Join us for this brief, complimentary web seminar on Blogging, Social Media and SEO – New Marketing Tools for improved B2B Lead Generation & Growth. We will review the new rules which apply to marketing and why sooner is better when it comes to social media marketing. Guest speaker, marketing expert and author of Your Virtual Success, Alan Blume, will touch upon subjects including SEO, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, ePublishing, Blogging and social media marketing. Topics include:

*  Blogging for B2B Leads
*  ePublishing or Blogging – which is better and why?
*  Search Engine Optimization – SEO or PPC
*  Should my company Link, Friend or Tweet?  
*  Social Media Marketing or eMarketing for your B2B business
 
To register, please use the link below:

June 29th at Noon PT: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/428120120

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Join us today for this brief, complimentary web seminar as the author of Your Virtual Success, Alan Blume, discusses virtual sales, marketing and presentation methods to help your company grow by using innovative and useful web tools. These tools, including many free and cost effective cloud computing solutions will help any company, entrepreneur, sales person, self employed individual, emerging business or established business seeking to increase sales or improve the bottom line.

* Top Tips & Tricks for Memorable Web Meetings
* Web Meetings vs. Webinars
* Effective Webinar Best Practices
* WebEx, Glance or GoToMeeting?
* To Use Video or Not To Use Video

June 22nd at Noon ET: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/386156953

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Posted in: B2B Marketing, eMarketing, Insurance Agency Lead Generation, Insurance Agency Marketing, Small Business, Social Media, Telemarketing, Virtual Business, Web Seminars
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Your Virtual Success

Your Virtual Success

Join us tomorrow for this brief, complimentary web seminar as the author of Your Virtual Success, Alan Blume, discusses virtual sales, marketing and presentation methods to help your company grow by using innovative and useful web tools. These tools, including many free and cost effective cloud computing solutions will help any company, entrepreneur, sales person, self employed individual, emerging business or established business seeking to increase sales or improve the bottom line.

* Top Tips & Tricks for Memorable Web Meetings
* Web Meetings vs. Webinars
* Effective Webinar Best Practices
* WebEx, Glance or GoToMeeting?
* To Use Video or Not To Use Video

June 23rd at Noon ET: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/627358072

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Posted in: B2B Marketing, eMarketing, Insurance Agency Lead Generation, Insurance Agency Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Small Business, Social Media, Virtual Business, Web Seminars
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Good Morning!  It is a beautiful sunny Saturday in the Northeast, and obviously I am indoors watching the World Cup.  Although this topic does not follow the theme of my Blog, I thought the World Cup is a big enough event to require feedback even from sales and marketing guys who stopped playing soccer after high school.  Enjoy!

Who is going to win?

Entering the tournament, Brazil, Spain, Argentina, Italy and Germany appeared to be the favorites and the expert’s selections.  I thought that Brazil and Spain would be unbeatable, Argentina’s talent would be compromised by their erratic coach Diego Maradona, and traditional powers Italy and Germany would not be able to compete with the aforementioned three.  England and Portugal were also mentioned but I did not believe either could advance deep in the tournament.

After a week and a day of play, we have seen many of these favorites disappoint.  Spain and Germany both have posted a loss, and Italy a weak draw – leaving Brazil and Argentina as the unbeaten powers who have delivered impressive wins.  Brazil controlled play and benefited from a tremendous shot/cross by Maicon against North Korea.  Meanwhile Argentina beat Nigeria and demolished South Korea on the strength of a Higuain hat trick and the usual creative brilliance of Lionel Messi.

Since these two are on opposite sides of the knockout round bracket, I would have to say the early indications are they are headed for an all South American final – which would provide an incredible match.  Even though I remained concerned about Maradona, I will predict a 3-1 Argentina win over the Brazilians.  I reserve the right to change that after next week, but it sounds good to me now.

Individual Performances Worth Noting

I will offer one pleasant surprise, and one notable disappointment.  First the good news:  Uruguay and Diego Forlan!  I thought Uruguay was unlikely to advance, but after two matches they appear to be in control of Group A and Diego Forlan has emerged as the tournament’s most impressive offensive weapon so far.  I realize Higuain posted a hat trick, but he benefited from Messi and Carlos Tevez creating opportunity.  Forlan was able to create two goals for himself, and one for his teammate in their dominating 3-0 win over the hosts South Africa.  They now appear poised to win the group and would likely face Greece of South Korea in the first knockout round – both beatable teams.  I know I did not hav Uruguay in the quarters, but they deserve to be there.

Now for the flop: Christiano Ronaldo.  Both literally and figuratively.  His talent is inarguable, but I am reaching a point where I am no longer enjoying watching him play.  He wears the Captain’s arm-band, but he does not lead his team.  He spends more of the match on the ground begging for weak fouls than he does trying to help his team win.  Portugal is ranked 3rd in the world, but they will not advance from group play if he plays against Brazil and North Korea the way he played against Ivory Coast.  His legions of fans deserve more effort and better play.  One big shot (that did not score) is not enough to overcome the dozen oppurtunities wasted by faking a foul when he should have shared the ball.

How back to games.  Have a great weekend!

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I periodically read the blog of a local insurance agent. He is a friend of a friend, which is how I stumbled onto his website. But he regularly produces interesting blogs which keep me coming back. It appears the experts are right – content drives action.

One day he blogged about home based businesses. As I have shared previously, StartUpSelling is a completely virtual company, so everyone from the CEO down works from home offices. His post peaked my curiosity and I realized it has been some time since I reviewed my coverages. So for this gentleman the concept is working. Delivering content to his prospects via a blog yielded a lead and a quoting opportunity.

Have many of you found a blog to be a successful lead generation tool? If so, what are you writing about and how often? Are you spending much time or effort to promote the blog?

Thanks in advance for your feedback.

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Posted in: B2B Marketing, Insurance Agency Lead Generation, Insurance Agency Marketing, Social Media
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How to Create a Virtual Business in 72 Hours

  • Posted on June 17, 2010
  • by John Scranton

I recently shared the story of my transition from a traditional, corporate environment to a highly productive virtual office.  I shared this story as part of a book review of Your Virtual Success – and the author has granted me permission to share a chapter from the book that explains in great detail how he (and I, and possibly you) could launch your virtual business in just 72 hours.  Enjoy!

How to Create a Virtual Business in 72 Hours

I pulled on a pair of sweatpants, found my favorite blue t-shirt, donned my socks and slippers, and walked down­stairs to the basement. I needed a desk for my new home of­fice but didn’t have one. The door creaked as I walked into my back basement. I lived in this house for 20 years; surely I must have some type of old desk stowed away down here. Unfortunately, after a couple of minutes in the musty, dimly lit room, I could see there was none. Suddenly, I spotted an old laminate counter and two beat-up, black file cabinets behind some boxes in a cobweb-laced corner. My son had used these for a makeshift desk when he was a teenager, allowing him to store additional clutter in his room and thus ensuring he could make his room look like a fully functioning junk yard. They had been leaning against the wall collecting dust for the previ­ous 10 years and had not been discarded in the unlikely event someone was ever to need them.

I carried them upstairs to a spare bedroom and slid the laminate countertop onto the opposing file cabinets. There was a cup resting on a closet shelf. I dumped a few pens and pencils in the cup, not really ever intending to use a pencil but somehow feeling reassured that it was a good idea nonethe­less. I grabbed a phone that was in a “spare parts” drawer and plugged it into the wall. I was almost done. I gently placed my eBay-purchased Dell laptop on my new makeshift desk and powered it up. I had ordered the laptop a couple of days be­fore and connected it to an existing Linksys router. It seemed to work just fine. I connected my Dell to the all-in-one HP printer, scanner, fax I purchased at Staples the day before. Lastly, I rolled in a chair from another room. My office basics were ready in 48 hours.

I downloaded some readily available target prospect lists (such as the fastest-growing companies in Massachusetts, the largest insurance agencies in North America, and the Inc. 500 list), imported them into an Excel spreadsheet, and hit the phones calling prospects on day three. Within 72 hours I had a fully functioning virtual office. Granted, this presupposes you already identified a virtual business and you have a telephone and voice mail pitch ready to go. Today, there are so many great virtual business concepts available; it’s hard to imagine you cannot come up with a viable idea. With the methods dis­cussed in this book and a simple voice mail pitch or PPC cam­paign, your own virtual business can be ready in as little as 72 hours.

Basic Building Blocks of My Virtual Business

Here is the list of the basic virtual requirements for my type of business, though your requirements will vary based on your business and target market:

  • VoIP Phone: Vonage or other: $25 per month or less.
  • Skype: Free PC-to-PC video calling.
  • DSL or Cable Internet Access: $30 per month.
  • Laptop: eBay used Dell for $600 (with Microsoft Office).
  • HP all-in-one printer $199.
  • GoToMeeting: About $39 per month, or use Dimdim or another free service. (I added GoToWebinar at a later date.)
  • eMarketing solution like iContact or ConstantConact: about $30 per month.
  • Inc. 500/5000, Fortune 1000, or other list source for prospecting data: Some are free; some are fee for service.
  • Sales Force Automation software: SalesForce.com, BigContacts.com, and many other cost effective contact management and SFA solutions: about $99 per year per user, though some are free.
  • Backup to a flashcard, external hard drive, offsite via e-mail or service such as Mozy: anywhere from free to $5 per month.
  • FreeTranslation.com, BabelFish.com language translation for international e-mails: free.
  • Basic Website: $50 including hosting if you do everything yourself; $150 to $1,000+ if you hire someone. Depending on your business (B2B vs. B2C) your needs will vary.
  • Google Desktop: free product from Google enabling you to search for anything on your PC.
  • Instant Messaging: Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo, Jabber, etc.: free unless you need an enterprise version.
  • CutePDF: free PDF document creation utility.
  • Cell Phone: You should be able to use your existing cell phone.

With all the new tools and technologies available to us to­day, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to set up a virtual busi­ness or to make your exiting business more virtual.

For the complete chapter, please email me johns@startupselling.com or visit www.yourvirtualsuccess.net.

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Posted in: B2B Marketing, eMarketing, Insurance Agency Lead Generation, Insurance Agency Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Small Business, Social Media, Telemarketing, Uncategorized, Virtual Business, Web Seminars
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Insurance Agency Marketing

Join us for this brief, complimentary web seminar on Blogging, Social Media and SEO – New Marketing Tools for Lead Generation & Growth. We will review the new rules which apply to marketing and why sooner is better when it comes to social media marketing. Guest speaker, marketing expert and author of Your Virtual Success, Alan Blume, will touch upon subjects including SEO, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, ePublishing, Blogging and social media marketing. Topics include:

*  Blogging for Leads
*  ePublishing or Blogging – which is better and why?
*  Search Engine Optimization – SEO or PPC
*  Should my company Link, Friend or Tweet?  
*  Social Media Marketing or eMarketing for your business

June 17th at Noon ET:  https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/864983264
 
For more information: info@startupselling.com
 
Sincerely,
 
John Scranton
VP & Licensed Agent
StartUpSelling, Inc.
johns@startupselling.com
www.startupselling.com

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Why the Window Salesman was Destined for Failure

  • Posted on June 15, 2010
  • by Andrew

As promised in yesterday’s rant – I will discuss why it was not just the window salesman’s fault he failed, it was the broken sales methodology of his employer.  There were 3 major flaws in the model his company is using, and any one of them could foil their opportunity.  Unfortunately, when this salesman visited my home, all 3 problems surfaced, giving him no chance to close the business.

Confirm Telemarketing Leads – I received a call last week asking if I would like a quote for windows.  Their timing was great, as I actually have been interested for some time, but taken no action.  I said ok and told them “Saturday morning should probably work.” (Note: This call included a contest inducement – which makes people more likely to say yes without really intending to consider a purchase.)  On Friday, I missed a call confirming Saturday’s appointment and did not have time to return it.  But Saturday morning, a salesperson was on my porch.  Wow.  He drove all the way out to my home without confirming the appointment.  He acted as if I should be expecting him.  He brought up the fact I said “Saturday morning should work.”  Clear signs his company had provided him with some low-level sales training, but what his company should have provided him with was a confirmed appointment before asking him to get in the car and waste gas.

Don’t Sell a Mercedes like it’s a used Dodge Neon – This company positions their product as the highest quality window available in the standard consumer market.  Meaning it is the best you can buy without purchasing something customized.  I see them as the equivalent of a Mercedes or BMW – you can’t do much better unless you are going to visit the Ferrari factory and spend a fortune.  However, they train their salespeople to push the product like a used Chevy Malibu.  I have been to luxury car dealerships and witnessed salespeople allow the product to speak for itself, simply trying to augment the decision-making process of the buyer as opposed to directing it.  This window company trains their sales people to quickly push no-down-payment financing at the first signs of price objection, and then use the lay-down just like car dealers!  This gentleman should have qualified that I was a cash customer, and if I could only get pricing from the manager then send the manager out to the meeting!  If you have a quality product, leverage it – do not bastardize it with low-end tactics.

Maintain the Integrity of Your Pricing – I came from the insurance industry, where pricing integrity has been withered away for years.  I did my best to present my best price the first time.  My prospects did not always believe it was my best price, and a few times even asked me to go back to underwriters looking for pricing relief.  I despised this tactic.  It’s classless.  If I have a better price and I do not offer it the first time, the buyer should not trust me.  The window company apparently had 2 better prices – 20% off if I bought today, followed by 15% more from the manager.  Really?  More than 1/3 from where we started?  That is a confession you were trying to rip me off initially.  Again selling the Mercedes like a Mercury Topaz.

It was obvious to me – and probably anyone else in sales – that this window salesman had no prior sales experience.  His only source of knowledge was the training and sales model provided by his company.  If he had read this blog before coming to our meeting, he probably would have stayed home.  Be careful not to set your salespeople up for failure.  They are a valuable resource that keep your company moving, so do everything you can to support them and help them succeed.

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Posted in: B2B Marketing, Insurance Agency Lead Generation, Insurance Agency Marketing, Small Business, Telemarketing
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Thanks for your time. Now get out of my house!

  • Posted on June 14, 2010
  • by Alan Blume

This weekend my wife and I allowed a window salesman to visit our home with the intent of receiving a quotation.  Our windows are aging, and we are genuinely interested in what it is going to cost to replace them.  The company was reputable and promises high quality backed up by an industry leading warranty, so they were certainly a vendor I wanted to investigate.  The only problem?  Once I told the gentleman that was enough for today, he would not leave my house!

Upon his arrival I explained that I had guests coming over that afternoon and could spend 30-45 minutes with him.  After 15 minutes of product demo’s and company background information, I said “you have sold me on the quality of your product and the reputation of your company – so let’s talk about pricing.”  But after 45 minutes I still had not seen the price and I was out of time.

As the meeting approached the 90 minute mark, both my temper and window expertise had reached new heights.  I stood up and said “thank you very much for your time.  Your presentation was excellent.  I am interested and will review the costs with my wife within the next week and provide you with a decision.  I know you hoped for a decision today, but this is a purchase we will need more time to review.  I look forward to speaking with you next week.”

I thought this was polite, candid and reasonable.  As a fellow salesperson, I understand that you often want quick results, but an honest response and the promise of a prompt decision are also quite good.  He then declined my offer to help him pack up his demo materials, so I joined my wife upstairs preparing for our guests.  15 minutes later I returned to find him lingering on my porch.  Fellow salesperson or not, this was ridiculous.

I reminded him we had guests arriving and that I was not prepared to make a decision today.  He responded by stating that his manager had approved better pricing if I would sign before he left.  Did he not hear me?  Was I not direct?  At this point my wife stomped onto the porch and said “our guests will be here any minute and you need to leave!”  He was stunned and immediately complied.

My wife is a special education teacher and patience is one of her strengths.  It takes a lot to push her over the edge.  But what this guys deal?  Unfortunately, I know what the problem was – and I will visit that in tomorrow’s blog entry.  So what can we learn from this character?  Several things:

  • Respect your prospect’s time constraints
  • Do not be intrusive
  • Do not abuse the invitation into someone’s home
  • If you cannot get a decision, don’t push for it, talk about next steps
  • When asked to leave – go!

Next time you are on the road trying to close business – remember not to act like the window salesman.  Treat your prospect with respect, listen, and try to cultivate your oppurtunity instead of pushing it over the edge.  Also, any other ideas where I can get a fair price for windows?

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Posted in: B2B Marketing, Insurance Agency Lead Generation, Insurance Agency Marketing
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Playoff Basketball & Webinar Metrics

  • Posted on June 11, 2010
  • by Andrew

I am relaxing watching the NBA playoffs – and of course the exciting and competitive atmosphere eventually brings my mind back to business. All the statistics on the TV screen lead to an analysis of some webinar results and metrics. I found them to be impressive enough that I would share them.

We recently ran a web seminar for an agency client that drew an excellent response. We began the campaign by procuring 6,000 executive emails in their target market and profile. We then designed an educationally oriented and technical email subject and webinar topic that would appeal to their target, in-profile prospects. Nearly 300 people registered for the webinar, 169 attended, and 15 of those have scheduled an appointment with the agency producers within the first week. The CEO called to tell us that “their days of cold calling are over.”

Another recent webinar was designed around a highly targeted vertical. Again an educational email subject and webinar topic were designed by our team to avoid any impression that this would be a sales presentation. A small send of 300 email invitations were sent, yielding 54 webinar registrants and 29 attendees – incredibly high percentages for an eMarketing campaign.

When the right methodology is used, web seminars are a tremendous lead generation tool for the insurance industry.

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Posted in: B2B Marketing, eMarketing, Insurance Agency Lead Generation, Insurance Agency Marketing, Virtual Business, Web Seminars
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