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Transcript of How Reducing Friction Increases Revenue

Transcript of How Reducing Friction Increases Revenue written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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John Jantsch: This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by SEMrush. It is our go-to SEO tool for doing audits, for tracking position and ranking, for really getting ideas on how to get more organic traffic for our clients competitive intelligence, back links and things like that. All the important SEO tools that you need for paid traffic, social media, PR, and of course SEO. Check it out at, and we’ll have that in the show notes.

John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Roger Dooley. He is the founder of Dooley Direct. He’s an author and keynote speaker and he’s got a new book called Friction: The Untapped Force That Can be Your Most Powerful Advantage. So Roger, thanks for joining me.

Roger Dooley: Well, thanks for having me on, John. I’m excited.

John Jantsch:  Let’s start with friction. The word friction, I mean for a lot of people that’s kind of a bad thing. I mean, friction in science is … causes drag, friction in business makes it hard to buy. You’re proposing that it is somehow and advantage.

Roger Dooley: Well if you … it is usually a bad thing, but that means that if you can eliminate it, you will have an advantage over your competition. I mean if you look at what Amazon has accomplished in the last 20 years, much of that has been by reducing friction. Back in 1997, Jeff Bezos was talking about frictionless shopping when most companies were just thinking about getting serious about being online. And throughout the years he’s made that just a point of relentless emphasis. Even things like packaging. About 10 years ago they saw the customers were struggling with these packages. Like if you go to Walmart, buy a product, it’s probably in one of these plastic blister packs. But you see the product and they look nice, they prevent theft because they’re hard to put in your pocket and walk away with, but they’re difficult to open. You may need tools, you may injure yourself by stabbing yourself with sharp plastic. And so they said, “Hey, we can eliminate that.” And they created frustration free packaging. And not only did people like the packaging, the reviews on those products improved. They had 73% fewer negative comments just from that change in packaging. And so eliminating friction can be a big competitive advantage. It isn’t just big companies because often big companies are the slowest to respond. So a smaller company that sees how they can make things a little bit easier for their customers can get that advantage.

John Jantsch: Yeah. And I must admit that my wife will be reading a magazine and she’ll say, “We should get this and,” and it says the website and all that stuff, and I go straight to Amazon and see if they have it because I know it’s going to be really easy for me to get it.

Roger Dooley: Well you and me both. John, just a few years ago, my loyalty to Amazon was tested because up to that point, in Texas, they were not charging sales tax. Then they worked a deal with the state where they would be charging sales tax, which meant that all of my Amazon purchases immediately had an 8% price increase. And I assumed that my behavior would change because of that. In fact, it changed almost not at all. And because of what you’re saying. It’s just so easy, why would I want to go someplace else, deal with setting up an account to have some sort of uncertain shipping process where they say it’s going to be seven to 10 days and … when I know with one click I can get it from Amazon and it’s going to be my doorstep 48 hours later without fail.

John Jantsch: So you mentioned the bigger companies, it’s harder. Some of that can just be the practical nature of making change is harder period. But do you think it has anything to do with that a lot of times friction is felt by a customer, but not necessarily expressed? They may not even realize that their shopping cart is hard to operate.

Roger Dooley: Right. Well, many times customers can’t articulate that there is a problem. It’s only when they see somebody doing it better. I mean, look at the taxi industry. For pretty much our entire lives, we dealt with taxis as something that was a pretty good way to get around, generally better than the bus or the subway and worked reasonably well. And it wasn’t until Uber came along and showed us how every element of that process was full of friction from getting the cab in the first place to getting out of it and paying. They eliminated all that and suddenly it’s like, wow, none of us really saw that before, but now we could. So yeah, I think what businesses have to do, whether they’re large or small, is kind of look at their processes from a third party point of view. Instead of saying, “Well, this is how it’s always been done,” or “This is how our competitors do it and we’re actually a little bit better than our competitors,” for one, you have to compare yourself to Amazon and to Uber and say, “Okay, is my experience as good as theirs? And if not, can I move my experience in that direction?”

Roger Dooley: So it’s just important to focus and also to observe customers. I bet you’ve had the same happen, John. You’re on a website or you’re trying to accomplish something and you just can’t figure out what to do. And you’re wondering, did the people who created this website or this app ever actually watch somebody try and go through it for the first time? Because you’re perplexed and you’re struggling and you’re clicking stuff. And I think the answer is in many cases, they have not watched users go through it. They have an idea of what the users or customers want, or will do, or how they’ll behave, but they haven’t actually watched them doing it. And that’s so critical.

John Jantsch: And I think the one thing that a lot of people underestimate too is that … if you used the taxi example. I mean you and I just tolerated it. We didn’t like it, but we didn’t necessarily think we had a choice or that it was even a problem per se. It was just the way the world is. And I think when you watch, what happens a lot of times is that next generation comes along and goes, “This is nuts.” We’ve been doing it, so that’s all we know. But they’re new to it and all of a sudden they’re like, “Why would anybody do this?” I have millennial age children that are so funny to watch how little they will tolerate from a website because they just, that’s not how they feel like the world should work. And they’ll go find somebody who gets it. I mean, because they don’t have that same sort of loyalty, I guess is what I’m getting at.

Roger Dooley: Right. Well, it’s not even so much loyalty. It’s that they realize how simple and powerful experiences can be. I think a good example of businesses that really don’t get it are cable providers. I have an internet cable provider and I have a satellite TV provider and they both kind of fall into that category of not getting it, making their experience really high friction. On Amazon, I can look at anything I bought in, I don’t know, 10 years, 12 years, beats me. I can go back as long as I want and see every order I’ve placed. On my Internet provider, I can only go back six months. So when I go to do my tax and say, “Okay, well I need those bills for that purpose,” then it’s not there. And you say, well why would a business design an interface that would only let me look at the last six months? Now that makes no sense. But unfortunately businesses say, “Well, hey, why would a customer want that, or we’ve done it this way, it’s been fine.” And they don’t have necessarily anybody that’s forcing them to do it any better.

John Jantsch: Yeah. And that’s actually a great feature of Amazon though. Have you ever done this? You buy a book and they go, “Whoa, you know, you bought this book two years ago,” and I go, “Oh, okay. So it’s on my Kindle. Nevermind.”

Roger Dooley:  Yes. I personally have never had that experience, John. But I have heard from people who have. It happens to me all the time saying, “Ah, book looks interesting,” and “Oh, damn, I bought that, I’ve got it on my shelf somewhere. I better go find it.” Yeah, it’s great. And I think that is an example too of a business that is putting its customers in the forefront because there are certainly some businesses out there would say, “Ha, that jerk just bought that for the second time.” Where Amazon wants you to have a good experience and they know that eventually you might discover that you bought it once, you already had it, and either you’re going to return it or you’re going to feel stupid because you have two copies now and they help you prevent that.

John Jantsch: And I think you just touched on where this starts, right? It’s not just about how can we make this website faster, easier to use. I mean it really kind of starts with what you just said. How can we make sure that our customers are having a great experience? I mean that’s what sort of turns you into the detective to go looking for this stuff, isn’t it?

Roger Dooley: Yeah. And I think just jumping back to taxis, if somebody had just, say taken a video of the taxi experience, you could look at the particularly, I don’t know, I’m sure you get to Europe occasionally and like to pay for taxis by credit card there. If I have to take a taxi and … because Uber isn’t available because it’s illegal or something. And inevitably what you see is the driver first saying the machine’s broken. And then you say, “No, I don’t have any cash.” So you got to use that. And so, okay, they reach under the seat, they pull out this a clunky machine trying to establish an Internet connection, get your card, wait for the thing to print out. And then they’ve got to print out and sign it and they’ve got to reenter it. It’s this horrible process that takes minutes. And if someone just looked at that, they could say, “Well, can I imagine a way in a perfect universe where I could eliminate this?” And it wouldn’t be that difficult to come up with multiple ways of eliminating that process, but it took this really disruptive company to come along and actually do it.

John Jantsch: And I suspect because you pay attention to this stuff that I can envision you across the counter from a young clerk who has a very … a process that is riddled with friction and doesn’t make any sense to anybody. And you point it out to them and they say, “Well that’s the way we do it here. Or that’s how we’ve always done it here.”

Roger Dooley:  Yeah. Or they say, “Yeah, no kidding. We’ve complained about this, but they won’t do anything about it.” More often than not, people inside the company can identify it as friction, but they are unable to get it fixed. And to me the important thing is that businesses develop a friction aware culture so that their employees are sensitized to look forward in the customer experience. But even in their own experience, because oh, there is a huge amount of money, in fact there was a Harvard Business Review article that estimated that $3 trillion a year is wasted in US businesses by what they called organizational drag. Used the word drag just in the intro. And organizational drag is what they call all the time that’s wasted by bad processes, dealing with email that you shouldn’t have to deal with, meetings that served no purpose, or all this waste of time in organizations is a $3 trillion problem. And so businesses that develop this friction awareness will not only improve their customer experience, but they’ll improve their internal experience. And that’s great because the team members themselves do not enjoy wasting your time. They’ll be more engaged if they feel they’re working on stuff that is important or is helping a customer, as opposed to doing stuff that is really serving no purpose other than the fact that they’ve got to do it.

John Jantsch: Yeah, I read a survey, this is going back at least a decade, maybe longer, and it was a giant Gallup survey talking about what made people happy at work. And you would think it would be that they felt challenged and they were paid well, and the number one thing was that they had the tools that allowed them to do the work effectively. So essentially, processes and equipment, and tools, and things are of part of that that causes friction, isn’t it?

Roger Dooley: Yeah. And there’s a lot of work that’s been done on work and motivation and having that work directed in a productive creative way is one key metric. Dan Ariely he did some really interesting work and wrote a short book called Payoff about that, but where they would have people assemble Legos under different conditions. In some cases, immediately after the person assembled the Lego, the experimenter would tear it apart in throw the pieces in the box. Needless to say, the people that had that experience were much less motivated to build more Legos even though there were being paid the same as folks where their creation was not destroyed.

John Jantsch: So you mentioned this friction awareness. I’m just trying to envision, how does, where does somebody go looking for it? Where does it hide, how did you … if I’m listening to this and I think, “Okay, I’m not aware of huge friction,” where do … how do I find it? How do I create this awareness culture?

Roger Dooley: Well, by reading the book for one, but no seriously John. I think that just looking for examples of it, becoming aware of it. It’s sort of like if there’s a background hum noise, which hopefully there isn’t in this recording, but you generally might not be aware of it. But if you listen for that background, how many say, “Oh yeah, okay it’s there.” And friction is kind of the same way because we become just sort of used to it, like that taxi experience and every other experience like that. But if we start looking at it from a more of an absolute point of view and imagining better ways, then we start seeing it. I found that just if I do a talk where I spend maybe 30 or 50 minutes talking about friction, just that exposure will get people for the rest of the day yelling friction when they encounter some difficulty in the hotel or the conference center, something where there’s a line or some form they have to fill out.

Roger Dooley: So it’s really just sort of sensitizing yourself and then once you start seeing it, it’s pretty hard to stop seeing it. Which is in some ways, is kind of bad because you cannot cure all the friction that you’re going to experience, especially when you’re simply the customer and someone else is controlling that. And it can get you, gets me at least, a little bit cranky at times.

John Jantsch: There’s a line from The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I’m actually doing … my next project involves some of that literature. So that’s-

Roger Dooley: I was [crosstalk] going to say this is taken really literary turn [crosstalk]

John Jantsch: Yeah, I was going to say that that’s why this is right at hand and it was, “She had not known the wait until she felt the freedom.” And I think that really goes very directly to this. A lot of times we don’t realize how much we’re way down until we find this better way. And we were like, “Holy crap.”

Roger Dooley: Wow. I would have put that in the book, had I known that quote at the time, John, so I may still have to use that somehow. So thank you for that.

John Jantsch: And you talked about this thing actually called invisible friction.

Roger Dooley: Indeed. Not … to some degree, all friction can be a little bit invisible if we’re not looking for it. But there is another kind of cognitive friction where we … there’s no rational reason why something should be higher in friction, but it’s all in our brains. And it has to do with a concept called cognitive fluency, how easy it is for our brains to process something. And this affects our behavior in a few ways. If something is difficult to say or read, it seems more dangerous and risky. So when scientists ask people to rate the amusement park rides for how dangerous they were or risky, if they had a hard to say name, the exact same ride description was rated as to being more dangerous. Same thing for prescription drugs. Drugs that were hard to say were seen as more dangerous. But where the friction comes into play is that if something is hard for us to process, it seems more difficult.

Roger Dooley: There is another research project that found people were less likely to follow important medical instructions, now imagine that, medical instructions that are important for their health and perhaps their life, if those instructions were in a hard to read font and it wasn’t that they were so difficult that it was impossible to read. It’s just that when things are hard for our brains to process, even a little bit harder, they seem a little bit more difficult. At the University of Minnesota, they ran this great experiment that asked people how long it would take to perform a simple exercise. It just gave them two short sentences. Exact same text for two groups. One group saw it in a simple arial san serif font, so a very easy to read font. The second group saw the exact same instructions in a slightly harder to read brushy font. Still perfectly legible. You’d have no problem reading it. But the first group that saw it in the simple font said it would take eight minutes to do, the second group said it would take 15 minutes.

Roger Dooley: So what was happening there was that the difficulty in processing that information, the difficulty in reading, translated into difficulty in doing. And that’s really an important message for anybody who is designing websites or apps or print material. Anytime you’re asking somebody to do something, you want to make sure that those instructions are short, concise, easy to read, black on white, or something. And use the simplest font possible because the more difficult it is to read, the harder whatever it is you want them to do is going to seem and the less likely they’ll be to do it.

John Jantsch: Well, I know from a marketing standpoint, it’s pretty accepted logic that while you would think giving people lots of choices would actually make their decision easier, it really creates friction that you’re sometimes better off saying, “You want A or B?” And that’s about it.

Roger Dooley: Yeah, well, Barry Schwartz wrote an entire book called The Paradox of Choice that kind of zoomed in on that issue that in many cases, not in all cases, but in many cases, the more choice you have, the less likely you are to actually make a decision. And it varies, but there’s ways of dealing with that too. One is to just limit the number of choices. If you only need three plans, don’t offer people seven plans, because that may kick them into sort of an analytical mode where they end up making no decision at all. Guiding them to the most popular of the three plans is a great way to show, “Okay, there’s good, better, and best. Almost everybody chooses better.” At that point, that’s a really easy decision for most people to make. But if you’ve got a seven plans and it’s some have different features and they’re overlapping and that’s where it gets confusing.

Roger Dooley: So, but now Amazon has unlimited choice. If you pick any product, they probably carry just about every version of that product that’s available on the planet. But the way they help their customers is by providing a whole series of screens and filters and queues. So first of all, they will rank the products and the way they think that best fits your search. They will show you, “This one is a best seller.” They will show you, “This one is best rated.” They’ll show you that it’s got four and a half stars from 2000 reviews. And all of these things are cues to let you, hopefully, narrow down your choice really quickly and distinguish between two very similar looking choices. So they do just fine because for them, offering a lot of choice means that … you hear about a product, the first thing you do is check Amazon because you figure odds are they’ll have it, but then instead of just presenting you with a big massive products that you have to sort through, they provide you all kinds of tools to choose the right one.

John Jantsch: Now we’ve talked mostly about business, but you kind of wander into how friction shows up just in our lives, in our habits and things. I know that anytime I’m trying to lose a little weight, if I have healthy food sitting around, I will … and it’s easy for me to get, I will do a lot better job than if I have to actually work to get that food. So how does it play? How does friction play out in our habits?

Roger Dooley: Well, it is a very powerful force. I’ve read several books on this topic. My friend Art Markman from here at University of Texas, Austin is a pretty slim guy these days, but he had had a weight problem some years back and he found that his downfall was Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Those little pint containers that theoretically if you read the label, there’s, I don’t know, like four servings in there, three or four servings. But if you’ve ever actually just pulled one out of the freezer and started eating with a spoon, you find it’s really easy to polish it off in one sitting. You get down halfway and, actually you’re more than halfway at that point, and it seems like a small amount to put back in the fridge, right? So you just keep going and before you know it, it’s gone and you’ve added who knows how many calories into your daily diet.

Roger Dooley: His simple realization was if he did not have that in the house, he would probably not drive to the store to get it. So if he made that decision when he had the willpower for the future, saying, “Okay, I’m in the store. I’m not going to buy that because I know it’s bad for me and I know I’ll eat the whole darn thing.” Then he would not put up with a considerable friction of getting in his car and driving to the store to get it.

Roger Dooley: But going beyond that other habit change experts like James Clear and that BJ Fogg all talk about even just creating moderate friction. Okay, if you have potato chips in the house, don’t leave them out on the counter. Put them on a high shelf in the cupboard, put them in the garage maybe. And yeah, anything that makes it more difficult, even the smallest interventions can make a difference.

Roger Dooley: Some Yale researchers did a study for Google where Google provides free food, which is a nice benefit of working there. But people tend to over consume. And particularly things like sweets, candy, M&Ms, I mean they are something that your brain will taste, say, “Hey that’s pretty good, I want more of that,” and people will keep eating them. They found that just putting the M&Ms in an opaque container and moving a little bit farther away from the front of the shelf allowed them to cut a couple of million calories out of one office’s budget every month, which is pretty phenomenal. And very similar experiments in a cafeteria lines where putting the healthy stuff in front and the non-healthy stuff a little bit farther away. All of these things had measurable effects. And obviously the more friction that you had, the more profound the effect. In one case, in that cafeteria line, instead of just moving it to the back, they created a separate line for ice cream and soft drinks, stuff that you were not supposed to eat. And they found that in that case, it dropped consumption about 90% because most people did not want to put up with the hassle of going to another line, selecting their items, and paying for it separately. So it’s just however much friction you can add without creating a perhaps the rebellion.

John Jantsch: I’m chatting with Roger Dooley, author of Friction: The Untapped Forced That Can be Your Most Powerful Advantage. So Roger, tell people where they can find out more about your work and the book itself.

Roger Dooley: Probably the best jumping off point is I link to all of my stuff there, my blogs at Neuromarketing and Forbes, and have links to the books, of course. And on social media, I am on all of the channels, but I’m most easy to find on Twitter where I am @RogerDooley.

John Jantsch: Well, thanks for joining us, Roger, and hopefully we’ll see you someday out there on the road in a frictionless world.

Roger Dooley: Ah, if only that would happen, that’d be great. John, thanks so much for having me.

How Reducing Friction Increases Revenue

How Reducing Friction Increases Revenue written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Roger Dooley
Podcast Transcript

Roger DooleyToday on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I chat with author and keynote speaker Roger Dooley.

He is the founder of Dooley Direct, a consultancy, and co-founded College Confidential, the leading college-bound website. He’s been a serial entrepreneur since he left a senior strategy position at a Fortune 1000 company to enter the then-nascent home computer market.

He writes the popular blog Neuromarketing as well as a column at He is also the author of the upcoming book Friction: The Untapped Force That Can Be Your Most Powerful Advantage (McGraw Hill, May 17, 2019).

On today’s episode, we discuss why friction can cause problems for a business, and how smart leaders can identify and eliminate friction as a way to distinguish themselves from their competition.

Questions I ask Roger Dooley:

  • How can you reduce friction when you don’t know it’s there?
  • Where can businesses start when they want to address user experience issues in their business?
  • How do you reduce friction in a business with a culture that’s resistant to change?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • How a smaller company can get an advantage over the big guys by reducing friction.
  • What organizational drag is and the effect it can have on your business.
  • How you can use friction for good when looking to change negative personal habits.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Roger Dooley:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by SEMrush.

SEMrush is our go-to SEO tool for everything from tracking position and ranking to doing audits to getting new ideas for generating organic traffic. They have all the important tools you need for paid traffic, social media, PR, and SEO. Check it out at

What to Pay Attention to in Google Search Console

What to Pay Attention to in Google Search Console written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Are you using Google Search Console for your business? If not, now is the time to verify your domain so that you can dive into the mountains of useful data available to you through Console’s reports.

Because there is a lot of valuable data to sort through, it can be difficult to know where to start if you’re new to the platform. Don’t worry, I’m here to walk you through all the most important reports, filters, and numbers to pay attention to.

Search Analytics Report

You should get things started with the Search Analytics Report. This will give you valuable information about how your site performs in Google searches. You can slice and dice this data in a number of different ways, but these are the most important elements to consider.


Impressions measures how many times your site came up in a search result. Now, there are no qualifiers on this number—Google will count any appearance as an impression, even if your site was on the tenth page of SERPs and likely wasn’t actually seen by the searcher.

Still, this number can give you a general sense of how broad an audience your site is reaching, and it can help you set realistic goals as you try to get noticed by more people.


Clicks represent the number of times someone clicked on your website from the Google SERPs. This number can be a bit of a misnomer because Google doesn’t tell you about all of your clicks—they’re vague about why this is, but cite some privacy concerns. However, like with impressions, clicks can give you a general sense of interest in your website coming through search results.

Click-Through Rate

Click-through rate (CTR) is the number of clicks divided by the number of impressions. This number can help give you a sense of how relevant your pages are for certain search terms. A high CTR means that the title and description for your page are grabbing the attention of searchers. But don’t stress if you have a low CTR; because some impressions are for searches where you were on page 10 of results, this number is not always indicative of a poorly optimized meta description.


Position is all about where your page ranks in search results. Each page of Google’s organic results has 10 links, so if your position number is 10 or lower, that means your website is displaying on the first page of search results.

Search Query Report

The Search Analytics Report can help you understand how your site stacks up against competitors on results pages. The Search Query Report, on the other hand, helps you see how people are finding your site in the first place.

This report is valuable because it tells you the real-world terms, questions, and phrases that your pages are ranking for. Sometimes there are some real surprises in here, and knowing what customers are actually keying into Google can help you refine your SEO and even tweak your products and services to better address their real needs.

Go Landing Page by Landing Page

One of the major benefits of Google Search Console is that it allows you to break all of this data out by individual landing pages. You can see what search terms are ranking for each individual page, which is hugely valuable.

If you have a low CTR for a given page, it might mean a few things. Either your title and meta description aren’t compelling, your SEO is off and you’re ranking for a term that doesn’t really make sense for the query, or the term is general (and therefore competitive) and you need to find a better way to stand out.

On the flip side, a high CTR can tell you that you’ve struck gold. Maybe this isn’t a term you thought would speak to customers, but something about it is obviously resonating and getting results. Once you see the term that the landing page is ranking for, what else can you do to make the content on that page even more relevant to that search term? And are there ways to tailor other pages on your website to speak more directly to the intent behind this term?

Find and Fix Errors

The mobile usability and crawl reports on Google Search Console are also helpful for identifying issues with your website and making it more user-friendly.

Mobile usability allows you to see which pages on your site don’t perform well on mobile. Maybe elements are jumbled or the type is too small; whatever the case, the site is not well suited to smaller devices. Once you know that, you can make a fix (which is important, because the majority of searches today start on mobile devices).

The crawl report allows you to understand what Google sees when it crawls your website. Google crawls websites to learn what the site is about, and the information that they find on their crawl affects how you rank in their results. If your site is difficult to crawl, you could be falling behind on rankings even if your website content looks great to the human eye. Use this report to make your site as appealing as possible to the Google computers that are indexing websites to give your site the best shot at ranking well.

Google Search Console is one of the most powerful tools available to small business owners. Unfortunately, some are unaware of its benefits or are intimidated by the wealth of data it provides. However, when you know which reports to run and which numbers to look out for, it can completely transform your approach to SEO and marketing.

Weekend Favs April 27

Weekend Favs April 27 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you to check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from an online source or one that I took out there on the road.

  • Notifia – Access website plug-ins to help with lead generation and customer acquisition.
  • Rippling – Manage HR and IT systems all in one place.
  • Velox Commerce Question Suggestions – Enter a keyword to see question suggestions from real Google searches.

These are my weekend favs, I would love to hear about some of yours – Tweet me @ducttape

7 Reasons Why Proposal Software Will Boost Your Sales

7 Reasons Why Proposal Software Will Boost Your Sales written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

You’re probably well aware of how important business proposals are to getting clients and winning new business. If you’ve been writing a lot of them, you may have thought about investing in proposal software to make the process easier.

However, is proposal software really all that great compared to writing the proposals yourself? It turns out that there are quite a few reasons why you would want dedicated software for proposal writing.

It will make writing a whole lot quicker

Here’s the thing – writing isn’t as easy as it seems. For sales purposes, writing can be extremely daunting. If you’re great at closing sales, you don’t necessarily need to be a good writer. On the other hand, hiring a writer every time you need to send out a proposal (or having someone in-house) is just not practical.

Proposal software ensures you spend less time writing, as it comes with pre-made templates. Some apps, such as Better Proposals, come with templates for different industries, such as marketing or website design. All you have to do is fill in the blanks. Alternatively, you can create your own template based on a proposal that worked for you and edit the main information every time you create a new proposal.

By spending less time on writing, you will be able to spend more time learning about your clients and getting new leads.

Integrations make everything easier

One of the biggest issues with proposals in document format is that their use is very much limited. Modern proposal software comes with a range of different integrations that ensure your proposal is embedded into your sales process.

For example, you can pull data from your CRM into your proposal software, making it easier to fill out your proposal template. Moreover, your proposal will be added to the sales pipeline. Once the proposal goes out, you can integrate it with your project management tool to have a birds’ eye view of the progress of the deal.

In essence, integrations save you time, make creating proposals easier and let you be in full control of the sales process. If your chosen proposal software doesn’t have native integrations, you can hook it up with Zapier and the possibilities are endless.

You won’t have to worry about design either

Besides writing, another thing that sales professionals aren’t always skilled at is design. Who’s to guess which color goes well with blue and where you need to put your logo to make the proposal look aesthetically pleasing?

Proposal software eliminates this problem by giving you visual templates and all you have to do is edit the written content. Besides the general appearance, you can change font colors, headers, insert your company logo and much more.

Why does all of this matter? Proposals with a cover convert better than those without one. Even if you think appearance doesn’t matter, first impressions are crucial to getting your proposals signed.

Your proposals will be optimized for all devices

When writing proposals in word processing apps, you usually save them as text or PDF files. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always end up looking all that great. 34% of all proposals are first opened on mobile platforms. Proposal software makes all your proposals optimized across devices, so you make a great impression, no matter the device the client is using.

You can guide the client through the proposal

One of the recent developments in the world of business proposals is live chat. You can use a live chat app to communicate with the client as they are reading the proposal and answer any questions they may have. It turns out that it makes a difference – you’re 13.2% more likely to win the deal if you use this feature in your proposals.

You will get paid more quickly

For anyone working in B2B, you probably know the struggles with unpaid invoices. According to research, the average company has invoices unpaid for up to 90 days. However, it doesn’t have to be this way.

When research was done on over 180,000 signed proposals, the average proposal was paid about 12 hours from the moment it was signed. There are several reasons for this. First, you can pay directly from the proposal, which reduces friction and makes payment simpler and easier. Second, half of all payments (52%) were made through credit cards (using integrations with Stripe, Paypal and similar).

The remainder was paid either directly or through invoices. This means that a large portion of your clients may be delaying payment through invoices simply because they find credit cards more convenient – which is an option you can set up in your proposal software.

You will avoid the death trap of PDFs

It’s fairly common to send out your proposals as PDFs. It’s what your clients are used to – you just attach them and send out in your emails. The clients print them out to review them and hopefully sign. Well, research has shown that PDFs are the number one conversion killer for business proposals.

On a fairly large sample, we discovered that sending your proposal as a PDF means decreasing the chances of the proposal being signed by as much as 78%. It’s not that something is inherently bad about PDFs, it’s just they tend to get printed. And once a proposal gets printed, the likelihood of signing plummets. The reasoning behind this may be that a proposal printed on paper gets shared among several stakeholders, decreasing the chances of being signed.


There are plenty of reasons to incorporate proposal software in your sales systems. Not only will you write proposals more quickly, but you will also get paid more quickly, have your proposals optimized across devices, have the option of live chat within the proposal and much more.

If you’re still sending out proposals in PDFs as email attachments, it’s high time you jump on board the proposal software revolution – your business will thank you for it.

About the Author

Adam Hempenstall

Adam Hempenstall is the CEO and Founder of Better Proposals, simple proposal software for creating beautiful, high-impact proposals in minutes. Having helped his customers at Better Proposals win $120,000,000+ in one year only, he has launched the first Proposal Writing University where he shares business proposal best practices.


Transcript of How to Turn Your Product Idea Into a Business

Transcript of How to Turn Your Product Idea Into a Business written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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John Jantsch: This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by SEMrush. It is our go-to SEO tool for doing audits, for tracking position and ranking, for really getting ideas on how to get more organic traffic for our clients competitive intelligence, back links and things like that. All the important SEO tools that you need for paid traffic, social media, PR, and of course SEO. Check it out at, and we’ll have that in the show notes.

John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Jules Pieri. She is the co-founder and CEO of the Grommet and author of How We Make Stuff Now. So Jules, thanks for joining me.

Jules Pieri: Thanks for having me, John.

John Jantsch: So maybe not everybody’s heard of the Grommet. Let’s start there. Explain what the Grommet is, and maybe more importantly, why you thought the world needed it.

Jules Pieri: Sure, so every day at 10 a.m Eastern we launch and reveal the story of one innovative manufactured product from a small business. Along the way, we’ve come across some products that definitely have become household names like FitBit, and Soda Stream, Otterbox, S’well water bottles. And the reason we founded the company was that as retail got bigger and bigger it was becoming increasingly difficult for small companies to break in. At the same time, technology, even the internet alone, were making it possible for better products than ever to get created from small companies. So there was a misfit in the market and a big opportunity.

John Jantsch: So tell me this, are these companies already in business kind of trying to find their way, and you find them and give them a lift? Or, do you actually somehow partner a little deeper than that?

Jules Pieri: It’s all over the map. We look at three hundred products a week. Some are inbound, most are about to be in production, are in production, or just out of crowdfunding.

John Jantsch: With a name like Duct Tape Marketing, I get asked this question all the time, is there a name story? Why the Grommet?

Jules Pieri: Yes, [inaudible] the silly one is I love grommets, I love hardware. I would say that the more business-y reason, because that’s important too, is first of all, I’m pretty good at building brands and I think we can get definition to this word. It was a word that was easy to say that a lot of people didn’t know what it meant and I kind of like that.

Jules Pieri: For the second reason was that if people did know what it means, that it’s a piece of hardware like a tent and a tarp, the round silver thing. It would be like a wink to them because that would be people who might understand products and creating products.

Jules Pieri: And that third reason is that specific hardware is like a humble hardworking entity and that’s how I kind of saw our company. That we would be kind of surrounding these embryonic companies and protecting and helping them.

John Jantsch: Yeah I fall into the wink camp because I’m doing the skull at about nine thousand feet in the Colorado Rockies, and camping and tarps and all those kinds of things are really important to our livelihood.

Jules Pieri: Oh for sure. I’m very happy to have the wink person on the other end of the line.

John Jantsch: You know the term maker now kind of seems like it’s carved out its own space in business lexicon. How in your opinion is somebody who claims to be a maker different than somebody who claims to be an entrepreneur or a business owner?

Jules Pieri: Well first of all, a hundred and thirty-five million Americans claim to be a maker, and they’re not all entrepreneurs. So clearly it’s a broad spectrum from people who are just doing hobby projects in their garage to people who are going all the way through to becoming what we call a Grommet. Honestly it’s interesting you point out that it enters the lexicon because when we started business ten years ago I was struggling to find a word to describe these companies because brand didn’t cover it, manufacture didn’t cover it, inventor didn’t cover it, entrepreneur didn’t cover it, sure as heck wasn’t going to call people vendors. So we were sort of dancing around a word. We called them partners, but that’s kind of vague. And then this word started emerging and I watched it and waited to make sure it stuck and also that it was broader than craft or hobby. It’s even broad in that it be descriptive of software entrepreneurs, like people who make things, but for the most part it works for us.

Jules Pieri: I will say there are some Grommet makers who wouldn’t identify with the word because it sounds too crafty to them if they produce a tech product. But I can tell you I’ve been pruning in the soups for ten years, I haven’t seen a better word. I do like the word.

John Jantsch: Yeah and I think like you said it’s like a lot of things, you know. There are a lot of makerspaces I belong to. I do it because I’m trying to make some stuff I want. But a lot of people have businesses that they’re running out of those spaces. I think it’s just become more acceptable. It’s kind of like fifteen years ago self-publishing was still seen as a not-so legit way to get a book out there, and of course now it very much is.

Jules Pieri: Right, exactly. Right like people are doing it for themselves and whatever rooted us into creating.

John Jantsch: Do you run across dreamers in this business? In other words, Kickstarters out there, I’m just going to put my thing out there and I’m going to get fifteen million dollars because I saw somebody else do it, and it’s not that hard.

Jules Pieri: Well, a dreamer who stays at the dreamer level won’t succeed. I mean there’s nothing wrong with starting with a dream, but the tenacity and stick-to-itiveness and just the sheer organization it takes to run a Kickstarter campaign would quickly weed those folks out. They wouldn’t see things through to the end of a successful campaign.

Jules Pieri: And yeah we do see people who maybe don’t understand what we do, which is really the spotlight and amplification, and they’ll send us a concept and think we will build the business around it. And you know, it’s just a misunderstanding, but not everyone wants to do the work and it’s a heck of a lot of work. That’s a core reason why I wrote the book to help people do the work.

John Jantsch: Yeah and actually I should backtrack. You have to start as a dreamer or nothing’s going to become of it, but obviously like you said it’s the implementation that is really what differentiates.

Jules Pieri: That 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration is absolutely true.

John Jantsch: So we sort of weighted into this already, what are some of the common mistakes that you see this group of makers falling for?

Jules Pieri: Somebody asked me that because, whether or not someone reads a book, I want to hit off the biggest mistakes. The first one would be not accepting the market opportunity right up front. Really doing everything you can to shape and quantify the potential customers for your product and getting beyond talking to your friends and family who will all tell you your product’s a great idea. You want to find strangers in the hard, cold light of day who will be able to embrace your idea or data that shows the market for your idea. So I would start there because it’s heartbreaking to me if they want a full-time endeavor they’re not looking for a moonlight side gig, they really want to build a business, I like them to go after a big target so that they can have lots of shots and goals. Name the company after your vision, not your first product.

John Jantsch: No, I was just going to say even working with established companies on their marketing the first thing I’m going to know is what problem do they solve and I think sometimes that’s a really good place to start for a product, isn’t it?

Jules Pieri: Yeah, and keep yourself really honest there. Sometimes it’s hard to find the kind of data so you can’t always satisfy that itch and it’s one you should try. There is obviously a kind of data out there about just about any population or market, but sometimes if you’re on something super new it’s hard to find that data. But then you do your best to substitute that with your own labor to satisfy yourself, it’s worth pursuing.

John Jantsch: Yeah, some of the biggest hits have been people that created something that solved a problem people didn’t know they had until it was there.

Jules Pieri: Right, I would say this is a pretty good example. Now, it was hard to quantify the number of people who would want that data on their wrist or in their pocket. Exactly, the prior product would have been a kind of clunky speedometer that had no connectivity to a community or to a manufacturer to your phone. So it’s not a great comp, but it was pretty easy to assume that people were interested in fitness and that steps if they were captured in a convenient sort of waterproof, well-priced, good form factor way, that’s not a hard leap to assume that could be interesting. But some products are a harder leap.

John Jantsch: And the many duplicates are probably a testament to the popularity of that.

Jules Pieri: Yes, the second area though, you asked me for things to avoid. Name your company after your vision, not your first product because retailers like a full line of products and you don’t want to limit your own opportunities with your name. So an example outside of the product area would be TaskRabbit, which was originally called RunMyErrand. Now people think of TaskRabbit for just about anything, whether it’s a handy personal project or assembling IKEA furniture or picking up dog food, which was the original inspiration. And RunMyErrand is way too narrow and it’s expensive and hard to change the name when it needed to be changed.

John Jantsch: Yeah, good point. So one of the challenges I suppose is somebody creates a good product, maybe they raise the money in a Kickstarter kind of way, but distribution is really going to make the difference. I know that distribution, you know if you created say a board game and then you couldn’t crack the New York board game buyer, you weren’t going to get in the market. What’s the best path for that kind of maker to circumvent the traditional distribution channels?

Jules Pieri: Well, frankly that’s at the heart of why we started the business because there wasn’t a really good path in that. The traditional channels, by the way, are still powerful. Going to trade shows is still a very credible thing to do, I wouldn’t discard that. People still do engage reps who will present your product to retailers when they have the relationship. People still do some traditional trade advertising, but the downside of all that is it does kind of feel kind of 1970s in terms of we live in a digital world and everything I just described and looked at, it is not virtual, it’s showing up. So we try to crack that in terms of creating that community who give products the audience and visibility, and that just simply didn’t exist, we start the Grommet.

Jules Pieri: I will say social media was super important to me in starting a business. At first, it was Facebook, primarily a vehicle to climb that audience, and today I think the closest thing or the best route other than some of these I just mentioned would be Instagram. Instagram is pretty brilliant for if you can make the investment, it’s a serious investment, in great content and consistency. It’s the only thing I’ve seen that, kind of gist in the Grommet, this sort of universe of doing it for yourselves and finding the community directly. It’s a sophisticated platform so the imagery must be beautiful, the copy, the video, has to be on par with everything else there. But there are breakouts that happen there and certainly for anyone with a big budget you can master Instagram and all the social platforms. But assuming without a big budget it’s going to be more about sweat equity and putting in the time to create great content.

John Jantsch: But I’m glad you mention that though because I think a lot of people with all these digital channels, the promises there to reach all these millions of people, but I really think some of the most effective marketing is figuring out how to integrate some old school with some new school, and not necessarily depend on one or the other.

Jules Pieri: I would agree with that. It’s still true that, for instance, going to trade shows, there’s a million reasons why it’s helpful. It’s not just for finding buyers, they have showcases of innovative products and competitions, and Shark Tank like environments where you can get a lot of great advice and make great connections. You can walk the booths and not only see competition, but talk to people who maybe aren’t competitive but have cracked some manufacturing issues or packaging issues that you have ahead of you so you can get really smart really fast. It’s like this mini university under a horrible convention center roof.

John Jantsch: That cement floor is no fun either.

John Jantsch: So you already hinted at this idea that if you’re going to play on Instagram you’ve got to have beautiful images and content and whatnot. How often do people underestimate the role of design in the whole picture?

Jules Pieri: That’s like I’m a hammer and you’re a nail asking me that question because I’m a designer. Here’s the deal, whether you’re creating a package or creating a product or some piece of marketing communication, it generally costs the same amount of money to produce something bad as something good. The shortcut you take is the front of skipping the pro, it’s keeping the advice you can get from somebody who has done some of this work before, it’s a costly skip is basically what I’d say. There are very few products that can’t benefit from the designer, which they’re available at the other side of a few keystrokes on the internet in many cases. Certainly, good networking can lead to good designers, so I think it’s a super important investment and certainly consumers don’t overlook it. This is a key differentiator in products so I’m not sure why people would skip that step.

Jules Pieri: Here’s an example where it often gets skipped. Quite often when you’re offshoring and producing in another country there will be a proposal from the factory. You know, here’s your cost all in, they may offer to design product, they may offer to design the packaging, and quite often the results show that this effort was done by people who don’t understand the market you’re serving or don’t have the commitment that you have to quality or don’t even use the language the way you would use it, the materials you would use. So it feels like you’re saving money, right? Have this thing delivered all the way from wherever, but it’s an expensive ten dollars sometimes.

John Jantsch: I always say this to people, listeners have heard this from me before, but I frequently hear my kids when they’re looking, and they’re in their upper 20s-30s, and they’ll pass a company by, oh their website was terrible. The experience was not good. The design was so old school, not even looking into that company. So I think people, especially when that three-four seconds is all you’re getting, it makes a difference.

Jules Pieri: That’s a good point because that’s where what you just described exactly what your kids say is where this phenomenon of the direct consumer businesses like Warby Parker or Harry’s or Cas-Ker are winning because those companies understand that from the very first contact, whether it’s an Instagram post or website or return policy or ability to chat, these are companies that definitely get you in serving what you consider to be a modern experience, a customer-friendly experience. And I suit your aesthetic or your vibe or your values.

John Jantsch: Yeah and that’s why stories are such a big deal too. It’s not just the nice looking website, it’s the story too. So speaking of stories, do you have a favorite one you want to share from your thousands I guess now from the Grommet?

Jules Pieri: One that I think sums up the crazy extremes happening in the world that I’m living in with makers is we have a maker who created a product that is called the Negg and it is a way to at home, little tiny device, about the size of a cup, that peels a hard-boiled egg with a couple shakes. So it’s genius, it really works, and the entrepreneur who created it was a web designer, an entrepreneur who has a web designer consulting firm, and basically she saw a void in the market and went after it.

Jules Pieri: And so Bonnie, who needed to prototype the product, she had figured out how to do this essentially, she miniaturized what commercial egg peelers do for the home in a non-power device. And she signed up for a 3D printing course at her local library. So Bonnie shows up for this class. Now Bonnie, you’re probably going to be surprised to hear, is 76 years old. And she shows up for the class and the instructor walks into the makers space in the library, and the instructor is 11 years old, and therein is born the Negg. It’s made in Connecticut and a very, very successful product thanks to the meeting of those two generations.

John Jantsch: That is a great story and I have to tell you my own little story then. There was a little deli, just a one-two person place that was right around the corner from my office. I love egg salad sandwiches, they make great egg salad sandwiches, and one day she didn’t have anymore and she said, I just got tired of peeling the eggs. So I need to tell her about it.

Jules Pieri: Yes! Oh my gosh, yes. Exactly.

John Jantsch: That’s funny.

John Jantsch: Jules, where can people find more about the Grommet, more about you, but then also, How We Make Stuff Now?

Jules Pieri: Actually it’ll be a website with exactly that title, How We Make Stuff Now, and it talks about what’s in the book, I made a video about the book there, but also it is a great place for additional resources. I list out chapter by chapter the references in the book, but I’ve been adding them every week as I learn things after the publishing of the book. I’m going to keep that as a living document to help me personally.

John Jantsch: Awesome. Well Jules, it was really great to hear your story, great to hear about the book and the work that you’re doing. It must be really gratifying to see some of these folks that are struggling that you’ve really lifted up.

Jules Pieri: It feels like my life’s work and I’m really proud of it.

John Jantsch: Thanks for joining us. Hopefully we’ll see you out there on the road.

Jules Pieri: Yes, thanks John.

How to Turn Your Product Idea Into a Business

How to Turn Your Product Idea Into a Business written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Jules Pieri
Podcast Transcript

Jules PieriToday’s podcast guest is Jules Pieri. She is the founder and CEO of The Grommet and the author of the book How We Make Stuff Now: Turn Ideas Into Products That Build Successful Businesses.

Through The Grommet, Pieri has helped makers to launch their companies. Along the way, she’s launched more than 3,000 consumer products since its inception in 2008, including some household names like Swell water bottles, FitBit, and SodaStream.

Pieri now speaks and writes frequently about consumer trends and technologies, design, and entrepreneurship. She’s spoken at HBS, MIT, SXSW, and the Conference on World Affairs. She’s been featured in numerous media outlets including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Fortune.

On this episode, we talk about what makers go through to launch their ideas, and how someone with a dream can turn their concept into a business.

Questions I ask Jules Pieri:

  • What led you to start The Grommet?
  • How is a maker different from a business person or entrepreneur?
  • What are some of the biggest mistakes makers fall into when they’re starting out?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • Why you should always start with the problem you solve.
  • Why to name your business after your vision, not your first product.
  • How makers can circumvent the traditional distribution channels.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Jules Pieri:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by SEMrush.

SEMrush is our go-to SEO tool for everything from tracking position and ranking to doing audits to getting new ideas for generating organic traffic. They have all the important tools you need for paid traffic, social media, PR, and SEO. Check it out at

Transcript of Making Sales Prospecting Fun and Easy

Transcript of Making Sales Prospecting Fun and Easy written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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John Jantsch: This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast is brought to you by AXA Equitable Life. That’s, advice, retirement, and life insurance.

John Jantsch: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Tom Martin. He’s a speaker and author. In fact, Tom was on when his book, The Invisible Sale, came out. You could go back … In fact, we’ll have that in the show notes. He’s also the founder of Converse Digital, and he’s got a new course that he’s been working on called Turning Conversations Into Customers: The Sales Prospecting Method for People Who Hate Sales Prospecting. Welcome back, Tom.

Tom Martin: Hey. Thanks for having me back, and thanks for saying the name of the company correctly. I think you are one of the few people. Everybody always says it like converse, like the tennis shoes, so thank you for that.

John Jantsch: Well, I do love the tennis shoes, so maybe that’s why I made sure I studied it.

John Jantsch: Let me ask you this, though. Who doesn’t love sales prospecting? I don’t understand if there would be a market for this, even.

Tom Martin: There’s actually, in some of the research I was doing, they recently had a study that came out that 43% of sales people are afraid to make a cold call. I think in general you have people like myself who are introverted or shy who really don’t like the idea of prospecting. Maybe not so much they don’t like it, but it’s really uncomfortable. They really have a hard time at a conference or a trade show or a networking event just walking up to someone, sticking their hand out, and saying “Hi, I’m Tom Martin,” and starting a conversation. They tend to be the person that’s got way too much email to do on their mobile phone at the side of the room like an eighth grade dance.

John Jantsch: In case it wasn’t obvious, I was being facetious. I don’t know anybody who likes prospecting, to tell you the truth.

Tom Martin: I don’t know, I’ve seen you prospect, I’ve seen it in action. (sarcastically)

John Jantsch: A lot of people’s dislike or disdain for it is because of the way they have been prospected, and what we think of as cold calling today. Would you agree?

Tom Martin: Absolutely. This whole course came out of I gave a talk locally recently in New Orleans, and it was one of those where I wasn’t getting paid. I was doing a favor for a friend, and thought it was a perfect time to tryout new material. Basically, I gave an entire talk about just that. People hate prospecting because the way frame this concept of sales prospecting is in a way that’s very selfish, and it’s self serving, and people don’t like that. It’s not what we are taught to do when we’re children.

Tom Martin: If you reframe it, that it’s not only fun and enjoyable and works… I was blown away by the audience reaction after the talk. And I was like, “Okay wait, I think I might be onto something here. I think I might not be the only guy in the world that doesn’t like to do this.” Exploring a lot of these schematics and various talks and blog posts and different things, are implying that people are hungry for, especially entrepreneurs, freelancers, solo printers, people like us, they know they have to prospect for a living. They only eat what they kill, right? They’re really searching and looking for someone to show them a way that is palatable, maybe even enjoyable, versus some seven step process that has them sending out cold, LinkedIn invites right after somebody connects with them – which is everyone’s favorite thing in the world to receive.

John Jantsch: It’s interesting. I think anybody who starts a business, you talked about freelancers and solo printers. I mean, an accountant, a lawyer, they start their business thinking, “This is great. I’ve got my website up. Here we are, I’m in business.” Then come to realize that 50% of this job is selling. I think those people come to the realization kicking and screaming. Then they have to go and figure out how to do it. I think that that, maybe, is sort of the reluctance. It seems like they’ve got to learn this whole new skill. What would you say to those folks in terms of how they should frame this idea of Everybody Sells Something?

Tom Martin: What I try explain to folks is they really don’t need to necessarily learn a new skill. One of the things that have really come into light is this whole concept of social selling. I hate the term because it’s really [inaudible] that people talk about social selling as how do I sell using LinkedIn and Twitter and Facebook, these platforms. It’s a very platform based training, selling theory.

Tom Martin: What I do is talk about is social selling is actually great, but what you have to understand is what social selling means is you sell by being social. And that you know how to do. You know how to be social, you know how to have a conversation with someone to engage them, to try to find some common ground that you both can stand on. From there, you can continue to have a conversation and find things you know about each other that you have in common. That’s how you sell. You create this connection between you and that prospect, then that connection point, maybe not in the first conversation, what you do will come out.

Tom Martin: The basis of your relationship with them is that you formed this connection, this bond if you will, and that gives you something you can build on. Then when they need your service, you’re the top of mind preference. You’re the person they want to call, and they’re pretty sure they want to do business with you as opposed to just do business with somebody. That’s how you prospect. That’s how you build thing flywheel of leads that takes while to get going, but once you get it going the leads just kind of come in because you’re that person people enjoy being around. You’re that sales prospecting they actually welcome into their life versus running, screaming buying technology to avoid etc.

Tom Martin: When you help them see that, a little lightbulb goes on. It could be a little bit more strategic than just talking, but that’s the core. Be social. Be someone people want to talk to.

John Jantsch: I think that’s one of the things that really is the promise of social media. Again, as you said, a lot of people have ruined it, but there’s so much data there. There’s so much information to help you derive a sense of propinquity. Only the second time that word has been used on this podcast, and the first one was when I interviewed you for the invisible sale. It’s getting a long day, I’m tripping on my words. I had that one queued up too.

John Jantsch: Explain that concept. It is what you just said, and I’m surprised you didn’t use the word.

Tom Martin: Nobody can everybody pronounce it, but they love it. It’s a great conversation word. But really, it’s defining how relationship are goaled. It’s really like dating. When you met your wife for the first time, you met her and learned a few things about her you liked, then you had another date. You had more conversations, you found more things you liked. Propinquity is all about that. It’s about making sure there is a connectivity between you and the person you want to do business with. That connectivity might be you in person. It might you as content. It might be you as you’re on a podcast and someone listens it. It might be you social media touching.

Tom Martin: You want to create a proximity between you and your prospect where they can continue to learn new things about you. And that’s the key, they have to always be learning something new about you. Because, what they’re doing is filing all those things away and maybe half the things they find out about they actually like. Eventually Mathematics takes over and they find enough things they like about you they decide, “Yes, this is my preferred provider. Or in a social world, this is a person I want to be friends with.” That’s the way it works in life.

Tom Martin: I think it works the same way in sales and marketing. But you know, the key is you can’t just have that proximity. You’ve got to be present in those moments. That’s probably the biggest thing that trips people up, is that they just can’t be present in the moment while they’re having conversation. Or, while you’re being interviewed on a podcast, be wholly present in having this discussion with the person interviewing you versus thinking about, “Oh I’ve got this other thing going on, I’ve got to do this call later.”

Tom Martin: That part is key. If people can get to that, where they can truly be present in that moment, really focusing on “How can I connect with this individual? What is our common ground? There has to be some common ground.” That’s when the magic can take off, and they can really a) be very successful touching, but b) leave a real conversation, feeling like “Wow that was really fun, I enjoyed that, I really liked that person. I don’t just like them as a prospect, I kind of like them as a person, that was kind of cool.”

Tom Martin: As soon as you can get people to understand that, then they’re won’t mind sales prospecting. Yes, you don’t. You just don’t like it the way you were taught to do it because the way you were taught to do it just feels self serving and selfish. When you were a kid, your mom told you to share your legos, not keep them all to yourself.

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John Jantsch: Obviously an essential part of this is what you just said is kind of that proximity, having that common ground. That’s probably not hard for people to get. Are there some consistent, sort of core activities, you have to surround that with so that it does ultimately lead to, “Hey this is a smart person – or a person that can solve my problem?”

Tom Martin: That’s where those of us who are trying to prospect, especially with trying to prospect outside of our local geography, that’s where content can really play a big role – both your own content resident on your own site to the internet or world via podcast, posting on relevant blogs, or third party media platforms, speaking at the right conferences… things of this nature. In that content, at the same time, you have to build the content where you are finding that common ground. You’ve got to build content that someone can read and say, “Oh, this was written for me.” Granted, obviously you didn’t write it for a single person, that wouldn’t scale very well, but it should feel like, “Hey, this was written for me, this person understands my pain point or my frustration, or more girdle.” Like they get me.

Tom Martin: When you can do that. And look, I wish I could say I’m the greatest person in the world at that, I’m not. If I was, I’d be even more successful. But, that is the key. If you can do that, that’s you having that connection with them even before you’ve ever met them. To me, if you can get to that, the sky’s the limit. You’ll always have prospects.

John Jantsch: I wrote a book called Duct Tape Selling, and essentially I was encouraging sales people, and anybody who had to sell, that it really is marketing in a lot of ways. Obviously there are some core belly to belly kind of things that were not included in there, but in terms of how you raised your expertise and became the welcome guest… I went out and spoke on that book quite a bit, and I would have a lot of sales people and folks in the audience say, “Yeah that’s great, but that’s a lot of work.”

John Jantsch: I’m sure you hear that all the time, too, because we’re talking about building a long term pipeline here. What do you say to that person that says, “I’m just trying to sell something today.”?

Tom Martin: I think you can look at a sales prospect in one of two ways. You can look at them as a transaction, or you can see them as a relationship. If you see them as a transaction, then yeah, you’ll close the deal today. But, that means you have to go close another deal tomorrow, and another deal tomorrow. It’s always with new people. You’re spending all your time meeting and finding new people, and that’s a lot of work too, frankly.

Tom Martin: Instead, if you can build a relationship with a person, you can see them as a person and realize this person can be a relationship, and that relationship can be a series of deals. Not just deals between you and that individual. If you can find somebody who you can convert into what I call a social agent, somebody who not only refers you but takes invested interest in you. They want to refer you, they want you to be successful, they kind of passionate about how they refer you? Holy crap. That is gold, because now you have an army of people out there doing your heavy lifting for you. They’re not just referring you, they’re basically telling the person on the other side of the conversation, “You’d be a damned fool if didn’t hire this guy, or this gal.”

Tom Martin: And what is that worth over the lifetime of your business? You’ve got to invest in that. Nobody is just going to step up and go, “Hey, I want to sign up to be a solider in your little social agent army.” You’ve got to invest in those people. You’ve got to invest in those conversations. You’ve got to find that common ground. You’ve got to make that connection. When you do, it’s beautiful.

Tom Martin: For me, it’s all about long term. I want to create deal flow for years, not just today because man, that’s really hard.

John Jantsch: If I’m listening to this, and I’m thinking, “Okay, the ideas of this sound great.” You want to kind of lay out what they can expect looking into the course turning conversations into customers, how is it constructed?

Tom Martin: What we’re going to do with the courses is doing it a little bit differently. I’m building it as a series of small video classes. They’ll come in, they’ll have a short video class. It might be five minutes, it might be fifteen… but something that is relatively consumable with a lunch to make it easy. Then with that will be some additional reading or homework or other things they can read to round out that course module. Then they’ll come in and move onto the next module, the next module, the next module, and so forth and so on.

Tom Martin: They’ll also be able to come into a private Facebook group where they can not only ask questions and meet with other people who are kind of going through the same thing they’re going through and struggling with the same thing they’re struggling with, and they can be a community, but also where we are going to do some live one-to-many coachings. Where they can explore further applications. You said this what you really and it will give me the opportunity to, you know… If you’ve got the questions, everybody else on the call has a question too, or at least a bunch of them. We can do that sort of coaching and everybody can learn.

Tom Martin: Then if they really want to go down the pipe, they can sign up for more individual coaching and smaller master class type programs that we’ll offer, but those will probably trail the initial launch of the course. In the Summer of 2019, we’ll launch the coursework, then the rest of the stuff will probably come in Fall 2019.

John Jantsch: Dependent upon when you’re listening to this show, Summer 2019 or Fall.

John Jantsch: Let me ask you one question that I’m sure you get. I don’t know if this is a great place for us to end or not, but there are people who just aren’t good at conversation. I’m not that great at it, quite frankly. I’m sure there are people that truly aren’t great or not practiced at it. How do you get better at that aspect, which is central to what you’re talking about?

Tom Martin: I’m really the worst networker in the world. I actually tell a story in my workshops that I was at a speaking gig and some people came over. They just wanted to meet me, and I actually stepped backwards and removed myself from the space so the circle of people standing next to me would close and shield me. It was completely subconscious to me, but the people next to me all noticed it. One of my colleagues I was traveling with was like, “Seriously? They wanted to talk to you. What’s wrong with you?”

Tom Martin: Basically, what I’ve had to do is, you just have to step up to the plate and do it. Just do it. And just keep doing it, and doing it. What I’m finding now is its getting easier to do it. I’m still not nearly as good at it as some people, but what happens is you end up having a good conversation. Not always a sales prospect, there’s plenty of people that you meet that there’s no opportunity for anything, but at least you have a nice conversation, and you did it. You broke the ice. That’s all you’ve got to do.

Tom Martin: I think it’s just like a hitter in baseball being in a slump. There’s no way to fix it except get back in the batter’s box and take another swing. That’s what you have to do here. Just make it a point at every event, or any place you’re at that you don’t know everybody, whether it’s a party or networking event or conference… make it a point to just say “Hey, I’m Tom Martin.” Get comfortable doing it with two people? Go for four.

John Jantsch: I know, especially for people it’s not natural, in fact maybe they’re even a bit uptight in that situation. I always find that having a plan, going in ahead of time thinking “This is what I’m going to do,” so that when the moment hits you, you’re not just flustered.

Tom Martin: If you’re going to, especially a conference, where you can see who attendees are, or at least speakers, go find all the speakers. Using social media, LinkedIn, and stuff to create a mini dossier that you can put in your phone, in your contacts or address book, take a picture from the web and put it in there so you have their face. On the airplane or car ride to the event, study it a little bit. Then when you’re there, you’ll see those people. Then go, okay, John wrote a book called Duct Tape selling, he likes this and that… Then you can go in and say, “Hi I’m Tom Martin,” and you’ll already feel like you know them a little bit.

Tom Martin: You already know some things that, even if they’re not a great conversationalist, you can find a way to work the conversation towards subject matter you’re pretty sure they’re interested in because you already read about them. That’ll get them more comfortable, they’ll start to talk a little more, and once they do you’ll feel more comfortable.

Tom Martin: I’ve used it really effectively at lots of conferences, and I’ve taught a lot of salespeople this trick. It works really well, especially if you’re going strategically to prospect and you do it to the people you plan to prospect. Even if you don’t know anybody, just do it to the speakers. Speakers are notoriously introverted, believe it or not.

Tom Martin: Especially if its a conference that is not really their core industry, like I recently went to a conference that was the sailing industry, I didn’t know any of the other speakers, I didn’t know anybody at all in the whole conference. If anybody came up to me, I thought “Oh thank God, somebody talked to me.” A lot of speakers still do it. It’s crazy. Then you get to meet the speakers, learn something, and it’s amazing how that can create a new conversation. Good, easy little trick to use, especially for conferences and stuff, but even networking events and parties.

John Jantsch: Speaking with Tom Martin, author of The Invisible Sale, and the course coming out Summer 2019, Turning Conversations Into Customers. Tom, thanks for joining us, and hopefully I’ll bump into you out there at one of those conferences.

Tom Martin: Thanks for having me, and I definitely hope we do.

Making Sales Prospecting Fun and Easy

Making Sales Prospecting Fun and Easy written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Tom Martin
Podcast Transcript

Tom MartinOn today’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I chat with Tom Martin. After 20 years in the advertising industry, he founded the digital strategy agency, Converse Digital.

Martin is also a speaker, blogger, and author of the book The Invisible Sale: How to Build a Digitally Powered Marketing and Sales System to Better Prospect, Qualify and Close Leads.

In this episode, Martin and I discuss the art of prospecting and his upcoming online course, Turning Conversations Into Customers, where he will share the secrets to creating meaningful connections and relationships to make prospecting easier and more enjoyable.

Questions I ask Tom Martin:

  • Why do people dislike prospecting so much?
  • What is propinquity and what does it have to do with prospecting?
  • How do you get better at conversation?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • How being fully present can help you win business.
  • Why content should feel like it was written for an individual with the pain points your business addresses.
  • Why to see a sales prospect as a relationship rather than a deal.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Tom Martin:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!


This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by AXA Equitable Life.

It’s time we start giving life insurance the credit it deserves. That’s because life insurance can be so much more than protection for you and your family. It can also help you live, keep, and potentially build more cash value over time. To learn how, go to

Disclosure: Life insurance is issued by AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company, New York, NY 10104 or MONY Life Insurance Company of America (MLOA), an Arizona Stock corporation with its main administration office in Jersey City, NJ and is distributed by AXA Distributors, LLC.

5 Steps to Effective Keyword Research

5 Steps to Effective Keyword Research written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

If you want to rank well in search results, you have to undertake keyword research. This is the process of researching the search terms that users actually enter into search engines.

The way that you think about the solution your business offers might be different from the way a prospect thinks about their problem they’re looking to solve. This disconnect can lead you down the wrong keyword path and keep you from finding the most interested prospects.

That’s why keyword research is so critical. It gives you real-world knowledge, which empowers you to show up in the right searches. Not sure where to start? Here are my five steps to effective keyword research.

1. Brainstorm on Your Own

Any good research project grounded in the scientific method, begins with listing out your hypotheses. Brainstorm a list of the words, terms, and questions you think people are searching for when they’re looking for your business or the type of solution you offer.

These may be terms that are related to what you do or sell, they may be based on your location, or they may be questions people could have about your area of expertise.

Let’s say you’re an electrician in the New York metropolitan area. What are the kinds of things people who need an electrician might search for? They might have a question like, “How do I install a hanging light fixture?” They might also search for your services more directly, using the phrase, “electrician near me.” Or maybe it’s something more specific to the kind of service you offer, such as, “same day service electrician NYC.”

Once you’ve come up with your own list, ask your team to do some thinking, too. They might have a different perspective that opens you up to terms you wouldn’t have hit upon on your own.

2. Let the Googling Begin!

Next, you want to open things up to the broader world. You can start getting a sense of how people actually search by going to Google and seeing how it auto-completes your terms.

Sometimes you find something interesting or unexpected. Going back to the electrician example, say you type “lighting installation” into Google. What you find as you begin to type in the search term is that two of the suggestions are about lighting inside cabinets. Perhaps you were thinking of that as more of a niche request, but it actually seems like a pretty popular search term. If this is a service you offer, maybe you want to think more deeply about trying to rank for that term.

You should also check what search terms you already rank for using Google Search Console. This will help you identify the terms that are working for you and how you can improve them further.

3. Narrow it Down

Now that you have a healthy list of potential terms, you want to create your short list. Ideally, these are approximately five foundational phrases and eight to ten long-tail phrases.

The foundational phrases speak to the heart of what your business does. These are the keywords that you want associated with your home page and with specific landing pages related to your most popular offerings or areas of expertise.

How you select the foundational keywords should be strategic. They can’t be too narrow (that’s what the long-tail keywords are for), but going too general means that it will be harder to rank for that term. Returning to the electrician example, “electrician” is likely too broad, but “electrician with expertise in kitchen appliance installation in NYC with quick turnaround time” is likely too narrow. Aiming for something in between the two, like “same day NYC electrician,” is best.

Long-tail keywords are about intent. The person who Googles “NYC electrician” likely has a different intent than the person who Googles “how to install recessed lighting.” With long-tail keywords, you want to target the second type of search, one with a clear intent and specific problem. These keywords will link up to detailed, related content you have on your website. In the above example, that might be a blog post or explainer video about the work involved and costs associated with installing overhead lighting.

4. Use Google’s Keyword Planner

Now that you have a list of 15 or so search terms, you want to run them through the Google Keyword Planner. This is a free tool that allows you to check the popularity of the keywords on your list, find new keywords you hadn’t thought of, and get bid estimates.

At this point in your process, nothing should be set in stone. You might find that one of the keywords on your list is highly competitive (and therefore costly), so it might be back to the drawing board. Alternatively, you might happen upon a great keyword you hadn’t thought of on your own—don’t hesitate to throw that into the mix.

The thing about keyword research is that it’s an ever-evolving process. Once you do select your final keywords, you should revisit your Google Search Console once a month to see how things are going. If you find that one of your keywords remains unsuccessful month-over-month, replace it with something else.

5. Aligning Your Keywords with Content

As I said earlier, these keywords are page specific. While you want to use your broadest keywords on your homepage, you can get more granular on the other pages of your website.

That being said, you want to make sure that the content on the page aligns with the keywords you’ve selected. For example, if you’re that electrician and you have the long-tail keyword “how to install recessed lighting” for one of your web pages, you better be sure there’s detailed information about recessed lighting front-and-center on that page! If someone clicks through a search result and finds information about appliance installation crowding out the top of the page, they’re going to be confused and frustrated. That’s not what they were looking for, so they’ll bounce right back to the SERP.

More broadly, you want to ensure that this content is the voice of your strategy. Yes, the keywords and content should line up, but the content should also speak to your larger strategic goals. If your business doesn’t make much money on installing recessed lighting and you’re trying to get away from offering those services, don’t include those keywords and content as a focus on your site, even if it is a popular search term. Or, if it is a popular search term, perhaps there’s a way for you to restructure your pricing and offerings to make that service more profitable for you so that you can meet the demand in the market.

As with all things in marketing, keyword research really about something much bigger than just picking out some search terms. An effective approach to the process will take your larger strategic goals into account and will help you to reach your broader business objectives. By being systematic about your keyword research approach, you can find the terms that give you the best shot at ranking with those prospects who are most in need of the products or services your business provides.