Saturday, April 30, 2011

Become an Expert and Grow Sales

Today’s information explosion has created limitless opportunity for a person to grow his business exponentially. The only thing required is a new perspective and some time to implement a new strategy.

Years ago, in order to write more sales and close more deals, a company had to have an extensive sales force, trained in the 3 major aspects of a successful salesperson: prospecting, presenting, and ultimately, closing. Today, I’m not sure that’s the best method for business growth.

Remember the famous quote in the 1992 movie Glenngarry Glenn Ross, “You want to work here? Close!”? This movie was shown over and over by sales managers across all industries for years. I personally had a sales manager in my early WorldCom days, who could recite nearly all of the sales quotes in the movie. I too developed a fond memory of the quotes and remember many of them to this day.

The leads are weak!” cries Shelly Levine (played by Jack Lemmon). Blake from Mitch & Murray (played by Alex Baldwin) then counters....”The leads are weak? You’re weak!”.

That’s one of my favorites. Translated into today’s sales market, I agree the traditional “leads” are weak. Today’s buyers were yesterday’s sales people and they know all the old tricks of prospecting. Think of it this way, how often does the executive staff at your company take “cold calls” from sales people? I’d bet not very often. This habit of rejection has turned the job of prospecting into an endless repetition of voice mail and unreturned emails.

So you ask, “Ok, if traditional prospecting methods don’t work, what do I do to generate leads and write more business?”.

Simple. Make yourself into an expert and make people want to buy from you. That’s how.

Today’s decision makers know what they want and typically research it on the web prior to making any purchases. Your goal is to create a personal brand (and not necessarily a business brand) which positions you as an authority on your specific product or industry. When people search the web, you want your name to appear as high on the search engines as possible. In order to make this happen, there are a lot of “get rich quick” schemes advertised. Companies promising Search Engine Optimization or SEO are popping up every day. My advice to you is ignore the website promising you “1st page listing on Google” and get to work on it yourself. It will take some time and effort, but you can do it. It won’t happen overnight but with some persistence and perseverance you can get there.

The easiest way to start building your brand is get a Twitter and Facebook account. These are free and will begin to get your name out on the web. Next, join Linkedin ( It is basically Facebook for the business professional. Create your profile and start linking with your business connections.

Next comes the fun part. Start a blog. Even if you’ve never written before, start a blog and jump in. Blogger from Google is free or you can search the web for “free blog” and you’ll find an extensive list to choose from. Now you won’t have thousands of readers right away, but trust me. Keep at it, post regularly, “tweet” on Twitter, build a following and before you know it, your brand will start creeping up the search engines. Once you get a base of followers, consider going to a hosting company like Go Daddy ( and purchase a private web domain. It's not expensive and really gives your writings some credibility.  Remember, you want your writing to be informative, not necessarily a constant sales pitch. Readers want information so include links to support your opinions whenever possible. You can write on a variety of topics, so have fun with it and you’ll get results.

These are just the basics to start building a brand. There’s lots more to it like using backlinks, becoming interactive in social media, webinars, etc. we can talk about in another post but you have enough to get started on your way to success in today’s sales environment.

Don’t wait another day. Start right now and set aside an hour or two a day to work on your personal brand. The returns will be slow but constant and once it gets going, the growth is almost impossible to stop. Before you know it, you’ll be getting inbound calls and direct messages from prospects looking to buy!

I enjoy hearing about your successes or any ideas you might want to add to my techniques. Feel free to leave a comment or I can be reached @DaveHanron on Twitter or at

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Twitter - A Social Way for Everyone to Make Money

Social Media…..we’re all deeply embedded into it. And seemingly for good reason. It works! And now people are making real money not only using these sites, but selling their audience base for a fee.

Just this morning, I was glancing through my Twitter account and noticed a “tweet” referring me to eBay. The tweet mentioned “get your product out to 380,000+ followers”. I clicked on the link and VOILA!, there was a genuine product for sale on eBay.

For a mere $40, there is a seller who apparently has amassed 380k+ followers and is willing to share his connections for 28 days for a small fee. Now that’s a novel idea.

Not sure whether this is ethical or not. On one hand, it seems to me like they’re basically doing the same thing as selling an email list of contacts. On the other, it is truly taking social media to another level and making use of your personal sphere of influence to make some money. And everyone wants to make money.

If you want to check it out, the seller is “isurf2net” on eBay. There’s also a lower cost model offering re-Tweets to 80k+ followers for 28 days for $10.

It seems inevitable that sites like Twitter and Facebook would evolve into marketing means for small and large businesses alike. There are hundreds of Twitter users out there with millions of followers. As of this writing, Lady Gaga has the largest reach, with over 9.5 million followers. Think of that….if Lady Gaga were to offer her Twitter followers for a fee, what do you think she could charge? If 380k followers are worth $40, would people pay $500 to reach 9.5 million? Not sure, but it’s an interesting thought. Maybe if you pick the right product for the right “follower” audience, we may be onto something here….

I think the bigger question in this topic is will people tolerate being bombarded with solicitations on Twitter and Facebook? I enjoy going through Twitter posts as I find many interesting posts. I question though whether all people will tolerate sales pitches on a personal account level. Could we see a mass “unfollow” on sites that openly sell their follow list or will it become standard practice to gauge your individual advertising power?

If you want to find out your current social media prowess, trying going to and entering your Twitter name. This is a relatively new site (I found it in a Boston Globe newspaper article on social media a few weeks ago) which will give you a snapshot ranking from 0 to 100 of your social influence. Add your Linkedin and Facebook accounts to it and it will add those into consideration model too.

If you’re looking to get more involved in the social media world and would like to consider adding an experienced team of industry analysts to your social media campaigns to help expand your reach, please drop me a note @DaveHanron on Twitter or at

Monday, April 18, 2011

Using Premium SMS for your Digital Business? Time to Switch to New Technology

In previous years, most digital merchants offering products on the internet used Paypal, credit card, and premium SMS (PSMS) services to receive payment on their services. Recently, the traditional phone companies like AT&T, Verizon, and Century linked have jumped into the market and started to allow “Information, & Entertainment Transaction Billing (IETB) direct on home or business phone bills for select, high profile merchants.

Internet merchants have struggled with payment options for years. Today’s identity breach concerns have forced many consumers to shy away from credit card use online. Paypal’s a little better but the Consumer still either has to provide a credit card or debit card number to Paypal, or make a pre-paid deposit into the Paypal system. A little more security but still a concern to many Consumers. IETB billing is better, but as more and more people move to a mobile phone only at their home, the merchants’ reach for IETB billing continues to shrink.

So Merchants began looking for yet another payment option and started turning to the “Premium SMS’ concept.

What is “SMS”? SMS stands for “Short Message Service”. The SMS concept was created in 1984 by Friedhelm Hillebrand and Bernard Ghillebaert. SMS messages are similar to “Tweets”. Restricted to 140 characters, you are limited in your message. The SMS market quickly determined a need to send an “SMS-like” message, but have the ability to charge a fee to the recipient for a digital service, like a ringtone. This idea evolved into the “Premium SMS” (PSMS) business we all see even today. When you see something like “Text to XXXXX and instantly receive your favorite team’s latest updates for $9.99 per month”, you’re using PSMS. You get the $9.99 billed monthly to your cellular phone bill each month and all is good.

Good for the Consumer. Bad for the Merchant! In PSMS programs, the cellular carrier keeps ~45% of the product fee, and the owner of the “Short Code” (a short code for PSMS is typically 5-6 digits long and cost between $500 and $1000 per month to maintain) will usually take about 5%, leaving ~50% of the product price for the Merchant. It was OK, but not great.

Today, “Direct Carrier Billing” has been developed for mobile phone accounts and is currently available and quickly replacing PSMS programs for merchants. Current restrictions are pretty stringent as the program is in its infancy. All products must be ordered and consumed from a browser. Price points cannot exceed $29.95, but this is quite a bit better than the typical PSMS limit of $9.99. Currently, no “in-app” products will be approved.

Direct Billing allows a merchant to invoice the consumer for their digital product directly on their mobile phone bill, with returns in the 80% range. The setup process is an easy, straight forward process, with a short application and small set up fee. A merchant can be approved and billing within 30 days of application filing. The merchant gets a much improved return over the PSMS program, and gets to place a description of the product ( Example: “ACME Home Warranty Monthly Premium -- $24.95”) directly on the consumers’ mobile invoice, making adjustments less likely as the Consumer knows what the charge is for.

Drop me a message @DaveHanron on Twitter or email me @ for more information on this new wave of payments and take advantage of “Direct Carrier Billing”

Sunday, April 10, 2011

How's Your First Impression?

You only get one chance to make a good 1st impression on someone. If you’re in sales, it is even more important you come across as both friendly and knowledgeable. But keep in mind, while both of these traits are important, don’t overdue either one.

I’m sure you’ve heard the term “Elevator Pitch”? We all have a canned story we try to use when we first meet a prospect and they ask the dreaded question “So, what do you do?”

There are many ways people answer these questions. Let’s for discussion purposes assume we have a real estate agent attending a networking event. Following are some of the methods people use when giving their sales speech.

There’s the “impress” method, which involves a person trying to make himself seem important by using titles. “I’m the Founder and Owner of a multi-million dollar, worldwide conglomerate in the housing market”. What? OK, what exactly does that mean? The Prospect is left scratching his head, wondering what he just heard. Not my idea of a great pitch……

Next, there is the “I’m intelligent” approach…..”I am employed in the high tech world working with Title 9 services, throughout the Northeast region of the United States. I deal with all of the Fortune 100 companies putting them in position to make money”. Huh?

Third, there is the “Title/Product “ approach……”I’m Director of Real Estate for my firm. We sell commercial and residential properties”. OK, at least I know what this person does for a living. He’s a sales guy, brokering properties to families in a downsized market, probably to people who will ultimately be foreclosed on. Of course, that is my assumption, but that’s what people do when you lead with a job title. The Prospect already forms an opinion of what you do, right or wrong. Either way, you’ve lost control of the Prospect and worse yet, you’ve become a commodity.

There are other approaches, as some people go into their company’s historical background “We’ve been in the real estate business for more than 100 years and have been the leading agent since my Great Grandfather started the firm in 1888”. Nice story for the dinner table, but it helps the Prospect how?

To earn the attention of the new prospect, you need to take a different approach. Something like "My company assists local businesses and familes who are in need of new surroundings.  We work with our clients to help them find affordable homes and/or business space which will allow them to improve  their current situations".   Incorporating words like “help”, “assist”, “coordinate”, "improve", “win”, “engage”, “launch”, and “develop” will create an air of approachability to your pitch, enabling the prospect to decide how you could help him in his business, as opposed to selling him something for his business. The soft approach by implying you are there to help his business goes a long way and creates the impression you are more of an expert in your field; a person people & companies come to because they need your services, not because you sold them your services.

One word of caution when developing your message is always try to avoid the word “consultant”. There is a common conception that consultants are people who are trying to start their own businesses after working for a large firm for many years. And their services are over-priced……..

The last thing to keep in mind is after you’ve written your message, PRACTICE! PRACTICE! PRACTICE! Practice to the point you can say it in your sleep. You want your message to roll off your tongue as if you’ve been giving it for decades…….putting a little extra effort into your sales intro will reap rewards down the road.

Good Luck and have fun creating your perfect “Elevator Speech”.

Please share your experiences with me as I enjoy hearing about other’s success stories……

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Where is Butler University?

Founded in 1885 and located 5 miles from downtown Indianapolis, Butler University is home to more than 4,000 students. Butler is ranked as the 2nd best university in the Regional Universities Midwest category of the 2011 U.S. News & World Report America's Best Colleges. This same publication ranked Butler as the No. 1 "Up-and-Coming" institution among Regional Universities Midwest, and one of 68 nationwide. Of their incoming freshman class for 2011-2012, 50% ranked in the top 10% of their high school class. Pretty impressive stuff…….

But who REALLY knows Butler University? When I was looking for colleges coming out of Boston Latin School in 1981, I had never heard of Butler, never mind thought of going there. This morning, odds are most of the US population knows of Butler University. Why? Because they made it to the finals of one of the world’s premier sporting events…the NCAA Basketball Championship……for the second year in a row! And the national press coverage they’ve been getting has opened our eyes….I was asked twice yesterday by friends “Where is Butler anyways?”….

I think we can all agree that questions like “Where is Butler anyways?” should make the Butler University administration rethink the use of their advertising budget.  After all, we all know Harvard is in Cambridge, Mass, Notre Dame is in South Bend, and UCLA is in Los Angeles.

While the Cinderella story didn’t have the ending Butler was hoping for as the Bulldogs fell to the UConn Huskies last night, 53-41, the Butler season remains a great storyline for millions of fans.

Now is the perfect time for the Butler administration to jump all over the publicity and start a campaign to boost the University’s recruiting efforts. With a jump start from the national press coverage they’ve received, a good, focused informational campaign targeted at high school juniors and seniors would greatly enhance the reputation of Butler University and lift the school to new heights in the recruiting arena.

Not only would this approach help the Bulldogs to continue to recruit world class high school athletes for their sports teams, they also could reach out to more world class scholars to consider their university. There are loads of National Honor Society students who don’t play interscholastic sports, but they may be participating in the marching bands for those teams. Or they could simply be a fan of great college basketball and want to have the opportunity to attend championship level games on their home campus as part of their college experience. What student wouldn’t want to go to a university whose sports programs offer them the opportunity to travel the United States with their friends, attending some of the country’s most prestigious campuses, while supporting your school and getting a great education, all at the same time?

The problem is how could the administration get the message of this great school out to the future high school graduating classes? Social media…..that’s how!

Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Flicker, Foursquare, MySpace, and hundreds of other sites are all helpful in delivering your message to the public. The issue is how to get it done?

Like it or not, Social Media is here to stay.  Social Media is an information explosion taking place before our eyes. Most of us are involved in it in some way, shape, or fashion, even if we don’t recognize it. Think you’re not part of the craze? How then did you find this post? Social media….that’s how?

If you have a story like Butler’s or want to create one to capitalize on the opportunity to generate more buzz about your business’ brand, drop me a note @davehanron on Twitter or on email. I’ll be happy to help provide advice on developing a targeted social media campaign for you.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Social Strategy1 Brings "Business Intelligence" to Social Media

With the Social Strategy1 (SS-1) “Engage” platform, social media and business brand management is being taken to another level. As ILD Corp.’s newest division, Social Strategy1 is setting the trend by bringing “Business Intelligence” to social media. SS-1 has developed and added a new, personalized component to the task of managing your good name and reputation in the internet community. With the growth of the internet expected to continue for the foreseeable future, a major need to manage the vast amounts of mentions a company gets on a daily basis has evolved.

Whether you have a happy, satisfied customer “tweeting” their satisfaction with your product, or a consumer who feels they were mistreated in some way venting on, a business needs to know. There are loads of ways to try and track these mentions, from Google Alerts, to Tracker, to Facebook, Linkedin, and You can try and gather some of the information yourself but who has time to review hundreds or even thousands of mentions per month? That’s where SS-1 comes in to help!

SS-1 brings live, experienced, business intelligence to the forefront. No longer is your company's social media program in the hands of a couple staff members who are just now learning social media. Not only does SS-1 brings all of today's common monitoring capabilities using state of the art technologies, we also provide live, experienced social media analysts who will review your business’ mentions on a daily basis, streamlining all the information into an easy to use, dashboard style report your company can access daily, ranking the most relevant and impacting mentions so appropriate actions can be taken.
If it’s a happy customer, let the SS-1 team help you post the mention into the social media mainstream to help enhance your brand…..nothing is worth the benefit of a great referral! If it’s an unsatisfied consumer, let the SS-1 team help get the appropriate response out to the consumer. The SS-1 team works as a partner for your business, not as a research tool to simply search the web!

For instance, if a consumer buys an electric helicopter for their child, but complains that the battery only lasts 20 minutes, a good response would be a posting referring the consumer to a site where they could purchase a second battery to extend the useful time of the product…maybe even offer a gift card for a second battery when they purchase the product?

To see how the Social Strategy team can help your business and review a demo of the
SS-1 “Engage” program please drop me a note @davehanron on Twitter or and I’d be pleased to go through the program