Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Social Sites Drive Business Purchases by Young Adults and Teens

I’m seeing an interesting social trend developing over the last couple of years……consumers are moving from the age old habit of impulse shopping and buying, where a catchy advertising campaign or display might drive additional sales, to focused buying driven by the internet.

Nice opening statement, right? But what does it really mean? Let me give you a personal example.

This year’s “Black Friday” shopping event was highly anticipated by retailers across the country. Typically, the day after Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday shopping season in a BIG way. After the Thanksgiving meal has ended, the kids run to the playroom to hit the video games, the men typically retire to the den or “Man Cave” to watch football, while the women frantically browse through the fliers in the living room, making note of the stores they want to visit when they open. Some stores open as early as 12:01am on Friday morning and there are hundreds’ if not thousands, of shoppers anxiously waiting to be one of the first “250” in the door to get the “Great Deal” advertised in the flier. More often than not, stories of how “I can’t believe I got there at 3:30am and there were no X-Box 3 games left. It’s ridiculous! I’m never doing that again” are heard later in the day when the Mom gets home, frustrated from the crowds and lack of product availability.
Well, in my home, my wife followed tradition and looked through the fliers with her sister, mother, and sisters-in-laws, planning the next day’s shopping excursion. The difference was they were intent on hitting the stores quick and getting out. My wife left at 6:00am and was home with everything she went for by 9:00am. Now that’s a successful, focused shopping spree.
So what’s the moral here? To be successful in today’s information age, retailers need to be focused on providing an easy way for a consumer to get the product they want. The best way to do this is via social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Digg, and hundreds more. A recent Pew survey       ( http://tinyurl.com/ya9mmzv ) indicates that nearly three quarters of teens and nearly the same number of young adults use social media sites. Today’s consumers are no longer visiting corporate websites, but rather social sites to see where others are getting great deals, and avoiding the places where people are having bad experiences. Some retailers have already embraced the social media craze, added their own social sites, and created “followers” by providing coupons, discounts, or special announcements of sales via their social sites. Other businesses have sat back wondering why their sales are down….?

Take a look at this example of a social media deal listed on Twitter by BestBuy......BestBuy is considered a leader in their social media strategy plan:

A good social media strategy is a necessity if you want to keep your business growing and attract the consumers you need to do this. We must remember, there’s a lot of competition for the consumers’ purchases these days. If you remain in your old ways, thinking ”I didn’t need social media to get to this point, I don’t need it now”, then you most likely have peaked your business’ revenues and should settle in for a period of declining revenues and, the ultimate reality of asking yourself “ What happened to my business?”. Remember my “1990's Sales vs 2010 Sales?” post a couple months ago?

If you’re interested in growing your business and realize it’s time to learn more about how a social strategy business plan can help grow your business and increase revenues and profits, then please click on the form below and I’ll be happy to provide you with more information….


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Jeter a Red Sox?

Wow! What a thought?

Derek Jeter, the heart and soul of the New York Yankees’ franchise for the last 15 years since his debut in 1995. Jeter has won 5 World Series, 5 Gold Gloves, 4 Silver Slugger awards, and has made 11 All-Star appearances over his illustrious career.

So you ask, how does New York let a player of that caliber reach free agency? I can’t answer that question, but I’m really glad they did. History has been shown to repeat itself.

On January 3, 1920, New York pulled off perhaps the greatest acquisition in baseball history by acquiring Herman “Babe” Ruth from the Boston Red Sox. Red Sox owner Harry Frazee regretted this deal for the rest of his life, as the Yankees went on to win an astounding 7 World Series titles with Ruth. The Red Sox went 86 years before they would finally break through and win the World Series in 2004.

Frazee, a theatrical producer, used the proceeds from the Ruth trade to produce a Broadway musical called “No, No, Nanette”, originally called a non-musical named “My Lady Friends”.

The “Curse of the Bambino” was widely blamed for the lack of success for the Boston franchise, until in 2004, the Red Sox came back from a 3-0 deficit against the hated New York Yankees, to win the American League Championship series 4-3. The Sox went on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals 4-0 to win the World Series.

Many feel the “Curse of the Bambino” was broken when the Babe’s piano was found in Willis Pond, in Sudbury Massachusetts. Local legend has it that Ruth, an avid piano player, pushed the upright onto the ice in 1919 during a stay at one of the pond's cabins. Two men who grew up on the pond said they remember setting fire to the piano in 1973 and pushing it into the water.

Babe Ruth at Willis Pond, prior to spring training 1918, waiting for his ride into Boston. "I'll see you kids at Fenway Park this summer.

Back to Derek Jeter……..The Red Sox could certainly use a player of Jeter’s caliber. Ever since that day in 2004 when he dove into the stands at Fenway Park for a foul ball while the Sox poster boy Nomar Garciaparra watched from his bench with an supposed injury, he has been a fan favorite of Red Sox Nation. Personally, I don’t like the Yankees, but I follow them as closely as I follow the Red Sox. I have always respected Jeter’s character, work ethic, and skills. He may not be the greatest shortstop of all time, but he’s worthy of being included in the discussion. Will he ever leave the Yankees, probably not? But ask any Bruins fan if they thought the greatest athlete in Boston history (do I really need to name him?......Bobby Orr) would ever leave Boston and you’ll get your answer.

Here’s one vote for John Henry to go out and make some noise. Mr. Henry, Mr. Werner, please go out and sign this guy! The intangibles he’ll bring to Fenway will more than pay for his salary. With the loss of Victor Martinez, Adrian Beltre, and Mike Lowell, there’s plenty of payroll available to make this happen….

Monday, November 22, 2010

How Are You Handling The Social Media Explosion?

Here’s a little personal story with a business twist and something to think about at the end….after reading this, I’d enjoying hearing of any similar personal experience any of my readers have had and the impact you think it might have on the company’s business…..

My story…….

We all know it’s the beginning of the Holiday season and sometimes we all think of doing something good for those that are perhaps not as fortunate as the rest of us…

Last week, my local Fraternal club was doing a Turkey raffle for charity. I had approached a local supermarket (I’ll keep the name private as I don’t want to mix business with a negative personal experience; if you’re interested in the name, email me and I’ll tell you off-line) in Wakefield, MA and asked them if I could place an order for 25 18-20lbs turkeys to be used in the raffle. They were on sale for 49₵ per pound and it was cheap enough. I went to the store and the meat manager was off for the day. I spoke with another clerk in the meat department who was very pleasant and helpful. He wrote down my name and cell number and advised me that while he couldn’t guarantee the order until the meat manager returned the next day, he would pass my info along and ask the meat manager to call me the next morning. Before I left the store, I specifically asked if there was a limit on how many sale priced turkey’s I could buy with my (XXXXXX’s) card and was told “no, there is no limit”. This was the clerk’s answer and it was verified by the girl in the courtesy booth. “Great” I thought, everything should be all set.

The next morning no one from XXXXXX’s had called me by mid-morning so I thought I’d call the store myself. I called XXXXXX’s and spoke with the meat manager who informed me he couldn’t honor my order and that the clerk shouldn’t have led me to believe they could fulfill it without speaking to him first. He then said there was a strict limit of “2 per XXXXXX’s card” on the sale priced turkeys. He proceeded to tell me he didn’t have enough on hand to fulfill my order anyways (they didn’t have twenty five 18 to 20lb turkeys the week before Thanksgiving? Interesting excuse, but that’s another issue). Even if they did, he would have to sell them to me at the “wholesale rate of $.99 per lb”. He said both the clerk and courtesy booth were wrong. When I mentioned that neither the store signs nor the advertisement indicated a limit, he said he couldn’t speak for that. Needless to say, I didn’t buy the Turkeys from XXXXXX’s.

We ended up at XXXXXX’s competitor, Market Basket in Wilmington MA who not only happily fulfilled the order, but upon receiving our tax ID, also further reduced the price as a charitable donation from Market Basket. Now that’s GREAT service and a GREAT neighborhood business. We’ll be seeing them next year!

While disappointed in XXXXXX’s, I wasn’t going to say anything about my experience until I looked at my XXXXXX’s receipt from yesterday and it asked me to fill out an on-line questionnaire about my experience yesterday at the store ( I needed some snacks for the Pats-Indy game). While filling out the questionnaire, it asked me about my experience. Well, I told them, not about yesterday's experience but about earlier in the week…..let’s wait and see what happens?

Now how much would a negative blog about a product impact the company’s business? Hard to say but one thing is for certain: the 350+ members of my Fraternal Club plus their families know about the incident and will think twice about shopping at XXXXXX’s in the future. On the other hand, Market Basket looks like a champ and I’ll be following my wife’s advice and start shopping there.

How does a company follow and react to a personal blog like this? The SS1-Engage platform from Social Strategy 1 constantly crawls the internet looking for mentions like this. Should XXXXXX’s or Market Basket have the service, this blog post would show up on their dashboard with a positive mention for Market Basket and a negative mention for XXXXXX’s. Market Basket could “Re-Tweet” it for good publicity, while XXXXXX’s would want it to go away.

Think how good Market Basket looks in this situation? Makes people want to shop there…..who doesn’t want to shop with good people? Think how much one little instance like this will hurt XXXXXX’s future business? (Not much as I didn’t use their real name because I’m ethical and wanted to use it as an example for my product. If I wasn’t, think of the bad publicity this would cause?) Now, maybe XXXXXX’s doesn’t have a social media program in place and will never know this type of negative issue is being blog’d about, or they may choose to ignore it, or they could come back in a positive manner and say something like “Dave, sorry you had a bad experience. There was some terrible miscommunication in play and XXXXXX’s certainly wishes to maintain a good standing in the local community and recognizes the needs of local non-profit organizations. Please accept this coupon for your next future purchase at XXXXXX”s. We strive to provide the best shopping experience for our Customers and hope you will put it to good use by considering a second chance for XXXXXX’s to earn your organization’s business on its next endeavor”.

The last response is an example of actions which may be recommended by the personal analyst from Social Strategy 1 to minimize any damage from a personal blog or Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Yelp, etc. posting. In excess of 80 million users access these sites everyday and follow this kind of publicity. If you or any of your friends (don’t forget the $500 referral from my previous posting) are interested in seeing how the SS-1 Engage platform from Social Strategy 1 can help your business, please contact me at dave@socialstrateg1.com or 781-937-0420

Friday, November 12, 2010

Breaking News -Referral Program

I’m pleased to announce the creation of a Customer referral program from ILD Corporation’s Social Strategy1 division. I typically don’t use my blog to push my own products but I have to make an exception for this one as I think it fits well into my latest theme of developing and maintaining self “power” in today’s information age.

Social Strategy1, a leading provider of digital marketing strategy and social media monitoring solutions, has created an incentive program to enable sales and business professionals to benefit from their personal business connections. By simply referring a potential client to Social Strategy1, a person can earn up to $500 for simply making the connection. If the Social Strategy1 team closes the deal and signs that client to a business contract, they will pay a one-time $500 signing bonus for the referral.

Lots of people have lots of business connections, but many do not want to be put in the position to “sell” a product to their friends and business acquaintances, and therefore lose out on some great opportunities to earn extra income. Recognizing this inherent problem, Dennis Stoutenburgh (President and COO of Social Strategy1) and I developed this incentive rich program to capture this referral channel.

The Social Strategy1 service will provide your connections with detailed, real-time insights based on what consumers are saying about their brands, products, and industry on the web. Social Strategy1's team of seasoned analysts will monitor its proprietary SS1Engage platform which provides conversation mining from multimedia sources worldwide across thousands of social media websites like Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and Twitter, blogs, mainstream online news, video and photosharing sites, consumer forums, blogs, discussion boards, and other online publications.

To take advantage of this program, simply submit your referrals directly to dave@socialstrategy1.com. Because of the number of referrals expected to be generated by this program, please refer only serious pre-qualified prospects who you have spoken to about the Social Strategy1 product suite. To get more information on Social Strategy1 and what the SS1Engage program can do, please visit http://www.socialstrategy1.com/

If you have any questions, please feel free to either email me or call me at 888-278-4290

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Social "Power" by Use of Personal Sites

“Power”….now that we’ve all learned from my last couple of posts the meaning of informational “Power”, I’ve addressed some of the means to attain it for business use by using professional social sites like Linkedin, Jigsaw, and Zing.

I think the next step in growing your social “Power” is to introduce you to some of the personal use social sites which businesses and business professionals can use to supplement their efforts and increase their “Power”.

I just read a great post this morning from the marketing staff of Social Strategy 1. It gives a high level overview of sites like“Twitter”, “Facebook”, “Digg”, and “Foursquare”. If you’d like to start familiarizing yourself with the next step in social marketing, learn new steps to increase your brand awareness aka “Power”, and start having more prospects call you to “buy” rather than you cold calling them to “sell”, then take a few minutes, click on this link and read the post from Social Strategy 1.


I’m going to begin expanding on these sites and methods in the coming posts so let’s all get thinking about other sites you may use and start a discussion on which one each of us thinks is the best?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Social "Power"

How to Become a Web Presence?

If you read my last blog post on 1990’s Sales vs. 2010 Sales, you learned a term called “Power”. Power is achieved when you have developed a reputation of being an expert.

So, you might ask, “How do I become a product expert?”

Good Question….here’s my view on it.

Today’s internet availability gives each and every one of us the opportunity to develop “Power”. Of course, you must first have knowledge of your field, which you still have to earn the old fashioned way, with training, education, and most of all experience.

Once you feel you’ve achieved your personal “TEE” (Training, Education, & Experience) level required for expert status, your next step is to create and then maximize your personal world-wide presence the internet gives each of us. In order to successfully achieve “Power” in your industry, your goal should be to have your name & profile show up on the first page or two of search engines like Google and Bing when a prospective customer searches for whatever product it is you may be selling or the industry you may be working in.

A good way to judge your current level of “Power” is to do a Google search on yourself and see what the results are. If you gets lots of “hits”, great! You’re well on your way. Next, enter the name of one of your product lines and see if you personally appear on the first page or two.

My Linkedin profile appears prominently when most of my products are searched, thus I have “Power” in my industry. If your profile appears under your product and industry, congratulations, you are doing something right and already have earned a level of “Power” within your industry. But remember…the SEO companies are constantly updating their searches, so even if you have “Power” today, without an ongoing social media strategy and plan, your “Power” could be gone tomorrow.

If your profile doesn’t appear, then you need to begin a targeted effort to develop it.

As I’ve previously stated, as a professional, you should already have your Linkedin profile established. Continue to update this profile AND work it! There’s a great spot on it where you can list your current activities which could include any new products you’re working on, projects you’ve completed, target markets you may be trying to penetrate, etc. When you update this field, it instantly sends an update to each of your professional contacts, keeping them current on your efforts. This tool is invaluable. I would suggest spending a minimum of 1 hour a day trying to expand your professional network as this is the easiest and most efficient way to spread the message of your professional efforts.

There are an abundance of tools available to use on the internet but unfortunately, we as individuals, cannot possibly spend the time necessary to take advantage of all of them. In other words, it’s nice to know where all the ammo is in the war of information but it doesn’t do you any good if you don’t have the weapons to use it with.

That’s where Social Strategy 1 (SS-1) comes in. Social Strategy 1 (SS-1), a division of ILD Corp., provides all the tools you need to manage your reputation and appearance across the internet. We have developed systems to constantly crawl the web, looking for mentions both of your own personal brand, but also those of your industry and even of your competition. Social Strategy 1 (SS-1) then creates a plan which allows you to focus your efforts on the places where you’ll gain the most benefit.

So you ask, “It sounds great, but what do I do with all the information?”

Another great question! There are a lot of “crawlers” you can use to get info sent to you (Google Alerts is one) but Social Strategy 1 (SS-1) goes a step further than the competition. Social Strategy 1 (SS-1) not only utilizes multiple sources for information and aggregates them together in a snapshot for your review, it brings a human factor into the equation. The Social Strategy 1 (SS-1) product line has a team of analysts who can monitor, recommend action, and if necessary, even engage in actions to assist in building and preserving the reputation of your brand and products. Social Strategy 1 (SS-1) can be the tool you need to not only gain, but keep the “Power” I’ve been talking about.

Once you’ve gained “Power”, you’ll start to see calls coming into your office with people looking to speak to you because they’ve seen your name on their search efforts and you must be the “expert” they been looking for. Remember, everyone wants to believe they make good buying decisions. They want to buy from someone who knows what they’re talking about.

To see how Social Strategy 1 (SS-1) from ILD can help you develop and maintain the “power” to increase your sales, contact me @DaveHanron on Twitter or email me @ dave@davehanron.com and I’ll be happy to arrange a demo for you.

Friday, October 8, 2010

1990's Sales vs. 2010 Sales

Sales”……What a vast term. Everyone knows someone who is in or at least has tried a “sales” career. However, very few of us know those who have been successful in making a true lifelong career out of sales.

Has everyone read “Death of a Salesman”, a book written by Arthur Miller? The book is based on an aging salesman named Willy who was once successful but has seen his business drift away. Willy recollects the good times throughout the book, then phases back to reality and the fact that he’s lost his “personality” and wasn’t well liked any longer.

Why did Willy lose his personality? Because he never adapted to changing technologies and ever-changing methods of achieving “Power” status. “Power” is the technique of building your professional reputation as a person of knowledge, being perceived as an expert in your field. People always want to listen to experts, and people who make buying decisions are no different.

Back in the 80’s and 90’s, all the sales courses used to talk about terms like “close ratio” and “value of a sale”. The accepted process to achieving sales success was take your quota, whether it be monthly or annual, divide it by average value of sale, and that’s how many sales you needed to make to hit your number. Take your number of sales, divide it by your close ratio, and that’s how many proposals you had to make throughout the year. Figure your percentage of attaining appointments from prospecting, divide it in your number of appointments, and VOILA! That’s how many customers you needed to cold call…..sales is that simple, right? We all know the answer…..WRONG!

Using this formula today, the results are often impossible to achieve based on this 20+ year old premise. There are only so many hours in the day and quite frankly, cold calling doesn’t work these days. Why? Because today’s Executive are often promoted from the most successful producers within a particular company. That is often the salespeople and thus today’s “Buyers” were yesterday’s salespeople. They know the old techniques as well if not better than you do and won’t be talked into a purchase using them.

So how do we succeed in today’s markets? I say indulge yourself into the information and social media world, and build your reputation “Power”using all the tools available to you today.

1. Start a blog using your own domain. You can purchase one from Google or GoDaddy for as little as $10 per year. You can talk about anything you want on it, your products, your advice, a new sales tool, it’s up to you

2. Join Linkedin and build your profile. Linkedin is basically a Facebook for business professionals. The more connections you can make on Linkedin, the more “Power” your profile has.

3. READ…READ…and READ. Read all the sales e-letters and books you can find. Lots of people have great ideas and techniques (there are lots of “experts” like me out there) and you can pick up something new from everyone. One of the best courses I’ve taken over the years is “Cold Calling is a Waste of Time” by Frank Rumbauskas Jr. It’s about 120 pages + 2 audio CD’s. Lot’s of good stuff in this one. Here’s a link if you’re interested in it.. http://www.nevercoldcall.com/?10072  Trust me, this one is worth the small investment.

4. There are other techniques but I can’t give away all my secrets!......Sorry…

Try using these techniques to help build your professional “Power”. Start building your “Power” and you’ll find prospects will be calling you, not the other way around. Before long, you’ll have more leads than ever before, without using 20 year old techniques….Welcome to 2010!

Good luck and if anyone else has some sales courses they like, I’d love to hear about them…post them hear so we can all benefit! Thanks and Happy Selling

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Who Gets The Sales Comp?

What a GREAT question! This dilemma has been going on for many, many years in the world of sales. Does the sub-agent get paid for subsequent sales, regardless of his involvement level?

Let me give you a for instance?

ABC Telecom Sales President Chris Producer brings your company a new customer, Eagle Machinery, with a signed contract in hand to purchase 5,000 widgets per month for 2 years. Under your existing agent contract, ABC Telecom is compensated 15% of the monthly purchase price on the duration of the contract. Standard business, right? Right!

Two months after the contract is executed, Eagle Machinery contacts your company directly and asks for pricing on a new product line of sprockets your company has just begun advertising. Your Sales Department sends Eagle Machinery the pricing, it’s accepted, and a new contract is signed to purchase 10,000 sprockets each month for 2 years. Who gets the sales comp? Your Sales Department, ABC Telecom’s Chris Producer, or both?

Over my 20+ years in sales, I have experienced many scenarios just like this one. I believe there is ONLY one answer. The agent, in this case, ABC Telecom, absolutely gets comp’d. Your sales department should be compensated on all sales made by the agent channels to begin with, thus eliminating the need to take comp away from the agent to pay your sales group. As long as proper profit models are followed, allowing for the costs of both comp to the agent and the internal sales department, it shouldn’t matter who sold the subsequent business. Everyone should be comp’d.

Establishing an honest, reliable agent channel is perhaps the greatest way for a salesperson to increase their production. Each trusted sales agent working underneath a trusted Sales Manager, multiplies the opportunities brought to the company with very little overhead.

Remember my first rule of a successful sales philosophy….. it doesn’t matter who physically received the signed document, the business was won because of the relationship of the initial contacting party, in this case Chris Producer from ABC Telecom. Without the initial sale, there likely would not have been the subsequent close…..

Remember, always pay your agent channel appropriately…..and watch as the agent feels obligated to you and brings you more business opportunities as your reward. Short change the agents and watch not only your business returns, but also your business reputation head south. And quickly too….!!!

Check out the link below from Phone + magazine for some additional insight on sales and sales ethics…

I’d love to hear from all the sales professionals and agents out there on this…..How do you feel about this topic?


Monday, September 20, 2010

Affiliate Marketing and LEC Billing

Affiliate Marketing and LEC Billing – An Easy way to grow your Digital Goods Business

Affiliate Marketing? What exactly is affiliate marketing?

In today’s internet world, thousands of companies are trying to expand their sales domain by getting individuals looking to make a little extra money to place banner ads on their websites, blogs, twitter and facebook accounts, etc, which refer business to the e-commerce provider’s website. Many of these companies are start ups within the digital e-commerce world. The easiest payment method to get these companies started with seems to be Paypal.

Anybody who searches the web for digital goods quickly becomes familiar with Paypal. Paypal requires folks to submit a credit card for account setup, and down the road offers a standalone pre-paid account direct with their company. Many folks are hesitant to share credit information and often walk away from sales requiring this payment method. As time goes on, and more and more people walk away from credit card purchases, the digital goods vendors are looking for an easy, alternative payment option for their products.

Guess who’s got a ready made solution? Give up? Your good old fashioned local phone company provider. Phone provider you say? Yes! The local phone providers (Verizon, AT&T, AllTel, Century Link, and hundreds of other companies) allow “LEC Billing” for digital products.

LEC Billing”? Local Exchange Company billing has been around for many years for phone related products and has recently been expanded for digital goods. LEC Billing allows consumers to purchase digital goods on the internet by placing a charge on their home phone bill. No credit limit issues, no identity theft concerns, nothing to worry about. Just a clean, simple, easy to use payment method!

This expansion has opened the doors for start-up companies to offer a low cost, secure billing method that accesses more than 140 million households in the United States!

If you’re a digital goods company and are looking to rapidly grow your business by closing those sales which walk away from your checkout page because they don’t want to use a credit card, consider adding LEC Billing and watch your profits on average increase by more than 25%! It’s that simple!

Give it a try and see how LEC Billing will grow YOUR business!

Contact me at dave.hanron@ildmail.com to find out how LEC Billing can help get you on your way to bigger profits……

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

3rd Party Landline Billing

Lot’s of press these days…some good, some bad on landline phone billing as a payment option for digital merchants. Let’s face it, in today’s recessionary economy, credit is getting tighter and tighter…banks are lowering credit limits and raising interest rates on credit cards. Maybe our parents had it right…my father once said ”Dave, whenever possible, don’t use credit…it only gets you in trouble. If you can’t afford to pay for it, you don’t need it”.

More and more, today’s consumers are looking for alternate methods to pay for their purchases. This has led to the onslaught of new payment options, from Paypal, to pre-paid subscription cards, to Google checkout, to Amazon Payments, and yes, Bill to Landline.

One common factor in all these alternatives other than Bill to Landline is that they all ultimately refer back a credit or debit card provided to the processing company. While Paypal, Google, and Amazon all deal with the consumer settlements for the merchants, the funds are still ultimately under control of Mastercard, Visa, or AMEX.

Bill to Landline is the only true alternative giving the consumer the option to purchase a digital good WITHOUT the use of some type of credit card. Merchants that use Bill to Landline must go through an extremely thorough background review, including company and officer background and fraud checks, marketing material reviews, sales and sales verification script reviews, post-sales confirmation reviews, and customer service policy reviews.

I know, you might ask “Can an unscrupulous merchant sneak through the approval process and cause bad social media reviews for a Bill to Landline company?”

Unfortunately, as it is with all the other methods, the answer is “yes”. It happens. Not all people are trustworthy and occasional a bad merchant might sneak through and cause bad press for the billing company. Today, please be assured that the billing companies are working hard through social media monitoring and engagement to deal with these issues as quickly as possible and to shut down any merchant found to be in violation of their set of standard billing & practices policies, up to and including issuing refunds to the consumer on services and goods not received or not properly authorized.

That aside, the Bill to Landline service offers a great revenue stream to merchants, helping to capture a sale from a consumer who otherwise would have left the checkout page without ever purchasing the digital good.

To find out how Bill to Landline can help grow revenues for your e-commerce company, please contact me at dave.hanron@ildmail.com

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What is Sales? The Truth Behind Cold Calls

Cold calls, prospecting, leads, qualified, close ratio, average value of sale....... these are all buzz words used in sales and sales management. But what do they really mean and how do they relate to sales success. Is the successful sales person the one who struggles each month to make “quota”, making hundreds of cold calls, only to be rejected hundreds of times? Can’t be much fun dealing with all that rejection….think of this, if you ran into a stone wall trying to knock it down, but failed, would you continue to do it hundreds of more times throughout the month? Probably not, as it would only beat your body up. Ultimately, doing hundreds of cold calls with no results does the same thing. Maybe not physically, but it sure does mentally! So, if cold calling doesn’t work, what makes the successful salesperson successful? Working smart, not working hard. (I’m by no means advocating sitting in front of the television all day or spending every afternoon on the golf course, but there is certainly a better way to spend your time than cold calling). The old adage is if you are a sales person not making your numbers, simply work harder and you’ll attain your goals. Not true. Working harder with methods that don’t work only leads to more poor results. In today’s digital age, the successful sales person must build his/her image to the point that the consumer reaches out to you, not the other way around. You must be perceived as an expert in your field, a person who the consumer WANTS to buy from. It’s been proven over time that 80% of sales take place on the first or second appointment. What does this mean? It means stop wasting time on old leads in your “Funnel” and focus your time on new, high potential clients. If you don’t close the sale by the 3rd contact at the very latest, move on to the next opportunity. Remember, regardless of what your sales manger may tell you, no one closes every deal! If you do nothing but follow that one simple piece of advice, your results will improve almost immediately. A sales person must develop a highly professional image, through the use of the tools available to them today. And there are lots of them available for free. Linkedin, Jigsaw, Zoom, are all great networking sites to name just a few. Take the time to develop your professional profiles on these sites and you’ll soon see the search engines picking up your name higher on the results pages. Be sure to include your industry’s “buzz” words to enhance the likelihood of your name being found by a potential client. If you stick with this plan, even work on developing your own professional blog (like this one) and try and create a following. Try spending a couple hours each weekend on the laptop, tweaking your profiles, updating your blog, and adding to your professional network. Trust me, it doesn’t take too long to get results. Soon you’ll be having potential buyers contacting YOU to buy, not the other way around. Today’s digital age is yesterday’s referrals on steroids. Try it out and then sit back and watch the sales results roll in.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Credit Card vs. Phone Bill Payment

(reposted from ILD Teleservices Blog ) When making a purchase online, there are a variety of methods that can be used to complete a payment transaction. Two of the most common used are credit and third party billing to a telephone bill. These two methods are similar in some aspects but vary in several.Applying a purchase to a phone bill works similarly to credit card transactions in that the customer chooses the bill to phone payment option then is prompted to enter their telephone data much in the same way credit card information is entered to be verified and accepted. There is information obtained that is unique to the bill subscriber that is used strictly for verification purposes. The information is then communicated from the merchant over a secure gateway to a processor, or third party biller (also known as third party clearinghouse). Next, the data is authenticated by the processor or clearinghouse. Once the identifier information is authenticated, the clearinghouse sends confirmation back to the merchant. The merchant then sends the EMI record for billing to the clearinghouse for processing. The clearinghouse in turn sends the EMI record to the Local Exchange Carrier (LEC) for inclusion in the next billing cycle. The LEC is responsible to remit payments received less processing fees to the clearinghouse, which then is remitted by the clearinghouse to the merchant, much like credit card payment flow as follows (courtesy of Bank of America).In the credit card world, the flow of information and money between the merchant, the acquirer, card association and issuer is known as the interchange, and it consists of a few steps:AuthorizationThe cardholder pays for the purchase and the merchant submits the transaction to the acquirer. The acquirer verifies with the issuer—almost instantly—that the card number and transaction amount are both valid, and then processes the transaction for the cardholder.BatchingAfter the transaction is authorized it is then stored in a batch, which the merchant sends to the acquirer later to receive payment (usually at the end of the day).Clearing and settlementThe acquirer sends the transactions in the batch through the card association, which debits the issuers for payment and credits the acquirer. In effect, the issuers pay the acquirer for the transactions.FundingOnce the acquirer has been paid, the merchant receives payment. The amount the merchant receives is equal to the transaction amount minus the discount rate, which is the fee the merchant pays the acquirer for processing the transaction.Bill to Phone MethodThe bill to phone method is different from credit card purchases in that the consumer is not offered a credit line, but has the ability to charge services to their home phone bill by the phone company. Payment in full is due during the next billing cycle. In general, with this form of payment merchants are not paid until the consumer pays the bill. However, there are instances and companies that forward monies to the merchant upon receipt of the bill in expectance of compliance by the subscriber, which is direct billing.There are benefits to applying a purchase price to an existing telecommunications account. Being that the account is already established, minimal identifier information is necessary to complete the transaction. This means that your credit information is still safe and secure and not across the internet for the public to see. Let’s face it; the internet is not the most secure place to display personal information. This method of alternative payment is not only more secure, it is easy to do. The ease of use coupled with the security is what sets this method apart from credit card transactions.

Friday, July 23, 2010

ILD Corp Named One of Top 100 Companies to Work For in Florida

I'm proud to announce ILD as been recognized as one of the top 100 companies to work for in Florida. FloridaTrend.com does an annual review of all companies in FL with more than 15 employees and then rates the top 100. ILD was #36 on that list for this year's ranking To read the entire article, please go to http://tinyurl.com/29b67js

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What a Great Tool

What a Great Tool! Ever want to capture a section of an article or a photo from a web site only to be blocked by the security of the document? I think we’ve all experienced that problem over the years. Whether it’s an Adobe doc or a secure web site, many of the software programs in use today for publishing prevent copying of their information for use on another document. Well Microsoft has changed all that with their little known “Snipping Tool”. Located under “Accessories” in Office 2007, the snipping tool provides an easy method to copy and paste any information from any viewable source to your clipboard for use in another application. It’s really simple to use too. Open the source of information you are looking to copy, then click the “Start” button, then click on “Accessories”, then click on “Snipping Tool”. A new pop-up window will appear in your window of the material. Click on “New” and a cursor arrow will appear. You can move this with your mouse to the furthest upper left point of the information you wish to copy then left click the mouse, drag the cursor to expand the copy box around the entire block of information. Once all the information is contained within the block, release the mouse button and you are now ready to paste the info to the application of your choice. To paste the info, go to the application you are going to use, place the cursor within the page or sheet where you are working and then press “Ctrl “ and “V” simultaneously, and voila! Your information is now pasted for you. I learned this a few months back and have found lots of uses for this tool. I hope you too find this helpful. If any of you have found any other helpful tools, I’d love to hear about them!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

ILD Corp.'s New Venture --Social Strategy 1

ILD Corp.'s newest division, Social Strategy 1 continues to receive some great press coverage....Crunchbase, a widely used database of technolgy companies has recently posted a new overview of SS-1. It can be read at http://tinyurl.com/35dyhbz The use of social media is becoming more important each day as the use of the internet for information sharing expands every day. The massive amount of media coverage on the world's events (like the BP oil spill) is mandating both people and corporations engage in the use of social media. As many companies evolve with their social media needs, it is obvious that there is a major shortfall in the experience required to effectively monitor and engage the consumers comments and opinions on a timely basis. Selecting a partner who has the necessary expertise is essential to keep the social wheels turning, and allowing your internal employees focus their attention on growing new revenues. While many people feel they address social media needs by following one of many available tools like Google Alerts, it is the personal interaction provided by the SS-1 analyst which makes the difference between being effective growing your brand and simply getting lots of "hits" and not knowing what to do with them. I'm interested in hearing how others are currently handling their social interaction needs? Is it effective? How do your consumers react to the experience?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

How's Your Reputation Doing These Days

Wouldn't want to be BP Oil these days. The giant oil firm is really taking the heat from the ecological damage caused by the oil spill in the Gulf these days. Ongoing efforts to close the leak have proved ineffective and oil continues to flow from the damaged pipe. Just now, with curiosity getting the best of me, I "Googled" "BP Oil Spill" and the search returned over 3,240,000 hits. Wow! This disaster is proof positive for the need of a plan to keep your business' reputation and consumer responses positive and engaging. It will be interesting to follow the social efforts of BP going forward, watching how they "listen" to the consumer and advocacy groups, "learn" from the experience, and ultimately "engage" the public to repair their reputation in the public eye. Exxon-Mobil is still hearing about the Exxon Valdez incident in 1989. But to put the interent growth into perspective for you, I just "Googled" "Exxon Valdez Oil Spill" and it returned over 1,700,000 hits. So the incident in 1989 is receiving slightly more than 50% of the 3,200,000+ google mentions that the current BP Oil incident is receiving. It's for just this reason that Social Strategy 1 has emerged into the social media market. I'd love to hear your thoughts on various methods of social monitoring and engagement. We're moving into unexplored technological times, with the internet growing faster and bigger by the day. We can either "engage" the expansion and grow with it, or we can stand idly by and watch progress pass by us like a ship on the horizon.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"How Are You Perceived?"

In today’s ever evolving cyber-space world, your business’ brand and reputation are more important than ever. Gone are the days of the Consumer pulling out the “Yellow Pages” and searching for a company to provide a service or product. In the good old days, Consumers would often buy from the company who they perceived as the “Biggest” and Best”. This selection process was very often driven by the simple process of buying the biggest Yellow Page ad your company could afford, positioning your company on one of the first pages of a particular service or product section in the Yellow Pages. I’m sure all of us know at least one person who sold Yellow Pages ads (and they made a lot of money doing it too!) This process was the first of many evolutions, leading to today’s practice of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This is simply the process by which companies move their web sites to the first few pages of the various search engines like Google and Yahoo which are so widely used today. Do you know what is being said about your company, your employees, your customer service group or even the CEO? Brand awareness is a necessity in today’s market. You’ve worked hard to build your company’s reputation which is GREAT. But don’t stop there. Take the next step and bridge from your successful effort in building the brand and let’s bridge the gap between marketing and new sales. Do you know what your competition is doing? New sales campaigns or promos? Did they just hire a “heavy hitter” for their sales team? All of these items are extremely important to running a profitable and growing business. How do you keep on top of all this when you’re already working 12 hour days and can’t afford a full-time staff dedicated to monitoring your business? by using the tools available through Social Media…. Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin are just a few examples of how today’s sales force is developing the key business relationships which drive both company growth and profits. All through the use of Social Media. Social Strategy 1 has developed the technologies, hired the expert analysts, and has created the outsourced solution for this problem. By “Listening”, “Learning”, and ultimately “Engaging” the Consumer, the Social Strategy 1 solution will help focus your staff’s attention on what can impact business the most. To see a demo of the Social Strategy 1 dashboard technology and to get a free no obligation analysis of how using Social Media can affect your business, please contact me at dave@socialstrategy1.com or 781-937-0420

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Social Media Continues to Evolve

According to today’s Yahoo Finance, http://tinyurl.com/2ewc9ya , a Google executive said the number of people connected to the World Wide Web will nearly triple in the next ten years. According to Nikesh Arora, president of global sales and business development at Google, Web consumers will rise to 5 billion by 2020, compared with about 1.8 billion today. "We're going to have a problem...it's going to be very hard to find the information that's relevant to us," Arora said, adding that the Internet will contain 53 zettabytes, or 53 sextillion pieces of information, at that point. "The distinction between the offline world and the online world will go away," Arora said. Because of this ongoing expansion of the internet, social media will continue to evolve into the next generation of consumer support. Facebook, Twitter, Flicker, You Tube, Yelp, Google, Linkedin, Zoom, and Jigsaw are just some examples of websites developed to increase the ease in which consumers can voice their opinions on today’s businesses. As more and more consumers begin using the internet, a need to stay on top of these types of consumer “tweets” is growing rapidly and those companies that embark on a process to address social media will flourish. Those companies ignoring it will be left behind. Social Strategy 1, a division of ILD Corp., has developed an outsource solution for business to follow their social media mentions and actually “engage” the consumer. Knowing how your company is being “tweeted” about is one thing. While a traditional search engine optimization (SEO) company can tell you how many times your company is mentioned and an online reputation management (ORM) company can help deal with the complaints, actually knowing how to make these mentions work for YOU it is another thing entirely. Knowing what to do about it requires a trained professional analyst with expertise in developing business plans to “listen” to the consumer, “learn” about the consumer’s’ needs and then “engage” the consumer, addressing both positive and negative comments. Don’t let dust settle on the information you receive from the internet. Put it to work to enhance your company. If you are interested in seeing how Social Strategy 1 can help your business with its social media needs, please contact me to set up a no obligation, risk free assessment of your business. I will include access to our on-line reporting dashboards, analyst recommendations and other pertinent components of the SS-1 solution. I can be reached at dave@socialstrategy1.com

Thursday, April 29, 2010

ILD Outsource Services Targets Cellular Market

ILD Corp's Outsource division prides itself on delivering the industry's highest level of service, utilizing state of the art facilities to provide automated and live operators to assist in completing collect and credit card calls from pay telephones, hotels, hospitals, universities, and businesses. In today's ever-evolving market, calls to cellular numbers continue to increase and now represent in excess of 50% of the attempted volumes. Traditional billing methods for collect calls to cellular numbers do not apply as the wireless companies have so far refused to enter into similar billing arrangements that the clearinghouses have been able to attain for the land-line Local Exchange Companies. ILD's clearinghouse, ILD Payment Processing, continues to negotiate with the wireless carriers to obtain these agreements. In the interim, Outsource Services continues to explore various methods of completing and billing calls to cellular users. Currently, several beta tests are in process and will hopefully prove successful in our efforts. While details of the beta tests are proprietary, Senior Vice Presient of Outsource Services, Robin Collins recently stated that "It's time we trusted the Consumer to pay their bills". Check back later for further updates on the results of the tests!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

ILD Corporation starts new division Social Strategy 1

ILD Corp. has started a new division called Social Strategy 1. Social strategy 1 will provide small to medium size businesses the opportunity to outsource their reputation and brand management needs at a reasonable price. As the internet and smartphone markets continue to expand, fewer consumers are using traditional methods of business research such as yellow pages or newspaper advertisements. More and more consumers are turning to the internet search engines to find the company they're looking for. With this trend, the need to maintain a good, positive business reputation on-line is growing rapidly. Social Strategy 1 will provide monitor of web hits for both positive and negative mentions of a business, have a team of seasoned analysts determine the best approach to engage the consumer, and recommend courses of action for the comapny to take to address the comments. If necessary, the Social Strategy 1 team will even perform the interaction with the consumer on behalf of the business. The Social Strategy team can also assist in search engine optimization (SEO) which helps determine how high on the first pages of the search engine the business appears. For far less than the cost of hiring a full time marketing rep plus providing benifits, contracting with a web-crawler company and the time to respond to all of the mentions on the internet, the Social Strategy 1 team will fullfill all these functions. Contact Dave Hanron @ 781-937-0420 or visit www.social strategy1.com for more information