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Posts Tagged ‘sales and marketing’

Consultants; Why Some Make it…and some CRASH

April 19, 2010 10 comments

When I stopped working FT a few months ago, I wasn’t sure what direction I was going. Three schools of thought: 1) Start my own company. 2) Be a consultant 3) Get another job.

I knew I didn’t want another FT job (at least not right away) as I’m a ‘start up ‘ junkie. I like to build businesses, departments, strategies, and ideas…and then take from conception to “LIVE”; and make them profitable. So that left me with either my own business or consulting. I realized, the two did not need be mutually exclusive. So, while building a business plan, I’ve been consulting and contracting. As higher education, specifically online higher education, is an incestuous industry; as soon as word got out, the phone calls and requests came in. It seemed that this would be easier than I thought – at first.

I quickly realized that to be successful in consulting, to be referred, and to work with numerous clients, it would take a lot more than a great past track record. It would take patience (something I don’t have much of), discipline to NOT take every job offered, and more so, this was yet another great experience where I was learning to ‘check my ego at the door’. In return, and the reason I love consulting, I was learning just as much from clients as they were learning from me. I quickly took the revenue driving sales and marketing strategies I had employed in higher ed and took them across numerous verticals.

So, why do some consultants make it? Why are there some of us that get repeat business while others may spend weeks or months marketing themselves and get nothing? Very simple answer: PAY PER PERFORMANCE CONSULTING.

So how does that work? Well, it depends on what you’re consulting on. However – there is one thing we can agree on: companies would rather YOU take the risk than them. We can also agree that if a consultant came to me and said, “I’m so confident in the strategy I lay out for you that you only have to pay me if I execute on it and execute well enough to hit the revenue goals you have set forth”. Why would a company EVER say NO? I know I wouldn’t. There are, however, many of us, that do need that “month to month” paycheck. You can look at this in 2 ways: 1) You can map out your beginning projects as if you are in a start up company. So, you map out your consulting KNOWING you will be “in the red” for 3 months; or until your projects start ‘making you money’. Who better to make an investment in than yourself? 2) You can charge a ‘small’ up front fee…maybe “min. wage” per hour…and get most of your money on the back end while still having money to live on the front end. Every project or consulting assignment is different, however by being paid on performance, you are not only showing your confidence, you are also ensuring yourself you will not take on anything you cannot handle OR if you do choose to take on something you cannot handle, you will make certain that you partner up with one of the best in the industry to learn.

It’s very simple in sales / marketing to set goals and only be paid if the goals are obtained, but what about other industries that have a large number of consultants or companies vying for the same business. Broken down below are 5 areas where I see a lot of consulting and how you can structure your pay on a performance basis.

1. Web Design / Development
– May be held accountable for a) web stats b) number of sales on site c) stickiness of site

2. Free lance copyrighting
– May be held accountable for a) Amount of time user spends on page b) Drop off rate c) CTR

3. Career Coaching
– May be held accountable to getting someone the job they can succeed and prosper in

4. SEO mapping / content development
– May be held accountable to page rank in “x” amount of time

I know there are many more, but these are ones I see the most often on the networks that I am on. As with anything else; if you need work, you need to take some risk. If you’re good, you’ll be rewarded. Consulting models such as this are good ol’ capitalism at its finest.

Don’t be a HATER

April 12, 2010 Leave a comment

I got an email from Gary Vaynerchuck today stating, “Hey Guys I was wondering if you guys have read Crush IT and if you had if you would please leave your honest review on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0061914177/ref=cm_rdp_product a bunch of haters have come on in the past week and I was thinking that it’s sad that people with venom are more motivated than the peeps with Honey. If I got a review for every person that has e-mailed me how much they loved the book I would be in the ball park of 5000 5 star reviews. lol. Anyway wanted to say hi and ask for this support and more importantly wish you all well and a great week”

It amazes me how many people HATE those that are outside the status quo; that are not ‘the norm’. If we go back in time, most entreprenuers that have been successful in business have gone against the norm. Even Warren Buffet tells us to “buy when it’s not popular to do so and buy something that’s not popular”. Why does he say this? Because something that is popular in business has already become the status quo – there is already a business model out there doing what you would be purchasing. It is the “next big thing” that you need to find. There are certain business models, or sales and marketing strategies, that will forever work. Example: call centers. It is rare to find a call center business that differs vastly from the others; however, in businesses that are similar – it is the one that has the unique “business approach”. In the call center example, perhaps you can find a company that will take payment on performance rather than a fee per hour. In a business like “fast food”, maybe it’s the angle of the commercials that differ. I can assure you – whomever is doing something the furthest from the norm will be the most noticed.

In relation to Gary’s email above, why do people hate Gary? Pretty simple; people are afraid of him. The biggest (most documented) fear in the human race is fear of the unknown. it is innovators like Gary Vaynerchuck who not only figured out how to ‘market’ the unknown, but have taken the step to inspire others to pursue what they never thought they could.

So, why the haters? People are afraid of those that follow their passion; afraid of the business leaders that want to differentiate and mentor others to be creative and think outside the box…they know that the next round of successful business will come from these Gen Y businessmen and they don’t like it.

Well guess what? Suck it up.

Over the Edge

April 8, 2010 1 comment

I woke up this morning to read a great blog post that hit home for me.

Ty Unglebower, a writer, actor, radio host, movie lover, and recent ‘connection’ blogs about the difference in Passion and Obsession.

This leads to me ask the question, “how does one know they’ve gone over the edge?”. I ask that because I was there and I hope this posting helps others to STOP before they become obsessed. Being a natural extremist, working in a booming industry like higher education, and working in a revenue driving sales and marketing position sounds like a dream to anyone in sales who would like to make money. But, when does that ‘dream’ become your life?

People talk about addictions; drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, gambiling, sex…but i’ve never heard of a group called “workers anonymous”. I contend that people can become as addicted to their career as anything else. The science behind addiction says the reason people become addicted is because they feel a “high”; just as anyone in sales and marketing knows – right after closing a deal, you feel a “high” as well. We know that drugs and alcohol elicit 2-10 times more dopamine in the brain than normal (dopamine makes you happy); hence people getting addicted…gamblers, for example, have the same reaction when they win a bet; the dopamine takes over and they feel a ‘high’; working, especially in sales, can elicit the same response.

5 things I should have recognized but didn’t…and went over the edge.

1. Waking up in the middle of the night and immediately getting on the computer.
2. Refusing to take vacation time
3. Forgetting to eat or only eating at the office
4. Mood is always dependent on how work day went
5. Prioritizing work before family and friends

If you experience any of this, pull back now. I don’t regret my decisions in that I love the life I lead now, but I do wish I had been more aware at the time so I could have made a conscious decision how I wanted to live my life versus letting the business dictate how I would live my life.

Why Are People Who SELL Higher Education Not in School?

April 7, 2010 5 comments

If you are sales and marketing in any business, there is a large chance that you have either spoken with an education advisor who has reported to me or I have collected your information at some time. As the online higher education industry is booming, student information is coming from millions of sources and likelihood is you have filled something out at one time or another over the last 7 years that has gone back to a school. If you are in sales and marketing and have not spoken with an education advisor in the higher education arena, please do so. The sales pitches of the advisors who are ‘decent’ will certainly make you think about going back to school.

My question then; WHY are people who sell education – from advisors all the way to the CEO’s – not back in school? We know they don’t all have their Ph.D.s, many don’t have Masters, and about half don’t even have a bachelors degree. In my opinion, selling education without a degree is analogous to me walking into the Gap and the saleswoman saying, “I don’t wear clothes from the Gap; I only shop at Ann Taylor”. If someone is pitching themselves all day on teh reason to go back to school and not going back; why not?

The average online student calling in works full time and has children. They all have ‘something’ going on in their lives, and yet admissions advisors tell them, “No excuses. Life happens. If this is something you want to do, you need to do it.” People engage in higher education for numerous reasons; need more money, job security, career change, career promotion, to feel significant, to be a role model to their children, etc. If you were talking about this all day and marketing or selling this all day, do you think you would talk yourself into going back to school? I know I did.

I’ve been in the higher education sector since graduating from college, specifically – the online education sector and have marketed and sold everything from high school diplomas to Ph.D.s . During my time at these organizations, I was offered full tuition assistance and capitalized on the opportunity by getting a project management certificate as well as taking numerous business courses (my degrees are in psychology and education). Now, I can tell you I learned far more in the ‘real world’, working with some of the most brilliant minds in the higher education space – but we have all seen the job postings that say, “Masters preferred” or “MBA Preferred”. While I’d like to go back and get my MBA, I’m in the “bucket” of students who genuinely believe that through connections and / or experience, I don’t “need” to right now; but I still market and sell the idea to others.

I’ve started asking myself; who am I to encourage others to go back to school if I don’t practice what I preach?

Biggest Mistake a Higher Education Company can make!

January 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Higher education companies – I plead you to listen; When you hire anyone who will make decisions regarding marketing and sales, anyone who can effect the revenue of your business – get them on the phones! Every manager needs to go through admissions or enrollment services (sales) training! To be a great marketer is to KNOW your audience. To be a great marketer or businessman in the higher education industry, you first must be able to SELL education. Selling education is not the same thing as selling a stock or selling a credit card. It’s not an impulse buy or a quick sale. Selling education is selling a prospect on graduating and finishing their degree. Selling education is finding a person’s dream and then helping the potential student come to the conclusion that the only way to achieve their dream is through education. How on earth can someone manage, train, or market this if they’ve never done it? It’s a process, a long sale; sometimes a 45 minute conversation; but it’s the psychology behind the sale that every manager needs to learn. Mark my words; a “good” marketer can get away with not having been on the phones and not knowing their consumers…a great marketer – one whose goal is not only to have a low CPE, but more importantly, a high graduation rate and high net tuition revenue – will understand the psychology behind the student and will know their consumer. The best marketers in the higher education industry are those who have a thorough understanding of the sales pitch and process as well as the retention model. The more a marketer knows about every aspect of the business, the more successful they will be. AND if the marketer does not want to get on the phones, get down in the ditches, and “get their hands dirty”, they likely have too big of an ego to be successful regardless!

PEOPLE…PEOPLE WHO NEED PEOPLE….

January 22, 2010 Leave a comment

I wonder if Barbara Streisand knew what she was talking about when she sang, “People….people who need people….are the luckiest people….in the world…”. Really? I’m social, an extrovert, and used to being surrounded by 100s of people ALL DAY LONG. Sales and Marketing / Business people, nonetheless…When one goes from 8 years in an education business environment to consulting from home….YUCK. I must admit, I am enjoying the quiet and the ability to focus when I want, where I want…I enjoy it about 60% of the time. But the other 40%…I have no one to gosspip with (yes, I’m a yenta), no one to share ideas with; as a business woman – I am used to and enjoy frequent collaboration, and am wondering how this is going to work without a partner? Hmmm….Well, business may be expanded before I even start it! While it may be pathetic, I do “need” people around to keep me motivated some of the time. Sad to admit, but glad I am self aware enough to admit it.

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