Not to End up “Just Following Up” Email

 

 

Just wanted to check in with you and see if you’d had a chance to check out my proposal for the 4 of July Business Party.

What? Really?

The opening to my blog post didn’t provide you with any value or reason to continue reading. I hate to admit it, but I even do it every now and then. So why do we still use it when we’re following up with prospects? Because sometimes we’re selfish and lazy. But messages like that are annoying and disruptive to the recipient.

 

The problem is that we all know that following up is critical to closing deals. According to Referral Squirrel:

  • 2% of sales are made on the First contact.
  • 3% of sales are made on the Second contact.
  • 5% of sales are made on the Third contact.
  • 10% of sales are made on the Fourth contact.
  • 80% of sales are made on the Fifth to Twelfth contact.

However…

  • 48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect.
  • 25% of sales people make a second contact and stop.
  • 12% of sales people make three contacts and stop.
  • Only 10% of sales people make it more than Three contacts with a prospect.

It is well known that repeat customers and referral business are the two best (and cheapest to acquire) types of business.

We’ve all sent the “just checking in” email before. So what should you be doing instead? Hubspot (one of the Kings of content marketing…along with one of my virtual mentors: Seth Godin “virtual” because he doesn’t know me, I just obsessively read everything he puts out) says that there are three key ways to drastically improve these “check-in” emails:

  1. Google Alerts – Set up a custom Google Alert for your prospect’s company name, competition and industry keywords. That will create a trigger event to customize your follow up email.
  2. LinkedIn Groups – Find a LinkedIn Group that discusses their industry. That will provide you with content and an actual reason to follow up.
  3. Signals Alerts – Signals allows you to track when your prospect is actually opening and/or clicking your email. That way, you know when they open your email and will help you with the timing of your follow up. (By the way, I’m not an affiliate for Hubspot or Signals…I guess I should be…anyway, there are plenty of email tracking services available. Just Google “email tracking software”)

Hubspot has a great slide deck that you can check out by clicking here.

The point is, you don’t get any value out of the emails you receive that say, “Just checking in” so stop sending them out to your clients and prospects and start sending something of value. You can’t afford not to nowadays in the modern world of constant interruption (how many emails, texts, phone calls, snapchats, etc. did you get while reading this 500 word Blog?)

Make sure your clients and prospects know that you are THE thought leader in your space.

Advertisements

How you end your work week: Friday afternoon.

firday

How you end your work week will not only have a huge impact on how productive you are the following week, but also may determine how relaxed you are over the weekend.

“Successful people tend to adhere to routines in general, so it’s no surprise that the most successful people I know maintain a Friday afternoon routine,” says Michael Kerr, an international business speaker and author of “You Can’t Be Serious! Putting Humor to Work.”

Here are 10 things successful people typically do on a Friday afternoon:

1. They reflect on their accomplishments from the week.It’s far too easy to wallow over what you didn’t accomplish, Kerr says. “Successful people tend to flip that around and remind themselves of just how much progress they did make, even if it’s only ‘small wins.'” Acknowledging and appreciating your accomplishments not only boosts your happiness levels, but it fuels momentum. “A great ritual for team leaders to create is to turn this into a Friday afternoon team huddle tradition, wherein everyone shares their top three accomplishments for the week,” Kerr suggests.

2. They figure out their priorities for the following week. Successful people take time on Friday afternoon to reflect on their professional and personal lives and determine three to five major priorities they want to accomplish for each, says Laura Vanderkam, author of “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.”

3. They establish a schedule and to-do list for the following week.They don’t just prioritize; they plan, Vanderkam says. “If you assign each priority a deadline, things are likely to get done. You want to hit Monday morning knowing what you need to do, so you’re not wasting that time figuring this out.” Having a plan for Monday also results in a more relaxed weekend, she adds. “Your to-do list won’t be nagging at your brain for two days.”

4. They carve out downtime for the following week. Kerr says driven, successful people can easily fall into the workaholic trap and lose sight of “the long game,” but they always prioritize and plan for downtime. “They think about how they can maintain their work-life balance the following week. They understand that for them to be at their best, to be most productive, and to accomplish everything they need to during the following week, they need to have some free time.”

5. They get organized. “Many successful people I know take 15 to 30 minutes every Friday afternoon to clean out and organize their email files and to clean and organize their office, so that they know they are returning to a fresh, organized start the following week,” Kerr says. “Some find it therapeutic, as it can help clear the psychological clutter as well, and it has become a ritualistic way of capping the end of the week.”

6. They let people know how accessible they’ll be that weekend.Successful people set technology ground rules before leaving, both with themselves and key people around them, Kerr says. They let their staff and coworkers know whether they plan to respond to emails or voice mails over the weekend, and if so, when.

7. They think about their weekend plans. Vanderkam says if you don’t already have weekend plans by Friday afternoon, you should take some time to think about what you’d like to do. Perhaps you’ve been dying to try that new restaurant; you really want to spend time with your kids at the park; or you have errands you’ve been putting off. Take a few minutes, before it’s too late, to make reservations, check the weather, find a babysitter, etc.

“You don’t have to plan every minute, but having a few things you know you’ll enjoy means you’re ready for a weekend of real rejuvenation,” she says.

8. They plan a fun Friday activity. Some successful people have a fun ritual that helps them create a definitive divide between their workweek and weekend. “It may be an afternoon cocktail with a group of friends, an hour of volunteer work, or a regularly scheduled gym workout or game of tennis,” Kerr explains. “What’s key is that it be something they look forward to, so they view it as a reward for reaching the end of the week, and that it’s something that gives them a complete mental shift.”

9. They acknowledge others’ accomplishments and hard work.“One leader I know uses Friday afternoons to either phone or drop by employees’ offices in person to thank them for the work they did during the week,” Kerr says. “She says doing it on Friday afternoon not only helps her employees go home feeling appreciated, happier, and more relaxed, but it also helps her feel better and happier, as well.”

10. They say goodbye to people around the office. A simple, “have a nice weekend” can go a long way. “This is especially important for leaders to do, and especially important on a Friday afternoon to give both yourself and the people you work with a sense of closure to the week and a chance to connect, if even briefly, before everyone departs,” Kerr says.

Secret: To grow big you need to start going small

Big-vision-540x360

We are living through an era of big: Big Data, big vision, The Big Idea, the next “big” thing. Big budgets go to big campaigns. But I want to pause a moment to make the case for “small.” It’s really important for business leaders and marketers today to think about “small” – small campaigns, small tests, and most importantly, small pockets of growth.

Growth can be hard to find but the truth is that for many business, growth is all around you. It’s just a matter of finding it. Consider this: Averages lie. By that I mean that companies need to adapt to dig more deeply into their data to uncover the rich pockets of growth that standard broad calculations often overlook.

My colleagues recently recommended developing “market maps” as a way to systematically identify where the pockets of growth actually are. This is literally about plotting out where all those growth opportunities are (read A game of inches). They cite a wonderful example of a European consumer goods company that analyzed consumer behaviors, which revealed the company had no presence in almost two-thirds of the attainable marketplace. This insight helped the company to adjust its strategy and develop new products to profitably address those gaps, moves that the company projected would grow revenues by 8 to 14 percent over three to five years.

This insight is based on developing a really clear understanding of how customers see the category and tradeoffs they make when making purchase decisions. This is about going deep into discussions with people about how they really make choices – what motivates them, what influences them, what they really care about. Data is helpful, but this level of insight is based on much more intimate and personal levels of interaction.

That more granular approach is evident in how companies think about penetrating into new countries, which is the standard approach. The truth is that companies should be looking at breaking into cities, which have different opportunity profiles from the country at large. When you look at the fashion industry, for example, Shanghai is as large a market as Poland and Portugal. And cities like Tianjin and Chongqing are among the top 20 fastest growing cities for women’s apparel.

This “small” approach even applies to how you connect with customers too. Sometimes it’s the small things you do that matter the most – like when the Soho Grand Hotel offers a guest a pet goldfish.

Yes, you need some big systems to make this work but you really have to think small. Here’s a question every business leader should ask him/herself when embarking on a project: How can I make this smaller?

CONVENIENCE IS KING IN TODAY’S RETAIL WORLD

Why-is-customer-always-King

 

Consumers lead busy lives and their time is becoming more limited and fragmented every day. So when it comes to shopping, they may not always be 100 percent focused or fully engaged in the task at hand. So in order to keep up with them, retailers are increasingly finding that they need to innovate in ways that make it easier and more convenient for their customers to get what they need and not miss a beat in the process.

Innovation can take many forms. While breakthroughs like cellular networking and seedless watermelons are tangible examples of innovation, there’s no denying the impact that advancements like multi-platform store formats and online shopping have had on the retail landscape. In fact, according ot the Continuous Innovation: The Key To Retail Success report, convenience may just be the most creative and energetic example of retail innovation.

STANDING OUT WITH CHANNEL AND FORMAT

Channel and format are the stand-out examples of innovation in the retail space. U.K.-based Tesco PLC is one major retailer that has adapted its physical store offerings to meet customer demand for convenience. Notably, Tesco operates four different formats to ensure that its customers have quick and easy access to its offerings regardless of whether they live in dense metro areas or the outskirts of town. Even Walmart, whose superstore concept made it the largest retailer in the world, is testing two smaller formats—even though it continues to expand its traditional supermarket format in the U.S.

As a format in-and-of-itself, brick-and-mortar continues to maintain a strong footing with consumers, particularly as retailers diversify their available store configurations for specific customer needs, online is changing how shoppers interact with stores. This in turn has prompted stores to change in response. For example, many companies with notable physical footprints have capitalized on the influence that online retailing offers by touting “click & collect” options, whereby customers shop online and pick up their items at a nearby store. This innovation is quite powerful, as it improves convenience dramatically for shoppers who find it inconvenient to wait at home during broad delivery windows.

European retailers such as Carrefour and Auchan are particularly advanced in the click & collect arena. France-based Auchan, for example, offers a drive-through service with spacious collection points, allowing shoppers to collect pre-ordered baskets without leaving their cars. Visible from the road, the service is ultra-convenient and serves as a powerful advertisement. But these trends aren’t just popping up in Europe. In the U.S., drug retailer Walgreens offers shoppers a variety of in-store and curbside pick-up options.

VIRTUAL SHOPS DELIVER REAL CONVENIENCE

Some innovations forge entirely new roads. The virtual supermarket, designed by Tesco and launched in South Korean subway stations in 2011, is one such example.

For Koreans, shopping is a much-dreaded task, so Tesco decided to offer them the convenience of browsing through displays of the same merchandise offered in its stores. To make purchases, consumers simply scan QR (quick response) codes of the items they wish to purchase and then click the send button on a smartphone app. Tesco then delivers the merchandise to the consumers shortly after they get home. The results speak for themselves: online sales increased by 130 percent and site registrations grew by 76 percent in just a few months.

By taking a dramatically unique step outside the box, Tesco, which later teamed up with Samsung to later open a more robust version of the virtual store concept in Seoul, debuted an experience that has since been mimicked by several other retail companies. Eighteen months later, Peapod (U.S.), Cold-Storage (Singapore), Woolworths (Australia) and Yihoudian (China) had created virtual platforms of their own.

Are there more convenience roads to explore? Of course. Recent offerings essentially make it easier for consumers to purchase and receive. Today’s tools, however, offer companies and brands insight into when consumers will need to replenish. The ability to make these types of predictions will likely put retailers with loyalty data in an advantageous position. Notably, we’ve already seen how Amazon walks people through the process of choosing goods, quantities and a delivery schedule on a “save, set and forget” basis. So brick-and-mortar” players will need to respond to stay competitive.

In today’s digital world, the one thing traditional retailers have that online operators don’t—physical stores—needs to be an asset rather than a liability. And those assets need to include entertaining, exciting, and emotionally engaging experiences.

BACKSEAT DRIVING IS WELCOME ON THE ROAD TO FINANCIAL GOALS

 

Financial-goals-update-5

Managing money can be difficult no matter where we live, and in many cases, it feels like we spend our cash before we earn it. In fact, Nielsen reports that globally, we save or invest just 10 percent of our monthly income on average. Is that enough? How prepared are we for an unexpected household emergency, health issue or job loss? What about long-term financial security and saving for our children’s future?

To help understand consumer sentiment around these questions, Nielsen conducted a global study that polled more than 30,000 Internet respondents in 60 countries about current and future financial goals and the strategies we use to prepare for them. The findings revealed that the glass was half full for nearly seven out of 10 global respondents (69%), as they believed they would achieve all of their financial goals for the future. Yet, of those, only 28 percent felt that their current financial planning would get them there. The remaining majority of confident respondents (41%) were less self-assured, conceding that they would need to closely monitor and adjust investments from time to time to best meet their financial expectations. On the other hand, nearly one-third of global respondents (31%) said they have no confidence they will meet their financial goals with either current or modified asset allocations.

Overall, financial confidence was highest in Asia-Pacific, where more than two-thirds (78%) of respondents said their planning was sound and on track for the future (32% were satisfied with their current plan and 46% plan to make adjustments). Financial planning was also in good standing among two-thirds of respondents in Middle East/Africa (67%), North America (66%) and Latin America (62%), as about one-fourth in each region said they are satisfied with their existing strategies.

BRIGHTER DAYS AHEAD FOR INVESTORS

“There’s always tomorrow” captures the attitude of global respondents, who by and large plan to invest to meet financial goals in the future, rather than actively save now. Across 14 saving goals reviewed, respondents’ intentions to save in the future were stronger than active intentions for all but one financial goal—saving for health-related issues, whereby global active savers outnumbered future savers by just 1 percentage point (42% active savers vs. 41% future savers).

Overall, plans to save in the future were strongest among respondents in the Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Middle East/Africa regions, especially with respect to intentions to fund their children’s futures, higher education, first- and second-time property purchases, personal luxuries, financial legacy and new businesses.

“The greater number of respondents planning to save in the future versus saving now suggests an opportunity to better educate consumers on saving and investment strategies that will help them meet their financial goals,” said Oliver Rust, senior vice president, Global Financial Services, Nielsen. “It also shines a light on the growing wealth accumulation among consumers in the more developing regions of the world and their aspirations for upward mobility with a more secure financial future.”

Other findings include:

  • Insight into global saving strategies for short-term, long-term and life-event goals.
  • Time table for now vs. later saving intentions.
  • Quick-reference scorecards by saving goals.

For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Global Saving/Investing report.

Why oil prices plunged today and could keep falling

Oil_Dollar_452x339_040413

Oil prices plummeted today after reports of a two-week halt to protests that have blocked Libyan crude exports, and an economic slowdown in China. The plunge reflects the primary role of local politics and economics—in China, Libya, Nigeria, Iran and elsewhere beyond—in determining oil prices. It also rekindles the longstanding debate over whether we’re in an age of oil abundance or scarcity.

The debate goes like this: Last year was supposed to initiate a long slide in oil prices lasting through the end of the decade and beyond, according to many forecasters, driven largely by a surge in US oil production to 7.7 million barrels a day as of October. But an outbreak of local and geopolitical trouble (such as the increased theft of Nigerian oil, pictured above) shut off about 3.5 million barrels of global supply, led traders to keep global prices above $100 a barrel–and provided ammunition for opposing forecasters who believe in oil scarcity.

Until today, that is, when protesters at Libya’s Al-Sharara field said they will lift a two-month-old blockade of 350,000 barrels a day of production after promises of agreater say in government decisions. In addition, a widely watched HSBC index showed that Chinese manufacturing barely grew in December, its slowest rate in three months. And the new year began with the perception of a “U.S. better supplied with oil than at any time in history,” Phil Flynn, an analyst with the Price Futures Group, wrote on his blog.

As a result, international benchmark Brent crude plummeted by 2.7%, to $107.78 a barrel. The US-traded benchmark was down 3% to $95.44 a barrel, its lowest price in months.

The price decline boosts those who argue that oil abundance will bring on a decade-long period of relatively low oil prices. Among the leaders of this group is Citi’s Edward Morse, who forecasts (pdf) oil prices averaging $80 a barrel through 2020 and beyond

But an equally fervent if less vocal group of analysts say that while appearances have changed, the global oil market has not; supplies remain tight and oil prices are on the way up, they say. In a note to clients today, Oswald Clint’s research group at Sanford Bernstein forecasts almost double Morse’s oil price estimate—$158 a barrel in 2020

Bernstein’s arguments, among others, are that the US surge will be less than many expect, that global demand will surpass supply growth, and that OPEC nations can’t subsist at sub-$100-a-barrel and will cut production to hold that as a price bottom.

Citi forecasts $98-per-barrel Brent in 2014, down from an average of $108.71 last year; Bernstein says prices will average $110. They are the extremes: A Bloomberg survey of last year’s most-accurate oil forecasters produced a prediction of $105 a barrel in 2014.

As today’s price plunge shows, the answer will be much less mysterious than these forecasts make it seem. As with 2013, it will boil down to local and global politics: If the US and Iran harden their November deal with a nuclear settlement that lifts sanctions, that alone should send prices down—not because new Iranian oil supplies will flow immediately onto the market (it will take time), but because of the chances for a period of lower tensions. If you get that and a political agreement among tribes and clans in Libya, resulting in a full resumption of its 1.6 million barrels of supply, Ed Morse will deserve a handshake.

Believe it or not, Some Workaholics people do have fun…

P3379-Thank-God-it_'s-Monday-Patch__27739

Maybe being a “workaholic” is not as bad as everyone thinks.

The term “workaholic” is generally used in a negative context. But perhaps its reputation is undeserved. If you are driven to work extremes by an external force, such as your employer or even a financial reward, then it is more akin to slavery. But if you are driven to work extremes by an internal force, such as the desire to make something truly great and innovative, your motivation is achievement.

External rewards such as money can only drive people so far. However, the pursuit of a great achievement is a far more powerful force that can drive people beyond the known limits of mankind. After all, it wasn’t a pot of gold that motivated man to put people on the moon; it was patriotism, pride, achievement, and a dash of adventure.

So, if people say you are a workaholic, try to identify what is motivating you. External drivers will only lead to exhaustion. Internal factors will bring joy and satisfaction. These are the workaholics that have more fun.