The Beginner's Guide to Blogging


Blogging doesn't come naturally to everyone. So if you think you don’t have what it takes, you can relax.

With nearly 40% of US companies using blogs for marketing purposes, it is safe to conclude that blogging is to business what cheese is to hamburger, what beer is to Superbowl, what controversy is to Miley Cyrus, what.. well, you get the picture. 

If you've been giving blogging the cold shoulder until now and wish to make peace with it, you need to read and follow this blog post right now.


What you will need for this exercise (in no particular order)

  1. A blogging platform- where else are you going to post it, right?

  1. Friends/ connections to share it with - how we wish search engines were generous enough to automatically list our blogs on the first page of search results for everyone to read! However, as long as that isn’t happening, we continue to share our blogs on social for maximum readership (AND search engine rankings, of course).

  1. Good eye for research - apart from a flair for writing (natural or developed), this is a must-have for any aspiring blogger. More on this later.

  1. Good intent - of course, everyone knows that blogging is a subtle form of advertising and the expected end result is ROI. However, this is no reason why you shouldn't be writing stuff that will benefit your audience in some way.  

  1. Sense of humor (it’s a bonus) - a sense of humor is like the garnish of grated cheese and red sauce on your spaghetti and meatballs. Just like the right garnishing  can tantalize your senses, a little dash of humor can make your blogs much more appetizing.










Generating a blog topic


  1. List posts: One of the first hurdles to blogging is generating the right topic. For starters I’d recommend you stick to list posts. Examples of lists post: 5 tips to turn leads into sales, 6 steps to master personalized selling,  etc. You could take a cue from Buzzfeed, which does an excellent job of making list posts.


  1. Depend on keywords: Blogs are usually written around keywords. Keywords are words that are often searched for by your audience. You can use any of the free keyword tools like Wordstream, Google keyword tool or the Bing keyword tool.


  1. Resort to social media hashtags/news feeds: I like to personally start my day with a healthy dollop of social media. Why? Because over time I have realized that the trendiest and most happening news and discussions happen first on social sites. I choose to follow people and influencers from my field which let me understand what the others are talking about. Oftentimes, these blogs serve as an inspiration for a new post.
  1. Newsjacking: Close on the lines of the previous point, newsjacking means to catch on to the most “trending” topic currently and using that as a base for your new post. Your trending topic may not necessarily be related to your industry, but with a little cleverness  you might find a way to relate the two.


  1. Something that you feel your prospects need but your company hasn’t covered yet? No matter how often your company blogs, there is the possibility that some general topic area has been missed. Find out what it is and get crackin’ on it.  


Creating an outline


  1. Feel free to write anything that comes to your mind when you first pick your topic.
If you are anything like me, then having your topic out of the way is like accomplishing the biggest hurdle in this whole process. Once you have that in place, feel free to jot down whatever you can think of related to that topic. You don’t need to focus in on any specific aspect of your topic yet, just jot down whatever strikes you. If you’re falling short of ideas,  have a random conversation with colleagues/friends/ family about the topic, you’ll be surprised by what you get.   


If I choose to write about Christmas and I sell Christmas decor, I’d probably choose a topic like “How to decorate your house for the holidays”
Possible general topics: which things to put up first, halloween decor, christmas ornament, decorative lightings, how to save time on decorating tree, wrapping gifts, funky sofa furniture covers, faux floral arrangements.   


  1. Create a flow
The points jotted above are a kickstart to your writing. The next step requires you to choose the ones that are most relevant to your topic and discard the ones that aren't. (Tip: Don’t discard all of them, some of them can be developed into a whole new post in the future). Arrange the points sequentially in order to keep a flow for your readers. Jot down every related topic randomly, arrange them in a sequence.


  1. Research
Make sure to do plenty of research when you start writing about anything, even if you are a subject matter expert. When you research, you are going to come across stuff that you may have missed or a point of view that you hadn’t known before. Another benefit that research offers  is adds greater depth to your content. Google is your best bet for researching purposes. However, depending on what you want to blog about, you can also access research articles and ebooks from Aberdeen, Forrester, Ezine Articles, google scholar, etc.  

The draft
Once you have got your topic, outline and research in place, you are done with most of the hard work.


Now you need to articulate your thoughts and connect the dots. This isn’t as hard as it seems.
You will often find that you have a lot on your mind, but when you write it down, it doesn’t make sense. Happens all the time. Yes, even to the best of bloggers. The only way to get out of it is to keep writing till you are satisfied with what’s on paper. Don’t be too hard on yourself the first few times (note: by first few times, I mean at least a few months till you actually start liking what you write).


Here are some tips to help you blog effectively. A common error that most bloggers do, is to publish the blog without proofreading it. By doing this, you could be committing the gravest error in the blogging world. You need to proofread your post at least twice, before you pass it on to a trusted friend or colleague to proofread it for you one last time. No one likes to read poor grammar with punctuation in the wrong place. This will only deflect attention from your messaging to your grammar.

The key to being a successful blogger is to stay consistent and being passionate about what you blog about.


“Successful blogging is not about one time hits. It’s about building a loyal following over time.” - David Aston


“If you want to continually grow your blog, you need to learn to blog on a consistent basis.”- Neil Patel

“The currency of blogging is authenticity and trust.” -Jason Calacanis

First Impressions Last | How to Secure a Second Sales Meeting



Research says that you need about 8 meetings or follow-ups before a lead is closed; but the first meeting plays a key role in determining if you will get a chance to meet the prospect again. Even the most seasoned salespeople know there is no clear rulebook for a perfect first sales meeting. That said, we have put together a bunch of tips that you could use to make the most of your first client meeting.

Research, research, research

Before you meet with a prospect, do your homework and gather whatever knowledge you can about them. Understand the challenges faced by the industry  that your prospect is a part of. Then move on to study your prospect company in detail. Spend time on their website, social media pages, read about them online and see how your services can truly add value to them.

References and testimonials

Providing relevant testimonials and references will go a long way in building trust. When I say relevant testimonials, I’m referring to testimonials from your clients who are from the same industry vertical as your prospect, or have opted for the same product or service that your prospect is considering investing in. It is best if the testimonial is objective, and talks about how you added value to your clients in very quantitative terms.

Avoid jargon

Avoid technical slang when talking to your prospects. They are more likely to trust you when they understand what you are saying.

Maintain professionalism

Always dress professionally, arrive before the time of the meeting. If you arrive a bit too early, use any extra time you may have to learn more about your prospect’s business and style of working by observing their office.

When you talk

During the course of your interaction with the prospect, make it apparent that you have done your homework. You have invested your time and effort in learning more about your prospect, their business vertical and challenges...help them realize this--subtly. It sends the message that you truly care about adding value to them.

It doesn't have to be boring

Once you find that you have reached a certain comfort level with your prospect, talk to them about something other than business. It could be anything-- family, hobby, sports, charity, travel, etc. Why? It helps build trust, and then of course, knowing that you both play golf at the same club, or volunteer with the same organization will make it easier to develop a business relationship.

Listen

During your first meeting with a prospect, your goal should be to understand them, their business and their challenges. This involves asking your prospects a lot of questions and listening for answers. Even if you know exactly what challenges your prospect is facing and how you can help resolve them,  hearing out your prospects completely will convince them that you truly “get it”.

Never bad mouth a competitor or another client

You are not the only one who has done their research. Your prospect would have also consulted your competitors and may even point out that they are cheaper, or offer products or services that fit them better. At that point if you feel like bad-mouthing your competitor, bite your tongue. Instead state the facts--how are you different?

Your sales presentation deck

Your sales presentation is your best ally during the first client meeting. An ideal sales deck is short, but provides all the key information about the presenter’s company and their product or service. Your sales deck should have about eight to ten slides with the first being a cover slide with your logo and company name, the second giving a brief introduction of your company, and the third should include key client names and logos. The fourth slide can list your services or products, with a slide or two totally dedicated to your key offerings. Finally, include three short testimonials from your happy clients. Your closing slide can contain a message thanking your prospect for their time, followed by your contact details including your web address, e-mail, phone number, office address and links to all your social media pages.

What next?

Close your meeting with a clear discussion of the next step that should follow. If possible, try to  schedule a follow-up meeting immediately. Once you are out of the prospect’s office, send them an email that summarizes your discussion and lists the action items for the next steps.


If they don’t close immediately, you can add them to a lead nurturing drip and continue to stay connected until the time they are ready to make a purchase decision.

The first client meeting is always a little tricky, as that is your first and probably only chance to shine and impress your prospect with what you have to offer. Make sure you go into it armed with enough information about your prospect, their business vertical, challenges and of course, a positive outlook.

To learn more, visit Mindmatrix.

From Marketing Campaigns to Sales Leads | 5 Tips to Turn Leads into Sales



Your marketing team has spent hours putting together that witty campaign with those beautiful graphics to target your new potential customers. It’s been emailed, tweeted, blogged and Facebooked. What next?  How do you know which of your audience members are tuned-in to your signal and are ready to buy? 

It’s no secret that lead closure rates reflect as much on the performance of marketing as they do on sales behavior, so whether you are in sales or marketing, you need to know how leads generated by marketing translate into sales dollars.

This blog post provides  five tips that can help you translate your marketing campaigns into qualified sales leads.

1) The basics...
Do you know the difference between a lead type that is marketing qualified as opposed to sales qualified or sales ready?

Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)
A Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) is a prospect who has displayed some interest in your offering. This could be deciphered by way of their behavior, (for example: multiple visits to your website, opening every email, etc.) However, you can’t say for sure how deep their interest runs.

Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs)
A Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) is a prospect who meets the sales team’s minimum requirements to be accepted as a lead by them.  What does this mean?  It means this lead has “consumed” enough of your marketing material to show that they have a serious interest in your products or services and they have a definite need for your product, but they aren’t ready to make a purchase just yet.  This is a lead your sales team will attempt to nurture in order to transition into the next phase: The Sales Ready Lead. 

Sales Ready Leads (SRLs)
A Sales Ready Lead (SRL) is a prospect who is definitely an SQL, but for some reason is  not ready to make a purchase.  By this phase you’ve confirmed the lead has a need for your product and budget in place to commit to a purchase. So, there may be some other reason they have not transitioned into a customer.  Perhaps they are still looking at your competitors or need further incentive to finally commit to buying. 

Knowing the differences between these leads is critical, because your sales team’s time will be wasted pursuing prospects that have very little interest, or the budget, for your products.  An MQL should NEVER be passed directly to sales because it’s a sheer waste of the sales team’s time and it only reflects poorly on marketing when they don’t close. SQLs should NEVER be ignored when they don’t close, instead they should be groomed until they become SRLs. The key to determining how they should be treated lies in knowing which category your leads fall into.

2) Do your homework
Do you know the current MQL-Sales Ratio that exists in your organization? Simply put, the MQL-Sales ratio tells you how many leads actually closed out of the total leads that marketing qualified as worth pursuing. The smaller the difference between the two figures, the higher the quality of leads being passed through to sales.   

3) Work on MQLs...
Most MQLs need work. An MQL needs to be nurtured before they become SQLs. Nurturing is the process of educating the lead about your offering and gradually letting them know how your product addresses their needs.

4) Score your leads
You will need a good lead scoring platform that will help you effectively categorize your leads into MQLs/SQLs/SRLs, objectively, based on their behavior and attributes.  Without such a system in place, it will be impossible to tell where prospects fall in the MQL to SRL spectrum. 

5) Get a single view of your leads
At times there’s a mismatch between how marketing and sales teams perceive the same lead. As a result, the leads that marketing sends to sales are rejected by sales. Giving your marketing and sales teams a single, unified view of your leads will help keep everyone on the same page with respect to lead classification. This also enables marketing and sales to work together to identify the key attributes and behaviors that lead to any specific classification, thus giving both teams a common yardstick.

The verdict
To successfully translate your marketing campaigns into sales leads, there needs to be complete integration between your marketing and sales teams.  Each team needs to understand the process of how a prospect is moved from one stage of the sales funnel to the next in order to ensure your sales team knows which leads to focus on to close those deals NOW.

Survival of the Fittest - Sales teams need to adapt, or get left behind


Thanks to Mr. Darwin, everyone is familiar with “survival of the fittest.”  Those who don’t adapt to changes in their environment may not thrive and succeed. Nowhere is this truer than in the business environment.
Despite this, we see a lot, and I mean a lot, of people slow to adapt to the fast changes in sales due to technology.
Take sales for example.  Over the years sales reps have earned a somewhat negative reputation for being slow to pick up on what’s happening around them.
New sales tools? --No thanks, I prefer my Filofax and phone book.
New software? --I want to continue using my CRM.
Social Media? --Why can’t I just call my prospects?
Lately though, we are noticing a few changes. Sales leaders are advocating the need for reps to be quicker to adopt new trends.
The reason?
Prospects that are adopting digital technologies are leaving sales behind. Very suddenly, a salesperson is no longer the primary source of product knowledge. Tech savvy prospects are picking up new trends, discussing new markets and buying the most talked about things among their peers before salespeople  even know they exist They are faster and smarter than they once were. This phenomenal rise among smart buyers has occurred in just the last few years.
What does that mean?
It means that there is a need, a burning need, for sales reps to become smarter and faster adopters of whatever the internet throws at them. Yes, the internet. The rampant creation and consumption of information across the web has resulted in less time for a sales rep to make an impact on buyers. Your traditional buying cycle does not look like it used to. It is shorter with far less opportunity for sales involvement.
What is the solution to this?
The foremost idea to understand is that you need to become friends, best pals rather, with the internet.
You can-
And moreover, acknowledge the evolution of sales by enabling your reps the right way.  Enabling the sales team is your best bet in the long run. This will help them to outpace the buyer and get re-involved in the sales race.
With changing buying trends, your sales teams’ needs are also changing. Are you effectively addressing those changes? Or are you getting by solely with your traditional methods?
Stop denying evolution. Enable your reps to survive this changing world of sales.
Join Sales Enablement thought leader Craig Nelson in enabling your sales teams effectively, in this webinar http://bit.ly/ZAUFmy on October 30, 2014.