Posts categorized "Entrepreneurship"

No more waiting in line

Back when I grew up, Americans were taught the perils of Soviet Communism. We were outraged that people were forced to stand in line for hours due to shortages. Long lines are, indeed, an excellent symbol of a failing, centralized system. These days, the queues seem to be getting longer.

Centralization is the organization of society so that people must interact primarily with large organizations for survival. Today, we depend almost entirely upon institutions to earn a living, to buy what we need and want, for education, for entertainment, essentially for everything. When we do connect with other people, we do so through platforms controlled by large corporations who spy on us just as they advertise to us. At its best, centralization is a single point of failure, a bottleneck, a cause of scarcity, or a source of frustration. At its worst, centralization becomes an inhuman force to be feared.

The Blockchain Revolution, starting with Bitcoin and taken further with Ethereum and other decentralized technologies, is the breakthrough idea that centralization is no longer the only way to organize society. By removing a centralized server than can be breached or shut down, Blockchain technology is beyond the reach of centralized institutions. This changes everything.

We now have an opportunity to shift away from the centralization of power toward a model of decentralization—the organization of society so that people are at the center. How might a decentralized future look? Consider the idea behind a blockchain startup called “I am” by Infobeing, an Ethereum-based Decentralized Social App (DApp) for the mass-market. 

A true shift toward decentralization requires an efficient, systematic way of connecting people directly. This will be done on “I am” by describing who you are, what you want, and what you are doing in the form of structured sentences called “I am” Statements. Statements are stored in a decentralized database as follows:

I am [Verb] [Description] [Location] [Price].

Compatible Statements are matched. Users effortlessly meet the right people, form new relationships and business connections, they can even buy and sell stuff using cryptocurrency. “I am” reduces the need for people to rely so much on institutions. No matter what you want or what you are trying to do, you can do it by connecting directly with other people.

Decentralized platforms like “I am” have the potential to unlock human potential by creating a reality in which people are at the center. Institutions that survive will have to adapt to serving us (and not the other way around). If all goes well, this might mean the end of standing in line.

On November 23rd, 2017, the IAM Token will be introduced as the first cryptocurrency deriving its value directly from the unleashing of human potential. Find out more at www.infobeing.com.

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Mark Manney is the founder of “I am” by Infobeing (www.infobeing.com) (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

Prospecting 101: why email works better than cold-calling

Conventional wisdom in sales tells us that cold-calling works better than emailing. Conventional wisdom is usually wrong.

There is a good reason that salespeople talk so loudly about cold-calling and this has nothing to do with results. Put simply, a person claiming to make 50 cold-calls per day seems more hard-working than the guy in the next cube who is busy with an email-based process. Cold-calling is loud. Everybody around you will know you are busy. So if you care more about maintaining the perception that you are a hard-worker than you do about delivering results, then by all means you should continue to live in cold-calling hell. But if you are open to a better, easier way to proactively fill your sales pipeline with great opportunities, keep reading.

If you are selling complex, high-value solutions to the enterprise and are trying to get in touch with executive-level decision-makers, then email is the most effective, efficient, and practical way to introduce your product or service. I run a global lead generation agency. We use email exclusively to arrange executive-level introductory calls and on-site meetings for our clients. Here is why our email-only strategy works better than cold-calling:

1) Email is read by everyone, even CEO's (or at least their admins).

2) Email allows you the opportunity to perfect and clarify your message and then repeat that message again and again (cold-calling requires a new performance every time).

3) Email can be easily forwarded to the right person and then responded to without any friction or effort on your part.

4) Email allows your prospect the time to think, whereas cold-calling usually illicits an automatic "no" response.

5) Decision-makers do not answer their phones to unknown numbers. If they do, they see it as a rude disruption.

6) Email allows greater reach more cost-effectively. With the right approach, you can easily reach out to ever decision-maker across your target market every quarter.

7) Cold-calling is usually done by very junior talent. When you have one shot to impress a CEO, do you want a telemarketer in India reading a script? Or would you rather have your top account executive taking a scheduled and confirmed call?

Email works. But just because email is the most effective medium for outbound prospecting, that doesn't mean it always works for everybody. Success in outbound prospecting is all about strategy and execution. You need the right message delivered to the right person in the right way. Here some of the variables you will have to perfect for success in email prospecting:

Strategy:

  • You need to identify the right target market for your products or solutions and then build a list of every company that meets your criteria (a target account list)
  • You need to understand which titles within the organization are most likely to buy and go after them
  • You need a message that distinguishes you from the hundreds of other messages in your prospect's inbox

Execution:

  • Even when you have the right strategy, you need to achieve the right volume. Successful outbound prospecting campaigns will result in introductory meetings with between 10% to 20% of your target accounts each quarter. I have seen this to be the case across industries. So if you want 10 - 20 new introductory phone calls from outbound prospecting, you go after 100 accounts. If you aren't able to achieve this result, then something is wrong with your strategy or execution.
  • You need to turn prospecting into a machine. You have to research the right contacts to build list, send emails to a set number of new accounts each week, and follow-up with second-round emails the following week in the case of non-response. You need to manage responses to that you know which accounts to continue with and which accounts to put on hold. You need to chase down referrals and lukewarm prospects week after week until they agree to a meeting. You need a system. Effective prospecting is a well-oiled machine.
  • When the introductory call finally does happen, you need the right talent on that call to establish credibility and advance the deal forward. The point of prospecting is to close deals. You (or your organization) should be able to close 1 - 3 deals out of 10 introductory calls or else you are doing something wrong in the sales process.

A world-class sales organization is one in which all of these pieces are working smoothly. In my experience working with dozens of companies to implement successful prospecting campaigns, very few organizations are getting all of these pieces right. Even when they are, they aren't consistent enough and they often aren't able to replicate results across geographies.

Check back for updates on how to craft the perfect prospecting email. In future posts, I will also share some of the specifics about how we run these highly-effective campaigns for clients worldwide. 

Mark Manney is the founder of “I am” by Infobeing (www.infobeing.com) (mark.manney@infobeing.com).

Employment or Entrepreneurship?

Money is critical, but so is freedom. What about the need to feel important? Of course you also want to feel secure and stable. Earning a living requires a choice between two radically different paths; both of which come with very different benefits and drawbacks. The fundamental choice is between employment or entrepreneurship. 

Of course the most common path is to work for someone. To be employed is to give away your productive time for the promise of security and perhaps some amount of prestige or status. The problem is that anything achieved through employment is transitory. Nothing can be riskier than relying solely on one employer for all of your income. What may once feel stable can disappear in an instant with little or no reason at all. When your employment contract has ended, you are left in a state of panic as you face monthly expenses based on on your former income.

As for status or importance, whatever sense of status you may have felt within a job is stripped from you as easily as your livelihood when the devastating decision is made to let you go. To the outside world, you're only as good as your current position. The tragedy of employment is that we dedicate our lives to a career only to find ourselves scrambling to hold onto it. But it should be said that, while the job lasts, at least you can rely on a paycheck and you can believe that life is good. For most people, this is enough.

For most of my career, I've earned a living as an employee. But for these past two years, I have relied entirely on my sales agency to earn a living. During this time as an entrepreneur, I have come to understand that running your own business brings as many challenges as it does benefits.  

Let me explain the pros and cons of entrepreneurship:

Pro: You are free to do what you want with your time. It is an amazing feeling to have the option of mountain-biking on a Monday morning without any risk of consequence.

Con: You can only enjoy your freedom if you are able to manage the business properly and avoid stress and worry. Some months, you may not generate enough income to pay your expenses. Other months, everything is great. I do my best to manage this stress by diving into my "other world" (playing guitar, writing, mountain-biking, going to the gym, taking walks, etc.).  I've also found that meditating every day helps me avoid the peaks and valleys.  But I do sometimes lose sleep at night from worry.

Pro: Unlimited earning potential. This is really what it is all about.

Con: You have to invest not just hard work, but also capital. Owning your own business means becoming an investor. How much money do you put in with the expectation of making how much in return? How safe is the investment? What are the risks? Is the business model sound? Are the customers satisfied? With unlimited earnings potential comes a need to risk money, time, and energy (see previous point about stress and worry).

Pro: Not having to answer to a boss. Answering to a boss means playing politics. In a job, so often we do what we are asked to even when we know it isn't the best way to complete the task. Our goal is perception and self-preservation. I have found this to be a really unhealthy distortion. Living this way runs against my nature; which is to solve problems in the best possible way and work in the most efficient / productive way.

Con: Business owners have to answer to customers. While we don't fear losing a customer the same way an employee fears losing a job, the fear is still real and it is multiplied across your entire customer base.

Ultimately, running your own business is a difficult path even if you succeed! It isn't for everyone. Running a successful business is a chance to live the dream of wealth and freedom. But it is also a lonely path filled with stress, worry and at least as many failures as successes. Some days, having a job looks like a far better option!

Mark Manney is the founder of “I am” by Infobeing (www.infobeing.com) (mark.manney@infobeing.com).