Shared posts

07 Aug 16:39

4 Common Pieces of Advice You Should Be Avoiding in Your Sales Emails

by Heather

Bad sales emails can happen to anyone. That’s why it’s so important to stay vigilant when it comes to taking advice from the internet. There are lots and lots of tips out there that, despite being completely ineffective, are fast becoming gospel in the sales world.

The best way to avoid making mistakes that could ruin your email outreach is to know the difference between an actual best practice and a misleading tip

With that in mind, here are four popular tips that are actually bad for your sales emails, and what you can do instead.

Do you have any questions about other sales advice you’ve heard? Just ask in the comments, and I’ll try to respond directly or answer in my next video.

The post 4 Common Pieces of Advice You Should Be Avoiding in Your Sales Emails appeared first on Salesfolk.

03 May 16:14

Not coaching your experienced sales people? You're making a huge mistake.

by Grace Sharp

I was speaking with a prospect on a cold call last week about their aims to start getting better at improving their new hires. The topic of conversation switched to their experienced reps and the day to day coaching they receive. I was shocked when the prospect said;

05 Mar 16:55

The Customer Success Road: Where to Start?

by Mark Dacanay

Congratulations! You have successfully made the case for Customer Success and your organization has realized that investing in a customer success program will help provide more value to your customers.

However, recognizing the need for a customer success program and actually working on implementing one are two completely different stories. Even if you see the merits, you will eventually face your first roadblock, which is, where to begin?

Well, before you even walk down the road of customer success, you need to begin at the starting line. The starting line is all about the basics. To help you out, here are the things you need to know before venturing out into customer success territory.

Know your product and service

Before thinking about any customer success strategy, you have to have a deep understanding of your own offering. Know the value proposition of your product, why customers sign up in the first place. Know which specific problems your product solves, and what the best practices and configurations that provide the optimum experience to your customers are.

You should also be aware of the current limitations of your product. Knowing these limitations can present opportunities for future improvements, which could lead to a better product, and ultimately happier customers.

Know your pricing

How did you arrive at your price point? Does the value your customers achieve from your product commensurate with the money they spend? You must know and understand the model used to determine your current prices. Know the factors that were used, including how your customers are charged (per user, per license, etc.) and what the billing (i.e. renewal dates) system looks like.

Pro tip: A lot of SaaS companies usually employ a mix of fixed and flexible prices. The fixed price serves as the baseline and the flexible components allow for other revenue channels like upselling.

Know your current customer lifecycle

Take a step further and go beyond the sales lifecycle. Customer success is all about the entire customer experience from beginning to end, and that goes beyond just acquisition.

Determine who your marketing team is targeting the product or service for and learn about the strategies used. Find out how the sales team closes transactions to learn about what kind of expectations they are setting for customers they have signed. This will be especially helpful to create and review your onboarding process.

It doesn’t just end there. Dig into things the business is already doing to keep existing customers engaged with your company. You’ll need to evaluate whether these actions are effective in preventing churn.

Lastly, you’ll have to check your churn rate to get insight on why current customers are deciding to leave your business.

Know your customers

Get insight on the basic profile of your average user. As mentioned above, you have to know who you are targeting and who the sales team is closing as it will help you build retention strategies. Ultimately, you have to know your user base, whether that’s job title or demographics. For example, if your product is targeting the millennial market, it would be prudent to know that they give more consideration to social responsibility and sustainability over price, which means that you cannot market about cost savings alone.

This also gives you the opportunity to learn if you are on the right track. Set meetings with your sales, marketing, product, and support team and ask them to describe their ideal customer. This will provide insight on who each department thinks is the best target. The data accumulated from these findings will help you consolidate the opinions of each department, which are more often than not siloed from each other.

Review customer feedback

The best way to find out what your customers need is to ask them. In a post about data being the path to sales for SaaS providers, I emphasized the need for feedback data to provide the best customer experience possible.

Aside from customer support, look into opening every feedback channel, including bug reporting tools and feature request tools etc. This should also include the different features of your product to understand where your customers are, which features they use the most, and which of them get ignored.

This will give you an idea of how your customers use your product and can help put into perspective any improvements that might be needed. You can also reconcile the data with the information you have on your existing users to see if they match or if there is a major disconnect between what your customers want and what the team is making.

Once you gain these insights, you can continue on your journey through that long, rewarding road we all know as Customer Success. From here onwards, identify more specific action points that you can take, such as engaging existing customers, looking for upsell opportunities, and identifying the right KPIs and metrics to measure the success of your initiatives. Customer success is not an easy path, but gaining knowledge and understanding about these key points will most certainly make it easier.

05 Mar 16:55

“Visibility” — A Powerful Lesson on DACA and The American Dream from @LeonKrauze

by Mark Suster

León Krauze from Univisión gave an impassioned keynote presentation at The Upfront Summit on the topic of “invisibility” of immigrant workers in our society. It moved people to tears, was widely Tweeted and several people asked me to share this video.


The millions of immigrant workers who silently wash dishes in restaurants, are prep cooks, pick the agriculture that feeds us, build our houses, clean our houses, watch our kids and do our gardening are vilified as criminals by those currently in power to exploit the fears of working-class white, non-Hispanic, Americans.


Our system works on under-the-table payments of below-market wages for jobs that our non-Hispanic citizens don’t want to do and in a country where our unemployment rate is already so low that some economists are warning about inflation due to full employment. We know the immigrants are there. As a society we’re happy for the cheap labor and hard work yet they’re the first people vilified when a scapegoat is needed.


As a Jewish person I know something about this scapegoating because it is the history of my people for 2,000+ years including the Pogroms in Eastern Europe that cause my family to escape using fake passports and wind up in South America (Colombia) in search of a better life. So the current race-baiting by this administration hits me directly on both fronts. It is not sufficient for well-meaning people in the administration to stand by and allow racism to emanate from the White House in the name of getting tax cuts or lower regulations.

We have an obligation to speak up or eventually they will come for you.

Or as León said in his speech embedded below:

“Invisibility of the powerless leads to their suffering, prosecution and sometimes outcomes far more tragic
The Holocaust [was] in part was due to the tragedy of evil left unspoken for far too long.”

I’m tired of hearing people on social media speak of “virtue signaling,” a term meant to silence well-meaning people from speaking the truth about injustices done to immigrants, African Americans, the LGBTQ community or speaking up on gender inequality. Speaking up is an obligation in a democracy and of course it’s the powerful who have the loudest voice TO speak up.

It is the duty of the visible to fight invisibility.

León spoke eloquently about the efforts to make the invisible, visible.

He told the story of the young artist, Ramiro Gomez who was born in San Bernardino, near Los Angeles. His parents worked all day so he grew up with his grandmother who taught him the value of an education. He went to college to study art and design. But 10 years ago with the financial crisis he could no longer afford to study. He started living out of his car — too ashamed to tell his grandmother he couldn’t afford college. He eventually decided to become a nanny in an affluent home in LA to afford his education. He became friendly with the gardeners, cleaners, construction workers and even a butler. They all shared the same story — they felt “invisible.”

Ramiro started creating public art depicting images of the invisible in beautiful settings as a reminder of the contributions they make to our society.

He looked at Architectural Digest, Interior Design, Vogue, etc. and realized that Latinos had been deleted from the scenes where they usually were to show the after effects of their work. He decided to recreate the scenes from these beautiful design photos and he added back the immigrant Latinos who are so responsible for the privileged lives we lead. He painted in cleaners and gardeners and nannies.

Ramiro was demanding one thing — “visibility.”

So, too, does León Krauze with his work. León is a journalist with Univision and works hard to tell the stories of the unglamorous. He wants the country to be aware that the overwhelming majority of Latinos are hard-working individuals who contribute to society and in fact have lower crime rates than their non-Latino American counterparts.

Krauze said during his speech at the Upfront Summit …

“The Washington Post rightly says that “Democracy Dies in Darkness” but darkness, silence and invisibility have proven to be fertile soil for prejudice, racism and nativism.”

He told the story about a project he did for Univision that he started 5 years ago called “La Mesa” (the table) in which he sets up a plastic table and plastic chairs in a random immigrant neighborhood and he invites young people to come and tell their stories. He wants to celebrate the struggles and successes of the invisible people of America.

He told the story of three such people at our event that he called, “Three American Women.”

Each of their parents came to the United States in search of a life. They brought children and demanded one thing — education: bi-cultural, bi-national and bi-lingual. Each of the immigrants came to the United States the give their children and families a better life and they contribute humbly to our society, making it a vibrant growth engine.

If you want to understand the critical importance of demographics and immigration read the seminal book, “The Accidental Superpower.

Cristina. From Los Angeles. Her family was from Jalisco and came to the US just to survive. Her parents grew up in poverty, working the fields.

Her parents left everything behind not to live a better life, but merely to “live a life.” They began right at the bottom. Cristina realized just how far her family had come in just one generation. She was recently graduated from Cal State, Los Angeles and works at USC.

Jessica is also from Los Angeles. She was born the daughter of a carpenter from Michiocán, Mexico.

They faced a stark choice — stay and deal with the growing threat of drug violence — or move north to build a life. Her father was deported when Jessica was a child so she had to begin working. She applied for DACA and it changed her life. She arrived in America when she was 3.

Susana also grew up in Los Angeles. She was born in Irapuato, in central Mexico. Her father grew up selling candy in the streets of nearby Leon, Guanajato and her mother worked at a factory.

They decided to emigrate in search of a better life. They arrived in the US when Susana was 6 months old. DACA allowed Susana to gain entrance into Cal State, Los Angeles. She was graduated in 2017 — the first in her family to do so. Her father, just three decades before, was selling packets of gum in the streets of Guanajuato and how had a daughter who was educated in high education and ready to build a productive, American future. She now works as a nursing assistant.

No summary of León’s speech can do it justice so please do yourself a favor and watch it. It was widely discussed at the Upfront Summit for a reason. I promise you won’t regret it.

A special shout out to my pal, Mauricio Mota, on the left below who is also an immigrant from Brazil. He is the co-founder of Wise Entertainment and co-producer of East Los High, a widely popular Hulu show that depicts many stories of young American Latinos. He suggested León to me because they were both speakers at the commencement speech at the USC Annenberg School of Journalism. You certainly didn’t disappoint!

León Krauze (right) and Mauricio Mota (co executive producer for East Los High) at the Upfront Summit

“Visibility” — A Powerful Lesson on DACA and The American Dream from @LeonKrauze was originally published in Both Sides of the Table on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

05 Mar 16:55

Chasing Your Dream Client Across Time and Space

by Anthony Iannarino

When you leave a client interaction without scheduling the next commitment, without agreeing on the process, you end up chasing your them. Because you didn’t agree upon what the next step of the process would be, your client can appear to go dark. This creates an imbalance, one in which you want a conversation now and your prospective client doesn’t necessarily want or need that same conversation on your timeline.

You end up chasing your dream client across time and space. It feels bad, and it’s weird to have to give chase after you’ve been deep into building some sort of change. To your client, it feels like you are self-oriented, and sometimes it reeks of desperation.

The voicemails you leave are ignored because your client doesn’t find any value in replying, and by telling them you want to “check in” or “touch base,” you’ve confirmed their belief that there is no more value you can create for them during this process. This doesn’t mean they aren’t having internal conversations or that they aren’t meeting with your competitors. But it doesn’t mean that they are; your clients are busy running a business.

The emails you send to follow up are also easily ignored, much easier to dismiss than your voicemails. Click, deleted. More emails aren’t better. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t follow up every call and voicemail with an email, but rather that you are going to need a really good reason to get on the phone or face-to-face, having failed to define next steps.

While you give chase, you lose time. And so does your dream client. Neither of you are producing the results you hoped for.

All of this to say that if you don’t want to chase your client across time and space, then have the courage to ask for the commitment you need before the end of your sales call. The agreement as to the process is as important a commitment as any you gain throughout the process, as it is the one all the others are built upon.

The post Chasing Your Dream Client Across Time and Space appeared first on The Sales Blog.

05 Mar 16:47

Deepening B2B Customer Relationships With “The Funnel Beyond The Funnel”

by Ruth Stevens

I’ve long observed that B2B marketers focus too much on lead generation, and not enough on current customer expansion and retention, which is, after all, where the bulk of profits lie. When asked, the typical B2B marketer will say that 80-85% of their effort goes to customer acquisition. This is a mistake. But I am happy to say that my longtime pal and colleague Steve Gershik is working on a solution for this unwise imbalance. I asked Steve to explain his thinking.

You’ve been developing a fresh idea for B2B marketers that you call “the funnel beyond the
funnel.” What’s that?

For years, B2B marketers have focused on demand generation or top-of-the-funnel activities
that are meant to drive net new leads and nurture them to close. And whether that strategy includes inbound, ABM, or content marketing or a mixture of the three, the emphasis has always been on acquiring “new logos.” But I argue that we can create a durable competitive advantage by focusing on the customer in the funnel beyond the funnel; that is, the set of systems, processes, and technologies to drive value after the customer has signed the deal and continues along their journey with you.

What problem is this approach intended to solve?

In the subscription economy, there is nothing nearly as expensive as a customer that has left you before the first year. You’ve spent oodles of time, money, and brainpower on acquiring that firm, only to see that investment lost if you can’t make a customer successful, happy, and an advocate. Plus, as product development cycles get shorter and shorter, companies are learning that the only way to create differentiation between themselves and their competition is to concentrate on the holistic customer experience. Focusing on the funnel beyond the funnel translates to lower customer acquisition costs, lower churn rates, higher lifetime value, and a powerful brand.

What are the top tactics that you’re recommending for B2B marketers to take advantage of
this opportunity?

The first and most obvious tactic is to harness the power of successful customers in a systematic way. You want to ensure that you mobilize your customers to help drive awareness of your company and serve as a third-party advocate of you. But you can’t have happy customers unless you have a comprehensive strategy for customer experience after the sale. So start pulling together all the tactics you do today — onboarding campaigns, customer webinars, NPS programs, user groups—into one umbrella strategy for post-acquisition customer marketing.

Does the funnel beyond the funnel call for particular metrics to evaluate its success as a
marketing program?

That’s really the best question, since we just completed a study of B2B marketers, and the results were clear. While they believe that there should be a focus on the funnel beyond the funnel, the weakest part of their programs overall was the measurement of success and the promotion of those results within the firm.

So I recommend people tie the results of their programs to business metrics the executive team and the board care about: the number of customer referrals and the resulting sourced revenue, influenced revenue (through attribution), changes in customer acquisition costs, and the LTV of happy, engaged customers. This will help bolster further investment in your programs and, by the way, make your top of the funnel programs more effective and efficient, too.

Are there organizational issues we should consider?

Right now, many customer marketing organizations are adrift inside firms. Some companies
place the function in the communications team. Others include it as part of the demand gen
organization. Still others put the function inside customer success — customer service, tech support, account management — which makes some sense for businesses that realize that tight alignment between CS and marketing is important. Whichever structure companies choose, alignment among sales, product, marketing, and success is vital.

Where do you think this all going?

I’m optimistic, but we are pretty early on. Our recent research showed that everyone’s talking about this, but only 4% said they were planning to anything about it. I think that companies that get out ahead on this will enjoy a valuable competitive advantage.

03 Mar 18:22

“….Must Have Previous SaaS Sales Experience”

by Dave Brock

geralt / Pixabay

I was speaking to a colleague the other day, he was looking for a job. He was a very successful salesperson, unhappy in his current role. He commented, “What’s all of this stuff about ‘SaaS?’ All the jobs require SaaS sales experience.”

It is puzzling how “SaaS” or “XaaS” seems to have a disproportionate mindshare in the sales world these days. When you look at the economy, it’s a small part of the economy, by extension, represents a small part of selling jobs.

But so much of what we read focuses on SaaS. But SaaS means a lot of different things, even within SaaS selling is very different depending on the solution.

SaaS is a product/software implementation approach. Rather than buying a software license, the hardware to support it, on premise, it’s implemented in the cloud. There’s a lot of value customers can realize from this, for example not having to support the hardware environment, not having to support the software, and so forth.

But what’s really different about selling this as a solution? Does it require different skills to present the value of this, perhaps differentiating it from an on premise implementation? Sure it may require a consultative/solution selling approach, it requires deep product knowledge, but there is nothing about the technology implementation that necessarily requires specialized selling skills.

The skills needed for any other complex product/solution (technology or non-technology based) are similar. Yes–different product knowledge skills; Yes, perhaps market/industry/problem specific skills are necessary. But every complex solution requires these.

SaaS (XaaS) seems to be the catch-all phrase for a payment methodology. Rather than getting a single upfront payment, SaaS is a subscription model. It’s payments stretched out over a period of time But there’s nothing new an novel about this payment methodology. Subscription/monthly payments have existed for ages (I suspect Eve talked Adam into buying Apples As A Service).

We think of newspaper/magazine subscriptions, any type of lease, any type of installment payment plan. I pay our housekeeper and gardener on a weekly payment basis, I pay my gym membership on a monthly basis. Even the very first mainframe computers were sold on a “subscription.” Customers could not outright purchase the computer, it could only be rented or leased (Wonder if Tom Watson Jr. ever thought of MFaaS–MainFrames as a Service? IBM has always loved acronyms.)

There’s nothing unique about selling a subscription or term payment solution. Whether it’s an outright upfront payment, we still have to do the business justification demonstrating the value and return of the solution over time.

And retention, LCV, ARR, is nothing unique to the SaaS business model. Whether outright purchase or subscription, we always want to create customers for life, growing the revenue from each–whether they pay on a one-time basis, and we seek to sell the next new version of the product, sell other products, etc. Salespeople have been concerned with this ever since the first sale was made. We want to figure out ways for our current customers to keep buying more and more stuff from us, forever.

And SaaS seems to be a sales approach or methodology. The roots of this are really found in transactional or high volume/velocity sales methodologies. But transactional selling processes have also been around for ages. Many retail and consumer product sales are transactional. Many B2B sales of commoditized products are transactional. Companies have had inbound queries going to order desks and clerks for decades (if not longer). Yes, those people had to do minor education on the products, provide pricing, provide some differentiation, but there is nothing new here.

Likewise, we’ve had high volume/velocity approaches to sales long before the acronym SaaS was created. These have been in a variety of industries, markets, solutions. Think of the “old days,” when your customer may have had rows of catalogs lined up on a bookshelf behind her. When she had a need, she looked at the catalog, found a product, called in “inbound salesperson.”

Ironically, many SaaS implementations cannot be sold using the SaaS sales methodologies. They are complex buying processes, requiring enterprise-wide engagement. I can’t begin to count the number of companies with SaaS implementations that have fairly traditional field direct sales approaches, metrics.

Equally ironic, many outright purchases only require a transactional sales process. For example, we pay for our office supplies outright, yet it is a transactional selling/buying process.

Yet for some reason, SaaS selling has this great mystique, it’s viewed as something different than all other selling. Perhaps it’s some sort of Silicon Valley seduction, since so many SaaS companies seem to be Silicon Valley or software technology companies.

We’ve invented a whole array of acronyms to describe “SaaS” things, when they are really no different than the things people outside the SaaS world have cared about. We’ve invented new names for salespeople, SDR, BDR, AE, Account Manager, Customer Experience Managers. ABM/ABS/ABE have become the hot issues, in “SaaS selling. Yet the principles of ABM/ABS/ABE have existed for years, yet the SaaS world seem to be reveling in their discovery.

But those functions are no different than functions that have existed in other sectors for ages.

I come back to the core issue, what are “SaaS selling skills?” What is “SaaS selling?”

It’s really no different than excellent sales execution in any other space. So why the mystique?

03 Mar 18:22

Selling Challenges Brief: Gaining Higher Prices with Sharper Negotiation Skills

by Richardson Sales Training

Factors like competition and commoditization are putting pricing pressures on sales professionals. Customers, armed with more information than ever before, are analyzing their options before their first conversation with the sales professional. When the dialogue begins the customer’s expectations of costs are fixed. The challenge of gaining higher prices or even maintaining the full value of the sale is increasing.

This trend was a key finding in our 2018 Selling Challenges Study which included survey responses from hundreds of sales professionals across industries.

In our latest brief, Gaining Higher Prices with Sharper Negotiation Skills, we look at specific ways sales professionals can design a negotiation strategy that captures the full value of the deal. We cover skills like:

  • Build trust to overcome commoditization
  • Know the difference between concessions and trading
  • Overcoming deadlocks with conceptual buy-in
  • Promoting the value of the solution with “priming”

Check out the brief and jump-start your sales prospecting strategy today.

download the brief

The post Selling Challenges Brief: Gaining Higher Prices with Sharper Negotiation Skills appeared first on Welcome to the Richardson Sales Blog.

03 Mar 18:20

How to Overcome the 5 Challenges of Accurate Sales Forecasting

by Frank Dale

If there’s one thing that’s always a constant in an organization’s sales pipeline, it’s change. While that’s a positive factor when deals are progressing forward and are moving from discovery to proposal to closed won, change is also often negative, caused by deals going dark or falling out of the pipeline altogether.

Sales leaders have the incredible challenge of keeping up with all of this change and are simultaneously held to forecasts usually set at the beginning of the year, the quarter, or the month. The problem is, with so much movement, accurate forecasting can be an impossible challenge – or at least one that requires constant observation and management. The challenge compounds when executives and Board of Directors become involved. Sales leaders who aren’t keenly aware of every single deal at any given time can fall into the trap of guessing and relying on weighted pipeline that is fraught with errors and challenges.

In this post, we’ll take a look at 5 of the most common sales forecasting challenges, and we’ll also share some key takeaways for how sales managers can better predict deal outcomes and therefore, sales pipeline.

1. Dependent Upon Correct CRM Data

While CRMs present plenty of their own challenges, they are certainly a necessary tool to any successful sales organization. However, without proper reinforcement and specific guidelines for data entry, it’s common practice for sales professionals to include placeholder text or numbers, skip fields, or include text in a “notes” field that cannot be easily categorized or filtered.

In addition, sales professionals who want to minimize attention to their deals or downplay potential value may sandbag deals by including a lower dollar amount than is probable. In contrast, others may have overconfidence that their deal will close in a shorter time period or may want additional internal support from solutions consultants or sales engineers and may therefore indicate that the deal is more valuable than it likely is.

For sales leaders, any of the above scenarios can cause faulty data, which ultimately results in error-prone forecasting. The problem with CRM data is that the data is only as good as it is accurate.

2. Limited Visibility into Specific Deals

Coaching and weekly 1:1 engagement with sales professionals is paramount to proper visibility into the pipeline, although many sales leaders are challenged for time as it is. We’ve previously explored the challenges of deal mechanics versus business case and the inaccuracies that are present when sales professionals are laser focused on the tactics of a particular prospect account versus the value-based reasoning that will ultimately lead them to buy.

In our definition, deal mechanics refer to the “black and white” aspect of the sales process, wherein the data points are typically recorded in Salesforce via a drop down menu or a single type-in field (expected ACV, anticipated close date, etc). On the other hand, we define business case as the components that build upon deal mechanics. A business case gets to the heart of what’s really taking place during the discovery process, the value conversations, and the progression through the sales funnel. A business case provides a deep level of insight into:

  • What problem is the sales professional solving for the prospect?
  • What is the actual root cause of that problem?
  • Why is that problem (or solution) important to them?
  • How does the sales professional know that a budget has been dedicated to solving the problem?
  • And so on…

When sales leaders rely on deal mechanics versus the business case, they are likely only getting part of the story – the part that omits the human component of the sales process, which is what ultimately can sway a decision one way or the other.

3. Assumed Consistent Quarters and Sales Cycles

In enterprise sales, seasonality and evolving sales cycles are often culprits to forecasts being off target. Not only do most sales leaders have to account for sales cycles to various industries, such as retail or finance, they also need to factor in seasonality. For some industries, Q1 may be the hottest time to buy, whereas Q4 may be best for others looking to spend budget before the end of the fiscal year.

While most sales organizations have tracked buying cycles long enough to have a fairly good idea of which quarters are best and how sales cycles align, fast growing sales teams or those that have pivoted into a new market or have adjusted product market fit may not have the line of sight needed to make the right predictions. When sales leaders aren’t confident as to the length, the seasonality, or probability of sales cycles, forecasting can be a major challenge.

4. Lacking or Missing Deal Knowledge

One of the biggest problems facing growing sales organizations today is a lack of process and methodology. While many sales leaders have in place rigorous sales cycles, along with documented discovery questions, objection handling best practices, and even a proposal and finance checklist, it’s difficult for sales professionals to ensure each item is checked off if the process isn’t clear cut. It must be easily accessible to them while they’re having a conversation with a prospect, in meetings, or scheduling follow-ups.

When sales professionals go “off script” and ask their own discovery questions or rely on a Word Doc or spreadsheet to keep track of what they need to ask and when, the result is often missed questions and a lack of knowledge of the intricate (but ever so critical) aspects of a deal. Sales leaders know all too well that if their sales professionals don’t gather certain data points early on or don’t confidently handle potential objections, that the deal could easily fall through during later stages, such as when the proposal is sent. Therefore, even though the CRM may have deemed a particular prospect 80% likely to close, a deal that is lacking specific components or one that didn’t follow the team’s process is much less likely to close, therefore throwing a curveball at the forecast.

5. Insufficient Sales Stage Definitions

While most enterprise sales organizations have well-defined sales stages, definitions, and activities documented and watched closely for accuracy by a Sales Ops team, many growing teams struggle with staying consistent. This is specially true if an organization’s market or target buyer is evolving or moving upstream to a larger segment.

For sales leaders to properly forecast, it’s imperative that each of their sales managers and sales professionals refers to the same sales stages, uses the same terminology, and ultimately adjusts deals in the CRM the same exact way. For example, if one sales professional marks all of his deals that have had a single conversation as an active opportunity with a 20% likelihood to close rate while another sales professional marks his similar conversations as a lead with a 10% likelihood to close, then the inconsistencies – even though they may be only a few percentage points off – can make the entire forecast faulty. Now, consider the consequences when these “small” inconsistencies take place across a large enterprise sales team with hundreds of field and corporate professionals.

Overcome the Sales Forecasting Nightmare

By adopting an agile sales methodology, sales leaders can access the most up-to-date sales information so they always have proper insight into the deals being worked. At the same time, leaders can view key insights for each deal in real-time so they can not only forecast effectively, but can iterate quickly and collaborate with sales professionals to get deals across the finish line. In addition, with the help of a platform to support this methodology, sales leaders can see visuals and stats to identify what’s working, what’s not working, and what needs to be adjusted and iterated upon for future quarters.

The best part? Sales leaders can have eyes on every deal today, and can accurately plan forecasts for next month, next quarter, and even next year.

The post How to Overcome the 5 Challenges of Accurate Sales Forecasting appeared first on OpenView Labs.

03 Mar 18:20

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a Sales Manager

by (Brian Signorelli)

So, you think you want to be a sales manager? If you’re an individual top-performing contributor in your sales organization and you’re thinking of applying for a sales manager role, let me give you a bit of a reality check first.

Here are some chilling statistics that might make you think twice about taking on a front-line manager role:

  • Sales managers cannot control 83% of the metrics they're held accountable to
  • A full two-thirds of all salespeople miss quota
  • Over half of all salespeople close at less than 40%
  • 40% of salespeople can’t understand customer pain
  • Only 46% of reps feel their pipeline is accurate
  • Almost half of all sales teams don’t have a playbook
  • Only 52% of salespeople can access key players

If I haven’t talked you out of applying for a sales manager position, let me give you some advice, now that I’m a year into the role. Here are seven things you should know before jumping in that I wish I knew when I started.

1. Don't worry about forecasting.

For some reason I thought that accurately forecasting and reporting my team's numbers was going to be a huge obstacle to overcome. It wasn't. If you're an organized person you'll be just fine. The most difficult thing to get used to is managing a funnel of eight to 10x the opportunities you’re used to managing as an individual.

There are a few things I do to make sure I’m forecasting accurately. First, I’m always inspecting our CRM to ensure that my salespeople are logging their activities and updating stages on opportunities. Second, I ask my salespeople to tell me which deals are close-able within the month, as well as the next 60 days. This way, I can pay closer attention to these deals, and coach on the opportunities that will have an impact on my team’s attainment in the short and slightly-longer term.

If you don’t have all of this information logged in your CRM, here’s a spreadsheet template you can use:

2. Spend more time recruiting in the beginning.

If I could turn back the clock, I would have reallocated a far greater amount of my time to recruiting for my team. While I'm biased, I truly believe in Bill Belichick’s (head coach for the New England Patriots) mantra that you have to have the right people on the right bus to achieve great results.

If you're not doing it already, I would highly recommend spending the equivalent of at least one day per week interviewing and meeting with potential new candidates for your team -- regardless of whether or not you end up managing them directly.

Salespeople are famously focused on the next month or the next quarter. But, rarely do reps worry about setting themselves up for success nine or 12 months out. A sales manager, however, must think 12, or even 24 to 36 months ahead. Essentially, a sales manager must work on exceeding two numbers: their hiring targets and effectiveness, as well as sales targets.

I’ll paint this picture another way. There are two things a salesperson can screw up that causes them to miss their quota. The first is not putting enough opportunities into the top of the funnel. The second is spending too much time on deals that ultimately fall out of their funnel -- closed-lost.

The same thing can happen to a sales manager when it comes to recruiting. Continuously source enough candidates into your funnel. The key here is to build up a funnel of passive candidates that you can recruit when you’re allowed to make that next hire, or need to fill that open spot.

3. Build team unity even outside the office.

To me, managing a team of salespeople is like coaching a team of tennis players or golfers. Everyone may work on the same team, but they all have individual numbers. How do you create cohesion among the team?

If the team doesn't feel like they know everyone, they're not going to go that extra step to help one another. My advice: Make sure you spend time together and get to know one another. Plan team outings, team dinners, breakfasts, service events, etc. -- anything that enables the team to get closer to one another outside of work will pay dividends. And remember, If you turn over 20-30% of your team in a year, that means your team is always changing. So, make sure you’re planning events regularly.

Here’s my team at our holiday potluck.

4. Get better at time management.

Stepping out of "the funnel" and into the sales management role, I imagined that my days would be easier and less stressful. I wouldn’t have an individual number on my head and I would be responsible for coaching my team. Seemed simple enough.

I was dead wrong. Instead of one number, I had 10. Instead of $500,000 for my quota, I had $4 million. Instead of having more time, I had less. My time was not my own. I had to figure out which activities to prioritize quickly.

For me, the activities that I determined would have the biggest impact on performance fell into three buckets:

  1. Coaching. What am I doing on a 1:1 basis to help my team members achieve their goals?
  2. Scaling. What training can I facilitate that will help the majority of my team members perform better? Can I train them on things like selling skills, product knowledge, time saving tools, etc.?
  3. Recruiting. What am I doing to continuously build the future success of the team?

5. Define, share, and reinforce your sense of higher purpose early.

My personal opinion is that sales reps get a bad rap. Many think that we're just out for money. We don't care how many people we burn, and we're all slick talkers.

While I think there are certainly bad reps out there that fit the old "Always Be Closing" profile, I don't think that most reps are like that. Instead, I think most reps actually want to understand why their work is meaningful and what purpose it serves. This thinking is backed by a variety of sales consultants and leaders, and exemplified well in an article by Next Level Sales Consulting. Here’s a quote that jumped out to me:

“Salespeople who are intrinsically motivated are more fulfilled and financially successful than extrinsically motivated salespeople.”

Still don’t believe me? There’s some great research from Dave Kurlan and his team at Objective Management Group, highlighted in this article:

“In the old days (pre-2008), if salespeople were motivated, then they were probably motivated by money. According to data from Objective Management Group, 54% of salespeople were money-motivated during the 1990s and first half of the 2000s. Today, the data shows that no more than 27% of salespeople are what we now call extrinsically-motivated.”

When moving into a sales manager role, you're also choosing to enter a leadership role. While anyone can be a leader -- and hopefully you have a few on your team -- leadership is a mandatory part of the sales management position. If you cannot define your team’s or company’s sense of purpose as a leader, you should work on it. Defining, sharing, and reinforcing that vision on a regular basis will constantly remind your team that the work they're doing matters.

If you're struggling to define your team’s higher purpose, think deeply about why your company was formed in the first place. What challenge did it solve? What challenges do you solve now? How does this make your customers' lives better? How does this make the world a better place?

Be specific! Quantify wherever you can. Salespeople love numbers. Here’s an excerpt of an email I sent to my team on the vision and our purpose working together (I sent this within the first 45 days of building my team in 2014):

6. Remember, your direct reports are not 'mini-mes.'

This is something I still struggle with to this day. The truth is, many sales leaders will coach and manage their team the same way in which they were coached or liked to be coached. If you were direct and to the point with your manager, odds are that you'll want that out of your reps too.

However, the key here is not to follow the "Golden Rule" and "Treat others how you would want to be treated"; instead, follow the "Platinum Rule", and "Treat others how they want to be treated." I know this is easier said than done, but there are a lot of training assessments out there to help. Get your company to give you the tools you need to succeed by enrolling in training sessions or classes on communication styles. I personally found the Manager Exchange Training incredibly helpful in my early months as a manager.

7. Give time to new-hire onboarding.

In my first two months as a manager I had to hire three new team members. It was a lot. Your new hires need just as much if not more of your mindshare compared to more tenured, or possibly inherited reps. So what is a new manager supposed to do!?

First, make sure you clearly lay out expectations for your new hire, what milestones they should be hitting by when, and show them the resources and training you're going to provide to help get them there.

Second, consider asking your more tenured team members to be peer mentors. I find most people actually like paying mentorship forward since most great reps had a mentor that got them where they are today. This will ease some of the stress on your time.

And third, set up a regular cadence of small group coaching sessions. I would recommend twice per week as mandatory and twice per week as optional, allotting one hour for each of the four sessions. These are not designed to replace your one-on-ones -- they should be in addition to that time.

8. View your team's performance as a reflection of your own.

Wanting to take credit for the victories and avoid blame for the losses is human nature. But as a sales manager, you can’t pass the buck. The performance of your reps is a reflection of your performance as a manager.

When team members asked me the same question for the tenth time, I had to accept it wasn’t their failure to remember and absorb the information -- it was my failure to properly communicate it.

When reps missed their monthly quota, it wasn’t their failure to sell -- it was mine for not making sure they were prospecting enough, adding value to their prospects, following up quickly, finding win-win solutions, and so on.

I realized I cannot care about anyone else's success more than they do. I also needed to face the reality that systemic problems on my team were probably caused by my coaching … or lack of.

9. Don't try to be the 'Chief Problem Solver.'

During my first two years as a sales manager, reps came to me with challenges multiple times per day. I was always being pulled into difficult situations -- both with customers and internally. I thought solving these issues was part of doing my job. Yet after a while, I realized this approach did more harm than good.

I needed to enable my reps to think for themselves and learn key skills on their own, or else they’d always be dependent on me.

Now I require my team members to think critically and come to the answer with me, rather than immediately jumping to give it to them.

There are still some situations where a quick answer is necessary -- like if your rep is on a call and presses Mute to ask you something -- but those are the exception, not the rule.

10. Ask questions instead of giving orders.

After I learned the last lesson, getting buy-in from my team actually became much easier. Why? Because when you tell people what to do, they’re typically a little resistant. When a solution is their idea, they’re far likelier to believe in (and therefore act on) it.

For example, suppose one of my salespeople said, “Sig, I’m having trouble with this opp. A new decision maker got involved at the last minute and she’s pushing for the competitor’s product. What should I do?”

I’d be tempted to offer my opinion; after all, it’s flattering when someone asks for your “wisdom.” However, I’ve learned I must avoid this trap. Instead, I’d turn the question around:

“Well, I'm happy to share what I think, [rep’s name], but since you're so much closer to the situation, you probably know best what the next step should be. What's your opinion on what we should do next?”

Sometimes, the rep starts brainstorming ideas. Sometimes, they get frustrated and say, “I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking you!”

Don’t let this sway you. I’d say, “Ok, you don't know ... [PAUSE] ... If you DID know, what do you think that might sound like?” A slightly less tongue-in-cheek response is: "If I weren't here, what would you do?”

Typically this breaks the tension and gets the rep to smile or even laugh. They’ll offer an idea, you can give feedback, and so on, until you’ve hit on an effective strategy. And best of all, you’ll give them a framework to solve problems for themselves.

How to Convince Sales Leadership You’re Ready to Manage

Assuming I haven’t dissuaded you from becoming a sales manager, your next step is to apply for the job. A big part of getting the job is showing that you’re prepared. In most companies, as long as you’re consistently over-performing, you can probably start to do some of the activities above. You can certainly help plan team outings, mentor newer salespeople, help your manager source new candidates for the team, and maybe even improve team forecasting. You can even start to lead by sharing why sales and your company help you fulfill a higher purpose. I’ve always found that assuming the responsibility is the best way to earn it.

Finally, if your company offers training programs on preparing for management, or will even sponsor you to go to training sessions like, take full advantage of the opportunity. The more you can surround yourself with peers with similar ambitions and experiences, the more likely you’ll be successful.

Statistic sources: Jason Jordan, Salesforce

02 Mar 16:51

Putting Humans at the Center of Health Care Innovation

by Yasser Bhatti
Bogdan Dreava/EyeEm/Getty Images

The healthcare industry has long relied on traditional, linear models of innovation – basic and applied research followed by development and commercialization. While this “lab-bench to bedside” approach has improved healthcare globally, it can take years, even decades, for an innovation to get to market, often with limited input from patients themselves. The results can be technically sound, but sub-optimal from the patient’s standpoint (as any woman who has endured a painful mammogram understands).

An alternative emerging at healthcare institutions worldwide is human-centered design and co-creation, a set of approaches that can accelerate and humanize healthcare innovation. This model isn’t just about getting greater patient feedback during the innovation process. Patients are co-designers, co-developers, and increasingly more responsible for their own and collective health outcomes.

We have closely studied three of these models: The Helix Centre at Imperial College London, the Center for Innovation at the Mayo Clinic, and the Consortium for Medical Technologies at Massachusetts General Hospital. Each locates interdisciplinary innovation labs within or near hospital environments; involves diverse stakeholders beyond clinicians (designers, engineers, business professionals, and patients) early in the innovation process ; and engages end users in customizing solutions for their own needs. All have related missions, types of successes, and common challenges.

Innovation Centers

The Helix (Healthcare Innovation Exchange) Centre opened in 2014 to respond to increasing pressures on the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). Helix is a pop-up design studio in the courtyard of one of London’s busiest hospitals, St Mary’s, an institution with a legacy of innovation, including the discovery of penicillin. It is a joint project between the Royal College of Art and Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London where designers and engineers can work in close contact with clinicians to identify challenges and provide solutions. This is the first time within the NHS that designers, engineers and clinicians have been brought together to co-create.

Insight Center

The fruits of this collaboration are seen in the Helix Centre’s focus on end of life care, where the recent launch of Amber Care Plans gives patients a simple and effective way to plan their own care and make sure their wishes are known and respected. The studio has also had success – working in close collaboration with the Resuscitation Council – in developing the new emergency care planning ReSPECT form which healthcare professionals are using across the country. New technologies, including innovative and sensitive chat bots and voice services are now in development to help support patients and caretakers in care homes or hospices. A new project around the future of hospice care, looking at the unmet psychosocial care needs of people at the end of life is an embodiment of human-centered design. Other Helix projects include tools to “activate” patients before hysterectomy, involving them in decisions about surgery and post-surgical care and recovery; stroke rehabilitation work; and a pilot in pediatric emergency drug safety.

The Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation (CFI) was established in 2008, becoming the first healthcare innovation center to employ a team of in-house designers. Under the banner of the Mayo Clinic motto, “the needs of the patient come first,” it utilises human-centered design to transform the experience and delivery of healthcare. Interdisciplinary teams of service designers, clinicians, project managers, information technology specialists, innovation coordinators, hospital staff members and patients have undertaken projects including redesigning the clinical exam room, unchanged for 100 years, and creating flagship offerings for connected care including e-consults, video visits and patient applications.

A recent successful project involved a collaboration between the Center, Mayo Ob/Gyn staff and patients to improve the prenatal care patient experience. The project involved more than a dozen experiments including in-home monitoring, patient-driven appointments, and online communities. The resulting wellness-focused “OB Nest” integrated care model for low-risk pregnancies, now implemented within obstetrics and gynecology at Mayo, reduces patient visits while improving satisfaction (see an HBR article on OB Nest here.)

The Consortium for Affordable Medical Technologies (CAMTech), founded in 2012 and based at the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Global Health, brings together multi-disciplinary teams of healthcare and non-healthcare professionals to co-design novel solutions to US and global health challenges through hack-a-thons, awards programs, and business acceleration activities. CAMTech is an open innovation platform now involving a network of over 4,300 engineers, clinicians, entrepreneurs, and designers from over 700 organizations. To source ideas, it often runs two-day hack-a-thons on specific health care challenges.

For example, in 2015 the Consortium arranged a global Zika Innovation Hack-a-thon in which 200 innovators developed 15 proposed solutions in 48 hours to help control the virus. In 2016, another event focused on the opioid-use crisis in Massachusetts and resulted in 18 innovation proposals. One hackathon led to the development of the Augmented Infant Resuscitator, an inexpensive add-on to ubiquitous bag valve masks that dramatically improves how birth attendants provide newborn ventilation. The device has recently won a $2 million transition-to-scale grant for trial in Ghana, Uganda, and India, bringing it closer to commercialization.


While the three centers have quite different structures and operations, in our research and experience we found that they share six primary challenges:

  1. Establishing strategies for new project selection:

Centers struggle to identify and rank problems, ideas or projects that will likely translate to positive health and system outcomes. Across healthcare, two syndromes can be detrimental to project selection: “we’ve done that before” and “not invented here.” Centers lack tested criteria for project selection and may struggle with balancing the need for social impact on the one hand good financial returns on the other.

  1. Scoping projects for success and managing ambition:

Interdisciplinary design teams are, by nature, optimistic and ambitious. However, they can end up taking on responsibilities over and above the call of duty out of a passion for solving a problem. Leadership and teams find it hard to come together to scope and resource projects appropriately as well as put projects on the shelf (or kill them) when needed. As a result, team optimism and ambition can be wasted on activities that lack focus.

  1. Managing multi-stakeholder teams of clinicians, designers, engineers, and business managers:

Diverse stakeholders often bring conflicting motivations, perspectives and approaches to collaborative design projects, especially in their prescribed roles. Designers often embrace quantity and speed of idea generation, with quick-and-dirty prototyping; clinicians, cautious, precise, and scientific in their approach to problem solving, can seem rigid and bureaucratic by comparison. Project collaborators often lean more towards near-term or long-term thinking – with near-termers being perceived as quality improvers; long-termers as out-of-touch with reality.

  1. Navigating pressures to show immediate value

Innovation project sponsors often desire breakthrough, transformative or disruptive innovation but fail to articulate what that means or to support the longer-than-expected timeframes required to show and deliver value. Yet, sponsors often assess proposed concepts for fit and financial return early on. This can result in favoring projects promising a quick ROI over riskier projects offering bigger impact in the long-term.

  1. Establishing appropriate performance metrics and assigning attribution

Innovation is inherently risky which makes bottom-line revenue and time-frame targets challenging to establish. Unrealistic or non-existent financial and non-financial targets and expectations can be demoralizing for teams. Sometimes, innovation centers at the front line of human-centered design do not have robust metrics for recognizing incremental but critical successes. Issues of attribution can also arise when projects are implemented outside the walls of innovation centers and often take time to bear fruit.

  1. Identifying and supporting pathways to implementation

Outcomes of successful innovation projects, such as a product, service or research finding, often need varying types and degrees of support to transition to the next phase of development. An immediate answer to the question “who implements and how?” is not always evident.


Despite these challenges, collaboratives like these have already demonstrated their promise in accelerating and humanizing healthcare innovation. Organizations with existing innovation centers, and those considering developing them, should consider the following actions which can head off or, at least, reduce the drag on innovation these challenges pose:

  • Identify a specific purpose that unifies efforts and engage only in activities which forward it.
  • Create forums for project contributors to learn about varying approaches to problem-solving.
  • Develop stakeholder co-creation methods and tools which ensure maximum engagement amidst resource constraints.
  • Enlist project managers and ensure clear roles and responsibilities for all center employees.
  • Set project budgets and scope design projects at the outset to align with funding size and horizons.
  • Establish clear initial operational and performance metrics such as percent of innovation concepts expected to be implemented, number of clinicians and patients involved in co-creation processes, types of IP generated, and stage-gated timelines.
  • Be prepared to revise metrics as the center evolves and celebrate small wins.

The above provides just a thumbnail sketch of the design principles that can help enable a collaborative innovation center. The first-movers we describe here demonstrate the potential for human-centered design and, though it’s still early days, are setting the stage for how healthcare can redesign itself from within.



The authors would like to thank the following people for their important contributions to this article: Dr. Matthew Harris (Clinical Senior Lecturer in Public Health, Imperial College London), Dr. Matthew Prime (Medical Director, Roche), Stephanie Somerville (Former Director, HELIX Centre), Daniel Dickens (Managing Director, HELIX Centre), Dr. Douglas Wood (Medical Director, Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation), and Dr. Barbara Barry (Design Strategist, Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation).

02 Mar 16:50

Personalization: It’s Worth the Effort

by Patrick Sanders

It has been ages (in “tech years”) since Don Peppers and Martha Rogers broke down the fundamentals of personalization in “The One to One Future”. Yet, over 20 years later most marketers are still struggling with personalization in their marketing strategies.

The Root Cause

We don’t need to look far for an explanation: personalization is hard, really hard at scale. I’m sure this is why 65% (source) of marketers still use the old school mass blast techniques of the Mad Men days. It’s easy to get caught up in the challenges that come with implementing a personalized marketing strategy, but don’t lose sight of the fact that personalization can increase the return on investment (ROI) of campaigns by at least 10% (source). So because of platform limitations and/or resource constraints most marketers are leaving millions of dollars on the table with every executed campaign.

However, lost revenue and conversions are only half of the story. What about the positive brand equity, increased customer lifetime value, and reduced churn/unsubscribes that naturally come with building 1:1 relationships with your customers. You don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at the data:

Benefits of Personalized Mobile Marketing

What’s the Solution?

At Localytics, we believe that personalization is a critical component to any successful mobile marketing effort. That’s why we’ve made it our mission to remove the barriers that keep more than half the world’s marketers from embracing a personalized approach to marketing. Whether you are a newbie or an expert, our engagement platform is the most powerful in mobile because it is the only one that easily enables you to leverage your most granular pieces of data for personalization. With little effort, we allow you to remind Aaron about the red tundra jacket he left in his cart last Thursday, or change the communication channel based on his prior interactions, at scale. Ready to optimize for powerful 1:1 relationships with your customers? Contact a Localytics sales rep today.

One more thing, we are announcing a brand new workflow later this quarter that will make personalization even easier so stay tuned!

02 Mar 16:50

Why Mass Emails and Email Blasts are Things of the Past

by Andrea Robbins

Did you know it has been 47 years since Ray Tomlinson sent the very first email via ARPANET? The message was a test email and said something to the effect of “QWERTYUIOP.”

Over the years, we’ve seen marketers take this beautiful tool and use it in various ways to try and reach customers. We’ve seen the flux of unsolicited messages from marketers trying to get a sale by spamming consumers in the 90s. We’ve seen privacy and communications regulations as a response to these unwanted messages, and email marketers adopting anti-spam strategies in the early 2000s. We’ve seen early attempts at behavioral messages starting in 2001, and improving throughout the years.

More recently, the strategy of either purchasing lists or using your own list and sending out an “email blast,” or a mass email has been popular.

My how far we’ve come since those early days.

Thankfully, with innovations in data collection tools and email provider technology, all of the strategies mentioned above are (or at least should be) history. This new age of email marketing works to engage customers with data-driven tactics that ensure you’re only sending messages your subscribers want.

If you find you’re stuck in the past sending out mass emails, a generic newsletter, or have heard little of data-driven email marketing, this post is for you. Let’s dive into why mass emails are a thing of the past, as well as how you can keep up.

Automation is improving relevancy

Seventy-three percent of millennials prefer to connect with brands via email. However, that doesn’t mean millennials, or any other customer base for that matter, want spam, mass email blasts, or even a company newsletter. Rather, subscribers want relevant, highly personalized, and real-time messages from brands.

Upping your email automation game contributes to this desired relevancy. In fact, companies that send automated emails are 133% more likely to send relevant messages that correspond with a customer’s purchase cycle.

While fine-tuning your email automation strategy, it’s also worthy to note that in recent years email automation has carried a “set it and forget it” tone. While email marketing automation will save your team hours and hours of time, increase relevancy, and reach customers in real-time, the new 2018 approach to automation is “review and improve,” according to Research Director, Chad White, at Litmus.

White says this approach is already proven by positive results. Successful programs are 70.2% more likely to A/B test their automated emails at least once a year, and are 94.7% more likely to A/B test transactional emails at least once a year.
Up your game this year by not only automating your messages based on behavioral triggers, but also reviewing, testing, and improving your automation strategy throughout the year.

Personalization and segmentation are charming subscribers

It’s impossible to talk about email marketing without talking about personalization. And, if you haven’t jumped on the personalization bandwagon, here are some proven reasons it’s time to reconsider:

Are you convinced?

Email personalization includes strategies like adding the subscriber’s first name in the subject line, in the copy, and even in images just like the following example from Sephora.

Sephora Email Marketing Personalization

But, email personalization extends much further than those simple, yet meaningful gestures.

Personalize with segmentation

Personalization also includes collecting data on customers, creating customer profiles, and then segmenting lists to send more relevant messages to different subscriber groups. A favorite and simple example lies in the adidas email strategy for announcing new shoe collections.

Adidas segments their lists based on gender. Then, rather than sending their whole catalog to all customers, they send the men’s collection to male subscribers and the women’s collection to female subscribers.

Adidas Email Segmentation

Personalize with dynamic content

You can also use dynamic content to accomplish a similar effect. Dynamic content is where you change a specific part of content to appeal to different customer profiles or subscriber groups.

For example, if you are a large travel company like Flight Centre with a wide subscriber base, you may want to send all of your customers the same update about your company, but switch out travel deals based on the airport closest to each of your subscribers. For this, you can create a different section of content to appear based on the location of each of your subscribers.

Flight Centre Email Personalization with Dynamic Content

Other ideas for email personalization

Segmenting lists and dynamic content are popular ways to use data to create hyper-relevant messages for different subscriber groups, but you still have so many more options.

You can also personalize emails based on automated triggers like sending post-purchase emails with suggestions for similar products and/or offers.

You can personalize emails by collecting customer preference data and sending emails with relevant suggestions (think Netflix’s recommendations list).

You can also utilize personalization by sending an abandoned cart email reminder encouraging subscribers to complete their purchase. Jack Wills is a great example of a brand who sends reminder emails to customers as soon as they abandon their carts.

Jack Wills Abandoned Cart Email Reminder

The abandon cart marketing strategy is especially important considering emails sent within 60 minutes of a cart abandonment have a 40% open rate.

The list goes on. What’s important is staying up to date on the latest personalization tactics and working them into your email marketing strategies.

Email marketing is fostering customer loyalty

In the past, the goal of email marketing was to simply convert a lead into a sale. This idea is more commonly referred to as the marketing funnel.

With all the advances in data collection and email provider technology, the days of thinking of email marketing as a strategy to convert a lead into a sale is dead.

Instead, the new funnel uses email marketing to maximize the lifetime value of loyal customers. The goal is to own the complete journey of the customer life cycle and get those customers coming back over and over again.

For example, Sephora uses email marketing offers to engage regular shoppers as well as VIP members. Shoppers that spend over $200 get exclusive offers and discounts other members don’t receive. This email marketing strategy rewards loyal customers and encourages regular customers to spend more to reach VIP status.

Sephora Email Marketing Offers

Customer loyalty is a particularly important marketing funnel goal considering loyal customers are worth up to 10X as their first purchase, and a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%.

With this new marketing funnel, leads can enter at any stage, they can come in random order, and each customer may be enticed by something different. What’s significant is you can use email marketing to entice and nourish customers every step of the way.

Not to mention, email marketing continually remains the leading channel at every stage of this new funnel, according to Senior Director of Acquisition Channels, Samantha Anderl, at Campaign Monitor.

To experience more marketing success, an increase in sales, and a boost in customer loyalty, start using email marketing as a way not just to make a one time sale, but also to create lifetime customers out of your subscribers.

Wrap up

Email marketing really has come a long way over the past 47 years, and it only continues to improve. Mass emails and email blasts may still be popular tactics for some organizations, but after reading this article, you can see why they are now things that belong in the past.

As you keep up with the latest and greatest email marketing technologies, data collection tools, and strategies for increasing relevance, you’ll find that email is working wonders for your marketing goals, that your subscriber lists are more meaningful, and that customers are continually engaging with your brand.

02 Mar 16:49

Sales Leadership: The Past is the Past. Time to Move On!

by Mark Hunter
Three people reached out to me in the last few days and each one shared a common problem. Each person felt that due to problems they’ve had in the past in sales, they would never be successful in the future.  Each person was quite serious in their phone call or email, and each one appeared […]
01 Mar 22:16

The Rules for Selling with a PowerPoint Deck

by Steve Yastrow

Ditch the PitchWhen I told one of my team members the title for this article, her answer was, “That’s a simple one for you to write. You’ll just say, ‘Don’t, don’t and don’t.’”

Yes, it’s true, a PowerPoint deck is one of the best tools available if you want to kill a sale, so I encourage people to avoid them whenever possible.

However, there are times that you’re going to use a PowerPoint when you need to persuade people. Maybe your company requires it or, more nobly, maybe the information you need to share with your customer lays out well on slides. Since PowerPoint will occasionally be in the sales mix, let’s talk about how to use it.

First Rule of PowerPoint: It’s Not a Presentation

One of the best sales lessons anyone can ever learn is to “turn every presentation into a conversation.” So the first thing you need to do is stop thinking of your PowerPoint file as a presentation, and think of it as the background for a conversation.

PowerPoint is your backup band. It’s not the star. The main show is the conversation you are having with your customer(s), and the PowerPoint is just a tool to support that conversation.

(Oh, and another thing that goes with this rule: Don’t ever read your slides to your customer.)

Second Rule of PowerPoint: Ration Your Words

It’s common knowledge that you shouldn’t put too many words on a PowerPoint slide, but it’s also important to understand the reason why. The more you write on the slide, the less people will understand.

This may seem ironic, but words often get in the way of communication, especially when there are too many of them. When a PowerPoint slide suffers from a glut of words, the customer has to devote too much attention to reading and processing, which distracts them from the conversation.

When I have to use PowerPoint, I look at the few words on the slide as a hook upon which my customer and I can drape ideas. The purpose of this hook is to give my customer a clear frame of reference to help them understand and organize the information we are discussing.

Third Rule of PowerPoint: Don’t Railroad Your Customer

If you were an actor doing an improv scene, one sure way to piss off your scene partner is to force a plot direction on them, instead of letting the plot emerge from the interactions between you. This is called “railroading” your scene partner, for an obvious reason: It’s like laying down railroad tracks and forcing the other person to go down the path the tracks create.

I’m sure you’ve all been railroaded in conversations with friends or co-workers, where they force a conversational agenda on you, with no regard for any preference you may have. No fun, eh?

It’s tempting to use PowerPoint as a set of railroad tracks. Long before your meeting with your customer starts, you construct your PowerPoint deck, which seems to prescribe the order of the conversation. The deck implies a linear narrative, and it’s easy to fall into the path of that narrative. Isn’t it tempting to read the bullet points on slide 1, and then go on to slide 2, read those bullet points and then go on to slide 3? But what if your customer isn’t ready, willing or able to discuss the information in that order?

Avoid the tracks. As we said above, this is a conversation, not a presentation, and in a conversation both parties have a choice about where the conversation goes. Be willing to change the order of the conversation away from the linear order of your PowerPoint. What if the customer asks you about a topic that is five slides away in your deck? If the deck is printed, flip to that topic, and if you are presenting on your computer, immediately hit the escape key and go directly there.

An even better option might be to close the printed deck or turn off your computer screen (“B” if you are in PowerPoint slide show mode), and just talk about the topic with your customer. They just asked a question; maybe you shouldn’t let PowerPoint get in the way of your answer.

Use These Rules When Persuading Groups

I’m often asked for tips for persuading groups of people, especially when the group is expecting a presentation. I recognize it’s harder with a group, but my answer is to follow these three rules. You need the conversational feedback and conversational engagement to stay connected to the group, and that’s impossible if you, personally, are in slide show mode. Instead, think of yourself as the moderator of a discussion panel. Make eye contact with each person and ask for everyone’s input. As much as possible, don’t let one individual dominate the conversation.

Yes, PowerPoint can kill a sale, but if you follow these rules, you can use PowerPoint as a powerful tool to support your customer conversations. Here’s a technique to help you follow these rules: On the way to the meeting with your customer, imagine them engaged in an animated, enthusiastic conversation with you. As you visualize the two of you talking, notice how you are personally connected, focused on each other. And, in the background of that visualization, somewhat blurry, you see your PowerPoint presentation, off to the side, waiting to be called back into service, in its subservient, supportive role.

01 Mar 17:10

The First 90 Days: Onboard Sales Reps for Success [Infographic]

The first 90 days of a sales job is a crucial time to set up salespeople for success. See how to onboard your new sales hires and give them the confidence and knowledge they need to start selling successfully. Read the full article at MarketingProfs
01 Mar 17:00

How to Use the LinkedIn Resume Assistant in Microsoft Word

by Sandy Stachowiak

When was the last time you created or updated your resume using Microsoft Word? If it’s been a while, then you might be missing out on a helpful feature to improve your resume. The LinkedIn Resume Assistant is a handy tool that assists you with that all-important, job-catching document. What Is the LinkedIn Resume Assistant? The LinkedIn Resume Assistant provides you with example resume snippets from other people in your field. This lets you see how they describe and explain their work experience and job skills. If you struggle with the correct resume wording or how to best highlight your...

Read the full article: How to Use the LinkedIn Resume Assistant in Microsoft Word

01 Mar 16:58

7 Essential LinkedIn Profile Tips to Guarantee Success

by Dann Albright

Professionals turn to LinkedIn to make connections and search for new opportunities. Knowing how to make your profile stand out is the key to getting noticed. So, if you’re struggling to get noticed, these LinkedIn profile tips should help you attract recruiters.

1. Make Your Headline Specific

With millions of people on LinkedIn, you need to stand out from the crowd. So the first of our LinkedIn profile tips concerns headlines. When you show up in a search, a recruiter will immediately see your headline underneath your name. It’s the sole deciding factor in whether someone will click on you.

If you’re a writer, you won’t want your headline to say: “Freelance Writer.” That’s way too vague. Instead, go with a more detailed headline that clearly states what you do. Use a descriptive headline like “SEO Marketing Copywriter with experience increasing web traffic” would make a recruiter more likely to click on your profile.

2. Get LinkedIn Recommendations

LinkedIn recommendations are a great way to show that you’re a reliable worker. If you don’t know what recommendations are, they’re a positive remark that a coworker, boss, or client writes about you. It gets displayed on your profile for other companies and potential clients to see.

To get a LinkedIn recommendation, you have to request it. It’s best to request recommendations from your current boss, or from a previous manager who you got along well with.

When sending a recommendation request, provide context for the request. Let your manager know that you want to keep your profile updated, and you’d like them to leave feedback on a recent accomplishment or project. Make it your goal to have at least three recommendations on your LinkedIn profile.

3. Join Groups Related to Your Field

One of the best ways to connect with other professionals in your field is through LinkedIn Groups. Joining a Group gives you access to experts and even potential clients.

To search for a Group, head to the LinkedIn search bar. Enter the term you’d like to use to find a Group, and the site will redirect you to the search results page. You’ll want to filter these results by Groups only, so head to the dropdown menu that says More and then click Groups.

LinkedIn Groups Search Results

Once you join, you can get advice from other experts, find new connections, and establish your expertise in your field. In addition to joining Groups, you should also follow these popular companies on LinkedIn to stay updated on some of the biggest influencers.

4. Tell a Story

Your LinkedIn profile shouldn’t look bland. Simply listing your experience and a brief description isn’t enough. LinkedIn leaves lots of room for other details about yourself, and you should definitely take advantage of that.

First, take a look at your profile summary. Use your summary to let your personality and character shine through. Include your biggest achievement, and don’t hesitate to add some creativity.

You should also fill in your list of accomplishments, skills, and try to get some endorsements. Make sure to continually add to these sections as you learn new skills or accomplish big feats. You could also use LinkedIn Skill Assessments to showcase your abilities.

Have any volunteer experience or know another language? Add those in too. The goal is to make your profile as thorough as possible. That way, a recruiter can really get to know you and your story.

5. Add Publications, Videos, and Pictures

On LinkedIn, you aren’t limited to expressing yourself via text. You can add presentations, videos, and pictures to your profile as well. Visual media attracts recruiters to your profile and makes it more memorable. Opt to include an introduction video or a quick clip of your latest presentation.

LinkedIn Publications List Example

You can also choose to link to articles, academic journals, or blog posts that you’ve written. Not only does this help increase the views on those articles, but it also helps prove your proficiency. If you don’t have any articles to link to, you can always write and share a helpful article on LinkedIn itself.

6. Use the Right Keywords

Keywords are the words or phrases that recruiters use to search for potential employees. To find the right keywords for your profile, pretend you’re a recruiter that’s searching for someone in your field. What words would you use to find someone that does what you do?

LinkedIn's keywords your searchers used view

Let’s say you’re a graphic designer who specializes in creating product labels. For this example, you’ll want to include “graphic designer” and “product labeling specialist” as your keywords. You can find even more relevant keywords by searching for a position you would qualify for, and adding some of the words that these posts incorporate.

Sprinkling keywords throughout your headline, projects, publications, summary, and positions can help boost your placement in search results. Just remember not to include too many keywords in your LinkedIn profile. An excessive number of keywords is obvious to recruiters and sounds very unnatural.

After you start adding keywords, you should slowly start getting more views on your profile. You can see who has viewed your LinkedIn profile to find out if the right people are clicking on you.

7. Stay Active on LinkedIn

By liking, sharing, and commenting on posts, you’ll get your name out there even more. Other LinkedIn users will see that you commented on their post, which can spark a new conversation and a connection.

LinkedIn Post Activity

You can also improve your visibility by frequently making posts. These posts obviously have to remain related to your profession—posts about promotions, recent publications, and sharing relevant articles are most appropriate.

LinkedIn Profile Tips to Help You Get Noticed

LinkedIn is more than just a social media site—it’s a method of recruitment. By following the above steps, you’ll see an increased number of potential clients and recruiters flocking to your LinkedIn profile. It’s a great way to start your networking journey.

Do you want to take your LinkedIn use to the next level? Here are some reasons why LinkedIn Premium is worth paying for.

Read the full article: 7 Essential LinkedIn Profile Tips to Guarantee Success

28 Feb 16:10

How To Make Money From The Regulation Of Bitcoin

by brian wang
The unregulated, “Wild West” environment of the crypto market left investors wide open to fraudsters, scammers, and shady firms out to make a quick buck. The technology of blockchain and Bitcoin is...

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28 Feb 16:09

4 Common Pieces of Advice You Should Be Avoiding in Your Sales Emails

by Heather

Bad sales emails can happen to anyone. That’s why it’s so important to stay vigilant when it comes to taking advice from the internet. There are lots and lots of tips out there that, despite being completely ineffective, are fast becoming gospel in the sales world.

The best way to avoid making mistakes that could ruin your email outreach is to know the difference between an actual best practice and a misleading tip

With that in mind, here are four popular tips that are actually bad for your sales emails, and what you can do instead.

Do you have any questions about other sales advice you’ve heard? Just ask in the comments, and I’ll try to respond directly or answer in my next video.

The post 4 Common Pieces of Advice You Should Be Avoiding in Your Sales Emails appeared first on Salesfolk.

28 Feb 16:09

Is “Figuring Things Out” A Critical Sales Skill?

by Dave Brock

geralt / Pixabay

It seems much of the trend in sales is to provide our salespeople all the answers they need to cover every situation. We provide sales automation tools that instruct the salesperson exactly who to call and what companies.

We script the conversations, providing questions that get the answers we want.

We provide playbooks, we provide endless amounts of content, new programs, ready to send emails.

All the salesperson has to do is follow the playbook, stick to the script, blindly make the next call on the list.

We focus and instrument everything a salesperson should do, striving for predictable revenue.

And it works until it doesn’t…..

Increasingly, it seems not to be working. There is a disconnect between the customer and salespeople.

Customers complain that salespeople don’t understand them. Sure, these customers are the target personas in our target ICP. But each is different. Their situation is different, their priorities are different, what they think and believe is different and will change over time.

In complex buying, they are dealing with very challenging problems and they don’t know how to buy.

Their buying group struggle with aligning their own agendas and interests in the buying process, they struggle with priorities, they struggle in a constantly shifting business and competitive marketplace. What was true for them yesterday is no longer true for them today.

And their buying journey is constantly changing, and each different customer has a different buying journey.

Our salespeople struggle to engage these customers in a dynamic environment. Overlaid on the customer environment is the constant change in our own organizations, new products, changes in policy, changes in priorities, new programs, new resources for support, new hurdles we have to jump just to present solutions to our customers.

Every day, salespeople face an infinite number of possibilities for which there are no pre-scripted answers.

But in all our help, we are dumbing the salesperson down. We are making it increasingly difficult for them to respond in this dynamic environment.

We think we are being helpful. We think we are driving greater efficiency, but we aren’t equipping salespeople with the ability to deal with the situations they may face in the next call, or the next deal, or in managing/growing their account, or in finding new opportunities.

The more it isn’t working, the more we pile on, in the spirit of enabling them, where perhaps we are really disabling them.

Perhaps a different approach is required.

Perhaps, if we prepared our salespeople to “figure things out,” they would be better prepared to deal with that situation that is different from the previous situation.

Perhaps, if our salespeople knew how to “figure things out,” they could create great value by helping customers “figure things out.”

Perhaps, if our sales people were skilled at “figuring things out,” we wouldn’t have to invest so much in doing things that dumb them down.

As sales performance declines and organizations ratchet up the volumes to try to stay even.

Customers are increasingly tough to reach. Yes they are busy, but they are still searching for solutions, but dealing with salespeople isn’t providing them what they need.

28 Feb 16:09

How to perfect your cold email outreach with Sujan Patel of Mailshake and Evan Santa of Vidyard

by Ryan Robinson
Close-Mailshake-Vidyard Webinar Graphic (Featured Meta Image for Page) - Final-1.jpg

Today, we've got a recording of yesterday's value-packed webinar about perfecting your cold email outreach with Sujan Patel (Mailshake), Evan Santa (Vidyard) and Steli.

In this webinar, we're talking about how to perfect your cold email outreach so that you drive actual results for your bottom line.

There's a lot of noise out there about what makes a high-performing cold email (or scaled up outreach campaign), and we tackle that at length in yesterday's webinar. We're covering everything from getting better at prospecting, to finding the email address for your decision maker, increasing your cold email open rates, standing out in a crowded inbox, optimizing your emails to book more meetings, nailing your follow ups, and so much more. Watch right here:  

Huge thanks again to our guests Sujan Patel and Evan Santa!

Sujan Patel is the Co-Founder of Mailshake, where they help their customers create cold email outreach campaigns that start more conversations, qualify more leads, and close more deals. Mailshake also recently launched their free Cold Email Masterclass, featuring 8 in-depth lessons (including one taught by our own Steli Efti) on crafting cold emails that drive real results for your business.

Evan is the Business Development Manager at Vidyard, the online video platform designed to help you use the power of customized, embedded video messages to build mrore relationships, book more meetings, hit your sales targets, and more.

Want more webinars like this?

We're putting together a series of webinars just like this, with sales and marketing leaders from the world's top B2B startups. You can sign up right here for updates on our next webinar.

Who would you like to hear from next?

Comment below and let us know 😊

28 Feb 16:09

Can These Gamification Secrets Improve Your Sales Results?

by (George Brontén)

Over the past few years, countless apps have been developed to harness the benefits of gamification. There are games for helping you get to the gym, games for helping you divvy up household chores, even games to help you reduce anxiety and boost your mood.

28 Feb 16:09

Leadership Behaviors Are the New Selling Skills

by (Deb Calvert)

Maybe you’ve felt this way as a sales professional. Stereotypical selling skills take away from the joy of selling in a way that helps other people. Or maybe you’ve mastered traditional selling skills, but something is still missing. Our research with buyers and stories from sellers will show you how to use leadership behaviors to enhance your selling skills.

28 Feb 16:09

Generate Shareholder Value with a Sales Transformation

by Matt Sharrers
Our guest on SBI TV is Jack Molloy, Executive Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Services for Motorola Solutions. Jack has transformed the sales force and generated tremendous growth in shareholder value.  Jack is here today to share how he
28 Feb 16:09

Even MORE Secrets of the Top 1% of Sales Prospectors

by Mark Hunter
Recently I shared 7 things the top 1% of all prospectors do and then I shared the next 5 secrets that they do. Today I am sharing secrets 13-20. 13. Heavy use of the telephone, knowing the ability to have a live conversation will move a prospect forward faster than anything else. This is the one […]
28 Feb 16:08

A Statistical Look At The Software Sales Hiring Landscape in San Francisco

by Samantha Ste. Marie

The San Francisco Bay Area has consistently been ranked number one in the United States for quality of living. It’s also widely considered to be one of the best places for young and hungry software salespeople to establish and grow their careers. As a result, it has long been a tech powerhouse that is only

Read More

The post A Statistical Look At The Software Sales Hiring Landscape in San Francisco appeared first on Peak Sales Recruiting.

28 Feb 16:08

9 Quick Sales Presentation Tips All Salespeople Must Know

by Marc Wayshak

By implementing these 9 quick sales presentation tips, you’ll master the habits of superstar salespeople, every time you present to a prospect. Check it out now.

The post 9 Quick Sales Presentation Tips All Salespeople Must Know appeared first on Sales Speaker Marc Wayshak.

28 Feb 16:08

The Real Scoop on the Best Sales Methodology

by Gerhard Gschwandtner
Our latest research finds it is not adherence to a sales methodology but agility that produces superior results. Although sales leaders have long pushed their people to master one method of selling, it turns out that well-considered and purposeful deviation from a single methodology to accommodate different buying situations is the key to success.
28 Feb 16:08

4 Reasons Your Content Isn’t Working (And What To Do About It)

by kniemisto

As marketers, we spend vast amounts of time, effort, and sometimes money producing content and campaigns that speak to our prospects and customers to convince them to move to the next step of the customer journey. But there are ways in which our content and campaigns fall short for our audiences.

In this blog, I’ll show you the four reasons your content isn’t working and what you can do to improve.

1. Your Content is Not Relevant

Every one of your prospects and customers is different. They have their own wants and needs. They are at various stages of interacting with you as a brand, they are looking for different things, they will be convinced and put off by different things. It is impossible to create one message and make it relevant to your whole audience.

How do marketers solve this? Personalize content based on customer desires using a combination of explicit (form filled data) and implicit (calculated data). This should be across every channel not just email.

2. Your Content is Not Timely

The world is moving faster than ever, and there are so many demands on our time that often when we are looking into products and services, we are doing so in a small 15-minute chunk of our day.
Click To Tweet

We do it on our terms when it suits us. No matter what I’m looking for, I need to get the content to answer my questions when I need it. I do not want to have to wait for a week to get a callback, I do not want to wait until the right email is sent to me as part of your newsletter program.

How do marketers solve this? As far as possible, use inbound channels to personalize the experience for your visitors. Whether you are using web personalization to serve up relevant products, FAQs, or contact information, or if it is serving push notifications through your app, make the experience relevant for the user when they are engaged. Aim to trigger your results immediately so that your users do not have to wait.

3. Your Content is Not on the Right Channel 

Think about your mobile phone. You’ve got email, text messages, instant messaging, phone calls, apps. You probably use each of these for different things. At the same time, if you were to ask an older relative, they would use them differently than you do. Ask a younger relative, and they are likely to use them differently still. And all of this is context based. I personally wouldn’t want my bank to start a Facebook Messenger conversation with me, and I wouldn’t want my friends to send me emails when they have a trivial question. Everyone uses different communication channels differently. Yet as marketers, we tend to think simply of cost.

How do marketers solve this? Stop guessing and start asking. Ask people which channels they want to receive information through and adapt accordingly. You can do either as part of the email sign up process or later down the line. 

4. Your Content is Not Consistent

If I’m a customer visiting your website or calling you for support, my content should be just as personalized as that which winds up in my inbox.
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As a loyal customer, if I have to go all the way back to square one when I know you have information about me, I’m going to get frustrated quickly. We’ve all had the experience of being handed around at a call center. We’ve also likely had a similar experience where we’ve called in, and they know exactly who you are, your history with the company, and are able to assist you immediately. Having a one-off campaign that is relevant to the individual isn’t enough, it needs to be consistent across every campaign on every channel.

How do marketers solve this? Rather than creating ad hoc campaigns in a manual “spray and pray” process, use software which allows you to collect data on who your audience is, what they are interested in, what they want to receive, on which channel, how often, and allow it to do the heavy lifting for you. It simply is not possible to do all of this and stay consistent to all of your audiences through manual work.

Which of the above is the biggest challenge for you? Are there any other reasons you think content doesn’t work? Tell me about your struggles or solutions in the comments.

The post 4 Reasons Your Content Isn’t Working (And What To Do About It) appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership.