Promise to be the last post on this. But I though you would like Verne’s Insights from his own Summit. Here Goes.

“WARNING: below are some “aha” nuggets from the Fortune Sales & Marketing Summit, however, please don’t construe these as a complete summary, as in “is that all they learned?” Space limits me to a few simple, yet hopefully, useful ideas.


Biggest Sales & Marketing Mistake — in proposals, on websites, in emails, during conversations — the biggest mistake is talking too much about your own company — your history, your products/services, features, benefits, people, and capabilities. See if you are doing this. More on this below.

Inexpensive Corporate Videos — According to Forrester Research, video is 53 times more likely to be on the 1st page of Google. Bettina Hein, founder of Pixability used a simple Flip camera to produce a 2 minute summary video of the summit, a few key nuggets shared. She then showed everyone at the Summit how to do something similar, info you can find on her website.

40% No-Decision — this metric has been on a steady increase, notes Jeff Thull, author of Mastering the Complex Sale. “It indicates that your biggest competitor is not another firm, but customers deciding they don’t want to purchase a solution like yours from anyone. They just don’t see the value in what you do.” This is why 50% of the selling process must be spent establishing the value of your solution through a Diagnostic and Discovery process. Most sales people don’t want to take the time. But if they do take the time, it reduces the overall time to close a sale by 42%. Read Jeff’s book.

Always Be Leaving — Thull (pronounced ‘tool’) shared several what he called “Key Thoughts.” One key thought is for sales people to “always be leaving” a conversation with a customer. For instance, the customer says “but your competition has a better solution for a lower price.” Rather than confront and defend, it’s better to say “the competition just might have a better solution and price. I just don’t know enough yet about your situation to know if that’s the case.” You never want to be verbally confrontational in a sale.

Top Four Blog/White Paper Titles — spend 40% of your time picking the right titles for your blog posts, videos, or the white papers you publish on the web. Brian Halligan, CEO of HubSpot and author of Inbound Marketing, had us construct four impactful titles. Keys: 10 words or less so Google doesn’t truncate; always include the key words your customers use to search for your products and services; and make it catchy like the headlines of a newspaper or CNN.com. For example, one of his employees is an Olympic athlete, so rather than title a white paper “Growing your business” she might title it “An Olympic Athlete’s 8 Internet Marketing Tips” — internet marketing tips being the three key words and Olympic Athlete being the catch.

Five Rules for Readability — Tom Sant, author of Persuasive Business Proposals, shared five rules for making anything you write more readable — and Microsoft Word can automatically tell you if you’ve met four of the rules: short sentences (ave. 17 words or less); short words (average 5 characters or less); 10th grade reading level or lower; and less than 10% passive voice. I’ve been writing for years and never knew about the “Readability Statistics” tool in Word. The fifth rule is no fluff, guff, geek, or weasel words in your writing.

Readability Statistics — Press F1 while in Word to pull up the Help/Search menu and search for Readability Statistics. Follow the instructions to turn on the feature. The only confusing part of the instructions is the “Word Options” choice is at the bottom of the right hand column of the main Word pull down menu. Once the feature is activated, you have to actually manually check the Spelling and Grammar of your document once (under the Review menu) and at the end of the process the summary pops up. Cool feature — I’m at a 9.7th grade reading level, 4.7 characters per word, 20 words per sentence, and 2% passive voice for this insight. I was higher on all these statistics and made adjustments.

Biggest Mistake in Losing Proposals — talking about your company! Most winning proposals don’t mention the name of your own company until the 2nd or 3rd page of an Executive Summary. The first page should outline the customers pain/situation and the measurable results they’ll achieve if they purchase your solution. Same goes for your website, emails, and initial conversations with potential customers. Read Tom’s book.