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07 Aug 16:24

The real reason most follow-ups get ignored

by steli@close.io (Steli Efti)
follow-ups-ignored

You’ve sent your initial email. You crafted it well, sent it to a few colleagues to get their feedback, made sure your ask was reasonable, then hit send. A week goes by—you follow up

Another week goes by—another follow-up. And still… crickets.

So now you’re asking:

“What did I do wrong? Why didn’t they answer?”

The thing is, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to those two questions. It’s always going to depend on who you are, who you’re reaching out to, what you’re asking for, etc.

Still, you’ll find plenty of hot outreach and follow-up hacks floating around:

  • Include numbers in your subject lines
  • Namedrop one of your top investors
  • Ask them if they want to hear more before you pitch anything
  • Follow up every day for a week / follow up once a week / follow up once a quarter

The list goes on and on and on... Do these so-called “outreach hacks” work?

Sometimes yes.

But those hacks are just Band-Aids. If you think adding numbers to your subject lines and calling it a day will boost your outreach and follow-up reply rates, prepare to be disappointed.

So what can you do? Are you doomed because your cold email didn’t get replies? Should you all it quits just because your follow-ups went unopened?

Not quite.

There are definitely ways to up your reply rates and the overall success of your outreach that aren’t just quick hacks. How you approach that first outreach email is important, but the real money is made after that.

It comes down to the follow-up phase. (I’ve written an entire book about the art of following up effectively. You can download a free copy here!)Follow-Up-Formula-Cover-CloseAnd that’s what we’re going to dig into today, so let’s jump right in to the reasons that your emails are getting ignored in the first place:

1. You haven’t done your research

The most likely reason your outreach is falling flat on its face is that you barely know who you’re talking to.

If you go the mass-outreach route and try to land in as many inboxes as possible, naturally you won’t be able to do the research needed to understand what each recipient is looking for.

Here’s the thing:

Personalization is key.

And no, dropping in some {FIRST NAME} and {COMPANY} merge tags does not count as personalization.

ClickToTweet_followupsignoredTake this pitch for example:

email-personalization-is-key

The email itself isn’t awful. It’s fairly brief, not asking for too much. But here’s the big problem that most prospects will instantly see:

It’s a template that can easily be blasted to thousands of people per hour.

The only bits of personalization in there are the classic {FIRST NAME} and {COMPANY} merge tags. Everything else is cookie-cutter—there’s nothing in there that’s relevant specifically to the person you’re emailing.

You need to understand what the person you’re talking to is interested in, then craft your outreach and follow-ups accordingly.

Here’s how you can go about this:

  1. Don’t use a generic (and robotic) template for every email
  2. Figure out what they’ve been investing their time in lately
  3. Look into the content they’re sharing and talking about most
  4. Find the angle that will catch their attention
  5. Craft your outreach and follow-ups with this angle top of mind

2. Your emails are way too long

Have you ever met somebody who gets genuinely excited when they open up an email that’s just a wall of text—like this?

emails-too-long-example

I’ll bet you stopped reading at “try to sell you leads…” in that screenshot—and that’s if you even got past “I am sure you get 250 emails like this–” 

The point is this:

Nobody wants to spend all their time in Gmail. And if you’re asking them to dig through an email that’s just a bunch of block paragraphs, the only reply you’ll ever get is the classic “stop emailing me”—sometimes in a much less friendly tone.

Here are the questions you need to answer as efficiently as possible:

  • Who are you?
  • Why are you reaching out?
  • Why should they care?
  • What do you want?

3. You’re waiting way too long

Want to know the easiest way to get completely forgotten about?

Wait for weeks between each follow-up you send—or worse, never send a single follow-up email at all.

No matter how much research and personalization work you put in, you’re still only looking at a 40% response rate at best. The real success comes from the follow-ups. And if you’re waiting for weeks before reaching out again, you’re just wasting your own time.

So what’s the best follow-up schedule?

 

Let me introduce you to the Close follow-up formula:

1. Send the first cold email.

Do your research on what’s most likely to resonate, then personalize and send.

2. Wait 1 day, then send follow-up #1 at a different time of day.

This should be a modified version of your first email. Communicate the same message—just in a different format. For example, if your initial email was several paragraphs long, make this follow-up email only two sentences long, and vice versa.

3. Wait 2 days after your second email, then send follow-up #2.

Don’t explain anything at all. Just quickly and clearly restate your call to action. You can ask your prospect to introduce you to someone else in their organization, schedule a call, or just respond to your email—whatever you asked in the first email.

4. Wait 4–5 days after your third email, then send the third and final follow-up.

This is the break-up email. It’s where you say goodbye to the prospect. Here you’re tapping into their loss aversion—a psychological principle that says people strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains.

Notice the timeline here:

  • Day 1: Send cold email
  • Day 2: Follow up
  • Day 4: Follow up
  • Day 8 or 9: Follow up (break up)

That’s barely a week and a half. If you try to stretch this same formula over 30+ days, you’re not really “following up”—you’re pretty much starting from scratch each and every time.

Wrapping up

email-outreach-follow-up

The success of your email outreach comes down to the follow-up.

If you don’t follow up at all, you’re leaving money on the table. Simple as that. So how can you make sure your follow-ups aren’t getting sent straight to the trash?

Let’s recap:

  • Do your research to make sure your emails resonate
  • Keep your follow-ups short and to the point
  • Shrink the time between follow-ups

Want to take the next step in mastering the follow-up? Grab a free copy of The Follow-Up Formula.

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE COPY TODAY

07 Aug 16:23

Effective Ways to Sell to C-Suite Buyers

by James Meincke

When you’re selling to a mid- or lower-level buyer, it’s usually a multi-step process to get to the real decision-maker. By the time your careful messaging has run up the ladder, it’s been mutilated. But, if you sell directly to an executive, your sale can get closed faster – and better. 

But selling to C-level buyers requires a different approach than with typical buyers. You need to be concise, be respectful of their time, and be aware of what they care about. You also need to highlight your edge against competitors to stand out – and talking about customer service and your low prices isn’t going to cut it at this level. 

The difference between a typical sales rep that earns $40,000 a year and the one who earns $500,000 a year comes down to approach.  The former tries to apply the same strategies he or she would to a manager, procurement, or HR employee while the latter goes for the bigger guns and targets the C-suite buyers. What sets them apart is that one knows how to speak to these executives in their language. They know what these buyers care about and how to get through to them. 

The difference between an executive buyer and low-level buyers

  • They don’t believe the over-the-top claims about ROI from sellers;
  • They don’t have time for endless discovery questions – their workload is tremendous;
  • They don’t care about all the outreach efforts being shot your way (refer to the last point); and 
  • The outreach requests they do look at are filtered based on whether they were referred by a trusted source. 

If you can understand these few points about C-suite buyers, you’re halfway there. You can now start to figure out how your approach needs to change. But that doesn’t mean some tips won’t help you get there faster. 

7 tips for selling high-level prospects

1. Do your research

When you approach a C-suite exec, come prepared. Find credible, relevant sources to reference, and make sure they come from the prospect’s market and region. Doing anything less is disrespectful to the prospect. 

LinkedIn is a good place to do some research on the prospect and their company, as well as competitors, relevant industry trends, etc. It’s also a great place to start for your….

2. Warm introduction

CEOs, COO, CFOs, etc. are all busy. Often, the only way to get past their gatekeepers will be via a warm introduction from someone they know and trust as a credible source. Just make sure you understand the nature of the prospect’s relationship with your introducer – that’ll give you context for how well the prospect themselves will receive your introduction. 

Again, you can use LinkedIn to help with this. Plus, it can help greatly to speak to multiple individuals in the organization about your solution. If you can educate and nurture multiple stakeholders, not only might you get a warm introduction from one of them, you might also have someone on your side to support your pitch to the executive. 

3. Know their industry

This goes alongside the very first point on doing your research – who does the executive’s company define as their competition? Why? Do you have any insights you can provide about them? That’s not to say you should give away trade secrets, but if you have something valuable to offer it will go a long way. 

4. Aim for “trusted advisor” 

Hari Krishnan, CEO of PropertyGuru, defines vendor roles in 3 distinct levels

  1. Trusted advisor – You collaborate together and are a deeply-involved part of the planning, with a deeply emotional and personal connection and a high level of trust. 
  2. Partner – You are strategic to the executive’s business and they are interested in hearing your thoughts during planning. 
  3. Vendor – It’s a transaction relationship. Price is the primary way of determining your value. 

To be successful in selling to C-suite execs, aim to be the “Trusted Advisor.” Focus on their best interests; it’s not a cliché, it’s a fact. It takes time to reach this level, but there’s one thing you can do to achieve this more easily: see yourself as a C-Suite executive. 

Set aside any self-esteem issues and don’t talk “up” to the prospect. Instead, no matter their title, sell to them like you’re on the same level, as a peer. Every time. View yourself as an expert on-level with them, and your executive prospects will, too. 

5. Keep it short/get to the point

Again, C-suite buyers don’t have time. Once you get through to them, be friendly, but get to the point right away. You can ask a small handful of discovery questions, sure, but not too many – after a certain point, asking more questions actually decreases your win rate.

This is very different from low-level buyers and is actually one of the most important skills for selling to C-level executives. 

6. Understand how they define success

Conversely, you also need to understand how the prospect defines success in their organization. What motivates them and how do they measure it? What KPIs do they need to improve? If you can glean this information, you can focus on how your solution can help them achieve those things. 

7. Identify and present your solution around bottom-line results

We’ll say it again: C-suite buyers don’t care about customer service or low prices. They care about results – more importantly, increasing profits – EBITA. 

Instead of focusing on those features and benefits that lower-level prospects like to hear about, focus on how your solution can help increase profits. Once they see the real value that your solution provides, they’ll pay your price. 

Wrapping up

To summarize: 

  1. C-suite buyers care about different things than lower-level buyers do. You need to adjust your approach to reflect this. 
  2. Use LinkedIn to research the best path to a warm introduction and make sure you understand their industry and competitors. 
  3. View yourself as a C-suite buyer – you’re an expert on your solution, so see yourself as one, and they will too. 
  4. Once you get to them, get to the point and present your solution around the bottom-line results it can provide. 

Selling to C-suite buyers isn’t as complicated as you’d think. However, it does require a different, more strategic approach. Understand what they care about and speak to them in their language. With some practice, you’ll soon be closing deals. 
Discover the best sales career opportunities. 100% free and confidential.

The post Effective Ways to Sell to C-Suite Buyers appeared first on CloserIQ Blog.

07 Aug 16:23

Tips on Texting in B2B Sales

by Chris Tuttle

Texting is almost non-existent in B2B sales. Recent research has found that texting was the lowest adopted of any technology used and sales reps reported only sending .7 SMS messages per cadence, the lowest for every type of medium used.  Despite its low adoption rates, some of the stats below reveal that texting is a […]

The post Tips on Texting in B2B Sales appeared first on The Sales Insider.

07 Aug 16:23

Sales Effectiveness Metrics For Evaluating Your Team

by Livia Stancu

Having sales metrics in place is vital in tracking a team’s performance and motivating employees. Read on and find out how a team’s performance can be measured with these metrics for sales effectiveness here! RELATED: 14 Key Sales Metrics [Infographic] In this article: The Use Of Sales Force Effectiveness Metrics Why Sales Is Broken and […]

The post Sales Effectiveness Metrics For Evaluating Your Team appeared first on The Sales Insider.

06 Aug 16:48

A storm is gathering on the cloud business

by Alexei Oreskovic

This July 21, 2019 satellite image provided by NASA shows winds carrying individual plumes of smoke in Russia, center right, towards the southwest, mixing with a swirling storm system. As of Wednesday, July 31, 2019, forest fires that have engulfed nearly 30,000 square kilometers (11,580 square miles) of territory in Siberia and the Russian Far East _ an area the size of Belgium. (Joshua Stevens, VIIRS, NASA EOSDIS/LANCE, GIBS/Worldview, Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership, NASA Earth Observatory via AP)

Hello, 

This is Alexei Oreskovic, Business Insider's Global Tech Editor and West Coast Bureau Chief. Starting today I'll be sending a new weekly newsletter — "Trending" — dedicated to Business Insider Prime's tech coverage. 

Whether you work in Silicon Valley or compete with its denizens, our mission is to give you the info you need to stay ahead of the pack, with exclusive, fly-on-the-wall reporting from inside tech's most innovative companies; smart analysis that reveals the real story behind product pivots, management shake-ups, and acquisitions; and honest insight and perspectives from the players shaping the market. 

This week: The cloud is now in the center of the storm

The booming cloud market is suddenly getting a lot of attention from new places, not all of it welcome.

The Pentagon's decision to examine the $10 billion JEDI mega-contract, which was all but a done deal for Amazon,was a big wake-up call in Seattle. Sure, the move may be linked in part to Trump's personal grudge against Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, but it's hardly the only scrutiny Amazon's cloud business is getting. The US Federal Reserve reportedly paid a visit to an Amazon datacenter recently to better understand the processes and safeguards in place; And let's not forget that the big Capital One hack occurred on the AWS platform, even if the mistake was made by Capital One. The price of success is scrutiny, and Amazon is going to have to get used to it.

Meanwhile, the top cloud players are scrambling to bulk up and pair up. As Julie Bort reports in her story on the recent Google VMware partnership, the intriguing backstory of the deal points to the frenzied level of competition and maneuvering going on. And it shows the power of having a shrewd strategist like Thomas Kurian, the Oracle exec that Google poached to lead its Cloud business, on your side.

The wave of big-ticket M&A in the enterprise tech sector is also a direct result of the shifting balance of power triggered by the cloud business, as Megan Hernbroth reports. And Ben Pimentel spoke to IBM's cloud boss about his plans, following the $34 billion Red Hat acquisition.

Check out the stories:

How VMware became a secret superpower in the cloud wars and why Amazon Web Services should not be happy but Google and Microsoft are thrilled

Pat Gelsinger   Andy Jassy

 

New forces in enterprise tech are triggering a wave of mega-deals and Salesforce's $15 billion Tableau acquisition was just the start

salesforce tower san francisco marc benioff 5328

 

IBM's cloud boss reveals the game plan for its $34 billion Red Hat acquisition, and says it'll give it 'massive reach' in a $1.2 trillion cloud market

Arvind Krishna, IBM's senior vice president for cloud

Other recent tech highlights:

 

And more from across the BI newsroom: 

Thanks for reading BI Prime, and you can always feel free to reach out to me directly with feedback, thoughts and tips at aoreskovic@businessinsider.com. You can also take part in our subscriber survey here. 

- Alexei

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Why Apple's Mac Pro 'trash can' was a colossal failure

06 Aug 16:41

What is Product Led Growth? How to Build a Software Company in the End User Era

by Blake Bartlett

Whenever I’m asked to define product led growth, I like to start by asking a question: How did your company adopt Slack?

I don’t know your company’s story, but I’m guessing it went like this: Jane heard about Slack from a friend, so she signed up and started using it with her team. Pretty soon the whole company was on Slack, and no one can remember life before it.Product Led GrowthMost software companies dream of seeing people adopt their product like this. But they don’t know how to get there. From the outside, it looks like magic.

It used to be hard for a company to adopt new software. Long sales processes, complex implementation, formal training and certification—the list goes on.

Related read: The Ultimate Product Led Growth Resources Guide

All this took a lot of time—months, quarters, sometimes even years.

But today, software just shows up in the workplace unannounced. End users are finding products on their own and telling their bosses which ones to buy. And it’s all happening at lightning speed.What is product led growth?This dynamic is new, but it’s not magic. The best software companies have recognized this market shift and put end users at the core of their business.

In its S-1 filing, Slack stated, “Many organizations adopt Slack initially as part of our self-service go-to-market approach. Organic growth is generated as users realize the benefits of Slack.”

And it’s not just Slack. Atlassian’s S-1 says, “We recognize that users drive the adoption and proliferation of our products.” And you’ll find similar quotes in the S-1s of Zoom, Shopify, Twilio, Dropbox and other recent IPOs.

What about your company? Is your product being “magically” adopted by new customers? Do you describe your business with the same end-user language that Slack and Atlassian use in their S-1s?

Or is this idea still a total head-scratcher to you?

We are at an inflection point. The software market is continually evolving, and we are witnessing the rise of the end user. The harsh truth is that software companies must adapt and embrace the end user if they want to remain relevant.

How did we get here?

When I first observed this trend, my goal was to get down to first principles. I wanted to see if this thing was real and if it deserved further attention.

After some digging, I uncovered four foundational elements that drive evolution in the software market:

☁ Infrastructure: Where does software live?
💰 Cost: How much does it cost to build and buy software?
👩‍💻 Buyer: Who evaluates and selects software products?
🛒 Distribution: How do software products get in front of the buyer?

These interconnected factors all feed off of each other. As infrastructure evolves, software becomes cheaper to build and easier to buy. These cost savings are passed on to the customer and the purchase price falls. More affordable software that’s easier to buy drives decentralization in purchasing power and the buyer persona moves down the org chart. As you might expect, distribution continually adapts to fit the evolving market landscape.

A history of software in three eras

When you examine the history of the software industry with these drivers in mind, things quickly snap into three primary eras: the CIO Era, the Exec Era and the End User Era.

Product led growth

The CIO Era

The CIO Era dates back to the 80s and 90s when the software industry really got going. Back then, software lived in a physical box installed on a physical rack inside of a physical data center. This monolithic on-prem software was expensive to build and expensive to buy—think 6- to 7-figure CAPEX purchases.

The CIO was the buyer and her key decision-making criteria was IT compatibility—will this product work in my environment?

During this period, software distribution was defined as “sales led growth” with blazer-clad field sales reps taking CIOs out to fancy steak dinners in hopes of winning the RFP.

Yeah…the CIO Era was the stone ages.

The Exec Era

The Exec Era began in the 2000s and you know the story. Virtualization eventually drove software out of the data center and into the cloud. On-prem became on-demand, and SaaS companies made sure to specify that their software was proudly “single-instance, multi-tenant.”

Development costs fell as it became possible to build, maintain and continuously improve a single codebase for all customers. This drove a huge economic shift for customers: you don’t buy the expensive software anymore; you rent it for a fraction of the cost.

The CIO went the way of the data center and we saw the rise of the non-technical executive as the new buyer.

The decision-making criteria was now all about the ROI and the KPIs—will this product help our team achieve its goals?

Related read: The 8 KPIs That Actually Matter—and How to Measure Them

These huge paradigm shifts brought us “marketing led growth” as a distribution model, and we all started using fun terms like MQL and SDR for the first time. Inbound marketing fueled high-velocity inside sales, and we jumped on the treadmill of chasing demo after demo, gong after gong.

The Exec Era should feel familiar. This is what the VCs and SaaS talking heads are still droning on about online, on stage and in the boardroom, even though it is rapidly declining in relevance as software evolution continues at a breakneck pace.

The End User Era

And so we come to the present day and the End User Era. While the shift in focus to the end user feels like a hard pivot, it’s just the next logical step in the market’s evolution. Infrastructure has become an elastic utility that scales as needed, and developers have gained further superpowers from APIs and other modular tools and services.

Developers increasingly compose software by stitching together building blocks with new logic, rather than hand-coding everything from scratch. The efficiency gains passed along to customers mean that it’s cheaper than ever (usually free) to try out a new product. Thousands of shiny new products are just a few clicks or taps away. The affordability and accessibility of software has fully democratized purchasing down to the end user.

“The End User Era is here. Product led growth is how you thrive in it.”

The decision-making criteria is now personal productivity—will this product actually help me day-to-day?

Software distribution today is best described as “product led growth,” and it looks a lot like consumer growth models. When you need to attract tons of individual end users to a free product, human-dependent growth doesn’t scale. The only choice is to de-labor the distribution engine behind your product by empowering end users to find, evaluate and adopt your product on their own.

There is an inexorable march toward the End User Era that simply can’t be stopped. As a software company, you can’t opt out of this secular shift. It’s pretty damn obvious that you wouldn’t build an on-prem product geared for the CIO Era. While you can still get away with building your business for the Exec Era, that wave has already crested and its days are numbered.

The End User Era is here. Product led growth is how you thrive in it.

What is product led growth?

Product led growth (PLG) is an end user-focused growth model that relies on the product itself as the primary driver of customer acquisition, conversion and expansion.

Many companies will say they’re fully aligned with the end user, but they’re usually only thinking about a small aspect of it, like consumer-grade design or freemium pricing. Those things are important, but they’re only small parts of the greater whole.

In order to succeed today, software companies must go all in by building a product for end users and distributing that product directly to the same end users.

How to build a product for end users

Successfully building a product for end users is rooted in two fundamental principles:

🎨 Design is not enough
🤕 Solve end user pain

Design is not enough

Design first became critical to software success around 2011-2012 when the consumerization of IT was all the rage. The basic premise was that legacy software was clunky. But as consumers, we had gotten used to well-designed apps and websites. Naturally, we all wanted the software we used at work to look and feel more like the well-designed consumer apps and websites we loved.

So product design became a thing. And for a while, it was a differentiator. A new product could upset a clunky incumbent by focusing on design. The consumerization of IT totally worked, and we are all its beneficiaries.

Good design is imperative today, but it has been downgraded from a differentiator to table stakes. It’s not unique, and it can’t take sole credit for the dominance of companies like Slack. There is clearly more to their success than pretty pixels and intuitive navigation.

Solve end user pain

In order to attract end users, your product must solve end user pain.

Every software product has two possible personas: executives and end users. And they each think about pain very differently.Executives are usually looking to increase ROI by improving an underperforming KPI. This is your standard businessperson fare. At the other end of the spectrum, end users are usually looking to automate or simplify an annoying task.

Successful software products are tailored to a primary persona and their pain. For example, check out Slack vs. Salesforce:It can be tempting to dismiss end user pain as petty whining. The ROI-oriented lingo of the executive sounds much more business-y and professional, so it’s no wonder we are drawn to it when building business software. But this is a mistake in the End User Era. The most successful software companies have figured out that end user annoyance spells opportunity:Building a product for end users is about aligning to their pain. Beautiful design, friendly mascots and emoji support in the app aren’t enough. You have to actually solve a problem.

How to distribute a product to end users

You’ve built a product for end users. Now you have to get it into their hands.

It’s important to avoid the trap of trying to sell an executive on the value of a product designed around solving end user annoyance. They just won’t get it. It will always feel like a nice-to-have to a KPI-focused executive. In other words, pick a lane and stick to it.

Aligning distribution to the end user requires that you think like a consumer rather than a businessperson. After all, end users are just consumers who happen to be at work.

With that in mind, what do consumers hate when looking for a product online? Friction. To effectively distribute your product to end users, you must remove the friction from the process by:

🏠 Distributing your product where users live
🏃‍♀️ Making it easy to get started
🏅 Delivering value before the paywall
📞 Hiring sales last

Distribute where they live

End users are always looking for solutions to their pain. Your job is to make it easy for them to find your product. Which screens do your end users live in all day at work? Sales reps live in Salesforce. Online merchants live in Shopify. Knowledge workers live in Chrome or Slack. Non-desk workers live on their smartphones. And with so many people working and learning remotely, we’re all pretty much living in Zoom.

Every end user has 2-3 primary screens where they live at work. It’s probably while working in these screens (or toggling between them) that they get annoyed. Your product’s proximity to end user annoyance is key.

If your end users live in Chrome, distribute through the Chrome Web Store. If they live in Slack, distribute through the Slack App Directory. If they live on their smartphone, distribute through the App Store. You get the idea: multiple screens, multiple distribution channels.

Make it easy to get started

Once end users find your product, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to get started. No delays. No hoops to jump through. And definitely no commitment. End users demand self-serve signup and onboarding. Remember that end users are just consumers at work, so impatience is their default factory setting.

Friction in the signup and onboarding funnels is usually caused by humans. No matter how helpful and friendly your team is, end users don’t want to talk to them. Remove the humans from your signup and onboarding funnel, or end users will abandon the funnel.Think of yourself as a consumer. You don’t want to order from an Amazon sales rep, you want the ease and speed of a one-click purchase. You don’t want to DocuSign a contract from Instagram to accept the Ts & Cs. You don’t want an onboarding call from a CSM at Uber before you can take your first ride. When in doubt, ask if you would tolerate it in a consumer app.

Deliver value before the paywall

Once an end user is set up on the product, you need to immediately solve the pain that brought them to you. And this has to happen before they hit the paywall.

Again, think of yourself as a consumer—how often do you pay for an app or subscription without trying the service first? You might happily subscribe to Spotify, but only after you’ve browsed the library and made some playlists. You want to get value before you buy. End users now expect the same from business software.

What is the “aha moment” in your product? For Zoom, it’s after you’ve hosted your first meeting. For Expensify, it comes at the end of the month when you realize your expense report is ready to submit and all you did was snap a few pictures.

If you put the paywall before the “aha moment,” you kill your conversion rate. It feels like a broken promise on the call-to-action that brought the end user to you, and they will bounce.

You are in a value exchange with end users. Deliver value before requesting value in return.

Hire sales last

Despite all this talk about end users being consumers at work who want a self-serve experience, you do still need a sales team. You just don’t need them right away.

In the old world of sales led growth and marketing led growth, you couldn’t get new customers without salespeople. Someone on your team had to pitch the budget-holding executive and convince them to buy.

But in the End User Era, hunting for executives with budget is a losing proposition. Software buying has flipped, so your hiring should follow suit. You used to hire sales first, but now you should hire sales last.

The goal today is to leverage product led growth to turn your product into an end user magnet. Once you have end users, the first thing they need is support. So you hire a support team to help end users with anything you can’t automate or defer to the community.

Related read: How to Pair Sales and Self-Service for Maximum Impact

The product itself then drives end user conversion and expansion through increased usage, viral loops, collaboration and word-of-mouth referrals. As your product footprint expands from individual end users to teams, they will need help with new use cases, deeper integrations and perhaps switching to a team account with an invoice. And since these teams are all-in on the product, you should be proactively helping them get the most out of new features and releases. Sounds like a great time to hire a success team.

The end users and your success team are now working together to drive continued expansion inside the customer’s organization. As small teams become big teams, the customer needs more help. Your product has become a big deal to the customer—both in terms of value and cost. It eventually becomes a big enough deal that you start running into the customer’s internal red tape—budget approvals, executive sponsors, procurement, legal, etc. All the fun stuff.

Your customer wants to buy more of your product, but they need your help. This is the perfect time to hire a sales team to help your champion navigate their company’s buying process, hand-in-hand.

Product led growth is not anti-sales. But in a product-led company, sales takes a consultative approach that looks and feels more like customer success than traditional sales. End users love your product and are happy to pay for it. Remove friction and help them expand usage by letting the product lead, while support, success and sales follow.

Product led growth is taking over

Which software companies do you admire most? If you’re looking for companies to emulate, may I suggest the following:Product led growth companiesThese companies have recognized that we are in the End User Era, and they’re all-in on product led growth:

A few years ago, only a handful of young public companies had adopted a product led growth model. Today, there are 21 large public companies with a PLG model. And the PLG IPO wave continues to build momentum. This slide comes from the 2020 SaaS Product Benchmarks Report:

Public product led growth businesses

 

The 2020 SaaS Product Benchmarks Report also found that product led businesses grow faster at scale. While growth might be slow in a PLG company’s early days—it takes time to build a community of free users and convert those users to paying customers, after all—after $10M in ARR, they can scale faster. Why? They aren’t as limited by their ability to hire, onboard and feed leads to enterprise sales reps.

Post-IPO, PLG companies perform better than other companies, including the non-PLG SaaS companies that were built for the bygone eras of selling to CIOs and Execs.

Product led growth has already created more than $200B of market value, and we’re still seeing exponential growth:

It pays to embrace product led growth. Your company wins when end users win.

Be like Slack

“Be like Slack” is not particularly helpful advice. But your favorite VCs and tech bloggers are saying things like that all the time. The appropriate response is, “No shit. How?”

The End User Era is upon us, but many software companies are still relying on decades-old advice about sales and marketing-led growth models that are human-dependent and untenable in the current market environment.

The software market is constantly evolving and you need to evolve with it. The forces driving us to the End User Era aren’t going anywhere, and it’s time to adapt.

Be like Slack. Remember how Slack got adopted at your company? It all started with Jane.

She’s an end user, and she’s calling the shots these days. So yeah… be like Slack. Go get Jane.

Editor’s note: This post was first published on August 6, 2019 and was updated on July 1, 2020.

Want more product led growth news?

Follow Blake Bartlett on LinkedIn.

The post What is Product Led Growth? How to Build a Software Company in the End User Era appeared first on OpenView.

06 Aug 16:40

Crypto-Commerce: Banking on Blockchain for B2B Payments

by Linda Bustos

78% of businesses have reported attempted or actual B2B payments fraud last year (rising steadily since 2013), and international fraud has risen 136% in the last two years. While nearly half of payment fraud is linked to paper checks and manual processes, emerging digital payment methods are equally vulnerable, prompting banks and businesses to seek out faster and more transparent ways to settle transactions.

Blockchain technology is increasingly gaining traction among banks, lenders, fintechs and merchants. 35% of B2B buyers and suppliers are interested in blockchain-based payment networks and 26% believe blockchain is the “preeminent payment technology of the future.”

IDC predicts that by 2020, 25% of banks, manufacturers and retailers will leverage blockchain networks in some way, and by 2021, at least 25% of the world’s top organizations will use blockchain as a foundation for digital trust and data security. And by 2023, blockchain networks will facilitate over $60B in cross-border payments.

How blockchain for B2B payments works

Blockchain’s foundation is distributed ledger technology (DLT). Transactions are distributed, with records verified by a network of computers versus by one party or bank, and visible to all parties versus held in a central database. They’re also immutable as once recorded, they cannot be altered, reversed or tampered with.

When a buyer or seller submits payment information to the chain, a digital “block” is created and distributed to the network. Multiple computers compete to unscramble the block, and the first to successfully do so shares it with the network for verification. Verification includes confirming funds are available, sender and receiver are reputable, and the request is legitimate.

Once verified, the transaction is authorized and posted to the ledger and designated parties are updated in real time.

Blockchain benefits for B2B payments

Proactive fraud prevention

The public, distributed ledger serves as a “single source of truth” for both buyers and suppliers. While blockchain may not eliminate the need for outside verification agencies reduces settlement risk and makes it easier to track down fraudulent activities.

Prevent “false positives”

For AR and AP departments, tighter fraud controls can lead to more false positives, increasing card declines for good accounts, delays in invoice processing, and can hurt the buyer-supplier relationship. Blockchain’s network-based verification and immutable record recognizes more good transactions and fosters trust between parties.

Faster settlement

Blockchain cuts central banks out of the process, dramatically speeding up settlement. Unlike banks, which can take up to five business days for cross-border transactions, the 24/7 availability of the network supports real-time to next-day fund transfer.

Blockchain’s transparency and automation also save both suppliers and buyers the manual processes of phoning or emailing each other and updating their respective records in multiple systems.

Frictionless payments

The ability to place one-touch orders directly from equipment and sensors on the job site, within a manufacturing plant or even operating room is an emerging opportunity in B2B. The “smart contract” property of blockchain supports automated device-to-device transactions when certain conditions are met, cutting out traditional invoicing and payment processes entirely.

Integrated with payment networks and headless commerce applications, smart contracts and IoT may be the future of replenishment and other micro-transactions between B2B buyers and sellers. Pricing and payment terms are set into the smart contract, with buyer and seller notified of each transaction upon execution and pushed back to their respective systems of record.

How banks are already banking on blockchain

House crypto

Despite most large banks taking an anti-Bitcoin stance, proprietary cryptocurrencies may be the next trend. JP Morgan Chase is currently piloting JPM Coin with a small set of clients. With JPM’s wholesale payments topping $6 trillion every day (through wire transfers that take days to process and complete), JPM Coin could offer significant speed, cost and service advantages to B2B customers.

Open APIs

Visa, MasterCard and Amex are in an arms race to patent and ship new blockchain payment technologies. Their open APIs such as Visa’s B2B Connect allow fintechs and other financial institutions to build custom solutions and payment integrations on top of their respective blockchain infrastructure, including smart contracts and expedited payment settlement to enhance their B2B services.

The B2B blockchain challenge…and the future

While banks and fintechs are wasting no time embracing blockchain, the challenge for B2B merchants remains a steep barrier to entry. Skilled blockchain developers are in high demand and low supply, and running and maintaining distributed ledgers requires hefty computing power.

We can expect that, as the blockchain market matures, banks and fintechs will open their infrastructure and APIs to third-party developers, including B2B merchants. Technology vendors may also begin to integrate blockchain technologies into their commerce solutions.

06 Aug 16:35

3 Research-Backed Ways to Overcome Sales Enablement Obstacles

by mschultz@raingroup.com (Mike Schultz)

Delivering value, making the ROI case, retaining customers, growing accounts, recruiting top talent, forecasting, implementing a sales process, using sales technologies, winning against the competition, developing sales managers, coaching sales teams, generating leads, onboarding, productivity, compensation ...

There’s no shortage of challenges facing sales leaders, and it can be difficult to decide which deserve to be prioritized first.

The RAIN Group Center for Sales Research recently surveyed 423 sales, enablement, and company leaders to uncover their top challenges and priorities for the next 12 months.

After reviewing the results, we identified three sales enablement strategies to help leaders address top challenges they face and achieve their priorities.

Here’s what we found:

Top Sales Challenges

  1. Recruiting and hiring
  2. Lead quality and quantity
  3. Developing sales skills
  4. Developing sales managers

Top Sales Priorities

  1. Improve ability to communicate value
  2. Improve productivity of sellers and sales teams
  3. Increase business with existing accounts
  4. Improve customer retention, repeat business, and renewals
  5. Improve sales opportunity approach and planning
  6. Improve sellers’ ability to inspire with ideas
  7. Win more against difficult competition
  8. Improve sales manager effectiveness
  9. Drive “new logos” / new accounts won
  10. Optimize sales process
  11. Increase the average size of sales

You might be thinking, “Why do you have 11 priorities? If you have 11, you have none.” These 11 are the priorities that more than 50% of sales leaders said were “very important.”

When we first saw these results, we thought, “We can’t have 11 initiatives. So how can we look at this and still tackle the majority of them well?” Here’s what we came up with.

3 Sales Enablement Strategies to Solve Challenges and Achieve Priorities

To address these priorities while also tackling three of the four top challenges (two through four), the focus should be on three sales enablement strategies.

For those sales organizations that can execute these initiatives well, it makes the top challenge of recruiting top sales talent much less important because you’ll be getting more out of your sales force and developing your own top talent.

1. Improve sales productivity

What if we told you that the productivity of your sales team could be increased by 46%? Sounds like a pipe dream, right? Well, maybe not.

In our Extreme Productivity Benchmark Report, we found that Extremely Productive people (XP) spend 46% more time each work day on their priorities (investment activities), compared to everyone else (The Rest). Furthermore, The Rest spend on average, 4.3 hours per work day on non-value add (Mandatory and Empty) activities. That’s 4.3 hours wasted each day.

It’s no wonder that improving the productivity of sellers and sales teams is the number two priority of sales enablement leaders cited by 65% of respondents.

The opportunity is there to add 46% more time, without adding new sellers. The good news is that productivity can be learned and changed.

2. Develop multi-skilled sellers

Today’s top sellers need to be better than ever. It used to be enough to have sellers who could lead great consultative sales conversations to win the deal.

Now you need sellers who can do that and prospect, bring value to their conversations over and above the product or service you offer, know your customers’ businesses, are masterful negotiators when dealing with procurement, understand how to grow accounts, and develop executive level relationships, to name a few.

This is probably why so many of the priorities that sales leaders focus involve some kind of skill issue.

You need sellers who can succeed across the Sales Competency WheelSM (the common competencies every organization should possess to build a truly successful sales organization).

Across sales skills and knowledge needed to drive sales performance, Top Performers have significantly stronger skills.

Must each seller master every one of these skills? No. That’s unrealistic. However, they should be better than they’ve ever been. It’s not enough to be a product expert and just pitch. Your sellers should excel across many of these competencies, and your focus should be on building a sales force that covers them all.

3. Leverage sales managers

Sales managers are the ones who work most closely with your sellers, day in and day out. They motivate, coach, keep sellers focused, provide feedback, help sellers win, and keep sellers on track to achieve their goals. Or at least that’s what they’re supposed to be doing.

Sales managers hold the keys to unlocking top sales performance. Yet 66% of companies don’t believe their managers have the skills necessary to manage and coach sellers.

That’s two-thirds of companies that don’t have skilled sales managers.

This presents a huge opportunity for sales organizations willing to invest in developing their sales managers and providing them with the knowledge, skills, and tools they need to keep sellers motivated and hold them accountable, as well as manage a team that not only meets, but also exceeds sales goals.

06 Aug 16:35

How Do I Overcome My Lack of Confidence When Prospecting?

by Mark Hunter

I get asked this question a lot, and feel like it is one of the biggest reasons why salespeople are not successful and ultimately end up leaving the profession. Until you can overcome this fear, there is little chance that you will ever be successful. Your lack of confidence is quickly going to be seen by the customer and will either turn them off towards you or make them take advantage of you if they decide to buy.

Here’s a video on this topic:

 

 

Your lack of confidence stems from your unbelief in yourself and how you can help others. When you lack self-confidence, you feel that what you’re doing is intrusive and bothersome. The only way to overcome this is to stop and shift your thinking to the positive outcomes you help others achieve. Focus your thinking on all the ways that your customers have benefited from what you sell. The value you create is not in what you sell, it’s in the outcomes your customers achieve.

The second major area that destroys confidence is with those your associate. We become like those we most spend time with. It makes sense that if you associate with negative people, you will become negative. Personally, I choose to not associate with certain people because of their ongoing negativity. Instead, I intentionally seek out optimists, those people with a positive attitude and outlook on life. So, who do you need to replace in your life? It’s not harsh thinking. This is the real world, and if you want to be in the best position possible to help others, you must monitor closely those you connect with around you.

The third area to work on is setting goals you know you can achieve. Of course, we all want to set “shoot for the moon” goals but that’s a waste of time if you lack the confidence to accomplish even modest goals. I coach people to set simple goals that you know you can achieve right in the first hour of the day. It’s amazing how much confidence and momentum you gain by quickly achieving a simple goal. It sets you up to achieve the next one and and the next one. Then, with each one your confidence will increase and you’ll be more successful.

The fourth and final area to work on is take the time to thank others. Be fully aware of all that you have to be thankful for. Regardless of your situation, you have much to be thankful for. Take time each day to thank others, and take time each day to help someone else. You’ll be amazed at how much your own attitude and confidence changes when you help others and show gratitude. Confidence is not something you’re born with. Confidence is something you earn each day through your actions and how you choose to respond to things around you. The more confident you are, the more opportunities will come. Self-confidence is the foundation from which success is built.

Copyright 2019, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Result

06 Aug 16:35

Turn Pains Into Priorities

by Tibor Shanto

By Tibor Shanto

While some may argue, salespeople are people, with all the pluses and minuses that come with that. One thing about people you can count on, is they usually find what they are looking for while ignoring the rest. Tell your reps to go out and find people with the pain our product and marketing people tell them they can cure. And that’s what they’ll do, go out and find people with that pain, and ignore all other opportunities that aren’t painted “pain.”  Not much point in talking solution until there is something to be solved.  Better to learn how to turn pains into priorities.

Disqualify to Fly

Most call this process qualification, a number of perfunctory questions to establish the level of quality of the opportunities inherent in a given account. When the prospect tics enough of the boxes, their qualified. You need to change that right away and reprogram your team to disqualify. The current approach tends to set the bar somewhat low, taking away valuable time that can be spent with real prospects. Add to that reps’ propensity to look at things with rose-tinted glasses. What would never qualify the first week of a quarter, looks absolutely promising as we pass the halfway mark, and approved by their manager.

This why teaching them to disqualify may seem counter-intuitive but leads to better opportunities. Sure, the overall number of opportunities may decline, but the quality and revues will rise. So will the number of time reps can spend time developing their skills and territories when they stop chasing marginal things.

More Priorities Than Pain

renbor segmentsThere is a way you can apply this mindset of disqualifying anything but the best opportunities and still grow. Stop telling your salespeople to look for buyers with pain and fixate them on priorities instead — the buyer’s priorities, not yours or your manager’s or the company. As I have mentioned in past posts, buyers who admit they are in pain or are acting to address that pain, make up a small, the smallest segment of the market. Everyone knows this, and everyone is actively chasing the same segment. (May explain the declining number of B2B reps exceeding quota).  But there are only so many fish to shoot in the barrel. Making quota we need to engage with buyers focused on their priorities in the absence of pain. Sure you can kick them in the shin, but that won’t make them a buyer, just in pain.

Their market experience reinforces this. Every time reps speak to Status Quo buyer and start and stick with pain, they experience a firm NO, if not more. Each time their message is rejected, they take that rejection to heart and share some of the blame on product and pricing. It quickly leads them to conclude that the only sales to be made are to those with pain — the home of declining opportunities.

Two Types of Priorities Will Emerge

Teach your reps to talk about priorities. People who have immediate pain will relate in their way, but so will people with no pain or need for instant results. At the risk of stating the obvious, priorities here is not a list of features they would look for in a product like yours. It is business priorities, usually defined in the accomplishments those priorities lead to. Meaning that the issue that sells, or what the prospect is willing to engage around, needs to be business grounded, and nothing else.

There are two ways you can help your reps focus on priorities and fully capitalize on opportunities. The first is the easier to get reps to try, as it resembles the pain sale they are used to. These are short term opportunities; some are part of the regular cyclicality, others are specific to that company, regulatory events, or other common triggers. These are easy to identify, and respond to, but are not always rooted in pain or need. Getting traction with buyers around something other than pain, need, or solution should expand their “vocabulary” and courage.

In practice, your reps will the ability to pursue and engage with “pain-free prospects”.  Prospects with whom your reps lead with impacts they have been able to deliver for with similar priorities to their current prospect.  This is where they engage on desired and achieved outcomes, independent of the product. For many salespeople, this is like walking a tightrope across Niagara. Talking shop without talking shop, what’s a seller to do?

Go Living In The Past

The answer is usually in your CRM; all you need to do is look. And many do, but with the same useless filters, they use to target buyers. They go looking for which pain and feature led to their success.  Leading to the same opportunity limiting loop, pain ueber alles, while missing everything different. I never understood why people feel the need to take sides. They either review all their losses, or all their wins, not both. Or all pipeline opportunities. When they do the review, it is usually a journey of validation, not learning or discovery.

You should be reviewing all opportunities that cross the starting line of your pipeline. Win, lose, or no-decision. No decisions being crucial, especially given the cost to not only sellers but buyers.  As mentioned in the past, we like to use the 360 Degree Deal Review. This allows our clients to see why things are truly turning out the way they are. More importantly, done right, MM, it can serve as a source of unique talking points with prospects.

Knowing how you have helped companies achieve specific goals is a start. Knowing what they were able to achieve with your product as the hidden enabler, not the front and centre feature.  Subject matter experts can talk about the subject. Product jockeys are left to ride those features in a race of business priorities.

Leaders can help their teams ignore the common and easy and focus on what counts. What counts for your buyers are their priorities, stop leading with your pain. Instead, lead with the success others would attribute to you, not a feature or spec they can buy cheaper elsewhere.


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The post Turn Pains Into Priorities appeared first on TiborShanto.com.

06 Aug 16:35

Marketing And Sales Need to Rally Around A Single Story

by kniemisto

It seems that for decades, experts have been telling us to tear down the wall between sales and marketing. “Okay! We say yes! Love it! Let’s do that.” But how?

While the general concept of having a united messaging force makes a ton of sense, the precise method of how to align sales and marketing teams is underdeveloped. In a survey from JointheDots and LinkedIn, a majority of the 7,000 respondents—largely salespeople and marketers—said that misalignment between the two departments leads to poor financial performance, an unsatisfactory customer experience, and lower customer retention. A majority of those respondents, however, agreed that cross-team collaboration is crucial and leads to greater benefits. We’ve obviously got a long way to go.

Part of the problem is that marketing and sales teams have been raised on their own individual sets of metrics and goals. Marketing is measured on generating demand, and sales is responsible for conversion. But somewhere along the way, collaboration between the two departments became more of a challenge.

If these teams are going to work together as they should, it will be important for both to speak the same language and share the same goals, working together as they go.

Salespeople Are The Next Great Storytellers

Sometimes, by the time a brand story gets from the marketing department to sales teams, it’s notably different than how it started. While salespeople are trusted to know and communicate the narratives marketing creates, they often struggle to share them confidently with the customer because they tend to get less clear as they travel through the company.

A study by Stanford University found that when listening to speeches containing facts and stories, only 5% of students remembered the facts, while 63% remembered the story. Salespeople who can craft their facts into stories will be much more successful because stories are more relatable and more believable.

Marketers use narratives to draw customers’ attention to details they’ll relate to—problems they have, ideas they trust, and things they want. This creates interest, trust, and eventually belief. The best part about this truth, though, is that it doesn’t just apply to customers. If marketers can also move their sales comrades past knowledge and help them truly believe in the message they’re sharing, they can tell stories in a compelling way, which will empower sales to spur the customer on to purchase and loyalty.

Marketers Should Stay Involved In The Process

Marketers live and breathe the story of a brand or product, but they often struggle with it getting diluted as it moves away from them and through the sales funnel. We hear about this challenge again and again, but marketers get so used to it that they understandably give up trying to address it.

But giving up isn’t the answer. Marketers have the power to make a unified team a reality by sticking with the story and following it from inception to execution, even after it leaves their desks. “Hold the story longer” should be the new marketing mantra.

Picture it as if teams were writing a book. Marketers and salespeople each have their chapter to contribute, but if they’re not telling a single story, the book will stutter and confuse readers rather than engage and inspire them. As keepers of the story, marketers have a responsibility to guide it from the first chapter to the final page.

It’s Everyone’s Job To Keep The Story Straight

Mixed motives and messages can make sales and marketing teams feel distant from each other. According to research from the “2018 B2B Marketing-Sales Alignment Benchmark,”  salespeople and marketers have a lack of belief in each other. Only 43% of sellers and 32% of marketers believe their teams are using marketing messages to their full potential.

Holding the story longer can bring everyone involved closer together. If marketing teams are part of the process for longer, they will help sales teams feel more comfortable with the story and improve their confidence in retelling it. Doing this also gives marketers more control over the message that they’ve worked so hard to craft.

Follow these tips to tell a single story:

Talk To Your Teams

Remember that you’re not going it alone as a marketing department. Talk to front-line employees to see what they think of the messages you’re promoting. Understanding their point of view will let you know where the weak spots might be or where you need to provide support, which will ultimately strengthen your message across the board.

Make Connections Internally Before Connecting With Customers

On that note, make sure you don’t just expect sales to tell the story perfectly without help. It’s important that you translate messages for sales teams so the messaging means something to them. If your front-line employees can connect with the story, it’ll be that much more powerful when they help customers connect to it, too.

Take Time

Make sure you’re willing to put in the time your sales teams deserve. If you want them to be engaging storytellers, spend some time helping them understand the narrative so they don’t feel like they’re out-of-the-know or rushed. It will also allow them to take the story and adapt if for their style and voice. That ensures they will deliver the story in a convincing way.

Ultimately, the heart of the idea is to tell a single, consistent story to customers. When you take the time to tell this story to your front-line teams first, you let them connect with it before they have to share it with customers confidently and passionately. If all departments work together, a powerful story can be shared with every listener.

The post Marketing And Sales Need to Rally Around A Single Story appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

06 Aug 16:34

Meet the 30 young leaders who are transforming the future of healthcare and disrupting a $3.5 trillion industry

by Lydia Ramsey, Emma Court and Erin Brodwin

30 leaders in healthcare_2x1

  • Business Insider has selected the 30 leaders under 40 who are working to transform US healthcare.
  • The list includes scientists, doctors, and entrepreneurs fighting to make US healthcare better for everyone.
  • Among the honorees are a physicist tackling cancer, a lawyer who guides startups, and a pharmacist changing how patients are cared for.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Healthcare in the US costs more than anywhere else in the world.

For our money, we do get cutting-edge drugs and medical tech. But Americans still die younger than people in other wealthy countries, and healthcare remains out of reach for many.

Meet the people fighting to make the $3.5 trillion US healthcare system better for everyone. They're looking to big data to fight diseases, bringing care to more people in innovative ways, and using new technologies to develop cures.

For that work, they've been named to Business Insider's list of the 30 leaders under 40 who are working to transform US healthcare.

As we selected the list, we were looking for doctors, scientists, executives, and entrepreneurs who are dedicating themselves to improving the way we take care of patients and keeping people healthy.

The 30 people below were selected from hundreds of nominations, based on their potential to improve healthcare. The list is arranged alphabetically.

Read on to meet the top young leaders transforming the future of healthcare.

Blythe Adamson, 34, is using data from cancer-technology company Flatiron to do health research 50 times as fast.

Blythe Adamson moved her family from Seattle to New York for the information that health-tech company Flatiron Health has.

"I dragged my kids across the country so I could get access to this data," Adamson, now a senior quantitative scientist at Flatiron, said.

In her role, Adamson works with universities to mine Flatiron's data, using it to advance projects with researchers. Adamson started her career as a researcher, first in HIV-vaccine development and later in health economics, most recently at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

What excited her was the potential of the information Flatiron had on hand. For instance, Adamson was the lead author on a study that explored how the Affordable Care Act affected access to cancer care, finding that in states that broadened access to Medicaid, the disparity between white and black cancer patients was virtually erased. Adamson started the work as part of a Flatiron hackathon.

The idea came from attending a conference in 2018 and seeing work evaluating the effects of the ACA. Adamson noticed that most researchers had access to data only from 2014, too soon after the law went into effect for any clear signals. In contrast, she used data from as recently as this February for the study presented in June.

"What used to take me two to three years now takes two to three weeks," Adamson said.

—Lydia Ramsey



Gil Addo, 33, and Carlos Reines, 34, want to make it easier for everyone to get healthcare.

Gil Addo and Carlos Reines founded RubiconMD in 2013 to make it easier for people to get expert advice on their healthcare from medical specialists.

With the US facing a shortage of doctors as the population ages, it's critical to find new ways of spreading medical expertise. The founders say the platform can be helpful in rural areas where there aren't many doctors, and for low-income people too.

RubiconMD lets an individual's primary-care doctor consult with specialists for help treating complicated or unusual conditions (say an endocrinologist for diabetes or a cardiologist for heart trouble). In many cases, it can replace costly visits and save people months of waiting to get an appointment.

About half the business is linked to the Medicaid health program for people with low incomes, and RubiconMD is catching on in health plans that serve the elderly as well. Typically, health insurers or health systems purchase a subscription to RubiconMD; the service isn't designed for individuals.

RubiconMD has published some data showing that its service can help people avoid specialist visits and help doctors take better care of patients. A more limited analysis suggests it can save money.

The platform is available in 36 states, and Reines and Addo say they plan to keep growing. They're even getting inquiries from other countries, they said.

—Zachary Tracer



Iyah Romm, 35, and Toyin Ajayi, 38, are using teamwork to take care of patients.

Iyah Romm and Toyin Ajayi tried to change the healthcare system from within, before realizing they could have a greater influence from without.

So two years ago, after long stints at established health plans and state health departments, the pair started Cityblock Health, a spinout from Google parent company Alphabet. Their vision is a model of care that emphasizes preventive health and seeks to treat people in need with respect, recognition, and empathy.

"We think there's an imperative to deliver a modern experience of healthcare that delivers to underserved populations," Ajayi told Business Insider. "And there's a business case there as well."

With Cityblock, there's no single physician calling the shots for a patient. Instead, the company uses a team-based approach to healthcare that unites primary-care providers, specialists, and social workers.

The teams meet patients in their communities and come up with personalized plans to get their health on track. Rather than focusing exclusively on later-stage treatments like medications, the teams also consider preventive variables like patients' diets and sources of emotional support.

Romm and Ajayi's goal? "Totally changing the landscape for what healthcare looks like for underserved populations," Romm said.

—Erin Brodwin



Allison Baker, 29, is prescribing food as medicine at Kroger grocery stores and asking health insurers to pay for it.

As a high schooler, Allison Baker's love of food led to hosting dinner parties for friends. After graduating, she decided to pursue a career at a culinary institute that had an emphasis on food innovation.

While studying nutrition, she shifted her focus to the field of dietetics. She started working at hospitals, but then, while earning her master's, she learned about retail nutrition.

Baker is now the director of nutrition at Kroger, where she oversees a team of dieticians and works with Kroger Health president Colleen Lindholz on the health strategy for the biggest grocery chain in the US, including pharmacy, clinics, and nutrition.

When Baker first joined Kroger, her job was to help coordinate the dietitians working across the organization. There are a lot of ways dieticians work across Kroger's 2,800 grocery stores, by providing food samples, teaching healthy recipes, and consulting with patients.

More recently, Baker's been working to find ways to use the expertise of the dieticians. Kroger's goal is to decrease the number of prescriptions dispensed in favor of promoting healthier lifestyles and food choices to grocery and pharmacy customers.

Kroger is also looking to get paid by insurers. Health insurers already pay for dietician services, such as coaching. Baker wants to get them to pay for a "food benefit," in the same way they cover a procedure or a pill. The hope is to have insurers pay for a box of healthy food to be shipped to a member's house.

—Lydia Ramsey



Ambar Bhattacharyya, 36, wants to help more people get affordable care.

Ambar Bhattacharyya might be sick at the sight of blood, but that hasn't stopped the 36-year-old from shaping the way millions of Americans get healthcare.

Bhattacharyya was the eighth employee at MinuteClinic, an urgent-care startup that was acquired by CVS in 2006, and led the chain's national expansion. Now he manages the healthcare investing arm of Maverick Ventures, a Silicon Valley VC that oversees $400 million.

Bhattacharyya spent his childhood helping manage his father's neurology practice, first in rural Virginia, then in rural California. Many of his father's patients had low incomes. Sometimes they paid him in fruit.

So Bhattacharyya knew from the beginning he wanted to help make the system more affordable. He saw people struggling to get care, which led him to believe that healthcare should be more accessible too.

Today, he says the best way to achieve both goals is to think about healthcare from the perspective of the consumer first. For example, MinuteClinic thrived when it extended its hours to be open for working parents at times when traditional doctor's offices were closed.

"It's one of those things where it was, like, grocery stores don't close at 5 p.m.," Bhattacharyya told Business Insider. "Why should healthcare be like this?"

—Erin Brodwin



Daniel Brillman, 35, is bridging the gap between healthcare and social services.

In 2010, Dan Brillman, a US Air Force Reserve pilot, decided to go to Columbia Business School after his first deployment to the Middle East. During his second year, veterans with whom he was deployed called to ask about health and social services. After some inquiries and searching, Brillman found the healthcare system complicated to navigate.

"I became very frustrated because it was so fragmented and I had to sift through the system on behalf of the people I was trying to help," Brillman told Business Insider.

He wrote a paper on his experience, which was noticed by the dean, who connected Brillman with Brad Harrison, the head of Scout Ventures, who encouraged the business idea.

In 2013, Brillman cofounded Unite Us, a platform that helps connect healthcare providers and hospitals to social-service providers like food banks and homeless shelters. The platform tracks the health outcomes of those they serve.

Unite Us works in 55 communities in 23 states. By the end of the year, over 10,000 healthcare, government, and social-service organizations will be included in its networks. The company recently struck a big partnership with CVS Health to aid some of its insurance customers.

—Clarrie Feinstein



Alexandra Broadus, 35, is changing the way Walgreens pharmacists practice in their communities.

Alexandra Broadus, 35, has been working at Walgreens for almost 19 years, starting as a pharmacy technician while still in high school. She'd planned to study journalism in college, but after working in the pharmacy pursued pharmacy school instead.

She started on a local level working to build out programs with health systems and health plans, until a job opened up in Chicago, where Broadus grew up. She was enticed by the promise that she'd get to change the way pharmacy is practiced.

The idea is simple: Pharmacists frequently tend to see patients living with chronic conditions such as diabetes. Right now, pharmacists are paid based on the prescriptions they're dispensed. But if you could pay the pharmacists to intervene, it could help keep patients healthier. Broadus is working toward that for Walgreens' 9,560 pharmacies.

"My goal is, how do I give our pharmacists the tools and resources that they need to practice at the top of their license and do so easily in a way that patients can quickly get the care that they need when they're coming to visit the pharmacy," Broadus said.

For instance, say a pharmacist notices that a patient with diabetes isn't taking a cholesterol drug but should. If the pharmacist suggests that change and the doctor agrees, can the pharmacist get paid by a health plan for that work? That's a big area she's been working on in her first 10 months on the job.

—Lydia Ramsey



For Emily Drabant Conley, 37, changing the healthcare system through genetics is a personal mission

A passion for genetics seized Emily Drabant Conley during her first job out of college. Working at the National Institutes of Health, which she describes as "Disneyland for research," Conley, who studied psychology and business in college, became fascinated by the role genetics might play in people's brains and diseases such as anxiety and depression.

Conley went on to get a doctorate in neuroscience at Stanford before venturing into the business world, snagging a job at a new startup with 30 employees called 23andMe

"The cool thing about a company that small is you kind of get to do anything," she said.

Conley had been hired to run research, and it was through vetting external research inquiries that she got involved in 23andMe's business development.

The role was a perfect fit for Conley, who had always been interested in business, science, and people. She worked to ink partnerships with drug companies like Genentech, Pfizer, and, last year, GlaxoSmithKline, while helping fundraise, including a $250 million round for 23andMe in 2017.

The partnerships give drug companies access to 23andMe data with personal information removed to find new targets for their drugs. "I felt like this was exactly what I was meant to do," said Conley, who's now 23andMe's vice president of business development.

—Emma Court



Paul Coyne, 33, is using his experience as a patient and provider to change healthcare for the better.

A heart condition from childhood meant that Paul Coyne got more exposure to the healthcare system at a young age than most. Then, at 22, on the weekend before he graduated from college, Coyne had a stroke.

The experience took years to recover from and would spur Coyne to go back to school, earning a number of degrees, including in nursing and business. To change the healthcare industry, stepping outside of the "little boxes" that it puts people into is crucial, he said.

Today, the 33-year-old's career spans healthcare, business, and technology. He's a nurse practitioner who leads a team of 60 at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, while overseeing the hospital's data-science efforts around nursing.

Coyne also cofounded and serves as president of health-tech startup Inspiren, which puts medical practitioners and technologists into the same room to "meet the true clinical needs of the everyday provider."

Ultimately, Coyne says his career and motivations in healthcare go back to his experiences being sick and living with a chronic disease.

"Walking around the hospital, I always picture myself in the bed," he says. "Most technology I've invented is always from the perspective of me as a patient."

—Emma Court



Joshua DeFonzo, 38, is overseeing strategy at J&J’s $3.4 billion surgical-robot startup.

Joshua DeFonzo said he got lucky with his first job in healthcare. Straight out of college, he took a job as a sales representative for the medical-device company Medtronic, which launched him into the medical-technology industry. "I realize now I was very fortunate to get that job," DeFonzo said.

Since then DeFonzo's worked for companies like NuVasive, Confluent Surgical, and NeuroLogica, commercializing the companies' technologies. In 2015, he became chief commercial officer for CareDx, a company that uses genomics and other technologies to help organ-transplant patients.

That same year he was hired as an independent contractor at Auris Health, a health-tech company that makes a controller-operated robotic camera, helping doctors see inside the body. The hope is to use the device to do surgery, too. He became vice president of clinical innovation in 2016 and then chief strategy officer in 2018.

DeFonzo said he was drawn to Auris because of the potential of the company's technology. "It's the future of healthcare," DeFonzo said.

In April, Auris was acquired by Johnson & Johnson for $3.4 billion. Once the deal closed, DeFonzo was made chief operating officer, overseeing Auris' integration with the giant healthcare company.

—Clarrie Feinstein



Sean Duffy, 35, is providing care digitally for diabetes and depression.

Sean Duffy is the cofounder and CEO of Omada Health, a startup that lets people access healthcare virtually. Designed for people with diabetes and other obesity-related conditions, Omada recently began expanding to help treat mental-health conditions too.

The son of an engineer and a nurse, Duffy, who is 35, planned to work in either tech or medicine. But the decision was made for him, he says.

While pursuing a joint MD-MBA program at Harvard, Duffy got the chance to team up with Adrian James, Omada's cofounder and, at the time, the medical-products lead at the global design firm Ideo. Together, the pair got to work on a startup designed to bridge tech and healthcare.

Eventually, that company became Omada. Duffy never looked back. "I started waking up imagining a world where something like Omada existed," Duffy told Business Insider. "It was obligatory, in my view, to run with it."

Duffy sees Omada becoming what he calls "the healthcare provider of tomorrow," where the majority of care is delivered remotely through a combination of video, text, and peer support. That flips the current model — where the first line of treatment usually involves a trip to the doctor — on its head. "I believe about 80% of care can be done digitally," Duffy added.

—Erin Brodwin



Chris Esguerra, 39, is redefining what healthcare means to get patients care for conditions that have been overlooked for too long.

Chris Esguerra learned the power of a supportive community at age 7. He and his family were newly arrived immigrants in California, but "it didn't feel like it was hard because we were always part of a community, always embraced," he said.

Esguerra, 39, brings that experience and his background as a psychiatrist to his role as senior medical director of Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan, where his team focuses on members covered by the government programs Medicare and Medicaid.

Because those individuals often have health conditions and need different kinds of social support, Esguerra sees his job as redrawing the lines of traditional healthcare, so it encompasses things like helping people who struggle to get reliable access to food.

That includes treating patients for diabetes alongside food insecurity, by creating a "social needs care specialist" that doctors at his health plan's two primary care clinics could refer their patients to when they didn't have enough to eat.

"We're redefining what health really means, and in that we're saying that health isn't always about when you're sick, health is about all of the other aspects in your life that affect you," like food insecurity and healthcare disparities, he says.

Esguerra says it's the right thing to do, but he also makes a business case for it. Creating the "social needs care specialist" saved Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan $4 million in hospitalizations last year alone.

—Emma Court



Mariya Filipova, 35, is using her firsthand experience with healthcare to better shape where it’s heading.

Mariya Filipova began her career in finance, working at Barclays in London through the financial crisis.

The crisis taught her how to navigate complex situations when things go wrong. And it showed her the importance of leaders who could evaluate a situation from different perspectives.

Healthcare, from where she sits, is a heavily regulated industry that's headed for a massive transition as well, and stands to benefit from leaders with those skills, she said.

"I personally am on a mission to help leaders and people who have been in healthcare for decades, doing things in the business-as-usual mindset, see things that could be done differently," Filipova said.

About 18 months ago, Filipova's life took an unexpected turn when she was diagnosed with a kidney tumor. "I learned more about healthcare in my experience in 18 months as a patient than my entire decade as an adviser," Filipova said.

When Filipova was ready to go back to work, she made the move over to Anthem, where she joined as the vice president of innovation. She made the decision in part because Gail Boudreaux had recently stepped in as CEO and was building a digital strategy.

On the innovation team, she helps look for new investments. Her team also helps other parts of the organization with digital projects, such as predicting if a member might call about a problem and proactively reaching out instead. They also collaborate with other organizations to pin down how the healthcare industry can use new technologies like blockchain.

—Lydia Ramsey



Hadiyah-Nicole Green, 38, is using physics to fight cancer and create an alternative to chemotherapy.

Hadiyah-Nicole Green, a physicist whose research focuses on fighting cancer, says she got interested in combating the disease because of her personal experience.

The day after Green graduated from Alabama A&M University, her aunt who raised her told her she had cancer and that she didn't want to undergo treatment.

"She chose to die, rather than experience the side effects of chemotherapy," Green told Business Insider.

Three months after her aunt passed away, her uncle was diagnosed with cancer. As he was treated, Green saw her uncle experience the side effects of chemotherapy. Seeing her aunt and uncle struggle with cancer became a turning point.

"I wanted to change the way we treat cancer, and that became my mission in life," she said.

After finishing her doctorate in physics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2016, she founded the Ora Lee Smith Cancer Research Foundation, named after her aunt.

Green is now an assistant professor at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. She's working on a cancer treatment that uses lasers and nanotechnology to fight the disease. So far, it's been tested only in mice, but the early results are promising, Green said. She plans to use funds raised by the foundation to get the treatment into trials in people.

—Clarrie Feinstein



Kristen Park Hopson, 39, is building personalized treatments that could revolutionize medicines for cancer and other diseases.

When Kristen Park Hopson graduated from college, she was just starting to realize a growing interest in science research. So she did what a lot of people do but don't always admit: Hopson "shamelessly" moved back into her parents' basement in Vermont to work as a research associate at University of Vermont's medical school.

Today Hopson, who holds a doctorate in molecular medicine from Boston University School of Medicine, directs key cancer research at the fast-growing buzzy biotech Moderna.

The 39-year-old leads research projects, including on the company's signature personalized cancer vaccines, which are custom-built for each patient in an effort to fight off the disease better. Its two furthest-along cancer vaccine products are in relatively early on in development, or early and mid-stage trials, respectively.

The work "is really transforming not only the way you think about treating a patient but also the way you think about making medicines," she says. "The possibilities could be endless."

—Emma Court



Shrenik Jain, 23, and Ravi Shah, 28, created a social network to help people with addiction.

Shrenik Jain and Ravi Shah are tackling one of the most neglected areas of healthcare: substance use. Their platform, called Marigold Health, is designed to help people with addiction recover by connecting them to a network of peers.

Jain, 23, got the idea for Marigold after spending two years working as a Baltimore EMT and regularly reviving people who'd overdosed on opioids. His cofounder, Shah, 27, watched a close friend who had depression. Both quickly realized that the people they were trying to help lacked the social support needed to stabilize them. "For interventions to work, you need very continuous care," Jain told Business Insider.

So to provide that kind of regular support, Jain and his cofounder, Shah, created a text-based platform that allows people with addiction to tap into a social network tailored to their needs. The goal is to engage people and give them tools to motivate one another.

Marigold recently received an undisclosed amount of funding from the influential Silicon Valley health venture fund Rock Health. Other backers include Rough Draft Ventures of General Catalyst, the Cambridge-based VC that's funded successful startups like Jet, Snap Inc., and Kayak, as well as the tech venture arm of Johns Hopkins University.

—Erin Brodwin



Christos Kyratsous, 38, is figuring out how to tackle infectious diseases while also putting microbes to use in tough-to-treat conditions

Christos Kyrastous studied pharmacy before heading to New York to study microbiology at Columbia. He joined the Tarrytown, New York, drugmaker Regenron after working as a researcher at New York University.

"I always liked basic biology, but I always had this idea of applying the knowledge that we get from human biology to help human health," Kyratsous said.  Eight years in, he's now the vice president of research for infectious diseases and viral vector technologies, a job that has two parts.

First, he oversees the development of drugs to treat diseases such as Ebola. He's also helping develop new technologies for treatments like gene therapy, in which a virus delivers information to help the body produce something it wasn't making otherwise.

To start, Regeneron is working with companies like gene-editing biotech Intellia Therapeutics and hearing-loss biotech Decibel Therapeutics to develop treatments as well as working with companies trying to infect cancer tumors with viruses that fight cancer, known as oncolytic viruses.

—Lydia Ramsey



Kimber Lockhart, 33, is building a healthcare guide for every patient.

As the chief technology officer of primary-care operator One Medical, Kimber Lockhart is working on a suite of tools designed to improve the patient experience, from the time someone reaches out about a health symptom to the time they check out of the doctor's office.

Today, there's an unfair burden on patients to be their own health experts and advocates, Lockhart says. That means that patients can end up talking to the wrong type of clinician or wasting time or money on unnecessary visits or treatments. Lockhart, 32, aims for One Medical to solve that problem by providing the support that patients need.

"Oftentimes we leave patients to fend for themselves, whether it's deciding to get primary care or virtual care or specialty care," Lockhart told Business Insider.

"Wouldn't it be great if everyone had a guide to be able to say, 'Hey, is this the kind of thing I can video-chat with someone about? Or should I come in and see someone? Or do I need a specialist?'"

She sees One Medical's app and much of its software as that guide.

"We do as much as we can to shoulder the burden with patients," Lockhart said.

—Erin Brodwin



Aziz Nazha, 35, is using AI to move healthcare into the 21st century and take better care of patients.

Aziz Nazha always loved computers. But when he took a national exam for universities in Syria, where he grew up, Nazha qualified for the most competitive option instead: medical school.

After medical school, Nazha came to the US to do research and his residency. Today, the 35-year-old physician melds the two interests as director of the Cleveland Clinic Center of Clinical Artificial Intelligence, where he hopes to use the technology to change how doctors think about medicine.

"Computer scientists and statisticians don't speak physicians' languages and vice versa," Nazha told Business Insider, a gap that he also sees as an opportunity to bridge. "It's very hard, by the way. You go and get a lot of resistance from old guys who don't get this technology."

Even creating the center, announced in March, wasn't easy. It took about a year of convincing the institution. Nazha has also worked to create a new coding course for Cleveland Clinic's medical school, something intended to be a model for medical schools struggling to add AI to their curriculums.

As a physician, Nazha has been frustrated by the trial-and-error process to treating cancer with chemotherapy, since there's no way to know which patients will respond best to which treatment option. AI technology could start changing that, he said.

"I always tell people that AI is a tool, and what I use it for is to solve a problem," Nazha said.

—Emma Court



Vinay Prasad, 36, is the Twitter firebrand pushing back on Big Pharma and standing up for patients.

Vinay Prasad is speaking and tweeting truth to power. The 36-year-old hematologist-oncologist, cancer researcher, and associate professor of medicine at Oregon Health and Science University wants more of the treatments that doctors offer to help patients in the ways they care about.

A big part of that means combating the hype around new cancer drugs, which are often praised as game changers but are instead typically "marginal at best" in terms of benefit to patients, he said. And Prasad isn't afraid to make a few enemies.

The oncologist says drugs need to be evaluated from the frame of what they do for patients, something a shift to new kinds of research measurements intended to expedite drug development has neglected.

For everything from how cancer drugs are approved to the way treatments are priced, "a misconception is that we are doing the best job we can," he says. "There's tremendous room for improvement."

—Emma Court



Angela Profeta, 37, is working to change how we think about urgent care.

Early in Angela Profeta's career, she worked at nonprofit in Nicaragua, where she saw firsthand what happens when people don't get adequate healthcare. Upon her return to New York, she pursued a master's in health policy, and she's just finished working on her doctorate in health policy and economics at New York University. She decided to focus on the issue of healthcare access in the US, rather than internationally.

"Healthcare access is an issue everywhere, and its connection to poverty in connection to the financial lives of people is a problem everywhere," Profeta said.

At the same time, Profeta worked as a consultant, working with healthcare companies including urgent-care firm CityMD. At the time it had only a few locations. What drew her to CityMD was that it was helping New Yorkers get healthcare.

At CityMD she's the chief strategy officer, a role that entails working with health plans and providers, getting them to work with the urgent care operator in ways they haven't in the past. For instance, she's worked with health systems to keep some of CityMD's centers open later, taking the burden off nearby emergency rooms.

CityMD recently announced that it's combining with Summit Medical Group, a New Jersey doctor group. Profeta plans to be the chief strategy officer of the combined company.

—Lydia Ramsey



Andrew Schutzbank, 37, is improving patient care with new medical record technologies.

In the second year of his internal-medicine training at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Andrew Schutzbank met Rushika Fernandopulle, the CEO of Iora Health. Initially scheduled as a 10-minute meeting, the two talked for an hour and a half about a new way of providing primary care.

After finishing his residency, Schutzbank was hired by Fernandopulle to be an assistant medical director. Now Schutzbank has a bigger role at Iora, overseeing growth, managing teams across eight states and implementing new technologies to deliver better patient care.

"Our goal is to take excellent care of patients and change healthcare while doing it," Schutzbank told Business Insider.

Iora is a primary-care practice trying to improve healthcare by offering longer doctor's visits, follow-up calls, and more hands-on care. Iora works with "sponsors," mainly employers or Medicare Advantage health plans for the elderly, to cover the cost.

To aid Iora's mission, Schutzbank has overseen the integration of Chirp, the organization's own electronic health-record system. The system is designed to accomplish everything necessary for individual patients within one workflow so that physicians and care teams have better quality time with their patients.

"In medicine, it's been transaction style over relationships," Schutzbank said. "For 10 years we've tried to make a business model to put patients' needs first and minimize transactions."

—Clarrie Feinstein



Emily Silgard, 36, is using data science to improve cancer treatment.

Every day Emily Silgard, a data-science manager and team lead at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, walks by the wards of the patients she's trying to help. Silgard is using advanced techniques to help doctors and researchers at Fred Hutch come up with new approaches to treating cancer.

"Research studies take years and years to complete, so it feels very hopeless when an illness can only take months to progress," Silgard told Business Insider. "There's a very real reminder every day that we need to move much, much faster."

Having worked the past seven years at Fred Hutch in Seattle, Silgard has made strides in the data-science field. She uses natural-language processing (computers dealing with human language) to advance oncology research by accessing clinical data from medical records more quickly.

Silgard and her team also collaborated with faculty to develop predictive models to assist in preventive care. And she was the lead developer on a project using natural-language processing to search lung cancer patients' records for treatable mutations.

"We're using machine learning and automation to help speed up the loop between bench and bedside," Silgard said, "to help ascertain how we can improve patients' quality of life, and generally how we can enable our researchers to find cures."

—Clarrie Feinstein



Ariane Tschumi, 35, helps healthcare startups stay on the right side of the law.

Healthcare is one of the most highly regulated industries in the US. That means it can be easy for disruptive startups to find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Ariane Tschumi's job is to keep them out of trouble.

Tschumi is the general counsel at Galileo, a startup that's working to make it easier for people to get access to healthcare. "I don't see myself as a lawyer, as a 'no' person. It's a 'how do we get there' — it's a 'yes and,'" she said. "It is ultimately about calibrating risk for a company."

Tschumi previously worked with startups like Oscar Health and Cityblock Health. She has undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard and worked on healthcare-innovation policy as a presidential management fellow in the Obama administration.

Tschumi said she got interested in healthcare while working in Aceh, Indonesia, to help people recover from the 2004 tsunami. Ultimately, she decided that to help transform healthcare she needed a better understanding of the laws and regulations that shape it.

"My background as a lawyer comes from an interest in the policy and regulatory world and very much that systems-change perspective," she said. "How do we change the law to promote more innovative healthcare models, and separately, how do we operate within those innovative contexts."

—Zachary Tracer



Sara Vaezy, 36, is mapping out the digital future of the hospital.

Sara Vaezy came to Providence St. Joseph Health by accident. Vaezy, who has a background in healthcare administration and policy, had been working as a hospital consultant.

Along the way she had asked her team to prepare a case study on Providence, the West Coast-based health system that runs 51 hospitals and made $24 billion in 2018.

She had learned that Aaron Martin, a former Amazon executive, had joined the organization as its chief digital officer. Martin called her, and their initial conversation lasted two and a half hours. Vaezy, who hadn't spent much time working with folks with technology backgrounds, was surprised by Martin's energy.

"It was unusual in his steadfastness, in 'It's going to be super difficult, we're trying to do 40 years of work within 10 years, and that is very exciting rather than deterring,'" Vaezy recalled of his mindset. In two months, Vaezy had moved to Seattle to join the organization. "I caught the bug," she said.

Three and a half years in, Vaezy is chief digital strategy officer for Providence, working to figure out the strategy that will ideally make care accessible and affordable. For instance, Providence is working on spinning out a same-day-care platform called ExpressCare aimed at helping patients book appointments, as well as formalizing an internal incubator.

—Lydia Ramsey



Sara Wajnberg, 36, is betting a better user experience could improve our relationship with health insurers.

Sara Wajnberg, now the chief product officer at health-insurance startup Oscar Health, joined the company in its early days six years ago.

Wajnberg had a background working in product but hadn't worked in healthcare. Her sister was leading the product team at another company backed by Josh Kushner's Thrive Capital and introduced her to the team. "I was pretty much sold immediately," Wajnberg said.

Wajnberg oversees the technology Oscar uses from the app that members use to the technology the company uses to process insurance claims. Oscar offers health-insurance plans on the individual exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act, plans to small businesses, and, in 2020, Medicare Advantage plans.

Along the way, she and the team realized that there would be a lot they'd have to build themselves, rather than relying on other software services to do it for them. She also helped oversee the development of Oscar's concierge service, which connects members to a team of healthcare professionals that help members navigate benefits and questions about their health.

—Lydia Ramsey



Ben Wanamaker, 37, finds ways to make Aetna members healthier with the help of technology.

Starting out, Ben Wanamaker hadn't expected to get into healthcare. He had a background in finance and worked in consulting before joining a medical-device company. Then he went to work with a Harvard professor, Clayton Christensen, at his think tank, which got him thinking about the roles consumers and corporations play in healthcare.

The way he saw it, "They don't need to be at odds," Wanamaker said. His work led him to Walmart, working on its Care Clinics, where customers could get primary-care services. Wanamaker then headed to one of the largest health insurers in the US, Aetna, where he's now the head of consumer technology and services. (Aetna in 2018 was acquired by CVS Health.)

Wanamaker's job is to figure out how to get Aetna members healthier with the help of programs like one the insurer has with Apple called Attain. The program is a bet that an app and a smartwatch can make you healthier. Two months in, Wanamaker said, people are using the Attain program at a higher rate than he had expected, though it's still too early to get results.

—Lydia Ramsey



Kaja Wasik, 35, is studying the complex interplay between medications and our DNA.

Kaja Wasik has been defying institutional barriers since she was a teenager. Born and raised in Poland, Wasik didn't get a computer until she was 14. And she says she didn't realize how powerful it could be until she moved to the US at 25.

Today, as cofounder and chief science officer of a startup called Variant Bio, Wasik, now 35, is working to develop drugs by studying people with diverse genomes.

The idea came to Wasik after she noticed that people in dozens of countries in the Pacific Islands and Africa were being largely left out of genetics research. "If you don't have European ancestry," Wasik told Business Insider, "you just can't get the same quality of health information." That's particularly relevant when it comes to drugs. White Europeans make up roughly 78% of genetic databases. Wasik hopes to change that.

In the next decade, she hopes to create a pipeline of new drugs based on this research in genetically underrepresented populations and also in populations with unusual medically relevant traits. While the work will focus on underrepresented groups, it'll have benefits for everyone as we learn more about the complex interplay between medications and our DNA.

"These discoveries won't be applicable only to those diverse individuals but to everyone," she said.

—Erin Brodwin
 
This slide has been updated to clarify when Wasik first got a computer.



Jonathon Whitton, 36, is working to halt hearing loss with gene therapy.

Jonathon Whitton saw firsthand how his grandfather withdrew from the family as his hearing deteriorated. "Within our family, I watched him disconnect," Whitton said.

For Whitton, the ability to communicate is a profound means for people to connect. This belief led him to train to be an audiologist at the University of Louisville and to work as a pediatric audiologist. In 2010, he started his doctorate in the health, science, and technology program at MIT, focusing his research on developing therapeutics for hearing.

As he was finishing the program in 2016, Whitton was approached by Decibel Therapeutics and hired to work on therapies for hearing loss. "It was the right time and the right place, with people from the inner-ear biology world and the drug development world coming together," he said.

Before becoming the director of clinical development last year, he was the associate director of drug discovery. At Decibel, Whitton has worked on developing drugs and on clinical trials for the company's hearing treatments.

Two treatments he's working on are being tested in early-stage trials in people. One is designed to protect hearing in people receiving cancer treatments that can harm their ears. Another is a drug to prevent people's hearing from being harmed by certain antibiotics.

—Clarrie Feinstein



Gerren Wilson, 38, is fighting to bring communities of color into pharmaceutical company research and ensure that drugs of the future are inclusive.

Gerren Wilson became interested in a career in healthcare early on. While growing up in a big family in St. Louis, Missouri, Wilson would hear relatives talk about their health issues and medicines they were taking. In college at Morehouse, in Atlanta, Wilson observed that "even within black men there was a lot of diversity in backgrounds, experiences, and beliefs."

The 38-year-old brings those experiences to bear at the pharmaceutical company Genentech, which is owned by the Swiss drug giant Roche, where he works to get more diverse groups of patients involved in the company's research for new drugs, keeping in mind the many ways that the healthcare system has historically wronged people of color.

Wilson's work spans Genentech's own research, collaborations with physicians and healthcare groups, patient communities, and government representatives, all in the aim of advancing more inclusive research. The work is important because drugs have historically been tested mostly in white men, and therapies don't work the same across different people.

"Healthcare is an industry where, in order to be a part of this, you empathize with helping others," he says. "That's central to what you want to accomplish."

—Emma Court



06 Aug 16:34

In Defense of Demand Generation in the Age of ABM

by Howard J. Sewell

Much has been made of the argument that Account-Based Marketing (ABM) gained traction so quickly in B2B marketing primarily because traditional, funnel-based demand generation has stopped working. A recent video making the rounds on LinkedIn asked: “Is Demand Generation Losing its Effectiveness?” (The answer provided was: yes.)

The real answer to that question, I would argue, is more nuanced. Yes, many companies are seeing lower returns from traditional demand gen. I would also allow that many of those same companies could benefit greatly from integrating ABM into their overall demand gen mix. But it would be a mistake to suggest that ABM somehow “replaces” demand generation or that the funnel-based approach is an idea past its time.

Instead, the real problem with modern demand generation is the way in which it’s practiced. I argued previously in this space that one of the primary drivers for ABM, and the frustration that sales professionals rightly feel at the inability of marketing to deliver qualified leads, is that companies are just really bad at lead nurturing. More broadly, it’s not that demand generation has stopped working. It’s more a case that demand generation is being executed poorly.

In this context, it’s ironic that ABM is painted as requiring such a disciplined, strategic approach. To be successful, we’re told, ABM requires a deep understanding of one’s target audience (including personas and buying centers), an abundance of personalized, relevant content, and success metrics that align with specific, quantitative goals and even buying stages. All of which is true. And ironic, because if only demand generation were executed with the same discipline, sales wouldn’t be baying quite so loudly for a switch to ABM.

In the last 5-10 years, demand generation has become overwhelmingly technology-driven, and largely tactical. Demand marketers have fallen victim to the siren call of vendors who would have us believe that finding the right buyer, at the right time, with the right need is really just a matter of having the right data or software. Whether it’s intent data or BANT-qualified cost per lead (CPL) programs, demand gen has become a race to the next short cut.

 

If only it were that easy. Marketers have more options, more channels, more technologies at their disposal than ever, but good, effective demand generation will always be more than a series of one-off tactics. For traditional, funnel-based demand generation to be a worthy complement to ABM, certain fundamentals are required: Precise, quantitative goals by which success will be measured

* A solid understanding of the target personas and their pain points
* Relevant content that speaks to those pain points and provides information of value
* A cohesive message and creative platform that extends across all channels
* Critically, a program to filter, qualify, nurture and convert leads to sales-ready prospects

If “demand generation” means no more than a LinkedIn ad and a handful of leads purchased through content syndication, then yes: demand generation will continue to disappoint. Alternatively, if demand generation is afforded the same strategic focus, discipline, and orchestrated approach required of ABM, then it will outperform expectations and continue to be the revenue driver it should be.

Photo by José Martín Ramírez C on Unsplash

05 Aug 17:14

Need a Sales Boost? Motivate Your Partners with Strong Channel Incentives

by Juan Ortiz

Maybe sales amongst your distributors and other partners have been in a rut. Perhaps your products and services have been around long enough that they’re no longer generating a buzz, or maybe they’re being overshadowed by a newer, flashier line from a competitor. Perhaps you’re operating under a less-than-stellar network marketing strategy.

Or maybe you’re doing everything else right, but forgetting to incentivize your partner organizations to target their persuasive skills toward moving your product. After all, if you’re unable to light a fire under your network of salespeople, they’re unlikely to turn around and devote their energy toward getting customers enthused about your product lines. Research by Bain & Company concludes, in fact, that when sales professionals feel demotivated, their productivity can diminish by 25 to 50%.

“Every day, sales reps are bombarded by outside factors that are affecting their motivation,” notes business executive Sujan Patel in Entrepreneur. “To sell well, salespeople need to be hyped up and ready to go at any time. The motivation of your sales reps will affect productivity, culture and the bottom line. If you want to improve the success of your sales department, it’s time to make motivation a priority.”

That’s where a well-conceived channel incentives campaign that features strong rewards can move mountains when it comes to re-energizing your partners. By optimizing data about your teams as part of your strategy, you can choose incentives that reflect the amounts, rules, and conditions most likely to appeal to their needs and wants.

Here are some tips on spurring your partners’ sales performances in your next campaign.

  • Know your audience. Before setting the key parameters of your program, study data and anecdotal evidence to understand as much as you can about your partners’ salespeople. A Harvard Business Review article outlines how different performers require different kinds of attention. “Stars seem to knock down any target that stands in their way — but may stop working if a ceiling is imposed,” notes author Thomas Steenburgh. “Laggards need more guidance and prodding to make their numbers. Core performers … get the least attention, even though they’re the group most likely to move the needle if they’re given the proper incentives.”
  • Set reasonable goals. “Every goal-setter knows goals should be specific, time limited, achievable and measurable,” reads a recent Salesforce.com article. “(But) choosing the wrong metrics and wrong goals creates a culture of inspection, and if goals, especially the wrong goals, are focused on too intently, an atmosphere of compliance and anxiety results.”
  • Provide ample support. While no one likes to be micromanaged, your partners want to know they’re not tackling sales challenges on their own. Consider hosting a pre-campaign training session or conference call; offering detailed product information that includes FAQs; compiling tips for selling your specific product; and/or arranging for frequent email or SMS messaging that includes updates and words of support.
  • Bestow rewards immediately. Keep your campaign structure as transparent as possible, and give credit where credit is due by turning over rewards as soon as they’re earned. “When employees feel they’re being cheated, that motivation can turn to resentment instantly,” notes Emily Murray on Leadfuze.com.
05 Aug 16:28

Overcoming Major Objections

by Kevin Eikenberry

objections leaders hear

Overcoming objections isn’t just for salespeople. If you want to influence others, you must be able to overcome objections. There are four objections leaders hear regularly. Once you have a basic strategy, you will become more agile and successful influencing others past those objections. The Objections Leaders Hear While these objections may not be stated […]

The post Overcoming Major Objections appeared first on Kevin Eikenberry on Leadership & Learning.

05 Aug 16:24

10 Powerful Questions That Point You Towards Remarkable Success

by Anthony Iannarino

If you want greater success in any area, these ten questions will help you deconstruct your pursuit and your plan. These ten questions that point you towards success sound simple when you first hear them but answering them proves difficult. The answers, however, provide you with a definite direction about what you need to do to find your success.

  1. Do You Know What You Want: Your idea of success is your own? It doesn’t matter how other people define success, but it matters a great deal what the word means to you. One way to think about success is to explore it by asking and answering the question, “What do you want?” This question provides clarity, especially when you apply it to every area of your life. Limiting the question to a single area of your life, like income, leaves too much ground uncovered. Your answers guide what you are going to do with the 4,160 weeks you have.
  2. Is What You Want Aligned with Your Identity: I know you are supposed to start with “why” but your “why” is really “who?” Who are you? What do you believe? What are your non-negotiable values? There may not be anything as potent as your identity when it comes to your beliefs and your behaviors. Does “what you want” allow you to be who you are becoming?
  3. Do You Have a Plan: Some of us believe our work is play and our life is our work? A lot of people plan their work without giving the same (or more) attention to planning their success in every area of their life. If you don’t have a plan to bring what you want into existence, your likelihood of success is negligible. Your written goals provide clarity about what you want, and your written plans give direction to achieving them. More still, a list of the disciplines you need to maintain will provide even stronger guidance. Is your plan in writing?
  4. Are You Disciplined About Doing the Work: You can answer the three question above in the affirmative and still fail to find success if you are not consistently doing the work. There are countless people who “want” success but far fewer who are willing to pay the price in full and in advance. Instead, they spend time looking for secrets, hacks, and tricks. But success is an auditor, and as such, it measures your effort, refusing to give you anything you haven’t earned. If there was a video camera monitoring your every activity, would it show you working on what you want?
  5. Is Enough or Your Time Spent on the Right Things: It is possible to work very hard without producing the result you want. If you are not spending your time on the very few things that produce those results, you will not create them. Twenty-percent of the activities produce eighty percent of your results. You have to invest your time and energy in the twenty-percent. The time you give to the distractions and the trivial robs you of the future you are building. Are you focused on what matters?
  6. Are You Using the Resources Available to You: We tend to get so focused that we fail to look up and see what other resources are available to us. We also overlook the people who might be able to help. If you haven’t made a list of resources available to you, you are most likely spending time doing things that might be more easily achieved in some other way or by some other person. By using the resources available to you, you speed the time it takes to produce a particular outcome. Are you getting everything you can from what’s available to you?
  7. Are You Addressing the Obstacles That Stunt Your Progress: There are some natural obstacles to success, including time, energy, and competing priorities. But other obstacles block your path forward. What’s stopping you? What’s not working? It is often necessary to identify and remove the barriers to progress towards what you want. If you leave the obstacles unaddressed, they will slow—or halt—your progress. Are you eliminating the challenges?
  8. Do You measure Your Results: One always comes before two, and two always comes before three. If you do not measure your progress, it can feel like you are not moving forward. In all things, you want progress, not perfection. Measuring your progress helps you maintain your focus and motivation. Looking back on your progress inspires you and sustains your effort over long periods, and it can also help support you when you plateau. Are you moving closer to what you want?
  9. Are You Making Adjustments: Are you changing what you are doing and how you are doing it? If something isn’t producing the result you want now, or if it isn’t providing that result fast enough, are you making changes to improve what you are doing? It doesn’t matter how hard you work with an approach that doesn’t produce the result you want. Nor does it matter how much you want what you are doing to work, if it isn’t working, you need to make adjustments. Is there another way? Is there a better way?
  10. Is Your Determination Making You Persist: Too many give up too soon. If you desire what you profess to want, you have to work at over time. Success avoids people who give up on what they want. It never gives itself to people who aren’t willing to persist. Mediocrity is available to anyone willing to settle, to give up what they want because it’s difficult and takes more time than they wish. One of the variables of success is intestinal fortitude, the courage to persist and gut it out. Are you determined, and are you persisting?

Your idea of success may not match anyone else’s. It doesn’t have to, nor should it. The principles of success, however, don’t change by person, time, or place. Let these questions point you towards success.

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The post 10 Powerful Questions That Point You Towards Remarkable Success appeared first on The Sales Blog.

05 Aug 16:23

China just 'all but abandoned hopes for a trade deal with the US'

by Yusuf Khan

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump attends a bilateral meeting with China's President Xi Jinping during the G20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

  • China's central bank let its currency slip to it's lowest value since 2008, which one economist says is a move to "weaponize" the currency.
  • Previously China kept its currency above the 7-per-dollar threshold.
  • Capital Economics says China's latest currency move is a bad sign for any trade deal.
  • View Markets Insider for more stories. 

China's move to allow its currency to fall to a 2008 low against the dollar shows that the trade war may get a lot worse.

China's central bank on Monday morning allowed the currency to drift below 7 yuan per dollar, its lowest value since the 2008 financial crash. 

Prior to today's news, China's central bank had erred on keeping the yuan above that threshold in the hopes of ensuring that a deal was made, says Julian Evans-Pritchard, a senior china economist at Capital Economics. 

"The PBOC has effectively weaponized the exchange rate, even if it is not proactively weakening the currency with direct FX intervention," he wrote.

"They were holding back in order to avoid derailing trade negotiations with the US," Evans-Pritchard wrote in a note to clients on Monday. "The fact that they have now stopped defending 7.00 against the dollar suggests that they have all but abandoned hopes for a trade deal with the US."

Global stocks are crashing on the news, with the Hang Seng closing down 2.8%, while US futures were down at least 1.4% this morning.

And the Chinese currency might go even lower. 

"Given that their goal is presumably to offset some of the impact from additional US tariffs, they are likely to allow the currency to weak further, probably by 5% - 10% over the coming quarters," he wrote. "We had anticipated that the PBOC would eventually devalue the currency in response to trade tensions, but hadn't expected it to come quite this soon."

"Although PBOC officials had repeatedly argued that this level is arbitrary, they had previously intervened to prevent the currency from breaching this threshold, no doubt mindful of the headlines it would attract," Evans-Pritchard said. 

The People's Bank of China linked the currency fall to increased tariffs, though did not explicitly mention the US. 

SEE ALSO: US stocks are set to crater as traders fear China's currency move is a sign Beijing won't back down in Trump's trade war

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The US women's national team dominates soccer, but here's why the US men's team sucks

05 Aug 16:22

LinkedIn’s Most Important Settings If You Want to be Found

by JoAnne Funch

Getting found on LinkedIn is simpler if you have your profile’s privacy settings arranged to your advantage.

With over 600+ Million profiles on LinkedIn getting lost in the masses is easy particularly if you have a common name and professional title. Updating your profile settings can provide a competitive advantage if you want to leverage search capabilities that help you get found. LinkedIn is for standing out, not fitting in and building a network of valued relationships can accelerate your ability to meet your professional goals.

Edit Public Profile Settings

Go to the ME icon (your photo) on the top navigation bar. Access the drop-down menu, under account select ‘Privacy & Settings.’
You are now under the privacy tab and will notice the header: How others see your profile and network information

The first item under that heading is: Edit your public profile
This is important because this setting sets up how your profile appears to non-logged in members via search engines or permitted services.

Click on the word ‘Change’ on the far right to open your profile.
You control your profile and can limit what is shown on search engines and other off-LinkedIn services. Viewers who aren’t signed in to LinkedIn will see all or some portions of your profile based on what you choose.

  1. The first step to getting found and increase your visibility is to turn on your profile’s public profile button

LinkedIn Profile Settings

2. The second step to elevating your presence by search engines is to turn on the ‘Public’ button. This signal search engines such as Google & Bing that the information you want people to know about you can be shown.

This article is geared toward people who want to increase their visibility online, with that said if you prefer to limit your visibility than you would want to turn off the public profile visibility button.

3. Be sure to turn on the buttons next to the information you want to be made public. This is certainly a personal preference, bear in mind I would recommend showing any information that is relevant to you today and turn off anything from past experience that is not.

LInkedIn Most Important Settings

Now scroll through the page and you will see exactly what shows up in a search result that others would see!

Who Can See Your Email Address

You want to make it easy for people to get in touch with you and one way to do that is to be sure your email address visible on your profile. Not everyone wants to connect with you, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t wat to contact you.

To access this, you are still under the privacy tab and will notice the header: How others see your profile and network information

The second item under that heading is: Who can see your email address

You can select from the drop-down menu:

  • Only visible to me
  • 1st-degree connections
  • 1st & 2nd-degree connections
  • Anyone on LinkedIn

LInkedIn Privacy Settings

The second part of this section I want to point out it the option to have your email address downloaded with the rest of your profile when a connection of yours exports their own database of contacts.

Many LinkedIn users are unaware that they have the ability to export their connections data files! When you do export your connections if this radio button is not tuned ‘On’ then your email address will not be included in the export of data.

If you use a CRM program outside of LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator program, you may very well want to export your connections into your CRM particularly if you have built a solid network that you want to stay in touch with.

Many CRM systems will allow you to upload a .CSV file of contacts so why not upload your LinkedIn connections!

Viewers of This Profile Also Viewed

Also, under privacy settings you will see: Viewers of this profile also viewed
You can choose whether or not your profile appears in search results when someone views a similar profile that contains the same keywords as your profile. I see pro’s and con’s to having this turned on.

Pro’s – if you are looking for more visibility overall, then I would turn this on.

Con’s – if you are in competitive business this could work against you in terms of the viewer being tipped off to other people who offer the same service as you do. Now I personally I consider myself more collaborative than competitive, but in today’s world when we meet people online before we get a chance to talk with them offline, they may make a decision between two competitors without ever talking to either one! This is a reason why having an outstanding professional profile matters in order to gain a competitive advantage.

Who Can See Your Last Name

Also, under privacy settings, you will see: Who can see your last name.

If you want to be visible and found which is the focus of this article, then you would want to choose the radio button next to your full name. If you choose only the first initial of your last name, that is what those who are not connections will see. I recommend you make your full name visible particularly if you have a common name. I have searched for people with a common name and see in a search result many people show up and if there is only a last initial then I am not sure if I have the right person I was searching for or not.

Representing Your Organization and Interests

If you work for a company and link to their company page in the company field of your experience section then LinkedIn ‘could’ mention you with content about your employers or other content you publicly expressed an interest in.

By clicking YES on the radio button they can show your name and/or picture with content about your employers, such as in job posting details and on company pages and insights, and with content related to my publicly expressed interests (e.g. when I like a service or follow a company, or comment or share its posts, LinkedIn may include your name and photo with their sponsored content when shown to my connections)

I see pro’s and con’s to this setting also. If you are the owner of the company it would benefit you.

Profile Visibility Off LinkedIn

Two of LinkedIn’s goals are to help members be found for opportunities and to facilitate better informed professional communications, both on and off the site. For example, public profiles can be found through search engines. In addition, users of certain mail or calendar services may also see in those services “mini” profiles of members they interact with.

To gain a bit of leverage in terms of being found in search, I would turn this to YES.

How others see your LinkedIn activity – This is the next section under privacy and settings.

Profile Viewing Options

Here you can choose whether you want to be visible or not when you are viewing other people’s profiles.

I recommend you set this at 100% visible with your photo & title so when someone checks their “Who’s Viewed My Profile” statistics, you will be visible. First, this is the #1 feature used by LinkedIn users and second, we are curious by nature and we want to know who the people are that view our profile. This is a great way to gain more visibility because I don’t believe in hiding on LinkedIn. I want people to know I viewed their profile. I also will reach out to people who have viewed my profile and I will view theirs. If they did not connect with me and they look interesting, I will proactively invite them to connect knowing they probably had a reason for viewing my profile in the first place.

There certainly are instances when being anonymous has a use, but I would only view profiles anonymously under certain circumstances such as checking out employee candidates or looking at competitor profiles!

Manage Active Status

If you are an active LinkedIn user, you already know the value of this little button. This is to let people know when you are actively using LinkedIn. When you see a solid round green circle next to a connection’s profile picture, that means they are on LinkedIn now. The advantage in knowing this is utilizing the messaging function to reach out in real-time! You increase your chances of the person responding immediately.

If you see the green outline in the circle, that means the person has been active within the past 24-hours but they are not actively on LinkedIn right now. You have 3 options in the settings for this:

LinkedIn Messaging

  1. Choose your connections only will be notified you are active
  2. All LinkedIn members can see if you are active
  3. No one can see if you are active

Again, if you want to improve your visibility you should turn on active status at a minimum to your connections.

The last three sections under How others see your LinkedIn Activity I believe should all be turned on to yes because they all offer opportunities to be seen.

  • Share job changes, education changes, and work anniversaries
  • Notify connections when you’re in the news
  • Mentions or tags by others

Ultimately account settings are your responsibility. These are the primary sections within the privacy & settings section that you should pay attention to if your goal is to be seen on LinkedIn. I recommend reviewing these settings at a minimum twice a year and make changes based on your experience with each one I mention here.

Your privacy & settings are only the first step toward getting found. Your next step is to optimize your profile so you are attracting the right people when they are searching for someone who has your skills or services.

Check out my free guide to creating a powerful profile:

Not sure about a setting? Ask your question in the comment section below.

Originally published here.

05 Aug 16:19

B2B Reads: Stronger Value Propositions, Bulletproof Sales Forecasting, Tripling Your Productivity and More!

by Kailee McKinney

In addition to our Sunday App of the Week feature, we also summarize some of our favorite B2B sales & marketing posts from around the Web each week. We’ll miss a ton of great stuff, so if you found something you think is worth sharing please add it to the comments below.

Michael Mayday explains just how B2B content consumption habits have changed and the research bears this out.  Read all about it (thanks for the mentions too): How Newsroom Models Boost B2B Content Consumption. 

The 5 Things Salespeople Need to Build Their Personal Brand.  Building a personal brand isn’t about catering to your sales ego. It’s about creating meaningful, trustworthy connections with your prospective buyers that foster a long, healthy relationship with your company moving forward. Well said, Brittni Kinney.

As David Brock will tell you,Our Customers Are Voting With Their Time.  Go get your customers’ votes! You will set yourself apart from everyone else.

Better B2B Video: 6 Key Tips.Good ones, thanks to Beth Negus Viveiros.

The One Thing You Can Do to Triple Your Productivity  Most of you know how much we like productivity tips.  Here’s a really good one from our friend, Anthony Iannarino.

Jill Konrath tells us How to Make Your Value Proposition Stronger with a great reminder:  “No one wants to buy your product or service. They only want what it  can do for them.”

How to Better Know Your Customer in the Era of Digital Transformation by Hassan Monsoor.  Thanks for the great insights!

This is a discipline we try to exercise reguarly.  Handwritten Notes Are Still the Best Way to Reaffirm Your Customer Relationships. Here’s How to Write a Good One.  We agree, Jason Aten.

3 Easy Steps to Bulletproof your Sales Forecast [Plus Handy Calculator] Fortunately for you, according to Margaret Weniger, hope doesn’t have to be a strategy. Instead you can use this nifty future pipeline calculator to help you use data to generate a realistic number based on facts.

Lee Odden knows, and experienced business marketers know that collaborating with influencers can open doors for B2B brands to connect their value messaging to an audience that’s actually interested.  Check out The Guide to B2B Influencer Marketing for CMOs [Infographic]

The post B2B Reads: Stronger Value Propositions, Bulletproof Sales Forecasting, Tripling Your Productivity and More! appeared first on Heinz Marketing.

05 Aug 16:18

This Week’s Big Deal: Helping Buyers Overcome Information Fatigue

by Steve Kearns

Information overload is real. And for today’s B2B buyers, it’s a real problem.

There was a time when it was difficult to find enough quality information while researching solutions and weighing options. Now, this dynamic has swung starkly in the opposite direction. 

There’s so much information out there, it can put decision makers in a state of fatigue. And new data suggests this struggle is having a negative impact on the willingness of companies to make bold investments — even those that might benefit them.

Shying Away From Big Decisions Amidst Big Confusion

A Gartner report released last week, sharing insights from a survey of more than 1,000 B2B buyers, found that 89% are finding high-quality information during the purchase process. That seems good, on the surface.

“However,” Gartner explains, “this abundance of quality information is hindering customer decisions, as they report not only being overwhelmed by the amount of trustworthy information, but often contradictory information among suppliers as well.”

It turns out that when buyers are given too much info — often presenting conflicting narratives, to advance the interests of various sellers — it’s no better than having too little. 

As Gartner vice president Brent Adamson puts it: “Customers are reaching an information saturation point, where each new idea reduces the value derived from information and turns sound decision making into ‘best guesses’ or ‘gut feeling’ choices.”

This is having a material effect on outcomes, according to the research. Gartner finds that, “when customers experience too much high-quality information, information that is contradictory and creates difficulty in making informed purchase decisions, they are 153% more likely to settle for a course of action smaller and less disruptive than originally planned.”

In this setting, a salesperson’s role is shifting — from simply being a provider of information, to being someone who assists with navigating this information. Or, as Gartner puts it, a sense maker.

Making Sense of the Information Deluge

Gartner points to three different common selling approaches. “Giving” means providing as much information (aka content) as possible to help a customer make a decision. “Telling” means speaking out of personal expertise and authority to address a customer’s specific needs. And “sense making” means helping customers evaluate all of the information and guidance they’re receiving from numerous sources, reconciling contradictory points and prioritizing the most relevant ones. 

As the chart below shows, sense makers are handily outperforming the other two approaches when it comes to completing high-quality, low-regret deals: 

In the interest of adopting your customer’s point of view, this is a critical opportunity. How can we empathetically position ourselves as beacons of clarity in a sea of murkiness? 

Here are a few suggestions:

Ask Good Questions

Sales expert Nancy Nardin, who was featured last month in our Insight Track series, recently sat down for an interview with SmarterCX on B2B sales best practices and trends. One key recommendation she makes is bringing a sense of open-minded curiosity to the table, rather than falling back on the traditional, transparently pushy lines of questioning.

"If you're going in and you're asking the customer about their budget and their authority and their need and their timing, they're gonna go, get out!" she asserts. "That's just not a place to start. You have to add value, and that's part of the customer experience."

"It's more and more difficult to differentiate yourself by product or price or even delivery of product," Nardin adds. "So it starts with, what is my interaction with the salesperson like? That's going to give me a feel, and if they're asking me good questions, that's a good thing."

What are “good questions” in this scenario? They’re the types that make your conversation about the buyer, not the seller. The only way to determine where a decision maker is hitting snags is to learn it from them. So if you know someone is in an active evaluation stage, try opening the conversation around challenges in their selection process, rather than jumping right to the business problem they’re trying to solve through said process.

Lean on Your Marketing Cohorts

Marketers specialize in communication, and making complex information digestible. Set aside the traditional divide and coordinate with this department to refine a system for helping prospective buyers find their way through the fray. Since sellers tend to have first-hand insights around where decision makers are struggling or encountering confusion, they can assist with the creation of content tailored to these situations. 

Resources like guides, comparison sheets, and FAQs are appreciated by buyers trying to get the lay of the land. As Beibei Bai wrote here last week, video can be especially effective for building trust by showing, rather than telling. 

Deliver Content More Smoothly

Given the amount of content buyers are dealing with, it’s important that sellers package it up in a way that is clean, straightforward, and easy to peruse. LinkedIn Sales Navigator features tools designed expressly for this purpose. 

Rather than unloading a bunch of email attachments on a prospective customer, you can send them a simple dedicated URL, which leads to a nicely organized (and branded) landing page featuring your hand-picked content. At a time where buyers are telling us that they are flustered by information fatigue, this offers a way to show we’re listening.

Become a sense maker, and customers will quickly come to see why it makes sense to work with you.

Subscribe to the LinkedIn Sales Blog and never miss out on the latest big deal in B2B sales.

05 Aug 16:16

Sales Segmentation Could Be Costing You Deals. Here’s How to Ensure It Doesn’t.

by Amy Volas

On paper, the segmented sales model that many SaaS businesses use seems great – who wouldn’t want to copy the success of Salesforce?

But there’s a trend I’m seeing that’s making me wonder whether this segmented sales model is actually good for us.

My network is filled with content, posts, comments, etc. from people who are not having good experiences with it as buyers, coupled with my own experiences as a buyer:

Here’s the thing – I don’t believe any sales process is inherently wrong or right, segmented or otherwise.

Having an SDR/AE combo split the full cycle could be great for your business, or it could be terrible too.

It just depends on your buyers and whether it meets them where they are or not.

Here are 4 ways I see the segmented model fail to do this and how you can ensure that this isn’t happening with your sales process.

Incentivize the right behaviors

One of the biggest reasons I see segmentation fail is a disconnect between leadership and the SDR.

The wrong expectations, metrics, and therefore behaviors are being incentivized by focusing on things like call appointment volume instead of meaningful outcomes like deals closed.

This teaches them to just book appointments for the sake of checking off a box rather than focus on only booking the right appointments (that will actually show up).

And this ends up reducing revenue efficiency because your AE’s are spending more time with less qualified prospects.

Instead, it works better if the SDR is focused on outcomes that correlate to the final quota number.

That way, SDRs can stop worrying about hitting vanity metrics and focus on finding the leads that will drive real revenue.

A simple way to do that?

Align the SDR/AE teams with a shared goal they’re responsible for and have them manage their own pipeline together to get there.

Handle call transitions better

Buyers typically do a lot of research online before they ever reach out to a company and talk to someone. Because of that, they come armed and dangerous with a well thought out list of questions they bring to the call.

That or they’re ready to cut to the chase to see your software.

And that’s one of the reasons why the handoff from the SDR to the AE can often feel so choppy for buyers – SDRs often aren’t as smooth as they need to be in meeting buyers where they’re at and making that critical transition.

I’ve been on many SDR calls where the transition felt forced, like the SDR was just doing it because they had to!

Alex Boyd, Founder of RevenueZen, gave a great example of how to fix this:

This is situational, but training your SDRs and AEs to be better at reading where buyers are while correctly positioning the transition will create a more seamless experience for your buyer.

And that’s the key – creating a seamless experience that doesn’t make me feel like I have to wait on you to get what I want.

Train SDRs to go all the way…or make AEs available in real time

One of the absolute worst parts about the segmented sales model for me is when I’m having a great call with an SDR and then I have to wait a week+ to talk to an AE knowing I’m going to have to repeat much of what I’ve just shared.

I’m hooked, so why kill the momentum?

Marc Bodner nails why this kills deals:

Marc points out a simple solution here – ensure that SDRs can take it all the way if the momentum is there. Others are taking this approach too:

However, another equally valid solution to this problem is to simply make sure AEs are available real time to make the transition on the spot.

There’s even tech out there to make it easy should you want to go this route:

Bottom line here – don’t lose buyers by slowing them down with your process when they’re ready to go fast. Find a way to equal their pace!

Nix segmentation where it doesn’t work

There are times where having a single person run the full cycle is simply a better choice. Even former SDRs notice this:

Speaking from experience, there is enough on the line with enterprise buyers (potential $ earned and reputation) that it makes sense to hire a full-cycle seller to handle everything.

The trick here is to not cut corners on who you hire. Spend the money to get the right hire, make sure they’re equipped to do what you need them to and that they can go the distance through the long sales cycle.

Far too often clients come to us to help them recruit heavy hitting enterprise salespeople after they’ve tried the segmented model, cut costs to hire SMB AEs dressed up as enterprise sellers, or someone that hasn’t done the job they need them to do, and seen it implode as a result.

Hire true enterprise salespeople with proven full-cycle results at this level and the stage your company is at or put the hiring process on the back burner. Otherwise, you’re assuming an awful lot of risk that can hurt your business and then some later.

Final thoughts

The sales process is like a machine. One with more moving parts can sometimes achieve things that a simpler one couldn’t, but it also means the potential for things to break increases.

The additional complexity of the segmented model may improve efficiency and provide greater predictability, but it also means more opportunities for turning your buyers off and for deals to slip through the cracks.

The key here is to let your buyers guide the decisions you make (active listening will serve you well).

Many startups blindly follow the segmented model because “that’s the SaaS sales model.” This mindset is not customer-centric and will cause you to lose buyers.

Do what works best for your buyers, not what everyone tells you works for their business!

The post Sales Segmentation Could Be Costing You Deals. Here’s How to Ensure It Doesn’t. appeared first on OpenView.

05 Aug 16:16

The real reason most follow-ups get ignored

by steli@close.io (Steli Efti)
follow-ups-ignored

You’ve sent your initial email. You crafted it well, sent it to a few colleagues to get their feedback, made sure your ask was reasonable, then hit send. A week goes by—you follow up

Another week goes by—another follow-up. And still… crickets.

So now you’re asking:

“What did I do wrong? Why didn’t they answer?”

The thing is, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to those two questions. It’s always going to depend on who you are, who you’re reaching out to, what you’re asking for, etc.

Still, you’ll find plenty of hot outreach and follow-up hacks floating around:

  • Include numbers in your subject lines
  • Namedrop one of your top investors
  • Ask them if they want to hear more before you pitch anything
  • Follow up every day for a week / follow up once a week / follow up once a quarter

The list goes on and on and on... Do these so-called “outreach hacks” work?

Sometimes yes.

But those hacks are just Band-Aids. If you think adding numbers to your subject lines and calling it a day will boost your outreach and follow-up reply rates, prepare to be disappointed.

So what can you do? Are you doomed because your cold email didn’t get replies? Should you all it quits just because your follow-ups went unopened?

Not quite.

There are definitely ways to up your reply rates and the overall success of your outreach that aren’t just quick hacks. How you approach that first outreach email is important, but the real money is made after that.

It comes down to the follow-up phase. (I’ve written an entire book about the art of following up effectively. You can download a free copy here!)Follow-Up-Formula-Cover-CloseAnd that’s what we’re going to dig into today, so let’s jump right in to the reasons that your emails are getting ignored in the first place:

1. You haven’t done your research

The most likely reason your outreach is falling flat on its face is that you barely know who you’re talking to.

If you go the mass-outreach route and try to land in as many inboxes as possible, naturally you won’t be able to do the research needed to understand what each recipient is looking for.

Here’s the thing:

Personalization is key.

And no, dropping in some {FIRST NAME} and {COMPANY} merge tags does not count as personalization.

ClickToTweet_followupsignoredTake this pitch for example:

email-personalization-is-key

The email itself isn’t awful. It’s fairly brief, not asking for too much. But here’s the big problem that most prospects will instantly see:

It’s a template that can easily be blasted to thousands of people per hour.

The only bits of personalization in there are the classic {FIRST NAME} and {COMPANY} merge tags. Everything else is cookie-cutter—there’s nothing in there that’s relevant specifically to the person you’re emailing.

You need to understand what the person you’re talking to is interested in, then craft your outreach and follow-ups accordingly.

Here’s how you can go about this:

  1. Don’t use a generic (and robotic) template for every email
  2. Figure out what they’ve been investing their time in lately
  3. Look into the content they’re sharing and talking about most
  4. Find the angle that will catch their attention
  5. Craft your outreach and follow-ups with this angle top of mind

2. Your emails are way too long

Have you ever met somebody who gets genuinely excited when they open up an email that’s just a wall of text—like this?

emails-too-long-example

I’ll bet you stopped reading at “try to sell you leads…” in that screenshot—and that’s if you even got past “I am sure you get 250 emails like this–” 

The point is this:

Nobody wants to spend all their time in Gmail. And if you’re asking them to dig through an email that’s just a bunch of block paragraphs, the only reply you’ll ever get is the classic “stop emailing me”—sometimes in a much less friendly tone.

Here are the questions you need to answer as efficiently as possible:

  • Who are you?
  • Why are you reaching out?
  • Why should they care?
  • What do you want?

3. You’re waiting way too long

Want to know the easiest way to get completely forgotten about?

Wait for weeks between each follow-up you send—or worse, never send a single follow-up email at all.

No matter how much research and personalization work you put in, you’re still only looking at a 40% response rate at best. The real success comes from the follow-ups. And if you’re waiting for weeks before reaching out again, you’re just wasting your own time.

So what’s the best follow-up schedule?

 

Let me introduce you to the Close follow-up formula:

1. Send the first cold email.

Do your research on what’s most likely to resonate, then personalize and send.

2. Wait 1 day, then send follow-up #1 at a different time of day.

This should be a modified version of your first email. Communicate the same message—just in a different format. For example, if your initial email was several paragraphs long, make this follow-up email only two sentences long, and vice versa.

3. Wait 2 days after your second email, then send follow-up #2.

Don’t explain anything at all. Just quickly and clearly restate your call to action. You can ask your prospect to introduce you to someone else in their organization, schedule a call, or just respond to your email—whatever you asked in the first email.

4. Wait 4–5 days after your third email, then send the third and final follow-up.

This is the break-up email. It’s where you say goodbye to the prospect. Here you’re tapping into their loss aversion—a psychological principle that says people strongly prefer avoiding losses to acquiring gains.

Notice the timeline here:

  • Day 1: Send cold email
  • Day 2: Follow up
  • Day 4: Follow up
  • Day 8 or 9: Follow up (break up)

That’s barely a week and a half. If you try to stretch this same formula over 30+ days, you’re not really “following up”—you’re pretty much starting from scratch each and every time.

Wrapping up

email-outreach-follow-up

The success of your email outreach comes down to the follow-up.

If you don’t follow up at all, you’re leaving money on the table. Simple as that. So how can you make sure your follow-ups aren’t getting sent straight to the trash?

Let’s recap:

  • Do your research to make sure your emails resonate
  • Keep your follow-ups short and to the point
  • Shrink the time between follow-ups

Want to take the next step in mastering the follow-up? Grab a free copy of The Follow-Up Formula.

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE COPY TODAY

03 Aug 16:40

Courting Your Customers: A Relationship-Building Approach to Marketing and Sales

by Jessica Mehring

Imagine this: You’ve been going to the gym regularly for a few weeks and you’ve noticed the same good-looking person there almost every time. You’re single, and this person is piquing your interest.

You work up the nerve to finally make small-talk with them about one of your mutual exercise habits. They respond with enthusiasm which, at first, really excites you. They’re returning your interest!

Within the first five minutes of getting to know each other, however, they ask, “Ok, so, now that I know your name and what you do for a living, how do you feel about having three kids and living over in that cute new suburb on the west side of town?”

(Are you hearing the sound of screeching brakes?)

In that scenario, you would probably run for the hills. This person has just jumped the gun, oh, about 7 years … and demonstrated exceptionally poor judgment, to boot.

In business — especially B2B — when you try to sell to your customer in your first interaction with them, this is exactly how it feels.

There may be a lot of noise today with digital marketing — but it’s getting easier to shut out that noise, too. To keep your customers engaged (and not running for the hills), you have to build the customer relationship in the same thoughtful, deliberate way you would build a romantic relationship — one step, one conversation, one trust-building activity at a time.

Relationship-Building Starts BEFORE the First Encounter With Your Brand

Back to the dating analogy: Even on a blind date, the stage has already been set and expectations have been created.

Consciously or subconsciously, they’ve created a picture of you in their mind. The person who set you up described what your date would be like; the place you’re meeting your date influences how the date will go (a coffee date feels much more casual than a dinner date, for example); the time of day you meet tells you about the person’s preferences; and so on.

All relationships begin before the first conversation. Customer relationships are no exception.

The customer relationship begins the first time the customer is made aware of your company.

Whether that be through advertising, word-of-mouth or a Google search, the first moment a person becomes aware that your brand exists, the seed of the relationship is planted — and this is what the customer relationship is going to sprout from.

You have the ability to build, maintain and influence the relationship from before that point of mention all the way through the sale — and beyond.

In fact, when the relationship is managed well, this is a cyclical thing:

  1. Customer 1 hears about your brand from a friend.
  2. Customer 1 checks out your company / solution(s). They definitely visit your website (your website is one of the top two channels for customer engagement), but they may also check out your social media profiles and reach out to their network for opinions.
  3. Customer 1 considers your solution against other options.
  4. If a free trial is available, Customer 1 signs up for it.
  5. Customer 1 goes back to your website or contacts the sales rep and buys the solution.
  6. Customer 1 receives outstanding ongoing support and education.
  7. Customer 1 is so happy with their experience, they recommend your company/solution to Customer 2.
  8. Customer 2 starts back at the beginning of this cycle, at Step 1.

There are touchpoints at every step of the customer journey — and every touchpoint is an opportunity to grow the relationship.

Marketo engagement report

Source: Marketo’s State of Engagement report

The Dating Period: Awareness and Consideration

While you’re getting to know a new, exciting person, you spend some time together doing fun activities and having character-revealing conversations. You go on dates and you share stories with one another.

The more you find out about this person, the more effort you both put forth in developing the relationship. The relationship becomes mutually beneficial.

Building relationships with customers is the same process.

Learning About Each Other

You need to understand the customer to grow the relationship. Who are they? How are they talking about their problem? Do they even know they have a problem? Are they aware that products or services exist to help eliminate the problem?

Ask them.

Ask them directly through customer interviews. Ask them passively through surveys and review requests. Ask them second-hand by mining competitor reviews.

In this stage, you’ll also be assessing where the customer is on the awareness spectrum.

When you get to know your customer on a deeper level, listening to them and understanding how they feel about where they’re at, you can start talking to your customer like the human being they are.

And when you understand who your customer is as a human being, you can help them so much more effectively.

You can share answers with them: “This is what we hear is happening with people like you/companies like yours. Here is how we see people solving the problem.”

You can invite them into conversation with your emails: “If this is a familiar challenge to you, let’s talk about this. Here’s how to connect with me.” (Me, not us. This is a relationship, after all.)

Deepening the Conversation

As you grow this conversational relationship, your goal should be to get your customer to feel that yours is a company they can talk to. That you’re going to respond to them. That you’ll welcome anything you bring forward to you.

Once that conversation is started, keep it going! Move them through the spectrum of awareness by providing more value — targeted to their needs — at every step. Blog posts, downloadable assets (like e-books and white papers) on high-level topics, newsletters and infographics are all good content types to get the customer journey started on the right foot.

Assuming by this point you have the customer’s email address, follow up with them and make sure that they’ve found what they are looking for. Send emails from a person, not a department or a company, so you can use “I” and “you” statements. Nurture email sequences are great for this purpose — and don’t let the automation aspect discourage you from asking them to hit reply with any questions!

When you respond, be sure to do it quickly. Studies have shown that the faster you respond to a lead, the more likely they are to buy from you. Even waiting an hour decreases conversion rates 10-fold!

And remember: Do NOT try to sell them on your company at the earliest stages of awareness. You will come off like a sleazy car salesman … and they’ll shut you out.

Encourage customers to engage, to get in touch — not to shut you out. And most importantly, don’t piss them off. I loved how Leah George put it during her talk at Digital Summit Denver 2019: “Attention is the new currency. The challenge isn’t reaching [your audience]; it’s avoiding pissing them off.

As their awareness of your brand and offerings grows, you can start to offer white papers, guides and e-books on narrower topics so the customer can explore their problem more deeply — and start to make the connection between your company and solving their problem.

You develop a conversational relationship by being responsive and helpful. And through conversation, your customer gains an increased awareness of — and trust in — your brand.

Only when the customer knows what their problem is, and that it’s solvable, do you start presenting your solution as an option. At this point in the customer journey, content like case studies can go a long way to telling your customer, “We solved the same problem for someone just like you, and here’s how we did it.”

Pop the Question: Make the Ask

In the personal relationship scenario, after you’ve been courting a while, people start to ask about your next steps.

When are you going to move in together? Get married? Have kids?

And by now, you have answers to some of those questions. You and your partner have likely already had conversations about how to move forward.

In a business/customer relationship, by now you have established yourself as a trusted resource whose primary aim is to legitimately help your customers. You’ve given them information to resolve their problem, you’ve referred them to helpful resources, and you’ve offered yourself up as a resource too.

As a result, your customer now finds you trustworthy and caring.

Now is the time to pop the question.

Only after you’ve put forth the time and energy to establish and grow the relationship should you directly ask them to buy your product or service. You have to have this connection established, and then you can talk about selling them a solution.

Looking Back On Your Relationship: Post-Sale Analysis, Insight and Iteration

Once you’ve been in a relationship long enough to have memories, it’s nice to reflect back on them occasionally. Maybe you’ll pull out that photo album of your wedding and reminisce about how you got there.

In a business scenario, it can be helpful to think back on the sales experience and map out the customer journey. Start with how the customer heard about your brand, and map out every step in the process up to where the customer is now (hopefully that’s the loyal advocate / repeat buyer stage of the relationship!)

Understanding how the customer journeyed from where they were to where they are now can help you create an even better journey for the next customer. Use what you learned — always be researching (ABR!) — and iterate on the next campaign.

Every happy customer is an opportunity to learn, iterate and improve the journey for the next customer.

03 Aug 16:37

Why You Struggle To Compel Your Dream Client To Act Now

by Anthony Iannarino

The single question I hear most often from salespeople is, “How do I compel my prospective client to take action?” We have to unpack this a bit to explore what’s behind this question. You can compel your client to take action, but much of what salespeople believe is compelling doesn’t achieve the outcome.

You Have Lost Control

One of the reasons for the question as to how you compel your dream client to change is your having lost control over the process—if you ever had it at all. One helpful way to think about selling is that you sell a meeting, sell the process, and then sell your solution. Many—or most—salespeople sell the meeting and then work on selling the solution. By avoiding the sometimes difficult conversation that is selling the process, they leave meetings with no defined next steps—and no commitment from their prospective client (see this video on non-commitments and soft-commitments).

To control the process, you must make a case for the next meeting after each meeting. You can set the stage for that commitment even early in the process. (See Neil Rackham’s Spin Selling and my second book, The Lost Art of Closing). When you leave a meeting without a commitment, you end up trying to compel them to do what comes next over email and voicemail, two mediums that make it difficult to compel action.

Once you lose control, it is difficult to recover. The best thing to do is to sell the process when that is possible.

Weak Discovery and No Exploration

One of the challenges in traditional discovery is that it isn’t as potent as it once was when it comes to compelling change. The difference between what I call Level 3 Value Creation and Level 4 Value Creation, is that Level 3 tends to be reactive, while Level 4 is proactive. In the first case, you ask your prospective client about their existing challenges. In the second, you set the context for change by working to compel change.

Traditional discovery assumes the prospect knows what and why they need to change. Even though the conventional ways we think of eliciting the prospective client’s challenges and opportunities are still useful, other approaches provide a greater range of action, something we might call Exploration. A Level 4 approach would allow you to help shape the lens your client is looking through to help them recognize the more significant, more systemic threats and opportunities, as well as the improvement to their strategic outcomes. (You can find more information about this approach in Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customers Away from Your Competition).

While traditional discovery assumes the client is—or should be—already compelled to change, we now start with an assumption that salespeople can and should work on making a compelling case for change. A modern approach does not preclude the idea that it isn’t beneficial to develop and test a theory as to what is already compelling your dream client.

What Is Already Compelling Them?

In every vertical, there are systemic challenges that some companies have not addressed. There are also external forces that are either putting pressure on these companies to change or soon will be. The easiest way to get a glimpse of what these forces are and how leaders think about them is to look at the financial filings of publicly-traded companies. Their disclosures to investors describe their forward-looking strategies, as well as what they believe to be threats to their results.

If you can tie your theory about why your dream client should change to what is already compelling them to do something different, your solution has a better chance of moving forward.

I once heard a salesperson ask a C-level executive that was speaking at their sales kickoff meeting what he would have to do to become the executive’s number one priority. The executive told the salesperson what he sold would never be their top priority, but that if he could help improve any of the top three, he’d get much attention.

The reason leaders count on trusted advisors is that they are so busy driving results in their business that they can’t track everything going on around them. They tend to surround themselves with people who can see around corners and cover the gaps for them. Sometimes, when you are at your very best, you know what should be compelling them before they do.

What Should Be Compelling Them

A trusted advisor doesn’t show up after their client is damaged by not changing soon enough. The advice, “You shouldn’t have done that,” isn’t helpful after the fact.

There is an advantage in creating and winning opportunities by shaping the opportunity well in advance. By providing the context around why your dream client should change, what they stand to lose or gain, and helping them by providing them the right questions, you position yourself to both create the opportunity and win it. By waiting until someone else has done this work, you end up giving them a distinct advantage.

This is Level 4, proactively making a case for change. If you believe it’s more difficult, try selling against someone who has shaped your dream client’s view of their business and what they need to do.

What Happens If They Do Nothing?

When your dream client isn’t compelled to take action, including the next meeting, what you are missing implications. There are two things salespeople try to leverage as implications that don’t often rise to that level for their dream clients.

  • Deadlines on pricing: Your dream client is changing because they want a discount. That’s why they aren’t compelled.
  • Ultimatums: There is no reason to send a break-up letter to a prospect as a way to get them to reengage with you. The problem with telling them you are going to delete their opportunity and move on is that your dream client can accept your order.

If you want to compel change, you have to focus on the implications of not changing now. Anything less than that isn’t likely to get your prospective client to take action.

The post Why You Struggle To Compel Your Dream Client To Act Now appeared first on The Sales Blog.

03 Aug 16:34

Omnichannel Chatbot: Why Should You Implement It in Your Business

by Martin Frascaroli

Your potential customers want to buy quickly and comfortably through an integrated experience. They sign in from different devices and communicate through all available means. They are real-time users looking for a rewarding shopping experience, and they expect the best service.

The new consumer profile in the digital age

Customers used to go to a physical store to see products, check prices and make purchases. Today, they shop digitally through different channels. This means that customers can check your product’s features on social media, request prices via email, and purchase through your webchat. In fact, according to a Zendesk study, 67% of online shoppers have made purchases in the past six months that have involved multiple channels.

This new way of shopping has led companies to offer multiple contact channels as a means for survival in today’s market. It’s extremely important to respond to your customers’ needs through different channels, but it’s useless if you don’t have a strategy to coordinate and organize those interactions.

63% of customers want to be able to switch smoothly from channel to channel. Today having an Omnichannel Customer Service strategy which integrates all communication channels of a company has become a must in order to make interactions easier for customers. The goal is to provide a consistent service so that the user doesn’t notice differences, overlapping or errors between the channels.

In a constantly growing digital landscape, with more and more apps, platforms and channels to interact on, it becomes essential for companies to be where their customers are. And it is not just about being there: it is also about adapting the experience to each channel while, at the same time, providing an integral overall customer experience.

A report by Aberdeen Group revealed that companies with sustained omnichannel customer engagement keep an average of 89% of their existing customers, while those with poor omnichannel customer engagement only retain an average of 33%. A great tool to achieve such high customer retention are chatbots, since they can provide a fast yet personalized omnichannel experience.

Using chatbots to lead an omnichannel strategy

Customers want an integrated shopping experience. They expect you to meet their needs and demands even when they use different channels to communicate. You might understand the value of being present in multiple channels but not have the resources to be able to properly support your customers in each one of these. And this is where an omnichannel chatbot comes into play.

An omnichannel chatbot can be successfully implemented in multiple channels like your website, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and wherever users interact but can still be managed from a single platform. Some chatbots even offer integrations with voice and live channels, so that clients can call Customer Service or contact a human agent at any time during the conversation.

But working seamlessly across all channels is just the first step. Aside from that, omnichannel customer service also implies considering customers as individuals, analyzing their records, understanding how they interact and knowing their interests and preferences. Once again, chatbots come in handy since they are made to customize each user’s experience.

First of all, this technology learns from all customer interactions and store information from each user. The data collected is centralized in a single database allowing the company to provide comprehensive and consistent service through all channels.This way, you know which channel the customer has used to contact the company in the past, what type of interaction it was and which products or services they purchased.

Then, once the data is collected, chatbots engage in personalized conversations by understanding each customer’s intention behind their question, they access real-time customer data, and adapt the messages to each individual’s situation.

This type of personalisation can have a strong business impact. A study by Harte Hanks Quarterly, customer-centric chatbots can provide a 300% improvement in customer lifetime value. As an example, Movistar, one of Latin America’s biggest telcos, improved their customer retention by 80% after implementing an AI chatbot, while reducing Customer Service costs by 30%.

Advantages of an omnichannel chatbot

As you can see chatbots can help businesses’ strategies in a wealth of ways. Some of the main advantages of an omnichannel experience with a chatbot include:

Customer Service for all users

Some customers will prefer to communicate with your company through online chat or email. Others will choose self-service alternatives like forums and FAQs. And there are those who still prefer social media or even being contacted by phone. These different profiles require a service that adapts to their needs and is always ready to assist them through their preferred channel. A chatbot solution allows you to integrate them all: you can add it to each digital channel while still integrate it with your Customer Service phone line.

Fast response

Time is a key factor for ensuring a positive user experience with your brand. An omnichannel chatbot has a strong impact on immediate responses. It can provide solutions for the user in just a few seconds. In fact, if your chatbot is powered by Artificial Intelligence, it can reply in a human-like way to make it easier for your customers to interact. Therefore, it’s an excellent feature to increase sales: the faster you provide information, the greater the likelihood the customer will make a purchase.

In fact, according to Inside Sales, if you wait 5 minutes to respond after a lead initially makes contact, there’s 10x reduction in your odds of getting in touch with that lead. After 10 minutes, this figure plummets to a 400% decrease in your odds of retaining that customer. Given these stats, it becomes clear that fast responses should be a priority for companies in their customer service strategies.

Sales increase

If the service meets your customers’ expectations, they will be more satisfied with your company — and satisfied consumers buy more. According to a report by Harvard Business Review, a 5% increase in customer retention may mean an increase of up to 95% in a company’s annual earnings. On top of chat, chatbots all alone can increase online sales by 25%. The flexibility offered by an omnichannel experience can be a great ally for your company’s growth.

Data collection

Storing your customers’ data in a single place helps with predictive analysis, allowing you to make more focused and assertive strategic decisions. Moreover, it’s a great source of information about your current customers and your potential buyers. Having this information at hand will help you develop very efficient Marketing and Sales initiatives.

Conclusion

Consumer behavior is constantly evolving. Adapting and establishing new ways to connect with them is essential. Remember that an omnichannel strategy focuses on your customer’s current needs, so you must be available at all times and through all channels.

With Omnichannel Customer Service, you will encourage successful user experiences, exceed your customers’ expectations and improve your brand’s reputation, resulting in amazing outcomes for your company.

A version of this post originally appeared here.

03 Aug 16:34

What is a Trade Show Interactive?

by Samuel Smith

Adding a trade show interactive has become one of exhibitors’ favorite tools to getting today’s more reluctant show attendees to cross from the aisle and into and their booth space.

Why are trade show interactives more necessary than ever? Let me count the ways:

  1. Attendees today have more control of the buying process, because they can easily get product info from the web. So, exhibitors must offer a more compelling experience attendees can’t get online to get them into their booth.
  2. Attendees love technology, and spend much of their personal time playing with their phones and tablet computers consuming digital content. So, tech-driven interactives meet their expectations – especially with Millennials, which are now the largest generation in the workforce.
  3. Attendees are overwhelmed with too much work and not enough time. So, when they return to work after the show, they all too quickly forget much of what they learned, except for the most compelling experiences.
  4. Time-starved attendees need a more personalized experience that gives them just the information they need, in a faster and more memorable fashion.
  5. The high potential sales value from trade show visitors justifies investing more to create greater impact and results from each face-to-face interaction.

For all these reasons, trade show interactives are more popular than ever.

Trade Show Interactive Definition

What actually is a trade show interactive? It can have many elements about experience, senses, journey, and more. Here is our definition:

A trade show interactive takes attendees beyond just looking at displays or conversing with booth staffers. With a trade show interactive, attendees interact in a staged, planned, personalized, multi-sensory way with objects, technology, games, and people to more memorably experience the exhibitor’s marketing message or story. A trade show interactive can be as small as a trade show game on an iPad or as large as an entire island booth.

Now that we have a more formal definition, let’s do deeper dives into various key aspects of trade show interactives.

Trade Show Interactive Ideas

Trade show interactive kiosk game

Creating a trade show interactive requires a shift in perspective. Marketers and agency creatives have expertise about their company and client brands. They represent those brands in digital marketing campaigns, print ads, direct mail, and other mediums.

Now, the goal is to create activities that help trade show attendees experience, absorb, and retain brand elements and competitive advantages.

You can get inspired for your own trade show interactives by:

  • Deep understanding of your target audience: What industry are they from, their level of management seniority, their main job responsibilities, their worries, and their aspirational goals. And what do they look like demographically – their age, gender, education level, and level of introversion/extroversion.
  • Knowing your company’s brand personality – is your company reserved or playful, youthful or established, risk-taking or conservative, and more.
  • Surveying your current and planned marketing: What current marketing campaigns are working well in other media? What promising new campaigns could be morphed into an interactive experience?
  • Looking at examples inside and outside your industry: Have you and your team experienced an interactive at a trade show that wowed you? Not to rip them off, but to examine the effective elements of their trade show interactives, and as inspiration to raise your game.

Trade Show Interactive Games

Trade show interactive game display

Exhibitors love trade show games because they give attendees a fun, non-threatening way to enter their booth and enjoy themselves. Games shake attendees out of their trade show stupor and put them in a more heightened state. At that point, exhibitors can more easily engage their booth visitors in meaningful discussions.

Trade show interactive games can run the gamut from an off-the-shelf activity that sits on a table top or fits in the hands of attendees, to large-scale customized tech marvels played on a stage and overseen by a game host.

The best trade show games not only fun for attendees, but also:

  • Match the exhibitor’s brand (visually with colors, logos, images, and fonts, plus also emotionally with the brand’s personality)
  • Integrate with and educate about the exhibitor’s marketing message, so while attendees have fun, they also go home better informed about the exhibitor’s products, services, benefits, and advantages
  • Use technology well, so attendees quickly grasp how to play the game, and have a smooth, enjoyable experience that matches or exceeds their expectations from consumer technology
  • Are affordable and easy to implement, because exhibitors don’t have excess time or budget for any promotional activity – too often, exhibitors skip promotional activities because they run out of time or budget.

Trade Show Interactive Touch Screens

Trade show interactive touch screen displays

For many exhibitors and attendees, touch screens are an integral part of any trade show interactive. Perhaps the most common tech used in trade show booths are iPads and other tablet computers. Those touch screens allow visitors and booth staffers to navigate websites without a mouse or keyboard.

Exhibitors also design trade show interactives that leverage the touch screen in every visitor’s pockets: their smart phones. This can include creating interactives that encourage or require smart phone use, such as sharing photos with show-specific hashtags in order to win a prize.

To stand out even more, exhibitors go beyond iPads and smart phones in two meaningful ways: First, they use larger touchscreens, and second, they use more sophisticated media than websites.

While an iPad allows for a personalized, one-on-one experience, a larger touchscreen monitor lets groups of attendees engage with a presentation or an app. Exhibitors can build their trade show activity within a custom app that allows for bigger impact, still using the navigational superiority that a touch screen provides.

Custom apps deployed on large touch screens powerfully digitally portray and explain physical products. Prospects can interact with product specs, videos, literature, 3-D product models, capabilities, uses, and more.

While most custom apps let attendees navigate information brought together especially for the trade show experience, other custom apps can take visitors on a digital journey. This may be a game, a self-driven presentation, or more.

Trade Show Interactive Tech With Virtual and Augmented Reality

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are two of the more popular of the higher tier of technologies for trade show interactives.

Virtual Reality allows exhibitors to create trade show interactives that give attendees an even more personalized and sensory experience. Virtual Reality surrounds and submerges attendees within a digital world that portrays your products, locations, games, and customer experiences.

Augmented Reality overlays computer-generated images, animations and objects over real objects seen through the view of a smart phone or iPad. trade show interactives. Attendees enjoy the interactive aspect of Augmented Reality as they digital elements appear and move, prompted by where the attendee aims the iPad.

Trade Show Interactive Kiosks & Displays

Exhibitors searching for trade show interactive kiosks and displays can widely range in size and substance:

  • An iPad stand that holds their trade show interactive application
  • A small part of their overall booth, meant to provide more interactivity with attendees, with or without digital technology
  • A comprehensive, experiential trade show marketing campaign, hosted in most or all of their booth space

The first two choices are more common and manageable for exhibitors. Plug-and-play trade show interactives give exhibitors the freedom to experiment with various promotional campaigns as they move through their trade show schedule. Trade show interactive kiosks and smaller displays also let exhibitors integrate the same promotional idea in a wider variety of booth sizes.

When ambitious exhibitors decide to host an experiential marketing campaign, they desire trade show interactive displays in the largest sense of the concept. These exhibitors want their display to act as a stage to host the activity. So rather than design their booth around the usual company features, benefits, and product images, their display instead is designed to facilitate the interactive experience itself. At this point, the exhibit and the experience are combined.

Are You Ready For A Trade Show Interactive?

Trade shows continue to thrive as a marketing medium, because they get thousands of potential buyers in the same big room as sellers. But, to get those attendees into your booth and then have a meaningful, memorable experience, more and more exhibitors are relying upon trade show interactives. Hopefully this article has given you additional insights into what these interactives are, and how they can improve your trade show performance.

This blog post originally appeared here.

03 Aug 16:33

5-Step Plan to Penetrate the Market in 90 Days (In Any Industry)

by Susan A. Enns
5-step plan to penetrate the market image

If you only had 90 days to penetrate the market and produce sales, what would you do?

While you could come up with a complicated plan that won’t deliver results for half a year or more, you can get better results, faster, by implementing a DRIP Marketing Plan.

Keep reading to learn how to put together this 5-step plan — and penetrate your market in just 3 short months.

DRIP: The Secret to Reliably Penetrate the Market

In sales, no matter how much you may wish otherwise, the fact is a prospect buys on their own timeline. Not yours.

If they won’t buy today, you must develop a plan to stay in touch until they do.

You need a sales engagement plan to deliver those touches. And you need to take a multi-touch approach, so the effort comes off as natural and organic.

Enter the drip campaign

benefits of drip campaigns infographic

Now, traditionally, it was thought that 7–10 touches were required to engage prospects and get them ready to talk to a sales rep. And for that, an automated email series stood out as the best way to deliver those touches.

As it worked.

For a time.

But studies are showing that the old B2B sales and marketing mix isn’t working anymore. In fact, BrightFunnel report found that from 2014 to 2015:

  • It took 52% more marketing touches to close a deal.
  • The total number of touches were evenly split between pre-sales (53%) and the sales cycle (47%).
  • The length of lead-to-revenue cycles increased by 32%.
  • Tech marketers had to nurture leads 12+ months before they hit the sales pipeline.

Clearly, a typical, email-only drip campaign isn’t enough.

Which is why my team and I developed a system to penetrate the market with Directed Relationship Intervention Prospecting (DRIP).

Think relationship selling, sales prospecting, and lead nurturing all rolled into one.

A well-designed DRIP Marketing Plan ensures you stay in frequent contact to build a relationship with the prospect over time. Then, when they are ready to buy, they will think of you first — and will either reach out to connect with you or will be ready to start the sales process when you contact them.

Like the old-style drip campaign, each touch is a drip of water. On its own, it might not amount to much, but over time, every drip adds up to a very large pool.

But with our updated DRIP approach, you’re taking a much more strategic approach to prospecting and lead nurturing — which will help you penetrate the market in record time. Keep reading to learn how to put it to work in your sales process starting today.

Here’s how to create your DRIP Sales Plan to penetrate the market in 5 Simple Steps:

  1. Define your target market
  2. Outline prospect pre-qualification guidelines
  3. Create a list of potential prospects
  4. Initiate first contact using a diversified prospecting approach
  5. Stay in contact until the buying cycle dictates opening the sales process

Step 1 – Define Your Target Market and Create a Prospect List

Shotgun methods of prospecting may produce results, but it really is sheer luck if they do. The chances that you happen to knock on the right door, or dial the right number, at the exact time a prospect is ready to buy are actually quite slim.

Granted, sales is a numbers game. You already know you have to make a certain number of calls to find one prospect. But what if you could improve the odds?

If it used to take you 20 calls to find one prospect, how much more would you sell if it only took you 10 calls?

The fact of the matter is where you prospect is as important as how much you prospect. In other words, you should spend your time where you have the greatest chance of making a sale today.

It is dangerous to believe that every company can and will buy your product or service.

For example, if you sell restaurant supplies, it is unlikely that you will make any sales to retail clothing stores. You would be better off not even trying to in the first place!

To maximize your prospecting time, you need to clearly define the types of companies that will most likely buy your products. This definition is commonly referred to as your target market, and it is essentially a description of your current and future customers.

RELATED: 4 Steps to Create a Buyer Persona Sales Reps Will Use (Template Included)

This description should include:

  • the industry they operate in
  • the size of the company, perhaps based on the number of employees
  • the products they buy
  • the competitors they buy them from

Be aware, your target market definition may be more specific, depending on the product or service you sell.

The best way to define where to spend your prospecting efforts is to analyze where you have been successful in the past. Make a list or spreadsheet of all of your last quarter’s sales, and cross reference it to your target market definition, with a separate column for industry, size of business, geographical location, etc.

Do you see trends emerge? Do you make more sales to certain sized companies in particular industries in specific geographical markets? Chances are you do, and that is where you should be spending your prospecting time.

Step 2 – Outline Your Prospect Pre-Qualification Guidelines

Just as it is dangerous to assume that every business can buy from you, it is just as dangerous to believe that every business within your target market can buy from you at any time!

To successfully penetrate the market, you need to know how often your prospects buy your products. In other words, how long is the typical buying cycle.

This is not the same as how often customers use your products, but rather how often they renegotiate the contracts for their use. For example, you use your car every day, but you only buy a new one every few years.

Knowing where your targets are in their buying cycle ensures, not only are you in the right place, but you are there at the right time. To find this out, you need to develop pre-qualifying questions before you start prospecting.

Asking the right questions can help you determine whether you’re spending your valuable sales resources with the right company (and at the right time).

Here are some sample pre-qualifying questions:

  • How many people are employed by your company?
  • Do you currently use widgets?
  • Who supplies your widgets?
  • How many widgets do you use on a monthly basis?
  • Many users of widgets also tend to use gadgets. Do you as well?
  • How long have you been dealing with your current supplier?
  • How long have you been using your current system?
  • When did you last negotiate your current contact for widgets?

RELATED: Disqualifying Prospects: 50+ Sales Leaders Share Their Best Methods

Step 3 – Create Your Prospecting List

Now that you have defined your target market and when they typically buy, the next step is to create a list of companies to contact.

Creating a prospecting list can be quite simple. The information you need is readily available from several different sources.

Business Directories – A quick Google search will yield many online directories, many of which can be viewed on the internet at no charge or downloaded for a nominal fee. Some sites to look for include municipal government directories, business associations, the Chamber of Commerce, Boards of Trade, and even the Yellow Pages.

List Brokers – Purchased lists tend to be more expensive, but the benefits of working with a detailed and segmented list may make the investment worthwhile. If you choose to go this route, don’t skimp. A low-quality list broker will often deliver a list that’s old and outdated, making the investment all but worthless.

LinkedIn – Although you can use any social media platform to generate sales leads, the main site for B2B leads is LinkedIn. You can search by company, job title, industry and geographic location. Since every user maintains and updates their own profile information, LinkedIn is the most current and most accurate source for prospecting lists available.

Referrals – Considered by many to be the most valued and effective lead source, studies show very few sales people ever ask. If are one of those sales people, check out this video to get detailed scripts on how sales people should ask for referrals.

RELATED: Why The Sales World Sucks at Earning Referral Business and How You Can Change The Game

Step 4 – Initiate First Contact

Now that all the necessary prep work is done, it’s time to start contacting the companies on your prospect list.

The purpose of your first call is to obtain the name and contact information of the Key Decision Maker (KDM) within each company. A very effective opening greeting that I have used for years is:

“Hi, I hope you can help me today. I am looking for the name of the person in charge of purchasing widgets.”

One of the reasons this greeting is so effective is the job description of the receptionist. We tend to think of them as only gatekeepers; however, in reality, they are responsible to greet and assist all those that call the company they work for.

The chance of any receptionist saying “no” to your request for help in the first sentence is extremely remote. If they did not want to help, they would not be receptionists in the first place!

Also, note that the greeting specifically asks for the name of the person. If you just ask to speak to the person and they are not available, your call could end without you gathering any more information than you had before you made the call. All you have done is waste your time.

By asking specifically for the name of the person, no matter what happens in the rest of the call, at least you have gathered the name of your key contact.

If they are not available to speak with you now, you at least you have their name for next time and can open your second call with, “May I speak to John Doe, please.”

This alone makes your prospecting effort worthwhile!

Lastly, and most importantly, the greeting asks for the person in charge of purchasing your product.

If you don’t actually use the word purchasing, often you’ll get the name of the person who operates or uses your product, as opposed to the name of the person responsible for buying it.

RELATED: A 5-Step Discovery Call Checklist Proven to Increase Conversions by 580%

While important in the process, operators rarely have the authority to make the final buying decisions. Those decisions are normally made by someone higher in the organization, someone who has budget accountabilities for product purchases.

Please note, although you are asking for the person in charge of purchasing your product, you are not actually asking for someone specifically in the purchasing department.

A purchaser’s role is to execute a purchase for a product based on another department’s purchasing criteria. Unless you are selling purchase order forms, your key contact is the person in the other department.

After your opening greeting, be sure to confirm the KDM’s complete contact information, including Proper spelling of name, title, email address.

Even if you don’t talk to the KDM in the company now, your prospecting call doesn’t have to end there. Ask the receptionist your pre-qualifying questions just as you would if you were speaking to the KDM.

The more information you can gather, the better.

In other words, your prospecting call is considered successful if you answered the following questions:

  • Is this company really a prospect?
  • If yes, are they a prospect today?
  • If not today, then when?

If the prospect passes all you pre-qualifying criteria, and you think they are a prospect today, great! Book your Fact Find appointment and open the sales process.

If not, file it in your CRM system until the prospect’s buying cycle determines further sales contact.

Remember, sales is a numbers game. When doing your first contact calls, you need to be persistent. The chances of you connecting on your first try aren’t great.

As I discuss in detail in my webinar training video, You Can’t Sell Unless You Get In The Door! – How to prospect the executive suites using today’s technologies, use a diversified prospecting approach, including email templates, telephone, and other prospecting techniques, and execute your prospecting activity on a planned schedule.

Step 5 – Stay in Contact with Your DRIP Marketing Campaign

How many sales touches you make, or how often you “drip” your prospects, will depend on your product and the average prospect’s buying cycle. However, there are some general guidelines you should keep in mind:

If the buying cycle of the prospect indicates he will purchase your product within the next six months, the frequency of contact should be at least once per month until you obtain the Fact Find appointment.

If you believe the prospect will purchase in the next year, the minimum frequency should be once per quarter, moving to once per month in the last six months before the purchase.

When the prospect is not likely to buy for a few years to come, you should contact them at least once per year, and then increase the frequency as time goes by.

If you are not sure of the customer’s buying cycle, or you sell the type of product that can be purchased whenever the prospect sees fit, contact should be made at least once per quarter until you determine otherwise.

As stated earlier, you want to stay in touch with your prospects, so when they are ready to buy your product or service, they think of you first.

The point being, you really can’t stay in touch too often. When in doubt, make the follow-up call!

The Bottom Line to Penetrate the Market in 90 Days

No matter what we do as sales professionals,

  • The fact is prospects buy on their own time frame, not ours.
  • The key is to create a very simple and repeatable process you can implement to stay in touch with prospects so you stay “top of mind.”
  • In sales, “top of mind” means “top of the leader board.”

Remember as the old sales saying goes, “Failure is the path of least persistence.”

The post 5-Step Plan to Penetrate the Market in 90 Days (In Any Industry) appeared first on Sales Hacker.

03 Aug 16:32

Inbound Sales 101

by Dan Moyle

We’ve all heard the mantra that the internet has changed the way we do business. Whether it’s video content to bring prospects to your brand, or it’s humans deleting cold emails, there’s no denying that it’s more difficult than ever to reach our customers.

HubSpot is the torch bearer of inbound marketing. Their work led to the launch of inbound sales. But what does that really mean? And can any business put this to work?

First, let’s look at what inbound sales means.

Inbound sales is a sales strategy and methodology that prioritizes the needs, challenges, goals and interests of individual buyers. Forget focusing on closing the sale as soon as possible. Instead, inbound sales professionals know they need to meet consumers where they are, and then guide them through the decision-making process. It’s less about push, and more about helping.

In short, inbound sales is a personalized, helpful, modern sales methodology that focuses on a prospect’s pain points, develops a trusted consultant-user relationship, and turns the traditional sales process into a buyer’s journey.

Got it? Good. Now let’s look at how you can implement inbound sales in your business, on your sales team, or for yourself.

journey sign showing the buyers journey and inbound sales 101

Define Your Buyer’s Journey

Unfortunately, humans are creatures of habit and finding the path of least resistance. This is true of legacy sales teams as well – they’re human after all! These teams build their sales process around their own needs, not the needs of their buyers.

Too often legacy salespeople ignore the needs of the buyer and fail to support them through the purchasing process. Instead, they tend to focus their energy on simply following a checklist and checking the boxes a sales manager laid out for them.

As a result, the seller and buyer feel misaligned. Worse yet, this self-serving process delivers minimal value to the buyer. Buyers don’t want to be treated like another number; prospected, demoed, and closed. This traditional, legacy path add zero value to the buyer. They can find all the information they would get in these meetings without a sales rep. Sales doesn’t hold that information any longer.

If sales can’t add value beyond the information buyers can find on their own, the buyer has no reason to engage with salespeople at all.

An inbound sales team turns the table, starting with understanding the buyer’s journey. Before they ever pick up a phone or send an email, they make it a priority to understand their buyer’s universe.

It helps to think of the buyer’s journey in three parts:

Awareness

Consideration

Decision

Awareness

In Awareness, buyers know the challenge they’re experiencing or have a goal they want to pursue. This is where they decide whether it should be a priority.

Want to fully understand your buyer’s awareness stage? Ask these questions:

  • How do our buyers describe the challenges or goals we can help with?
  • Where do buyers go to learn more about these challenges or goals?
  • How do buyers decide whether the challenge or goal should be prioritized?

Consideration

In Consideration, buyers have a clearly defined challenge or goal. They’ve committed to addressing it. Now they’re evaluating different strategies, tools, and methods available to solve for their needs.

You can begin to understand your buyer’s consideration stage with these questions:

  • What categories of solutions do our buyers investigate?
  • How do our buyers perceive the pros and cons of each category?
  • What differentiates your category in the buyer’s eyes?

Decision

During Decision, a buyer has decided on a solution category. Now they’re looking for a business in this category. They may create a list of specific offerings or brands, and decide on the one that best meets their needs. They could also make this decision very quickly without a list. That’s why inbound marketing is so important to this journey.

Understand your buyer’s decision stage by asking yourself these questions:

  • What offerings do your buyers typically evaluate?
  • How do buyers evaluate available offerings?
  • What differentiates your offering in the buyer’s eyes?
  • Who needs to be involved in the decision? Are there different decision makers whose perspective on the decision you need to address?

Develop a Buyer-Focused Sales Process

You want to support your buyer through their journey. Once you’ve defined that journey, your next step is to build your sales process. An inbound sales process supports the buyer through their purchasing journey rather than focusing on the sales team’s process. With this culture in place, salespeople and buyers feel much more aligned through the buying and selling process. They’re not at odds with each other.

As you begin to develop an inbound sales process, dig into what your salespeople can do at the awareness, consideration, and decision stages to support your buyers.

I’m a fan of HubSpot’s four-part framework for your sales process. They call it the Inbound Sales Methodology:

Identify

Connect

Explore

Advise

HubSpots inbound sales methodology

Identify

First, an inbound sales team identifies strangers who may have goals or challenges they can help with. Consider these strangers leads now that you know who they are.

Connect

Next, inbound sales teams connect with these leads. Here they help the leads decide whether they should prioritize the goal or challenge. At this point the lead becomes a qualified lead if they decide to move forward.

Explore

Third, inbound sales professionals explore their qualified leads’ goals or challenges. Here you’re assessing whether your offering is a good fit for the qualified lead and their needs. Good fit? These qualified leads become opportunities.

Advise

Finally, inbound salespeople advise opportunities on how their company’s offering is best suited to address their needs. If the buyer agrees, these opportunities become customers.

Understanding Inbound Sales Versus Outbound Sales

If inbound sales are sales that come to you, then it follows that outbound sales are sales that you went out and won on your own.

You reached out (probably more than once), spoke with a lead over the phone, through an unsolicited email message, or a cold social media outreach, and finally achieved the sale.

With outbound, you’re convincing the client on how your solution fits their needs, oftentimes even before they know they have a need. This cold outreach and convincing model often takes a long time and a lot of resources. This is an outbound sale.

Inbound sales is newer and shinier than its counterpart. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only way, or that outbound is dead. Most businesses find they need both working together to achieve maximum sales.

You can use inbound methods to support outbound efforts.

Align Your Sales Process and Your Customer Journey

If you know your different buyer personas and their journeys, you should adjust your sales process and align it to that journey as best as you can. That way, you’ll make sure that you’re providing the most personalized experience possible.

Sure, you could throw it all out and start over, but that’s not likely to happen. Bringing the two together can help you drive growth and revenue. Evolution is often better than starting over.

Using Social Selling to Connect With Leads

One inbound tool you can use with inbound sales and outbound sales is the practice of social selling. Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and others allow your customers to connect with you more directly than ever before.

This also means salespeople can use the platforms to build relationships with potential prospects and monitor social conversations that affect your business world. Then they can join them at the right time and to present their solution. People do business with people they get to know, like and trust. Your sales team is that face of the solution you’re offering.

Get better at social selling with a few tips from Hootsuite:

  • Concentrate on listening and monitoring first (to jump in at the right time)
  • Present yourself in a personal but professional way
  • Always provide value to your leads when you’re interacting with them

Go Forth with Inbound Sales 101

As we move into the future, and the relationship between business and buyer evolves, inbound sales shows off the true psychology of sales, marketing, and customers. The process works fluidly with many purchasing patterns and tactics worldwide.

You’re a customer. The next time you buy something, take a step back and consider the three steps of Awareness, Consideration, and Decision. How did you become aware of the fact that you need or want something? How did you consider if it’s the item you really want to buy? And how did you decide whether or not to make that final purchase?

Then put that experience to work for your sales team.

Sales deal photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash
Journey photo by Clemens van Lay on Unsplash

03 Aug 16:31

Outdated SaaS Sales Tactics and What You Should be Doing Instead

by Judy Caroll

Software end users keep changing. This is especially true for the new end users. Their mindset and what tickles their ears and interests are not quite the same as those of past customers. We have the internet to thank for all types of information accessible to us at just one simple click. It has also allowed buyers to connect with their peers much faster which means that they can get their opinions about a product or service they are possibly interested in before they spend their money to buy it.

With this, we also need to understand that this is not the only change happening in the SaaS buying process. It is crucial that we also change our tactics and how to go about marketing and selling SaaS to customers. Meaning that there are certain sales methods that don’t work as effectively anymore and we have to adapt and upgrade our strategies as well.

Let us start by looking at what doesn’t work for SaaS anymore and what you can do to improve your software sales strategies.

#1 Inbound Reliant

If you take a good look at any great SaaS company, you will see that they all have good marketing systems. They have a big percentage of activities that focus on new business opportunities every single day, making sure that they are testing them and optimizing those activities.

The mistake here is that most of the time we focus too much on inbound marketing. It’s like being able to create a really cool product, but barely anyone gets to know about it. If we solely rely on inbound marketing, it’s less likely we’ll see revenue.

What to do?

The answer is very easy! In this case, we highly encourage that you consider that you go outbound. By using outbound lead generation strategies, it will make reaching prospects much easier. All your tools are readily available as well. Sales prospecting calls and email are essential outbound tools that you shouldn’t abandon. As for social media, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are powerful tools as well.

#2 Limited Trial

Every consumer has experienced this one too many times. You download software off of the internet that allows you to use its full capacity for a limited trial period, and most of the time the trial period os much shorter than the time you were able to fully maximize and explore all its features. It’s really frustrating on the consumer’s part. And what does that in return mean for you? Well, it drives another possible consumer away from your product. They will be hesitant towards buying your product because they weren’t able to fully explore all that it had to offer to begin with.

What to do?

In this case, it is wiser to get rid of the limited trial period and convert it into an unlimited one. Hear me out! We suggest that you have the premium features available for the user to enjoy and explore for a limited time. However, when the special feature’s time is over, it is better to still keep the trial available for the consumer to use. That way, possible clients won’t shy away from your product and have a little more time deciding on buying the full version of your software.

Another option is for you to tease them with key premium features that stay locked unless they buy the full version of your software. Once they realize that these specific features are important and useful to their tasks, they will easily decide to go for the full version instead. See? It’s a win-win situation for both parties.

#3 Overselling

Back in the days, you would have to yap about your product almost 24/7 in order to land a sale. Meetings had to be conducted in person, and because it was so time-consuming to drive or fly out to meet with a client, you would have to sell the heck out your product which leads to overselling and overpromising the capability of your product. If you oversell your software, you’ll lose customers quicker which will bring damage to your brand instead of revenues.

What to do?

Don’t hurt your brand. Overselling, fortunately, doesn’t work anymore nowadays. Again, thanks to the internet, you can speak to your clients more frequently now through various channels and FAQ’s to keep them in the loop and to be always ready to entertain their concerns. Say, you have a 28-56 sales cycle days, you won’t have to worry about gasping out all the details in one breath and you won’t have to overpromise to make sure they’ll ‘take the bait’. There is going to be a sense of frequency with your clients, so be honest, open, and in touch.

#4 Teamwork Wins. Always.

If you’re still struggling with keeping your sales up even after you’ve done all you can, then maybe it’s high time to change things. The days of having to sell all by yourself are gone. It is always better to go and seek out help than wasting time trying to figure out how you can do it on your own because, let’s face it, you can’t. No one can.

What to do?

We suggest that you seek out a sales coach or appoint a manager to put together a solid sales team. Leave the sales strategizing to them. This way it will boost and improve your sales performance and you can focus on other important aspects of your software business. If you still lack in manpower, then the best solution for you is to outsource a team of competent and professional salespeople who can aid you in this task. It is tested and proven that teamwork always wins.

Conclusion

So, now that we’ve talked about the different SaaS sales tactics that we should abandon or upgrade, sound off in the comments what other strategies should be a thing of the past and what could be their remedies.

This article is originally published at The Savvy Marketer.

03 Aug 16:30

Stay on Top of the Competition: Improve Your Lead Management

by Kimberly Grimms

Business is about revenues and driving better ROI. To generate revenue, you need to have sales. To sell something, you should have buyers. To have customers, well… therein lies the challenge.

As time passes by, the marketing landscape changes fast. Strategies that have worked before might not work now; so they must be evaluated and re-evaluated for you to stay in the competition in your industry. Most believe that more lead conversions result in higher ROI; this is why a lot of marketers search for the best lead management tools they can use. After all, it can be argued that increasing sales is not always about generating new leads; rather, by maintaining the leads you already have and keeping them coming back to you. Doing so will not only increase the quality of your leads, but it will also help you lessen your marketing expenses since your loyal leads can refer you to new users who might be interested in trying out your products and services.

What about converting your potential lead to an actual lead? Here, conversion rate optimization strategies come into play. Before we define what conversion rate optimization (CRO) is, let us first define conversion. Conversion, as Moz defines it, “is the general term for a visit or completing a site goal.” This goal may be to make a sale, signing up for newsletters, or downloading an app. CRO, according to Moz, “is the systematic process of increasing the percentage of website visitors who take the desired action.” It is about finding out what your visitors do on your website, knowing what stops them from converting and fixing this problem.

There are different factors why your visitors are not converting into leads. It might be because of competition in your industry, a change in your consumer’s expectation for customer experience, to name two. While all leads are important, priority must be given to leads who are ready to purchase. Leads who are not ready to make a purchase should be nurtured towards readiness. The goal is to make your prospects become customers.

In this article, we will discuss lead management strategies you can try, identify areas for improvement, and lead management software and tools you could use to help you enhance your game and optimize your ROI.

What is Lead Management?

sales funnelPhoto courtesy of mohamed_hassan via Pixabay

Think of a funnel. The top of a funnel is wide, and it narrows towards the bottom. Sales are like that. At the top, you have your leads or potential customers. In the middle, you sift your leads and reach them, to find out if they are legitimate prospects. This is also the stage where you engage with them to turn them into customers. At the bottom of your funnel is your paying customer—the lead who availed of your products and services. This whole process of converting your leads into customers is called lead management. Simple as it may sound, it is a complicated process that changes.

Lean Management Strategies to Try

Manage Lead Information

markus spiskePhoto courtesy of Markus Spiske via Unsplash

Observe your visitors and their behavior on your site. This will help you get an idea on what they’re looking at, their status in their buying journey, and the probability of them buying your product or services. Having valuable insights into your lead’s behavior will give your marketing people an idea on which marketing tactics and campaigns best communicate to them. This will help your sales representatives personalize their sales efforts to successfully turn your lead into a customer. If it seems overwhelming for you to manage your lead information, it will not hurt to try using lead management software to lessen the weight of your work.

Score Leads

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A lead score permits you to assign values to the demographics of your lead and/or your lead’s behavior on your website. The scores generated will give you an idea who among your leads are ready to move into sales and who need to be nurtured into making a purchase soon. A higher lead score will be given to a lead who is likely to purchase a product or service from your company. Having a lead scoring will help you understand the interest levels of your lead and determine which leads to weed out. VanillaSoft is one of the best lead management tools you can use for lead scoring.

Sort Leads According to Buyer Personas

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Leads are different and will earn different lead scores. It is best to sort them based on your buyer personas; doing so will increase your lead management CRM. Buyer personas are a detailed sketch of a customer. It may include characteristics, motivations, needs, wants, and preferences. Identify how the products and services you offer can satisfy the objectives of your persona. Refine your persona, as the marketplace evolves. Remember that a lead may not perfectly fit a specific buyer persona you create.

Distribute Leads

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Once you have sorted your leads, distribute them to your marketing or to your sales representatives, depending on their score and personas. Your leads who are ready to buy should be assigned to sales representatives who can assist them through their buying journey until they make that purchase. Leads who are not ready to make a purchase should be assigned to marketing representatives. These representatives have the goal of persuading them through persona-specific contents see why they must avail of your products and services.

By efficiently and effectively distributing your leads to the right representatives, you are making sure that none of your leads go to waste and that all leads are being taken care of. It improves your lead management CRM, as it ensures that your assigned representatives can contact and engage with your leads, making them more likely to buy from you.

Nurture Leads through Persona-specific Contents

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Persona-specific contents will make your leads feel that you are customer-oriented. Since buyer personas have unique needs and requirements, approaching them with accurate content that meets their needs will make them more likely to avail of products from you and trust your brand. This will increase the conversion rate on your website. For example, your lead who is not ready to make a purchase might still be in the research phase. If your representative can nurture that lead by sending relevant content such as product overview and promotional offers, then it could help influence their decision. Note that even when your leads become customers, you should still nurture them and make loyal customers out of them. You can do this by offering content that features other relevant products and services they could avail of in the future. These could also be related to their previous engagements with you. You can also ask for their feedback to help improve your strategies.

Consider the media through which your lead engage in social media, email, mobile, and others since you want to ensure that they will actually receive your content.

Observe and Adjust

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Lead management is continuous and ever-changing. Diligently observe the business conditions and market signals, and make adjustments based on the trends. Lead-management operation and strategies should be evaluated at least once a month, to ensure that you are on the top of your game. Moreover, the information you generate form your lead management CRM will provide you with up-to-date statistics regarding the quality and quantity of your leads as well as the efficiency of your website.

As mentioned, you can and must add feedback and suggestions from your customers to improve your relationship with them. This will tremendously help improve your strategies, drive better customer experience, and increase your ROI.

Lead Management Software to Try:

Lead management can be overwhelming. Lead management software and tools can be very beneficial in ensuring the efficiency of your strategy. Here are five lead management software that can help you with your lead management CRM:

HubSpot Sales

HubSpot Sales is an all-in-one software geared towards generating leads, increasing revenues, and exceeding customer expectations. This software can be used for free by

your lead management team. You can start using this software for free as an individual salesperson and USD400 a month for sales teams.

Freshsales

Freshsales is a simple and easy-to-navigate CRM designed for high-velocity teams. This software is known for its ability to depict where leads come from. Its analytics and report system are very detailed and organized. If desired, it can also use different filters to summarize your data, giving you the freedom to organize your results, based on your objectives.

You can avail of Freshsales’ 21-day free trial. After which, you can choose among the four paid options they offer, with prices depending on the scale of your business. An annual payment option is also available, which can save you money compared to paying monthly.

Pipedrive

Pipedrive is one of the easiest sales tools to use. This software is customizable, depending on your preference; and you can choose to stay logged in constantly to make sure you can observe how your lead management is working. Pipedrive sorts your leads and helps you approach each type of lead effectively without wasting too much time. They offer three options with varying prices, depending on your needs and budget. The most popular is the Gold option which costs USD29 per user if billed monthly. Paying annually will give you a 17% discount.

Pardot

Pardot is B2B marketing automation and lead management software. It is known for enabling marketing and sales teams to set up, deploy, and handle online marketing campaigns to improve ROI. It is available in three package options to power your marketing pipeline.

Oxyleads

Oxyleads is also a B2B data and lead generation software. Using it will enable you to build contact databases on functioning emails of companies and contacts you are targeting to engage with. They have four pricing options which can be paid monthly or quarterly.

Conclusion

A lead management strategy varies from business to business. Lead management CRM should be flexible and can easily be adjusted to suit your business goals and objectives. When choosing a lead management software for your business, know your needs and budget, first. Then, make sure that the software you choose is efficient in delivering your goals and objectives and is worth your money. You can also opt to find a reputable marketing agency to help you maximize your business’s ROI.

When thoroughly thought out, your lead management strategies could produce significant savings and time for your business, yield to a good collaboration among your marketing and sales teams, and help you gain and maintain customers.