Do It! Marketing Blog: Marketing for Smart People™

Marketing Speaker: 7 Reasons You're Wasting Your Time "Following Up"

marketing speaker marketing coach sales followup

As a marketing speaker and marketing coach, I read roughly 100 marketing, sales and business development books per year. My company is 10 years old, so that makes about 1,000 books so far, give or take a few dozen. 

And in almost every one - you'll hear something similar to these bits of advice about sales follow-up:

  • "The fortune is in the follow-up"
  • "If you don't follow up 5-7 times, you'll lose the sale"
  • "Nobody ever EVER buys on the first, second, or third appointment"
  • "Most sales are made after the 8th contact, but most salespeople stop after the 3rd contact"

I have good news: This advice is horse doo-doo. (And it's probably making you needlessly tired, frustrated and depressed.

I also have bad news: This advice is STINKY horse doo-doo that is costing you face time with REAL decision-makers.

Here are 7 reasons you're wasting your time with follow-up: 

1. If you're exclusively focused on prospects who are actively SEEKING to solve the problem you're positioned to solve, you'll get their attention on the first or second attempt. If you don't - then you need more targeted and relevant prospects.

2. We're marketing in an era where everyone - including (and especially) your prospects - are lazy, busy, and befuddled. Life moves too fast for follow-up. You're either an immediate priority or you're invisible.

3. Leave non-prospects the hell alone. Continuing to "check in" for no good reason when you're in the invisible column gets real annoying real fast. You may even damage your chances at future sales when you're a current pest.

4. Decision makers make decisions. If you're stuck in follow-up hell, you weren't dealing with a real decision maker in the first place. Following up with someone with no check-writing authority is like trying to teach a Labrador Retriever to drive. It may be fun for a short time, but then someone is going to get bitten.

5. "Short attention span theater" rules the day. If you follow up with today's "hot prospect" next month, chances are excellent that your prospect will say, "Who are you again? We talked about what? When? I'm sorry - I'm just running to a meeting... Bye!"

6. Alpha dogs BUY - Sheep dogs BARK. Chances are that no matter what your product or service, if you're selling to a decision maker, that person has an "alpha dog" personality. They are a Driver (D on the DISC profile) and they make fast decisions with a very low threshold of patience for dickering, bureaucracy or delay. If you want to make a fast sale, the REAL buyer is your best ally to make that happen. Or not. But "following up" to drag out the process will simply turn them off. 

7. If you relentlessly focus on the right prospects at the right time for the right reasons, you'll spend a whole lot less time "convincing" and "persuading" fence-sitters and a whole lot more time focusing like a laser beam on the buyers who are ready, willing, and eager to do business with you. No followup needed. 

Two quick examples for you: 

Dave - The No-Followup Sales Champ

When I was working for a large enterprise software firm, I sat across from one of our top inside salespeople on the days that he and I were both in the office. Those days were a rare treat because I could overhear Dave's sales calls in between my own work and meetings. Talk about free sales training - Dave was masterful. 

Dave would call hand-selected leads who were, more often than not, Fortune 1000 Chief Information Officers (CIOs). His opening question after a 7-second introduction of his name and company went something like this: 

"I don't know if you're currently evaluating options for enterprise software but if you are, I can offer you some insights and recommendations in less than 15 minutes to help you make a better decision, whether that's with us or not. Is ERP software on your agenda for this year?"

Yes. No. Boom. He opened conversations with about 70% of these prospects. The other 30% politely disqualified themselves and he never called them again. If you're not looking to invest in this category of software BEFORE Dave called you, nothing he said by way of "follow up" would make you dig into the corporate budget and come up with an extra 1-2 million dollars, which was our average sale.

Dave made a note in his CRM database to call them next year. Sometimes he would get the same CIO. And sometimes he would connect with the new CIO because the previous guy botched the ERP installation they bought from someone else. In any case, each annual call was a qualification call - a yes/no filter and NOT a "follow up."

Colleen - The Superachiever Coach with the No-Follow-Up Sales Letter

My pal Colleen Bracken and I started our speaking and coaching businesses within a few months of each other back in 2001. In her early days, Colleen specialized in what she called "Superachiever" coaching - working with CEOs, government leaders, and other top dogs in the corporate and non-profit world. 

We worked together on crafting a "no-follow-up" sales letter. Why? Because Colleen had ZERO interest in chasing prospects and she wanted to make this clear in her sales process because she also knew that the alpha dogs she was selling to felt the same way. (See points 1-7 above!)

Here is a portion of the letter we put together: 


If you know someone [perhaps someone sitting in your chair?] who is ready to embark on the short, fast, exhilarating ride to the next level of success, STRAP IN and call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX or email We’ll set up your no-risk no-obligation 15-minute SuperAchiever coaching call. You’ll be amazed at what we can do in a quarter of an hour.

Finally, I need to answer your unasked question: Why should you work with me? After all, we’ve both been doing just fine without each other so far, right?

1. I’ve handpicked you as someone I specifically want to work with.  

2. I’m a REAL professional coach. I’ve received my PCC certification which means that I’ve studied 250 hrs, coached for 1000 hrs and have been designated by the International Coach Federation (the world governing body of the coaching profession). Only 275 other coaches (out of 35,000 coaches worldwide) in the world have met this standard.  

3. Clients I’ve worked with have had this to say about our professional relationship:  

[Three of Colleen's most powerful 2-3 line testimonials from other Alpha Dogs the recipient would respect.]

Invest 15 minutes with me – no-risk, no obligation -- then decide for yourself. What’s the worst that could happen? You spend 15 minutes getting my best ideas, questions, and tools around what you’re working on right now, and we part ways.  

Or... throw this letter straight into the recycling. Only you know if you’re ready for this personal, powerful, unique stuff and the breakthrough successes that come with it.  

-- Colleen

[Signature block]

p.s. You're working at 100mph and so am I. For this reason, I won't bother to follow up with you. In my experience, SuperAchievers make fast decisions. So I figure I’ll be hearing from you in the next 3-5 days. Or not at all.

p.p.s. It's your move. 


Between this approach in her letters, emails, and personal networking, Colleen built her extremely successful leadership coaching, training and speaking business. 

The moral of the story? Screw follow-up. You hate doing it. They hate receiving it. 

Instead, do everything in your power to market, sell, and profit from people who are eager to open the door for you when you knock!

p.s. If you'd like some personalized help - and your very own customized marketing and sales toolkit PLUS an easy-to-implement small business marketing game plan with 1-on-1 guidance for 90 days, get all the details here.

Tags: marketing speaker, marketing strategy, marketing concept, marketing book, marketing professional services, professional services marketing, marketing coach, small business marketing

Marketing Coach: 5 Keys to Buyer Persona Marketing

Marketing coach 5 keys to buyer persona marketingBuyer persona marketing is not about knowing your customers or what they like to buy. 

It's much more than that. It's about getting inside their heads to deeply understand their emotional drives.  

Many of my small business owner and solopreneur clients claim to know their customer, yet they haven't really tapped into the potential of buyer persona marketing.

Once you finish this article, you'll own the 5 keys to unlock your very own pair of X-Ray goggles to connect with your best prospects so you can sell more, more easily and more often. 

As far as small business marketing goes, you'll be stuck in the minor leagues until you realize that in order to know your customer, you must first create an archetypical buyer, based upon all the information you can glean from your past clients, prospects, and previous conversations you've had with folks who bought - and perhaps more importantly, folks who didn't buy. 

What you need to figure out is the entire person, the whole picture.  Once you begin to understand the psychological motivations and emotional triggers that make your customers buy a certain product or service, you can much more effectively market to them in a way that will put you miles ahead of your competition.

Understanding your buyers is a bit like taking apart a mechanical apparatus to see what makes it tick. 

First, you need to know what problems your buyers are experiencing on a daily basis, or how they prioritize their time and the solutions to these problems.  Your product needs to offer an emotional relief from one or more of these problems.  In short, the buyer needs to NEED your product from an emotional standpoint, and they will then justify the purchase rationally after the fact.  Humans are capable of rationalizing just about any behavior if it triggers an emotional reward.  Bank on that with your product and let your marketing follow.

Secondly, work to identify the rewards your customers gain from purchasing your product.  This ties back into the emotional reward, but try to understand exactly what the buyer gains from your product, on a very basic level.  This will help you market to that reward and toward filling your prospect's emotional gap. 

Just as you consider the rewards, also look at what the perceived barriers to success or reaching that reward are, from the customer's standpoint.  This is the part of the process where you need to understand the thought process that each customer uses to either justify their emotional reactions or to justify not buying your product. 

When you begin to build a model to break down these barriers, your product or service literally sells itself with little to no resistance from your customer.  

Third, it is crucial to understand the buying process that your typical customer goes through.  This is to say that you need to better understand each step of their emotional and rational justification for having your product in their lives.  Do they compare other products to yours in an effort to sort out which one will offer the best reward?  If so, you need to understand the other products they are comparing yours to.  It is important to align your product and marketing solutions to their process for vetting information along with the emotional connection to the problem your product is solving for them on a day to day basis.

This leads to your fourth key - your competitive analysis. Which boils down to a simple answer to a simple question: Exactly how does your product compare against others from the standpoint of the criteria that your customers develop to help them make a decision? 

These are questions that can be answered if you truly LISTEN to your customers and understand what they are telling you. 

The fifth key is personal conversations. The fastest, easiest and most enjoyable way to figure all of this out is to ENGAGE your customer base in face-to-face real time dialogue. Yes, I'm talking about personal conversations, either on the phone or in person. Think about sitting down - at least monthly - with your clients and prospects over breakfasts, lunches, coffees. Can't make it in person? Use the phone or Skype and take them to a "virtual lunch" or "virtual coffee." Shouldn't take more than 30 minutes and you'll both benefit hugely.

Why? Because you'll learn firsthand the direct path to their own interests and emotional triggers - and you'll hear it in their OWN WORDS. Use THAT language in your marketing, and it's much more likely to resonate with others just like them!

When you begin to "sync" with your buyers at the deepest and most personal level -- and how they make buying decisions -- you're on your way to effective, attractive marketing that will draw clients and customers to you like a magnet.

What do you think? Please use the COMMENTS area below to share your experiences with buyer persona marketing...

Tags: marketing speaker, marketing success, consultant marketing, marketing book, marketing professional services, entrepreneurship, professional speaker marketing, marketing coach, marketing strategist, marketing mix, doit marketing, marketing tips, buyer persona

Email Blast: Creating subject lines that pack punch


Guest column by Karen J. Bannanmarketing coach email subject lines

How long was the subject line in your most recent e-mail marketing campaign?

You may not realize it, but the number of characters you use can positively or negatively impact the success of your campaign, according to a new white paper released by direct marketing agency Epsilon.

The white paper, "Rethinking the Relationship Between Subject Line Length and Email Performance: A New Perspective on Subject Line Design," details some of the more important considerations that marketers should be thinking about, said Kevin Mabley, the company's senior VP-strategic services.

Here are four tips you can use to boost your subject line prowess.

1) Front-load your subject lines with the most important information.

It would seem like this tip is a given, but take a look at the messages in your inbox. As you'll soon see, it's a strategy that few marketers embrace. The biggest problem is with ordering information. If you've only got 38 to 47 characters-the average number of characters that show up in the subject line of 57% of all U.S. e-mail recipients' e-mail programs-you need to put the most important information all the way to the left.

Use urgency and relevance as your guide. Is your offer or newsletter timely? Put that right up front. Also, make sure your brand is in the first few words. However, if your company has multiple brands or categories underneath its umbrella, lead with what's most recognizable and important to your customer.

2) Keep the subject line as short as possible to convey the message.

Epsilon's research shows that shorter subject lines have higher click-through and open rates. Still, you don't want to go short for short's sake, Mabley said. Instead, you're looking to pack the most information you can into the smallest number of words.
And avoid words that have a sensationalist slant, such as "free" or "discount." "Don't just say '20% off your next purchase.' Your messages need to be rooted in your customers' expectations," Mabley said.

3) Don't forget to test.

This is another common suggestion, but one that still isn't heeded as it should be, Mabley said. "At the minimum, you should be performing an A/B test on every message that goes out," he said. "The general rule is you can test 10% of your list in order to figure out which option is a better one."

This is how you're going to figure out if your front-loaded data should be the brand name or the actual benefit to the recipient, and it's something that may change on a day-to-day and message-to-message basis, he said.

Your messages should also go through a spam filter so you know, on a scale of 1 to 100, how likely it is that an ISP will consider your message to be spam, Mabley said.

4) Dynamically personalize the subject line.

This is something that's simple to do, and shows that you know who you are e-mailing and what they are looking for. "Whether you use their first or last name or their company's name, it makes it more personal and provides better reception," Mabley said.

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Tags: marketing speaker, marketing book, email marketing campaign, marketing coach, marketing tips, email blasts, email newsletter