How-To Articles

Tagged in Research

How To Actually Generate Customers On Professional Networks: Part 1

Asked by Julbert Abraham from AGM - LinkedIn Marketing & LinkedIn Training

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If you're wondering if you can get clients from a professional network such as LinkedIn or Alignable (or any... Read Full Answer

Data & Insights

Tagged in Sales & Promotions

10 Actually Actionable Benefits Of List Building

Asked by Juan Manuel Colome from Top Response Marketing

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What is List Building all about?

List building refers to a continuous process of adding new and updated subscribers to your list.... Read Full Answer

Local Business Stories

Tagged in Local

Celebrating Small And Locally-owned Businesses With Bill Brunelle of Independent We Stand

Asked by Alan Belniak from Alignable

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Today's special edition of the Local Business Stories by Alignable podcast highlights... Read Full Answer

Survey - The Impact of "Selling" to Local Businesses

By Dan Slagen · Posted on Wednesday, May 4, 2016 · Tagged in Online Marketing



Alignable recently surveyed thousands of local business owners for a study entitled "Is the Business Owner Here?" The focus of the study was to understand how local businesses are being sold to by vendors and Sales teams, and the effectiveness of current sales methods. In addition, the study analyzed the impact that the inundation of sales activity is having on local business talking to each other...which is where things really get interesting...The study (which was also featured on Fast Company) consisted of 5 questions, including:

Survey questions:

  • How many times a week, on average, are you solicited to buy products and services from others?
  • How often do you respond to unsolicited outreach by a sales person?
  • What's most likely to get you to engage with a sales person?
  • If a fellow local business owner wants to meet you, how do you prefer they initiate a discussion?
  • Does the amount of people soliciting you impact your willingness to reach out and meet other business owners?

About the data:

  • We studied thousands of local businesses (Alignable users)
  • Businesses included in the study are based in North America and employ under 50 people
  • Businesses analyzed include both B2B and B2C, and include multiple industries

Now let's see the data and commentary!

Survey: Is the Business Owner Here?

Question #1 - How many times a week, on average, are you solicited to buy products and services from others?

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Unsurprisingly, 86% of local business owners receive at least one sales call/email per week, that's life, right? What's alarming, however, is that roughly 40% of local business owners are getting bombarded six times or more every single week! Last time we checked, local business owners need to focus on running their business.

Question #2 - How often do you respond to unsolicited outreach by a sales person?

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Wow. Cold calling and emailing really doesn't sit well with local business owners. Think about this, 89% of local business owners respond to unsolicited emails less than 10% of the time.

Question #3 - What's most likely to get you to engage with a sales person?

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Some good news! Local business owners trust…other local business owners. Referrals and word-of-mouth marketing within the local community have always been the leading drivers of new customers, so it's understandable that the same principles would hold true for selling to local businesses.

Question #4 - If a fellow local business owner wants to meet you, how do you prefer they initiate a discussion?

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Turns out that busting through the front door isn't always the best way to meet other local business owners, not even if you're the Kool-Aid Man. If you're looking to connect with other businesses in your area, consider first sending an email, making a quick phone call or being introduced by a mutual connection.

Question #5 - Does the amount of people soliciting you impact your willingness to reach out and meet other business owners?

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This is the most surprising part of the study. 74% of local business owners feel conflicted about reaching out to other business owners because they don't want to be misconstrued as yet another person trying to sell something. Remember when we said that roughly 40% of business owners get contacted more than 6 times per week? Well, it's taking its toll on the community. The truth is, business owners want to meet other business owners, but they're waiting for the opportune moment...still waiting, and waiting.

Well, wait no mor.

Takeaways

For local business owners - If you feel hesitant about reaching out to other business owners, don't worry, you're not alone in feeling that way. The good news is that businesses do want to be connected to each other, work together and collaborate on unique projects - so don't let a toxic sales industry get in the way of producing real value, start by saying hi!

For Sales teams and managers - If you want to work with local businesses, you're going to need the support of other local businesses. Reaching out to businesses that you don't know and hoping for a sale is a recipe for failure. You're selling to an industry with an exceptionally high BS radar, perhaps the best in the business. You need trust, word-of-mouth Marketing and referrals to get in the door.

Most Liked Comment

Gena Trust from Farmers Insurance - Gena Trust
3 Locals Recommend Them • Posted on Thursday, May 5, 2016

This was a great read. I needed to know that I'm not the only one who feels this way. I love to connect with local business owners, but desperately don't want to be considered just another sales person. I'll take some of your suggestions and begin saying hello :-)


Mike Hayes from On Demand Gig Economy MARKETPLACES & Media Marketing Mentoring
44 Locals Recommend Them • Replied on Sunday, May 22, 2016

Hello Gina,

I spent most of my years in business helping entrepreneurs until I retired from owning a successful agency. Since I decided to come back into semi-retirement I find an entirely different mind-set where everyone has become more skeptical of everyone - and are treating each other, as just another annoying sales parson - as evidenced in the Alignable survey. We can no longer take it personally, it is now part of our new sociology.

That's WHY I do what I now do to better help entrepreneurs. I use my own audio "Sizzle Books" when I place a 3-D Graphic... (more)

Most Engaging Comment

Najee Babar from Interloper, Inc.
8 Locals Recommend Them • Posted on Saturday, May 7, 2016

This is where my own hypocrisy gets in the way. I don't want anyone to contact me and take my time. I don't have time. Yet I want to do business with local businesses. I know it has to be a two way street yet I can't overcome my mental blocks. Maybe too many robo calls have made me irritable and suspicious of such solicitations.


YJ Hong from PatronPool
0 Locals Recommend Them • Replied on Monday, May 9, 2016

What if there's an online exchange where you get to "pick and choose" whom you'll start (tentatively) with, or you can understandably stay unresponsive - like many others too?


Gena Trust from Farmers Insurance - Gena Trust
3 Locals Recommend Them • Replied on Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Hi Najee :) I feel that this hypocrisy is not unique to you. We are all extremely busy drumming up and retaining business of our own. And, any unsolicited interruption in the day can feel like a bowling ball thrown into the juggling act of your already hectic day. However, there are valuable services out there that we might not know to take advantage of or even consider, if not brought to our attention by someone outside of our sphere. What would need to occur for that person to secure five minutes of your time for a brief introduction?


Mike Hayes from On Demand Gig Economy MARKETPLACES & Media Marketing Mentoring
44 Locals Recommend Them • Replied on Sunday, May 22, 2016

Hi Najee:

The Big Media Shift of the last 24 months is largely responsible for the overwhelm most of are feeling, but as a long time media insider I've also found that the solutions that small business owners are seeking can also be found inside the Big Media Shift.

The Alignable survey results (below) are WHY I do what I now do to better help entrepreneurs. I use my own audio "Sizzle Books" when I place a 3-D Graphic right in my email signature, or on my web site, or on Alignable which shows I am a published book author and an expert on my topic. I produce low... (more)


Barry Dennis from COMPUTER HELPERS
2 Locals Recommend Them • Replied on Sunday, July 31, 2016

I'm up to 3/4 robocalls a day on my business mobile. 99%+ I have no need for, and immediately hang up without waiting foe the "message.".

Barry Dennis from COMPUTER HELPERS
2 Locals Recommend Them • Posted on Sunday, July 31, 2016

Alignable *and Manta, (and others) are trying to replace the social interaction HUMAN-TO-HUMAN NETWORKING SPACE WITH DIGITAL NETWORKING. IT HASN'T GOTTEN REAL TRACTION SO FAR, THOUGH THERE IS A POTENTIAL. I JUST DON'T THINK ANY OF THE MAJOR PLAYERS LIKE LINKEDIN, TWITTER, FACEBOOK AND OTHERS HAVE GOTTEN A REAL GRIP ON WHAT THE " MISSION" IS YET. The percentage return is so minimal that automation may be required; so irritating that a lack of success is virtually assured as the number grow of vendors and channels.

Mike Hayes from On Demand Gig Economy MARKETPLACES & Media Marketing Mentoring
44 Locals Recommend Them • Posted on Sunday, May 22, 2016

This Alignable survey is WHY I do what I do to help entrepreneurs. I use my own audio "Sizzle Books" when I place a 3-D Graphic right in my email signature, or on my web site, or on Alignable which shows I am a published book author and an expert on my topic. I produce low cost audio books to promote small businesses the same way that Hollywood uses Movie Trailers to Promote Hollywood Movies. For $197 Total, complete with audio book cover graphic I produce it in one week for you and teach how to use it to promote ANY small business with show business pinache!... (more)

Lara Rahmani from Splendid Grass Lawn Service
0 Locals Recommend Them • Posted on Friday, May 13, 2016

This was great insight. Word of the mouth is how we acquire most of our customers. I would love to talk to other local businesses about growing my brand, too. Maybe someone could look at my website and give me advice on how to make it better. http://alexandriavalawncare.com/. I would be very thankful for any tips as I am new to this community (alignable). Thank you friends!


YJ Hong from PatronPool
0 Locals Recommend Them • Replied on Saturday, May 14, 2016

Hi Lara,

Few "not workings" noticed with a quick round on your web site:

1. Request Service 2, Read more... 3, Email me!

You need to fix these quick. A broken site gives a negative first impression.

Additional suggestion: you many want to showcase photos of some projects that you've accomplished, along with installation considerations and pricing factors, etc. So that serious shoppers get good ideas easily and, if they like it, do take action - call you up right after, based on what they see on your site.


Gene Maryushenko from Lead Canopy
1 Local Recommends Them • Replied on Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Lara, since you asked, here are some bits and pieces of advice for your website:

1. Start asking for customer reviews if you aren't already. I'm assuming Yelp is one of the places people check for services like lawn mowing. Start asking for reviews on Yelp AND Google. You already have a Google Business page (great!) Now direct some people to both of those profiles. One way to ask for reviews is just by asking, but you can also create a /reviews page on your website and list your Google and Yelp profiles on there (link to them)

2. Break out each service into... (more)


Gene Maryushenko from Lead Canopy
1 Local Recommends Them • Replied on Wednesday, May 18, 2016

@Alignable, can we fix the space formatting in replies :) My reply looks like a giant block of text even though I spaced it out.

Anna Vyater from The Vyater Group
4 Locals Recommend Them • Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2016

Thank you for sharing, this was a great read. As a marketing agency our entire business was built on word of mouth and as we continue growing and hire more designers, developers, and marketers we are now facing the challenge of going after new prospects. Everything is done in house and everyone works full time so we need to continue our flow of projects and continue to grow. Since a lot of businesses responded, how do you suggest someone with a great product or service reach out to you? I agree cold calling or people that hard pitch you by coming to you is... (more)

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Posted By

Dan Slagen from Alignable
Boston, MA