H2H human to human

Successful Sales Processes: H2H Strategies Versus B2C and B2B

Advertising and marketing consultants often have multiple definitions of “success” when evaluating sales strategies. Terms like “cost per click” (CPC) and “cost per thousand” (CPM) impressions are familiar examples used in internet marketing discussions involving business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) sales processes. However, some observers (and I am one of them) would argue that the popular applications of B2C and B2B overlook the all-important human element in favor of depersonalized marketing segmentation.

H2H human to human


Bottom Line Improvements

One time-tested standard for success deserves regular consideration — The Bottom Line. For anyone unfamiliar with the accounting origins of this term, the bottom line on financial statements displays net profits after expenses are subtracted from the top line (gross revenues). How can the bottom line be improved? Here is the short answer: By reducing expenses and increasing income.

Of course, improving the bottom line is far from easy. Nevertheless, there are straightforward strategies for advancing any organization in the right direction. The SlideShare presentation shown below summarizes strategic solutions that include the following five examples:

  • Avoid recurring business problems (I refer to these as Zombie Business Problems)
  • Improve the use of business proposals
  • Add or improve inbound marketing sales processes
  • Optimize the Power of No
  • Emphasize contingency planning (Always Have a Plan B)

Human-to-Human (H2H) Sales Processes

Change in any form can entail difficult transitions. This observation goes a long way to explain why so many marketing “experts” are still focused on the aging concepts of business to consumer and business to business to describe sales campaigns. To replace these concepts, one viable solution is to adopt H2H strategies — human to human. Three illustrations of this evolution are inbound marketing, business proposals and Thinking Outside of the Blog.

Inbound Marketing — A sales process with a foundation of inbound marketing replaces depersonalized B2B and B2C strategies such as advertising and cold calling with a personalized customer-centric approach like H2H educational content that is geared toward niche audiences — for example, white papers and case studies.

Business Proposals — An example of adding the H2H element to this marketing approach is to initiate or increase the use of unsolicited business proposals that are directed to an individual and not a company.

Think Outside of the Blog — I have written extensively about this concept. It builds upon the foundations of inbound marketing. The goal that I am advancing with “Thinking Outside the Blog” is to persuade managers and decision-makers for organizations of all sizes to abandon the over-dependence on blogs and instead use a different solution — one that instead depends heavily on the more human approach to communication embodied by H2H processes.

Common Themes in the H2H Evolution

The Bottom Line:

I consistently see several common themes in a successful transition to human to human strategies and sales processes. Here are two of them:

  1. A Plan B (also Plan C and Plan D) mentality
  2. Preventing recurring mistakes and problems

H2H sales strategy

The next step:

If you would like to talk before starting a business writing, consulting or career training project with Steve Bush, you can arrange a no-cost preliminary call (15-30 minutes) here:

Schedule a Call with Steve Bush


How Has Promoting Blogs and Websites Changed?

Should we just keep on doing things the same way? Is everything working how it should on your websites and blogs?

It is always appropriate to remember some of the advice provided by Albert Einstein. His observations have proven to be timeless and universal. Here is one piece of wisdom which he offered: “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.”

In terms of updating and revising elements which will provide the best possible promotion of your blog and website, a combination of the following should do the trick:

  • Webpages with original information that is not duplicate or spun content.
  • Content ranging from a bare minimum of 700 words to 1500 words or more per page.
  • Original (not stock) images.
  • Video content.
  • Appropriate keyword density.

In the latest version of Build It and They Will Come, the five business writing elements listed above will be found and valued by the search engines and they will do your promoting for you.

What you don’t do in promoting your website can be as important as what you do. In the evolving world of search engine optimization, it is very easy to to use the “flavor of the month” and keep on using it until it has been overdone.

promoting websites and blogs

Article marketing is a very prominent example of running an SEO strategy into the ground. This happened in several steps. The first was to offer authors two to half a dozen or more self-serving links. Squidoo and HubPages got their start in part by appealing to link-hungry bloggers. I have used Squidoo since 2006, but in the past ten months they have lost virtually 100% of their value for promoting websites. In my view, Squidoo is on the “do not do” list for website promotion, and HubPages also appears to have lost search engine appeal for marketing benefits. (Update: Squidoo was sold to HubPages and no longer exists as a separate entity.)

The next step was to offer article distribution services with hundreds of variations built upon one article. While search engines did not initially count each of these versions as duplicate content, they eventually caught on to the trick being played upon them. Search engine results have now severely penalized article spinning, so you should definitely avoid that in your efforts for website promotion.

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I also think that virtually all versions of article marketing are effectively dead even when you write one original article and submit it to a quality article directory like EzineArticles. I have also used this site since 2006, and I think that they did everything right, but I stopped using them several months ago. The value of promotional links from an article directory is so minimal (and even possibly negative in value) that it is not a cost-effective marketing strategy for 2013 and beyond.

Eliminating ClickBank links could also be a winning strategy. In other words, by avoiding the use of affiliate links to the myriad ClickBank marketing opportunities, your website is likely to improve in search engine rankings. Google (and the rest of the internet) have reached a point of no return and seem to be penalizing links to affiliate promotions of all kinds. ClickBank is simply the biggest of the targets at this point.

What would Albert Einstein do?

Too Much Information or Not Enough?


When individuals are using the internet to find answers or information, they usually have very specific expectations about what they will find. The use of search engines such as Google encourages some to think that the answer is just a click away, but a more realistic perspective is that an internet search is just the beginning of a long and demanding journey.

At the other end of the spectrum, the authors of internet information are constantly waging an internal battle about how much information is needed to successfully accomplish their writing goal. On the one hand, it is always prudent to be concise in any form of communication. With this line of thinking, it is easy to fall into a potential word trap of using as few words as possible. Unfortunately this approach can make it more difficult for search engine users to find the hypothetical short answer because “short” is not necessarily a good thing in terms of new content or blog posts on the internet.

On the proverbial other hand, writers can periodically be concerned that there might such a thing as “too much information” because of potential boredom or a short attention span. The practical writing solution is to focus on providing helpful and relevant information and let the length of the explanation evolve naturally.

social media sites

Love or Hate Social Media?

social media sites

Businesses and individuals everywhere are adding social media to their growing list of companies and activities which qualify for confusion and uncertainty as to whether we should love them or hate them. Banks were a previous leading candidate for this informal ongoing assessment that there will probably always be services that most of wish we could live without but cannot in the current environment. While banking institutions have not really been displaced in this regard, they do now have some regular company.

Business communications is always full of challenges like this. In the case of social media sites, practical communication strategies are needed if for no other reason than the growing unpopularity of some “popular” choices.

business finance communications

Commercial Finance Communication Strategies to Reduce Common Risks

business finance communications

Improving Risk Management with Business Finance Communication Strategies

The prudent use of risk management is just beginning to emerge on a larger scale for small businesses through improved business finance communication strategies. Most small business owners will readily admit to an intense dislike of communicating with their banker, so it should really not be so surprising to discover that many critical details get overlooked as a result. Putting commercial lender communications on the back burner will understandably cause unnecessary problems and risks to emerge sooner or later.

The most effective commercial finance communication strategies will vary significantly from one small business to another. The usual lack of a simplified strategy will probably discourage many small business owners from even attempting to pursue meaningful efforts for achieving improved business solutions. Certainly specialized help such as business finance communications consultants should be considered given the potential problems and costs which are likely to accrue if serious problem solving is delayed or not even attempted until it is realistically too late.

Small Business Finance Communications and Practical Business Solutions

Small Business Finance Communications and Business Solutions

The possibility that small business owners might benefit from specialized small business finance communications help rarely jumps to the top of their action list when commercial borrowers are evaluating how to solve their current financial problems. The failure of small businesses to dedicate enough attention to areas such as business bank communication and commercial lender negotiating almost always ends up being a critical mistake that is eventually regretted. For a number of reasons, this avoidable and unfortunate scenario is being witnessed with even more frequency.

One major reason for small businesses not seeking small business communications help in a timely manner is related to their own internal limitations rather than the external complications involving banks and other commercial lenders. It is an unfortunate reality that small business owners frequently have an excessive number of important activities simultaneously competing for their attention. In the absence of more time or money (or both of these finite resources), some high priority action items will end up as unfinished or not even attempted.

A second reason for inaction is the increasing uncertainty and confusion that prevails throughout the small business finance lending community. Banks are simply not making commercial loans and business mortgages at a rate that will sustain normal working capital financing needs for small businesses. Banking failures are at a historically high level, and even more banks are defined as having serious operating deficiencies by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The biggest banks seem preoccupied by crisis management involving derivatives, foreclosures and exposure to several new risk areas because of their adventurous investment practices. Many lenders are devoting more financial resources to political lobbying activities than to commercial finance services.

Perhaps this is not so surprising after all because of the high profit margins that credit cards have generated for the bankers over a long period of time, and recent government legislation has finally reduced or eliminated some of the easy money for them. It is hard to sympathize with any bank complaints that refer to how difficult it will be to replace revenue sources like credit card processing which routinely gives them a rate of return between fifteen and thirty per cent. Most observers consider these lofty rates to qualify for predatory lending treatment, but the typical bank interpretation has so far been to look for other ways to replicate the quick and easy and immediately profitable revenue streams.

While it should be needless to say, it really must be said repeatedly until it is fully realized that small business financing does not meet an artificial commercial bank lending standard to produce a profit margin of over twenty per cent. In the absence of meeting this test, banks seem to have established a rainy day fund for themselves by reducing traditional lending activity and laying off thousands of their employees while simultaneously increasing executive compensation even though they continue to be scrutinized for acts of both omission and commission during the past several years. In the most recent outrageous example of banking institutions placing their interest well ahead of their customers, a financial holding company run by a former governor and senator has declared bankruptcy while simultaneously noting that over a billion dollars of client funds cannot be located.

The bleak picture portrayed so far in this discussion was previously described as avoidable. Despite the concerns and potential problems noted above, there are practical business solutions for small businesses interested in exploring their options further. The chaos which prevails in the world of commercial banks can be managed and facilitated by commercial bank consulting and commercial lender negotiating as well as business lender communications that fall outside of the need for specialized negotiating strategies. Internal business limitations can often be minimized sufficiently through the prudent use of small business finance consulting and small business communication consultants. However, even with successful use of external professional help, it is likely that any realistic solution will still involve a meaningful amount of effort and time by each small business owner.


  Commercial Lender Negotiation Strategies

There is possibly no more prominent example of how small business negotiating strategies have been underutilized than the usual lack of genuine negotiation practices when most small businesses are working with lenders. This observation is not only applicable for recent circumstances but also when looking at the past forty to fifty years. What has made the situation more critical and actionable for small business owners is the chaotic economic climate that has resulted in a series of negative events for business banks and other lending sources. In short, a bad situation has been made worse because of complex factors such as reduced commercial property sales activity, decreasing real estate values and shrinking bank assets.

Whether analyzing small business finance communications in general or commercial lender negotiations in particular, any small business owner will probably readily admit that they would like to be able to devote more efforts to improving both management functions. However as any manager must do constantly, time and financial resources need to be juggled and allocated according to a wide variety of practical considerations. It is unfortunately not as simple as realizing that there is a problem. Instead the problems will need to be prioritized, and small business solutions will be implemented in accordance with the realistic priorities that prevail for each unique situation.

Prioritizing and managing tasks and problems is realistically the first order of business for developing successful negotiation strategies to deal with commercial lenders. For example, it can be relatively pointless to assign the top priority to negotiating a new working capital loan agreement with a bank (or other lending source) if that means other critical functions will be ignored for any substantial time period. When small business owners begin to reflect about the delicate balance that prevails within each of their time management scenarios as part of a candid assessment of what to do first (and what can wait until last) and how much time to devote to any given activity, it often helps them to realize that they might indeed need some external help to get through their particular set of obstacles.

The prioritization process can also help point small businesses in the right direction in the way that it generally illustrates just how unique management and financial problems are for each circumstance. The unmistakable and transferable lesson to be learned from that particular realization is that the most appropriate strategies for business lender negotiations will almost surely vary widely from one small business situation to another. This lack of a constant formula for commercial lender negotiating will make the path to practical communications solutions more challenging because the realistic small business negotiation strategies likely to be most successful in dealings with business lenders will need to be evaluated within the unique context of each borrower.


  Small Business Communications Choices and Options

The harsh conditions currently prevailing in the world of commercial finance are sufficiently difficult that small businesses simply cannot afford to overlook any possible advantage available to them. Nevertheless that is exactly what is happening when a small business owner fails to thoroughly consider all of their business finance options. This scenario is often tied to a regular failure to utilize small business communications choices such as commercial lender negotiating and business lender communications.

While it might seem surprising that a borrower would intentionally overlook any reasonable business finance options, the practical reality for anyone currently owning a commercial enterprise is that both time and financial constraints often prevent them from doing what they really need to do in all too many circumstances. It is likely that many businesses have been accustomed to being less than perfect in attending to details such as timely negotiations regarding their working capital financing and commercial mortgage loans. In a friendlier banking climate than the one now facing all of us, this lack of perfection might go unnoticed. But the chaos which began impacting banks in 2008 (and much sooner than that in many cases) has probably changed the face of commercial lending forever.

Very few small business owners can run their commercial activities without at least some regular amount of external financing. For any borrower needing either a small or large amount of financial help to keep their business afloat, this critical need must therefore be treated as a high priority action item and not shoved aside casually as if it does not matter. The financial health and survival of the business literally depends on treating the situation with the utmost attention to detail in a timely manner.

Within this context of what is absolutely necessary to ensure that the business survives, it will suddenly become more clear that improved commercial lender communications can play a critical role in getting the job done. An increased focus on this as well as other aspects of small business communications can quickly make a difference. In order to reach this vital juncture, however, it will be essential for commercial borrowers to evaluate their options and choices and then proceed with timely action so that avoidable problems and risks do not come into play.

Stephen Bush is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of AEX Commercial Financing Group (based in Ohio). He is a graduate of Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) and obtained an MBA from the University of California, Los Angeles. Steve has worked with small business owners for over 25 years. He has also served as an officer in the U.S. Navy Supply Corps and as a business/government advisor. AEX provides small business consulting and business finance communications help throughout the United States.