Thursday, March 31, 2005

Sales Tips: How to Sell More By Asking Less

Sales Tips: How To Sell More By Asking Less
By Thomas Murrell MBA CSP, International Business Speaker

Having worked in the media for more than two decades, the one thing I've learnt is that good questions produce good answers.

Bad questions result in poor answers unless the person being interviewed is exceptionally skilled.

Usually the most skilled media interviewers ask the least amount of questions.

The reasons for this are because they have done their homework and are well researched and briefed.

They also ask open and not closed questions.

Their questions also probe deeper into their subject matter.

So how do you apply this experience to improving sales?

Well by working out what questions your customers are likely to ask in the sales process, and providing answers to these, will help you sell more.

Just like doing your homework prior to a media interview, you need to do your homework when meeting with a prospective customer.

Put yourselves in their shoes and work out what questions are they likely to have?

Jeffrey Gitomer provided these questions when sharing a case study in his Sales Session column in the WA Business News newspaper on March 24, 2005 page 27 on questions customers ask before buying.

What do you offer?
What do you offer no one else does?
What do you offer of value?
Does it really fill my need?
Is it real world?
Will it work?
Will it work in our environment?
How will it impact on our people?
How could it impact our success?
Will senior or executive management buy in?
Will my people use it?
How will we produce as a result of the purchase?
How will we profit as a result of the purchase?
Do I trust the people I'm buying from both as people and for their ability to deliver what they promise?
How will it come together?
How do we buy it?
Do I have control to sign off?

I've just about to meet with a client and have gone through this list prior to the sales meeting.

How did it go?

Well, I'll let you know in my next post.

If you want more information on selling, sales and customer service visit our website.

Public Speaking Tips: The Power of Personal Stories

Public Speaking Tips: The Power of Personal Stories
By Thomas Murrell MBA, CSP International Business Speaker

Telling personal stories is one of the most powerful ways to connect with an audience when speaking in public.

In professional speaking, your own stories you have personally experienced and then told are called signature stories.

The best personal stories are also known as vignettes.

They are short, sharp and memorable.

The best way to incorporate personal stories into your presentation is to use the Incident/Point/Benefit structure. For example:

Incident or Story - you tell the story
Point - what is the point of the story?
Benefit - what is the benefit, advantage or WIIFM (what's in it for me) for the audience.

Another school of thinking is the Anne Lamott Style of Storytelling.

She believes the best stories are about truth telling or truth twisting.
According to 60 Second Secrets Newsletter #50 by Susan Harrow, powerful personal stories have 6 common elements.

1. They make people feel less alone.
2. They make people feel better.
3. They make people laugh.
4. They make people cry.
5. They make people take themselves less seriously.
6. They have insightful morals that are not preachy.

Source: Harrow, S. 2005, 60 Second Secrets Newsletter #50.

How can you apply this to your next presentation?

Want help? Why not try our personal coaching, mentoring program or a course by visiting our website.

Monday, March 21, 2005

What is Blogging? A Definition.

What is Blogging?
By Thomas Murrell MBA CSP, International Business Speaker

One of my goals in life is to share my knowledge with young people.

I get that fix as a senior lecturer and course co-ordinator of Public Relations at the School of Marketing and Management at the College of Business at the University of Notre Dame.

I'm just marking more than 110 assignments on the PR trend that is blogging. I'm half-way through marking each 3,000 word essay.

I've read many definitions of blogging but very few within a PR context.

So I want to define blogging as it relates to Public Relations.

This is the definition I've come up with:

Blogging: A two-way communication process allowing interaction between an individual or organisation and its target audiences in a more open, honest, authentic and interesting way.

Please post your comments or visit my website for more PR and marketing resources.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Public Speaking Tips: 10 Easy Ways To Prepare A Powerful Introduction

Public Speaking Tips: 10 Easy Ways To Prepare A Powerful Introduction
By Thomas Murrell MBA CSP, International Business Speaker

An introduction is the very first message an audience will hear when you have to speak in public.

It can set the scene and make or break a presentation. It is frustrating so very few presenters use this powerful tool.

Always request an MC or someone respected to introduce you. This provides instant credibility through third party endorsement.

It is far better for someone else to talk about and endorse your fantastic achievements than yourself.

The more senior, respected, experienced or higher ranked, the greater the credibility boost you will receive.

As that well known phrase goes, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. So do you leave this opportunity to chance? Or do you want to control every word the audience hears?

It is always best to control the introduction and in particular, write your own introduction and importantly brief the person who will be introducing you.

A well written introduction you have prepared beforehand also allows you to move smoothly and unhesitatingly from the introduction to your opening.

Here are some public speaking tips and 10 easy ways to prepare a powerful introduction when giving a speech for any occasion.

1. It Has To Make Sense.
Your introduction must make sense and cover why you are speaking or have been chosen to speak. Read it out aloud to someone else prior to giving it to the introducer.

2. Keep It Simple.
The best introductions are often the simplest.

3. Keep It Short.
A short introduction will have the most impact. Remember the audience has come to hear you not the introducer. Bill Clinton has made famous his mistake in the US Congress where he took longer to introduce someone than the actual speech. Don't make this fatal mistake. A good introduction will take between 20 and 30 seconds to read out and be between 3 and 4 paragraphs in length.

4. Make An Impact.
Good introductions make an impact. Ways to do this could be to start with a rhetorical question.

5. Include Personal Information.
Include personal information to make a human connection with the audience. This helps build rapport and empathy.

6. Include The Quirky, Memorable or Unusual.
This helps the audience relate to and remember you. It is also useful as a way of introducing humour or a foil or balance to all your great achievements. The unusual can also surprise and delight an audience. I use my past involvement in the unusual athletic pursuit of hammer throwing to help put a smile on the audiences faces.

7. Link To The Opening.
Make sure you have a link in your introduction to segue seamlessly into your opening. Remember the introduction and your opening are NOT the same.

8. Have Large Font.
Make sure the introducer can read the introduction. Keep the font as large as possible that will comfortably fit on 1-page.

9. Brief The Introducer.
Always brief the introducer on pronunciations and any stage directions. It is especially important for them to shake your hand to give you confidence and energy and permission to connect with the audience.

10. Give Them Plenty Of Time To Prepare.
Avoid handing the introduction to the MC at the last moment. Give them plenty of time to prepare and rehearse. Most are nervous and will want to do their best. Always avoid the credibility sapping experience of them saying .."So and so has just handed me this and I'm just going to read it out." Don't laugh it has happened to me and nothing dampens your energy and enthusiasm as a presenter more than being intoduced with that line.

Here is an example of an introduction I use:

INTRODUCTION FOR THOMAS MURRELL - Presentation Skills

How can you more effectively get your message across?

More importantly, how can you do this when delivering a speech?

Our guest presenter today is an International Business Speaker, consultant and award-winning broadcaster

He is recognized by his peers as a Certified Speaking Professional or CSP, this is the industry's highest award and there are only 53 people with this in the whole of the Asia Pacific Region.

His company 8M MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS provides solutions to media, marketing & communication issues for Top 500 companies, government organisations and leading Universities.

In a former life he was a radio & TV presenter, executive producer and Senior Media Executive, describing his 12 years at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation as an "apprenticeship".

A graduate of three Australian Universities, he gained his MBA in marketing from the University of Western Australia and is a former National Junior Hammer Throw Champion!

To talk about Powerful & Persuasive Presentations, please welcome MR THOMAS MURRELL (turn to Tom & shake hand).

ENDS

Please feel free to use this as a template and modify it for your own situation.

If you want personalised speech coaching, mentoring or attend one of our seminars please visit our website for details.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Hyperlinks and Text Formatting Within A Blog

Hyperlinks and Text Formatting Within A Blog

When posting to a blogging System you do not need to do any complex coding to post text. This is the great thing about blogging, it is easy and fast. What if you want to create a hyperlink though? (For those who do not know, a hyperlink is the underlined blue text that when clicked brings you to another web page). While, unfortunately you do need to do a bit of coding to achieve this, but don't worry its fairly easy.

The basic form of a hyperlink is as follows

<a href="www.the-site-to-link-to.com">The Text You Want To Click</a>

Lets break this down a bit. The <a href="www.the-site-to-link-to.com"> portion is known as the opening tag. It specifies that the text following the closing angle bracket should be a link, and that when clicked, it should direct the user to www.the-site-to-link-to.com.

The next portion is the text that will appear as a link. In some cases this may be the same as the link's address, but in most cases you will want to use something more creative, such as "Click Here" or if you are feeling really inspired, the name of the site.

The final part is the close tag. It is merely the </a> portion. This portion tells your computer that the link has ended, and that the text following should not be a link.

Some examples: Lets say we want to link to the 8M Media and Communications Home page (at http://www.8mmedia.com), who happen to be the sponsors of this excellent blog. You would use the following code:

<a href="http://www.8mmedia.com">8M Media and Communications Home Page</a>

and the result would look like this:

8M Media and Communications Home Page

Other Tricks: There are a few other commands you can use in blogs to make your text fancy. If you want to make your text italic just use the commands below

<i>italic text</i>
italic text

Bold is another fun one:
<b>bold text</b>
bold text

You may also combine them to obtain both bold and italic:
<b><i>Bold, Italic</i></b>
Bold and Italic

Different blogging systems support varying commands, however all of the above are supported by blogger.com, and should be supported by most other systems.
Happy blogging!

Wesley Budrose
(pbudrose@student.nd.edu.au)
Developer for Communitopia

Editors Note: My thanks to Wesley for sharing this information, Tom

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Creating Keywords for Effective Public Relations Writing Online: Six Easy Steps

Creating Keywords for Effective Public Relations Writing Online: Six Easy Steps
By Thomas Murrell MBA CSP

Determining keywords is a critical step in writing articles online for effective public relations strategy. If your articles, blog, eZine, or website do not contain related keywords, surfers will be unable to find your articles when they conduct searches.

According to Sharon Housley the formula is a little tricky - you will need to locate terms that are popular and relevant to your article. "These terms may or may not be terms that *you* feel are relevant terms," she says.

The optimal terms in an article should be terms that a potential customer would use when searching for an article with your content that relates to your area of expertise.

In order to achieve success your article should be optimized with terms and phrases that are descriptive, related to your content, and which receive a significant amount of searches.

"The caveat, of course, is that you want to find terms and phrases where there is little competition, so you quickly achieve high ranking in the important search engines," according to Housley.

She gives this great formula: relevant + popular with searchers but not with competitors = success

"Markets saturated with other sites competing for search terms make it difficult to find quality keywords. Sometimes it is better to optimize for a less popular term, one that is more targeted at your visitor, as it will likely have a higher conversion rate than a less specific popular term," she believes.

So how do you go about it?

Here are 6 easy steps:


Step 1: Brainstorm a list of logical terms and phrases that relate to your area of expertise, product or offerings. This should be done by a number of individuals; sometimes people have very different ideas for search terms and by identifying a variety of people and their search terms you may tap words that hadn't occurred to you.

Step 2: Use free and low-cost tools available online and for download to allow you to expand and research terms that have been brainstormed. The results typically vary with the tools but overall the tools will assist you in determining where to focus your keyword efforts. The tools will often assist with pay-per-click engines, creating expanded, related keywords or phrases that can be bid on.

Examples include:

KeywordTumbler - KeywordTumbler takes existing keyword phrases and generates multiple variations, reordering the words. This allows you to build a large keyword list in seconds.
http://www.keywordtumbler.com

TheDowser - Overture Keyword Tool, Google Keyword Sandbox, Keyword Harvester, Google AdWords report analyzer, Google AdWords optimization tool, log file analyzer, conversion tracking and optimization tool.
http://www.thedowser.com

WordTracker - Wordtracker helps you choose the right internet marketing keywords that will help your search engine placement and ranking. Use Wordtracker for keyword research. Web marketing is all about search engine ranking, and that starts with the proper internet marketing keywords. Get a free keyword report and web site promotion information!
http://www.wordtracker.com

Keyword Suggestion Tools - A handy little tool will show you the results of your query from both Wordtracker and Overture for determining which phrases are searched most often. Enter a search phrase below to see how often it's searched for, as well as get suggestions for alternate (but similar) keywords.
http://www.digitalpoint.com/tools/suggestion/

Keyword Ranking Tool - This utility can be used to check search engines for keyword ranking and track search engine ranking for your various keywords over time, which, as you probably know, is critical when doing search engine optimization.
http://www.digitalpoint.com/tools/keywords/

Overture Keyword Tool - After entering a keyword or phrase, Overture provides a list of related phrases that have been searched on. The tool provides a count that indicates the number of times the phrase has been searched on.
http://inventory.overture.com/d/searchinventory/suggestion/

Topword Tool - Topword Tool is a free online tool that analyzes a complete web page and counts keyword occurrences, as well as keyword phrases (number in brackets), equal to or above that set in the Minimum Occurrences setting. It supplies a list of keywords and keyword phrases which are most likely to achieve the highest rankings on a major search engine. The tool will also analyze your meta description/keyword and title tags and then, through color coding, inform you of words/phrases which should be included. The main use for this tool is checking your optimization and tweaking existing web sites to rank well.
http://www.abakus-internet-marketing.de/tools/topword.html

Google Suggestion - The Google Suggestion is a new online tool for webmasters. As you type into the search box, Google Suggest guesses what you're typing and offers suggestions in real time. This is similar to Google's "Did you mean?" feature that offers alternative spellings for your query after you search, except that it works in real time. For example, if you type "bass", Google Suggest might offer a list of refinements that include "bass fishing" or "bass guitar". Similarly, if you type in only part of a word, like "progr," Google Suggest might offer you refinements like "programming", "programming languages", "progesterone", or "progressive". You can choose one by scrolling up or down the list with the arrow keys or mouse. The tool provides a number that indicates the number of searches a specific word or phrase has had.
http://www.google.com/webhp?complete=1&hl=en

Step 3: Examine your log files on your own website to see what terms customers are using to find an article or website,

Step 4: Visit competitors web sites and articles and examine their meta tags for additional terms,

Step 5: Use a thesaurus to find related terms, include misspellings of keywords in your keywords, and optimize for various forms of nouns and verbs, including tenses and plurals.

Step 6: Measure your success. Keyword statistics give Internet marketers a way to tap into what is on the minds of Internet consumers. When you can match your marketing efforts to the various ways people locate their items of interest on the net, Housley says "potential customers will be streamed to your site like ants to a picnic". Also measure posts to your blog or new subscribers to your Ezine as other ways to measure how successful your effective public relations strategy has been.

Source: Adapted from: "Determining Keywords" by Sharon Housley published online at http://www.softwaremarketingresource.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=433

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Effective Public Relations Writing: Tips For Online Articles

Effective Public Relations Writing: Tips For Online Articles
By Thomas Murrell MBA CSP

Effective public relations writing now involves writing online articles for blogs or weblogs, eZines and websites.

The main objective of the article should not be to sell. It should be a tool to educate and build relationships with key stakeholder groups and target audiences.

You can read some of my own articles here.

Remember effective public relations is all about managing relationships with key stakeholders and building bridges with them to create goodwill.

Doing this online is easy, cost effective and essential.

The key skill to effective public relations writing, especially online is the style in which the articles are written.

Here are some tips from Christopher Knight of EzineArticles.com and his article marketing & publicity project.

1. TITLE TIP: Be sure to Capitalize the First Letter of every major word in your TITLE. Also, do not end your TITLE with a period.


2. TITLE CRITICAL TIP: The first 4 words of your TITLE totally determines 99% of the success of your article in terms of how much traffic we are able to invite the search engines to deliver to your article. Don't waste the first 4 words as this is critical. Instead, be sure to use keyword rich terms that are related to your core article theme.

3. RESOURCE BOX TIP: Please don't submit duplicate unique URLs in your article. Your target should be to not have more than 3 TOTAL URLs in the entire article with no more than 2 in the RESOURCE BOX and none of the 3 being an exact duplicate. I wrote an article recently on what to include in the Perfect Resource Box.

Source: Christopher M. Knight
http://EzineArticles.com/