friends to purchase from a new brand or store.

Indie women are professional: They hold 59 percent of masters’ degrees and 52 percent of managerial positions.

What should you do to reach indie women?

  • Use social media. These women are key influencers and brand advocates, so engaging with them on social media can drive your success.
  • Treat them with respect. Indie women are successful on their own terms, so make sure your marketing reflects the fact that they’re happy with their lives and making their own decisions.
  • Know where they’re spending. Indie women are more likely to dine out, entertain at home and spend money on home décor and apparel than the average woman, making these potentially lucrative areas for your business to focus on.

NBCUniversal Integrated Media began studying the indie woman because this group does a lot of discretionary spending, but is not yet widely researched in demographic studies, making it an undiscovered marketing opportunity. You can learn more about this demographic by watching NBCUniversal’s Integrated Media group’s film about indie women here.

Image by Flickr user EpSos.de (Creative Commons)

What Do Female Breadwinners Mean for Your Business?

March 22nd, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

Are you trying to target women with your marketing message? Then you’d better be aware of a demographic that’s grown in power since the Great Recession took hold: breadwinning wives.

The Great Recession was dubbed a “mancession” by some due to the large numbers of men who lost their jobs. As a result, more women found themselves the main breadwinners of the family. But an end to the recession hasn’t meant an end to the trend, reports Marketing Daily.  In fact, research by Kristin Smith, a research assistant professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire, shows that the rise of the female breadwinner could be a permanent change.

Smith analyzed earnings data from the U.S. Census Bureau and found that in 2007 (pre-recession), wives with jobs outside the home accounted for 44 percent of total family earnings. Between 2008 to 2009, that percentage climbed to 46–the biggest single-year gain in 23 years. In 2010 and 2011, it was at 47. Overall, from 1988 to 2011, wives’ share of earnings rose by 9 percent while husbands’ share dropped by 9 percent.

Women were more likely to contribute a higher percentage of the paycheck if they were married to men with a lower level of education. For instance, women whose husbands had a high school degree or below contributed 51 percent of total family earnings in 2011. Women whose husbands had a college degree contributed 42 percent.

During the recession (December 2007 – January 2010 in this study), America lost 8.7 million jobs, with most of them in construction, manufacturing and other male-dominated industries. At its peak in October 2009, men’s unemployment reached 11.2 percent while women’s was 8.7 percent.

Smith believes that the trend toward female breadwinners will not only continue, but strengthen even as the economy improves. Why? She believes families will still need to make up for lost time and restore diminished retirement accounts and savings. As a result, more women will stay in the work force. Smith’s report did not take into account emotional factors like fears and worry sparked by the recession; if you consider those factors, the staying power of the female breadwinner seems even more ensured.

What does this trend mean to you?

  • If your product or service has traditionally been marketed to the “head of the household” or breadwinner, keep in mind that role may have changed. You may need to tailor your message to suit women or both men and women.
  • Since women typically earn less than men even in the same jobs, female-breadwinner households will have tighter budgets. Reach out to them with marketing messages about value, savings and smart shopping.
  • If both spouses are working, time will be at a premium, so one way you can justify higher prices is by focusing on how your product or service saves precious time that can be better spent on more important things, like relaxation or family.

Image by Flickr user DonkeyHotey (Creative Commons)

How Can You Get Affluent Consumers to Spend?

March 20th, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

Unity Marketing’s latest Luxury Consumption Index, which measures the spending plans of affluent Americans, shows that after a surge of optimism in October leading up to the November 2012 election, wealthy consumers are getting cautious again. The LCI lost 19.4 points in January–its second biggest loss since the first quarter of 2008.

The LCI measures the optimism that affluent consumers feel about the state of the economy in general as well as their personal financial situation. Affluent consumers are defined as the top 20 percent of U.S. households based upon income; this demographic accounts for more than 40 percent of all consumer spending, so their plans are crucial to business growth.

“Affluent consumers are starting 2013 with a dismal view of the overall economy and their personal financial situation,” says Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing. Here’s a closer look:

  • Skeptical About Economy: Before the election, 37 percent of affluents felt the U.S. economy was improving, but in January, just 29 percent did. Although this is still higher than the 25 percent average throughout 2012, it’s not exactly a vote of confidence in the nation’s future.
  • Pulling in the Purse Strings: More than one-quarter (28 percent) of affluents say their spending on luxury will decline over the next 12 months; in October, just 18 percent said they planned to cut back.
  • Personally Pessimistic: The largest share of affluents since the recession believe they will be worse off financially 12 months from now. “Typically affluents are an optimistic bunch,” Danziger says. “However, in the latest survey nearly one-fourth (22 percent) predict that they will be worse off in the next 12 months as compared to today.” This is the highest this measure has been since the depths of the recession in 2008.

What does the poor outlook mean for your business? Tom Bodenberg, Unity Marketing’s chief consumer economist, offers this advice: Reposition luxury goods as a value proposition.

“That means to keep the luxury image and connotations (advertising creative, packaging, media and service), but communicate (in a very implied, almost one-to-one way) affordable pricing,” he explains.

Your goal, Bodenberg says, should be an “almost subliminal” positioning of value. “The current cultural climate can’t support showy displays of luxury,” Bodenberg warns. Affluents still want brands that offer quality and value, but they don’t want to trumpet the luxury factor—instead, they want to feel that they’re making smart buying decisions.

Image by Flickr user (Creative Commons)

 

America’s Stressed Out. Here’s How You Can Help (and Profit)

March 18th, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

When you think of “stressed-out” consumers, do you picture a frazzled CEO rushing from meeting to meeting while answering emails on one smartphone and holding a conversation on another? Well, you might need to refresh your visual to include a stressed-out teenager. That’s right: According to a new study from the American Psychological Association (APA), younger people are more likely than older ones to report high stress levels.

The study, Stress in America, found that while Americans of all ages report higher stress than they think is good for them, Millennials (ages 18 to 33) and Gen Xers (ages 34 to 47) reported the highest average stress levels.

On a 10-point scale where 1 is “little or no stress” and 10 is “a great deal of stress,” both Millennials and Gen Xers report an average stress level of 5.4. That’s much higher than Boomers’ (age 48 to 66) average stress level of 4.7 and Matures’ (age 67-plus) average stress level of 3.7.

Of course, you can’t avoid stress entirely, so the study asked respondents how much stress they felt was healthy, then measured the difference between what they saw as “healthy stress” and what they actually experienced. Younger generations had a bigger gap: The difference between Millennials’ stress levels and their perception of healthy stress was 1.4 points, compared with 1.6 points for Gen X, 1.3 points for Bommers and 0.7 points for Matures.

Stress is on the rise for everyone: Thirty-nine percent of Millennials say their stress has increased in the last year, as do 36 percent of Gen Xers, 33 percent of Boomers and 29 percent of Matures. But what’s stressing us out differs from generation to generation. Not surprisingly, work, money and job stability are the biggest sources of stress for Millennials and Gen Xers, while health issues affecting themselves and family members are the biggest stressors for Boomers and Matures.

In the past five years, a majority of all age groups have tried to reduce their stress, but while Boomers and Matures are succeeding fairly well at doing this, 25 percent of Millennials and Gen Xers admit they are falling short. They’re also more likely to use unhealthy behaviors, such as drinking, smoking or overeating, to manage stress. Interestingly for businesses, 19 percent of Millennials and 13 percent of Gen X said they shop to manage stress.

What does this trend mean to you?

  • A marketing message emphasizing how your product or service can lessen stress, help manage stress, or be a well-deserved reward for a stressful day will resonate with all age groups.
  • However, be aware of the different types of stress affecting different age groups. Work-related stress is a hot button for younger consumers, while health and wellness are trigger issues for older ones.
  • Make sure your customer service creates less, not more, stress for your clients. If buying from you is easy and pleasant, they’ll come back again and again.

Image by Flickr user BLW Photography  (Creative Commons)

How to Reach Niche Markets on Social Media

March 15th, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

If your small business is targeting niche markets such as specific minority groups, age groups or other demographics, it’s important to know what social media tools these individuals are likely to use. New research from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project examined what social media networks are most popular with different user groups. Here’s what they found:

Overall, social media use is widespread. More than two-thirds (67 percent) of all Internet users use at least one social networking site. Those 18-29 are the most likely of any age group to do so (83 percent), but even among the 65-and-up age group, nearly one-third (32 percent) use social media. Women are more likely than men to use social media, and urban residents are more likely than rural Internet users to do so.

What sites are most popular? Pew took a look not only at the “biggies,” but also at some up-and-comers.

Facebook users

Facebook is still the most popular social networking platform, with two-thirds of online adults on the site.  Women are more likely than men to be Facebook users (72 percent vs. 62 percent), and the 18-29 age group is most likely to use it (86 percent).

Twitter users

Twitter is showing steady growth, with the percentage of Internet users who use this social media site doubling since November 2010, to 16 percent. People under 50, and especially those 18-29, are more likely to use Twitter. Urban residents are more likely than both suburban and rural residents to use Twitter. African-Americans are the most frequent users of Twitter, with 26 percent reporting they use it, compared to 14 percent of white Internet users and 19 percent of Hispanics.

Pinterest users

Overall, 15 percent of Internet users use Pinterest, but this site is especially  popular with the youngest cohort (18 to 29), those with higher educational attainment, and upper income consumers. Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of Internet users with household incomes between $50,000 and $74,999 use Pinterest; so do 18 percent of people with incomes of $75,000 or above. Women are five times as likely to use Pinterest as men (25 percent vs. 5 percent).

Instagram users

Photo-sharing site Instagram is popular with 13 percent of Internet users overall. Women and younger users (under 50) are the most likely to use it; so are urban dwellers, African-Americans and Hispanics.

Tumblr users

While Tumblr is still the least popular social networking site users were asked about—used by just 6 percent of Internet users—keep in mind that just a few years ago, Twitter had similar numbers. In addition, Tumblr is far more popular among younger users, with 13 percent of 18-to-29-year olds blogging on the site. However, Instagram, which offers similar photo-oriented functionality, has become twice as popular overall in a shorter period of time.

What do these stats mean for your business?

  • If you’re targeting younger customers, you definitely need to be on social media—and you need to be checking out the newest up-and-coming sites. Whether that’s Instagram, Tumblr or something even newer, take the time to explore it and see if your target customers are there.
  • No matter who you’re targeting, you probably need to be on Facebook. With even the 65-plus-crowd hanging out here, Facebook is a smart marketing tool for just about every consumer-oriented small business.
  • Trying to reach women or high-income customers? Get familiar with Pinterest, since a high proportion of those customers spend time there.

Image by Flickr user eldh (Creative Commons)

What You Must Know About Marketing to Baby Boomers

March 13th, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

As they enter their senior years, Baby Boomers are still one of the most powerful consumer demographics in the U.S. What do you need to know to target Boomers today? MediaPost recently spotlighted some research from Navigate Boomer Media on what Boomers are doing, buying and interested in. Here’s where the opportunities are:

Online Marketing

If you’re only marketing to Boomers in the newspaper or print media, you’re missing the boat. You might be surprised to learn that the average Boomer spends more time online than the average teenager (15 hours per week vs. 13 hours). Put your money into online advertising to reach this market.

Transition Time

Baby Boomers are currently experiencing huge life transitions as they enter their 50s and 60s. If you want to capture their emotions during these times, Navigate Boomer Media advises your marketing should include one or more of these three messages:

  1. We understand you.
  2. We make your life easier.
  3. We make your life better.

Wealth Transfer

Baby Boomers will be inheriting money from their parents and will spend it on luxuries including physical rejuvenation and health-related costs such as home gyms, trainers and spa visits; luxury travel; luxury cars (including Porsche, Mercedes and Corvette) and second homes.

Empty Nesters

As their children move out, Boomers will take advantage of the empty nest to pursue their passions, including traveling, pursuing education and volunteer opportunities, starting a business, and remodeling or redecorating the home, often including a home office. Many will also turn to pets (especially dogs) for companionship.

Boomers as Caregivers

With their parents living longer, many Boomers will find themselves in the unusual situation of caring for aging parents long past the time when prior generations were doing so. This creates opportunities for businesses that provide them with support, time off, or pampering to rejuvenate them to face the challenges of caregiving.

Divorce Means Change

For Boomers whose transition includes divorce, demands will include products and services to help them downsize their households and adapt to single life. Sales of condominiums and active adult communities will grow. Wealth management services will be in demand. Travel is popular with this group, with “girlfriend getaways” a hot commodity.

The Grandparent Life

Many Boomers are grandparents, and they’re ready to spend on travel with the grandkids (adventure or education-themed trips and cruises are popular). They also buy books and toys for their grandkids and start savings or college accounts for them.

Menopause and More

Menopausal Boomer women will seek products and services to help them learn about menopause, be comfortable and continue an active lifestyle. Information and education about menopause and solutions for its challenges will be a hot commodity.

How can your business market to Baby Boomers?

Image by Flickr user dannybirchall (Creative Commons)