Now it’s personal.

The relationship between a brand and a customer is no longer only professional or transactional; it has become personal.

Every person representing the brand must know the customers, their likes, dislikes, and pain points, inside out.

It goes beyond a sales rep hiding behind the curtain and observing their buying patterns. It demands a detailed understanding of why customers make those choices.

For instance, 72% of consumers expect companies to understand how their needs and objectives change during times of disruption.

A customer profile makes it easy to document all observations plus insights from your experiences and customer data to create a repeatable and scalable business strategy

Let’s look at what a customer profile is, how to build one, and tools that can help in the process.

In this article:

✔️ What is a customer profile?
✔️ The importance of creating customer profile
✔️ Benefits
✔️ What’s the difference between a customer profile and an ideal customer profile
✔️ 7 Ways to create your first customer profile
✔️ Foreseen Challenges
✔️ Customer profile checklist
✔️ Ready-to-use customer profile template

What is a customer profile? 

The customer profile or buyer persona is a document containing information about individual customers. It consists of age, gender, location, spending habits, and other details, helpful for determining the needs and preferences of target audiences. This information helps you perfect your sales pitch and marketing messages while being relevant to the buyers.

Customer profile data that is up-to-date and reliable is critical for business. It generally comprises of the following information:

  • Demographic details such as age, marital status, gender, and so on.
  • Geographical information includes nationality, race, state, city, and residence. 
  • Psychographics consists of habits, values, lifestyle, and interests.
  • Socio-economic status, which classifies them into various categories of salary, education, and job. 

If you’re wondering why it is necessary to create customer profiles, I’d like you to imagine the following scene.

The importance of creating customer profile

Say you’ve invited your partner’s friends to dinner at your home for the first time. You have no clue who eats what and, your partner blithely tells you her friends aren’t picky. You follow their words, and lo and behold, someone has a nut allergy, someone’s vegan, and someone is on a strict diet. 

And your menu is none of those things. Oops. 

We don’t want to make such mistakes when selling to consumers. We’d rather know what our consumers have in mind than blindly selling. 

Customer profiling helps here.

  • Demographic details give you insights into what product will and won’t work. For example, you can only sell a stroller to parents with infants. 
  • If you have geographical details, you’ll also know the weather and climate conditions. That is, if you sell umbrellas, people living in high rainfall areas will be more likely to buy them. 

  • It helps you hyper-personalize the product, making it one of a kind to the customer. 

  • You can price products according to the customer’s economic status. For instance, you can’t market expensive meals to broke college students when they can’t afford them.

Now let’s see the benefits of customer profile information. 

Benefits of creating customer profiles

As we see, customer profiling helps you streamline your sales and marketing efforts. Instead of shooting in the dark, you’ll be approaching potential buyers wisely.

benefits of targeted marketing statistics

You can also use the customer profile information to:

  1. Devise scalable strategies. Prioritize campaigns for those who fit your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).
  2. Create highly targeted marketing campaigns.
  3. Personalize your messaging.
  4. Explore the untapped market potential.
  5. Identify upselling and cross-selling opportunities
  6. Update and customize your offering as per market demands.

In short, customer profiling opens a lot of doors to explore customers, their needs, and more. 

However, a  lot of people confuse customer profile and ICP. Are they the same thing? 

No. 

Here’s why:

What’s the difference between a customer profile and an ideal customer profile (ICP)?

Customer profileICP
GoalIdentify buyers who might need your product/serviceIdentify who would benefit the most from your product or service.
Data involved Market research, surveys, historical data from CRM to identify demographic, geographical, and firmographic details.Analyze data from CRM, ERP, and other systems (e.g., predictive analytics) to identify firmographic, environmental and behavioral attributes.
Target audienceTotal addressable marketFocuses on the most valuable customers and prospects that are also most likely to buy.
Expected outcomeMore salesFaster sales cycles, higher conversion rates, greater average customer lifetime value
UsabilityMarketing, sales prospecting, UI/UX developmentAccount-based sales and marketing

Now let’s look at the steps to create and use customer profile information.

7 Ways to create your first customer profile

1. Assess your target customers

To explain this concept, let me give you an example.

Not more than a decade ago, Canon was struggling to sell their low-range DC cameras.

“Consumers’ preferences and behaviors have shifted. They now prefer smartphones for capturing snapshots at the expense of digital cameras,” says Maggie Wong, director and general manager, Canon Hong Kong.

However, there was a window of opportunity.

Parents were reluctant to buy cell phones for their children as they didn’t want their children texting, talking, or using apps. 

This psychographic information about buyers helped Canon realize the potential to sell digital cameras to kids.

They created a marketing strategy that tapped into children’s passion for photography. And within a year, they had a 40% share in the low-range digital camera industry.

So, follow these steps to assess your target customers.

  1. First, identify the people who have a practical use for your product. What does your product offer for its users? Who can overcome an issue using your product?
  2. Once you discover who benefits from your product, identify your regular customer’s lifestyle, demography, geography, and socioeconomic status. 
  3. The final step is to discern what context your customers inhabit. Do they use your product to aid their business? Or does your product cater to fulfilling personal needs?

Remember that creating a customer profile is a collaborative process. That is, sales, marketing, customer support, and other teams must discuss their perception of customers. Also, when in doubt, don’t just assume. It’s better to over-communicate.

You can use tools like Mural or Airtable to collaborate effectively.

2. Track and map your customer journey

The next step is to track and map the lead-to-customer journey.

A customer journey map depicts a customer’s interactions with your company. These representations show how a client progresses through your sales funnel. Include all possible touchpoints in your customer journey map. 

The idea is to get a sense of the behavioral pattern of your target customers. For instance, buying habits – do they decide instantly, or do they research thoroughly before buying. It will help you craft your sales enablement strategy.

Lead management or CRM tools are helpful to track the customer journey. They record all the interactions a client has with your brand and present them in an easy-to-understand fashion. Some of the tools that can help here are LeadSquaredZoho, and Salesforce.

See lead activity updates in CRM

In case you’re thinking that tracking customer data is impossible, you’re possibly wrong.

87% of Americans are ready to have their activity tracked if: 

  • They can get better rewards in exchange for sharing information and
  • Companies can personalize products to suit their preferences.

3. Choose criteria to qualify and score leads based on their profile.

70% of marketers say that improving lead quality is the foremost goal of their lead generation strategy.

You can use the customer profile information to improve leads quality.

Let’s take an example.

You own an e-commerce site where you sell various types of puzzles and board games. 

Your ICP consists of an English-speaking, high-income family. Most of their traits relate to interest levels in games that cater to large groups of people.

So, you can filter your leads based on those specific traits. If you can only ship to specific regions, create a filter for that as well.

Also, whenever a lead fulfills a criterion, say they are English speakers, you can increase the score and prioritize them. The goal is to find people who are most likely to buy and to whom you can serve first.

You can use tools to automate the lead qualification process. Many CRM software tools (such as LeadSquared) provide lead qualification facilities.

lead scoring and qualification criteria

Thus, in this manner, you can use your customer profile to build a highly functional sales pipeline

4. Get feedback and information directly from customers.

While inputs from your team members are inherent, you should not overlook customer perceptions.

Here’s one example.

In 2017, Spotify started crafting its listeners’ personas. 

First, they analyzed the song preferences of the US audience but soon realized that this does not give the reasons behind those preferences. (Studying market)

So, they expanded their scope of study to include listeners of different ages, incomes, family types, lifestyles, music cultures, and more. (Studying behavioral and socio-economic patterns)

They noticed a consistent pattern in the listening habits of people. However, this data couldn’t reveal the value consumers saw in paying for the music.

So, in the next attempt, they interviewed people to understand if they could pay for music or not. (Customer interviews)

Rest is history. 

Today, Spotify has 172 million paid subscribers worldwide.

And they achieved this by studying their customers thoroughly and by interviewing them.

You can read the full story here.

So, to understand what your customers want, the best way is to ask them. You can do it through:

1. Interviews

It will give you an in-depth understanding of what your customers are like.

While it’s okay to be candid with the customer, preparing a questionnaire will help you have a targeted conversation.

For example, you can prepare questions about their job responsibilities, challenges, etc.

2. Surveys 

If interviews are much too expensive and time-consuming, surveys are the next best option. Customer feedback surveys are a quick and effective way to get inputs from your consumers.

All you have to do is request them to fill out a questionnaire and then review the findings. Both methods have their positives and negatives, and the best would be to try out both sources.

You can use the following survey tools.

5. Encourage reviews and engage with your customers on social media.

Customer reviews help get online traction. But they also serve as an excellent source of customer profile characteristics. 

A review gives you insights primarily into customer experiences and satisfaction levels. Several reviews inform readers about the pros and cons of a product, which is also a source of feedback for your company.

customer review statistics

6. Make it easy to read and understand

There are two most popular formats for building customer profiles.

  1. The who (demographic information), what (their challenges and requirements), why (your differentiation from others and how you can address their pain points) format
  2. A brief biography or biodata format (describing all relevant characteristics of a customer)

For example, here’s a customer profile we’ve built recently.

Sample customer profile example

If you noticed, it puts together  a complete picture of the customer in just a few words. That is, you can get a sense of  their likes, interests, personal and professional life.

Don’t make your customer profile document text-heavy or theoretical. If it looks like a textbook, not everyone would like to read it. So, to make it easy to consume,

  • Use pictures
  • Use different font styles and colors
  • Write short texts, preferably bullet points

There’s no hard and fast rule to add visuals. But putting a face to the profile makes it interesting to read and understand.

Also, since you’ll have to update the customer profile information frequently, keep an editable version handy.

You can use design collaboration tools like Canva to create interesting graphics and update them whenever needed.

HubSpot’s Make My Persona tool is also a great place to start building your customer profiles.

7. Update your customer profiles frequently

Your customer profiles will evolve as time goes by and improve in their accuracy. 

Typically, brands update customer profiles when:

  1. They introduce new products or features
  2. Expand market reach across geographies
  3. They have to accommodate/manage changing customer preferences.

The first two scenarios are more operational, and you will automatically update your ICP. 

But the third scenario requires behavioral reports and analytics to facilitate the updates. Without analytical tools, you won’t be able to figure out when your customer profile needs an update. 

Customer profiling and updating customer profiles are far easier if you use CRM software. With this, you can get a 360-degree view of customers – from the first interaction to buying and retention. 

However, a lot of us tend to get overwhelmed by the wealth of information we receive. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we might feel like we don’t know enough.

Don’t worry. 

Anybody would feel that way in the beginning. 

But it is also important to address challenges along the way.

Below are the problems you might face while creating customer profiles and their remedies.

Challenges when creating a customer profile

1. Unintentional biases

Customer profiles aren’t biographies written by your customer. The information you receive can end up stereotyping or grouping your customers. 

For example, you may believe that only men buy some skilled sports equipment. But several women want to buy this equipment, and you’ll end up not selling to them. 

Narrowing down customer profiles may end up feeding into negative stereotypes. So, when you view a profile, verify their level of interest first and don’t make any assumptions.

2. Data privacy

Data privacy is another challenging aspect of creating customer profiles. These concerns aren’t coming from a small group of people as:

  • 79% of Americans worry about how businesses use their personal information. 
  • 84% of customers seek greater control in terms of how companies use their data. 

Data security and privacy concerns are greater than ever. Creating customer profiles demand a level of personal information that may feel invasive. But this doesn’t mean customers aren’t willing to share information. Rather they prefer to know whether they can trust your brand with their data.

Do customers want to share their personal data - statistics

3. Ideal, but not ideal

Sometimes, we create a perfect customer profile, to only forget it exists. 

For instance, we may come up with all the categories and segments we’re targeting. But salespeople may never make use of these data points because of slow implementation. 

In another case, the ICP may be far too narrow for any actual person. So, your reps will discard the persona you painstakingly made. 

That is why create an ideal persona who exists and share it across the board. 

4. Misalignment

Lack of involvement of all departments that are part of the selling process may again lead to ineffective customer profiles. 

For example, the sales team is bound to know more about who fits into your customer profile. And your customer service will know what changes customers want from products. 

Your marketing team will help get information through campaigns. Finally, your product team will help personalize what your client wants. 

If any of these teams fail to communicate with each other, you may face profound losses. 

So, make the information accessible to all the relevant teams. 

The bottom line

With most of the interactions between brands and customers happening digitally, it’s hard to stay in touch with customers in real-life.

That’s why building, updating, and using your customer profile info is crucial for your teams to deliver a consistent experience across channels.

You can fetch a big chunk of information for customer profiling from your CRM software itself and start making sense of the data. Try LeadSquared, a one-of-a-kind CRM software to track the entire customer journey with a real-time dashboard and automated report generator.

To help you get started with customer profiling, I have two useful resources for you.

Editable customer profile checklist and template

These are free, editable pdfs. You can use them whenever you need or create copies and share them with your colleagues and friends. 

  1. Customer profile checklist
  2. Customer profile template

You can edit and use the customer profile template anytime you wish. Or, if you want to create your own design, you can follow the customer profile checklist to ensure that the information you plan to include covers everything.

If you need any further information/resources, feel free to write to us. :)

“Books are a uniquely portable magic”, says Stephen King in “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”.

A good book educates, enlightens, and leaves you feeling a tad bit wiser. Some even consider them the best mentors because you can keep coming back to their learnings.

Although your days may be hectic, and full of practical learnings, reading a good book is a tiny step you can take towards learning from the masters of selling. There are over 70,000 books about sales, and even though it’s impossible to read them all, here’s a reading list you could start with!

This list includes some of the highest-rated and highly recommended sales books packed with many tips and techniques that you can use. Add them to your reading bucket list and let them work their magic.

Table of contents

1. “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie

Goodreads rating: 4.21/5

One of the first self-help books to ever be released, it is a gem for aspiring sellers. It has some of the best advice on how to get out of any mental rut, increase your popularity, and make you a better salesperson. It has six sections, each of which takes you through becoming a much better person. This book has been in the Top 20 of Amazon’s list of highest selling non-fiction books for a long while.

How to Win Friends and Influence People” is said to have influenced the lives of many great people including, Warren Buffet and Donna Reed.

Why is it a must-read: Described as an “action book” by Carnegie, the book has continued to hold a great appeal almost a century after it was published. If you are new to reading, this is a good place to start.

A Thought that stuck: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

A reader’s review:

There are some books which you can call classic in the true sense. Particularly this books has much to offer for every reader. The facts and stories presented in the book are awesome. Every chapter leads us to a better person. While reading this, after finishing every chapter I felt rejuvenated and motivated. If anyone tries to stick with the principles described in the book, I don’t think he is going to have any troubles in his future.

Amit Mishra (via Goodreads)

2. “Selling to Big Companies” by Jill Konrath 

Goodreads rating: 3. 88/5

Selling to Big Companies” is for you if you are looking to sell to large organizations. Written by a leading sales strategist, the book helps you identify why you are not getting calls back from the organization, how to identify key decision-makers and in the end, how to advance a sale to these companies. It focuses on the first part of sales—prospecting and making inroads with the first interaction with mammoths.

Why is it a must-read: The book comes with practical advice and easily actionable steps in dealing with large organizations.

A thought that stuck: “If you’re struggling to get into big companies, you probably have a weak value proposition. Pure and simple.”

A reader’s review:

An in-depth analysis of how to gain passage through the labyrinth and make a case with big companies. Based on hard experience, perceptiveness and persistence, and a worthwhile offering. 

Al Czarnecki (via Goodreads)

3. “The Psychology of Selling” by Brian Tracy

Goodreads rating: 4.11/5 

This is another New York Times best-selling book. The author, Brian Tracy, is a speaker and sales trainer who has worked with more than 500 companies. “The Psychology of Selling” talks about the 80-20 rule: top 20% salespeople make 80% of the money and the bottom 80% only make 20% of the money.

Tracy discusses how you can boost your self-esteem and perfect your sales techniques to be in the top 20%. He analyses why people buy and how you can use this to your advantage. A definite must-read for sales folks! 

Why is it a must-read: The book also discusses practical strategies and techniques that apply to every aspect of the sales cycle. It teaches you how to make your way to the top 20% of salespeople.  

A thought that stuck: “Fear and self-doubt have always been the greatest enemies of human potential.” 

A reader’s review:

The interesting part of this book it’s that it will not bring out the bestselling concept but how to become the best of yourself in every life aspect. For me it’s not just a selling book but a game changer in every angle of my life.

Roman Steven (via Goodreads)

Secrets of closing the sale

4. “Secrets of Closing the Sale” by Zig Ziglar 

Goodreads rating: 4.16/5 

One of THE most important names in sales, Zig Ziglar, was a famous salesperson. This book summarises everything that he learned over his lifetime of 86 years and how he became successful in sales. He talks about how you can get everything you want in life if you are willing to help just enough people. 

Secrets of Closing the Sale” is on the premise that everyone is a salesperson, and everything is selling. So even if you are not a professional salesperson, this is one book that you should add to your list. 

Why is it a must-read: The book teaches you how to use storytelling as a tool to persuade people to agree with your ideas. The learnings can be extended to many spheres of life and are not limited to sales.  

A thought that stuck: “It’s far better to use an effective procedure or close if that’s all you know than it is to know all the techniques in this book and not use any of them” 

A reader’s review:

Super entertaining and fun book to read plus Zig is a genius at sales. The biggest idea I took from this book is having the belief and being proud of your product, there’s also tons of other cool stuff but when Zig Ziglar talked about belief it felt really powerful. Really cool book if you’re into sales or marketing, definitely check it out!

Mario Tomic (via Goodreads)

Little red book of selling

5. “Little Red Book of Selling” by Jeffery Gitomer 

Goodreads rating: 3.93/5 

This lovely book contains 12.5 (yeah, that’s right) principles of selling to your clients. It is an intriguing take on selling by Gitomer which is all about finding out why people buy. This, he says, is the most important step in selling. He also discredits the fact that sales are all about the price and relies on factors such as value-proposition and reducing the risk which in turn increase the buyer’s motive.  

Little Red Book of Selling” will help you build value and relationships with your customers. It also stresses the importance of networking and how personal branding can help you win more sales. What are you waiting for? Go get your copy. 

Why is it a must-read: It lists out everything that you shouldn’t do as someone who is new to sales. The nuggets of knowledge and the way that they are presented, make it a quick and motivating read.  

A thought that stuck: “The biggest reason people don’t succeed is that they don’t expose themselves to existing information.” 

A reader’s review:

 Awesome, even for someone not in selling. If you haven’t realized yet, you are probably in sales, whether your job title says it or not. If you are a doctor you sell a certain prescription, if you are a teacher you sell a subject, if you meet someone new you sell yourself. That is why you should read this book.

Shannon Kempenich (via Goodreads)

To sell is human

6. “To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others” by Daniel H. Pink

Goodreads rating: 3.89/5 

Another New York Times bestseller, this popular book by Pink, offers an exciting take on sales. “To Sell is Human” busts popular myths like how only extroverts are believed to be good salespeople. It talks about improvisation as the key to selling and how you can redefine sales by moving people.

Get this book if you think selling is not just about pitching an idea to your audience. You can learn six other ways in which you can turn a pitch into a sale. 

Why is it a must-read: Pink uses three concepts–attunement, buoyancy, and clarity—which will help you convince anyone. He also explains the three skills which help you apply these concepts in your life, which are pitch, improvisation and service. 

A thought that stuck: “In the new world of sales, being able to ask the right questions is more valuable than producing the right answers. Unfortunately, our schools often have the opposite emphasis. They teach us how to answer, but not how to ask.” 

A reader’s review:

In to Sell is human, the author takes apart the stereotypical myths about sales and shows how all of us are actually involved in sales. He shares 6 strategies on how we can get comfortable with sales and use sales in our life in a way that actually gets everyone what they want. I particularly liked his emphasis on service and the various exercises he included to help the reader apply these ideas. If you want to be a better salesperson or if you want to understand how sales shows up in your life, this is an excellent book to read.

Taylor Ellwood (via Goodreads)

Selling the dream

7. “Selling the Dream” by Guy Kawasaki

Goodreads rating: 3.95/5

This book is written by the guy famous for marketing Apple’s Macintosh back in 1984. He has written several books, and this one for entrepreneurs is something that you should get your hands on. “Selling the Dream” focuses mainly on evangelists and how to succeed as one. It also comes with a short course on how to create an evangelist business plan. What’s better it takes the example of the original Macintosh product introduction plan.

Kawasaki also states how evangelists can change the world, citing Google as an example.

Why is it a must-read: The book is great for leaders and entrepreneurs because it helps you make everyone else believe in your vision. As a salesperson, you will find many takeaways that’ll make your prospect believe that your product is the best solution to their problems.

A thought that stuck: “Evangelism is selling the dream.”

A reader’s review:

Guy Kawasaki is a really interesting author with a lot to offer about both business and faith. The book is a little dated in some areas, but very well written. Although it is probably primarily meant to be a business book, I think as a crossover it is one of the best books on evangelism ever written. Great book, with many applications. 

Ryan Fisher (via Goodreads)

Ziglar on selling

8. “Ziglar on Selling: The Ultimate Handbook for the Complete Sales Professional” by Zig Ziglar

Goodreads rating: 4.12/5

Another gem by the sales expert, Ziglar, draws parallels with his more than 40 years of experience in sales and how aspiring salespeople can mimic his techniques. He also talks about how identifying the right salespeople can boost your sales team’s productivity.

Additionally, he discusses the science and methods behind selling, such as avoiding rude customers and finding prospects. This book is rightly titled, “The handbook for the complete sales professional.” Add it to your list as well.

Why is it a must-read: After reading this book, you will know all the skills that you must work on to become a great salesperson. It takes a deep dive into prospecting, and what a no in sales really means. The book also talks about improving your personal life and relationships to perform better in sales.

A thought that stuck: “Selling is essentially a transfer of feelings.”

A reader’s review:

Ziglar is a sales expert. In this book, he provides us with practical advice on how to be successful in the sales profession. He is a great story-teller, and often incorporates humor in his work. As such, this is a very entertaining book for professional sales people. In addition Ziglar advises us on how to provide excellent customer service.

John (via Goodreads)

Selling the wheel

9. “Selling the Wheel: Choosing The Best Way To Sell For You Your Company Your Customers” by Jeff Cox and Howard Stevens

Goodreads rating: 4.21/5

Is sales a new concept? “Selling the wheel” takes an everyday item into an archaic setting to explain how sales for new innovative products work. The book is structured as a fable about a man trying to sell the first wheel.

It’s also interesting to note how the product needs to be a good fit for the user because even the wheel, which is so useful, doesn’t have a long line of immediate buyers.

Why is it a must-read: Along with selling strategies, one can learn tips on marketing, product cycles, market maturity, and constantly adding value for businesses.

A thought that stuck: “Sell? Me? Minnie, the Wheel is a brilliant invention! One does not have to sell brilliant inventions; brilliant inventions sell themselves!”

A reader’s review:

It is one of the best books to understand how marketing should be done for a product. the author has a unique and a funny way of explaining concepts . This book is definitely for MBA’s and non MBA’s as well. An amazing read!

Reikan (via Goodreads)

Secrets of question based selling

10. “Secrets of question-based selling: How the Most Powerful Tool in Business Can Double Your Sales Results” by Thomas Freese

Goodreads rating: 4.1/5

A bit of standard advice that salespeople hear is to listen to the user and understand their problems. But no one tells you how you can get them talking. “Secrets of question-based selling” helps you channel the power of How? What? Why? When? And who? Asking the right questions at the right time in the sales cycle takes you a long way.

Why is it a must-read: The book is a great go-to guide for objection handling, crack a more significant number of deals, and motivate buyers. It has many scripts and parts of email templates that you can use to improve your sales process.

A thought that stuck: “Questions are much harder to mismatch than statements because they ask people to contribute to the conversation.”

A reader’s review:

A fresh approach that revisions the sales process that is respectful to all parties and common sense. The three major moves are not overly complex and reflect the reality of what actually happens in the sales cycle.

Stephen (via Goodreads)

SPIN Selling

11. “SPIN selling” by Rackham Neil

Goodreads rating: 3.99/5

Spin around the way you think about sales by adopting the SPIN (Situation, Problem, Implication, Need-payoff) strategy. The book is not just advice; it’s a compilation of learnings over thousands of cold calls and the years of experience that Neil Rackham has had as an advisor for prominent companies.

The book helps you understand how to tweak your strategy for minor and significant sales. It also challenges the popular notion, ‘Always be closing’ and explains how that doesn’t work for high-value services. Grab a copy of “SPIN selling” and see how it changes the way you strategize.

Why is it a must-read: The SPIN technique is really useful to salespeople who have shifted from low to high-value services. It makes the strategizing process simple and helps them remove the roadblocks in completing the sale.

A thought that stuck: “Skilled people receive fewer objections because they have learned objection prevention, not objection handling.”

A reader’s review:

Whether you like it or not, all business involves sales in some capacity. Written in 1988, Rackham describes his findings from observing 35,000 sales calls over a period of 12 years. He outlines the sales format that most often led to long-term success (Situation –> Problem –> Implication –> Need-Payoff). The recommendations are authentic, powerful and helpful; this book is a must-read for anyone in business!

Jenny (via Goodreads)

The extremely successful salesman club

12. “The extremely successful Salesman’s club” by Chris Murray

Goodreads rating: 4.13/5

To enter this club, all you need to do is start reading. A refreshing book in this list, it teaches you sales in a fictitious set-up. It’s a diary of sorts that a novice salesman writes about the seven core concepts of sales that he must learn to enter the salesman’s club.

Set in Victorian London, this book is a journey you take with this salesman who goes from being an amateur to success in sales. Beginners relate to the protagonist as they join him in his journey through the ups and downs to learn how to sell the right way.

Why is it a must-read:The extremely successful Salesman’s club” feels like a partner for someone who’s starting out in sales. From the challenges to victories, you’ll find yourself relating and also learning in the process.

A thought that stuck: “Listen to people from your heart, as if your life depended on it, and you will find that in turn, people will listen to you with all of theirs.”

A reader’s review:

On the surface this is a manual to teach you how to sell effectively and improve your life. But it is presented in a humorous and very clever fictionalised “Victorian” series of diary entries. Neither of these descriptions do it justice. Very easy to read but makes you think. 

Nicola James (via Goodreads)

Sales bible

13. “The sales bible: The ultimate sales resource” by Jeffrey Gitomer

Goodreads rating: 3.98/5

Another great book on sales by the author who has been through it all. The best part about “The sales bible” is that it is concise and to the point, with every topic divided into lists. All his lists follow the X.5 format where his lists have 10.5 or 12.5 points, and that last 0.5th advice is always a gem.

On days when your job feels too tough, reading this book can offer some motivation to get up and going.

Why is it a must-read: Cold calling, adding value for the prospect, objection handling, or any other sales confusion can be tackled with this book that stands true to its name.

A thought that stuck: “Failure is an event not a person.”

A reader’s review:

This truly is “The Ultimate Sales Resource.” I have read this book through many times and have pulled it off my shelf even more times to reference points that led to earning a lot of business. In addition to all of that, Jeffrey Gitomer is up to date. The information in this book works: these are not your grandpa’s (or grandmas!) selling techniques. A must have! 

Troy Conant (via Goodreads)

Selling the invisible

14. “Selling the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing” by Harry Beckwith

Goodreads rating: 3.96/5

Selling the Invisible” skips whatever’s not necessary and gets to the point. A short read, full of great advice, which can be finished and use fast. Traditional sales focus on the product, its features, and specifications.

But selling the invisible talks about marketing and pitching services instead. It takes an interesting take on competitors because it mentions that since it’s a service, the prospect has a choice to carry it out himself. This means the three options that he has are you, your competitor, and himself.

Why is it a must-read: The book focuses on selling services instead of products and how handling objections and dealing with competitors works in such a set-up.

A thought that stuck: “There’s little point in killing an idea by saying it might fail. Any idea might fail. If you’re doing anything worthwhile at all, you’ll suffer a dozen failures. Start failing so you can start succeeding.”

A reader’s review:

As is often the case though you need to re-read these things from time to time. It’s one of the first marketing books I read that specifically addresses the challenges of a ‘service’ business. Marketing a service is a unique challenge given the intangible nature of what you’re dealing with. This is a quick read, and while not as entertaining as other authors it Beckwith does impart some important tips and ideas.

James Christensen (via Goodreads) 

How to master the art of selling

15. How to master the art of selling by Tom Hopkins

Goodreads rating: 4.11/5

Sometimes it’s hard to be excited about every cold call you make or every task on your to-do list. “How to master the art of selling” brings back the excitement by helping you add joy to the process.

From prospecting to pitching to closing the deal, this book is comprehensive and covers each step. The most exciting bit is that the sales tactics that Tom Hopkins talks about can be applied to almost every aspect of life, from pitching yourself for a job to date.

Why is it a must-read: While helping you excel in every process in the sales journey, the book also puts an emphasis on sales ethics. This helps you perform as a good salesman in the long run.

A thought that stuck: “How many ‘no’s am I willing to accept on my way to success?”

A reader’s review:

This is a powerful but unsubtle book. Its great virtue is that it really starts at the beginning and is full of details. It’s a rabbit stew cookbook that begins, as one should, by telling you how to catch a rabbit.

Bob (via Goodreads) 
 

New sales simplified

16. “New Sales. Simplified: The Essential Handbook for Prospecting and New Business Development” by Mike Weinberg

Goodreads rating: 4.35/5

For a beginner, sales can be overwhelming, but “New Sales. Simplified” provides a great overview of all you need to learn about sales. It’s full of examples and personal experiences, which many it a humorous a funny read.

The title is quite apt because it simplifies sales by focusing on the details, tiny facts, or insights you might miss. These include focussing on pain points and building trust. It’s also a great book to gift to new members of your sales team.

Why is it a must-read: Mike has put the research to use himself and straight-up tell you what works. It’s a good primer for novice salespeople to get going.

A thought that stuck: “Stop talking about yourself and your company and begin leading with the issues, pains, problems, opportunities, and results that are important to your prospect.”

A reader’s review:

FANTASTIC reminder of what sales people should be doing but tend to get away from or make secondary. Mike walks through the entire process from selecting target prospects, writing your sales story to the meeting with the prospect. If you are a salesperson and want to increase your sales today, READ this book.

Chan Pagel (via Goodreads)

How I raised myself from failure to success in selling

17. “How I raised myself from failure to success in selling” by Frank Bettger

Goodreads rating: 4.26/5

We always hope to learn from our mistakes, but there’s a quicker way to go about it. You can learn from the one’s others have made and picking up a book that explains what to do and what not to do is the best way to go about it.

In 11 years, the author changed his life around by making use of the best sales strategies. From being broke to having enough to retire at 40, his personal experiences teach us to become winning salesman. Grab a copy to learn the seven golden rules for closing a sale.

Why is it a must-read:How I raised myself from failure to success in selling” helps you harness the power of enthusiasm and conquer the fear of selling. It’s a great read if you’re feeling stuck and looking for a change in pace.

A thought that stuck: “Selling is the easiest job in the world if you work it hard—but the hardest job in the world if you try to work it easy.”

A reader’s review:

This is a very useful book! I love how he lays everything out so practically and uses many stories to illustrate the principles he teaches. He’s very simplistic and straightforward, just as if he were sitting there speaking with you directly. There’s no effort to impress anyone with his knowledge, intelligence, or success.  I would recommend this book to anyone, even if they’re not in sales, simply because it aids in acquiring people skills, which one can never go wrong to improve.

Tara Beck (via Goodreads)

18. “First, break all the rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently” by Marcus Buckingham

Goodreads rating: 3.93/5

For a well-oiled sales machine, the manager must understand each team member’s talents and how to harness them. “First, break all the rules” is perfect for managers to improve their sales team’s productivity.

The book covers everything from honing your teams’ talents, finding the right fit for a position, and understanding which training can benefit your team members. It is an easy read and challenges most of the supposed rules and norms of management to offer a fresher perspective on management.

Why is it a must-read: This book is a guide for managers to build efficient teams. It helps you encourage your employees and identify their talents.

A thought that stuck: “Any recurring patterns of behaviour that can be productively applied are talents.”

A reader’s review:

The findings in this book would surprise many of us, who do self-development or others-development everyday. It would give you an effective framework in recruiting the right ones, setting the right goals, focusing on the strengths, and assigning the right roles to the subordinates. What would surprise you is that you’ll find many myths that you used to think it is right, but it is not from the findings of Gallup.

Viet Hung (via Goodreads)

19. “Take the cold out of cold calling: Web Search Secrets for the Inside Info on Companies, Industries, and People” by Sam Richter

Goodreads rating: 3.7/5

Once you master the art of cold calling, sales become much easier. This book is a tool that every salesperson can benefit from. The book offers good insight into research before the call, understanding the client’s needs, and making the right offer.

The tips mentioned will help you build long term relationships with your clients and improve margins in the process.

Why is it a must-read: Take the cold out on cold calling” guides salespeople to understand industry trends and what they should look for to make the call relevant for prospects.

A thought that stuck: “In today’s value-oriented business marketplace, the “Fourth R”—research—is the tool that truly differentiates one business from the next and one salesperson from the next.”

A reader’s review:

If you are in college, or in the job market, or trying to land a new client, 
this book is for you! Plain and simple it’s not who you know it’s what you know about who! Sam Richter is the man. Don’t just read this book but carry it around in your car.

Stephen Costello (via Goodreads)

20. “Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It” by Chris Voss

Goodreads rating: 4.37/5

As a salesman negotiating is a skill you need to excel at. Do you know who else needs to? The book’s author, a hostage negotiator in the FBI.

Never split the difference” is written by a man who has a lot of experience in high-stakes situations. While your negotiating as a salesman will hopefully never get as intense as a life and death situation, the psychology behind negotiations remains the same. So, get ready to make and close the best deals.

Why is it a must-read: The book makes you a great negotiator and its learnings can be applied in various situations. These range from buying a call or closing a deal at the right price.

A thought that stuck: “The beauty of empathy is that it doesn’t demand that you agree with the other person’s ideas.”

A reader’s review:

Excellent!! The content. The writing style. The summary at the end of each chapter. I make no illusion that I’m going to become a better negotiator just by reading it. It requires re-reading (which I’m planning to do) and practice and experience.

Robert (via Goodreads)

Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal

21. “Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal” by Oren Klaff

Goodreads rating: 4.1/5

The prospect will never know what they need if you can’t tell them what you provide. With the pitching theory, learn how to make the correct pitches for yourself, your ideas, and your product.

Klaff doesn’t believe in scripts; instead, he applies knowledge from neuroscience to teach you how to capture and hold the client’s attention while making a pitch. His “STRONG” principle helps you build the proper framework for any angle that you have to make in your life.

Why is it a must-read: Many blogs and articles claim to give you the best script for a pitch. But Oren Klaff, through his book “Pitch Anything,” helps you understand the neuroscience and psychology behind pitching. Using these learnings, you can build the foundations for your pitch that’ll work every time.

A thought that stuck: “As I’ve said before, the brain is a cognitive miser. Unless it can get value for itself, it stops paying attention.”

A reader’s review:

A must book for anyone looking to raise capital or wanting to learn more on how to pitch their products/service. The concepts and techniques he talks about are not the salesy tricky techniques, he talks about macro and micro concepts that MATTER before and during the pitch. Highly recommend!

Romeu Lorenco (via Goodreads) 

22. “Sell or be sold: How to Get Your Way in Business and in Life.” by Grant Cardone

Goodreads rating: 4.15/5

The art of selling must be perfected, not by just salespeople but by everyone. To be seen as trustworthy and capable, you need to be to sell all your ideas.

Sell or be Sold” helps you to work on your sales pipelines and build confidence in yourself and the product. It also serves as a great guide on follow-ups and referrals. Pitching and completing the sale is the most ethical thing to do for a salesperson, and it can be achieved with persistence and great time management. Reach out for a copy to know-how.

Why is it a must-read: This book changes your mindset about sales whether you’re a salesperson or someone in non-sales. It helps you realise that the principles of sales are involved even when you’re just sharing a thought or an idea with someone.

A thought that stuck: “Become so sold, so convinced, so committed to your company, product, and service that you believe it would be a terrible thing for the buyer to do business anywhere else with any other product.”

A reader’s review:

I knew nothing about selling and this book was more than the perfect book to get me started. From techniques, to mindsets, I feel like a different person. I am more assertive in my business, I feel more confident about everything. It’s like Grant Cardone gave me his mind.

Anthony (via Goodreads) 

I hope you find this helpful. 
Do let me know what’s on your reading list next!  

Happy reading. 

The Rolodex years are over.

As you know, the digital era has ushered in the age of buying insurance policies online. Some people may never speak to insurance agents or even come to know them.

Still, as an agent, it’s important to create numerous touchpoints with your clients—even if they’re entirely, or mostly, digital.

Yes, the insurance industry, as a whole, has become less personal and more competitive.

Overcoming this apparent lack of personalization is an obstacle insurance agents must address. Any insurance agent or agency that hopes to grow their client base will need to digitize and focus on customer engagement.

Let’s examine some of the most important digital touchpoints for insurance agents.

1. Welcome email

As soon as you obtain a potential client’s contact information, it’s a good idea to contact them directly. Do so with a friendly, personal welcome email. A good welcome email reassures your client the agency they’re buying insurance from is made of real people that are ready and available to help.

A good welcome email can:

  • Establish a unique value proposition
  • Be visually appealing and easy to read
  • Include at least one call to action
  • Include a link or contact point that connects to a real person

2. Quotes

If a potential client requests a quote for an insurance policy—home, auto, life, health, or otherwise—they are demonstrating a serious level of commitment. These prospects are typically considered “hot leads,” meaning you will want to quickly create another touchpoint before they begin looking elsewhere for a policy.

Once your agency has sent a quote, you should begin sending sequenced emails until you’ve closed the deal.

3. Purchase follow-up

Your prospect became a client. Nice going. Now it’s time to think about retaining your client for the long haul. And you’ll do so by demonstrating your ability to continually provide value.

As soon as new policy becomes active, send a follow-up email. In it, you can:

  • Provide your (the agent) personal contact information
  • Ask if they have any questions
  • Provide resources where they can learn more about their policy
  • Check to see if they have any additional insurance needs

Your follow-up email will serve as an important reminder your agency cares about more than collecting monthly premiums. It shows you’re actively thinking about the client, considering their needs, and providing them with ongoing support. Establishing a basic level of trust is key to client retention.

4. Surveys

Providing questions, surveys, and other resources that call for direct action can help increase engagement with your clients. According to one study, the target response rate for internal surveys should be around 30 to 40 percent, while the target response rate for external surveys should be around 10 to 15 percent—usually much better than the level of engagement you’d get with ordinary emails.

Contrary to what many marketers assume, people are actually somewhat willing to complete short, simple surveys.

  • Surveys help people feel like they did something.
  • When people complete a survey, they are more likely to feel heard and appreciated.
  • People are more likely to respond to a survey when they feel they have been “specially elected.”
  • Surveys are an efficient, direct form of digital engagement.

In other words, a survey is a great way to get your potential customer’s attention. Once they have completed the survey, you will then be able to use their responses and generate further engagements. Issuing periodic surveys and asking for feedback can help send a subtle reminder your company is there, active, and consistently thinking about its customers.

5. Testimonial request

In addition to having your clients answer surveys, it is also smart to ask for testimonials or customer reviews. Positive reviews will not only help improve your insurance agency’s digital presence but the very act of writing a positive review can help solidify your relationships with your clients.

6. Check-in email

There doesn’t always need to be an overwhelming reason to reach out to a current or prospective insurance customer. Sometimes you just want to keep the dialogue alive.

There are many ways to create organic engagement via email. Consider checking in for:

  • Birthday
  • Anniversaries
  • Holidays
  • To announce new rates, policies, or products available

Powered by an insurance CRM platform, you can easily automate your emails and ensure your clients are getting the attention they need.

7. Renewal communications

One of the most natural touchpoints for insurance agents is the policy renewal period. In fact, many people expect to hear from their agent during this time, so it’s important to have a strong communications plan in place.

Some clients prefer to complete their renewals over the phone, while others prefer email. Knowing your client’s personal preferences can help create a better customer engagement process.

During the renewal window, you’ll find opportunities to upsell or modify their policy, answer any questions they may have, and further reinforce your relationship.

8. Payment communications

The most common interaction an individual will have with their insurance provider is when they pay their monthly premiums. Don’t overlook this touchpoint.

Instead of just saying “Thank you for payment” every month, send an email that also contains some useful, actionable information. Notifying your clients about changes in the insurance industry, giving them general financial advice, and incorporating outbound links into your payment receipts will help establish a deeper level of engagement.

Texting is easily Gen Z’s preferred communication method and a powerful way to engage prospective students.

Source

College texting reaches prospects more quickly and effectively than other platforms.

Addressing needs at each stage of the admissions journey with texting

Texting can help your college develop relationships with prospects throughout the student’s decision-making process by addressing specific needs and concerns. Texts can also urge specific actions at specific times.

Texting can help position your school as a valuable resource and build trust with prospective students. College texting can:

  • Communicate important information, such as deadlines
  • Provide application resources
  • Answer questions quickly and effectively
  • Celebrate admitted students

College texting is also beneficial to staff and leadership, who need ways to streamline communication and collect data. Strategically planned texts help staff: 

  • Reduce number of phone calls and emails
  • Quickly identify student concerns
  • Collect useful insight on student engagement
  • Pinpoint areas for process improvement

4 smart college texting tips 

Prospects respond best to clear, positive communication tailored to specific needs. The following best practices can help nurture prospective student relationships—and spur action:

  1. Make taking action easy
    Reduce potential barriers by including links and direct contact information.
  2. Include specific calls to action
    Build a sense of urgency by highlighting deadlines and explicit next steps.
  3. Offer supplemental information
    Cross-market different opportunities for engagement. If a prospect declines an invitation, offer a relevant alternative.
  4. Employ a positive and friendly tone
    Adopt a welcoming and congenial tone to reinforce positive brand perception—and build trust with prospects. Use exclamation points and emojis to convey friendliness.

Texting throughout the admissions journey

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is admissions-journey-800x139.png

When crafting a college texting strategy, align messages with each stage of the admissions funnel. This approach ensures leads are nurtured throughout the admissions journey, from prospective to enrolled student.

An integrated approach also prioritizes personalization—a key tactic for reaching Gen Z. Messages are automatically tailored to the student’s needs at a specific point in time.

Below, we recommend content for each stage of the admissions journey, with different examples to illustrate the approach. 

Prospects

Prospects are just starting to explore your school’s offerings. Beginning communication early offers a valuable opportunity to shape your brand.

Prioritize content that offers learning and relationship-building opportunities. Demonstrate the impact of your programs through stories or statistics which demonstrate student outcomes.

The content might include:

  • Invitations to school information sessions
  • Ways to connect with current students
  • Alumni success stories

This sample text markets an upcoming info session, offering prospects an interactive chance to learn more about (the fictitious) Signal Vine University (SVU). Signal Vine provides the registration link and an easy way to confirm (Yes or No). SVU also provides upcoming event information – and does so with a positive and inviting tone.

Inquiries and applicants

During the inquiry stage, build on your initial strategy by sharing ways to engage and learn more. Consider extending invitations to:

  • In-person or virtual open houses
  • Program-specific webinars
  • Free college counseling appointments

Mine additional personal details to help personalize future messaging. Strategies include texting more targeted questions or requiring details for event registration (think: lead generation).

In the applicant stage, focus on guiding students through the application process. Consider breaking your process into mini pieces, then build messaging to address each step. Be sure to include deadlines and follow-up if applicants don’t respond.

Signal Vine checks in with Mark, a new applicant, with a deadline reminder for his application. When he doesn’t respond, SVU sends a second message. The school provides a link for easy access and a deadline reminder at the end to help build urgency in response.

Admitted and enrolled

The admitted stage is an opportunity for celebration and comradery—and for next steps. Consider texting to:

  • Congratulate and welcome accepted students
  • Break down registration process steps
  • Provide contact info for questions

The admitted stage is also a good opportunity to learn more about students who do not attend. If a student indicates non-enrollment, ask why.

SVU’s academic advisor checks in with David, an admitted student, to outline the five registration steps. She communicates the registration deadline and helps address David’s concern about dual enrollment credits.

Lastly, in the enrollment stage, focus on conveying important next steps through links and contextual information. Content might include:  

  • Information on FAFSA and scholarships
  • Orientation details
  • Deposit deadlines
  • Next steps for housing

Hone your college texting strategy

After you’ve piloted college texting, set a regular cadence for evaluation. Like any marketing initiative, you’ll want to track results and adjust as knowledge evolves.  

Consider the following tactics to deepen your strategy.  

Coordinate across departments

Be sure to coordinate with other departments which also use college texting. Nothing deters prospects more than receiving multiple, repeated text messages.

Signal Vine demonstrates the impact of un-coordinated college texting on an admitted student.

Set regular meetings to discuss goals, content, and timing. Aim for an integrated texting plan which supports multiple department goals.    

Give a heads up

Let prospects know you’ll be sending texts. Setting expectations helps build trust and demonstrates respect—two important lead nurturing strategies. Offering a “heads up” also helps build a college texting-friendly culture by normalizing usage.

Consider adding a college texting blurb to:

  • Staff email signatures
  • Social media profiles
  • Marketing collateral
  • Program webpages

Offer an SMS hotline

During particularly busy periods (like when applications are due) consider creating an SMS hotline. Employ a single phone number for students to text questions. SMS Hotlines can help streamline and simplify communication—and ensure questions are answered quickly.  

Here’s the story of how NC State managed their SMS hotline during student orientation (which includes the example above).

Use personas to personalize

If available, use student personas to inform your evolving messaging strategy. Personas provide valuable insight into students’ motivations, essential data for personalizing content. Use persona data—including demographic information, goals, and go-to information sources—to help answer questions like:

A powerful lead nurturing tool

With the right approach, college texting is a powerful lead nurturing tool. By aligning with the admissions journey—and employing tools like marketing automation—colleges can use texting to drive enrollment and build lucrative student relationships.

Note: A shout out to SignalVine, whose excellent ebook inspired many of the ideas here, and is the source of several sample texts shown above.


The Covid – 19 pandemic drove businesses and entrepreneurs to embrace technology like never before. We’re looking into the role of innovations in solving age-old call center issues and growing businesses in the post-pandemic world.

Key Discussion Points:

  1. The changing landscape of call centers in the post – pandemic world
  2. How the latest innovations are solving age – old call center issues?
  3. Increasing the efficiency of call centers
  4. Accelerated Sales with Leadsquared & CallHippo

Speakers

Priyanka Agarwal

Priyanka Agarwal
Manager – Sales, CallHippo

A seasoned sales and marketing enthusiast with a thorough understanding of complex sales cycles and CRM’s. She currently leads the sales activities for CallHippo.


Piyush Singhania

Piyush Singhania
Inside Sales Team Lead, LeadSquared

Piyush is an experienced sales consultant with a demonstrated history of working in the marketing and sales industry. He is working his way through the SAAS industry. providing solutions and solving challenging use cases.  


Why search for clients when you can get them to come to you?

You might actually need to do a bit of both. But, in healthcare, one should take precedence over the other.

Here’s why.

Marketing strategy has two principal categories: outbound and inbound.

Outbound involves more traditional customer outreach:

Hey! Come check out this cool product I’ve got!

Inbound involves a subtler, more symbiotic approach, utilizing value-based materials that guide the consumer toward your product or service.

I hear you’re facing an unexpected problem. My website has an article that might help!

Both strategies have merit, and marketers will often rely on a combination of the two.

But:

You’re in telehealth

Your business is providing solutions to healthcare challenges. Educational materials and gentle guidance are expected of you—and it’s only natural your marketing efforts would lean heavily on an inbound plan.

Also: People can be pretty skeptical when it comes to their health.

Aggressive outbound tactics, such as manipulative TV campaigns or disruptive pop-ups, can read as impersonal, creating unwanted distance between your practice and your audience. (Anyone searching for expert care won’t necessarily trust an overly persistent pitch.) 

So, while your ultimate marketing mix is up to you, an inbound strategy will no doubt take up a big portion of your program.

Inbound marketing has a proven track record, and its practice, by design, exudes empathy and professionalism—two of the most desired qualities in telemedicine.

What follows is a blueprint for building your inbound marketing plan for attracting patients and adopters to your service without the hard sell.

Get social

Sometimes the negative effects of social media outweigh its advantages.

This is not one of those times.

Inbound strategy is founded largely on organic engagement: unsolicited interactions between you and your most coveted consumers.

And with social media, you’re essentially served free interactive platforms on a platter.

Why wouldn’t you use them?

With 82% of the US population currently in possession of a social networking profile and 50% of those users employing social media as a research tool for products/services, it’s a safe bet a social media strategy can drastically increase your market reach.

This survey ranks social media among the top four most effective digital marketing methods.

Why is social media such a successful marketing channel?

Maybe because a lot of it is raw and unscripted, providing you with honest, in-the-moment feedback from real-life targets.

The infamous “like,” “favorite,” and “subscribe” buttons can give your practice near-instant insight into which types of content, events, announcements, or other telehealth offerings have the power to delight users and keep them engaged. Public comments and private DMs can also hone your inbound marketing technique by providing added perspectives on audience pain points and flagging areas of interest for potential telehealth consumers.

Social media provides you with honest, in-the-moment feedback from real-life targets.

Basically, social media is a no-brainer for your telehealth practice.

However, there are a few cardinal rules to remember:

1. Do your research before deciding on a platform (or two, or three…)
Depending on the age, location, and cultural background of your prospects, some social media platforms might be more impactful than others. Conduct patient polls and leverage your CRM to find out where your ideal audience spends the bulk of its online time. And don’t be afraid to mix and match your channels as needed.

2. Keep it current
Many social media platforms are biased toward high levels of engagement. (So, the more users who interact with your post, the more likely other people will get to see it on their respective feeds.) An easy way to encourage engagement is to focus on up-to-date topics, breaking news, or content related to the time of year. (Think: “Tips for avoiding heat exhaustion this summer” or “How to fight this winter’s flu strain.”)

3. Ask for feedback
Another way to encourage engagement is just to ask for it. Invite followers to weigh in on content or offer their comments and queries about telemedicine. A simple “What do you think?” at the end of a text post can spark an ongoing conversation and possibly even improve your rankings.

4. Set goalposts
Get a sense of the results you’d like to see before you get started. Are you aiming for a specific number of followers? A protracted increase in likes and shares? Define what social media success means to you ahead of time, so you can pivot to a new strategy if one or more channels come up short.

Build a catalogue of content

There’s no way around it: Content is the alpha and omega of your inbound strategy. It’s the bait and the hook: the most effective way to capture and maintain your audience.

How’s it done? Some basics first:

Content is any material that provides value for prospective customers, helps convey the benefits of your service, or both.  

While the word “blog” might spring instantly to mind here, valuable material can come in a myriad forms, including articles, white papers, eBooks, videos, podcasts, infographics, emails, newsletters, and more. There are no rules and no limits whatsoever in terms of the “what.”

But, as hinted above, it’s the “how” that gets tricky.

No matter the format, the best content should exhibit several qualities at once. It should be tantalizing but also informative; stylish but practical; engrossing but educational. Enough head-turning imagery and eye-catching headlines to generate clicks, blended with enough genuine, thought-provoking, problem-solving substance to lure prospects back for more.

Here are some tried and true strategies to help achieve this feat:

Hit the refresh button early and often.

News happens fast. Tastes change frequently. Trends come and go.

Make sure you keep your content front and center by deploying a rotating schedule of up-to-the-minute material. Examples include:

  • Update your blog at regular intervals with breaking industry news, relevant interviews, or expert editorials on developments in telehealth.
  • Post recent patient reviews detailing positive experiences from the past month or, even better, the past week. Prove to prospective clients your practice is open, thriving, and ready to welcome new patients.
  • Produce a series of videos, podcasts, or real-time webinars to tackle patient questions or discuss new happenings in medicine (tips on protecting against COVID variants, for example). Content series come with an in-built sense of anticipation and they inspire direct participation. Plus, real-time formats like webinars offer a huge advantage by giving you immediate access to your audience.
  • Craft educational materials such as white papers or eBooks to synthesize contemporary research and present it to patients and adopters in digestible terms. Expand on these assets as new industry findings become available; this will show your practice is well aware of current dialogues in the medical field.
  • Broadcast seasonal content featuring advice on staying healthy as the weather changes. Again, this can incite audiences to keep returning as new content becomes available.

Optimize what’s in your control.

Obviously, some pieces of content have a life of their own. Social media posts, for example, might generate comments you can’t edit for clarity or reconfigure for keyword targeting.

But for those items you can control, techniques for optimization will serve you well.

Chief among these is SEO (search engine optimization), the granddaddy of digital marketing.

SEO strategy is incredibly complicated (its many intricacies are beyond the scope of this post), but here are some points to consider when building your own SEO procedure:

  • Length
    Longer content can boost your search engine positioning. Shoot for 1000+ words for each long-form article, eBook, white paper, etc. Just remember to keep your text meaningful and succinct (readers can spot filler a mile away).
  • Keywords
    A comprehensive strategy for embedding applicable keywords (i.e., words frequently searched online and/or words uniquely pertinent to your desired audience) is a must for your inbound marketing plan. Keywords should be selected with care, paying special attention to specific benefits your practice has to offer, as well as to any localized vocabulary that can enhance geo-targeting (for smaller, community-based practices).

    Your selections should then be placed strategically throughout your text, leaving room for updates as necessary. (Note: A keyword analysis tool can help you spot shifts in customer search habits, allowing you to tweak your content and keep in step with consumer behaviors.)
  • Signals
    Different aspects of your content send different signals to search engines, ultimately providing information on your site’s perceived levels of quality and credibility. Such signals include links to your content from other domains (achievable via link or post exchanges with affiliated organizations or citations in digital news publications) and positive reviews you acquire on third-party platforms. In theory, the more signals you have, the greater your chances of moving up the search engine ladder.

Consider your consumers’ POV

It goes without saying your content should always speak to the needs of your prospects.

Materials should only cover information your target audience is actively invested in. They should likewise be guided by consumer research obtained through patient histories, user surveys, and customer analytics.  

But there’s more to it than that.  

You should also consider your audience’s preferred method of intake, in addition to how well your content is received over time. To do this:

  • Make sure each content asset incorporates a flexible design, viewable across all devices. (A video that can’t be formatted to a smartphone is as good as no video at all.)
  • Establish a system for tracking performance metrics: as in, how many people are reading, watching, or otherwise engaging with your content, and how often. (See our installment on telehealth websites for ideas on which metric markers to trace.)

Always keep “warm”

Once people begin to consume your content on a regular basis, what do you do with them all?

This is where lead nurturing comes in.

After you’ve hooked a possible client, he magically transforms from “unknown prospect” into “active lead.”

You’ve caught his eye. He’s no longer just a casual observer; he’s sincerely interested.

And interested parties will usually offer some sign they’re committed to getting to know your practice. They’ll give up their email address to download your latest white paper. Or they’ll sign up for text alerts using their cell number.

From this point on, your task is to keep your lead “warm” by getting in touch again and again.

Most marketing teams choose email campaigns as their primary game plan for warming or nurturing leads. This is mostly thanks to email automation tools that integrate seamlessly with customer databases and can send multiple personalized messages in one go.

And, since 78% of marketers report a definite uptick in email engagement over the last year, a robust email strategy will probably be well worth your time.

Some thoughts to keep in mind as you build your email campaigns:

  • The object of email is to remain front of mind. As with long-form content, “hot” topics will help you. Announcements for upcoming events, exclusive analysis of recent medical research, or in-house videos can assist in generating audience buzz.
  • Your master list of contacts should include patients both past and present. Unless a person has explicitly requested to unsubscribe from your emails, you should always keep them in the loop.

  • Less is more. 59% of consumers unsubscribe from an email list because they feel they’re receiving “too many emails.” Aim for a happy medium between “no emails at all” and “please stop sending messages.” Some initiative is good. Too much is not.
  • Calls-to-action (CTAs) are your friends. People need runway lights to get from A to B. Wherever possible, add an email postscript detailing digital “next steps” for the reader ( “Click to hear our latest podcast episode” or “Sign up for tomorrow’s webinar”).
               

Take it offline

Up to this point, we’ve talked about inbound marketing as a purely digital strategy.

But the truth is, inbound can also benefit from good old-fashioned legwork.

That’s right: It might be worthwhile to get out and meet real people.

Or at least provide them with real, physical outreach materials.

Many of your potential adopters will likely be older individuals—meaning they’ll probably have more reasons to seek healthcare, but less of an inclination to communicate digitally.

The key is to meet prospects where they’re most comfortable. And, in some cases, they might be more responsive to a flyer in their mailbox than a message in their inbox.

As part of your broadscale market research, you should understand your consumers’ general profiles. Information surrounding demographics such as:  

  • where your prospect lives
  • how old your prospect is
  • whether your prospect has a family

And preferences like:

  • what services your prospect is looking for
  • what hobbies your prospect has
  • which businesses/organizations your prospect is attracted to

will help in brainstorming channels for interpersonal connection offline.   

If your practice is mostly local, you might want to explore partnerships with community centers (schools, gyms, houses of worship, etc.) or popular hangouts (bookstores, coffeehouses, theaters, and the like) to garner support. See, if any of these organizations are willing to host an evening of telehealth trials, a talkback with a neighborhood specialist, or a kiosk featuring telemedical literature.

However, if you’re looking to cast a wider net, these tactics might not be all that practical.

In fact, if you’re hoping to reach potential users on a massive or even national scale, inbound marketing shouldn’t be your only play.

You might want to go bigger: which means you might want to branch out.

The next installment in this 5-part series will cover useful tips for outbound marketing in telehealth and help acclimatize your practice to the world of external advertising.


This is the third of a 5-part series. You can read the others here: