Shared posts

24 Nov 18:23

Objection Deflection: Prospecting Enemy #1

by Krista Caldwell

This is a guest post by Krista Caldwell, Account Strategist at Predictable Revenue and SalesHacker Vancouver Host.

Objection Handling: the Pain

Having battled in the trenches of SDR-dom, I know firsthand that responding to prospects’ dismissive or negative emails feels futile. It requires the most research, thinking, and time but seems to generate the least results!

Read more on Objection Deflection: Prospecting Enemy #1…

The post Objection Deflection: Prospecting Enemy #1 appeared first on Predictable Revenue.

02 Aug 16:59

Full Funnel Means Marketing as a Profit Center

by Scott Vaughan

Perspective and Tips from Matt Heinz with Release of New Book

Full_Funnel_Marketing_FRONT_Cover.jpgMatt Heinz of Heinz Marketing, one of the real-world thought leaders in our B2B marketing community, just released a new book. I thought it was insightful, timely and covered a healthy bit of strategies and tactics required to become a kick-ass revenue marketer.

So I sat down with Matt to get his take on the state of B2B marketing and see what progress we’re making on this whole “revenue” thing. You can also get a copy of the book here.

Scott: Ok, wait a minute. Your book title uses Full “Funnel.” Isn’t the funnel dead and it’s all about the “Customer Journey” (blah, blah, blah…) in B2B marketing?

Matt: You know, every time I hear someone say something is “dead,” it usually means they’re trying to sell me the alternative!

Perhaps the idea that all prospects follow a straight, linear process through your funnel is dead (if it was ever alive). But I still love the funnel as a metaphor and organizing agent to help sales and marketing teams design a repeatable, scalable process for managing their efforts. I also don’t see nearly enough B2B marketers thinking in terms of the entire funnel vs just the top half. Maybe I’m drawn to “full funnel” for the alliteration, but if we can convince more marketers to focus on revenue instead of clicks, retweets and MQLs alone, we’ve done our job.

What was the true inspiration for the book?

I want to see all B2B marketers responsible for revenue, not activity. I want marketers to treat their organization like a profit center. I want sales and marketing aligned around the same objectives, the same definitions, the same focus areas to maximize sales and revenue yield for their organizations.

I also know that most marketers are crazy busy and sometimes want to get right to the heart of a particular challenge or opportunity. So this book covers the broader opportunity for marketers to embrace revenue responsibility, but also makes it fast and easy to find precisely the content or best practices you need in the moment to succeed.

If you had to make your best case in one sentence for why a marketer should read and spend time with your book – make it.

You can’t buy a beer with MQLs, but you can buy them with closed deals. This book helps marketers focus more on the latter. So whether you want to buy beer or simply make your next mortgage payment (i.e., keep your job), this book will help you move in the right direction.


One of your main themes is that “Full Funnel” marketers work side-by-side with sales. This belief has existed for a while now with the promise of marketing automation to make us all revenue marketers. What’s changed or is different now?

Marketing automation is just a category of tools that, if implemented poorly, simply makes sending more emails faster and easier. There are a lot of marketers who may consider themselves revenue marketers, but don’t put their money where their mouth is. While the sales team is grinding at the end of the quarter, the marketing team is at the local bar celebrating the fact that they hit their retweet goal. That may be a little unfair or facetious, but it’s the perception of not only many sales organizations but many c-suites when it comes to what marketing does and whether it’s valuable.

Awareness is important. Retweets have value. MQLs are making progress. But the marketers having the biggest impact for their business manage the entire funnel, not just portions of the top half.

CEOs and boards seem to be seeking CMOs and marketing leaders who can drive growth. Has the role of marketing fully shifted from brand to demand? Does the “big idea” matter today?

Brand is still vitally important. Great brands make sales and marketing easier, faster, more efficient. Marketers who focus purely on demand and not on long-term brand value will pay a premium for their short-term thinking, and will likely lose long-term deals to competitors who value brand perception, great content marketing and more.

The big idea still matters, but it’s not sufficient on its own. Too often historically, the big idea doesn’t tie to a core customer need, doesn’t align with a target customer’s buying journey, and doesn’t have a specific next step to move the prospect forward. Connect those dots and you’re onto something. Yes, this makes the CMO’s job much more difficult than it has been historically. But that’s the reality we live in, and many CMOs are thriving in that environment by leaning into their revenue responsibility on a daily basis.


Another thing that you espouse in the book is for marketers to help customers “challenge their status quo.” Why is this important today? And how can marketers make this happen?

Nobody is going to change unless they see benefit in doing so. Most of us are lazy, we don’t want to do or learn something new, we want to just be able to keep doing what we’ve always done or are comfortable doing. But if we discover something – an idea, a fact, a trend – that demonstrates change is easier or better than staying the same, that change will generate the outcome we ultimately care the most about, that’s where we start actively evaluating solutions to achieve that desired outcome.

Marketers have an active responsibility to know enough about their target customer to actively drive that status quo challenge. Sometimes it’s by introducing new information. Sometimes it requires reframing a problem or situation. But great marketing and great content can do that with highly efficient scale.

In the “Marketing Technology” chapter you talk about “eating your vegetables.” You live the farm life and like all that organic stuff. Are there some parallels here for B2B marketers?

Not all marketing is sexy. Many marketers shy away from technology because it isn’t as fun as the creative or the “big idea” or the content. But I’ve found that the “fundamentals” of marketing, the processes and such, are what make marketing ultimately work – better, faster, more efficiently.

You close with a deep chapter on productivity for marketers, covering things like how to use/not use meetings, conferences. These are useful “hacks.” What are your top 2 or 3 hacks for today’s modern marketer?

prioritize_your_time.pngBe intentional about how you use your time. Protect and prioritize it religiously.

Capture all of your ideas, all of the time. Use AquaNotes, Dial2Do, a Moleskine with you at all times, whatever it takes. Triage them later, but capture everything now.

Read more often. Take the time to make yourself smarter every day, on a wide variety of topics.


02 Aug 16:58

Most Conferences Are a Waste of Money… Unless You Do This

by Jeff Goins
Have you grabbed your ticket to the Tribe Conference yet? Early bird pricing goes away July 1st! Find out more here.

Is it really worth your time and money to attend that summit or workshop? No. It’s not… unless you know why you’re there in the first place.

Why You Should Attend a Conference (and What to Do When You Get There)

When I first started writing, I heard people talk about conferences. They said go to this one or that one. It was a good way to “connect.” But what was I, a shy guy, going to do at a conference?

I’d also heard the case against conferences. The crowds. The unnecessary expenses. The inspirational but ultimately un-actionable content you tend to get. I just wasn’t sure the investment was going to be worth the cost, for me.

But then, on a whim, I forked up the cash for a conference and was blown away at the content and the experience. That was the place where I first started calling myself a writer. I was hooked.

I also recorded a special podcast to expand on my thoughts. You can listen to by clicking the player below.

And so it began…

Shortly after that, I found a way to volunteer my services as a writer to attend another conference. I didn’t expect much from the conference but wanted to get to know the event planner better.

After four life-changing days, I began to drop some of my skepticism about conferences. And over the course of about six months, I began building a network, organically and somewhat accidentally, of writers and bloggers and people whom I would soon call “friend.”

Within a year, I had formed some of the most important relationships in writing career — many of which came from conferences, meetups, and other kinds of events. In fact, it was at a conference in Chicago, eating panini sandwiches, that I met an editor who published my first two books.

In the world of writing, an important step to success is forming the right relationships. In fact, I think this is true in many different industries, but it seems to be especially true for creative ones. Who you know matters. And a great way to meet more people is to attend conferences.

You can’t do this alone

This journey towards becoming a writer is not a solitary one. You will need help. You will need guides and mentors and peers to help you find your way.

This is the secret to success that few people like to admit: no successful person ever succeeds alone. Just as Hemingway went to Paris in the 1920s to be around some of the most interesting literary minds of the century, you, too, will have to find a tribe you can learn from.

But if you’re not careful, you can totally waste your time and money going to the wrong conferences. You can just go from inspiration to inspiration without any practical application. So it’s important that you know how to make the most of your investment, if you decide to register for a conference.

Here are a few goals you need to have when attending a conference if you don’t want the experience to be a waste. These are lessons I learned from attending conferences and from hosting one myself, and I hope they help you.

Goal #1: Learn

You need to go to a conference that has the kind of speakers you respect and want to learn from.

I can’t learn from someone who hasn’t done what I want to do. It’s a personal preference but an important one. I must be learning from people who have done the thing that I want to do. Otherwise, I feel like it’s a waste.

Also, a secondary but significant goal for me at a conference is to meet one of the speakers. This is easier than it sounds, actually. It doesn’t have to be some A-list presenter, but the point of an event is connection with people, and you’d be surprised at how accessible some “celebrities” are.

I first learned this when I attended World Domination Summit and asked, out of the blue, if Chris Brogan would be willing to meet me in person. He replied to my email, saying he’d love to. We played it by ear and ended up skipping a session, chatting in the lobby.

By the end of our conversation, there was a small crowd surrounding Chris, peppering him with questions. I didn’t mind. Here was a blogger whom I respected and had only interacted with online, and we had just spent an hour together, chatting. We’ve been friends ever since. I don’t remember the session that I missed, but I know I was able to watch it online later.

How to do this:

  1. Reach out to the person ahead of time to book a meeting at the conference. Once the event starts, everyone will want to meet these people. So just email them a week in advance, asking for 15 minutes of their time.
  2. Offer to buy them a meal or coffee. Something. Demonstrate that you’re not a taker, but a giver.
  3. Do this whenever it is convenient for them. Early in the morning, late at night whatever. When Chris emailed me back and asked if I could meet him in the lobby in five minutes, I immediately grabbed my stuff and left the auditorium.
Lesson: You can meet influential and important people at conferences if you are willing to make sacrifices.

Goal #2: Connect

Second, you need to go to conference that has the kind of attendees you want to be around.

Who, exactly, is that?

Well, it should be people like you. When I hosted the Tribe Conference last year, I was amazed at how many people said that was their first conference ever. What made them want to attend it? They didn’t know there was a place where they could go and people others just like them.

I’ve had this same experience as an attendee at several events. There’s something powerful when you end up some place and instantly feel like you belong.

For me, I don’t want to go some place where I can’t tolerate the people attending the event, no matter how good the content is. This is why I don’t attend many business and marketing events. I just don’t love being around that crowd.

Perhaps the most memorable part of an event is the conversations you’ll have in the hotel lobby or outside the bathroom in between sessions. It’s the late-night hangouts or random lunches with strangers that will stick with you. So you want to get some place where people “get” you.

What does this matter? Because if you go to enough conferences with jerks and swindlers and people who represent values you don’t want, well, some of that just might rub off on you. You are the company you keep, so choose to hang with the kind of people who will make you better.

My first conference, I sheepishly attended a meetup for bloggers and was too nervous to introduce myself to anyone. Nonetheless, another blogger named Kyle whom I knew from Twitter came up to me and said hi. We stayed in touch and became close friends after that (we just had lunch the other day).

Later, he told me that he could tell I was nervous and that’s why he approached me in the first place. This is what you want — people who get you, who will make you feel comfortable, even when you are unsure of yourself.

What I learned from Kyle is that we can all do this. So the very next conference I attended, I found someone who looked nervous and was clinging to the wall, and introduced myself. Worked like a charm.

How to do this:

  1. Go to the event (this is important but something we shy people tend to overlook — yes, you actually have to show up).
  2. Find someone less confident than you — because when you’re shy and unsure of yourself it’s hard to approach someone who is larger than life. So just find someone who is looking around the room, lost.
  3. Say hi to this person and ask them this question: “What are you hoping to get out of this conference?”

If you need more help with this, check out this old interview I did to on how even as a shy guy I am able to meet new people at conferences.

Lesson: You can make lasting relationships at conferences if you go where people like you already are and meet people who are just as nervous as you are.

Goal #3: Apply

Third, you need to go to a conference with the intention of not just learning but of applying what you will learn. This means that the conference must have the kind of information that will make you better.

In other words, the content has to be more than just basic stuff you can Google. It needs to include exclusive teaching or access to the speaker or a brand-new application of it.

When I started attending a few conferences a year, I realized that what I wanted was not just a good experience but a transformation. To take home with me the things that I had learned and be able to apply to my own context.

So I started making a habit of putting into practice the things I learned at the conference before I even left the event. Forget notebooks filled with information you’ll never look at again; this is the best way to get your money’s worth out of a conference. Just do it before you leave.

I learned this from my friend Danny Iny when I saw him pull out his computer in the middle of a speaking session at a conference and send an email to his assistant.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“I’m telling my team to start doing this right now.”

He then proceeded to tell me his rule for attending conferences: find three actionable nuggets and put them into practice before the event is over. Once you’ve done that, you can enjoy the rest of the event, guilt-free.

I saw him do this several times throughout the conference and decided to make that same practice a habit.

How to do this:

  1. Decide ahead of time what you want to get out of the experience.
  2. When you hear something that resonates with you, step aside to put the thing into practice. That could mean taking a break or simply emailing yourself a to-do item.
  3. Set a quota (e.g. “I’m going to immediately apply three things I learn at this conference”) and give yourself permission to stop once you’re done.
Lesson: Going to a conference won’t be a life-changing experience unless you are willing to be changed by the experience itself.

Why I created my own conference

There are a lot of conferences and events out there. A lot of paid mastermind groups and summits and experiences to keep you busy for a long, long time. Honestly, it’s easy to pick the wrong thing. It’s easy to get swept up by where everyone else is going and what everyone else is doing.

But that shouldn’t concern you. You need to go where you know you can learn from people you trust, connect with people you respect, and apply information you need.

After attending conferences for the past four years, one thing struck me as a writer. There aren’t many options available for writers and creatives who want to thrive in the modern age. There aren’t many places that help you understand where to begin, who to connect with, and what plan to follow after you leave the event.

In fact, I knew that the kind of conference I needed when I first started writing did not even exist. So I tried to cobble together some disparate experiences by attending a number of different events, but that became harder and harder to do year after year.

So I decided to create my own.

When people come together, life change happens. One person told me, it was “the best conference” they’d ever attended. Another told me it was the only one they’d ever attended.

But the truth is for a conference to make a difference, it has to have the right people, with the right message, delivered in the right way. Otherwise, you will waste your money.

That’s what the Tribe Conference is all about. It’s a place where writers, creatives, and artists can gather to share their messages and grow in their craft. It’s an event that gives you the practical known-how and inspiration to take the next step in finding the audience your message deserves.

What happens at a good conference

One attendee of the Tribe Conference, David Villalva, had this to say after leaving the event:

Every presenter and attendee I spoke with changed, challenged, or charged me. I arrived at this conference thinking I needed to somehow survive it. Instead, I discovered what it meant to be part of a tribe, and left feeling like I thrived in one.

I’ll be the first to admit that the reaction to our little event surprised me. But this was my goal: to create a place of belonging and transformation. And this is what I look for as an attendee of other events — to belong and to be changed.

Nearly half of last year’s attendees are coming back to the Tribe Conference because they’re making progress on the plans they started last year. Whether that means launching a blog or finishing a book, they’re taking action. And they want learning, connecting, and applying. It’s an honor to be a part of this growing community.

This year is going to be even bigger and better, with expert speakers, brand-new technology and tools we will be featuring, and more fun surprises.

If you’ve ever dreamed of being a professional writer, then Tribe Conference is for you.

If you have struggled to figure out how to use digital technology to get your message heard, then Tribe Conference is for you.

If you dream of one day writing a book or speaking for a living or simply getting the attention your message deserves, then Tribe Conference is for you.

To check out the schedule, learn more about ticket pricing, and sign up before we sell out, go here.

If you’d like to get going on that dream of yours and connect with a whole host of speakers including Alli Worthington, Amy Landino, Todd Henry, Tim Grahl, Janet Murray, and others, then sign up for Tribe before the price goes up.

Join us October 26–28 in Franklin, TN at the Tribe Conference. It’s going to be great!

What has been your best conference experience? Share in the comments.

02 Aug 16:56

5 Ways to Get Noticed by Influencers on Twitter

by Daniel Knowlton


Do you use Twitter for business?

Interested in ways to get more exposure, influence, and credibility?

Getting noticed and building relationships with influencers on Twitter will help you increase your online influence within your industry. With influence comes leverage, which is the foundation to growing the business.

I share the five actionable Twitter strategies I have used to get noticed and have my content shared by a variety of key influencers to help me become No. 12 on the list of Most Influential Digital Marketers on Twitter in 2016.

1. Feature influencers in a blog post and reach out on Twitter

I tried a whole host of things to get relevant influencers to notice me and share my marketing-industry-related content to their large online audiences. In January, I had a lightbulb moment. I decided to use BuzzSumo to find and curate the most viral marketing content created by the influencers in 2015. I put together a round-up post, 15 Most Viral Marketing Posts From The Pros in 2015.

I then reached out to those influencers on Twitter, letting them know that they had made it into the “most viral marketing posts of 2015” post. I got an awesome response. Three of the influencers I featured shared the post to their audiences of 683,000-plus on Twitter and Facebook. One influencer even wrote about my post.

Would you like to curate a similar piece of content to get noticed by relevant influencers in your industry on Twitter? Follow these simple steps.

  • Select targeted influencers to feature. If you know your industry well then you should be able to reel off key influencers. If you need help, you can use a tool called Followerwonk from Moz.

On its site, click the “Search Bios” tab, enter a keyword related to the type of influencer you seek, and click “Do it.”


With those results, click the “Social Authority” tab to review a descending list of the most influential Twitter users around your keyword(s).


  • Source the influencers’ most viral content. Now, copy and paste your influencers’ blog URLs into BuzzSumo and click “Search.” Filter the results based on a date range (on the left). You can see their most viral content from the past 24 hours, week, month, six months, or past year.


  • Create the viral round-up post. This is simple enough. Put together a list-style post, including a link to the most viral piece of content from each influencer, an image, and a short description (see an example from my round-up post below).


  • Reach out to your featured influencers on Twitter. Let the featured influencers know the post has been published. Sending them a personalized tweet with a link to the post is a great way to grab their attention.

2. Send influencers a direct video tweet

Influencers receive a ton of “likes,” retweets, and tweets on Twitter every day — some human, some from bots. To get noticed you really need to think outside the box.

To get noticed by influencers on #Twitter, you need to think outside the box says @dknowlton1 #contentmarketing
Click To Tweet

I recently executed an outside-the-box engagement strategy with an influencer on Twitter and it worked well. I read an article that I thought was well-written on Social Media Examiner by Aaron Orendorff.

I tweeted Aaron a personalized video letting him know how much I loved his article.

I made Aaron’s day.

I also went one step further and noticed it was Aaron’s birthday a few days later so I sent him a personalized tweet wishing him a happy birthday.

It’s going these extra miles that will help you get noticed by influencers on Twitter. To execute this strategy yourself, follow these simple steps:

  • Download the Feedly App, use the search bar to add relevant influencers’ RSS feeds, and check it daily.


  • Pick between one and three articles to read every morning.
  • Choose the most interesting article and use Twitter search to find the author’s Twitter account.
  • Send a selfie-style video sharing meaningful comments about the piece of content and thank them for creating it.
  • Share the piece of content on Twitter and tag the creator.

3. Send influencers a boomerang

Similar to the second example, sending influencers a personalized boomerang on Twitter is a great way to engage and get noticed.

As TechCrunch explains in the video below, Boomerang is a funky free app made by Instagram that lets you shoot a burst of photos then turns them into a four-second, looping, animated GIF.

I recently sent Kristi Hines a boomerang and somehow managed to make her day too.

If you’d like to use Boomerang to create some cool GIFs to engage with influencers online then follow these steps.

  • Create a Twitter list of influencers (I show you how to do this in the next example).
  • View your influencer Twitter list every day and find interesting tweets/content they have shared.
  • Go to the Boomerang app, create a boomerang (e.g., you putting your thumb up, waving, high-fiving, smiling, etc.), and save it.
  • Go back to the Twitter list and send the chosen influencers a direct tweet with the boomerang image and add a meaningful comment.

4. Create and engage with an influencer Twitter list

The noisy nature of Twitter makes it difficult to consistently keep up and engage with the right people. One highly effective way to get noticed by influencers on Twitter is to consistently engage with their content (every day is ideal).

Engage w/an influencer’s #content every day on #Twitter to stand out from the crowd says @dknowlton1
Click To Tweet

However, this can be time consuming, which is why you will love Twitter lists. They make it super easy and efficient to find and engage in a particular group of Twitter users’ content. Think of it as a customized Twitter feed that removes the noise.

I spend around 10 minutes a day engaging with influencers in my lists and it has helped me build long-lasting relationships with some big influencers.

Follow these steps to set up and engage with your influencer list in Twitter:

  • Create your list in Twitter. Go to your profile icon (top right), click and pick “lists” from drop-down menu.


Create a list name and description, and decide if you want the list to be public or private. I’d stick to private, as this means people you add to the list will not know you’ve added them. Click “save list.”

Note: Make sure the list name is not too long, as this can stop the list from saving.


  • Find relevant influencers to add to your list. Use the influencers from your round-up post. If you don’t write a round-up post, follow the same process in Followerwonk to identify target influencers.
  • Add the influencer to a Twitter list. In Twitter, click the profile of the influencer. Click the settings icon at the top right, click “add or remove from lists,” and add the influencer to the appropriate list.


  • Engage with your lists. Now this is the easy bit. Every day go to your lists and “like,” retweet, quote retweet, and reply to the content the influencers post. Make sure you add meaningful comments and ask questions — this will help you get noticed.

5. Share influencers’ content and tag them

Tagging influencers on Twitter when you share their content may sound simple, yet so many Twitter users still don’t do it. Tagging an influencer involves using their @ handle within a tweet when you share their content:


This strategy helps you get noticed because every time you tag an influencer on Twitter they receive a notification. If an influencer consistently sees someone supporting their content, the influencer is likely to remember that follower and have a positive opinion of the person.


The main thing to remember when trying to get noticed by influencers on Twitter is to be different and add value consistently. The strategies outlined in this tutorial will give you a head start on achieving this. I’d love to hear any effective strategies you have used to get noticed on Twitter in the comments.

Please note: All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team. No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).

Want to meet and learn from the influencers in content marketing? Register today for Content Marketing World Sept. 6-9.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

The post 5 Ways to Get Noticed by Influencers on Twitter appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.

02 Aug 16:55

How to Create Stories That Resonate

by Park Howell

Joe Pulizzi_InstagramListen Before You Speak

Do you know who you are writing for? Do you have realistic expectations for the time it takes to build an audience? Are you able to focus your energies into one platform at a time? Are you really writing for your audience?

Joe Pulizzi is a content mastermind. He’s an author, speaker, and the founder of Content Marketing Institute, which publishes the Chief Content Officer magazine and produces the premier international event for content marketing: Content Marketing World.

Joe talks to us about the how to tune into and write for your audience instead of yourself, the time is takes to develop your brand, and the art of staying simple. He is always looking for that greater connection, saying, “what I want is something that’s really going to make an impact, that’s truly compelling.”

In This Episode

  • Why it’s better to build your brand one channel at the time
  • How to understand the point of view of your audience and create for them
  • Why it’s important to surround yourself with a great team
  • How to recognize what your brand does best and grow step by step
  • Why it takes time to find and build up your audience
  • How to let go of strategies that are not helpful to your brand


Quotes From This Episode

“We’re trying to create better customers. We’re trying to create value outside of the products and services we offer, which is so difficult.” —@JoePulizzi

“You can’t necessarily write for yourself and your own passion. You have to focus on the needs of your audience and who that is. It’s easy for marketers to forget that.” —@JoePulizzi

“Anything that you’re trying to do, and you’re trying to build a loyal audience, it’s going to take time.” —@JoePulizzi

“Sometimes less is more, and that’s what we’ve really learned.” —@JoePulizzi (highlight to tweet)

“I think that first of all, people don’t give themselves enough credit. We’re all probably pretty decent storytellers in our own way when we have something compelling to talk about that we also have a passion for. I mean, how many people do you and I know that, they always have some story to tell and their eyes light up? And then, of course, we want to engage in that story. So, I think that it’s really finding the right things to talk about, to tell stories about.” —@JoePulizzi

“Content gets you to the audience and builds that relationship with the audience.” —@JoePulizzi (highlight to tweet)

“It’s the same thing with your storytelling. If you want somebody to be a part of that story, you just have to plan for it, ask for it, and then create some value exchange. It’s not rocket science, but we just always put those no’s in front of us before we even try to ask.” —@JoePulizzi


02 Aug 16:55

A 60 Minute Masterclass in Public Speaking: Hillary Clinton

by Maurice DeCastro


Hillary Clinton concluded the speeches of the 2016 Democratic National Convention with a brilliant masterclass in public speaking in just under an hour.

This is what we can take for her luminous speech:

1. What’s so important?

Your message is the lifeblood of your speech or presentation, it’s the number one thing you want your audience to remember and act on.

The clarity of your message will enable you to ensure that everything you plan to say is relevant, rich and rewarding for your audience.

In a campaign where many think that Donald Trump is dividing a nation and The Economist says “Donald Trump’s nomination in Cleveland will put a thriving country at risk of a great, self-inflicted wound”, Hilary Clinton’s message couldn’t be any clearer:

“Stronger Together”

Masterclass lesson

Before you do anything else make certain that you have a message which is short, potent and of significant value to your audience. It has to answer a very simple question, ‘What’s so important?’

2. Connect early

Earlier this week her husband gave a very emotional speech in the form of an alluring story designed to help the nation see the ‘real’ Hillary. It was the epitome of storytelling which I wrote about a few days ago, “I met a girl”: The Power of Storytelling in Public Speaking – Bill Clinton

Acknowledging the accolades her husband’s speech received, Hillary opened hers by making the perfect reference to it:

“And Bill, that conversation we started in the law library 45 years ago is still going strong.”

The millions of people who had listened to her husband’s speech would have made an instant connection with that one sentence, I know I did.

Masterclass lesson

Your job is to connect with your audience swiftly and smartly and if you can link that to something they already know it’s even more powerful.

3. Use history to reinforce your message

Referring to a momentous historic event which has relevance and value to your message can pay great dividends when the stakes are high in a public speech.

“My friends, we’ve come to Philadelphia – the birthplace of our nation – because what happened in this city 240 years ago still has something to teach us today.

Masterclass lesson

Creating a parallel between what is happening today and what we have learned from history can add great strength and credibility to your message.

4. Quote a hero

When your opposition’s campaign centres largely on fear and division and yours revolves around unity and hope it pays to quote one of your country’s favourite heroes: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

Masterclass lesson

If you can align your message to the words of someone your audience has enormous respect and admiration for they are likely to pay attention.

5. Contrast is good

Hillary Clinton knows that one of the many controversial features of her opponent’s campaign is that he wants to ‘build a wall’.

The idea seems to resonate with many people but she offers a completely different solution whilst retaining the concept of building.

“We will not build a wall. Instead, we will build an economy where everyone who wants a good paying job can get one.”

Masterclass lesson

Contrast can add another dimension to your speech especially when you take two completely opposite viewpoints yet bring them closer together.

7. Challenge falsehoods

When someone says that “our country is weak” and “I alone can fix it” and some people believe those words, that’s a challenge. You have to have the courage to confront the lunacy of the idea that one man alone is the solution.

“Those were actually Donald Trump’s words in Cleveland. And they should set off alarm bells for all of us.

Masterclass lesson

Don’t let people get away with saying senseless things that will inevitably do more harm than good. Address it simply, quickly and head on.

7. Give them an example

Your message may be perfectly clear to you and make a great deal of sense in your own mind but it doesn’t necessarily follow that it will be the same for your audience. The solution is to give them a clear example of what you mean.

The message is, “Stronger Together.”

Hillary Clinton’s example of that is:

“Look at what happened in Dallas after the assassinations of five brave police officers. Chief David Brown asked the community to support his force, maybe even join them.

And you know how the community responded? Nearly 500 people applied in just 12 days. That’s how Americans answer when the call for help goes out.”

Masterclass lesson

Don’t rely on your audience ‘getting’ your message just because you do. Give them examples, use similes, analogies or metaphors. Help them to see your message and not just hear it.

8. A little humility goes a long way

We all want strong, resilient and visionary leadership whether for it’s our country or workplace but we also like to see a sense of humility too.

“My grandfather worked in the same Scranton lace mill for 50 years. Because he believed that if he gave everything he had, his children would have a better life than he did.”

Masterclass lesson

When it comes to public speaking there is nothing worse than arrogance.

Whether you are the President of the USA or the Prime Minister of the UK, no one is ‘better’ than their fellow human beings and people respect and value that awareness.

9. Credibility counts

When an audience is listening to a speaker for an hour they have a right to know what qualifies that person to take up their valuable time and why they should listen to them.

“Now, sometimes the people at this podium are new to the national stage.

As you know, I’m not one of those people. I’ve been your First Lady. Served 8 years as a Senator from the great State of New York.

Then I represented all of you as Secretary of State.

But my job titles only tell you what I’ve done. They don’t tell you why.”

Masterclass lesson

Let your audience know and understand why you are an authority on the subject you are speaking on, but do so gracefully and without bragging.

10. Tell them about you

You could be the most knowledgeable, credible and experienced speaker in the world on any topic and whilst that’s important there is something far more important. Your audience want to see the real you.

“My mother, Dorothy, was abandoned by her parents as a young girl. She ended up on her own at 14, working as a house maid. She was saved by the kindness of others.

Her first grade teacher saw she had nothing to eat at lunch, and brought extra food to share. The lesson she passed on to me years later stuck with me: No one gets through life alone. ”

Masterclass lesson

Being prepared to be a little vulnerable and giving your audience a glimpse of who you really are and what makes you ‘tick’ is an extremely endearing quality.

11. Tell them stories

That’s how you build rapport.

It’s how you connect with people and that is how they make sense of things.

Hillary Clinton’s acceptance speech was full of relevant stories from start to finish. Here is one of my favourites:

I remember meeting a young girl in a wheelchair on the small back porch of her house. She told me how badly she wanted to go to school – it just didn’t seem possible. And I couldn’t stop thinking of my mother and what she went through as a child.”

Masterclass lesson

It doesn’t matter how interesting the information you have to share is, the human brain simply wasn’t built to be bombarded with facts and data. We connect through stories and if you don’t tell them you will lose your audience and they will lose your message.

12. Repetition has power

Notice how Hillary built up the intensity, rhythm and pace of her speech so often by the mindful use of repetition:

“If you believe that companies should share profits, not pad executive bonuses, join us. If you believe the minimum wage should be a living wage… and no one working full time should have to raise their children in poverty… join us.

If you believe that every man, woman, and child in America has the right to affordable health care…join us. If you believe that we should say “no” to unfair trade deals… that we should stand up to China… that we should support our steelworkers and autoworkers and homegrown manufacturers…join us.

Masterclass lesson

Using repetition in this way allows each point to build on the one before strengthening the message and increasing the speaker’s passion.

13. Make a promise

What better way is there of getting and keeping your audience’s attention than by making them a promise which is important to them.

“In my first 100 days, we will work with both parties to pass the biggest investment in new, good-paying jobs since World War II.”

Masterclass lesson

Whilst she may not have used the word ‘promise’ I believe that’s what people would have heard and an audience welcomes a clear and firm commitment from a speaker.

14. Make your position clear

If you believe that there is any scope whatsoever for doubt, confusion or misunderstanding on anything you say then you have to bring clarity.

“I’m not here to repeal the 2nd Amendment. I’m not here to take away your guns. I just don’t want you to be shot by someone who shouldn’t have a gun in the first place.”

Masterclass lesson

If you leave your audience in any doubt whatsoever about what your real intentions are you will lose them. Make sure you spell it out if you have to.

15. Trust the rhetorical question

Rhetorical questions add variety, impact and interest to a speech. Even though they don’t require your audience to answer it encourages them to think.

“Will we stay true to that motto?

Does Donald Trump have the temperament to be Commander-in-Chief?

How can we just stand by and do nothing?”

Masterclass lesson

Rhetorical questions are extremely powerful and can be hugely helpful in encouraging your audience to agree with you and stimulate them emotionally as well as intellectually.

16. Make them laugh

Politics is serious business I know especially when it comes to deciding on the leadership of one of the largest and most powerful nations on earth. That said, if people are going to invest an hour of their personal time listening to you I believe you owe it to them to make them smile and even laugh occasionally.

“Now, you didn’t hear any of this from Donald Trump at his convention. He spoke for 70-odd minutes – and I do mean odd.”

Masterclass lesson

Never underestimate the therapeutic effects laughter will have on your audience. It’s hard enough listening to someone speak on any topic for 20 minutes let alone an hour so it’s the very least we can do for them.

17. Speak with passion

Personally, I can’t imagine anything worse than a speaker trying to convince me to act, change or think differently if they aren’t totally passionate about their message themselves. We could choose any single quote from Hillary Clinton’s hour long speech and the one thing you can be certain of is that it is said with total passion and conviction.

Masterclass lesson

Passion is the jewel in every speaker’s crown, no exceptions. I don’t believe that anything good ever happens without it.

18. Close with your message

Every element of Hillary Clinton’s speech revolved around her key message of “Stronger Together”. She explained it, animated it and gave us the reason and facts to support it. She even closed with it:

“Yes, the world is watching what we do. Yes, America’s destiny is ours to choose. So let’s be stronger together, my fellow Americans. Let’s look to the future with courage and confidence. Let’s build a better tomorrow for our beloved children and our beloved country. And when we do, America will be greater than ever.

Masterclass lesson

As well as creating a first impression when you are speaking in public or presenting your audience will also remember the last impression you leave them with. Make sure it is completely congruent with you, your message and what you want them to remember.

These 18 lessons represent extremely valuable insights into high impact public speaking that we can take away from Hillary Clinton’s speech.

Is there more to learn?

Having been speaking publicly for decades I’m certain that she and her husband Bill will tell you there is plenty more to learn. In fact, it’s a never ending journey.

There is however a tremendous amount we can take from these 60 minutes alone and they leave us with a great place to start.

Watch the full speech here:

Image: Courtesy of

02 Aug 16:51

Why You Should Paint Pictures with Your Words When Selling


When you paint pictures with your words, your sales pitches are more interesting and more compelling. Your buyers can relate to you, your product, and your solution when you use metaphors.

Anne MDeb Calvert con Connect Radioiller, author of The Tall Lady with the Iceberg, shared techniques for creating a mental kaleidoscope and building your metaphor muscle. She says that if you paint pictures with your words, you’ll make more sales. It’s a fascinating interview and a different approach for many sellers. Tune in to this archived broadcast with your show host and on-air coach Deb Calvert.

An excerpt from Deb’s interview with Anne about how you can paint pictures with your words when selling

Deb:  “So help us out, tell us how metaphors help us to connect with our buyers. ”

Anne:  “Okay. We are all image junkies. All of us are attracted to images. We live in the world of the visual. That’s why people are into Facebook walls and YouTube videos. The brain doesn’t think without a picture. So, you want to leverage that in your sales and communication all the time. A study said that brains process visual 60,000 times faster than it does text. So why you’re explaining things to people or showing things to people on a presentation, the really great presenters understand that if you really want to connect with people and get them to instantly understand what you’re talking about, you have to balance out what you’re telling them by showing them something. Now you can do that on a visual or you can do it verbally. Just think about it, Deb… You walk down the street and run into someone you haven’t seen a long time. What goes through your mind as you begin to say, “Oh! I know you… I know you…” Is it words, numbers, or images? It’s always images, right? ‘Oh yeah, I know you, we were in second grade together.’ So your buyers are visual people, and if you are not tapping into that, you’re missing a huge opportunity to connect with them. Well, it’s not with more words, it’s not with more explanations, it’s with one really good dynamite visual, and that’s a metaphor and analogy. “

How’s that for a story! You can do the same and paint pictures with your words, too!

Be sure and listen to the rest of this high-energy interview with Anne Miller to get detailed information on why you should use metaphors and how you can paint pictures with your words. There’s no better way to maximize your windshield time than by listening to CONNECT! Online Radio for Sales Professionals™. Check out more interviews in the archives to cut out continuances, put an end to pending and stop stalling out in sales.

New Business Podcasts with CONNECT1 on BlogTalkRadio

The post Why You Should Paint Pictures with Your Words When Selling appeared first on People First.

02 Aug 16:50

Selling Is Change

by Anthony Iannarino

Many of your dream clients or prospects don’t really want to change. They want better results, but sometimes they don’t want to do what is necessary to produce those results—even when they recognize that they have a compelling reason to change, a problem worth solving.

Selling is about engaging in the process of change, and sometimes we have to change things that aren’t easily altered.

Changing the Investment

If your dream client could produce the results they needed with their current investment, they would already be achieving those results. Much of the time, your prospective clients are underperforming because they are underinvesting in the results they need.

Your prospect may be underinvesting without knowing it, and they may be exploring their options in hopes of finding someone who can help them produce the results they want while investing even less.

Without changing the investment, they will not generate new results.

Changing the Operations

If your prospective client could achieve the results by doing what they are doing now, they would be producing the results they want.

Many of your prospects will want to produce new and better results without having to change anything. They may not want to change their internal processes. They may also want a solution that looks very much like what they are doing now, with the only real change being the partner that have chosen to work with.

Without changing how they operate, they will continue to underperform.

Changing Beliefs and Assumptions

If your dream client’s beliefs were the correct beliefs, they wouldn’t need to change anything.

Sometimes you find you prospective clients with beliefs that don’t serve them. They don’t recognize that the assumptions they made years ago are no longer true, that things have changed. Their business model may be built on things that are no longer true. Or they don’t recognize just how far ahead of them their competitors are now when it comes to capabilities, choosing instead to believe that they are cutting edge, or close to it. Sometimes, they believe that their existing vendor is at fault and that they are blameless.

Selling well requires that you help your dream client make the changes necessary to produce the results they need. This isn’t easy when you have to change the investment they’re making, change how they operate, and especially when you have to change what they believe.

The post Selling Is Change appeared first on The Sales Blog.

02 Aug 16:50

How to Build Trust in Professional Services

by Jim Karrh

“We need our people to be recognized as trusted advisers building trust in professional services rather than as product peddlers.”

Is this something you have heard (or even said) in your business? I heard it again recently from a client whose business has changed dramatically in recent years. Its past reputation came from selling products; today most revenue comes from high-value services. In order to grow in the future, they need clients to trust their recommendations and ability to execute.

I find that many professionals have made “trust in professional services a key business goal, and they generally know plenty about their area of expertise. Yet many stumble due to wrong assumptions about both what trust in professional services really means to buyers as well as the most efficient path to build trustworthiness. The result is a slow descent into commoditization or simply looking and sounding like everyone else. Commoditization is the polar opposite of distinctiveness and the enemy of growth.

So how can professional service providers actually become trusted to a degree that helps them rise above the crowd? From my experience on the front lines plus research into consumer psychology, I have found that prospective clients have to answer two questions for themselves before granting you their trust: “Do you know what you’re doing?” and “Will you work in my best interest?”

When confident the answers are yes, those prospective clients’ belief system elevates to something like: “They are experts and good people. I believe that they will carefully consider my needs and keep up with needs as they change. They won’t treat me like part of a herd and won’t give me the same advice they’d give anybody else. They are not going to pass my work off to a junior person or outsource it to someone who doesn’t understand what I need. They wouldn’t sell me a product that wasn’t appropriate for me just because it’s profitable for them.”

Avoiding the “Trust in Professional Services” Trap

That is certainly what we want clients and prospects to believe. To get there, professional service providers must work in sequence through three levels of competency—and avoid two traps in the sequence.

Finding the Path to Trust in Professional Services

The first and most basic level involves Building Credibility. This is the realm of credentials, certification, and experience—attributes that show up on résumés and are searchable online when potential clients do their homework on you. Credentials are an area where many professional service firms focus their marketing. Yet these days your credentials are considered “table stakes,” or minimum requirements, by most prospects. The first Trustworthiness Trap I have seen is the belief that credibility alone is enough to earn trust in professional services and grow the business.

The second level involves Developing Relationships. Has your firm made a commitment to strategically cultivate and prioritize business relationships? I see high-performing firms that have committed to some form of customer relationship management (CRM) system. They have also developed an Ideal Client Profile that defines priorities for their business development and sponsorship activities.

On the other hand, I also hear from professionals who are frustrated with their prospect lists. One recently said about a longtime friend who pledged her business to a competing firm, “She likes us but is not going to invest with us.” You can have healthy personal relationships that never develop into business or referrals. The second Trustworthiness Trap is the belief that having relationships, even seemingly strong ones, will necessarily drive growth. In order to leap over that trap, you need to activate those relationships—for yourself and across the firm.

The third and highest level involves Mastery of Client Conversations. At that level, everyone close to your business (e.g., employees, current clients, those who can provide referrals) knows how to talk about the business. Everyone is equipped with brief, conversational language (not mission statements!) and stories to share—whether the opportunity is at a business conference, networking event, regular client meeting, or a social conversation in the stands at a game.

These three levels represent a progression for business growth with each new level building upon the previous one. Ultimately you and your colleagues can become credible, competent experts plus relationship builders plus skilled leaders of the client conversation.

You might think of this trust in professional services model as “Ready, Set, Go” for the business. The “Ready” part includes your credentials and relationships. With those at hand, getting “Set” means equipping everyone with the knowledge and tools for good client conversations. And “Go” means not only launching the initiative across the organization but also keeping it a priority over time.

Get it right, and you’ll be on the path toward more new clients, more services sold to existing clients, and greater client loyalty.

02 Aug 16:47

7 Terrific Tips for Turning Leads Into Sales

by Gary Galvin

A lead is always an opportunity to make a sale and win a new customer. Follow these tips to manage your marketing more efficiently.

1. Set Goals

Outlining what you want to achieve is a good driving factor for accomplishing your goals. Before you set a target, look at how many leads are successful right now and aim to improve this number over time. Seeing established aims in black and white will spur on your sales and marketing teams as they try to reach or even surpass targets.

2. Examine Missed Opportunities

Ascertaining why a prospect didn’t choose your company’s products or services is an excellent way to improve how you do business. When the reasons are identified, you can make positive changes to make the firm more appealing.

3. Liaise With Your Marketing Team

Sales and marketing are very much intertwined, and to get the best from both, there needs to be collaboration and discussions about what methods are turning leads into customers. Better communication between departments allows the teams to further develop their persuasive abilities.

4. Stay in Contact With Prospects

Remember, just because someone didn’t want to make a purchase at a moment in time doesn’t mean he will never be a customer. By keeping in contact with prospects, you increase the chance of selling to them in the future. It might be a good idea to email them every so often with details of carefully selected products or services.

5. Help Them to Buy

When interacting with potential customers, it’s imperative that you guide them into purchasing rather than pressuring them into buying a particular product. If you show that you understand their needs and make suitable suggestions, you are more likely to close a deal.

6. Anticipate Objections

Selling can be hard work at times, but with more preparation, success rates can be improved. During a sales call, a prospective customer may object to buying for different reasons, but if all the possible reasons are noted beforehand, your team can provide an apt solution at every hurdle.

7. Use the Right Tools

Software solutions are available that can increase customer acquisition through a number of tailored strategies. Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a tool that helps businesses gain a better understanding of their needs and preferences. Salesforce has a variety of solutions that can streamline your business processes, enabling you to get better results.

Better communication is always the starting point for progression, so formulate a good strategy, then run with it.

Source List:
02 Aug 16:47

How To Evaluate Software Integrations: 3 Important Considerations

by Matthew Cameron

We’ve all been there. You’re searching for a software product to enhance your marketing organization, and the first thing you investigate is whether the solution integrates with key components of your existing technology stack.

This makes sense. No one wants to deal with the consequences of implementing a product that is disconnected from other critical systems — duplicate data, manual work, and incomplete insights.

But there is also an important fact that many B2B buyers forget when evaluating software solutions:

Not all integrations are created equal.

The term “integration” itself is actually meaningless without context about the effort involved in setup, the use cases that the integration enables, and the workflows that the integration supports. Buying a software product for its integrations without having those details is like buying a used car without knowing the mileage: You know how it looks on the surface, but you don’t know how far it will take you.

So rather than looking for the software product whose website includes the most logos from your technology stack, here are three key points to consider when evaluating whether a software product’s integrations will help it fit into your marketing operation:

1) How much setup does the integration require?

Setting up an integration can be a very different experience depending on how exactly it was built. Consider a best case scenario:

Evaluate Software Integrations: Slack

Slack has a number of great integrations that only require a user’s authentication for initial setup.

If you’re integrating more complicated products, however, you’ll likely need to perform additional work to get the systems talking to one another. If this is the case, make sure the product you’re integrating has an interface that streamlines the process and eliminates the need for custom coding. For example, if you need to map values from one system to another in order to sync data then it is much easier to select the equivalent values from a pair of drop-down menus instead of writing a statement in SQL or some other programming language.

Evaluate Software Integrations: Dataloader has an interface that allows users to select the CSV column headers that correspond to fields in Salesforce so they can easily add data to their CRM.

2) How many use cases will the integration address?

An integration is only as valuable as the use cases that it addresses, so you should also be sure to ask vendors for specifics about what their integrations allow you to do.

Consider an example from the world of online survey software. Many providers of online survey software tout integrations with Salesforce that enable the creation of new records such as Leads and Contacts upon form submission, which is useful for ensuring that Salesforce includes a record of anyone who has responded to a survey or lead gen form.

However, some integrations from online survey software providers go beyond this basic functionality. For example, the Salesforce integration from FormAssembly enables other features such as creating and updating records based on conditional statements and pre-filling form fields with data from Salesforce. These features address additional use cases that are relevant for marketers. Conditionally creating records helps marketers minimize duplicate Leads and Contacts by creating new records only when they don’t already exist; pre-filling form fields helps marketers improve response rates by reducing the number of survey fields that recipients need to complete manually.

Evaluate Software Integrations: Salesforce Connector in FormAssembly

The Salesforce Connector in FormAssembly allows users to build surveys or other forms that create or update records in Salesforce based on conditional statements.

The important lesson here is that some integrations might actually make your life more difficult if they don’t address key use cases such as the minimization of duplicate Leads and Contacts. It’s necessary to dig into the details of any integrations to understand exactly how they’ll improve your marketing operation and why they’ll make the two products work better together than they would apart.

3) Does the integration require you to change existing processes?

Finally, it’s important to consider whether the features enabled by an integration will require you to change any existing processes or master new workflows.

For example, imagine implementing a new analytics tool that is meant to help your sales team access data about their key accounts. There are numerous analytics tools that connect directly to Salesforce to visualize data from within that system, but some of these tools require a user to access reports and dashboards within the analytics tool itself. For a salesperson accustomed to finding information within Salesforce, leaving that system and tracking down the right report in another software application can create friction.

That’s why many of these tools have built APIs that enable dashboards to be embedded directly within Salesforce objects to visualize data right where salespeople already spend their time.

Evaluate Software Integrations: Tableau

Tableau is an example of business intelligence software that integrates with Salesforce to embed reports in objects such as Accounts and Opportunities.

If you’re trying to drive adoption of a new software program and it doesn’t integrate in a way that fits with your team’s existing processes, implementation is likely to fail regardless of the actual functionality of the programs you’re integrating.

Integrations are not checkboxes

Ultimately, it’s not enough just to verify that a software product integrates with your technology stack — integrating is not about checking a box.

Rather, as a tech-savvy marketer you need to assess whether an integration is intuitive to set up, enables features that address your use cases, and fits within your team’s existing workflows. Any of the countless software integrations that don’t satisfy those criteria might actually be more trouble than they’re worth.

02 Aug 16:47

Why Generating More Leads is Only Half the Picture

by Shana Rusonis


Leads: the goal most B2B marketers optimize towards relentlessly. Hitting lead generation targets is key to increased budget, more headcount, and greater freedom to run more experimental campaigns. If marketers success and supply their sales team with enough leads, they’ve proved the value of the campaigns they’ve chosen to run.

But if you’re a B2B marketer and you’re only optimizing for lead quantity, you’re missing half the picture. Read on to learn which conversion metrics you need to monitor, which lead attribute you may be overlooking, and techniques to address the gaps.

The Optimization Opportunity for B2B Marketers

Optimization is the strategy that amplifies B2B marketing campaigns across all channels. By testing, personalizing, and integrating the digital touchpoints of the buyer’s journey, marketers can not only generate more leads, they can ensure that they’re delivering a best-in-class experience to their prospects and customers.

Tactically, website optimization is a critical strategy for ensuring that demand gen marketers are able to deliver more and more leads white maximizing the investment in customer acquisition.

In the context of a B2B marketing strategy, optimization might include techniques like:

You might even be experimenting with presentation of pricing on your website, or optimizing the free trial offer that you use to introduce prospective buyers to your product.

Each of these website optimization techniques might drive incrementally more leads, bringing you closer to hitting your monthly lead goal. Marketing has done its work, the Sales team is happy, more deals close, and the business grows.


The Metrics that Matter Besides Lead Volume

If you’re maniacally focused on hitting lead goals, you’re missing half the picture. Demand generation in B2B is about more than just filling a funnel with leads at the top. Lead volume doesn’t mean anything if your conversion rates down the funnel don’t rise as well.

What other conversion rates should you be concerned about? A website visitor becoming a lead is the first step. But once a visitor becomes a known lead in your marketing automation and CRM systems, make sure you’re tracking the following conversion rates as well:

  • Lead to MQL (marketing qualified lead) conversion rate
  • MQL to SQL (sales qualified lead) conversion rate
  • SQL to Opportunity conversion rate
  • Opportunity to Closed Deal conversion rate

A lead at the top of the marketing-sales funnel does not equal closed business—there are many more conversions and hurdles to jump before a lead becomes a new customer. For this reason, striving to hit growing lead targets may not actually be the best thing for your business.

As a conversion-oriented marketer, you need to focus on experiences that will not only bring prospects into your marketing-sales funnel, but on optimizations that will drive them through it.

For instance, here’s a series of conversion rates for a typical B2B software product:

If the website conversion rate were to increase from 7% to 8%, would the lead qualification rate hold at 36%, or dip below that? In that case, your new leads aren’t making it through to opportunities, which means you’re supplying your Sales team with lower-quality leads.

Conversely, if you were to tighten the requirements on leads you collect from your website, maybe your conversion rate dips to 6% or even 5%. But if your qualification rate rises, or better yet, your close rate increases, you’ll be in a much better situation of being able to hand over highly sought-after sales leads, even if the quantity is lower.

When making decisions about how to increase conversions and generate leads, you must consider the customer lifecycle holistically. A win at the first step of this process might cause problems later on. Ask yourself questions like:

  • If asking for less information on forms increases my conversion rate, will my Sales Ops team be able to enrich the lead with data from other sources, or score the lead so my sales team have enough information to effectively follow up with the new leads?
  • If visitors convert to leads as soon as they visit my website, are they ready to evaluate my solution and become a customer? If not, what is the best way to continue engaging and nurturing them over time?
  • Am I showing visitors content which is relevant to them, or am I deliberately making information more difficult to find so they’ll engage with a salesperson?

At each stage of the funnel, consider how you’ll be able to translate leads into successful customers. While generating more leads may be the initial goal, think about the tradeoffs you may make in lead quality, or other characteristics of customer fit that determine how successful they’ll be once they are a paying customer. These are all considerations that can be navigated through testing, and informed decisions can be made based on data that you collect from your own visitors, leads, and customers.

Of course, there are few strategies that can help optimize both lead quality and volume. To uncover these win-win tactics, you’ll need to download the Complete Guide to Optimizing Demand Generation to learn more.

02 Aug 16:47

The 3 C’s of Sales and Marketing Alignment (Smarketing)

by Trisha Winter

3 CsAre you on the path to smarketing maturity?

Everyone understands that sales and marketing alignment (or smarketing) is a good thing. But the reality is that most organizations are a ways off from the VPs of Marketing and Sales being besties. I believe if organizations truly understand the value and have a clear path to get there, it will happen. Enter the 3 C’s of Smarketing: Communication, Coordination and Collaboration.

Communication: Start creating purposeful dialogue between sales and marketing


Marketing and sales have to communicate to get their jobs done. But to start to create optimal efficiency, more detailed communication needs to happen. Organizations need to have clear definitions of what sales is looking for in a lead so that marketing can create campaigns accordingly, which is an awesome first step toward solid alignment. If you don’t yet have this, invite your counterpart to lunch and start the discussion. Bring data to review why some leads were followed up on and others weren’t. Look at new customers that went through the pipeline the fastest and keep an eye out for commonalities.

Once you have a common understanding, get it all down in writing so you have agreed upon definitions. Then make sure you can track to these stages and measure conversions from lead to sales accepted (or Sales Qualified Lead – SQL). Ideally, you’ll also have a stage in between for Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) so that marketing can scrub out anything that clearly doesn’t meet the qualifications of what sales wants before you send the leads over the wall.

Coordination: Continually optimize the outcome of sales and marketing efforts


Once you’ve got clear lead definitions, it’s time to create a feedback loop for continuous improvement. This means getting sales and marketing leadership together on a regular basis to review results and make changes in lead definitions or even campaign spend according to the feedback. Many organizations do this on a quarterly basis as “QBRs” or “Interlocks”.

No matter what fancy name you give to these meetings, make sure both departments understand the purpose and what they need to bring to the meeting. These meetings become worthless after 1-2 sessions if it is just marketing showing data and asking for feedback from sales. BOTH sides need to come with data and be prepared to explain what the data is saying.

Here’s how. Create some dashboard reports that both teams can access for the following data:

  • Highest and lowest performing campaigns for the quarter in terms of SQLs, Opps and Closed Won (6 different reports)
  • Highest and lowest performing inside sales reps (or telemarketers) for the quarter in terms of conversions to SQLs, Opps and Closed Won (6 different reports)

Both parties should analyze this data before the coordination meeting and come prepared with feedback from their teams on why they think those were the results. Having the analysis and team input take place before the meeting (from both sides) will make these meetings more successful. As you mature in this process, you may be able to set goals for conversion rates and use that as a bar to analyze what campaigns over or under performed.

Collaboration: Get significant revenue growth by working toward the same goal


So now that you have great communication and you are meeting regularly to obtain coordination, what more could you possibly achieve? The answer is collaboration. In this stage, the lines between marketing and sales start to intentionally get fuzzy. Marketing starts doing things that fall in the sales realm and sales starts getting involved in marketing programs, otherwise known as smarketing. With smarketing, the offices of the VPs of Sales and Marketing are next door to each other and they might even report to a centralized executive like a Chief Revenue Officer responsible for both marketing and sales.

While this may sound like a scary alternative dimension, when you start smarketing, it’s totally awesome! This stage means the end to the blaming as sales and marketing are truly working together to achieve the mutual goal of growing the company. Marketing bonus plans are on revenue, not leads. There is mutual respect, because these groups are in tight alignment.

So how can a company achieve this nirvana? It’s actually a lot easier than you might think. At the heart of smarketing collaboration is sales and marketing working together on a common program. This means designing the program together, promoting it together and tracking results together. This is the essence of smarketing.

The most effective program to achieve smarketing collaborative alignment is a referral marketing program. While sales already gets that referrals are their highest quality lead, most sales folks don’t ask often enough or have a “give-get” to offer. With help from marketing through a referral marketing program, sales can not only get more referrals, but turn referrals into their most productive lead source. In fact, data from the referral marketing programs running on the Amplifinity referral platform shows an average conversion from lead to purchase of 35%.

This conversion rate is possible through referral software that enables collaboration between sales and marketing by integrating into the sales CRM to allow marketing to create the brand message for the program and sales to help execute on it. This enables marketing to extend its lead generation team to customers or partners who can connect your message to target buyers in their networks.

Bottom line – This scalable personalized lead generation works so well because it is backed by both marketing AND sales.

If you’d like to learn more about achieving smarketing, I recommend this paper from Marketing Profs: How to Climb to Smarketing Success: A maturity model for sales and marketing alignment.

02 Aug 16:47

8 Signs That a Salesperson Isn't Cut Out For the Job

by Adam Honig


As sales managers, it’s not only our job to coach reps to sell smarter, faster, and better (perhaps with an app like Spiro), but also to help recognize those team members who want nothing more than to get out of sales. ASAP.

No matter the reason a rep may be wrong for sales, you have to sometimes accelerate their exit strategy to both their own and the team's benefit.

Here are some sure signs that a salesperson doesn’t belong in sales.

1) They take everything personally.

Sales is a competitive, emotionally challenging profession. If someone on your team is easily offended, they should resign immediately. Not only will they not be able to handle the prospects who hang up on or otherwise dismiss them, but they probably won’t be able to take your constructive criticism either.

2) Rejection slows them down.

Salespeople hear “no” more often than they hear “yes.” It’s just part of the job.

Your reps need to be able to get over not only the fear of rejection, but also be able to throw themselves the world’s shortest pity party when things don't out they way they'd hoped and move on to the next opportunity.

I like to remind my sales team that sometimes the actual sale doesn’t even begin until the prospect says “no.” Objections are the sign of a buyer seriously considering your offering, after all. 

3) They are always job searching.

It’s a smart idea to always have your resume updated, especially in the sales world where you could be great one quarter and gone the next. But if you catch a rep on your team perusing open jobs often, then sales may not be for them.

Sales takes commitment -- to follow up, to close deals, and to make their clients successful -- so salespeople need to be committed to the profession and company as well. Someone with one foot out the door clearly isn't committed. 

4) They don’t make the ask.

I’m not sure why certain reps simply can't bring themselves to ask their buyers if they have a deal (maybe it's something psychological?). But what I am sure of: That type of fear doesn’t fly in sales.

If you have a rep on your team that just won’t make the final ask for whatever reason, it’s a sign they aren’t in the right job.

5) There is no sense of urgency.

It doesn’t have to be (and really shouldn't be) an urgency emergency filled with frantic closings. However, your salespeople should have a level of drive to get that deal done -- and the next one after that, and the next one after that.

If your rep isn’t on a call or in a meeting with a prospect, then they should be researching the next buyer, or sorting through their inbound leads. Surfing the web and hanging out at the water cooler is not for salespeople. 

6) They hate other salespeople.

As a sales manager, you are trying to build a team. And if the "players" on your team don’t like each other? Your life gets a lot more difficult.

If one of your reps is always bad-mouthing their fellow reps or the sales profession in general, then they should take a long look in the mirror. Not only should reps have an appreciation for the sales culture that will bring them success, but they should like their coworkers. 

7) Money isn’t important to them.

Money may be considered the root of all evil by some, but it’s also the root of all sales. If generating revenue for the company and making money on a personal level doesn’t motivate your team members, you are going to have a hard time finding ways to keep them going.

At the end of the day, the role of a salesperson is to make their company money, so you need a sales team that wants to execute on this goal -- and make money for themselves along the way.

8) They are pessimistic.

Do your sales reps take mistakes and learn from them, or wallow in the defeat?

If you are trying to build a sales dream team, you need positive players on the court. Success in sales requires irrational optimism. If you have pessimists on your team, they are never going to be able to deal with the daily rejection and stress of sales. Only optimists can be true salespeople.

What other warning signs tip you off that a salesperson isn't cut out for the job? Share your thoughts in the comments.

HubSpot CRM

02 Aug 16:46

Metrics to Help You Track Brand, Demand, and Expand

by Nicki Howell

Marketing, as an industry, sometimes does what Kevin Bobowski, Act-On’s CMO, calls “putting old wine in new bottles.” Exhibit A might be content marketing, which has become a very popular term since about 2011.

This is a screenshot of the increased interest in content marketing in recent years. Whether it’s content marketing or event marketing, what are the marketing metrics your CEO cares about?

Content marketing as a practice, however goes back a long way. Marketing agency nDash wrote a funny blog post noting how Benjamin Franklin used content to grow his personal and business brands:

“Benjamin Franklin could be seen as one of the founding fathers of content marketing. His monthly magazine, annual Poor Richard’s Almanac and various other printings all served to establish him as an authority and help grow his printing press business. One Franklin quote that all content marketers should know is: ‘Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.’”

In 1895, John Deere launched The Furrow, an agricultural journal for farmers. It’s probably the longest-running example of content marketing we have. It was educational, with the goal of helping farmers be more successful … the quintessential definition of content marketing. Even today The Furrow retains its original editorial mission. It’s also expanded to 14 languages for a global audience, and has a very sophisticated online presence, including video.

Regardless of the century, marketers are faced with the same question from CEOs – “What type of return are we getting from this marketing activity?”

The old adage says that “To measure is to know.” When communicating the value of content marketing, if we are armed with valuable metrics, then it’s easier to tell the story of success.

But what are the marketing metrics your CEO wishes he or she had that would truly show an impact?

Start with the business goal

Two-thirds of marketers create content without a documented strategy, according to the Content Marketing Institute. So first of all, ensure there’s a strategy in place, and that the strategy is closely aligned with the business goals. Results will be easier to measure and have more impact if they’re tied closely to the goals important to your CEO.

The exact metrics that you use, however, will vary based on your unique business goals. So let’s examine what this may look like for your company.

1. Business Focus: BRAND

Perhaps the business goal is to grow brand awareness or more positive brand sentiment. Here are a few examples of how real brands are succeeding and measuring their success.

Airbnb: Creating Awareness

What they did: Airbnb created a campaign to showcase the types of experiences you can have using their service. They used #treehouseTuesday on Instagram, where they posted photos of actual listings where you can spend the night in a real treehouse.

This screenshot the instagram campaign Airbnb conducted for #treehouseTuesday

Since its inception, the campaign has been very successful. The post below generated over 800 likes and helped to build more brand awareness.

This is an example of a very successful post in the Treehouse Tuesday campaign

Key takeaway: If you’re measuring “likes” and “comments,” make sure that your strategy is focused on engagement and building brand awareness. Otherwise it’s more of a quantity metric instead of a quality metric.

LivePerson: Thought Leadership

What they did: LivePerson, an online voice and chat solution provider, wrote the eBook “The Future of Digital Engagement: 10 Thought Leaders Share Predictions for 2014.” The goal of this effort was to create thought leadership in their industry by compiling the voices of influencers to create a predictions piece (a highly popular type of content).

This image shows LivePerson's The Future of Digital Engagement Campaign

The company set out to create thought leadership, and they generated enough exposure to win the “Killer Content Award” for Best Influencer Campaign from Demand Gen Report.

Key takeaway: Partner with influencers to expand your reach and results. Then present metrics that are appropriate for influencer campaigns, such as number of shares, mentions and engagement – and in this case, awards, to strengthen your results.

Toshiba: Measuring Engagement

What they did: Toshiba created its “Smart Community” to leverage social content to promote awareness about its renewable energy solutions. They optimized the platform with specialized keywords to boost SEO performance and increase rankings.

This image depicts Toshiba's Smart Community campaign

The company generated over 347,000 global followers on LinkedIn through this campaign.

Key takeaway: Create content portals focused on issues and pain points that resonate with your target audience, and then measure the change in engagement across all platforms.

Measurement Tips: 4 Brand Metrics to Watch

The above examples give you a few ideas of how to measure and present results, but here are four more to consider when working on brand awareness.

  1. Message pull through. How often a particular term, phrase, or reference is made (perhaps tied to a specific campaign/launch); used to measure effectiveness of positioning statement.
  2. Share of Voice. Measure how the market talks about your industry. How much of the conversation is about you, and how much is about your competitors?
  3. Sentiment Tracking. Measure how customers feel about the brand through looking (via analytics tools) at the various social media channels and what customers are saying in the comments section to monitor sentiment about your brand.
  4. Thought Leadership Engagement. Measure influencer mentions, total attention time, and total social actions.

2. Business Focus: DEMAND

Another common business goal for B2B marketers is to create content that will generate leads, and ultimately impact the bottom line. Here are a few examples of companies that used content to generate leads.

ADP: Capturing Leads through White Papers

What they did: ADP decided to leverage their expertise in human capital management to create white papers featuring high-value content. They measured results by the amount of revenue produced by each lead.

This screenshot shows how ADP utilizes white papers to generate leads

As a result of this white paper campaign, they generated $1 million worth of new sales opportunities for ADP within the first month alone.

Key takeaway: Carefully track the number of leads generated by gated assets, conversions to sales, and the associated dollar amount of revenue. Note which channels produce leads and which produce revenue; they may not be the same.

Cisco: Measuring Product Launch

What they did: Cisco developed a new router and decided to use it as a case study to measure and understand the ROI of their marketing efforts. Unlike previous campaigns, they launched it using only social media to understand its potential impact.

This is a screenshot of Cisco's product launch campaign.

After measuring the results, they found the company shaved six figures off its launch expenses, setting a precedent for future launches.

Key takeaway: When possible, remove all factors from the equation (except those you’re measuring) for more compelling results.

DemandBase: Coordinate Your Channels

What they did: DemandBase is a marketing technology provider serving B2B brands. The company used white papers, infographics, and SlideShare along with links to webinars to source new leads.

The company measured the results of this content and found that these combined efforts generated 1,700 leads and were responsible for connecting with 125 webinar viewers. As a result, it generated $1 million in new revenue through content marketing efforts.

Key takeaway: Deploy integrated campaigns that maximize your results through a variety of assets. DemandBase combined the power of white papers, infographics and SlideShare across multiple channels to amplify their results.

Measurement Tips: 4 Demand Metrics to Watch

  1. Marketing-generated leads. Of all the leads that you attract to the top of the funnel, how many convert to the next stage, giving you permission to market to them? Or to ask a further question: how many of these does marketing deem worthy of working with (marketing accepted leads).
  2. Sales-qualified leads (SQL). Once marketing has accepted and nurtured leads, and deemed them ready for sales, how many does sales accept and deem “opportunities”?
  3. Win rate. Of all the leads from all the activities that become closed sales and generate revenue, what percentage close?
  4. Win rate sourced from marketing. And what percentage are sourced from marketing?

Extra credit: Cost per lead, and customer acquisition cost.

3. Business Focus: EXPAND

The “expand” concept covers retention, expansion, upsell and cross-sell, advocacy and retention. While it’s the most lucrative area of business, by some measures, it’s often the least attended to.

Retention is a live issue before the digital ink is dry on the contract. According to a survey conducted by SaaS metrics company Preact, 23 percent of customers churn due to poor onboarding. This is especially true when you have a fairly complex service, so it’s important to frontload the delivery of educational content. In addition, understanding how new signups are interacting with content is critical. Here’s an example of a company that used content and metrics to significantly decrease churn and expand their growth.

Groove: Uncovering Why Customers Leave

What they did. Groove (SaaS startup sales acceleration solution) had a 4.5 percent churn rate and wanted to decrease this metric by understanding, “Why did this particular customer quit?”

Screenshot of Groove's website.

They decided to research customer behavior and understand the specific factors that were responsible for churn. They called these factors “red flag metrics.” They found that:

  • Customers who discontinued using the company’s products typically stayed in their first session for only 35 seconds.
  • Customers churning were spending much longer to complete tasks than the average customer.

The company used these two pieces of information to identify high-risk users. They took action by sending emails to high risk users, which offered additional help with processes that might be difficult. The results of these emails was very high, with a 26 percent response rate. Of those customers that responded, 40 percent stayed with the company after 30 days.

Pro tip. If you’re launching a new email customer campaign, exclude 10 percent of recipients as a control group so you can say with confidence that the customer’s actions were a result of the campaign, and they wouldn’t have taken the same actions even if they hadn’t received the emails.

Measurement Tips: 5 Expand Metrics to Watch

  1. Greater retention, less churn. Are your customers satisfied enough to keep you as their vendor?
  2. Increased customer lifetime value. Customers who stay longer add exponential value.
  3. Increased up-sells to an existing customer base. Are your customers successful enough to use more of your product? Are they sold on your company enough to look to you first when they buy a new product?
  4. Do your customers like you enough to say nice things about you in public – without being paid to do that?
  5. Do you customers like you enough to refer their friends and cohort to you? Referrals are easier to close and worth more, so the investment you make to cultivate referrers is well worth it.

Bonus: Which of your customer persona are the most profitable?

Sharing Your Story through Marketing Metrics

Use content marketing metrics to tell a story and illustrate the before-and-after statistics for greater impact. For example, the website bounce rate may have been high in the past, but this rate may have sharply declined since you launched your new blog.

Providing concrete metrics that tell a story and directly tie to results will help you move past the generalities such as “likes” and “shares” and illustrate how these metrics relate to your company’s business goals.

What metrics do you use to demonstrate success of your content marketing efforts? Please share.

Top-performing marketing leaders understand the need to allocate their time and resources across the entire spectrum of marketing, acknowledging that an effective marketing strategy goes well beyond just driving demand for sales. Download Act-On’s eBook, Rethink Marketing [Automation], to learn how you can leverage marketing automation to help build your brand equity, drive demand and expand your customer relationships.

30 Jul 17:53

How to Ensure You Have Qualified Leads for Your Sales Pipeline

by Will Humphries

Salespeople typically understand that a “sales pipeline” is the progression of contacts through the various stages of a selling cycle. However, few probably take the time to reflect on the actual meaning of the word “pipeline”.

Think about the role pipes play in ushering water, oil and other liquids from one point to another. If you get dirt, grime and other undesirable contents in the pipe, it becomes clogged, backed up and eventually stalled.

Consider the same impact poor, unqualified leads can have on the pipeline through which your contacts travel.

Identifying a Clog

Ideally, you execute effective qualifying processes and lead nurturing activities such that you never face a pipeline bottleneck. However, the sales funnel view in a typical CRM program is often a good place to start to identify potential clogs.

If your funnel is overflowing at the prospecting stage, for instance, you have challenges with making initial contacts and qualifying your leads.

Creating a Steady Flow

Qualifying prospects is at the heart of a healthy lead generation system.

First, you need to paint a clear picture of the types of prospects that fit with each of your solutions. Doing so establishes the types of buyers that could flow through your pipeline in the most efficient way.

When you know who to target, you qualify by asking questions that allow you to detect whether a buyer fits well into your pipeline.

Imagine trying to stuff steak, hamburger or bones down your waste disposal. These items would quickly clog up your plumbing pipes.

In the same way, you need high-quality leads that fit seamlessly into the opening of your pipeline.

Continue with Lead Nurturing

After you create a clean start for your sales pipeline with qualified leads, you shift to lead nurturing. This process of garnering further interest in your solutions from qualified buyers helps maintain a steady pipeline flow.

During lead nurturing, you may encounter buyers that aren’t prepared or able to buy. (Read this post about what to do when your prospect says “I’m not interested”). Ushering these contacts off to the side (perhaps through a branch in your pipeline) ensures efficient progression with high-quality prospects.

With the remaining prospects, the use of content marketing and initial sales communication are paramount in continuing their path toward the conversion stages of your pipeline.

A healthier sales pipeline that runs more efficiently is a boost to the psyche of a talented sales professional.


Converting qualified leads receives much of the attention in the salesperson’s role. However, getting appointments with high-quality prospects is critical to a healthy lead generation system and sales pipeline. Clogging your pipeline from the start creates even greater messages and inefficiencies down the road.

One way to avoid clogs is to partner with a company that specialises in appointment setting with your target market.

Internal Results manages the appointment setting phase of your lead generation so your team can focus on the rest of the pipeline.

28 Jul 19:12

Hiring the Wrong VPs of Sales, Over and Over

by Dave Stein

I’ve written a lot recently about salespeople. (Key in “hiring” into the search box on my blog or look at my recent posts on LinkedIn.)

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to provide my opinion to CEOs, CFOs, boards of directors, private investors, private equity partners, and venture capitalists about what was really going on within their (portfolio) companies’ dysfunctional sales departments.

Sales managers and VPs, and the people that hire them, are the subject of this discussion.

Just a note. I love salespeople, sales managers, and their bosses, the VPs of sales. It’s a tough job. This post isn’t about those who get the job done. (Read my book if you’d like to see what that looks like.) For this post, I just want to help those executives who seem to keep on hiring those VPs of sales who can’t get the job done. (And please, stop promoting your best sales rep to VP of Sales.)


Considering the average tenure of sales VPs these days, which is

far less than two years,

one can create a timeline for a newly-hired VP who just isn’t going to work out long-term:

(Read the rest of the post here, on LinkedIn.)

28 Jul 19:12

Improve Candidate Experience and Quality of Hire with Call Center Simulations

by Suzanna Colberg

Call center simulation

Noted organizational psychologist Suzanne C. Thompson has argued that a sense of personal control is critical in helping us maintain a sense of stability and navigate our way through life.

The talent selection process is no different, and multimedia job simulations offer companies a unique opportunity to glean valuable information about the skills, knowledge, and abilities of their applicants while giving candidates an increased sense of autonomy in the job application process.

Enhancing the Candidate Experience with Call Center Simulations

Candidates perform better and experience the hiring process more favorably when they feel in control. The Society of Industrial Organizational Psychologists points out that it benefits employers to think about the selection process from a candidate’s perspective since candidates have the power to communicate a negative or positive perception of your organization to their professional and social networks.

This, the researchers write, means giving the candidate an opportunity to perform and show what they know.

Call center simulations offer the best of both worlds by giving candidates the chance to perform the job while providing employers with valuable information about the candidates’ skills, knowledge and abilities. By mimicking the tasks of a call center job – from training classes to learning a new software program to interacting with different customer personalities – these types of multimedia job simulations allow candidates to feel a sense of control and autonomy.

Counter to multiple choice tests, interactive call center simulations allow candidates to gain a sense of mastery and progress throughout the process while demonstrating proficiency in:

  • Multi-tasking
  • Data entry accuracy
  • Computer ability
  • Service/sales orientation

Additionally, they allow candidates to learn job-relevant patterns, apply them, modify them, and use them to navigate the test.

Give Your Candidates the Experience They Want, and Your Recruiters the Info They Need

With the scales in the employment market tipping in favor of the candidate, today’s applicants expect and demand an engaging, relevant candidate experience.

We’ve talked before about the many things today’s applicants are looking for in a candidate experience. One major component missing from many high-volume hiring processes, though, is the opportunity for candidates to showcase their job-relevant skills, knowledge and abilities in a meaningful way.

A recent Talent Board survey demonstrated the gap in what candidates need, and the proportion of employers who are giving it to them. The survey pointed out that while over 80% of candidates answer general screening questions during the application process, only 50% are asked for job-specific skills, and less than a third are asked to take assessments.

Call center simulations, on the other hand, make it easy for hiring managers to give candidates the experience they want while gleaning the information they need to determine not just whether a candidate has the right skillset, but whether or not he or she will be a good fit for the organization’s culture. By observing how candidates perform in an environment that emulates that of the organization – down to the types of customers candidates will be dealing with – hiring managers can select candidates who demonstrate the highest likelihood of success.

multimedia simulations, contact center hiring, pre-hire assessments, contact center agents, hiring for contact centers, using job simulations for hiring

28 Jul 19:11

A new discovery inside Jupiter’s Great Red Spot could solve a mystery that’s plagued scientists for decades

by Graham Flanagan and Jessica Orwig

Astrophysicists recently discovered that Jupiter's Great Red Spot is extremely hot. This new discovery could help explain a mystery that's plagued scientists for decades. Read more about the discovery in Nature.

Follow BI Video: On Twitter

Join the conversation about this story »

28 Jul 19:09

Are You Looking to Make a Sale or Create a Customer?

by Daniel Newman
Put sales on the backburner, and focus on increasing your customer lifetime value.
28 Jul 19:09

11 psychological tricks restaurants use to make you spend more money

by Business Insider

restaurant steaks meal

When you head to a restaurant, you might have your heart — or stomach — set on a particular dish.

Or, you might be a little more open to suggestion.

That's the opportunity menu engineers and consultants are looking for. Behind the scenes, before you're even thinking of dinner, they put careful thought into the way you choose what foods you eat.

Here are 11 of the sneakiest psychological tricks restaurants use to make you spend more money:

SEE ALSO: 9 tips to save money on food, from the woman who wrote the book on eating for $4 a day

1. They don't use dollar signs

A dollar sign is one of the top things restaurants should avoid including on a menu, because it immediately reminds the customers that they're spending money.

According to research from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, guests given a menu without dollar signs spent significantly more than those who received a menu with them. Guests spent less even when the prices were written out with words instead of numbers, such as "ten dollars," which still triggered the negative feelings associated with paying.

2. They are tricky with their numbers

Menu designers recognize that prices that end in 9, such as $9.99, tend to signify value but not quality. In addition, prices that end in .95 instead of .99 are more effective because they feel "friendlier" to customers. Most restaurants just leave the price without any cents at all because it makes their menu cleaner, simpler, and to the point.

3. They use extremely descriptive language

Research from Cornell University revealed that items described in a more beautiful way are more appealing to and popular with customers. According to further research from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, descriptive menu labels raised sales by 27%, compared with food items without descriptors.

On an NBC "Today" show interview, menu engineer Gregg Rapp poses an example of Maryland-style crab cakes. They are described as "made by hand, with sweet jumbo crab meat, a touch of mayonnaise, our secret blend of seasonings, and golden cracker crumbs for a rich, tender crab cake." This brings the ultimate sensory experience to the reader, and the descriptive labeling will make customers more likely to be satisfied at the end of the meal.

Interestingly, brand names in menu descriptions also help sales, which is why chain restaurants such as T.G.I. Friday's use Jack Daniel's sauce or Minute Maid orange juice on their menus. The more adjectives, the better.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider
28 Jul 19:08

4 Ways to Crack the Code for SaaS Sales

by Daniel Saks
An effective sales model is what drives revenue for a sustainable business.
28 Jul 18:59

Turkish authorities to shut down dozens of media outlets in ongoing purge of public institutions

by Erin Cunningham, Washington Post

ISTANBUL – Turkey’s government has ordered the closure of dozens of media outlets — including news agencies, television channels, radio stations and newspapers — as part of its widespread crackdown in the wake of a failed coup attempt on July 15.

Authorities have suspended thousands of people working in the country’s judicial, education, health and financial sectors. But the move against media outlets escalated a campaign against journalists in a country that had once been hailed as a model of democracy in the region.

Nearly 90 reporters and columnists have been ordered detained this week, a decision the rights group Amnesty International called a “brazen attack on press freedom.”

The decree from Turkey’s cabinet of ministers to close the outlets was published late Wednesday in the country’s Official Gazette. A state of emergency enacted after the coup attempt allows Turkey’s executive to issue decrees, which are then sent to parliament for approval.

Earlier Wednesday, prosecutors issued detention orders for nearly 50 journalists and media figures tied to the Zaman newspaper, which was shut down at the request of local prosecutors in March. Forty-two journalists and columnists from various media outlets were also ordered detained Monday.

Zaman, which had been Turkey’s largest daily, was believed to be tied to Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a rival to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The president and his supporters have accused Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the United States, of orchestrating the coup, which saw more than 200 people killed.

Turkey has said it will formally ask the United States to extradite Gulen, who has denied involvement.

A band of rogue military officers seized combat aircraft, blocked bridges and fired on unarmed protesters demonstrating against the takeover. The government survived the violent putsch attempt but has since launched a devastating purge of Turkey’s security institutions and bureaucracy.

Petros Karadjias / AP Photo
Petros Karadjias / AP PhotoJournalists gather outside a courthouse to support a colleague arrested in connection with the failed military coup.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch warned this week that the detention or suspension of thousands of bureaucrats, judges, journalists and others is “an unvarnished move for an arbitrary, mass and permanent purge of the civil service.”

On the detention of scores of journalists, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Europe, Gauri van Gulik, said Turkey’s government “is failing to make a distinction between criminal acts and legitimate criticism.”

“Rather than stifling press freedom and intimidating journalists into silence, it is vital that Turkish authorities allow the media to do their work,” she said, “and end this draconian clampdown on freedom of expression.”

The decree Wednesday targeted three news agencies, 16 television channels, 23 radio stations and 45 newspapers. Many of these companies are local or regional outlets.

Turkey’s government pins the coup on a shadowy network of Gulen sympathizers operating overseas and in the country, including in the media and a host of state institutions. The movement’s infiltration of the military’s officer corps is said to have given the coup plotters the critical mass needed to launch their failed bid to take over the state.

On Wednesday, Turkey also discharged more than 2,400 military personnel for “complicity in the attempted coup,” a senior Turkish official said.

The dismissed personnel included 1,200 commissioned officers from the navy, air and land forces. The Turkish armed forces said that 8,651 personnel — or 1.5 percent of the military — participated in the abortive coup and that the rebel faction used 35 planes, 37 helicopters, 74 tanks and three ships during the operation.

Adem Lemonade Altan / AFP, Getty Images
Adem Lemonade Altan / AFP, Getty ImagesScarves with the effigy of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a rally against the military coup in Ankara.

The government also ordered that the coast guard and the gendarmerie, the security force tasked with keeping the peace in rural areas, be removed from military control and be placed under the jurisdiction of the Interior Ministry, which is administered by civilian leadership. An Al Jazeera Turk report indicated that authorities will take the further drastic step Thursday of ordering the closure of all military high schools — once pillars of the Turkish state — across the country.

The coup attempt took place over about 12 hours from the night of July 15 to the morning of July 16, when the rogue soldiers surrendered to citizens and police who had fought back against the takeover. Pro-coup pilots had used combat aircraft to bomb Turkey’s parliament and presidential palace. The country’s top leaders, however, emerged unscathed.

Since then, authorities have embarked on a massive campaign to detain, arrest and suspend tens of thousands of government employees for alleged links to the plot. Turkey’s opposition parties have condemned the coup but are also warning against further repression.

“Those who are innocent should not be thrown into the fire with those who are guilty,” Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the head of the leftist Republican People’s Party (CHP), told the Associated Press on Tuesday.

28 Jul 18:23

B.C. investigators say they are aware of 26 ‘baby houses’ as birth tourism from China booms

by Pamela Fayerman and Bob Mackin, Postmedia News

Health ministry investigators are aware of more than two dozen so-called birth houses in B.C. offering pregnant foreign mothers temporary room and board before and after giving birth in local hospitals, according to Freedom of Information documents obtained by Postmedia.

The baby houses, as they are called in Asia, are used by women seeking instant Canadian citizenship for their newborns. 

The internal briefing document, titled Birth by Non-B.C. Residents, was created in response to a Vancouver Sun story last year about the three-fold increase since 2009 of non-resident births.

A department in Victoria called the Audit and Investigations Branch, Eligibility, Compliance and Enforcement Unit (ECEU) knows about 26 private residences offering hospitality services to foreign pregnant women. It said the residences are used by two groups.

The first includes those in Canada on a temporary resident document, such as a tourist visa, work or study permit. They come to deliver a baby “who by birth is then granted Canadian citizenship status.” They do not access Medical Services Plan-funded benefits and “they declare themselves as self-pay at hospitals and to doctors.”

The second category includes permanent residents properly enrolled in MSP, but at some point cease to meet the definition under the Medicare Protection Act. They return to their country of origin but remain enrolled in the MSP. They then return to B.C. to have a baby and since they still have MSP coverage, bills related to the mother and baby are billed to the plan. They stay long enough to obtain a birth certificate, a Canadian passport and enrolment in MSP for the baby before returning to their country of origin.

The ECEU conducts regular reviews of individuals who cease to meet the definition of a resident under the Medicare Protection Act, according to the documents. The next paragraphs were censored by government for fear of harm to law enforcement. The documents say the cost of non-resident births was $693,869.20 in the 2014-2015 fiscal year: 

“The health authorities recover approximately 50 per cent of their amount outstanding, Pharmacare and MSP costs are recovered by the Ministry of Finance.”

Investigators have found no evidence of “forged or counterfeit” Care Cards or B.C. Services Cards, nor did they find evidence to warrant a referral to law enforcement.

Earlier this month, Postmedia reported 295 of the 1,938 babies born at Richmond Hospital for the year ended March 31 were delivered to foreign Chinese mothers. According to the documents, the number of non-resident births at Richmond Hospital “increased dramatically” beginning in 2011. Non-resident births at hospitals in the Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) region account for 1.5 per cent of births, according to confidential briefing notes, but at the Richmond Hospital, they accounted for 15.22 per cent, based on the latest fiscal year statistics.

Visiting pregnant mothers must pre-register with a VCH physician and pay $7,000 to $8,000 to the hospital for a vaginal delivery and $12,000 to $13,000 for a Caesarian. Doctors charge patients separately for their fees. The Ministry of Health sets the fees hospitals can charge non-Canadians for medically necessary services. The fees are set to a cost-recovery basis, not intended as a revenue-generating stream because hospitals are, by definition in the Hospital Act, non-profit institutions, according to the FOI documents.

According to an internal email from a health ministry official named Meghan Duesterwald, the idea of expanding medical tourism within B.C. has been explored. “Opportunities to generate revenue from in-bound medical tourism has been investigated by ministry staff, leading to the conclusion this is not currently feasible, for reasons of cost competitiveness and availability of medical and hospital resources.”

“Hospitals are already operating at higher than optimal capacities and health authorities would be challenged to expand capacity. Given public concern about current wait times and access, the optics of foreign patients getting access to taxpayer-funded public services, even on a patient pay basis, would be difficult to manage.”

Gavin Wilson, spokesman for VCH, said there are no plans to raise prices for maternity services. And he debunked any notion that there may be too many birth tourists in Richmond.

“We operate a hospital in a community where over 60 per cent of the residents are immigrants, some of whom are at different stages of their immigration/residency process,” he said. “Some patients are newly landed immigrants who are processing their papers, which can take months to a year. Some are here on temporary visas, studying at a university, for example, and have their baby while they are here. Some have a second home here and choose to give birth here rather than … in China.”

While B.C. Women’s has strict controls on birth tourism, Wilson said that is a unique hospital since it specializes in high-risk births, while Richmond is a community hospital.

Richmond’s Kerry Starchuk launched an online petition to the House of Commons in June, hoping the federal Liberal government will eventually ban birth tourism unless one of the parents is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. Canada and the U.S. are the only G7 countries that still allow automatic citizenship for such births.

Starchuk lives next to a suspected birth house catering to mothers from China. The petition needed only 500 supporters in order to be introduced in the House of Commons, but has garnered about 5,800 to date, with more than two months before the Oct. 14 deadline.

The documents released by the health ministry also include a Jan. 22, 2015 email from a male, whose name and address were redacted, asking about requirements “so I may establishment (sic) maternity tourism business in Richmond. What are the fees that I would have to pay to the province? What are the requirements I’d have to meet to open a facility.”

An email between ministry staff mentioned that a licence under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act would be required.

“The person must be legally in B.C. as a resident (not a visitor) for three months before MSP/hospital insurance kicks in,” said the Feb. 23, 2015 email by Tricia Braidwood-Looney, director of diagnostic services. “If they come legally into B.C., have the baby and then go home, that is certainly acceptable.”

The person must be legally in B.C. as a resident (not a visitor) for three months before MSP/hospital insurance kicks in

The value of Canadian citizenship has created quite a few brokerage businesses catering to birth tourism customers. An agent located in Shenzhen introduces a list of B.C. hospitals and local Mandarin-speaking doctors who can assist with delivery. Local doctors Caroline Wang and Brenda Tam are mentioned as popular doctors for birth tourists, according to Chinese websites.

Kristy Anderson, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health, said the government doesn’t endorse or support the marketing of birth tourism services. However, health care providers are “committed to providing care to patients in need and no woman will be refused care she needs during labour and delivery.”

She said the main role of health authorities is the “provision of insured or medically required services to eligible beneficiaries who are residents of B.C.”

The matter of foreigners coming here for the sole purpose of giving birth and obtaining citizenship for their babies is a federal matter. She said she doesn’t know if the province has ever raised its concerns with Ottawa.

28 Jul 18:21

Why we could pay a price for low interest rates

by Kevin Carmichael
manufacturing employee

(David Ramos/Getty)

Here’s the key line from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s latest policy statement on July 27: “Near-term risks to the economic outlook have diminished.”


It has been a while since the Fed has dared to look out the window. First it was China that forced the central bank to scrap plans to raise interest rates. Then came Brexit. But global financial markets have held up since the United Kingdom voted to quit the European Union. Before the new statement, only a betting man or woman would have said higher interest rates were likely in 2016. Now, an interest-rate increase before the end of the year is a distinct possibility.

Bond yields shot higher, and the dollar rose. That’s what happens there are hints borrowing costs will rise. Oddly, it didn’t last. Yields reversed course and the dollar weakened. According to Tom Porcelli, chief U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets, market prices imply the odds that interest rates will be higher at the end of the year are less than 50%. What’s going on? It appears there are a lot of traders out there who doubt the Fed has the guts to raise interest rates.

Brexit Pollyannas trumpeted buoyant stock markets as evidence they were right to dismiss the gloom that followed the referendum result. Their triumphalism ignored the fact that British equities rallied because almost everyone expects the Bank of England to push interest rates lower. Almost everyone expects the Bank of England to do this because the uncertainty caused by the referendum debate and the result likely caused a recession. Stock markets are stronger because traders realize British investors will have no better place to put their money for a long, long time.


The European Central Bank also is widely expected to amp up its stimulus program, and the Bank of Japan could do the same. The Fed might like to raise interest rates this year, but it will find itself jammed. When it raised its target from zero in December, the dollar surged. That hurt exporters and crimped business investment. Near-term risks have diminished because central banks are set to extend the era of cheap credit. The Fed won’t follow its peers, but nor will it lead them back to a more typical interest-rate setting. At least not yet. That’s the bet. If the markets are wrong, Fed chair Janet Yellen is going to have to convince them.

Aggressive monetary policy probably is necessary to avert catastrophe, but it is altering economies in subtle ways that could hurt in the future. Consider the UK. Equity markets may have recovered from their post-Brexit collapse, but the pound sterling has not. A weaker currency allowed Japan’s Softbank to purchase the darling of Britain’s technology industry at a steep discount. There surely will be others. The hollowing out of British industry could unnerve a population that just voted to leave the EU because it felt it lacked control of its economic destiny.


Let’s bring this discussion closer to home. The housing bubbles in Vancouver and Toronto—just like the bubbles in Sydney, Hong Kong and others —are the result of ultra-low interest rates for longer and longer and longer. Those bubbles aren’t a reason to raise borrowing costs; you don’t hurt the prospects of the broader economy to contain a mania in a couple of big cities. But something needed to be done. British Columbia’s new tax on foreign purchases of homes in Vancouver is the first serious attempt by local authorities to confront a local problem. Will it work? Stewart Beck, the head of the Vancouver-based Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, thinks so. Jason Kirby, business editor at Maclean’sreckons super rich Chinese will simply pay the tax and carry on as before. Both Beck and Kirby agree that someone should have tried to do something about the problem long before now.

I’m inclined to think the tax will take the froth out of the Vancouver market, but not in a positive way. Kirby is right; Asia’s super rich will pay the tax, assuming they are motivated by putting their wealth under the protection of Canada’s respect for property rights. But do you know who won’t pay the tax? Non-Canadians who wanted to move to Vancouver to become rich.

International plutocrats do almost nothing for local economies by buying a house. Economic immigrants do a great deal. They allow startups to scale and they start companies of their own. That begets more hiring and investment. The tax base grows. Forget about the contribution of housing to gross domestic product. Canada has a productivity problem, B.C. included. Real-estate investment does almost nothing to boost productivity. Technology and manufacturing drive innovation. And B.C. has just made it more difficult for those industries to attract talent. It already was expensive to lure young engineers to Vancouver. It is even more so now.


The post Why we could pay a price for low interest rates appeared first on Canadian Business - Your Source For Business News.

28 Jul 16:24

How to Pitch Brands When You Have Low Traffic

by Laney Galligan


A common question from new bloggers is “How big do I have to be before I can start working with brands?”

It’s a question that reveals how often emphasis is put on audience size when it comes to marketing spend in the influencer space.

There are definitely ways you can change this emphasis to work for, rather than against you. It’s important to understand that audience size is a carryover from traditional advertising and media buying – the more eyeballs the better!

Digital marketing makes it easier and cheaper to reach more eyeballs than ever before (hello Facebook ads). It’s no wonder people are fed up with and becoming blind to advertising messages. We now prefer, more than ever, ‘word of mouth’ recommendations from people we know and trust to help us filter and make decisions on how we act and what we purchase.  

I just received an email this morning informing me of the rise in the search term ‘influencer marketing’ – quite the spike in the last 12 months!

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 10.56.05 am

This is great news for you if you’re an influencer. Note the search term is for ‘influencer marketing’, not ‘massive website marketing’ or ‘how to market to fake Instagram followers’.

So, when it comes to your strategy for approaching brands when you have low traffic, worry less about the size of your audience and start focusing on the impact of your influence on that audience. It’s your influence you need to emphasise to the brands you want to work with. If you need to figure out if you’ve got influence, check out The 4 Rs that Show a Brand your Blog is Influential.

Here are 4 strategies you can use to approach the brands you want to work with when you have low traffic.


Focus on your influence rather than your reach

Ask yourself, what is the brand buying – eyeballs or actions? Sometimes it’s a mix of the two, but ultimately brands are working with influencers because of their ability to effect change in the opinions or actions of their audience.

Your job is to emphasise, where you can, the impact of your influence – not how many people might see something, but how many people bought or did something because of it. In your case it might not be many people, so another thing to consider is how much did they spend? There’s a big difference in influencing a $5 spend vs a $50,000 spend.

I once did a sponsored car review after borrowing the car for a week. I had less than 10,000 unique visitors to my blog per month. I was paid $150 and given a gift card towards a family excursion in the car. I created a blog post with a video on YouTube which received over 10,000 views, but more importantly had two people contact me and say my review helped them with the decision to buy the car. So approx $80,000 in car sales for $150 blog post on a small blog (not all of whom were the target market). So next time I want to work with a car brand it’s the $80,000 figure that’s the important one – not the 10,000 readers.

Tip: Focus on the metrics that tell the most relevant story and emphasises the impact of your influence


Prove You’re a Good Match

If you’re going to approach a brand, make sure you’re a true advocate of the brand. Your credibility is more valuable in word of mouth marketing than the size of your audience. It doesn’t matter if you have 100,000 instagram followers if they call you out for promoting a brand that doesn’t fit.

When brands offer influencers products to review, they’ve usually already done their homework and are happy that it’s a good idea to give you something. Just because brands offer influencers products for review, it doesn’t mean influencers should solicit products for review without also doing their homework and proving why working with them is a good opportunity for the brand.

Here’s a simple approach to proving you’re a good fit for a brand

  • Proactively post about them (yes, for free!)
  • Share their content with your audience on social media
  • Screenshot proof of engagement and influence from the above activities (very important!)

Doing the above helps you build a case for working with you. Backing it up with the metrics that emphasise your influence and target audience fit will be far more convincing than just sending them a media kit focusing on Unique Visitors or followers. They will be more interested in an influencer who shows why they’re a good fit than someone who won’t post about them unless they’re paid to.

Tip: If the reach numbers alone are not telling the story, get proof that you can generate interest and engagement around their brand.


Focus on the relevance, not the size of your audience

Relevance is one of the more important factors of your ability to influence your audience to the benefit of a brand. The blogger with 250,000 readers will not always be the best choice for every opportunity. The total size of your audience is less important than the total number of the brand’s target customers in your audience.

Gather information about your audience demographics, the reasons they follow you, the problems they need solutions for. Also consider how well placed you are to help the brand achieve its objectives.

A smaller, well matched influencer may have more men aged 21-35 living in Sydney who love boating, than a larger sports influencer with a predominantly international audience.

Tip: Get specific and find the brands you love that want to target your specific niche rather than reach a mass market

Don’t ask for more than you are offering

Actually, to begin with, don’t ask for anything at all! The point being that the beginning of a relationship with a brand you’d love to work with shouldn’t be a straight out ask for product or money. Interact with them on social media first or track down a contact and just introduce yourself and let them know you’re just starting out and would love to be on their radar for any opportunities they have.

When you do send them a proposition, be realistic and offer them good value. Your job is to make it easy for them to do the math on their return on investment. A quick check is to divide the amount you’re asking for by the price of the product/service and checking to see if it’s realistic you could influence that many people to buy. Of course there are other factors and it’s not always all about getting a purchase right away, but it’s a good sense check.

If you don’t feel you can offer much in they way or influence or reach on your own channels, offer to create something the brand can share on their own channels. More often than not a brand will have a larger audience than you, but it’s authentic content they need to connect with them. Maybe they need recipes – let them know your fee for developing recipes for them!
When you’re just starting out or have low traffic, a sound approach is to do whatever you can to prove your worth. Having a blog or social media following doesn’t entitle you to anything. No matter the size of your audience you should always be prepared to prove your relevance and benefit to a brand.

Have you had good experiences with brands despite having smaller traffic? What are your tips for those just starting out?

The post How to Pitch Brands When You Have Low Traffic appeared first on ProBlogger.

28 Jul 16:24

'There's no fear of failure': How an iconic 85-year-old company is reviving its ideas and its profits

by Richard Feloni

mix faire 2016 fisher price

From alphabet blocks to Power Wheels, Fisher-Price toys are iconic.

The Mattel-owned company has been around since 1930 and is in the midst of a revival, during a time when the toy industry is adapting to a new generation of millennial parents.

When Christopher Sinclair took over as Mattel CEO last year, he was tasked with breathing new life into a struggling company, and he doubled down on the company's recent push to embrace innovation.

Mattel reported its Q2 earnings last week, and Fisher-Price's performance was a highlight, with worldwide gross sales up 3% (up 6% if you don't adjust for currency fluctuation), indicating that Fisher Price is retaining its momentum from last year, after six consecutive quarters of declining sales.

Business Insider spoke with Fisher-Price head Jean Ann McKenzie, design head Mark Zeller, and 20-year Fisher-Price veteran designer David Dubois, who indicated that the reinvigoration of a struggling brand is the result of significant shifts in the company's approach.

A fitting representation of this new way of thinking is Fisher-Price's second annual Mix Faire, an employee expo held at the company's headquarters in East Aurora, New York, in May.

SEE ALSO: Malcolm Gladwell tells us about his beef with billionaires, police violence, and how his new hit podcast lets him explore issues in ways his books can't

Around 100 of Fisher-Price's 750 employees showed off their prototypes of new toy ideas among 36 booths.

The Mix Faire is a day for employees across the company to come together and show off their entrepreneurial talent to colleagues and the Fisher-Price leadership team.

In 2014, the company created four "task forces" to drive change, and the Mix Faire grew out of the one dedicated to lowering risk aversion.

"There's a long history of working externally with inventors, and we still do that, but there was this strong sense that we wanted to mine all of the inventors that were already within our four walls and really give them the same information or insight into where the business was going that we would give these external inventors," design head Zeller told Business Insider.

Fisher-Price works with impressive external talent like acclaimed designer Jonathan Adler, but the Mix Faire allows for employees across the company to come up with prototypes that don't cost thousands of dollars to make.

The 'mix' comes from the freedom employees had to collaborate, with junior employees working with veterans, and designers partnering with engineers. The call center employees even got involved.

"It feels a little bit like a rebirth to me," design veteran Dubois said of Fisher-Price in 2016. The members of the executive team "are really listening to us now."

The Mix Faire is one of several steps taken to break down previously impenetrable walls in the company, he explained. "Even if you were in R&D, if you had an idea for a different group, it was a 'not invented here' type of approach" if the idea you had fell out of your expertise.

The Mix Faire is a way to open up communication in the office.

"We're really encouraging all employees to get in the game and to value their role as being a source of ideas, and using those ideas to collaborate, and there's no fear of failure," Fisher-Price boss McKenzie said.

It's not solely theoretical. The best ideas will be incorporated into future products.

When the inaugural Mix Faire launched in 2015, more than 100 employees participated, and there were a total of 60 booths.

Though there were fewer booths this year, Zeller noted, the resulting products were generally of a higher quality.

"We walked out and said, 'OK, a third of this needs to go into line right now,'" Zeller said, referring to ideas that should go into production.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider
28 Jul 16:23

How Turkey became a petri dish for Islamist politics

by Adnan R. Khan


ISTANBUL, TURKEY - JULY 25: People gather to protest against Parallel State/Gulenist Terrorist Organization's failed military coup attempt at Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey on July 25, 2016. Parallel State is a terrorist organization leaded by U.S.-based cleric Fetullah Gulen, who is accused of a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through infiltrating into Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary, forming a parallel state. (Abdullah Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

People gather to protest against the Gulenist organization’s failed military coup attempt at Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey on July 25, 2016. (Abdullah Coskun, Anadolu Agency, Getty Images)

In December 1997, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the current Turkish president but at the time the mayor of Istanbul, recited a famous poem by Turkish nationalist poet Ziya Gökalp during a speech in the eastern Turkish city of Siirt. One line read:

“The minarets are our bayonets, the domes our helmets, the mosques our barracks, and the faithful our soldiers.”

At a time when Turkey’s strictly secular military still held sway over Turkish politics, the militarized reference to Islam was interpreted as a threat to the secular order established by modern Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Erdogan was arrested, sentenced to four months in jail and handed a lifetime ban from politics (which was later lifted).

Less than two years later, another Islamist leader in Turkey, Fethullah Gülen, found himself in a similar predicament. In June 1999, he was caught on tape giving a sermon to his followers which appeared to outline a secret long-term plan to take over the levers of power in the country. “You must move in the arteries of the system, without anyone noticing your existence, until you reach all the power centres,” he is reported to have said.

Gülen, who was in the U.S. at the time, was charged in absentia for “attempting to establish an Islamist state.” He remains in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.

On July 15, these two Islamist leaders found themselves on opposite sides of a bloody coup attempt. A relationship that had begun on such a similar footing lay shattered alongside Turkey’s democratic order. When it was over, Erdogan had triumphed. The populist leader harnessed the power of faith and an undercurrent of radicalism in a way Gülen could not, nor would have wanted. And in the process, he has pushed Turkey down a dangerous and potentially destructive path.

Erdogan’s poetic call to action finally came to life during the night of the failed coup attempt. Mosques roused the faithful, instructing them to take to the streets. They answered like obedient soldiers, laying down in front of tanks and confronting armed putschists with their bare hands. More than 240 lost their lives. Tens of thousands of Erdogan loyalists occupied Turkey’s squares in the days that followed, chanting religious slogans and vowing to lay down their lives for Islam and their leader. Erdogan meanwhile, laid blame for the coup on Gülen.

At one time, both Erdogan and Gülen shared a dream of a slow and steady Islamist transformation in Turkey. When, in 2002, Erdogan’s AKP stunned Turkey’s political establishment and won the general elections, the Gülenists and Erdoganists merged into a formidable force, working together to purge Turkish institutions of their militantly secular elements. By 2013, the Gülenists had a firm grip on Turkey’s judiciary, police forces and the education system, and they had allegedly infiltrated the mid to lower ranks of the military.

All of that changed when, in December of that year, a corruption scandal erupted based on wiretap recordings of senior AKP officials, including Erdogan, apparently discussing kickbacks in Turkey’s construction industry. One recording allegedly caught Erdogan instructing his son to get rid of millions of dollars in cash stored at the family home.

AKP officials accused Gülenists of orchestrating a massive illegal wiretapping operation targeting Erdogan, who then turned the full force of his government and security apparatus against them. The war between Turkey’s Islamists began.

Gülenists, even those with a marginal connection to the group, are now on the run. The Gülen project is all but finished and in its place Erdogan’s own transformational vision has gained momentum.

But what exactly is that vision? By most accounts, Erdogan is no radical Islamist. Many experts have cautioned against painting him and his inner circle with an ultra-orthodox brush. A more accurate description, they argue, would be to place his party in the same ideological category as the Tea Party in the U.S.: socially conservative nationalists and free-market capitalists who believe they are on a God-given mission to make Turkey great again.

Key to that mission is positioning Turkey as the leader of the Muslim world, and Erdogan as its champion. During the early weeks and months of the Arab Spring, for instance, Erdogan planted the seeds of his aspirations for regional dominance by supporting anti-regime protesters in Egypt, Libya and Syria. His strong support for the Palestinian cause earned him a kind of cult status in the occupied territories.

In the days since the coup attempt, those seeds have borne fruit. “We are proud of what Erdogan has done,” Naseer Kafagi, a 52-year-old Egyptian national and supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood who now lives in the U.K., said. “Erdogan being in this situation is a blessing. He is protected by God. He has given Muslims around the world hope that Muslim countries can do something for themselves.”

The feeling of Muslim empowerment has rippled through Istanbul’s cobblestone streets in the wake of the failed coup. Pakistanis, Syrians and Saudis have marched alongside Turks, chanting slogans and waving their own nations’ flags. Muslim leaders, including Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, considered the world’s leading jihadi ideologue, have tweeted their support for Erdogan.

Ominously, the mood in Turkey has created an opening for Salafists like Maqdisi who follow the ultra-orthodox version of Islam most closely linked to violent jihadists. In Istanbul’s conservative Fatih district, followers of Salafism have taken Erdogan’s victory over the Gülenists as a sign to redouble their conversion efforts. For them, Gülen, despite his Islamic credentials, is too close to the U.S. to offer a viable Islamic vanguard. “The Gülenists are like freemasons,” says Muhammed Ender, the manager of Guraba Press, a publishing house owned by Abdullah Yolcu, Turkey’s leading Salafist preacher. “They are dangerous because they look after their own interests and not the interests of Muslims.”

Academics and journalists who have followed Turkey’s religious permutations for decades worry that Salafists, historically a marginal group in Turkey’s theological universe, have now gained a permanent foothold in their country. They point to the exponential rise in religious texts from Saudi Arabia translated into Turkish, many of them at Guraba Press.

“This is a very dangerous situation,” says Niyazi Dalyancı, a member of the board at Turkey’s journalists association. “The ground in Turkey is fertile for these kinds of extremists, and now that ISIS is losing ground in Syria and Iraq, its fighters are coming here. They shave their beards and find safe haven among these Salafis.”

It’s difficult to pin down the numbers of Islamic State and al-Qaeda supporters inside Turkey but they are by no means insignificant. According to the Soufan Group, a strategic security and intelligence company based in the U.S., an estimated 2,100 Turks have joined violent extremist groups in Syria. Their sympathizers inside Turkey are believed to number around six million, based on a November 2015 Pew Research poll. Ultra-conservative Turks have openly demonstrated in support of Jabhat al-Nusra, Syria’s al-Qaeda branch, after U.S.-led coalition airstrikes began targeting it in 2013.

According to those at Guraba Press, al-Qaeda occupies a different space than the Islamic State. Like many ultra-orthodox Muslims, Ender despises ISIS tactics, particularly its penchant for murdering fellow Muslims. He believes the establishment of the so-called “caliphate” is illegitimate because it does not have the endorsement of the global Muslim community. But al-Qaeda, and Osama bin Laden, he says, were correct in their approach. “They realized Muslims are not ready for a caliphate. So instead of establishing one, they focused on freeing Muslims from oppressive regimes,” he says. “Turkey is at an early stage of its Islamic transformation. It’s not ready for sharia. Before there can be sharia, you need to prepare people for it. That is Erdogan’s job.”

Under Erdogan’s rule, Turkey has become a petri dish for Islamist politics. For a time, it seemed his vision for society was not so much Islamist as it was mildly conservative. Over the first few years of its rule, the AKP implemented socially conservative reforms, including placing limits on when alcohol could be sold in corner stores and defunding abortions at state-run hospitals. It tested the public’s appetite for laws based on Islamic values without impinging on the secular foundations of Turkey.

Other, more subtle reforms, however, have alarmed Turkey’s secularists. Under the AKP, religious high schools have flourished while the curricula at secular schools have been increasingly Islamized. Islamic studies programs at universities have shifted emphasis from philosophy to the hard Islamic sciences, including sharia.

Since the onset of the Syrian civil war, Turkey has also made changes to laws that vastly expand the powers of the intelligence service, known by its Turkish acronym, MIT. A series of laws passed in 2014, for instance, have given intelligence operatives the legal cover to carry out operations beyond Turkey’s borders with little oversight, punishing those, including journalists, who attempt to expose the agency’s activities.

Erdogan has argued that the law was needed to shield Turkey’s spies from potential legal action after they engaged in backdoor talks with the PKK, a designated terrorist organization, in 2010. But legal experts warn the law also encourages the MIT to make inroads with other terrorist organizations, like those fighting the Syrian regime.

The day after a failed coup attempt in Turkey, supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his AK Party gather at Taksim Square for a "Democracy festival", climbing onto the iconic monument of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, modern Turkey's founder. The fallout from the failed coup has left Turkey more divided than ever between Islamists and secularists. (Photograph by Adnan Khan)

The day after a failed coup attempt in Turkey, supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his AK Party gather at Taksim Square for a “Democracy festival”, climbing onto the iconic monument of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, modern Turkey’s founder. (Photograph by Adnan Khan)

While no conclusive evidence exists establishing a direct link between Turkish authorities and Islamic State, some experts are baffled by the lack of a strong response to tackle the group’s presence in Turkey. Raids over the past year have netted dozens of alleged Islamic State operatives but they are rarely convicted and more often than not released. “I speculate that the AKP’s soft approach to ISIS is based on an aversion to engaging in a full-scale war against them,” says one academic, who has researched the institutional relationship between Turkey’s government and Islamic State, requesting anonymity. “Certainly ISIS does not represent an institutional structure in Turkey. It is classified as a terrorist organization. But what is written and what is done in practice are not the same things.”

Indeed, Turkey’s host of security challenges has left its security services stretched thin. The renewed war against PKK separatists in the country’s southeast and increasing tensions with Russia pose serious challenges to its military. A spate of bombings claimed by Islamic State, the academic adds, appear to be a message to the Turkish authorities: leave us alone or we will cause havoc on your streets.

Now, as the purges of Turkey’s security institutions continue after the failed coup, institutional chaos is sure to follow. Military experts have warned that Turkey lacks the experienced officers needed to replenish the ranks after such wide, sweeping cull. A detente with Russia, after Erdogan apologized for the downing of a Russian bomber in November 2015, has eased some of the pressure (the fighter pilot who reportedly shot the bomber down was arrested as part of the Gülenist purge) but will do little to help remove the threat posed by Islamic State.

Instead, it appears Turkey is heading toward a Pakistan-style uneasy truce with the growing army of radicals in its midst. Erdogan may have been speaking metaphorically when he recited that poem in 1997, but his words may come back to haunt him.

Read more Maclean’s, news and politics on Texture. Anytime. Anywhere. All in one app.

The post How Turkey became a petri dish for Islamist politics appeared first on

28 Jul 16:23

‘Deceleration of growth seems likely’: Brexit shockwaves hit British jobs, consumer confidence

by Reuters

LONDON — Shockwaves from Britain’s vote to leave the European Union rocked the economy on Thursday, with thousands of jobs lost at one of the country’s biggest banks, consumer confidence plunging, and construction and car sales slowing.

Preparing for a Brexit-related slowdown, Lloyds Banking Group said it would cut a further 3,000 jobs and one of Britain’s biggest car dealerships, Inchcape, predicted growth in new car registrations would fall.

“The public are still absorbing the EU referendum result but it is clear that consumer confidence has taken a significant and clear dive,” said Stephen Harmston of the YouGov polling organization.

A month after the referendum, the latest signs of an economic slowdown are likely to fuel expectations of action by the Bank of England on Aug. 4, when many economists believe it will cut interest rates and might start buying bonds again to pump money into the financial system.

Lloyds, Britain’s largest retail bank, said it aims to save 400 million pounds (US$530 million) by the end of 2017 by axing the jobs — on top of 4,000 positions it has already said it would cut from its 75,000-strong workforce — and by closing an additional 200 branches.

“Following the EU referendum the outlook for the UK economy is uncertain and, while the precise impact is dependent upon a number of factors including EU negotiations and political and economic events, a deceleration of growth seems likely,” it said.

The economy grew fairly robustly in the run-up to the vote but economists expect businesses and consumers to cut back after the referendum shock, although a dive in the pound has helped some companies which make most of their earnings aboard.

Rolls-Royce shares rose sharply after it forecast profits would improve in the second half of the year, helped by a pick-up in deliveries of large aero engines.

Drinks group Diageo, reporting higher sales, said it had not so far seen any impact from Brexit. The company is the world’s biggest maker of Scotch whisky, which is mostly exported and would benefit from sterling’s weakness.

Another winner was Merlin Entertainments, which runs tourist attractions such as Madame Tussauds waxworks and Legoland and expects to benefit from the lower pound attracting more foreign visitors to its British sites.

But travel company Thomas Cook cut its profit target as the weak pound, together with attacks in Europe and a failed coup in Turkey forced British customers to change their holiday plans.

An index of British consumer confidence plunged nearly five points to 106.6 in July – matching its biggest fall in six years and hitting its lowest level since 2013, polling firm YouGov and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) said.

People are particularly worried about what will happen to the value of their homes, the survey found.

The European Commission’s consumer confidence gauge for Britain suffered its biggest monthly drop in July since January 1991, hitting its lowest level since June 2013.

House price growth edged up in July but the data might not yet reflect any impact from the referendum because of a lag, mortgage lender Nationwide said.

Britain’s biggest lettings and estate agency company, Countrywide Plc, issued a profit warning, saying that commercial and London residential transactions had stalled after the Brexit vote.

Economists say spending by consumers offers the best hope that Britain can avoid a Brexit-related recession. But retailers said sales fell sharply after the referendum, according to a survey published on Wednesday.

French advertising company JCDecaux said it would reduce investments in Britain, citing uncertainty about the Brexit impact on the economy and advertising revenues.

In construction, growth in activity slowed after the vote, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said.

Contributors to a RICS survey predicted a one per cent rise in workloads over the next 12 months, down from growth of 2.8 per cent that they had foreseen in the first quarter.

Britain’s property market has been one of the worst hit sectors since the referendum with shares in housebuilders plunging while investors pulled out cash from commercial funds, forcing many to be suspended.

Construction firms cut back their forecasts for hiring, mirroring moves by British retailers who reported the fastest fall in full-time equivalent employment in two years in the second quarter, as the referendum approached.

But a survey by the British Retail Consortium showed 93 per cent of retailers intended to keep staffing levels unchanged in the next three months, compared with 83 per cent in the second quarter of last year.

A third survey published on Thursday showed pay awards in Britain stuck in a slow gear.

Median pay settlements in the three months to the end of June were worth 1.8 per cent for a third month in a row, after a two-year run when increases of two per cent had become normal, according to XpertHR, an online human resources firm.

“It remains to be seen how the uncertainty around the impact of the Brexit vote will feed through to pay settlements, but we are likely to see pay awards remaining subdued for many months to come,” XpertHR’s Sheila Attwood said.

In a boost for the British government’s drive to encourage investment post-Brexit, French state-owned utility EDF was expected to give the go-ahead later on Thursday to an 18 billion pound (US$24 billion) nuclear power project in southwest England.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

28 Jul 16:21

Why Marketing and Sales VP Shouldn’t Be One Position

by Hana LaRock

sales, marketing, VP

How many times have you heard of a start-up having a VP of marketing and sales? For those on the inside, having someone who can do both roles is essential to cutting costs for a company that’s new or in the process of a change. However, outsiders that are business-savvy know that this kind of position is a “suicide” for a company that wants to be successful.

What’s the Issue?

The first thing to understand is that sales and marketing are two different things. Sure, they both have the same goal; to make money for the company. But, the ultimate path to get there and the results or consequences at the end of that path, can be drastically different.

The object of a marketing team is to bring in leads by promoting the product to the best of their ability. Of course, there are other things that come into play, but generally, that’s the idea. Sales, on the other hand, needs to snag in those leads, and convert them into becoming buying customers.

Having these roles shared by one individual is actually quite counterproductive. The reason? Well, there are a lot of conflicts that come into play. Not that one should anticipate these kind of conflicts, but being aware of them and how they can negatively impact your company is really important. It’ll motivate you to make the right decision when it comes time to hire.

sales, marketing, VP

The Potential for Conflict

Conflicts are often inevitable between sales and marketing, which is one of the reasons a VP of both doesn’t really make sense. Think of it as a presidential candidate wanting to be both a Democrat and a Republican.

Doesn’t really work.

One conflict comes with CRM. If sales can’t update CRM information, then marketing can’t go forward with any of the leads. However, sales doesn’t always feel as though they have the time to make these updates. Instead, they believe that marketing should be able to do what it has to do regardless of sales not updating the CRM.

The second potential conflict comes when marketing and sales can’t see eye to eye about what leads to a sale. The sales department believes that they are more familiar with what kind of person is going to buy, no matter what that customer’s history is. Marketing, on the other hand, feels that they have the specific data that tells them everything they need to know to predict what a customer’s action will be. When sales isn’t trying to work with a customer’s behavior, fingers start pointing where they shouldn’t be.

Lastly, there’s the conflict of vision vs. realism. Marketing tends to be the team that’s comprised of the “dreamers.” The ones that see that with hard work, creativity, and great ideas, anything can be accomplished. Meanwhile, over in the sales department, team members are being a lot more realistic. They know that ultimately if someone wants to buy, they’ll buy. If they don’t, they don’t, and marketing needs to do a better job of honing in on exactly what will make someone do just that. Sales will do the rest.

marketing, sales, VP

The Conclusion

These are just a few of the problems that arise with marketing and sales. I know what you’re thinking:

“Having someone responsible for both roles will mean that there’s no conflict, because they’ll be aware of the needs of both sides.”

While that argument certainly makes sense, the fact of the matter is that it’s just too much for one person to handle. The jobs are not the same. Despite the fact that there might be conflicts regardless of who is in charge, you simply can’t expect one person to do the work of the apples and the oranges.

In order to get the most out of marketing AND sales, there needs to be two separate roles that can take each job to its highest potential. (Unless, there’s an off chance that the VP of marketing and sales has experience in both fields, without any biases.)

If the sales and marketing teams in your company are butting heads, here’s your “therapist” letting you know that, “It’s completely normal for two people who care so much about each other to have fights once in a while.”

That being said, having a VP of both marketing and sales, isn’t the answer. Instead, other teams, like communications and HR needs to be just as strong to keep everything together. Remember, at the end of the day, it’s all about everyone having the company’s best interest in mind.

Does yours?