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The Future of Sales and Marketing

The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Brittany Ransonet

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Inbound Marketing: Explain it to me like I’m 5

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

I think Albert Einstein was onto something with that statement.

If you’ve ever found yourself trying to explain something technical or complex to someone who isn’t familiar with the topic, you know what I mean. Perhaps you work in finance or real estate and are all too familiar with the puzzled looks from your clients when you try to explain mortgages, stocks, or investments. (This is where all those “______ for Dummies” books come in handy, right?)

As an inbound marketing consultant, I get the confused look pretty often. It’s easy for me to assume everyone knows what inbound is. After all it’s a big “buzzword” in the digital marketing world. But the reality is it’s still a relatively new topic and those in other industries don’t always understand. Sure, maybe they’ve heard the term, but they don’t really have a good grasp of what it is or what it looks like. In fact, I have friends in sales, management, and even some working in traditional (outbound) marketing that are still giving me that quizzical look even after I provide them with the general definition—and these are people that should know. They’re the ones who can really benefit from it.

It’s at this point where I typically recall (and laugh about) the scene from The Office, where Steve Carrel’s character is trying to understand an explanation of their budget but doesn’t get it. After briefly pretending to understand, he finally asks his coworker to, “Explain it to me like I’m 5.” And, ever since then, I’ve found myself thinking this same thought when someone is trying to explain something complex or technical that I’m not familiar with, or when I need to explain something of similar nature to someone else.

Here’s our official definition of inbound marketing:

The process of attracting the attention of prospects, through content, before they are even ready to buy; the best and most cost-effective way to convert strangers into customers and promoters of your business.

But, again, what does it really entail? What does it look like? Complexities and technical jargon aside, of

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Topics: inbound marketing

What is a Target Persona and Why Do I Need One?

There’s a great line from the hit show Friends that strikes me as appropriate to any discussion of target personas. If you’re a fan, you may remember when the whole gang goes to Barbados in one of the later seasons, and Joey meets someone who doesn’t own a TV. Dumbfounded, he says: “You don’t own a TV? What’s all your furniture pointed at?” 

Similarly, with inbound marketing, when I hear someone doesn’t have a clearly defined persona I think, “You don’t know your target persona*? Who’s all your content targeted to?” While a TV isn’t necessary to make a room, a target persona is absolutely necessary for a successful inbound marketing strategy. 

Why? In order to be successful, you must generate amazing content that speaks to your prospects’ various needs, pain points, and buying cycle stages. If you don’t have that information, how do you create content that is of value to them? (Hint: You can’t.) That’s why knowing your target persona is so vital.


What is a Target Persona? 

What exactly is a target persona? They’re your ideal prospects and customers that you’re trying to attract with your inbound marketing efforts. It’s whom your entire inbound marketing strategy is focused toward. Often confused with target audience, your target persona goes beyond demographics and psychographics and focuses more on your prospects’ and consumers’ needs, pain points, and buying process. When you understand their buying process and speak to their needs, you can engage with them through each phase until they’re ready to purchase.

Creating your Personas

While the information you want to know will vary depending on the type of business you are and what industry you’re in, some of the core insights will be similar. Adele Revella, founder of The Buyer Persona Institute, has identified the “5 Rings of Buying Insight.” These serve as an excellent guide when you’re deciding what information is (and isn’t) necessary to know.   

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Topics: inbound marketing

How am I Supposed to Know Which Keywords to Go After? Developing a Keyword Strategy

If you find it a bit daunting to develop a keyword strategy, you’re not alone! Many people don’t fully understand which keywords they should go after, and they don’t know how to find out. The concept seems simple. We want our website to appear when someone searches for a solution to a problem we can solve. But it can be hard to get started.

confused_businesswomanHere are a few simple tips to help you get in the mindset of finding the right keywords.

1. Start with your target personas in mind.

Think about what problems you solve for them. What are their needs? What are they likely to type into a search bar? The keywords will come naturally.

2. Use long-tail keywords.

Thanks to Google’s release of its Hummingbird algorithm last fall, long-tail keywords have taken center stage. Long-tail keywords are longer phrases that usually consist of three or more words. For example: “how to fix a leaky faucet.” They’re more specifically relevant and tend to have less competition, allowing you to rank higher. Long-tail keywords are also more likely to reflect what your buyer personas are typing into their search bar, giving you not just any visitors, but qualified ones. It’s important to remember that you’re no longer writing for search engines—you’re writing for humans. Search engines want to match your content to what people are searching for.

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Topics: inbound marketing

Is Your Personal Brand Keeping You From Getting That First Appointment?

get_into_shapeThe numbers are turning increasingly negative for salespeople: more people are competing with you to get a slot on the prospect’s calendar at the very moment when more available information has plenty of prospects convinced they don’t need to see salespeople at all. If you want to meet your goals in an environment as tough as that, your approach needs to be very together, very tight, very toned. But most salespeople have an approach that could only be described as weak—often because their personal brand is flabby.

Not to fear! I will be your personal brand’s trainer. One of my specialties is helping B2B sellers get into shape, and I can help you, too. (Note for those who dread working out: don’t worry, no sweat will be involved in this process, but you will get results if you put in the work.)

Your Personal Brand is More Important Than You Think

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Topics: Sales

Where to Find Great Needs Analysis Questions in Preparation for an Appointment

Where_to_Find_Great_Needs_Analysis_Questions_in_Preparation_for_an_AppointmentUntil recently, when sellers asked for my help it typically involved creating a strong valid business reason to help secure a first meeting with a prospect. But over the past few weeks, I’ve had multiple people seek help with preparing for a meeting they’ve already secured (which is just as important). Yes, it seems that more and more people are realizing the cold, hard truth – preparation no longer ends after you get the appointment (did it ever?). That first needs analysis meeting is a critical part of the selling process so “winging it” should never be your strategy. 

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Topics: Sales

Three Consumer Trends That You Can Capitalize on in B2B sales

3_consumer_trends_that_you_can_capitalize_on_in_B2B_salesYou may be in B2B sales, but did you know there are consumer trends that you can use to your advantage? As a Consumer Behavior Analyst, much of my focus is on identifying consumer trends among various industries. 

Why? So businesses can better understand how to serve their consumers and ultimately, profit. Let’s not forget, we are all consumers – and it’s not something we can just turn off. Therefore, these trends may apply to consumers of your products and services (your prospects and clients).

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Topics: Sales