041: Laura Briggs on SEO for the busy small business owner

Laura Briggs

Laura Briggs is a former middle school teacher, so nothing phases her. 😉 Like so many young teacher, the structure of the educational system left her burned out and she entered the digital freelancing economy as a freelance SEO writer.

She’s done TEDx talks on freelancing, and just released her first book, Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business.

In this episode, Laura pulls back the cover on the mysteries of SEO, which can seem so daunting, complicating, and time-consuming that many of us punt on it. Punting is not a great move. Here are some key things to take away:

  • The biggest misconception is the feeling that SEO is so complex that you have to pay someone thousands of dollars per month.
  • The first thing you need to do is figure out the most important keywords for your business. “For your business” means the words that your customers use to describe their problems, not the the words you might want to use to describe your offerings.
    • You can use tools like UberSuggest to help find keywords.
    • YouTube (the world’s 2nd biggest search engine) is also useful. Just start typing in the search bar and see what YouTube suggests.
    • What do people describe as their biggest problems, when you meet with prospects in person or on the phone.
  • Excluding bad fit visitors is as useful as including good fits. You can be explicit about who is a good or bad fit, right on the page.
  • How many keywords do you need? (Keep in mind that “keyword” is really a “key phrase”, of 3-6 words, not a single word.)
    • Use the “keyword” about once per 100 words. Don’t “stuff” the keyword unnaturally into content in an attempt to trick Google. Write for the human reader first.
    • Use specific “long tail keywords” to get more specific, and get traffic from your ideal prospects. For example, ranking for “tennis shoes” is going to be hard, because you’re competing with folks like Nike. But if you say “the best tennis shoes for marathon runners”, you can target much better.
    • You can link to blog posts, which can provide more variation than the “static” service pages on your site.
  • Post at least once per week. (!!!)
    • You can post about your core business, but also “complimentary content”, like “what do eat before you play tennis.”
    • Create a schedule that you can sustain.
    • Work in the medium you enjoy, and then repurpose (for example, if you are comfortable talking, then record a video and have someone transcribe it as a blog post, or vice versa).
  • Backlinks are hard because you don’t have control (on multiple levels). Work on the stuff you can control first. Link properly within your own site, and also link to resources that you cite in your writing. For example, in writing for attorneys, Laura might cite research from hospitals or government sources.
  • Remember that the human reader is the priority. Even if you can somehow trick Google into sending you traffic, what’s going to happen if you don’t write for your ideal visitor?
  • How much time do you need? You need to spend some time upfront. But, once you have a routine, you can batch, bimonthly or monthly, by setting up a calendar and creating a lot of posts or videos or whatever else. This should take at minimum 2 hours per week, but again, you can batch your work. Do what works for you.
    • For example, Laura prefers to carve out one day per month to crank on content. Even for YouTube, Laura will switch shirts between videos and crank out 4 videos. (Too bad this strategy is dangerous for Sales for Nerds.)

Grab a copy of Laura’s new book, Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business: The Complete Guide to Starting and Scaling from Scratch. If you’re a freelance writer, this is a no-brainer, but even for other kinds of service freelance businesses, you’ll find a lot of great stuff in here.

One awesome gem from the book, regardless of whether you’re a freelance writer: the deadlines that you commit to are up to you. Don’t drive yourself crazy.

The Wine

Laura is enjoying some red sangria (“the way I get my serving of fruit”).

I enjoyed some Shannon Ridge Petite Syrah.

Where to find Laura…

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients and would love some help getting more, but hate “selling”). You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

If you’ve ever struggled with a proposal, check out the “official” Sales for Nerds online course on Sales Proposals the Right Way (coupon link for listeners).


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040: Steve Benson on Successful Sales Meetings

Steve Benson is the CEO of Badger Mapping, an app that literally helps sales reps solve the Traveling Salesman Problem, one of the canonical hard problems in computer science, and also very important in the real world. While Steve works in mapping and has a degree in geography, he’s got a background in field sales, becoming Google’s top enterprise sales rep in 2009.

Yet he didn’t have a grand plan to combine his love of geography with practical real-world careers.

He started his post-MBA career in sales at IBM, but was only passionate about the software, not the hardware and services. Joining Google and being close to the Google Maps team, he had a lot of geographical thoughts swirling in his head.

How to run a successful sales meeting:

  1. Get in the right headspace before the meeting. Focus on value. Describe the product like you’re describing a vacation. There’s a different sound in your voice than if you’re describing a product that we’re not really excited about.
  2. Have a pre-call before the meeting. Make sure you know the #1 thing your contact wants to get out of the meeting. Set an agenda.
  3. Don’t just drone on about features– talk to the pain and the needs.
  4. You’re not trying to do training– you can do that after the sale.
  5. Wrap up, make sure you’ve covered what the prospect needs, and agree on the next steps. Set aside time to do this.
  6. Flip the script and put your “dinosaur feature” at the beginning.

How to handle price objections (and other objections, including disagreement among your champion’s colleagues) proactively. (Also see Terry Hansen’s episode on objection prevention and handling.)


The Wine

Steve enjoyed some 2015 Smoking Loon cabernet sauvignon.

I had some 2014 Wind Gap Ni-Pente Pinot Noir.


Where to find Steve…

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients and would love some help getting more, but hate “selling”). You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

If you’ve ever struggled with a proposal, check out the “official” Sales for Nerds online course on Sales Proposals the Right Way (coupon link for listeners).


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039: Sean McCool on copywriting

I got to know Sean (and his cohost, Jonathan Taylor) when I joined them on their Persuasion by the Pint podcast.

Since we are clearly kindred spirits when it comes to podcasting, and Sean happened to be visiting Austin and I hadn’t really done an episode about copywriting, we got together to give you some great stories and practical tips on writing copy, which I know is a tough challenge for a lot of people.

Sean was also a good sport and departed from his usual pint into the wine world.

In this episode, learn:

  • The amazingly simple way Sean made $250 in high school to buy Christmas presents for his family and girlfriend.
  • How Sean flunked out of school, joined the military, got a sales job, and made it into the top 30% but could never quite make it to the top.
  • How he started a business with his dad (“we just about killed each other”) and decided he had to do something else.
  • How he got down to his last $26, and how what he did with it changed the course of his life.
  • How he could charge double or triple what his competitors charged.
  • How to write copy that people actually want to read (and what people usually do instead).
  • Simple, practical tips that anyone can follow to create great copy, like:
    • Record your sales calls, transcribe them and tease out the words and phrases your prospects use.
    • Take a webinar or sales deck and turn each section or slide into an email.
    • If you have an FAQ section on your website, turn each one into an email. (Or maybe you don’t have an FAQ section, but you do get certain questions frequently.)
    • “If you were writing for a friend, how would you say it?”
  • The W.O.R.D. formula for developing copy
    • Win the reader’s attention.
    • Orchestrate the reader’s desire.
    • Resolve skepticism.
    • Determine next action. (Doesn’t have to be a sale– it might even be a “give” instead of an “ask”. You don’t have to get them all the way to the sale all at once. Make their path small, easy steps.)

Much, much more…

The Wine

Sean is a big beer drinker, but was a good sport. We did an easy drinking California Pinot, the Ampelos 2014 from Santa Rita Hills.


Where to find Sean:

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients and would love some help getting more, but hate “selling”). You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

If you’ve ever struggled with a proposal, check out the “official” Sales for Nerds online course on Sales Proposals the Right Way (coupon link for listeners).


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038: Liston Witherill on growing your consulting practice beyond referrals

Liston got his start in environmental engineering, and picked up a lot of sales and marketing expertise along the way. He started freelancing as a digital marketer (“I knew enough to be dangerous”) and started an agency.

However, as marketing scales, it becomes less about individual people and more about numbers. He missed the one-on-one interaction, so he started his current venture, to help consultants scale their practices, making him a great fit for Sales for Nerds, since that’s really the whole mission of the podcast.

In this episode, learn:

  • About Liston’s life work: understanding how people make decisions and why.
  • The three types of consulting founders (and why all of them rely on sales to make money).
  • Which is why you need to invest in sales and marketing the same way you invest in your craft.
  • How you can be more proactive in generating referrals and word-of-mouth type sales, instead of waiting passively for that business to come to you.
  • How to use inbound and outbound strategies together, and why they are both important.
  • To quote @garyvee, “Businesses won’t survive unless they’re media companies.” (Or, as I wrote a couple years ago, every company is a media company.)
  • How to deal with your fear of entering the media world.
  • The one critical thing you need more of to get more clients.
  • Liston’s simple, attainable, really strong outbound sales strategy that you can start doing right now.
  • How to handle inbound inquiries better.
  • Much, much more…


The Wine Whisky

Liston brings some Kentucky bourbon– Ri(1) (pronounced Rye-one).

I was all out of Lagavulin, perhaps my favorite Scotch, but I did have some Lagavulin Distiller’s Edition laying around, which brings a bit more sherry flavor to the peaty intensity of Lagavulin. I think this is probably the most expensive bottle I’ve featured on the podcast, although on a per-serving basis, whisky is a pretty good value. 😉

And, if you’re in Portland and like whisk{e}y, Liston recommends the Multnomah Whisk{e}y Library, where just the Scotch section of the menu runs 20 pages.


Where to find Liston:

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients but would love some help getting more). You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

If you’ve ever struggled with a proposal, check out the “official” Sales for Nerds online course on Sales Proposals the Right Way (coupon link for listeners).


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037: Rick Middlemass on Sales Psychology

Rick Middlemass

Rick is the VP of Sales and Marketing for National Association of Sales Professionals, so he’s like an uber meta-sales person, but that’s not how he started. He got a summer internship knocking on doors for a painting company. Learn about his journey, and hear Rick’s insights on sales psychology, including:

  • Why you’re a sales professional if you’re a business owner.
  • What he learned his first day doing door-to-door sales as an introvert, and how you can use it when dealing with your own inner psychology.
  • How Rick became the #1 sales rep for a Cisco integrator, outselling many people who had been there long before him.
  • How much time to give yourself to do research before a call.
  • How information gets conveyed (55% body language, 38% tone, 7% words). This is why talking on the phone loses so much information.
  • (Check out the show Lie to Me for more on how body language reveals a lot about us.)
  • The importance of finding mentors, and why it’s not as hard as you think.
  • Pre-framing (don’t just punt it to the prospect), re-framing (getting back on track), and de-framing (backing out gracefully if there isn’t a fit) are 3 great skills to learn.
  • Learn to ask questions gently, but persistently.
  • Sales is not about directing, it’s about aligning and redirecting. (Don’t attack someone, they will put up a wall.)
  • The one thing Rick would like people to fix: don’t focus on yourself.


The Wine

Rick brings some innovation to Sales for Nerds by having champagne.

I make a move to Burgundy with Chateau de Santenay Bourgogne Pinot Noir, which is definitely more earthy than the California Pinot I often drink, but still accessible and it doesn’t have the deep earth flavors some people don’t enjoy.

Where to find Rick:


listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients but would love some help getting more). You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

If you’ve ever struggled with a proposal, check out the “official” Sales for Nerds online course on Sales Proposals the Right Way (coupon link for listeners).


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036: Craig Elias on Trigger Event Selling and More

Craig Elias

Craig started as a computer science major and ended up one of the top sales people in Canada, with a best-selling sales book to his name.

How did this happen? And what can you learn from this for your business (and your life)?

In this episode, learn:

  • What’s considered a mild winter in Calgary.
  • How he jump started his sales career, even though he didn’t seem qualified on paper. (And how he reflected on this later and the realization it led to.)
  • Craig’s primary sales philosophy: How do I become the first person people call when they have a problem?
  • Where to look for great sales reps.
  • Why he had a lot of price objections when he started, and what he did about it.
  • What he did after he joined WorldCom just as 9/11 was happening, and then, after he became their top sales rep, what happened when everyone realized the execs had committed accounting fraud. It was the first time no one would buy from him.
  • Craig’s 3 big epiphanies about sales:
    • The Window of Disatisfaction
    • Trigger Events (and typical examples)
    • Analyzing wins (and why it’s more important than the typical sales advice of “even if you lose the deal, don’t lose the lesson”)
  • Why you need to use verbs instead of nouns (with some great examples from trucking companies to marriages), and what you want to hear as a response.
  • Why you want to ask “how?” and “what?” rather than “why?” questions (speaking of advice that can also apply to marriages).
  • Why Craig ended up living on Yerba Buena Island in the middle of San Francisco Bay (I always wondered who actually lived there whenever I drove over the Bay Bridge).
  • And much, much more. Even though I had read Craig’s book, I learned a ton, and I think you will, too.

The Wine

After my forced experiment with rosé in the last episode, I’m back to reds with Parducci True Grit Reserve Petite Syrah 2014 from California, while Craig enjoyed some Tom Gore 2016 Cab, his favorite California Cabernet Sauvignon.

Where to find Craig:

Craig’s Book:

Shift! Harness the Trigger Events that Turn Prospects into Customers

Other books mentioned in the episode:

Consultative Selling, by Mack Hanan.

Spin Selling, by Neil Rackham. Craig says that chapter 4 in particular is the best 30 pages written about sales.

And, my weakness in Russian literature is obvious. The quote about happy families is not from Dostoyevsky. It’s Tolstoy– in fact it’s the beginning of Anna Karenina:

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients but would love some help getting more). You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.


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035: Joy Beatty on Engineering the Sales Process

JoyBeattyJoy Beatty insists she is not a VP of Sales. Or Marketing. Even though she runs both teams for Seilevel, a requirements consulting firm that helps companies complete big software project successfully by actually having the right requirements in place. (For people who have never been involved in these big projects, this probably sounds crazy. For people who have, you know how important it is.)

How does she reconcile this: “I don’t see myself in sales. I see myself as a problem-solver.” One thing she can do is put a process in place. So that’s what she did, to great success. Learn how she did that, and how you can do the same thing, without being a world class sales expert, including

  • How she never wanted to run sales, and thought it was a terrible idea.
  • How she applied Sandler concepts (including some learned from Adam Boyd from Episode 3), not only to sales, but also to consulting, including the use of upfront contracts and making it safe to say “no.” (“I don’t feel like I’m doing sales, and I guess that’s why it’s working.”)
  • Why they don’t use quotas.
  • How to get opportunities unstuck.
  • How they defined the sales process (and how you can do it quickly if you’re not sure where to start).
  • How to get people to change and use the new process.
  • How Joy applies requirements consulting techniques to simplify sales reporting.
  • How to keep yourself accountable if you’re doing sales in addition to your “day job.”
  • Joy shares a tip she learned from me (!) about picking up the phone.

Here’s an example of working on the sales process:

Working on the sales process

 

 

The Wine

Aime Roquesante Rose 2017

Joy brought some Aimé Roquesante rosé. I am trying to broaden my horizons, but I have to admit I’m having some trouble here. If you’re a rosé fan, don’t let me deter you.

Where to find Joy:

Books by Joy:


Visual Models for Software Requirements, with Anthony Chen

 

 

Software Requirements, 3rd Edition with Karl Wiegers (Microsoft Press, like Code Complete).

 

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients but would love some help getting more). listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on AndroidPlayer.fm.


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034: Terry Hansen on preventing objections in the sales cycle

Terry HansenTerry is the President of Hansen Group Company, a sales performance improvement firm, and the creator of Hansen University, an online training platform with over 60 hours of online courses for sales professionals and sales managers. For over a decade, Terry has helped enterprises, nonprofits and startups find more prospects, close more deals, and retain customers longer. Terry and his wife have 5 kids, so that might be an even more impressive insight into his organizational skills. 😉

Like most people on this podcast, Terry never thought he’d end up in sales, let alone a sales trainer. A gymnast in high school, Terry ended up working as a stunt performer at Disneyland.

He almost ran off to join the circus. Literally. But with a young family, he needed more reliable work, so he tried sales. And was terrible at it. It took him years to figure it out (although less time than me).

He realized that most of his peers in the sales group had a really polished pitch, so he created his own. Only to realize that the really successful sales reps were much more about listening than talking. Today’s buyers already have a lot of information– they don’t need a feature dump.

Terry also realized that it’s really hard to overcome objections (despite the extensive sales literature on this topic). It’s much better to prevent those objections earlier in the sales process.

Terry realized that while their are lots of possible objections, they basically boil down to 4 main issues:

  1. Motivation. How much pain or urgency is there?
  2. Budget and money.
  3. Authority to get the deal done.
  4. The product/service/solution itself.

The PIMAT Framework. Use Terry’s framework to remember what you need to have a qualified deal:

  • Problem.
  • Impact.
  • Money.
  • Authority.
  • Technical.

Forget about overcoming objections– prevent them, instead. Grab your free PIMAT scorecard from Terry.

 

 

The wine (and more)

Sinergia Cabernet Sauvignon 2014Reuben enjoyed a Los Frailes Sinergia Cabernet Sauvignon from 2014. It’s an organic wine, that started with a strong “this is an organic wine” taste (can someone tell me what that is?), but having a glass the day after I opened it, that taste was mostly gone, and what was left was a very smooth cab (I would have thought it was a different grape, if you’d asked me).

Terry doesn’t drink alcohol, so he had something much less healthy– the famous chocolate milk with potato flakes from Reed’s Dairy. It sounds like some kind of Idaho joke, and I’ve never had it, but those who have swear the use of the potato flakes improves the taste and texture over regular chocolate milk and people who have visited can develop cravings.
bottle_0002_oban-14yo

Where to find Terry:

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients but would love some help getting more). listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on AndroidPlayer.fm.


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How to Nail Your Proposals (on the Predictable Revenue Podcast)

I had a lot of fun talking about proposals with Collin Stewart, co-CEO of Predictable Revenue (along with Aaron Ross, author of Predictable Revenue, who did an interview on Sales for Nerds earlier to talk about that and his new book From Impossible to Inevitable). Collin was a good sport about me beating up on his proposal (he had sent me an example before the interview, and I had taken out my proverbial red pen). I hope I was as good a sport about my poor outbound sales skills. 😉

Anyway, check it out.

Here are the show notes, including iTunes link, etc, on PredictableRevenue.com.

And here are the resources mentioned in the episode (including a discount on the    Sales for Nerds Proposal Online Course).

033: Vanessa Van Edwards on How to Captivate People

Vanessa Van Edwards Vanessa Van Edwards is lead investigator at the Science of People—a human behavior research lab. She is the national bestselling author of Captivate: The Science of Succeeding With People, which was chosen as one of Apple’s Most Anticipated Books of the year. Her work has been featured on CNN, NPR and Fast Company. She has written columns on the science of success for Entrepreneur Magazine and the Huffington Post. Vanessa started her study of people as a shy teenager, trying to figure out how people interacted. This turned into a lifelong pursuit. When I read her book, I wanted her to come on the show. Vanessa was kind enough to take time away from her 10 week old daughter to share her story and wisdom. There’s a lot of great stuff in here, including

  • When to practice your new tactics (and when not to).
  • One of the few things Reuben did right in college, and how you can apply this technique right now to help you.
  • Why we subconsciously use defensive body language in work settings, and what we can do about it (another great VVE technique).
  • Starting a conversation vs “sparking” a conversation.
  • Why everyone should do 6 months in sales of some kind.
  • Vanessa’s sales tip– don’t focus on sales, focus on stories.
  • Don’t hand out your props at the beginning of the meeting.
  • How to let other people impress you, instead of trying to impress them.
  • What to say, where to stand, and what to do at networking events.
  • How to share stories effectively, and how to know if your stories are too long.
  • How to ask for advice
  • Bonus: A tip that Vanessa has never mentioned before when people ask if you know someone…

Books Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People Captivate The science of succeeding with people               Other books mentioned:

  • Howard’s End, by E.M. Forster. One of the great works of English literature (so I’m told) with a great motif: “Only connect!”

Other Tools & Resources:

  • Check out Vanessa’s site Science of People for all kind of goodies on improving your social interactions.

The wine

As mentioned, Vanessa had to take a rain check on the wine because she has a newborn that she’s feeding, but in her honor, I got to enjoy something from one of her favorite Oregon wineries, Argyle (it’s the 2013 Reserve Pinot Noir). It’s got a bit of fruit and bit of earth, but not whelming, and it’s got more body than a lot of Willamette pinots. Argyle Pinot Noir 2013    bottle_0002_oban-14yo

Where to find Vanessa:

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients but would love some help getting more). listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on AndroidPlayer.fm.


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