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Accentuating the positive always seems like the right thing to do. That goes for sales, too. After all, who doesn’t want to take the high road?

The fact is, however, if you are competing with similar businesses for market share, you need to tap into the most common reasons businesses tend switch vendors or providers. And while most businesses would rather stick with one vendor over the long haul because it is less complicated, they will make a change if they feel it is worth it in the long run.

If you are talking to a prospect who currently works with one of your competitors, chances are the only way you will get this prospect to jump ship is if you tap into the reasons that business’s current situation isn’t working out. But how can you help them to see there is a problem with their current vendor without seeming like a piranha? It all comes down to asking the right questions.

Question #1: How do you like your current vendor?
It’s that simple. A prospect may be unhappy with their vendor but has never been asked whether they are or not. Allowing that prospect to put into words how they feel could make all the difference. When forced to verbalize how they perceive their current vendor they may just finally realize what that vendor lacks.

Question #2: How many vendors do you work with?
When it comes to vendors or service providers, more is not always better. In fact, it’s almost never is. People want to avoid hassles. More vendors means more invoices, different processes and more time wasted on administrative tasks. If you can offer a B2B client one solution to all of their needs, chances are they will be interested.

Question #3: How much are you paying?
A lower price isn’t always what a business is looking for but the value they receive for that price matters significantly. When you can show that what you have to offer comes at an outstanding value (not necessarily a lower price), you can win over a lot of businesses because they will realize that they aren’t getting enough for what they are paying.

When you ask prospects these three simple questions, you allow them to decide for themselves that it is time for a change. In other words, they figure out what their current vendor is lacking without you going on the attack. You simply ask them the questions that will help them come to the right conclusion.

More and more consumers are asking for personalized experiences. After all, in today’s online marketplace, people are asked to give up more personal information. Therefore, it only seems fair that they should expect this information to be used for their benefit.

Unfortunately, many businesses – especially small businesses – are at a loss when it comes to knowing how to provide these types of experiences. Further, the time, money and resources that are required to develop these types of experiences also can seem overwhelming.

The truth is, however, that creating these types of experiences don’t have to be as complicated as you might think. In fact, you may already be doing many of the things that allow you to customize the overall customer experience.

Below are some the easiest and most practical ways to offer your customers and prospects the personalized experiences they are looking for – without expending a great deal of extra time, money and manpower.

  • Targeted searches. When your customer is searching for something, quality always trumps quantity when it comes to search results. Focus less on volume and more on targeted offers.
  • Specific content. Again, more doesn’t mean better. Nothing is more impersonal than content that is merely sales copy or copy solely designed to drive a reader to a particular website. Instead, make sure your content connects, educates and inspires. Solving a problem for a customer or prospect is the ultimate personalized experience.
  • Do your research. If you aren’t conducting market research it is impossible to know what your market wants. And if you don’t know what your target audience wants you can’t give them a personalized experience. Try to hone in on specific segments of your target audience and market to these particular segments separately instead of using one broad marketing message.
  • Get interactive. Calculators, quizzes and other tools that help you engage with your target audience are more popular than ever. Further, when these tools help an individual determine a product they could use, for example, the personalization factor increases dramatically.
  • Don’t forget to be human. In many cases, the most effective personalized experiences are just that: person – to – person. Don’t get so caught up in trying to give your target audience the latest in digital technology that you fail to really get to know them on a personal level. After all, the most personalized experiences occur when your customers and prospects feel that you really want to get to know them.

If you are looking to draw more traffic to your website, organic searches are an outstanding way to do that. While chances are great that pay-per-click ads also will be a part of any truly effective marketing strategy, organic searches are an excellent tool that allows small businesses to generate qualified leads.

As a small business owner it can be difficult to know exactly how to increase organic traffic—especially when so many other businesses (with similar product offerings) are trying to do the same thing. In light of this fact, here are some important reminders small businesses should keep in mind when trying to increase organic traffic:

  1. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Many small businesses that sell to a specific target market try to water down their overall message to try to appeal to a greater number of people. This is almost always a mistake. Why? You often end up alienating the very customers and prospects who are really interested in what you have to sell. Therefore, it is always best to cater to your specific audience.
  2. People understand that they get what they pay for. If you offer the best product or service, people will be willing to pay for it. It’s that simple. Sure, there will always be those consumers who are only interested in a low price but those individuals almost never remain loyal to any business or brand. Most people are very aware that you get what you pay for and may actually be put off if your price is too low.
  3. Focus on community building. Connect and engage with customers and prospects on social media. Make sure your content always connects, educates and inspires. People may be initially attracted to your product or service because of a promotional offer, for example, but customer loyalty comes about through building long-term relationships. That is why it is important that you foster these types of relationships.

Organic marketing is not always easy and it does takes time. However, if done correctly it can have a tremendously positive effect on your bottom line. In the end, organic marketing is about building something of value that goes beyond just what you are selling. And once you create that value you can be sure that customers will keep coming back for more.

No business exists in a vacuum. If you aren’t aware of what your competition is doing at any given time it could spell big trouble for your bottom line.

While this is probably not the first time you’ve heard this advice, it can be difficult to follow. After all, running a business takes a lot of time and energy. Further, even if you really want to keep tabs on the competition, it can be difficult to know exactly how to do that.

If you are wondering how exactly to track what your competition is doing so that you can stay one step ahead of them, we have some simple tips to help you out.

    1. Jump on their website. What are your competitors selling, how much are they selling it for and is it something that you should sell but don’t? Are your competitors offering discounts and promotions that seem to be working especially well? How does their landing page look? Is it easy to navigate? A competitor’s website is a treasure trove of information.
    1. Do a keyword search. Who is coming up when you perform a search with words your customers and prospects are likely to use when looking for you. If your competitors show up on the first page of search results but you don’t then it’s time to up your SEO game.
    1. Follow them on social media. If your competition has a large following you can better understand why that it is when you peruse their social media sites. It also will help you to get a glimpse of how they interact with customers and prospects.
    1. Make a purchase. Wonder what the customer experience is like for a customer of another brand? Become a customer and you’ll get the answer. Along those same lines, give their customer service line a call. Find out how they handle questions or complaints to discover if you could be doing things better.
  1. Attend tradeshows. Visit competitors’ booths and see what they have to say and how they are presenting that information to prospects. Tradeshows also are often the place where new initiatives are launched so you can get those details first hand.

Keeping a close eye on the competition will help you understand how your competitors are able to succeed. It also will give you some ideas on how you can better promote your products and services and interact with customers and prospects.

Much is made about the importance of identifying a qualified lead. Equally important, however, is deciding whether a lead is a dead-end.
If you want to meet your sales quota, it is important that you spend time on leads that are likely to make a purchase. Unfortunately, many leads that have no intention of buying can suck up a lot of your time. That’s because these leads talk a lot about buying without having any intention of doing so.

In order to identify leads that are all talk but no action, we’ve come up with nine surefire ways to pinpoint leads that are likely nothing but time-wasters. And once you identify them, you will be free to concentrate on leads with real potential.

  1. Conduct background checks. Find out exactly who the lead is and if they fit into your target audience. If they don’t fit your criteria, go no further.
  2. Find out what their problem is. Ask the lead what problem your company can solve. If there isn’t one, you can bet there won’t be a sale, either.
  3. Ask about their budget. If your product or service costs more than their budget allows, it’s time to move along.
  4. Discover what they think your company can do for them. If a lead has an unrealistic view of what you can do for them, things aren’t going to work out.
  5. Ask about the competition. Serious leads are likely getting a variety of bids or checking out different companies. If you are the only one they have approached this is a red flag.
  6. Identify the decision maker. If you are not talking to a decision maker ask if you can, if the answer is no, there’s no point in pursing this lead.
  7. Get an address. If a lead is located outside your service area it’s time to move along.
  8. Check their level of engagement. If a lead is really interested in your company or service, they likely would have visited your website or connected with you on social media. If they haven’t, you can bet that they aren’t that into you.
  9. Consider how easy they are to follow up with. If you can’t get in touch with a lead after the initial contact (despite a few good attempts), it is probably best to move on. If they were really interested, they wouldn’t be avoiding you.

While you don’t want to discount a lead that may convert into a sale, neither do you want to waste your time on a dead-end lead. While being too picky may seem like a bad thing, being specific about what types of leads to pursue will pay off in the long run.