Bill Bice on Attracting More Customers | No Limits Selling - NLP Sales Training - Baltimore

Bill Bice on Attracting More Customers

Bill Bice has always been an entrepreneur, starting his first company at age 14, putting on road races with corporate sponsors. At 18, he started ProLaw Software, the first integrated ERP for law firms. After selling the company to Thomson Reuters, Bill became a VC as a founding partner in the Verge Fund, investing in high tech, high growth companies in the Southwest.

One of the core things that Bill has learned in building and investing in companies is that go-to-market is always the hardest part of growing a business. He got so frustrated in trying to get great marketing for his companies that he decided to tackle the problem. A programmer at heart, Bill founded boomtime, tackling marketing as a technology problem. It turns out that when you follow the data, really good things happen. That’s why boomtime built the world’s first marketing-as-a-service platform: fuse. boomtime’s marketing strategists follow the data: they already know what will work. Instead of reinventing the wheel, boomtime applies proven marketing techniques at scale.

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[Podcast Transcript]

Umar Hameed
Hello everyone today I have the pleasure of having bill vice, the CEO of Boomtown and zebra works with me today. Bill welcome to the program.

Bill Bice
Umar great to be with you.

Umar Hameed
We live in interesting times, you know sales has always been a challenging thing to do, but now with the world being shut down is more important than ever. Are you seeing any change in the climate right now in terms of how customers are thinking reacting,

Bill Bice
it’s been incredible because I mean the way I look at it is whatever trends you’ve been following in in your industry the industries of your of your clients. It’s just been all accelerated right whatever wherever you were expected to be 10 years from today you’re there now we’re all, we’re all living in terms of the impact on our business, 10 years and the timeframe of one year. And if you look at it that way there’s no there’s actually incredible opportunities that come out of it.

Umar Hameed
Give me an example for your company what’s an opportunity that’s come up for you guys,

Bill Bice
well you have so you know we specialize in, in high end b2b marketing, and b2b is a space that is traditionally really Reliant particularly on on high value sales going face to face so you’re going to, to conferences to trade shows to advance to networking events. Well, all of a sudden that is just all disappear. And so, you know, frankly, this has been great for our business because you have to move to our approach to marketing now, since that’s been since that’s been taken off the table. And I don’t think so. I mean we’re all going to, there’s going to be this pent up demand we’re all we all want to get back out into the world, but it’s never going to come back to the same way at loves because we’re all learning how to do business with less travel less expense, and a lot of ways, it’s, it’s much more efficient in so let’s just take the obvious example of LinkedIn as your replacement for those networking events. And that’s exactly how I look at LinkedIn it’s is the ideal networking event I get to meet, only the people I want to I get to do it in the, in the right context I don’t have to eat horrible food while I’m there is vastly more scalable and efficient. And so if I’ve got a niche product, and they know who my audience is and I’ve got a good definition of who I want to get to all of a sudden I can connect with every single one of the ideal prospects for my company. And then, and then talk to them, you know forever after

Umar Hameed
where I’d like to start this conversation is many of the clients you’re working with I suspect have been around for a while and are profitable and making money and all that stuff, true statement is absolutely. And then they come to you and you get them, get them see the world in a different way and oftentimes you help them get more strategic with their marketing. What do you think the disconnect is with companies when they don’t quite get it and you guys help them. So let’s take a look at that first and we’ll go into the platform and figure out you know how we can all do better.

Bill Bice
Here’s what often happens you have a company that has really done all the hard work right they take care of their their clients they have referrals coming back in but, you know, things have started to plateau, and maybe don’t really even understand why that is. That’s the kind of business that I love to work with, because they’re they’re already doing the most important part they’re taking care of their clients, they have referrals, they just want more of them in the beautiful thing about us all being connected, is that we can take this really core thing that that has always worked it’s really, it’s the best form of marketing word of mouth. And now we can really amplify it, because we’re in this digitally connected world. And if you’ve had a traditional sales approach that’s driven by, you know, connections and salespeople out, you know just wandering wandering about around the planet, making that jump to how you can take that same approach, but do it online in the digital world. That’s a really important transformation to get through. And it’s, you know, it can be a pretty dramatic change in the trajectory of your business if you do,

Umar Hameed
you’ve got some case studies online. When you walk through one of those customers that came in what they were doing, and then walk us through what you did to help them be more effective.

Bill Bice
Yeah that is really that there’s a there’s a commonality in all of those, case studies, so what what we’re really doing is the, it’s the same thing over and over again which is taking essentially techniques out of the out of the challenger sale, which is taking a very consultative approach to sales in using insight and perspective driven content to create sales opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t. And so the best way to do that is talk to all the clients today and past clients, every prospect you’ve ever had. If you stay in front of them over and over again. And then you move from a model of instead of selling yourself. And it just starts sharing expertise that’s beneficial to them. It’s amazing how effective that is in generating more referrals. So it’s just moving from, from a sales model to an educational and in consulting model, you know in consultants get 10 times more referrals than than salespeople do. So if we move your sales team to taking that approach, it’s really, it’s really amazing how that can change the kind of relationship in the success that that your team has. And we’re in a, we’re in an age now where because there’s so much information available online. The, where your prospects are at when you get to them. You know, it’s great if you’re the leader in your market and you just want to be an order taker and you can be in that position, but we work with smaller companies that just don’t have that benefit. So you’ve got to be part of that process. And this is really the only way to effectively do it. And what you’re doing is creating new sales opportunities by changing someone’s perspective about something important in your business. So you’ll see that sort of in every case study we have a really leveraging what that business has deep expertise is they tend to be niche businesses where you know you’re working with hundreds or thousands of companies that are very similar. And because of that, when you’re sitting down with the CEO of that company. There’s a tremendous amount of perspective you can bring to them because you see it across their whole industry where they’re, you know they’re the CEO, but they’re stuck in their one company and and sitting there running that business. And so that’s the approach that we’ve just found to be amazingly successful in this kind of high value b2b space.

Umar Hameed
one of the areas that you help people figure out is their website because oftentimes companies have pretty websites, what are some of the things that you make sure it’s done properly so the website actually converts visitors to customers.

Bill Bice
Yes, that’s one of the areas that really drives me nuts because websites are almost always designed backwards it’s let’s create something that’s really beautiful and then figure out how to put our message into that. And of course, it really needs to be the reverse let’s figure out what we want to communicate with and come up with the best design to do that. And particularly importantly in that design is, is controlling the customer journey, because you’re going to be telling your story over time. It’s a great specific example of this you know that the second most visited page on your website in the space that we’re talking about. It’s always the About Us page. So homepage is number one. The first thing that a prospective client wants to know is who’s running the company so they’re searching to find about us. So if you go pick some random company you’re working with today. One they’re likely going to make it difficult to figure that out, even though that’s the number one thing somebody wants to know, and then to when you do find the About Us page and you scroll to the bottom of it so first of all it’s going to be filled with with boring buyers that don’t really do a good job of tying it together. And then you get to the bottom of the page and there’s just nothing there, like you’re leaving the prospect to go figure out okay what what is it I want to know. Next, we want to do is control that customer journey and tell that story let’s take it to the next natural step in the process of really explaining why you’re great at what you do. So if you just do that if you just really look at the customer journey across your website, and then get really focused on the number one thing you want which is to capture the email address of that prospective client. So we get the opportunity to now talk to them over and over again and keep writing in the back. Just doing that has a dramatic impact on what what your version is,

Umar Hameed
I’m just looking at my about page as we’re talking, somebody advised me to do this crazy thing which was don’t do the typical kind of about us, just tell your story Umar so it’s actually a lengthy journey from you know where I was born to where I am now and I went kind of deep in it. And I’m kind of surprised how many people talk to me afterwards and says, I read the about page, they actually read the whole thing, it was it was an interesting conversational read intuitively I would have said that but doesn’t make any sense but reality is quite different.

Bill Bice
Well it is and I love what you’re doing there because it’s the advantage that a small business has so so often we see small businesses that try to do the reverse they want to look big, and so they don’t have that person. They don’t talk about the management team, their passion for what they’re doing why you do it. And yes, it is the advantage you have twice and what he’s going to choose you over that much larger competitor, because they actually know who’s behind the company and nobody’s responsible for delivering the product or service to them, and they buy into why you’re doing it, and I’m a huge fan of that, you know, the standard Simon Sinek why approach because that’s, that’s really how you set yourself apart, versus

Umar Hameed
if you come across a company, something like you know world domination incorporated you know is some guy in his underwear in his mother’s basement. And if a corporation called ABC Corp. You know, they probably rule the

Bill Bice
world. Exactly. It just doesn’t work to pretend that you’re bigger you want to you want to be professional. But the advantage you have is putting a face on the business and being who you really are

Umar Hameed
the websites, the first place to fix to get clean messaging, you know, that’s focused on the customer, if you’ve got this problem you’ve come to the right place kind of messaging so you’ve got a good website built. One of the other areas to focus on is LinkedIn and often times, everybody in the uncle has LinkedIn, but they don’t use it effectively is a powerful tool. What do we need to know to get more value out of LinkedIn, yeah whatever

Bill Bice
you’re doing on on LinkedIn today you put 10 times more effort into it. And the key to it is to is to take that networking event analogy all the way through. so there’s so many people on on LinkedIn that would be like you met them at a cocktail party and they immediately pulled out their PowerPoint and went into a pitch. And it doesn’t work in the cocktail party and it doesn’t work in. In, there was a time when it worked, and so I understand why that strategy out there but it’s, it is dead and gone, you really need to come in with the same goal that you have in any networking event which is to build your network bring value to that network. If you do that, and you’re reaching out to the right people for the right reason. Then you have the ability to build exactly the right network. And what we’ve found amazing amazingly effective is to do that. And then every time somebody accepts a connection request for you so our first goal is, let’s get let’s get a really high acceptance rate. So if you’re just randomly sending out connection requests, you’re going to get about 15 90% acceptance rate. But if you optimize your profile. And if you make sure you have a lot of connections in common with the ideal targets of who you want to get to, which means sometimes you need to build up and around your ideal customer before you actually reach out to connect

Umar Hameed
with them.

Bill Bice
Because the biggest factors in whether somebody is going to connect with you the number one is how many connections you already have in common. A lot of connections in common. A lot of people just accept the connection request based and then the second thing is what’s your headline, which, you know, shouldn’t be just the boring what your position as a company x, it needs to show through what you’re passionate about what you’re great. So people know why they want to be connected with you. And so if you do a good job of optimizing your profile and having personal messages. When you’re reaching out to somebody, then you can get a 45 to 50% acceptance rate on it on a regular basis. And then if you follow that up with a message, it’s a we’ll often do it. 24 hours after somebody accepts the message because a lot of you know a lot of people use LinkedIn at the same time every day. And then following that up with a really great piece of content that has performed well. That is what we call a reframing article so another concept of the challenger sale, where you take something specific that you know about. In, you know in your clients business. There’s nothing salesy about it, it’s just providing perspective in a different way to think about an important issue in their business. That’s a great way to introduce who you are to them. And it’s really effective to strike up conversations and build relationships which can turn into sales opportunities. So it’s just the best way to prospect and build and build your network.

Umar Hameed
How much time he would you recommend, let’s say a small business, you know, 1012 people, the person dedicated to LinkedIn How much time do you think they should be spending a day on LinkedIn,

Bill Bice
reach each profile that you’re running a campaign for, and you really need to optimize the associate if you’re going after two or three different markets, really tough to do that with one profile to do one market at a time for you take, you know, the three most senior people in the company and and optimize the profile for each market you want to go and after. And if you’re doing this yourself internally, you’re going to need an hour a day for each campaign, every day. And we have a goal to send out 40 to 50 connection requests a day. You have to be using Sales Navigator in order to do this effectively. And then the real key is that once you’ve built up that network. And it really starts to take off when you get the receive when you get about 3000 connections, you start to get some, some organic growth that just comes out of having that larger net right. But then the key is you’ve got to constantly create activity and and be communicating with that network. And that’s where the content piece just becomes crucial. So you need a regular series of posts that take the same thing as every frame or articles just inside perspective driven content that helps your audience. There’s nothing salesy about it. It’s sharing your expertise and showing how good your art would be

Umar Hameed
when you do an article on LinkedIn would you do the entire article on LinkedIn or would you do like a teaser on LinkedIn with a link to a blog post on your website.

Bill Bice
Well, that’s one of the things that’s really strange about LinkedIn algorithm because you would think that they would put emphasis on pulse articles which are, you know, when you put a blog article on LinkedIn, but they don’t, it’s actually gonna be the post it gets automatically generated out of you making full circle is going to be the worst performing posts you can do. So I recommend doing both put the content on LinkedIn, because it was good. When somebody finds your profile and it shows up in the profile of articles that you’ve written. But what’s going to perform better is to then take that article also put it on your website and call it a blog or industry news or insights, or something anybody anybody reads blogs anymore. And, and then when you make that post. Don’t link directly to the article, it’s, it’s just by changing how you do your posts you can get four to six times more organic engagement. This part does make sense about Lincoln’s algorithm. When your post is the way that LinkedIn makes it easiest to do which is to make an external link that immediately devalues how much organic reach in just by taking that same link and adding it to the first comment, you will get four, four times more organic opportunity for people, so we can come up with articles, so four times more opportunity for it to take off and get more exposure. It really our goal there is what we, what we call everyday viral like we’re not trying to get something out of the park every once a while we want a regular flow of content that gets a nice level of exposure to this very specific audience that we care about, we’ve been speaking a lot

Umar Hameed
about content, people tend to feel very protective about their expertise like you know this is my expertise somehow it’s magical and wonderful. And I don’t want to give everything away. What we need to do is share our best stuff in the most powerful compelling way. And I think that generates a lot more business than being stingy about it.

Bill Bice
Actually, it is magical and special which is why it’s your best sales tool it’s why you have to give it away. And so whatever you think is the most valuable advice you have that’s what should be the cornerstone of your content strategy and that’s that’s what you’ve got to give away for free. It’s the best marketing you can do your clients still aren’t going to want to do it you can tell them everything about how to do it, they’re still not gonna want to do it, but now they’re going to know you really are the expert and they’re going to come to you to actually get it done.

Umar Hameed
So, Bill, what are your thoughts about certainly you can write an article that is very formal and very proper. And you can also write an article that is very conversational, and casual still good content, but just the way it’s delivered is more if you and I was sitting at a coffee shop and we’re having a conversation. Any thoughts on which one performs better.

Bill Bice
I think getting the voice right for your business in the, in the management team with the business right, it’s much more effective to do this with the management team I prefer to connect to the CEO and the president. And in so you run it through the management team, and you create sales opportunities that you hand off to, to the sales team. So getting getting that voice right is crucial. In general, the more conversational approach is what we see, the more effective. The key is, is to always be testing. Even with the hundreds of businesses that we do this for and all the data that we have to leverage, which, which gives us such a great starting point. I’m still surprised at the things that we learn because we’re constantly testing it’s it’s really the only way to figure it out. And so, if you’re a law firm, it may be maybe that you need to be a little bit less conversational, and, and a lot more, you know, professionalism, through. But for, for most businesses, the more conversational approach is more open, and it’s going to get more engagement. And that’s what we’re after. reason we’re doing all that testing is to figure out what gets us the engagement. And if we follow that through and see how people are using the website once we get them to the website, understand how that customer journey is working and engagement is going to turn into the sales,

Umar Hameed
brilliant because I think at the end of the day it’s if you can connect human to human or humanize your organization. People want to do business with humans and not so much entities. Yeah,

Bill Bice
absolutely. And I think that’s that’s the advantage we have, as, as small businesses and. and so video is a great example of that. One of the great ways to get more leverage. And this is a this is a tough thing to get to get the management team to do, but we don’t need high production value in fact it works better without it. So you sitting in your desk with your iPhone, talking with 60 seconds, about the same thing that you didn’t have an article going out about. It’s just a great way to get more leverage, out of, out of that same content.

Umar Hameed
Definitely bill if you were advising, a brand new company that’s starting out to get all of this stuff right. What advice would you what are the top three things you would get them to do.

Bill Bice
So the, you know, the biggest mistakes that I see over and over again so what one is talking about yourself, which just doesn’t work. The only thing that matters is what your audience cares about. The biggest problem in, it really every business and that is particularly true startup is consistency. It’s the hardest thing about marketing. Most companies marketing is really just a series of random acts of work right. And that’s why marketing is so tough. It’s why we all have this experience of spending money on marketing and not getting results. Because the only way you get an ROI is to pick a strategy and stick with it long term. And so I just see this over and over again where, you know, the first six months are laying a foundation, and often you get lucky and have some nice results but it’s it’s really a year in where you really start to see the value of what you’ve created. And that’s a tough thing to do, if, if everything you’ve ever tried before for marketing was the sort of one off thing that didn’t work that way. And so the biggest problem is to start with as you do these things, it starts to work. And because you’re all doing it here, yourself internally. The does work to get business, and therefore the marketing gets ignored for a while and then things slowed down again and you just end up in the cycle that never accounted. So, the key thing you have to do is, is choose to put the long term emphasis in priority on marketing, so that you really get the success that you deserve out of all of your billing

Umar Hameed
brilliant, Bill, thank you so much for being on the podcast I really appreciate, I learned a lot. I’m going to put all your contact information in the show notes, thank you so much for being on the program,

Bill Bice
appreciate it. Thanks.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

About the Author Umar Hameed

I am a performance coach who uses Applied Neuroscience to help individuals and teams break through their barriers so they become awesomer! Take a look at my Motivational Speaker Kit

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