4 Golden Sales questions worth asking your next customer

Published: 19 February 2015

Golden Sales Questions

Martin Hutchins shares with us his top sales questions to include in your sales process as well as explaining the benefits of doing so.


Rapport building is fundamental to the succcess of a sale and showing a genuine interest in your customer is one way of starting this process.


Approaching a problem together and finding a common solution will help strengthen the rapport between yourself and the client as well as giving you the opportunity to demonstrate how your product or service can help your client with a potential hurdle.


Probing on key points in the conversation not only demonstrates that you are actively listening but also helps to uncover true motives and/or objections. Unless you unearth the underlying cause of the objection you are unlikely to be able to resolve it in a way that is truely satisfactory to the customer and therefore are likely to lose the sale without possibly even knowing the real cause.


This will help you to understand the total buying unit and key decision makers. By doing this you will be able to adapt your pitch and knowledge to influence the different decision makers in the appropriate way 

If you would be interested in building your sales rapport and negotiation skills why not invest in your sales skills with an ISMM Sales Qualification. Contact us today to discuss the right option for you or download a prospectus today. 

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The Benefits of Amplified Content [Infographic]

Published: 17 February 2015

Crank your content up to 11

A guest blog from Ivan Serrano

Today, content marketing is one of the top strategies brands have to build awareness and increase their reach. In fact, 86 percent of businesses utilize content marketing and now the field is filled with blogs, videos and whitepapers. Of course not all of the content produced is valuable but with so much created on a daily basis it can still be hard to rise to the top even if you do provide compelling content. This has led to the rise of content amplification – a strategy that focuses on increasing brand visibility across multiple channels.  While content amplification can take many forms, the most common comes in the form of paid media.

Benefits of Paid Content Amplification

If you're like many companies, you likely have little to no social reach. While many marketers used to scoff at the idea of paying for social ads, today it has become a necessity. Even if you have a lot of followers, Facebook's EdgeRank ensures that between 2 to 8 percent of your own Facebook fans will see any given update. Paid social amplification can give you the exposure your content needs and can not only get it in front of your fans, but other people as well. Not only can you increase your reach, but thanks to the ability to highly target these ads to exactly the right audience, you can increase the viral potential of your content. How targeted are these ads? You can choose several different options such as:

  • Explicit and implicit interests – You might not realize it, but every time you like a page, social media sites store this information so advertisers can use it to build targeted segments.
  • Demographics – Most social sites require the most basic demographic information such as age, gender and location. The value cannot be overstated especially if you plan on running targeted local social ads.
  • Keywords – In addition to all of this, you can even find your audience by what they say on their social sites by honing in on specific keywords.

The infographic below can provide you an overview of content amplification best practices, which will ultimately help your brand reach.

The benefits of Amplified Content

To learn more about content marketing or creative digital content in general why not invest in a Digital Marketing Qualification? To find out more download a Prospectus or contact us today with your questions. 

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Why “Let’s do something viral” is the stupidest part of your 2015 Marketing Plan.

Published: 12 February 2015

how to do your content marketing strategy the right way

By Michael O'Flynn - Professional Academy, Marketing Coordinator 

With a constant and justified focus on content in modern Marketing it is easy for some terms to get misused. The term that often gets misused in marketing strategies is “Viral Marketing”, not for what it is as most people understand the term and the benefits but misunderstand how it’s done.

If I had the magical formula of how to “do” viral marketing every time I would be a billionaire and the world would be my oyster. Unfortunately I don’t but more fortunately I work in an environment where I have never been asked to create a “viral campaign”.

My point boils down to this - A good campaign can go viral, you cannot create a viral campaign. You can create a campaign with the view to going viral but you cannot create a viral campaign. The term viral is a term for something that spreads and grows organically and further than you could imagine. So to say “let us create something that will organically grow further than anyone could imagine” is ridiculous.

So what can we do to address this frustrating issue which many marketers face? In honesty we can’t, managers will always want the best results available at a time and “viral marketing” as a principle deliver these results, it is the world we now live in with digital marketing.

What we can do is try to create content with the best chance of going viral as such here are some pieces of advice that will give you the best chance of going viral:


Let creatives lead contentCreate creative led content.

Every company has creative people within it, some of which may not even be a part of a specific creative team. Use these people to help create your content. Pool your ideas based on current trends in your industry using the creativity, talents and personalities within your company that would create the best version of the content possible.


Create an abundance of contentCreate an abundance of content you believe in.

As much as quality is key you should also be aiming to create an abundance of content. The reason for this is twofold. Firstly it gives your visitors something else to read once they have stumbled on to your content. Secondly the abundance of creative content allows you to hone your voice as well as putting more and more content out which creates a higher chance of one piece of content being picked up and going “viral”.


Know your audienceKnow your audience.

To improve the quality of your content and chances of going viral it is best to know your target audience and not only how to write for them but how to get the content into their eye line. For example if your content is aimed at professionals and businesses LinkedIn is probably the place to be but if your content is visual you are looking at Instagram or flickr. Different audiences will have preferred ways to receive their content, a preferred tone and preferred medium.


Know your contents mediumKnow your medium.

Speaking of mediums it’s important to know what content works best on what medium but also how to make your content work as well as possible for each medium. For example if you were looking to post video content, know what makes a video a success on YouTube or Vimeo, know your tagging, use a dynamic and entertaining personality (even if they aren’t the most knowledgeable person on the subject write a script, rehearse and record) same can be said for all mediums whether they are visual, video, text or audio. Do your research, find examples of quality and popular uses of each medium and tailor your content to fit the medium your audience are most likely to use.


Get your timing rightTiming

Timing is key to helping your content go viral. This doesn’t mean you have to hold on to content till the right time it just means that you can have your abundance of quality content across mediums and when something relevant pops up in your industry you can use this time to share your content that is relevant at that moment.



Don't take low numbers to heartDon’t take low numbers to heart.

Sometimes you will create what you believe is the best content, put it out on the right medium at the right time but still those sharing numbers don’t go the way you want them to! Content can get picked up at the most random times or fly straight out the door. Not going viral shouldn’t deter you from creating and developing a robust content strategy.

So there you have it some tips on what you can do to help you go viral but the most important thing to remember is you can’t control the virality of your content so don’t make this part of your marketing strategy. A robust content strategy on the other hand, now that may be something worth planning.

If you do really just want to create a viral video here with no regard to substance you can always just give cats lightsabers and watch the youtube views fly!

Cats with lightsabers


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Video killed the radio star - Why video is so important to marketing?

Published: 10 February 2015

The importance of video marketing

Dave Thackeray's studying with Professional Academy towards his CIM Level 6 Diploma in Professional Marketing. The failed thespian explains why, like him, every modern marketer needs to be shooting stories. 

I was very much an indulgent am dram wannabe as a kid. I used to prance the flat I shared with my mum, stepdad and George the budgie, using each of them as characters in my make-believe world. George was unmoved.

It was inevitable that my downward trajectory into performing anonymity would include hospital radio, the rite of passage for any uppity young person with too much to say. Then podcasting happened, and I was hooked.

So I guess you could say that George - once a reluctant cameo and audience member - played a hand/claw in my meeting one of my idols, Dan Lyons, he of Fake Steve Jobs, Newsweek, the Emmy award-winning Silicon Valley show and most recently Valleywag - a snipey blog about all the lost souls in California's digital gold rush.

Dan and I hosted a run of 10 radio shows prodding a funny stick at the world of tech. We quickly built up a cult following. People like me always use the word 'cult' as a simile for 'small but possibly interested'.

Anyway, five paragraphs in, I reach the point of this article. During my time as ambassador to the European Podcast Award, which coincided with the Lyons/Thackeray comedy duet otherwise known as The Double D Guys, I start dabbling in video.

You might already be familiar with my screen persona after Professional Academy put together an advent calendar packed with videos of marketing ideas. I'm like a shambling Alan Partridge figure.

But I think that brings both sympathy and empathy to the table. And that's why I just launched Marketing Q and A, an irregular video show sharing tips, tricks and tools building bulletproof modern marketers.


Time to thrill with your video marketingTime to thrill

Be under no illusion that whatever business you're in, video deserves a place at your top table.

When the web was born, we just had a bunch of links to click and the odd picture to look at, which was just as well because each one took about 10 minutes to download.

Then social came along and we were able to talk with each other using the medium of keyboards.

Then Google bought YouTube, and we all started voraciously consuming moving pictures.

In a world obsessed with globalisation (see what I did there?), video is still the closest many of us get to be face to face with our consumers. 24 hours a day video-centric marketers can reach out to prospective customers and become meaningful and build relationships fuelled by trust.

In video, there's no escape and nowhere to hide. Savvy corporations have started embracing video interviews as the first step in recruitment. The smartest organisations are leading their content marketing efforts by literally showing customers how their products and services can make things smarter, speedier and smilier.


Why is video so important to marketing?Why video?

You can use video in a million different ways.

It's a method of starting a conversation. A way of reminding your customers they care. To demonstrate authority and thought leadership.

Or in my case, a way of expanding my portfolio and showing my taskmasters at Professional Academy that I'm paying attention to the changing marketing landscape.

The one golden thread running through every piece of web content is search engine optimisation. Labelling your video with the words and phrases your customers of today and tomorrow use is critical if you're going to reach people new to your brand and become even more meaningful in the lives of those loyal to your cause.


Why is social video so key to Digital Marketing?Getting social with web video

If you're still sat on the fence about video, ask Facebook and Twitter where they stand on bringing your screen alive. 

The video arms race has really started getting interesting now major social networks have announced initiatives competing with YouTube. Facebook is looking to generate $700m in video ad revenue this year, and is focused on diverting people from YouTube whose traffic is 70% derived from Facebook users, according to International Business Times.

Twitter is looking to build a video platform competing with YouTube pandering to the attention-short but wealth-long Generation Y - a sustained play it has already trumpeted through the acquisition of Vine.

YouTube will continue to be highly relevant for many years to come, and even discounting its prominence on every Google search result as a free storage system alone it cannot be overlooked.

But its revenue is being devoured from all sides. Video hosting companies like Wistia are fast becoming more relevant to data-hungry businesses by offering more accurate engagement metrics, and with the likes of Upworthy and Buzzfeed making big drives into original video content, you know you're on to a good thing.


How to get started

I have a few resources to get you started on your journey to building a video strategy for your brand. I won't cover hardware here - but the www is full of suggestions on the right devices to use. My one tip here is pay attention to audio in equal terms as the footage you capture.

  • iMovie (iOS, in the Apple App Store) and KineMaster (Android, on Google Play) are two free mobile video editors that help you cut, spline and gloss your video productions.
  • YouTube Creator Studio (https://www.youtube.com/yt/playbook/) is your one-stop-shop to create a compelling channel and develop a video strategy designed with your business in mind.
  • And don't forget Getting Started in Web Video (marketingqanda.com/video), my 8-part playbook for mini movie success.

Have you got a video strategy - or are you thinking of starting one? Tweet me @davethackeray and let me help you switch on your customers.


Dave Thackery - The Journey of a CIM StudentFormer journalist, editor and company owner Dave is now the web and social media officer at WLCT, a charity operating leisure services for councils. After years making his way through the marketing maze he decided to go back to basics and learn how to do it properly with Professional Academy and CIM. Follow his progress on this blog and feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter to ask about his experiences. 

If you would like to Join Dave on a CIM Marketing Qualification Course you can contact Professional Academy for some advice or Download a copy of the Marketing Prospectus today. 

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Can professional training help develop a leader's mindset?

Published: 05 February 2015

Developing a Positive Mindset

By Andy Hart, Professional Academy's Learning & Development Advisor

How can professional training help brilliant practitioners develop a leader’s mindset and become exceptional managers? Perhaps triggered by the anniversary of Churchill’s death, there’s been a lot of buzz recently around the leadership mindset. 

Discussions going on in various L&D focussed social media groups include: 

  • Are leaders born or made? 

  • Do leaders have a different mindset to managers? 

  • Should businesses hire talent or mindset? 

  • Can talent be taught? 

  • Can mindset be taught? 

The consensus seems to be that managing is about organising and detail orientation and leadership is about inspiring and setting the vision (so more big picture than detail orientation) and that management skills can be taught but that people are born to lead. 

Whatever your interpretation or experience, there’s plenty of evidence that both mindsets are present in high performing individuals, teams and organisations. Here at Professional Academy we strongly believe that the two mindsets are not mutually exclusive, as many commentators seem to indicate, and that while some individuals do seem born to lead, without a thorough understanding and experience of managing, their destination is not always as planned. We also see many exceptional practitioners, who at first seem like the doers (not the managers or leaders) elevate their potential at a speed of knots. In fact, we see daily evidence that this is so. 

Indeed, more and more corporate clients are working with us to develop their talent pipelines, ensuring that today’s doers become tomorrow’s managers, become tomorrow’s leaders. Professional training really can help you to make this happen in your organisation, as is evidenced in this Professional Academy success story, celebrating the progress of delegates on our bespoke CMI qualification-based leadership development programme for BP. 

Our view on the talent or mindset debate? Hire for attitude, train for aptitude. We, of course, train for (and are very much committed to training for) both. If we experience a delegate with a mindset that may hamper their progress in your organisation, we help them to recognise it and to develop one that will. 

If you want to find out more about how professional training can help build your talent pipeline, do please get in touch.


Andy Hart - L&D AdvisorAndy Hart is a Learning & Development Advisor with Professional Academy. Working with companies across the UK and worldwide to deliver tailored bespoke people-focused training in Sales, Management, Marketing and Customer Service.

If you would like to connect with Andy please feel free to contact him directly via LinkedIn. 

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