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09 Jul 19:01

Competitive Sports are Like Professional Sales

by Lori Richardson

CLICK HERE to Play Video    (or click on image above)

 When my company was re-branded, I wanted a name that represented my views and my life. At the time, my son had been a successful Division I college athlete and moved on as a professional hockey player. Not only had I raised one competitive athlete but we also provided a home-away-from-home in Seattle for players who played Major-Junior hockey in the Canadian Hockey League (CHL). These young men (16-21 years old) lived elsewhere, usually from a Canadian or American town far away. Every one of them joined the league as a stepping stone to the NHL - all with dreams of succeeding.  Some did, and many others went back to their farm in Saskatchewan or home in Manitoba where they came from.

01 May 16:38

5 Ways LinkedIn Can Help You Do Your Job Right Now (Part 2 of 4)

by James Potter

After the success of part one of our blog 5 Ways LinkedIn can help you do your job right now, here are some more ways you could be using LinkedIn to help you with your networking, profile and role.

LinkedIn is a veritable Swiss Army Knife of tools and rather than have that ‘odd bit’ you don’t know what it is for (horses hooves normally) here’s another five ways you could use LinkedIn to help you with your role:

1. References for skills of suppliers using recommendations or endorsements.
With over 546 million users on LinkedIn it is sometimes tricky to know which person or supplier you might want to shortlist to meet or engage with but LinkedIn can really help here.

The obvious places to look are at profiles (do you like what / how they write), recommendations and endorsements (consider contacting the people that gave them), and the dates (have they not done any good work recently?). There is a whole blog you can read on this.

2. Visual credit check – do they feel like they’re worth investment?
This is often used by lease companies, asset finance and more.

People are often surprised that financial organizations such as venture capitalists, investors, banks, finance companies (we’ve even trained casinos!) look at your profile, activity and connections as an indication of your value both as an investment but also as a potential recipient of funding.

Do you come across well and is the perception of you if you read your profile as good as you really are? As an example we’re often seeing startups using LinkedIn to build profile and value perception in advance of seeking funding (as well as finding the funding using LinkedIn!).

3. Address book
This is often where a lot people start with LinkedIn, a way to keep the people they know close and accessible.

As your contact details on LinkedIn are managed by you they’re more likely to be up to date and hence your network of connections can contact you – if they want to engage or purchase from you.

Of course this relies on you keeping your own contact details up to date!

4. Tender research and support
If you have the ‘joy’ of doing tenders then LinkedIn should be one of the first tools you reach for on receipt of any bid.

Not only can you research the profiles of who is on the review panel (you all ask who’s on the review panel when you receive a bid right?), but start to research their style, what they find interesting, talk about and weave this into your tender responses.

Of course, if you’re connected to them already, you’d be searching that individuals connections to see which competitors they’re connected to but then I’m sure you’d do that before each client meeting.

If you are particularly aware you could always seek out the ex-employees of the potential client your tendering to and talk to them about the current supplier, what they could do better and use that to inform your bid / no bid decision as well.

5. PR / Press
To get more press or PR most people just ‘throw’ press releases at the journalists inbox, not pausing to consider that everybody else just does the same so there you have a journalist inbox with a couple of hundred ‘exciting’ press releases – which do they choose?

Now imagine you searched your network to find the editors or journalists your connections knew and got them to introduce you or sponsor your exciting press release by sending it to the journalist – Good huh?

Who’d have thought that you could use LinkedIn in such creative ways? This is only number two in our series of four blogs (you can see the previous one here). Just wait and see what else is to come…

30 Apr 16:44

The Tactics of Marketing Strategy: A Marketer's Guide

To plan your marketing, you need a marketing strategy. But how do you create that strategy? You need a tactical approach to understanding where you've been, where you are, where you're going (or should be), and what resources are required to get there. Read the full article at MarketingProfs
30 Apr 16:42

Marketing Flaws For Powerful Brand Differentiation

by Richard Shotton

Marketing Flaws For Powerful Brand Differentiation

In 1982, Levi’s launched black jeans in the UK. At the time denim was invariably blue so Levi’s wanted to capture the rebellious spirit of those opting for black.

The ad by BBH became a classic.

But the strapline, written by Barbara Noakes, “When the world zigs, zag”, has relevance beyond fashion. Advertisers should heed the brand’s message: distinctiveness is a route to memorability.

And that’s not just hearsay. After all academic evidence shows that brands benefit from subverting expectations.

The original evidence comes from the work of Hedwig von Restorff in 1933. The pediatrician gave participants a list of text: it consisted of random strings of three letters interrupted by one set of three digits. So, for example: jrm, tws, als, huk, bnm, 153, fdy.

After a short pause the participants were asked to recall the items. The results showed that items that stood out, in this case the three digits, were most recalled. This is known as the von Restorff effect.

Delivering Distinctiveness

Knowing that your ads need to be distinctive is helpful, but how do you standout?

Luckily for you, most brands abide by category conventions. Break those conventions and you become distinctive.

In the U.K. you can see this herd mentality in lager beer advertising with leading brands invariably associating themselves with football. Such is the clutter that Campaign magazine said they’re “playing 11-a-side on a 5-a-side pitch”.

Lager isn’t the only guilty category. Most brands brag about their success which creates a simple way to stand-out: admit your flaws.

But Isn’t This Risky?

You’re not alone in worrying about admitting weakness.

However, there’s plenty of evidence that this tactic improves your odds of being effective. The original evidence comes from Harvard psychologist, Elliot Aronson.

In his experiment, Aronson recorded an actor answering a series of quiz questions. In one strand of the experiment, the actor – armed with the right responses – answers 92% of the questions correctly. After the quiz, the actor then pretends to spill a cup of coffee over himself (a small blunder, or pratfall).

The recording was played to students, who were then asked how likeable the contestant was. However, Aronson split the students into cells and played them different versions: one with the spillage included and one without. The students found the clumsy contestant more likeable.

Aronson called the preference for those who exhibit a flaw the ‘pratfall effect’. It’s an insight that has occasionally been harnessed to great effect by brands. Think of VW Beetle (Ugly is only skin deep), Stella (Reassuringly expensive) and Avis (We’re only No. 2 so we try harder).

It works because admitting weakness is a tangible demonstration of honesty and, therefore, makes other claims more believable.

Risk Free For Who?

I’ve listed a few examples of brands harnessing the pratfall effect, stretching back to VW in 1959. But there have been tens of thousands of ads since then. Why have only a couple of dozen reveled in their failings?

The rarity is explained by the principal-agent problem, a theory first suggested by Stephen Ross, a professor at MIT. He suggested that there is a divergence of interest between the principal, the brand, and the agent, the marketer. The brand is interested in long-term profitable growth, but the marketer is also interested in safe career progression.

If a campaign flops having used the pratfall effect it might end a marketer’s career. Imagine you were the marketing director responsible for Reassuringly Expensive and the campaign flopped. You’d be lucky to escape with your job.

Resolving The Principal-Agent Problem

The best way to ensure brands strive for distinctiveness is to popularize the principal-agent problem. If following the herd becomes equated with putting one’s career ahead of the brand’s needs, then it will become a disreputable tactic.

Perhaps then we’ll see more brands admitting fallibilities.

You can find more ideas like this in my new book The Choice Factory: 25 Behavioral Biases That Influence What We Buy

The Blake Project Can Help: Differentiate Your Brand In The Brand Positioning Workshop

Don’t Miss Marketing’s Most Powerful Event: The Un-Conference: 360 Degrees of Brand Strategy for a Changing World, May 14-16, 2018 in San Diego, California. A fun, competitive-learning experience reserved for 50 marketing oriented leaders and professionals.

Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education

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30 Apr 16:32

Founders, it’s time to embrace radical experimentation. Here’s why.

by Scott Maxwell

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on Inc. here.

Physicist Niels Bohr once mused that an expert is someone who has made all the mistakes that one can make in a narrow field.

That’s not a surprising sentiment coming from a scientist. Science is based on exposing ideas to the rigor of real-world testing. It’s an antidote for wishful thinking, superstition, unjustified enthusiasm and overconfidence. Failure, in this way of thinking, is constructive because it brings you closer to the truth.

That said, even in tech circles where you’d think there would be reverence for the scientific method, using controlled randomized testing is severely underutilized. There are exceptions though. Airbnb claims to run some 700 experiments a week, and CapitalOne is known as a pioneer in business experimentation, but more often, companies do way too little real-world testing. One of the main reasons is a very human one – they have been trained to think that they are supposed to know what will happen.

What is business experimentation?

How do I know that few companies are disciplined about experimentation? Because businesses make mistakes all the time. Even companies that we think are infallible, like Netflix, make huge mistakes. Recall that back in 2011, Netflix famously angered its customers by splitting its DVD-by-mail and streaming businesses and raising prices for both.

In that case and others, Netflix would have benefited from testing this idea with a small, but representative portion of the market. (They later perfected their pricing as my colleague, Kyle Poyar, writes about here.) Then, at least it would have known how the notion would go over with consumers. There are other recent misfires as well: Juicero, maker of the $400 Internet-connected juicer maker that raised $120 million in venture funding before shutting down last year; Google Plus; the Amazon Fire phone. The list goes on. That’s not to say that failure is bad – far from it. But such failures might have been realized on a smaller scale until the idea was either refined or discarded. That’s not always the case, but it is often enough.

Readers at this point might retort that they do a fair amount of A/B testing for marketing messages. My reply is – do you, really? Based on the rhetoric, it might seem like 100 percent of companies are executing A/B testing for marketing, but in reality it’s more like 2 percent.

As a result, marketing budgets are off. A typical marketing budget for this year is going to pre-assume that if you put in a certain amount of resources for marketing that you’re going to be able to get a certain amount of results. But, particularly with young companies, that’s not accurate because marketers haven’t experimented with enough marketing channels or marketing messages or other variables to be able to understand what the relationship is between what they do and the behavioral response from their audience.

If companies aren’t doing enough web-based experimentation, that’s a bad sign because that’s the easiest type of experiment to run. It’s easy to expose a representative sample of 50,000 or so prospects on the web to a marketing message.

In the field, it’s also rare to find companies using the scientific method and comparing their randomized selection of consumers to a control group and controlling for variables and so forth. If they try to experiment, companies often do it half-heartedly and the results are just statistical noise that can lead them to make bad, or at least random, decisions.

Why experimentation is hard

Experimentation is the cornerstone of innovation. No matter what the operation is, no matter what the functional area is and no matter what the operation is like, there are always opportunities for it to get better. The only way to get better at the fastest way possible is to run experiments.  The more the better. The more good ideas that are tested, the better.

Doing so isn’t easy. If you run your organization really lean then you barely have time to do your transactional work, much less run experiments on top of that. But a bigger obstacle is the fear of failure. Our educational system has drilled into us that there is a right answer to every problem and if you do whatever is right, you’ll get the right answer. Even in business school, students are expected to be able to predict the answer. When you don’t – when you’re wildly incorrect – it’s humbling.

The key is to change your mindset and think about the outcome of a successful experiment being a quick, inexpensive, statistically valid result rather than the outcome being any specific result.  Then, figure out how to scale up the number of experiments that you run at any given time. Finally, put the better ideas into production.

So change your mindset and look at failure the way scientists do – as necessary, helpful and the only true path to mastery and expertise.

The post Founders, it’s time to embrace radical experimentation. Here’s why. appeared first on OpenView Labs.

30 Apr 16:30

Why the Rest of the World Can’t Free Ride on Europe’s GDPR Rules

by Bhaskar Chakravorti
hbr-laura-schneider-demographics
Laura Schneider for HBR

The digital industry is riding an important—and turbulent—wave of change right now. As Facebook and others grapple with tough questions about data privacy and security practices, trust in social platforms appears to be plummeting. Companies and analysts are scrambling to figure out how to make privacy rules clear, protect user data, and evolve the business models that made them successful in the first place.

A rising chorus of voices suggests that there is a ready-made solution to these pressures around data—and it has already been prepared by regulators in Europe. The EU’s upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will put in place the world’s most demanding set of rules on how user data can be collected and used. Many are expecting that when these regulations go into effect in May 2018, they will address many consumers’ concerns.

GDPR could become a model for the rest of the world, the argument goes, since many global companies serve users in the EU. Firms will have to adapt to these regulations anyway, and it could make business sense for them to implement these digital privacy principles worldwide. Facebook itself has hinted that it might extend some of the EU-driven protections worldwide; others may follow its lead. Either way, it’s tempting to think that the biggest challenges to privacy in the digital age would be addressed and that would be the end of the matter.

I disagree with this argument. The U.S. and other countries cannot free-ride on Europe’s policy decisions, just as consumers cannot rely on companies to “self-regulate.”

Wait, What's GDPR Again?

A central tenet of the EU regulations is that individuals have the rights to give or withhold consent for how their personal data are used, shared, or analyzed; individuals also have the right to retrieve their data, take it elsewhere and even ask that their information be “forgotten.” Even the idea of what constitutes “personal data” is expansive, including IP addresses, location, encrypted data, where the encryption key is held separately, and other metadata.

Company responsibilities are also considered expansively in the GDPR; they extend to the chain of data processing partners, buyers, brokers, and sub-contractors. A major principle is transparency in how a company informs users about the specific purposes of data collection and about how their practices are in regulatory compliance. Not only are the burdens on the company high, breaches and violations have to be reported within 72 hours of the company becoming aware of it (there are many details and questions around that requirement that remain to be further understood). Companies in violation could face fines up to 4% of global revenues.

For one thing, support for regulation varies widely from country to country — and of course, within countries. Public opinion in some EU member states shows support for stringent rules, but that support is not always shared in other countries. For example, in response to a Pew survey question, 85% of Germans favored the more stringent European data privacy standards, while only 29% of American respondents felt the same. A Dell-EMC study reveals significant differences in terms of willingness to trade privacy for services across countries and across different uses of digital applications; of 15 countries studied, Germans were most concerned about privacy and the Indians were the least.

In the U.S., the approach to digital privacy has been more piecemeal: in effect, it is predicated in part on the idea that the ability of companies to collect, analyze, sell and monetize user data with minimal restrictions is the basis for an innovative digital industry; new users are drawn by free services and companies make money from the data collected. The idea of protecting U.S. competitiveness and its position in technology development will likely be central to the lobbying that will surround any efforts to change laws or boost federal regulations. Plus, many of privacy laws are set by states and are quite different from place to place. California lawmakers, for example, have proposed legislation to establish a data-protection authority while other states may offer very little regulatory protection.

Overall, it is clear that the societal demands and willingness to “pay” by trading off privacy for other benefits varies significantly. Both consumers and companies will likely have to manage different rules for different markets, and different technologies.

Emerging markets are often overlooked in these conversations, and they bring up a host of different issues. Some of Facebook’s biggest markets are in the developing world, and Facebook is experiencing its fastest growth in Asia and Africa. Of the top 10 countries with the most Facebook users, only two are in the developed world. Those two nations, the U.S. and the U.K., collectively account for 13% of all Facebook users. The remaining eight account for 41% of all Facebook users. What’s more, of the top 10 cities with the largest number of active Facebook users as of July 2017, all are in the developing world.

Our research on digital trust around the world, reported earlier in HBR, has found that users in the developing world are more trusting of online content, and—combined with fewer sources of objective information or little access to a free press—more vulnerable to manipulation by false information.

In Myanmar, for instance, Facebook is the dominant internet site because of its Free Basics program, which lets mobile-phone users connect to a few selected internet sites, including Facebook, without paying extra fees or using up allotted data in their mobile plans. In 2014, Facebook had 2 million users in Myanmar; after Free Basics arrived in 2016, that number climbed to 30 million. Recent rumor campaigns inciting violence against the Rohingya minority ethnic group in Myanmar were spread in part on Facebook, sparking systematic persecution and violence.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp has been identified as a primary carrier of fake news and divisive rumors in India, where its users’ messages have been described as a “mix of off-color jokes, doctored TV [clips], wild rumors and other people’s opinions, mostly vile.” Kenya has identified 21 hate-mongering WhatsApp groups.  Data from WhatsApp can be harvested for a variety of socially harmful purposes.

While the developing world should also be given the information safeguards that are likely to appear in the West, I believe governments in the developing world should be wary of regulations as extensive as GDPR. Such regulations would impose costs on the mostly small businesses that operate in these regions and there is a sense that imposing a heavy burden on fledgling local data industries could stifle the chance for those companies to grow and compete.

Facebook, for its part, is taking steps to ensure that 1.5 billion users who live mostly in developing nations will not be able to file complaints under the EU GDPR and are governed instead by U.S. privacy laws. Collectively, these factors raise the specter of a world balkanized by digital “safe zones” in the advanced nations digital “red zones” in the developing nations. Far from being a force for equalization and inclusion, digital technology penetration and the degree of data protection could become a new form of inequality.

So if GDPR isn’t the answer for companies outside of Europe, what about self-regulation? Some are hopeful that CEOs will put privacy protections in place out of a sense of social responsibility, something Zuckerberg himself has discussed. During Zuckerberg’s recent testimony before the U.S. Congress, this theme of “responsibility” was repeated—by lawmakers, by Zuckerberg, and by commentators. The challenge with leaving digital privacy up to the company’s responsibility and self-regulation, of course, is that the digital industry has been enormously successful precisely because it has collected and monetized data with few constraints. Facebook itself experienced a growth of 61% in its profits at the end of 2017, despite the fact that it was a challenging year. Its revenues were a handsome $12.7 billion for the last three months of 2017 with a profit of $4.26 billion.

To get a sense of how privacy restrictions could bite into the bottom line, consider that, according to analyses by Goldman Sachs, Facebook could “potentially see a negative impact of up to 7% from GDPR.” With this much at stake, self-regulation is not a tenable option as a means to ensure the full safeguards necessary for digital privacy. Since data is the currency that runs the core of the business models in the industry—and there aren’t any viable alternative business models in sight—a company’s own sense of “digital social responsibility” will be moderated by the negative economic impact of limiting its use of consumer data; companies can be expected to do just enough to keep consumers and political entities from revolting, while building goodwill through other means. If there is a demand among citizens for even greater digital privacy, it would have to come through forward-looking public policy, consumer activism and regulation.

It’s important to get this right, and not just free-ride on other countries’ regulations or hopes that CEOs will make their own rules. The development of new technologies, such as AI, may hang in the balance. Consider that Facebook, much like fellow digital giants Google, Amazon, and Apple, is betting on artificial intelligence (AI) as the next source of innovation and competitive advantage. The more constraints there are on data collection and processing, the slower is the ability to capitalize on advances in AI. This, too, would create an opportunity cost—revenue and market share losses in the future, especially in competition with the rising tech companies in China that have access to data from a vast local market with few data privacy concerns and rules and a more intrusive government. Policymakers will have to grapple whether increased regulation and rules about data protection will hinder future competitiveness and present a society with a crucial tradeoff in the services that AI and machine learning could create.

The bottom line is that neither European regulators nor Mark Zuckerberg alone will secure our digital futures around the world: ensuring privacy, transparency, and innovation takes work. There are no short cuts. Regulators, consumer advocates, and technology policymakers will have to do the hard work of developing an independent vision that offers checks and balances. Governments will need the political will to institute regulations that strike a balance between local realities and global competitiveness. The EU regulations and Facebook’s serial stumbles and apologies can, at best, be a good place to start this essential conversation. But it has a long way to go.

30 Apr 16:29

A Story About a Boat Explains Why Buyer Persona Insights Aren’t Obvious

by Adele Revella

verdesiva / Pixabay

“I have an appointment with a sales person tomorrow.” We were having a leisurely breakfast at our favorite café, and yet my husband’s tone was tortured, almost as if the subject was an upcoming root canal. “I can’t help it,” he said dismally. “I’ve gone as far as I can without talking to their sales guy.”

On our ride home, I realized that the buyers we interview for our mostly B2B persona studies have similar thoughts about their buying experiences. Although most of our clients sell technology or other business solutions, their buyers also avoid vendor interactions, especially with sales, for as long as possible. And like us, most have eliminated all but a few options by the time our clients know they’re looking.

This is just one of the reasons I cringe every time I read an article advising marketers to build buyer personas by interviewing their sales people or tracking the buyer’s digital footprint. There are dozens of boats we could consider, but only one or two companies knows we were shopping for a boat like theirs. As we often discover during our B2B interviews, we didn’t complete forms on any websites or conduct a Google search, so there is no digital footprint for marketers to follow.

What else is similar? Since this is the first time we’ll buy this type of boat and we’ll have to live with the consequences for a long time, we don’t want to make a mistake. So, for the last few weeks, we’ve talked to as many locals and “friends of friends” as possible to learn from their experiences. We’ve listened intently, making note of which brands they purchased and why.

Taking their advice, we went to the websites for the boats they suggested, searching for details about the dozens of criteria we’ve established. Most websites didn’t provide the information we were seeking, so we checked those off our list. On YouTube we found one very helpful video from a guy who owns one of the boats we were considering, which moved it up in our rankings.

Every day I read articles advising marketers to focus on demographics such as age, gender or “a day-in-the-life” when they build their personas. But much younger friends recommended the boat we’ll buy and their daily lives don’t resemble ours in the least. What we have in common are the ways we’ll use this boat, which is why our concerns and questions are essentially the same.

If anyone wanted to understand my boat buyer persona, they’d need to interview me about my buying experience. Just knowing that I talked to my peers or visited websites is of little help, they need to know what information I was seeking and which answers allowed my husband and I to trust in our decision.

As my husband said this morning, we’ve “gone as far as we can” in our buyer’s journey without talking to a sales person. We’ve narrowed our options to three, and now my husband will meet with the rep for the one that looks best. I hope the salesperson is smart enough about our buyer persona to answer his questions.

Price matters, but we’re not considering the least expensive option and will pay a premium for this boat if it does check all the boxes. This won’t prevent my husband from negotiating for a good price though.

I can imagine the day that company’s marketers ask this rep to describe our buyer persona. He’ll undoubtedly describe our age, marital status, and concerns about price. Like most personas developed without buyer interviews, this won’t improve the company’s marketing effort and might even make it worse

30 Apr 16:28

Why You Should Argue to Keep a Penny

by Anthony Iannarino

I recently read an article about what the average person believes to be the average company’s net margin. The number was shocking, and it demonstrates just how little people really understand about business. The average number was 36 percent.

The 36 percent was not gross margin, mind you. It was net margin, the money left over after you take out costs of goods sold and operating costs. The actual number is 6 percent, making the estimate off by 600 percent. Wal-mart has a net margin of 2.1 percent. Apple’s net margin is around 21 percent.

Wal-mart is an extremely successful company, and they keep a lousy 2 pennies out of every dollar you spend with them—and they give you the lowest price. Apple, on the other hand, has no interest in the lowest price model, and for the business model purity, they keep about 22 pennies out of every dollar you spend with them.

If you have a 6 percent net margin, the price concession you make comes off the 6 pennies you keep out of every dollar of revenue you generate. This is true if you have 2 percent margin or a 22 percent margin.

If you are asked for a discount, and you no doubt will be, keep in mind that the person asking you to do better on your price has no idea how much you net for providing them the goods or services you supply them. It’s likely that they believe you have much higher margins than you actually yield after paying all the bills.

Your belief as to what you should be able to keep is also a decision about the value you believe you create.  Apple could, should it decide to, try to operate at 6 percent net margin, lowering the price of their products and capturing greater market share. But that isn’t their business model, it’s not their strategy.

If you can net 6 percent you can net 7 percent. You have to be able to defend your right to claim an additional penny of each dollar of revenue. Most people will look at their costs to save the additional penny instead of trying to create enough additional value to be able to command an extra penny.

Are you willing to argue for a penny with people who believe you are starting with 36 pennies out of every dollar?

This post is sponsored by:

alt text image of Microsoft Logo

The post Why You Should Argue to Keep a Penny appeared first on The Sales Blog.

30 Apr 16:26

The “Last Mile” In Selling

by Dave Brock

44833 / Pixabay

In the old days of telecom, the days when telecom was dominated by landlines, one of the most important strategies had to do with the “last mile.” (Actually, much of the conversation around net-neutrality is today’s version of the last mile.)

The “last mile” was more figurative than literal, but it focused on who controlled the access to the home or business. Whatever service provider that owned that “last mile” relationship really controlled the majority of the revenue opportunity from the customer.

There’s a similar concept in selling. As we look at many of our sale enablement strategies, it seems the goal is to provide all the answers to the sales person, for every situation they are in. We script them, we are very prescriptive in exactly what they do in each situation.

But increasingly, our people are struggling in their conversations with customers, that last mile, where each individual, each organization, each situation is unique.

We can’t possibly give our people all the answers to deal with every situation they face engaging customers. We can get them most of the way with training, tools, content, scripts, but there will always be that last mile.

Ironically, this is the most critical part of the customer engagement process. It’s the ability to engage each individual, in each organization, for each situation, in meaningful, impactful and differentiated ways. It’s in these unique encounters that we create our greatest value and differentiation.

It’s how we engage these customers, helping them navigate through their being process, but each process is unique, so we have to be nimble enough to adapt what we do, how we engage to align with the customer and their buying group.

These are the last mile moments that happen every day for every salesperson.

But what are we doing to equip our people to deal with these last mile moments? We can’t script them, we can provide the content that “magically” enables the salesperson to deliver just what they need.

Equipping our people with the ability to figure out what to do, how to deal with each of these unique situations is critical to growing our people and enabling their success. Curiosity, problem-solving, active listening, critical thinking are all skills that contribute to the sales person’s ability to successfully navigate that last mile.

What are your sales enablement organizations and managers doing to equip salespeople to win the last mile?

30 Apr 16:26

How to Use FOMO to Create Urgency in Your Email Marketing

by Kristen Dunleavy

FOMO – the fear of missing out – and the concept of exclusivity are potent tools for email marketers.

“FOMO marketing is messaging that triggers your audience’s innate fear of missing out in order to make them more likely to take action,” writes Sharon Hurley Hall at OptinMonster. “It’s essential to learn how to use FOMO in marketing, no matter what age group or location you’re targeting.”

As consumers, we are continually face-to-face with very-effective FOMO triggers, often without realizing it. Ever notice that when you are searching for a hotel room that there always seem to be “just a few rooms left at this amazing rate?”

And when you begin to finalize your Amazon order, you are always informed about exactly how much more you must spend to “take advantage of free shipping?” They are both subtle and yet very effective methods designed to influence our purchasing decisions based on our fear of missing out on a good deal.

Marketers and sellers have been leveraging FOMO as long as people have had products and services to sell — it’s only natural to, for instance, stress that a sale is only for a specific time, or that supplies won’t last. But the need to create urgency is made more critical by recipients’ short attention spans and the crushing competition in every inbox.

Ramping up the urgency can’t wait for your body copy; rather, that quest must start with a FOMO-inducing subject line. The effort to craft one is worth it: “Subject lines that convey a sense of urgency and exclusivity can give a 22% higher open rate, writes Khalid Saleh, in an Invesp infographic.

To inject FOMO into a subject line, “just pick one of your recipient’s goals, hopes, or dreams, and dangle it in front of them,” suggests Nico Moreno at SUMO. “Explicitly show them what they’re missing out on, and how they can get it now, by taking the action you want.”

Subject lines that emphasize the limited nature of offers or what recipients will miss by not reading (and acting on) your message can work wonders, which is why words and phrases like “24 hours only” and “last chance” can get pulses racing and drive conversions.

Paradoxically, you probably want to use exclamation points — which have the express purpose of signifying urgency – sparingly, if at all, since they have a tendency to trigger spam filters.

Activating FOMO with exclusivity

According to Ramona Sukhraj at IMPACT, “The impact of exclusivity on human beings begins with the scarcity principle. Like supply and demand, the scarcity principle says that the more rare or unattainable something is, the more valuable it is. This elusive value sparks a sense of curiosity and urgency within a person and makes them want to know exactly it is that they’re missing out on. To the benefit of marketers, it’s these emotions that also make people want to convert or click-through to make sure they’re in on your exclusive offers before it’s too late.”

“Creating a sense of exclusivity in your campaigns can activate the recipient’s FOMO,” according to Alan Cassinelli at Mention. “Everyone loves a secret club. Fostering the idea of an elite club will make your recipient feel special for being offered up the content you’re serving them. Encourage your consumers to join your loyalty program with a campaign that promotes the special benefits they’ll receive.”

Of course, loyalty programs aren’t actually secret, or clubs; rather, they are mutually beneficial affiliations. But starting an actual club is also an option, advises Kevin Keating at Hanger12. “Any type of curated monthly ‘club’ or subscription presents a great opportunity for delivering emails that are opened and content that gets consumer clicks. Exclusive consumer groups can also be leveraged to offer product ‘subscriptions’ that can bring in recurring purchases that are less likely to occur otherwise.”

And Sukhraj offers these additional suggestions for marketers who want to use exclusivity to create some FOMO:

  • Use waiting lists – Build hype and awareness by having individuals sign up for an upcoming offer or event ahead of time with a dedicated landing page.
  • Set deadlines – Deadlines for registering for an event or redeeming a promotion creates a sense of urgency and gives your audience an extra push to act now instead of waiting until it’s too late.
  • Limit quantities — This, similar to setting a deadline, creates a sense of urgency and scarcity around the offer and encourages recipients to take action now to and be one of the lucky few to benefit from the promotion.
  • Require qualifications – Have specific criteria for those who can take advantage of a particular offer. Depending on your business, perhaps it’s only open to people in a certain area or industry. This limitation increases the perceived value of the offer.
30 Apr 16:26

Shaping our customer's "why"...

by bob@inflexion-point.com (Bob Apollo)

Golden CircleI recently shared my thoughts about applying Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why” concept (also known as The Golden Circle) to the sales process - you can read the article here.

I used Sinek’s framework to make the point that our best customers don’t just buy what we do, they buy into why we have chosen to do it and are prepared to pay a premium for how we do it.

Being able to articulate our why - and going on to explain how our approach is distinctively different and capable of driving superior outcomes for our customer - is a critical advantage in complex B2B sales.

But what about our prospective customer’s why and how - the reason why they believe they need to change and their vision of how they are going to make that change happen? What can we do to influence their thinking?

The answer, it turns out, is a great deal. And it involves applying the principles of the Golden Circle. Exactly how we apply them depends on where our customer is in their buying decision journey. Most successful customer decision journeys evolve through a series of key phases:

  • At first our prospective customer is unconcerned or unaware
  • Then they turn their attention to exploring the issue
  • Then they turn their attention to defining their needs and decision process
  • Then they turn their attention to selecting their preferred option
  • Then they turn their attention to verifying their choice
  • Then they turn their attention to confirming that the project can go ahead
  • Then they turn their attention to implementing their chosen solution

It goes without saying that this journey is rarely perfectly linear. The phases can sometimes seem to blur together, and of course our prospective customer can choose to move forwards or backwards, to stay as they are or to abandon the project at any stage. How can we align this with the Golden Circle?

Golden Circle and Customer Decision Journey-1


Start with Why (Unconcerned or Exploring)

If our prospective customer is at the very early stage of their journey - if they are either unaware or unconcerned about any of the issues we have chosen to target or have just started to explore them as a result of some recent trigger event - our focus should be on why they need to change.

We need to help them establish a clear value gap between their current situation and their future potential. We need to stretch that value gap by introducing unconsidered or undervalued needs until the contrast between where they are today and where they recognise they need to get to, and the associated case for change, is unarguable.

In doing so, we need to introduce and develop needs that are best satisfied by our core capabilities - but at this early stage, we need to be careful to lead towards our solution, and not with it. A premature product pitch or solution proposal can destroy the momentum that we have carefully sought to build.

During this all-important discovery phase, we need to stick with the problem and progressively develop the consequences and implications until our customer convinces themselves that action is necessary - and if after all our efforts the reason to act still seems vague or weak, we should carefully consider whether the opportunity is likely to lead to a sale.

Turn to How (Defining)

Once both we and our prospective customer believe that the gap between their current situation and future potential is sufficient to justify change, our joint attention must turn to how best to achieve that change.

This needs to include both a clear vision of their future solution, and an agreement about how they are going to decide and how their decision-making process is going to be managed (decision team, process, timing and criteria).

It is particularly critical that we do all that we can to influence our customer’s vision of a solution - and we need to start with the high-level approach (our “how”). What is the best type of solution? The most appropriate architecture? The essential philosophy and key principles upon which the solution must be based?

The decision-making process is a key part of their “how” - who needs to be involved in the decision team? What other internal experts or specialists might have a contribution? What are the key steps and milestones in the decision process? What is the timeframe? And what criteria are going to be used when making the decision - closely related to their high-level vision of a solution.

Whenever we are closely engaged with our customer during their how phase, we give ourselves the opportunity to influence their thinking in our favour. If a competitor takes the initiative during this phase, we may find ourselves at a strong (and potentially permanent) disadvantage.

Now What? (Selecting, Verifying and Confirming)

If we have already helped our prospective customer to shape their why and how, establishing exactly what they need to buy is far easier to influence in our favour. But what if we only become aware of an opportunity once the customer is already in the selecting phase, and have clearly defined exactly what they think they need?

This is most obvious when, for example, we receive an RFP without any prior warning or involvement on our part. Even if the RFP appears to be well aligned with our capabilities, this is a very dangerous stage to enter proceedings.

It is highly likely that other influences (most probably our competitors) have already been at play, and that their fingerprints - whether we can see them or not - are all over the document and the thinking that underpins it.

In issuing the RFP, the customer has already defined what they believe they need to buy. We have had no chance to influence their thinking around either why they need to change or how they need to change.

Make no mistake - when entering the opportunity at this late stage we find ourselves at a huge disadvantage. It is quite probable that they have only called us in because their procurement process requires that they receive a minimum number of competitive bids.

We need to make a very careful and rational assessment whether we should invest the considerable effort required to submit a bid we are unlikely to win (the statistics suggest that our chances are in the low single digits at best).

We are faced with a choice. My inclination has always been to test whether we can work backwards to the customer’s underlying why and how and in doing so at minimum get to better understand their motivations and if possible reshape their thinking in our favour.

This must involve engaging with the key business problem owners directly (and not just via procurement). If we are refused access, we must decide whether to play in game where someone else has established the (quite probably biased) rules.

It’s always best to Start with Why

But of course, this question never need arise if we manage to engage the prospect in the earlier stages of their consideration - while we can still shape their why, how and what. This, of course, requires that we carefully and clearly identify and target the issues we are best at solving, the organisations that are most likely to suffer from them, and the roles most likely to drive the change agenda and that we monitor the trigger events that are most likely to upset or challenge our prospective customer's status quo. 

In my previous article, I made the case for Starting With Why in our communications with our market, our customers and our prospects. In this article, I hope I’ve made a case for Starting With Why (or returning to it) in our response to every significant customer opportunity.

We can either influence or be the victims of another parties’ influence. I know which situation I prefer...

IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU'LL PROBABLY ALSO APPRECIATE:

BLOG: Starting with "Why?"

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BLOG: Discovery - the foundation of B2B sales success

BLOG: The compelling case for hastening slowly

BLOG: The issue with generic "unique value propositions"

BLOG: Are your sales people leading with gain or pain?

BLOG: Encouraging our sales people to think

BLOG: Are you selling "me-too" or "breakthrough"?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Apollo_3_white_background_250_square.jpgBob Apollo is a Fellow of the Association of Professional Sales and the founder of UK-based Inflexion-Point Strategy Partners. Following a successful career spanning start-ups, scale-ups and corporates, Bob now works with a growing client base of tech-based B2B-focused high-growth businesses, equipping them to Sell in the Breakthrough Zone by systematically creating, capturing and confirming their unique value in every customer interaction.
30 Apr 16:25

New Video: LinkedIn Presents the Future of Sales

by Sean Callahan
Future of Sales

Editor’s Note: The post introduces the latest LinkedIn Presents the Future video, which examines what's next for B2B sales organizations. The previous videos in the series can viewed here and here.

Sales professionals know firsthand that B2B sales has changed. Sales development reps, account executives, customer relationship managers, or sales managers — all have been on the front lines of big changes in B2B sales.

The Internet has forever altered the buyer’s journey, and now 57% of that journey is complete before a prospect reaches out to the sales department. Alignment between sales and marketing is actually increasing, and maybe even more entrenched than you might think. And salespeople are often finding that their marketing departments are creating more content that is intended to directly help sales and drive revenue.

Those are changes to sales that have already happened. What’s next? In this video, the latest in our “LinkedIn Presents the Future” series, thought leaders in the sales and marketing world prognosticate about what’s on the way in the world of B2B sales.

Here are some of their ideas about the future of sales, which appear in the new video, “LinkedIn Presents the Future of Sales”:

Artificial intelligence will help pave the way to be able to help give us insights so that we can better work with and or speak to and or personalize content directly to our particular buyer. —  Mario Martinez Jr., CEO, Vengresso
What we’re doing is we do all of our research ahead of time and then we want someone who is going to help facilitate that decision and if it seems like someone is going to put pressure on us or not help us facilitate it, then we’re going to find another option. —  A.J. Wilcox , Founder, B2Linked
The future of sales is very bad if you were in an environment where the decision making can all be handled online with the audience doing the research themselves. —  Andy Crestodina, CMO, Orbit Media 
I think that you will start to see to see more and more sales organizations understanding the importance and the value that their marketing colleagues bring to them. —  Jeff Davis, Founder, The Sales & Marketing Alignment Summit
I think that it's (still) all about relationships. People buy from who they like and the thing about platforms like LinkedIn, and we use LinkedIn to stay connected to clients and prospects all the time and we also work with our clients, is basically — it gives you the opportunity to build that relationship. —  Gina Michnowicz, CEO, The Craftsman Agency
We’re going through a transactional world to a relational world and sales people have to become guides for their prospects and customers, and so the skills of empathy, creativity, trust building really that’s where our sales is going.—  David J.P. Fisher, President, RockStar Consulting

Also in this video, Gini Dietrich, CEO, Arment Dietrich, and Eric Martin, Director-Marketing Programs, SalesLoft, share their thoughts on the future of sales. View the full video below.

LinkedIn Presents the Future of Sales

To keep pace with the latest in the sales world, subscribe today to the LinkedIn Sales Blog.  

 

30 Apr 16:24

The Future of Audience Selection: Where AI Can Take Your Campaigns

by kniemisto

Where do you start when you’re building an audience for your campaigns? Job titles? Industries? Maybe company size?

There’s so much more that indicates a buyer’s likelihood of engagement. But in the modern era of marketing technology, segmentation has remained largely linear – defined by the obvious demographic criteria such as industry, company size, and yes, job title.

It’s left many marketers unable to overcome lackluster campaign results and wondering how best to maximize the success of each campaign they run.To better engage individuals with relevant content and personalized interactions, we also need to evolve how we select who receives our outreach in the first place.

We need to move from batching and blasting to AI-driven, lookalike audiences.

Last year, Marketo kicked off a multiyear alliance with Google Cloud, to migrate our entire infrastructure to the Google Cloud Platform. This means our customers can leverage big data analytics on a world-class cloud platform and deliver faster campaign performance to engage with billions of individuals in the moment, all with the security that our customers demand. Currently, the Marketo Engagement Platform manages nearly half a trillion of these interactions every year.

Introducing Marketo AudienceAI

This week, at the 2018 Marketing Nation Summit, Marketo is announcing new AI innovations that build on Google Cloud’s portfolio of machine learning technology, putting greater insights in the hands of the marketer faster. Those at Summit will get a sneak peak of Marketo AudienceAI, which will leverage Google Cloud machine learning to help to improve the speed, scale, and effectiveness of marketing campaigns on our Marketo Engagement PlatformTM.

Marketo AudienceAI uses the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to expand a marketer’s campaign reach beyond linear segmentation, to include individuals who are similar to those who have converted (lookalike audiences.) This will allow marketers to identify the right target audience, based on behaviors and patterns, that will increase the relevance, and deliver powerful benefits for organizations. Relevance leads to better conversions, revenue, and ROI, while delivering experiences that will resonate with buyers.

Six months ago, we debuted Marketo ContentAI, which applies machine learning to the content delivery process. It selects the next piece of content of interest to a customer, based on their previous choice, and can, for example, tell you the top 10 most interesting pieces for a particular audience. It does this in real-time, something that no human could possibly be able to do in weeks or even months. Plus, it learns as the customer continues to engage, getting more and more information about their preferences. This saves time, energy and more importantly, provides a more personalized and engaging experience for customers.

Marketo AudienceAI, which is still in development, will be designed to use the same concepts of audience selection, tapping into a marketer’s own data to find the next lookalike target audience.  In addition, this innovation supports Google AdWords Customer Match, allowing marketers to optimize your paid media spend and get a better ROI by targeting your Marketo contacts with personalized ads across Google Search, YouTube, and Gmail. Alternatively, marketers can expand reach by targeting similar audiences with personalized ads.

Underlying this technology is Marketo’s dedication to security. The Google Cloud Platform, with its intelligent and elastic infrastructure, provides performance and trusted security our customers require for real-time engagement on a global scale. Through our alliance with Google Cloud, engagement in the moment becomes a reality worldwide, and in a way where marketers have peace of mind that they’ll do it more securely.

At Marketo, we believe in purpose-built innovation, putting it in the hands of the marketer faster. In the Marketing Nation, there’s no need for data scientist expertise and IT resources to unlock the value of AI.

Welcome to a fearless, AI-driven marketing future.

For more information on our AI technologies visit marketo.com/ai.

The post The Future of Audience Selection: Where AI Can Take Your Campaigns appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

30 Apr 16:22

5 Common Multi-Channel Challenges and How to Overcome Them

by William Harris

Every ecommerce business owner wants to see their business grow and profits increase, but no one likes experiencing the growing pains that so often go hand-in-hand with scaling operations.

In ecommerce, investing in multi-channel can help you quickly take your business to the next level, but it can also come with a number of challenges that you may or may not be aware of.

To succeed in multi-channel, you have to know how you’re going to address these challenges when they appear in front of you. You have to put a clear strategy in place before you necessarily need it.

Here are 5 of the most common challenges you might face as you work to spin up or scale multi-channel for your ecommerce business, and tips for overcoming those challenges:

1. Cross-Channel Messaging & Branding

One of the biggest marketing challenges most ecommerce business owners face when it comes to multi-channel is keeping branding and messaging consistent across different channels. When you’re only selling your products on one channel—usually your own website—it’s much easier to control and keep track of the messages and branding you’re using to compel people to buy. But when you start investing in multi-channel, you’re forced to manage messaging and branding consistent across a number of channels (Amazon, Ebay, Etsy, Jet, etc.) that all have different requirements, nuances, and best practices.

When you’re presenting your products to new audiences on new channels, you have to ensure that you’re creating the same first impression that people are getting when they visit your website and buy products through your own online store.

If you decide to test new product photos, graphics, or new key messaging to promote products and drive more sales on your website AND you find out those photos and messaging are more effective in boosting conversions than what you’ve used in the past, you need to make sure you’re updating your other channels too. Otherwise you risk missing out on sales.

To ensure that you’re painting the right picture on all the channels you use to sell products, keep these 3 tips in mind:

  • Tip #1: Know the requirements of each channel and adjust your branding and messaging accordingly. When you start selling on more channels and marketplaces, it’s important to have a firm understanding what requirements exist. Each channel will have different requirements when it comes to things like photo size, graphics best practices, word count, and messaging. For example, see this requirements and best practices document from Amazon. It helps sellers understand how to create product detail pages. Here’s another example from Etsy. In this document, you’ll learn all the best practices and requirements for adding images to your product listing pages. Make an effort to read through the guidelines for each of the channels you intend to use going forward. Work with your designers and copywriters to ensure that your graphics and messaging can meet those requirements while still painting the right picture and telling the right story.
  • Tip #2: Keep everything stored in a Google sheet, Dropbox folder, or online catalog. As you add more marketplaces and channels to your selling strategy, make an effort to keep all your messages, graphics, and photos stored in one convenient location. You want to be able to review messaging across all channels without having to visit each of them individually. You can do this by compiling text and links in a Google sheet, or by adding documents and screenshots to a Dropbox folder. Alternatively, you could leverage multi-channel selling software to create one centralized product catalog that can be reviewed and managed in real-time for all channels at once.
  • Tip #3: Put a strategy in place for updating messaging and branding all at once. To ensure that you’re not using any out-of-date messaging, branding, or product photography across your channels, make sure you have a clear strategy in place that you can implement whenever updates need to be made. Put someone from your team in charge of making and managing updates, make sure the process is clearly defined, and leverage multi-channel automation software to boost productivity.

The important thing to remember when it comes to adding more channels and marketplaces into your selling strategy is this: you only have one opportunity to make the right first impression. To be successful, keep messaging, branding, and consistency at the top of your mind when creating and updating product listing and brand pages for each channel.

2. Inventory Management

Another big challenge that most ecommerce business owners face when they start selling products on more channels is keeping up with inventory. We’ve written about this topic before on our blog. In a piece published last December, we outlined a few challenges that exist for many ecommerce business owners who suddenly need to manage inventory across multiple channels:

  • Challenge #1: Overstocking & Overselling – When you’re investing in multichannel, it can sometimes be difficult to manage supply demand, or estimate how much product you’ll actually need to have on hand in a given month. Keeping too much inventory on hand can be expensive, but not having enough can prevent you from growing and serving new customers.
  • Challenge #2: Manual Management That Doesn’t Allow for Scale – Manually managing and fulfilling inventory might have been easier when you were only selling from your own store and website, but it quickly becomes very ineffective once you start adding additional channels into the mix. To succeed and scale, you can no longer rely on offline spreadsheets and documents when tracking and managing inventory. You have to put tools in place that allow you to become more efficient.
  • Challenge #3: Lack of Visibility Across Multiple Channels & Multiple Warehouses – Without multi-channel software, it’s not always easy to keep track of the sales and orders that come in from each channel, and how those sale and orders are impacting the inventory you have on hand. In addition, it’s equally as challenging to try to keep track of orders, inventory, and relationships across all the warehouses, partners, and manufacturers you need to support all the channels you’re now selling products on.
  • Challenge #4: Lack of Insights – To succeed with multi-channel, you need to be able to track, understand, and leverage data relating to your inventory and customers. You have to know how inventory is fluctuating over time, how demand is changing over time, what demand will look like in the future, when to reorder products, when to scale back on products, and where breakdowns in your processes are happening.

So how do you overcome the challenges that exist with managing inventory across multiple channels and marketplaces? Read through this blog post. In it, we share 6 actionable inventory management tips that you can start applying to your business today.

3. Customer Support & Experience

When you’re only selling products through your own website and store, creating the right experience for customers is fairly easy to manage. But supporting and nurturing relationships with customers can easily become a lot more challenging when you start selling on places like Amazon, Ebay, Etsy, Facebook, Alibaba, and other online marketplaces.

To succeed in ecommerce, you have to serve your customers above all else. That means knowing what their pain points are, providing them with value, selling them high-quality products, offering world-class support, and creating delightful unmatched experiences for them.

To ensure that your customers are getting the same level of attention no matter where they go to buy your products, keep the following 5 tips in mind:

  • Tip #1: Hire the right people – The best thing you can do to ensure that your customers are getting world-class support is to build a world-class team. To find out who exactly you should have on your team, read through this blog post on building a dedicated customer experience team for your ecommerce business.
  • Tip #2: Document guidelines – Know how you want and need to interact with customers on each of the channels and marketplaces you use. Take time to document guidelines that your team can leverage as they interact with customers. Include relevant examples, links, and stories to make your documentation more relevant and useful to your team.
  • Tip #3: Map out the customer journey – To provide an unforgettable experience for your customers, you have to know what their journey looks like. Take time to map out the journey that a typical customer takes with you—from discovery and purchase to delivery and re-ordering. Look for opportunities to delight and help you customer all along the way. To learn more about mapping the customer journey, read through this blog post from Shopify.
  • Tip #4: Use automation tools – There are a number of tools your support team can be using to ensure that every customer is getting the same level of interaction from your company when they reach out. If you’re looking to invest in a customer support tool, look into Zendesk, ChannelReply, or xsellco.
  • Tip #5: listen to your customers – Finally, take time to listen to your customers. If you find out that people aren’t having a good experience at any point along their journey, find out why, and do something to fix it. You can spend all day reading about how to optimize and improve customer experience, but if you’re not taking the time to listen to your customer, you’re missing out on the some of the biggest learnings you can capture for your business.

If your customers are happy, your business will grow. It’s as simple as that.

4. Shipping & Returns

Shipping is another area that ecommerce business owners struggle with when they start selling products on more channels and marketplaces. Again, the big problem lies in the fact that when you are small and you’re only taking and fulfilling orders through your own website and store, shopping is a lot easier to manage. When you start adding more channels into the mix, you have to be ready to scale, otherwise you risk damaging relationships with customers, ruining your brand reputation, and losing out on future sales.

Here are a handful of tips that you can use to overcome multi-channel shipping challenges:

  • Tip #1: Know your fulfillment options – When you’re working on scaling your ecommerce business, it’s important to know what your fulfillment options are. We recently published a helpful guide to product shipping that outlines 3 main options you can leverage as you dive deeper into multi-channel. Those options are: self-fulfillment, 3PL (third-party logistics), and dropshipping.
  • Tip #2: Find the best shipping partner for your needs – when it comes to shipping, it’s also important to know what your shipping options are. There are a number of partners you can leverage to ship products for you, and they all have tools that can make scaling easier for you and your team. To learn more about what your options are, read this post from Shopify.
  • Tip #3: Hone in on pricing – to ensure that your business can remain profitable even as it scales and shipping becomes more expensive, you need to understand how to effectively price your products. To develop the right pricing strategy for your ecommerce business, products, and customers, read through this helpful post from LemonStand.
  • Tip #4: Make your return policies clear – Finally, make sure your customers and prospects understand what your return policies are. Be clear about what your guidelines are and what they need to know before purchasing a product from you. Include return policy messaging or links to policy pages on each the channels you’re using. Doing so ahead of time will save you time and headaches as you work to scale your business and launch your products on new channels over time.

The takeaway here is don’t wait until you’re overwhelmed to figure out how to manage shipping for your business. Develop a strategy ahead of time, and start implementing it before you need it.

5. Growing Pains

As you scale your ecommerce business and introduce your products on new channels and marketplaces, you should expect to encounter a handful of other growing pains along the way. Here are some additional challenges you may encounter and tips on how to approach and overcome them:

  • Challenge #1: You’re swamped with tasks and can’t focus on bigger growth initiatives – The solution here is that you need to hire more people to help you, either temporarily or permanently. To find out who you need, make a list of all the tasks and responsibilities you’re currently managing, and which of those tasks could be outsourced to someone else if you had help. Then prioritize that list based on importance, impact, time spent on each task. It may also be helpful to make a list of all the things you wish you could do if you had more time. Seeing that list may help push you to make the investment in a new employee.
  • Challenge #2: You’re concerned about keeping product quality intact – As you scale, you may have to change the way your product is manufactured in order to keep up with demand. To ensure that you don’t lose out on product quality, be fiercely obsessed about it, and don’t allow your partners to cut any corners. Be clear about your expectations, and cut ties with anyone who can’t meet them.
  • Challenge #3: You’re getting more website traffic – The solution here is to make sure you have the bandwidth in place to allow for more traffic. Even a few seconds of slow pagespeed on your website can have a significant impact on sales. To ensure that your website can handle sudden increases in traffic and activity, work with your web developer, contact your hosting provider, and leverage tools like PageSpeed Insights from Google.

To be successful with multi-channel growth, the key is to try to think about and plan for all the challenges you might face as you scale your business and operations. If you can be proactive about putting strategies in place, you’re much more likely to build a sustainable, profitable business in the months and years ahead.

Over to You

What other multi-channel challenges have you experienced and how did you work to overcome them? Tell me in the comments below.

30 Apr 16:22

How Visual Content Can Improve Readership of Your Brand’s Emails

by Personal Branding Blog

An email marketing strategy is still one of the best ways your personal brand can connect with your audience in a meaningful way. The type of communication is important for increased sales and return customers. You can grab their attention through strong visuals that are easy to read on mobile.

There are several ways that the right images and video can work for your brand, which should be well suited for your message and brand image. Visual content can enhance your emails whether you include a photo or video that tells a story, illustrates important points or urges readers to take action.

If you are losing subscribers or have lower open rates then adding a mix to your content could help boost your leads and sales. Here are several ways your email marketing messages can be more appealing:

  • Keep it simple – Use small sizes on your photos and videos with less detail in order to avoid crowding out your text. Keep in mind that your readers may be viewing your messages on mobile devices, and want to get to your email as quickly as possible. Too many visual graphics can slow the loading speed down and cost you in lead generation.
  • Text needs to be the priority – Include relevant visuals to accompany your written email. It’s best practice to place your images above the fold in the preview pane. This helps to draw the reader’s attention to your message and call to action.
  • Use a branded color scheme – Harmonize your templates with the colors you’re already using on your other online platforms. Choose images that stick with the theme you already have in place that your audience can easily recognize.
  • Include alt tags – Keep in mind that some recipients’ email services won’t load images immediately if at all. What they will see is the description instead of the picture. For example, use a tag that reads, ‘learn how to master social media now’ rather than one that reads, ‘image of eBook cover.’

Although there’s a trend towards clean, simple email designs, visuals could be a great compliment to help your brand stand out. It’s always important to send out test messages before your real broadcast to make sure the formatting looks good. If the formatting or image is done wrong, this can lead to losing your existing subscribers as well as new ones.

30 Apr 16:21

Sales Motivation Video: What’s One New Question You Will Use Today?

by Mark Hunter

I challenge you each day to come up with a new question.

What’s one new question you can ask your customer? This will change your perspective and propel your success.

Check out the video to see what I mean:

A coach can help you excel in your sales career! Invest in yourself by checking out my coaching program today!

Copyright 2018, 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

30 Apr 16:21

Breaking Silos: Passive Consumption + Active Engagement FTW!

by Avinash Kaushik

Today something complex, advanced, that is most applicable to those who are at the edges of spending money, and thus have an intricate web of internal and external teams to deliver customer engagement and business success.

The Marketing Industrial Empire is made up of number of components.

If you consider the largest pieces, there is the internal (you, the company) and the external (agencies, consultants).

If you consider entities, you’ve got your media agency, your creative agency, your various advertising agencies, your website and retail store teams, your analysts, marketers, advertising experts, the UX teams, campaign analysts, fulfillment folks, the data analysts who are scattered throughout the aforementioned entities, the CMO, CFO, and hopefully your CEO. And I'm only talking about the small portion of your existence that is your marketing and analytics.

Whether you consider the large, simplistic perspective (internal – external) or the more complex entity view, it’s really easy to see how things can become siloed very quickly.

It’s so easy for each little piece (you!) to solve for your little piece and optimize for a local maxima. You win (bonus/promotion/award). It is rare that your company wins in these siloed existence.

That’s simply because silos don’t promote consideration of all the variables at play for the business. They don’t result in taking the entire business strategy or the complete customer journey. Mining a cubic zirconia is celebrated as if it is a diamond.

Heartbreakingly, this is very common at large and extra-large sized companies. (This happens a lot less at small companies because of how easily death comes with a local maxima focus.)

So how can you avoid this? How do you encourage broader, more out-of-the-box thinking?

This might seem simplistic, but sometimes it helps to give things names. Naming things clarifies, frames, and when done well it exposes the gaps in our thinking.

Today, I want to name two of the most common silos in large and extra-large companies, in the hope that it’ll force you to see them and subsequently abandon siloed thinking and solve for a global maxima.

Name abstract ideas, draw pictures, deepen appreciation, take action.

Could not be simpler, right? :)

Let’s go!

The Advertising Ecosystem: Passive Consumption.

I'm randomly going to use Geico as an illustrative example because the frequency at which they are buying ads means that every human, animal, and potted plant in the United States has seen a Geico commercial at least once in the last 6 hours (contributing to Geico’s business success).

Typically the ads we see are the result of the external creative and media agencies, and their partners in the internal company team/s.

Geico purchases every kind of ad: TV spots, radio ads, billboards (OOH), digital displays (video, online,– social media), print (magazines, newspaper, your cousin's Christmas letter), and so much more.

The teams naturally gravitate towards optimization and measurement that spans their individual mini-universes.

Was that a great ad? Can we test different spending levels in that market? What is the best way to get people to remember the delightful gecko? Can we automate the placement of display ads based on desired psychographics?

Did we get the TRPs that we were shooting for? What was the change in awareness and consideration? What was the reach/frequency for the Washington Post? How many impressions did our Twitter ads get, and how many people were exposed to our billboards?

These are important questions facets of, and delivery optimization of, the advertising. Questions like these, and adjacent others, tend to drive the entire lives of creative and media agencies/teams. For entirely understandable reasons. Siloed incentives delivering siloed local maxima results.

I cannot stress enough that these results can be positive (for the ad business and, in this case, the sales of insurance products). And yet, as a global maxima person it does not take a whole lot of effort to see a whole lot of opportunity if both the siloed incentives can siloed execution implied by the above questions can be changed.

Here’s an incredible simple way that every human seeking global maxima can look beyond the silo: “So, what happens after?

As in, what happens after the finite confines that are the scope of my responsibility/view?

To see that, the first step is to paint a picture that illustrates the current purpose (your silo), and then give it a name.

Here’s that picture for the example we are using, and the name I gave it is “passive consumption.”

passive_consumption

Over 90% of advertising is passive consumption. This means that the ad is in front of the human and they may see it or not see it.

Even on the platforms where interactivity is at its very core (Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, etc.), almost all of the advertising does not elicit any sort of interactivity. If you look at the percentages, almost no one clicks on banner ads, a small percentage on search ads, and you need only speak with a few people around you to see how many people actively engage with TV ads vs. run to the bathroom or pull out their mobile phone the moment forced-watch TV ads come on.

Keep in mind, this is not a ding against passive consumption or the hard work done by Geico's agency and internal teams. Blasting ads on TV does cause a teeny tiny micro percentage to buy insurance – a fact provable via Matched Market Tests, Media Mix Models. The teeny tiny micro infinitesimally small number of views of brand display ads will cause outcomes. (Hold this thought, we’ll come back to that in a moment.)

So, what is the passive consumption challenge?

First, how far the vision of the creative and media agencies/teams will see (thus limiting success – global maxima). Second, trapped in the silo the vision for what will be measured and deemed as success.

The first is heartbreaking. The second ensures the death of any long-term impact.

Let me explain.

With over 90% passive consumption…. Well, passive… Smart media and advertising agencies/teams will primarily use post-exposure surveys to measure awareness (what companies provide car insurance) and consideration (which brands you would consider).

The brilliant agencies will also measure elements such as purchase intent (how likely it is that you'll consider Geico as your next car insurance provider) and likelihood to recommend (how likely is it that you'll recommend Geico to your family and friends).

All of these metrics will cause surveys to be sent via various mediums to people who've seen the TV ads, the banners on Facebook, and the video ads on YouTube. And a subset of users who were not exposed to the ads. Usually, there is anywhere between a few hundred to a thousand survey responses that will end up providing a statistically significant sample.

The scores from these responses are presented in weekly, monthly, or quarterly meetings. Segmented by marketing activity, they are the end-all be-all justification for media spending. Snapchat increased aided awareness by +23%, let us spend more there. Or, billboards in Georgetown and Austin shifted purchase intent by +2%, we should triple our spend in Chicago.

Every measurement and optimization initiative is based on this cocktail of metrics. Thus delivering a positive, but local, maxima.

Even the next best innovation in media will be based on results from the same metrics cocktail. Thus delivering a little more positive, but still local, maxima.

Why not global maxima?

Because success is determined by, innovation is driven by, measurement that is self-reported feelings.

That name captures the actual thing that is being measured (feelings) by the metrics above, and where the data comes from (self-reported) after being exposed to our advertising.

This will help your company, your agencies, understand limits. Limits in terms of what’s happening (mostly, passive consumption) and what data we are looking at (all post-exposure and self-reported).

Limits in measurement that incentivize solving for a local maxima.

Let me repeat one more time. Passive consumption measured by self-reported feelings does drive some success – else Geico would not be the financial success it is. In the short-term some campaigns are trying to drive long-term brand influence or causing a shift in public opinion or simply to remind people your brand still exists as a choice. All good. Self-reported feelings are wonderful. Appreciate that even in those cases where you are not trying to drive short-term sales, if all you have are feelings converted into metrics… You are limiting imagination.

An obsession with just passive consumption by your agencies and internal teams delivers 18 points of success. I’m saying if you think global maxima, remove limits, you can do 88 points!

The Business Ecosystem: Active Engagement.

Getting those additional 70 points success requires breaking the self-imposed creative/media/advertising silo and caring about the human behavior if people lean-in instead of passive consumption – when they take an action (a click, a phone call, a store visit).

Time to draw another picture, and give this behavior a name.

I call it… drum roll please… Active Engagement!

active_engagement

Some people, between 0.01% to 10% (so rare!), who see Geico’s online ads will visit a Geico retail store or Geico's website.

People are actually doing something. They are walking into your store, talking to an agent, picking up the literature, calling you on the phone, clicking on to your site, watching videos, comparison shopping, and more. This is all human behavior that your tools can report for you.

A small percentage will end up buying insurance – mazel tov! –, providing perhaps the most valuable data.

The lucky thing about active engagement is that, in addition to self-reported feelings, you also get tons of highly-useful quantitative data representing human behavior.

I call this type of data: Observed Human Behavior.

If you are a part of an creative, media, or an internal company team, you have two powerful issues you can solve for: passive consumption (happens most of the time) AND active engagement (happens some of the time).

Likewise, you can seek to understand performance using self-reported data where the people reflect on how they feel, along with behavior data that represents what they actually do.

The combination of these two factors deliver the much needed Global Maxima perspective.

That is how you shatter silos. The creative agency has to care about how ads perform in their labs, in the real world, and what kind of online and offline behavior the creative is driving (end-to-end baby!). The media agency has to care about the creative and where it needs to get delivered (recency, frequency FTW!), and the bounce rate (70% ouch, 30% hurray!) and profit from each campaign. The retail experience team, the call center delight team, and the site experience team will break their silo and reach back into understanding the self-reported feelings data from the media agencies and the ideas that lead to the creative that delivered a human to them.

Everyone cares about the before and after, solving for the overall business rather than their little silo. Passive consumption plus active engagement equals global maxima. Or, self-reported feelings plus observed human behavior equals global maxima.

: )

Here’s a massively underappreciated benefit: It also encourages every employee – internal and external – to take full credit for their impact on the short and long-term effects of their effort.

It is rare to see this happen in real life, even at top American and European companies.

What’s usual is to see the three silos between creative agencies, media agencies, and company internal team. There is usually further sub-segmentation into passive consumption teams (also lovingly referred as brand agencies/advertisers) and active engagement teams (performance agencies/advertisers). The further sub-sub-segmentation into products and services (depending on the company).

They then quickly fall into their respective measurement silos, solving for the local maxima.

Change starts with naming things and drawing pictures. Gather the key leaders at your company and agency partners. Show them passive consumption and self-reported feelings along with active engagement and observed human behavior. Talk through the implications of each picture. Ask this influential audience: What can you contribute to when it comes to breaking silos?

I have yet to meet a single company where simply drawing the picture did not result in a dramatic rethinking of focus areas, responsibilities, and ultimately priorities.

Accelerating Success: Five Quick Changes.

Once you have that discussion, what should you do to truly cause a significant change in behavior?

Five Es form the core of the strategies that I end up using (please share your's via comments below). They are:

1. Expand the scope of data your employees use.

For the people who buy your television ads, include both store and website traffic data. Break the shackles of GRPs and Frequency.

For people buying your display ads on Facebook, include page depth, bounce rate, as well as micro-conversion rates for those campaigns. Break the shackles Awareness and Views.

For people buying your videos ads on Hulu, complement Hulu's self-reported feelings metrics with user behavior and conversion rates.

And continue going in this fashion.

2. Expand the incentives structures for your employees.

Most marketing employees, both internal and external, undertaking passive consumption initiatives are rewarded for cost per TRP, effective reach, awareness and consideration increases, etc. Whatever this bucket as an employee incentive, it can stay.

Consider adding one or two KPIs from active engagement. For example: Store visits, phone calls (as a result of that increase in consideration). Website visits, loyalty, micro-outcomes, and 25 other easily-available observed human behavior metrics are available to you pretty much in real-time.

For people who own responsibility for your stores, call center and website, take a metric or two from passive consumption and make it a small part of their incentive structure.

People respond to what they are compensated with, or promoted for. Use it to solve for a global maxima in the company and its customers.

3. Expand the time horizon for success.

This is really hard.

You buy 100 TRPs, it’s expensive, and the executives tend to start badgering you for immediate results.

The problem is that self-reported feelings data takes time, and since at least 90% of passive consumption leads to no immediate active engagement, all this does is incentivize bad behavior by your agencies and employees. Long-term objectives are thrown onto the chopping block and long-term strategies are judged on short-term success – which immediately ruins the campaign’s measurement. Oh and the audience being bombarded by your ads that are trying to deliver short-term outcomes from long-term creative and campaigns… They despise you because you are sucking, they can see that, and they instantly realize your are wasting their time.

No matter how much your wish, a Chicken won’t birth a Lion’s cub.

If you want short-term success, define the clearly as a goal, pick the right short-term self-reported feelings metric and observed behavior metric, now unleash your creative agency and their ideas (on that short-term horizon), then plead with your media agency to buy optimal placements, and ensure the retail/phone/web experience is not some soft and fuzzy experience, rather it is tied to that clear goal and success metrics. Sit back. Win.

If you want long-term success… Same as above, replace short with long. How amazing is that?

4. Expand the datasets that teach your smart algorithms.

If you’ve only visited this blog once in the last 12 months, or read just one edition of my truly amazing newsletter :), Marketing <> Analytics Intersect, it is quite likely I have infected you with the passion to start investing in machine learning in order to bring smart automation to your marketing and user-experience initiatives.

If you are following my advice, make absolutely sure that you are not training your algorithms based solely on passive consumption, self-reported feelings data. It is necessary, but not sufficient.

Rich observed behavior data will provide your algorithm the same broad view of success as we are trying to provide the humans in #2 above. In fact, the algorithms can ingest way more data and complexity. Thus allowing them to solve for a super-global maxima compared to our humble abilities.

Every algorithm is only as smart as the data you use to educate it. Don't short-change the algorithm.

5. Expand leadership comfort level with ambiguity.

For your TV efforts, there are limits to what you can measure. You have self-reported feelings data, and usually that’s about it. If you have a sophisticated world-class measurement team, you may be running some controlled experiments to measure one or two elements of active engagement observed human behavior data.

For YouTube or Hulu on the other hand, you’ll have additional self-reported feelings data, and if you follow my advice today, plenty of directly-causal observed human behavior data at your disposal.

Get very comfortable with this reality, and execute accordingly.

When some executives are not comfortable with this reality, they typically end up gravitating towards the lowest common denominator. Even in regards to strategies where more is possible (digital), they just end up using self-reported feelings data for everything.

I do understand why this is; executives are pressed for time, so the executive dashboard needs only one metric they can compare across initiatives. This instantly dumbs-down the intelligence that could help contribute to smarter decisions.

Kindly explain this to your executives, share with them the value of being comfortable with a little ambiguity that comes from using the best metric for each initiative type.

We can achieve smarter global maxima decisions if we just use different metrics in some instances.

Closing Thoughts.

The larger the company, the harder it is to solve for a global maxima. Companies need command and control. Companies worry that people are going to run wild in 15 different directions. Companies need to reward an individual, that means creating a finite role that can be defined and measured at a small level. Companies add layers upon layers to manage. Companies create org clusters (divisions). And, more.

Every one of these actions forces a local maxima. Every human can see their few pixels and have no idea what the image looks like.

Even if then the company progresses little by little, they’ll run out of luck one day. Worse some nimble small company – that does not yet have to worry about all of the above – will come eat your breakfast first, then dinner and then lunch.

The lesson in this post applies across the entire business, even if in this instance it is applied to marketing and advertising.

Paint a picture of what the local maxima execution looks like in your division – or better still company. Give these pieces a name. Then, figure out, like I’ve done above, what the connective tissue is that’ll incentivize global maxima thinking and execution.

Carpe diem!

As always, it is your turn now.

In your specific role, are you solving for the global maxima or a local maxima? How about your creative and media agencies? Your internal marketing or product teams? Has your company done something special to ensure that teams are considering both self-reported feelings and observed human behavior? Is there a magic metric you feel that’ll encourage each piece of the business success puzzle to solve for a global maxima?

Please share your wisdom, tips and secrets to success via comments below.

Thank you.

The post Breaking Silos: Passive Consumption + Active Engagement FTW! appeared first on Occam's Razor by Avinash Kaushik.

30 Apr 16:21

How Content Can Create a Self-Sustaining Customer Referral Engine

by Bethany Johnson

customer-referral-engine

Robert Rose, CMI chief strategy advisor, loves to reset his audience’s brains with a truth bomb:

The purpose of a business is to create a customer.

This 60-year-old quote from management great Peter Drucker reminds marketers that their work – creating demand, generating traffic, prompting social shares, or even gathering leads — is in service of this one clear goal. It’s a refreshing pause button on all the distracting possibilities available.

Sulte Group CEO Teju Owoye takes the customer-creation concept one ambitious step further.

Your content can create a self-replicating referral engine, as Teju shares in her Content Marketing World presentation Accelerating Growth by Hacking Your Conversion Journey.

To get there, though, you first must help users learn to love the product or service they just signed up for.

Don’t stop building relationships at conversion

In the conventional sales and marketing funnel, marketing teams work on building awareness and nurturing prospects so some become leads and some eventually purchase a product or service. It’s tempting to celebrate those wins.

“It’s super exciting that you’ve got the customer to purchase your product, your service, engage with your platform,” Teju says.

But, what most marketers call “conversions” are truly a relatively minor transactional event that signals the start of a change. What happens next can determine who does the bulk of your future funnel-filling work — you or your happy customers.

“Marketers need to be intimately involved post-conversion to make sure that the customer is not only utilizing the product, but they become evangelists — and they’re referring their counterparts, their friends, their family, whoever is in their sphere of influence,” Teju says.

To boost growth, Teju suggests you guide the newly converted (through personalized content delivered at key moments) to become a different kind of customer ­­– an active user who gets so much value from your product or service that the impulse to share it with others is almost irresistible.


Guide a new conversion to be a different kind of customer - an active user. @TejuOwoye. Read more>>
Click To Tweet


Change how you view the buyer’s journey

What if, instead of applauding a conversion, a transaction, or a sale, you view a new subscriber or buyer as beginning the journey? What if you devoted the same measure of consideration and resources to new customers as to your red-hot leads? The traditional funnel changes to something more like this:

expanded-conversion-funnel

The right side is what Teju calls “our new job as marketers … making sure that the consumer has a delightful experience and is unlocking value at critical points while using your product.”

Get inside customers’ hearts and heads

To understand how best to guide your new customers toward this value, ask these familiar questions:

  • What is it about our favorite product or service that make customers really love it?
  • How does it make their lives easier?
  • How does the brand respond when they have questions or problems?
  • How does the product or service assimilate into or effect other aspects of their lives?

How does your brand respond when customers have questions or problems, asks @TejuOwoye. Read more>>
Click To Tweet


Then add a new, somewhat mind-bending question:

  • Does their behavior change because of how they feel about the user experience? Or do their feelings change because of the new behavior once equipped with the product?

Good consumer sentiment prompts behavioral change. It’s no surprise that when customers feel a product or service can ease their pain, they engage with it. But did you know that the opposite is true?

Customer behavior can change how a customer feels. The more people act like power users, the more they feel like they are power users. The result is a magical, self-perpetuating brand advocate (a power user).


The more people act like power users, the more they feel they are power users. @TejuOwoye via @thanybethanybe.
Click To Tweet


(A note about “power users.” Although that term is often associated with software or apps, Teju is adamant that the concept works for any B2B or B2C company: “The same thing applies for a software as a service company, applies for a law office, or for a marketing agency: You want to make sure you have delighted customers who are referring you to people they know.”)

Use data to understand power users’ behavior

To bring the behavior-drives-feelings concept down to earth, Teju describes a client whose goal was to popularize its software — an app that powered a cash-back rewards program.

First, they dug deep into website tracking data to identify a handful of behavioral markers that distinguish their most active, engaged, happy customers — in other words, the super users.

Here’s what they found:

  • Super users linked their credit cards to the mobile app right away. Immediately after signing up, they navigate their way to the “link-a-card” function, and they make it happen.
  • Within the first seven days, super users visited about four restaurants, usually around lunch time on weekdays.
  • Over the next couple weeks, they linked more credit cards — three on average.

The brand used the findings in a surprising way. Instead of going out to find new potential power users, Teju says, the team set out to create new power users within the existing subscriber base by developing a calendar of activation milestones.

activation-milestone-sample

Create content that changes existing users’ behavior

To support these milestones, the marketing team devised personalized messages for users who didn’t do these things, those who signed up without fully using the application’s features or getting the rewards. It started with a message like this:

“Glad to see you in our cash back rewards program. Next, link a card so you don’t miss out on any rewards.” 

The goal of this message is to motivate an otherwise lukewarm customer to hit what Teju calls an “activation milestone.” In the expanded funnel, activation is the step that prompts people to really unlock the features of a product.

The marketing team did not expect an emotional investment in the program right away. That could come later. At this stage, a user’s actions mattered most.

Once a customer links some cards, the team sends a reminder like this:

“Looks like you haven’t tried using our app at a restaurant quite yet. Doing that separates our most well-rewarded ($$$!) app users from people who don’t get as much out of the experience.

“Tell you what. If you visit one of our affiliated venues in the next week, then we’ll sweeten your day by giving you a chance to win a restaurant gift card.”

The goal was to get this person to adopt the product or service and use it as a power user would. Incentives were a great way to achieve that goal ­­– especially when your product rewards users organically in time.

Guide the aha moment

For example, this software company realized an aha moment would come for users who took enough power-user actions. A supremely gratifying moment would happen when the user would look down to find a fulfilling $10 reward on the app – just for continuing his usual spending habits.

Often, Teju says, the moment was so powerful the user remarked aloud to friends and family in casual conversation, creating a genuine word-of-mouth referral that sent new prospects right to the app.


The aha moment for power users is when they talk to friends about your product. @TejuOwoye. #wordofmouth
Click To Tweet


Get this right, Teju says, and you’ve not just created a loyal customer, you’ve created a potential viral loop, the self-fueled engine of word-of-mouth marketing.

Much of today’s content endeavors to spark a feeling or perception. It’s tempting to try to convince consumers of their own desire for your solution – to make promises, brag, or otherwise compel audiences to a faux enthusiasm. When maybe, just maybe, another tactic could be to move them one step further toward power-user behavior.

The closer their behaviors inch them toward your product’s built-in rewards, the sooner they reach that natural aha moment. And that’s the kind of moment they can’t help but share with others.

Here’s an excerpt from Teju’s talk:

Want more pause buttons, truth bombs, and aha moments of your own? Register for Content Marketing World Sept. 4-7 in Cleveland, Ohio, and earn a $100 discount when you enter code BLOG100.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

The post How Content Can Create a Self-Sustaining Customer Referral Engine appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.

30 Apr 16:21

How Inbound Marketing and Sales are Connected

by Ashley Poynter

Inbound marketing encompasses a wide array of tactics, goals, and metrics. The key ideas here are to increase awareness, drive better leads, and convert more often. Inbound marketing paves the golden road for consumers to find your brand, engage with your brand, and love your brand.

The top priority is to connect to the right audience with the right message at the right time. As such, there are some key components to inbound marketing:

  • Content Creation & Delivery Producing white papers, ebooks, infographics, guides, or other content that is gated and serves to collect contact information
  • Editorial Outreach – Reaching out to industry-relevant blogs and publications to submit thought leadership and guest pieces. This offers new exposure to your target audience on new platforms and positions you as an influencer.
  • Contact Capture – Capturing information about site visitors via analytics and via web forms.
  • Calls-to-action (CTAs) – Ensuring your content, landing pages, product/service pages and other key parts of your website have embedded images and buttons that drive users to take an action (download, free trial, learn more, etc.)
  • Landing Pages – Visually appealing, SEO-friendly web pages that users “land” on and that include relevant information about an offer, content piece, or other promotion.
  • SEO – Optimizing your site and content for core and long-tail keywords that make you and your services more findable online by your target audience.
  • Social Distribution – Ensuring your high quality content gets in front of the right people by publishing to social channels for maximum exposure.
  • Marketing Automation – Regular email outreach to people who have filled out a form or otherwise signed up for these communications. This serves to regularly “touch” interested leads and move them through the funnel with additional content and helpful information to aid in their decision-making process.
  • Contact Management (CRM) Integration – A place to store, access, and share contact information once it’s captured.

The operative word with inbound marketing is inbound. Rather than pushing interruptive messaging, pitches, calls, emails, and other communications in front of a prospect (regardless of whether they’ve asked for it), inbound marketing aims to pull prospects in by providing tailored, educational information based on behavior and preferences.

This method uses data and analytics to learn about and adapt to a prospect’s motivations, habits, interests, and activity. That analysis is used to tailor content and messaging in a way that will resonate with your prospects and compel them to take a desired action. In this way, inbound marketing improves the customer experience, creates brand credibility and builds trust. This, in turn, fosters interest, engagement, and consideration.

Where Does Content Fit In?

Content is a big part of inbound marketing. Producing high-quality content that resonates with your target buyers, solves their biggest pain points, and gets in front of them buyers at the right place and time is integral to effective inbound marketing.

Your audience often views your blog as the heartbeat of your company, making it a way to earn the trust of your audience. We’ve talked before about the importance of “being human” in your content as well as the key ingredients to successfully connecting with your core audience in a meaningful way. In the digital era, content needs to be personable, as it’s often a stand-in for face-to-face interaction. Think of it this way:

Jack is in Industry X. There are 15 important networking events in Industry X each year, but Jack only attends one. When he shows up, he is sloppily dressed, in jeans and a t-shirt. The first person he talks to asks about what he does. He provides a brief, muddled response that is confusing and full of pre-packed industry jargon. The second person he talks to gets a completely different explanation about what Jack does. Jack goes home with no business cards.

Your content is Jack. If you are only blogging once a year (or even once every several months) and your messaging is incoherent or lacks unity, people will be confused. They certainly won’t be compelled to further interact with your content or your site. More than anything, they have questions and problems they’re hoping you can answer and solve. Don’t be Jack. Be prepared to answer and solve your audience’s most pressing and painful issues in a cohesive, meaningful, and engaging way….using content.

So What’s The Connection Between Inbound Marketing, Content, and Sales?

It’s pretty simple: content feeds the inbound marketing machine by presenting compelling, interesting, engaging, and well-packaged information to your audience. That audience responds to that content by continuing to engage with your business. The inbound marketing wheel keeps turning and facilitating smarter communication and interaction when that audience willingly provides additional information.

Then, there is sales.

The traditional divide between sales and marketing can be overcome with the sharing of content. At the end of the day, marketing and sales are aligned on one foundational goal: growing the business. Ensuring that both sides work together is critical in achieving that goal, and content can bridge that gap.

When the marketing department produces quality content for inbound marketing efforts, that content can be leveraged by the sales team in their efforts as well. Not to mention, inbound marketing leads that have consumed helpful content and feel a connection to your business are more apt to have a meaningful conversation with the sales team.

To take it to the next level, sales can – and should – be a part of the content creation process. Sales knows better than anyone the core objections and challenges of your audience base. Those should be relayed to the marketing team, who can then create tailored content around those issues.

The bottom line is that sales and marketing should couple their efforts, share information, and work as a team. The sharing of content and information can make the goals of both departments more achievable. Open lines of communications between both teams are essential for success here.

If inbound marketing does a great job of charming your audience with your vision and your story, the sales team has an easier job of convincing that audience that your business is the right fit for their needs. It can shorten sales cycles and help people make purchasing decisions more easily. The sale then becomes a natural progression that happens seamlessly.

The original version of this article appeared on the Content Rewired Blog.

28 Apr 16:44

5 Ways to Take Your Business to the Next Level

by Joel Goldstein

thgmueller / Pixabay

Regardless of how long you’ve been in business, grim statistics from Forbes and the SBA may be echoing somewhere in the back of your head. We know that 9 out of 10 business fail – and nobody wants to be a part of the losing team. As intimidating as it may seem, if you’re consistent in the way you manage and recruit customers, success is much easier to achieve.

Let’s cover 5 key steps to take your startup to the next level.

1. It’s Chess, Not Checkers

Operating and advancing a business is a strategist’s game. Laboring over a business plan and endless charts and spreadsheets covering market estimations is only the beginning. Customer acquisition is an ongoing process that’s never etched in stone. With constant societal shifts and endless technological advancements, you must be prepared to stay on your toes.

Strategize winning processes to provide top-notch service and attract great customers.

Often times, the key customers you seek are hidden in plain sight. They’re tucked between trending topics, online surfing patterns, and their friends’ spending habits. It’s your job to use these mountains of facts and figures to smoke out buyers and prospects with the most potential.

2. Study Your Customer

Creating a Customer Profile based on projected demographics carried you through the launch. Be sure to review your current customer base, to make sure you’re always on target. Evaluate which sources are sending you the most traffic. Consider the advertisements and promotions that spark the greatest response. Which products/services are performing best? What price point seems most appealing?

Not every customer is right for every business. Similarly, not every business is right for every customer. Make sure it’s a good fit for both parties.

Studying your customers also means taking feedback into consideration. Use reviews to see what you’re doing right – and to pinpoint areas of improvement. Don’t become so attached to a single strategy, product, or delivery method that you miss out on a prime opportunity to let your customer base guide you in a profitable direction.

3. Snoop Around

Everything you offer must be tailored to meet your customers’ needs. This includes being aware of what your competition is doing. You can use virtual tools to discover the keywords competitors use market to your audience. Monitor social media interactions and reviews on comparable products.

Know thy customers and their challenges.

Who is your target turning to when they need their problems solved? What solutions are available and how can you improve your product to be even more effective?

4. Keep Creating

Stay ahead of the curve by putting your innovation to the test. Even if your product, service, marketing strategy, packaging, etc. is performing well – it can always be better. Use customer research to anticipate future needs. Place yourself in your target’s shoes to create new ways to help solve a problem or make life easier for them.

When we stop creating, we fail.

How can you upgrade your inventory to show that your company is a progressive solution and a leading expert in your industry?

5. Technology Is Your Friend

It doesn’t matter what you’re offering, or who you’re targeting to make the sale, how you use technology directly impacts the success of your business. From sales to market research, technology saves everyone involved tons of time and money.

Interactive websites, cart savers, automated referrals, email lists, online subscriptions, keyword research, social media promotions, accounting, applications in Google Play and the App Store – you need to apply as many relevant technological based tools as possible. This optimizes the way your business is managed and casts a wide net to capture those highly desired key customers.

Your users’ experience may leave them with a lasting impression of your business.

Technology creates a seamless customer experience. It makes it possible use past interactions as the premise for future exchanges. If you’ve used social media to attract your first 100 or 1,000 customers, then you know where your audience can be found. Target friends of friends and prospective customers based on optimized results. Technology is the skeleton key that multiplies conversions.

Overall, your objective is to create a memorable customer experience. Never underestimate the value of organic sales. As you grow, you must present a business that is unquestionably committed to your customer. Loyalty is the premise for expansion. To create a successful strategy, you must present a business capable of catching, retaining, and nurturing your audience’s attention.

With so many variables to consider, perfecting this strategy can seem like a tall order. With the help of a marketing campaign manager, you’ll learn how to streamline proven advertising techniques to increase your reach – both on and off the web.

It’s important to raise awareness around your product, as well as your brand. As you build a reputation for offering the best quality products with relevant solutions to your target’s needs, those “key customers” will be attracted to you like a moth to a flame.

28 Apr 16:37

Innovative IoT Startups to Keep an Eye On – 2018

by Yash Mehta

The Internet of Things or IoT is set to be the next revolution in the technology space. IoT is simply about connecting objects via the internet. As simple as it may seem, most believe that this will have a disrupting effect in the world. While the number of IoT startups are about 3000 as per a ReadWrite article, the number as per angel.co stands at about 4500. These numbers alone prove the disruptive potential IoT is believed to have.

With an estimation of IoT market value to reach $9 trillion and with 21 billion devices estimated to be connected by 2020, a large chunk of the market share is likely to be held by startups around the globe. This could also mean that the existing tech monopoly by few players like Facebook, Google, Intel, IBM would see their market share diminish.

IoT’s invasive nature is what makes it disruptive. From agriculture to aerospace, IoT based application has found its way into every conceivable field. Of course, it is simply impossible to list every IoT based startups, hence, following is the list of few startups around the world that are doing something truly unique and innovative:

Hiber

Founded in 2016, Hiber is a Dutch startup with an ambitious aim to set up a Low Power Global Area Network (LPGAN), LEO satellite constellation, to provide global connectivity to sensors and IoT devices. Hiber’s services include a modem which connects to the devices and transmits data to one of their satellites which in turn delivers it to a ground station to be uploaded to cloud. They have partnered with ESA, TU Delft, Netherlands Space Office and last year it entered in a MoU with Iridium Communications, US-based satellite communications provider.

Hiber has scheduled for a piggyback launch of two Nanosatellites in 2018 with PSLV of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and Falcon series of SpaceX.

Discovery

Discovery is an Indian startup that seeks to offer a comprehensive communications network for IoT products, through the use of blockchain technology. Looking to address a whopping $1 trillion market, Discovery is ambitious in its scope. The Discovery ecosystem is set to be launched in a phased manner from 2020 through 2022, which comprises of revolutionary self-charging IoT tag and an IoT network powered through a blockless DAG protocol they named as ‘COMPASS’. Discovery being a decentralized but blockless and miner-less platform that allows 1 million transactions per second seems to be a promising competitor to the popular blockchain platforms like IOTA and Ethereum. Besides, for clients, the IoT tag priced at less than $0.10 would enable them to viably implement IoT into their low-value products, and increase revenue return through visibility. However, they also offer a role for the common smartphone users too. As per Discovery, the users can on average earn $200 for every GB they allow to be utilized for the IoT network. Currently, Discovery is prepping up for its investment rounds and ICO sale.

SkyBell

Based in the US, SkyBell offers a smart video doorbell that allows a user to see, hear and speak to visitors regardless of being away from home or not. SkyBell has already partnered with major companies like Honeywell and Amazon.

The doorbell sends live HD feed to the owner’s smartphone through a free app available in iOS and Android devices. Besides hD video, it has other features like a motion sensor, which alerts a user even if somebody does not press the doorbell and night vision, which lets the user see a visitor at night.

Valerann

Finalist in the 2017 MassChallenge Accelerator, Valerann is an Israeli startup that specializes in enhancing the safety of roads using a smart road system. Valerann utilizes wireless sensors, a communication system in an IoT network to provide drivers and road operators with real-time information of hazards, road traffic, weather and road conditions. Some sensors, as they call smart studs, can be installed on roads that can transmit information to a control center and it can also alert drivers as well. The complete functioning system is expected to be piloted by clients in 2018.

Drayson Technologies

Drayson Technologies is a UK based startup that has set up three business arms. Two of its businesses, Drayson health and Freevolt, utilizes IoT platform to provide healthcare solutions and scalable wireless charging solutions. Freevolt is a patented and patent-pending technology that harvests radio frequency energy of existing wireless and broadcast transmissions to power low energy IoT sensors. Through RF harvesting and Inductive power transfer, Freevolt essentially takes away the need for cables and periodic battery replacement in IoT devices. Whereas, Drayson health has partnered with the University of Oxford and Nhs trust in developing clinical software products. Drayson Technologies has so far received a total investment of more than £40m.

Seebo

Seebo is an Israeli startup that aims to offer an IoT development platform for the industries. Seebo’s software provides tools for modeling, simulation and behavior analytics along with an IoT marketplace for sourcing resources from service providers. These tools are targeted to help manufacturers with IoT based product development. Behavior analytics component lets the user maximize the product value by giving insight on improvements for the IoT system.

Seebo has several customers including big names like P&G, Stanley, Decathlon. It has received a total funding of $22m with a series A investment in November 2017.

27 Apr 20:05

How to Develop Greater Influence in the Sales Process by Being a Go Giver Influencer, with Bob Burg – Episode #107

What sales professional in their right mind would NOT like to have greater influence over buyers during the sales process? It’s an ability we all need to have. But greater influence comes at a cost, and it’s a cost that’s not typically about sales techniques or approaches. It's one you pay by doing the hard work to become a better person yourself. In this conversation, Anthony and his good friend, Bob Burg chat about why the characteristics Bob outlines in his book, “The Go-Giver Influencer” are really character traits and have to be genuinely birthed in the heart of a person before they can be capable of having greater influence in any area of life. It’s a great conversation between two sales professionals who are great friends. Be sure to listen to this episode of In The Arena. How to develop greater #influence in the #sales process by being a go-giver #influencer, with @BobBurg, on Episode 108 of #InTheArena with @iannarinoClick To Tweet Great influencers attract people, to themselves first and their ideas second Greater influence comes from becoming a better version of yourself. Bob Burg explains that people are first attracted to you, the person they are involved with before they ever become interested in your ideas or solutions. The real power of influence comes when you are thinking about how you can benefit the other person, and that’s a mindset we have to develop as part of our character. You have to care about their needs and be genuinely focused on building everyone who is involved in the process, not just your sales accounts. Bob’s insights into these kinds of things are one of the reasons he’s made 4 appearances on this podcast, so take the time to find out why he’s considered to be a leader in the industry. Great negotiation requires collaboration that brings about better options for everyone When you think about a sales negotiation you likely think of the need to come to a place of compromise that everyone involved can live with. But Bob Burg says that compromise means everyone gives up something and nobody winds up happy. Instead, he believes the salesperson needs to become a master at collaboration, coming into the situation with a view toward everyone receiving something even greater than they have in mind. When you can approach a sales negotiation with that kind of optimism and a commitment to making it a win for everyone, you’ll be the one everyone involved remembers when it comes time for another deal. Great #sales #negotiation requires #collaboration that brings about better options for everyone. Don’t resign yourself to the losing scenario of compromise. @BobBurg explains how to win at sales on this episode of #InTheArena with @IannarinoClick To Tweet Greater influence comes from stepping into the other person’s shoes It’s a tired old phrase but nevertheless true, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” When you as a salesperson are able to step into another person’s shoes in a way that enables you to understand their true needs, you have the opportunity to influence them in a way nobody else can. Compassion goes a long way in establishing the trust necessary to consummate a sales relationship. In this episode, Bob Burg explains what it means to have compassion as a sales professional and how learning to listen “with the back of your neck” enables you to truly care for your buyers and close more deals. Your expectations about an interaction change you and influence the interaction as a result If you walk into a meeting expecting others to be disagreeable, contentious, or rude you will have set your own attitude in a negative direction and will influence the meeting negatively as a result, without ever meaning to do it. But if you set your expectations differently, on purpose, and go into the room with a broad smile and a belief that the people on the other side of the conversation really do want the help you provide and are eager to receive it,
27 Apr 20:04

The Anatomy of a Close

by Grant Cardone

Did you know that in 1955 Albert Einstein died in his sleep, and hours later they cut out his brain? But why? They wanted details, like, what was different in his brain compared to the average brain? After all, you can’t figure out how things work without some study!

I’m sure what the researchers found was of value, but today I have something even more valuable to you. Let’s get into the MIND of a closer.

Here’s what’s going on inside my brain during a sale:

Here’s the situation...

A customer was objecting to signing a deal because he wanted $100 off.

Grant: You’re talking about a $100, you need to worry about a million dollars. We don’t have any more money to give you. You’re going to spend $30,000 over the next 3 years. $100 doesn’t change it one way or the other.

Ok, I’m going to ask you a question now, alright? There’s one answer. Yay or nay? Yes or no?

If $100 is the decision maker, don’t do it. Because if you’re interested in $100 you need to go find a street corner to beg on.

Customer: That is true.

Grant: Yay or nay?

Customer: Let’s do it.

 

I want to walk you through the process of creating a close...

The next time you have a pitch or sales presentation, it might be valuable to take a page from my playbook.

While not word for word, the above video was a combination of the Reduce to Ridiculous close and the Done Everything Possible close found in my Closer’s Survival Guide HERE.

REDUCE bring someone or something to a lower or weaker state, condition, or role. In this case to make an objection smaller or less important.

TIP: Always reduce objections to smaller numbers. The buyer always focuses on big numbers and you should not! Once a buyer makes a decision, he almost always makes it go right. And when buyers are done buying something from you, they always spend more money with someone else. Your job is to justify and make sense of the figures so the buyer can say yes.

(Notice in the video above how ridiculous I make the $100. He was objecting to $100 in a large deal, so I made the small number that he was objecting to seem ridiculous—which it was.)

(Notice in the video above I told him there is no more money for me to give him. I did all  I could, now it was on him to make a decision.)

I have over 100 closes in my Closer’s Survival Guide. Start practicing with my material and watch your income skyrocket.  Listen to it, use it, drill with it, practice and rehearse it.

Yay or nay?

Be great,

GC

Grant Cardone is a New York Times bestselling author, the #1 sales trainer in the world, and an internationally renowned speaker on leadership, real estate investing, entrepreneurship, social media, and finance. His 5 privately held companies have annual revenues exceeding $100 million. Forbes named Mr. Cardone #1 of the "25 Marketing Influencers to Watch in 2017". Grant’s straight-shooting viewpoints on the economy, the middle class, and business have made him a valuable resource for media seeking commentary and insights on real topics that matter. He regularly appears on Fox News, Fox Business, CNBC, and MSNBC, and writes for Forbes, Success Magazine, Business Insider, Entrepreneur.com, and the Huffington Post. He urges his followers and clients to make success their duty, responsibility, and obligation. He currently resides in South Florida with his wife and two daughters.

 

27 Apr 20:03

Sales Resume Examples from Successful HubSpot Representatives

by Meg Prater

Putting together a resume is never a fun task. What’s the latest protocol? What buzzwords should you include? How will you set yourself apart? It’s not easy, especially when you’re putting one together for the first time. What’s relevant? And how can you spin that frozen yogurt job into a noteworthy experience?

Luckily, sales is a job in which diverse work backgrounds are welcomed and useful. Your career behind the frozen yogurt counter becomes a customer relations job. You helped eager buyers make quick decisions and, hopefully, upsold them with extra toppings or a bigger size.

→ Download Now: 12 Resume Templates [Free Download]

When it comes to prepping your resume for a job in sales, all experience is welcomed. But how do you get started with writing a good one?

We got you covered. This guide will show you:

  • Sales representatives with resumes that landed them jobs.
  • Sales representative job descriptions on resumes.
  • How to write your sales representative resume to get the interview.
  • Expert hints and examples to increase your chances of landing sales representative jobs.

Sales Resume Objective

Start your resume for a sales representative with a summary or career objective. Then add experience and education. Draw the recruiters in by using this formula from Resume Lab.

Sales Rep Resume Objective

  1. An objective
  2. Job title
  3. Years of experience
  4. What you can offer and how it will help
  5. Your biggest achievement

And as for what else sets you apart? I asked HubSpot reps and recruiters for the resumes they used to get hired and the advice for others hoping to land a gig in sales. Here’s what they had to say.

When it comes to creating a resume, providing value rather than crafting a long list of duties is important.

“Highlight promotions and career progression, and always include numbers (metrics, quota attainment, business impact, territory expansion, etc.).” The bottom line? When in doubt, add numbers, says Devon Brown, Director, Global Executive Recruiting at HubSpot.

When crafting your resume, make sure the skills listed in the resume align with the sales position and the company’s goals.

Here are some top skills to help your sales resume stand out:

1. Knowledge of Software

Highlight your sales experience with software programs, whether or not the company you are applying for uses that software. Proficiency in programs can show that you can learn various techniques fast.

2. Listening

Salespeople who are active listeners comprehend how to approach customers. If customers feel understood by a sales representative, it can increase their chances of making a purchase.

3. Verbal Communication

Verbal communication involves effectively sending messages to customers in a way they can easily understand. As a salesperson, landing sales and securing deals begins by engaging conversations with potential customers.

4. Goal Setting

Setting goals is a way for salespeople to track their success and it also shows a keenness to grow within their company. Being intentional in goal setting shows you recognize how your work influences your employer.

5. Organization

Managing several accounts reflects the organizational skills of a salesperson. Your ability to swiftly find and share information with clients can make the difference between landing a sale and losing not only leads but customers.

6. Time Management

It’s important to be mindful of how your work is distributed and being efficient with how that time is spent is an invaluable skill.

7. Strategic Thinking

Strategic thinking helps salespeople create strategies that will help their customers achieve their goals. This skill can also help you create a customized approach for individual customers.

8. Demonstration Skills

As a sales representative, you may be required to show how a product operates. Showcasing your demonstration skills involves creating a presentation, understanding the details of a product, and showing how that product can be beneficial to the customer.

9. Leadership

Having highly devoted leadership skills are helpful in the sales industry, especially if you want to be a team player. Companies often hire people who show leadership potential and can take initiative.

10. Motivation

Companies seek out highly motivated salespeople to find clients to help grow their business. Salespeople that are driven building strong relationships with clients that lead to more revenue for their employers.

11. Growth-Mindset

An essential skill in the sales profession is having a growth mindset. Embracing this kind of mindset leads to several opportunities for salespeople to develop new skills.

12. Initiative

Salespeople must possess the ability to independently cultivate plans and follow leads. They actively seek out prospects and can craft innovative sales techniques.

13. Flexibility

Adaption is extremely important in the sales industry. Salespeople have to react to situations as they happen. This requires both flexibility and being ready to modify a plan immediately.

14. Persuasion

In sales, convincing potential customers of your viewpoint helps land sales. Persuasive tactics help salespeople deal with clients that may need extra coaxing before buying

15. Cold Calling

Businesses use cold calling to contact potential customers. Affluent cold calling skills make sales candidates appealing for jobs.

16. Customer Retention

A business does everything to make sure they can maintain its customers. Sales representatives who are highly skilled in using strategies to persuade customers to make repeat purchases should highlight their customer retention skills on their resumes.

17. Networking

Creating and maintaining relationships helps companies expand their network to build strong connections. Showcasing this skill will make you an invaluable addition to the team.

18. Researching

Employers gravitate toward job seekers with research ways to improve their company’s sales process. Not to mention, good research skills can help you find information on your prospects to use during a sale.

19. Data Analysis

Creating a data-driven sales process helps salespeople decide on the most profitable techniques.

20. Territory Management

Companies take their time when selecting territories for their salespeople to engage with various markets. For salespeople who want to become team leaders, territory management is an important skill to increase their job duties.

21. Objection Management

Salespeople are tasked with solving various problems that may be reasons a customer decided not to buy a product or service. This skill identifies you as a qualified candidate.

22. Customer Relationship Management

Customer relationship management, or CRM, involves your ability to guide a customer throughout the sales process. Success in CRM closes deals and has the potential for customers to make repeated purchases.

23. Sales Pitch Development

Creating a good sales pitch is a skill that leans on the quality of its imaginative approach. The more skilled you are in persuading customers to purchase items, the more valuable you will be to companies.

Sales Resume Examples

Appealing descriptions, selecting job-specific keywords, and the ability to explain how to use tools are all things that can make resumes grab the attention of recruiters. Here are some examples of resumes that go beyond explaining their job duties.

1. Caroline Atwood, Inbound Sales Coordinator, HubSpot Cambridge

Highlight Your Strengths

Atwood wanted to turn her background in education into a lucrative career in sales. To position herself positively to potential employers, she highlighted transferable skills from her previous positions.

She says, “I created this resume for HubSpot when I switched industries from outdoor and environmental education to sales. I wanted to condense my hydrology fieldwork in Massachusetts and my teaching in coastal Alaska into relevant skills I could use to pitch myself as a salesperson."

What We Like:

Instead of viewing her non-sales background as a weakness, Atwood used it to strengthen her resume. "I wanted to represent myself as a multidimensional and curious person who enjoys learning about the world and connecting with others – a crucial part of the sales profession.” HubSpot felt the same.

Sales resume example from Caroline E. Atwood highlighting strengths and experience

Sales resume example from Caroline E. Atwood highlighting strengths and experience

2. Chris Moore, Channel Account Manager, HubSpot Cambridge

Demonstrate Your Skills

Moore already had impressive sales and business experience, but he wanted to put in extra effort to set himself apart. He says, “I recommend doing something that stands out – like I did here. My resume is straightforward, but the delivery is different than most others. My website is a conversation starter and the gateway to my resume."

What we like:

By building his own website, Moore demonstrated his willingness and ability to overachieve. He was also able to customize the site with a personalized headline and message to his hiring manager.

He explains, "It showed HubSpot I'd put in the time to be noticed and stand out. There are so many free services available to make one-page sites like these."

Moore isn't the only one who sees the value of creating a website. He says, "I’ve even done it for several of my friends, and they’ve all been hired by one of the first two companies they interviewed with. I’m sure most of it was because they were highly qualified for the position, but some of it must have been because of the presentation, right?”

Sales resume example from Christoper A. Moore highlighting strengths and experience.

Sales resume example from Christoper A. Moore highlighting strengths and experience.

3. Paul Rios, Manager, International Sales and Strategy, HubSpot Cambridge

Quantify Your Successes

Rios is a longtime HubSpotter who has successfully shifted roles within the company several times. He says, "Quantify everything. Sales – unlike many other jobs – is black and white. Vague sales resumes are a red flag for me. If you are an over-performer, this is your chance to showcase your accomplishments."

What we like:

Rios also recommends having several different resumes on deck. “It's alright to have three or four different versions of your resume, each targeted at different companies or positions. For example, I have extensive direct and channel sales experience. If I were to apply to a new role, I'd highlight more strongly and/or reorder my bullets so my most relevant experience jumps out."

Sales resume example from Paul Octavio Rios highlighting strengths and experience.

Sales resume example from Paul Octavio Rios highlighting strengths and experience.

Job Hunt Pep Talks From Sales Pros

Entry Level Tips

No matter how long someone has been in sales, everyone has to start somewhere. For salespeople just starting out, Kelsey Freedman, sales recruiter, HubSpot Cambridge gives this advice: “For an entry-level resume, consider the characteristics and skills needed for a sales role. For example, hiring teams often look for someone competitive. Always include experiences you've had in a competitive environment.”

Also, don't shy away from using school or athletic goals as proof of your drive. She says, “Another example would be to explain a time you accomplished a goal. The hiring team wants to see you’re motivated by goals and can actually accomplish them, even if that means overcoming failure at times."

In the end, it's all about hard work and framing. "Ultimately, we want to see you're passionate and eager to generate revenue for the business. Even if it's a job at a retail store, you should phrase your responsibilities in a way that most closely relates to a sales position."

Resume Magic

Former HubSpotter, Mary Burbridge, offers this advice: Is your resume built of buzzwords? Mary recommends including plenty of data to back up your claims. “Always include metrics that indicate a track record of success. If you were an over performer, by what percentage? If you had the highest MRR recorded all year, how much?”

Kelsey Freedman also warns a resume can get too data-driven. She says, “Buzzwords can be detrimental, but when it comes to a resume, recruiters and hiring managers like to see them!"

So what buzzwords does this recruiter most like to see from candidates? "Words like 'quota,' 'attainment,' 'closing,' 'negotiation,' and 'cold-calling' catch the hiring team's eye,” Freeman says. But don't think you can leave those numbers out entirely. She explains, "Don't be afraid to add numbers in there, either. The hiring team wants to know how you performed in previous roles. So, why not include it in your resume?"

LinkedIn Best Practices

Who better to learn from than sought-after career mentor and HubSpot Executive, Dan Tyre? He doesn't beat around the bush, saying, “Spend five times more effort on your LinkedIn profile than on your resume. And limit your resume to no more than two pages long. Oh, and if you have a Hotmail or AOL email address, don’t blame me if you don’t get the job.”

Trust the Process

Applying for a sales job should take time, but it shouldn’t cause you stress. Do the work, put in the effort to customize your resume for the sales job and company you’re applying to, and heed the advice provided above to submit a resume that employers can’t overlook. Good luck!

Editor's note: This post was originally published in April 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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27 Apr 20:03

The Internet of Sales: How the IoT Revolution Will Change the Way You Sell

by Nathan Sykes

mohamed_hassan / Pixabay

We’re seeing a remarkable transformation in sales, not only as a forward leap into the modern age but also as a major shift in customer and business relationships. Smart, connected products — known in the corporate world as the Internet of Things (IoT) — are creating many new opportunities and fresh experiences. We’re at the beginning of an IoT revolution, even in the world of sales.

Surprisingly, 87 percent of buyers have never heard the term Internet of Things, which is simply a phrase for connected or smart devices. That doesn’t change its immense popularity, however.

The market is growing so rapidly, that Intel predicts there will be 200 billion IoT and connected devices by 2020. It’s changing the current state of the industry and market, in a multitude of ways.

The Consumer Environment Has Changed

To understand what’s changed in sales, you have to compare the current state of the market to more traditional engagements.

The sales process of the past:

  • Marketing and sales teams interacted with customers up until the point of sale
  • A product or service was purchased; the relationship moved beyond those surface teams
  • Only if the customer returned to purchase another product would sales and marketing professionals get another series of interactions

With traditional products and goods, the customer gets their hands on the item and that’s it. You’ve accomplished your primary goal, not to mention made a customer happy.

That’s not how things work anymore, though — namely because of connected devices.

In fact, most modern products work as more of a service, offering various functions and additional features through an active subscription. Smart security cameras, for instance, may offer a cloud storage service that allows customers to store and access their visual content at a later date.

New products essentially become sensors or reporting mechanisms for future relationships and interactions with a customer. Companies — including sales and marketing teams — stay in direct touch with each customer throughout their ownership experience.

What Constant Connectivity Means

This constant customer connectivity broadens the nature of insights, allowing teams to see how consumers are using a product, how often they rely on it and which features are neglected.

This can be rolled into future campaigns and product developments to improve various factors. An upgraded model, for instance, can help improve segmentation, with more granular features and reasonable pricing.

In this way, brands and organizations can use existing, in-field products to learn more about their audience and further perfect future campaigns.

IDC claims a whopping 60 percent of global manufacturers will use data and analytics recorded from connected products or devices to analyze processes and use the info to identify optimization possibilities.

The question, then, is why sales and marketing teams cannot do the same? They can, and it won’t be long before modern tools and analytics platforms integrate this support.

How Does This Affect Traditional Sales Roles?

Connected technologies and products allow for opportunities after the initial sale that weren’t there before. Brands can now deliver upgrades, service additions and even new features throughout the life of a product; dramatically changing the way modern sales and customer interactions happen.

This explains why McKinsey Global Institute has predicted IoT will have a total economic impact of $11 trillion by 2025. That includes the various and additional revenue-stream opportunities made possible through active services and product upgrades.

This shift in how business is handled and provides services also opens up opportunities in the sales world. For starters, you have a variety of new opportunities in regards to billing and pricing models. On top of choosing various tiered pricing opportunities for the actual product, you have additional plans for subscriptions, upgrade services and more. Your overall value proposition has changed considerably. You now need to be able to discern pricing plans for every feature and streaming opportunity your team plans to offer.

The introduction of smarter, more connected devices also means more robust insights. In fact, depending on the product or service, you most likely will gain access to real-time market insights for active consumers and usage scenarios. This means you can see what’s happening when it’s happening, even after a customer has a product in their home.

New Technologies, New Opportunities

As for direct sales opportunities, you now have the option to deliver immersive product demonstrations and even remote experiences. By deploying augmented or virtual reality equipment, you can provide customers with an at-scale, custom demonstration of a product or service in action.

You’d be forgiven for thinking this panders to a niche audience, which may have been true at one time, but that’s no longer the case.

Now, nearly every smartphone on the market is capable of displaying and interacting with AR and VR content. You don’t always need a headset or virtual reality setup to make this happen, either.

Both B2B and B2C brands have taken advantage of the technology and made it work for them.

Resupply and follow-up opportunities become so much more reliable, as well. With traditional products, you may reach out to a customer with the hopes they’ll upgrade to a new product or replace an inefficient one. It’s really a hit-or-miss scenario, as they may be willing to do so, or they may be in the market for an entirely separate product.

Now, thanks to active service opportunities, you have more chances to hook a customer and push them toward a service upgrade or new feature.

This is especially true if the product or service in question requires an active subscription. With any luck, this may even open up completely new and innovative revenue streams. Income that was never available to your business before.

Automated Purchase Orders

Another area of opportunity in regards to smart, connected devices is the automated functionality and features they offer. These devices are so advanced they may even handle the resupply or purchase orders for the customer.

Amazon’s Echo — powered by Alexa — can automatically reorder groceries and items, nearly as soon as they run out. The same scenario can leverage inventory delivery, replacement parts and even repair orders. In the business and retail worlds, it can even produce automatic vendor purchases for common items and supplies that have run out.

This changes both the B2C and B2B business worlds, eliminating the middleman or sales role that was traditionally necessary.

That doesn’t mean sales and marketing professionals will lose their current opportunities. Instead, it just opens up new avenues for which a business or organization can make additional revenue.

It’s About Modern Relationships

Sales, marketing and modern business opportunities are now more about the relationship between seller and customer. Never before have consumers had more power than they do today, thanks to the emergence of modern, connected technologies.

This doesn’t take away the power from the business world — it just shifts the focus.

Now, you need to be concerned with delivering active and engaging opportunities, including in sales. The real promise comes from the repeat and loyal business opportunities you can establish.

If you play your cards right, your relationship with the customer doesn’t have to end when the sale does. You can continue to have a relationship with them throughout the life of your product. This affords you new insights, new sales opportunities and a much larger revenue stream.

You could even claim that IoT lengthens the average product lifecycle if and when a device is provided smart, connected features and support. Longer, more robust relationships with consumers and businesses are what most sales teams are after anyway.

27 Apr 20:02

Cold email teardown session from Enterprise Rising

by steli@close.io (Steli Efti)

Want to write better cold emails? Watch this cold email teardown session I conducted at Enterprise Rising in April 2018. 

Enterprise rising is a conference for enterprise tech startups in the Midwest. In addition to speaking at the event, I also offered to review the outreach emails of a couple of startups that attended.

Here's the full recording of this session. Make sure to take notes, as you'll find that this format really helps to internalize many of the principles of writing effective cold emails.

And in case you want a more structured step-by-step guide to writing better cold emails, download a free copy of my book Cold Email Hacks.


Some actionable take-aways:

  • Make your cold email subject lines personable, as if you are writing a cold email to one other person. Avoid marketing speak or official sounding language. An example of this? "Seeking feedback for online learning platform" → "Curious about your feedback" or "I built something. Would love to hear your thoughts"
  • The worst subject lines are the ones that are written like generic ads
  • Keep your emails short, personable and engaging
  • Make sure your emails are well-formatted
  • Avoid apologizing for sending someone a cold email
  • Have a very concrete call-to-action (e.g. end your email with Are you available Thursday between 3-6pm?)
  • Turn your subject lines into questions to increase engagement when possible
  • Choose only ONE call-to-action per email, instead of offering people multiple choices
  • Always work social-proof elements into your cold emails. E.g. if you say "we work with companies in the Detroit area", then name some of the companies you've been working with. It's a simple way to instantly boost your credibility, and it can drastically increase your chances that a qualified prospect will respond to you
  • Keep the language of your email body copy simple. Avoid technical speak and industry jargon, unless you know for certain that's the same language your recipient uses when communicating with peers
  • Don't overwhelm a prospect with all the benefits you could potentially provide them with. Instead, think 80/20: What's the 20% of our solution that will give this prospect 80% of the value? Limit your emails to three value propositions at most.
  • Lead with the strongest social proof elements (don't bury them far down the email)
  • If your open rates are below 30%, you need to focus on improving your subject lines before anything else. BUT don't get gimmicky. You can trick prospects into opening your emails by writing misleading subject lines, but then when they realize that you've tricked them, it'll just alienate them and they will delete your email, or worse, forever remember your company name and think "yeah right, bunch of BS-artists..."
  • Get rid of unnecessary adjectives and buzzwords. Be straightforward and to the point.
  • If there is a major regulatory change coming up that affects your prospects (like is the case with GDPR now for many online companies), you can lead with that. For example, you can open your email with "Is your marketing team prepared for GDPR?"

Want more tips on writing better B2B cold emails? Get a free copy of my book Cold Email Hacks.

Download Cold Email Hacks

27 Apr 20:01

Navigating the Customer Buyway [Infographic]

by Dave Sutton

As marketers and salespeople, we all love the moment when we close the deal. It’s exciting. It’s energizing. It marks a point of completion for what may have been a lengthy and difficult process.

That said, the actual booking of a sale or completion of a transaction tells you very little about the health of your business or the effectiveness of your marketing.

Think about it for a second. You closed the deal, the check is deposited in the bank, but the prospect was incredibly difficult and the journey from start to finish was frustrating. What has been gained? You might have ruffled a few feathers and generated some ill will on both sides. You may have planted a few seeds that will blossom into full-blown buyer’s remorse post-sale. Referrals and favorable reviews of the customer experience will be unlikely. In fact, you may have just created new detractors to your brand. Intuitively, we all know that you have to think about your customers as more than just monetary value, and to do that, it’s helpful to analyze the entirety of their experience with you and your brand.

The Customer BuyWay isn’t just about the moment in time when a customer decides to buy something, make payment, and complete the sale. It begins long before that, at the point that Google refers to as the Zero Moment of Truth. The ZMOT encompasses the moments before prospective customers even begin to think about a specific product or service, and long before they are even aware of your brand or your company. The BuyWay also has a long post-purchase tail. This tail is comprised of experiences of actual consumption or usage, as well as important events that can trigger repeat purchases, reviews and referrals, sustained loyalty and even brand advocacy.

What else should you know about the Customer BuyWay? This recent infographic from Salesforce gives a more detailed and sophisticated view of what’s going on in the mind of the customer as they encounter your brand story – and more importantly, how they experience it.

27 Apr 20:01

How Digital Transformation is Reshaping B2B Marketing

by Peter Buscemi

Digital marketing today is more than just a channel – it is actually a “digital transformation” which is reshaping the B2B marketing landscape. Because the B2B world is both inter and intra-connected, it requires an omni-channel strategy based on a cradle-to-grave paradigm. The successful B2B marketers will leverage this digital transformation for competitive advantage.

Digital transformation is much bigger than marketing as it encompasses the entire organization. However, how this transformation plays out varies by organization — in some cases digital requires a significant modification and in other cases an entirely new business model.

Digital Marketing – In the Beginning

When B2B companies began embracing digital, the primary focus was marketing (online marketing, PPC, email marketing, search engine marketing, social media marketing, etc.). Marketing was chartered with putting a “digital face” on customer-facing touch points but didn’t really have the charter to drive digital throughout the other functions of the organization. And, because most B2B marketing organizations lacked the internal skills, resources and people to develop and execute a cohesive and effective digital strategy, digital marketing was outsourced to external agencies.

In addition, many B2B digital marketing organizations built their website and then moved from this cornerstone. The problem though was that sometimes messaging and positioning was a fallout from the website build or facelift. Often the web team (that reported to corporate marketing) managed the front-end design, backend systems and content management systems – or it was outsourced. B2B marketers then added email marketing, marketing automation and social tools – the breeding ground for marketing automation and its evolution. Next, smartphones led the way to mobile apps and mobile app developers. With each new technology, a new group or silo was created and there was often fragmentation even within the marketing organization.

Digital Marketing – What it Takes Today

In a truly digital world, every resource aligned with a business outcome should be part of the digital plan — and that means sales, marketing, operations, services, support, etc. This requires cross-functional teams working in harmony to develop a digital experience to prospects and customers consistent with both the brand and value proposition.

The level of digital adoption varies by industry, geography, size of company, sophistication of the marketing team and other factors. Some B2B organizations have implemented digital marketing technologies and are using them effectively and some struggle as their efforts are not well thought out, are poorly implemented or not well supported. However, B2B organizations that truly integrate and internalize digital marketing are reaping significant returns including attracting, acquiring, onboarding, retaining, up-selling and expanding customers.

Digital Transformation Changes Marketing

Many marketing technologies (MarTech) today are focused on web, mobile web, mobile app PPC, email SEO and content. But digital transformation also includes new digital touch points and interfaces such as:

  • Web
  • Mobile
  • Beacon
  • Chatbots
  • Wearables
  • AR/VR glasses and headsets
  • Connected TVs with an explosion of OTT content and services
  • Connected cars
  • Digital out-of-home signage and digital kiosks
  • APIs as a digital interface
  • New point-of-sale experiences
  • 3D printing for digitally delivering physical items to prospects/customers

Digital Totally Changes the Scope of Marketing

Organizations need to make conscious decisions about the customer experience. This includes clearly defining which function in the organization owns which stage, if there is overlap, what the handoff points are, how to measure and manage the transition points and how to continuously improve. Typically the distribution model plays a large role in making this determination – for example, whether the organization sells online, through Inside Sales Reps or through a direct sales organization. The most innovative companies have created a position called the Chief Digital Officer (CDO) and this person usually reports into the CMO.

While digital transformation is a company initiative, marketing needs to play a major role by stepping up to help architect, direct and implement the digital transformation plan. The key is to focus all resources on the core of digital transformation – delivering an ultimate customer experience through coordinated digital touch points that are integrated and tailored to the organization’s value proposition.

As the digital transformation progresses, the entire organization will have to become “digital competent” as marketing will not be able to manage every touchpoint – nor should they be assigned this task. Marketing should serve as not only the brand steward but the digital steward (as digital is a subset of brand). Marketing must also help the organization effectively coordinate and manage digital touch points through a managed, repeatable process that delivers a meaningful and compelling customer experience at every stage of the customer life cycle.

Digital Marketing – Summing it All Up

Technology is finally at the point where it’s time to take a top down approach and think about strategy, structure, organization, systems and processes, in order to develop and deploy a compelling customer experience. It’s time to strategically think about what technology the organization needs, how the pieces and parts fit together and what the new charter for marketing needs to be to propel growth and profitability. Most importantly, these new technologies provide organizations the opportunity to create new or improved customer and prospect experiences that support and reinforce the brand.


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27 Apr 19:57

The 1-2-3-4 Content Strategy to Drive Leads From Instagram Marketing

by Catalin Zorzini

strategy-drive-leads-instagram

When I first signed up for Instagram, I had no clue how to use it. I just created an account and let it sit there for more than a year. I never thought I could use it to build an audience.

Then I came across a blog post describing how an online publication drove leads and built a multimillion-dollar business from Instagram.

Within a few months, I learned how they did it – and how I could replicate the strategy for my clients.

I’m going to explain, step by step, how you can gain leads and clients using Instagram, too. (Note: I don’t have any business relationship with Foundr Magazine, I just admire its Instagram success.)

1. Optimize your Instagram bio for lead generation

Instagram presents a huge problem for brands. It doesn’t let you add clickable links in post descriptions or comments the way other social networks do. You’re only allowed one link from the bio on your profile page.

Since you only get one, you need to use that bio link effectively. Plan these three elements carefully to create a compelling bio:

  • The content
  • The link
  • The profile image

The bio content or text is the most important element. You can drive a flood of leads with a relevant and enticing call to action like this one from an earlier version of Foundr’s profile (“Get Our Free Instagram Marketing 101 Issue!”).

foundr-magazine-profile

The bio link is also important. Instagram only allows you to add one clickable link, so you’ll want to optimize it to get the most clicks.


Optimize bio link, offer, and landing page to drive leads with #InstagramMarketing, says @zorzini.
Click To Tweet


In the example above, Foundr makes it clear they’re offering a free lead magnet. Try including the word “free” in your URL.

The profile image doesn’t necessarily play a major role. Still, it makes sense to brand your profile with a clear and attractive logo.

2. Create an Instagram-specific landing page

Another crucial element of Foundr Magazine’s strategy is to use a landing page optimized for Instagram traffic.

foundr-magazine-optimized-instagram

Notice how the lead magnet and landing page are laser-targeted to attract leads from Instagram? That explains why Foundr now has a whopping 1.2 million followers on Instagram.

foundr-instagram-followers

Foundr receives more than 10,000 opt-ins a month through its Instagram-specific landing page. Drip email campaigns nurture those visitors into paid subscribers.

To do this for your brand, you can easily set up a landing page like Foundr’s using a tool like Leadpages. (Paid version after free trial)


Use a tool like @Leadpages to create an #Instagram-specific landing page, says @zorzini. #tools
Click To Tweet


As for the drip email campaigns, you can use email marketing tools like MailChimp (free and paid versions) or Constant Contact. (Paid version after free trial)

3. Create and share great content

You might be surprised to learn that Foundr built the bulk of its follower base by sharing inspiring quotes for entrepreneurs and business owners (its target audience).

If you take a look at its Instagram profile, you can see that this is the most common content type.

foundr-instagram-profile-quotes

The Instagram platform is great for caption images; that’s why inspirational, motivational, and thought-provoking quotes work so well.


.@foundr magazine built 1 million+ #Instagram following with motivational quotes. @Zorzini shares how.
Click To Tweet


And quote posts are easy to put together. All you need are tools like Word Swag (free version), an app you can use to add text and fonts to free images. You can also use some of the more robust options like Canva. (Free and paid versions)

Feel-good content also performs well. You may have come across some of the Instagram videos from the nonprofit organization Shining Hope for Communities. These videos attract a lot of attention and engagement, simply because they make people feel good.

4. Engage and promote

The final step in engaging effectively with your audience is to post the right way.

Rather than going with the “post it and they will come” strategy, try one of these proven ways to drive engagement to your post:


Post it and they will come doesn’t work for #InstagramMarketing says @zorzini. Here’s what does. Read more…
Click To Tweet


Hashtags

Using the right hashtags (those relevant to your business or messages) can get you hits and “likes,” and even sales.

The free TagsforLikes app helps you find popular hashtags that can drive traffic and engagement.


The free @tagsforlikes app helps you find popular #Instagram hashtags that can drive traffic, says @zorzini.
Click To Tweet


Compelling calls to action

Clear calls to action can mean the difference between posts that get buried in feeds and posts that go viral. You need to add a mix of CTAs driving to your lead magnet opt-in, CTAs for engagement, and promotional CTAs.

Let’s take a look at some of the CTAs Foundr uses.

Lead-magnet CTA: This example shows how Foundr sends people to its lead magnet. Notice that it directs people back to the clickable link in its bio.

foundr-lead-magnet

CTA for engagement: In this example of an engagement CTA, notice how Foundr prompts users to double tap (gesture for like) the image if they agree with the quote. Simple, yet effective. The post had 3,762 “likes” as I wrote this article.

foundr-cta-example

Promotional CTA: Now let’s take a look at a CTA Foundr uses for promotional posts.

foundr-promotional-post-cta

Notice how it’s subtly trying to send visitors to the page for its new issue?

Contests

Contests and giveaways are a proven way to drive leads and followers. Contests can be organized for cash prizes or for free products. Online marketing veteran Neil Patel acquired 143,000 followers on Instagram using contests and giveaways.

Share for shares

Doing a share-for-share campaign is a super simple way to tap into the follower base of other brands on Instagram. You’d simply email a relevant brand and ask if it would like to do a share-for-a-share. If the brand’s team agrees, you share their posts first, and they’ll reciprocate.

A time-tested social strategy

An optimized bio, Instagram-specific landing page, motivational content, and engagement efforts can take you a long way in building a huge follower base on Instagram. As always, one of the best strategies to drive followers for your account is simply to build real relationships with influencers and communities.

Are you finding success on Instagram? What techniques work for you? Let me know in the comments.

Please note:  All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team.  No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).

What better place to build relationships with other content marketers than Content Marketing Word 2018. Register today and use code BLOG100 to save $100. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

The post The 1-2-3-4 Content Strategy to Drive Leads From Instagram Marketing appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.

27 Apr 19:56

Trending This Week: How to Connect with Leads

by Steve Kearns

Is it possible to talk about the best ways to reach out to leads too often? Given that refilling your pipeline with qualified, genuinely interested leads is one of the most important parts of sales, probably not. Even if you feel good about your lead gen practices, there’s value in reviewing your practices — a slight improvement can lead to massive returns, after all.

This week’s rundown of trending sales content includes an excellent guide on how to reach out to leads. You’ll also discover how to move your B2B sales online, get introduced to a new podcast, and more.

Here’s what sales pros are reading and sharing this week:

10 Steps for Effectively Reaching Out to B2B Leads

This list doesn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel, but it does offer a comprehensive look at lead generation. Not only does Johanna Rivard at PureB2B effectively cover ten important steps for reaching out to leads, she uses data, and wraps everything into a handy infographic.

Generating quality leads is hard, which is why salespeople are so hungry for content on the subject. This guide is a great resource on everything from creating a contact list to starting a conversation to keeping information organized. There is plenty to digest in the piece, and the entire read is worth your time.

Moving Your B2B Sales Model Online? Here’s What You Need to Consider

As Brian Green at Magento Commerce writes, B2B sales are moving online. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, given the rapid move to online sales for buyers of all kinds. In his piece, Green looks at how to break down some of the legacy sales systems that may be old fashioned in the digital age.

One key takeaway is to examine your current structure and see if processes or tech can be updated for an online sales model. Green looks at the importance of integrating transactions into your website itself. He also breaks down the importance of content and using SEO to drive users to your website.

3 Toughest B2B Sales Challenges for the Modern Salesperson

If you were asked to choose the three biggest challenges facing a B2B salesperson, what would you say? It’s hard to narrow it down to just three, right? On the ContactMonkey blog, Rubain Manzoor takes a crack at it, and comes up with these three challenges:

  1. Modern buyers do a lot of research.
  2. The number of options complicates the decision-making process.
  3. There are multiple decision makers in a sale.

The post walks through challenges these scenarios pose, as well as a solution to each.

Presenting the Brand New Sales Hacker Podcast — B2B Sales Insights Every Tuesday

Looking for new podcasts to listen to? Sales Hacker just released their weekly sales insights podcast, and it looks like it will be a great resource. Each episode, host Sam Jacobs speaks to a guest from the world of sales to talk strategy and break down what’s new in the industry.

The first three episodes are now live, and include these guests:

Study Finds 60% of B2B Buyers Question the Integrity of Sales Representatives

If you ever feel like a buyer is skeptical of you simply because you’re a salesperson, it may not be your imagination. ValueSelling Associates, Inc. released a report that says 60% of B2B buyers distrust sellers, and only 34% of buyers believe their sales rep is helpful throughout the process. The study dives into more details about how buyers prefer to be contacted, sales people’s industry knowledge, and more.

It’s a valuable look into how buyers think. While it can be discouraging to see that you have to overcome a trust issue from the beginning, it also presents an opportunity to be aware of buyers’ needs and provide legitimate value throughout the sales process.

Looking for more of the latest news and trends from the world of B2B sales? Subscribe to the LinkedIn Sales blog.