Saturday, April 5, 2014

SMB's Biggest Threat is also the ACE UP YOUR SLEEVE!

"We close 85% of our deals
without ever seeing the whites of our prospects' eyes!"

If you're an executive or owner of a small-to-mid sized business then I invite you to
watch my real-life, 5-minute story to help put this article into perspective.
After, email me. I'll give you the Coles Notes Version of
building a
'Sales Tuner Dial'
for your own business.
You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it.


We FIX the following scenario ...

Regardless of the make up of your sales team - whether you have a bench full of journeymen telesales or seasoned executive-level closers - selling today, in our Post Television Age, is increasingly missing the mark for an increasing number of small-to-mid sized businesses (SMBs). Many SMBs are having their lunch eaten by entities and forces they aren't even aware of, or, conversely, they're onto this stealth digital sales intelligence movement and are looking to inflict even more pain to their competitors in the markets they serve. Which one are you?

If you're wondering, right now, if you're the one on the losing end of this equation, then "yes", it's likely you! The good news is you're not alone in having to figure this out. You're right here, right now, in the right spot and it's not too late -- as long as you listen very carefully.

QUESTION: HOW and WHY are my sales investments not producing reliable predictable sales results? 

There are TWO VERY IMPORTANT reasons.

FIRST OF ALL, in the simplest of terms, the  power has shifted. Thanks to the internet, your BUYERS have taken control of the sales process. Specifically, like no other time in history (and increasingly) your prospects are now shopping without you. Your decision makers and their buying teams are less likely to
  • be at a desk,
  • work in an office,
  • take an unsolicited cold call, or
  • have the time to talk with a complete stranger.
In addition, they're more likely to be screening their calls and only giving out their cell numbers to those 'with a need to know'. Moreover, they're no longer working a typical 8-5 work day. While they're feeling increasingly bombarded by information and overworked with professional demands (and family duties), they're also feeling increasingly empowered. And that's why the typical SMB is losing and why the A-typical SMB is repeatedly stealing their competition's lunch.

I'll give you an example. At the precise moment that your paying customers realize they have a need for what it is that you have to offer, they're no longer turning to the yellow pages, finding a vendor, calling them, and asking for a sales representative to 'call them back' and educate them on what they really need. Ahh, the good old days.

Instead, today, your paying customers and their buying committees are inevitably turning to the internet. Even if they tap into their professional network of business colleagues for ideas and pointers, inevitably they, and their buying committees, are going online to learn a little more and do a little of their own research and due diligence. At the very least, they don't want to look dumb in front of their work friends and colleagues so they want a quick refresher on the current terminology and best practices.

And that's where it all falls apart for most SMBs. They never get the chance to compete because they never get heard because their competition shuts them out! Smart executives are owning their industry internet airwaves and are digitally 'moving in on' their buyers' virtual world well in advance of their competition and feeding them compelling intelligence all along the way - they start with the pole position and they maintain that position right through to the ultimate phone call and signature. Now that's smart selling. As an executive told me recently

"We close 85% of our deals
without ever seeing the whites of our prospects' eyes!"

Your prospects and buyers are chatting with their work friends about their online findings. They're sharing their internet findings, "digital intelligence", back and forth over a new 'virtual' water cooler. The space-time-work continuum has changed forever. Buyers and prospects are forwarding YouTube links, industry articles, testimonials, emails, executive (video) interviews, best practices, analyst recommendations, white papers, blog posts, twitter bios, LinkedIn profiles, and on and on.

In a nutshell, your paying customers are turning on the internet, and collectively "thinning the herd" and, after they're 85% of the way through their buying process, inviting the TOP two-to-three vendors to compete for their business.

So, how many deals did you NOT compete in last year?

Let's have a look at reason #2.

The second reason that your sales investments are not producing reliable predictable sales results is that your competitors MAY HAVE figured things out. They may have beaten you to the punch!

I don't want to be an alarmist here but IF THIS is indeed the case, THEN depending how far ahead they are and how strong a team they have, without taking immediate AND proper action, you could be on your way to being, slowly-but-surely, driven out of business. At the very least, their success is not helping the value of your business and you seriously ought to think about a strategic sales and marketing counter-attack.

Specifically, your competition is most likely making strides on how to create sales-focused, digital content assets that automatically 'crawl the web' to find and engage their (YOUR) unknown prospects (or your installed base) in order to feature their company, products, and executive which ends up making them look cool, responsive, progressive, and full of thought-leadership. And these same digital assets digitally support their selling teams -- with compelling, preparatory, 'aim-and-fire' digital online content and associated marketing-tech. I call this 'cupid selling' in that your inside sales and telemarketing representatives now have the wherewithal to overtly or covertly send out 'love' arrows to prospects that effectively help these buyers fall in love with a company based on buy-cycle event tracking and appropriately-timed messaging and thought leadership themes.

Now realistically, most likely, these sorts of things aren't your core capabilities. So, you don't likely have a full handle on what you need or how to pull it all off. But, it's not all doom and gloom.

The good news is that you're here. In short, we fix the above scenario for our customers. Our customers can do the selling. We can help. The FIRST STEP is with you. Reach out to me. High-level. Tell me your scenario. I can help us 'cut-to-the-chase', executive-to-executive, in 12 minutes or less and we can take it from there.

It's your move! Email me now. My personal email address ... like my cell # ... superchap at gmail.

About Chapman & Associates

Our customers buy from us because we help them address the above modern-day selling scenarios. They keep buying from us because we keep them at the forefront of their appropriate internet-enabled channels and airwaves by coming up with strategy and producing compelling, current, digitally-purposed content and targeted delivery at exactly the right time. Our customers trust us because we stay on top and make sense of the latest sales and marketing-tech so they don't have to and we've done this before including growing a company to a $20M/yr business which was sold to a VC firm. Finally, we provide our service at a fixed monthly price geared to an SMB market.

Email us and learn how to put our experienced, award-winning, sales and business executives and proven marketing entrepreneurs to work for you. Put the ace up your sleeve and turn the tables!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

GAMIFICATION of B2B Lead Generation [Infographic]

HOW and WHY Online B2B Lead Generation Works
[HINT: NEVER Send Fresh Prospects Straight to YOUR Homepage]

[click on infographic to expand]

This is about the MECHANICS OF INFLUENCE in a Post Television Age. You probably don't know this, but you're slowly-but-surely being out-marketed and outsold by a new breed of smarter sales and marketing geniuses. These geniuses - geniuses that your most formidable competitors are relying on - are using the internet, compelling videos, thought-leadership, and surf-behavior-science to introduce NEW paying customers to small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) - just like yours - to instantly and compellingly engage these NEW buyers in a way that's meaningful to them - that's designed, tested, and proven to take an individual NEW prospect by the hand - virtually - to gently and effectively persuade and sell them.

Right from the opening act, with the help of a single voluntary click or two, these sales and marketing geniuses are assessing buyer 'readiness', putting these NEW prospects precisely in the sales queue, and with a perfect rhythm and cadence, orchestrating a perfectly-timed, perfectly-sequenced stage play that keeps these NEW buyers on the edge of their seats right up to the final act. AND for that grand finale, in comes the seasoned SMB closer with a guest performance by the CEO himself for another (repeat) crowd-pleasing performance. In essence, these new online selling 'behavioralists' are creatively 'warming up' prospects BEFORE any phone calls are ever made. And the sales guys are LOVING it!

Unfortunately, you don't have this capability and you're slowly (but surely) paying the price! You don't have this capability because sales and marketing generalists are simply no longer cutting it in this line of work. Increasingly, your prospects and existing customers are increasing turning to their tablets and smart phones and touch-screen computers to consume their information. If you're out-of-site, you're out-of-mind. And, if you're not sure if that's you and your team, then it's you and your team. Success today requires multiple specialists when it comes to closing NEW business and protecting your turf.

But, you don't have time or money to waste on 'flaming logos' and internet experiments. And, as a result, you're slowly being driven out of business - you're losing your competitiveness - to entities and forces you aren't even aware of.

The slick and the savvy business owners and executives have partnered with the computer geeks, gamers, and nerds and, together, they're now partnering with CEOs to increase awareness, attract attention, and generate (timely) interest that keeps funnels full and sales teams happy. {Do you have a partner that's helping you with this and if so, how is that working out for you?}

AND This is why EVERY SMB CEO needs to make ONLINE SALES PROSPECTING the #1 TOP BUSINESS PRIORITY. You either figure this out, right away, as a top priority and become the hunter or continue to ignore it and remain the hunted - in someone else's cross-hairs. It's entirely your choice to make. I'm here to help you get there.

And, yes, it does work in B2B. And, yes, done right it WILL be your most cost-effective way to advertise and find new prospects and launch new products. BUT, Online Sales PROSPECTING has to be done right. There's an art and a science to it.

Most people and most marketing departments espouse the WONDERS of these concepts but they simply can't make it happen. 87% of these projects fail. Here's why. It's not a marketing project. It's a sales project. It has to be orchestrated accordingly. You need to start with a single focus on sales using the 'give-to-get' principle. There are several moving parts. They all have to come together to work together. And it has to be simple. And that's why you need experienced geniuses to do it.

Let's delve into this a little more so that you can see all that's involved and why one or two people on your marketing team aren't very likely to pull this off. Some people are great at 'getting noticed' and making first impressions. Others are great at technology and the internet. Some are math wizards and spreadsheet superstars and statistic phenoms. And still others are great at relationship-building, selling, and negotiating. Newsflash. You need all of this to get this done right. Simply put, all the required skill sets don't live in the same body. It's a blend of right and left-brained thinking. You have to marry them all together.

So, how can you do that if you don't have the time to waste or money to experiment? Simple. You have to reach out and listen to some experts give you some high-level on it. Start with someone who can spearhead it all. Sit yourself down in front of your computer. And I'll get us started in 15 minutes.

I'll lead you. I'll get you the right expert team of sophisticated new sales and marketing snipers that can put a modern-day spin on your prospecting that will fill your funnel with new prospects. Think of it as modern-day door-knocking and cold-calling except that it's now done virtually, automatically, online, around-the-clock, anywhere and everywhere, always making that perfect first impression. And, I'll orchestrate it all. Start-to-finish. Soup-to-nuts. Let me put this to work for you and your business and you will multiply revenues and make more money than you thought possible. Simple. In fact, I'll guarantee it!

Email me with your availability and we'll block off a 15-minute introductory call in the privacy of your own office - I won't actually come to your office. I'll just send you a link and we'll meet virtually. Easy. For 15 minutes. That's the first easy step. So, email me now. Let's talk today. I even have a $30 Amazon Gift Card waiting for you. All you have to do is email me - now.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

3-Prong Approach to Smooth Selling for Sustainable Business Growth

Are you an executive of a small-to-medium sized business (SMB) in the B2B space? Are you looking to smooth out and accelerate your top line revenues? Would life be better with a reliable, predictable, business-growth engine?

If so, some of the key questions become ...
  1. How can I bring in more new business and generate more business from existing customers?
  2. Do I have the right sales organization to professionally close leads as well as the right blend of traditional and digital-age marketing skill sets to fuel the right leads?
  3. How do I find the time to get the answers when my calendar and day-to-day responsibilities have me fully stretched?
In order to grow your business you need ...
  • A professional sales team you can trust to deliver the activities to close business
  • Effective cross-channel marketing to increase your sales pipeline
  • Money to support these efforts

Enter OverQuota, the full-service provider of Enterprise-Class Sales & Marketing designed by sales veterans, business executives, and stealth, cross-channel marketers and geared specifically for the SMB budget so they can act, look, and compete like the Fortune 500.

One Simple Question.

We asked a group of seasoned sales veterans and business executives one simple question.
"Given your experience and what you know today, if you were kick-starting an SMB, what systems and processes would you devise and deploy to give you the maximum chance for both immediate and long-term sustainable, repeatable sales success to produce predictable, profitable sales results that supported and sustained business growth?"
This is what they came up with.
Introducing ...

The 1Day/30Day/90Day SMB Sales & Marketing Program

It's available NOW and comes with a simple,
performance-backed, written guarantee.

Why so confident?

First of all, marketing and demand generation companies are primarily owned and operated by marketing people. Not here. OverQuota is owned by professional experienced sales veterans and operates in conjunction with business executives and SMB owners. We've worked for big technology companies - Lotus, Xerox, IBM, Oracle, CA - as well as entrepreneurial start-ups. During our careers, we've sold $10s of millions of dollars worth of B2B offerings.

We know what it takes to run businesses. We know how to sell. We 'get it'. We know it's about revenues and hitting ongoing sales targets, quarter-by-quarter, with consistency. We understand that reporting that a campaign delivered a 20% increase in web site traffic isn't precisely what we're interested in hearing or need to know. That's marketing speak. Above all else, did it result in revenue? How much? And can we ramp that up? Because it's all about 'closed' and reference able business - plain and simple.

We're so confident that our program works because we designed from the outset to satisfy our needs as an SMB so that we would be able to, in turn, offer it as a turnkey package at a fixed-price monthly offering for our paying customers. What would we want and how could we put it together so that we could offer it to other SMBs with the same need to reliably grow business?

To learn more and to see how we can apply the program to your business, send me an email and we'll explore which of the two options below make the most sense for you in terms of moving forward.
  1. Book an initial one-on-one conference call to tell us more about your business, or
  2. Join us for a 15-minute coffee-break-sized webinar where we'll show you how and why this program works.
Bonus: As a sign of respect for your busy calendar, we'll even send you a $30 Amazon Gift Card as a small token of executive appreciation.

OverQuota - smooth out and ramp up your sales for better overall business results.

Monday, March 31, 2014

You're being driven out of business! Fight back.

Make no mistake. You are slowly-but-surely being driven out of business by entities and forces you aren't even aware of. This short post is on the impact that big players, Big Data, and business intelligence is having on the unsuspecting SMB.

Background: In 1997, I was working for IBM as a Sales Specialist in the field of "Business Intelligence". I was essentially selling extremely advanced data mining software solutions. What exactly is that? Heuristic software programs invented by big brains that would automatically sift through reams of data and come up with both correlated and then cause-and-effect conclusions that simply couldn't be picked up by humans. Simply put this was very expensive software created and run by very expensive people [$400/hr plus travel and living] a la big-brained statisticians, computer engineers, and mathematics Ph.Ds.

IBM sold this software and these people to large Bank/Finance/Insurance companies, Governments (especially ones with a large military industrial complexes, for example) and Telcos. It was and remains a killer-advantage for the select few. Mind-blowing and mind-numbing all at the same time.

A lot has happened since then, not all good, most notably an explosion of online transactional and behavioral activity including, for a select few, the capturing and mining of this now unimaginable amount of data. This trend continues today with the move to what is sometimes heard in the media as "Big Data". Let me ask you. How are you making out there?

The quoted post below captures one woman's take on the matter when it comes to SMBs and their need to compete, fend-off, and fight back.

Elaine OssipovAn average american woman. Suggest Bio
Analytics for the Small Business Market
I have spent the last several months trying various software for comprehensive analytics for small business owners.

There are many tools out there which will yield wonderful analytics, but there are None out there which can/will provide these much needed tools at a rate a small business owner can afford. The {SMB} Cottage industry has no chance to even come close to affording what is on the market.

According to this report by intuit 

There are 27+ Million Small Businesses in the US.
Between 60% & 80% of all new jobs created in our country can be attributed to Small Business.

I personally believe the rate of failure within the first five years of a small business could be diminished significantly if these tools were available to them along with the training they need to understand them and put them to use. I realize what I am asking here is for the "WalMart of Analytics". But this is a market that is wide open.

If you are an SMB executive or business owner and you're feeling threatened by the notion that even the largest players are still after growth and that their growth requirements may, by comparison, make yours look a little underwhelming, then your grasp on strategic thinking related to the reality of "stealth" competitive threats is worthy of note. Good for you. After reading my conclusion below, please feel free to reach out and discuss further how to put information to work for your own economic health and well-being.


When larger players decide to pursuit growth there are basically two approaches - acquire smaller players or simply move in and make the smaller players go away (kill them over time). So, on the one hand, the acquisition strategy by your bigger national competitor may be a good thing for you as a regional SMB business owner (or equity stakeholder executive). Simply, bigger national companies buying smaller regional players could be a great thing for your personal exit strategy. Conversely, and what is devastating for such an exit strategy, is larger national entities getting their heads around and then their hands on - there are ways to buy this stuff - relevant data and then turning that data into information, in real-time business intelligence terms, in order to turn knowledge into action in order to move in and crush the smaller players and effectively, over time, watch those once-thriving owners and executives wither away.

If you're interested in speaking further to discuss your business intelligence strategy, I'd be happy to take your call.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Let's Make a Deal! You Sell Me and I'll Sell You!


(Of course there is. It's a game-show theme!)

For those of you who don't recognize this fella, this is Monty Hall. And Monty is from Winnipeg Canada which is my 'neck of the woods'. He's also TV folklore as the original host of the TV game show "Let's Make a Deal". So, in the spirit of Monty Hall, "Let's Make A Deal".

You're a busy SMB executive or business owner

- AND -
1) You have a new product line that you want to introduce to the market and/or a new market that you want to introduce yourself into.
- AND/OR -
2) You're missing some key sales and/or marketing ingredients and you're struggling with under-performing sales and sluggish growth.

Whatever the case, simply put, your sales aren't where you think they ought to be, where you need them to be, where you believe they can be and, as a result ...

Your overall business results are either
at risk or
for take off.

That's where I come in.

I need and am (constantly) actively looking for my ONE NEXT reference customer. (It's what I do!) It could be you and you'd like that. Seriously. I'll tell you why.

I'm pretty good at selling. I've been doing it, professionally, for 20 years and in fact, more generally, all my life. Here's what I now tell business owners and executives just like you. "If you can sell me then I can sell you!"

When I say that, I truly mean it. If you have good stuff and you know that at any given time there are paying customers 'out there' who would love to know about your offering(s) and would be even happier dealing with you but you're not yet 'hitting your stride' then we should really talk. Today. Now.

Maybe it's because you're not the 'sales type' or you're not into marketing or your marketing is a little too old-school or your corporate culture isn't sales-ready. Whatever it is, I'm pretty confident I can help.

So, here's the deal. We'll spend a little time (~10 minutes) on the phone together and if you can sell me - that's a metaphor, no pressure, it'll just be more of a conversation really - then I WILL MULTIPLY your business LIKE NO ONE ELSE CAN. I'll find and bring you paying customers like you never thought possible. Easy. So that's is. My "If you can sell me then I can sell you!" story.

Sound good?

I want to caution you though. I don't want to sell just anything. I want to sell stuff that's good! Stuff that people want. Stuff and people (and solutions) that offer a terrific value proposition and whose customers will end up being testimonial reference customers. I want to deal with reputable, honest folk. You might have new or existing technology. It could be your business. Maybe it's a franchise. It could be stuff you manufacture and export or services you provide or both. Maybe it's pool installations. Or hot tubs and hot tub installations. Maybe it's nice cottage related goods or airplanes or fast cars or wine or watercraft or fishing vacations or tours. Maybe it's commercial transformers or industrial equipment or services. It could be anything in any industry. Surprise me. I can't tell until I see and/or hear what you're selling or soon to be selling.

So, here's your chance. What will it be?
Door #1 (email me) Door #2 (email me) or Door #3 (email me)?

AND in closing, of course, Monty wouldn't let me do this without a bonus gift! So, let's talk for 10 minutes. If we're both liking what we're hearing, I'll email you a short questionnaire that you can think about and fill out and submit to me online. It will help you gain a better sense of everything you're doing (or not doing) to help you sell more effectively. And, just for submitting your information - regardless of whether we do business or not - I'll not only give you a couple of suggestions, I'll also send you a $20 Amazon Gift Card. On me.

How's that for a deal?! One final point, once I find a customer, I'm heads down. That could be a week. That could be a month. It could be a year. So, act NOW. NOW is always better than taking a number and being put into the queue. Now makes all the difference all the time. Email me today. I look forward to speaking with you.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Thought Leadership Selling (How To)

Step 1 - Get noticed Be referred as a thought leader
(often, early, before your competition)
Step 2 - Win more business

[Video below] If you're in business then there's no getting around it. You need to sell! The first thing you need to realize though is that kick-starting a sales cycle has nothing to do with your competition. Not at first. Initially, it's simply about getting noticed, at precisely the right time --> that being "early". If they don't notice you, you don't exist.

The purpose of this post is to show small-to-mid-sized business (SMB) owners and their fast-paced executive teams a powerfully-simple way to get noticed (early and often) by prospects you don't even know. You'll learn the simple mechanics of how it's done. You'll see the long and ever-lasting power of doing so. Finally, you'll realize the positive impact it will have on your overall business results. So, let's go.

Background: Yesterday, I shared a story with someone over a Google Video Hangout (a flexible free video conference platform). The story goes better with a diagram. So, before I started, I reached over and picked up my small whiteboard and a few dry-erase markers and reclined back into my office chair. I pointed the whiteboard towards my laptop's video camera and proceeded to work through a little diagram. Simple. In fact, you can watch it right here.


Now, when I was done telling this story, my associate seemed pretty 'wowed' by it. In fact, he asked me if I would do it again. Only this time, he wanted me to record it and put it up on YouTube (which anyone can do, in under 60-minutes, right in their office). Anyway, my associate wanted to see how my story and I might 'look' and how it would resonate with some people in his network. He was going to 'share' me! I was about to be HAND-DELIVERED, escorted right to the front of the line, queued-up for instant take-off! Perfect. Money doesn't buy that kind of introduction!

Back on message here. I want you to make note of something very important.

Historically, and even today, people prefer to buy from people they 'know, like, and trust'. That's an old sales 'truism'. It will be relevant forever. But, in our post-television, internet age, people are increasingly being introduced to new people, new ideas, new products, new services, (enticing marketing contests) with the share of an email, a link of a web site, and a click of a mouse - online and instantly - a town away or on the other side of the planet. So, with respect to my little (unassuming, impromptu) video story above, imagine the following conversation.
"Steve, John here. I want you to meet Jeff. He's someone I know and he has an interesting story. I think it's applicable for you. I think it gets to the heart of what you were telling me the other day. You said either your market was drying up or your team needs some new ideas with some new tricks because the numbers were starting to worry you. Either way, you really wanted to kick some butt with your new product launch and you can't afford to have the launch go bad or get out of the gates slow. I know Jeff and he has a lot of experience with business in general and professional selling more specifically - both online and otherwise. He's worked for big companies. IBM. Oracle. Computer Associates. He knows how the big guys operate and his real passion has always been entrepreneurship so he's taking his experience and teaming up with SMB owners to really ramp things up for guys just like you. Anyway, here. Have a look for yourself. I just sent you an email with a link to a video where he sheds some light on what you and I were talking about the other day. He's "THE guy on sales" when it comes to our post-television age and how to lever the internet to get 10X the amount of company awareness and capture more qualified leads so business owners like yourself can double their revenues in half the time, with half the effort. Anyway, Steve, Watch his video. Call him. Tell him I sent you. He'll show you how to create and crank your own dial."

Boom! Voila. Warm intro. Done!
Video included. And that's how it works.

Sell more by creating interesting and relevant stories that get you noticed - and shared - early and often. The more 'aces' you have 'up your sleeve' and the more you can make those aces available for others, to play on your behalf, the better. Make those stories about experiences related to you expertise in your line of work. Make those stories easy to be found and even easier to be shared. Get noticed -- better yet -- be referred as a thought leader.

So, let me ask. What's your story? [Pause] [Silence] [Empty space?] Don't worry. You actually have a lot of good stories. You just might not know it because before now, you've probably never thought of telling them in this context. If you can find them (and you can) and get them 'out there' (properly) then you too will have a nice little set of arrows in the virtual quiver, so to speak. Then, both you and your social and professional network can aim and shoot them at others for you, on your behalf, all over the world, when you're expecting it least. It's the multiplier factor using the internet-mobile-web-social-professional-network effect. Costs very little to do. It's 'out there' all the time, baited, ready-to-go.

Think about it, nobody carries other people business cards around, but we all keep our cell phones handy. And if you have your video url (the link to it) in your contact particulars -- hint -- and if you let people know (maybe ask them) to watch it -- maybe ask them what they think because you value their opinion on this kind of stuff -- hint -- you're on your way to making fresh new introductions - virtually, zero effort required. It's the intro that keeps on giving.

It's easy because you've designed it to be dead simple to leverage. A one-time cost that keeps paying dividends. And this style of content is way better than trying to sell someone by hard-selling yourself or your company and how great you are at bla bla bla. We do bla bla and we're the best at bla bla ... Because, truly, frankly, most of the time, no one really cares about you or your company or your resume. People only care about themselves and what you can do for them. Period. It's simple. And you want it that way.

Instead, introduce yourself with an interesting story that may be of some value (entertaining or otherwise or both -- you know who you are) to the person who is in your 'persona' sweet spot but who you'd otherwise never get a chance to be introduced to. Put the resume away. Start letting your experience and expertise and personality and style do the talking. You'll get way further ahead. Trust me. People are good with stories.

You have to remember that today's buyers and shoppers are checking new things out courtesy of the internet and the mobile web and cell phones and the help of people in their professional and social networks. Your friends, family, and professional and social networks are receiving and recommending and sharing content everyday, all the time. The easier it is for those buddies of yours to share you, the more you can expect they'll do it. So, make it easy on them. It'll make it easier for you.

How many of your buddies or business associates actually have a short professional video story (or library of honest "lessons learned" videos) that they have available for others to see and share easily? Done right, it works. People talk about other people all the time. Lots of times, if your name comes up, it's often because it's related to something you do in your professional life.
"Oh, you should meet 'so and so'. He's does 'this and that' and is really good at 'such and such'."  It's like a soft endorsement. "Here, I'll give you his number, oh, and flip you a quick link. He's funnier than a bag of hammers and knows what he's talking about. In fact, I'll show you him right here on my cell phone if you have a minute or you can click and watch later - whatever. Here. I know he'll be able to help you or at least point you in the right direction. Tell him I told you to call him and that I say 'hello'."
You and I and people around the world are "getting to know" us through a various assortment of 'screen-friendly assets' such as online newspaper/trade/magazine articles, internet videos, emails, e-newsletters, blog posts, social and professional network sites - you get the idea. Take half a day. Think about two or three stories that you no-doubt have in your grey-matter. Dust a few off. Tell them in under 5 minutes and then shoot yourself - with a video camera - and then have someone you trust give them the blessing and then start attaching the link to every email you send with a 'watch me in action' or a 'from the set of yours truly' tag or however you wish to title it. You watch. People will watch.

At the very least, it will give the person a clearer understanding of what you do and how you think and who you really are. In addition though, you can seed the idea that you'd be happy if, when ever someone runs into someone who might want some perspective in the line of work you have dedicated yourself to, that they flip the link to the person they know. Kind of like an anonymous, voyeuristic ice-breaker for the person you have yet to meet but who is an indirect connection to your network. If they don't like your style, after watching your little story on the internet, that's just fine. After all, you did it with them in mind. Now at least they know you. And that's about as genuine as you can be. So, at the very least you'll get full marks on that front.

The ease and speed of this information sharing is a powerful change of habit in how people are being influenced and educated down the street and around the globe. Are you taking advantage of this tendency for people to want to share their knowledge and findings? ... properly?

Let me lay this out. In the above scenario, notice that my short story and I were instantly teletransported 1,000+ miles away (Texas in this case) into a few 'corner offices' courtesy of a connection of mine and his desire to 'share' a story he found interesting. My ideas were given a virtual yet instant introduction and 'top-billing' to more than a few potentially influential people who I otherwise would likely have never been introduced to. So, now, think about it. Over the long run, just working the numbers, that's going to work out for me. It cost me nothing and was unique in that it I was the only one who could know and tell the story because it came from me as a result of my many years of experience and my perspective on life. No one else can tell this story. It's uniquely you.

Let me sink this home a little more. Increasingly, your prospects are no longer having to rely on and/or wait for a 'physical' formal or informal introduction through their professional or social networks -- although that's still probably the best way to be introduced. Introductions as explained here can be done 24 hours a day with a simple share, instantaneously, if you've made the content and then made it easy to be found and even easier to share.

And, as a result of this new buying behavior, purchasers are in less need of, and therefore less willing to take, for example, a live, unsolicited, cold-call from well-meaning albeit complete stranger. The reality is that the cold call tactic has been pushed aside in favor of new and improved ones. On the one hand, that's too bad. Cold calling was - and remains - a great art and it took some real talent (and thick skin) to deliver them day-in and day-out. Scripting the perfect cold call remains, to this day, an impressive gift and talent. Gifted cold call writers and sales copy writers are worth their weight in Gold when it comes to your top and bottom lines. It's just that today, the message is delivered through different - richer, and more inviting - channels of distribution. Yet the principles to strong cold call script writing and sales copy writing still apply and always will.

But today, your prospects can invite and sit through a pitch (that doesn't necessarily mean a strong pitch, by the way) on a topic, a product, a solution, anytime they like, 24 hours a day, just by doing some basic online searching. (Of course, there's a trick to actually getting found in these searches) And they can watch these 'pitches' without the pressure of having to say 'no' to anybody when said pitch is all over. And, remember, in sales, 'no' may just mean, 'not yet' especially if they're not yet ready to buy, for example, but they know that there's a project on the way! But, they're not likely going to tell a stranger that over an initial cold call. Get it? Now, imagine a cold call that 'coincidentally' comes from a person representing a firm who's President you just happened to see tell a story in an interesting video. Whoa. Weird. What's the chance?! [Intriguing eh?]

The truth is nobody likes to have to say 'NO'. We'd all like to be able to say 'YES'. It's in our nature. It's just not always possible. There's a lot of weirdos out there phoning in and digging for information. And, furthermore, sometimes it's not about even that. Sometimes it really is just about timing. The person is busy.

Let me ask you. From your own personal experience, have you ever mistakenly answered a cold call, winced immediately after realizing it, and then politely informed the caller ... sometimes after an annoyingly long dissertation before you finally had to just interject and say ... that you were busy with something else at the moment but that you would be happy to take a look at their web site or review more information if they emailed you something? Sure you have. We all have. Anything to get off that call. 9 out of 10 times we're not interested in what the offer is at that precise moment. In fact, we may have some interest in what the cold caller is talking 'at' us about, eventually, maybe even real soon, but it's not a top 3 priority at the moment. So, we're compelled to just get off the phone as quickly as possible so that we can get back to what we need to get done. That's how life works.

Today, researching a particular topic (or a product, or a solution, or a person) can been done at one's leisure, literally. Have you ever surfed one of your 'second screens' while sitting in your recliner watching a hockey game, for example? [That would be me.] How about surfing the web on your phone/tablet at a coffee shop while waiting for your next appointment? [Again, yours truly.] Why do we do that? Because it's easy and it makes sense. That's why.

So, buying behavior has changed. Does it make sense to have your value proposition online? Absolutely. I can't imagine a business where it wouldn't. Have it friendly to mobile? Yep - increasingly more important. Everyone's high-level pitch, the ones worth seeing at least -- yes, that's how your buyers think -- are a simple keyword search away. So, if the cold-caller's offer is that good -- if it's not just some high-pressure tactic behind some scam artist -- then certainly you can just get back to it when you have some time to properly dedicate to it. That's the logical presumption. And why shouldn't it be? It makes sense when you look at from the buyer's perspective.

Your prospects are making purchasing decisions everyday. If it's not actually signing a final negotiated contract it's deciding to eliminate a contender or to keep another in the running. It's tough though, because many times, after all the analysis, there's no clear winner. Every solution and approach has its own pros and cons.

So, what do buyers do? They increasingly turn to companies and executives who demonstrate thought leadership. It breaks the ties. Features, functions, and benefits eventually have to boil themselves down to a purchase decision. ROIs, Business Value Justifications, and payback periods are still, at the end of the day, a function of a mythically-clear crystal ball in conjunction with a gut feel. Buyers decide. Buyers commit. Then buyers do whatever they need to do to prove to their fellow executive team that their decision was indeed the right one. And that's how that works.

To minimize the risk, decision makers want whoever they decide to put their faith in (and to give their money to) to know what they're talking about, have passion for what they're doing, be committed to customer satisfaction, and ultimately have answers to the questions that are bound to come up after the sale. They want their journey to be smooth-sailing, no surprises, at very least, no mission-critical drops of the ball.

So how can you be that reassuring tie-breaker, the thought leader, the one to convince your prospects that you indeed are the right company with the right team who should win your prospect's business? How can you get inside your prospect's head, early and often, and effectively differentiate yourself from the rest of the herd and demonstrate your worthiness for their business? Ans: through convincing digital assets that can be EASILY FOUND, watched, admired, liked, and shared -- early and often. Let me repeat. Early and Often. Take, for example, a blog post or a formal (or informal) video story strategically placed FOR EASY FINDING - and easy delivery - at just the right time and then easily shared and forwarded after that. That's how you can sell through thought leadership.

And a great place to start is a simple "get-to-know-me" story ... a little like this blog post here or my video above. Voila.{Yes, you have my blessing to share!}

A little more on the Psychology of Selling. For most, "being sold" has a negative connotation. It falls along the line of the old saying "no one wants to be sold, but we don't mind having someone to help us shop". Really? Isn't that the same thing? Sure it is. But maybe it feels better. Maybe? It surely does. And it's only such a subtle difference. But that difference in approach can mean the difference between winning and losing in the competitive - sometimes lengthy, often-times costly - field of selling.

So, if you have something to sell, it pays to know the difference between the two approaches and to execute (both) accordingly. There's the 'feature/function/benefit' out-bound 'hard' sell and there's the softer thought-leadership, thought-provoking, consultative sell. You'll need both. Today, to get in early, you need to add thought leadership into the mix to ensure your full story is being heard and to ultimately tighten a relationship that will lead to successfully closed business - and reference customers.

Now, back to the case in point. Think about what I'm doing here in this very blog post. You see, what you're reading here is content that most will find is of the 'thought leadership' calibre (he says humbly). Do I have something that I ultimately want to sell. Yes. I do. Am I selling you it right now? No. Does this blog talk about WHAT it is that I'm selling, WHAT it does or WHAT our customers get out of it? Well, no (a little bit maybe, but not overtly).

Instead, the pitch is kind of stealth. It's weaved in there, hidden between the lines. Instead of an overt, hard-sell, this blog post is telling you a story in a conversational style that provides you with insight into 'consumer psychology' and 'consumer behavior' in our post television age. The purpose of this article (blog) and the implied intent is to impress upon you, the reader, that there might be value to you in reaching out to me in order to explore approaching how you might sell a little differently and that this different approach is POWERFUL but requires a unique mindset and skill set and, rest assured, my colleagues and I assure you that we have all that for you. That was the overt sell. But that's all there is.

I've designed this post here to provide you, the reader, with an actual illustration of how Thought Leadership Selling is done so that you can see how the technique actually works so that you can use it for yourself in your own selling endeavors for better overall business results.

To cut to the chase, IF you believe that "Your Prospects are (increasingly) Shopping Without You" (you probably should) and IF you are looking for a way to get noticed, often and early, in order to get 'invited to the dance' in terms of making a connection with your ideal anonymous prospects, again, early and often, then start crafting and writing thought leadership articles and short videos and podcasts and slideshares etc.

In so doing, you'll stand a better chance of i) getting noticed (again, we're going for early and often), ii) being seen as genuine, real, having experience and offering value, and iii) most importantly, gathering stealth intelligence on the fact that someone out there may be early in the process of making a buying decision related to what it is that you have to offer. Bingo. Start from there. In the pole position. And that knowledge can put you in the lead right from the start. That's the power you need. That's the position you want.

By presenting yourself as a thought leader you'll actually not only get people to think about your idea(s) you'll also get a chance to let them get to know you -- and impress upon them that you indeed are a genuine thought leader, in your own right, in your own field. Generally speaking, that's a good thing for you!

So, a checkpoint. Again, buyers are shopping differently today. They're opening up their laptops and increasingly, their "phablets" (phone+tablet). They're cranking up the internet. They're doing their own individual research -- so they don't look stupid in front of their work friends. [They're screening their calls.] They're 'checking out the field', so-to-speak. They're 'meeting' people and companies and brands -- virtually, online, anonymously, well in advance of letting it be publicized that they and their company may be in the market. They're scoping you out. They're scoping your competitors out. They're learning who the thought leaders are! They're finding some nice matches and they're culling the herd at the same time. So, if you're not being seen, and if you're not being seen as a thought leader, you have very little chance of even being considered never mind ultimately being invited to the dance. So, be the thought leader and get to the dance!

Here's something else. Sure, your paying customers are looking for certain "features" and "functions" and "benefits" within their price range. Sure they're doing that. But, a funny thing. Their subconscious is also hard at work. Ever heard this saying? "They'll never remember every word you said but they'll always remember exactly how you made them feel."

At the end of the day, we all 'want to think' that we made the right buying decision. Just as importantly, maybe more importantly, we all have an deep internal 'need to feel' that we made the right buying decision. It's about people (and pride and a little self-preservation). And we all buy on emotion as much as we buy on the technicalities.

So, your paying customers are taking what they find online -- either from their own efforts or from what you're feeding them -- along with the help of their work friends -- internalizing it, watching your video over and over again, checking out if there's an accompanying Twitter or Pinterest, or Facebook, or YouTube channel/page to augment a particular company's web site in order to gain even a greater feel for who you are. They're bringing their findings to their colleagues' attention -- sharing links. They're chatting about it (you) over the water cooler (or over a Hangout or in emails etc). They're projecting their laptop screens up in the boardroom to share with their work friends what they've unearthed -- they want to impress them with a nugget (or a laugh) they've found.

In essence, just like you and I, each one of them are doing what they've been delegated to do - or what we've delegated them to do - and they're each combing the web to educate themselves, get current, find reasonable solution candidates in an effort to thin out the herd in their own mind. Finally, collectively, after they're 85% of the way through their team buying decision process, they're then reaching out to the chosen 2-3 to compete for their business. Interesting eh?

Oh. One more thing. Each one has a favorite vendor. Would you like to know if you're considered a favorite by any of them, a couple of them, maybe all of them? A vendor they hope actually wins so that they can go to the dance with that vendor? Probably not a bad thing to know, eh? I've actually had a prospect EMAIL ME THE TWO COMPETITORS' RESPONSES ... PRICING INCLUDED! I keep them. Just to look at them every now and then. Nostalgia. I think they call that "shooting fish in a barrel"!

There's a saying that goes "You don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate!" Damn straight! I'll be happy to tell you more about that if you like. Yes, that would be called a teaser. Back to the message.

So, how do you get to become one of the chosen few?

And, given the above, how many deals did you NOT compete in last year? Rhetorical question. There's a new way to find, connect with, and win over your prospects - early - so that you're the one who ends up going to the dance.

As a result of this new way of "research shopping" and sharing of online intelligence one of the toughest things to do is to get your anonymous prospects to spend quality time with you, online, to get them to listen to you, to hear your story, to get them to "check you out". The trick is to do it without telling them how great you are - without sounding like you're there just to sell them. That's a downer. At this early stage, in fact throughout it all, you can't just come off like your sole purpose is to pull the slambamthankyoumam routine. "Here. This is what we sell. It costs this much. Do you want it or not?" Booo. It's not just about your sales targets. It is truly about your customer. That's no bull. But putting them first and pulling them in closer in order to get them to check you out requires a little panache. Some "je ne sais quoi". And it varies by industry, geography, region, buyer persona ... so it takes a little thought - and a little trial and error.

Everybody has the knack and their own style. So, be yourself. Everyone else is taken. You may have to find a 'publicist-like' person to help you a little at the start, but soon you'll get it for yourself and be comfortable with putting yourself 'out there' and listening to your conversations for what would make a great next story. It's like junior high school. Everyone had that friend, that buddy, that someone who helped you look your best to get noticed and impress that boy or girl that you had your first crush on. It's very similar.

To sum up, here it is. Be a thought leader. Start by telling stories. Tell great stories. Tell stories that connect. Tell stories that showcase projects that you've worked on. Tell a story or two to make you human - throw in some self-deprecating humor - where you ran into a brick wall and how you handled it and how you maybe wished it had actually happened. That's okay too. We've all had our learning moments. It's human. Tell stories that enlighten or highlight what you believe to be the most important thing to know when it comes to this field or making such and such a decision. Tell them how you got into the business that you're in. Why you like it. Tell them what, if you had to boil it all down, you believe to be the most important thing that a person needs to keep in mind when making a buying decision, for example. AND, ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS tie it back to your listener. It's about them.

In closing, be great out there and have fun! And if you ever want a little confidential advice, or assistance, reach out. I'm available. Consider this your invite. My crack team of colleagues and I have this stuff down! And they can make any business act, look, and deploy like the Fortune 500 on an SMB budget. I'll give you some examples. We'll be happy to show you how and you can get started on pennies-a-serving and start immediately reaping the benefits. Ask for my 20-minute intro webinar -- we'll put it on live, one-on-one, just for you, no obligation ever. Happy to help.