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08 Oct 18:07

Forget PowerPoint: Try These 6 Tricks to Nail Your Next Client Meeting

by Ken Sterling

business meeting

Want to stand out at your next client meeting? Ditch the same old PowerPoint presentation and deploy creative, personalized messaging instead.

The other day, one of the newer members of our sales team came into my office, asking for advice regarding an upcoming trip. “Hey Ken, I’m visiting Chicago next week for a major client meeting. Would you help me prepare a PowerPoint?” I smiled and said, “Sure, we can do that. Do you also want to bring them a box of doughnuts or bagels, kind of like a typical sales rep that makes the rounds?” She looked confused, until I continued: “Or do you want to stand out, hold that room, and really connect with people?” She nodded, and we went to work.

Admittedly, she was a bit uncomfortable at first, but she took my advice to heart and worked hard to put it into practice. After she met with the client, she called me, elated. “Nailed it,” was all she said. “Thank you so much.”

I’m now going to share with you the suggestions I gave her, and I want to note that they’re tactics that many of the best business leaders use everyday to nail every meeting and leave a lasting, positive impression on clients:

1. Avoid PowerPoint

It’s no secret that PowerPoint has historically been the most common platform used for business presentations. No matter your industry, you’ve probably seen dozens, if not hundreds, of the same old slideshow. Not only is it easy for your message to get buried in a typical PowerPoint presentation, but it’s also easy to lose the attention of your audience if it looks like something they’ve seen before.

Instead, find new and creative ways to engage with the group—create a dialogue rather than a monologue. Storytelling is an especially effective tool according to the Harvard Business Review. After all, we’ve been telling stories for thousands of years. Additionally, asking your clients questions about their lives outside the business world is a great way to connect in a meaningful way while beefing up your CRM and RBEs (relationship building extras).

2. Don’t Bring Bagels or Doughnuts

While bagels and doughnuts are undeniably tasty, they share something in common with a PowerPoint presentation: they’re overdone.

Dare to be original. Bring treats or drinks that are tailored to those specific clients on that specific day. If it’s a hot afternoon, for example, bring Popsicles. If it’s cold, shoot for hot chocolate and apple cider. The point here is to personalize the meeting as much as possible, thereby communicating to your clients that this is not just another sales pitch, and that you value their time. It shows that you’ve thought out every detail, from the snacks to your core message.

3. Be Authentic

Experienced business people are pros at picking out the inauthentic, the trite, and the fake. This means you have to stay true not only to yourself as an individual, but also to your business and what it stands for. Don’t make the meeting about you. By definition, partnerships are collaborative, so ask thoughtful questions, displaying a genuine interest in helping solve your client’s problems. The more you ask, the more you’ll learn. In turn, this helps you become the best possible partner to their business.

4. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Just because you aren’t creating a slideshow doesn’t mean you’re off the hook when it comes to preparing for a client meeting. In fact, without the slides, all eyes are on you and you alone, so it’s essential that you’re ready to step up. There’s nothing more painful than sitting through an ill-prepared or poorly improvised presentation, so put in the work beforehand, come up with a plan, and practice.

This doesn’t mean you need to develop a script—in fact, making adjustments as your presentation progresses is critical, according to Fast Company. But you need to have an extremely clear sense of what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. The more natural—and therefore authentic—you are during your presentation, the more powerful it will be for your audience.

5. Research Every Person in the Meeting

As part of your preparation, you need to do your research—and not just on the company and the benefits of a viable partnership. I’m talking about researching each and every person who will be in the meeting. Connect with them on LinkedIn, follow them on Twitter, and read anything they’ve published if it’s out there. Knowing something unique about the people you are going to meet will not only help you connect with them on a deeper level—it will also show that you’ve done your homework and that you’re committed to the partnership.

6. Don’t Sell

Again, don’t make the meeting about you or your company. They have access to the internet, so they already know what they need to know (otherwise, you wouldn’t be in their conference room). Instead, become a consultative partner—show them that yours is a collaborative relationship, not a transactional one.

08 Oct 18:03

Work Down the Marketing Funnel with Facebook Advertising

by Sabrina Turman

There was a time when Facebook was considered by some as a passing fad and perceived as something businesses could never really benefit from. Over time, the skeptics were proven wrong. Today, Facebook is not only the world’s biggest social network, with 1.5 billion users, but it’s also one the biggest drivers of social referral traffic and it provides the largest digital advertising opportunity since search. It’s the one social network that ALL marketers simply cannot ignore.

The dilemma is that Facebook advertising offers a limitless number of affordable options to grow your business. The platform gives you the ability to create multiple ad creatives and emphasize unique value propositions to highly-targeted audience segments on different devices and at different times. With so many possibilities, it’s incredibly easy to mess up or waste money on objectives that never convert into leads or sales.

Instead of a simple one-step process of targeting people who don’t know your brand or product, you instead strive to understand the customer journey of your target in order to market them more effectively. All people will go through an awareness, consideration, and decision stage at various times and speeds, so it’s important that you touch upon them all at one point or another.

Here’s how to set up a Facebook advertising sales funnel that will help you to avoid flushing your Facebook ad budget down the drain and give you more consistent results. We recommend focusing on three objectives at a time — all the time:

Step 1: Attract Relevant Visitors (Top of the Funnel)

When constructing your Facebook Sales Funnel, the initial goal is always to attract visitors to your website and build a large audience in the most efficient and cheapest possible way. Problem is, 99% of visitors aren’t ready to purchase or convert. They need to discover and engage with you first.

This step helps separate those who are potential customers from those who aren’t by providing no-strings-attached, helpful content. Because there are millions of stories to compete against within users’ newsfeeds and attention spans, the content needs to be awesome, unique, and highly relevant. Instead of highlighting your company info or products, highlight your target audience’s interests, quirks, and their problems.



  1. The objective of this campaign should be Clicks to Website.
  2. Within this campaign, promote a blog post or a unique content piece that solves a problem and doesn’t sell anything. Those who would be interested in the solution that this blog post offers need to be your target audience.
  3. Audience targeting for initial website visitors should be relatively broad to start. That means you’re looking for people with a specific interest in mind, within a certain area (like the countries where you sell).
  4. Since the goal is driving site visits, the lowest Cost per Website click is ideal. So set up a bid optimized for website clicks or engagement (oCPM).
  5. You’ll also need to place the Facebook pixel on your website, so that you can create a website custom audience from the people you will attract to your site with your content (more on that in step 2).

Step 2: Lead Generation (Middle of the Funnel)

Great, you got a bunch of relevant traffic in the door. Now it’s time to sell, right? Of course not! You don’t yet have full trust.

At this point, we have people who have read our helpful blog posts. This tells us that they are in our target audience. So now let’s take them a step further in the Facebook Sales Funnel to get those web visitors to become leads before selling them.

We do this by offering something of value in exchange for pieces of their contact information. You’ll want to provide immediate gratification in a quick, easy-to-digest format. Think lead magnets: host a webinar, offer an ebook, send a reminder to sign up for your newsletter, or present them with a similar free offer.


This is an important step that is often missed. By collecting email addresses, you can reach these potential customers with your promotions in two places: Email and Facebook.


  1. Your objective should be Website Conversions.
  2. Audience targeting will mostly include people that you just attracted in the last step with your low-barrier, helpful content. Since you placed a Facebook pixel in the previous step, you can now create a create a website custom audience. Specifically, your website visitors over the past 30 or 60 days.
  3. Optimize for conversions, and stick primarily with Facebook defaults.


Step 3: Convert Customers (Bottom of the Funnel)

The hardest part is over. Now it’s time to ring the cash register by converting hot leads into paying customers.

If you attracted the right visitors and were successful in building trust with them, getting this audience to convert should be a straightforward process. That means you don’t need no hard-selling tactics.


  1. The objective of your campaign for this step should be Website Conversions.
  2. The key to creating effective ads that convert is to intimately focus them on a specific buyer persona. Keep things simple and to the point, highlighting benefits.What you don’t want to do is now push away those people you’ve spent so much time nurturing.
  3. If your product is very expensive, and usually requires a high-touch, consultative approach, make them an offer they can’t refuse.
  4. Audience targeting should again be specific, focusing on custom audiences made up largely of your existing leads (while excluding any customers).
  5. Your bidding should be optimized around Daily Unique Reach instead of sticking with the defaults. Why? Because we’re targeting a much smaller, much more relevant audience and we want our ads to reach as many of the people who registered in step 2 as possible. That way, if they don’t buy after a month of ads, we can stop wasting our money on them.

This is one of the processes that separates the most successful brands on Facebook from everyone else who claim that it “doesn’t work for them“. In all cases, they are focused far too much on quantity and not enough on quality.

07 Oct 16:37

4 Strange Things To Optimize Landing Page Conversions

by Kevin Ho

4 Strange Things To Optimize Landing Page Conversions

Something weird happens to someone when they watch an entire season of a show over a weekend.

You can start seeing things… Strange things…

This happened to me when I recently watched all 8 episodes of the Netflix series, Stranger Things in a single day. (No judging!)

Now I’m not a TV buff, but I can draw parallels when I see them. And for me that came when I noticed some of the strange things happening on the TV screen were beginning to happen off it.

When I got into work on Monday – the home of landing page research and conversion rate optimization – I couldn’t help but start to connect the dots.

That’s why after 8 episodes of Stranger Things back to back to back (to back to back to back…), I’m excited to present to you 4 “strange” landing page conversion strategies that can help you increase your conversion rates.

Let’s binge it!

Strange Landing Page Conversion Trick #1: Pre-Filled Form Fields

4 Strange Things To Optimize Landing Page Conversions

A pre-filled form field can be kind of spooky.

And that’s because pre-filled form fields take data that you know about your leads and use it to fill in any relevant fields.

This can range from filling out a single form field (like email or first name), to every single form field which only requires the visitor/lead to press the CTA button to convert.

Take a look at a completely pre-filled form field from a KissMetrics webinar (notice how the form fields on the left load pre-filled):

4 Strange Things To Optimize Landing Page Conversions

Using this technique, KissMetrics was able to receive a 30% boost in landing page conversions on this page.

For step-by-step instructions on how to set up pre-filled form fields in your next landing page, check out Wishpond’s knowledge-base article.

Strange Landing Page Conversion Trick #2: Auto-Select Form Fields

Auto-selecting form fields in akin to walking into a room and the lights turning on automatically.

It might catch you off guard, but at the same time you can’t deny that it’s convenient.

Auto-select form fields is a landing page feature that can go unnoticed by the untrained eye.

And that’s because nothing physically changes on the page itself. The only difference is that the first form field is automatically selected, enabling users the ability to instantly start typing — making it easier for them to convert.

Take a look at this example from a Wishpond landing page:

4 Strange Things To Optimize Landing Page Conversions

Using the auto-select form field option we were able to increase our product signup rate conversion rate by 45% with a 95% confidence level.

To enable the auto-select form field option, simply select “Auto-focus on the first form field” within the Wishpond landing page builder.

4 Strange Things To Optimize Landing Page Conversions

Strange Landing Page Conversion Trick #3: Click Popups Instead of Forms

A button vs. an on-page form, which will convert better?

Tests have proven that the button will convert better, even if it opens a popup with the same number of form fields.

But how does that make sense? Aren’t people converting on the same number of form fields?

(cue Stranger Things soundtrack)

The fact is that people are afraid of commitment. By allowing them to click a CTA button that opens up a click popup, you can effectively ease users into a conversion rather than showing them all the steps they need to take to convert right off the bat.

Take a look at this example of a form vs. a button.

4 Strange Things To Optimize Landing Page Conversions

This is one easy but effective strategy to help increase your total number of conversions, while still obtaining the same amount of information.

Strange Landing Page Conversion Trick #4: Dynamic Text Replacement

4 Strange Things To Optimize Landing Page Conversions

When words start to spell themselves out, or when words on a page automatically change on their own, things can get a little scary.

But luckily for us, dynamically changing text isn’t a bad thing. In fact, dynamic text can help to increase landing page conversion rates.

By personalizing a landing page based on what you know about your users, you can help create a more customized experience that describes a users:

  • Name
  • Location
  • Interests
  • And others

To add dynamic text, simply add in a merge tag using your landing page builder. Using Wishpond, it’s simple to insert any time you add text.

4 Strange Things To Optimize Landing Page Conversions

Wrapping Up

You might not associate landing page optimization with the hit TV series Stranger Things, but you have to admit that there are definitely some strange things that can contribute to a page’s conversion rate.

To recap, those are:

  • Pre-filled form fields
  • Auto-select form fields
  • Click popups instead of forms
  • Dynamic text replacements

Have a strange landing page conversion technique that’s worked for you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

07 Oct 16:31

Use Price to Get Attention; Pigeons Smarter Than CEOs?; Panama Feb 7 - 11

by Verne Harnish

"...insights for scaleups"


Companies are living, breathing organisms. As such, the more they can mimic nature, the faster they can scale.
  Verne Harnish, Co-Chair, Geoversity

7-Minutes to Mastery (ScalingUp Club) -- I was so impressed, we hired Ari Meisel's team to teach us to "hack" our work using his Less Doing, More Living tools. This 7-minute clip provides one of his many powerful tools. More below, but first...

How to Stop Customers from Fixating on Price -- Pricing is one of your most important strategic tools and this HBR article shows how you can use pricing to grab the attention of customers and JOLT them into reconsidering your value proposition using four pricing strategies. One is using "willful overpricing." This chart speaks volumes:

Please take 4 minutes (yes, a long time) and study the four pricing strategies and then discuss at you next marketing meeting (you have one, right?) which one might be ideal for you to gain more attention from customers.

Pigeons Resist Misguided Leaders -- we can all learn something from homing pigeons. This NY Times article highlights research that shows when the leader heads in the wrong direction:

Either the lead pigeon recognizes that it has no clue and falls back into the flock, letting birds that know where they are going take over, or the flock collectively decides that the direction that it is taking just doesn't feel right, and it doesn't follow.

Take 1 minute to watch the video accompanying the article. Now they are trying to understand how this all happens so they can program robots to make better decisions than humans! The lesson for leaders? Encourage a culture which allows for the "crowd" to do what is right. And personally know when to get out of the way and let others lead.

Geoversity Feb 7 - 12, Panama -- those scaling fastest are relying on more organic or biological models (think pigeons!). Join me and 40 chosen leaders for five days in Panama (half in the city; half in the jungle via helicopter) to explore more deeply how:

  • Biological systems are informing strategic and competitive decision-making
  • Biomimicry is helping companies create new innovative products and services
  • Nature is instructing leaders on how to build not just resilient but "anti-fragile" organizations
  • Companies are embracing sustainability and eco-efficiency to drive increased revenues and profits
  • Workplace design is being influenced by natural environs
  • Executives are finding in nature the peace and quiet they need to unleash their best creative and problem-solving talents

$4995 inclusive - just need to get to Panama City (PTY) via lots of direct flights. I'm co-chair of Geoversity and have co-designed the program with Harvard and Fortune to bring down the top thought leaders in this evolving space. For more information and to apply.

LawnDartz iPhone App -- speaking of nature (your own backyard), checkout this new 3D game app LawnDartz that is one of the first to use the new Force Touch for iPhone 6 and 7s. Notes Kyle Herman, president for JustJump Studio, "Our newest app brings back the nostalgia of playing backyard family games." The older style graphics channels a 1960's vibe with iconic symbols of the era, including ranch style homes, muscle cars, and metal swing sets. Yet it allows you to play your own choice of music and to throw other objects (let your imagination run wild). It also includes polling functionality with trending topics posted to the LawnDartz Facebook page. Why am I pushing a game app? Hey, it's my nephew's new company - blood is thicker... - and it's a blast and a blast from the past.

From Russia with Love -- Tuesday I, along with Raj Sisodia (Conscious Capitalism author and founder) keynoted the Atlasses Business Forum in Moscow - 3000 entrepreneurs and business leaders. We'll be launching our ScaleUpU initiative there as a way to help stimulate the economy which everyone knows is needed. And meeting with several EO and YPO members, they were much more upbeat than two years ago. Anyway, here's a link to a photo of the storyboard they created from my 90 minute keynote.

7-Minutes to Mastery (Scaling Up Club) -- In Less Doing, More Living, efficiency expert Ari Meisel details his apps/tools/virtual services which will streamline your work and make everything easier. This 7-minute video will help you understand how to automate, using low or no-cost apps like IFTTT, much of what takes you hours to do now. To access the clip, go here!


Have you ever wondered if working with a coach might accelerate your company's growth, exponentially? Do you have what it takes to move the dial from good to great? Click here to watch Gazelles International President Keith Cupp describes the four most important attributes of successful clients. Contact us at for more information.

And if you're interested in becoming a world-class certified Gazelles International coach, please go to for more information. If you determine that we're a fit and wish to join our premier organization, we invite you to contact our Dir. of Coach Engagement at or 877.217.2253 ext.700.


Align Software puts everyone on the Same Page - Literally! See, in real time every person in your organization and how they are progressing on their priorities - alongside how they Align to the Company Priorities! Scale Up your Rockefeller Habits implementation with - on your computer and on your phone.

Better Book Club -- What's your team reading? Increase your books read per team member. Easy, Proven, and in the Cloud at

07 Oct 16:29

How To Craft a Killer Blog Post Without Writing a Word

by John Nemo

This innovative software solution makes it easy for you to pen pitch-perfect blog posts without having to write a single sentence.

In today’s marketplace, content is currency.

Creating and sharing valuable content that helps your target audience solve a key problem or overcome a challenge is the price of admission if you want a prospect’s time, attention and interest online.

Here’s the good news: Even if you’re not Stephen King, you can still create (and share) quality blog posts online.

Even better, those posts can be “written” in the exact tone and voice that you use when talking to prospects about your business.

Where Speaking Meets Writing

Growing up as the son of two English professors, and later working as a journalist and author, I’ve been around the written word all my life.

As a result, I tend to take writing – especially in the business or marketplace setting – for granted.

For instance, many people I meet are great at explaining their business or how they help specific audiences when we’re talking on the phone or in person.

Writing it all out, however, can be far more difficult.

Thankfully, there’s a solution that makes it easy to convert your spoken words into written blog posts.

It’s called SpeechPad, and I’ve used it for years to create transcriptions for Podcasts, training videos and other audio or video materials I create and share online.

From Talking to Blogging

You can use an online transcription service like SpeechPad to instantly turn you talking about your business or an important issue in your industry into a written blog post.

All you have to do is record yourself on your phone or computer. It doesn’t have to be high-quality or fancy audio, either. Just good enough for the transcription service to understand what you’re saying.

Once you’ve finished recording yourself, you send over your audio or video file to SpeechPad, and within 24 to 72 hours they’ll send you back a cleaned up, spell­checked Microsoft Word document transcription file.

As of this writing, their rates range from $1.00 per minute to $3.00 per minute depending on how fast of a turnaround you want.

Low Cost, High Value

So how much talking do you have to do in order to create a “written” blog post?

Well, most of us speak at a rate of around 100 to 150 words per minute.

That means, if you verbally riff for 3 or 4 minutes about an issue in your industry, a tip you love giving your customers or a piece of technology you’re excited about, you’ll end up with a 300-600 word “written” blog post.

Ready, Set, Publish

Once you get back your transcription from SpeechPad, you just need to give the document a quick proofread, add in a headline and relevant links, and you’ve got a finished blog post ready to publish.

All for less than five bucks, assuming you sent over a 3-4 minute audio or video clip.

How easy is that?

(FREE RESOURCE GUIDE: 26 Client-Generating, Revenue-Increasing Tools for Small Business Owners, Coaches and Consultants)

Again, whether you like it or not, you must create (and share) valuable content in order to capture the attention of potential clients and customers online.

When you do it using your own “voice” and then transcribe that audio into a written blog post with a tool like SpeechPad, it works extremely well on all fronts.

Not only does it save you the time and fear of trying to “write like you talk,” but many readers also enjoy a blog that’s written in a breezy, conversational tone as well.

Best of all, that type of “writing” is easy to understand and makes you relatable and likable, because it showcases your true personality and conversation style.

So there you have it – no more excuses about why you aren’t blogging more!

07 Oct 16:29

The ROI Of A Strong Employer Brand

by Tor Goldfield

There is widespread recognition that brands create measurable value among consumers. Put simply, research consistently shows that people are willing to pay a higher price for branded products or services than they would for a comparable unbranded version. Known as brand equity, this price premium is the result of a combination of factors including the level of awareness and the perceptions people have of that brand.

This enhanced consumer response is the reason why organisations around the world spend thousands, if not millions, on creating and maintaining their brand. And it works. Even the most cynical consumer will be influenced to some degree by their thoughts and feelings about certain brands; attitudes that develop insidiously over time in response to everything the brand says and does (or doesn’t do).

Organisations around the world spend thousands, if not millions, on creating and maintaining their brand

Recognising the value

Given the acknowledgement that brands influence consumer behaviour, it is interesting that the concept of employer branding only emerged in the 1990s. The idea that every organisation offers an explicit and implicit value proposition to its workforce has gained traction over the intervening years, and many companies now recognise that existing and potential employees are affected both positively and negatively by the image they have of that company as a place to work.

Despite this, it can be argued that many organisations don’t always give due care and attention to their reputation as an employer. Companies that understand the financial implications of a strong consumer brand may not appreciate the full extent to which employer brand directly affects the bottom line. That can lead to a situation where employer branding and employee engagement are undervalued and seen as a “nice to have” rather than an essential element of successful business performance.

Establishing a causal link

We chatted to a couple of people who are well versed in the ROI potential of employer branding – Kirsten Davidson, head of employer branding at Glassdoor, and Stephen Cheliotis, CEO of the Centre for Brand Analysis – who shared their thoughts on how this relatively intangible activity adds up to distinctly tangible results.

“There are a lot of studies showing that companies listed as best places to work, or which are known as good places to work, financially outperform other organisations”, says Kirsten. “For example, when we looked at the Glassdoor Best Places to Work list over the last eight years we found that, on average, those businesses outperformed the S&P 500 by 122%.

Companies listed as best places to work financially outperform other organisations

“That’s great, but the question is whether this is a simple correlation or if there is a causal link between employee satisfaction and financial performance. Last summer the University of Kansas conducted a study using our data that provided valuable insights in this area. For those who are unfamiliar with the way Glassdoor works, employees and candidates have the opportunity to rate companies using a star ranking from one to an exceptional five out of five. This particular study showed that companies which improve their employee satisfaction scores on the site by one star see a 7.9% improvement in their market value. This tells us that companies with dissatisfied employees are not achieving their full potential.”

The power of a strong employer brand

Stephen believes this uplift is the result of various factors: “When we ask people whether they deem their employer’s problems to be their own, and how committed they are to fixing those issues, we see that leading brands markedly outperform weaker brands. Employees who are truly connected to the organisation in this way have a demonstrable impact on the way the business operates, which in turn translates into a positive effect on the bottom line.

“Having a strong employer brand is also about attracting and retaining the best talent. That can be challenging, particularly if your business isn’t well known, you are working in a less than glamorous sector or are recruiting for broad roles that are not sector specific, such as a new finance director. Building your brand will make it easier to recruit top candidates and may also mean that those high quality recruits are prepared to look beyond financial incentives, such as the salary or benefits package. That can be particularly helpful if you are unable to compete on those metrics but can offer an attractive alternative in terms of working environment and culture.”

Having a strong employer brand is also about attracting and retaining the best talent

Glassdoor research supports the idea that people look for more than money when making career decisions. When the company asked over 220,000 employees about the drivers of satisfaction at work the findings revealed that salary and financial compensation aren’t even in the top three. In fact, they come in fifth behind factors such the opportunity for development and how closely the organisation’s values match their own.

Kirsten makes the additional point that employer branding isn’t simply a case of telling a cool, slick story, “it’s about telling an authentic, differentiated story so people know what they’re getting into and what’s expected from them. Those are the people who are going to stay and see things through if there’s a bump in the road.” That alone can be the difference between stability that underpins growth and a high staff turnover that makes it hard to gain traction and move forward.

It’s about telling an authentic, differentiated story so people know what they’re getting into

A cross-business approach

Both Kirsten and Stephen highlight the fact that businesses will only discover the full extent to which employer branding and employee engagement deliver positive financial results when these elements sit firmly at the heart of the business. The most enlightened companies embed a focus on culture, values and staff satisfaction across the organisation, from the senior leadership team down, rather than delegating these considerations to one person or department. Taking this approach ensures that the employer brand becomes as much a driving force in operational success as the consumer brand, and one which deserves and receives just as much attention.

Kirsten Davidson, Head of Employer Brand, Glassdoor

Kirsten is responsible for sustaining and growing Glassdoor’s vibrant Employer Brand while navigating the challenges that come with hyper growth. Her work includes leveraging Glassdoor’s powerful data to provide insight and learnings that help global employers navigate a new world where the lines between recruiting, marketing, brand, and culture are increasingly blurred.

Stephen Cheliotis, CEO of The Centre for Brand Analysis (TCBA) and Chair of the UK Consumer Superbrands®, Business Superbrands® and CoolBrands® Councils

Stephen is a leading brand consultant and strategy advisor to both established and challenger brands in a wide range of b2c and b2b markets. He undertakes a range of brand evaluation and consultancy projects that inform and shape brand, marketing and business strategies to enhance brand reputation and business growth. Stephen also works with marketing agencies to develop their intellectual property and tools to help drive their planning processes, new business outreach and fame.

07 Oct 16:28

The Evolution of Cloud Services for Businesses: 3 Updates

by Kris Spisak

Utilizing cloud services for your business isn’t a new idea, but it has evolved over the past few years. Today, the Cloud functions less as a supplement to your business and more as an essential element of the whole. Team collaboration, file storage, and collection and analysis of Big Data are all easier and more secure than ever with cloud services for businesses.

In 2015, worldwide cloud computing market revenues increased 28%, and this trend isn’t expected to slow any time soon. So what does a business today need to know about the cloud?

cloud services for businesses

Shifting Cloud Computing Powers?

Some of the biggest players in business cloud services have included Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, Cisco, HPE, Salesforce, and Alphabet’s Google division, but recently one of these businesses has made some big moves to strengthen its place in this growing market.

In a major shift, Google’s Cloud Platform and a variety of their cloud-based services have been combined and rebranded as Google Cloud. This move comes at the same time that Google Apps for Work is being rebranded as G Suite, which will include Docs, Drive, Gmail, Calendar, and Hangouts, among other applications, and Gmail users are being given a new option with Inbox. Focuses are being sharpened at Alphabet, and the business world is paying attention.

Google Cloud might well be a power to contend with. After Google’s late-2015 hiring of VMware co-founder Diane Green; their recent successes as the cloud-based partner for Pokemon Go, which showed cloud-based scalability and agility at its finest; and their recent announcement of integration with Particle, an Internet of Things cloud platform and hardware provider, the only question seems to be, “how will Google distinguish themselves within the cloud services marketplace?” In these early stages, their answer seems to be with the use of machine learning, a type of artificial intelligence, but time will tell.

Choosing a cloud services provider is a bit like making a bet on the future—both your business’s and the tech industry’s—but whoever it is that you choose, make sure you’re aware of the latest moves from all sides.

The Rise of Hybrid Cloud Computing

The growth of cloud adoption and the shifting players aren’t the only trends to note. “Over 70% of heavy cloud users are thinking in terms of a ‘hybrid’ cloud strategy,” according to the International Data Corporation (IDC)’s study, CloudView 2016, and “over 40% of heavy cloud users plan to spend money on open source and standards projects.”

These findings make two dramatic points:

  1. The Cloud is becoming an essential part of many businesses, but a single public or private provider is not the only answer for all of a business’s needs.
  2. The value of custom-built web applications and open source development continues to have a marked role in enterprise-level solutions.

And the IDC is not alone in these findings. A recent F5 Networks’ survey found that 81% of organizations they surveyed are “operating or planning to operate in a hybrid cloud environment.” Their survey included over 3,000 businesses.

Chief Information Security Officers or Cloud-Focused Partners are Vital

With the rise of hybrid cloud computing, there is also a rise in complication—a complication in understanding the technology, in understanding the relationships between the internal and external systems, in communicating what the best practices should be for a company, and in keeping all data secure.

Whether the answer to this dilemma is an external cloud computing partner or the hiring of a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) depends on the size and needs of the business, but putting someone in the role to focus on the details of the cloud is essential.


The question is no longer whether utilizing the Cloud is a wise business strategy, but the question of “how” still remains. The correct answer will vary from business to business, and it will likely change over time.

Information technology (IT) infrastructure is a major player in your business’s success, whether internal web applications or external cloud solutions. As with any business decision, be sure you are well informed before planning your next course of action.

07 Oct 16:28

Why Phone Numbers Are Still an Essential Piece of the Sales and Marketing Mix

by Tad Nikolich

In a world where it seems as though most costumer communication happens online, there is still a very valuable reason to keep your phone presence a prominent piece of your sales and marketing mix. A recent study found that social media channels handle just three percent of all customer communications, which is stark contrast to the 68 percent of consumers that get in touch with companies by dialing a business’ phone number. (Source: CallCentreHelper) While social media engagement on sites such as Facebook and Twitter is essential, the data continues to show that social media venues are still far from becoming the first channels of choice for many consumers when they have a real need. There are many creative ways to leverage phone numbers in both sales and marketing scenarios. Here are just a few new ways and valuable reasons to rethink your voice communication messaging plans.

Source: Cloud Phone


Recall and retention — Depending on your geographic locations and business needs you may want to acquire a standard phone number for local cities or states where you operate to convey your local presence. Vanity and toll free numbers also serve a purpose for businesses looking to simplify the phone numbers listed for their business, or perhaps appear larger. However, vanity numbers (think 1-800-FLOWERS) while an attractive marketing tool can cost significantly more and are in short supply, making it more and more difficult to find one that matches your brand or value proposition. But when it comes to recall, the results are compelling. Some studies have shown that consumers have a 58 percent average higher recall rate of vanity toll-free numbers over URLs used in advertising. Respondents to a study by 800Response said they find it easier to recall a vanity 800 number over a URL after listening to ads featuring both response tools. (Source: 800Response) The lesson: take the time to define who your customers are, what their needs are and where they are located so you can pick the right number, or numbers, for your business. The cost of a toll-free or vanity number may be worth the cost in order to encourage higher recall and acquisition rates.

Entertainment value — Look for ways to branch out beyond your main phone number with creative ways to ways to use temporary phone numbers for events and marketing promotion. Virtual numbers, which can forward to your main phone number, are great for this purpose. One creative way to do this with a live event, either in person or online, is to take advantage of the fact that most people have their phones on them and give them a way to interact with you by texting or calling a phone number for a chance to interact with your brand. One interactive example may be to tell the audience to look for hidden numbers throughout the presentation and if participants piece the clues together the result will be a phone number to call or text, which then plays a recording or links them to the next clue, ultimately leading participants to a location in the audience for the final prize. This simple means of leveraging IVR and SMS technology can be highly engaging and low budget.

Quickly establish a direct dialogue — What’s more personal than a phone call? Other than an in-person handshake the opportunity to talk to a live customer on the phone offers not only educational information for the brand, but it offers businesses a rare window that the customer has opened into their personal world in which you have the opportunity to delight or disappoint depending on the preparedness of you and your staff. But don’t take too long. According to some estimates up to 75 percent of customers believe it takes too long to reach a live agent. If you offer some sort of live service (phone or live chat), make sure you put customers in touch with a live person in less than two minutes. Failure to respond swiftly creates frustration for customers which can turn an opportunity to delight into an unhappy customer who might instead walk away or share a negative experience. (Source: Harris Interactive) And this isn’t just true for new customers. Keeping your current customers happy has a cost associated to it as well. It is 6 to 7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one. (Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs.)

Make your VIPs feel special — Rethink your phone number strategy a bit and give select groups of customers their own line for immediate VIP status. This doesn’t have to be a large undertaking operationally for business owners. With virtual numbers for example you can create phone numbers for your best clients but still have all those calls be routed to the phone number or device of your choosing and routed to the appropriate staff for optimal experiences. Brands can experiment by listing a phone number on their social media channels as well. For example, consider posting a phone number on your brand’s Facebook page with a line that says “Need help from a real human? Give us a call. We always answer.” The phone can be a life saver for customers who want faster service and support and can save you a lot of headache by removing the conversation from a public venue. Just make sure you deliver on your promise to answer the phone!

Broaden the conversation — Phone numbers can be enhanced with other sales and marketing tools, such as SMS messaging to take customer communications to a new level of engagement. Experiment by incorporating services into your communication mix that will send text message coupon codes to customers who opt-in, or prompt the customer with an option to enter a contest or other incentive such as event. Deepening the dialogue allows you to create a growing population of prospects and begin to track when people are interacting with you, from where and the kinds of offers they prefer.

So while online channels have an important role to play in the sales and marketing mix, the data shows that your phone presence remains a regular touch point for your brand. Plan your voice communications content, style, and customer experience in a way that reflects your image and marketing goals. Don’t overlook places where you can use your number creatively, even on social media. Make sure you have contact information listed on marketing collateral beyond business cards. It sounds elementary but often when creating brochures and postcards, basic elements can be overlooked. Consider using dedicated numbers for those pieces other than your main line so you can track success of these pieces. Thanks to cloud enabled phone systems you can now have as many numbers as you need all routed to and managed in one location in the cloud, making your life behind the scenes much easier and improving your customer’s experience.

07 Oct 16:27

5 Phone Selling Secrets That'll Explode Your Sales

by (Marc Wayshak)


More and more salespeople seem to think that social networking, fancy email apps, and other modern tech tools are the only way to prospect effectively today. As a result, many of them neglect to use one of the most powerful prospecting tools out there: The good old telephone.

Prospects today receive fewer phone calls than ever before -- and that’s why it’s time for you to pick up the phone and start dialing. 

Embrace the telephone in the right way and you’ll watch your sales increase dramatically. Check out these five phone selling keys that will explode your sales numbers and help you crush your competition.

1) Call prospects early or late.

Your competitors call prospects between the hours of 9:00 am and 5:00 pm. This is one of the biggest and most common phone sales mistakes. Stand out from the crowd by calling prospects outside this timeframe. This will enables you to get through to high-level prospects who normally have a gatekeeper screen their calls.

Think about it: Important prospects are frequently at the office before 8:30 am, and they stay at work way past 5:30 pm. But during these off hours, their phone gatekeepers are nowhere to be found -- and you’re more likely to get through to your prospect on the phone. 

Watch this video to learn more about this phone sales strategy, and others like it:

2) Drop the enthusiasm.

When you start your sales calls with an enthusiastic “Hey! How are you!”, your ideal prospects will immediately identify you as a pushy salesperson. Nobody likes a salesy phone call. Rather than turning on the cheerful, loud voice you’re used to employing on the phone, try using a low-energy, calm, genuine voice with your prospects. When you drop the enthusiasm, you’ll come across as more trustworthy -- and your prospects will be more likely to listen to what you have to say.

3) Interrupt the pattern.

It’s great to have a phone script -- unless your script sounds just like everyone else’s. When you jump on a phone sales call, look for ways to break the pattern of what your prospect expects to hear from a salesperson on the phone.

Try a low-key and genuine opening like, “Hi, George, Marc Wayshak calling. Did I catch you in the middle of something over there?”

Your prospect won’t expect you to start with a line like that. An opener that’s lower energy and phrased a bit differently is a great way to stand out from the crowd.

4) Put contingencies in place.

Prospects are busy -- and sometimes their primary goal is to get off the phone as quickly as possible. But whenever a prospect tries to hang up on you, break out your contingency plan, and just hang in there.

If a prospect says, “I’m actually in the middle of something right now,” try responding, “That’s totally fair. Would you mind if I take 30 seconds just to tell you why I called? If it doesn’t make sense to you, feel free to hang up after 30 seconds. Does that sound OK?”

When you implement this easy phone sales tip, you’re more likely to catch your prospect off guard -- and keep them on the phone. 

5) Focus on the prospect’s challenges.

Most salespeople start each call by talking about how great their product or service is. In reality, prospects don’t care. They only care about how to solve their deepest frustrations. Switch up your opening by mentioning a few challenges you’ve observed your customers facing. Ask your prospects if they’re dealing with any of the same challenges. This will increase your value and get your prospects talking about what matters most: how you can help them solve their problems.

Use this five phone selling keys to master the art of phone sales. You’ll dominate your competition and connect with more prospects by phone than ever before. For even more powerful strategies to increase your sales, check out this 9-Day Sales Intensive to transform your approach.

HubSpot CRM

07 Oct 16:27

How to Improve Your Presentation Before You Even Open PowerPoint

PowerPoint files, and the information contained within them, are a valuable business (not just marketing or sales) asset. Presentation management unlocks the value of that asset, empowering everyone to make better presentations--before they ever open PowerPoint. Read the full article at MarketingProfs
07 Oct 16:27

6 Simple Yet Powerful Tools to Fire Up Your LinkedIn Marketing

by Disha Dinesh

Considering that marketing is an effort intensive process that involves multitasking, it is useful to have technology to organize and streamline the job. There are very select tools available to aid marketing on LinkedIn, but the functionality what they offer can help you create a dramatic difference in your marketing performance. This article highlights 6 such tools and what you can do with them.


(Source: SlideShare 101)

SlideShare is an excellent extension to LinkedIn’s professional feel. On the platform, you can share content in the presentation format – a great format for re-purposing content. You could turn an old blog post, podcast or video into a quick bunch of slides highlighting your best points, examples and studies to support them. Some companies even share presentations from the latest conferences or seminars. Every infographic that you’ve created should also go up on SlideShare. The platform has a ‘Clip’ feature, allowing users to save and reuse a slide elsewhere, and that shareability is great for branding, if you have branded your slides/infographic. Need more convincing to use SlideShare? The platform has over 60 million unique visitors each month, and slides from top brands like Heinz or LinkedIn itself receive tens to hundreds of thousands of views. At a small cost, the company also offers users analytics – referral numbers, sources and content performance.



So much of marketing is now reliant on data. Marketers prefer to build strategy on what they know will work rather than go into the process blind. While LinkedIn has recently opened up their platform to data tracking, there are some insights that external apps like Unmetric can provide. For instance, Unmetric can shadow your competitors, assess their content and tell you what’s working for them. You can also benchmark your progress against your competitors’ on the app. If you regularly run marketing campaigns on LinkedIn, Unmetric gives you access to post-campaign analytics to measure how your audience reacted to it.

LinkedIn is extensively used for recruitment by many marketers. If you’re one of them, and want to learn how to post jobs on the platform, Unmetric creates a collective picture of job postings on LinkedIn, their performance and helps you identify the best way to approach the task.



It isn’t enough to be great at what you do, to stand out in today’s market you have to be great at content. While you could obsess and create all of your content by yourself, you can’t be certain of giving your audience the best value that’s available in your niche. So, branch-out. Follow the best of the best in your niche and curate more value than you can create for your audience. On DrumUp, you can pick ten excellent content sources for thought-leadership content – Neil Patel, Jeff Bullas, Social Media Examiner and the works, and choose to receive recommendations of or to auto-post their content – while adding your own comments in the post description field. With click-to-add @mention and hashtag recommendations, you can create a high-quality presence on LinkedIn with ease. The advanced scheduling features help you target your audience better, and repeat posting and the content library ensure that you make the most of the value you create. If you’re struggling with limited reach, the app also offers an employee advocacy module and a promote-your-post option for amplification.



How do you know you’re doing well on LinkedIn, or any social platform? You check the pulse of your page, or calculate its impact score. You can use Klout to do it for you. What if the results are bad, and it turns out that you aren’t as strongly positioned as you imagined? You work at increasing engagement on that platform. You go back to your content strategy and identify which decisions are letting you down. While you could do all of that, there is also a quick-fix. Do something dramatic that you know will work. Using Klout, you can implement a user generated content campaign. How do you get users to create content for you? You ask, with some help from the app. On Klout, you can target specific groups of an audience that are likely to include your brand influencers. The app helps you encourage and excite those influencers to generate content and then to run campaigns driven by that content. Finally, to track the effect of the content, you can use in-app analytics.



Data and industry insights do well on LinkedIn. An infographic is a great way to share data and insights and is in fact, one of the most-shared types of content. Venngage is a app that helps you create infographics. If you have considered making one, you know it is an onerous task. But if you work with a template that has already been created, and have tools to help you plug-in text, graphs and icons with ease, creating an infographic becomes a more doable task. The app stocks a bunch of images, graphs, icons and charts for users to choose from. Again, all you have to do is add your text, click-to-add charts and graphs, and download/publish your infographic. Seeing as it is so easy to make, and clearly successful as a content format, there’s no excuse to marketers not leveraging the potential. You’re finished piece can be uploaded as is to SlideShare, or cut into pieces to make slides to share in the presentation format.



IFTTT is a free-form integrator that allows you to connect apps and devices that you use. The app has a host of interesting recipes for social media platforms, and LinkedIn in particular, allowing you to be efficient and experimental with content. If you’re central social platform of focus isn’t LinkedIn, but you still want content on the platform, you can cross-post the content you’ve already created for other social platforms. For instance, you can automatically post your Facebook status update to LinkedIn, share tweets on LinkedIn or top posts from any site you like to the platform. If your Facebook posts are a little too informal for LinkedIn, and you don’t want the actual post to be share, but you want your LinkedIn followers/connections to access that content, you can simply have IFTTT post links to your Facebook content on LinkedIn. This tactic is simply excellent for cross-platform follower growth and is effortless to implement.

Do you have an app that belongs on this list? Seeing that LinkedIn apps are few in number, it’d be great if we could create a complete list.

07 Oct 16:25

How Long Does It Take For Inbound Marketing to Work?

by Ashley Irving

“Ashley, your plan is great and we’d like to give it a go. But we’re kinda curious. In your experience, how long does it take before we see results from inbound marketing?”

Any inbound marketing agency hates answering that question.

In today’s article, I’m going to shed some light on this topic to give you a clearer picture of what’s going on behind the scenes with inbound marketing.

Of course, it’ll be different for each business and the specific strategy and efforts you put in place. All I can guarantee is that if we stick to our game plan, great things will happen for you and your business – results you won’t get without a proper inbound marketing strategy in place.

Now if you’re ready, let’s start.

Inbound Marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.

runner-888016_640Unlike PPC, radio, or print ads, you won’t gain much momentum right away.

This is what I’m telling everybody, especially to prospective clients:

Trust, authority, and likability are the cornerstones of inbound marketing. You can’t earn these qualities in a span of days or weeks.

It’s that way for any aspect of our businesses and even in our personal lives.

You’re building a strong relationship to potential brand ambassadors – not just one-time clients. So bear in mind that you’re in for the long haul.

Rest assured, though, that what you plant today will exponentially grow, allowing you to reap the rewards many times over.

For example, high-quality content published consistently requires long hours to create (e.g. 1 to 2 weeks for a 3,000-word eBook and 3 – 12 weeks for a whitepaper).

Once published, these digital assets will work for you and build a good business for 1 to 5 years – even longer!

For example, I’ve had clients who are using the same eBook and white paper written for them last year. And till this day, these assets are attracting new visitors and converting high-paying customers.

Just be patient.

By now you might be wondering – as you should be – if there’s at least an estimated time before you see improvement.

I can say there is.

The number is 7

  • A study by the Corporate Executive Board found that buyers today are at most 70% through the sale before calling you.
  • MOZ, a well-known software company, states that it takes an average of 7 visits on their website before a visitor signs up for a FREE trial.
  • Most experts agree that inbound marketing won’t gain much momentum until the 7th month.

Earlier, I said we’re in for the long haul. I also said you have to be patient with it.

In my experience, a website isn’t performing well until the 7th month and beyond.

By then, I’ve posted more than 20 blog articles and countless social media posts. My articles have been featured on several sites and visitors have started commenting. I had enough knowledge and experience to make each article valuable – worthy of my visitor’s time.

How can you replicate (or exceed) the same feat?

My advice is to make each day count.

Inbound Marketing isn’t a magic pill

Remember, you’re building relationships.

The more you spend time creating and promoting high-quality content, the more you get inside your prospect’s circle of influence.

Great content hastens the growth of your influence and forces your way on top of organic search traffic – a position you have to strive for right from the start.

Could this work on YOUR business?


Is this the only strategy you’ll need?

Of course not.

Inbound marketing should become the foundation of your marketing effort. But it should work in tandem with other activities to empower your lead generation even more:

  • Trade shows
  • Speaking events
  • Direct mail
  • PPC
  • Book launches

Wrap Up

Like I said in the beginning, you should treat inbound marketing as a marathon, not a sprint.

By now you should realize how important patience is in applying inbound marketing.

And while it takes time, the results are rewarding.

It’s no wonder that more and more companies – both large and small scale – are switching to inbound marketing to hasten the growth of their business.

07 Oct 16:25

In buyers’ market, acquirers look to lock in management teams longer

by Connie Loizos
business-handshake Acquisitions are often celebrated in the press. But academic research suggests that 70 percent to 90 percent of mergers don’t succeed, owing to a wide variety of factors. Buyers overvalue the synergies they’ll derive, or they underestimate the impact of the associated costs, or they rely too heavily on assumptions about where a market is heading. Of course, another reason… Read More
07 Oct 16:24

4 Reasons Starting a Sales Call With “I Want” Is a Terrible Idea

by (Jeff Hoffman)


Actions speak louder than words. When salespeople are speaking with their prospects, they shouldn’t tell them what they want to do -- they should simply do it.

And yet, I find that reps often announce their intent during the first and last 30 seconds of a call or meeting -- a mistake, in my opinion.

What does “announcing intent” sound like in conversation? A dead giveaway of announcing intent is starting a sentence with “I want … ” or “I’d like to … ”

For example, salespeople will set the call agenda by saying something like, “I want to go over these four features,” or “I’d like to delve into your challenges around X.” At the end of the conversation, salespeople soften their close by announcing intent, like so: “I want to show you how your team might use the product. Are you available for a demo next Thursday at noon?”

To be clear, announcing intent isn’t always a bad thing -- but it’s never appropriate at the beginning or end of a call. Here are four major reasons why announcing intent in the first or last 30 seconds is a bad idea.

1) It’s Inherently Selfish

Announcing intent requires salespeople to talk about what they want to do, which means it can often come across as self-serving. Reps should steer clear of phrases like “I want,” “I’d like,” “I’d love,” or any other statement about their wishes. Buyers don’t care. As soon as they hear these selfish words coming from the salesperson’s mouth, they start to tune out.

If reps want their prospects to take action, they should orient everything around what their prospects want. Rather than saying, “I’d like to show you how X works,” they might say, “X will help you accomplish Y results. Do you want to see how it works?”

2) It Takes Away the Buyer’s Choice

Announcing intent also disempowers prospects. When the rep says, “I’d like you to talk to one of our engineering consultants,” the customer only has two choices: Speak with the consultant, or don’t speak with the consultant. If the rep instead asks, “What do you think makes sense from here?”, they leave the door open for several different next steps.

It’s important to make buyers feel like partners in the conversation, not prisoners. Salespeople should still be guiding them -- after all, sellers have more experience and knowledge in this domain -- but involving customers in the decision-making process increases their engagement and sense of control.

3) It Forces Your Hand Too Early

Once reps announce intent, they have a limited ability to change their mind and propose a different course of action. Saying “I’d like to do X” at the beginning of a call essentially locks them into that plan.

Let’s say a rep starts a call with their prospect by saying, “If there’s interest, I’d love to set up a demo later in the week.”

But during the call, it becomes clear that that contact isn’t the person the salespeople should be talking to. Because she announced intent at the very beginning of the meeting, she’s stuck giving the demo to the wrong contact.

It’s fairly common for reps to unearth new information during their conversations that change their game plan. If they don’t announce intent when the call begins, they can update their strategy on the fly without their prospects ever knowing.

4) It Violates the Cardinal Rule of Closing

The rep’s close should require their prospect to immediately make a decision. The operative word is “immediately” -- announcing intent delays the closing question, which gives the customer ample time to prepare a “no.”

To give you an idea, here’s a comparison of two closes:

Announcing intent:

Rep: “Now that we’ve determined mutual interest, I’d like to set up a pricing call so we can discuss your options. Are you free tomorrow at 2 p.m.?”

Prospect: “Well, I don’t know -- I need more time to think.”

Asking directly:

Rep: “Are you free tomorrow at 2 p.m. for a conversation about pricing?”

Prospect: “Yes, that works.”

Announcing intent makes for a messier close. In addition, it often creates opportunities forthe rep to over-explain themselves, ramble, or express hesitation -- which may cause their prospect to doubt them. Salespeople sound more confident and relaxed when they get straight to the point.

Announcing intent makes reps seem selfish, cuts their prospects out of the decision-making, prevents them from changing their strategy mid-meeting, and reduces their close’s effectiveness. That’s why I train salespeople to wait five minutes after the call or meeting has begun to announce their intent. After five minutes have passed, reps usually feel the urge to announce intent has gone away. If you’re having trouble kicking this bad habit, set up a timer and test this trick for yourself.

For more on Jeff’s approach to selling, come see him live in San Francisco on 10/17 or Boston on 10/24. Learn more.

HubSpot CRM

07 Oct 16:23

5 Best Practices for Improving Sales Enablement

by Jeff Day

5 Best Practices for Improving Sales Enablement

In today’s frenetic, go-go-go B2B sales environment, it can be hard to ensure that your sales team is having the right—or optimal—conversations with their prospects to deliver value and drive deals forward. The biggest blocker, unfortunately, is a seemingly easy, but in reality complex, problem to solve: equipping sales with the right content based on their unique prospects and specific selling situation.

Shared drives, social file sharing, and cloud document delivery services can hurt our ability to effectively enable sales because they feed the beast of one-off, random, reactive content management. This leads to waste: wasted time, wasted budget, and wasted opportunities for more closed deals. Beyond the content distribution problem lies another issue: inefficient processes for sales teams.

Solving these sales enablement challenges breaks open the floodgates to better content quality, better sales and marketing alignment, and more closed deals. In fact, research from Aberdeen Group reveals that best-of-breed sales organizations are implementing sales enablement practices and seeing incredible results, such as:

  • 99% overall team attainment of sales quota
  • 9% advantage in year-to-year revenue growth over the industry average
  • 4% year over year growth in average deal size

Odds are, your organization already has some form of sales enablement in place, as 80% of organizations with sales teams bigger than ten people currently use sales enablement tools and practices, according to research from Highspot and Heinz Marketing. But are you getting the best results from your efforts?

If you want to make an immediate impact on sales enablement, consider these five best practices to ensure your content creation and distribution efforts drive measurable, bottom-line results:

1. Reduce the Time Sales Spends on Non-Selling Activities

This seems a little straightforward, but most organizations have multiple portals or tools where sales reps are supposed to go to find what they need, and reps are spending between four to eight hours a week just searching for the right marketing content to send their prospects. SiriusDecisions’ webcast Activity-Based Enablement: Helping Reps How and Where They Work provides a great framework for analyzing and eliminating inefficient activities by focusing sales on revenue producing activities and allowing marketing to gain better insight into content usage and impact.

2. Give Your Reps Easy Access to Content

The fact is, 90% of content goes unused by sales, according to the American Marketing Association. This is largely because sales simply can’t find it. Is your sales enablement system flexible? Can your content be organized in a meaningful way for your sales team in one centralized library? Flexible content organization and content recommendations based on performance, informed by your marketing automation platform, help keep conversations on point and accelerate conversions. You might also want to consider adopting a modern sales enablement platform that provides a single, easy-to-manage repository for all your content and tools, and integrates with your existing systems to help streamline the selling process.

3. Make Sharing Best Practices a Best Practice

Sales is a very dynamic environment with products and messaging changing regularly and buyers’ needs varying across industry, company size, and buying stage. Good sales reps constantly communicate with their peers about what is working well in order to improve performance, so it’s important to create a closed-loop feedback process around content, training, and best practices.

Having a platform in place that enables data-driven analysis of what content, strategies, and processes are most effective in various situations lifts the performance of the entire sales team. This applies to them sharing insights with your marketing team as well. Aberdeen Group reports that 60% of best-in-class firms have a formal, current competency around knowledge management whereby marketing has visibility into the sales teams’ utilization of content and assets.

4. Get on the Training Train

According to our own study, the 2016 Sales Enablement Practitioner Survey, 65% of practitioners stated that improving sales training was a top priority for their sales organizations. The idea that you can train an entire sales force—regardless of size—on new products, new methodology, new features, new resources, and even new sales techniques in two days once a quarter is dead. It’s been proven wrong many times, and yet so many organizations are hanging onto this idea as “the way it’s done.” Successful organizations integrate ongoing training and communications into their content and tools workflow so that sales reps know exactly what will be most effective throughout the entire sales cycle.

5. Turn to Technology to Close the Gap

Many sales departments don’t have the time or resources to evaluate and implement new technology. And yet, the right technology solution can help them be more effective in hitting their numbers and closing deals. This is an area where marketing can step in and help. As you’re vetting, deploying, and implementing best-of-breed solutions, consider what applications, features, or solutions can help sales prioritize leads and work more efficiently and effectively, driving results across the entire organization.

Organizations that commit to a structured, measurable sales enablement process through dedicated resources and modern technology are seeing significant improvements across the board. What other tips do you have for improving sales enablement? Share them in the comments below.

07 Oct 16:23

Attention Content Writers: 7 Essential Ingredients for Writing Compelling Titles

by Maayan Sella

The average adult has an attention span of 8.25 seconds. That means you have less than 33 words to get a reader’s attention before they move on. This probably seems like an impossible task, which is exactly why compelling content titles are so vital.

A title is your one opportunity to grab your customer’s attention. It doesn’t matter how fascinating your article is or how helpful its information if you can’t ever get anyone to read it in the first place. Write a boring or unhelpful title, and even the best blog will be skipped.

A compelling title should catch your reader’s eye, get a click-through to the article, cause your reader to engage or take action, and improve your Google rankings. So, how do you fit all of this into one title?

Titles and SEO

Titles play a huge role in your SEO. A well-written title should help you rank for a keyword and draw a user to click on your page. Google uses the click-through rate on your pages/blogs to determine how relevant you are to your keyword. So, if your title doesn’t peak your readers’ attention, and pull them to your content, your rankings will drop. The reverse is true as well. If you’ve cracked the code and successfully draw visits to your content, your ranking will increase as will the keyword’s prominence for your business.

But how do you make sure you’re ranking for and using the right focus keyword? First, you need a keyword strategy. This strategy should include a list of words that define your business. To figure out what keywords belong on your website and in your titles, ask yourself these two questions:

1. What are people searching for when they are looking for my website?

2. What question does my product or service answer? What problem does it solve?

For example, if you’re in the business of endpoint protection software all of your keywords should relate to security in someway including terms such as malware, cybersecurity and enterprise network security. It’s important to focus on keywords that are specific to your industry, as “cybersecurity” is very broad and dominated by enterprises that have been around forever. If you haven’t already, we recommend using Google AdWords Keyword Planner, this will help you analyze your keywords for ranking.

Keywords change as the industry grows and your potential buyers evolve. If your current keywords aren’t generating the leads you’re interested in, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Go back to the basic questions, “What does my business offer?” or “What pain point do I solve?” and research the answers to see where you rank. As your business grows and changes, your keywords will need to be tweaked as well. Although it may seem simple, it’s one of the better ways to improve your SEO strategy.


How To Write a Compelling Title

Now that you know your keywords, how do you actually write your next title? We’ve put together seven essential ingredients to be considered.

1. Your Target Audience

Who are you trying to reach? Your title should change according to what stage in the sales funnel your buyer (or intended reader) is in. It’s also important to keep in mind the type of content you’re writing – whether it be a blog post, an email or a landing page – since this will affect the overall goal of the content you’re sharing. For example, a blog post intended for the awareness stage of the buying cycle will have a catchy title as opposed to a decision stage blog, that will be more technical. Your whitepaper on the other hand, will be more professional and in depth than a blog post and the content will vary depending on the buyer’s stage. Take a look at Buzzfeed and Forbes, their article titles match their audiences. Buzzfeed’s title is catchy and even silly, while the Forbes’ article is informative.

buzzfeed.PNG forbes.PNG

2. Consider Length

According to a study done by Moz, the optimal length for a search engine title is 50-60 characters, while another study shows that the optimal length for an email subject line is 65 characters. A title that is cropped too early isn’t nearly as compelling as a title that you can read completely. For example, the QuickSprout title below is cut off, making it less likely to be read than a similar title that finishes its thought.

If you’re writing an email, it’s important to keep in mind which device the email is read on. 50 characters if read on a desktop, but only 20 characters if it’s more likely to be read on the mobile phone – and we all know that 50% of emails are read on the mobile.

3. Use a Working Title

Your title needs to be specific. Remember, there’s a lot of content out there. Readers aren’t interested in ambiguous things, are you? For example, the title “9 Tips for Securing Your Cloud” is fairly generic. It doesn’t really tell your reader what they’ll get out of their time. A working title is very specific and guides the reader through the content of the blog post. For example, “Who’s Most Likely to Compromise Your Enterprise Network Security? Your Employees” is far more detailed and the reader can immediately connect to it. .

4. Use the Keyword Appropriately

We already talked about choosing keywords earlier, but how do you work your keyword into your title? First, you need to be as natural as possible. Tagging on a random keyword won’t get your blog read. Instead, you want the keyword worked into your title, and for that you consider both short-tail and long-tail keywords.

· Short-tail: compelling titles

· Long-tail: ingredients for writing compelling titles

Long-tail keywords are less competitive and can be more easily used in a working title.

5. Add Shock Value and Power Words

People read blogs that make them stop and think. Use words that are a bit surprising such as hate, scam, burst, lose, goodbye, etc. Check out an article from PIX11 for a great example. It’s all about shock and awe.

power title.PNG

6. Be Relevant

If you’re writing a blog, article, or sending an email, it should be relevant and time sensitive. Content that converts is content that has to do with the current news. It’s called newsjacking and it is really effective. For example, if you work in the tech industry and a major announcement just came out about security, make sure your title jumps on that bandwagon, “How to Make Sure Your Website Security Meets Google’s New Guidelines.” Or, “Is Kim Kardashian safe from cyber criminals?”

7. Tighten Your Title

It’s perfectly acceptable to start out with an outrageous title and then make tweaks as your go along. In fact, it’s completely normal to re-write your title 20-30 times before you figure out the best title for your content. Sometimes the title will change as you edit your content and sometimes you’ll just figure out a better way to say what you’re thinking. For example, for this blog, we went through quite a few options.

· How to Write an Interesting Title

· Why Titles Are So Important for Your Content

· How I Write Compelling Content Titles

· 9 Ways to Write Compelling Titles

· 9 Essential Ingredients for Writing Compelling Titles

Follow these seven tips, and your brand will be sure to create some great titles that’ll grab your reader’s attention.

07 Oct 16:23

The Two Types of Marketers and How to Know Which You Should Hire for Your B2B Company

by Laura MacPherson

Let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room: 80% of CEOs don’t trust marketers. We have about the same reputation as used car salesmen. And for good reason — too many marketers are creative but lack business savvy, particularly when it comes to the reality of the sales funnel and measuring ROI.

The idea of hiring a VP of Marketing or an outsourced marketing team sends waves of nausea over most CEOs/presidents/partners. It’s one of those tasks on the to-do list that weighs heavily and keeps getting moved to a future date.


Well, today we’re going to make that task a little less nauseating. We’re going to look at the two different types of (legit) marketers and give you guidance on which is right for your individual company.

This should give you confidence that you know what to look for, and we’ll offer a few guidelines that will help you evaluate potential hires or outsourcing partners.

Where Most Companies Begin

Most B2B companies start out either with the partners being responsible for finding leads or with the leadership delegating marketing tasks to one or two creative folks who can design marketing materials, write blog posts, and work their way around social media — in the hopes that the activity somehow results in new leads. Lead generation is slow. Cohesive, strategic campaigns that attract a stream of targeted prospects are rarely, if ever, done. At some point, the leadership realizes they need to get serious about generating leads that the partners or sales team can nurture and then close.

When your company reaches the point where you’re ready to take that step, you want to make sure that the VP of Marketing or outsourced marketing company you’re hiring is going to be strategic and focused on business objectives. Otherwise, you’ll just end up with a bunch of fancy ads and collateral that looks good but doesn’t result in any new leads.

The Two Types of (Legit) Marketers

Let’s take a look at the two types of marketers or outsourced marketing teams that smart companies typically hire. (We’re not considering incompetent or sleazy marketers who claim to be “gurus” — you know you don’t want one of those. We’re looking at legit professionals whose approaches are each valid in different situations — so you can evaluate what type you need.)

Brand-AwarenessBrand Marketers

Brand marketing is what it sounds like: it’s focused on brand awareness, building and maintaining a brand. Its goal is to make the brand top-of-mind when a prospect is ready to shop, a no-brainer decision to at least get in touch for a consultation or a demo. Brand marketing has succeeded when its target market immediately places the brand into the consideration set when prospects start the buying process.

Think billboards, TV ads, national sponsorships, the types of things you see the big guys doing. Brand marketing primarily works best for established companies who have secured their place in the market, because it’s incredibly expensive. If you’re bringing in $5 million in revenue, you probably don’t want to devote at least $1 million of that revenue to brand marketing. But if you’re bringing in $20 million, it starts to make a whole lot more sense. Brand marketing is for companies who have laid the foundation and are now ready to dominate.

Demand Generation Marketers

ROIDemand generation is more grassroots. It works closely with Sales to identify what a qualified lead looks like and what he/she cares about, and then creates and implements strategic campaigns to drive action that results in contacts (leads) that can then be nurtured and called by Sales (if they don’t call first) when the time is right.

Demand generation marketers are all about the numbers. If $X is spent, that should result in Y leads that turn into 4 x $X in revenue.

Each demand generation marketing campaign starts with a very targeted group of prospects, considers what offer and message would resonate best with that group, crafts conversion-optimized landing pages and matching ads, and strategically places those ads where the prospects are already visiting or reading. Ad spend is optimized as well, to get the lowest CPC for the highest number of leads that fit the qualified lead profile. Everything is tracked and measured, and campaigns are continually tested and honed for even better results.

A demand generation marketer will be able to tell you exactly how much each lead cost the company for any given campaign, as well as which platforms and ads performed the best. Metrics and ROI are the focus of the demand generation marketer.

Demand generation works best for companies who are ready to invest in marketing, but who need to see real ROI with every campaign. They don’t have time to wait for brand awareness to build to a level where it begins to deliver revenue — they’ll run out of cash before then. These companies typically are in the $1 million to $10 million in revenue stage. They have money to invest, but they need it to pay off sooner rather than later.

How Do You Spot Each Type of Marketer?

When you’re talking with a brand marketer, you’ll hear a lot about the brand, naturally. They’ll talk about “building the brand”, “generating awareness”, and “making sure the brand is in the consideration set”. They’ll talk about market research and the need to learn the market’s perception of the brand. They’ll discuss media buying for TV, radio, and outdoor, and their experience with it. They’ll probably also talk about generating awareness with digital display ads and social media. They may recommend print ads, depending on the product/service and the market.

When you’re talking with a demand generation marketer, you’ll hear about understanding the psychographics of your various buyer personas, digging into pain points and how to communicate in language that resonates. They’ll talk about creating integrated, strategic campaigns that target individual verticals or markets, with very specific goals in mind. Their focus will be on delivering the biggest bang (the most qualified leads) for the buck. They’ll stress the importance of conversion optimization, user experience, and split testing. They get excited when they talk about the ROI of campaigns they’ve completed.

There will be, of course, some overlap with each of these types of marketers, but you should be able to get a sense of focus.

If a marketer isn’t talking about any of these things, only the “cool” tools and latest platforms you “need” to be on, and stressing his or her guru status, you’re probably looking at one of those people who give marketers a bad name — there are lots of them out there.

Armed with these profiles, you should be able to determine which type of marketer you need, identify the brand marketers and the demand gen marketers, and more quickly evaluate which individual or outsourced team is the one you want to work with.


Image Credit: Designed by Freepik

07 Oct 16:23

A New Way to Think About Marketing Metrics

by Jon Miller

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” – Peter Drucker

Measurement and metrics are critical in any facet of marketing, and Account Based Everything is no different. But only specific metrics are suited to the specialized discipline of Account Based Marketing and Account Based Selling.

ABE requires a new set of metrics.

Marketers have made significant progress in the use of metrics to demonstrate the impact of their work, earning more accountability and ultimately, respect. Unfortunately, many marketers are still far too focused on vanity metrics such as the number of Twitter followers or Youtube video views. These are not only distracting, they’re dangerously misleading. More marketers are thankfully adopting more revenue and lead-based metrics, such as how many MQL’s were delivered this quarter and what percentage sales is accepting and converting to opportunities. But even this approach isn’t appropriate when it comes to optimizing account-based activity.

Traditional demand-gen metrics aren’t enough.

The rise of Account Based Marketing and Account Based Everything demands new ways of thinking about marketing metrics. While leads, opportunities, pipeline, and revenue are important and even necessary metrics, they are not sufficient to measure account-based strategies. This is a fundamentally different approach that requires fundamentally different metrics.

If your account-based strategy is going to see the kinds of big gains it has the potential to deliver, you need metrics that are suited to this specialized discipline – or you’ll be pursuing and rewarding the wrong things. Here’s why we need to start thinking about measurement differently:

Account-based strategy calls for account-based metrics.

What happens when a salesperson celebrates closing a big deal? They write the company name on the whiteboard – not the name of the person who signed the contract. By definition, Account Based Marketing focuses on key accounts, so it follows that the metrics must do the same. You need to measure ABM with an account-centric lens, not one that is lead-centric.

It’s called “business to business”, not” business to lead.”

Quality, not quantity.

In account-based strategies, marketing won’t be generating many “hot leads” – so even metrics that incorporate quality (like “marketing qualified leads”) become less useful. Rather than focusing on creating new leads, marketers operating under an account-based strategy need to think about their top priority as influencing the people who matter within the right accounts. That’s a new and different mindset about how marketing is measured, or claims victory.

Low volumes change our priorities.

The low volumes of account-based activity change the metrics we know and love (or maybe hate). The sheer quantity of leads used in Account Based Everything are too low for traditional funnel metrics such as conversion rates.

For example, a sales rep with 20 accounts can’t accept a 5% conversion rate – she needs to be thinking about growing revenue from every single account. Which would the sales rep value more — 20 random low-level professionals downloading your whitepaper, or one meaningful conversation with a decision-maker at one of her target accounts?

Marketing can’t wait for closed revenue to measure success

Companies have recently reported a 24% increase in the length of their sales cycle (according to SiriusDecisions). The larger the deal size, the longer the sales cycle. The longer the sales cycle, the more we need metrics to understand what’s going on as it progresses.

Ideally we would always be able to measure ABM using closed deals and revenue. And marketing certainly should measure those things. But in reality, we can’t afford to wait that long before we measure success – especially when there’s a long gap between top-of-the-funnel lead generation and bottom-of- the-funnel pipeline creation.

As an account develops, marketers need a way to measure progress in the middle-of-the-funnel. That’s exactly where engagement comes in. By tracking how deeply the right people at an account engage with your brand, you have a quantifiable way of showing development throughout a potentially long nurturing process.

This is about influencing pipeline.

Marketing sources 25-45% of pipeline for companies selling to non-named accounts, but sources less than 10% of pipeline at strategic or enterprise accounts. This means, instead of relying on marketing generated pipeline to prove our value, account-based marketers need to show their impact on revenue by demonstrating how well they influence deals and improve key business outcomes.

  • Win rates
  • Deal velocity
  • Average contract value (ACV)

“If you believe ABM success is measured only on lead volume… think again. ABM is about influence.” – Megan Heuer, SiriusDecisions

Customer expansion, not just new logos.

The traditional marketing funnel metrics focus almost exclusively on new business. But, deepening relationships with existing customers is a major part of Account Based Everything. We need metrics for both sides of the “bow-tie.”

Cross-sell and upsell pipeline and revenue are certainly part of this equation, but we should also consider:

  • Advocacy
  • Referrals
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Net promoter scores

At the end of the day, the larger and more complex our deals, the less we can measure our efforts in terms of ‘marketing sourced’ leads and pipeline. Clearly, Account Based Everything warrants its own approach to metrics – one that measures the right things in the context of large, complex deals.

What are you measuring? What’s working?

07 Oct 16:23

Making Sure “Metrics-Driven Sales” Means More New Business

by Leah Bell

As the Dreamforce sessions continue to impress, we’re excited to watch SalesLoft VP of Sales Derek Grant hit the stage with a panel of leaders from modern sales organizations including Bob Marsh of LevelEleven, Janet Jansen of Paycor, and Doug Mantelli of Jackson National Life, as well as the author of Cracking the Sales Management Code, Jason Jordan.

These experts have tackled challenges like sorting through an abundance of sales data, trying to identify where your team should focus to increase revenue, and ultimately how to generate focus and motivation around what you find. Today, we got to get an insider scoop on what they’ve learned throughout battling those challenges.

The first lesson was shared by Bob Marsh, where he talked about the importance of KPIs and the processes that ultimately lead an organization to closed deals:

“Only two percent of a sales reps time is spent closing deals. The rest of their time is spent on the processes that get them there.” -Bob Marsh

According to Marsh, KPIs are best segmented by team. For example, sales development should focus on number of calls and scheduled meetings, where inside sales is focused on proposals in the pipeline and wins. Field sales top KPIs are definitely going to be the number of face-to-face meetings and new opportunities, while account management is primarily focused on opportunities created and milestones completed.

But the number one KPI for each of these roles? Conversations. Which ultimately leads to the most important KPI in modern sales, which is the prospect to qualified appointment ratio. But it’s not all numbers and facts, because it really comes down to the skill and efficiency of the rep. “It’s easy to get lost trying to find a silver bullet,” says Marsh, “but most of the time it’s about going back to the fundamentals.”

“We convince ourselves that this is so complex,” Jason Jordan agrees, “but if you take a step back, metrics are really straightforward.” And that’s the power behind intelligent and intentional analytics. If you’re focusing on the predictive data at hand and the analytics behind your activities, then you’re way more likely to affect the ultimate deal.

“Don’t focus on the outcomes, because that’s not what you can effect. Keep it simple.” -Jason Jordan

In the same vain of “keeping it simple,” Doug Mantelli is clearly an essentialist at heart, stating that, “if you’re telling your reps that 30 metrics are important, they really won’t know what’s important.” The motivation behind the word important is priority, and priorities are hierarchical. KPIs should be limited to what the rep prioritizes, and most importantly, what they can realistically and visibly aim for in their activities.

“If you make the metrics visible, people will work towards them.” -Derek Grant

Metrics only matter if they mean something significant to the reps shooting for them. Jordan agreed with Derek, adding that, “when you start measuring something, people start paying attention to it. When you tie it to compensation, people start paying a lot of attention to it.” All of these things mean that the more your reps are tied to their KPIs, and the more metrics-driven your organization, the more new business you will have the opportunity to create.

These modern sales pros have given us access to exclusive KPI research on which metrics serve as the strongest focus for which types of sales teams, and tips on how to not only manage modern sales performance, but accelerate it. We’re in for sales analytics just as much as we’re in for more new business. Here’s to more sales wins.

The post Making Sure “Metrics-Driven Sales” Means More New Business appeared first on SalesLoft.

07 Oct 16:23

8 Fatal Sales Prospecting Mistakes You Might Be Making

by (Leslie Ye)


Prospecting bottlenecks the entire rest of your sales process -- while discovery is perhaps the most crucial step once you’ve engaged with prospects, you have to engage first.

But it’s not easy. Prospects are busy and reluctant to talk to salespeople, and salespeople are becoming more aggressive to compensate. The result? It's becoming harder than ever to connect with a good-fit prospect.

And it becomes harder still if you're making one of the eight fatal prospecting mistakes below. Check these mistakes against your own behavior to catch which of your prospecting habits needs to go.

8 Huge Sales Prospecting Mistakes

1) Not doing research

This is a no-brainer. If you don’t do research, you’ll run into the following problems:

  • You won’t know whether the prospect is a good fit
  • You won’t be able to guess what your prospect’s top priorities are or tailor your pitch accordingly
  • You’ll have to ask your prospect to provide you basic information you could have found yourself

The result? You won’t be able to “hook” your prospect, you’ll waste their time, and you’ll make them think (rightly so) that you couldn’t be bothered to do a five-second LinkedIn search. Ultimately, they won’t trust that you care what’s right for their business, and so they won’t buy.

You should always enter a call with at least one assumption or conclusion about your prospect’s business you gleaned from your research that you can have them confirm or deny. Not only does this build your credibility and demonstrate the effort you made, it’s also a good benchmark to determine how much research is necessary. You don’t need to know your prospect’s birthday, but you should have a sense of why they would want to talk to you or how their business operates.

(Not sure where to begin? Check out our pre-call checklist to learn what you must know and what you can skip when you’re researching prospects.)

2) Not checking leads against buyer personas

Buyer personas exist for a reason. They outline the types of prospects most likely to buy and most likely to retain. You won’t be able to tell just by looking at a LinkedIn profile how closely the prospect fits your persona, but you’ll be able to tell some broad strokes. Are they in the right industry? Do they have the right level of seniority? Is their company large enough to suggest the level of revenue your customers typically have?

3) Sending canned emails or following voicemail scripts

There’s a huge difference between using a template as a starting point and copying one word-for-word.

While you should have a general talk track or outreach framework that you follow (after all, buyer persona research reveals what your best customers and prospects will have in common), you should never find yourself leaving the same voicemail or sending the same email twice. Doing so is a missed opportunity to provide value.

4) Not knowing a inbound lead's conversion point

If your company is fortunate enough to see a steady flow of inbound leads, pay particular attention to your prospect’s conversion point. Did they come into your lead queue based on an ebook about building a new house? Or did they fill out a form for interior decoration consulting? The piece of content or web page that drove a conversion will give you clues to what your prospect is motivated by and what stage of the buyer's journey they're at.

5) Trying to do too much

A prospecting call isn’t the time for a pitch or heavy discovery. They’re unscheduled, so they’re inherently interruptive. And while you might have something of value to provide, respect that your prospect was probably working on something else when you called them.

This means keeping things short. Ask just enough questions to determine what a logical next step looks like, get buy-in, and let your prospect get back to their day.

6) Not having a goal for the call

You must be able to recognize what appropriate next steps look like in each different situation. If you’ve connected with an inbound lead who’s already evaluating your product and is asking about pricing, it’s appropriate to ask for a discovery call with the appropriate stakeholders as a next step. But if you proactively sourced them and they’ve never heard of you before? Not so much. Assign them some homework to educate them around your product and go from there.

7) Treating all leads equally

Not all leads are created equal. Even after you filter out leads that clearly don’t fit your buyer persona, you shouldn’t just be calling and emailing them in a random order. To make the best use of your time, make sure you’re calling best-fit leads first and reach out to the rest in order of how likely they are to be a fit. For a step-by-step guide to prioritizing sales leads, check out this blog post.

8) Not dedicating time to prospecting

The biggest mistake you can make when it comes to prospecting? Not doing it at all. Prospecting is an easy activity to push off because it doesn’t pay off right away, and it can feel more important to work the deals you have in progress than generate new ones. But remember how those deals entered your pipeline in the first place -- through prospecting. You’re setting up your future self for failure if you neglect pipeline generation, and it’s just not worth it.

What do you think are the biggest prospecting mistakes salespeople make? Share with us in the comments below.

HubSpot CRM

07 Oct 16:23

Product Market Fit = align Product, Distribution & Customers

by Clement Vouillon

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on Medium. You can read it here.

This post is not an in-depth article about the theory of Product / Market fit but rather a quick post showing how I explain and discuss P/M fit with people. Take the following diagrams as a base for discussions and not as extremely precise drawings that modelize every aspect of P/M fit.

In the rest of the post PMF = Product / Market Fit.

What is PMF?

At a macro level PMF happens, that’s my definition at least, when a startup gets the 3 components below aligned:

Product Market Fit Alignment

It happens when the product (= set of features that have a clear value proposition) resonates with customers (= which are of a certain type and have defined needs) that you know how to reach and convert (through marketing and sales).

Why don’t I have PMF?

It seems easy but getting to PMF can be very hard and there is no silver bullet or secret sauce to get there. Hard work and countless iterations are the secret.

That being said there are several common situations when some components are not aligned and which explain why there is no PMF.

1. Nothing is aligned

product market fit misalignment

It’s a common situation at very early stage when you have an idea for a product but not necessarily an idea of who your real customers are and as a consequence how to distribute and market your app.

Example: You have an idea for a product which answers your own need but you don’t know yet if this need is also felt by other people and if this is a “must have” or “nice to have” problem to solve (is it a real business or a side project?).

The “product value proposition” — “customer needs” axis is the main aspect to validate at that stage.

2. There is no market or the product is not good enough

product market does not exist

It’s also a very common situation. In this case you know which problem you want to solve, for which customers and how to attract them but selling the tool and keeping them is extremely difficult.
Very often the signs of such a situation is a poor retention rate and no word of mouth (existing customers don’t bring other customers and don’t share the love). You can increase the leads you bring in but the retention rate won’t improve.

Two common reasons behind this situation:

  1. There is no market. Your product answers a need which is a “nice to have” and not a “must have”, so it’s hard to make users excited and to keep them.
  2. The product is not good enough. Whether it’s because of the competition (existing products are better and better known) or just because the current product doesn’t answer the needs of the customer well enough.

In this case the product and its value proposition is the main component to fix.

3. Distribution is broken

product distribution is broken

You have a product which answers a clear need for defined customers but your distribution doesn’t follow.

Some signs of such situation:

  • A high churn (because you attract the wrong customers) but with a core base of enthusiastic customers who love your product and pay for it (big difference with high churn from #2).
  • Happy customers but poor lead generation

Three common reasons behind this situation:

  1. You don’t know how to “market” your solution yet. New solutions or complex products can be extremely hard to explain and market to the end users. Learning how to market a product can be a long and difficult process.
  2. The sales model is not adapted. For example, you sell to SMBs but don’t have the lead generation engine which scales, you sell to the enterprise but don’t have a great sales team, your end users is B but the real decision maker is A etc…
  3. Distribution brings the wrong type of customers. It’s also totally possible to have a marketing team which performs well in term of leads volume but which brings the wrong type of leads.

In this case the focus should be on fixing the distribution engine.

Is PMF forever?

A common misconception is that once you’ve reached PMF you’ve pretty much won the game and that you just need to fuel your growth.

Well, unfortunately, it’s a bit more complicated than that. The three components of the graph can evolve and what was once aligned can suddenly fall apart. PMF is a “dynamic” situation that can evolve with time. You need to make sure that you constantly keep these 3 components aligned.

Here are 3 common situations where your PMF can break.

1. The product evolves

product evolution

It’s the normal evolution of many startups: You find a first PMF with a great and simple product, you grow your company, have access to more resources (money, people) as a consequence you can build a better product which offers more features and solves more problems. But suddenly the PMF breaks.
Why? Because your initial product appealed to a certain type of customers that didn’t need all the new features that were added. Or because your product was initially not fitted for enterprise customers but now is.

As a product evolves it’s possible that the customers need to change too and this is the reason why so many SaaS startups go upmarket with time.

2. The targeted customers need to evolve

customer evolution

In this case you found PMF with a specific segment of customers but you realize after a while that it doesn’t scale. You cannot expand easily the niche that your product serves and as a consequence you have to add different types of customers that can break your PMF.

You’ll once again need to align the product and the distribution to your new targets.

3. Distribution breaks

product distribution breaks

Definitely rarer but I’ve already seen companies doing really well thanks to a particular distribution channel but suddenly this channel falls apart.

Example: You depend on SEO and Google changes its algorithm (or think about Facebook or mobile app stores which can change the rules of distribution whenever they want).

What’s your take on PMF? Let us know in the comments.

The post Product Market Fit = align Product, Distribution & Customers appeared first on OpenView Labs.

07 Oct 16:23

How (and Why) Customer Success is Different from Customer Support

by McKenzie Ingram


Do you remember the switch five or so years ago? When all of a sudden your customer support team was now called your customer, or client, success team? When service account managers were now called client success managers (CSM)? Lots of people jumped on the bandwagon to rename their customer support teams, but what they didn’t do was change the fundamentals of how each customer is cared for – the core of what it really means to be part of “customer success.”

Last week I sat down with Luke Smith, Act-On’s Regional Director of Mid Market Sales. We chatted about what client success truly means, how that is materialized in the sales cycle and beyond, and what it means for the different departments within an organization. What follows is an edited version of our conversation, with key takeaways that capture what Luke believes to be the crucial elements of building customer success.


What does “customer success” mean to you as a sales person?


Customer success is really what we’re all looking for. It’s our income, career advancement, daily attitude, credibility, and more. It’s what makes the time we spend – being the best we can be – worthwhile. Ultimately, it’s enabling the people that buy our products to be as successful as possible so we can retain them for a lifetime, and increase the total lifetime value of that customer. When we sell a new business deal, we want to make sure we’re capturing as much revenue as we can for as long as we can.

We all have the same goal in mind: to make sure the customer is as successful as possible. And in this environment, more companies must provide additional focus on the success of the customer.

This picture is a quote from Act-On’s Luke Smith speaking about the importance of customer success for sales teams.


When you say “this environment,” what do you mean?


I mean the nature of the business world. It’s more competitive than ever. Why don’t companies have a hyper focus on the success of their customers? A lot of organizations have a hyper focus on selling new business and making sure that they’re fixing and updating their product – which is really important. But, at the end of the day, what’s the most important is the success of the customer.

I recently participated on a panel about this topic; we discussed customer service vs. customer success.

What “customer service” means is that we’re going to wait until a customer has a problem and then we’re going to accept a call from that customer and we’re going to help fix the problem. That’s fine, but risky in terms of potentially losing the customer. What about the success measurement of that customer? Success should not be measured in how well we help the customer as soon as there’s a problem. Success should be measured based on the level of success a customer is experiencing right now versus their potential success.

This is the gap that a lot of companies are looking to fix – the companies that are aware of the gap and are proficient in customer success are the frontrunners, the top performers, the thought leaders. These companies are implementing ways to go from a reactive “customer service” model to a proactive “customer success” model. They are asking, how can we get people utilizing our solution the way that it’s intended to be used, proactively, in ways they don’t know how to use it yet?


If onboarding your customers is getting them from Point A to Point B, what would customer success be?


Let’s add some additional layers to the success journey, A to D. A to B is the implementation and training of the product, making sure that we’re satisfying the basic objectives of our customers.

B to C is saying, okay now that we’ve done that, what is the potential for this company? Let’s make sure that, proactively, we’re really making advances on the potential of how can you use the product.

Then the final layer, C to D, we’re asking, what about the people that are affected by the solution? How are we going to train them and enable them, based on of how other companies are performing utilizing the solution? This is about enabling our customers to utilize our solution in a manner to where they now become better at whatever they do.

We actually want to make the people better around the solution as well. That’s what customer success should be.


Is this whole idea of customer success changing the way you’re selling then, too? Does that start from the sales point and go all the way through to the customer success?


That’s a good question. And that’s the question we’re really trying to figure out.

My perspective on that is that sales people need to be involved all the way through, to a certain degree. Sales people originally are the ones that are establishing the relationship and rapport with the individuals that we’re selling to. We understand the goals and objectives set forth, have a vested interest (through commission) to maximize the value of that customer over time, and, ultimately, retaining that customer. So it’s worth considering setting up a compensation model that rewards your sales team for all of those things – not just bringing in customers, but making them successful and retaining them.

But it’s hard to know where (or whether) the sales person’s responsibility ends and the customer success person begins. In that sense, it’s important for the sales person to quarterback the entire relationship and the success of the customer. I feel that it’s a cumulative approach – the sales rep stays involved but you gain a customer success manager.


Are a lot of companies approaching sales and customer success in this way?


Some, but not as many as should be. Too many companies boast about selling a one-year or multi-year deal. These companies feel like they need to call these clients only during the renewal period or whenever an upsell is imminent. That’s the wrong approach.

In order to get more from that customer and to be able to retain that customer, we need to be sure they’re maximizing value from the solution, and their people are also becoming better because of it. You’re then creating a lifelong client, rather than a short-term client.


What’s the benefit of taking this kind of customer success approach? What does it bring back to you?


It brings back quite a lot. Every company wants more dollars, more revenue. A lot of companies have growth ambitions. A lot of companies work very hard to be able to sign a customer only to have those customers leave after an initial term. What’s the point of that? How can we retain that revenue and make sure that when we sign a new customer we’re keeping that revenue for the long term? The more you give, the more you get. I’m a firm believer in that.

How the brand plays


Your brand is another huge piece of this. What are people saying about you? Are people saying, yeah, they provided top-tier technology, but they didn’t call me until my renewal? Or are people saying, you know what, they provided me a top-tier technology product that I initially thought was good and it solved my issues, but then they started proactively engaging with me, and taught me all these things that I may have not known, and I wouldn’t have been as successful using it if not. And not only that, but they trained my sales team. They trained my marketing team. They were proactive with engaging with my executive leadership team so that now they support what I’m doing moving forward.

When these customers talk about you in their networks, your brand increases, then customer referrals start coming in. Ultimately, you don’t have to work as hard to be able to get leads and opportunities in the system because you literally have your customer base working on your behalf.


Luke, thanks for your time, and thanks for the enlightenment.


It was a pleasure. Thanks for the opportunity.


Customer success is a new attitude and approach; its key goal is to proactively help your customers get the most out of your partnership, in progressive stages.

But don’t scrap your customer support team just yet. Customer support is still a vital ingredient in the overall success of your customers. Instead, consider having a tiered system when your customers have access to a support team if they have issues, but they are also continuously connected with a customer success team for proactive training and progression.

To learn more about the changing dynamic of sales, marketing, and customer success, check out our eBook – Beyond Sales & Marketing Alignment: Add Customer Success for a Winning Team Trifecta.

: Team Trifecta_Beyond Sales & Marketing Alignment

07 Oct 16:22

What is a Marketing-Qualified Lead? What MQL Really Means

by Paul Fuller


Just a few years ago, marketers everywhere rejoiced. Shouts were heard from the rooftops. Glasses were raised. Toasts were made. Reliable marketing metrics were finally here! Definitions were set, processes were tested, sales and executives bought in across the board, and the panacea of the Lead Marketing Funnel brought peace to all.

Or did it? Did we just end up confusing things?

The one thing we know for sure is that we introduced some new terms (not to say buzzwords) that needed to be debated and defined, so we could make them part of our strategies.

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

The term is broadly used across marketing and sales. Marketing teams are judged by the numbers of MQLs they generate. Business development reps have service level agreements (SLAs) in place about how quickly reps must respond to MQLs.

Pipeline impact of MQLs is measured, spliced, diced, pureed, and spit out in board presentations across the globe. MQL to Sales Accepted Lead (SAL) ratios are touted as exceptional by marketing teams, eyed suspiciously by sales teams, and eyeballed by executive teams who say “just show me the opportunity pipeline.”

Beyond buzzwords

But what exactly is an MQL? What does SAL mean? How about a Sales Qualified Opportunity (SQO)? How are we supposed to use these terms to get things done?

The answer, as it generally is in these days of data overload, is it depends. It depends on YOU. It depends on your sales, sales operations, and marketing teams getting together and defining the term appropriately for your business, and being able to explain it simply to your executive team.

Great marketing and sales teams do this well. They don’t speak marketing-ese, they use the terms to define their own business processes, the ones that increase the chances for success.

Let’s step back and take a look at ways you can do this. Let’s define aspects of the terms MQL, SAL, and SQO in a way that allows you and your team the best chance for success.

Defining MQLs

At its simplest, a “marketing qualified lead” is a lead that has met some benchmark(s) that identifies it as having enough potential to warrant attention from your marketing department. It’s met the first, most basic level of qualification that your sales and marketing teams have agreed on.

How might you make that determination? Which factors should you look at?

We have a bias, in terms of Marketing Qualified Leads. We truly believe, and understand through analysis, that the ability to have an educated and effective sales conversation by email, phone, or socially is the key to transferring marketing influence into opportunity. So the variables that we look for are the variables that increase the rates of having a good conversation.

There are four categories of variables we’ll look at:

  • Profile
  • Channel
  • Actions
  • Undesirables


The first thing to understand is the profile of the type of lead that you want. Who are the individuals at organizations that you want your team to interact with, whom you’re most likely to have an intelligent conversation with? Who does the sales team recommend as the buyer in their organization?

Outline the basic profile of what marketing should gather about the person to consider it marketing qualified. The basics should be:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Title/role
  • Organization
  • Contact info: email, direct dial number
  • Size and type of organization, and perhaps location

It’s also desirable to get the social network information whenever possible: Twitter handle, LinkedIn profile, and so on, depending on the social patterns of your most desirable customers.

The name and title are generally not negotiable. You need that information for a lead to be “Marketing Qualified.”

You need to start to weigh and make decisions upon the rest of the information. How important is the size of the company in determining if the lead is marketing qualified? How important is receiving a direct dial number to your sales team, or do you interact more via email or social? Is there any reason for location to matter?

Break out each of these fields and determine the minimum acceptable level of profile information that a lead needs for marketing qualification. Publish this in some way: it might be part of your internal communications, or it might become memorialized as part of a service level agreement. Just get it in writing, and make sure both sales and marketing agree. It doesn’t mean sales can’t call on a lead if it doesn’t have all the profile information; it just means that marketing isn’t giving a specific endorsement saying “we think we have great information for you.”

Note: I’ve seen organizations try and understand a person’s purchasing power or interest level via the profile data. More often than not, the data you get within this spectrum of role definition is not a highly reliable indicator of interest or power. That information can be gotten and used, but not usually at the MQL stage, and not through these fields. Stay tuned.


The second thing to recognize is that your potential leads are spending time in multiple channels, and you need to identify those channels for your organization. There are thousands of channels, and most of them overlap in some way. For the sake of this discussion, I’ll organize them according to the following highly simplified buckets.

  • Inbound (direct form fills)
  • Event marketing leads (webinars, in-person events, cards in a fishbowl at a tradeshow)
  • Interaction-based

Inbound leads are garnered in a variety of ways. Content form fills, contact requests, paid search form fills – you name it, there is a way to fill out a form. The important thing here is for both sales and marketing to understand the exact channel the inbound lead is coming in from, and agree upon the relative importance. Not every form fill is equal.

For example, I just received a call the other day from an unnamed CRM vendor. I have high interest in CRM products, love to study the market, and probably exist in every CRM vendor’s CRM as an MQL somewhere. The type of content I filled in the form for was extremely educational. However, the form didn’t have any field asking whether I wanted to buy anything. Sales and marketing should agree on the types of content they want to follow up on aggressively (an MQL) and the other types that they want to nurture for a while. Since they hadn’t qualified my degree of interest, they would have been safer to assume I could use some nurturing before getting a call asking me to buy.

Event-based leads are similar. It’s hard to classify all of them as MQLs immediately. You need to look at the nature of the event and the actions that they took at the event. Sales and marketing should agree on the events and profiles where some factor indicates that immediate follow-up is necessary, and mark these as MQLs. Others should be nurtured in the lead funnel.

Interaction-based leads is the category that has the most gray area for marketers to deal with. Technically, we can look at and classify someone as an MQL just by the actions they took, and the interactions with our brand. This is something that should be discussed directly with the sales team.

  • Is it enough to classify someone as an MQL if they never gave us their information willingly but interacted across multiple channels?
  • Are there specific channels or engagement actions that identify an MQL?

In some industries, these are actually the best leads. In others, they are very hard to contact. You need to test this and agree upon it with your sales team about whether or not these should be delivered as MQLs. The answer will be different for every organization.


In defining MQLs, it’s very important to understand not just the profile and the channel, but the actions that individuals took to become an MQL.

Online is generally the easiest to measure. We can look at and easily score online interaction. How many emails did they click through? How many web pages did they look at? Did they visit our pricing page? Did they fill out a demo form?

For inbound and interaction-based MQLs, this has been raised to a science and an art. We can track very specific actions, define them, and agree with sales upon what we think are the most important in driving conversations. We can score them, and watch as advancing scores indicate increasing interest.

For events, these are sometimes a bit tougher. Many times all event leads are treated equal. But you should consider multiple variables.

  • Did they both register and attend a webinar?
  • If they attended, for how long? Did they stay for most of it?
  • At a trade show, did they speak directly with someone? Did they ask for a follow-up?
  • Were they an attendee at a specific seminar?

These are sometimes harder to track, but to provide the accurate lead history, this is important.

This is a picture of a quote from Paul Fuller speaking about the importance of sales and marketing defining marketing qualified leads (MQL) together.


For all of the desirable actions, channels, and profile aspects you define, you should also look at the undesirables.

Don’t just look at the positive, look at the negative attributes.

Are you a B2B organization? Do you want your teams following up with people that are masking their identity with “” email addresses? Is it important to weed out the procurement titles?

Look at each of the categories, and make sure you look at these undesirables, and document them accordingly.

Lead Scoring for MQLs

If you look closely at the categories, you’ll notice that all of the items defined can be leveraged in lead scoring.

Each of the attributes or actions that you define together with sales can be translated into a lead score, giving you the ability to score an MQL appropriately, and dynamically. You can set your marketing automation platform to take specific actions with leads that reach a certain score, such as sending them to sales with an MQL tag.

In communicating this to all stakeholders, you can easily define each lead by profile, channel, and actions. That way all parties know what an MQL actually is, and agree upon it.

Sales Accepted Leads

At its simplest, a “sales accepted lead” is a lead that sales has agreed meets benchmark(s) that sales and marketing have defined as warranting attention from sales.

Because you’ve communicated the profile, channel, and actions that make up the MQL lead score, and presented the lead to sales in the context of their CRM, sales is now able to make a good decision on whether or not to accept the lead.

There are three major criteria that exist here for sales to accept the lead.

  • The lead meets your MQL requirements, and sales can see that
  • Sales is able to initiate a conversation
  • This person is at a firm, and in a position, that makes it legitimately possible that at some point they may want to do business with our firm.

For most B2B firms, that’s it. For others, where the sales cycle is short and deal size is small, you should have buying time and authority in the mix.

However, the goal of sales at this point is to have a conversation to learn more about the individual, deepen the relationship with the brand (not crush it), and set the stage for further conversations.

This takes a talented sales team and training. The good news is, it works and generates ROI. When marketing does a good job of setting the stage for a conversation, well-trained sales teams can deepen that and drive positive interactions.

This lead may get passed back to marketing over time, or go through multiple cycles, but every time sales accepts the lead they should be gathering additional critical information that can help them serve the customer in the future, and help marketing serve the customer more effectively with targeted content.

You now know that every lead sales has accepted is a potential client at some point, and that you’re working your tail off to serve them better.

Note: This definition sometimes flies in the face of our “give me results NOW” mentality in business. But the truth of the matter is that business is about relationships. Relationships sometimes take time. By accepting a lead early, and learning more about them, it gives both sales and marketing time to develop that relationship.

Sales Qualified Opportunity

At its simplest, a “sales qualified opportunity” is a lead that sales has worked with enough to believe the lead has a high potential of closing. Every sales team in every company must create its own criteria.

Defining an SQO from an SAL can be a simple process. The simplest way to define this is to check whether we know the following things:

  • There is a legitimate buy cycle in place – whether that takes 1 day or 2 years doesn’t matter
  • We are talking with an influencer in that buy cycle
  • We have a time frame for that buy cycle
  • We know the size of the opportunity
  • We have permission to follow-up with next steps

If these items are known, an opportunity should be created in the CRM, no questions asked. If this was generated by the MQL to a SAL to the SQO funnel, then sales, marketing, operations, and executives should all see this as a win.

Some teams layer on budget into this equation. We tend to see that as a step in the buy cycle, rather than necessary for initiating a potential SQO.

We lean toward capturing possible opportunities earlier in the buy cycle rather than later. It keeps sales teams more focused on driving towards results and the pipelines in view of all. It also allows us to better analyze the lead funnel cycle better earlier on, and prioritize. If certain channels, prospects, or activities are leading to SQOs that are not closing, we want to see that quickly, and vice versa.

Make qualification simple

It’s always easy to add layers and make things more complicated, but this adds time and cost, and doesn’t usually add to clarity. Use the framework provided to define things for your teams. Make this process as simple and clear-cut as possible, so you can see unambiguous results. If you don’t get the results you want, adjust the framework to change a criteria or a timeframe, until you are able to accurately filter MQLs that become SAL that become SQO.

Here’s a quick recap for you, and we’re always happy to chat and help you define these for your team.

MQL – Marketing Qualified Lead

  • Important to look at leads by:
    • Profile
    • Channel gathered in
    • Actions taken
    • Undesirables
  • Agreed upon traits and channels with the sales team. Documented by both teams
  • Indicated to the sales team through lead scoring and leads presented in CRM

SAL – Sales Accepted Lead

  • The lead meets your MQL requirements
  • Sales is able to initiate a conversation
  • It is feasible that this lead may do business with us

SQO – Sales Qualified Opportunity

Sales confirms from the SAL that:

  • There is a buy cycle
  • The person has influence
  • We know the time frame and size of opportunity
  • We have permission to follow up and next steps

And of course, the final step is closing that sale. Then we’re into a new lifecycle of retention, loyalty, advocacy, referral and upsell with that client – but that’s another post, for another day.

Happy marketing and selling!

Act-On eBook: The Ultimate Lead Management Playbook

06 Oct 16:50

A hard Brexit might actually be a good thing for fintech

by BI Intelligence

BrexitThis story was delivered to BI Intelligence "Fintech Briefing" subscribers. To learn more and subscribe, please click here.

A new report by business management consultancy Oliver Wyman suggests that if the UK decides on a "hard" Brexit (by which it would lose access to the single market), the UK economy stands to lose £18 billion to £20 billion ($23 billion to $25 billion) in revenue, £3 billion to £5 billion ($4 billion to $6 billion) in taxes, with 31,000 to 35,000 jobs put at risk.

However, the report added that a hard Brexit might benefit the UK's fintech sector.

Here are the areas in which it says a hard Brexit could benefit UK fintechs:

  • Regulation. At the moment, UK fintechs have to comply with EU regulations, not all of which are favorable to UK businesses. In the case of a Brexit, the UK could choose which laws most benefit its companies and implement them on its own timescale, easing the regulatory burden on domestic fintechs. That said, any UK firms that still want to trade with Europe would still have to comply with EU laws.
  • Immigration. Right now, anyone from the EU can come to work in the UK without a visa. However, UK fintechs often struggle to find all the skills they need within this talent pool alone. Brexit could enable the UK to prioritize entry for immigrants, from anywhere, with the skills fintechs need. For example, it could simplify the visa process and make it less expensive for companies looking to hire further afield than the EU.

The impact of a hard Brexit on the traditional financial services sector might compel the UK government to ensure the country's fintech sector flourishes. It would be in the government's interest to offset any damage to the economy caused by the barring of incumbents from the EU market.

A hard Brexit could therefore drive the government to devote drastically more resources to creating a comfortable regulatory environment for fintechs, enabling them to focus on growth and efficiency, and thereby continue attracting investment. This is backed by the argument that a Brexit could save the UK £23 million ($34 million) in EU membership fees, which could be invested in fintech.

It is worth noting, however, that there is no guarantee such money would go to this sector, or even that it would be enough to offset the loss in foreign investment a Brexit could cause.

In addition, if UK fintechs were to lose access to the broader EU market, other continental cities may be in a position to steal London's fintech crown. Given the still considerable uncertainty surrounding Brexit, complacency about its potential effects on the UK fintech market is risky at this stage. 

This situation bears watching as we move through the most profound era of change for financial services companies since the 1970s brought us index mutual funds, discount brokers and ATMs.

No firm is immune from the coming disruption and every company must have a strategy to harness the powerful advantages of the new fintech revolution.

The battle already underway will create surprising winners and stunned losers among some of the most powerful names in the financial world: The most contentious conflicts (and partnerships) will be between startups that are completely reengineering decades-old practices, traditional power players who are furiously trying to adapt with their own innovations, and total disruption of established technology & processes:

  • Traditional Retail Banks vs. Online-Only Banks: Traditional retail banks provide a valuable service, but online-only banks can offer many of the same services with higher rates and lower fees

  • Traditional Lenders vs. Peer-to-Peer Marketplaces: P2P lending marketplaces are growing much faster than traditional lenders—only time will tell if the banks strategy of creating their own small loan networks will be successful

  • Traditional Asset Managers vs. Robo-Advisors: Robo-advisors like Betterment offer lower fees, lower minimums and solid returns to investors, but the much larger traditional asset managers are creating their own robo-products while providing the kind of handholding that high net worth clients are willing to pay handsomely for.

As you can see, this very fluid environment is creating winners and losers before your eyes…and it’s also creating the potential for new cost savings or growth opportunities for both you and your company.

After months of researching and reporting this important trend, Evan Bakker, research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has put together an essential report on the fintech ecosystem that explains the new landscape, identifies the ripest areas for disruption, and highlights the some of the most exciting new companies. These new players have the potential to become the next Visa, Paypal or Charles Schwab because they have the potential to transform important areas of the financial services industry like:

  • Retail banking

  • Lending and Financing

  • Payments and Transfers
Wealth and Asset Management

  • Markets and Exchanges

  • Insurance

  • Blockchain Transactions

If you work in any of these sectors, it’s important for you to understand how the fintech revolution will change your business and possibly even your career. And if you’re employed in any part of the digital economy, you’ll want to know how you can exploit these new technologies to make your employer more efficient, flexible and profitable.

Among the big picture insights you'll get from The Fintech Ecosystem Report: Measuring the effects of technology on the entire financial services industry:

  • Why financial technology is so disruptive to financial services—it will soon change the nature of almost every financial activity, from banking to payments to wealth management.
  • The basic conflict will be between old firms and new—startups are re-imagining financial services processes from top to bottom, while incumbent financial services firms are trying to keep up with new products of their own.
  • Both sides face serious obstacles—traditional banks and financial services firms are investing heavily in innovation, but leveraging their investments is difficult with so much invested in legacy systems and profit centers.
  • Meanwhile, startups are struggling to navigate a rapidly-changing regulatory landscape and must scale up quickly with limited resources.
  • The blockchain is a wild card that could completely overhaul financial services. Both major banks and startups around the world are exploring the technology behind the blockchain, which stores and records Bitcoin transactions. This technology could lower the cost of many financial activities to near-zero and could wipe away many traditional banking activities completely.

This exclusive report also:

  • Explains the main growth drivers of the exploding fintech ecosystem.
  • Frames the challenges and opportunities faced by incumbents and startups.
  • Breaks down global and regional fintech investments, including which regions are the most significant and which are poised for the highest growth.
  • Reveals which two financial services are garnering the most investment, and are therefore likely to be transformed first and fastest by fintech
  • Explains why blockchain technology is critically important to banks and startups, and assesses which players stand to gain the most from it.
  • Explores the financial sectors facing disruption and breaks them down in terms of investments, vulnerabilities and growth opportunities.
  • And much more.

The Fintech Ecosystem Report: Measuring the effects of technology on the entire financial services industry is how you get the full story on the fintech revolution.

To get your copy of this invaluable guide to the fintech revolution, 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 fast-moving world of financial technology.

Join the conversation about this story »

06 Oct 16:49

New Series on Telephone Prospecting / An Invite to Meet Iannarino & Me in NYC Oct. 17

by Mike

I’ve got two announcements for you: First, I’m kicking off a new series of blog posts focused exclusively on telephone prospecting with the goal of helping you absolutely master the phone to increase the number of meetings you secure. We’ll cover everything from our attitude and mindset when it comes to picking up the phone through voice tone and voicemail. And I’ll help you craft your mini-story, stay laser-focused on the objective of the call, and arm you with powerful, effective ways to push past the resistance and auto-reflex “no” we get when asking the buyer to meet with us.

I’m thrilled that many of the “prospecting is dead” charlatans and hucksters have been silenced, or at least minimized, as the general sales population has woken up to realize that, maybe just maybe, tweeting and commenting in LinkedIn groups doesn’t fill a pipeline or feed your kids as well as promised by the #socialselling only crowd. It’s been heartening to see the resurgence in popularity of traditional prospecting, including, I dare say, PICKING UP THE PHONE to call a potential customer. I’m seeing clients have tremendous success securing discovery meetings with strategic target prospects, and I’m looking forward to sharing how they are doing that with you.

telephone-prospectingBefore getting to the second announcement, let me offer you this one teaser thought about telephone prospecting:  I believe you can be building a relationship with someone who has not called you back – yet. Those of you who are prospecting animals know exactly what I mean and I bet you’re having flashbacks right now to giant deals you’ve won that started out with a bunch of unreturned phone messages. And to those of you who think this is nonsense, I promise you it’s not. Furthermore, I promise you that if you truly master the art of prospecting, you’ll fill your funnel exponentially faster than your friends who are sitting around drinking the #socialsellingpermissionmarketing Kool-Aid, writing blog posts, over-tweeting, and commenting on others’ LinkedIn updates!

Meet Anthony Iannarino and Me in NYC on Monday Evening, October 17

New York City Manhattan skyline panorama at night over Hudson River with refelctions viewed from New Jersey

My #1 GoTo Sales Guru, Anthony Iannarino, and I will both be in New York for a client event the week of October 17th, and Mark Birch is taking advantage of this opportunity by hosting us at his NYC Enterprise Sales Meet Up.

Almost 100 percent of the speaking engagements Anthony and I do are private sessions for client sales teams. If you’re in or around NYC, please come join us at 6:00pm on October 17th in Midtown Manhattan for this rare public event. We’ll be talking about sales, sales leadership, and sales success. It will be an interactive session where Mark will moderate the conversation and take questions from the audience. We’ve also giving away a significant number of our bestselling books to attendees. Click here to sign up or for more info. Hope to see you there!

06 Oct 16:47

How to Build and Manage a Top-Performing SDR Team

by (Aja Frost)


Splitting your sales team into prospectors and closers can have many advantages. By dedicating sales development reps (SDRs) to researching, prospecting, and qualifying buyers, and account executives to closing, organizations can maximize efficiency and output.

Employing a team of SDRs also creates a training ground for future sales reps who will live and breathe your personas and process before they ever carry a quota.

But these benefits aren’t easy to come by. Building a successful sales development team takes hard work and a thoughtful strategy.

For example, how long will you spend onboarding SDRs? According to a survey from The Bridge Group of 355 B2B companies, it takes an average of 3.3 months for a new SDR to reach full productivity. SDRs who ramp in three months or less achieve 29% higher performance than those who are onboarded more slowly.

This infographic from OnePageCRM has more insights into building and managing an SDR team.


HubSpot CRM

06 Oct 16:26

Great Performers Make Their Personal Lives a Priority

by Stew Friedman

Common wisdom holds that to enhance well-being and reduce conflict and stress, you’ve got to ease up on work. Conversely, to have a significant impact on the world and be successful by prevailing societal standards, you’ve got to put work above pretty much everything else in your life.

This is zero-sum thinking, and it runs counter to what I have observed in three decades of teaching, practice, and research on the possibilities for achieving success in all areas of life. There are many truly successful people in our midst who have achieved greatness not by forsaking their families, communities, and private selves, but, rather, by embracing these parts of their lives. They have found creative ways to reduce conflict and replace it with a sense of harmony between work and the rest of life. Not only does this reduce stress and its discontents, it is the very source of the strength that enables their admirable accomplishments.

You and Your Team Series


  • Turning Stress into an Asset
    • Amy Gallo
    Resilience Is About How You Recharge, Not How You Endure
    • Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan
    Steps to Take When You’re Starting to Feel Burned Out
    • Monique Valcour

    In Leading the Life You Want, I profiled successful people who exemplify this fundamental idea. They show how to harness the passions and powers of the various parts of their lives and bring them together to achieve what I call “four-way wins” — actions that result in life being better in all four domains, perhaps not all at once, but over the course of a lifetime. These people make a deliberate choice to be conscious of what and who matters most. Their actions — at work and elsewhere — flow from their values. They strive to do what they can to make things better for the people who matter most to them, those who depend on them and on whom they depend, in all the various aspects of their lives. Having this clarity of vision helps reduce conflict, stress, and strain.

    The good news is that this kind of integration is available not only to those with extraordinary talents and lots of luck, but to anyone interested in investing effort to lead a life in which you stay true to yourself, serve others, and grow as a person. This integration and a laser-like focus on what truly matters most to you is the key to leading a meaningful, less overwhelmed life — the one you want. When you focus on what’s meaningful, stress and strain are reduced.

    It starts with three principles: be realbe whole, and be innovative.

    • To be real is to act with authenticity by clarifying what’s important to you. It’s your answer to this basic question: What matters most to me? What do I truly value? Is it family? A creative pursuit? Spiritual growth?
    • To be whole is to act with integrity by recognizing how the different parts of your life affect each other. This means identifying who matters most to you at work, at home, and in the community; understanding what you need from others, and what you have to give others; and seeing whether and how these needs mesh.
    • To be innovative is to act creatively by experimenting with how things get done in ways that are good for you and for the people around you—taking realistic steps aimed at scoring four-way wins; at work, at home, in your community, and for yourself.

    Here are two examples of how these skills play out in the lives of the exemplars I studied.

    Julie Foudy is a soccer champion who, in 1991, as a member of the U.S. national team, won the first Women’s World Cup and then won bronze in 1995 and gold again in 1999. She was part of the iconic U.S. soccer team that garnered Olympic gold in 1996, silver in 2000, and gold again in 2004. But Foudy is an exemplar of leading the life you want because of what she has done beyond the soccer field. Based on the gender bias she experienced firsthand as a player, she has devoted her career to leading an array of organizations that promote athletics for young people, empower young women, and advocate for social causes. Foudy’s success off the soccer field is an outgrowth of her passion for soccer, her insistence on pursuing the most fruitful expression of her talents, and her ability to fuse all the important parts of her life — her soccer teams, her family, and her advocacy for causes about which she is passionate.

    Tom Tierney is the cofounder of Bridgespan, former CEO of the powerhouse global consulting firm Bain & Company, and author of the philanthropy guide Give Smart. Throughout his accomplished career, Tierney has sought creative ways of fitting together the domains of his life. He has built organizations that encourage personal growth by, for example, rewarding results and not face time and by motivating people with an inspiring vision of contribution to a greater good.

    Early on, he understood that while he wanted to achieve financial and career success, his family came first. Based on this overarching value, and even while rising through the ranks at Bain to become its CEO, he did not work on weekends. Instead, he spent considerable time with his sons, coaching them both to the level of Eagle Scout. Eschewing work on the weekends, which was counter-normative, if not radical, required discipline and an uncompromising ability to focus on what mattered most to him. You might think he got pushback from colleagues but, in fact, the opposite was true: People respected his priorities, especially when he demonstrated to people working for him that he expected them to organize their time according to their values and needs beyond work. Tom is renowned for taking the time to reflect, writing daily in his diary and taking time to do an annual review of his own personal logs, asking himself, “Am I living according to my values?” This enables him to make conscious and deliberate choices that align with his own values, and that are good for his key stakeholders at home and at work, as well as for himself.

    Of course, no one’s fate is entirely in their own hands. Foudy, Tierney, and the others I profiled are mere mortals like the rest of us, who experience tragedy and loss, and who must learn to compromise. But they have been able to achieve their enormous success because they have the strength to know what’s most important to them — and then to consciously and deliberately align their actions, at work and in the rest of their lives, in ways that are congruent with their core values. When you are able to do this, there is far less conflict between the domains. Your work colleagues understand what’s most important to you and your family, and others who matter outside of work know this, too. Thus, they can help you to pursue and engage in what is most important to you.

    From a distance, what Foudy and Tierney accomplished might seem relatively easy. “If I had as much money and support as these great business people or those great performers,” you might say, “then I too could control my destiny, choose my working hours, and devote myself to worthy and fulfilling causes.” But in each and every case my team and I studied, we saw the same pattern: leaders who worked incredibly hard and persistently to develop skills that enabled them to bring others along with them toward a vision of a somehow better world.

    They made mistakes and errors in judgment, and because they were intent on improving and fully employing their natural talents, they were able to learn from them. Though they didn’t start with much, they persisted, because of their commitment to their families, communities, and private selves, not in spite of these other aspects of their lives.

    Our research convinced me that anyone can practice these leadership skills and increase their chances of finding freedom and harmony.

    Since each of us faces a unique set of challenges and has different priorities in our lives, the essential first step is to figure out what matters most to you. Once you know what’s important, then you can begin to engage your stakeholders — at work and outside of work — to gain a better appreciation for what you each need and expect of each other. With this knowledge, you can begin to experiment with new ways of getting things done in order to reduce stress and the strain that results from conflict between work and the rest of life. This might involve exploring a new job, learning to play a musical instrument, devoting time to daily reflection about your values and purpose, sharing your vision of the future with friends and co-workers and letting them know how and why they’re part of it, reliably committing time (even small amounts) to your children so they can count on it, doing a digital detox (time off screens) regularly, or bringing your friends and work associates together for an activity they’d all enjoy. Actions like these can help you to create value in each of the important parts of your life.

    The key is to try, even for just a few weeks, then see what you learn from your experiment, generate ideas for new ones, and just keep on innovating.

06 Oct 16:24

The Benefits of a Strong Brand in B2B Markets

by Beth Pearson

Some don’t think that branding matters in B2B markets. They say that B2B decision makers are logical beings immune to any such irrational influences. And anyway, it’s all just fluffy marketing crap and a brand is really just a logo isn’t it?

B2B marketers disagree. In fact, our surveys have found that 77% of B2B marketing leaders believe that branding is critical to growth.

Why? Well first off, they realise that rather than simply being a logo, a brand is a perception held about a company. It’s a series of associations about:

  • What you stand for
  • What makes you different from others in your space
  • The functional and emotional benefits (yes, even in B2B) to be derived from working with your organisation or products

So because a brand is a perception held by someone else, you have no choice about whether that perception exists. You can however choose to manage your brand. Those that reject the need for branding in B2B environments should contemplate this. They can be the master of their fate, or they can leave it up to others.

These enlightened marketers have also seen the benefits of building a strong brand:

  • It makes you a must-have on short-lists. If your brand is dominant then you’ll often be considered by default as not to do so would raise eyebrows
  • In riskier buying situations where the cost of making the wrong choice is high (either for the individual’s reputation or for the company’s effectiveness) a strong brand makes you the safe choice. As the old adage goes, ‘you won’t get fired for buying IBM’
  • It simplifies the decision for buyers. The brand acts as ‘shorthand’ which quickly conveys a lot of meaning. Less well-known brands require the buyer to work harder to understand the benefits they bring. This matters because despite what textbooks tell us, B2B buyers aren’t automatons following a thorough, logical process in every buying situation – they sometimes just opt for the easy choice
  • It’s a point of differentiation, especially in commoditised markets where there is little apparent difference between products and services. A strong brand also comes into its own in situations where it is difficult to compare products and services (e.g. if the buyer has limited knowledge, if the product is complex) as it suggests inherent quality
  • It allows you to charge a price premium because it implies that the product or service is somehow better, or it provides a sense of trust worth paying extra for
  • It builds preference and loyalty. Positive brand associations make buyers want to be associated with you and increase the perceived risk of switching

All of the above translate into the most important benefit of a strong brand – commercial success. A brand has real tangible value. For example, Interbrand regularly values the world’s brands in its Best Global Brands series and in 2015 several pure B2B brands (and many more B2B/B2C brands) featured in the top 20 – IBM is ranked fifth with a value of $65,095 million, GE ranks 8th ($42,267 million), Cisco ranks 15th ($29,854 million) and Oracle ranks 16th ($27,283 million).

Maybe branding isn’t such fluffy marketing crap after all.

06 Oct 16:23

Key Differences between Enterprise and SMB Sales Processes

by Mrigank Tripathi

Useful for Yocale

I run Capabiliti – a mobile-first platform that has been used by large enterprises to train, assess and engage their distributed users. We built our product to cater to the stringent requirements of Enterprises, and we sold it to them. Now that our platform is sorted technically and with all the ‘required’ elements, we are in the process of opening it up to the world using a SaaS approach. So we went Enterprise first – SMB second. There are multiple lessons that I can put forward, but that would result in a book. This post is just an introduction to the lessons we learned at Qustn. 

Here is some advice that was given to me by Girish Matrubootham of Freshdesk before he invested in us. Girish said, “If you want to target SMB clients (eventually), don’t do Enterprise at all. Start straight with the product. Wait till the product is ready and then launch it straight for the SMB audience. If an Enterprise is ready to buy like an SMB in the early stages – do it. If not – dont”.


I agree with it now.

Enterprises and SMBs are two entirely different beasts, and we are realizing that now. For all practical purposes, it’s almost like a pivot, where everything changes from your product to your marketing and sales strategy. I guess the only saving grace here is that I have done sales to both for the past 18 years, so I understand the intricacies involved in the sales process. Consider this a very concise version of the lessons.

When should you start selling?

Enterprise sales process can start on rough demos and PPTs. SMB sales process should not start till your product is tested, and ready to take on paying clients – without you having to intervene. Enterprise sales should start way before the actual product is demonstrable/usable by clients. SMB sales only starts when you can ‘show off’ the product with flair.

Key skills to have in either case?

Enterprise sales process usually involves high touch. You will have to meet multiple stakeholders many times over before the closure happens. It needs a thick skin and persistence, above all else. Enterprise sales process requires the ability to negotiate, build relationships, map the account, scout out newer opportunities within the account and more. SMB sales process should not be high touch (there is a problem if it is). It requires a higher level of marketing & product chops. You need to have the persistence, patience and process to repeatedly keep bettering the ‘digital’ interaction is key here.

You need it from reducing lead generation costs to managing the inbound data in your CRM to ensuring relevant drip campaigns to nurturing the leads and harvesting more from them to Inside Sales and closure. All of this is backed by a great product which keeps on getting better, based on hard data related to drop offs, heatmaps, social shares, and conversion rates at every stage of the funnel. Here is a philosophy that I know Pallav Nadhani of FusionCharts goes by: “If you need me to come and explain the product to you – either the product isn’t fit for you, or you aren’t fit for the product.”  


What are the key metrics to watch out for?

There is a typical Enterprise sales process called SPANCO, which is usually followed in Enterprise sales. Suspect-Prospect-Approach-Negotiate-Close-Order is the sequence, and it is used by a lot of companies. The metrics that make this process successful are number of sales calls a day (to suspects) and the percentage conversions from each stage going forward (More on this sales process, soon). In the SMB game, the metrics are very different. Here is an excel template for you to be able to manage the metrics yourself. Please feel free to suggest changes that impact it positively and share it back with me! 


What are the buying signals?

Both customer sets give out buying signals, but they are very different. In the Enterprise sales process, the buying signal is just a state of ‘progression’. Meetings become demos, which become technical discussions, which move to discussions with procurement, and finally a purchase order. Each stage could be a drop off. In the SMB sales process, the buying signal is that the person revisited your site, looked at the pricing page, added someone else to the trial account, started using the product etc. Different. Yet similar.


What’s the typical deal size?

An enterprise sale typically is considered as something above a value of $50,000 per annum (or $4500 per month and above), and requires multiple approvals. SMB sales could range anywhere from $20 to $20,000 a year (or $1.6 – $1666 per month). As you can see, there is a gap between the $20K and the $50K levels. This brings us to the next point.

How long does it typically take?

This is the biggest difference between both sales process cycles. An enterprise sales process could go on for 9 months till closure (if not longer) depending on the price and buying authority. Here is a great blog that talks about this in greater depth. An SMB sales process, primarily because of lower authority needs, can close anywhere from 2 days to 4 months. The gap between the $20K to $50K in the previous point highlights a zone where the size of the company comes into play, with more than one person getting involved in the decision making. This usually takes a bit longer than a normal SMB sale, but usually lower than a full fledged Enterprise sale.

What are the biggest pitfalls?

Enterprise sales process will inevitably require customization, and your product might end up looking very wide, but not deep enough. Further – every new enterprise will ask for some customization – so a bit of ‘service’ gets added to the product company. In an SMB product sales process – typically that is lesser (or non-existent). The problem with an SMB sale is the economics. You need to sell to 100 clients at $1000 per annum to make up for one $100,000 Enterprise client. Sounds simple? Trust me when I say that it isn’t. Here is a great post by Tomasz Tunguz explaining why SMB focused SaaS companies need to move more upmarket.

Which sales process is easier to execute?

Even though I have written it – it’s the wrong question. Usually, your product will define what your target audience is. Not the other way round. However, assuming that all else being equal, you have the choice of going in for an Enterprise sale vs an SMB sales process, here are the things you should consider:

Is your organization equipped for this? Enterprise sales process is ideally done through a direct sales approach and sometimes a channel sales approach. That means mid – senior level sales folks who can manage sales cycles and have the ability to hunt and close. End to End. Beyond that comes customer success. ≈ This is usually driven from their own Rolodex. SMB sales process require digital marketeers, product guys, account development executives, Inside sales reps, customer success folks and more. You need to make calls, send mails, and do the same thing daily. Enterprise is open and nurture. SMB is generate and quickly acquire.

Are you going to raise capital? If yes, Enterprise only companies will typically have a tougher time in the earlier stages. Get over the hump and get some good client names on board and it becomes much easier in the later stages.

What’s your DNA? Are you a digital marketer or a sales guy? A digital guy is better off managing a mainly digital process whereas a sales guy will typically want to get his hands dirty and have a fat Rolodex.

Is your product Saasified? There is a feature (which you work on to get an enterprise order), then there is a product (which is ready to sell), and then there is a Saasified product (where you are able to capture all the relevant data related to a lead, nurture them through drip marketing and bring them to a closure)

In the end, I’ll say this – the Enterprise sales process is exhausting. Physically and mentally exhausting. It takes a lot to get up after being slammed with a ‘No’ from an Enterprise that you were nurturing for 8 months – speaking from personal experience. The SMB sales process requires focus and rigor – Exhausting of a different nature. I, again, know it from personal experience.

You will do what you need to do to grow your business, and some of the best businesses have been built keeping both Enterprise and SMB sales open.

The question is – which sales process do you start with?

The post Key Differences between Enterprise and SMB Sales Processes appeared first on Sales Hacker.

06 Oct 16:21

5 Reasons Why Blogging Is Important for Inbound Marketing

by Ashley Irving

“Wax on, wax off Daniel San.”

If you were an 80’s kid – like me – you’ve probably seen the 1984 movie called “The Karate Kid” starring Ralph Macchio and the late Pat Morita.

It inspired a following because of the movie’s timelessness. The theme and lessons this movie brings clearly resonate to this day.

Remember the “wax on / wax off” scene?

Daniel – played by Ralph Macchio – asked Mr. Miyagi (Morita) to teach him Karate.

Daniel’s excitement quickly wore off when instead of learning some cool Karate moves, Mr. Miyagi assigned him to house chores.

But when the actual lessons began, Daniel soon found out Karate was easy to learn. He discovered the movements he was doing all along were actual Karate drills.

The Karate Kid taught me a valuable lesson: even the basic stuff can make a difference if we practice them consistently.

But what does an 80’s movie has to do with blogging and marketing?

Most businesses today are much more committed to their social media presence – which is the right step in today’s setting. But I believe there’s still a place for blogging; which, along with email marketing, should be the cornerstone of your inbound marketing strategies.

Blogging has been around since the 90’s. Some find it “old school”. It’s not hip (Facebook 360 is cooler). Some say it’s boring; Periscope is better. It’s not as sexy or buzzworthy as social media marketing.

But it does serve a purpose for you and your customers.

In today’s article, I’ll talk about 5 reasons why blogging is important to marketing. Plus, I’ll give you a list of companies that used blogging as a way to improve their marketing strategy.

5 Reasons Why Having a Blog Can Transform Your Marketing

  1. Blogging makes you market savvy – The more you blog, the better you understand the trends and issues affecting customers.You expose yourself to information which may lead to improving your products and services. Influencers in your niche will start to notice your company and will eventually reach out to you for business and networking opportunities.
  2. Having a blog gives you a chance to build your own voice … letting your brand’s image stand out from the competition. Granted competitors have blogs of their own. But having a platform provides an opportunity to show your uniqueness and cater to your own audience. And as your business carves out it’s own identity, you start to build a following, which leads to higher sales conversion.
  3. Blogging as a PR tool – Why spend hours struggling to get attention from journalists or editors when you can simply bring them to your site? If you have newsworthy content, getting the media’s attention is just a matter of time. In fact, a growing number of journalists and editors consult blogs to get story ideas. The key, of course, is to establish yourself as an expert in your industry. I’m not surprised when I hear about bloggers being invited to a webinar or conference. Not only were they able to promote his product, they get to build a pipeline by leveraging somebody else’s audience.
  4. Increase marketing assets both online and offline – Repurposing a blog post is the best way to cast a wider net while using several outlets. For example, your marketing team can turn a blog post into a slideshow presentation and post it on Slideshare. Or, perhaps, convert it into an MP3 file and broadcast it on iTunes. One popular option is to convert blog posts into an email newsletter. Imagine not having to turn to your copywriter to pump out new content every single day. A single blog post could potentially lead to 6 or 10 content ideas distributed to several channels … all at once!
  5. Blogging prepares you for bigger opportunities – Create a lead magnet by stringing together your most famous blog posts and turning them into an eBook or a whitepaper. Or, build a bigger list by converting those same blog posts into a short e-course or a full-blown online course. Not only it will drive qualified leads, online courses build credibility and authority – benefits you rarely get from cold calling or networking.

Now, let’s see how big name companies use blogs to market their business.

List of Companies That Use Blogging as a Marketing Tool

Work Shifting (Citrix) – A blog for professionals and employees who work remotely. Instead of focusing on their products, Citrix decided to put their audience’s needs in the forefront.

Marriott – If you want to learn about thought leadership and how to be an expert in your field, then corporate blogger Bill Marriott should be on your list. He writes his own posts and shares his views on sales, business, technology, media, the government and more.

GE Reports (General Electric) – Great storytelling, beautiful photography and diverse topics designed to capture your imagination and encourage curiosity. This company is more than just light bulbs. Do you want to put your product in a different light? Learn how GE expertly weaves their product in every story without being salesy.

Blog Southwest (Southwest Airlines) – Blog content doesn’t mean you have to write. There are ingenious ways to get your message across than just a wall of text. They mix and match their content – from articles and polls to videos and photos. The blog was created to build a strong relationship by showcasing stories from employees and customers.

If you’re gonna start all over again – with no customers, no influence and no resources – and you only have a laptop and an internet connection to start a business, what would you do to be where you are right now?

Find a problem and blog about it.

I hope you learned a lesson about the value of blogging in your marketing strategy. Platforms come and go (remember Friendster? MySpace?). The rules of the game frequently change to cater to business-interest (Facebook Zero, anyone?). And gambling on something you can’t control seems unwise (banner ads, I’m looking at you).

The only thing you can control is something you already own: your blog and your content. Why not begin from there and start bringing value to the marketplace?

Daniel learned the fundamentals of Karate and mastered it. In the end, he won the tournament and earned the respect he deserves.

Blogging will bring the same benefit to you.

I regularly get emails or messages from subscribers saying they enjoyed a recent post.

A great example is when I wrote a blog post about 19 tools to easily manage your inbound marketing (

One of my subscribers even sent a “Thank You” note:

“Hey, Ashley. Hope you are doing well. Just wanted to drop you a quick note and thank you for this great article.”

I’ve also had requests to repost articles on the subscriber’s site.

For example, my blog was translated into Spanish and posted over here:

If you’re curious, here’s the original post:

Do you want to see the same results?