Archives For permission marketing

I love Seth Godin’s book, Permission Marketing.  In my recent webinar on Gaining Access to Decision Makers, I recommended reading this in the context of demand generation events and selling with assessments.

Gaining permission requires demonstrating value.  In last week’s demand generation event we targeted business owners from the start (rather than going to IT).  Normally I recommend meeting with IT people to better understand the business before calling into higher level people…but in this case we set the stage to make this work.

We arranged for this event to be held at an upscale location, I was brought in as a speaker (Speaking on the trends of Data Security and Cybercrime), and a follow up program was designed to show business leaders in the local community what is going on with cybercrime and how local businesses are under fire.  Our goal was to show them, as reported recently in the Wall Street Journal, that security is no longer a custodial issue, but that companies must have someone at the executive level overseeing this and reporting right to the top!  This was a perfect segue into a business-level technology conversation.  No products,  no tech talk, and no Power Point slides discussing the hosting company’s profits, employees, or certifications.  Instead, we created a reason for attendees to meet us.  45 out of 50 signed up for an assessment…this is a powerful statement as to the value we delivered.

Business leaders don’t have time for sales pitches, product slinging sales calls, or interruption type marketing campaigns.  They do have time to hear about trends that affect their business, and education relevant to the success of their company.  This requires permission, and permission requires demonstrable value.

© 2011, David Stelzl

In just 60 minutes of presentation, these attendees were willing to stay and talk.  They received books, signed up for assessments, and looked forward to our next visit, a visit that would take place in their office, with a focus on their risks.  They wanted to know how to ensure that global cyber thieves would not victimize their businesses.    In fact, we gained permission to see them three times!  The first meeting was at the luncheon.  From there they agreed to invite us to their office, and finally, we had permission to see them a third time to deliver our findings from the promised assessment.  If a sales person can’t close business with three executive meetings and compelling justification from an assessment, a new sales person is needed.

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Here it is: (CLICK), a recording from yesterday’s Webex presentation on accessing decision makers…Also, over the past several webinars I have made some reading recommendations…

1. Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play: On this one I recommend the audio book…I’ve listened to this book dozens of times as he does a great job of getting down to business with busy executives that tend to give elusive answers to avoid being pinned down.

2. Made to Stick: Great book on Marketing.  I was recently talking to a young lady getting ready to head off to college for marketing – total waste of time.  Read  three or four books (this being one of them) and you’ll be way ahead of most marketing graduates.

3. Permission Marketing: Here’s another of my recommendations on marketing…I spoke about gaining permission through the demand generation / event process, and moving through the 4 meetings…these are simply practical steps of gaining permission.  Read what Seth Godin writes here and you’ll understand exactly what I am proposing in my Webinar.

4. The New Rules of Marketing and PR:  We haven’t mentioned this book yet, but it’s the third one to read on marketing.  As Social Media prevails, learn to use it in your business.

5. The House & the Cloud: I’ve mentioned this book countless times…yes it’s my book, and probably the only book specifically written to sales people on selling security technology.  You should read it…

© 2011, David Stelzl

Photo Taken By David Stelzl

Flying to Philadelphia this past week I am struck by how often marketeers interrupt my day.  The tray tables have ads, the flight magazine is almost all advertisements, and now I have to listen to the flight attendant tell me about the great opportunity I have to get a $100 annual fee credit card if I will just fill out the form as they pass through the isle.

The difference between old school marketing and educational marketing is in the message content, format, timing, and location.  Old school marketing interrupts someone’s day.  It shows up in the middle of a great movie, places pages between the start and finish of an article you’re reading, or stands in the middle of a car dealer’s lot in the form of a giant inflatable gorilla.  Who likes this stuff?  Getting an unexpected call in the middle of dinner from a credit card company, or having a lawn care company representative call your cell phone on Sunday afternoon, while you are spending time with your family, is not the way to attract new clients.

However, being invited to speak at a technology conference, and showing up with educational material vs. a product pitch, will be well received.  I remember well the day I was asked to speak at an educator’s conference in Greensboro, NC.  Attendees from the state’s major universities included technical support, IT managers, and CIOs.  My topic was security, but rather than showing up with a firewall pitch, I put together a talk on industry trends and how universities might be at risk.  With giving systems and administrative applications needed to run the business side of a school, sitting on networks shared by students downloading and sharing all kinds of pirated music and video files, and teachers hosting student projects while at the same time accessing grading systems, this was a recipe for disaster.  At the time, people hadn’t really thought through segmentation, and vLans (virtual local area networks) hadn’t yet been invented.  By taking my audience through traditional network designs, evolving risks, and recommendations on how to reduce risk, my audience now had concrete information on how to approach IT.

The results spoke for themselves.  Several organizations arranged follow up meetings with our company and we landed several very large assessment deals.  Not only did these go on to the remediation stage; the referrals fueled new opportunities in state universities all over the state.  Since these schools weren’t competing, the network of IT managers gave us entrance into numerous new opportunities without having to go through the cold-calling process.  This is network selling and doesn’t eat into anyone’s personal time.

© 2011, David Stelzl

Based on some of the follow up questions I received following Wednesday’s Webex on Effective Demand Generation I thought it might be helpful to add these points:

0. Don’t let the irritated, over-worked executive frustrate you or stifle your marketing plans…

1. Marketing, while considered to be very artsy, is very scientific.  Learn what motivates people, what turns them off, what causes them to be judgmental, and what creates open-mindedness.

2. The goal is to gain permission to continue the sales process.  Study Seth Godin’s book Permission Marketing for more insight on this.  Godin does a great job of explaining why marketing cannot be interruption driven, using mailings and billboard type selling.  This fits well with a consultative selling approach.  Events like we are describing here are just one step in gaining permission to consult and advise with decision makers.

3. Persuasion is an important concept.  I like the definition from our home school curriculum, “Guiding truth around other’s mental road blocks.”  Truth implies honest delivery of a client’s situation and your ability to improve it.  Roadblocks exist simply because the 95% you call on don’t really understand the issues like you do.  Demonstrate a need for risk mitigation or operational efficiency and you’re on your way to helping them.

4. Finally, remember that executives need your input.  Don’t shy away from communicating value.  Thousands of incompetent sales people have addressed this group in past meetings and phone calls, so don’t be surprised if there is some convincing to do up front.  If you have prepared properly, you are doing them a favor by contacting them.

© 2011, David Stelzl

Continuing on with Habit 2 thinking, how does this apply with events and seminars?

When I conduct Data@Risk seminars, I am presenting educational material to business leaders, helping them establish better business practices that will better serve their customers and protect their company’s intellectual capital.  This has value in and of itself, but it does not lead to many sales without a game plan.  I’ve designed my keynote to guarantee three execute meetings, not just one.  The first meeting comes through the educational event.  My material is written to help business level people understand the risks, see why they may not be experiencing security violations when in fact they probably are, and finally to agree that it is important that they at least look to see if they have some of the more surreptitious security violations in progress within their applications.  I use marketing concepts to create urgency here, driving a certain reaction.  Knowing what I know about today’s cybercrime makes it easy to accomplish this because there really is a need!

The next two meetings follow.  Using Habit 2 thinking, I work with my client to develop a follow up assessment process that scales to fit the opportunity.  Some prospects are worth spending a great deal of time with, others not so much.  The discovery process requires executive involvement; if they don’t show up, we discontinue the process and continue the marketing effort until they do.  Once they agree to involvement (which is minimal by design), we go through the process identifying urgent issues.  Meeting three comes in at the time of delivering our findings.  Again, if the executive does not show up, we withhold the information (Since it is complementary, we can do that.)  Most often, those who agree to participate upfront will also avail themselves to the deliverable review.  By knowing ahead how we will get people signed up, how the follow up discovery process will be conducted, and how the deliverable will be presented, we can predict some level of success that is commensurate with our effort.   But it all starts with building the follow up program before the event ever begins.

© 2011, David Stelzl

If you’ve read Stephen Covey’s classic on life management, Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, you may remember habit 2, Beginning with the End In Mind.  This is key to any great sales call, marketing event, or other demand generation activity.  Having done many executive luncheons, one of my clients’ first questions is always, how many people should we invite.  On their mind is, “How many can we attract”.  My first question back is usually, “How many can you effectively follow up?”

Obviously there are the preparations that take place before a call, but what happens after you present?  Do you have a planned ending to your meeting that leads to, what Seth Godin terms, Permission?  And more importantly, do you have the bandwidth to stay on top of everyone who responds to your “program”?   Going in without a plan is like going in with a plan to waste your call list.

© 2011, David Stelzl

 

They all say they’ve got it covered…no one does!  Here is a summary article from one of my contacts at DiData…great info, thanks Matt.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37115813/ns/technology_and_science-security/#storyContinued

Summary:

  • “Our systems are probed thousands of times a day and scanned millions of times a day,” – speaking of government defense systems…
  • “We are experiencing damaging penetrations — damaging in the sense of loss of information. And we don’t fully understand our vulnerabilities,” – Now I feel safe!
  • Hackers have already penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and have stolen intellectual property, corporate secrets and money, according to the FBI’s cybercrime unit. In one incident, a bank lost $10 million in cash in a day. (Yet your clients all have it covered!)
  • “We’re talking about terabytes of data, equivalent to multiple libraries of Congress.” – (But those in the SMB don’t need to worry – right!)
  • United States military would need to prepare for fallout from a cyber attack, which could leave cities in the dark or disrupt communications. – (If you don’t offer DR planning, you might reconsider)

When your clients say, “We’ve got it covered”, remember, most are just ignorant, some are lying.  Don’t take no for an answer – instead educate them on what is really going on, and drive forward with the sale.  Take advantage of my latest ebook on selling through assessments… it’s free!  http://www.stelzl.us/training/CreatingSales.pdf

© David Stelzl, 2010

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