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12 Sep 17:26

How Sales Engagement Platform Are Changing The Way People Use To Sell

by William Sarto

sales engagement

The sales landscape is fast changing. We are witnessing the explosion of new sales-tools, vendors and solutions. We are constantly sold various sales tools by different-different vendors that promise to amplify our productivity. Now, sorting through this vendor-chaos is daunting. The last thing you want is investing in a sales tool that will serve to complicate your sales process rather than simplifying it.

Another challenge is this: Sales reps always run short of time!

Even though the use of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems has immensely helped the sales reps in saving a lot of time, and also improved how businesses manage their customers, these systems do have their own shortcomings.

That’s why Sales Engagement Platforms are becoming more and more popular with sales reps. A Sales Engagement Platform or SEP lumps together all the tools which you need into a solid sales engagement software and thereby helps the sales reps to engage faster and increase their productivity. But exactly what benefits do sales engagement platforms offer to your business organization? Read on to find out…

1. Easy Sales Content Management:

Sales engagement platforms provide the sales reps with engagement analytics. The analytics helps them to determine which content is popular with the readers. This will be a significant competitive advantage for your business.

Advanced analytics enables the reps to learn the needs of the prospects and the customers in real time. Now, furnished with this information, your sales rep can act quickly to pursue a lead or re-adjust their sales strategy.

The information provided includes:

  • Which content is leading to more sales and which is not: Sales reps can use this information to tweak content to clinch more sales. This leads to more guided selling with the application of sales energy concentrated on deserving leads.

  • Proliferation of Smartphones has brought a new angle to web browsing and other online interactions. Mobile tech gadgets are no longer a luxury. They are becoming invaluable online business tools. Theses gadgets provide a new way for the reps to engage with the prospects while on the go. Mobile devices provide more customer engagement which may lead to more sales. Mobile responsive sales engagement platforms enables sales agents to do some mundane tasks such as updating their records on CRM system of record. This saves them time and allows you to focus on winning new customers.

2. Constant And Multi-Medium Communication:

In the business world, communication is the key. You need to keep constant communication with your prospects. There are various communication tools you can use to communicate with your prospects. But, there is nothing more important than your sales messages.

That means, you need to get your sales message across in the most reliable way. And also in a way that makes follow-up less straining and time saving.

Now, sales engagement platforms enable you to communicate with potential customers via the many mediums of communication such as email or SMS. Besides, they make it easier for you to conduct sales presentations and live pitches. The sales engagement platform eliminates the need for other communication tools such as web conferencing tools. Live pitches promises quicker results and also fast tracks the sales process.

3. Improved Pipeline Forecasting:

For an organization to successfully manage their pipeline, they must know the number of opportunities in the pipeline. The organization also needs to know the value of every single deal in the pipeline, how long each of the prospect spends in the pipeline, and most importantly, the win rate. Although Customer Relation Management software have been providing most of this data, but there is a need for advanced sales engagement tool. Now, these new-age ‘digital listening’ tools are giving sales reps more capabilities they never had before. They help them improve their timing for follow-up activities. Also, they help them engage more with the prospects through insightful selling approach.

4. Customer Lifecycle Support:

The customer lifecycle can be long and frustrating to the sales rep. Right from pitching to the prospect, to follow up, to close, to support and expansion, it is never easy.

This is where a SEP steps in. A Sales Engagement Platform becomes the ideal platform to support guided selling and predictive analytics. It centralizes the customer engagement data required to inform the sales cycle. All this is based on the customer’s unique needs and engagement. Ultimately, it helps shorten the sales cycles.

Some advanced and popular Sales Engagement Platforms (SEP) that can make your sales sky-rocket include:

  • SalesHandy – A powerful sales engagement platform that provides advanced engagement analytics, and advanced content tracking abilities.

  • LiveHive – A sales platform that automatically shows you how your sales content is being shared across the organization.

  • ClearSlide – This platform helps the sales reps to connect and engage with complicated prospects. However, the platform is a bit beyond the reach of most businesses.

The time when Office applications used to be the in-thing for business are over. Now, businesses are keen on improving their productivity. One way of doing that is by reducing the amount of time they spend working on different sales tools. Also, they need to be in constant communication with the prospects. Although CRMs have tried to solve this problem, a better sales software that combines all these sales tools into one single powerful sales software is needed. This is where a Sales Engagement Platform comes in. And that is why businesses are adopting such platforms in droves!

10 Sep 16:57

The Unique Powers of Whiteboard Animation

by Claude Harrington

A couple years ago, a psychologist by the name of Richard Wiseman conducted an interesting experiment. Curious about the impact of whiteboard animation, he arranged a test of memory in which participants (there were about 1,000 total) were shown one of two video clips:

  • A live-action explainer of a complex subject
  • A whiteboard animation explainer of the same complex subject

The audio in both instances was exactly the same; so the only difference here, really, was the video format. Yet that single difference accounted for a major change. Among those who saw the whiteboard animation, there was a 15% rise in recall. The reason for this, Wiseman believes, is “because people are simply more engaged; in order to remember something, you must attend to it in the first place.”

This ability to improve the transfer of information is remarkable, yet it’s only one of the unique powers of whiteboard animation. So today we’ll look at a few more…

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 17.03.36

Facts and Figures (Whiteboard Animation)

In general, explainer videos of any form (be they 3D animation, motion graphics, etc.) lend themselves to the inclusion of graphs, charts, facts and figures. But unlike those other formats, in which you’ll often need to discretely toggle between “narrative’ sections and “visual information” sections, whiteboard animation enables you to do both seamlessly.

For example, let’s look at some work we recently did for KNOW Better Bread:

Because this client is offering a disruptive product (one whose origins come from science) there were a lot of facts and figures that were important to get across. At the same time (and especially because this is a new brand) it was important to retain engagement every second of the way. Which was something we all felt was a reasonable risk had we ever meandered from the narrative to highlight a graph or chart. So, instead, we employed whiteboard animation’s power to seamlessly move through narrative and visual information at the same time.

Below are a few examples from the whiteboard animation:

Screen shot 2016-09-06 at 6.07.31 PMScreen shot 2016-09-06 at 6.08.12 PM Screen shot 2016-09-06 at 6.08.24 PMScreen shot 2016-08-16 at 5.32.23 PM

Stands Out in a Crowded Field (Whiteboard Animation)

Standing out in a crowded field is a challenge for any business. But especially now, with the rapid growth of video (think Facebook, YouTube, etc.), it’s becoming even harder to truly catch a stranger’s eye. Luckily, this is where whiteboard animation can help.

Over the past few years, whiteboard animation has quickly become a very popular explainer video format. Even so, it’s still not something that most people see on an everyday basis. And until that day becomes, we can use that scarcity to our advantage.

In a sense, therein lies the beauty of whiteboard animation. It is, as of the time of this writing, a rare enough technique to typically warrant a pause of intrigue. Yet, unlike most video techniques that stand out for their rarity, whiteboard animation is familiar enough that it doesn’t feel like a foreign technique.

Brand Flexibility (Whiteboard Animation)

Every corporate explainer video should adhere to brand guidelines and properly position that company’s brand in the most memorable way. The problem, though, is that the visual components of a brand might clash with visual components of a video style. Luckily, this is something that the client and animation studio can address ahead of time. But in doing so, what they may realize is that one aesthetic motif (either brand or video) inhibits what is possible with the other. Again, through discussion and collaboration, this is a solvable situation; but notably, with whiteboard animation, it is no situation at all.

Because the whiteboard technique is set against a white background, there is a unique degree of flexibility when it comes to depiction of colors, shapes and fonts.

This means that the branding can be as subtle as you like…

Screen shot 2016-09-06 at 6.51.26 PMScreen shot 2016-09-06 at 6.51.30 PM

Or as explicit…

Screen shot 2016-09-06 at 6.53.44 PMScreen shot 2016-09-06 at 6.54.54 PM

Product Placement (Whiteboard Animation)

Technically, this last section probably falls under the banner of “brand flexibility,” but it’s such a unique property of whiteboard animation that it deserves a section of it’s own. Because of all the animation techniques, whiteboard is the only one that can realistically include photographic imagery.

Although photo images are only included in a small percentage of whiteboard videos (probably around 10-15%), the significance here is that it can be done. Which can be particularly important for product-oriented videos.

Below are a couple examples:

Screen shot 2016-09-06 at 7.10.06 PM Screen shot 2016-09-06 at 7.09.43 PM

Questions? Comments?

10 Sep 16:51

A Target worker's hilarious blog about customers is going viral — here the best behind-the-scenes revelations

by Kate Taylor

shopping paying cash cashier targetA Target employee is going viral for sharing strange and hilarious stories about customers that will completely change how you see the chain.

In late August, Tom Grennell posted a list of things that happened on his first day working at Target on his Tumblr, Kimpossibooty.

The post exploded, racking up close to 200,000 notes over the next two weeks. So, Grennell began keeping track of more of his often bizarre experiences working at the retailer.

"An old woman bought five bottles of wine and a large bottle of vodka," Grennell wrote of his third day on the job. "Her license told me she had lived through World War II. Her smile told me she was still living."

The posts — which Grennell now posts on a Tumblr called TargetRetales — offer a behind-the-scenes look at what working at Target is really like.

Here are six revelations from TargetRetales that many shoppers don't know about the retailer.

1. You can get deals if you're nice to workers.

target worker

Grennell worked a shift on a day when his Target location was offering 10% off on all purchases. However, shoppers have to ask for the discount — in some cases.

"I have a coupon to scan if anyone asks for it. I scan it if people don’t ask for it if they’re nice to me," Grennell writes. "I don’t scan it if they’re rude. Power is a new sensation. Power is a good sensation."

Reminder: always be kind to your cashier.

2. Cashiers are graded by speed.


There's a reason why cashiers try to bag purchases as fast as they can.

"Anyone that pays attention knows every transaction is graded. G(green) for a good, fast checkout, R(red) for a slow checkout," a former cashier wrote in a message to Grennell. "What customers fail to realize is how those R’s make you feel like you have dishonored yourself, your ancestors, and your cow."

A slower rating is majorly demoralizing — even if it's the customer's fault. If a shopper is taking too long to find their credit card or figuring out coupons, cashiers need to suspend the transaction in order to avoid being penalized for the extra seconds.

3. Stickers can be the best part of cashiers' jobs.

Target groceries grocery store

While parents may know that Target cashiers give away stickers to kids, many people probably don't realize the major role that stickers play in Target employees' jobs. TargetRetales could dedicate an entire section to Grennell's experiences with children and stickers.

"Gave dozens of children stickers. Several of them squealed when they got them. This is the best part of my job," reads one post.

However, not every child is as amused.

"I met my mortal enemy. A child with a deadly fear of stickers," Grennell wrote on Day 12. "His mother attempted to put one on him. He shrieked and tried to get away from it. He would not stop screaming until it was taken off of his body. I do not know who he thinks he is, but he will not get away with this disrespect."

4. Clothing tags have secret codes.

girl shopping target

After a shopper attempted to purchase a shirt without a price tag, another Target employee offered a little-known secret to Target's pricing.

"The inside of the article usually has a secret, tiny tag with the DPCI that you could type in if there is no regular tag to scan," wrote Tumblr user Skruffie. "Also, if you wanna use merch locate to find a different size for a guest, you could just use math... the last digit on the DPCI goes up or down depending on the size. Say if a small shirt has 4567 as the last four digits, you can type in 4568 for medium, 4569 for large, etc."

5. Extreme couponers have figured out how to game the system. 

shopping buying checkout target

His first day on the job, Grennell encountered his first extreme couponer. 

"A woman came up with $220 of items," he wrote. "After a wad of coupons and a stack of free gift cards from other promotions, her total went down to $55. I want her to teach me."

Other couponers are less strategic. 

"A man bought thirty light bulbs with a coupon," Grennell wrote on Day Two. "He told me he did not need thirty light bulbs. He just likes coupons."

The light bulb man eventually left the store without the thirty bulbs, despite paying for them. 

6. Shoppers forget things at the store… a lot.

target shopping

Customers have left everything from their purchases to credit cards at the check out, according to Grennell. In some cases, they never come back for the forgotten items.

"Four people left all of their bags before leaving the store. They each returned. One person left their credit card. They never returned," reads one post.  

You can read more about Grennell's adventures in retail at TargetRetales. 

SEE ALSO: Target is making a major change that should scare Walmart, Kroger, and Whole Foods

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: 5 'healthy' fast food meals that are worse for you than pizza

10 Sep 16:50

Joining the leading edge of supply chain automation

by Sponsor Post

updated ups supplied6

Every day the frontiers of the global supply chain expand with greater automation and more innovative technologies, such as 3D printing, autonomous robots, and cloud-based IT systems. Customers, distributors, manufacturers, and suppliers are more connected than at any other time in history.

The results for businesses: faster time to market, better responsiveness to customer needs, and increased efficiency. Consumers and business customers have long bought products that come to them through connections between retailers, distributors, manufacturers, and parts suppliers. The difference today is speed, the quality of information, and the chance that a manufacturer or parts supplier may use robotics or 3D printing to help fulfill an order. Supply chain connections are becoming increasingly more seamless.

Consumers and business customers have long bought products that come to them through connections between retailers, distributors, manufacturers, and parts suppliers. The difference today is speed, the quality of information, and the chance that a manufacturer or parts supplier may use robotics or 3D printing to help fulfill an order. Supply chain connections are becoming increasingly more seamless.

"It's about aligning human intelligence with automation by digitally connecting customers, manufacturers, and suppliers," says Mark Lindquist, the chairman of Rapid-Line, a $25-million metal fabricator, which connects much of its supply chain to many of the 13 robots it uses on its Grand Rapids, Michigan, plant floor.

At Rapid-Line, robotics has provided a consistency when it comes to parts quality. And 3D printers are used within an eight- to 12-hour window to create new parts prototypes. "You dramatically reduce your inventory requirements," says Lindquist. "You process more sales. You don’t have to buy a building."

Increasingly, 3D printers are becoming part of the automated supply chain. Ryan Harrison, a senior product designer at GoPro, the San Mateo, California-based producer of versatile, wearable cameras, recalls a time when prototyping new parts took up to a week to be delivered to his product research lab. He now orders new parts by sending 3D CAD files through a cloud-based 3D-printing firm, Fast Radius in Chamblee, Georgia, outside of Atlanta. Harrison can press "print" at 6:00 pm, and have parts delivered via UPS by 10:00 am.

"It's basically like you have 50 machines at your disposal," says Harrison. "The benefit of 3D printing is you’re building on demand so that you’re not warehousing parts." Adds Mitch Free, the chairman of Fast Radius, "It makes sense to produce high-value products on demand that don't have mass appeal."

Gathering clouds for automation

Patrick Gill, the CEO of eCommerce Outdoors, an outdoor recreational products e-tailer in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, looks to IT systems that are cloud-based to help run order fulfillment and shipping processes. Gill says that by using IT systems managed by outside vendors, he doesn’t have to worry about the maintenance and security of the technology. It's the responsibility of others.

Gill's company has close to 600 suppliers — ranging from mom-and-pop operations to large producers with sophisticated ERP systems. "We’re trying to make connections in as real-time as possible," says Gill. "As fast as you can give information to us, is as fast as we want it."

In this sense, cloud-based systems help enable automation for mid-sized businesses. This allows companies to quickly scale up new processes, applications, services, or simply to collect operational data as it surfaces (often from sensors) in the supply chain.

The benefits of automation

Many of these new, fast-developing technologies within the digital supply chain promise cost-saving, value-creating benefits to manufacturers and distributors alike. These include:

  • Better demand and inventory forecasting
  • Increased operational and labor efficiency
  • More streamlined delivery of goods through automated order entry, bills of lading, invoicing systems, and more
  • More accurate and faster response to customer requests

A key question is whether there are limits to automation. An argument as old as the start of the Industrial Revolution posits that automation displaces workers. But one manufacturing engineering leader who extensively uses automated robotics systems within his New Jersey aerospace parts company disagrees. He contends that automated robots have "freed up workers to do other, more value-added tasks."

Others worry that supply chain automation — fueled by cloud-based systems — provides security risks. Gill, of eCommerce Direct, sees it the other way. He says that outside shipping, distribution, and production vendors with cloud-based systems offer much better security and back-up than he himself can provide.

Others worry that supply chain automation — fueled by cloud-based systems — provides security risks. Gill, of eCommerce Direct, sees it the other way. He says that outside shipping, distribution and production vendors with cloud-based systems offer much better security and back-up than he himself can provide. 

Indeed, Lindquist, Gill, and Harrison all subscribe to the notion that the supply chain will become increasingly automated. Robotics, 3D printing, and cloud-based technologies will play a key role. "It's getting from an idea to a product sooner," say GoPro’s Harrison. "And not only that, it's going to be a bigger win for the customer."

To learn more, go back to the Unlocking Logistics Hub.

This post is sponsored by UPS. To read more from UPS, click here.

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10 Sep 16:50

Buyer Personas, Customer Segments, and Why You Need Both

by Greg Cawood

We’ve talked a number of times in this space about the value of buyer personas. Today we’re going to discuss a different concept: customer segmentation.

We’ll take a look at how customer segments differ from buyer personas, and why it’s important to involve both in your marketing strategy.

Customer Segments

Customer Segments

This is what it sounds like: Groups of different sets of customers or potential customers, separated by their needs and/or defining features. They’re broken down into groups based on things like age or location, or by things such as interests and lifestyle.

The idea here isn’t to get insights into one customer, but to understand groups of customers in the wider marketplace. They can help you identify the types of customers that are out there and what they might be interested in.

Buyer Personas

A buyer persona is a fictitious character created to give you a glimpse at your ideal customer. You create them by interviewing your actual customers. A good inbound marketing strategy requires you to fashion at least two buyer personas, which means you should interview between six and 10 people.

Among the questions you want to ask in the interviews:

  • What does your company do or make?
  • What is your role at your job? What is your job title?
  • How do your supervisors measure your performance?
  • Who do you report to? Does anyone report to you?
  • What is a typical day like at work?
  • What skills did you need to develop to do your job?
  • What are you responsible for, and what does it mean to be successful in your role?
  • What are some of your biggest challenges at work?
  • What are some blogs or other publications you read to get information about your industry?
  • What professional associations do you belong to?
  • What social networks do you use?
  • Describe your career path. How did you get to where you are today?
  • Describe your personal background (marital status, family, etc).
  • Describe your educational background. What level of education did you complete, what subjects did you study, and where did you study them?
  • What’s your favorite way to interact with vendors (in person, via e-mail, over the phone)?
  • Do you use internet research to find out more about vendors or products? If you’ve said yes, how do you search for information?
  • Talk to us about a recent purchase you made. How did you decide to buy the product/service?

When you know your potential customers pain points and the places they get their information, you’ll have an easier time at creating content that speaks to them.

Buyer Personas

How To Use Segments And Personas

Segments and personas give businesses different types of information.

Personas give you a qualitative analysis of customer behavior. Customer segments give you a quantitative breakdown of the market. It tells you what people’s buying habits and attitudes are.

Your goal here is to find out what your customers want and need, how they differ from each other based on demographics, and how they decide to buy products or services.

For example, if you sell a product that appeals to parents, you’re dealing with a pretty broad range of people. Customer segmentation can help you divide that group into smaller, more manageable chunks: parents with one kid, parents with infants, parents with teenagers, middle class, upper class, etc.

Once you’ve broken down your customers and started to hone in on specific features, you can start building personas.

With personas, you’re blurring the line between fantasy and reality. They’re based on actual people from your target audience, but given new names and details. It’s sort of like when a movie based on real events creates a composite character modeled after a few real life people.

If you’re wondering how to tell what your customers need and want, contact IQnection. Our digital marketing team is skilled at identifying your ideal customers, and creating content that speaks to them.

Start Your Inbound Marketing Planning Session

10 Sep 16:49

This Running Coach’s Secret to Building an Engaged Community

by Monica Montesa

When Jill Angie, running coach and founder of Not Your Average Runner, first hit the pavement, her primary goal was to get fit.

As she struggled with maintaining her newfound hobby over the next couple of years, she had an epiphany that would forever change not only her perspective on running, but her career and life as well.

It was the moment when Jill realized running was more than a way to exercise. It was a way to boost her confidence, strength and happiness.

Flash-forward a few years (and a triathlon medal, personal training certificate and two books) later, Jill now uses Not Your Average Runner as a platform to encourage other women to start running – despite their hesitations and fears.

To get her message out there, Jill relies on a few essentials: her website, Facebook group and email marketing. And by using all three together, she’s been able to grow her community tenfold.

The moment email marketing “clicked”

While Jill initially dabbled in email marketing as a way to keep in touch with her personal training clients, she admits that she didn’t quite understand its full potential for her business.

It wasn’t until Jill wrote her first running book, Running with Curves, and offered a free downloadable training plan (which moved people onto her email list) that she realized the power of email marketing.

“The more I heard from people, the more it clicked to me that this is a way that I could grow my business way beyond what I could ever do with my personal training studio,” Jill says.

And it was history from there: She began to see the power of email marketing as it allowed her to connect with new audiences, filled with people all over the country.

Now, Jill uses email as a channel for encouraging her clients to pursue their running goals. And she shares a variety of content, including automated emails to prepare clients for their strategy sessions.

Jill also uses email to share stories of challenges she’s faced, and how she overcomes them.

“The content I send out that really resonates with people frequently tells a personal story of a challenge I’ve gone through, and how I solved it,” Jill says. “I think that’s because they look to me as the expert, and see the expert still struggles and goes through similar things, but has a way to get past it – that’s very empowering.”

With email, Jill discovered the possibilities of connecting with people (despite their geographical location). To nurture that community, she then decided to create a Facebook group.

The risk that was worth the reward: Facebook ads

For Jill, her Facebook group is an essential part of her business. The social platform allows her to not only connect with existing and potential clients, but also to learn more about her audience and their struggles and goals.

To drive traffic to her Facebook group, Jill takes two approaches.

Jill will regularly reach out to those who read her book and sign up for the free training plan. Once they subscribe to her AWeber email list, she sends them an invitation to join her Facebook group.

The second way she drives traffic is through Facebook ads.

While Jill was hesitant to get started with paid ads, there was no turning back once she realized the value of being able to access Facebook’s user database.

“Before I launched my first Facebook ad, I don’t think I understood how powerful it was going to be,” Jill says. “Even though it wasn’t that much money, I didn’t understand the power of accessing Facebook’s data for pennies. After that, it was a no-brainer and I started increasing my spend.”

After testing the waters with a couple of small investments, Jill felt confident enough to start increasing her spend. According to her, it simply made sense. “My investment is maybe $15 a day, that brings me about 20 people a day. I’m getting quite a bit of revenue from a bit of investing.”

Another benefit of using Facebook ads was the access to its user database. “You can be so specific and target the exact person you want to work with. Gender, age, income level, education level; you can target all of this for a pretty small investment,” Jill says. “You can’t reach that type of potential client base in a magazine. Facebook will serve your ideal ad to the right kind of person.”

And since sending the right message to the right person at the right time is so important to every entrepreneur marketing their business, this information becomes priceless.

How Jill runs Facebook ads

Jill has different types of Facebook ads, which are used for different campaigns and target audiences.

In one ad, she promotes her free training plan (which is also found at the end of her book). Once a user clicks through the ad, they’ll end up on the landing page for the incentive (the training plan). The moment someone signs up for it, they get added to her AWeber list.

Jill also uses Facebook ads to drive traffic to a webpage where visitors can set up a running strategy session. To boost her success, she creates specific Facebook user segments to ensure she’s targeting individuals who are more likely to set up a session.

While these clients aren’t automatically added to Jill’s email list, they have the option to subscribe when they sign up for a consultation.

While those two types of ads are the backbone of her strategy, Jill will also boost high-performing blog posts to drive people back to her website. There, visitors will be presented with additional calls-to-action to sign up for her training plan.

Ready to try Facebook ads?

Jill’s approach to email marketing and Facebook ads is just one of the many ways you can use both to grow your audience.

If you’re thinking about trying Facebook advertising, now’s the time to do it. Even if you’re unsure about getting started, Jill advises that it’s worth giving it a try.

If you’re interested in getting started with Facebook ads, use this checklist to help you get started!

Are you already using Facebook ads to complement to your email marketing strategy? Tell us about it in the comments!

10 Sep 16:49

A Note to the Sales Manager: You Do Not Have Time Not to Coach

by Anthony Iannarino

Sales managers and leaders often cite a lack of time as the reason they don’t coach their salespeople. This is to misunderstand one of the primary benefits of coaching: an increase in available time.

Where Does the Time Go

If you have to spend time working your sales team’s deals, you are doing two jobs at the same time. You are both a sales manager and a sales rep. It is sometimes necessary for you to work high value, high visibility deals, but that shouldn’t be your primary role (in many businesses, anyway). Closing deals for your salespeople takes time.

If every problem and challenge requires your immediate attention, you are living in reactive mode. The big dream client one of your salespeople is pursuing hasn’t returned your contract yet because it’s still in legal. Another prospective client wants change to the solution your salesperson proposed, and they’re not sure what to do.

All these things are important, and they all take time. In fact, the better your salespeople do creating opportunities, the busier you are helping them with their challenges.

Internal meetings steal time, mostly without generating any real benefit. Email is also a massive time suck, especially the notes that you are copied on due to a lack of psychological safety inside the organization. The list of things that could dominate your time is interminable.

How to Get Your Time Back

Coaching doesn’t take time; it makes time.

The better and more frequently you coach the individuals on your team, the more they grow and develop. At some point, they will tell you, “I don’t need you on this call. I’ve got this.” By closing deals for your salespeople, you are creating dependents. Because you believe you have to close their deals, they’re likely to believe it, too.

When you coach people, they grow and develop. When they grow and develop, they become more and more independent. When they become independent, they don’t need nearly as much of your time.

There aren’t more than a few choices of what to do when a contract is stuck in legal. A few questions about the context of the situation and you can easily make a decision as to what to try first and what might be a backup plan. Coaching this scenario prevents you from having to repeat this exercise over and over again. This principle applies to most of the challenges you solve on a day-to-day basis.

Coaching requires that your salespeople exercise their resourcefulness and initiative to solve their own problems. The more they can work through their challenges on their own, the more time is returned to you.

If You Don’t Have Time to Coach

Many of the interactions you have with the people you lead is an opportunity to coach. The more you coach, the more time you will have.

If you believe you don’t have time to coach, you don’t have time not to coach.

The post A Note to the Sales Manager: You Do Not Have Time Not to Coach appeared first on The Sales Blog.

10 Sep 16:49

8 Ways to Pay Attention to Customers

by Richard Shapiro

People like to feel and be in control. That thought is not necessarily articulated but when a customer is not in control, he or she is not happy. How can your associates create happy customers? Give the customer your full and complete attention. It’s not sufficient that your associates think they are giving their full attention; the customer needs to feel it.

Here are eight suggestions to give customers your full attention:

  1. Determine the customer’s emotional state: Whenever a customer calls, emails or visits a physical place of business, he or she is in a particular emotional state. The customers could be happy, frustrated, disappointed, concerned or elated. It’s critically important that associates not only listen to what the customer or potential customer is saying but to the underlying emotion as well.
  1. Active listening: After an associate listens to a customer and can determine the underlying emotion, reiterating that emotion helps to build trust. When an associate says, “I hear you are frustrated, but I can help you,” the customer knows he or she is communicating with another person who is willing to help. That help can be an answer to a question, resolve a problem, get advice, etc. Active listening is the first step to create a human connection.
  1. Uncover the story: Every purchase has a story. No one walks into a mall, picks up a phone or emails a customer service department in a vacuum. It’s almost like a treasure hunt with a prize at the end. Is the customer going on a trip, seeking that perfect valentine’s gift, or a watch for their son who just graduated college with honors? Finding out why a person is purchasing an item shows the customer you care.
  1. Don’t make customers wait: When customers are forced to listen to an IVR, stand on long lines for check-out or wait for an associate to help them in person, the communication is multifold: the customers’ time is not important, the company doesn’t know how to properly staff or customers are considered widgets with no feelings.
  1. Listen patiently: There are many famous quotes from equally famous people about listening. “Many a man would rather you heard his story, than grant his request.” (Phillip Stanhope); “One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” (Bryant H. McGill); “When you listen, it’s amazing what you can learn. When you act on what you’ve learned, it’s amazing what you can change.” Audrey McLaughlin
  1. Focus on the customer’s needs: Every business syllabus in college or grad school contains a course on sales education instructing students to find out the customer’s needs first. Long lists of services and/or products are not helpful. Every customer is a person with personal and unique needs. Discovering and uncovering those needs is a critical step in the sales cycle.
  1. Communicate through preferred channels: Following-up with customers through the customer’s optimum channel of text, phone or email demonstrates that the associate paid attention, documented the request and wants to build upon the initial relationship.
  1. Obtain customer feedback: Most customer feedback systems fail to uncover true customer feelings. Feedback, if utilized properly, can dramatically help any company prosper. Customers who know that their feedback is considered valuable are more apt to provide detailed responses, comments and suggestions. Without the detail information, changes cannot be made in order to expand and generate repeat business.

We have moved from the Information Age to the Attention Age. With the enormous volume of information available to anyone at anytime, companies that educate their associates about the value of paying attention to what customers are saying and understanding the underlying emotion will reap great benefits. The options of where, when and how to shop are boundless. To keep your customers coming back, paying attention is a most valuable asset. Listen to your customers and hear what they are saying and feeling.

What suggestions do you have for showing customers you are paying attention?

10 Sep 16:48

3 Traits of Effective Lead Generation for B2B Technology Providers

by Will Humphries

Lead generation strategies span the full spectrum of B2B. However, some sectors tend to work well or achieve stronger results than others.

Technology providers, for instance, can achieve powerful results with certain prospecting methods. The following are several traits of effective lead generation if you are in the B2B tech space.

Detailed Personas and Journey Alignment

The development of buyer personas and alignment of sales and marketing with the buyer journey are useful in all B2B sectors. However, these traits are especially integral in effective tech lead generation.

Technology leaders need a solid understanding of the investigative journey industry buyers choose when arriving at a purchase decision. Through data acquisition and analytics, it is possible to build a detailed profile of your typical buyers for a given solution.

The deeper your understanding of the characteristics and behaviours of buyers, the greater your ability to market toward resolving their problems with your own solutions.

The journey for B2B tech buyers is usually longer and more deliberate than the journey in other sectors. The process begins with online information-gathering.

Your content marketing and social selling strategies need to succeed at getting your brand in front of prospects at this initial phase. As buyers move further along, they begin evaluating specific solutions, which should take them to your website and product landing pages.

Eventually, they want to see information and evidence that a solution most effectively resolves the central problem.

Intelligent Content

Intelligent content includes content marketing formats that educate and demonstrate thought leadership, and they typically go into more depth than a conventional blog post. Whitepapers are a common form of educational content, but long-form case studies fit this definition as well.

Whitepapers include deep explanations of common problems people face and the capabilities of certain innovations in resolving them. This format is well-suited for B2B tech lead generation because technological innovations inherently require successful providers to establish awareness and credibility.

Projecting authority and a lack of bias are keys to attracting attention with this content marketing strategy.

Live Events

Even though digital and content marketing strategies are often necessary to connect with B2B buyers, live events remain a powerful lead generation technique. In particular, tech providers achieve excellent results with seminars and webinars.

Seminars are face-to-face gatherings where you can educate prospects on the capabilities of your solutions, and demonstrate performance. For companies that want to reach a broader geographical audience, webinars offer expanded reach.

With a webinar, you can share information and demonstrate your products for people watching on their computers or mobile devices.

Lead generation
Wrap Up

Buyers of B2B tech solutions engage in a more sophisticated process than buyers in other B2B sectors. In order to have an effective lead generation campaign, your strategies need to align with the buyer journey and include intelligent content and live events.

People like to learn, so educate your prospects on resolutions, and then demonstrate the capabilities of your tech solutions.

If you would like to learn more about why Internal Results are the No.1 provider of lead generation services to the technology sector, contact us today to speak to one of our consultants.

10 Sep 16:48

Gain vs. Pain – How to Help Solve Problems for Your Prospects

by Gretchen Gordon

I read a statistic from Impact Communications that states that 70% of people make purchasing decisions to solve problems and only 30% make decisions to gain something. Which most everyone probably instinctively knows. That is why there have been popular training methods focused on finding a buyers pain points. We have taught for years that there are really only three reasons why buyers make decisions: pain, fear or gain. But that pain is generally the most compelling. Now I have the statistic that backs that up. Why then do so many salespeople focus on the gain aspect of the equation?

Time and again, I hear salespeople talk with buyers about what the buyer will achieve by buying their product or service. Or, they go into detail about how much better off the buyer or the buyer’s company will be. Their value proposition is something like “we help you do something better” or “your life will be so much better because of us”, or “your company will improve efficiency”. It’s crap and salespeople are missing the point. Sure 30% of decisions are made to gain something but the vast majority – 70% need to solve problems. If your salespeople aren’t focusing on solving problems, more likely than not, they aren’t hitting home with 70% of buyers. As their manager, you can help. Here’s how:

Thought Proving Questions4 Steps to Figure Out How to Solve Problems for Your Prospects

  1. List all the benefits that your product or service provides
  2. List what those benefits actually mean to your clients – what does that really do for them or why do they care (not just some nice marketing tagline)?
  3. List the opposite of that. In other words, what living hell will your clients endure if they don’t have your product or service? Think in terms of what pain, frustration, hassle, disappointment, hardship your product or services take away.
  4. Create thought-provoking questions that will cause your prospects to think about the problem, the negatives that exists, the frustration they feel, the pain they endure by not having this situation solved.

Here is an example:


Why Client Cares

Opposite of Us

Problem Question

We have excellent on-time delivery statistics. They can keep on track with production and hit delivery dates. They miss delivery dates, they have to stop production which has a massive negative impact on cost, this guy catches the heat, doesn’t get the promotion he wanted. Have you ever missed delivery dates because of parts you were waiting on? Our parts are more durable than the competition. They save money over the long haul in both part replacement and in saved downtime. Profitability goes down, this guy gets fired, he gets divorced, becomes homeless. How does that impact your ability to ship your goods? We provide training of your personnel to make sure hey assemble it correctly. They have better uptime and fewer injuries. Injuries all over the place, downtime, lost profitability, this guy gets fired, he gets divorced, becomes homeless. They don’t hold you responsible do they? Is it keeping you up at night?

I know this might sound uncomfortable to ask buyers about their mental state and how they are actually feeling about the potential negatives associated with not buying your products and services, but trust me, it is a game changer. Get a buyer to share how they really feel, not just provide you some song and dance about the company and the relationship is forged. Now, remember that it is all in the delivery. One must first connect with the buyer to stand a chance of breaking down the barriers. Read this recent article Let the Client Drop the First F***bomb here to learn how to connect.

Download a template to use with your team to help them create problem questions and have a chance of solving buyers’ problems.

10 Sep 16:47

How to Use Customer Testimonials in Your Email Marketing

by Kristen Dunleavy

Customer testimonials are one of the most powerful tools that email marketers have in their conversion arsenal. Why? Because they work. And they work because they function as social proof – an extremely powerful motivator of consumer action.

According to Syed Balkhi, the co-founder of OptinMonster, social proof is “a psychological phenomenon where people conform to the actions of others under the assumption that those actions are reflective of the correct behavior.”

“There’s no denying the power of social proof,” Balkhi writes. “Consumers want proof from their peers – not the brands selling the products.” He cites several studies to back up that statement, including one by Nielsen indicating that 92% of people will trust a recommendation from a peer, and 70% of people will trust a recommendation from someone they don’t even know.

That’s why customer testimonials are “one of the most powerful trust signals you can use on your website and in your marketing campaigns,” writes WordStream’s Dan Shewan. “Persuasive testimonials from satisfied customers can sway even the most hesitant prospect.”

So, now that we’ve established why customer testimonials can be so effective, let’s take a look at some specific things they can help you accomplish, the ingredients that comprise powerful, conversion-driving testimonials and how to obtain useful feedback from your most satisfied customers that you can craft into powerful testimonials.

What can testimonials do for you?

On a macro level, it’s easy to describe why you want to use compelling testimonials: to help you market your product or service. But if you slice things a little finer, as copywriter Joel Klettke has done on the iAcquire blog, you’ll find that testimonials can help your marketing in several specific ways.

Klettke has identified seven things that testimonials can help you accomplish, which are:

  • Identify your market/Help customers self-identify
    Testimonials can “show your customers that people just like them are finding answers to the problems they share.”
  • Highlight a key benefit
    “Testimonials can be used to support and elaborate on the real value of the benefits you’re trying to sell a customer on.”
  • Overcome objections
    “Testimonials…can reassure a lead that they’ll get the outcome they’re looking for and persuade them that their objection is unfounded.”
  • Create social pressure/introduce anxiety
    “Social pressure (‘All the cool kids are doing it!’) creates a desire to emulate the actions and outcomes of those we respect and would like to relate to.”
  • Tell your brand story
    “Customer stories substantiate your claims; they give your story life.”
  • Add a human element
    “Seeing photos and hearing stories from satisfied customers adds an emotional, human appeal.”
  • Compare and contrast with competitors
    “Testimonials are a chance for people who have ‘tried it all’ to discredit your competition while pumping your tires.”
  • Up your credibility
    “Testimonials are success stories that others will aspire to, confirmations that both what you’re doing and how you do it are worth investing in.”

Simply put, testimonials help drive desired customer behavior – and results – because they say the things you cannot necessarily say for yourself. As Chris Garrett puts it at Copyblogger: “It’s hard to sing your own praises, and it rarely works when you do. In a testimonial, you have a third party saying what you might not be able to.”

Beyond fluff – the elements of a powerful testimonial

And powerful testimonials not only help tell your brand’s story, but they also serve to tell the story of the customer who’s sharing them, writes Alex Turnbull, the CEO and founder of Groove, a helpdesk software company. “This helps readers put themselves in the storyteller’s shoes.”

“At Groove, we’ve found that good testimonials increase conversions by up to 15% on our homepage, guest post landing pages and email marketing,“ Turnbull writes.

Turnbull asks the question “What’s a good testimonial?” and answers with: “Hint: it’s not a fluffy, gushing ‘Groove is amazing and changed my life’ statement. It’s much more nuanced than that…we’ve found is that the best-testing testimonials are specific about who the testimonial writer is, and what problem Groove solved for them. Good testimonials communicate very specifically the type of person the testimonial writer is and the type of problem they’ve been able to overcome.”

His thinking echoes that of Joel Klettke, who says the common elements of all compelling testimonials include:

  • Specificity
    The testimonial talks about specific problems, solutions, features, benefits and outcomes.
  • Authenticity
    The testimonial uses natural language and the customer’s voice, not yours.
  • “Before/during/after” format
    The testimonial explains what the customer experienced before, during and after they bought your product.

Klettke emphasizes that it is important that the reader be able to validate that the author of the testimonial is a real person. “Photos, names, locations, business names, social handles and website links are all elements that can help establish the credibility of the testimonial.”

Ask questions that solicit compelling testimonials

“Testimonials are so powerful because they’re delivered from a third-party perspective rather than the point of view of the seller,” writes Sean D’Souza at Copyblogger. “When a customer produces a testimonial that is rich in detail and emotion, the testimonial becomes complex but also believable. And that’s the main job of the testimonial.”

And while testimonials are likely to come your way unsolicited via email, comments on your website, via social media or through your conversations with customers, they are unlikely to be “rich in detail and emotion” unless you give the customer some guidance to help craft them, which D’Souza suggests doing by using the following questions when you ask for their feedback:

  • What was the obstacle that would have prevented you from buying this product?
    “There’s always an obstacle, and it’s often something you may not have thought of. So when the customer brings up this obstacle, it presents an angle that’s unique, personal, and dramatic.”
  • What did you find as a result of buying this product?
    “The answer to this question will illustrate how the customer defused the obstacle identified in the first question.”
  • What specific feature did you like most about this product?
    “If you ask the customer to focus on the entire product, his response may be vague. That’s why you want to focus on a single feature or benefit that the customer liked most. This method brings out that one feature in explicit richness and detail.”
  • What are three other benefits of this product?
    “Since you already got information about one important feature, you can now go a little wider and see what else the customer found useful.”
  • Would you recommend this product? If so, why?
    “Unless the customer feels strongly about the product, she won’t be keen to recommend it. And when she does recommend it, she communicates to prospective buyers: ‘Hey, I recommend it, and here are the reasons why!’”
  • Is there anything you’d like to add?
    “At this point, the customer has often said everything she has to say. But there’s never any harm in asking this question. The questions before this one tend to “warm up” the customer, and sometimes you get the most amazing parting statements that you never could have imagined.”

Once you have the feedback in the customer’s own words, it’s time for you to craft it into a compelling testimonial. When you are doing that, it’s important that you do not “spin” the response in any way.

“As much as you can, leave things in their natural language; slang, turns of phrase and all. You are simply combining all of their feedback into a flowing commentary that makes sense from start to finish and reads like a cohesive statement instead of the answers to separate questions,” Klettke writes.

The final step is obtaining permission to use the testimonial the way you have edited it. “When you’re finished, show the customer for final approval of use. Be sure to also ask for a photo, social media handle and website link,” he advises.

The bottom line

Customer testimonials are proven winners. To make sure you successfully harness their enormous potential in your email marketing campaigns, be sure you ask your customers the right questions, thoughtfully craft their feedback into compelling examples of your product or service’s benefits, and make it clear that the testimonials you feature reflect real people telling real stories.

10 Sep 16:46

Three “Lies” That Plague B2B Businesses Today (Part One of Three)

by (Dan McDade)
Don't let your B2B Sales of B2B Marketing suffer from these lies!
  1. Cold calling is dead.
  2. 57 – 90% of the buying process is complete before a sales rep needs to get involved.
  3. Marketing and sales are aligned 

Do you agree these are lies?

In late August I asked industry experts that same question and asked them to substantiate their answers. The team of experts includes:

Ardath Albee, Marketing Interactions, CEO and Business Strategist

Dave Brock, Partners in EXCELLENCE, President

Deb Calvert, People First Productivity Solutions, President

Ginger Conlon,, Chief Editor of

Matt Heinz, Heinz Marketing, President

Dave Kurlan, Kurlan & Associates, Inc., CEO

Dave Stein, Dave Stein, Inc., Principal

Ruth Stevens, eMarketing Strategy, President

Mike Weinberg, The New Sales Coach, Principal


This week we will cover the group’s response to the first lie: Cold Callings is Dead.

I will start out with firebrand Mike Weinberg’s comments: “I’m tired of lies and the charlatans misleading salespeople by preaching deadly advice that reactive salespeople love to hear! If cold calling and proactively targeting ideal profile prospects is truly dead, then why are my clients having so much success creating NEW opportunities and CLOSING new deals from their personal prospecting efforts? Here’s a true story I just shared with my audience a couple months ago.”


Next up, Dave Brock: “Well first, we have to agree on what a cold call is. If it’s an unprepared, random call, to pitch your products to anyone who is foolish enough to pick up a phone—it’s not dead, at least based on the phone calls I get. But it should have been KILLED decades/centuries ago. If cold calling is a call to someone you have never met before, interrupting their day, BUT if it is well researched, it is to a customer well within your sweet spot, and it is focused on providing insight the customer would welcome but may not be aware of, then this is what top performers are doing every day. And we would argue this be extended and pursued vigorously, both because it creates real value for the customer and it enables us to grow and serve customers more aggressively.” Read more here: Is Cold Calling Dead?


Here is what Ardath Albee has to say: “I’d argue that cold calling is dead so #1 is true.

"The ability to get quick access to information means that it’s possible – more than ever before – to find out information about buyers that eliminates the “cold” from the call. Even if you’ve never spoken to the buyer before, you can be relevant. And, if you’re not, then you won’t get the conversation. I experience this every day. Emails sent to me oblivious that I’m not a prospect. If they’d taken 5 minutes to Google me, they’d know this. Every bad, ill-targeted attempt to contact me tarnishes that brand in my mind. So I think this is something that salespeople need to get over.”


From Dave Stein: “It sure isn’t dead! I will admit that there are now other channels to get to customers, the most notable being any number of well-constructed, funded, staffed, and executed social programs. But I have clients who still cold-call and they are reasonably successful at it.”


Matt Heinz: “Cold calling has ALWAYS been dead. Calling with zero value doesn’t work, wasting your prospect’s time has always been a terrible idea. If you have something that makes your prospect smarter, helps them be better, it may be unexpected but they’ll appreciate how you’ve differentiated and been focused on value creation.” For more on Matt’s take, read this:


Short and sweet from Ruth Stevens: “My clients, despite the presence of extensive lead gen support, still rely on cold calling to get access to the accounts they target. “Cold calling is dead” is as big a lie as “outbound marketing is dead.” B2B marketers ignore it at their peril.” 


A bit of a twist from Dave Kurlan: “Traditional cold calling has changed but few new meetings get booked without a salesperson dialing the phone. While it is true that there are a tremendous number of inbound leads coming in, fewer than 10% of them can be considered “leads” while the rest fall more into the “names/contacts who we can send emails to” category. So with 10% as the operative number, salespeople must get on the phone and make the calls and use the inbound leads to supplement their efforts. There are two other factors here. The first is the proliferation of inside sales reps whose job it is to make these calls – taking that responsibility away from account executives. For those AEs, cold calling is dead!  The second is the abundance of firms that make outsourced calls to schedule meetings for salespeople. Here too, cold calling for those fortunate salespeople is dead.” 

Want to read more from Dave about a revolutionary tool for salespeople? Click here.


Finally, Ginger Conlon has this to say on the topic: “Having been on the receiving end of several cold calls over the past year, I can tell you firsthand that cold calling is alive and well. Some companies seem use it for pre-sales, aiming to unearth the correct contact or level of interest; others go for the sale in the moment. I've received cold calls from marketing tech companies, translation services firms, and event management companies, to name a few.”


My thoughts: I think people get hung up about the word “cold”. I have been in the outbound prospecting business for twenty-five years and never once have made a truly “cold” call. Maybe the market would respond better if we called it a “warm” call. Plus, there simply isn’t enough inbound revenue for most companies to make their number on inbound alone. Check out my Lead to Revenue Calculator to estimate how much of your future revenue needs to come from existing business, inbound, nurturing and outbound.

Look for Part Two of this series – What percentage of the buying process is complete before sales needs to get involved?

10 Sep 16:46

5 Ways to Make Your Social Media Marketing Rock

by Lisa Marcyes

Have you ever looked around during a rock concert? It may have seemed like utter madness. You’ve got roadies in the back setting up, technicians working on the sound systems, the stars on stage putting on a performance, and people in the crowd from all walks of life.

Navigating the social media landscape can sometimes feel like a rock concert as well, with 1.71 billion monthly active users on Facebook, 313M active monthly users on Twitter, and over 450 million registered users on LinkedIn—all with different demographics and preferences.

So how do you become a social media rockstar to engage and delight your different target audiences? Here are five ways to make your social media marketing rock:

1. Understand Your Audience

Before you jump into the tactical details and start rocking out your social media plan, you need to take the time to understand your audience.

Rock concert attendees come from different backgrounds, but they all have one thing in common: they’re there to watch the rockstar perform. That rockstar needs to know how to appeal to all these different demographics and personalities. The same concept applies in social media. Users from different social platforms are diverse, but they’re all on there to interact and engage with their network and brands. As a social media marketer, it’s your job to find the harmony that draws in these users, which consist of your target audience, to keep them coming back for more.

To understand who they are and what they care about, develop audience personas by answering questions like these:

  • What is their background? For B2B marketers, where do they work and what are their responsibilities?
  • What are their goals and how can your products or services help them achieve their goals? What are their challenges and pain points? This is a great place to start-looking at how your solution can alleviate their pain points…exploring how YOU can help THEM.
  • Where are they consuming content? What social platforms are they on?
  • What kind of content do they interact with? Do they have an interest in a particular solution or product? Does a particular type of messaging will speak to them directly? And more broadly, what other topics are they interested in?

Developing audience personas requires an initial investment, but it pays off throughout the customer lifecycle—not only for building brand awareness, but engaging buyers, converting them, and then developing them into brand advocates.

2. Make Your Lyrics Memorable

Once you have a thorough understanding of who your audience is, you can start mapping out your social media marketing strategy by determining how you’ll engage your audience across the different social platforms.

To develop engaging campaigns for social, it’s critical to:

  • Set the tone, style, and delivery strategies for your content. Just like how some concertgoers might respond best to a light, soft jazz while others are looking to really rock out, your content needs to be tailored to your target audience’s preferences. Should it be conversational, prescriptive, or authoritative? What form should your content take: a text post, an image, or an asset?
  • Research what topics your buyers are most interested in and develop content around it. Rockstars need to determine whether they’re going to perform songs about heartbreak, medleys about a day in the life, or a little bit of both. They might factor in what their talents are and who they’re performing for. For social media, the topics you should be writing about will be determined by each persona’s interests and how you can appeal to them. And if you ever get stuck on wondering what your audience wants to see, just ask! You can always pose a question like, “What would you like us to cover or address?” within each platform.
  • Understand where buyers get their information and how they want to consume it. Social media platforms are plentiful, with new platforms emerging and existing platforms updating their features all the time. So, you need to understand how to reach your target audience and with what type of content. For example, on Snapchat, your audience may be looking for light, fun conversational content, whereas on Linkedin, your audience may be looking for more substantial reading. Does your audience like behind-the scenes videos or Q&A? Do they spend their time streaming on Spotify, or are they searching for videos on YouTube or with Twitter’s new #nowplaying hashtag? The key is to be consistent. When you’re consistently showing up in someone’s feed, you’re more likely to influence their next plan or purchase. In fact, did you know that 60% of Twitter followers purchase from a business and 86% say they plan to purchase in the future because of something they saw on Twitter, according to a Twitter report? That’s a pretty staggering number.

3. Set the Beat

You can be all hard rock (hard-selling) and pound customers with sales pitches, or you can present a variety of options to set a steady beat and show them the heart of your music. Building a relationship with your audience is really what social media is all about.

What are some of the different types of messages that you can deliver over social media? At Marketo, we not only aim to create valuable content for our customers, but we focus on educating first, and selling second. Because of this philosophy, we follow a 4-1-1 rule, originally introduced by Joe Pulizzi of Content Marketing Institute. For every four educational or entertaining assets (think infographic, blog, or industry news article) we share, we then offer one soft/mid-level promotion (a more solution-focused asset) and one hard/late-stage promotion like a demo.

This steady mix allows us to engage with our audience to build awareness, credibility, and trust. Posts that keep a pulse on industry trends and offer updated, relevant content, give your followers value, so they are more welcoming to the later stage messaging that speaks to your products or services.

4. Create a Brand Voice

This is the fun part. Just like every rockstar has their unique sound, your brand should have a voice that embodies its values.

For both B2B and consumer marketers, social media has become a go-to channel for brand development and audience engagement. It’s an easy way to stay in touch with your buyers, creatively market your products or services, and most importantly reinforce your brand voice.

The songbook is blank, ready for you to create a masterpiece, so here are a few key ways you can utilize social to create a rockin’ brand voice:

  • Get to know your company values and incorporate your culture into your tone and language. Think about who your company is and how you want to be perceived, then go out and have fun with it!
  • Personalize—put the ‘social’ in social media. It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. Don’t just speak at your audience—have 2-way conversations with your followers. When they tag you, reply and let them know you’re really listening and appreciate their interaction. Express personality in your responses to set yourself apart from other brands. Be real.
  • Create a community. Talking about nothing but your brand is boring. Listen to your audience so you can understand just what it is they’re looking for from you, then give it to them. Learn to speak their language and go where they are.

5. Listen

Rockstars listen for cues from their audience to see whether their material is resonating with their audience, and social media marketing is no different. Like all good communication, it’s a two-way street. Conversations about your brand can take place almost anywhere, so it’s important not to make assumptions about where you will find critical conversations taking place. Listen as broadly across different platforms to for conversations around your brand, your competitors, and your industry.

Here are a few other ways you can use social listening to your benefit:

  • Use social media as a customer service tool that adds transparency and provides real-time responses to your customers. Questions on social platforms are often answered for all to see, leaving little room for brands to shrug off or ignore requests. So don’t sweep them under the rug—responding to complaints is a phenomenal way to turn a negative into a positive.
  • Inform hundreds and thousands of followers with just one post! On social media, you can often see if repeat questions are being asked. Cut down on emails, calls, and chats, and address them in a post. We’ve found this to be especially useful during service outages, product releases, and events.
  • Concentrate on engaging with your customers. Continue to show your customers love after they’ve purchased from you. Increased engagement often leads to increased customer retention. The more you can get your followers to chime in or click through, the more likely they are to return and continue engaging with you.
  • Listen for product feedback. User conversations can be eye opening. Listen to what people are saying and figure out a way to incorporate feedback into your business/product roadmap. Customers often willingly provide insights into ways you can improve your products.

Social media can feel like a rock concert sometimes, with all the different noises and personalities clashing together. However, with the right strategy, you can hone in on who your audience is and how you can appeal to them to create an epic experience.

Are you ready to amp up your social campaigns? Creating a strategy is just the start. To learn how you can measure and optimize your campaigns to maximize ROI, download our Definitive Guide to Social Media Marketing.

09 Sep 14:49

3 Steps to Successfully Outsource Your Inside Sales

by Ray Kemper

While outsourcing strategies have transformed the B2B landscape over the last decade, one of the most hotly debated areas has been inside sales and marketing. Many leaders considered them strictly internal functions, too central to trust to outside hands. Yet these days more and more companies are handing over functions like marketing automation, lead generation, telemarketing and inside sales to expert external partners.

If you’re new to outsourcing you might assume the most obvious benefit is simply lifting a burden off your team. That the new partner can take care of time-consuming responsibilities while your team focuses on its core mission. But Inside Salesoutsourcing is also an opportunity to acquire expertise you don’t have. Maybe it’s taking advantage of a call mastery program or deep insights about your company’s buying personas.

The partner can also bring fresh eyes to your business – and compare that new perspective with verified industry benchmarks. There’s no need to hire new full-time staff to get the right talent bench or retrain your existing team on a long learning curve. You can leapfrog over delays and tap advanced expertise on day one. What does that lead to? More revenue from experts that specialize in inside sales excellence and a bench for minimizing downtime.

Just one caveat: outsourcing isn’t something to plunge into. Your partner will act as an extension of your brand, with your image and messaging in their hands, which means you want to pick very capable hands. The other team might also have different processes and approaches in a few areas. To ensure your partner fits productively into your existing dynamic, you’ll need to work through three phases: understanding if outsourcing is right for you, picking valuable and compatible partners, and then making the partnership work.

Diagnosing Your Needs

To understand if an outsourced inside sales partner makes the most sense for you, see if any of the following traits fit your business:

  • You’d like to rapidly increase sales to boost, meet seasonal demands or accompany growth but don’t have the bandwidth, right in-house technology or other resources.
  • Your growth involves handling new geographic regions outside your wheelhouse – and you need experienced sales and marketing pros who understand those areas.
  • You’d like to focus your resources on organizational goals beyond sales and marketing.

Or maybe you’re grappling with this ongoing challenge: a high turnover rate in your inside sales department. If you’re spending significant sums on constant recruitment and training, and continually sacrificing lost relationships and sales, outsourcing could solve that challenge.

Picking the right partner

Your partner will act as your ambassador, conveying your image and commitment to your customers. Ideally, your prospects and customer interactions should be seamless and represented as one team. To attain that seamless feel, a thorough selection process is critical. Also, remember that your partner will influence your internal team as well. Any cultural disconnect will be felt on every level, creating a fissure that could derail momentum.

To assess whether a prospective partner’s culture is compatible with your own, evaluate them on these measures:

  • Experience. Have they handled clients in your industry, or helped businesses with similar objectives? Will the learning curve be minimal?
  • Skill. Do they have the talent bench you don’t? Can they supplement the right skill set so your people can focus on their own directives?
  • Audience. Do they understand your target audience – how to sell to your buying personas?
  • Reporting process. Is there a feedback loop and how does it work? What metrics will measure success? What specific data will you get?
  • Cost and Value. Don’t just factor in their fees; consider the overall value of the above areas. Make sure you anticipate the resources needed to make the partnership work and have an understanding of the ROI goals needed to justify the outsourcing model.

Turning Synergy into Success

One of the most common – and poisonous – partnership mistakes is the attempt to micromanage activities. Successful partnerships are built on trust. If you’ve done your research and concluded that this is the best partner for your goals, at some point you’ll need to hand over the keys and watch your partner drive off.

Candid communication is key here, both internally and with your partner. Map out expectations and agree on your definition of success. Both teams are going to be playing off each other’s strengths – and fostering open, frequent dialogues will help everyone feel more connected.

That transparency will also help you earn the necessary buy-in. Schedule quarterly business reviews with stakeholders to share partnership progress details. Give your existing sales team the information they need to feel comfortable and confident about the “new guys.” Let them know this new relationship will benefit them so they’re motivated to collaborate with the other team instead of competing with them. Any sense of secrecy, internally or externally, can lead to a fractured program so outline responsibilities and share successes and setbacks. Create an environment where you are both learning and pushing for the best results. Foster a safe environment to get better together on the campaign results. True success comes from true partnership vs. a ‘just another vendor’ and adversarial approach. By keeping everyone clear on where they fit into the partnership, you’ll build a united team that shares wins, doesn’t hide defeats and builds on lessons learned to reach great results.

The Evolving Partnership

Even great relationships change over time. As the partnership continues, evaluate its success from a variety of angles. Do the metrics match expectations?

Remember to set realistic expectations. For example: Tracking closed/won deals in a six month trial when you already know your typical sales cycle is eight months, sets you up for failure. Focus on the pipeline vs. the closed/won in this case. What ROI are you seeing – does it justify the relationship from an investment perspective? How long is it taking potential sales to hit the pipeline? Is your partner offering up actionable data and providing quality qualitative insight?

Regular check-ins will provide you with this intelligence, as well as opportunities for modification. You may decide to pull some areas back in-house or hand over even more responsibilities. Two years down the road, your partnership may look very different from what you intended. That’s a good thing – it means the program is growing with your needs. Keep talking, testing and measuring and you’ll create the map to long-term success with an outsourced sales model.

09 Sep 14:49

Supporting Sales: A Critical (Though Dreaded) IT Role

by Danny Wong

As an IT professional, it’s easy to go to a place of resentment when you consider your role in sales. You do the footwork and they get the glory… and commission. However, the role of the IT department in sales is not only irreplaceable but significantly valuable to the company as a whole. Your colleagues’ salaries depend on it.

When IT and sales work harmoniously together, the company achieves unprecedented success. What can you do as an IT professional to add value to the sales team and strategy? Try these key efforts:

1. Keep the lines of communication open.

Pitch yourself as a partner in sales. Schedule biweekly or monthly meetings with your sales department to learn more about their strategies, their successes, their challenges, and their needs. Plan to spend your time listening and absorbing rather than presenting immediate solutions or leading the discussion. The more you know about how they think and work, the more creative and relevant your solutions will be.

2. Subscribe to newsletters designed for those in sales.

The information provided in email newsletters for salespeople can keep you up to date on trends in the industry and new technologies designed to streamline their efforts. It can also prepare you to “speak their language” which can increase your influence among the team.

3. Use analytics to your advantage.

Adult learners are most interested in answering the questions, “Why is this valuable?” and “How will this benefit me?” Any time you pitch a new solution to the sales department, incorporate information about its value to the company as a whole as well as its potential benefit for the employees involved. The best way to communicate is through analytics; perhaps a neighboring company saw a 20% increase in sales after implementation – share that!

4. Provide updates to executive management.

Communicate the role your department has played in implementing new solutions in sales and provide hard facts on the influence those solutions have had on revenue and bottom line. One of the most effective and influential ways to communicate the technology department’s role is through a non-emotional, statistic-laden quarterly report.

5. Listen.

All employees – sales and otherwise – want to be heard. The sales department will gain respect for you as they begin to see that you are looking out for their bottom line more than your own, and as they gain respect a partnership and camaraderie develops.

6. Close the loop.

Once technologies have been implemented to maximize efficiency and results in the sales space, make an effort to close the circle by providing friendly and timely tech support, evaluating the success of the initiative, asking for feedback from those using the program, and being open and responsive to criticism.

7. Make decisions together.

Adults are more likely to buy into new programs and the learning curve that accompanies them when they were an active part of the selection, planning, and implementation. You can involve the sales staff by demonstrating multiple solutions, providing your input, and welcoming theirs to make a decision that the whole group can support. Once a decision has been made, brainstorm as a group – IT and sales combined – how to best communicate, train, and implement the new program as well as how to measure the success down the road.

8. Establish sales goals for the IT department.

When the IT staff are invested in company sales goals, they are more excited about, engaged in, and open to new developing new solutions that will actually be used to their full potential.

In order to make sales a more coveted aspect of the IT role, consider ways to make your role more visible throughout the organization.

Is there a company newsletter? Consider contributing updates from your department, statistics about your department’s role in recent company successes, and openness to new ideas or problems you may be able to address through technology.

No company newsletter? Consider drafting an internal IT newsletter, sharing industry news and statistics, new personal and business applications, and company and department updates in an exciting and engaging way. Consider highlighting an employee of the month in the IT department, celebrating a recent accomplishment that has streamlined a previously complex process or saved the company money through a great solution.

Finally, the attitude about sales comes from the top. Ensure the leadership in your department feels a sincere commitment to IT’s role in product or service sales and sells it to new hires.

The relationship between IT and sales doesn’t have to be strained; by collaborating to increase sales, salaries, and perks these departments can revolutionize the company culture and change the way work is done.

09 Sep 14:49

3 Keys To Amp Up Inside Sales

by Martín La Rocca

amp up

Businesses across the country are turning to an inside sales model in response to the changing nature of how customers buy today. With technology at their fingertips, customers can do the research and pinpoint their options quickly and effectively. They accept and, in some cases, expect to buy remotely.

According to a study conducted by Harvard Business Review with more than 100 vice presidents of sales at technology and business services companies, 46 percent of study respondents reported a shift from a field sales model to an inside sales model, while only 21 percent reported a shift from inside sales to field sales.

The reasons for this shift are compelling. Approximately 80 percent of the participants said it is easier to onboard new sales people and the model allows the company to scale faster. They said an inside sales team allows for increased call activity and selling volume.

If your company doesn’t have an inside sales team, you should look at its potential impact on your ability to grow business. If you already have an inside sales team, you need to assess its effectiveness and its results. If you want to amp up business, you need to amp up your inside sales team. Here are three ways to do just that.

1. Establish a Culture of Discipline

It’s not exactly boot camp time … wait, yes, it is boot camp time and make no apologies for that. Creating a firm process that allows for maximum optimization of time and resources will result in greater success for the sales team and for the company. Inside sales people need to stick to the process you establish. Incentivize adherence to process the same way you would incentivize goal achievement.

Is the sales rep making the required number of calls each day? Are the required number of new prospects going into the sales funnel and not leaking out? Is the sales rep making proper notations in your CRM? Is the turnover process to field reps in order? Are daily reports completed and filed on time? Is the rep attending and participating in morning huddle? Reward and recognize those achievements regularly.

Don’t be so rigid that you fail to listen to inside sales people if they find a piece of the process that is broken. They will help you fix it and be proud of their contribution to continuous improvement.

2. Establish a Culture of Continuous Learning

You have your super inside sales team in place. They’re adhering to your carefully thought out sales process. But, for some of them, something just isn’t clicking. They’re not achieving what they want to achieve. They’re growing disengaged and frustrated. You’ve invested time and money in onboarding these employees and now it looks like some of them may walk away. How do you prevent that from happening?

Give them the opportunity to learn. Offer regular training programs in the areas you see that are causing roadblocks for your team. Perhaps it’s weekly role-playing sessions with the entire team, so that reps are learning from each other and from you. Perhaps it’s one-on-one coaching from you or another sales manager, sitting beside the rep as she makes calls to help her determine where she’s stumbling. Maybe it’s bringing in external trainers who can work on everything from the basics of prospecting to the finesse of the trial close.

Whatever it is, give attention where it is needed and offer tools to help reps continuously learn. Improving skills will amp up results. And a visible commitment to your employee’s professional development will encourage her to try harder and to stick with you.

3. Establish a Culture of Innovation

You’re likely thinking, “I really don’t want my inside sales team to innovate. I want them to follow the process and sell, sell, sell.” But if you think it through, encouraging a culture of innovation at all levels demonstrates clear respect for your employees’ unique contributions to your company and your culture.

Innovation in inside sales can look like this:

  • Identifying the perfect phrasing for a call script that results in getting to the next step almost every time.
  • Finding a hitch in the process that every rep experiences and figuring out a way to smooth that hitch.
  • Discovering a new source of potential clients in a category no one had previously thought about or identified as hot.
  • Finding a more effective and faster way to mine data – from suggesting an improved email tracking system to finding a way to use marketplace knowledge to leverage sales.

There’s no reason inside sales people can’t be innovative in their area of expertise. You just have to channel that innovation to areas where the most benefit can occur.

The bottom line is pretty simple: Create a culture that encourages and engages inside sales people and they will respond by ensuring your company’s success. They’ll amp it up and you’ll see the positive trends in the financials.

09 Sep 14:48

6 Most Important and Untold Benefits of Repurposing Old Content

by Judy Caroll

It is no secret that in this business, information, tips, and tricks evolve and change, quite literally, faster than one can convert a quality lead into a sale. What may be a novel idea now will be reduced to an afterthought in a matter of months. That’s why every content marketer strives to make their blogs and articles not just relevant and useful and timely, but timeless as well. Yes. As if consistently creating great content isn’t challenging enough, you also have to make sure they’re timeless, or if they age, at least they do so gracefully.

But only wine and people age gracefully, and a great writer can only do so much when it comes to timelessness. As you publish more and more content, your audience will naturally prefer the newer, fresher blogs or slideshows to the older articles and podcasts, however timeless they may seem. So don’t feel bad when your most-shared vlog six months ago isn’t getting any double-takes nowadays – that’s just how things work.

Fortunately, there’s this thing called repurposing content. Frankly speaking, it’s glorified recycling of ideas, only this time you try to create content of a higher quality or value than the original. Or at least, make it sound fresh. So that most-shared vlog six months ago? It’s not stale. You can tweak, expand, cut, or even present it using a different perspective or add something new to it to make it a fresh piece of content altogether.

Here are the six most important benefits of repurposing old content:

Easier to create.

Repurposed content is easier and faster to create because there are already certain elements like images or quotes that need not be changed. When you tweak content, you can do so by just adding new information or presenting it in a new angle. You don’t have to overhaul the whole thing.

Good for SEO.

Yes, SEO isn’t just about numbers, but numbers play a huge part in SEO. That means when you repurpose content, you send out as many materials of various themes and forms to the world that would attract search traffic. By repurposing content you are making friends with Google because Google likes quality content.

“Most of our website visitors get dissatisfied whenever they landed on our old and low quality blogs. So we have backtracked all these content with high unique visits, repurposed them by adding latest and relevant information, add call-to-action and improve the user experience of each piece.” says one of the SEO Specialist

Thus, repurposing content is a blessing to your SEO efforts.

Maximizes multi-channel marketing.

By now, you already know the importance of multi-channel marketing in lead generation. But, surprise, surprise! Content marketing can be maximized to benefit multi-channel marketing as well, by expanding one idea into several varied content pieces. Have a blog post? Make an infographic out of it. Get the important parts, include some graphs, numbers, and images, and create a slideshow. Summarize that “How-To” article and turn it into a video, or just use the audio for a podcast.

Here’s one example we got:

Email Marketing Series: How to Make Emails Impossible to Ignore [VIDEO]

Email Marketing Series: How to Make Emails Impossible to Ignore [VIDEO]

Reach more prospects.

Let’s face it. People consume information in different ways. Most people are visual, others would rather read. Others have relatively short attention spans, while those who won’t admit to the attention span issue, say they’re more busy than others. Some prefer a long article, while there are those who just want to go over the whole thing, pause on the images and quotes and infographics. Content repurposing helps you reach more prospects and customers across different mediums.

Increases retention and brand credibility.

Repetition is a key tactic in marketing, but people get tire of hearing and seeing the same thing over and over again. To be effective, you want to deliver your message in different ways and sustain it for a considerable amount of time. Repurposing content allows you to this, which is one way to increase recall, authority, and credibility in the market.

Increases contents’ shelf-life and value.

Tens of thousands of content are being published every day and tens of thousands of content become stale because once the audience reads them, they’ve essentially gotten what they wanted from it. But through repurposing, the same audience may come across your content after it has been tweaked, or via a different medium, and for them, it’s a new experience altogether. Priceless!

Repurposing content is a great way to squeeze every juice out of your content marketing efforts, save time and money, and expand your reach, too. You just have to know how to do it and do it well. And that deserves an entirely different article.

This post originally appeared at The Savvy Marketer’s Blog

09 Sep 14:48

Why Every Inbound Sales Lead Needs Qualification

by Blanche Reese

When an inbound sales lead comes knocking on your door, they’re usually doing so because they have a pain point that they believe your product can fix. In this scenario, where the lead has come to you, you’d think it would be easy to simply ask for their contact information, a time they’re available to talk further, and then set up a meeting with an Account Executive. Afterall, it’s on the AE to take it from here, right?

The short answer is yes. But, contrary to popular belief, not every inbound sales lead is a good fit for your product. And in order to determine if they’re a good fit, it’s on you, my fellow Inbound SDRs, to qualify each and every inbound sales lead.

Why? Because avoiding this step could set both your sales team and your prospect up for failure through wasted appointment time, unsuccessful adoption processes, or, worst of all, quick churn rate for the organization.

Fortunately, there are simple steps to qualify your inbound sales lead. To start, every company should have a defined ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) that helps their SDRs determine whether or not a lead is a good fit for the product. Once that’s set and you have team-wide alignment, here are a few more steps to take to further qualify the lead:

Ask Good Questions

Rather than doing the easy thing (immediately passing the lead off to sales) you need to do the right thing: ask good discovery questions and learn as much about the inbound sales lead as possible to determine if they’re a qualified fit for the company’s ICP.

Consider this:

  1. Do they have decision making power?
  2. If there is a seat minimum, can they meet that?
  3. Does using your product require another product?
  4. What are their pain points that your product would help solve?

Don’t Fear the Phone

After speaking with a prospect, you should be able to answer each of the above questions with confidence. But the keyword here is “speaking.” Getting straight answers to these initial discovery of questions is much more successful over the phone than over easily-misconstrued emails.

Maybe the prospect is actually reaching out about a different product you offer. Maybe they’re not fully understanding your questions. Or maybe they’re just not answering your questions altogether.

Of course, these missing gaps in email conversation may be overcome by investigating other resources (like their company website, LinkedIn page, or social pages) and setting up an appointment over email can happen. But the problem with this uncertainty is that time is precious during this initial qualification period, and over the phone, you’re going to be able to better understand what led the inbound sales lead to reach out to you in the first place, and what their priorities are in a product.

Speak Up

After you’ve uncovered all of these important discovery questions, there’s a chance that the inbound sales lead is, afterall, unfit for your ICP and product. It’s important to take this time to speak up. If it’s not simply a good fit (or possibly, not a good fit yet), rather than wasting the prospect’s time, or even the AE’s time, you should explain to them why your product may not be right for them.

For those who aren’t a good fit yet, but may turn out to be the perfectly fit a few months down the road, it’s important to keep these same qualifying questions in mind, and to have the tools that allows you to follow up and reconnect in the future.

Be the Ambassador for Your Business

Of course, in any curious inbound sales lead scenario, there are going to be times where a prospect wants to set an appointment see the product, even when they know it might not be the perfect match for them. This is your job as the official inbound sales lead qualifier comes in, and it’s your final responsibility to determine what’s in the best interest of both your prospect and your business.

If you decide to go ahead and book a meeting, ensure that sales is fully aware of the unqualified nature of the lead before the consultation. Or, if you opt to decline the meeting at this time, take this time to plan a nurturing campaign to keep adding value to the prospect, so that if and when the time is right, they’ll be more likely to reach out again.

It’s tempting to consider every inbound sales lead as a perfect potential customer. But it’s more realistic to recognize that not every prospect is going to be the best fit for your product, and vice versa. That’s why we’re here — to act as the ambassador of our businesses and treat every inbound sales lead qualification with the same care as the renewal of the highest paying customer in the organization.

For a more comprehensive look into SalesLoft’s internal SDR process, download our free playbook and optimize your sales efforts to start crushing your sales development goals today.

The post Why Every Inbound Sales Lead Needs Qualification appeared first on SalesLoft.

09 Sep 14:48

17 Ways To Increase Traffic To Your Website

by Warren Knight



I was shocked to read that only 54% of small businesses (as of February 2016) have a website. This to me, seems like such a small number as I see having a website a crucial part to a small businesses online, and offline success. I was happy, however to see that 24% of small businesses are going to have a website in the near future, bringing that total to an estimated 78% by 2020.

Having a website is great, but are you really driving the traffic you NEED to make your small business a success? After 25+ years in sales and marketing, and 8+ years in Internet Marketing, I have come to understand what it means to have a successful website.



I guest blog on Business 2 Community and Social Media Today. This, in turn, drives a lot of traffic back to my website. Research your industry, find leading news outlets that are looking for guest bloggers and get in contact.


Whilst traffic may not be dependant on site speed, the length of time someone spends on your website does. If your website takes too long to load, people will leave your site immediately and you could miss out on potential sales.


As we all know, social media is one of the best ways to increase brand awareness, sales and website traffic. Stay brand consistent across the social networks you are using to promote your business and always offer a call-to-action to bring that social media user across to your website.


On-page SEO has always been a huge part of my SEO checklist and strategy as I understand how key this is. If you have great on-page SEO, you can get a first page Google Ranking, if done properly.


As I am a thought leader in the social media/digital marketing industry, I do receive a lot of referral traffic because of the recommendations I have, and the content I produce. I had a huge spike in referral traffic when Google recommended a piece of content of mine on their official Google+ page.


Podcasts are great for increasing brand awareness so do you research, and find popular podcasts in your industry and contact them to be a guest on one of their segments.


Although written content and visuals still drive a large amount of traffic, video marketing has become a more popular way for people to digest content so make sure you consider using videos to increase traffic to your website.


Having a blog on your website is one of the best ways to increase traffic to your website. Google loves seeing a website that has new content published on a website every week.


LinkedIn Pulse has been one of my biggest traffic drivers this year because of the power it has. An article of mine that was written two months ago went viral inside of LinkedIn Pulse and this drove copious amounts of traffic back to my website.


Off-page SEO is referred to as the most “popular” part of SEO work. This is otherwise known as link building. Link building will automatically increase traffic to your website.


Advertising your website can be done in many forms. You can look at PPC (pay per click), Google Adwords or advertising on social media. Depending on what your goal is, chose the advertising option that will give you the best ROI.


In 2015, 33.4% of all website traffic was generated through mobile and that number has, and will continue to increase. Make sure your website is “responsive” so that people are able to have the same experience on your website via mobile, as they would on desktop.


When I write content, I always make sure my headline matches the content i’ve written, and has been designed in a way that will make my audience want to read it, and in turn increase traffic to my website.


I run at least one webinar a month which allows me to generate a large amount of leads, up-sell my products/services and increase traffic to my website.


I have an email marketing list of over 10,000 small businesses. Email marketing has always been a great traffic driver for me, and can be for you if you do your research, and find out the best ways your email audience want you to communicate with them.


The best way to engage with your audience online to increase awareness is to offering something of value, completely free of charge (or for a small cost). I have various guides, eBooks, downloads and autoresponders that bring traffic to my website whilst also generating leads.


You may find that your website is not generating as much traffic as you would like, so you need to be constantly checking the analytics to see if there are any problems.

I hope my 17 ways to increase traffic to your website will help you do exactly that. What is the most effective way for you to generate traffic?

09 Sep 14:48

3 things about negotiating your boss doesn't want you to know

by Jacquelyn Smith


For many professionals, the idea of engaging in a negotiation is so intimidating that they just skip it altogether.

But if you really, truly believe you deserve more money, a title promotion, or better working arrangements, you need to ask (and sometimes fight) for it. 

In a 2015 LinkedIn post, author and negotiation consultant Victoria Pynchon laid out five surprising facts "your bargaining partner hopes you don't understand." 

Here are a few things your boss will never tell you about how to negotiate successfully:

SEE ALSO: 18 things you should never say in a salary negotiation

1. The negotiation doesn't start until someone says 'no'

"One of the greatest inhibitions to asking for your true market value is your understandable fear of rejection," Pynchon writes. "Our reluctance to negotiate past 'no' can be quickly overcome when we understand that it's not really a negotiation if we're asking for something we already know our bargaining partner also wants."

But negotiation is essentially a conversation in which the goal is to reach an agreement with someone whose interests are not perfectly aligned with yours, she says. "If we want to get what we're entitled to or capable of getting, we either have to negotiate past 'no' or spend the rest of our work lives being victimized by people who are happy to place themselves and their needs ahead of ours."

Savvy business professionals know that the word "no" simply "signals an opportunity to problem-solve, to learn which of the parties' interests are conflicting and which are overlapping, and how to create more value than it first appears the parties are able to exchange with one another," she says.

2. It's better to ask for more than you think you'll get

"In experiment after experiment, social scientists have proven that people are not particularly happy when they get what they think they want," she writes. "They're happier when their bargaining partner says 'no' a couple of times before he or she says 'yes.'"

That's because negotiators are more afraid of leaving money on the table than they are about getting what they think they want, Pynchon explains.

If, for example, you ask for a 5% raise and the boss says "yes" without hesitation, you'll likely suffer from buyer's remorse — certain that if you had asked for 7% or 10%, your bargaining partner would have given it to you, she says. So always ask for more than you actually want or think you'll get. "You won't be happy if your bargaining partner accepts what you offer on the first move." 

3. Negotiating is a mind game

"The person who is perceived to have the least to lose from walking away from the deal on the table is the person with the greatest bargaining advantage," says Pynchon in her LinkedIn post. "If you're negotiating, both parties have a bottom line — a walkaway position. If those bottom lines don't overlap, the party who signals his willingness to walk away will have the greater bargaining power."

She says if you act as if you are prepared to walk away from a deal unless you achieve your desired goal, your bargaining partner will be far more incentivized to meet your requirements or make serious problem-solving efforts to create enough value so that both of you get what you most want. However, you never want to make threats — especially if they're empty. So tread carefully. 

Click here to read the full LinkedIn post.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider
09 Sep 14:48

Is content syndication right for your Digital Strategy?

by Simon Swan

3rd party sites can give your content marketing a boost

The industry buzz that greets Content Marketing continues at pace as the tactic that can help brands redefine their proposition and differentiate their position from the competition. Indeed it’s very definition has changed, been re-purposed and continues to be re-interpreted but it’s safe to say Content Marketing provides a foundation for your digital marketing tactics to be used in a more joined up, strategic way to help drive the company objectives and in turn it’s digital strategy.

But what about maximising the reach and engagement of  your content and how do you continue to justify budget spent on your content marketing through analytics measures? Distribution of your content efforts is crucial and your branded digital marketing communications channels will be the natural route for engagement to customers and prospects. However, if your own branded channels lack the digital footprint to drive incremental reach what other tactics are available?


Enter content syndication

As defined by Search Engine Watch: “..Is the process of pushing your blog site, or video content out into 3rd party sites, either a full article, snippet, link or thumbnail”. Content Syndication is not a new tactic, take a look at Yahoo or MSN and you’ll notice thousands of articles syndicated across their platforms sourced from other news publications and industry verticles that feed high traffic sites with content. The below example from CNN shows an example of links to syndicated content that CNN believe would be relevant to their audience and thus help to keep their site “sticky” by maximising time on site and pages viewed per user session.


Image source: Outbrain

Facebook has reignited the syndication model and how this model can be optimised for social media through Instant Articles – giving a way for newswires and global content providers a means to promote and re-purpose their content through Facebook, providing a route for their content to engage with new demographics and audiences

The opportunities around content syndication are obvious. By forming alliances with other high traffic, reach and engagement partners, content can be driven to new audiences and drive further reach but it also provides opportunities for content brands to align with new digital ecosystems with their syndicated content appearing on different platforms such as desktop,  mobile, apps,  internet of Things and the emphasis for brands to build more external collaboration. A recent article by Econsultancy emphasise the point that should a brand invest in a content syndication strategy, “you need good content to make those networks effective” 

To consider whether syndication is a channel to consider for your digital strategy, brands should consider the following:

  • Business Objectives – What are your business objectives e.g. is it to drive incremental visits, to drive engagement, lead or sales generation? What could syndication provide you differently to what your branded channels could offer?
  • Understand your digital audience – Is there an appetite and need for your content on other platforms and media providers? e.g. Does your content offer you a unique selling point (USP) that you could turn into a reason to syndicate the content?
  • Content Strategy – To even consider the creation of syndication, you need to ensure you have your own house in order i.e. Your own content strategy, delivery and team are in place and are producing on-going, consistent content being delivered through your own branded channels
  • Opportunities to engage new audiences – Perhaps your content already drives engagement but by re-purposing the existing content to reach new audiences and demographics, it could help to re-invent your branded content onto different channels which target new audiences
  • Opportunities to drive potential cross marketing and advertising opportunities – By syndicating out your content, you’re creating new opportunities for collaboration with digital partners as well as getting to understand new audiences and new ways to execute content strategies.
  • Pipeline of Partners – You need to create a pipeline of potential syndication partners with reasons as to why and what they would provide your brand as well as supporting your content initiatives. As a Check GWT, inbound links, affiliates
  • Monitor, Manage & Measure – Ensure you are monitoring each of your syndication partners e.g. what type of content works best for one partner over another? Get insights about their own audiences so to fine tune the content you want to syndicate, how do you propose to measure the impact of syndication? Is it through referral traffic, brand search, social followers, revenue through advertising? Brands should be measuring their “complete” digital footprint, not just through their branded channels but everywhere their brand is mentioned

Brands as Knowledge Centres

I have previously discussed the opportunities for brands to re-define themselves as knowledge centres and the opportunities there is for  brands to monopolise not only their industry verticals but to also seek new markets and audiences by reinventing their content initiatives and partnerships. This was emphasised by a recent report released by Search Metrics who emphasised the need for brands to:

  • Drive Authority – Are you informing and delighting your audience by telling a great brand narrative through the content you’re delivering?
  • OVP – Do you have an online value proposition at the heart of your digital strategy?  Analyse the competition and benchmark your proposition against other brands operating in different sectors to understand how they have differentiated themselves from their competitors
  • Are you building a narrative – Fine tune your digital narrative that can be communicated through your online content. Engage in conversations through social media channels with your audience and reach out and build direct relationships with your customers and audience giving your brand a personality and a human element to your proposition and online reputation.

Content Syndication will continue to re-invent itself and become a key battle ground for brands to drive their digital reach and engagement as they look to embrace more channels to syndicate content that are non-branded channels. A recent article by Adobe suggests that more and more leading brands such as Unilever, Microsoft and Pepsi will be investing more their time and budget in syndication programs and away from paid media campaigns.

In fact, to engage with younger audiences, brands need to wake up to the opportunity to collaborate and distribute their content through strategic partnerships especially with the multiple platforms now available appealing to different audience demographics. This was emphasised by Jimmy Maymann, CEO at Huffington Post who suggested that “more than 50% Millennials get their media through distributed sources”

09 Sep 14:47

8 Inspirational Dan Pink Quotes About Success in Modern Sales

by (David Ly Khim)


You've probably heard that sales is changing. But is it really? After all, reps still call and email prospects, provide them advice, and close deals.

If you think that’s all there is to modern sales, you might not be convinced a shift is happening. But it is.

It’s not something we can see -- there isn’t some new tool or process that’s going to completely overhaul how a sale is physically made. Rather, the change in sales is reflected through reps’ changing perspectives. While sales used to be be rep-centric because buyers relied on them for even basic information, reps today have to take the stance of the prospect so that they can be helpful.

To be as helpful and valuable to your buyers as possible, you must first understand their challenges, their needs, and their goals. And that’s easier said than done.

In this Behind the Brand interview with best-selling author Dan Pink, he lays out exactly where you might be falling short.

One of the skills Pink says modern reps need is attunement, or the ability to take their prospects’ perspectives. This is a skill separate from empathy that allows us to truly understand our prospects’ business priorities and goals.

Modern sales isn’t just about closing deals. You need a wide variety of hard and soft skills to truly become empathetic and helpful. Here are eight inspiration quotes from Pink that describe what success in modern sales looks like.

1) “Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.”

2) “Questions are often more effective than statements in moving others. Or to put it more appropriately, since the research shows that when the facts are on your side, questions are more persuasive than statements, don’t you think you should be pitching more with questions?”

3) “One very small thing that people can do to get better at listening is every once in awhile, when someone says something to you, just wait a couple seconds before responding. Just wait.”

4) “Most of what we know about sales comes from a world of information asymmetry, where for a very long time sellers had more information than buyers. That meant sellers could hoodwink buyers, especially if buyers did not have a lot of choices or a way to talk back.”

5) “One of the best predictors of ultimate success in either sales or non-sales selling isn’t natural talent or even industry expertise, but how you explain your failures and rejections.”

6) The ability to take another perspective has become one of the keys to both sales and non-sales selling. And the social science research on perspective-taking yields some important lessons for all of us.”

7) “To sell well is to convince someone else to part with resources -- not to deprive that person, but to leave him better off in the end.”

8) “If you need me to motivate you, I probably don’t want to hire you.”

Join Dan Pink live on September 14th for Inbound Sales Day where he will discuss one of the most difficult challenges in sales: how to deal with rejection, with lessons backed by social science. Save your seat to join Dan's free live session.

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09 Sep 14:47

Confusing Customer Segmentation, Buyer Profiling, and Buyer Personas Harms Marketing

by Tony Zambito
Confusion by Adam Gale

Confusion by Adam Gale

In the 15 years since originating the concept of buyer personas in 2001, there has been one issue that continues to plague fully understanding exactly where, how, and why buyer personas can be beneficial. Compounding the issue today is the prevalent use of the term buyer persona to describe customer segmentation and buyer profiling efforts. The issue I am referring to is the confusion that can surround distinguishing between customer segmentation, buyer profiling, and buyer personas today.

If you are a CMO or a marketer and you find yourself having a sudden realization that perhaps you are not quite sure of the differences, you will be in a lot of good company. Depending on the source and what you read, well, it can get downright confusing indeed.

I believe, in part, the issue is fertilized by efforts to capitalize on the emerging popularity of the term buyer persona. Which means CMOs and CSOs will need to be more discriminating about how they structure and organize their understanding of customers. This is especially crucial as organizations continue to evolve in transforming their business model from product-centric to customer-centric models.

Customer Segmentation

On the surface, customer segmentation can be viewed as a fairly straight forward exercise. In fact, it can be quite a complex effort for organizations to undertake. Oftentimes, companies can lose sight of who exactly are their customers from a segmentation viewpoint. Where views on which segments best represent ideal target customers can become muddied over a decade or more.

What separates customer segmentation from buyer profiling and buyer personas is the quantitative requirements associated with identifying specific groupings. Suitable for classification of groups that can represent the buyers of specific types of products, services, and integrated solutions. For example, accounting software designed for independent accountants who consult can include segments of independent accountants and accounting firms. Obviously, you would not identify a segment group of personal fitness trainers to target.

From a classification standpoint, classifications can be related to:

  • Industries
  • Professions
  • Roles
  • Firmographics
  • Demographics

Where customer segmentation can get tricky is when there are relevant sub-groups of segments. For instance, there may be sub-segments of accountants who specialize in healthcare while others specialize in financial services.

The value of customer segmentation is it can tell you where to point your marketing and messaging. The right industries, professions, and roles from a quantitative perspective. And, it can help gauge the size of a market opportunity.

Customer segmentation lacks in helping you to understand what preferences buyers may have, what they work on, how they engage in buying activities, what their purchasing history may be like, and what initiatives they work on. This is where buyer profiling can be helpful.

Buyer Profiling

Buyer profiling can help organizations to understand the what and how of their buyers. In industry segments, for instance, there are overarching priorities and initiatives common to industries. Buyer profiling can also help with gaining perspective on what is the likely propensity to buy for certain types of organizations.

Buyer profiling is often another quantitative exercise for organizations. With some qualitative aspects on a minor scale. This can include the use of tracking from sales automation and marketing automation to keep honing in on the profile of buyers most likely to engage. Buyer profiling can include:

  • Preferences (including content preferences)
  • Priorities and Initiatives
  • Purchase history and purchase patterns (including budgets)
  • Buying criteria and risk factors
  • Common challenges and pain points
  • Common triggers and events
  • Geographic data
  • Psychographic data
  • Buying processes and buyer journeys
  • Buying team structures

All of the above are oriented towards understanding the ideal customer and buyer profile for segments. These became commonplace practices in sales well before digital capabilities. The transformation to a digital marketplace now makes it important for marketing to understand the profiling of buyers.

This is the one area causing much of the existing confusion in marketing and sales today. The growing popularity is causing marketing and sales departments, agencies, research firms, and consultants to use the terms buyer profile and buyer persona interchangeably, as well as, incorrectly. I have read books, eBooks, articles, postings, whitepapers, and the likes about the topic of buyer personas. Plenty have the prevalent use of the terms profile or profiling as identifying what buyer personas are. And, mixing the terms through the nameing convention of buyer persona profile. Often including the categories mentioned above as what goes into creating a buyer persona. Similarly, we are seeing previously called profiling-based win/loss interviewing approaches now being called buyer persona research.

It is no wonder that many CMOs and marketers find themselves in a state of confusion when it comes to taking the right steps towards understanding their customers. The data-driven movement is also compounding the matter of confusion. There have been introductions of artificial intelligence firms intermixing the use of the term buyer profile with that of buyer persona. Even offering “data-driven” buyer persona templates per se’. While more precise A.I. can augment buyer profiling, they are not a substitute for buyer personas. Far from it.

Buyer Personas

What buyer profiling cannot help you with, buyer personas can. What buyer profiling lacks is the ability to truly understand the goals, goal-directed behaviors, attitudes, emotions, interactions, situations, feelings, experiences, and points of views of buyers. As mentioned in a previous article, these types of buyer insights do not fit neatly into a data field. Nor can many of these types of buyer insights be derived solely from statistical and data-driven modeling.

In large part, personas were founded and based on a body of research related to goal theory and goal-directed behavioral studies. Such research has been proven to show that behaviors, as well as choices and decisions, of people and teams are goal-directed. The term goal is finding its way into being listed as a category for buyer profiles mistakenly called buyer personas. However, there is little difference between the profiling of priorities and initiatives and goals in these types of profiles.

It is important for the term goals not to be used loosely. For instance, there can be up to 6 or 7 types of goals simultaneously influencing buying behaviors, choices, and decisions. Often misunderstood, studies show that people have difficulties in articulating goals and intended goals usually are not at the conscious surface level. Thus the need for using skilled qualitative research to uncover implicit reasoning and thoughts.

Organizations who have gone beyond the surface level of common priorities and initiatives found in industries to understanding deeply recessed goals that direct choices and decisions have been able to transform their marketing significantly.

What separates buyer personas from buyer profiling is the qualitative research dependencies related to buyer insights research. Qualitative research techniques pertaining to the use of contextual inquiry, usage observation, business anthropology, field observation, and ethnography are of immense importance. A primary reason being that buyers often struggle to articulate qualitative reasoning, as well as, must overcome either conscious or unconscious resistance to sharing what is really on their minds.

What buyer personas are intended to do is offer insights into the buyer’s qualitative story. Insights related to:

  • Specific influential types of goals
  • Specific goal-directed behaviors related to goal attainment
  • Mental models influencing thinking, world views, and ultimately choices
  • Attitudes, belief systems, perceptions, concerns and etc. influencing choices
  • Descriptive situational and buying scenarios (deeper and more descriptive than buyer’s journey or buying process)
  • Points of views that provide context to decisions
  • Interactions and experiences involved in choices and decisions

When buyer personas are truly understood and researched correctly, they can prove very beneficial to gaining deeper understanding beyond segmentation and profiling. They are particularly apt for cutting across segments and profiles to create a centralized view of customers and buyers. Making marketing and sales more effective, efficient, and resonating with its target customers and buyers.

Concentric View Of All Three

What can trip up CMOs and marketers, as well as, heads of sales today are when they receive advice that a buyer persona initiative can do it all for them. This is where the “harms marketing” part begins. This ill-advised approach can lead to focusing on the wrong buyers and executing marketing and sales messaging that basically falls on deaf ears. Resulting in blown dollars devoted to marketing and messaging.

While hype can be good, it can also have consequential downsides. Misguided use of the term buyer personas and the harm it can have on marketing and sales planning for an organization, as well as people involved, can be significant.

CMOs and CSOs today can work together on developing a three-dimensional view of customers and buyers in a concentric manner. Using customer segmentation, buyer profiling, and buyer personas to get at the core of why buyers will make purchase decisions and what it will take to transform.

The transformation I speak of is that of making it abundantly clear and self-evident to buyers that accomplishing their goals is attainable and aligned with the company speaking to them.

(This video is interesting (entitled Why most people don’t get marketing) in that Professor Shari Worthington addresses myths associated with marketing. When it comes to buyer personas, myths can be formed about their purpose and use. It is hoped this article helps to dispel myths and provide clarity on the role buyer personas can play in marketing.)

09 Sep 14:47

How To Measure and Improve Your B2B Content Marketing Using Engagement Reports

by Andrew Nguyen

Lead reports and web traffic metrics both lack accuracy when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of content marketing.

A leads report tells us whether our content is compelling enough for readers to submit their contact information. And looking at web traffic reports tell us whether it resonates with a wide audience.

But neither report can tell us whether it resonates with the right audience.

We invest heavily in content marketing and we want to know that it not only drives web traffic and leads, but that it drives engagement with the right leads, i.e. graded MQL’s.

To do this we measure content engagement to better understand which kinds of content resonates with our ideal audience.


Engagement Reporting For Content Marketing Performance Measurement

The value of engagement reporting is knowing that you’ve created content that resonates with qualified buyers.

Sure, we can create 10 blog posts and generate 100 form submissions, all of which are leads with varying levels of quality, but we’d rather create 10 blog posts and generate 50 leads that all are grade A qualified.


We can understand how to achieve this by measuring the engagement levels of our content (its topics, formats and themes) and replicating content that resonates with our ideal audience.

This matters because higher engagement with prospective buyers means a higher level of trust, education, and interest. Content engagement builds a stronger relationship with our prospective buyers.

Measuring engagement will also result in understanding how much engagement is required before an anonymous visitor who is qualified converts into a lead.

It’s easy to see why this is important, now let’s talk about how to report engagement.

How To Report Engagement And Content Quality

It comes down to tracking the middle touchpoints (i.e. web visits or form submissions) between the anonymous first touch and the lead create touch. If a piece of content like a blog post has many visits by Grade A leads then we need to pay attention to it because this is valuable engagement.

Engagement reporting is summing the touchpoints by our Grade A (or B and C) leads.

We think of engagement as the total number of MQL’s who visited an article, and how many times each MQL visited the article.


(Click image to enlarge)

It is summarized in matrix format. The rows of this matrix table are grouped by blog post URL, and for each blog post we see the MQL’s name (blurred to protect privacy). Each column gives us information on engagement. We use a U-Shape attribution model to understand whether the engagement was a first touch, lead create touch, or a middle touch.

The beauty of this report is that you can see the middle touches (web visit or form submission) which strengthens the relationship between MQL’s and our brand.

Knowing that certain content drives MQL’s, getting credit for the first touch or lead create touch is important. But it’s also important to know which content brings MQL’s back, or that MQL’s engage with most because it’s an indicator that the content is bringing them closer to being ready to engage with your sales team.

The Engagement Metrics For B2B Content Marketers

To sum up engagement reporting let’s look at a few metrics that can be useful for measuring each piece of content.

Lead Volume: Sum of first touch and lead create touch. These touchpoints represent brand discovery and lead conversions. It’s a sign that your article initiated brand discovery or convinced someone to submit their information.

Engagement: Sum of touchpoints by MQL’s. Here a touchpoint can be a web visit or a form submission. If you’re creating e-books or wanting to measure performance by web visits made by your MQL’s then engagement is good place to start.

Web visits per MQL: If your MQL’s are visiting multiple times then your content is exceptional. It’s useful, a great reference, and highly resourceful. This tells you that your ideal audience finds your content valuable enough to visit multiple times. To measure this, divide webvisits by number of MQL’s.

Mining Your Content For Editorial Insights

The above mentioned metrics are results. They are dependent on a variety of factors such as how much money you spend to promote them, the level of search engine optimization, search volume, search ranking, keyword density, target keyword and topic.

But what exactly predicts performance? A good first step is to plot your content performance data to search for patterns.

To explore this question we plotted leads driven, choosing to sum FT and LC touchpoints, on the Y-axis and engagement on the X-axis (sum of total touchpoints).

We color the blog posts based on a potentially predictive factor. For this example we’ll use keyword competition level, as estimated by Google. You’ll want to limit the sample to MQL’s whose lead-source equals organic search.


From this plot we can see that certain posts have high MQL count but lower engagement. We can also see that certain posts with low search volume have more engagement among MQL’s.

Why do certain posts create more leads or more engagement among MQL’s? There are no discernible patterns around keyword competition, but there are others independent variables you can color code your data by to search for patterns.

There are numerous potentially predictive factors such as how much you spend on promoting, keyword density score, keyword, content format, and etc. Plotting data like this can identify factors that might be predictive of content performance.

For instance you could color code by keyword and see that certain keywords are correlated with high engagement.

Plotting your data and color coding based on factors is a good first step to understanding what to expect in terms of MQL’s and engagement before you create an article.


Engagement reporting all starts with an advanced tracking and marketing attribution solution.

Engagement offers a new way to understand the success of content marketing. It’s also a powerful indicator of whether content is resonating with the audience you care about most.

For a tactic like B2B blogging it’s important to pay close attention to engagement metrics because the research and pre-sales process is so important in a long sales cycle. It’s also important if your product is new and requires a lot of education.

Engagement metrics can tell you how well you are educating your target audience. You can tie engagement performance back to certain types of content to understand what you should create more of.

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09 Sep 14:46

Six Steps to Turn Negative Reviews into a Sales Boom

by Dan Steiner

When your business gets a negative review, it can ruin your entire week. You may assume that one bad review will send customers away in droves the instant it posts. In truth, even a few bad comments won’t hurt your business at all, especially if they’re surrounded by numerous positive reviews.

With a little creativity, negative reviews can actually be used increase sales for your business. Here are a few tips to help you make customer commentary work for you.

Step One: Realize the Value

Over the years, customers have become savvier when it comes to business reviews and in fact, when a company’s product or service only has five-star, glowing reviews, it can actually cause damage. On your own website, if the feedback is entirely positive, 95 percent believe the reviews are fake or company-screened. On a third-party site like Yelp or Angie’s List, readers will assume that a business has planted positive reviews and has few legitimate customers. As your business grows, you’ll likely be glad to see a combination of five, four, three, two, and one stars among your reviews, as well as a wide range of comments. This will help potential customers get the full picture.

Step Two: Take Preventive Measures

The worst reviews state that a company doesn’t care about its customers or doesn’t listen to complaints. Put measures in place to reduce the number of customers who can say that about your company, Take every customer service call seriously. If someone is unhappy with what they’ve received, offer a full refund or a freebie to try to turn a negative experience into a positive. You may find a customer who would have initially left a one-star rant is instead giving your business five stars full of praise.

Step Three: Know the Statistics

If you’re providing high-quality products and winning customer service, you’ll likely see very few negative reviews over the course of a given year. In fact, 85 percent of reviews are 4 or 5 stars, with the occasional low rating only dragging your overall rating down slightly. With so many good reviews, customers will likely not even notice the occasional bad rating among all the text.

Step Four: Encourage Reviews

Overall, sheer volume of reviews is a good thing, demonstrating that your business has served numerous customers. Make it as easy as possible for customers to leave a review for your business, including links in post-sale emails and signage where walk-in traffic can see it. This approach often captures your loyal customers, who are more than happy to leave a review for the business they patronize so frequently. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your best customers to leave a review for you online. You may get an occasional bad rating, but you’ll likely see a boost in sales due to your strong online presence. The more engaged you are with website visitors, the more easily you’ll be able to convert them into sales – these are hardly cold leads, after all.

Step Five: Respond Quickly

It’s important to take swift action as soon as a negative review has been posted. You can’t constantly monitor your online presence, but there are services that will notify you when your brand has been mentioned online. Set up these alerts and assign someone to quickly respond any time a customer has something negative to say online, whether it’s on social media, a review site, or an online marketplace where your products are sold. In some cases, you’ll find the customer removes the negative comment or, at the very least, rethinks the original plan to give you bad reviews in additional places.

Step Six: Take Executive Action

Often the best thing you can do is to step in as the business leader and apologize to a customer. This can happen either before or after a negative review goes live. Set up a system that will ensure you’ll be notified when a customer is unhappy and reach out to remedy the problem. Sometimes contact from someone at the executive level can change a customer’s perception, especially if you’re able to offer free products or a full refund.

Negative reviews can feel like a business killer but in fact, they often help your business more than hurt them. If you have a firm commitment to customer service and receive far more positive reviews than negative, you’ll likely find that customers see the bigger picture when they research your business.

09 Sep 14:46

Why Sales Managers Need the Sales Manager’s Survival Guide From Dave Brock – Episode #73

by Carey Green

Sales managers are one of the least equipped roles in business.”

That is what Dave Brock says when he looks over the sales landscape. That’s one of the main reasons he wrote “The Sales Manager’s Survival Guide,” available now on Amazon and other Bookstores. The book is formatted into easily digestible, short chapters that enable you to keep the book on your desk as a quick reference guide to the sales scenarios you face day to day with clients and with your sales team. In this conversation, you get a great peek into the contents of the book and what Dave hopes to happen your sales management because of it.

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Sales managers are some of the least equipped people in the industry.

When the sales manager doesn’t know what he’s doing the entire team and the entire organization suffers. It’s an obvious fact, but what’s not so obvious is that very few sales managers have been adequately trained to know how to actually BE a sales manager. That’s a fundamental premise of Dave Brock’s book and in this conversation you’ll hear him defend the statement and give examples of why sales managers need help in knowing how to do things like establishing a cadence in their sales cycle, review their sales pipeline, and hold sales executives accountable in good ways. You will gain a good deal from this conversation so be sure you take the time to listen.

A field manual for sales managers to up the entire team’s sales game.

When you’re in the midst of a difficult situation with a member of your sales team, you don’t want to be ignorant of what to do or how to think about what’s going on. That’s why Dave Brock wrote “The Sales Manager’s Survival Guide” in a short chapter, easy to reference format. He wants you to be able to find the solutions to your situations quickly and have the experience of a “sales coach” at your fingertips. If you haven’t grabbed a copy of the book yet, you’ve got to get one right now. You can find it in the links on the show notes page for this episode.

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How many potential customers exist in your territory? Do you know?

Part of doing a good review of a sales professional’s strategy is to assess how many of the organization’s target clients exist within their sales territory. It’s a surefire way of understanding the breadth of the prospects the salesperson has to call and visit. Every sales manager should be able to instruct their sales force how to do that kind of assessment and make the most of the results. On this episode of In The Arena, Dave Brock walks through that type of assessment and explains how it helps the entire organization remain organized, active, and accountable.

Sales accountability: The uncomfortable but needed asset in sales.

Many sales organizations are lax when it comes to the kind of accountability that generates active pursuit of prospects and increase in sales revenue. One of the reasons accountability is such a difficult task for most sales managers is because they’ve not established clear expectations in terms of the number of leads in the sales pipeline, the timing and duration of the typical sales cycle, and what steps should be taken to move prospects through the cycle in a reasonable amount of time. Dave Brock lays it out for us on this episode.

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Outline of this great episode

  • [3:22] The reason Anthony invited Dave Brock back to the show.
  • [7:42] The feedback Dave is getting from his book so far.
  • [10:56] What Anthony likes best about Dave’s book: the easy use format.
  • [12:15] The need for training for sales managers and middle sales leaders.
  • [18:42] What is cadence and what is the value of it?
  • [22:50] Why sales managers struggle to do a proper pipeline review.
  • [34:49] Accountability in sales and why it’s often avoided by sales managers.
  • [38:23] Dave’s current work on another project: The Sales Executive’s Survival Guide.
  • [40:06] How do we deal with the overwhelming complexity we face in business today?

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09 Sep 14:46

It’s Time for B2B Content Marketing to Adjust to an Account-Based Marketing World

by Peter Mollins

Account-based Marketing (ABM) aims to strike down a core tenet of modern marketing. It challenges the idea that success comes simply from more quality leads nurtured through to purchase. The focus on individuals is misguided. The focus should be on the account itself.

This idea comes in part from how targets respond to business pain. When a company is in the market for, say, HR solutions, the pain is likely felt by multiple hiring managers, the HR team itself, and employees. And the purchasing decision will likely be influenced by a similarly diverse group.

This is supported by data from the CEB, publishers of the Challenger Customer. It found that the average B2B purchase involved more than 5 decision makers. The more decision makers the more likely an opportunity will result in “no decision”.

So, the marketing and selling of HR solutions needs to be coordinated across this set of buyers at the account level.

Content Matters in an Account-Based World

How do you orchestrate that consensus across an account? Fundamentally, it is about the coordinated distribution of relevant content to the right people in the right context. Content here is in the broadest sense. It could be, for example:

  • Internally developed or third party business cases distributed via email;
  • Coaching, training, experience, and sales guidance processed and delivered in person by a rep;
  • Opinions and best practices of industry peers that illustrate successful change.

And no wonder. Buyers remain hungry for genuine insight that helps them succeed. They want to be engaged and informed, and they want to drive improvement at their businesses. This fundamentally changes how marketing content is created, distributed to targets, and used by reps to orchestrate consensus.

More Buyers, More Complexity

Within the decision team there will be competing priorities around value, risk, and effort. Customizing your message to address these various stakeholders can help confront tactical challenges. But ultimately there will be a group decision based on the account’s priorities.

That means that sales and marketing resources should avoid hyper-niching their messages. An excessive focus on departmental value at the expense of account level value can lead to individuals prioritizing their own needs over a shared need. That risks opening political conflicts that end in stalemate or false-starts because an internal alliance couldn’t be made to affect change.

How should you reshape your content strategy in light of this? How should you adjust what content you produce and how it is distributed? Let’s take a look.

Personae Grata

Even if your solution and sale are low-complexity, there will be account-level priorities. These are concerns that shape how groups choose between which issues to confront. They may be cross-organizational or not, but except in the smallest companies, they always affect groups of people.

So, don’t limit your persona analysis to just individuals. If it’s true that accounts buy as accounts, then treat the account as a persona to be convinced.

  • Talk to Sales: Understand the account-level drivers by interviewing your sales organization, and in a multi-product company, across sales teams. Learn who is involved in a purchase and how they came together to arrive at a decision. Discover which kinds of messages resonated best.
  • Look at the Data: Your marketing and sales automation platforms have a wealth of data on which messages, and kinds of messages, were most effective. Don’t just focus on which content was effective by individual persona. Look at common threads across accounts.
  • Talk to Customers: There’s no substitute for speaking directly to buyers themselves. Don’t get stuck on why the purchase mattered to them individually. Understand friction points that stemmed from group stalls. And find out what convinced them to push through the organizational inertia.

Group Drivers by Persona Type

You’re a marketer. You’ve done persona analysis a lot. So, now apply the same process but at an account-level. Armed with the various account-level drivers, group them based on account types.

Yes, you will often want to have highly specific messaging for your accounts. That specificity is one of the advantages of taking an account-based approach. But if you can find common themes across your accounts then you can develop reusable messaging that can be used repeatedly.

  • Firmographics: Just as you can predict which message will drive action for individuals based on demographics and behavior, you can do the same by account. Think of the firmographics of your target accounts. Do accounts with different industries, geographies, or employee counts respond to different messages?
  • Account Behavior: Similarly, accounts have behaviors too. They issue press releases, tweet as a company, and hire particular skill sets, and individual employees themselves collectively act in ways that can be thought of as account-level behaviors. These signals can strongly indicate whether an account is in-market or where they are in the buying process.

Map the Account’s Journey

Helping the target account move along the buyer journey means content marketers should understand the pains and frictions in each stage in the journey. Let’s consider an example buyer’s journey in a multi-influencer decision.

Identifying a Problem

A single individual may recognize a business pain because of research they’ve read. But if they are on an island in recognizing the issue and can’t tie it to a corporate priority, they’re less likely to press for change. Here’s a parallel:

Dropbox is often used by individual employees to store large files that can’t be easily shared. These islands of usage are hardly an enterprise deal on their own. By coordinating and linking these voices of demand together, Dropbox engages senior IT leadership as to the scale of the file-sharing challenge.

Understanding the Problem

An individual or sub-group may decide to pursue the problem. But every account works through its own priorities. It balances risk, effort, and potential value to determine whether to reprioritize initiatives. If the team can’t grasp the scope of the issue, impact of change, or examples of success, if they lack a shared set of priorities and the vision to get there then they’re likely to revert to inertia.

Addressing the Problem

Change is driven by getting decision makers on side, proving value, and managing risk and effort. All within what might be a political and dynamic environment. If they can’t see examples or paths to succeeding, then change will again be hard.

Individuals within a company may not have the power to push a project forward. So, generating individual fans within an organization is not necessarily indicative of a forward moving deal. But coordinating these fans by account can be directed toward an advancing deal.

The same applies to content in an organization. You’re clearly generating interest and hitting on a pain that individuals feel. But if they sense that this is their own isolated thinking and challenge, they are unlikely to take the next step. Coordinate the various players so they know there is momentum for change in their own organization.

Build, Distribute, and Measure that Content

Now that you’ve identified the kinds of account-level content and content types you should build, it’s time to build it. You’re creating materials that focus on the needs of the account-level persona.

Build the Right Content

A word of caution. Traditionally, content and product marketers have different skills sets and insights. Content marketers may produce great early stage material that generates interest. Product marketers might be great at late sales content or technical information. Build content based on what addresses the needs of your persona, not based on who you have available to write.

Get it to Your Audience

Once written, it’s time to look at distribution to your account. Yes, individuals read your content. But you must coordinate the distribution so that it supports decision making. And the correct people are consuming it to support group decisions. Typically, these distribution mechanisms include social, ads, email, web browsing, physical and in-person or phone connections.

It’s not merely about bombarding individuals with content. It is about coordinating the distribution of content so the group decision is appropriately influenced. Leading ABM platforms assist in this coordination effort.

Measure for Improvement

Lastly, measurement is critical. You’ve drawn conclusions about which content types will work best for account personae and at different stages. Now you need to refine and improve that understanding. Look to understand both:

  • Engagement on Content: Which teams and at which times are consuming content, responding to ads, or positively acting based on personal communication. Measuring this attribute helps.
  • Correlation with Wins: In addition to situational success of your content and messaging, look to the correlation of your content and its consumption with advancements through the account’s journey. Which content was presented or consumed prior to a lead converting, opportunity being created, deal closing, or account upselling?

Build the Influencer Network

Once content has helped to land a new account, the content creation cycle starts up again. A happy account provides not just proof points for your product. They help prospects work through their own journey by providing best practices and evidence that the change is worth championing across the organization.

Wrapping Up

Content marketing has reshaped marketing through its ability to educate and influence buyers. Now, by bringing together the lessons of ABM, marketers can target their content efforts not just at individuals but at the groups that make today’s B2B purchases.

The post It’s Time for B2B Content Marketing to Adjust to an Account-Based Marketing World appeared first on OpenView Labs.

09 Sep 14:46

Characteristics of Top Sales Producers

These last two parts will focus on the one characteristic that is perhaps the most important of all.  You’ll find this characteristic in ALL top performers, not just in top sales producers.  You’ll see it in top athletes, actors, musicians, dancers, top business people, academics, etc. 

All top producers have this quality in abundant amounts, and parts nine and ten will focus on how to develop, grow, protect, and maintain it within the sales arena.  And here’s what it is:

“All top producers develop and maintain a

positive, can and will do, attitude.”

Top Characteristic Part Nine:  In order to develop and protect your positive attitude, the first thing you need to do is resign from the company club. 

What I mean by this is that you have to stay away from the group of sales people in your office who do nothing but grumble about how bad or unfair things are in your company or about how bad the economy or industry is. 

You know what and who I’m talking about.  You usually find them congregating in the break room or hallway or warehouse, or they are outside smoking cigarettes or waiting for the food truck.  Every company has them, and they are poison for your career and your life.

This “company club” can be made up of average sales people or a mix of under producers and unhappy managers who feel they deserve more, or even above average sales people who think they should be treated better.  

They grumble and talk negatively about any and everything: The leads are bad or marketing is doing a crappy job, or the good leads are being given to the top producers only.  They grumble about the product, or the pricing of the product, or the warranty or durability.  They grumble about their office environment, the phone system, the computers or their desks and noise level.  They grumble about the commission structure or the salary or benefits, or the bonuses they did or didn’t get. 

They are lazy and set a low standard and drag everyone who will let them down to their level.  Instead of focusing on solutions or on making things work, they look for reasons why a new sales campaign or lead source won’t work.  They are a cancer to all companies, and they are especially deadly to you and your sales attitude. 

The answer?  Resign from their club. 

When I was a bottom 80% producer, I used to love the club.  Every morning the club would meet in the kitchen to eat the free donuts or bagels the company provided.  Were we grateful and thankful for the free food and coffee?  No.  If they gave us bagels, where was the salmon?  If they brought donuts, where were the bagels? 

And once we poured our coffee and started in on the free food, we’d start in on the leads, or the industry, or the company or on how the top producers always got preferential treatment.  We grumbled our way through the food, grumbled our way back to our desks, and grumbled our way through lunch. 

If we missed a sale, we’d reconvene in the break room to talk about how we could never sell this stuff with all the things that were wrong with it.  How in the world did they expect us to be competitive if they were going to put out such trash?  And the leads!  On and on we would go until it was finally time to go home.  And then we’d grumble to our wives or husbands…

Everything changed, though, when I made a commitment to become a top producer.  Once I had, the first thing I did was resign from the company club.

Instead of commiserating with the club, I’d arrive at the office an hour early and start cold calling or closing leads I had set up the night before.  When the club finally wandered in, I usually already had a deal on the board and was going for another one.  I declined invitations to go to lunch with them, and instead I ate at my desk.

When the club members came over to my desk during work hours, I didn’t stop calling to talk with them.  Instead, I went right on calling and working.  They soon got the hint.  When they tried to engage me in the breakroom, I was pleasant but told them I had to meet my call quota and wanted to get back to work.  After a while, they left me alone. 

What was interesting is that I noticed that the other top producers acted the same way I now did.  They were the ones who also came in early and left late.  They were the ones who were more focused on working than they were chatting, and if they did want to talk, it was usually to strategize a better way of closing a deal.  I almost never heard them grumble or talk bad about the company or the industry or the market. 

The top producers (of which group I began a part) were more interested in finding ways to succeed and exceed quota.  They didn’t mind working harder, or getting help or leveraging management’s or each other’s experience.  When we spoke with each other, it was usually to challenge one another to do better.  We competed in a positive way to up each other’s game.  We shared resources and closing techniques. 

What I found is that we had our own club, but it was lightly attended because we had work to do.  On those occasions when we did get together, it was to talk about better things like what neighborhood we were moving into, or whether we liked Mercedes or BMW better, or how we were setting up our retirement accounts.  These were not the kinds of subjects that were ever discussed in the company club.

What I find even now as a consultant is that all the companies I work with have a company club.  When I’m onsite, I can see them gathering and chit chatting.  I also see the top producers at their desks working away.  I’ve found that top producers are usually loners who are always working, always looking for ways to improve.  At the end of my training, the company club members thank me politely and then head off to the break room to talk about what a waste of time the training was.

The top producers, however, are in the training room picking my brain for a new technique or to discuss one of the scripts or closes I’ve developed for them.  They are thirsty for information and you can see the commitment on their faces.  They are top producers who are always looking for a way to up their game.

So the question for you is: Are you a part of the company club in your office?  If so, then resign today and start finding ways to build your attitude rather than spending your time ripping it down.  And you can begin building it up by following Top Characteristic Number Ten.

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09 Sep 14:45

How do You Balance Your Outbound and Inbound Strategy?

by Tukan Das

With all of the hype around inbound sales and marketing, outbound appears to have fallen out of favor. Inbound activities like content marketing and social media marketing do certainly work to bring in leads, but they need to be balanced by a strategic, targeted outbound approach – especially if you are a new, relatively unknown name in your industry. After all, if you’re not recognizable, you’re going to have to fight an uphill battle to develop the reputation you’ll need to run a successful inbound campaign.

That’s why, for most B2B companies, the best strategy is to incorporate both inbound and outbound into your sales and marketing efforts. This way you can build a presence (and the bottom line) more quickly.

Here are three tips to help you get the most out of both strategies:

1. Create different targets for inbound and outbound

Your sales team should have a clear idea in their heads about what inbound success looks like, compared to outbound success. Each should have their own unique targets to hit, and they should be measured in ways that make sense based on the activities your team is doing.

For instance, inbound efforts could be measured by how many downloads per day your latest white paper is seeing, while outbound might be measured by the number of demos set up in a given time period.

2. Measure conversion rates across both inbound and outbound

Be sure that you are taking into account all activities across inbound and outbound efforts when measuring success – and pay attention to when they overlap.

Conversion rates of an inbound campaign promoting an ebook will be different than the conversion rates of cold emailing. However, that ebook might be promoted using paid Facebook ads (which fall into the outbound bucket), and some leads that you reach out to via cold emails may have already heard of your brand on social media (through inbound methods). Be clear with your team when measuring conversion rates for all of your campaigns, and identify when and where they overlap.

3. Embrace flexible prioritization

At times, you may find that your outbound efforts are far surpassing your inbound. That latest blog post might not be getting much traction, but you’ve set up 50% more demos this week compared to last week. However, that can change quickly – next week, your inbound team might launch a killer ebook that goes viral in your industry.

In this case, you should shift your resources to back up the ebook, possibly de-prioritizing outbound efforts. You want to prioritize what’s working, and be flexible and fast enough to switch between methods as the results change.

Inbound and outbound strategies are highly complimentary, and they can work in tandem to bring in leads and close sales. Be sure to balance the two when developing your sales and marketing strategies, so that you maximize the efforts of your team.

09 Sep 00:00

8 Time Management Techniques You Should Start Today

by Elvis Michael

Productivity tips for the rest of us…

Productivity is something that most of us struggle with at one point or another, especially after spending excessive time and energy on a particularly difficult task. Without wasting much time, let’s talk about some good time management techniques to help you get more done throughout the week. Note that some of these are subjective; modify them accordingly.

1. Label Important Emails and Recipients

I used to receive the occasional instruction from a writing client, only to let it get lost in my inbox over time. This often led to unnecessary browsing weeks or months later if I ever needed to refresh my memory. In reality, your email service’s ‘Search’ feature won’t always be convenient, especially if you receive many similar emails. Now I have everything labeled in specific folders, and my headaches have reduced by 99% as a result.

2. Unsubscribe from Not-So-Important Emails

Speaking of emails, do you keep saving some messages for later or feel that they’re not as important as you once thought? Sometimes we don’t like to part ways with things, especially when we get into the habit of interacting with them regularly. Which emails can you unsubscribe from? Think long and hard about this one, then go for it.

3. Create Desktop or Task Bar Shortcuts

I tend to access certain folders every single day, particularly those sub-directories within ‘My Documents.’ After spending years clicking and browsing endlessly through a long “tree” of folders, I finally saved them to my desktop and now my work experience feels much more pleasant. As small as this may seem, it is one of my all-time favorite time management techniques due to its simplicity and effectiveness.

Pro Tip: Right-clicking on certain Task Bar applets will give you a list of recently-opened items. MS Word, for example, will instantly show you the most recent documents while File Explorer shows you the most frequently-visited folders.

Pro Tip: You may also right-click a folder, then select “Pin to Quick Access” to permanently add them to the Task Bar’s items list described above.

increase productivity online

4. Set Notifications – Even for Obvious Tasks

In this case, notifications are not necessarily meant to remind you of a task, but rather to help put you in a better work mentality. When you receive a blatant email telling you to start an article, it may hold you accountable and help you snap out of whatever unproductive activity you’re currently busy with. Even something as simple as Google Calendar works great for this.

5. Use a Productivity Tool or Technique

There is an endless amount of productivity apps and time management techniques out there, each with its own specific features and rules. For example:

Write or Die allows you to focus on writing by rewarding or punishing you, depending on your ability to do the job at hand. Click here for my full review on this app.

The Pomodoro Technique lets you work for 25 minutes at a time (typically), followed by enjoying a short break in between (along with some slight modifications, according to your needs).

Todoist is an advanced to-do list app that sends you email notifications and lets you configure it in some really creative ways – for example, you may choose to get task reminders “every 3 weeks starting a month from now.”

The list goes on. Have you tried any of these to see which one might just save the day?

6. Reassess Your Time

time management techniques

Let’s face it: Chances are you are dedicating way too much time to something, whether it’s two extra hours of TV or gaming or sleep. While you should certainly have some fun, the key here is to keep track of time and be more responsible with it. I used to wake up one hour later simply out of habit, rather than necessity. Now I get up roughly 45 minutes earlier, which allows me to do some minor tasks such as tending to emails and other work-related activities.

7. Embrace Motivational Resources

I have lost weight following consistent motivational discussions and videos. I have also upped my writing frequency after reading about the subjects I enjoy. None of this would have happened if I hadn’t surrounded myself with any of these.

Are you working less than you were a few weeks or months ago? Chances are your motivation has gone downhill. In this case, go to sources like YouTube and get lost in videos specifically made for your talents and desires. Join niche communities and read a few posts (Reddit is great for this). Keep restarting your engines with this technique every couple of weeks as your motivation subsides.

Pro Tip: It’s always best to try and make a habit out of work, as it generally sticks with you over time. Keep working consistently for roughly 30 days to increase the chances of turning a particular task into a long-term habit.

8. Just Get Started

Regardless how many time management techniques you read about, none of them will matter unless you stop learning about them all. Pick one or two promising ones, stick to them, and get started.

Don’t wait for the right moment. Don’t keep postponing your work until tomorrow in the hopes that you’ll feel better. What makes you think you will feel any differently?

Final Words

Again, these tips are somewhat subjective, so pick and choose the ones that personally work for you and go from there. What other productivity tips and time management techniques can you offer the community? Please let us know below!

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