Industry Intelligence Summer Concert Blog Series: Wisdom from Billy Strings

Summer is here, and Vertical IQ is getting in on the fun by kicking off our Industry Intelligence Summer Concert Blog Series! Over the coming weeks, we will share some great songs that help demystify Industry Intelligence. Join us for tips on the value of Industry Intelligence, discover some new musical artists, and reminisce on the oldies!

I spent this past Friday and Saturday night seeing my favorite new artist, Billy Strings, in Cary. Billy is a Grammy Award-winning guitarist and singer whose eclectic Bluegrass style also incorporates elements of rock and even heavy metal.

As I was listening to his song, “Know It All” — Listen to it here! — it got me thinking about how in business, we can get too comfortable and maybe think we know it all. The lyrics say, in part:

Well all I know is everything I’ve learned
And if I’m changing that’s the reason that I’ll turn
Into someone I can trust, ‘fore I turn back into dust
There’s an answer but I wouldn’t be concerned

Well I thought I knew it all, ’til I crashed into the wall
Let me learn from my mistakes and try to pick up all the pieces

Building trust with Industry Intelligence

You and your organization have been working in your community forever. You know everyone … and they know you. Over the years, you have worked hard to build a solid reputation — as a banker, an accountant, a financial planner … you get the idea — and to cultivate personal relationships with your clients and prospects. Relationships are all that really matter.

Does this sound familiar to you?

There’s no doubt: Those relationships are absolutely fundamental to your success. But the only way to ensure mutual trust remains the bedrock of those relationships is to demonstrate active engagement and understanding of each client’s business. That’s why Industry Intelligence should be a verse in your client management processes.

And it’s not just about educating yourself on the nuances of your client’s industry (although that is important). Sharing industry-focused content, passing along timely, relevant news articles, incorporating industry facts and trends into your presentations, and offering solutions to industry-specific challenges all make for a stronger, more personalized relationship with your clients. Those Industry Intelligence-based tactics build trust.

And bear in mind: This level of personalization — this consultative-type relationship — is what today’s business owners expect from trusted service providers and advisors to their company. And perhaps more importantly, it’s likely what your competition is bringing to the table.

Lyrics relationship managers should live by

You might think you’ve been in the business for so many years that YOU know it all too, but don’t rest on this false sense of security. Competitors are out there, chomping at the bit to win over your long-time clients.

But as Billy reminds us, “All I know is everything I’ve learned,” it’s never too late to learn from your mistakes, “and try to pick up all the pieces” by changing your processes and strategy. Indeed, when you incorporate Industry Intelligence into your interactions and touchpoints, you increase the likelihood that you become someone your client can trust.

Contact us to learn more or see a list of the industries we cover.

Image credit: David Buffaloe

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N.C. Small Business & Technology Development Center’s SBTDC Deanna Day

A Conversation with N.C. Small Business & Technology Development Center’s Deanna Day

N.C. Small Business & Technology Development Center’s SBTDC Deanna DayDeanna Day (pictured right) is the statewide senior research analyst for Marketing & Research Services at the North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center [SBTDC], headquartered in Raleigh. With a library sciences and marketing background, Deanna enjoys sharing the lessons she learned in corporate America with those in small to midsize enterprises, libraries, and nonprofits.

We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Deanna to learn more about her, the North Carolina SBTDC, and how access to Industry Intelligence is vital to counseling business owners. 

Q: Tell us a little bit about your organization.

A: The North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center [SBTDC] was formed in 1984 to help businesses grow and create new jobs. Our team of experienced business counselors provides confidential management counseling and educational services to small and mid-sized businesses [SMBs].

The word “Technology” in our organization’s name distinguishes us from some of the other small business development centers [SBDCs] across the country. We have expertise around the commercialization of research, biotech, pharmaceuticals, and so on. We advise researchers and entrepreneurs in these fields on how to commercialize their product, search for grants, and/or find clinical trial resources.

Many of the directors and business counselors on our team were small business owners or entrepreneurs themselves. Over their careers, they created and sold companies, and about 80 percent have professional degrees, so they bring experience and a broad knowledge base to their positions. And like the other SBDCs/SBTDCs across the country, we are proud to offer most of our services free of charge.

Q: How long has your SBTDC team been using Vertical IQ? Why did you choose Vertical IQ over other options?

A: We started using Vertical IQ about 18 months ago. There were not a lot of great products to do research on industries or markets. There’s really only one other one, which is very costly. The other products we considered were difficult for my counselors to use, time-consuming, and not every industry is covered.

Vertical IQ, on the other hand, has such a breadth of markets and industries, and also niche markets that are very appealing. Vertical IQ came in with a great product at a good price and a better understanding of market dynamics. It is very user-friendly, intuitive, and gives us tools that we didn’t have previously.

Q: What specific challenge was your SBTDC facing that Vertical IQ helped to solve?

A: In addition to the high price of the other industry research products on the market, they also have copyright restrictions. Our counselors were having to read the whole report and then create their own synopsis of it, which is very time-consuming, instead of just being able to print it out. They don’t have to do that extra legwork with Vertical IQ.

Vertical IQ allows us to download and/or print their reports. As an ex-marketing person, I know the value of being able to create a client copy to share. I also really love the Vertical IQ Call Prep Questions, which are a great way to become more familiar with new clients and their marketplace.

Q: How is your team using Vertical IQ?

A: Our business counselors help business owners access capital and save money. Our team uses Vertical IQ to support our clients as they create marketing plans, business plans, and succession plans.

But I would note that our counselors don’t do the work for the business owner; we show them how to do it. We are in the business of teaching business owners. But our team needs the Industry Intelligence on Vertical IQ to have an insightful dialogue with that business owner.

They also use the benchmark data and financials to compare clients to other businesses. A lot of our counselors were in accounting or finance in their previous lives, so they naturally lean heavily on benchmarks and segmenting – it is important to them. Industry News also is useful for keeping in touch with our clients.

Q: Have you achieved any other unanticipated benefits? Anything that has surprised you?

A: I’m surprised by how many of our people are actually logging in and using Vertical IQ! We have really good adoption; Nearly 80 percent of our business counselors use it on a regular basis. In fact, we have people using Vertical IQ who have never used anything like this before – who never really cared about the other industry reports available to us, but they are actually using Vertical IQ. I believe Vertical IQ is the stronger product.

Also, I think from a global standpoint, Vertical IQ has a lot more beneficial bells and whistles. It gives a comprehensive, but easy to digest, market assessment instead of just an industry overview. That’s important if you are going to make projections for a business plan or loan documents.

Q: Have there been any recent examples of success that you can cite that would not have been possible without Vertical IQ?

A: One of our counselors was looking for information on a niche market: compounding pharmacies. I looked at various other resources but only Vertical IQ covered this niche.

The only other place that might have had the information we needed is the North Carolina Biotech Library, but I would have to physically go there, do the research, and I can’t take any of their resources out or even make a photocopy. Thankfully Vertical IQ had the information our clients needed.

Q: If you had to sum up the value of Vertical IQ in one statement, what would you say?

A: Vertical IQ gives us a comprehensive market assessment, as opposed to just an industry overview. For the guy who is trying to write a business plan or try to get a million dollars from a bank or a grant to try to justify an expansion, it doesn’t really help to know what is currently being produced. He wants to know what will happen in the future. Vertical IQ does a better job of that; it gives us another perspective.

Q: Do you have any other comments you would like to make about your experience with Vertical IQ products/services?

A: I like the niche industries, the variety of sources, and the industry news, and the Local Economies section also is great. There is a lot of helpful information that can be downloaded.

Vertical IQ’s business valuation data is very important to us as well. Part of the business planning process is talking to people about exit planning as part of their overall business plan. Counselors need to be asking, “What do you want to do when you retire?” but there were a lot of reasons people hesitated to have that conversation. Not having good valuation information made it easier to avoid the topic.

Now, with the help of the valuation data found on Vertical IQ, we encourage counselors to have an exit planning conversation as part of a broader business strategies discussion. Vertical IQ helps make that crucial topic easier for our counselors to cover.

>> Learn more about the North Carolina Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC).
>> Learn more about how SBDCs can benefit from the Industry Intelligence on Vertical IQ.


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pexels-kaboompics-com-6335_ Industry-Focused News man reading news on tablet

Industry-Focused News You (and Your Clients) Can Truly Use

pexels-kaboompics-com-6335_ Industry-Focused News man reading news on tabletWith today’s 24-hour news cycle, you have the latest news headlines thrust upon you nearly everywhere you turn. It’s on your phone, in your social media feed, interrupting your favorite TV show, in your email, and even in your driveway (if you subscribe to a newspaper)! But how much of that news is actually of interest to you, and how much of it goes straight to your recycle bin (virtual or the one in your kitchen)?

The issue with all of those news alerts is that they typically are written for and sent out to a mass audience composed of all kinds of people with diverse interests. They are not customized to your personal preferences. But every now and again, one of those news alerts grabs your attention: It is an article about a topic that is of great interest to you. It’s news you can actually use!

This is the concept behind industry-focused news — a key component of some Industry Intelligence platforms. Industry-focused news offers the latest updates on a particular industry: a hot new trend occurring within the industry, an emerging risk that businesses tied to that industry may need to consider, a new player entering the market. That’s why industry-focused news has value to both you and your clients and prospects.

News you and your client/prospect can use

Clients and prospects say again and again that it is important for their third-party business partners to understand their business. In fact, according to research by RAIN Group, 92 percent of buyers say the factor that most influences their ultimate purchase decision is the provider’s ability to offer valuable industry insights.

Among other things, these insights can include knowing the latest happenings within the buyer’s industry. That’s why industry news has value to you and your client or prospect throughout the buyer’s cycle. Using industry-focused news, you can:

  • Identify new target markets. Stay on top of the latest industry headlines to zero in on potential new niches and beat the competition to emerging markets.
  • Tailor your marketing efforts. Incorporate ideas from timely industry news articles to customize your presentations, pitches, social posts, and website.
  • Educate yourself. Work the latest industry challenges and opportunities into conversations and other client/prospect touchpoints.
  • Build loyalty. Remain top of mind and show your value as an advisor by sharing articles on topics that might impact the client’s or prospect’s business.

>> Related: Download our free eBook, Deliver Value at Every Turn: Industry Intelligence Across the Buyer’s Journey

Whichever of these tactics you add into your toolkit, clients or prospects will recognize that you have provided something of value to them and their business, setting you apart from the competition. Clients may even come to rely upon you for such news, proving that you are an invaluable, trusted business partner.

Even more valuable industry-focused news

Incorporating industry-focused news into your sales and client management processes can be a big win for your clients/prospects, and in turn, a win for you. And Vertical IQ is the first and only Industry Intelligence company to make it even easier to access the latest industry news that business owners are clamoring for.

We recently incorporated data from Nexis NewsdeskTM — a top provider of news and media content — into Vertical IQ’s Industry News section for each Industry Profile. This change gives Vertical IQ subscribers access to a huge array of hand-picked industry news articles from highly respected trade journals and other news sources that are typically paywalled.

>> Learn more about Vertical IQ’s new Nexis NewsdeskTM implementation.

When you use these timely, relevant, high-quality articles from Nexis NewsdeskTM in conjunction with the rest of the Industry Profile content, you’ll boost your understanding of your client’s or prospect’s industry. And when you take the next step and integrate what you learn in those  articles into your communications with prospects/customers, you will increase engagement, build trust, and add value.

Now that’s news you (and your clients) can truly use!

Photo credit: Kaboompics .com from Pexels


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ebook Deliver Value at Every Turn: Industry Intelligence Across the Buyer's Journey 2021

Create Loyal Super-Fans Along the Buyer’s Journey (Part 3 of 3)

ebook Deliver Value at Every Turn: Industry Intelligence Across the Buyer's Journey 2021

What is a brand or product that you absolutely love and can’t (or don’t want to) go without? We all have them. Maybe it’s a food/beverage brand (like Mountain Dew for me!) or a clothing line. Perhaps it’s a particular store that you’re repeatedly drawn to. Or it could even be a favorite travel destination — a spot you love to return to again and again (for me, it’s the mountains of North Carolina). What exactly is it that creates that product or location’s appeal for you?

There are any number of reasons that customers are loyal to a business to the point that they become a brand evangelist — someone who happily promotes that company or product to others. Exceptional customer service, appealing product/service mix, and consistent quality are just a few of these influencing factors.

How can you help your company become that go-to brand for your customers? Well, we will let you in on a little insider tip: Whether you are a banker, accountant, financial planner, or any other sales professional, Industry Intelligence is your company’s secret sauce.

>> Download the free eBook, Deliver Value at Every Turn: Industry Intelligence Across the Buyer’s Journey

Loyalty means repeat business

In my last post, we shared how you can be your client or prospect’s co-pilot as they navigate the decision and adoption stages of the buyer’s journey. We explained how using Industry Intelligence during these stages helps set your institution apart from competitors. We also offered ideas on how to help your new client’s team get up to speed and adopt the solution you’re providing.

But you’re not quite done with the journey yet. We all know that repeat business is good for both shortening the sales cycle and boosting the bottom line. That’s why you want to not only retain the client, but hopefully expand that relationship, which means building loyalty. Industry Intelligence can guide the customer along so that it’s all systems go when it comes to retention and expansion.

Here are some ideas to help your customer avoid potential roadblocks, further build their trust, and capture upsell opportunities during the loyalty phase using Industry Intelligence.

  • Maintain engagement by sharing relevant news articles as well as information on the latest industry trends.
  • Add further value to the relationship by passing along industry-specific projections and impacts of current events like COVID-19.
  • Share quarterly insights, which include the latest facts and figures about what’s happening in the industry.
  • Help clients understand how they compare to others in the industry with financial benchmarks, and how those numbers might impact their long-term growth strategy and/or succession plans.

And remember: The goal of all of these loyalty mileposts is to create an exceptional customer experience, putting you well on your way to becoming an irreplaceable trusted advisor to them and their business.

          >> Related: Hit the Road to Deliver Value Throughout the Buyer’s Journey (Part 1 of 3)

Upgrade loyal clients to advocates

They say that there’s no better advertisement for a business than word-of-mouth. Think about it: When you have a buying decision to make in your own life, what do you do? If you’re like me, you probably ask friends or family. And in today’s online shopping era, we also consider customer reviews.

But turning a customer into not only a loyal, satisfied customer but into someone who will eagerly advocate for your company to other people they know doesn’t happen by chance. It takes hard work and the effective use of Industry Intelligence to build that trust, loyalty, and eventual fandom.

Use Industry Intelligence during this final stage of the buyer’s journey to inspire clients to become advocates. These simple industry-focused touchpoints and tips will increase referrals and expand your business:

  • Stay in touch with customers by sharing Quarterly Emails, which include updates on their industry, spotlighted articles, and any notable financial trends.
  • Continue to add value to the relationship with shareable content, industry-focused presentations, and detailed regional and economic data — all acumen you’ve been perfecting over the course of the buyer’s journey.
  • Bonus idea: Identify industry trade organizations, which will not only increase your expertise on the industry but can serve as a ready-made source of new referrals.

Once you achieve the level of customer satisfaction in which they will happily expand their relationship with you and even advocate for your company to their peers, you’ve officially arrived at your final destination on the buyer’s journey. Isn’t it a glorious sight to behold?

          >> Related: Become a Trusted Co-Pilot on The Buyer’s Journey (Part 2 of 3)

Put Industry Intelligence on your itinerary

As you can see, Industry Intelligence can be the turbo-charged engine that propels prospects and clients through the buyer’s journey. By adding industry-specific information at each stage of the sales process, you can win, grow, and retain more business. And Industry Intelligence actually gives you the fuel to bypass objections and fly past the competition.

          >> Learn more about using Industry Intelligence throughout the buyer’s journey with our interactive map!

An expert navigator for their journey

Are you ready to take the wheel to guide your clients and prospects through all six stages of the sales process? Then climb aboard, and let’s explore ways to deliver a better, more tailored experience in every phase of their trek. Vertical IQ’s newest eBook, Deliver Value at Every Turn: Industry Intelligence Across the Buyer’s Journey, will show you the way.

          >> Download the free eBook now.

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ebook Deliver Value at Every Turn: Industry Intelligence Across the Buyer's Journey 2021

Become a Trusted Co-Pilot on The Buyer’s Journey (Part 2 of 3)

ebook Deliver Value at Every Turn: Industry Intelligence Across the Buyer's Journey 2021

You’ve heard the famous proverb from philosopher Lao Tzu: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” For most sales professionals, the buyer’s journey often feels like a laborious trek. Sometimes the sales process is like a day trip — short and right to the point. But commonly, the buyer’s journey is more of an expedition, taking unexpected twists and turns along the route and requiring weeks, months, or even years to bring it to the final destination of a sale.

As we discussed in last week’s post, the prospective buyer sets out on this voyage when they identify a business challenge or goal and begin seeking solutions. This is where they initially gain awareness of your brand and services — as well as competitors’ offerings. Next, the prospective client considers their various buying options.

How can you, as a salesperson, influence which course they decide to take on their buyer’s journey? How can you position yourself and your brand as a trustworthy co-pilot who can lead them though adoption, helping them get the most out of their chosen solution?

With Industry Intelligence, you have a compass that will always point in the right direction as you lead buyers along the path of the sales process.

>> Download the free eBook, Deliver Value at Every Turn: Industry Intelligence Across the Buyer’s Journey

Encourage buyers to make a decision

We all make innumerable decisions in the course of a day. From the inconsequential — like what to eat for breakfast — to the life-altering — such as what job to take or who to share your life with.

For prospective clients, they are looking for the right person or company to serve as their Sherpa during the decision process that is the buyer’s journey; a person who can provide the solution to their challenge or goal. This is your opportunity to build trust, set yourself apart from competitors, and show the prospect why you are their best co-pilot. So, you’d better be ready to roll!

Let’s be honest: Many solutions and services are nearly identical in terms of capabilities and functionality. What distinguishes your brand from another similar one is you! Your expertise, guidance, and support give the buyer the confidence they need to move forward with you as their wingman. And Industry Intelligence can be the key to sealing that deal.

During the decision stage of the buyer’s journey, use Industry Intelligence to:

  • Detail exactly why a buyer should choose you, incorporating industry-specific data at every touchpoint (conversations, emails, voicemails, presentations, etc.)
  • Demonstrate deep industry expertise, aligning your solutions and services directly with your target’s current challenges and business goals
  • Discuss specific business challenges, industry trends, and opportunities the prospect may be facing, based on your industry knowledge
  • Share highly relevant, industry-specific content, such as news articles, quarterly email updates, and big picture videos

When you can consistently and confidently showcase your knowledge of the industry landscape, as well as your prospect’s unique business pain points or objectives, you’ll instinctively chart a direct course to more sales success.

>> Related: Hit the Road to Deliver Value Throughout the Buyer’s Journey (Part 1 of 3)

Lead the way on the adoption process

Once you’ve closed the deal, it’s time to rev up that engine and help the new client adopt their new service or product. But don’t forget they may have passengers coming along for the ride: team members who may not have been part of the decision stage but who will need to implement and embrace this journey.

Change can be more difficult for some people than others, but you can help guide these folks as they get up-to-speed by using Industry Intelligence to:

  • Deliver industry-specific training and on-boarding to take the stress out of the adoption stage
  • Provide clients with sharable content like news articles, Industry Profiles, Quarterly Updates, and Big Picture Videos to enable organizational change
  • Help end users understand the business reasoning and benefits of new solutions by sharing your knowledge of industry trends and risks

An expert navigator for their buyer’s journey

Are you ready to take the wheel to guide your clients and prospects through all six stages of the sales process? Then climb aboard, and let’s explore ways to deliver a better, more tailored experience in every phase of their trek. Vertical IQ’s newest eBook, Deliver Value at Every Turn: Industry Intelligence Across the Buyer’s Journey, will show you the way.

In it, we explore how sales and marketing professionals can capture and capitalize on the opportunity to connect with buyers and provide guidance and value at every turn of their purchasing journey with Industry Intelligence. You’ll learn how to win, grow, and retain more business while competitors disappear in your rearview mirror. Come along — it’s a trip worth taking!

>> Download the free eBook now!

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ebook Deliver Value at Every Turn: Industry Intelligence Across the Buyer's Journey 2021

Hit the Road to Deliver Value Throughout the Buyer’s Journey (Part 1 of 3)

ebook Deliver Value at Every Turn: Industry Intelligence Across the Buyer's Journey 2021Who could use a little vacation right about now? I know I’m ready!

Planes are filling up with vacationers seeking out a change of scenery after a year of lockdown and isolation. Despite higher gas prices, people are hitting the roads as well. In fact, RV sales and shipments are forecast to jump 24 percent in 2021 and reach a record high of about 533,300 units.

This reawakened desire for adventure and the call of the open road got us here at Vertical IQ thinking about another type of journey: the one taken by prospective buyers.

The buyer’s journey is typically slow, meandering, and full of potential pitfalls. But what many sales professionals don’t realize is that they can be the one guiding their prospect through the various stages of the sales process. And Industry Intelligence can serve as your North Star.

>> Download the free eBook, Deliver Value at Every Turn: Industry Intelligence Across the Buyer’s Journey

The buyer’s journey begins with awareness

As with many of life’s adventures, the sales journey begins with awareness. In most cases, your prospective buyer recognizes they have a business challenge to be solved or an aspiration they want to attain.

Their roadblock? They aren’t sure where to begin. As a result, they are on a fact-finding mission, searching for general information rather than specific solutions.

Your obstacle as a sales professional? You aren’t even on their radar. But the good news is this is your opportunity to send up a flare to capture their attention, flip their map right side up, and point them in the right direction.

But you may want to pump the brakes just a tad before swooping in and sharing all the great benefits your solution or service can deliver. Remember: During the awareness phase of the buyer’s journey, your focus should be on learning everything you can about the prospect and their business challenges, pain points, and their industry as a whole.

The best route to accomplish this is via Industry Intelligence. Use it as your atlas to:

  • Identify new markets and potential industries
  • Prioritize business development efforts
  • Prepare for cold prospecting
  • Enhance your marketing content and promotions
  • Tailor your lead follow-up

Considering their best route

Once your prospective customer becomes aware of your brand and your services, their voyage through the buyer’s journey moves to the next stage: consideration. To keep the travel analogy going, at this point, they know they want to take a trip, but they aren’t sure where to go or how to get there.

Buyers typically will begin searching online for solutions to their pain point or goal, so naturally, you want your website to capture their attention. You can accomplish this by ensuring your site is packed with industry-focused educational materials, like eBooks and whitepapers. Developing this tailored content is simple when you use Industry Intelligence.

While it is appropriate to begin to introduce your solutions at this point in the expedition, that doesn’t mean you are done learning about the prospect and their industry. And again, Industry Intelligence can serve as your guide as you entice prospects (and also lost leads) to consider you and your brand via email, phone calls, and meeting invitations.

Industry Intelligence allows you to:

  • Quickly and effectively prep for calls and meetings
  • Share industry-relevant news articles and forecasts
  • Answer questions with confidence and clarity
  • Build trust and position yourself as an industry expert (not just a sales or marketing rep.)

An expert navigator for their journey

Are you ready to take the wheel to guide your clients and prospects through all six stages of the sales cycle? Then climb aboard, and let’s explore ways to deliver a better, more tailored experience in every phase of their trek. Vertical IQ’s newest eBook, Deliver Value at Every Turn: Industry Intelligence Across the Buyer’s Journey, will show you the way.

In it, we explore how sales and marketing professionals can capture and capitalize on the opportunity to connect with buyers and provide guidance and value at every turn of their purchasing journey with Industry Intelligence. You’ll learn how to win, grow, and retain more business while competitors disappear in your rearview mirror. Come along — it’s a trip worth taking!

>> Download the free eBook now!

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Brynne Tillman webinar RECAP social selling

Webinar Recap: Social Selling: Content to Conversations

Brynne Tillman webinar RECAPWhen people hear the word “marketing,” they often think of print or TV advertisements that encourage you to buy one product over another. Those ads infiltrating our subconscious are indeed one aspect of marketing, but there is waaaay more to it than just that, especially since the advent of the internet and social media. That’s why I was especially excited to lead a conversation recently with social selling guru Brynne Tillman.

Brynne, a former banker and current sales trainer with St. Meyer & Hubbard and CEO at Social Sales Link, has literally written the book on how to use social media as a tool for your sales and marketing efforts. The strategy of “social selling,” Brynne explains, is all about building relationships, providing real value, and being a resource.

She drives home this key point: “It’s not about what the client is worth to you, it’s about what you are worth to the client. … How can I be a resource? How can I bring value? How can I show up in a way that is meaningful?” When we do this enough with the right people, the sales will come when the time is right.

Conversations must be earned

What does it take to get a conversation with all of those would-be clients on social platforms? A warm introduction or engaging with their content isn’t enough. You have to earn a conversation.

Brynne explains why it’s important to master the Ask-Offer Ratio in order to earn that conversation. If you pitch your product too soon in your online interactions, it’s likely that the prospect will feel like it is a bait and switch, and you are going to scare them away.

Instead, you must first share something of value with them — a news article relevant to their industry, for example. You want to be compelling — offering them value in the form of education or insight — in order to get them to “react” in the form of a “like,” a comment, a connection, or even a request for a conversation.

The right Ask-Offer Ratio means that whatever you are sharing should provide them with a resource that is more valuable to the prospect than the amount of time they must invest in reading it.

“Slow down the outreach to speed up the outcome,” as Brynne says.

Your profile matters

Brynne shares some best practices for improving your social media profile (specifically on LinkedIn) and converting it from a resume to a resource.

In order to attract the right prospects, your profile and content must resonate, spur curiosity, and educate, getting the viewer to think differently about their current banking relationship. Then, use an effective call to action on your profile to get them to take that next step to begin the prospect to client conversion process.

Social selling mistakes

Brynne notes a few things to avoid when it comes to social selling.

  • social selling mistakes, by Brynne TillmanLeading WITH your solution instead of TO your solution

This comes across as a pitch, and prospects will glaze over. Instead, talk about things that matter to the prospect. Get them “leaning in” because you’re sharing things they care about and want to consume. It’s not about developing leads; it’s about developing relationships.

  • Random Acts of Social

Logging in occasionally to “like” something or share a post isn’t an effective social selling strategy. You need a consistent, regimented process with defined steps and templates in order to be effective.

  • Connect and Pitch

The top social selling mistake people make is leading with their sales pitch — it’s off-putting to nearly everyone. Again, you must earn the right to a conversation by providing value that’s not about you, but rather that’s about what matters to the prospect.

  • Connect and Forget

It’s an innocent mistake that many people make: ignoring the people who are already in our network. Think about your current clients, past clients, prospects, partners, vendors, and community leaders. Ask yourself: Who have I been ignoring?

Connecting with insightful content

Brynne recommends exporting your social media connections, as well as using the search/sort functions within LinkedIn, to initiate conversations based on sharing industry-focused, valuable content (a relevant news article, for example). This enables you to essentially create a “template” to share that piece of content with multiple people in that industry with only minor tweaks to personalize it.

When you share that article, be sure to include your thoughts and insights on why you thought the article was of value to the recipient. This shows that you took the time to consume the content as well. And don’t forget to invite them to respond as a way to initiate a back and forth. This can be a high-impact means of outreach.

You can take your discussion to the next level by next sharing content about your prospect’s customer, i.e., the industries that your prospect sells to. This creates a truly customized experience for that prospect — one that adds value and resonates.

Industry content for the win

A big aspect of successful social selling is giving the prospect a compelling reason to switch to your company. This is where adding value, becoming that trusted advisor by sharing industry-specific insight, like the shareable Industry Intelligence you’ll find on Vertical IQ, can be crucial.

Brynne explains: Adding value by sharing industry content “proves that they matter to you, that their industry matters to you, that their client’s industry matters to you, because that is how you are going to connect to them differently than any other banker.” In short, sales pros need their social selling outreach mindset to shift from price/rate-focused to value-focused.

>> Request a link to the Social Selling: Content to Conversations with Brynne Tillman video replay.

Earning the right

As we learned from Brynne, when you bring value to those you want to start a conversation with, you can earn the right to take a few minutes to share with them what you do. If you think we’ve earned the right to tell you more about Vertical IQ, then please consider signing up to get a brief demo:

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b2b technology sales marketing man on mac photo by Austin Distel

Personalize Your B2B Sales and Marketing with Industry Intelligence

b2b sales marketing man on mac photo by Austin DistelIf we learned one thing from the events of 2020, it’s that businesses must be agile in order to succeed. From adapting product offerings to shifting to remote selling, nearly every business had to make some type of adjustment to cope with the challenges created by the pandemic.

LinkedIn recently published their annual survey of B2B technology buying and decision-making. Synthesizing data from nearly 6,000 respondents (people who had researched, evaluated, bought, implemented, or renewed a new technology solution in the last 6 months), the survey found five key recommendations for technology marketers to succeed in what the researchers call the “Age of Agility.”

You can access full details about the LinkedIn survey here, but there were a few statistics in particular that jumped out at me as relevant to those selling and marketing B2B technology products.

Speaking your audience’s language

The LinkedIn survey found that 52 percent of technology decision-makers collaborate most often with their IT partners during the buyer’s journey, but nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of buying decision influencers are outside of the IT department. Additionally, more than half (54 percent) of technology decision-makers are responsible for identifying new problems that can be solved by technology.

These are important facts for B2B technology companies to understand as they can (and should) impact their marketing strategy.

With so many non-IT people involved in the buying decision, tech companies must find effective ways to appeal to prospects’ diverse array of internal gatekeepers. One simple way to reach these stakeholders is to speak their language. Using Industry Intelligence about their prospect’s niche, sales professionals and marketers can make personal connections between the prospect’s unique industry pain points and the solution they offer.

For example, by using Industry Intelligence to prepare for a call with a law firm, we learn that many law firms are using technology solutions to improve productivity while also reducing costs and addressing client information security concerns. For those in technology sales and marketing, this industry knowledge can help them ask more tailored questions and explain their value proposition in a way that is easy to understand for their specific audience, such as a law partner.

The conversation might begin like this:

“I know that a lot of firms like yours are implementing new electronic documents software to increase staff productivity and reduce overhead costs from delivery/courier services and records storage. Have you considered how technology solutions might be able to boost your firm’s productivity while lowering overhead?”
“Many smaller law firms, like yours, are adopting software-as-a-service practice management systems to eliminate the cost of maintaining in-house servers and software. At the same time, firms are being forced to invest in enhanced information security systems and develop new policies on proper use of emails, electronic documents, mobile computing, and social networking tools. What challenges do you face in protecting the confidentiality of your clients’ information?”

By speaking their language and framing your prospect conversations around day-to-day productivity, cost, or IT security concerns — rather than leading with your specific product — you help someone like a law partner connect the dots to how a technology solution can address an issue that might be keeping them up at night.

Stay in touch after the sale

The LinkedIn survey also uncovered the importance of continuing to nurture clients even after you close the sale. In fact, nearly half (46 percent) of technology decision-makers noted that an existing vendor’s knowledge of their company’s unique needs is a key factor when awarding new business.

This is another area where Industry Intelligence can help technology marketers and salespeople stand out from the crowd and drive cross-sell or upsell opportunities. One way to continue to nurture your customers is by sharing timely news about their industry. And it doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time when you have the right Industry Intelligence tool at your fingertips.

Let’s face it: Many business decision-makers (especially small to medium-sized business [SMB] owners) simply don’t have the time to proactively seek out the latest information pertaining to their industry. As a result, they may be missing out on current trends that can help their business succeed or risk factors that can sink the ship.

A simple but effective client touchpoint is sharing a relevant news article about their industry and including a personalized note. For example, the communication to the owner of a commercial printing company might look something like this:

“Hi Sarah,
I saw this interesting article about how direct mail companies are increasing the number of campaigns they are sending out amid the pandemic since people will likely be on lockdown for a few more months.
More and more commercial printing companies like yours are offering variable data printing, which allows personalized content to be added to these types of direct mail campaigns. Do you have the technology in place to offer this type of custom, one-to-one marketing?
I’ll call you Tuesday to discuss how this service offering can boost your print volumes…”

Again, with a message that focuses on an industry-specific issue, you aren’t leading with product, but you B2adding value to the relationship and offering solutions. It shows that you have your finger on the pulse of your customer’s industry and are looking for innovative new ways to help their business succeed. It’s a great way to stay top-of-mind and increase the likelihood that they will come to you with their next technology opportunity.

Personalized communications yield customized technology solutions

Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, right? As this LinkedIn survey reveals, however, technology decision-makers are increasingly looking for more than just a tech product or service. They want to work with a vendor who understands their business and can help solve their unique problems.

For technology marketing and sales professionals, incorporating Industry Intelligence into your customer and prospect communications is not only a huge time-saver, it can also be a game-changer.

When you understand the underpinnings of a niche, you can have more personalized conversations and ask better questions that delve into the challenges your customer or prospect may be facing. And armed with this critical insight, you can provide the tailored solutions that today’s technology decision-makers demand.

If you are interested in learning more ways that Industry Intelligence can deliver results, check out this infographic on Using Industry Intelligence Throughout the Buyer’s Journey.


Image credit: Austin Distel, Unsplash

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unsolved mysteries ebook cover

Last Seen Leaving the CEO's Office (Part 3 of 3)

Posted by David Buffaloe
Private Investigator – Name Undisclosed

>> Related: Unsolved Mysteries of Losing a Sale (Part 1 of 3)

>> Related: Solving the Case of the Frozen Sales Pro (Part 2 of 3)

Another serious opportunity has disappeared in a decade riddled with mysterious sales losses. Witnesses reported seeing a seasoned sales team leaving the office of a CEO. Yet, when asked about their last interaction, the executive had no recollection of the sales team or their offerings. It was if they simply ceased to exist – and their potential deal was pronounced dead on arrival.

No need to call in the search party on this one. While sales notes reveal the team was armed with traditional sales tools, they lacked the Industry Intelligence required to make a memorable first impression, confidently close deals, and deliver measurable value. Their CRM system and old-fashioned sales intelligence tools failed to equip them with the ability to understand their prospect’s strategy, competitors, regulatory issues, industry risks, and market trends. Without that critical information and insight, they quickly became invisible to their prospect.

A Shocking Number of Sales Losses

Shocked by the sheer number of avoidable sales losses, Vertical IQ is now leading an investigation into the Unsolved Mysteries of Losing a Sale. In today’s far-from-normal business climate, top sales and marketing professionals are discovering they must go well beyond identifying WHO they want to do business with. The tools they’ve relied on for years are failing to help them win businesses.

Without Industry Intelligence, even the most experienced sales pros can’t fully understand or articulate the essentials, including:

  • WHAT is impacting prospects today, in a succinct and easily consumable (and shareable) format
  • WHERE businesses are positioned in a prospect’s regional and local economy to deliver highly relevant insight and targeted solutions
  • WHEN current events are impacting customers and prospects along with directions for moving their business forward
  • WHY prospects should choose their solutions and services to secure a more profitable business future

Explore our free eBook, UNSOLVED MYSTERIES of Losing a Sale, to unlock the missing piece in securing new business, conducting more productive sales conversations, and building stronger customer relationships.

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unsolved mysteries ebook cover

Solving the Case of the Frozen Sales Pro (Part 2 of 3)

Posted by David Buffaloe
Private Investigator – Name Undisclosed

>> Related: Unsolved Mysteries of Losing a Sale (Part 1 of 3)

It was a typical day when Michelle logged into Zoom for a meeting with a potentially huge new client. In calls to friends earlier that day, Michelle said she felt good. She had a broad understanding of their business and thought she had all the info she’d need to make a solid connection – and maybe even close a deal.

To prepare for the meeting, she’d cobbled together some basics from her trusty (though dusty) CRM and SFA systems and even stayed up late the night before Googling away hours hunting for reliable business data. She’d stumbled upon a few articles from business websites, newsletters, and industry publications she could share. Sure, they were dated, but they were about the same industry. So, she thought they should be good enough. But Michelle was not at all prepared for what would happen next…

Missing in action: The WHERE & WHEN

Just a few minutes into the call, her prospect asked for her perspective on their local economic business climate. This last quarter had been extremely difficult in their area – and they required highly specific and timely strategic insight tied to their regional and local economy to make accurate decisions now.

As the question was being asked, Michelle felt her body go numb. Frozen in place, she suddenly realized the outdated articles and general business info she’d spent hours searching for on the Internet were worthless. This prospect wasn’t going to rely on a generalist during a time that required current local and regional economic data to improve, if not save, their business.

To her absolute horror, Michelle lost the deal. She wasn’t truly ready for her call. She didn’t have any insight into the WHERE and WHEN so vital to addressing her prospect’s challenges. Lacking up-to-date and regionally specific information, she could not:

  • –Articulate local economic trends impacting their business
  • –Explore opportunities for business growth and transformation
  • –Align financial projections with today’s local economic realities
  • –Share insights on the impact of real-world events when they are happening

Sadly, Michelle is far from the only victim. Far too many sales and marketing professionals are missing the opportunity to help clients stay ahead of rapidly shifting markets and trends in their region. But Vertical IQ is on the case.

Explore the UNSOLVED MYSTERIES of Losing a Sale to find out how you can save yourself from a similar fate – and get a powerful checklist to take charge before, during, and after your customer and prospect meetings.

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unsolved mysteries ebook cover

Unsolved Mysteries of Losing a Sale (Part 1 of 3)

Posted by David Buffaloe
Private Investigator – Name Undisclosed

Reports of strange occurrences in the world of sales and marketing are on the rise. For decades, dedicated professionals relied on a standard set of skills and sales tools to capture the attention of prospects, close deals, and keep customers coming back for more. Terrifyingly, those traditional tools and outreach tactics are failing, opportunities are disappearing – and sales pros are afraid. This is no time to lose sales.

Unable to ignore an escalating number of sales losses and growing unease experienced by so many across the business landscape, Vertical IQ stepped in to help solve this mystery. We managed to delve into a level of intrigue and sales insight you won’t believe – and are giving you unfettered access to the incredible secrets they’ve uncovered.

The usual suspects

Recognized sales enthusiasts and marketing leaders are emerging from the shadows to share their experiences. They’ve all encountered something strange – and their stories share remarkable similarities.

Using their tried-and-true Sales Force Automation (SFA) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems or even Sales Intelligence tools for data on leads, accounts, and contacts, they identified what seemed like the perfect prospect. After hours combing through tons of information on the web, it seemed they could make the case that their products and services would meet the needs of those potential prospects. Yet, for some unknown reason, they continually failed to win their business – and no one could figure out why.

Could it be possible that basic business data is no longer enough to adequately prepare you to seek out and secure the new and long-lasting customers you need to drive revenue? All the clues pointed in that direction, but many remained firmly convinced that a name, title, and a bit of business history should be enough to start, if not seal, a deal.

Facing the facts

As the facts of this investigation rose to the surface, everything became clear. If you want to win in 2021 and beyond, you must recognize the vital pieces missing from your sales and marketing processes.

While CRM, SFA, and Sales Intelligence tools tell you WHO to call, that’s not enough. You must know WHAT to say to capture their interest and win their business. That means fully grasping the complexities that shape how your prospect views their business, industry, and the world at large. The only way to do that is through Industry Intelligence.

With Industry Intelligence, you can go beyond WHO and get to WHAT is impacting prospects today, in a convenient and easily consumable format. But there’s a lot more to this story. While speculation still runs wild and theories abound regarding every lost deal, Vertical IQ is sharing all the secrets they’ve uncovered in a new eBook: UNSOLVED MYSTERIES of Losing a Sale. Read it to discover what’s missing in your sales process and unlock the nearly inconceivable value of Industry Intelligence across the entire sales cycle.

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