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14 Feb 23:54

How One Head of Sales Tackled Building a Sales Playbook

by (Trish Bertuzzi)

SNkevin.jpgKevin Dorsey is a fantastic sales leader. As Head of Sales for SnackNation, he leads a team of 12 Sales Development Reps and 30 Account Executives. SnackNation offers office delivery of healthy snacks that create happier and more productive teams.

In just one year, Kevin grew the teams from a handful of reps to over 40. Along the way, he decided that the best avenue for reinforcing and scaling critical sales competencies was to build a Sales Playbook.

And over the next 3.5 months, he did just that.

Lesson #1: He immersed himself in his SDRs' process

"I knew that if I wrote the Playbook from behind my desk exclusively, it probably wouldn't be very good."

Kevin got his hands dirty, getting in the seat with the SDRs and really seeing what that day-to-day felt and sounded like. He was looking to combine emergent best practices (identified by his team) with industry and thought leaders learnings.

 The playbook is broken into three sections:

  • What do we need to know about our customers to help them succeed?
  • What must every single SDR be able to do well?
  • What data / technologies do we need to effectively execute?

Lesson #2: He started with the most important piece- The Why

"My favorite part of the playbook is the why section. I really tried to explain to new hires why we do certain things the way we do."

Right up front, the playbook lays out the thinking behind how SnackNation reps execute. Kevin shares what mistakes have already been made and lessons learned along the way. Most companies direct their teams on how to go after deals, but rarely share the why.

Kevin’s team knows the why, they believe in it, and mostly importantly they can teach it to others.

Lesson #3: He got his team involved

"When I finished a chapter, I presented it to the team. I said, 'Tear this apart. Tell me where I'm wrong. Tell me what's off that doesn't work in real life.' Getting the team involved builds ownership."

After the 3.5 month initial writing period, Kevin continues to revise the playbook monthly. He makes updates for each new hire class. His goal is to make the previous SDR class jealous - to the point where they're saying, "Man, I wish I had all this when I started."

Equal to what goes in the playbook is how you communicate it. You have to put everything in a format that reps can absorb. Even the best writing, if presented as a wall of words, won't help your reps learn and grow.


Sales teams need playbooks to make the most of every single sales interaction. You want to capture industry best practices, bubble up emerging techniques, and continuously refine buyer-based messaging so that, as Kevin says, your old timers are jealous of the tool you're handing to your new hires.

An aside, here at The Bridge Group we write Sales Playbooks that rock, if I do say so myself (as do our clients).

Don’t make your new hires do sales tool archeology; hand them a roadmap to success. Any questions for Kevin?

22 Jun 18:14

How to Get Around Most Airlines' Hidden Fees

by Kristin Wong on Two Cents, shared by Andy Orin to Lifehacker

Flying is cheaper than it used to be. Adjusted for inflation, a ticket from LA to Kansas City cost $575 in 1955 , compared to a couple hundred bucks today. Flights are more affordable these days, but pretty much everything costs extra. Here’s how to get around those fees, especially the hidden ones.


22 Jun 18:03

The National Post guide to Brexit: Things to know as Brits head to the polls — and a worried Europe watches

by Tristin Hopper

In Thursday vote, the European Union could see the first-ever departure of a member state. The United Kingdom is putting their E.U. membership to a country-wide referendum that still remains too close to call.

For an anxious Europe, meanwhile, Brexit (British Exit) is about way more than passports or tariffs; if the Brits leave, the whole postwar European experiment could come crashing down in their wake.


The United Kingdom, unlike a certain Canadian province, is known for asking clear and understandable questions in its referenda. On June 23, Britons will be asked, quite simply, “should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”



National Post Graphics
National Post Graphics

Future historians will hasten to note that the U.K.’s Brexit debate occurred at the height of the Syrian refugee crisis. And indeed, only a year in which one million migrants flooded into Europe, there’s very little the U.K. could do to stop them moving to Manchester if they get E.U. citizenship. Just like in the United States, free movement of labour is a pretty key component of the whole E.U. experiment. Acccording to YouGov, more than 40 per cent of decided Brexiteers are casting their ballot primarily because of immigration fears.

Everyone hates the E.U.

National Post Graphics
National Post Graphics

Few Britons “love” the E.U. And even some of the fiercest defenders for the Remain camp will admit that the E.U. is an annoying, power-hungry Romance-language-speaking bureaucracy. The divide is whether Britain should try to change it from the inside, or ditch it altogether and (possibly) pray for its destruction. “I am negotiating hard to fix things that most annoy British people about our relationship with the EU,” said Remain-defender David Cameron in his New Year’s address.


All about the quid

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National Post Graphics

Just like Paul McCartney’s 2008 divorce from Heather Mills, there may be good reasons for an E.U. separation, but it’s not going to be cheap. The almost universal opinion among economists, from the IMF to the Bank of England, is that Brexit will incur job losses, kneecap growth and shrink government revenues — although it’s anybody’s guess how much. The essential verdict from the accountants is that E.U. membership is akin to a Guns N’ Roses reunion tour: Sure, it’s awkward and unpleasant, but tell that to the swimming pool of money it generates

Believe in…Canada?
In what may be a first in British history, campaigners are touting a cause on the grounds that it would make the U.K. more like Canada. The Great White North, along with Australia and New Zealand, has been mentioned frequently by Brexiteers as a model of how their country should conduct itself. Namely, Canada isn’t subject to any E.U. rules or fees, but the country will soon be getting a free trade agreement with the Eurozone anyway.


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National Post Graphics

Nigel Farage, Leader, UKIP

The longtime head of anti-EU forces in the UK. In what he hoped would be his final speech to the European Parliament, Nigel Farage said he hoped Britain’s exit would bring “an end to this entire project.”


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National Post Graphics

The Sun

At 2.2 million readers, The Sun is the U.K.’s second largest newspaper by circulation. This week, the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid urged readers that voting “yes” was their last chance to escape a “relentlessly expanding ­German dominated federal state.” The result was an immediate edge for the Leave camp. 

Scottish politicians have warned that if the U.K. leaves Europe, Scots will leave them. But it’s a different story in England’s other semi-independent appendage, with polls showing the Welsh siding with England in backing Brexit. The idea seems to be that the Common Market has ravished the Welsh steel industry, and that Brexit could free up some extra money from London.

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National Post Graphics

Boris Johnson, former mayor of London

Johnson, the world’s most famous British municipal politician, has been the premier quote generator for the Brexit campaign. Among other things, he’s compared breaking up the E.U. to breaking up the Warsaw Pact — everyone will be better off once it’s over.



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National Post Graphics

Eddie Izzard, Comedian

A self-described “British European” who is the celebrity face of the Remain campaign, Izzard is notable for being the only one showing up to televised Brexit debates wearing a pink beret and a “STAND UP FOR EUROPE” t-shirt.



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National Post Graphics


David Cameron, U.K. Prime Minister
For the second time in two years, Cameron is once again championing the status quo side of a too-close-to-call referendum whose result could end up being the first line of his eventual obituary.



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National Post Graphics

Every living former Prime Minister

To wit; Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and John Major. Major and Blair even made a joint appearance in Northern Ireland to warn that a Brexit could reignite The Troubles. Brown, meanwhile, compared the Leave campaign to Donald Trump; an increasingly lazy political insult in Europe these days.



The dead tell no tales, but they do become unwilling spokespeople for European politics.

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National Post Graphics

Margaret Thatcher

The Iron Lady has been claimed by both sides in the Brexit debate. Thatcher was an instrumental supporter of the 1975 referendum that brought Britain into the proto-E.U. But in the latter years of her career, she resisted the bureaucratic growth of the organization — and has been blamed for kickstarting an antagonism with Brussels that stands to this day.


National Post Graphics
National Post Graphics

Adolph Hitler

Naturally, no European political debate is complete without a mention of Der Führer. E.U. supporters contend that a European government is the best bulwark against a future Hitler. E.U. opponents, meanwhile, have charged that the organization itself is Hitler. A kind of single European authority is exactly what the German dictator was going for, albeit by “different methods,” claimed Boris Johnson.

Imperial War Museum
Imperial War MuseumChurchill and Charles de Gaulle in Paris in 1944. Churchill has been wheeled out as a mascot by both sides.


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National Post Graphics

Winston Churchill

Churchill, who died even before the term “European Union” was a thing, has also been wheeled out as a mascot by both pro- and anti-Brexiteers. Churchill was an English exceptionalist and a staunch advocate for global free trade, which would have put him at odds with an E.U. that is essentially a tariff-protected trade bloc. But Churchill also spoke of a “United States of Europe” as early as 1946. In a May speech, David Cameron urged his countrymen to follow Churchill’s example of European integration. “Whenever we turn our back on Europe, sooner or later we come to regret it,” he said.

National Post Graphics
National Post Graphics

Charles De Gaulle

Twice in the 1960s, French president Charles De Gaulle singlehandedly vetoed the entry of the U.K. into the European Common Market. The Brits were too “insular,” too “maritime” to play nice in the budding Continental club, reasoned the former leader of Free French Forces. Should Brexit happen, several columnists have noted that it would have the unpleasant effect of proving De Gaulle right about something.


Apocalyptic hyperbole isn’t merely the domain of U.S. presidential elections. Below, some of the more scary predictions hitting the Brexit debate.


  • Mass rapes in British cities
    This was hinted at by UKIP leader Nigel Farage in relation to the reports of hundreds of sex assaults in Cologne, Germany on New Year’s Eve, with most of the assaults being attributed to recent asylum seekers. Asked if Cologne-style attack could come to Britain, Farage said “It depends on if they get EU passports. It depends if we vote for Brexit or not. It is an issue.”
  • U.K. to become “province” of Brussels
    This was literally in George Orwell’s 1984; the British Isles had been reduced to “Airstrip One,” a small corner of the massive superstate of Oceania. “The EU will not stop until Europe has become a federal superstate,” claims the pro-Brexit group GetBritainOut. Stay in, goes the argument, and U.K. courts and legislators will all soon be subservient to the continent.


  • Ethnic cleansing
    Well, maybe not ethnic cleansing in the most sinister sense. But sources as official as the Home Office have claimed that up to five million people could be forced out of their homes by a Brexit; two million British expats kicked out of Europe, and three million E.U. citizens kicked out of Britain. This ignores the fact that a Brexited U.K. would still strike some kind of immigration deal with the E.U., and presumably the one that wouldn’t result in mass deportations.
  • End of the U.K.
    With Scotland, Northern Ireland and even some overseas territories like the Falkland Islands leaning towards the Remain camp, the implication is that they may soon be forced to choose between the E.U. or the U.K. In the worst case scenario, say critics, a Brexited U.K. will just be a bunch of English and Welsh patrolling Hadrian’s Wall.
  • World War III
    A humongous 24-language parliament is a pain, to be sure, but Europeans are quick to say that they only reason they did it is because the alternative seems to be constant warfare. “If you believe, as we do, that the EU has at least contributed to our safety and security, think carefully before turning your back on it,” read a public letter co-written by WWII veteran Harry Smith and published on the anniversary of D-Day.


Nobody seems to enjoy E.U. myth-mongering quite so much as the Brits. It’s now such a firm part of British culture, in fact, that the E.U. has even built a massive online English-language directory of “Euromyths.”

Bendy bananas

The most famous of all Euromyths, it relates to a trade regulation stating that bananas imported into Europe must be “free from malformation or abnormal curvature.” The myth is that the policy is a ban on bent bananas. But while there’s no evidence to this effect, it’s still an easy shorthand for E.U red tape.

£350 million a week!

Brexiteers are frequently repeating the mantra that the U.K. pays the equivalent of $650 million to the E.U. every week (equal to $64,000 a minute). While technically true, what the figure leaves out is rebates and the E.U. funding that ends up back on British soil. The more accurate figure is somewhere around £170 million per week.

The E.U. Army

British lads forced to wear the gold stars of the Union and sent to die in some distant war cooked up by Brussels. This one actually isn’t all that far-fetched. While there is no continent-wide draft planned, a recently leaked German white paper did hint of a plan to integrate European armies into “permanent cooperation under common structures.”

• Email: | Twitter: TristinHopper

22 Jun 17:41

The Apollo mission photos you haven’t seen: Space selfies, pee bags and too many moon close-ups

by Tristin Hopper

About a dozen images from the Apollo moon missions have stood the test of time: Neil Armstrong’s lonesome footprint in the moon dust, Buzz Aldrin’s triumphant pose on the lunar surface and, of course, the famous Blue Marble photo, believed to be the most widely circulated image of all time.

But if NASA has a dark secret about the Apollo mission, it’s that its astronauts weren’t particularly good at photography. Clad in bulky spacesuits and generally busy with other things, the moon men shot whole rolls of film that are comparable to a five-year-old armed with a disposable camera: blurry, out-of-focus and frequently aimed at the ground.

Held for decades in NASA archives, thousands of these photos are now publicly accessible thanks to the efforts of Virginia amateur historian Kipp Teague, who compiled them onto a massive Flickr page dubbed the Project Apollo Archive. The National Post sifted through the vast collection of Apollo b-roll and provides the highlights. 


Fresh after lifting off from the moon’s surface, the Apollo 17 lunar module in all its battered, flimsy glory. Much as Hollywood would like us to believe otherwise, this is what space travel is going to look like for years to come: disposable vehicles that appear to have been submitted as science fair projects by high school students. 


No Apollo mission appears to have been able to resist shooting a dramatic “moon getting closer” photo series, such as this one from Apollo 12. An astronaut first snaps a normal picture of the moon out the command module window, and then takes sequential photographs of the approaching celestial body until it is taking up the whole frame. 


This appears to be a space selfie of Apollo 17 astronaut Ronald Evans. As the command module pilot, it was Evans’ job to orbit the moon while his crew hopped around on its surface. In so doing, he became one of only six people to experience a unique kind of loneliness: As he lost radio contact with Earth on the far side of the moon, Evans became farther from a fellow human than any other in the history of his species. 


With the Sinai peninsula at its centre, in a single shot this photo shows some of the most fought-over land in history. Photographed from Apollo 7 in 1968, it depicts the Sinai only months after it was taken by Israel in the Six Day War. The Apollo astronauts included several combat veterans, and it was a common response to look back at a distant Earth and muse at what all the fuss was about. 


On the left, a portrait of Buzz Aldrin that became one of the most inspiring and iconic images of all time. On the right, the photo that came immediately after. A shot of Neil Armstrong’s arm? 


If all goes as planned, the Apollo 11 landing site will one day be the most popular tourist attraction for visitors to the colonized moon. Accordingly, the lunar lander brought its own commemorative plaque. To this day, Richard Nixon, of all people, is the only U.S. president to be honoured with his signature on a non-Earth celestial body. 


It seems to have taken Neil Armstrong a few tries to get the famous “footprint in the dust” photo looking just right. 


NASA photos usually leave out how much moon garbage the missions generated. From the lunar rover to seismic monitors, everything came in a disposable bag. In addition, Apollo astronauts used their moonwalk as a chance to dump excess weight before heading back to Earth. Most notably, among the refuse that future moon archaeologists will sift through is 96 bags of puke, pee and poop. 


Millions have seen the image at right of Buzz Aldrin’s giddy leap down the lunar module ladder. On the left is the somewhat less glamourous ordeal of squeezing out of the lunar module’s narrow birth canal-like hatchway while dressed in full moon suit.  


One of the greatest hacks of all time. After Apollo 13 had to abort its mission due to an onboard explosion, the three astronauts were forced to pile into the lunar lander as a kind of “lifeboat” until they could get back to Earth. The plan would have killed them if not for the jury-rigged device above, which was fashioned from socks, a manual cover and duct tape. Known as the “mailbox,” it filtered out poisonously high levels of carbon dioxide that had begun to accumulate in the overcrowded lander. 


Hey girl. James McDivitt strikes a pose aboard Apollo 9. 


The three images above sum up the vast majority of photos in the Apollo collection. Apollo astronauts never appear to have gotten over the novelty of seeing the damn moon out their window, and they documented the view with hundreds of images. While close-up photos of grey craters are magnificent the first few dozen times, to the casual observer the images are proof that even one of the greatest triumphs of human ingenuity can quickly become a boring vacation slideshow. 


Fortunately this Apollo 7 photo didn’t contain anything too important, what with the end-of-roll tape and all. 


This series from Apollo 17 shows the sheer randomness of the photos that astronauts brought back. On the left, the most iconic image in the history of photography, followed immediately by a shot of a floating engine stage, what appears to be a failed attempt at photographing the sun, and then back to photographing the Earth. 


Another space selfie! And again, it’s Apollo 17’s Ron Evans. He shot this while retrieving exposed film from the outside of the spacecraft. 


This is a member of the Apollo 12 crew performing a photography move beloved by annoying shutter-happy tourists everywhere: Turning in a slow circle and shooting a bunch of photos from the chest. 


There’s a good reason there are few well-known images from inside the Apollo spacecraft. The ones that exist are often blurry, dark and depict a crew member expressing mild annoyance that there’s a camera in his face. The annoyed astronaut in this case is Neil Armstrong. 


A surprisingly artistic image showing the Earth rising over the looming Apollo 14 lander. It’s stunning that this photo isn’t more recognizable; there’s really no good reason why it hasn’t been the stock image in every picture frame sold since 1971. 


This is a family photo left on the moon’s surface by astronaut Apollo 16 astronaut Charlie Duke. “This is the family of astronaut Charlie Duke from planet Earth who landed on the moon on April 20, 1972,” reads the back of photo. While there’s no air or wind to disturb the image, solar radiation and temperature fluctuation have likely turned it into a warped, bleached remnant. 


Easily the most album-cover worthy photo of the Apollo mission. As lens flares rain down around him, an Apollo 15 astronaut dirtied by moon dust takes a video while his moon car lies parked in the background. 


Most Apollo missions coyly avoided documenting the delicate subject of peeing and pooping in zero gravity. Not Apollo 17. The final mission to the moon proudly shot these images of plastic bags filled with their golden space pee. Note the condom-like device used to “collect” the pee. This was actually cited as a reason women couldn’t serve in the Apollo program. NASA could send a lander to an orbiting satellite, but they apparently decided it was too difficult to figure out female anatomy.  


The selfie-obsessed Ron Evans strikes again. It’s fortunate these images do not come equipped with the sense of smell. By this stage in the mission, three unwashed men have spent a week sharing the same air. The U.S. Navy frogmen who opened the hatch on Apollo capsules once they splashed down reported being overwhelmed by the stench. 


There are hundreds of images of this camera. In fact, it’s easily the manmade object that was most photographed during the Apollo missions. The reason? It was positioned right in front of the passenger seat on the lunar rover. As one astronaut drove, the other sat and squeezed off endless photos of the view. Spoiler alert: it was mostly grey horizon and black sky. 


Ron Evans again, but this time with a bag of some mysterious yellow liquid. 


Hey girl. Eugene Cernan aboard Apollo 17. 


The eerie sight witnessed by the command module pilot on all moon landing missions. The lunar lander detaches and slowly drops out of sight as it descends to the surface. The risks of a lunar touchdown were such that it was entirely possible that this would be the last a command module pilot saw of his crew. In fact, on the Apollo 11 mission Richard Nixon even prepared a speech in the event that Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong completed their historic “giant leap” — and then had to die slowly on the moon because their ascent rocket had malfunctioned. 

• Email: | Twitter: TristinHopper

22 Jun 17:37

10 Approaches to Naming Your Startup So it Sticks [Infographic]

by Sara McGuire

What’s in a name? Deciding what to name your startup business can be a high pressure task. At best, you want your company name–and logo, for that matter–to be easy to read, descriptive, and, most importantly, memorable. But a lot of companies decide on names that just don’t stick. The last thing you want is for your company to be forgettable.

So what makes for a memorable startup company name? Well, there are a handful of different approaches you could take, illustrated in the infographic below. Typically, your company name should be grounded in your mission statement, but be interesting enough that it isn’t forgettable. To achieve this, you might decide to get creative and make up your own word–or you might decide to go the classic route and pick one really powerful word. What matters is that whatever approach you take to name your company, that you do it well.

Here are 10 popular startup naming approaches:

  1. Related Word: The name of the company is related to its product or service. For example, Dropbox is where you “drop” your files to host them.
  1. Made Up Word: Typically, these words will be related to the product or service. For example, Giphy is a site for gifs.
  1. Vague Word: Some companies like to maintain an air of mystery. Or they just liked the way the word sounds. Take Tilt, for example.
  1. Letter Swap: This type of name is very popular. Replace one letter with another same-sounding letter, as in Lyft.
  1. Letters Added: Because sometimes a letter makes all the difference. Like SpaceX, which makes “space” sound even more extreme than it already is.
  1. Letters Dropped: Like company names with letter added, dropping a letter can also make company names more appealing. You see this probably most often in the removal of the e from “er” sounds, like in Foundr magazine.
  1. Domain Added: Another popular trend is the use of a unique domain that is part of the company name, like The risk with this approach is that people may get confused and attempt to search for the company name with a normal domain like .com.
  1. Related Word Smash: Word smashes are fun. Two or more words related to a company’s product or service are combined to make a new word that contains both word meanings. For example, “venn diagram” and “engage” make Venngage.
  1. Random Word Smash: Like a related word smash company name, except the combined words aren’t really related to the company’s product or service. Like AppSumo–not overtly relevant, but still with a catchy ring to it.
  1. The Randoms: These company names could fit into any number of sections. Like Airbnb–it’s part word smash, part letters dropped, part related word. And it’s very memorable.

The clever mind map infographic below organizes startup company names by category, and then rates them on their effectiveness on a scale of “Perfect”, to “Kinda”, to “Nah”. A sample of 77 companies that raised money in the last year were pulled from CrunchBase. Those companies were sorted into categories based on their name type.

The companies were then rated on how effective their names were at communicating their mission statements on CrunchBase, on a very scientific scale of “Perfect” to “Nah.” Basically, if someone who knew nothing about the company is able to infer what the company’s product or service is, the company gets a “Perfect.” But if the name gives nothing away about what the company actually does, they get a “Nah.”

Certain companies will undoubtedly jump right out at you.

Startup wordcloud Hi res

What do you think? Which startup company names stick and which ones fall flat?

22 Jun 17:31

What Donald Trump, Mark Cuban, and 23 other highly successful people were doing at age 25

by Jacquelyn Smith and Rachel Gillett

young steve jobs

Everyone's path to success is different.

For some, it's mostly linear. Others encounter more twists, turns, and bumps along the way.

While some like Steve Jobs and Richard Branson were already dominating the business world at 25, others like Larry Ellison and Mark Cuban took a little longer to hit their stride and saw their mid-20s as transformative years.

To illustrate how no two paths to success are alike, we've highlighted what 25 highly successful people were doing at age 25.

Vivian Giang and Max Nisen contributed to earlier versions of this post.

SEE ALSO: Mark Cuban, Richard Branson, and 24 other successful people share their best career advice for people in their 20s

DON'T MISS: 15 things successful 20-somethings do in their spare time

Donald Trump took over his father's real-estate-development company.

Trump, a Republican presidential nominee hopeful, billionaire real-estate mogul, and animated TV personality, grew up wealthy. But as he told Forbes, his father wanted him to learn the value of money.

As a kid, his dad would take him to construction sites and have him and his brother pick up empty soda bottles to redeem for cash. He says that he didn't make much, but it taught him to work for his money.

At 25, the young real-estate developer was given control of his father's company, Elizabeth Trump & Son, which he later renamed the Trump Organization, according to Bio. He soon became involved in large, profitable building projects in Manhattan.

Steve Jobs took his company public and became a millionaire.

By the end of its first day of trading in December 1980, Apple Computer had a market value of $1.2 billion, making its cofounders very rich men. Jobs, one of the three cofounders, was 25.

He later told biographer Walter Isaacson that he made a pledge at that time to never let money ruin his life.

Hillary Clinton had just graduated from Yale Law School.

At 23, Clinton, now a Democratic presidential nominee hopeful, began dating fellow Yale Law student Bill Clinton. She ended up staying at school an extra year to be with her boyfriend, and received her law degree in 1973, just before turning 25. Her boyfriend proposed marriage after graduation, but she declined.

That same year, Clinton began working at the Yale Child Study Center. Her first scholarly article, "Children Under the Law," was published in the Harvard Educational Review in late 1973, when she was 25.

After moving to Arkansas in 1975, Clinton agreed to marry Bill. She'd go on to become the first lady of Arkansas, the first lady of the US, a US Senator, and Secretary of State.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider
22 Jun 17:25

5 Dos and Don'ts of Thought Leadership Marketing

by Ben Simkin
Providing genuine value to your customers without even a hint of self-promotion. This novel concept could put you and your business on the map.
22 Jun 17:25

New landmark rules in U.S. means more drones for hire on the way

by Alan Levin, Bloomberg News

The Obama administration is opening U.S. skies to more commercial drones with long-awaited regulations that the government hopes will spawn new businesses inspecting bridges, monitoring crops and taking aerial photography.

In the most comprehensive set of rules yet for the burgeoning unmanned aircraft industry, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday went far beyond its original restrictive proposal issued last year. Drone operators will be able to petition the agency to fly beyond the horizon, at night and over people if they can show such flights are safe.

“We are in the early days of an aviation revolution that will change the way we do business, keep people safe, and gather information about our world,” President Barack Obama said in an interview with Bloomberg News. “This is just a first step, but this is the kind of innovative thinking that helps make change work for us — not only to grow the economy, but to improve the lives of the American people.”

Low flights

The rules could be a boost for drone manufacturers such as SZ DJI Technology Co. of China, the world’s largest. U.S. companies that have been working with the FAA on expanding drone operations, such as PrecisionHawk in Raleigh, North Carolina, and AirMap Inc. of Santa Monica, California, also stand to benefit.

The new regulations, which will become effective two months from publication in the Federal Register, took years to craft and are seen as a critical step toward realizing the potential of drones to perform such tasks as monitoring crops, inspecting power lines and pipelines as well as assisting government agencies in disasters.

The basic rules permit only low-level flights that remain within sight of an operator or nearby assistant and don’t go over people. Drone operators-for-hire will have to pass a written test and be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration — but no longer need to be airplane pilots as current law requires. Drones under the regulation must weight less than 55 pounds (25 kilograms) and keep speeds below 100 miles (161 kilometres) per hour.

Allowing a device to be within eyesight of an assistant — a change from the proposed rules industry advocates won in the final version — means an operator can guide a drone by its video signal.

Drone package deliveries by companies such as Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google Project Wing aren’t allowed under the regulations until the FAA writes separate rules governing their use. Similarly, the limitations in the regulations won’t initially permit longer flights for agricultural flyovers, pipeline and utility inspections and news media photography over crowds.

However, the agency heeded industry comments to its earlier proposal and added flexibility so that many such activities would be permitted under a waiver program, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in a telephone briefing.

“Our focus is to make this as streamlined as possible,” Huerta said. The agency will open an online portal through which applicants can learn how to file for waivers, he said.

Solving the more complex problems inherent in drone deliveries — which envision autonomous vehicles buzzing over highly populated areas — is a “very active research program,” Huerta said. He declined to set a timetable on when such flights would be permitted.

While the rules don’t apply directly to hobbyists, who don’t need a license to fly if they’ve registered their drones with the FAA, it lays out the government’s authority to enforce aviation regulations on all unmanned aircraft.

Symbolic victory

Drone-advocacy groups called the regulations a symbolic victory that paves the way for those future uses. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International trade group forecasts drones will produce US$82 billion in economic value and create more than 100,000 new jobs in the first 10 years after widespread flights are approved.

“This is a watershed moment in how advanced technology can improve lives,” Brendan Schulman, drone maker DJI’s vice president of policy and legal affairs, said in an e-mailed statement. “After years of work, DJI and other advocates for reasonable regulation are pleased that the FAA now has a basic set of rules for integrating commercial drone operations into the national airspace.”

The FAA’s decision to drop a requirement for a pilot’s license “is a significant win” for the industry that opens it to many more operators,” Diana Cooper, PrecisionHawk’s senior director of policy, said in a web posting.

“I regard it as a significant milestone,” said AUVSI President Brian Wynne, who had been pushing FAA to issue the regulations for years. “We’ll accelerate the process of understanding what the risks are that will allow us to move on to more complex operations.”

For some companies, the rules didn’t move fast enough. “We still have a long way to go, specifically when it comes to long- distance, or beyond visual line-of-sight, drones,” Tero Heinonen, chief executive officer of Sharper Shape Ltd., a Finnish-based company that has begun power-line inspections in Europe, said in a statement. The company expects to apply to the FAA for a waiver within months, Heinonen said.

This is a watershed moment in how advanced technology can improve lives

Ahead of EU

The release of the rules puts the U.S. ahead of Europe in setting standards for the drone industry. The European Union has yet to adopt comprehensive rules for civilian drones, according to the European Aviation Safety Agency website. Individual nations have imposed restrictions, but they differ across borders. EASA is trying to develop rules by 2017.

The FAA has already convened groups to study how to eventually allow such flights without waivers. Test programs are examining how to: approve long-range drone flights in which an operator steers with video images; make unmanned craft safe to fly over people; and expand agricultural uses.

The Obama administration also announced new federal initiatives with NASA, the FAA and other government agencies to study how to broaden drone uses for tasks such as disaster response and environmental monitoring. NASA is already developing an air-traffic control system for low-altitude drones.

Privacy concerns

Privacy concerns will be addressed by a new government campaign to educate operators and businesses. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration last month issued non-binding privacy policy suggestions. Commercial drone operators will be tested on privacy issues as part of their license, according to the Obama administration.

The FAA has permitted commercial drone operations — those conducted for hire, as opposed to recreational flights by hobbyists who don’t need a license — since September 2014 under a case-by-case exemption process ordered by Congress. Drone operators under this program had to have a traditional pilot’s license. As of June 2, the agency had granted 6,004 such permits to fly drones commercially.

The new regulation allows a far easier approval process and is expected to swell the ranks of commercial operators. The agency is dropping the requirement for a pilots’ license, relying instead on a simpler knowledge test. FAA-approved drone operators will have more leeway to fly different drone models and multiple missions.

‘Major step’

The regulations also will promote safety at a time when hundreds of thousands of hobbyists are flying with limited FAA oversight, Wynne said. There were more than 1,200 reports of drone safety incidents last year, including flying too close to airliners, according to FAA.

The new rules codify what until now have been set out as FAA policy statements and interpretations. All drones are aircraft and subject to FAA enforcement actions if operators are reckless or fly in prohibited zones, according to the agency.

“We need an attitude of professionalism where people are working to improve the safety record all the time,” Wynne said. People who obtain FAA drone-pilot certificates will now have an economic incentive to help police the system, he said.

Operators will be restricted to flying below 400 feet, more than five miles from an airport without obtaining FAA permission and must keep the device within sight — limiting flights to roughly a quarter mile.

Bloomberg News

22 Jun 17:24

Stria Lithium: Re-focused on Near-term Revenues

by Resources Wire | Jay Currie

There is a bit of a lithium rush going on at the moment. Lots of companies exploring hard rock and brine lithium deposits in anticipation of the ramp up of Li-ion battery demand. Stria Lithium (V.SRA) is a junior mining developer with the ability to leverage its lithium processing expertise into an early stage revenue producer – even though it’s Pontax Lithium Project is only at the early exploration stage.

President and Chief Operating Officer Iain Todd comes to the company with a string of technological successes behind him. He earned his Ph.D in Mineral Processing and an M.Eng degree in Extractive Metallurgy and held managerial level responsibilities at SGS Minerals’ Hydrometallurgy Group. All of which is important because while Stria has what it believes is a highly prospective lithium property in Northern Quebec, its main focus is on the technologies involved in processing lithium into high value lithium metal and foils.

“What differentiates Stria from our lithium mining competitors is our wealth of in-house technical and scientific expertise, experience and, the supporting infrastructure to produce and fabricate high-value, in demand lithium products for North American customers,” said Todd. “It’s a niche, underserved market. The lithium metal market is about 33% to pharmaceuticals, 41 % to special alloys, 18% to foil products used in batteries and the final 8% in other applications.”

Converting lithium-bearing rock to marketable lithium is, or rather was, a complicated multi stage process. Stria has developed a proprietary, environmentally sustainable technology that radically simplifies that process, reduces time and produces a low-cost product. “We begin with an ore heat treatment followed by a chlorination process that directly produces the lithium chloride required for our molten salt electrolysis process to obtain the lithium metal we are after.”

Stria’s technical and metallurgical expertise means that even as it is in the process of developing its lithium property in Quebec, it holds process keys to the production of lithium metal and subsequently, the manufacture of lithium compounds and lithium foil vital to North American customers. Todd is positioning Stria to exploit the technological and competitive commercial advantages he’s building into his company’s operations.

Financing is critical in support of the company’s twin-track business agenda. While funds are in place and have been allocated for the 2016 exploration year at Pontax, a significant capital investment is required to bring lithium metal and lithium foil into revenue production within the next 18 months, well in advance of completion of the mine.

Stria’s immediate aims are to begin piloting the manufacture of lithium foil using lithium metal purchased on the open market while simultaneously piloting lithium chloride to lithium metal at its product development facility in Kingston, Ontario. This will allow for completion of a feasibility study along with preliminary engineering for a full-scale production plant, preferably in Quebec because of its advantageous, low-cost energy supply.

The company’s technologies will be eventually paired with the Pontax spodumene lithium property in the James Bay region of Northern Quebec. The Pontax property, according to Todd, “has seen limited drilling but there is as yet no 43-101 resource estimate. This is preliminary drilling.”

However, because metallurgy is critical in the lithium field Stria undertook a large-scale bulk test with 16 tons of lithium bearing rock from Pontax. After processing “We got a very nice concentrate of 6.3% Li2O at a recovery of 85%” said Todd.

The property itself, while remote, is only 22 kilometers from the James Bay Road. It has a seaplane accessible lake only 5 km away and, perhaps most importantly, has a 735 KV power line, with a maintenance trail under it, adjacent to the property. So the two key infrastructure issues which determine the viability of a mining operation, transportation and power, are in place at Pontax.

Stria also has the advantage of being part of the Grafoid-led 2GL Platform business alliance designed to integrate green energy technology innovation with Focus Graphite Inc., Grafoid Inc., and Braille Battery Inc. In the May 18, 2016 press release announcing the 2GL platform, Grafoid Chief Executive Officer Gary Economo, (also Stria CEO) stated, “The establishment of 2GL is the affirmation of our vision that integrating innovation from a strategic alliance provides us with a competitive advantage from a joint marketing platform. The potential from next generation green energy markets is enormous.

“By pushing the boundaries of battery technologies, we aim to supply both materials and the know-how that create better energy storage applications at a cost acceptable for widespread adoption.”

Essentially 2GL is aiming for complete mine-to-market next generation energy production and storage supply chain integration. It is a compelling vision because the explosive growth of Li-ion battery technology. Critically, that technology requires graphite and lithium and it may very well be enhanced in future by the extraordinary properties of graphene.

The 2GL alliance links Stria directly to Grafoid’s and Braille Battery’s development of graphene-lithium chemistries for next generation energy storage devices.

The market seems to have responded well to Stria’s two track approach to lithium. From a low of $.03 in February, Stria touched a high of $.17 in April. At time of writing Stria was trading at $.11 with 23.25 million shares outstanding and a market cap of $2.56 million.

22 Jun 17:24

Conversion Rate Optimization Best Practice: Ignore Best Practices

by Chris Goward

CRO best practices

Why do marketers insist on looking for “best practices” and “conversion rate optimization tips” that simply don’t work?

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post called “31 Conversion Optimization Tips – How to Increase Conversion Rates”. Early in the post, I explained that these so-called “best practices” have limited value unless they’ve been thoroughly tested. They do not take your business context into account and probably don’t work in your specific scenario. Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is context-specific, which is why not adhering to specific conversion rate optimization best practices is a best practice.

Despite that pointed preface, that post remains one of WiderFunnel’s most popular. Marketers are always looking for the next magic conversion tactic that will take their site to the next level, but unfortunately, that magic tactic doesn’t exist. If you want to do CRO for real, you need a structured process that delivers both growth and insights.

In an ideal world, you’d have a fully dedicated team running your conversion optimization program. But, in reality, your resources may be limited. If you want more resources, you need upper-level buy-in. If you want upper-level buy-in, you need to prove the ROI of conversion optimization.

A structured process is your best chance at getting valid results you can use to build your internal team and take your marketing efforts to the next level.

Beware the ‘Hot-Shot Optimizer’

There are conversion optimization “experts” out there who promise quick wins without the hassle of process, but be wary of these ‘Hot-Shot Optimizers’. They love landing page templates and swear by design ‘best practices’. They track micro conversions as goals and call winning variations without statistical significance. They value tools over strategy and love to test button colors.

The ‘Hot-Shot’ might get a few wins in the beginning, but they may not be real wins. And soon, your conversion optimization efforts will hit a brick wall. Without in-depth research, informed hypotheses, proper prioritization and design of experiments, and comprehensive results analysis, you’ll never see the full benefits of CRO on your site.

You need a never-ending testing idea engine.

In this post, I’ll show you the most important components of building a testing idea engine — a structured process for conversion optimization.

We’ve been developing and refining the optimization process at WiderFunnel for the past decade: the latest version is what we’ve called the Infinity Optimization Process. This process is designed to maximize both creative and analytical thinking so that you never run out of test ideas.

The good news is that you can adopt parts or all of it in your optimization program today! Look at the frameworks below as examples of the principles your optimization program needs to succeed.

Optimization isn’t a project, it’s a continuous cycle.

There are two sides to successful conversion optimization: one is expansive, the other reductive. This is just like in any good brainstorming session: the idea generation mindset is separated from the evaluation mindset. It’s the same in conversion optimization. I call these mindsets Explore and Validate. The central point is the nucleus where the energy is released. That is where Growth & Insights are revealed.

The infinity loop shape of the diagram is intentional — this process is continuous and both Explore and Validate feed into each other through Growth and Insights.

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The Explore phase is the ideation phase, where you gather information and look for patterns within data. In the center of Explore is the LIFT Model — our framework for understanding customers’ conversion barriers and persuasion opportunities.

The LIFT Model, which has become the industry’s most popular conversion optimization framework, is the central point for understanding and categorizing all the data you’ve gathered within Explore. It shows the 6 conversion factors that are influencing your sales right now: Value Proposition, Clarity, Relevance, Anxiety, Distraction, and Urgency. If the Explore phase is done properly, you’ll come away with a bunch of insights that can then be validated.


There’s a lot of nuance to how this is done, which can only be learned by experience with testing on many different scenarios. You should watch this webinar recording for case study examples to learn more about how Explore reveals insights and growth. In one example on the webinar, I detail how an Explore insight led to a 26% lift in sales for one company. Could you use similar insights?

The Validate phase proves great ideas.

Validate is an iterative process that proves which of the ideas generated in Explore actually work.

Validate takes the customer insights and LIFT points from the Explore phase to be tested in this 7-step experimentation cycle, as follows:

  1. The PIE Framework

This is also a popular conversion optimization framework we developed, which allows your optimization team to always focus your resources on the most important opportunity. You simply prioritize opportunities based on three factors: Potential, Importance, and Ease. (In practice, we use many data points as sub-factors that feed into the top-level PIE numbers, but this is a good conceptual starting point for you.)


  1. Hypothesis creation, which converts the “weaknesses” identified in the LIFT Analysis and turns them into strengths to be tested.
  2. Design of Experiments (DOE). Design of Experiments is often overlooked, but this is where we spend most of our effort at WiderFunnel. To clarify, I’m not referring to graphic design, but rather how you’re structuring your experiments. Your DOE will determine the outcomes of your experiments in both insights and growth. If your experiment is designed to isolate insights, for example, losing tests will never be losing tests because you’ll have uncovered insights that you can build upon!
  3. UX/UI design, which can cause problems if you’re using a designer without experience in design for conversion. The details count!
  4. Development and QA, ensuring your code approach doesn’t cause technical problems for your A/B test results.
  5. Live A/B test, where you monitor results and make tactical decisions to prune or accelerate variations based on performance rules.
  6. Results analysis. If your hypotheses and Design of Experiments are created effectively, you’ll learn something important about your customers and lift revenue. At WiderFunnel, we call these profitable “A-ha!” Moments.

The Infinity Optimization Process enables you to take your A/B testing to the next level, allowing you to uncover and test the persuasion triggers that move your users to buy.

A mobile e-commerce subscription company discovers its customer motivation.

An e-commerce client has a subscription model: users sign up for a monthly mystery box of “Geek + Gamer gear”. We ran several experiments with the intention of testing the understanding of this client’s customers’ motivations. We wanted to know if users responded to hints of social inclusion or hints of product tangibility and savings.


Social proof variation

After a few rounds of testing, the client saw a 14% lift in sales using a combination of social inclusion and social proof. This customer tendency is one that the client can now test on other areas of their site.

Social proof clearly works…for this audience, in this context. But what works for one organization may not work for yours. You should always test that!

So, how does one come up with important ideas like this? That’s where the PODs, POPs, and POIs can come in.

This final framework I’ll share with you today is meant to help you understand how to create powerful questions about your value proposition and the persuasion triggers that motivate your users to act.


Many marketers are focused on Points of Parity: these are the features you offer that are important to your prospects that you also share with your competitors. Marketers should focus, instead on the Points of Difference: these are the features that are important to your prospects and are not available from your competitors.

Do the work to understand your audience. Look for patterns in user behavior and test the different approaches to your value proposition that are unique to you (refer to those PODs). A quick tip! Landing pages are the best place to test your value proposition because visitors to these pages are exempt from the rest of the messaging on your site.

The Infinity Optimization Process over time

Here’s a visual of our A/B testing engine in action, over time (this diagram is based off actual testing we’ve done for one WiderFunnel client). We start with one test on the homepage that reveals 5 insights.

In the next round of testing, two of these are validated, two are invalidated, one is inconclusive. We also see that an insight from a separate experiment on a content page has been invalidated.

And on and on it goes. The testing ideas never end.

As you can see, conversion optimization takes dedicated time and resources to be successful. It can’t be a side project for a single data analyst. If you want an endless stream of test ideas, you must build your strategy, build your bank of insights and store those insights so that they are accessible.

22 Jun 17:23

30 Legendary Startup Pitch Decks And What You Can Learn From Them

by Aaron Lee

If you need to raise funding from VCs for your startup, the first step is to create a pitch deck. Well, after step zero, which is to have a great idea.

So what’s a pitch deck? A pitch deck is a brief presentation (usually based on slides) that provides the audience with an overview of your business. It is often created using PowerPoint or Keynote.

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For the purpose of funding, it gives potential investors a brief idea of what your business is about, who your target audience is, and other relevant information that will help convince them to write you a check.

A pitch deck is an essential fundraising tool, whether you’re looking to raise $50,000, $500,000 or $50 million.

Creating a pitch deck is not an easy task. If you’ve never done it before and you’re a first-time entrepreneur, it can be incredibly daunting.

Your emotions will be filled with a mix of excitement and nervousness about raising your first round of financing for your startup. What do you include and leave out? This is your baby we’re talking about; surely you need to show everything, right?

To help you with this daunting task, why not take some cues from other startups who’ve raised money from angel investors and VCs? I’ve compiled a list of 30 of the best startup pitch decks to help you to use as reference. These are the pitch decks of some of your favorite tech brands that you use every day. These pitch decks definitely helped them get to the top.

Hopeuflly these deck will help you understand what persuades an investor to write a check for an entrepreneur’s idea. We hope they provide some insight into the ebst way to get inside a potential invertor’s head.

We’ll also touch upon the best takeaways from each deck so you’ll get an idea of what to include in your startup pitch decks.

If you’ve already put together a great pitch deck and you have some advice, we’d love to hear it in the comments!

From behemoths like Facebook and Youtube to up-and-coming superstars like Buffer, together these startups have raised millions of dollars and are now worth billions!

1. Facebook

deck 1.jpeg

I’m sure you’ve heard of them. Here’s a fun fact: Peter Thiel, the billionaire venture capitalist and entrepreneur, was the first outside investor in Facebook back in 2004. That’s when Mark Zuckerberg first set out to turn his dorm room project into a lasting business. Zuckerberg received $500,000 from Peter Thiel.

While they don’t have an investor pitch deck, they do have a media kit containing the company’s value proposition, key metrics, and marketing services that were used to sell ads to potential clients.

Favorite takeaway: The focus of the pitch deck was based on solid numbers such as their user engagement, traffic, users, and growth metrics.

2. Airbnb


Airbnb is a platform that allows people to list, find, and rent lodging.

This company is one of the greatest startup success stories of our time. Airbnb’s pitch deck has become a favorite reference for entrepreneurs around the world.

Favorite takeaway: The biggest takeaway from Airbnb is the intro. It’s all about hooking your audience. You need to describe your business using as few words as possible. Imagine telling a 5-year-old what your business is about. If you can’t do that, it’s time to rethink your intro to your investors.

3. Buffer


Buffer is a social media scheduling platform that helps you schedule content to Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Pinterest

The almighty startup pitch deck that Buffer used to raise half a million dollars is a popular deck because of Buffer’s transparency. The founder decided to put it up to help other startups to raise funds.

Favorite takeaway: Similar to Facebook, the deck was based on solid numbers from Buffer’s users (e.g. 800 users, $150,000 annual revenue run rate, etc.)

4. Square


Square is a company that allows merchants to accept mobile credit card payments via a dongle.

Favorite takeaway: Social proof! It doesn’t hurt to promote the management team if they’ve been with Twitter, Google, Linkedin, Paypal, and more. I think it shows that your management team’s experience is an armor to the company. This detailed pitch deck outlines Square’s business model and a simple financial model that portrays their annual revenue and five-year growth rate.

5. LinkedIn


Founded in 2002, LinkedIn is the top business-oriented social networking platform.

The company’s pitch talks a great deal about company vales, the value the network brings, and how it’s different than other social networks.

Favorite takeaway: The deck also provides an extensive analogy to showcase to investors what LinkedIn is. For example, it talks about “Web 1.0” vs. “Web 2.0”: Alta Vista was “Search 1.0”, and Google was “Search 2.0”. The deck talks about how LinkedIn is “Networking for Businesses 2.0”.

6. Mint


Mint is a personal financial services tool that helps people track their spending and find ways to save money.

This deck was used in a competition and was never used for raising money, but it’s still a powerful deck that startups can learn from.

Favorite takeaway: This simple deck provides a clear value proposition to customers and investors. The creators of this deck also understood that one of the key concerns of an investor is the exit mechanism of his or her investments. I love how the deck highlights a number of exit strategy options.

7. MapMe


MapMe allows users to create universally accessible (i.e. on smartphones, tablets, and computers) maps of anywhere they want with no coding required.

This deck was used to raise their $1 million in seed funding.

Social proof almost always work. The deck showed that the startup had over 20,000 unique visitors, 18,000 monthly alerts, 12 minutes average sessions on the site.

Favorite takeaway: The deck has fewer than 13 slides but provides investors with knowledge of traction the site got going viral on social media and their go-to-market strategy.

8. LaunchRock


LaunchRock allows users to create landing pages and quickly get their startups known through social media, even before the launch of their full site.

Favorite takeaway: One the better-designed decks, the deck had only 15 slides but showed how the product works and the different ways it can be used. They also utilize an analogy similar to what Linkedin had in their decks.

9. Mixpanel


Mixpanel is an advanced analytics platform for mobile and the web. They not only measure page views but also analyze the actions people take. This is the series-B deck for Mixpanel that helped them raise over $65 million.

Favorite takeaway: The deck started off with a problem: people guessing their analytics. It followed up by providing their solution to that problem and, ultimately, their competitive advantage.

10. Moz


Moz started out as a SEO company but has pivoted to support marketers across all inbound marketing strategies.

This is the series-B deck for Moz which they used to raise over $18 million. If you’re an established startup, you can follow this guide. The deck is packed with information about the company since it was founded five years prior to this pitch.

Favorite takeaway: Because the company had already been in operation for five years, they were able to present an accurate estimated revenue, revenue run rate, average customer lifetime value, cost of paid acquisition, etc.

11. Buzzfeed


We all have a love and hate relationship with Buzzfeed, don’t we? I’m sure you’ve stumbled on their pages or watched their videos before.

As of today, BuzzFeed has managed to raise over $240 million.

Favorite takeaway: SOCIAL PROOF! It doesn’t hurt to start a pitch with big numbers the company has, like the millions of users visiting the website on a monthly basis and quotations from large organizations such as CNN.

12. Youtube


Youtube was acquired by Google in 2006 for $1.6 billion. Like Facebook, this company doesn’t require any introduction. Unfortunately, this is not the original deck. This is Youtube’s pitch deck to Sequoia Capital (one of the most established VC investors who’s often regarded as one of the industry’s best), which was released through a legal proceeding.

Favorite takeaway: The company wanted to be the primary outlet for video content, and it succeeded doing just that. It goes to show that if you know what your product can do, are able to show its potential, and build on the momentum gained through early investments to create that, then you can achieve its potential.

13. Manpacks


Manpacks is a platform that delivers men’s essentials such as underwear, razors, grooming and other products.

The company raised $500,000 with this deck.

Favorite takeaway: This deck stands out! They clearly understand who they are, and they stayed that way throughout the entire pitch. The deck is filled with a fun tone that helps explain the product well.

14. Foursquare


Foursquare is a mobile platform that helps you find the best places to go in your area.

Favorite takeaway: This deck does a great job using screenshots of social proof that the app already has from its users sharing tweets of them being ‘mayor’ of a particular area.

15. Flowtab


Flowtab was an app that allowed people to order drinks quickly at a crowded bar. Despite shutting down, the founders still made it an effort to help other startups.

Favorite takeaway: Simplicity. This deck does well explaining critical information like the problem, the solution, their business model, and traction. You can’t really go wrong with this.

16. Dwolla


Dwolla is a payment solution that allows users to send, receive, and request funds from other users. This 18-slide pitch deck landed the company $16.5 million.

Favorite takeaway: Most startups are founded because of a problem they faced, but not many people tell their story well through their pitch decks. Dwolla shared a great story of how the founder paid $50,000 a year in credit card fees and then created a solution for never doing it again.

17. ZenPayRoll (Now Gusto)


Gusto (previously ZenPayroll) is a cloud-based solution tool for small businesses to pay employees.

The company raised $6 million with this deck.

Favorite takeaway: This isn’t just a startup deck. It is a template that you can use and replicate easily by filling in the blanks.

18. Bliss

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Bliss provides metrics for coders and allows them to collaborate easily.

The company raised over $400,000 using Angel List.

Favorite takeaway: The deck was well composed with a clear understanding of the product and the investors they were pitching to.

19. Adpushup


Adpushup allows companies to maximize ad revenues through advanced A/B testing. They raised more than $632,000 in investments.

Favorite takeaway: Going back to the basics works. This deck has the basic principles like a great introduction, an outline of problems, potential solutions, market opportunities, products, case studies, milestones, traction, and a future plan.

20. Wealthsimple


Wealthsimple is Canada’s first online investment manager. They raised more than $2 million in seed funding.

Favorite takeaway: The deck is sweet and short but effective. My favorite part is the transformation of industry, which is laid out on a table format.

21. AppVirality


AppVirality allows app developers to grow their platform using growth method techniques proven by other startups.

Favorite takeaway: My favorite takeaway is how the flow of the deck goes through the problem, the proven solution, and how it works within their app.

22. SteadyBudget


SteadyBudget is budget management software that helps PPC analysts manage various budgets across different channels.

Favorite takeaway: When you have the traction to back your startup, use it. SteadyBudget clearly took advantage of it.

23. Podozi


Podozi is an online e-commerce platform based in Nigeria.

Favorite takeaway: Most startup decks work well when they’re short and sweet like Podozi’s. The best takeaway is the working partnership with large brands that this platform already has.

24. Fittr


Fittr is a platform that designs custom workouts tailored to equipment, access, time management, and goals.

Favorite takeaway: As a user of this platform, I love the investment goals and the purpose of what the company is planning to use it for.

25. Swipes


Swipes is a task manager app to help its users increase their productivity.

Favorite takeaway: One of their pages used social proof of quotayions from The Next Web and Lifehacker. You can’t go wrong with that.

26. Canvas


Canvas replaces paper-based processes with affordable and easy-to-use mobile apps and forms. They raised $9 million with these decks.

Favorite takeaway: Instead of saying what they do, the second slide in their deck shows how their startup helps businesses. No words needed.

27. Ooomf (now Crew)


Crew (formerly Ooomf & then PickCrew) is a freelancer marketplace that connects mobile and web developers with projects or work. This deck was used to raised over $2 million dollars.

Favorite takeaway: Well-designed with an easy-to-understand flow.

28. Cubeit

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Cubeit is a mobile application that allows users to aggregate content from anywhere . Cubeit used this 13-slide deck to raise seed funding before they even had a finished product.

Favorite takeaway: A strong introduction will get investors to pay attention. Their deck starts out with a clear message, which was that “owning more devices doesn’t make your life easier”. I can’t help but pay attention to how this company will help.

29. Castle


Castle is a startup that lets rental owners put their properties on autopilot. This was the deck Castle used to raise $270,000 for their startup.

Favorite takeaway: Great design and easy to digest.

30. Sequoia Capital


Sequoia Capital is one of the leading investment firms in Silicon Valley. This deck is a template they recommend following.

Favorite takeaway: It’s like having the keys to the kingdom. You don’t have to guess what this investment giant is looking for. They tell you straight away.

To sum up, a strong pitch deck not only serves to reinforce your brand to investors. It also demonstrates that you understand what your business is and who your customers are.

Look at the takeaways from these startup pitch decks as a guide to help you in your quest to raise funds for your own startup.

Here are some of the main ideas:

  • Decks don’t have to be formal or beautiful.
  • Provide an impactful intro or slogan.
  • Keep your deck short (less than 20 pages).
  • Use analogies to show difference and make connections.

After going through so many decks, I recommend that your deck should also:

  • Start with a strong intro / vision
  • Show problems
  • Offer solutions
  • Identify market opportunities
  • Showcase product / services clearly
  • Digest your business model
  • Highlight financials
  • Add social proof / case study
  • Differentiate from competition
  • Show experienced management team

If you’re looking for additional information, DocSend shared lessons they got learning from 200 startups who raised $360 million.

22 Jun 17:23

Article: Sales Enablement Technology Keeps Content Consistent Across Sales and Marketing Teams

Sales enablement technology can aid sales teams with customer interactions spanning the entire buyer journey and also provide support for internal communication. Allana Hinks, marketing manager for Brauer Natural Medicine, spoke with eMarketer about the value of sales enablement technology for the company.
22 Jun 17:22

A European tech investor explains why he thinks Brexit fears are totally overblown

by Rob Price

garden of eden paradise adam eve god

The UK tech industry is largely terrified by the risk of a "Brexit" — Britain voting to leave the European Union in the upcoming referendum.

Surveys show tech workers are overwhelmingly opposed to the idea, and none of Britain's tech "unicorn" startups worth more than $1 billion openly support it. "It's the first political issue of my lifetime I've felt this strongly about," one London CEO told me last month.

But not everyone has such an apocalyptic outlook on Britain exiting the 28-nation bloc.

Fergal Mullen, general partner at European venture capital firm Highland Europe, says Brexit will have absolutely no impact on how his firm does business.

"I personally think it would be a shame, almost sad," the Irish-born investor told Business Insider. "Because what's the best thing the EU has achieved in the past 40 years? It's peace. And that was one of the founding principles of the EU for the first place ... You guys brought peace to Europe when we needed it most, so I would be sad."

But, he continued, "I think it would have the kind of economic impact that people think. People will still create companies here — that's not going to change. People will come and go here, in the non-tech world people will still want to have second homes or first homes here, that's all going to continue."

Highland Europe focuses on growth-stage investment in internet, software, and mobile companies, typically investing between $10-30 million in a company each time. It launched in 2012, and has €580 million (£444 million, or $652 million) under management across two funds.

"Yeah, you might have to negotiate some bilateral trade deals and so forth," Fergal said. "And yeah Europe will probably give you a hard time for a while. But you know what, I think you've got some pretty clever trade negotiators and bureaucrats. They'll figure it all out."

The financial industry has a gloomy forecast for a post-Brexit Britain.

New York City Snow StormThis is in stark contrast to some other European investors — and most of the financial sector. The IMF, the World Bank, the European Central Bank, JPMorgan, and Blackrock are among the financial organisations that have come out against Brexit, warning of adverse economic consequences.

"In the event of a 'leave' vote, we could find ourselves with a considerably less rich and diverse startup ecosystem, where we no longer attract the best entrepreneurs to start up, and from the investor perspective, with reduced dealflow," wrote early stage venture capital investor Nic Brisbourne in an op-ed for He asked rhetorically: "And equally, would Brexit also make it harder for UK investors to invest across Europe, thus limiting the flow of UK capital into EU startups?"

And Haakon Overli, founder of VC fund Dawn, wrote for The Telegraph that "it may be a decade or more before venture capitalists considering investing in the UK have any clarity over what environment they will be operating within. That would spell disaster for UK businesses looking for risk capital for two main reasons."

But Mullen disagrees with this assessment, and says it won't change the growth-stage VC firm's investment strategy.

"If you think about it, the only material impact could be on the value of the pound versus the Euro and ... if we're trying to get a return from a foreign exhcange perspective on our entry price versus our exit price on the foreign exchange movement that happened in between, then it's probably not a great investment in the first place."

"You've already Brexited."

Mullen thinks the risks of Brexit are overstated because Britain is already much closer to a post-Brexit state than people realise. "You're already Brexited," he argues. "The UK is already an island nation. You've got your own currency. You've got a central bank that allows you to control your currency. You've cut a better deal with Europe about a year ago in anticipation of this particular referendum.

As such, Britain's existence outside of the EU won't be as unfamiliar as many fear: "I think you've already established many of the conditions that people think will exist post-Brexit. I think they already exist. You guys have negotiated this over the last few years."

In short: Life will go on.

highland Fergal Mullen cofounder partnerBritain's tech scene is fiercely international, and there are fears that leaving the European Union will make it harder for British startups to hire and retain European talent because of the end of free movement. But Mullen doesn't buy this argument either. "If you need to get talent, you're going to get talent," he argues.

Who to let in, post-Brexit, won't be an EU decision: "That's a UK decision, and will remain the UK decision. There's no way even if you Brexited ... I don't see the UK ever changing its policies on allowing quality people into this country. They won't! And that's who they're recruiting. It's high-quality graduates."

He added: "I think the UK is no dumb country. And I think if collectively you decide to leave, is it a disaster? No! I think it's sad. It's not a disaster though, and I think you'll adapt."

Join the conversation about this story »

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22 Jun 17:22

HOUSING EXPERTS: Brexit would turn London's property market upside down

by Matthew Nitch Smith


Britain's property market will be turned upside down if voters opt to leave the European Union on June 23, say two prominent housing experts.

Basically, it will lead to a faltering economy and therefore hit prices, hinder ability to construct more homes and also allow rich overseas investors to come in and snap up property at a lower value.

Galliard Homes, London's largest private house builder, sent Business Insider a statement this morning saying that if a Brexit — Britain leaving the EU — happens "the London economy will falter" and "the uncertainty it would cause will generate a value drop in the property market in a very short time."

It added that if Britain leaves the EU then construction costs "will rise by up to 15%" and that its 7,500 planned constructions in the capital could be in jeopardy as "many site/construction staff working in London are people who originate from countries across the EU."

"Currently some 39% of London’s population of 8.66 million people were not born in the UK," according to Galliard, suggesting the EU plays a huge part in the city's property market, and a sudden downturn in movement would cause a crash — a shockwave which could impact the whole of the UK.

Meanwhile Peter Wetherell, a London estate agent specialising in luxury homes, said in a separate statement sent to BI that a Leave vote would "generate shock and turmoil" in London and result in a Brexit bubble as rich overseas buyers would take advantage of the plummeting Pound by making short-term, high-end investments.

A Brexit would also create a "two-speed" marketplace, it said, and property areas more reliant on EU buyers would go into stagnation while places like West London would continue to flourish thanks to rich non-EU buyers. But a vote to Remain, it added, would see the market get over the referendum uncertainty by the last quarter of 2016.

Galliard Homes Managing Director Don O Sullivan said voters had to think carefully:

"This is clearly a big decision for all, with many competing factors and issues but we at Galliard Homes strongly believe that it is better for the short and long term growth of the London economy and the wider UK for the country to remain within the EU."

A number of analysts have already made grave predictions on the effect a Brexit would have on the UK property market. Research house Bernstein said leaving the EU would kill Britain's property prices and drag the banking sector down with it.

The average house price in Britain is currently at £292,000 ($422,099), according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics for March. Meanwhile, the average price to buy a home in London is now more than £550,000. Properties in London are now almost 60% more costly than they were prior to the 2008 financial crisis.

The EU referendum is currently too close to call. A recent Survation poll showed the Remain and Leave sides virtually neck and neck with just two days to go until the vote.

BI brexit referendum graphic

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22 Jun 17:22

CREDIT SUISSE: Brexit could be worse than 'Black Wednesday'

by Ben Moshinsky and Ben Moshinsky

If Britain chooses to leave the EU on Thursday, it will make economic waves both in the short and medium terms.

One of the most immediate effects would be a sudden drop in the value of the pound, and a severe capital flight, according to analysts at Credit Suisse.

It could be as bad or worse as Black Wednesday – the day the pound collapsed in 1992 after the British government pulled the currency from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism after failing to defend its high valuation against the Deutsche mark.

The research echos George Soros, who famously made £1 billion betting against the pound that day, writing in The Guardian on Monday, "that after a Brexit vote the pound would fall by at least 15% and possibly more than 20%." 

Here's the chart from Credit Suisse putting Black Wednesday in context:



On Black Wednesday itself – September 16, 1992 – the pound fell 4%. It had lost around 15% of its value by the end of the month.


If the markets threaten a drop of a similar magnitude, the Bank of England might be tempted to step in to support the currency because the fallout from a collapse could be much worse than in 1992.

Here's Credit Suisse:

  • Wider current account deficit: "At the time of Black Wednesday the UK’s current account deficit was near 2% of GDP, but since then it has ballooned to nearly 7% of GDP (now the widest deficit in G10), and gross international assets and liabilities have increased to north of 500% of GDP. These factors might suggest that GBP has likely become more vulnerable to external shocks."
  • Asset prices are more vulnerable. "In 1992 the UK property market had suffered a period of stagnation, and the FTSE100 had fallen by over 15% between May and September 1992. By contrast, the FTSE100 has broadly been stable since March 2016 and is still near post-crisis highs. UK property price growth has stalled in recent months, but both London and UK prices are still near their highest in years."

With so much at stake, the Bank of England might want to try to prop up the currency, using its currency reserves in what might prove to be a costly fight.

BI brexit referendum graphic

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22 Jun 17:22

Canada’s Top 15 Companies by Total 5-year Return: Investor 500 2016

by CB Staff
Dollarama storefront

(Denis Beaumont/CP)

The annual Canadian Business Investor 500 Stock Ranking sorts stocks based on their annual rate of return over the past year, but sometimes you want an even longer horizon.

These are the stocks that have shown the most cumulative growth in the value of their stock over the past five years:

Rank Company Ticker Total 5-year return (%)*
1 ProMetic Life Sciences Inc. PLI 1,761
2 Intertape Polymer Group Inc. ITP 1,542
3 Nobilis Health Corp. NHC 1,077
4 People Corp. PEO** 956
5 Cipher Pharmaceuticals Inc. CPH 793
6 Clearwater Seafoods Inc. CLR 756
7 DHX Media Ltd. DHX 721
8 Boyd Group Income Fund BYD.UN 719
9 Constellation Software Inc. CSU 699
10 CCL Industries Inc. CCL.B 682
11 Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. ATD.B 551
12 Savaria Corp. SIS 546
13 Dollarama Inc. DOL 524
14 Concordia Healthcare Corp. CXR 512
15 Sylogist Ltd. SYZ** 511
* As of May 6 2016. ** Trades on the TSX Venture exchange

More from the Investor 500 Market Guide:

The post Canada’s Top 15 Companies by Total 5-year Return: Investor 500 2016 appeared first on Canadian Business - Your Source For Business News.

22 Jun 17:21

How To Harness The Machines: Being Productive With Task Runners

by Adam Simpson


Task runners are the heroes (or villains, depending on your point of view) that quietly toil behind most web and mobile applications. Task runners provide value through the automation of numerous development tasks such as concatenating files, spinning up development servers and compiling code.

How To Harness The Machines: Being Productive With Task Runners

In this article, we’ll cover Grunt, Gulp, Webpack and npm scripts. We’ll also provide some examples of each one to get you started. Near the end, I’ll throw out some easy wins and tips for integrating ideas from this post into your application.

The post How To Harness The Machines: Being Productive With Task Runners appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

22 Jun 17:21

14 Ways to Avoid Email Spam Filters

by Elna Cain


Do you spend hours painstakingly crafting an email for your new marketing campaign only to get a poor open rate in return?

The number one reason your email isn’t read is because it automatically gets sent to the spam folder by your user’s email provider (Gmail, Outlook, etc.).

According to ReturnPath, one in six permission-based emails don’t reach the inbox. When you are sending emails that you know are relevant to your audience and can offer value, this can be extremely frustrating.

There are two main reasons your emails can get sent to the spam folder:

  1. Emails are flagged by a spam filter. Spam filters are computer programs – like SpamAssassin – designed to search for certain criteria in email messages and flag the message as spam if it crosses a predetermined threshold. Each email provider has their own top-secret filters that look for: common spam signatures in the email headers, common spam words in the subject and body, high image to text ratios, and more.
  2. A recipient marks your message as spam. If a reader doesn’t like your message – even if they opted-in – they can send it to the spam folder themselves. If enough people do this, email providers are more likely to classify messages coming from you as spam in the future.

The likelihood of your emails reaching their intended target’s inbox is known as deliverability. Luckily there are many things you can do to try and improve your own email deliverability.

1. Get On Your Subscribers’ White List

Nearly all email providers like Gmail, Outlook (Hotmail), Yahoo, and your own ISP, allow you to add specific email addresses to your contacts database (whitelisting). Email sent from these addresses typically bypass the spam folder and is delivered straight to the inbox.

The easiest way to reliably get into your subscribers’ inbox is to ask them to add you to their contacts list. Comm100 suggests asking your subscribers to add you as a contact:

  • In the confirmation sign up email
  • On the confirmation page
  • During most customer service transactions

They suggest adding a line such as “Ensure that you continue to receive quality information from us that you enjoy by adding us to your contact list.”

For example, Melyssa Griffin sends a welcome email after you subscribe to her list. She makes it clear to her new subscribers to add her to your contact list:

spam 1

You need to be careful, though, as it is possible to be removed from the whitelist if your email gets marked as spam too often.

2. Provide an Out

Make sure you have a clear unsubscribe link in your email – it’s a legal requirement in most jurisdictions, actually. Just because someone has subscribed to your list in the past, it doesn’t mean they will always be interested in what you have to say.

Derek Halpern of Social Triggers has a clear unsubscribe link at the bottom of every email he sends out.

spam 2

Don’t try to hide your unsubscribe link or use a really small font. If you make it easier for your reader to click unsubscribe than to mark your email as spam, then your sender reputation will reflect this.

3. Test First By Sending to Yourself

Always send yourself a test version of the email before you send it out en masse. If it goes straight to your spam folder then you need to re-evaluate your message.

Bryan Harris of Video Fruit calls this a subject dry-run. He advises to write your subject line as normal and send it to a Gmail account – as the majority of people use Gmail to view their mail.

Gmail does have a Spam folder – which you definitely want to avoid – but you also want to avoid being filtered into your customer’s Promotions tab or folder. Google analyzes emails and, by default, files them into specific folders.

spam 3

To make a long story short, if your email doesn’t end up in the Primary tab – the inbox – your open rates will suffer. Try rewriting your test email’s subject and/or tweaking its content, and sending again.

When the email finally reaches your inbox, go ahead and send it to your list. When Bryan used this method, he increased his open rate by 75%.

4. A/B Testing

As with any marketing campaign, A/B split testing can help you to see what is working and what isn’t with your email marketing. All good email marketing providers will have a reporting dashboard containing metrics to monitor your campaigns. Check out Mailchimp’s below.

Spam 4

5. Double Opt-in

A double opt-in subscription process means that a subscriber must confirm twice that they want to be added to your list.

First, via an email lead capture form, and secondly in a confirmation email sent directly to their email address. For example, designer Cole from Pines Up North has a free branding course for small businesses. Once you click on his enroll button, a pop-up appears asking you to enter your information.

Spam 5

A few minutes later, you receive an email to confirm your subscription.

The benefits of double opt-in for preventing spam are two-fold:

  • You have a high-quality list. Asking visitors to confirm twice shows that they are really interested in what you have to say because they have to go to the effort of clicking once and then opening up an email and clicking again. An engaged readership is much less likely to report your messages as spam compared to those that aren’t as engaged.
  • Protection from competitors. In the single opt-in process, anyone can add ANY email address to your list because they don’t need access to that address to confirm. This can lead to underhanded tactics from competitors. Inactive or honeypot email addresses can be added to your list, increasing the chances that you are classified as a spammer.

6. Don’t Assume You Can Send Whatever You Like

Email marketing is a form of Permission Marketing, a phrase coined by Seth Godin.

Permission marketing is “the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.” A good measure of whether or not you are doing this effectively is whether your readers notice when you don’t send anything or “if you stop showing up, people complain, they ask where you went.”

If you take advantage of this permission by sending information that does not add value or is not relevant to the recipient, then you can expect it to be ignored, or worse, marked as spam. With advanced marketing automation technology that’s available – like list segmentation and tagging – there is no excuse for not targeting the right people with each campaign.

7. Comply with the Spam Laws

If you are a business operating (or marketing to people) in the United States and you’re sending “any electronic mail message, the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service,” then you must abide by the CAN-SPAM Act 2003. The main requirements are:

  • Don’t use false or misleading header information
  • Don’t use deceptive subject lines
  • Identify the message as an ad
  • Tell the recipients where you’re located
  • Tell recipients how to opt-out of receiving future email from you
  • Honor opt-out requests promptly
  • Monitor what others are doing on your behalf

These requirements must be followed, or you could face penalties of up to $16,000 for each offence – that’s $16,000 for each email on your list that you spam.

Most other countries have similar laws, such as Canada’s CASL or Europe’s EU Opt-in directive.

Also, keep in mind as Neil Patel and Ritiki Puri say, don’t think it’s ok to carry out spam-worthy activity “just because it’s legal.” You will quickly annoy subscribers and be removed from their whitelists.

8. Take Time On Your Subject Line

How you compose your subject line in your campaigns is a huge factor in whether or not you get a high open rate, get ignored, or get marked as spam.

First off, the choice of language is very important. There are certain words and phrases that will trigger spam filters and get your mail sent straight to where you don’t want it to be.

Hubspot has a pretty comprehensive list here divided by areas of business. Here are some words to avoid no matter what sector you operate in:

Spam 6

As well as trying not to trigger the filters, you must also make sure your subject line doesn’t provoke a reader to mark your message as spam before they even open it.


  • Writing subject lines in capitals. As Mailchimp says, this is screaming and is just rude.
  • Making spelling mistakes.
  • Using one-word subject lines such as “Hi.” Even though Barak Obama had success with a “Hey” as an email subject line, it’s not the norm. If you are trying to capture a reader’s attention by being mysterious, Vertical Response recommends asking a question instead. Based on the fact that when tested on social media posts, this method produced 92% more comments.
  • Trying to sell. Mailchimp says, “When it comes to email marketing, the best subject lines tell what’s inside, and the worst subject lines sell what’s inside.”
  • Being impersonal. Nothing turns a reader off quicker than a generic “Hello unnamed customer” greeting. Jeanne Hopkins says that personalization is “about creating a natural process of conversation between companies and customers”. Talk to your readers like you would if you were one-to-one and face-to-face with them, and you will reap the rewards.
  • Pleading with the reader to “Open me!” or “Read me”

9. Getting Off the Blacklist

Having either your sending IP or domain name get put on a blacklist can decimate your email marketing campaign.

There are a number of free services out there you can use to check if you are on such a list.

Some of the biggest blacklists are:

  • CBL (Composite Blocking List)
  • SORBS (Spam and Open Relay Blocking System)
  • Spamcop

Some are easier to get off of than others. To be removed from them you must contact each specific provider, explain what you’ve done to resolve the situation, and request to be taken off.

This is something your email service provider may handle, but keep in mind, if you do get your providers’ mailing IP addresses put on a blacklist – by being careless with your mailings – you may risk account termination, and fines.

10. Stay Away from Foul Play

Although not seen much anymore, there are a number of old tricks used by email spammers back in the day. However, some naive marketers may read an older article and think some of these things are worth a try. They’re definitely not recommended, and using tricks – or similar ones – like these can cause damage to your reputation. Here’s a small list of things not to do:

  • Don’t hide text (that would normally trigger filters) in an image
  • Don’t use Re: or Fwd: in the email subject line to trick the reader into thinking that they have already spoken to you about a certain topic
  • Don’t make false claims in the subject line

11. Keep Your List Clean

Hubspot sums it up pretty well, “even if your list is entirely built on valid opt-ins, you are at risk of being branded a “spammer” if you don’t practice proper email hygiene.”

Inactive email addresses trigger filters because spammers buy and sell lists that are full of these.

As an extreme example, bad list hygiene – a list of mailing addresses in this case – cost Tennessee Temple University $1,935,000. The University was moving locations and the build costs were considerably higher than expected – over $1.5 milllion more to be exact.

They had to rely on this money being funded by donations. And they were expecting a large amount of these donations to come from alumni on their mailing list. However due to having a poor quality list with outdated contact addresses, only 1 percent of 17,000 alumni responded to their marketing campaign.

12. Watch Your Images

You have to be mindful when including images in your email campaigns – especially if your messages are short. Mailchimp flagged, “too many images, not enough text” as the top reason their emails set off filters.

Spam filters can’t read images so spammers can use them to conceal trigger words that would normally get their email flagged.

A maximum 60/40 text to image ratio is a commonly recommended upper limit. Pardot suggests adding more text than usual if you have to send large/multiple images.

Many email providers and desktop email clients like Outlook block images as standard anyway, so depending on your user base, you may want to consider if sending your image is worth the risk at all.

13. 500 is the Magic Number

A recent study by Email on Acid found that in emails with 500 words or more, “content to image ratio does not affect deliverability.” They believe this is due to the fact that spam messages generally contain 1-3 sentences with a single link in them such as the one below.

Spam 7

14. Dial Down the Excitement

When you’re about to send an email to hundreds or thousands of people it’s easy to get excited about spreading your message.

The problem with this, as pointed out by Neil Patel and Ritika Puri in the Definitive Guide to Marketing Automation is, “what you see as ‘excitement’, your email list will see as excessively obnoxious behavior.” You need to dial it down.

Always focus on the reader when composing emails. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine reading your messages or subject lines for the first time from their perspective.

Case Study 1:

Spam 8

When working with Rich Fettke of, Kristie Tamsevicius increased the delivery rate of his newsletter by 22%.

Rich improved deliverability by implementing three of the steps mentioned above:

  • Adding a note telling readers that they could add Rich’s email to their address book to ensure they received the newsletter
  • Changed from all-caps to mixed case on the headings and the subject line
  • Removed words and phrases that triggered the spam filters

After these adjustments, all 5,538 of Ryan’s subscribers received the email.

Case Study 2: Mailchimp

Spam 9

MailChimp analyzed the open rates of different subject lines from over 200 million emails.

They found that phrases such as, “help,” “% off,” and “reminder” all had a negative impact on open rates. And the amount that went to the spam folder too.

Mailchimp concluded that using localized content such as a city name, lines shorter than 50 characters and phrases framed as questions all performed well and had higher open rates.

Wrapping It Up

There are a number of rules you can follow to reduce the chances of your emails hitting the spam folder. Some of these are technical and some are even enforced by law. But if you are being honest, relevant to your reader and adding value then you are already half-way there.

What are you doing to avoid triggering spam filters when sending your email campaigns?

22 Jun 17:21

A New Era of the Channel: Why and How the Rules for VARs Have Changed

by Jessica Baker

There is a morphing going on with partner types today. It seems like just yesterday we could put a clear definition of a VAR, SI, MSP, etc, on a PowerPoint slide and it all worked. Then came cloud and the Chicken Little cry of “disintermediation” and impending channel doom. And yet here we are years later with no doom. Although the lines have blurred, and what it means to be a VAR has changed, I believe that now – more than ever – the channel is needed to pull all the different SaaS, mobile, cloud, and IoT strings together in a package that is consumable by the end user. There is plenty of room – if not more – value to be added to a single instance of a technology sale. Enter the need for some professional services that didn’t exist before. Enter the need for the “Technical Channel Account Manager”. Enter a new era of the channel.

The new era will have fewer partner choices, with a younger generation at the helm. CompTIA figures there has been a 36% decrease in the number of new partners entering the market since 2008, and that of the existing space 40% are approaching retirement age. That makes room for M&A, more consolidation and Millennials to enter at a rapid pace.

When you combine the market force, with the changing demographics of the partner space, there is no way we can put hard and fast definitions of partner types on a page now and call it done. The “V” in VAR just got a whole lot more interesting and there are new rules for both sides of the equation.

New Rules for VARS

  • Invest in Pro Serve – If you want to bring value, you need to help your clients sort through all the SaaS, cloud, mobile, IoT interoperability and availability issues. This is no laughing matter, and the success of your ability to add value to your customer depends on this expertise. SaaS products come and go with ease. If you can help your customers add/move/change products and make it all work together, then you have some VALUE to add to the RESALE.
  • Own Your New Identity – With all this new-found value, you may just cross over into MSP land. But that’s ok. As you morph into a trusted advisor, your clients will, no doubt, look to you to bring more value to their business. Here’s your chance to either build it out – or acquire it. Remember, market demands are creating M&A opportunities. This could be a good time to go for it.
  • Don’t Race to the Bottom – There is value in what you bring to a client, and believing in and investing in your breadth and depth of value will set you apart. Not to mention drive your profit margins up! Even though components of your total solution are racing to the bottom (like cloud compute and storage)and thus driving out margin and competition, don’t undervalue what you can provide. If you can hold your own, your reputation will grow, and so will your lead list!

New Rules for Vendors

  • Invest in a TechCAM – With your VAR partners adding all this technical depth, they are going to need a trusted contact back in vendor-land to help them navigate this. If you can identify these break-put VARs, and give them the support they need, you will have the opportunity to ride this wave with them. While a Technical Channel Account Manage (TechCAM) won’t carry a quota, they will influence a TON of choices and be the technical sounding board to your VARs. Having a resource like this is a huge plus to your program, and your partners will be more apt to spec your product, knowing you have their back.
  • Place Value on Education – If you haven’t already put some type of training certification or accreditation in place, or if your enablement materials are not up to par, you should invest in the training and enablement of your partners. If they are trained correctly, then they can support your product correctly. Don’t forget to include training on integrations with other products because, most likely, your product will be used in conjunction with another. A highly trained partner base equals a highly loyal partner base.
  • Be a Matchmaker – If you have an internal M&A expert, you need to get them to lend some expertise to your partners. Now is the time – with all the changes happening, the switched-on partners will recognize M&A as an opportunity to grow. You should be having these strategic conversations with partners and act as matchmaker where you see synergy. This again will only strengthen your position of value with a partner and keep your solution the top of mind with them.

So, no disintermediation, no doom. The opportunities are even more plentiful now for those that are willing to change, adapt and act. Don’t be left behind in this new channel marketplace. Find your VALUE and capitalize on it.

The post A New Era of the Channel: Why and How the Rules for VARs Have Changed appeared first on OpenView Labs.

22 Jun 17:20

15 Ways to Prepare for the Microsoft LinkedIn Acquisition

by Colleen McKenna

Already, just days after the announcement of Microsoft buying LinkedIn, much has been written about this acquisition. Analysts, social media bloggers, LinkedIn enthusiasts and social selling experts have shared their varied opinions and hopeful enthusiasm.

In short, the more I think about it and understand it, the more I consider it a smart move. LinkedIn, with Microsoft’s resources, will no longer be Cinderella. And, finally and hopefully, LinkedIn will emerge as the business tool we describe rather than another social media channel.

Yes, LinkedIn will socialize Microsoft Office but make no mistake, the point is to increase the professional and economic currency for all working professionals and organizations, globally.

There is no going back. And, for every CEO, owner, company president, and managing director who says they don’t need LinkedIn, think again.

Are you willing to come up as a faceless person within your customers’ Outlook inbox?

Are you okay with your employees’ profiles looking lifeless and dull with no company description or value proposition?

Are you satisfied with incomplete employee profiles that are nothing more than online resumes that only position your employees for their next job, and not their next customer?

If not, read on.

15 ways to prepare for the Microsoft/LinkedIn acquisition:

And, by the way, if it doesn’t go through (highly doubtful) you, your employees and your organization will still benefit from this focus and approach.

  1. Review your mission, vision, and values. If you don’t have any of these, consider working on these business fundamentals. Even if you are a business of one, you still need these.
  1. Review every one of your value propositions for each persona. Make sure your value propositions are relevant.
  1. Know your key differentiators. Write them out if you have not done so already.
  1. Consider your employment and marketing branding messages.
  1. Is your website up-to-date? Where on your site will you direct people?
  1. Do you have content? If you have put original content on the back burner or not considered the role it should have for demonstrating your industry perspective, thought leadership or employment brand, now is the time to rethink, your strategy.
  1. Craft your LinkedIn strategy.
  1. Educate, educate, educate. Talk and work with LinkedIn specialists whose sole purpose is to train, coach and consult on LinkedIn. More than ever, you need a specialist who is less of a social media expert and more focused on social selling, recruiting and messaging.
  1. Explain to your employees that there is a new expectation regarding how they use LinkedIn and Outlook. They will need to review how skilled they are with Microsoft’s productivity suite (Office) and potentially Microsoft Dynamics, as well as LinkedIn.
  1. Determine employee expectations and KPIs and weave these into their job descriptions, reviews, and assessments.
  1. Make sure you assess employees’ LinkedIn profiles, skills, and activities.
  1. View and discern leadership, marketing, sales and recruiting profiles with a particularly keen eye and work to ensure that they are up to “code” quickly.
  1. Begin to determine how your company looks via your LinkedIn Company Page and what you will post to create a more active presence moving forward.
  1. Encourage your employees to connect with the right people and expand their networks, so you and your organization gain more visibility and relevance in a greater number of networks.
  1. Don’t assume your marketing department can manage this alone. Moving forward, your LinkedIn profile, network and activity will provide a highly transparent business advantage or a glaring example of dating your business. LinkedIn will be a business tool that needs a strategy and ongoing assessment.
  1. Determine premium memberships for key members of your organization.
  1. Review your current customer relationship management platform. Is your team really using it? If you don’t have one, consider Microsoft Dynamics.

LinkedIn is not a sprint; it’s a marathon that only the most committed and disciplined will win. Begin to master it now and you will be well positioned for the dawning of a new LinkedIn experience, viewed through the lens of Microsoft.

22 Jun 17:20

Three Ways to Find Your Marketing Creativity Again

by Jeff Weinberger

It would be hard to find a marketer who would not agree that marketing has become much less creative and much more process-focused. We tend to idealize the 1960s world, stereotyped by the television show Mad Men, where the creative team ruled the business and the great idea was the best product marketers had to offer their client or employer. At the same time, we lament the rise of technology, complaining that marketing and sales automation has forced us into a never-ending loop of justifying our value based on whatever numbers our client or bosses choose to watch.

What Happened to Marketing Creativity?

It’s easy to blame the shift to more process-focused marketing on the rise of marketing technology and the associated capabilities of measurement. But it’s also true that we have used technology as a crutch, a substitute for our own creativity, in order to get things done faster, or, at times, with less hard work.

Don’t get me wrong: Automation and measurement are important to a functioning marketing team. Without it, you can’t scale and you just don’t know what’s working and what’s not. You need automation to deliver just the right message to just the right person at just the right time and to know whether you succeeded and whether the person took the action for which you were hoping. As marketing gets more and more personal, the need for technology to handle more tasks at a higher level of functionality will only increase.

Is marketing creativity getting lost in automation? I don’t think so.

Creativity, though, marketing creativity is the role―and the greatest contribution―of humans in marketing (and beyond). You can’t delegate that to an automation system. I think it’s time for us, as marketers, to remember it is still human creativity that drives our work; our automation systems cannot be the source of our creativity but rather the tools we use to automate and scale that creativity.

Is your marketing really as creative as it could be? Here’s an example of using technology as a substitute for marketing creativity. See if this scenario sounds familiar:

Your digital marketing team is about to launch another email campaign (the last one worked pretty well, right?). They decide on the new target audience. They then look at the last campaign in your marketing automation system and copy it. They edit the content to more closely match the new idea. They swap out the calls-to-action with new ones (which look surprisingly similar to the old ones―with apologies to Pete Townshend). They check it over and hit send.

This is how the vast majority of marketing is being done today. Email campaigns are being copied. Ads are being tweaked. Even paid search parameters don’t really change much. It’s comfortable. It’s easy to understand. It’s low-risk―both from an investment perspective and in how you have to explain the lower results (it was just like the last one―we thought it would work!). We accept incremental change and incremental results because we can understand it. And because our marketing automation systems, which were designed to automate tasks, are being used as a substitute for creativity.

Nobody ever made a difference in any market by doing something just like what they had done before. You can insert the Apple branding story of your choice here because the ways they changed thinking and changed consumer preferences is exactly the point (My personal favorite story about how ads changed minds and the market is the “Reach Out and Touch Someone” campaign.).

How do we put the marketing creativity back into marketing? It’s not easy, but it’s critical if you want to make a difference in your market, to your clients, and to your company.

Three Ideas for Putting Marketing Creativity into Your Marketing

Here are three ideas I use to get my creativity back into my marketing efforts:

1) Kairos

Morgan McLintic, managing director for the U.S. for Lewis Global Communications wrote an interesting piece for LinkedIn, titled Why You Aren’t Creative Anymore. He discusses the ancient Greek culture’s two different expressions for time:

Chronos, he explains, is the concept we understand as the ticking of the clock as time passes. It’s the way time gets measured and how time passes. It’s how we synchronize (notice the root word, chronos) to get a common understanding of when things happen.

Kairos, on the other hand, is a qualitative passage of time, similar to Csiksgentmihalyi’s concept of flow. It’s the place where we take the time to focus and create.

McLintic argues that the endless distractions and demands prevent us from creating the space for creativity. We are not just endlessly busy; we are distracted. We might be with our families, but we are thinking about work. We might be meeting with a colleague but really worried about the meeting with our CEO tomorrow. Focus―a key element of flow―is hard to come by. Plus, we live in a culture that values busyness. We are always under pressure to appear busy, even if we are not. That ends up creating more stress as we force busy-work on ourselves to meet the expectation we think our surroundings―especially our work environments―force upon us.

Getting that space is hard, probably harder than it’s ever been. But it works. Here’s how I saw that happen recently.

I was leading a messaging project for my company. We needed to not just revise our messaging but simplify it and communicate it in a clear, simple, concise way that anyone―in our market or elsewhere―could understand. Even if you do every day, you know this is no easy task. I took the usual steps, interviewing lots of people, consolidating feedback, looking for common threads and so on. When I looked at my output, I had four PowerPoint slides with messaging statements and explanations― anything but simple.

I threw it out. I found a quiet place and put on the music that, for me, tends to inspire but not distract me (Mozart’s Symphonies No. 40 and 41). I thought. I recalled everything every customer and prospect had said. I wondered why they bought from us. More importantly, I wondered what they were trying to achieve when they bought from us. As I sat there, the image came into my head of what must be in their heads. Then the word showed up that described it. Then I used the word in just the right sentence. And that was it. I had my answer.

Now, I stop just like that for every campaign I launch. I encourage my team to do the same. The result is I am starting my work with creativity―the critical element of marketing success. I’m not letting my marketing automation system be my crutch for marketing creativity; I’m doing the creative work and letting the marketing automation system do its job of automating what I created.

2) Finding Our Inner 4-year-old

Sir Ken Robinson discusses how our schools kill creativity. It’s worth the nearly 20 minutes to watch.

He tells this story (slightly edited for readability):

When my son, James, was four in England―actually, he was four everywhere, to be honest. If we’re being strict about it, wherever he went, he was four that year. He was in the Nativity play. Do you remember the story? No, it was big, it was a big story. Mel Gibson did the sequel; you may have seen it: “Nativity II.”

But James got the part of Joseph, which we were thrilled about. We considered this to be one of the lead parts. We had the place crammed full of agents in T-shirts: “James Robinson IS Joseph!” He didn’t have to speak, but you know the bit where the three kings come in? They come in bearing gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. This really happened. We were sitting there, and I think they just went out of sequence, because we talked to the little boy afterward and we said, “You OK with that?” And he said, “Yeah, why? Was that wrong?” They just switched. The three boys came in, four-year-olds with tea towels on their heads, and they put these boxes down, and the first boy said, “I bring you gold.” And the second boy said, “I bring you myrrh.” And the third boy said, “Frank sent this.”

Kids will take a chance. If they don’t know, they’ll have a go. They’re not frightened of being wrong. I don’t mean to say that being wrong is the same thing as being creative. What we do know is, if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original―if you’re not prepared to be wrong. And by the time they get to be adults, most kids have lost that capacity. They have become frightened of being wrong. And we run our companies like this. We stigmatize mistakes. And we’re now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make. And the result is that we are educating people out of their creative capacities.

Trust me, it’s much funnier when he says it. But he’s right. He tells the story―now pretty much folklore in the education business: when you ask a class of kindergartners who is an artist, pretty much everyone raises their hand. When you ask a class of sixth-graders the same question, only one or two raise their hands.

You probably can’t go to work and act like a four-year-old. But you can take the time and focus to let yourself play with your thoughts and ideas like you did when you were four, then take what you come up with, and put it into grown-up terms your colleagues will understand.

I can pretty much guarantee you show more marketing creativity than anyone―including you―ever expected.

3) Avoid Groupthink

This should be pretty obvious to anyone who’s ever tried to make a decision in a meeting. You know the pattern all-too-well: Everyone speaks, carefully avoiding stating an opinion, until the boss chimes in, then everyone suddenly agrees with the boss, showing how what they already said supports their agreement. This is not just a business phenomenon.

Brainstorming sessions are a really good way to avoid this. But most brainstorming sessions fall prey to the exact same malady. We are afraid to offer ideas that might seem too far away from the norm―or worse, too stupid. We want to be seen as part of the team, and we want to be seen as intelligent.

One technique I have seen used is to let everyone do their brainstorming alone, while in a group. In this approach, you might hand everyone slips of paper or post-it notes. Ask everyone to write down everything they can think of, one idea per slip or post-it. When everyone is done, collect the notes so they are not associated with any individual. Let the group get together and look at the ideas, then start sorting them out and prioritizing.

Groupthink is a very dangerous and insidious bias that can kill any attempt to offer anything creative before it is even stated. You probably know this intuitively. Avoiding the fear of groupthink will let you find a way to offer your marketing creativity and maybe make a big difference in your next project.

These three suggestions are far from the only ways to reestablish marketing creativity. I’m pretty sure you have a few other ideas (please offer them in the comments below!).

Reestablishing the role of creativity is critical to the success of your marketing efforts and to the success of your organization as a whole. It’s time to stop letting automation drive all our thinking and let it do its job―automating the creativity humans bring to the work.

22 Jun 17:19

5 In-App Campaigns That Really Work

by Sophie Walsh

It’s one thing to be able to send targeted, personalized and triggered in-app messages and campaigns. But it’s quite another to figure out exactly WHAT campaigns are going to make a real difference to your mobile business.

Fortunately, we’re here to help. Here’s five in-app campaigns that can really deliver value and ROI.


1) Promote Feature Discovery

You’ve probably gone to a great deal of effort to design and develop your mobile app, and potentially spent a large sum of money on acquiring users for it. Now you need to ensure that those users actually use the app, and most importantly use ALL of the app. Users who don’t discover the full functionality of your product are far more likely to churn. And that’s a waste.

You can begin by highlighting some of the key features to the user that they have yet to discover or use.

Simply identify the group of users who have not yet used a particular feature (personalized alerts in the example below) and let them know about it via in-app messages. It’s that easy – but makes a huge difference.

2) Localize onboarding by engaging users with regional in-app messages.

If your app has an international audience, then blanket mobile marketing campaigns won’t work – or at least they won’t work particularly efficiently.

In an ideal world, you’ll send the right message to the right user and in the right language. But that takes time and means an awful lot of individual campaigns. The alternative is simple enough: create content in each relevant language, and then let your mobile marketing engine handle sending each individual user the relevant message based on the language setting on the phone itself. Simple.

The result is a significant improvement in engagement rates – from 20% upwards to 100%.

3) Interactive onboarding

Any time a user opens the app, they are asking the same questions – most obviously: what can this app do and how do I use it? Answering those questions with an intuitive onboarding process can do wonders for retention numbers.

This campaign couldn’t be simpler. It consists of a number of initial screens delivered as in-app messages, that do exactly the job described above. Most importantly, because they are delivered ‘outside’ the core app, they can be edited, optimized, personalized and tested on-the-fly. That makes all your efforts significantly more effective and does wonders for retention figures.

Remember, onboarding doesn’t end after install, and you should continue this multi-stage onboarding with further in-app messages in the first couple of weeks after install to users who haven’t yet been fully ‘activated’.

4) Convert non-purchasers

In-app campaigns are a great way to migrate users from the state of ‘browser’ to the state of ‘purchaser’. Getting users to that first purchase is of course vital – too vital to simply sit back and wait. A smart in-app campaign combines an understanding of the users behavior to that point, appropriate incentives, and content that is tested and known to be effective.

Again, by getting these campaigns out of the core app experience, it becomes possible to move each user to purchase as an individual, rather than hoping the same approach will work for all (it won’t). The result is a significant increase in the percentage of users spending real money in-app – a number that is about as important as it gets in the mobile business.


5) Drive Improved App Store Rating

Every business with a mobile app aims for great app store ratings. Higher ratings mean improved app store chart positions and increased ‘click through’ when users browse to your app download page.

Given that’s the case, it’s surprising how many mobile businesses send any and all of their users to the app store to provide a rating. As an alternative, try this approach: first send an in-app message asking users if they are enjoying the app experience.

If they are, then send them right on to the app store to rate the app! And if they’re not, you can find out exactly what the problem is – useful in its own way. Campaigns like this have the ability to increase app store ratings by significant amounts, so this is one in-app message you should certainly look to implement.

Just remember – your users won’t recommend your app if they don’t like it – so make sure that you perfect the ‘first-time user experience’ for day 1!

22 Jun 17:18

4 Secrets to Emailing Important, Powerful People and Actually Hearing Back

by (Aja Frost)


If you think about it, asking a random professional for advice or help should never work.

After all, you want them to give up precious time in their day to share their hard-earned wisdom and experience with a stranger -- and a salesperson, no less.

So, why do people ever say yes to coffee dates or phone calls with reps? It’s possible the person asking got lucky and stumbled upon someone who’s incredibly altruistic. But more often than not, they reached out in the right way.

Want to make your own chances of success with snagging time on an important person’s calendar way higher? Follow these four best practices.

1) Don’t ask to “pick their brain.”

I’ve seen people involuntarily cringe after getting requests to “pick their brain.” This phrase conjures up images of zombies, vultures, and other brain-devouring creatures -- probably not the best effect when you’re asking for a favor. Plus, reps already have a reputation for being self-interested and sneaky.

This phrase is also problematic because it’s about you and how you’d benefit from a meeting. That violates the number one rule of effective networking, not to mention effective selling: Make it about the other person.

Fortunately, there are several easy swaps for “pick your brain” that put the focus squarely on the person you’re attempting to book. Try one of these phrases instead:

  • "Would you open to sharing your expertise on [topic]?"
  • "Congrats on [achievement]! I’d be grateful for the chance to learn more."
  • "Would you be willing to give me some insight into [topic]?"

2) Be specific about what you’re hoping to learn.

If you’re reaching out to someone who could be the decision maker for a deal, they’re pretty influential -- meaning they probably already have a million things on their to-do list. Do they have the mental energy to mull over open-ended questions like “How can I be more successful?” or “What do you think I should do?” Not a chance.

Specific, finite questions, on the other hand, feel much more doable. And if the person you’re asking immediately knows the answer, they’ll probably be eager for a chance to show off their expertise. (Hey, it’s human nature.)

Here are a few before-and-afters to give you an idea:

Before: "How should I gauge my progress?"

After: "Besides quota, which two or three metrics tell you whether a first-year rep is improving?"

Before: "What’s the tech landscape like in Austin?"

After: "Have you found the SMBs in Texas to be more or less willing to invest in HR software than in Seattle?"

Not sure whether you’re being too vague? Your question passes the specificity test if the person could conceivably answer in five sentences or less.

3) Explain why you’re asking.

You might think it’s obvious why you’re asking this specific person for guidance: They hold an important position in your industry, possess years of experience in the field, have a reputation as thought leader, etc.

But even if the reason you’ve chosen them is clear to you, laying it out in your message has a couple desirable effects. First, it tells the person you’re not just emailing random people -- you have a specific reason for reaching out to them in particular. (If the meeting goes well, that’s when you can discuss your product.)

Explaining your choice also makes them feel good. Who doesn’t love being called an expert? Finally, since complimenting someone can make them more generous, a couple kind words will increase your odds of success.

I usually add my flattering explanation to the beginning of the message, where the influencer is more likely to read and react to it. Here are some sample lines:

  • "I’ve been following your career for years, ever since you accomplished X … "
  • "My colleagues and I frequently cite you as our role model for Y… "
  • "Your ability to do Z is extremely impressive ... "
  • "After [watching you talk, reading your book, subscribing to your blog, hearing you on a podcast], I was inspired … "

4) Ask for a short meeting.

Even if you’re hoping for a lot of face (or ear-) time, always ask for a short meeting. It’s easier to get a stranger to commit to 20 minutes -- and then turn that 20-minute meeting into a 45-minute one because you’re having a great conversation -- than ask for a 45-minute meeting up front.

In fact, 20 minutes is the sweet spot. If you ask for 15, you’ll seem naive or disingenuous, since tackling anything of value in that time span is nearly impossible. On the other hand, 20 minutes isn’t  too long -- and if you create some rapport and ask thoughtful questions, your short meeting will typically go longer.

Acknowledging the person’s jam-packed schedule is also a good move, as it shows respect.

Putting it all together, here’s what your ask might sound like: “You’ve probably got a ton going on -- would you be open to spending 20 minutes with me on Tuesday or Thursday next week?”

Here’s a slightly more formal approach in case that’s more appropriate: “I’m sure you’ve got a full schedule -- would you be willing to spend 20 minutes talking on Friday 6/14 or Tuesday 6/18?”

Adopting these four best practices will help you get more positive responses to meeting requests immediately. If you want to really boost your game, check out our ultimate guide to writing networking emails people can’t ignore.

HubSpot CRM

22 Jun 17:17

14 Phrases That'll Instantly Sabotage Your Negotiation

by (Aja Frost)


Back in March 2014, the Red Sox screwed up in a big way. They completely bungled negotiations with their star pitcher, Jon Lester, by giving him an insultingly low initial offer -- and as a result, Lester went to the Chicago Cubs.This incident was (and still is) devastating to Sox fans, but it’s also a good reminder of how challenging negotiations are. If you say the wrong thing, the deal can be dead in the water.

Don’t lose your buyer the way the Sox lost Lester. Here are the 14 things you should never say in a negotiation.

1) “I’ll be honest.”

Some reps think saying, “I’ll be honest,” “I’ll be straight with you,” or “I’ll be blunt” makes it seem like they’re passing along valuable or confidential information. But these phrases usually backfire; after all, they imply you haven’t been honest up to this point.

What to say instead: Rather than giving your statement a long wind-up, just come out and say it. For example:

Before: “I’ll be honest, we probably won’t be able to deliver the product in less than a month.”

After: “We probably won’t be able to deliver the product in less than a month.”

2) “You won’t find a better product out there.”

It’s pretty hard to take this claim seriously; nonetheless, many sales reps still assure their buyers their product is “by far the best” or ‘the most superior offering on the market.” Don’t say this unless you want to lose credibility.

What to say instead: Emphasize your product’s unique strengths or features. Maybe yours is the only one with unlimited bandwidth -- instead of saying, “Our product beats all of the competition,” say, “We don’t cap your usage, so you can upload as much content as you want.”  

3) “I’ll give you X, but only if you sign by [date].”

“The rationale behind this kind of ultimatum is that its inherent time-sensitivity will overcome the prospect’s objection and compel a purchase,” explains HubSpot sales writer Leslie Ye. “The problem is that it puts an unnecessary burden on the buyer -- buy now or lose your opportunity to buy under these conditions, forever. [And] you can’t force a buyer onto your timeline.”

What to say instead:  “What’s stopping you from pulling the trigger today/this week/this month?”

Ye recommends using this question to surface the buyer’s remaining objectives -- a far better tactic if you want to reach the finish line.

4) “Trust me.”

While you might toss out a “trust me” to reassure the buyer, it can be received as fake and manipulative. Plus, trust isn’t something you can simply request: You have earn it. As they say, if you have to ask, the answer is a “no.”

What to say instead: “I’m confident that … ”

For instance, “I know a single day of training doesn’t sound like a lot, but I’m confident we can cover everything we need to in that time.”

5) “I need this deal by X to hit my quota/win a contest.”

It might seem reasonable to share your timeline with the prospect, so they’ll be motivated to move faster and help you out. Right?  

If only. Buyers aren’t concerned with your agenda, they’re concerned with their own -- which means you should be prioritizing their agenda over yours, too. Mentioning your quota or contest makes you seem self-serving (not to mention desperate).

What to say instead: “To hit [buyer’s milestone] by [date], we’ll need to wrap everything up by [date].”

Showing the buyer how the timeline impacts their goals is a much more effective path toward closing quickly. For example, if they need the product on September 1st and it’ll take a month to deliver, wrapping up negotiations by the end of July is in their best interest.

6) “No.”

When you give the buyer a hard and fast no, it’s pretty hard to get the conversation back on track. That’s not to say you have to compromise every single time they make a request, but you can soften the no by using positive language.

What to say instead: “While I certainly understand, I’m afraid that’s not possible.”

Alternatively, if you are willing to make concessions, try, “We can’t necessarily do X, but we can do Y and Z, which will get us a lot closer to where we want to be."

7) “I’d [like, need to get, have to have] … ”

Whenever a rep is talking about their own needs and desires, it’s a problem. The focus must always be on the buyer -- yes, even during the negotiation. So although you should be well aware of your objectives and where you’re willing to compromise, your language should always be tailored to the buyer’s needs and desires.

What to say instead: Explain how the terms you’re proposing benefit the buyer.

For instance, you might say, “To give you the customer support you’re looking for, we’ll be in the 12 to 15 seat range.”

8) “That’s not fair.”

A conference room is not a courtroom:  Appealing to your prospect’s sense of justice will only make you look like you don’t understand how business works. Ideally, you’ll come up with an agreement that makes both you and the buyer happy -- but you should never say “that’s not fair” when they propose something you consider outrageous.

What to say instead: To show you’re listening, clarify what they’re asking for. Then, identify their motivations for the request. You can use this information to float a counter-idea.

Here’s how that might look:

You: “You’d like the $500K package with 240 day payment, correct?”

Buyer: “Yes.”

You: “Tell me about how those payment terms will affect your cash flow.”

Buyer: “Well, we’re currently looking for ways to decrease our annual payables outlay.”

You: “Got it. What if we instead did … ”

9) “You want a high-quality product, right?”

Rhetorical questions like, “You care about quality, right?” or “You want the best bang for your buck, don’t you?” will make most buyers bristle. You want to focus on the value of your product, but this method of reinforcing benefits is way too aggressive.

What to say instead: Lead the other person to their own conclusion by asking a price or quality-focused question. Let’s say you provide business video software. You’d ask the buyer, “Are you interested in having an account manager? That option is only available with the package we’ve been discussing, but the training and support can help you get the most out of the platform.”

10) “I don’t usually do this, but … ”

If you’re selling to a family member or life-long friend, then sure, giving them a better-than-average deal wouldn’t be too strange. However, when you’re talking to a normal buyer, this line comes across as a seedy tactic to induce gratitude. Not good.

What to say instead: If the deal is unusual in some way, you can explain why, but be straightforward and direct. To give you an idea, you could say, “Normally, our pilot programs only last 30 days, but we can extend it to 60 days since you’re implementing the software within two business units.”

11) “I enjoy working with people like you who appreciate value.”

There are a couple problems inherent with this sentence. First, who doesn’t like working with people who appreciate value? Second, it’s far too reminiscent of the stereotypical used car salesman -- not exactly the association you want buyers to make.

What to say instead: Pay the buyer a genuine compliment. If they make an insightful comment, tell them, “That’s an excellent point.” If you’re impressed by their analysis, say, “That’s a smart way of looking at it.” By sticking to the truth, you’ll make them feel good without sounding inauthentic.

12) “I’ll send over the contract right now for you to review and sign.”

Technically, there’s nothing wrong with asking the buyer to sign a contract when the negotiation is complete. But those are pretty cold terms -- “contract” and “sign” scream sleazy salesperson, not invested business partner.

What to say instead:  “I’ll send over the [agreement/proposal] so you can review and okay it.”

Simply subbing in “agreement” (or “proposal”) and “okay” has a big impact on how friendly and collaborative this phrase feels.

With these phrases cut from your negotiation vocabulary, your chances of closing improve dramatically.

13) “This shouldn't take too long.”

You're trying to put the buyer at ease and make the negotiation process feel quick and easy, so you use this line or promise to get them on their way ASAP.

Yet speed is actually your enemy in negotiations. When the other party feels like they're on a deadline, they tend to act rashly and be more stubborn. If you reassure them that you can take as much time as necessary to answer their questions and develop the best possible agreement, their willingness to compromise will shoot up.

What to say instead: "Do you have any obligations I should know about for time purposes? I'm happy to spend as long as you need getting this proposal to a point we're both happy with."

14) “How low do I need to go to make this happen?”

While you might be trying to identify your buyer's ideal price and/or figure out how aggressively you'll need to discount, this question makes you seem desperate. Your prospect will conclude you'll bend over backward to get the sale -- and they'll use this knowledge to their advantage.

And thanks to the anchoring effect (or "the common human tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered"), once they've named their price, any price you name above that will sound unreasonable.

What to say instead: "Our price is X. [Silence.]"

Naming the first amount gives you the power to set pricing expectations. In addition, your prospect probably already has a good sense of what your product costs -- if your company doesn't have a pricing page, they can usually find third-party reviews and comparisons. You also should have already qualified them for budget. Since you know they can afford their solution, don't be afraid to give them a number. Then pause. If they want to negotiate it down or request other concessions, they will.


What would you never say in a negotiation? Let us know in the comments.

HubSpot CRM templates

22 Jun 17:17

5 Lessons Learned from a SaaS Home Run

by Sonia Simone

laura roeder - a customer-first approach to software

Laura Roeder is known for putting together agile companies that put the customer first — including her current hit, Edgar, a SaaS (software as a service) product that hit a million dollars in revenue in its first year in business.

She excels at “keeping it simple” — maybe because she ran ultra-successful online education companies for five years. She turned around and put those lessons into a software business — and she’s crushing it.

Laura leapt out on her own as a freelancer at 22, without giving it a lot of thought. As she laughingly put it in her Unemployable interview with Brian Clark, it was:

“… probably the worst way to do it.”

You can find that interview here: From Freelance Designer to SaaS Superstar

She hadn’t done any prep, she hadn’t lined up any clients … she didn’t even know what a proposal was.

Lesson #1: You learn by doing

While I don’t particularly recommend that approach for most of us, it underlies a key principle of starting a business:

You learn the real lessons by doing.

(If you’re looking for a lower-risk way to learn those lessons, the “side hustle” — a part-time business you can run in your spare time — is a fantastic middle road.)

Educating yourself is important — and you can find lots of techniques and strategies here on Copyblogger and our sister site, Digital Commerce Institute.

But education is the initial, back-of-the-envelope sketch. It’s when you actually start building a project, product, and business that you really make that learning come to life.

And you can start small — with experimental products and services that don’t require you to “bet the farm.”

Speaking of which, that leads us to one of the most common misperceptions about people who launch businesses …

Is it true that entrepreneurs are extreme risk-takers?

Laura definitely has a bold, optimistic personality — it’s what led her to take that leap at 22.

But there’s a big difference between “bold” and “foolhardy.”

Smart digital entrepreneurs launch controlled, low-risk offerings, sometimes called the minimum viable product model, until they find the perfect mix of product and market.

Laura’s software business, Edgar, grew out of the needs of her online education company. And unlike a lot of software development (raise millions of dollars, spend a year writing code, then see if you can get some buyers), she was able to deploy Edgar quickly to find out if it would interest her market.

Her development costs were light enough that the tool was worth developing even if they only ever used it in-house. But instead, Edgar turned out to be a home run.

Lesson #2: Reduce risk through experimentation

One of the things that makes business interesting is the need to constantly pay attention to shifting landscapes and patterns. And that allows you to notice what’s working — even if it’s subtle — and to figure out how to do more of it.

It also helps you notice what isn’t working, so you can correct the issue.

It sounds simple, and sometimes it is, but of course that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. But this type of careful observation is the best business teacher around.

Lesson #3: Look for the bigger picture

“At our company … one of the things we [ask employees] is, ‘Are you killing it?'” – Laura Roeder, from her interview on Hack the Entrepreneur

Laura values ownership in her company, giving each team member the information they need to make smart decisions without a lot of micromanagement.

How do they decide which decisions are smart? The ones that contribute to growth and excellent user experience — recognizing that success comes from the combined efforts of multiple teams and roles.

Rather than focus on one or two “KPIs” (key performance indicators) for each position, Laura recognizes that selling online is a matter of creating smart customer paths — and that requires a more holistic way of looking at teams and how they work together.

Her question to employees — Are you killing it? — makes room for a wider view of how the business is working.

Lesson #4: Focus on what you’re excellent at

Most founders, particularly in the early days, think of themselves as “chief cook and bottle washer.” In other words, they try to fill every single role in the company.

Laura, on the other hand, has always been strongly aware of her weak spots … which has allowed her to leverage her strengths.

As she said in her Hack the Entrepreneur interview:

“Something that I’m especially bad at is customer service.”

But rather than allowing that to create an expensive blind spot that “customer service isn’t that important,” it led her to value her support team that much more.

In fact, Laura wrote a fascinating article with that point of view here: Stop Insulting Your Team by Making Everyone Do Customer Service.

A key aspect of entrepreneurial creativity is figuring out how you’re going to work with the gaps of your own weaknesses — whether that’s by hiring someone, partnering, or some other creative solution.

Lesson #5: Think like a marketer

Because of Laura’s background, she thinks like a marketer — which gives her a monster advantage as a business owner.

She’s open to new ideas, but she doesn’t fall in love with them — until she sees how they can serve the needs of her audience and expand out into a wider market.

That lets her start planning a new product, project, or company with the right question:

What audience problem is this going to solve? How will this delight the audience I’ve pulled together?

This customer-first thinking is the cornerstone for most successful business, and it’s an antidote to what I call “Inventor’s Syndrome” — grinding away to push an interesting technical idea that buyers just don’t share your enthusiasm for.

Her million-dollar business Edgar came out of an education product called Social Brilliant, which taught Laura’s methodology for social media.

Edgar was a natural evolution that came at the intersection of what Social Brilliant was doing well (advice on social media strategy) and the audience’s needs (better, simpler tools to implement the techniques).

Keeping her eyes open and her attention focused, she realized the need — then discovered from her Ruby-on-Rails programmer fiancé that creating an automation tool was totally doable.

(His assertion that “I can do that in a week” did turn out to be a bit overoptimistic. Welcome to software development!)

Hear more about Laura’s journey to SaaS founder

We’re excited that Laura will be joining us this October at our live Digital Commerce Summit in Denver, Colorado on October 13-14.

Laura’s going to spill the beans about her journey, starting as that cocky 22-year-old freelancer, becoming a high-profile information entrepreneur, and now heading a hot SaaS that hit the million-dollar revenue mark its first year in business.

Her talk is called Leveling Up: How I Went From Infoproducts to SaaS, and will take you behind the scenes to see exactly how a non-technical marketing mind used the skills she developed in online courses to quickly become a major player in a whole new industry.

Join us for a focused, single-track curriculum that will teach you how to level up to the next phase of your business — and will load you up with action steps that you can start moving on before you even get on the plane home.

Claim your spot and get the best price on tickets here.

The post 5 Lessons Learned from a SaaS Home Run appeared first on Copyblogger.

22 Jun 17:17

US homes sell at strongest pace since 2007

by CB Staff

WASHINGTON – Americans snapped up houses in May almost as soon as properties were listed, fueling the strongest sales rate in nearly a decade.

Sales of existing homes rose 1.8 per cent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.53 million, the highest level since February 2007, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday.

People remain intent on buying homes, despite the low inventory of properties on the market that has caused prices to rise. The elevated demand likely stems from low mortgage rates and a relatively healthy jobs picture with unemployment at 4.7 per cent, even with a recent slowdown in hiring.

“May’s existing home sales numbers suggest that healthy demand continues to support a recovering housing market, but that inventory woes are preventing a full recovery to pre-recession levels,” said Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at online real estate firm Trulia.

Homes sold in May after just 32 days on the market, the fastest pace ever measured by the Realtors since they began tracking the figure in 2011. Homes stayed on the market on average for 40 days a year ago.

Sales rose in the Northeast, South and West last month but fell in the Midwest where real estate is generally considered more affordable.

The median home sales price was $239,700 in April, a 4.7 per cent increase over the past 12 months.

The sales gains have failed to convince more current homeowners to list their properties. Many are still recovering equity lost during the crash. For some of them, a sale would fail to generate enough of a profit to cover the expense of buying a new home. The number of listings has fallen 5.7 per cent from a year ago, meaning homebuyers have fewer and fewer options.

Home ownership rates have yet to improve despite the sales growth since the housing bust triggered a recession in late 2007. The national rate is close to a 48-year low of 63.5 per cent.

But Americans still want to own homes if they can afford it, according to a separate report released Wednesday by the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies. The pressures of student debt, rising rents and the leftover wreckage from the housing bust have restrained people’s ability to buy, even though the dream remains alive.

Sales have been strong enough so far this year that the Realtors expect total sales to rise 3 per cent from 2015, revising an initial forecast of nearly flat sales in 2016.

First-time buyers accounted for 30 per cent of sales last month, well below the historic average of 40 per cent.

Builders have increased construction, yet by focusing on higher-end properties they’ve done little to relieve the supply pressures. Single-family house starts have climbed 14.5 per cent this year, according to the Commerce Department.

Low mortgage rates have helped boost demand. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dipped to 3.54 per cent last week from 4 per cent a year ago.

The post US homes sell at strongest pace since 2007 appeared first on Canadian Business - Your Source For Business News.

22 Jun 17:16

A Sales Operations Process that Work-Work-Work-Work-Works

by Leah Bell

As sales organizations grow beyond the O.G. founding team, and begin to expand to cover additional industries, territories or markets, nailing down a sales operations process that works is as crucial as snagging those front row Rihanna tickets this summer.

And the sales operations leader is center stage when it comes to modern sales teams. (Don’t act like you forgot…)

They’re responsible for creating and socializing the sales process that drives revenue for the business. They’re responsible for the rhythm and cadence of the entire team’s process. And ultimately, a team with a solid sales operations process crushes numbers, while teams that just wing it barely hit quota.

That’s a lot of weight on just one role, but sales operations leaders are the masters of the process, ensuring team-wide success and growth. They’re responsible for these three main process territories:

1. Development
2. Adoption
3. Training & Compliance

Process Development

Even with the world’s best sales development team, and the world’s best closers, a sales team without a productive and efficient sales operations process will eventually fail. Management won’t believe pipeline projections, Marketing won’t want to invest any time tossing leads over the wall to a disorganized team, and the organization will ultimately fall flat.

But fortunately, sales operations leaders are ready to tackle the task with these 3 core pillars of the sales development process:

1. Predictability: Without predictability (and consistency) within sales activities, it’s nearly impossible to measure both the individual and team-wide contributions to the organization’s overall success.

How do you establish predictability? Simple: with data and consistency.

Sales operations leaders create systems for collecting prospect data and establishing consistent activities and everyday processes to measure sales efficiency.

2. Classification: Once sales operations collects data, trends across that data begin to appear. The stages of the sales operations process are then classified to increase quality of data and remove subjectivity and emotion from the results.

Which sales process components benefit from classification? Both internal factors (like buyer stages in the funnel) and typical factors (like industry, role and seniority).

3. Optimization: The most successful sales operations leaders are continuously testing and optimizing processes, which is made much easier by a predictable and easily classifiable sales process. But optimization constantly challenges previously assumed notions with data.

How do we really know that the buyer is ready to buy after their first consultation? How often do “Verbal Commitments” actually close? With a well-tested and optimized sales operations process, these questions become easier to answer.

Process Adoption

Just like any product, process, or tool, no matter how much effort is put into development, if a sales operations process goes unused — it’s simply waste of time.

But one way that effective sales operations leaders foster process adoption within their teams is by involving sales team members more closely throughout the process creation and execution. Since they’re responsible for bringing every team member, from SDR to AE to VP, into the fold when implementing and evaluating a sales process, it’s the perfect platform for them to encourage adoption from the beginning.

For example, when selecting a sales development tool, they’ll immediately implement SDR feedback, instilling ownership in the reps from the very start. That way, no one will say they had a tool pushed onto them if they’re part of the intial selection and adoption process.

Process Training & Compliance

Sales operations process training more than showing people how to login and use their sales development tools — it’s about preparing them to speak confidently about the product, while expertly identifying and articulating customer pain.

To create these product experts, Sales Operations crafts training sessions to educate reps about every aspect of the products and customers. They educate sales teams about the market as a whole to give them a better understanding of the buyer and the context of their pains. Nothing is more sincere than a rep who truly understands the value of what they’re selling — and can actually back it up with knowledge about the market and how much value it adds.

But training isn’t the only aspect — staying on top of compliance is a serious responsibility here, too. And while it’s arguably the least fun part of the job, it’s a necessary one nonetheless. If reps are using tools incorrectly, don’t understand the market well enough, or are mis-classifying buyer and deal stages within the funnel — it doesn’t matter how optimized your process is — it just won’t work.

So you see, the sales operations process is the glue that holds the sales team together.

From prospecting, to sales development, closing, leadership and finance, it’s safe to say that sales operations leaders are the true masters of the sales universe in the modern age. And more importantly, masters of the sales operations process.

Want a more comprehensive look at our Sales Operations Process? Start today!

Download our free eBook and optimize your sales operations efforts to start crushing your sales development goals today.

The post A Sales Operations Process that Work-Work-Work-Work-Works appeared first on SalesLoft.

22 Jun 17:16

5 Digital Must-Dos to Align B2B Sales & Marketing for Better Business in 2016 [Infographic]

by Michael Del Gigante

Digital marketing is both an art and a science. Marketing is an art, but the science behind its strategies determines conversions and closes. This is especially true in the B2B sector, where the target is high-level professionals who have their company’s bottom line on the line. While the rise of digital has opened many opportunities to connect with the B2B market, the number of digital options can make it hard to determine which tactics are the most promising. But digital can’t afford to be ignored—not with 98% of B2B companies increasing their digital marketing budgets last year, with that number expected to be matched in 2016. To guide B2B sales and marketing professionals toward the most important digital tactics, MDG Advertising created a new infographic, B2B Marketing 2016: 5 Digital Must-Dos.

The infographic was compiled from dozens of industry research reports and expert insights, which were condensed into five key digital B2B marketing tips. So which five digital tactics are worthy of attention in 2016?

1. Increase the quality of content, rather than the quantity.

Content is considered the most exciting digital opportunity in B2B marketing today. As a result, 51% of B2B marketers plan to increase their content marketing budgets for 2016. But value trumps volume, according to 72% who plan to focus on developing higher-quality and more engaging content in the coming year. Emphasizing quality over quantity in content creation makes it easier to turn digital traffic into higher revenue.

2. Land quality leads by following the customer journey.

Securing quality leads is the most important metric to B2B marketers, but also one of the greatest challenges. Still, 87% of B2B marketers believe the best way to improve the quality of leads is to understand the customer’s purchasing methods, which can be determined by charting the customer journey. Expect savvy B2B marketers to invest more in developing psychological maps of the customer’s path to purchase in 2016. Understanding the customer’s thought process and preferences is key to digital success.

3. Forecast the future.

Marketing analytics have yielded enormous benefits for years, which is why 55% of B2B organizations plan to increase their predictive analytics resources in 2016. B2B companies can use predictive analytics to understand how high-value customers engage and optimize their marketing, for maximum reach and locating new leads.

4. Make marketing happen automatically.

It’s difficult enough to capture quality leads, but then you need to nurture them throughout the customer journey. Marketing automation allows businesses to streamline the development and management of their digital campaigns. The ease and effectiveness of marketing automation has led 66% of B2B organizations to plan for larger investment in marketing automation in 2016.

5. Work with what’s working well.

Two B2B digital marketing tactics to consider in 2016 are SEM and webinars. Today, marketers rank SEM as the most effective paid digital marketing tactic, followed by webinars. These two tactics will become even more important as digitally-minded Millennials make up more of the B2B workplace since they’re more inclined to research online before interacting with sales reps. SEM fulfills Millennials’ search needs, while webinars respond to their quest for information, making these digital marketing tactics even more valuable in the coming years.

B2B Marketing 2016: 5 Digital Must-Dos [Infographic]
by MDG Advertising

22 Jun 17:15

How To Use Interview-Based Podcasting in Sales Prospecting

by Tom Martin

Podcasting Social Selling

Not only do podcasts offer numerous benefits over text- and video-based content—they are easy to create, convenient to consume, and they can expose new audiences to your brand— but by using an interview-based show format, your podcasts can also be fantastic social selling, networking and sales prospecting tools.

Why Do Interview Podcasts Work?

Think about it. People just love talking about themselves! Everyone knows that the best conversationalists are the people who say the least and ask the most. In the format of an interview podcast, that’s exactly what you’re doing. You’re saying very little and asking a lot of questions, which makes your guest the focus of the conversation.

By interviewing guests on your podcast, you have a built in opportunity to invite sales prospects, vendors, partners, and satisfied customers onto the show to have discussions about whatever your podcast covers. This allows you to shine a light on great vendors, strategic partners, and satisfied customers, creating a greater sense of attachment between those parties and your company.

How Can Podcasts Help You Prospect For Leads?

Interview-based podcasts are also great for new client sales prospecting. Nobody wants to try to call a prospect and say, “Hi, I’m Tom Martin, and I’d like to sell you something today.” But who among us would shy away from making this call?

“Hi, it’s Tom Martin. I have this great little podcast that I think you would be perfect for. Would you mind being a part of my show?”

That’s not a tough call to make. If the person doesn’t accept, you at least open a door that you can walk through at a later date with a more direct sales prospecting call. If the person does accept, you have the opportunity to build a relationship in a completely non threatening way. That’s the key to successful social selling — it’s not about making a sale today, it’s about starting a relationship that leads to a sale tomorrow or many tomorrows from now.

Even better, you can use your podcast as a platform to invite people you’d like to meet. In addition to sales prospects, this can include people with whom you want to network but who might never be a prospect for what you sell. These folks might be in companies that you don’t work with or organizations for which your product or service isn’t relevant, but they know people you would like to know and are excellent Social Agent candidates. And as any regular reader knows, I think Social Agents are the secret sauce of a successful social selling effort. By inviting these people into your podcast, you create an opportunity to have a really great first experience with them and create the opportunity for them to become social agents for your organization.

The Difference Between a Podcast Interview & a Sales Prospecting Call

Now instead of having to cold-call people to meet them, you get to spend 20–30 minutes with someone having a discussion that makes that person the hero. The key here is to make the prospect the highlight of the show. You want to entertain and inform your audience, but if you structure your questions correctly, you’ll actually be educating yourself in a way that could help you more effectively sell to the prospect.

Once a person has participated in your show, you have a perfect opportunity to do a follow-up call to say thank you for participating. You get to gush about how great the person was and tell say that you received awesome audience feedback. And now you have the beginnings of a relationship. You have contact information. You have the prospect’s email address. Most important, you have permission to use all of that as you nurture the relationship through email, phone, or social media.

The Single Biggest Reason to Podcast for Sales Prospecting

The networking and sales prospecting opportunities that podcasting afford you are the single most important reason everyone should consider adding audio and podcasting to their marketing toolkit. But remember—you can’t approach this strictly in the selfish networking mindset, or your effort will fail. You won’t develop an audience, which will make it difficult to convince prospects to come on the show—and that makes it hard to use podcasting as a prospecting tool. So keep in mind that core commitment, and produce a show that you’re proud to claim. If you do that, the prospecting and networking will take care of themselves.

Register For Our Free Social Selling Webinar

For more information on using podcasting as a sales prospecting tool and other social selling tips just like these, register for our FREE WEBINAR: The 7 Keys To Social Selling Success. We’re only holding 100 seats, so register now to start learning the secrets of social selling success in today’s self-educating buyer world.

Register Now for Webinar

22 Jun 17:15

How One Head of Sales Tackled Building a Sales Playbook

by (Trish Bertuzzi)

SNkevin.jpgKevin Dorsey is a fantastic sales leader. As Head of Sales for SnackNation, he leads a team of 12 Sales Development Reps and 30 Account Executives. SnackNation offers office delivery of healthy snacks that create happier and more productive teams.

In just one year, Kevin grew the teams from a handful of reps to over 40. Along the way, he decided that the best avenue for reinforcing and scaling critical sales competencies was to build a Sales Playbook.

And over the next 3.5 months, he did just that.

Lesson #1: He immersed himself in his SDRs' process

"I knew that if I wrote the Playbook from behind my desk exclusively, it probably wouldn't be very good."

Kevin got his hands dirty, getting in the seat with the SDRs and really seeing what that day-to-day felt and sounded like. He was looking to combine emergent best practices (identified by his team) with industry and thought leaders learnings.

 The playbook is broken into three sections:

  • What do we need to know about our customers to help them succeed?
  • What must every single SDR be able to do well?
  • What data / technologies do we need to effectively execute?

Lesson #2: He started with the most important piece- The Why

"My favorite part of the playbook is the why section. I really tried to explain to new hires why we do certain things the way we do."

Right up front, the playbook lays out the thinking behind how SnackNation reps execute. Kevin shares what mistakes have already been made and lessons learned along the way. Most companies direct their teams on how to go after deals, but rarely share the why.

Kevin’s team knows the why, they believe in it, and mostly importantly they can teach it to others.

Lesson #3: He got his team involved

"When I finished a chapter, I presented it to the team. I said, 'Tear this apart. Tell me where I'm wrong. Tell me what's off that doesn't work in real life.' Getting the team involved builds ownership."

After the 3.5 month initial writing period, Kevin continues to revise the playbook monthly. He makes updates for each new hire class. His goal is to make the previous SDR class jealous - to the point where they're saying, "Man, I wish I had all this when I started."

Equal to what goes in the playbook is how you communicate it. You have to put everything in a format that reps can absorb. Even the best writing, if presented as a wall of words, won't help your reps learn and grow.


Sales teams need playbooks to make the most of every single sales interaction. You want to capture industry best practices, bubble up emerging techniques, and continuously refine buyer-based messaging so that, as Kevin says, your old timers are jealous of the tool you're handing to your new hires.

An aside, here at The Bridge Group we write Sales Playbooks that rock, if I do say so myself (as do our clients).

Don’t make your new hires do sales tool archeology; hand them a roadmap to success. Any questions for Kevin?