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20 Jul 16:49

Why Nobody Answers the Phone Anymore – Not Even My Mom

by A.C. Evans

Have you ever wondered why it’s so hard to get people to pick up the phone? The CEO and co-founder of, an SMS industry expert and the pioneers of conversational texting, joins us for a guest blog on why over 80% of consumers won’t be picking up phone calls in 2019.

The Anatomy of Attempting a Phone Call

During my commute home, I’ll often call my closest friends, family, and co-workers to just check in unannounced. This is about the only time I make unsolicited phone calls because this is usually the result:

Call my best man Tim: Two rings, sent to voicemail.

Call my co-founder and CTO: call answered.
The call transcript:
Anthony: “Is this urgent?”
Me: “No, I was just…”
Anthony: “Ok, I really can’t talk, in the middle of something.”

Me: 🙁

Call my wife: no answer.

Call my sister: Text back: “I’m still at work.”

Mom…my mom will always answer my calls: Goes to voicemail, get a semi-automated text: “I’m busy, what’s up?”

“I’m busy, what’s up?” is the response I get from calling my own mother. She obviously has too much going on to take a quick phone call, but she’s happy to engage in a potentially drawn-out text thread.

Getting Phone Calls Was Once Rad, Now Bad

So what has changed since the time where we actually liked getting phone calls? Let’s rewind to 25 years ago when I was 12 years old to find out. Back then the home phone rang, my sister and I would literally fight our way through the house to the kitchen to earn the privilege of answering the phone so we could see who was calling firsthand.

Today, even though everyone is positively glued to their smartphones, most people would sooner cut off their own arm than to tap the green answer call button. Even if it’s from their OWN SON, apparently. I’d like to think that it’s not just that my friends and family don’t like me enough to talk to me on the phone. So what gives?

Sure, we all have to deal with the deluge of scammy robocalls, which makes the sound of your phone buzzing about 900% more annoying than it used to be. Hopefully, new FCC rules will help with that, but this still does not explain why my mom thinks it’s cool to ignore my calls. Or why I also disregard phone calls from my friends, family, and coworkers.

The simple answer is that we’re too busy with other stuff and we have a ton of non-voice phone call ways of communicating with each other now. In the blissfully internet-free early ’90s, my sister and I were bored to death. The only practical way to communicate was to go knock on your friend’s door or call them on the phone. To further illustrate how utterly bored we were, we had one of those TVs with the bunny ears (plus tinfoil for extra signal) and about 12 fuzzy channels. The only value it brought us was TGIF (thank you Urkel!).

It would be years before Blockbuster Video had gone nationwide and a decade before on-demand video would be available for the most affluent of households. It really wasn’t that long ago that the only thing you could get ‘on demand’ was PIZZA! Domino’s was the tip of the spear in a trend that would change the face of commerce and communication worldwide.

The Smartphone Ruined the Joy of Phone Calls

Today, we have these magical devices called smartphones in our pockets. Whether they be iPhones or Androids (or Blackberries if you’re my COO), these phones and their addictive apps and games assure that we may never be bored again. I can download a book on my phone, listen to podcasts, pause live television, record a ton of shows remotely that I’ll never get to on my DVR. If I need a ride I don’t have to sit around and wait for a friend to pick me up. Just click and there’s an Uber. I don’t even have to go to the store anymore because Amazon can get just about anything to my door in a day. (Ok, fact checkers, for Akron Ohio the best case is 2-day prime, but you get the point.) Just like optimizing a landing page and removing friction for higher conversion, they’ve removed the friction and inconvenience of having to leave the house. Hell, if I want a date tonight (yes, even in Akron), I can simply swipe right.

So with all of this opportunity to entertain herself, my mom ignores my call and texts me back to tell me she’s busy.

Texting is the On-Demand Phone Call

The psychology here on the passivity of communication is interesting, but what it comes down to is that texting is ‘on-demand’. Each party, my mother and myself, or business and consumer, can do it when it’s convenient for them. There’s much less pressure or expectation to immediately reply. It’s not that people don’t want to talk, they just want to do it on their own terms and timelines.

We have, in many cases, replaced a five-minute phone call, with a five-day conversational texting thread. All, conceptually, for the sake of convenience. Do you know what’s not convenient? Taking an unscheduled, unwanted call, when you have something more important or interesting to be doing.

A comedian recently said that calling him without sending a text first is like walking in his living room without knocking on the front door. While that is funny, for businesses that need to contact their consumers, it’s not a joke. Even if we’re talking about calling someone who is already your customer with a legitimate business purpose (helping them fix their account, etc.) if you do it out of the blue, they are going to feel like you are invading their privacy. Now, if you’re calling to upsell a customer or ringing up prospects, hell, you might as well kick down their front door at dinner time and spit in their mac and cheese.

Getting people warmed up with conversational text messages is that knock on the door. It’s you saying “hey, I’m your neighbor and I’m here to help. Let me know when it’s a good time to talk!” Then your customer can hit you back when they have some spare time and either finish the transaction over a text thread or schedule a time that works well for them. This makes the customer way happier to talk to you and far more likely to convert.

Check out this post to see how to prevent barging into your customer’s lives and connect with them via text message to increase your sales. You may even be able to use some of these tactics on your mom.

20 Jul 16:42

Primed for Disruption: 12 Wacky Amazon Patents Fueling the Future of Fulfillment

by Linda Bustos

With 2018’s Prime Day moving over 100 million products (expected to grow this year) — fast and reliable fulfillment is top-of-mind for the world’s largest retailer. And it’s no surprise Amazon’s so patent-happy when it comes to improving logistics.

We’ve rounded up 12 of the wackiest ideas Amazon’s patented (so far) that could forever transform fulfillment as we know it. While there’s no guarantee they will see full fruition, these filings give us a glimpse into the Jestons-like world of future-fulfillment.

Optimizing Delivery

Anticipatory shipping

Amazon’s Anticipatory Shipping patent (filed in 2011) is the foundation for a wide range of disruptive fulfillment innovations.

Anticipatory shipping uses predictive analytics to move inventory to geographies and locations closest to where it’s most likely to be purchased. Predictive algorithms leverage regional trends in search, browse and purchasing as well as items sitting in carts and wishlists to determine when and where orders will likely be placed. Items or groups of items can be pre-packaged and shipped to stationary or mobile warehouses in these regions.

Getting pre-packed orders as close to the customer as possible reduces transport costs and supports same-day and even same-hour delivery (by human, robot or drone).

Airborne fulfillment centers (AFC)

Anticipatory shipping aims to reduce last-mile delivery and support same day or even same hour fulfillment. One proposed way of storing and deploying packages is the airborne fulfillment center (AFC) — a FedZeppelin, if you will.

amazon airborne fulfillment center patent

At 45,000 feet, helium-powered blimps hold goods and drones that can be stationed near urban centers or stadiums, beaches, fair grounds and anywhere a surge of demand is expected at a given time. For example, temperature-controlled drones can carry food and beverages to offices, sporting events, festivals or wherever people get the munchies. AFCs may also be used to display advertising.

To replenish inventory, the patent outlines “shuttles” that could carry drones and people from the ground to the AFC. And to optimize delivery, “smart drones” share data about weather, wind and delivery routes between each other in real-time.

Parachute delivery

Dropping parcels from the sky carries risks of damage, especially for products like electronics and…nacho chips. Naturally, Amazon has patented parcel parachutes that can slow parcels’ descent and minimize breakage. A package’s trajectory may be controlled by pneumatic actuators, electromagnets and spring coils controlled by its drone, which hovers nearby should the parcel veers off course due to wind or other factors.

amazon parachute delivery patent

One proposed method for the Aerial Package Delivery System bakes parachutes into shipping labels, complete with cords, sensors and even shock absorbers to ensure soft and precise landings. Labels will be equipped with appropriate chuting based on package weight and size.

Parachuting parcels saves drone battery life and allows them to stay at high-hover, protecting them from theft and damage.

Mobile containers

Amazon warehouses may soon ride the rails. Intermodal vehicles (shipping containers) can be transferred from ships to trains to trucks. Wireless networks transmit orders to these micro-fulfillment centers, signalling robotic arms to load goods onto delivery drones that fly out the top of the containers.

intermodal vehicles patent amazon

Pop-up warehouses

Like pop-up shops, transient warehouses stay on-the-move and can be placed in locations more convenient for last-mile delivery trucks than large centers in the outskirts of town — for example, parking lots or under the bridge downtown. Combined with anticipatory shipping data, Amazon could uber-optimize transit times within specific locations when order density is expected to spike — especially helpful for perishable items and those that require temperature control.

transient warehouse amazon patent

The beehive / drone airport

Most of today’s large fulfillment centers lie on the outskirts of major metropolitan areas. Amazon would like to see warehouses built up, not out, as multi-level “beehive” structures within the city.

amazon beehive warehouse patent

The hives may hold humans and robots, and will certainly house drones as worker bees — the unmanned aircraft could fulfill hundreds of thousands of same-day deliveries.

El Chapo tunnels

Should drone airports fail to fly, Amazon has a back up plan. Through a matrix of underground tunnels, conveyor belts and pneumatic tubes could shuttle packages directly to warehouses, airports, railways, locker storage sites and even consumers’ homes.

subterranean delivery network amazon patent

Robot roommates

To solve the current problem of packages left on doorsteps (and the future problem of no one home to catch a drone-drop), Amazon’s AGV (autonomous ground vehicle) patent proposes retrieval robots stationed within homes and other buildings. Equipped with sensors and GPS, these bots can fetch packages from nearby trucks, drones, lockers and more.

The patent suggests multiple robots could be summoned within a neighbourhood to a single delivery truck to maximize efficiency. The bots would be notified in advance of the truck’s arrival.

I suspect Amazon sees retrieval robots as one way to eliminate courier and postal service costs entirely. Combined with smaller, self-driving mobile fulfillment stations and drones, Amazon can own its fulfillment journey end-to-end.

Optimizing pick-and-pack

Underwater storage

Picking and packing multiple items in a large warehouse requires a lot of walking, consuming precious time. Standard warehouse shelving systems also use space very inefficiently.

Amazon’s Aquatic Storage Facilities patent aims to solve both these problems. Liquid-filled environments (water or other viscous substance) allow for packages to be stored and retrieved in more efficient and compact way. Depth control devices determine how buoyant packages are, allowing them to be stacked in layers.

amazon aquatic storage tank

Tanks feature inlets and outlet chutes for packages, sonars, jets, conveyors and “flexible bladders” to buoy parcels to the surface. When a package is ready to surface, sonars emit an “acoustic tone” that triggers an inflatable mechanism within bladders containing their own air tanks and computer processors to communicate with sonar.

aquatic storage facility patent amazon

Ultrasonic wristbands

Amazon hopes to pair ultrasonic devices near inventory bins and wearable wristbands to help warehouse workers store and retrieve items more accurately. Incoming inventory is typically placed in bins before shelving, which can be difficult to keep track of in large warehouses. Locating bins takes up a significant amount of time — especially when they look the same and may change contents day-to-day.

The Wearable Haptic Feedback System equips workers with wristbands that track their movements around the warehouse and monitor hand movements, including timestamps for given actions. Ultrasonic pulses guide workers to inventory bins and provide instant “buzzer” feedback if they make errors placing or pulling product.

haptic feedback system patent amazon

Some view the haptic track-and-shock system as draconian. Amazon’s defense is wearables replace handheld scanners routinely used to check inventory and fulfill orders, and relieve workers’ eyes from computer screens. “Like most companies, we have performance expectations for every Amazon employee and we measure actual performance against those expectations, and they are not designed to track employees or limit their abilities to take breaks.”

AR spy goggles

Amazon has also patented augmented reality goggles for use in training and to provide turn-by-turn directions and more for both human and robot workers. Despite their cool-factor, AR goggles have drawn even more criticism than haptic wristbands. With the potential to track walking speed, dwell time and eye gaze at all times, folks wonder whether the glasses are truly intended for optimization or surveillance.

ar goggles amazon patent

Rock ‘em toss ‘em robots

Robotic Tossing of Items in an Inventory System equips sci-fi robots equipped with “sensor packages” can detect product attributes like weight, size, shape, material, RFID serial numbers and more. Based on these attributes, the robot can determine the best way to toss the item safely and accurately.

amazon robotic fulfillment patent

Jury’s out on how realistic these hair-brained innovations are, and how likely Amazon is to bring them to life. If anything, they’re a hedge they can leverage should they hold any value or competitive advantage.

How will future-fulfillment impact you?

As a consumer

As an Amazon shopper or Prime member, expect your orders to ship even more quickly and efficiently thanks to optimized warehousing and delivery. As a citizen, you may find working around drones and retrieval robots is a nuisance.

As a business

With Amazon aggressively expanding its B2B marketplace, B2B buyers and procurement departments can take advantage of faster and potentially more reliable delivery. These innovations may attract even more suppliers to the marketplace, looking to take advantage of these perks.

As a merchant

Innovative warehousing and fulfillment infrastructure makes FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) and even more attractive option for retailers. As customers increasingly demand same-day shipping, using other 3PL solutions may quickly become a competitive disadvantage. We may see Amazon licensing its patented tech, operations and logistics infrastructure to third parties such as FedEx and UPS, or we may see these slow-to-adapt companies die off.

While many of these patents sound like pure science fiction, we can’t wait to see how future-fulfillment will impact digital commerce.

20 Jul 16:42

6 Google Ads Targeting Hacks to Lower CPCs and Boost Sales

by Nicole Blanckenberg

Do you want to keep your Google CPCs low while still reaping big rewards – heaps of converting traffic? Of course you do!

That’s the ultimate eCommerce traffic goal, isn’t it? Finding those unicorn Google campaigns that bring highly-targeted traffic packed with high-intent buyers for the least amount of spending possible.

We may all be aiming towards these unicorns campaigns, but without a good Google Ads targeting strategy, getting there can be easier said than done. And how do you tweak your strategy to lower CPCs? We’ve got just the Google Ads targeting tips and hacks for you, whether you’re totally new to Google Ads or a seasoned marketing expert who needs ideas to improve your stats.

Google Ad Targeting Hack 1: Go Deep With Your Remarketing Audiences (Basic)

We know that remarketing campaigns can be fantastic for your bottom line. The secret to Google remarketing campaign success, though, is being as detailed as possible with your remarketing lists. Let’s say you’re running a campaign that targets previous traffic that visited your home page. The results may be okay, but to really win, you want to narrow down that targeting further.

Instead, you could segment your targeting to those visitors who visited your home page and a specific product page or category. This way, you can tailor your messaging to traffic that has shown interest multiple times. The more segmented and specific you are, the lower your CPCs and the higher your chances of conversions will be.

Newbie Tip: If you are brand new to Google Ads, head over to our step-by-step Google Ads Remarketing guide.

So, how do you drill down targeting for your Google remarketing campaigns? The first place you want to look is Google Analytics, for your traffic flows/behavior.

how to see traffic flow on store

With these flows, you can get an inside look into the routes your traffic is taking once they get to your site. This data is very valuable as it allows you to create more defined remarketing segments and refine your messaging – making your campaign more personalized. In a nutshell, the smaller (more segmented) your audience is, the higher your chances of conversion at a lower cost.

Google Ad Targeting Hack 2: Mix Remarketing and In-Marketing Segments (Intermediate)

Once you have mastered the basic Google targeting hack above, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and take your retargeting ads to the next level. An in-market audience is described by Google as,

“A way to connect with consumers who are actively researching or comparing products and services across Google Display Network publisher and partner sites and YouTube.”

How Google determines their in-market audiences is by assessing clicks to related ads and conversions from those clicks, which sites they visit and how often, and the content of the pages or sites they visit.

Using in-market audiences with remarketing isn’t as complicated as you may think; you can select a list of in-market audience categories for any Search ad campaign:

Targeting > Interests and Remarketing > In-market Audiences.

Why is this so handy? By layering in-market audiences with your highly segmented remarketing campaigns, you are essentially narrowing them down even further to target only those people in your remarketing lists who are very actively interested in what you are selling. All while retaining relevancy – which keeps your CPCs down – and improving conversions.

Google Ad Targeting Hack 3: Building Your Own Custom Affinity Audience

Have you experimented with Google’s custom affinity audiences yet? Using custom affinity audiences, similar to intent, enables you to create an audience that targets potential shoppers by the types of products they are interested in and the types of media they are consuming.

Newbie Tip: You can create this audience by going to your audience lists, clicking ‘Custom’ and navigating to ‘Interests & Remarketing.’ From there, you can select ‘Custom Affinity Audiences’ and then ‘Create new.’

This will give you a lot more targeting control over your Google Display Ads and is excellent for building your online brand.

Google Ad Targeting Hack 4: Upgrade Your RLSAs (Expert)

The next Google Ads targeting tip we recommend for keeping CPCs low and chances of conversions high, involves tailoring your bids and targeting to traffic behavior. Think of it this way: it’s segmenting down your audiences further, beyond that we’ve already shown you above. Your goal is to have more campaigns to smaller segmented audiences, than fewer campaigns to bigger audiences. RLSAs play a big role in achieving this. Here are two examples:

Example 1:

Let’s say you are now running Google remarketing campaigns based on specific traffic flow (hack 1) and their intent (hack 2). You could then create a new remarketing list that includes conversions from that specific campaign. But if you really want to segment your target, you may then split those conversions based on what they bought or how much they spent, i.e. average order value.

Example 2:

Another way you could get creative with your RLSAs is to set up a campaign that bids on a competitor’s term that is served to a remarketing audience. This means you are targeting previous traffic that is currently searching for products very similar to yours only. You can take that further by creating an RLSA list that only includes conversions, thus ensuring you have an increased likelihood of conversions while making sure you are spending on profitable customers.

Getting creative with your RLSAs is what separates the newbies from the experts, and can have a considerable positive effect on your bottom line. However, like with any Google element, it’s going to take tweaking and testing. Head over to our 11 RLSA Strategies guide for more inspiration.

Google Ad Targeting Hack 5: Mix RLSAs With Social Audiences (Expert)

As any successful eCommerce store owner will tell you, if you want awesome eCommerce traffic, you need a cross-channel strategy. It is not enough to have Google or Facebook campaigns, and it’s still not enough to have campaigns on both platforms without an integration strategy. You need a cohesive cross-channel marketing strategy. This is where combining RLSAs and Facebook comes in. The benefits are huge:

  • Being able to target similar shoppers on Facebook from successful Google campaigns
  • Integrating ad elements, like headlines, on various channels
  • Boosting Google conversions with Facebook and vice versa

google ctr increase with facebook

  • Taking your Google campaign to new heights with remarketing

Let’s look at the last benefit in more detail and see why it makes our top Google Ads targeting hacks list.

Let’s assume you are running a successful Facebook campaign that’s using lookalike audiences to attract new potential shoppers. By creating an RLSA that targets traffic generated from that campaign with specific keyword strategies, you then have a bigger chance of converting those shoppers. Why? Because you are able to target potential shoppers who are actively looking for what you are selling and already familiar with your brand.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on creating your first cross-channel campaign:

Step 1: Create a Facebook awareness campaign aimed at attracting new potential shoppers. Make sure you remember to add exclusions so that you prevent previous site visitors or customers from being included.

Step 2: Use UTM tags so that the clicks from this campaign audience will then be added to your analytics.

Step 3: Create an RLSA list based on the audience list from the Facebook campaign results in your analytics, and create a new Google remarketing campaign from this list. You want to make sure that it includes your top funnel keywords at a campaign level.

Step 4: Use ad groups to experiment with bids and create more specific ads based on traffic generated by this Google remarketing campaign.

For a full cross-channel strategy that combines the power of Facebook with Google, check out our full Cross-Channel Strategy Guide.

Google Ad Targeting Hack 6: Up Your Long-Tail Keyword Game (Basic)

When it comes to basic and expert targeting tips for Google ads, no list would be complete without mentioning keywords. Why? Because, as we know, keywords are an essential part of your Google targeting strategy. Using only general keywords with high competition doesn’t just mean you could be stuck with very costly clicks; it may also mean less-targeted traffic, which in turn means less conversion potential. This is where your long-tail keywords come in.

[Image Source]

Let’s say you have an online apparel brand that sells leggings. Bidding on the keyword ‘leggings,’ for example, could be very costly and bring lots of traffic that may be looking for a type of legging you are not selling. AKA untargeted traffic. Instead, you could use ‘where to buy the best yoga pants,’ for example. Yes, long-tail keywords have lower search volumes, but they also have less competition, are cheaper and allow you to target shoppers searching for very specific things, therefore creating a more personalized ad.

keyword research for leggings store

By expanding this term to be more specific, you will face less competition (CPCs) and more chances of conversions.

This strategy isn’t exclusive for Google Ads; it should also be part of your eCommerce SEO strategy. Here’s a guide from keyword research experts Ahrefs.

And that’s it; six Google Ads targeting tips and hacks to boost conversions. Like with any Google Ads tips, we always highly recommended that you test and tweak new targeting for your specific niche, audience and brand to find the winning formula for you. Don’t be afraid to get creative!

Have Google targeting questions? Post them in the comments below; our Google Ads experts are standing by!

20 Jul 16:37

The Biggest Sale You Will Ever Make

by Mark Hunter

The biggest sale you will ever make is very similar to the biggest sale I ever made. The biggest sale you will ever make is the one you make to yourself when you start believing 100% that you can make a difference because of what you sell and the outcomes you create.

Find out more about your biggest sale in this video:

When you make the firm commitment and truly jump the shark, cross the threshold and shift your mindset to helping others, you will begin selling to yourself. If you’re able to sell to yourself, the door will open for you to begin confidently selling to others.

No one goes into sales thinking they will fail, yet this is what I see happen with far too many people. When I talk with these people, their excuses for failing are typically, “the price was too high,” or they tell me, “my leads were bad,” or “nobody wanted what I was selling.” I could go on and on about the excuses I’ve heard.  Rarely, do I hear a salesperson call themselves out and their lack of action as the reason for their failures. You control far more than you realize, and more importantly, you control your mind which is the most important part of you. What you think and how you think impacts both you and your customers.

Success is never guaranteed, however, it certainly is more probable with people who believe in themselves and how they can help others. The biggest sale you will ever make is to the customer you see every single day. You actually live with that customer, and you know them better than anyone. This customer is you, so it’s your job and only your job to close the sale.

Close the biggest sale you’ll ever make, and you’ll begin opening up more relationships than you ever dreamed possible. This gives new meaning to a phrase I use, “we don’t close customers, we open relationships.” When we open relationships, we will naturally create the next sale, the next sale, and the next sale.

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 Results

19 Jul 16:18

How the Internet of Things will transform consumerism, enterprises, and governments over the next five years

by Shelagh Dolan
  • The Internet of Things is fueling the data-based economy and bridging the divide between physical and digital worlds.
  • Consumers, companies, and governments will install more than 40 billion IoT devices worldwide through 2023.
  • The next five years will mark a pivotal transformation in how companies and jurisdictions operate, and how consumers live.

Being successful in the digital age doesn’t just require knowing the latest buzzwords; it means identifying the transformational trends – and where they’re heading – before they ever heat up.

IoT Forecast BookTake the Internet of Things (IoT), for example, which now receives not only daily tech news coverage with each new device launch, but also hefty investments from global organizations ushering in worldwide adoption. By 2023, consumers, companies, and governments will install more than 40 billion IoT devices globally. And it’s not just the ones you hear about all the time, like smart speakers and connected cars.

To successfully navigate this changing landscape, individuals and organizations must understand the full extent and functionality of the “Things” included in this network, the key drivers of each market segment, and how it all relates to the work they do every day.

Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has forecasted the start of the IoT’s global proliferation in The IoT Forecast Book 2018 — and the next five years will be transformational for consumers, enterprises, and governments.

  • Consumer IoT: In the US alone, the number of smart home devices is estimated to surpass 1 billion by 2023, with consumers dishing out about $725 per household — a total of over $90 billion in spending on IoT solutions.
  • Enterprise IoT: Comprising the most mature segment of the IoT, companies will continue pouring billions of dollars into connected devices and automation. By 2023, the total industrial robotic system installed base will approach 6 million worldwide, while annual spending on manufacturing IoT solutions will reach about $450 billion.
  • Government IoT: Governments globally are ushering in IoT devices to spur the development of smart cities, which would be equipped with innovations like connected cameras, smart street lights, and connected meters to provide a real-time view of traffic, utilities usage, crime, and environmental factors. Annual investment in this area is expected to reach nearly $900 billion by 2023.

Want to Learn More?

People, companies, and organizations all over the world are racing to adopt the latest IoT solutions and prevent growing pains amidst a technological transformation. The IoT Forecast Book 2018 from Business Insider Intelligence is a detailed three-part slide deck outlining the most important trends impacting consumer, enterprise, and government IoT — and the key drivers propelling each segment forward.

Representing thousands of hours of exhaustive research, our multipart forecast books are considered must-reads by thousands of highly successful business professionals. These informative slide decks are packed with charts and statistics outlining the most influential trends on the leading edge of your industry. Keep them for reference or drop the most valuable data into your own presentations to share with your teams.

Whether you’re newly interested in a topic or you already consider yourself a subject matter expert, The IoT Forecast Book 2018 can provide you with the actionable insights you need to make better decisions.


Join the conversation about this story »

19 Jul 16:03

Setting Your Sights on 2020: How to Brew a Forward-Thinking Marketing Strategy

by Elizabeth Williams

The high-pressure marketing budget and strategy planning season seems to kick-off earlier each year. It’s as if your boss is asking you to magically construct the perfect strategic and tactical mix at the right budget for 2020, without having enough of 2019 under your belt to predict the best approach. After all, you don’t know what the future holds, right?  As they say, hindsight is 20/20. So, why not leverage that to get some 20/20 foresight? Like you, we at TopRank Marketing don’t have any magical crystal balls or employees with psychic powers. We don’t use witchcraft to brew mystical marketing love potions. And we certainly don’t engage in any sorcery with enchanted mirrors, but we’ve honed our craft over nearly 20 years and we do find plenty of value in reflecting. Just a mystic or a wizard or an enchantress gathers their crystals, herbs, or sacred artifacts, you too have transcendent tools available to you. Read on to learn how you can cast your spell, summon your marketing spirit, or connect with marketing’s natural elements to create a strategic 2020 marketing plan—without relying on the supernatural.

Research: The Magic Ingredient for Concocting Any Marketing Strategy

As a marketer you don’t know what you don’t know. And, that’s okay. Clairvoyance is not part of the job description. Begin your brew with some thoughtful research.
  • Keep up with the latest trends. Is there a new tactic or strategy you should be testing?
  • Read case studies from other B2B businesses. What’s working for them?
  • Re-research your audience. Are your assumptions correct? What has changed since last year? What hasn’t? 
  • Bonus. Learn like polymath Bill Gates and the likes, by dedicating 5+ hours per week to learning. Polymaths lead in their field by becoming competent in at least three diverse domains and integrating learnings into their current skill set.
via GIPHY Now that you’re tuned up, use your knowledge to spark new ideas, strengthen your plan recommendations, and back up your recommendations with solid rationales.

Data: Unlocking Insight to Season Your Potion

Every wizard, witch, psychic, or gifted mystic has had to spend a great deal of time to unlock the power inside themselves, you too must devote time to understand one of your most powerful tools: data. Anyone can come up with a striking idea, but it takes a special marketer to use data and unlock the insights within. Try this approach to uncover what you need to know to inform your marketing plan:

Gather the Data and Dive In

Leverage your tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to pull data from all of your tactics in the past year, including campaigns and ongoing programs.  You can also gather audience data and benchmarks from the research you’ve been doing.  Don’t be afraid to spend a little time diving down rabbit-holes. At this annual reflection point, what better time to dig into an unnoticed trend or insight? [bctt tweet="Don’t be afraid to spend a little time diving down rabbit-holes. At this annual reflection point, what better time to dig into an unnoticed trend or insight? - @ElizabethW1057 on 2020 #MarketingStrategy" username="toprank"]

Confirm Your Benchmarks

Look across your data to establish benchmarks fit to your brand that will be valuable in informing your decisions. Again, feel free to check out industry benchmarks, but remember your brand is a unique situation. For instance, are you a startup looking to create a demand for a new niche? Or are you an established enterprise looking to increase market share?

Unlock the Insights

Now it’s time to turn that data into something you can use. Look for trends, outliers, big successes and big failures. Each one can teach you something and guide your 2020 plan to be more strategic.  Here’s a simple example of how you can go from data, to benchmark, to insight, to 2020 tactics:
  1. In your latest campaign, you saw 2,652 sessions to your asset 90-days post-launch.
  2. Across your last 4 campaigns, you’ve averaged 2,002 sessions to your asset 90-days post-launch. 
  3. Nice! Your latest campaign drove 32% higher sessions. But why?
  4. You used email as an additional promotional tactic this time. And, email accounted for 27% of your total sessions.
  5. Let’s use email in all of our campaigns that target this audience, and explore a more robust, ongoing email program.
  6. Bonus: 75% of your influencers amplified your asset, driving 22% of the total campaign traffic. But, did they have enough reach, with the right people, to make it worth it? Were there other benefits of including influencers? To understand the impact of your influencer work better, add researching new measurement techniques to your “to do” list.
via GIPHY Yes, there are many more metrics, variables, and considerations than simply number of visitors or a single promotional tactic, but you can leverage this approach to unlock some actionable insights from your data. Harness the positive vibes you uncover to inform your marketing plan, and bring your findings to the table to back up your recommendations.

Partners: Adding Natural Elements to Bind the Brew

Now, it’s time to combine elements for a comprehensive strategy.

Stay Grounded: The Earth Element

To enable your success, you must stay grounded. It can be easy to go heads down in planning after one quick conversation, but avoid the temptation. There is nothing worse than presenting a complete marketing plan to a room full of confused faces because you missed the core objective or are suggesting using a new tactic that just failed in another business unit. Chat with your budget stakeholders early and often about:
  • Are we aligned on the objective of my work in relation to the company’s business goals?
  • What are you looking for me to achieve in 2020?
  • Do you have any marketing strategies or tactics in mind that I should be considering? Or avoiding?
  • What does my 2020 budget look like?
  • Are you expecting any cuts? (Budget prioritization tips here)
  • What have senior leadership or other BUs been talking about that I should be aware of?
[bctt tweet="When you go into 2020 planning mode, stay grounded by circling the wagons with stakeholders early and often. @ElizabethW1057 #MarketingStrategy" username="toprank"]

Seek Collaboration: The Water Element

The water element governs relationships, and it changes shape based on whatever vessel contains it. Use the people around you to gather and mold your ideas this planning season.  The information you gather from your internal teams can be an unmatched input for keyword research. It can also guide your influencer research, inform your tactical mix, or simply spark new ideas or ways of looking at problems.
  • Your customer service team can tell you all the questions customers are asking about your product or service — what drives customers nuts and what they rave about.
  • Your sales team will know every detail about what makes a customer want to buy versus what stands in the way of a sale. They also probably have competitive insights on the marketplace and know who influences their prospects. Just ask them!
  • Your product team probably briefs with you ever so often, but have you talked to them lately? There might be a feature or benefit that you’ve yet to focus on, or not highlighted enough. With the insights you’ve gotten from customer service and sales, you’ll know just what to do with the product info.
  • Though often difficult to get in front of, your senior leadership will have invaluable insights into the company’s direction. Keep up on any content they’re publishing or sharing on social. And, when you get the opportunity to connect, be prepared with thoughtful questions and discussion points.

Get Transformative: Fire Element

Transformation, passion, and action are the domain of the fire element. Your marketing agency should embody this completely.  Every fruitful client-agency partnership is rooted in a collaborative passion and drive for your success. So, who better to ask for help on your 2020 marketing plan? Your agency should have its finger on the pulse of the latest marketing strategies, tactics, and measurement techniques. And, it should be a consultative partner, giving you what you need to make the case for your 2020 budget. Tap your agency for anything from an informal brainstorm to proposing new ideas and tactics, and from campaign extension ideas to full collaboration on your entire plan. 

Seek Reflection: Wind Element

The final element is wind or air. Air is sometimes a harsh element. It cuts away the nonsense and gets us right down to the facts. This is where your plan comes together and you begin to shine.  Collect everything you’ve researched, studied and gathered, and reflect. Wipe away your emotions and what you feel like you should do. Give new ideas space to grow and be molded by your data and what you learned communing with your teams. 

Unleash Your Mystical Marketing Strategy Planning Abilities

You started making your magic marketing potion with research, filled it to the top with data and sprinkled in all of the world’s natural elements. Now, the power is in your hands.  You’re ready to concoct your 2020 marketing plan. Don’t hesitate to check back in with your team while you brew. Gather their feedback and refine, because collaboration is how the magic happens.  Would an agency partner be helpful for your 2020 planning? We’d love to help. Get in touch today.

The post Setting Your Sights on 2020: How to Brew a Forward-Thinking Marketing Strategy appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

19 Jul 16:02

Bank of America's CTO says he's a 'sociologist and psychologist' when it comes to shutting down old tech. He told us how he decides to pull the plug.

by Dan DeFrancesco

Boville_Headshot 2019

  • Howard Boville, Bank of America's chief technology officer, explained to Business Insider how he approaches shutting down technology projects. 
  • Boville said getting humans on board with changes is far more challenging, and important, than the technical aspect of switching out old systems or tools. 
  • Bank of America has made a big push towards retraining employees, and hopes to increase the amount of internal candidates it hires for open positions. 
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories. 

Bank of America's chief technology officer, Howard Boville, says he spends a lot of his time thinking about people problems.

That might sound odd coming from a tech executive at one of Wall Street's biggest banks. But Boville says that dealing with humans, not computers, is the most important consideration when deciding if and when existing systems or tools should be shut down. 

"You become more of a sociologist and a psychologist than you do actually a technologist," Boville told Business Insider. "It's one of the most difficult things to do, because you get people that are really emotionally attached to something."

Read more: Bank of America is putting the finishing touches on a 7-year cloud journey its CTO says has saved the bank billions and improved customer interactions

Knowing when to shut down — or "sunset"—  a system or tool is a constant focus for technology executives across Wall Street. Traditional banks may be feeling constant pressure from startups to innovate more quickly, but deciding when to pull the plug is equally important. 

Even systems that launch successfully and prove good for the bank typically last just five years, Boville said, and it's important to make a definitive end date clear from the start. 

"They build the thing and they get very emotionally attached to it, therefore we won't get off it," Boville said.  "You've got to almost make a decision the day you make it, but be very committed over that five-year term to derive the most value from it."

And even when an end date for a technology system is set, there's still likely to be friction. Touting metrics about a replacement's efficiencies will only goes so far, Boville said. People want to know how the change will affect them personally: What's in it for me? Why would I do this? 

It's essential to get inside employees emotional psyche, understand what someone's reservations might be, and address them, Boville said. 

As a result, Boville finds his team spending more time on how the tech gets adopted and incorporated than the build out or launch.  

"When you do it well, we can change the silicon overnight," Boville said, referring to the actual technology. The human, or "carbon," aspect is trickier.  "If you do it well, it'll take about 18 months to get the carbon to come alongside."

See more: Bank of America's CTO explains what's holding him back from moving to the public cloud, even as the rest of Wall Street gears up for the switch

Not taking steps to ensure employees are willing to use a new tool or platform can be disastrous — if the appropriate adoption plan isn't put into place, there's a chance it will go completely unused. 

"They've got the Ferrari in the garage, but they are hitching a horse to the front of it to pull it along," Boville said. 

Employees often fear that their jobs will be replaced by new tools, which further complicates things. A report by IHS Markit in April estimated 1.3 million US workers will face job losses or reassignments in 2030

Boville doesn't believe the future is so dire. Humans will always need to work hand-in-hand with technology, and it's just a matter of what they'll be doing, he said.  

Bank of America has invested heavily in retraining and reskilling its employees. It offers nearly 720 courses across 13 topics for the 95,000 people in its global technology and operations business. More than 423,00 courses have been completed so far. 

Boville said the classes also help the bank with its goal of filling more roles with internal candidates. Boville estimated it takes between six and nine months for a new hire to get up-to-speed.

"We don't think that there's going to be a massive reduction in the number of people we need," Boville said. "We think there's going to be more work that needs to be done even in disciplines we haven't even thought about yet."

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: What El Chapo is really like, according to the wife of one his closest henchman

19 Jul 15:59

Hiring, Firing, and Inspiring with the McDonough Brothers {Hey Salespeople Podcast}

by Paige McCauley

What are the odds that 3 brothers all end up in sales? How does that even happen? Jeremey and the McDonough Brothers – Jeff, Jim, and Mike – discuss their career journeys and what they have learned along the way.

Get ready for triple the guests, triple the actionable advice, and triple the fun in this unique episode of the Hey Salespeople podcast. The brothers dig into what they look for in potential new hires, what to do about bad hires, and the pros and cons of promoting from within. Don’t miss the piece of advice each brother would give their younger self or a new salesperson.

Listen to this episode for answers questions like:

  • How does fighting fires and selling software overlap?
  • Who claims they are the best brother?
  • How do you detect a bad hire, and what should you do about it?
  • What did Jim learn as a bartender that later helped him in sales? 
  • What do each of the brothers wish they had known 10 years ago?

Listen here, and keep reading for some of the highlights from this episode below.


Jeremey: Jeff, you had the opportunity to recruit a hundred people at Seismic. When you were building the inside sales team, what do you look for when you are recruiting talent?

Jeff: For us at the Seismic early stages, we needed to find the hungriest people in Boston. We wanted to find people that would literally run through a wall. I mean, in one of my interviews I asked somebody, give me an example of when you’re competitive because everyone says they’re competitive.

He gave me an example when he fist fought his cousin at a party which was very minor. And you know, I’m laughing and I’m looking at him and he’s looking straight through me. He’s not laughing, he’s dead serious. I said, wow, man, I could see you running through a wall right now. He said, if you want me to try, I’ll do it. We want people that are that kind of hustle, that aren’t going to make excuses and can deal with rejection. 

I said, wow, man, I could see you running through a wall right now. He said, if you want me to try, I’ll do it. We want people that are that kind of hustle, that aren’t going to make excuses and can deal with rejection. 

So we interviewed to those skills. We tried to base the conversation and have them tell us stories about how they were that type of person. However, it’s different levels. So if they are BDRs, it’s about building blocks. To become a really good AE and inside sales closer, you need to have that hustle, you need to have that thick skin, but you also need to be naturally curious. If you’re over the phone closing, you need to learn everything that you can’t see in the room so you could ask the right questions. You’ve got to figure everything out and be able to put puzzles together. That builds the field sales. 

You need to have those building blocks and then you need to be really savvy in a room. You need to be presentable, you need to know how to read a room. You need to know how to push at the right time. I think the most important thing with hiring and even so with all my clients now, everyone has a different set of criteria but sitting together and then interviewing for those skill sets that you want to see.

You can’t be afraid to make a mistake either. If you’re growing a business like a Seismic or a Threat Stack or like the hundreds of companies in Boston that are growing really fast, you’re going to miss every now and then. But if you stay true to what you’re looking for and you don’t get gun shy, you can figure it out pretty quick.

Jeremey:  Mike, since you’re hiring enterprise sales folks over there, what do you look for when you’re hiring someone who’s capable of being a successful enterprise seller?

Mike: I really liked the idea of promoting internally, so folks that have been in that BDR role or maybe they’ve managed an inside sales team. I always look at that team first. Now having said that, you can only have that if you’re building out a team from 5 to 10 to 15. One, it’s not scalable to do that. Two, you need folks that do have closing experience as well. It’s one thing to have people that know the product, the people, the process internally. Now we just have to work with them on some of those closing motions and how to sell and go deeper into accounts and those things.

Then there’s the flip side of bringing in folks that don’t know the product. They don’t know the people in the process internally, but they’ve got X amount of years of selling experience. What I’ve learned through some trial and error is maybe they haven’t been selling in my space per se, but ideally I would like to see folks that have been selling into sales and marketing before. What I’ve seen is folks that have been selling, let’s say into IT for a very long time, and then try to make a switch over to sales and marketing.

It’s just a really different type of conversation. Not to say that you can’t do it, but folks that have been calling in to CMOs and VPs of Marketing and CROs and Heads of Sales  usually make a much better transition to where I’m at.

Jeremey: There are people who sell at the 10k price point and then at 100k, 1 million, 10 million, etc. Do you try to look for people who have been selling at the price point or have you found that does not matter?

Mike: It doesn’t have to be apples for apples, but like there’s a big difference between a transactional sales model where you’re closing 20 deals a month over the phone on a credit card. That’s a unique skill set to have in itself that I’ve never done. Now having said that, there’s a big difference between saying, hey, I’m closing five deals all year, but it’s gonna be X amount of millions of dollars. It’s just a different skill set. I’m not saying that you can’t make a leap up or down, but it’s a pretty big gap you have to cover when you could say, hey, we have two call closes opposed to a nine month sales cycle.

Bad Hires

Jeremey: The cost of a miss is considered to be very high. How do you detect a bad hire?

Jeff: I think if people are honest with themselves, you know pretty quickly. If it was a miss, you know. We only had a couple misses at Seismic, but we knew right away. I think the cost becomes expensive when you don’t act on it when you’re afraid to address it.

If you’re afraid to make the move and you just carry them on for too long, not so much their output because you’re never going to get a lot of output from a bad hire, it’s the other players that you have around them that suffer. They see you carrying dead weight. It kills the morale, putting people on long plans that they hit once and you ended up having them for 60 days and stuff like that. It’s just bad for the locker room, so I think the costs from a bad hire can be mitigated a little bit if you can act on it pretty quickly.

Great Hires

Jeremey: Jim, who’s the best hire you’ve ever made and what made them so special?

Jim: The best hire I ever made was a woman named Pia Heilman. I hired her as a BDR at Mashery, the API management company that I worked for based in San Francisco. She came in as a BDR. She’s just like Type A personality. Somebody who just constantly pushing herself to get better. Fast forward seven or eight years and she was actually Director of Sales for me at Threat Stack. I’ll probably be working for her someday if she’ll hire me.

You know, she’s one of those people that every single person that interviewed her was like, okay, what do we have to do to get her on board? She was actually already in a closing role and we convinced her to come on as a BDR cause we had a really quick path to closing. So she came on, took that risk, and her career has just taken off since.

Jeremey: We actually looked at 1,500 SDRs who got promoted to AE at various companies and we actually found that the signals are that the person was in a closing role and willing to take that step back and do a BDR for the fast path and maybe they got a closing opportunity very early in their career and they wanted to move up and do a better company that may be sold at a higher price point. I presume that was what she was after.

Jim: Yeah, that’s exactly right. She was in more of a kind of high velocity inside sales model where you hire somebody that has little to no sales experience and they come in as a closer right away. You know? I think that’s great and that model works, but I do think if you want to be truly great in this profession, putting a year in or even just six months in at that SDR level, there is nothing better than that. You really learn how, not only how to sell, but just to be able to deal with the grind that is sales.

THERE’S A LOT MORE AFTER THIS! Listen to the full podcast for more.

If you have a passion for the art and the science of sales, are looking to further your career, or just want to hear some great, practical tips, ‘Hey Salespeople’ is the podcast for you. Subscribe so you can follow along as Jeremey interviews the brightest minds in modern sales to bring you immediately actionable advice. Listen and subscribe here.

19 Jul 15:58

How to Generate Leads With Content Marketing

by Lilach Bullock

How to Generate Leads with Content Marketing

If you’re looking for one of the best ways to generate leads for your organization, look no further than content marketing.  

Demand Metric revealed that content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as traditional marketing. And costs 62% less.

Content marketing generates 3X as many leads as traditional marketing.
Click To Tweet

Having said this, executing content marketing the wrong way will lead to poor results and frustration. For instance, in a study by CMI, only 30% of B2B marketers say their organizations are effective at content marketing.

Content Marketing Statistic

Content marketing statistic graphic courtesy of Demand Metric

In this post, I’m going to show you 6 effective ways you can start implementing today to generate leads with content marketing.

Step 1: Create a buyer persona

Capturing the wrong leads is as bad as capturing no leads. In fact, it’s probably worse because you’ll waste your resources on a lead that’s unlikely to be your customer. 

Therefore, when I talk about generating leads, I mean generating the right leads. And to do this, you need to specify the type of people you want as your leads. 

A buyer persona is a fictional document that contains the details of your ideal customer. Some of these details are their:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Income
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Ambition
  • Solutions they’re looking for
  • Decision-making ability

RELATED PODCAST: How to Create Customer Personas for Your B2B Marketing

This buyer persona should contain as many details as possible. Having buyer personas make your content focused on attracting these type of people.

Of course, you can have a few buyer personas depending on the products you sell or services you offer. You can use the Facebook Audience Insights tool in the Facebook Ads Manager to find more details about your ideal audience. 

Facebook audience insights

Step 2: Leverage content syndication

Having valuable content on your company blog can bring in many leads for your business.

But what if you have an obscure blog that nobody reads? Then the great content that you’ve put a lot of effort in would massively underperform. A way out of this challenge is content syndication. 

What is content syndication?

Content syndication is the process of having your content on third-party sites that are more popular than yours and reach a much bigger audience. 

You get exposure for your content and the third-party website gets free content they can use to satisfy their audience. When you syndicate your content aimed at capturing leads to a website with your ideal audience, it’s a massive opportunity to capture many more leads.

In fact, that’s the service that companies Netline offer. They syndicate your content in their B2B lead generation networks to improve lead acquisition by targeting potential leads.

Netline Syndication

And even better, it’s performance-based, which means you only pay for the leads you acquire. 

But what about the big issue of duplicate content? 

Of course, this is a valid worry. But most syndication networks use canonical tags to tell search engines that your website content is the preferred version and should get the SEO equity. This eliminates the possibility of attracting a penalty. 

Step 3: Provide lead magnets and content upgrades

Nowadays, people are reluctant to share their contact information because their inboxes are already full of junk. 

To capture that lead, you have to first provide value. And that’s the function of lead magnets. They help to solve a problem for your audience and serve as an incentive for visitors to release their personal details. 

Some types of content that can serve as lead magnets for your content marketing campaigns are:

  • Ebooks
  • Reports
  • Webinars
  • Quizzes
  • Courses
  • Videos

What are the characteristics for effective lead magnets?

  • They solve an immediate problem for your audience
  • They’re short enough to be used immediately 
  • They’re accessible immediately to your lead
  • They solve a specific problem 

See an example of a lead magnet from OptinMonster:

OptinMonster example

This offer aims to solve a specific problem which is to convert abandoning visitors. 

Content Upgrades

Another similar concept is the content upgrade. Content upgrades are pieces of content offered to a page visitor that are relevant to the page content.  

Technically, they’re lead magnets. But they usually generate even higher conversions because they’re related to what the visitor is presently reading

In some cases, this could just be a PDF copy of the page or another format of the page content that readers can keep for future reference.

What type of results can you get from content upgrades?

In a Google rankings factor blog post, blogger Brian Dean implemented a content upgrade and achieved a 785.01% increase in conversions within a month. 


Content Upgrade Example

Step 4: Improve your landing pages

When you consider that most single landing pages are built specifically to capture leads, then creating them without thought means you’re essentially throwing your leads away. There are best practices you need to follow to ensure you optimize your landing pages for high conversion.

Let’s consider some of them:

Remove the navigation bar

One of the major mistakes marketers make is that they distract their landing page visitors from converting, and present many opportunities for visitors to click away from their landing page without converting. 

A landing page visitor should only have two options: either to close the page or convert. 

By removing the navigation bar from its landing page, Yuppiechef increased signups by 100%.

YuppieChef example

Make the CTA button visible

The color of your CTA button needs to stand out on the landing page. Since you want visitors to click it, let it grab their attention with contrast.

Netflix landing page example

Run A/B tests

No landing page is perfect. Therefore, you need to constantly test to improve your conversions. 

You can test different elements on your page and track their effects on conversions. Some page elements to test are:

  • Page copy
  • Call to action
  • Images
  • Background
  • Number of form fields

It’s important to note while testing, you should only test a single element at a time. This helps you to track the changes affecting your conversions. 

Check out this landing page:

Landing page test example

It was then optimized to look like this to improve conversions:

landing page test after

This led to a 1,250% increase in conversion rates for the landing page. 

Step 5: Use guest blogging to capture leads

Guest blogging is a valuable activity to improve brand awareness and gain quality backlinks. However, one advantage that most people fail to take is capturing leads through guest posts. 

You may ask: how can I do that? 

Most websites allow you to leave a link in your author bio after a guest post. You can leave a link to a landing page by promising a lead magnet to your guest post readers rather than a link to your home page. The key here is to make your lead magnet relevant to your guest post.

In a guest post for ConvertKit, web developer, Brad Hussy explained how he used ConvertKit to sell his online course

ConvertKit example

At the end of the guest post, there’s a link to his free email course. 

lead gen example on blog post

When you click on this link, you’re transferred to a landing page where you need to submit your details before you can begin the first lesson.

Course example 

You can also share the link in the body of your post where it is relevant. 

example of link in post

And depending on the website you’re writing a guest post, you can even add your content upgrade in the body of your post. 

See an example by CoSchedule founder, Garrett Moon on one of his guest posts:

Garrett Moon example

Step 6: Target long-tail keywords with the right intent

If you run a small to mid-size business, then targeting long-tail keywords is the way to go. First of all, it’s easy to detect these keywords’ intent. 

Secondly, there’s low competition for them. You can use a tool like SEMrush to carry out keyword research. This will help you to find the long-tail keywords a potential lead might use in search engines:

SEMrush long tail

After finding them, you should create your content to target these keywords. Furthermore, you should optimize your page for this keyword. This involves adding the keyword to parts of your page like:

  • Headline
  • URL
  • First few paragraphs 
  • Subheadings 
  • Image alt text
  • Image name

After doing this, create long-form content that provides the solution your visitor is looking for. When you bring in visitors from search engines, you can then use lead magnets, exit-intent pop-ups, or other lead capture tactics to capture their details. 

Michael Karp created a 4400-word post to target the keyword “how to fly a quadcopter.”


From the page traffic, he used a pop-up which converted at 5.12% and a content upgrade lead box which converted 20 – 50% of people who clicked on it. 



The first major step to gaining a customer is to capture qualified leads. 

With a few tweaks to your content marketing strategy using the tactics in this post, you’re well on your way to turn your content marketing to a lead-generation machine. 

The post How to Generate Leads With Content Marketing appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

19 Jul 15:55

Are you Seeing Poor Results From Your LinkedIn Company Page?

by Wayne Breitbarth

Over 31 million companies have LinkedIn company pages, and that's a great place to start, but you may not get the results you desire from your company page alone. The road to real corporate marketing success begins with company employees presenting a consistent branding message on their personal LinkedIn profiles.

But if you're company management, how can you help your employees share the responsibility for promoting your company's products or services?

It starts with creating LinkedIn best practices guidelines and sharing them with all employees. The guidelines should include profile standards as well as simple LinkedIn activities that will be helpful for the employees as well as the company.

A LinkedIn training session is a quick and easy way to share the guidelines with your employees—and they will be more likely to follow the guidelines if they understand the strategy behind them and see the personal value in addition to the corporate value.

Of course, I've provided LinkedIn training for hundreds of companies and would be happy to assist you and your company as well. Click here to see how I help companies grow their business, make more money, and attract great talent. You can also view testimonials of my many satisfied clients.

What to include in your company's LinkedIn best practices guidelines

The first six items below are typically one-time profile updates that all employees can quickly and easily perform. The last item includes activities employees should be encouraged to engage in on an ongoing basis.

1.  Photo. Bring in a photographer and get professional headshots. You only get one chance to make a great first impression, and the photo is the first thing people see when they view someone’s profile.

2.  Background photo. Design a standard company background image that all employees can put on their personal LinkedIn profiles. This could include your website address, physical address and phone number, photos of your products or facilities, etc.

3.  Keywords. These are critical on LinkedIn, and if you expect your people to show up in a search, you have to give them a list of five to ten of the most searched-for terms for the company—these are usually your products, services, brands, etc.—and then encourage your employees to place them in the right spots on their profiles.

4.  Standard company description. Share with them one succinct paragraph to be included in their profile's About section (formerly called the Summary section) and two or three more detailed paragraphs to be included in their job description for their current job at your company.

5.  Add media to current job experience entry. Give them videos, slide shows, photos of your best work or products, customer testimonials, etc. that they can display on their profiles by uploading a file or linking to the information.

6.  Each employee’s job entry correctly attached to your company page. Make sure your company logo shows up on every employee's job entry for your company. This is must-have branding.

If it doesn’t show up, it means (1) they added this job entry prior to your business having a company page with a logo attached or (2) they selected the wrong company or no company when adding this entry to their profile.

This is simple to fix. The employee simply edits that job entry and selects the correct company page when LinkedIn autofills as (s)he is typing in your company name.

7.  Sharing, “liking” or commenting on company status updates. This is a bit hard to monitor because it is ongoing and not a one-time profile change. But the more it’s done, the more sets of eyes your company updates are seen by, and I think you'll agree that's a good thing.

For additional LinkedIn company branding ideas, be sure to download my FREE eBook 10 LinkedIn Mistakes Companies Make and How to Fix Them Before They Damage Your Company's Reputation by clicking here. 

Start by creating a dynamic company page, but take it further by getting your employees on board. Then get ready to watch your LinkedIn results soar.


The post Are you Seeing Poor Results From Your LinkedIn Company Page? appeared first on Wayne Breitbarth.

19 Jul 15:53

If We Fixed Sales Execution, Would We Fix Sales?

by David Brock

Let’s try a thought experiment. You will see some of the assumptions are very simplistic, they will become obvious as we move through the thought experiment. They don’t impact the thought experiment. For the moment, suspend your judgement and bear with me.

The reason I want you to walk through this is to help you think about what I think is the biggest challenge facing sales leaders in maximizing the performance of their organizations: Talent.

By Talent, I mean finding/attracting the right people to our organizations, onboarding them effectively, developing them to both perform and the highest levels possible and to achieve their full potential, growing, and retaining them.

As regular readers know, each sales person we hire is a multimillion dollar investment. Yet because of our lack of focus on talent, we are squandering billions in opportunities. We are underperforming our potential, even if we are achieving our revenue goals.

So let’s get going—-take 10 deep breaths, suspend your judgement.

  1. Imagine we’ve solved all the problems of sales execution. Sales people know how to prospect and find the right opportunities. They know how to qualify, they know how to move the customer efficiently through their buying cycles, they know how to create value in the buying process. They know what they need to be doing, they know how to do it, and they are executing.
  2. Let’s imagine we have a vacancy, a position we need to fill.
  3. Most managers don’t maintain a list of ideal candidates they can immediately hire to back fill the vacancies. On average, it takes 3 months to find, interview, and recruit someone. It takes longer for managerial jobs. The sales person’s territory is open for 3 months. Buyers are still buying, we may have someone trying to cover the territory, but they were already fully occupied in their own territories. [So you can see the start of a problem]
  4. It takes about 5-10 months to onboard a person. For some complex solutions, we’ve seen it taking much longer (back in the dark ages, my onboarding was 18 months—but I’m a slow learner).
  5. We’ve got the person onboarded, say after 10 months (you choose numbers you are comfortable with).
  6. Now our sales person, has to start prospecting and finding opportunities. There may be a few residual opportunities that were being nurtured by someone else, but largely, they have to rebuild their pipelines. But we are imagining an idealized world, let’s imagine, somehow magically, they’ve found and qualified enough opportunities to achieve their goals.
  7. They start to work the opportunities. And we know the typical buying cycle in complex B2B sales is 9-18 months. So it will be some months until we actually see these opportunities close. Some may move faster, some slower, but let’s say the average selling cycle is 9 months. Which means, after the person has been on board for 19 months, they will have reached full productivity and effectiveness.
  8. But there’s a problem. Average sales and sales manager tenure is 16.5 months. So these people are leaving before they’ve even completed a sales cycle! They may have closed a couple of deals, but they aren’t running at the fill productivity we expect.
  9. But what happens to those opportunities that the sales person qualified. The customers don’t stop buying. Maybe we can have other people cover some of them, but they were already fully occupied managing their own territories, so things will slip. But the customers are still buying–but probably from someone else.
  10. And we start the cycle again….and again…..and again.

So even if we are hiring the right sales people.

Even if we are onboarding them correctly.

Even if they are executing what they should be doing and doing it well.

We fail! We fail because our sales people aren’t sticking around long enough to produce results and reach full productivity.

And this is base on the assumption that everything is working right–we are hiring the right people. We are onboarding them well, and they are executing perfectly!

We are set up for failure even before we begin!

We already know we have failed, even in the idealized scenario. But let’s add a complication.

Average tenure of a sales manager, at all levels, is also 16.5 months.

  1. These managers have an onboarding time, understanding the business, understanding the people, understanding the customers.
  2. If they are an experienced front line sales manager, they probably haven’t been coaching their people as effectively as they should have been during their onboarding period. It will take them some time to start identifying the strengths and weaknesses of their people and effectively coach them. And it takes time for people to change and develop, after 3-6 months, they start getting in a groove and having an impact, but in 16.5 months they are gone and a new manager is starting all over again. (And let’s not forget their people are churning at the same time, so they have to be recruiting and so forth….)
  3. (The clock is ticking away, time is passing).
  4. If it’s a senior level manager, they may want to make changes, it takes time to figure out what those changes are, it takes time to implement those changes, and start seeing results. They are trying to drive changes despite the revolving door happening beneath them, people coming and going every 16.5 months. By the time they start to see the results from their change initiatives, they are gone. The new executive comes in, starting to think about their change initiatives.
  5. Yet the customers are still buying…….but probably from someone else.

We know the reality is far more complex than that I’ve outlined in these very simplified scenarios. I know the assumptions I’ve imposed on the thought model create an idealized, unrealistic scenario. You;ve probably seen the biggest error in my logic, we can never fix sales execution if we have a revolving door in talent.

The biggest idealization is the assumption that people are doing what they are supposed to be doing in the way they should be doing them. But we know that’s a laughable fiction!

So reality is actually worse! If we fail in the idealized scenario, we fail more in the real world.

And it’s getting worse. Five years ago, depending on the survey you looked at, average tenure was around 36 months. Today, it’s 16.5, and we continue to see downward pressure.

Now here’s the insanity. Most of our focus, whether it’s sales leadership, sales ops, sales enablement is on execution. The focus is: How do we train our people, how do we provide the systems, tools, content, processes, coaching to make the perform at the highest levels possible.

But we see even if we solve the sales execution problem, we fail!

It’s an executive and sales leadership problem. We can no longer think people are replaceable widgets. We can no longer think “I’ll give her a try, if she doesn’t work out, I can replace her.” We can no longer settle for the people we can get, but make sure we are only hiring the right people to do the job.

We have to create companies and cultures where people want to work. We have to create companies and cultures that attract the right people. We have to commit to developing and growing those people. We have to commit to retaining those people.

The data is stunning, 16.5 months average tenure! The opportunity costs are staggering. Customers are spending money, just not with us.

Sadly, fewer than 10% of the executives I meet with recognize this is their number one challenge! They fail to understand they are, largely , wasting their money on all other sales performance initiatives.

Some say, “Well we are making our numbers!” What they fail to recognize is they are under-performing the opportunity. The top 10 technology companies in the US have average sales tenures of 21 months. They are the darlings of Wall Street/NASDAQ, they are the “high growth” companies. But the math is the same for them as it is for everyone else. They could be doing so much more!

Some say, “It’s a millennial issue, they will naturally move from job to job.” I think it’s an excuse. I talk to hundreds if not thousands of millenials each year. They want to work at places where they are valued, where they can have an impact, where they can contribute and grow. If they can’t get it at their current company, they will go someplace else.

Attrition is a problem, in another sense. Just like millennials, top performers want to work in places where they are valued, respected, have an impact, learn, and grow. They want leaders who can help them achieve this and invest in their development. If they can’t get it where they are working, they know they are highly sought after by other organizations.

And unfortunately, we are left with those who stay. They stay because they aren’t top performers. They aren’t the bottom performers either, they’re mediocre.

People are any organization’s most valuable resources.

Sales people are mulitmillion dollar assets. They ARE our most valuable sales resource.

It is the height of irresponsible management not to have Talent as a, if not the, top priority for every organization. Until we start addressing the talent issue, until we start attracting, onboarding, developing, growing, and retaining the right people; we will continue to fail in achieving our potential.

As leaders, we are accountable for maximizing the performance of everyone on our team. We cannot begin to address that until we address the Talent issues.

19 Jul 15:52

The 2 Factors Killing GRC Practices

by JC Gaillard


Excessive complexity and lack of first-line integration render many GRC metrics useless

Many CISOs complain of communication problems with their business. They are not being listened to. They are not getting the budget they think they should get. They feel their business prioritises against security too often.

It has been a recurring theme amongst information security professionals for the best part of the last 15 years, and it is rooted in a wide range of factors, amongst which the profile of the CISO is often a dominant limitation.

Many CISOs are simply too technical: They know they need to bridge the gap with their business, but they often return to their comfort zone at the first opportunity: For them, “threats” is often translated into malware, phishing and hackers, while the business wants to hear insider fraud or intellectual property theft.

This often leads to the CISO role being ringfenced and limited to its first line technical remit, while GRC functions develop in second line of defence.

But those functions themselves very often struggle to develop meaningful conversations with their business around cyber security.

GRC teams tend to have an ivory-towered view of the problem and to rely on ready-made overly complex methodologies, loosely related to the reality of first line activities.

They rush into buying some tech platform which is supposed to “enable” the GRC process, but in reality, the jargon of those products and methodologies is often meaningless to the business. Impact assessments and risk assessments can be inextricably complex. The quality of the data collected is often questionable as a result, and many of those approaches never scale up for good in large firms due to the sheer human cost of deploying them.

The lack of hard-wiring to first line activities make the GRC metrics produced artificial, and unusable in practice to recommend, justify or manage first line investment. If, in addition, the scope covered is limited due to deployment or acceptance issues, the overall value of such metrics can be highly disputable – beyond the proverbial “tick-in-the-box” which they will invariably provide.

None of that helps the business understand and manage their cyber risk posture. Over time, distrust sets in and, as the “when-not-if” paradigm around cyber-attacks takes root in the boardroom, senior executives need to find a way out.

It can only involve refocusing GRC practices towards simplicity so they can be effectively and efficiently deployed on a large scale across the real breadth of the firm – and possibly towards its supply chain.

It will also involve refocusing GRC practices towards a proper and meaningful integration with first line cyber security data, so that GRC metrics reflect the reality of the first line of defence.

The “when-not-if” paradigm makes the Board increasingly willing to invest to ensure the protection of the firm from cyber threats, but it also shifts priorities towards measuring progress and ensuring things get done.

In many firms, the equation between Governance, Risk and Compliance around cyber security is becoming heavily weighted towards the G, and GRC functions must adjust as a result, both in terms of internal structures and in terms of interactions with other stakeholders.

In particular, first line and second line must work together on this. They must trust each other and look beyond absurd and arbitrary “separation of duties” concepts, to produce meaningful data for the business, around which meaningful decisions will be made to protect the firm.

Originally published here.

19 Jul 15:52

Wearable technology and IoT wearable devices

by Alicia Phaneuf

fitbit smartwatch tweed suit

Wearable technology is often touted as one of the greatest applications of the Internet of Things, and with good reason.

Wearable electronics that consumers can display on their bodies have the potential to transform the way we live. Devices from Fitbit and its peer companies allow people to track their health and exercise progress in previously impossible ways. And smartwatches bring the power of smartphones directly to the wearer's wrist.

But IoT devices didn't just crop up out of nowhere. This wearable technology can trace its roots back further than you might think, and the road ahead for wearable devices looks bright.

We've compiled a history of the wearables market that looks at the past, present, and future of these devices.

The Past

If we wanted to be truly technical, we could trace the history of wearable devices all the way back to the Roman emperor Nero, who used emeralds like eyeglasses in order to get a sharper view of gladiatorial combat.

But let's fast forward almost 2000 years to 1961, when the first wearable computer appeared inside the shoes of MIT mathematics professors Edward O. Thorp and Claude Shannon. The two designed a timing device to fit inside their shoes to rather accurately predict where the ball would land in a roulette wheel, and then transmit the number through radio waves to the gambler at the table. Thorp reported a 44% increase in winning bets in his book Beat The Dealer. In fact, the strategy was so successful that Nevada passed a law banning such machines in 1985.

More than a decade later, the Pulsar "Calculator" wristwatch hit the market and allowed people to figure out their restaurant tips.

Several years after that came Steve Mann, who would pioneer several wearable devices in his time. But he got started in high school in 1981, when he wired a computer to his backpack in order to control photographic equipment. He even mounted a camera viewfinder to a helmet to serve as the display.

Then in 1994, Mann created the Wearable Wireless Webcam, which he used to upload images to the Internet until 1996. You can think of him as the first blogger, if you will.

Once we hit 2000, the first Bluetooth headset arrived on the market. In 2006, Nike and Apple joined forces to create the appropriately named Nike+iPod, a sport bundle that let runners and the health conscious sync their movements to their iPod.

But the wearables craze truly exploded in the 2010s. In 2011, Google developed the first prototype of what would become Google Glass. The tech giant sent test models to a select group in April 2013 and then released the device to the general public in May 2014.

Fitbit has released a dozen wearable devices and became so successful that they filed their IPO for $358 million in 2015.

And Apple, the global king of technology, released the Apple Watch on April 24, 2015.

The Present

Today, we've reached a sweet spot for wearable devices. Companies are producing mass quantities of wearable technology, but the market is not oversaturated.

The Apple Watch is alive and well thanks to a price reduction and solid craftsmanship, and rumors are swirling that an Apple Watch 2 with GPS and improved processing power would hit the market by the end of this year.

The Fitbit Blaze and Fitbit Alta both released earlier this year and have received positive reviews from consumers and critics alike.

And more traditional looking wearables, such as the Samsung Gear S2 and the Huawei Watch, blend style and function.

The Future

CCS Insight expects the wearables market to reach $14 billion by the end of this year, according to Forbes. And BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, expects the wearables market to grow to 162.9 million units by the end of 2020.

The healthcare sector will be one of the top catalysts to push the wearables markets to these heights, as consumer and professional healthcare trends will spur interest in wearable devices.

Fitness trackers, in particular, are the leading consumer case for wearables because most consumers use wearable devices to record their exercise and health statistics and progress. And hospitals, med-tech companies, pharmaceutical companies, and insurance companies have started to utilize these devices.

Accuracy will remain the top barrier to widespread adoption, as manufacturers must ensure that these devices transmit correct data so that users receive accurate progress reports. And as always, privacy concerns are of the utmost importance.

Furthermore, smartwatches will likely cannibalize a major portion of demand for fitness trackers, as these devices perform many of the same functions as fitness bands but carry a host of other features, as well.

But other questions still remain. Will these devices truly be transformative? Will the average consumer want to have a wearable device attached to them 24 hours a day to monitor all of their activities? Will these devices need to be more fashion friendly, or even totally concealed? Will the government impose restrictive regulations on IoT devices?

The continued growth of the IoT industry is going to be a transformative force across all organizations. By integrating all of our modern day devices with internet connectivity, the IoT market is on pace to grow to over $3 trillion annually by 2026.

Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, is keeping its finger on the pulse of this ongoing revolution by conducting our third annual Global IoT Executive Survey, which provides us with critical insights on the most pivotal new developments within the IoT and explains how top-level perspectives are changing year to year. Our survey includes nearly 400 responses from key executives around the world, including C-suite and director-level respondents.

Through this exclusive study and in-depth research into the field, Business Insider Intelligence details the components that make up the IoT ecosystem. We size the IoT market and use exclusive data to identify key trends in the connected devices sector. And we profile the enterprise, governmental, and consumer IoT segments individually, drilling down into the drivers and characteristics that are shaping each market.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • We project that there will be more than 64 billion IoT devices by 2025, up from about 10 billion in 2018.
  • Blockchain within the IoT is still generally the provenance of startups, and they're populating the marketplace with products that take advantage of the technology's characteristics. It's not going to upend the IoT, despite the technology's much-ballyhooed potential. And respondents to our survey of IoT providers seem, for the most part, to understand this. Just a small percentage think that blockchain will become a universal standard in the IoT. The vast majority said that blockchain will either be a tool that most companies employ at times, or a niche product that only certain solutions use.
  • Lightning-fast 5G networks will change how telecommunications shapes business and will also offer new and transformative possibilities in the IoT space. The new standard will further increase the appeal of cellular solutions in the areas where it's available. And that's why nearly half of IoT providers said they're planning to introduce support for 5G networks to their solutions within the next two years.
  • The report highlights the opinions and experiences of IoT decision-makers on topics that include: drivers for adoption; major challenges and pain points; deployment and maturity of IoT implementations; investment in and utilization of devices; the decision-making process; and forward- looking plans.

In full, the report:

  • Provides a primer on the basics of the IoT ecosystem.
  • Offers forecasts for the IoT moving forward, and highlights areas of interest in the coming years.
  • Looks at who is and is not adopting the IoT, and why.
  • Highlights drivers and challenges facing companies that are implementing IoT solutions.

Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:

  1. Subscribe to a Premium pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> Learn More Now
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19 Jul 15:51

The ultimate guide to hiring the first 5 employees at your startup and making sure they're stars, from founders and investors who have done it

by Shana Lebowitz and Sherin Shibu

wayup early team

  • Hiring the first employees at your startup is about building a team that will lay the foundation for success.
  • We asked founders, investors, and business professors to share some best practices.
  • For example, hire people to fill the gaps in your skill set and keep in mind your long-term vision.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

It's easy for new founders to fall for the "superhero mythology."

That's Jason Nazar's term for thinking you personally have all the diverse skills required to build a company from scratch. But no one does.

Nazar, the cofounder and CEO of Comparably, told Business Insider he was a victim of the superhero mythology when he first launched the company, a website that monitors workplace culture and compensation.

In reality, though, companies are successful because of the dream teams that are built around the founder, Nazar said.

As a new startup founder, you'll want to hire people who can fill the gaps in your skill set and rocket the company to success. It's easier said than done.

We asked a series of entrepreneurship experts — including founders, investors, and business professors — to outline some best hiring practices. In exclusive conversations, they shared revealing interview questions, common pitfalls to avoid, and how to know when you're ready to bring on your first employee.

Our sources include:

  • Krystle Mobayeni, cofounder and CEO of BentoBox, which helps restaurants design their websites
  • Liz Wessel, cofounder and CEO of WayUp, a job platform for college students and early-stage professionals
  • Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, professor of business psychology at University College London and Columbia University
  • Cat Hernandez, partner at the venture-capital firm Primary Venture Partners
  • Christine Beckman, the Price Family Chair in Social Innovation and Professor of Public Policy at USC Price
  • Glen Evans, vice president of core talent at the venture-capital firm Greylock Partners
  • Kim Taylor, cofounder and CEO at Cluster, which recruits for advanced roles in manufacturing
  • Cesar Carvalho, cofounder and CEO at the corporate fitness program GymPass

Read on and learn how to navigate hiring in an early-stage startup.

Know when it's the right time to expand your team

You (and your cofounders, if you have them) may have secured seed funding before adding anyone else to the team.

Read more: The first-time founder's ultimate guide to pitching a VC

Now, your goal in hiring the company's first few employees is to get the product or service to market.

Evans, of Greylock, said the specific type of hire will depend on factors including the skills and experience of the founding team, the experience necessary to build the business or product, and how much progress you've made so far toward product-market fit.

At software companies, for example, the first few hires are typically engineers. Based on her experience at Primary, Hernandez said those engineers are either building a minimum viable product or optimizing the baseline product the founders put together. From there, Hernandez said, founders usually look for business roles to support the initial go-to market.

And if you're considering bringing on a contractor instead of a full-time employee, Evans said there are two key questions to help you decide:

  1. What skills are missing that would be critical to building the company or product?
  2. Is this a long-term or short-term need?

If the skills are critical and it's a long-term need, "it's probably a good time to consider hiring someone [full-time] to round out the team," Evans wrote in an email to Business Insider.

Hire to fill the gaps in your skill set

Among the entrepreneurs she's worked with at Primary, Hernandez said, the most successful founders "have a self-awareness about their strengths and weaknesses." Plus, they're able to hire people to complement their skill sets as their business grows, Hernandez added.

If the founder is a visionary, for example, they bring on someone who's good at execution. Or, if they've got an engineering background, they look for an experienced marketer.

Beckman's research suggests this kind of self-awareness can prevent problems down the line. One study indicates that founders who hire experienced specialists — say, in marketing or operations — early on are more successful than founders who wait until there's a specific issue.

Founders who try to be generalists, Beckman said, can cause organizational bottlenecks because they lack the appropriate expertise for every domain and because every decision needs their approval.

Read more: A new book by Facebook's HR consultant urges bosses to pass on well-rounded job candidates. Here's the unconventional hire it recommends.

Avoid hiring clones of yourself

Tomas Chamorro-PremuzicChamorro-Premuzic, a business professor, said founders often make the mistake of hiring people just like themselves, an established bias in organization psychology. (Executives across industries are known to do the same thing.)

"When someone looks like us or behaves us like, we're likely to say that we like that person," he said. "It's a socially acceptable way of being narcissistic."

Indeed, Nazar said that one of his biggest mistakes as an entrepreneur was trying to hire people like him. "It was one of the things that I was just absolutely wrong about," he said.

Read more: The ultimate guide to becoming a better boss in 30 days

A growing body of evidence suggests that diverse teams outperform more homogeneous ones. While it's important that employees share your core values, it's also important to look for people with different stories and experiences.

Diversity can refer to skill sets and personalities, or to gender and ethnic backgrounds. It allows for people who look at situations from different angles.

Assess whether job candidates are suited to the startup environment

Chamorro-Premuzic said founders should prioritize "learnability" above all in job candidates. Learnability refers to the willingness to grow and adapt your skills in a rapidly changing workplace. It's similar to a growth mindset, or the belief that your talents can be developed through effort and feedback (i.e. they're not fixed).

To suss out learnability, interviewers can ask indirect questions that point to curiosity, like if potential employees take a different route to work everyday. 

Founders should also be wary of hiring people who need a lot of structure.

Kim Taylor vertical headshotAt Cluster, Taylor previously told Business Insider, she looks for people who will be "comfortable with the fact that their role will be changing; they're going to be doing different things every day."

To that end, Taylor gives job candidates "really unstructured problems" to solve, similar to those at Cluster. She said that it becomes clear quickly who needs hand-holding and who doesn't. Those who fare better in unstructured environments may have a relatively low "need for closure," a scientific term for the desire to know the answer and an aversion to ambiguity.

Nazar, for his part, is honest with potential employees about the realities of working at a startup. He often tries to "scare" people away by being frank about the challenges ahead.

"If they opt out, I know that they probably weren't going to be a good long-term fit," he said.

Be careful when hiring friends (of friends)

Across industries, your chances of landing the job are higher if you were referred by a current employee than if you weren't. There's a good chance that your first few hires will come from within your network.

But Mobayeni cautions that you should put the same magnifying glass on job candidates you know as on the people you don't.

She learned that lesson the hard way. In the early days of BentoBox, she hired someone she knew socially. "I probably didn't do the right diligence or ask the right questions in that process," she said, which became "problematic in the long run." They parted ways after a handful of months.

Don't wing it

As with any hiring process, consistency in interview questions and procedures is key to ensure that all candidates are screened through the same filter. If possible, WayUp CEO Wessel said, have multiple people rate a candidate on the same factors and then discuss, so as to reduce the possibility of unconscious bias creeping in.

Read more: A former Google HR exec says he's seen too many people make the same mistake trying to interview candidates for jobs

And if you're not an expert in the area you're hiring for, Wessel recommends that you find an advisor or friend who knows more to help you with the interview process.

You'll also want to ensure that your hiring process is legally sound. Gusto, which makes human-resources software for small businesses, has a helpful guide to hiring your first employee (in the US). Rules vary by state, but every employer should get workers' compensation insurance.

Once your first hires start, be sure to have them fill out a a W-4 form, which determines their tax withholding amount, and an I-9 form, which verifies their eligilbity to work in the US. You'll also need to set up a payroll schedule.

Hire for the jobs you'll need in the next few years

cesar carvalho gympassEvery startup needs a long-term vision. And every new hire should contribute to making that vision a reality.

But it's easy for founders to get caught up in what they need today.

Carvalho previously told Business Insider that his hiring decisions in the early days of Gympass "were not optimal" because they weren't equipped to tackle new challenges as the company grew.

As a result, they had to keep bringing on more senior people. "What I learned from it is that being able to plan for the next two to three years helps a lot."

Still, it's worth noting that plans can change. You don't have to keep employees on forever if they're not suited to the company's new strategic direction.

Patty McCord, former chief talent officer at Netflix, previously told Business Insider that managers should regularly evaluate whether their current team is equipped to tackle the next big challenge. If not, the manager may need to let some people go.

Think carefully about equity

Many early-stage startups offer employees equity in the business, partly as a way to woo them away from more established, higher-paying companies.

The process can be confusing.

In a blog post, the venture capitalist Fred Wilson outlines a series of steps for granting stock options:

  1. Determine your company's "best value." That number can be, for example, the valuation on your last round of financing or a recent offer to buy your company that you declined.
  2. Break down your organization into different levels: the senior management team, director-level managers, key employees, and employees in non-critical functions.
  3. Assign each level a multiplier (e.g. 0.5x, 0.25x, 0.1x, and 0.05x, numbers that Wilson said were standard in 2010.)
  4. Multiply each employee's base salary by the corresponding multiplier so you get a dollar value in equity.
  5. Divide the dollar value of equity by your company's best value. Multiply that number by the number of fully diluted shares.
  6. Voila! You have the appropriate grant amount.

Explain to new hires what their compensation package really means

If you are granting equity, make sure to have a conversation with new hires about what their compensation package really means. After all, not every new hire will have worked at a startup before. And while it's employees' responsibility to ask questions, you should be willing to share as much information as you can to assuage their concerns.

As Sophie Kahn, cofounder of the sustainable jewelry company AUrate, told Business Insider, you can also consider your employees' personal preferences. Some people care more about base salary, while others care more about equity, she said.

Offering customized compensation packages is a way to stay competitive because it's a win-win. Founders are more likely to attract top talent (who can afford to be picky about where they work) and employees feel appropriately valued.

Remember, too: If you don't yet have the funds to offer market-rate salaries (and you're granting stock options to compensate), Wessel recommends being transparent about this with candidates.

Cultivate a culture of ownership

At BentoBox, Mobayeni wants employees to be empowered.

Read more: A former GE exec who trained new managers found that almost all of them were making the same mistake

"You want a team from the beginning that's thinking about the business as much as you are," she said. "If they're being micromanaged, or if they're just carrying out a to-do list that's dictated from whoever is above them, then that sense of ownership and care is not there as much."

Indeed, employee autonomy is a key driver of creativity and proactivity. Not to mention that if employees feel disconnected from the company mission, they're more likely to leave.

To that end, Mobayeni lets her employees make mistakes (within reason) and celebrates when they come up with an idea and see it to fruition.

"Having that connection to the work that they're doing is just super important," she said.

SEE ALSO: Founders and investors reveal the ultimate guide to scaling a startup — and common pitfalls to avoid

Join the conversation about this story »

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19 Jul 15:50

The ultimate guide to nailing a sales pitch that closes the deal every time

by Jay Dixit

meeting, interview, office

  • Jay Dixit is the founder of Storytelling.NYC, where he teaches corporate workshops on how to use storytelling techniques to build relationships and drive sales.
  • Sales is an ethical pursuit, he writes — and a successful sales pitch is much less about showmanship and high-pressure tactics than it is about empathy and listening to what your customer actually needs.
  • Below are his tips for nailing a sales pitch, including selecting your prospects strategically, asking the right questions, and learning to anticipate and even welcome objections.
  • Validating what your customer is saying is crucial: One study found that waitresses who repeated customers' orders verbatim made 70% more tips than those who simply acknowledged or paraphrased them.
  • "People don't buy products, they buy better versions of themselves," he writes.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Although I run my own business, I spent years resisting anything to do with sales.

I'm a creative type, I told myself. I traffic in ideas and insights. Sales pitches felt icky and vulgar. I always felt like I was above having to worry about trying to hustle people for money.

Looking back, I had no idea what a sales pitch really was. The idea I had in my head came from "Glengarry Glen Ross," "Boiler Room," and that scene in "The Wolf of Wall Street" in which Leonardo DiCaprio sells a stock to an unsuspecting schmuck who's responded to a "Get Rich Quick" ad in the back of Hustler Magazine. In my mind, sales pitches were all about bluster, charm, and manipulation — playing on a customer's subconscious to convince them to do something that was not entirely in their best interests.

Jay Dixit

Once I started my company, I realized how wrong I'd been. All three of those movies were about scams — people swindling customers with cheap penny stocks and worthless swampland in Florida. Those men weren't salesmen — they were con artists who never cared about their customers' best interests. Since these guys weren't selling a legitimate product, manipulation and deception were the only tools they had.

I'm proud of the value I bring to my customers, so I now see that sales is an ethical pursuit. A successful sales pitch is much less about showmanship, high-pressure tactics, and psychological manipulation and more about perspective-taking and empathy — listening to what your customer actually needs so you can figure out how to help. As role models ranging from Steve Jobs to Harley Davidson have shown, sales is about truly hearing the people we're selling to, and helping them become greater versions of themselves. The same themes are borne out in the research, whether it's the tips servers make or the success of traditional telephone sales calls. 

As I ultimately had to accept for my business to take off, being creative doesn't exempt you from the need to sell. Whether you're a founder or a solopreneur, a software engineer or a sculptor, chances are that part of your job is to get others to see your vision. With that in mind, here are some tips for nailing the sales pitch every time.

Select your prospects strategically

There's an idea out there that a good salesperson can sell anything to anybody. That's a myth. The best salespeople spend most of their time sorting through data to identify prospects who most stand to benefit from their product or service.

The flip side is accepting that some people aren't viable prospects. If someone doesn't need your product, don't waste your time trying to convince them they do. You're better off spending your resources prospecting for customers who actually need what you're selling.

"The best salesman I ever saw was a 16-year-old kid selling bottles of water in the desert after a concert," explains Wayne Elise, a conversation skills coach who runs a weekend seminar called Conversation Camp. "Because he was smart enough to sell the right thing, at the right time, to the right people."

presentation work meeting

Read more: The founder of a $1.7 billion startup shares the one slide every pitch deck needs to succeed

Focus on trying to help

Part of my original aversion to sales was that I don't like to impose. What can I say — I'm Canadian. To me, sales always seemed liked pushing yourself and your agenda onto people who would probably rather be left alone.

As it turns out, acting pushy doesn't work that well anyway. Consumers are good at spotting ulterior motives, and honesty, transparency, and sincerity are ultimately more persuasive than pressure tactics.

Fortunately, the insight that ultimately made sales palatable to me is also what's made me fairly good at it — and something that warms my Canadian heart. And it's that I have the customer's best interests in mind.

A good sales pitch shouldn't be oppositional. Yes, sales is technically about getting someone to take an action they may be hesitant about. But the best way to do that is to stop worrying about getting the sale and focus instead on trying to be helpful. Instead of wondering what you can say to get them to buy, ask yourself, "How can I help them achieve their goals by using my product or service?"

"The best sellers adopt an attitude of service," writes Dan Pink, author of "To Sell Is Human." "They believe in the value of the product and how it will impact the life of the buyer."

There's no need to push your product or service on your customers. Instead, work to help them accomplish their goals. When you genuinely care about helping them improve their lives, you'll not only offer more targeted solutions, but they'll also sense your sincerity and respond in kind.

Ask questions 

There's another myth out there that sales is all about talking — that the best salespeople are chatty extroverts who can charm their way into a conversation and talk people into anything.

But a meta-analysis of 35 studies — involving 3,800 salespeople — found that the correlation between extroversion and sales success is close to zero. "Extroverts can talk too much and listen too little, which dulls their understanding of others' perspectives," writes Pink. "They can overwhelm others with the force of their personalities."

But people who were too shy to pick up the phone weren't the best salespeople either. The best salespeople, the analysis found, were neither extreme extroverts nor extreme introverts, but people in the middle.

Many of us have a conception of a sales pitch as being like a spiel or mini-presentation in which the salesperson talks while the customer listens and makes a decision. But that's backwards. To truly help your customer improve his or her life, you need to have a deep understanding of what they care about — and to do that, you need to ask questions.

To help your clients improve their lives, you need to know what they care about. Allow yourself to be curious about their situation and their interests. Ask questions that get to the heart of what they care about, what they're trying to accomplish, and what problems they face. By asking good follow-up questions, you may even uncover challenges they don't even know they have.

Listen and empathize

The single most valuable asset in any sales interaction is an understanding of what your customer wants and needs. Contrary to the old stereotype, you should actually be doing more listening than talking. In fact, an analysis of 25,000 sales calls found that top closers listened 57% of the time.

So worry less about getting your energy up and projecting confidence, and more about listening to the needs of your prospect. Empathize, validate what they're saying, and demonstrate that you truly understand their situation. One study found that waitresses who repeated customers' orders verbatim made 70% more tips than those who simply acknowledged or paraphrased them. By reflecting orders in a precise way, they assured customers they'd been heard and understood. By listening well, you'll not only get a better understanding of your customers' goals, needs, and desires — you'll also build trust and rapport.

coworker conversation

Read more: I'm a CEO who gave up my corner office and placed my seat in the middle of the room — and it's been great for business

Focus on solving the problem

When you're closely connected to your product or service, your perspective is naturally skewed. No doubt you're proud of its features, and you may have spent months helping make it the best it can be. You're eager to share your knowledge and tell your prospective customer all the details about the product and its features.

That enthusiasm is great, but when it's time to pitch, you need to leave that mindset behind. Customers don't buy a product because of its features — they buy it because they have a job they need done. Customers only care about what's in it for them, and a successful sales pitch zeroes in on how you'll make their life better. In the words of Basecamp CEO Jason Fried, "Here's what our product can do" is very different from "Here's what you can do with our product."

When Steve Jobs introduced the first iPod, he didn't just talk about technical features like the Firewire port and 5GB storage capacity. He offered people a device that "puts 1,000 songs in your pocket."

There's an old saying in business: "People don't buy drills, they buy holes." What that means is that customers don't care about your product — they only care about what they can do with it. But even that saying doesn't go far enough. In reality, people don't care about holes — what they truly want is the ability to hang art on their walls and make their house feel like a home.

This approach works even if what you're selling isn't something your customer needs in the strictest sense. Your customer may not need a new pair of designer shoes. But if wearing those shoes makes them feel sexier and more confident, then you're helping them achieve a goal.

Harley-Davidson, for instance, doesn't just sell motorcycles — they sell a fantasy. As one company insider put it: "What we sell is the ability for a 43-year-old accountant to dress in black leather, ride through small towns, and have people be afraid of him."

To put it another way: "People don't buy products, they buy better versions of themselves."

Tell a story

As I tell my clients in my "Storytelling for Sales" workshops, sales is about creating desire. And the best way you can create desire is by telling a story.

When you're trying to sell something to someone, it's natural to think you need to make your case, presenting your argument for and evidence like you're arguing in court.

But trying to persuade someone through arguments and evidence can be a trap. When someone senses that you're trying to convince them of something, their defenses go up. The brain's automatic response to hearing arguments and evidence is to evaluate them, weighing facts and assessing merit. Scientists call this "counterarguing" — the little arguments a prospect makes in their head that they may never articulate out loud.

Storytelling is different. When you tell your client a story, you bypass the evaluative regions of the brain and activate the experiential and emotional regions instead, triggering a brain state known as "narrative transportation." Rather than focusing on evaluating your claims, the listener is instead transported into the world of your story.

That's not to say you never mention facts and evidence. If you have metrics that prove the effectiveness of your product, by all means mention them. But by framing them in a story, you'll help sidestep their habitual skepticism.

Think of your customer as a character struggling against an obstacle — to which your product or service is the solution. By painting a picture of a future state in which their life has improved, you'll help them see how you can help them get the results they want.

Seeing is believing, and when people hear a story, they can't help but visualize it. If you can get your customer to imagine themselves using your product or service to solve their problem and achieve their goals, you've already won.

Read more: An early investor in Pinterest and Uber who sold a company for $150 million says there's a specific order in which early startups need to target customers

Anticipate and address objections

Most prospects you talk to will have objections — reasons in their mind why your product might not be right for them. Since your prospect doesn't yet know everything about your product, those reasons may or may not be accurate. So part of a successful sales pitch is handling those objections.

The first step is to anticipate them. Identify the ten most common objections — including reservations about value, price, urgency, or relevance — and prepare a concise response for each one.

Second, welcome objections. They mean your prospect is engaged in the process and providing information about their needs — and giving you a chance to address them. So make your customer feel safe to voice objections. Don't argue, be defensive, or try to minimize the objection. If your product or service can help them in spite of their concern, tell them how. And if you discover you can't help them, say so and ask for a referral instead.

woman boss employee coworker office

Follow up

As important as it is, your initial sales pitch is just a small part of the process. As any salesperson will tell you, the majority of sales happen not in the first encounter but in follow-up conversations.

At the end of your initial pitch, let them know you'll be following up and ask how they prefer to be contacted. Then, follow up promptly to thank them for their time and lay out next steps. Be friendly and available, follow up when you say you will, and end every interaction by scheduling the next one. Be persistent — and above all, never interpret a lack of response as a rejection. Track every attempt to reach them, and keep following up until you either get the sale or the prospect tells you they're not interested.

Read more: The ultimate guide to going freelance — and making more than you did at a full-time gig

Ask for the sale

It's not enough just to present your vision. You need to actually ask for the sale. In theory that's simple, but it's often the scariest part of the entire process. Many people are afraid to ask for the sale for fear of hearing no, appearing pushy, or jeopardizing the relationship.

But when you've listened to your client, taken the time to see the world through their eyes, and used empathy and storytelling to communicate exactly how you can help, then closing is simply the next logical step. If you genuinely believe your product or service can improve your customer's life, you're doing them a service by offering it to them. Remember, the answer is always no until you ask the question.

Jay Dixit is the founder of Storytelling.NYC, where he teaches corporate workshops on how to use storytelling techniques to build relationships and drive sales. Follow him on Twitter. 

SEE ALSO: A 34-year-old freelancer who quit the job she hated and now makes $200K a year debunks 3 of the biggest myths she's encountered about becoming your own boss

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19 Jul 15:49

Pricing Insights from a VC Perspective [Podcast]

by Kyle Poyar

We’re bringing OV Partner Liz Cain back to the podcast for the third time. On this episode, she and Kyle dive into their experiences with pricing and product led growth. Learn about some of the most common pricing mistakes they see and why they were both hesitant about PLG initially, but came around in a big way.

Prefer to listen on iTunes? Click here.

The post Pricing Insights from a VC Perspective [Podcast] appeared first on OpenView.

19 Jul 15:49

How to Price an eCommerce Subscription Service

by Eyal Katz

Close your eyes and picture the ideal customer for your ecommerce business. Do you have a sense of what they look like?

How old are they? What do they do for a living? What are their interests and hobbies?

You’re imagining a buyer persona, and it’s not just a thought exercise—it’s an essential tool for making decisions about how to acquire new customers, what to offer them, and how much to charge.

However, buyer personas are only as useful as their constituent data. Say your buyer persona includes “loves the outdoors.” What does that tell you about how much that customer is willing to pay for your product?

Another problem that occurs with buyer personas is the failure to keep them updated. Businesses that transition into subscription services often fail to create new buyer personas, despite the fact that a subscription is a completely different product.

You’re likely to find that customers who are ready and willing to commit to a long-term relationship are either different from your single-purchase customers, or in a different phase of their online shopping journey. In order to create the right messaging, offers, and pricing for these customers, you need to be able to not only map out a buyer persona, but quantify it as well.

The goal is to know your customers beyond their age, hobbies, and demographics. You need to be able to quantify the expected value of your buyer persona, and build around the value they provide to your business, not just their personal characteristics. These personas need to be founded on verifiable data returned from points of engagement on the customer journey.

A buyer persona based on a person’s qualities can tell you what they’re like. A quantified buyer persona will tell you how they will act.

How to Quantify a Buyer Persona

It can be tempting to think of building buyer personas as being akin to creating character profiles for a story or role-playing game. That might be a fun exercise for the marketing team, but it’s not going to help you make data-driven decisions about things like pricing or product design.

A quantified buyer persona is based on number crunching, not personality characteristics. The traits you should be interested in are the ones that can be discerned from how the customer interacts with your website—not self-reporting or subjective impressions.

Consider the difference between these two buyer personas:


  • Young female
  • From Idaho
  • Loves shoes
  • Socially outgoing
  • Dog owner
  • Vegetarian


  • Active Instagram user
  • Most purchased products:
    • Sneakers
    • Socks
  • Least favorite products:
    • Makeup
    • Shoes
  • Average revenue per online purchase: $30
  • Customer acquisition cost: $75
  • Lifetime value of subscription box: $250

quantified buyer persona vs regular persona

As a digital marketing team, which type of persona gives you more to work with? The Laverne persona tells you which marketing channel to approach, how much to spend, and which product to try and sell. Now, if you also add additional demographic data on top then you can easily hone in your messaging as well and create a very successful customer journey that ends in high conversion rates.

Who Should Quantify a Buyer Persona?

When it comes to putting together a good buyer persona, consider that the whole company will benefit from this endeavor. The interactions and data included in the persona may involve the work of multiple departments. For these reasons, it’s important to pull in a variety of perspectives on what constitutes relevant, quantifiable data; and how best to capture it. Managers, salespeople, designers, developers, and the marketing team all have a role to play in creating the buyer persona:

  • Customer acquisition cost (CAC), the amount of money you spend (on average) to acquire a new customer, is an important metric to base many decisions on.
    • Your marketing department is likely already tracking CAC, ideally along different channels for different types of customers.
  • How much are your customers willing to pay (WTP) and at what point do prices become too high and result in reduced profits?
    • Your team should have that information along with the life time value (LTV) of repeat customers, if you offer a subscription service, or the Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) if you don’t.

These figures have important interrelationships. The ratio of your LTV to CAC or ARPU to CAC can tell you if you’re spending too much money to acquire new customers. If you’re pricing below the customer’s WTP, and if you have room to adjust your prices higher to bring that ratio back to favorable levels or do you need to reduce operational costs.

How Quantifying Your Buyer Persona Helps ecommerce subscriptions

In a nutshell, the objective of a quantified buyer persona is to help you construct your conversion funnel so that customers move smoothly from one level to the next, providing maximum value for your marketing, sales, and retention expenditures along the way.

Quantified buyer personas can help you identify areas where a one-size-fits-all product is holding you back. If you can pin down their WTP—the price they’re actually comfortable paying up front—you might be able to offer an alternate product that keeps them in your conversion funnel.

For instance, a business that offers a $99 monthly subscription with a lifetime value of $594 and a 25% churn rate might find itself receiving inquiries from customers who balk at the high initial price. If that same company determines that their quantified buyer persona has a WTP of $49 / month and a prospected Lifetime of 16 months, they might then decide to offer a monthly subscription at that price point, leading to more customers giving them a try and ultimately deciding to stay on long-term.

By identifying the marketing channel that’s leading most of these quantified buyer personas to your site, you can choose to emphasize the products they’re most likely to be interested in purchasing.

Pricing is an especially big challenge for retailers that offer subscription boxes or similar services It’s less straightforward than assigning a fixed price tag to an individual product, and there are many theories and strategies for optimizing the price points for a subscription-based service. A quantified buyer persona won’t necessarily tell you which method to go with, but they will provide a baseline of reliable data to inform your decisions.

How Dollar Shave Club Recovered Lost Online Revenue Discover how Dollar Shave Club prevented customer journey hijacking and increased conversion rates

Access the Case Study

How Do I Discover My Quantified Buyer Personas?

An easy place to start is to look closely at your most engaged customers. They’re the ones who stick with your brand by signing up for a newsletter, make repeat purchases, leave great product reviews, join your subscription box, and even championing your brand among their friends on social media. They represent a sort of “ideal” customer for you so you’d like to attract more like them, right?

Understand these customers by looking for common similarities in digital behavior. The ideal persona should be based on a goal you set for it. For example, if you imagine your ideal buyer persona to be an advocate for your brand and fundamental to its growth then perhaps you should create a buyer persona based on users that engage your content on social media.

Your Instagram followers could be the perfect fit for your brand so building a persona around users that like your content, comment on it, go to your website, join your subscription box program, and then upload their own photos of themselves with your products as they are delivered. Imagine if you could create a buyer persona out of this audience and successfully target it.

Now, I’m not saying that demographic data is useless. Actually, once you have your quantified persona data you can enrich it with demographic data that can better help you understand the audience. However, it’s important to start with the quantified data and then enrich with demographic data not the other way around. The next step is to connect your new persona with your products:

  1. Which products are of the most interest to the persona?
  2. Which marketing channels were effective in leading them to your site?
  3. Most importantly, hone in on the three key numbers that help you determine if you’re providing the right value for the price you’re charging: WTP, CAC, and LTV.
    1. How much does it cost to bring in a customer that answers all these criteria?
    2. How much would they be willing to pay per month?
    3. How long do they typically subscribe for?
    4. What is their overall life time value?

Getting this data may take time but it shouldn’t be difficult. These are all metrics any eCommerce subscription service should be tracking. Internally, you can seek out reporting and analytics from various customer-facing departments, such as competitor data, market research, and feedback from customer support. You should also go to the source by soliciting information directly from your customers via surveys, interviews, and comment forms.

When you have built a quantified buyer persona that addresses the subscription boxes they want, the price they’re willing to pay, and the cost of turning them into customers; then your teams can have a clear, shared vision of just who it is they’re designing for, who they’re marketing to, and what it is that draws these people to your company instead of your competitors.

Build It and They Will Come

Every step in the customer’s journey has the potential to yield useful insights into their motivations. Building the perfect, quantified buyer persona will take time and experimentation as you work to identify the type of buyer that best represents the optimal use of your acquisition and retention budget.

Study these customers, find their best paths through the conversion funnel, and map them. When you put together customer personas that stand on a foundation of solid, relevant data, you can make sales and marketing decisions based on proven facts about what your customers want and how they interact with your site.

Stop trying to guess how to translate the personality traits you might find listed on social media or a dating app into actionable business insights. By quantifying your buyer persona, your path to optimizing your SaaS pricing becomes clear, accurate, and profitable.

19 Jul 15:48

10 Charts That Will Change Your Perspective Of AI In Marketing

by Louis Columbus

  • Top-performing companies are more than twice as likely to be using AI for marketing (28% vs. 12%) according to Adobe’s latest Digital Intelligence Briefing.
  • Retailers are investing $5.9B this year in AI-based marketing and customer service solutions to improve shoppers’ buying experiences according to IDC.
  • Financial Services marketers lead all other industries in AI application adoption, with 37% currently using them today.
  • Sales and Marketing teams most often collaborate using Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) and Marketing Automation AI-based applications, with sales leaders predicting AI adoption will increase 155% across sales teams in two years.

Artificial Intelligence enables marketers to understand sales cycles better, correlating their strategies and spending to sales results. AI-driven insights are also helping to break down data silos so marketing and sales can collaborate more on deals. Marketing is more analytics and quant-driven than ever before with the best CMOs knowing which metrics and KPIs to track and why they fluctuate.

The bottom line is that machine learning and AI are the technologies CMOs and their teams need to excel today. The best CMOs balance the quant-intensive nature of running marketing with qualitative factors that make a company’s brand and customer experience unique. With greater insight into how prospects make decisions when, where, and how to buy, CMOs are bringing a new level of intensity into driving outcomes. An example of this can be seen from the recent Forbes Insights and Quantcast research, Lessons of 21st-Century Brands Modern Brands & AI Report (17 pp., PDF, free, opt-in). The study found that AI enables marketers to increase sales (52%), increase in customer retention (51%), and succeed at new product launches (49%). AI is making solid contributions to improving lead quality, persona development, segmentation, pricing, and service.

The following ten charts provide insights into how AI is transforming marketing:

  • 21% of sales leaders rely on AI-based applications today, with the majority collaborating with marketing teams sharing these applications. Sales leaders predict that their use of AI will increase 155% in the next two years. Sales leaders predict AI will reach critical mass by 2020 when 54% expect to be using these technologies. Marketing and sales are relying on AI-based marketing automation, configure-price-quote (CPQ), and intelligent selling systems to increase revenue and profit growth significantly in the next two years. Source: Salesforce Research, State of Sales, 3rd edition. (58 pp., PDF, free, opt-in).

  • AI sees the most significant adoption by marketers working in $500M to $1B companies, with conversational AI for customer service is the most dominant. Businesses with between $500M to $1B lead all other revenue categories in the number and depth of AI adoption use cases. Just over 52% of small businesses with sales of $25M or less are using AI for predictive analytics for customer insights. It’s interesting to note that small companies are the leaders in AI spending, at 38.1%, to improve marketing ROI by optimizing marketing content and timing. Source: The CMO Survey: Highlights and Insights Report, February 2019. Duke University, Deloitte and American Marketing Association. (71 pp., PDF, free, no opt-in).

  • 22% of marketers currently are using AI-based applications with an additional 57% planning to use in the next two years. There are nine dominant use cases marketers are concentrating on today, ranging from personalized channel experiences to programmatic advertising and media buying to predictive customer journeys and real-time next best offers. Source: Salesforce’s State of Marketing Study, 5th edition

  • Content personalization and predictive analytics from customer insights are the two areas CMOs most prioritize AI spending today. The CMO study found that B2B service companies are the top user of AI for content personalization (62.2%) and B2B product companies use AI for augmented and virtual reality, facial recognition and visual search more than any other business types. Source: CMOs’ Top Uses For AI: Personalization and Predictive Analytics. Marketing Charts. March 14, 2019

  • Personalizing the overall customer journey and driving next-best offers in real-time are the two most common ways marketing leaders are using AI today, according to Salesforce. Improving customer segmentation, improving advertising and media buying, and personalizing channel experiences are the next fastest-growing areas of AI adoption in marketing today. Source: Salesforce’s State of Marketing Study, 5th edition

  • 81% of marketers are either planning to or are using AI in audience targeting this year. 80% are currently using or planning to use AI for audience segmentation. EConsultancy’s study found marketers are enthusiastic about AI’s potential to increase marketing effectiveness and track progress. 88% of marketers interviewed say AI will enable them t be more effective in getting to their goals. Source: Dream vs. Reality: The State of Consumer First and Omnichannel Marketing. EConsultancy (36 pp., PDF, free, no opt-in).

  • Over 41% of marketers say AI is enabling them to generate higher revenues from e-mail marketing. They also see an over 13% improvement in click-thru rates and 7.64% improvement in open rates. Source: 4 Positive Effects of AI Use in Email Marketing, Statista (infographic), March 1, 2019.


19 Jul 15:45

How to Design Your Customer Success Strategy to Win More Customers Faster

by Ross Fulton

geralt / Pixabay

As a B2B SaaS company, your customer success strategy can be your best sales strategy.

And I don’t just mean for expanding customers through upsells and cross-sells (farming).

I mean for acquiring net-new customers. I’m talking about hunting. Your customer success strategy can be your best customer acquisition strategy.

Here’s how I measure “best customer acquisition strategy” in this context:

  • Win Percentage
  • Optimum Deal Size (dollars paid up front)
  • Speed of Sale


  • Time to First Value (post-sale)

Many B2B SaaS companies suffer from too many competitive losses, heavily discounted quotes, and no-decisions during net-new sales cycles.

These weaknesses are often compounded by a failure to consistently, quickly, and efficiently get the customers that are acquired to First Value as part of onboarding.

If this is your company, you’re not alone. This is endemic in B2B SaaS companies today.

The cure lies in the design and application of your customer success strategy.

When your customer success strategy is designed and applied correctly to the customer acquisition phase of your customer lifecycle, you will win bigger deals with more customers faster—all while ensuring these new customers can achieve First Value quickly during onboarding.

Allow me to explain why this is the case and how to make it happen.

I’ll start by predicting that one or more of the conditions below applies to your B2B SaaS company.

Your B2B SaaS Product Is a Commodity

In the vast majority of B2B SaaS market categories, your product functionality, machine learning algorithms, and a plethora of “out-of-the-box” APIs are now commodities. They’re no longer differentiators.

The cost and technology barriers to integrating the latest and greatest technological innovations into a B2B SaaS product are declining rapidly. This is thanks to offerings from the likes of Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, and Google that provide these previously cutting-edge capabilities as pre-built services.

The expertise and financial investment needed to integrate these capabilities into a B2B SaaS product is falling rapidly and adoption is skyrocketing.

Your B2B SaaS Market Is Saturated

Perhaps your company is an increasingly rare specimen with truly differentiated product capabilities. But is your prospect able to see that your features are indeed differentiated from all the other SaaS products like yours?

B2B SaaS market saturation in a number of tech categories is real.

Take the mar-tech category for example. In April 2019, released their annual Mar-tech 5000—yes, the top 5,000 mar-tech companies—and yet, in 2019 there were actually 7,040 companies known to be competing in this space!

This type of market saturation creates an overwhelming amount of sales white noise for prospects. Can your product’s features/functions really stand out in these types of crowds?

Your Sales Teams Are Pitching Commoditized Outcomes

But hey, let’s say I’m wrong about your product. You do have great product feature/function differentiators AND your prospect is able to easily and intuitively identify these.

You still have one major problem.

Feature/function selling doesn’t work anyway and your sales leaders should know this. They likely know B2B buyers are seeking value and outcomes. The sales strategy du jour is value-based or outcome-based selling.

Here again, in B2B SaaS, your company is at risk of running into commodification.

In Harvard Business Review, Bain & Company published an article that does a great job of framing the types of value B2B customers desire.

As part of the article, Bain produced the B2B Elements of Value pyramid.The pyramid organizes 40 distinct kinds of B2B value into five levels.

At the bottom of the pyramid are what Bain describes as table stakes, i.e. the value you need to be offering (and delivering) to even have a chance of acquiring a customer.

In B2B SaaS, the table stakes are actually what Bain describes as Functional Value in addition to their Table Stakes category.

How many B2B SaaS companies do you know don’t offer one or more of these Functional Values as an “outcome”:

  • Improved Top Line
  • Cost Reduction
  • Product Quality
  • Scalability
  • Innovation


These are commoditized outcomes. All your competitors are pitching the same versions of these.

And I would go as far to say these aren’t outcomes at all. They’re basic value propositions. At best, they’re strategic goals held by your prospects.

How can you compete, differentiate and win?

Prescribe Your Customer Success Strategy to Your Prospects

To win more ideal customers and better-sized deals faster, you need to move up the pyramid.

You need to design your sales strategy to address not only the prospect’s strategic goals but also what Bain identifies as the more subjective value types that buyers are seeking:

  • Ease of Doing Business Value
  • Individual Value
  • Inspirational Value

These subjective value types are at the root of how your customer success strategy should be designed.

A well-designed customer success strategy is based on prescriptive versions of the customer success strategy components below. Each of these components addresses the subjective value types above.

  • What measurable outcomes the customer will achieve by adopting your product.
  • How these measurable outcomes will combine to achieve or, at least, contribute to the achievement of the customer’s relevant strategic goals.
  • In what sequence these outcomes will be achieved by the customer.
  • What activities, roles, and data are required from both you, the vendor, AND the customer to achieve each outcome.
  • When (in approximate number of days) will the customer achieve the first outcome post-purchase.

Note the use of the word “prescriptive” above. In B2B SaaS, the design of your customer success strategy must enable a prescriptive motion.

You—the expert in your product, the expert in the market you serve, the expert in how value is realized from your product—should be diagnosing and then prescribing to your customers in the same way that a doctor diagnoses and then prescribes to their patients.

A prescriptive motion is both efficient and scalable.

This is opposed to taking a custom approach with each customer for defining the outcomes they want to achieve and how those outcomes will be achieved.

The custom approach is neither efficient nor scalable.

This prescriptive motion is especially critical in SaaS. Efficiency and scalability are key to the economics of your subscription revenue model being successful.

It just so happens that prescriptive selling is also a very effective sales practice in order to win deals.

Do you see the dots starting to connect?

A prescriptive customer success strategy is not only a very effective customer success strategy that will drive retention and expansion. It also serves as a very effective sales strategy when those prescriptions are applied presale.

This presale application of your customer success strategy not only addresses the functional value types (the strategic goals/outcomes) your prospects are seeking but also the subjective value types.

Go give it a try. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

19 Jul 15:44

Revenue Streams and Your Business Model

by Steven Imke

Choosing a Revenue Stream

When it comes to choosing revenue streams as part of the overall Business Model Canvas, there are many factors that affect your sources of revenue.

Pricing Mechanisms

Your first consideration when defining your revenue streams is to give some thought to your general pricing mechanisms. Your pricing mechanism can be either to employ fixed pricing or a form of dynamic pricing for your product or service.

Fixed Pricing

When it comes to defining fixed pricing, do you only offer just a single list price, like a restaurant menu? Or do you offer customer segment pricing which features different prices based on specific customers, such as offering reduced prices for seniors or veterans? Finally, do you offer volume-dependent pricing where you provide discount pricing if the customer buys in bulk? In all fixed pricing situations, you have a defined price for your product or service based on a set of defined rules.

Dynamic Pricing

In addition to the more traditional fixed pricing mechanism, your revenue streams may come through a dynamic pricing mechanism. One form of dynamic pricing might be negotiated pricing, such as buying a car or home where the final price is negotiable. Another form of dynamic pricing is yield management pricing, where the price changes based upon your inventory, like airline ticket prices changing based on the time left and how many available seats are yet unsold. Real-time market pricing is defined by supply and demand factor, like how stocks or commodities go up and down. Lastly, you might offer pricing based on an auction price through a bidding process, similar to how buyers make a purchase on platforms like eBay.

Transactional or Reoccurring Revenue Streams

Your next major consideration is to determine if your revenue will come from a single transaction or reoccurring transactions When you have a revenue stream based on a single transaction, you receive a single one-time payment for your product or service. However, when you have a reoccurring revenue stream, you receive ongoing payments that deliver value or provide post-sales support to your customers.

An important consideration when deciding between a transactional or reoccurring revenue stream is related to your cost of customer acquisition. For a single transaction, your customer acquisition costs are spread across just one transaction opposed to a recurring transaction, where your customer acquisition costs are spread across many transactions.

Fee-Based Revenue Streams

When you sell a product like a car or furniture, the customer is buying a physical asset. Once it is owned by the consumer, they are free to do whatever they want with it. They can use it or sell it without your permission. However, there are a bunch of other revenue streams that are fee-based revenue streams. With fee-based revenue streams, the business continues to own the underlining asset and gives permission to the customer to use it.

Here are some common examples of fee-based revenue streams you may want to consider for your business.

Usage Fees

The more they are used, the more the customer pays the business. ATM charges are one example of a usage fee. Every time you use an ATM machine, the bank charges you a fee. The more you use ATMs, the more the bank changes you. Another example is a cell phone data plan. The wireless carrier charges the customer a usage fee based on the amount of data they used. Usage fees represent a variable but recurring revenue to the business.

Subscription Fees

Revenue is generated by continuing to provide access to a service. Fitness centers have a monthly subscription plan to continue to provide the user access to the gym. Netflix charges a monthly subscription fee to provide continued access to its online streaming video service. With a subscription fee, the user is granted unlimited access to the service during the subscription period. Whether you use it a little or a lot, the subscription fee is the same price. Subscription fees represent a consistent reoccurring source of revenue to the business.


Revenue is generated by temporarily granting exclusive rights to use an asset for a fixed period of time. When you rent a car, the rental agency gives you exclusive use of the vehicle for the term of the rental agreement, and no one else can use the asset while it is assigned to the customer. However, once the period is over the asset can be assigned to another customer, and the customer has no ownership of the product during the term besides the exclusive right to use it. Lending, renting, and leasing can be either transactional or recurring revenue, and represent a consistent source of income for the period of the agreement.


Revenue is generated by giving the customer permission to use protected intellectual property and allowing the customer the right to generate revenue from the property. Patent holders often license their ideas to a manufacturer in exchange for a fixed fee or a royalty on all sales. Licensing can be either transactional or recurring revenue.

Brokerage Fees

Revenue is generated by an intermediary service performed between two or more parties. A credit card company collects a brokerage fee by connecting the merchant to the customer. The credit card company owns nothing, they just facilitate the transaction. Another example of a brokerage fee is when a real estate broker captures a commission for matching a buyer and a seller. Brokerage fees are typically transactional revenue.

Advertising Fees

Revenue is generated from fees charged to a third party to present a message to your customers. Advertising can be either transactional or recurring revenue.

Financing Fees

Revenue in the form of interest is generated by selling either an asset or a service to a customer, and then extending credit to the customer so that they can pay for the purchase over a period of time.

Revenue Stream Questions

While there are many options that you can employ to generate revenue for a business, there are several questions that you should ask yourself when choosing the best options for your business:

  • For what value are your customers really willing to pay?
  • What do they currently pay?
  • How are they currently paying?
  • How would they prefer to pay?
  • How much does each revenue stream contribute to your overall business revenue?

When it comes to your revenue streams, do you have a clear picture of all the ways you can generate revenue?

Business Model Canvas Book

Applying the Business Model Canvas, A Practical Guide For Small Business is a book that was written for the entrepreneur trying to come up with a workable new business model. By using the Socratic method of asking and answering questions for each of the 13 building blocks of the Business Model Canvas and the Value Proposition Model. The reader will be able to turn abstract ideas into a practical business model in no time. The book is a concise and easy to read guide packed with solid advice and examples that will help you refine your new business ideas before you launch helping you avoid costly mistakes.

19 Jul 15:43

How to 10X Your Sales Development Team’s Productivity

by Joan Mirano
sales development team productivity replay

I’ll be blunt. Today’s buyers don’t care about your sales process. They care if and how you are offering them the solution to their business challenge. BUT…it’s not as simple as merely offering a great product and executing a sales process.

You have to be alongside your buyer throughout the entire buying process, ready to lend a helping hand at each and every stage. You are their tour guide, recommender, and trusted advisor on their path to purchase.

Join Drift’s Mark Kilens and Sam Jones for this session as they show you how to use live chat to have better conversations and create a buyer journey that is actually about…well…the buyer.

The post How to 10X Your Sales Development Team’s Productivity appeared first on Sales Hacker.

19 Jul 15:37

Get Promoted to Sales Management (Advice from 17 Experts)

by Danny Read
get promote sales management blog image

Are you in sales and looking to get promoted into management?

This was the gist of a question Scott Barker posed on LinkedIn.

Now, look at his advice: To become a sales manager, you essentially need to become an extension of your HR team — something every employee can do to make a positive impact on the organization.

This got me thinking about the habits and traits of my peers that have moved from IC (individual contributor) to sales management roles recently. Besides the “hustle & hard work” that everyone attributes to their success, there had to be something else they were doing to separate themselves.

These traits don’t necessarily need to be something that ICs do consciously — which is important to note. They’re simply success habits that natural-born leaders tend to adopt.

Of course, I also wanted feedback from industry veterans — the folks who are training & coaching sales management teams around the globe. What traits or skills do they look for in new managers?

And I wanted to create a takeaway framework that you can apply if you’re interested in moving up to a sales management role.

Keep reading to get:

Advice from 6 New Sales Managers

I tapped into my network and found individuals who have moved into management in the past year or so. I asked them:

“What qualities / habits / strategies did you use to move into management? These can be unconventional, unintentional, or traditional routes.”

Here’s what they had to say.

Brittany Wroblewski – Director of Strategic Partnerships at G2

The best advice I received when trying to move from IC to Manager is “do the job you want,” meaning, if you want to be a manager / leader start acting like it as an IC.

If you’re already doing manager activities — helping the team, sharing best practices, being a leader, etc. — it’s much easier for your manager to advocate for your promotion and, most importantly, for the team to view you as a leader and someone they can count on and trust.


Zachary Thompson – SDR Team Lead at DiscoverOrg

When I first started as an individual contributor, I had a hunger to learn as much as I possibly could from our top producers and from thought leaders in my space. Over the years, I’ve maintained that hunger.

I’ve also built habits around learning and building relationships with people to facilitate continued growth and learning. I made a habit of asking top producers on our SDR team and our AE team — and even our sales leadership and executive teams — to lunch so I could pick their brains and build rapport with them.

Over time, that developed into a reputation. Other individual contributors looked up to me, and more and more, I would have both new reps and experienced reps coming to me to ask questions or to bounce ideas around.

But more than just my individual growth and learning, I prioritized sharing what I learned with my peers — setting up informal seminar-style talks, role playing and practicing talk tracks, intentionally making myself available for other reps to come and talk to.

And that action of leading by example, even without any official title or position or monetary incentive, caught the attention of other leaders and managers and prompted my move into a more strategic management role.


Mike O’Connor – Manager, West RM Team at G2

When I made the decision that I wanted to get into Management, I shifted the way I thought about our challenges to a more high-level business lens.

I was one of the original Relationship Managers at G2 (which is the team I manage today) so in the first 6 months, there were a LOT of things we had to figure out.

As an Individual contributor, it’s easy to get caught up in the weeds and focus on all the mini fires that need to be put out.

When I decided that I wanted to be in management, however, I started thinking about the themes I was seeing and would communicate them to my then Manager so he knew that I cared about where this team was going and had ideas on what needed to be done for us to succeed.

When I started doing that, my leadership noticed that I was focused on the long-term mission and the TEAM rather than just myself, which I was told played a role in me ultimately being promoted.


Kyle Willis – BDR Manager at Directive Consulting

I was offered a specialist position at Directive (which I turned down) and pitched my CEO on building a sales team from the ground up.

The first 4–6 months were spent solely hustling. I went to 20–30 doors a day trying to get in front of any VP of Marketing at a B2B company who was on my targeted list and would hear me out.

I was delivering our case-studies book and realized it may not be enough. I started to key in on the details and began capitalizing on personalization. For example, one VP who let me in her office had a green smoothie on her desk, so I followed up with a killer smoothie recipe on my next visit. (We closed that deal.)

In sales, it’s all about the revenue generated. We can sit here and talk about all of the different KPIs (which are extremely important), but at the end of the day, you’re in your seat to drive revenue for the company.

If you’re sitting in a sales position and are trying to get into management, my 3 nuggets are:

  1. Spend as much time as you can with a top performer and understand their craft. Identify the areas in which they are more disciplined or have skills that are just a little bit sharper than yours. Go back to the table and hone your craft.
  2. Do what others are doing AND do what others aren’t. There is a reason that star sales rep consistently hits quota. And there are other areas of opportunity for you to unlock profitable channels that haven’t necessarily been explored. Find them, and you’ve just become an asset.
  3. Work out first thing in the morning. Studies show that you will have more energy, be in a better mood, and will be overall more productive if you exercise in the morning. I’m a 4:30am’er personally and firmly believe in early workouts and early bedtimes. On top of this, the discipline learned in the gym will naturally flow over into your career life.


Ryan Abramson – RVP Sales at G2

There are two behaviors that have served me best in my sales career. They are, in order…

1. Continuous learning. If I’m not selling, I’m reading, listening, watching, asking for advice, and assessing my skills. All with the intention of improving.

First, I try to understand what I need to improve on. Then, I seek out the resources and start learning.

When I got my first sales job, I went to Barnes and Noble (yes, I went to a bookstore) and picked out classic sales books from pioneers like Zig Ziglar. More recently I read books like The Challenger Sale, Never Split the Difference, Pitch Anything, and To Sell is Human. I recommend starting with pure sales books because unless you are a great seller, the path to promotion and management is a lot longer and harder.

From there, I moved into reading books about the business of startups like The Lean Startup and Blitzscaling. Knowing how the business moves from a macro perspective is a key part of succeeding in management.

Then I read books about management and culture like PEAK and Radical Candor. These helped me understand human motivation and managerial psychology. Some of my methods are unique to me, but a majority of them are combinations and adaptations of amazing tactics I’ve read over the years.

2. Hard Work. In sales and in life, there is no substitute for this. Work longer and harder than others, and you will succeed.

One caveat is to understand the skills and methods you need to be working on prior to working harder. Otherwise, you will be running in the wrong direction.

They say, work smarter not harder… I say, get smart and work harder.


Becc Holland – RVP, Business Development at G2

Not to be difficult, but I had absolutely ZERO strategy moving into management. I actually FOUGHT executive level at the time on whether I would make a good leader.

I was an AE & Enterprise AE, and when I came out to the Bay area, I took a step “back” to become an SDR so I could understand the tech ecosystem before I started closing again. I was a frontline SDR for 6 months, and based on the numbers I was posting, my CRO asked me to build and manage a global team.

Knowing the “rule” is that the best Individual Contributor is NOT always the best manager, I asked him why he thought I would make a good leader, because I thought I was a bit too self-centered for the job.

After I set appointments for AEs, I often would jump on the call and coach AEs on how to ask more compelling questions, since I was still a closer at heart. I would mute the microphone and feed them questions to ask throughout the demo — and it started to change the trajectory of their deals and drive higher conversion rates into closed revenue.

My CRO told me that the oddest part of the setup was that AEs were actually listening to me and going to me for sales questions before they even went to him, even though I was just an SDR.

He said that whether I was “self-centered” or not was another question, and it was something he could coach me on. But based on what he had seen, he thought that I had an inherent love for coaching whether I knew it or not, and wanted me to take that same passion to grow the SDR team.

3 Key Takeaways

After reading these 6 IC-to-Management stories, I see three common themes:

  1. Thirst for knowledge (natural curiosity)
  2. Unrelenting work ethic
  3. Find a mentor or be a mentor to someone else

It’s no secret that hard work leads to success and that natural curiosity/thirst for knowledge are keys to getting a promotion. Both of these subjects have been thoroughly written about in the last few years.

I think Zachary Thompson hit on a few very important points, but before dissecting them, I think it’s important to get two sides of a story.

Insights from 11 Top Sales Trainers & Consultants

You’ve read what successful ICs have done to get to the next level. Now, let’s ask the experts.

I asked some of the top sales trainers and consultants in the world this question:

“What actionable advice would you give an Individual Contributor that would increase their chances of getting promoted into their first management position?”

Here’s what they said:

Kristie Jones – Principal of Sales Acceleration Group

When I was starting my career, my father told me, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

Although he meant that literally, he knew that by dressing for the job I wanted next, I would also start to act and think like a person in that position, thus setting myself apart from my peers. It was psychological.

My dad’s advice still holds true today. If you want to increase your chances of being considered for a sales management position, find an employee that you believe you can help get to the next level and offer to mentor them.

This will accomplish a few things. It will allow you to see if you are actually good at it and find joy in helping others succeed (not every individual contributor will enjoy the move to management).

It will give the leaders in your company an opportunity to see your leadership and coaching style in action.

Lastly, if you are successful in taking your mentee to the next level, you will have earned the respect of your co-workers and they will have confidence in your ability to lead and coach them should the opportunity arise in the future.


Brynne Tillman – CEO of Social Sales Link

Great sales people don’t always make great sales leaders, so if this is an aspiration, there are a lot of aspects to consider:

  1. Do you have the ability to inspire and motivate?
  2. Do others come to you for answers?
  3. Do you have the patience to explain things multiple times?
  4. Do you feel personal satisfaction when someone else succeeds?
  5. Are you interested in analyzing the data behind success?
  6. Do you thrive in a collaborative environment?
  7. Are you willing to fall on the sword to protect your team?
  8. Are you able to take an unbiased view of any given situation?
  9. Can you coach for improvement rather than blame for mistakes?
  10. Are you ready to enable others to be responsible for your paycheck?

Sales leadership is one of the Peter Principal positions that can derail a career. Just because someone is an amazing producer does not mean they’ll make an amazing manager. Before considering a promotion, take that into consideration.

Once you’ve thought that through, I would recommend becoming a collaborative team player in your current role.

An easy way to do this is to share your successes and failures and encourage others to do the same. High tide lifts all boats, and if you can help lead a team from the deck of the ship, you’ll be a better commander of the fleet when the time comes.


Lars Nilsson – CEO of SalesSource

What actionable advice would I offer on how to become a sales manager? Three things:

  1. Soft skills / EQ – Self-awareness, self-regulation, and empathy are the big three for rising to sales management.
  2. Leadership – Know when your team can do better and needs a little push, and when they’re struggling and need you to advocate for them. Build a high level of trust.
  3. Execution – Executing on individual goals is hard. Executing on a strategy for a team is even harder.

If you want to be promoted into a sales management position, start thinking outside of your own goals now. If you’re a top performer, how can you make those around you better? Who can you support? What tactics and strategies can you suggest to management now?

Another “must do” is to seek mentorship of leaders who have been in the position you want. You will need them in your journey since they have seen and experienced what you have not.


Lori Richardson – President, WOMEN Sales Pros

  1. Keep track of your successes, achievements, and wins — in writing. At the end of every day, jot these down. It only takes a couple of minutes and, believe me, a comprehensive journal of these will pay off in a promotion and other rewards.
  2. Learn how your company operates financially and how your customers’ businesses operate financially. Take an online class about profit and loss. Meet with your CFO or head of finance.
  3. Focus on shining a light on others as much (or more) than yourself. Don’t just work on getting you promoted. Work on solving business issues, which may include your peers doing great work.
  4. Listen to the feedback you receive, and be open to it. If someone in a leadership role doesn’t see what you see, it doesn’t make you wrong. But it is on you to show up in a different way or to do something different.


Richard Harris – CEO of The Harris Consulting Group

Instead of asking your boss for advice on how to get promoted, ask them if there are any projects you can work on to support them — and promise it won’t affect quota. If you can do it without telling them it’s because you want to be promoted, that is best.

You want them to ask, “Why do you want to do that?”

Then you say, “Well, my goal is to move up, but I’m not gonna whine about it. I want to show everyone I’ll do what it takes.”

You do it that way, and you just took a part of their soul.


Barbara Giamanco – CEO of Social Centered Selling

If you want to become a sales manager, first be a sales superstar in your current role. Go above and beyond quota expectations to demonstrate you have what it takes to lead.

Next, make your intention known to the right executives in your company, starting with your boss. Focus on communicating the next level of value you can bring to your company in a management role. If you just want a promotion and more money… move along.

Finally, learn, learn, learn! Read books, watch videos or webinars, get coaching, talk to other managers about what the job really entails… in other words, prepare.

Transitioning from individual contributor to sales manager isn’t easy, but with the right mindset, willingness to learn, and hard work, you can do it!


Matt Cameron – CEO of SaaSy Sales Management

Two things will help you become a sales manager:

  1. Think “ABH” (Always be helping.) – Distinguish yourself by becoming the “go-to” person reps seek assistance from. You’ll take some burden from your manager and establish yourself in the minds of your peers as a leader.
  2. Behave like management, not union – Start wearing a “perspective lens” that sees things from the company’s angle when discussing things like territories and quotas. If you always empathize with the team, it will hold you back.


Alice Heiman – Founder of Alice Heiman, LLC

Build a development plan for yourself. Determine what you will learn and when. If you want to learn leadership, find books, podcasts, webinars, and courses and take learning into your own hands.

Find a mentor. Find someone who is a great leader. Ask that person to mentor you.

But before you do, research mentoring and figure out what type of mentoring you want, so you can ask for that. Don’t give up. If one person can’t mentor you, find another.

This doesn’t have to be a leader from your sales team or organization. Ask your friends for the best sales leader they know and get an introduction so you can ask if they will mentor you.

You don’t have to be the boss to be a leader. Find ways to lead in your current position. Lead a project or a small group. Start a book club of your peers who would also like to learn leadership skills.

Read The Inner Edge by Joelle Jay.


John Barrows – CEO of JBarrows

Become more of a scientist than an artist. If you’re an artist in sales and don’t have a true sales process, there is no way you will be able to teach anyone else how you do what you do.

If you’re more of a scientist in sales and can outline a process that you implement and improve along the way to drive results for yourself, then you can apply that process to others once you become a manager.


Jake Dunlap – CEO of Skaled

The only way to get promoted is to know your boss’ boss’ expectations. You have to know what they care about, above and beyond hitting quota, to earn a promotion.

Keep in mind, leadership isn’t a goal — because you can’t control whether or not you achieve it. Work with your Director / VP on their key non-sales-related expectations and make it your goal to be excellent at those. That’s the path to becoming a sales manager.


Keenan – CEO of A Sales Guy Inc.

Become the current team’s informal leader. If they will follow you without a title, they will follow you with one.




3 Key Takeaways

These 11 experts offer quite a few lessons and advice for getting promoted to sales management. I loved that none of them talked about work ethic or knowledge, because those are prerequisites for success, but they aren’t the defining difference.

It’s kind of like getting your bachelor’s degree. Everyone is getting one. So when you’re up for a job, it boils down to how else you’re different.

The differentiators are traits, or habits — which you have total control over.

Here are three traits that were touched on from the consultants, along with a breakdown for how to do them and real examples from my experience.

  1. Without asking, take initiative to solve problems for your boss or your company that are outside of your job description (without letting it affect IC quota).
  • How? Think about 3 problems your boss is dealing with this month. Now think about 3 problems your company is dealing with this half. Of these 6 problems, which one can you help solve? Start there. If you can’t think of any problems, you need to get to know your boss or company better. Seek out people in positions of authority and ask how you can be helping them.
  • Real example at G2: Anna Najduch was our Senior Implementation Specialist responsible for onboarding new clients. We started to launch complex API integrations that customers could buy, but it was up to the customer to set them up (outside Anna’s job description). Instead of working 9–5, Anna spent extra time to learn how these integrations worked by spending time with the lead developer who built them. Then she started volunteering to take all integration calls so she could help our customers make the most out of their purchase. Since Anna went above and beyond her job description, G2 created a new role for her — Solutions Consultant.
  1. Be the resource your team comes to for help, advice, and direction.
  • How? It takes time to develop, but the easiest way is by becoming a product expert. Get to know the finer details of your product/service and be the go-to resource for questions from people at your company. Another great way is to offer your help to new hires. If you can be a resource for them on Day 1 (with no expectations in return) then you are already a leader to them on their first day.
  • Real example at G2: Mike O’Connor was one of our first account managers when we shifted our sales org to start incorporating them. From Day 1, he was the go-to resource for anyone in the company (especially other AM’s) who had questions about process, talk tracks, and best practices. Mike made everyone around him better when it wasn’t part of his job description. So when the team got big enough, Mike was the clear choice to manage the team.
  1. Create a repeatable process that can help others.
  • How? Document everything. Think critically about how to scale the work you do and make sure to keep it recorded and written down somewhere. Build a playbook around it.
  • Real example at G2: Walter Mansky was the first BDR hired at G2. I was the second. When I got in the door, Walter already had created several pages of workflows for how he was doing his job. A lot of it was template-based stuff around our industry reports so he downloaded a tool called aText to save templates that you could type in “*XYZ” and it would auto-write the template for you. The other process-based work included screenshots of exactly how to do admin work, so it was super straight-forward. I would not have been nearly as successful if Walter didn’t spend a bunch of time documenting his work to share. Eventually, we expanded his framework to train new BDR’s.

6-Step Framework: IC —-> Management

To leave you with an actionable framework, develop these 6 success habits to start cementing your first promotion into sales management.

  1. Develop a Thirst for Knowledge – Read books, listen to podcasts, consume content from leaders in the industry, meet with top performers at your company, network with people in your industry.
  2. Have an Unrelenting Work Ethic – Motivate yourself to out-work your peers while being the leader on the company dashboards. Develop good habits to make the most of your time.
  3. Find a Mentor or be one – Having a mentor is like having a GPS when driving. Without them, you only see open roads, and you have no idea where they lead. With a mentor, you can arrive at your destination faster with less time spent guessing what path to take.
  4. Solve Problems Outside of your Job Description – Without asking, take initiative to solve problems for your boss or your company, including problems you aren’t responsible for. Start by identifying those problems and finding the 1–2 you have the skills to solve.
  5. Become your Team’s Informal Leader – Be your team’s internal resource for advice, best practices, and direction. Become the product expert who people can rely on, and help new employees ramp up quickly.
  6. Create a Repeatable Process That Can Help Others – Document what you are doing and make it a science. Fine-tune it, tweak it, and make sure others can follow it while leaving room for creativity.

Make the Leap to Sales Management

The 6-Step Framework I shared above is the perfect way to become a sales manager. But if you implement those 6 steps, you’ll be a better (and more valuable) asset to your company, whether or not you take the next step into management.

So start building the habits that will make you the obvious choice for a promotion. Along the way, you’ll discover whether leadership is something you really want — or if you honestly prefer leading from the ranks.

Either way, you’ll develop a mindset that makes you successful in any sales role you fill — both now and in the future.

The post Get Promoted to Sales Management (Advice from 17 Experts) appeared first on Sales Hacker.

19 Jul 15:36

How to Create Word-of-Mouth Buzz

by Amity Kapadia

In digital marketing where the landscape is changing at the drop of dime, it’s important for marketers to lean on proven strategies – like how to create word-of-mouth marketing buzz – rather than staying on top of the latest trend that might negatively impact your bottom line, and eat up many of your resources.

When everything is available to us at our fingertips, it’s easy for businesses to get caught up in the many marketing avenues the web has to offer. Successful marketers know that chasing the trend du jour only serves as a distraction of time, money, and not to mention, resources. While things like social media advertising and email marketing are still great tools, the single most powerful way to reach more people and turn those prospects into paying customers is through word-of-mouth marketing.

A good word-of-mouth marketing strategy has the opportunity to deliver something that resonates with your brand and customers, is evergreen, and grows more valuable over time.

The Playbook on How to Create Word-of-Mouth Buzz

So how can brands harness the power of word-of-mouth to gain new leads, valuable traffic, and new leads?

how to create word-of-mouth buzz icon 11. Find the right word-of-mouth strategy for your brand

Digital marketing, and especially social marketing, is actually a form of word-of-mouth marketing. Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook are all just different forms of the same foolproof tool. But how do you stay “on trend” while sticking to your budget?

Constantly iterate and strategically invest.

Find a word-of-mouth marketing strategy – such as, a referral program – that works for your brand and truly adopt it to match your overall business goals.

Let’s say you recruit 100 passionate brand ambassadors and each of those 100 people has their own network of 1,000 people. Every time one of those ambassadors shares information about your brand, it reaches everyone within their network, ultimately extending your reach to an additional 100,000 people. All of this without having to pay for additional advertising. Plus, given the statistics on how much more likely people are to purchase based on recommendations, this increased reach will be much more lucrative in terms of sales potential.

Take Ria Financial, for example. Over the course of 25+ years, one of the biggest drivers of growth for the company was good, old fashioned word-of-mouth. So when Ria began to build out its digital business, incorporating referral marketing technology was a no-brainer. At scale, the company expected referrals to become the engine driving its new customer acquisition efforts, ideally at a low CPA and with minimal customer service issues. To reach that goal, Ria made the strategic decision to invest in a referral marketing platform. Three months later, Ria acquired thousands of new customers and generated a large stream of referrals.

Word of Mouth Marketing Referral Program Example

Clearly, word-of-mouth marketing works. But that isn’t always enough. Just kicking off a program and walking away will rarely deliver scalable results of that caliber. As with most marketing initiatives, nurturing is a must.

2. Connect personally with your audience

When people see ads on TV, on billboards, in magazines or online, they know those ads are being manufactured by the company behind them. A recommendation, on the other hand, even from a person who isn’t a friend or family member, is perceived to be unbiased, making it more believable and trustworthy.

In fact, a study2 by Jay Baer showed that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know directly, and even anonymous reviewers have a 70% trust rate when they post online about a brand.

Use your brand’s social channels to join the conversation your customers and potential customers are already having about you. The more people trust the opinions of others, the more your sales should increase.

According to Hubspot, 71% of consumers said they would be much more likely to make a purchase based on a recommendation, compared to just 7% that would purchase without such a recommendation. That means if you’ve got a crowd of fans who are passionate about your brand and willing to share that passion with others, your sales will statistically go up just based on that word-of-mouth push.

how to create word-of-mouth buzz icon 33. Don’t post-and-pray or set-it-and-forget-it

Word-of-mouth marketing needs to be treated like every other marketing strategy – which means, you need to set goals and measure success. Whether that’s brand awareness from social, revenue generated from referrals, engagement from influencers, or conversions from affiliates – setting clear expectations and analyzing the program is crucial to word-of-mouth success.

Which brings us to partnering with the right technology. Many vendors fall short when it comes to providing the metrics necessary to determine word-of-mouth success.

Inflated statistics and misleading numbers can pull the wool over a brand’s eyes, but access and visibility to real data and metrics are a must-have when reviewing platforms. By trusting a technology partner that provides insights that includes shares, clicks, referrals, and most importantly, revenue generated, brands that are able to see the true value in word-of-mouth platforms will ultimately gain the best results.

Happy customers that love your product or service enough and are willing to spread the word about your brand are much more likely to be repeat customers. It goes beyond that, though. The buyers that brand ambassadors influence also tend to be more loyal, long-term customers. In turn, as these customers strap in for the long haul, many of them will also take up the cause and become an advocate for your company.

So, the cycle is self-perpetuating.

While there are certainly plenty of options available to you when developing an online marketing strategy, none of these options are as powerful and effective as word-of-mouth. The more buzz you can generate about your brand, the more success and growth you will continue to realize and that buzz begins with passionate brand ambassadors.


19 Jul 15:36

How To Align Your B2B Prospecting Strategy with Sales Pipeline Stages

by Sean Callahan
Aligning B2B Prospecting Strategies with Pipeline Stages

How many best practices, methodologies, or “groundbreaking” new sales approaches find their way into your feed each week? The world of B2B sales is full of content touting the next best thing in sales — be it mastering your pipeline, understanding the sales funnel, or improving the buyer journey. It can be overwhelming to try and make sense of it all.

Amid this dizzying barrage of info and insight, I find it helpful to simplify by thinking about B2B prospecting strategy in terms of sales pipeline stages. This mindset enables sellers to meet buyers where they are at, customizing approaches situationally. Ultimately, this will benefit every element of your operation.

How to Align Your B2B Prospecting Strategy with Sales Pipeline Stages

Sales pipeline stages define the actions taking place at each level of the sales funnel. As a modern B2B sales leader, focusing on pipeline management is essential. Companies that master pipeline management see 28% higher revenue growth than those that don’t. And, sales managers who regularly discuss pipeline management with their reps see 11% higher revenue averages.

“When sales managers add scheduled, in-depth, one-on-one discussions about early-stage deals to their regular pipeline scrubs, team performance improves remarkably,” says Michelle Vazzana, CEO of Vantage Point Performance, in a recent post for Selling Power Blog. Any way you cut it, understanding each stage of your sales pipeline helps you build revenue and gain efficiency.

If the stages of the sales pipeline are still a bit hazy from your point of view, read on to learn how you can better align your prospecting strategy accordingly.

Gain Visibility with Your Audience

The first of the sales pipeline stages is lead generation, a top-of-funnel function. Knowing what you want from your lead-generation efforts is important, because it informs the strategy used to accomplish your prospecting goals. To gain visibility among your audience and begin establishing relationships with key members, connect with prospective leads and regularly share valuable, relevant content.

Connect with Prospects

Connecting with a potential buyer early gives you the chance to build trust and help guide their buying journey all the way to a deal. LinkedIn’s Advanced Search allows you to filter individuals by name, title, company, location, and more, so you can find buyers in your industry and region more quickly.

Meanwhile, LinkedIn Sales Navigator keeps you up-to-speed on what’s happening in your network, extended network, and groups, providing insight into how you can generate more leads and advance them through the sales cycle. Sales Navigator helps you uncover potential selling opportunities and provides the data you need to leverage those opportunities.

Share Relevant Content

Once you’ve connected with a prospect, the last thing you want to do is bombard them with sales messages. Instead, post and share relevant content — such as industry news, trends, or debates — on a regular basis, so that your audience begins to view you as a knowledgeable authority within your industry.

We know that buyers want content that’s easy to access, so you can leverage PointDrive to package and share your sales content with audience members in a format that doesn’t require download, and looks good on any device. You can also track who views and engages with your content via PointDrive, giving you greater insight into who may be ready for a sales conversation.

Qualify Your Leads

With a pool of potential buyers in mind, it’s time to begin qualifying these leads. Start by reviewing their LinkedIn profiles and visible activities. What groups do they actively engage with? Do they express a particular need or pain point? Are there recurring themes in the content they share? Answers to these questions will provide insight into the type of resources and talking points that may resonate, as well as how you might be able to meet their needs.

If it turns out your prospect isn’t a quality lead, that’s OK, too. Not everyone who turns up in your Advanced Search results will be a fit. In these cases it can still be useful to build a relationship because that person might develop a need later, or they might be able to connect you to others.

Nurture Relationships to Build Trust

The second stage of the sales pipeline is lead nurturing, which happens both at the middle and bottom of the sales funnel. Once you’ve gathered leads, begin nurturing those relationships by engaging with your prospects’ content, just as you want them to engage with yours.

Make yourself known by joining the conversation. Comment on your prospects’ posts and offer solutions in a way that feels genuine, not forced. Or, reach out one-on-one via InMail. You can leverage Sales Navigator to detect timing triggers that will help you reach out at the right time to offer value.

When a prospect switches roles, is mentioned in the news, or engages with a piece of your content, take it as a welcome invitation to start a conversation. The more helpful you can be, the more you’ll be viewed as an advocate with their interests in mind. That’s how trust is established and solidified.

Stay in Touch (Even After the Sale)

Nurturing customer relationships all the way through the end of a deal and after is just as important as earlier sales pipeline stages. To maintain an ongoing relationship with your buyer, continue engaging with their content and checking in occasionally (birthdays, work anniversaries, and promotions are prime opportunities). Doing so will help you preserve a customer’s trust, making them more inclined to buy from you again in the future (and refer others).

Align with Sales Pipeline Stages to Target the Right Buyers and Increase Deal Velocity

Throughout each of the sales pipeline stages, your sales and marketing teams should work to align their messaging and create content that resonates in context. It’s up to you to share that content in order to gain visibility from your B2B buyer at every step of the sales process.

With an understanding of what takes place at each stage of the sales pipeline, you can begin to improve your prospecting strategy so that the two are in alignment. From there, nothing can hold you back from gaining more leads and winning more deals.

For more tips on engaging prospects throughout the sales pipeline, subscribe to the LinkedIn Sales Blog.


19 Jul 15:36

Knowing “How To Win,” Makes You A Better Prospector!

by David Brock

Social media channels are dominated by top of the pipeline/funnel thinking. The answer to making your numbers is always more demand gen, lead gen and prospecting. There are battles between pundits on which approach is better. For example the traditional prospecting camp and the social selling camp. In reality, we need to do it all.

The message in at least 80% of the articles/books one reads focuses on lead gen, demand gen, and prospecting. Talk to any manager, most will say, “We need more in our pipelines.”

But in, How Do You Win, I suggested our thinking was backwards. Rather than stuffing more into the top of the pipelines, I suggested we are much better off learning how to win the opportunities we have already found, and maximizing the value of each deal.

I won’t rehash everything I wrote in that post, but I suggested we are squandering the opportunities we have, forcing us to prospect more than we really need to. Knowing how to win, enables us to make the most of every opportunity we qualify.

Don’t get me wrong, we need to continually be replenishing our pipelines, we do that by prospecting. But for a given goal, we have to prospect less if we drive our win rates or average deal sizes up.

But knowing how to win is critical for our prospecting results, as well. If we know how to win, we know how to engage our customers in high value creation means. We know what their problems are, what they worry about, how they buy, how they assess the alternatives, how we create value with the customer in their buying process.

The more we know how and why we win, the more we have the actual experience in engaging our customers in their problem solving and buying journeys, the better we can connect with them when we are prospecting.

Customers prefer to let their fingers do the walking through Google. It’s not that they won’t see a sales person, but the digital journey is much more efficient for them. They complain, “sales people don’t know my business or my problems, they don’t know their products and how their products help me address my problems……”

I bet you can see where I’m going………

The answer to the customer problems with sales people is to have sales people who know how to win deals! They’ve been through this cycle many times, they’ve engaged in the questions, they’ve heard the objections, they’ve dealt with competition, they’ve learned how to keep customers moving on their buying journey====and they know how to do that successfully!

The sales person that has a 50% win rate will be a far better prospector than the person with a 20% win rate. They know how to prospect and find the right deals faster, they don’t waste their time prospecting the wrong types of deals. Because of their experience—and success—they will engage the customer in prospecting conversations with far greater credibility.

As a result, just like they don’t squander qualified opportunities, they won’t squander leads or prospecting meetings.

Sales success is less about the volume of activities we do, but it is based on the consistent execution of those activities that cause us to win. And if we don’t know how, we will never be as successful as we should be.

In How Do You Win, I suggested first things first—before you focus on prospecting, make sure you know how to win, at the highest possible value, in the shortest possible time. Do that, and you find you have to prospect less to make your number.

But prospecting is critical! To maximize the results you get from prospecting, you have to first know how to win!

Funny how that works…….

Afterword: If you are an individual contributor or a manager coaching sales people in How To Win, and Prospecting, write me for our Sales Execution Framework (SEF), it’s a simple guide that helps you understand how to maximize your performance and where to focus your efforts to achieve your goals.

Customers who have used this are seeing double digit increases in win rates, double digit increases in average deal size, higher quality more robust pipelines, and higher forecast accuracy. It’s free, just email me at

After-Afterword: You might start thinking, “What are the implications of this on SDRs?” The SDR role is one of the most important, yet most difficult in the organization. Somehow, I think much of our thinking on this function and how we staff it is backwards. You might want to look at: My $500K SDRs

19 Jul 15:35

Your Sales and Marketing Team is An Orchestra That Needs Practice, Rehearsals, and a Conductor’s Guidance

by Jay Thomas

Have you heard of “flat” organizational structures? These structures remove layers of hierarchy in an organization. Some may even merge sales and marketing departments.

While this might sound appealing at first, a flat organization isn’t always the way to go. Sales and marketing should collaborate, not integrate.

Think of your business as an orchestra. Despite having separate songsheets, all the musicians play in unison. Their unity doesn’t happen by chance in the middle of a performance. Rather, they train for years and have concert rehearsals months in advance. Plus, they are directed by a skilled conductor. The music the audience hears is the conductor’s pitch-perfect vision.

How do you create this level of harmony in your business?

Why sales and marketing alignment is necessary

Like an orchestra, your team needs preparation and rehearsal to find alignment. B2B research shows that aligned organizations achieve 19 percent faster growth and 15 percent higher profitability.

The average listener doesn’t want to know how an orchestra works. They want beautiful music. In a business sense, your consumer doesn’t want the extra follow-ups, delays, rushed work, or miscommunications caused by misalignment. Eighty-nine percent of consumers become frustrated when they have to talk to more than one person from a company during the buying process.

However, your team won’t move together all on its own. It needs a conductor — your CEO — to provide direction. What sort of conductor would you be? A successful conductor commands the respect of their musicians. Do you inspire confidence and loyalty, or are you just a well-dressed metronome?

Mistakes from lack of alignment result in disharmony, and over time, a smaller audience. When faced with alignment issues, how can you help your team create unity? How did Steve Jobs win accolades for bringing Apple into harmony?

How to find out if sales and marketing are out of tune

Rushes, delays, or getting off schedule

In the ’90s, Apple suffered a few failed product launches. Instead of doing more, working faster, or postponing releases, Steve Jobs slashed and burned. The product lineup was reduced by 70 percent. Jobs let 3,000 employees go. A year later, the company showed a profit of $309 million.

What does this example illustrate? The best directions are simple. Jobs, maestro of sales, marketing, and design, focused on and emphasized quality over quantity. He noticed poor launches were a symptom of a deeper problem and rooted out the cause.

How can you bring Jobs’ razor-sharp direction to your ensemble?

People often forget that creating harmony is all about timing. First, make sure your team has space and freedom to produce quality. Then, analyze if your processes are simple enough to avoid rush jobs. Are the competitors beating you? Why? What do they have that you don’t?

Regularly check in on your team’s progress. Those who have learned to play a musical instrument know you have to practice every day to stay sharp and the same goes for the team members in your organization.

Poor communication

Only 35 percent of sales and marketing companies have all marketing leads followed up on by sales. Equally surprising, 26 percent of companies don’t know whether leads are followed up on at all. Mission statements and communication policies don’t prevent such errors. Action is needed.

Be vigilant about sticking to your mission. Falling into toxic, unproductive, and detrimental communication habits is easy to do. However, if leaders are to succeed in today’s complex economy, they need to watch out for any emerging communication barriers.

Most people know good communication is essential in sales and marketing. What most people don’t know is that good communication is much more than saying “Hi” in the break room or hitting “Reply all.” Talking and writing are not the same as having strong communication with your team.

Most communication is nonverbal. Transmission of a message includes not only words and symbols but the medium, tone, timing, pitch, gestures, and body language.

To be effective at internal communications, you need to listen. You need to know where others are coming from before providing your own view.

Moreover, to fully execute alignment, you need a proven communication strategy:

  • Practice interpreting nonverbal cues, such as body language and facial expressions. Perhaps tape and review your presentations and speeches.
  • Avoid talking about what people already know or what doesn’t matter, such as gratuitous publicity exercises.
  • Survey your team and ask what they want to hear. Crowdsource solutions instead of going alone.
  • Aim to speak less and listen more. Be clear and concise.

Unused content

Unused marketing content is a sure sign that your business lacks direction. By some estimates, up to 80 percent of content created by marketing goes unused by sales. This, in turn, ramps up unnecessary pressure. Marketing gets frustrated. Stressed sales reps create their own content. To prevent content overspill, you need to find out what your audience does and doesn’t want.

First, though, what does “your audience” actually mean? To improve symphony ticket sales, consulting firm Oliver Wyman found that organizations needed to segment the audience. They needed to identify specific groups of buyers rather than imagining an average ticket holder. Similarly, how granular can you be when analyzing your customers?

Blaming others for mistakes

Sales and marketing have always blamed each other for revenue slumps. Consider these examples from the last 20 years:

“The sales-marketing interface, whilst strongly interdependent, is reported as neither collaborative or harmonious… the relationship is characterized by a lack of cohesion, poor coordination, conflict, non-cooperation, distrust, dissatisfaction and mutual negative stereotyping” — Dewsnap and Jobber, 2000.

“[In] a Fortune 250 B2B company… the product line was priced to grow market share, yet the sales force compensation was structured to encourage salespeople based on profit margin maximization. As a result, the frustrated sales force focused efforts on selling other products in which the goals were more aligned.” — HBR, 2018.

Who is at fault in these examples? Did the marketers get the price wrong? Is the sales team at fault because they didn’t embrace the brand? Did the leader structure sales commissions incorrectly?

When you acknowledge that sales-marketing arguments have always existed, you can free up all parties to look at the problem more objectively.

Poor quota attainment

If your sales and marketing aren’t cooperating, they won’t make their quotas.

Salespeople are driven by results. Because sales reps follow their quota progress closer than you do, look for drops in morale and low retainment of staff.

Once identified, investigate why reps aren’t hitting quota. Do they need a cleaner pipeline with better leads? Is the problem due to time management issues or too many distractions? What about leadership? Is direction not filtering down through team leaders and training?

Senior leadership is responsible for setting the direction

Alignment and clear guidance don’t just happen. Having a charismatic maestro or maestra at the helm can help, but the best conductor in the world can’t create a symphony alone.

To achieve alignment, pay attention to the various elements that can unite your organization:

  • Upper management’s attitudes and actions
  • The existing culture between departments
  • The structure and context of the organization

Companies need leaders who actively reinforce alignment measures. Effective leaders explain their actions, manage perceptions through communication, and track performance. They acknowledge the culture and structure of their company by openly talking about existing issues.

When communication, information, and training are heading in one direction, your business will become more profitable.

Find your direction through leadership

“The most important thing for the conductor is that he or she listens. … If the conductor listens well, the musicians listen to each other better. The conductor can in effect impose a certain kind of listening for everybody.” — Laurence Equilbey, French conductor.

Like musicians of different instruments, your team members have different priorities. Marketers focus on long-term objectives. They take a broad view of market segments and aim for consistent branding. In contrast, sales reps tend to think short-term, focusing on current customer wants and desires. When left without guidance, their differing priorities can cause discord in your business.

You, as a business leader, need to take charge.

Don’t just focus on the individual components of schedules, communications, content, and quotas. Instead, take a lesson from orchestra conductors who direct a large group of musicians to produce a unified, harmonious sound. By paying attention to your organization as a whole, you can also guide your sales and marketing team to alignment and higher profits.

19 Jul 15:35

How to Replace 8 Ineffective Practices with Ones That Accelerate Growth

by Anthony Iannarino

There are ideas a sales leader must refuse. Allowing these ideas to take hold can decelerate growth, distract the sales force from their real work, and result in a poor sales performance. They can also start a vicious cycle, a downward trend that is difficult to reverse.

  1. Allowing Sales Reps to Become Operators: There are always going to be people within an organization who will ask for help from the sales team. Reps do operational work when there are issues where a salesperson’s competency with customers can make the difference. While you want your players to be good teammates, you have to say “no” to the idea that your salespeople are responsible for work that belongs to operations or customer service or accounting. While they own the outcomes they sell, they do not own the transactions. When you allow your team to get mired in operation, you have effectively reduced the size of your sales force.
  2. Allowing a Change in Strategy: There are salespeople and sales managers and other leaders who would all have you change the company’s strategy from value creation to the lowest price. To many non-sales leaders, removing price as an obstacle is a way to win more new business faster. The danger in this line of thinking is the big client you want bad enough to compromise on your overall strategy is the first step on the slippery slope of competing on price. Once you say yes, you have established a precedent for all big deals that follow, and in doing so, you have allowed others to change the company’s strategy.
  3. Permitting a Lack of Direction: Leaders and managers want to hire people they trust and let them figure out what they need to do and how they should do it. Many fear being known as a micromanager, preferring a laissez-faire approach to leading and managing. As many people complain about not getting the direction they need as complain about micromanagement. You can not allow people to drift, without goals, and without strong guidance as to how they are supposed to reach those goals.
  4. Threats to the Culture: In every sales organization, there is a spiritual leader, the person who tells others what is good and right and true. When the person the sales team looks to for guidance in understanding their world is negative and cynical, you have a threat to your culture. Negative people influence others to become negative by suggesting that the challenges they have don’t lie within themselves, that it is external. They point to the company, the strategy, the leadership team, the product team, their clients, or their competition as the reason for their poor performance. Allowing these threats to continue without confronting them and removing the source assures your culture suffers.
  5. No Accountability: It’s challenging to maintain a cadence. It is hard to hold the regular meetings necessary to ensure accountability for results, week after week, month after month, and quarter after quarter. However, a little thing like skipping pipeline meetings that ensure you have enough new opportunities coming in leads to too few new opportunities. Allowing salespeople to go weeks or months without prospecting all but ensures they will have trouble in the future. The sales manager will share responsibility for an unfortunate result, but so will you, the sales leader who allowed a lack of accountability.
  6. Annual Changing of Their Approach: I have spoken at sales kickoff meetings for the same companies for three years in a row. In each of the three years, the sales force was provided with a new approach designed to accelerate their results. Never mind that they never did the work on the first change in strategy. Instead, they whipsawed the sales force, promising them this new approach is what is most important, only to change their mind less than twelve months later.
  7. Retaining Those Who Have Already Left: Some people have already left your company, they are just still showing up at their job. Their heart is no longer in their work, and they are biding their time, waiting for something better to come along. With their heart gone, their mind follows. They no longer do the work, and instead, they coast, hoping you don’t discover them. Selling requires too much of an individual to allow a person to go through the motions. You cannot allow someone who is not—or will not—do the work necessary to occupy a spot on your roster.
  8. Preferring Technology to Competency: There is an epidemic in sales organizations now. The illness is believing (or wishing or hoping) that technological solutions will produce faster growth. It’s easier to invest in technology than it is to build a force of value-creating, consultative, trusted advisors whom your clients will look at as peers. While you need to provide the sales force with the tools necessary to succeed, you cannot allow tools to be a substitute for teaching, training, coaching, and developing the sales force.

Leading is never easy. There are always competing interests, and it is challenging to build and maintain a high-performing sales organization under the best of circumstances. As a leader, you are responsible for eliminating and replacing ineffective practices with better, healthier ones. Start with these.

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The post How to Replace 8 Ineffective Practices with Ones That Accelerate Growth appeared first on The Sales Blog.

19 Jul 15:34

On Social Selling

by James Potter

When I originally started out as a salesman (many years ago!!), the sales process was quite simple – make some leads, follow them up with a demo or meeting and then (politely) chase them up to get some commitment. Diagrammatically it looked like this:

Then in 2003 the sales process started to evolve with the birth of LinkedIn and the evolution of smarter (and more researched) clients. The old methods became less effective and this was even before the “new thinking” sales books like Challenger Sale (which came out in 2013).

Over the years the sales process has become much more complex in many ways, but also divergent with product type sales taking a more automated approach, whereas high value, solution or services sales look much more like this:

There has always been some confusion in people heads about social selling versus social media and I often refer to one as a conversation with someone you know in your home whereas social media is much more like shouting into the street or wearing an A frame and seeing who looks at you.

LinkedIn can be used as a broadcast platform, but its effectiveness is very limited by doing so. Hence, we have those people who want to ‘connect’ for no apparent reason other than to be ‘connected’ as they are choosing to use it as a megaphone to share content and hoping you might see or read their update. We’ve written much about this before and you can find a relevant blog here.

Used well LinkedIn is such a fantastic tool to use for elegantly selling solutions and services through a more networked, more relational lead and consultative approach without overtly “selling” in the traditional way – often much more comfortable for most people.

  1. The first stage has to be having a real network, by that I mean having people you are really connected to, people who you trust and know well enough that you can easily pick up the phone or message them to ask about someone you think you want to meet or if they could introduce you to somebody you would really like to know or meet up with over a coffee (my preferred method).
  2. This is often enabled or supported by some evidence through profiles, shared connections (who people can ask about you) and your own activities showing your perspective and influence in public.
  3. Whilst we can all get referrals when people remember us and our preferred types of clients, we are all busy and hence we often forget to join the dots where we should. LinkedIn gives you a way to find the people you want to meet that your network already knows and simply ask for a referral – as we all like to help the nice people we know (see 1. above)
  4. Once someone introduces you it puts an additional layer of credibility over you as they are saying you’re a nice person, but you can enhance this in a number of ways. Being a nice person is a given but some proof about your impact within your profile, recent recommendations for your work and having the right skills can really help to expose your full value.
  5. Nothing will ever replace meeting someone and I am often told that “once I get in front of someone for a chat it is easy to explain, the problem is getting in front of people.” Well, if you think about the steps above 1 through 4, then that will identify and prove you are a nice person and give you the map to ask the person for the referral, then all you need to do is ask! Don’t send a message, a connection or an email! Meet them over a coffee or pick up the telephone and call them and ask them for the referral or introduction or perhaps even whether you should meet them in the first place.

Interestingly, the research supports this highlighting 24 interactions from a cold start before someone will commit to buy from you versus 2 to 3 if you are referred or introduced through social selling or networking.

The purpose of this blog is not to say the traditional ways such as mailshots, cold calling and more don’t work – they do but just not as efficiently or effectively as social selling when it is done well.

It is always fascinating to see the shift in body language and perspective when we start to show people simple things within LinkedIn or talk about results clients have got and we’re always happy to have those chats with people.

The post Social selling appeared first on The Linked In Man.

17 Jul 16:18

Reinventing New Sales Opportunities by Integrating Email Marketing with the CRM

by Kevin George

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is at the heart of every marketing strategy. It helps you keep track of customer information, sales history, and product information, as well as organize customer reminders and callbacks, schedule staff hours, initiate coupon mailers, and generate reports about sales volumes, goals, and performance.

In addition, CRM systems also help you orchestrate the email campaigns and use them to the maximum potential. If you have not yet integrated your email marketing with the CRM, you could be missing out on a huge opportunity of effective communication.

Before plunging into the nitty gritty of the integration, let’s understand what CRM is and its role in driving business growth.

CRM is a tool that facilitates better management of your relationship with the customers. It lets you know the customers better and ramp up the engagement.

A CRM tool stores every interaction that takes place between you and your customers, thereby allowing you to manage the complete buyer’s journey.

Let’s say, you are a startup with 150 clients. Just because they have converted or completed a purchase from you does not mean that you do not contact them anymore. You should plan a suitable marketing strategy and inform them that you value the association with them. CRM tool comes into picture here. You can send occasion-based emails to them, incentivize them with loyalty rewards, or other campaigns customized according to the customer’s preferences.

With the help of a CRM tool, you can capture all these details like birthday, trial period validity, previous purchases, resources downloaded etc. and store it at one place. By tracking this information, you can clearly understand the customer’s behavior and interests. Subsequently, you can send automated emails triggered according to a specific action. This, in turn, helps you to build a stronger rapport with the customers.

Having a CRM tool in place will also let you connect the campaign responses and lead generation strategies which will eventually help you to estimate the return on investment, explore future scope, ramp up the collaboration, and enhance the conversions.

Like the example above, if you have 150 clients, it is quite easy to monitor the subscription status. You can manually send reminder emails and ask them for subscription renewal. That is obviously not possible with larger lists with diverse preferences.

The Perks of Integrating Email Marketing and CRM

Although you can always have email marketing and CRM work separately, they can work more effectively when they come together. Enlisted below are some of the benefits that you can derive by integrating these two aspects.

1.Sending automated emails

Getting email marketing integrated with your CRM lets you send triggered emails based on the subscriber’s activity. Let’s look at an example from ecommerce sector. Whenever a customer places an order, you must send transactional emails like order confirmation emails, shipping notification and other delivery updates as and when required. Similarly, when he or she leaves a product in the cart and abandons it without completing the purchase, you can send a series of cart abandonment emails within 48 hours. All this is possible by integrating email marketing into the CRM.

2. Personalizing the emails

Combining the power of CRM and email marketing, you can personalize the emails beyond the first name and send relevant emails that consider the customer’s behavior and past activity. Ultimately, you can cut down on the unsubscribes and send more personalized information to the subscribers.

3. Streamlining the data management

CRM allows you to manage the data more effectively as it provides a scaffold to save the information collected through diverse communication channels, at a single place. This makes it easier to execute automation and make email marketing all the more effective.

4. Boosting conversion rate and ROI

As the CRM gives a holistic view of the customer behavior, you can address their challenges better and nurture them with engaging emails. It will also reduce the response time and enhance customer satisfaction by attending the customer queries instantly. Consequently, you can yield a better conversion rate and higher ROI.

5. Tracking the metrics

CRM tools will let you monitor the key performance indicators (KPIs) of the email campaign and analyze the open rate, click-through rate, bounce rate, and unsubscribes. You will get a clear picture about how your emails are performing and how you can optimize them for best results.

6. Improving the quality of your email list

If the subscribers are not engaging with your emails, you can try to revive them with re-engagement emails. If they still remain inactive, you can remove them from the list. It will help you maintain a clean email list with genuinely interested subscribers only. Hence, you will be able to ensure a good deliverability rate without any bounces or unsubscribes.

Wrapping Up

Unless you integrate email marketing and CRM, you will not be able to use email marketing to the maximum potential. A CRM tool ensures that you can keep in touch with your customers and they perceive your brand as a credible one. Besides making your marketing campaigns stronger, it also gives you detailed insights into how they are performing and help build a long-lasting relationship.

17 Jul 16:17

Your Guide to Perfectly Pricing a Product

by Nicole Blanckenberg

Knowing how to price a product perfectly is essential. It’s vital to ensure you are not overcharging your way out of the market or undercharging your way into your profit margins. Yet, despite how important it is to get the pricing right, it’s surprising how many online store owners wing it.

If you’re just copying your product prices from your biggest competitors or guessing your way through your new product line pricing, then this post is for you! The secret to pricing your products accurately is looking at it more as a strategy or a science.

Today, we are giving you a three-step strategy that enables you to find the sweet spot between market pricing, your expenses and your long term profit goals. A strategy fitting for any eCommerce entrepreneur, regardless of whether they are new to the industry or established brands looking to expand their products.

Step 1: Find Your Base Price

The first thing you need to do when pricing a product is finding a base price model that works for your brand and the niche you are selling in. There are three main base-pricing strategies you can choose from: competition-based, cost-based and dynamic pricing. Let’s look at each of these separately.

What is Competition-Based Pricing?

how to find your base price

Sometimes referred to as market-oriented, the competition-based pricing model is where you compare various similar products in your market to find pricing that works for you. Here, you could either go higher or lower than the average of your competitors’ pricing, depending on how your products and brand compare in quality, functionality, etc. or how you would like your brand to be perceived.

Here are three scenarios:

Scenario 1

Let’s say you are a brand-new online store selling in a highly competitive niche. You could use this pricing strategy to price your products below the market, as a way to lure customers from the competition.

Scenario 2

You want to highlight to your potential customers that your products are more prestigious, of better quality or have superior functionality – you could price your products above the market.

Scenario 3

If you want to stay competitive while also maximizing profit, then you would copy the market pricing, selling your products at the same price.

All three strategies will have their own pros and cons, but overall you want to be very clear about your product costs and how your products compare in quality to your competition before you jump into competitor-based pricing.

Additionally, it’s important that you aren’t just blindly copying your competitors’ prices; instead, look at it like modeling their pricing. What do I mean by this? That you need to consider all the factors before just copying a price. Compare where they are selling, who they are selling to and what they are selling (quality) – to your store and market. Furthermore, you will also need to take into consideration your specific costs and profit goals, which we will lay out in step 2.

What is Cost-Based Pricing?

As the name suggests, this pricing strategy is based on a product’s total cost plus a markup percentage. This is the simplest and most used pricing strategy. However, when using this pricing strategy it is crucial to account for all your costs. This means keeping a close eye on costs like Google Search campaigns, ensuring that on average, you aren’t exceeding your price.

how to work out cost pricing

Let’s go through an example where you are starting an online clothing store and planning to sell print-on-demand t-shirts. Here is a breakdown of what your costs could be for one t-shirt:

Manufacturing costs: $27

Overhead costs: $2

Labor costs: $2

Total cost: $31

Then, let’s assume that you have researched your niche and decide to add a 50% markup on your product. Your product price could be: $31 x (50% of $31) = $15.50.

What is Dynamic Pricing?

Dynamic pricing is where you create a flexible pricing strategy that is based on market demands. Also, sometimes referred to as time-based pricing, this base price strategy involves adjusting pricing at different times of the day, week, month or year. If you sell your products on Amazon as well, you are probably already familiar with this concept. Or if not, think of your Black Friday and Cyber Monday competitive pricing strategies to give you an idea.

Side Note: If you are going to use this strategy more frequently, though, along the lines of Amazon’s model where prices are adjusted in real-time based on the market, stock levels, timing and competitors, you’re going to want to invest in a tool for this. Here are some to check out:

When it comes to choosing your base pricing model, you don’t need to pick just one. You can come up with a strategy that suits your specific market and audience by testing each or a combination of each of these strategies, but we will get to that in step three.

Step 2: Bring Long-Term Profit Into the Equation

Next, you want to asses the bigger picture by looking at your long-term profit goals for your product. This means taking your current pricing for products and comparing it to your current metrics to make sure that you are on point to firstly, cover your costs and secondly, turn a profit.

Let’s say you’re using a markup percentage strategy; ask yourself how many products you would need to sell in order to cover all your overhead expenses. Using the print-on-demand clothing brand store example again, here’s a list of what your overhead costs could include:

  • eCommerce platform, hosting
  • Rent and facility for your office (for an intermediate established online stores with a base)
  • Freelancers and other service providers whom you outsource to, such as content writers or Shopify developers
  • Marketing (PPC, email, video, etc.)
  • Shipping and fulfillment
  • Your personal income
  • Taxes
  • Your payment gateways and transaction costs
  • Any additional accounting or office apps that don’t fall into the above, like Trello

You want to calculate these per month, to get an exact total of what your costs are each month. Then take your sales for the month and see how many products you need to sell at the current price to meet those expenses and your profit goals – and adjust accordingly. If you see that you are meeting your sales number targets but aren’t making a profit or covering costs, it’s time to tweak your pricing to ensure long-term profitability.

Step 3: Experiment With Pricing to Grow Market Share

Lastly, you want to experiment with your pricing. This doesn’t just mean testing your prices within your target audience and market; you also want to test some strategies that will help you gain market share in your niche.

Your ultimate goal is to maximize profits while also gaining market share. This means having a good understanding of concepts like price elasticity and consumer surplus and then experimenting with pricing options (using tools like promotions, for example) to find the magic middle between market and profit. Let’s look at these two concepts in more detail.

Price Elasticity of Demand

This is the measurement of changing quantity demands for a product in relation to the price. If a product’s pricing change results in more demand for the product, then you would call that ‘elastic.’

what is price elasticity

Consumer Surplus

Next, let’s look at the consumer surplus. Simply put, this is the difference between what a potential shopper is willing to pay for a product versus what the market dictates they should pay. If you want to get into the economic science of the concept, this video is a great place to start.

Why are these two things so important? By lowering your overhead costs per product (such as improving ROIs on your ad spend or outsourcing fulfillment, for example) and strategically increasing your product prices, you can decrease the consumer surplus (the gap between how much they spend and how much they are willing to spend).

Therefore, although demand elasticity can help you lower your prices strategically to push more product volume, it could increase your surplus. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be using it, but you want to use strategically – which is where well-crafted promotions come in. The bottom line is that yes, lowering your prices does have its benefits – but you want to do it strategically.

Another aspect to consider with regards to how to price a product for profit and market share is your conversion rate.

Let’s say you have tested different pricing strategies to find those unicorn products – products that customers are willing to pay more for, that are less elastic – doesn’t require use drops in prices to increase quantities. You also have an idea of how many you need to sell to cover your overhead costs and profit goals. Your conversion rate goals will help you assess how much traffic you will need to achieve that, and how to adjust prices for varying rates.

how to work out product pricing

In other words, the lower your conversion rate is, the higher your prices will need to be to ensure you are meeting your overhead needs.

After testing, you could find that option 3 below (10% conversion) is your base product price, suiting the market, customer, profits and covering costs.

how to price product right way

And what about those customers willing to pay $50 or $100 for the product, as shown in the above table? That’s where your promotions come in and why you should be aiming for different price strategies for various products, markets, times of the year, etc.

Here are some combination pricing strategies to get you started:

Anchor Pricing

This is where you display the regular price while showing the ‘new’ lower price. This strategy does work well if you are actually running promotions. If you use it continuously, shoppers will catch on to the fact that it’s fake and this will hurt your brand (and your sales) in the long run.

Discount Pricing

This is where you start at a higher price and scale down with a sale, or an incentive discount for new shoppers, for example. A popular eCommerce use for this strategy is an abandoned cart campaign where you may send an automatic email with a discount to get the conversion.

Loss-Leader Pricing

This is a more aggressive pricing strategy, designed to cut into a market share at the expense of profit. In other words, you specifically set your products at a loss to attract new shoppers from your competitors. This is often used by new stores entering a highly-saturated market. And an example of a brand that has dominated with this? Yes, you guessed it: Amazon.


There you have it, how to perfectly price products in just three steps. However, like with any aspect of an eCommerce business, expect fluctuations. Keep a close eye on those eCommerce KPIs and optimize and experiment regularly.

And remember, the best way to keep your advertising overhead down is to optimize your campaigns for awesome ROIs, which doesn’t have to take work when using the number one eCommerce traffic tool – Traffic Booster.