Monday, 29 November 2010


We’d like to introduce you all to our newest guest blogger, Barry Caponi, President of Caponi Performance Group, Inc. and author of the upcoming book, Contrary to Popular Belief, Cold Calling Does Work! The Art & Science of Appointment Making (stay tuned for the release announcement). Caponi Performance Group has created a proven formula (called The Appointment Making Formula™) for setting more initial appointments. Barry has become a trusted sales resource to BrightBlue Marketing as we stress to our clients that cold calling is an important part of a successful marketing mix. Enjoy his blog and please share your thoughts! You can find him at

There are four key differences.

Many sales managers we talk to operate under the assumption that because their sales team, once in front of a Target, can move that Target through the pipeline effectively, they are also properly equipped and capable of getting a Target into the pipeline. After all, selling is selling, isn’t it? The sale, or objective, is just different in the case of trying to set an Initial Appointment, right?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. And this misunderstanding of the differences has created what we like to call the ‘elephant in the sales bullpen’. It is apparent to everyone that enough Initial Appointments are not being set, but the root cause is not pursued. Instead, us sales managers all ignore the elephant and utter the old mantra, “Make more dials!”

This four part blog explores the four major differences: the Beginning Repartee, the Pace of the Exchange, the Types of Responses heard from the Target, and Preparation to Succeed.

1. The Beginning Repartee. If our Target has agreed to an appointment with us, the opening moments of the call, although perhaps not yet openly friendly, are at least collegial or warm. That happens because our Target has already determined to invest time with us so they are open to the conversation and to us.

On a cold appointment making call, the opposite is true. They have not yet agreed that there is value in even talking, let alone meeting with us (even on a referral call). The reasons for that are twofold. The first is that they don’t think they need what we’re selling yet, so why would they need to have this conversation? Reason number two is that we’re interrupting them from doing something, so they don’t even want to talk with us. The result is, they’ll do anything, including lie to us, to get us off the phone. Hence, the term ‘cold call’ as the Target’s behavior towards us is cold. What that means is that the call begins as being adversarial.

On the Initial Appointment, the normal conversational skills we all have developed throughout our life are at play. Not so on the cold call. The skills necessary to Counter that initial negative response and get the Target to open their mind for a moment to a conversation about how our value proposition has helped others – and hence potentially them, are not needed nor practiced in the pipeline half of the selling process.

2. The Pace of the Exchange. When in front of a Target in a sales call, the pace of the conversation is generally deliberate, calculated and measured. When the Target asks us a question, we can take a moment to think about the question before answering. It is totally acceptable to do so. As a matter of fact, it can be construed as a sign of disrespect if we don’t ever seem to take a moment to think about what is asked and always seem to be quick with what could be taken as a ‘canned’ response.

On an appointment setting call, the pace is accelerated. Our Targets generally answer very quickly by falling back on their favorite ‘Conditioned Response’ – i.e., their typical way of getting sales professionals off the phone quickly. They don’t need to think about it, it is a reflex.
We must respond just as quickly, or risk being hung up on, or at least put on the defensive. The whole conversation is conducted at the speed of a Nolan Ryan fast ball (you’ll notice I love baseball metaphors). So if we’re not practiced at handling the few standard Negative Responses that we hear consistently, we’ll not have near the results we’d like to or need to.

3. The Types of Responses Heard. Because a Target has agreed to meet with us, by definition, they are willing to hear our story and share theirs to help determine whether it makes sense for them to move forward with us. That means their responses to questions we ask are more apt to be based on logic.

On a cold call, the responses we generally hear are more of a ‘knee jerk’ response designed to get us off the phone. Those responses are many times not even true, although they may have a grain of truth. If you’ll think about it, each of us has our own favorite we use when cold called.
Applying logic to their ‘lie’ does no good because there is no logic in their response. Therefore when we call someone, we must give them a vehicle to retreat from that opening knee jerk response in such a way that they save face and open their mind to a short conversation regarding what we’ve done for others to address a challenge or supply a benefit.

We must Counter their Negative Response using a transition that provides them the ability to save face (a lot of our customers felt the same way) and then ask a question that will open their mind to a short conversation by asking one of our Bridge Questions™. (By the way, our Counter technique works just as well when the Target actually gives us a true response.)

4. The Preparation to Succeed. When in front of a Target during the pipeline phase of the selling process, our preparation for the meeting should definitely include some planning. However, we cannot plan for all contingencies. That means that much of our success is based on our ability to think on our feet as each situation is at least slightly different.

On a cold call, there are only a few responses we’ll hear if we deliver the same message each time we approach someone. To accomplish that, we must internalize or memorize our opening approach to limit the responses we’ll hear and then also internalize or memorize the responses we’ll use to Counter those. We’ll also need to practice them so that they roll off the tongue like normal conversation.

Caponi Performance Group and Contact Science jointly market the telephone prospecting and cold calling solution called The Prospector’s Academy™ under the brand name Coldcalling101. It is the only comprehensive solution to solving the biggest barrier to success in most selling organizations – the inability to secure enough Initial Appointments to begin the selling process. We accomplish that through simultaneously addressing both the efficiency and effectiveness of the process.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

PART II - How do we help Associations market & brand themselves and bring in new members?

The Marketing Think Tank call hosted by BrightBlue Marketing and Big Noise Communications was facilitated this month by Andrea Lamarsaude of BrightBlue.

Some of the topics discussed included:

Ø What are some of the key components of a successful marketing strategy for an association?
Ø What are some specific marketing tools that you have used that were successful in marketing an association?
Ø What are some creative ways or marketing tactics to drive membership up in an association -possibly tied to a membership drive?
Ø What are some ways to involve the Board in building membership?
Ø How do you gain media and PR exposure for an association? What are creative ways if you have a limited budget?

There were some great ideas that came from this Think Tank and because of that we will be doing a two part blog series to cover them more in depth.

In this Part II of the series we will discuss creative marketing tactics.

In Part I we discussed how to get the Association leadership and key members on board with the marketing efforts. Once you have the leadership on board, it is time to get creative!

As we have mentioned in prior blogs, the trick to marketing is getting heard above the noise of your competition. What can Associations do to make themselves stand out from the crowd? Many associations are using outdated marketing tactics and they need the energy of creative marketing to increase membership. Don’t be afraid to push your association a little bit out of its comfort zone. As you plan remember that during any campaign make sure you play up the associations strengths around a creative theme.

As you start looking at creative marketing tactics, be careful to not limit yourself and your ideas to the size of your staff or your current resources in order to carry out your marketing goals. You can also use your creativity to find more resources in the budget that can be put toward your marketing efforts and help you reach your goals.

Your first step should be to check out your competition to see who else is marketing to your potential members. What is your competition doing that is working and what you can do better than them? Don’t be afraid to learn and borrow ideas from the marketing they are doing. You can learn from their mistakes and successes and build on what they have already tried and make it your own. Ask your leadership and key members to submit short articles of different types of tips, advice and how-to items that relate to the needs of your audience and begin building a library. Once a library has been created you can begin reaching out to the editors of the smaller area papers and sending in these tips in the form of articles with a byline to the association. This is not so much of a sales tactic, but a help tactic with the purpose of showing that your association is a trusted resource; resulting in attracting new members. This is also an option that is low or no cost.

Something than many associations overlook as a marketing tool is making sure the association is tied into the community through charity work or by helping the community in some way. Choose a cause and back it by encouraging members to volunteer their time, having your staff volunteer to help and by being a resource for your chosen cause or charity. Not only is this just a good thing to do, it will create free media exposure and show that your association is an active member of the community resulting in attracting more potential members.

The most important things to remember are to think outside the box and get creative; look at low or no cost ideas that give the association exposure, and build on ideas that have worked for your competition giving them a twist of your own.

We would love to hear some of your creative ideas you’ve found success with as you market your association!

Lessons on Strategic Customer Service

BrightBlue Marketing is excited to have another piece from our returning guest blogger, Susan Dodia, President of The Project Coach.

I recently had the pleasure of attending a presentation by John A. Goodman, author of Strategic Customer Service: Managing the Customer Experience to Increase Positive Word of Mouth, Build Loyalty, and Maximize Profits. That’s a long title, and Goodman backed it up with a wealth of interesting information.

Goodman’s organization, TARP, is credited with inventing the science of studying customer experiences in order to develop key knowledge that aids organizations in improving their bottom line by improving their customers’ satisfaction. Over the last 30 years, Goodman’s client list has grown to include Coca-Cola, Pfizer, Sears, Toyota, Citibank, Goodyear, and many other Fortune 500 customers.

I will share with you the biggest surprise I got from Goodman’s presentation: if you poll customers and employees about things that don’t work in an organization, 70% of the items on each list will be the same. I had never heard this statistic, but it makes perfect sense. Many times, the biggest source of pain for employees is not being able to adequately respond to customer requests.

So, the next time you stop and think about how to provide more value to customers, start inside the organization. If you can solve the problems inside the organization, you may be able to solve the lion’s share of your customer problems as well.

For more information about TARP visit their website at

For further reading on the customer experience visit:
Blog post by Susan Dodia of The Project Coach

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Partnering with Partners 111210

How do we help Associations market, brand, and bring in new members?

Part I - Getting the Association Leadership on Board

The Marketing Think Tank call recently hosted by BrightBlue Marketing and Big Noise Communications, facilitated this month by Andrea Lamarsaude of BrightBlue, focused on the topic of: “How do we help Associations market & brand themselves and bring in new members?”

The group discussed creative ways that an association can stand out and attract new members.

Some of the topics discussed included:

~ What are some of the key components of a successful association marketing strategy?
~ What are some specific marketing tools that you have used that were successful in marketing an association?
~ What are some creative ways or marketing tactics to drive membership up in an association -possibly tied to a membership drive?
~ What are some ways to involve the Board in building membership?
~ How do you gain media and PR exposure for an association? What are creative ways to do this if you have a limited budget?

There were some great ideas that came from this Think Tank and we will be doing a small series of blogs to cover them all more in depth.

This first blog of the series focuses on - Getting the Association Leadership on Board.

All of the leadership of an association must be on board with the marketing strategy and be sending out a consistent marketing message throughout the association, especially the Board of Directors and key members.

However, the general nature of Board members is that they are very busy people because they get involved. This can create a bit of a challenge when trying to get them to be a part of your marketing plans. Our Think Tank came up with several ideas to help overcome these challenges.

1. The Association must have a formal communications plan that the Board and Key Members have had the chance to contribute to and have all had the opportunity to become familiar with the final version. The communications plan is a step-by-step plan of what you want accomplished each week/month, etc. It helps ensure that there is a consistent mission statement and message that everyone participating is clear about. Also, the plan must have some flexibility to adjust to any unforeseen changes.

2. Don’t forget member retention while in the midst of a membership drive. You should include some ideas in the marketing plan on how to retain the new members once they come on board.

3. Create a contest to pit Board members against each other to bring in new members - a friendly competition for a nice prize, but be sure you make it fresh by only doing it every year or bi-annually and not every month in order to make it possible to put more planning into it.

Generally speaking, because Board members are usually business people they compete for business every day and are competitive people. Fostering that feeling with a friendly competition amongst your Board members can be a huge benefit to your Association. The prizes that they are competing for can be as simple as a plaque in your Association’s lobby with their name under Top Producer of the 2010 Spring Membership Drive or perhaps a weekend golf get-away or any number of things in between. The main idea is to give them something to compete against each other for and really light their competitive fires!

4. Another great way to get your Board and key members involved in marketing your Association is to build a speakers bureau within the association by using the Board and other key members as speakers for other organizations’ events. These Board member speakers would then be able to promote your association as well as their own company or organization. This option is a win-win for both your association and your key members company at the same time. You are basically incentivizing your Board and key members to promote your association and at the same time they are promoting their own company or organization.

We would love to hear from you if you have had success with some creative membership drives and/or Association marketing plans!

Next in our series of helping Associations market and brand themselves we will discuss some creative marketing techniques that Associations can use. Stay tuned!!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Getting ROI from Advanced Sales and Marketing Tools

BrightBlue Marketing is excited to introduce our guest blogger, Bob Foster, Founder of GlobalNow Inc., a technology services company. Bob Foster is highly regarded in the sales and technology industries. He recently formed a community that brings together various software solutions that improve sales performance. We encourage you to visit Bob’s site at

Like most folks, I’m enthusiastic about the value proposition my company has to offer. This includes a standalone offering (BCSS) that resells a portfolio of hosted software that improves the performance of sales teams. I’m a process guy, so I appreciate the impacts that these process oriented tools bring to the table. However, I sometimes wonder if I overestimate the anticipated return from the use of advanced sales and marketing tools when they are being used by companies with sales and marketing departments that are misaligned (they have disconnected procedures, personnel, software and messaging between the two departments).

For example, we offer software that improves the performance of sales campaigns and activities; by building, implementing, managing and refining sales workflows. This approach does work. However, maximum revenue performance is dependent upon quality leads being received from the marketing department. As we all know, quality lead generation no longer means just providing accurate contact phone numbers. Are the contacts the “right” leads? Do the prospects identified from marketing efforts have needs that are consistent with the company’s service offering? By the same token, do the sales personnel conduct the proper conversations and activities to fully address the lead opportunity?

Do the necessary ongoing conversations occur between Marketing and Sales to ensure maximum return from the end to end revenue generation efforts? Or do we become content with our departmental successes based on our internal system measurements (e.g. - Marketing: number leads generated; Sales: number of leads contacted) - with the software and process tools then actually becoming slightly counterproductive! Do we then focus more on meeting our internal metrics and less on the big picture of revenue growth!

The opportunity for more revenue through effective alignment seems to be even greater as the selling and buying behavior changes due to advancements in technology, as customers have a greater reliance on the internet to identify products and services, and customer profiling data is used to generate better leads.

There are some obvious and traditional opportunities for integration: One of our apps (Jesubi) allows companies to track the type of objections encountered during sales calls, and feed these back to marketing, ensuring messaging issues are addressed as early as possible, and quickly refine the sales workflow to accommodate if needed. Our sales playbook application (Kadient) allows companies to ensure they are using the best methods consistently across their entire sales team, including the use of the “proper” content for sales advancement. Our sales training tools (Communication Coach) ensures personnel are having the right type of conversations with prospects. On the surface, the above methods look good. But, if sales and marketing do NOT properly align, a company loses revenue since there is no chance to refine the message (based on objections); enhance the conversations, or alter the content/collateral to best contribute to sales closure as part of the playbook.

I feel marketing must be jointly responsible for the health of the sales pipeline; including volume of conversions. By the same token, I feel sales must be jointly responsible for the quality of leads (through proper feedback and execution).
I’m very interested in hearing from others who have successfully connected the sales and market functions and what metrics were used to measure the success of this integration.

Let’s continue to drive more revenue by using these advanced marketing tools and software; but let’s make sure we are spending our time and money wisely by effectively working together across our internal teams.

Blog by: Bob Foster