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.

Secret: To grow big you need to start going small

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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?

Amazon says it can ship items before customers order

 

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Online retail giant Amazon says it knows its customers so well it can start shipping even before orders are placed.

The Seattle-based company, which late last year said it wants to use drones to speed package delivery, gained a patent last month for what it calls “anticipatory shipping,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

Amazon, the Journal reported, says it may box and ship products that it expects customers in a specific area will want, based on previous orders and other factors it gleans from its customers’ shopping patterns, even before they place an online order.

Among those other factors: previous orders, product searches, wish lists, shopping cart contents, returns and other online shopping practices.

Amazon has worked to cut delivery times as a way of encouraging more orders and satisfying customers, such as by expanding its warehouse network and making some overnight and even same-day deliveries.

Amazon didn’t estimate how much delivery time it expects to save, or whether it has already put its new system to work, the Journal reported.

“It appears Amazon is taking advantage of their copious data,” Sucharita Mulpuru, a Forrester Research analyst, told the Journal. “Based on all the things they know about their customers they could predict demand based on a variety of factors.”

To minimize the cost of unwanted returns, Amazon said it might consider giving customers discounts or even make the delivered item a gift.

“Delivering the package to the given customer as a promotional gift may be used to build goodwill,” the patent said.

BACKSEAT DRIVING IS WELCOME ON THE ROAD TO FINANCIAL GOALS

 

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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.

Don’t Worry About the Trade Deficit––It’s Meaningless

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What happens when one country’s imports consistently exceed its exports, creating a deficit in the international balance of trade? There is probably no greater misunderstanding about the real nature of wealth than when a discussion turns to the balance-of-trade question.

Henry Hazlitt, author of Economics in One Lesson explained this phenomenon when he wrote:

… the same people who can be clearheaded and sensible when the subject is one of domestic trade can be incredibly emotional and muddleheaded when it becomes one of foreign trade.”

I recently taught an economics course to a group of learned professionals, and this one topic was the most contentious. Most everyone seemed to have an inordinate fear of China, India, and other foreign nations accumulating more and more of America’s debt.

I asked the group a simple question: If China and India become wealthier, is that a threat to America? The general consensus seemed to be yes, illustrating how zero-sum thinking is endemic to this discussion. Adam Smith eloquently wrote about this in 1776 in his seminal book, The Wealth of Nations:

Each nation has been made to look with an invidious eye upon the prosperity of all the nations with which it trades, and to consider their gain as its own loss. Commerce, which ought naturally to be, among nations, as among individuals, a bond of union and friendship, has become the most fertile source of discord and animosity.”

 

USA = Free Trade Zone

One of the reasons the United States of America is such a relatively wealthy country is that it maintains a free trade zone among its 50 states. The Constitution prohibits the states from interfering with trade among their respective citizens; there are no tariffs or import, export, or other restrictions within the 50 states. No individual state worries if it is running a deficit with another.

Economist Russell Roberts posed this challenging question in his delightful academic novel,The Choice: A Fable of Free Trade and Protectionism:

Shouldn’t Florida help out Minnesota by importing just as many oranges from Minnesota as Minnesota imports from Florida? Trade flows should be unequal. … if you pick any one state in the United States and look at its trade position with respect to other states, you’d see a lot of deficits and surpluses.”

 

People Trade, Not Governments

Trade deficits and surpluses are merely accounting conventions with no explanatory relationship to the underlying reality of an economy, which is why accountants and economists have different worldviews. If a free trade zone works internally for the United States, why would it not work internationally among the countries of the world?

It helps to keep in mind that countries do not trade, people do. In any transaction, as Adam Smith pointed out, both parties must gain for it to take place at all––the antithesis to a zero-sum condition.

You buy a Lexus only because you perceive it as being of higher value than the price you are paying. The government, for all practical purposes, has nothing to do with it; nor is it any of its business.

As individuals, we run trade surpluses and deficits all the time. I run a deficit with my local grocery store, importing more from them than I sell to them. You run a large surplus with your employer, who pays you more than you buy in products or services from them in return. So what? The resulting accounting deficits and surpluses simply do not reflect the economic reality behind these billions and billions of individual transactions around the world.

This is what Adam Smith meant when he wrote, “Nothing can be more absurd than this whole doctrine of the balance of trade.”

The gains from trade are what we import, not export. The purpose of production, in the final analysis, is consumption. The more imports we can acquire for fewer exports, the wealthier we are, either as individuals or as a country.

Other countries face the same realities, and we are no more likely to obtain the goods and services we desire by trading pieces of green paper with other nations than we are to send letters to the North Pole and get gifts from Santa Claus.

Being a creditor or debtor nation simply has no correlation with a country’s standard of living. Thomas Sowell exposes this fallacious concept in Basic Economics:

In general, international deficits and surpluses have had virtually no correlation with the performance of most nations’ economies. Germany and France have had international trade surpluses while their unemployment rates were in double digits. Japan’s postwar rise to economic prominence on the world stage included years when it ran deficits, as well as years when it ran surpluses. The United States was the biggest debtor nation in the world during its rise to industrial supremacy, became a creditor as a result of lending money to its European allies during the First World War, and has been both a debtor and a creditor at various times since. Through it all, the American standard of living has remained the highest in the world, unaffected by whether it was a creditor or a debtor nation.”

 

No one revealed the specious reasoning behind balance-of-trade concerns better than the French economist, statesman, and author Frédéric Bastiat (1801–1850), whom the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter said was “the most brilliant economic journalist who ever lived.”

Bastiat used entertaining fables and carried the logic of the proponents of protectionism to their logical extreme, with biting wit. One of his most famous essays, “Petition of the Candlemakers,” was a parody letter from the manufacturers of “candles, tapers, lanterns… and generally of everything connected with lighting,” arguing against the unfair competition––since its price was zero––of the sun.

Bastiat understood that exports were merely the price we pay for imports, and having to work harder to pay for those imports did not lead to wealth. Using impeccable logic, Bastiat wondered if exports are good and imports are bad, would the best outcome be for the ships carrying goods between countries to sink at sea, hence creating exports with no imports?

Stop worrying about the accounting fiction known as the trade deficit. It’s meaningless, and leads to harmful effects in public policy that destroy wealth.

Big Data is here to stay !!

 

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The amount of data in our world has been exploding, and analyzing large data sets—so-called big data—will become a key basis of competition, underpinning new waves of productivity growth, innovation, and consumer surplus, according to research by MGI and McKinsey’s Business Technology Office. Leaders in every sector will have to grapple with the implications of big data, not just a few data-oriented managers. The increasing volume and detail of information captured by enterprises, the rise of multimedia, social media, and the Internet of Things will fuel exponential growth in data for the foreseeable future.

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Deep analytical talent: Where are they now?
Deep analytical talent: Where are they now?

Research by MGI and McKinsey’s Business Technology Office examines the state of digital data and documents the significant value that can potentially be unlocked.

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MGI studied big data in five domains—healthcare in the United States, the public sector in Europe, retail in the United States, and manufacturing and personal-location data globally. Big data can generate value in each. For example, a retailer using big data to the full could increase its operating margin by more than 60 percent. Harnessing big data in the public sector has enormous potential, too. If US healthcare were to use big data creatively and effectively to drive efficiency and quality, the sector could create more than $300 billion in value every year. Two-thirds of that would be in the form of reducing US healthcare expenditure by about 8 percent. In the developed economies of Europe, government administrators could save more than €100 billion ($149 billion) in operational efficiency improvements alone by using big data, not including using big data to reduce fraud and errors and boost the collection of tax revenues. And users of services enabled by personal-location data could capture $600 billion in consumer surplus. The research offers seven key insights.

1. Data have swept into every industry and business function and are now an important factor of production, alongside labor and capital. We estimate that, by 2009, nearly all sectors in the US economy had at least an average of 200 terabytes of stored data (twice the size of US retailer Wal-Mart’s data warehouse in 1999) per company with more than 1,000 employees.

2. There are five broad ways in which using big data can create value. First, big data can unlock significant value by making information transparent and usable at much higher frequency. Second, as organizations create and store more transactional data in digital form, they can collect more accurate and detailed performance information on everything from product inventories to sick days, and therefore expose variability and boost performance. Leading companies are using data collection and analysis to conduct controlled experiments to make better management decisions; others are using data for basic low-frequency forecasting to high-frequency nowcasting to adjust their business levers just in time. Third, big data allows ever-narrower segmentation of customers and therefore much more precisely tailored products or services. Fourth, sophisticated analytics can substantially improve decision-making. Finally, big data can be used to improve the development of the next generation of products and services. For instance, manufacturers are using data obtained from sensors embedded in products to create innovative after-sales service offerings such as proactive maintenance (preventive measures that take place before a failure occurs or is even noticed).

 

3. The use of big data will become a key basis of competition and growth for individual firms. From the standpoint of competitiveness and the potential capture of value, all companies need to take big data seriously. In most industries, established competitors and new entrants alike will leverage data-driven strategies to innovate, compete, and capture value from deep and up-to-real-time information. Indeed, we found early examples of such use of data in every sector we examined.

4. The use of big data will underpin new waves of productivity growth and consumer surplus. For example, we estimate that a retailer using big data to the full has the potential to increase its operating margin by more than 60 percent. Big data offers considerable benefits to consumers as well as to companies and organizations. For instance, services enabled by personal-location data can allow consumers to capture $600 billion in economic surplus.

5. While the use of big data will matter across sectors, some sectors are set for greater gains. We compared the historical productivity of sectors in the United States with the potential of these sectors to capture value from big data (using an index that combines several quantitative metrics), and found that the opportunities and challenges vary from sector to sector. The computer and electronic products and information sectors, as well as finance and insurance, and government are poised to gain substantially from the use of big data.

6. There will be a shortage of talent necessary for organizations to take advantage of big data. By 2018, the United States alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts with the know-how to use the analysis of big data to make effective decisions.

7. Several issues will have to be addressed to capture the full potential of big data. Policies related to privacy, security, intellectual property, and even liability will need to be addressed in a big data world. Organizations need not only to put the right talent and technology in place but also structure workflows and incentives to optimize the use of big data. Access to data is critical—companies will increasingly need to integrate information from multiple data sources, often from third parties, and the incentives have to be in place to enable this.

Much waited PlayStation 4 is launched by Sony

 

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Sony has launched the PlayStation 4, its new gaming console in the Indian market for Rs 39,990. The console will be available in stores starting January 6, 2014.

Sony also said that the PlayStation camera will be retailed at Rs 4,990. The PS4 controller has also been priced at Rs 4,990 in India. PS4 exclusive titles Knack and Killzone: Shadow Fall would be available at a price point of Rs 3,999.
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The PlayStation 4 was released in November for $399 in the US market. The eagerly-awaited PlayStation 4 sold more than 2.1 million units after less than three weeks on the market after its November 15 debut in North America and Sony said it was on track to hit a worldwide target of 5 million units by March.
The PlayStation 4 is powered by an eight-core AMD Jaguar CPU, and features 500GB hard drive, 8GB of unified memory, built-in Blu Ray drive and the new DualShock 4 controller. The PlayStation 4 also features 802.11 b/g/n WiFi connectivity option, an Ethernet port, Bluetooth 2.1, and two USB 3.0 ports.
Sony has streamlined the PS4’s on-screen user interface, and the menu features large app and games icons in a horizontal bar with another line of smaller icons above it that let users connect with other gamers, tinker with system settings and access the PlayStation Store, to download new games and buy or rent multimedia content.
The launch lineup includes 22 games to attract fans of just about any genre, from military shooters to sports simulations to family-friendly adventures including “Killzone: Shadow Fall,” and “Drive Club.” It also offers media apps, including Hulu and Netflix.
The PlayStation 4 competes with the Xbox One, Microsoft’s next-generation console, that has been priced a $100 higher. Microsoft also claimed it sold 1 million units in in 24 hours following its November 22 release.