Shared posts

24 Aug 17:16

Here Is the Incredible Sales Enablement Plan Worth Billions

by Lisa

By Gerhard Gschwandtner

After Elay Cohen was named Senior Vice President of Sales Productivity at Salesforce, he pulled off an amazing feat: He accelerated growth and turned a $500 million enterprise into a $3+ billion enterprise.

That’s why we invited Cohen to speak at the Sales 3.0 Conference in Philadelphia on June 19. In his session, “Crack the Code to Sales Growth with a Winning Sales Enablement Strategy,” he will reveal the hyper-growth sales strategies that made Salesforce the global industry leader.

If you register now to attend the conference, you’ll learn how Elay’s sales enablement best practices and adaptive processes create an unstoppable sales force. As Elay has revealed to me in an interview, a success mantra was part of his proven blueprint to successful sales enablement.

Here’s a summary of Elay’s success mantra:

S – “Seed and grow.” They ultimately believed that, if they could win a customer, a division, or a team, they would be able to seed the success of Salesforce into that business.

U – “Users sell for you.” They believed that, if they could get their customers to share their stories, the customers would do the selling for them.

C – “Customize the demos.” They always tailored the demo to the customer’s business and used the customer’s vernacular.

C – “Connect the dots.” They figured the chances were high that they already knew someone with a connection in the prospect’s company. To use those relationships, they connected the dots.

E – “Experience events.” Think about Dreamforce. Each year, thousands of customers come to the event, get energized, and get connected to other customers. This creates value.

S – “Show them the money.” They used a classic value-based selling approach to build political maps and understand the customer’s business processes.

Elay firmly believes one of the most critical elements of success was the tight partnership between him, the enablement organization, and the frontline sales managers. (His book, SalesHood: How Winning Sales Managers Inspire Sales Teams to Succeed, takes the best of enablement and teaches managers how to bring it to their teams.) And Salesforce founder Marc Benioff agreed: He told Elay he wanted every single salesperson on message, sharing the same stories, and selling the same way. Elay’s team knew their corporate pitches and the playbooks. As Elay told me: “We always had support and expectations that we were going to deliver excellent sales enablement.”

You can hear more from Elay in the video above, and you can also register now to join us at the Sales 3.0 Conference in Philadelphia on June 19.

The post Here Is the Incredible Sales Enablement Plan Worth Billions appeared first on Sales 3.0 Conference.

09 Jun 17:10

To drive pricing innovation look outside your industry - Caspar de Bono and the Financial Times B2B Story

by Steven Forth
blog_interviews_Caspar.png

Over the past two decades, the Financial Times has transformed from a newspaper with 80% of revenue from print advertising to a digital service with 60% of revenues from subscriptions. This has been done while many newspapers have struggled to remain relevant, have lost readers and cut editorial staff. The Financial Times pursued a different strategy with an innovative approach to pricing. It has been able to maintain investment in editorial and improve the digital service and to fund this change from cash flow. It did not need to go outside the business for investment. How has it done this? We spoke with Financial Times Managing Director B2B Caspar de Bono who is part of the FT leadership team.

Caspar has kept a map of the key decisions they have made along the way and what the outcomes have been. The image below is a summary representation of this.

The Financial Times decision path

Ibbaka: Tell us a bit about your background and how you came up with the B2B pricing strategy.

Caspar: While I was doing an MBA at the London Business School I paid close attention to understanding pricing. Pricing is central to the identity of a business and is a core part of its positioning and strategy. We assume too much about why customers value a supplier and spend too much time describing the value of what we produce in terms that matter to us.

This was true in the newspaper business during the shift from print to digital. There was an assumption at the time that information should be free. I thought of this as a pricing choice. ‘Free’ is a price, not the absence of a price. Pricing was playing a fundamental part in the shift to digital. It was being driven by the desire of new entrants to gain market share not by customer need. There was a market for professionally sourced, reliable, independent news and expert analysis as well as low cost to produce, free news.

At the Financial Times, we had to move quickly and we made our choices based on our market segment. We did not set out to be a price leader for the sake of it. We went back to first principles: what business we are in, why we are in it, who are our customers and how do we get paid in the future? Given where the business was, and where we could see the industry going, we really had no choice but to act. Conforming was the bigger risk.

Ibbaka: How did you learn what you needed to know in order to make these choices?

Caspar: I joined the Financial Times in 1995 when we launched our first website. I started as a graduate trainee. I have moved around the business doing many roles. In 2004, I learned a relevant lesson while managing an FT subsidiary, a specialist magazine business. We had a market leading, advertising funded, trade publication for the 24,000 independent financial advisors (IFAs) in the UK. We found that the willingness to pay for online advertising to this audience was less than one-tenth what it was for the same audience in print and prices were falling. Advertising inventory was oversupplied and undifferentiated. This mattered; if advertising prices were going to fall to a fraction of what they had been then the specialist advertising business was in serious trouble. It would have been fantasy to assume we were going to expand the market. 23,000 out of the 24,000 IFAs in the market were already reading the publication. We could not easily expand internationally as the content was specific to the regulations and tax rules of the UK market. Volume would not make up for lower prices.

I was not alone in realizing this when I joined the FT board in 2007. We could see that specialist publishing would not be sustainable from advertising alone. At the same time, I became responsible for Intellectual Property licensing at the FT. This included the wholesaling of rights to republish FT content to news aggregators like Factiva, Lexis-Nexis and media monitoring companies. We also had a very small corporate newspaper sales team who started selling access to FT.com. However, we were told by prospective corporate customers  ‘We value the Financial Times, but as we get it via the news aggregators we don’t need to buy access to FT.com from you as well.’ The Financial Times was providing value, but we, the Financial Times, were not claiming that value. We were letting news aggregators claim it.

The go-to-market strategy for consumer focussed digital business was to give away the content for free, build an audience, and fund the effort through a VC and if possible, get other people and companies to provide the content for free. Many established media organisations were also keen to play this game. Including FT.com, which was free until 2001.

There was a popular saying promoted by big tech in the period ‘that information wants to be free.’ At the Financial Times, we decided not to follow this trend and to take a different path. We were considered out of touch with the way of modern media as a result.

We agreed on three important principles in this period. (1) Our work was valuable to readers and they were prepared to pay for quality. (For example, FT news stories have to be verified by two independent sources). (2) We had to have a direct contractual relationship with readers in a digital world. (3) That first party relationship would allow us to better understand customer needs, we would measure demand in a digital world and adapt our strategy in response.

We launched our first website in 1995. By 200,1 we had a binary model. Some web published content was always free; some was subscription only. This worked for a while but then plateaued at about 90,000 subscribers by 2005. We could see the ratio of subscription revenue to customer acquisition costs heading for zero. This was not a business that was going to scale. So in 2007, we did two things. We withdrew from the wholesale B2B rights market (licensing our intellectual property to others to sell). We introduced a metered model for consumers, where readers would initially get access to any articles but the quantity was limited per month, after which they would be invited to subscribe. We began to explore how we could be more creative with the way we licensed IP. Figuring out how to manage and price our IP provided a way forward in B2B markets. It also gave us the confidence to pull out of the App Store when Apple decided to replace the publisher as vendor of subscription products.

Ibbaka: Why were you able to see this and not others?

Caspar: There were many influences. Hearing customers talk about the value and strength of our brand and my experience with the IFA product. We knew that advertising would not be enough to carry the business. There was my own upbringing. I had been taught to think in a contrarian way and to look for ideas where other people are not looking.

Ibbaka: Is this a difficult skill to cultivate?

Well, it is my father’s view (Caspar is the son of the lateral thinker Edward de Bono) that everyone can develop this ability. We each make choices about how and where to focus our attention. I decided to spend time looking at what was not being looked at, to consider alternative possibilities. A linear supply chain is only necessary for physical goods. In a digital world, goods cost almost nothing to distribute and replicate, so why not create a triangular supply chain, in a similar way to software licensing?

Financial Times rights model architecture

Ibbaka: How did you go about building the team you needed?

Caspar: Many of the B2B team have worked on this from the beginning. James Mann, our B2B sales director was also dealing with the substitution effect of news aggregators in 2007. He is the the same person who went to talk to our customers and was told “Go away, we already get the Financial Times through Factiva.” As a result, he could give first hand evidence of what customers were saying and was a strong advocate for changing our relationship with aggregators.

We created a solution that would allow the customer to continue to benefit from the various services offered via multiple aggregators, while the Financial Times contracted directly with customers for the rights to use FT journalism on any platforms.

This was an adaptive response, one that gave customers what they wanted (aggregated search, multiplatform rights, transparency of usage and pricing) and the FT what we needed (a direct relationship with the customer).

Ibbaka: This seems to me an example of that Roger Martin would call ‘integrative thinking.’

Caspar: Yes. It can be more interesting to build a business under constraints. It means improvising with what you have in response to what you hear.

Ibbaka: Were you focused on new ways to create value?

Caspar: Yes and remember we made this change as the financial crisis broke. We did not have surplus funds to invest in this transition. We could not cut off the aggregators completely because customers valued their platforms and applications. They still play an important role in helping readers find and use articles in sector specific workflows. In fact, the FT is now available via 60 third party channels under this new model, compared with 7 when we wholesaled rights. This is because there is no cost for the channel to host FT content, as the customer pays the FT directly for FT rights. In setting out to achieve the goal of separating the value of search from the value of the content, we have opened up more possibilities for how the customer can use the FT.

The direct relationship with our customers meant we could respond better to their needs.

Let me give an example. Talking with business schools, we found that although they make extensive use of case studies, they found the case studies dated and US centric. Faculty and students were using the Financial Times to complement case studies with newer information and international examples. So we made it possible to annotate articles and share them more easily across an international network.

Ibbaka: What new needs are you seeing and how will these impact your pricing?

Caspar: We have a premium digital offer priced at £8.60 per week and a standard digital offer priced at £5.35 per week.

We are using customer insights to improve our premium offer. We could see from aggregated statistics that demand for content on two topics was outpacing our supply. So we moved our China research content into FT.com premium, it had previously been a separate business to FT.com. While our colleague in editorial created an M&A sub brand for Premium FT.com called Due Diligence. As a result, we have been able to increase pricing for the premium offer at about 5% per year and maintain renewal rates.

When we sell B2B, we start with the premium price but we don’t charge for everyone who might use the service. The price for a group subscription depends on how many readers are “engaged”. Engagement based pricing is based on observations of the behaviour of B2C subscribers (Engagement Score = Frequency x Square Root of Volume over Recency +1 see Lessons from the Professional Pricing Society Spring 2018 Conference). We can see from reading and purchasing behaviour that readers who are engaged are getting value from our journalism. It is worth subscribing. Our goal has been to help readers find relevant content consistently and thereby grow engagement. We share near real time and detailed usage statistics with our corporate customers on the utilisation of their group subscriptions. This empowers the customer to manage their licence and get the most out of our service. We demonstrate transparency by sharing the usage data so we can explain and evidence the connection between engagement and the value of the license.

Now we are exploring how we might add further value to our corporate customers and how to price these services. It has taken a while for us as an organisation to expand our definition of the customer. Our standard perception is that customers means individual readers as consumers. It is a persona we all relate to. However, we also have 5,000 organisations as the customer, for example, a consultancy or central bank. This will have to be based on the value we bring to the company or team as a whole and not just to the individual. We are learning about corporate needs that are not held by consumers and that creates opportunities to differentiate our services and invest where there is additional demand.

Ibbaka: What have you been learning from other industries?

Caspar: I deliberately look for inspiration outside of my own industry. RFV (to calculate engagement) is a concept we adapted from retail and catalogue direct marketing. Usage based pricing is borrowed from the software as a service industry; although, what I am seeing as a buyer of business software is “any usage is assumed to be valuable” rather than a threshold or type of usage that is aligned to customer value.

We are using engagement as a proxy to value. We are exploring how to get closer to value in the way that Rolls Royce has done with its Power by the Hour program (see the Wharton article ‘Power by the Hour’: Can Paying Only for Performance Redefine How Products Are Sold and Serviced?) We are searching for parallels to this. We believe our current ideas are the least worse so far. We expect to find better answers by asking customers, considering ideas from other industries, working creatively within constraints, and looking at the situation differently.

Subscribe

Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates.

Email Address Sign Up

We respect your privacy.

Thank you!
09 Jun 17:09

Run Your Business Better With These 4 Tools

by Susan Gilbert

Four Business Management Tools to Help Your Company More Profitable

4 Business Management Tools to Help You Become More Profitable

When it comes to managing a full schedule while gaining new clients you need to be efficient as possible. By managing your projects and improving your tracking you can make more sales in less time. There are helpful resources that can help improve the process and keep your projects on track. Do you need to make your business more productive? Take advantage of these tools for entrepreneurs and small business owners, and let me know how these work for you!

1) Tap into hundreds of leads and influencers – NinjaOutreach

Find more prospects and open new doors of opportunity. NinjaOutreach includes powerful search and CRM that will enable your business to connect with leaders in your industry as well as ramp up your lead generation. Use their software to grow your blog, gain more guest blogging opportunities, promote your content, and much more. Easily track conversations and campaigns all from one simple dashboard.

2) Create, market, and sell courses online – Thinkific

If you are looking for more exposure for your brand through consumer education then you will love this platform. Thinkific helps your company create courses that can be fully customized with your own design. You control the pricing, student information, ect. The responsive support team is there to help your business make any teaching class a success.

3) Powerful visual marketing automation – Ontraport

Create highly converting campaigns in minutes. Ontraport is an easy to use online tool, which can improve your customer’s experience as well as drive up referrals and sales. Their visual reporting provides the information your business needs to help increase your bottom line and outreach. Their templates include per-designed sales pages, emails, and more.

4) CRM management for freelancers and business – Dubsado

Improve the client process and tell your branding story as well. Dubsado allows you to combine your tools into one place where you can better manage your customer base. This will enable you to give each one individualized attention while streamlining your marketing and budget at the same time.

Hopefully you will find these business tools useful to your productivity and growth. Are there any that you would like to add as well?

09 Jun 17:07

The Real-Life Impact of Sales and Marketing Alignment

by Matt Ellis

PhotoMIX-Company / Pixabay

Listen, I can tell you about sales enablement and sales & marketing alignment until I’m blue in the face, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to believe me or listen closely. That’s fine, I am but a mere blogger just trying to spread my truths into the Universe, and whoever happens to listen and walk away more informed, then great.

But, what if I were to tell you that one of the most prestigious universities in the world conducted their own study to determine the impact of sales and marketing misalignment? You’re interested now, right? It’s fine, that doesn’t hurt my feelings. Not like this is my career or livelihood or anything.

Anyway, Harvard Business School conducted a study in which they attempted to find the results of sales and marketing misalignment. The researchers presented 150 B2B sellers with four situations that each had unique stressors on the alignment between Sales and Marketing.

The results, while not wholly groundbreaking (misalignment is bad!), provide some valuable insights into the softer side of misalignment. Rather than demonstrating the cold-hard facts of misalignment, this study highlighted how it affects team morale, goal accomplishment, and motivation.

Sales and Marketing Alignment Effects

The first result that the study notes is perhaps the most interesting. It also is the most straightforward of the findings. Simply put: a misalignment of goals is a strong demotivator. “When two goals are misaligned, it reduces the sales force’s perception that they can achieve their goal.”

Because only sellers were surveyed the results are oriented around the effects on sellers, but it’s easy to correlate their findings to marketers. An organization that does not have clearly defined goals for both Sales and Marketing—as well as shared goals—risks creating an unmotivated workforce. The study goes on to say, “The effect of the misaligned goals reduced hope… and created a defeatist climate.”

The study discovered a second, related danger to misalignment. This second finding states that misaligned goals have a compounding effect in terms of perceived difficulty and demotivation. “Misaligned goals are perceived… as more difficult,” the study says. “While difficult goals are not necessarily problematic, the challenge is when the sales force believes that the misalignment of goals is simply unnecessary, or that the goal combination makes it impossible to be successful.”

The respondents in the survey felt something that is common to all walks of life. Why should I push myself to meet a goal that I think is fundamentally wrong and arrived at by incorrect means? Executives at organizations need to be sure that the goals they set for their teams are realistic and in keeping with expectations. Obviously, there will always be disagreements, but it’s necessary to ensure that there is not an organization-wide displeasure with goals.

Many times, we talk about how sales and marketing alignment can be improved through technology. And it absolutely can be! But when discussing this topic, we also need to keep in mind the kind of self-imposed restrictions and roadblocks that an organization may be creating. Sales and Marketing may have everything they need at their disposal but if their goals are misaligned that can easily lead to an unhealthy culture and result in misalignment.

09 Jun 17:06

Differentiate Yourself and Your Offering Early or Sound Like Sour Grapes

by Anthony Iannarino

My experience has taught me that you win deals very early in the process. It’s also likely that you lose deals very early in the process, as well. You can also create enough of a preference to win a deal early in the process, only to lose it down the final stretch.

One of the things that allows you to position yourself and build value early in the process is differentiating yourself from your competitors. It also helps to differentiate your offering from your competitor’s offering. It’s especially important to do this if buying what you sell requires the client to make a more significant investment. Your higher price is a sword, not a shield. Price is an offensive weapon that demonstrates that you create greater value, and greater value always commands a more significant investment.

Differentiate Or Die

There are people, however, who never want to mention their competitor, and hope to differentiate themselves and their company without having to do so. They believe that by not saying anything about their competitors at all, they are seen as real professionals, above the fray. By doing so, they are leaving it to their client to determine for themselves how they are different, and if that difference makes any difference to the results they produce versus their competitors. Sometimes, this is what happens. Other times, the client either doesn’t recognize the differences, doesn’t value the differences, or believes that there are no significant differences at all. In that case, the opportunity to differentiate yourself has mostly been lost.

If you’ve ever handed your price to your prospective client and had them tell you that your price is higher than your competitors without having already done the work to differentiate yourself and your offering, then you missed the opportunity to do so. What happens now is that you decide to differentiate your offering from your competitors late in the game. Because you are defensive about your pricing and your differentiation, what you say in the context of a price conversation is not part of a discussion around value and outcomes.

Sour Grapes

Instead of sounding like a proactive, value creating, potential partner, you sound like sour grapes. You look like you are negative by trying to differentiate your offering and defending your higher value, but only because your client suggested your price was too high compared to theirs. The time to have separated yourself and your offering was early in the process when it was in the context of differentiating before it was a price contest.

Reasonable minds may disagree on how or when you should speak about your competitors. For my money, it’s always better to say something nice about them and differentiation very early in the process to establish the differences in the investment and the differences in outcomes before there is a price conversation. There is nothing you can do about your competitor’s pricing, so there’s little reason not to speak about the investment in differentiation early in the process.

Recent research from gong points to this being a better and more successful strategy.

The post Differentiate Yourself and Your Offering Early or Sound Like Sour Grapes appeared first on The Sales Blog.

09 Jun 17:05

A 10-Minute Summary of "The Psychology of Selling" by Brian Tracy

by Meg Prater

The Psychology of Selling

The Psychology of Selling is a well-regarded book by legendary sales professional Brian Tracy. It shares ideas, methods, strategies, and techniques for salespeople to sell faster and easier than ever before. It’s a must-read for salespeople of all verticals, and we’ve got a complete summary here.

Brian Tracy’s classic guidebook, “The Psychology of Selling: Increase Your Sales Faster and Easier Than You Ever Thought Possible,” is on the must-read list for every sales professional. It’s likely your boss has asked you to read it -- and you should. But in case you need a CliffsNotes version, here’s a quick-read book summary sharing some of its most valuable highlights.

Chapter 1: The Inner Game of Selling

Tracy begins his book by explaining why salespeople are important and how they can break into the top 20% of reps in any business.

He explains, “The only real creators of wealth in our society are businesses,” and “Salespeople are the most vital people in any business.” Tracy continues, “Without sales, the biggest and most sophisticated companies shut down.”

If that doesn’t get you fired up to head into the office today, I don’t know what will. While a vibrant sales team is crucial for success, not everyone is bound for greatness. The 80/20 rule was an eye-opener for Tracy, early in his career. He knew that in order to break into the top 20% of salespeople, he would need to abide by the “winning edge concept” which states: “Small differences in ability can lead to enormous differences in results.”

He believes if salespeople focus on getting a little bit better in key areas of selling, it accumulates into “an extraordinary difference in income.” These seven key result areas, or KRAs, are:

  1. Prospecting
  2. Building rapport
  3. Identifying needs
  4. Presenting
  5. Answering objections
  6. Closing the sale
  7. Getting resales and referrals

Tracy also believes a salesperson’s “self-concept” is important to success. A bad self-concept in any one of these key areas means you’ll avoid it, make mistakes, and feel frustrated. If you have a positive self-concept about prospecting, Tracy argues, it will be no problem for you.

Every day is full of opportunity and your pipeline will likely stay full. If you have a poor self-concept, however, you’ll view prospecting as something to be fearful and anxious about.

Self-concept also impacts how much a salesperson makes. “If you see yourself as a $50,000-a-year person, you’ll continually engage in behaviors that keep your income at $50,000,” he says. But if you “reset your financial thermostat,” you can adjust your self-concept of worth and the value of your work.

By taking steps like this to challenge your self-limiting beliefs, you’ll boost your self-esteem and your sales performance. “Successful people control their inner dialogues,” Tracy says. A successful person thinks successful thoughts.

Chapter 2: Set and Achieve All Your Sales Goals

Are you goal oriented? Tracy argues the quality of goal orientation is associated with your levels of success. For example, a salesperson must know exactly how much they want to earn in a year in order to focus sales activities. Salespeople should have goals in the following areas:

  1. Annual income goal - How much do you want to make in the next 12 months? To decide on this goal, take your highest income year so far and increase that number by 25-50%.
  2. Annual sales goals - How much will you have to sell to achieve your income goal?
  3. Monthly and weekly goals - Break down your income and monthly sales goals into weekly sales and income goals.
  4. Daily sales goals - If your annual income goal is $50,000, divide that number by 52 to get the number you need to average per week. From there, it’s easy to divide that number by day to learn exactly what you need to earn.
  5. Activity goals - Once you know how much you need to make every day, you can determine what activities to take to reach that goal. When you accurately record these numbers for a set period of time, you should be able to accurately predict which activities will make you successful.
  6. Personal and family goals - Determine why you do what you do, and you’ll tap into immeasurable motivation to push harder and smarter.

Tracy recommends writing down 100 goals you’d like to accomplish in the years ahead. By writing them down, you’ll begin to visualize yourself achieving them. These goals don’t have to be big. If you visualize a prospect responding to your pitch in a positive, enthusiastic way, you’ll approach your meetings with more excitement and a successful attitude.

Chapter 3: Why People Buy

Every action a person makes is motivated by improvement. We buy because we believe it will enhance our lives. So, do you understand why your prospects buy? And why will they be better off by choosing your product/service over a competitor’s?

Tracy explains different actions give people different units or degrees of satisfaction. Your prospects want to receive as many of these units as possible with every purchase. They want to be better off physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. The more your product can satisfy your prospect, the more incentive there is to buy.

He recommends tapping into a few areas to help people make a decision -- and avoiding a few as well:

Do:

  • Identify a prospect’s emotional values - Find out what your prospect values and how to emphasize that your product/service honors those values.
  • Consider how it will make others feel - Before a prospect buys, they consider how their manager, colleagues, and clients will respond. Anticipate this, and alter your sales approach accordingly.

Don't:

  • Focus on price and quality - These aren’t reasons to buy, so don’t use them as such when making a sale.

Tracy says the two main reason people buy or don’t buy are desire for gain and fear of loss. Prospects either want to add more to their lives, as mentioned above, or are afraid of making a buying mistake.

He cites a study showing desire for gain has a motivational power of 1.0, while fear of loss has a negative motivational power of 2.5. This means people are much more motivated by fear they’ll lose something by not buying. So, tap into that emotion when possible and appropriate.

Every prospect has basic human needs motivating them to buy. Identify which needs your product/service meets and convince your prospects it will meet those needs better than anything else on the market. The primary customer needs are:

  1. Money
  2. Security
  3. Being liked
  4. Status and prestige
  5. Health and fitness
  6. Praise and recognition
  7. Power, influence, and popularity
  8. Leading the field
  9. Love and companionship
  10. Personal growth
  11. Personal transformation

By increasing buying desire, reducing fear of loss, and emphasizing the ultimate benefit you’ll make more sales and satisfy more customers.

Chapter 4: Creative Selling

Your level of creativity, Tracy argues, is determined by your self-concept. So, to increase your creativity, all you need to do is practice. The creativity you use to get around traffic is the same kind you need to handle surprises in prospect presentations and calls.

Still need some help stimulating creativity? Try these three tactics:

  1. Have clear goals
  2. Draw from pressing problems
  3. Ask focused questions

Practice creative thinking while prospecting and uncovering buying motives. These areas test your intelligence and brainpower. If you’re able to find out what your prospects really want, you’ll be able to convince them they’ll get it by purchasing your product/service.

When prospecting, ask the following questions:

  1. What are the five-10 most attractive features of your product?
  2. What specific needs of your prospective customer does your product satisfy?
  3. What does your company offer that other companies don’t?

And if you want to take a more strategic approach to selling, focus on these four areas to join the top 10% of earners in your field:

  1. Specialization - Determine exactly what your product does for your customers. Be a specialist instead of a generalist.
  2. Differentiation - In what areas are your products better than 90% of similar goods or services on the market.
  3. Segmentation - Which customers can most benefit from what you do better than anyone else.
  4. Concentration - Set clear priorities and concentrate single-mindedly on prospects who represent only the very best potential as a customer.

If you brainstormed 250 ideas every year, it would have a tremendous impact on your life. You’ll become one of the most creative and successful salespeople in your field.

Chapter 5: Getting More Appointments

The most important part of selling? Spending more time with better prospects. And how do you make the most of your time when you find these prospects? Abide by a few rules:

  1. Break prospect preoccupation - When you place calls, say, “I need two minutes of your time. Is this a good time to talk?” Only when the prospect confirms they have the time should you launch into your pitch.
  2. Sell the appointment, not the product - Never talk about your product or pricing on the phone unless you can close the deal directly.
  3. Choose your words carefully - Your prospect is likely on the other end of the line looking at their email. Develop an opening line the equivalent of a brick going through their window. Keep it benefit-centered without directly mentioning your product/service.

You only have thirty seconds to get your prospect’s attention. During that time, your prospect decides whether or not to listen to you. If you do get through to them and their response is still, “I’m not interested,” it might mean your questions aren’t strong enough.

Tracy recommends saying, “That’s alright. Most people in your industry felt the same way when I first called. Now they’ve become our best customers, and they recommend us to their friends.” Your prospect will instantly start paying attention and you’ll get a second chance at their business.

Chapter 6: The Power of Suggestion

We’re all greatly influenced by the suggestive elements around us. A calm, confident, and relaxed salesperson is a powerful salesperson. By controlling your internal environment (your appearance, voice, and attitude), you can look -- at least on the outside -- like you’re one of the best people in your field. Here are a few more ways Tracy recommends making the most of your power of persuasion:

  1. Dress for success
  2. Practice your presentation
  3. Upgrade your office
  4. Work from a clean desk
  5. Double your productivity

It’s also important to create an impression of value with prospects. Start by using positive body language. By sitting erect and facing forward, shaking hands firmly, and minimizing noise and interruptions during your meetings, you’ll give prospects fewer reasons to become distracted.

Chapter 7: Making the Sale

The first words out of your mouth set the tone for the rest of your sales process, and eventually, either a sale or rejection. Most prospects have “generalized sales resistance.” It’s normal and a form of self-defense. Instead of fighting it, understand it and work to break down your prospect’s barriers. There are two ways to deal with sales resistance effectively:

  1. The approach close - This close gets the prospect to agree to making a decision after you’ve made your presentation. Instead of letting your prospect say, “Let me think about it,” or “I need to talk it over,” and that being the end of it, reply, “Relax, I’m not trying to sell you anything right now. That’s not the purpose of my visit.” Then continue, “All I ask is that you look at what I have to show you with an open mind, determine if it applies to your situation, and tell me at the end of our conversation if this product makes sense.
  2. The demonstration close - You can use this technique early in the sales conversation. Open with, “I could show you the best [product/service] on the market today, are you in the position to invest [price] right now?” The focus of the conversation is instantly shifted from, “Will you listen to me?” to “How much can you invest if I can hold up my end of the bargain?

It’s also important to understand the various personality types of buyers. Tracy claims there are six basic profiles:

  1. The apathetic buyer - Instead of trying to change this buyer’s mind, save yourself the time and move on to someone more likely to buy.
  2. The self-actualizing buyer - They know exactly what they want. Make the most of these unicorn prospects and don’t try to talk them into anything they haven’t already set their hearts on.
  3. The analytical buyer - This buyer is self-contained and task-oriented. Slow down and be exact with these prospects. Be able to prove -- on paper -- everything you say, and be precise with each benefit to make it easier for them to buy.
  4. The relater buyer - This is a relationship-oriented buyer. They gravitate toward “helping” professions and like to be liked. To make the sale, focus on other happy customers, build a relationship, and don’t rush them.
  5. The driver buyer - These buyers are direct, impatient, and concise. Get straight to the point with these buyers, because they’re busy and preoccupied.
  6. The socialized buyer - This type of prospect is achievement-oriented. As soon as you reach an agreement, put it on paper and get a copy to them immediately.

Understand which type of personality your buyer has, and tailor your approach for a more successful close. As always, listen attentively, pause before replying, question for clarification, paraphrase in your own words, and use open-ended questions.

Chapter 8: 10 Keys to Success in Selling

In the final chapter, Tracy shares the 10 keys to success in selling:

  1. Do what you love to do
  2. Decide exactly what you want
  3. Back your goal with persistence and determination
  4. Commit to lifelong learning
  5. Use your time well
  6. Follow the leader
  7. Character is everything
  8. Unlock your inborn creativity
  9. Practice the golden rule
  10. Pay the price of success

When you follow these keys, your future is unlimited. As Tracy says, “You have within you, right now, the ability to be more, do more, and have more than you ever have in your life.” He continues, “By becoming absolutely excellent in your chosen profession of selling, you can achieve all your goals and fulfill all your dreams.” So, what are you waiting for?

HubSpot CRM

09 Jun 17:02

Silicon Valley is stalling out as the pace of innovation slows down — and it could be a good thing for humanity (AAPL, MSFT, GOOGL, FB)

by Matt Weinberger

apple wwdc 2018, mac os

  • It is a time of great tech stagnation, in part due to the scandals that have rocked Silicon Valley over the last year. 
  • Part of the stagnation, too, is that current technology is stalling out, and the next wave just isn't ready yet.
  • After a decade-plus of the tech industry causing near-constant disruption and turmoil, the lull is offering the world a much-needed break to consider how technology is affecting society and to try to figure out what to do about it.


Apple's WWDC developer conference this week marked the conclusion of the period each year when some of the biggest technology companies lay out their agendas for the future of their platforms.  

Compared with past years, the message from Silicon Valley was far more muted this time around. Last year, for example, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple were all focused on the next big things in technology, each in its own way laying the foundation for the inevitable death of the smartphone.

This year, by contrast, the companies focused on important but decidedly less flashy topics including security, privacy, and their responsibility to their users and society.

There are a variety of reasons for the tech giants' reduced ambition. Facebook, Google, and Apple each spent much of the last 12 months in various states of crisis and are now trying to patch things up. Growth in the markets for the technology products that led to the rise of the current behemoths is slowing down to a crawl. And the next generation of technology gadgets and services isn't ready for prime time yet.

That may sound depressing and disappointing. After all, much of the excitement surrounding the tech industry stems from the bold visions of the future it often offers. But from where I'm standing, this lull is a good thing for the industry and the world.

Technologies under development right now could lead to some potentially terrifying changes. This boring period in the industry gives us the time and the attention to hold the tough conversations we need to have about where the industry and society are heading.

iPhone X iPhone 8

It's clear from the past year's scandals in the industry that those conversations are overdue. Because there's growing concern about the tech industry's role in society.

Facebook was caught up in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where as many as 87 million people had their data used improperly, and faced continuing fallout over its role in distributing Russian propaganda during the 2016 election. Google and its YouTube service saw criticism over their role in spreading hoaxes and conspiracy theories. And Apple dealt with a storm of criticism over Batterygate, its belated admission that it slowed down some iPhones with older batteries without informing users.

The future is slowing down

This concern is coming amid a transition time for the industry.

The first few slides of Kleiner Perkins investor Mary Meeker's newest State of the Internet report tell you everything you need to know, which is that overall, the growth in many of the most important tech products and services is flat-lining. Global smartphone shipment growth? Almost precisely flat. Global internet user growth? Flattening out, with a relatively meager 12% year-over-year-growth.

Additionally, both the PC market and the tablet market are declining.

Oh, sure, there are some bright spots in tech. Meeker's report estimated that the installed base for the Amazon Echo line of smart speakers hit 30 million users by the end of 2017. Other technologies, including streaming video, smartwatches, and cryptocurrencies, are also growing in fits and starts.

But as big a number as it is, 30 million Echo users is a drop in the bucket when you compare it to the more than a billion devices in use running Apple's iOS software, and the more than two billion gadgets in use that run Google's Android.

Likewise, the total value of all the bitcoin in circulation — about $131 billion — sounds like a lot. But it's still less than a tenth of the US dollars in circulation in the form of coins and paper bills. And its less than one one-hundredth of the M2 money stock, a measurement of the amount US dollars in use that includes those held in savings accounts and mutual funds as well as in the form of travelers checks and checking accounts.

mary meeker kleiner perkins caufield byers

That's not to say that some of these newer technologies will never replace the old. It's just that right now, even though many of the older technologies are seeing stagnating sales or use, the Next Big Things aren't close to displacing them.

In other words, things are changing super slowly, and what we have now is roughly what we'll continue to have for a while to come.

What's next isn't ready

We've already gotten glimpses at what the next wave of technology will bring.

Many companies are focused on technologies that will immerse us in digital images. Facebook has bet big on virtual reality. It's already been selling its Oculus Rift VR headset and is promising big things for the next iterations of it. Microsoft, which is betting on both virtual and augmented reality, is already offering its HoloLens AR smart goggles. Google and Apple are both working hard to incorporate AR features into their smartphones. 

At the same time, many tech companies are investing heavily in artificial intelligence and in trying to bring AI to consumers. Amazon and Google, in particular, have been going toe-to-toe with Alexa and Assistant, their respective smart voice assistants. 

The problem is that so much of this forward-looking stuff just isn't that useful yet.

Oh, I have no doubt that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is right that by 2027 or so we'll have smart glasses that are as thin and light as a pair of normal sunglasses. And I'd bet that Amazon will one day succeed in its quest to turn Alexa into the superintelligent supercomputer from "Star Trek."

Mark Zuckerberg Facebook AR glasses

But back here in 2018, those cutting-edge technologies are still lacking.

Using augmented reality on a smartphone means waving your phone around and looking silly. Trying to use AR via smart glasses means dealing with some significant technical limitations — and looking even sillier. 

Alexa and Assistant can be helpful at times, but they're not nearly as all-around useful as a smartphone or a computer.

Cryptocurrencies come with too many complications and too much overhead to be truly useful as a replacement for regular money.

And despite all of its own investment in AI, Facebook is staffing up with thousands of humans because artificial intelligence isn't nearly as good at detecting hate speech as good, old-fashioned people.

All of that stuff will probably get fixed one day. But right now, the result is that our older technologies are growing stagnant and our newer technologies aren't ready to replace them.

The scandals are good

Ultimately, though, this stagnation may prove to be beneficial. This slowdown in the tech industry has given the world a chance to take a breath. And we're already using that lull to consider the roll of tech in our lives.

The string of scandals at Facebook and Google were unequivocally bad, with user privacy and perhaps the fate of democracy itself put at risk by decisions made by those tech titans. But they've triggered real and important conversations about the role of these major technology companies in our lives. Even the companies themselves seem to agree that it's time for the broader society to play an active role in shaping how technology affects our country and the world, potentially even through government regulations.  

Microsoft HoloLens

And with folks inside and outside the industry raising alarms about how our devices and apps are affecting us at a personal level — encouraging addiction-like behavior and even leading to depression among teens — there's growing discussion about "digital health." Companies including Google, Facebook, and Apple are starting to respond, giving us ways to measure and limit the time we spend with our various gadgets and services.

This is an opportune time to have those conversations. Because the next generation of tech devices and services could be even more dangerous.

When the smartphone dies and augmented reality devices replace it and we're all wearing our Apple AirPods all the time, the technology companies will have unprecedented access to our brains. When you wear a pair of Facebook's — or Apple's or Google's — smart goggles, you're going to be letting the company behind them determine what you see and hear. The company and the other tech giants will, in a very literal way, be controlling your perception of reality.

Now is the time to think through the implications of that control — and what could go wrong.

I'm hopeful. Now that we've started talking about how to fix our relationship with technology, I don't think we're going to stop the discussion anytime soon.

That's a good thing — as long as we all get on the same page before the next generation of tech is finally ready.

SEE ALSO: Apple's amazing AirPods are taking a baby step towards their full potential

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: We spoke to Cookie Monster about bitcoin, cookies, and self-regulation

09 Jun 17:00

The Sales Velocity Equation: Your First Personal Sales Ops Exercise

by Andrew Oddo
Sales Velocity Equation

One of the most enlightening and personal sales operations exercises that any rep can do is to build their own sales velocity equation.

In fact, even before sellers join a company, it can be extremely helpful to ask your prospective employer about the current sales velocity of their organization. This way, you’ll understand what kind of “sales engine” you’re about to start driving.

If they don’t have a grip on this yet (many young organizations don’t) it can be a chance to impress your prospective team with your sales-meets-operations acumen and thoughtfulness.

What is the Sales Velocity Equation?

In short, sales velocity is the calculation of four major sales ops metrics to forecast how much revenue you stand to generate over a period of time.

It comprises these four metrics:

  1. Average Contract Value (ACV)
  2. Sales cycle length
  3. Number of deals in your pipeline
  4. Win rate of deals in the pipeline

There may be different acronyms or names for the four levers depending on the organization. These are the four thematic things that affect your revenue output. The equation looks like the following:Sales velocity equation: full formula

Source: Altify

Ideally, your CRM is set up to spit out each dof these four metrics regularly in your reporting for you as an individual contributor. If it’s not, then team up with your sales ops person or take it upon yourself to start reporting on these metrics regularly.

It’ll make life way easier when the going gets tough, and you need to figure out how to get going again!

What Does The Sales Velocity Equation Look Like In Practice?

One amazing thing about this sales ops exercise is that within an organization Seller A and Seller B could generate the same amount of revenue in a given quarter (in other words, they have the same sales velocity). Yet, they may have completely different ways of getting to this outcome.

Understanding sales velocity highlights what’s different about the means to their similar end. The example below shows different inputs, yet similar results: 

Sales velocity equation: Enterprise versus SMB

Enterprise versus SMB Sales Velocity

The example above is a classic scenario of an enterprise seller side-by-side with an SMB seller who both achieve the same sales velocity outcome, albeit through different approaches.

Often times in this situation, the SMB seller looks at the enterprise seller with ire, saying “If I got the chance to swing at deals as big as those deals, I’d be in amazing shape!”

On the flipside, the enterprise seller says “If only I had more deals to sell, I’d be flowing well and in great shape!”.

The two sellers are getting hung up on a constant reality when you put this equation to practice. Enterprise sellers and the pipelines that they work are always going to be fundamentally different than SMB sellers and the pipelines they work. This is part of the reason larger organizations specialize in lthe two roles.

The sales velocity components are different, and therefore the day-to-day workflow of each seller is different. But, the importance of Seller A and B to the bottom line is equal in this situation.

How to Improve Your Bottom Line: Next Steps

For starters, you can have an infinitely more thoughtful conversation with your manager.

Instead of coming to your weekly one-on-one or quarterly review saying “I’m just not hitting my number, I think you need to have an SDR pump more deals my way!”, you can dig deeper and get to the core of the problem.

A more thoughtful answer could be:

“You know, the number of deals I’m working is actually the same as last quarter, and in fact, I’m getting better at closing them. But, ever since we added this new product feature to the suite, my clients seem to get distracted and want to spend more time trying it out. The length of my sales cycles has significantly increased as a result.”

That’s just one scenario, but now we can at least focus on the right solution. You need to shorten your deal cycles, and maybe that means you need to get better at negotiating with your decision makers in this example.

1) When your ACV is plummeting, review value + ROI
2) To shorten deal cycles, get back to Negotiation 101
3) Start planning in advance if your pipeline velocity takes a hit
4) Aim for a 40%-60% close rate for a healthy pipeline

1) When your ACV is plummeting, review value + ROI

Deals that are too low in value compared to the average deal size of your company is usually the most glaring sign that your sales velocity is off.

If this is the case, some questions to consider are:  

  • Do I have a clear understanding of the value metrics that drive the pricing of our products upwards?
  • How do I converse on those comfortably with my customer?
  • Am I able to determine who the true decision makers are in a deal?
  • What are the main types of ROI they care about for their businesses?
  • Am I actually going after ideal customer profiles that make sense?
  • Are willing to spend serious money on my company’s product?  
  • There are many considerations here, but these are some of the key things to think about.

2) To shorten deal cycles, get back to Negotiation 101

If your deal cycle is getting too long, this is due to a lack of negotiating power and setting expectations with your decision makers.

It can also simply be a matter of being unorganized and utilizing the wrongs tools to stay tight in your process. You can check out the best-in-class sales tools here.

3) Start planning in advance if your pipeline velocity takes a hit

This is a fairly obvious and noticeable problem too. You can feel it when things start to slow down. Be disciplined in reviewing how many opps you have in the sales pipeline, and set aside time (I like Monday afternoons) to prospect and tee up meetings for the week.

Too many opps in the pipeline usually leads to less time spent on each opportunity, and a decline in your close rate.

4) Aim for a 40%-60% close rate for a healthy pipeline

One of the most overlooked reasons for lower close rates is that you’re qualifying and letting the wrong deals into your pipeline.

Not only will this lead to your close rate dropping, but you’ll also waste precious time on the wrong deals Alternatively, sometimes your close rate can actually be too high, in my opinion. Think about all the other deals you could let into the pipeline and potentially take a shot at if you were a little less strict with who you’re qualifying into the pipeline.

You shouldn’t only add deals you feel 100% confident in closing to your pipeline. I like to aim for 40-60% close rate to maintain a healthy balance.  

Make the Most of Your Sales Pipeline Velocity Equation: Dos and Don’ts

Compare personal metrics w/ team metrics

You may find that you always have more deals in your pipeline compared to your peers, but your close rate is lower.

Perhaps your friend on the team has a killer close rate, but can’t seem to get as many deals in the pipeline. Now you can trade tips together to help each other out, or you can set a plan with your manager to learn to work fewer deals, but more efficiently.

This is a real example from a past company of mine, and my friend and I used to hang out for an extra hour at the end of the day to coach each other.  

Review these 4 metrics monthly and then weekly

As a second step, track these four metrics month over month for yourself, and once you feel confident in what they mean, start to track them week over week.

Put a reminder on your calendar to take 5 mins to check out last week’s performance early on Monday morning. Then you can set an intention for yourself for the week ahead to improve.

For example, if the number of opps in the pipeline are starting to dip below your personal benchmark, spend an extra two hours prospecting this week.  

Discuss your sales velocity w/ your manager

Finally, take some time during each one on one with your manager to talk about where your sales velocity is at.  Managers have the great privilege (and responsibility) of seeing things from 30,000 feet.

They usually know thematically how to solve most sales problem, but always need to put in an effort to identify the problem first. You can certainly help them help you (Jerry Maguire, anyone?) by identifying the true problem you’re facing.

That starts by breaking down your sales velocity and having a meaningful conversation around it. Ultimately this will increase your sales with less friction.  

Sales Velocity is your new sales ops weapon!       

The post The Sales Velocity Equation: Your First Personal Sales Ops Exercise appeared first on Sales Hacker.

09 Jun 17:00

6 Income Generating Activities That Are a Good Use of Your Time

by Amanda Abella

Do you want to know the number one secret to good time management skills? It’s focusing your time on income producing activities. The problem is most people don’t know what those are!

How many times have you scratched your head wondering why you’re working so much and making so little? You feel like you’re doing everything and still nothing. Goose egg. Nada.

It’s probably because you’re spending your time on all the wrong things. For example, fixing your about page or obsessing over a logo doesn’t really get you paid. You don’t get paid for tweeting either. (Well, in some cases you can.)

Before we get into what the income generating activities are, we must first make sure you have the room for them.

How to Make Time for Income Generating Activities

As a business owner, the last thing you want is more on your plate. That’s why we need to make sure your time is set up in a way where you can focus on income generating activities.

Additionally, I want you to spend as much time as possible on income generating activities. That means you either need to delete or delegate. Here are some things you can do to prepare yourself to spend your time on these activities:

  • Delegate tasks that don’t directly produce income to someone else. This includes social media, administrative tasks, accounting, etc.
  • Stop accepting opportunities that don’t lead to more money in the bank.
  • Drop clients that don’t pay you enough and are a pain in your neck. It’s likely that they take up too much of your time anyway.
  • Invest in tools that help you automate and free up your time. This includes Facebook ads and a social media scheduler.

I know this looks like a lot. The good news is you don’t have to do them all at the same time, but you do need to do at least one of them immediately.

Furthermore, you need to set time aside where you prioritize your business. It’s too often that we put our own businesses behind that of our clients. That stops today. I personally dedicate Mondays to activities that grow my business.

Now that we have that out of the way, we can discuss the multiple income-producing activities you should spend your time on.

mobile app marketing guide

Email marketing

I can tell you most of my sales for my group coaching program are because of email marketing. I email my list almost every single day for the last year. You know what has happened as a result? My revenue increased by $30,000 in 12 months.

Coincidence? I think not.

The reality is if you’re not marketing yourself to your list, then you’re not making money. Most people will tell you to email your list once a week, but that’s not really going to cut it now is it? Not in a day and age when there is so much competing for their attention.

Of course, the emails need to be well written and make people move. Ben Settle and Russell Brunsun have some great stuff on how to do this.

Sales Calls

Next on our list of income producing activities is sales calls. If you’re not selling, you’re not making money. Period.

The easiest way to do this quickly is by offering free consultations. If the prospect is a good fit, you sell them. I have one friend who quit her job in December and was able to generate $6,000 sales in her business in a few weeks. It was all sales.

Getting good at sales does take time and practice. So the sooner you get started learning how to do it the better. This is something I teach my students how to do in my six-week group coaching program. Kendrick Shope also has great stuff on how to sell without selling your soul.

You can start by offering free consultations to the list you already have. And speaking of that list…

Prospecting and Growing Your List of Leads

In order to consistently make more money, you need to grow your leads. After all, sales funnels are called that for a reason. Essentially, you get all the leads and the top of the funnel, but not all of them are going to buy. As you go down the funnel, it gets thinner.

Basically, at its core, this is all a numbers game.

That’s why consistently prospecting and growing your list of leads is an excellent use if your time and energy as a business owner. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Go to networking events and meet people.
  • Run Facebook ads. (You can also hire someone else to do this.)
  • Frequently promote your list building magnets on social media. This is the freebie you offer in exchange for someone’s name and email.
  • Get more media! This includes getting interviewed on podcasts, talking to reporters and pitching the media to feature you.

Ultimately, you want to focus your time on the activities that grow your list of leads. The good news many of these can be automated or outsourced. However, if you’re not financially there yet, you can do it yourself and it’s still a good use of your time.

Pitching

Next up on our list of income producing activities is cold pitching! This includes email and phone. While I’ve never prospected anyone on the phone, I do hear that it works for some people so I’m mentioning it.

Here’s an example from my own business. I had my assistant pull of a list of financial tech and media companies. I’m now going to pitch my content marketing services to that list.

Follow Ups

In addition to pitching, another good use of your time that also produces income is following up. Most business owners fear follow ups because they don’t want to be annoying. But, similar to email marketing, people have a lot going on so you need to send them constant reminders.

After all, there’s a reason they say “the fortune is in the follow up.” It’s because it takes an average of seven points of contact before someone is ready to purchase. Yes, you read that correctly. SEVEN.

That means you’re leaving serious money on the table if you don’t follow-up. The good news is this can also be outsourced, but if you don’t have the funds to do that you can do it yourself.

Creating New Offerings

I saved the best for last! Up until now, everything I’ve mentioned can help you make more money now. But, if you want to make more money over time and build wealth, you’ll need more than that.

Millionaires have an average of seven streams of income. (Are you seeing a pattern with the number seven?) The last of the income producing activities is to create new offerings you can sell to your audience.

For example, I spent the first half of 2017 creating my six-week group coaching program. It’s been a hit! The next step is to create the upsell for the students. More offerings equals more money.

This does take time which is why I left it for last. But it’s up to you to prioritize the business and find the time to focus on it.

09 Jun 16:59

Trending This Week: Powering Up Persuasion

by Steve Kearns

What if making a B2B sale were as easy as pressing a button? Press and suddenly a prospect understands exactly why your product should be her one and only solution. Press and the prospect has an unshakeable belief in everything you say. Press and the prospect likes you -- even if you said something weird.

While we know it’s not that easy, there exist universal triggers, or buttons, which sales pros can identify and “press” to power-up their persuasiveness. We’re not talking about manipulation here. It’s more about catering to buyers’ preferences and tendencies.

Leading this week’s trending sales content is a story about the psychology of selling and how you can transform leads into eager sales prospects by finding a few hidden buttons and pressing them. You’ll also discover 25 questions to qualify leads faster, plus unconventional selling tips inspired by the CEOs of Google and Amazon.

Here’s What Sales Professionals Are Reading and Sharing This Week:

Psychology Says You Can Actually Sell Anything, So Long as You Use These 4 'Hidden' Switches

Understanding a customer’s motivation and pain points is a pivotal aspect of positioning ourselves for success. But assuming the competition has the same understanding, how else can you separate yourself? In this post, Peter Yang suggests that persuasion is about flipping four key switches in the customer’s mindset which he categorizes as: solution, trust, likeability, and evidence. Yang believes that to fully turn customers on to a solution, we need to demonstrate how our solution is the answer to their most pressing problems, inspire trust, befriend them, and provide proof, not just promises. For more tips on how to flip each switch, check out his post.

12 Kinds of Sales Prospects and Why You Need to Create a List for Each One

When it comes to finding qualified sales prospects, there’s no such thing as too many options. In this post, Grant Cardone provides a comprehensive list of the types of prospects most salespeople will encounter. While this list includes the expected -- social media, current or lost customers, competitor’s customers -- there are some hidden gems to mine from the complete list. For example, have you ever thought to sell to companies that you buy from? Are you calling on orphan owners?

25 Sales Questions to Qualify Your Leads Faster

Sometimes the challenge isn’t finding leads, but in quantifying the prospect’s value so we know how much time to invest in netting results. There’s nothing worse than spending months trying to reel in a big fish only to find that your catch was a mere minnow, or nothing at all.  

This post from Neil Patel provides 25 questions to help you qualify leads faster throughout the information gathering stage. In addition to the questions, the list includes strategies to streamline the process of establishing a relationship, discovering the problem, finding a solution, discovering a timeline, and establishing future success.

20 Years of Jeff Bezos Shareholder Letters Delivers a Masterclass in Being a Top Performer

It’s weird to think that in 1997, when Jeff Bezos took Amazon public, many investors viewed the company as a joke. Now 20 years and trillions of dollars later, it’s clear that it was anything but funny business. So, how did Bezos transform a company he started in his garage into one of the top performing companies in the world? Julian Hayes II reviews 20 years of Amazon shareholder letters and shares what they can teach us about becoming a top performer. While the article isn’t written specifically for salespeople, the sales takeaways are easy to spot.

Mental Toughness and the Effectiveness of Sales People

Even the best of us hear “no” more than we hear “yes.” So, perhaps it’s no wonder that we outperform our non-sales colleagues in mental toughness, a personality trait which determines how we respond to stress, pressure, opportunities, and challenges. In this post, Doug Strycharczyk shares the results of a study which compared differences in how people across the organization think and act. Salespeople’s scores were higher than other employees on several scales: confidence in abilities, commitment, interpersonal confidence, and control. Check out the write-up to learn the characteristics that help and hurt salespeople most.

How Google's CEO Uses Brain-Friendly Slides to Create Simple, Engaging Presentations

Even if most of our initial interactions within a company are one-to-one, many of us are asked to present to a larger group at some point during the buying cycle. This often means creating and presenting a PowerPoint presentation. While you have probably already heard the mantra that less is more when it comes to PowerPoint, you might be surprised at just how far Google CEO Sundar Pichai takes it. In her recent article, Carmine Gallo shares why Pichai doesn’t use bullet points and neither should you.

For more updates on the psychology of selling, prospecting and lead qualification, subscribe to the LinkedIn Sales blog.

09 Jun 16:59

Sales Leadership and the Friction You Create

by Mark Hunter

A few weeks ago I was speaking at the Utah Governor’s Economic Summit and another speaker was Mitch Lowe, the man behind MoviePass.He shared a great insight. He said, “When we remove friction, we increase consumption.”

Think about that line for a minute and now put in context with what he said about it.  His examples were how Blockbuster and the idea of renting a movie to watch at home made it easier for people to watch more movies.  Netflix in its original version would mail you DVDs of movies to make it easier than having to go to Blockbuster and once again consumption increased.  More recently, Netflix moved their delivery system on-line and again an amazing thing happened. The consumption of movies and video content increased.

The more I think about what Mitch shared, the more I am reminded to think about how we sell. I’m left wondering, “Do we create friction that in turn impedes sales?”

What can you do to make it easier for your customer to buy from you?  What can you do to have your customer see you more as a leader faster?  I use the line “speed sells.” To do this we have to be able to remove the friction from our sales processes.

For years if you wanted to buy a car in Detroit, you had to do it between 8 AM and 5 PM, Monday through Friday, because that’s what the unions dictated.  Their belief was as long as everyone played by the same rules, then there would be no loss of sales.  The idea was when you wanted to buy a car, you made time to do it during those limited hours, even though it meant taking time off from work.

Absurdity at it best if you were to believe that such limitations would have zero impact on the selling of cars.  Of course, fewer cars were sold. The friction created by the rules certainly impacted sales.

Friction in your sales process comes from legacy thinking and failing to go past what is the norm and failing to shift 100% to a customer centric model.  It’s what caused Blockbuster to fail. It’s what led to near devastation of the domestic auto industry.

Your goal is to assess your sales process and find those obstacles that are creating friction and remove them or, at a minimum, find a way around them.  Your customer may or may not even realize there is friction in the process. That’s your job — find it and remove it.

Sales leadership is not doing what’s expected, but rather going beyond. Back in the days of Blockbuster, we marveled at how we could visit a store and find a movie we could watch in our own home.  Back in those days, we thought that was awesome. We accepted the friction of the process and the time it took, let alone the stupid late fees we all paid. Today the friction is gone and we stream instantly any movie we want on any device we want any time we want.

“Remove the friction and you will increase consumption.” Mitch Lowe, CEO MoviePass

A coach can help you excel in your sales career! Invest in yourself by checking out my coaching program today!

Copyright 2018, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results

09 Jun 16:59

The Components of an Effective Case Study

by Mallory Fetchu

janeb13 / Pixabay

Case studies are a great and necessary piece of content for your brand. They validate the value of your company and serve as a strong testimonial to prospects and leads. The best part? They’re relatively easy to put together! Outlined below are all of the components that make up a great case study.

Research

A great case study can’t exist without the customer’s input and story of how they got where they are. If you’re at the point in the relationship where your customer is willing to do a case study, I’m going to assume you already have a good amount of information about them, but it can’t hurt to do an interview to gather the remaining details you’ll need to execute a compelling case study. This is your chance to ask your customer for solid data and actual numbers that validate both their success and how your product helped them reach that success.

Bonus: This serves as a good reminder to your customer of why your brand is so amazing!

After you’ve gathered the information you need, it’s time to put together the case study.

Executive Summary

This is where you’ll provide a high-level overview of the entire case study. Who the cucstomer is, the problem and challenges they were facing before they found you, and what you did to make them a happy customer. Don’t include the nitty gritty details here, but provide enough information to entice your reader to read more.

Challenges

This section should be all about the specific challenges your customer was facing. This is the section that your reader will relate to the most, so make sure you’re speaking to your buyer and talking about their pain points the way they would talk about them. Go into detail as much as you possibly can, and remember that this section is all about your customer—your chance to shine is coming up!

How You Helped

This is your moment to brag about your accomplishments with your customer. This section should include the specific things you did to help the customer overcome their challenges, and the results they saw from those efforts. This is your chance to showcase your product/service/solution, but make sure you’re relating how your product/service/solution solved your customer’s needs.

Conclusion

Wrap it up with any final thoughts from you or your customer. This is a good section to include a customer testimonial and describe where they’re at today because, after all, you had a part in helping them get there!

Promotion

Now that you have a shiny, new case study, it’s time to let the world know! The type of promotion you do will depend on who you wrote the case study for and what stage they’re at in the buyer’s journey. Some companies like to promote their case studies on their website for all to see, while others choose to keep them strictly for sales collateral that the sales team uses to seal deals. Others incorporate case studies into lead nurture or social promotion and target the appropriate leads—a good way to loop people back in.

However you decide to promote your case study, you should feel confident. You have done well enough for a customer to not only buy from you and have success, but they also trust you enough to let you tell others about their story. Be proud of your accomplishment, and whatever you do, don’t let your hard work go to waste!

07 Jun 16:23

Cross-Generational Sales Teams: How to Attract, Motivate, & Retain {NEW eBook}

by Laura Hall

By 2025, 75 percent of the global workforce will be made up of Millennials.  Successfully leading a cross-generational sales team will deliver a huge ROI well before that time.  It may sound like a tall order; however, addressing the generation gap may not be as difficult as you first thought.

We created an eBook, Cross-Generational Sales Team: How to Attract, Motivate, and Retain Sales Reps, to help you find new ways to think about generational diversity in the workplace.  We’ve included a plethora of ideas for attracting, motivating, and retaining a winning cross-generational sales team.


DOWNLOAD YOUR GUIDE TODAY


Take a look – it might be that the generations aren’t as different as you thought.  Sales is a competitive field, but salespeople are more motivated when they feel like they’re part of a team working toward a common goal.

Cross-Generational Sales Teams: How to Attract, Motivate, and Retain Reps

Download a copy today and learn how to attract, motivate, and retain a winning cross-generational sales team.

The post Cross-Generational Sales Teams: How to Attract, Motivate, & Retain {NEW eBook} appeared first on SalesLoft.

07 Jun 16:21

How Word of Mouth Marketing Can be a Repeatable Growth Channel

by Joshua Ho

Everyone knows how powerful word of mouth marketing can be for a business. Often times it is the key difference between a struggling business and a thriving one. For a sales department, referrals are the gold standard in lead gen; highest close rate, best-fit customers, easiest to sell. The new customer already comes in the door warmed by someone they know, like, and trust.

word of mouth marketing is the reason for many purchase decisions.

So what’s the problem? Largely word of mouth is unpredictable. One week you can get a ton of new customers through referrals, the next is crickets. For most businesses, it’s like trying to catch lightning in a bottle. So how can one make it word of mouth referrals predictable? Plain and simple, a business should take a modern approach to word of mouth marketing strategies. An approach that utilizes personal connections and technology to drive referrals.

A short history on word of mouth marketing

Before we get into the way word of mouth marketing is done today, let’s talk about the history of the term “word of mouth marketing”. Word of mouth marketing was first established in the early 1970s. The earlier techniques stem from generating buzz and just people talking about your brand, sending sample products, and other grassroots approaches.

There are few main problems with this older way of word of mouth marketing.

1) Mainly suited for consumer product launches

2) It is still very unpredictable with a lot of upfront work

3) The ROI is hard to prove.

Today’s word of mouth marketing is a driven approach based on today’s technology instead of just waiting for referrals to happen.

Why word of mouth marketing is a fit today?

Easier than ever to connect – With the proliferation of social media and mobile, people are both more connected and more distracted than ever before. The cost of a consumer’s attention is higher than ever. Today’s word of mouth marketing strategies can use these connections to their advantage by making it super easy for consumers to share with each other. With personalized URLs and codes, all the activity is measurable.

Because the sharing is on a one to one or one to many bases, sharing from a friend can cut through the noise to grab a user’s attention by being from someone they know, like, and trust.

Data-driven – Gone are the days of spray and pray, where you can’t even attribute a referral to a specific campaign. Today’s marketing is all about data. As a proper data-driven channel, it should be predictable, repeatable, and most of all measurable.

From the data side, both a marketer and the individual sharing want to know how effective their sharing is. With the proper technology, today’s word of mouth marketing strategies can provide statistics, notifications, and nurturing reminders to keep all parties engaged.

Word of mouth marketing as a channel

Done properly, word of mouth marketing can be a channel for growth. Word of mouth is already happening for most businesses, but without the right tools to attribute the data and influence the outcomes, word of mouth marketing cannot be measured against other marketing channels. Once you can track sales and relate them to spend, word of mouth marketing can be a strong contributor to your business-wide marketing strategy.

word of mouth marketing as a channel

Key advantages vs other marketing channels

Owned media channel – Word of mouth channels can be owned media. It’s based on the relationships with customers and partners. This is a channel you don’t have to pay to play (like PPC, and other advertising). Like an email marketing list, you have control and access to this channel no matter what. It becomes a true marketing asset.

Performance driven / Pay per sale – Today’s word of mouth marketing channels aren’t just for views, clicks and the hope of revenue dependent on the strength of your conversions. When the desired action happens (in most cases a sale/purchase) that’s when you pay. With true performance-based marketing, you can also make the incentives have alignment with your businesses cash flow. So an incentive can be unit based, percentage based, paid once, recurring payments, or paid out over time. Aligning incentives and their terms are very important to get right.

Scalable channel – Not every business these days can drive tons of leads through SEO and content marketing. As more and more businesses are online, paid ads are getting more expensive and unsustainable for many businesses. A business can hit a point where you are serving ads to the same potential customers. This is cannibalizing your own ad spend and competing with yourself. Inherently, the performance marketing/pay per sale you can’t cannibalize your spend since you are only paying for the single sale.

Potential to be a have network effects – The coveted >1 viral coefficient is possible, but largely a dream for most. Most of us aren’t Uber, Dropbox or Airbnb, and our product does not have quite the mass consumer appeal. Even without a true viral nature, word of mouth marketing programs like customer referral programs can have strong network effects. Referral programs often feed on your customer base, which comes from all marketing channels. So no matter what marketing channel the customer came from they are all being fed into a strong word of mouth program.

channels of customers funneled into a referral program

So what are these data-driven word of mouth marketing strategies?

Any good modern marketing strategy has to be data-driven. In a “what have you done for me lately” and show me the “ROI” demands on marketing budgets, the data has to be there. Some of the other important characteristics are predictability, repeatability, personalization, and ethicality.

These are the word of mouth marketing techniques and strategies that fit the key characteristics:

Referral Programs / Refer a Friend

This isn’t having a customer fill in old forms. Someone might not appreciate their information being given out by a friend filling in their information. This can also be bad for your social currency, as people will be less likely to trust you and your reputation could sour. Making it harder for people to want to share you. Meaning no word of mouth!

When you design a referral program, you need to consider the advocate’s journey, as well as the referral. As mentioned, no one wants to be signed up for something, without their permission. This can be accomplished by providing advocates with a referral link to share.

word of mouth marketing is a huge part of referral marketing

Key use case:

Evernote is a good example of a referral program. They make it easy for both the user and the friend to join and participate by having a good referral program promotion strategy. They use a double-sided referral reward. This further incentivizes both parties to participate and an extra push for word of mouth to happen.

A good referral marketing software can help you achieve an easy, seamless, and shareable program like Evernote.

2018 05 25 9 29 29

Partner Programs

These types of programs are also often run by referral software. They, however, use a bit different terminology, often times called finder’s fees. A partner program is great for gaining access to client networks that would otherwise be difficult to tap into.

The premise of how to run a partner program should follow the same steps as a referral program.

Key use case:

Infusionsoft, offers a few different ‘partner tracks’ programs. Their Sales Partner program offers a 20% commission on all Infusionsoft app sales. On top of that hefty finder’s fee, they offer partners software, training, coaching, and a network of business experts to help them build their own business up.

Influencer Marketing

There is a similar trend if you can’t tell. Influencer marketing is another way of increasing word of mouth. Some would say this type of marketing is the modern day word of mouth marketing and focuses heavily on brand awareness. It, however, works best when celebrities, advocates, or top internet famous individuals are involved. So you can imagine, the reach is pretty impressive.

When set up properly, influencer marketing software can help you in creating a buzz about a brand.

Key use case:

Nike is a big brand, and aside from being a great product, it’s been backed up by several celebrity endorsements. From NBA players, fitness gurus, to famous musicians. Because these people are in the public eye, they easily influence their fan base in purchasing products they enjoy, like Nike.

Take Serena Williams. She is a well-known athlete and has a ton of fans. On Instagram, she has 8.2m followers. Which means she has a lot of influencing power. Whether she is asked to endorse or not, she is a great influencer for whatever brands she decides to display on her profile.

Serena Williams is a Nike Influencer

Affiliate Marketing

As you can see, word of mouth can travel through many types of channels. Affiliate marketing is one of them. This type of marketing is similar to referral marketing in that it primarily focuses on new customer acquisition.

Key Use Case:

Most affiliate marketing is done with affiliates who are known for their knowledge in a particular area. For example, a makeup brand may team up with a beauty blogger. Or, a fitness studio, may try to partner with a well-known fitness guru. In this case, Smile Direct Club enlisted the help of a well-known Instagrammer.

Instagram is a great platform for word of mouth marketing and affiliates

Reviews / Testimonials / Reputation Management

Reviews are another easy way to create digital word of mouth. Many review and reputation management platforms help not only keep a brand’s reputation afloat, but they also provide good word of mouth marketing too.

Though reviews and testimonials are often sought out by the individual, they are often playing a huge role in making the final decision about a product or service.

Key use case:

MailChimp is a well-known marketing automation platform. In fact, they have millions of customers. Even still, a new prospect will likely do a bit of research on them, and look through a variety of reviews.

This Capterra listing of MailChimp gives a prospect a pretty good idea of what to expect. A ton of reviews and pretty high star ratings make MailChimp very appealing.

reputation and review management platforms play a role in word of mouth marketing

How do you pick the best channel?

All these data-driven word of mouth marketing strategies make use of today’s connected consumers are an owned media channel, performance-driven, scalable and have potential network effects.

Untitled 1 1

The best strategies utilize social currency to assist the word of mouth advocate and are ethically sound. Based on your product and business you can take different tactics and strategies to word of mouth marketing based.

channels of word of mouth

Summary

As you now see, word of mouth marketing can stem from many channels. However, in today’s data-driven world, we want to make things more predictable. Because of this, businesses have begun to take a more modern approach. Now, word of mouth can easily be tracked by the use technology and different types of programs.

07 Jun 16:13

How to Build a Smart City

by Stephen J. Dubner

Google’s Sidewalk Labs wants to use technology to redefine urban life by literally building a district of Toronto from the ground up. (Photo: Pixabay)

Our latest Freakonomics Radio episode is called “How to Build a Smart City.” (You can subscribe to the podcast at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above.)

We are in the midst of a historic (and wholly unpredicted) rise in urbanization. But it’s hard to retrofit old cities for the 21st century. Enter Dan Doctoroff. The man who helped modernize New York City — and tried to bring the Olympics there — is now C.E.O. of a Google-funded startup that is building, from scratch, the city of the future.

Below is a transcript of the episode, modified for your reading pleasure. For more information on the people and ideas in the episode, see the links at the bottom of this post. And you’ll find credits for the music in the episode noted within the transcript.

*      *      *

Of all the predictions that pundits have gotten wrong in recent decades, one of the most compelling has to do with cities. Cities were supposed to die out. The proliferation of the automobile meant that everyone would move to the suburbs and never come back. The decline of urban manufacturing meant that the city itself would decline. And then there’s all the crime, noise, pollution, and chaos that cities are known for. Who on earth would ever want to live in any city? As it turns out: just about everyone! We’re in the middle of a historic — and wholly unpredicted — rise in urbanization. It’s happening here in America and all over the world. One problem: many of our cities are old, which means they’re not exactly optimized for the 21st century. And it’s not so easy to retrofit an entire city. So, how about building a new city, for the 21st century and beyond — from scratch?

Dan DOCTOROFF: Our mission is to use technology to redefine urban life in the 21st century.

Today on Freakonomics Radio: a look at the city of the future, with a man who’s been rebuilding New York City for the past few decades — a man some people call a modern-day Robert Moses, the controversial Master Builder of decades past.

DOCTOROFF: Look, I think if somebody says it meaning that they got a lot done, then I think it’s a compliment. I think if somebody says, “Oh, you did a lot of top-down planning and you displaced lots of people,” then it would be an insult. It would also, I think, not be true.

Along the way, he learned the central paradox of successful cities.

DOCTOROFF: The question is, how do you actually manage supply and demand?

A conversation with the mightily credentialed urbanist Dan Doctoroff. Take a seat and get comfortable — ‘cause that’s what he did.

DOCTOROFF: I’m sitting. I’m leaning back, I’m smoking a cigar.

*      *      *

If you happen to live in New York City, as I do, there’s a name that’s been routinely popping up for a few decades now, always attached to interesting — and often controversial — projects.

DOCTOROFF: Sure. I’m Dan Doctoroff.

Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of Doctoroff. He’s not quite a household name. But his fingerprints are all over the biggest city in the United States. He grew up in Michigan and became a New Yorker quite reluctantly; it just wasn’t his kind of place. But he settled in. He and his wife started raising their family here. He worked in investment banking and private equity — seemingly just another money harvester from the provinces who finds the urban riches too good to pass up. This went on for years.

DOCTOROFF: And along the way, I came up with this crazy idea that New York ought to host the Olympics. And eventually that idea became a bit of a movement. It drew the attention of Mike Bloomberg, who at the time was just an ordinary billionaire. And I don’t think was even seriously thinking about running for mayor, but he joined our board, gave some money.

Michael Bloomberg wasn’t seriously thinking about running for mayor. Much less being mayor. Which, as you may know, also describes the arc of our current president. Donald Trump’s run for president apparently started out as a means of enlarging the Trump brand. Bloomberg’s run for mayor of New York City was apparently his way of enlarging Bloomberg L.P., the financial-information company that made him rich.

But voters — well, voters are funny animals. Bloomberg, while short on charm, had a certain appeal: smart, self-made, fiercely pragmatic, and he spoke his mind — often to the detriment of the people he was speaking about. He was the opposite of a career politician. And then the Twin Towers were obliterated in the September 11th terrorist attack. Less than two months later, Mike Bloomberg was elected New York’s 108th mayor. Now what? Bloomberg, a political neophyte facing a recovery of unknown dimensions, invited some other neophytes to help.

DOCTOROFF: And when he unexpectedly won, right after 9/11, he asked me to join him in City Hall, and so I became Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding.

Dan Doctoroff did that job for six years.

DOCTOROFF: He then asked me to go run his company, which I did for seven years, Bloomberg L.P.

When Bloomberg was finally done being mayor, in 2013, after squeezing out a third term despite a pre-existing two-term limit, he considered running for President. He considered some other things too. But then, to the surprise of many, he went back to Bloomberg L.P.

DOCTOROFF: And when he decided he wanted to come back to the company, I left. And — tremendous relationship with him, but I decided that I just didn’t want to go back to being his deputy mayor anymore, and formed a company with Google called Sidewalk Labs.

And that’s where Doctoroff can be found today, as C.E.O. of Sidewalk Labs.

DOCTOROFF: Our mission is really to use technology to redefine urban life in the 21st century, and we want to do it by literally building a city, or a district of a city. And we have chosen Toronto to do that.

Okay, let’s back up a bit. To before Doctoroff was a known quantity.

Stephen DUBNER: So you were, for many years, obsessed with the idea of bringing the Olympics, the Summer Olympics, to New York City. And you toiled first in obscurity for a while, spending a lot of your own money, recruiting a lot of people to your cause. You got some leverage over time, you got in the Bloomberg administration. You were first reluctant to take that job, because you thought it would curtail your Olympic activity, but Mike Bloomberg persuaded you that it actually would give you leverage to help. You got delayed, you wanted it to be 2008, it got pushed to 2012 Olympics. You pursued, you pursued, you pursued. You traveled the world, did everything you could. Finally, New York was voted the U.S. city in the bid, and then ultimately lost out in the I.O.C., in the International Olympic Committee vote.

DOCTOROFF: Sounds pretty nutty, doesn’t it?

DUBNER: I don’t mean to be dismissive of the Olympics themselves, but was the Olympic bid on some level kind of a stalking horse to rebuild New York City whether the Olympics came here or not? And is it possible that New York perhaps benefited more from the bid for the Olympics and all the infrastructure and related benefits that it produced, than it would have benefited from actually hosting it?

DOCTOROFF: I wouldn’t describe it as a stalking horse. I would just say that that was always part of a strategy, that it was sort of the off-ramp from the strategy. That the Olympics could be the catalyst to getting things done that people have been talking about for generations, but never were able to muster the political will or financial resources to actually do. And you could look at successful examples in the past as to how they’d used the deadlines at the bidding for the Olympics, or more likely hosting the Olympics, created sort of an imperative in a city — so Tokyo in 1964 built the subway system around it. Barcelona in 1992 did an amazing job of recovering from being a stepchild to Madrid under Franco for decades, and revitalizing the city.

DUBNER: You’re leaving out the counter examples like Athens. But I mean, it’s not quite a science of what kind of region will benefit from.

DOCTOROFF: And that all depends on the planning, and it depends on the economic resources and other things. But I convinced myself that where New York was in its development cycle, having that kind of catalyst could be a really important thing. And we used the deadline of the Olympic decision to get massive rezoning done in time, et cetera, et cetera. Now, the second question you asked was, are we better off having not won? And there I think the answer is no, because I think we could have used another seven years of deadlines to get more stuff done.

DUBNER: Imagine our subway today if we’d gotten the Olympics, right?

DOCTOROFF: I think that might have had a real impact. We could have argued, “Look, all these people are coming.” I think it could have been the deadline to getting, for example, congestion pricing done. But at the end of the day, much of what we wanted to do as part of the Olympic plan — and that was redeveloping the waterfront in Brooklyn and Queens, or the whole west side of Manhattan, or the High Line, or regeneration in Coney Island and Harlem and Flushing, areas that had been largely ignored for a long period of time got a big boost from the fact that we bid for the Olympics.

DUBNER: I’d love you to give me, Dan, in just a minute or two, what you would consider the best accomplishments of the Bloomberg administration.

DOCTOROFF: Well in my area, I think, we fundamentally redefined the economy and land use of New York for literally much of the next century. I think the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan has to rise to the top of that list, because it was an emotional, financial, physical imperative. The legacy of parks all over the city, and whether that’s the High Line, Brooklyn Bridge Park, or Fresh Kills, which is a huge park built on a dump in Staten Island, or lots of others, I think, will be an important legacy.

DUBNER: How should a city like New York, or any city, address the paradox that if you’re a successful city, you’ll inevitably become expensive and then those cities become unaffordable for a lot of people? So there have been historical government interventions, like rent control and rent stabilization, which are — at least in the eyes of economists — nearly always a terrible idea. They create perverse incentives, and they lead to dilapidated housing stock, and so on. On the other hand, your administration promoted this somewhat more market-based 80/20 solution — market level versus subsidized. And that seems to sort of be working, but not anywhere near to the satisfaction of affordable housing advocates.

DOCTOROFF: If you look at what I’d call successful cities, cities where there’s a lot of demand and the population is growing — which I, by the way, think is the mark of a successful city — you’re attracting customers. People want to come. The question that, I think, you posed is, how do you actually manage supply and demand more effectively? You want more people to come. I don’t think you want to slow that down, because cities can either go two ways — they can go up or they can go down. You’re not smart enough to ever manage it so that you can, kind of, keep things completely in balance.

So it really becomes a question of, how do you produce more supply? And there’s really only two things that you need in order to do that: you need land for people to build on, and you need money in order to subsidize it for people at all income levels. We saw that, right from the very beginning of the Bloomberg administration. We believed the city was going to grow. And that’s why, at a time when we had no money, we created what was to become an $8 billion affordable-housing program that produced 165,000 units of affordable housing, which basically means subsidized housing.

The question is, when you look back on it, did we do enough? And the answer is, no. We let demand get out ahead of supply. It was really a market-timing issue. What ended up happening was, we were keeping things more or less in balance for the first five or six years of the Bloomberg administration. We were accommodating the growth, the prices weren’t going up that dramatically, homelessness in fact was starting to come down. Then what happened was the financial crisis. The city actually — in part because a lot of the other economic development initiatives — bounced back dramatically faster than ordinarily would have been the case. In fact, the city recovered faster than the national average for the first time following a financial panic, crisis, or bust. Yet when you have a financial crisis, financing largely slows — grinds to a halt. And so there was a big pause, in terms of the production of affordable housing. And that’s, I think, when supply and demand got out of whack.

DUBNER: As someone who’s been in business a lot, before and after your political time, how, I guess, grubby or corrupt or unworkable is politics compared to business?

DOCTOROFF: In New York City, the amount of so-called grubbiness was, I think, minimal. Pretty much the only times that we had real problems — certain exceptions to this — was when somebody from the state legislature actually got involved. A good story of grubbiness was as we decide to rezone the waterfront in Brooklyn. After World War II, New York City literally lost almost all of its manufacturing. And so the waterfront, which had spectacular views of Manhattan across the river, had essentially been abandoned. So it was dilapidated wharves and warehouses and factories.

And so we decided we were going to turn it into one of the more desirable parts of New York, fit for a 21st century economy. So we worked on this rezoning for about two years. This was while I was bidding for the Olympics — I literally on the day before the vote in the city council, I arrived back from Korea, where I was lobbying for votes. And I’m called into City Hall, because there was a snag in our rezoning. It turns out that the state representative, Vito Lopez, from the district, had his hand out. What he wanted was a million dollars for a daycare center that I think his girlfriend had some involvement in.

And I literally, after midnight, called the head of the the agency that oversaw, sort of, day care centers. Woke him up in the middle of the night — I’d never actually talked to him before. I said, “You don’t know me, but I need a favor. Can I count on you for the million dollars for this daycare center?” He said, groggily, “Yes.” And we got the deal done. Sometimes there were just insurmountable obstacles. They usually occurred at the state level, the politics there really can be awful. At one point I think the New York Times counted up in something like 35 legislators had been convicted of various crimes. That included the Speaker of the State Assembly, as well as the Senate Majority Leader.

DUBNER: Let’s not forget governors — Eliot Spitzer, of course.

DOCTOROFF: We had Eliot Spitzer, too. And so we tried to avoid the state, honestly, as much as possible. But sometimes we just couldn’t avoid them. Good example of that was the stadium on the west side of Manhattan. As part of the Olympic bid, and as part of the Hudson Yards plan, we proposed a stadium over part of the rail yards that are on the west side. And we just couldn’t find a way to get around the state legislature. And eventually this, really, one guy who was the Speaker of the Assembly, who has been convicted of corruption, blocked it without a vote, and did it for lots of reasons, none of which I’m sure we’ll ever know, including the fact that he had a cozy relationship with Madison Square Garden, which opposed it. I mean, it sort of went on and on and on.

*      *      *

Dan Doctoroff started his New York City life as just another banker, who then got obsessed with bringing the Olympics to New York, who then joined the Bloomberg Administration to help New York recover from the 9/11 attack, who then paired the recovery effort with the Olympic dream to dramatically reshape the New York that exists today. One of his projects at the moment is a new cultural center on the West Side of Manhattan called The Shed, of which Doctoroff is chairman and president.

DUBNER: The Shed – I was just curious about the why in this — why did New York City need another arts complex? You, I understand, are not exactly a performing-arts fiend, at least.

DOCTOROFF: Yeah, well, the origin of it actually dates back to when we re-planned the west side of Manhattan, which we did in two separate parts. One part of it was in West Chelsea, and the core of it was to save the High Line. The second part was to build what’s called Hudson Yards, which is this area on the far west side of Manhattan. And we decided at the intersection of the High Line and Hudson Yards, we wanted to have a cultural institution.

We set two standards for it — one, it should be unlike anything else in New York, which is hard because there’s 1,200 cultural institutions in New York. And secondly, that it should play a role in keeping New York on the leading edge, culturally, in the world. And so we eventually had an insight about the role of technology and the role that it’s playing in reshaping the cultural ecosystem, that led us to conclude that what New York needed was a completely different kind of institution, one that would be the most flexible, both programmatically and physically.

DUBNER: This is a building that kind of can be reconfigured, like a transformer.

DOCTOROFF: That’s exactly right. It’s like a transformer — the building literally moves. It will open up in — March 29th is what we’re targeting — 2019, and it may be one of the largest cultural startups of all time.

DUBNER: And the C.E.O., a fellow named Alex Poots, ran for many years the Manchester International Festival, which, again, is unusual in that it takes place — or took place at least — all over the city, not in set theaters. From what I can gather, The Shed seems to be a sort of professionalized guerrilla operation in a way, right? It’s got a lot of the experimentalism of the experimental arts movement, with the juice and leverage of a big city like New York.

DOCTOROFF: That’s a great way of saying it. Another way of expressing it is a cultural festival every day, because there’s multiple spaces that can be reconfigured, that can accommodate virtually any cultural discipline. I mean, look, our basic view — whether it’s with respect to culture or whether it’s with respect to city building — is, nobody’s smart enough to predict the future. So you cannot plan to the detail or even, sort of, the gross level what’s going to happen in the future. Instead what you can do is, create the infrastructure. That might be physical, it might be digital, might be some ground rules, et cetera, that enable people to project their own ideas and innovations onto it as taste, technologies, trends begin to change. And I think that is a very different notion of a cultural institution as well as city building.

DUBNER: I find it — and I mean zero disrespect by this — but I find it interesting that of all the things that attract people to New York City these days — outsiders, visitors — the High Line is among the most popular. It was proposed that it be turned into this public park and strolling area and you were not a big supporter of it. Not that you were so hard against it. But it’s just a striking illustration that you and your folks around you, who were obviously doing this central infrastructure planning, you couldn’t have possibly predicted that something like that, and as humble as the High Line — for God’s sake, it’s an abandoned freight line — would turn into this thing that has so much appeal. And I’m just curious what kind of lesson that taught you.

DOCTOROFF: When I came into City Hall, the High Line was really one court decision away from being torn down. And the Giuliani administration, which had preceded us, was really intent on ripping it down, because the land owners who owned land under the High Line were really pressuring the Giuliani administration to get rid of it. And there were some of us in the administration who immediately saw what the two young guys who had basically kept it alive saw, which is that this could be a beautiful park and amenity. I will confess, I didn’t see that right away. But the key point is that you seize opportunities as you see them, and as they evolve, and if you’re flexible enough to do that, then ultimately you can create something that might be amazing.

DUBNER: I mean, the paradox in that is flexibility is not a hallmark of government, is it?

DOCTOROFF: Well, it generally is not, because government is really hard, and just getting anything done often takes extraordinary effort. But it should be, on some level, a hallmark of government. At the same time, you have to have a sense for what you want to do, And so you have to combine, sort of, this openness with determination to get things done, or else nothing ever happens. One of the principles that we always operated with is that, look, we’re a competitive entity in New York, and whether we were competing with London, or Los Angeles, or Jersey City, to be honest, we can’t make policy that puts us at a competitive disadvantage.

DUBNER: Let me ask you about that competition between — whether it’s faraway cities, or near cities. You and the Bloomberg administration made it a point to change policy and stop throwing a lot of money at firms or institutions that threaten to leave, using that kind of standard financial incentive. But I’m curious what effects that zero-sum competition has on each area. Because, on some dimensions, I’d imagine the competition is healthy, right? On the other hand, firms and institutions can and do game the system and basically skim a bunch of taxpayer money for their own purposes. So what’s the best way to balance that and still incentivize firms and institutions to be where they can do the most good?

DOCTOROFF: Our view was that financial incentives to lure companies, or more importantly, keep them, was almost always a fool’s errand. We did a lot of work when we first came in, the economy was just on its back. We were facing enormous budget deficits. So the easy temptation would have been to bribe companies to stay, or bribe companies to come. We met with C.E.O.’s of companies all over the country and all over the world, in addition to in New York, we analyzed their cost structures in great detail. And eventually what we concluded was, companies are going to do what’s in their economic interest over the long run, and that providing these sorts of incentives was like giving them crack. But the crack was ultimately going to affect the dealer more than the user. And so it just didn’t make a lot of sense, and so we just stopped.

Instead, the way we’d compete was based on our natural strengths, which we thought we could enhance. And our number-one natural strength was that New York had been a haven for people from all over the world. It was sort of this optimistic sense that produced this incredible energy that attracted companies to New York, and we ought to build off of that. Most places have some sort of competitive advantage, but they got to be honest about what it was. And so that for us was really what the strategy became.

DUBNER: It’s really interesting to see places that have had a good turnaround. I think of Pittsburgh, which was a hardcore industrial manufacturing, natural-resources city. And it took a while, but now they are the capital of autonomous-vehicle research. They’ve built up a lot of industries that were totally unrelated to what they’d been known for.

DOCTOROFF: I think we’re seeing it more and more as people recognize that they, again, have to build off their competitive strengths. So what Pittsburgh’s competitive strength?

DUBNER: Carnegie Mellon’s pretty good.

DOCTOROFF: Carnegie Mellon was the biggest component of it. And I think the city and the university and the not-for-profit sector kind of worked together to develop a strategy. Indianapolis did the exact same thing around sports, for example, and healthcare. So you got to be true to yourself. That’s one of the things that I consistently preach to leaders in cities around the country and around the world. Cities are like people — or maybe like companies. They have personalities, they have strengths and weaknesses. You know how hard it is to change your own personality — it’s hard to change your city’s personality. But that doesn’t mean you can’t structure around your strengths and structure around your weaknesses.

But cities — unlike people, or even companies — can be, as we noted earlier — difficult to retrofit. Not just physically — all those buildings, all that transportation and energy infrastructure — but also psychically, and culturally, and economically. Which is why, Doctoroff concluded, it would be really interesting to start a city from scratch. In 2015, he teamed up with Google to create a company called Sidewalk Labs.

DOCTOROFF: And our mission is to really help to redefine urban life in the 21st Century, combining cutting-edge innovation with great urban planning. And the way we want to do that is by demonstrating to the world what that can be in a specific place. And so we have chosen Toronto for a variety of great reasons.

DUBNER: Give me a few great reasons.

DOCTOROFF: Well, one is, they have a remarkable piece of land on their waterfront. The second is that we’ve partnered with a governmental entity called Waterfront Toronto, which for the last 15 years has been developing the waterfront. But what’s really significant about them is that they are a tri-governmental agency. So they are effectively owned by the City of Toronto, the province of Ontario, and the national government of Canada. So there is incredible alignment. But beyond that, Toronto is a city that has a really rich urbanist tradition. Jane Jacobs, for example, fled New York for Toronto. But they also have a really powerful and growing technology ecosystem.

And then beyond that, there’s the dynamics of the city itself. It’s one of the fastest-growing cities in North America. In fact, it’s probably the most diverse large city in the world. But what’s actually happening — and it comes back to some of the conversations we were having earlier — is because it’s growing so fast, there are increasing pressures on affordability, on mobility, and how people get around. All of that is pushing middle-income and lower-middle and lower-income people out from access to employment, which is creating opportunity challenges. They’re so committed to this notion of inclusion, but ironically because that openness has produced the pressures that are making it harder to be inclusive, they’re very open to new approaches.

And so we want to create a place, ultimately of large scale, that can be a laboratory for innovation across every urban system, including mobility, sustainability, building form and design, public space, and then even community and social services, in which we leverage technology to fundamentally bend the curve on a lot of those quality of life metrics.

DUBNER: When you say create a space, just to be clear, you’re talking about, this is essentially a physical neighborhood you’re building, correct?

DOCTOROFF: We think of it as a district.

DUBNER: And can you just talk about what would be the most overt, I guess, futuristic elements of the construction of this area? For instance, I assume that a lot of functions that are currently above-ground in a lot of cities, like freight delivery and trash disposal, those will not be above ground.

DOCTOROFF: All of that is true. But I think the thing that will have the most profound impact is if you don’t allow traditional vehicles, particularly automobiles, into the district.

DUBNER: So it’s all autonomous summoned vehicles, yes?

DOCTOROFF: Ideally much more shared than they are today. So if you begin to do that, the consequences are truly profound. In a typical North American city, 30 to 40 percent of the land is dedicated to parking, or the separation of roadways that these highly dangerous vehicles demand. If you begin to carve most of that back, you can create greater density. You can also, however, dramatically increase the amount of public open space. If you can begin to put people very close to open space and you can figure out ways to weatherize that, particularly in places like Toronto where the weather is not so nice a large percentage of the time, then maybe you can begin to re-conceive space in people’s apartments in new ways, which will also be enhanced by enabling people to store a lot of their stuff off-site, because with autonomous delivery it will be much easier and convenient, and you combine that with new approaches to construction, like modular construction, or perhaps cross-laminated timber, then you can begin to meaningfully lower the cost of housing. You combine lowering the cost of housing with lowering the cost of mobility, which we believe is really possible by as much as 50 percent, and you can begin to see cost of living decreases that are meaningfully into the double digits, which we think would be a remarkable demonstration.

DUBNER: Now, the people who will live there, as I understand it, are opting into a program to have a great deal of their personal data gathered, because this is a laboratory and you want to learn as much as you can from the data of how people move around and communicate and so on. One interview you gave, you said that the data really shouldn’t be used to be commercialized. But this is a project run by, funded by, a company, Google, for whom commercializing data is its actual business model. So why on earth would we think that these data won’t be commercialized and why on earth shouldn’t we think that this entire project is just an extension of Google’s already monolithic reach?

DOCTOROFF: We’re just going to have to demonstrate to people through agreements, engagement, specific actions, that that’s not our intent at all. And by the way, it’s not Google or Alphabet’s intent at all either. Our purpose here is to demonstrate how that combination of innovation and urban design can fundamentally bend the curve on quality of life, and to the extent data gets used, it’s going to get used for those purposes. We have to prove it to people, and memorialize that in different ways, and that we will do. So we understand the skepticism. And we will satisfy people over the course of 2018, which is our year to really put the plan together, including privacy and data protection plans, of our intentions.

I believe in something I call the virtuous cycle of the successful city. The object of a city should be to grow — and that is grow the number of residents, grow the number of jobs, grow the number of visitors. Because the marginal revenue of those additional people is greater than the marginal cost. And then you can take that net profit, if you will, and reinvest it back in quality of life in the city, in an affordable housing, and education, and safety, and social services and when you do that and you improve quality of life, more people come, perpetuating the virtuous cycle.

DUBNER: So, when can I move there?

DOCTOROFF: Well, if all goes well, the first people could probably move in in maybe five years or so. But then that would be a place to prototype a lot of the interesting ideas and approaches. But obviously a lot of the systems have to scale into a larger area. This is a project that would take 15 to 20 years, for sure.

That’s Dan Doctoroff, C.E.O. of Sidewalk Labs. If you want to learn more about the Olympic bid and rebuilding New York, check out his book, Greater Than Ever: New York’s Big Comeback.

Freakonomics Radio is produced by WNYC Studios and Dubner Productions. This episode was produced by Max Miller, with help from Andy Meisenheimer. Our staff also includes Alison Hockenberry, Merritt Jacob, Greg Rosalsky, Stephanie Tam, and Harry Huggins; we had help this week from Ania Grzesik. The music you hear throughout the episode was composed by Luis Guerra. You can subscribe to Freakonomics Radio on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Here’s where you can learn more about the people and ideas in this episode:

SOURCES

RESOURCES

EXTRA

The post How to Build a Smart City appeared first on Freakonomics.

07 Jun 16:11

Self Loathing Sales Experts

by Anthony Iannarino

Self-loathing sales experts. They’re self-loathing because they hate the part of themselves that once sold and felt that selling is something that one does to another person, instead of something that benefits the client. It makes them feel bad about themselves.

Because they believed that they were treated like a commodity, they believe everyone shares their experience. Without exception, they believe that any proactive, outbound attempt at gaining an appointment makes one a monster. And invariably, they shout at the top of their lungs that buyers now have all the power in the relationship, as if the buyer hasn’t had the checkbook, options, and the ability to decide who to buy from forever.

In their minds, the only way to create an opportunity is through a passive, reactive approach. They believe that the only way to share an insight is one-to-many, that it is not something one could do after calling, scheduling a meeting, and sitting face-to-face with their prospective client, who is now made out to be the most difficult challenge the salesperson may ever face. This is to believe that salespeople have so little to offer clients that they should tuck their tail between their legs and run and hide.

There is never a reason to let someone feed you their fears. You should refuse with extreme prejudice any advice from someone whose beliefs include the presupposition that your intentions are bad at worse, or misdirected at best. You should reject out of hand any advice from a person who shares ideas that or would cause you to believe that what you are doing is not valuable to the people you serve.

But most of all, there is a marketplace of ideas from which you can select what you believe. There is no reason to adopt a pessimistic, cynical, and disempowered belief system when it comes to selling. The reason the self-loathing sales expert shares this content with you is that they have no actionable or practical advice that you can use to improve your sales results.

The post Self Loathing Sales Experts appeared first on The Sales Blog.

07 Jun 16:11

HOW TO ASK BETTER SALES QUESTIONS BY DEFINING INTENT – by Deb Calvert

by Robert Terson
The questions you’re asking buyers may be good. But you can ask better questions simply by thinking through the purpose of each and every question you ask. Contrast these three question pairs to distinguish between the before and after versions of questions. The “before” questions were vague because the sellers weren’t quite sure what they […]
07 Jun 16:10

How to Use LinkedIn’s Research Methods For Your Personal Brand’s Growth

by Personal Branding Blog

In order to get more exposure for your personal brand it’s important to know exactly what your target audience is seeking after. With the right research strategies in place your business can attract more leads for your products or services.

LinkedIn is a premier networking resource as well as a warm lead generator. This large social network is an ideal platform for gathering information and conducting research for your niche. There are several ways your brand can attract the right leads for your business.

  • Connect with the right people – It’s important to be specific when gaining insights. Only seek after those who are in a related or similar field of interest, have influencer status, and are active both online and offline. Many times you can network at events, webinars, social media groups, Twitter chats, ect., which can open the doors to find targeted leads.
  • Take advantage of advanced search options – Use LinkedIn’s expanded queries to set up specific criteria – this includes people, jobs, content, companies, groups, and schools. Another method is to take a look at specific content that relates to your brand and conduct research on the author.
  • Create new business or work opportunities – LinkedIn is an online portal to not only find jobs but also qualified candidates and new clients for your business. You can also see what your competitors are looking for inside your target market as it relates specifically to their skills and knowledge.
  • Become a trusted source through groups – Once you become a member of an active, professional group within your niche your brand can gain valuable feedback through asking and answering questions, sharing valuable insights and content, and posting videos and images that can add value to your community. This also applies to those who want to create their own professional group for even more networking opportunities.

LinkedIn is an ideal place for personal brands to link up with professionals in their industry as well attract new leads. By being helpful, professional, and consistent your network will grow and attract more loyal followers to your brand. This is one the few resources left where you can to gather insights and information on your industry and potential customers for free without the need to pay for advertising.

07 Jun 16:09

Using Analytics To Your Advantage

by Rupert Adam

Continuing our Multi-Channel series, this week we look at analytics for web and app and how brands can utilise them across all of their engagement channels.

Knowledge is power! But how much do you actually understand about your market, your customers and their behaviour? You probably have a good idea, but is it backed up by actual statistics and results, or do you just run by your gut?

Exploiting the analytical data from the places you engage with your clients will enable you to build a true picture of the customer journey and identify key drop-off points. This will allow brands to amend their touchpoints and re-engage users at drop-off points and drive them further down the funnel. .

What sort of Analytics should you measure?

The key things to think about when choosing an analytics solution is what information will help you understand, engage and influence your user, how are you going to use the data and how will it be displayed? The ideal solution will allow you to build a rich user profile based on their behaviour and preferences.

As soon as enterprises understand who their customers are, what they want, what they do and how they are traveling down your funnel, you will be able to build a true picture of your customers. This will enable you to deliver highly-intelligent, personalised messaging at the right stage of the customer lifecycle, which in turn will boost engagement, sales and ROI.

Where do you start?

Imagine you’re a travel company that arranges package holidays. If you knew exactly what your web and app users were looking for, you would be able to tailor communication to them based on this information.

For example, if you know their gender, age, previous bookings and spend, types of location they have been viewing, level of accommodation they are interested in, when they are looking to travel, it would make no sense for you to engage them with holiday packages that would not fit with their user profile. However, using the user profile data will enable travel companies to engage their users with intelligent, targeted messaging.

This process works across all industries, as long as you have a sales cycle with multiple touch points, it will aid delivering sales.

What can you measure?

Profiles

Using a people centered approach to insights and analytics, an analytic platform, like Xtremepush, can help you to understand each of your app users in detail allowing you to create and build highly relevant contextual app engagement campaigns using either in-app messaging or push notifications.

App Insights

By understanding how often your customers visit your app, how long since a geographical area engaged with your app, which areas of your app are the most popular and used, what time your app is most actively accessed; you can deliver your messages with much more relevance and in a timely manner and build your engagement along with it.

Funnels

Stop asking why your app users are not converting and start to understand why. Using a funnel analysis you can see at each stage where and why your customers drop off.

A/B/C/D/E Testing

It’s rare that you will come up with just one campaign that you know will drive the most engagement, so that is why it is important to test your campaigns or elements of a campaign. By using a full split testing system, you can do just that, giving you the insight into what actually works before you launch the final campaign.

Attribution

Do you know where the most success came from in your campaign? Which channel delivered the highest life-time value? Discovering what works the best for you in real time will enable you to make changes to the worst performing, or put more effort in to the most successful and capitalise on it.

Drill Down

Look at how your segments compare against each other. Do you need to spend more attention on one segment than the others, how can you utilise the high performing segments to strengthen your campaign. By drilling down in to the segment you will gain a mass of valuable information, so you can tailor your campaigns to suit each segment individually.

07 Jun 16:09

7 No-Brainer Employee Perks to Attract the Best Talent

by Ryan McMunn

June is Employee Well-being Month and it’s a great opportunity to highlight what organizations are doing to nurture personal relationships with their employees and create admirable work cultures. According to research, more than 57% of workers say employee benefits and perks are top considerations for accepting a job. Companies like Netflix and LinkedIn have raised the bar by offering their employees unlimited vacation days, as well as maternity and paternity leaves for the first year after a child is born. Asana and Zappos are known for prioritizing self-improvement with external mentorships and life coaching. Meanwhile, Google has generated a lot of fanfare for its incredible perks, including an endless array of free gourmet food and snacks and an attractive 401k plan.

The good news is, you don’t need to be a Fortune 500 or be a large cap company to attract the best talent. As the CEO of my company BRIC Language Learning for 8 years, I have managed teams with a diverse set of personal needs to keep them engaged and happy at work. In designing and implementing perks for my staff, I made sure I looked at how I could support their professional development, boost their morale when work gets stressful and, most importantly, make them feel that I genuinely care about their overall welfare.

Here is a list of employee perks that you could easily implement or tailor-fit to your own company:

Travel

Studies have shown that millennials are known to prioritize travel over buying a home or car. It’s no surprise then that the 20 to 30-something employee would look for related work benefits that give them the freedom to explore the world. Not surprisingly, companies like Airbnb offer a $2,000 travel budget for their staff.

Non-business related travel perks are an essential benefit our company has been offering for years. As BRIC requires me to travel frequently, I’ve racked up so much mileage that I’m able to offer round trip tickets to key people in my company. The only thing I would request of my employees is that they take photos from their trip for us share on Instagram and come back with good stories for our blog. In addition to good photos and real-life stories, our employees take ownership over our social accounts which does nothing but make them stronger – a win-win.

College Savings Plan

I’ve done this for a few employees internationally and I have not received a better reaction. This has gone over well in the different countries where I have employees, but I’ve had incredibly heartwarming responses from my Chinese staff. A young lady was brought to tears when I shared the good news that she would be receiving this benefit. It showed that not only was I thinking of her, but also her children and her family’s future.

Language Learning

To increase confidence and performance, international companies would benefit from offering language classes. This goes for not only expat assignments but also for teaching English as a second language to international members of your team. Language training can boost job performance, increase work productivity and overall make the lives of your employees in multicultural work environments so much easier and more fulfilling.

Annual Executive Physicals

Due to high costs that only keep escalating, health-related benefits could be a deal breaker for most individuals who have multiple job offers on the table. It’s critical to show your employees that you care about their physical and mental health. For international companies, giving access to expat healthcare to your local staff can also go a long way.

In many developing countries, hospital visits require excruciating wait times for healthcare that are subpar. Ensuring that these systems are in place show potential and current employees that you are helping them avoid additional stress should they get sick or suffer any health condition.

Volunteer and Charitable Giving Opportunities

This is a fantastic way for your teams to not only spend quality time together outside of work, but also feel proud about your brand’s heritage and culture. Other companies like Timberland, for example, pay their employees up to 40 hours of paid time off yearly to volunteer. At BRIC, not only do we offer several scholarships to people within and outside of our company but, to bolster our community service mindset, we also participate in several local charities around the world. We usually have staff send in recommendations and vote on the different options as a team.

Company Sponsored Sports Teams

We sponsored a local soccer team in Shanghai and this initiative has built camaraderie within our team. While not everyone in our company played, myself included, it was great watching and cheering on those that did play! We’d usually make an enjoyable day out of each game by having beers, wine, baijiu and barbecue while watching and cheering our team.

Onsite Gym or Membership

As improving health and wellness are now core perks of startups and companies alike, gym memberships or in-office gym facilities today seem like an obvious workplace benefit. Reebok, Microsoft and a growing number of small businesses now offer fitness classes and gym stipends that encourage workers to keep healthy and fit.

While some of these employee perks might be challenging to implement, know that there are a multitude of offerings you can start in your own company or recommend to your managers. The key here is to be creative and authentic as you formulate ideas. Take note that the value is not always monetary and that a hefty price tag on the benefit or perk will not always translate to employee happiness or job satisfaction. Also, don’t be afraid to experiment on what works and what doesn’t. As CEO or HR executive, you are always free to re-assess and ensure that the benefits you have in place are actually helping your employees improve their well-being.

07 Jun 16:07

Why your salespeople should never do product demonstrations

by bob@inflexion-point.com (Bob Apollo)

Bored BusinesspeopleI imagine we’ve all sat through at least one of these at some stage of our careers: a software demonstration that is nothing more or less than a relentless and apparently never-ending stream of product features thrown out at the audience in the misguided hope that at least some of them might prove relevant or attractive.

It’s a horrible and unproductive tactic: assuming that our prospective customer hasn’t already zoned out, it places responsibility on them to imagine whether this or that widget might have any relevance to something that is important to them.

This seems to be a particular problem for technically-orientated demonstrators: they are often so proud of how clever their product is that they can’t resist introducing yet another feature of function. There’s no story, no coherence, and no respect for the audience.

Yes, demonstrations - at the right time, and in the right context - can be a vital element of a successful sales cycle. I just believe that there’s a much better way of achieving this than doing a conventional product demonstration...

Let’s start by recognising that demonstrations have different important roles to play at different stages of the sales cycle - but that conventional “vanilla” product demonstrations shouldn’t have a role at all.

Failing to plan = planning to fail

The first principle should be that we shouldn’t demonstrate anything without some initial understanding of the customer’s circumstances and what they are trying to achieve. Armed with a basic appreciation of their situation, goals and challenges, we can do a much more effective job of selectively telling the most relevant and appropriate part of our story.

The next should be that - just as with a good sales presentation - our demonstration needs to act as a catalyst for a productive conversation. We need to ask our audience questions throughout and encourage them to do the same. And however well we’ve prepared and planned, we need to be prepared to adapt to what comes up in the conversation.

Third, every demonstration should be preceded by a scene-setting exercise in which we validate what we intend to cover and what the prospects most wants to see, and every demonstration needs to be followed by a review of what we’ve shown and its relevance to the audience, as well as agreement about next steps.

If we don’t have enough time to accomplish this essential pre- and post-discussion in the time allocated, we need to demonstrate fewer things or ask for more time. In demonstrating, as with most aspects of selling, it is best to do a few things well rather than a larger number of things badly.

Two types of demonstration

We need to recognise that demonstrations are capable of serving more than one useful purpose. Two types seem particularly important:

Conceptual demonstrations

The first is what we might think of as a short conceptual demonstration that complements our initial discovery process. The goal here is to show the client a handful of the most important high-level concepts that distinguish our approach from the other solutions that they might be considering

Our goal here must be to show how and why we are different, rather than better - but different in a way that is memorable because it is specifically relevant to their situation, goals and challenges. We want to create an “ah-ha” moment for the prospective customer that sets us apart from the rest

These conceptual demonstrations are particularly powerful in the early stages of the sales cycle with a potential project sponsor, but they also can be very valuable later on in persuading other less actively involved stakeholders why our company and solution are the right choice

Solution demonstrations

The second key demonstration type is the solution demonstration. This can only be effectively delivered once we have advanced our discovery process to the point where we have a clear sense of our prospective customer’s most important requirements

The clue is in the name: solution demonstrations need to show how our approach and specific selected capabilities actually solve our prospective customer’s most important needs. We need to create a sense of confidence that our solution is capable of meeting their key requirements

Proving a few things well is just as important here. Focusing on the handful of things that have been agreed to be most important, and putting those capabilities in clear context, is far more powerful than showing off a long list of often peripheral features

Kitchen sinks and muddy sticks

One of my mentors - the founder of a highly successful software company - once described the classic “everything including the kitchen sink” product demonstration approach as being no more effective than flicking a muddy stick at the wall and hoping some if it will stick. Except that the metaphor he actually used involved something a lot less attractive than mud...

It is both ineffective and disrespectful to give our customers a standardised product demonstration, even if that is what they have asked us for. It is always better to understand the context - even if it involves just a few well-chosen scoping questions up front.

Context matters!

If we have no sense of what our prospective customer is looking for, we are bound to fail. If they have no sense of what they are looking for at even a conceptual level, they are the wrong audience.

Once we understand the context, we can determine whether a conceptual or a solution demonstration is what is required and plan and prepare accordingly. And if we wrap an effective pre- and post-discussion around the right sort of demonstration, we’ll have much more impact.

Or would you rather that your sales people flicked muddy sticks at the wall?


IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU'LL PROBABLY ALSO APPRECIATE:

BLOG: Is this the most counterproductive sales metric?

BLOG: Is scope creep suffocating your opportunities?

BLOG: Is sales "process" really the right metaphor?

BLOG: 12 key sales qualifiers

BLOG: Shaping our customer's "why"

BLOG: Starting with "Why?"

BLOG: Discovery - the foundation of B2B sales success

BLOG: The compelling case for hastening slowly


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Apollo_3_white_background_250_square.jpgBob Apollo is a Fellow of the Association of Professional Sales and the founder of UK-based Inflexion-Point Strategy Partners. Following a successful career spanning start-ups, scale-ups and corporates, Bob now works with a growing client base of tech-based B2B-focused high-growth businesses, equipping them to Sell in the Breakthrough Zone by systematically creating, capturing and confirming their unique value in every customer interaction.
07 Jun 16:07

How to Explain Content Marketing ROI to Win (or Keep) Buy-In

by Julia McCoy

explain-content-marketing-roi-buyin

Do you feel like you’re constantly explaining content marketing?

Whether you’re seeking initial buy-in or justifying an existing program to a new executive, you’re often asked to prove that content marketing is a worthy investment.

Explaining the nitty-gritty inner workings and ROI of content marketing to bosses or clients is difficult. But it’s necessary. If you can’t get support behind your content efforts, how can you be successful?

So, how can you explain content marketing and its potential ROI in a way that’s persuasive, urgent, and incredibly convincing?


Need to earn exec support for #contentmarketing? @JuliaEMcCoy explains how to make a convincing case.
Click To Tweet


Fear not. You can make it happen.

Use relatable metaphors to explain content marketing

Explaining ROI starts with making sure executives understand the definition of content marketing and how it will get your brand to achieve goals.

Metaphors are always a great way to relate new or misunderstood concepts. Here’s an apt one to use:

Content marketing is a vehicle, and content marketing strategy is the engine. The vehicle takes you to your destination only if the engine is in good shape.


#Contentmarketing is a vehicle, and content marketing strategy is the engine, says @JuliaEMcCoy.
Click To Tweet


For example, if your goal is to increase organic traffic to your website, that’s the destination. Your content marketing strategy that calls for crafting a blog and posting three times a month targeting keywords your desired audience is using to search, that’s the engine. The content crafted for those posts is the vehicle.

Breaking down content marketing and content marketing strategy using an easily understood metaphor gives your bosses or clients a ground-floor understanding of how it all works.

After you lay it out, though, you need to dig in and really show them why it works and why they should care.

Demystify content marketing ROI

All the metaphors in the world won’t help you explain content marketing ROI if you’re not speaking a language your boss or higher-ups understand. To drive home the impact and potential of content marketing, show them the money (metaphorically).

Gather examples of other businesses that have used content marketing to bolster their brand success. In particular, search for case studies that show gains from content in terms of hard data.

For example, Leslie Carruthers’ article, 4 Case Studies Show How to Crush It With Out-of-the-Box Content Marketing, details how four brands found success with their content marketing campaigns, including some of the results.

shutterstock-design-trends

Most business leaders want to know the kind of results to expect from the marketing strategies in which they invest. Case studies and examples show them what’s possible.

But don’t just gather all the examples possible and put them out there. Think about the people you’re trying to convince and choose the examples most likely to appeal to them based on their role and goals.

Hit them with a tested formula for predicting ROI

If executives want to know what the ROI of content marketing strategy will look like in hard numbers (and many do), don’t despair. You can provide a model for predicting what kind of payoff to expect based on the initial investment.

This is how you literally show them the money.


If execs ask about ROI from #contentmarketing, show them the money. @JuliaEMcCoy explains. Read more>>
Click To Tweet


Content marketing aims to:

  1. Boost traffic to a site
  2. Convert that traffic into high-quality leads
  3. Convert those leads into sales

content-marketing-winning-drive

Conversions form the foundation of the content marketing ROI model and offer a basic metric to determine whether a content marketing strategy is successful.

If you quantify conversions in terms of potential for sales, you can predict the eventual ROI from investment in a content marketing strategy.

Conversion benchmarks

Naturally, we need some benchmark numbers to help determine conversion potential. For the formula, you’ll need to quantify:

  • Average rate targeted traffic converts to high-quality leads
  • Average rate those high-quality leads become sales

If you are looking to justify your current content marketing strategy, you may already have these numbers. If you’re working on initial buy-in, you need to make some assumptions. I offer some possibilities based on existing data from a MarketingSherpa study, but you may find data more specific to your industry or goals.

  • Average rate of organic traffic-to-leads conversions – 16%
  • Average rate of SEO leads-to-sales conversions – 14.6% based on a HubSpot study. (Print ads and other outbound marketing tactics net a close rate of 1.7%.)

Plugging these figures plus estimated monthly traffic numbers into the content marketing ROI formula will show projected leads and sales.

average-organic-traffic-conversion-rate

ROI formula

Estimate earned leads per month: number of monthly site visitors multiplied by 16% (average traffic-to-leads conversion rate) equals number of leads/month.

Estimate sales per month from those leads: number of leads/month multiplied by 14% (average lead-to-sale conversion rate) equals number of sales/month.

Now, let’s plug in traffic numbers and see what the formula predicts for sales. I’ll use a monthly traffic number from my website – 15,470.

  • Earned leads/month estimate: 15,470 (visitors) multiplied by 0.16 (average traffic-to-leads conversion rate) equals 2,475 leads.
  • Earned sales/month estimate: 2,475 (leads) multiplied by 0.14 (average lead-to-sale conversion rate) equals 346 sales.

In this example, the ROI formula predicts nearly 2,500 leads and approximately 346 sales.

Be up front about the assumptions inherent in the formula. Your conversion rates will vary and once you have real numbers to work with, you can tune the model.

Compare content marketing ROI to the return from other tactics

You might be asked to explain whether content marketing is better than paid marketing or paid search tactics. This is the perfect opportunity to compare these investments and show why content marketing comes out on top. Here’s how.

1. Estimate the investment

Up-front investment is always necessary. For example, if you outsource to a content agency, I estimate you’ll pay about $375 on average for one authority content piece. If you need one piece per week, that’s a monthly investment of $1,625 ($19,500 annually) for strategic content writing/creation.

2. Explain what the investment will do

In exchange for a strategic content marketing investment, what will your company or client get?

For example, the content creator will focus on 52 high-performing keywords (low competition, high search volume) for your brand and strive to create content pieces that rank at least in the third position in Google search results for at least two-thirds (34) of your targeted keywords within a year.

Each keyword achieving a top three position has a search volume of 1,500 per month and a click-through rate of 13.14%, according to data from Ignite Visibility.

google-position-click-through-rate

The high-performing content would appear in a total monthly search volume of 51,000 (34 keywords multiplied by 1,500 searches) and average of 6,701 monthly visitors (51,000 total searches multiplied by .1314 CTR).

3. Show how that investment relates to ROI

Your monthly investment of $1,625 could net 6,701 visitors at a minimum to your site.

Paid search to achieve that same traffic in a month would cost $17,000 – 10 times more expensive than organic content marketing (that figure is calculated for this example based on SEMRush data for my site).

Or put it another way – the content marketing strategy is 10 times cheaper than the paid marketing strategy. For business owners and higher-ups who think exclusively in dollar signs, that’s convincing.

Now, let’s put those numbers into the ROI formula:

  • 6,701 (monthly visitors) multiplied by 0.16 (average traffic-to-leads conversion rate) equals 1,072 monthly leads.
  • 1,072 (monthly leads) multiplied by 0.14 (average leads-to-sales conversion rate) equals 150 monthly sales.

In this example, a monthly investment into the content marketing strategy of $1,625 would lead to 150 sales.

Pulling it all together

To create a convincing case for content marketing, remember to phrase your argument in terms of how content will benefit your boss/clients/higher-ups/stakeholders:

  • Lay out a ground-floor explanation of how content marketing works using relatable metaphors.
  • Present examples of content from various companies and the results netted from these campaigns (use hard data and statistics).
  • Use the formula above to show the brand’s content potential for ROI conversions.
  • Compare these numbers to investments in other marketing tactics to get the same results.

Then, get ready to accept handshakes and pats on the back for your marketing genius.

Make the case for your executives to invest in making your brand’s content marketing strategy even more effective. Get them to send you and your team to Content Marketing World Sept. 4-7 in Cleveland, Ohio. Register today and use the code BLOG100 to save $100. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

The post How to Explain Content Marketing ROI to Win (or Keep) Buy-In appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.

07 Jun 16:06

Is Sales “Process” Really the Right Metaphor?

by Bob Apollo

tire tracks clear BG

The term “sales process” has become an almost universal cliché (and yes, I have been as guilty as the rest). Research is regularly published to prove that organisations with a defined “sales process” outperform their less well organised competitors.

In simple, high-volume sales environments – where success is often seen as a numbers game, and where sales people do not need to be overly sophisticated in their approach – I can see how having a process can help.

But in complex, lengthy, high-value sales environments that require sophisticated sales skills, the idea of a rigid, universally applied and consistently implemented step-by-step sales process seems increasingly inappropriate and ineffective.

I’m writing this article today because I’ve just listened to a video that likened a sales process to the step-by-step, corner-by-corner instructions we might get from a satellite navigation system. This seems to me to be an entirely inappropriate metaphor, and here’s why…

SatNavs make the assumption that we are getting from our starting point to our destination along made-up roads using predictable routes with clear signposts – and as many of us have discovered, they struggle to cope if they detect we are going “off piste”.

A dirt road, rather than a highway…

But anyone involved in complex B2B sales knows that – although we might have a destination in mind – the path to success is rarely rigidly defined. Yes, we have to pass through a number of waypoints along the way, but our path often seems more like a dirt road that jinks one way or another en route.

If we keep our heads down and blindly follow the pre-programmed rules built into a rigid “sales process SatNav”, rather than carefully observing and adapting to the terrain around us, we are likely to get stuck along the way.

In many ways, complex sales often feel more like a cross-country orienteering exercise than a brisk uninterrupted walk along a straight and predictable tarmacadamed path.

Yes, we need a sense of direction. Yes, we need to identify the key waypoints along the way. And yes, if we come across an impassable swamp, we need to use our initiative and experience to find a way around it. And yes, if conditions get too treacherous, we need to have the common sense to abandon the journey and follow a more productive path.

A flexible framework, not a rigid process…

Having a rigid process mentality is more likely to hinder us than help us under such circumstances. What we need is a framework that can guide us, and a set of simple checklists that help us to think through what we need to do when faced with an obstruction that might otherwise hold us back.

Processes imply that there is “one best way”. That might be true in high-volume manufacturing processes, but it’s the wrong mindset to apply to complex sales environments.

Frameworks, on the other hand, incorporate the concepts of best practice but are also designed to act as flexible guides, rather rigid cages. They recognise the power of awareness and initiative and encourage those qualities rather than suppress them.

They are constantly evolving to take account of the latest lessons learned (rather than relying on an annual map update) and are designed to adapt to specific local market conditions.

Helping our salespeople to think for themselves…

Frameworks encourage our salespeople to think for themselves, rather than forcing them to follow an overly-prescriptive path. They are far more likely to be adopted by our top sales performers (particularly if they have helped to craft them) and far more likely to be effective in guiding our middle-of-the-road salespeople to make thoughtful choices.

They are less effective in environments (they still exist!) where the average salesperson is less capable of showing real initiative or of thinking for themselves. But I’m guessing that your sales environment is more complex than that and that paint-by-numbers processes and turn-by-turn instructions would have the effect of dumbing down your salespeople rather than making them smarter.

So – I’m curious about where you stand on this: are your salespeople more inclined to blindly rely on a SatNav or to demonstrate their orienteering skills? Does the guidance you are giving to your salespeople feel more like a rigid process or a flexible framework? And if the former, can you see the potential of loosening up a bit, and trusting to the intelligence of your salespeople?

07 Jun 16:06

The Most Important Social Selling Activities, According to Top Performers

by Alex Rynne
Colleagues working at desk

As a concept, social selling isn’t difficult to understand. Prospects and buyers, like basically everyone else in today’s world, are generally active on social media. It’s typically a part of their research process when considering a purchase. Why would sellers not want to try and engage them on these platforms?

But as a practice, social selling isn’t quite so cut-and-dry. This is still relatively new ground for a lot of sales professionals.

With only so much time in a day to dedicate to the tactic, how can you be sure you’re prioritizing the most valuable activities, and not wasting your time on ineffective ones?

To help establish a baseline for social selling best practices, we figured we would turn to the folks who do it best. So we dug up some of the most useful first-hand insights from high-performing and influential social sellers to see which activities they point to as their most vital.

Let their experience and expertise guide you as you formulate your own blueprint for social selling mastery.

Experts Share Their Social Selling Best Practices

Build Out Your Network

“Some people focus too heavily on the selling part of social selling, but it is important to focus on the social part as well. True results are only as strong as your network. When you prospect, and see that your connections who can make referrals are people you don’t really know it’s time to reach out and suggest a conversation to get to know each other better.” — Beth Granger (via Top Dog Social Media)

Strategic Curation

“Content curators have a powerful way of connecting people with information. Great curation sets the foundation for engagement. If you respect other people in the industry, by sharing and acknowledging their content, you demonstrate your knowledge and expertise as well as build relationships and influence.” — Hank Nothhaft, Jr. (via Sales Reboot Camp)

Be Active But Efficient

“Every morning I recognize birthdays, work anniversaries, job changes on LinkedIn with personalized messages as well as liking, commenting and sharing people’s posts on all platforms. I also post things every day that I think people will find useful and interesting. Most people think I spend much more time doing this stuff but the reality is that even with nearly 8,000 LinkedIn connections I probably spend less than an hour doing all of the aforementioned. I also typically will connect with people I find inspiring or interesting every day with a personalized message. I’ve never once sent out a generic connection request.” — Scott MacGregor (via Adaptive Business Services)

Always Be Improving

“The best way to get better at social selling is by learning from your existing efforts. Collect insights from your current efforts and see what’s effective as well as what isn’t. Based on this data, ask yourself what you should be doing differently and what you can do better.” — Shane Barker (via Sprout Social)

Absorb All Available Insights

"LinkedIn is probably where I spend at least 50% of my day; not just for hunting, but researching, listening, and scanning what is going on with buy prospects and buyers. Did they get funding? Did they buy a company? Are they promoting their annual conference? Are they not sharing anything at all? It is so telling what gets shared." — Carly Wennogle (via Sales Reboot Camp)

Ensure Your Profiles are Updated, Relevant, Useful

“We think we’re out there researching customers, listening to them, and following the things they’re interested in. But they can also look at us.” — Anthony Iannarino (via HubSpot)

Find Commonalities and Deliver Value Up-Front

“You’re looking for a common connection that will help you build an authentic connection. You don’t start with the hard sale — that turns everyone off. Instead, look for common ground such as you’re both into coaching a particular sport or are part of the same group on LinkedIn. From there, look for ways to add value first. GIVE before you ever ask for something. I know you feel the sales pressure, but that smell of desperation will repel the very people you’re trying to attract. Instead, look for authentic ways you can be helpful and just do it.” — Bill Carmody (via Huffington Post)

Don’t Rush the Process

“Make friends first, do business last. One of the biggest mistakes I see social sellers do is rush to move the sale ahead. They connect, and then they pitch their product or service. I don’t like it – and your prospects don’t like it. Instead, look for what’s in common, and have a conversation about that. Be a person and make a real connection. Then earn the right for a future conversation by adding value to them, sharing an article or two with them, asking some insightful questions about what you shared, and then, once you’ve become friendly, invite a deeper conversation.” — Phil Gerbyshak (via Top Dog Social Media)

Master the Art of Multi-Threading

“Since numerous professionals from the same business may have profiles on the same social network, you can connect with different people working for the same organization. This helps increase your influence in that company at various levels. Let’s stop for a moment here and rewind back to the era of cold calling. In that era, sales executives would have to struggle to get past the gatekeepers (speaking figuratively), to even have a chance to pitch a sale to the top fish. However, social selling enables you to connect directly with the top-level decision makers. Even a decent salesperson can use this virtual power to influence relevant decisions within an organization.” — Koka Sexton (via KokaSexton.com)

Integrate Social Selling into Your Strategy

“The end goal of investing in social selling is to move the pipeline, revenue, and customer advocacy needles by deepening relationships. The natural reaction is to buy the bright shiny object; not do the hard work of strategy, planning, goals, and tactics. It's all too easy to take a silo approach versus embedding social selling into existing processes, methodologies, systems, and metrics. Culture and executive buy-in/sponsorship are critical. Cross-functional collaboration is NOT OPTIONAL.” — Jill Rowley (via Salesforce)

We hope these 10 practical tips can help you develop a social selling routine that consistently drives results. For much more guidance on the subject, download the LinkedIn Selling Tactical Plan.

07 Jun 16:06

3 Ways To Keep Up Momentum After Customer Onboarding

by Asra Sarfraz

The onboarding journey doesn’t merely stop once you’ve introduced your customer to your product. The challenge now lies in transforming your customers into power-users and brand ambassadors. Below are 3 strategies to jump right out of onboarding, straight into adoption and nurture.

Drive Adoption Through Feature Discovery

Sure, your system might be relatively easy to navigate. Nonetheless, customers need an extra boost to adopt additional features. The features you actively covered during onboarding build the foundation that allows for additional adoption. After onboarding, feature adoption should be encouraged at various touch points: in-app, during QBRs, via email… anything is possible. For instance, use in-app triggers to communicate with customers via automated emails or launch an in-app training pop-up. This can range from tutorials about key related product features or a series of emails covering upcoming steps.

As a rule of thumb, keeping feature discovery nudges interactive and short will increase the likelihood of customers remembering your tips and sticking to them. Highlighting specific product features relevant to the customer’s needs will help you remain one step ahead throughout adoption.

Broaden The Scope of Customer Education

Don’t limit yourself to product-related communications; plan to educate your customers in other related topics such as increasing productivity or workflows using the product, in addition to other tricks to make them successful in their daily lives. Take the opportunity to explain premium features, helpful integrations that might aid them, and ways to expand the way they use the product. Your customer came onboard with your software for a reason, and you should know what that reason was. Your goal, even after onboarding, is to hit the ‘aha’ moment as quickly as possible, by reducing time-to-value. At first, some hand-holding is necessary, but after they graduate from onboarding and step into the adoption phase, customer education allows you to let go, giving them more space for independent decision-making.

Develop a Regular Engagement Cadence

While it is important to provide on-demand resources that the customer can learn from, a lot of customers expect some personal, proactive, and tailored engagement on top of self-service options. Be mindful of the level of touch your customers get used to during onboarding and ease the transition so they don’t feel overwhelmed as soon as onboarding ends. Make it clear to the customer how to reach you, why, and set expectations for response time. If the customer transitions from an Onboarding Specialist to a Customer Success Manager, make that handoff clear to them so they don’t go back to emailing their first point of contact down the line.

Dedicate channels to Support, such as chat and social media, and associate other means of communication with Success. Finally, if you have the bandwidth to meet with customers one-on-one, you should set a clear cadence for calls, with an agenda, and set expectations on both ends. The meetings will allow you to drive adoption well after onboarding while building a strong relationship and encouraging advocacy. These meetings are a good place to highlight strengths and achievements while giving you a window to address bumps on the road.

Key Takeaways

The key to successful adoption is to work with a structure.

During onboarding, the customer is expecting the high cognitive load associated with launching a new product. However, after onboarding, overloading them with too much information at once won’t make for effective engagement. Develop a structure that flows nicely from onboarding, sustains the work that has already been put it, while building on top of it. Whether that’s in person or automated, design a cadence that will drive adoption and allows you to proactively step in when it goes off the tracks.

07 Jun 16:04

A Survey of 1,700 Companies Reveals Common B2B Pricing Mistakes

by Ron Kermisch
jun18_7_588281802
Glasshouse Images/Getty Images

Poor pricing practices are insidious — they damage a company’s economics but can go unnoticed for years. Consider the case of a major industrial goods manufacturer that was struggling with low profit margins, relative both to competitors and to its own historical performance. It traced much of the cause to a mismatch between its sales incentives and pricing strategy. The manufacturer was compensating sales representatives based solely on how much revenue they generated. Reps thus had little motivation to hit or exceed price targets on any given deal, and most were closing deals at the lowest permissible margin.

Like this manufacturer, many business-to-business (B2B) companies have a major opportunity to improve their standing on price. To help companies understand the state of pricing capabilities and how they figure into performance, Bain & Company conducted a global survey of sales leaders, vice presidents of pricing, CEOs, CMOs, and other executives at more than 1,700 B2B companies. We gathered their self-rating of 42 pricing capabilities and outcomes.

Insight Center

Roughly 85% of respondents believe their pricing decisions could improve. On average, large capability gaps exist in price and discount structure, sales incentives, use of tools and tracking, and structure of cross-functional pricing teams and forums.

What Pricing Leaders Do Differently

To understand which capabilities matter most, we studied a subset of top-performing companies, as defined by increased market share, self-described excellent pricing decisions, and execution of regular price increases. While different pricing capabilities may be important for a particular situation, the analysis showed that top performers exceed their peers primarily in three areas. Top performers are more likely to:

  • employ truly tailored pricing at the individual customer and product level
  • align the incentives for frontline sales staff with the pricing strategy, encouraging prudent pricing through an appropriate balance of fixed and variable compensation
  • invest in ongoing development of capabilities among the sales and pricing teams through training and tools

Our analysis also revealed just how much excelling across multiple pricing capabilities pays off. Among the companies that excel in all three areas, 78% are top performers, versus just 18% of companies that excel in none of the three. Let’s explore why these three areas have such a strong effect on pricing effectiveness.

Pricing to the Average Is Always Wrong

One-size-fits-all pricing actually fits no one. Yet it is not unusual for sales executives to admit that their ability to tailor prices at the customer and transaction level is rudimentary, or that they are not even aware of how much margin they make on deals.

By contrast, more-advanced companies tailor their pricing carefully for each combination of customer and product, continually working to maximize total margin. They bring data and business intelligence to bear on three variables for setting target prices:

  • the attributes and benefits that each customer truly values, and how much value is created for them
  • the alternatives and competitive intensity in the industry
  • the true profitability of the transaction after accounting for leakage in areas such as rebates, freight, terms, and inventory holding

One North American manufacturer with margins that were highly dependent on raw material pricing suffered from an undisciplined approach to pricing. A diagnosis allocated costs at the product and customer level to determine true profitability. That diagnosis, which showed the manufacturer was undercharging in many cases, provided the support needed to raise prices where appropriate in subsequent contract negotiations, leading to an average 4% increase from that opportunity alone. The company designated an executive to be accountable for related profit margin opportunities and to track the status and effect of each price increase. As a result, the company improved earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization by 7 percentage points.

Bad Incentives Undercut the Best Pricing Strategies

Managers often criticize sales reps for losing a deal, but rarely for pricing a deal too low, so reps learn to concede on price in order to close the deal. Moreover, companies rarely reward sales reps for exceeding price targets, which means few reps take risks to push for a higher price. Misaligned incentives push deals down to the minimum allowed price.

The antidote is to align compensation with strategic goals. Incentive plans benefit from following a few principles:

  • Clarify the objectives — be they revenue growth, share gains, margin gains, or others — and the behaviors that will help meet the objectives.
  • Make it foolproof. Help sales reps understand the payout calculation, simplify the quota structures and supplemental incentives, and make the upside for outperformance meaningful.
  • Ensure transparency. Sales reps should easily see the effect of a deal’s price on their personal compensation.
  • Track the results through regular reviews that flag areas where frontline staff might game the system.

Returning to the case of the industrial goods manufacturer described earlier, the company also overhauled its incentive program to balance revenue and profit. It created a pricing tool to make the commission on each deal visible to sales reps — for instance, “If I raise the price by $2,000, I earn an extra $700.” Sure enough, reps began to close higher-margin sales. These changes led to a 7% increase in prices, which added almost 1 percentage point as part of a 3.5-percentage-point improvement in margin overall.

Training and Tools — Often Afterthoughts — Can Have a Big Payoff

Top-performing firms invest in building the capabilities of the pricing team through training and forums to share best practices. This runs counter to the norm at many B2B sales organizations, which give little or no formal training on price realization.

Further, most companies can raise their game by adopting pricing software tools. Based on the performance of historical deals, software solutions — whether in-house or from a provider such as Vendavo or Price f(x) — can provide frontline reps with real-time pricing feedback based on the characteristics of a deal under way. Using dedicated pricing software is associated with much stronger pricing decision making, our survey analysis shows. Yet despite the proven value of pricing software, only 26% of survey companies use it.

The value of developing capabilities became evident to a specialty chemical producer with lackluster margins. The company had hundreds of different products, each with different competitors, substitutes, and customer bases. Product and sales staff could not explain their pricing decisions, and often resorted to a rule of thumb summed up by one product manager as, “I estimate I can raise the price by four cents per pound.” Not surprisingly, she had raised prices by four cents per pound for four straight years, leaving money on the table.

By analyzing the various products and their markets, the chemical producer found pricing opportunities that enabled it to increase earnings before interest and taxes by 35% within two years. Just as important, the company set out to raise its game on pricing capabilities. It created forums for sharing best practices, trained product managers in doing fundamental pricing analysis, and trained salespeople on how to have better pricing discussions with their customers. New dashboards monitored progress toward pricing goals and flagged places where sales reps might be getting too aggressive, or weren’t getting aggressive enough. Finally, the CEO reinforced these measures by demanding that the product and sales teams report on pricing actions taken, as well as results, so that effective pricing remained a high priority. The company established itself as a pricing leader in its markets and continued to optimize margins, both by raising prices and, in selective cases, by lowering prices to drive the right balance of price versus volume gains.

Regardless of a company’s starting point in pricing, there is significant value in building out the capabilities highlighted by our survey analysis. The three areas discussed here have proved to be the most important for upgrading tools, resources, and behaviors. That said, companies in almost all industries have underinvested generally across pricing. The episodic “pricing project” approach leaves companies well short of full potential. With meaningful margin upside at stake, managers cannot afford to continue pricing by rules of thumb or by taking a one-size-fits-all approach to pricing across entire segments of their business.

07 Jun 16:01

How to Be More Effective on LinkedIn

by Alice Heiman

There are more than 467 million members on LinkedIn. Are you and your sales team?

I would hope so! Social selling is critical for the modern seller. Social selling provides new opportunities for salespeople to break through all the noise out there and connect with their ideal customers. 90% of top decision-makers say they never respond to cold calls. But, 76% of buyers are ready to have a conversation on social media (Hootsuite).

Many of the salespeople who are on LinkedIn are not using it right or are not using it to its full capabilities. That’s why, when I had the opportunity to speak with one of the nations leading experts on social selling through LinkedIn, Brynne Tillman, Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer at Vengreso, I took it!


Alice:

What is the biggest mistake salespeople make on LinkedIn?

Brynne:

There are a few – but the biggest mistake is to connect and forget. LinkedIn should be seen just like you would an in-person event. It’s networking with people not just profiles. When you connect and ignore your new connection it’s like showing up at a networking meeting, walking up to a person, handing them your business card and walking away. What good was that? Start a conversation, provide value and engage with all of your new connections.

Alice:

Our clients really struggle with writing a good summary, what tips can you give them?

Brynne:

Make the summary about them not you. Bring value to them, get them curious, teach them something and get them to want to learn more from you. I like to look at the summary almost like a blog post. I start with the challenge, add insights, talk about who and how you help and add a call to action so they know what to do now.

Alice:

What shouldn’t you put in your summary?

Brynne:

This is not an opportunity to pitch. Don’t focus on why they should hire you, rather focus on content that provides value and gets them to want to talk with you, because you provide value.

Alice:

What advice can you give to create a headline that gets people’s attention?

Brynne:

The job of the headline is to get folks to want to keep reading. So make sure you connect with your buyer and get them curious. Talk about who and how you help and lead them to learn more in your profile.

Alice:

What should people know about skills and endorsements in terms of developing credibility and findability?

Brynne:

This section was developed for recruiters to find candidates that have the skills they were looking for regarding a specific job. That said, the skills section is an SEO opportunity, so listing keywords and phrases that people will use when they are looking for your products and services is a smart way to use this section. There are 3 skills that are visible when someone is scanning your profile, choose the top skills that your buyers would resonate with. And, the more endorsements you have the better it looks and the higher you will come up in searches.

Alice:

What are your tips for growing your network, but growing it with the right connections?

Brynne:

Although there are many avenues to building a strong and trusted network, I am a big fan of growing my network in 3 ways:

1. Introductions for COIs (Centers of Influence) and clients

2. Connecting with people that are engaging on my content or that I find through engaging on other people’s content

3. Connecting with people that I speak with or meet offline

Alice:

Some people have thousands of connections, how do you achieve that? Is it important to have so many connections?

Brynne:

I think there is a fine balance between quality and quantity. The more you share content and engage, the more inbound connection requests you will receive. I don’t accept everyone into my network, but I do engage with everyone – ask them how they found me and then if they engage I will most-likely include them in my network.

Alice:

How do you leverage the network you have to reach the people you want to reach?

Brynne:

I share content and run targeted webinars and invite my network to join them. I try to consistently add value the best I can.

Alice:

As a sales leader, how can I help my salespeople be more effective on LinkedIn?

Brynne:

Teach them how to best brand themselves in a way that attracts, teaches and engages their buyers. Guide them to network with their new and existing connections, show them how to leverage their existing connections to gain access to buyers and help them to understand how to be a thought leader and subject matter expert on LinkedIn.


Are you ready to become an expert in social selling on LinkedIn? Sign up for Vengreso’s Social Selling Bootcamp to reach MORE buyers and GROW your sales pipeline!

The post How to Be More Effective on LinkedIn appeared first on Alice Heiman, LLC.

07 Jun 16:01

4 Ways AI Has Changed the Retail Industry in the Last Decade

by Valeryia Shchutskaya

The footprints of AI in retail can be found at every stage of customer experience. Let’s take a look at the most significant areas of AI that has reshaped the way we shop, manage supply chains and set product prices.

1. Recommendation engines and personalization solutions

Today, many of us can’t already imagine shopping without Amazon’s sophisticated recommendations, but it wasn’t always like this. Recommendation engines, also called real-time product targeting, were not widely used ten years ago.

However, today most e-commerce companies are tailoring product recommendations based on each customer’s unique interests, buying propensity, and past and current buying data and customer data.

The use of recommendation engines drives traffic, delivering relevant content at the right time to the right consumer. This increases customer engagement, converts sales, and increases average basket value, etc.

Apart from tailoring the customer experience, AI is also helping sales and marketing teams do their job better. Tools like Salesforce Einstein are helping sales teams to identify leads that are most likely to convert based on an array of data points across its database and the internet. For marketing teams, Salesforce Einstein is helping tailor content or products as well as the timing of when they are offered.

2. Computer Vision

Computer vision already has a lot of applications across different industries; however, in retail, this technology is entirely changing customer experience, both in-stores and online.

Amazon amazed the world when they opened an Amazon Go store where checkout stations and cashiers did not exist. In these stores customers can grab the items of their choice and exit the store without ever fetching their credit cards. Items are scanned, and customers are charged through their Amazon account with the use of computer vision, deep learning, and sensor fusion.

Computer vision is also making its way into traditional retail stores more and more. Via in-store cameras and artificial intelligence, companies can monitor how their products perform on the shelves and conduct analysis using machine learning to optimize product placement and promotion. A startup called Eversight that delivers similar services reports that promotions deployed based on their data analysis outperform traditional promotion by 10-25%.

In-store cameras and AI can also help retail stores better understand customer experience in physical stores.

Is this floor plan optimized? Do customers spend more time in one zone of the store than others? Where do they spend the most of time? Do these patterns correlate with the sales conversion data we gather from our POS system? All these questions can be answered with the usage of a camera and AI that analyses facial expressions and connects them to different human facial expressions and emotions.

The shopping experience will be revolutionized as well. Some predict that the camera will become a much bigger part of the buying process within the next 5-10 years. For example, customers will be able to buy shoes by photographing their feet to be 3D mapped for a custom fit, and goods in stores will be paid for with little more than selfies thanks to facial recognition.

3. Supply chain optimization

AI has been implemented across many stages of a supply chain. It includes efficient inventory management, autonomous replenishment systems, determining optimal distribution routes and allocations, etc.

AI has especially been useful for omnichannel retail where inventory management can be particularly hard. One leading footwear retailer implemented a system that links inventory across all sales points and determines where the order should be shipped from – a store or a central warehouse.

The system works the following way. When an order is placed, the system identifies a store that has the product in stock and has the lowest chances of selling it at full price before the end of the season. The extra cost of shipping the order from the store is compared against the average markdown. The product is shipped from the location that results in biggest profit.

AI also helps with manufacturing of products. A new industrial revolution has created smart factories where robotics together with AI are driving the majority of the manufacturing. Workers no longer need to operate the machines. Everything is done through computer software that can initiate production based on forecasting data, detect a malfunction before it happens, and optimize the settings on the machines to use the least amount of raw material to get the best quality products.

By far the biggest task in supply chain management is supply chain planning. The game of forecasting customer demand is the driving force of profit in all supply chains. Customer preferences and thereby demand for products depends on an array of factors that are represented in big data sets that only machine learning algorithms can interpret.

For example, Otto, a German e-commerce startup, uses a deep-learning algorithm to process an incredible amount of data to predict what and when customers are going to buy. By analyzing factors like price, shipping times, number of shipments per order, and many others, Otto has had a 90% accuracy about sales made within 30 days after the initial analysis.

4. Dynamic pricing

Pricing in many industries (airlines, rental car companies, hotels etc.) can be complicated because multiple factors can affect the price. Still, many companies have been relying on an age-old formula involving only cost of acquisition and a static profit margin.

Dynamic pricing is arguably a better pricing model because it is based on an analysis of factors that truly influence prices. Factors that are typically taken into consideration with dynamic pricing: competitors’ prices, consumer behavior, shopping periods (both long term and short term), customer information and customer price perception (big impact on the profit margin). Furthermore, with the help of machine learning, prices are systematically updated to reflect any change in the conditions.

The main benefit of adopting dynamic pricing, is the ability to offer the optimal price at the right time to the right customer, with the objective of maximizing sales conversion and margins. However, in order to get valuable results from dynamic pricing it is important to take into account the following factors: (1) enough quality data, and (2) a custom algorithm that suits your particular business model.

07 Jun 16:00

3 of the Best Demand Generation Tactics to Scale Pipeline Fast

by Triniti Burton

Mediamodifier / Pixabay

If your marketing charter is anything like ours, you’ve got some massive goals ahead of you. Your team is likely tasked with engaging the right decision-makers at target accounts, generating a specific number of opportunities and impacting a defined revenue goal. But what do you do when you face challenges hitting your mile marker targets for marketing-qualified and sales-qualified leads (MQLs and SQLs)?

When expectations are steep and time is short, it’s important to leverage the best performing demand generation tactics that can reach qualified audiences at scale and gain traction quickly.

Because let’s face it… influencer marketing is the long-game and creating premium webinars takes a lot of resources. So even though they may be some of your highest-converting demand generation strategies, they can’t be your go-to tools when you’ve only got a quarter to generate full-funnel demand.

You need digital campaigns that you can get to market quickly and scale based on budget.

Easy-to-Launch Demand Generation Tactics

Regardless of the sense of urgency, there are plenty of tactics you definitely shouldn’t turn to simply because you’re under pressure:

  1. Don’t buy a cold list for email marketing campaigns.
  2. Don’t inflate your pipeline with leads who aren’t ready for sales.
  3. Don’t weaken your targeting parameters to generate quantity over quality.

In other words, you can’t get so desperate to scale that you’re willing to put just anything into your database.

So, what should you do?

The solution is to increase your investment in key paid demand generation tactics (to drive scale), while homing in on the right audience through specific targeting parameters (to ensure quality). We find the following three demand gen channels can generate qualified pipeline quickly when approached with a quality-first mindset.

3 Demand Generation Tactics You Can Scale Quickly

1. Content Syndication

Content syndication can be a powerful channel to reach niche audiences, but it requires the right content, partners and clearly defined targeting parameters. However, chances are, generating more demand via this channel will require you to think beyond your current publishers and lead providers.

Unfortunately, identifying new partners can be exhaustive and risky. To scale volume efficiently, you may want to consider turning to a data marketplace that can connect with with new qualified data sources. Integrate Data Marketplace, for example, is an access point to more than 300 vetted third-party media partners who collectively engage hundreds of millions of B2B prospects.

With access to more lead- and data-sources, B2B marketing organizations can better engage and convert the right prospects into actionable, opt-in leads.

2. Paid Social Marketing

Paid social marketing is another channel that you can tap into to generate marketing-qualified leads in a short amount of time. The specific social platforms you should consider largely depends on your budget, buyer personas and target outcomes.

From the standpoints of user demographics, engagement and return on investment, LinkedIn is likely the smartest go-to for generating qualified leads and increasing traffic to your website and landing pages. In fact, 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn, according to the social media network’s own data. Additionally, nearly half of all social media traffic to B2B websites is from LinkedIn.

Twitter and Facebook may not be B2B marketers’ first choice for paid social promotion, but these networks shouldn’t be outside the realm of consideration. They may be the right way to increase short-notice demand. Social Insider highlights remarkable examples of B2B Facebook marketing among brands such as Cisco WebEx, Oracle, Kalibrr, and Canon.

3. Display and Programmatic Advertising

The 2018 B2B Advertising & Marketing Outlook report, sponsored by Dun & Bradstreet, revealed that 63% of B2B marketers are investing in programmatic advertising and 64% of them projected to increase budgets this year. So your peers at large seem to agree this channel is a good bet.

Just keep in mind that increasing your budget only makes sense if your current display strategy is effective. However, if this channel isn’t quite up to par when it comes to performance, using it to generate more qualified pipeline is more complicated than just running more placements.

When programmatic and display advertising aren’t yielding the right prospects, the issue isn’t budget; chances are it’s targeting criteria, data quality or possibly even content. There are a few tactics to consider that may have a positive impact on your display-driven pipeline:

  • Incorporate an account-based approach into your programmatic strategy.
  • For conversion-focused campaigns, make sure you’re validating the data before it goes into your database.
  • Test multiple asset sets to identify what resonates most with your audience.

If however your current programmatic campaigns are on point, engaging the right audiences who continue to move down funnel, then crank up the volume so you can reach those quarterly metrics.

We know that balancing quality and quanity is hard. While the transition can have definitive growing pains, there are solutions which can help B2B marketing and sales organizations meet their success metrics even when time is short.

How do the most highly effective B2B marketers generate demand, when expectations are high and timelines are short? Download your copy of the free eBook and get 155 Tips & Tactics from Demand Marketing’s Top 40 Game Changers today.

07 Jun 16:00

How to Turn Sales Pilots into Smokin' Deals

by Sean Higgins

Navigating a pilot can be the difference between winning and losing in sales. Whether you target the Fortune 500 or are simply trying to secure your first 10 customers, pilots can open the door for future deals. A pilot project is a small-scale test designed to look at feasibility, cost, and the ROI of a product or service.

Companies love pilots because they enable them to try multiple projects and see which ones move the needle for the business. They also help companies explore new technology in a low-risk manner without much commitment. As a sales leader, your team needs to know how to land pilots and turn your pilots into actual deals.

Securing a Pilot

The first question you need to ask yourself when looking at a pilot opportunity is “Does the pilot actually make sense here?” Here are a few characteristics of a deal with pilot potential:

  • A Fixed timeline: You’re able to provide the benefit over a small period of time and then turn it off. This works with many software projects or with small scope service projects. Delivering a product or solution over a short amount of time makes it easier to leave the customer wanting more post-project.
  • Unclear ROI: If the customer has expressed interest but is unsure about the exact benefit the offering will provide (common with newer products and markets). Here, the pilot is an opportunity to prove the value to the customer while winning a small deal in the process.
  • Budget constraints: The customer likes the offering but doesn’t have enough money in the budget to acquire the entire thing. Be careful here. Just how new sales reps like to drop price immediately on a tough phone call, sometimes lowering the deal scope on a pilot can be a crutch to avoid that awkward silence on a call.
  • Feature restrictions: Making sure the pilot is actually different than the real offering. You wouldn’t give away a car every time someone asked for a test drive, so why give away your entire product? If you can’t limit the scope of your offering, a pilot will rarely make sense for your team.

Once you meet the criteria above, you’re in good territory positioning your offer as a pilot. One last word of warning for securing a pilot: Don’t give away your pilot for free. If it requires a salesperson’s time to set it up, getting a nominal fee will ensure your contact can get budget when the actual contract comes up for negotiation.

If you’re still acquiring your first handful of customers, pilots can be a great way to get more exposure in the market. When pitching pilots directly, it’s a good idea to connect with a company’s innovation department. They’re often a key stakeholder when running new tests and -- in some cases -- provide budgetary support to other business units.

Turning Your Pilot into a Lucrative Deal

There are several components of successfully turning a pilot into a deal. Generally, you’ll need to show either clear usage metrics and/or a clear ROI post-pilot. Examples of usage metrics are as follows:

  • How many people logged in during the pilot?
  • How many active users did you have?
  • How many value-add activities did those folks perform?
  • How can you translate these figures into actual value for the company?

If you have a software, service, or product that influences top-line revenue, the ROI process is pretty simple:

  1. How many new leads did you generate over the pilot?
  2. What is the estimated close rate and the overall contract value?

That’s how much revenue the pilot generated. Now, what if you could run that year-round? How much would you expect to make in top line? Showing the benefit -- and how greatly it outweighs the cost -- can help you make a clear ROI pitch to your stakeholders.

If, on the other hand, you influence a cost center (support, development, accounting, etc.) you’ll want to show one of the following:

  1. Cost savings over what the client was using before for your solution.
  2. Time savings that translates into even greater value.

Point one is straightforward if your prospect is paying, for example, $10,000/month for accounting software and your pilot provided the same capabilities for $500/month. That’s clearly a massive savings.

With the second criteria, however, you need to save time and show how that time can be repurposed effectively. Saving five minutes at the end of each meeting doesn’t help the company, if that time is spent unproductively.

With these ideas in mind, start your pilot by asking your prospect what success looks like -- and working backward from there. Build the case for your ROI every week or month the pilot is running, and you’ll be able to show more than a data point. You’ll have a line of all the value generated over the life of the pilot. This reduces purchase risks for your customer and earns you revenue in the process.

So, go ahead, get your product into the hands of more customers with a pilot program and see the results pile up in your bank account.

HubSpot Free Sales Training