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Matthew Cook is the founder of SalesHub, an inbound marketing agency that helps companies generate leads, boost revenue, and adapt to the new way customers buy.

You’ve spent months developing your product with your business partner. Now that it’s launched, you’re finally ready to close some sales. But you’re not salespeople. You’re both developers, and have been fumbling around for weeks trying to figure out how to generate some leads.

Startups don’t often employ many people at the start–even social media platforms Instagram and Whatsapp were founded by teams of just two. But companies with small teams and limited resources can still generate leads and close sales successfully on their own, even if they aren’t initially experts. So how can entrepreneurs seek out sales leads? And what steps do they need to take to reel them in?

Attend events and network

You don’t have to present at a conference or set out a stall to reap the rewards of networking.

You can get your startup recognized by actively participating from the audience, too. At these events, one option is to live tweet conferences and talks. Another is to blog about what you’ve learnt and share it on social media, making sure to mention the speakers to let them know what you thought. You can also network online at events through social event apps. Bizzaboo, for example, looks at your profile and suggests people to connect with who are also at the event. The app gives you the link to their social media accounts, and lets you message them directly within the app.

Being active online at an event or conference makes people take notice of you. It also will help set you out as a thought-leader in your industry, if you offer quality insights. Once people start to find out about you and your startup, they will begin to refer you within their circles. And considering 50 percent of businesses think they get their best sales leads through referrals, they’re one of the best ways to generate leads.

Some larger events may be expensive–according to some entrepreneurs, Web Summit charges $10,000 USD to meet with angel investors–but there are also smaller events at lower cost. For example, Startup Weekend tickets cost just $150. What’s more, major cities host dozens of free or low cost Meetup Groups for people wanting to discuss and network with each other–and most boast thousands of members. For example, New York Entrepreneurs & Startup Network has almost 17,000.

Use your reach

According to anthropologist and psychologist Robin Dunbar, the average person has about 150 casual friends. Anymore than that, and it’s too complicated for a person to process. So if your startup consists of three people, collectively you would have 450 casual friends. Together, those 450 people reach 67,500 others. Go to a third-degree, and you’ve already reached over 10 million people. Ask your friends to support your business and share it with as many people as possible. The number multiplies quickly. Once again, it’s about generating leads through referrals.

LinkedIn is a great way to reach out to potential clients, collaborators, investors, and new talent too. Keep track of who has viewed your profile, determine if they’re potential clients or recruits, and then reach out to them. Give recommendations to other users or companies, and ask for them in return. These build credibility quickly for your company. You should join groups and share your content within them, but also write your own blogs on LinkedIn. It’s a way to position yourself as an industry expert, while connecting with others and generating leads in the process.

Set up an inbound marketing strategy

Inbound marketing is about promoting your company through online content. Producing videos, blogs, SEO, social media content, white papers and case studies will help draw potential clients to your company’s website and educate them about what your company does.

The average business-to-business customer is 57% of the way through the purchasing decision before even talking to a salesperson. So when they do, half of the salesperson’s work is already done–they just have to close the sale. Inbound marketing brings sales leads directly to your company, educates potential clients, and makes finishing off a sale significantly easier. According to this CMSWire infographic, companies who blog generate 67% more B2B leads, and 88% more B2C leads.

So, how can you best take advantage with limited resources? On top of having a good website, you need an effective social media strategy. A Socialbakers study found that on average, top brands post about once a day. Posting less than twice a week will cause your audience to disengage, and so will posting more than twice a day found the study. You should also start generating your own blog content in house–even one blog a week is fine at the beginning. Once you have a bigger budget, you can start to increase the amount of marketing you do. This will drive more traffic to your website, and help to generate even more leads.

Startup founders with no background in sales may find themselves running in circles. But by getting out into the community, leaning on friends and professional contacts for help, and generating online marketing content that brings potential clients straight to you, you will have an easier time getting the word out about your company. And effectively, close more sales.



 
  


 

Five Triggers to Transform Your Business

Business owners today are spending a fortune to build a company website with all the bells and whistles. They’re operating under the mistaken belief that “more is better.” In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Websites don’t sell… relationships sell.

Your prospects must feel that they can trust you and that you have their best interests at heart. They want to feel that they’re dealing with “the expert.” Your website should be designed to establish these vital components in order to increase the bottom line for your business.

What you need to know…

Prospects today won’t give you their time willingly. You MUST earn it, and that means you must give your prospects something compelling to make them want to stick around your website so they can see exactly what value you offer them.

Your website must convince your prospects that your product or service offers “extraordinary value.” And it must resonate with them emotionally. Most websites simply state the features of what you sell, and then expect your prospects to buy it. Prospects today want value. You MUST educate them as to why you’re the one business in your industry that provides them with the most value.

The way you accomplish this is to use what we refer to as “The Marketing Equation.” We’ve discussed this in earlier emails. The Marketing Equation consists of 4 major components… Interrupt (hot button based headline), Engage (subheadline that promises a solution to the headline), Educate (body copy that conveys your extraordinary value) and a compelling Offer (a specific call to action).

Why you need to know this…

To consistently attract more clients to your business… and to effectively convert prospects into clients, it’s critical that you develop a compelling website that offers extraordinary value to your prospects and compels them to instantly want to know more information about your product or service. Your website must focus on the benefits and on the value your business provides that your competition doesn’t.

Your website should offer free access to information… information that quickly and clearly articulates what you do and the benefits and value you offer. A free informational report may compel interested prospects to seek you out once they understand the extraordinary value that you… and you alone provide.

The cost to you if you fail to act…

A well-crafted and well-developed website can generate a tremendous number of new leads for your business. Your “offer” is the key to generating these leads. Offer valuable information, free trials of your product or service or whatever else may be important to your prospects.

When you do a little quirk in human behavior sets in. It’s called “reciprocity.” When you give freely and willingly to help others, they feel compelled to return that generosity through reciprocity. The key is to know and understand specifically what it is your prospects truly “want,” and then give it to them. That earns you the right to ask them to do business with you.

Ron Finklestein

About Our GE Network Expert - Ron Finklestein

After a successful consulting career, Ron Finklestein has spent the past 6 years building his business AKRIS Inc and helping entrepreneurs and business owners build their businesses by helping them solve the tough problems that hold them back. Ron is called The Small Business Success Expert by his clients because of his passion for their success and his knowledge of business. Visit Ron's website at http://ronfinklestein.com.


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We all daydream. It’s an innate habit. The dream to be wildly successful, the dream to be known as iconic, the dream to have your own business, the dream to live your life instead of letting your life live you. But the pressures and anxieties often persuade us not to go down this path with a lot of students forgoing their dreams in fear of failure and under the society’s influence. But beginning your own business is a reality and it has been umpteen times over and when it is done by students who have no prior experience or just a little bit of it makes it even more a tantalizing prospect to follow as it guarantees you the things that others just keep dreaming of. The dream is always calling us in its direction, but it’s us who need to take decision to take that leap of faith.

Most of us our fear comes from the fear of the unknown and not knowing what path to take when following our dreams but nothing is impossible. There is procedure to this madness and it has examples in recent history. We will provide you the path many have taken to make themselves true successes and it is not too difficult to follow. Follow our lead and see what we have in store for you and your dreams.

The Idea:

We daydream of being successful, famous and a lot of other stuff but if we look closely, day dreaming often exposes us to the greatest of ideas that are the basis of any successful business venture more than anything. We often restrain our thoughts and pass on some great idea that just came to us by thinking that “Oh that’s impossible” and in that fleeting moment our destiny gets a thumbs down.

Latch on to any ideas that come into your mind and work on them. The best ideas are solutions to problems that not many people think exist. Ideas are the most wonderful thing there is. Pursue your ideas to any length if you believe that they are the ultimate solution to a certain problem and always follow your gut feeling on how great the idea is. It’s your brain who got you this idea and it is the same thing which is the best judge. Facebook was created out of an ingenious idea of Zuckerberg – Creator of Facebook, to connect everyone in the world. At that time, he didn’t know how will he do it or how much finance is required or to what extent this idea can be viable. He just had an idea and he took initiative to take it forward, everything just started falling in place there onwards.

Find yourself a Mentor:

You always listen to your inner voice, don’t you? Well there are some voices in the world who act as inner voices. They can go so deep inside you by their words that they are able to inculcate that belief you need to make it big. Mentors in this case are often those people who are dreamers themselves and have gone through a lot already. They can guide you to no end on a lot of issues from finding that all important self-belief to handling business operations.

More importantly mentors are that special kind of people who are called connectors. They are excellent networkers and can expose you to a wide range of people who definitely will come in handy once you start of your gig. Sometimes they can also take up a cloak and act as angel investors to get you that all important finance you require to set up your business.

Remain Unconventional:

People with great ideas and the passion to pursue them are mostly unconventional to begin with. Being considered eccentric will only add to your appeal. Being unconventional means not following the due course of operation as per the norm. Learning, un-learning, re- learning, reengineering are things which few do with vigor as it requires offbeat thinking and remember that first Ones mostly end up in failures. First ideas don’t work out well and this is where most people lose steam and give up. You don’t need to do that. Bill Gates, the now ultra- rich founder of Microsoft was failure at first. Before starting out his claim to fame company, Microsoft, Bill Gates’s first venture was traf-o- data, a venture which was devised to aid traffic engineers by processing raw data from traffic counters. It wasn’t a success but it was a seminal point in the making of Microsoft because after working with traf-o-data, they came to know how microprocessors actually function in tandem with DEC computers. That made them come a long way in building the arguably the world’s most iconic computing company.

The Self:

The entrepreneur’s way of believing and living has to be different from the whole lot. It has to have a mind that is free from all kinds of distractions plaguing a wandering soul to keep him/her keep experimenting, building and living out the ideas.

Everyone has worries, but they have to be taken care of if one wants to dilute the attention on the task that lies ahead. Students with entrepreneurial aspirations normally drop out of college to pursue the business they plan to open or if they prefer to stay in and complete their college, the debt burden is often a pressure and because of it a lot of students go into jobs to pay off the student loan they took initially. In such a scenario, a student must get a plan to minimize the amount of obligation it has.

Keep going ahead and don’t get yourself tangled in the opinion of others every now and then. Do listen to pieces of advice from everyone, advice is never bad. You never know which one has the ability to further your cause. Make yourself available to experiences other than business, indulge in your life and live it to the fullest. Network as much as you can and if you can, find yourself a partner in your dreams, one who shares the same passions and is on the same expertise as you. Bill Gates had Paul Allen by his side. Nothing great can be built alone and if you want to be great, take the lot ahead with you. You are passionate, it’s infectious, rub it off, you don’t know how many stories you can help while building your very own.


master.online_retail

Article Contributed by Louise Fletcher

Customer confidence in your brand is an incredibly important factor in determining your selling power online. Gaining a customer’s trust is the difference between having a healthy conversion rate and poor purchase performance. Without being able to physically see the product they are buying, customers must believe in your brand before parting with cash.

As the “shop front” of your business, the first step to making the right impression falls to your website and how it looks and performs. The overall user appeal of the site is the window dressing which entices customers in and is what impressions are formed on.

Poor design, usability and a surplus of broken links or 404 pages will all put potential customers off. If effort isn’t made to keep the website running smoothly a customer will automatically assume that this attitude may be taken in other areas of the business.

The content within the site is also a highly persuasive factor, comprehensive descriptions and images of products help customers build a picture of an item. However, if pictures are worth a thousand words then videos are the equivalent of a novel. Research into the inclusion of product videos have shown that businesses which include this medium alongside the standard image and written description have seen an increase in conversion rates.

Content can also be used to give a “human element” to the online shopping experience. Within a physical store, customer service from staff provides a feel for the type of brand you are, good customer service and personable staff build trust and loyalty. Online this is harder to achieve but it is still important to create a personal feel to the digital frontage.

About Us pages offer a great platform to tell customers a little bit about yourself and the company and go a little way towards building up a dialogue.

However, harnessing the power of social media and curating an active blog on top of this, is the best way to give a customers a feel for who you are and what you do. It’s a less formal setting which allows for more character to shine through.

Once you have built up this rapport, it’s important to let customers know that this is a relationship which can be taken further; at the click of a button or at the end of a phone line, you’re there to answer any question or query. Including contact details on every page or on a clearly signposted page gives confidence that, if needed, someone is easy to reach.

Opening up this customer conversation to a wider audience creates safety in numbers and embraces the idea that it can be positive to build up a community network around your brand. Your product or service might be the best thing since sliced bread but you shouldn’t expect customers to just take your word for it. Trust in the quality of your product can be achieved through clearly displaying independent customer reviews and opinions as well as displaying independent quality assurance logos.

These confidence building techniques are the foundation blocks on which to build up from with the ever expanding options available to an internet entrepreneur. Whichever mechanisms you decide to implement, it’s important to understand that an arrogance around the need to back up your product could be the difference between being seen as a trustworthy brand or overnight flash in the pan in the eyes of an internet shopper.


 

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While it’s true that the number of jobs in the United States’ manufacturing sector fell in recent years, manufacturing still plays a crucial role in the country’s workforce, gross domestic product, exports, and other economic factors. In fact, today’s manufacturing companies make more products than they have in decades. Even though the manufacturing sector struggled to add jobs during the economic challenges of the early 2000s, productivity has increased dramatically. This improved productivity makes the United States one of the world’s top manufacturers.

Things may change in the near future. With some luck, the manufacturing sector will benefit the country even more. It’s estimated that manufacturing companies will need 3.5 million more workers over the next decade. That’s especially good news when you consider that manufacturing workers earn higher than average wages, and over 10 percent of them are eligible for health insurance. Besides, the service industry relies on manufactured goods. Without products to sell, the service industry would flounder quickly.

Manufacturing is also important to the economy on a macro level. Every dollar spent on manufacturing adds $1.40 to the country’s economy. Many policy analysts want the United States to invest more in domestic manufacturing, because doing so is one of the most effective ways to build a more robust economy.

If these facts are surprising to you, you can learn more about the role manufacturing plays in the U.S. economy by checking out this infographic. It offers some enlightening data that may change the way you think about the future of manufacturing in the United States.



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GetEntrepreneurial.com is a small business blog dedicated to providing business advice and resources to our community of aspiring entrepreneurs. Our specially hand-picked panel of GetEntrepreneurial.com Network experts regularly contribute entrepreneurial content and professional tips for small business owners worldwide.