Shared posts

21 Jul 16:19

Barriers to Asking Questions on Sales Calls

by PFPS

Real and perceived barriers to asking questions keep many sellers from genuinely connecting with their buyers.

barriers to asking questions

Some of these barriers to asking questions are self-inflicted. Others are situational. Some stem from previous experiences when asking questions backfired. So what’s a seller to do?

Perceived Barriers to Asking Questions

There are right ways and wrong ways to ask questions.

Savvy sellers know that ill-timed, awkward, and low-value questions are poorly received by buyers. That’s why some sellers feel asking questions is too risky. Their perception is what causes there to be significant barriers to asking questions on sales calls.

It magnifies the feeling of risk when a seller doesn’t have business acumen about what it takes for buyers to be successful. Asking a question may trigger answers the seller won’t understand. There is a fear of exposure if the conversation turns to something the seller is unfamiliar with, so sticking to talking points about his or her own product seems safer.

Actual Barriers to Asking Questions

Along with an element of perceived risk, there is also the constant time pressure for both sellers and buyers. Sellers may not see the value in inviting lengthy discussion, and they may believe buyers don’t want to spend time answering questions either. Thcover for site 2015ey opt instead for the expedience of a generic product pitch.

Add to the mix that many sellers feel questions are intrusive, pushy or nosy. Some feel it would be downright rude to pry into the buyer’s business. Some sellers believe they are on a “need to know” basis, and buyers will tell them whatever it is they absolutely must know. The perception, coupled with the reality of limited time, makes it all too easy to skip asking questions altogether.

Furthermore, questioning others tends to have negative associations attached to it. Words like interrogating, cross-examining, investigating and scrutinizing come to mind and then drum up imagined reactions like defensiveness or retreat. These hostile images of how people think of questions cause sellers to feel it is inappropriate to ask questions. Others avoid asking because they abide by the philosophy of the classic courtroom attorney who says “you should never ask a question unless you already know the answer.”

Finally, since question-asking is a skill, but it’s not formally taught in most circles, many people truly don’t know the difference between a well-constructed question and an awkwardly phrased one. Even if they sense the difference as they ask the question, most people cannot pinpoint or explain the difference and cannot replicate a good question nor avoid asking an awkward one again.

It’s easy to understand why so many sellers shy away from asking questions! It’s risky, scary, time consuming, potentially rude, may be discouraged, and is an undeveloped skill for most. Whether real or perceived, these barriers to asking questions on sales calls result in too few questions.

Despite all that, the case for asking questions is compelling. It’s worth your time to develop the skill of asking effective questions. The bestseller DISCOVER Questions® Get You Connected was written to help you develop those skills and overcome these barriers so you can become the ONE seller buyers actually WANT to talk to.

Next Steps:

  • To learn more about DISCOVER Questions® and how to get connected in meaningful ways with your buyers, order your copy of this bestseller from Amazon.com
  • When you need sales or management coaching, customized sales training, or a dynamic speaker call us at 408-779-PFPS or book an appointment with Deb.
  • Check out these resources for sales managers and front line sellers. New webinars, infographics, research, podcasts and more added every month!

BlogAward

The award-winning CONNECT2Sell Blog is for professional sellers who believe, as we do, that Every Sale Starts with a Connection.

Deb Calvert, “DISCOVER Questions® Get You Connected” author and Top 50 Sales Influencer, is President of People First Productivity Solutions, a UC Berkeley instructor, and a former Sales/Training Director of a Fortune 500 media company. She speaks and writes about the Stop Selling & Start Leading movement and offers sales training, coaching and consulting as well as leadership development programs. She is certified as an executive and sales coach by the ICF and is a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge®. Deb has worked in every sector and in 14 countries to build leadership capacity, team effectiveness and sales productivity with a “people first” approach.

The post Barriers to Asking Questions on Sales Calls appeared first on People First.

21 Jul 16:18

7 Alarming Sales Performance Stats (and How to Avoid the Associated Pitfalls)

by Alyssa Drury

There are tons of statistics out there indicating sales performance and productivity are not as optimal as we would hope. It’s easy to take these at face value, brush them aside, or think that your team is unaffected. But there’s a very good chance that your sales team is not working as efficiently and effectively as it could be. Take a look at the sales productivity stats in the context of your own sales team:

  1. Only 39% of a sales rep’s time is spent selling or interacting with prospects and customers.
  2. Sales reps spend an average of 30 hours a month searching for and creating their own content.
  3. A whopping 2/3 of a company’s sales collateral goes unused, but companies are unable to determine what content cannot be located, and what is simply irrelevant for sales conversations.
  4. 92% of companies are leveraging CRM, but there has been a drop in the number of individual salespeople using CRM as part of their daily workflows.
  5. 77% of executive buyers claim salespeople don’t understand their issues and where they can help, and 78% claim salespeople do not have relevant examples or case studies to share with them. (Forrester Research)
  6. According to the Aberdeen Group, 55% of companies aren’t prioritizing reps’ ability to personalize content.
  7. The time that sales reps spend on pre-sales and post-sales activities are both up by 15%, time spent on non-sales (admin) work is up 21%, and all of this has come at the expense of actual selling time in front of the customer, which is down a full 26%. (HBR)

I don’t know about you, but these stats scare me. So many deals are lost because sales reps can’t adequately and efficiently communicate with prospective customers. There are numerous reasons that this happens, and sales leaders need to ask themselves:

  • Is my sales team suffering from the inability to personalize content, adopt CRM, or find the right content for a specific sales interaction?
  • Do pre- and post-sales activities take up the majority of my sales reps’ time?
  • How much time is my team actually spending interacting with customers in sales-driven activities?

Assessing the time your reps spend on different activities, both role-specific and indirect (time-wasting) tasks, can help you determine whether your reps are working as productively as possible.

Once you’ve (likely) concluded that your team could be selling smarter and more nimbly, think about where reps are spending most of their time. This could be a good indication of efficiency issues. SiriusDecisions reports that sales reps spend the majority of their time in email and calendar tools, such as Outlook, and considerably less time in SFA and CRM solutions. Finding and implementing the right tools that work within email platforms like Outlook and enable sales reps to have the most pertinent and personal sales interactions as possible can be essential to ensuring sales efficiency.

21 Jul 16:17

Aligning Marketing and Sales to Achieve Common Revenue Goals

by Val Litvin

The success of your business heavily depends on the coordinated operations of your marketing and sales teams. However, many organizations’ communication between these departments gets inhibited as both marketing and sales constantly compete with each other in order to prove which team is more valuable for the company. The reality is that both of these units are equally significant for company’s success. Marketing is responsible for generating as many high-quality leads as possible. Once qualified, it is sales department’s responsibility to turn these prospects into buying customers. However, research shows that the sales team ignores 50% of marketing leads and 79% of approved leads never turn into sales. So, why does sales fail to hit their quota even though marketing is reaching their lead generation goals?

service eBook

One reason behind the inconsistency in communication is that oftentimes marketers and salespeople do not have the same understanding of what a qualified lead is. For example, let’s say your sales representatives are working with a specific business size and industry segment. The salespeople will not be able to meet their quota, if the majority of marketing produced leads will not match the requirements of leads your reps can work with. In other words, marketing metrics have not been well aligned with sales and revenue goals, which may result in a disproportionate number of target contacts your sales professionals can work with.

Marketing and sales teams need to work cooperatively, instead of simply focusing on their isolated goals. They have to pursue common business objectives and shared company goals. For this purpose, marketing metrics must be well-aligned with sales quotas, and sales teams should make their sales pipelines transparent as well as continuously analyze leads and provide feedback to marketing. Yet, aligning marketing and sales is easier said than done. Synergizing marketing and sales is a complex organizational process that requires time and effort. At the same time, businesses can take advantage of modern technology solutions, which will enable the sharing of data across departments, automate core business processes and streamline collaboration.

20 Jul 17:29

Why you should always dress up on a plane

by Sophie-Claire Hoeller

Vintage KLM"Girl, I LOVE your boots!" a flight attendant recently said to me on a New York to Los Angeles flight. I was wearing heeled, over-the-knee boots, mainly because I couldn't fit them in my carry-on.

He then touched me on the arm, looked me in the eyes, and said earnestly, "Thank you for dressing up. It means a lot to us flight attendants, and no one does that anymore."

If that isn't enough of a reason to ditch those sweatpants when flying, I don’t know what is.

Of course, these days dressing up for a flight doesn't automatically mean you'll get an upgrade — too many loyalty programs, the frequency of overbooking — but that's no excuse for dressing like a college kid late for their Monday-morning class.

Woman boarding planeI get it, flights are long, seats are uncomfortable. You want to wear something flexible and not sit on buttons for eight hours. You think that because you're no longer getting chateaubriand carved seat-side, you shouldn't have to bother wearing anything formfitting. You feel like you're being treated in an undignified manner, so you should be free to dress that way.

But there's a difference between looking sloppy and being comfortable — you can look put-together and still be cozy.

Here are four reasons why you should dress up on a flight:

You may get an upgrade

These days, most flights are overbooked, but in the rare instance that they aren't, being better dressed than all the other schlubs will give you an edge.

When AirFareWatchdog.com founder George Hobica asked a gate agent directly whether they'd be more likely to upgrade someone who was dressed well, the answer was, "Yes, the better dressed you are, the more likely you are to nab that seat. I am not going to put someone wearing flip-flops up front with our best customers."

You'll save space in your suitcase

If you're bringing sweats and schlubby clothes that you don't plan on wearing again on your trip, you're wasting precious suitcase space.

Wearing heavier items like boots and a sweater is not only a space saver, but practical: You can plan other outfits around those items, and thus have more ensembles while packing fewer clothes.

You'll feel better about yourself

Besides never knowing who you might meet on a plane, you'll feel better about yourself once you land — ever landed in Europe wearing Crocs? You're also taking a step toward making flying a special occasion again — and you can't tell me that travel isn't a cause for celebration.

You'll make work more pleasant for the flight attendant

Planes are their workplace. No one wants to wait on someone in basketball shorts and dirty flip-flops.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: This 15-in-1 travel jacket has raised over $3 million on Kickstarter

20 Jul 17:27

How Amazon Adapted Its Business Model to India

by Vijay Govindarajan
jul16-20-158935405

When Amazon decided to enter the Indian e-commerce market, it was clear from the outset that something would have to give. That something was the very business model that had made Amazon an internet powerhouse in the U.S.

Amazon.com debuted as an online bookstore in 1994. Founder Jeff Bezos’s initial business model was fairly simple: Source a single product type from wholesalers and publishers and sell it directly to consumers on the then fledgling internet. Thanks to Bezos’s vision and a highly successful, user-friendly website, by 1997 Amazon.com was the first online retailer to boast one million customers. As the company added more titles and expanded its product line, it developed an ecosystem rooted in the wholesale purchase of goods; huge, strategically located fulfillment centers; and contracts with national and regional carriers who shipped its products throughout the U.S. and to other countries.

A decade into the new millennium, India, with its billion-plus people and largely untapped e-commerce market, beckoned. The country posed a classic case of good news, bad news. The good news included a very young populace — more than 65% under age 35 — rising levels of disposable income, and ubiquitous cell phone ownership (80% of the population, by one estimate).

The bad news: 67% of the population lives in rural areas characterized by an underdeveloped infrastructure. Only about 35% of India’s population is connected to the internet. Cash, not credit cards or checking accounts, is still the rule. And, determined to protect its own, India enacted a rigid FDI policy restricting foreign multibrand retailers from selling directly to consumers online. That meant any venture would basically be a third-party seller for Indian-made products.

Insight Center

Challenges, possibly even hurdles, for Amazon, but not insurmountable ones — they just required an innovative business model, beginning with finding products to sell.

There is no shortage of goods produced by Indians, but most vendors in the country are small. Three years ago, relatively few retailers there sold their products online because they believed e-commerce to be too complex and time consuming. And India’s cash economy did not facilitate online transactions.

To respond to these challenges, after launching its Indian website in 2013, Amazon developed a program to recruit an army of suppliers and convince them it was a trustworthy partner that could help them increase the market for their products. Amazon wheeled out a program called Amazon Chai Cart: mobile tea carts that navigated city streets, serving refreshments to small-business owners while teaching them the virtues of e-commerce. The Chai Cart team reportedly traveled more than 9,400 miles across 31 cities and engaged with more than 10,000 sellers. To help these sellers get online quickly and address their objections to e-commerce, last year Amazon created Amazon Tatkal, a self-described “studio on wheels” that provides a suite of launch services, such as registration, imaging, cataloging, and sales training.

But Amazon also had to adapt delivery and fulfillment. In the U.S., Amazon uses a centralized shipping platform, which it calls Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), to store and distribute the products it sells. Sellers send their goods to Amazon’s fulfillment centers and pay a fee for the corporation to store, pick, pack, and ship their wares. Amazon implemented FBA in India as well, and to date has built nearly two dozen warehouses there, the largest one in Kothur in Telangana.

The company also localized its fulfillment platform in India by introducing Easy Ship and Seller Flex. With the former, Amazon couriers pick up packaged goods from a seller’s place of business and deliver them to consumers. With the latter, vendors designate a section of their own warehouses for products to be sold on Amazon.in, and Amazon coordinates the delivery logistics. This “neighborhood” approach is convenient for sellers and has benefited Amazon by speeding up delivery of some products.

Amazon has contracts with a number of major delivery services in the country, including India Post and cargo airline Blue Dart. Last year it set up a subsidiary, Amazon Transportation Services Private Limited, to augment delivery. And it utilizes bicycle and motorbike couriers for last-mile deliveries in both urban and rural communities. But rural areas, which often are literally off the beaten path, pose special challenges.

India is liberally peppered with small shops — more than 14 million of them, the overwhelming majority smaller than 600 square feet. These so-called mom-and-pop stores typically feature high prices and limited inventories, but in many rural communities they are the only game in town. The government’s FDI restrictions are designed in part to protect these convenience-store owners. When Amazon.in debuted, many Indians feared the online behemoth would put them out of business.

Instead, Amazon has enlisted mom-and-pop store owners as partners in its delivery platform. In small villages and remote areas where few people have internet access, residents can go to their local store and use the owner’s internet connection to browse and select goods from Amazon.in. Store owners record their orders, alert customers when their products are delivered to the store, collect the cash payment, and pass along the money — minus a handling fee — to Amazon. The arrangement neatly circumvents the problem of conducting e-commerce in a cash economy. And store owners report increased sales of their own while customers are on-site.

From product to delivery, Amazon has reinvented its ecosystem to address the challenges it has faced conducting an e-commerce enterprise in India. This past June, Amazon committed another $3 billion to its India operations, demonstrating continued faith in the “huge potential of the Indian market.” Its funding and efforts are outpacing those of its competitors, including Flipkart and Snapdeal. That’s because there is a lot at stake. A recent Google/A.T. Kearney study predicts online retailing in India will expand to 175 million shoppers — three times the current number — by 2020. E-commerce is widely expected to exceed $100 billion by that same year. Morgan Stanley Research estimates the number could rise to $137 billion. And given that mobile wallets already outnumber credit cards and are increasing in popularity, the stakes could be even higher.

20 Jul 17:27

Matter: Updated Brain Map Identifies Nearly 100 New Regions

by CARL ZIMMER
Data from 1,200 brain scans performed as part of the Human Connectome Project allowed researchers to unveil the brain’s hidden geography.
20 Jul 17:25

What You Should Know If You Want to Work Remotely and Travel the World

by Kristin Wong

If you’re lucky enough to work from anywhere, you can take advantage of your freedom and work while you travel. Our own Stephanie Lee just spent the last nine months as one of these “digital nomads,” with just a couple of suitcases and her laptop. Here are some practical things to consider if you want to be one, too.

Read more...

20 Jul 17:25

5 Essential Spotify Add-Ons For Music Addicts

by David Nield on Field Guide, shared by Andy Orin to Lifehacker

Spotify , the original titan of the music streaming world, is packed with plenty of great—but there are still plenty of third party add-ons that can enhance the original app even further. Here are some of our favorite utilities for doing more with Spotify and taking your streaming to the next level.

Read more...

20 Jul 17:24

How to Jailbreak Your Kindle

by Thorin Klosowski

Last week we learned you can jailbreak every current model of Kindle. Even better, while the process is a bit time-consuming, it’s also pretty easy to do. The end result is a Kindle that’s a little more pleasurable to use. Here’s how to do it.

Read more...

20 Jul 17:22

KFC, Apple in China hit by South China Sea spat

by CB Staff

BEIJING, China – To the challenges facing KFC and Apple in China, add a surprise backlash from Beijing’s spat with the Philippines over the South China Sea.

Nationalists are protesting at KFC outlets and calling for a boycott, spurred by government accusations that Washington encouraged Manila to oppose Beijing’s claims to vast tracts of ocean.

Photos circulated online show young Chinese wearing scarves with patriotic slogans smashing Apple iPhones in protest.

State media have fanned public anger with a torrent of criticism of last week’s ruling by a U.N. tribunal, which found no legal basis for Beijing’s claim to most of the South China Sea.

“The Chinese public, as optimistic and positive as they are, are deeply patriotic and nationalistic, especially people who are younger,” said James Roy of the research firm China Market Research Group. KFC and Apple “are just very closely associated with the United States, and you are seeing people picking the closest symbol they can think of to demonstrate against.”

The protests are a reminder of the political risks for global brands in China, where they regularly become targets of nationalist sentiment, often stirred up by official media.

In 2012, sales of Japanese autos plunged when Tokyo and Beijing were in a dispute over control of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

The Chinese leadership has tried to tamp down this week’s protests with demands in state media to leave foreign companies and their customers alone.

“This is not the right way to express patriotism,” said the government’s Xinhua News Agency. The China Daily newspaper called the protests “jingoism that does a disservice to the spirit of devotion to the nation.”

Some KFC customers have responded by posting photos of themselves online with a bucket of chicken, axes or other weapons and signs reading, “patriotic hooligans, try harassing me and I’ll take you out.”

Phone calls to spokespeople for KFC in China and written messages sent through the company website weren’t answered.

A man in the eastern city of Yangzhou, northwest of Shanghai, said he watched a protest Tuesday morning after seeing a note online appealing to people to take part. He said it also told protesters to boycott Japanese and Korean goods.

“A group of more than 20 people including children broke into the restaurant and shouted at customers to leave,” the witness, Guo Lu, said by phone from Yangzhou. He said police arrived quickly and pushed the protesters out of the restaurant.

The timing is unusually bad for KFC, which is China’s biggest restaurant chain with more than 5,000 outlets but is overhauling its struggling business after a food scandal and marketing missteps.

KFC’s owner, Yum Brands Inc., is preparing to spin off its China unit, which also includes Pizza Hut restaurants, as a separate company in October in hopes of improving its performance.

KFC has long been an all-purpose target for protests about U.S. issues, especially in areas outside big cities with few other foreign symbols. In 1999, after NATO jets bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, protesters wrecked KFC restaurants.

The company and other foreign chain restaurants in China also face an upheaval as customers migrate to fast-growing local competitors they say offer more nutritious meals.

For its part, Apple has faced a series of legal hurdles this year in China, its second-biggest market.

In April, it suspended its iBooks and iTunes Movies services, reportedly due to an order by Chinese regulators.

The next month, an intellectual property tribunal ordered Apple to stop selling its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in Beijing after finding they look too much like a model made by a small Chinese brand. Apple was allowed to continue sales while it appeals.

Also in May, a court ruled a Chinese company is allowed to use the iPhone trademark on bags, wallets and other leather goods.

An Apple spokeswoman responded to a request for comment by pointing to CEO Tim Cook’s positive comments in April about the company’s future in China. Cook said Apple was “really optimistic” and planned to open five more stores in China during the current quarter for a total of 40.

___

AP researcher Yu Bing contributed.

The post KFC, Apple in China hit by South China Sea spat appeared first on Canadian Business - Your Source For Business News.

20 Jul 17:11

Bootstrap vs. Boilerplate

by Igor Chishkala

Photo of a miniature stove with two pots on top

When comparing two front-end technologies like Bootstrap and HTML5 Boilerplate, the comparison is not as straightforward as you might expect. To start, one is a framework, and one is a template. So how are they different, and when is one best used over the other? In this article, we’ll take a look at these two front-end technologies to better understand how they compare.

What Is Bootstrap?

bootstraplogo

Bootstrap is a free, open-source front-end framework. It’s the most famous and powerful front-end framework for web projects today. It was born at Twitter as a responsive solution with standard elements that help developers create mobile-first, front-end interfaces quickly and intelligently.

Originally called Twitter “Blueprint,” it was in fact a library. The team at Twitter created it for internal company tasks and to standardize UI components, but after receiving positive feedback from their colleagues, Mark Otto and Jacob Thornton decided to make the project public and open-source by putting the Bootstrap code on GitHub. That was four years ago and since then, there have been over 11,777 commits to its official repository (based on its GitHub bio).

The most recent major version of Bootstrap is Bootstrap 4, and one of its most useful basic templates is called Jumbotron:

bootstrap template

Jumbotron is a very popular starting template for Bootstrap. It includes a few basic elements: a simple navigation menu, the extra attention block, and Jumbotron’s popular 3-3-3 columns grid system with headers, texts, and buttons; and of course, a footer.

New Bootstrap templates have been added over time, including this template that’s ideal for creating a blog:

bootstrap blog template

To describe the full list of Bootstrap features would take too long—learn more in this article. For the sake of comparison, we’ll stick to its main purpose and a few defining features.

Here’s the main file structure of Bootstrap:

bootstrap/
├── css/
│ ├── bootstrap.css
│ ├── bootstrap.min.css
├── js/
│ ├── bootstrap.js
│ ├── bootstrap.min.js
├── img/
│ ├── glyphicons-halflings.png
│ ├── glyphicons-halflings-white.png
└── README.md

You can easily delete some files if you use Bootstrap “as is.” There’s no reason to include a non-minified version of CSS and JavaScript; using a full version is only necessary for a deep rebuild of code. So, bootstrap.css, bootstrap.js and readme.md may be excluded or deleted. Also, Bootstrap is very popular and a lot of public CDNs share it for free, like MaxCDN or CDNJS.

What Is HTML5 Boilerplate?

boilerplate logo

HTML5 Boilerplate (sometimes called H5BP) is a front-end template based on HTML5. This is the biggest differentiator from Bootstrap—it’s a template, not a framework. Boilerplate is, according to its author, “a package of useful contraptions, hacks, and cross-browser libraries.” While Bootstrap contains strong rules for each element of an interface, Boilerplate is more geared to help you with a fast and smart launch of your new project. H5BP is not about rules; it’s about a quick start.

With jQuery, no-js, CSS classes, project folder structure, and web server configurations for Apache and Nginx allow gzip compressing and 404 page functionality. The most recent major version is HTML5 Boilerplate 5.

Like Bootstrap, HTML5 Boilerplate is shared by MIT’s open-source license. The project was launched by a team of developers and is now supported and developed by a large community on GitHub.

Some other basic features of H5BP:

  • It’s totally HTML5 ready. Use all of HTML5’s new elements with confidence
  • It’s designed with progressive enhancement in mind
  • It includes:
    • Normalize.css for CSS normalizations and common bug fixes
    • jQuery via CDN, with a local fallback
    • A custom build of Modernizr for feature detection that enables better compliance with HTML5
    • Apache Server Configs that, among other things, improve a website’s performance and security
  • Placeholder CSS Media Queries
  • Useful CSS helper classes
  • Default print styles
  • Performance optimized
  • An optimized version of the Google Universal Analytics snippet
  • Protection against any stray console statements causing JavaScript errors in older browsers
  • “Delete-key friendly”—it’s easy to strip out parts you don’t need
  • Extensive inline and accompanying documentation

Why Bootstrap?

If you’re developing a mid-sized project, Bootstrap’s speed and united design of all elements will be a great plus. Also, Bootstrap provides you with a powerful and mobile-first grid system. You can specify a visibility or size for each block on every kind of device: desktop, tablet, or mobile.

 

Bootstrap is especially great for internal interfaces like admin panels of websites or intranets for companies. But without themes, Bootstrap doesn’t look very modern—you’ll need to use a service like Bootswatch, which offers 16 free themes that allow you change the design of main Bootstrap elements like a buttons, input fields, or colors.

jumbotron

Why HTML5 Boilerplate?

If you need a quick start for a smaller project, that’s the main advantage of H5BP. In five minutes, you’ll have a template up and running for future development. Your eventual project may evolve a great deal down the line, with very little original H5BP left, but it’s a great jumping off point. To get started, clone H5BP from GitHub to a local machine and you’re ready to go!

Why NOT Bootstrap?

After years of working with Bootstrap, I saw code like this many times:
Cancel
My App
Save

This is code for just two buttons, but with a lot of CSS classes. The excessive number of classes can make code unreadable and very hard to work on.

Why NOT HTML5 Boilerplate?

H5BP is just a template with some tools built in. While it’s good for small or intermediate-sized projects, more serious development projects shouldn’t rely on prepackaged configurations for web servers or CSS rules. All things must be coded and configured from scratch.

Is It Possible to Use Boilerplate and Bootstrap Together?

initializer logo

So, we’ve established that Bootstrap and HTML5 Boilerplate are not the same products. Did you know that you can merge them together in one package? It’s easy and fast to do using Initializr, a step-by-step wizard that allows you to tune up a new project from scratch. You can save a lot of hours with Initializr because it generates a ready-to-use customized template with modules that you choose.

initializer 5

What Can You Customize with Initializr?

For pre-configuration, just select which kind of Initializr package you need and click the “Download it!” button.

Classic H5BP Initializr
This version doesn’t have a template (visual parts), but includes Modernizr and jQuery, some CSS hacks for better cross-browser compatibility, and old IE fixes. Also, it has a lot of small tools like an included Google Analytics code, .htaccess code, etc.

Responsive Initializr
A step up from the Classic Initializr, Responsive Initializr includes a responsive template. It’s a good way to start making a responsive website if you’d rather not use Bootstrap, and it includes Modernizr and jQuery, too.

pasted image 0-1
pasted image 0-2

Bootstrap Initializr

Similar to Responsive Initializr, this version has Bootstrap classes instead of basic @media responsive classes. It’s a great option for Bootstrap lovers.

So, Which Is Better?

My answer? Both of them together. We can’t actually compare front-end frameworks with templates since they’re not the same products, but H5BP has a lot of nice tools and Bootstrap is incredibly popular and loved by developers around the world. Use them together and you’ll get the best of both worlds for your project.

20 Jul 17:11

50+ Ways to Spread Your Word on the Internet

by Andrew Gazdecki

content-marketing

The Information Age has made it easy to get ahold of almost anything you could want to know, but it’s created a problem for people who want to be heard. How do you make your content discoverable in an ever-deepening sea of information?

Social Bookmarking Platforms

Social bookmarking sites are a great resource for those looking to promote their websites. They allow you to bookmark your sites and engage in discussions about them. They’re also an indispensable SEO tool. Here are the biggest ones you should be on.

  • YouTube: Everyone from Facebook and Google to your neighborhood bakery are already here. All you need is a couple small videos with potential to attract viewers. If you’re able to produce a good video, it could get posted on a few hundred social media pages, reaching tens of thousands of people. If it makes even ten percent of them happy, that’s an impact.
  • Reddit: What do you do if you don’t already have thousands of Facebook friends or Twitter followers? You get more active on Reddit. The site has its own base of subscribers that get content fed to them based on their interests. Generating engaging Reddit posts that keep people locked in can bring you millions of views Realistically.
  • Pinterest: Pinterest is the third-largest social media platform after Facebook and Twitter. All you need to succeed here is a steady stream of catchy images/visuals. Nothing more. It’s the LinkedIn for hobbies and interests.
  • Vine: Not everybody has the time to watch a long video, which is why Vine is becoming so popular with young people. It hosts 6-second, looped videos that can run multiple times before the social media user consciously chooses to click on it. It’s video marketing without the need for much user action. Don’t let it go untapped.
  • Tumblr: This micro-blogging site gets more than 300 million unique visitors per month. More than 120,000 people sign up for it every day. More importantly, it’s freakishly addictive. Almost half of the site’s users have got an app for it, and they go for an average of seven sessions per day.
  • Instagram: Just about everybody uses Facebook and Twitter, but not every user is up for an unchecked flow of information on his screen. This is why you shouldn’t miss out on Instagram. It has fewer users, but those who do use it engage far more frequently than Facebook users. Make sure your posts are fun and visually appealing.
  • Snapchat: It’s more than just a medium for sharing time-sensitive tidbits of daily life. The company recently introduced SnapChat Discover, which can land you in front of millions of Snapchat users who are young and passionate.
  • Inbound: Inbound is another great website for content marketing professionals. It helps you stay up-to-date with what’s happening in the world around you, new content marketing strategies, and what your competitors might be up to.
  • Hacker News: The best thing about Hacker News is that it’s meant for content marketing professionals. Scratch their backs and they’ll scratch yours. At the end of the day, you walk home with a couple of sites promoting your content, optimizing your reach (both for search engines and random visitors).
  • Growth Hackers: One more place to be if you want to take your online marketing campaign to the next level and get in touch with the leaders in your niche. You can make vibes by simply writing a good post, or getting a good online writer to do it for you. Easy.
  • Flipboard: An aggregating tool for voracious readers—who also happen to be the most loyal type of customers–Flipboard helps you issue your brand news regularly. It serves as a catalogue or brochure for your products, a place to post upcoming events, and much more.

Paid Promotion

Regardless of what your business or brand is, you’re going to need paid promotions at some point to gain an edge on the competition. The only problem is that you need to carefully consider your options and use the platforms that are most efficient (more impact, less cost). Here are some that do just that.

  • Targeted Facebook Ads: A straightforward way to gain exposure with the right audience. Facebook’s algorithm is quite sophisticated. It may cost you more than publishing your own content, but it does offer returns.
  • Promoted tweets: Having difficulty getting traction with your posts? Try buying space on Twitter. The best thing about promoted Tweets is, unlike Facebook Ads, they blend in well with user content, making readers more receptive to them and upping potential engagement.
  • Banner ads: Another way of getting the message across, though they rake in less clicks than the alternatives. Currently, Google Adsense is the biggest player you can count on.
  • Native advertising: Native advertising is perhaps the cleverest of all marketing tactics. It attracts the highest number of visitors in an unsuspecting way from the most popular websites. But it does cost more, and you need some really good writers to make the ads sound neutral.
  • Reddit ads: Reddit has its own version of ads, but they’re less customizable. They target a broader audience and have a higher chance of showing up before people who aren’t as interested. But exposure before a large audience could also be a benefit if you know how to capitalize on it.
  • OutBrain: A clever way of reaching viewers on top-quality websites. It might cost a little extra, but considering the fact that it brings your content before people already looking for a good read, the investment is worth the price.
  • Taboola: One of the biggest content marketing platforms in the world, Taboola lets you do a range of things with your content on a range of platforms.

Reach Out

There’s a difference between existing and connecting. It’s good that you’re on the right platforms and you’re posting enough to be conspicuous, but you also need to connect with people. You can do that by responding to their comments or simply reaching out to individuals. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Email influencers: Make a list of heavy-hitters in your niche, write a piece mentioning them, and then reach out to them. They might want to give you a shot before their audience since it could bring them testimonials. And getting the attention of a heavy-hitter’s audience can go a long way to give your brand recognition and respect in the target market.
  • Talk to people like you: Don’t stop at the top. Also reach out to people of your size. Many bloggers have collaborative, promotional partnerships with their peers. Come up with a plan that benefits you both.
  • Invite guests: Ask guests to come and have a word with your readers. In return, you’ll get a chance with theirs. These trades happen all the time.
  • Tag heavy-hitters in social media posts: It might sound like bootlicking, but it’s how you get the attention of the big players. Tag them in your social media posts so that they know you’re talking about them. A few words from them could earn you a lot of respect in the eyes of their followers.
  • Mention them on Twitter: “Mentions” give you room to be creative with online networking. Make use of them—start a conversation or add commentary to a thread. Throw your ring in the hat and you could form strong connections.
  • Ask for a quote: Everybody loves attention, so it never hurts to ask them for a quote. In return, they’ll likely share a link to your site across social media, which is worth a lot.
  • Ping heavy-hitters wherever you can find them: Counting on email alone to get in touch with heavy-hitters is a huge mistake. They’re busy people, so your email will likely land in their junk folder. Explore other ways to get in touch, like dropping them a message on LinkedIn.
  • Shout your achievements from the rooftops: As desperate as it sounds, it’s reality—people only hear you when you shout. They buy your product after being exposed to it quite a few times. That’s why if you’ve done something inventive or relevant, you should write about it in as many places as possible. Make sure it’s widely read.
  • Keep in touch: Build a proper list of contacts. Text them every now and then. Stay in touch with them. They might be able to take your campaign to the next level.
  • Befriend journalists: This is a big one. Having a journalist friend pays off more than anything else. A quick example: it takes quite a lot to get something published on CNN or a similar quality website, and if you’re a small business, chances are you’ll never make that happen. But having connections in the media can pay off big.
  • Help a Reporter Out: Haven’t got any journalist friends? Don’t worry. Try platforms like HARO (short for “Help A Reporter Out”). They may return the favor by getting you published.
  • Go for a press release: It’s just one effective way to spread the word. There are hundreds of sites you can publish your press release on.
  • Leverage your email signature: Email signatures can be so much more than a name and a phone number. Use them better. Customize them. How about inserting a link for a new release?
  • Keep your comments section alive: Sites live and feed on comments, and comments keep coming as long as you keep replying. Make sure you’re actively engaging with your visitors.

Diversify Your Content

Content is a product that can be turned into ten other products. Your competitors will move on those opportunities as soon as they see them, so why don’t you do it first? Present your content in a variety of ways and you’ll attract a variety of readers, watchers, and listeners.

  • Create infographics: Repurpose existing content by turning it into an infographic. Grab a long article you posted and give it a designer. Ask her to create a catchy infographic for you. You’ll be surprised to see how well it’s received by your audience.
  • Create a video: Video marketing has become an essential element of content marketing. More than 4 billion videos are played each day—on Facebook alone. When you create videos that are short, catchy, and fun, you strike a chord with people.
  • Try animating: Hire someone to design a killer animation for you. This is a cool alternative to video that can capture attention in a fun way.
  • Switch to PDF: Convert Word docs, web content, and more into downloadable PDFs that you attach to emails and add to your website.
  • Post to LinkedIn: Use Linkedin Pulse to publish content. There’s less competition and a surplus of professionals.
  • Send a copy to Medium: Medium is one of few online platforms that doesn’t worry about content. You can simply publish your articles and multiply your audience.

Turn Products into Marketing Tools

The idea behind this is pretty simple: redirect the customer trust you’ve cultivated from one product to another.

  • SEO is king: More than 90% of browsing sessions start with a search. And to show up in search results, you need an effective SEO strategy. It’s a reality you can’t escape from since effective SEO has become a direct function of the investment. There are small tweaks that don’t cost much but can yield real, trackable benefits.
  • Link round-ups earn you respect: A decent set of link roundups eliminates the need for so many searches, and that’s why people love it. Plus, it makes you appear as a reliable authority on the subject. People start trusting you more. So why not keep them satisfied with link roundups then? You’re reading one now, aren’t you? :)
  • See to the word count: Though our attention spans have shortened, Google’s hasn’t. The search enging now prefers 1500+ words or more. Try publishing longer thought pieces to gain more search cred.
  • Publish a weekly digest: Email a weekly round-up to your subscribers. It can increase engagement and even bring back some readers who have fallen out of touch.
  • Let one microsite help another: If you have more than one micro-site propping up the main site and one isn’t doing so well, use the other to support it. Use your micro-sites to develop a well-structured support system.

Network with People Like You

Get into or create groups and forums where people with the same interests come together. This could be your marketing and networking base. Just like a market, you can exchange utilities on such groups.

  • Facebook Groups: Starting a Facebook group and keeping it active is a great way to stay connected. It’s more casual and engaging that an email thread and it can keep you top-of-mind.
  • Triberr: A social media site devoted fully to content marketing, Tribber unites bloggers who want to help promote each other’s content.
  • Don’t forget subreddits: Reddit is a huge melting pot of topics—there’s no neat divide where one subtopic merges into another. So to make sure that your content reaches as many people as possible, tailor your content to as many subreddits as possible.
  • Forum threads: This can be tricky. If you don’t do it properly, you can bug readers. Don’t indulge in naked marketing. Instead, try to help people out of whatever problem they’re having, then leave a link or a short plug for your content.
  • Whatever the platform, go for sharing groups: Sharing groups can be created on any platform. What’s important is that you keep the groups alive and active. Engage other members into the discussion, help them with their problems, and they’ll keep coming back.
  • Quora: Quora is a platform used by all. From students to scholars, all come here seeking answers to the questions puzzling them. What’s in it for you? The answer: You can post and reuse the content.

Did we miss one of your favorite tools or tips? Let us know in the comments!

20 Jul 17:11

10 Traits of a Profitable Partnership

by Emily Stanford

Businesses today are more complex and move faster than ever. In order to keep up with the rapid pace of business, across every industry we are seeing companies rely on vast partner ecosystems to drive sales and explore new markets. A strong network of partners can help you grow your business in many ways. Partners can help you scale and maximize your existing business lines by extending the footprint of your sales force. Partners can help you enter new markets, regions and industries to grow in areas where your company might not be familiar. And partners can provide a new channel for selling new products.

A thriving channel partner relationship can mean a competitive advantage for any business that is looking to grow. But managing these partner relationships is anything but simple. When critical information exists in fragmented systems, you lose productivity and some of the power that comes from your collaboration.

What do profitable partnerships have that struggling partnerships don’t? In short, Partner Community enables companies to manage the entire end-to-end partner lifecycle, from onboarding to selling to diving into analytics.

Here are ten traits that make great partnerships run smoothly.

1. New sales reps can onboard smoothly

Minimize onboarding time and maximize selling time with an easy way for new partners to get up to speed on your products, pricing structures, selling processes all within a single portal.

2. Educational and training materials are easy to access

There’s a lot to learn when it comes to enabling new partners to sell like one of your own sales reps. Success requires that partners can educate themselves with training modules and get certified in all of the appropriate areas so partners can become evangelists for your product or solution. When training materials aren’t in a central location, partners spend more time trying to find the educational resources and have less time to learn.

3. Partnership goals and KPIs are jointly set between the two companies

Without a blueprint for your channel partnership, you could hire a great channel team, recruit partners, and spend a great deal of time selling, but yield only minimum returns. Open communication within a community enables partners to maximize returns by aligning the channel sales strategy together.

4. Both companies CRMs are synchronized to make co-selling seamless

With a community as a crucial piece of the core-selling process, lead data from partners is integrated and synchronized with your CRM. Partners can collaborate on lead approval, management, and distribution in a way that is transparent and fair, minimizing conflict.

5. Marketing budgets are managed transparently

With Partner Community you can distribute marketing development funds and budget for campaigns to specific partners and track co-marketing ROI. Marketing teams stay in lockstep so they can share challenges, successes, and drive successful campaigns.

6. Salespeople have an easy way to contact product experts

Each member of the community has an individual profile that lists their roles and expertise. If a partner needs to contact an expert to ask a question or help them close the deal, they can do so right within the community, on the opportunity, with just one click.

7. Access to a content marketing hub with everything partners need to close a deal

When done right, content marketing can be a huge advantage for a sales team to address prospect pain points and message the product or solution in the best way possible. But how do partners find all the amazing e-books, whitepapers, and blog posts that can help them close the deal? When content marketing assets are accessible within the community, salespeople have a one-stop-shop for experts, pipeline numbers, and content.

8. Seamless access to key analytics

With Wave Analytics for Community Cloud, you can give your partners the insights they need to drive sales. With the right numbers located in the context of the rest of the community, you can collaborate more effectively because every partner is always working with the most up-to-date numbers.

9. Personalized privacy settings make everyone feel secure

Keep security top-of-mind with privacy settings that ensure that the right person can view the right information (and only that information). These privacy settings can be controlled on a person-by-person basis, or what content is displayed based on partner tiering and types.

10. Mobile-first partners never miss a beat

No matter where they are, partners can access Partner Community from their mobile devices and contact experts, view files, or ask questions — anything they need to provide a quote or close the deal. The Salesforce1 Mobile App lets you can take your community with you wherever you go, so you can collaborate, share information, and close deals from anywhere.

A partner community creates a bridge between two companies, combining joint business planning, shared resources, shared pipeline, shared analytics, and more, all in one easily accessible, fully mobile location. With the right tools, you can create a one-stop-shop for everything your partners need throughout their day-to-day — whether they’re out on the road meeting with customers, just getting started, or need to identify an expert, fast.

To read more about how Partner Community can optimize your channel business, download the free e-book: How to Transform Your Channel Business with Seamless Partner Management.

20 Jul 17:10

The Wave of the Future: Mobile Gas Stations That Come to You

Years ago I heard an older Briton explaining how, as a child, the tales of his first visit to America shocked his English friends at home. "In America you can get a pizza delivered to your house," he told them.

"WOT?" they said. "You mean, ready to eat?!?"

Here in NYC you've long been able to get everything delivered to your door, from Ukrainian desserts to books to illegal drugs hidden in a pizza box. Across the country, Amazon has now acclimated everyone to having anything delivered. Where we once went to stores, we now wait by the buzzer. But if there's one thing I never imagined being delivered, it's gasoline.

Not to your home, of course. But now a rash of startups armed with pickup trucks and smartphone apps will deliver gas directly to your car's gas tank, topping it off when you're not even there. Whether it's parked outside your house overnight or sitting in the parking lot at work, you can leave it empty and come back to it full. Once you've joined their app and hooked up a payment system, you just punch in the desired time and leave your gas door open.

There are at least six players in this market:

Yoshi charges "no fees other than the cost of gasoline" for non-members, though it's not clear how they peg their prices; members who pay a $15 monthly fee pay prices "set to be competitive with the lower priced gas stations in the area." They cover Atlanta, Nashville and the San Francisco Bay area.

 

 

 

Filld charges "the lowest price of the three stations closest to you plus a small delivery fee, typically $3." They cover Silicon Valley and San Francisco.

 

 

 

 

 

WeFuel charges a $7.49 fee per fill up and covers Los Altos, Menlo Park, Mountain View and Palo Alto.

 

 

 

 

 

FuelMe charges "a small delivery fee," which sounds fishy since that takes longer to type out than a dollar sign followed by a number. Also, bizarrely, their website doesn't even mention what parts of the country they cover.

 

 

 

 

Purple offers prices "competitive within the average fuel cost in your area," and charges a $6 fee for gas delivered in one hour, or $4 for a three-hour window, their only two options. They're serving Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and Seattle.

 

 

 

 

GasNinjas has the most insane pricing: "We're offering free delivery and you pay the same price as at the pump," they claim. Their only region is Miami.

 

 

 

 

 

It will be interesting to see which one comes out on top, if any. I for one like that there's at least a half-dozen players all battling it out; competition is good for consumers and it helps keep the economy stimulated.

I'm certain there's a subset of drivers willing to pay for the convenience of not making a trip to the station, the "time is money" crowd. And services like these will presumably also appeal to people who work late and don't like the thought of driving into a sketchy gas station after hours.

As for how the companies themselves make money, it appears they buy their gasoline wholesale and in bulk. But it's not clear if one will become more profitable than another, nor even if any of them will survive; as with earlier disruptive businesses like Airbnb and Uber, lawmakers have yet to get a handle on what is and isn't quite legal.

For instance, Bloomberg has reported that several months ago, Fire Department officials began poking their noses into these unregulated trucks driving around and dispensing gasoline, apparently didn't like what they found, and made proclamations like "It is not permitted," from a San Francisco Fire Department spokesman, who urges anyone witnessing these refueling acts to drop a dime on the perpetrators.

An L.A. Fire Department Captain was a little more conciliatory, saying that "at this time is it's not allowed as per our current fire code," but that they "are exploring a way this could be allowed with some restrictions."

Chris Aubuchon, Filld's CEO, had the best (and most Silicon-Valley-esque) quote: "You can never ask for permission," he said, "because no one will give it."

20 Jul 17:07

Meet the entrepreneur who set up Britain's first polygamous marriage website — but still can't find a second wife

by Will Heilpern

Azad Chaiwalla

Azad Chaiwala says he first "came out" as polygamous when he was just 12 years old.

"That was when I was courageous enough to do so," the 33-year-old businessman told Business Insider. "I told everybody I knew. I announced it. I told everyone I was a polygamous person."

Throughout his teenage years and 20s, the British Muslim blocked out his desire to marry numerous women and instead focused on growing multiple businesses.

The Sunderland-based entrepreneur now claims to employ more than 100 people who run his investment portfolios, properties, YouTube channels, and websites.

It is a truism that successful business ideas often come from solutions to problems. Chaiwala's problem was that he was finding it difficult to find a second wife.

Prior to their arranged marriage, Chaiwala had made it clear to his first wife — to whom he is still married — that she would not be his one and only.

"There was a taboo about the subject," Chaiwala said. "No family member wanted to help me [find a second wife]."

Frustrated that there were websites catering to every "niche, desire, and fetish" except his own, Chaiwala launched SecondWife.com in 2014. After reaching profitability with the venture, Chaiwala opened a second website, Polygamy.com in 2016, to facilitate non-Muslim polygamous marriages.

Controversially, neither website accommodates women who want multiple husbands. Chaiwala said that this was simply because "it's not a viable business model."

However, he claims that this results from an essential difference between the "nature" of men and women.

"I think polygamy is more in tune with [man's] nature than monogamy," Chaiwala said.

The businessman said that membership across both sites is "just touching 70,000" and that it is responsible for at least 100 marriages (the number of couples who have sent him thank you letters.) He suspects that there are 400 or 500 more.

However, despite his success as a polyamorous matchmaker, Chaiwala has so far been unable to find his own second wife.

"From a personal point of view, it’s a bit sad, but it's still the early stages," said Chaiwala, whose ultimate aim is to have three wives.

But most people might wonder why a woman would want to share her husband with other women. 

man two women

One woman's experience using SecondWife.com

SecondWife.com user Alisha, whose name has been changed to protect her anonymity, is a 39-year-old care worker from London. She has four children from a marriage that ended in divorce.

A strict Muslim, Alisha told Business Insider that she signed up to the site in 2015 to find a "husband on a part-time basis."

"Everyone seems to think the woman has the short end of the straw [in polygamous relationships], but I think it is the bloke because he has got to split his time, his finances, and his attention. He has got to make sure that the two families are both happy," Alisha said.

"Whereas I can go about my career, look after my children, and do what I need to do, all while knowing that I'm married and I've got my independence," she added.

Alisha did not always want to be a part of a polygamous marriage. When she first heard about the concept in her mid-20s, she was not interested.

"I wanted a full-time husband and I was immature, so it didn't make sense to me," she said.

However, as her marriage became strained, she began researching the subject. Later, she suggested polygamy to her husband as a solution to their problems.

She even set up a meeting between her husband and a woman who she thought had potential to be his second wife.

"He wasn’t capable," Alisha remembered. "He was an absolute d---head."

Their marriage ended in divorce. Not long after, she began browsing Secondwife.com.

Alisha admitted that she understood why some women would experience feelings of jealousy when sharing their husband with other women. However, she said her religion allowed her to ignore feelings of possessiveness.

"The thing is I've come to this understanding in my life, where I don't think I possess anything," Alisha explained. "Everything I have belongs to God — even my children are a blessing from God."

However, after months of looking, Alisha still hasn't found a husband on SecondWife.com. She said that too many of the men she met through the site were more concerned with the physical aspect of a relationship, without the emotional or financial commitment.

"That's not permissible in my religion," she said. "For a man to take a second wife, he has to provide for her financially."

Secondwife.com

Polygamy laws

Polygamy is permitted in Islam: the Quran specifies that each man can have up to four wives.

However, it is illegal in the UK, according to Section 57 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. The law states that those who practice bigamy can face sentences of up to seven years.

Chaiwala avoids legal difficulties by encouraging British polygamists to take religious or civil ceremonies, which are not legally recognised.

"But you have announce it, you have to make a hoo haa," Chaiwala said. "Don't just say you are husband and wife — that’s kind of cheating the system."

The problem with unofficial polygamous marriages is they leave both spouses without the legal and financial rights that come with marriage under British law.

Chaiwala said that this was an unfortunate "hurdle" that could be crossed.

"I'm hoping one day it can become legal and recognised and they can register their marriages legally, but there have to be some sacrifices made at the beginning," he said.

Another hurdle Chaiwala is facing on his battle to break what he calls the "last taboo" is convincing his own children of polygamy's moral value.

Recently, Chaiwala had a conversation with his young daughter who, apparently "regurgitating something a relative told her," said that polygamy was wrong.

"I tried to explain to her that’s it’s not wrong and that I her love mummy and that I love her," Chaiwala said. "But that I am a man."

Join the conversation about this story »

20 Jul 17:07

6 Things to Focus on When Selling to Small Business Owners

by Andrew Gazdecki

shutterstock_277863239

Small business owners are a special breed. They work hard, so they need their service providers to work hard for them. If your business is built to serve small businesses, you’ll need a sales approach designed to address their main concerns head-on.

Below are six tips that will help you connect with small business owners, keep them happy, and build long-standing relationships that can lead to valuable referrals.

1. Demonstrate your value

Money tends to be tight for small businesses. Owners constantly worry about covering their expenses and earning some kind of a profit. Though they were willing to take a leap of faith and start their own business, they may have little appetite for risk left over.

This means that proving your value is critical. Testimonials, trustworthy reviews, guarantees, and even third-party verifications all go a long way toward convincing a small business owner that you will indeed deliver on your promises. If there’s any doubt in their mind, they’ll probably put your brochure on the shelf.

2. Follow through

This ties into the last point. Your sales promises all have to be kept, or better yet, exceeded. Make sure that your sales enthusiasm carries over into service enthusiasm, or repeat business will drop to zero. Small business owners watch expenses carefully, and if they aren’t getting immediate returns, they’ll be quick to cut you out. The grace period after the sale will be quite short, so make it count. Follow through and follow up to seal the deal.

3. Help them today

Long-term benefits are nice for a well-funded organization that can weather quarterly ups and downs. A small business generally can’t do this, so investing for long-term gain is difficult if there are no short-term gains to be seen. Make sure your value timeline aligns with the resources of your small business customers.

If your offering requires long-term investment, you’ll have to work that much harder to demonstrate that it’s worth the wait. You’ll also have to be adaptable to their financial constraints in the interim, which may mean delayed payments or other creative solutions.

4. Make referrals easy

Small business owners are a community and they trust one another. If your solution helps one owner who’s willing to say so, others will be inclined to give you a shot. Make it easy for your customers to spread the word (electronically or otherwise) and provide referrals so that you can get a foot in the door with new prospects and capitalize on your successes.

5. Show how you’ll help them grow

All small business owners dream of growth and stability. If what you’re selling ties into growth, be sure to highlight that fact. Since many of your prospects are constantly worried about generating enough business, growth means security. If your service will bring growth and security, you’ll be a savior to your customers. It’s also helpful to highlight customer retention benefits. Repeat business is huge for small operations, so show them how your product or service keeps familiar faces coming through the door.

6. Build relationships

You’ll usually be dealing with a single person (the owner) when you work with small businesses. It’s rare to have access to the top dog in most industries, so make the most of this special opportunity and build a relationship. If you become more than just an expense to the owner—if you’re dependable, understanding, and flexible—you’ll set yourself up for a long-term relationship that withstands even the off-season.

We hope these tips were helpful! Have some other smart sales ideas? Let us know in the comments!

20 Jul 17:07

The Neuroscience of Sales: The Anchoring Effect

by Mark Bashrum

Why do car dealers still put sticker prices on car windows when we all know that “Dealer Invoice” is not what the dealer actually paid and MSRP is just an artificially inflated number? It would stand to reason that if we recognize this obvious sales tactic, it won’t work … but it does. In fact, experiments show that even a randomly generated price has a direct influence on what we are willing to pay for an item, even when we know that the price was randomly generated. This phenomenon, called the anchoring effect by social physiologists, suggests that we have a common human tendency to use the first available piece of information to make a decision. The initial information is the anchor and provides our brains with a mental shortcut when considering a decision, such as what a reasonable price is for a specific product or service.

The Anchoring Effect In Action

In 2006, Drazen Prelec and Dan Ariely of MIT conducted research to test just how influenced we are by an initial anchor price, even if we know that the price is completely disconnected from the value of the item we are buying. In the experiment, Prelec and Ariely auctioned off everyday items, such as a bottle of wine, a trackball, and a textbook, to their students. Before students could bid on an item, however, they were asked to write down the last two digits of their own social security number next to the item, as if it were the price. Amazingly, students with social security numbers from 80 to 99 paid significantly more for items than those with numbers from 00 to 19. For instance, those with high social security numbers, on average, paid $26 for a trackball, while those with low social security numbers paid an average of $9 for the exact same item. Even when students knew the number was unrelated to value, they could not overcome their subconscious bias. (Ariely, “Predictably Irrational” referenced by youarenotsosmart.com.)

Leveraging the Anchoring Effect in Your Sales Dialogue

So as a seller, should we artificially inflate our prices and let the anchoring effect work its magic? Probably not a good idea. There is an offsetting sales principle called “price integrity,” which, as it turns out, is essential for building trust and sustainable business relationships. We shouldn’t demand a higher price without demonstrating more benefit, and likewise, we shouldn’t lower our price without a reduction in benefit. In both directions, clients should expect and see integrity in our price.

Does that mean we should disregard the anchoring effect altogether? That doesn’t seem like a good idea either; clearly, there is power in this natural bias. As sellers of value, our objective should not be to inflate prices, but to use the anchoring effect to help us deliver the highest level of benefit for which our clients are willing to pay. This might mean layering our solutions in a good, better, and best approach for a particular need. Our best solution is our anchor and provides the most benefit to our client. Consequently, it has the highest price. If our client is unable or unwilling to purchase this solution, then we have established a point of reference for both benefit and price, allowing us to tier down our solution until we fit the highest level of benefit with the highest acceptable price.

To learn more about how an understanding of neuroscience can help you become a better sales person, check out these other articles: The Neuroscience of Sales: Unseating an Incumbent & The Neuroscience of Sales: Resolving Irrational Objections

Consultative Sales & the Neuroscience of Sales

The post The Neuroscience of Sales: The Anchoring Effect appeared first on Richardson Sales Training and Enablement Blog.

20 Jul 17:07

3 Steps To Turn Customer Care From Cost Center To Profit Center

by Salil Gupta

customer-care-profit-center

What if I told you that the call center could be one of the biggest revenue generators in your entire enterprise?

Today, the call center is seen by many COOs as a cost of doing business – a necessary evil – rather than as a revenue-generating group.

This negative perspective didn’t start overnight. It’s the result of a much broader changing tide.

Five or ten years ago, core call center activities would perform efficiently and effectively. Take outbound sales, for example. You had a challenge, and the typical buying behavior was to reach out to a salesperson, or have them reach out to you, to discuss potential solutions.

Today, though, consumers do their own research on the web, talking to salespeople as a final step (if ever at all!). Customers are also more interrupted than ever, with a million calls, emails, and advertisements vying for their attention. They screen cold calls, ignore solicitation emails, and are harder than ever to get in touch with.

Because of these new customer behaviors, when today’s call centers do outbound sales, they perform very poorly. This means that those activities are dragging down the efficiency and effectiveness of the overall call center team.

But the other side of the call center – customer service – is blooming because of those same changes to consumer behavior.

Customers want on-demand support, constantly putting calls into the support team looking for help with their service. When they do, effective customer care specialists can upsell and cross-sell organically, offering advice around complimentary products or service upgrades, and doing so in a non-interruptive way.

If the customer is calling about the shoes they just purchased, a good customer care specialist will be able to weave socks, shoe polish, and insoles into the service conversation. Today, this is the most efficient and effective way to create revenue through the call center.

Call center revenue generation doesn’t happen without a detailed end-to-end process, though.

These are the three big concepts to consider when building out your call center process for real revenue generation:

1. Training in the Art of the Soft Sell

Selling is not the primary function of customer support, but that doesn’t mean Care Specialists don’t need to be good at the soft sell.

Ensure that you’re training your customer support team to get to the heart of the customer’s challenge, steer the conversation around cross-sell and upsell opportunities, know the inventory and catalog inside and out, and don’t apply pressure. Your training program should revolve around the power of support and suggestion.

2. Set Goals & Objectives for Clarity

While the aim is not necessarily to create a sales culture within the customer support team, clear goals and objectives do need to be set so that the team knows what they are shooting for.

How much should your Care Specialists be selling each month? Based on their volume, how does that translate into conversion levels? What’s the average revenue per call across the team? With clearly defined metrics in place, this level of tracking becomes easy, and by monitoring how individual Care Specialists are performing, then they can be strategically motivated through positive feedback, incentives, and end-of-year performance appraisals.

3. Supercharge Conversions with Predictive Analytics

Finally, incorporating big data. Your customers have very particular tastes – no two are alike. How then, can a Care Specialist know what products or services to recommend? The answer lies in the customer data.

By knowing what customers have purchased in the past, and knowing what products and services generally complement or follow a purchase, the Care Specialist can truly add value to the customer experience.

Amazon has been a long-time leader in this kind of predictive analytics, and every company investing in customer experience should be following suit. By being smarter with data, it’s going to be easier to sell, the team’s conversion rates will increase, and the cost per interaction will decrease.

The Big Picture on Customer Care

At the end of the day, the goal of the customer support team is to provide the best possible level of service. For the call center to start driving real revenue, instead of simply being a cost of doing business, Care Specialists need to strike a balance between creating a great customer experience and being on the lookout for soft-sell revenue generating opportunities.

To be able to do that, the customer care team needs to be properly trained on cross-sell and upsell skills, they need to understand their team’s goals and individual objectives, and they need the support of predictive care analytics to supercharge their conversion rates.

Is your call center simply a cost of doing business, or is it a revenue generating machine?

20 Jul 17:06

Negotiate Salary Based on What You Do, Not Who You Are

by Kristin Wong

You’ve heard the words “your worth” in the context of income, and if you’re anything like me, it makes you cringe. It implies there’s a price on your value as a person, but the phrase refers to the work you do, not who you are. Writer Libby Kane points out that this is an important distinction when it comes to negotiating.

Read more...

20 Jul 17:06

Debunking 3 Misunderstandings About Outsourced Sales Partners

by Diana Cárdenas

Although B2B sales outsourcing provides numerous financial and logistical advantages over handling all of your sales functions in-house, misunderstandings about what outsourcing involves are common. These misunderstandings can create dead ends in your path to finding the right outsourced sales and lead generation partner.

The confusion arises from a lack of clarity about the underlying model for an agreement with a sales partner: It’s a solutions-based contract, not a transaction-based contract. In this way, it’s more like finding someone to paint your house than it is like buying new tires for your car: There’s no standardized product involved, just an array of options, offered by providers with widely varied competence. Your challenge is to find the exact options you need, and the sales and lead generation partner that can provide them most effectively.

Start your buying journey by understanding the truth about outsourcing programs:

1. Outsourcing Programs Aren’t One-Size-Fits-All Solutions

Some low-price, low-value services are more concerned with fitting you into their pre-packaged offerings than they are with providing solutions for the pains you’re experiencing.

Your unique needs could involve some combination of inside sales, lead generation and nurturing, channel marketing, database building and maintenance – or more. Don’t settle for an out-of-the-box solution that solves some of your sales troubles but misses others. You also don’t want to pay for functions and services that you don’t need, just because they come with a standard program.

2. Outsourcing Programs Aren’t Equal Across All Providers

Since choosing an outsourced sales partner is a solutions-based purchase, you need to look not just at the services potential partners are offering, but the quality of the results that those partners will deliver. For instance, the complex nature of the sales lead generation process means that each firm competing for your business will offer a very different program. More importantly, their results will be very different as well.

These differences make comparison shopping challenging: You should be more concerned with finding the best value, in terms of the projected ROI, and not just the lowest price.

3. Outsourcing Programs Aren’t Services That You Set And Forget

A great partner will minimize your workload or manage the program to your needs, but success requires collaboration. Whether you outsource your entire sales department or just certain functions or channels, it is essential that you work cooperatively with your partner.

If a potential partner tells you that you’ll rarely have to meet with the client services team, view that as a red flag: You should work with a partner that wants to work with you.

Using these three guideposts and asking the right questions as you search for an outsourced sales partner will help you find your way to greater results.

20 Jul 17:06

Forget Nintendo, 'Pokémon Go' could be worth billions of dollars to Apple

by Jason Abbruzzese
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We already know that Pokémon Go has caught the attention of the business world, with the value of Nintendo more than doubling thanks to its interest in the game. 

It doesn't stop there. 

The app could be worth a Wailord-sized $3 billion in revenue to Apple, thanks to the cut of any money the company takes from companies that operate in its app store.

That is according to analyst Laura Martin at investment bank Needham & Co, who said in a note on Wednesday that Apple has even more Pokémon upside than Nintendo, especially if the game spawns a series of successful copycats.

"We think AAPL’s near-term economics are better than Nintendo’s, with lower risk because its upside is not tied to a single mobile game property," she wrote. Read more...

More about Gaming, Business, Ios, Pokemon Go, and Apple
20 Jul 17:06

How to Boost Slow Product Adoption After Onboarding

by Kevin Garcia

Onboarding is a crucial time to provide the training and resources that customers need to make the most out of your product. While many customers might be able to quickly ramp up after onboarding, there are some customers that are slow to adopt the features needed to achieve first value.

turtles

If you are seeing slow product adoption with your customers, here are a few ways to help turn things around:

Informed Customer Communication

The way customers engage with your product is constantly changing, even right after onboarding. The key is understanding whether their new pattern is still appropriate for their business goals.

For example, a customer might have each team member manage a specific function within your product. In this case, you should not focus on individual feature adoption as a metric of success. Instead, you should focus on daily usage and how each team member is driving value. To do this, you will need to know what’s going on behind the customer wall and use what you learn to drive informed customer communications. Without a solid understanding of product consumption at the account and user level, it is very difficult to speed up adoption.

Managing Larger Issues

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Let’s assume the consumption data shows that you have a larger adoption issue. Make sure to figure out the specific reason and the scope so you can develop a focused action plan.

If the problem is lack of customer training, get proactive and schedule more training time with the specific individuals affected. By only training specific users, you are being respectful of the team’s time and are able to run a more personalized training.

If the problem is lack of feature awareness or functionalities within the product, arrange an outbound communication or training that shows the customer how they can solve other business needs with your product. Oftentimes, other customers are equally unaware, so building a scalable program around these kinds of initiatives is very valuable.

Make Sure to Follow Up

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Don’t expect one phone call or an extra training to solve product adoption overnight. You should be monitoring your customer’s progress over time and reaching out with additional support and resources throughout their customer journey. Finding first value will help motivate them to use the product more, but it is up to your team to ensure they keep finding value over time.


If your current process for customer monitoring, training, and follow-up is overwhelming, Totango can help your team focus and prioritize the work with robust customer monitoring and automated tasks and programs. Request a demo today!

20 Jul 17:02

Keeping Your Business Blog In Style

by Melanie Green

Trends come and trends go. This is the hard truth for not only the fashion or entertainment industry, but also for privately-owned businesses and industries. It is always important to make sure that your local business is following the current trends, both in quality and design. With the internet revolution and growth of social media, businesses now have an easier time to promote their industry online to new customers. Every company should therefore have a website or a blog where they can promote their services or products, but it is also important to always update your company’s site so that it looks appealing and interesting to the viewer. Here are a few signs of when your company might be out of date and in need of an update:

1. Design is the key to success, and a good blog must be both easy on the eyes and in the instructions. Therefore, a template that looks like it has not been changed for over 10 years might be unappealing to potential buyers. If that is your case, then it might be a good idea to look at different websites and their layouts for inspiration and update your blog so that it is both visually striking, informal, and easy to follow. Choose a font that is easy and fun to read and also make sure to personalize your business blog with different images that relate to your business. Good images of your different services or products can enhance the credit of both your site and your company, and the customer will get a better idea of your company’s values and offers. Personalized images will also give your business more personality and make it more memorable. So, make sure that it stands out!

2. Take it easy with the keywords! Much like how you would not over-accessorize in real life, make sure not to add too many keywords as accessories on your site. Think of it as more is less. Having a lot of keywords is a trend that is slowly dying out, and instead, modern bloggers today focus instead on the quality of their content.

3. Update your blog with enough metadata. A good example of metadata is the categorization of all articles that happens on different news websites or information pages. Metadata makes monitoring, interpretation, searching and sorting, much easier and more efficient, and one of the most common applications of metadata is used in the document heads to provide answers, such as document author, name, title, identity, edition and date. If you are looking to update your business blog, add more metadata so that the user can get better search results, and more information on your business.

20 Jul 17:02

Reviews or Comparisons: Choosing The Right Content Approach

by Larry Alton

Two of the most popular ways to present products are review posts that focus on the details of a single product and side-by-side comparisons that allow buyers to look at competing options. But while both of these strategies have strengths, which one has the best overall sales advantage? The answer likely has more to do with the products than the presentation strategies themselves.

This means that your goal should be to match your products with the right format for their particular characteristics, rather than rely too heavily on what you might consider the stronger strategy. You can’t sell everything the same way, but you can understand the sales process and execute it more effectively.

Side-By-Side: The Specs Approach

Most consumers are familiar with side-by-side comparison shopping because they associate it with buying products like laptop computers and smartphones – products that need to perform specific tasks and have similar competitors. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see tech specs listed in charts comparing one product to another so that consumers can see exactly how they line up.

This strategy is effective for computers and other high-importance items because they can help potential buyers narrow in on what might be considered key customer pain points. If you can identify the challenge a product meets and then point to how different products successfully (or unsuccessfully) address that issue by posting a comparison, then side-by-side spec reviews can also enhance purchases and customer satisfaction.

Side-By-Side: Moving Less Popular Products

Another scenario in which side-by-side comparisons are helpful is when you’ve got a few products in your inventory that just don’t sell very well. Maybe you’ve had them listed at a sale price for months or aren’t moving through your stock of something and it’s stuck in your warehouse. In these cases, using a price comparison can be a good way to push a poorly selling product along.

This works well when there aren’t enough competitors for an item or a base knowledge of expected cost for buyers to use as an anchor point. Putting two similar products on the market at different price points can help the less expensive one build sales momentum because it looks like a steal compared to its higher priced counterpart.

The Review: Getting to the Details

Obviously, a specs approach to comparison shopping is a fairly detailed take on a product, but it’s still less likely to be comprehensive than a direct review of a single product. That’s because side-by-side comparisons are great at reviewing objective details about products, but reviews are better able to capture the subjective factors – a reviewer who you have a lot in common with is more likely to offer you helpful information than one you’ve disagreed with in the past.

Reviews can also stretch beyond specs. It’s one thing to say “this mattress is made of foam” and another to talk about the “personalized sleep experience.” The former fits in a spec comparison – material types and quality – but what does the latter mean in a comparison? It’s worth discussing, but it needs a different context.

The Review: Customer Perspectives

A second way to harness reviews is to call on customers to give them. Customer reviews can increase sales rates dramatically, both by increasing the likelihood that people will buy in the first place, and by increasing sales rates when customer reviews reach a critical amount.

For obvious reasons, customers trust reviews by other users more than they do those that come from retailers or paid product testers. Customer reviews also help your website by providing fresh injections of content, which can draw more attention to a product. That’s why it’s worthwhile to send out surveys or solicit other forms of feedback with permission to use them on your site. Customers will also be flattered that you value their opinion.

The Bottom Line

Marketing is a science, and how you present and review your products makes a big difference in how successful you are. When trying to choose a format, look at what your potential comparison points might be as well as what information you think really matters to buyers. Then choose the format that allows you to foreground that information.

Ultimately, the right marketing strategy is the one that equips your customers to make smart product choices.

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20 Jul 17:01

Canadian businesses catch Pokemon Go fever, trying to capitalize on the craze

by CB Staff

TORONTO – The Pokemon Go sign directing people to the front door of Rock Candy Boutique in Halifax has only been up for a week, but Jeff Powers says he is already seeing it pay off.

“Downtown is alive in a way that I haven’t seen in a long, long time,” said Powers, a manager at the store, which sells various rock music T-shirts, hoodies, hats and other paraphernalia.

“There is just a flood from everybody, from young kids to older adults, and you can tell they’re playing this game.”

That would be Pokemon Go, which officially launched in Canada on Sunday. The wildly popular video game sends players on a quest to find superimposed animated characters on a map-like interface using the camera on their smartphones. It is currently the most downloaded app in the Apple app store.

Powers said Tuesday the sign has brought people into the store who wouldn’t normally shop there but hear it’s a good place to play the augmented reality video game.

“This has just blown up bigger than anybody has expected,” he said, adding that the various Pokemon merchandise the store carries have also been flying off the shelves.

“It leads people to travel down streets they normally wouldn’t. It’s bringing a lot of foot traffic down to the side streets and a lot of people are coming in and buying things because they were just in the area.”

Some Canadian businesses have been jumping on the craze by actively encouraging potential customers to use their shops as PokeStops or Pokemon gyms — locations to play the game.

But marketing professor Ken Wong cautioned that although it may seem like a no-brainer for businesses to capitalize on Pokemon Go’s popularity, it can also backfire.

“It’s a statement of what your brand is, who it stands for and who it seeks to appeal to,” said Wong, who is with the Stephen J.R. Smith School of Business at Queen’s University.

“While it may generate traffic for you, whether or not that traffic generates profitability in the short, and more importantly, long term is a different story. If you’re in a business that needs a promotion to stay in business, you’re already on a slippery slope.”

Wong said the publicity stunt would mostly profit businesses that appeal to the biggest demographic of Pokemon Go players or have a link to the game — for example, stores that sell cellphone accessories or comic books.

There may be a potential to grow business in the short term, but he doesn’t see that enduring.

“Eventually the novelty will wear off. There will always be diehards but it’s no different than the Trivial Pursuit craze,” he said.

“If you are the right kind of business, get in as soon as you can when the fad has the greatest duration of effect, because if you wait too long, the fad will be over.”

In Toronto, Peter Coulter set up a chalkboard sign Monday outside his optical store featuring a promotion offering passersby a free glasses cleaning if they can capture a Pokemon creature inside.

Although he says he hasn’t seen any direct sales from the sign, he stands behind it.

“It’s quite the phenomenon,” said the manager of Optical Thirty 8. “The sign was just something catchy to encourage people to come in and use their phones so we can show them some of our services and at the same time, maybe they’ll buy some new glasses.”

Follow @LindaNguyenTO on Twitter.

The post Canadian businesses catch Pokemon Go fever, trying to capitalize on the craze appeared first on Canadian Business - Your Source For Business News.

20 Jul 17:01

3 Strategies to Make Sure Even the Flakiest Prospects Show Up

by sbelt@hubspot.com (Sam Belt)

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After weeks of emailing and calling, you finally land a meeting with one of your more elusive prospects.

When the big day rolls around, you've done your prep and are raring to go. You dial into the call early just to make sure you're on time.

Five minutes go by and your prospect hasn't called you. "They're probably just running a little late,"

After 10 minutes, you send the "reminder" email.

You're still more alone than Will Smith in I Am Legend (and he at least had a dog) 15 minutes in, and that's when the realization sets in: You've been no-showed.

If you're most people, your first reaction to this scneario will be: "Is there anything I could have done differently to prevent this?"

Why Preventing No-Shows Is Important

No-shows are a silent quota killer.

Ask any salesperson why they missed quota on a given month, and you can pretty much expect to hear the same laundry list of explanations:

  • "The leads were bad."
  • "I did not do enough prospecting."
  • "All my big deals fell through at the last minute."

I've never heard someone say "I got no showed too much," but no-shows are just as dangerous over time as any of the above for two reasons:

  1. They prevent active deals from moving forward.
  2. They represent a large opportunity cost on your resources.

The first harm is obvious and needs little explanation, but to illustrate the second, here's an example:

Recently, I had a day of back-to-back sales meetings, when a prospect -- let's call them Company X -- that was a great fit popped up on my radar unexpectedly that morning.

Company X was hoping to meet ASAP because they were on a tight timeline, but their only availability was during a slot I already had a meeting booked with a different prospect. We were able to make something work a few days later, but this cut it close with their decision date.

Fast forward to the slot they'd wanted, and lo and behold, the original prospects I was supposed to meet with no-showed.

I frantically tried to see if Company X was still available, but their schedule had long filled up. I ended losing the deal to a competitor at least partly due to their immediate need for a solution.

This story exemplifies that the real cost of a no show is not just the time you spend waiting -- it's the other deal you could have been moving forward during that time.

After all, there are a finite number of hours in a day that you can spend actively having coversations with your potential buyers. To sacrifice any of them to someone who stands you up has a large cost that compounds over time.

How to Combat No-Shows

There are two kinds of personas who will no-show you:

  1. Prospects who are no longer engaged in the sales process, but are not upfront about it ("Ghost Gary")
  2. People who are actually engaged, but have a ton on their plate ("Busy Brianne")

You can use the three strategies below to deal with both of these persona types effectively and reduce the cost of no-shows on your resources.

1) Book meetings with a purpose.

Much of the time, the manner in which meetings are booked holds the greatest weight in determining whether or not the other party shows up.

Avoid scheduling 'update calls' or 'check-ins' -- you're just asking to be blown off by a "Busy Brianne." Be explicit about why the meeting is important, and give your prospect a real reason to show up.

Here's one way you can phrase the follow-up meeting request so this so that the other party understands the value of the meeting and shows up:

Typically I find that after you see our competitors' solutions, it is beneficial to go over the differences between the platforms so you can make an informed decision. Do you think you would benefit from this? If so, what times work for you this week?"

Instead of booking an ambiguous check-in call, you have now given your prospect an explicit agenda for the meeting that is tied to an incentive they have as a buyer.

Not sure if your next meeting is built on a solid foundation or quicksand? Before proposing a meeting with a prospect, ask yourself the following: "If I was a busy person with a packed calendar, and I saw this meeting on my calendar with a salesperson I just met, would I show up to it?"

If the answer is no, rethink why you are requesting a meeting in the first place.

As salespeople, we often think that deals are dead in the water if there is not another step with the potential client on our calendars. That's often true, but I would rather have an empty calendar than a calendar full of meetings that are empty of purpose. Let dead deals lie and spend your time on ones that could close.

2) Send a pre-meeting "affirmation email."

Even if you've booked a meeting with purpose, the battle is far from over.

Priorities shift -- you are not selling in a vacuum. Your prospect is likely meeting with other companies as well as internally with other stakeholders, and a lot can change between the day you book the meeting and the day it happens.

For that reason, I always send a pre-meeting "affirmation email."

For an early discovery meeting, this email might be just be a list of qualifying questions. I sell HubSpot Sales, and the following email is an abbreviated version of an email I might send:

 

Hi <<first name>>,

I am looking forward to our meeting this week. In order to help me prepare could you please answer the following questions:

  1. What CRM do you use currently?
  2. What email client do you use?
  3. Is there any particular part of your sales process you are hoping to improve?

Best,
Sam

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This email helps you gather important context to make the meeting productive (or disqualify right off the bat). It also plays an important role in preventing no-shows by reminding the prospect of the impending meeting, and provides an implicit contract through their response to the questions that they will be attending.

If you do not get a reply to this email after a friendly reminder or two, odds are you're dealing with a "Ghost Gary." It may be worth canceling the meeting altogether so you get the time back in your day to book with someone who is actually an active buyer.

For a meeting later on in the sales process, the email would probably look more like this:

 

Hi <<first name>>,

When we last met we agreed that you would __________ , and we would then meet to ____________. Is this still your expectation for our meeting this week? I want to make sure I am prepared if so.

Best,
Sam

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I recommend saving these emails as templates so you can easily automate sending and personalizing them out from your inbox or CRM.

3) If they no-show, implement a follow-up process.

Even with flawless preparation, no-shows will always be a fact of life. How you respond to a no-show is equally as important to how you prepare for your meetings.

Your immediate emotional reaction may be to say "screw it," shut down the deal, and never follow up again. While this is advisable for a "Ghost Gary" who was never worth your time in the first place, it is important not to lose the "Busy Briannes" who are still engaged.

A good way to deal with this situation is to send automated personal emails to re-schedule meetings with the prospect. This way you do not waste too much time on the Garys, who won't respond anyway, but still capitalize on the Briannes. Here is an example of a three-email sequence I use:

Email 1:

Meeting today?

Hi <<first name>>,

I waited for 10 minutes today on the line before ending the call as I did not hear from you. Don't worry, I know how busy things can get this time of year.

Let's find a new time to meet? You can see my availability here: <<insert link to calendar booking tool>>

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Email 2:

Re: Meeting Today

Hi <<first name>>,

I wanted to follow up as you had not responded to my initial email to reschedule -- any particular reason I have not heard back yet?

If this is still a priority, please find sometime on my calendar here: <<insert link to calendar booking tool>>

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Email 3:

One final try

Hi <<first name>>,

At this point as I have not heard back from you after missing our meeting, I am assuming you are no longer interested in __________.

If you have just been jammed up, please let me know or grab sometime with me here: <<insert link to calendar booking tool>>

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You Are Not Powerless To Stop No-Shows

A no-show here and there won't make or break your success any given month. But at the end of the day, every extra hour you spend with active, engaged buyers counts.

If you do not combat no-shows, your sales cycle will get longer and the amount of calories you spend closing deals will increase, but you'll only be working more to generate the same output as your peers who manage their calendar more adeptly. Even more importantly, you might miss out on opportunities to spend time with engaged buyers if you fail to manage them effectively. The techniques above could make the difference between good and great long-term sales performance

Email tool in HubSpot CRM

20 Jul 17:00

Mastering the Art of Prospect Engagement

by Sudha Bahumanyam

Prospect engagement with marketing automation and email marketing doesn’t need to be a mystery. As these technologies advance and the capabilities expand, there are those who don’t use it well and those who do.

Weak
Including more than 2 CTAs in an email. It will only confuse your audience and dilute your expected results.

Strong
Lengthen the engagement; create touches at a cadence that makes sense for your buyer’s buying cycle and include new CTAs as additional touch points in a nurturing initiative. Repeat the same CTA at least twice in your email or twice as a button and once in the text for better results.

This keeps the conversation going with your prospective buyers, and allows you to test what’s working and what’s not as you optimize the prospect experience. According to Herbert Krugman’s, “The Impact of Television Advertising: Learning without Involvement,” a person has to be exposed to something at least 3 times before it registers as a true reminder. This is a similar idea, just applied to email.

Weak
Custom-code mailto: links (especially as your primary CTA). Sure, it’s possible and we’ve all seen it: you click an email, and an auto-populated compose message pops up in your outlook. This is not only annoying, but it’s not trackable in certain platforms. If a tree falls in a forest… you get the idea.

Strong
Include CTAs like:

  • Learn more
  • Tell me more
  • Request additional info
  • Speak with our experts

The CTAs then lead to a form, 5-7 fields max. Add some pre-population and progressive profiling as it makes sense. If you really want to kick the hot leads over to sales, ideate a lead scoring model that makes sense and creates delineated thresholds for what is mutually defined (between marketing and sales counterparts) as a marketing qualified lead (MQL).

Taking a definitive and strategic approach to your marketing automation efforts will reap benefits across the board for you and your department:

  • Better alignment with sales
  • A more streamlined and duplicatable process
  • Trackable results to optimize marketing initiatives

I once had a boss who said, “If it’s not repeatable, scalable processes, do not talk to me about it.”

Weak
Pre-show and post-show engagement emails. As a last ditch effort, yes, it fits the bill. As a longer engagement, not really.

Treating email as a conversation rather than an information board adds a human element to your campaigns. Keep the emails short and concise and stay top of mind, rather than doing what 98% of the market does with event-related email.

Strong
Create a 4-5 touch email campaign. Send 2 emails prior to the show, 2 emails during the show for those who click through or register, and 1-2 emails post show.

People plan their engagements, and it’s respectful and more fruitful to give advance notice, even in B2B and B2C marketing. If you have a greater presence (i.e. a networking event, exclusive party or a sponsored dinner) at an event and want to get maximum mileage out of it, start the marketing communications 4-6 weeks in advance.

Mastering the art of prospect engagement doesn’t have to be complicated. Be consistent and strategic, and you’re good to go!

20 Jul 17:00

To Increase Sales, Get Customers to Commit a Little at a Time

by Frank V. Cespedes
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Most sales models include a conversion funnel in which reps try to convert a marketing-generated lead into a prospect and then a customer through sequential steps. In this model, sales people are expected to make the process as friction-less as possible for the potential buyer and to close the deal at the end by using certain phrases and techniques to “overcome objections.” This perspective is promoted in books and seminars, but research indicates it is not how people buy.

As one of us noted in a previous article, buyers work their way through parallel streams (rather than a funnel) as they explore, evaluate, and engage in purchase decisions via web sites, white papers, social media, and contact with other buyers through sites like Marketo, and so on.

This why the end of a sales process is the worst time to handle objections — prospects typically contemplate their objections long before “close,” and, to avoid conflict, often cite a socially-acceptable rationale such as price, which may not be the real barrier to buying. To better address this reality, sellers should ask prospects to make incremental commitments throughout the process.

Along with improving sales results, research has shown that incremental commitments can boost charitable giving, increase show rates for blood drives, and reduce smoking. In a seminal study, a team posing as volunteer workers canvassed a neighborhood and asked residents to put a large “Drive Carefully” billboard in their front yards. Most residents, over 80%, refused to do so, mostly because the signs would have obstructed the views of their homes. Researchers had better luck in a near-by neighborhood, however, by first asking residents to display a smaller, three-inch sign that read “Be a Safe Driver.” This request was met with almost universal acceptance. Then, two weeks later, when researchers returned and asked this second-group of homeowners to put the large “Drive Carefully” billboards in their front yards, 76% agreed to do so.

An incremental approach to sales has many benefits. It allows reps to glean more information from prospects and to gauge their commitment rather than just their comprehension — a crucial difference in a customer conversation. Usually, reps are taught to listen for phrases from prospects such as “that makes sense” or “that’s a valid point” or nonverbal signals such as head nods. But these cues mean only that a prospect is comprehending what you’re saying. They’re analogous to the conversational si in Spanish and many other languages, which means “I hear you,” not “I agree with you.”

Commitment, on the other hand, requires action. For instance, if you were to periodically prompt prospects to confirm that they agree with the data or objective you’ve cited, and then ask them if they’d be willing to act on that agreement via some small action, you’d receive much clearer feedback. If the prospect commits, you can move on; if not, you should identify the objection or barrier, and deal with it.

Because incremental commitments are so vital, you must be intentional in securing them. As a general rule, the earlier you can identify objections, the more likely the sale will occur.

Incremental commitments can also convince prospects to change, which is vital in selling new products or services. Unless the proposed benefits of a new product significantly outweigh their perceived losses of a change, prospects tend to stick with what they know, a phenomenon known as the endowment effect. The incremental-commitment approach can help to overcome status-quo inertia.

Consider Paccar, a designer and manufacturer of premium trucks, which has consistently introduced new products and maintained a price premium of 10-20% over its rivals. One reason for Paccar’s success is its online interactive that shows potential customers the expenses that accrue during the lifetime of owning a truck. You can input gasoline costs, tire rolling coefficients, and vehicle weight to quantify the benefits of a Paccar truck versus those of competitors. You can do the same for resale value, maintenance, driver retention (useful data if you run a fleet), and financing costs.

The interactive makes it easy for prospects to comprehend the relative economics at play and allows them to make small but meaningful commitments during the search and sale process, alleviating their fears. This is no small feat since truck owners, like Harley riders, are often beholden to a particular brand, and sometimes even tattoo its logo on their bodies. The process also improves prospecting and sales productivity because it allows reps to gauge the willingness of customers to commit before Paccar devotes expensive resources to closing the deal.

Other companies have found similar success. One firm, which sells complex technical services to telecom companies, was spending 9 to 12 months of its 24-to-30 month selling cycle in proof-of-concept meetings with multiple groups at the customer — a big sunk cost if the sale was not closed. By instituting  demos at various parts of their buyers’ journeys, the firm decreased its selling cycle by 6 to 12 months, increased close rates, and freed-up more time for selling to other prospects.

To add to that, many companies are using content marketing campaigns to uncover potential objections, generate initial commitments to successive aspects of their value propositions, and identify more promising leads. This is more productive than relying on downloaded white papers or blogs, which often generate a broad and often unproductive array of leads.

New sales enablement tools are making it possible to make incremental commitments a measurable pipeline activity. Showpad and other services allow reps to forward materials to prospects and observe how the prospect engages (or not) with the content. Does the prospect look at the price list? Does she forward the document to others in the buying unit? Which collateral or trial offers do and do not generate action? This helps to pinpoint where incremental commitments can be best located.

It’s important to keep in mind that it’s not the customer’s responsibility to make selling easy; it’s the seller’s job to align sales activities with actual buying behavior. So don’t treat closing as the last step of a linear process; instead, you should always be closing — always — throughout the sales process via incremental commitments.

20 Jul 17:00

B2B Marketing 101

by Angie Geffen

B2B-Marketing-101

B2B brands face special challenges when trying to reach their clients because they are businesses also and know all the “tricks of the trade” for trying to increase sales and leads. Selling to a business is like trying to tell a joke to a comedian, or show a magician how to do a trick, or sing Happy Birthday to a pop star. Unless you really know what you’re doing, you aren’t going to make the impact you want.

However, selling to other brands doesn’t have to be that hard — they do still need to invest in products or services to run their own operation, and if you have what they need to get ahead, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to land the sale. All you need is a little B2B marketing 101:

Really Get to Know Your Audience

Whether you are marketing to individual consumers or Fortune 500 companies, the first thing you need to do when creating a marketing campaign is to really get to know your audience. You can’t settle at basics like “small business” or “people who need finance software.” You need to define your audience as narrowly as you can without rejecting potential clients.

For example, you may sell finance software, and you may define your audience as “companies with 50 to 100 employees who have an operating budget of xxx dollars and perform professional services in house.”

You can narrow your audience by industry, company size, budget, location, and terms of operation. You can find out this information about your potential clients by looking at their own published materials, conducting focus groups, or even hiring a market research company. With a narrowly defined audience, you can create a targeted marketing campaign that you can measure. You can then create the strategies that are more likely to be successful.

Provide Solutions

Your audience doesn’t care about what you have to sell — they care about solving their problems. If you can show that your product or service helps them to solve a problem, you can make them care about what you have to sell. But before you do that, you often have to solve other problems for them by providing informative articles and white papers, video tutorials, and other content.

Whether you are writing content for your blog or you are interacting on social media, if you just keep in mind that your primary goal should be to solve a problem for your audience, you will be more successful. That goal should be in mind for every tweet you send, every comment you make in a group, and every post you publish on LinkedIn. Providing solutions will attract more readers and followers, who will become a captive audience when you are ready to promote your own products and services.

Become an Authority

More so than with B2C marketing, you have to establish yourself as a real authority to find success with B2B marketing. Businesses have too much on the line to waste their time — and their money — on products or services that will not give them what they need. You can establish your authority in a number of ways, such as through content marketing, referral marketing, and community marketing.

Perhaps the easiest way to establish your authority is through content marketing since all you really need is a blog and a quality point of view. Besides writing content that provides real value for your readers, you need to write extensively and authoritatively on a subject. You can start with your current blog and look for any gaps in your coverage. Write about those niche topics that you haven’t yet covered, or write more in-depth on those topics you have already covered. Turn your site into a true resource for your clients and then share that content across your channels.

Measure Your Results

You can’t know if your marketing campaign is successful if you don’t have clearly defined goals and if you aren’t measuring your results. You can measure your results by looking at the sales or leads you bring in following the launch of a specific campaign. You can measure them by monitoring your web traffic, your social media likes, or other forms of engagement. You can also measure them by monitoring your site’s ranking in search.

Again, it is important that you define your goals before you start your campaign. If you want to increase sales but you only get an increase in web traffic, that campaign could be considered a failure. You might leverage that traffic for more sales later, or that traffic could fizzle out after that initial bump. It doesn’t have to be hard to get results with B2B marketing, but you do have to be methodical and you do have to be consistent. Follow these basic tips to help you get started and to start seeing results.

20 Jul 17:00

Pausing to Consider the Hamster Wheel of Marketing

by Frank Strong

Rethinking the Hamster Wheel of Marketing

There’s a new way game Twitter and gain followers that goes like this: perform searches for keywords and hashtags on topics of interest and then go about “liking” as many of these posts as possible in the hopes that those accounts will follow you.

There are some emerging tech tools that will automate part of this process – making it ever easier. An algorithm sifts through posts based on criteria you’ve selected – keywords or hashtags – and presents dozens of tweets at a time for your liking.

You don’t have to actually read these tweets, or the underlying links if there are any. Just simply like a bunch of them. You know that feeling you get when someone likes your tweets? That’s what you are doing here but at a manufacturing scale.

Some people I’ve spoken to swear this is a sound way to grow a Twitter audience and (ostensibly) gain online influence. To me, it’s a gimmick and such gimmicks on Twitter are about as old as Twitter itself.

The classic ploy is to follow a bunch of people knowing most will follow you back – and then secretly unfollow them a few days later. With just a little effort you’ll be able to grow a sizable following on Twitter.

More importantly, gamers believe, the number of people that follow you will, by all outward appearances, rapidly outpace the number of people you follow. The implicit message? Followers and ratios as a hallmark of online influence.

In reality, this is nothing more than a superficial fabrication.

As with the previous example, there are tools here too that will automate aspects of this technique as well, which arguably removes the “social” from social media.

More importantly, what is the value to the business and what is it that drives marketers to such ends?

Pausing to Consider the Hamster Wheel of Marketing-quote

More is Never Enough

At first glance, such words might sound technophobic, but they are not. I believe technology gives us leverage, but like Peter Thiel says in his book Zero to One, it works best when it augments humanity rather than replaces it.

There’s an old saying in public relations circles that you’re only as good as your last hit – you always need more placements. And that gets to the core of the point here – this is about the psychology of more in marketing: more content, more followers, and more leads.

It never ends. It is never enough.

As a result, marketing finds itself on the hamster wheel of more. Marketing rarely slows down to consider the impact or stops to analyze the results beyond the idea those metrics that suggest we are getting more.

And while it’s not always conscious or by design, sometimes, that leads us to gimmicks.

  • We can cultivate more followers, but is that the same thing as influence? Research shows 60% of people share links without reading. Perhaps measures of more meaningful engagement are better KPIs than the volume of shares.
  • We can get more leads but of what quality? Perhaps there’s a better way to nurture or otherwise engage the respondent who registered to downloaded a white paper than having sales hit them up immediately with phone calls, voicemails and emails.

* * *

Maybe the metrics for more are right and they are working for your business. But the next time you feel the pressure for more, pause for a moment to consider: If we do get more does that help us meet the business goals?

Absent that pause marketing is on a hamster wheel where running faster looks industrious, but otherwise, doesn’t accomplish much. And that isn’t a whole lot different than the absurdity of gaming Twitter for followers.

Note: A version of this post was originally published on Sword and the Script under the title The Psychology of More in Content Marketing and Social Media.

Photo credit: Flickr, Ian Norman, Human Hamster Wheel (CC BY-SA 2.0)