Your Virtual Success: Virtual Sales, Marketing and Presentation methods to help Your Company Grow

Insurance Agency Marketing

Your Virtual Success: 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.  Join us for this brief, complimentary web seminar as the author of Your Virtual Success, Alan Blume, discusses the following topics:

* Leveraging internet tools to grow your business faster and more profitably
* Utilizing free or low-cost online resources to hire and manage talent effectively
* How to rapidly create startup virtual businesses with lower costs and less risks

Join us for a Webinar on June 22 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, Search Engine Optimization, Small Business, Social Media, Virtual Business, Web Seminars
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Many people have contacted asking about my recent post regarding web based meetings. The question: How are you able to find quality prospects who are consistently willing to meet via the web? This has often been followed up with: Are you still able to close business? Here is the formula we use…

We initially engage with our prospects through integrated eMarketing and Web Seminar campaigns. We deliver an educationally oriented message to target prospects, including an invitation to a web seminar that will help them build their business. I make follow up calls to all those who are interested, and schedule web meetings with those who would like to speak directly.

In my experience, the most critical contact is made when you can make your prospects phone ring while they are reading your email message. Today’s technology can provide you with this info very affordably, so if you are looking, all you have to do is dial the phone. This is where I often find prospects who are ready to buy, and these are the types of prospects we strive to deliver to our clients.

Long answer, but that is the methodology I use to put myself in a position to ask for a web meeting. Over time we have also found that our prospect contacts (typically CEO’s or VP’s) prefer a brief web meeting over the time commitment of an on-site visit. We can spend 15 minutes at our own desks determining if there is a fit, and move on quickly.
The second question is very simple to answer – Yes we still close business without meeting our prospects in person. For seven years our company has operated as a completely virtual organization, conducting less than a handful of on-site meetings. In 2010, we have grown significantly (despite the economy) without leaving our virtual offices.
In conclusion – it is our opinion that you can be dramatically more effective using a virtual, web based sales methodology, and challenge each of you to leverage the available tools to grow you business by working less.

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Posted in: B2B Marketing, eMarketing, Insurance Agency Lead Generation, Insurance Agency Marketing, Virtual Business, Web Seminars
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My Virtual Success: A Life Changing Career Transition

  • Posted on June 8, 2010
  • by John Scranton

The CEO of my company, Alan Blume, recently published a book titled Your Virtual Success: Finding Profitability in an Online World.  Since he signs my paychecks, any reader of this blog would assume that a book review would likely be biased (and they would be right).  So instead, I will simply introduce the book’s content and share a personal story relating to the concepts shared in the text.

Your Virtual Success provides business people with a how to guide to virtualize your organization.  The reader is exposed to web-based cloud computing tools that allow businesses to grow faster, more profitably and with less risk.  Resources are shared showing how to hire and manage talent effectively in home-based offices without ever meeting employees in person.  This model has dramatically increased the productivity, flexibility and responsiveness of the author’s business – while also improving his lifestyle.

Now lets talk about MY virtual success.  I spent five years working as an insurance agency producer.  I enjoyed the work and was never unhappy with the requirements of the job, although my efforts gradually increased as my book of business grew.  By my last year, I was driving 40,000 miles annually.  I left home at 7am and did not return before 9pm most days.  I accepted this as the requirements of success.  My wife was very supportive, but I am sure she did not enjoy eating alone most evenings.

Fortunately, I was introduced to StartUpSelling, Inc. – a completely virtual business.  It did not take long to see this was a tremendous opportunity for both career advancement and a lifestyle upgrade.  In my new role as VP Business Development for StartUpSelling, I still spend as much time as possible trying to generate sales.  However, I am able to be significantly more productive in a 40 hour virtual week than I was in a 60 hour week on the road.  I am more responsive to clients and prospects and my closing ratios have improved.

Most importantly – I eat dinner with my wife every single night.  All other factors aside, this reward alone has made going virtual a great success for me.

If you would like to learn more about the virtual business model and how it may help you and your business, please visit Amazon or any major book retailer.  Heres to Your Virtual Success!

http://www.amazon.com/Your-Virtual-Success-Finding-Profitability/dp/1601631014/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1275918854&sr=8-1

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Posted in: B2B Marketing, Insurance Agency Lead Generation, Insurance Agency Marketing, Small Business, Virtual Business
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Over the past year, I have transitioned from 100% on site appointments to 100% web based meetings. Believe it or not, my closing ratios have actually improved over this time.

As a salesperson working in a traditional business model, I was spending most of my life on the road. Driving 35,000-40,000 miles per year and quickly becoming Jos A. Bank’s best customer as I wore out my suits, shirts and shoes. Although I was successful in generating business, there was a constant battle to improve my time management so I could focus my time on closing more business.

Now I work for a completely virtual business and all my appointments are conducted through GoToMeeting, WebEx and other cloud tools. On the road a cancelled appointment could cost me 2 hours, now a missed meeting costs me no more than 5 minutes. A poorly qualified prospect used to cost me a half day or more, now a 15 minute discussion completes the qualifying process.

The ability to instantly meet with anyone, anywhere has improved my business development efficacy tremendously. My closing ratios have improved, and I sell more business in a 40 hour virtual week than I did in a 60 hour traditional week.
Making this transition was a paradigm shift for me – and also makes me wonder who else has made or begun to make this change? If so, what percentage of your appointments have become web based?

Looking forward to your responses.

If you are interested in discussing virtual business tools and how they can improve your profitability, responsiveness and ability to attract talent please join the Virtual Business group: http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=2948539&trk=hb_side_g

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Posted in: B2B Marketing, Insurance Agency Lead Generation, Insurance Agency Marketing, Virtual Business
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My Top 5 Recently Read Business Books

  • Posted on June 4, 2010
  • by Andrew

A wise man once told me that book reviews made good blog entries.  I also read somewhere that lists were an effective way to post a blog that invoked commentary.  So we will try both here, by unveiling my Top 5 Recently Read Business Books!

  1. The Knack by Bo Burlingham & Norm Brodsky – A must read for small business people.  No nonsense advice and actionable ideas to help entrepreneurs avoid fatal mistakes and make sound decisions.  If you have a small business, or even just an idea, The Knack will provide you with an interesting perspective.
  2. Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath – Who knew brothers could collaborate to produce a high quality book?  Spinning off Malcolm Gladwell’s concept of “stickiness,” they break down what makes our ideas and communications more effective and meaningful.  Teachers, salespeople, marketing folks all should read this book.
  3. An Empire of Wealth by John Steele Gordon – Yes I know its not exactly a business book.  But Gordon provides a detailed history of the economic progress of America – from colonization to Microsoft.  He disects each and every significant economic development in the history of our great nation, delivering an important business education.
  4. Small Giants by Bo Burlingham – As you can see, both Burlingham and I have a passion for small business.  He explores successful businesses who chose to be great rather than big.  Each of the highly successful businesses profiled reached a critical point where they elected to focus on exceptional service, a premier product, happy employees, or community involvement instead of trying to become the next Wal-Mart.  I want my business to be great much more than I want it to be huge, and this book illustrates why.
  5. The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott – This book did not blow me away like each of those above, but I found the content interesting and very useful.  The New Rules provides a clear and implementable plan for sales and marketing people to adapt to new web tools.  If you are looking to expand your understanding of social media as a marketing tool, this book is for you.

Please feel free to share your thoughts or questions regarding these books.  I am also always open to recommendations to add to my read list.

Have a great weekend!

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Posted in: Insurance Agency Lead Generation, Insurance Agency Marketing, Small Business, Social Media, Virtual Business
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First, you had to have a website.  How else would prospects know you really exist?  Then you had to create a social media presence: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter etc.  Next your executives and salespeople had to start blogging, showing the world you are a thought leader in your industry.  So what is the next marketing requirement?  Video.

The incredibly steep curve of technological advancement and the presence of YouTube have made video an inexpensive and powerful marketing tool.  What better way to address your prospects than to personally deliver your value proposition?

Any agency or B2B organization can create a professional and effective marketing video to integrate with their website, blogs and social media channel.  For a relatively nominal fee, you can put a personal and genuine face on all of these cold impersonal web outlets.

I have included a link to exemplify what I am talking about.  The CEO of StartUpSelling, Alan Blume, recently published a book about virtual business.  Who is he?  What is it about?  Will it be a valuable read?  If you have 2 minutes, he can tell you:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPbQrPHo4JY

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Posted in: B2B Marketing, Insurance Agency Lead Generation, Insurance Agency Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, Virtual Business
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Before the Memorial Day holiday weekend, I posted a blog entry about my dog. By 11am I had eclisped my average daily views. Within 24 hours, my blog traffic had increased by a factor of 10.

What can we learn from this? I am interested providing discussion topics and ideas relating to the sales and marketing field – not becoming the next dog whisperer.

The key to making this communication sticky was the simple and concrete subject matter. We can all clearly relate to dog ownership and the characteristics of man’s best friend. The premise of the blog was to connect these familiar concepts with the fundamental ideas of sales and service.

Simple, concrete subject matter – and maybe a picture of your dog – will make your ideas stickier.

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Posted in: B2B Marketing, eMarketing, Insurance Agency Lead Generation, Insurance Agency Marketing, Social Media, Virtual Business
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When I was in the insurance business – this answer was simple: referrals and cross-selling. This isn’t news and won’t surprise anyone. It has always been easier to sell insurance to your existing clients or to their friends. Using each client as a center of influence to build a referral network is an excellent way to lay the groundwork of a book of business.

But where do you go next? How do you effectively supplement this tool to expand your base and diversify your book? For me, this was again no surprise: cold calling. Phone calls, physical visits, letters, you name it. Luckily I’m not shy and I could handle rejection. In retrospect, this was a very inefficient way to build my business.

Now that I have transitioned to a virtual organization and shifted my marketing strategy to an integrated approach – my best prospects and most closed sales come from an entirely different place: email opens. That’s not a misprint. If that phraseology is not something you’re familiar with (it is still relatively new to me), we define an ‘email open’ as a prospect that opens our eMarketing campaign messages multiple times. This typically indicates they have a level of interest, and I like to call these prospects immediately – a very warm call.

Referrals and cross-selling are great. They will always be useful tools in the sales and marketing world – especially in a challenging industry like insurance. Cold calling also works and is something every sales executive should experience. But I have found that the most effective and profitable solution is an integrated marketing strategy – delivered with maximum efficacy from my virtual office.

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Posted in: B2B Marketing, eMarketing, Insurance Agency Lead Generation, Insurance Agency Marketing
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My Dog is the Best Salesperson I Know

  • Posted on May 28, 2010
  • by John Scranton

I like to think that I am a capable salesperson.  I inherited the sales “gene” from my father, and I have been able to make a career of selling or helping other organizations sell.  However, a truly honest assessment shows that I am not even the most skilled sales professional in my own home.  That distinctive honor goes to my dog.  In case you are wondering, he is a three-year old hound mix named Flash.

His sales methodology is simple, and he produces consistent results.  Borrowing a few principles from my friends at Dale Carnegie – Flash is genuinely interested in others, he shows sincere appreciation, and he makes those around him feel important.  He does this with no expectation of receiving anything in return.  As long as his survival needs have been met, he is happy to invest all his time in others.

The results speak for themselves.  He literally has a fan following in our neighborhood.  He eats more bacon and steak than any dog I have ever known.  His formula for success is to provide value without expectation, and he is rewarded without fail.  Now if I could only get him to supplement his efforts with a few cold calls. 🙂

Everyone please have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend!

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Posted in: B2B Marketing, eMarketing, Insurance Agency Lead Generation, Insurance Agency Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, Telemarketing, Virtual Business, Web Seminars
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I recently read An Empire of Wealth by John Steele Gordon, a fascinating look at the history of the American economy.  One specific passage, discussing the simple brilliance of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt’s steamboat business model struck me profoundly.  Gordon writes:

“The Commodore’s business model was simplicity itself: (1) run the most efficient, lowest-cost organization possible; (2) compete fiercely by means of price […]; and (3) live up to your agreements.”

Cost-efficient, competitive pricing, keep your word – could not be clearer or more effective.  These basic principles made Vanderbilt one of the world’s wealthiest men in his lifetime.  Vanderbilt’s model stood out to me because these are the ideas that we are coincidently using to built our insurance agency marketing and lead generation business nearly 200 years later.

StartUpSelling, as a completely virtual business, pays for no infrastructure and therefore has incredibly low costs.  This in turn allows us to offer highly competitive pricing.  The last of Vanderbilt’s pillars speaks for itself, as we of course do everything possible to deliver on our promises.

In the 1800’s Vanderbilt was able to provide the greater New York City area with affordable steamboat service using his model of competitive efficiency.  Today, we are by no means as successful as the Commodore, but are employing the same principals to achieve significant growth for our business and for our insurance agency marketing and lead generation clients.

Low costs, competitive pricing, keep your agreements – three simple ideas to apply to your business.

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