Shared posts

22 Apr 18:33

11 Genius Productivity Hacks You Need to Know

by Larry Kim

Most of the time, being more productive means striking a better work-life balance and learning to mitigate the little stressors that eat away at efficiency and the psyche.

These hacks will help you maximize your time and happiness.

1. Know Thyself

What time are you at peak productivity? Now schedule your most crucial tasks during that time. If you’re a genius between the hours of 10 p.m. and midnight, then by golly, do whatever you have to do to block off that time and get ‘er done.

If you need a little help discovering your peak productivity, check out this app that promises to help you find it.

And if you work from home, here are some special hacks just for you.

2. Skip Facebook

It may be tempting to log in and just *peek* at what your news feed is up to, but that’s a dangerous move when you’re trying to get something done. Before you know it, you’re tangled in a web of cute animal videos and profilestalking, and it’s 30 minutes later before you realize you’ve entered the Facebook time warp.

One study showed 23 percent of workers cited Facebook as the destination to “waste time.”

But what if it’s your job to manage social media profiles for a company? Try staying within scheduling apps like Hootsuite so you’re not tempted to log in — or check out the Facebook at Work product that promises to keep work and personal separate on the network — and limit distractions from screaming goats.

3. Ditch the Smartphone

The average smartphone user checks his or her device 221 times a day.Putting your cell phone out of sight during work hours helps get it off your mind — unless you’re so far gone that you experience phantom cell-phone vibrations. In that case, start rethinking your relationship with technology.

4. Forget Multitasking and Just Focus

You might think you’re being more productive by sending those emails during a conference call, but think again. Multitasking reduces efficiency and the quality of work (plus, research shows it literally lowers your IQ). So when you have to get something done, just focus on the task at hand for best results.

And keep in mind that studies show the human brain can only focus for 90 to 120 minutes at a time before it needs a break.

5. Reimagine Your Inbox

Emails build a to-do list that other people create for you. So you need to manage that daily annoyance somehow.

Schedule certain times of the day that you check email, and stick with it. You can try tackling email first thing in the morning, after lunch, and at the end of day. And for God’s sake, turn off email notifications.

If you think this is going to be a problem for your teams or clients, let them know ahead of time how you communicate throughout the day.

You can also look into apps that let you get a handle on your inbox, like Productive Inbox , SimplyFile, or Boomerang for Gmail.

6. Change Your Scenery

If you’re feeling a little foggy midafternoon, try looking out the window into nature. No window? No problem — one study found simply looking at a computerized image of nature helped increase focus.

Even better though is to take a short walk outside. Research shows that a 30-minute lunchtime walk can help people cope with stress and boosts enthusiasm for the remainder of the afternoon.

7. Meditate

Just 15 minutes of mindfulness meditation can lead to more rational business decisions — not to mention better teamwork, being more creative, and a whole slew of health benefits.

Not the yogi type? Try the Headspace app, which has brought meditation to the masses. So go ahead and get your ohm on.

8. Ask for Help and Delegate

There is power in numbers. And frankly, there are things you’re just not good at and probably don’t want to do. When you’re feeling overwhelmed with tasks or underwhelmed by the tedious work on your plate, ask for help.

Guaranteed there is someone out there who can do the tasks you don’t want to 10 times better (try looking in Upwork), so find the person and delegate!

9. Create Innovation Time

Google made famous the idea of giving team members a percentage of time to work outside their normal projects and on what they think would most benefit the company.

If you’re constantly “doing,” you have no time to innovate. Making the same widget day after day does not allow you to think about what new widgets you might make.

Try setting aside time to work on something that will move the needle.

10. Be Agile

The agile approach to building products and software and managing projects is finding its way into other areas of business and even into people’s personal lives.

A popular method is Scrum (an agile framework), which breaks large tasks into smaller items that are worked on and completed typically within a one-week sprint.

11. Get Ergonomic

Sitting is the new smoking, don’t you know. And some research suggests that even if you exercise but still sit for long periods of time, your health is at risk. Not to mention aches, pains, and fatigue can be a real productivity killer.

Luckily, there’s been innovation in workstations that offer affordable sit-standoptions, chairs that move with you more naturally, desks that recline and even allow you to take a nap. (By the way, napping has also been linked with productivity.)

Originally posted on Inc.com

22 Apr 18:32

How to Analyze Your Competitors in 7 Easy Steps

by Shane Barker

SEO is one of the most vital strategies to improve the growth of your business. Regardless of business size, it helps you improve your website’s rankings in the search engines. It also helps you generate more high-quality organic traffic.

Having said that, it is essential that you conduct a thorough competitor analysis before you design your SEO strategy. This will help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. These insights will help you create your own SEO strategy effectively.

However, it’s not easy to decide which parameters and tools to use for effective competitor analysis. That’s because there are a number of SEO tools and parameters to consider when you conduct a competitor analysis. So, it’s crucial that you invest your time into figuring out the most suitable parameters and tools to analyze your competition.

The process might sound intimidating. So, here are seven simple and easy-to-follow steps to conduct a thorough competitor analysis.

1. Identify Your Keywords

In the process of competitor analysis, the first step needs to be the identification of keywords. Detailed keyword research will help you, from an SEO perspective, understand your competitors better.

You can follow the simple process below to conduct effective keyword research.

Search and create a list of all potential and relevant topics for your business. This will help you narrow down on 5 to 10 of the most important topics.

Once you have selected important topics, it’s time to list the keywords related to each topic. However, make sure to list all of the keywords that have a direct impact on the rankings of your website. And select keywords that your target audience will use to search for your products and services.

While identifying the keywords, make sure to have a combination of long-tail keywords and shorter search terms. Why? Because shorter keywords will help you generate a larger volume of traffic whereas long-tail keywords can generate higher-quality traffic.

In addition to this, the integration of long-tail keywords in your content helps you fulfill user intent. When done correctly, specific keyword phrases help you gain top rankings in the search engines. Also, a varied combination of keywords will help you achieve your SEO goals.

Now that you have the keyword list analyze your competitors’ rankings. If your competitors are using the same list of keywords, then it’s good news for you. It implies that you can also use the same keywords to increase the rankings of your website.

However, there might be quite a few important keywords which your competitors are not using. So, don’t ignore these keywords as they can give you leverage over your competition.

You can use tools like the Google Keyword Planner. The tool helps you to collect the data directly from Google to identify potential keywords.

Analyze Competitors

Image Source – Google

2. Identify Your Competitors

Once you have identified your list of potential keywords, it’s time to search for and create a list of your competitors. To determine your top competitors, you need to enter the selected keywords into search engines like Google, Yahoo, and/or Bing.

Then identify the web pages which are relevant to your niche. Also, make sure that these web pages show up in the top 10 search results. Next, analyze the web pages to find out who your competitors are.

You can use different tools to identify the most aggressive competitors from your industry. It can also give you a list of competitors for the domain you are analyzing. This will help you stay ahead in the game by simplifying your competitor analysis.

Once you identify your top competitors, you need to analyze their top ranking content. For a thorough competitor analysis, make sure to use metrics like inbound links, domain authority, link velocity, domain age, social shares, etc.

By keeping track of your competitors, you can learn about the latest trends in SEO and reposition yourself in the game.

3. Analyze the Backlink Profiles of Your Competitors

The third step in the process of competitor analysis is to analyze backlinks. The quality of your backlinks has a direct impact on the rankings of your website. The higher the quality of your backlinks, the higher your rankings. High-quality backlinks also help you gain the trust of your target audience.

So, make sure that the links coming to your website are of high quality, i.e. from relevant websites with high domain authority. This also indicates that your website contains high-quality content and is highly relevant. This gives you an opportunity to improve your search engine ranking and secure top ranks in relevant SERPs.

Having both high-quality and high-quantity backlinks to your website is essential.

So, to increase the number of quality backlinks on your website, you can glance through your competitors’ links. This will help you develop a strategy to build more backlinks from the sites that are linking to your competitors.

4. Analyze Social Media Profiles

Social media and social media campaigns have a significant impact on the search engine ranking of a website. Social media helps brands to establish and engage with their target audience at a personal level. As a result, the reach and awareness of the brands can increase manifold.

Plus, social media is where a lot of brands get most of their traffic, which further boosts their ranking and visibility. So, don’t forget to analyze the social media profiles of your competitors as part of your competitor analysis process.

Analyze what social media strategies your competitors are using to improve their ranking. Learn from their social media campaign mistakes and replicate their best practices.

5. Audit Your Competitors’ Content

Content is the key to achieving a higher ranking on search engines. Relevant, high-quality, and useful content on the website helps it to secure a top rank on search engines.

So for competitor analysis, you need to have a thorough audit plan for the content on your competitors’ website and yours as well. While you analyze and audit the content, make sure to consider parameters like outbound links, word count, and uniqueness.

Visuals like images and videos help brands to enhance the experience of their visitors. And outbound links increase brand credibility and improve relationships with the target audience as it guides them to more valuable content. So, find out if your competitors are using visuals and high-quality outbound links on their website.

6. Determine Domain Authority

One of the most critical parameters in competitor analysis is to determine the domain authority of your competitor’s website. It will help you narrow down on practical and realistic goals for your own website.

The Open Site Explorer tool by Moz can help you determine the domain authority of your competitors. It will also give you detailed data and information on KPIs like social metrics, domain authority, page authority, etc.

Analyze Competitors

Image Source – Moz Open Site Explorer

7. Compare Yourself With Your Competitors

You have thoroughly analyzed your competitors and understood their strengths and weaknesses. So, the last step in the process of competitor analysis is to compare yourself with your competitors. How do your numbers stack up against those of the competition? How much lower or higher do you rank compared to them?

You need to figure out what is working and what isn’t working for your competitors. This will help you discover which strategies are most ideal for application and which ones you should avoid. You can also tweak them according to your needs before you implement them.

Final Thoughts

Competitor analysis will help you discover your strengths and weaknesses, so you can snowball your organic growth. It also gives you an opportunity to learn from your competitors’ successes and failures.

When done correctly, competitor analysis helps you to improve your strategies and stay ahead of your competitors. Based on the competitor analysis report, you can design and improve your SEO strategies so your business can grow.

Do you know of any other effective ways to analyze your competitors? If so, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

22 Apr 18:23

Top 4 Ways New Consultants Can Write Winning Proposals That Land Clients

by Sara McGuire

New to consulting and stressed about how to close your first deal? Or maybe you’re overwhelmed by juggling your first projects and the constant need to chase new work.

Luckily for you, your competition is probably making some serious proposal mistakes that are costing them business.

In this article, we’ll show you how newbie consultants can win the proposal game and scoop up business their competitors are leaving on the table.

1. Get In Front of the Right People

Even the best-written proposal will be dead in the water if you don’t lay the proper groundwork first.

Before you type one word, make sure:

  • You have the right contact
  • You’re offering the right service
  • The timing is right for your service

The best way to figure that out? Cold email or call the potential client. A bit scary, but it’ll save you loads of time in the long run–no writing endless proposals that get zero response.

Ask if there’s an issue they need help with right now that’s a match for your expertise. Then, present how you could solve that problem for them. Be sure to ask what their timeline and budget is, too.

Once the client says they’re interested, tell them when you’ll send the proposal to them and what it’ll include.

Be clear you’ll expand more on ideas you already suggested. There should be no surprises for the client in your proposal. Surprises will make it much easier for them to say “no.”

2. Stick to a Winning Structure

Your proposal should be incredibly clear and logical, so the client understands immediately how you’ll add value to their business.

That can be a lot harder to achieve when you have wall after wall of eye-glazing text.

First off, do yourself a favor and use a pre-made consulting proposal template. It’ll give you an instant structure to work with and keep you focused on content that sells–what the project will involve and the ultimate benefit to the client’s bottom line.

A winning proposal should include:

  • Project Overview: the issue the client’s facing, as discussed in your initial call/email
  • Deliverables: results and how this will benefit the client’s company. Use bullet points.
  • Project Schedule: start date, milestones and completion date
  • Responsibilities: yours and the client’s, including resources they’ll need to make available to you
  • Pricing: your base price
  • Terms and Conditions: whether you require a retainer, when you’ll invoice, how you’d like to be paid and when, potential extra costs (for travel etc.)

consulting proposal template venngage

Image Source

An attractive template will also help establish your personal brand.

If you’re new to proposal writing, you’ll probably also need help avoiding typos, bad word choices, jargon and confusing sentences. So don’t forget to check your grammar using Grammarly or a similar service.

3. Demonstrate You Can Solve the Client’s Problem

New consultants need to focus on how they’ll solve the client’s problem. Don’t bury it deep in your proposal–include it right in the project overview. State the outcome and ROI.

The client needs to be absolutely sure that by hiring you they’re making a sound investment.

For example, you’re a social media consultant who specializes in B2B healthcare marketing campaigns. You’re proposing to help a company that’s experiencing turnover in their marketing department. They made a series of bad hiring decisions and their revenue is suffering.

Use SMART goals in your proposal to show that you are strategic and guarantee a measurable win.

For example:

  • I will increase your organic blog traffic by 15 percent in Q1, registrations by 10 percent and upgrades by 5 percent . This will increase revenue by x percent.

4. Keep It Short and Sweet

Your client doesn’t want to read a 25-page proposal. He or she doesn’t even want to read a 10-page proposal.

But, a two to three-page proposal? Perfectly doable.

Again, a proposal maker or template will help rein in any wordiness. They’ll help you focus on the client’s immediate needs and project deliverables.

You can also keep things short by always focusing on how your services are different and uniquely valuable to the client.

If you find you’re writing about your background, your past clients, anything to do with just you and not the client’s problem, you’re getting way off track.

The Takeaway: Make It Easy for the Client to Say “Yes”

B2B clients can be risk adverse. A 2018 survey by Demand Gen found that 45% of B2B buyers “are spending more time researching purchases compared to last year.”

By being specific in your proposal about what you’ll provide and how it’ll solve the client’s problem, you’ll make it much harder for the client to say “no.”

22 Apr 18:23

From Product-Market Fit to Product-Market-Price Fit

by Kyle Poyar

The statistics are bleak, but deserve to be repeated. 90% of startups fail, according to an in-depth analysis of 3,200 companies as part of the Startup Genome Report. The researchers blame “premature scaling” as the root cause, pointing out that 70% of startups in the study scaled before they were ready and that startup founders substantially underestimate how long it takes to validate their market.

It’s no wonder that the startup community obsesses over finding product-market fit. After all, product-market fit is a critical prerequisite to being able to scale in a manner that creates long-term value for shareholders.

For the uninitiated, product-market fit can be understood as instances when a startup introduces a new product that meets a real customer need, does so in a way that’s better than alternatives and in a market that can support a standalone business. Product-market fit tends to be a spectrum rather than a discrete, big bang event and it typically takes continued, sustained effort to improve it over time (e.g. by extending the market opportunity, creating more competitive differentiation, finding lower cost ways to acquire customers).

Unfortunately, all of the focus on product-market fit glosses over a concept that’s equally as important to a startup’s success: pricing.

Expanding the definition of product-market fit

First Round Capital recently investigated the most common mistakes made by startup founders who struggle to fundraise. Compared to peers who breezed through the fundraising process, those who struggled were:

      • 3x more likely to say they monetized too late
      • 2x more likely to pursue the wrong business model
      • 1.4x more likely to say they botched their go-to-market strategy

Certainly, we can agree that picking the right go-to-market strategy is a part of finding product-market fit. But, deciding when to monetize and which business model to pursue seem disconnected, yet are clearly fundamental to a startup’s success.

I propose we reframe product-market fit to product-market-price fit. Here’s my working definition:

Product-market-price fit refers to instances when a startup offers a new product that meets a real need that customers will pay for at a price that can support a standalone business.

The price element of product-market-price fit speaks to a few different elements that underpin a startup’s ability to scale: their pricing power in the market, the attractiveness of their pricing model and the health of their unit economics.

How to find product-market-price fit

First, a startup should have signs of pricing power. Pricing power is interconnected with both the product (i.e. the product is so good that people will pay a fair price for it) and the market (i.e. the number of potential users multiplied by the average price equals a market large enough that it’s worth pursuing). If the only reason why a startup wins deals is because they have the lowest price in the market, I would be highly skeptical that they’ve found product-market-price fit, unless they’ve found a radically inventive way to cut costs out of the business. But if a startup can raise prices and prospects don’t balk, then it’s a clear sign that the product has substantial product-market-price fit and there’s room to invest more in scaling the business.

Startups need to find a pricing model that allows them to extract value out of what they’ve built from their target customer. In the age of SaaS and ubiquitous subscriptions, this may sound like a piece of cake. But subscriptions aren’t the only game in town, as I’ve written about previously.

Truth be told, SaaS startups now have nearly limitless pricing model options at their disposal. They could opt for different flavors of free (freemium, free trial, free products), different value metrics (seat-based pricing, usage-based pricing, unlimited plans) and different pricing structures (two-part tariffs, three-part tariff, pay as you go). Whatever model they choose must, at a minimum, cover their costs and appeal to prospective customers. Even better, the pricing model could become a disruptive source of competitive advantage, further signaling that a startup is ready to scale.

Logikcull, a legal tech startup that provides cloud discovery software, found that almost two-thirds of attorneys work at law firms with five or less attorneys. These firms balk at the idea of a pre-paid annual subscription, an insight that led Logikcull to introduce a disruptive no-commitment, pay as you go option.

Finally, pricing needs to enable a go-to-market strategy with healthy unit economics. If a startup charges too little, they won’t have the resources to support investing in paid marketing or expensive sales resources, a phenomenon known as being too hungry to eat. Low prices may also attract too many of the wrong customers, those who initially convert but do not stick around. This again results in an LTV:CAC ratio that isn’t strong enough to invest in growth.

It’s time for the startup community to elevate the role that pricing plays in building a stable foundation on which to scale. Pricing shouldn’t be an after-thought once a startup reaches product-market fit. It should instead be a key area of focus and experimentation in the early stages of a startup’s lifecycle. Let’s move from product-market fit to product-market-price fit.

The post From Product-Market Fit to Product-Market-Price Fit appeared first on OpenView Labs.

22 Apr 18:23

A Quick Refresher on Price Elasticity (& How It Impacts Your Strategy)

by Meg Prater

I know what you woke up thinking this morning: “I sure could use a quick refresher on price elasticity.” If you’re shaking your head saying, “Yes, Meg. Yes!” then I’m so happy to have met your needs with this miraculous piece.

Understanding the price elasticity of your product/service and how it impacts your sales and business strategy is crucial to building a responsive, successful company. It goes a step or two beyond identifying the going rate for your offer and is a more strategic approach to pricing.

Brush up on the basic economics of price elasticity below and, don’t worry, you can thank me later.

Free Download: Sales Plan Template

Price Elasticity of Demand

This formula (also known as PED) is used to identify how a change in price affects the supply or demand of a commodity. If people still buy a product/service when the price is raised, that product/service is inelastic. A product/service is elastic when demand suffers due to price fluctuations.

For example, research shows that raising cigarette prices doesn’t do much to stop smokers from buying cigarettes, therefore making cigarettes an inelastic commodity. Cable television, however, is a very elastic product. As the price of cable has increased, demand has decreased as more consumers “cut the cord.”

Substitutions like Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services have made the cable industry elastic. There are also substitutions for Tobacco (i.e., vaporizers, nicotine patches, etc.), but none that have affected their core consumer’s desire and ability to continue buying cigarettes.

Price Elasticity of Demand Formula

% Change in Quantity / % Change in Price = Price Elasticity of Demand

If you sell 10,000 reams of paper at $100/ream and then raise the price to $150 per ream and sell 7,000 reams, your elasticity of demand would be -0.88. This would be considered inelastic because it is less than one.

Broken down even further to include the calculation of percent change, this formula looks like:

((QN - QI) / (QN + QI) / 2) / ((PN - PI) / (PN + PI) / 2)

  • QN = New quantity (7,000)
  • QI = Initial quantity (10,000)
  • PN = New price ($150)
  • PI = Initial price ($100)

Our numbers plugged into this formula would be:

(7,000 - 10,000) / (7,000 +10,000) /2) / (150 - 100) / (150 - 100) / 2) 

Head spinning? Check out this free calculator.

This formula is helpful in determining if a product/service is price sensitive. Ideally, you want your offering to be a must-have (inelastic) that consumers consider non-negotiable during price fluctuation, not a nice-to-have (elastic).

Types of price elasticity of demand

1. Perfectly Inelastic Demand - If your PED equals 0, price changes do not affect your product’s demand

2. Relatively Inelastic Demand - If the percent change for demand is less than the percent change of the product’s price

3. Unit Elastic Demand - If the change in demand yields a proportional change in price

4. Relatively Elastic Demand - If demand change is greater than the change in your product’s price

5. Perfectly Elastic Demand - If demand falls to zero at the slightest price increase or demand becomes great with a slight price decrease

Price Elasticity of Supply

The price elasticity of supply (PES) measures how responsive the supply of a product/service is when there is a change in price.

If supply is inelastic, it might mean a company is struggling to keep up with demand because they are short-staffed, need longer lead time to produce more of their product, or do not have the resources to expand their facilities.

If supply is elastic, a company might have a surplus of staff or laborers available to increase supply. Knowing PES allows businesses to determine whether a change in price with negatively or positively affect the demand for their product/service. The formula for calculating PES is:

PES = % change of supply / % change in price

If supply is inelastic, an increase in price leads to a change in supply that is less than the increase in price, meaning the PES is less than one. If supply is elastic, the price change yields a larger increase in supply making the PES greater than one.

For example, if the price of “World’s Greatest Boss” mugs falls 10% and the supply falls 5%, the PES is .5 and considered inelastic. If the price of bobbleheads increases by 15% and supply increases by 20%, the price elasticity of supply (PES) is 1.3 and elastic.

Cross Price Elasticity

Cross elasticity of demand measures how responsive the demand of a product/service is when the price for another product/service changes. For example, if Hulu with Live TV raises their prices to $45 per month, will customers leave the service for YouTube TV -- a similar streaming service charging only $40 per month?

As the price of Hulu Live rises the demand for their competitor’s service rises. Within cross price elasticity, YouTube would be considered a “substitute good.”

If, however, the cost of televisions increased and the number of customers using subscription services like Hulu or YouTube decreased because of the price increase of televisions, this would be called “complementary goods.”

Cross price elasticity allows businesses to price their products/services competitively, plan for risks, and map their market. If your product/service has no real competitor, you do not need to consider cross price elasticity because there is no substitute for your offering. However, if a complementary product/service sees a market fluctuation, you might need to prepare for cross price elasticity.

Cross price elasticity formula

Cross Price Elasticity of Demand = % change in quantity demanded for Product A / % change Product B’s price

Want to dig into pricing strategy a bit more? Check out this article on cost-plus pricing or this one on prestige pricing for your premium offers.

sales plan

22 Apr 18:23

It’s How You Say It

by Anthony Iannarino

You might say, “We need to be profitable. We need a win-win deal.” As much as I agree with the statement, it isn’t what you say as much as how you say it. You might be better off saying, “We want to make sure you achieve the outcomes we’ve discussed up to this point, and we don’t want you to invest more or less than you need to. Can I go back over the investments we are going to make to ensure you achieve your goals?”

When your prospect rejects your request for a meeting, the words you speak maybe, “I promise I won’t take a lot of your time.” In that statement, you have conceded that you don’t believe what you want to share is worth your dream client’s time, providing them with an easy “no.” Better might be, “What I have to share with you is valuable, even if you never do business with us. I promise I won’t waste one minute of your time, and you will find it valuable.” This addresses the prospect’s real concern.

Salespeople have been known to speak poorly of their competitors. I have heard them say, “There is no way they are profitable at their pricing, and that isn’t a sustainable business model.” And yet, they have been in business for decades and show no signs of extinction. There is a better way (and one I wrote about in Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customers Away from Your Competition): “We know them well. We have friends there. They do good work, but we have wildly different ideas about the business model. Can I share with you what makes us different?”

Win customers away from your competition. Check out Eat Their LunchEat Their Lunch

Because sales is conversations and commitments, one should work very hard at choosing words that make those conversations valuable and useful, earning the right to go from conversation to conversation by linking together the commitments necessary to go from target to close (as found in The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the 10 Commitments That Drive Sales).

Essential Reading!

Get my first book: The Only Sale Guide You'll Ever Need

"The USA Today bestseller by the star sales speaker and author of The Sales Blog that reveals how all salespeople can attain huge sales success through strategies backed by extensive research and experience."

Buy Now

The post It’s How You Say It appeared first on The Sales Blog.

22 Apr 18:22

Executives Invest. Purchasing Controls Pricing.

by Anthony Iannarino

There are a lot of questions about the trends analysis and implications framework in my third book, Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customers Away from Your Competition. One of the most frequently asked questions is, “What trends and implications do I share with people in a purchasing role to engage them in a more strategic conversation.”

Win customers away from your competition. Check out Eat Their LunchEat Their Lunch

There are no rules in sales, and you have to know them all, which is to say context matters. Generally, executive leaders invest in strategic outcomes, and people in purchasing roles tend to control the prices the company accepts, outcomes that are often at odds and the main reason, so many companies incur higher costs as the result of underinvesting.

Exceptions

There are exceptions to every rule (including this one). There are people in purchasing roles who see their role as “reducing costs” and ensuring the effectiveness of their companies “supply chain.” These enlightened purchasing types often reject the lowest priced offerings because their experience suggests that the “vendor” will cause them to incur higher prices.

The idea of a strategic partner is a concept that intimates a different relationship and greater accountability than a vendor or supplier, titles that suggest a low price and the equally low value one should expect. There are purchasing agents and supply chain managers who will accept a higher price when you can justify it for them.

These are, however, exceptions. Most of the time, the greater investment conversation needs to be held at a different level, with the stakeholders who are accountable for the overall success of the organization.

Executives Invest

Executive leaders invest in the products, services, and solutions that help them achieve their strategic goals, including their financial goals. Sometimes those goals include reducing the money they spend in certain categories. But more often than not, the decision-makers are willing and able to invest in the capabilities and outcomes they are responsible for delivering, even when it means investing more than they are now.

Most executives know that their purchasing team is going to ask for a discount or concession around pricing, and many will defend the investment if the salesperson they’re working with can help them justify the delta between what they are investing now or competitive alternatives.

If you want to have a productive conversation about trends, implications, and investment, you are more likely to find a receptive and engaged audience made up of decision-makers and management than purchasing agents, even though you will occasionally bump into a supply chain manager who is trying to spend more to ensure the outcomes their company needs to succeed.

If you are going to err one way or the other, assume leadership wants to invest and purchasing wants you to lower your price, and act accordingly.

Essential Reading!

Get my 3rd book: Eat Their Lunch

"The first ever playbook for B2B salespeople on how to win clients and customers who are already being serviced by your competition."

Buy Now

The post Executives Invest. Purchasing Controls Pricing. appeared first on The Sales Blog.

22 Apr 18:22

How to Schedule an Email in Gmail (Quick Tutorial)

by mhart@hubspot.com (Meredith Hart)

Have you ever written an email but didn't want to send it immediately?

I don't know about you, but this is a normal occurrence for me. I've created email drafts and let them sit in my Drafts folder in Gmail, patiently waiting to send them so they reach my contacts' inboxes at just the right moment.

Free Download: 25 Proven Sales Email Templates

Does this sound like you too?

Well, if not, here are a few more reasons you might want to delay sending an email.

  • You want the email to arrive in your prospect's inbox at the best time for them.
  • The person you're emailing lives in a different time zone.
  • You're working late and you want the email to arrive in the morning.

No matter the reason, having the flexibility to schedule emails so they send at the ideal time is a luxury, especially since email providers, like Gmail, lack this functionality. This is where the HubSpot Sales saves the day.

This free email scheduling tool allows you to schedule emails to send later in Gmail. Plus, you can preview or cancel the email before it sends if you need to make any last-minute changes. Sales automation like this can speed up your email sending processes, make you more efficient, and free up your time.

So, how can this tool work for you exactly?

How to Schedule an Email to Send Later in Gmail

  1. Add the HubSpot Sales Google Chrome extension.
  2. Open up Gmail.
  3. Connect your inbox.
  4. Click the Compose button.
  5. Click the clock icon.
  6. Click the Schedule button.

1. Add the HubSpot Sales Google Chrome extension.

Navigate to the chrome web store and click the Add to Chrome button. You'll be prompted to log in.

2. Open up Gmail.

Once you're logged in, open up your Gmail inbox. You should see a HubSpot icon in the top, right-hand corner of the inbox. Click the icon and click the Turn on button.

3. Connect your inbox.

Click the Connect inbox button and follow the on-screen instructions. With the HubSpot tools turned on, now, you're ready to start writing and scheduling emails.

4. Click the Compose button.

Create a new email by clicking the Compose button. This will create a brand new email draft for you to work with.

Next, fill out the email details: To, Subject, and the content of your email. (If you're reaching out to a prospecting email, check out these prospecting email templates for inspiration.)

5. Click the clock icon.

Click the clock icon next to the Send button and select one of the following options:

  • Tomorrow: This allows you to send the email tomorrow. Click the dropdown menu to select the recipient's timezone.
  • Custom: Choose a specific date and time for your email to send.
  • Best time to send or Best time to send this week: These "best time to send" features are available with Sales Hub Professional or Enterprise only. The tool suggests times to schedule your email so it will have a higher likelihood of opens, clicks, and replies based on the recipient's prior email engagement.

6. Click the Schedule button.

Once you've selected a time to send your post, click the orange Schedule button.

Once the email is scheduled, it will appear in the Scheduled Mail folder.

When you click on the folder, you'll be brought to a Scheduled emails outbox where you can see all your scheduled emails. From this page, you can either preview your email or delete it.

If the email preview looks good to go, your email is all set to send out at your desired time.

By scheduling emails, you'll ensure that your message makes it to the top of your prospects' inboxes and reaching them at times it's convenient for them. Looking for more? Check out the steps to create canned response Gmail templates next.

New Call-to-Action

22 Apr 18:22

The 3 Essentials of a Successful Qualified Leads Program

by kniemisto

In a way, sales reps are like nurses or doctors. They take people’s temperatures to determine how they’re feeling. A “hot” prospect is ready to buy. A “cold” prospect is merely browsing inventory.

Before the internet, this heat check was usually performed in person. Sales reps would get a good sense of how interested someone was in their company’s products or services by spending some time with them.

Qualified leads would ultimately receive more attention—the sales rep might play 18 holes with them to help close the deal. For people looking to buy later, an occasional phone call to nurture the relationship would suffice.

But with the way modern customers conduct online research prior to purchasing, the human interaction aspect of qualifying leads has all but disappeared.

Many companies today have turned to innovative marketing automation software to analyze a prospect’s digital engagement behavior and determine whether they’re qualified enough to move on to the next step in the sales cycle.

But successfully qualifying leads for sales means having three key fundamentals in place:

1. A solid definition of “lead”

First things first. What’s a lead? At Marketo, we define a lead as any “qualified prospect that is starting to exhibit buying behavior.” That could mean when somebody begins following a social media account, subscribes to an email newsletter, or browses a product page on a website.

Of course, every business should have its own definition for what a lead is. Why? Because differentiating a lead from a non-lead will help you determine who’s worth nurturing and who’s not.

If you haven’t yet defined what a lead is for your organization, here’s how to get started:

Schedule a sit-down between sales and marketing. Talk about what your target market looks like, who’s in your database already, and what kind of buyers are currently closing deals. You’ll also want to discuss things like when to start lead nurturing and what makes a bad lead.

Marketing operations usually has access to the tools, systems, and data that tell you everything you need to know.

Once you’ve developed a solid definition, write it down. You’ll what to share what you’ve come up with so everyone’s on the same page.

And don’t forget to meet regularly. Your definition of a lead will change as your business grows or your priorities shift.

2. An effective lead scoring system

With a lead scoring system, you can assign values to prospects based on actions they take, behaviors they exhibit, and more. This will help you rank leads to determine which prospects are ripe for nurturing and which are ready to engage with your sales team.

There are four attributes you must identify through your lead scoring system:

  • Lead fit: Collecting information around your prospects’ demographics (title, role, location), firmographics (industry, company size, name of company) and BANT (budget, authority, need, time) will give you an idea of whether they fit your ideal buyer profile. You can capture a lot of demographic and firmographic information through a registration page form. Gathering BANT data may require getting to know your prospects a little bit better—perhaps through progressive profiling.
  • Lead interest: Studying your prospects’ online body language by analyzing how they engage with your brand will give you insight into how interested they are in your product or service. The more interest they show, the more likely they are to buy—and the more heavily you should shower them with attention and valuable content. 
  • Lead behavior: Certain prospect behavior shines a light on where they are in the customer journey. Visiting a website or attending a webinar are the signs of an early-stage prospect. Checking out a pricing page or watching a solution demo reveal buyer intent. You can take advantage of this information by offering early-stage prospects more educational content and passing off leads with high buyer intent to sales. 
  • Buying stage/timing: Knowing when your lead intends to buy is extremely important. If a prospect is just beginning to research a product, it’s not the time to put the hard sell on them. Instead, send valuable information about how the product can help solve their problems. By closely evaluating a prospect’s behavior, you’ll get a firm sense of where they are in the buying journey.

Developing a lead scoring system is a core component of lead management—and no department is better suited to help your company bring this system into fruition than your marketing operations team.

That’s because marketing operations has access to the data required to establish a lead scoring program—so it doesn’t have to rely on guesswork.

3. A culture built on testing and optimization

Like most things in marketing, your lead nurturing program shouldn’t be a set-it-and-forget-it endeavor. You’ll want to regularly test what’s working and what’s not so you can optimize your processes.

But what exactly should you be testing? In a word: Everything.

The goal of your lead nurturing program is to provide satisfying customer experiences that align with your audiences’ preferences and ultimately drive sales.

So, scrutinize every method you use to engage with your prospects. Measure how people respond to your social media posts, the offers on your websites, and the material in your videos.

Email nurture streams, in particular, provide a plethora of opportunities to test and optimize. You can:

  • Assess how different variations of a subject line impact open rates
  • See if click-through rates improve by swapping your content type
  • Evaluate whether readers respond better to short or long emails
  • Change the layout to learn what kind of design resonates most with readers
  • Modify send frequency to get a better idea of how often audiences want to be contacted

By creating a culture of testing and optimization, sales and marketing can collaborate to turn qualified leads into surefire customers.

A new frontier of qualifying leads emerges with AI

The three fundamentals above will go a long way toward helping you successfully qualify leads for sales. But like we’ve seen before with the emergence of the internet, there’s always something new around the corner ready to shake up the status quo.

Today, that’s AI.

Sales reps currently spend a lot of time and attention just determining if a prospect is a qualified lead. Sometimes, it’s all for naught, as a months-long engagement could develop into nothing.

Hiring more sales reps isn’t the answer. But leaning on innovative conversational AI and machine learning could be.

Instead of an employee interacting with a prospect, an AI-driven bot could communicate with them. When a person visits a website, the bot can converse with them, help them, and, most importantly, collect the valuable insight needed to decide if they’re a qualified lead.

This allows human sales reps to limit their focus to building relationships with prospects who are actually worth their time.

A chance to transform lead qualification

With a few key principles and an eye on the future, you can do wonders for your lead qualification program. And it won’t be long until your entire organization feels the effects—experiencing more closed deals and higher revenue.

Download The Definitive Guide to Sales Lead Qualification and Sales Development to learn more.

The post The 3 Essentials of a Successful Qualified Leads Program appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

22 Apr 18:21

The Ultimate Guide to Formal Emails

by Meg Prater

Formal Email

A formal email is used when conducting business with a new associate or executive, sending a professional inquiry, or corresponding about a job. Best practices include using a formal greeting like, "Dear [Name]," closing with, "Sincerely," and keeping the subject line short and descriptive.

You know you’re writing a formal email if … you have to pause and wonder, "Is this too casual?" or "What salutation should I use?" or "Is this the right tone?"

Salespeople will use formal email for most of their correspondence. You’re introducing yourself, hoping to make the best first impression possible, and want to treat each prospect as a VIP.

Free Download: 25 Proven Sales Email Templates

Using these formal email guidelines is a surefire way to make sure your business emails always hit the right note whether you’re reaching out for the first time or just following up.

How to Write a Formal Email

  1. Greet appropriately
  2. Check your email address
  3. Choose a professional font
  4. Craft your subject line
  5. Introduce yourself
  6. Keep things short and concise
  7. Use a formal close
  8. Include a professional signature
  9. Proofread

So, how do you write a formal email? Here are nine easy steps to get started.

1. Greet appropriately

First, choose an appropriate greeting. Casual introductions like "Hey," "Hi there," or just the person’s name, should be reserved for casual correspondence with friends, family, and familiar colleagues.

If you’re addressing an executive, business associate, or prospect, take a more formal tone. Here are a few formal email greetings to consider:

How to start a formal email: formal email greetings

  1. Dear [Name]
  2. Hello [Name]
  3. To Whom it May Concern
  4. Greetings [Name]
  5. Dear [Department Name]
  6. Dear [Job Title]
  7. Dear Search Committee
  8. Good Morning, [Name]
  9. I hope this email finds you well

When in doubt, always choose a greeting that’s more formal than casual. One salutation to kick to the curb for good? "Dear Sir or Madam." Here’s why.

2. Check your email address

If you’re not sending an email from your work alias, revisit your personal email address to make sure it’s professional and reflective of your current life stage.

If you’re still rocking that sk8rgurl2003@aol.com address, consider updating to one that includes some combination of your first and last name. This ensures your first impression is authoritative and adult -- and not the early 2000s equivalent of a trucker hat.

3. Choose a professional font

Read: Ditch the purple comic sans. While you might prefer to use the Papyrus font in your personal correspondence with friends and family, keep your professional emails distraction-free by choosing Arial, Times New Roman, or Calibri.

After all, you want the first thing your reader notices to be your message, not your font.

4. Craft your subject line

Keep your subject line to seven words or less for optimal open rates, and don’t try to dazzle your reader with extreme subject line wit at first email. Before you write your subject line, ask yourself three questions:

  1. "Who is my audience?" - Is it an executive, a marketing manager, or maybe a small business owner? Knowing who your audience is will help with step number two …
  2. "What do they care about?" - Your subject line is your reader’s first impression of you (minus your email address). Make it count by focusing on something they care about. That might be a mutual connection, a business pain point, or a meeting you’ve already scheduled. Make your subject line relevant to them and earn the email open.
  3. "Does my subject line reflect what’s inside?" - Never try to trick your recipient into opening your email. If you send a message with the subject line, "Regarding next week’s call," and you have no such call scheduled, you’re asking to get marked as spam and lose all trust and credibility.

Short, clear, and concise is the best way to open formal correspondence. Here are some examples:

  • "RE 6/8 demo call with HubSpot"
  • "[Mutual connection] recommended we chat"
  • "Meeting RE: demo call with HubSpot"
  • "Follow Up RE: Phone call with HubSpot"
  • "Question about [goal]"
  • "Hi [name], [question]?"
  • "A [benefit] for [prospect’s company]"
  • "We have [insert fact] in common"

Want more great subject line inspiration? Check out this list, guaranteed to get prospects to open, read, and respond.

5. Introduce yourself

Your first sentence should tell them who you are -- without telling them your life story. Many of us start emails with our name, title, company, and what our company does.

Many of us also receive emails like this and skim through the first paragraph because we just don’t care yet. We want to know what the sender can do for us not who they do it for and why.

Here’s what not to do:

 

Dear April,

My name is Leslie and I’m a park director with the Indiana Parks and Recreation Department. We’re dedicated to making Indiana parks more beautiful and visitor-friendly.

I’m reaching out today to see if you would be interested in learning more about our summer initiative to get more kids outside and to the parks. I know you run a summer camp, and I’d love to talk about partnering with you to use our parks for certain outdoor activities.

Let me know if you’d like to learn more.

Sincerely,
Leslie Knope

send-now-hubspot-sales-bar

This email is long, it spends too much time telling April who Leslie is, and it never addresses how using local parks will benefit April and her summer camp. Instead, try this greeting:

 

Dear April,

Do your summer camp kids (and counselors) ever need a change of scene after a week or two in the same location? I’m Leslie Knope with the Parks & Rec department, and I’d love to help your campers burn off some energy in our local parks this summer.

If you’d like to learn more about our summer parks program, book time on my calendar here: [Insert calendar link]

I hope to speak with you soon.

Sincerely,
Leslie Knope

send-now-hubspot-sales-bar

This email is shorter, leads with the benefit, and follows up with Leslie’s name and company name only. It also closes with a clear call to action. More impactful? I’d say so.

6. Keep things short and concise

As discussed above, it’s important not to burden your professional emails with a lot of "fluff" or information that doesn’t matter to your recipient. Edit your emails for length and clarity, and add bullets, new paragraphs, and lists wherever you can. These formatting tools can make your email easier to read and more impactful.

Here’s an example of what not to do:

 

Hi Ron,

My name is Donna and we met at the Carpenters of Indiana conference last week. I wanted to follow up with you regarding some contract work for a few of my clients. Specifically, I need someone to make 50 park benches, three pergolas, and eight gazebos. I’m gathering bids from a few local carpenters and was hoping you could provide me with a quote for these projects by the end of the week.

Thanks,
Donna Meagle

send-now-hubspot-sales-bar

This is clunky, it’s hard to discern the most pertinent parts of Donna’s message, and the language is a bit too casual. Instead, try this:

 

Hello Ron,

My name is Donna and we spoke at Carpenters of Indiana event last week. I’m currently collecting bids for the following projects:

  • 50 park benches
  • 3 pergolas
  • 8 gazebos

I need these projects done no later than June 6, 2019 and I’m requesting all bids be returned by March 15, 2019.

Your work is impressive, and I hope we receive a bid from you.

Regards,
Donna Meagle

send-now-hubspot-sales-bar

This email is much more direct, professional, and well-organized. It’s easy for the reader to skim, clearly features the most important information, and increases the likelihood of Donna receiving a response from Ron.

7. Use a formal close

Ready to bring it home? Make sure you close your email appropriately. Leave casual closing phases like, "Cheers," "Thanks," and "Best," for close colleagues. Choose one of the following, more formal, closes below:

How to end a formal email: formal email closings

  1. Thank you for your time
  2. Sincerely
  3. Respectfully
  4. Thank you
  5. Looking forward to hearing from you
  6. Have a wonderful day
  7. Best regards
  8. With gratitude
  9. Will follow up soon

These sign offs carry the right tone through the last drop of your formal email. As you develop rapport with your business associates, it’s normal to pick up more casual and creative closes. Until then, these farewells are your best bet.

8. Include a professional signature

If your email address is the first impression, your email signature is the last. Make sure it includes the following:

  • Your name
  • Your contact information (phone number, website, calendar link (if appropriate), address)
  • Your title
  • A professional headshot
  • A link to or badge for any professional accolades you’ve recently received
  • Links to appropriate social media channels (i.e., LinkedIn or Twitter)

Want to see examples of stellar email signatures from real people? Check out this roundup of professional email signature examples.

9. Proofread

This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised what you overlook when you’ve read the same email draft three times in a row.

Instead of trusting your eye, drop your email text into Microsoft Word and use their "Review > Spelling & Grammar" tool.

Or copy and paste your message into Hemingway Editor to proof for run on sentences, comma splices, and other pesky grammatical errors.

Always double check you’ve spelled your recipient’s name and company name correctly. If there’s one thing that ruffles the feathers of my inbox, it’s seeing an email come through addressed to "Megan" when my name everywhere on the internet is listed as "Meg" or seeing someone tell me how much they love "Hubspot" when the correct capitalization is "HubSpot."

Formal Email Template

Now that we’ve discussed the nine most important aspects of a formal email, let’s put them together to create a template you can use in almost any situation.

[Appropriate subject line]

Dear [Name],

My name is [Your name], and I’m reaching out to [insert the benefit you’re offering or the request you have of them].

[Two- to three-sentences supporting your main point and bulleted list or bolded terms when necessary].

[Include CTA when appropriate].

Kind Regards,
[Signature]

Formal Email Example

send-now-hubspot-sales-bar

It’s hard to visualize a template in action, so let’s create an example using all of our best practices to bring the template above to life.

RE: Parks & Rec + Sweetums Proposal

Hello Nick,

My name is Tom Haverford and we spoke last week about Sweetums’ proposal to be the exclusive supplier of lemonade to all Indiana parks in 2019.

I’d like to get a meeting on our respective calendars to discuss the following:

  • When lemonade would be delivered to park refreshment centers
  • Lemonade sizing and pricing
  • Recycling efforts for used lemonade cups

Please feel free to book time on my calendar here: [Link to calendar]

Kind Regards,
Tom Haverford
Administrator, Pawnee Parks & Recreation
123-456-7890

See my latest article on our "Healthy Parks, Healthy You" initiative here.

send-now-hubspot-sales-bar

Writing a formal email doesn’t have to be scary -- and it doesn’t have to be stuffy. Use these nine tips for better professional emails and ensure your correspondence earns you the respect you deserve.

Want access to more email templates? Check out these templates, guaranteed to start a relationship with your prospect. And click here to learn how to find almost anyone’s email address without being creepy.

New Call-to-Action

22 Apr 18:11

All Salespeople Must Learn These 4 Marketing Tactics to Increase Sales in 2019

by Scott Barker
marketing tactics for salespeople

I have sold to Marketers for a long time. Somewhere along the way, I started thinking like one.

*Gasp*

Don’t get it twisted: I live to drive revenue. So when I first realized I was thinking like a marketer, I was shocked and a little upset. Was I going soft? Losing my edge?

It turns out that this shift in thinking was the single best thing that happened in my career. Instead of “losing my edge”, I gained a whole new arsenal of tools that I could wield to make my job easier. I was able to add more value to my organization, communicate better, close deals faster, and prospects even started coming to me.

I felt like I had just fallen into Wonderland. What was this crazy new world? As I explored it, I began to wonder why more sales people didn’t spend more time here.

It’s been a few years since this shift and I have boiled my success down to four key marketing tactics I now believe all salespeople need to learn to be successful.

Marketing tactics for salespeople:

  1. Learn copywriting skills to create succinct, relevant messages
  2. Use online communities to build a lead generation machine
  3. Build a Brand for Yourself on Social Media
  4. Own the Whole Sales Funnel

1. Learn Copywriting Skills To Create Succinct, Relevant Messages

“If you can’t explain it to a 6-year old, you don’t know it yourself.” – Albert Einstein

Great sales people are excellent communicators but we often fall into the trap of knowing too much about our product or service. Someone who likes storytelling and has a long story to tell can be at a disadvantage. Buyers are more informed than ever and want answers as efficiently and succinctly as possible. Sellers who can tell an engaging story about their product and themselves win.

When I first started creating my own content, particularly blog posts & linkedin posts, a lot of it was way too long and it was too focused around my organization. I learned very quickly: nobody cares.

In the online world you will be given maybe two seconds before people decide if what you are delivering is worth spending their precious time on. I observed that I needed to always lead with value, make it easy to read & keep my message clear, concise and simple.

Here’s an example (note the simplicity and structure):

After I saw how powerful concision could be on LinkedIn, I decided to give it a try on my sales calls, too. My next call finished almost fifteen minutes earlier than my usual thirty minutes. Of those fifteen minutes I was on the phone, I spent only about two of them explaining my value proposition. That deal closed in two weeks.

Do this now:

Review your value proposition and cut it down to 1-2 sentences. If you can’t articulate the value in two sentences tops, I don’t believe that you know your product/service well enough from the perspective of your buyer.

Bonus:

Record your calls and give yourself a mulligan: practice the same points you made in the call, but using only 50% of the words.

2. Contribute in Online Communities to Build a Lead Generation Machine

“‘Build it, and they will come’ only works in the movies. Social Media is a ‘build it, nurture it, engage them’ and they may come and stay.” – Seth Godin

Marketers are great and finding where the ideal customer spends their time and – more importantly – their attention. They know what blogs they read, what newsletters they subscribe to, what slack channels they’re active on, and they spend time and money to make sure their brand is also present in those channels. If you want to create your own steady funnel of leads, you need to take a chapter out of their playbook.

Look for industry-specific groups or communities that are engaged in discussions about the problems and challenges that you can help solve and start to live there. Carve out twenty minutes a day to post and engage with thoughtful comments, and over time you’ll begin to build yourself up as an expert in your field.

No pitching.

I repeat: no pitching.

You want people seeing you as an industry expert/consultant and not just another sales guy. That takes time, and a good faith effort to just be interested and interesting.

I remember the first time an ideal prospect literally begged to jump on a call with me to “pick my brain” after a comment I had left in a group. I almost fainted! But I never looked back. These connections made with prospects in good faith ultimately resulted in over $2.5M in revenue over the past year, without the support of a marketing team (aside from myself).

Do this now:

Go join an industry community your buyers may be interested in, and share an article and your opinions on it. It can’t be an article authored by your organization.

Bonus:

Choose a channel and start to build your own community. This is a hard road, but if done right can pay off in a big way.

3. Build a Brand for Yourself on Social Media

“Extreme Ownership. Leaders must own everything in their world. There is no one else to blame.” – Jacco Willick

Don’t you wish marketing had your back more? How come your accounts never get those re-targeted ads or invited on those fancy webinars? Maybe then your decision maker would actually get back to you, your deals wouldn’t have stalled, and your quarter would have been a big win.

I remember having these thoughts. Being frustrated. Feeling like I was helpless. I would follow up three, four, ten times with every member of the buying committee and even try a new champion but still nothing. Deals dragged on as I continued this endless follow-up.

By becoming my own marketer, I realized that I didn’t have to wait for marketing to provide me with air cover. I could build a drone to cover my ass while I battled it out in the trenches. And that drones name is: targeted, relevant content. It’s helped me get more than a million views of my LinkedIn content in the past year.

Creating social content is not just a top of the funnel activity to drive new leads, either. It’s helped me push stalled deals along, too. I can’t even count the times I’ve posted a video on LinkedIn and magically the next day my prospect sends me a note apologizing for being absent, explaining that they were just “very, very busy”.

People lead busy lives so make it difficult for them to forget about you.

Do this now:

Pick a challenge your prospects face, come up with three bullet points that can help them solve it (without your product), and go create your first LinkedIn video. Use subtitles to increase engagement.

Bonus:

Learn how to edit your videos with iMovie, to take your video quality a notch or two above your competitors.

4. Own the Whole Sales Funnel

“The more the world is specialized, the more it will be run by generalists” – Marcel Masse

I’m not on the whole “robots are going to replace salespeople” train. Frankly, I think that’s a ridiculous idea. But I do think that AI will slowly start taking over menial, repeatable tasks and sellers who act like order-takers will no longer have a place at the table. The future of sales will demand creativity, humanity, and authenticity, because AI cannot do those things.

Deep role specialization in sales has become the norm, but I actually think that AI and new tech will bring back the “generalist” who has a wide variety of skills in sales, marketing and operations. Rather than focus on acting on one part of the sales process, generalists can use tools all the way from lead gen to close, and spend their time optimizing the whole funnel, all the way to close. They will perform as many different business functions as is needed in the organization at that given moment.

Businesses are moving faster than ever and don’t have time to go out hire a new person every time they want to exploit a particular opportunity in the market. I believe that orgs will start to look for salespeople that can have an impact beyond just the revenue they bring in.

Do this now:

Go learn how to use Canva and create that piece of sales enablement material that you’ve been begging for!

Bonus:

Learn how to build and manage a sales stack, and test new tools on your own to improve your technical skills.

Looking for More Inspiration?

Here are a few salespeople who are great marketers that I’d recommend following (in no particular order):

The post All Salespeople Must Learn These 4 Marketing Tactics to Increase Sales in 2019 appeared first on Sales Hacker.

22 Apr 18:11

5 Key Moves for B2B Intent Marketing

by Amy Koski

Using data to fuel and optimize a legacy marketing strategy into an intent marketing strategy is a priority for many Marketing and Sales organizations in the B2B industry.

The capturing and synthesizing of insights from buyer intent signals emitted on the web is possible because of key technology enablers such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, automated marketing platforms, and intent data providers.

In an article on DMNews.com, Kayla Matthews explores five robust opportunities for B2B organizations to succeed at “intent marketing,” or “any marketing that concentrates on a what a prospect tells marketers, ether directly or indirectly, they need or want at a given point in time.”

Five Ways to Succeed at Intent Marketing

  1. Video ad targeting is a key tactic to leverage the power of intent data. Marketing spend allocated to video advertising can really get some mileage; even B2B prospects scroll through their phones and engage with ads.

Marketers can even target ads on YouTube videos to prospects who have been identified and segmented based on purchase intent signals they’ve emitted.

  1. Increased data volume is both a boon and a potential trap for data-hungry marketing organizations. Though today’s unprecedented amounts of data about user intent, behavior, purchase history and much more are powering B2B Marketing and Sales operations, they still require careful attention and thorough governance. With great amounts of data come great privacy, security, and compliance requirements.

Competitive marketing technology stacks contain tools and software that enable the collection and analysis of such huge quantities and disparate types of data, and they allow marketers and sales reps to execute personalization tactics to engage the right audiences at the right time, using various approaches and channels.

  1. AI introduces many possibilities and capabilities to the modern marketing function. AI-powered programs and analytics capture buyer intent signals from amidst the din of all web traffic; natural language processing engines parse keywords, searches, research behavior, and content consumption; and machine learning algorithms are able to learn from the data insights to make better and better predictions about outcomes and buyer journeys and intent.

Indeed, Aberdeen research shows that augmenting your marketing operations with AI improves performance and return on marketing investment.

Additionally, the increasing ease-of-use and user-friendliness of business intelligence and data analytics programs means even your least tech-savvy marketers can make some sense of insights that used to need a data scientist to discover and interpret.

  1. Account-based marketing (ABM) has replaced the marketing strategies of the past, and it’s not even what you’d call nascent any longer. ABM lets marketers focus their efforts on intelligently segmented categories of prospects and treat those engagements as they would interactions with established accounts – not just prospects.

Intent data is the key to successful ABM. It informs the segmentation of prospects who have emitted purchase intent signals, and the machine learning algorithms can use their historical predictions to refine and improve each subsequent prediction.

  1. Intent-based content marketing is possible only with verified and accurate intent data. Throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks doesn’t do it anymore; B2B marketers must consider buyer intent when strategizing and creating content.

When content matches a user’s intent, it will perform better, resonate more, and engage the user much more than content that doesn’t address their needs or stage of the buyer’s journey. A prospect conducts active research when they have a problem to solve – use your content to address the problem they’ve expressed intent to solve.

As cutting-edge, artificially intelligent marketing stacks improve, content-based marketing will become more effective at helping prospects find the solutions they seek than any marketing they’ve (or we’ve!) known.

22 Apr 18:11

The Rules of Sales Engagement Have Changed {Infographic}

by Laura Hall

Did you know that 68% of buyers prefer to research information about purchasing options on their own? In fact, 60% prefer not to interact with a salesperson at all!1  What’s a salesperson to do to get buyers to engage?

A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of SalesLoft found that “while increasingly independent, prospective customers will engage with knowledgeable, empathetic, and informed sellers who provide relevant information and insights tailored to their business and needs.”2

Translation: The rules of (sales) engagement have changed. Sales professionals can’t afford to come across as unprepared or pushy. B2B buyers now expect sales experiences.

How exactly can sellers accomplish this? From Forrester:

To address this challenge, revenue-producing teams are adopting customer-obsessed sales engagement strategies, ones that harness customer data and technology to personalize sales communications, establish a human connection, and drive decisions based on how buyers really buy. Top firms are turning to sales enablement technologies to help produce these outcomes: Half of the sales and marketing professionals that Forrester surveyed last year said their sales enablement budgets increased in 2018 relative to 2017, with 27% reporting investment increases of more than 15% compared to the prior year.3

SalesLoft commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct a Total Economic ImpactTM (TEI) study to examine the potential return on investment (ROI) enterprises may realize by adopting the SalesLoft sales engagement platform. Our platform enables firms to create a personalized, scalable, and consistent go-to-market process across the sales organization.

Using the Forrester Consulting TEITM report, we created an infographic to demonstrate some of the topline results from the study. Keep reading if you’re interested in how SalesLoft’s sales engagement platform enables organizations to create a personalized, scalable, and consistent go-to-market process across the sales organization. Or simply if cost savings are of interest to you.

Oh, and there’s a fun fact about the cost of Alaska.

Forrester TEI Report Findings

SalesLoft TEI Stats Infographic


Interested in learning more about how SalesLoft’s sales engagement platform can transform your sales organization?  Download the full report here.

SalesLot Forrester TEI Study

22 Apr 18:11

How to Optimize your LinkedIn Profile for Sales [2019 Edition]

by Lindsay Melo
how to optimize linkedin profile for sales

If your LinkedIn profile talks about how you’ve made president’s club, your goal attainment, or the sizes of deals you closed, you’re doing it wrong.

You should be proud of those achievements, but as a salesperson you should optimize your LinkedIn profile for sales, not for your ego.

By paying careful attention to each element of your profile, you set yourself up for successful social selling.

Here is how all salespeople should optimize their LinkedIn profile:

  1. Choose a profile photo that represents you authentically
  2. Use a custom cover photo
  3. Craft a LinkedIn headline that appeals to buyers
  4. Write a bio that attracts the right connections
  5. Fill your experience section with positivity
  6. Show how interesting you are with education and volunteer experience
  7. List your most important skills and get endorsements
  8. Get recommendations from trusted professionals
  9. Highlight your accomplishments

Choose a Profile Photo that Represents You Authentically

Who are you? What is your personal brand? Are you a buttoned-up, traditional professional or are you more of a pretty chill dude?

However you describe yourself, you need a profile picture that represents you both as a person and as a personal brand. To make that work, there are some things you should do, and some you definitely shouldn’t.

LinkedIn Profile Picture Do’s and Dont’s:

  1. DON’T include multiple people: People want to know who you are. If that’s hard to figure out, they’re less likely to put in the effort to make a connection.
  1. DO be authentic: If you’re a very serious person, go ahead and take a serious photo. If you’re a little more relaxed, it’s probably okay to go with a cheerful candid or a reasonably creative photo that conveys your unique flair. That said…
  1. DON’T think of your LinkedIn profile image like an Instagram selfie: LinkedIn remains a professional setting. This may not be the right place for your alluring pouty face.
  1. DON’T hold alcohol: Unless you’re in alcohol sales of some kind, it’s generally not a great idea to show off your enthusiasm for liquor on LinkedIn. In fact, it might be a good idea to skip food or beverages in your profile picture in general.

If you can’t seem to find a photo of yourself that makes the cut, think about booking a professional shoot or asking a friend to take some photos when you hang out next. Just remember what you’re taking the photos for, and make sure you communicate that clearly.

Create a Custom Cover Photo

After your profile picture, the cover photo is the first thing people see on your LinkedIn profile. Most of the time, people leave their cover photo on the default or are some random photo of pencils or a forest.

Look at all this wasted space:

That’s no good! This is the most valuable real estate on your LinkedIn profile to constantly keep your prospects and peers updated on your company.

But look at this beauty:

(Check out any of the Lessonly team member’s LinkedIn profiles. They have a variety of custom header images their team can choose from that allow employees to express themselves while representing their brand.)

If you don’t already have a cover photo that your marketing team designed, here are some tips on designing your cover photo:

  1. Customize it for LinkedIn: My mother always said if you’re going to do something, do it right. So, when you go to create your LinkedIn cover photo, please understand the nuances like the circular photo in the bottom-left corner, the sizing of the image, and how it looks both on mobile and desktop.

There are some helpful (and free) templates in Canva that help with this.

  1. Keep it Relevant and Up-to-Date: Did your company just publish an epic white paper or ebook? Ask the marketing team to create custom social covers that bring awareness to it while having a clear call to action.
  1. Be Clear and Concise: You don’t want a million words or supersaturated graphics on your cover photo. Figure out how you can provide just enough value to keep your prospect interested in your company.

Craft a LinkedIn Headline that Appeals to Buyers

A good LinkedIn headline should quickly capture other users’ interest with relevant information. Consider the following:

  1. Use your company one-liner: Chances are, your marketing team put a lot of effort into developing that one-liner you never use. Think about using it as your headline. That way, you and your prospects can get used to this phrasing for your product offering before they even enter the sales funnel.

Here’s a good example from Max Altschuler, VP of Marketing at Outreach.

  1. Exclude your job title: While your prospects may buy from you, they aren’t necessarily coming to your LinkedIn because they care about you specifically. They want to know what you can do for them. So instead of your title, try including your passions, skills, or even a product description in your headline. And never use the words “guru”, “ninja”, or “rockstar”.

I like this example headline from Mark Aquino at New Relic:

  1. Create a story: If you feel in your heart of hearts that it’s important to tell the world what you do, craft it into a story that demonstrates a kind of case study. For example, an account executive might say, “I build relationships with individuals by understanding their needs and connecting them to the right products.”

Focus the story on the outcomes you give your prospects, not on your individual function.

For example, look at Joe Apfelbaum’s headline:

  1. Don’t Brag: We all know you’re the best salesperson, but your prospect doesn’t care. Don’t brag about being a “quota crusher” or any other super sales-jargon, all-about-me talk. You can highlight an accomplishment (especially if it’s outside of work), but don’t go overboard.

Now that you’ve crafted a compelling headline, let’s move on to your LinkedIn bio.

Write a Bio That Attracts the Right Connections

The bio is one of the central parts of your LinkedIn page, and one of the most important. It can teach people a lot about you, and your prospects can learn about what your company can do for them.

It’s super important to get this part right. Here’s how.

  1. Write the way you talk: Sales is all about building genuine connections. If your LinkedIn bio sounds like it was written by a robot, that’s the impression your prospects will get.

Don’t be afraid to be true to yourself, or to add a personal flair to your bio (I like to throw a “y’all” in every so often). Being down-to-earth and real with others will go a long way toward making the right connections. Check out David Gerhardt if you want to see authenticity in action.

  1. Start with your prospect’s problem: Can I repeat this enough? This is all your prospect cares about. Demonstrate that you know what that problem is by focusing on how you can help them deal with the issues that impact them most.

Here’s a solid example from Viveka (Vivica) von Rosen:

(emojis are okay if that’s your brand)

(or you can hone in on your ideal customer’s exact problems)

  1. Share a testimonial: Has one of your accounts contributed a testimonial, or can you for one? If so, using this in your summary can be powerful.

This example LinkedIn Bio from Heather Ann Havenwood is great:

  1. Share facts and figures: If you can incorporate real sales statistics that demonstrate how you helped customers and maybe even add a case study or two, that will show prospects that you’re all about adding measurable value.

Richard Harris has this down:

  1. Add keywords: Some people include keywords based on the top skills listed at the bottom of their LinkedIn summary. I also suggest adding keywords that your prospects are likely to search, so your profile appears in LinkedIn search results. Check the tags on your company blog if you need a quick way to figure this out.
  1. Don’t be afraid to brag about your company (not yourself): If you haven’t done that, the end of your bio is the perfect place to talk about how much you love your company, and your team and the results they achieve for customers.
  1. Include your contact information: Make sure you to add at least your email address and company website to the contact info section in your intro. You need to be easy to reach!

Fill Your Experience Section with Positivity

It’s tempting to fill out your experience section like a resume, or a job description. Before you do, though, remember that your buyer doesn’t care about your quota attainment – only their own problems.

So how should you approach this section? This can be easier than you think. Just do the following:

  1. Get everyone on the same page: It’s important to align your sales and marketing teams around what your company description should be. Like your one-liner, this will help to build a consistent brand in the minds of your prospects, regardless of who they speak to at your organization.
  1. Do a bit of humble bragging: Have you helped a lot of people in your position? Have your clients achieved impressive goals because of your products? Shout it out, and show your gratitude for being given the opportunity to help so many people.
  1. Include all your positions: If your role changed while you were at any one employer, list all those positions. If you had several title changes, but your responsibilities remained the same, just focus on the different things you achieved in each role.
  1. Keep it short: Unlike this article, your experience descriptions should be pretty short for each position. Aim for less than 75 words. Bullet points can help keep things concise and readable, too.
  1. Add a punchy call to action: At the end of the day, you always want your prospects to take action. Add a vibrant CTA on your description of your current role that leads to prospects to a relevant page on your website, like a case study, product page, or pricing page.

Here’s a great example of a simple CTA:

Show How Interesting You Are With Education and Volunteer Experience

You exist outside of work! Use this section to provide high-level information that points to the human behind the screen.

Get your degree in something weird? A great conversation starter.

Join a board of directors for a non-profit? You can flex a little here.

There are a few key things to avoid, though:

  • DON’T include your highschool, even if you went to a fancy private academy your parents paid too much for
  • DON’T include fraternity or sorority volunteer experience. Instead, go volunteer somewhere new, then update your LinkedIn profile.
  • DON’T include the year in which you graduated from college. Sometimes age can be an unconscious bias in how people communicate with and respect you.

List Your Most Important Skills and Get Endorsements

While it’s nice to be appreciated by your coworkers, LinkedIn endorsements shouldn’t be given only by your peers. You also need endorsements from credible people in your field and from the customers you’ve helped. This shows that you know how to add value and that you’re good at building connections.

Which skills should you choose for this section? I recommend keeping it mostly simple, focusing mainly on the tactics you rely on to help your prospects, which they’re most likely searching for anyway.

Get Recommendations from Trusted Professionals

Many people think that recommendations only matter for your future career opportunities, but they also act as testimonials.

If you can write a genuine recommendation about your experience of working with someone, do it. Chances are, they’ll return the favor, adding value for both of you. This goes for prospects-turned-customers, too!

If they don’t respond immediately, don’t panic. Consider nudging them with a few endorsements, but be ready to move on to a new LinkedIn connection with a great recommendation if it doesn’t work out.

Highlight Your Accomplishments: Honors & Awards, Projects, Publications, Language

This section can either make you look like the rockstar you are… or it can make you look like a total jerk. There’s an art to talking about your accomplishments, and when you’re in sales this becomes crucial.

Here are some tips:

  1. List only External Honors & Awards: No president’s club! Instead, focus this section on external awards you received like being a part of Sales Hacker’s Annual Top 50 Awards.
  1. Publications: If you’re a big guest-poster or have been quoted in a wide variety of sales content, this is the place to showcase it.
  1. Languages: If you don’t really speak that language, don’t include it. Two years of French from high school doesn’t count.
  1. Projects: Most people leave this section blank. But if you did some great sales project or helped a customer build a custom solution (and have their permission to share) highlight it here.

Now get to selling!

Optimizing your profile is only the first step to successful social selling on LinkedIn, but it’s an important one. Now you’ve got to create social content that gets attention, connect with the right people, and start real-world sales conversations.

Good luck!

The post How to Optimize your LinkedIn Profile for Sales [2019 Edition] appeared first on Sales Hacker.

22 Apr 18:10

How to Align Your Sales Collateral with the Modern Buyer’s Journey

by Lucas Welch

The best sellers use tailored sales collateral — materials developed by their business to support the sales process — to engage prospects at the right time with the right information to close deals faster. Today’s most effective collateral bears little resemblance to the jargon-heavy brochures of years past. In fact, modern sales collateral pivots away from the vendor’s perspective and instead incorporates insight from credible third parties. According to Gartner, “content that features a third party telling or validating a story is inherently more credible and trustworthy than the same story told by a vendor.”

Answer These Four Questions to Develop Effective Sales Collateral

None of this is news for top-performing sales and marketing teams. But as buyers’ expectations evolve alongside rapid technology disruption in every industry, it may be increasingly difficult for sales and marketing to consistently develop collateral that influences revenue. The key to successful sales collateral is to map the content to your buyer’s needs by asking these simple questions:

  1. Who are we selling to?
  2. What questions do they need answered and when?
  3. Who do they trust to answer these questions?
  4. What content will most effectively answer their questions?

Build the Foundation for Sales Collateral that Connects

Answering these questions will define the basics of your buyer personas. Let’s say your company sells a modern application development automation platform, so software developers and their managers are both target buyers. Here are the questions that matter and some example answers:

  1. Motivation (such as, “How can I accelerate release velocity?”)
  2. Purchase process (ex. Hacker News > open source > free trials > deep-dive demo with sales engineer)
  3. Influencers (fellow developers, VP of Development)
  4. Preferred communication styles (Anything but email)

These insights are a critical part of developing sales collateral that connects with your prospects and differentiates you from your competition. Though acquiring this information may seem daunting at first, the plethora of research on a vast range of buyer types, plus the many tools that make surveying and actually speaking to your existing customer base cost- and time-efficient, have significantly lowered the barrier to real understanding of potential buyers.

Develop Sales Collateral that Maps to Your Buyer’s Journey

Once you have a strong foundation of anecdotal and data-based intelligence, you can confidently develop collateral that aligns to the purchase process, often called the buyer’s journey, so your sales team can answer your prospects’ questions with credible information that matches their current decision-making stage.

To continue our software developer example, it’s unlikely a developer prospect will want a support pricing document when they’ve just begun researching modern development processes. However, they may very well want access to a notable technology analyst’s side-by-side comparison of popular development methodologies. You can also give your prospect relevant information that differentiates your platform by following up a 300-level demonstration with collateral that details the technology integrations and coding languages your product supports.

Regardless of the stage, it’s critical to map sales collateral to your prospects’ motivations at any given time. SiriusDecisions found that 71% of sales leaders say that their sellers fail to connect their solution to prospects’ needs. So, just as best practices guidance and credible third-party advice is influential early in the buyer’s journey, detailed case studies that align with the prospect’s use case and demonstrate a clear return on investment will be critical in the decision-making stage.

Sales Collateral Only Works If It’s Easy to Use

You understand your buyer, their motivations and influences, and their journey to a purchase. By leveraging credible third-party voices, insightful data, and existing customer stories, you build a sales collateral repository that likely includes:

  • Third-party research
  • Best practice guides
  • Sales presentations
  • Customer case studies
  • Product overview and deep dive materials
  • Pricing guides

Now that you’re in the last mile to influence revenue with sales collateral, how do you enable sellers to learn about, find, and use this content? How do you track their use and see if they’re aligning collateral to the appropriate buyer’s journey stages? How do you know what is generating real buyer engagement and what’s falling flat?

Sales enablement technology can answer these questions and offer a comprehensive platform for organizing, using, and analyzing the effectiveness of sales collateral. By providing your sales teams with a single workflow for intuitive content management, just-in-time training, efficient communication, and dynamic pitching, you’ll maximize the value of sales collateral in shortening deal cycles.

Sales collateral is paramount to buyer engagement. Follow the steps outlined in this blog to build a strong foundation for creating compelling collateral, and then explore sales enablement technology to turbocharge your sales execution.

22 Apr 18:10

10 Tips for Successful Discovery Calls In Sales

by Chris Orlob
Discovery Calls

This guest post was contributed by Chris Orlob, Senior Director-Product Marketing at Gong.io. 

Discovery calls set the trajectory for your deal.

They dictate what you show during your product demo, what objections your customer raises, and even how much negotiation leverage you’re left with at the end of the sales process.

The tips below will help you WIN your discovery calls, and they’re all easily put in place.

PS: Check out our full list of 55 sales tips and techniques.

1. Flip your webcam on

This may seem like an odd discovery call tip, but there’s a reason we’re saying it here.

Having your webcam on matters more during a discovery call than on any other type of call.

Other calls are full of visuals: demo calls have a product demo, presentations have a visual slide deck, etc.

Discovery calls are the exception. It’s just you and the buyer, face to face.

If your webcam is off, there’s nothing to hold the buyer’s visual interest. That makes buyers far more likely to grow fatigued by your questions.

Our data shows that won deals involve 41% more webcam usage than lost deals:

When you’re face to face, your call stops feeling like an interrogation to your buyer. It turns into a real conversation.

It lets your buyer see the genuine interest in your face, which helps build rapport.

They can see that you’re not just ticking boxes off a checklist — you’re there for a real chat.

2. Phrase your questions to get long answers

Your sole purpose on a discovery call is to learn everything you can about your buyer’s needs.

That information will shape your entire sales process and inform your approach.

One-word answers aren’t going to give you the information you need. You need your buyer to ante up and spill the tea.

There’s evidence that the length of your buyer’s responses directly correlates to your deal’s chances of success:

Whoa.

Get those buyers talking.

When you get a longer customer story, you increase your odds of:

  • Moving the deal to the next stage
  • Closing the deal

Here’s what you want your conversation to look like:

Do we have tips on how to get long responses to discovery questions? Of course.

Here’s the best one:

Ask questions that encourage a long response.

Move up from the standard who, what, when, where, why, and how.

Get into richer territory with this type of phrasing:

  • Can you help me understand …
  • Can you walk me through …
  • Can you talk to me about …
  • Can you tell me about …

Drop “What’s your biggest challenge?”

Turn it into “Can you help me understand your biggest challenge?”

It’s a small shift, but it tells your buyer that you want an in-depth answer.

We promise, you’ll get richer answers if you use this tip, and they’ll help you craft a more tailored sales process.

3. What would an expert ask?

“There are no dumb questions!” WRONG.

There are, and you don’t want to be the one asking them. Asking just one or two bad questions destroys your credibility at turbo speed.

Get your expert question-asking groove on. Make your buyer think.  

You don’t want them to recite their problems by rote. You want them to trust you and reveal something at every turn.

You can help buyers get there by asking questions that demonstrate your competence.

I used to work at InsideSales.com, and I’d ask this within the first few minutes of my sales calls:

“Can you walk me through your sales process, from when you first generate a new lead, all the way to a closed deal?”

That phrasing was noticeably more effective than, “What’s your sales process?”

It told the buyer I was serious, competent, and looking to earnestly dig into a topic with them.

“What’s your sales process?” Pleeease. Step it up.

I guarantee that you have more intelligent phrasing in you. If you use it, you’ll see an uptick in your sales numbers.

When buyers know they’re in an expert’s hands, their guard drops and they reveal more information.

4. Don’t ask too few or too many questions

Want to know exactly how many questions to ask during a sales call? Cause there’s absolutely a sweet spot.

Here’s your freebie :

On introductory discovery calls, ask between 11 and 14 questions:

Ask more than that and you risk making your buyer feel interrogated. Fewer than that and you won’t get you enough information to plan your remaining sales process.

Now that you have the right number of questions, what type of questions are you going to ask?

You could decide based on looking at dozens of sales methodologies, but we recommend taking the shortcut of reading the next sentence.

What those methods all have in common is that they uncover business problems or opportunities. That’s what your questions should target:

(Our discovery calls post dishes out more data on this topic.)

There’s one group you have to watch out for though: the C-suite.

Selling to a C-suite executive is a more dangerous undertaking as they won’t tolerate most questions well.

Check out how steeply win rates drop after asking C-suite execs just a few questions:

You want to stick to an average of four questions when you sell to the C-suite. Go to eight questions and you’re almost guaranteed to be unsuccessful:

Why is this phenomenon crystal clear?

Senior executives are so tired of discovery. They’re done with it.

You’re not the first discovery call this round, and they’re sick of answering the same old questions. Over and over.

5. Base your questions on what your buyer just said

Prepare some questions in advance so you hit your main points. But don’t be afraid to craft most of your questions on the fly.

You can’t do this well unless you LISTEN to what your buyer says.

The top sales reps know that’s the right way to have a conversation.

Average reps ignore what their buyers say in favor of scripted questions. They rely on a checklist to get them through the conversation, and it shows.

They hit buyers with a pepper spray of questions at the beginning of the call:

Look at the top performers. See how they have a steady number of questions throughout the call? That’s because they’re asking questions based on the actual conversation.

There’s a real back and forth to the discussion.

That’s how you have great discovery calls, like the ones our sales team rocks here at Gong.io:

Your questions should follow up on what your buyer says, so the conversation sounds something like this:

  • Sales rep: Can you help me understand when exactly deals go dark during your sales process?
  • Buyer: Yeah … we’ve noticed that it’s typically right after our product demos. Buyers get excited about the demo, which is great. But the next step of getting their VP scheduled on a call is a nightmare. They always say it’ll be easy, but it rarely is. Sometimes we follow up week after week, and still never get a reply.
  • Sales rep: Got it. Could you do anything differently to stop that from happening as often?

Yes, real life conversations are more complex, but you get the point. A good sales rep doesn’t change topics. They dive deeper into issues the buyer raises.

6. Check your talk-to-listen ratio

The top salespeople habitually listen more than they talk.

Their average talk-to-listen ratio during discovery calls is 46:54 (so they’re talking for 46% of the time and listening for 54%):

While this seems obvious, let’s be clear: They’re chatting less because they’ve done everything else right.

It’s not as if talking for 46% of the time is the major secret to closing deals. It’s not causal.

It’s the result of doing everything else correctly. Doing all the other things we’ve talked about naturally coaxes your talk-to-listen ratio into this range.

We have a few other tricks up our sleeves to keep buyers chatting. Keep reading.

7. Repeat 1-3 important words

Want to know how to keep those buyers talking? Do this:

  • Repeat 1-3 of the most important words in their last statement.
  • Say them like you’re asking a question.

Here’s what that might sound like:

  • Buyer: It’s tough to differentiate ourselves from the competition. Our reps back peddle whenever customers ask about differentiators, even though our reps know the product is strong.
  • Sales rep: Back peddle?
  • Buyer: Yep. They totally fumble the ball. I wish they’d say something crisp and strong, but they ramble and stumble. Their answers are totally inconsistent.
  • Sales rep: Inconsistent?
  • Buyer: Totally. It’s such a big problem for us. Even bigger than differentiating ourselves. Give me 70 sales reps and I’ll show you 70 different approaches to sales calls. They all have their own narrative, and their processes are all over the map.

I love this sales technique because buyers consistently expand on their point. You won’t get one-word replies if you use it.

By using their own words, you guarantee that you’re speaking their language and asking questions that resonate.

Sure, the questions are super short, but they’re effective. More effective than saying, “Can you expand on that?”

Nothing feels as good to your buyer as their own words. They experience 0% internal friction when you ask questions that way.

This tip belongs to Chris Voss, and I highly recommend reading his book (and be sure to check out our full list of recommended sales books).

8. Label your buyer’s emotions with this phrase

Chris Voss calls this one labeling, but you can think of it as empathy squared.

At some point, you’ll hear your buyer express an emotion. Use one of these sentences to label it on the spot:

For this to work, you have to get the emotion right. So be clear about what you’ve heard.

Here’s how it might sound:

  • Buyer: Onboarding new sales reps is completely taxing. It brings the enablement department to its knees every time we have to create training material.
  • Sales rep: It sounds like you feel overwhelmed with every new onboarding class.

If you hit the nail on the head and name the emotion correctly, the response will be brilliant.

Now zip it and listen to their response. That’s the trick!

Sit back and let the buyer prattle on, uninterrupted.

9. Pause (Even if it’s awkward)

If I gave you a dollar every time you heard a rep interrupt a buyer’s response, you’d level up your life in no time. Flush with cash.

It’s an awful mistake reps make constantly. No seriously. Like, ALL THE TIME.

Let’s put a stop to that.

It sounds impossible, but you should pause for three long seconds when your buyer stops speaking.

Do it after any of the sales techniques in this article, and it will amplify them.

Most people want to fill the void of silence. If you can pause for just a few seconds longer than feels natural, your buyer will take the bait and keep speaking (i.e., deliver info that helps you close deals).

10. Get to “That’s right!” with a summary

Prepare yourself for a sad stat.

For 95% of their lives, people feel misunderstood.

The good news is that you can blow people’s minds if you make them feel understood.

Do that by listening on every call for your buyer’s underlying fears and their (possibly not-so-secret) frustrations.

At the end of the call, summarize their experience in their own words.

Wait for them to lean in with amazement.

And reap the rewards.

Ever heard of Solution Selling? This step is so critical to that methodology that a third of its nine types of discovery questions are about summarizing confirmations:

Imagine. You have the chance to make someone feel understood for the first time ever.

It’s a shocking prospect.

Here’s how you put it into play.

Say this toward the end of your call:

“Let me summarize what I’ve heard from you so far …”

Spend 30 seconds telling their story in their own words and close it off with this question:

“Did I get that right?”

If you listened accurately and did it right, you’ll practically hear them sigh with relief.

For more advice that can help you achieve your ideal sales scenarios, be sure to subscribe to the LinkedIn Sales blog.

 

22 Apr 18:09

What's Your Product's Actual (and Average) Selling Price

by mhart@hubspot.com (Meredith Hart)

It's a well-known fact: businesses need money to survive.

Not only can it be spent on short-term business purchases, but it can also be used for long-term investments in the company's growth.

 

The primary way companies earn money is by selling their products or services. And about 75% of a company’s revenue comes from its standard products.

How you price these products can be a make or break decision for your business. The price should be high enough to cover production costs, but reasonable enough that potential buyers will be willing to purchase it.

But, what's the best way to calculate your product's selling price? Let's dive in and demystify the process.Free Download: Sales Plan Template

Selling Price

The selling price is the amount a buyer pays for a product or service. The price can vary depending on how much buyers are willing to pay, how much the seller is willing to accept, and how competitive the price is in comparison to other businesses in the market.

Selling price can also be known as market price, list price, or standard price. And the following factors help organizations determine the selling price of its products:

  • The price a buyer is willing to pay
  • The price a seller is willing to accept
  • The price that's competitive in the market

Depending on the type of business and its offerings, it might prioritize one of the factors over the others. The average selling price of a product can also be used to determine the price you should assign your product.

Average Selling Price

Average selling price (ASP) is the amount of money a product in a specific category is sold for, across different markets and channels. It can be used as a benchmark for businesses who need to determine a selling price for its products.

For example, the average selling price for PCs is $632. Let's say you're trying to determine a price for your high-end, personal computer (PC). You'd likely choose to price your product above the average to stand out as a luxury PC provider.

When you're ready to calculate your product's selling price, a simple formula can be used.

Selling Price Formula

The selling price formula is:

Selling Price = Cost Price + Profit Margin

Cost price is the price a retailer paid for the product. And the profit margin is a percentage of the cost price.

So, how do you calculate the selling price for your product? Use the selling price formula below:

Selling Price = Cost Price + Profit Margin

Let's define the key elements in the formula.

  • Cost Price: The price a retailer paid for the product
  • Profit Margin: A percentage of the cost price.

How to Calculate Selling Price Per Unit

  1. Determine the total cost of all units purchased.
  2. Divide the total cost by the number of units purchased to get the cost price.
  3. Use the selling price formula to calculate the final price: Selling Price = Cost Price + Profit Margin

For example, Hot Pie's Bakery Supply needs to calculate the selling price for its product line of bread machines. The business purchased 20 bread machines for $3,000.

  • Total cost of units purchased: $3,000
  • Number of units purchased: 20
  • Cost price: $150 ($3,000/20)

Now it's time to plug the numbers into the selling price formula. The cost price for each bread machine is $150, and the business hopes to earn a 40% profit margin. Here's what the formula would look like in action:

Selling Price = $150 + (40% x $150)

Selling Price = $150 + (0.4 x $150)

Selling Price = $150 + $60

Selling Price = $210

Now, Hot Pie's Bakery Supply has a selling price -- each bread machine will be sold to buyers for $210.

With the correct selling price, your business can earn a profit. To learn more about pricing strategies, check out this quick guide to cost-plus pricing next.

sales plan

22 Apr 18:09

How to Develop a Strategic Plan for Business Development [Free Template]

by Meg Prater

Business development. It’s usually confused with sales, often overlooked, and only sometimes given the strategic focus it deserves. Having a business development strategy, however, is crucial to long term success and ensuring that everyone in your company is working toward a common goal.

But how do you develop a business development plan? Pull up a chair and stay awhile, I’m diving into that and more below.

Free Download: Sales Plan Template

Strategic Plan

Business development is the practice of identifying, attracting, and acquiring new business to further your company’s revenue and growth goals. How you achieve these goals is sometimes referred to as a business development strategy -- and it applies to and benefits everyone at your company.

It’s not unusual to mistake business development with sales, but there’s an important distinction between the two. Business development refers to many activities and functions inside and outside the traditional sales team structure. In some companies, business development is part of the larger sales operations team. In others, it’s part of the marketing team or sits on its own team altogether.

When we refer to a business development strategic plan, however, we’re referring to a roadmap that guides the whole company and requires everyone’s assistance to execute successfully and move your customer through your flywheel and close deals.

Strategic Plan Template

  1. Craft your elevator pitch
  2. Include an executive summary
  3. Set SMART goals
  4. Conduct a SWOT analysis
  5. Determine how you’ll measure success
  6. Set a budget
  7. Identify your target customer
  8. Choose an outreach strategy

1. Craft your elevator pitch

What is your company’s mission and how do you explain it to potential clients in 30 seconds or less? Keeping your elevator pitch at the forefront of all strategic planning will remind everyone what you’re working toward and why.

Some people believe the best pitch isn’t a pitch at all, but a story. Recent studies show 5% of meeting attendees remember statistics and 63% remember stories. Others have their favorite types of pitches, from a one-word pitch to a Twitter pitch that forces you to boil down your elevator pitch to just 140 characters.

Find the elevator pitch that works best for your reps, company, and offer, and document it in your business development strategy.

2. Include an executive summary

You’ll share your strategic plan with executives and maybe even board members, so it’s important they have a high-level overview to skim. Pick the most salient points from your strategic plan and list or summarize them here.

You might already have an executive summary for your company if you’ve written a business proposal or value proposition. Use this as a jumping off point but create one that’s unique to your business development goals and priorities.

Once your executives have read your summary, they should have a pretty good idea of your direction for growing the business -- without having to read the rest of your strategy.

3. Set SMART goals

What are your goals for this strategy? If you don’t know, it will be difficult for your company and team to align behind your plan. So, set SMART goals. Remember, SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Assignable
  • Relevant
  • Time-based

If one of your goals is for 5% of monthly revenue to come from upsells or cross-sells, make this goal specific by identifying what types of clients you’ll target.

Identify how you’ll measure success. Is success when reps conduct upsell outreach to 30 clients every month, or is it when they successful upsell a customer and close the business? To make your goal assignable, ensure everyone on your team understands who is responsible for this goal: in this case, sales or business development reps.

This goal is relevant because it will help your company grow, and likely contributes to larger company-wide goals. To make it time-based, set a timeline for success and action. In this case, your sales team must achieve that 5% upsell/cross-sell number by the end of the quarter.

4. Conduct SWOT analysis

SWOT is a strategic planning technique used to identify a company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Before conducting a SWOT, identify what your goal is. For example, “We’d like to use SWOT to learn how best to conduct outreach to prospective buyers.

Once you’ve identified what you’re working toward, conduct market research by talking with your staff, business partners, and customers.

Next, identify your business’ strengths. Perhaps you have low employee turnover, a central location that makes it easy to visit with prospects in person, or an in-demand feature your competitors haven’t been able to mimic.

Your business’ weaknesses are next. Has your product recently glitched? Have you been unable to successfully build out a customer service team that can meet the demands of your customers?

Then, switch to opportunities. For example, have you made a new business partnership that will transition you into a previously untapped market segment?

What are the threats? Is your physical space getting crowded? What about your market space? Is increasing competition an issue?

Use SWOT results to identify a better way forward for your company.

5. Determine how you’ll measure success

You’ve identified strengths and weaknesses and set SMART goals, but how will you measure it all? It’s important for your team to know just how they will be measured, goaled, and rewarded. Common key performance indicators (KPIs) for business development include:

  • Company growth
  • Revenue
  • Lead conversion rate
  • Leads generated per month
  • Client satisfaction
  • Pipeline value
  • Reach

6. Set a budget

What will your budget be for achieving your goals? Review financial documents, historical budgets, and operational estimates to set a budget that’s realistic.

Once you have a “draft” budget, check it against other businesses in your industry and region to make sure you’re not overlooking or misjudging any numbers. Don’t forget to factor in payroll, facilities costs, insurance, and other operational line items that tend to add up.

7. Identify your target customer

Who will your business development team pursue? Your target market is the group of customers your product/service was built for. For example, if you sell a suite of products for facilities teams at enterprise-level companies, your target market might be facilities or janitorial coordinators at companies with 1000+ employees. To identify your target market:

  1. Analyze your product or service
  2. Check out the competition
  3. Choose criteria to segment by
  4. Perform research

Your target customer is the person most likely to buy your product. Do your homework and make sure your business development plan addresses the right people. Only then will you be able to grow your business.

8. Choose an outreach strategy

What tactics will you use to attract new business for your sales team to close? You might focus on a single tactic or a blend of a few. Once you know who your target market is and where they “hang out,” then you can choose an appropriate outreach strategy.

1. Networking

Will your business development plan rely heavily on thought leadership such as speaking at or attending conferences? Will you host a local meetup for others in your industry? Or will your reps network heavily on LinkedIn and social media?

2. Referrals

If referrals will be pivotal to your business’ growth, consider at which stage of the buying process your BDRs will ask for referrals. Will you ask for a referral even if a prospect decides they like your product/service but aren’t a good fit? Or will you wait until a customer has been using your solution for a few months? Define these parameters in your strategy.

3. Upselling and cross-selling

Upselling and cross-selling are a cost-effective way of growing your business. But it’s important this tactic comes with guardrails. Only upsell clients on features that will benefit them as well as your bottom line. Don’t bloat client accounts with features or services they really don’t need -- that’s when turnover and churn start to happen.

4. Sponsorship and advertising

Will your BDR work with or on the marketing team to develop paid advertising campaigns? If so, how will your BDRs support these campaigns? And which channels will your strategy include? If you sell a product, you might want to feature heavily on Instagram or Facebook. If you’re selling a SaaS platform, LinkedIn or Twitter might be more appropriate.

5. Outreach

What’s your outreach strategy? Will your BDRs be held to a quota to make 25 calls a week and send 15 emails? Will your outreach strategy be inbound, outbound, or a healthy combination of both? Identify the outreach guardrails that best match your company values for doing business.

Strategic Plan Example

Let’s put all of these moving parts in action with a strategic plan example featuring good ol’ Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.

Elevator pitch

Dunder Mifflin is a local paper company dedicated to providing excellent customer support and the paper your business needs to excel today and grow tomorrow.

Executive summary

At Dunder Mifflin, our strengths are our customer service, speed of delivery, and our local appeal. Our weakness is that our sales cycle is too long.

To shorten the sales cycle 5% by the end of Q4, we need to ask for more referrals (which already enjoy a 15% faster sales cycle), sponsor local professional events, and outreach to big box store customers who suffer from poor customer support and are more likely to exit their contract. These tactics should allow us to meet our goal in the agreed upon timeline.

SMART goals

Dunder Mifflin’s 2019 goal is to decrease our sales cycle 5% by the end of Q4. We will do this by more proactively scheduling follow-up meetings, sourcing more qualified, ready-to-buy leads, and asking for 25% more referrals (which have a 15% shorter sales cycle already). We will measure success by looking at the sales pipeline and calculating the average length of time it takes a prospect to become closed won or closed lost.

SWOT analysis

Strengths: Our strengths are our reputation in the greater Scranton area, our customer service team (led by Kelly Kapoor), and our warehouse team, who ship same day reams to our customers -- something the big box stores cannot offer.

Weaknesses: Our greatest weakness is that our sales team has been unable to successfully counter prospects who choose big box stores for their paper supply. This results in a longer than average sales cycle, which costs money and time.

Opportunities: Our greatest business opportunity is to conduct better targeted outreach to prospects who are ready to buy, ask for more referrals from existing customers, and follow-up with closed lost business that’s likely coming up on the end of an annual contract with the big box store.

Threats: Our biggest threat is large box stores offering lower prices to our prospects and customers and a sales cycle that is too long resulting in low revenue and slow growth.

Measurement of success

We will measure success by looking at the sales pipeline and calculating the average length of time it takes a prospect to become closed won or closed lost.

Budget

[Insert budget breakdown]

Target customer

Our target customer is office managers at small- to medium-sized companies in the greater Scranton, PA area. They are buying paper for the entire office, primarily for use in office printers, custom letterhead, fax machines. They are busy managing the office and value good customer service and a fast solution for their paper needs.

Outreach strategy

Networking, sponsorships, and referrals will be our primary mode of outreach. We will focus on networking at regional paper conferences, HR conferences, and local office manager meetups. We will sponsor local professional events. And we will increase the volume of referrals we request from existing customers.

A strategic plan for business development is crucial to have your team aligned and working toward the greater good of your company. Not tapped out on planning? Check out this sales plan template, or this free template for building a successful business plan.

sales plan

22 Apr 18:08

Hear Your Customers Tell Their Stories

by Kat Hounsell

Engaging Customers with Video

Many brands are now choosing to tell their stories through video, and it’s not surprising to see why. 90% of customers say video helps them make buying decisions and 64% of customers say that seeing a video makes them more likely to buy (Forbes).

Consumers want and expect video content to both educate and entertain. It has become the norm across social media platforms, with “stories” being a relatively new addition.

However, while brands are capitalizing on the power of video in their marketing, many are missing a trick when it comes to understanding the customer experience, and socializing the results of CX programs. After all, CX professionals, researchers and senior execs are consumers too!

In this day and age, video content is found to be more engaging than written reports. In fact, 59% of execs would prefer to watch a video, rather than read text on the same subject.

If something connects with us emotionally, we will find that more memorable. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve never felt emotionally connected to a PowerPoint chart!

Finding the Story

Although videos are a fantastic way to tell stories, you still need to identify the right story to tell.

CX programs can provide us with insights into the key drivers of satisfaction or NPS with open-ends and text analytics, providing a view on the all-important question, “why.”

Sometimes we need to go deeper. We need more detail, and we need a to unlock the emotional connections that customers have with our brands. The cultural shift towards video that has taken place, facilitated by advancements in technology and the extremely high adoption rates of mobile devices, means that consumers are able, and willing to video their experiences, thoughts, and behaviors. Video questions can easily be incorporated into CX programs for a seamless experience for respondents. Not only does it provide consumers with an engaging way to provide feedback, but it gives you more data, greater context and brings the customers to life.

Through video, consumers provide at least 6 times more words in their reviews than they would in a traditional free text response. And not only do they say more words to provide greater detail on a topic, but they actually also talk about more topics, providing additional themes for your business to analyze and attend to.

Getting Emotional with CX

As the great storyteller, Maya Angelou, has said….

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

So much of our decision-making as consumers is driven by emotion, yet it’s actually one of the hardest things to capture. By getting closer to uncovering how interactions and experiences make customers feel, there comes a certain understand of what is working, and what needs improving.

When you talk with someone face to face, you can get a real sense of how they feel – even if they are trying to hide it! Our facial expressions and our tone of voice give away clues to our emotional reactions. Video not only captures those reactions, but the capabilities exist to extract the meaning from that content, giving you great insight into the emotional highs and lows. And it matters as, 86% of buyers will pay more for a better brand experience, but only 1% feel that vendors consistently meet expectations (Oracle).

Why Isn’t Video Used More?

Historically, video has been challenging to work with. Before the advancements in AI and machine learning, gaining insight from video content was a long and painful process, requiring hours of watching, tagging and time-stamping content. Now the technology exists to automate this process, so you can benefit from the richness of video feedback without the manual headache. This frees up time to focus on the interpretation of the data and the creation of the insight story.

There also seems to be some nervousness in inviting video feedback from customers. Through social media, people have the opportunity to tell everyone what they think anyway. By incorporating video feedback into a CX program, you have the ability to focus on the areas that matter most and to understand feedback in a wider context such as the customer type, customer journey or touch points.

The Inescapable Truth

Videos are hard to ignore. They can sometimes be quite shocking or hugely inspiring, but either way they are memorable. It’s quite shocking to see some stories in the news sometimes, like the video of that passenger who was removed from a United Airlines flight. But truthfully, if we had just read about the incident, would it have had the same impact as the visual context?

Video delivers the inescapable truth: it can’t be rationalized the same as text, scores, or charts: video provides an emotional connection which drives action.

Showreels can be created in minutes that bring insights to life, using real customers, talking about real experiences. These videos can be game changing for your CX program – they deliver powerful stories that make people sit up and listen. CX programs should be a way of constantly improving the experience, not just a means of giving the experience a certain score.

22 Apr 18:08

How to sell to prospects who want more features

by steli@close.io (Steli Efti)
sales-objection-feature-requests-1

Here's a situation salespeople find themselves in often: your potential buyer wants more features from the product. They want a "feature-complete solution" that checks off all the boxes.

But you don't want to add every feature you can think of. You know that more features don't make for a better product—in fact, oftentimes the more features you add to a product, the worse it gets. It's not about building more features—it's about building the right ones in a way that empowers your customers to accomplish their desired outcome better than any other tool out there.

In this situation, it can be hard to have a productive conversation with prospects. They want more features, but you know that more isn’t always better. And that can cost you sales. Ultimately, it's just another sales objection.

Want our template on handling objections? You can download it free here.

So what do I tell teams in this situation?

Sell your product philosophy before you sell your product

sales-objection-feature-requests-2

It’s tough to have this kind of conversation. You run into this often with first-time buyers. They do their research and come at you with a huge list of features they want.

This is why I tell reps not to start with the features and benefits of the product.

That seems counterintuitive, but it gives you time to address something even more important: the philosophy and point of view behind your product.

If you’ve built something, you’re an expert in that field. You’ve seen what your competition is offering. You’ve seen which features are useful and which are just distractions.

You left those features out of your product for a reason. And you need to let prospects know that.

To do that, tell prospects your story. Tell them why you chose to include the features you did. Tell them you didn’t set out to create a product with the most features—you set out to build one with the best features.

That might seem like a minuscule difference. But it can mean the world in a sales conversation.

And don’t forget to explain why you left things out, either. That’s important, too.

What you’re doing here is selling the story of your company.

The power of storyselling

sales-objection-feature-requests-3

Effective salespeople have something in common with engaging public speakers: they’re great storytellers.

The human brain is wired for storytelling. Stories light up the brain’s emotional centers. That’s what makes people feel a connection—and that connection leads to sales. Features and benefits are important. But if features and benefits were all that mattered, the world wouldn't need sales people. Buyers could compare features and make a buying decision based on that alone. A real connection is even more important than features and benefits.

In most cases, good storysellers make the story about their prospect. Making a prospect the hero of a story is something that salespeople have done forever. And it works.

But in this case, your company is the hero of the story. It might go something like this:

  • You (the prospect) have this specific problem
  • We went through the same problem
  • It was frustrating not finding a good solution
  • We looked at all of the options and found that they didn’t solve the problem for us
  • So we built one ourselves
  • We focused on what’s important instead of trying to include every feature we could possibly think of
  • Here’s the story of a company like yours that found our product to be very useful

If that customer found success because you included fewer features, even better. That’s perfect. For a specific example, we’ll talk about the story that we use at Close in a moment.

Good storytelling grabs your prospect’s attention and gets them to focus on how your product will help them. They won’t check out immediately when you say you don’t have the latest trendy feature that your competitors have.

Instead, they’ll see why you built your product the way you did and understand the value in a simpler, more focused tool.

If you tell the story well, they’ll buy into that idea, too. Combine the story of your company with your product philosophy and you’ll nail this type of sales conversation.

Once you’ve sold your product philosophy, you can get into the features and benefits of your product. You can do all the things you’d normally do on a sales call. But until a feature-hungry prospect understands why you did what you did, they’ll be skeptical.

How we sell the story behind our own product

sales-objection-feature-requests-4

We’ve been doing this a long time. Close doesn’t have as many features as some of the big sales CRMs. And that makes some of our prospects nervous.

We have a simple product philosophy: salespeople should spend more time communicating with prospects. Seems like a given, right?

Unfortunately, it’s not. Most B2B sales reps spend a huge amount of time entering data into their CRM software and doing other administrative busywork. This is a colossal waste of company resources.

When salespeople aren’t communicating, they’re not doing what they’re best at. So administrating, logging their activities, entering data, organizing leads, and all the other things sales reps do are distractions. That creates friction. We wanted to change that.

Here’s an example. One of our customers was previously using Salesforce, and they did a lot of cold calling. Their reps had to click 16 times to log a single call in Salesforce. 16 times! Once they switched to Close, that number went down to 2. They saved 14 clicks with every call.

That doesn’t sound like much, right?

But consider this: each rep was making about 100 calls every day. So they’re saving 140 clicks. With a team of 30 people, that’s 21,000 saved clicks every week. Now you’re looking at some serious time savings.

sales-objection-feature-requests-calls log in Close

At this point, you know our product philosophy. You see exactly why we didn’t include the millions of features that are in Salesforce. And you understand why that’s a good thing.

If we were in a sales conversation, I could now go on to selling the features and benefits of our product.

I’d tell you about Close’s predictive dialer, which automatically calls through a rep’s lead list and only involves the rep when someone picks up the phone. It lets your sales reps spend more time doing what they do best: selling.

sales-objection-feature-requests-predictive dialer calling

The fact that we have fewer features than Salesforce is actually a benefit. Lots of people don’t see it that way at first. But once we tell this story, they get it.

That’s the power of telling your product philosophy.

Make sure your salespeople are on board

sales-objection-feature-requests-5

When you’re the only one making sales calls or presentations, you sell your product philosophy with ease. You know the story behind your product, you know the point of view your company has, and you can articulate them.

In the beginning, we had a small team of founders that sold Close. We had all helped create the product, so it was easy for us to talk about our philosophy. That’s the case with most startups.

But as your sales team grows, that story can get lost.

It’s easy to overlook that fact—I’ve done it myself. Some of your salespeople will get out of the habit of selling your company story. Others might not know the story at all.

To make sure that your salespeople are selling your product philosophy, include it in your sales trainings. Make sure to talk about it on a regular basis. Listen to your reps’ calls to see if they’re sharing the story well.

Once your team sees how effective sharing your product philosophy is, they’ll do it on their own. But you have to help them get started. You have to make your philosophy part of the sales process.

Empathize with your prospects

sales-objection-feature-requests-6

It’s easy to get frustrated with prospects who want all the features. But when you understand where they’re coming from, selling them on your philosophy gets easier.

They’re usually first-time buyers—not experts. They’re feeling a bit unsure of their decisions and insecure about the buying process. So they figure that if a product has every feature on the market, it’s probably a good choice.

It’s an understandable reaction. You know that the product with the most features won’t be the best choice for them. Now you just have to tell them why—and you’ll get that sale. That’s the power of selling your philosophy, and not just your product.

 

 

Want to get better at handling ANY objection? It all starts with the right objection management template. Download yours today!

GET YOUR FREE OBJECTION MANAGEMENT TEMPLATE

19 Apr 18:01

Top 7 Sales Enablement Best Practices

by George Albert

This can be because salespeople lack the technical ability and are still following ineffective sales methodologies.

This is where sales enablement enters the scene!

Sales enablement is a powerful tool for increasing sales performance.

What exactly is Sales Enablement?

Sales enablement is the set of practices, processes, and platform that helps the sales organizations improve the performance of sales teams to increase revenue through new customer acquisition.

In today’s customer-centric landscape, B2B sales leaders must evaluate sales enablement practices in order to achieve the desired goals.

Here are the top 7 sales enablement best practices that can help you succeed:

1 Adopt new selling techniques

Traditional sales and traditional sales tactics are no longer required. It is true that old tried selling techniques are not working like they used to. In order to deal with today’s new customers successfully, the sales representatives are required to develop new selling techniques based on buyers’ behavior.

The new selling techniques not only engage customers effectively but also improve the customer experience.

Here comes the role of B2B sales leaders who need to ensure proper sales training and the sales management infrastructure. The leaders should offer the best guidance and encourage the teams to utilize the tools effectively.

2 Understand your sales reps

Understanding the sales team is crucial. Salespeople are the focus of sales enablement efforts because they are the real persons who can generate leads. You need to make sure that your sales team has excellent communication skills and the ability to connect with clients at all levels in the organizational hierarchy.

Just having a sales enablement team is not sufficient as you need to find out whether your team member really understands the company set goals.

This is where training enters! The sales leaders need to train their teams on how their role is important and fits within your organization.

3 Engage

In order to close a deal effectively, the sales representatives must reach stakeholders who are involved in the purchase decision across a customer’s organization.

With access to the decision makers, the sales representatives will easily follow the unique value of doing business with your organization in a way that resonates with each stakeholder personally.

Communication with the right person is the must. The sales representatives if know the role of stakeholders in a purchase decision, they can effectively interact with them, providing relevant product information for the given audience.

4 Produce Relevant Content

It is critical for the sales organizations to produce the right content that would be helpful for the sales teams.

The motive of sales enablement content is to help your sales representatives by educating prospects and overcome objections which prospects might have during the sales process.

You need to find out what types of content are buyers looking for at each stage.

The first and foremost step towards delivering the right content at the right moment is to understand your customers. Know that your prospects are looking for different types of content at different stages in their decision-making process.

The accurate and relevant content allows the sales teams to make the best possible sales strategy for inducing of the client to buy the product from your organization.

It is good to create a general map of your sales cycle that can provide a general idea of types of content that can be best for each stage of the sales cycle.

5 Alignment

Internal organizational alignment is considered the most complex part of the B2B sales enablement practices. The best sales enablement teams work hand-in-hand with the sales teams and sales leaders and are able to bridge the gap.

The sales leaders are not only responsible for training salespeople but also help them about the entire sales conversion funnel from beginning to end.

This concept is must in order to fully understand the characteristics of their customer; marketing and sales organizations that must align to share insights manage leads and access resources.

According to a recent study, the companies following this kind of strategy are able to create a reliable pipeline with higher revenues.

With a proper strategy, it is conceivable to experience better communication between the marketing and sales division of any commercial enterprise for a better business prospect.

The sales and marketing alignment have made the best-in-class companies outperformed the competition by two times and nearly three times the growth rate for CRM adoption.

Businesses with aligned sales and marketing teams achieve higher revenue in comparison to misaligned teams.

6 Embrace Technology

It cannot be denied that most of the strategies and methodology that drives successful sales organizations are grounded in technology. Embracing technological advances has become an essential need in order to develop a competitive advantage or to achieve greater success. Fortunately, there are numerous digital sales tools and applications available that help facilitates sales enablement initiative.

Experimenting with new tools and techniques may push the boundaries of the sales professionals. The right and latest technologies can really boost sales efforts as it will help with goal-setting, training and more. The businesses dedicating the appropriate resources to a measurable and structured sales enablement programs are experiencing quantifiable improvements in revenue growth.

Together with the flexible, agile workforce, Technology supports the teams to generate more revenue and profits.

7 Share Wins

Lastly, it is highly important to create a culture of gratitude and positivity between your marketing and sales departments. Teamwork is a crucial key for winning any challenge. Sharing success with the team will make them feel better, builds trust, motivate them to work dedicatedly.

Let your sales reps know that they have closed a new deal effectively! This not only highlights the representatives’ achievement but also motivates other salespeople to make the most.

Sales Enablement is really necessary!

Sales enablement is indeed a crucial topic for both sales and marketing teams. Marketing and Sales department are closely interlinked and aimed at common goals i.e. revenue generation.

Whereas, sales enablement connects the sales and marketing teams and focuses on a strategy that ensures that the process is fully integrated into the current sales processes. Just a small improvement to sales team effectiveness can have a great influence on the bottom line.

For example: Imagine a change in profit from 30% to 40%, which can be worth millions of dollars in additional revenue, all driven by sales enablement.

Implementing sales enablement helps in the fostering of business networking, driving better sales behavior, facilitating streamlined communication between the sellers and the buyers.

Buyer has changed

Buyers of today are smart and educated, which eventually have changed the buying process. Cold calling and push marketing are longer a part of the process. Understanding the needs of the customers is on priority which can be accomplished by sales enablement.

Build a better relationship with customers

Retaining customers must be the central focus of your marketing plan. A necessary step to build retention is simply to prioritize customer relationship management (CRM) tools. The most important aspects are to fulfill the needs of the customers which keep on changing with time. Either they are new or already existing customers; they would not need the same products or services every time. This is where sale enablement helps!

Maximize sales opportunities

Sales teams will be able to achieve targets and improve leads only if they have the right information. Without having the required information about the customers, salespeople cannot be successful in sales.

Working with the CRM team is a good option. With the CRM team, the sales people can collect much vital information about their customers.

Why Sales enablement is a key to revenue attainment?

A recent study has found that organizations with a dedicated sales enablement role observe and 8.2% in revenue attainment versus those that do not.

sales enablement best practices

The only motive of sales enablement is to grow revenue by increasing the effectiveness of sales teams through the right processes, the right technology and improving selling behavior.

Selling these days is entirely based on customer interactions which mean providing content and insights are going to shape the buyer’s journey and translate to success. Interaction with customers offers a great opportunity for organizations to accelerate their sales for generating more revenue. Expecting this kind of results with software investment can be pretty expensive, but with an online sales enablement can lower down the cost quite dramatically along with providing the same results.

Top three parts to effective sales force enablement

• Alignment of sales processes to the customer’s journey.

• Content Effectiveness

• Coaching/Training

The sales enablement’s job is to create basic sales and marketing methodologies, but with an introduction to other modern tactics, such as social selling into the environment with training, workshops, and coaching.

No doubt in the coming time, sales enablement will continue to increase sales productivity. Regardless, sales leaders need to be active before adopting new sales enablement technologies for their own sake.

Know your audience, your charter, priorities, team, and resources to execute unrelentingly!

01 Apr 17:55

You’re the Consultant: Revive a Failing Email Program

by Bill Kaplan

If you ever wanted to play the role of big-time email marketing consultant, now’s your chance. Grab a pencil, a piece of paper and maybe a calculator, and take a whack at helping a brand get its email program back on track.

The brand is Olive Street Toys. No, you haven’t heard of it because it doesn’t exist. However, the numbers in this simulated case study come from actual client work and were used in a recent brainstorming exercise among members of the Only Influencers email community.

Read the case study first. You’ll see that Olive Street Toys faces falling open and click rates, among other issues, and has a high percentage of inactive, or dormant, subscribers. I’ll present my approach to resolving OST’s email issues below, and then I would love to hear how you would advise the brand’s marketing team.

The first battle: Waking up dormant subscribers

In our experience, the leading factor resulting in dormant subscribers is simply that companies are emailing these subscribers at email accounts they no longer read.

From 20% to 30% of an email list churns every year (often more than that). Many marketers turn to reactivation programs, but these usually generate minimal returns if they don’t incorporate an Email Change of Address (ECOA) service.

ECOA ensures that your re-engagement emails reach people at their preferred email addresses, rather than landing in dead, unread email boxes.

OST should take one last stab at reawakening its dormant subscribers with a compelling subject line and an attractive offer. If that doesn’t generate a response, OST should look to update its inactive and bouncing email addresses with an ECOA service before removing them from the list.

This will enable the brand to leverage its marketing spend, reconnect with lost customers, and drive the ROI and revenues it seeks.

Other approaches to reactivation seldom solve the problem

Three schools of thought have emerged concerning the best way to wake up their sleeping subscribers. However, each one has a serious flaw.

1. Stop sending to them altogether.

OST invested heavily to acquire these subscribers/customers. Why throw away this asset when you can reconnect with them at a fraction of the cost of acquiring new subscribers/customers?

2. Continue to send to them but cut back on frequency – only send during the key periods of the year (pre-Easter, pre-Summer, pre-Christmas).

Reducing frequency will waste money on messaging costs without generating much new activity, if any. The low sending frequency will most likely result in these emails being relegated to junk folders, assuming they even get delivered at all.

Finally, a basic marketing adage is that you need to send 5-7 marketing messages before you can get somebody’s attention – minimizing frequency goes against this basic marketing principle.

3. Continue sending at the same frequency.

Given the long-standing dormant history resulting from sending to dead email accounts or whatever, continued sends will not achieve OST’s re-engagement goals.

Further, this will be a waste of money and the lack of engagement could damage OST’s sending reputation, thereby reducing the effectiveness of their overall email marketing program.

My take on 5 tactics Olive Street Toys is considering

OST is weighing five approaches to expanding or

  • Add money to the budget to rent third-party lists: Avoid at all costs, for many reasons. Almost all third-party list rentals won’t generate returns to cover the cost.
  • Append email addresses to postal address: This is your low-hanging fruit, enabling you to capture guaranteed deliverable addresses for your subscribers or customers at a fraction of the cost of acquiring new ones. However, use a reputable service, and avoid one that promises near-100% matches. Our experience shows results will be closer to 35%.
  • Approach retail partners and offer to swap unique email addresses: The email addresses should be better than those available through list rental, assuming your partner provides you with its active house file, not dormant email addresses they’ve abandoned.

However, it’s best to avoid partner share because response will be minimal. Given the volume of emails people get these days, marketing emails that people didn’t sign up for get ignored. Worse yet, they generate spam complaints, which could hurt the rest of your email program.

  • Offer website visitors a $5- or $10-off coupon incentive for signing up for email.

If the numbers work, absolutely do this. Don’t forget to analyze the incentive cost across all new subscribers compared to how many subscribers you would have gotten without the incentives.

For example, if you could sign up 10,000 new subscribers without any incentives, and it cost you $60,000 to sign up 12,000 new subscribers ($5 per person in redeemed incentives), then it’s really costing you $60,000 for a net gain of only 2,000 new signups.

  • Set up a system to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA) and ask children under 14 to sign up for email: Seems fraught with risks. Thumbs down!

Find the golden eggs without killing the goose that laid them

The out-of-pocket costs of continually emailing dormant subscribers is relatively small, but the risks of hitting a spamtrap or exceeding ISPs’ stringent spam complaint thresholds from messaging dead or recycled addresses are real.

Don’t just discard your dormant subscribers. You can still generate significant revenue from them. Rather, try an aggressive offer to see if you can awaken these sleeping bears.

For the ones who snooze on, try something different, like re-engaging them at their current, preferred email addresses through ECOA. As Albert Einstein is credited with saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

Over to you

How would you handle the email issues Olive Street Toys (or maybe even your own email program) is facing? Read the case study, jot down your thoughts, and post them below. I’m looking forward to seeing them!

01 Apr 17:29

How the Best Tech Companies Run Growth Experiments

by Kieran Flanagan

A critical part of growth in product-led companies is their approach to experiments.

It’s the experiments that often unlock the door to opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise discovered. They help you to understand your users better and give you insights on how to create more value for them.

We’ve gotten advice from Patreon, Pinterest, SurveyMonkey, Invision and more on how to make growth experiments a roaring success in your company.

Here are five great pieces of advice you can use to improve your approach to growth experiments.

1. A hypothesis is not a prediction

The hypothesis is a central part of your experiment doc – it’s a statement you believe to be true about your users.

A common mistake when forming your hypothesis is to state it as a prediction based on a metric you think will improve, something that fails to articulate what you believe to be true of your users.

Let’s take an example of a growth team who are trying to improve the checkout flow of an online e-commerce store and compare two common hypothesis types.

Prediction-based hypothesis:

User-based hypothesis:

The problem with basing a hypothesis on a prediction formed around a metric is that you haven’t articulated what you believe to be true about your users. By not doing this you won’t be clear on what learning the experiment has provided you about those users.

It’s difficult to articulate what you’ve learned from an experiment if you don’t have a clear hypothesis.

2. An experiment helps you understand the potential upside of an initiative

Nearly all experiment docs will contain a section for the predicted upside from an experiment. If this is successful, how will it impact one of your core business metrics?

The reality is if you could accurately predict the upside of a potential change then you wouldn’t need to run the experiment in the first place.

Experiments are another form of research. They help you to better understand the potential success or failure of an initiative and how it could impact your metrics if successful.

3. Your ability to properly scope an experiment will have a significant impact on the success or failure of your growth team.

To minimize your risk from taking on experiments, continuously look for ways to cut down on the scope of that experiment.

If you can keep the scope of your experiments low:

      • It’s easier to get buy-in from stakeholders because you’re reducing the potential downside of the experiment failing.
      • You won’t be so dependent on a small number of experiments succeeding as you’ll be able to run a higher volume of experiments that require a smaller amount of work.

However, your scope also needs to be meaningful enough that if your experiment fails, you’re happy to move on. This is where a lot of growth teams make mistakes.

If you continually look to reduce the scope of your experiments, it can stop you from pursuing initiatives that have both higher rewards and risks. Minimize the scope of the experiment too much and what you end up executing on might not be sufficient enough to prove or disprove an idea is worth investing in.

You need to find a balance between minimizing the amount of work you put into the test while understanding the level of investment required to understand if your hypothesis is right or wrong. That means if the experiment fails, you’re not left wondering:

“What if we had made the user experience a little better? Was the experience we put live a fair enough representation of the end product that it gave us enough data to make a final decision on this initiative?”

But how do you manage experiments that are a higher risk because they need a considerable upfront investment?

Adopting this approach means, at the very worst if the big initiative doesn’t work, there is still a lot of potential for success with the other things you’re doing. That’s the best way to manage risk, with diversification.

That’s how you can decrease the cost of taking big swings.

4. Autonomy is the best way to scale experiment ideas

The best way to scale ideas across your growth team is to create an environment where no one person owns the ideation process.

At Pinterest, one of the fastest growing tech companies on the planet, they work to empower individuals to not only come up with different ideas for experiments but to also be responsible for taking that idea from concept to execution.

They’ve found this approach has helped them to get a better diversity of experiments along with better quality of work as the person who has the original idea is also responsible for executing on that idea.

Every two to three weeks they have a meeting called the ‘Experiment Idea Review.’ Everyone attends that meeting – engineers, PM’s and designers. Each person who is submitting an idea needs to complete a template based on Jeff’s hype framework.

Once the person receives feedback from the community they’re free to pursue that idea whether the feedback was positive or negative.

SurveyMonkey has also taken this approach to experiments. They restructured their team to democratize growth across the company.

They still keep a centralized team to make decisions around best practices as well as the prioritization of tests, but providing the company with these tools has allowed them to develop a culture of experimentation at scale.

5. Experiments are a great way to introduce the company to growth

The purpose of experiments is ultimately to learn something. You have a clear hypothesis about something and running experiments can help you understand if you’re right or wrong.

Like any other form of research, what you learn can benefit people across different functions within your company. Growth teams can also learn a lot by talking with other groups in the company (e.g., sales, support, services).

So how can you use experiments to get more people in your company involved in growth?

Use the above advice from the experts in growth to turn experiments into high impact wins for your company in 2019.

And remember the GrowthTLDR podcast aims to provide you with the best expert advice for growing your product-led funnel.

The post How the Best Tech Companies Run Growth Experiments appeared first on OpenView Labs.

01 Apr 17:27

Should You Publish Your Prices?

01 Apr 17:26

Why Targeted Ads Are a Serious Threat to Your Privacy

by Bertel King, Jr.
targeted-ads-privacy

Advertisements are everywhere. Traditional ads appear on billboards and road signs, where they can reach the largest number of people in an area. You see them in newspapers and magazines, where they can appeal to a large or niche readership. They serve as a way for people selling products to connect with others who may need, or want, to buy.

Targeted ads go further. They go after you specifically in order to deliver ads for products you’re more likely to want, scooping up vast amounts of information about you in the process.

What Are Targeted Ads?

Ads on billboards in New York City's Times Square
Image Credit: Aaron Sebastian / Unsplash

Technically, all ads are targeted ads. Billboards target drivers in a major metropolitan area or potential tourists passing through a more scenic area. Radio ads target people of a certain ethnic background or religious affiliation. But to place these kinds of ads, advertisers don’t have to know anything about you specifically.

If traditional ads are passive, targeted ads are the opposite. Advertisers, or ad networks, actively seek information about customers in order to reach the specific audience they’re after. That means they gather data specific to you, rather than your region or neighborhood.

Targeted ads power much of the web. Their effectiveness has driven advertisers away from many traditional forms of media, such as print newspapers. This means more people are out there collecting and sharing more information about us, typically without our awareness or consent.

It’s for this reason that targeted ads have expanded from being an economic issue to one of security and privacy as well.

Offline Targeted Ads

Targeted junk mail ads filling a mail box
Image Credit: Samuel Zeller / Unsplash

Before we discuss targeted ads online, let’s take a step back. Have you checked your mailbox lately? There’s a good chance that you will mostly find junk mail. While some of these ads go out to everyone in your area, others are targeted. They’re sent out specifically for people like you.

To send out junk mail, companies or organizations just need your name, address, information about your neighborhood, or basic demographic information such as your age or whether you have kids.

Oftentimes companies get this information from other companies. A magazine may share your address with other companies that sell similar publications or products. Organizations may also tap into public records. Insurance companies access your motor vehicle record, for example.

And when a lawyer sends you a letter advertising their services after you get a speeding ticket, you can bet that offer didn’t go out to everyone on your block.

Online Targeted Ads and Tracking Cookies

Targeted ads use a different playbook online. There, advertisers can track you around the web, learning what sites you like to visit and which products you buy.

To follow you, online ads rely on cookies. Cookies are small files that allow a site to remember information in between visits. This way a site can remember that you’ve signed into an account or added items to a cart. They’re a necessary part of the way the web currently works.

Ad networks use cookies to determine which ads you see. These cookies keep tabs on which sites you visit and develop a profile of you over time, allowing advertisers to send ever more precise ads. Google, which provides the largest online ad network, combines cookie data with the information associated with your Google account.

This can include your web searches, Google Maps trips, YouTube watch history, and your installed Android apps.

Ad networks can gather even more data on mobile devices, especially on Android. Thanks to built-in GPS and other forms of location tracking, apps can track where you go when you’re not sitting in front of a computer.

Targeted Ads and Privacy

Facebook in a web browser
Image Credit: Con Karampelas / Unsplash

Online targeted ads have become increasingly controversial, due in part to what companies do in order to grow these massive networks. Google, Facebook, Twitter, and others suck up large amounts of data about us in order to promise their advertisers the ability to deliver hyper-targeted ads that are more likely to hit potential buyers than the competition.

Tech companies design products to encourage you to make bad privacy decisions and give them more information.

These actions have far reaching social impacts. We can now detect and target the most depressed, lonely, or outraged people in society. People are becoming more addicted to various forms of media, and our views have become more extreme or polarized than they may have otherwise been.

So when we discuss privacy concerns regarding social media, search engines, music or video streaming services, and the like, targeted ads are the crux of the issue. Facebook wouldn’t have a Cambridge Analytical scandal if the company weren’t trying to sell more ads and increase profits.

Targeted Ads Are Spreading

Take television. TV ads traditionally aim at a channel’s entire viewership, just like radio. Want to target men, women, sports fans, or children (however unethical this may be)? There are channels where your ad can do just that.

But in the age of hyper-targeted ads, cable and satellite providers are doing more to attract advertisers. They’re now delivering targeted ads of their own. You and your neighbor may watch the same channel at the same time, but you won’t necessarily see the same ads.

Cable and satellite providers start with an approach akin to traditional mail. They have your name, address, and general demographic information such as the number of people living in your household. They can’t target down to the individual level, since they don’t know when you’re watching TV or when it’s your spouse, roommate, or child.

But that doesn’t mean the tracking isn’t as invasive. Cable boxes not only bring shows into your house, they also send out a record of all the shows you watch.

Targeted ads are even starting to encroach more into our physical surroundings. Retailers are using our phone’s built-in Wi-Fi and facial recognition to track us around their stores. Walgreens stores are testing a line of “smart” coolers, fridges equipped with screens and cameras that can advertise products based on your age or gender.

The Future of Targeted Ads

Data collection is a prerequisite to delivering targeted ads, so their use will inherently stir up privacy concerns. Ad companies are incentivized to collect and share as much data as they can, with safeguarding this information only a secondary issue at best. Breaches are a concern largely because of the potential fallout to a company’s brand.

On the flip side, targeted ads make it easier for you to find the kind of product you’re interested in. And quite frankly, they work. People are shifting toward this form of advertising because it’s increasing sales. The degree to which consumer concerns exist hasn’t been enough to substantially reduce profits.

So without economic or regulatory repercussions, don’t expect targeted ads to go away. But with other types of bad ads, there may be some hope.

Read the full article: Why Targeted Ads Are a Serious Threat to Your Privacy

01 Apr 17:26

Local SEO: How to Optimise and Generate Leads

by Kerry Dye

Local SEO is fast becoming a high priority for many businesses. Last year, Google published a study showing a 500% increase in “near me” searches, including variants of “can I buy” or “to buy” from the previous two years. Google also said it had seen a 900%+ increase in mobile searches for “near me today/tonight” over the same period.

A few months later, a separate study revealed that 82% of shoppers using smartphones conduct “near me” searches.

Growth in near me searches

Source

Clearly, “near me” searches are a trend brands can’t afford to ignore in 2019. But they’re only one aspect of local SEO – something that’s becoming increasingly important to a wider range of businesses.

The divide between online and offline interactions along the consumer journey is getting narrower every year. Local SEO is shaping up as one of the most important lead generation strategies for brands that want to turn search queries into customers walking through the door.

What does local SEO look like in 2019?

Local search has been with us for many years now. Google’s 2014 Pigeon update drastically changed the way people find businesses in their area by doing the following:

  • Connecting Google’s local algorithm more deeply with its core search algorithm
  • Improving Google’s ability to gauge business and user locations
  • Reducing the local pack of results to three listings

Local search results in Google

Of course, it’s important to understand how Google’s algorithm deals with local queries, but the most significant change over the past few years has been user search habits. Mobile has completely changed where and how people interact with search, so understanding your target audience’s search habits is crucial.

“Near me” searches should be a priority for most brands because they generally have a strong purchase intent and suggest users are in a hurry to get what they’re after. Having said that, these aren’t the only local SEO trends you should be paying attention to in 2019.

Near me search of hotels near Dubai

People also turn to Google to search for flights and hotels in destinations thousands of miles away (hardly “near me” searches). There are plenty of other platforms like Trivago, Skyscanner and Kayak offering this specific location-based service.

Local search results showing London hotels

To really understand the role mobile plays in modern search though, you have to pinpoint the small issues it solves for users. Someone looking for a car park in London isn’t going to drive around in rush hour until they stumble across somewhere to leave their car; they’re going to pull up and quickly search for car parks closest to their destination.

Local search results showing car parks in London

Likewise, someone with busted pipes on a Sunday morning isn’t going to call every plumber in the area just to ask them if they can come out. They’ll specifically search for 24/7 or emergency plumbers in the area.

Local search results showing emergency plumbers

Mobile and location-based search have made it possible to pinpoint users in these very specific moments of need. To capitalise on these moments, you need to know why your target audience turns to search in the first place and what specific problem they’re trying to solve.

There are only three listings in local packs now and Google is getting very good at delivering the most relevant results to individual queries. So you really need to pinpoint what people are after (e.g. not just restaurants but restaurants open at specific times) and make sure Google has this information about your business.

And, as voice technology plays a bigger role in local SEO, things are only going to get more competitive.

Turning local SEO into a lead-gen strategy

There are two key things that make location-based searches special:

  • High purchase intent: Location-based searches have some of the highest levels of purchase intent of all online activities.
  • Immediacy: Local searches also generally indicate users are looking to buy now or in the very near future.

Location-based searches aren’t your typical browsing session, such as those where people are reviewing the best TVs of 2019. Instead, these are sessions where people are looking to find a local tech store with the model they want in stock, so they can see the product with their own eyes.

Of course, there are some exceptions (e.g. hotel bookings) but the vast majority of location-based searches involve people who want to interact with brands, products or services in the real world – to do things they can’t do online.

Generating foot traffic from local SEO

Stats for increases in near me searches

Source

So, in most cases, your goal with location-based SEO is to get people walking through your business’s doors. Google says it saw a 200%+ increase in “near me” searches related to car dealers between 2015-2017 and a 600%+ increase in “near me” searches related to dresses during the same period.

Car buyers can’t test drive cars online and clothes shoppers can’t try on dresses with their mobile. For this, they need to find a business in their area that has the products they’re looking for – and this is where local SEO breaks down the online/offline divide.

Once you know which problem users are trying to solve with location-based searches (test driving cars, trying on clothes, taking a look at TVs etc), you can make this a focal point of your marketing messages.

Make it clear people can do these things by visiting your business.

Enhancing the in-store experience

Generating foot traffic from local SEO gets you off to a great start but the most innovative brands are now using mobile to enhance the in-store experience for their customers.

The 2018 Retail Sector Report, entitled The Convergence Continuum, revealed that 74% of millennials still prefer to shop in-store but 51% want to use their phones more to navigate, get information and pay while browsing in shops.

Crucially, 77% of consumers surveyed in the report said they were open to the idea of exchanging data for discounts and special deals.

How people use smartphones instore

Google research has highlighted before how much consumers use their smartphones as they shop in-store and it’s vital retailers adapt to this. Meanwhile, separate research from Retail Drive examines how consumers are using their smartphones once they walk through a business’s doors.

how consumers use mobile phones in store

Source

The majority of shoppers are looking to find out more about products, more than half are comparing prices and 40% are using their phones to access digital coupons. This gives retailers the chance to direct consumers to their own website or app in-store to find out more about products and gain access to coupons and other deals.

Help these people make better buying decisions and take the opportunity to get them more involved with your brand.

This strategy works incredibly well for retail brands. The leading names in hospitality and food are taking a different approach to turning location-based search into better in-store experiences – and, ultimately, loyal customers.

Turning local SEO into loyal customers

One of the best examples of this in-store mobile experience is the Starbucks app, which allows customers to pay for their coffee, collect points and get free rewards. This app is so popular in the US that it has more users than both Apple Pay and Google Pay – it’s the most widely used mobile payment app in the US and it’s not even a mobile payment app.

graph showing US instore mobile payment usage

More importantly for Starbucks, its app improves the in-store experience for its customers and even gamifies it by rewarding people every time they buy a coffee. More rewards mean more incentive and customers only have more reason to keep coming back to Starbucks.

Starbucks app improving the instore experience for customers

Starbucks isn’t the only chain company taking this approach either. Greene King has its own mobile app that allows customers to browse menus, book tables, check out deals, order food and pay for their meals. Friends can even split their meal between them by paying through the app and Greene King rewards them for every purchase.

Wherever these customers are around the country, they know they can search for the nearest Greene King pub, book a table and get their food on order.

How to optimise for local SEO

Now that we’ve explained the importance of location-based search, let’s explain how you need to optimise for this strategy in 2019. Things have changed a lot in recent years but most of the fundamentals are the same – so you should have the basics in place already.

1. Optimise your website for local search

Your website is the hub of your entire online presence and this counts for location-based SEO as well. While Google Maps gives users all the essential details about your business (e.g. opening times), it doesn’t provide you any space to get branded messages across or other information people need – for example, checking if you’ve actually got the product they’re after in stock.

The user session may start in Google but your website still plays an important role, so you should pay particular attention to the following:

  • Mobile optimisation: The vast majority of local searches take place on smartphones so make sure your site performs well on mobile devices.
  • Loading times: You don’t want to kill the experience as soon as users try to click through to your site so keep your loading times in order – especially on mobile.
  • Web content: Be sure what kind of messages you want to get across to your target audience and factor local search needs into your content. If people in your local area want to see your products in the flesh, make it clear they can visit you to do so on your homepage.
  • NAP details: These need to be consistent across your website and anywhere else they’re listed (Google My Business, directory sites, review sites etc).

2. Use LocalBusiness schema

Schema markup gives Google more information about your business at the code level, helping it deliver your content to the most relevant audience. This applies to location-based search as well – you can use LocalBusiness schema to provide Google with in-depth details about your business and provide users with more info – such as opening times during the holiday season or price ranges for your products.

example of a local business schema

You can also use this to implement actions on your Google My Business listing, allowing users to book appointments, reserve hotel rooms or book a table. Adding schema to your pages can be a tricky process but it provides users with the kind of info that helps them make buying decisions – so it’s worth the effort.

3. Make sure your Google My Business account is 100% complete

Google My Business account details

Google wants to make sure it provides the most relevant results to local searchers and gives them all the info they need to decide on a business: location, opening times, reviews etc. Which means you first give this data to the search giant through your Google My Business (GMB) account – this should be 100% complete.

Accuracy is also important, so pay attention to these key areas:

  • Make sure your address is 100% correct
  • Verify your location in Google Maps
  • Specify the city, town etc, that you’re targeting in the title of your GMB landing page
  • Choose the GMB categories most relevant to your services
  • Define your opening times
  • Link to your website (either your homepage or the location page for that branch)

Also, think about what kind of images you want users to see on your local listing. While users can upload their own images of your business for others to see, you can also upload your own pictures in certain categories (e.g. pubs and restaurants), such as menus, food, interiors and other criteria.

4. Be ready to pick up the phone

Call icon on Google

Aside from linking to your website and providing users with directions to your business location, Google also allows local searchers to call your business up directly. Sometimes, people might want to check you have an item in stock or confirm a pub is showing the football match they want to watch before paying a visit.

Whatever the reason, be ready to pick up the phone and confirm you can deliver what local users are after.

5. Build a strong profile of positive reviews

Reviews of a bakery

Reviews are massive when it comes to location-based searches. This is one of the fastest ways for users to differentiate between you and rival businesses. A strong profile of positive feedback on Google Reviews is one of the most important factors when it comes to turning local search into genuine leads – especially if you’re a brand users don’t already know and trust.

6. Get citations and brand mentions

Google takes citations and brand mentions into consideration with its local listing algorithm. A citation is when another website mentions your brand without actually linking to your site. These aren’t as strong as inbound links from reputable local sources but they do give Google confidence that you’re a genuine business people are talking about.

Location-based search as a lead-gen strategy

Location-based search gives businesses with physical locations a concrete channel to generate foot traffic and bridge the online/offline divide. As a lead-gen strategy, you’re looking at prospects with incredibly high purchase intent and a desire to make the purchase now.

Even a fairly basic local SEO strategy can turn online searches into real-world customers, but leading brands are going much further than this. By using mobile to enhance the experience of buying and using products/services, brands are turning local searches into loyal customers that keep coming back to them – and this is proving particularly powerful for brands with business locations across the country.

01 Apr 17:25

How a CRO Leads the Sales Force Through Mergers

by Matt Sharrers
Today Meredith Kildow, Chief Revenue Officer of Consilio, joins us to discuss strategies that sales leaders can use to navigate their teams through mergers and acquisitions.   Click here for the podcast version of this interview.   Segment 1: People and Structure It’s
01 Apr 17:24

This Week’s Big Deal: Combine Lead Gen Sources to Grow Your Pipeline

by Steve Kearns

Where do B2B leads come from?

The answer, of course, is many places (and, all too often, not enough places). Strategic B2B organizations are widening their scopes when it comes to lead generation, taking steps to ensure that promising prospects get in their pipelines from a variety of different sources.  

These companies are no April Fools. They recognize that more is better, and that nurturing an array of lead gen avenues can help offset the ebbs and flows inherent to each individual one. But still, many of us find ourselves wondering: how do we improve lead generation with what we already have?

Our solution might lie in combining the forces of our best performers.

How to Improve Lead Generation by Combining Tactics

The 2019 B2B Marketing Mix Report (gated) from Sagefrog breaks down the current hierarchy of sources for B2B sales and marketing leads:

Not too many surprises here. Referrals lead the way because nothing is more persuasive than a personalized recommendation from someone you know. Tradeshows and events provide the opportunity to engage prospects directly in a suitable context. Email, SEO, inbound, and social media are all proven B2B business development mainstays.

Each of these tactics can be successful on its own. But today we’re going to explore ways that B2B sales teams can pair them together for better results. Here are a few examples:

Referrals + Social Media

LinkedIn is the No. 1 driver of B2B social media leads, and with its interconnected network of professionals, it can also be a powerful referral engine. Many of today’s reps are active prospectors on the platform, seeking opportunities to connect with new buyers and share helpful content. But don’t underestimate the importance of maintaining your existing relationships and leveraging them for new strategic introductions.

Last year we broke down some of the most effective methods for earning referrals on LinkedIn, which include taking advantage of the TeamLink feature and reverse-engineering warm intros.

Inbound + Email

“Inbound” is a broad term that encompasses everything the marketing team does to draw visitors and prospects to your brand organically. But what to do once your brand has attracted these individuals?

Email is a common and reliable follow-through method. The standard blueprint involves prompting a visitor to share their email address in exchange for content, and then having the sales team reach out. However, if you’ve noticed a decline in success with this tactic, you’re not alone.

One way to strengthen your results is to get more specific and personalized in your approach. Offer multiple downloadable assets and tailor your messaging based on what the person downloaded. You could even create a custom PointDrive package with additional resources the user might find helpful based on what they originally requested.

We know that today’s prospects want to be helped, not sold to. So, the generic “Hey, got time for a 20-minute chat about our product?” email has lost much of its appeal.

Another combination worth pursuing is inbound + social media. Work with your marketing team to set up Website Retargeting on LinkedIn, enabling your company to serve ads to folks who’ve visited your site and capitalize on the interest they’ve shown.

Webinars + PPC

It’s not common for salespeople to run webinars, but perhaps it should be.  The sales team often has the expertise and charisma to make them entertaining as well as informative.  

The latest B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks report from CMI and MarketingProfs shows that audio/visual content (including webinars) is the fastest-growing type among practitioners. Companies are seeing the value of these engaging experiences. The same report shows that webinars, specifically, are rated as the second-most effective content for demand generation at the consideration/intent stage, behind only white papers:

Tradeshows + Direct Mail

Collecting emails at an event or tradeshow is the typical model. Therein lies our problem. Many folks who share their contact info at such gatherings brace themselves for an unpleasant deluge of sales outreach; sometimes they even use a secondary email address for an inbox they won’t check.

Direct mail, as we can see in the lead source breakdown cited earlier, is not too trendy these days. And that might be all the more reason to give it a shot. Data analyzed by the Direct Marketing Association a few years back found that direct mail still drives relatively high response rates:

So instead of the typical email post-show follow-up, consider sending a personalized letter to the contact in physical form. This actually reduces the amount of information you need to collect, because as long as you know their name and where they work, you can simply send your letter to their company with an “Attn: [Name]” on the envelope.

Heat Up Your Lead Generation Efforts

As the warmth of a budding spring sets in, this is no time for your pipeline to cool off. If you’re wondering how to improve lead generation this summer, combining the powers of your most fruitful sources might be just the ticket.

Subscribe to the LinkedIn Sales Blog and never miss out on the latest big deal in B2B sales.

01 Apr 17:24

Top 6 Perks of Call Tracking

by Brian Shivraj

The history of telemarketing has given us a lot of information about marketing techniques and insights into consumers preferences. It also created a movement of ‘do not call lists’ and 100’s of free trips going unclaimed. We have also learned the value of a cold call vs a cold email. The creation of spam folders, call blocking and caller ID have shaped the way sales teams reach out.

The following are the top 6 benefits of tracking your calls:

1. It Will Not Change your Current System

You can use your existing campaigns, and optimizing techniques. With call tracking you are just getting more data to see what is and is not effective. Calls are an additional point of engagement and you can monitor your results the same way you would an online campaign. Google Analytics can include your calling information once you set up what you want to monitor and collect.

2. Differentiating Call Sources

Call tracking can help you understand why people are calling into your business. In 2015, Google reported that searches mainly occur on mobile devices. Using call tracking you can see which extensions encouraged the call to your company.

It could be implementation of a call-only add or a Google call button and see which is pushing people towards your business. Tracking a caller’s activity online will show you what they saw right before they called you. This information can help you either streamline your business or update your systems.

3. More Robust Leads Information

Session level call tracking offers a lot of information on who calls into your office. You receive the caller’s phone number, geographic location and what the viewed on your website. Tracking call data can be used to optimize key word bidding in bid management tools, you can compare calls next to clicks and other engagement points to see what is and is not working.

Call tracking can give you a better idea of what the demographic of your customers. Depending on what you decide to track you can get their location and age. You can then use this information to created more targeted advertisements to attract that demographic.

4. Give Credit Where it is due

It is important to track calls so your team can show hard copy results of their daily efforts. Calls are an important part of client business relationship and tracking them will give your account management teams a way to provide their efforts. With inbound calls from mobile sites on the rise having a system to give credit where credit is due is vital to a competitive team atmosphere.

5. The Life of a Consumer

Call tracking is an additional way to see the entire process of how customers start their relationship (no matter how short) with your company. Tracking calls provides the full picture of your customer business relationship. Online sources found that marketers that do not include calls could be missing up to half their conversations. Tracking calls can map out the path of the average customer and provide vital insights for improvements.

6. It Can Help You Refine your SEO

Call tracking can be used to collect information regarding your pay per click marketing to see which keywords are creating calls. This information can help you sift through and focus on the keywords that actually attract customers.

Before the Dial Tone

Getting to know your client base and increasing your client lists requires a lot of time effort and data collection. Make sure that your marketing strategies and team are above their competitors with call tracking!

01 Apr 17:24

14 Sales Presentation Techniques That Will Help You Close More Deals Today

by chris.orlob@gong.io (Chris Orlob)

What makes a good sales presentation?

An effective presentation tells a compelling story, highlights your value proposition, and aligns with your audience's needs and desires. It ends with a strong call-to-action.

Hate the thought of doing sales presentations? You’re not alone. But the best reps have sales presentations down pat, even if it’s not their favorite activity.

The best sales reps know that when done right, sales presentations are a high-earning skill.

So, let’s hone that skill with 14 simple sales presentation techniques that communicate an irresistible narrative and get buyers to close.

Access a guide to creating winning sales presentations.

Sales Presentation Techniques

1. Send your buyer the presentation deck before your call

Be honest. Internally, you read that title and said some version of "No way." Am I right? Well, know this: I only preach what I practice.

When the Gong.io team started sharing our deck before opening sales calls, we learned it’s a winning move.

You might assume that sending a buyer the deck before a call is like revealing whodunnit on the cover of a murder mystery. No one’s going to pay attention to the rest of the book, right?

Wrong.

If your deck is compelling, prospect’s will want to get into it with you, even if they know the main point. Together, you can dive in, dissect the good bits, and talk through questions. It’s going to be a juicy conversation and they know it.

If you want to see how closely your buyer paid attention to your deck, start your call with, "Based on the information in the deck I sent, where should we start?"

Don’t worry if they didn’t review it. They’ll just tell you to take it from the top. Nothing’s lost except their opportunity to jump into a deeper conversation faster.

That’s what you’re after: a top-tier discussion, right off the bat. You can get into one much faster, if your buyer has seen your deck and is ready to talk about it.

It saves everyone time and kicks the sales process off to a quick start.

2. Invoke self-discovery

It’s tempting to stick to a positive and linear story during your sales presentation. That usually involves talking about benefits, outcomes, and desired results. But that approach is a mistake.

Before you discuss solutions and results, you must understand the problem. More importantly, you have to be sure your prospect understands (read: admits to) the problem.

Self-discovery is the ticket that gets you there.

Instead of telling your buyer what the problem is and how you’ll address it, get your buyer to connect with the problem on their own.

sales-presentation-min

Tell a story in which your buyer is just like the main character.

3. Talk about Point A. Don’t skip to point B.

This tip is 100% linked to the last one. There’s a problem (Point A) and a desired outcome (Point B). Point A is the status quo. It’s the problem your buyer will continue to face if they don’t make a change.

Would it surprise you to know that 95% of messaging focuses on Point B (shiny outcomes) instead of Point A (the problem)?

Here’s how you can stand out.

Switch the focus of your presentation to Point A. Talking about a pain point is shockingly more effective than talking about positive outcomes. That’s because of one simple principle called loss aversion.

Here’s the quick version: People will work twice as hard to avoid loss as they will to gain benefits.

Focusing on Point A triggers loss aversion, and the natural human reaction to loss aversion is a sense of urgency.

Giving-a-good-sales-presentation-min

Now you’re getting the inside scoop on deal-closing sales presentations. Make your buyer feel the pain that results from the status quo. Convince them the pain is only going to get worse without your solution -- because you know that to be true.

You should only talk about benefits once they’re on board with that line of thinking. Urgency is what allows benefits to land. Without urgency, benefits are just happy points that hold no real meaning.

4. Insight is your #1 lead story

Buyers are the experts on their company’s circumstances. But they want insights into their situation from you.

You’re most likely to impress a buyer by telling them something new about themselves. They’re bogged down in their own perspective, and your shiniest offering is new insight into their problems and opportunities.

They can get common information about your product’s benefits from a brochure, thank you very much. But an insight into themselves? That’s worth its weight in gold.

Check out this TaylorMade video. It’s a bang-on example of how to lead a presentation with insight, and then move on to your product’s strengths:

You learned how to get more distance from your golf swing (an insight into what you’re doing). Then you learned how that’s supported by the product’s particular strength.

Insight comes first. It changes how your buyers think about the problem your product solves. Only then benefits can land effectively.

5. Don’t lead with differentiators, lead to them

Think about what makes your product unique. Nothing you say about differentiators matters, if your buyer doesn’t value that differentiator.

So, how do you get buyers to care about your unique strength? Help your buyer understand a problem or opportunity they’ve missed. Educate them, and be sure the solution relates to your differentiator.

At Gong.io, we’ve taught our sales reps to speak with buyers about an important problem only we can solve. It’s the delta between top producers and the rest of the team.

sales-preso-min
After naming that problem, reps offer insight into it and begin to build urgency:

  • "The numbers from your top reps are fantastic."
  • "The downside is they’re annulled by everyone else who’s missing their quota."
  • "Your team goes from outstanding numbers to breaking even or missing quota. Both of those options are unsustainable."

We only introduce our key differentiator once the backstory is clear and the buyer gets it. Then, our reps say something like this:

"Gong is the only platform that can tell you what your top reps do differently from the rest of your team. We can tell you which questions they ask, which topics they discuss, when they talk about each one, and more."

See why we lead to our differentiator, and not with it? It just wouldn’t land the same way if we started with the differentiator. In fact, it might not land at all.

6. Say it like an exec

Remember this the next time you open your mouth in a meeting: You get delegated to the person you sound like.

sound-authoritative-in-presentations-min

Focusing on specs and features is a poor sales strategy that gets you booted from decision makers.

"This is interesting stuff. You know who would really connect with this? Our IT guy. He’s in charge of these kind of things and I think we’ll hand off to him at this point." -Every senior executive you bored with features talk

Time for a reframe. When you talk about your value prop, use language that reflects strategic issues. That’s what resonates with executives. They want wins for corporate business problems, not tech snippets in the trenches.

They want you to help them tackle strategic opportunities like these:

  • The competition
  • Market dynamics and market share
  • Trends

If your solution relates back to those problems, you can sell to the C-suite.

7. Flip your presentation

There’s an incredibly predictable bent to most presentations. They’re logical and they flow from one point to the next, eventually achieving a shiny, final outcome. This is a great way to set yourself up for failure.

Logic works when we introduce people to new topics. It’s used at all levels of the education system. But it doesn’t work well for presentations.

Here are two presentations for constructing a new city. The first one is logic-based, and the audience is a big-wig politician.

"Ms. Politician, we’d like you to consider this empty plot of land":

presentation-example-3-min

"Sure, it’s a barren patch of earth right now. But hold on to your hat! We’ve envisioned a transformation: new buildings, roads, sidewalks, greenery. A day when our first stop light appears."

presentation-example-4-min

"And if we take that a step further, we get to the good part. There’s an economic boom coming, and pretty soon we’re going to have homes and local businesses moving in. There’s going to be a big box store around the corner in no time."

presentation-example-min

"Growth begets growth. New enterprises will emerge and eventually, we’ll have a metropolitan centre that will amaze and astound you. According to our plans, in just a couple of decades, that empty plot of land will have turned into a booming, gorgeous city rivaling Manhattan!"

presentation-example-2-min

Let’s debrief.

There’s a lot of build up. A lot of anticipation. And it’s all built on logical progression.

But it took so long to get to the point, and that’s the wrong approach when you’re dealing with busy politicians. Or, in your case, busy decision makers.

Here’s the second presentation.

"Ms. Politician, we’re pleased to present our audacious dream for a new city. We’ve set out a plan and determined that if we stick to it, in just a few decades, our city will look like this:"

presentation-example-5-min

"We’d love to have a conversation about our plans in any level of detail you like. Big picture or granular, let’s talk about what’s interesting to you."

The main difference in the second example is that it started with the end result. The conversation unfolded after the seller revealed a big outcome.

Of course, we know these conversations sound different in real life. But you take our point, right? During a presentation you want to reveal an outcome first and let the conversation grow from there.

There’s one other tactic underlying it all: The best product demos start with topics the buyers highlighted on the discovery call.

Your product demo should mirror those important topics back to the buyer. Start with the most important one first, and work your way down as the conversation moves along.

successful-presentation-flow

This is something the team at Gong saw repeatedly in our analysis of winning product demos.

In the opening section of your presentation, address the biggest issue from discovery. Address the second biggest issue second, etc.

It’s called solution mapping, and it’s going to change your sales presentation process forever. Stop saving the big reveal for last. Stop building anticipation. Start with the good stuff. Let it rip right out of the gate.

8. Turn your presentation into a conversation

If you sensed we’re looking for a two-way dialogue during your pitch, you’re right. That’s a relief to most salespeople, especially the ones who hate delivering traditional presentations.

A two-way dialogue is going to make your pitch feel more natural. Stay away from one-way conversations like this one:

talking-too-much-in-presentation-min

If you look at this through the lens of a talk-to-listen ratio, it’s terrible. So much talking. So little listening.

That means the rep isn’t asking the right questions, or getting long enough answers.

Save your long monologues for Broadway. They won’t help you have a real conversation with your buyers. Instead, aim for a great two-way conversation:

conversational-presentation-tips-min

Picture that conversation in your mind. It’s connected, and real, and both people are fully engaged participants. That’s exactly how you want your buyer to behave at this point in the process.

9. Keep your presentation to 9 minutes max

This tip is crisp and clear: Don’t present for more than nine minutes.

Presentations for lost deals last an average of 11.4 minutes. Why does anything over nine minutes go poorly? Because humans don’t think well for that long. Our brains call a timeout at the nine-minute mark.

When you hit the nine-minute mark, you need to change channels in your buyer’s brain. You can do that by switching up who’s speaking in real life or on a video or demo.

That resets your clock to zero and you’ve got nine more minutes for the next portion of the show. Ignore this rule and you’ll lose your buyer for good!

10. Use this kind of social proof or face the consequences

Social proof. Best friend or worst nightmare? It can be either one, so use it carefully. Generic social proof (i.e., naming impressive clients for brand power alone) is a disaster. Try it and your close rate is likely to drop by 22%.

use-social-proof-in-presentations-min

Early stage calls are the worst time to throw down generic social proof. That move will earn you a 47% drop in close rates.

best-presentation-techniques-min

What’s happening here? Why is it so damaging to name two or three mega clients to regular buyers? Simple: The regular buyers don’t identify with big-name brands.

Sure, they’re dazzled that you nabbed those clients. You’ll probably get some impressed nods in your meeting. But internally your buyers are thinking, "Wow. Google is their client?! Clearly their product isn’t designed for me."

Here’s a much more effective strategy: Use tribal social proof. Clients who belong to your buyer’s tribe have the same pain points, challenges, and needs. Instead of naming a couple of magnificent clients, evoke tribal social proof by naming six same-tribe clients.

The best reps rattle off half a dozen or more, when they’re using this technique. If you don’t have that many, you can get away with naming clients from a different tribe.

But you have to know what you’re doing. You have to tell an accompanying story about the client and their pain points must match the buyer’s. Otherwise, forget about naming clients from different industries.

The reason you’re naming these clients in the first place is so your buyer will see themselves in the customer story you’re telling. Keep reading for more tips on customer stories that sell.

11. Ditch ROI calculators. Use customer stories.

ROI has a deep psychological hold on plenty of salespeople. They think these cold, hard facts are hard to ignore. But they missed the memo that says using ROI during the sales process leads to a 27% drop in won deals.

presentation-tips-2019-min

That’s true at any point in the process, and I’ll tell you why. It’s connected to how human brains work.

We process information in two ways: logically and emotionally. Discussing ROI triggers the wrong process. ROI awakens the logical processors where critical analysis and debate happen.

When you talk about ROI, your customer’s brain can’t help but argue with your assumptions. It’s a natural reaction when you trigger their analytical system. Instead, provoke your buyer’s emotional brain, because that’s where buying decisions happen.

Do that by telling a before-and-after customer story. It’s a tactic that doesn’t stir any arousal in your buyer’s logical brain. It sneaks into their head and makes a point without setting off any alarms.

And don’t get so excited about the "after" results that you forget to mention the "before" metrics. The contrast between "before" and "after" is where buyers learn about your product’s value.

This unedited slide is straight from one of our business case decks:

sales-presentation-techniques

One of the reasons this works so much better than discussing ROI is that there are no assumptions to argue over. Your story stands entirely on its own and buyers understand it at face value.

The trick is to get your buyers to see themselves in that story. If they do, your job gets a lot easier.

self-discovery-presentation-minThey’ll be ready to sign in no time.

12. Talk price after you establish value

Would it surprise you to know it matters when you talk about certain topics? It can actually affect whether you win or lose a deal. Pricing is a great example of this principle.

The top salespeople wait to talk about pricing. They know it’s important to demonstrate their product’s value first.

pricing-discussion-tips-min

You can get into real trouble if a buyer decides they want to talk pricing early in the call.

Set an agenda at the start of your call, so your buyer knows when to expect a pricing discussion. They’ll be less likely to raise it early, and if they do, you can refer back to the agenda.

Open with something like, "I’d like to talk about A, B, and C on our call today. Then we can go over pricing at the end and -- if it makes sense for you -- talk about next steps. Does that work for you?"

You’re all set.

13. Learn your competitor’s strength and use it

This is one of my favorite competition-crushing techniques. It’s easy to focus on your competition’s weaknesses. That’s why most salespeople do it.

A more sophisticated technique involves using their strengths against them. Mentioning your competitor’s weaknesses leaves you vulnerable to attack. Your buyer can dispute or correct your points.

What if you could show your buyer how your competitor’s strengths make their product a poor fit? That’s exactly what one of the biggest names in the fast-food business did in the mid-1980’s.

By 1985, McDonald’s was losing market share to Burger King, and their marketing teams were going head to head.

That’s when Burger King decided to take down everything McDonald’s promoted as its strengths.

McDonald’s branding was highly focused on being the place for kids. From Happy Meals and Play Places to Ronald and his friends, McDonald’s was undeniably kid-oriented.

The genius marketing crew at Burger King framed their counterpoint: it was the place for adults and real burgers, not just "fun food."

Knowing your competitor’s strengths is just as important as knowing their weaknesses, if you know what to do with that information.

Sales jiu-jitsu in your back pocket.

14. Solidify your position early on

Here’s another way to use the competition to win deals. Talk about them. Our data shows that you’re more likely to win a deal if you talk about the competition early in the sales process, instead of ignoring them completely.

presentation-conversion-tips-min

For best results, practice this during your first sales presentation. Waiting until the end of your sales process puts you into a dangerous red zone. Your buyers will already have formed opinions, and they’ll be harder to change.

Sales managers, pay particular attention to this one and jump into competitive deals early on. We love these words from Geoffrey Moore, who wrote "Crossing the Chasm:"

crossing-the-chasm-quote-min

In other words, at the end of the day, buyers will justify a decision they made early in the process.

That’s why it’s critical to set yourself up as the winner early on. Talk about the competition in your presentation. Put the conversation out there. Get your buyer to see you through that lens, and you’re golden.

You have 14 new tips and techniques to throw down this quarter. These data-backed moves are straight out of our own playbook and have proven highly effective. Implement them all and I know you’ll boost your numbers.

Want to keep reading? Check out these tips for ending your presentation with a bang.

Sales Presentations