Shared posts

17 Jun 17:33

Is Anyone Leading Lead Management?

by jobermayer@salesleadmgmtassn.com (James Obermayer)

Managing_Lead_ManagementSales Lead Management is a complicated process. It needs a leader to pull all of the competing interests and people together to work as a team.

Sales lead management is a tough subject to truly get your arms around. There are dozens of outside vendors who say they manage some portion of the sales lead process and more than two dozen internal departments that contribute to the process and the decision making.  My point is this—you need a Sales Lead Manager to pull all of the competing departments and managers together to obtain the best revenue per lead for your company. 

Without a leader for sales lead management, there is nothing less at stake than a predictable growth in revenue when sales leads are managed, versus experiencing a 75-90% waste of the marketing budget when sales leads are not managed. Let’s tackle the subject by looking at the elements involved and our recommendations for solving the problem.

There may be a half-dozen outside vendors managing some aspects of lead management:

  1. Sales Lead Management and Fulfillment Firm
  2. Direct Marketing Agency
  3. Digital Agencies
  4. Telemarketing Inbound
  5. Telemarketing Outbound (qualification and lead generation)
  6. Telemarketing Sales
  7. Content Agency
  8. PR Agency
  9. Branding Agency
  10. SEO Agency
  11. Business Intelligence
  12. Database Providers 

Why It's Important:

“Someone must be responsible for the sales lead management process.  If no one is completely responsible, the company’s revenue suffers from wasted leads, misused high marketing costs, and uncontrolled sales expenses.”

Sales Lead Management Association

A dozen or more internal departments (a more detailed list here):

  1. Sales Department
  2. Sales Operations
  3. Demand Creation Department
  4. Inside Sales
  5. Product Management
  6. Marketing Communications
  7. Marketing Department
  8. Content Management (grading of the inquiry)
  9. CRM Management (grading of the inquiry)
  10. Lead Nurturing Services
  11. Marketing Automation Management
  12. Two major departments compete on rules establishment and daily management (sales and marketing)
  13. Marketing Operations Department
  14. Website Management
  15. Social Media Department – blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, iTunes, YouTube and Pinterest, to name just a few.
  16. Public Relations
  17. Investor Relations
  18. Data Entry (includes screening for duplicates and competitors)
  19. Fulfillment – electronic and mailed, which includes warehousing
  20. Literature Control – creation, reprinting and inventory management
  21. Sales lead acquisition devices at trade shows and conferences
  22. Sales territory management: which can include territories by zip code, telephone area code, counties or even major city streets. Not to mention grandfathered account and major account assignments, inside vs. outside vs. independent reps, and lead assignments based on product and revenue, and country or state. The “if this then that” maze is formidable for sales lead assignment.
  23. International Channel Management
  24. Sales Channel Management
  25. Field Marketing Management

Daunting and confusing isn’t it? It’s easy to say that the Director of Marketing manages this morass of competing interests. But we know that is the road to failure because it is a job in itself. It might be placed under the direction of Marketing Operations, but this is usually a strong IT function with limited experience with other departments. It could be under the direction of the Marketing Communications Manager (and often is), but that seems to be a diminishing or disappearing position in many companies.

Which brings us to this thought: without a single supreme being making all of the decisions necessary when taking into account the dozens of stakeholders (not to mention the salespeople), most companies have no control over their sales lead process because no one is in charge.   

Four Recommendations:

  1. Put someone in charge of the entire sales lead management process; someone whose authority is respected by all those who touch the inquiries.
  2. Create rules (policy) for Sales Lead Management (no one likes to break the rules). The sales and marketing people should create them jointly; one page, 12 items or so.  The rules should cover the definition of a sales lead, follow-up rules, timing for lead distribution (how soon leads are given to a rep), ROI reporting, etc. There should be a definition of an inquiry and a qualified lead. These are broad-based sales lead management rules so that everyone can figure out how to comply. You can get a suggested outline of the business rules here.
  3. Create a job description for a Sales Lead Management position. You can get a job description here.
  4. Create a Sales Lead Management Checklist for the management of the process.

If you do these four things, the entire sales lead management machine and dozens of departments and vendors will fall into line, with the objectives of serving the prospect and the company’s revenue expectations to the best of their abilities.

You cannot make progress in solving this problem unless you have a manager specifically tasked with managing the company’s future revenue: the Sales Lead Manager.

17 Jun 17:33

How Focusing on the Best Leads Yields Better Customers

by Sharmin Kent

There’s not a single sales leader on the planet who doesn’t want more leads. Building a large, consistent pipeline is one of the most important elements of closing the right number of deals and meeting quarterly sales goals.

But building a clean pipeline both important and challenging – and accepting any and all leads can waste an entire company’s time and resources. Here’s how determining which leads should be qualified makes a sales team’s job easier, closes deals and leads to better long-term customer relationships.

Give SDRs a Good Head Start

To build a pipeline that yields the best deals, begin at the beginning. With sales development becoming the hottest job in sales, it’s critical that sales development teams are given a good head start. Teaching a team of sales development representatives (SDRs) to ask the right questions can capture a clearer picture of a prospect’s needs.

Questions about a prospect’s current tech stack, their sales process, and their own customers’ needs provide SDRs the information they need to determine whether a prospect is a good fit. Remember: the earliest stages of the sales process aren’t just for buyers to evaluate a product; they also help sellers evaluate a buyer. Moving bad leads through the sales process can create friction between the SDR team and the account executive (AE) team.

Close the Right Deals

Disqualifying a lead in the mid-stage can be more difficult, but can still save valuable time. It becomes the AE’s job to personalize the buyer journey, guide them to the close and facilitate a clean transition to client success. If any of those actions become difficult, or the prospect begins to disengage, it could be time to let go and work more engaged mid-stage leads with a higher likelihood of closing.

Personalizing the later stages of the buyer journey is vital. Providing content that offers information on how to prepare for, implement and receive support for your product can help prospects move quickly to the post-sale phase.

Build Better Customer Relationships

A less-than-qualified lead doesn’t just waste time for salespeople; it can cost significant time and resources across an organization. Disqualifying a lead at later stages of the sales process will almost always be painful, but bad prospects become bad customers. Prospects who expect a product to be a “magic wand” or won’t follow directions can lead to everything from resistance during implementation to low adoption.

When prospects are engaged throughout the sales process, they’re more likely to view a vendor as a partner rather than a quick fix. When engaged prospects become engaged customers, they’re more likely to build longer relationships – and that’s good for the bottom line.

Sales teams have opportunities through the sales process to improve the buyer experience and move prospects closer to becoming customers. But not every prospect is built to be your customer, and recognizing it – at any stage – gives companies the opportunity to pursue prospects that are the best fit for their business.

Every sales team needs leads — but the best sales teams know how to make every lead count. Our e-book shows you how to jumpstart your lead management strategy.

17 Jun 17:33

Sales Training 101: Why “No” Isn’t the Worst Answer a Sales Development Rep Can Get

by Jay Warden

In one of our recent sales training sessions with John Barrows, he made a great and profound point:

The worst thing in sales is not losing, but instead taking a long time to lose.”

Most Account Executives are very familiar with this, and can probably tell you a deal right now that took longer than it should have to get to the “no.” But as an Sales Development Rep, prospects who take a long time to get to the “no” can still be just as unsettling.

In most sales training sessions, taking “no” for an answer is simply unacceptable. And while you should never get comfortable being told “no,” the fact is, you’re going to hear it a lot in sales.

But here’s the thing: getting a “no” may not be the worst answer an SDR can get from a prospect… it’s the “Long No” that’s the worst.

There’s a ton of ways that prospects can give you the “Long No” (or, as I like to call it, the LoNo) and they always end up wasting time on both ends. Here’s 4 examples of the dreaded LoNo:

1. The “Timid No”

This is the prospect who’s afraid to say “no” in person (or on the phone). They may even schedule a meeting with you, before eventually backing out or pushing it off completely.

Most SDRs can sense this “no” from a mile away, and should address it as soon as they do. Ask questions like “Are you afraid to tell me no?” or “What’s stopping you from committing to a time?”

This is the best way to get right to the heart of their decision (or lack thereof) and establish a sense of urgency.

2. The “Send-Me-Something No”

This is the prospect who has no intentions of looking into this further, but wants to push you off to email. This way, they can say no through email, or simply ignore you. A variant of the Timid No, this answer is super common in prospects.

They want you to send them something — a follow-up email, pricing information, more content, etc. — which, in nearly every SDR’s case, you already have. But the idea is that they will supposedly read it, and get back to you, “if they are interested.”

This is a “nope” waiting to happen. They most likely won’t give your email the attention it deserves, and in the same time that it has taken to have the conversation, send the email, have them read the email, and reply — you could’ve already shown them the value of your product.

In this case, blocking off time for a meeting is always going to be the best use of both of your time. And when it comes to the, “we’ll get in touch if we’re interested” line, just remember this: if the world waited on business to come to them, sales would be obsolete. This is why you should always defer to scheduling another discovery call over “sending something.”

3. The “Push-Out No”

This is the prospect who sees value in your product, but isn’t willing to commit to time to explore right away. They’ll normally give a short-term follow-up time (say, a week or two), but then ultimately say it’s just not a priority.

One of our SDRs here at SalesLoft, Angela Kirkland, is great at combating this line on the phone. When a prospect says that it’s not a priority, or asks her to follow-up down the road, she immediately addresses something in their job title/description that contradicts their priority list.

For example, she’ll tell a Director of Business Development who’s giving her the Push-Out No, “As a Director of Business Development, how can you say something built to help develop more business for your team is not a priority?” 

Ultimately, if you’re sensing a Push-Out No, this may or may not get you a yes — but it’s worth a shot. If then it’s still a “no,” it’s better to try to accelerate that answer, rather than spend time and effort only to result in a dead end.

4. The “Pass-Along No”

This is the prospect says they’ll share this with their boss, or that they’ll “pass the email along,” which usually results in a back and forth banter before ultimately ending with “no.” What can they do? It’s out of their hands…

This “No” is the hardest “no” to defend. If the prospect is merely saying that they’re “passing the email along,” with no mention of a specific name or department of whom they’re passing it to, then it leaves you high and dry.

Ask them who they’re passing you along to — then you can always reach out to that person directly. If you don’t get a specific answer, then the best thing you can do is research the account on your own and find a different contact. The sooner the better.

In any case, the best way to combat “no” is always going to be to pick up the phone and learn more about their business. Bring your shovel and find a way to dig in and learn what their pains really are in the context of their process.

Most of the time, prospects may not even realize what they’re saying “no” to when they give you the sales brush-off. From their point of view, they’re saying “no” because they haven’t seen the value of your product, yet.

It’s our job as SDRs to provide that value up front, and make them realize that they do not want to pass up this meeting. But don’t just take my word for it: when the next prospect just says “no,” I challenge you to really push back and find the real reason behind their hesitancy.

If our sales training has taught us anything, it’s that time is everything to an SDR. Spending our time having meaningful conversations that result in purposeful, qualified sales meetings is the most important part of our job. And spinning our wheels with prospects on The Nope Bus is only wasting more of that precious time.

Dig as much as possible, as fast as possible — and if they don’t get it, that’s their loss. On to the next one. There’s a world of people out there willing to listen and understand the value of your product. Don’t waste your time on the ones who won’t, and don’t be afraid to get to a “no.”

Here’s a clip from the John Barrows sales training:


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

The post Sales Training 101: Why “No” Isn’t the Worst Answer a Sales Development Rep Can Get appeared first on SalesLoft.

17 Jun 17:33

Mentors, Tribes & Failure: What No One Told Me About Starting a Business

by Alice Heiman

what no one told me about starting business

Are you working hard for someone else? Do you have a great idea? Are you sitting at your desk at your company office, reading this and thinking yea I do want to start a business? Are you ready to take the leap? Or have you already jumped!? I recently did a podcast with executive business coach and radio show host, Amy Walker. We talked about the entrepreneurial spark, and what it takes to run a business. The good, the bad and the ugly. It caused me to reflect on how I got to where I am today in my business, and all the bumps along the way.

Starting a Business… Or Maybe Two

The first business I started was sort of an accident. I was training teachers at the graduate level, and they needed resources. I found a need and started to fill it, not thinking of it as a business. I started collecting resources and sharing them in the form of an extensive newsletter. It took me hours. Then people kept asking me where they could buy the resources. So I went to a local bookstore to see if they could provide them. I was procuring the resources and delivering them but not making any money for my effort. Someone said to me, why don’t you get a resale license and sell them yourself, and a business was born. I call that ‘accidental entrepreneurship’ as I had no intention of going into business. Once it took off, I saw clearly that it could be a business and wrote a business plan, got it funded and opened the doors. That process was difficult, but not nearly as hard as having to close my business three years later. You’ll hear the whole story in the recording, but let’s just say I was losing a lot of money fast.

The next business I started was accidental as well. You’d think I would have been better prepared for business number 2, but I wasn’t. It was a result of not knowing what else to do. Being entrepreneurial, I have little fear. I just took a leap, no plan, nothin’. Company number 2 is my current business, Alice Heiman, LLC that I started in 1997. My current business has evolved several different times. It has had its ups and downs, as you will hear, but I love it! I’ve learned a ton, and it is currently going through its next exciting evolution.

Starting a business can be exhilarating and exhausting, but if you’re ready to make that leap, or you’ve already made it, here’s some things that will help you. As I say in the interview, I highly recommend you make a plan, your chances of success will be much higher.

Find Your Tribe and Establish Your Expertise

First, you have to establish yourself as an expert and build your tribe.  It’s crucial for small business owners, whether they are selling a product or offering a service. I recommend doing this before you leap, but most of us don’t. Start taking action to build your personal brand, your expertise and your tribe. This will give you a strong foundation, so when you are ready to sell, your tribe will already know who you are and look at you as an expert. People are willing to listen more and look at your product and services when they know you, like you and trust you. As the owner of your business, even if you have a sales team, you need to be the CLG – Chief Lead Generator. You should draw people to you because of your expertise and then you can give those leads to your sales team.


As the owner of your business, you need to be the #ChiefLeadGenerator.
Click To Tweet


No Experience? No Problem!

When you are just getting started it’s hard to get those first few sales. It’s hard to get a client when you don’t have any clients. “Hey, Mr. Customer, I have a great product and you should buy it. You’ve never heard of me and no one has ever purchased our product, but you should. It really works, trust me.” Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? You need social proof and some references to get you started. Both times I started a business, I was already doing the thing I wanted to sell. I had a tribe. They knew me, liked me and trusted me. I had already proven my expertise so they were willing to pay for it. If you don’t start your business that way, you can still get social proof and references; however, you may not be able to charge the full amount, but you can still get some accounts started.  You could offer it to a non-profit or another small business that could use your product or expertise. Offer your services to them for free or at a discounted price, but only if they agree to give you feedback, let you write a case study, and/or allow you to use them as a reference.  This will let you test and prove your concepts. If you do a great job and go above and beyond, you will have great referral sources and testimonials for your website.

Pro-Tip: Write case studies about your first successes and publish those, but don’t stop there. Great stories sell. Continue to write case studies that share your customers’ successes.

Even though those first customers might not have paid you with cash, they’ve paid you with the case studies and their testimonials. You’ve also proven yourself and built your reputation. Happy customers may even become a ‘walking advertisement’ for you.

Overnight Successes Don’t Exist!

You see those other companies and think, wow, how did they do that? You’ve heard people say, “She is an overnight success.” Sorry, there is no such thing.  Oh, I’m an overnight success all right, and it took me twenty years to get there.  Whether you’re an entertainer, a business person, inventor, or an artist there’s always a backstory to your success. We have to work hard and smart and go where the opportunities are. Some just seem to get lucky, but we all know that most luck comes from the previous things I mentioned. We have to prove ourselves. We have to work smarter. We really have to get the credentials that will allow people to look at us as an expert. Then they are willing to pay for what we offer. As the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. The way I get going is to get help. I can’t possibly know everything and I don’t want to slow down my own success, so I find people who know the things I don’t and pay them to help me get there faster. In the interview, you’ll hear me talk about the many business coaches I have used over the years. In fact, I’d like to take a moment here to thank a few. Nancy Anderson, Valerie Cardenas, Leisa Peterson, Joelle Jay, Deborah Dupree, Laurie Taylor, and I am sure there are more that I am not remembering right now. Get the help you need. It costs money, but it is worth it.


Get the help you need. It costs money but it is worth it. #Mentorship
Click To Tweet


Define Your Own Success

Overnight successes aren’t a thing, but success is. Amy asked me, “What is your definition of success?” This is an important question to ask yourself. What is success for you? It’s important to define your own success and not look at others. Everyone is different, and money is not the only defining factor in success. For example, I feel highly successful, widely successful. Am I as rich as Richard Branson? No, and I may never be because it is not a goal of mine.

“My success is defined by my happiness and health and my family. If I am happy and healthy that is success. If my family is happy and healthy more success. No amount of money can buy that.”

But What If I Fail?

The answer is that you will. I know that I have. Bestselling author and marketing expert, Seth Godin, phrases it perfectly in his new book Linchpin,

“The answer to the what if question is, you will. A better question might be, “after I fail, what then?” Well, if you’ve chosen well, after you fail you will be one step closer to succeeding, you will be wiser and stronger and you almost certainly will be more respected by all of those that are afraid to try.”Starting-a-Business-Success-Quote-Alice-Heiman

P.S. – If you haven’t read Linchpin, I highly recommend it! [Buy Now]

The risk of failure is part of being an entrepreneur. It’s critical for entrepreneurs to be able to hear the reality that not every single thing that we undertake is going to be an instantaneous success, but it does not mean that we are a failure and that we can’t continue to move forward. The destination is the same, you still have that same desire to own a successful business, to make an impact and make a difference. That part doesn’t change, just sometimes the business that we’re doing does need to change. Not every business is a win, and that’s okay. Any great entrepreneur will tell you about their failures, and I think that’s the part we forget. We see people and we go, “Wow, look at that, they have all that.” Really what you don’t know is the backstory, and what it took for them to get there.” We want the success without paying the price, but that’s unrealistic. You make mistakes, you learn from them, and you keep going.

If the entrepreneurial spirit moves you and you start your own business, or if you are in the weeds of working night and day to make your business work, you are in good company.  That entrepreneurial enthusiasm will get you started and keep you going. Your hard work and tenacity will bring you success, and your failures along the way will help you learn and make you stronger for your next adventure.

Here’s the full interview with Amy Walker:

 

I hope you enjoyed the interview. I’d love to hear your entrepreneurial story or questions. Please post a comment.

The post Mentors, Tribes & Failure: What No One Told Me About Starting a Business appeared first on Alice Heiman, LLC.

17 Jun 17:32

The State of the Front Page of the Internet

by Connor Gallic

In 2005 a website called Reddit was founded by Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman. It quickly became known as the front page of the Internet. With the ability to have complete anonymity online in the days of Facebook, and Twitter was a big draw to the website. Most of it’s users are between the ages of 18 – 29 and mostly male. Keep that in mind because it’s an incredibly important detail to remember.

The Community:

Now with any big website that house anonymous conversations, you will get your scandals, just look at the few that have stemmed from 4chan. The first big one that brought attention to Reddit was the Boston Bombing. This caused an issue because Reddit users started a witch hunt to find the man who supposedly did it. It turned out they were completely wrong and almost ruined someone’s life. The community learned from that, and no more witch hunts were to be started.

In 2014 theFappening occurred where hundreds of nude celebrity photos were leaked online. This led to a much stricter policy on these type of images being posted. This of course was well understood to the community and didn’t cause any huge lasting outrage.

Then in 2015, Ellen Pao the new CEO shutdown the subreddit “fatpeoplehate”. It was shutdown due to harassment issues, which caused a very controversial argument on the site, between what types of posts should be allowed and which shouldn’t. Ellen Pao stepped down after this, party due to a petition had received 200,000 signatures asking for her removal. Steve Huffman, one of the original cofounders stepped back in.

Now these scandals, were mostly caused by the users as opposed to admins of the site (Admins being the people who actually work at Reddit). When the community does something wrong, they typically have understood that they crossed a line and would accept new site rules that were placed to prevent it from happening again.

The Admins:

As I said before Reddit by Alexis Ohanian and Steve Huffman. They ran the company and grew it while. Condé Nast Publications acquired the site in October 2006.

Just a quick overview of their time at CondeNast from Aliens in the Valley:

For the first few years it was part of Conde Nast, revenue wasn’t the top concern. The real reason Conde Nast acquired Reddit, according to two execs close to Conde Nast then, was so the ad sales team could lump Reddit’s audience together with the audiences for their other tech-focused digital properties, including Wired.com and Ars Technica. Reddit significantly increased that segment’s number of uniques. It was also a ploy to get the attention of advertisers by showing Conde Nast had a hip, innovative tech property. They then spun Reddit out as it’s own company in 2011. Yishan Wong took over in 2012 as the CEO.

This is where everything starts to get interesting. Yishan took over in the worst time possible, because most of the Scandals happened while he was CEO. He was someone who didn’t believe in making big bold changes to reddit. He tried to protect the community’s freedom of speech for as long as he could. When theFappening took place Yishan eventually put up a perplexing blog post stating yet again that Reddit’s team supported free speech, even for the most unsavory content. He argued that “every man is responsible for his own soul.”

Finally he quit, surprising most of the staff and the community.

Another note to keep in mind is that Reddit, still was not technically profitable. Their only real source of income was selling Reddit Gold which users could pay for monthly. They had issues generating advertising revenue due the community’s hatred of it and use of adblockers.

Ellen Pao took over in 2014, by this time shareholders are starting to get hungry for some money so monetization efforts are started. She led the monetization front of Reddit. A large campaign from an advertiser runs in the $100,000 range, according to this person, while a good-size single ad sale is around $20,000.

Now since Ellen stepped down, almost one year ago on June 15th, everything has remained quiet until recently. The first big change that came was they announced a mobile app. Apps to browse mobile have always been made by a 3rd party, until now. They announced the app and gave free gold to anyone who downloaded it. Unfortunately, for them the app isn’t quite as good as its competitors. It is still in its infancy but it has a lot of catching up to do. Now before I get into an explanation of why this might end up hurting Reddit. Let me tell you about another big change. Reddit is now hosting it’s own pictures. Up until recently most Reddit users used the site Imgur to host images. The site was actually created by a Reddit user and the community quickly grew to love it. This is kind of important because the communities are symbiotic to each other. Users could easily navigate between the two sites.

Now hosting your own images and creating your own app makes a lot of sense when you want to monetize, you don’t want to push users off your site onto another one, especially one that started boosting it’s own monetization. The one big issue again leads back to the symbiotic relationship of the two sites. Reddit has close to double at monthly page views at 8 billion vs Imgurs 5.5 billion.

It will be interesting to see how Reddit now handles the annexation of Imgur and the likewise. They have now officially become competitors to each other, not only that but Reddit has now become a competitor to all it’s 3rd party viewers. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t appear to be a big deal but if you take a look at Digg, the history starts to look a little similar. When Digg V4 came out their was a major immigration from Digg to Reddit, and that was due to a change in how the site worked. Reddit is starting to walk a very fine line with its new changes. It is only a matter of time before they push a little too far and make a change the user base doesn’t like. At the moment there are no real Reddit alternatives, one ex-employee recently launched Imgzy, but it is still in its infancy and Voat is still around but does not have a huge user base.

My prediction is that Reddit’s future is up in the air. It could go in a lot it different directions and it will be interesting to see where the Admins take it.

This post was originally published on my linkedin.

15 Jun 17:23

The Ultimate Guide to GIFs: How to Create Them, When to Use Them and Why They’re Essential for Every Marketer

by Ash Read

GIFs are great.

And they’re everywhere.

We use them at Buffer in our customer service tweets, our emails, our Slack channel. We include GIFs in marketing emails and team announcements. Anywhere there’s a message; there’s the chance for a GIF.

And what’s more, we’ve found GIFs get great results! GIFs in tweets are one of our top tips for more Twitter engagement. One of our most popular transactional emails we send to customers features a GIF.

Want to know how to create GIFs yourself? And know when and where to share them?

We’ve collected all the best tools, tips, and tricks for an A+ GIF game. Take a look at the list here, and feel free to leave a comment with anything more we can add or help with!

What we’ll share in this post:

In this article, we’ll give you all you need on how to start making the most impact with GIFs, including:

  1. How to create your own GIFs
  2. Where to find brilliant pre-made GIFs
  3. When to use GIFs in your marketing

Let’s start with a quick guide on some of the best tools available to create your own GIFs…

line-section

9 Simple Apps and Tools for Creating Your Own GIFs in Minutes

How to create GIFs from video

1. Gifs.com

gifs-com

If you’re looking to create a GIF from a YouTube video, Instagram post or Vine, Gifs.com is the perfect tool.

With Gifs.com, all you need to do is paste the URL of the video you’d like to convert to a GIF, and you’re all set. The app features a range of great editing tools as well, including the ability to add captions and crop the image.

2. Giphy GIF Maker

giphy

Giphy is home to one of the internet’s biggest GIF collections (more on that a little further below), but it also has some brilliant GIF making tools. The first of which, GIF Maker, enables you to create GIFs directly from video files or YouTube links.

To use GIF Maker, simply paste a video URL or upload a video file, and you’ll then be able to create a GIF and edit it within Giphy’s simple-to-use interface. With GIF Maker, you can choose the point in the video from which you’d like the GIF to start, choose the duration, and add a caption.

Once you’re happy with the way your GIF feels, click ‘Create GIF’ and it’ll be added to Giphy ready to share across any social network.

How to stitch together photos

3. Giphy Slideshow

giphy-slideshow

Slideshow, another tool made by Giphy, enables you to combine your pictures and GIFs to create animated GIF slideshows.

To get started with Slideshow, you first need to choose the still images or GIFs you’d like to use (you can combine both stills and GIFs). Then, once your images are uploaded you can choose the order in which they should appear in your GIF and the length of time the still images will appear in your slideshow before going to the next image.

4. Gifmaker.me

Gifmaker.me is a great free tool that allows you to create animated gifs and slideshows from images. Gifmaker features a useful ‘Control Panel’ allowing you to customize your GIF by changing the canvas size, speed of transitions and the number of times the GIF should repeat.

5. Imgflip

Imgflip is similar to Gifmaker.me and enables you to create a GIF from multiple images and also turn video into a GIF. Imgflip allows you to edit your GIF, too, by adding text, changing the delay and toggling with the image size. To export your final GIF without a watermark, you’ll need to be a Pro member, though.

How to edit a GIF

6. GIF Editor

giphy-editor

Giphy’s GIF Editor is a brilliant tool to edit and enhance pre-existing GIFs. The free-to-use product provides you with the opportunity to add animated stickers, fun filters, and captions to your GIFs.

To start editing a GIF, simply choose a GIF to edit by entering a GIF URL or any Giphy link or by uploading an image file from your computer. Once your GIF is ready for editing you can choose to add any stickers from Giphy’s library and choose from a wide range of filters (such as inverting your GIF or making it black and white), before adding a caption and exporting the finished item.

How to create a screencast GIF

7. CloudApp

CloudApp

Sometimes it can be super-useful to create GIFs directly from your computer screen. This technique is great to give tutorials or walk-throughs on how to use a product and also extremely handy for customer service.

CloudApp is incredibly useful and amazingly simple. It allows you to take screen recordings, annotate images, record webcam videos and much more – it’s my go-to app for GIFs.

Once you have CloudApp installed, you can record screencasts, download them as GIFS and even share them with a unique URL generated for each recording you make.

8. Recordit

recordit

Similar to CloudApp, Recordit allows you to select a section of your screen and create a GIF in seconds. Also like Cloud App, it’s a bit of software that you install to your computer (available for Windows and Mac). You can see from the GIF above how quick and easy it is to use.

9. Sir Gifs A Lot – A fun Slack GIF app we use at Buffer

Sir Gifs A Lot is a Slack-based app that lets you create GIFs from your webcam. Once you’ve connected the app to your Slack, you can create a recording by simply typing /gifalot. This is one of our favorite Slack integrations and provides us we a great way to have a bit of fun together.

gifsalot

line-end

Bonus tutorial: How to make GIFs in Photoshop

Creating GIFs in Photoshop takes a little more time than any of the other apps and products we’ve mentioned so far, but it also gives you the most freedom to create exactly what you’re looking for.

Here’s an example of a GIF we made in Photoshop using the technique we’ll explain below:

editing-post

Step 1: Load images into Photoshop

If you already have a sequence of images ready

GIFs are made up of a series of images (or frames), and if you already have a bunch of images you’d like to turn into a GIF, open Photoshop, the select File > Scripts > Load Files Into Stack. Then select ‘Browse’ and choose which files you’d like to include within your GIF.

Photoshop-step-1

(P.S. This GIF was created using CloudApp, mentioned above)

If you don’t have an image sequence ready

If you don’t have a pre-made sequence of images you’d like to use, you can create a set of new layers within Photoshop to act as the frames in your GIF. To add a new layer to your Photoshop project, chose Layer > New > Layer.

When all your layers are ready, it’s time to move onto Step 2 and create your animation.

Step 2: Create your animation

To create a GIF, you need a Timeline. A Timeline will help you organize your images into a flowing animation ready to export as a GIF. To get started with your Timeline, click Window > Timeline.

timeline

You’ll then see a Timeline appear at the bottom of your screen.

Next, you need to create your animation. To do this, click ‘Create Frame Animation’ within your Timeline and then click the menu in the right-hand corner of your Timeline and choose ‘Make Frames From Layers.’

animation

Now that all of your frames are in place, it’s a good idea to run through your animation by hitting the Play button in the bottom left of your Timeline. If any frames are out of place, you can drag and drop them to a new position in the Timeline.

Step 3: Export your GIF

Once you’re happy with the way your GIF is looking, it’s time to export it for use on your website, social media profiles, or anywhere you’d like to share it. To export your GIF, click File > Export > Save for Web (Legacy).

You’ll now see the ‘Save for Web’ window, and this is where you can choose the type of GIF you’d like to create. You can see all of the available options by clicking Presets. The choices include GIF 32, GIF 64 and GIF 128 – you can also choose Dithered or No Dither. The number after the GIF indicates the number of colors that’ll be included in your GIF and including Dither helps to alleviate color banding.

export-gif

How to convert a video into a GIF using Photoshop

Photoshop can also help you convert a video into a GIF by transforming each frame of the video into a frame within Photoshop. To import a video, click File > Import > Video Frames to Layers. You’ll then have the option to choose how much of the video you import and whether you’d like to pull in every frame (for longer GIFs, importing every other frame should be sufficient quality).

import-video

Once you’ve imported your video, you can add text, captions and edits withing Photoshop and then follow Step 3 above to export your GIF.

line-section

5 Must-Visit Websites to Find the Perfect Pre-Made GIF

There are tons of GIF resources out there; here are just a few of our favorites:

1. Buffer Mood Board

GIF mood board

There’s a chance we’re a tiny bit partial to our own resource, the Buffer Mood Board. Find positive, safe-for-work GIFs for specific occasions like hello, thank you, goodbye and more.

And then share them directly from Buffer in one easy step!

We’re particularly excited to share the Mood Board as it comes along with our announcement that you can now share and schedule GIFs from the Buffer dashboard or extension!

2. Giphy

giphy

With tons of GIFs and GIFs alone, a great search function and pre-selected categories, Giphy is the gold standard of GIF finding.

3. Google image search

Google images

Perhaps the best-known place to search for anything—including GIFs—is Google. To include only GIF images in your search, navigate to an image search and then use the search tools to choose animated images under “Type”.

4. Tumblr

Tumblr search

Tumblr is often Ground Zero for GIF culture and finding the memes of tomorrow before they blow up. Explore all GIFs here, or search for a specific GIF type using the Tumblr search bar.

5. Imgur

imgur

You never quite know what you’re going to find on Imgur, a viral photo, video, and GIF hub that gets over 150 million monthly visitors.

Try your luck with the site’s grab bag of new and viral GIFs here, or search by topic or activity.

A quick note of caution: If you or your company is in a highly regulated area or might be a bit wary of using copyrighted work in your social sharing, it might be worthwhile to consider the risk attached to using GIFs. Never fear, though—you can still make your own GIFs!

line-section

When to use GIFs and why they’re essential for every marketer

1. Use GIFs to show your brand’s personality

Social media is fun—why else would we spend so much time on it? Brands who manage to stay human and share authentically can create a deep and special relationship with their audience, and funny/weird/endearing GIFs can be a part of that.

Who’s using it? Denny’s has built a devoted fan base by being just a bit “out there” with its social media presence, including wacky but mesmerizing GIFs like this one.

dennysgif

2. Use GIFs to show off a product

Want to give your audience a closer look at your product? GIFs can show off the kind of details and motion that can entice shoppers.

Who’s using it? Marie Claire took advantage of the GIF format to offer viewers a look at a product: these killer gladiator sandals.

3. Use GIFs to explain a process or a how-to

Sometimes it’s a lot easier to explain something in an image than it would be with words. For step-by-step how-tos, following along with processes, or even quick recipes, a GIF can be exactly what you need.

Who’s using it? Here, the Huffington Post explains 5 ways to wear a scarf. Imagine trying to write this process down!

how to wear a scarf GIF

4. Use GIFs to thank someone

Saying “thank you” with a GIF on Twitter can provide an extra touch of delight. Our own Kevan Lee shows you how in this quick video:

Who’s using it? Here at Buffer, we’re big fans of conversation through GIFs. Here is an example of a recent moment where communicating with GIFs just felt right.

giphy-1

5. Use GIFs to create a tiny presentation

Think a GIF is too brief a vessel to get a real point across? I was skeptical, too, until I saw some of the amazing mini-presentations that can be shared in this format.

Who’s using it? For example, check out how The Center for Investigative Reporting tells a whole, eye-catching story in just a few frames—and creates curiosity to learn more.

Creating a micro-presentation, sharing a mini-screen recording or even a simple cartoon to complement your tweet’s primary message Who’s using it: The Center for Investigative Reporting

6. Use GIFs to tell a story

GIFs can be particularly effective when you want to string multiple still images together to tell a story of motion or change over time.

Who’s using it? When the New York Times announced a new homepage a while back, this GIF that displays how the news site had evolved over time got tons of shares and conversation.

evolution of the nytimes

7. Use GIFS to play an ad

Got a TV or print advertisement you want to get a bit more play out of? Transfer it into GIF form!

Who’s using it? When Bloomberg released their groundbreaking “What Is Code?” issue (please please please read it; it’s amazing!); they gave audiences a teaser of the innovative storytelling in the article with this GIF.

Businessweek-code_gif

8. Use GIFs to animate data

A really awesome way to use a GIF is to give your audience context into a piece of data or statistic through an animated diagram or graphic.

Who’s using it? NPR used an animated GIF to show the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria—a far cry from the memes and jokes GIFs are best known for.

animating data GIF

9. Use GIFs to offer a sneak peek

Want to share just a tiny look at a future product, big announcement or upcoming release? A GIF can be the perfect bite-size teaser.

Who’s using it? The 10th season of HBO’s football documentary series “Hard Knocks” focuses on the Houston Texans, who tweeted a sneak peek recently.

10. Use GIFS to highlight your company culture

Give your audience a peek inside your company: Who you are, what you look like, what makes you laugh and what you’re up to every day at work. GIFs can be a fun, lighthearted way to share a bit of your company culture and bring your fans closer to you.

Who’s using it? Wistia does such a great job of injecting personality and fun into everything they share on social media. In this example, they use a fun and friendly GIF to introduce some teammates and pave the way for some great networking.

Over to you

GIFs are such a fun area to dig into, and I hope you found this guide useful. It feels like we still have a ton to learn about GIF making, too, and I’d love to learn from you here.

How do you use GIFs in your marketing or social media? What’s your all-time favorite GIF? It’d be great to hear all about it in the comments!

Image sources: Michael Shillinburg

15 Jun 17:22

My Fast and Furious Fact Check Challenge

by News

I have just launched my Fast and Furious Fact Check Challenge with a prize of $50,000 to a team or individual that comes up with a tech solution that will check accuracy in seconds.

Today’s “always on” environment, together with social media, really does give us the ability to hear anything said by anyone, anywhere, anytime. Ironically, this flood of material makes it difficult to know what is actually true! Knowing the believability and accuracy of what we read, hear and see is important around the world — and no less important for us here in the world’s leading democracy.

Fact checking is the process of verifying what someone has said, and then receiving a rating about the accuracy of the ‘fact.’ Fact checking enables us to sort through a tidal wave of massive information and communication.

Some fact checking services exist, but none are instant.

Fact checking today is done mostly by qualified humans. It’s a laborious, time-consuming process that is not easy, quick, cheap or comprehensive. There simply aren’t enough journalism researchers with the skills to verify all the claims made by our political candidates and public figures. It often takes a day or more to verify the accuracy of statements, especially in the context that they were made. And as time elapses, the truth moves further and further away from us.

The critical time to know if political claims and statements are accurate is now — as we read or view it. Therefore, the breakthroughs sought in this prize are those that improve speed of results in fact checking.

What You Can Do To Cause A Breakthrough

Read the complete challenge guidelines to see the rules and requirements for entry into the challenge.

Click the “Start here” button above to compete in the challenge. You will be notified when we’re ready to start accepting submissions.

Click the “Follow” button above to be notified of any status updates to the challenge.

Click on the “Share” button or social media icons above to share this challenge with your friends, your family, or anyone you know who has a passion for discovery.

Leave a comment in our Forum to join the conversation, ask questions or connect with other innovators.

The post My Fast and Furious Fact Check Challenge appeared first on Diane Francis.

15 Jun 17:19

The Twitter Tactics of Hillary and Donald

by Jarrett Chouinard

“Delete your account.” With this simple three word tweet late last week, it could be argued that presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, officially brought the battleground for the White House to Twitter. The Twittersphere took notice – making this Mrs. Clinton’s most favorited tweet of all time.

The Twitter Tactics of Hillary and Donald

With the evolution of social media, there has been a shift in the way that politicians communicate with each other, and people can now easily follow the live action on Twitter. Hashtags and retweets have become some of the most valuable marketing campaign currency. However this isn’t the first time a newly evolved medium has had a strong hand in the presidential election.

The Medium Becomes the Message

In the 1920s and 30s, radio literally gave political candidates a voice, where speaking skills and speeches were judged right from the living rooms of America.  Franklin Roosevelt mastered this art through his fireside chats that engaged the nation.

In the 1960s, television put a face to the voices of politicians.  In many regards, this was the birth of the modern political campaign. John Kennedy harnessed the new medium to appeal to the young, popular culture which played a significant role in his victory over Richard Nixon.

Clinton’s Twitter Evolution

Early on in Clinton’s current campaign, she was very scripted and predictable in her Twitter posts, but her social media presence has evolved into a broad and appealing platform targeted toward a younger audience. Mrs. Clinton’s Twitter account has become increasingly responsive and agile, responding to live issues and news as well as the rhetoric of her presumptive presidential rival, Donald Trump.

While her three word tweet may appear to be an aggressive command, it does have some cultural history behind it. The phrase “delete your account” has been in the “Black Twitter” community for some time now, and is used as an insult. Although this tweet is funny, it can also be interpreted as a sign of Clinton’s attempt to reach young black voters in a more casual way.

Since joining the Twitter community in 2013, Clinton has gained almost 7 million followers. It has been noted that Hillary has a staff of dozens producing original content, including news stories, professional video, all managed by an audience development team.

The Don Of Twitter

By comparison, Donald Trump has been an active Twitter user since 2009 and has over 9 million followers. His Twitter dexterity has been a wide topic of conversation throughout the 2016 election. Trump’s impulsive and uncensored personality is a perfect fit for this medium.

Multiple times a day he responds to rumors, comments on media topics, and engages with his legion of followers. He’s often swift to respond to developing news (and also first to provoke, rather than inform). With enough content and continuous posts, he has demonstrated a unique ability to control a large part of the electoral conversation.

The insults are sure to get nastier as November 8th approaches, and social media has provided us a front row seat to evaluate the tactics of politicians on Twitter. Who knows – in a future campaign maybe we’ll be casting our votes from the platform as well.

The post The Twitter Tactics of Hillary and Donald appeared first on Social Media Explorer.

   

Related Stories

15 Jun 17:14

Hillary Clinton opens up double-digit lead in new Bloomberg poll as Donald Trump’s struggles continue

by John McCormick, Bloomberg News

Democrat Hillary Clinton has opened up a double-digit lead nationally over Republican Donald Trump, whose negatives remain unusually high for a presidential candidate amid early indications that the Orlando terrorist attack has had little direct impact on the 2016 race.

A new Bloomberg Politics national poll shows Clinton leading Trump 49 per cent to 37 per cent among likely voters in November’s election, with 55 per cent of those polled saying they could never vote for the real-estate developer and TV personality.

Most national polls in late May and early June showed a closer race, but they were taken before criticism intensified of Trump’s charge that a U.S. judge overseeing fraud cases against Trump University is biased because of the judge’s Mexican heritage. Fifty-five per cent of likely voters in the new poll said they were very bothered by those comments.

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images
Jeff Swensen/Getty ImagesPresumptive Democratic nominee for president Hillary Clinton speaks to supporters at the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers Hall on Tuesday, June 14, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“Clinton has a number of advantages in this poll, in addition to her lead,” said pollster J. Ann Selzer, who oversaw the survey. “Her supporters are more enthusiastic than Trump’s and more voters overall see her becoming a more appealing candidate than say that for Trump.”

One bit of positive news for Trump in the results is that he narrowly edges out Clinton, 45 per cent to 41 per cent, when those surveyed were asked which candidate they would have more confidence in if a similar attack to the one in Florida took place a year from now. The violence left 49 victims dead, the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

Fifty per cent to 45 per cent, Trump is also viewed as stronger among likely voters in combating terrorist threats at home and abroad.

The Bloomberg poll is the first major telephone survey since the mass shooting, heightened furor over Trump’s statements about the judge, and Clinton’s June primary victories in California and other states that cemented her status as the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Jim Cole / AP
Jim Cole / APRepublican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop at Saint Anselm College Monday, June 13, 2016, in Manchester, N.H.

The poll was conducted Friday through Monday, with additional questions about terrorism, guns, and Muslims added after the carnage early Sunday in Orlando.

Results from those questions have a higher margin of error-plus or minus 4.9 percentage points-than the rest of the poll. The poll used likely voters for its presidential horse-race questions, while most national surveys earlier this year have used the larger universes of registered voters or simply adults.

While the shooting didn’t alter the poll’s night-by-night findings in the presidential race in any significant way, the incident did alter the trend lines on other measures.

The proportion of Americans saying the nation is on the right track dropped to 19 per cent from 27 per cent, when compared before and after the Orlando incident. The share saying terrorism or the Islamic State is the most important election issue rose to 28 per cent from 16 per cent.

When two days of polling before Orlando are compared with the two days after, President Barack Obama’s job approval rating dropped to 51 per cent from 55 per cent, while his favourability dropped to 52 per cent from 57 per cent.

Trump’s suggestions that Obama hasn’t taken forceful enough action to stop domestic terrorism because he sides with Muslims landed with a thud for the majority of Americans, with 61 per cent disagreeing with the suggestion. A strong majority — 69 per cent — also disagree that law enforcement agencies should increase surveillance of all American Muslims, even if it conflicts with civil liberties.

There’s greater division on whether the U.S. should ban the sale of all semi-automatic or automatic rifles to civilians, with 50 percent saying no and 48 per cent saying yes. A plurality of 47 per cent agree with Trump’s suggestion that avoiding the phrase “radical Islam” makes the U.S. look weak in fighting terrorism, while 44 per cent disagree.

Clinton’s polling advantage over Trump followed a strong week for her that has included primary wins and multiple endorsements, including from Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. She is expected to win the one remaining Democratic primary Tuesday in the District of Columbia.

The former secretary of state is far from universally loved, but the share of likely voters who say they could never vote for her-43 per-cent-is much lower than Trump’s 55 per cent.

Scott Olson / Getty Images
Scott Olson / Getty ImagesTrump spoke at the National Rifle Association's Leadership Forum in Louisville, Kentucky in May.

Other troubling findings for Trump in poll include how 63 per cent of women say they could never vote for him. “If you can never get the vote of two in three women, who are a majority of voters, that is something that has to change for Trump to emerge victorious,” Selzer said.

Similar proportions of those younger than 35 and those with incomes of less than $50,000 also say they could never support him.

Trailing Clinton and Trump is Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson. The former New Mexico governor recorded 9 percent among likely voters, below the 15-per cent average he’d need in national polls to be included in this year’s presidential debates.

How things play out in the dozen or so battleground states that typically decide presidential elections may be more important than broad national trends, but some indicators are telling. Clinton dominates with many of the groups typically important in general elections, winning the support of 57 per cent of women, 58 per cent of those who aren’t married, and 77 per cent of non-whites.

Those who backed Clinton’s nomination challenger, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, are mostly rallying around her. She receives 55 per cent from Sanders supporters, while Trump gets 22 percent and Johnson gets 18 percent.

I would like to see a third party established so that we have more choices.

For his part, Trump is winning 50 per cent support from white men, compared to 33 per cent for Clinton and 13 percent for Johnson. He’s getting 54 per cent support among evangelical Christians, while Clinton gets 36 per cent from that group.

White men are among Trump’s strongest demographics. But even there he’s not showing as much strength as the party’s last nominee, Mitt Romney, who beat Obama in 2012 by 62 per cent to 35 per cent among white men, according to exit polls.

More of Clinton’s supporters are excited than Trump’s as the two embark on the start of the general election, with 43 per cent of the Democrat’s backers saying they’re “very enthusiastic” about their nominee, compared to 33 per cent who say that among those backing Trump.

Timothy A. Clary / AFP / Getty Images
Timothy A. Clary / AFP / Getty ImagesDemocratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton celebrates on stage during her primary night event at the Duggal Greenhouse, Brooklyn Navy Yard, June 7, 2016 in New York.

Among all likely general-election voters, nearly two-thirds say Trump is becoming less appealing to them, while 51 per cent say that of Clinton.

“I would like to see a third party established so that we have more choices,” said poll participant Shawn Barry, 52, a truck driver from Omaha, Nebraska. Barry said he plans to write in Sanders’ name on his November ballot, calling Clinton “part of the problem” and Trump a “big practical joke.”

Almost two-thirds of likely voters say they expect Trump to continue to say things that will upset some Republicans, while 30 per cent say they anticipate he’ll tone down his rhetoric and say fewer inflammatory things.

For her part, 60 per cent say they expect Clinton will continue to face questions about the use of a personal email account for official business when she was secretary of state, while 35 per cent think the issue will be put to rest before the election.

On possible lines of attack against Clinton and Trump, the survey found several that resonate strongly with likely voters.

Sixty-two per cent of those planning to vote in November said they’re bothered a lot by Trump’s use of words like “pig,” “slob,” “bimbo,” and other lewd comments to describe women.

Roughly half are that say they are troubled about Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. His calls to deport an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants and his statement that Mexican immigrants are “bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists” bothers 50 per cent a lot.

Forty-five per cent say they are bothered a lot about Trump University, his for-profit real-estate program that’s been accused in lawsuits and by state officials of misleading students. The same number say they are bothered a lot that Trump hasn’t released his tax returns, potentially breaking with a precedent for a major-party nominee that has spanned 40 years.

For Clinton, half of likely voters say they are bothered a lot that she has given speeches to Wall Street banks that paid her hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Roughly that same proportion-47 per-cent-say they are that bothered that the Clinton foundation took money from foreign countries while Clinton was secretary of state, raising questions about special treatment for those countries.

Forty-five per cent say they are bothered a lot by Clinton’s use of a private email server for official business that wasn’t allowed while she was secretary of state.

Just more than a third say they are bothered a lot that Clinton has been accused of working to undermine the reputations of women who were linked to former President Bill Clinton’s infidelity.

Her tenure in Washington since the 1990s deeply bothers 35 per cent of likely voters, at least when they’re told that she’s part of the Washington establishment and not a leader with different ideas and perspectives.

The fact that she’s been called a failure as secretary of state by critics because of continued violence in the Middle East and the rise of the Islamic State is deeply concerning to 38 per cent.

The poll interviewed 1,000 adults, including 750 who said they’re likely to vote in November’s general election. It also interviewed an additional 150 adults on Monday night, asking them only questions related to the Orlando attack. A total of 408 answered those questions in the survey, which was conducted by Selzer & Co. of West Des Moines, Iowa. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.6 percentage points on questions involving likely voters, while it’s plus or minus 3.1 percentage points for those asked of all adults.

15 Jun 17:12

3 Ways To Boost Sales With A Back-End Offer

by Susan Friesen

boost-sales-with-back-end-offer

Looking to grow your sales online? Provide an inviting back-end offer!

Webinars and freebies are an excellent way to invite new prospects into your sales funnel, but where most people leave money on the table is forgetting to provide back-end offers.

Once people say “yes” to your back-end offer, they are much more likely to say “yes” to you.

Here are some techniques for creating back-end offers that drive sales:

Create a Back-End Offer That Converts

Perhaps you have seen top experts offering a copy of their book for $1 plus shipping and handling, or maybe you have signed up for a free on-demand webinar.

When you get a chance to learn something valuable for free, it’s exciting. But smart marketers know that getting you to sign up for that initial free offer is just the tip of the iceberg in the marketing funnel process.

After you sign up for that initial offering, it’s what comes next that’s the game changer.

Here are 3 ways you can make sure your back-end offer will convert:

  1. On the “Thank You” page that appears after they sign up for the initial free offer, provide an additional video explaining your up-sell offer.It can be a link to a mastermind program, an online event, a group coaching program, or a more in-depth product to help them reach their goal.
  2. Add an exit pop-up if they close out the site, which offers them a special discount if they buy the product right now.
  3. Follow up with an autoresponder that explains further about the upsell.It could read something like this:

    “I hope you enjoyed the training videos I sent you on High Engagement Facebook Tactics, which I sent as thanks for checking out my new book, ‘High Power Lead Generation with Facebook.’I also wanted you to invite you to register for my new advanced course.

    It’s all about how to hit higher levels of followers, engagement, and lead generation with little-known Facebook hacks for your business page.

    It’s what Facebook marketing can truly do for your business and it’s what the world’s most successful online brands are doing now.

    You’ll be blown away by what I reveal.

    Please view this video today, as registration will close soon on this special invitation only training.”

Back-End Offers Unleash the Profit Potential in Your Business

The bottom line is that you want to get a large volume of people on your email marketing list by making it inviting with an attractive free offering.

Then, once they trust you, have many items, products, and programs to offer them on the back end, and you will make a fortune online!

Contact the marketing team at eVision Media to learn more about how you can improve the profitability of your website today!

15 Jun 17:12

How Marketers Can Gain the Trust of Tech-Savvy Consumers

by Drew Himel

How Marketers Can Gain the Trust of Tech-Savvy Consumers

As technology advances, consumers are becoming experts at blocking out content that appears fake or gimmicky. Tech-savvy consumers want a relationship with a company that is built on trust, not sales tactics, and consumers don’t want to wait for that trust. (highlight to tweet)

These are big changes, to be sure, but today’s technological progression is also an incredible opportunity for marketers to give their consumers cutting-edge content and strategies tailored to fit their new behavior. Businesses that focus on an incredible customer experience will be able to maintain their competitive advantage.

As a content marketer, you need to simplify your approach to consumers in order to stay ahead of these technological advancements. And no matter what data or tactics you use with your consumers, the founding principles of reaching your consumer base must stay consistent. Here are four strategies to remember as you try to reach consumers in a tech-savvy world.

1. Tell Your Whole Story

Consumers increasingly distrust corporations. The more openly and transparently your brand can approach consumers, the more trust you’ll be able to build. Build your company’s blog around your company’s best practices — especially concerning how you’ll be using the metrics and information you collect from landing pages and other data-capturing means.

The clothing company Everlane has differentiated its brand from other e-commerce sites by providing transparent, open communication about its pricing and production process. Its website tells consumers exactly how much it costs to make each shirt. The factories page profiles each workshop or why it selected certain fabrics. It’s compelling storytelling, and it’s contributing to the brand’s growth.

2. Cultivate a Relationship With Your Consumers

You need to offer high-quality content that makes an impact with your customers during each interaction. Use content tailored to your audience, and remember that your conversation is more than just a sales pitch; it’s the start of a relationship between brand and consumer.

Who is your consumer, and how can your brand solve her challenges? Inquire about your consumers’ personal stories, and see how your brand fits into them. Look at every single interaction with your leads and consumers, and use the information gleaned from those interactions to determine what value you can bring to them in different forms of content.

3. Provide Context Around Each Communication

Consumers aren’t just tech-savvy; they’re also information-savvy. To navigate online distractions, they have built a protective wall around their internet attention. If consumers are going to engage with a brand, they want an experience personalized to them.

Amazon does this better than anyone. Technology gives Amazon a treasure trove of data about its consumers—including me. I might get 20 emails a month from Amazon, recommending new books to read or items related to my wish list. I read all these emails because they contain so much rich contextual information. Shopping is no longer a standalone experience; it can be a quick and easy interaction that results from ongoing, personalized engagement.

One way to create that context is by using the data you receive from your website visitors. Centralize those data, so you can build a more contextual digital experience throughout the whole communication process. Then, you can tailor your emails and blog posts to the types of visitors you want.

4. Reduce Friction With Visits to Your Site

The most successful brands actively work to build fewer friction points into their associated technology. The tech-savvy consumer wants a seamless experience, so opening multiple apps and requiring off-site searches and downloads is a sure way to build brand frustration. For example, your leads shouldn’t have to click offsite to find your company’s blog or open too many tabs to find the whitepaper that will work best for them.

That’s why apps like WeChat are so attractive. Along with its basic communication features, WeChat lets users order food, pay bills, or find coupons in one integrated app—presenting a huge opportunity for brands to break through the clutter. Instead of just posting a discount code on its Facebook page, Starbucks could use WeChat to direct customers to the nearest coffee shop, provide gift card balances, or send customized promotions based on each customer’s past orders, all without ever leaving this one seamless app.

WeChat is extremely popular in China because of this reduced friction. While the app is less widely embraced in the U.S., Facebook is starting to fill the void by integrating more features into Messenger. For example, after chatting with a friend about meeting up for lunch, the app will let you order your ride.

Put These Principles to Work

My company’s work with Baptist Health used these four principles to build its Good for You wellness community. We used data from Baptist’s website and consumer research to create high-quality blogs and engage users on the site. There, healthcare practitioners can review their patients’ ages, locations, and goals, and match them up with physicians or offer advice tailored to individual needs. It’s a streamlined, contextual experience that solves a complex problem: reaching Baptist’s consumers to build trust, engagement, and value in a technology-driven world.

Technology is an influential tool making its mark on new consumer behavior. It may seem daunting to plan a content marketing campaign for your brand around new consumer preferences, but it’s actually a great opportunity to have an impact on each individual lead.

Get more content like this, plus the very BEST marketing education, totally free. Get our Definitive email newsletter.

15 Jun 17:11

Why barriers to trade between the provinces leave us all poorer

by Trevor Tombe

interprovincial trade_postThe Senate has a message: Mr. Trudeau, tear down these walls.

In a report released Tuesday morning, Canada’s Senate makes a strong case that artificial economic walls between provinces have no place in our confederation. These walls are not tariffs or quotas, of course, but countless thousands of sometimes minor differences in rules and regulations. Such differences make it hard to operate across borders and equally hard for goods and services to move freely.

To make this concrete, the Senate Tweeted ten noteworthy examples. It’s worth a read, so here it is.

fig1

It’s an interesting list. No legitimate public policy objective is served by legislating different creamer containers, beer bottle sizes, organic kale standards, or maple syrup grades. But item #7 on carbon pricing policy differences isn’t so silly, and doesn’t really belong. More on this later. The list is also silent on the countless differences in professional certifications, apprenticeship rules, or other such barriers to labour mobility and trade in services. It also doesn’t tackle biased government procurement policies, such as governments in one province giving contracts for supplies, say, to potentially more expensive local firms when better suppliers in another province are ready, willing, and able.

In any case, it serves an important illustrative purpose. Though all individually may seem trivial, and perhaps some of them are, slight difference in rules and regulations can inhibit trade and impose costs upon households and businesses. These costs add up and our economy is smaller for it.

Some Context

Before turning to the specifics of the Senate recommendations, let me set the stage in an overly simple, but hopefully helpful, way.

We live on islands. Or, more accurately, most of us live within relatively isolated pockets of economic activity. To illustrate, roughly 80 per cent of Canada’s economic activity is generated within the regions shaded below. (A loose approximation based on the Census Tracts that account for roughly 80 per cent of income.)

fig2

Trade is critical to connect these pockets of activity and ensure high standards of living in each. Without trade, each island would have only itself and its residents would be far (far) worse off.

Imagine life on the Island of Edmonton without trade. Gone are the days of enjoying Pacific Salmon, or of driving cars assembled in Ontario. And gone are the days of exporting your beef and oil in exchange for those goods. You might eventually figure out how to make your own car, or fish farm your own Salmon. But it just wouldn’t be as good. In autarky, you’re alone—and you’re poor. Trade is critical.

Another way to see the importance of trade between Canada’s provinces is to look at the data. The value of goods and services shipped between provinces is equivalent to 20 per cent of Canada’s GDP. That’s approaching $400 billion dollars—and more than half of that is trade in services, rather than physical goods. These are big numbers. Compare them with international exports, which gets most of our attention, at roughly 30 per cent of GDP. For some provinces, the two types of trade are very similar in size, and for others, internal trade even exceeds international.

fig3

Though 20 per cent might seem large, it’s been larger. In 1981, internal trade was just over 25 per cent of Canada’s economy and equal in value to international trade. Since then, internal trade has declined and stagnated while international trade has increased. In only three provinces has internal trade increased.

fig4

This suggests a problem. Canada’s trade policy is focused on other countries, with internal trade left to the provinces (who haven’t done very much). In fact, the Senate report notes that with the approaching Canada-EU agreement, we will be in a situation where European companies have easier access to some Canadian markets than Canadian companies from another province.

So internal trade is declining relative to international, and there are numerous regulatory barriers that might be at fault. But why does this matter? For one, lowering internal trade costs would mean an improved Canadian economy. By how much is a trickier question, as estimates vary. The Senate heard testimony from a variety of sources, and the range of estimates span two orders of magnitude. From a low of less than $30 per person per year, to a high of nearly $4,000. Despite the range of estimates, I strongly suspect the true cost is in the tens of billions of dollars nationally, and potentially over $100 billion. (Quick aside: I’m one of the researchers, along with Lukas Albrecht, behind the high estimate cited by the Senate report. Our estimates suggest internal trade barriers may shrink Canada’s economy by between 3 to 7 per cent. That’s a range $60-130 billion per year.)

Regardless of how costly internal trade is for our economy, no credible research suggests it is zero. So if there are simple and sensible proposals to unify our markets, why not pursue them?

What the Senate Recommends

The Senate has several recommendations, the big ones can be summarized as:

1. Reach a deal that harmonizes or mutually recognizes regulations, standards, or certifications throughout Canada. Make it broad, and make it enforceable.

2. Establish a corridor within which pipelines, railways, fibre optic lines, power transmission lines, and so on, could be built and operate more easily than under the existing ad-hoc, project-by-project approach.

The second item recognizes that some trade is blocked because of a lack of proper infrastructure (such as pipelines, to name an obvious example). I’ll have little to say about this, but interested readers should see this recent report from the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy by Kent Fellows and Andrei Sulzenko. It’s a very compelling idea.

For most other trade, the first item gets to the heart of the matter. As barriers are due to differences in rules and regulations, we need some way to either harmonize them or for provinces to mutually recognize each other’s.

Mutual recognition is an attractive way forward. Any certification valid for an occupation in one province would be valid in all, or any product standard valid in one province would be valid in all. Simply put: if it’s good enough in B.C., it’s good enough in Ontario. Period. All regulatory barriers to trade in goods and in services swept away.

Actual policy though can’t be this simple; compromises are inevitable and there would (and should) be exceptions. The carbon taxes in B.C. and Alberta are in many ways superior to Ontario and Quebec’s cap-and-trade schemes. But both aim at clear and defensible public policy objectives, and potentially respond to unique their economic circumstances or policy preferences of their electorates.

So what’s a good (and realistic) deal between the provinces look like? It would be broad, cover issues of labour mobility, trade in services, and government procurement, but it would also include two critical features. First, it would use a “negative list” approach. Instead of provinces saying where they would harmonize or mutually recognize, they’d say where they wouldn’t. Make free and unencumbered trade the default, not the other way around.

A good deal would also include formal and binding ways to settle differences. This is critical. For a deal to matter, it must be enforceable. That means having a dispute resolution mechanism with teeth. It means large penalties for non-compliance or, better yet, the authority to impose changes on a province’s regulations. Think of it like binding arbitration. An enforceable deal also means giving businesses that might run into artificial and unnecessary barriers the ability to challenge governments before any such tribunals.

If such a sweeping and binding deal cannot be reached, or begins to take too long (read: July 1, 2017), the Senate recommends an interesting “contingency plan” for the Federal government: get the Supreme Court involved.

The legal issues are interesting. Section 121 of our constitution states, “All Articles of Growth, Produce, or Manufacture of any one Province shall, from and after the Union, be admitted free into each of the other Provinces.” But, does this mean provinces can’t regulate freely within their own areas of jurisdiction? Section 92, after all, outlines a number of such areas, such as property rights, the incorporation of companies, or (critically) the regulation of trade and industry within a province. And Section 121 says articles of “manufacture”, so where does that leave services? Depending on how the Supreme Court rules on such questions, the Federal government might find itself with the power to enforce harmonization or mutual recognition on recalcitrant provinces. That would be a very interesting—though messy and politically acrimonious—route. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

All of this will pose a challenge to provincial governments and those that claim sovereignty is being undermined. But everyone will be in the same boat, and the costs of compromising on some policies are outweighed by the benefits from a larger and more unified market.

Overall, the Senate report is strong. It recognizes the importance of trade between provinces, and the economic consequences of inhibiting it. It sketches out the characteristics of what a good deal would look like, and what the Federal government should do to get there. It will prove a useful yardstick by which we can measure any future deal the Provinces come up with. We should all be watching closely.

The post Why barriers to trade between the provinces leave us all poorer appeared first on Macleans.ca.

15 Jun 17:10

Canadian junior miner caught up in corruption, murder scandal in Kenya

by Peter Koven

U.S. President Barack Obama made a frank declaration when he travelled to Kenya last summer that corruption in his ancestral homeland was rampant and needed to stop.

“It’s important that not only low-level corruption is punished, but folks at the top, if they are taking from the people, that has to be addressed as well,” he said in a rousing speech in Nairobi.

But the recent crisis at Pacific Wildcat Resources Corp., a small Canadian company, suggests conditions haven’t changed enough.

Jacob had told us on a number of occasions how he was under threat of being murdered

In 2013, the company’s licence for its Mrima Hill niobium project was cancelled by the government under suspicious circumstances, prompting cries of corruption and an international arbitration case being launched against Kenya. But all that turned out to be a precursor to something much worse.

On May 5, Pacific Wildcat filed all its evidence in Washington for the US$2.1-billion arbitration case. Later that day, a director from its Kenyan unit was shot dead in Nairobi.

Handout
HandoutJacob Juma

The murder of Jacob Juma, a high-profile Kenyan businessmen with interests in many industries, shocked the nation. The 45-year-old was an outspoken critic of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government, frequently accusing it of corruption. No charges have been laid yet, and as details have trickled out, there have been more questions than answers.

The Pacific Wildcat case highlights the serious risk that resource companies take on in volatile emerging markets, particularly countries such as Kenya that have a limited history of large-scale mining. While this is an extreme example of what can go wrong, Canadian miners have fought arbitration battles in many other countries in recent years, including Venezuela, Mongolia and Ecuador.

We abandoned everything. We abandoned vehicles, all our records, workshops and tools. Everything

The Kenyan government has taken control of the Mrima Hill asset with stated plans to develop the mine through a state-controlled mining company. For their own safety, Pacific Wildcat insiders have no intention of returning to Kenya. Their main hope to recover value is through arbitration.

“The licence has lost all value to us,” said David Anderson, a Pacific Wildcat director and head of its Kenyan unit. “It might have value to the Chinese or Russians.”

Like other miners in this situation, Pacific Wildcat flew under the radar until it discovered something big. Then it started running into opposition.

Pacific Wildcat Resources
Pacific Wildcat ResourcesPacific Wildcat Resources' Cortec Mining in Kenya. The Mrima Hill Project is a world class Niobium and Rare Earth Resource located in Kenya.

The company, which is based in Vancouver but has executives across the globe, started work in Kenya in 2007 and quickly identified Mrima Hill as a prime exploration target.

Pacific Wildcat began an aggressive drilling campaign and eventually proved up a resource of 1.5 billion pounds of niobium, one of the largest of its kind in the world. The deposit also holds significant quantities of rare earth metals.

The company applied for a mining licence, which was awarded in March 2013. A few weeks later, Pacific Wildcat representatives met with Kenyatta, the newly elected president. Kenyatta had his picture taken with his guests and posted it on Facebook, accompanied by a note saying he would “encourage growth” of Kenya’s mining sector.

The licence has lost all value to us. It might have value to the Chinese or Russians

The trouble started in May, when a man named Najib Balala was appointed cabinet secretary of mining. He quickly started making noises about nationalization, suggesting Kenya was not getting enough from its mineral resources.

Juma stepped in to try to address the situation. The businessman had only just teamed up with Pacific Wildcat, having convinced the board that he could help the company get through some of the inevitable bureaucratic delays in Kenya. This was going to be his first big challenge.

Juma was summoned to a meeting at Balala’s house in July, and what happened next is heavily disputed. By Juma’s account, the politician demanded a bribe of 80 million Kenyan shillings (about $1.04 million) or else the Mrima Hill licence would be cancelled. Pacific Wildcat executives were stunned, according to Anderson.

Later that month, the company hosted a press conference after it received a key environmental approval for Mrima Hill. Balala no-showed the event, but Anderson said that Masibo pulled him aside to say the minister wanted to renegotiate the licence.

Pacific Wildcat’s board flat out refused to renegotiate. A few weeks later, its licence was indeed cancelled, along with dozens of others.

The cancellation was officially announced on Twitter, according to the company. The resulting international arbitration case is believed to be the first to revolve around a Tweet.

Balala said he cancelled the licences because they were awarded during a transitional period in government, and he wanted to crack down on “briefcase” companies that did not invest in Kenya.

Juma was livid by what happened. Never one to shy away from scandal, he decided to call a press conference and publicly accused Balala of demanding the bribe. Moses Masibo, Kenya’s commissioner of mines at that time, appeared at the meeting and supported the allegation. Juma also testified about it in Kenyan court. Predictably, it triggered an uproar in parliament, though Balala denied any wrongdoing.

Shortly after the cancellation, Pacific Wildcat let go its entire Kenyan staff apart from the general manager and a few employees. Anderson said the general manager, a South African named Deon Alberts, started to experience intimidation from local police and immigration officials and later left the country for his own safety.

“We abandoned everything. We abandoned vehicles, all our records, workshops and tools. Everything,” Anderson said.

He noted that even the logged drill samples were left behind, meaning Pacific Wildcat has essentially “drawn the treasure map” for Mrima Hill.

Associated Press
Associated PressKenyan deputy president William Ruto.

About a year after the cancellation, Anderson met with Balala and deputy president Ruto to try to resolve the crisis. To his shock, he said they demanded that the Mrima Hill licence be transferred to a new company, and that the government wanted to get up to half the project for free.

The company ultimately decided there was no way to get its licence back on reasonable terms, and launched the arbitration case last year. The company is seeking at least US$2.1 billion in compensation.

Juma continued to accuse the government of corruption right up to his death. He was particularly critical of deputy president William Ruto, who was facing murder and persecution allegations from the International Criminal Court until multiple witnesses recanted their statements.

He also indicated that he knew who (would kill him). Little did we know how true these threats would become

Anderson said the businessman became increasingly concerned about his personal security in the weeks before he died. Indeed, Juma often said he expected attempts would be taken on his life, which unfortunately came true.

“Jacob had told us on a number of occasions how he was under threat of being murdered,” Kenyan Senator Boy Juma Boy said in a eulogy at his funeral, which was attended by thousands of people. “He also indicated that he knew who (would kill him). Little did we know how true these threats would become.”

Juma was found dead in his car. But an autopsy suggested that his bullet wounds were not consistent with being shot in the driver’s seat, according to reports, and guards at a construction site near the crime scene claim they never heard gunshots. Opposition politicians have alleged a coverup by police.

Pacific Wildcat is not the only Canadian company in Kenya to lose its assets under mysterious circumstances. The same thing happened to Vanoil Energy Ltd. in 2013, and that case is also in arbitration.

International arbitration is a long and costly process, but it is enforceable and can lead to big payouts for companies whose assets have been expropriated in foreign countries.

Canadian mining companies are in the midst of a big winning streak in arbitration: Gold Reserve Inc., Crystallex International Corp. and Copper Mesa Mining Corp. have all won awards in recent months. Khan Resources Inc. received a US$70-million payment from Mongolia last month after winning an arbitration decision in 2015.

In the meantime, however, the Pacific Wildcat situation is not helping Kenya attract more mining investment. In the Fraser Institute’s latest rankings of mining jurisdictions by investment attractiveness, Kenya ranked second worst in Africa (after Guinea) and eighth worst overall.

Clare Allenson, an analyst at the Eurasia Group, said that since mining is a nascent sector in Kenya without a lot of well-defined laws, it has been impacted by corruption far more than the broader economy.

“Because of that uncertain regulatory and legal environment, it’s seen as more of an opportunity by those who are interested in making extra money,” she said.

It could take years to resolve Pacific Wildcat’s arbitration hearing. But in Kenya, the Juma assassination and subsequent controversy has left much broader and more serious concerns for its citizens and foreign companies alike to contemplate.

pkoven@nationalpost.com

Twitter.com/peterkoven

 

15 Jun 17:10

Twitter Invests $70 Million in SoundCloud

by Reuters
The microblogging site's investment was part of a funding round expected to be in the range of $100 million, which would value SoundCloud at about $700 million.
15 Jun 17:09

Is the LinkedIn Acquisition Microsoft’s Attempt to Build Its Own Alphabet?

by Ben Gomes-Casseres
jun16-15-89973689

Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn is big and bold — and likely to be consequential. Precisely how consequential and in what way is still a puzzle to observers.

One reason for the uncertainty is that we don’t know yet what kind of acquisition this is. I see three possibilities, each with its own rationale and trajectory.

One type of acquisition is the strategic remix. In this model, the acquired assets and capabilities are combined with existing assets to generate new business or to save costs. Is this what Microsoft and LinkedIn are doing?

Possibly, but the concrete synergies are hard to see, especially considering the $9 billion premium that Microsoft is paying over LinkedIn’s market value as of last week. The only numbers we have so far is that the companies expect $150 million in annual savings by 2018. Beyond that, there are vague tech-speak promises of how LinkedIn’s social network might help Microsoft’s enterprise businesses. Investors can be excused for being puzzled at the numbers.

Perhaps Microsoft is not touting the value-creation potential of a strategic remix because it has just come off a big failure with that model. The company’s 2014 acquisition of Nokia’s mobile phone assets was intended to create added value by combining these hardware assets with Microsoft’s software and services. It didn’t happen. Microsoft ended up writing down the Nokia acquisition just a few years later.

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner may have had this Microsoft experience in mind when he assured his employees that their new owner would grant LinkedIn “independence.” That, he said, is what sold him on the deal. This implies that a full and close integration of services and software is explicitly being ruled out at this point.

A second type of acquisition thrives on such independence: private equity acquisitions. The model here is to buy low and hope to sell high after injecting the business with resources. PE firms usually do not seek to combine assets of different businesses, and usually use leverage to back up their investment. Is that what Microsoft is up to?

In fact, Microsoft is funding its acquisition entirely with new debt, even though it has $100 billion in cash. Why? No doubt because it can. With interest rates on government debt hovering near zero around the world, Microsoft can get credit cheaply.

And despite the hefty premium above LinkedIn’s current share price, Microsoft is buying low. It is buying LinkedIn stock at $196, roughly what it traded for a year or so ago. Since then LinkedIn suffered some difficult quarters, leading to a steep decline in its share price earlier this year. Is it so hard to imagine that Microsoft is getting a deal?

The last feature of PE acquisitions is that they take the target firm off the market, where it can be managed out of the public eye. That is not strictly the case here, but there is no doubt that LinkedIn will be somewhat insulated from the markets, being buried in Microsoft’s overall business that is almost 15 times its size in terms of market value.

But if Microsoft were following the PE model, it would not try to convince investors of the aforementioned product synergies. And, frankly, a pure PE approach would not be consistent with Satya Nadella’s efforts to forge a new strategy for Microsoft. The company is just not in the business of selling off businesses, even if it does still like to buy low.

There is a third acquisition model that in a way is a hybrid of the strategic remix and the private equity models. It’s the Google model – or rather the Alphabet model. In this strategy, the company acquires businesses or technologies that have promise but are still risky, and it nurtures them to see where they lead. It is a bit of an options game, but the idea is to keep the businesses relatively independent and to provide them with capital and management that may coax them to fly higher.

It is striking that in his letter to employees, LinkedIn’s CEO cites Google’s acquisition of YouTube as a model for his deal. That acquisition folded YouTube into Google but allowed the video company to exist relatively independently of other Google businesses, with some sharing of data, logins, and other features. Other Alphabet businesses are even more independent.

If that is Microsoft’s intent with LinkedIn, then this deal is the first installment of Microsoft’s own “alphabet.” The company may be creating a collection of businesses that are distinct from each other but support the same broad vision.

And, if it works, the collection could expand. Skype, acquired by Microsoft in 2011, would fit this strategy, as could future acquisitions – even Salesforce.com, which was thought to be on Microsoft’s radar before the LinkedIn deal came down. (Remember: credit is still cheap.)

How would Microsoft manage this collection of businesses? Differently from its core business, that’s for sure. Microsoft’s core is a huge annuity based on a dominant market share. The reason to have an array of related but independent businesses is to manage them as options on future growth. They can be made to play with the core when it makes sense, but they can otherwise be “independent,” the term so loved by LinkedIn’s team.

For a Microsoft traditionally steeped in tight integration and control, such an organizational strategy would be a real innovation.

15 Jun 17:07

What Is the Buyer's Journey?

by lhintz@hubspot.com (Lauren Hintz)

what-is-the-buyers-journey.jpg

Buyers don’t want to be prospected, or demoed, or closed. These steps add zero value to the buyer. Buyers are looking for additional information about your product that can’t be found online. As a salesperson, you can personalize your sales process to the buyer’s context by understanding the buyer’s journey.

What is the buyer’s journey?

The buyer’s journey is the process buyers go through to become aware of, evaluate, and purchase a new product or service. The journey is a three-step process:

  1. Awareness Stage: The buyer realizes they have a problem.
  2. Consideration Stage: The buyer defines their problem and researches options to solve it.
  3. Decision Stage: The buyer chooses a solution.

The graphic below illustrates a sample buyer’s journey for the simple purchasing decision of a doctor visit during an illness.

buyers-journey-example.png

Click here to learn how to build a sales process around your buyer’s journey with free sales training.

How do you define your company’s buyer’s journey?

If you don’t have an intimate understanding of your buyers, conduct a few interviews with customers, prospects, and other salespeople at your company to get a sense of the buying journey. Here are some questions you should ask to put together the buyer’s journey for your company.

During the Awareness stage, buyers identify their challenge or an opportunity they want to pursue. They also decide whether or not the goal or challenge should be a priority. In order to fully understand the Awareness stage for your buyer, ask yourself:

  1. How do buyers describe their goals or challenges?
  2. How do buyers educate themselves on these goals or challenges?
  3. What are the consequences of inaction by the buyer?
  4. Are there common misconceptions buyers have about addressing the goal or challenge?
  5. How do buyers decide whether the goal or challenge should be prioritized?

During the Consideration stage, buyers have clearly defined the goal or challenge and have committed to addressing it. They evaluate the different approaches or methods available to pursue the goal or solve their challenge. Ask yourself:

  1. What categories of solutions do buyers investigate?
  2. How do buyers educate themselves on the various categories?
  3. How do buyers perceive the pros and cons of each category?
  4. How do buyers decide which category is right for them?

In the Decision stage, buyers have already decided on a solution category. For example, they could write a pro/con list of specific offerings and then decide on the one that best meets their needs. Questions you should ask yourself to define the Decision stage are:

  1. What criteria do buyers use to evaluate the available offerings?
  2. When buyers investigate your company’s offering, what do they like about it compared to alternatives? What concerns do they have with your offering?
  3. Who needs to be involved in the decision? For each person involved, how does their perspective on the decision differ?
  4. Do buyers have expectations around trying the offering before they purchase it?
  5. Outside of purchasing, do buyers need to make additional preparations, such as implementation plans or training strategies?

The answers to these questions will provide a robust foundation for your buyer’s journey. To continue building out a sales process tailored to the buyer’s journey, register for HubSpot’s free sales training.

New Call-to-action

15 Jun 17:06

Are You Ready to Serialize Your Content?

by Alicia Fiorletta

On average, Americans spend 24.3 minutes driving to and from work each day. This may not seem like much, but it adds up to more than 100 hours of commuting time each year — time you could spend engaging your buyers.

If that’s not enough for you to consider the power and potential of podcasts, consider this: Buyers’ evolving content preferences show us that sometimes they prefer to listen to insights over diving into page upon page of content. In fact, 72% of buyers prefer video and audio content that they can access on demand, according to the 2016 Content Preferences Survey from Demand Gen Report.

I chatted with Devin McDonnell, our Director of Demand Generation and in-house podcast aficionado, to find out why podcasts are valuable to B2B brands. Here are a few things that came out of our conversation:

  • They allow your audience to multi-task: We’ve seen the research that says buyers are time-starved but still eager to learn about industry solutions and best practices. With podcasts, you can continue to educate and engage your target audience without pulling them from their to-do lists and daily workload.
  • They show a new dimension of your company: When we create content, our goal is to spotlight our brand positioning and unique value propositions while addressing buyer needs, questions and concerns. But sometimes, it’s good to show your audience a more intimate side to your company. Podcasts allow you to bring in your company’s “cast of characters” and show off their unique personalities, perspectives and experiences.
  • They help you tell complex and detailed stories: A great story is always the foundation of great content. And sometimes, those stories are complex. It is far more effective to tell those stories than it is to write them out. Podcasts allow you to do just that.

Like any other content format, you research your buyers’ preferences and refer to your personas to determine whether your target audience either listens to podcasts or is interested in listening to podcasts.

7 Tips for a ”Serial”-Worthy Podcast

The cult-like following of NPR’s Serial accelerated interest in podcasts. Garnering millions of downloads, the audio series uses real people, real stories, strong investigative skills and hard facts to captivate listeners.

Once you decide to dive into the podcast pool, there are a few tips you can take from Serial as you build and refine your strategy:

1. Identify your goals, and be true to them: For Serial, the goal is to focus on one story over the course of an entire season while examining specific controversies and mysteries to uncover the truth. For example, season two focused on Bowe Bergdahl, a U.S. soldier who was a prisoner of the Taliban for five years. The entire season focused on the chain of events surrounding his rescue and what happened when he returned home. Most of all, it tells Bergdahl’s side of the story. While you may not be doing an investigative podcast of this caliber, you should establish similar goals by answering the following questions: What do you hope to achieve with this podcast? Do you want to build a loyal following? Do you simply want to engage your audience, educate them or drive advocacy? How do you plan to use this podcast as part of your overall marketing strategy?

2. Always keep your audience in mind: This goes for all facets of your podcast planning and creation. Serial does a great job of not talking above the readers. Its producers know that people of all ages and walks of life want to enjoy the series, so they don’t go too heavy into political or legal jargon. The content flows like a normal conversation rather than a scripted piece. What would your target audience want to learn from a podcast? What issues or trends matter most to them? What is the most effective way to address these points? These are just some of the questions you should be asking. Then, make sure you answer them and tell your story in a personable yet succinct way.

3. Know what your peers are doing…and differentiate: With podcasts becoming a more popular medium, many businesses are trying to hop on the bandwagon. Do some homework before you join them. Once you have an idea of the topics you want to focus on and the approach you want to take, do a quick competitive analysis of podcasts in your field. What do they bring to the table? How are their episodes laid out? Do they conduct Q&As with experts, focus on news updates and trends, or present an episodic story? When you know what your peers are doing, you can find potential opportunities to stand out.

4. Incorporate audience feedback: This could mean tracking social comments and sentiment to uncover potential topics, or producing an entire segment where you answer questions from your listeners. Either way, encouraging your subscribers to share feedback and outlining how that feedback will be used shows them that you care about what they have to say and that you want to make the podcast valuable and relevant.

5. Get your friends involved: Much like incorporating audience feedback, this step can be approached in a variety of ways. For one, you can turn to your peers and industry influencers to determine topics and the overall structure of your podcast. You can also onboard them as potential guests on your show. This is a great way to add a new voice to the mix and engage with an influencer’s large following.

6. Be consistent: It may take a few months — even a year — to build a strong following for your podcast. That’s why it’s so important to be consistent. If you’re just testing the medium to see how your audience responds, it’s okay to start small. Try a monthly or biweekly podcast. After six months or a year, you will have the subscriber and engagement data you need to help you decide whether you should ramp up your schedule.

7. Get the word out: To drive subscriptions, engagement and feedback, you need to let likely listeners know your podcast is available. Use a combination of paid, earned and owned promotional channels to educate them about the series, the value it brings and what you’ll touch on in each episode. And of course, provide a seamless call to action that allows your followers to easily subscribe.

Podcasting presents a new and entertaining way for B2B marketers to tell stories and share their unique experiences and insights. With so much content flooding the web, it is a highly effective way for you to connect and resonate with customers and prospects.

Has your company added podcasting to its marketing toolkit? We’d love to hear your stories and experiences in the comments section below!

15 Jun 17:05

When One to Many Is One Too Many

by Don Power

The other night, as I was flipping through the channels on TV, I stumbled upon an old, familiar episode of Star Trek. In this story, a planet of humanoids was worried that centuries of civil war would eventually wipe out the entire species. To address this, they automated warfare to the point that now only the machines fought with each other.

When One To Many Is One Too Many

The people of the planet were no longer directly involved in the conflict. Instead of going to war themselves, one side’s machines simply fought the other side’s machines until a winner was calculated by an “infallible” supercomputer.

While comparisons could be made to modern-day drone warfare, as a marketer I pictured an analogy much closer to home. In a drive to become more and more efficient, and to increase the almighty ROI, modern day marketers are engaged in a seemingly insatiable quest for marketing automation. Where salespeople once picked up the phone, networked, or met in person with prospects, now it seems that more and more of these sales-related functions have been outsourced to apps, and informed by algorithms. Schedule your tweets, load up your curation tool with content, hit send on your latest drip marketing email campaign – and then you can just sit back and watch all the marketing magic happen, right? Not exactly.

As someone who’s been on both sides of those communications, sometimes it feels like marketing has become just a bunch of machines talking to another bunch of machines – with no humans in between who care very much about what’s actually being said.  Economies and efficiencies of scale have allowed us to wash our hands of guerrilla marketing in favor of the push-button solutions analogous to the warring factions on that old episode of Star Trek.

OK Computer

As economical and practical as these methods of metaphorical “marketing warfare” may seem, don’t you get the feeling that the more time you spend on Facebook, Twitter, or reading your email these days the less you feel like you’re actually conversing with live human beings? As practitioners of marketing, surely this is not the pinnacle of our collective creativity.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m no Luddite. I don’t wish, nor do I implore you as a modern marketer or business person to completely unplug from the marketing machine. It has its place. In fact, marketing at scale can yield great insights about your audience and provide valuable feedback that can be used to refine your messaging.

For example, testing a series of ads with large audiences on Facebook can provide bell curve statistics that show you clearly (and relatively cheaply) which messages resonated – and which messages died on the vine (or the Vine!).

Similarly, if a social media scheduling app consistently identifies a large portion of your audience to be engaging at a certain time of day – or a certain day of the week , then that’s you’re cue to spend more time, live and in-person on those platforms, during those peak times.

If you use marketing automation tools and techniques to reach the masses, continue to do so. But consider spending at least some of your valuable personal time making connections with just a few members of your target audience. Pick up the phone and ask a few former clients (or new prospects) out to lunch.

In between your slate of scheduled tweets, why not spend an hour or two a week participating in some relevant Twitter chats and engage in some real-time communication with other real human beings? Give Facebook Live a try and revel in the fact that others – whether it’s one or one thousand people – have chosen to share their precious time and attention with you at that moment.

Look, if your top salesperson came to you tomorrow – excitedly clutching a thousand leads, you’d know that he or she could still only meaningfully contact a handful of those leads per day. Heck, you’d no doubt be delighted if a relatively laid back sales campaign of contacting a few leads every day resulted in a few conversions a week. What’s the alternative – sending your salespeople out among the dozens or hundreds of automated messages your marketing team currently sends out per week – hoping that some of that spray and pray messaging nets a few conversions somewhere down the line?

Do yourself and your organization a favor. Instead of chasing the next shiny automated social media object, do something your competition doesn’t expect – take a short hiatus from all the noise and head in the opposite direction. Try slowing down and see how it can actually speed up your marketing success.

The post When One to Many Is One Too Many appeared first on Social Media Explorer.

15 Jun 17:05

Avoid Failure with This Formula for Setting Successful Sales Goals

by Colleen Francis

Everybody has sales goals. . .

Some are set by our companies and some we set ourselves. For many sales reps, it wouldn’t be January without either a new sales quota or a new personal objective for the year ahead. If I had to guess, I’d be willing to bet that we all want to achieve more this year, right? But how many of us have actually created a detailed plan that will help us realize our goals?

Despite the importance both we and the companies we work for place on achieving objectives, it never ceases to amaze me how many salespeople fall short each year. It doesn’t have to be that way! Let’s discuss how to develop the essential behaviors needed to achieve your goals not only this month or year, but consistently and for the rest of your career.

The secret’s in the planning

Our research of sales teams has found that 100 percent of salespeople understand why setting goals is important (focus, commitment, dedication, etc.), and know what types of goals they should set (business, family, social, personal.) We’ve also discovered that 80 percent of salespeople understand the proper way to structure a goal, such as by using the acronym SMART. But last year, approximately 60 percent of field sales people still failed to achieve their objectives.

Why?

In the overwhelming majority of cases, salespeople fail to achieve their goals because they lack a detailed plan. In fact, very few of us understand what we need to do on a daily and weekly basis to achieve our goals.

So where do you begin? Below is a simple, four-step planning tool you can use to build your career, by designing a clearer path towards achieving your goals every month, quarter or year:

1. Identify your outcome in a way you can measure

What, specifically, are your sales and production goals for this year? For example: “I want to close $500,000 in new business and $500,000 in repeat business from existing clients this year.”

2. Carve your pathway to success

How do your goals break down into quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily goals?

Here’s an example of a sales quota — and how an average salesperson can expect to perform:

  • New business goal: $500,000
  • Average sales size: $20,000
  • Total sales needed to achieve goal: 25

Based on our sales metrics, to accomplish your goals for the year you can assume the following:

  • The average salesperson closes 1:3 qualified leads. Therefore to make 25 sales, our sample sales person needs 75 qualified buyers.
  • The average salesperson needs to meet three prospects in order to qualify one. So in the above example, our sales person needs to meet 225 prospects.
  • The average salesperson needs to make 15 attempts (phone calls, voicemail, email, etc.) to get one meeting. So, our sales person needs to make 3,375 attempts this year.

If this sounds like a frightening number, remember that 3,375 attempts over the course of a year really translates into:

  • 282 attempts per month
  • 71 attempts per week
  • Just 14 attempts per day

Now that’s what I call an easy plan to follow!

3. Launch your strategy

To give you a baseline on the amount of time it takes to make these daily calls, I make 25 attempts per day, which takes me two to three hours to complete. Here are some tips to help you complete your daily sales goals:

  • Start today. Half the battle is just showing up!
  • Keep records and make lists. Successful salespeople record their progress toward each goal every day, and then list the five most important things they need to do the next day to move that goal even further ahead. This short “To Do” list is 100 percent focused on achieving their goals because the most successful salespeople understand that daily discipline is the key to reaching your goals.
  • Track your attempts, meetings, and close ratios consistently, and measure your results. Then adjust your plan based on your real metrics. You may find that you’re above or below the averages I’ve used in this example, but if you don’t measure to find out, you won’t know where to improve.
  • Prospect consistently. Whether you chose to make all your weekly calls in one day or to do a small amount each day doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are consistent. Think of yourself as a professional. Misty Copeland would tell you it’s the consistency of her practice time in the dance studio — the hours upon hours of fine-tuning her body’s movements — that leads to her ultimate success.

4. Use radical accountability to drive success

  • The top 10 percent of sales performers have one thing in common: they’re committed to radical accountability. Mark the time you’re going to spend attempting to reach customers in your calendar each day or week, and close your office door until you’ve completed it. While you’re at it, turn off your email and don’t take inbound calls. If you work in a cubical, find a closed office in which to do your prospecting. In other words, force yourself to stay focused and avoid distractions. The fewer distractions you have, the faster the work will get done.
  • Tasks that are rewarded are tasks that get done. Find a way to reward yourself after your calls are made each day. My personal reward for completing all daily prospecting calls is a trip to the local Starbucks for my favorite “Venti triple shot non-fat mocha!” No calls, no coffee — it’s that simple. Guess what gets done first thing each morning?
  • Write your goals down, update them constantly based on your real results, and then make them public and display them close by. Studies show that people who share their goals with others are 70 percent more likely to achieve them. Discuss your goals with those people you respect the most, and you’ll work harder to ensure that you don’t disappoint them.

What’s the takeaway message?

The difference between top sales performers and the rest of the field is clear. Top performers have a plan to achieve their goals, and they act on that plan every day. This year, commit yourself to being a top performer. Design a daily and/or weekly plan, act on it consistently, and monitor your results.

It’s been said that most people aim at nothing and hit it with surprising accuracy. We all have a goal in mind. Whether you hit it or not will depend on your ability to define and consistently focus on the tasks that lead to your goal. If done right, you’ll be sure to hit your mark.

15 Jun 17:05

4 Reasons to Implement Sales Enablement

by Taylor Davis

Sales enablement is a term that may seem foreign but is quickly becoming an indispensable aspect of forward-thinking businesses. Imagine sales and marketing came together to make the sales funnel more relevant, interesting, and effective to both you and your customers.

Here are four reasons why adding sales enablement to your sales process will take you further with leads and prepare you to close more customers.

1. Make Your Sales Content Relevant to the Opportunity

As a marketer, you wouldn’t write a tweet that had nothing to do with your target audience and expect it to bring in new customers. The same goes for the sales process.

Every piece of content, documentation, and even the technology you use has to speak to your prospects’ specific needs and stories. With so many companies competing for your business, if you’re not relevant to your customers, you’re not selling.
It’s like dropping your kids off at school without their homework or a packed lunch.

That’s why implementing a sales enablement process is crucial. Sales enablement includes the technology involved in the sales process and the content included in your case studies, proposals, quotes and contracts that are sent to clients once they’re on the hook (hint: PandaDoc makes this easy).

Don’t have a case study or white paper that’s relevant to that type of lead? Make one as soon as you see a demand for it. It scales better than you may think.

Whatever you do, don’t assume that one contract or case study will work for each opportunity you have. It’s all about curating a personalized (read: relevant to their field) set of sales content to fit specific problems, markets and client types, and having it at-the-ready when the opportunity moves forward.

2. Non-converting Customers Become a Thing of the Past

Creating and finding leads gets your foot in the door, but does that mean they’ve really entered the sales cycle?

As Jared Fuller, Head of Partnerships at PandaDoc, said, “What’s the use of someone becoming a lead and then an opportunity, if you can’t then actually have a closing conversation with them, and deliver something to them, where they sign on the dotted line, or pay for the product or service?”

Think of it this way: marketing generates dozens of leads and then says “Have fun!”, leaving your sales team to figure out exactly how they’re going to turn them into paying customers. While it’s not marketing’s job to sell the product and convert customers outright, leaving leads on the table and merely hoping that they’ll turn into customers is the same as leaving those leads to die.

With sales enablement, you increase the conversion rates of those leads, allowing the sales team to do a better job at hooking those companies and bringing them through the finish line.

Sales enablement tools are more than just the butter to your bread – they’re the plate that your waiter keeps filling up when you’ve finished off your baguette.

3. Turn Your Lead Gen Engine into a Rev Gen Engine

There’s a distinction between being great at bringing in a large number of leads and being great at making them customers.

The difference? Revenue.

When you set a sales team up for a smoother ride to revenue, you’re creating more value than a hundred non-converting leads could.

Not to mention, customer referrals and testimonials are the #1 way to bring in more clients. By creating a more relevant experience for your customers and tying yourself to the revenue numbers , you’re ensuring not only an awesome, continuing relationship with each customer, but the chance that their success story can lead to more opportunities for you.

4. Set Yourself Apart

Your time and deliverables become more valuable to your customers when you make the sales process easier. It’s that simple.

Think of it this way. A lead comes to you in the healthcare field. You’ve had a few healthcare customers before, but it’s not a large portion of your lead pool. You send out your standard contract, white paper and blog post that you use for your technology customers. This automatically makes your healthcare lead feel that you don’t understand their market, so they look elsewhere for services.

By adding relevant sales enablement to your services or your sales process, you’re setting yourself apart from the general sales flow (and your competition) showing your customers (and the rest of your organization) that you can be more successful, relevant, and convincing by coming prepared with content, documentation, case studies, and technology that resonate with potential customers and their relevant markets.

This not only makes the buyers’ experience easier and more enjoyable, it helps your sales process run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

The Bottom Line

When you look at sales enablement as a whole, there’s really nothing that can go wrong with making your sales process more relevant to your leads and more effective in converting leads to customers. By arming your sales team with the right sales enablement tools, you’re setting yourself up for success.

15 Jun 17:05

5 Ways to Expand Lead Nurturing Beyond the Inbox

by Howard J. Sewell

Email may still be the workhorse in how B2B companies build relationships, maintain awareness, qualify leads and nudge prospects along the sales cycle, but these days, it pays to think about “lead nurturing” as more just an email campaign.

beyond the inboxThat’s not because email is going away any time soon. However, a more balanced, integrated nurture program – one that incorporates other communication channels – can help accelerate the lead lifecycle and improve demand generation ROI by maximizing the chances that your nurture message reaches its intended recipient. If nothing else, integrating other channels into your lead nurturing mix reduces a 100% reliance on email and improves your chances for lead nurturing success.

Here are 5 ways to expand your lead nurturing program beyond the inbox:

Telesales – often, inside sales plays only a reactive role in the lead nurturing process, responding when prospects engage with the nurture program or show other signs of interest. But you can integrate your BDR team more seamlessly into the nurture campaign by scheduling calls (via assigned tasks in your CRM system) in sync with other “touches”.

Direct Mail – the rise of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) has renewed interest in direct mail as a high-impact vehicle for delivering your message to targeted accounts or senior executives. But direct mail doesn’t have to be a “batch” process. It’s now possible to schedule personalized direct mail drops – through technologies like PrintingForLess – directly into your nurture stream.

Paid Social Media – all three leading B2B social media channels (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook) offer variations on “custom audience” programs that enable you to upload lists of customers, prospects, or target accounts and deliver ads exclusively to that audience, or so-called “lookalike” prospects that meet the same criteria. By leveraging the same offers, message, and creative assets (ex: landing pages) that you already have in place, paid social media (Social PPC) can be a natural and cost-effective complement to your lead nurturing campaign.

Google AdWords Customer Match – similar to the custom audience programs offered by the big social networks, Google also allows advertisers to upload a list of email addresses and then reach those precise contacts via ads on Search, Gmail or YouTube. You can also serve different ads (or adjust bids) based on whether an individual is an early, mid or late stage prospect, or even an existing customer.

Programmatic Ad Networks – programmatic networks like Choozle are yet another way to add “air cover” to your nurture campaign by reinforcing the same (or complementary) message, offer, etc. through ads on display, video, mobile and social networks.

Tip: since many of these complementary channels are real-time and “always on”, they offer a powerful opportunity for testing message, offer, segmentation and other campaign variables in ways that might be more difficult if left exclusively to email. Cross-pollination is the key – a simple word change in a LinkedIn ad, if successful, could drive increased click-through rates from your email campaign, and vice-versa.

For a more detailed look at a related topic, download our free white paper on “Social PPC: Tips for Successful Ads on Twitter, LinkedIn & Facebook.”

15 Jun 17:05

Toyota gets bullish on plug-in hybrids with new Prius Prime

Toyota Motor Corp.'s Prius PHV is displayed at the Smart Community Japan exhibition in Tokyo Wednesday, June 15, 2016. Toyota Motor Corp Chief Engineer Kouji Toyoshima said the Japanese automaker plans to get as bullish as its rivals in pushing plug-in hybrids with the introduction of its new Prius Prime. Toyota Motor Corp. leads the industry in hybrids, which switch between a gas engine and an electric motor. It has sold 9 million hybrid vehicles around the world since the first Prius went on sale in 1997 but only about 75,000 plug-in hybrids, which charge from a regular household plug and switch to operating as hybrids only when their batteries run low. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)

TOKYO (AP) — A top engineer at Toyota says the Japanese automaker plans to get as bullish as its rivals in pushing plug-in hybrids with the introduction of its new Prius Prime.

Toyota Motor Corp. leads the industry in hybrids, which switch between a gas engine and an electric motor. It has sold 9 million hybrid vehicles around the world since the first Prius went on sale in 1997 but only about 75,000 plug-in hybrids, which charge from a regular household plug and switch to operating as hybrids only when their batteries run low.

The first Toyota plug-in was launched in 2012, after limited leasing from 2009. It will start selling its remodeled plug-in, called the Prius Prime in the U.S. and Prius PHV in Japan, later this year.

The company is promising a whopping mileage equivalent to 120 miles per gallon, calculated including how far the vehicle goes as an electric car, without a drop of gas.

"We were just studying it thoroughly," Chief Engineer Kouji Toyoshima told The Associated Press, when asked whether Toyota had fallen behind on plug-ins. "But what we have developed is at the top level among plug-in hybrids."

The Prius Prime looks similar to a regular Prius. Toyota is aiming for a model it can sell at high volumes, with friendly styling and affordable prices, so as to have the most impact in reducing fossil fuel consumption, Toyoshima said. He said battery costs are the main obstacle for reducing prices.

Toyota has not yet announced pricing for the Prius Prime.

The vehicle's solar panel provides about 10 percent of the average driving range of a Tokyo resident, partly addressing the criticism that while electricity is emissions-free at the car level, power generation relies mostly on fossil fuels. When the Prius Prime is operating as an electric car, the generator for its hybrid feature also works with the motor to increase efficiency, Toyoshima said.

The EV's cruise range is 22 miles (35 kilometers), or long enough for about half of American commuters. That rises to about 80 percent for people who can plug in during work, according to Toyota.

Toyota was the first with the Prius, but today the market for plug-ins is crowded with offerings from General Motors Co., Volvo and Mitsubishi Motors Corp., and electric cars from Tesla and Nissan Motor Co.

"The new Toyota Prius Prime is facing a much tougher competitive environment," said Christian Stadler, professor of strategic management at the University of Warwick's business school. He said it makes sense for Toyota to move up-market and cater to customers who are less price-sensitive and more concerned with the environment.

Oil prices have fallen in recent months, dampening hybrid sales. But automakers are pushing ahead with ecological technologies to comply with stricter regulations on emissions and address global warming, Stadler and other analysts say.

"The Prime is in line with Toyota's image as a green automaker, and will further that image —even though it is not the first company to offer such an option," said Stephanie Brinley, senior analyst with IHS Automotive. She said the car will likely appeal to mainstream buyers, while Tesla remains the big green status symbol.

___

Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter at https://twitter.com/yurikageyama

Her work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/yuri-kageyama

Join the conversation about this story »

15 Jun 17:04

Top Salespeople Are More Likely to Use These Tools Than the Rest of You [Data]

by pcaputa@hubspot.com (Pete Caputa)

linkedin-state-of-sales-technology-2016.jpg

The sales software space is booming.

On Monday, LinkedIn announced its acquisition by Microsoft for $26.2 billion in order to, among other things, “redefine social selling through the combination of Sales Navigator and [Microsoft] Dynamics [CRM].” Research from InsideSales.com shows companies in North America are already spending more than $15 billion on sales acceleration tools and Gartner predicts that enterprise CRM alone will be a $36 billion market by 2017.

It's no surprise. These days, it doesn't matter what your profession is -- having and using the right software is essential to achieving success. This is especially true in sales because of the amount and variety of communication salespeople must initiate, track, and organize -- not to mention the pressure to exceed quota in a world where our buyer’s default reaction is to dismiss us or tune us out.

In fact, according to LinkedIn's State of Sales 2016 report, the tools that a salesperson uses is highly correlated to their sales performance. The report finds that "top salespeople are 24% more likely to attribute their success to sales technology: 82% percent of top salespeople cite sales tools as ‘critical’ to their ability to close deals, compared with 66% overall.” The report also shows that top salespeople are more likely to use a customer relationship management (CRM) system, productivity apps, social selling tools, sales intelligence tools and by the widest margin: Email tracking tools.

Which software tools are you using and how much time should you be spending with each? Read on to learn what the top (and the majority of) salespeople are doing.

Salespeople Use Many Different Types of Sales Technology

LinkedIn’s survey analyzed the use of the following five different types or categories of sales technology.

1) Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

In its simplest form, CRM helps salespeople (and their companies) record, reference and report interactions with past and current prospects and customers. (Read: What is CRM?)

2) Email Tracking

Probably the narrowest and most easily defined category of the five, email tracking software integrates with your email client (such as Gmail or Outlook) and tracks when a recipient opens an email or clicks on a link in an email you sent them.

3) Social Selling

Social selling software is any software that helps salespeople initiate and build relationships with buyers on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or even Snapchat and Instagram.

Many salespeople use social media sites directly. Others use social listening and publishing software like HubSpot’s social monitoring and publishing, Hootsuite, Sprout Social or Buffer, as they can help salespeople sort relevant messages from noise, tune into only what their leads are sharing, monitor social activity, and publish messages to multiple networks.

But based on my vantage point, the most popular social selling software is LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator because it allows salespeople to create lists of prospects based on LinkedIn’s vast member-managed repository of contact and company data, as well as contact more of those members directly.

4) Sales Intelligence

Sales intelligence software provides contact and company data so salespeople can build lists and prospect into new accounts. G2Crowd, a peer review site for software, has a full comparison of available sales intelligence tools which includes rankings.

LinkedIn, once again, rules this category with Sales Navigator. Other tools in the space include Salesforce’s data.com, one of the orginal, modern data providers and InsideSales.com, which has solid traction among large sales teams because of the attractiveness of its broader suite. 

In addition, salespeople can tap specialty providers like DiscoverOrg, which provide IT, finance and marketing organizational charts to companies who sell to those departments, and Datanyze, which provides information on the software your prospects are using on their website. Our own CRM includes a database of 18 million companies that instantly provides salespeople information about the companies they are pursuing -- no data entry required.

5) Productivity Apps

While I predict these tools will eventually be integrated into most CRMs, sales productivity apps are tools that help salespeople improve efficiency and productivity. According to the report, this includes document storage and sharing tools like Dropbox and Box. Many salespeople use other types of sales productivity apps like tools that automate CRM data entry, proposal-building tools and task management software, to name a few.

If you think some of these software categories sound similar to each other, you’re not alone. The sales technology space is not only new and growing fast, there are many software companies offering more than one of these capabilities. Many companies -- like HubSpot, Salesforce, LinkedIn and InsideSales.com -- even offer products across the majority of these categories. These five categories are just one way of organizing a rapidly expanding ecosystem of sales software providers, available to help salespeople be more efficient and more effective.

What’s really crazy is that many of these categories -- and the companies that provide them -- didn’t even exist a few years ago. Nicolas de Kouchkovsky, in partnership with VentureBeat tracks the current sales technology landscape. The graphic below is the latest visual they’ve produced and includes 340 companies. (Warning: Staring for too long at this sales technology landscape chart below will make your head hurt.)

1455583474-1859794-960x540-Inside-Sales-Technol.png

And more choices are emerging every day -- de Kouchkovsky added 40 new software companies to his list at the end of 2015, and he told me recently he needs to add another 70 companies to the graphic that have popped up since the beginning of 2016 -- and those are just the ones worth tracking. Clearly, the landscape is getting more crowded -- and many of these companies are expanding their capabilities to compete with each other, making it even more confusing to pick the right tools for your needs.

Where should you start?

CRM Is Still Critical, But Majority of Reps Don’t Use One

Despite all of the hubbub around new sales technology, CRM software (pioneered in the mid-1980s) is still the most-used tool, both in terms of time spent and number of salespeople using the tool. Forty-four percent of midsize companies, 23% of small businesses, and 27% of large businesses use CRM. One-third of those users spend three to five hours a week in the software, and almost 25% spend more than 10 hours a week using CRM. In contrast, fewer than 15% of salespeople use sales intelligence tools more than 10 hours per week.

If the idea of spending more time in your CRM sounds silly to you … hold your horses. More than 80% of top salespeople report that CRM is “critical” or “extremely critical” to their ability to close deals.

While salespeople spend more time using CRM than any other tool in the survey, it’s not just because they’re entering data so their boss can run reports. Top salespeople run reports themselves, take notes during calls directly in the CRM, and even store email templates in the software. These tasks help the salesperson stay organized in their pursuits, so it’s time well spent.

Many modern CRMs integrate with a salesperson’s inbox and calendar to sync data to the system automatically, so salespeople don’t have to do any manual entry. 

Regardless of what CRM you use, there are many time-tested benefits of CRM software. It can help:

  1. Store all prospect and customer information and historical communication with them in one place, accessible to your whole company.
  2. Set and remind salespeople to complete follow up actions.
  3. Provide a central place where multiple team members can coordinate actions with prospects or customers.
  4. Enable sales managers to inspect deals and their sales team’s full pipeline.
  5. Make it easier to teach and enforce a sales process.
  6. Allow reporting of conversion rates from sales process step to sales process step, enabling managers and salespeople to spot and remedy the inefficiencies or ineffectiveness of individual salespeople.
  7. Capture sales data that marketing can use to determine which marketing efforts are driving revenue.
  8. Enable instant forecasting for company leadership.

Personally, I can’t imagine running a sales team without one, even if the sales team was just one person. But despite all of these instant and impactful benefits, LinkedIn found that most companies aren’t even using a CRM. While more and more companies adopt CRM, less than “one-third of companies anticipate spending more money on sales technology this year,” according to the report. I’m biased of course, but if this describes your budget situation and you want to join the ranks of top salespeople, I’d encourage you to start with HubSpot’s free sales tools -- no additional budget required.

Email Tracking May Be Key to Improving Underperformance

Since email has become the de facto communication channel for buyers and sellers, email tracking software is fast becoming a de facto standard too.

According to LinkedIn’s research, just shy of 80% of top performers report that email tracking is either “critical” or “extremely critical”’ to their ability to close deals. Only slightly more than half of all salespeople responded the same way.

Why the disparity? Why do far more top salespeople think email tracking is critical than the rest of the sales population? The report doesn’t share a reason for this almost 30-point difference, but if I had to guess, it’s because top performers are better at paying attention to their prospects’ behavioral clues and using them for effective follow up. Whether it’s a website visited, an email opened, a link clicked, a contract forwarded, or a social media mention, top salespeople make relevant and timely follow-ups by monitoring what their prospects are doing and when they’re doing it.

Another theory: Whenever I teach salespeople with obvious sales weaknessses to use email tracking to time phone calls and prioritize follow-up communication based on which prospects are showing the most interest, I get funny faces and pushback from them. I find that these lower-performing or newer reps often think email tracking is creepy, while top-performing reps recognize how to use email tracking in a non-creepy way. If you think it’s creepy, it might be time to rethink your stance. According to LinkedIn’s data, if you’re not using email tracking to help you close deals, it may be a reason you’re not performing as well as your peers.

Another possibility the overall sales population cited email tracking as critical less frequently than top performers? Maybe they’re just behind the curve. Most email tracking tools are inexpensive and don’t require IT help to get started, leaving the decision to use one to each individual rep. 

Inside Sales People Are More Likely to Use Sales Technology

LinkedIn analyzed data by age, putting respondents into three buckets: Millennials, respondents aged 35 to 54 (commonly referred to as Generation X) and baby boomers (age 55+). As a group, millennials are “33% percent more likely to use sales intelligence tools than industry peers aged 35-54." In fact, millennials are more likely to use all five categories of sales tools more than the other two groups, especially baby boomers.

The report also found that “business development professionals used sales intelligence tools at about a 17% higher rate than any other job function surveyed." and that “inside sales professionals (62%) were most likely to rate email tracking tools as either ‘critical’ or ‘extremely critical’ to close deals."

Could it just be that inside salespeople and business development reps (usually entry-level positions) are better users of technology since it’s their job to initiate and connect with prospects from behind their computer and phone, instead of managing active opportunities face-to-face or via the phone like most account executives must do?

If you can’t tell, as a Gen Xer (it’s okay if you call me that, LinkedIn), I’m somewhat perturbed that the study didn’t dig past age as a reason for varying technology usage. Since most sales technology is most useful for prospecting, it is therefore most useful to business development reps and inside sales professionals, who just so happen to usually be younger than account executives.

So while LinkedIn’s report states, “Millennials Encourage Teams to Adopt Sales Technology Early and Often,” I bet technology is becoming more critical because more and more companies have moved outside sales resources inside and more and more buyers educate themselves via the web. But hey -- as inevitably as we all succumb to taxes and eventually death, many salespeople will retire and be replaced by younger people. So it’s a sure thing that sales technology adoption will rise over time, regardless of whether it’s just a generational change or if other business trends are driving it.

Social Selling Tools Are Here to Stay, Even if Many Reps Are Abusing Them

One thing that LinkedIn knows for sure: Social selling is booming. They know because their social software sales are booming. And it’s not just sales consultants who sell social selling tools who use it anymore. LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator software is flying off their “social” shelf according to their 2015 earnings report: “Premium Subscriptions revenue increased 22% year-over-year to $532 million in 2015. Sales Navigator remained the faster growing component of Premium Subscriptions with continued improvement in customer satisfaction and product usage.”

The survey reports that “more than 70% of sales professionals use social selling tools including LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook” and that top salespeople believe these tools have a great impact on revenue growth.

The modern salesperson’s love affair with Sales Navigator is something I’ve witnessed over and over again. In my experience, once a sales team has access to Sales Navigator, cancelling that subscription often requires prying it from their dead, cold-calling hands. As Ambition writes in their 2016 Inbound Sales Software Guide, LinkedIn has this one figured out: “They’ve cornered the market on the largest prospect database in the world and their targeting, list building and integration features are nothing short of spectacular.”

I worry, though, that too many salespeople are abusing this newfound technology and access to up-to-date contact information. Too many salespeople simply use social selling tools just to find contacts and send self-promotional messages to them. Spam complaints are a huge challenge for email prospecting. Unfortunately, many salespeople just seem to be moving their spammy ways onto LinkedIn.

Why is this a concern? Whenever new technology is created, aggressive salespeople tend to use it to deploy their pushy sales tactics. It tends to sour buyers on the new technology and all of the salespeople who use it. (Anyone remember fax marketing? What about those automated, pre-recorded cold calls you get at night?) The problem with social selling is that salespeople can apply their unwelcome tactics more quickly and to more prospects than ever before at virtually no cost. So, I worry that the abuse of social selling software will make public social media sites less relevant over time. We’re already seeing trends that point to this -- the social networks that are growing most rapidly today are not the ones like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook where much of the activity is public by default, but the more private ones like Kik, WeChat, Facebook Messenger, Slack and WhatsApp (also owned by Facebook). 

Regardless, buyers are choosing more and more non-phone and non-email ways of communicating with each other and salespeople are following along, even if they are a bit too aggressive and not using the newest network. While the tools, sites, and services are bound to change, leveraging social to sell is a trend that’s not going away.

Is Your Company Behind the Sales Technology Curve?

Based on this survey data alone, it’s clear that sales technology provides an advantage to salespeople. Top salespeople not only use technology more frequently, they also believe it helps them achieve better results. Eighty-two percent of top sales professionals specifically attribute their success to sales technology -- with CRM, productivity tools, email tracking, and social selling leading the way. Top salespeople cite all five categories of tools as critical or extremely critical in helping them close deals, including sales intelligence. But it’s not just the top salespeople who think these tools are critical; the majority of the overall survey pool agreed they’re important for the same reasons.

Therefore, it’s probably safe to say that more than ever, an organization’s success hinges on how quickly and effectively they adopt CRM and these other sales tools. As the top salespeople in Linkedin’s survey report, this technology is fast becoming a powerful competitive advantage for them and their companies. These tools for the companies that use them are as critical as word processing, email or accounting software is for all companies.

The sales technology boom is just getting started too. We are most likely just at the beginning of how software will transform sales. These five categories are just the start of an expanding sales technology stack. The VentureBeat sales technology landscape shows that not only are there more companies, but more categories too. In the future, sales software will pull in more data sources, integrate more fully with marketing software, enable salespeople to leverage new communication channels, and use artificial intelligence to prioritize (and sometimes even automate) a salesperson’s activities. If I were you, I wouldn’t want to get left behind or let my competition master these tools before me.

P.S. If you’re not yet a top performer, you now know what to do: Get better at using email tracking to improve efficiency, use your CRM to stay organized and use social selling and sales intelligence tools to initiate and build relationships.

P.P.S. For further review and analysis of LinkedIn’s survey data, download the full LinkedIn State of Sales Technology 2016 report here.

HubSpot CRM

15 Jun 17:00

The 25 Sales Books Every New Sales VP Needs to Read

by Peak Sales Recruiting

Top Sales Books of All Time

The new VP Sales has the opportunity and responsibility to achieve aggressive growth targets, and make a deep impact on company-wide culture. That’s why we’ve hand-picked these 25 sales books (in no particular order) from the best in the field and organized them into the 5 key responsibilities of the new sales executive:

  • Lead a team of top performers
  • Craft a sales strategy that scales company revenue
  • Hone team sales tactics
  • Collaborate with cross-functional executives
  • Land bigger sales at bigger companies (and sell to the C-suite)

Lead a team of top performers

VP Sales become VPs because of their successful track record – ususally as a rep and manager. But as an executive, their role is to scale their talents with a team that will achieve their sales targets year-over-year. These books teach basic and advanced management strategies to lead top-performing sales teams.

1. Sales Management. Simplified.Sales Management Simplified

The Straight Truth About Getting Exceptional Results from Your Sales Team

by Mike Weinberg (2015)

This book tops our list for the new VP Sales because it encourages leaders to take full responsibility for the performance of their sales teams, gives no-nonsense tips for world-class sales management, and roots it all in real-life stories.  

As a consultant, Mike Weinberg has seen many sales organizations that struggle under executives and sales managers that unknowingly undermine performance. “I was tired of being called into companies by senior executives to fix their ‘sales problems,’ only to discover that it was a leadership problem,” Weinberg explains in an interview with the CEO of Peak Sales Recruiting, Eliot Burdett. “If it’s broken at the top then it’s broken and the team will never do better than the leader.”

Readers will learn the 16 basic sales management flaws and how to create a healthy culture in their sales organization, match high performers with the right roles and coach underperformers, run meetings their teams actually look forward to, and structure the best compensation plan. “Long on solutions and short on platitudes,” Weinberg’s guide for sales executives is a must-read.

2. The Sales Development PlaybookThe Sales Development Playbook

Build Repeatable Pipeline and Accelerate Growth with Inside Sales

by Trish Bertuzzi (2016)

Jill Konrath calls Bertuzzi’s book “the Sales Development Bible.” This book’s focus on teambuilding and recruiting makes it particularly useful for sales executives who need to scale their sales teams, recruit with urgency, and get deep and practical advice on retention through engaging, motivating, and developing their best talent. Also helpful is its strategic guidance on building new pipeline for your specific market. This is a highly actionable, step-by-step guide divided into 6 sections.

3. 52 Sales Management TipsThe Sales Managers Success Guide

The Sales Managers’ Success Guide

by Steven Rosen (2012)

52 Sales Management Tips presents 52 concise and clear-cut tips for the sales executive who’s strapped for time yet knows they need to develop their team. It’s an easy read at a short 60 pages, and the tips are bite-sized and standalone, so readers can pick it up and read in small pieces here and there, rather than all in one go (one tip a week for a 52-year week).

“Wow, Steven has got it right…Focus on sales management to increase sales performance.  No complicated strategy, just actionable coaching tidbits that guide you to the right tool for the right situation at the right time.” — William “Skip” Miller, author, ProActive Sales Management

4. Your Sales Management Guru’s Guide to Leading High-Performance Sales TeamsYour Sales Managers Guide to Leading High Performance Sales Teams

by Ken Thoreson (2011)

Ken Thoreson of Acumen Management provides a practical guide to managing sales teams, with hundreds of specific tactics and techniques a new VP Sales can experiment with immediately.

This book is easy to digest because it is broken into 39 chapters. Readers will learn:

      • How to Build a High-performance Sales Culture
      • How to Make Monday Morning Sales Meetings Count
      • Why Leadership Matters
      • How to Create Your Own Sales Certification Plans
      • How to Develop Sales Compensation Plans that Work
      • How to Lead Sales Contests that Increase   Sales and Build Teamwork
      • How to Measure and Manage Sales Activity
      • How to Uncover Leading Indicators that Predict Revenue
      • How to Build a Self-managed Sales Team
      • Time Management Techniques for Sales Managers

5. Coaching Salespeople Into Sales ChampionsCoaching Salespeople into Sales Champions

A Tactical Playbook for Managers and Executives

by Keith Rosen (2008)

Keith Rosen argues that sales executives need to focus on coaching, not sales training, in order to develop a team of high performers in the cutthroat sales environment. This sales coaching handbook teaches how to create a thriving internal coaching program, and broader culture where coaching is woven into everyday activity. It teaches how to recognize the different management styles you’ve encountered in your sales career and how to steer your own style away from a tyrannical one to a coaching-oriented one.

This book is a winner of five International Best Book awards. It provides immediately actionable tips on how to coach anyone in any situation, This book fights general advice and platitudes by providing proven coaching scripts, questions, and templates, as well as real-life stories and deep dives into mistakes coaches make. It even offers a 30-day intervention strategy to turn around poor performers.

6. Agile SellingAgile Selling

by Jill Konrath (2014)

The only constant in the sales world is change, and this book helps the new Sales VP assimilate into their management role quickly. It’s also widely applicable framework for their own reps to get up to speed in new situations, like pivots, promotions, and industry changes. The no-nonsense book presents “meta-skills” to quickly absorb tons of information, ramp up on new skills nearly overnight, manage a busy calendar, keep motivation high, and gamify sales work. Readers will carry these habits throughout their careers and benefit long after they finish the last chapter.

Craft a sales strategy that scales company revenue

A new VP Sales’ role in a start-up is to bring a company from initial traction to initial scale. Strategy is a core responsibility, and once a company reaches ~$20m ARR, the VP Sales should shift focus away from tactics even more to go deeper into strategy – Jason Lemkin.

7. The Sales Acceleration FormulaThe Sales Accelleration Formula 

Using Data, Technology, and Inbound Selling to Go from $0 to $100 Million

by Mark Roberge (2015)

An engineer from MIT, Mark Roberge took HubSpot’s sales through the company’s first 10,000 customers. He pioneered a new method of scaling sales through metrics, process, and inbound selling. Roberge argues that sales can be taught; that there is a science and process behind it that one can distill into a replicable formula. This book is that formula, teaching readers a practical approach to bringing prospects from lead gen to sales in a combined sales and inbound marketing collaboration. “Readers will learn how to apply data, technology, and inbound selling to every aspect of accelerating sales, including hiring, training, managing, and generating demand.”

Inbound content and lead generation has changed the sales landscape, and it’s here to stay, so it’s an especially important read for the contemporary VP Sales. Roberge covers five key areas — four formulas and a way to think about technology in the sales context.

      • Hire the same successful salesperson every time — The Sales Hiring Formula
      • Train every salesperson in the same manner — The Sales Training Formula
      • Hold salespeople accountable to the same sales process — The Sales Management Formula
      • Provide salespeople with the same quality and quantity of leads every month — The Demand Generation Formula
      • Leverage technology to enable better buying for customers and faster selling for salespeople

8. Beyond the Sales ProcessBeyond The Sales Process

12 Proven Strategies for a Customer-Driven World

by Steve Andersen and Dave Stein (2016)

Steve Andersen and Dave Stein argue that sales professionals who focus on just getting the sale are making a fatal mistake: what one does before and after the sale is just as important. The average executive spends less than 5 percent of their time engaged in the buying of products and services, so sales teams need to make sure they’re engaging these executives the rest of the time as well. This book divides 12 strategies into three sections: how to drive success before the sale, during the sale, and after the sale. It teaches how to create value for customers at all times and not just being reactive to requirements in an RFP. The book is backed by research and illustrated with case studies from companies like Hilton and Siemens, making it one of the most captivating sales books of 2016 and one we recommend all emerging sales leaders read. 

“Most sales books assume that only the sale matters. Not true. This book considers the whole picture—what’s happening when your customers aren’t buying from you influences them when they are.” — Yvonne Genovese, GVP, Gartner, Inc.

9. The Business Battlecard The Business Battlecard

Winning Moves for Growing Companies

by Paul O’Dea (2009)

This book is a field guide to sales strategy for senior executives of growing companies. The Business Battlecard helps the reader “craft a winning strategy that will win you the war on several fronts: the battle against competitors, the battle for customers’ minds, the battle for investors’ wallets, and the battle for employees’ hearts.” It covers how to devise a clear strategy, align the team, align other executives, and execute. The book includes a one-page visual summary (a “battlecard”) for what you need to focus on and guides the reader through five key questions.

10. The New Strategic Selling The New Strategic Selling

The Unique Sales System Proven Successful by the World’s Best Companies

by Robert Miller and Stephen Heiman (2008)

The Miller Heiman sales strategy and the classic book Strategic Selling became a cornerstone for salespeople and non-sales businesspeople alike with the introduction of the “Win-Win” concept in 1985. The authors revised the book in 2008 for modern complex sales, covering strategic topics like creating steady revenue (avoiding boom and bust), understanding competitive offerings and substitutes, identifying the four real decision makers in even the most vexing corporations, and closing the right business, not business you’ll regret later.

11. Nonstop Sales BoomNon Stop Sales Boom

Powerful Strategies to Drive Consistent Growth Year After Year

by Colleen Francis (2014)

This book teaches sales executives how to avoid boom-bust cycles and create a sales system to smooth out erratic highs and lows each quarter. Francis introduces the Sales Radar concept, which is a holistic way to characterize prospects alongside the sales funnel. This is divided into four sections which she argues each deserve attention and work in harmony to create a steady supply of wins throughout the year: Attraction (filling the pipeline), Participation (turning leads into customers), Growth (picking the best clients and investing in them), and Leverage (generating referrals). Peak Sales Recruiting reviewed this book in depth because of its standout concepts for long-term business growth.

“Packed with enlightening examples of sales disasters and standouts…brings balance to the selling process, reliability to revenues and booming sales all year long.” Top Sales World

Hone team sales tactics

A new Sales VP needs to scale their work with a high-performing team, implementing advanced sales tactics. And from time to time, their responsibility is to close sales themselves — something taking a deal from end to end. These hand-picked books will expand the reader’s tactical skill to deal with any situation.

12. Insight Selling Insight Selling

Surprising Research on What Sales Winners Do Differently

by Mike Schultz & John Doerr (2014)

This book helps B2B sales teams adapt to the new paradigm, in which, the authors argue, buyers see products and services as replaceable. Schultz and Doerr interviewed over 700 B2B purchases and found that the #1 winners sold radically differently than the #2 finishers. They share their new data, as well as a three-level Insight Selling model that helps sales executives parse out which advice to follow, which to discard, and what parts of their existing processes aren’t working anymore. This is an important read for the new VP Sales and for members of their team.

“Schultz and Doerr are truly among the elite sales thought leaders. Insight Selling outlines exactly what you need to do to set yourself apart and find yourself in the winner’s circle. It’s a must read for even the most experienced sellers.” — Jill Konrath, bestselling author of Agile Selling & SNAP Selling

13. Bottom-Line Selling Bottom Line Selling

The Sales Professional’s Guide to Improving Customer Profits

by Jack Malcolm (2011)

Jack Malcolm’s philosophy to selling focuses on the bottom line — of your customer. This book helps the new VP Sales and their team navigate their prospects’ business goals and problems to cultivate a deep understanding that leads to value creation. “The only way to add measurable value to your customers—the kind that gets the attention of high-level decision makers—is to understand how their business generates cash, bring solid ideas for improving their cash flow engine, and speak the language that resonates with them,” says Malcolm.

“I read a lot of business books, more than 100 a year, and I can say without question that Bottom-Line Selling is absolutely one of my all time favorites. If you want to clearly understand how to use business acumen, competitive intelligence and your customer’s financials to position yourself as a trusted advisor and close major deals, this is a MUST read book.”— John Spence

14. Fanatical Prospecting Fanatical Prospecting

The Ultimate Guide to Opening Sales Conversations and Filling the Pipeline by Leveraging Social Selling, Telephone, Email, Text, and Cold Calling

by Jeb Blount (2015)

A key responsibility of the VP Sales is to inspect pipeline and make sure it’s being filled in a healthy, sustainable way. This book is a well-loved, must-read basic guide to prospecting that’s well worth a revisit for leadership hoping to train their team to improve lead generation.

“Jeb Blount turns the most despised activity in sales – PROSPECTING – upside down. He nails it with his insights, humor, and expertise, making this a book every salesperson, entrepreneur, and executive must read. Get ready to come away with more strategies and ideas and you’ve ever found in one place.”  Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter” author of High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price

15. Metaphorically Selling Mettaphorically Selling

How to use the magic of metaphors to sell, persuade & explain anything to anyone

by Anne Miller (2009)

Some of the best sales executives infuse their sales tactics with metaphors (and teach their teams how to call on metaphors for better selling). This is particularly important for companies selling visionary solutions or complex technologies that are difficult to articulate, as well as to cut through the noise of content overload online. In four steps, this book teaches readers how to “weave the magic of metaphor into your business arguments to sell an idea, clear up confusion, shake up indifference, close a sale, vaporize objections, wow an audience, inspire action and make your point.” This is an entertaining read, with over 250 real-world examples, opening with the “Sorry Seven” — the seven types of speakers who put even the most willing listeners to sleep.

“Metaphors are communication home runs. This book shows you how to hit them.” CHICAGO TRIBUNE

16. RFPs Suck! RFPs Suck

How to Master the RFP System Once and for All to Win Big Business

by Tom Searcy  (2009)

In industries where RFPs are a required component of dealflow, new sales executives should read this book for ideal strategies and tactics to contend with the RFP world. It teaches how to navigate the time-consuming, expensive, and often unfairly balanced RFP process — as well as advice on when to quit or to double down and win the deal.

“This is the first book I’ve seen on this grossly overlooked topic and it’s definitely a winner. Smaller firms hoping to land large corporate customers will find the most value, but even sellers from big companies will learn new tricks. In short, you’ll discover how to qualify, divide and conquer RFPs that make the most sense for your company.”— Jill Konrath, Author, Selling to Big Companies

17. Strategic Sales PresentationsStrategic Sales Presentations

by Jack Malcolm (2012)

Presentations to senior decision makers are high stakes: sales teams have a clear shot to win, but if they fail, they’ll be sent home quickly. Malcolm presents an end-to-end guide for creating and delivering world-class pitch presentations to high-level prospects. It covers with planning and positioning, presentation crafting, and delivery for 30- to 60-minute pitches.

“This book will transform any salesperson into a strategic salesperson and the more strategic you are, the higher value you sell.” — Nancy Duarte, CEO, Duarte, Inc. award winning author of slide:ology and Resonate

18. The Truth About LeadsThe Truth About Leads

by Dan McDade (2011)

A successful VP Sales knows how to work closely with the heads of marketing and demand generation in their company to create a full pipeline of highly qualified leads. Dan McDade, CEO of PointClear, provides a guide to excellent B2B lead generation. The Truth About Leads a must-read for sales executives who are new to the lead generation world or want to solidify their foundation to prospect development as they scale their business.

19. Aligning Strategy & Sales 

The Choices, Systems, and Behaviors that Drive Effective Selling

by Frank Cespedes (2014)Aligning Strategy and Sales

Harvard Business School professor Frank Cespedes helps executives close the gap between its strategy and sales efforts. The book provides new research, examples, and an actionable framework to show how sales fits in the broader context of the rest of the business and how it affects value creation for the customer.

“Frank Cespedes has brilliantly captured why aligning strategy and sales is so darn difficult. He walks you through the alignment process in a methodical yet witty manner, reminding you of the nitty-gritty intricacies that will provide the wind in the sails of your strategy. This book should be required reading for all senior executives and sales managers.” — Jeanne O’Kelley, cofounder and CEO, Blueprint Technologies

20. Dealstorming

The Secret Weapon That Can Solve Your Toughest Sales ChallengesDealstorming

by Tim Sanders (2016)

Tim Sanders argues that “sales genius is a team sport,” and puts forth a structured, scalable, and repeatable brainstorming-type process called “Dealstorming” to problem-solve complex sales deadlocks. It involves everyone who touches a sale (especially those outside of sales teams) and taps into the team’s wisdom and creativity to generate truly innovative ideas, with success at companies like Yahoo! and Condé Nast. This recent release is a good read for a VP Sales who needs to get a lucrative and complex deal unstuck by collaborating with cross-functional teammates.

21. How to Win Friends and Influence People

by Dale Carnegie (1937 original, 2016 new edition)How to Win Friends and Influence People

We all saw this one coming. How to Win Friends and Influence People is a 1937 classic that remains one of the most widely-read self-help books in the world. It takes on new meaning for a VP Sales, who now has to collaborate with a new set of executive counterparts in marketing, product, and engineering (and has to manage people — who might have once been their peers, in the case of an internal promotion). The publishers recently released a new edition with some updates; the core of the book remains applicable to this day.
“It changed my life.” — Warren Buffet

22. Selling to Big Companies 

by Jill Konrath (2012)

Jill Konrath focuses on how to get your foot in the door with larger enterprises in “Selling to Big Companies.” It covers how to target the prospects where sales teams have the highest chances of success, find the right names, get a meeting with a corporate decision maker, create value propositions that catch their eye, and more. This book is one of Fortune Magazine’s 8 must-read sales books and a Gold Selling to Big CompaniesMedal Winner of the Sales Book Awards.

“This book takes the mystery out of selling to these corporate behemoths. Read it to shorten your sales cycle and avoid the many traps that can derail your sales efforts.”—Gerhard Gschwandtner, Founder and Publisher, Selling Power

 

23. Whale Hunting

How to Land Big Sales and Transform Your Company

by Tom Searcy & Barbara Smith (2008)Whale Hunting

This book is for the VP Sales who plans to grow their business by going after larger enterprises and contracts. As the authors put it, “Stop wasting time with little accounts and start landing monster accounts.” While many books focus on the individual salesperson, this one focuses on collaboration and teamwork. It provides a nine-step method to find and land big deals, and is particularly useful for answering higher-tier RFPs. (No whales were harmed in the writing of this book.)

24. The Key to the C-Suite 

What You Need to Know to Sell Successfully to Top Executives

by Michael Nick (2011)The Key to the C-Suite

Author Michael Nick argues that as budgets tighten, purchasing decisions land in the hands of the C-suite — and that sales teams need speak their language. This requires gathering a specific type of advance intel and crystallizing the value proposition in a way that high-level decision makers can understand. It is more practical and tactical than most, teaching how to:

      • Find key financial information on a prospect
      • Determine a corporation’s financial stability
      • Clearly define the value of the product or service they are selling
      • Calculate the value impact of their offerings in financial metrics
      • Clarifying how sales packages fit into metrics such as return on asset, return on equity, operating costs, net profit, and earnings

25. Selling to the C-Suite Selling to the C-Suite

What Every Executive Wants You to Know About Successfully Selling to the Top

by Dr. Stephen J. Bistritz and Nicholas A.C. Read (2009)

With 60 years of combined experience selling to corporations around the world, the authors conducted in-depth interviews with executive-level decision makers of more than 500 companies and government organizations to provide concepts and strategies that have been proven through repeated application. They demystify the executive’s role in the buying process — when they step in, and how they affect the deal. They cover how to gain access to executives, establish trust, and create value that resonates at the C-suite.

“If you’ve been in the sales business for a while, you’ll remember Steve’s fine work at Target Marketing Systems. This book really gets to the heart of the matter.  With no quick fixes or silver bullets, this book is serious about getting you into the C-Suite and keeping you there.” — Dave Stein, Sales Hiring Expert and author of “Beyond the Sales Process”

We hope you enjoy this reading list. Please leave a comment below with a book that has changed the way you think about your approach to sales, management, and helping your customers.

The post The 25 Sales Books Every New Sales VP Needs to Read appeared first on Peak Sales Recruiting.

15 Jun 16:59

[Ebook] 5 Reasons Why Best of Breed Technology Fuels High-Growth

by Hally Pinaud
[Ebook] 5 Reasons Why Best of Breed Technology Fuels High-Growth

Author: Hally Pinaud

If you work for a high tech company, you might be a fan of the HBO show Silicon Valley. The jokes are spot-on in this moment when it seems like everyone’s trying to live up to the old Facebook motto: “Move fast and break things.” I’ve done my time at a start-up. They do move fast, and you have to be ready to persevere, push boundaries, and yes, pivot. Things move fast here at Marketo, too. Marketo has grown at a pace only matched by some of the best in the industry, and change is still a constant. We move fast; we learn and adjust even faster.

Let me dig into that last statement a little bit. Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen competitors come and go, but we’ve learned that hitting aggressive goals isn’t about what everyone else is doing. It’s about moving forward with your own customer knowledge and refining your strategy as you discover what actually works along the way. And while each high-growth company’s secret sauce varies, one big factor is learning from those successes. Companies that succeed can measure what causes the growth, forecast accurately, and project forward to make decisions accordingly.

I know, I know. Easier said than done, right?

It turns out that the right solutions–and not the Conjoined Triangles of Success–are really the foundation for growth because they allow you to succeed, measure, and repeat success most efficiently. So what are those solutions? Isaac Wyatt’s well-known Best of Breed: The DNA of Unicorns study looks at high-growth companies to understand if there’s a core set of best of breed vendors that are vital to the success of these companies. Marketo is the top marketing automation platform, along with other core marketing technologies like New Relic and Optimizely. It shows the value of starting with core best of breed capabilities and focusing on the critical components of profitability and growth.

So why is best of breed marketing automation core to growth? Because marketing automation enables the following five things for a high-growth company, which helps fuel their success:

1. Engage Potential Buyers Until They Are Purchase-Ready

If your goal is growth, it’s not enough to get attention. Success is measured in revenue, revenue means conversion, and conversion typically takes time. You need to form a relationship with potential customers, which means that you have to do a lot more than sending batch-and-blast emails. Rather, you need to nurture individuals based on their behavior to hit your big growth goals. This nurturing process will help you triage and nurture the right buyers to the point when they’re ready to talk to sales.

2. Hand High Quality Leads to Your Sales or Acquisition Team

How do you determine at what point buyers are ready to make a purchase, though? Lead or customer scoring. Eventually, you may need multiple scores to scale with your growth (this realization, by the way, is where I personally decided to replace a “good enough” solution at my start-up. A post for another day…).

Crucially, for B2B organizations, the buck doesn’t stop at the sales hand-off either. If you’re trying to make the sales process more efficient, you need behavior tracking and deep CRM integration. Sales needs to know what your high-quality leads have done to warrant a high score, and they need this in real-time in the system where sales business takes place. And not all behaviors are equally valuable for sales to see: if you’re trying to assess whether someone is ready to purchase, an info dump that includes every time a lead has visited your blog may mean far less than, say, a single visit to your pricing page.

3. Don’t Neglect Your Customers

While we’re on the topic of purchase, here’s something they do teach in business schools these days (unlike the previously mentioned triangles): it costs a lot more money to land new customers, as opposed to keeping and building your business with existing customers. Happy customers are also the most effective kind of marketing. So, don’t let your nurture efforts end when a customer converts–measure and maximize retention. Listening to customer behavior and responding can also help you cross-sell and upsell. For instance, if a current customer watches a video about your latest product upgrade, it might be a great time for an account manager to make a call. If there’s an upsell opportunity in that upgrade, the account manager has even more to talk about.

4. Know Marketing’s Impact on the Bottom Line

One’s an incident, two’s a coincidence, and three’s a pattern. At least that’s what observation tells us. But if you want to grow, you can’t leave your measurement up to observation alone. Repeating success requires you to rightly identify successes and where they occur in your customer lifecycle. For example, what channels are working for you as a first touchpoint? What works best to move leads along in the funnel? And, here’s the million dollar growth question: how much revenue is marketing contributing to the bottom line? At the end of the day, answering that question means you can ask for the resources to double-down on wins.

5. All This Has to Work at Scale

“But wait!” you say, “this all sounds like a lot of effort for my growth team!” This is where best of breed automation is really set apart. High-growth companies make their marketing automation solution decisions based on what will help them most efficiently achieve all the above now, but they also weigh what will scale as they add successful programs and initiatives to their workload along the way. Put simply, best of breed solutions make daily tasks much easier and have the product breadth to allow you to grow into additional capabilities. After all, you’re growing fast. You need to think big today and lay groundwork to scale well into the future.

Want to learn more and see how other high growth companies have kicked it up a notch? Check out our ebook, How Successful Companies Fuel Growth with Marketo.

How Successful Companies Fuel Growth with Marketo


[Ebook] 5 Reasons Why Best of Breed Technology Fuels High-Growth was posted at Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership. | http://blog.marketo.com

The post [Ebook] 5 Reasons Why Best of Breed Technology Fuels High-Growth appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

15 Jun 16:58

6 Reasons To Create a Newsletter With Your Blog

by BloggingPro

Some of the most successful bloggers do something interesting: they create an email newsletter to go along with their blog. Despite changes in digital marketing strategies, email is still an extremely useful tool for generating leads and driving conversions.

Sending a newsletter every time you publish a blog post can help you harness the power of email. It can significantly increase your number of subscribers and promote your overall email marketing efforts.

Even though blogging is typically a much more personal form of communication, this doesn’t mean a newsletter won’t do your company any good.

If you’re not convinced that combining an email newsletter with your blog is a terrific idea, here are some things that might change your mind:

1. Newsletters Build Communities

Did you know that landlords of apartment complexes often like to create newsletters to create a sense of community within their complex? They post information about holiday parties, yard sales, and neighborhood events. These newsletters are exciting for most renters because they offer companionship and a feeling of belonging.

When subscribers sign up to receive your newsletter, they’re not just gaining weekly reading material. They’re gaining a community of members who are interested in similar topics. They can participate in a group with like-minded people while investing in your blog.

2. Newsletters Signify Loyalty

As sad as it is to admit, most blog readers are one-time visitors. Most of the traffic blogs receive are readers passing through because of a search engine query or a friend who shared the post on social media. It’s not that your blog was bad or they didn’t enjoy the content. They simply forgot the name of your site as time passed.

When you create a pop-up that invites readers to subscribe to your newsletter, it gives them a way to find you again. Many readers will simply click out of the pop-up, but some will have enjoyed what they read, and be interested in learning more. They’ll be grateful for the easy way to remember your blog.

3. Newsletters Promote Older Posts

Each newsletter should provide things like relevant information, tips and tricks, events, and most importantly, should highlight past blog posts that align with the newsletter’s focus. This will lead more readers to previous posts.

Directing readers to previous posts has some specific benefits worth pursuing. First of all, this helps to improve your rankings. It can also help you earn more per blog post. A well-planned email marketing campaign that includes a regular newsletter can build trust in readers, encouraging them to make purchases or engage with content.

4. Newsletters Are Familiar To Readers

Although some forms of communication, like RSS, are foreign to many of your readers, email is likely to stand the test of time. It’s completely recognizable to your readers, and it will continue to be a standard of communication that everyone knows and loves. When they receive a newsletter in their email inbox, everyone already knows what to do with it, which means it should be more effective.

5. Newsletters Enhance Engagement

Newsletters are also very social, which can lead to increased engagement. Using Google Analytics, newsletters help you track the number of new subscribers and how people interact with the emails you’ve sent. As you study this information, you’ll be able to target those actually interested in engaging with you.

Newsletters are also very easy to market on social media, opening up your blog to a new world of possible subscribers. In combination with your email marketing campaign, promoting your newsletter on social networks will emphasize engagement from readers across the board.

6. Newsletters Increase Readership

This is perhaps the most important reason to include a newsletter with your blog. Every blog wants more readers, even if they already have a substantial following. However, it can be hard to gain the attention of readers with all of the competition out there.

New readers pay attention to things that grab their attention, like graphic design, high quality images, structure and length of the text, or the title and introduction of the first post. They also notice when you have a newsletter that sums up the blog post and lets them know they want to read more.

Does this information mean you should send out a newsletter every time you write a blog post? No…but it does show the value of paying some extra attention to your blog readership. And a newsletter is an all-around great way to find and retain readers for your blog.

15 Jun 16:58

5 Excellent Infographics and How They Made the Grade

by Rhonda Bavaro

5 excellent infographics

If a picture is worth a thousand words, an amazing infographic is worth a thousand shares.

Infographics have seen an increase in popularity over the past few years as we search for unique and captivating ways to tell a story online, capitalizing on our audience’s limited attention span and desire for quick bites of information. An infographic can tell a whole story or it can summarize an article in a way that leads the reader to want to click on the entire story. Our brains process visual information more quickly than text, so infographics are a great way to put a unique and creative spin on data or fact-based information.

Research compiled by MGD Advertising shows that:

  • Content featuring compelling images averages 94% more total views than those without.
  • Online views per press release is increased 77% over straight text when press releases also contain images, video, charts and other multi-media. (Source: MDG Advertising)

A great infographic tells a story in a visual way, often illustrating facts and data in an organized image that simplifies a complicated subject. The most successful infographics are ones that present information in a way that is easy to read and understand. They use graphic design elements such as fonts, color, spacing, and focal points to draw the eye to key pieces of information.

Excellent infographics are educational and informative. They add value and include research and references to original sources. This positions the creator as an expert on the subject, increasing their credibility. Building trust among readers increases the publisher’s reputation as a thought leader in their field.

An awesome infographic is shareable. It’s so good that readers want to either save it for later (pin it to Pinterest or share to Twitter or Facebook to bookmark it) or share it with their colleagues. This kind of social sharing can yield big results when an infographic goes viral. By making infographics embeddable, they can be used as content by others. The backlinks that can be generated from a successful infographic are important for SEO efforts.

So let’s take a look at 5 Excellent Infographics and How They Made the Grade

A+ in Simplicity

This infographic titled How to Increase Productivity at Work by ELearningInfographics.com gets an A+ in simplicity. It illustrates a topic that has many facets, yet does so in a way that is easy to understand and digest. It summarizes the topic and makes the reader want to know more. It draws the reader in with the use of simple yet entertaining graphics and limited text.

How to Increase Productivity at Work Infographic

A+ in Shareability

This infographic from Simplilearn.com about social media automation is an excellent example of illustrating a topic that is on-trend and useful. When an infographic contains information that is valuable to a wide range of readers, it’s highly shareable. The use of simple graphics and color makes the subject easy to understand, which will lead readers to share it because they know their colleagues will find it valuable and easy to read as well.

Best Social Media Automation Guide

Courtesy of: Simplilearn

A+ in Use of Color and Fonts

An infographic doesn’t have to be full of bright colors and fancy fonts to attract attention. In fact, colors and fonts that are easy to read and easy on the eyes are best. Eliv8group.com gets an A+ grade for their infographic about email drip campaigns. This image outlines a somewhat lengthy subject in a way that is easy to read, using consistent text which stands out (black against a light background and white against a dark background) and fonts that are simple and readable. Keep in mind that when infographics are read, they are often seen on a mobile device or as an image in a social media feed or on Pinterest. The image is very small and so the font and colors play a big part in the image being readable and understandable.

5 Email Drip Campaigns That Increase Sales – Infographic

A+ in Visualization

An excellent infographic helps the reader visualize a subject in a way that is easy to understand. It educates the reader on a subject. By breaking down a complicated subject in a simplified manner through the use of graphics, it helps the reader understand it in a way that straight text cannot. MDG Advertising makes an A+ grade for presenting statistics and research done on the subject of visual images in online marketing. Many pieces of data are illustrated in a way that’s easy to comprehend. It’s visually pleasing and easy to read.

It’s All About the Images [infographic by MDG Advertising]
Infographic
by MDG Advertising

A+ in Storytelling

A great infographic tells a story. It draws the reader in, entertaining them and holding their interest, making them want to know more. Although every type of infographic should tell a story, an infographic that literally tells a story through a timeline can be very effective in laying out a history of events. This image from SSLs.com tells the story of terrible technology predictions in an amusing way through a visual timeline. It gets an A+ not only for storytelling, but all of the other four criteria as well!

A Timeline of Terrible Tech Predictions #infographic

You can also find more infographics at Visualistan

Are you ready to know how you can create your own awesome infographics? Next week, stop by for our article on tools and tips that non-designers can use for creating amazing infographics. Until then, take a look at 8 Visual Content Tools to Increase Engagement to learn about some easy-to-use tools to create your own original images. And be sure to download our guide to SEO and Inbound Marketing Tools That Actually Work.

51 SEO & Inbound Marketing Tools

15 Jun 16:58

How to Build the Right Sales Playbook for Your Team

by Scott Cramer

The difference between a high-performing sales team and a sales team that struggles to meet its numbers is process. With only 46% of forecasted deals closing, the importance of a trackable and repeatable sales process is paramount. Teams with a clear and consistent process are more likely to move deals through the pipeline consistently and close them cleanly.

A successful sales playbook is a living document that serves as a roadmap for sales leaders and teams throughout the sales process. It’s also a valuable tool for onboarding new salespeople, a central repository for ongoing training, and a guide for handing off new customers to post-sale teams.

Deciding which sections to add to a sales playbook is critical, and there are five subjects that every playbook must contain: a company’s sales process, discovery call details, standardized messaging, an ideal customer profile and call cadence. Each of these subjects is foundational for sales development and account managers, and can help sales teams improve the buyer journey.

Identifying Your Sales Process

Not every product or vertical has the same sales process, and identifying your sales process is the first step in guiding salespeople toward how to successfully engage prospects. Adding your company’s sales process to the playbook lays out a clear path for salespeople to take (especially during the onboarding process), highlights which stages of the process are most important, and takes the guesswork out of next steps.

Start by examining your current sales process and asking the following questions:

  • Is your team’s process missing any steps, or does it have extra steps that slow down the sales cycle?
  • Does each stage clearly address customer needs?
  • Does your sales process include the post-sale handoff procedures as well?

This section of the sales playbook can help sales leaders 24 hours a day and bolster any weekly training or coaching sessions. Make sure the sales process clearly answers each of the above questions.

Perfecting Discovery Calls

A discovery call provides sales development team members the opportunity to determine the basics of a prospect’s needs. This stage is vital: once a prospect’s problem is identified, a personalized presentation of a solution can be created.

There’s both art and science to conducting successful discovery calls. While salespeople may be able to identify a prospect’s problem, too many of them stop there without digging more deeply into why the problem exists and determining that problem’s personal impact on the prospect.

When crafting this portion of the sales playbook, make sure salespeople address the following questions with prospects:

  • What do your current solutions look like now?
  • How does leadership drive adoption of those solutions?
  • What are the gaps in your solutions, and how do they currently affect you?

It’s especially important that this section is as prescriptive as possible. Left to their own devices, salespeople would create their own discovery processes, leading to a patchwork of messages. Give salespeople enough freedom to personalize discovery for prospects, but provide a foundational set of questions to gather the most relevant information in the early stages of the cycle.

Standardized Messaging

It’s easy to underestimate the power of consistent messaging. Today’s prospects and markets move quickly, which makes steady but personalized message one of the most pivotal elements of a sales playbook.

Training sales teams on message must include answer these questions:

  • How does executive leadership position your product and your market – and is it a message easy for sales teams to translate to prospects?
  • Does this messaging match and build on top-of-funnel messaging from marketing?
  • How often will salespeople receive training on messaging?

Consider engaging marketing, client success and other teams when crafting this section of the sales playbook to ensure messaging is consistent across the organization, and evaluate messaging with those departments on a regular basis to establish and maintain alignment.

Crafting an Ideal Customer Profile

Working to create an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) doesn’t just help sales teams identify the best leads; it helps them weed out less-than-ideal leads that would consume valuable time and resources. Because ICP will shape messaging, start by working with marketing leadership to define your company’s perfect customer; this messaging should also help focus prospect outreach. Then, answer the following questions:

  • Is it getting to have a larger pipeline or two weed out leads that are unlikely to close?
  • Is your product capable of solving problems for a broad range of companies, or is it more specialized?
  • Does this profile fit both inbound and outbound prospects?

The answers to these questions can help salespeople personalize conversation and content to fit the needs of prospects that fit the ICP. It also provides guidance on how salespeople should prioritize prospects to engage day-to-day.

Setting a Call Cadence

There’s no specific order to follow when crafting sections of a sales playbook, but setting a call cadence should be one of the final elements addressed. Many of the previously mentioned sections can guide sales leaders toward how, when, and why sales teams engage prospects.

With the right call cadence, sales teams can gauge prospect interest and move them along the sales process. Answer these questions in the “call cadence” section of your sales playbook:

  • How much autonomy should salespeople have in setting their own cadences?
  • How diligent should salespeople be before letting go of a potential opportunity?
  • What channels (phone, email, social) should be included in the cadence?

Prescriptive solutions here are best: giving salespeople clear guidelines and encouraging them to be persistent can streamline cadences while allowing room to personalize.

Sales playbooks offer sales leadership an opportunity to set each sales team member up for success. By including each of these sections, sales leaders can also help set a tone of clarity and collaboration for an entire organization.

The post How to Build the Right Sales Playbook for Your Team appeared first on OpenView Labs.

15 Jun 16:57

Top Skills for 2016 from LinkedIn

by Sally Falkow

Top 25 Skills

This list of the top 25 skills that can make you more marketable in 2016 and beyond was published on the Official LinkedIn blog.

linkedIn-hot-skills-2015-global

The data was gathered by analyzing all of the hiring and recruiting activity that occurred on LinkedIn in 2015 to find the 25 hottest skills required. Since LinkedIn has access to the hiring data of millions of companies and professionals across the globe, it stands to reason that we should pay attention to their insights.

Most are technical skills, but number 2, 3 & 4 are vital for marketing and & PR jobs.

Statistical Analysis and Data Mining

This skills is consistently ranked in the top four across every country LinkedIn analyzed. There is a lot that you need to learn to be able to do this effectively. And there are several ways you can gather data.

Surveying: Survey data can be used in many ways. I am sure you know that the media loves statistics. A good report can garner earned media attention and coverage. It does depend on how you present the findings though. One agency had a stellar study on health care but when they first released it they got zero media interest. After a rewrite of the report and better graphics to tell the story, it was picked up by major media and resulted in more than 1,000 qualified leads. You can use online tools to poll broader audiences or use outside vendors to help you gather data in hard-to-reach audiences. In some cases we’ve used freelance researchers to do the grunt work.

Listening: Social media has provided us with the ultimate research tool. We can now tap directly into conversations taking place right now on any subject or brand. We can find out what problems people are having, how they feel about your brand ad your competitors, what their needs and aspirations are and who the influencers are in that space. There are now a slew of tools to help you do this.

Data Mining: Every company already has tons of data about their product, their sales, their customers and the industry. The skill that’s needed is how to find that data and what to do with it. Having data without insights is totally useless. One tool you should know how to use is Google Analytics. There will be valuable data in CRM systems and other data sources too.

Analysis and Application: This is about seeing the bigger picture. You need to develop the ability to look at several pieces of data and see how they relate and what insight that can offer. It’s a logic skill – if A and B then …. and come up with a sound scenario that makes sense and gives direction.

Campaign Management

There are currently 9,510 marketing campaign manager jobs posted in the US on LinkedIn. These are some of the skills they require:

  • Define campaign objectives, target audiences, strategies, and identify the optimum marketing mix of deliverables, events and media.
  • Manage content strategy and content development as part of global editorial calendar.
  • Create innovative and engaging marketing assets including infographics, slideshares, social posts, landing pages, podcasts, animated gifs, product collateral, email offers, and other tools as needed.
  • Oversee project management of campaign and program execution including timelines, ROI/results, changes/improvements.
  • Lead the development and publication of out-side-in market stories and conversations that lead a path back to product messaging for products sold into the target markets.
  • Help determine appropriate marketing assets including product collateral, email offers, and other tools as needed such as infographics, whitepapers, videos, social media content
  • Ongoing project management of the execution of campaigns and programs including timelines, ROI/results, changes/improvements, managing vendors
  • Communicate campaign plans and results to internal and external audiences and secure executive, regional and cross-functional support
  • Utilize marketing automation best practices to track, monitor and report on results of programs.

That’s quite a list.

SEO/SEM Marketing

This too requires a lot of skills. SEO and SEM for a start are two different animals. SEO is about organic search results and SEM is about paid search. Each has a different set of skills. To be effective at SEO you have to stay abreast of the constant changes in the search engine algorithms. That in itself is almost a full-time job today. At the very least you need to find some resources that will do that job for you, so that you can read two or three sources and stay current. Moz.com and Search Engine land would be my first two choices.

Read my book SMART News: how to write branded content that gets found in search and shared on social media.

15 Jun 16:55

9 cold mailing templates to use when you're trying to sell and make tons of money

by Eugene Kim

wolf of wall street leo dicaprio

Plenty of people find cold emails annoying, but it's actually one of the most tried-and-true sales tactics for generating new leads.

In fact, Dmitry Dragilev, founder of an outreach consulting service JustReachOut.io, claims he was able to help a startup called Polar get acquired by Google by helping them master the art of cold emailing.

Dragilev recently put together a bunch of cold email templates and resources on his own blog

We sorted through the list and narrowed it down to 9 of the most effective cold email templates that Dragilev says almost always guarantee a response — and perhaps a successful sales meeting.

SEE ALSO: These 21 foolproof sales tips will help you close deals faster and make tons of money

1. The $3,000 contract email

1) Clearly states he's familiar with the product and also a customer.

2) Establishes he knows his stuff by mentioning a big name customer.

3) Provides link to an actual example of his work.

4) Key point: Shows what the final product might look like, ensuring he'll at least get noticed.

5) Closes with a question, making it easy for the reader to respond to the email with an answer.

WHAT YOU CAN LEARN:

"Don’t be afraid to give away tons of value. It means more work upfront, but you’ll stand out in the inbox." 

Source: Bryan Harris



2. A sales meeting cold mail done right

1) Clearly identifies the sender, his current role, and what he’s trying to sell. 

2) Pro tip: if you don’t know who to send an email to, just ask!

3) Clearly lists the exact time and date, while mentioning the length of the call.

WHAT YOU CAN LEARN:

"Identify yourself clearly upfront, verify whether you’re talking to the right person, and clearly mention how much of their time you want (and when do you want it)." 

Source: Close.io



3. The "best cold email pitch" HubSpot ever received

1) By referring to HubSpot's blog post, he shows he's not just a random spammer.

2) Mentions a competitor's name to catch the reader's attention.

3) Offers an actual demo video to give an idea of what the final product would look like.

WHAT YOU CAN LEARN:

"Personalize your emails beyond the 'Hi [FirstName].' Mention something the receiver might have done recently (check their blog or Twitter) to grab attention right in the first sentence."

Source: HubSpot



See the rest of the story at Business Insider