Six Sales Tips You Can’t Be Without

Blog, Business skills

Sales skills aren’t just the domain of the sales team in your organisation. Sales skills can explain the logic or benefits of your perspective to another colleague, customer or employer. It’s just another aspect of communication.

Yes – sales skills can win new business, but these skills are also applicable to many other aspects of professional life, such as going for a job interview, gaining new investment, nurturing customer relationships, networking and more.

Selling yourself can seem unnatural and weird, but it’s a skill you should learn to master.

Selling Yourself Effectively

When you go for a new job, don’t simply measure yourself against a position description or the company in question. Instead ask those who know you well about your unique strengths, something that you do without even realising it, that’s immensely beneficial to you. Employers will jump at the chance to employ someone with a distinctive skill set, rather than someone who simply lives up to a standard.

The Nuts and Bolts of Sales

In terms of traditional sales and winning new business, you should follow these guidelines in the early stages. In your project notes or simply in your mind’s eye, make an objective for a particular meeting with the client. Having a clear goal in mind when you have meetings, will avoid the pitfalls of vague communications and interactions. Some examples of goals for meetings include: 1. Getting a description of the customer’s problem. 2. Getting the contact details of the decision maker. 3 Asking for the customer’s business.

Sales does not need to be cheesy. It can instead be authentic and real…but beware of setting off any bullshit-o-meters. Be real.

Green Lights and Qualifiers

Look for subtle hints and green lights from the client, that it may be the right time to close. This is done by qualifying them with questions like: How does that sound? How would that work? What do you think about that? Then summarise your proposed offer with them. It’s 100% true that half of the battle is won by you being completely confident in your solution.

Be Tenacious

Prompt: Be a go-getter and jump onto sales leads quickly. If you intuit that the time is right to close a sale, then they do so right then and there.
Persist: If you know that the customer needs that particular solution, then be persistent and yet flexible in your offering to them. Although there’s a difference between persistence and being annoying, so be careful.
Focus: Use every sales opportunity to improve your skills at communication and proactive questioning. Then channel every new experience into your next sales opportunity.

Embracing your inner weirdo (in other words your authenticity) is a way to really stand out from the masses.

Customer Centric Selling

One critical aspect of selling is intimately knowing the customer’s needs, motivations and perspective. Otherwise your efforts will be pointless. This is perfectly articulated in a Ted Talk by Amy Lockwood. She explained a situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where charity and NGO organisations were distributing huge numbers of condoms in the region to prevent the spread of HIV. However these charity condoms were incredibly unpopular, as they were marketed in the wrong way to their target audience. Pictures on the packaging depicted images of fidelity and the HIV ribbon symbol. They found that condom brands from the West depicting erotic imagery were the biggest sellers in the Congo.

The key message we can take from this, is that any customer solution that you offer must be fine-tuned and customised to the individual or group in question. Otherwise it will fall on deaf ears.

Watch the TED talk here:

Dense Versus Sparse Networks

Dense business networks of people contain individuals who know each other closely and have a lot of interconnected relationships. Dense networks are ideal for people working on the same project, such as researchers or project teams.

In the realm of sales – dispersed networks of people work in your favour.

However in terms of sales, dispersed networks work better. Dispersed networks occur when individuals that you know, don’t know each other. This is the ideal situation for getting fresh or unique information that others don’t know about, for example a sales lead. To attempt to utilise your sales network, try and build a network of key decision makers in prospect organisations. Also, keep a network of existing customers, who often comprise of fans and brand advocates. These people will actively promote your brand on your behalf, and give you new sales leads on a plate without you even asking.

Seven content creation tips for startups and freelancers

Seven content creation tips for startups and freelancers

Blog

Your website is a central hub and locus where people can engage with your business. Although it can also be a benign and wasted opportunity depending on how you manage changes to the website. Although making changes to the website can be baffling if you don’t know where to start. But don’t worry! Here are seven areas where you should focus your efforts to ensure that you’re making the right changes to your site, and not just aimlessly pushing pixels around.

1. Feedback, feedback, feedback

Customer feedback is gold. Collate your feedback from focus groups, phone conversations, the CRM, salespeople, social media and the website itself. Even when the feedback is negative, it provides the nuts and bolts to become better at your product or service. Take this feedback and use this to build and improve a digital services strategy and a marketing strategy. Use this feedback to improve customer service, customer satisfaction and improving products and services..

2. Keep on top of FAQs

Likewise, you should look upon your FAQs section as a work in progress. Look at questions that your customers have asked you recently through email, telephone and in person. What are the burning questions they want to know about? Build the FAQs around these questions. Always keep them up to date with information and further queries. If repeated questions aren’t being addressed with the FAQs, then you will likely require a full-blown content strategy in order to explain the information to customers.

3. Competitor’s websites offer cautionary tales

Investigate what your competition are offering to their customers. Can you see a gap in the market where they are under-performing or under-delivering on their services or products? Use these lessons to modulate and improve your own offering. Where you see the gaps is a place to provide a superior and high value offering which may mean their clients come to your business instead.

Seven content creation tips for startups and freelancers
When it comes to content marketing and design – everything is connected

4. Your website is not finished, it’s a testing ground

The main way that you can investigate the efficacy of different products and services on your site is by analysing the traffic and conversions through Google Analytics. There is no definitive end-point where everything is hunky dory and working fine. Your site is a work in progress that requires constant analysis and then shifting the goal posts according to how people use your site. Broad changes to the design and navigation on your site should be undertaken by skilled developers and UX specialists who will know how to make the site user-friendly, and how to optimise the page elements for conversion.

5. Information should be free

Don’t withhold information from customers and ask them to pay for an ebook or webinar behind a paywall. Instead your blog and web presence should provide insider tips on how you can do things better for free. By sharing knowledge and techniques for free, you will win over your customers with your candid and honest help.

Don’t try and obfuscate or confuse users….clear and simple communication is everything

6. Case studies are gold

Provide customer case studies about how you have helped clients in the past. This will give your potential new clients an overview of your workflow, working style, and a clear roadmap about how you helped clients in the past with practical, measurable outcomes.

Position your brand with storytelling from previous customers

7. Use your blog to position yourself as a thought leader

Definitely it’s good to share your personality and stories with your clients. But they don’t want to hear about your trip to Brisbane in March or the fact that your dog is sick on your business blog. Don’t overshare personal information with clients on your website in order to build rapport. People visiting your site will either be left baffled or indifferent to a blog with personal reflections on it.  Instead use your website to position yourself as a thought leader and feature advice, tips and support on your site which people will find useful and interesting.

Is your content working hard and producing good enough results for your business? Find out with a free content audit!

The Strategic Content Marketing Stack 2019

The Strategic Content Marketing Stack 2019

Blog

I recently put together a stackable model for strategic content marketing for clients which places a heavy focus on content marketing. This allows clients to see at a glance how all of the strategic planning and execution phases of a marketing strategy work together and inform the later stages. It’s difficult when putting together proposals for clients for them to visualise how all of the pieces fit together. This content marketing stack attempts to do this.

I recently put together a stackable model for strategic content marketing for clients which places a heavy focus on content marketing.

There is an intensive focus on content marketing for good reason, because content – whether it’s paid, earned or owned is the foundation of all marketing activity.

Think of your website as a hotel you own

If we think of the marketing stack as a hotel building, the design, development, UX and maintenance of websites and apps are the concrete pillars, outer walls and structural integrity of the building. The chaos outside of the building is kept at bay by the sound management and security of our hotel.

Think of your website as a hotel you own
Think of your website as a hotel you own

The navigability through the building and way-finding through the building and attention to detail is the UX, IA and interface design. This ensures our guests find their way through the building, towards the various amenities and service offerings.

The website content is the reception desk, tourist information, customer service, sales team, marketing team, HR and general manager. It’s the heart and soul of a business – the human side. Content is the memorable experiential side which makes one business stand out from another. After all, you can have the nicest hotel in the world, but if the staff are rude or incompetent, you won’t have buckley’s chance of getting repeat guests. It’s the same with content. When it’s not performing as it should, or when the meaning and intention of your content is not clear – your users will go elsewhere.

Content is the foundational marketing principle from which everything else in a website flows…

I hope I haven’t taken this metaphor too far, and I hope you get my drift. Content is the foundational marketing principle that helps a business to grow from original concept to start-up to multi-national brand.

Register now for a free content audit of your website

Ten Great Ways to Optimise your Landing Page for Conversion

Blog

By Athena Dennis 

No matter what kind of business you’re in, your website needs to effectively sell your offerings.

Organisations that deliberately and consciously invest in conversion optimisation are twice as likely to see a boost in sales.

However the reason many businesses don’t, is that they are far too focused on BAU – the business as usual syndrome.

When more pressing tasks need to be addressed right now, then optimising the home page of your website takes a backseat. Although what could be more important than ensuring your website visitors convert into sales?

In this article we will explore research into conversion optimisation and UX and how your business can implement some fixes to increase customer conversion. 

1. Use product videos on your landing page

Recent research by HubSpot found that using a self-explanatory product video on your landing page can increase conversion of 144%. 

Ten Great Ways to Optimise your Landing Page for Conversion

2. Create multiple landing pages for your products and services

Landing pages can be tailored and customised to your Pay Per Click advertising. Put yourself in the website visitor’s shoes.

If a website visitor clicks on a Google Ad and gets forwarded to your home page, not to a page that directly relates to the ad – will this visit convert? Most likely no.

That’s because when someone clicks on an ad, they are after a specific product or service on your website. They don’t want to read all about your other offerings or your staff or blog posts – that’s irrelevant to them. Instead they want to be taken to a page that will give them pricing and everything they need to purchase, with the minimal effort, if they don’t get this information easily – they leave. 

Tailoring your landing pages to have the same content as your PPC ads is really important. 

3. Keep the headline simple and related to your USP

You only get 0-8 seconds to tell a compelling story with website visitors. If your headline isn’t good enough, people will abandon their session.  

A great way of ensuring you have the best headline is to split test your landing page’s headline for different visitors, to see which one works best.

Headlines should be short, make an impression quickly and tap into the pain points of the customer and how the product or service alleviates these pain points. 

Here are some examples

Ten Great Ways to Optimise your Landing Page for Conversion
Airbnb
Ten Great Ways to Optimise your Landing Page for Conversion
Treehouse

4. Keep your call to action above the fold

Whether you decide to use an opt-in form or a button to gain conversion, keep this prominently placed. 

‘Above the fold’ means that the content is visible to website visitors before they have to scroll down the page. This technique is obvious for the brand landing pages mentioned in the previous section. 

5. Make sure that your images and graphics mean something

Using stock photos on your home page without any context and direct relationship to your products or services isn’t good enough anymore. 

So how do you correlate stock images to your own brand? You could superimpose a customer testimonial or short quote from a customer over the top of your stock image to make it relevant. 

When I advised one of our clients how to optimise their landing page, this resulted in highly relevant and engaging landing page at very little additional expense.  

6. Use the landing page to overcome common obstacles to purchase

Ten Great Ways to Optimise your Landing Page for Conversion

Firstly, do a bit of market research into the kinds of reasons why prospective customers may be turned off from purchasing from your business. 

These reasons may be manifold, but if you can resolve some of these doubts on the home page, then you should use this opportunity to do so. 

If your product is largely unknown and also highly priced, in your headline, you should allay website visitor’s concerns by clearly mentioning the 30 day money back guarantee in your headline. 

If your product is in a controversial vertical, such as clothing made in Bangladesh, you could have a video on your home page showcasing the production process. You could use the homepage as an opportunity to allay customers’ concerns about the ethical standards of this workplace and the workers’ rights. 

7. Make opt-in forms easy and breezy to complete

As a web user yourself, you will understand the frustration of completing an opt-in form that seems to have a thousand fields. 

So make it easier for your website visitors by only asking them for the very bare minimum of information. Their name, email and telephone will do. 

8. Use a ‘chat now’ pop-up plug-in

According to the VWO blog adding a chat now plugin is estimated to increase customer signups by 31%! A simple pop-up can be answered by a chat-bot initially and then forwarded for human interaction to the website content manager. 

Ten Great Ways to Optimise your Landing Page for Conversion

9. Add testimonials to your home page

Testimonials and customer recommendations are worth their weight in gold for gaining more customers. Ensure that you use these prominently on your landing page in an interactive or automatic slider. 

​ 10. Make your CTA button the most prominent and obvious element on the page

Split test the copy for your call to action button and also the colour of the button itself. One study showed that simply changing the button colour to red increased conversion. 

There are many factors that impact the conversion rate for a website. You can get a comprehensive assessment of your brand messaging, marketing and communications needs for your landing page by getting in touch with me on +61 3 9028 7745 or hello@athenacreativeweb.com

Register now for a free content audit…

Eight sassy design principles that underpin great web design projects

Blog

Here are eight core fundamentals that tend to underpin website design and development work. Although take these with a grain of salt. Perhaps, if you’re in the mood, add some lemon and vodka which tends to add further creative fuel to design projects.

1. Be innovative

The best graphic design pushes the boundaries and involves critical thinking about approach and UI. It’s always a good idea to stay abreast of changes to industry standards and then know when to break the rules too.

2. Start with a problem

All design from graphic design to web design to industrial design, should take a problem and solve it. Think in terms of UX and the presentation of information. Make sure that the content on the site is useful to human visitors. And also useful to robots parsing the site. SEO and exceptional content are equally important to good design and should work hand in glove.

3. Be unobtrusive

Keep the design as simple, clean, unobtrusive as possible. Create systems and navigation that are transparent and simple to use. The best design doesn’t scream out for attention, but is subtly beautiful. It announces itself with a whisper and a murmur.

4. Understand aesthetics

Space and Grid: Information on websites should be ordered in a logical way for the eyes of visitors. Work the white space really carefully.

Typography: Keep it tight with only three different types in a maximum of six sizes used throughout the site.

Colour Choices: Keep in mind colour choice, along with integration of an overall brand identity. There’s an intricate psychology to colour choice in design. It’s important to be aware of that.

5. Keep the end goal in mind

Don’t obfuscate the website or design by adding too many elements. Have one call to action. Then neatly and simply guide the user towards this through the design.

6. Design for a long shelf life

Great web design and graphic design employs classic design principles and isn’t faddish or fashionable. You should use a flexible template that can be changed or modified with new content, images and other small modular iterations. It should be mobile-first and driven by the user experience, rather than pushing an obvious agenda. Future-proofed design looks beautiful on all devices. It uses HTML and CSS that’s easy to read and change as required.

7. Build integrity

The purpose of design is to be open, honest and provide everything that a user needs. A great user experience provides all of the sign posts, guidance and help that is required for the user to achieve clearly defined conversion goals on the website. The purpose of design isn’t just about creating the ‘wow’ factor. It’s also practical and helps visitors to reach a specific goal (or conversion) or to gain a deeper understanding into a subject.

8. Aim to fail fast, and pick yourself up

In order to completely capitalise on your skills, you need to fail fast and early on. Sounds rather counter-intuitive but it’s really not.

James Dyson of the bagless vacuuming empire failed with his prototype vacuum 5,127 times before perfecting his bagless model. Through an iterative process of trial and error he eventually made it. This required some grit, perseverance, determination on his part. In order to succeed, one needs to fail over and over again.

Agile Project Management 101 teaches us that failing fast and early on is a low-risk strategy. This means a project may be more likely to ‘break on through to the other side’ and succeed.


Did you enjoy this journey into inspiring design? Then find out if your content assets are working as well as they should, with a FREE CONTENT AUDIT for your business!

Claim your free content audit below…