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From Hero to Zero, Dallas Cowboys and the Sales Cycle
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Orlando Scandrick at the Dallas Cowboys training camp in 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sales, like football, is a psychological exercise.  The term “Hero to Zero” is used in many sales rooms at the beginning of the month.  As the sales manager wipes all the units sold on the board off from the previous month and writes the new month’s name at the top he will say “everyone who was a hero last month is a zero this month”.  That is not just a catchy phrase.  And it does not only apply to the month.

Look at the roller coaster that was the Dallas Cowboys 2014 season.  Almost every other week there was a challenge that threatened the season.  From that first loss to the 49e’s to Romo’s injury to the sorry play by the entire team on thanksgiving nothing was ever a gimme.  Through it all the team went from hero to zero each week.  They went to work and no matter how bad the previous game was, they came to play their hardest at the next one.

Even from play to play each guy has to have a very short memory.  He might completely screw up the last play, but he has the potential to make the game changing play on the next snap.  We salespeople need to think that way too.

In one Cowboys game this season our corner back, Orlando Scandrick,

totally whiffed on a ball and let the receiver he was covering make a huge touchdown.  It was a really bad play and could have cost us the ballgame.

As the offence took the field to try to answer the previous drive, the camera showed the Cowboys sideline and there was Scandrick screaming at the defensive line trying to motivate them.  I thought “the nerve of that guy… he just screwed the pooch and he has the gall to yell at his teammates?”.  If it were me I would be sitting quietly in the corner hanging my head in shame.

The offence did their part and then the defense, with Scandrick, took the field for the next drive.  It was the final drive of the game.  If the defense did not stop them then the game was lost because of that bad play by our corner back.  Scandrick, who I thought should be in a shame spiral by now, was motivated instead.  I watched with incredulity as he used the previous screw up to his advantage.  He was aggressive, he was fired up, he was running all over the place trying to make a difference.  I was mesmerized.

His tenacity paid off… he intercepted a would-be game winning touchdown pass in the end zone and won the game.

That is when the term “hero to zero” finally made sense to me.  It works both ways; hero to zero and zero to hero.  Even though you might have made the biggest sale of the year, it is just one sale (hero to zero).  In the same way if you have a horrible sales call and can’t close a drawer much less a deal, it is temporary (zero to hero).  You have to forget about it and do it all again.  Each call you make, each appointment you run, each person you meet, is another chance to be a hero.  If you are in a slump then it is just in your head.

What do you think?  Think Scandrick is a hack?  Do you think I am?  Let me know in the comments below, I would love to tell you why you are wrong.

What I learned about Sales by watching the Dallas Cowboys
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Dallas Cowboys 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This season has been a wonderful surprise for all Cowboys fans.  We have trudged through years of rooting for a team that is the very definition of mediocre.  But that all changed this season.  Though it was never a sure thing.

We watched the first game play out with dread, thinking that it was going to be another looooonnnnggg season.  Then there were a few rays of hope.  We won the next couple against other mediocre teams… and then we beat the Saints.  Everyone in Cowboys Nation thought it must be a fluke. The Saints were good. Top tier even (at the time at least).  We should not have won that game… should we?

It was similar to going to that appointment that you didnt think would even show up.  Not only do they show, but they close right there at the first appointment.  You think, it was just a fluke… those situations are so rare, it’s not something to expect, right?

Even though the Cowboys were 4 and 1, there was simply no way we were going to win against the reigning superbowl champs.  Especially in their notoriously loud and hard to play in home field.  But lo and behold, our beloved though much maligned Cowboys stepped up and beat the friggin’ TAR out of the Seahawks, and in their own stadium no less.

It wasnt a fluke!  We were cautiously excited… we had been let down before.  It’s just like when you get two of those rare deals that are easy to close back to back.  You start thinking that maybe you are just that good.  That maybe every deal is going to be that easy from now on.

Then Romo got hurt in a loss to the lowly Redskins.  To add insult to injury (literally) they are one of our most hated division rivals.  Another loss to the very good Cardinals and we collectively resolved to watch another disappointing season.  Then the Giants, another hated rival was beaten and we were up again… maybe, just maybe, we could make the playoffs.

Kindof like that slump you go through in sales every now and again.  Nothing is working, every deal is hard to close and takes a ton of follow up.  Lots of disappointments and few successes.  You get a deal every now and again, but they are all hard to come by and you are working far harder than you were before to get less money.

Back to the Cowboys, we all started doing math… how many wins will it take to get the wildcard spot.  We probably wouldn’t win the Division – the Eagles were charging ahead and playing very well.  But surely we would get the wildcard spot… right?  Definitely- we just had to beat the Eagles on Thanksgiving.  It was going to be the game that would make or break the season.

Full of turkey and dressing we all gathered around the TV to watch with baited breath.  it was going to be a tough game, but we all knew our ‘Boys would give it all they had.  Three hours later we were sick to our collective stomachs.  The indigestion was not from overeating, it was from the sorry sad lackluster play of our team.  The Eagles beat us badly – it was a total route.  The season was over.  Only one game would be played against the Bears before we got trounced by the Eagles a second time.  The math was looking bad too.  Even with a 10-6 record we might not make the playoffs, even as a wildcard.

Now this is similar to when that slump turns into a full on drought.  Nothing closes, even setting appointments is difficult much less closing them.  No sales, no prospects, no money… no anything.  Its bad when things get like this.  You start to wonder if a regular job wouldn’t just be easier.

The Cowboys beat the Bears pretty easily as we knew we would, but the Eagles game at Cowboys Stadium would be hard to watch.  We did watch though… we always do.  Much to our surprise we won!  We could win the division!  It would take a lot of work, the wildcard was probably out because the NFC is crazy this season. So we had to shoot for the division championship or go home.

Then Christmas came early.

The Eagles got p’wned by the Redskins.  The Redskins!  All we had to do to win the division was win our next game.  Problem was the next game was against the Colts.  The Indianapolis friggin’ Colts.  Even though they had the same record, they were a better team.  It was gonna be tough.  We Cowboys fans figured we would loose that game, but win against the Redskins and then we would watch to see if the division would be ours.  We surely would not clench or even control our own destiny.

Everyone knows how that game turned out.  The mighty Colts came to Dallas and got their rear end’s handed to them.  We clinched the division.  It was such a shock that many are still talking about how good the Cowboys have been this season.

So how does that relate to sales?

Check back next week for the conclusion… From Hero to Zero, Dallas Cowboys and the Sales Cycle.  In the mean time, tell me what you think.

Are the Cowboys a fluke?  Does all this smack of psycho-babble?  Tell me in the comments below.  I would love to tell you why you are wrong!

End of Year Checklist: Part 1 – Your Website
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Use Recommendations (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Make sure your website and marketing is ready for 2015

I recently did a presentation at one of the networking groups I am a member of.  Instead of talking about Your-Web-Guys and all the boring geek stuff we do, I figured it would be better for everyone if I gave some helpful information instead.  After creating and printing a paper version of this information, I thought it might make for a good blog post.

As I wrote the post and added information that I couldn’t add due to the constraints of paper, I realized it aught to be more than one, so here is the first in a three part series

For Your Website

  • Forms
    Check, don’t assume your forms work. Any form you have on your website from the contact form to the login form should be tested to make sure nothing has caused them to stop working. If you use autoresponders, make sure the information is still correct on them as well.
  • Contact Info
    Check all the places on your website where your contact information is.  Not just on your contact us page, but also in the footers or headers.  Searching your site with google is as easy as typing the keyword/phrase you want to find and then adding “site:[domainname.com]”.  So if I were to search my website for a phone number i would enter this into the search form “214-843-0443 site:your-web-guys.com” Here’s a link using that search as an example
  • Products & Services
    This one might be pretty obvious, but… are all of the products and services listed still available? Are the descriptions and prices correct? Have you added new ones that are not listed?
  • Dated Material
    Do you have items on your site about “upcoming” events that happened months ago? If your site has a copyright date, is it current? Keep it up-to-date by having it automatically update.  Remember, don’t delete any pages.  Search engines list web-pages not web-sites, so if you delete a page you will loose any traffic a search engine might be sending it.  Best practices indicate that you should update your dated information rather than deleting it.
  • Images
    How old are the photos, graphics and images on your website? Have you had the same one since you started your business10 years ago? Freshen up your website by adding new images.  Here is a blog post with free image sources I wrote a while ago.
  • Dead Links
    URLs can change, so make sure that all of your links are valid. You don’t want to send your website visitors (or search engine bots) to dead ends.  There are many link checking websites out there that are totally free.  Just google it
  • Favicon
    Make sure your favicon is current and looks good on all devices/browsers. Different browsers can require different favicon files/formats.  Always make sure your favicon is an .ico file – it can even be animated!  There are several free favicon generators out there too… again, just google it
  • Mobile/Tablet View & Cross Browser Compatibility
    Take a look at your website on all the dierent devices on which your customers might view it. These include, big screen TV’s, large and small desktop monitors, large and small tablets, large and small cell phones, and even smart watches. There are also dierent versions of each browser that are still in use. To make it even more confusing there are different browser versions for different operating systems too. Browserstack.com is a great tool for all of the above.
  • Site Backups
    Is your website backed up? Is it backed up as often as you update it? Is it backed up on a different machine/location than your host? Do you have a hardcopy? Make sure your email and other mission critical data are backed up while you are at it too.  It is important that these backups be done automatically in the future if they are not being done now.  Speak with your hosting provider to see what solutions they can provide you.  Even if your backups are being done automatically on a different machine, you should save a hard copy of your website from time to time.  Download the zip file and save it to a cd-rom disc and keep it in a safe place.  That’s your dooms day disc in case everything else fails.

 

What do you think?

Did i leave anything important out regarding your website?  Do you disagree with any of the items above.  I would love to know.  Leave a comment, we may include your opinion in future posts.

Make sure you check back tomorrow for Part 2 – Your Marketing

End of Year Checklist: Part 2 – Your Marketing
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Make sure your website and marketing is ready for 2015

Yes check (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently did a presentation at one of the networking groups I am a member of.  Instead of talking about Your-Web-Guys and all the boring geek stuff we do, I figured it would be better for everyone if I gave some helpful information instead.  After creating and printing a paper version of this information, I thought it might make for a good blog post.

As I wrote the post and added information that i couldn’t add due to the constraints of paper, I realized it aught to be more than one, so here is the second in a three part series. Here is a link, if you missed the first part, End of Year Checklist: Part 1 – Your Website.

For Your Search Engine Optimization

  • SSL Certicate
    If you have an SSL certicate, make sure it is current and that you know/will be informed when it expires. If you don’t, consider getting one.  Google has announced that they will start paying attention to secure sites.  They are not punishing sites that done have SSL certs, but they are rewarding, slightly, websites that do.  That may change in the future as security becomes more and more of an issue
  • Content
    When was the last time you added new information to your website? If it has been more than a month or if you don’t regularly do so, make a resolution for next year. Google will reward your efforts.  Google is looking for new and regularly updated content.  This is the most important part of your SEO efforts so if you spend more time on backlinks or keyword density you dont understand what search engines are looking for.
  • Back Links
    Make sure the websites linking to your site are not in “bad neighborhoods”.  There are lots of free tools online to help you do this.  Just google it and you will find helpful information and tools

For Your Social Media

  • Contact Information
    Check, don’t assume your contact information is correct. This includes your website, social media platforms, map listings, and directory listings.  You will be surprised at how many places on the net have your contact information.  Google is notorious for collecting information from websites and adding it to their maps or google+ programs without anyone knowing.  In fact, when i was writing this article I followed my own advice and did a search for the address of our old office – I had forgotten to update yelp.com of all things!
  • Links/icons on your website
    Click each social media icon/link you have on your website to ensure they are still correct.  It is very easy to change your twitter handle and many times companies will create new facebook and linked in profiles for different reasons.  Even if you haven’t changed anything on your social media outlets, it’s easy to cross this one off the list… just click the links to be sure.
  • Purge Your Fake Followers
    Fake followers are a bad thing… remove them. There are lots of resources out there which will help, just google it.
  • Google Yourself
    It is never a bad idea to google your name and your company’s name every now and then. Your prospective customers do, you should too.  A bad review or other unfortunate content may be effecting your ability to get more business.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Did I leave anything important out regarding your website?  Do you disagree with any of the items above.  I would love to know.  Leave a comment, we may include your opinion in future posts.

Make sure you check back tomorrow for Part 3 – Your Other Stuff