There was a time whenever I heard the title sales and marketing, I would cringe a little. However, doing channel sales now, a little dash of marketing can do wonders to your sales funnel.

If the end is closing the deal, then the starting point of the sales journey is get a lead. In a traditional setting, that lead generation portion is often left to the marketing team. In today's Internet social media world, the salesperson with that dash of marketing will outsell those who draw the line between sales and marketing.

The American Marketing Association most recently defined marketing as "the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. Isn't the salesperson the best to do tall these?

Today the medium and distribution channel are almost free. You could easily start a blog in seconds, with Blogger, Wordpress or event start a new post on Linkedin. If you want to do a video, you can easily host it on Youtube, without the need to worry about the technicalities of hosting a video.

For the distribution channel, there is email and all you need to do is send an email to your contacts with the link to the content. Or you could add them in Linkedin as contacts and share your post on this social network.

When you meet a lead for the first time, you could easily share with the lead with you have a blog or a post that address his/her concern or maybe insights into the industry.

Such activities may help to build the relationship with the lead and beats being just a salesperson emailing a sales brochure.

A Phone Call A Day To Get That Sale

I been listening to several sales podcasts recently and one of the common tips that they give is that you should make the phone call daily to touch base with your sales prospects.

I have the additional task of building the company's partner base and calling partners on a regular basis is also part of parcel of getting them to help bring me more customers.

Today, a phone call help closed a deal.

Sounds easy yet behind the phone call was some hard work and creative thinking to get the deal.

This deal was considered as one that is handed to me on a plate as it was a maintenance deal to be renewed. For maintenance deals, the customer have already been using the company's solution for at least a year so there isn't the challenge of having to do the whole introduction spill again.

Getting the appointment to close the deal was, on the other hand, the toughest part. This was because the customer was quite busy and had a tight schedule for a meeting. There were times when I called and the customer was too busy to pick up.

So the traditional method of closing the deal was
Step 1 - Get the appointment
Step 2 - During the appointment, discuss the details of the deal
Step 3 - Return to office and submit the quote
Step 4 - Wait for customer's approval.

Here's where the creativity kicked in.

Step 1 and Step 2 were currently the blockers that prevented me from moving forward with the maintenance deal. As such, I decided to try skipping Step 1 and 2 and go direct to Step 3.

The customer did mention he wanted some add-ons but didn't give any details. So I made an estimation on the add-ons, created the quote and emailed the customer before the weekend. I sweetened the deal to include an upgrade to a hardware as the current hardware would be phased out due to some government requirement in April 2017.

Maybe it helped that the quote was send on a Friday and probably the customer had the time to read it over the weekend.

This morning, though, I listened to a podcast from and one of the motivators was to "Go to work and make that phone call". Motivated I was, and I did the phone call to the customer.

I was rather surprise that the customer answered, but i had to keep my cool and treat the call as per normal.

As it turned out, the customer did read the quote and was ready to extend the maintenance. There was a question on the need for the change of the hardware but I was fully prepared for that.

The lesson of the day - Do something different and make that phone call.

In my first sales job, I had a sales leader whom many described as having the capability to sell ice to Eskimos.  I left that job because I found that what I was selling was not of any benefit to the potential customers especially if their jurisdiction was just Singapore. Now, I am in my second sales job and I am find myself better selling a refrigerator to Eskimos as opposed to just selling them ice.

Selling refrigerators to Eskimos is almost akin to selling them a solution as opposed to selling ice - a product. 

Refrigerators would be a good solution to Eskimos because given the current climate changes, you need to preserve and store food at a regulated temperature instead of depending on the unpredictable moods swings of Mother Nature.

With a refrigerator, Eskimos get to keep some of their perishables frozen or if they choose, just at a cooler temperature but somehow higher than the freezing point.
The refrigerator will allow Eskimos to drink chilled water rather than frozen water, if the need to stay chill crops up.

There are also opportunities to upsell with a refrigerator. Maybe isolated igloos would need to have power generators and these allow for bundling opportunities. Power generators also need fuel on a regular basis and this could mean constant revenue. 

In my current job, I get excited selling a solution as opposed to a product. I want to ensure that my customer gets the most out of what they bought and the fact that it is helping them with their daily operations. 

This solution I am selling is very similar to a refrigerator.  More than often, the customer, when they don't have it, will tell me they don't need. But after they used it, it struck them why didn't they get it earlier. 

I also like to challenge my customer to let me help them with their IT processes. Automation helps to improve productivity and given today's manpower crunch, if automation can help reduce five minutes of work, it is money well spent. 

Challenge me to sell you a refrigerator the next time we meet.

As we come to the end of 2015, I thought it would be best to end it with my quotes in The Straits Times.

Signing up for safer SingPass simplified; more streamlining expected, 22 December 2015 - Some SingPass users were pleasantly surprised by the change. Marketing manager Aaron Koh, 39, said: "The first step is so much faster now, involving fewer clicks."

Streaming service with new set-top box may shake up Singapore TV market, 29 August 2015 - Marketing manager Aaron Koh, 39, said VPN services are already available on the Web for as little as US$50 (S$70) a year and can be used on any broadband connection.

Consumers turning to telcos for phablets, 30 July 2015 Marketing manager Aaron Koh, 39, whose two-year mobile contract ends next May, said: "I'm holding out for the year-end launch of the new version of the iPhone 6, which will be more stable and offer better features."

1,000 free SIM cards for MyRepublic's mobile trial, 27 April 2015 - Marketing manager Aaron Koh, 39, wants to see the comeback of flat-fee generous data plans, no longer on sale here since September 2012. "Today, I'm already using more than 10GB of mobile data a month," said the avid app user, whose phone bills run to more than $100 a month.

I didn't do one for for 2014. Here's a catch-up..

Public Wi-Fi users, beware of Poodle, 18 October 2014 - Meanwhile, marketing manager Aaron Koh, 38, said he is not too worried. "I seldom use public Wi-Fi for online banking. Only to check my e-mail."

Debate over how one-time passwords are sent out, 21 July 2014 - Marketing manager Aaron Koh, 38, said: "Security does not have to mean inconvenience to the user." He suggested using newer 2FA technologies like the Google authenticator, a smartphone app that generates OTPs.

Consumers 'confused' over data protection, 2 July 2014 - Marketing manager Aaron Koh is unsure of his rights. "I thought companies have to ask for my permission to use my information for marketing?" said the 38-year-old, who had received notices from telcos and banks stating their new policies.

Heartbleed bug: To change or not to change your computer password, 12 April 2014 - Its failure to inform Gmail account holders infuriates users like Mr Aaron Koh, 37, who said he does not track vendors' blog posts.

"The very least Google could have done is to update users via an e-mail," said the marketing manager.

Home broadband now cheaper than ever, 17 Jan 2014 - Marketing manager Aaron Koh, who said he participates in a lot of conference calls from home, said he wished the new plan was announced before he renewed his broadband contract last week. "Fifty bucks for 1Gbps is very affordable," he said.

Anybody needs a spokesperson for 2016?

MOS Teo said he didn't post the following quote on Facebook-
"I learnt that some workers prefer to sleep without a mattress as they are used to it back in their home country".
The above quote that appeared with the photo in the Ministry of Manpower Facebook Page came under heavy criticism for being insensitive to the plight of migrant workers in Singapore.

It created that much furore to have the story appear on BBC website.

The Ministry of Manpower has issued a statement that the post and the caption was put up by an unnamed Facebook admin.

The question of many, especially the government ministry, must be asking how to approve a post before it goes "live" on the Page.

Unfortunately, Facebook doesn't allow this function for any of the roles assigned for the Facebook Page.

You could put a post on draft and get the other key stakeholders to sign off in the comments, but once you publish the draft post, the comments can be seen. With this method, the Facebook admin or editor could be prone to further gaffes when they forget to put the post on draft first and every Likes get to see the comments not meant for public consumption.

As each stakeholder is an admin or editor, you probably won't know who approved what.

Another popular method is to email the draft post, but that doesn't have the Facebook feel to it. In a government agency, waiting for an email approval might take tons of back and forth replies and the post becomes yesteryear's news.

So what can you do to get stakeholders to sign off or approve a Facebook post before it goes "live"?

All the state secrets in a Secret Group

The trick I have learnt is that you create a Secret Group and add all the stakeholders as members.

If you are the Facebook Admin or Editor, you can post the photo with captions or post into this Secret Group and get the Group Members to sign off or approval. Once the post is approve, replicate it in the Page for public consumption.

The good thing about a group is that you can see the real names behind the sign off or approval.

Since the group is Secret, any comments are confined to the group. Of course, if somebody choose to screenshot the Secret communication, he/she should be threaten for violating the Official Secret Acts.

Another advantage of creating the Facebook Group is it gives the look and feel of a Facebook Page but only visible by members. The Facebook Group app is also available in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store and stakeholders can be notified when post is up and requires approval before posting on the page.

This simple trick could probably save Singapore ministers from future social media gaffes.

So, you're welcome!

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