Changing the Landscape

Back when I was beginning my sales career, a senior representative gave me one piece of advice:

“If you want to be successful in sales, get up one hour earlier and stay up one hour later. Use that time to make one extra call each day. It may not seem like a lot, but at the end of the year you’ve made 250 additional calls. Those additional calls will make you successful.”

This approach to sales worked well because of how business was done back in those days. Success was based on how much time you spent on building relationships and selling. Sales and marketing agencies presented merchandising resellers everything they had about manufacturers’ products, and every account received the same materials, more or less.

But the current landscape is far more challenging for sales and marketing professionals. Resellers have unique platforms, user interfaces, and affiliations, and the ability to differentiate between each resellers’ capabilities and relationships is what sets sellers apart. The number of communications channels we use daily has grown exponentially, with customers receiving hundreds and thousands of communications each week. Managing and responding to these communications can be time consuming and overwhelming.

Although building relationships is still a critically important component of sales, there are many more tasks that need to be performed or overseen. Digital marketing has become essential to the process, because consumers want to understand not only what they are buying and how it works, but also how it can benefit their specific needs.

At Midwest Resource Group, we ensure that the communications and digital marketing needs are being met, while still ensuring that we can give attention to the core sales and relationship building needed for successful transactions. We work as a team with administrative and creative experts, which gives the managing partners and territory managers more time to devote to building relationships and selling. Times have changed, but the advice that my first sales mentor gave me still holds some truth. However, to make those extra calls, we need to be able to rely on our administrative and creative marketing teams to make sure that the customers’ other needs are being met.

Persistence

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.

— Albert Einstein

At a meeting of my sales colleagues, one individual shared a story. This individual explained how it took sending the same introductory email requesting a meeting eight times – the exact same correspondance sent to the same person over and over again – before receiving a response.

A meeting was scheduled, but before it took place, my colleague was informed that the person who was supposed to attend the meeting had been assigned to new responsibilities. A new person was taking over that position.

My colleague repeated the process of sending introductory emails requesting a meeting.  The meeting took place as scheduled, but when they sat down to talk, the discussion revealed that the wrong person from the company was sitting at the table. My colleague was directed to contact another individual. For the third time, my colleague began the process of sending the introductory email and requesting a meeting. Finally, my colleague was able to advance beyond the introductory email and went through the steps of ideation, proposal, test marketing, sales test and final placement. It took three years, but my colleague ended up with a sales win. As I listened to my colleague’s story, it reminded me of what I already knew, and you know as well. Persistance and a belief that you can achieve your goal pays off. But it’s always good to hear that it works.

Engage A Personal Productivity Process

“The way to get started is to Quit Talking and Start Doing.” ~ Walt Disney

Every day we are bombarded with top priority tasks. Post-It Notes on our monitors, voicemails, emails and text messages are all demanding our immediate attention. Deadlines are constantly pursuing us, it is so easy to become overwhelmed from the moment we step into the office. As a result, we become frustrated and ultimately lose sight of our goals.

In our fast-paced and highly collaborative business culture many of our goals and projects are dependent on multiple people working together and carrying a specific roll to deliver a project. Each team member is personally accountable for their individual commitments and contributions to ensure goals are being met and projects are being delivered on time and within the vision originally discussed. Staying focused on our projects and goals in a proficient manner can be attainable, we just must know how to stay focused.

There are many ways in which we can personally improve our productivity, thus improving the productivity of our team and forcing goals to be met on time.

Prioritization might be the most important way to begin managing your time successfully. Start to manage your progress day by day, start with focusing on your task lists it will help free your mind of massive amounts of information. The key to productivity improvement is to prioritize only to goal-focused tasks.

Create deadlines and if you are working on a project with a team make sure everyone is fully aware of the scheduled deadline. Having check points to make sure you are all meeting expectations can prove to be helpful if you are working within a team as well. Hold your self and your team members accountable for meeting all of your goals.

Experiment with productivity improvement methods, here are three that are time tested and proven:

80/20 Rule (Also referred to as the Pareto Principle): Get 20 percent of the most important tasks done and that will take care of 80 percent of your productivity worries for the day.

Ivy Lee Method: Before your workday is over spend as little as five minutes preparing a list of tasks for the following day. The next day take care of them one by one, moving on from one task only after the subsequent one is completed. Stop multitasking, doing to many tasks at one often results in an inefficient work day and loss of productivity.  

CRM System: A strong CRM solution develops, improves, retains and stores your customer relationship information and corresponds accurately to the needs of each clients. Ultimately this is a way to stay extremely organized, while having all your information in one spot.

All the systems and tools in the world are worthless, however, if you don’t discipline yourself to follow the process. Stay accountable to yourself and your team and you will eventually see lasting results. When you feel productive it will lead to increased commitment, efficiency and engagement to your job and co-workers.

Social Media for Business

Social media continues to gain momentum in the press and in our personal lives. Our inboxes are full of emails promoting new platforms, changes to existing platforms (such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) and clever ideas to help leverage these as tools for business growth. So, why don’t more businesses take advantage of social media platforms to create more opportunities

These user-friendly “tools” are at our fingertips just waiting to be utilized. If more businesses were to engage in the use of a solid social media strategy and consistently execute on that strategy, surely the door would open to more communication, allowing others to learn more about a given business. And we can borrow ideas from each other and adapt best practices that both inform and entertain the communities we want to engage.

The following are links that show examples of creative and clever ideas that accomplish the goals of engaging and informing:

From Smart-Fab comes a Facebook campaign to demonstrate, through a video and an accompanying lesson plan, how to use Smart-Fab in a classroom. Check them out on Facebook or visit their website.

Tombow USA engages users on Facebook with a video in the Cover Photo.  The video shows, through simulated illustration, how Tombow products are used.  This is a very creative and engaging use of social media. View it here.

If you’d like to learn more, please contact us at Midwest Resource Group.

Content Is King

The Creation and Management of Operational and Rich Content

I wrote this blog, originally in 2014.  While looking at today’s business landscape, I realize how valid and urgent it is to meet reseller and end user demands.  We’ve all heard the phrase, “Content Is King.”

The creation and management of operational and rich content requires strategy, creation and integration to effectively impact sales. Time, creativity, discipline and an understanding of how content is syndicated in the industry is required.

Operational content is either accurate or inaccurate. Managing the correct size, width, depth, etc. of a product(s) requires discipline. As critical as operational content is to selling a product, operational content alone is just the starting point.

Rich content requires a very different investment than operational content. Producing and managing rich-selling copy, images and video requires creative thinking and execution to clearly show the key selling features and benefits of a product or product category. Rich content demands the combination of an effective sales presentation and a creative concept to self-educate the end user.

In the process of creating rich content, we always start with a strategy keeping the end user and reseller(s) in mind. This process may be for a single reseller with specific needs or a broader development for a variety of resellers. We encourage the collaboration between our sales and marketing staff on the development of rich-selling content.

Often we will develop rich content based upon the collaboration of sales goals and objectives for a product or product family. For example, a strategy might be to reduce return rates while increasing customer loyalty via consumer reviews. During a recent presentation, we identified that negative reviews on a product were a result of several end users expressing concern over a product’s tendency to rust. The manufacturer immediately responded that the product has now been now powder coat painted to avoid rusting. Unfortunately the copy, image and lack of video did not adequately explain the product changes since the last review was posted. As a result, we are confident that the manufacturer will be creating a series of infographic images to address the negative comments. The rich content needs to ensure that the end user clearly understands the product application. We can do that by simply answering consumer questions before they are asked.

It is vital for the long-term success of any product in distribution to have robust selling copy, images and video. The integration of the new rich content needs to be carefully executed. Rest assured, our long in-depth industry knowledge is backed by a clear understanding of content syndication. This complex selling process has resulted in significant growth for many of our industry partners.

It is important to proof and verify that the investment made in rich content is executed by the resellers.

We love rich content and the significant impact it will have on increasing sales while reducing operational expenses.

To learn more, feel free to contact Midwest Resource Group and ask for Steven Glass.