Posts categorized "Entrepreneurship"

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).

5 Big Questions on Innovation (from bpinetwork.org)

 Mark Manney, CEO and Founder, InfobeingInfobeing logo

Mark Manney, CEO and Founder

I’m Mark Manney, founder of Infobeing.com. Infobeing is creating the People Economy to set you free from your job. I’m also the guy who, 10 years ago, escaped corporate office life in Seattle to travel the world, start a virtual sales agency, and make music with the band Abscondo.

After earning my BS and MBA from the University of Colorado, I spent 6 mostly miserable years in Seattle selling enterprise...
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How is your team changing the game within your industry sector?

It is tempting to say that there is no industry sector for what we’re doing, but in fairness we might compare Infobeing.com to social media like Facebook, Ello, Tumblr, and LinkedIn. These sites offer a Web 2.0 experience that is becoming obsolete for a few reasons.

Social media contributes to information overload by providing a massive amount of irrelevant information. This makes us feel physically ill. Information overload is becoming a real problem. Infobeing.com is different because it is designed so that users spend minimum time on the site and maximum time living, doing, and becoming.

Another problem with today’s social media is that there is no real mechanism to meet new people in order to easily form mutually-beneficial relationships. These sites are designed primarily for staying in touch with existing friends or, occasionally, meeting someone new in a random way. Infobeing is designed for the purpose of helping you meet the new people you need to know in order to move your life forward.

Social media leads to stagnation and inaction. It is passive. Infobeing uses the potential of the network world to create a People economy where everyone is doing what they want, what they are good at, just as they live in freedom and maximize their earning potential. This isn’t happening on Facebook.

What are some of the biggest impediments to innovation in your organization or industry sector?

Today people remain stuck in a “corporate economy” paradigm. Our most important economic relationships are with brands, corporations, and companies. The vast majority of our purchase of goods and services are with organizations.

My view is radically different. I’ve spent the past 10 years traveling the world and living mostly in Eastern Europe. Things are done a bit differently here. Relationships between people are valued most. If you need something fixed, need to hire someone for an odd job, or need some help…people look to other people. There is a massive person-to-person economy that is based on cash transactions or even “favors for favors”.

The Infobeing People Economy replicates this in the online world. We provide a new option for people to form relationships and conduct transactions for goods and services with each other. This is a radically different paradigm where we begin to trust each other and work together based on mutual wants, needs, and skills.

How has innovation become engrained in your organization's culture, and how is it being optimized?

As Founder and CEO of Infobeing, Innovation isn’t a conscious focus of mine. I don’t set out to innovate. I simply do what I think makes most sense, with essentially no regard for what anybody else is doing. This is one of the benefits of living abroad, away from conventional wisdom, for so many years.

Beyond this, I think innovation is allowed to thrive, and will continue to thrive at Infobeing, because our goal is not only to maximize profit. We are founding Infobeing as Public Benefit Corporation.  We will be auditing our performance against a charter that includes 5 requirements for serving the public good. We’ll remain completely ad-free, we will improve the overall happiness of our users, we will help our users achieve greater freedom, we will strengthen the local community through direct-democracy, and we will aim to do no harm to the planet.

What technologies, business models, and trends will drive the biggest changes in your industry over the next two years?

I don’t care about changing an industry. I care about changing lives. People have access to amazing technology, but they don’t know how to use it to live in a better way. Infobeing is concerned with improving your quality of life in both the online and off-line world by making it easy for you to meet all of the people you need to know.

Can you share a specific innovation strategy you’ve recently encountered which you find compelling?

Follow your intuition. Meditate. Listen to your inner-voice first and let it drown-out any voices of conventional wisdom. The purpose of your life is to bring your unique perspective to the world. Failure to innovate is failure to believe in yourself and act on those beliefs.

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

If there was a Revolution, who would lead it?

Who is going to lead the Revolution? Yes, I mean a real Revolution. Do we want a better society with a new economic system? Do we want a system that lets us govern our lives by something other than today's corporate, governmental, and organizational systems of corrupt domination and power? If so, who would we look to as leaders of that kind of Revolution?

Would it be the anti-capitalist, hippie, intellectual protesters? I doubt it. They understand the world's problems well indeed, but their clever words and provocation are not the solution. For the most part, they get stuck on the problems and don't seem to do anything to solve them.

Who else is going to do it? Politicians? Come on. They serve the status quo to an extent that no real change is possible. Forget about it.

We need a group of creative people whose function is not to serve the established institutions of power; yet who possess the skills and the capabilities to get something done. If anybody is going to change the world, it will be this guy: the self-motivated, problem-solving, action-driven entrepreneur with a brilliant idea.   

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With all of the technology available to us, we are a new breed of entrepreneur who is capable of achieving anything. We are the change agents in the modern world and it is up to us to create something better. We are inventors who can build an alternate system to make everyone better off, happier, and more free.

We need to go further than merely on carving out some small niche market where we, individually, can thrive. Let's think bigger because the world needs us. Today's economic system is slowly destroying the world, just as it fails to serve human nature. Human potential remains dramatically under-developed. Our interests, skills, passions, and abilities are ignored just as our free time and life experiences are unnecessarily limited...and for what purpose? Anything is better than what we are doing today. A new future must be invented, built, and intelligently implemented. Let's do it for the greater good and on our own benevolent terms.

The concept of "invention" is not something that should be limited to conventional products and services. Let's broaden the concept in order to realize that everything about our daily lives is an invention. Our present form of money was once an invention. Corporate law was also invented by way of a legal system led by individuals who represent a specific set of values. Likewise, our generally-accepted doctrine of blind economic growth and profit at all costs...the whole concept was once a new idea, an invention. Even beyond the economic realm, we allow outdated ideas about relationships to dictate the way we love and connect with others. There is no reason to believe that there is anything inevitable about the status quo. Radical change and Revolution is the inevitability.

We entrepreneurs (who also happen to be radical thinkers, content producers, entertainers, inventors, and leaders)....we are the answer. Launching another niche, luxury business to fulfill a profitable customer need is great. But it would be much more profitable and worthwhile if we were to, instead, launch another economic system. We can create a new way to structure economic and social relationships between people. We can create and use our own currency. Nothing stops us from offering a tangible, user-friendly way for people to gradually, peacefully shift to another paradigm by simply ignoring today's systems of power, corruption, and control.

We are far from perfect, but it is time for us to realize that we are better than today's world leaders. We are the people who have what it takes to launch a Revolution. We need to think bigger and commit to creating a better world...and we need to do it in a peaceful way.

The Revolution will be an excellent customer experience! 

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

Free Work

Charlie Hoehn has come up with a great idea called "free work". This is a radical new approach to start anyone down the path of building the career they want, and the life they want, while doing what they want to do.  

I wish I had thought of this at the start of my career. Instead, I followed the conventional path and wasted years of my life in corporate misery. I finally found the courage to break free, but it just wasn't necessary to wait.  

In his TEDx session, Charlie talks about how frustrating the traditional job search actually is. Searching for a "normal job" is the first step down a path toward creating a life you absolutely do not want. 10 years later, you find yourself in an industry you did not choose, surrounded by people you did not choose to be with, doing a job that does not tap into any of your true interests or talents. This is the conventional path that we are told to accept, but there are other ways.

What I find most interesting about Charlie is how he struggled with, and then ultimately found himself overcome by, his gut-feelings and intuition. His decision seems to have come from a place of feeling backed into a corner. Oftentimes, extraordinary accomplishments come not from our exceptional talents or capabilities, but from panic and desperation. 

Faced with options that makes us feel sick inside, too many of us try to cope. We turn to anti-depressants and we lie to ourselves because we can see no other options. But thee are options. There are endless options in life and infinite solutions to every problem.  Free work is one.  Enjoy the video.

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