How to Write, Publish and Market Your Book | Social Media Examiner

See on Scoop.itHolistic Nutrition

Self publishing: Guy Kawasaki’s latest book APE (author, publisher, entrepreneur) shows you how to go from manuscript to book, without giving up control to a publisher. Of course, when you’re Guy Kawasaki with his cache and name recognition, people want to buy what he publishes since he seems to often be ahead of the pack in his thinking and research.

See on http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-write-publish-and-market-your-book/

Tips to Improve Your Collection Interviews

I recently gave a webinar for our SLA competitive intelligence division on “How to improve your collection skills through interviewing and elicitation.” I particularly enjoyed the Q&A and will share my 2 favorites which I have embellished on since I have had more time to think about them.

Phone Interviewer soloHow do you differentiate yourself from a telemarketer? Do you say what you’re doing, like a research project?

I usually don’t tell people exactly what I am up to in a cold call. It isn’t really necessary and most people don’t care. We are usually more experienced in communication than telemarketers, who try to have us not hang up on them. A telemarketer usually has the same approach and objective for every phone interview, such as to get us to buy something or to donate money to their charity. Not surprisingly, there is high turnover in telemarketing. I have been doing primary collection interviews for over 20 years. I have specific and different objectives for every telephone call. I also have multiple approaches to obtain information, but I am not asking anyone to buy my service or donate money to a charity. I don’t expect anyone to hang up on me and am polite. I have a level of confidence in the tone of my voice that telemarketers don’t have, just as soon as I say “Hello.” Remember it’s not just what you say, but how you say it that makes you a successful interviewer.

What are some tips to get the interview in the first place? Reaching people live, referrals or customized email requests leading up to a telephone call?

When it’s a cold call, it’s pretty straightforward. I call the company and ask to be transferred to the department that I think will best help me. Switchboard operators are usually quite helpful. If one is not, I will wait until lunchtime, when s/he is often replaced with someone else, or the telephone goes into auto-attendant, so I can make my best guess and get transferred through automation. Sometimes I don’t know who I should talk to and the switchboard will give me a name to connect with as she is transferring the call. It is now a referral which warms the call up a bit.

If it’s not a cold call, people increasingly expect you to email them to set up a time to talk on the phone, since they don’t appreciate having their day interrupted with unscheduled telephone calls. You have to figure out a short value proposition to get their attention, and be willing to call them to set up a time, since often enough they don’t email you back in a timely fashion. This is particularly true when querying people in technology.

However, with all the turnover in technology, the person you want to talk with to may have left the company. Meanwhile the administrator will let you know who their replacement is, ever willing to connect you immediately. You can decide to call later and look them up on LinkedIn, or you can be transferred right in to the person immediately. I always opt to be transferred immediately. By now I know enough about that person’s job and have done a little research on their company. Reading their LinkedIn profile isn’t going to help me that much, and will delay me from talking to them. These are often win loss analysis calls. They have inherited someone else’s decision, and are now responsible to make it work. They are happy to tell me all about their experience, and in these interviews I probably do about 10% of the talking. I think it’s also because they’re new with the company, and not so well connected with other employees just yet. I am a pair of willing, listening ears.

Here is the Interviewing & Elicitation presentation. Here is the YouTube that combines audio with the slides. However, the slides are a out of sync with the audio. For those who attended the webinar, I have included the YouTube link to the video of the awesome Walter Cronkite predicting the office of 2001 with pretty close accuracy, back in 1967!

Interviewing Versus Elicitation

People often ask, “What is the benefit of elicitation versus the standard interview?” Actually they have a lot in common.

Preparation in similar. You want to learn as much about that person as you can before you talk to them. Is there something about their profession that you can comment on to get the conversation flowing? Do they work in an interesting industry? Is there some industry jargon that you better know to be believed? What is their communication style? What will put them at ease to share with you early in the interview? Do you have something in common that you can build rapport with?

phone intv 2 peopleFor an interview, I list all the questions I want answered and then rephrase them in a way that makes it easier for the person to become engaged based on my research of their personality, preferred communication style and profession. This is a great exercise since mentally I start thinking about all the different ways they might respond, and in turn what other questions I might ask, that are not on my list, based on their response. I create something like a decision tree for interviewing, and you thought decision trees were just used in statistics. You can never be too prepared to talk to people, since interviews seldom go as planned, especially over the phone.

Whether you have an appointment or make a cold call, you are interrupting the person’s day, so you need to use your words wisely so as not to waste their time. With some people, a little small talk is all it takes to jump start the interview. With others, state your purpose and get to the point. Others will ask you questions to test your knowledge before they’ll share.

Elicitation is a conversational interview, a planned conversation. People remember the beginning and the end of a conversation more than what is spoken in the middle. If you are asking a series of questions they might wonder why you are asking those questions, and how they should answer. How is the interviewer going to use the information I share? Hmm, I wonder how much I should share? What’s in it for me to share this information?

So you start and end your elicitation conversation with some inconsequential questions about the weather, last night’s football score or ask what brings them to the trade show. Other than this small talk, you don’t ask questions. For some this takes practice. For me it comes naturally, since it’s human nature. When John Nolan taught us a workshop on elicitation in 1995, I remember thinking that I had been using some of these techniques and didn’t know this was elicitation.

Elicitation builds off human tendencies that most people have: a desire for recognition, showing off, curiosity, gossip, complaining, correcting you. Most people can’t keep a secret. There are numerous techniques, and I will illustrate a couple.

One of my favorites is flattery. Some people have a strong ego while others get so little recognition that stroking their ego really works.  Simple flattery often coaxes a person into a conversation that otherwise would not have taken place. Everybody, whether prominent, or very low on the totem pole, reacts to flattery as long as it’s genuine. A common way to use flattery is, “I’ve heard you’re the best…an expert…”

Another favorite is coming across as naïve. People just can’t resist enlightening you. Naïve doesn’t mean stupid. It just means that you don’t quite understand something.  For example when I spoke to a trades person about his instrument, I wanted to learn why he liked this particular competitor’s model. I simply said, “I am not as familiar with this company as I only know the market leader’s instrument which you replaced with this competitor’s model.” That’s all it took, and he told me what he liked about the competitor’s model, and why he didn’t replace it with the market leader’s.

This above call didn’t go as planned. According to my client’s database, this trades person was using one of their instruments. However, that was an error, and he was using a competitor’s model. I didn’t hesitate to find out more information about the competition.

I bet many of you who conduct primary research or interviews use elicitation techniques and don’t even realize it. If you want to learn more about this, you can read John Nolan’s book, Confidential. I gave a webinar for SLA’s Competitive Intelligence division. Check out the Slideshare deck.

Why Business Researchers Should Be Skeptical

cynthia leskyCynthia Lesky, CEO of Theshold Information, gave a great webinar entitled, “Business Research in the Age of Truthiness” to the Competitive Intelligence division of the SLA.

Cynthia extrapolates truthiness from Stephen Colbert, “Truthiness is what you want the facts to be as opposed to what the facts are.” Those reporting news want to build and keep a loyal following, so they take advantage of confirmation bias, which is a tendency for people to look for and believe information that confirms their prejudices.

Cynthia recommends three ways to improve your research skills in today’s hyper-mediated truth-challenged world:

  1.  Have a skeptical mindset as you are researching and reading articles.
  2.  Develop a strong source literacy skill. Learn which are more trustworthy. Gain industry expertise and learn to trust your intuition when something doesn’t look right.
  3. Put together a rich report at the conclusion of your research which provides as direct a response as possible to your client’s questions. Point out reporting errors and inconsistencies you discovered in your research, and new questions your research uncovered that were not answered.

Press ReleasesYou should be skeptical about the accuracy of the information you find through digital media and traditional media sources, since so much of it comes from press releases and is regurgitated more or less at face value by general news aggregators, industry aggregators and often enough by API, the source of many articles we read in newspapers these days. This information is used by bloggers, Tweeters and other digital media authors who may embellish on the press release, and sometimes do additional research to include facts that the original press release left out, or maybe not.

According to Jim O’Shea, former Senior Editor of the Star Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, most reporting today is churnalism. The story is not being reported: it’s being repeated. Newspaper staffs have been drastically cut and many papers have ceased operations or have moved to digital formatting. In The Death and Life of American Journalism, Robert McChesney and John Nichols report that as of 2008, there were .90 PR people to 100,000 versus .25 journalists, a ratio of more than three-to-one, better equipped and financed.

Remember press releases are carefully crafted to further the interests of the originating organization, whether a company, government organization, trade association or other special interest group. News aggregators, industry aggregators, newspapers, bloggers and social media writers share one thing in common: they write for a targeted (think truthiness) readership and want to increase the number of eyeballs who look at their publication. So they include data that supports their agenda within an article, especially the headline, even if it might distort the facts. The right headline helps them get found on the Internet.

Here is a blatant example of how bias distorts facts. API and Life Goes Strong, (NBC Digital Networks and Procter & Gamble Productions network of websites targeting baby boomers and promoting P&G products), conducted a poll of older workers. They both reported from the same set of results, but notice that the headlines have a different spin.

  • Poll Exposes Age Discrimination in Today’s Workforce (LifeGoesStrong.com)
  • Working Boomers Say Age is a Plus at Office (API)

So who is telling the truth? A skeptical, informed person recognizes that news contains some bias, distortion and misinformation. You also know you can’t rely on a single news source, and if the same news is repeated by many sources, it’s good idea to find the original source, so you can check its veracity and the content that JDLR (just don’t look right).

How to be a Competition Detective: Eliciting Conversation

People often ask me how I engage people so readily in conversation over the telephone.

“Who do you say you are? Why do you say you’re calling?”

The first question is easy to answer. I always say I’m Ellen Naylor.

Crazy woman on phoneThe second question is harder to answer without more context. Is it a cold call or a warm call? A cold call is when you don’t know the person and they don’t know you. A warm call is when the other person doesn’t know you, but you know them through your sources. Or it might be a hot call which is the easiest: you and the person you’re calling both know each other and why you’re calling. You have different preparation for each type of call. But you need to have a good entrée to each person so they know in short order why you’re calling, what you want and what’s in it for them to give you their time for an interview.

With all calls, you want to give the person a good reason to talk with you, and not waste their time with small talk and listen very closely to how and what they share and don’t share with you. With a cold call, I research the person’s profession and try to find out what about that profession I can relate to or not, and get the conversation going. After a few interviews you get even more ideas about what they do and don’t tend to like about their job.

In a healthcare query each person I spoke to was a recruiter for medical professionals who traveled to different hospitals around the US for work. I got their attention by mentioning that it must be challenging for their employees to be away from their families. With others, I mentioned how much I liked to travel. This simple entrée got most of them talking.

Using elicitation techniques, another great entrée for me is, “I’m Ellen Naylor and I wonder if you can help me.” Then I tell them why. People often can’t resist the urge to be helpful in our US culture, especially when talking to a female who sounds young.

People can’t resist the urge to show off a bit if you flatter them with, “I hear you’re an expert in this area,” or “I want to understand what you do and don’t like about this equipment. Companies can only make product improvements if they hear what’s wrong. They also need to hear what’s really right so they don’t go changing those features.”

If someone is a little hesitant and less interactive, I often ask if this is a bad time, and will call them back later. Other times this hesitation means they expect me to share something in return before they’ll start talking. So I will share some tidbits I have learned, and these can be my best interviews. In a recent project, I called one of these hesitant guys back at 6:30 a.m. his time. We conversed for about 45 minutes, and I felt like I had a new friend by the end.

Warmed up calls are so much easier since you don’t have to quickly convince a stranger that you’re worth talking to. However, you do need to respect their time and be polite. One way is to hone in on relevant information about them so you can ask better and tighter questions.

The bottom line is I consider who I am talking to and the questions I need to have answered. I try to think of all the ways the person might answer them, so I am more prepared for the unexpected. Calls seldom go as planned whether they’re cold, warm or hot. You are dealing with another human being. Be flexible and prepare additional questions for the unexpected turns of an interview. Don’t take yourself too seriously and keep that smile on your face.

Improve your Primary Collection through Relational Voice

Lee Glickstein

Yesterday I was reading Lee Glickstein’s relational presence description, and it spoke to me. In relational voice, you start with deep, relaxed breathing and use your voice to almost do inner calisthenics. As your voice comes out in the exhalation with great pleasure, you free up your brain and allow yourself to relax. Lee discusses this in the context of public speaking, where is the founder of Speaking Circles International.

I was thinking this exercise will strengthen those doing primary research of any type whether it’s cold calling, win loss analysis calls or trade show collection. If you learn to love your voice, and allow yourself those extra seconds to interact with those you are interviewing, you will listen more intently and talk more consciously. This is powerful stuff for those of us who interview people. In those extra seconds, which is such a short time, if you are really grounded and connected with the other person, you can think of additional ways to connect or to simply tweak the next question on your list since you might notice how they don’t like to talk much, so you shorten the question and ask it more softly.

These days the people we interview are so busy that they don’t have time for long interviews, so you need to make every minute count. The same exercise to help you reach your relational voice can help you connect with those you interview more quickly since you put yourself aside in this process, and just concentrate on the other person’s energy. Just imagine how powerful you will be when combining this skill with elicitation/interview preparation.

Check out Lee’s site, and try his exercise to get grounded with your eyes closed before you make those phone calls. I guarantee if you get fully grounded, those calls will go a whole lot better. You will also be more effective on those days when you really don’t feel like making phone calls. Try it out and let me know how it works for you!

How Intuition Can Guide Your Research & Research Business

I recently was the recipient of the AIIP’s Connections Writer’s Award, which is presented to “the writer of the best original article published in AIIP Connections each year.” Unfortunately you have to be an AIIP member to access this article. However, in the spirit of cooperative intelligence, I will provide a summary, and encourage you independent entrepreneurs to consider joining AIIP to help you grow your business. This is a group of people who want to help you succeed in your small business, whether you’re just starting out or have been in business for a while. In addition to full members who own their business, AIIP also offers associate membership to those who work in larger companies and student membership.

Critical thinking and intuition are two skills that are often overlooked in this information explosion. We often jump to conclusions with more certainty without testing our conclusions by standing back and questioning our assumptions in a broader context. Likewise, many of us have lost touch with our intuition, which I consider the barometer of veracity. Nothing replaces the gut reaction that tells a researcher that something doesn’t feel right, something is missing, or that she is confident with her findings.

I recall a project where I couldn’t understand why the target company would remain in the glass industry when they were losing more money every year in this business. I learned that the company had invested as little as it could to keep the operation running, that there were occasional accidents, and that many glass products were trashed since the quality was so bad. There were glass trash piles around the factory and it sounded like an awful place to work.

The company was making money in its other divisions, and was publicly held so there was scrutiny by analysts about its operation. My client suggested I listen to a quarterly earnings discussion, which I reluctantly agreed to as I figured I could more quickly read it later. Boy was I wrong. One analyst asked the CEO about the failing glass business. The CEO’s voice turned emotional as he skirted the question in a mournful tone of voice. His Dad had bought the glass business, and the CEO was emotionally attached to it. He would feel like a failure were he to sell this business.

My intuition told me that it would take a major bad event to push this CEO out of the glass business, such as a bad factory accident or a disgruntled stockholder. A couple of years later, a disgruntled stockholder, an investment company with a large share of stock ownership, issued a formal written complaint (Form 13D) with the SEC. Divestiture followed. My client was ready to grab the business.

I have been in business for almost 20 years, and still make mistakes when I don’t listen to or trust my intuition. Listening to your intuition is one of the most precious gifts you have in life. It can save you a lot of time in the research and competitive intelligence processes, and can help you qualify your sales prospects and deal with people authentically.

Personality Profiling: Gauge Your Competitor’s Management Team

Last week I attended AIIP’s annual conference in Indianapolis, IN. I learned so much about running a small business better!

I gave a talk on competitive intelligence, and how information professionals can make a decent living by adding this skill to their research toolkit. Many are good at the collection and organization of findings. However, one area that folks seemed less familiar with was analytic tools, which allow you to communicate findings more persuasively if you use the right tool. In an earlier post, I described the Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG) Matrix model  and how I used this to set the marketing stage for an acquisition some years ago.

Another great analytic tool is personality profiling. Most often companies study their competitor’s management team or key employees such as the head of R&D. Usually their strengths and weaknesses follow them from job to job. It’s good to understand their predisposition; what mistakes they have made in the past; and what blind spots they might have. You can obtain the intelligence to develop personality profiles easily enough for executives in publicly held companies since you have plenty of sources such as speeches made to various audiences such as industry conferences and the financial community. It can be trickier to find information for executives running privately held companies. I find that local sources are the best, such as local newspapers and magazines, the chamber of commerce, economic development offices and perhaps their schools. In some cases you will get lucky and locate a chatty employee or ex-employee through a social network such as LinkedIn, Twitter, an industry Ning, forum or association.

Don’t just focus on their professional experience as their personal life is just as important, and often highly influences their professional decision-making. Sometimes you get great intelligence through an executive’s favorite charitable cause or hobby. The non-profit that they make donations to probably has some information on this executive, since they will need this information to pitch their cause to him or her.

My favorite grid for organizing what you need to collect and how to organize it comes from Walter Barndt, Professor and author of User Directed Competitive Intelligence. This is one of my favorite competitive intelligence books since Walter gets the reader to empathize with the user of competitive intelligence, rather than simply describing how to conduct competitive intelligence.

For those who want to read some books on analytical tools, I have listed three favorites here. Just recently, another analytical book, Analyst’s Cookbook, Volume 2 was published by Mercyhurst College for the Kindle. I have not read it yet but see that it’s a short book, less than 90 pages and retails for $4.99. Here is the Amazon connection to purchase it.

Six Things you Can Learn from Conducting Win Loss Interviews

I am always surprised that more companies don’t have a formal win loss program since the ROI is amazing, and what you learn from this process can often be quickly implemented.

To conduct win loss, interview your customers or lost customers shortly after the sales event to find out why they chose to do business with you or decided on a competitor. The data gathered combines sales intelligence and knowledge from customers, competitors, and your marketplace. Those companies that do win loss analysis claim to improve their win rate by 15-30%. That’s a nice return on investment.

Here are some improvements I have helped companies uncover through win loss interviews and analysis.

1. Improve sales professionalism: Benefit-more customers and customer retention.

Beware of the sales person who is fixated with, “How are we doing compared to the competition?” This is a turnoff. In one recent case, this behavior cost the sale. The customer was strongly leaning towards this company’s solution, but the account rep rubbed the decision-maker the wrong way with his pushiness to close the deal. This was a gift to the competition. This behavior is most injurious when your product really isn’t that different from the competitor’s.

2. Improve the quality of your customer testimonials: Benefit-more customers

This one comes up often. Make sure you have picked respectable and responsible people among your customers to represent your product or service. Make sure they really know your product, and can answer just about any question your prospect might have. Provide enough customer testimonials, so prospects have a choice and you are not overburdening your testimonial customers.

3. Improve implementation, training and service: Benefit-customer retention

I hear this one time and time again. Companies often get careless after the sale is made, and don’t hold the customer’s hand enough during implementation and during that period of time when the customer is ramping up and learning how to use your product or service. Make it easy for them. Ideally assign them a dedicated rep, so they don’t have to repeat their story to a new “help desk” rep every time. This continuous repetition is also not efficient for your staff. Get it right sooner and you will have happier customers, less downtime and fewer help desk calls.

4. Focus on Product Features Your Customers Value the Most: Benefit-more customers and customer retention

You will find out about features that your product doesn’t offer that the competition does or does better. This isn’t always a quick fix, but sometimes it is. However, this knowledge can fuel product development. More immediately this information helps Sales focus on your product features that customers value the most, perhaps by vertical market, knowledge that also comes out of win loss interviews.

5. Learn Which Clients Are and Are Not Good Prospects: Benefit-qualify the right customers sooner. More customers

Good sales people tend to focus on solving the customer’s business problems with your company’s solution. They usually are not fixated on the competition, but rather on your company’s solution. Win loss data can help provide fuel for how and why your solution is the best, and where it is not so strong. Knowing which clients are not good prospects for your service gives Sales more time to focus on better prospects, which improves close rates and revenue.

6. Don’t Forget to Research Wins: Benefit-customer retention and incredible intelligence, not just competitive intelligence

Many companies just want to focus on losses. Wow, are they missing the boat. Your customers are usually a better source of intelligence. Generally they will spend more time telling you what you’re doing right; what you’re doing wrong; and provide you with ideas for product development and the competition. They will tell you about implementation, service and how well your product is working for them (or not). Psychologically they want you to be successful. They chose your solution. Their sharing is a reflection on their good business decision using your company’s solution.

Conclusion: This is just a smattering of what you can uncover in win loss interviewing. If you analyze the data, you can quickly uncover trends in your business, and more importantly take corrective action.

What have you uncovered in win loss interviews to help your company or your client?

Connecting with Business Colleagues in Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time for sharing, caring and expressing gratitude. I am grateful to have so many wonderful friends in business. In the spirit of cooperative intelligence and sharing, I recently was a panelist in a SLA Competitive Intelligence division (CID) webinar on “Integrating Marketing and Sales to Capture & Deliver Intelligence.”  While this is an SLA CID member benefit, all four of us panelists posted our slides on Slideshare.

I will list us in the order we presented so you have the benefit of a good flow:

Susan Berkman: Producing Intelligence for Sales & Marketing

Marcy PhelpsCompetitive Intelligence for Marketing Professionals

Ellen NaylorCollaborating with Sales

Anna Shallenberger: Research & Analyzing Competitors

Sponsored by Aurora WDC aka Arik & Derek Johnson

Likewise we just concluded a series of Colorado Future Ready blogs on SLA’s FR365 site which features a blog a day. This was initiated by Cindy Romaine, current SLA President as of Jan. 1, 2011. Here is the list and links to each of our Colorado blogs:

Who is SLA? by Connie Clem

Introducing eBooks into the Denver Public Schools by Charles Leckenby

The Value of Information Professionals by Laura Cullerton

How Cooperative Intelligence will make you Future Ready by Ellen Naylor

Economic Gardening by Recca Larson

Collaborative Librarianship by Joseph Kraus

Take a Risk: Reap the Rewards by Shelly Walchak

In closing, here is a poem about Thanksgiving that one of my Facebook buddies shared today. Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow or not, I think it presents a good way to view life!

Thanksgiving…. More Than A Day

As Thanksgiving Day rolls around,

It brings up some facts, quite profound.

We may think that we’re poor,

Feel like bums, insecure,

But in truth, our riches astound.

We have friends and family we love;

We have guidance from heaven above.

We have so much more

Than they sell in a store,

We’re wealthy, when push comes to shove.

So add up your blessings, I say;

Make Thanksgiving last more than a day.

Enjoy what you’ve got;

Realize it’s a lot,

And you’ll make all your cares go away.

By Karl Fuchs

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