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11 Nov 16:53

Social Selling Tips of the Week: Your Guide to Prospect Research

by Alex Hisaka
  • guide-to-prospect-research

With Halloween in the rearview mirror and Thanksgiving on the horizon, now is the perfect time to shake off the sugar high of quick-fix sales solutions and focus on the meat and potatoes of a healthy sales pipeline—research-driven prospecting.

It’s not glamorous, but research is what guides your engagement strategy and informs your sales discussions. Without diligent buyer research your sales team will waste countless hours on unqualified leads. Luckily, thanks to social selling, researching prospects has never been easier.

5 Clever Prospect Research Strategies

Sometimes your traditional research channels and carefully crafted social notifications don’t yield results. Don’t sweat it. Aja Frost at HubSpot points out a few clever research tips and tricks to discover relevant, timely information about potential prospects.

Frost recommends reading a company’s jobs page and combining search term to look for strategic announcements and press releases on third-party sites. She also suggests using Google’s reverse image search to connect with individual company personnel on social media before reaching out with your first message.

“The more salespeople know about their prospects, the more credible and trustworthy they’ll seem,” Frost says. “It’s also much easier for well-informed reps to pitch their product to buyers’ needs than clueless ones.” Effective prospecting research combines information from every social channel available.

12 Prospecting Tools Designed for Social Selling

Disruptive change is constant in today’s social selling landscape. Marketing Manager James Meincke at CloserIQ outlines a dozen current social selling prospecting tools that every sales leader and marketing manager should have in their arsenal.

Meincke’s list includes apps and digital tools for building an up-to-date prospect list, automating and tracking email outreach, and tools like Rapportive and to find and research prospects on social media.

“Connecting with prospects via social media increases your chances of making a sale,” concludes Meincke. Use this wealth of tools to fuel your social research and prospecting.

10 Old Habits Ruining Sales from the Start

The sales funnel has evolved, so why are you still researching prospects the same old way? Stop sabotaging your sales pipeline at the start with outdated research tools and habits.

Amanda Nelson at Salesforce, highlights the importance of lead qualification through research. “Much like cold calling, flying blind when reaching out to customers will often fall short.” Nelson goes on to stress habits like social listening, adaptive personalized sales strategies, and stressing a “customer-centric, personalize approach.”

Researching prospects and qualifying leads with their concerns at the forefront of your sales strategy makes all the difference. Do the research before you reach out with your initial message.

Back to Basics

The future of sales may be automation and ever-changing sales cycles with multiple points of contact. However, every sale begins with good buyer research.

Research powered by social selling tools will let your sales team engage qualified leads with the kind of meaningful interactions that close deals and foster long-term trust. Unlock the hidden power of social selling. Personalize your prospect research and reap the benefits of a solid sales foundation.

Subscribe to the LinkedIn Sales Solution blog and make sure your sales team is on the cutting edge with the latest from today’s sales leaders.

05 Nov 16:36

Create a Professional LinkedIn Profile in 10 Simple Steps

by Warren Knight


In 2016, 64% of B2B social referrals to a website come directly from LinkedIn. Only 17% come from Facebook, and 14% from Twitter.

LinkedIn is your mini-website. This is the place that people will come to read more about you, and your business. Creating long-term relationships with potential clients inside of LinkedIn will only prove a success, if you have a professional LinkedIn profile that has been expertly crafted.

I have, in the last 5-6 years changed my LinkedIn profile various times to make sure the content on my professional LinkedIn profile is relevant, and as up-to-date as possible.

Are you doing the same?

Regardless of whether you are new to B2B social media marketing on LinkedIn, or whether you have attended a webinar, or read a previous LinkedIn article of mine; there is always something worth learning in everything you read. Here are my 10 steps to achieving a professional LinkedIn profile YOU can be proud of.

  1. Your Unique URL

You can customize your public profile URL when you edit your public profile. Custom public profile URLs are available on a first come, first served basis and will help you achieve your professional LinkedIn profile. Don’t know how to get yours? Here is a step-by-step process.

  1. Professional Photo

Earlier this year I wrote an article on the do’s and don’ts for a profile picture on LinkedIn. Upload a professional photo which is recent, doesn’t include your friends or beloved pets and represents YOU as a professional. Remember: you are 11x more likely to have your profile viewed with a photo, so make sure it’s a good one.

  1. Background Photo

You might not be aware that you can add a “header” background image to your LinkedIn profile, just like you can on Facebook and Twitter. Make sure this is just as professional as your profile picture.

  1. Join Groups

Part of using a social network is engaging, and to do this in a professional way, you need to join, and get involved in groups. Don’t join too many, and only join the ones that are relevant to your business interest, and serve a specific purpose.

  1. Endorsements

You can endorse a connection for a particular skill by going to the “skills & endorsements” section of their profile, and clicking on the name of the skill, or the + sign next to the skill. Do this for three different connections of yours, and they will be notified via email that you have done this and they will do the same for you.

  1. Ask For Recommendations

A recommendation inside of LinkedIn holds a lot of weight so make sure you ask every single person you do business with, if they would recommend your product/service inside of LinkedIn. In return, you can do the same for them.

  1. Share Content Regularly

One of the best ways to expand your LinkedIn network and to create a professional LinkedIn profile, is to share great content that is relevant to your audience. I do this on a daily basis and it has helped me build my network inside of LinkedIn.

  1. Get Introduced To A Mutual Connection

Inside of LinkedIn you can be asked to be introduced to a contact who is a 2nd-degree connection of yours (you both have a mutual connection). You can do this by going to the 2nd-degree profile, chose the connection from the mutual connections on the right-hand side and “request an introduction”. This is a great way to build your professional network.

  1. Keep Your Profile Updated

I mentioned this briefly at the beginning of this article. It is key that you keep your profile updated, and relevant to your current working positions. This will include updating your skills, photo’s and experience.

  1. Share Your LinkedIn Profile

Your LinkedIn profile should act as a mini-website and because of this, you should be sharing it with those you would like to connect with.

Where To Go From Here

I will be running a FREE and LIVE webinar on the 15th November at 7pm on my 2017 B2B survival kit: how to master LinkedIn to grow your business and I would love it if you could join me. You can sign up for this webinar here.

05 Nov 16:35

How to Rock Your LinkedIn Profile Picture!

by Dennis Koutoudis

In this post we are going to talk about a very interesting section of your LinkedIn Profile and one of my personal favorites – your Profile Picture!

What? You have No Profile Photo in Your LinkedIn Profile?

You may change your mind after you finish reading the five bullet points below! Let me lay down some pointers for you:

  • According to LinkedIn, users who have a profile photo, receive 7 times more views than users who don’t have one. 7 times!!!! This is a massive difference!
  • Users who have a profile photo have a greater Inmail response rate than users who don’t have one (it is said that users with a profile photo receive a 40% open rate in their Inmails).
  • LinkedIn prioritizes profiles of users with images on the search results pages. Therefore, users with profile photos have a far greater chance to be found by relevant parties (hiring managers, future employers, potential customers, classmates, ex business associates etc).
  • Having a Profile Picture is one of LinkedIn’s prerequisites in order to achieve a LinkedIn profile All Star Status (All Star Status is an indication that you have a well completed LinkedIn Profile).

  • Now to go a step further, a LinkedIn profile with a professional looking photo is viewed 11 times more frequently than a profile with NO photo.

Still not convinced that if you don’t have a profile picture you are not in the “game”?

According to Forbes, “Like a house that’s on sale, the assumption is that if there’s no photo, something’s wrong”. You definitely don’t want your viewers to think that something is wrong with you, and that you are not serious, do you?

Having a profile photo brings your profile to life, enhances your credibility and validates who you are so people can see who they are connected with, who they are about to do business with, who they are about to consider hiring, who their future employer is going to be, who their future partner is going to be………. etc.

But merely having just any profile photo is not enough, you should focus on having a profile photo that is professional & focuses on the people you want to reach!

You therefore need to make sure that your profile picture:

✔ Has a high resolution and is of a minimum size of 200 x 200 pixels and a maximum of 500 x 500 pixels (i would advise it is closer to the upper end of 500 x 500 pixels).

✔ Is a JPG, GIF or PNG file under 4MB in size.

✔ Is taken by a quality digital camera (so that numerous shots are taken before you pick the best one!) or even better: by a professional photographer.

✔ Is a recent photo of you and represents how you presently look like (a less than 2 years old picture is preferable).

✔ Looks serious, professional & clean and portrays you wearing a formal to semi-formal business outfit (suit or casual).

✔ Represents you as approachable, trustworthy and competent. Make sure you are looking directly at the camera and with a warm & likeable smile.

✔ Has a neutral background (preferably white or pale colour, however some people choose green or blue, or blurred backgrounds as well).

✔ Has only one person in it………You!!!

✔ Is showing your entire head and face, together with your upper body.

Ok, now lets lay down some things that should NOT be included in your LinkedIn Profile Picture:

✘ Your Family Members.

✘ Your Friends.

✘ Your Hobbies.

✘ Your Pets.

✘ Your Car.

✘ You wearing a Hat, Sunglasses, T-Shirt, a Bathing Suit, or you without a shirt on.

✘ Cartoons.

✘ Business Logos.

✘ Symbols & Drawings.

✘ Cropped Images.

✘ Low quality (i.e. Dark) Images.

✘ Old Images.

etc ……………….

I think you get the “picture”!!! Your Profile Photo should be about the professional best of YOU and only YOU!!!! And pleeeeease NO Selfies!!! This is a professional Profile Picture at a Professional Social Media Network, therefore it should be treated accordingly.

Your Profile Picture will appear in your groups, messages, status updates, endorsements & recommendations, searches, posts & comments, so take it seriously and find some time to upload one in order to make the best possible first impression!!! Always remember that people judge appearances very strictly and will therefore judge and make relevant assumptions about you from your Profile Picture.

That being said, lately I see more and more individuals with Profile Pictures that are not appropriate for the LinkedIn platform. To those I wish to say: “People, please do NOT confuse LinkedIn with other Social Media Networks”, this is the largest Network of Professionals in the world. Let’s try to act accordingly!

Lastly, i would suggest that you use the same Profile Picture on your website, print materials as well as all your social media platforms (whether it be LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc.). This way, you will not confuse viewers who may visit your profile in different Social Media Networks, thus being very easily recognizable, generating a solid & consistent personal brand image!

That’s it! I hope you implement the above and you create a Rocking LinkedInProfile Picture!!

05 Nov 16:20

26 time-management tricks I wish I'd known at 20

by Business Insider

time management slide

Most people learn time management the hard way: by trial and error.

Étienne Garbugli, a Montreal-based product and marketing consultant and the author of "Lean B2B: Build Products Businesses Want," distilled the lessons he wishes he'd known when he was 20.

He created the following presentation, posted to SlideShare, which we've shared here with his permission.

This is an update of an article originally posted by Max Nisen and Jenna Goudreau.

SEE ALSO: 6 subtle things highly productive people do every day

DON'T MISS: 25 daily habits that will make you smarter

See the rest of the story at Business Insider
05 Nov 16:20

Top 9 Podcasts for Sales Professionals

by Deena Anreise

In his Forbes article 6 Reasons Why Podcasting is the Future of Storytelling, Chris Giliberti states that “the podcast’s lithe ability to contort itself across myriad activities and settings, venturing where print and video cannot, is ultimately what cements its growth prospects. Not just in our cars, commutes, and meanderings, but center stage in our living rooms and at entertainment venues.

This is why podcasts are like smartphones: they contain a wide variety of tools in a small, portable package. But they beat smartphones in one key way: podcasts are free.

This is great news for sales professionals, because most sales trainings can be very cost prohibitive.

Top 9 Podcasts for Sales Professionals

Since 2013, Monthly podcast listenership has increased 75%. 21% of Americans ages 12 and up have listened to a podcast in the past month. That’s up from 17% in 2015. Here’s how to get in on the action:

1. The Ultimate Sales Hustle Steli Efti delivers sales hacks for startup hustlers, He leverages tactics, strategies, and sales stories from Silicon Valley’s most prominent sales hustlers. The accompanying blog features sales videos, articles, and extra materials related to each episode.

2. The Social Selling Podcast In the weekly podcast, Martin Brossman and Greg Hyer focus on the use of social media to drive sales engagements. They discuss topics like sales enablement, lead generation, prospecting, inbound marketing, and sales/marketing alignment.

3. B2B Growth Podcast Hosted by James Carbary of Sweet Fish Media, B2B Growth is a podcast dedicated to helping B2B executives achieve explosive growth.

4. The Sales Evangelist Donald Kelly’s podcast has been recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine, Huffington Post, Yahoo Finance, South Florida Business Journal and UpStart as a great place to get the education needed to overcome the most challenging obstacles faced by salespeople at every level of their careers.

5. In The Arena Anthony Iannarino hones in on the most current and powerful sales techniques and mindsets from the top authors, salesmen, sales managers, and experts in the fields of B2B and B2C sales to give you the edge you need to move your numbers and profit to the next level.

6. The Growth Show This is HubSpot’s business podcast for leaders consumed with driving growth, whether that’s growing a company, growing a movement, growing an idea, or growing a team. Each week, HubSpot sits down with someone who has achieved remarkable growth to unpack how they did it…and how you can, too.

7. Sales Hero Podcast Joe Girard will expose you to cool stuff about psychology, behavior, and neuroscience that’ll help you create repeatable best practices and systems. He wants to help you build a bulletproof mindset that’ll prompt you to take action and do your best work.

8. Nobody Likes It Cold The tagline of this podcast is: “Sell like you give a f$ck.” So, it’s no surprise that host Luke Davies interviews successful sales leaders, CEOs, CMOs, and sales pros every week to learn about their strategies, knowledge, and path to success.

9. Accelerate Andy Paul shares his powerful game-changing sales strategies and discusses how he’s built successful sales teams with companies, business owners, executives, and sales professionals in order to help transform the performance of you and your sales team.

Oh How Times Have Changed

In October 2014, very few people actually knew what a podcast was or how to listen to one. So Ira Glass (of Serial and This American Life fame) went on The Tonight Show to explain podcasting to the masses (and also had his 85-year-old neighbor explain how to podcast — see video below). Nowadays, there is a podcast for everyone, and almost everyone knows how to find and listen to them.

05 Nov 16:19

25 common American customs that are considered offensive in other countries

by Sophie-Claire Hoeller

laughing women cornish

You might have learned a few local phrases, stashed your ball cap, and congratulated yourself on not sticking out like a sore thumb abroad.

But culture goes deeper, and there are a number of customs and gestures that Americans use without thinking twice. When traveling, these customs will not only out you as a tourist, but could get you in hot water in other countries. 

Inspired by this Quora thread, we’ve rounded up some of the most common things Americans do that are seen as offensive elsewhere.


1. Tipping

tipping check bill tip

A contentious issue even here, both over- and undertipping can quickly make you the least popular person at the table. But in Japan and South Korea, tipping is seen as an insult. In those countries, workers feel they are getting paid to do their job, and take pride in doing it well; they don't need an added incentive.

2. Sitting in the back of a cab

While it's customary for Americans to hop into the back of a cab, in Australia, New Zealand, parts of Ireland, Scotland, and the Netherlands, it's considered rude not to ride shotgun. Whereas cabbies in the US will sigh and reluctantly move their newspapers and lunches from the front seat, in other countries it's a matter of egalitarianism.

3. Throwing a thumbs-up

In a lot of countries, especially in the Middle East, Latin America, Western Africa, Russia, and Greece, a thumbs-up basically has the same meaning as holding up a middle finger does for Americans.

4. Laughing with your mouth open

In Japan, laughter that exposes your pearly whites is considered horse-like and impolite — sort of like noisy, open-mouthed eating is considered rude to Americans.

5. Calling the USA "America"

american flagIn South America, claiming you're from America, rather than the United States, is seen as being politically incorrect, as it implies that only the US should be considered America, and that South America is unworthy of the title.

6. Being fashionably late

Americans often make appointments for "around x" or "x-ish." Being a few minutes late, or, as we even call it, "fashionably" late, is standard to Americans, but unacceptable in many other countries (like Germany) where leaving people waiting is taken as you thinking your time is more valuable than everyone else's.

7. Being on time

On the other hand, many Latin American cultures, notably Argentina, would consider it bad form if you showed up to a dinner party right on time, akin to someone arriving an hour early in America.

8. Having one hand in your pocket

This is considered arrogant in Turkey, as well as some Asian countries, like South Korea.

9. Using your left hand for anything

Not all cultures have or use toilet paper, and tend to use their left hand in lieu of it. Accepting gifts, eating, or doing pretty much anything with your left hand in much of Africa, India, Sri Lanka and the Middle East is like a (disgusting) slap in the face.

10. Opening a present immediately

Wrapping gifts presents

In most Asian countries, most notably China and India, tearing into a gift in front of the gift giver is poor form. It looks greedy.

11. Wearing sweatpants, flip flops, wrinkly clothing, or baseball caps in public

Sure "athleisure" (stylish sportswear worn outside of the gym) is a hot new trend stateside, but in most countries, notably Japan and most of Europe, this sort of sloppy appearance is considered disrespectful.

12. Altering your meal

In foodie cultures like France, Italy, Spain, and Japan, asking for ketchup, hot sauce, soy sauce, or salt to alter your meal may raise some eyebrows. Before you ask for a condiment, see if there are any on the tables — if not, you should probably refrain.

13. Showing the soles of your feet

In many Arab, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist countries, showing the soles of your feet is a sign of disrespect, as they're considered the lowest and dirtiest part of the body, since they touch the dirty ground. Men should cross their legs with caution.

14. Keeping your shoes on

While you probably think you're doing the world a favor by keeping your socks under wraps, in most Asian and Caribbean cultures it is expected that you take your shoes off when entering someone’s home.

15. Drinking someone else's alcohol

party drunk binge drinking alcohol shotsApparently, it's rude to drink alcohol you didn't personally bring to a party in Norway. In the US, on the other hand, bringing a six pack of beer to a BBQ allows you access to anything else at the event.

16. Men showing some skin

It's rare to see topless men in South Korea, where men even keep their shirts on at the beach.

17. Eating anywhere that doesn't serve food

In Rwanda and Japan, it is considered rude to eat anywhere that isn't a restaurant, bar, or hotel. Eating a banana on the bus? Ice cream outside? All no-nos.

18. Telling people to help themselves

While you think you're being a host extraordinaire by opening up your home to someone and essentially telling them to feel right at home, in some cultures (like in Asia) this hands-off approach is uncomfortable. To them, hosting guests is a little more involved.

19. Touching

Americans are notoriously friendly, but hugging and touching others, even if only on the arm, is offensive in places like China, Thailand, Korea, and the Middle East. Respect that personal space varies from country to country.

20. Keeping your clothes on in saunas and steam rooms

SaunaWhile not offensive per se, people from Scandinavian countries and Turkey will think you're prude if you keep your clothes on in saunas, spas, and steam rooms.

21. Asking certain questions

Asking "what do you do" is a common American icebreaker, but is often considered insulting, especially in countries with social-welfare systems, like the Netherlands, where people feel that it's a way of pigeonholing them, and of being classist. You might as well just ask someone you just met what their salary is.

22. Refusing food

Americans often refuse food to make it easier for their hosts, but in most Arab countries, like Lebanon, it is considered incredibly rude to reject anything offered, especially food.

23. Not declining gifts

Americans are quick to accept gifts, favors, and invitations, and often without offering something in return. However, many cultures (like in Japan) expect you to decline things a few times before ultimately accepting them. In China, you're even expected to refuse a gift three times before accepting it.

24. Polishing off your meal

To Americans, finishing a meal shows the host how much they enjoyed the meal. In other countries, like China, the Philippines, Thailand, and Russia, it signifies that you're still hungry and that they failed to provide you with enough food.

25. Blowing Your Nose

In countries like China, France, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, blowing your nose in public is not only rude, but considered repulsive.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: 8 travel hacks even frequent fliers don't know

05 Nov 16:18

23 Collaboration Tools Used by the World’s Most Efficient Teams & Creatives

by Benjamin Brandall

You’ve got 975 unread emails…

…Your vital files live locally on random team members’ computers

Your team tell you they never saw the task they were assigned, and you have no way to track their progress.

This sounds like a true nightmare, right? Well, the thing is, it’s a reality for many businesses.

By using these collaboration tools for your business, you can improve your team’s communication, stop losing tasks, and make sure everyone’s accountable for getting work done.

Here’s the categories I’m going to look at:

  • Projects
  • Development
  • Chat
  • Cloud Storage
  • Design
  • Social
  • Spreadsheets
  • Tasks
  • Video
  • Writing

Let’s get into it.

Collaborative project management tools

For decades, teams have tracked projects with whiteboards, email, and scraps of sticky notes that end up who-knows-where.

Now, you can use project management tools to store tasks, assign responsibility, and track the progress of a project. Here are three tools of different kinds you should check out:



Trello is a kanban project management app that mainly works with lists and cards. Every task or resource is its own card, and you can organize them into lists depending on the status (backlog, in progress, done, etc.)

Trello supports integrations with Google Drive, Slack, and over 500 other apps, which makes it easy to use alongside your current set up.

At Process Street, we have a board for every team member, reviewed in meetings by a manger, and a board for every project — e.g. blog posts, guest posting, email marketing.

Premium pricing starts at: $9.99/user/month.



Basecamp is a complete project management suite including file upload, discussions, to-do lists, text documents, calendar events, and even chat.

At Process Street, we used Basecamp to organize graphics creation with Koombea, a design agency. We collaborated over mockups and logo ideas, and Basecamp’s interface made everything easy for the entire team involved to monitor for updates.

Premium pricing starts at: $99/organization/month



BeeCanvas is a collaborative whiteboard for drafting out projects, sketching designs, and housing resources from all around the web. It includes native functionality for Google Drive, Dropbox, and YouTube embeds.

I use BeeCanvas for planning side-project content, and filling boards with relevant content to be later organized when I come to write it up.

Premium pricing starts at: free (premium TBA).

Collaborative tools for developers

Whether it’s pair programming or bug tracking, developers need friction-free environments to collaborate in that allow for enough depth to track the code.

In this section, I’m going to look at Cloud9 and JIRA.



Cloud9 is a collaborative IDE. Think of it like Google Docs for code, where multiple developers can work on the same file and see each other’s edits in real time.

It supports code suggestions, debugging, VIM mode and a fully customizable UI. However you’re used to coding, you can replicate it with Cloud9.

Premium pricing starts at: $29/user/month.



JIRA is issue tracking software for development teams. That means anyone can create, prioritize and assign issues to the rest of the team. Issues can be bugs, features, or user stories. Once an issue is created, it can be assigned to a sprint and then allocated to developers, who leave comments and report on their progress.

At Process Street, we use JIRA as our only issue tracking app, and it contains all bugs, features, and user stories.

Premium pricing starts at: $10/10 users/month.

Collaboration tools for team chat

Instead of relying on email (a notoriously irritating time-suck), switch to a chat app designed for business. Some businesses have moved from email to a platform like Skype, but that still isn’t suitable for businesses who need to control group permissions, have public channels, upload files and control notification preferences.

Here are some tools that do that:



Slack probably doesn’t need much introduction. It’s been taking the enterprise communication world by storm since 2014. For the uninitiated, Slack is a team chat app that features permissions, file uploads, code snippets, notification preferences and integrates with apps like Trello so you can get a direct activity feed into your channels.

At Process Street, we use Slack as our main method of communication. We have it linked up to Process Street, Trello, RSS, Twitter, and even Giphy for a bit of silly fun.

Premium pricing starts at: $8/user/month.



HipChat is Slack’s main competitor. It has most of the features I mentioned above, but also the benefit of being natively integrated with the rest of the Atlassian suite which includes Confluence, BitBucket, and JIRA.

Premium pricing starts at: $2/user/month.



Unlike Slack or HipChat, Fleep isn’t a dedicated chat app. It’s actually a tool for both external and internal communication. It uses email, but displays it in a chat interface so you can send and track emails to other companys and your team members from the same Slack-like interface.

Premium pricing starts at: $1/user/month.

Cloud storage tools for collaborating over shared files

You won’t get away with saving files locally any more. In fact, that’s been true for almost a decade now! Use cloud storage to centralize your files, keep everyone on the same page, and never lose any important documents again.



Dropbox includes unlimited storage, integrations with over 500 apps, and selective sync from local folders. This means you can create a ‘work’ folder on your computer, and save things locally while automatically syncing them to your Dropbox, retaining the same folder structure.

Premium pricing starts at: $10/user/month.

Google Drive


If your team uses Google Docs, Google Sheets, or other Google products, Drive is an ideal solution. You can use Google’s suite of online document editing and creation apps right inside Drive, negating the need to transfer files between storage.

The marketing team at Process Street uses Google Drive to share spreadsheets, image assets and research documents.

Premium pricing starts at: $1.99/user/month.

Collaborative design tools

Design can be a tough thing to nail down, and often needs a ton of iterations. To avoid problems like endless email chains with files titled ‘finalfinalfinal.psd’ attached, just used a tool that helps you store revisions, comment on designs and get a better idea of what your team’s progress is.



InVision lets you upload designs, get feedback, then iterate on them. It supports comments, @mentions, and even a live mock-up mode to simulate web designs. It integrates with over 500+ apps via Zapier, and has a native integration with SVG-editing tool Sketch.

It isn’t only prototyping though…

InVision also supports a design project management layer on top, meaning it’s not just for managing single designs, but multiple projects at once. It’s perfect for a design agency working with clients, or a design team getting approval from managers.

Premium pricing starts at: $5/prototype/month.



You can think of RedPen as a light version of InVision. It has projects, design annotation and collaborative elements, but no workflow/project management tools included. Also, unlike InVision, it has no integrations.

Premium pricing starts at: $4/project/month.

Collaboration tools to create a social network for your company

Everyone’s used to Facebook, so why not bring that transparency and interactivity to work? With these tools, you can set up an intranet that isn’t just a bulletin board for news from managers, but a platform where everyone can interact.



Yammer takes the simplicity of the social media we all know and uses it to help companies create an enterprise social network.

With chat, a news feed, private groups and announcements, it really is like a private, company version of Facebook you can use to store documents, give praise, take polls, and share news about the company without relying on a traditional intranet platform.

Process Street has a direct integration with Yammer, meaning all checklist activity can be displayed in the news feed, and you can use your Yammer organization to create a Process Street account.

Premium pricing starts at: $3/user/month.



Communifire is another social network platform like Yammer, with a focus on sharing and aggregating relevant industry content, and feeding content from the company blog into a social space.

It functions like a mix between Yammer and Sharepoint, including document management, company wikis, and a deep search.

Premium pricing starts at: $10/user/month.

Collaborative spreadsheet tools

The ability to quickly share spreadsheets and edit them collaboratively is extremely valuable, especially when the alternative is storing tons of versions on a local machine.

Depending on the size of the data set, your best bets are either Google Sheets or Airtable:

Google Sheets


Fully integrated with Google Drive, spreadsheets made in Sheets are ridiculously easy to share and collaborate over. While it’s missing a few of the important features for Excel power users, you’ll be able to do 95% of what you expect just by using Sheets.

For massive data sets, complex formulas or Microsoft-specific add ons, you’re better off with Excel which now has a cloud-based collaborative version, Excel Online.

Premium pricing starts at: free.



Airtable isn’t just a spreadsheet tool (although you can use it exactly like one) — it’s a relational database. That means you can set up multiple ‘spreadsheets’, and link the cells between them.

If, for example, you wanted to create a database of emails, you’d have one spreadsheet that contains the emails, one with the sender’s names, and then link the records to auto-populate other columns and manipulate the data more effectively.

At Process Street, we manage everything in Airtable. All research projects, all content assets, all podcast planning.

Premium pricing starts at: $12/user/month.

Collaborative task list tools

Sometimes project management isn’t enough. You might need to use a task or workflow management tool to break down the action items, assign them to your team, and track progress. The two tools below will help you manage your recurring tasks, but in drastically different ways.



Todoist is a task management app that works as well with teams as it does for personal tasks. I have two folders inside the app, one for work that contains projects related to writing, editing, etc (see above), and one for personal lists, such as shopping and ‘to watch’ lists.

When used with teams, it’s possible to assign tasks to individuals, send notifications and set due dates. It also integrates with over 500 apps via Zapier, so it’s easy to push tasks from other apps into Todoist where they can be prioritized and scheduled.

Premium pricing starts at: $3/user/month.

Process Street


Process Street isn’t a straight-up task manager, but it is for managing recurring processes.

  1. Create a recurring task list
  2. Run a checklist every time the process needs executing
  3. Assign the checklist to your team
  4. Track the progress from your dashboard

Trigger checklists from over 500 apps with our Zapier integration, and make your team accountable with checklists that explain tasks perfectly.

Premium pricing starts at: $12.50/user/month.

Collaborative tools for video

Whether you just need a quick video call to hash out the details, or to explain something with a screenshare, collaborative video is a must for remote teams.

At Process Street, we’re a fully remote team so have had a lot of experience making working at a distance possible.


The fastest, easiest platform for video calls you’ll ever use. requires no log in, no signup, no actual ‘calling’ is necessary at all. Just claim a URL for your company, and then give the URL to anyone you want to call with. When you’re both on the page, you’re in a video call. That’s that.

Premium pricing starts at: free (premium TBA).



Screenhero is a screensharing tool that lives inside Slack. That means with just one chat command (/hero @username), you can start screensharing with anyone in your Slack channel.

After being acquired by Slack, Screenhero is undergoing an overhaul of its pricing plans and will be accepting new users soon. For existing paid Slack users, though, you’ll get it for free.

Premium pricing starts at: free for paid Slack users (premium TBA).

Collaboration tools for writing teams

Writing teams will consist of writers and editors, and pieces undergo multiple approvals before they’re ready to go. That’s the reason why you’re not going to get away with Word, or writing it up in WordPress directly. You need to be working with a collaborative editor that has versioning, comments, and edit history. Check these out:



If your team likes to write in markdown, Beegit is ideal. It’s a document management and creation app for teams that supports comments, edit tracking, projects and permissions. The major difference between this an other apps on the list is that it’s a markdown editor. Markdown is a quick and easy way to format text without HTML.

Premium pricing starts at: $7.90/user/month.



The range of powerful features aside, Quip is a beautiful writing app that makes typing and formatting articles a joy.

It’s easy for teams to keep up to date with each other’s activity because the main screen of the app is an ‘inbox’ style feed of recent events: document creation, comments, edits, etc.

At Process Street, we always collaborate inside Quip before moving it into WordPress. And, when the time comes, it’s easy to move things over because of Quip’s clean HTML export.

Premium pricing starts at: $6/user/month.

Dropbox Paper


Instead of singing Google Docs’ praises (because everyone already knows), I’m going to highlight a lesser known yet just as capable app — Dropbox Paper. For those who opt to use Dropbox over Google Drive, Paper is ideal. Created documents live next to your stored files, and it allows you to easily embed Dropbox files inside the documents, too.

Teams can collaborate with edits and comments, all of which is tracked by the app.

Premium pricing starts at: free.


The tools you use to collaborate with your team are just as important as the attitude you have. Take a remote first approach to work, and it’ll make it easier to collaborate, centralize data, and scale your business.

Any more recommendations? Let me know in the comments. 🙂

05 Nov 16:18

7 Reasons Your Appliance Repairman Is a Better Salesperson Than You

by (Brad Smith)


Recently, our washing machine stopped working. A month ago, our refrigerator broke. A month before that, our garage door was having problems. And a month before that, our dishwasher door went out of commission too.

Needless to say, more than a few appliance people have walked through my doors lately.

And only this last time did it click … all these repairmen are better salespeople than I am.

Here’s are seven reasons why -- and lessons we can all learn.

1) They get prospects to work on their schedule.

The washing machine won’t drain. The dishwasher door stops latching properly.

Things breaks, and you do what any rational person does: You procrastinate as long as possible. (Or until your significant other gives you the look.)

If, like me, you’re only handy with a credit card, you call some repair shops.

Our washing machine stopped working a day or two before a three-day weekend. The appliance company I reached out to was slammed and wouldn’t be able to get to it until next week sometime. If you've ever had something break before a long weekend, you've probably heard the same thing.

Already, you’re being managed. Before you've even agreed to work with the appliance shop, they’re managing your expectations and forcing you, the customer, to implicitly agree to their available window of time.

Takeaway: Manage Expectations From the Get-Go

Managing expectations is an ongoing battle. But winning the first battle is critical to making sure your prospect goes along with your processes and procedures -- which will cut down on future hassles and speed up your ability to deliver a good finished product.

And it all starts with those tiny interactions, those first encounters, like scheduling. Get the prospect in the mindset of working with your process by using a tool like the Meetings app in HubSpot Sales to get your prospect to book time on your calendar.


2) They charge an upfront deposit.

Pay attention, creatives: This point is for you.

Creative services, as a whole, suck at sales. If you're in the field, you probably do free work with the expectation that “ongoing work” or “referrals” will come your way (it almost never does).

Clients, who have about as much skill and experience in design as my pug Rudy, critique your pitch as if they’re Impressionist masters.

Now let’s contrast that initial sales process with an appliance repairman's.

“We’d love to come out on this date and this time,” they tell you. Then, they inform you of an upfront deposit -- just to get them to come out to your house.

And this deposit only covers a diagnosis. If they find and fix the problem, you can apply the full amount to your total payment due at the end.

But still, they won’t even lift a finger until you pay a deposit. Don’t like it? No soup for you!

Takeaway: Say "No" to Spec Work

No other industry does free spec work on the promise of a future, ongoing relationship.

While RFPs are (sometimes, but rarely) tolerable to a certain degree, going overboard on free mockups, wireframes, or ‘test’ campaigns only devalues your future services and further erodes pricing margins in the long run.

3) They always start with a diagnostic.

Asking for someone’s budget is a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, it helps you come up with different possible solutions to their problem.

On the other, the number you're told is usually completely arbitrary. A department’s share of profit, or what the competition has quoted them, is not a good indicator of value.

Case in point: Development.

A client’s application has bugs. They want to get rid of them. They say they have a budget of $XXX.

Sounds great -- so you invoice and get started. And it is great, until your developers get into the code of the website and recoil in horror.

The back end is a mess. Nothing works the way it's supposed to. And your new client doesn’t understand why it’s taking twice as long (or going to cost twice as much) to fix these issues as you originally predicted.

The only real way to prevent getting yourself and your client into a similar scenario is to diagnose these problems upfront.

But if you don’t charge for this diagnostic work, it’s almost always rushed, haphazard, or skipped in order to hit that arbitrary deadline you’ve been given.

Contrast that behavior with the appliance repairman, who makes no. The only thing they’ll be able to do when they come to your home for that first visit is diagnose the problem. That’s it.

Takeaway: Always Diagnose Before Prescribing

Only after understanding the full extent of the problem can you begin to prescribe the solution.

“How long will this application take to fix?”

The answer’s not “Three weeks.” The answer is, “That depends on what we discover.” Discover, then go from there.

4) They sell convenience.

Only after I adhered to their schedule, paid an upfront deposit, and went through a diagnostic was the appliance repairman ready to make an official ruling.

The motor was worn out. He also just so happened to have said part on hand and could fix it immediately.

“You mean it can be fixed in a few minutes, before my wife gets home, and I’ll look like a hero?" I asked. "Where do I sign?”

Value-based pricing sounds nice in theory. But what holds people back from effectively selling value is a lack of understanding what you’re selling.

Takeaway: Sell Value, Not Commoditized Widgets

How do you go from charging $2,000 for a website (or any other product) to $50,000 or even $100,000?

You sell a solution. Not a feature, a design, or a few lines of code.

You listen intently to what your prospect is struggling with -- using website design as an example, usually something related to business objectives like increasing revenue or cutting costs -- and you deliver a solution that makes or saves the company a lot more than it costs. And this lesson applies whether you're selling a project, a service, or a product.

In the example analysis below, the salesperson has clearly broken out three different scenarios and calculated the monthly revenue increase the customer can expect to see as a result of each.


Source: Brad Smith

5) They are transparent about pricing.

Chances are, your clients have no idea what you’re doing for them.

They kind of get it from a high-level perspective.

But they don’t understand it from an in-the-weeds point of view. Even if they think they know all about SEO for example, they have no idea how challenging and time-consuming it is to tackle canonicalization problems on a large site with international visitors.

During the initial sales process then, you’re selling the invisible. A bunch of intangibles that are hard to grasp and understand.

Google “SEO services” and you’re bound to find someone who’ll guarantee a #1 ranking in one month for only $500.

There's no way a client call tell the difference between that lunatic and you?

One thing jumps out … the price you’re both charging. Which makes it a race to the bottom.

Takeaway: Clearly Show How Price Relates to Value

That several-thousand-dollar proposal you emailed over will sound like it was pulled out of thin air to a client. An appliance repairman gives you a detailed pricing breakdown, with the upfront price (Read: Cash, not NET60) easy to see and understand -- even for a layperson like me.


Source: Brad Smith

6) They build profits into their price.

Tell me if this sounds familiar.

You’re trying to lock up a new project, so you send a message to a member of your team to give you an hourly estimate for this work so you can apply your rate and send over a quote to the client by end of day.

He tells you, 200 hours. So you multiply that by your project rate of $100/hour, hit "Enter," and throw it on a proposal.

Here’s the problem. This number doesn't take into account project management, time to meet with the client, implementation time, and so forth. It's also not taking into account all of the tools and software it takes to complete a successful implementation.

Takeaway: Charge What You’re Really Worth

Remember that overhead, labor, and profit are supposed to be accounted for in your hourly rate or product price. So don't immediately fold on a discount or reduce your hourly rate just to win the business.

My appliance repairman charged $200 for less than one hour worth of work.

Remember that the next time a client tells you $100 an hour “sounds too high.”

7) They seed their next appointment.

The only thing you can count on with appliances is that they’ll break. Probably sooner rather than later. So what happens the next time?

You start Googling local keyphrases. You read blog posts about the problem. You go to Yelp.

This, my friends, is the purchasing occasion. It’s the moment that motivates someone enough to pick up the phone.

Reverse-engineer the steps people take to find you to determine where you should start promoting, marketing, and prospecting for more customers. Then coordinate your own sales efforts to match up with those activities.

Take appliances as an example. Those companies place a sticker in the upper right-hand corner of your appliance that reminds you who to call each and every time you use the thing.


Source: Brad Smith

Takeaway: Perform Simple Actions to Generate Repeat Purchases

A timely notification or update like the one below is an example of an in-product reminder that prospects should upgrade or buy something new.


Source: Brad Smith

Keep yourself top-of-mind with reminders, check-ins, and continuing pieces of information that add value to your prospect's life.

Smart people tend to over-intellectualize things. We memorize all the closing techniques. We study all the tips, tactics, tools, and hacks we can find.

But at the end of the day, some of the best sales lessons are sitting right in front of us in plain sight.

They’re being practiced and delivered by professionals: People who have been in the game and around the block more times than we can count.

When you watch what they’re doing, notice that it’s not overly complex or sophisticated. It’s basic. The simpler, the better. They’re executing a well-worn process with confidence.

HubSpot CRM

05 Nov 16:18

Chief Sales Officer, Chief Revenue Officer or Chief Customer Officer. Which Title And Skill Set Will Best Serve Your Sales Organization?

by Doug Dvorak

If you are like many companies, you want to employ the right people for the job. However, there are many titles and positions out there, making it harder to figure out which one you need and which skill set will best serve your sales organization. Therefore, you should consider the differences between a chief sales officer (CSO), Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) or a Chief Customer Officer (CCO). Each of these titles is different and will provide you with a different set of skills.


A CSO or a sales director is one of the highest managers in the organization. They are responsible for marketing and sales. They deal with marketing, sales of products/services, customer relationship management and decide how to best align the company’s objectives with customer needs. Their primary responsibility is to sell services and goods and also plan how to best sell those goods/services. They work together with the CEO to set product portfolios and strategies and work to balance the organization’s needs with the customer’s. They may also determine the best channels to use and how to maintain strategic relationships with clients.


The CRO is an executive officer responsible for the processes relating to revenue generation in the organization. They are tasked with integration and alignment of all revenue-related tasks, which can include customer support, pricing, sales, marketing and revenue management.

They will work with your company’s executive team to communicate and create the company vision and then use that vision as part of their long-term strategy for creating new opportunities and markets.


The CCO is a newer title that has recently gained popularity over the past decade. They usually focus on customer retention, acquisitions, service, and relationships. They must figure out how to keep current customers, as well as how to get new ones and implement activities that will keep them happy. They can then help salespeople and others in the company understand what to do and how to do it.

In many cases, the Chief Customer Officer will also be a CRO or a CSO, especially in smaller companies. If you’re wondering which one you need, you likely need all three. If you want sales to grow, you’ll need someone to understand customers, someone who knows how to generate revenue and someone who knows how to get more sales.

05 Nov 16:17

Technology in Sales Training: Breaking Down Barriers

by Mark Bashrum

A recent study conducted by ATD Research, evaluating the state of sales around the world, highlighted scheduling conflicts and time restraints as one of the top barriers to effective sales training. The study quoted similar findings from a 2014 Brainshark survey, which cited distractions in the classroom and a lack of post-training reinforcement as challenges that organizations investing in sales training should address.

By 2020, nearly half of the U.S. workforce will be made up of digital native millennials, who switch their attention across media types an average of 27 times per hour. While millennials in the workplace are often cited as being majorly impacted by tech behaviors, the reality is that we all now interact with devices we didn’t have ten years ago. We all belong to the digital tribe — we are all busier, more distracted, and harder to pin down.

Role of Technology in Sales Training

Traditionally, sales organizations have focused their training budget on high-value learning interactions for core sellers, such as role playing, coaching, and problem solving. But in this new, integrated world, the key is to accommodate all learning styles and deliver a consistent and effective experience that fits seamlessly into a workday.

Technology plays a significant role in making this real by creating highly personalized learning experiences. For instance, mobile, on-the-go content puts users in control of when and where they engage with lessons; gamification maintains engagement and creates accountability; and video-based scenarios create relatable moments that can be tried out in the classroom.

Practical Solutions for Exceptional Training Outcomes

At the end of the day, effective learning means practical learning. More often than not, a blended approach is the best solution for sales organizations because it combines the best of online and in-class learning. At Richardson, we believe that blended learning is about focus. We’ve developed a truly blended learning platform that adapts to users.

Accelerate uses online videos, games, and activities to teach learners essential models and concepts before they step into the classroom. Learners can do this at their own pace, on their own time, and on their own devices. Online learning opens the door for highly personalized instruction and higher-order learning activities in the classroom. This is a learner-centered approach, where class time is used to explore and practice behaviors in greater depth, creating more meaningful learning outcomes.

Sales Training Technology Improves Measurement

When it comes to training, technology is often viewed as a driver of engagement, but one of its most powerful contributions to development is its ability to benchmark, measure, and adapt to a learner’s progress. For example, we designed Accelerate to empower managers and coaches with learner-level analytics that tell an objective story and promote learning interventions where and when they are needed. Baseline assessments benchmark starting points and prepare sellers for learning. After each lesson, learners are reassessed to show exactly how far they have come and where they may need to put in more time.

Given the ubiquity of accessible technology, learner-focused platforms that deliver “anytime, anywhere” content are poised to become the norm to help sales organizations take on the biggest challenges facing their training programs. Early adopters of platforms like Accelerate will have an edge when it comes to driving consistency across their organizations, even as sales environments continue to shift in complexity.

Click here to download more information about Richardson’s online sales training solution, Richardson AccelerateTM or contact us at or 1-800-526-1650 to learn more!

Download Information on Accelerate - Richardson's Technology in Sales Training Solution

The post Technology in Sales Training: Breaking Down Barriers appeared first on Richardson Sales Training and Enablement Blog.

05 Nov 16:16

How to Build a Sales-Accelerating Product Qualified Lead Engine

by Elle Morgan

Throughout the last decade, the explosion of the freemium model – a combination of “free” and “premium” – for cloud-based software has had a profound impact on the way B2B companies identify and convert customers.

In the freemium model, users gain access to basic product features with the ability to upgrade to a paid subscription after exceeding a quota or requiring additional functionality. This ‘try before you buy’ strategy has given birth to some of the most successful SaaS companies on the market today – think Slack, Mailchimp, Wistia, and Box. Yet, where some built an empire, others collapsed under the pressure – attempting to grow a user base as quickly as possible to prove product-market-fit while losing sight of who they’re building for and why.

Despite the moaning and wailing, proclaiming the death of the freemium model, we’re here to tell you that it’s not going anywhere. Instead it’s evolving, and we have data to thank for that. The companies that prove the value of freemium are harnessing their vast data-sets to pioneer a new piece of the sales funnel that reduces waste, boosts efficiency and converts leads at around 50 percent – the Product Qualified Lead (PQL).

Step One: Flipping the Antiquated Lead Funnel

If you’ve ever worked in sales or marketing at a B2B company, you’re probably familiar with lead qualification terminologies such as Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) and Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL). As new leads enter the system, they travel through the funnel by matching defined marketing engagement criteria until the visitor eventually becomes a customer or is identified as unqualified.

Traditional B2B Lead Funnel

Glancing at this funnel, it looks simple and makes seamless, right? Prospects hear about you through a source or campaign, find your website and complete and lead form, eventually becoming a happy, loyal customer. The problem is that the reality of today’s customer journey often directly contradicts this beloved and strictly adhered to funnel.

According to Gartner Group, “80 percent of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers.” This means that while your team may be focused on driving leads in the top – what they really should be focused on is opportunities at the bottom.

There are crucial touch points that occur throughout the buying journey that are missed in the traditional funnel. But, the engagement that occurs after a user has started to test your product is even more crucial. Here’s an example of a buyer’s journey taking place every day here at Woopra that challenges this antiquated model:

Woopra PQL

Following the traditional lead flow, the sales team might get notified if a new user creates an account or completes a form. But, with freemium models bringing in thousands of new accounts a day, where do you focus your efforts?

By monitoring Jane’s in-app engagement data, we know that she deserves a phone call or placement in a targeted drip campaign. We can see her path from the moment she became aware of Woopra and know that she’s been actively using our product. Jane is a product qualified lead. She’s already immersed in our tool and has a high likelihood of becoming a paying customer.

Tom Wentworth, CMO at RapidMiner explains that in a PQL, “users qualify themselves by using the product and inside sales exists to support them through the journey and set the stage for a long-term relationship with the customer.” In that light, here’s a more accurate representation of a lead funnel that integrates a PQL engine:

Freemium B2B Lead Funnel

The traditional funnel is flipped 180 degrees – starting instead with product adoption. Time and energy is invested in those leads that have raised their hands, are happily engaging with the product and qualify for a more robust offering. Here, the buying process is no longer linear with prospects coming in at the top and moving out the bottom. Instead, they go through an ongoing set of touchpoints before, during and after purchase.

Jonathan Becher, CMO at SAP, said it best in this piece by the Harvard Business Review, “the pivot is the experience, not the purchase.” And, for a company operating on a ‘try before you buy’ model, this experience is what will determine the success or failure of your company.

Step Two: Defining the Composition of Your PQL

Each company will define PQL differently because of the unique engagement metrics that make up your product. For example, at Woopra we look at the number of events a user is tracking – combined with proprietary lead scoring technology that measures corporate fit, demographic data and more to enhance qualification.

“The best definitions of PQL are informed by conversion correlation data, eg the behaviors trigger customers to convert paid,” writes Tomasz Tunguz, Venture Capitalist at Redpoint.

Whatever your definition, it should be clearly spelled out within the entire organization, remembering, that this definition should mature with time – just as your product evolves and changes. It’s no longer the sales or marketing teams that decide how to qualify a lead – now the product and engineering departments are heavily engrossed in this process and invested in the outcome.

Depending on the flavor of your freemium model, this defined set of criteria can be complemented by a lead scoring system. This accelerates the sales segmentation process by integrating user behavior that suggests upsell-readiness. According to MarketingSherpa, organizations that use lead scoring see a 77 percent lift in their lead generation ROI!

The caveat to this PQL recipe is that the majority of today’s leading lead scoring technologies don’t take into account the right combination of data points within a single platform. For example, Marketo can calculate a lead score based on activity such as web page visits, downloads, email opens and offer responses. Once a user identifies demographic information in a lead form (such as revenue, job title, industry), this information is combined to deliver a score that indicates a user’s propensity to purchase and is qualified as a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL).

If you try to map these data points to the freemium lead funnel we outlined above, you’ll quickly realize that these “lead score” indicators are lacking the vital data points used in a PQL model. The most imperative of these being – product engagement. To get this recipe right, the PQL must be enriched by a combination of engagement, behavioral and demographic data.

Distinctly identifying the composition of your PQL, how it will be measured and the corresponding data points will catapult your ability to develop a seamless and self-funding PQL engine.

Step Three: PQL + Revenue= Team Alignment

Tying PQL to a revenue target will reveal an unparalleled level of team alignment. With cross-selling, up-selling and messaging being dependent upon feature engagement – all teams are equally vested in the success of the product. This is the next evolution of lead qualification. Integrating marketing, sales and product data to enable data-driven decisions and goals based on company revenue targets.

“Typically, the product and engineering teams don’t have goals tied to revenue which bisects a team into revenue generating components (sales and marketing) and cost centers (eng and product),” writes Tomasz Tunguz. “PQLs pull product and engineering into the fray. Everyone in the company has the same goal.”

After identifying what a PQL looks like in your organization and how it will be measured, you’ll realize a heightened collaboration between departments to drive PQLs further into the adoption cycle. According to Forrester, “74 percent of businesses say they want to be data-driven, but only 29 percent say they’re good at connecting analytics to actions.”

The PQL model enables teams to monitor engagement with new features or changes and instantly tie those actions to realized ROI across the entire organization. Taking these fundamental steps will set you on a trajectory for joining the ranks of organizations that are thriving on a booming freemium model, fueled by the PQL.

05 Nov 16:16

4 Uncommon Ways to Nurture Leads With Personalization

by Rohan Ayyar


When someone lands on your blog and signs up for your email list, they’re said to have converted from your owned media.

But what about that funny piece you wrote on BuzzFeed, or that awesome Facebook post that came from a spontaneous idea?

How will you nurture leads from discovery to conversion when the content lies beyond the realm of your control?

The puzzle becomes especially difficult to crack when you are dealing with pricey B2B or SaaS products such as CRM, ERP, or subscription services, which frequently take months to consider and try out, let alone buy.

So how do you take control of content that lives outside your blog or website and present it at the right moment to customers who are at the appropriate points along your marketing funnel?

Where is the lag?

In an attempt to find widespread inefficiencies and insufficiencies in current web-based conversion practices by SaaS providers, I poked around the websites of a few ERP/CRM products and landed on Maximizer (disclaimer: random choice, no professional relationship).

Maximizer is an Enterprise CRM Software that’s apparently been using the most tried and tested methods of content marketing. From press releases to reviews, to webinars and case studies, they have been there and done that.

However, they need to take their conversion attempts a step further to leave a better imprint on people’s minds and convert leads to customers.

  • For starters, they are missing out on retargeting. I spent considerable time on their website, read a few blog posts. I even went through some of their press releases and reviews on third party sites. Despite that, I failed to see their ads after leaving their website.
  • A few minutes into their website, I started wondering why there’s no ubiquitous “Wanna chat?” pop-up or why they’ve managed a paltry 2 reviews on their Facebook page despite claiming to have over 120,000 customers. Whether the visitor is on your site or on your social media page, one on one conversations are extremely important to help them take the final leap to become customers.

Obviously, if you want your leads to convert after reading and interacting with your content, you need to do much more than Maximizer is doing.

There are dozens of tools, tactics and techniques out there that help you gain and keep the attention of your readers that bit longer. When each second is precious and when you are investing a significant amount of resources into producing content, there’s no way you can ignore these tools.

Here are 4 uncommon ways to nurture your leads with personalization and improve your “discovery to conversion” equation:

1. Personalize your content recommendations

Personalized and timely content recommendations are one of the most powerful ways to make your leads stay longer on your website and recall your brand at crucial times. Bloggers and large content publishers vouch by predictive recommendations for awareness, reach and engagement (as opposed to ads).

See how content recommendations work on Inc. They (and many other media publishers) show recent/popular articles on the right-hand side.

In addition, a small pop-up with a link to another article that piques your interest appears on the bottom right, as you scroll down and reach the bottom of the post. This pop-up works nicely to re-attract the reader’s attention, just as it is running out.

I’ve no doubt you’ve seen this in action somewhere – and fallen prey to it too!


Image Source: Inc

While these pop-ups work wonders to keep readers on your site, don’t forget that much of your content lives outside your own website or blog. And that may often include your best pieces.

If you are a regular contributor to a third party media site or blog, your only hope for leading readers from there to your own site is through a link within the article or from your byline, which is hoping against hope. Links aren’t as attention-grabbing as – and take up much less screen space than – a pop-up.

What you normally do to circumvent this problem is share your articles and posts on social media, which again are high on the “hope” factor that someone will re-share (and associate you with the content, in case they happen to remember you by the time you consume it).

The middle way out, which helps you associate your content as well as brand with content either created by others and shared by you, or created by you on platforms you don’t own, is to use a recommendation tool like Start A Fire, which helps you draw leads to your website from all the content you share or curate.

You can add up to 5 other links, which show up along with your face/logo, in the familiar pop-up box at the bottom right, when someone clicks through to the main link that you’ve shared.


This way, there is less chance they’ll forget you’re the one who shared the link in the first place and more chance they’ll click on the other links you’ve shared once they finish reading that particular post.

Here’s an old-fashioned before-after picture of how pop-up content recommendation work:


Whoever thought you could milk more out of links shared on social media, or pop-up boxes for that matter?

2. Amp up your retargeting on social media

It’s annoying.

It’s expensive.

It works.

Retargeting works on the principle of effective frequency, i.e. the exposure of your audience to your message must range between inadequate and wasteful. Thomas Smith, author of Successful Advertising, got it right way back in 1885.

If you want to create a leak-proof sales funnel, make sure your customers see your ads on all relevant sites, if they ever happen to leave your site without buying (or subscribing, or downloading).

Baremetrics used retargeting to acquire customers for as little as $6 on Facebook and $21 with banner ads. Nothing exceptional, you might think, until you realize that a single customer is worth $650 to them. That isn’t exceptional, that is phenomenal!

Baremetrics caters to startups and ecommerce companies, so it was natural for them to advertise on websites that offered startup advice, marketing tips, etc. That is a highly targeted approach considering Baremetrics is a SaaS-based analytics tool that focuses on revenue and customer growth metrics.

Crazy Egg has been doing something similar for a long time, but their approach is a bit different. What makes their retargeting campaign equally effective is that they follow you almost everywhere for a few days, and then for months on certain websites, until you are forced to consider their tool.


Image Source: Psychology Today

Now, both of the above examples apply to people who visit your website. What about targeting those folks who see your content but have never been to your website?

That’s where social network-specific retargeting comes to the rescue. For instance, Facebook remarketing ads allow you to define an audience based on their interaction with your content. So, if someone liked a page, post or video that you promoted, you can start serving them targeted ads the next time they get on Facebook.

Of course, you can target customers or visitors to your site or app by including them in a “Custom Audience” on Facebook. What’s more, even if someone hasn’t visited your page or website or seen your content, but share similar interests and characteristics, you can reach them on Facebook with the “Lookalike Audience” feature.


“Retargeting” can be taken to mean not only users who’ve engaged with your content, but any content in your industry. A friend started getting a tea company’s ads in her feed five minutes after she looked up a competitor:


While you can’t directly target all of your competitors’ fans on Facebook, you can target people who have “expressed an interest in or Liked a page related to” a specific business using the “Interests” field.

With a little bit of testing and tweaking, you can create an ideal retargeting campaign for any of your owned digital properties. You just need to understand your audience’s content taste and consumption habits to make your campaign a success. Repeated exposure will ensure your leads start converting.

Pro Tip: While you’re at it, also include social proof in the form of details of your current customers in your retargeting campaigns. Smiling faces of happy customers might just tilt the balance in your favor.

Grammarly’s remarketing campaign on Facebook shows you all your friends who like Grammarly on top of the ad, which itself has has over 1600 likes and 130 shares. Not bad at all for a subscription service provider!


3. Have more one-to-one conversations

When Facebook introduced page messaging for businesses, it opened many doors for one-to-one conversations. You can not only respond quickly to customers’ queries, but also earn badges like “Very responsive to messages” that speak volumes about your prompt services.

One-to-one conversations can be the fastest way to close deals, even better than emails.

Here’s another example from a friend’s conversation with a club and the transaction was finalized within 30 minutes. Needless to say, the chat below is not typical of a B2B conversations, but the idea is to show how being prompt on social media can work in your favor:


Don’t waste any time striking up a conversation with newly-discovered leads or those who’ve engaged with your brand on social media. Make it a point to introduce yourself and your company to new followers of your brand (even if it means using those annoying DMs):


If you’re a B2B enterprise or large organization aiming to personalize the experience for your leads and be everywhere (multiple digital platforms) at the same time, without having a sales team tuned in and listening with flashing beacons on their heads, you need to rely on a bit of automation.

And just like Start A Fire, there’s another “solution to a solution” tool that comes to the rescue, LiveAgent. This multichannel helpdesk and live chat tool allows you to connect with visitors in real time and get a head start in converting them to customers. It doubles up as a customer service agent by automatically scanning multiple email accounts and sorting emails into pre-defined departments.

LiveAgent not only works with your website and email provider, but also social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. It can monitor Facebook Messenger chats and convert wall messages into tickets, which can then be dealt with by your support team in the same way as email, chat or tweets.


Finally, LiveAgent integrates with popular CMS, CRM, ecommerce, collaboration and billing platforms. Crucial, considering your customers are already more than half-way through their purchase process before their first commercial interaction with a vendor, and over a quarter of your competition is getting back to them within five minutes.

The automation part? Your customer care team has help from chatbots that are able to answer common questions, pull up order details, and so on.

4. Give your influencers leeway

If you are using Fiverr or Famebit for your influencer campaigns, you can stop reading here; they’re going to do what they want anyway.

Businesses that aim to develop a long-term relationship with their influencers need to get them not just interested, but deeply involved in your product, so that they engage with your leads using any means they might have in their content marketing arsenal.

First, build trust with the influencers that you work with. Trusting them with your brand’s messaging, voice and personality is the best way to show that you respect them.

Treat them as creative partners and give them the liberty to take the campaign in the direction they want. You may give your final inputs in order to make sure your core offering isn’t misinterpreted, but make sure you don’t control the flow of the campaign too tightly.

A lot of influencers try different methods to keep their followers interested, and most of the time, intuitively know what’s best for their audience.

For instance, Emma from WhispersRed uses the ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Median Response) technique to unbox an online order of cosmetics. The video has heavy tapping, crinkles, lid tapping, glass tapping, and lots of whispering.

It might sound like mumbo jumbo to a typical audience, but has over 65,000 views and 120 comments to its credit. As a brand, you might not want to throw valuable marketing dollars at associating unproven therapies with your product, but believe it or not, just like your spouse, you never really know your customers.

In another example, Swanson Health Products, who sell vitamins and supplements, got “Chocolate Covered Katie” to share a chocolate cake recipe on their blog.


Image Source: Chocolate Covered Katie

Chocolate cake and health supplements make for an unlikely combination, but Swanson gets a lot of leverage by inviting guest bloggers to create content for them on linearly related topics.

So trust your influencers. They are experts in their field and have a lot of experience in what will work with their audience. Just give them the background on your brand and the context of the campaign along with some guidelines, and let them unleash their creative genius to create a post or video of their choice.

Crowdtap’s “State of Influencer Marketing” report found that 77 percent of influencers think creative freedom is the most important factor that encourages them to build up a long-term relationship with brands.


Image Source: Crowdtap

The trick is to keep the interaction going with your influencers on a regular basis, and keep increasing the value they get out of your product. SEMrush has been doing just that – with a broader audience as well as affiliates – for some time now. They proactively reach out to industry experts, bloggers, and the like, and give out free trials to their communities and readers too. I am one such lucky recipient of their Guru account.

What sort of results are they getting? Rishi Lakhani wrote an Ultimate Guide that’s probably more comprehensive than their own documentation. Affiliate Anil Agrawal not only wrote a long, “unbiased” review but also went ahead and convinced his readers to try SEMrush by comparing it favorably with competing offerings.


Image Source: Bloggers Passion

Pro tip: Allow your influencers to be fully transparent. For example, if a reviewer or affiliate is allowed to be forthcoming about special prices or offers, they have that extra “authority” needed to convince undecided customers.

Over to you

That’s it folks! I seriously hope you can figure out how variations of the best practices, methods and tools we discussed here work for you.

While we started with a lackluster example that showed us what isn’t enough to drive visitors towards conversions, there’s no doubt that retargeting, content recommendations, timely personal conversations, and win-win influencer partnerships are all really good ways to nurture those leads.

05 Nov 16:15

Why networking is a waste of time

by Brian de Haaff

job fair

There are 450 million active users on LinkedIn. And I swear half of them want to take me out for coffee. I get these requests on a regular basis and I always find it strange. Mostly because I do not know most of the senders. It is akin to a stranger on the street asking, "Hey, how about a quick latte?"

I do not want to be rude. But no, I am not interested in getting a latte to "get to know each other." And I am not interested in meeting just for the sake of meeting. I am sure that you are a terrific person, but I just do not have time. And neither do you actually.

This type of "empty networking" might feel productive at the moment you hit send. But it will ultimately leave you right where you started — no closer to making a connection or your real goals.

Anyone doing important work does not have time for endless glad-handing. That is because it rarely adds value. It is more about trying to find something to do than knowing exactly what you should be doing.

Of course, there is value in building a meaningful network of trusted colleagues and advisors. But when I am struggling with a particular issue, I rarely find the solution with someone who is more or less a stranger. I am more likely to turn to my established network — mentors, former colleagues, and the team at Aha! And if I need some expert advice that no one I know has, I look to these individuals to recommend people in their network to me. I then ask for a warm introduction.

Building a meaningful network is not about attending unstructured industry mixers or wracking up the most LinkedIn connections. It requires relationships — and those take hard work, dedication, and time.

These types of relationships are typically developed with people that have proven to be dependable. And it often takes years to forge those lasting bonds and fortify mutual trust. However, if you put in the effort to go deep — past random connections — you will find valuable people you already know who are anxious to help when you ask.

Here is how:

Be purpose-filled

When you need to ask for help, put some thought behind the ask. Requests should be clear, meaningful, and directed at the right person whom you know or a trusted connection knows. Sending a random request to a random person will likely get you ignored or marked as spam.

Abandon ego

You may think that you need to embellish achievements, couch requests, or act bullishly to build your network. How is that helping anyone? At Aha!, one of our key values is open, honest communication. We develop meaningful relationships as a result. Take this approach and you will naturally develop close connections.

Invest in colleagues

Too often we look outside our organization for growth when our greatest assets are the people we work with daily. Get to know your colleagues. Swap ideas, resources, and weekend stories. Prove to them that you are a hard worker. Over time, you will develop lasting bonds. So when you do need a favor some day, it will be an easy ask.

Act quickly

If you reach out to someone for help and they respond, get back to them right away. Do not schedule a lunch or coffee later — that only delays deepening the relationship. Or, if you are on the receiving end of a request that you cannot help with, quickly let the asker know so they can go elsewhere. Either way, they will appreciate your responsiveness and think of you in the future.


Look for useful ways to help the people you work with or who have helped you in the past. Could they benefit from an introduction or some transparent feedback? Maybe there is a new opportunity you can share? Remember that building a strong network goes both ways — you have to invest to get back.

I am sure I would enjoy meeting with you. You probably have a lot to bring to the conversation. But I can bet that we both have more productive things to do.

Do you think networking is still important for business?

SEE ALSO: A master networker shares his top 20 networking tips

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The story of Lisa Brennan-Jobs, the daughter Steve Jobs claimed wasn't his

05 Nov 16:14

6 Keys to Prospecting Emails That Get a Response

by Marc Wayshak

Have you been using emails to reach your prospects? If so, what sort of response have you seen? Chances are, many of your emails go unanswered. Business owners and CEOs are busy people with a steady stream of incoming emails. If you can’t engage them quickly, they’ll delete your before they even read what you have to say.

The majority of salespeople make the same prospecting email mistakes, so they never even reach their target customers. But don’t give up on prospecting emails just yet! When done right, email prospecting can actually be a successful way to reach high-level prospects. Next time you write a prospecting email, remember the following six keys to prospecting emails that get a response:

1. Make it personal.

If prospects think your email is a boilerplate message that’s been copied and pasted to dozens of recipients, it will be deleted in a matter of seconds. In order to engage prospects, make your message hyper-specific to their world. Show them you’ve done your homework. Demonstrate your expertise about them, their organization, and even some of the challenges they’re facing.

Watch this video to learn more about personalized sales emails:

2. Avoid promotional subject lines.

Most people today check their email on their smartphones—which means they’ll decide whether to open your message or delete it based on just your name, the subject line, and the first few words of your sales email. Sales-y subject lines are a surefire way get your emails deleted. Instead, try using a short line that mentions the prospect’s company name.

3. Keep it short.

What’s your actual goal in sending a prospecting email? It shouldn’t be to educate the recipient or to make a sale. Rather, you’re just looking to get a response and start a conversation. While long emails will be quickly deleted—no matter how engaging the content—an email of five sentences or fewer is likely to engage your prospect and elicit a response.

4. Offer value.

Most prospects believe salespeople are always looking to take from them—so stand out by being someone who gives value instead. Offer to send them something they’ll find useful, or provide helpful feedback on their company. Free assessments, relevant articles, e-books, and special reports are just a few examples of value-adding gifts you can offer to a prospect.

5. End with a hook.

Closing an email by saying, “Let me know if I can ever be helpful,” simply isn’t going to elicit a response. Never end your prospecting emails with a statement. Instead, close with an open-ended question that’s easy to answer. Try asking, “Did any of these challenges ring true to you?” or even “Where should I send my free assessment?” A simple question that quickly gets to the point is a great way to engage your prospect in a conversation.

6. Stop using formal language.

This is a personalized email—not a college essay. Omit buzzwords, fancy language, and “sirs” or “madams.” Instead, write the same way you talk. This will convey that you’re a real human being with something of value you’d like to share.

Which of these six keys did you find most helpful for writing prospecting emails that actually get a response? Share your thoughts in the comments below. For more useful tips on engaging prospects, check out this special report on three closing questions you must ask to close the sale.

05 Nov 16:13

How Can Manufacturers Successfully Leverage Social Media?

by Laura Cole

When it comes to marketing and leveraging the influence of social media, businesses are often inhibited by preconceptions and narrow thinking. One example is the notion that social media marketing is the sole preserve of B2C sectors, for example, which often deters inexperienced firms in B2B markets from embracing this unique and accessible channel.

In fact, social media marketing is something that can also serve as an impactful tool for businesses across a range of B2B sectors. This is particularly true in the manufacturing industry, where an estimated 85% of marketers cited content and social marketing drives as key drivers of sales in 2015.

Social platforms including LinkedIn and YouTube were also referenced as increasingly influential resources, particularly in relation to the effective sharing and distribution of content.

3 Ways in Which Manufacturers and Product Managers Can Harness Social Media

This is an encouraging trend, and one which suggests that the manufacturers and product managers that have leveraged social media have achieved positive and measurable results. This is something that less knowledgeable or experienced brands within the manufacturing sector can learn from, as they harness the reach and influence of social channels to drive sales and brand awareness.

With this in mind, here are three effective ways in which you can successfully leverage social media for the good of your brand: –

Make Facebook and LinkedIn the Focal Points of your Social Marketing Strategy

While all businesses should look to develop an integrated and tailored social profile (in order to effectively target customer segments), this is particularly important in the manufacturing sector. Whether you produce your own products and sell directly to consumers or are hoping to engage B2B clients, you will need to choose a viable range of channels that provides a showcase for your ranges and markets them appropriately.

In terms of core elements, you need to integrate Facebook and LinkedIn at the heart of your social marketing strategy. Facebook offers you instant access to a user base in excess of one billion, so creating a company profile and using this to highlight products and innovations provides tremendous reach. This can be also be used to integrate alternative marketing tactics, primarily by sharing blog posts, details of product launches and any innovative promotional campaigns aimed at optimising sales conversions.

While Facebook offers you access to a huge, global audience, however, you will need to ensure that you deliver the most relevant and appealing content to engage individuals. This requires a core understanding of your client and consumer base and the reasons that they use the platform, with an estimated 49% of individuals claiming that they ‘like’ a Facebook page in order to support a particular brand.

For B2B manufacturers, LinkedIn is another powerful and effective platform. This site is far more stream-lined and professional in its nature than Facebook, which in turn offers access to potential partners and an entry point into long-term, client relationships. By registering a company page here, you can leverage LinkedIn’s blogging facility to share informative and insightful content that establishes your service as a thought leader.

This will improve your chances of forging mutually beneficial contacts and securing lucrative B2B orders in the future.

Embrace Video and Broadcast on YouTube

Of course, rich media plays a central role in any successful social and content marketing campaign, as diverse publications are far more likely to engage customers and clients alike. When targeting B2B clients, however, it is also important to note that video is far more impactful than still imagery and capable of driving 62% more engagement on average.

So while your B2B manufacturing outlet can still use imagery to drive social conversations (particularly when targeting female-orientated clients or markets through Pinterest), you should undoubtedly focus the majority of your attention on video marketing.

One of the best ways for manufacturers to capitalise on this trend is to broadcast on YouTube, as this platform currently boasts over one billion unique users and enables brands to establish their own, independent channels. This can then be used to share varied by impactful content, from product training videos and behind-the-scenes the scenes footage of the manufacturing process. This offers value and information to B2B clients, while helping to humanise your operation and cultivate a deeper relationship.

Both B2B and B2C manufacturers can also leverage video to share brand and product narratives, while also capturing compelling testimonials from former customers and clients.

Platforms such as YouTube are also powerful as they allow you to host content directly on the website and embed it on your own website, enhancing your own landing page loading times and the quality of the videos in question.

Empower Followers, Customers and Clients as Social Contributors

One of the biggest concerns that manufacturers about social media marketing is their ability to consistently produce engaging content. While this can be a particularly significant challenge for B2B brands, however, the conversational and interactive nature of social media actively enables manufacturers to empower their follows as key contributors of insight and content.

One of the best examples of this was in evidence recently, as food manufacturing brand Hampton Creek connected with followers through Twitter and encouraged them to share tricks for recycling and reusing empty jars. This is a direct and fun way of engaging followers, while subtly advertising products, sustainable manufacturing techniques and an overarching brand.

Twitter is central to this process, whether you are interacting with followers, gathering real-time insight or attempting to drive efficient, after-sales service. In fact, Twitter helped brands to re-imagine the nature of customer services, which went from being a costly and unyielding business element to a key marketing channel and ‘a scalable way’ to delight consumers.

Regardless of how you engage your customer or client base through social media and the Twitter platform, however, the key is to create real-time interaction and an organic channel through which to market your products. This will help to both generate fresh and exciting content for your social profile and optimise the ROI on your total marketing spend.

05 Nov 16:12

Fearless Selling in 2017 and Beyond

As 2016 winds down, sales and marketing teams around the world start to plan for their 2017 calendar year. It’s going to be an exciting year because buyers are firmly in charge of how they do business with your company and once you understand the ramifications for this fundamental shift, you can reach them with a sales strategy that will drive success. Be fearless in 2017 and align your sales effort to influence them throughout the process.

05 Nov 16:09

Android has captured a record-high share of the smartphone market (GOOG, GOOGL)

by BI Intelligence

Global Smartphone Shipments, By PlatformThis story was delivered to BI Intelligence Apps and Platforms Briefing subscribers. To learn more and subscribe, please click here.

The Android platform captured a record 88% of the 375 million new smartphones shipped worldwide in Q3 2016, according to a new report from Strategy Analytics.

Android’s growth in new smartphones was largely driven by greater smartphone adoption in India, Africa, and the Middle East, where Apple’s competing iOS platform has little market penetration.

Android’s market share growth will continue in the near term thanks to the device manufacturers that produce low-cost Android phones for these markets, Strategy Analytics predicted. Apple has yet to manufacture an iPhone at a price point that can draw mass appeal in these markets, and emerging platforms like Tizen don’t have enough support from device manufacturers and app developers to put a dent in Android’s share, the report explained.

However, the report noted that very few of the hundreds of smartphone manufacturers that leverage Android make any money, and Google’s new Pixel smartphone is set to compete with Android devices from other high-end manufacturers. In the long term, these factors could drive device manufacturers to give more serious consideration to some of the emerging platforms. As consumers in emerging markets gain more disposable income though, it could create more opportunities for low-cost manufacturers to sell more profitable Android devices in these markets, which would help cement Android’s dominance in these markets.

The global smartphone market is expected to slow considerably over the next few years. Despite a record-setting holiday quarter, 2015 was likely the last year of double-digit growth for smartphone shipments.

Mature markets were at the heart of this year’s deceleration. Adoption has reached new highs in key markets in the United States, Europe, and China. The pool of first-time buyers in these countries is shrinking rapidly, and sales are now primarily coming from phone upgrades.

Meanwhile, emerging markets will continue to see robust shipment growth. India and Indonesia, in particular, will help fuel a large share of the shipments growth within the global smartphone market over the next few years.

BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on smartphones by country that forecasts the market through 2021 to reflect slower, stabilizing growth in the long term.

Here are some key points from the report:

  • The global smartphone market is still growing at a steady pace due to more widespread adoption in emerging markets. We estimate the global market will hit about 2.1 billion units shipped in 2021.
  • Shipments growth over the past few years has been driven by the falling price of smartphones, which has made handsets more accessible in emerging markets. The average selling price of a smartphone in India nearly halved between 2010 and 2015.
  • With relatively low smartphone penetration, we forecast Indian smartphone shipments to grow rapidly over the next five years. Nevertheless, India has a long way to go before it surpasses China as the world’s leading market for smart handsets. India is estimated to account for roughly 10% of the global smartphone market in 2016, considerably less than China’s 30% share.
  • The global platform wars are over, even as smartphone adoption continues to rise across various markets worldwide. Android and iOS are estimated to account for 97.3% of global platform market share in 2015, compared to 96.3% last year.
  • Apple closed the year with another strong quarter on the back of its iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus launches. Still, the vendor saw a slight decline in YoY growth of its share of the market in the face of stiff competition from Samsung and Chinese vendors such as Huawei.

In full, the report:

  • Forecasts global smartphone shipments through 2021.
  • Explores why India is the next high-growth smartphone market.
  • Breaks down the global smartphone platform wars.
  • Discusses smartphone vendor performance market share.

To get your copy of this invaluable guide, choose one of these options:

  1. Subscribe to an ALL-ACCESS Membership with BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report AND over 100 other expertly researched deep-dive reports, subscriptions to all of our daily newsletters, and much more. >> START A MEMBERSHIP
  2. Purchase the report and download it immediately from our research store. >> BUY THE REPORT

The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you’ve given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of the smartphone market.

Join the conversation about this story »

05 Nov 16:08

A Quick Primer on B2B Conversion Optimization

by Alex Birkett

Conversion optimization is a little different if you’re in B2B.

Some of the same underlying principles apply, but because of the inherent differences in buying decisions and sales cycles, pulling B2C optimization practices straight from the book might be a bad idea.

You’ll still need to do the same types of conversion research, persona building, and experimentation that is common across conversion optimization, but let’s talk a bit about how and why B2B is different.

Note: this article is heavily based on our great course with Bill Leake, CEO of Apogee Results. It’s called Optimizing for B2B. Check it out at ConversionXL Institute.

Why is Optimizing for B2B Different?

There are a few things that make optimizing for B2B a different beast:

  • The sales cycle is usually longer
  • More people tend to be involved in buying decisions
  • It’s often a higher purchase price (or at least a more complex sale)

The above points are unique but all tie back to the fact that, in B2B, you’re more closely working with a sales team.

Sales teams cost money, and of course, they also deliver another layer of organizational complexity. So instead of simply increasing the volume of leads on a landing page, you’re suddenly also supposed to factor in quality of leads, lifetime value, sales productivity, etc.

So while many usability heuristics remain the same in B2B website design and functionality, much of what goes into lead gen, sales, and analysis is different.

Think about it this way: in B2B, sometimes optimizing means aiming for less leads. When would you ever try to produce less sales in B2C eCommerce? But because of the human costs of a sales team, it makes sense to optimize for quality in B2B.

Longer Sales Cycles and Micro-Conversions

In our ConversionXL Institute course, Bill Leake explained the differences between B2B and B2C sales cycles:

Bill Leake:
“The conversion that occurs on the website may be a very early conversion and may still be many, many months and sometimes years ahead of the sale. So, you have to approach it in a different way. It’s almost like, in some ways, the first date of something that’s leading into a relationship.

So, be thinking about the conversion experience, more as a process, rather than a one and done.

In B2B, it’s often far more complex in terms of the content marketing for conversion than B2C. In B2C, you might have thousands, if not tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of SKUs. So, you have lots and lots of products and that brings complexity.

But in B2B, you’re often dealing with fewer products, but you not only need to take into account the persona of the person coming to your website, but where they are in the customer journey.”

So while we talk about not optimizing for micro-conversions, in B2B it becomes more important, at least to account for them. In other words, you’ll answer questions like:

  • Where in the buyer journey is the person that downloads [X] whitepaper?
  • Do we get a higher lead value from those who fill out a form or those who contact sales?
  • What types of micro-conversions produce the highest lead values? To what points in the customer journey do they correspond?

What Are Your Goals, and What Are Your Metrics?

Since the sales process is more complex, there tend to be more people in the room for a purchasing decision. There are more conversations around buying.

When you want to buy a pair of jeans from Bonobos, you often don’t need much of a nudge. Sure, you still need to be reached with the right message at the right time, but the buyer journey is much less complicated than a complex B2B purchase.

It’s something that people deliberate upon. They ask and negotiate budgets for technology or corporate development.

But when they come to your site, they could be at any given stage:

  • They might be looking to buy.
  • They may have been a customer before.
  • They may be coming to research and see if it’s something they need.
  • They may have just stumbled across it accidentally.

In order to maximize the value of your website, you need to define goals for each of these stages and how you can track them across the purchasing journey.

Typically, the big goal is leads (can mean many things). But a lot goes into a good quality lead, and there are different stages of measurement. Generally, as a marketer, you’re focusing on compiling MQLs (marketing qualified leads). What this means depends on the company, but it can take into account different metrics like pathing, time on site, video engagement, company size, role, etc. So the process in B2B looks a bit like this (simplified):

Visitor → MQL → SQL → customer

For further reading on B2B goals and measurement, check out this article on better measuring lead generation.

Account-Based Marketing

Something else unique in B2B is what’s known as Account-Based Marketing. As Bill Leake explained:

Bill Leake:

“The other thing that you typically want to look at as well in many B2B cases, some goals for account-based marketing. Because you might have four different folks of the company who hit your website at different places.

So if a sale is worth six figures to you or more and you see that somebody from IBM is on your website, you’ll probably spend a lot more time or you should spend more time trying to figure out who they are and what they were doing, than if you’re running a large retail website and some random person from or hits your site.

There you want to look at things in clumps and aggregates. But in an account-based marketing thing, you might even want to throw up some things like Demandbase on the high end to LeadLander on the low end that do help you resolve IP addresses into companies, so you know which companies hit your website.

If they spent a certain amount of time, figure out from list purchases or your house list, “Who else do we know at that place?” Then, actually have some outbound that cascades into that company based on the inbound.”

In any case, B2B optimization starts with building and understanding personas. Who is your ideal customer profile? How do they buy? What content and information do they like?

Building Personas

A big part of B2B mastery is understanding and building buyer personas.

Because of the complexity of decision making that is often involved, and the fact that many people are in the discussion of whether or not to buy, it’s tough to map out which personas you should be targeting.

It’s just as hard, if not more so, to map out where these personas are in the customer journey and what type of content to serve them depending on the stage.

Personas should be nothing new to our audience, but if you want to brush up, here’s an article (and if you want extra credit, take our Rigorous User Personas course in the Institute).

Image Source

Image Source

Cross reference the personas you’ve created with your historical customers as well as who you want to be your customers. Try to analyze the top 10% of clients you’d like, and figure out what they have in common.

Also, look into those that evangelize your company, your top referrers. What do they have in common?

In addition, there may be multiple personas you need to address with different campaigns and pages. For instance, ConversionXL Institute has a variety of personas, both in-house and agencies. Employees and managers. We approach each sale with a different messaging strategy.

From there, you must optimize your content.

Optimizing Your Content

Most B2B sites are multi-purpose vehicles.

Historically, lots of B2B sites have acted as big brochures. People’s attention spans tend to be getting shorter though, and they want content that’s easier to consume.

Image Source

Image Source

Depending on your personas and sales process, your content could be a few different things:

  • Long form content has plenty of benefits, like thought leadership, SEO traffic, and authority building pieces.
  • Short form can be good too, especially for top of funnel content and concise product-based content.
  • Webinars perform particularly well in a B2B context. You can also tease out more information from these and better qualify leads for your sales team.
  • Whitepapers are a classic. There are even new ways of optimizing and testing whitepaper content.
  • Videos are great, and often underplayed in the B2B context.

You get the point – there are lots of different approaches to content in B2B.

The main thing is to align your content with your customer personas as well as where they are in the customer journey – how ready are they to purchase? Then you create your content with that in mind, and optimize the call to action based on the presumed and desired intent at that stage…

Optimizing CTAs

What are you trying to sell? How many touch points do you need? Web-based sale or phone call?

Some sites, like Optimizely, prioritize the demo:


Others, like Oracle, want you to call their sales team right away:


And still more sites (usually lower purchase prices), let you jump in with a free trial, or simply let you purchase on the site. VWO here:


The CTA on a B2B site is where the money is to be made; it’s what the sale is predicated on. Bill Leake explains very well the different strategies you can use:

Bill Leake:

“Our client had a really, really strong tech team, and when they got somebody signed up for their demo, the thing sold itself. They converted like 60% of demos into customers once the demo was activated.

So for us, in that case, the right answer was get them into the demo. Make it as easy as possible to the demo and the demo sells itself. There are lots of pieces of software out there where you don’t want them to go anywhere near the demo, because it’s fugly, it doesn’t work, or it breaks, or it doesn’t showcase, or there are a bunch of other questions people are going to have.

So it’s really understanding what do we have to work with today, what are we gonna have to work with next quarter. One of the things you have to be thinking through all the time is are we still working with the best call to action. Sometimes it’s a phone call.

Amazingly enough, most people in conversion have historically focused on getting the web form. If you’re in B2B or any high dollar sale, you know what, when you have a human talking to a human, if you’ve got the right team, close rates go up, and attachment and upsell rates go up. So you typically walk people into a more lucrative higher margin sale.

Dell computers knew that for years.

Dell computer would have teaser items that were cheap to get someone called in, and the stuff that got added to their shopping cart wasn’t so cheap. And then a lot of margin got added to the order. Online it’s fairly easy to people to cost compare and kind of strip all the margin out of orders.

Sometimes you’re optimizing for a phone call, and sometimes make it clear that this offer is only available if you call.”

In addition, Bill explained, people tend to over optimize for email list subscribers without qualifying the leads. If you have a super compelling offer for your email list, and you don’t require qualifying fields, you’ll tend to get a lot of leads but a low ratio of qualified leads.

This doesn’t sound like a problem until your analyst goes in and tries to segment leads and quantify your marketing efforts. It’s hard work at that point.

Using Dynamic Content

Your landing pages need to be hyper-specific to your customer persona. If not, people don’t take leaps of faith – the landing page needs to talk to their specific problems.

This isn’t specific to B2B – you should always align your pages with your customers’ expectations. But B2B customers tend to exhibit more heterogeneity because of the problem of multiple buyers and roles. As Scott Brinker said in Search Engine Land:

Scott Brinker:

“In B2B, where respondents are more risk aware, they’re even less comfortable making leaps of assumption. If your landing page doesn’t specifically call out the issue they were searching for—or fulfill a promise you dangled in the ad copy—they’re more likely to abandon you and go in search of a stronger “information scent” elsewhere.”

Don’t Forget Emotions

Remember that whether you’re selling to businesses or consumers, the end buyer is always human, and humans are never totally rational. In fact, B2B buyers tend to be specifically risk averse, as Scott Brinker outlined in Search Engine Land:

Scott Brinker:

“See, if I buy a new TV and then realize a couple of months later that I made a bad choice, the consequences are limited. I’m disappointed, and my wife might make a few wise remarks, but we move on. However, if I’m a key decision-maker for a new enterprise HR system—and then several months and hundreds of thousands of dollars later it becomes clear that we made a disastrous decision—I can suffer real damage to my career.”

Lead Types: How Much Info Should You Collect?

There’s a saying in software development that applies to B2B lead gen: do you want it fast, good, or cheap?

Cheaper leads tend not to be as qualified, and if it’s more expensive, it’s probably that there are either more (easier to sift through for cheaper price points) or they’re higher quality.

Anyway, this is a sales and operations decision based your product and market. Outside the scope of this article.

What is inside the scope of this article, though, is how you collect and vet inbound leads based on what your company decides.

If you have a multi-tier sales engine where, if you have any contact info, they can be contacted, you can have more leads. Usually, though, you want to have as much information as possible on your leads without sacrificing too much on the quantity side of things.

One possible way of bridging the gap between poor lead quality and high-friction forms is progressive profiling. Each time your prospect fills out a new form, you collect additional information, piece-by-piece – instead of a daunting form asking for everything all at once.

Image Source

Image Source

Lead Scoring and Prioritization

In B2B, it’s not simply “they converted; we’re done.”

After someone fills out a form, or attends a webinar, or whatever, how do you determine whether this person is an MQL to be passed onto the sales team? How do you score them and prioritize them?

Lead scoring is complicated. Like any model, it’s probably not going to completely align with what is capital T True. But a good model will definitely help you waste less time on the sales front and optimize your approach on the marketing front.

Lead scoring also tends to be quite unique to your business, though there do tend to be common correlative indicators of lead quality.


This article is only a short outline of B2B optimization and the ways it differs from more transactional B2C optimization. Of course, the devil is in the details and it’s all about execution; you can read about long term sales cycles, building personas, and lead scoring, but there’s a lot of work that goes into each of those that is specific to your own business.

The one takeaway here is probably that B2B sales cycles are different. The higher the cost of the item, the more inherent friction there is as well as complexity. Your website strategy has to reflect that, as well as take into account the costs and efficiency of a human sales force. It’s not easy.

05 Nov 16:06

The Wussification of the American Salesperson

by Anthony Iannarino

You can’t be a trusted advisor and a consultative salesperson and also be a marshmallow. You can’t be your dream client’s peer and be fearful of them at the same time.

For all the talk about the stereotypical salesperson being a self-oriented brute, the reality is that pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. The odds are greater that you are too soft.

The American Salesperson has been wussified. The evidence is in the standard excuses:

  • I Hate Cold Calling: I know. You are never supposed to interrupt your prospective client. You are supposed to connect with them on social and try to move the relationship offline without actually making an ask of any kind. You’re supposed to generate enough trust online that your prospective clients ask you to meet. This soft, passive approach works sometimes… just not often enough or fast enough. If you can’t pick up the phone and schedule an appointment, you are no one’s peer. You’re simply afraid of your prospective clients.
  • Marketing Generates Opportunities: Marketing is supposed to generate your leads for you. You are supposed to be getting everything you need to make your number through inbound. You are a value creator, with talents too valuable to be wasted on prospecting. If you can’t get your hands dirty prospecting, you are surely no hunter. You are simply an order-taker.
  • Someone Else Should Do My Prospecting: You need an SDR to schedule your appointments for you. Or a BDR. Or some other role that has been sliced out of the role of salesperson. Sales is about opportunity creation as much as it is opportunity capture. If you don’t like prospecting, you don’t like sales. How can you be a rainmaker if you can’t make it rain?
  • Never Be Closing: Wait for your buyer to ask you to take the next step when they are ready. You are only there to serve them on their buying journey, even if that means they take way too long to make that journey, and even if they are hurting themselves by not acting with the urgency they should. The thing is, a trusted advisor doesn’t allow their client to be harmed because they can’t ask them to make the commitments they need to make. If you can’t ask, you aren’t selling, and you aren’t serving your prospective client.
  • Don’t Pitch: Never pitch your prospects. They aren’t interested in you, your company, or your solution. No matter how much your prospective client needs what you sell, don’t show them how you can help until they decide they’re ready. If you are going to be a peer, you better have ideas you believe in so strongly that you propose them before your prospective client suggests they have a need. If you don’t have the next idea, you are irrelevant. And how, pray tell, is your dream client supposed to know you have the next idea? Pitch them.
  • Don’t Be Salesy. In fact, change your title to anything that doesn’t have the word “sales” in it. You want to be a consultant, a much more respectable title and role (even though no one sells or has to sell like a consultant does). Don’t believe so deeply in yourself as a value creator, your company as a great partner, or you solution as the best on Earth. All great advice, if you lack confidence and a strong belief in yourself. If you don’t believe strongly in yourself, your company, and your solution, why should your dream client?
  • Buyers Have All the Power: Buyers have all the power now. You have to wait for them to tell you what they want, normally when they are 57 percent through their decision-making process. Even then, you better be able to compete on price, because you will never have a relationship that is anything more than transactional. The only reason you and your buyer have information parity is because you have allowed it. The only reason they would ever be deep into a decision without you is because you haven’t taken consistent action to gain a meeting earlier. If you believe all that is left to do is transact, no one needs you as their trusted advisor.

You will never be a trusted advisor if you don’t perceive yourself as your dream client’s peer. You will never be consultative if you are unwilling to have uncomfortable conversations. You will never be an agent of change if you passively wait for others to decide to change on their own schedule.

You don’t have to be a brute. Nothing here requires that you demonstrate a self-orientation or employ horrible sales tactics that are decades old and now worthless. You do have to step up and decide whether you are a going to be a peer, someone worth doing business with, or if you are going to be something much less than that.

The post The Wussification of the American Salesperson appeared first on The Sales Blog.

04 Nov 20:27

The Myth of the Handoff in Account Based Sales Development

by Brandon Redlinger

In the traditional demand gen model, there’s a clear distinction between where marketing ends and sales begin. And traditionally, there’s a lot of confusion, miscommunication, and even conflict during this crucial period when marketing is handing off the lead to the sales team. If you’re not careful here, you risk fumbling the ball and watching your competition pick it up and run away with the deal.

However, in Account Based Sales Development (ABSD), things are a little different. When you’re selling to large accounts, it becomes a team sport. And just like in the pros, if your team has the best player but you don’t work together, you could lose every game. On the other hand, a team full of good players becomes great once they’re dialed in and on the same page, running the same Plays. Call it “team chemistry,” call it “getting in the zone,” call it whatever you want. That’s what it means to be a team.

Here’s why the standard handoff isn’t as relevant in ABSD. If you’re already on an account based model, then (hopefully) you’ve aligned your marketing, sales development, and sales teams. Marketing isn’t worried about a monthly lead commit. Sales Development isn’t the little brother. Sales isn’t worried about the quality of the leads marketing is passing their way. Customer success (did you forget about them?) isn’t worried about trying to fulfill the promises that sales makes. If you’ve taken the right first steps of aligning your team, they’re all striving for the same goal: giving the customer an exceptional experience, and ultimately winning the deal.

Easier said than done.

Let’s take a look at the essential elements of aligning your team for success. Then we’ll finish off with looking at one and only handoff in Account Based Sales, and how to do it so seamlessly, the target account won’t even notice.

The New Objectives and Metrics for Account Based Sales Development

Sales and marketing fought like cats and dogs for good reason in traditional demand gen and lead-based sales. Marketing was held to and compensated on metrics like website visits, form submissions, marketing qualified leads, etc. Sales was held to dials per day, overall activity, conversions, etc. When your sales and marketing teams are not speaking the same language, how can you expect them to understand each other?

Breaking down the silos and aligning your team starts with a Service Level Agreement (SLA). This is designed to establish agreement across the entire team and, more importantly, align and compensate on comparable revenue quotas and business results.

An SLA is designed to do a few key things:

  • Set agreed upon definitions and criteria for key definitions, such as Marketing Qualified Account, Sales Qualified Account, close/lost opportunity, etc.
  • Set agreed upon KPIs, metrics, and benchmarks.
  • Establish dashboard and reporting that key members can easily access.

Although your team is now on the same page and striving for the same business results, you still have to hold them accountable for the activities they do every day. This is going to be different for each team. These activity metrics are going to be slightly different, but they’re not unfamiliar. Decide what is going to be important to your team, and use good judgment.

For example, measuring on MQL’s is no longer valid, but inbound response time is still important for marketing. Measuring on daily dials is no longer valid, but positive conversations is still important for business development.

Learn to Say No: Managing Your Time and Resources

Sales hunters are known for their tenacity and never-quit attitude. Grit in sales is usually synonymous with success. However, it can get you in trouble and cause you to miss your numbers. Not all deals are going to close, and since time and energy are your most valuable resources, you have to know when it’s time to disposition out an account and move on to the next target.

It’s particularly hard to say no because of the sunk cost fallacy, which is the misconception that we make rational decisions based on the future value. However, the research time and again proves that our decisions are often tainted by the emotional investment and time accumulated — the more time and energy you put into something, the harder it becomes to give it up.

To get this right, you must develop guidelines to keep you from chasing deals that never were. There’s no hard and fast rule across the board that every org should follow. You need to figure out what makes the most sense for you and your team.

When coming up with your guidelines, first, take a look at the tier of the account. Tier 1, 2 and 3 accounts require different resources and attention levels. When determining tiers for your accounts, factor in other elements of a deal specific to your business, like the average contract value, the size of your total addressable market, the length of your sales cycle, etc. Next, consider the account based metrics above — how much coverage, awareness, engagement, reach, and impact do you have at each account for each tier?

It’s No Longer About the Handoff

“There is no longer a clear hand-off of a lead between Sales and Marketing. Marketing increasingly is nurturing and advancing prospects through the entire sales process. That’s why there’s an increased focus on conversion rates rather than simple lead numbers. It also means that Sales and Marketing have to collaborate more than ever.”

-Peter Mollins, VP Marketing, KnowledgeTree

According to research by SiriusDecisions, buyers want Marketing and Sales involved equally at every stage of the buying process.

When you’re selling to multinational or global accounts, and you’re at the far end of the Account Based Sales Development spectrum, there is no handoff. Everyone is working together from the beginning, and throughout the entire revenue cycle. At that level, you’re only selling to Tier 1 accounts and you’re engaged fully in team selling.

  • Executive management provides the vision.
  • Marketing finds and nurtures the accounts and creates tailored content for the account
  • Sales development sets the stage
  • Pre-sales and sales enablement gives a great demo
  • Account executives negotiate and close the business
  • Company executives provide executive alignment and support
  • Customer success onboards and trains
  • Product and engineering teams make something to sell
  • Support fixes problems along the way
  • Accounts receivable gets the money

In her book Whale Hunting with Global Accounts, Barbara Weaver Smith explains that today’s buyer wants to meet the subject matter experts and everyone else on your team. This begs the question: if people want to buy from the whole team, why do we only expose them to certain members during certain times?

This is where global teams often have project managers who act as the fulcrum between the different teams and departments within your organization. The project manager, often the “farmer” salesperson, is like a quarterback and acts as the lead. The quarterback is responsible for being the go-to key contact for these accounts.

There are still key players on your team who will be leading at different stages of the sales process, and having this structure means less confusion and a better experience for the customer. There’s no handoff, but rather a shuffling around of players.

For Tier 3 accounts, you can’t afford this much time, attention and resources on one account, therefore mastering the handoff is more important. For this, I’d like to turn to Richard Harris, a top sales trainer and leader, for some wisdom. He outlines a great process and email for when you have to orchestrate a handoff. Immediately after you send an event invite for the call/meeting, send an email to make the transition smooth. Here’s an example:

You can (and should) even launch a Play (or series a series of follow-up emails) if the prospect doesn’t respond or doesn’t show up to the meeting. The same process should be in place when an AE closes a deal – a Play should be launched to introduce the Customer Success Manager to start the onboarding process.

For Tier 2 accounts, each player should be slightly more involved, but can’t be as involved as your Tier 1 accounts. To execute this play properly, have the rep handing the account off set the meeting, send the email, and join the call. This is how the call should go down:

  1. Open – Pleasantries and re-establish rapport
  2. Introduce your teammate – Give a formal introduction to the next point of contact for the account.
  3. Summarize – Give the two or three main points from the previous call. This further emphasized you understand the customer while giving the new POC more context. Don’t take more than 30-45 seconds.
  4. Establish an agenda – State the goal of the call and the desired outcomes
  5. Hand off the call – Let the new POC take over.

This process can be used when Account Development Reps are handing the account off to the AE, when the AE is handing the account off to customer success, when there’s a new account owner due to movement in your org, or any other reason.

Andy Paul, author of Amp Up Your Sales and host of the Accelerate! podcast, firmly believes that how you sell is as important as what you sell. By providing a superior sales experience to the customer, you are differentiating yourself from other organizations.

There’s more to Account Based Sales Development than the handoff. In fact, it’s one tiny piece of the puzzle. That’s why we’ve put together The Clear and Complete Guide to Account Based Sales Development. You can download the full guide for free today.

04 Nov 20:27

3 Integrations Every Sales Platform Should Have

by Rachel Serpa

The concept of logical thinking. Geometric shapes on a wooden background. Tetris toy wooden blocks.

CRM platforms were created to help businesses manage the complete customer lifecycle, from marketing, through sales to support. Unfortunately, while marketing and support workflows have evolved into stand alone platforms like Marketo and Zendesk, not much has changed for sales. Reps are still trying to work directly out of legacy CRMs that were not built around the core needs of salespeople.

Your reps deserve a dedicated sales solution designed to meet their specific needs and make their everyday tasks easier, more productive and increasingly successful. However, we all know sales doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and a sales platform that isolates sales from the rest of the business is just as troublesome as a CRM that lumps everyone’s needs together.

At the end of the day, your sales platform shouldn’t try to be something that it’s not, but it also needs to effectively connect your sales team with additional tools and information that can make them better at their jobs. We’re taking a look at three key sales platform integrations that ensure sales reps are getting what they need without overloading them with unnecessary features and functionality.

Marketing Automation

If you’ve been a part of any sales or marketing organization, you know how many arguments can erupt between these two camps simply around what happened to a particular lead. Your sales team doesn’t need the ability to send marketing emails or create landing pages, but insight into information like lead source or which campaigns prospects belong to is key to strategic and contextual selling.

Your sales platform should have an integration with one or more of the top marketing automation platforms, like HubSpot or Marketo. And if this integration happens to be a full two-way sync, that’s even better. This kind of integration ensures consistency between sales and marketing data for better prospect and customer experiences across the board. Here are just a few ways that integrating your sales solution and marketing automation platform can help drive sales productivity and performance:

  • Most marketing automation platforms give each lead an engagement score, or rank them based on the level of interaction they have with emails, landing pages, etc. Knowing this score is a major indicator of how hot a lead is.
  • Did your prospect open that newsletter that was sent out this morning? Did she click one of the links 5 minutes ago? This level of near real-time insight enables reps to reach out and strike up a conversation when you’re top of mind.
  • Marketers are able to customize the fields that are required when prospects fill out marketing forms. Upfront access to information like whether a lead has a current project or if she is currently using a competitive solution is pure sales gold.

For more tips on how to achieve better sales and marketing alignment, check out this blog post.

Support Platforms

Have you ever called to upsell a customer only to be greeted by an angry voice on the other end of the line? Your contact currently has an open ticket with support and has been trying to get her issue resolved for a week. How dare you try to upsell her when the solution she’s already paying for doesn’t even work! Ouch.

Unfortunately, these are the types of situations that occur when sales and support teams have limited visibility into customer conversations – it’s nearly impossible to provide award-winning experiences. What’s more, putting your sales team in a position where it must constantly ping support for information and updates about its customers zaps productivity for both teams.

Ensuring that key information like open and closed tickets is made visible to your reps in your sales platform enhances team agility as well as helps reps enter conversations with greater context. Spot an open ticket? Now probably isn’t the time for an upsell. Did an issue just get resolved in an efficient and timely manner? Grow your relationship by giving the customer a quick call just to check in. Smooth sailing? Time to pitch that new add-on!

Email & Calendar

Think about the process that the average rep must go through just to set a single meeting:

  • Send email requesting prospect availability
  • Track whether email is opened and clicked
  • Book meeting on prospect and rep calendar
  • Mark meeting as set within CRM

That’s four – four! – different tools that a rep must use just to book one meeting: email service, email tracking software, calendar application and CRM. Your reps probably have a goal as to how many meetings they must set every day or week; think of how much time is wasted switching back and forth and connecting the dots between these solutions. No wonder 59% of sales reps believe that they’re required to use too many sales tools.

Imagine if your reps could send emails, track clicks and opens and book meetings all within a single platform. When your sales platform integrates with your email and calendar provider, like Gmail or Microsoft, you can. The best part? When communication happens inside your sales platform, all messages are automatically logged in the context of your contact, so you never have to spend time reconciling CRM notes with your inbox ever again.

What’s Next

Marketing automation, support platforms and email and calendar – your sales platform shouldn’t try to BE these things, but it should integrate with them in a way that leads to enhanced sales productivity and performance. For more tips on what you should be looking for when it comes to choosing the right sales solution for your business, download the free white paper: 7 Questions to Ask When Evaluating Sales Software.

03 Nov 15:00

This new app helps small businesses track their success

by Sponsor Post


Running a small business can be tough, given the countless tasks to manage every day. And when you're worrying about everything from paying your vendors to sweeping the floor at night, tracking success can fall to the bottom of a business owner's list of priorities.

According to a Staples survey, 51% of small business leaders admit that they don’t measure business metrics as often as they should. This can put a business at risk and blindside a team when crises arise.

That's why Staples launched Quick Wins, a new tool designed to help small businesses keep tabs on their growth.

How it works

Quick Wins gathers social media engagement, site traffic, and sales numbers seamlessly in a single dashboard. Users can sync relevant data from Google Analytics, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Shopify or Quickbooks, and view their metrics on their desktop or mobile device.

"With 50% of businesses failing within the first five years, we created this app to help provide the guidance and support small businesses need to succeed," says Christine Mallon, vice president of marketing at Staples.


Quick Wins also makes suggestions small business owners can use to improve their metrics. For example, if your bounce rate rises too high — that is, people are leaving your website too quickly or too often — the tool will notify you in the dashboard, and might also advise creating more blog posts to increase user engagement. 

Theresa and Haley Hanna are the owners of Bell Cottage, a mom-and-pop gift shop in Burbank, California. With Quick Wins, they were able to reach more people on Facebook because the app offers suggestions on the best times to schedule posts. Once the Hannas implemented the advice, they saw improvements on their page.

Building a network

The Staples survey also reports that three in five small business leaders would like access to a network of their peers. That's why Quick Wins features a community board where users can interact with other business owners and managers who can offer advice and support. 

Monitoring growth is crucial to building a successful business, but it’s just one step along the way. Equally as important is the ability to seek — and get — advice from other small business owners.

Whether someone is stumped on social media strategy, struggling with location options, or just in need of general feedback, they can log into the app and get helpful answers. There is also a community manager who moderates discussion threads to help break the ice and start a dialogue. 

"It's kind of like having a marketing department ... just on your phone," says Taylor Calmus, co-founder of Taybles, a company that sells unique coffee tables.

Signing up for a Quick Wins account only takes a few minutes. The process is even faster when done through an existing Staples or Google account.

"It's so much more than just a tracking tool," Mallon says. "It's a business companion."

For more information on Quick Wins, watch the video below.

To start tracking your metrics and growing your business with Quick Wins, click here.

This post is sponsored by Staples.

Join the conversation about this story »

03 Nov 14:59

4 Keys To Using Salesforce for Sales Development Reps

by Greg Klingshirn

Salesforce is the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform of record for sales teams around the world. And with the emergence of so many powerful functionality integrations, products that work hand-in-hand with the CRM make Salesforce for Sales Development Reps that much easier.

In sales development, much of your success is dependent on activity – how much high quality correspondence you can complete, and how fast you can complete it. That being said, sales enablement tools are your lifeblood for efficient sales activity. They grant you the option to craft personalized cadences at scale, recording all of your activities as you go. Without having to live in CRM, having the peace of mind that everything is recorded gives you more time to perfect your process and increase your activity.

Here are four of the ways you can use Sales Enablement and Salesforce for Sales Development Reps in tandem to improve your numbers:

Want to learn more about the in’s and out’s of Salesforce and Sales Enablement? Here’s your chance! Download a free copy of the ebook today, “Salesforce for Sales Engagement: For Sales Development Reps,” and watch your productivity multiply.


The post 4 Keys To Using Salesforce for Sales Development Reps appeared first on SalesLoft.

03 Nov 14:50

The Competitive Landscape for Machine Intelligence

by Shivon Zilis

Three years ago, our venture capital firm began studying startups in artificial intelligence. AI felt misunderstood, burdened by expectations from science fiction, and so for the last two years we’ve tried to capture the most-important startups in the space in a one-page landscape. (We prefer the more neutral term “machine intelligence” over “AI.”)

In past years, we heard mostly from startup founders and academics — people who pay attention to early, far-reaching trends in technology. But this year was different. This year we’ve heard more from Fortune 500 executives with questions about machine intelligence than from startup founders.

These executives are asking themselves what to do. Over the past year, machine intelligence has exploded, with $5 billion in venture investment, a few big acquisitions, and hundreds of thousands of people reading our earlier research. As with the internet in the 1990s, executives are realizing that this new technology could change everything, but nobody knows exactly how or when.

If this year’s landscape shows anything, it’s that the impact of machine intelligence is already here. Almost every industry is already being affected, from agriculture to transportation. Every employee can use machine intelligence to become more productive with tools that exist today. Companies have at their disposal, for the first time, the full set of building blocks to begin embedding machine intelligence in their businesses.

And unlike with the internet, where latecomers often bested those who were first to market, the companies that get started immediately with machine intelligence could enjoy a lasting advantage.

So what should the Fortune 500 and other companies be doing to get started?



Make Talent More Productive

One way to immediately begin getting the value of machine intelligence is to support your talent with readily available machine intelligence productivity tools. Some of the earliest wins have been productivity tools tuned to specific areas of knowledge work — what we call “Enterprise Functions” in our landscape. With these tools, every employee can get some of the powers previously available only to CEOs.

These tools can aid with monitoring and predicting (e.g., companies like Clari forecasting client-by-client sales to help prioritize deals) and with coaching and training (Textio’s* predictive text-editing platform to help employees write more-effective documents).

Find Entirely New Sources of Data

The next step is to use machine intelligence to realize value from new sources of data, which we highlight in the “Enterprise Intelligence” section of the landscape. These new sources are now accessible because machine intelligence software can rapidly review enormous amounts of data in a way that would have been too difficult and expensive for people to do.

Imagine if you could afford to have someone listen to every audio recording of your salespeople and predict their performance, or have a team look at every satellite image taken from space and determine what macroeconomic indicators could be gleaned from them. These data sources might already be owned by your company (e.g., transcripts of customer service conversations or sensor data predicting outages and required maintenance), or they might be newly available in the outside world (data on the open web providing competitive information).



Rethink How You Build Software

Let’s say you’ve tried some new productivity tools and started to mine new sources of data for insight. The next frontier in capturing machine intelligence’s value is building a lasting competitive advantage based on this new kind of software.

But machine intelligence is not just about better software; it requires entirely new processes and a different mindset. Machine intelligence is a new discipline for managers to learn, one that demands a new class of software talent and a new organizational structure.

Most IT groups think in terms of applications and data. New machine intelligence IT groups will think about applications, data, and models. Think of software as the combination of code, data, and a model. “Model” here means business rules, like rules for approving loans or adjusting power consumption in data centers. In traditional software, programmers created these rules by hand. Today machine intelligence can use data and new algorithms to generate a model too complex for any human programmer to write.

With traditional software, the model changes only when programmers explicitly rewrite it. With machine intelligence, companies can create models that evolve much more regularly, allowing you to build a lasting advantage that strengthens over time as the model “learns.”

Think of these models as narrowly focused employees with great memories and not-so-great social skills — idiot savants. They can predict how best to grow the business, make customers happier, or cut costs. But they’ll often fail miserably if you try to apply them to something new, or, worse, they may degrade invisibly as your business and data change.

All of this means that the discipline of creating machine intelligence software differs from traditional software, and companies need to staff accordingly. Luckily, though finding the right talent may be hard, the tools that developers need to build this software is readily available.

Insight Center

  • The Automation Age
    Sponsored by KPMG
    How robotics and machine learning are changing business.

For the first time, there is a maturing “Stack” (see our landscape) of building blocks that companies can use to practice the new discipline of machine intelligence. Many of these tools are available as free, open-source libraries from technology companies such as Google (TensorFlow), Microsoft (CNTK), or Amazon (DSSTNE). Others make it easier for data scientists to collaborate (see “Data Science”) and manage machine intelligence models (“Machine Learning”).

If your CEO is struggling to answer the question of how machine intelligence will change your industry, take a look at the range of markets in our landscape. The startups in these sections give a sense of how different industries may be altered. Machine intelligence’s first useful applications in an industry tend to use data that previously had lain dormant. Health care is a prime example: We’re seeing predictive models that run on patient data and computer vision that diagnoses disease from medical images and gleans lifesaving insights from genomic data. Next up will be finance, transportation, and agriculture because of the volume of data available and their sheer economic value.

Your company will still need to decide how much to trust these models and how much power to grant them in making business decisions. In some cases the risk of an error will be too great to justify the speed and new capabilities. Your company will also need to decide how often and with how much oversight to revise your models. But the companies that decide to invest in the right models and successfully embed machine intelligence in their organization will improve by default as their models learn from experience.

Economists have long wondered why the so-called computing revolution has failed to deliver productivity gains. Machine intelligence will finally realize computing’s promise. The C-suites and boardrooms that recognize that fact first — and transform their ways of working accordingly — will outrun and outlast their competitors.

*The authors’ fund has invested in this company.

03 Nov 14:49

How to Thrive in Google’s New Mobile Search Index

by Mike Tomita
mobile devices need seo

Author: Mike Tomita

Last month, Google announced that it will be changing the way it evaluates web pages for mobile searches. With more than 3.2 billion people worldwide using the internet regularly and nearly 2.5 billion who do so from a mobile phone, according to data from eMarketer, this could have a huge impact on your brand’s SEO efforts.

In the past, mobile search results were based on the version of your website that’s presented to a user when they visit via a desktop computer. However, many websites have a separate, stripped-down version that’s presented to mobile visitors, so the user experience and value of websites aren’t always consistent even though mobile searches return the same results as the desktop version.

Google’s solution is to split its index of web pages into two parts, one for desktop and one for mobile, to provide the best user experience on each device. Each user’s search results will be dependent on the device they’re browsing from—desktop or mobile. This is a problem for brands who have stripped valuable content from their mobile sites and it may lead to lower search rankings on mobile devices.

Here are three simple steps that you can take to ensure you’re providing a good mobile experience that keeps both your visitors and Google happy:

1. Create a Mobile-Optimized Website

Any concession to mobile users is better than nothing. There are a few ways that you can optimize your existing website for mobile devices.

For instance, you can create a completely separate version of your website for mobile devices. Many times, these are hosted on a subdomain such as While this option will require additional web development, it can be done without impacting the desktop version of your website. This is the most common route for getting a mobile site up quickly. Another method is to use responsive design. This will allow your website to match the dimensions of the browser, rearranging the content on a page to fit the available space. This approach provides a good user experience on any device size, but it does require a fair amount of work to implement.

Whatever solution you choose will signal to Google that your website is “mobile-friendly” and deserves a place in the index. From there, it’s just a matter of optimization.

2. Optimize Your Visitor’s Mobile Experience

Now that Google will be viewing your mobile website as a completely self-standing entity, you’ll need to optimize the mobile version of your site in the same manner that you optimize your desktop site. That means you’ll have to work at improving both the user experience and Google search rankings through a mobile-first lens.

From a technical perspective, Google offers a tool that will test your website for mobile-friendliness and offer suggestions for fixing the issues. This is a quick way to identify issues with your mobile website.

Mobile-Friendly Test

In addition, Google’s Search Console provides a good resource for both desktop and mobile issues. Formerly called Google Webmaster Tools, Search Console will show you if Google has detected any errors on your website, alerts you about malware complaints, and gives you insights into how your site appears in Google’s index.

Next, it’s just a matter of optimizing your content. Google doesn’t provide any guidelines on that front, but we can infer that they want more than just a light version of the corresponding desktop page.

3. Don’t Skimp on Content

One of the objectives behind Google’s decision to split their index is to discourage website owners from stripping out valuable information from their websites in order to provide a faster loading site. While both site owners and Google are pursuing the same objective—to provide a good user experience— Google doesn’t think that sacrificing depth of content is the way to achieve it, and neither should you. And now that the mobile version of your website won’t benefit from the content on your desktop version, Google is forcing website owners to make sure that content is available to be crawled by their mobile ranking algorithm.

While this may seem like Google is forcing an additional burden on website owners, they have at least offered somewhat of a solution with their Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project. AMP is a way to speed up the performance of a website, but it comes with a good deal of functionality trade-off. Some site owners have also reported poor performance when it comes to generating ad revenue via AMP pages.

At the end of the day, Google can always be counted on to do what it thinks will provide the best user experience to its end-users. Website owners and businesses that rely on search referral traffic from Google will either adapt and provide that expected experience or tumble down the rankings to make way for others that can. Be one of the sites that adapts!


How to Thrive in Google’s New Mobile Search Index was posted at Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership. |

The post How to Thrive in Google’s New Mobile Search Index appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

03 Nov 14:49

3 Tools to Optimize Your Site’s Speed without the Help of Devs

by Shivam Trika

Marketers of today, like you and me, are of a mindset that Inbound Marketing is all we need to conquer the Search Ranking game. The more the merrier.

Mostly overlooking maybe the most important factor that adds up to the overall experience of your user — Your site’s loading speed.

While there were a lot of influencers and biggies focusing on it a few years back, it seems as they have moved on to much better things.

Which is a shame because while it may seem irrelevant to a Marketer because all we care about is bringing in more traffic, your site’s loading time is still the first phase of contact between you and your potential customers. And it may be the only reason you are in the number 2 spot of your search rankings or maybe lower even after hitting every aspect of SEO spot-on.

Your site’s speed effects the user experience even before he gets to see your site’s strategically amazing layout, design and content filled with high authority backlinks.

Which is one of the main reason that optimizing your site’s speed must be on top of your priority list, even as a hardcore Marketing specialist.

Google backs this as well. Google has always been fond of speed, in 2010 it was desktop, now it is mobile. Google has to crawl every page on the web and slow sites have slow crawling speed as well. Which hurts Google. So, the crawlers can sometime ultimately abandon your site if it’s too slow which seriously effects your SERP rankings.

And obviously you need to avoid that from happening at all costs. So, here are the top 3 free tools that will help you measure and improve your site’s loading time without any external help of a Dev —


In-depth performance improvements including your site’s speed

The easiest and most in-depth way to speed up your site and add a little security bonus on top. Cloudflare speeds up your site by routing your content through their servers all over the world. It is a bit complex to understand but provides the best-detailed options to optimize your site’s loading speed when you get used to all that it offers.

It does indeed offer a free plan when you create your account on CloudFlare but it takes them 24 hours to completely index your site through their servers when you embed the given nameservers.

Google Page Speed Insights

Google offers their own webmasters tool to aid marketers in identifying page speed problems on their sites. You just have to enter your URL, and Google analyzes your site. It will then give you a score between 0 and 100. Your goal is to get this score as close to 100 as possible, following the suggestions that the tool gives you.

Since, Google started favouring mobile over desktops a while ago, Google page speed insights optimizes your mobile site’s speed as well.


If Google Page Speed Insights isn’t enough, you can use GTMetrix. It follows along the same lines by loading up your site on their servers and analyzing it using 2 different tools: PageSpeed and YSlow. You are then presented with both scores (again between 0 and 100) and suggestions on what to do to optimize your overall site performance.

Here the average YSlow score is 68% and The average PageSpeed score is 71%

Your Turn Now

Google still puts providing a seamless User Experience amongst one its top priorities while deciding the rank of a site in it’s SERP.

And a seamless user experience starts when your site loads quickly without wasting the viewer’s precious time. Time is money.

Try these 3 tools to improve your site’s loading speed and tell us if they were fruitful with increasing your conversions.

And don’t forget to share if you liked this piece :)
Also, share with us any other awesome tool that you have in your mind which could add to the value of this post in the comments.


03 Nov 14:48

The Perfect Close – Book Review

by Tibor Shanto

By Tibor Shanto – 

Years ago, I read a stat that suggested most sales people do not read even one sales book a year, and that was before access to sales blogs and curators of blogs, and a host of other sources (of dubious quality). While some may put this off to laziness, it may also be that the “consumer”, here sales people, are more discerning than given credit, and realize that many of the books they ignore are indeed worth ignoring. Like many of their buyers, the discerning seller has grown weary of advice, observations and untested theory, from talking heads who not sold anything in years but their books. Sellers are looking for real world, practical executable insights, by real world practitioner. Which brings us to in The Perfect Close: The Secret to Closing Sales, by James Muir.

the-perfect-closeDon’t let the title fool you, this is not a book full of closing tricks like the Ben Franklin Close or The Columbo Close. It is a straight forward means and process that sellers of all products can implement, without having to resort to pressure or tricks. It focuses on moving the sale from stage to stage in a practical manner, and involves two questions. It can be put into practice by both seasoned veterans of the trade or new comers. The central reason for that is the author, and the fact that he spends his days in the real sales world.

James Muir is a professional sales trainer, author, speaker and coach, who has excelled both as a front line sales rep, and manager, shattering records in the process. One thing all successful people have said, is to model yourself after the most successful in the field. That is you opportunity with James and The Perfect Close. His guidance comes from experience and the school of hard knocks. James has an extensive background in healthcare where he has sold-to and spoken for the largest names in technology and healthcare including HCA, Tenet, Catholic Healthcare, Banner, Dell, IBM and others. Three decades of not just experience, but success, has given James a fresh and practical perspective on what works in real-life and what doesn’t. And now you can benefit directly from that in this book.

The Perfect Close represents the tested and proven best practices for winning in today’s competitive sales world. It picks up where many others leave off. It is easy to say that “traditional” closing techniques do not work and can harm your efforts, James outlines an alternative that works, one that makes your buyer feel educated when buying from you, see you as a true facilitator and consultant, and allow you remain on emotionally higher ground. The bonus is that the approach is a proven and repeatable process for advancing sales that can be used in any kind of sale at any given stage. All this will allow you to close more business, usually in a shorter timeframe.

Beyond the very practical advice and a practical path to execution, the book has something many of the pre-fab pundit produced books lack, passion. James’ passion for sales and helping others sell better comes through in every chapter. This makes it easy for the reader to absorb the solid methods presented. Don’t let the title fool you, this is not a gimmicky close book, it is about the steps sales professionals must take, right from the start, and along the way to win more customers. James outlines the steps it takes to win no matter what you sell, or how long you have been selling. He introduces the “why”, the “what”, and the “how” for each step along the journey. This book is fun to read. You’ll find yourself revisiting elements, each time improving your execution. Buy this book for yourself, your team, and if you have a friend who sells that you would like to see do better. Don’t take my word for it, buy it, read it, enjoy it, implement it, and profit from it!

Become one of the thousands of sales professionals receiving my latest updates on sales execution, tools, tips and more.

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The post The Perfect Close – Book Review appeared first on Renbor Sales Solutions Inc..

03 Nov 14:47

10 Reasons Social Selling Is Failing

by Anthony Iannarino

Social Selling isn’t living up to its promise. Those promises have been exaggerated and oversold. Social selling is failing.

  1. Lack of Content: Your social selling program isn’t going to work without content. You may want to make noise on the social channels, and you may want attention. You can’t have attention without content. Salespeople without content are unarmed.
  2. Link Bait Content Isn’t Content: You see some social gurus and sales experts writing provocative content. If it’s not link bait, it’s comment bait designed to drive engagement simply by being provocative. If you want attention from your peer group, you’ll get it. You are not, however, gaining engaged prospects.
  3. Content Doesn’t Compel Change: Infographics are really neat. So are inspirational images. And quotes. But they do absolutely nothing to explain to your dream client what’s going on in their world, why they are plagued with dissonance, and why they should change.
  4. Too Great a Reliance on Content to Drive Leads: Content marketing is not going to generate enough leads for you to make your number unless you are the rare exception,  a thought leader with an earned following. Inbound marketing isn’t supposed to provide you with 100 percent of your leads, plus the amount you need to make your number.
  5. Too Much Faith That Connecting Is Enough: You need to open relationships. You can do that on the social web. The barrier for someone to accept your LinkedIn connection request might now be lower than a friend request on Facebook. Prospecting means asking for a meeting.
  6. Too Much Time Spent on Social Channels: It is a complete and utter Time suck. Perhaps the greatest time suck and distraction in the history of mankind, approaching levels that exceed television. It is critical that you use the tools. And then it is critical that you set the tools down and do the work you really need to do. If you believe social is urgent and important, you are making a mistake.
  7. Belief That Social Replaces Traditional Approaches: Social fails when it is used as a replacement for the traditional approaches. You InMail isn’t prospecting. It is approaching  spammy.
  8. Activities Are Not Strategic: Sharing other people’s content is great. Liking and commenting is great, too. Posting status updates can be a great way to share with people you are connected to on social. It just isn’t strategic. If what you are doing doesn’t create value for your prospects and clients, it’s not strategic.
  9. Lack of an Integrated Approach and Campaigns: What story are you telling with what you publish and share? What is the end goal? How is it aligned with a campaign that is a tailored message designed to move your dream clients to a place where they are willing and interested in engaging in a conversation around change?
  10. Shift in Platforms Away from B2B: Name all the great social platforms for B2B? If you named SnapChat, you’re just being funny. If you said Instagram, you’re teasing me. LinkedIn is the only platform for professionals, and it looks more like Facebook every day.

If salespeople and sales organization are going to use the social tools to generate sales, we’re going to have to do a whole lot better.

The post 10 Reasons Social Selling Is Failing appeared first on The Sales Blog.

03 Nov 14:46

4 LinkedIn Tips for Better Prospecting

by JoAnne Funch

Wondering how LinkedIn can help you generate and connect with leads? Want to manage your LinkedIn prospects more effectively? LinkedIn is the go-to social platform for generating leads and building trust with your ideal prospects. In this article, you’ll discover four tips to help you get more out of your LinkedIn sales efforts. #1: Join LinkedIn ProFinder: [...]

This post 4 LinkedIn Tips for Better Prospecting first appeared on .
- Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

03 Nov 14:46

A Product Executive’s Perspective On Unlocking B2B Data’s Latent Potential

by Mark Woollen

Salesforce is a trailblazer in their space.

If you need proof, just look at the great legacy they’re building for themselves, particularly in promoting the cloud and democratizing access to software. We also saw their ever increasing breadth of solutions at this year’s Dreamforce event.

As always, Dreamforce 2016 left attendees buzzing on a variety of new products, perhaps none more notable than Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Predictive Analytics. But even bigger than those topics has been the major underlying theme around B2B data.

The growth of the Martech stack and explosion in data has led to most marketers sitting on a wealth of information in the cloud across their CRM and Marketing Automation (MAT). But the focus now is on understanding the latent potential inside customer data.

Today, marketers are tasked with driving revenue and pipeline more than ever before. And the conversation increasingly needs to move away from the new tech you want to adopt to asking more fundamental customer data questions like:

  • What is the quality of my customer data?
  • How actionable is my data?
  • How quickly and efficiently can I monetize customer data?
  • How can I better understand past successes from my installed customer base?
  • What learnings can I apply from existing data to find new customers?

This overarching trend around pipeline growth primarily falls into two categories: driving net-new pipeline and increasing pipeline from existing customers. Chances are you have some new technologies and initiatives in mind that you would like to test out to meet your goals, but here’s what you need to be on the lookout for when considering them:

Predictive for the sake of predictive is not a viable approach

We’ve seen an increase in adoption of predictive over the past few years, but marketers need to be wary of the “smoke and mirrors” that many vendors are using to position their offerings.

Traditionally, “predictive 1.0” solutions have largely focused on their algorithms and models, even putting the impetus on ‘bake-offs’ rather than proof-of-concepts that factor in long-term goals. But while you can have amazing algorithms, your predictive solution of choice is only as good as the data driving those predictions.

So my suggestion is: Find a solution that has incredible data powering an amazing predictive engine.

Integrate your tech stack the right way

It’s no secret that the growing number of Martech solutions is throwing everyone’s tech stack for a loop. So if you’re in the process of integrating platforms across your tech stack, make sure you do it the right way.

Bringing together a tech stack is a ‘one-time-only’ event.

Make sure to build out workflows and processes that are reputable and well thought-out. Also, check if your tech stack can integrate your solutions on an ongoing basis.

Data is great, but you need insights

According to a recent Demand Metric report, more than 80% of companies without effective demand gen blame data quality for ineffective marketing campaigns and sales flops. Yet, only 42% of companies with rich data are happy with their demand gen.

Data quality is a critical issue for marketers today, but it’s not enough to just have high-quality data. Marketers still need insights into their prospects, customers, and market to create more targeted campaigns that yield better results.

Get better insights with network effects

A great source of insights for your business can come from partners in adjacent industries or competitors. It’s important to be part of a network that real businesses contribute information to on what campaigns, offers, and pricing drives favorable marketing and sales outcomes.

Leverage multi-channel marketing at every stage of the funnel

Buyers interact across various digital touch points nowadays, so make sure you’re building an integrated, multi-channel marketing strategy to address their needs. You need to know your best leads and the most impactful channels you can interact with them on.

Wrapping It Up

There’s a major shift in B2B marketing, and data is leading the charge.

It’s imperative for marketers to understand the latent potential of their customer data, draw insights across the buyer’s journey, and act on them with personalized, relevant campaigns.

If you want to learn more about upcoming transformative sales and marketing technologies, join executives from Salesloft, Revana and myself, for an executive roundtable on How to Transform Data into Dollars in 2017.