Sales & Marketing Discipline

  • Posted on June 25, 2017
  • by John Scranton

BusinessEvery great company has a key defining concept.  Something that is woven into the fabric of people, products and culture.  For example, 3M strives to use innovative technology and imagination to improve the daily lives of people (www.3m.com).  This concept becomes obvious when reviewing their history and how the company operates each day.  The immense challenge for businesses who want to achieve tremendous success like 3M, is to define that key concept – and then to make all decisions in alignment with that concept.

Successful sales cultures are often built the same way.  A truly honest assessment of how your sales time is spent, and the associated results, can be a very enlightening exercise.  Who is your best client or customer?  How did you find them?  How much of your time are you spending trying to repeat that same process?  How much time are you wasting with less productive initiatives or people who are less likely to buy?

Here are a few steps to help you complete this exercise:

  1. Define your Idea Prospect – Use your best customer as an example.  Who are they?  How big are they?  What does their industry and client base look like?
  2. Determine your Most Effective Marketing Tools – What marketing initiatives provide the best results?  Where do your closes come from?  What is producing the right kind of prospects?
  3. Refine your Marketing Plan– Once the above two items are clearly and honestly defined, make sure your marketing plan is directed at repeating the process.  Refine the plan so that it is accurately aligned with your findings.
  4. Stop doing Everything Else – This is a hard one.  But to achieve the 3M type of success mentioned earlier, it is required.  Throw away everything else that does not fit, and only spend time pursuing your best prospects and executing your most effective marketing campaigns.

It sounds simple, but if it was easy everyone would already be doing it – maintain focus on your best prospects and best marketing channels.  As your discipline to this concept increases, your results will improve dramatically.

Originally Posted on September 20, 2010 by John Scranton

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B2B Web Seminars – Get to the Point

  • Posted on June 22, 2017
  • by John Scranton

Insurance Agency WebinarsI recently attended a web seminar that provided very insightful information that was relevant to my area of focus.  However, the key points of this webinar were delivered every 5 to 10 minutes and spread over an hour plus presentation.  Most business executives I know do not have the time or the patience for this model.  They would have to assign an administrative person to attend, taking the decision maker out of the equation.

Our suggestion? Get to the point.  Be professional, but be concise.  Spend 1-2 minutes teeing up your presentation, not 10 minutes.  Trim the fat of your content so only the high value material is featured in 20-30 minutes.  If the busy executive you wish to sell to needs to leave his or her desk for a bathroom break or another cup of coffee – you have overstayed your welcome on their desktop.

Action items: target your content, be mindful of your prospects time, and get to the point.

Originally Posted by John Scranton in June 2012

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Sales & Marketing Tip of the Day: Narrow Your Focus

  • Posted on June 6, 2017
  • by John Scranton

What services do you provide?  Why would people want to do business with you?  How are you better than the next guy?

These simple questions are much too difficult for many agency executives to answer.  The answers are clouded by the abstract concepts and strategies we read in the trade magazines explaining how to mask the fact that we are selling insurance.  The quandary is further complicated for those who are striving to be everything to everyone – and are at risk of being nothing to no one.

The fastest and most effective path to cleaning the dust off of your value proposition and finding your true mission as a salesperson or producer is to narrow your focus.  Keep throwing the darts at the 20 until you can consistently hit your target.  Only then should you consider going for the 19’s, 18’s or bulls-eye.

StartUpSelling provides marketing solutions to insurance agencies.  Our deep industry expertise allows us to understand the challenges our clients face and to create effective solutions.  Our virtual model allows us to deliver a compelling value and responsive service.

Those are my responses to questions above.  Delivered from memory as fast as I can type.  They are easy to answer, because we have a highly focused sales and marketing strategy.

Originally Posted on May 14, 2012 by John Scranton

 

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Marketing Sauce

  • Posted on April 6, 2017
  • by John Scranton

SauceOnce a month or so, my wife and I invest our Sunday in the careful production of spaghetti sauce.  We use her family recipe, which begins with 3 pounds of ground sirloin, 10 large cans of tomatoes and a page long list of vegetables, spices, herbs and other goodies – and ends with two very large pots of delicious sauce.

It takes about an hour to cook the meat, chop the veggies, and to measure and mix each of the other ingredients.  Once everything is simmering on the stove, we wait patiently for 3+ hours while the concoction cooks.  After eating the initial celebratory meal, we package up all the extra sauce and freeze it for future Sundays.  Factoring in the shopping and cleanup, its long process.

The key elements to sauce success are the variety of ingredients and time.  If any of the ingredients are neglected, the sauce does not produce the optimum result.  Too little garlic or a lack of fresh basil can cause me to miss the target.  Not enough patience will result in an undercooked, mediocre product that crushes my ROI.

Executing a marketing campaign is very much like cooking sauce.  With meat and tomatoes you have a foundation that could sustain you, but with a variety of spices, herbs, vegetables and a splash of wine you have a delicious product that will feed you for a long time.  Tasting the sauce early on will allow you to measure your progress, but will not be a clear indicator of your future results and return.

Integrating several web marketing initiatives will over time yield a superior result to traditional programs, as long as you are willing to wait until it has cooked long enough for all the flavors to come together.

Originally Posted by John Scranton on January 9, 2012

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An Embarrassment of Riches

  • Posted on January 31, 2017
  • by John Scranton

FC BarcelonaI am a big fan of the soccer team FC Barcelona.  I have always respected their approach to developing talent, and love to watch their style of play.  I make an attempt to watch as many of their matches as my schedule allows.  Last night, I watched a replay of their Champion’s League massacre of Shakhtar Donetsk.  While preparing for a free kick from just beyond the penalty area, three star players gathered to discuss who would be taking the kick.  The announcer proclaimed this to be “an embarrassment of riches.”

I thought to myself “an embarrassment of riches? That’s it! That’s the key to marketing success!”  So I immediately went out and hired three of the worlds best marketers, signed them to eight-figure salaries and began shopping for a new yacht.  Just kidding.  Sort of.  Kidding about the eight-figure marketing assassins and the yacht, but not kidding about the embarrassment of riches being the key to success.  Let me explain.

Barcelona had three players with unique and distinctly different styles circling this free kick.  Dani Alves who delivers powerful strikes, Lionel Messi who often curls a ball into the upper corner, and Xavi who might lob the ball over the wall onto the head of a teammate.  All different, all effective, all with certain potential to score a goal.

When attacking your marketplace, it is extremely unlikely that only one marketing initiative will be the key to success.  But fully developing three (or more) unique and distinct campaigns will provide a much greater likelihood of market penetration.  In my case, this consists of 1) eMarketing & Webinars 2) Blogging & Social Media and 3) Referrals and Cross-Selling.  Three groups, each consisting of multiple elements.  This creates a multi-dimension approach that touches prospects in a variety of ways, giving them many opportunities to respond to my messaging.

A properly executed integrated marketing campaign generates sales activity in many different ways with a variety of prospects – and hopefully leads to an embarrassment of riches for your business.

Originally Posted on April 8th, 2011 by John Scranton

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Marketing for Exponential Growth – Referrals for Incremental Growth

  • Posted on January 27, 2017
  • by John Scranton

Insurance Agency SalesEarlier this week I speaking with our CEO about the status of our referral pipeline.  We briefly discussed who we thought our best referral opportunities are and how we could best approach them.  I spent a couple of hours planning, calling and emailing clients – then I went back to work on our primary marketing channels.

For reference, those primary marketing initiatives are: 1.) eMarketing and web seminars, 2.) blogging and social media.  I invest approximately 80-90% of my marketing efforts cultivating those channels.  Referral are the third component to our strategy and occupy only 10% or so of my marketing time.  Athough important, they are third for a reason.

I believe that focusing on referrals as your primary source of new business will create limited opportunity.  Prospecting your clients sphere of infulence will deliver incremental growth.  Those of you interested in exponential growth  will need to find your most effective and efficient lead generation solutions and focus on them.

For more detailed information about this theory and its specific application to the insurance business, please view this blog entry:

Focusing on Referral Selling puts a Governor on your Agency Growth

Referrals have traditionally been a premier source of new business for insurance agencies.  When I was an agent, I loved referrals.  It was an opportunity to build my business without actually selling.  Just visiting with somebody who would likely buy.  A great tool that all salespeople need to take advantage of and cultivate consistently…

Originally Posted on March 3rd, 2011 by John Scranton

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Insurance Web MarketingProblem 1: Bullpen – The bullpen mentality has long been a fixture in the telemarketing industry.  Pile cheap labor into cubicles, toss them call sheets and say go.  Better yet, off-shore to a bullpen in India.  This creates a bevy of issues, beginning with a noisy and distracting environment.  This is not a professional representation of your business.

Solution – A professional and articulate person working from a quiet office.

Problem 2: Auto-Dialers – When a computer manages your telemarketing campaign, your prospects hear clicking, strange noises and connection delays before they hear the voice of a real person.  That is, if the call is not dropped.  To be sure, this method increases the number of dials per hour.  But at what cost?

Solution – A system of best practices which allows a caller to actually dial the phone 25 times per hour.

Problem 3: Don’t Understand Your Business – Your business and products/services/solutions are complex and nuanced.  Your unique expertise sets you apart.  If your telemarketing partner does not understand your business at both a strategic (project manager) and tactical (caller) level, your value is lost and you are simply asking to submit a bid.

Solution – Engage with a telemarketing partner who specializes in your industry.

For more information about Insurance Agency Telemarketing, please contact John Scranton johns(@)startupselling.com.

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Sales & Marketing Discipline [From the Archives]

  • Posted on July 12, 2016
  • by John Scranton

BusinessEvery great company has a key defining concept.  Something that is woven into the fabric of people, products and culture.  For example, 3M strives to use innovative technology and imagination to improve the daily lives of people (www.3m.com).  This concept becomes obvious when reviewing their history and how the company operates each day.  The immense challenge for businesses who want to achieve tremendous success like 3M, is to define that key concept – and then to make all decisions in alignment with that concept.

Successful sales cultures are often built the same way.  A truly honest assessment of how your sales time is spent, and the associated results, can be a very enlightening exercise.  Who is your best client or customer?  How did you find them?  How much of your time are you spending trying to repeat that same process?  How much time are you wasting with less productive initiatives or people who are less likely to buy?

Here are a few steps to help you complete this exercise:

  1. Define your Idea Prospect – Use your best customer as an example.  Who are they?  How big are they?  What does their industry and client base look like?
  2. Determine your Most Effective Marketing Tools – What marketing initiatives provide the best results?  Where do your closes come from?  What is producing the right kind of prospects?
  3. Refine your Marketing Plan– Once the above two items are clearly and honestly defined, make sure your marketing plan is directed at repeating the process.  Refine the plan so that it is accurately aligned with your findings.
  4. Stop doing Everything Else – This is a hard one.  But to achieve the 3M type of success mentioned earlier, it is required.  Throw away everything else that does not fit, and only spend time pursuing your best prospects and executing your most effective marketing campaigns.

It sounds simple, but if it was easy everyone would already be doing it – maintain focus on your best prospects and best marketing channels.  As your discipline to this concept increases, your results will improve dramatically.

Originally Posted on September 20, 2010 by John Scranton

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B2B Web Seminars – Get to the Point [From the Archives]

  • Posted on July 8, 2016
  • by John Scranton

Insurance Agency WebinarsI recently attended a web seminar that provided very insightful information that was relevant to my area of focus.  However, the key points of this webinar were delivered every 5 to 10 minutes and spread over an hour plus presentation.  Most business executives I know do not have the time or the patience for this model.  They would have to assign an administrative person to attend, taking the decision maker out of the equation.

Our suggestion? Get to the point.  Be professional, but be concise.  Spend 1-2 minutes teeing up your presentation, not 10 minutes.  Trim the fat of your content so only the high value material is featured in 20-30 minutes.  If the busy executive you wish to sell to needs to leave his or her desk for a bathroom break or another cup of coffee – you have overstayed your welcome on their desktop.

Action items: target your content, be mindful of your prospects time, and get to the point.

Originally Posted by John Scranton in June 2012

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Expiration Dates = Urgency [From the Archives]

  • Posted on June 24, 2016
  • by John Scranton

Insurance Agency Marketing

Never underestimate the advantage you have when selling a product with an expiration date.  Insurance producers often take this for granted when it should be viewed as a cherished closing tool.  Those of us selling marketing services, cars, computers, or real estate all have to create urgency in our prospects.  Instilling that sense is arguably the greatest challenge salespeople face.  Ex dates allow you to hurdle that fence quickly, creating ample time to focus on other elements of the sale and to execute with precision.

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