How should you increase sales in the middle of a pandemic? By going back to the fundamentals. This ten-step checklist is a foolproof way to increase your sales no matter what the world outside is doing.Continue reading
I have never worked a day in my life without selling.
If I believe in something, I sell it, and I sell it hard”
– Estée Lauder (Josephine Esther Mentzer), Businesswoman, Cosmetic Company Co-founder.
Who owns the selling function at your company? Would you say it’s a particular person, or maybe a team? Would you say it’s you?
If you answer any of those things, you’re wrong. Well, you might be right—but you’re doing it wrong. Sales shouldn’t be the sole job of just one person in the company. If you’re doing it right, sales should be driven by everyone in the company. Whether it’s going to pitch clients, set up marketing campaigns or sales funnels, or just interfacing with suppliers or partners or even employees, everyone in your organization should be not just empowered to sell, but doing it naturally. That is the secret of building a truly great company.
Take Stripe, for example. Stripe makes a set of tools that make it easy for website developers to charge money from their customers. Hardly revolutionary, right? At first glance, it hardly seems evident that every engineer, every designer, every HR person at Stripe is not only equipped to sell Stripe, but is actually actively doing it day to day.
Yet that is what happens. Stripe is not only one of the most successful technology startups—if it were public, it would be worth more than Goldman Sachs—but it is universally adored. It’s the one company everyone in tech wants to work at. Yet they make “infrastructure”, which is high on the list of the most boring words ever. How do they do it?
The secret is their extremely strong mission and the culture they have built around it. Their mission? To increase the GDP of the internet. If that’s not ambitious, I don’t know what is. As a result, they draw to them all the internet nerds and people who believe what they believe: That the internet should power more of our lives and our economies. Many of those people are extremely smart and driven. But that still doesn’t explain how they get everyone in their organization constantly sell.
They can achieve that because of the unique culture they have created. It starts with picking the right people—people who are kind, smart, and genuinely warm and inspiring to others. Then they match it with a culture of collaboration and innovation that allows them to speed up the delay between receiving feedback from customers and executing a solution, called the OODA loop.
Combine the mission, people, and culture together, and you get an organization that is primed to constantly sell not only its products but sell its own story and mission, and inspire admiration far and wide. If you haven’t realized yet, this is the “good” kind of selling—the kind where people don’t even realize they’re being sold to.
So how can you replicate this in your organization? You don’t need to be a couple of Irish super-geniuses like Stripe’s founders to do it. Here are the concrete steps you can take right now to create a company that sells itself the same way Stripe does:
- Start with the why. Dig deep and figure out what overarching mission your company can be devoted to. Then ask the hard questions: Are you actually contributing much to that? Stripe’s mission works because it is believable. You can’t just make up a mission statement, slap it on your website, and expect it to get the same results. No: You need to embody this mission. If there are activities you’re engaged in that don’t serve it, take a close look at them to see how you could change them so that they do serve your mission.
- Communicate constantly about why your mission is a good thing. Stripe’s “increasing the GDP of the internet” is effective partially because they have done such a good job of making sure that every single employee understands not only how Stripe does that, but why it is desirable for society as a whole. Their reasoning is that if the internet has more GDP, life will be easier and more efficient, and economies will grow faster and be less wasteful.
- People who don’t clearly get and align with the mission, get rid of them. Simple as that. People who do, hire them.
If you do, you’ll create the kind of company that sells itself—because everyone in it is selling, all the time.
Shoutworks lets you leverage Amazon Alexa to sell, too. Wouldn’t it be cool to make sales through the Alexa devices sitting in people’s living rooms? It takes 5 minutes—try it free today.
“Either run the day or the day runs you.”
– Jim Rohn, American entrepreneur, author, motivational speaker, and mentor to Tony Robbins
To make a sale, whether it’s a big sale to one client or a smaller sale to many customers, you need to come prepared. It doesn’t pay to look unprofessional, even if you are making it up as you go. But when does the sale really start? When should you go from “prep mode” to “selling mode”? What does it mean to make the switch, and how can you prepare yourself better to make MORE sales with LESS effort?
The answer might surprise you. You see, most people would assume that the sale starts when the customer walks in the door, or when they first interact with your brand. Most people would be wrong. Here’s why.
The sale actually started when you woke up and decided to pursue this business in the first place. It started when you conceived of your brand and proposition. It started when you thought, “I’m going to provide this product or service.” Your brand is so much more than just your offer, some design, and some marketing copy. In order to sell in today’s marketplace, you have to not just HAVE a brand—you need to LIVE your brand. It needs to be authentic and consistent through every customer interaction.
So when does selling really start? Day zero. It’s already started!
1. We see 5,000 ads per day on average.
Gone are the days when you could create a sellable brand just by slapping on a logo and some nice copy. Customers today are extremely well-trained at spotting insincere or surface-level marketing. If you don’t embody your brand fully, people can smell it right away.
How did it get this way? Well, a big reason is the sheer volume of selling propositions each and every one of us is exposed to every single day. Back in the 70’s, the average person in the US saw 500 ads per day—mostly on billboards, TV, and newspapers. Nowadays, people see on average more than 5,000 ads per day. That’s insane! Think about that for a second: That’s over 300 ads per waking hour. Every single consumer in the market is exposed to this, every day of every week of every month of every year for the past 5-10 years. And that number will only increase in the coming years.
This is the firehose we are all drinking from, all the time. Your selling proposition is just a drop in that torrent. So how can you ever hope to actually reach a customer?
2. Authenticity sells.
The answer is, strangely enough, to be real. One of the main results of this state of affairs is that consumers are now completely immune to traditional selling propositions. The only propositions that break through the noise are the ones that speak to consumers in a language they recognize as different, as more important, as more real. The only way to sell in 2020 is to be authentic.
Sounds like a great buzz-phrase, but what does “be authentic” mean in practice? It means that your brand has to go deeper than just your marketing. It has to be baked into every cell of your product, marketing, and company. And then you have to find ways to tell customers about it that is authentic to who you are as well. In order to break through the noise, you need to be able to truly connect on a human-to-human level. How do you do that at scale, in all your sales?
First, your company has to be truly different. Your mission has to drive what you do, not just in that “oh yeah we have a mission” kind of way, but in the authentic, “this is what gets me out of bed in the morning” kind of way. Selling furniture doesn’t get you out of bed? Same! But enabling people to enjoy the space they live in—that’s something I could get excited about.
3. Live your mission.
That’s why selling really starts on day zero. It starts when you define what you’re doing and why. Once you do that in a way that is authentic to you and what you believe in, then you can build a proposition, and a company, in a way that aligns with your mission. Then and only then can you reliably sell to a customer base that has seen every trick in the book thousands of times over.
After reaching the “advertising saturation point”, the only true growth hack is living your mission.
By the way, it’s never too late to take a step back and redefine your proposition. You will have to make some hard choices. You will have to let go of some of your favorite predispositions and techniques that worked in the past. But what worked in the past doesn’t work anymore: We’ve all seen it too many times. It doesn’t work anymore to just appear different; nowadays, you have to actually BE different. Start today!
If you’ve started down the path of living your mission already, here’s an effective new way to communicate about it and find your tribe: Engage your tribe through Amazon Alexa. Shoutworks lets you create a custom Alexa skill for your business in one click, right from WordPress. Try it for free today!
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”
– Walt Disney, American entrepreneur, animator, writer, voice actor and film producer
A lot of us cringe a bit when we think of sales. No one wants to be the hard-driving, overbearing, used-car-salesman type.Continue reading
Whatever your goal, you need a website. Have a side project in the works and want to get the word out? Or thinking about re-doing your current website? Nothing refreshes the look and feel of a site like a modern, sleek WordPress theme.
I know you don’t want to break the bank, either… So check out these WordPress themes that are on sale! You just might find one for your next project.
All of them will work well with Shoutworks, not to worry. Happy theme hunting!
Need WordPress help? Here’s what we tell people who need WordPress help: Go to Codeable!
Codeable is the only WordPress-exclusive freelancer platform with vetted experts. Codeable helps customers tackle any WordPress project by matching customers with the best-fit experts who:
Are focused on quality – 4.95/5 average project rating.
Offer free estimates, with no obligation to hire, 100% risk-free.
Can help with one-time or ongoing WordPress projects of any size.
When you want a new website, it can be overwhelming to look at the sheer number of different options you have. There’s WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, etc… and then you have to think about all the possible ways to get the website to do what you want it to do. It’s dizzying.
It doesn’t have to be. Let’s simplify things.
Chances are if you’re reading this, you’ve already decided to go with WordPress. And it’s a great option: It’s not only the top website builder in the world, powering 35% of the internet—but it’s also the fastest-growing, which just shows the strength of the WordPress community.
Great, so you’re using WordPress. Now what?
1. Hosting: Your best option
Hosting is your first big question. It might seem like there are unlimited options here, but there are really only two: Do you want cheap hosting that can be slow and that lacks support when you need it, but that saves you money? Or do you want WordPress-optimized hosting that gives you a blazing-fast, modern site, exceptional support when you need it, and ultimately saves you hours of headache?
Well, you can tell we might be biased. But in our book, the best way to start out is to go with a hosting provider that is WordPress-specialized and focused on adding value, to make your life easier—especially if you don’t want to be hiring expensive developers down the road. So here’s our recommendation:
Get 4 months free on any hosting plan with WP Engine. But hurry—this deal is only available in the month of August!
2. Theme: Optimize for the latest tech
Once you’ve got your hosting plan set up, the next step is choosing a theme. Many themes are very popular and look great, but only a few have caught up to the latest developments in the WordPress world.
The biggest recent change to WordPress is called Gutenberg–a complete redesign of how you create and publish pages and blog posts on your website. When choosing a theme for your site, be sure to get one that is designed to work well with Gutenberg, or else you’ll have to install another plugin or two just to make your theme work. Here’s our recommendation:
Genesis Pro is Gutenberg-optimized, which means you will shave hours off the time it takes to build your sites. Plus, it’s built and supported by the WP Engine team—so you know 1) it’s going to work extremely well together with your hosting setup and 2) it’s going to be around a while!
There you go, that’s all you need to start building your perfect website. And then you can start using the Shoutworks WordPress plugin to engage people through voice, too!
Have you ever lost your keys, or something else important? We’ve all been there. We all eventually find our keys again (in the last place we looked!). We swear not to lose them again. But a few years go by, we forget about the incident, and we let our guard down bit by bit—and we’ll lose our keys again.
Passion works in exactly the same way. If you think that you can put it on autopilot once you’ve found your passion, you’re wrong. That’s not the point! Life is better in many ways with your passion in it, yes—but like all important things in life, your passion has to be maintained and nurtured. If you do keep it alive, however, you will reap the benefits for life.
Just like in a relationship, you have to keep investing in order to continue to see continued results—you can’t rest on your laurels! But the good news is that if it is truly your passion, you won’t find these simple steps difficult to take.
Here are three simple ways to keep your passion going strong even through the hard times, so its rewards compound long-term in your life.
1. Make time for your passion
Sometimes, life just gets in the way. But when it comes to your passion, it’s not going to continue to thrive and develop unless you give it the time of day. Take a look at your calendar. Block of certain sacred blocks of time that you will devote exclusively to your passion. When the time comes, don’t put it off! Dive right into the activity itself. Even if it doesn’t feel exactly right, just go through the motions. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can get back into the groove.
“I don’t have a predictable schedule,” you might say. “I can’t plan ahead like that.” If this is the case for you, then yes: You have it harder than others who can plan. However, this doesn’t let you off the hook. Instead of setting a specific time in your calendar, you need to set a minimum number of hours per week spent on your passion, and give yourself several options for how to complete it. For example, if you want to spend at least 10 hours a week on your passion, you can split it into 2 hours per day for 5 days, or you can do 5 hours for 2 days. See what I mean? Just because your schedule is unpredictable doesn’t mean that you can’t make time for something that’s important to you. You just have to adapt.
2. Get buy-in from the people in your life
It can be much harder to continue pursuing your passion if the people in your life don’t approve or don’t really care about it. If you care about it so much, and they care about you, they should care about your passion, too! The key here is to get them bought in to you pursuing your passion. Even if they don’t care about it as much, they should want to see you happy and thriving. If they don’t want that either, well, then there are some other issues to deal with. Deal with them. Support the other person in their passions too! Show them what it feels like to have support in pursuing something you’re passionate about. That will help them to conduct themselves the same way.
At the end of the day, when you have the support of your loved ones to pursue your passion, it can make things worlds easier. This is not a step easily skipped if you want your passion to last through life’s ups and downs.
3. Always have a goal to work toward
The ultimate way to keep the passion alive is to keep working toward something. Even if you attain your goal, create a new one, and work towards that! There is nothing as motivating as the ability to keep improving, continuously, day after day, week after week.
For instance, let’s say your passion is tennis. If you don’t play professionally, it can seem like there are no goals, no rules, nothing to compete in and nothing to really motivate you to keep moving forward with it. But that’s not true. Isn’t any domain, tennis included, full of ways to improve, ways to move forward, new levels to attain? You could improve your serve speed, for instance—that will get you out practicing your serve each week. You could find a player who is better than you and try to improve your score against them each time you play. You might even start to beat them!
There is nothing more satisfying that leading a life of continuous learning, continuous improvement, and continuous growth. Plus, you get to have an ever-evolving relationship with something that you love to do. The hard thing for some to wrap their heads around is that they won’t always have the same relationship to their passion that they started out having. But that’s kind of the point. This is an epic adventure you’re on, not a static story played on repeat. Things will change, and you’ll change with them. But I promise you that if you take an approach of continuous growth, you will discover new and untapped sources of joy from your passion as you go.
By the way, there’s a new and untapped source of engagement with your audience you should know about. You can now inspire people with your passion through voice assistants like Amazon Alexa—and Shoutworks makes it super easy. Just hook it up to your WordPress site, click publish, and Alexa will be telling the world about your passion and the journey you’ve been on along the way. Try Shoutworks free right now!
This is the third article in our series all about passion and its role in living. Read the first two articles in the series:
- Is Personal Passion Our Real Energy Source? Here’s Surprising Proof
- Is Finding Your Passion the Key to Happiness? Here’s How to Start
When you’ve defined what you do and don’t like, you’re almost there. You are close to being fully confident to let your passion fulfill your life.
Wait wait, slow down! This is where many people hit speed bumps—and they hurt. In this article, we will discuss a few things to look out for to make sure you can truly lead your life with passion in a sustainable way, and succeed doing it.
1. Falling into the “grass is greener” trap
This is our first common trap. So you’ve done the introspection, you’ve identified something you love to do—like computer programming, knitting, or writing—and you are ready to make it your full-time career. Many people start down this path and after a while, their passion starts to lose its spark. They are losing the boundless energy they once had to engage in their passion. They realize that pursuing their passion full time is actually ruining their enjoyment of it. They loved it way more when it was just a hobby!
For example, let’s say you love to write stories. You’ve decided to shift your whole life around trying to become a writer. A few months in, you start to lose the energy you used to have when writing. You have two options: Find another way to get motivated in your writing, or go back to doing something else full-time so you can enjoy writing again.
This trap can easily be avoided by building in a “trial period” at the beginning of any big lifestyle change. Take a one-week vacation and just try to write the entire week. Still like it afterwards? If yes, you can be much more confident that your passion will stick when you take the dive.
2. Being sunk by loneliness
You might be doing something you love, but if you’re doing it all alone, day after day, you are going to get burned out. I don’t care how much you love something, if there is no one to share your love with, then a lot of the reward can feel hollow.
There is a simple way to remedy this one, too: Find and connect with people who share your interests! I know I said “simple”, but that doesn’t always mean it’s easy. You might not feel comfortable sharing your work with people, for instance. Or you might not know where to find others interested in the same things. But chances are, you already know where people like you hang out. Go there, and contribute to the community! Be a part of things. Share your work, and help people with theirs.
You’ll be amazed by the amazing community you can build if you just take simple steps each week to reach out and start to build relationships. If you already have some relationships in your area of interest, don’t let them lapse! I know it can be easy to get lost in the work, but you’ll be happy and grateful there are others who “get it” as much as you.
3. Misaligned short- and long-term goals
This is the most sinister of the passion speed bumps because it can be so hard to see, so that you often don’t know you’ve hit it until it’s too late. That’s why it is imperative to keep in mind as you consider jumping into your new life of passion.
Often, passionate people can get so carried away with how great it feels to produce their day-to-day work that they forget to look up once in a while to look at the long term. The classic example of this is the artist who shows zero business sense. They got into art in order to do art, not to do business. So they end up producing a lot of work, but not doing enough to earn money from their passion—so they end up getting distracted from their work when money matters go south. But if they took just a few hours a week to focus on long-term, practical goals, they might find themselves in a much better position to focus on their art long-term.
The key to avoiding this one is to keep the long-term top-of-mind. Think hard about what your long-term goals are, and be sure to schedule sacred time every week to focus on them. Otherwise, you might let them slide… and you might not realize what has happened until you’re stuck in a pickle.
4. Disregarding health, wellness, and relationships
One of the saddest speed bumps we see is people who get so absorbed in their work that they ignore the things that matter most in life. It can be so easy, amid the day-to-day rush, to put off preparing a healthy dinner, going for a run, or calling your family and friends—there’s just one more thing to do!
But if you get into a pattern where you find yourself doing this repeatedly, it might be a sign that you need a break. Your body, mind, and social support network are the platform on which the rest of your life operates. So if you make investments in the platform, everything else gains, too!
Put your health and relationships first, period. That’s the stuff you’ll remember when you’re 80 and looking back at your life. Believe me, there will be plenty of time for your professional accomplishments in between!
5. Undervaluing your work
Finally, this is the speed bump we see so many people hit who have just started pursuing their passion. When you’re passionate about something, enough to want to jump into it head-first, you’ve probably been inspired by a lot of people in your field. It can be easy to compare everything you do to them, and focus on how you come up short.
But remember: You’re just getting started. You have a long way to go, but isn’t that the point? If this is really your passion, you will love doing it for the sake of it, and you won’t worry about measuring up to others.
And if you’re setting your prices too low, stop it! You might know that you would do this work for free, but you still have to eat. Don’t let your passion get in the way of being paid a fair price for the product of your blood, sweat, and tears. The fact that you are so passionate about it likely means that you should be paid more, not less!
There you have it, the top 5 speed bumps to avoid as you start down the road to living a life of passion.
If you want to share your passion, we have the perfect way: through Amazon Alexa’s voice! You can connect with your audience in just a few clicks, right from WordPress—so you can get back to the work that really matters. Try Shoutworks free today.
There’s no question that voice search is a huge opportunity to get people to discover your site. But if you don’t act now, it could turn into a missed opportunity.
What used to be a “future trend” is now solidly here and relevant for 2020. 55% of teens and 41% of adults make at least one voice search per day. Fully 20% of all searches on Google are now voice searches.
And guess what? It’s not all on mobile phones. There’s also Amazon Alexa, which has sold over 200 million devices and has hundreds of millions of interactions weekly.
The thing is, websites are all text. How do Google, Alexa, or Siri choose what result to give the user?
Ultimately, there are 3 things you can do right now that will help you compete in this new paradigm and get discovered through voice search.
1. Optimize your content to answer questions the way people speak.
Give direct answers to real questions. Make sure you understand the intention behind the question, and take into account all the context involved. That way, you’ll give the best, most direct answer. This is where your FAQ page can come in handy. If your questions are phrased the way real people speak, and your answers are actually useful, you’re giving yourself a good chance of appearing on voice search results.
When crafting your answers, be sure to keep it relatively short and to the point. The average voice search answer is 29 words long.
Ultimately, it does help to rank in Google search already. In fact, 40% of voice search results come from the “snippet” that Google gives up at the top of search results.
2. Research what questions people are asking with voice
People searching with voice tend to ask their questions in natural language instead of using the abbreviated phrases more common from keyboards. So when you’re optimizing for voice search, you can get a competitive edge by using natural-sounding keyword phrases. Make it conversational. Use the full phrase, like “where is the best restaurant near me” instead of focusing on “best restaurant nearby” or similar more robotic-sounding combinations. This way, when someone asks a question with exactly those words, you’ll be among the first to come up.
One of the biggest opportunities in voice search is local search—“… near me” searches have increased by over 150%.
To succeed in voice SEO, you don’t have to beat out the best SEO strategists in the world. You might just have to beat out the people in your local area. That’s a lot easier!
Plus, this allows you to focus on so-called “long tail keywords”. Long tail keywords are those which may not be the most common, but because they don’t get as much traffic, they have less competition and are easier to dominate. For example, it will be hard to rank for the search phrase, “travel ideas Paris.” Instead, try to rank for the phrase “what are the cafes with the best view in Paris?” This way, when someone asks that specific question, you’ll be the first to come up. It might be a lower-volume search term, but you’ll win all the traffic from people searching for it. Do this with a few dozen long tail keywords and you will be sure to come out on top.
3. Create a voice presence on the platforms that matter
If your site ranks on Google search, then it is automatically gets pulled into searches that happen on Google Assistant, Siri, etc. But if you create a voice app for Amazon Alexa, the leading smart speaker assistant in the US, you can give yourself an unbeatable lead on voice searches that happen on Alexa. And Alexa is fielding hundreds of millions of queries every week from over 80 million households.
When a user asks a question, Alexa’s search algorithm first checks the list of published Alexa skills, and if she doesn’t find anything good there, she will default to search Google.
You want to be in the list Alexa searches first. One good way to get presented to people by Alexa is to create an Alexa skill that answers their question directly, and provides a satisfying answer.
You can create an Alexa skill in under 5 minutes with Shoutworks using your existing website content, no tech skills needed. All you need is the Shoutworks WordPress plugin, and you can give yourself a head start in voice search on this leading platform. Click here to try Shoutworks free.