Shared posts

18 Jul 16:26

How Your Product Use Data Can Become Valuable Content

by Kristen Hicks

Many SaaS companies like yours struggle to come up with content topics that are valuable to their audience, but they may not even know they’re sitting on a treasure trove of information.

Every time a customer uses your software, it produces valuable data. You can track things like how often a user logs in, which features they use and how frequently, and how long they use your product each time they log in.

Savvy SaaS companies use this data now to understand their customers better, help fuel product design decisions, or look for good opportunities to sell current customers on the value of upgrades or add-ons. Product use data can help you better understand your own product through the eyes of your customers.

But it can serve another, equally useful purpose for your content team. The data you already have on how your customers use your product can likely be mined for insights that help answer questions from your audience.

Why Product Use Data is So Valuable

Companies that produce original research quickly learn it’s one of the best ways to drive traffic, build links and gain shares.

When Moz did an extensive analysis of the kind of content that most consistently earns links, content built on original research was one of the two categories that performed the best (the other category is opinion-forming journalism).

Amanda Subler from the Content Marketing Institute has shared that, while the CMI blog gets a lot of mentions and attention around the web each day, “most of it references our original content marketing research, particularly the B2B research that we publish each fall.”

People love statistics. They provide evidence that feels trustworthy. And they’re the kind of thing bloggers and journalists are quick to link to when the data backs up a point they’re making in a post or article.

The media embraced data journalism a while back; content marketers can and should do the same. And SaaS companies have a head start. In fact, you can skip the work of doing a survey and use the data you already have.

See Product Use Data In Action

If you’ve grown accustomed to looking at your data one way, seeing it in a new light that would be valuable to your customers could be difficult.

It will help to see a few examples of how other SaaS companies have turned their aggregate product use data into content people care about.

FreshBooks

FreshBooks has done an impressive job of building a business with inbound marketing. It targets small businesses and freelancers and has built up a large enough customer base to tap into some valuable insights about how small businesses charge, invoice and get paid.

It’s used its data to produce content on multiple occasions. In 2010, it put together an infographic that shows the average invoice its customers sent ($1,677) and how long it typically takes the company to get paid (22.6 days).

product-use-data-2.jpg

 

Knowing how long payment usually takes helps anyone who has a small business or is thinking of starting one make their own payroll and pay bills on time. And getting a glimpse into what other small businesses and solopreneurs are charging can help you figure out if your own pricing is reasonable.

More recently, FreshBooks wrote a blog post based on data it had collected on how invoice terms and wording influence the time it takes to get paid. If late payments are a common problem for any of its customers (and for at least the freelancers, they likely are), then knowing that using polite language increases the likelihood of getting paid by 5 percent is an especially useful bit of data.

Buffer

Buffer gets accolades for its content marketing and that reputation is well-earned. Brands have a lot of questions about what works on social media and many feel like they’re just guessing.

If you use Buffer, then your flailing helps create the data that all Buffer readers can use to improve their social media marketing.

Ever wondered what the best time of day is to post on the different social media platforms? Buffer’s aggregate data has some answers for you.

Not sure if you should bother with that hashtag? Buffer’s data shows that tweets with one or two hashtags get 21 percent more engagement.

Over a few years, it has collected a significant amount of use data that provides specific, actionable insights to customers. More importantly, Buffer has published it for any brand to see, so all the businesses in its target audience can benefit.

Yesware

Yesware’s sales automation software allows salespeople to send emails and track stats on their performance through the platform. As such, Yesware has been able to collect some serious data on what types of emails perform well.

Looking at data from more than 500,000 emails its clients have sent, it was able to pull out which words in a subject line tend to lead to higher and lower open rates. It also analyzed what works best in terms of subject line length—and found it really doesn’t matter.

Getting a lead or customer to open your email is a challenge every email marketer and salesperson faces. Clear data that tells you what to do (and what not to do) is something every business in Yesware’s target audience can use.

product-use-data-3.jpg

How many of these examples included information you were interested in? Probably at least one of them. Data is interesting. Sometimes it gives us insights we suspected, but couldn’t prove. Other times it shows us something we never would have guessed.

Either way, if your software has any data your customers may find useful or interesting, use it. Release a report. Turn it into an infographic. Get it out there in a format that gets people talking. Your traffic and conversions will thank you.

18 Jul 16:25

Hyundai sailing into a new era of smart ships

by Amanda Razani
forklift handling container box loading to freight train

The world’s biggest shipbuilder, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) – working with Intel, SK Shipping, Microsoft, the Daejeon Center for Creative Economy and Innovation (DCCEI) and the Ulsan Center for Creative Economy and Innovation (UCCEI) – wants to bring smart ships to the world’s oceans.

An agreement signed by the group allows HHI and its partners to team up in an effort to help domestic information and computer technology businesses create software that improves the safety and well-being of crew members, meeting the needs of ship-owners and safe ship operation standards.

See Also: Can the blockchain and Iot solve international freight’s issues?

In 2019, the Ship Service Software should be applied to smart ships, if all goes according to planned.  Once applied, it will allow for remote medical treatment services for crew members, ballast tank inspections, virtual reality training, maintenance of important equipment and automatic voyage information reporting.

“The Korean shipbuilding industry was developed on the back of advanced manufacturing technology but now is the time for us to shift our focus to differentiated ship service technologies,” stated an HHI official. “We see that customized and value-added software will play a role in reviving the industry.”

Ship-owners, crews and customers work together on new tech

SK Shipping and HHI will offer smart ship platforms and technological mentoring services.  Meanwhile, UCCEI and DCCEI will conduct briefing sessions for shipbuilders and shipping lines to encourage the technology companies to participate.

HHI and Accenture, together, unveiled OceanLink this past May.  OceanLink, their version of a smart ship, is geared toward the shipbuilding, shipping, and onshore-logistics sectors. With a grouping of analytics software and sensors, ship-owners can keep track of a ship’s condition and status in real-time.  Along with this, owners are offered a vast range of ship operation data including location, weather, and onboard equipment and cargo status information.

The post Hyundai sailing into a new era of smart ships appeared first on ReadWrite.

18 Jul 16:25

The Puppy Dog Close

by Ryan Estis

The Puppy Dog Close

Since I am fond of talking about why everyone ignores your email sales pitch, I’m occasionally on the receiving end of examples of awful cold pitches that continue to inhibit sales performance. This example hit my inbox last week:

If this puppy doesn’t convince you to connect with me – I am at my wits’ end.

The Puppy Dog Close

Woof.

The puppy dog is cute. In 2016, cute doesn’t close sales. Value does. It’s important to understand how the customer is changing and how today’s customer or customer decision team defines value.

How Today’s Sales Dynamic Has Changed

The average B2B deal now requires an average of 5.4 people to formally sign off on each purchase. What is the impact?

The people on buying teams have increasingly diverse priorities, and to win them over, suppliers must bridge those differences. The upshot is longer cycle times, smaller deals, lower margins, and, in the ever more common worst case, customer deadlock that scuttles the deal. — Harvard Business Review

That is a new landscape and navigating it with success is proving to be a tremendous challenge for sales teams. That is why a Forrester study projects that of the 4.5 million B2B sales jobs in existence today, “one million jobs will be net displaced by 2020.”

The first 500,000 out the door will be the salespeople who cannot differentiate themselves as a critical part of the value proposition. On the other hand, the massive shift in customer expectations around the buying decision is providing an unprecedented opportunity for world-class producers to win big.

The best salespeople are finding ways to deliver compelling insight, deep customization and help customers think differently about the future. They’re experts about their products, competition, customers, and are well-positioned to bring customer decision teams together and guide them to arrive at a consensus decision. They win on value and don’t have to compete on price.

While I’ve talked previously about the importance of story, strategy and execution, there isn’t a silver bullet to developing the new skills required to compete and win today. It’s work.

How to Get to Work

I believe part of the work required to help sales teams evolve is sales auditing. In this presentation to 1,000 B2B producers, I unpack the auditing tactics that have proven most effective to me:

There is a shift happening around the way customers make decisions. It begs the question:

Who do I need to become to drive sales growth into the future?

It’s a question I consider regularly and it can be applied to other areas in business and life. I also know a consistent auditing practice will provide insight to help you make forward progress!

18 Jul 16:25

Everything You Need to Know About Hiring a Personalization Specialist

by Katie Sweet

personalization specialist

In our latest survey, we found that half of marketers cite the lack of personnel as one of the greatest obstacles they face in making personalization a greater priority in their organizations. We predict that as more organizations make personalization a top priority, an increasing number of marketing teams will be looking to hire personalization specialists to help them maximize the impact of their personalization efforts. But this job title isn’t widely used in the industry yet, so it can be challenging to find the right person for the job.

So where do you start? We work with a lot of marketers who are responsible for personalization in their organizations, so we’ve learned a few things about what makes a successful personalization specialist. Use these tips to build your job description and ask the right questions to find your perfect candidate.

Key Responsibilities and Required Skills

To define the personalization specialist’s responsibilities, you need to think about the gaps that exist on your own team. Here’s a job description you can use as a starting point:

Key Responsibilities

  • Track, analyze and understand visitor behavior on your website
  • Collaborate with team members and execs to conceive personalization campaign ideas
  • Plan, implement and monitor personalization campaigns across channels
  • Maintain ongoing testing to optimize campaigns
  • Measure success and communicate learnings to relevant stakeholders
  • Iterate and augment campaigns based on new learnings
  • Troubleshoot any problems that may occur within personalization campaigns

What are the personal characteristics required to best manage these responsibilities? This person needs to be deeply inquisitive and always questioning “what would happen if we tried this?” This person is constantly innovating, and will never answer “that’s not how things are done here” to a question about trying something new. This person wants to test new things to keep improving, and will never fall into the complacency trap.

This person needs to be able to think about the entire customer journey, from driving people to the site, engaging them, and encouraging them to return — and how each aspect of this journey can be personalized to the individual.

He or she needs to have relevant experience, and while an ideal candidate would have a background in personalization campaigns already, a background in other digital marketing campaigns (such as conversion optimization or demand generation, depending on your industry) could provide a sufficient foundation as well. Innovative email marketers and marketing analytics specialists can also make great candidates.

With that in mind, here are some necessary traits and skills for you to consider for your job description:

Required Skills

  • Curiosity and creativity
  • Innovative spirit
  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to multitask
  • Analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Digital marketing experience
  • Experience with HTML
  • Experience with a web analytics tool
  • Familiarity with A/B and multivariate testing

Questions to Ask in an Interview

The best person for the job might not have “personalization” anywhere in his or her current job title. Here are some questions to ask to figure out if a candidate is the right person for the job during your regular interview process.

Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of.

With this open-ended question, you’re looking to uncover what gets the candidate excited about his work. You want a personalization specialist that thrives on continuously improving and solving complex challenges, so his answer should reflect this. For example, you may know that this person has the mindset you’re looking for if he tells a story about how he was able to improve a critical KPI for his organization, but still believes he could do more.

Would you consider yourself a big-picture person or a detail-oriented person? Please elaborate.

The ideal personalization specialist can see both the forest and the trees. She needs to be able to internalize your company’s cross-channel personalization goals and then identify the best tactics and campaigns to reach them. Use this question to probe for how the candidate thinks, and if she can handle the big picture and the nitty-gritty details.

What would you do differently with the personalization on our site?

This question can be particularly useful if the candidate has digital marketing experience, but no direct experience with personalization. You can assess whether the candidate fully understands what personalization is and can come up with compelling campaign ideas, whether he understands your goals, and whether he has done his research on your website. Use it more as an indicator of how he thinks, rather than trying to catch him unprepared.

What is your favorite website and why?

If you can assess what the candidates thinks of as a successful website, you can get an idea of what she will want to implement for your website. For this question, the answer itself is not important, rather it’s the reasons she gives for her favorite website that are key. Does she like Spotify because she can create her own personalized playlists? Or Amazon because she can always find what she’s looking for quickly? These are good areas for a personalization specialist to value.

Wrap Up

Finding an amazing personalization specialist that you can trust to manage and implement your personalization strategy is a challenge, but it’s worth the effort because a great match will ensure the success of your personalization campaigns. Make sure that you’re looking for the right skills and asking the right questions to find the perfect candidate for you.

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18 Jul 16:24

What Is Team Working for High Performance Teams?

by Guest Blogger

When creating a high performance team, it is necessary to answer one question: what is team working?  

I’m fascinated by the workings of agile teams. What creates a high performing team? How does an individual team member affect organizational health and performance?

While updating a white paper recently, I noticed the author casually mentioned how his clients were asking for information on “agile organizations.” Not being an OD or HR expert, I researched the “Agile” framework. Moreover, this research also helped me to learn about SCRUM. SCRUM a teamwork methodology that takes its name from rugby’s scrimmage line.

What is Team Working with SCRUM?

The Agile movement began as a methodology for developing complex software in an iterative process, rather than a start-to-finish project.

The movement is similar to how General Motor’s “Lean” management concepts took on a wider audience and became a well-studied business process. The Agile methodology has been researched, taught and implemented in the mainstream business world as an alternative to “waterfall” project management, which implies only a forward moving process with only one outcome. Key to the Agile framework is an incremental process. Finally, this project moved forward when the outcomes of one iteration inform the start of the next.

SCRUM is a subset, or “flavor” of Agile. Additionally, this process is about how teams work together to quickly process scope change, manage volatility, react to market forces, and restart the “play.” In other words, it describes a team that is flexible, highly communicative, responsive, disciplined, and able to complete complex projects within specialized small teams.

Similar to how some athletic teams have individual players with specialized roles organized around a common goal, SCRUM has key roles to be implemented and the team remains self-organizing. However, the team works together to be effective. As a result, they uses the SCRUM values: Commitment, Focus, Openness, Respect, and Courage.

What is Team Working: SCRUM Values

Moreover, the value of SCRUM is that it emphasizes individuals and interactions, not processes or tools, to meet team goals. While a definitive definition and implementation of SCRUM is quite complex, it also is organized around values that team benefits from.

What is Team Working: SCRUM #1 – Commitment

The team is governed by realistic goals. Also, an “all in” teamwork approach is mandatory. Goals are realistic and reduced to the smallest, definable denominations possible. Furthermore, this enables clearly defined responsibilities and team members to own their commitments.

What is Team Working: SCRUM #2 – Focus

With the Commitments and Goals realistically defined, team members focus on their own tasks with intensity and clarity. The members can trust knowing that each of the other team members is doing the same. Because the SCRUM process is highly iterative, team members focus on only a few highly specific goals at a time.

What is Team Working: SCRUM #3 – Openness

One of the critical values of SCRUM is openness and transparency. It’s mandatory that each team member’s work is available for observation, scrutiny, and suggestions for improvement. This can be challenging to team members who feel threatened by collaboration. Therefore, it is helpful to think of this not as micromanaging, but as a value based on the Agile tenets of empiricism: transparency, inspection, and adaptation. Finally, empiricism asserts that knowledge comes from what is known, an important counterpoint to secrecy.

What is Team Working: SCRUM #4 – Respect

A highly valued tenet of SCRUM is respect. This goes beyond the golden rule – be nice to others. This value places the onus on the team to not only be respectful of each other, but demand respect on the part of the team to each other.  The team must work respectfully with the strengths and weaknesses of others on the team. Team goals will not be met if there is even one under-performer, so it is for the benefit of the team to work together cohesively.

What is Team Working: SCRUM #5 -Courage

Now why would “courage” be called out specifically? Fundamentally, SCRUM is about honesty – and that can hurt. It takes courage to stand up to a team member, to hold them accountable, and to overcome the “we have always done it this way” or “it’s not my job” mentality. Finally, SCRUM is about change. Teams need to ask “what can we learn” and asking oneself honestly: Did I do the best job (for my team) that I could have done today?

Ultimately, a team taking on the Agile or SCRUM methodology is a large-scale change management and project management issue. Thus, this is not a simple guideline for your next project. An ‘official’ SCRUM guide I consulted puts it succinctly: Scrum is – Lightweight, simple to understand, and difficult to master. However, adhering to the values above could benefit many teams who have been troubled by under-performance, a bad apple, or scope creep.

Lauren Parkhill, Marketing Director, Sonoma Leadership Systems https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurenparkhill

Lauren has a passion for design, marketing, social media, and branding. You will often find her planning and implementing marketing initiatives, maintaining the Sonoma Leadership Systems’ website, developing new content offers and email marketing campaigns, webinars, infographics and curating and creating social media posts. Lauren blogs regularly via “Leadership in the Moment,” Sonoma Leadership Systems’ weekly blog.

Next Steps to learn more on what is team working:

  1. Subscribe to the CONNECT2Win Blog RSS feed to read more examples of team effectiveness in this guest blog series.
  2. Download this free eBook “What Is Team Effectiveness & How Can We Get Some for Our Team? Stat!”
  3. Learn more about the options available to help you enable and ennoble your team. Book a free consultation with Deb. No cost, no obligation.

Team Effectiveness

The blog for everyone who works with anyone

Thank you to Lauren Parkhill for this guest blog post on what is team working. This blog is a product of People First Productivity Solutions where we build organizational strength by putting people first. Our president, Deb Calvert, is a certified executive coach and leadership development specialist, working with teams to bring out the best in everyone.

The post What Is Team Working for High Performance Teams? appeared first on People First.

18 Jul 16:24

How Does Page Load Time Impact Engagement?

by Oliver Palmer

page load time impact engagement

Google’s recent introduction of AMP and Facebook’s Instant Articles (both of which claim to be able to deliver news articles up to 10x faster than the ordinary mobile web) are a wake-up call to newspapers and other publishers around the world.

Both of these initiatives have been introduced in response to the increasingly sluggish loading speeds of mobile news sites. Put simply, they work by removing all of the excess code, trackers, tags and beacons (plus a bit of caching magic) to foreground text and graphic news content without any of the other bloat found on publisher’s own sites.

In each case, the stripped back page is served directly by Google or by Facebook, posing a worst-case-scenario for news publishers where— if they don’t address the issue of increasingly glacial site performance—it’s conceivable that they could forfeit their right to a platform entirely.

Why are news sites getting slower?

As traditional income sources continue to fall through the floor, newspapers have had to become increasingly creative about how they generate revenue. One of the ways that they are pursuing this is through the use of sophisticated advertising technology: specifically, by using tags, trackers and beacons to harvest behavioural data collected from around the web and using this to display more targeted, more valuable advertising placements.

A wide array of ad-tech startups have sprung up to fill this demand. The downside is that the innumerable platforms and networks —all with their proprietary tags and trackers firing on each and every pageview—has a profound effect on page loading speeds.

Things aren’t getting any better, either.

This survey from July 2015 found that between the homepages of 20 major US and European publishers, some 500 different external snippets of Javascript were loaded. Nine months later, that figure has risen to almost 700.

Do these hundreds of lines of externally loaded Javascript code impact how fast a page loads? By how much? And what impact does this have on user engagement and retention?

This is what my colleagues and I set out to understand.

Quantifying the impact of page loading speed

the telegraph uk a/b testing page load time

The Telegraph — a 161-year-old broadsheet British newspaper — is focusing on providing excellent digital products and experiences through A/B testing.

Like many publishers around the world, The Telegraph — a 161-year-old broadsheet British newspaper — is focusing on providing excellent digital products and experiences.

In early 2014 the business established a brand new Product and UX team and, soon after, engaged the services of Easter Island Heads to help set up an in-house A/B testing program with Optimizely.

Site performance was an issue that cropped up continually as we began to define a testing backlog in meetings with stakeholders from across the business.

The way they told it, the advertising team continually asked for new tracking scripts to be added to the site to help raise CPMs in the face of ambitious and unrelenting revenue targets. In response, the engineering team would talk about ‘performance budgeting’ and other measures to try and quell the slowing of pages but found that in reality there wasn’t much they could do.

The main reason for this was metrics, or lack thereof. Beyond the general feeling that slowing the site down wasn’t such a fantastic idea, they didn’t have any tangible metrics to prove it.

The ad team, by contrast, could show that the new trackers were generating revenue; a fairly tough metric to argue with, despite the fact that almost everyone in the business felt that slowing down the site could have a profound long-term impact on user engagement and retention.

With the blessing of the Telegraph’s Head of Product, Alex Watson, developer Stephen Giles and I set out to design an A/B test to simulate the loading of external tags. We would artificially slow the site down in order to measure the impact on overall user engagement and retention to try and model out the relationship between site speed and overall revenue.

Making things worse to make things better

At this stage, The Telegraph was adding somewhere in the realm of one and five new tracking tags to the site every month.

Stephen devised a range of custom Ad Block Pro scripts to selectively remove some of these trackers to help us understand the impact that they were having on page load performance.

We then painstakingly tested page load timings over and over again and we found that average latency was somewhere between 1 and 5 seconds for each tag.

While it would be difficult to remove any existing tags on the site for the purposes of the test, we reasoned that we could try and look into the future to understand what the addition of new trackers could have on user engagement as measured by total pageviews per variant.

How we slowed down the site (on purpose)

Latency was generated for each variant in Optimizely using a Javascript method which delayed the ‘Document Ready’ function and made a call to an Amazon EC2 instance which contained additional code containing this same delay method.

By tweaking and testing these variables, we were able to come up with four consistently proportional delays across four different variants:

  • Variant A: ~4 seconds
  • Variant B: ~8 seconds
  • Variant C: ~16 seconds
  • Variant D: ~20 seconds

On slower connections, the delay was greater and on faster connections, it was less but we found that it was more or less proportionately accurate.

What we discovered

We ran the test on just a tiny fraction of traffic, yet still managed to test a few hundred thousand visitors over a two week period.

By integrating Optimizely with Adobe Analytics we were able to measure a wide range of engagement metrics (Number of Repeat Visits, Pages Per Session, etc.) and slice into the results by different user segments (subscribers vs. non-subscribers, for instance) to properly understand the wider picture.

This simple Optimizely goal which measured total pageviews per variant, however, gives a basic overview of what we found:

  • Variant A: ~4 seconds delay -11.02% pageviews
  • Variant B: ~8 seconds delay -17.52% pageviews
  • Variant C: ~16 seconds delay -20.53% pageviews
  • Variant D: ~20 seconds delay -44.19% pageviews

Predictably, the more we slowed the site down the less frequently users returned to the site and the fewer pages they viewed.

We were surprised to see that Telegraph readers tended to be fairly loyal and resilient in the face of significant page loading delays. This undoubtedly reflects the nature of the UK press but users on other sites are unlikely to be so patient: a dyed-in-the-wool Telegraph reader won’t suddenly start reading The Guardian, even if they have to wait 16 seconds longer for a page to load.

You won’t believe what happened next! (ok, you might)

Using a metric developed by the Telegraph’s internal strategy team representing the monetary value of a pageview (based on different revenue streams from advertising, affiliate partnerships and sponsored content and so on), we were able to model out the overall revenue impact of each variant.

By doing so, we could paint an accurate picture of the cost to user engagement of any new on-site changes which incur a detrimental impact on page performance.

While there’s still a long way to go, this results of this test provided key data to help frame the debate around site performance and, for now, at least, has armed the UK’s oldest broadsheet newspaper with the data it needs to best serve readers and advertisers alike.

18 Jul 16:21

Buyers Are Not Demanding You Social Sell Them

by Anthony Iannarino

No one is waiting for your cold call. No one has ever said to themselves upon awakening, “Man, I hope some salesperson calls me out of the blue today.” The chances of the words being uttered at any time in the future are precisely 0.0%.

Nor is there anyone demanding that you social sell them, either.

Buyers are not hoping that you to send them an invitation on LinkedIn and follow it up by hammering them with an appointment request a half millisecond later. They don’t hope for a completely self-oriented email that creates no value for them. There isn’t anything here that makes this approach inherently better than a phone call.

No buyer is waiting for you to tweet them, nor are they waiting for a direct message. No one is waiting to engage with you on Twitter. No one is begging for you to share links with them, or hoping that you be patient while they come to realize that all of your sharing on social media means that you are someone who can help them with their challenges or opportunities.

If you’re going to be a thought leader, you are going to need compelling content. If you are going to use social tools to build your personal brand and create new opportunities, you are going to have to go deep, creating content that distinguishes you within your space. If you are going to curate or synthesize other people’s content, you are going to have to add something meaningful, some point of view that is valuable, something that makes your thought leadership stand out.

No one is demanding that you social sell them, because no is demanding that you sell them at all.

Because social selling doesn’t actually happen. Customers won’t discover you via your social efforts and sign up. Your social activity can create awareness of you and what you represent, but it doesn’t change what actually must occur for you to sell.

 You will still need to do what sales people have always done. Make contact. Create opportunity. Create value. And make the sale.

The post Buyers Are Not Demanding You Social Sell Them appeared first on The Sales Blog.

18 Jul 16:21

Don Your Cape and Be the Sales Hero Your Buyers Want You to Be

by PFPS

This is the “call to arms” that is transforming selling. Your buyers want you to be their sales hero, their champion who drives profit and is an earnings contributor.

Learn from author and sales trainer Bob Rickert what it means to drive profit as a seller, supplier or service provider. He’ll explain how to modify your sales language, tailor your sales approach and amplify your voice by putting profit at the heartDeb Calvert on Connect Radio of every customer conversation. Bob’s explanations will make it easy for you to become a sales hero.

Excerpts from Show Host Deb Calvert’s Interview with Bob Rickert on becoming a Sales Hero

Deb: “You mention financial literacy. How much does a seller really need to know about that to be able to connect with customer?”

Bob: “In order for you to sell higher, you have to understand how companies make money, how cash flows in their business. So what are the key elements of their business that really drive their decisions every time they try to grow their profit line.”

Deb: “What does it mean to become commoditized?”

Bob: “To be commoditized is basically to be viewed by the customersas somebody that’s not really different from all your competitors. So they may look at your product and service or your company… and they may say, you know, what you do is probably exactly the same as two or three of your other competitors.”

Deb: “What are the benefits that a seller will be able to take advantage of and enjoy from reading your book and what you are suggesting?”

Bob: “I think that, first of all, you are able to build confidence over time. It’s not something you do overnight, but it’s something you want… Doing these things can help it grow more rapidly.”

Be the Sales Hero Your Customers Want You to be! Tune in to this archived interview for more about how you can do this.

Listen to the rest of this enlightening interview with Bob Rickert to get detailed information about how to become a Profit Hero, a special kind of Sales Hero. There’s no better way to maximize your windshield time than by listening to CONNECT! Online Radio for Sales Professionals™. We will help you cut out continuances, put an end to pending and stop stalling out in sales.

Online Business Radio at Blog Talk Radio with CONNECT1 on BlogTalkRadio

The post Don Your Cape and Be the Sales Hero Your Buyers Want You to Be appeared first on People First.

18 Jul 16:21

4 B2B Content Secrets You Fail to Use

by Dan Stelter "The B2B Lead Gen Guy"

B2B-Content-Secrets

“When writing copy, assume that your product is the last thing on your reader’s mind.” Bob Bly shares that great insight in his Bob Bly’s Secrets of Successful Business-to-Business Direct Marketing special report.

And yet, much B2B content marketing is relatively immature, focusing on the product, features, and benefits. As the research reveals:

  • Eccolo Media says “B2B buyers think white papers have too much marketing hype, not enough truly unbiased information, too general of information, and they’re too long”

B2B buyers think white papers have too much marketing hype, biased, too long & general via @eccolomedia
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  • Forrester reports that 71% of B2B marketers say “…their content features case studies or customer stories, [but] only 3% admit this is a primary focus.”

What should you do in your content? What actually works?

Questions like these bothered me for a long time. I did some research, thinking, and networking to find out what really works. I checked 100 B2B tech and software company home pages to see how many assume that their product is the last thing on their audience’s mind.

Here’s what I’ve concluded.

Buyers don’t decide the way you think they do

You might think B2B buyers move through a fairly linear process — recognize the problem, find out what they need in a solution, research possible solutions, request and evaluate proposals, make their decision, and evaluate it while in action. Simple and straightforward, right?

Well, that’s not really how buyers’ minds work. They move through stages of awareness in more of a “spider-web” fashion. This graphic from Forrester illustrates what would take me thousands of words to explain:

B2B-Buyer-Behavior

Image source: Forrester

Your home page most likely is the single most-viewed page of any of your content over the long term. If you aim for perfection in your marketing, that’s the place to do it. I checked out 100 B2B software and tech company home pages to see if they discussed:

  • Buyer pain
  • Fear of loss
  • Business value
  • Personal value
  • Stakeholder conflicts
  • Product features and benefits

During the evaluation, I marked a “yes” or “no” for each of the six features. I gave a company credit for a feature if it addressed it in even the smallest way.

1. Does it address buyer pain?

B2B-Page-Discuss-Pain

More than three-fourths of the companies weren’t sophisticated enough to include content that got to their audience’s pain points. And of those that did, most did not make me “feel it.” Pain got just a brief mention (a few words or a sentence or so).

Opportunity missed.

Google, Motista, and CEB’s Marketing Leadership Council surveyed 3,000 purchasers and 36 B2B brands in various industries. They found that “B2B customers are significantly more emotionally connected to their vendors and service providers than consumers.”


#B2B customers are more emotionally connected to vendors & service providers than consumers via @google
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Why? Think about the stakes B2B buyers face. The purchase could require a six- or seven-figure investment. They have to justify their decision to an average of 5.4 people and sometimes 20 or more. Make a bad decision, and they’ve suddenly lost lots of credibility and respect. They could even get fired.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:
10 Mistakes Content Creators Need to Avoid

2. Does it address fear of loss?

B2B-Page-Fear-Of-Loss

Nothing is a more powerful motivator for any human than fear of loss. But, just three of the companies discussed this anywhere on their home page.

While the headline on your home page would be the most powerful place to address fear, none of the reviewed websites did so.

Opportunity missed.

How do you convey how your product or service can alleviate that fear or other pain? Copywriter Dan Kennedy once said:

When you understand that people are more likely to act to avoid pain than to get gain, you’ll understand how powerful this first formula (problem-agitate-solve) is.

A Science study found that when something is framed as a “loss,” people are more likely to take steps to avoid that “loss” even if the net effect is the same.


People are more likely to act to avoid pain than to get gain says @dankennedy_nu #contentmarketing
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3. Does it cover product features and benefits?

B2B-Page-Product's-Features-Benefits

Most do. However, how many cover these to the extent prospective buyers want?

The home pages generally fell into two categories:

  • Thoroughly discussed major features and benefits (usually three to six of each)
  • Casually mentioned without any major highlighting of features and benefits

Opportunity gained (maybe). Since buyers prefer other types of content to features and benefits, their inclusion may not be as valuable as you think.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:
31 Types of Content We Crave [Infographic]

4. Does it address possible stakeholder conflicts?

B2B-Page-Stakeholder-Conflicts

Well, this is an easy chart to read. Not a single B2B company addressed stakeholder conflicts.

Opportunity missed.

Group conflicts peak early in most buying journeys, according to CEB Group research. CEB found these strategies work best for creating consensus:

  • Focus on common ground among stakeholders through shared learning and content topics preferred by multiple parties.
  • Decrease perceived risk and increase perceived rewards of “motivating mobilizers” or those who can wield influence over the decision.
  • Equip mobilizers with the tools they need to be effective, such as content on communicating the value of your solution to others in your organization.

The research also revealed that while personalization is important, you have to be careful about how you do it. When you personalize the message too much, the buyer focuses narrowly on their own needs, ignoring those of others involved in the decision. And you can guess what happens to the decision when everyone chooses to go their own way.

5. Does it discuss benefits to the business?

B2B-Page-Discuss-Business-Benefits

Here, B2B websites did a nice job overall, and some were better than others.

The better websites gave specific and compelling benefits relevant to their products and services. The not-as-good websites offered fairly generic benefits that just about any software could provide.

Opportunity gained (mostly).

6. Does it mention personal benefits?

B2B-Page-Discuss-Personal-Benefits

Personal benefits play such a big role in B2B buying, but prospects rarely think companies help them get those benefits. Kapost said just 31% of B2B buyers think brands provide personal value.

As you can see, my research supports that claim but is a little more extreme — only 2% mentioned personal benefits.


2% of #B2B buyers think brands provide personal benefits via @dansteltercopy #contentmarketing
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Opportunity missed.

Wait, aren’t you supposed to present your product or service so the buyer sees the business value in it? Absolutely. However, buyers consider personal benefits with twice the weight of business ones. Check out that and more reasons in this graphic from Kapost:

Emotion-Influences-B2B-Buying

Image source: Kapost

Some other stats also raised my eyebrows:

  • 68% of buyers who see a personal value will pay a higher price for a service
  • 71% of buyers who see personal value will purchase a product

71% of buyers who see personal value will purchase a product via @kapost #contentmarketing
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Clearly, your content needs to emphasize personal value in addition to the benefits to the business.


#Content needs to emphasize personal value in addition to business benefits says @dansteltercopy
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How to do it all

You now have a convincing case to add these ingredients to your content marketing to make it more effective. But, how do you pull it off? Try this simple, five-step formula and start with the content on your home page:

  1. Begin with the pain to engage and build interest — your headline could be the best place to do this.
  2. Detail the business and personal benefits offered.
  3. Address the stakeholder conflicts to build consensus.
  4. Introduce your product/service benefits.
  5. Show the features that make those benefits possible.

Conclusion

In terms of content about product features and benefits, and business benefits, my research shows that B2B companies address them well on their home pages. However, I also see that big opportunities are still available to better connect with B2B buyers — opportunities to directly address stakeholder conflicts, fear of loss, buyer pain, and personal value.

Want to solve your content marketing pains? Subscribe to the free daily or weekly CMI newsletter with helpful tips, how-to’s, trends, and more.

Cover image by Viktor Hanacek, picjumbo, via pixabay.com

The post 4 B2B Content Secrets You Fail to Use appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.

18 Jul 16:20

5 Innovative Ideas to Boost Sales

by Ben Camerota

Focus on the following big sales drivers this year, and you’ll position your business for massive growth

Whether your business is year ‘round busy or has its ups and downs throughout the year, you’re probably always on the hunt for more sales. Sales and the related revenues are the lifeblood of the business, and even a modest increase in sales can trigger downstream benefits to your bottom line that can support bigger marketing spends, more sales staff, a better online presence, and more. Here are five innovative ideas to boost sales:

1. Get social

Ok, we get it. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past ten years you probably know all about social media and its influence on the buying public. Engage your audience via social media and create compelling interactions between the public and your business. Partner with a reputable online marketing firm to help drive your social media persona; they’ll know the areas in which to invest to net the biggest returns.

For instance, they’ll probably tell you that YouTube delivers the highest levels of engaged website traffic, as most users spend several minutes visiting pages on the site. They may also tell you that 93% of shopper buying decisions are driven or at least influenced by social media. To boost sales this year, invest in a robust social media marketing program to supplement the grassroots marketing activities you’re already doing.

2. Automate your marketing activities

While many business owners focus on the most basic and accessible marketing principles available, those who really want to boost sales will invest in automated marketing systems that can take sales to another level. These automated management steps can integrate direct mail, online marketing, advertising, customer service, email marketing, distribution management, and more, leaving you with less to worry about and more to gain. The idea is to increase marketing productivity, not to spend more money on marketing. If you boost sales while simultaneously reduce your per-customer marketing expense, you’ll see improvements in bottom-line profit and operating efficiency.

3. Create a rewards program

When designing a rewards program, you have to think about your business model and what you’re really looking to achieve. For example, credit card companies offer cash back as a way to entice spending, which can translate into significantly higher levels of interest income down the road for the financial institution. Quick serve restaurants often create punch cards that offer a free meal for every ten bought. The fundamental driver behind a rewards program is to create repeat business and enhanced customer loyalty, so determine what it is you want and design the program around that!

4. Sponsor community events

What better way to boost sales than by creating greater local visibility for your brand? To do so, partner with businesses in your immediate market to create compelling events and marketing opportunities that can spur growth for all partner companies. Sponsor a bowling night, offer promotional giveaways at an upcoming regional sporting event, or support a business mixer that can connect businesses in your local area. Make sure that you deliver a stunning visual presentation to complement your promotional ideas and activities: think tents, tables, banners and the like. Once you have the support of the community, you’ll find that it is much easier to drive sales and earn more money.

5. Become a resource

If you primarily sell a product or service and are looking for ways to increase sales, consider becoming a “go-to resource” for your valued clients. It isn’t enough to simply list a bunch of items for sale and hope that they sell, you must also deliver client support, information and guidance. For instance, if you own a plumbing parts business, consider creating short, web-based instructional videos on ways that homeowners can complete small projects themselves. They’ll appreciate the support and guidance as well as probably come to you for the necessary parts in the future. You’ve become the resource and you’re poised to boost sales.

The five ideas above can help to form the foundation for an amazing sales strategy. Prioritize your activities and your marketing dollars and get ready to reap the rewards this year!

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

18 Jul 16:20

The Formula for Hiring Sales Development Reps That Are Successful

by Mateo Askaripour

Whether it’s in an interview with a prospective hire or just chatting with fellow sales managers, the question of “what are the main traits your most successful reps embody?” comes up again and again. After having had ample opportunity to think about this, I’ve arrived at four core characteristics our best SDRs embody.

Characteristic #1: Organized

With hundreds, sometimes thousands, of leads in play, it’s almost too easy for a rep to become disorganized. If they forget to disposition (CRM maintenance) a lead who they set a meeting with, they may end up calling them a dozen more times and lose the opportunity. If their calendar isn’t up-to-date, they’re likely to miss meetings. The list goes on and on in terms of the potential pitfalls of lack of organization. The best SDRs know that it’s tough enough to connect with and then qualify prospects, and that a messy prospect relationship management platform or calendar is counter-intuitive. A handful of my best reps block off specific times on their calendars to organize their leads in our platform, their emails, and also their calendars. Some reps do it every morning before they start the day and every evening as they’re ending the day. Some take an hour each Sunday in order to get ahead of the week. The point is, A-player reps understand that spending an extra 1-2 hours a week to get organized will save them a ton of time (and headaches) in the future.

Characteristic #2: Focused

High-performance sales organizations often feature cultures that work hard and play hard. It takes a certain type of person to be able to get their work done in an environment like this – especially when, a lot of times, they’re just out of college. What does this mean for SDRs? This means that from your first interaction with them (the interview), you need to let them know that while they’re joining a fun workplace, the keyword is “work” and they’re there to contribute to your organization in an impactful way. The best SDRs know this and place an emphasis on doing absolutely everything in their power to not just achieve their goals, but go above them.

Characteristic #3: Resilient

Regardless of if your sales team is heavily-focused on making 100+ calls per day, sending out hundreds of emails, or doing research on contacts to then employ a hyper-personalized approach, the job of an SDR is tough. So tough, in fact, that according to TOPO, the average tenure of an SDR in a rapidly-growing organization is under 12 months. Yes, one year. This is because many organizations adopt an “up or out” mentality and reps grind as hard as they can to get promoted ASAP.

With that in mind, reps are also facing rejection upwards of 90-95% each day. On many days, it’s 100%. Think of this. How many times have one of your reps made 100 calls or sent out 100 in a day and not connected with a single person? Or, if they connected with 10 people, never set a meeting? The rejection in and of itself is emotionally draining. But, the best reps don’t take it to heart. They quickly understand that it’s part of the game and that the best thing they can do is remain positive and find new and better ways of working. The best reps get knocked down again and again, but keep going because they understand that what they’re doing isn’t easy. Hopefully, your company is as ambitious as your reps are and they see that, too.

Characteristic #4: Responsible

Have you ever heard a rep say, “But, (Head of Sales Development), we’re not getting enough leads to achieve our goals,” or “I missed my quota because it was too high, can we lower it?”

If you did, you probably already know that this isn’t a top rep. Top reps take responsibility and ownership for both their successes and their failures. They don’t blame external factors when things go wrong and they certainly don’t look to cut corners to achieve their goals. Instead, they ask for feedback. They look inwards and ask themselves what they could do better as opposed to blaming their misfortune on “luck.” They’re proactive instead of reactive and are always looking to fine-tune their own strategies, even if they’re working because they know that the success they’re experiencing in the world of today can quickly change in the world of tomorrow.

For example, one of my best reps today was once put on a performance improvement plan (PiP) a few months into starting her job with us. Instead of blaming her leads, her manager, or anything else in the world, she put a plan together to get off of the PiP and worked day in and day out to achieve her goal, which she did. A lesser rep who was averse to taking ownership would have given up from the get-go.

As I think more on the question of, “what are the main traits your most successful reps embody?” I’m slowly arriving at another conclusion: “It depends.” Some of your most successful reps may be humorous, “hard-working,” or entrepreneurial, etc. The list could go on and on. Regardless of which attributes you decide to place the most emphasis on, it’s key to identify these characteristics in reps from the initial interview, be completely transparent with them regarding what you expect of them, and work very hard to instill these traits when all is well and especially when the going gets tough.

18 Jul 16:19

Why Account Based Strategies Work in B2B Sales & Marketing

by Brandon Redlinger

The following is an excerpt from a brand-new eBook from Ambition, PersistIQ and LeadGenius: Bridging the Gap: The Basics of Account Based Marketing and Selling.

Account based strategies work because they incorporate everything B2B marketing and sales teams do to target, close, and grow the best possible accounts. Account based strategies are not only personalized, they leverage basic human emotions and group dynamics for more effective selling.

Account-based marketing has boomed in the last two years, in large part because technology now automates the process of decision maker identification. With an account-based approach, every buyer can feel that the sales process is customized specifically for them.

B2B sales reps should be willing to walk a mile in their customers’ shoes. Successful account based strategies are grounded with emotion. Empathy is key to building out your buyer personas and understanding your audience’s motivations and pain points.

Engage.io’s John Miller has a great distillation on why Account Based Marketing works. “First and foremost: Reach the right people with a targeted strategy. That’s ABM. Rather than waiting around for the right people from the right companies to come swimming to your net, ABM allows you to reach out the right people with a targeted strategy.”

Add in the fact that B2B purchases always close faster with organizational buy-in, and you have quite a compelling case for account based marketing and sales.

Account Based Strategy: Familiar Principles & Key Concepts

Well-orchestrated account based strategies share a few fundamental characteristics. To quote Tomasz Tunguz of Redpoint Ventures, “an Account Based Strategy is built on the idea of creating many advocates within a company in order to close a sale. Sales and marketing teams use ABS to concentrate their efforts on a discrete list of target accounts.”

Account Based Strategies are not a departure from what many would recognize “regular” or “traditional” marketing and sales. Rather, Account Based Strategies are a combination of familiar principles applied and concentrated toward a B2B audience.

PREDICTABLE LEAD GENERATION

One of the hallmarks of a solid SDR program is that lead generation (and the cost of securing those leads) is predictable from month to month and quarter to quarter.

If your lead projection numbers fall consistently off target (either positively or negatively), it’s time to pinpoint why. Even if your efforts generate significantly more leads than expected for a given time period, it can be concerning. While it’s usually good to have more leads (in most cases—see a caveat to this rule later in the list), you want to ensure you understand what is driving the increase in leads. Fine-tuning the measurement of your outbound marketing campaigns so that you understand what the levers are for each tactic and what effect it has on the outcome is key to accurately projecting lead volume. And a more accurate projection of lead volume not only demonstrates the value of marketing to the rest of the business, it shows that you are in firm command of what works, why, and what the business can expect as a result.

GROUP DYNAMICS

An account based marketing strategy is similar to what is traditionally called enterprise sales. The primary difference is that an account based strategy can be used to target a company of any size. Instead of messaging only to decision makers within a company, sales and marketing work together to simultaneously target multiple decision makers, with different roles and responsibilities. The concept involves leveraging dynamics of group psychology to close an account.

Rather than waiting for a decision maker to inbound companies using an account based strategy aim to speed up their sales cycle by targeting additional influencers directly.

By the time the decision maker at the company requests a demo, there will be a panel of people at the company who are knowledgeable about what you offer. When they go into their next meeting, your company’s name is on the tip of everyone’s tongue.

Group Dynamics image

PERSONALIZATION

Today’s sales teams are challenged with sending tens of thousands of emails while maintaining a high standard of customization in each message. The more specific, accurate merge fields available, the greater the capacity for personalization. The more personalized an email, the greater the likelihood of a positive response. Even with a proven process, personalization at scale is hard, however, and not everyone knows how to do this effectively, so it’s important to hire and train well across your sales and marketing teams.

In order for these principles to be effective, Account Based Strategies must be applied all the way through the marketing and sales process. The gap between sales and marketing is an age-old chasm. Now more than ever, the Sales Development Representative (SDR) plays a key role in bridging the gap.

The Rise of SDRs

Lars Nilsson, VP of Global Inside Sales at Cloudera and who coined the term Account Based Sales Development states: “I called it ABSD because it is very much the SDR whom has the focus and control of both the technology and the multi-step processes that have to come together in order to execute a flawless outbound campaign. The SDR is in essence the quarterback for ABSD and can allow for scale across your target accounts.”

The largest and easiest cost to overlook for any SDR program always comes down to one thing: time.

And what is the most important activity that reps spend their time doing? Generating leads! With the recent role specification and birth of the SDR, sales teams have gone from buying leads to bringing the task in-house. Provide your SDRs with all the training and technology to succeed, the true cost of even a small team of 6 reps can cost upward of $30K per month. That covers salary, coaching and training, technology, and everything else for a fully operational sales team. That’s a lot of money to protect someone’s time.

So, what do we do to protect the reps’ time? We invest in tools and technologies that will help automate pieces of their job, making them better, fast and stronger.

16 Jul 16:58

7 things that make mosquitoes bite you more

by Mike Nudelman and Rebecca Harrington

Mosquitoes choose their prey — you — based on a whole bunch of factors. But there's good news: Some of the things that might make you especially attractive to them are things you can actually change. Scientific research has found evidence supporting several reasons why mosquitoes may seek you out.

These studies are often on different kinds of mosquitoes, however, so the actual things attracting them to you may vary depending on which species are nearby. And many of these studies are small, so these are preliminary hypotheses about what might be going on, not ironclad conclusions.

Since — depending on the types of mosquitoes in your area — these little flying beasts can transmit deadly diseases like Zika, malaria, yellow fever, dengue, Chikungunya, and West Nile virus, it would be wise to try to reduce your allure as much as you can. Here are seven things that could make you irresistible to the pests:

BI_Graphics_Things that make mosquitoes bite you more

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Mosquitoes are the most dangerous creatures on Earth — should we kill them all?

16 Jul 16:54

MRI with nanoscale resolution

by noreply@blogger.com (brian wang)
A new NMR microscope gives researchers an improved instrument to study fundamental physical processes. It also offers new possibilities for medical science, for example to better study proteins in Alzheimer patients’ brains.

This is a major step forward towards the ultimate goal of a device that can measure variations at the nanoscale to study the properties of the inhomogeneous electron systems which are at the forefront of modern condensed-matter physics, such as the surface states of topological insulators, oxide interfaces and other strongly correlated electron systems including the high-Tc superconductors

If you get a knee injury, physicians use an MRI machine to look right through the skin and see what exactly is the problem. For this trick, doctors make use of the fact that our body’s atomic nuclei are electrically charged and spin around their axis. Just like small electromagnets they induce their own magnetic field. By placing the knee in a uniform magnetic field, the nuclei line up with their axis pointing in the same direction. The MRI machine then sends a specific type of radio waves through the knee, causing some axes to flip. After turning off this signal, those nuclei flip back after some time, under excitation of a small radio wave. Those waves give away the atoms’ location, and provide physicians with an accurate image of the knee.

NMR

MRI is the medical application of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), which is based on the same principle and was invented by physicists to conduct fundamental research on materials. One of the things they study with NMR is the so-called relaxation time. This is the time scale at which the nuclei flip back and it gives a lot of information about a material’s properties.

NMR microscope, consisting of a thin wire and a small magnetic ball (fake color purple). The purple ball induces a uniform magnetic field, so that the surrounding atomic nuclei all line up with their axis pointing in the same direction. The researchers send radio waves through their sample, causing some nuclei to flip the other way, and measure how long it takes before they flip back again.

Arxiv and Physical Review Applied - Probing the Nuclear Spin-lattice Relaxation time at the Nanoscale

Read more »
16 Jul 16:48

There’s a Perfect App For Every Business Traveler

by James Brockbank

Traveling with work is, for many, stressful. Whilst those back in the office often think business travel is nothing but over-dinner meetings and nights on the town with clients, in reality, that couldn’t be any further from the truth. On many occasions, such traveling involves long journeys, next to no time between arriving and a meeting or conference and rarely time to grab much more than a sandwich before heading back!

Add to that the need to accurately record and file business expenses, find your way around a place you likely aren’t familiar with and a whole host of other ‘issues’ and it’s easy to see why many don’t enjoy traveling with work as much as many assume they should.

If this sounds like you on a regular basis, you’ve probably found your own ways of making things a little less hassle-free and implemented a number of your own ‘hacks’ for staying sane, however for those who are infrequent travellers, a little guidance from those who would class themselves as veterans can be a huge help!

Every Business Traveler Owns A Smartphone & Tablet

Luckily, perhaps, in 2016 you’d be hard pushed to find many business travelers who don’t own a smartphone and a tablet and for this reason, help is at your fingertips; often for free!

Whilst many associate ‘apps’ with the likes of Facebook and Angry Birds, spend a few minutes taking a look around the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store and you’ll see that there are thousands upon thousands of business, productivity, and travel apps. This, in many ways, is great as it means there really is an app for just about everything; however, it also means that it’s difficult to sift out the gems from the drivel!

5 Recommended Apps

I recently read a post titled ‘15 Apps Every Business Traveller Needs To Know About‘ which got me thinking about the gems found on my iPhone and I thought it was worth sharing! Of course, whilst there’s 15 there, there are literally hundreds which are nothing short of great, however my top 5 must-download business travel apps are:

  1. Uber

    A smartphone without Uber on it in 2016? Are you kidding? If you’ve not yet tried Uber, you’re missing out! Never again will booking a cab be difficult!

  2. WiFi Finder

    Don’t you just hate it when you urgently need to send an email but are either struggling with roaming or there’s a large attachment? WiFi finder will help you to easily and quickly locate the nearest public WiFi spot.

  3. Google Translate

    If you’re traveling abroad there’s a good chance it’ll be to countries where you’re not fluent in their native language. Whilst Google Translate isn’t perfect in terms of translation accuracy of full paragraphs, that’s not what it’s there for and it’ll do a great job of helping you to understand road signs, menus, and the likes.

  4. Evernote

    Much like Uber; Evernote is a must-have app for any businessperson at all who needs to take quick notes, write simple to-do lists or simply collate a number of different document together. Free and simple to use!

  5. GateGuru

    Whilst perhaps not as established as the others, GateGuru is perfect for keeping up-to-date about your flight without having to sit and watch the departure boards. Give it a go and never again will you wonder if you’ve got time to grab a bite to eat.

That’s mine, but the question is, what are your must-download travel apps?

16 Jul 16:48

Instagram: 6 Tools for Business Use

by Paul Chaney

Instagram is a photo-sharing platform that gives users the ability to post photos in real-time via their mobile device. As its popularity has grown, business owners have taken an interest in using Instagram to promote their company, engage with potential customers, develop a fan base and ultimately, increase revenue

What follows is a list of six tools that work with Instagram, which you can use to perform a variety of tasks, either on a mobile device or desktop computer.

The tools enable you to upload images from your computer, schedule them for publishing, and, in some cases, update Facebook or Twitter. Two of the tools even help you choose the right hashtags to use in your Instagram description.

1. Gramblr

Gramblr

Instagram only permits you to post photos from your mobile device. Gramblr is a free program that enables you to upload and share photos to Instagram directly from your desktop or laptop computer and post updates to Facebook and Twitter as well. The tool also has a clean and easy to use interface that many users will appreciate.

The main difference between Gramblr and most of the other tools on the list is that it is a downloadable program, not web-based. That means that you will need to install it on your computer before being able to update Instagram.

On the downside, Gramblr only allows you to upload one photo at a time and, unlike the native Instagram app, does not provide photo filters. Neither does it notify you when a photo uploads successfully.

Cost: Free

2. Later

Later Instagram scheduling tool

Later lets you schedule photos from your computer or mobile device for posting to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

The application functions as an editorial calendar in that it does not post to Instagram for you. Instead, it lets you schedule Instagram updates via the website and sends a notification to your mobile device when it’s time for you to post. When clicked, the notification takes you directly to the Instagram app so that you can upload your image.

The program utilizes a web-based interface where you can schedule Instagram posts to go out at specific intervals. It also supports multiple Instagram accounts and allows additional members of your team to access the program if needed.

Later requires you to download its mobile app, which is available on both iOS and Android versions.

Cost: Free for up to 30 uploads per month. For $19 per month, you can upload as many as 250 images.

3. Crowdfire

Crowdfire

Crowdfire enables you to schedule your Instagram and Twitter posts. You can choose to post manually, or it will choose the best times to post based on when your followers are most active. Once you have created your post and written a description, Crowdfire will analyze the information and suggest the best hashtags to use.

The app limits you to 10 posts a day. Photo filters are not available. It has apps for iOS and Android devices.

Cost: A free plan is available, although limited; premium plans start at $9.99 per month.

4. InstaPic

Instapic

InstaPic, made exclusively for Windows, mimics Instagram in that it lets you perform all of the same actions that you would as if you were using Instagram on a mobile device. Instead, it is all done on your Windows 10 computer.

InstaPic does not allow you to schedule posts and only works with Instagram. However, it is a helpful program to have available if you want to use Instagram on a visually larger scale.

Cost: Free (with ads); $2.99 to remove ads.

5. ScheduGram

Schedugram

ScheduGram allows you to upload pictures and videos and then schedule them for posting to multiple Instagram accounts. Once uploaded, you can crop images, add filters or text, and rotate images before posting. Like the other tools, you can post immediately or schedule pictures to go out later. You can also manage multiple accounts, which includes giving access to multiple users.

Cost: ScheduGram offers a free 7-day trial (credit card required), then $20 per month for up to 10,000 followers. Monthly pricing increases as your follower count increases.

6. Onlypult

Onlypult

Onlypult also lets you schedule and post Instagram updates. With this web-based application, you can upload images from your computer, apply filters, manage one or many Instagram accounts, and invite team members to use the program.

You schedule posts using the “Planner” feature, which lets you select the dates and times to post to Instagram. Once you chose an image, Onlypult suggests relevant hashtags for use in your descriptions.

Onlypult works solely with Instagram.

Cost: Pricing starts at $12 per month and offers a 7-day free trial.

16 Jul 16:46

8 Methods To Speed Up Writing and Produce Quality Blog Posts

by Luana Spinetti

8 Methods To Speed Up Writing and Produce Quality Blog Posts

Writing a blog post isn’t easy, but writing a blog post that converts is even more difficult.

You have audience data to dig through, experts to find and quote, data from case studies and reports to find and include to support your topic. It’s really not the quick, few steps process you follow to write a personal opinion post.

A 2015 study by HubSpot shows that, on average, most marketers worldwide take 1-2 hours to get a well-researched, quality 500-word blog post done.

Blogging Time Data by HubSpot

Yes, the data is for a 500-word blog posts. Double, triple, quadruple that time for lengthy posts (like the one you’re reading).

Sometimes you can dilute writing effort over several days, but what happens when you are writing on a short, non-extendable deadline? Maybe you have a guest post to write, an article to get done for a client or a sponsored post to publish by a specific date.

All these cases demand strong time management skills and strict adherence to a schedule.

But it doesn’t have to be stressful! You don’t have to grind your teeth. The solution is to work smarter, not harder.

And you work smarter when you write faster and more efficiently.

In this post, you will find 8 methods to structure your post and speed up your writing that I personally use when I work on my blog posts. Whether you use all of them or just some, according to your personal writing process, you will write more quickly and efficiently, without stress.

Also, if you, like me, suffer from anxiety and depression, you may want to combine the techniques in this post with the 7 coping strategies to write an outstanding blog post when you’re broken inside (no fluff, those are 7 real strategies I use to get writing done when my mind is not in good shape).

Speed Up Your Writing and Blog More Efficiently

1. Get Analytical on that Headline

You came up with a great headline that you know will suck readers right into the copy.

Here’s the thing, though – how can you quickly go from your headline to full copy? How can you structure your content in a way that it delivers what your headline promises?

The analysis method takes your headline and breaks it down to produce a first outline of your blog post. Here’s how the method works:

  • Take a look at your headline. What is it telling you? How can you tackle everything it promises in the copy?
  • Grab a piece of paper and write your headline down in a centered position, so that you can write all around it
  • Let your mind go wild during this stage and brainstorm as many ideas as possible

Here is a live example applied to one of my upcoming posts for n0tSEO.com:

The Headline Analysis Method (by Luana Spinetti)

The Headline Analysis Method (by Luana Spinetti)

This is an almost exact digital version of the messy notes on my paper notebook.

Here’s what I did:

  1. I tore apart the headline and separated words and phrases by concept
  2. I analyzed each word and phrase to go deep into what I want to talk about (the notes the arrows point to)
  3. I used the analysis to come up with a first post outline where I touch upon every point mentioned in the headline

I do this with every post I write for WHSR, for my blogs and when I pitch guest posts. It makes writing incredibly easier, because I then I know exactly what points to talk about and I don’t have to guess or second guess what I’m saying.

For more ideas, also see how Terri Scott breaks down her thought process on how to create captivating posts from headline to final draft in her post at BidSketch. She also shares the questions that guide her writing process.

2. Voice Record the Key Points Of Your Post

Don’t write – talk. Use your phone, your computer microphone or other recording devices to record yourself while you explain your topic to your audience, as if you were holding a conference.

I started using this method when I was bedridden after an accident in February and I read Bryan Harris’ post at Videofruit talking about how he could write a 10,000-word post in a few days by recording vocal notes. I was amazed at how simple and effective this method was and I wondered why I didn’t think about it before.

While Bryan’s post describes the entire process in detail, here’s a hint of how it works:

  1. Write an outline of your post (use the method I described in #1 to make the process faster)
  2. Record your voice as you explain the points in your outline and expand upon them
  3. Transcribe your vocal notes and adjust, cut or expand where needed
  4. Make another round or two of editing, add images, videos and anything you need to call your post done

With this method, you’ll get a lot more done (and way more ideas) in a short time.

A tip: if you can, be in front of a mirror as you record the key points. You’ll be both the speaker and the audience of yourself, and it will help you speak with more clarity and record better notes (plus, you can use hand gestures to help your speech).

For more ideas, also read Ginny Soskey’s post at HubSpot on how she wrote a 1,000-word post in 10 minutes.

3. Organize the Key Points Into Sections and Subsections

Don’t start writing your piece right away. Structure it first.

What would you say to someone asking what your piece is about? Of course, you’ll want to just give the key points, the meat, leaving everything else.

This is exactly what you do when you structure your post with subheadings: it’s the core of your post, its “elevator pitch”, the essential information you want to convey.

If you already used method #1 in this post, you’ll have a first outline that you can further develop in sections and subsections. For my example above, that will be:

[Intro: How I noticed a certain use of biased words by Google with webmasters and how they influence the “Google culture” on the Web]

X Biased Words and Phrases Google Uses With Webmasters

[list of words + analysis]

The Problem With Guidelines Enforcement (Should They Even Be Enforced?)

Google’s “how the Web should be” is a non-universal bias

Putting Words Back Where They Belong: Tips to Reread Google’s Guidelines

The perspective of an independent webmaster

A Last Word About the Danger of the “Google Culture”

If you are writing a piece that doesn’t have to be divided into sections and subsections, and you don’t feel like doing this work just for the sake of structure, you can do what David Leonhardt, president of THGM Writers, does:

[I structure] Mostly in my head, before I ever start writing. An article I’m writing now was all organized into two sections. The first section, I had an idea of how the intro would go, and a list of three types of situations. The second section was a list of tips.

When it came to writing, I was pretty much able to just whiz through the first section, then I wrote down the list of tips, doing a bit of research to expand upon it. Once I had the structure for that section, I began to write.

4. Add Research and Statistics Before Writing

Statistics and expert quotes not only guide you in the right direction and help you avoid biased assumptions, but they also give authority to your post and make the rest of the writing easier, because you have numbers, facts and experts to support your topic and you don’t feel like you’re building on fluff.

In other words, research and statistics lay the foundation of your blog post and make the rest of your writing as easy as building upon solid points.

Research can really drive your writing. Here’s what Anna Fox from Hire Bloggers does before she writes:

Before even trying to write an article, I use Google to search for:

  • Keyword stats
  • Keyword trends

For many topics (food, DIY, motherhood) it makes sense to also search Pinterest because I always end up finding some infographics that would change the angle of my overall article.

With MyBlogU in place now, I also create a brainstorming project because those user-contributed tips may change the future article angle as well.

Finally, I use Answer The Public to see which questions there exist on that topic: that may steer my writing as well.

I only start writing when I do all of that and feel excited about the narrow angle I’ve decided to focus on.

David Leonhardt also readies his information before writing:

Sometimes I gather up links and notes in WordPress ahead of time. Then when I am ready to write, I have all the information right there. This usually happens when I read something interesting and say to myself, “Oooh, I want to write about that!”

Here is how I handle research and writing for my blog posts:

  1. After coming up with a headline and outline, I start researching other authority articles about my topic and assign some of these to the sections and subsections of my post (sometimes I might create a new subsection on the basis of an article I’ve just read that gave me a new idea to talk about)
  2. I tell other bloggers and experts that I’m writing a new blog post around a certain topic and I invite them to contribute a quote
  3. I write my first draft and I stay away from further research. In this stage, I only rely on what I learned, the sources I have and what I already know to write. I will add placeholders like [find info about ABC here…] whenever I feel that some points need further research
  4. I include experts’ quotes and I research to fill the placeholders I left in my copy or to expand upon my points a little whenever I feel the reader might need further information
  5. I run one or two editing sessions and review all the sources and links I included

Sometimes I will do number 4 before number 3 in this list but, in general, this is my workflow.

5. Develop Each Subsection as if It Was a Standalone Post

This technique works like a charm, especially if you feel tired and overwhelmed, have anxiety or you are dealing with writer’s block, because it narrows your goal and makes the effort seem smaller.

As my Programming professor used to say at the university, “you can tackle a big problem better if you divide it into smaller problems and focus on one small problem at a time”.

There are two ways you can go about this:

  1. Focus on the subsection of choice in your post draft
  2. Copy the subsection to a brand new file and write it there

I use both methods, but I tend to prefer the second because it helps me focus quickly and doesn’t let other subsections distract me or work against my attempt to keep anxiety at bay.

Developing subsections like standalone posts also places you in the right mindset to develop bigger guides, tutorials and ebooks, which is exactly what Casey Miller of The Best of Fitness does:

I have been creating my posts around each subsection and then putting all my subsections together as if it was a book. I found that by doing this, I can create more content around a whole subject easier and it gives the reader more value than a simple 200-word post. For example, my post “What is Crossfit: Learn Now with this Ultimate Guide”, I have 18 chapters and a total of 5000 words. I created links to each section so someone can jump right to it if they wanted.

When I create posts like this, I typically only create 1 per month as it takes time to find content/create for each section and to put the layout together. Although the nice part about it is, I only have to create one post a month and a post of this size can easily bring in 25,000 plus visitors due to the content and keywords used.

6. Write Your Subsections Starting From the Last One

It might sound counterintuitive, but developing your points in reverse order will help you write more efficiently because it will improve your focus, reduce stress and anxiety, and make your mind more attentive to details you might otherwise overlook as you go with the flow, including grammar and typos.

It’s like switching positions in bed to make your body feel more relaxed – switching order will give your mind new energy and relax you at the same time, as if you had some good rest before starting a new project. The reason is that by changing the order you break the flow and reset your expectations, forcing yourself to see things from a new angle.

Of course, this works better when subsections are standalone (see #5) and not sequential. If they are sequential, I recommend you outline them all before you use this technique.

7. Use Self-Dictation to Reduce Spelling and Grammar Errors and Improve Focus

I began to do this recently and I like doing it, especially when I’m writing big, difficult blog posts. It gives me confidence in how I argue my topic. With the self-esteem boost, I also sharpen my eye to catch typos and grammar errors.

Talk while you write, as if you were dictating your post to someone else. This method helps you keep your focus, eases your stress and doesn’t let your mind wander, because you are actually freeing your mind from the added burden of having to keep up with an ‘inner voice’.

If you have been jumping from paragraph to paragraph while writing as it might have happened if you followed #5 and #6 in this post, your confidence as a writer will also benefit from reading aloud because your post will take on a finished shape in your mind, as if you were reading someone else’s work.

Jean Margaret Walker at BeingJean.com says:

In order to make sure posts read well, reading them aloud is so helpful. You’ll notice missing words much easier than if you skimmed over posts while reading quietly in your head. It’s especially a good idea to read the content aloud to find missing articles… the smaller words like a, an, the, etc.

8. Leave Links or Minor Citations as Your Last Step Before Editing

This is important to not interrupt your focus as you write. You may not realize it, but when you open a new tab to search for a resource or an expert quote to include in the text, your focus is switching to the new task and getting back to the flow of writing will be more difficult. Going back and forth will slow you down and, if you are an anxious writer or have a hard time regaining your focus, make your condition worse.

If you followed #4 in this post, you know it’s better to do most of your research before you start writing the post. You can always add more later, but after you have written your draft, not as you write.

Adding new links and quotes is part of the editing phase. As David Leonhardt says:

The links I need for research, to get the data, I find before writing. Then, as part of my first edit, I note anything that might need further explanation, clarification or examples, and I search for a link for that.

BONUS Tip: Start Your Post With “Dear {insert audience here}…”

When I started writing this post, my first words were:

“Dear blogger…”

Whether you own a business, write as a part of your marketing activities or you blog in a niche, you are still a blogger.

You are my audience. I write for you.

This humble beginning has a great power over your thought process as you write: it switches your mindset, so that you are no longer a person sitting at a desk typing on a keyboard to fill a blank screen with words, but you become a speaker who talks to an audience, and the audience is in front of you, and you deeply care about them and their future.

The switch in mindset turns on your empathy antenna and you are less likely to write fluff, because you know the people listening to you are waiting for the words that will make a difference.

You can edit out that “Dear blogger…” before you publish your piece, but I urge you to keep it there at the top of your post until the very end, because it sets the tone and quality of your post and it will help greatly in the editing process, when you read your post all over again.

Yes, it will sound like a personal letter; that is what it will make it work.

I don’t know if Eli Seekins used the “Dear blogger…” technique to write his post at Writers Village – An Honest Letter To The Writer Struggling To Make It – but seeing the way he created a connection to his audience, something tells me he did.

Takeaway

Writing faster and more efficiently is a matter of hacking your writing habits to discover what works best for you, when you are more focused during the day and how to manage your energies and thought process to keep your mind active and productive from start to finish.

The 8 ways described in this post are all hacks that work, but don’t limit yourself to blind application – study your habits, your daily rhythms and the way your mind works to build discourse around a topic. Then, find the right combination that works for you.

You are unique! What matters is that:

  • You can manage your psychological blocks to minimize their effects on your writing
  • You can break down your thought process so that writing efficiently becomes a simple matter of following a plan

You may not be the fastest or most efficient blogger in the world, but it doesn’t matter – as long as you can get your work done and that work brings results, you are a good blogger.

To cite the HubSpot study I mentioned at the beginning of this article:

Some quick posts could take under an hour to write; others might take several hours if they require you to go really in-depth.

You may also want to read Jerry Low’s guest post at Blogging Wizard, Blog Efficiently And Productively: How To Blog More In Less Time for writing habits, tools and blog management tips.

16 Jul 16:46

104 of the Best Free Data Sources For Your Next Infographic

by Jake Kilroy

The best way to make a great infographic? Make sure it has great data. It’s the key to telling a good story and—when properly visualized—makes that story more memorable. But where do you get that data? You may have some in-house. You may have come across an interesting study. Or you may need to start from scratch. If you have no data to start with, don’t trip. You can always turn to your dear friend, the Internet, to find fantastic (and free!) data from a ton of solid sources. To help you keep your sanity—and avoid perpetually rewording your keyword search—we’ve rounded up 100 free data sources. We even broke them down by category to help you find the data you need as fast as possible. You can thank us later. Just remember to check out our 5 tips for sourcing your data when you’re ready to turn those stats into great visual content.

Free Data Sources: General/Academic

1. UNData: A statistical database of all United Nations data.

2. Amazon Public Data Sets: A repository of large datasets relating to biology, chemistry, economics, and physiology, including the Human Genome Project.

3. Pew Research: Public opinion polls, demographic research, content analysis, and other data-driven social science research.

4. Google Scholar: A wide array of information, including articles, theses, books, abstracts, white papers, and court opinions.

5. Datasets Subreddit: A dive into anything and everything, from English grain prices of the 14th Century to U.S. homelessness rates.

6. FiveThirtyEight: Statistical analysis that tells compelling stories about elections, politics, sports, science, economics, and more.

7. Qlik DataMarket: A place to check out data related to economics, healthcare, food, agriculture, and the automotive industry.

8. The Upshot by New York Times: News, analysis, and graphics about politics, policy, and everyday life.

Free Data Sources: Content Marketing

9. Content Marketing Institute: The latest news, studies, and research on content marketing.

10. Buffer:Data insights on digital marketing.

11. Moz: Insights on SEO.

12. HubSpot: A large repository of marketing data.

Free Data Sources: Crime

13. Bureau of Justice Statistics: Information on anything related to U.S. justice system, including arrest-related deaths, census of jail inmates, national survey of DNA crime labs, surveys of law enforcement gang units, etc.

14. Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics: Statistics on violent crime, such as murder, rape, robbery, and assault; has decades of data at city, county, state, and national levels.

15. FBI Crime Statistics: Statistical crime reports and publications detailing specific offenses and outlining trends to understand crime threats at both local and national levels.

16. National Archive of Criminal Justice Data: Original research based on archived data concerning criminal justice and criminology.

Free Data Sources: Drugs

17. Drug Data and Database by First Databank: Drug data and drug databases provided with the hope of drug knowledge inspiring change in the medication decision-making process.

18. U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Drug approvals and databases, including therapeutic equivalence evaluations for approved multi-source prescription drug products.

19. National Institute on Drug Abuse: Resources that cover a variety of drug-related issues, such as drug usage, emergency room data, and prevention and treatment programs.

20. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime: Research, trend analysis, and forensics with global and regional data collections.

21. Drug War Facts: Thorough look at drugs and drug policy, applied to public health and criminal justice issues.

Free Data Sources: Education

22. National Center for Education Statistics: The primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education.

23. Government Data About Education: Education datasets, apps, resources for the classroom, and details about paying for college.

24. Education Data by the World Bank: Comprehensive data and analysis source for key topics in education, such as literacy rates and government expenditures.

25. Education Data by Unicef: Data related to sustainable development, school completion rates, net attendance rates, literacy rates, and more.

Free Data Sources: Entertainment

26. BLS: Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation: Related industries at a glance, with statistics and datasets relevant to arts, entertainment, and recreation.

27. Million Song Dataset: A collection of 28 datasets containing audio features and metadata for a million contemporary popular music tracks.

28. The Numbers: Detailed movie financial analysis, including box office, DVD and Blu-ray sales reports, and release schedules.

29. BFI Film Forever: Research data and market intelligence focused on the UK film industry and film culture.

30. IFPI: Global statistics about the recording industry.

31. Statista: Video Game Industry: Statistics and facts about the video game industry, ranging from global gaming software expenditure to U.S. brand equity of Nintendo Wii.

32. Statista: Film Industry: Statistics and facts about the film industry, from the number of movie tickets sold in U.S. and Canada to the number of 3D cinema screens worldwide.

33. Statista: Music Industry: Statistics and facts about the music industry, ranging from concert revenue to record company market share.

34. Academic Rights Press: A repository of historical and current music sales data with insight on how such numbers can be applied.

Free Data Sources: Environmental/Weather Data

35. Environmental Protection Agency: Information for more than 540 chemical substances, containing information on human health effects that may result from exposure to various substances in the environment.

36. National Center for Environmental Health: Nationally funded data systems that have a relationship to environmental public health.

37. National Climatic Data Center: Quick links from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, covering everything from storm data to climate indices.

38. National Weather Service: Climate data, including past weather conditions and long-term averages, from specific observing stations around the United States.

39. Weather Underground: Tracked weather by regional radar, regional severe weather, and global temperatures.

40. National Centers for Environmental Information: Weather record published since 1927, including monthly mean values of pressure, temperature, precipitation, and station metadata notes documenting observation practices and station configurations.

41. WeatherBase: Travel weather, climate averages, forecasts, current conditions, and normals for 41,997 cities worldwide.

42. International Energy Agency Atlas: A look at climate change that focuses on how each country produces and consumes energy.

Free Data Sources: Financial/Economic Data

43. Google Finance: Real-time stock quotes and charts, financial news, currency conversions, or tracked portfolios.

44. Google Public Data Explorer: Searchable large datasets on economic development worldwide.

45. U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis: U.S. economic statistics, including national income and gross domestic product.

46. National Bureau of Economic Research: Macro data, industry data, productivity data, trade data, international finance, data, and more.

47. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission: Quarterly datasets of extracted information from exhibits to corporate financial reports filed with the Commission.

48. World Bank Open Data: Education statistics about everything from finances to service delivery indicators.

49. Financial Data Finder at OSU: Plentiful links to anything related to finance, no matter how obscure.

50. IMF Economic Data: Global financial stability reports, regional economic reports, international financial statistics, exchange rates, directions of trade, and more.

51. The Atlas of Economic Complexity: Analysis of trade flows and the sectoral composition of an economy with data visualizations.

52. World Bank Doing Business Database: An incredibly useful source of information that evaluates business environment indicators around the world, including trade capabilities and costs.

53. UN Comtrade Database: Raw data on high-level trade with visualizations.

54. Global Financial Data: Covers 60,000 companies across 300 years, analyzing the twists and turns of the global economy.

55. Visualizing Economics: Data visualizations about the economy.

Free Data Sources: Government/World

56. The CIA World Factbook: Facts on every country, dependency, and geographic entity in the world; focuses on history, people, government, economy, energy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues.

57. U.S. Census Bureau: Government-informed statistics on population, economy, education, geography, and more.

58. Data.gov: Open data of the U.S. government, focuses on everything from agriculture and ecosystems to manufacturing and science.

59. Unicef: Evidence on the situation of children and women around the world to inform national and global decision-making.

60. Data Catalogs: Comprehensive list of open data catalogs in the world, curated by a group of leading open-data experts.

61. European Union Open Data Portal: – Data pulled from European Union institutions.

62. Open Data Network: Government-related data with some visualizations tools built in.

63. Gapminder: Massive collection of data sources that cover everything from agriculture and employment to aid given and death.

64. Land Matrix (Transnational Land Database): A meticulously developed database of international land transactions with plenty of visualization tools.

65. The World Bank’s World Development Indicators: Huge collection of national data on hundreds of indicators, with data on every country.

66. UNDP’s Human Development Index: A ranking of country progress under the lens of human development.

67. OECD Aid Database: Visualized data regarding aid collected from governments.

Free Data Sources: Health

68. HealthData.gov: High-value health data for entrepreneurs, researchers, and policy makers; includes data on Medicaid, Medicare, clincial studies, and treatments.

69. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Public health data and statistics by topic, from alcohol use to viral hepatitis.

70. World Health Organization: Information, data, statistics, and reports concerning international public health.

71. President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition: Information aimed to promote, encourage, and motivate Americans of all ages to become physically active and participate in sport.

72. Partners in Information Access for the Public Health Workforce: A collaboration of U.S. government agencies, public health organizations, and health sciences libraries.

73. Health Services Research Information Central: Selective links aimed at providing information and data regarding health services resources.

74. MedicinePlus: Health statistics ranging from percentage of obese citizens to rates at which people are catching the flu.

75. National Center for Health Statistics: Datasets, documentation, data access tools, growth charts, and resources for further vital records.

76. America’s Health Rankings: Health reports that view the nation holistically, with in-depth data and analysis.

77. Health & Social Care Information Centre: National provider of information, data, and IT systems for health and social care.

78. Medicare Hospital Quality: A database on complication rates by hospital for interesting comparisons.

79. SEER Cancer Incidence: Cancer-related statistical summaries, interactive tools, and publications.

80. The BROAD Institute: Cancer program legacy publication resources and cancer-related datasets.

Free Data Sources: Human Rights

81. Amnesty International: Human rights information, run independent of any political ideology, economic interest, or religion.

82. Human Rights Data Analysis Group: Nonprofit, nonpartisan group applying rigorous science to the analysis of human rights violations around the world.

83. Harvard Law School: A collection of links that cover a variety of topics, including everything from international relations and human rights data, from political institution databases.

84. The Armed Conflict Database by Uppsala University: A look at fragile and conflict-affected states that dives into minor and major violent conflicts around the world.

Free Data Sources: Labor/Employment Data

85. Bureau of Labor Statistics: U.S. government’s data collection of employment-related stats across regions, states, and local areas.

86. Department of Labor: Closely watched measures of employment and unemployment.

87. U.S. Small Business Administration: Employment data from business owners’ perspective, including economic indicators and projections.

88. Employment by U.S. Census: Data that measures the state of the nation’s workforce, including employment and unemployment levels, as well as weeks and hours worked.

Free Data Sources: Politics

89. Open Secrets: Nonpartisan, independent, and nonprofit; nation’s premier research group tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy.

90. Crowdpac: Calculates objective scores for political candidates showing their overall political position and their position on specific issues.

91. Gallup: Data-driven news based on U.S. and world polls.

92. Real Clear Politics: A look at everything from policy support to election polling data.

93. Intro to Political Science Research by UC Berkeley: Statistics and data for those interested in political science; an ideal starting place.

94. California Field Poll: Independent, nonpartisan, media-sponsored public opinion news service that examines California public opinion.

95. Rand State Statistics: Social science data for the U.S. at the national, state, and local levels.

96. Roper Center for Public Opinion Research: U.S. and international polling and public opinion survey data.

Free Data Sources: Social

97. SocialMention: Real-time social media search and analysis.

98. Google Trends: Data and trends by search engine engagement.

99. Facebook Graph: API that pulls data about Facebook engagement.

Free Data Sources: Travel/Transportation

100. Bureau of Transportation Statistics: Transportation statistical data, research activities, and budgetary resources.

101. Monthly Tourism Statistics – U.S. Travelers Overseas: A look at U.S. international air passenger statistics.

102. SkiftStats: Latest statistics, research, and data about the travel industry.

103. Search the World: Statistics, population, weather, webcams, and travel information for millions of locations worldwide.

104. U.S. Travel Association: Covers a wide variety of travel-related topics, from impacts of travel on state economies to analysis of what a stronger dollar means for the travel industry.

Do you know some great data sources? Comment to let us know and help us share the data love.

16 Jul 16:46

Creating Influence in a Crowded Market

by Brent Pohlman

Influence MarketingThe business world is getting quickly crowded and people are putting a higher value on their time because we as a society have turned into a country that is consuming more and more information. Think about it for a second. Would you ever leave the house today without your smartphone? Can you watch TV without a smartphone nearby?People are wanting and consuming more and more information every day.

Look at the recent Pokemon Go phenomenon. Overnight, Nintendo resurrected its brand and it added $7.5 billion to its market value.

The Internet can quickly resurrect old brands and create new brands. This should get the attention of owners and executives of all kinds of businesses. It certainly has my attention.

My takeaways from this recent news are that I need to make sure we continue to work at putting our company brand in a position for our clients to be able to see and access our service offerings at their convenience. At least start the conversation and shorten the decision-making time. Yesterday, we gained a client because we were able to answer his question within an hour of it being received. Our competitor never responded to his question. This is not an isolated incident. This is the new economy and culture.

The Right People

I think it is going to take a special group of people to work in this type of environment and understand how important it is to work with a sense of urgency. In addition, I believe we are going to need to get more creative and more innovative. Discussions need to be continually occurring about new opportunities and continuous improvements.

A More Interactive Experience

I am working on a newer, better web experience for clients. This takes a lot of planning and work up front, but it is critical going forward.

Marketing is becoming more Service

Product, Price, Place Promotion is an old system. Today the factors of time and client control need to be considered. It is a different model altogether. Service is the differentiator that brings time and client control together. Better service to clients is critical. It really can be summed up in creating a better client experience.

The Unknown

The days of the five-year plan are really disappearing fast. Think about the last five years. I know there are some areas of our company that did not change much and we are certainly paying the price today. This is just the way things are today.

Building Influence

I think the best way to learn more in this area is to get out and try things. A number of things will not work, but it is important to find out why. I try reading and discovering new ideas and everyone has a different answer when it comes to this topic. Right now, I have several projects going on at the same time and the results are very interesting. There is no magic bullet here and I have learned that I cannot put all my energies into one area like social media, content marketing or video. In addition, I am finding myself investing more and more resources in this area.

I am making it a point to be more active and set a presence at work, outside the office, online and on different social media channels. In the past, I found myself doing the same type of activities and seeing similar results. Today, I am raising the bar some more. I am not someone who likes things the way they are. I prefer to be someone who stretches himself farther and is not afraid to take risks. For this reason, I am looking closer at Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook. In addition, I have a new respect for different platforms and I am learning to break my old habits and establish new ways to better communicate.

16 Jul 16:46

5 Ways to Get More Out of Your LinkedIn Published Posts

by Lindsey Stemann

Writing good content takes time. Whether you are a subject matter expert or an experienced writer, putting your knowledge into a coherent story and format takes minutes off your clock.

Often, my writing ideas are born out of people I train consistently asking the same questions. Hence, this topic; in the last six months, I have observed an increase in professionals’ interest in publishing their own content. LinkedIn is a tremendous tool to publish and promote content that you author.

Are you already publishing on LinkedIn, but wish you had more eyeballs on your authored content? Did you just start publishing on LinkedIn and want to make sure you are capitalizing on your work? Here are five ways to get more visibility on the content you work hard to write:

Start with LinkedIn Analytics

I believe one of the most overlooked areas regarding LinkedIn’s publishing capabilities lies within the analytics. I will dive into this section of LinkedIn deeper in an upcoming post, but for now, I want to show you how to access this rich information. When you hover over Profile in the top navigation bar and then click on Who’s Viewed Your Profile, you will come to the page shown below. Click on the middle tab, “Who’s Viewed Your Posts.”

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In one place, not only do you get access to who is liking, commenting and sharing your post (Tip: Thank these individuals and send them another post you have written that they may be interested in reading), but you also get the demographics of your readers. One trend I pay attention to when looking at the demographics is: Are the people I want this published content in front of, seeing it? In the case below, I would like to increase my Business Owner and CEO/Executive Director percentages. Now, I have a starting point to take action on #2 in this list…Keep reading.

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2. Share with Your Networks

To hop onto my LinkedIn soapbox for a moment: I have said thousands of times that my favorite LinkedIn feature is the pop-up share window. While it may sound super nerdy to some of you, let me explain the reason why: In a single window, you can share your content with more than four audiences. You can share it with your LinkedIn network, your Twitter network, multiple Groups, and individuals – all at the same time.

Remember from #1 how I wanted to increase my views with Business Owners and CEOs? I will use this pop-up window to share this article within LinkedIn Groups where those professionals are members.

It is an incredibly simple way to get more eyeballs on your published post.

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3. Post on Your LinkedIn Company Page

In addition to posting a healthy mix of third-party generated content (i.e. content from outside publications) and mixed media (i.e. white papers, videos, etc.) I recommend sharing your published content on your LinkedIn Company Page. If your Company Page has 300 followers, all of whom are not necessarily your first level connections, then consider sharing with this audience.

While this may go without saying, some things are worth stating: If the content you are writing is relevant to your industry and would bring value to your Company Page followers, it may be worth posting. However, if your content is in a completely different vein and topic than that of your company industry, then you may want to reconsider posting it on your LinkedIn Company Page. Feel free to comment at the bottom of this post if you have further questions about this or need more clarity.

4. Add Your Authored Page to Your LinkedIn Profile

Since LinkedIn gives us three slots to include websites on our LinkedIn profile, I recommend adding your LinkedIn Author Page as one of those websites. Remember that you want to customize the website titles; this will let people know where you are taking them and thus, increase your click-through rate.

Unlike your email and phone number, your websites are visible to anyone on LinkedIn within the Contact Info tab of your Profile. Add a direct link to all of your published posts to let people browse your “LinkedIn library.”

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5. Add to Your Email Newsletter

Before and after workshops, my team and I send our clients a customized MailChimp email. These emails serve as preparation for our time together and as a follow up for accountability. Both emails include additional resources and often we use our published posts.

Prior to the LinkedIn publishing platform being available to all members, we would direct clients to our blog posts. Now, we can use our pre- and post-workshop emails to get more visibility on our LinkedIn published posts. What’s more is that we are directing them into the tool we train on: LinkedIn!

To recap, here are 5 simple ways to get more eyes on the content you work hard to create:

  1. Start with LinkedIn Analytics
  2. Share with Your Networks
  3. Post on Your LinkedIn Company Page
  4. Add Your Authored Page to Your LinkedIn Profile
  5. Add to Your Email Newsletter

While I recommend sharing other peoples’ posts, commenting on them and sending them to individuals you know who may benefit from them, do not forget to promote your own work. LinkedIn created these functions so that you can do just that. Take advantage of them and get your content in front of the people you want to impact.

Do you have additional ideas? I would love to hear them. Please share in the comments section below.

16 Jul 16:44

18 tips that will help you stay safe when you travel

by Talia Avakian

touristsWith terrorist attacks and hotel security issues having become a very real concern around the world, it's crucial you do what you can to ensure your safety while traveling in a foreign country.

We've put together a list of tips for doing just that, consulting Anthony Melchiorri, host of Travel Channel's "Hotel Impossible"; John Rose, an aviation and terrorism expert and COO of travel risk management companyiJET; Daniel Durazo, the director of communications for Allianz Global Assistance USA; and Daniel Smith, a security researcher at Radware

From what to do if you get arrested abroad to mistakes you shouldn't be making at a hotel, here's how to make sure you stay safe on your next trip. 

SEE ALSO: The top 20 hottest markets for vacation home buyers

DON'T FORGET: Follow Business Insider's lifestyle page on Facebook!

Grab an extra business card from the front desk of your hotel.

The information on a business card will come in handy if you're ever lost or need to contact someone. 

If you're in a place where you don't speak the local language, you can at least ensure that you have your hotel's address and phone number.



Consider travel insurance for cruises.

According to Durazo, while cruise ships have an infirmary to take care of guests when they get seasick or have the flu, they don't have a full hospital that can treat more serious injuries like broken bones or heart attacks.

If one of those injuries does happen, the cruise ship will disembark at the closest port, but the type of hospital you end up in might not always be suited for your care.

Having a travel insurance provider helps alleviate costs and provides additional assistance for issues like language barriers or medical discrepancies. It'll especially come in handy if you end up requiring an evacuation back to the US. 



Use your phone to test the front desk when you get to your hotel room.

To see how safe hotels keep your information, Melchiorri recommends that you use your cell phone to call the front desk and ask if you can speak to yourself.

If the staff gives you your room number, that's a red flag. The response you want is: "Let me connect you."



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
16 Jul 16:44

12 Tips for Better Sales Emails

by Jennifer Dignum

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As part of LiveHive’s onboarding process, we write sales email templates for our customers. Customers love this value-added service. It gets them up and running faster and gives their reps an instant productivity boost for their first SmartPath automated email sequence.

Subsequently, I write a lot of sales emails, and I’m always searching for new ways to write better emails. I look at research, read best practices, and also have learned a lot through my own experience and talking with the sales team here at LiveHive. Because customers often ask what works best and – in the spirit of summer sales wellness – we’re sharing a dozen of our top tips.

#1. Keep email copy short.

Two thirds of us check email on our phones. Keep that in mind as you write your email. Copy should be short and easy to read, broken out into paragraphs not just one big bunch of text. In general, three paragraphs are ideal. You want to catch your audience’s attention and give them something of value quickly.

#2. Keep subject lines short.

In general, we put too much copy in the subject line. Keep it short – research shows that shorter subject lines are opened more. When you write subject lines, think about what’s going to be most compelling for your prospects. Also, don’t ask a question in a subject line, particularly for initial touch points – as they’re shown to have lower open rates.

#3. Use A/B testing for your subject line.

With sales engagement analytics, such as LiveHive, you can test different subject lines for the same email template to compare open rates. This is an excellent way to get insight into the messaging that resonates most with your prospects and lets you see what subject lines are working best.

#4. Don’t overuse your company name.

Just as in a sales call, the focus should be on the customer and their pain points. While you need to communicate the value of your solution or service, it should be conveyed in a way that is customer centric. Starting every other sentence with your company name sounds like an advertisement – not a professional sales email.

#5. Include links and attachments to deliver value with content.

Always give prospects something of value. A sales email is an excellent opportunity to share company content. Include or attach videos, white papers, or customer stories that are relevant to your prospect’s situation. With LiveHive, you can also see if an attachment is downloaded, or a link is clicked, to gain more insight into a buyer’s interests and interest level. When I get an email that links to an interesting asset, I save it! You want your prospects to do the same.

#6. Address the pain points and show the benefit.

Support your email with research that shows why this issue is of importance to prospects right now and why they need to pay attention and act on it. Take the time to research and address their pain points. Be sure the benefit is clear, as well as the downside of doing nothing.

#7. Validate your story with data.

Use numbers and statistics from reputable third parties – or share results from your customers. Having data strengthens and validates your story.

#8. Include customers.

If you have high profile customers you can name drop in your email, do so. Case studies are sales assets of gold.

#9. Personalize with recipient’s name and company.

With data merge fields, there’s no excuse for not personalizing. Use the prospect’s first name in the email. Include the company name if appropriate. By doing so, your email stands out.

#10. Provide context

If you’re following up on marketing leads, provide context in your sales emails. You want to pick up the conversation where marketing left off, especially from webinar and tradeshow leads. Look at tradeshow notes and webinar interactions to understand their interest levels and where the conversation was headed. Pick up where the last person left off.

#11. End with a clear call to action (CTA).

Your email should always have a clear call to action, and it should be as specific as possible and require the least amount of effort from your prospect. Give them a day/time for a ’10 minute call’ to discuss the value you can provide for their business. If you have a calendar app, such as Calendly, use that to let prospects set up their own meeting.

#12. Use power words.

Power words evoke emotion. Power words aren’t long words that you think might make you look smart. In fact, they’re generally very simple. Here are five examples from the “Top 20 Power Words That Sell” in my order of preference: “you,” “easy,” “savings,” “get,” and, of course, “free.”

Have we forgotten anything? If you have tips for writing good sales emails, we’d love to hear them!

Original Post

16 Jul 16:44

Lead Generation vs. Demand Generation. Which is Best for IT and Software Businesses?

by Barbara McKinney

Lead Generation vs. Demand Generation. Which is best for IT and Software Businesses?

Which water is safer and healthier to drink?

Canadian Living noted that tap water is the worst water type to drink. Chlorine treatment may kill unwanted bacteria in it but may contain lead or aluminum as it passes through extensive piping prior to coming out of the faucet. On the safe side of the list is Bottled water which is treated through distillation, reverse osmosis or ionized, and Charcoal filtration but which is also prone to bacteria breed when filters are not changed regularly.

The course of IT and Software companies in choosing between Lead Generation and Demand Generation as to which best marketing strategy would work for their business seems turbid as the question which water type is best safe for drinking. Although much informational scripts have already been penned for both tactics, for some reasons, some IT and software companies still remain reserved in taking new grounds and instead settle in the comfort of old tools and processes which they are already much familiar with. Who can argue on that?

However, competition mainly in the aspect of customer acquisition is getting stringy as (other) aggressive companies look for more prospecting options and bravely invest in the powers of advanced technologies to grab all the chances of dominating the market.

What are their reasons and what are the baselines in deciding whether to take Lead Generation or opt for Demand Generation as the best fit marketing strategy for IT and Software companies?

Below are some insights that would help you discern which marketing tactic would best work for your IT or Software business.

What is your Goal?

Customer acquisition is the major and most commanding need in a business but realizing that goal may require a stern process in order to get all points leading to that goal.

You may have to answer the question “Is your product not known to your target market or is your target market not well aware about your product?”. Affirmation to the question would mean that you need to create awareness among your target customers about your product and its capabilities and features that would benefit them – that is Demand Generation.

However, if you already have a good demographical and psychological profiles of your target customers and at the same time they are already well aware about your product and its benefits to their business, it’s perfect time to drive interest among these customers via Lead Generation. This is an important factor in the sales funnel.

What are the Success Qualifications?

Operational procedures or processes may come similar for Demand Generation and Lead Generation but Success Criteria may differ.

As discussed earlier, demand generation aims to create awareness among your target customers. With the help of automation and nurture tools, and regardless of the number of leads generated, such awareness must not only get your message to your targets but at the same time lead your marketing efforts into substantial discussion between you and your prospects.

Lead generation may require a specific success criteria like the BANT which stands for Budget, Authority, Need and Timeframe. Most IT and Software companies would require these important information to qualify a lead in order for them to tailor fit the best solution for their interested customer. One or two criteria like Budget and Timeframe may sometimes be missing but the lead may still be considered for as long as the Need and the Decision Maker are identified.

What is your target Result?

Demand generation will provide you a room to exist in your target market which will pave the way for your business to engage and to know them better – their thoughts, their behavior and their business perception. A successful demand generation campaign will result a profiled list of qualified candidates whose trust you have gained through nurturing.

For lead generation however quality and quantity matter. The number of leads generated and the quality of each lead which is determined by the success criteria play important roles in the business’ sales funnel and are considered to be non-negotiables.

Lead Generation and Demand Generation may have distinct differences in terms of Goal, Success Qualification and Result but at a certain point may be fused together as one efficient process that would realize success for your IT or Software business.

So why so picky with the water type you drink? I won’t mind at all for as long as it would quench my thirst…Success!

Source: http://www.canadianliving.com/health/nutrition/article/the-healthiest-water-to-drink

16 Jul 16:44

Why Customer Advocacy Means the End of Reseller Partners

by Trisha Winter

Customer Advocacy

Customer advocacy has undergone a wonderful transformation

Customer advocacy is the practice of leveraging your Customers to endorse you and with the right tools it has become a very powerful source of lead generation for businesses. These endorsements can come in many different forms ranging from product reviews on third party sites, to sales references, to referring your product to someone in their network. Sales and Marketing have been begging Customers for these things for years but they haven’t been able to turn it into a significant lead generation resource.

Now there is software available that allows you to get Customers advocating at scale, software for getting content and software that drives referrals and they are working. SiriusDecisions recently highlighted some customer advocacy programs that are impacting revenue in this presentation. It isn’t just influenced revenue. ADP stated that customer advocacy via referrals is their top source of leads that turn into revenue.

But with the onset of customer advocacy adoption and companies realizing the value of it, it’s highlighting a big problem with reseller partnerships. Specifically, with reseller partnerships you get revenue, but don’t have any relationship with the end users of your product. They aren’t your Customers, they are the Customers of your Reseller.

These Customers may be some of the best and happiest users of your product, but they have no relationship with you so they can’t be leveraged for customer advocacy. If you don’t own the relationship, you can’t control it.

This is one of the reasons why companies are moving away from Reseller Partners and transitioning toward Referral Partners.

How to leverage referral partnerships with customer advocacy

Referral partnerships benefit both the Partner and brand/Customer Marketer. With referral partnerships you can still leverage the value of your partner network, while keeping the customer relationship direct. The way this works is that your Partners act as a trusted adviser to your target buyer. They can recommend your product to them and can get compensated for that recommendation if they end up buying your product. This generates a high quality lead in your sales pipeline that gets sold by your sales team.

And now there is software that can manage the complexity of that relationship from delivering the referral experience and tracking that referral, rewarding and fulfillment process with variations as needed by Partner. Relative to Resellers, this drives incredible value for Partner Marketers, Sales, your Partners and your Buyers.

Partner Marketers can drive incredible value from your partner network while making your brand and Customer Marketers BFFs. By transitioning to referral partnerships, you are extending their pool of potential Advocates that can take actions to make referrals and endorsements. And this of course, drives more revenue.

As customer advocacy becomes a more common and expected part of the lead generation and buying experience, I predict that companies will find it difficult to justify their investment in reseller partnerships.

Justify your investment in customer advocacy by trying out the ROI calculator to discover the ROI you can achieve with a referral program.

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16 Jul 16:43

3 Ways to Increase Sales with Pokémon Go (Really)

by Adam Honig

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Are you aware of how insanely popular Pokémon Go is?

(If you're trying to snag a Zubat as you read this, you know.)

According to Time Magazine, the game is

[b]igger than Tinder and on its way to smashing Twitter’s 'daily active users' ceiling. That’s how nuts this Pokémon Go augmented reality experiment has become since it was unceremoniously loosed on the iOS and Android app stores on July 6.

In fact, it’s become so big that, according to NBC News, police departments country-wide are issuing proactive warnings in order to protect the safety of players. People are walking into the streets and exploring all sorts of dangerous places to find the elusive Pokémon.

What does this have to do with sales? On the surface, nothing. Your first reaction might be “the heck with that -- I’m busy making my calls today, thanks.”

But wait a second. The hardest part of the sales process is prospecting, according to HubSpot's 2015 State of Inbound report.

And this is where things get interesting. You can use Pokémon Go to bring leads to you! I know it sounds crazy, but it works.

Here are three tactics you can try this weekend to increase sales. (And if you do, please share your stories in the comments section.)

1) Create a “lure” to bring people to you.

For a small cost you can create what is known as a "lure" near you, or near your place of business. Lures essentially attract Pokémon ... who then attract customers.

Here’s what one store manager wrote on Reddit: “PoGo is amazing. SO. MUCH. FOOT TRAFFIC. Time to invest in some lures.”

If you’re selling in a store, automobile dealer, restaurant, etc., go and create some lures.

But what if you're not in retail? Steve, a sales buddy of mine, told me that he had been trying to break into an account for some time with limited success. He decided to create a Pokémon lure in his office's parking lot, and watched people congregate to play Pokémon Go during lunch.

Guess who he chatted with? The CFO of his target company. Not bad considering that he couldn't even get him on the phone before!

2) Go to Pokémon gyms with your products.

A Pokémon gym is a place where you can fight other users’ Pokémon to make your pack stronger. These fights are a way of advancing in the game, so gyms are a place where a lot of people have been gathering since the app launched.

Find a gym near you in the app, and network with the potential buyers engaged in Pokémon battles. Virtual fights, real connections.

3) Create some Pokémon-friendly messaging.

Maybe you’re rolling your eyes and saying “my prospects don’t care about Pokémon,” but consider that as many as 9.5 million of the U.S. population is playing Pokémon Go every single day.

You surely have a prospect who's playing. So why not insert a line about the Pokémon phenomenon into your next prospecting email? Your line about capturing a Caterpie might just help you build rapport and expand your relationship. Hey, crazier things have happened.

You might also consider testing the Pokémon waters on social media. Walter Chen suggests “tak[ing] in-game screenshots and post[ing] them on the social media platforms where you’re active. Use hashtags like #pokemongo and #pokemon to get the message out to your potential new customers.”

No doubt the Pokémon craze will fade away, so take advantage of this trend while it’s hot.

(Pssst -- there's a Rattata right behind you. You're welcome.)

Editor's note: This post originally appeared on the Spiro blog, and has been published here with permission.

Email tool in HubSpot CRM

16 Jul 16:43

Top 3 Metrics For Sales Development And How To Optimize Them

by Tukan Das

Sales development reps (SDRs) are an integral part of any B2B sales team. It’s their job to act as the front line of sales, focusing on the early stage of the sales cycle and bringing in qualified leads. They may not be the ones following up and closing, but without their efforts, new leads would dwindle.

So how can you measure whether your SDRs are effective? And better yet, how can you empower them to become more so?

We’ve identified three top SDR metrics and how to optimize them, so your sales development team can accelerate your bottom line.

Number of Net New Leads

The simplest, and most visible, metrics for sales development is often the number of new leads being brought in. Your organization can look at each rep, each channel, and each lead to determine how effective your sales program is, but it’s best to start with knowing exactly how many new leads are coming in.

To inspire your team to bring in more leads, you should set aggressive but attainable goals. Be clear with your expectations, and understand why goals are – or are not – being met. This way, your team can adjust their strategy to meet the goals, or you can adjust the goals to match the reality of your team’s efforts.

Number of Opportunities Created

Some organizations measure their SDRs based on the number of calls made, or emails sent – and this is misguided. Instead of focusing on channel-specific actions, you should be focusing on what those actions produce: opportunities.

In order to optimize the number of opportunities created by your sales team, consider ignoring altogether the number of calls each rep makes. Give them an incentive to book meetings, rather than just leave a voicemail.

Also, you should ensure your SDRs are bringing in qualified opportunities. The prospect should be someone who is in a position, and who has a need or desire, to purchase your company’s offering.

Number of Opportunities Created Over Time

In order to empower your sales development team to thrive, you have to develop a long-term vision of what their success looks like. This means not simply counting the number of opportunities they create, but comparing that to days, weeks and months past.

If a rep’s numbers remain consistent or decline over time, that might indicate that they are stagnating – and this could be a result of a morale problem, a disconnect between the marketing leads they are being fed, or any number of other reasons. If you catch it early, you can right the ship.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of other metrics that sales development teams can look at, but too much data is often overwhelming and can lead to teams getting “stuck.” By zooming in on these three metrics, you’ll create a solid picture of how your SDRs are performing, where they need to improve, and how you can support them going forward.

15 Jul 18:31

IoT means never losing your bag again

by Amanda Razani
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Leaders involved in the Industrial Internet of Things technology development are looking at the next important step in IIot technology, which is figuring out the process of creating application testbeds. From a technological standpoint, many milestones have been met. However, there is a need for feedback from application developers in order to hone the technology.

See Also:  What is the Internet of Things?

The Industrial Internet Consortium has recently sponsored a testbed that many travelers can appreciate. The testbed plans are to study the possibilities of smart airline baggage management.The purpose of this testbed will be to gather a better understanding of the lifecycle of a smart bag, from check-in at the airport to delivery at a flight destination.

The system will place smart luggage with passengers and flights, using GPS to track baggage locations in real-time and generate alerts. The testbed should show how luggage is tracked and monitored during an entire trip. Airlines should be able to see all of the smart bags on all of their flights, and travelers should see data associated with their bags by using their smartphones and the web.

The second part of the testbed phase will investigate sensor use on luggage conveyer belts and trucks, which should make it easier to spot bags heading for the wrong flight.

Fewer missing and damaged bags makes everyone happier

The goals outlined for the Smart Airline Baggage Management testbed are to reduce the amounts of delayed, damaged and lost bags, which will lower the risk for airlines.

“The testbed focus is to bring together fragmented applications and systems to drive solutions to make the airlines and airports more efficient during check-in and subsequent baggage handling across the aviation ecosystem for the benefit of passengers,” states the Industrial Internet Consortium website.

With this in mind, the solution needs to incorporate cloud-based airline applications and databases, cloud based analytics, and M2M and IoT platforms to manage, connect and secure real-time information from the smart baggage

“Smart connected baggage will reduce the instances of delay, damage and lost bags leading to lower economic risk exposure to the airline and agony to the passenger. Today about 6-7 bags are lost for every 1,000, per statistics from SITA survey and Department of Transportation. It costs airlines $100 to repatriate a delayed bag, and risk exposure for a lost bag is as much as $3300 per bag in the USA. With global airline passenger travel targeted to double in the next 20 years, any such efficiency added to the baggage handling system will have a big economic impact,” states the IIC website.

The IIC is currently involved with 17 testbeds for diverse application areas including Edge Intelligence, Smart Energy and Connected Care.

The post IoT means never losing your bag again appeared first on ReadWrite.

15 Jul 18:28

Why Canada is the only major market in the world without a super-cheap airline

by Kristine Owram

Canadians love to gripe about the high cost of air travel in this country, and no wonder: Canada is the only major air market in the world without an ultra-low-cost airline.

As the founders of Jetsgo, Roots Air, Greyhound Air and many other failed carriers can attest, Canada is a notoriously difficult place to start an airline for many reasons, including its sparse population, high taxes and fees, and restrictions on foreign ownership.

There is no low-cost or ultra-low-cost airline in Canada, zero, none

It’s the latter that’s keeping one of the world’s most influential investors in low-cost airlines away from Canada, even though he believes it’s a prime market for an ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC).

Bill Franke, co-founder and managing partner of Indigo Partners LLC, said Canada’s limits on foreign ownership are a “turnoff” and he wouldn’t consider investing here until those restrictions are eased.

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Franke’s concerns highlight the challenges faced by three new startups, all of which claim to be ULCCs, as they vie to bring more competition to Canada’s airline market duopoly. But hope springs eternal, and each is convinced that its model will be the one that finally succeeds.

One of those three, Winnipeg-based NewLeaf Travel Co. Inc., isn’t even technically an airline, but rather a reseller of seats. It intends to launch July 25 through a partnership with Flair Airlines, a charter service based in Kelowna, B.C.

Canadian Press
Canadian PressJim Young, president and CEO of NewLeaf Travel.

The other two, Canada Jetlines Ltd. and Enerjet Ltd., are pressuring the federal government to change rules that currently restrict foreigners from owning more than 25 per cent of an airline, arguing there simply isn’t enough risk capital in Canada to fund three-quarters of a ULCC’s startup costs.

A ULCC is generally defined as an airline that unbundles its fares to keep them as cheap as possible while charging for extras such as checked and carry-on bags, assigned seats and food and drink. The standard cost excluding fuel for the U.S.-based ULCCs is around six cents per seat, per mile flown, compared to approximately 9.5 and 11.3 cents for WestJet Airlines Ltd. and Air Canada, respectively.

Franke’s Indigo Partners has backed some of the world’s most successful ULCCs, including Florida-based Spirit Airlines Inc., which introduced the model to the United States under Indigo’s guidance a decade ago.

“Canada is ripe for the ultra-low-cost model,” Franke said. “There is no low-cost or ultra-low-cost airline in Canada, zero, none. So is the market ready for that? Yeah.”

He said he’d be “actively interested” in Canada, but only if the foreign ownership rules change.

“Since this is a difficult business that requires significant discipline, it’s a turnoff for us,” he said. “We don’t want to just sit there and be managed by the regulators and we’re not going to just send the money up by courier to some guys in Canada.”

We don’t have anybody in Canada that has the expertise of starting up airlines

A recent review of the Canada Transportation Act concluded that the 25-per-cent foreign ownership limit “is a barrier to entry” for new airlines. Vancouver-based Jetlines wants to sell up to 49 per cent of the company to foreigners and has petitioned Transport Minister Marc Garneau for an exemption from the rule.

Enerjet
EnerjetDarcy Morgan, chief commercial officer of Enerjet, which plans to launch a ULCC tentatively dubbed FlyToo.

And Enerjet, a Calgary-based charter airline that plans to launch a ULCC tentatively dubbed FlyToo, wants Canada to change the way it determines who actually controls an airline, known as “control in fact.”

Control in fact must be held by Canadians, and is defined as whoever has “substantial ownership and effective control,” a somewhat vague definition that is subject to the whims of the government, according to Enerjet’s chief commercial officer Darcy Morgan.

Jetlines chief executive Jim Scott said the company has a European investor lined up if the foreign ownership rules change.

Ben Nelms for National Post
Ben Nelms for National PostJetlines chief executive Jim Scott.

“We don’t have anybody in Canada that has the expertise of starting up airlines … and no one wants to get involved in it unless they have the expertise,” he said.

“We’re looking for a lead investor to come in and say, ‘We’ve done this before, we know what we’re doing, we’ve got steady hands, we’ve got deep pockets.’”

Deep pockets are essential for anyone seeking to disrupt Canada’s airline industry, which is notoriously hard on new entrants.

“Airlines all fail for the same reason: they run out of money,” Scott said. “The cash-flow output is scary if you don’t have a big bank account.”

The Canadian Transportation Agency has told Jetlines it will need $27 million in order to receive an airline licence, as the agency requires all new entrants to have enough funding to cover 90 days of operations.

Scott said he’d like to raise $50 million to be absolutely certain the airline can withstand the undoubtedly fierce competitive response from Air Canada and WestJet, which between them control 85 per cent of the domestic market.

“If you have the money behind you, there will probably be less tendency for the bigger carriers to get into too much of a sustained battle,” he said.

Jetlines
JetlinesAn artist's rendering of Boeing 737 MAX 7 in flight with the Jetlines livery.

WestJet has already demonstrated how quickly it responds to the threat of new competition.

NewLeaf last month announced it will fly to 12 Canadian cities (now down to 11 after the company cancelled service to Fort St. John, B.C.), and WestJet immediately announced new direct flights between Hamilton and Edmonton, and Winnipeg and Kelowna, both of which are routes that NewLeaf plans to serve.

“(The incumbents) will all of a sudden change their network for a short period of time,” said Fred Lazar, an economist at York University’s Schulich School of Business who has studied the airline industry extensively. “They’re not going to be offering many flights on those routes, maybe just one a day, but that should be sufficient to weaken the markets for any new carrier.”

As a result, a startup ULCC needs to have enough capital to survive a lengthy period of intense competition, as well as a significant cost advantage over the incumbents — Scott estimates that Jetline’s costs will be about 30-per-cent lower than WestJet’s.

Airline consultant Robert Kokonis said there is a “compelling case to be made” for a ULCC in Canada, but success won’t come easy.

“I think we do have space in the country for one ULCC, but not two and definitely not three,” said the president and managing director of AirTrav Inc.

A quick glance at the U.S. gives an indication of what an ultra-cheap airline could mean for Canadian airfares: the average airfare at Spirit Airlines was US$66.96 in the third quarter of 2015, while the average domestic economy airfare in Canada was $282.80 in the same period.

Getty Images
Getty ImagesBen Baldanza, chairman of NewLeaf

Ben Baldanza, chairman of NewLeaf — and someone who helped transform Spirit Airlines into North America’s first ULCC while serving as chief executive from 2005 until this past January — is adamant that Canada can support one, too.

“Our view is there is a market for the truly discretionary traveller,” he said. “There is a lot of travel that isn’t happening in Canada because the fares aren’t low enough.”

NewLeaf is planning to mostly serve small airports — for example, flying to Abbotsford, B.C., instead of Vancouver, or Hamilton instead of Toronto — which will help keep its costs low.

“We realize that we’re not serving the whole market … but we’re very encouraged by the demand we’re seeing based on the bookings,” Baldanza said.

Red flags about NewLeaf’s financial viability, however, have already been raised. Three consultants told the Financial Post that they have not been paid by NewLeaf for their services, and the cancellation of planned flights to Fort St. John indicates that demand hasn’t been robust on every route.

Passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs has also raised questions about who would be responsible for reimbursing passengers and making sure they get home if NewLeaf folds. Because NewLeaf is not technically an airline, it doesn’t need to meet the 90-day funding requirement, and Flair president Jim Rogers has said his airline is not responsible for passenger protection since it is only providing the aircraft.

But Baldanza said NewLeaf has a “strong base of economic support,” including an investment for an undisclosed amount from a group of Manitoba First Nations.

“Look, if you’re flying in a month, your risk is really low,” he said. “Take a trip with us, see how good it is, and once you do it once, you’re probably going to want to do it more.”

Inexpensive air travel will change this country fundamentally for the better

Not surprisingly, each of the aspiring ULCCs thinks its model is the most likely to succeed. Jetlines is starting from scratch, but has the advantage of a partnership with Boeing Co. that includes free advice, forecasting and route analysis through its startup program, according to Scott.

Boeing said it won’t comment on its business with specific customers, but Scott said Jetlines is one of only four nascent airlines around the world that are working with the aircraft manufacturer’s startup team. Jetlines has placed an order for five Boeing 737 Max 7 aircraft with options for 16 more.

Baldanza, meanwhile, said NewLeaf’s partnership with Flair will allow it to be the first ULCC to market and gives it the flexibility to increase or decrease capacity as needed. Because it’s not an airline, it also avoids the foreign ownership requirements that plague the other two.

Over at Enerjet, Morgan is the most reticent to discuss the airline’s plans, saying he’s focused on finding the right market opportunity and not seeking media attention, although he does point out that Enerjet is the only aspiring ULCC that’s already a licensed airline.

But get him talking about the need for a ULCC in Canada and he waxes eloquent about economic development and national unity.

“Widely available, inexpensive air travel will change this country fundamentally for the better. It’ll make us a stronger country, it’ll make us more productive and competitive and it will help reduce inter-regional bickering and trade barriers,” Morgan said.

“If we want to achieve a strong national presence where independent regions of this country pull together for a better Canada, then we have to have an awareness and understanding of each other and travel is a big, big part of that.”

 

15 Jul 18:24

4 Key B2B Sales Tips for Manufacturers and Suppliers

by Caroline Goan

Going into 2016, the B2B sales landscape is continuing to evolve. Digital sales technology, for example, is attracting significant investment. Similar studies also suggest that 56% of buyers are now taking longer to complete the sales cycle due to the fact that they are conducting their own research. With an array of new factors to consider, we’ve chosen four key B2B sales tips for you to consider in the context of your own company’s sales processes.

A key trend is the merging of traditional sales roles and processes with new technologies. The demand for personalization, the use of multiple devices, and the growing prevalence of data and analytics are all influencing how reps and salespeople achieve their aims.

Before diving in, it’s worthwhile to distinguish between two terms that are often conflated: “marketing” and “sales.” Though there is a degree of overlap between the two, for the purposes of this post, we understand “marketing” to refer to the strategies that are responsible for publicizing a company and its products to new prospects. The term “sales”, on the other hand, refers to the processes by which prospective customers are converted into customers and repeat customers.

B2B Sales Tips for Manufacturers & Suppliers

1. Customer-centricity and personalization is key.

“Customer-centricity” is one of the big buzzwords of 2016. It refers to an approach to sales that is geared around the individual as opposed to a standard customer experience that is the same for everybody. Think personalized order histories and recommendations, tailored promotions, and customizable sales interfaces, along with the use of data to feed back directly into an understanding of customer desires.

It’s important that you build personalization into your customer-facing sales journey. In particular, modern marketing software allows for a high degree of segmentation, which is applicable to those suppliers that still rely in large part on email marketing campaigns aimed at their established customers. As integration across company software becomes the norm, the data available to achieve a high degree of customer-centricity will grow more readily available.

2. Take advantage of multi-device preferences.

The myriad of opportunities that comes with the widespread use of portable devices like mobile phones and tablets has been written about extensively on this blog. Buyer habits and preferences are highly dependent on the type of eCommerce platform that is being used at a given time.

Mobile sales, for example, are much more likely to be the result of a decision made on the shop floor when compared to desktop sales. Similarly, other mobile-specific features, like push notifications and barcode scanning, open up new opportunities for B2B suppliers to reach their customers at points when they were previously inaccessible. The first step for B2B sellers is to make sure that omnichannel capabilities are actually offered.

3. Use data to seal up “sales funnels.”

It’s important that you build feedback mechanisms, in the form of questionnaires, product reviews and customer satisfaction ratings, into your sales cycles. When you consider the statistic that 7 in 10 B2B customers have never been asked for their opinions regarding a sales experience, it’s easy to see that B2B sellers are missing a huge opportunity. Any good “sales funnel,” which comprises the journey across numerous touch points from initial lead to loyal customer, needs to be flexible and subject to continuous testing and improvement.

The sheer range of variables that can be measured makes it possible to take an agile approach to designing buyer journeys––one that changes with the inflow of data.

4. Build trust in the long-term.

Just as it’s important to have well-developed processes for pitching new clients, it’s equally key that reps are involved in maintaining relationships with existing buyers. Loyalty incentives, such as VIP promotions and rewards, are important, and it’s the responsibility of reps to make sure that as much as possible is done to offer the maximum amount of value to repeat buyers.

To bring things back to our first two points about personalization and multi-device capabilities, it’s important to be able to offer customer-specific pricing, discounts, and promotions across all touch points, whether your customers are placing orders on the web from a desktop computer, from a mobile device, or with a sales rep.

What are your thoughts about our B2B sales tips? Let us know in the comments section below!

15 Jul 18:21

The Top 5 Common Mistakes With Inbound Lead Routing

by Brandon Redlinger

The following is an excerpt from a brand new eBook from Ambition, PersistIQ and LeadGenius – Bridging the Gap: The Basics of Account Based Marketing and Selling.

What happens after a lead comes inbound?

Just because a lead converts on a piece of website content doesn’t mean he or she is necessarily a hot prospect, ready to buy now. The chances are greater that an inbound lead will close, but pursuing each and every single inbound lead is not always worth the time. How a marketing and sales rep spends their time is crucial to their success. That’s why it’s important to establish a clear and well thought-out protocol for handling inbound leads.

However, we see many salespeople making mistakes with inbound leads that cost them time and money. As a lead comes in and goes through your sales funnel, mistakes along the way jeopardize your chances of closing. Let’s walk through the five most common and costly mistakes with inbound leads.

1. NOT DELEGATING THE RESPONSIBILITY OF INBOUND LEADS TO A SPECIFIC TEAM OR DEPARTMENT

In order to build an effective sales development machine, you must implement a process for dealing with inbound leads. If you’re like most companies, you have a dashboard for all untouched inbound leads, and they’re all up for grabs. But if everyone is responsible, then no one is responsible.


With #inbound leads, if everyone is responsible, then no one is responsible.
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Who should own the inbound leads?

Every organization is structured a little differently, so the first line of response could actually be Sales, Marketing, Operations, or even Sales Operations. The bottom line is that there needs to be a clear cut process in place.

In order for a process to work effectively and efficiently, there needs to be a Service Level Agreement (SLA) between all the teams that touch your inbound leads, namely sales, marketing and account management.

Once an SLA is in place and responsibility is delegated, a proper follow up process can be effectively implemented so that no opportunities are missed.

2. NOT PROPERLY QUALIFYING INBOUND LEADS

You must establish and clearly articulate criteria for what is considered a qualified inbound lead. We already talked about scoring leads with qualifying criteria in the previous section, but don’t forget this needs to happen with inbound leads too.

Simply put, is this inbound prospect a good match for your product/service or not?

If the answer to these three questions is “no,” then put the lead into a marketing drip campaign; there’s no use following up at this point. However, if the answer is “yes,” then it’s time to pass the lead onto Sales.

If the answer is “maybe”, this could be because you don’t have all the information to confidently make a decision. From here, you can choose to put that lead into a marketing drip campaign and offer additional valuable information to progressively profile the lead until you can qualify him or her. It’s probably worth segmenting these leads with the information that you do have and put them in specific dip campaigns based on your target personas for your best chance of nurturing them into a buyers.

Alternatively, you can manually do background research and qualify him or her.

Beyond some of this general demographic information, we can start to assess some of the psychographic and behavioral factors. That’s the beauty of inbound – you have a little more information to add color to the prospect. (More on this in mistake #3).

3. NOT CONDUCTING PROPER RESEARCH BEFORE REACHING OUT

Now that you’ve qualified the inbound lead and passed him or her along to the sales team, it’s important for the sales rep responsible for the follow up to do more research. Another big mistake we see sales reps make is reaching out blind. Sure, you may know what company the person works for, but do you know what that company does?

This is where digging into some of the psychographic and behavioral factors really comes in handy. Here are some questions to ask for uncovering psychographics and behavioral factors:

  • What type of content did this lead develop on?
  • How long has this lead been in your system, and what other content have they viewed?
  • What is their referral source?
  • How are they currently solving their problem? (If you’re using a service like BuiltWith or Datanyze, you can see if they’re using a competitor, thus giving insight to whom you’re selling against.)

Just as with traditional prospecting, it’s very important for a rep to perform proper research on an inbound lead before reaching out.

4. NOT PERSONALIZING FOLLOW UP COMMUNICATION TO INBOUND LEADS

If you weren’t able to get in touch with that inbound lead immediately, no problem. Though your chances of connecting may drop, if there’s one thing that we know, it’s this: persistence wins.

There’s a lot of focus on creating and sending effective emails to sourced prospects, but salespeople don’t often take those same principles and apply them to inbound leads. The reason you’re reaching out is a given: they requested some information and you’re following up with them. However, they still want to connect with a human, so you must personalize your messagingAutomation kills rapport — no matter what.

You can even take some of your best-performing email templates, do a little re-tooling, and use them with inbound leads. For example:

Hi {{first name}},

I noticed that you {{action}} {{piece of content}}.

I wanted to reach out because we help companies [one-sentence value proposition]. We’ve already helped {{customers}} achieve i

Do you have 15-20 minutes on {{date}} to explore how we can help {{company}} do the same?

Thanks, {{your name}}

To get more examples of outbound sales emails you can re-tool and tweak for inbound leads, check out the Cold Email Generator.

5. NOT FOLLOWING UP CORRECTLY

Though there’s no golden rule for the number of follow-up attempts or a follow-up tempo you should make with sourced prospects, any smart sales rep knows persistence is important. But most reps don’t think of applying this same mentality to inbound leads as well. Effective follow up strategies can and should be used for managing inbound leads too.

There are 4 critical factors for successful follow up:

  1. Number of touchpoints: We advocate for 7 or more touches for each prospect, even with qualified inbound leads.
  2. Channel Diversity: Go beyond phone and email by adding social to the mix. But don’t overlook some other less conventional ways to get in front of your prospects, like direct mail, fax, conferences and industry tradeshows, door-to-door, etc.
  3. Time between touch points: We recommend being a little more persistent early on, then tapering off if the buyer hasn’t responded. We’ve seen great results sending the second touch a day or even 12 hours after the first.
  4. Content of touchpoints: Sending “just checking in” and “just following up” gets really old really fast. Instead, offer value by providing new insights, educating your prospects, sharing relevant news or reemphasizing business value.

Here is an example of a workflow that has been effective for follow up with inbound leads:

  • Day 1: Call and email
  • Day 2: Email and Twitter (favorite a tweet)
  • Day 3: Twitter (Follow and retweet)
  • Day 5: Email and LinkedIn (connection request)
  • Day 7: Email
  • Day 10: Call and email
  • Day 17: Email and Twitter (tweet at or retweet)
  • Day 21: Blog and/or LinkedIn (comment of content)
  • Day 28: Call and email

The bottom line is when you’re following up, you must continue to offer value at each touch.

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