My job is selling technology. Actually I'm more of a translator. I sell technology to other businesses and that's where things get weird. There is a bewildering array of tech out there and unfortunately many companies think technology sells itself and the value that the technology delivers should be obvious. Wrong. That's where I come in. I said I was a translator. My job is to translate techno babble into value that customers understand. This blog share my adventures with high tech sales. Selling high tech is fun so come join me on my sales journey!

Friday 30 November 2012

Using LinkedIn to promote ebooks

Yesterday I started a promotion of my Kindle book, Romancing The Sale by offering free downloads for 3 days.

It was moderately successful with 98 downloads from the USA, 40 from the UK and 1 from Germany. I did a free download promotion on the day I launched the book which was significantly more successful however interestingly although this was a much smaller number of downloads, it was enough to get me to a ranking of 1,050 in all books and #1 in the sales and marketing category. Previously I was around 7,000 so maybe people buy less books this time of year!

So how effective was using the social media aspect of LinkedIn?

The approach I used was to post a status update and encourage people I know to like the status update. I had 46 likes for my status post. The status post lead to this blog and in the blog was a link to the book on Amazon.  I used an Amazon affiliate account to track the Amazon views.

I had 98 visitors to the blog page outlining the offer and there was a link to the book there. The Amazon affiliate account showed I had 31 visitors resulting in 3 purchases - sadly none of them my book.

So 31 out of 98 people viewing the blog went to Amazon (32%) and zero downloads.

Free should eliminate risk but it shows even when risk is eliminated there is not 100% take-up.

Clearly I was getting downloads from somewhere.  I had set up announcements on about 20 of the ebook review sites such  as Pixel of Ink so it looks likely they were driving the traffic and not LinkedIn.

Interestingly I did discover LIKE and SHARE have different behaviours on LinkedIn.  I'm still not entirely sure what SHARE does as it is inconsistent.   Some people shared and it effectively spawns a new status post from them but not always....maybe someone can explain it to me.

So now to experiment number 2.  My day one experiment was a little convoluted with the blog in the way so today I have linked direct to the product on the LinkedIn status post.  Let's see what results that brings...

Wednesday 28 November 2012

FREE: Download Romancing The Sale for free

I am giving away my book, Romancing The Sale for free - well for 3 days anyway.

From Thursday 29th November 12 to Saturday 1st Dec you can download it for free on the Amazon Kindle store.

All I ask in return is that you place a review on Amazon when you have finished.

I've had quite a few people say they don't have a Kindle. You can still download and read it even if you don't have a kindle. There are Kindle readers available on iPhone/iPad,  Android and even PC.

Download Romancing The Sale

It has seven 5* reviews and one 4* review so I'm sure you won't be disappointed. Here's a sample review of the most recent review:

5.0 out of 5 stars A unique mix of tongue in cheek stuff with very serious no nonsence sales advice!, 24 Nov 2012
This review is from: Romancing the sale (Kindle Edition)
I must agree with many of the other reviewers - this is an original book which has some excellent advice within its (electronic) pages. The authors analogy to dating sounds a little cringey perhaps but stick with it - its well worth the read. Many people will resonate with this approach as they read through this book but there is also a very serious side to this work. It thus gives a unique insight into the world of sales and there's lots of facts and stories from the real world too. Highly recommended.       

Enjoy the book.  I'm busy working in my limited spare time on the sequel  Romancing The Sale: Word Chemistry  and a short free book on the mindset you need for start-ups.

On a different note I have been sharing my experiences of how successful  the different strategies for book promotion are, on my blog. I will share at a later date, the results of how effective free promotion and social media campaigns are.

Sunday 25 November 2012

Magic Words

This week I was lucky enough to see  Phil Jones presenting about Magic Words. Phil is an excellent presenter with a real flair for conveying simple yet powerful concepts.

His presentation pretty much covered the contents of his book Magic Words which I found very useful. The book covers simple psychology techniques to make your words have more impact.

I particularly liked the techniques for heading excuses off at the pass.  Phil used to lead the sales team for DFS furniture stores and they wanted to sell the coating to protect the material on the furniture as it was high margin.  The number one excuse why customers  didn't want to buy it was that "We never eat or drink on the furniture".  To solve this problem he used the "I bet you're a bit like me" technique.  He would frame the conversation using "I bet you're a bit like me. When you work hard you come home and you want to crash in front of the TV with a beer or glass of red wine. Maybe even some crisps and snacks".  The customers agreed they do this sort of thing.

Now when it came to selling the protective material coating they can't now say we never eat or drink on the furniture! 

A few of the ideas and concepts are covered in my book but there is enough novel content here. I will be experimenting with the techniques over the coming weeks and will report on success.

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Effectiveness of advertising to sell books

Following on from my earlier post on selling my book, Romancing The Sale, here are my experiences of using on-line advertising to promote awareness and ultimately sell copies of my book.

This was an experiment and I enjoy measuring the results of experiments so here are my findings.

Well it look like advertising is a waste of money and completely ineffective - at least when it comes to selling books. If you you are an author, I wouldn't recommend advertising as a vehicle to promote your book!

I set up a Google AdWords advertising campaign to display adverts to potential prospects for my book based on carefully selected keywords.

I had a selection of different adverts to measure which adverts achieved the best response rate.

My adverts were displayed a grand total of 58,000 times and I had 97 people click on the adverts. Just a 0.16% click through rate at a cost of £28 (approx £0.29 per click). My best advert has a 1.25% click through rate which is very high.

As my book is on Kindle I wanted to measure the conversion rate. The sales process by using advertising is:

Advert is display -> Attracted to the advert -> Clicks on the link -> Views Amazon page -> Decides to buy -> Add to cart -> Pays for shopping cart -> Purchase complete

Amazon doesn’t provide statistics on how many people have viewed your product page. The only stats are for purchase complete. I had heard that Amazon have an 80% shopping cart abandon rate and they are one of the better performers in the industry. Well my experience seems to back that up.

In order to measure the stage from my advert being clicked and eventually being purchased, I set-up and Amazon Affiliate account.  This enables me to see a little more detail once my prospect clicks on the advertising link.

So my 97 click throughs translated into zero sales on my book but interestingly it did sell other stuff which I will cover shortly. I'm currently selling an average of 1 copy of the book per day so these sales are clearly not coming from advertising but other activities such as social media and word of mouth. I have a big campaign sheduled for the end of November so I will be able to compare other marketing vehicles and their effect on sales.

I had originally assumed a 1 in 4 conversion rate to purchase. Let's assume my 97 clicks through is actually 100 click throughs.  I assumed of this 100 that 25 would decide to buy the book. Deciding to buy and actually buying are two very different things. Amazon's 80% shopping cart abandon rate means only 20% of people that decide to buy actually buy (good old Pareto yet again).

Based on my numbers, it would mean that I should have had 5 sales but I had zero.  Interestingly with an Affiliate account you can see what people did buy and I had 4 consequential sales - someone bought a nice sofa and the other 3 bought books (not mine). One person bought a how to book on murder which is a little different to my Romancing customers.

Although it is interesting that I created consequential sales it doesn't achieve my primary goal of selling my book.

So what would it take to sell one book through advertising?

I think my original 1 in 4 conversion rate should be 1 in 5 (20% again) since this would match the 4 resulting sales. However the additional sales step is important. There is a decision to buy something and there is a decision to buy my book.  I think Pareto kicks in again and only 20% of those that decide to buy decide to buy my book - the rest decide to buy something else like a new sofa.

So to sell one copy

1 @20% = 5 people who actually buy something
5 @20% = 25 people who  decide to buy something
25 @20% = 125 people who are looking to buy something
125@0.16% = 78,000 adverts need to be displayed

So I need 125 people to click on links in order to achieve 1 sale. Assume 30p per click, this means spending £37.50 to achieve one sale! I need to increase the price of my book to make this viable!

I'm now abandoning my AdWords campaign since it is clearly not effective.

I am now experimenting with the LinkedIn advertising to see if that it more effective. It wasn’t very effective in the past on other campaigns I've run.   I'll share the results in the near future.  So why LinkedIn.  Google doesn't have user profiling - the adverts are displayed based on keyword triggers. LinkedIn has excellent user profiling so my adverts can be displayed to my target audience.  In this case I am restricting it to show to people in the UK and North America that have the word sales in their job title and have specified a skill of either complex sales, professional sales or relationship based selling.