Improve Your Communication with Calls to Action

August 24, 2016

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter

When you think about a Call to Action (CTA), what comes to mind? Perhaps a print or banner ad that says “Click Here”? Or a TV commercial urging you to “Call Now”?

CTAs are often thought of only in relation to sales messages. But incorporating CTAs in each aspect of communication can significantly improve your results. This goes for all external communication, but also for internal and interpersonal communication.

For example, think about the last email you sent (to a colleague, customer, friend, whomever). Did you clearly communicate the response you hoped for or did you just send a message that might leave them wondering how to respond? Even adding a simple, “Let me know your thoughts” to a message can signal that person to act and engage with your communication.

Each piece of communication you use could benefit from a call to action; once you incorporate CTAs into your messages, you’ll likely see better results.

Beyond advertisements or commercials, add CTAs to:

  • E-blasts
  • Emails
  • Voicemail messages
  • Videos
  • Presentations
  • Press releases
  • Blog posts

Even some conversations can benefit from a call to action.

At the end of the day, all communication has a desired response. The easiest way to get the response is to simply ask for it!

Do you incorporate a call to action in your communications?

Sustainable Pricing Starts with Your Sales Force

August 17, 2016

This post originally appeared on


Achieving significant pricing gains can feel like a long, hard-fought battle. This makes it all the more satisfying when the numbers start to roll in, validating your efforts and proving without a doubt that profitability is attainable.

The thought of losing those gains may keep you up at night. What safeguards can you put in place to protect the gains you’ve achieved and prevent your company from sliding back into past poor pricing habits?

It all starts with building a confident sales force.

1. Handling Customer Pushback

No one wants to pay higher prices, ever. If you recently increased prices or are planning to do so, at least some segment of customers won’t be happy with the change. Know that they will push back. After all, that’s what their purchasing staff gets paid to do. And that’s OK.

Just because they push back doesn’t mean you have to cave in.

A well-trained sales force will be able to hold their ground, resist the pushback and effectively explain to the customer exactly why the price change is necessary and unavoidable.

However, if your sales force is not well-trained—if they are not fully informed about the price change and equipped to discuss it—you’ll likely have some issues on your hands.

2. Communicating Value

Strong companies price according to value. They’re not worried about losing business to the competition because they know they deliver far more value than the competition could ever hope for.

A sales force that is confident in your value proposition can communicate this value effectively. But they need your help to find this confidence. Your sales team needs to be equipped for these conversations, both with hard numbers and high-level messaging.

Data. Quantify your value claims. Your proof might include value calculators, quality metrics, on-time delivery rates, gains on a customer satisfaction index or any host of other value benchmarks.

Message. Document exactly how to articulate the value your company provides so your salespeople know exactly how to make the case for higher prices.

If your sales force believes in your value proposition, and if they are trained to sell a price increase in a clear and thoughtful way, they will be able to ask for and receive the right price—and they’ll be able to stand firm when asked for a concession.

3. The Flip Side of Confidence

Of course, all of this implies that your company does, in fact, deliver value. It’s critical that your quality, service and overarching customer experience be excellent. When this happens, it’s only natural to expect to be paid for it.

But if your company struggles with value—if you’ve had quality or service issues in the past—your salespeople will have doubts.

And if they have doubts, they’ll be more likely to act out of fear when a customer pushes back. They’ll be too afraid to stand their ground on the price increase because they’ll be afraid to lose the business.

If this is the case, it’s time to tackle the issue before your profitability goes out the window.

4. Ongoing Commitment to Training

Ultimately, you’ll find that investing in the confidence of your sales team is one of the smartest decisions you can make. But this is not a one-time event.

Price negotiations happen every time a sales representative talks with a customer, whether or not you or they realize it.

Therefore, you must have ongoing training.

To engage effectively in these continual price conversations, your sales force needs constant reinforcement on the value your company delivers. They need continual updates on the data that support your claims. And they need the freshest messaging and communication materials that will equip them to make the strongest case for a price increase.

If your company does not change prices frequently, the need for this ongoing training becomes even more imperative.

5. Measuring Results and Identifying Opportunities

But slips will happen even in the best-trained companies. Putting a process in place for tracking key metrics can serve as an early warning system to identify potential price leak threats.

As you analyze your price and profitability KPIs, drill down into your data and look for outliers.

It can help to segment the metrics that you track:

  • By salesperson
  • By territory
  • By product line
  • By product manager

This may help you understand what is really happening out in the field. You may find, for example, that more concessions are taking place in the Northeast relative to the rest of the country.

Armed with this information, you can look more closely at what is going on in that region. Is there a competitive reason there that warrants the concessions? For instance, has a competitor introduced a new product line that is undercutting yours?

Or is the problem internal? Is the product manager doing a good job communicating value to the sales team? Is this an opportunity to provide the sales team with additional training and support?

Not all price concessions are bad, but all blind price concessions certainly are. Once you start tracking pricing metrics at the appropriate level, you can begin to make accurate judgments about where price concessions are warranted and where they’re not to determine sustainable pricing.

6. The Value of a Pricing Partner

Analytics is one area where the right pricing partner can pay dividends. By helping you establish a system to appropriately and accurately measure price and profitability, you gain a truly granular view of your pricing strategy.

As a result, you can confidently make the right decisions on how to manage prices—deciding, for example, to raise them by 5 percent in Region A, 3 percent in Region B, and hold prices steady in Region C.

You’ll also be able to track against that plan. This allows you to identify gaps and the cause behind the gap so that you can take steps to remedy the gap if needed.

As with all things in business, what gets measured gets improved. If you turn pricing into your most rewarding profit lever, you need the right system in place to implement, communicate and track price changes.

Anything less than that almost guarantees your price gains will be temporary at best.

SlideShare is Probably the Most Overlooked Social Media Tool to Reach Contractors

August 3, 2016

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

Close to 70 million visitors a month, five times more traffic from business owners than Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn. SlideShare was purchased by LinkedIn a few years ago which allows both platforms to work seamlessly together, which is good news for you.

Why should you consider using it? Contractors like visuals and are wanting to learn more of how or why to do things a certain way.

It’s a great way to market your business, and showcase your expertise as an industry leader. Not only can you put up Power Point presentations and white papers, you can upload videos by using SlideSharepro  and have a way to repurpose your webinars or online training options.

If you’re worried about sharing your information with the world, you can upload content that you can make available to select audiences (by invitation only).

The most important reason for using SlideShare is to generate leads. Peg Fitzpatrick wrote a great post on Social Media Examiner on ways to capitalize on getting leads.

She focuses on ways to collect emails from viewers, how to use links in slides, why you should add visual calls to action and lastly, why the description. It’s a good quick read.

Heidi Cohen outlines 10 actionable marketing tactics to get the most out of leads.

Here are some tips:

  • Are slide titles and text consistently placed and aligned?
  • Other than the title slide, are they numbered?
  • Does your presentation title appear at the top of each page?
  • Did you add your firm’s name, URL and contact info at the bottom of each page of your handouts?
  • Did you convert presentation files to Adobe Acrobat to preserve text formatting?
  • Did you check each link after uploading to make sure they work?
  • Did you create links between SlideShare and social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter?

Don’t miss out on this valuable tool that will help you not only become a thought leader, but generate leads at the same time, so make sure you put a good strong call to action in it.

Stats on U.S. Manufacturing

July 4, 2016

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect

The Fourth of July is more than fireworks, parades, cookouts and a day off. It’s a day that we recognize our country’s independence.

All of the red, white and blue that comes out for Independence Day brings the topic of “Made in the USA” to mind.

Did you know…

  • Every $1 spent in manufacturing contributes $1.40 to the economy? This is the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector.
  • The majority of manufacturing companies in the U.S. are small? Only 1.4% of firms in the manufacturing sector have more than 500 employees.
  • Manufacturing supports 18.4 million U.S. jobs? That’s about 1 in 6 private-sector jobs.
  • In 2014, the average manufacturing employee made $79,533? That’s more than $15,000 above the national average for all industries.
  • Over the past 25 years, U.S.-manufactured goods exports more than quadrupled?
  • Taken alone, manufacturing in the U.S. would be the 9th largest world economy?

These stats came from NAM (the National Association of Manufacturers). You can find these and other facts about U.S. manufacturing on their website.

If you’re also thinking about U.S. Manufacturing today, check out these other posts on the topic:

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

Creativity is the Key

June 29, 2016

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter

It took creativity to start your business, and it takes creativity to keep it running every day. So why not apply that same creativity to the greatest challenge facing the manufacturing industry: the lack of skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen?

The time to act is now. Waiting for someone else to plug the hole simply won’t work. Schools’ budgets are squeezed too tight. Government agencies are interested in quick fixes, not long-term solutions. You need to find the next generation of workers.

You have two huge advantages: as a manufacturer you’re used to seeing a problem from all angles and creating a solution. And your jobs are actually cool. They allow people looking for a challenge to use their minds and hands together to build something.

So how do you reach future workers? Show off what you do! Take this example from Birmingham Georgia. A normal company would just see this as another contract. Another job. But BL Harbert saw an opportunity. The Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum is one of the most innovative museums in the world. Why not use it as a draw to show how their skills and abilities help make it that way?

via Alabama News Center

Partnering with Go Build Alabama, they arranged for 120 students to get an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of its museum expansion. Now, we can’t all be working on projects at cool museums, but believe me, much of what you do looks really cool to an outsider, especially when placed into the larger context of what it’s helping to create. I wish I could have seen a CNC machine in action when I was 16 or even a welder or PEX pipe. When you see what a little creativity can do to make the world a better place, or just to improve on an existing solution, you’ve captured someone’s imagination. And when you show them that they, too, can be a part of it, you’ve created a skilled tradesman.

Ready to get started?

Download Sonnhalter’s database of 20,000+ vocational education programs.

Why Manufacturers Should Personalize Content for Professional Tradesmen

June 21, 2016

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter

While there are plenty of reasons to use automated technology to manage leads through the sales funnel, there comes a point when personalized content needs to be used to reach contractors and professional tradesmen.

Contractors need answers to specific questions whether it’s product or application related. They normally are looking for this relevant info and personalized content is an excellent way of delivering it.

There are benefits to using personalized content. More than half of senior marketers worldwide polled in CMO Council’s June 2015 survey said that using enriched or personalized content and digital interactions brings higher response and engagement rates.

Leading Benefits of Using Enriched/Personalized Content and Digital Interactions According to Senior Marketers Worldwide, June 2015 (% of respondents)

So what are you doing to personalize content to the professional tradesmen? Are you addressing their concerns? Do you know what those concerns are?

Send your sales staffs out in the field and get a better read on what the tradesmen are looking for…don’t assume you know.


5 Key Metrics for Measuring Trade Shows

June 15, 2016

Trade show season is upon us and for those of us that are still going to them, you know that the costs to play aren’t going down. That’s why ROI and documented metrics are so important. I talked to Vince Tricomi recently to make sure his post from a year ago still was appropriate and he assured me it was, so I thought I’d remind us all of these metrics.

Today, we have a guest post from Vince Tricomi, VP, New Business Development at PFI Displays on ways you can maximize your efforts. Enjoy.

Most of you participate in various trade shows from time to time. If you do, you know that they can be very expensive and management is always looking for a ROI. That’s why it’s important for sales and marketing to work together to make sure they get the best bang for the buck.

Except for a lucky few who still write orders at trade shows, most exhibitors can’t tie a specific revenue-generation figure to their trade shows.

That’s OK though. Consider how marketers tie sales figures to a magazine ad:  They can’t, and that’s why they measure things like impressions, reach and awareness.

Trade shows offer plenty of measurement opportunities for the savvy event marketer. Some of these metrics are firm, others are calculated estimates, but they can be combined to create clarity into the effectiveness of any trade show program, large or small.

Here are a few of our suggestions:
1. Leads: 
a. Let’s get this easy one of out of the way
i. Don’t mess around with collecting business cards
ii. Renting a lead retrieval machine that loads your lead data on a flash drive is money well spent
b. SAVVY TIP: Break these leads down into A, B, and C categories for better insight into the show’s quality.

2. Cost Per Lead:
a. Take the total cost of your exhibit investment and divide it by the total amount of leads collected
b. Compare this to other marketing efforts to see how your show stacks up
c. SAVVY TIP: If you exhibit at multiple shows, this metric also shines light on the comparative effectiveness of each show.

3. Demonstrations:
a. If you’re launching a new product, consider giving one-on-one or group demonstrations
b. Count how many demonstrations you give and how many audience members listen or interact
c. If you’re doing multiple presentations each hour, you’re having a great show
d. SAVVY TIP: Find out from the VP of Sales an average cost of a trip for a sales person to give a demo at a prospect’s office. Compare that with the show’s average cost per demo, and suddenly trade shows look like a bargain!

4. Website Traffic:
a. Know the average visitors to your website before the show, and compare that to the visitors during and immediately after
b. Pay special attention to the pages for the products and offers you featured at the show
c. SAVVY TIP: Don’t forget that trade shows are about face-to-face interactions. Generating web traffic is a great metric, but for most exhibitors it shouldn’t be the main goal.

5. Press Mentions:
a. These hold special appeal, and therefore more “weight” as a viable metric, for all classically trained marketers
b. SAVVY TIP: With the abundance of trade magazines, writers, and bloggers at every show, if you’re not getting mentioned, something is wrong; try setting up interviews and press walk-throughs well before the show.

6. Post Show Appointments:
a. In today’s hectic, time-starved business world, one of the hardest challenges faced by every salesperson is securing a face-to-face appointment
b. Commit the sales team to informing you of every show lead that generates a follow-up appointment
c. SAVVY TIP: You’ll have friends for life if your shows facilitate setting post-show meetings. Think creatively about a space in your booth dedicated solely to this endeavor.

Whoops; did that headline say “5 metrics?”  Consider the last one a bonus.  As you can tell, these suggestions are only the tip of the iceberg.  Please share some of your favorite, and most effective, metrics with us.

In closing, leading full service exhibit companies, like PFI Displays, offer innovative, easy to use software tools that will help you measure your shows—and do a lot more, too.

I’m sure you can add to the list and I’d like to hear ways your company is measuring the effectiveness of trade shows.

If you like this post you might like:

5 Ways to Improve your Trade Show ROI

New Study Shows Best Way of Reaching Manufacturing Professionals


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