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07 Mar 16:48

Trump’s tariff threat and higher prices leave Canadian steel firms on edge

by Naomi Powell

As Canada’s major steel mills continue to press for an exemption from U.S. President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs on aluminum and steel, smaller firms in the industry are “on edge,” struggling to adapt to the volatile flow of information from south of the border.

Though Canada had hoped to secure an exemption for its steel industry, Trump appeared to rule that out on Twitter Monday, stating that the taxes would remain until Mexico and Canada agree to a “new & fair” North American Free Trade Agreement.

Linking the tariffs to the troubled Nafta talks is the latest escalation of the threat, which caught many in the industry by surprise.

“The big concern is how do you formulate a plan?” said Tony Kafato, president of Toronto-based Venture Steel, which processes carbon steel and aluminum for the auto industry and other customers. “You want to have a strategy and you want to be ready but it’s happening so quickly and so much depends on what format it takes. So obviously we’re on edge.”

The United States has provided no concrete detail on when the tariffs will take effect or whether they will apply to certain products or the entire steel and aluminum categories. That’s left Canadian firms in a “wait and see” mode, with some holding off on investments until the fog clears, said Demetrius Tsafaridis, whose Burlington firm CareGo sells steel storage and logistics technology to companies on both sides of the border.

While confidence among his Canadian customers is mixed, there has been a noticeable uptick in spending among U.S. producers following not just the tariffs but the introduction of an aggressive package of U.S. tax reforms that slashed business taxes to 21 per cent from 35 per cent, he said.

“Trump’s created a lot of chaos but all these things have definitely given the American companies the confidence to spend,” Tsafaridis said in an interview. “Whereas in Canada, certain people are investing and certain people are holding off.”

Kafato’s Venture Steel sells 60 per cent of its processed carbon steel and aluminum to the auto industry, employing 200 workers in Toronto, 20 workers in Buffalo and 35 workers in Monterrey, Mexico. The supply chain of his industry is so seamlessly integrated that no one within it considers steel produced in any of the NAFTA countries “foreign,” he says.

“Folks talk about imports and exports but if its made in Canada, the U.S.A. or Mexico, we tend to refer to it all as domestic metal,” he said. “When we talk about offshore imports we’re usually referring to imports from outside North America.”

Though the company is interested in growing within Canada, Kafato sees more opportunity in the U.S.

“There’s more upside and more growth in the market south of the border than there is in Canada right now,” Kafato said. “There are new car plants, new auto plants, assembly plants going into the U.S. There’s infrastructure spending. We haven’t seen a new automotive plant in Canada in I can’t remember how long.”

Despite Trump’s latest missives, Canada’s large integrated steelmakers are still working with government officials to put forward a case for exemption from the tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum imports, said Joe Galimberti, president of the Canadian Steel Producers Association. Each company in the association, which represents producers including Hamilton-based Stelco Holdings Inc. and ArcelorMittal Dofasco, is likely to be affected differently depending on their business models and links to the U.S. market, he said.

“I can tell you that tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum will certainly put Canadian producers at a competitive disadvantage,” Galimberti said.

The U.S. tariffs also raise concerns that foreign steel originally destined for the United States will be diverted to Canada, which could further damage the market if it’s sold at a discount, he added.

The affects of the tariffs could echo through long established supply chains in which raw materials and finished products criss-cross the border multiple times.

Each year, the Hamilton Port Authority ships out over 5 million tonnes of steel made at neighbouring Stelco and ArcelorMittal Dofasco and receives over $1 billion worth of raw materials for steelmaking such as iron ore and coal from the Ohio Valley. A 50 per cent drop in production at the two Hamilton mills would translate into a 2.25 million tonne decline in total volumes of 10 million tonnes at the port, said Ian Hamilton, president of the Hamilton Port Authority.

“This is a highly integrated industry,” he said. “So what we are hoping for is that common sense will prevail here.”

Benchmark prices for hot-rolled coil in the U.S. have already hit US$800 per tonne, up $215 since mid-October, marking a seven-year high, according to a research note from BMO Capital Markets. That’s pulling up prices in Canada too.

RJ Steel, a Windsor-based steel fabricator, is already struggling with price increases from suppliers. Between November and December prices shot up 5 per cent, causing problems for the manufacturer of railings and construction materials, said Ryan Jordan, the company’s president.

“It really complicates things when I’m quoting a job,” he said. “Now if I’m pricing something that won’t start for four months, I feel like I have to cushion myself in case prices go up again. And you know, sometimes that means I lose the job because 5 per cent or so can make all the difference.”

• Email: | Twitter: Naomi_Powell

07 Mar 16:48

How are pricing skills evolving? Join the survey!

by Steven Forth

Ibbaka has partnered with the leading skill management platform, TeamFit, to research the skills needed for pricing excellence.

 Please take the survey!

This survey is on the long side, and will take about 15 minutes to complete. We feel the subject is important enough for people passionate about pricing that it is worth the time. Hopefully, taking this survey will also spark some thoughts about your own work, challenges and opportunities.

Please share the survey with anyone in your network whose work touches on pricing!

This is part of a multi-faceted research project that includes this survey, a series of interviews, data scraping from various sources, and analysis through the TeamFit platform. The results will be presented at the Professional Pricing Society Spring Workshops and Conference in Chicago in May.

The results of this research will be of interest to

  • Pricing professionals interested in which skills they need to develop and where they will apply them
  • Pricing and marketing leaders who need to build teams and support skill growth
  • HR leaders who want to prepare their organizations for the new pricing and business challenges that are coming around the corner
  • Recruiters who need to know what skills to look for in pricing experts

You can get a feel for TeamFit by looking at my skill profile. Notice the pricing skills!

If you would like to be interviewed for this research, to share your thoughts on how pricing skills are evolving, please contact us at 


07 Mar 16:42

Drive More Sales Leads Online with a Proven Approach

by Steve Kearns

Even the best marketing teams go through lead-gen lulls. When they do, that’s when star sellers really shine. If lead shortages make you quake, reclaim peace of mind with the following advice for generating more of your own sales leads online.

Social Selling Offers a New Path to Leads Online

Before you start mourning the death of your long-trusted lead-generation tactics, take comfort knowing that 72.6% of sales reps outperform their peers when using social media as part of the sales process. In fact, they exceed quota 23% more often. Our own State of Sales 2017 report found that more than half of high performing sales pros credit social integration with helping them close more deals.

To join their ranks, adopt a strategic approach to making every online interaction count. As Tim Riesterer, Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer, Corporate Visions, says in the report: “Research shows B2B decision-makers count their interactions with salespeople as the major determinant of whom they choose – more than product quality, brand reputation and pricing combined.”

Success starts by boosting your online credibility, finding the right people to engage, and then engaging them insightfully.

Boost Your Credibility

The majority of B2B prospects start with online research, avoiding direct interaction with you in the process. Can you blame them for not wanting to put up with a potentially high-pressure situation when such a non-invasive alternative is available online?

That’s not to say you need to sit back and hope, or force yourself into the buyer’s process by any means necessary. The goal is to find an ideal situation to position yourself as a valuable resource and trusted advisor.

To impress the heck out of prospects on LinkedIn, build and boost your credibility by completing your profile, continually publishing and sharing relevant content, and adding to online discussions on top-of-mind topics. Kurt Shaver, Chief Sales Officer for Vengreso, has seen tremendous results using this approach.

Identify the Right People

With a growing number of influencers involved in B2B buying decisions, it can be tough to identify who to target and at what point in the buyer journey you should reach out. But it’s a must to factor in the entire buying committee so you don’t expose yourself and potential deals to risk.

Use LinkedIn to pinpoint the right people at your key accounts. By connecting with more than one person at an account, you get a more rounded and realistic view of the buying process and potential barriers to purchase. Plus, you’re better positioned to tailor your approach to the overall account and to each individual.

You can use LinkedIn’s Advanced Search to discover people with specific job titles, roles, skills and so forth within an account. Once Sales Navigator knows the types of connection you’re looking for, it will make relevant lead recommendations. It will show you decision-makers and influencers at the account that you might have missed, and flag potential buyers based on pre-established signals.

The more active you are in Sales Navigator, the more relevant your results will be. The tool learns from your past searches and automatically combs LinkedIn for lead recommendations that are relevant to your search criteria.

Engage Insightfully

Prospects expect sales pros to enlighten their path to purchase, yet most buyers don’t believe that sales reps understand their business well enough to do so. Today, engaging with relevant insight is often what earns potential buyers’ attention. Be the sales professional who brings value to the buyer’s journey, and you are 5x more likely to see that buyer engage with you.

Connect with your co-workers to expand your LinkedIn network, and then use the TeamLink feature in Sales Navigator to see how they are connected with the prospect’s organization. Identify colleagues in your organization who have worked with the decision-makers on your list, and ask for insight into those people’s interests and needs.

Think beyond the value your product or service offers. Instead, share information tailored to the needs of your matrixed connections at every stage of their purchase process. One of the best ways to engage is by monitoring for trigger events such as the following, which are opportunities to engage with relevance and deliver valuable insights:

  • Change in leadership
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Company announcements
  • News mentions
  • Market/product expansion

When it comes to finding and engaging buyers, there are no hidden secrets. But with the right approach, you can generate more leads online. For more ideas on how to get the most from LinkedIn and your sales efforts, download our eBook, Proven Strategies from the World’s Best Sales Professionals.

07 Mar 16:42

The CEO Next Door: The 4 Behaviors That Transform Ordinary People Into World-Class Leaders

by News

Based on an in-depth analysis of over 2,600 leaders drawn from a database of more than 17,000 CEOs and C-suite executives, as well 13,000 hours of interviews, and two decades of experience advising CEOs and executive boards, Elena L. Botelho and Kim R. Powell overturn the myths about what it takes to get to the top and succeed.

Their groundbreaking research was the featured cover story in the May-June 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review. It reveals the common attributes and counterintuitive choices that set apart successful CEOs—lessons that we can apply to our own careers.

Much of what we hear about who gets to the top, and how, is wrong. Those who become chief executives set their sights on the C-suite at an early age. In fact, over 70 percent of the CEOs didn’t have designs on the corner office until later in their careers. You must graduate from an elite college. In fact, only 7 percent of CEOs in the dataset are Ivy League graduates—and 8 percent didn't graduate from college at all. To become a CEO you need a flawless résumé. The reality: 45 percent of CEO candidates had at least one major career blowup.

What those who reach the top do share are four key behaviors that anyone can master: they are decisive; they are reliable, delivering what they promised when the promise it, without exception; they adapt boldly, and they engage with stakeholders without shying away from conflict.

Based on this breakthrough study of the most successful people in business, Botelho and Powell offer career advice for everyone who aspires to get ahead. Based on research insights illustrated by real life stories from CEOs and boardrooms, they tell us how to:

  • Fast-track our career by deploying the career catapults used by those who get to the top quickly.
  • Overcome the hidden handicaps to getting the job we want.
  • Avoid the 5 hazards that most commonly derail those promoted into a new role.

For everyone who aspires to rise up through the organization and achieve their full potential, The CEO Next Door is an essential guide.

The book is being released today by the Currency imprint, and the excerpt below, provided by the good people at Crown Publishing Group, discusses… 


Launching Your Career to the Top

Most CEOs don’t start out their careers with the goal of becoming a CEO. Nevertheless, we saw patterns emerge in the routes to the top.

Take “Christine,” a first-time CEO we recommended several years ago to run a health and wellness company. She went on to move the company from a crisis to profitability in fewer than twelve months.

Christine was the daughter of horse trainers and was brought up working seven days a week next to her boss, her dad. She worked full-time while in college and lived at home. Her résumé looks nothing like the typical Fortune 500 career path, adroitly described in a Forbes magazine article: “After graduation, grab a few years of related work experience before heading back to school for an MBA at a top university, and then follow that up with a stint at Bain or McKinsey. Finally, make the jump to the company you hope to lead one day, and be sure to get some operational experience and international exposure.”

Christine never received an MBA, never joined a management consulting firm, and was an external recruit when she became CEO. Yet her career story is right in line with an experiential trajectory that we identified across almost a thousand journeys to the CEO suite. On average, CEOs we have analyzed took twenty-four years to get from day one in their first job to the CEO role. There is no one-size-fits-all prescription. Each journey is unique. However, we have uncovered several common patterns on the way to the top that can help guide your choices.

CEOs’ careers are roughly divided into three stages. Each stage has a role to play in preparing one for the top. Many of the insights below are helpful to anyone looking for professional growth at any stage in one’s career, whether or not the C-suite is the ultimate goal.


Stage 1: Go broad (years 0 to 8). The position of CEO requires one to be the ultimate generalist. We see roots of that profile early in future CEOs’ career trajectories. They build a wide breadth of skills and experiences early on by moving across functions, industries, companies, and geographies. Making unconventional moves is both easiest and least risky at this stage.

For those starting out their careers in large companies, this diversity of early experiences often comes from rotational programs that offer new recruits opportunities to try their hand at different parts of the business. In professional services companies, working on projects solving different types of problems for clients across a wide range of industries delivers similar exposure. Small or startup companies also afford an opportunity to wear multiple hats at the same time. Some future CEOs accelerate their progress at this stage with an MBA—either a full- time program or part-time around a demanding work schedule. As for Christine, she started as a horse trainer, later taught financial literacy classes, and then shifted into corporate training before opening new retail stores for a fitness company.

No matter your starting point, the key priority guiding choices in this first stage is to maximize the breadth and pace of your learning, ideally in direct contact with role models for high professional standards. Much like early life experiences, early professional experiences form a powerful imprint that influences one’s views on what is possible. This makes it even more important to learn from a broad range of people, styles, and situations. This is also a time to build valuable foundational skills that will be harder to master later, particularly problem-solving, financial analysis, and oral and written communications skills.


Stage 2: Go deep (years 9 to 16). If stage 1 is about learning above all, stage 2 is about measurable results above all. Years 9 to 16 are typically spent building leadership ability, depth of industry experience, and a track record of results. The CEOs in our sample had on average 13 to 16 years of experience in the same industry as the company they were seeking to lead. In these years, future CEOs work toward general management roles that directly drive topline and/or bottom-line revenue or profits. That might mean running a P&L, or it might mean being a functional leader in sales, marketing, or operations. Most important, future CEOs are demonstrating that they can lead others to produce outsize measurable results. Over 90 percent of our CEOs had general management experience prior to becoming CEO. On average, CEOs have 11 years of general management experience under their belt before stepping into their first CEO role.

Christine eventually held a North American general management role, responsible for a $400 million portfolio of retail stores for a company within the fitness industry. According to Kaplan and Sørensen’s research on our data, divisional P&L roles are the most common stepping stone to CEO.

In this second stage, career stories of leaders who go on to become strong CEOs are peppered with examples such as: “I took the Southwest region from the worst performing to top quartile across the company” or “I turned marketing from a dusty department producing PowerPoint charts into a generator of 90 percent of new million-dollar leads in the company” or “I built the plant in Mexico in record time and on budget—unprecedented for our company.” Stage 2 is the time to show measurable impact and value as a result of your leadership.


Stage 3: Go high (years 17 to 24). Stage 3 is where we see careers of future CEOs take a dramatically different turn. While many will remain effective functional leaders, middle managers, or even P&L operators, future CEOs differentiate themselves as enterprise leaders. As enterprise leaders, they make decisions taking into account the context and impact on the entire business rather than confining their view only to their own area, and they impact results beyond their immediate scope of authority. At this stage, future CEOs impact success of the entire company.

By the time they finish this third stage, roughly 24 years into their career, future CEOs have typically held 8 to 11 positions, which translates to between 2 to 3 years of tenure per role. They also have been exposed to between 4 and 6 companies. When appointing CEOs, boards look for them to have roughly a ten-year runway in the role. Approximately three quarters of finalist candidates for CEO positions fall between the ages of 40 and 54, and only 5 percent are over 58 years old. Many cross the finish line into the CEO role through placement by executive recruiters. In our analysis of 91 midmarket first-time CEO hirings, 30 percent were sourced through recruiters, as was Christine.

More important, leaders start to look like future CEOs in this final period when they succeed in growing influence and demonstrating initiative beyond the formal authority of any given role. For example, a vice president might lead a company-wide initiative that requires him to influence peers and other senior players who don’t report to him. Christine, for example, initiated discussion about, advocated the business case for, and ultimately led the implementation of a company-wide ERP, the company’s largest investment for that year, which impacted every function and commercial team. This is also the time in which future CEOs expand their reach beyond the walls of their company. They build a brand within their industry, taking visible, conversation-defining positions on the driving questions of the day and communicating them through speaking opportunities, the media, and by convening other CEOs and leaders.


There are no ready-made maps to the top, especially for those in the first two stages of their career. No matter where you are today, the real takeaway is this: Don’t look at your career as a succession of jobs to land; instead, look at your decisions as a portfolio of experiences to build.

Excerpted from The CEO Next Door.
Published by in the United Stated by Currency,
an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Random House, LLC, New York.
Copyright 2018 by G.H. Smart & Company, Inc.
All rights reserved.



ELENA L. BOTELHO grew up in Azerbaijan and Russia in a family of mathematicians and earned her MBA from Wharton. She has advised more than 200 CEOs and boards over nearly two decades, first as a strategy consultant at McKinsey and currently as a partner at ghSMART and Yoda for CEOs.

KIM R. POWELL grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and earned a BA from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA from the Kellogg Schoool of Management . For nearly twenty years, Kim has applied her passion for helping people to her role as trusted advisor to CEOs and high-potential leaders, first at the Boston Consulting Group and now at ghSMART.

TAHL RAZ is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author.  

07 Mar 16:42

How Effective Sales Professionals Resolve Objections

by Richardson Sales Training

Every sales dialogue eventually leads to a customer objection. Therefore, sales professionals shouldn’t try to avoid them. Instead, they should sharpen their sales skills and come prepared to resolve objections.

The problem, however, is that different customers across various industries will have different objections.

The solution – a four-step model – applies to any sales objection because it’s built around a client-focused framework. Here, we look at the specifics behind of framework and how sales professionals can apply the concepts in any environment.

Engaging the Challenge Before the Solution

When encountering an objection, too often the natural impulse is to counter the customer’s statement. This urge comes from the ego. We feel compelled to stand our ground and assert our position.

Effective sales professionals work to silence this involuntary response.

Their first step: acknowledge the customer’s objection. This approach is critical in selling because research repeatedly shows that “listening is positively related to buyer’s trust in and satisfaction with the salesperson.”

This step is characterized by empathy for the customer’s objection. Begin by stating that you’ve heard the customer’s position. Doing so means more than just outwardly showing that you’ve heard their words with “scripted sincerity.” The sales professional must engage in active, empathetic listening that seeks to inhabit the customer’s perspective. Interestingly, research tells us that this is both “the single most important skill that salespeople can possess” and, at the same time, “one of the most important reasons that salespeople are unsuccessful.”

The strongest sales professionals understand the importance of listening. They genuinely think about what the customer has vocalized because they understand that reaching a close means navigating the objection.

Therefore, they need to understand exactly what the customer has said by asking the right clarifying questions.

Benefiting Both Sides of the Table by Clarifying Needs

The customer’s objection reveals only a fraction of the true, underlying need. The sales professional’s job is to question and go deeper.

This process is important for both sides of the table.

The sales professional needs the detail to eventually overcome the objection. At the same time, the customer needs to talk through the objection so they can arrive at a more defined description of the challenge. Questioning is diagnosing. It’s impossible to deliver a solution without a clear outline of the challenge.

These should not be leading questions. The sales professional should not attempt to push the customer down a path. Instead, questions help surface the details of the objection. Otherwise, they remain hidden and grow unchecked until they’re too big for even the best sales professional to handle. Most importantly, the answers to these questions guide the sales professional towards the sale.

Even highly experienced sales professionals will find that some business challenges are prohibitively complex. They will not have all the answers. However, when they ask questions, the task of overcoming the objection becomes a team effort.

Drawing a Straight Line to the Solution

In a competitive atmosphere where a customer is considering numerous solutions, sales professionals may resort to a long list of product features.

This compulsion is understandable. Many sales professionals have taken enormous effort to become an expert in every characteristic of the solution. They want to show what they know. Additionally, the more capabilities the solution has, the more powerful it appears. Effective positioning reminds us that articulating only the most relevant features is best.

Positioning is the sales professional’s opportunity to use what they’ve learned while questioning and draw a straight line from the customer’s specific needs to solution capabilities.

Customize the solution. The discussion of features should be limited to only those that connect in a meaningful way to the customer’s challenges. Use clear, concise language.

Avoid the tendency to position early. The key to strong positioning skills is knowing when in the dialogue to articulate solution capabilities. It’s not time to position until you fully understand needs and how the customer thinks. You need to show how the solution will deliver results within the context of the customer’s business.

Eliciting Feedback to Maintain Collaboration

Eliciting feedback is an effective way to maintain momentum in the sale, but too many sales professionals ignore this step thinking it shows weakness or lack of confidence.

Feedback is important because it offers the opportunity to course correct if the customer perceives misalignment between the solution and business needs. Checking must consist of direct questions. The sales professional must determine if the solution satisfies the need.

Feedback also shapes the customers thinking. Asking for feedback invites them to acknowledge that a solution is a viable option. If they believe the solution isn’t a fit, then eliciting feedback encourages more dialogue which helps the sales professional. Without feedback the conversation stalls. Deadlocks lead to dead ends.

Objections should not be feared. In fact, they’re often a good sign. Vocal objections signify that you’ve engaged the customer and that they’re taking you solution seriously. Moreover, objections may not indicate dissatisfaction with the solution. Instead, they might be a hint that you’re moving too fast and not asking enough questions. The key to closing resides in the specific words embedded in the objection. Listen closely.

Learn more about how to get to the facts that will help you make the sale. Download our White Paper: Elevate Your Consultative Selling Approach to Compete Today to learn more.

consultative selling with facts

The post How Effective Sales Professionals Resolve Objections appeared first on Welcome to the Richardson Sales Blog.

07 Mar 16:41

Email Open Rates and Responses Bad? Build a Relationship With Your List

by Sean Ogle

How many times have you received an email from a company and completely ignored it? If you’re not actively working to keep subscriber attention, email open rates and responses tend to tank quickly.

More times than you’d ever be able to count.

I’m willing to bet you have a folder of dozens if not hundreds of newsletters, promotions, sales or other sales-y emails that you’ve just been too lazy to hit “select all –> delete”.

These days we’re simply bombarded by so many emails and advertising messages that rather than curating the ones we want to see, we usually just tune all of them out.

There’s even a term for it, coined by Mark Schaefer: content shock.

According to Schaefer, technology has enabled us to create and send more and more content but at the same time, our ability as humans to consume it all has dramatically decreased, making it uneconomical. This graph can help illustrate it:

Email Open Rates

Anything above that red line is not getting read, ouch.

So as a business owner, how do you combat that? How do you get people to not only read and respond to your emails but be excited to see them?

Well for us, the answer was to stop treating them only as leads and start treating them as relationships.

The Only Way…

Before we go in depth on how to do that though, the first thing you have to do is make a mindset shift.

Here’s the deal: we all think we’re more important than we actually are. We think our businesses and our work are completely revolutionary and that everyone is going to be as excited as we are as soon as they see our message.

There’s just one tiny problem. What you’re doing isn’t that unique.

There’s one lesson I’ve learned and thought about a lot over the years, that I randomly stumbled upon while reading a magazine in a NYC hotel room.

The article was about the rap pioneer Chuck D. And in it, he had a quote that changed the way I looked at my business forever.

He said:

“Before people buy from you, they have to buy into you.”

Think about that for a second.

Most companies spend zero time or effort getting people to buy into you and your mission. Rather they focus on mass emailing, mass messaging, and hoping that they can rely on sheer numbers alone to get a little bit of a response.

But if you’re a small business, you don’t have that luxury.

Every single person that comes to your site or is on your email list is an opportunity to build a relationship and create a fan and an ambassador of what you’re doing.

In this post, I’m going to share with you exactly how we treat our leads at Location Rebel as relationships to be cultivated, rather than a statistic we’re just trying to sell to.

Step #1: It Starts With the Very First Email

What happens when you sign up for most email lists?

Chances are you might get a discount code or some sort of bonus. Most likely it’s in a flashy HTML formatted email that looks very professional and business oriented.

What is that going to do as far as getting people to buy into you?

Very little.

There’s no personality or connection!

For the last few years, we’ve used this first email as an opportunity.

If someone is interested and engaged enough to give you their email address, then you have an excellent opportunity to impress them — or as we like to say “surprise and delight.”

When you sign up for our email list, you’ll get one email with whatever bonus you signed up for (these have naturally high email open rates), but you’ll also get another one that is very personal.

In it, I thank them for coming, but then I ask them to do something they usually haven’t seen before.

I ask them to hit reply and answer the following two questions:

  1. What does your perfect day look like?
  2. What is your biggest struggle currently?

Here’s a look at the questions inside an actual email:

email open rates

Most people are caught off guard by this, and many get slightly uncomfortable at the thought of reaching out to a stranger.

But we’ve had about 25% of people still hit reply.

email open rates

In doing this, it forces them to think about the answers. A lot of times, at the end of the email they will say answering the questions helped them, or they discovered something they never thought about before, or they were just happy to say this out loud to someone else.

Plus, it gives us extremely meaningful information, and most importantly it’s the first step in building trust and a real relationship.

But what comes next is where the magic happens.

Step #2: Blow Their Minds…

Ok, so they’ve responded to your email, thought about both what they need help with, along with what their perfect end results look like. This is where you have an opportunity to truly blow their minds.

How do you do it?

By sending them a personal reply.

Yep, that’s it!

Who would have thought being a thoughtful, engaged, human would actually lead to good things?

You see consumers have been trained to think that all businesses are the same. There’s a nameless, faceless corporation behind those emails that send out the same tired promotions and discounts.

So when they actually get a response from a real person (who can empathize with their situation), they’re immediately surprised and begin to think “maybe these guys are different.

For every person that sends us a thoughtful reply, we’ll give one in turn.

email open rates

Specifically, we can usually point them in the right direction for some starting points for their issues. Often times at Location Rebel, we have content or resources that help.

Other times we send them somewhere else.

The whole goal is to be helpful and do our best to treat them as we would treat a close friend.

That personal touch, rapport building, and unexpected gesture help us to turn our leads into relationships — which in turn helps us not only increase our bottom line, but it helps us deliver better and more tailored results as well.

We get more than a few responses to our responses saying something like ‘wow I didn’t think anyone would actually respond!’

When you think about it, that’s crazy, because we highlight the fact that we do respond to every email; so many people are conditioned to having a brand say one thing and do another that when we follow through they are shocked (in a good way).

Step #3: Keep Working Towards that First Response

Like I said, we’ll usually get about a 25% response rate from that first email — most people are still skeptical at this point.

But in subsequent follow-up emails, in our weekly newsletter, or in any sales messages we strive to always keep that personal element there.

We’ll put it in the bottom half of emails to constantly drive engagement, like in this one:

email open rates

And, we use our PS to say things like: “Still haven’t reached out personally? Hit reply right now, and let me know what you’re working on. I’d love to help.”

We continuously remind people through every touch point that all they have to do is reply and they will get a real response.

Often it can take a long time, but getting that response makes all the difference in the world both in sales, and customer satisfaction.

A Few Other Things to Keep in Mind

Yes, It Takes Time

Right now, you might be thinking that you don’t have the bandwidth to do this, or that it’d be too difficult for you to personally answer everything.

And, I get it, it’s an investment and it takes a lot of time.

For the first four years of doing this, I answered every single one of these emails personally. And it took close to 50% of my working hours. But it paid off in real relationships and a growing business.

Two years ago, we started dividing our responses with our community manager (we made sure to highlight this in the emails), and have seen no negative results because of it.

As long as you have someone knowledgeable about your company and industry helping out — you’ll be in good shape.

A Little Bit Goes a Long Way

Alright, you’re probably thinking you don’t have hours to devote every day to answering emails in depth. But, in the vast majority of the cases, you don’t need to respond with more than a few sentences.

A big part of this goes with how you format your emails. Like I said above, asking those two questions is far more of a thought exercise for them than for us.

And, since we get a lot of the same responses (more on that later) you can get into a pretty good rhythm of knowing how to respond effectively.

We’ve found most people are happy to get any kind of personal response, even if it’s only a sentence or two acknowledging what they wrote, pointing them to a particular direction, or offering a bit of encouragement.

This Works Better At Some Business Sizes than Others

Is this something that you’ll see giant Fortune 500 companies implementing in their business?

Probably not exactly (although elements of it, could certainly help).

Even smaller 6 or 7 figure businesses with small teams may struggle to handle the volume.

But if you’re a business doing under $500k a year, and you want to find the single best way to engage your customers and get them to “buy in” to what you’re doing — I’ve yet to find a way that works better.

And if you are a bigger brand and want to give this a try, work on building a segment that lets you communicate with a particular subset of people. See if that personal communication can turn them into buyers.

It’s an Awesome Way to Collect Data

The primary goal of this is to connect with people and build relationships. But there’s also a pretty cool side benefit of this too. You can find out tons of information about your readers.

When you go through dozens of emails every week it’s easy to spot patterns. And frankly, where your own content might be missing the mark.

We’ve created not only dozens of blog posts but entire blueprints and courses based on the information and common questions we’ve gotten from these emails because we’ve spoken with people who want it. It’s sort of built-in market research.

Not to mention, we’re able to understand the motivations, fears, and desires of people. Which we can translate to other marketing materials like sales pages.

How Can You Implement This In Your Business?

To finish up, I want you to think about what aspects of this you can implement in your business and email marketing?

In a modern world where everyone seems to be trying to find the best way to automate, and take themselves out of their business, there’s an increasing opportunity for people who are willing to add some personal connection back into their business.

It’s worked extremely well for us, and I’d be willing to bet it could work well for you as well.

07 Mar 16:41

How to Build Your Personal Brand While Balancing Company and Comfort Level

by Liz Alton

As a B2B marketer, you’re faced with a number of branding challenges — from explaining what it is that you actually do, to making less-than-exciting (cough *boring*) industries sound intriguing. Marketers today do more than just shape campaigns and figure out how to market products and brands.

You also have to decide how to market yourself and determine what, if any, role you want to have in your company’s larger marketing initiatives. Do you want to be known as a marketing guru, an industry thought leader or a behind-the-scenes hustler who gets things done? There’s a lot wrapped up in these decisions, and the way you approach your personal branding impacts both your employer’s success and your long-term individual career trajectory.

Let’s take a deeper dive into how to shape a powerful personal brand — without selling out.

Why Personal Branding Matters

Before we can really explore the specifics of building a personal brand, we need to look at the context for why it even matters. In the not-so-distant past, marketers focused exclusively on building their employers’ brands. In the B2B market, the collective strength that defined a company’s reputation was what sold consulting deals, digital products and equipment bundles.

A subtle shift has taken place. Between social media and digital experiences in our personal lives, buyers are looking at relationships with brands on a more personal level. One of the byproducts of that shift means to get to know the people behind a brand. The rise of content marketing and thought leadership efforts have shone a spotlight on the experts who shape the experiences companies deliver — and in many cases, marketers are expected to have a voice in the market.

The Harvard Business Review notes, “The way we think about brands needs to change. In the past, they were objects or concepts. You had a relationship with a brand. But in this social age, brands are the relationships. By defining a brand’s particular kind of relationship, companies can create greater engagement, differentiation, and loyalty.”

Thought leadership and company leaders with a presence make a difference to the bottom line. Check out these stats:

  • 39% of respondents in an Edelman study said thought leadership got companies invited to submit an RFP for work — and 47% said it played a role in awarding those contracts.
  • 92% of marketers told the Content Marketing Institute that the organization viewed content as a business asset.
  • Brand messages shared by employees get 561% more reach than the same messages shared on brand social accounts.
  • Forbes reports that sales reps who are active on social media outsell their peers by 78%.
  • 9 out of 10 business decision makers think leadership is important and spend time on it each week, reports Edelman.

This list could go on, but it boils down to one powerful fact: building your brand makes you an asset to your company, increases your own reputation and opens up a range of opportunities both now and in the future for your professional life.



Think about the way marketers like Neil Patel or Jayson Demers are front and center with their ideas. Each of them has a strong team behind them and heads up entire agencies — but their unique voices and styles stand out in the market. Their platforms help attract customers and grow their business, but they also serve as a calling card if they want to make a shift — whether that’s starting a different business or jumping into the CMO role at a large company.

It’s More Than Just Your Job, It’s Your Career

Personal branding doesn’t just matter for your job today. It’s about the long-term sustainability of your career. Here’s what’s tough: there’s no linear path in marketing anymore. The mythic days of starting as a marketing associate and ending up as the VP of the same company are basically behind us.

When you’re ready to make a move, prospective employers will look at three things, and they’ll weigh them differently, depending on who they are:

  • Your background, including where you’ve worked, industry experience and education.
  • The campaigns you’ve worked on, including direct experience with specific challenges, mediums and industries.
  • Your personal brand.

A great personal brand helps you land opportunities that can change your life and career. It’s an area you have control over, beyond choices that you made earlier in your career, or opportunities that other people have given you.


Comfort Level and Personal Branding

Before embarking on building a personal brand, it’s helpful to weigh these considerations:

Brand vs. individual: How tied to your current employer do you want your personal brand to be? Some marketers decide to become the face of their brand, while others build a more individual platform. Determine if you want your brand integrated with your employer, or more stand alone to prioritize future opportunities.

Your format: Remember, there’s no one right way to build a personal brand. From blogging to speaking to jumping into the social fray, there are nearly endless options available to you. Think about what you’re good at, what you enjoy and what you have the time to manage. The intersection of those three things will point you toward mediums that work for you.

Do you want to do it at all? As one marketer said to me recently, “I chose to work in digital so that I didn’t really have to deal directly with people.” It’s important to think about the stress/return factor. If you have a panic attack at the thought of in-person networking, don’t do it. Filled with existential dread at the thought of personal branding? Don’t do it. Just recognize that if you fall into this space, you’re potentially setting yourself up for a disadvantage that you’ll have to make up for in other ways.


Navigating Some Awkward Discussions About Personal Branding

Even though we live in an age where employees with strong personal brands are an asset, marketers still need to be prepared for some potentially awkward discussions. Several concerns can come up when you’re doing personal branding, vis-à-vis current employers. If your boss isn’t on the personal branding bandwagon, she may worry that you’re building your brand and will leave or may simply not see the value of investing in your brand at all.

Four approaches can help you communicate the benefits of personal branding to a skeptical boss:

  • Tie your efforts to your company’s goals: Align your efforts to what your company is trying to accomplish. For example, if your company wants to sell to CMOs, speak at a conference where that’s the main audience.
  • Make your boss and company look good: Talk about what you’ve accomplished, highlight wins and make your brand a case study of what to do right.
  • Engage in a degree of employee advocacy: Use your platform to promote your company’s brand. Decide how far you’ll go with this and what it will look like. It could mean sharing on social media, inviting company guest writers to your blog or other steps.
  • Use metrics to show success: Decide what metrics matter and collect success stories to demonstrate ROI on your efforts. One blog post I wrote helped an employer land press coverage in a large business magazine. In another case, I was able to attract a big name to a client’s event thanks to a social media connection.

Create a Branding Roadmap

Let’s assume that you’ve decided a personal brand is worth it, your employer’s on board and you are ready to dive in. How do you get started?

Every great brand is built with a clear understanding of three things:

  • Who do you want to reach? Is your audience future employers, decision makers in a specific industry, business experts or someone else entirely? Get clear about no more than two or three audiences you want to target.
  • What’s different about you? What is your brand, and what makes you different from the rest of the marketers out there? Perhaps you’re a digital expert in manufacturing and can speak to burgeoning trends in the customer experience for that industry. Maybe you talk about SEO in a way that’s demystified and non-technical for non-business audiences. Define both what your brand is and how it’s different.
  • What do you want people to do? What’s your call to action? Is your goal to amass a following, increase visibility, set yourself up for a position with a larger organization or attract leads to your business now? Clarity on this point targets your messaging, channels and much more.

Decide What to Do

You’ve thought about your strengths, you’ve weighed in on your employer’s goals and you’ve clarified what you hope to achieve. Here’s a quick guide to determining whether a specific channel is right for you and how to maximize the value.


Speaking: Speaking at networking events and industry groups is fantastic exposure. It helps you get in front of decision makers and can be one of the fastest ways to generate leads, make contacts and raise your visibility. Speaking, however, is an unforgiving medium. There’s no edit button, and people will judge you for your energy and ability to be dynamic as much as for what you say. When you’re evaluating events, get maximum ROI on the branding front by looking at:

  • What’s the cost to attend, in dollars, time and logistical hassle?
  • Is the audience made up of the right targets?
  • How much control do you have over exposure and messaging? For example, a keynote has a higher potential ROI than a 5-minute panel spot.
  • Does the event tangibly align with your organization’s goals?

Social media: Few people aren’t active on social media. The question is whether your social activity will be a personal or professional engagement. When this is your medium, it allows you to build connections, amplify content and jump into the larger debates. Making the most of social requires some consideration:

  • What channels will you be active on?
  • What’s your overall positioning? Will you focus on boosting the signal on industry news, acting as an employee advocate or posting original content?
  • Will you walk the party line on industry topics or be controversial?
  • What’s the end game for social? Examples might be raising visibility, building an audience for other initiatives or turning contacts into offline leads.

Blogging: Blogging is a medium that can work for building a brand in many ways: on your own site, your company’s digital properties, online forums like LinkedIn and Medium, or guest posting on other sites. Most people who get leverage from blogging ultimately do some combination of these things over time. Making the most of blogging takes some strategy:

  • Where will you post? In part, this links back to your goals. If you’re job hunting, LinkedIn is a great place to start. If you’re just trying to be more visible in your company’s mix, their blog properties could be the right choice.
  • What’s your unique point of view? Blogging and digital publishing are pretty saturated. What value do you bring to the market? Think in terms of voice, data, case studies and more.
  • What’s your call to action? Define the specific calls to action you’re interested in, and have a clear plan for how they contribute to your larger personal brand roadmap and goals.

Writing for publications: Landing a contributor spot on Forbes or contributing to an industry publication can vault you into thought leadership territory. It builds visibility and gets your name out there faster than almost anything else. However, there’s also a high degree of scrutiny that comes with this type of exposure. Mistakes are very visible and can have serious repercussions. You’ll have to spend significant time developing your work, researching it and polishing it. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Are you ready for the work level and the scrutiny?
  • Do you have an original POV you can showcase in this medium?
  • If needed, do you have access to resources that can help you (or the time to tackle them yourself) with factors such as editing and research?
  • How will you leverage this into other opportunities? Can your choice of topics, calls to action or follow ups on the momentum translate to bottom line results?

There are a few other options available, too. You could go out and start a YouTube channel, attend industry conferences, start your own website, or tackle any emerging channel. The same tenets hold true:

  • Does it play to your strengths?
  • Does it align with your (and your employer’s) goals?
  • Are you willing and able to embrace the cons, as well as the pros, of the medium?

A Final Note on Career Trajectory

Having a strong personal brand really does benefit you in the long term. Maybe you want to move on to a role at a Fortune 500 or a well-funded startup. Perhaps you’re getting ready to start your own venture, write a book or go out on your own and launch a consulting career.

That’s one of the best parts of marketing today — the flipside of a linear path is an abundance of dynamic opportunities. A platform, an audience and an established strategy for communicating what you’re focused on at any moment can open important doors.

As you’re developing your personal branding strategy, it’s easy to get caught up in what makes you comfortable and uncomfortable, what your employer wants and what results you need to generate this year to prove that it was all time well spent. However, don’t forget to step back and ask what’s in it for you personally. Where do you want to go in your current career? What’s your next career move? What’s your 5-, 10- or 20-year plan?

Work backwards from that. A column is a great foundation for a book. A strong network can help you launch a business. A reputation for insightfulness can land you lucrative consulting contracts. Make sure your own personal objectives, whatever they are, are reflected in your plans.

The Wrap-Up

Marketers today can make a strong business case for building a personal brand, both for their company’s bottom line and for their own career growth. Here’s the thing, though — the route you take there is entirely up to you. Be strategic and think in terms of day-to-day outputs and long-term objectives. Nail down your personal branding roadmap and be clear that while no plan is perfect, having a strong personal brand can help you land opportunities, grow your company’s visibility and open doors that would otherwise be closed to exciting long-term career paths.

07 Mar 16:41

How to Find (and Win Over) New IT Clients

by Judy Caroll

Finding new clients for IT businesses has become complex considering the amount of competition that’s present. The goal now is to locate high-quality IT leads and open up opportunities for growth along the way. This can only be possible by using the right strategies and by transforming the way a tech firm views its audience.

If you’re looking to bring in new clients for IT solutions, here are a few things you should put in mind.

Do a great deal of research

There’s nothing more basic than observing how your niches work. After all, an effective marketing strategy needs to have the backing of accurate data and analytics. For this reason, a lot of IT firms spend a good bulk of their resources on market intelligence. This allows them to get a good feel of the battleground and help them come up with the right approaches that are sure to win over high-quality leads. Your messaging depends on how much you know about your audience, so it’s imperative to take your time looking for potential opportunities from afar.

Go on social media

A lot of firms are doing it, so why shouldn’t you? There’s no peer pressure here. Only facts and the facts tell us that platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn provide significant results in terms of supplying high quality IT leads. For 92 percent of marketers at least, social media has been an important factor for their businesses, so it’s essential to explore the promotional aspect of these platforms, especially if you opt to generate interest into your products and services. Who says social media services such as Pinterest and Instagram are for teens? IT buyers also use them too in seeking out the types of solutions they want to purchase.

Be consistent with your content

More than anything, content functions as the sauce to all your marketing efforts. And of course, nobody wants a hamburger without the sauce on the patty. Infographics, slideshows, videos and blog articles are all important in terms of providing you the leverage to draw in interested clients. It’s only a matter of not losing your momentum by simply publishing content on a regular schedule. This way, you will be able to generate quality leads and welcome new clients to your service.

Optimize your website

Aside from your social media accounts, you also have to make sure that your website is fully bootstrapped with the best features. And by that, you should be able to optimize both for desktop and mobile devices. In addition, you should also consider a functional website design to further drive home your credibility as a sought-after institution in the IT industry. From the color schemes down to the way you design your fill forms and your calls to action, your website’s architecture influences new clients and achieves better sales numbers. Besides, new clients and sales growth lead to a larger share of the market.

Diversify your arsenal

In any case, you should also consider the potential that having a multi-channel marketing approach brings. Using more platforms, after all, allows you to seek more sales opportunities. A good balance between your inbound and outbound marketing efforts enables you to locate leads wherever they are. It might seem like a complex approach, to begin with, but you have to admit there’s no issue that technology can’t solve. You can use a marketing automation platform to help you out in managing your leads and nurturing them for a sales appointment.

This post originally appeared at THE SAVVY MARKETER.

06 Mar 16:57

A Beginner’s Guide to Rocking Amazon Ads using Amazon Marketing Services

by Penny Sansevieri

If you’ve spent any time on the Amazon website, you’ve no doubt seen the via the Amazon Marketing Services the “Sponsored Products” and “Product Display ads.” The Amazon Marketing Services for authors (also called AMS)  is a fabulous opportunity to gain more visibility for your books. And if you plan it right, the Amazon ad system can really help to expand the reach of your book so you can gain more readers!

In terms of Amazon ad system preferences, my nod goes to the sponsored products, for reasons I’ll explain in the video below. One of the things I’m hoping that Amazon will change soon is that the Amazon ad system is currently only open to indie authors. I think this is a shame because every author could benefit from using this, not just the indie authors. I’ve written Amazon a few times about opening up this dashboard to all authors. I’m not sure they’ll take my suggestion, but hopefully soon they’ll change Amazon Marketing Services for authors.

Check out this beginner’s guide to rocking Amazon Ads with Amazon Marketing Services! via @bookgal…
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How to Use the Amazon Ad System

The biggest misunderstanding, I think with Amazon ads is that they are designed just like Facebook ads. And of course, they aren’t. Frankly I find them easier to run but do require some monitoring, I’ll explain that in a minute. First, let’s take a look at a quick ad set up tutorial:

As you can see, the dashboard for creating ads is pretty easy, the key is in the set-up which is pretty specific to the Amazon ads system. The daily budget I’d recommend starting with is $10, which maybe seems small, but if you plot your ads correctly, it should be enough to get you sufficient exposure on Amazon.

When you set up your ads, the Amazon Marketing Services site will give you the option to use their automated system or set everything up manually. While setting up ads using an automated system might seem easier, it’s really worth the little bit of effort to do this manually.

Check out this brief walk-through of the Amazon ad system site:

Using Keywords on the Amazon Ad System

For the Amazon ad system to work correctly, you need between 300 and 400 keywords, which may seem daunting but really isn’t as difficult as you may think.

The Amazon Marketing Services system for authors will recommend keywords. But almost every case, I won’t use them.

Why? Because they’re just too generic and often very ineffective. I suspect that the suggested keywords will get better at some point, but until it does you’ll have to do this search manually.

The key to doing the manual search is to find books similar to yours as I showed you in the brief video. As an indie author, it doesn’t matter if you’re using traditionally published authors or indie authors – I recommend that you grab anything that works for your book!

In my tutorials on Amazon keywords, I often talk about how to find keywords and add them to your book. As you know, I will discourage you from using book titles or authors names because it’s against Amazon’s terms of service. However, this isn’t the case with the Amazon ads system at all. In the case of Amazon ads, you’ll definitely want to use book titles and author names, which is why the suggested keywords are ineffective.

Here’s what you need to know about keywords on the Amazon Ad System. via @bookgal #amazonhacks…
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Why Non-Fiction Books Are Slightly Different

When I do, on occasion, use the keywords the Amazon ads system suggests, it’s usually with non-fiction books. In those cases, I’ll use them to pull in pain point searches consumers may plug into the Amazon dashboard. So, for example, things like “stop back pain” if you have a book that covers that topic. Or “how to save more money,” which could be another good search if you’ve written a book on money saving tips. But for the most part, I’ll use other book titles and authors.

Also, I like to skim the new releases list to find new titles, similar to mine, that I can put in there, too!

The Delay Factor of the Amazon Ad System

The Amazon ads also have delay factor, which means that while they will show right away, you may not be able to see the conversion immediately.

I’m not sure whether or not this is a glitch in the Amazon Marketing Services system that the reporting doesn’t happen right away.  Sales will happen (if you’re showing that the ads are converting into sales), but the numbers may not show up right away in your sales dashboard on the KDP site. This is another reason why when I’m setting up the Amazon ads, I won’t limit the time they can run.

By running them for an unlimited amount of time, the ads have a chance to gain some traction on the Amazon platform, too. Note that you can stop them at any time you want.

Putting Your Keywords into Action (and Pausing Them)

Though you’ll start with an enormous number of keywords, you won’t wind up using all of them. I recommend watching them closely each day to see what’s getting “hits” and which keywords aren’t.

You want to look for the conversions on your ads and pause any keywords that are getting you lots of clicks, but no conversions. In other words, the keyword is somehow misaligned and readers are landing on your page, so you’re paying for a click, but they aren’t buying.

If you keep the Amazon ads running for any length of time, you’ll probably only wind up using 10-20 keywords out of all of the ones you found. These are the keywords you’ll want to spend the most time on. At some point, when you find keywords that are doing really well for you, you can up your per click bid from .25 cents to .50 cents, too.

A Final Note on Amazon Marketing Services for Authors

Finally, if you’re running Amazon ads that aren’t selling any books, you may want to look at your book description. Because in the end you can write the best ad in the world. But if your ads aren’t pulling in sales, it may be because your book isn’t enticing enough, or your book description isn’t strong enough. So it’s worth some time, even before you start running the Amazon ads, to tighten up your Amazon book page first.

The Amazon Marketing Services platform is a great opportunity for indie authors to get more visibility on Amazon and pull in more readers. If you start off slow, with a small budget until you get your bearings, I think you’ll really like what the Amazon ads system can do for you!

Here’s what you need to know rocking your book on the Amazon Ad System. via @bookgal #amazonhacks…
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And, if you’re ready to really rock out on Amazon, I’ve got a great series of videos on how to master Amazon. Check them out here! Plus, I’ve got a special deal for you! Check out the special promo code in the image below!Special Pricing for Master Amazon and Sell More Books Video Series |

06 Mar 16:57

State of Marketing 2018 and How to Reach Today’s Omnichannel Consumers

by Larisa Bedgood

Marketing is breaking new boundaries as data continues to grow at remarkable paces and technology is changing faster than we can keep up. Marketing executives are now spending approximately one-third of their budgets on channels they didn’t even know existed 5 years ago. They expect that average to reach 40% in just a couple of years’ time.

This is according to the “State of Marketing” report recently released by Salesforce. The research tracked 10 digital marketing channels, finding that websites (83%), social media marketing (77%) and email marketing (75%) are currently being used the most. In fact, email marketing almost doubled in usage in the past 2 years. As far as growth among emerging channels, growth has been fastest for video advertising (176%), SMS/text messaging (142%), mobile apps (135%) and native advertising / sponsored content (113%).


Marketers are Focused on Providing a Consistent Experience Across Channels

Marketers today understand that a consistent customer experience is not a luxury to be provided to consumers but a necessity to stay competitive. The focus therefore has shifted to focusing on providing exceptional and consistent customer experiences rather than “battling over it.” Two-thirds (68%) of those surveyed said their company is increasingly competing on the basis of customer experience and almost two-thirds (64%) reported that their company has become more focused on providing a consistent experience across every channel.

Marketers Compete Customer Experience

Customers expect these personalized and seamless experiences across channels, and they will walk if they don’t receive the experience they are looking for. More than half (52%) of consumers are likely to switch brands if a company doesn’t make an effort to personalize communications to them and 65% of business buyers say the same about vendor relationships.

Consumers Negative Experience

However, marketers continue to be challenged with coordinated messaging as consumers move from channel to channel. Only about one-quarter are able to evolve their messaging from channel to channel based on customer actions. More than half said that their campaign messages are simply identical messages from one channel to the next.

Personalizing to this level takes data. The good news is that more consumer data is available than ever before and oftentimes, consumers are willing to provide their personal data for a better experience. Among Millennial consumers, 58% will share personal data in exchange for product recommendations that meet their needs (as will 52% of Gen X consumers). Business buyers also want deeper relationships; 89% expect companies to understand their business needs and expectations.

Begin with your company’s first data party assets and augment these insights with additional data elements to determine your customers’ lifestyles and interests, how they shop, and how to best reach them. More traditional ways of analyzing customers by demographics and psychographics are important, but digital behaviors must also be analyzed for a better understanding of motivation and intention.

Consumer Data Append

Armed with this intelligence about your customers, you can create highly personalized messages and experiences. Customers who feel like they are treated as individuals are more satisfied and in turn, more loyal.

Coordinating Messages Across Channels

Over the past few years, new channels have being introduced into the mix and marketers are now spending more of their budgets on channels they didn’t even know existed 5 years ago. According to the Salesforce research:

“Over the past two years, we’ve seen an explosion in the use of newer channels like video advertising, SMS, mobile apps, and native advertising/sponsored content. The percentage of both B2B and B2C marketers using video advertising, for example, has risen by triple digits over the last two years. Despite its well-established presence in the B2C marketer’s toolbox, email is still growing at a significant rate. Email’s number two spot indicates that marketers may be testing new channels in conjunction with proven ones to find combinations that work for their consumers.”

Marketing Channel Growth

Sixty-seven percent of marketing leaders say creating a connected customer journey across all touchpoints and channels is critical to the success of their overall marketing strategy. A staggering 91% of high performers agree that a connected customer journey across all touchpoints and channels positively impacts customer loyalty. Another 89% say the same for the impact on revenue growth. But overall, only 23% of marketers are extremely satisfied with their ability to leverage customer data to create more relevant experiences.

Positive Customer Journey

Customer experiences are quickly outweighing the “best value for the buck” mentality. Consumers are willing to pay more for positive and consistent experiences as they move from channel to channel, and for those companies who are delivering, research shows they typically grow at double the rate of their competitors. And when you don’t deliver, you can lose your competitive edge very quickly.

06 Mar 16:57

How To Be A Better Salesperson

by Guest Blog Post

Editor's note: This post was originally published on Personal Branding Blog on March 5, 2018.

Dan Schawbel spoke to Jim Kouzes, Deb Calvert and Barry Posner, co-authors of Stop Selling & Start Leading: How to Make Extraordinary Sales Happen, about why so many salespeople fail to connect with buyers, what they’ve learned about the buyer and seller relationship, how salespeople can become better leaders, and how salespeople can stay motivated despite the inevitable rejection.

06 Mar 16:55

13 Fantastic Facebook Marketing Tricks & Tips [2018]

by Nicole Blanckenberg

It’s becoming more and more important to take a more personal approach to how you advertise to your target audience in order to stand out from the crowd. Nothing could be more true than navigating Facebook. Facebook currently has over 2 billion users, and as the platform continues to grow, newsfeeds changes are implemented and eCommerce businesses increase, your Facebook competition is getting tighter by the minute.

In this week’s post we look at 13 fantastic Facebook marketing tricks and tips to help you make the most out of your Facebook marketing strategies this year.

1. Quality Over Quantity

Did you know that every 60 seconds there are 317,000 status updates and 54,000 shared links uploaded to Facebook? And that’s just updates and links!

[Image Source]

That’s a bucket-load of content being uploaded every minute. To stand out from content noise, you should be concentrating on quality over quantity. It’s not frequency that’s going to increase your reach; quite the opposite, actually. With new newsfeed updates it’s even more important to create high-value quality content. Content that is segmented to smaller niches improves the likelihood that your ads are relevant to potential shoppers and thus increasing your chances of interactions. The same thing can be said for your organic content; which brings us to tip #2.

2. Quick Facebook Page Promotion Tip

Planning on running an ad to promote your Facebook page? When you create these campaigns, it will automatically set the text and description as per your page settings. Instead, to improve your response for each segmented market, you can customize the heading by clicking Advanced options and using the text block to adjust headings.

3. Integrate Your Facebook Strategies

Whether you’re creating a PPC ad or Facebook page content, your objective should be the same: providing highly relevant content that your potential customers want to engage with. Sure your objective may be different, with PPC ads driving traffic to your store and page posts used to keep followers entertained or informed, but for results for each you want to ensure you’re creating awesome, interesting content.

Which is why it is so important to integrate your organic and paid Facebook strategies, to ensure you’re providing good content that is equally inline with the voice of your brand. There is a big chance your potential shoppers will encounter your brand through organic and paid social posts and therefore any conflict in your messaging can result in mixed messaging, ultimately undermining your marketing efforts and your ROI.

Sprout Social have an awesome webinar on how to integrate organic and paid Facebook strategies to get you started! You can view it here: 5 Best Practices for Integrating Organic and Paid Social Media Strategies.

Pro Tip:

When planning your Facebook page’s ‘organic’ content, remember the 80:20 rule. You want to make sure that only 20% of your content is hard-sell promotional, while the remaining 80% is fun, inspiring, educational, high-value articles, and any other non-sale content. Just because your text isn’t over-sell, doesn’t mean you are not building your loyal customer base. Look at the below example – are they telling you, “BUY NOW”?

good example of facebook product posts

4. Go Live

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last two years, you probably already know just how important video content is to Facebook marketing. One of the best video content reach you can get is with Facebook’s live video. According to Livestream stats, 82% of brand audiences prefer live video over any other form of social media posts.

If you’re waiting to be able to shoot ‘good quality video,’ you’re missing out on huge reach potential. Like we have said time and time again, you don’t need video to be professionally shot for it to be effective, even more the case with Facebook Live. Use live video to reveal a new product or promotion, to give tips in your niche or show behind-the-scenes teasers for upcoming lines.

Don’t take our word for it, just as marketing genius Gary V who is constantly crushing – if you’ll excuse the pun – his Facebook live content.

5. Quick Tip to Increase Reach? Get Tagging

Want to maximize your organic reach? Try your hand at tagging your fans when you are sharing UGC or tag partner businesses, publications or Facebook pages you’re working with.

6. Don’t Underestimate Instant Replies

We may not all have big budgets to get in on growing AI and BOT tech, but Facebook’s Instant Replies are the next best thing. So many consumers now opt for communicating with brands directly through Facebook as opposed to emailing customer support.

Facebook instant reply bots

The upside: being able to create a more personalized shopping experience; the downside: people expect an instantaneous response. Facebook Instant Replies allows you to engage with your customers messages before you’ve even read them. Here’s Facebook’s guide to get instant replies set up:

7. Tell a Story

Yes, even for your paid Facebook campaigns. Telling a story will help you get more interest and build stronger connections with your target audience, both in turn helping you get more ad clicks. You can do this by creating teaser ads before a product or site launch, getting people invested in your launch, or outlining a story that’s important to your brand in long form video or text posts. An awesome example of just how powerful presenting a narrative is, is HONY: Humans of New York.

Since starting the page in 2010, HONY creator Brandon has turned storytelling into a page with 18 million followers, and extended his stories into his own Facebook show.

8. Share UGC and Testimonial Posts

When it comes to building a sense of community around your brand, nothing beats genuine UGC (user-generated content) and testimonials. Not only is this a great way to include your fans and shoppers, incorporating UGC into your Facebook marketing content helps to entertain, boost trust and ultimately increase sales. Want further proof? According to Adweek, when deciding on buying a product, up to 93% of people turn to user-generated content. Plus, there are a lot of studies out there showing how UGC increases relevant scores and ROIs.

So how do you integrate UGC into your Facebook marketing strategy? It’s as easy as manually sharing content or using tools such as TINT to automatically integrate it. Whichever way you decide to start using UGC for your Facebook ads, the key is collecting user-generated posts you can use. Check out our 5 Tools to Increase UGC, Pronto post to get you started.

9. Make Your Image Ads More Engaging

As you can see from the previous point, UGC is a good way to stand out from the crowd. This is not just because they make for trustworthy testimonials, but because these images are unique enough to break through the thousands of daily ads. With all image ads, you want to ensure your content stands out. Try using multiple image carousel ads to create an image story, or use single images that pop and stand out from the crowd.

Pro Tip: Keep your ad text short, concise and on point when doing image posts to ensure you don’t lose your potential shoppers’ attention after you’ve hooked them in with an attractive image.

You don’t need to be a designer to create awesome images. Head over to our 23+ Online Design Tools to Create Perfect Visuals Without Design Know-How guide to get started.

10. Make Targeting All About Your Potential Customer

I’ve said it once, and I will say it a million times more: segment, segment, segment! Segment your audiences and then create highly targeted ads aimed specifically at that niche market. It is not the amount of reach you should be concentrating on, but the percentage of that reach that is engaging. Once you have “niched down” your audiences, think about things like what their interests are, where are they specifically located, what they are watching, who are they following and when that specific segment is active – and then create highly specific ads aimed at them. Facebook’s custom audiences is built for this, and that’s what sets this marketing platform apart. Add that to Facebook pixel driven Facebook dynamic product ads, Messenger and retargeting ads, and there is no niche too small to reach.

11. Utilize Your Cover Photo

By updating your cover photo regularly with new product lines, promotions or seasonal content. This will ensure that when potential fans and shoppers come to your page, your latest (most popular) content is front and center, getting their attention straight away. With apps like Canva, this is super easy to maintain.

example of promotional Facebook covers

Pro Tip:

Use your Facebook cover and promotional posts to offer exclusive content/promotions for your Facebook fans. This is a great way to build your followers who will be more inclined to follow if you’re offering ‘VIP’ deals and inside scoops.

12. Optimize Your Campaigns in Real-Time

Like with most PPC campaigns, to get the most out of your budget you will want to monitor your campaigns and make adjustments in real-time to make sure you’re getting the most clicks for your buck. Without creating a new campaign you can adjust your audience, your budgeting, your schedule, your placements, your artwork and even your delivery choices.

It’s important to note here that normally a campaign needs to run a day or two for you to get enough data to judge its performance. For those that aren’t performing there are a number of things you could be doing wrong:

  • Your Facebook targeting is all wrong
  • People aren’t seeing your Facebook ads
  • The campaign objective is incorrect
  • Ad placement is off the mark
  • Your landing page and Facebook ads aren’t in line
  • Your ads are not attracting attention
  • You haven’t scaled your Facebook ads correctly

Bonus Tip: How to Scale Up a Performing Facebook Ad

There you have it, the Facebook marketing tricks and tips to stand out from the crowd this year. Think about who your potential shopper is, drill down your segmented markets and then create content for those segments. As we know, personalization is a key eCommerce trend, and starting with your Facebook strategies is a giant step in the right direction.

Happy selling!

06 Mar 16:54

8 Types of Content You Can Turn Into a Lead-Generating E-Book

by Katy French

E-books are fantastic tools for content marketing, which is probably why you probably have at least one (if not a few) gated, generating those sweet, sweet leads around the clock. But while e-books are great, they also take work to create. From copywriting to e-book design, e-books require time and resources that many marketers just don’t have.

But what if you could produce an e-book in less time, streamline production, and give your content way more reach? You totally can—and we know an easy tactic that will help you do it: Repurposing your existing content.

Every content marketer is sitting on an archive full of valuable content that is usually just collecting dust. That content takes many forms, from public-facing content on your blog or website to internal docs circulated among your team. But it can do more work for you than you realize, simply by turning it into an e-book.

How to Create Awesome E-Books From Your Content

Repurposing content is a simple, smart, and economical strategy that helps you get more mileage from everything you create. The hardest part of e-book creation is writing and designing something from scratch. But with a little creativity, you can reduce that labor, reuse assets, and create something fresh with a lot less work. This tactic is also useful if you’re stuck on ideas.

So, what content can you use? Here are 10 types of content you probably already have that can be great fodder for your next e-book.

1) Blog Posts and Articles

This one’s a no-brainer, yet so many marketers don’t take advantage. You probably have a blog full of articles on similar themes or topics. These can easily be packaged into a useful guide or e-book that can provide real value to your audience.

2) Infographics

Infographics already have a solid narrative, and they often include data, which always enhances your content. You may have a series of infographics that could be cut up and repackaged into an e-book. Or you can use one to build an e-book around.

3) Surveys, Research, and Reports

Whether it’s your annual report or your latest customer survey, anything that contains data is a goldmine for an e-book. (Also, data-based e-books can draw the attention of publications or publishing partners who want to share it.) If you have the data but aren’t sure what to do with it, follow this guide to find the story in your data if you need a unique angle.

4) Interactive infographics

Interactive infographics are high-value pieces of content that take even more time to produce than an e-book. If you don’t repurpose that content, you’re really not making the most of it. Like infographics, these often include a strong narrative or a large data set that may contain new and unique stories.

5) Presentations

Anytime you create a presentation, you are demonstrating your expertise in some way. Don’t let those valuable pieces of communication go to waste. These are particularly easy to turn into an e-book because they tend to follow a narrative flow and feature interesting visuals or data.

6) Internal Documents

Any time you create process docs, tutorials, or guidelines for your internal team, you are engaging in the transfer of knowledge. This knowledge is helpful for your own team, but anything that includes instruction or tips would probably be relevant or interesting to others in your industry.

We’ve found internal docs to be a surprising source of great content, and we’ve used them to create useful content for a larger audience. For example, our internal tips for brainstorm meetings became a popular SlideShare, and training documents for new producers became the basis of our Everything You Need to Know About Visual Content e-book—the most popular e-book we’ve ever made.

7) Motion Graphics or Brand Videos

Motion graphics, brand videos, or explainer videos are great to convey an idea quickly and succinctly. But there are times when people might need more information. If you’ve covered a certain topic in a video, you might expand on that narrative and supplement with additional information to create an educational e-book.

8) Misc. Collateral

As we mentioned before, any piece of communication can become the inspiration for your next e-book. You might have a piece of sales collateral, a webinar, or an interesting podcast Q&A on hand. All of these pieces can be repurposed into an e-book, whether it’s a sidebar, a chapter, or the entire e-book.

5 Tips to Repurpose Content Into Fresh E-Book Designs

If you think you have some good content on hand, here are a few ways to spin it into your next e-book design.

1) Create a comprehensive guide. If you have a ton of content on the same theme, you probably have enough to spin it into an A-Z guide on the subject. This helps you demonstrate your thought-leadership, and it can also be useful to rank for certain keywords, as search engines love rich, high-value content..

2) Choose a specific angle. Sometimes subjects are too broad or generic, in which case focusing on a niche subject relevant to your industry or readers is a smarter move. An e-book on how to provide great customer service might be overdone. But an e-book about how to deliver great customer service on Twitter will resonate with a specific group.

3) Consider news and trending topics. If your content is related to an industry trend, popular issue, or something in the news, you may find an interesting angle or tie-in for your e-book—if it’s appropriate.

4) Repurpose design assets. If you’re working with visual content, reuse, remix, and repurpose those visual assets to reduce design time and preserve your brand’s visual identity. That includes charts, diagrams, illustrations, or data visualizations.

5) Use the original piece content to promote your new e-book. You can give your original piece new life by using it to promo the new e-book. You can also break your new e-book into even more assets.

Most importantly, keep looking for opportunities to make the most of your content, streamline your process, and improve the quality of your e-books.

06 Mar 16:53

Road Map to Success: Turn Your Strategy Into a Stellar Editorial Content Plan

by Jodi Harris


Unless today is your first day as a content marketer, you’re aware of how essential a documented strategy is to achieving content marketing success. It’s one of those mantras you’ve heard being chanted again and again throughout every corner of the industry until you simply can’t help but accept it as truth. It really is that important.

But let’s face it: Not all of us have a direct part to play in crafting or controlling our company’s strategic, high-level view of content. There are just as many of us whose job it is to fulfill the promise of those strategic ideals by implementing and executing on an editorial plan – i.e., the policy, process, team resource, and task-related decisions that will best position your content marketing program for long-term success.

Looking to build this essential tactical plan for your organization or refine the one you have? Read on for a handy tutorial and some of our best resources to guide your way.

By the way, if it is your first day on the job, you’ll want to catch up quickly. I recommend starting with our Content Marketing Strategy Essentials guide and branching off from there.

What’s in an editorial plan?

Similar to building your content marketing strategy, planning your editorial can seem intimidating at the outset. You’ll need to consider a lot of moving parts, and design each aspect to function on its own while aligning with your strategic goals. Your plans also need to allow for flexibility since your content will likely need to be adapted to shifting business priorities, emerging tech trends, audience preferences, and other changes over time.

Fortunately, if you break down your plan into three key focal areas the tasks should come into clearer focus, making the process much more manageable. The three areas include:

  1. Guidelines and governance – editorial quality standards, preferred practices, and guiding principles that define and distinguish the value of your brand’s content
  1. Processes and tools – tasks, workflow, and routing practices, and the productivity techniques and technologies to keep your content engines running smoothly
  1. Team resources – roles that handle each task, skills those tasks require, and details on how to keep your team focused and productive

Editorial plans should incl guidelines & governance, processes & tools, team resources. @joderama
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Take a shortcut: If you’re strapped for time but still want to do planning right, why not grab some tricks, tips, and helpful templates from our 2018 Content Marketing Toolkit?

Guidelines and governance

Governance lies at the heart of every editorial program. The decisions made – and the guidelines established for activating them – will ultimately define and distinguish your brand’s content experience by unifying your efforts under a single set of communication standards. Determining these protocols at the start makes it easier to make tactical, go/no-go decisions and maintain strategic alignment throughout the life span of your content program.

Content tone, voice, and style: Outline the qualities and characteristics that will make your content recognizable as an extension of your brand and noticeably distinct from everyone else’s content. Clearly define your preferred tone, voice, and stylistic standards that all of your content should stick to.

Editorial quality and value: No matter what tone, voice, and style you use, editorial teams must maintain standards of content quality – i.e., the characteristics that make your content worthy of your audience. Not only will poor content quality hinder the results you want, it can reflect poorly on your brand’s value and reputation as well.

Poor #content quality hinders results & can reflect poorly on your brand's reputation, says @joderama.
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Every content effort should be judged against its ability to provide the value your audience expects. If you are unable to check all the boxes on Ahava Liebtag’s Creating Valuable Content, a Step-By-Step Checklist (below), your content might need to be sent back to the drawing board.


Take a shortcut: For a deeper dive on how to take control of your digital content, check out Intel’s governance framework.

Processes and tools

Editorial planning also includes defining the tasks to complete, detailing how each asset is routed, determining how your team members collaborate and communicate effectively, and identifying the tools and technological systems to do the work.

Operational workflows: Good workflow has been called the secret sauce for content marketing success for good reason. Without defining the steps, sign-offs, and stakeholders involved in transforming your team’s creative ideas into shareable marketing assets, you risk encountering breakdowns and bottlenecks at every turn. Tasks can slip through the cracks, necessary approvals can get overlooked, deadlines can get missed, and even minor errors and setbacks can easily snowball into productivity nightmares.

Good workflow is the secret sauce for #contentmarketing success, says @joderama.
Click To Tweet

Communication and collaboration: Once you’ve defined the workflow, enable your team members to understand their role in the content creation process – and how it impacts and overlaps with the responsibilities of everyone else involved in your content program. This makes it easier to put in place tools and techniques to foster better communication and collaboration as your team members do their jobs.

For example, a detailed editorial calendar can be a great tool for managing collaborations as each team member can clearly see where each asset is in the production process, what tasks still need to be accomplished, and with whom they need to work to move it through to completion.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: Editorial Calendar Tools and Templates

Project prioritization: As your team runs more efficiently, you might realize it’s generating more content ideas than it can be expected to execute. To keep the influx of killer ideas from snowballing into total creative paralysis, you need a system for evaluating ideas to prioritize the projects that align most strongly with your goals and to reject the ones that might hinder productivity, tax resources, or fall far outside your content’s primary purpose.

Content requests: Once word of your content team’s success spreads throughout your organization, you may receive requests from other functional teams, departments, and business units that want your help producing similar results for them. It’s helpful to have policies and documents for handling content requests (like the one below) to preserve your team resources for the projects that are best positioned to achieve success.


Quality assurance: While your team can be flexible in how it manages editorial processes, procedures, and team collaborations, there’s one thing you need to be rigid about: maintaining the highest standards of content quality. Even a small factual error in your content can erode your brand’s credibility in a social media minute. You’ll want to put in place a quality assurance (QA) process to keep typos, grammatical mistakes, and factual inaccuracies out of your published content and keep your brand’s reputation above reproach.

Even a small factual content error can erode your brand's credibility in a #socialmedia minute, says @joderama.
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Technology: Beyond the basic tools of the content marketing trade – like calendars, workflow maps, and process checklists – you need to make sure you have the necessary technology infrastructure. Depending on your goals, team resources, and budget, the tech systems can range from simple spreadsheets and desktop-publishing programs to full-scale content management systems (CMS), multifunctional marketing automation solutions, and more. You should evaluate your technological needs early in the planning process to make sure you have the power to build and execute on your strategic content marketing vision.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: Is Your Marketing Ready for 2018?

Team resources

Million-dollar content budgets are great; but, without the right human resources, even the priciest content program isn’t likely to bring the ROI you might be expecting. This is why your content planning process needs to account for each role, the skills and expertise team members must bring to their roles, and the support that enables everybody to perform to their potential.

Culture and mindset: Because of the nature of the work they do, content teams typically function best in an environment that fosters creativity, minimizes distractions, and enables constructive feedback to be shared and discussed easily even across multiple functional teams or organizational silos. Paying attention to the small details that make for a more supportive content marketing mindset and collaborative culture can pay off in greater team productivity, lower team churn rates, and higher efficiency and effectiveness.

Team structure and roles: Your content marketing program’s potential for success lies squarely in the hands of your team members, which is why putting the right staff members, functional roles, and overarching team structure in place is a critical component of every editorial plan.

Skill sets: While today’s content teams may have to learn to do more with less, they can only be expected to multitask if they possess the required skills. And while certain skill sets are essential for every content marketing operation – like writing, editing, and designing – others may simply be nice-to-have additions when you are ready to take your content programs further.

Depending on your organization’s size, available resources, and level of content marketing maturity, you’ll need to determine which skill sets need to be acquired immediately, and which ones you can outsource, share, or do without until your need grows.

Take a shortcut: Having trouble getting your staff to realize its potential? Follow these tips to diagnose and treat the source of common team problems.

Stay tuned for next steps

In my next post, we’ll get down to the business of content creation – from brainstorming topics and ideas to selecting the right tactics and formats to making sure your efforts have everything it takes to engage your target audience and drive them to help further your business goals.

Take a few days for intensive learning around content marketing no matter your expertise. Register today for Content Marketing World Sept. 4-7 in Cleveland, Ohio, where hundreds of presenters will be ready to help you expand your content marketing knowledge. Use code BLOG100 to save $100. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

The post Road Map to Success: Turn Your Strategy Into a Stellar Editorial Content Plan appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.

06 Mar 16:52

6 New Rules for Landing Page Success

by Laura Collins

6 New Rules for Landing Page Success

It’s no secret small businesses often have limited marketing budgets, which means their funds—as well as their time and other resources—have to be allocated judiciously. Email marketing campaigns and paid ads are often two of the most commonly used marketing initiatives by this group, since they tend to yield great returns.

But if you’ve invested in either of these approaches and haven’t seen the type of response you hoped for, you might be missing something of great importance: effective landing pages. Read on for a look at how one company drastically changed its campaign conversion rates once they revamped their landing pages, and how you can borrow some of their tactics to do the same.

Is Something Better Than Nothing?

Few companies are as strapped for time as small businesses, so it makes sense that seemingly minor moving parts can slip through the cracks. This begs the question: Is it better to have no landing page for your marketing campaign than a poorly constructed one? Or is it best to still put up a landing page, even if you don’t have a lot of time to devote to building it?

Well, given that landing pages are crucial to the success of your marketing campaigns, it’s better to have one. But you no longer have to sacrifice quality due to time and budgetary constraints, thankfully. There are new methods of creating high-quality landing pages that won’t eat up all your time while allowing you to treat them as a high priority.

A great landing page shouldn't mean sacrificing quality due to time and budgetary constraints.
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Out with the Old

Master Oil Painting is a small business that needed a better way to capture more leads and increase conversions. They had tried landing pages for various campaigns in the past, but their average conversion rate was stuck at 4.4 percent. They found the setup process to be tedious, and they weren’t confident that their effort was generating any ROI.

The folks at Master Oil Painting knew they needed a solution that could help them create more professional-looking landing pages in minutes, with features that could enhance their customer experience and provide better results. Master Oil Painting began searching for a way to gain more leads, better capture their data, and ultimately enjoy higher conversion rates. They knew they needed to move on from their prior approach to landing pages.

The Proof Is in the Numbers

Once Master Oil Painting implemented Infusionsoft’s new Landing Pages feature, the company quickly and effectively learned the important components of a landing page—which they had largely been missing before. They put into practice what they had learned within the seamless system and immediately saw their conversion rates leap to 11.5 percent (more than doubling from their previous rate). Not only that, but their email click rates nearly doubled, and they saw their monthly sales figures rise to the highest numbers they’d seen since launching the business two years prior. Master Oil Painting had hit upon a discovery of what works within landing pages, and what tends to fall flat.

The Nuts and Bolts of Landing Page Success

Whether you use Infusionsoft’s new Landing Pages or another system to create your landing pages, there are six key aspects to keep in mind to get the most conversions.

1. Ease and Time

As mentioned above, you can’t spend inordinate amounts of time agonizing over what verbiage or designs to use in your landing pages. Look for templates that already include placeholders for the information your customers expect to find and allow you to move things around in a drag-and-drop fashion. This will save you a good deal of time, and keep the whole page looking polished and professional.

2. Aesthetics and Experience

Along the same lines, your landing pages need to be eye-catching in order to keep a prospect’s attention. Make sure you’re using responsive landing pages, so visitors can have a smooth experience no matter what device they use. Include royalty free images and test your landing pages to be sure they have fast load times. After all, your prospects are likely to have their attention drawn elsewhere if they have to wait for a page to load.

3. Compelling Call-to-Action

Your landing page needs to have a call-to-action button that draws your visitor in. For example, invite your visitor to request a free consultation or download a useful ebook. They’ll need to receive something valuable in exchange for handing over their information, so you want to make this part of the deal as enticing as possible.

4. Form Fields and Data Collection

The main point of putting together landing pages is to capture important customer data and have a way to follow up with hot leads. Double check that your landing pages include web forms that ask for first and last names, email addresses, phone numbers, or other information that you want to use. These insights can help you with relationship building later, as well as serving customers’ needs when they need it most.

5. Integration and Support

If you’re using a landing page builder, make sure it synchronizes with your CRM or marketing software. Master Oil Painting, for example, used Infusionsoft for its sales and marketing software, so it was a breeze for them to have their Infusionsoft Landing Pages sync with Infusionsoft’s custom fields. This makes follow-up and data consolidation a whole lot easier.

6. Customization

Finally, consider the possibilities you have with custom domains and messaging. Tailor-made domains can help boost your SEO rankings, and personalized messaging can make all the difference in whether you convert prospects or not. Your landing page should have both.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled with the results I’ve seen since switching to Infusionsoft landing pages. Every conversion rate I track has improved since the switch, some more than doubling what they were previous,” said Bill Inman, owner of Master Oil Painting.  “And even more important is the time it’s saved me, which has left hours more each month for me to focus on site improvement, marketing expansion, and increased time availability with our customers. Infusionsoft Landing Pages integrated with other Infusionsoft tools has saved us time, money, and made the overall experience better for my team—and even more importantly, our customers.”

If you’re already spending your hard-earned revenue (and time) on email marketing campaigns or paid media, make sure you’re spending equal attention on designing an effective landing page too. You can get a boost in conversions (and ease of use) just like Master Oil Painting did if you focus on the points above. Here’s to flawless landing pages and excited prospects who convert into customers in short order.

The post 6 New Rules for Landing Page Success appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

06 Mar 16:52

Social Media Policy for Sales Teams

by Josh Slone

Social selling for B2Bs has been around since LinkedIn has been popular. And Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have all become beneficial for reps in various industries. Where your customers are, your need to be, too. This reality makes having a social media policy for yourself or your sales team a necessity.

In today’s post, we’ll go over a few things to help you develop your own. This could be for yourself to ensure you don’t get into trouble. More likely, it’s going to be for sales managers looking to keep their reps from running off good leads via social media.

Here’s what we’ll discuss:

  • Potential Pitfalls of Not Having a Policy in Place
  • What Should Be in Yours (using examples)
  • How to Implement the New Policy
  • A Copy/Paste Style Template

Life Without a Social Media Policy

Imagine you (or one of your reps) tweet something on your company profile without really thinking about it. Then go home for the day.

Turns out you (or your rep) misunderstood a hashtag. Instead of it being sales-related, it was actually supposed to raise awareness for some big cause. Now, the brand (by association) is coming off as insensitive and exploitive. They may say “all publicity is good publicity”, but it’s not as true as it once was. If it ever was at all.

Businesses, their employees, and others mess things up constantly. Social media is crazy powerful, but it’s more fickle than anyone could have imagine.

Don’t believe me?

Here’s what just happened to SnapChat.

Kylie Jenner tweeted (image below) about SnapChat in a negative way and it cost the company over a billion dollars.

social media policy

You probably don’t have a sales rep or employee with quite that much pull, but there are plenty of scenarios that can occur when employees are representing you. Here are a few more “realistic” things that have happened.

  • Over Engagement: This one is common. Your reps are just bugging leads too much. Sending private “how ya doing” messages on LinkedIn, creepily liking everything they post, or even making public comments about them — all bad and some are just creepy.
  • Over Aggressive: Much like over engagement, but these reps take the “always be closing” mantra to a whole other level. Using social media to sell is very powerful. And much like other powerful tools, it has to be used correctly. You don’t want to scare prospects away.
  • Over Sharers: There are very few secrets today, but that doesn’t mean we don’t try. Sensitive company information can find itself in the hands of reps, who can then let it fly onto the social airwaves. New features, investment details, even current clients who would like to remain unknown.

Seeing the need for a social media policy yet?

Again, there are a number of things that can go wrong that range from national headline problems to losing a few leads.

Social Media Policy Examples: What Should Go in Yours?

When it comes to this and most other policies, common sense goes a long way. These sort of guidelines are a common sense way of protecting yourself (or your organization) from those who lack, well, common sense.

That said, I’ve reviewed several companies and their social media policies. Here are the elements I found in most of them.

1. Disclaimer

There is always a section (usually at the very top) clearly stating that all employee created content is their own. Even if the company is mentioned, they had no part in creating or publishing what was written or said. Take the example below from IBM’s social media policy.

“IBMers are personally responsible for the content they publish on-line, whether in a blog, social computing site or any other form of user-generated media.”

2. How to Use Social

If your reps use social media, there should be a list of acceptable methods and practices. In sales, there are a number of stages of the sales funnel. Even after a customer has bought something, reps can reach out to maintain relationships.

The Washington Post has a similar predicament. Their reporters can reach out via social for a number of reasons. Due to this, they’ve constructed their policy to highlight each broad category. These categories include; communicating news, using social media for reporting purposes, and personal reasons.

For sales, you may have caveats for initially reaching out, following up with leads, and post-sale communication (for example).

3. The Decent Person Clause

All of the policies have the basic human tenets of being a decent person. This one could be easy. Your company may have a ethics policy highlighting how to treat customers and co-workers. Including mention of these existing policy would be a good idea.

4. Keep Secrets a Secret

No brainer, right?

But, it still needs to go into your policy. Features in development, client details, or any other secret is bound to get out. If you have a clause, it would be way easier to clean up than if you’d just let it happen without protecting yourself.

5. Require a Course

This one isn’t for the faint of heart. People usually don’t like change enough (more on that in a second). However, it may not be a bad idea to make your reps take a course showing how social media works (or just take it yourself).

social media policy

Coca-Cola actually has a certification course of their own for all official spokespersons that is referenced in their policy.

Resource: HootSuite has a fantastic (and free) social media marketing course that covers how to use the popular platforms and fundamental best practices.

social media policy

6. A Warning

Most of the policies I looked at had a very sobering warning (typically toward the end). It was always something to the effect of, “The internet is a permanent and unforgiving place,” The key takeaway is that once you say something, someone probably has a record of it and will use it against you if possible.

7. Encourage Social Activity

You want your reps to say where they work and to talk about it. I put LeadFuze right in my LinkedIn profile proudly. You probably do the same. Every policy I’ve read encourages social content and it’s necessary. Even the word “policy” has a stuffy feeling.

If you don’t let people know you want them to be social, they could avoid violating rules by being less active on social media.

3 Steps to Implement Your New Social Media Policy

Almost everybody hates change. Sales reps included. New tactics that help close more deals, sure. New policies that tell them what they can and can’t do — not so much.

Here are 3 quick steps to help you avoid the most headache.

Step One: Highlight the need

Be clear as to what you’re trying to prevent and highlight the need for everyone to be aware of their social presence. The potential problems are scary and the policy should make sense to most of the team. If you recently had an incident, you’ll have context to go along with this one.

Step Two: Communicate Clearly

Have the policy ready when you start talking about it. Don’t just throw it in front of them, but make a time to talk about it where you tell them why you’re doing it (e.g. step one).

Step Three: Make it Public

So many top companies put their social media policy online for all to see. This is incredibly smart for a couple of reasons. First, it provides a place to send new reps going forward. Two, it provides you (a sales manager or business owner) some coverage if an employee fails to follow your policy.

In the event something crazy happens, you can point out that it should not have happened if your employee had followed the rules.

Copy/Paste Social Media Policy Template

To round this post out, I’ve put together a social media policy template with some common items and generic language. Feel free to swipe this, throw it on a Google doc, change it to your liking and put your logo on it (if you have the authority to do such a thing).

[Insert Company Name] Social Media Policy

  1. [Company name] employees are responsible for the content they publish online. This included social posts, blogs, video, and audio content created.
  2. When representing [company name], employees must follow all ethical and business guidelines put forth by the company.
  3. If posting about [company name] in a personal format, employees must state that any statements made are their personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect those of the company.
  4. When addressing anyone in a work-related matter (i.e. leads, current customers) never use derogatory language, ethnic insults, or other insensitive speech.
  5. If leads express a desire not to be contacted via email or phone, avoid contacting said lead on social channels as well.
  6. Do not divulge any proprietary or confidential [company name] information on any social media platform.
  7. Follow any laws pertaining to your social posts including fair use and copyright laws.
  8. Understand that social media posts can be misunderstood. Even though you can delete certain things, once your comments and thoughts are online, many people can see them. Use discretion when placing anything where others can see it online.
06 Mar 16:52

How to Ask for Referrals [+ Free Email Templates]

by (Rick Roberge)

I started my business in 1986 by calling every company I could in the Blue Book. There’s no sugarcoating this: It sucked. I was good at cold calls, but it was still a pain in the neck. My goal became to set up a by-referral only business. Did I succeed? Well, in 1994, I switched my main business line to a private number.

The only way a person could call me is if they knew someone who already had my number. By that time, I had an ironclad referral process, and my business is still thriving today.

When I talk to salespeople, however, I hear the same thing over and over: Referrals are very important, but their referral processes are weak or only moderately effective.

Why the gap? Some of it is in salespeople’s heads. They don’t want to appear needy by asking for help.

But I don’t think you should wait for referrals to come to you sporadically -- you should proactively seek them, no matter what industry you’re in. If you do, you’ll work with more qualified prospects and enjoy a much shorter sales cycle.

You will also virtually eliminate objections of the ilk that the prospect doesn’t trust you. Trust is already built in, thanks to your referrer.

So, how do you ask for referrals? It requires a deft, tactical approach. Below are a few of my tips

How to Ask for Referrals

  1. Don't Expect Immediate Results
  2. Build Value First
  3. Ask, "Who Do You Like?"
  4. Don't Treat Referrals Like Cold Calls
  5. Offer Incentives
  6. Get Specific
  7. Develop a Referral Mindset

Before getting into role plays and email templates, here are some general rules around building a referral process to keep in mind.

1. Don’t expect immediate results

Referrals can be an extremely effective way to grow a business, but they’re a snowball strategy rather than an explosive one. Don’t expect immediate results.

2. Build value first

You can certainly ask for client referrals immediately after closing the deal -- but I wouldn’t recommend it. Wait until you provided your clients with unparalleled service. They’ll be more likely to share names of trusted colleagues with you once they know you haven’t just been trying to get them to sign.

Share relevant content with them, stay in touch after the close, and let them know when your company releases new products or features that would benefit them. Reach out three-to-six months after you close their business, and ask for referrals only if you’ve delighted them thus far.

3. Ask, “Who do you like?"

When I first started seeking referrals, I’d ask customers “Who do you know?" I’d get names, yes, but I’d often get referrals of contacts they didn’t have strong relationships with.

To counter this, I changed my question to “Who do you like?" to ensure I get referred to people my customer has close working relationships with. When you receive referrals of people your clients have, at best, passing or lukewarm relationships with, they’re not much better than cold walls. Ask for people they like, and you’ll benefit from the closeness and trust that relationship already has.

4. Don’t treat referrals like cold calls

Because they’re not. Enter into a conversation with a referral with a much friendlier tone. Play up the relationship you have with the referrer, and act like you’re already in their inner circle -- because, in a way, you are.

When appropriate, ask your referrer if their referral has any interests or hobbies. When you place your first call, break the ice by saying, “Blair mentioned you know all the best restaurants in Chicago. I’m headed there for work next month and would love some recommendations." You’ll make the referral relaxed, and you’ll bridge the gap between you and the referrer.

5. Offer incentives

You might be offering great client service, but sometimes it’s still not enough to get those referrals. It’s time to incentivize your clients. Offer Amazon gift cards, a discount on next month’s invoice, or a charitable donation to the charity of their choice.

Send this incentive offer to a portion of your happiest clients, and tell them the first 10 to respond with a referral will receive the prize. You might be surprised at how fast those referrals suddenly come to your clients’ minds.

6. Get specific

If “Who do you like" isn’t garnering the qualified leads you need, dial in your request. If you’re selling automobiles, call up a buyer a few months after they purchased their car and ask how they like their new car.

Once you’ve ascertained they’re happy and there’s nothing else you can do to improve their experience, you might ask, “Do you have any friends who are looking for a new car?" You might even joke with them a little by saying, “Or friends who need a new car but just don’t know it yet?"

7. Develop a referral mindset

If you want to get referrals, you should also give referrals. This is what I call a “referral mindset." Help your contacts and acquaintances grow their businesses by hooking them up with people in your network, and they’ll feel inclined to return the favor.

Referral Role Play Exercises

Setting the stage for referrals

While I'd never recommend asking a prospect for referrals, I would recommend you set the stage for a future request. Here's how to practice this scenario with your fellow salespeople with a role play exercise:

Salesperson: "It seems as though you’re a pretty sharp guy. I don’t know where this process is going to end up, but can I ask you a question?"

Prospect: "Sure."

Salesperson: "Have you ever done business with someone you really liked a lot? Someone who you felt over-delivered? Can you think of one example in particular?"

Prospect: "I have, and I can think of a service that exceeded my expectations."

Salesperson: "Can I ask -- how many people did you tell about them?"

Prospect: "I told [x number] of people."

Salesperson: "If we end up working together and I deliver to you that same kind of experience, would you keep it to yourself or would you share it?"

There are two ways the conversation can go from here -- either the prospect says they would definitely share, or they say they might or would not. If you get the first response, you've laid the groundwork for referrals. The second response is trickier.

In the event of an “I wouldn’t or “I’m not sure, I recommend following up with:

Salesperson: "What could I do to change your mind there? Is this a topic we could revisit if/when I earn your business and exceed expectations?"

I find the prospect usually backtracks and says they would be willing to tell friends. In the slim chance they stick to their guns, it’s good to find out early, as this might signal they're not a good fit for your business.

Asking for a referral

Once I sign a new customer, I let enough time pass to produce some results. I want the client to decide whether they're pleased with my work or not. This could take a week, or it could be a few months, but when I'm satisfied I've made an impression, I follow up by asking directly for referrals:

Salesperson: "You told me you’re happy with my work thus far. Have you told anybody about what we’ve done together?"

Customer: "No."

Salesperson: "Is it because you’re not pleased with the outcomes?"

Customer: "No, we’re pretty happy."

Salesperson: "Well then, do you think what we do together would be beneficial to your clients, vendors, or competitors?"

Customer: "I don’t want you working with my competitors, but maybe some of my vendors."

Salesperson: "Your vendors then -- do you have a favorite? Do they sell to other people you know?"

Customer: "Yeah, we have a good relationship."

Salesperson: "And are any of your favorite vendors trying to grow their businesses?"

Customer: "Yes, a few in particular."

Salesperson: "Okay. In that case, if you called or sent an email and said ‘I’ve been working with Rick for six months, and we’re starting to do some pretty interesting stuff. I know you’re growing your business, so I thought I’d put you two together,' would they like you for that or not like you?"

If your customer thinks that would be fine to do, send out the email template below.

If your customer is on the fence, work to reframe the situation to assure them they’d be helping the referred party, not setting a money-hungry salesperson on their trail. Emphasize your purpose is to grow businesses -- or whatever your company’s mission may be -- and not to be a hard-pitching nuisance.

Referral Email Sample

When requesting a referral, you want to keep the focus on your client and their happiness. You don't want to appear like a lead-hungry salesperson who's done with them and ready to move on to their friends.

Instead, only ask for a referral after first ensuring they're happy with your product/service and can think of no way in which their experience could be improved. Then, gently ask if they have a friend or industry colleague you might be able to achieve similar results with. Here's an example:


Hello [Client name],

I'm so glad to hear you're happy with the results of working with [Your company name] so far. I knew we could help, and I'm pleased you're seeing results so quickly.

Since things are going to well, I found myself wondering if you have any colleagues at similar companies who would benefit from our [product/service]. I would love to help them achieve similar growth.


[Your name]


This is friendly, focuses on your customer's success, and is hopeful you can help one of their friends at another company achieve the same results. Who could say no to that?

Referral Email Template

If you have a favorable response to the email above, reply with, "Great, I have an easy email template I'll share with you. All you have to do is press send!" Provide them with the email template below, and you'll make it simple for customers to refer you:



I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I've been working with [Salesperson name] for a few months. The other day, I was talking with her about some of the things she and I have done, and I realized I should put you two together. So...

[Referral], meet [Salesperson, with a LinkedIn profile URL].

[Salesperson], meet [Referral, with a LinkedIn profile URL].

Can I leave the rest to you guys?

Talk to you both later.


[Your name]


The customer isn’t asked to explain what the salesperson does. It's not their job to sell the referral.

Phrasing it in this manner builds on the mutual respect between customer and referral by implying the referral can give the salesperson the benefit of the doubt. Also, because both the customer and the salesperson are on the email, it would be appropriate for either to follow up.

After sending this referral template, I usually check in a week or two later with my customer and ask -- gently -- if they sent it out. If they haven’t, I reply that it’s no problem, and I do not ask again.

If, on the other hand, they have sent it, and I have not been included on a reply, I ask if the customer got a “No, thank you" from the referral. If that’s the case, I cross that referral off my list. If there was no reply at all, I ask if they would like me to reach out directly.

This approach to getting referrals has worked for me, and it will work for you. Don’t wait for referrals to trickle in -- formalize your process, and launch it today.

HubSpot CRM

06 Mar 16:52

Why B2B Financial Service Companies Can Benefit From ABM

by Sudhir Kumar

As a marketer who has worked in the financial industry for some years I can understand the challenge financial service companies face, none more than finding new and improved ways to grow their business in an increasingly competitive landscape. Whether your selling banking solutions, leasing, invoice finance, insurance or asset management services, your key focus should be talking to your target audience on their terms. By this, I mean presenting the right information, in the right format, on the right channels to the right audience at the right time. Easy? Well, it is if you know how.

Account Based Marketing (ABM) is an approach that allows you to focus your marketing on key accounts, the accounts that are the best fit, you want the most and will bring in the most revenue/repeat business. ABM also allows you to expand into these accounts so you are strengthening the relationship whilst maximising business opportunities.

The concept of targeting and nurturing high-value accounts has been around for some time. What’s new is the ABM approach, methodology and technology that makes this strategy manageable and simple to implement.


So why do I think financial service companies can benefit from ABM? Well, for starters the buyer and buying process has changed thanks to the IoT. Which is why it’s time to rethink the approach to the new buyer’s journey and put in place strategies that are tailored to nurturing them through the new buyer’s journey.

I’ve already implemented this within the financial services industry and one of the key benefits I found that an ABM approach had to offer was that you can adjust the journey and touch points based upon the targeted accounts, business health and growth.

Digital Trends To Digest

Benefits of ABM

ROI –According to ITSMA almost 85% of marketers who measure ROI describe Account Based Marketing as delivering higher returns than any other marketing approach, with half of those marketers citing significantly higher returns.

Increased Engagement – Engaging with your targeted accounts on the correct channels by giving them relevant and valuable content is perfect. Demandbase reported that 83% of marketers said that one of the top benefits of ABM is the increased engagement with target accounts.

Shorten Sales Cycle – With ABM you remove unqualified leads which the sales cycle and allows you to focus on the accounts most likely to purchase from you.

Deal Size – You can identify which accounts generated the most revenue and use this as a profile to target other accounts and fill up your ABM funnel. You ideally want to look at purchase history, sales feedback, account profiles and buyer, to name a few.

Customer Retention – ITSMA reported that almost 85% of marketing professionals said that ABM provided huge benefits in terms of retaining and expanding their current client relationships. The fact that ABM is so focused on customer accounts means that marketing and sales activities are far more customer-driven.

Sales & Marketing Alignment – ABM marketers speak the same language and have the same knowledge as the salespeople they work alongside. They have to work closely with sales to accurately identify target accounts, map them out, and align with sales initiatives. To back up the above Sirius Decisions reported that B2B organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieved 24% faster three-year revenue growth, and 27% faster three-year profit growth.

Few things to consider

ABM is more than a strategy and approach, it’s a culture and it needs to be embedded in the business. To get buy-in from the business it needs to be championed from the top (management) down.

For ABM to be manageable you will need technology and this is where marketing automation is crucial, it will act as your command centre, as you can create and manage all of your touch points across your customer journey and lifecycle. With this technology in place, you can strengthen your messaging so they are more tailored, timely and relevant, plus you can track engagement which gives you a clearer picture of the buyer’s preferences.

With ABM, you don’t stop communicating or providing touchpoints once an account has been won as there is opportunity for repeat business and the chance to turn them into an advocate, so again automation will allow you to manage this process so all your leads, prospects and customers are being nurtured consistently based on their preferences and needs.

Final Word

Hopefully, this has given you food for thought. I’ve implemented ABM for businesses in Software, Technology, Automotive and Financial industry’s so I’m basing this blog and approach to my experiences. I would love to get the feedback from Sales Directors, National Account Managers, CEOs, Marketers etc who work in the financial sector.

06 Mar 16:51

Conquering Digital Demand Generation: 8 Disciplines You Must Master

by Triniti Burton

We’ve said it time and time again. B2B marketing is rapidly evolving at a pace that can be challenging to keep up with.

The skills a marketer needed to generate leads and demand successfully in 2005 aren’t the same strategies and tactics that drive results in 2018.

While some core skills haven’t changed that much (marketers still need creativity and empathy) and some offline B2B marketing channels, such as in-person events and direct mail, still have an important place in many demand generation strategies… it’s impossible to deny the fact that digital channels are advancing at a breakneck speed.

In 2018, a successful demand gen strategy must incorporate various inbound and paid digital marketing channels. B2B marketers need to master many different digital domains to effectively drive full-funnel demand. Mastering these 8 digital demand gen skills is critical to demand generation success in 2018.

8 Crucial Digital Demand Generation Skills

1. Multi-Channel Content Creation

B2B marketers are tasked with scaling campaign and brand messages across many different digital channels and platforms.

Best practices for digital web content creation have evolved significantly, and more importantly, digital content channels have become more distinct. Marketers need to always create content for every channel their buyer personas use extensively.

In 2017, the Content Marketing Institute’s 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report revealed the average B2B marketer was creating content for 8 distinct channels.

In addition to blogs and social media, many B2B organizations are beginning to generate demand with new channels for digital content delivery, including online presentations, interactive tools, digital magazines, mobile apps and podcasts.

2. Video Production

Did you know that, according to HubSpot, 43% of people want to see more video content from marketers?

Video content isn’t just a tool for B2C marketing. The 2017 CMI survey revealed that 30% of B2B marketers believe video content will be “most critical” to their success in 2018.

B2B marketers don’t necessarily need to learn advanced video editing techniques – although it certainly can’t hurt. Some of the best content for B2B audiences includes value-focused webinars, influencer videos and behind-the-scenes video clips.

3. Audio Marketing

67 million Americans listen to at least one podcast per month, according to Convince and Convert. Among B2B decision-makers and other consumers, the demand for fresh, valuable podcast content is growing steadily.

Mastering audio marketing can enable B2B marketers to offer more multimedia content. Podcasts can feel more personal than written blogs, but they also don’t carry the same relatively high content creation costs as video.

Capturing the demand for podcasts and translating it into B2B demand may require today’s marketing pros to master the basics of podcasting, including audio recording, distribution and podcast promotion.

4. Authentic Social Media

Forrester research has discovered that 87% of B2B marketers say they struggle to produce content that truly engages their buyers.


According to the research firm’s analysis, marketers tend to focus on creating deals, not on building relationships. Using social media channels to cast your brand in an authentic light is crucial to winning the trust of B2B decision makers in 2018.

Social media can be a powerful platform for B2B brands to showcase their customers, provide a behind-the-scenes look at their company and provide high-value content.

One B2B brand that nailed the use of Instagram is Salesforce. Instead of using the social media network for run-of-the-mill promotions, they use it to document their high-energy staff having fun and engaging in community service activities.

5. Email Nurturing

The demand generation marketers’ success isn’t measured only by leads generated. It’s measured in full-funnel metrics, including how effectively marketing-qualified leads are nurtured into sales-ready opportunities.

Lead nurturing is a unique digital skill for demand gen marketers because it’s not “just” technology, it’s a heavily-human skillset. Lead nurturing requires great content, but it also requires effectively using marketing automation technologies and other tools.

To maximize full-funnel demand, marketing organizations must be able to:

  • Effectively build a full-funnel content roadmap
  • Create content for every stage of the buyer’s journey
  • Develop visually-appealing, optimized emails
  • Produce a high-volume of lead nurturing tracks
  • Optimize nurture track performance often

6. Paid Content Distribution

Content distribution is, by many accounts, even more critical to the success of your B2B marketing in 2018 than content creation.

Marketers must not only master owned channels such as their websites and social media profiles; they need to develop skills to manage paid advertising and content syndication across the web. The skills needed to maximize paid advertising spend in 2018 can encompass a wide range of platforms, ad types and techniques, like content syndication, display ads, paid search and social media.

Mature demand generation programs develop sufficient automation at the top-of-funnel to measure various combinations of channels, partners, audiences and assets. They apply these insights in real-time to optimize campaign performance mid-stream. While some marketers manage this process manually, most demand generation professionals find that top-funnel automation technologies simplify the complex art of paid demand generation.

7. A/B Testing

Increasingly, digital demand generation marketers are called upon to think like scientists.

If you can measure it, you can test it.

Running A/B or split tests enables marketers to optimize the performance of their digital demand generation efforts at every stage of the funnel, from paid content distribution to bottom-funnel email campaigns.

Fortunately, many of today’s best demand gen tools provide built-in capabilities for split testing, allowing marketers to translate real-time performance insights into campaign results.

8. Analytics & Attribution

How do you know that your B2B marketing organization’s efforts are driving revenue?

Without analytics and attribution, you don’t. Marketers can’t afford to ignore performance data from their automation platform, CRM, demand generation software or other tools. In fact, they need to embrace analytics and attribution, develop a culture of learning and commit to improving in real-time.

You could try to measure the full-funnel performance of complex, multi-channel demand generation campaigns by combining multi-sourced data in Excel, but it’s not especially efficient. Today’s analytics and insight-driven marketers are generally best served by technologies that simplify performance measurement and optimization in complex B2B marketing environments.

Driving Digital Demand Gen Success in 2018

There’s nothing simple about demand generation, especially given the complex, varied digital skill sets that are needed to launch a successful demand generation campaign in 2018. B2B marketers are no longer expected just to capture leads – they need to create content for an array of digital channels, launch multimedia content resources, use social, embrace email nurturing and measure everything.

Scaling demand generation is never simple, especially in an age where marketers face the choice of adapting or getting left behind. While there’s no changing the pace of digital innovation, adopting the right demand generation software stack and smarter processes can create the operational efficiency you need to evolve your skills and strategy.

Curious how today’s most effective B2B marketers are improving their digital demand generation game? Discover tons more strategies and insight in the free eBook: 155 Tips & Tactics from Demand Marketing’s Top 40 Game Changers.

06 Mar 14:00

The Sales Pipeline Velocity Calculator {Download}

by Brian Hansford

By Brian Hansford, VP of Client Services at Heinz Marketing

What is Sales Pipeline Velocity?

Sales Pipeline Velocity measures the speed at which prospects and qualified opportunities move from one end of the funnel to the other. Measuring Sales Pipeline Velocity is one of the best methods for B2B marketers to measure the health of revenue operations. Sales Pipeline Velocity is a great starting point for any B2B org that wants to build out a Marketing Performance Management strategy. It’s commonly listed as one of the top B2B marketing and sales KPIs.

Using our calculator helps identify potential problem areas and also provides visibility to how sales can increase in the future. Measuring velocity also helps align marketing and sales together for a common revenue goal.

Why is Pipeline Velocity Important?

The velocity formula uses 4 attributes which each have a significant material impact on sales performance and pipeline velocity:

  1. The number of active qualified opportunities
  2. The monthly average closed deal value
  3. Monthly deal win rate percentage
  4. The average length of sales cycle as a % of a 12 month period

Each of the four attributes can reveal areas that need optimization.  Opportunity creation, win rates, sales cycle time, and average deal value can likely all be improved with your organization.  Slight improvements in each area can increase overall pipeline velocity.

Metrics are important when they are used in the right context. Activity metrics aren’t usually the best to use when trying to show revenue performance.  Show me one CEO that doesn’t want reliable facts and data that shows how much their marketing team drives revenue. Email performance and site visits are all well and good as long as they are presented in the right context and not as strategic measures of success. Pipeline velocity will help you identify cause and effect information that directly impacts revenue.

You can download your own free copy here. We provide detailed instructions on how to use the calculator to determine your company’s sales pipeline velocity.  Enter the performance from the last few months and see what reveals itself as areas to focus on and improve.  Let us know how this works for you!


The post The Sales Pipeline Velocity Calculator {Download} appeared first on Heinz Marketing.

05 Mar 17:04

Sales Executives Discuss Sales Navigator and the Future of Sales [Video]

by Judy Tian
  • sales-navigator-success-stories

The B2B sales process has changed dramatically over the past couple of decades. Email has replaced the cold call and evolved buyer preferences have made the unscheduled sales conversation almost obsolete.

Below you’ll find thoughts from four executives on the evolution of sales and the role Sales Navigator plays in helping them meet their objectives.

Then and Now: The Sales Process Has Changed

Most buyers would say the changes described above are improvements over some of the more intrusive experiences of the past. With a wealth of information at their fingertips, informed buyers prefer to buy at their own pace. In this environment, unsolicited messages that lack context and timely relevance are destined for deletion.

Does that mean sellers hands are tied? Not if you have access to the right people and insights. Sales professionals who adopt consultative, buyer-first mindsets and invest in building authentic networks will succeed in reaching their goals. LinkedIn Sales Navigator can help.

Sales Professional, Get to Know Thy Customer with Sales Navigator

These days, buyers have higher expectations than in the past. They’re don’t just expect a customized solution, they expect a personalized experience while pursuing it. And the only way to deliver a personalized experience is to know more about the people you’re personalizing the experience for.

“Sales Navigator enables the best go-to-market motions. I can think through who to approach, what that buyer cares about, and how to engage at a level that accelerates the sales cycle,” says Aaron Feigin, VP of Marketing & Communications for Sumo Logic.

Use the Power of a Collective Network to Reach More Prospects

A Rolodex stuffed with business cards used to be the sign of a well-connected person. Today, the quantity of connections you have is still useful, but equally important is the quality of the relationships maintained.

Oliver L’Abbe, VP of Sales for G2 Crowd, looks for ways to reduce the sales cycle and advance prospects toward purchase decisions. Team Link, a feature of Sales Navigator, allows his team to use the combined network of connected individuals at the company to gain visibility into buyers which sales reps are not yet connected with. This allows sales pros to send more personalized, higher quality InMail messages to prospective buyers using up-to-date profile and company information.

LinkedIn is Where Professionals Go to Learn, Extend their Network, and Grow Business

Over 500 million people use LinkedIn to grow professionally, follow influencers in their industry, and to gain knowledge. DigitalMarketer VP of Sales and Monetization Marcus Murphy believes the environment LinkedIn creates puts buyers at ease.

The Professional Network for the Modern Era

There’s a saying, work smarter, not harder. For Phillip Clark, SVP of Global Accounts at Rentokil Initial, LinkedIn is the ideal resource for proactive sales professionals. The ability to generate warm introductions from 1st and 2nd connections is extremely powerful.

“We used to spend too much time on the phone. It was a thankless task taking a lot of hours. LinkedIn changed everything. There, business professionals volunteer their information, what makes them tick, on a network you can access in an appropriate, professional way to have genuinely meaningful conversations.”

Are you inspired to research Sales Navigator further? Discover more information from real users on our G2 Crowd page.

To keep pace with the latest trends in effective selling, subscribe today to the LinkedIn Sales Blog


05 Mar 17:04

What Happens When Data Scientists and Designers Work Together

by Jon Wettersten
crosailes/Getty Images

Rise Science came to IDEO with a challenge. The young startup had built a robust data platform for college and professional athletes to track their sleep and adjust their behavior so that they played at peak performance. But for the players, the experience was challenging. Rise expected athletes to look at data-driven charts and graphs to determine what decisions to make next, but players struggled to find those insights. Rise was convinced they just needed easier-to-read charts and graphs.

As IDEO designers and Rise’s data scientists spent time with players and coaches, they discovered that Rise didn’t have a data visualization problem, they had a user experience problem. Charts and graphs were far less important than knowing when to go to bed each night and when to wake up the next morning. Within a few weeks, the charts and graphs moved into the background of their app and an alarm clock and a chat tool took center stage.

Rise Science’s app, before (left) and after (right) user research-informed design.

In the 18 months since relaunching their service, Rise Science has signed up over 15 of the most elite pro and collegiate sports teams, as well as ​several companies who hope to improve employee performance and wellbeing through better sleep habits.

This example shows how human-centered data science can result from interdisciplinary teams incorporating design thinking into their approach. Instead of a version of data science that is narrowly focused on researching new statistical models or building better data visualizations, a design-thinking approach recognizes data scientists as creative problem solvers. We’re not suggesting that the disciplines of data science and design merge, but rather that if practitioners work together and learn each other’s art they will produce better outcomes.

Many of the techniques we use in our human-centered design process at IDEO—user research, analogous inspiration, sketching and prototyping—work well with data-driven products, services, and experiences.

User Research

Data by themselves are inert—dumb, raw material. Making things smart will mean designing with data in a way that reflects and responds to the functional, social, and emotional behavior of users. If you start with the needs and insights of people rather than leading with data, you can gain insights through the combination of qualitative design research and exploratory data analysis. This hybrid approach can radically change the user experience for the better and be a true differentiator.

For example, Rise and IDEO visited college athletes in dorm rooms and training facilities to develop a deep understanding of their day-to-day needs – a common design-thinking practice known as user research. We observed that nearly every component of the player’s life is scheduled, measured, and optimized. Giving them more data to digest was simply too much to ask. We also learned that the onboarding experience and service touchpoints like in-the-moment sleep coaching were just as important to the athletes’ success as the data visuals tied to their sleep.

Data scientists see the world in unique ways, but they can only leverage that point of view when they have a chance to go out into the world and spend time with human beings. Engaging data scientists in design research produces powerful insights and, more importantly, unlocks empathy for the people who will be touched by the data engines they develop.

Analogous Inspiration

Analogous inspiration is another design-thinking technique that data scientists can add to their toolkit. That approach was key to the success of a project with Procter & Gamble. When the global organization deploys new technologies, they invite 50 key employees to a two-day training summit. When those employees return home, they are charged with teaching others the technology. While the training itself was effective, the process of hand-picking key employees was fraught. Turns out the people who were picked were not influential enough to spread their new knowledge throughout the company.

Our Data Science team found analogous inspiration in research on how diseases spread through social networks. In most cases of epidemiology, we are interested in disrupting and preventing the spread of a disease. In this case, we wanted the disease (a new technology) to spread as quickly as possible through the social fabric of Procter & Gamble. We wanted to engineer a technology pandemic.

The epidemiologic model allowed us to discover that the hand-selected employees, while close to senior leaders, were too centrally located to meaningfully spread something new throughout the organization. We suggested a different approach: Select participants who were distributed throughout the organization, but strategically located to spread the technology through the social fabric of the organization. We tried hundreds of millions of combinations of people that were best positioned to collectively spread this new technology. The initiative was so successful that the resulting group of ambassadors have been reused for several other change management programs.

Sketching and Prototyping

Data scientists can use sketches or prototypes to get user feedback, just the way product designers do. Although there’s a fog of ambiguity that descends during the exploratory data analysis phase, using the designer’s trick of making data visual helps your brain see patterns that suggest a few ways forward.

The key here is to not be afraid to iterate: A pattern might lead you to look at the data in a particular way which then causes you to look at patterns in a completely new light. You might also choose to return to exploratory data analysis to pivot or  change directions altogether. Start with a lot of skepticism, as the data could be dirty or missing fields, hence indicating patterns that are off-course.

In another Procter & Gamble project, for example, we began with simple sketches which were shared with key stakeholders to get their input. Before ever writing a line of code we were able to learn what a desirable interface might look like.

It’s hard and expensive to build a data science team, so it’s no surprise that most companies task these teams only with “data science work.” But engaging data scientists in all stages of the design thinking process will pay off in incalculable ways. Interdisciplinary collaboration that pulls data scientists away from their screens and out into the world produces powerful results. It transforms data from a crude tool to measure your business into a sophisticated tool that helps your business grow.

05 Mar 17:03

How Do Your Employees Look on LinkedIn?

by Colleen McKenna

illustrade / Pixabay

It’s review time. If you have colleagues or employees on LinkedIn, it’s time to understand LinkedIn beyond your individual profile. Consider your profile and those of your staff/colleagues as the collective view of who you are and who your organization is. Everything in LinkedIn begins with individuals; that’s the beauty of LinkedIn. It allows every member to showcase themselves and their professional brand.

Your employees are your best evangelists. You want them to look good online. You want them to understand how LinkedIn works. You want them to build, nurture and network with their Connections. It serves both your employees and your business well.

Remember, you don’t own their LinkedIn profile so be careful. You can, however, make suggestions that will elevate how everyone in your organization appears and uses LinkedIn. In the end, your employees will be grateful. They need the insight.

Maybe you’re not the CEO or owner but you get and use LinkedIn strategically and know your organization is missing the mark. Consider sharing this post with your manager. In a social business world, everyone has a responsibility to better position their organization.

So, how good do your employees look on LinkedIn?

When was the last time you or someone in your marketing or human resources department reviewed your employees’ LinkedIn profiles? Here’s a framework for reviewing LinkedIn Profiles. Perhaps this is an exercise to delegate to your managers; not just your marketing department.

Review your employees’ LinkedIn profiles for the following: (don’t forget to also review your own profile and those of your executive team).

  1. Does the individual have a professional photo?
  2. Are they describing the organization and their role accurately?
  3. Is your company logo displayed in their Experience section? (see LinkedIn Company page below)
  4. How complete is their Profile?
    • Summary
    • Job description under each position in their Experience section (especially their most current position)
    • Education
  5. Have they included extra Sections?
    • Volunteer Experience
    • Organizations
    • Certifications
    • Publications
    • Projects (great if you have a company-wide community or social cause)
  6. Have they included any additional media in their Summary or Experience section?
    • This could be a pdf, video, SlideShare presentation, etc.
  7. How accurate is their LinkedIn content?
  8. How many Connections do they have on LinkedIn?
    • We don’t advocate having a large network simply to have a large network, but for some, it’s crucial if they are using LinkedIn as a business tool.
    • Salespeople and in-house recruiters should have 500+ connections
    • Benchmark the number and use as part of their professional development plan
  9. How many Groups are they members of?
    • Groups provide the opportunity to increase network size without having to Connect with others.
    • Individuals can join up to 50 Groups. This is necessary to create greater access and exposure.
    • Benchmark the number and use as part of their professional development plan.

This will provide a good overview. You will see patterns, gaps and, undoubtedly, areas for improvement.

Does your company have a LinkedIn Company page?

You better. More than 13 million organizations have a LinkedIn Company Page. And if you already do, go check it out. Your LinkedIn Company Page needs regular attention and curation.

  1. Is your logo uploaded?
  2. Who are the LinkedIn Company Page administrators? You should have at least two to three people in various areas of your organization.
  3. Is the Overview and Description filled out?
  4. Is there a link to your website?
  5. Are all of your employees linked to your LinkedIn Company page? Are they all current employees?
    • Removing previous employees can be a challenge and you may need LinkedIn’s help with this.
  6. Do you have any content posting to your LinkedIn Company page?
    • Content is good and necessary
    • What does the engagement look like?
  7. Who is following your LinkedIn Company Page?
    • Pay attention. There could be potential customers, employees and strategic partners following you.
  8. Do you have any Showcase Pages?
    • If so, do you have specific content for those Showcase Pages?

Start here and you will have a great overview of how you, your employees and your organization looks on LinkedIn and on all the search engines.

05 Mar 17:02

Eight Steps to Tie Sales Figures Back to Your Experiential Marketing Campaigns [Infographic]

Do you know how well your experiential marketing campaigns are performing? Many marketers don't, but these tips can help you set key metrics and see ROI. Read the full article at MarketingProfs
05 Mar 16:54

Blockchain Technology is Penetrating Every Entrepreneurial Pursuit

by Jimmy Rodela

Blockchain Technology

More and more entrepreneurs are seeing the role of the blockchain technology as an essential part in boosting current businesses and producing disruptive industries.

Penny Stoker, the Global Leader of HR Services in EY, said the technology can be applied in the human resources industry. For instance, online companies that link employees with potential jobs and employers with suitable workers can create ways to verify the records of an applicant.

In the same way blockchain serves as a public ledger that records transactions, an HR-applied blockchain system may verify the candidate’s employment history. These details may include job responsibilities in previous employers or can be more exact in details such as start and end date of job contract.

Disrupting the Financial Landscape

Mainly, because of its transparency and effectivity in tracking transactions from sender to receiver, blockchain has been suspected of making a disruption in the financial industry. The technology may just be the solution to recording an account’s credit history. This way, breaches in the security of highly sensitive identification details like what the infamous Equifax breach presented can be avoided.

Tom Golway, chief technologist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise explained that blockchain would also fasttrack legal agreements between businesses. For Alicia Tillman, chief marketing officer at SAP, blockchain can help track the supply chain of products rolled out in the market. This way, consumers will know where the products they purchased were sourced down from the raw materials used. In turn, businesses will be able to identify in an instant which part of the chain caused its product to falter.

Transparency and Accuracy of Blockchain

In the core of blockchain technology is its capability to provide transparency that can be verified instantly and is accurate. It is this aspect that would help startup ventures gain easier access to funding which many have been deprived of amid the tight competition with developed businesses. Instead of traveling and exhausting hours on getting funding, venture startups can expedite the process with blockchain.

One of the firms helping fund tech startups easily through blockchain is Global Blockchain Technologies Corp. (OTCMKTS: BLKCF). It is one of the emerging firms today that is making a point on the significance of the technology.

The firm strongly sees blockchain as a game changer in a world of fiat currencies as demand for a currency that cannot be continuously created and depreciated will grow. The company believes blockchain is in its infancy. Global Blockchain aims to professionalize the industry with the strong virtual currency available in the market.

The firm is a blockchain startup accelerator that is focused on selecting the best digital tokens that would give investors maximum return. It provides its investors with a basket of blue chip crypto holdings at very low cost through mining. Aside from this, money managers who place their bets on Global Technologies will have access to coveted pre-initial coin offering (ICO), financing and ICO financing.

Recently, the firm has announced a stock split where shareholders will see its stocks in the firm double. The move is expected to liberate the value of the firm’s mining division and assets, making the firm a potential disruptor in the market of accelerator for blockchain startups.

05 Mar 16:52

Sales Executives Discuss Sales Navigator and the Future of Sales [Video]

by Judy Tian
  • sales-navigator-success-stories

The B2B sales process has changed dramatically over the past couple of decades. Email has replaced the cold call and evolved buyer preferences have made the unscheduled sales conversation almost obsolete.

Below you’ll find thoughts from four executives on the evolution of sales and the role Sales Navigator plays in helping them meet their objectives.

Then and Now: The Sales Process Has Changed

Most buyers would say the changes described above are improvements over some of the more intrusive experiences of the past. With a wealth of information at their fingertips, informed buyers prefer to buy at their own pace. In this environment, unsolicited messages that lack context and timely relevance are destined for deletion.

Does that mean sellers hands are tied? Not if you have access to the right people and insights. Sales professionals who adopt consultative, buyer-first mindsets and invest in building authentic networks will succeed in reaching their goals. LinkedIn Sales Navigator can help.

Sales Professional, Get to Know Thy Customer with Sales Navigator

These days, buyers have higher expectations than in the past. They’re don’t just expect a customized solution, they expect a personalized experience while pursuing it. And the only way to deliver a personalized experience is to know more about the people you’re personalizing the experience for.

“Sales Navigator enables the best go-to-market motions. I can think through who to approach, what that buyer cares about, and how to engage at a level that accelerates the sales cycle,” says Aaron Feigin, VP of Marketing & Communications for Sumo Logic.

Use the Power of a Collective Network to Reach More Prospects

A Rolodex stuffed with business cards used to be the sign of a well-connected person. Today, the quantity of connections you have is still useful, but equally important is the quality of the relationships maintained.

Oliver L’Abbe, VP of Sales for G2 Crowd, looks for ways to reduce the sales cycle and advance prospects toward purchase decisions. Team Link, a feature of Sales Navigator, allows his team to use the combined network of connected individuals at the company to gain visibility into buyers which sales reps are not yet connected with. This allows sales pros to send more personalized, higher quality InMail messages to prospective buyers using up-to-date profile and company information.

LinkedIn is Where Professionals Go to Learn, Extend their Network, and Grow Business

Over 500 million people use LinkedIn to grow professionally, follow influencers in their industry, and to gain knowledge. DigitalMarketer VP of Sales and Monetization Marcus Murphy believes the environment LinkedIn creates puts buyers at ease.

The Professional Network for the Modern Era

There’s a saying, work smarter, not harder. For Phillip Clark, SVP of Global Accounts at Rentokil Initial, LinkedIn is the ideal resource for proactive sales professionals. The ability to generate warm introductions from 1st and 2nd connections is extremely powerful.

“We used to spend too much time on the phone. It was a thankless task taking a lot of hours. LinkedIn changed everything. There, business professionals volunteer their information, what makes them tick, on a network you can access in an appropriate, professional way to have genuinely meaningful conversations.”

Are you inspired to research Sales Navigator further? Discover more information from real users on our G2 Crowd page.

To keep pace with the latest trends in effective selling, subscribe today to the LinkedIn Sales Blog


05 Mar 16:52

How to Align Your Sales Pitch with C-Suite Buyers

by Sharon Gillenwater

A little more than six years ago, my partner Lee Demby wrote that when talking with customers about the value of C-Level executive insights, he sometimes heard,

“But we don’t sell to the C-level.”

Times have changed. Technology vendors have woken up to the reality that C-Level conversations are inevitable and necessary. Why? Because major technology purchases are increasingly tied to corporate-wide, digital transformation efforts, which are largely being driven by C-Level players.

Not convinced? Let’s look for a moment at Hershey Company. President and CEO Michele Buck told Fortune in October 2017 that she plans to take Hershey beyond chocolate and turn it into an “innovation snacking powerhouse.” She’s open to mergers and acquisitions to accelerate growth into spaces their brands currently can’t travel – and she is driving a focus on efforts in collaboration with key brick-and-mortar retailers and established e-commerce players, and leveraging and commercially activating consumer data, using predictive analytics, machine learning, and big data sets to identify candy and snack growth opportunities.

This is useful insight about Hershey that an astute salesperson should be able to use to their advantage. Even if you don’t actually cross paths with Buck and are engaged instead with lower-level executives and middle managers, it would serve you well to understand her agenda and integrate her words into a pitch to your contacts at Hershey.

Here’s another example. James Hackett, Ford Motor Company’s relatively new President and CEO, explained to Fortune that he wants the company to be “fitter,” and is slashing costs by $14 billion over five years by investing less in manufacturing and more in electric vehicles, trucks, and SUVs. Hackett outlined a six-point strategy for Ford in October 2017 that calls for cost cuts, shifting budget to more profitable trucks and SUVs, moving some manufacturing to China, simplifying and modernizing factories and model designs, and pushing internet connectivity.

Then there’s Charles Scharf, Chairman and CEO of Bank of New York Mellon Corporation. He told analysts in October 2017 that,

“…there is nothing more important than ensuring we have got the best operating environment and core technology platform to build from. It is important that everyone understands that this is a multi-year effort…We have made significant improvements in improving our core platforms, but this is a journey and significant continued investment is necessary…”

He told analysts that the bank spends $2 billion annually on technology and will continue to devote “an outsized amount of our resources” to it. He complained about the complexity of the company’s operating environment, wants to drive efficiency and is developing a “multiyear plan to automate much of the manual work that exists today.”

This alone is a bonanza of information for a technology sales executive. Understanding Scharf’s agenda – and how focused he is on technology, with a budget to support it – is extraordinarily useful as you plot your sales strategy.

Like Buck, Hackett, and Scharf, every year C-Level executives issue a handful of business objectives or initiatives that guide all other activities inside their companies or departments. These can be found in C-Suite interviews, speeches, annual reports, analyst calls, and SEC filings. Under the C-Suite’s direction, all activity and investment must roll up to these initiatives. If you can show a direct connection between your company’s offering and that agenda, your value proposition stands a stronger chance of being considered, embraced and defended by your customer.

Those well-versed in a customer’s C-Suite agenda should be able to answer many of these questions:

  • What are their business goals for the year?
  • What products/solutions are they most focused on?
  • Are they looking to expand internationally or grow domestically?
  • Grow organically or through acquisition?
  • Cut costs or ratchet up R&D/marketing spend/hiring?
  • Are they pro-outsourcing or focused on insourcing?
  • What types of partnerships are they seeking?

Those who haven’t bothered to understand C-Level agendas usually find themselves at a disadvantage. Here are two main issues they often encounter:

  1. An inability to show how their solution supports the customer’s CXO agenda, resulting in a deal that gets nixed by higher ups who don’t see alignment with corporate priorities.
  1. The CXO agenda could have served as a rationale for an even broader set of the vendor’s solutions than is being considered—but since they don’t know what the agenda is, they don’t take advantage of the opportunity.

This brings up another potential stumbling block. If you rely on your champion to educate you without doing your own homework, you may be setting yourself up for a fall. It’s surprisingly common for lower-level executives to not have a firm grasp of their own executive team’s big-picture objectives. Taking the initiative to understand the C-Suite’s priorities can help you avoid that – and even help your champion see the bigger picture and look smarter to their boss.

And finally consider this: if you are in the habit of waiting for RFPs to tell you what a company thinks it needs, you’re missing the boat. The smartest and most successful sales organizations aim to get ahead of RFPs by knowing what the company is trying to accomplish and helping them define what they need to do to get there. That kind of initiative and partnership is what will give you an edge over your competition more than anything else.

The post How to Align Your Sales Pitch with C-Suite Buyers appeared first on OpenView Labs.

05 Mar 16:52

5 Keys to Successful Email Marketing

by Angela Hausman, PhD

successful email marketing

Successful email marketing is a critical, and often overlooked, element of digital marketing.

According to an article on Inc:

But after a couple decades of Nigerian prince schemes, Spanish lotto scams, and mountains of unsolicited spam (which is never a good marketing tactic), how do people feel about email now? Is it still a worthwhile tactic for small-business owners and marketers to pursue?

The simple answer is yes.

Take a look at the graphic below and you’ll see how important successful email marketing is to your bottom line–generating nearly 2X the ROI of the next more cost-effective tactic.

successful email marketing

Image courtesy of Data Mentors

Successful email marketing

Successful email marketing requires 2 tactics: 1) list building and 2) email campaigns.

So, you’ve really got your work cut out for you. Here are some tips to get you started:

List building

Before you can have a successful email marketing campaign, you need a good list. In the bad old days before CAN-SPAM, you could simply buy a list and spam a bunch of folks with your message. Some experts advised against such “cold messaging”, but it worked well if you were very selective in purchasing a list of likely buyers. List buying was an art in those days and I got paid a lot of money to guide businesses on which list purchases were likely to result in high returns. And, selling lists is what kept a lot of small, specialty magazines in business–they provided unique access to highly targeted subscribers.

Now, of course, you can’t buy lists, so you have to develop your own (and comply with CAN-SPAM regulations which you can find by following the link above). Since, the law makes your email client (for instance, Constant Contact, AWeber, or MailChimp) responsible for your violations, they can get hit with a big fine, so they’re invested in keeping you honest in this.

So how do you go about building a list?

  1. Include your sign-up form everywhere-on the home page and each page of your website, in your store (if you’re a brick and mortar), at events, on social platforms …
  2. Offer something (like an ebook, coupon, etc) in exchange for signing up for your email list
  3. Don’t ask for information you don’t need so it’s fast and easy for visitors to sign up. Maybe all you need is an email address and name. Don’t forget you can get additional information after they sign up.
  4. Make your sign-up form obvious without interfering with user experience (I hate those popups that block content until you either sign up or x out). I prefer a small band at the bottom of the screen that asks for an email address or something that pops up as the visitor starts to scroll away from your site. Remember, your website is critical for SEO and you don’t want to mess with anything that reduces visits, bounces, or time on site.
  5. When you send an email, include social sharing and the ability to subscribers to forward your email to a friend. These are great ways to build your list.

Email marketing campaigns

Your email client should make it easy to create attractive and professional email campaigns to subscribers. I use AWeber because of their flexibility and ease of creating campaigns (they recently added drag and drop capabilities).

Here are some things to keep in mind as you craft your campaigns:

  • Your goal. What do you hope to accomplish with the email.
  • Timing — how often, time of day, day of week, etc. Sure, email is available whenever a user wants to view it, but it’s more likely to get opened soon after it’s sent. The better your timing, the better your open rate.
  • Optimize open rates with a great pre-header, the description users see when they check their email. Check out the image below:

successful email marketing

  • Make your email easy to read and inviting on multiple screens (especially mobile) with great design.

Keys to successful email marketing campaigns

1. Strong content

Just like everything in marketing, the message is everything.

  • Make your content (both text and images) attractive and inviting, use lots of white space and a little humor doesn’t hurt. The more an email looks like a personal conversation with a friend, the better it will perform.
  • Personalization doesn’t end with including the person’s name. Make the email look like it was designed especially for each reader.
  • Don’t waste your readers’ time with nonsense: say what you need and provide links to more information.

2. Timing

You don’t want to overload your readers by sending too many emails, but you want to use your email marketing to build loyalty and engagement with your target audience. That’s a tight balancing act.

And, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. A good gauge of the right frequency comes from analytics. If your open rates drop or you start getting complaints or a bunch of folks unsubscribe, you’re probably emailing too often. If you’re not getting folks unsubscribing or complaining, you could probably send more frequent emails.

The key is to send emails when you have something worth saying to your audience.

3. Use marketing automation

Marketing automation often receives a negative knee-jerk reaction because it sounds like you’re treating your subscribers as robots who all get treated the same. But, it’s actually the opposite. Whether you prefer Salesforce or Hubspot or some other marketing automation tool, successful email marketing requires you send the right content to the right people at the right time and that means using marketing automation.

No marketing automation platform works well unless you spend time keeping information up-to-date to ensure the content the subscriber receives is targeted to their product interests, stage in the customer journey, and other key elements, like gender.

4. Use analytics

The wonders of digital marketing provide a plethora of metrics which should guide every marketing decision you make. Here are some metrics you should watch:

  • Subscriber data such as new subscribers and unsubscribes
  • Performance of your email form–I do this by setting up goals in Google Analytics, but AWeber also shows me how many times my form was shown and how many subscribers were generated. I periodically do A/B testing to determine the optimal form, placement, etc.
  • Campaign performance–how many opens, how many clicks, and, if you’ve installed tracking codes, goal completions based on each campaign.

5. Mobile-friendly

Making your content mobile-friendly is a key to successful email marketing. According to Buffer, 47% of emails are opened on a mobile device. Here’s their advice for making your content easier for mobile users:

  • Convert your email to a one column template for an easy mobile fix.
  • Bump up the font size for improved readability on smart phones.
  • Follow the iOS guideline of buttons at least 44 pixels wide by 44 pixels tall.
  • Make the call-to-action obvious and easy to tap. Above the fold is preferable.
  • Consider ergonomics. Many users tap and scroll with their thumb, so keep important tappable elements in the middle of the screen.

The do’s and don’ts of successful email marketing

Here’s a nice infographic if you want more keys to successful email marketing:

successful email marketing

Infographic courtesy of: Campaign Monitor

05 Mar 16:52

Key Marketing Metrics for Buyer Journey Conversions

by kniemisto

As marketers we can get caught up in all of the nuances of specific campaigns, emails opened, calls-to-action clicked, forms filled out, events attended, and more. The challenge is that at times we may not be seeing the forest for the trees. While numerous potential measurements exist, some key marketing metrics can help guide results across your strategy.

In this blog, we’ll take a look at one of those metrics: buyer journey conversions. I’ll cover the details surrounding the purpose, application, technology and benchmarking you can use to develop this key marketing metric.

Let’s step back for a minute and consider that linear buyer journeys rarely take place. The path for each contact to make it through to the ultimate decision to purchase your goods or services is rarely the same. For example, one customer may review information on your website, read a reminder email, talk to your sales team, then work with your sales team to begin evaluating what you have to offer. Another customer may attend an event, fill out a “contact me” form, receive a follow-up email, browse your site, and finally receive a call back from your sales team that converts them to an opportunity.

Both examples show forward progress towards the same outcome, though each took a very different route.

As a marketing consultant, I am consistently asked: “how do we see what path is optimal for getting customers to move forward in their buying journey?” While I do agree that it is very valuable to understand what content and campaigns are making the most impact on customers within the buying journey, I think we can all agree that buying journeys are mostly unique. As a result, we need a key marketing metric to help measure performance across the journey even when individuals take unique paths.

Buyer Journey Velocity Defined

How, then, do we track progress toward an ultimate outcome and how do we align the optimal communication to reach audiences where they are at within their journey?

The answer is a flexible approach to journey tracking with tools that measure forward progress of contacts and that allow you to compare journey status to campaign and communications impact.  The key marketing metric I am referring to is buyer journey velocity or funnel velocity, measured by comparing time in buying stage to amount and types of content consumed.

Buyer journey velocity can help you detect where bottlenecks exist within your sales and marketing process. It can determine overall campaign effectiveness across communications efforts and within target segments, helping your team optimize the marketing mix. Funnel velocity enables you to identify strengths and weaknesses within your approach so that targeted improvements can be made to keep people moving towards a purchase.

With the power to uncover impact across your marketing approach, buyer journey velocity is a key marketing metric.

Getting Started With Buyer Journey Tracking

The first step to getting this key marketing metric set up is to identify the standard stages of your typical buyer journey, both pre- and post-sale.  Leverage previous knowledge of wins, identify effective marketing campaigns, and work with your sales team to define the stages that make the most sense for your company. Start with a general buyer journey and create more specific journeys over time if it becomes apparent that certain industries or audiences need their own tracking.  Most companies can identify a central journey for standard products and product lines to start.

Let’s take a look at a standard buyer journey and review some basic marketing scenarios to uncover how buyer journey velocity can help identify where we see optimal marketing results.


Buyer Journey Example

As seen in the figure above, marketers must first define the stages that match the typical flow of customers towards their desired outcome. It is also possible to monitor progress after achieving an initial objective, for example, once a prospect converts to a customer, it is possible to then measure repeat purchases and even customer advocacy. Teams can then measure more than just customer acquisition, it is possible to monitor the nurturing of existing relationships and the building of lifetime customer value (LTV).

Once stages are identified, campaigns and content should be developed to target conversions within the specific stages. What will become apparent after monitoring results is that content can often have residual or adjacent impact to the target outcome. In other words, content and campaigns developed for one purpose may often time be impacting multiple stages within the buyer journey or even making a more significant impact within stages other than the initially intended goal.

Benchmarking to Define a Baseline

Part of leveraging key marketing metrics such as the buyer journey velocity is initial tracking of results. To do this, it is important to establish benchmarks through previous results. Buyer journey velocity is somewhat of an industry and even company-specific metric so it will be essential to collaborate with marketing peers in other companies to establish initial baselines.

When defining benchmarks, it is vital to properly identify conversion criteria that tightly match the definition for progressing forward into the next stage of the buyer journey. Having access to the right platform will provide the flexibility needed to define conversion criteria with an appropriate level of specificity. This could include specific digital actions (i.e., pages visited, emails opened), targeted interactions (i.e., with sales), score-based thresholds (i.e., score achieved), or data points collected, and even a combination of all of the above.

With an appropriate buyer journey defined and with realistic criteria for measuring progress, it is time to capture customer interactions and results for a test period. The initial testing period will depend upon your typical journey lifecycle, though two to three months of starting information will help the marketing team get a starting idea of what is taking place within campaigns. Data from the buyer journey can then identify the areas of the journey that appear to be taking longer than others.

Evaluating Buyer Journey Velocity

The core focus of this key marketing metric is to help the marketing team identify the average pace that audiences are flowing through towards your desired marketing outcome. Comparing the time in stage, touches per stage, and types of interactions can reveal a world of knowledge about campaign contributions. By starting at the stage level, marketers can compare the rate of conversion to any number of marketing dimensions, helping highlight then identify contributions that are working, need to be improved, or that can be eliminated from the marketing mix.

Marketers can then identify high performing content, best locations for content consumption, and opportunities to eliminate low performing marketing expenses. Cross-referencing the stage, the time in stage, and the number of program successes occurring within each stage can help the marketing team begin to identify the landscape of interactions that are making an impact, taking longer than expected, or not making any impact.

Here are a few useful comparisons and reports to consider:

  • Average time in stage
  • Campaign contributions by stage
  • Channel contributions by stage
  • Last touch by stage
  • Audience type (i.e., industry or role) by time in stage

While simple comparisons, these key marketing metrics can shed light on performance, identify gaps in follow-up and optimize marketing communications investments.  Content and campaigns that are making the most impact can shed light on additional opportunities for results.

A final comparative value that is closely related to buyer journey velocity is the number of touches needed to deliver a stage-level conversion. As shown in the calculation below, it is important to reflect on the amount of investment going into the forward velocity, not just the speed of conversions. Marketing is a balance between effort (investment) and results, so it is important to determine how many touches are needed to drive the outcome.

Average Touches per Stage Level Conversion

When comparing effort to results, benchmarking is equally important to determine if programs represent the optimal marketing mix.  If the buyer journey is taking longer than expected, identify potential touches within the journey that may have delayed a result, or that might have been routed directly to a different customer interaction. This can apply to sales touches, not only marketing touches.

Closing Thoughts

While this is a brief overview of the value and use of buyer journey velocity as a key marketing metric, there is an enormous amount of opportunity for marketers to leverage this measurement. Getting started with the steps listed above will help your team define the best practice journey that matches your audience and objectives. Over time, with a buyer journey in place and initial tracking of both velocity and touches per conversion your marketing team can begin optimizing performance towards greater and greater efficiency.

As a final note, buyer journey velocity has tremendous application to account-based marketing.  Comparing overall account-level velocity can provide insights into the total impact of marketing campaigns on driving revenue results.

I would enjoy hearing your thoughts and comments below as well as ways that you have used buyer journey velocity as a key marketing metric to optimize your campaigns and overall customer engagement.

The post Key Marketing Metrics for Buyer Journey Conversions appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

05 Mar 16:47

The ultimate sales hiring guide for B2B startup founders!

by (Steli Efti)

Sales Hiring - Ultimate Guide to Sales Hiring for B2B Startups

I often talk about sales hiring with B2B startup founders who are beginning to see success. They've developed their product to a point where the few customers they have keep using it regularly. Their retention rates are okay and they have early signs of revenue growth.

It’s time to ask the question: should I hire salespeople?

Here are the four stages of sales hiring for B2B startups.

Hiring reps? Get a free copy of The Sales Hiring Playbook today!


Sales hiring stage #1: Founder-driven sales (founders only)

The first person to sell your product should be you—the founder—and your co-founders. Even if you hate sales and suck at it. Even if you don’t have any sales experience and know-how. Do customer development yourself, and be as close to your prospects as you can. This will help you immensely later on down the line when it is time to scale up sales hiring for the business.

Begin with the low-hanging fruit and tap into your network of:

  • Friends and acquaintances
  • Co-workers
  • Past employers
  • Alumni
  • And always ask for introductions left and right.

At this point, the objective is not closing deals. Instead, focus on early stage sales exploration:

This phase is all about getting your hands dirty in the startup hustle and figuring out what works in the real world. It's all about lean sales and validating your idea with the power of the hustle. The experience you gain will help you later evaluate salespeople when it's time to dive head first into true sales hiring. Watch this video to learn the basics of founder-driven sales:

Sales hiring stage #2: Founder-led sales team (2–3 sales reps)

Once you have some success (you've made some sales, generated some revenue), the question you'll ask yourself is: “How do I grow this? How can I take this to the next level?”

This is challenging, because you still need to focus on developing your product further as well. Balancing these two responsibilities isn’t easy.

Now is the time to begin your sales hiring proecss and bring on your first sales reps. Right now, your focus should be on bringing others on board and having them replicate the results you achieved in stage #1.

Don’t hire expensive sales veterans here. You want them young and hungry in this phase of your sales hiring journey. Hire two or three salespeople at the same time. It’s all about adding firepower to your sales efforts.

Why hire two sales reps at a time? Four simple reasons:

  1. Friendly competition
  2. Less dependence on individual performance
  3. More data for future sales recruiting
  4. More firepower

With two or three sales reps, you'll be able to do a lot more, try out more things. Plus, it'll energize all your sales efforts and add friendly competition.

Now that you have a sales team—you’re responsible and accountable for them. Sales thrives in this kind of competitive environment and team spirit, provided you have the proper sales training process and techniques in place. On top of that, staying afloat in an ocean of rejection will be a lot easier with a supportive team too.

When you tell your sales reps to try a new sales strategy, it might work for one but not for the other. In that case, you know that the sales approach is working, and the problem is with someone's ability to execute on that particular tactic.

If you take a slower approach to sales hiring and have only one sales rep, you don’t really have anything to measure against. Two or three sales reps are still far from perfect for validating data, but it's a lot better than just one.

At this stage in your sales hiring, you still need to be deeply involved. You’re managing, leading and motivating this team. You’re still pitching, doing outbound and inbound, working with your sales reps, listening to feedback.

You can’t outsource this. There are still too many critical decisions to be made. You need all these one-on-one experiences with customers, different sales channels, and lead generation methods. It’s not enough to monitor numbers. You need to be living them.

Goals you should accomplish before transitioning into the next stage of sales hiring:

What about commissions/compensation?

Don't worry about setting up commission structures at this stage in your sales hiring yet. It's too early. Hire these first 2–3 salespeople and work with them to get the sales process to predictability. Once you're there, then you can develop a commission structure with your sales team.

Read Aaron Ross's excellent book Predictable Revenue for some examples of how to develop your compensation structure with your sales team.

How to interview applicants?

There are many ways to go about sales hiring. Jason Katzer, who hired plenty of reps when we were still running our Sales-as-a-Service company ElasticSales, shared this hiring approach here:

Elastic hires the best hustlers to join our sales team to generate growth for the hottest startups across the U.S. and abroad. Hustlers develop and scale sales campaigns for our clients, bring in new business for our company, as well as market and sell, our sales communication platform.

We believe in transparency, so below is what sales hiring managers never tell candidates, an inside view on what I look for as I’m hiring our next Hustler.

1. Anybody can apply to a job on Craigslist. Express interest and make them follow up with you.

When I am screening resumes, I send interesting candidates a simple email with my Skype, telling them that I want to chat. Those who are smart enough to call me (since my work number is online and in my email) will get an immediate phone screen. Otherwise, after enough follow up I will get back to them.

2. Screen resumes for interesting topics.

Resumes don't really tell you much. I feel too many companies discriminate based on resumes. So I do the opposite. I take a quick scan for something I want to talk to the person about. Did they work at a company I hate? That’s a plus! Boring hobby? Let's chat about it. A terrible resume, the kinds that make me cringe will fail, but it makes screening much more fun.

3. There is a reason I don't take job interviews, so I don't give them either.

I don't care if someone is good at interviewing. On my first phone screen I want to know:

  • Can you sell yourself?
  • Can you sell me our company?
  • What can you teach me that I don't already know?
  • Do I want to hire the people you know?
  • If I interrupt your thinking, how do you react?

4.  "If you were to start a company, instead of getting a job right now, what would you do?"

I love this question. It started as an accident, but that ambiguous ending is there for a reason. Tell me what the startup does, or what you are going to do in that startup. Or both! Just tell me something with some real passion. If you have passion I'll deconstruct your idea to get a sense of how you think. If I don't like your idea or thought process, even better, because the candidate can then explain why they want to pursue that idea!

5.  If they seem like a no. Tell them so they have a chance to prove you wrong.

If someone doesn't have the skills or passion to move on to the next step, I tell them. This saves me from sending them some sad rejection email later and gives them the opportunity to prove me wrong. The most important skill for a Hustler is to manage objections. Sometimes I even tell good candidates, “No, and here’s why,” giving them a chance to pitch after hearing an objection.

6. In a flat org, you have to work with the people you hire.

Many hiring strategies focus on hiring the best. Here’s the selfish reason why. Any problem this person can't handle is going to become a problem that I may have to handle, so I have to end our encounter genuinely wanting to work with a candidate.

7. The boring test.

Google had a great hiring test in its early days. Larry (fact check) didn't want to hire anyone boring. He said that when Google got huge he never wanted to have a delayed flight and have someone come up to him at the airport and say "Hey I work for you." Followed by a boring conversation. It was his worst nightmare, so I stole it!

Sales hiring stage #3: Junior sales leader (3–15 sales reps)

At this point, your sales exploration has matured: results are a lot more predictable. You’ve established an effective sales funnel. You’re generating consistent growth. It’s not about exploration anymore—it’s about time you start focusing on sales execution.

Let's bring in some experienced sales leadership: a sales manager or sales director.

What should this sales manager accomplish for your company?

  • Fine-tune the rough sales approaches you’ve developed
  • Expand on the things you’ve learned
  • Grow and manage your sales team (and establish a sales hiring process)
  • Set up quotas, train, and coach your reps

You want to look for someone who has experience overseeing the growth of a tiny sales team of three people to 10, 20 or 30 people because that’s the next transition you’re going to make. And it’s one you don’t want to be in charge of as a founder yourself.

These people should have started out as junior sales reps in a previous company, and then grown into a managerial or leadership role there, and have already managed a team that's a bit larger than yours, at a company that already is where you want to be in one or two years.

Good sales managers will improve existing structures and optimize processes. They usually do not excel at building something from scratch and figuring things out. But they will propel your business forward if they can build on something that’s already there.

Sales hiring stage #4: Senior sales leader (25+ sales reps)

Once you’re beyond that barrier of around 15 salespeople and you want to go really big with your sales hiring efforts, the next breakthrough will happen at 25+ sales reps.

You'll need a senior sales leader, a VP of Sales who can manage a few sales managers/directors.

Someone with a proven track-record of scaling things big, who is a VP of Sales at a company that already is where you want to be in three years from now. Jason Lemkin shared with us some great advice on how to hire a VP Sales

A VP of Sales will work on sales strategy, scaling and expanding your sales channels and partnerships, and moving your customer base upstream as well as improving your unit economics. The VP will:

  • Build an organizational structure for the sales team
  • Develop sales hiring and training plans
  • Reorganize your commission structure
  • Groom sales talent to sales management positions
  • Open new offices
  • Add new channels like field sales to your inside sales team
  • Close larger deals

To bring such a person on board, you'll need to throw a lot of money and some equity at them—that's why this is such a crucial sales hire, and one that you shouldn't make light-heartedly. They will guide your sales team on a journey that can either make or break your startup.

Sales hiring is hard—but it’s worth it

Startup sales is tough. Nothing about it is easy. If you focus on the right things and hire the right people at the right time, you're going to be able to see your startup go from sales exploration to sales execution and ultimately sales scale. 

Want more actionable advice, checklists and templates for hiring sales reps? Get a free copy of The Sales Hiring Playbook!