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12 Oct 17:23

5 Life-Hacks That’ll Boost Your Productivity!

by Shivam Trika

Productivity, productivity, productivity! Your boss expects it from you, you expect it from yourself and well don’t forget your mates and family, they expect it from you too! Seems like everyone expect you to be more productive when there’s a million things out there to get you distracted and diminished.

Watching that viral video before you start working or just logging into your Facebook account and boom! You have already wasted 2 hours of your precious time watching cat videos and checking your facebook feed.

Being productive all the time is hard with deadlines chasing you quicker than a rat and stress from all around the world resting on your head! Procrastination seems the only way out, but only for the time being! What will you do tomorrow? What happens if you’ll miss your deadline? More stress! More thinking! Less work! The struggle is mind numbing, we know.

So, here are 5 sure fire ways which will take your productivity levels through the roof!

1.Do the easier things first!

Many times, the work to be done is so much that the only way we see out is by delaying it further. This builds up stress and stress is a foe to your productivity. Cater to the easier, less time consuming things first. The point is to start somewhere…. Anywhere!

All what matters is that you start with something. Even If you have 10 blogs to write in a row, start searching for new topics or start reading random blogs. It will break your hesitation barrier as you will come up with new ideas for your blogs and will start your flow of productivity!

2. Set Cycles!

Your mind can not stay at the peak of it’s ability all the time. You are not a machine that chugs up coffee and produces! Setting work cycles and taking breaks in between of your work replenishes your brain. It’s important to set work-break schedules and follow them strictly to maintain a subtle level of creativity and productivity throughout your work hours. The best routine, in my opinion and of others, is working in 90 minute blocks with 10 minute intervals. Try it, test it and if it doesn’t feel right, alter it but don’t dump it!

3. Unmess the mess!

Want to get more done? Clear the mess in your office and keep it that way! Simple as that! Remember, mess creates stress. And well, stress is bad influence for you and your productivity.
Andre Agassi, the tennis icon, once said that he never allowed anyone to even touch his tennis bag because if it got disorganized, he’ll get distracted!”
That’s the kind of distraction you want out of your life!

4. Ditch the Multi-tasker in you!

If you think you will double your productivity by multitasking stuff, you’re wrong! It is now scientifically proven that your mind is not meant for multitasking. It hinders your productivity levels rather than increase it. And there’s a high chance that it will lower your IQ as well in the near future!

A study at University of London found that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines similar to what they’d expect if they had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night!”

Better instead, focus on a single important task at a time and put all your focus on it. Your mind works better that way!

5. Learn to say ‘No’!

Learning to say ‘No’ when you want is hard. Shunning down people is harder, when you have a deep desire to be liked and loved, it’s normal. And that desire pushes us to agree to everything that other people throw at us. Letting go of that desire is vital for delivering elite productivity, both in your personal and professional life. Next time, be a little selfish and say ‘No’ and focus on YOUR work first, save the favours for later!

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5 Life-hacks that’ll boost your Productivity! was originally published in Interakt Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Read the responses to this story on Medium.

12 Oct 17:21

Why Doctors Without Borders is turning down a million free pneumonia vaccines

by Lydia Ramsey

streptococcus pneumoniae

As it turns out, giving away medicine for free won't be the way to end drug pricing fury. 

The director of Medecins Sans Frontieres (otherwise known as Doctors Without Borders), a humanitarian group focused on supplying medical care in emergency situations around the world, penned a blog post Monday detailing the organization's reasoning for not accepting free pneumonia vaccines from pharmaceutical company Pfizer.

In theory, it might make sense: Give a set of vaccines away for free, and then they can be used by people who might not otherwise be able to afford them. But, MSF argues, it'd be better if the organization could just pay for the drug at a discounted rate than deal with the complications and restrictions that come along with donations.

"Free is not always better. Donations often involve numerous conditions and strings attached, including restrictions on which patient populations and what geographic areas are allowed to receive the benefits," the organization's executive director Jason Cone wrote. "This process can delay starting vaccination campaigns, which would be an untenable situation in emergency settings, or grossly limit who you’re able to reach with the vaccine."

Donations, Cone argued, are also not a sustainable solution, since the donation can be cut off or discontinued at any time.

Pneumonia, which can be caused by a virus, bacteria, or fungus, was responsible for killing 920,000 children in 2015. Pneumococcal vaccines protect against the bacteria Streptococcal pneumoniae. There are two pneumonia vaccines out there that MSF is concerned with: one made by GlaxoSmithKline, one by Pfizer.

For the past two years, Pfizer and GSK have been donating the vaccines to MSF, which Cone noted was a one-time thing.  MSF has been pushing both companies to supply the vaccine for $5 a child, and in September GSK agreed to do it for around $9 a child. 

A spokeswoman for Pfizer told Business Insider that the company had offered MSF another 1 million vaccine doses, including 100,000 doses right away, which Pfizer said would "build on the significant donation previously provided to MSF."

When asked if the donations would be the only way Pfizer would provide doses (as opposed to cutting the price), the company said, "We are actively exploring a number of new options to enable greater access to our pneumococcal vaccine, Prevenar 13 (Prevnar 13 in the United States), to aid NGOs facing humanitarian emergency settings."

Other organizations that provide vaccines to developing countries, such as the GAVI Vaccine Alliance, have policies in place about drug donations. GAVI, for instance, only resorts to donations "under exceptional circumstances."

"Donations of medical products, such as vaccines and drugs, may appear to be good 'quick fixes,' but they are not the answer to increasingly high vaccine prices charged by pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer and GSK," Cone wrote

SEE ALSO: Here's how common pain relievers actually work in your body and brain

DON'T MISS: The 10 most expensive drugs in the US

Join the conversation about this story »

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12 Oct 17:19

Why is Sales Leadership So Tough? And What to Do About It

by Nancy Sells

Sales leadership must be one of the toughest jobs in business. Just plug the term into Google, and more than 30 million results come back in about a half-second. You’ll find articles from Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Salesforce.com, and many, many others. They relay advice about the most effective habits of sales leaders, the characteristics of true sales leaders, the difference between sales leadership and sales management, and leadership behaviors that drive sales force improvement.

My advice? Read them. Not all 30 million. And not as a steady diet. But, if you are or aspire to be a sales leader, and you want to continually improve your performance, you should be well read on the topic of sales leadership.

I know firsthand about the trials of being a sales leader because I was one earlier in my career. It is a definite challenge, especially for those leading and managing change initiatives. Time and again, we at Richardson hear feedback like this from our clients:

“The most important lesson learned from this training program is the value of having executive-level support. From the CEO to the COO to the division presidents, [we have] unanimous support and vocal champions for the consultative selling approach.”1

“…the Sales VP championed what was the beginning of [our] Foundational Sales Program, an initiative to gain consistency across all sales teams in language, process, skills, and attainment of the five core competencies the company deemed most important.”2

Sales Leadership Priorities

Leadership of any kind takes a special kind of person: one who can motivate employees, set strategy, achieve results, satisfy stakeholders, and align with partners and influencers. Leading a sales function overlays an additional layer of complexity, requiring the discipline to keep sales manager and sales professionals focused on the right behaviors to hit their numbers.

If you are like most sales leaders, you probably came from a sales background. You were a great seller and got promoted to sales management and then to higher levels of leadership. But the skills that got you where you are as a leader are different from the ones needed to lead your people.

Even if you know what to do, the hardest part is doing it. You might be tempted to step in when your sellers are faltering and a sales opportunity hits a snag, but in doing this you do yourself and your sellers no favors. As a sales leader you have to rely on your team. You can’t hit your numbers by yourself; you need to develop every seller to be the best that they can be. In fact, I would say 60% of your time as a sales leader should be spent developing your people. If you work 40 hours each week, that’s 24 hours you need to devote to coaching and developing your team. If you work 60 hours each week, which is more likely, that’s 36 hours spent on development.

Sales Leadership and Sales Training

Even if you send your team to sales training, you still need to put in the time to learn what they’re learning and then coach to those behaviors so they become embedded in the culture. When sales leaders coach their teams, they become a force multiplier, keeping sellers on track and actively engaged in transforming their own performance.

What about all the other important things you need to do as a sales leader? Use the remaining 40% for strategy, reports, meetings with executives, and everything else. Excelling in sales leadership is an issue of time management, and it isn’t easy. But, if you can commit the majority of your time to coaching and developing your people, your results will reflect the greater contribution everyone makes as part of an effective, well-performing team.

To learn more about how to excel in sales leadership download Richardson’s developmental sales coaching brochure, email us at info@richardson.com or call us at 800.526.1650.

Download Richardson's Sales Leadership Training Brochure


1.All quotes for reference only; not for publication. This quote comes from the AlliedBarton nomination for the 2015 Brandon Hall awards program.
2.From the 2014 Stevie Awards, Sales Training or Coaching Program of the Year, WellPoint

The post Why is Sales Leadership So Tough? And What to Do About It appeared first on Richardson Sales Training and Enablement Blog.

12 Oct 17:18

Buying a Business? Look for These 7 Traits

by Dave Schoenbeck

Many people want to avoid the daunting process of setting up and growing a new business from scratch. As a result, buying an existing business has become a reasonable alternative. There’s no question about it: buying a business – no matter the size – is a big commitment.

If you’ve been pondering the idea of acquiring an existing small business, here’s a list of 7 traits you should be looking for prior to making the final decision. A big thanks to Brad Sugars for sharing his insights with me.

7 Traits to Look for When Buying a Business

buying a business

1. It has the potential to survive and thrive.

There’s no point in buying a business with minimal or zero opportunity to grow throughout different economic cycles. Learn all you can about the financial conditions of the business. Look at sales growth, profit margins, overhead, cash flow and working capital through various business phases. What trends do you see? Research the company’s main competitors to find more about changes in the market and industry.

2. It must have a repeat business future.
You want to buy a business that has a promising long-term outlook. This means buying a business with sustainable profits and repeat customers. Study the industry as a whole. Get specific information about opportunities and threats, as well as how the business is positioned in the market.

3. It functions with staff possessing lower-level skills.
This ensures you have access to ample and affordable labor. At the same time, you should aim to retain key employees who understand every nook and cranny of the business.

4. It has significant cash flow and is not asset-intensive.
Stay away from buying a business that is heavily capitalized, or one that requires large capital investments. It’s risky to buy a business with huge assets (i.e. heavy inventories, buildings, or equipment) that are worth less than your proposed price. Remember, you want to buy an income stream, not scary liabilities or significant assets with diminishing value.

5. Its opportunities for improvement are clear and fixable.
You want to buy a business where you can contribute your own skills and experience. You should have a vivid idea about the scope for improvement. Do you want to lower overhead costs and improve margins? Or do you want to focus on getting better lead flow and higher lead conversion rates?

6. It must be a great deal for the purchase.
This goes hand-in-hand with the financial health of the business. Are the records accurate and believable? Do the numbers add up? Take your time to do your due diligence. Have a thorough review process that will not only help you understand whether the company is as valuable as the seller has stated, but that will also alert you to potential problems.

7. It must have a great “jockey.”
You should want to buy a business that has a strong leader that will stay or transition the business. It’s important to learn about the company’s past and current owners. Find out why they want to sell the business: is it due to a divorce? Retirement? Do they have a desire for a lifestyle change or their children are not interested in running the business?

Likewise, learn about their ability as a leader. What have they accomplished with the business? Ideally, you want to look into businesses with talented owners and a next generation of non-family leadership.

It’s not possible to give a complete checklist of things to look for during the process of buying a business. In fact, purchasing businesses in different industries will involve many varying questions and decisions. However, these are some basic points to get you started.

12 Oct 17:17

Google DeepMind has doubled the size of its healthcare team (GOOG)

by Sam Shead

DeepMind Mustafa Suleyman

DeepMind, an AI research lab acquired by Google for £400 million in 2014, has provided an update on how its DeepMind Health unit is doing.

The London-based company told Business Insider on Tuesday that it has doubled the size of its team from 20 to 40 since launching in February this year, hiring several big names in the AI world along the way.

New hires include security and privacy expert Ben Laurie, who is the founding director of the Apache Software Foundation, a director at the Open Rights Group, and a veteran Google software engineer, and former CIO Tony Corkett, who helped the NHS to digitise X-rays.

Former Google Maps team leader Andrew Eland has been brought in to head up DeepMind Health's engineering efforts, while Will Cavendish, a former civil servant that worked on NHS online booking and prescription services, has joined as strategy lead. Elsewhere, ex-GE Healthcare executive Cathy Harris has been appointed as DeepMind Health's product lead.

All of the new hires will work alongside Mustafa Suleyman, DeepMind cofounder and head of applied AI at Google, and Dominic King, DeepMind Health's clinical lead.

The expansion of DeepMind Health comes as the company looks to do increasing amounts of work with the NHS. The company has announced three NHS partnerships so far, including an eyecare project, a kidney monitoring project and a cancer detection project. None of the projects hold any commercial value for DeepMind but the company eventually plans to start charging the NHS and others for access to its products and services.

The potential for AI to revolutionise healthcare is huge but there are issues that need to be addressed along the way, including complex matters like privacy, which caught out DeepMind earlier this year when New Scientist obtained an NHS information-sharing agreement between DeepMind and the Royal Free NHS Trust that showed the company had access to millions of medical records.

"Since we announced DeepMind Health earlier this year, we’ve been inundated with requests and suggestions from patients, nurses, doctors, researchers and Trusts," said Suleyman in a statement. "It’s clear there’s massive demand for new technology to help patient care, and many brilliant people across the NHS with practical ideas about how to make it happen.

"We also know that working in health is complicated, and we need many different types of expertise if we’re to build tools that have real clinical impact, integrate well with the needs and existing infrastructure of the NHS, and set ever higher standards for privacy and security. We don’t underestimate this challenge at all.

"Over the last year we’ve brought together some amazing leaders with diverse skills and experiences to join us on this mission. With continued input from and engagement with patients and clinicians across the country, we’ll be working hard to deliver on the promise of positive impact for the NHS and those, like us, who depend on it."

Join the conversation about this story »

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12 Oct 17:16

Why Sales Enablement Must Operate as a Business Within a Business [Podcast]

by Alyssa Drury

Over the last few months, the Sales Enablement Society has been growing to new heights, bringing together sales enablement practitioners all over the country to better define their roles and goals in a more strategic manner. At the first few meet-ups I attended this past summer, it was clear that the attendees were all so passionate about elevating and formalizing sales enablement as a strategic role and process—and uniting around a set of principles created for the group, by the group. These visions have now come to fruition, as the Society will have a number of regional meet-ups before its first national meeting on November 18.

The national meeting will highlight a number of accomplishments the Sales Enablement Society has achieved thus far, including the designation of the four main areas of enablement, the services enablement should provide, and the operating model of “enablement as a business within a business.” These tenets (and many more) will be discussed and explored at the national meeting in November, but we recently spoke with Jen Marie Jacober, a founding member of the Society, on the Sales Enablement Shift podcast about what a business within a business entails, and why it is so important to enablement’s success.

Jen Marie is a Founding Director of the Sales Enablement Society, as well as an independent consultant for organizations that are building or revamping their sales enablement strategies. Prior to this experience, she was the Senior Director of Sales Enablement at ViON. Jen Marie’s consulting background lends a valuable mindset to the business within a business operating model, and she shared some best practices with us on this week’s episode of the Sales Enablement Shift podcast.

In our last episode, Tamara Schenk shared best practices for building the internal business case for enablement, but it can’t stop there. Sales enablement is a strategic, ongoing process, so it’s imperative to set incremental goals with quantitative metrics that serve your internal customer.

Jen Marie offered a number of ways that practitioners can run enablement as a business within a business:

  • Identify the internal customer: in most cases, this is the entire sales force, but there is much value derived from starting with a small group and rolling out enablement incrementally
  • Identify the business needs your organization would derive from enablement: these will differ from one organization to the next, but could include aligning sales and customers, providing knowledge, skills and tools, fostering a smooth customer experience, removing obstacles to sales outcomes, facilitating collaboration cross-functionally, and more.
  • Determine how enablement impacts the bottom line: if sales enablement is unsure how it is affecting business goals, it will not succeed. Jen Marie recommends focusing on one or more strategic imperatives, such as shortening the sales cycle, accelerating time to productivity, optimizing deal size and type, increasing win rates, and more.

Operating a business within a business is ultimately viewed as a cost center for an organization, so this last tip is imperative. By tying enablement goals to the strategic goals of the entire organization, enablement is able to label itself as a revenue generator rather than a cost center. Sales enablement will be a unique entity at any company, so it’s important to define your customer, gain executive buy-in, and build your services in relation to organizational goals.

12 Oct 17:16

6 Accounts Payable Problems That Are Hurting Your Business

by Mahesh Jain

Most SMEs and large organisations make a high number of purchases every month. For this, numerous bills need to be processed. Also, there are many opportunities for negotiating discounts when the purchases are made in volume. Needless to say, most businesses find it challenging to track, pay and optimise the processing of the bills.

You may think, “Does it really matter? My AP process is working fine anyway.” But this tendency of not fixing what is not broken can make your business bleed money – without even realising it. An inefficient AP (accounts payable) process can:

  • Lead to loss of potential volume rebates
  • Drive up the cost of processing
  • Force you to inflate the team size
  • Prevent you from accessing clear data on vendor spend
  • Hurt relationships with suppliers due to late payments and penalties

While most of the problems in this process are a result of inefficient systems and errors due to manual entry, there are many other common issues that can hurt your AP process. Some of the most common issues include:

1. Manual entry and human errors

One of the most tedious and attention-demanding tasks in AP is keying in the data for entering, approving and paying a vendor invoice. Not only does this seemingly simple task eat up a lot of resources, but it also opens the floodgate for the errors. If your organisation relies on paper documents at every stage of the AP process, the likelihood of manual errors rises exponentially.

The easiest way of reducing the manual errors is through automation. For instance, using a Purchase Order system can help to digitise and automate most of the steps in the AP process, which leaves little room for human errors. Not only does this help save time, money and effort, but it also minimises the possibility of manual errors.

2. Challenges of information management

When you keep in mind the fact that a single purchase can require 2-7 paper documents, it is not hard to imagine that AP activities generate a lot of documents. As the documents are important, they need to be stored for a fairly long time. The bigger the business, the greater is the number of documents. And they pile up year on year!

Not only does it cost a lot of money to store the documents, but over time it becomes more and more difficult to track, access and manage them. This can have a huge impact on the efficiency of the AP department in the long run. In addition to reducing the transparency of your finances, this can also lead to duplicate payments.

The obvious solution to this problem is the digitisation of the documents. Use a secure server to store all the documents. Give your staff role-based access to the documents to make the information accessible without compromising security.

3. Changing expectations from the AP department

There used to be a time when the accounts payable process was viewed as a separate area of service, isolated from other financial and accounting areas. Not so anymore. Today, it is essential for FCs, FDs and CFOs to access information of all the F&A functions in one place. Owing to this need for consolidated information, AP is more than just recording and reviewing transactions. But paper-based processes make the task of searching and analysing information extremely difficult.

However, through a strategic use of technology and digitisation, not only can you enhance the AP functions but also add more value to the overall financial reporting and cash management. By combining analytics and digitisation with an optimised accounts payable processes, you can gain a much better visibility on corporate spend.

4. Complicated bills process

Purchase orders start at various levels in a large organisation. These may require the approval of several authorities. When there’s several departments involved and the chain of approvers is long, things not only get complicated but also slow down the payment process and drive up the costs of internal communication. A purchase order may end up passing through 5-6 people and the information can distort in the process, leading to decisions based on inaccurate data.

To combat the above, it is essential to streamline the AP process, aggregate all the AP functions in one centralised location and use a single staffing group for the billing of each department or company. A step-wise AP system that is hard coded into a software system can deliver dual benefits: speeding up of the bills process and elimination of human errors.

5. Inefficient payment process

Late payments to suppliers can have bitter consequences: the supplier may block your account or you may be penalised for late payments. At the very least, it will damage your reputation and trust. Similarly, duplicate payments may impact the cash flow and have a negative effect on the credibility of your finance function. The common reason for this is missed payments, duplicate payments or manual payments to suppliers who are set on direct debit.

In order to overcome this problem, it is essential to cut down on the instances of duplicate payments, ensure that the suppliers send the correct data at the start and to have a simpler process for approval of pending payments. Many businesses have nearly eliminated this issue through the use of an automated workflow process and system.

6. Cyber fraud

If you’ve been reading the above points carefully, you must have noticed that technology, digitisation and automation are essential to solving the key AP problems. But when you rely on technology, you bring in the possibility of cyber fraud. For instance, it is possible for fraudsters to contact your AP staff over email or phone and trick them into sending money to their accounts.

We understand the reach and impact of online fraud and have in place rigorous systems and standards to prevent fraud.

Summing up

At the end of the day, the challenge is to streamline your AP processes and put in place a system to ensure the implementation of a standard process. If you are able to resolve the above issues, you will not have to worry about late payments, you will maintain good relationships with your suppliers and your business will be able to make the most of rebates on high volume of purchases.

12 Oct 17:15

With IoT data, sometimes less is more

by Gary Davis
intel2

Connected devices may be the biggest security challenge we face over the next several years. Companies are keen to analyze user IoT data to better understand consumer behavior and are sometimes gathering more data than they need for their service. But what are the potential consequences to your customers, and your company, if this personal info is stolen or accidentally released? What happens when a criminal uses this information to stalk someone online?

Gary Davis, Chief Consumer Security Evangelist

Gary Davis, Chief Consumer Security Evangelist, Intel

With so many IoT devices, apps, and services coming to market, more and more personal info is being captured, transmitted, and stored, yet much of this data is unnecessary to support the functionality of the device or service. You may think this is not a big deal, but the more personal data you have, the more resources your company will have to devote to protecting it. If there is a breach, the bad guys can extract a large amount of personal information about customers. The potential consequences range from identity theft and fraud of your customers to significant financial damage to your company’s brand.

Once a month I get an email from my thermostat service, telling me how I compared to the previous month, to my neighborhood, and what external factors may have caused my energy use to change. This is valuable info that does not violate my privacy, and if I want to share it there are Facebook and Twitter buttons on the infographic. Even if I choose to share it publicly, there is no info that would give away my location, or when I am away from home.

unknown

Compare this to my fitness wearable, which wants to post to Facebook for every workout. While this is probably done for good reasons to help encourage and reinforce my exercise regime, it releases potential info on when I am at the gym and not at home.

When developing a new device or service, make it better by collecting less data. Instead of gathering everything you can possibly think of, determine what minimum data is required to deliver your service. Pay special attention to items that constitute personally identifiable info, and ask why they are needed. These include:

  • Full name and address
  • Document numbers, such as social security, passport, or driver’s license
  • Credit card or bank account info
  • Date of birth
  • Biometric data, including photographs of the face
  • IP address or other session identification details

One of the most common ways of identifying an individual is via a username and password. It’s been around since almost the inception of the digital age and is a constant source of concern as we see an increasing number of high-profile breaches exposing usernames and passwords. An emerging authentication alternative is using multiple factors such as your fingerprint and your device location to create a one-time token to authenticate a specific transaction like a banking or retail purchase online.

For IoT data, tokens improve security

This would be used instead of relying on usernames and passwords. These tokens only exist for the time to complete your specific transaction and are not vulnerable to a brute force attack, and cannot be reused even if they are stolen. Moving to single-use tokens greatly improves the security of your interactions.

Tokens can be validated more easily than a complicated password encryption, reducing login time, and the password is not stored anywhere else and does not travel outside of your most secure systems. In the event of a breach, any stolen tokens are useless for authentication and do not enable the attacker to calculate the next valid token. In the spirit of doing more with less, think about embracing authentication tokens instead of usernames and passwords.

With so many new devices and services coming to market, it is necessary to safeguard your business and your customers. Connected devices should not collect, keep, or transmit more data than they need to operate the service, especially personally identifiable information. There are multiple companies doing this right, which delivers value to me as a consumer while also gathering useful data for their own use, without revealing personal info.

The post With IoT data, sometimes less is more appeared first on ReadWrite.

12 Oct 16:50

Going Above and Beyond With Your Email Marketing [Part 2]

by Matt Banner

Previously on Sales Wars: Part 1 of our two part series “Going Above and Beyond With Your Email Marketing” emphasized the importance of personalizing and maximizing one’s email marketing strategy. This week—sales Jedi Matt Banner returns to share how this new and improved strategy can be used to take on the marketing universe.

7 Ways Email Marketing Puts Your Business and Your Brand on Blast

1. You Can Measure Your Success

Results

Measuring the success of your marketing can be extremely difficult when you’re dealing with things like social media, organic search, and PPC campaigns. This isn’t the case with emails; however, through a few simple statistics, you can track the exact return on your investment:

  • Track email open-rates
  • What email platforms users have
  • Click-through rate
  • Conversions

With these simple statistics, you can pinpoint exactly how much return you made on your email marketing efforts. Can’t beat that!

2. Professional Email Build Links
Link Building

While the main focus of your email marketing is to reach consumers, nurture leads, and gain conversions, a great email campaign can do so much more for your business. When you’re planning out your link building efforts, email outreach will quickly become a viable option. Knowing how and when to send emails to your influencers can mean the difference between a link and a pass.

3. Email Marketing Can Be Personalized
Email Marketing

Many types of marketing focus on a wide audience, and fail to bring unique and tailored experiences to different types of customers. This is where email marketing rises to the occasion. You can start this process by segmenting your email list into different types of subscribers.

Here are a few to consider:

  • New subscribers (people who haven’t bought anything)
  • Recent conversions (they bought something for the first time)
  • Dedicated buyers (frequent purchases)

While you want to continue narrowing down these categories, starting with something like this allows you to understand the current mindset of the users you’re targeting. The new subscriber wants more information from your company’s blog, the recent conversion wants more options to choose from, and the dedicated buyer wants a VIP experience and exclusive promotions.

It’s Getting Better:
Today’s email marketing solutions will help you create personalized emails like these that pull from a customer’s recent purchases or behaviors. You can even set triggered emails to send when customers do something like make a purchase or sign-up for your email list.

4. Email Marketing Costs Less
email marketing costs less

While other types of marketing will have high overhead costs and require a large team to maintain, email marketing can be done with a fraction of the time and capital. There are a variety of services and software that can help you utilize templates and automation to manage your email marketing campaigns without the need for a massive team.

5. A Variety of Users
Perfection

Email can be used for almost any aspect of communication between your business and your customers. Whether you’re sending an announcement, promoting your latest blog post, or inviting them to an event, email is one platform that can satisfy almost any communication need.

6. Faster Sales Conversation
Bullseye

No other platform but email allows a customer to see a call-to-action and immediately purchase the product within a few clicks. This friction-less process allows for massive conversions based solely on impulse buying nature.

7. Global Reach

Once someone provides their email to you, a direct connection is established between you and them, no matter where they are. This ability to reach customers on a global scale makes the potential of email marketing practically limitless in terms of reach. In a world where organic reach on social media is dwindling, in email marketing—it’s never been higher!

Final Thoughts
Email is incredible in that it offers a low-cost, high return opportunity to reach countless new leads and customers, regardless of their location. It is a powerful means of communication, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. With the right tools, and an understand of how subject lines and personalization plays into the overall strategy, you can create long-lasting relationships with your customers, and foster new ones through lead nurturing.

How do you utilize email to build links, generate leads, and skyrocket your conversions?

12 Oct 16:50

How to Get Sales and Marketing Working Together Better

by Ashley Irving

Here’s the truth: Sales and Marketing need each other.

But here’s a colder, harder truth: They hate each other.

According to a recent survey, 87% of the terms marketing and sales team use to describe each other are negative.

Based on my experience working in different industries, the main culprit is the failure to act as one.

Most businesses don’t see sales and marketing as working together as one team, so they’re kept separate.

This means marketing is doing their job, without knowing what sales really needs, or what the prospects are asking for (like white papers, marketing collaterals, etc).

Also, marketing is generally salary-based work, whereas sales is commission-based.

I don’t argue for one or the other, but this could cause friction where both teams are trying to improve the number of leads or sales; when they should be focused on improving quality.

So, how do you bridge the gap between two of the most powerful teams in your business?

Set up a regular meeting

At my time at HubSpot there was a meeting every week. Both marketing and sales would get together to look at numbers, or experiments they’re working on. Sales and marketing work together a lot, and their numbers are tied together, instead of being walled off.

Make them realize they need each other

Marketing has the content sales need to convert leads:

  • Whitepapers
  • Brochures
  • Blog articles
  • Webinars

On the other hand, sales has the information marketing need to conceptualize and create new ideas. As much as possible, have the marketing team attend sales calls or listen to recorded sales calls afterwards.

The materials that marketing can make from these activities are valuable in creating effective campaigns.

Likewise, have your sales team attend regular meetings on marketing strategies and development. They can provide insights on what’s going on in the field; which makes it easier for marketing to create relevant content.

In time, both will realize how much information can be exchanged, propelling them to a new sense of respect and accountability for excellence.

Create a buyer’s journey

Each customer undergoes 3 stages before a purchasing a product:

Awareness – The buyer is aware of his problem and intends to learn more about it

Evaluation – The buyer has identified the problem and conducts a thorough research on how to address it

Decision – The buyer is ready to make a decision

The marketer’s goal is to spot the types of information customers need at every phase of the journey. Afterwards, marketing will pass this information to the sales team, who is now ready to engage leads with clarity and understanding the specific requirements to close the sale.

Sales shouldn’t try to sell at the awareness stage.

Instead, buyers would prefer to get a whitepaper, an idea kit, or a tip sheet to educate them further.

On the other hand, buyers below the decision stage won’t find a how-to video helpful.

Developing a buyer’s journey guarantees that everyone is harping the same message, targeting the same problem and speaking to the same customer.

Integrate technologies into an effective and measurable hand-off process

Bill Babcock once said:

You need an easy way to get leads into the right hands automatically, a way for them to report on whether they have accepted or rejected the lead, and, if they accepted the lead, what the disposition eventually was—won, lost, or not really a lead.”

Wouldn’t it be great for both the Sales and Marketing to use the same technology stack?

Think about the benefits of having one:

  • An inbound marketing activity provides a detailed information on how to move forward in the sales process
  • Gathering sales feedback is much easier resulting in better marketing campaigns and efficient allocation of funds
  • Real-time reporting helps identify key challenges and opportunities within the sales funnel
  • Create helpful and personalized messages when nurturing leads

Evangelize the Power of Smarketing

According to HubSpot, smarketing refers to the alignment between your sales and marketing teams created through frequent and direct communication between the two.

I believe smarketing is the best way for improving lead generation and increasing profits.

Here’s why.

When working closely, sales and marketing enjoy a 36% higher customer retention rates. Plus, companies who have their sales and marketing aligned can achieve up to 20% revenue growth.

How is this possible?

First, smarketing allows sales to address the issue of prospecting leads. With marketing sharing customer insights with sales, reps can give a more personalized approach to the lead.

And the more personalized the message is, the more likely that leads convert and become long term customers.

Second, smarketing lets marketing increase its lead conversion rate. By following up on leads, sales can help marketing gain insight on how to create content in making conversions better.

Is the turf war real?

Can you think of other ways to bridge the gap between sales and marketing?

abc

12 Oct 16:50

4 Ways Marketing Managers Can Benefit From Working With Pro Freelance Writers

by Laura MacPherson

Imagine having enough time in the day to actually get your important-but-not-urgent projects finished. Or being able to level up your content marketing. Or increasing the conversions on your landing pages so you’re able to deliver more high-quality leads to sales.

I don’t know of anyone leading an in-house marketing team who wouldn’t want those things. But most in-house teams are kept at capacity — their time is taken up with all the things that are a part of their own job descriptions.

If you’ve got an in-house creative team, pro freelance writers may not be on your radar, but they should be. Here’s why.

1. Expertise

Few companies that aren’t large corporations can hire teams of full-time pro writers who are content strategy experts, who understand persuasion psychology, and who are well-versed in conversion optimization. The hiring budget just isn’t there.

But when they work with pro freelance writers who specialize in these areas, companies are able to take advantage of that expertise without paying a full-time salary plus benefits. And because there’s no long-term commitment, managers have a much easier time getting a budget approved for freelance help.

2. Experience

Pro freelance writers can bring new ideas and fresh perspective to the mix, because they typically have a wide range of experience across a variety of industries. They can provide insights that your own team just wouldn’t be able to without the benefit of the same experience. And they can recommend what worked in another industry and tweak it to work for yours. Ideas that never would have occurred to you can boost your campaigns to perform better, enabling you to deliver more value to the company (and increase your own value simultaneously).

3. Efficiency

Full-time, salaried team members have their attention scattered across many different areas, and they’re constantly being pulled in different directions. Let’s face it. Because freelancers work on a project basis, and because their income is directly tied to how efficiently they perform their work, they tend to be able to deliver individual projects faster than an in-house team member would. If you need to get something done in a timely and reliable manner, a pro freelancer is often the best way to do it.

4. Affordability

The combination of expertise, experience, and efficiency equals affordability. And I’m not talking about someone who has cheap rates. True pro freelancers are able to complete projects more cost-effectively because they create high-quality work that performs well, they contribute ideas that come with the package, and they meet deadlines.

Even if you’re paying a high rate (which you will be, if the freelancers you’re hiring are true professionals), your company is going to get strong ROI. Especially if you use your freelancers on a regular basis, you’ll maximize the money you’re spending. This benefit is the one that will probably sell your CEO and financial leadership on the idea of adding freelancers to your in-house team — when they see the numbers laid out, it’s a no-brainer.

What could a pro freelance writer or two do for your team? Think about the possibilities, make your own specific list, chart out the budget with the projected ROI, and pitch the idea to your leadership. You may be surprised how easy it is to make it happen.

Free-Landing-Page-Checklist-CTA

12 Oct 16:49

5 Simple Tricks Salespeople Can Use to Talk Less

by afrost@hubspot.com (Aja Frost)

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One of the simplest ways to differentiate untrained salespeople from experienced ones? Pay attention to how much they talk.

Successful reps spend the majority of their time with prospects listening and asking questions, rather than talking about their product -- or talking at all.

Not only does this strategy help them earn buyers’ trust, it also leads to insights reps can use to personalize their messaging and recommend the right solution.

Despite the major payoff of saying less, many salespeople struggle to do so. These five techniques will help overly talkative reps be more brief.

1) Write Yourself a Post-It Note Reminder

A visual reminder to speak less can have a big impact. Reps can write a note to themselves and stick it somewhere visible, such as on their monitor or near their phone. When they’re on a call, seeing that note typically helps them tamp down the instinct to talk.

HubSpot sales rep Gary Valenti keeps a note on his desk that reads “W.A.I.T.,” an acronym for “Why Am I Talking?”, and also uses technique #2 to keep his conversations focused.

This technique still works in face-to-face meetings, although it requires getting a little creative. Salespeople can jot down their desk reminder on the front page of their notes when they attend client meetings. When they look at their papers, they’ll see the reminder. Clients, of course, will have no idea.

2) Ask Your Question, Then Press Mute

Reps who can’t stop interrupting their prospects should use their phone’s mute button. Pressing “Mute” while the buyer talks makes it impossible to cut in -- even if the salesperson does let something slip, their prospect will be none the wiser.

This strategy also gives prospects the chance to expand on their thoughts. They often seem like they’re completely finished talking. However, in the second it takes reps to press “Unmute,” many prospects will take a breath and continue talking.

3) Track How Long You Speak

To keep their prospects engaged, salespeople should generally speak for less than 30 seconds at a time during discovery. The average person can pay attention for a mere eight seconds -- so if the rep has been asking questions for half a minute, there’s a strong chance their prospect has stopped listening or forgotten the original query.

Reps should review their recorded calls with a stopwatch to see how long they usually speak. This exercise will give them a good sense of when they’re talking too long.

4) Don’t Announce Intent Before Making Requests

Most people naturally preface a request by explaining why they’re asking. But as Jeff Hoffman explains, this tendency doesn’t just make salespeople sound pushy -- it also adds five to 20 seconds every time they pose a question or make an ask. Over the course of a call, those seconds add up.

Reps should get to the point faster by cutting out their initial explanation.

Announcing intent: “Now that we’ve determined your needs, I’d like to loop in the other stakeholders. Is there a good time next week for us to meet?”

Getting straight to the point:Is there a good time next week for you, me, and other stakeholders to meet?”

As a bonus, eliminating the upfront explanation helps reps cut out selfish phrases like “I’d like,” “I want,” “I’d love,” and so on.

5) Write Down Your Questions

Salespeople should fight the urge to ask multiple things at once by writing down their questions. With the question in front of them, reps won’t feel compelled to ask it immediately so they don’t forget. As an added bonus, they’re free to concentrate fully on the buyer’s answer instead of reminding themselves to ask the question, an essential part of active listening.

6) Ask One Question at a Time

Two, three, or four-part questions are overwhelming for prospects. It’s impossible for them to remember everything the rep asked, so they usually end up answering the last question they heard. Reps will need to repeat themselves to get the information they’re looking for -- which means they’ll be taking up even more airtime.

This also helps reps adapt to their prospect’s responses. If the buyer gives an unexpected response to the salesperson’s first question, the salesperson will probably want to change their next one. By asking one question at a time, reps give themselves the freedom to modify their line of inquiry.

It’s tough to speak less. You need to be conscious of everything you say: Its purpose, relevance, and impact. Once you’ve mastered the art of brevity, your prospects will reward you with deeper engagement and greater respect.

HubSpot CRM

11 Oct 17:06

Israel is going to start giving entrepreneurs special immigration visas

by Sam Shead

Chief scientist of Israel

Israel is poised to launch a dedicated immigration visa for tech entrepreneurs "within weeks," according to Avi Hasson, the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Economy of the State of Israel.

Several hundred entrepreneurs from around the world will be welcomed to Israel — often dubbed the "Startup Nation" — under the new visa, said Hasson during an interview with Business Insider at his office in Tel Aviv on September 26.

"We need more people to come in and generate," said Hasson at the DLD Innovation conference the following day. "We're working with the Immigration Authority and the Ministry of Finance to set up a fast track to bring in entrepreneurs from abroad."

Israel's entrepreneur visa has been in the pipeline for more than a year, based on a report from The Jerusalem Post which was published last October.

Hasson added: "We will be launching a new programme in the next few weeks: a visa for entrepreneurs."

Before being handed a visa, the overseas entrepreneurs must first of all complete a stint at one of 12 accelerators and incubators in Israel. This will apparently help them to navigate their way around Israel's tech ecosystem, according to Hasson. "After that, you get a visa to set up company and work here for five years," he said.

Hasson, who is also keen to get more ultra orthodox Jews and women into tech in Israel, was unable to specify exactly how much the visas will cost but he said they should be less than $1,000 (£817).

But some in the Israeli tech ecosystem think that more entrepreneurs is the last thing that the country needs. Moshe Hogeg, cofounder and president of luxury smartphone company Sirin Labs, said the Israeli government should be focusing on trying to attract more highly-skilled engineers, adding that startups have to compete with Silicon Valley giants like Google, Apple, and Facebook when it comes to hiring.

Hogeg said there's more of a need for an engineer visa than there is for an entrepreneur visa. "We're not building big companies, we're building small companies," he said. "The average exit in Israel is $30 million (£25 million). It's tricky. Right now engineers are very hard hard to get."

Israel also has 4,000 so-called "specialist visas" for highly skilled people across a variety of industries, with 1,000 of those available to people working in tech.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Your iPhone just got a massive update — here are 7 hidden tricks you need to know

11 Oct 17:04

3 Rules To Drive Change In Organizations

by Erika Goldwater

Why or how do organizations drive change? At times, organizations enact change because they want to take advantage of a competitive situation. Other times change occurs out of necessity, it may forced for one reason or another or conversely, it happens organically. Change is a natural occurrence both in our personal lives and in business. In business, when change within an organization occurs, the most successful endeavors are as a result of leadership from the top.

“Adaptability is about the powerful difference between adapting to cope and adapting to win.”  Max McKeown

A year ago we took a hard look at our website. Although it was functional, it didn’t showcase our company the way we wanted it to. It felt dated, lacked the energy that we desired and needed an overhaul. Basically, to deliver the customer experience we wanted, we had to scrap the old site and start fresh.

If you haven’t done a website revision before, it is no small feat. It’s a huge commitment, both in terms of financial and human resources. For a complete redesign, we needed a totally new look and feel, an updated content management system, updated content, and for good measure we changed our marketing automation platform and optimized our internal Demand Process to better manage our demand generation strategy. No big deal, right?

However, while this was a needed change, we simply could not just tell our executive team that we wanted to invest in a new website, we had to make the business case and get them to not only sign off, but be the drivers of this change in the organization. How did we do that?

1. Identify the need for change – clearly
Use the language that executives respond to. Focus on the ways in which the change will drive the results the organization needs (revenue, opportunities, speaking engagements, etc.). Keep your value proposition simple and illustrate the benefits of change and be ready to defend your position. We had to show our execs what this investment in time, resources and finances was going to produce.

2. Engage a team
No change management initiative or big project is ever accomplished by one individual, it takes a village. Identify who within the organization will be required for the project and understand who will be needed for supporting roles, often in cross-functional capacities. For a website project like ours, it was not just marketing on the “website team” as it included technology, sales, support, customer service and others groups both inside and outside of the organization.

Organizations of every size need to plan and schedule resources across projects so understand previous commitments by your “team” and plan accordingly.

3.Utilize planning tools
Both small and large-scale projects require extensive planning, countless resources, tracking of schedules, assets, deliverables and dependencies. You can’t manage complex projects via Excel. Real project management solutions that are scalable across the organization and beyond are required though out any multi-disciplinary endeavor. At ANNUITAS we utilize several different tools including Basecamp, Wrike, and Dropbox to manage files, schedules, communicate status, and review and edit content.

Enacting and driving change is not a fast process, nor is it an easy process. However, understanding the critical components for change can help ensure the process is embraced. A website redesign isn’t the biggest of changes organizations will encounter; however, it was a critical need for our business and no small undertaking for any organization.

Following these three steps helped us achieve a positive change by launching our new site. However, we ultimately changed more than our site. We changed our internal sales and marketing processes and our engagement with our buyers and partners as well. Change is a team effort and it doesn’t stop once the project has launched. Take the steps to make it successful before you begin the process.

Everybody has accepted by now that change is unavoidable. But that still implies that change is like death and taxes – it should be postponed as long as possible and no change would be vastly preferable. But in a period of upheaval, such as the one we are living in, change is the norm.”
Peter Drucker

 

The post 3 Rules To Drive Change In Organizations appeared first on Annuitas.

11 Oct 16:57

40 Productivity Hacks High Achievers Use

by karolaka@gmail.com (Merily Leis)

productivity-hacks-high-achievers.jpg

We all have 24 hours each day, and we spend eight to 12 of them at work. But how much of that time is actually productive?

You go to the office and start working on a project. In 30 minutes, there's a team meeting. Then there's another meeting with your boss. After that, you spend 15 minutes drinking coffee and 30 minutes answering emails. In these 30 minutes, you check your phone six times as the notifications keep popping up. Next' it's time for lunch.

If you think about your days at work, hours of time is spent procrastinating.

But not the high achievers. Instead of checking their phone dozens of times per hour or worrying about the next day's tasks, they use smart productivity hacks to get them through the day. Work management software company Scoro put together an infographic with tried and tested productivity tips from high-achievers. Start using these hacks in your daily routine, and get more done while living a healthier life.

Scoro-Infographic-Productivity-Tips.png

HubSpot CRM

11 Oct 16:53

How To Find Anyone’s Email Address In 60 Seconds Or Less

by Joshua Daniels

If you’re a specialist in SEO or link acquisition, then you’ll know that generic email addresses are as much use as a chocolate fireguard when it comes to outreach.

You need to develop personal connections with influencers, regardless of whether you work in PR or SEO, it’s always the same.

But finding the right person’s email address can be a draining, time-consuming task.

Who has time for that?

Well, actually, it’s not so difficult, or time-consuming.

In this post, I’m going to walk you through the exact step-by-step process our agency uses to find (almost) anyone’s email address, in 60 seconds or less!

#1 – LinkedIn & Email Hunter

LinkedIn has to be one of my personal favorites for finding anyone’s email address.

According to a report by Statista, LinkedIn now has over 450 million members – an increase of 413 million since 2009.

Finding an email address with LinkedIn is easy – but it involves a two-pronged approach, so let’s start with the first step.

Simply head over to LinkedIn advanced search and enter the name of the company who your target works for.

You’ll then be provided with a list of relevant people who work there.

Depending on the size of the company, however, you may wish to include specific keywords or titles to narrow the search.

For example, if you’re searching for someone who works in the editorial department, make sure to include the title “editor”.

Below is an example, for illustrational purposes.

LinkedIn Advanced Search

Once we have some top-notch results, let’s move on to step 2.

If you want to fetch someone’s email address in a flash, then I’d recommend you sign up to Email Hunter and download their Chrome extension. It’s free up to 150 requests per month and integrates with LinkedIn.

Once you have clicked on the relevant person’s profile, a slick red button will appear next to their profile picture.

Email Hunter on Linkedin

Click this button, and VOILA.

Email Hunter email finder on LinkedIn

Piece of cake.

Email Hunter has a super high success rate and it works well for finding most corporate emails.

#2 – Followerwonk & Viola Norbert

If LinkedIn proves unsuccessful, then give Followerwonk and Viola Norbert a try!

Followerwonk is a Moz-owned Twitter tool that has lots of great features for marketers, although Moz recently announced they will no longer be investing in Followerwonk and they intend to find a good home for it, so we’re hopeful it will be here to stay!

A simple yet powerful feature of Followerwonk allows you to search keywords within Twitter bios, allowing you to quickly track down the person you’re looking for.

For this example, we’ll include the keyword “director” with the URL “goamplify.co.uk” to quickly find my profile.

Followerwonk Search Bio Feature

Then, once you have the full name of the person you need to speak to, copy and paste his/her name directly into Voila Norbert.

Voila is a powerful tool that pings the mail host to find and confirm the correct corporate email address, so it has high accuracy.

It’s not rocket science either, simply conduct a search, and you’ll be provided with the relevant email address.

Voila Norbert Email Search Feature

Once you sign up for a free account, you’ll get 50 free leads to play with.

#3 – Google Search Operators

Sometimes, we all like taking shortcuts.

And there’s nothing better than using Google search operators to help you easily find those ‘hard to find’ web pages and contact details.

Combining the target domain, name of the person, and specific keywords in search operators can work a treat.

Head over to Google and search one of the following examples…

site:companywebsite.com + “name” + contact

site:companywebsite.com + “name” + email

Should the relevant persons contact details be published on the domain, operator shortcut should instantly provide you the page you’re looking for, along with the contact information you need.

#4 – Mail Tester

If you have an email address, but you’re not 100% sure it’s correct, head over to Mailtester to see if it’s real.

Mailtester Email Validator

Mailtester usually gives a really good indication of whether it’s a valid email address.

But the tool is dependent on how the websites mail servers are set up.

On occasions, mail servers block email verification and it will be highlighted in yellow, in which case, you’re out of luck.

If it returns in red, that means the email doesn’t exist.

Most of the time, however, it’s green, so pop this in your bookmarks, and it’ll save you a bundle of time.

#5 – All My Tweets

All My Tweets allows you to crawl and display up to 3,200 recent Tweets from any profile, all within one page.

All My Tweets

When you search for your targets Twitter handle, use CTRL + F and search for the keyword “email” or “@examplesite.com.”

Twitter Search using All My Tweets

This saves you a great deal of time scrolling through their Twitter page to find the targets email address.

Simple stuff!

#6 – Pick up the phone

If you’re having a hard time finding an email address online, then you should pick up the phone and just ask.

If you have a direct phone number for the person you’re trying to reach, then great, but make sure you get off on the right foot by talking about something of value.

If you have a super amazing piece of content that’s relevant to their audience, or an outstanding product that will get them excited, then pick up the phone.

However, DON’T call if you don’t have a good reason to do so.

Put yourself in their shoes, would you be interested what YOU have to offer?

Hopefully, you did enough research before carrying out any outreach in the first place.

Wrapping it up

Hopefully, these simple yet powerful techniques will help you to find your target’s email in a flash, and will save you a great deal of time so you can focus on what matters – building relationships.

Have I missed any of your favorite email finding tools? If I have, feel free to share in the comments below!

Image Credits

Featured Image: Pexels

Screenshots by Joshua Daniels. Taken October 2016.

11 Oct 16:52

If What You Are Doing Was Working

by Anthony Iannarino

If your dream client could produce the results they need without your help, they’d already be producing those results.

If your competitor, the company and people serving them now, could help them produce those results, they’d have already done so.

If the financial investment your dream client was making was enough for them to be completely satisfied, that financial investment would be the right amount.

If continuing to do things the way they’ve always done was going get them where they wanted to go, you wouldn’t have found your dream client where you found them.

No doubt, you agree with these ideas. Your experience tells you that they are true. You know that if your dream client really wants what they want, they’re going to need to change, and maybe more than they think.

What’s harder to see is, however, is how much we are like our clients.

Take a Look At Yourself

If what you are doing right now was producing the results you want, you’d already be producing those results, wouldn’t you?

If your client acquisition efforts were enough to get you the clients you need, you’d have those clients. If what you are doing here isn’t getting you those clients, what do you need to change?

If the way you sell was enough to command the investment you require, you’d have no trouble acquiring that investment. If how you sell isn’t working to allow you to capture the appropriate share of the value you create, you need to change the way you sell.

If you want to be a change agent, then you first have to be able to make changes yourself. When you recognize how difficult this is for you, you’ll know why it’s so difficult for your clients.

Your potential exceeds anything you can imagine, and it’s your job to reach that potential, an impossible feat, but one worth pursuing. What do you have to change to get closer to your full potential?

The post If What You Are Doing Was Working appeared first on The Sales Blog.

11 Oct 16:51

The Career Path of a Sales Development Rep

by Matt Wesson

Sales Development Reps occupy an interesting space in most companies. They’re often viewed as “entry-level,” or even, at times, “churn-and-burn” type roles. That perception has stigmatized the SDR role for years, to the point that most of us would tend to agree that the sales development role IS entry level. However, that’s often not the case at all.

SDRs are the public face of your company, the first human interaction most customers and prospects have with your brand. They handle high-pressure situations, often at a much higher frequency than other roles. And despite popular opinion, the job is not thankless. According to Trish Bertuzzi’s 2016 report, the average base salary for an SDR is $46k, with OTE over $72k. While that’s not an earth-shattering amount, it’s certainly not “entry level,” and is substantially more than the median income for the country.

Really Understanding the SDR Role

So why the perception that an SDR role is entry-level? It’s likely because the role is often used as a stepping stone, a foot in the door to an Account Executive role (or another sales position). Many companies don’t invest in the career paths of their SDRs, which forces many to take that step forward at another company. However, this is a HUGE missed opportunity for both the sales rep and company, alike.

The ramp up time for a sales professional entering a new company can be weeks or even months, depending on the sales cycle. They have to learn a new product, a new process, and build their pipeline. For SDRs, advancing within a company vs. moving externally should be a no brainer.

But the same arguments apply from the company’s perspective, as well. Companies should try to keep their SDRs at all costs, if not only because of the time and resources they invest into educating them on both the product and process.

So if defining a logical career path for SDRs holds huge benefits for companies and reps alike — what does that career path look like? Here’s a rough outline:

Interviewing: Understand The Value

Before hiring or taking an SDR role, it’s important to recognize the value SDRs play in an organization. They serve one of the most crucial functions within the company and overcome more challenges in a day than other functions encounter in a quarter. SDRs are not plug and play C players that should be hired on a whim. They are A players that will learn and grow while delivering results for the company. Companies should hire with that mindset and future SDRs should interview with an understanding and passion for that job.

Onboarding: Be Clear On the Path Forward

The struggle between SDRs and the organizations they work for often come from misaligned expectations on exactly what the next step is and what needs to be done to achieve it. The most successful organizations I’ve seen set clear expectations on how SDRs can advance their careers to the next stage. This can take the form of pipeline contribution, appointments set, or any other metric worth tracking. The key is for both parties to be clear on a path forward. SDRs will work hard to achieve those goals, not only advancing themselves, but also advancing the sales team and the company in the process.

Executing: Learn Ferociously

One thing worth mentioning is that the aforementioned path forward is not going to be an easy one. Companies need to set the bar high for their SDRs, pushing them to learn and to grow. Likewise, SDRs need to banish any illusion that they’ll be able to sleepwalk through to their goals. Sales development is tough work, but the rewards are worthwhile.

The surest way to achieve success and advance your career is to learn constantly, and do it ferociously. While having a prospect hang up or ignore your emails can be rough, every little challenge is a learning experience that helps you hone the sales skills you’ll need in whatever role comes next. The more you learn, the better you’ll become, more doors will open to you, and the better you’ll perform at the next level.

Advancing: Understand Your Performance

Even with a clear path forward, you can’t always expect your manager to know exactly how you’re progressing toward the next step. Don’t be afraid to ask for the role you deserve. Even if you’re working in an organization that doesn’t not offer a defined career path for SDRs, you can present your case. Just make sure you do it with data in hand. While SDRs deal with people all day long, their value and performance is determined with cold hard numbers. If you’re going to ask for a promotion or new role, you better back it up with performance numbers that show you’ve earned it.

If you want to learn even more about succeeding in a Sales Development role, download our free Sales Development Playbook!

PlaybookCombinedSections

The post The Career Path of a Sales Development Rep appeared first on SalesLoft.

11 Oct 16:50

Influencer Marketing Value

by Michelle Dziuban

The struggle was real to prove influencer marketing value. Fortunately for marketers, we have incontrovertible proof that influencer marketing delivers 11x higher returns than any other form of digital marketing. No more guesswork. No more vanity metrics. And no more doubt that social influencer marketing is the best use of your digital marketing dollar.

Influencer Marketing Value

Influencer-led campaigns generate $23 for every dollar spent — more than five times the number produced by banner ads.

Wait, what?

Yep, you read that right. $23 for every dollar spent. Cha-ching!

influencer-marketing-value

Source: Tapinfluence and Nielsen Catalina Solutions, “Influencer Marketing Drives 11X More ROI VS All Other Forms of Digital Media,” 2016

Young, But Vital

Influencer marketing is still relatively young, but age is just a number.

Marketers are increasingly recognizing the value of targeted influencer campaigns as opposed to highly-paid celebrity content that often turns audiences off – mainly because it seems inauthentic and forced.

Think about it this way: Do you really think that Beyonce uses a $7 bottle of foundation (i.e., celebrity endorsement)? Probably not. You’d more than likely trust a makeup YouTube star (i.e., influencer), such as Allana Davison or Abby Smith, over a spray and pray method that is celebrity endorsement.

Long Tail ROI

When you consider the availability, and return, given from media budgets at that level, influencer programs can be much more effective on a dollar-to-dollar basis. Plus, the content continues to drive value even after the spending stops. It’s evergreen.

Our friends at Carusele said it best, “Influencer content is versatile, flexible and, best of all, eternal.”

influencer-marketing-value

Source: Tapinfluence and Nielsen Catalina Solutions, “Influencer Marketing Drives 11X More ROI VS All Other Forms of Digital Media,” 2016

Influencer content, unlike banner ads, is truly evergreen. Rather than disappearing when a brand stops putting money behind it, a piece of influencer content remains active, attracting views and engagements from interested consumers—for free.

How Much Cash Should Marketers Dish Out?

Budgets for celebrity programs can easily run from $250,000 to $1,000,000, with much less credibility delivered at the end of the day.

Influencer marketing campaigns offer more effective programs that typically run considerably less–between $25,000 and $200,000–with multi-flight or year-long programs having potential to go much higher.

influencer-marketing-value

Source: Tapinfluence and Altimeter Group, “The Influencer Marketing Manifesto,” July 26, 2016

Now that there are metrics behind influencer marketing, what are you waiting for? It’s time to work with an innovative strategy that actually pays for itself and more (in case you forgot: $23 for every dollar spent!).

Ready to learn how much cash you need to invest to see these returns? Download our free pocket guide: Influencer Marketing – How Much Should I Spend on Influencer Marketing Campaigns?

11 Oct 16:50

Technology Will Replace Many Doctors, Lawyers, and Other Professionals

by Richard Susskind
oct16-11-148298321

Faced with the claim that AI and robots are poised to replace most of today’s workforce, most mainstream professionals — doctors, lawyers, accountants, and so on — believe they will emerge largely unscathed. During our consulting work and at conferences, we regularly hear practitioners concede that routine work can be taken on by machines, but they maintain that human experts will always be needed for the tricky stuff that calls for judgment, creativity, and empathy.

Our research and analysis challenges the idea that these professionals will be spared. We expect that within decades the traditional professions will be dismantled, leaving most, but not all, professionals to be replaced by less-expert people, new types of experts, and high-performing systems.

We conducted around 100 interviews, not with mainstream professionals but with leaders and new providers in eight professional fields: health, law, education, audit, tax, consulting, journalism, architecture, and divinity. Our focus was on what has actually been achieved at the cutting edge. We also immersed ourselves in over 800 related sources — published books, internal reports, and online systems. We found plenty of evidence that radical change in professional work is already under way.

There are more monthly visits to the WebMD network, a collection of health websites, than to all the doctors in the United States. Annually, in the world of disputes, 60 million disagreements among eBay traders are resolved using “online dispute resolution” rather than lawyers and judges — this is three times the number of lawsuits filed each year in the entire U.S. court system. The U.S. tax authorities in 2014 received electronic tax returns from almost 50 million people who had relied on online tax-preparation software rather than human tax professionals. At WikiHouse, an online community designed a house that could be “printed” and assembled for less than £50,000. In 2011 the Vatican granted the first digital imprimatur to an app called “Confession” which helps people prepare for confession.

Insight Center

  • The Automation Age
    Sponsored by KPMG
    How robotics and machine learning are changing business.

We believe these are but a few early indicators of a fundamental shift in professional service. Within professional organizations (firms, schools, hospitals), we are seeing a move away from tailored, unique solutions for each client or patient towards the standardization of service. Increasingly, doctors are using checklists, lawyers rely on precedents, and consultants work with methodologies. More recently, there has been a shift to systematization, the use of technology to automate and sometimes transform the way that professional work is done — from workflow systems through to AI-based problem-solving. More fundamentally, once professional knowledge and expertise is systematized, it will then be made available online, often as a chargeable service, sometimes at no cost, and occasionally but increasingly on a commons basis, in the spirit of the open source movement. There are already many examples of online professional service.

The claim that the professions are immune to displacement by technology is usually based on two assumptions: that computers are incapable of exercising judgment or being creative or empathetic, and that these capabilities are indispensable in the delivery of professional service. The first problem with this position is empirical. As our research shows, when professional work is broken down into component parts, many of the tasks involved turn out to be routine and process-based. They do not in fact call for judgment, creativity, or empathy.

The second problem is conceptual. Insistence that the outcomes of professional advisers can only be achieved by sentient beings who are creative and empathetic usually rests on what we call the “AI fallacy” — the view that the only way to get machines to outperform the best human professionals will be to copy the way that these professionals work. The error here is not recognizing that human professionals are already being outgunned by a combination of brute processing power, big data, and remarkable algorithms. These systems do not replicate human reasoning and thinking. When systems beat the best humans at difficult games, when they predict the likely decisions of courts more accurately than lawyers, or when the probable outcomes of epidemics can be better gauged on the strength of past medical data than on medical science, we are witnessing the work of high-performing, unthinking machines.

Our inclination is to be sympathetic to this transformative use of technology, not least because today’s professions, as currently organized, are creaking. They are increasingly unaffordable, opaque, and inefficient, and they fail to deliver value evenly across our communities. In most advanced economies, there is concern about the spiraling costs of health care, the lack of access to justice, the inadequacy of current educational systems, and the failure of auditors to recognize and stop various financial scandals. The professions need to change. Technology may force them to.

11 Oct 16:50

9 appearance mistakes that could be holding you back at work

by Jacquelyn Smith

wrinkled clothes

You do your job well, you add value to your team, and you contribute to the company's bottom line — and yet, you haven't been promoted in years.

Can't figure out why?

Well, it turns out that your professional success doesn't depend entirely on your work ethic and performance.

A survey from CareerBuilder shows that hiring managers seriously consider a professional's appearance when deciding whether to promote them to a higher position.

In a perfect world, we would only be judged by the work we do — but that's not the case. Especially in the corporate world, appearances matter ... a lot.

More than 2,000 human resource managers across the US participated in the survey and cited these nine (superficial) factors as things that would dissuade them from promoting an employee:

  • 44% were less likely to promote an employee who wore provocative clothing to work.
  • 43% were less likely to promote an employee who wore wrinkled clothes.
  • 32% were less likely to promote an employee with piercings other than traditional ear piercings.
  • 27% were less likely to promote an employee who frequently wore clothing that was too casual for the workplace.
  • 27% were less likely to promote an employee with visible tattoos.
  • 25% were less likely to promote an employee with an unprofessional hairstyle.
  • 24% were less likely to promote an employee with constant bad breath.
  • 21% were less likely to promote an employee who wore too much perfume or cologne.
  • 15% were less likely to promote an employee who wore too much makeup.

Your best bet is to always look as professional as possible and follow your company's dress code.

Darlene Price, president of Well Said, Inc., and author of "Well Said! Presentations and Conversations That Get Results," previously told Business Insider that it's "so important to be aware of dress codes and understand what they mean."

"Though dress is a very personal matter, it is a very public and professional matter on the job. Employees are expected to comply with company standards," she explained.

The problem is, these can be hard to decipher.

She said during her 20-plus years working as an executive coach, one of the most frequent career roadblocks she has observed is inappropriate dress in the workplace because "people don't completely understand what all the different dress codes mean."

To help, here are some examples of appropriate "business casual," "smart casual," and "boardroom formal" outfits:

SEE ALSO: Here's what the 'smart casual' dress code really means

Business casual

There is no general agreement on the definition of the term "business casual."

"It depends on several factors including the industry, size of the company, number of employees, amount of interaction between employees and customers, geography, climate, culture, and average age of the workforce," Price said.

At most companies, however, the "business casual" dress code encourages employees to project a "professional, business-like image while enjoying the advantage of more casual and relaxed clothing," Price explains.

Appropriate business casual dress typically includes slacks or khakis, dress shirt or blouse, open-collar or polo shirt, optional tie or seasonal sport coat, a dress or skirt at knee-length or below, a tailored blazer, knit shirt or sweater, and loafers or dress shoes that cover all or most of the foot.

Always make sure your clothing is ironed and not too revealing.



Smart casual

"Smart casual" is also interpreted differently in many workplaces.

At most companies, however, the "smart casual" dress code is a step up from "business casual," but not as formal as "boardroom attire." It's neat and professional — but still informal.

"The key look in this dress code is a chic, put-together ensemble," Price said. "It fashionably combines elements from the other dress codes, such as a nice pair of dark slacks, with a coordinated dressy blouse, jacket, and scarf, or a nice pair of trousers with a button-down shirt and sport coat."

HR expert Susan M. Heathfield writes in an About.com article: "The smart casual look allows flexibility for personal taste in fashion and includes jackets, outfit-enhancing jewelry, dress pants, dress shirts, skirts, tailored sweaters, vests, ties, matching leather accessories, and leather pull on shoes and boots. Smart casual dressing is often adopted by employees who want to look ready for their next promotion."

Also remember to keep your hair and makeup work-appropriate ... and don't overdo it on the cologne or perfume.



Boardroom formal

Being a member of the C-suite, or a business partner or guest of the C-suite, "comes with the need for some kind of tactfulness and respect — and what you wear plays a big role," Sylvie di Giusto, author of "The Image Of Leadership," told Business Insider.

When it comes to the "boardroom formal" dress code (also known as "business formal"), employees are expected to project a professional image and convey executive presence, Price added. "Most often, employees following this dress code are meeting face-to-face with customers, clients, senior management, and key stakeholders in the industry who expect and require the proper protocol of professional business attire."

The standard "boardroom formal" attire for men is a dark suit (navy, black, or charcoal), a white dress shirt, a subtle-patterned tie and socks, and black dress shoes. "I also recommend a high-quality accessory, including a wristwatch or attaché case," di Giusto said. "Less is more."

For women, appropriate boardroom attire includes either a two-piece matched pantsuit, skirt suit, or dress (hem no higher than one inch above the knee) in traditional colors such as black, navy, grey, or brown; a collared dress blouse or shell; black or neutral hosiery; closed-toe dress shoe, such as a pump; and conservative accessories, Price said.

"In general, paying attention to the visual details of your look conveys preparation, planning, and respect for those whom you meet," di Giusto added. "The way you respect yourself also sets the standards on how others will respect you."



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
11 Oct 16:47

The Single Most Important Element for Increasing B2B Lead Gen and Sales

by Tom Pick

A spate of articles recently have expounded on the “consumerization” of all things business: the consumerization of sales, of IT, and of business-to-business (B2B) marketing most prominently. McKinsey’s David Edelman has referred to the consumerization of B2B marketing and sales as a “massive disruption” on the horizon.

While there’s no question the concept has legs, it may be more powerful from an analytical standpoint to take a step back and ask exactly what “consumerization” means in a business context: what is it precisely about consumer marketing and sales that B2B professionals are seeking to emulate?

Reduce friction to improve B2B sales

Image credit: The Blue Diamond Gallery

Clearly, the suggestion isn’t that enterprise software vendors should start taking out print advertisements in Vogue magazine, or that machine tool manufacturers should invest in splashy commercials on The Golf Channel. Upon closer examination, the move toward consumerization seems to boil down to embracing one key concept long pursued by B2C brands: minimizing friction across the promotion and buying process.

In the physical world, minimizing friction is how Elon Musk’s proposed hyperloop could transport commuters at speeds approaching 600 miles per hour. Using pods inside a low-pressure tube eliminates not only the friction of rolling wheels but also that of air pressure against the vehicles.

In the consumer products world, minimizing friction explains why soup is sold in microwavable single-serving containers, and why convenience stores can thrive within blocks of the nearest supermarket, despite their much higher prices.

Arguably the ultimate in friction-free consumer commerce though is Amazon.com’s 1-Click ordering. Once a site visitor has searched for and filled their online shopping cart with desired items, competing the purchase requires literally one click: Amazon knows the customer’s preferred method of payment, credit card details, shipping address, even preferred shipping mode. Compared to the typical B2B purchase—there is no comparison.

The Amazon experience is clearly beginning to impact the world of B2B purchasing. Within the past year, nearly half of B2B buyers have purchased common business items from Amazon Supply, the web giant’s online store for business and industry, because their regular suppliers don’t offer an online purchase channel.

Business suppliers who want to survive the coming “massive disruption” will have to find ways to compete with Amazon, likely beyond price: through flexible payment options, volume discounts, deep product expertise, or value-added services perhaps. But for low-value commodity items, as other online retailers have learned, Amazon will make the landscape increasingly challenging for B2B suppliers.

Beyond online purchasing, however, friction comes in many forms. While many high-value, complex B2B products don’t lend themselves to online shopping, there are nevertheless sources of friction that vendors will seek to minimize in order to improve their competitiveness. These other sources of friction include:

Low online visibility.

With more than 90% of B2B purchases beginning with research on the Web, maximizing online presence is crucial for B2B vendors. Business buyers won’t buy from vendors who lack visibility in search and social media.

Poor responsiveness (or non-responsiveness) to questions.

More than 80% of Twitter users say they expect a same-day response to tweets aimed at brands, yet many B2B vendors fail to meet this standard. That is clearly an opportunity being missed, as 71% of buyers also say that receiving a quick brand response on social media would make them more likely to recommend that brand to others. Response time matters regardless of the communication channel (social, email, phone, etc.); responding quickly builds confidence in your company. A slow response creates friction.

Insufficient or hard-to-find information.

B2B websites need to provide different types of information based on buyer personas, specific concerns or topics of interest, and different formats (text, images, video). Each member of the buying committee will have his or her own questions and unique information needs. Friction is created when such information is missing or hard to find on the vendor website.

Limited contact information.

A “contact us” button should be one of the most prominent items on every page of a B2B website, and the contact page should include physical/mailing address, fax and phone numbers (), email address(es)(preferably multiple, by department), and social media accounts. Consider an online chat option as well (but make it visitor-initiated, not an annoying pop-up box). Reduce friction by making it as easy as possible for prospective buyers to get in touch with you, using their preferred communication method.

Automated phone answering systems.

While efficient and convenient for vendors, these are universally annoying to callers. Provide both a main contact number and department-specific phone numbers instead. A human voice on the other end of the line can be both a powerful differentiator and friction-reducer.

High perceived risk.

Vendor websites must not only provide the information that various buyers need in order to make a decision, they must also build trust. Unless your company is a “household name,” your website needs to reduce perceived risk and position your company as a safe choice by including complete contact information, certifications (such as Better Business Bureau membership), awards, customer testimonials, big-name client lists, and/or money-back guarantees.

Partial solutions.

The ability to buy a “whole product” (e.g., software, equipment, installation, and training services) from a single supplier, a.k.a. one-stop shopping, reduces friction. This is why all-in-one travel sites like Kayak, Orbitz, Expedia, TravelZoo, Travelocity are popular. When the buyer is forced to piece together a solution from multiple vendors, friction is increased. B2B suppliers can address this through building, buying or bundling approaches to create and support a whole product.

Complex implementation.

While there is no way around on-site installation for certain types of products (e.g., machine tools or conveyor systems), “products” should be delivered online whenever possible. Cloud computing, projected to grow at a 26% annual rate through 2016, is essentially delivering a server online. Software is increasingly being delivered as a service, along with integrated consulting; this model is nearly universal in the marketing automation software market, for example.

Business disruption.

The less disruption or interruption of business activities that a purchase entails, the less assistance or support needed from other departments like IT, and the less integration with other systems required, the easier a buying decision is to make. This is why software vendors are increasingly delivering their applications online, and including pre-built connectors, where required, to other popular software suites.

High initial price point.

It’s often easier to sell a customer a basic system at a low price point upfront and add options later than to sell a high-priced, fill-featured offering right out of the gate. Not only does this make price less of an issue, but also reduces risk for the buyer. Many types of subscription-based software offerings are now sold this way. Taking this idea to the ultimate “no brainer” price point—free—many vendors in categories like email services and social media monitoring employ a “freemium” pricing model where customers can sign up to use a stripped-down, low-volume service for free, then upgrade to various levels of higher usage volume, added-function fee-based services down the road.

Lack of organizational transparency.

In sales situations where vendors are unfamiliar and product differentiation is unclear or insignificant, buyers will seek broader information about the companies in order to arrive at a decision. In these situations, purchase decisions can be strongly influenced by the vendors’ level of executive participation in social media. According to recent research, 82% of buyers say they trust a company more, and 77% of buyers are more likely to buy from that company, if its CEO and senior leadership team are active in social media.

Employees not empowered to resolve issues.

When a customer or prospect has an issue, they want it resolved. They don’t care about an employee’s job description or your company’s organizational chart. When those things get in the way of solving problems, they become friction. Companies like Nordstroms, Zappos, and Southwest Airlines are known for empowering their employees to resolve customer problems, no matter what they are, precisely to eliminate this type of friction.

Mixed messages.

Friction arises when, as your grandmother may have put it, “the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.” Prospects are unlikely to buy if they get different answers and inconsistent messages from different employees or departments within your organization. This was less of a danger in the old days when public interaction was limited to official “company spokespeople,” but social media now makes virtually every employee “client-facing.” Avoiding such confusion therefore requires strong leadership from the top, effective training, and use of internal social communication tools like Chatter or Yammer.

Complexity in use.

While many B2B products in areas like technology, communications, industrial automation, and transportation are necessarily complex, that doesn’t mean they have to be difficult to use. Good example: a modern automobile is unquestionably a complex piece of equipment, yet one can be operated by any teenager with a modicum of training. Better example: while the vast majority of us have only a rudimentary understanding at best of the inner workings of a smart phone, any moderately bright gradeschooler can use one. B2B products should be as complex as they need to be, but as simple to use as possible.

Recognizing the importance of minimizing friction, some vendors are now creating a Chief Experience Officer position to help those companies “not only develop services and products that are pleasing and useful but also curate…experiences with their people and their products to create (what they hope is) a unique brand.”

As B2B competition becomes more global and intense, products become commoditized, quality is a given, margins are squeezed, and “unique value propositions” become less unique, the overall customer experience will increasingly be what separates successful companies from column fodder. And identifying and minimizing friction, at all its potential points, optimizes the customer experience.

11 Oct 16:47

4 Biggest Challenges in B2B Selling (And What To Do About It)

by Will Humphries

B2B selling faces certain obstacles when trying to execute the sales process to convert customers. However, B2B sales professionals face a few significant challenges that are often unique to this particular arena.

Suppliers are finally following the lead of B2C companies by using customer data more intelligently and using it to predict buyer behaviours, strengthen relationships, and drive more sales.

Although your largest accounts can represent a large percentage of both your revenue and your margin, losing some of those accounts can have a detrimental impact on your business.

The following is a look at several of the challenges in B2B selling.

More Complicated Solutions

The problems that typical buyers face in B2B are more complex than those faced by consumers. Business buyers normally seek solutions that contribute to increasing revenue performance or reducing operating costs.

Many of the solutions that business buyers want are technical or technology-oriented as well. Therefore, it takes time and a clear process to lay out how the solution meets a buyer’s need.

Customers want the best possible price and will often push hard on the pricing, but they also want peace of mind that what they are purchasing will do exactly what it is supposed to do with the minimal of fuss.

According to McKinsey&Company’s Key Account Survey, larger organisations think in exactly this way – valuing the service & support and the complete sales experience well above the price, taking 46% of the decision criteria.

mckinsey b2b selling key account survey 2015

Too Many Buyers

Depending upon the complexity of the solution, more and more decision makers are involved in the process, sometimes with a number of those involved being unavailable to anyone on the sellers’ team.

It is more common in complex sales that a B2B seller is confronted with multiple buying roles. Companies may use committees or have non-buyers involved in meetings.

Their involvement indicates their potential ability to influence the purchase decision. And in the same manner, your organisation needs to find a way to influence these people.

During prospecting, it is important to integrate strong data acquisition so you understand the profile of the decision-makers as this will help your team devise the right messaging and content for your marketing campaigns.

Content marketing strategies that inform and educate prospects before they interact with a salesperson are crucial to mitigating solution complexity.

Added to this is the capability of targeting those other influencers via Account Based Marketing solutions and getting directly in front of these decision makers with a good appointment setting campaign.

Addressing Critical Business Issues

B2B buyers don’t think in terms of buying products; instead, they think about the critical business issues they must resolve. Therefore, your success in selling to these prospects includes thinking in the same way.

Don’t call on a business prospect and immediately start pushing the merits of your products. Take the time to investigate, ask questions and get the full scope of the problems faced.

Doing so prepares you to offer your full-scale solution in a way that directly addresses each buyer’s most critical business issues.

Long Buying Cycles

The average buying cycle is normally longer in B2B than in B2C selling. It takes a lot of patience on the part of a sales rep not to try to rush the process or to concede additional discounts that affect the overall margin on the deal.

However, time-consuming cycles are inefficient to the single sales rep and cause delays in attempting to connect with other buyers.

The trick is to find ways to move sales along without being pushy. And that can be difficult as suppliers don’t always understand the buying process within an organisation. Whereas buyers usually have a good insight into their selling process, particularly if negotiations are being led by that single sales person.

B2B Selling organisations need a process around larger deals where there is a long buying cycle. No company wants to be winning “bad” deals that put pressure on other parts of the company.

B2B appointment setting

Wrap Up

The B2B selling environment has complexities and obstacles that aren’t as common in B2C.

However, for each of the challenges identified, effective planning and execution enable you to achieve success.

Buyers are more sophisticated and very detail orientated in longer sales cycles and selling organisations need to blueprint their own success criteria to ensure a successful selling cycle and a strong negotiations team.

11 Oct 16:45

5 Steps to Generate More LinkedIn Sales Leads

by Jacob Baadsgaard
jb-linkedin-sales-leads-600

Do you want more leads from LinkedIn? Wondering how others turn connections into leads? With the right approach, you can be the first person your connections think of when they need someone in your industry. In this article, you’ll discover how to turn LinkedIn connections into qualified leads. #1: Build Your Network Strategically When people first [...]

This post 5 Steps to Generate More LinkedIn Sales Leads first appeared on .
- Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle

11 Oct 16:45

An 8-Step Process to Use Influencers to Elevate Your Brand

by Jodi Harris

influencer-marketing-guide-2016

Anyone who’s followed a popular celebrity on a social site like Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat can recognize the benefits of getting an influencer to share his or her passion for a brand. In terms of visibility, credibility, and impact, few content promotion techniques rival its power for persuasion.

Since 2014, when the CMI team put together its first guide to influencer marketing, the technique has become more popular, more accepted by consumers, and more profitable for brands. But these campaigns also are carried out on a more complex playing field, thanks to factors like transparency regulations, increased noise, and overall erosion of organic social media reach.

Considering just how much has changed over the last two years, we felt it was time to revisit the influencer conversation. That’s why we’ve created an updated guide — Influencer Marketing: The Latest Strategies, Templates, and Tools — with new tips, examples, and industry-leading advice to help content marketers get more value from their influencer relationships without getting overwhelmed by all the options.

We’ve broken down the process into eight distinct steps that will enable you to plan and execute an influencer program from scratch or pick up a few new tricks that will help make your existing efforts more effective. Our new guide also provides handy reference charts and downloadable templates you can customize to fit your team’s specific content marketing needs and goals.

Here’s a brief preview of some hacks and helpers you’ll find in the new guide:

Making the case for influencer marketing

Influencer marketing programs can be overwhelming, particularly when company leadership isn’t fully convinced that their teams need to devote additional time and resources to promoting the content they’ve created.

Yet, influencer marketing does more than just increase the reach of your brand content. For example, considering a Nielsen’s study that revealed 92% of people trust brand recommendations from individuals (even if they don’t know them), working with high-profile professionals can enhance enterprise-wide efforts to strengthen your company’s credibility and trustworthiness.


92% of people trust brand recommendations from individuals even if they don’t know them via @Nielsen.
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Not to mention that influencer programs have a strong potential to help generate better-qualified leads and increase marketing ROI. According to a Burst Media study analyzed by eMarketer, brands saw an average ROI of $6.85 for every dollar invested in influencer marketing.


Brands saw an average ROI of $6.85 for every dollar invested in #influencermarketing via @eMarketer.
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Finding and working with the right influencers

Of course, one of the most critical factors in any influencer-marketing program is your team’s ability to find the right people to work with and set the stage for a successful long-term collaboration. It also may be the most challenging part of the equation, as it involves multiple tasks, including:

  • Becoming familiar with the notable voices in your industry
  • Vetting potential partners to identify those who share your brand values and perspectives, and who will resonate with your target audience
  • Engaging top candidates and soliciting their participation
  • Negotiating specific terms, fees, and deliverables
  • Seeding, tracking, and managing their efforts on an ongoing basis

You might find it helpful to break the process down into individual steps, then use some expert-recommended techniques to further streamline your efforts. One tip that Aaron Agius has shared for approaching influencer discovery is to use keyword-based searches to uncover notable names that pop up in relation to your chosen topic. To do this, start by typing this query into a Google search field: [your industry] + “blog” (or “site”). Then, use advanced search operators to expand or narrow your results. Consider adding the top resources to your consideration list for further vetting; but bear in mind that it may be tough to get the attention of the experts at the more popular sites, as they are likely to get a lot more inquiries than those from sites that are a bit further down the list.


Use keyword-based searches to uncover influencers related to your chosen topic says @IAmAaronAgius
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Nurturing and scaling your efforts

Once you’ve put your pool of influencers in place, you will want to do everything you can to keep them interested in contributing to the success of your content over the long term. For example, rather than solely focusing on enlisting their help with distribution, you might consider proposing a creative collaboration that will benefit both parties.

Your influencer program should also be able to grow and improve as it starts to realize its potential to drive increased content success. This includes exploring additional ways to leverage the rapport you’ve built with your influencers and squeezing greater value from your existing collaborations.

For example, if your influencers are contributing posts on your blog, consider rounding up some of the top performers and turning them into a quarterly e-book series. Another option might be to create an anthology from the testimonials your influencers have posted on social media, and share it with your sales team to help with their lead-nurturing initiatives.

Analyzing and optimizing your program’s success

Even if your influencer marketing program takes off from the start, it’s important to continuously track and monitor its performance. As industry trends, influencer popularity, and consumer behaviors can shift as time goes on, having the right analytics will enable you to identify potential trouble spots and course-correct before your efforts can lose too much ground.

Not sure what signs to look for? Our guide includes a handy chart (shared below), which outlines metrics to track for some of the most common content marketing objectives, as well as additional tips and templates you can use to report your findings to key program stakeholders.

analyzing-optimizing-program-success

Click to enlarge

For a detailed walk-through of the full eight-step process — plus more than a dozen tips, tools, and stellar brand examples — download Influencer Marketing: The Latest Strategies, Templates, and Tools.

In addition to downloading the Influencer Marketing guide, subscribe to the free CMI newsletter for daily tips, trends, and more to help your content distribution and promotion.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

The post An 8-Step Process to Use Influencers to Elevate Your Brand appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.

11 Oct 16:44

Lead, Prioritize, Win: Moving to Predictive Prioritization

by Jonathan Barreto

As B2B marketers, you’re now challenged to understand dynamic customers, increase pipeline quantity and quality, and boost campaign ROI. You might be achieving these goals by expanding the top of your funnel, allowing more inbound leads than ever before. But while having endless inbound leads may sound like a nice problem to have, it can actually be your worst nightmare.

It’s not as simple as handing good leads over to Sales because let’s face it, just because someone is active on your website, that doesn’t mean he or she is ready to buy.

Pursuing each and every inbound lead isn’t worth the time and money – you have to be selective.

Traditional scoring models don’t cut it anymore, so stop wasting time and effort on bad leads and use predictive analytics to redefine how you prioritize inbound prospects. We’ve talked about improving campaign ROI and attracting the right accounts for a campaign, and outlined a number of use cases in our predictive playbook. Now, we’ll show you how to build an action plan using predictive scoring so you can identify your best leads for Sales and provide account details that enrich sales conversations, inform better personalized messaging, and guide nurture tracks -improving the quality of leads you hand over to Sales and identifying which leads need personalized nurture tracks.

Switch From Traditional To Predictive Scoring

Scoring is a great tool for prioritizing leads so Marketing and Sales know where to invest their efforts. However, not all scoring methods give you the best results.predictive-prioritization-data-iceberg

Traditional lead scoring uses simplified models that require frequent manual updates. While that’s great for identifying bad leads, it’s not very good at identifying who is more likely to buy.

That’s where predictive scoring comes into play.

Predictive scores are far more accurate because they’re built to access large external datasets and use machine learning – making use of explicit and implicit signals you don’t have in your marketing automation (MAT).

With predictive prioritization, you can create an effective action plan, allowing sales to focus on the right opportunities and reach out to prospects most likely to buy.

Redefine Your Scoring Model

So you decided to switch to predictive prioritization. Now what?

It’s time to redefine the way Marketing and Sales work together. Plan on discussing sales bandwidth, lead volume, and lead quality, since those are important factors for Marketing and Sales success. You’ll need to revamp your nurturing programs, move away from generic lead flows, align on content plans, and identify triggers that matter most.

Marketing and sales alignment is key to maximizing conversion rates and influencing prospect purchasing decisions. Here are some ways to get started:

  • Think simple. You can always add to your scoring model later. It’s much easier than deconstructing a complex system.
  • Know your customer profiles. Both Marketing and Sales need to align on what they consider an ideal lead.
  • Understand how leads move across the Marketing and Sales funnel. For example, someone who fills out a form and downloads a whitepaper is definitely a candidate for a nurturing campaign. On the other hand, if someone requests a demo, they’re ready to go straight to Sales.

Build An Action Plan With Predictive Scores

After you align on the new scoring model, you’ll need to build out a plan and get the message across to everyone in Marketing and Sales so they know what actions to take. And with predictive scoring, those calculations are done for you.

Radius, for example, takes an explicit-first approach to predictive scoring, calculating how well-suited a prospect is for your product using firmographic data. Compare implicit scores, which show how engaged a prospect is with your company and by extension, their buying intent. You can get implicit scores from your MAT.

Once you have your scores and grades, the next step is to combine them in a scoring matrix, and then create a rating system. By combining explicit and implicit scores, it’s easy to show what action to take based on fit for your product and behavior that demonstrates engagement with your company.

predictive-prioritization-scoring-matrix

Once you put the matrix together, it’s time to describe each lead rating and create an action plan. Here are some best practices around mapping lead ratings to actions. Letters represent explicit score and numbers represent implicit score.

Action Plan Best Practices

predictive-prioritization-scoring-plan

Measure, Evaluate, and Optimize

Predictive prioritization isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it solution.

Though predictive scores adapt to changing conditions and conversion trends, you’ll still want to measure your model’s performance based on your action plan. A good way to start is by regularly collecting feedback so you can find opportunities for improvement. It’s a good idea to review every 30 days until you’re happy with the outcome. Then, create a reevaluation schedule that aligns with the length of your sales cycle.

Know your benchmarks by reviewing and measuring your conversion rates, lead quality, and lead and opportunity volume. Make sure to take note of the average deal size, and the cost of time and dollar spend for both Marketing and Sales efforts to determine if your new scoring model helps reach your goal.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • What percentage of A leads are closing?
  • What percentage of B and C leads are converting from MQL to SAL?
  • What is the sales acceptance rate?
  • What are some reasons for disqualified or rejected MQLs?
  • Has the number of days in the sales cycle decreased or increased?
  • Has the average deal size increased?
  • What are the total number of MQLs per week?

Want to target the right prospects and increase campaign conversions? Download our predictive playbook to learn how you can use predictive lead scores to build and execute campaigns that move the needle.

predictive-lead-scoring-playbook

11 Oct 16:44

How to Leverage SEO for B2B Lead Generation

by Nate Dame
How to Leverage SEO for B2B Lead Generation

Author: Nate Dame

Too many marketing activities still happen in silos, and search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most isolated. While SEO and lead generation are primary drivers of new leads for most B2B organizations, these teams typically only collaborate when new content needs an SEO review (if that).

The general understanding seems to be that SEO helps the website—and all the content therein—get noticed online, which generates leads in a big-picture sense, while lead generation is a completely separate set of tasks targeted specifically at acquiring new leads.

But a changing marketplace is placing new demands on how marketers (and sales reps, and…just about every part of an organization) relate to their target audiences. Lead generation strategies are evolving to meet new expectations, but the one element still missing from most play books may be the one that could make the most dramatic improvement: SEO.

Modern SEO Strategies Need User Intent Research

Marrying SEO and lead generation strategies starts with a modern understanding of SEO—specifically a concept called “user intent.” User intent is the real meaning behind the keywords people type in a search engine text box.

There are two primary types of user intent:

  • Inform: When someone is looking to learn about a topic
  • Purchase: When someone is shopping for something described by the keyword

Discovering what your audience really means when they use your keywords is as simple as Googling them. The pages that rank highest for a keyword represent the type of content people are looking for most often when searching that particular keyword. How do we know? Because Google is heavily invested in providing the best user experience, and their algorithms are working 24/7/365 to decipher the intent behind every search term.

For example, a search for the term “email marketing” yields search results that are mostly marketing software companies trying to sell their platforms. In other words, when most people search for “email marketing,” they have a purchase intent. They want to buy software. The term “marketing automation” yields very different results. Most of the Page 1 results are definitions and basic information about the concept of marketing automation. People are looking for information.

This is valuable insight for any part of your SEO campaign. When you know users’ intentions, you can steer them to content that meets their needs. For example, based on the information above, a business selling email marketing should make sure their content includes a strong product page that targets “email marketing” and related keywords. Whereas, a business selling marketing automation, on the other hand, should focus on creating high-quality, informative content for that keyword.

Lead Generation Needs User Intent Research

Buyers and are self-educating further into the sales funnel than ever before. They are unconcerned with your carefully crafted buyer’s journey model—entering the funnel wherever they like and proceeding through it completely at their own pace.

Most marketers recognize this and are adapting their lead generation strategies to keep up with evolving trends and expectations. Many are hard at work developing engaging, helpful content. That’s an encouraging first step, but, as with any digital content, it’s important to pause and ask yourself whether it’s reaching the buyers who need it, when they need it.

Building content doesn’t mean the leads will come. While sharing your own content is important, a digital marketplace commonly turns to search engines when they’re ready to research or make a purchase. That means the content you create for every stage of the sales funnel has to be search engine optimized for the user for their unique buyer’s journey.

Buyers at the top-of-the-funnel, or the beginning of their buyers’ journeys, are looking for educational or entertaining information: definitions of key lingo, simple explanations of core industry principles, infographics, and other easily digestible media. That means the keywords that are generating those kinds of search results are the ones most likely being used by the segment of your audience that is at the top-of-the-funnel. Those are the keywords your entry-level content should be targeting.

By contrast, the keywords that generate strong purchase intent search results are likely being used by the portion of your audience that is ready (or almost ready) to buy. Those results include a lot of product pages, vendor comparisons, price sheets, etc. As you create that kind of content, target the keywords that are being used by people who are ready to make a purchase.

How to Use SEO for Lead Generation

From start to finish, here are five steps to use SEO to improve your lead generation strategies:

  1. Make a list of relevant keywords. If you’ve never done this before, you can use free tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, Google Trends, and/or Keyword Tool.io. You can also start with a list of your key products and services, and terms that are important to your industry.
  2. Google them. You may want to use spreadsheets for this step to help keep everything organized. Google each of your keywords, and make a note about whether the search results primarily reflect an inform or purchase intent, and to what degree. Some will be heavily skewed, and others will be fairly balanced.
  3. Organize the results along your sales funnel. Keywords that generate a strong inform intent are most likely going to represent users at the top-of-the-funnel. Those that generate search results with a strong purchase intent are likely being used by people closer to the bottom-of-the-funnel.
  4. Optimize existing content. Review content you have already created. If some assets were developed specifically for one stage of the funnel, make sure it is using appropriate language. If a piece of content was created to target a specific keyword, make sure it is addressing the user intent behind that keyword.
  5. Create content to fill in the gaps. There will be gaps, and that is where you really get to work. If you have the wrong type of content for a particular keyword/user intent, you don’t necessarily need to remove it, but you do need to create additional content. For example, if an important keyword yields a strong inform intent in search results and all your website has is a product page for that term, you need to start building some informative content assets, such as blog posts, landing pages, and ebooks. If a keyword has a fairly balanced user intent—a few informative pages and a few product pages—it’s 100% okay to create a few (high-quality, engaging, helpful) pages based on related keywords for each user intent.

SEO and Lead Generation

The market is changing, and while most marketers are aware and are working hard to keep up, it can be difficult to stay on top of all of it. SEO itself is constantly evolving, and generating a steady flow of qualified leads is every marketer’s eternal priority. Both strategies can benefit from tearing down some silos and working together.

Start by conducting user intent research on a few of your top keywords. See if the results are what you expected, and, if not, how your company’s content meets the need. With some strategic content, properly optimized for the people who need it most, your lead generation strategy could quickly take on a whole new life.

Have you started marrying your SEO and lead generation strategies? What other tips do you have? Share them in the comments below!


How to Leverage SEO for B2B Lead Generation was posted at Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership. | http://blog.marketo.com

The post How to Leverage SEO for B2B Lead Generation appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

11 Oct 16:44

Why Customer Experience Is the New Competitive Advantage

by Jana Barrett

customer experience is the new competitive advantage

In a modern marketplace, consumers have endless options. Low prices and smart advertising aren’t enough to win their business. It takes a personalized, customer-centric approach to build brand loyalty. That’s why customer experience is the next frontier for companies hoping to maintain a competitive edge.

Data from Gartner indicates that as many as 89% of businesses will compete mainly on customer experience by as soon as 2017. Walker backs this claim, predicting that customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator for B2B by 2020.

Soon enough, businesses will be pouring resources into customer experience in order to build an early advantage. In fact, Gartner suggests that 50% of consumer product investments will be redirected to CX initiatives by next year.

To compete well, companies need a deeper understanding of customer experience. In this post, we’ll look at how customer experience fits alongside three other key concepts: customer satisfaction, customer retention, and customer engagement.

Customer Experience: The Modern Battleground for Business

Customer Satisfaction & Customer Experience

Thanks to social media, it’s now extremely easy for unhappy customers to share their stories online. In just a few clicks, a bad experience can become a brand disaster. According to Zendesk, 95% of dissatisfied customers tell people about their experiences. What’s more, 76% of consumers see customer service as the true test of how much a company values them.

A mediocre customer experience isn’t enough. The expectations of the modern consumer are rising. That’s why even the most traditional industries are shifting toward customer-centric philosophies—some by choice, some by competitive necessity.

These days, nearly every industry measures customer satisfaction. Online retailers email post-purchase surveys to customers. Service providers use CSAT surveys to monitor support and sales interactions. Doctors’ offices send patient satisfaction surveys after visits.

Along with other less tangible factors, these touch points make up the customer experience. Companies measure customer satisfaction at these key moments to tap into the customer mindset and generate customer satisfaction metrics that help guide strategy.

Customer satisfaction surveys reveal the strengths and weaknesses in the customer journey. Using the feedback they collect, companies can design an experience their customers want.

Customer Retention & Customer Experience

Customer success is one of the hottest professional fields today, particularly in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) tech. Companies with subscription-based models rely on renewals, so it makes sense for them to prioritize customer retention. They need to keep customers coming back.

Churn may be enemy #1 for these subscription-model companies, but it’s hardly unique to them. Customer churn is a major profit-killer for any company that counts on repeat business. So how can companies design a customer experience that boosts retention rates? Personalized messaging is a start.

Studies show that customers want a personalized experience from the companies they buy from, so marketers are responding with personalized customer journeys that deliver relevant content to customers when they want it most. Personalization is effective because it speaks to the individual, not the masses. Rather than receiving one-size-fits-all messaging, personalized campaigns take the recipient’s interests and purchase history into account. This establishes a more profound connection between company and customer that leads to increased loyalty.

As consumers look to the web for their needs more and more, companies that provide consistent service across channels stand to profit too. In fact, Aberdeen found that companies with a social care program experienced a 7.5% year over year increase in customer retention, while those without one only saw a change of 2.9%.

Bottom line: companies have to be where their customers are in order to keep them around. When the cross-channel customer experience is seamless and personalized, the choice to stay becomes much simpler.

Customer Engagement & Customer Experience

Last but not least, customer engagement is a big component of customer experience. Engagement literally means how customers are engaging with a brand across channels (website, mobile platforms, support resources, etc.). If the experience is lacking in one place, customers are bound to be disappointed.

Consider data from WOW, which shows that 52% of customers—more than half—are less likely to engage with a company because of a bad mobile experience. Companies often have a tough time grasping this. They’re looking at the bigger picture. Our website is good enough, they might think. Small improvements won’t make a difference. But a mobile user sees a clunky, unoptimized site and forms a negative opinion fast. Even worse, that one experience could become their lasting impression.

Of course, offering a mobile-friendly experience isn’t the only way to boost customer engagement. Websites can drive customer satisfaction and efficiency by making it easy for customers to find answers themselves. CRM Magazine found that 45% of companies offering web or mobile self-service saw an increase in site traffic and a reduction in support phone calls. By helping customers solve problems on their own, these companies reduced their operational costs and provided a better overall experience.

The lesson here? Think about the channel as much as the content. Customers engage with your company on their phones, on the go, when they’re busy. As a result, their mobile experience heavily impacts their overall customer experience. Make it easy and pleasant for customers to engage with your brand, wherever they may be.

Wrap-up

Customer experience is a broad concept that we’re only just beginning to understand. What we do know is that customers expect outstanding experiences more than ever before. Every customer interaction contributes to their overall brand perception, which they’re likely to share online and offline.

Do you know how your customers feel about your products and services? For a good deal of companies, the answer is no. Online surveys help measure customer experience, turning those critical touch points into tangible data. Armed with customer feedback, companies can design a customer experience that keeps people engaged and on board.

salesforce surveys

11 Oct 16:44

7 Steps to Get Started with Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

by Tim Asimos

Account-based marketing (ABM) is a powerful B2B strategy for reaching and engaging specific, named targets in order to grow your sales pipeline. For B2B firms with high-value, low-volume deals, ABM can help align the efforts of marketing and business development, while providing more intentional support during a long and complex sales cycle.

B2B firms have greatly invested in content marketing and demand generation to generate awareness and interest, and they are reaping the rewards, which include raised profiles, thought leadership and new streams of leads. However, ABM has emerged as a complimentary strategy to assist business development teams with accelerating the sales cycle, close more deals and penetrate new markets. By allowing the marketing team to focus on the companies a firm is most interested in doing business with, ABM can make a measurable impact on business development and the bottom line.

As with any marketing strategy, an account-based marketing program requires the right approach in order to be effective. Here are 7 steps to help your firm get started with ABM.

1. Get buy-in and set goals

Every marketing initiative should start here, and ABM is no exception. Obtaining buy-in from both the C-suite and sales team is critical to the success of the program. It’s important to make the distinct connection between the objectives of the firm and the objectives of the ABM program. You’ll also want to make the case for how ABM will benefit the firm’s sales and business development efforts. An ABM program will require close alignment of marketing and sales, and necessitate ongoing collaboration and proactive support. Once buy-in has been obtained, and prior to putting a plan in place, goals and specific key performance indicators (KPIs) should be put in place.

2. Identify high-priority target accounts

An essential question to ask at the onset of an ABM strategy is who does your firm want to work with? Who are the companies (accounts) that your firm would love to land as a client? You’ll certainly want to talk to the sales team who already has some specific, known accounts that they would like to pursue. But there are others who aren’t on their radar that should be. One great way to identify new target accounts is to profile what makes up an ideal, best-fit client. Take a look at your best accounts, the ones that firm leadership would love to duplicate over and over again, and identify the characteristics that are common in an ideal client. These characteristics might include the following:

  • Organization type
  • Organization size
  • Annual revenue
  • Geographic location
  • Project volume
  • Method of procurement
  • Projected client lifetime value (CLV)
  • Strategic importance
  • Leadership/cultural fit

This becomes a checklist of sorts that will help your team better identify new target accounts that your firm should pursue with an ABM strategy.

3. Profile decision makers and influencers

Once you’ve identified specific, named accounts, you’ll then want to identify the right contacts at those organizations. But in addition to knowing who to target, it’s important to profile decision makers and key influencers through the development of buyer personas. In order to create content and campaigns that are going to help you engage these accounts, you have to have a deep understanding of their context and perspective. This is where personas can provide insight into your audience’s:

  • Goals and objectives
  • Issues and challenges
  • Questions and interests
  • Selection and purchasing triggers
  • Sources for information and research
  • How your content can help

Buyer personas are best developed through qualitative research (one-on-one interviews, ideally 3rd party) that provides a real-world basis for the personas, as opposed to assumptions made internally.

4. Create content around personas and the client journey

The right kind of content is at the heart of any effective ABM program. And buyer personas should form the foundation for your ABM content strategy. Building off these buyer insights, you’ll want to create content that speaks directly to decision makers and influencers at each stage of the client journey. At the awareness stage, you need to understand what non-sales content you can provide to a target account that will both grab their attention and introduce your firm. At the interest and consideration stage, you’ll need content that starts to offer specific solutions and/or approaches to a problem or need that your prospect has identified. Finally, as the account moves into the evaluation and selection stage, you’ll need content that assists with the vetting process and positions you as the firm of choice for that account’s needs.

5. Choose the proper channels and tools

Based on each individual account, you need to determine which channels will be best suited for reaching and engaging those contacts. Likely it will be a combination of channels, as an integrated approach is more likely to make an impact. In addition to the channels, you’ll also want to identify which tools will be leveraged for your ABM efforts. Marketing automation and CRM software are price-of-entry tools to leverage, but can be combined with other tools for things like predictive lead scoring, ad technology, real-time personalization or ABM-specific platforms such as Engagio.

6. Plan and execute targeted campaigns

Once you’ve identified target accounts, profiled the influencers and decision makers, created the right content and selected the proper channels and tools, it’s time to plan and execute specific targeted campaigns. While campaigns may share similarities, each campaign should be targeted and tailored to that specific account. In other words, the content and messages that each account receives should come across as though you have created it specifically for them. You’ll want to gather the content assets, tailor them for the target account and plan out your plan of attack for each stage of the client journey.

The content you create can and should be used for both offline and online distribution, and repurposed for a myriad of channels and circumstances. While much of the process will be done digitally, in-person, offline interactions should be included as well. Look for ways and times to arm the sales team with account-specific content to assist in their relationship building. As the relationship matures, your sales team will gain more insight into their specific interests and needs, so your content should become even more hyper-focused based on those insights.

7. Measure, analyze and optimize

Understanding how your firm’s ABM efforts are performing is critical to the long-term success of the program. To understand performance, you’ll want to measure and analyze engagement related to website visits (individual and multiple visitors), email opens and clicks, lead scores, downloads, opportunities and wins. You’ll want to create a scorecard of analytics and KPIs that will keep the sales and executive team aware of all activities by account. In addition to reporting your activities and success, you should also leverage the analytics for insights into how you should optimize your efforts moving forward.

Build on success, learn from shortcomings

With any new marketing initiative there’s going to be wins and losses. So it’s important to build on success, but also learn from what didn’t work and change your approach midstream. ABM done right can provide your sales team with the proactive sales enablement and support to help your firm close more deals and grow your business.

11 Oct 16:44

7 Untapped Features of Marketing Automation to Boost Business

by Jacob Mason

Businesses are readily automating their marketing campaigns to align themselves with the latest trends. Most marketers see marketing automation (MA) as a tool to send emails automatically, upon trigger events, which are often customized.

There are several software options in the industry which are providing top notch MA services, but most of them are too expensive for small businesses, startups and freelancers. Here are the best and most affordable MA software in the industry:

GetResponse

Intuitive and user-friendly. GetResponse has powerful features but does not need an expert for its testing, reporting and analytics features. While it is a well-built system, their key USP is competitive pricing. Their fee is extremely reasonable compared to other MA service providers.

AWeber

AWeber is a cost-effective platform and easy to use but looks a bit “vintage” and outdated. It is inexpensively priced with simple, straightforward features. However, it provides vast lists of landing pages and forms.

ConstantContact

When ConstantContact launched their Email Marketing platform, their USP was to be a cost-effective platform, but not anymore. Competition has improved the dated interface, but it still lags in integration and reporting features. Both Aweber and Getresponse have better and significantly more templates than ConstantContact.

Infusionsoft

It is not just an MA tool, it is a complete analytics, reporting and CRM solution for a business. Additionally, Infusionsoft provides complete sales department integration. Because it provides intense features, the price of the tool is a bit heavy. To fully utilize its advanced features, you need an expert or a lot of expendable time to learn it yourself.

HubSpot

An exceptionally built product that is being used by over 30,000 businesses. HubSpot is a complete sales and marketing suite. They have an unparalleled customer education program which is a benchmark for content marketing strategies.

Marketing automation usually deploys automated communications, depending upon past interaction data. But marketing automation is much more than just an email dispatch software. Here are some hidden features of MA software:

Bounce Rate Minimization and Communication Delivery Confirmation

An MA system processes unsubscribe requests and bounces to maintain a neat spam-free mailing list:

  • CAN-SPAM compliance instantly removes undeliverable addresses.
  • Sender Policy Framework (SPF) verifies IP address of the IDs to prevent spamming.
  • Domain Key Identified Mail (DKIM) protocol marks “trusted” on your messages and prevents them from landing in spam or junk folders.
  • ISP feedback loop program tells marketers when a subscriber marks your mail as spam to instantly remove them from the mailing list.

Lead Management and Nurture for Better Business Prospects

Some MA software may assume prospect’s first contact to be the lead generating factor and result in skewed reporting. But a well-built system scores them for systematic nurturing:

  • Data is collected from third party systems to build an exhaustive and true profile of potential customer.
  • Leads are scored and segmented on the basis of filters like demographics, Firmographics, BANT scores, etc.
  • Online behavior is tracked, and the analytics of user engagement data is incorporated for lead nurturing.
  • On the basis of value of leads, prolonged campaigns like drip marketing are undertaken to nurture and retain them accordingly.

Predesigned Landing Pages and Testing of Different Versions for Enhanced Engageability

Landing pages and forms can bring a lot of time and money to your campaign if not planned well in advanced, but MA software keep you covered:

  • A customized landing page can be created, personalized for specific leads and their click behavior.
  • Easy drag drop editor with WYSIWYG pages makes the process easy and graphical instead of coding and programming.
  • Insert forms and surveys on landing pages delivered by MA software. With progressive profiling ask “smart questions.”
  • A/B split testing allows marketers to compare different versions of landing pages, forms, emails and various elements of campaigns to come up with the statistically best version.

Deployment of Dynamic Content and Mobile Marketing Campaigns

Migration of internet users to a mobile interface has transformed the marketing domain. Campaigns are becoming client-oriented and user-friendly:

  • Programmatic content can tailor itself according to user behavior. Customized text, images and CTAs bring higher engagement and better conversions.
  • MA software send push notifications and In-app messages to inform your prospects about the most relevant deals and bargains.
  • Using data science, target the right users for your mobile apps and re-engage with those who have lapsed.

Integration with CRM, API and Bilateral Flow of Information

Marketing Automation is not a stand-alone system. A seamless integration with other systems is critical for a successful campaign:

  • Customer Relation Management software saves the data of clients and customers. MA software must have a two-way flow of information to make changes to this data as well as making use of this information for better targeting. It might have high variance among various MA software and advisable to understand particularly about the specific tool.
  • An API is a set of functions and algorithms that create applications to extract data from systems. MA software must have a high level of usability with APIs to trigger events and exchange data for smooth operation and sharing of data with other systems of enterprise.

Management of Social Media Marketing Campaigns

MA software not only deliver emails, it also delivers social media campaigns and marketing on various platforms:

  • Scheduling, sharing and automating – Posts can be scheduled and automated to multiple social media accounts. Your media sharing plugin button can be customized to add personal messages for different users upon clicking the button.
  • Social listening – Monitor what other leads and contacts are sharing on their social profiles like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Segmentation and Nurturing – Incorporate profile data and share history to enhance segmentation. Deploy smart polls and surveys to improve engagement and amplify your campaign.

Analytics, Reporting and Tracking Performance of Marketing Campaigns

It is said that what gets measured, gets improved. Analyzing and reviewing data helps you tweak your campaign for better results:

  • Web, SEO and keyword analytics – It tracks and reports user behavior, referral sources, keyword performance and the SEO level of your online property.
  • Anonymous tracking – With cookie profiling, even unregistered users can be tracked with accuracy.
  • ROI analytics – Compare revenue from different sources and gauge performance on the basis of various metrics like funnel, investment, goals, pipeline, etc.

Marketing automation software get a little complicated for deploying high end analytics and tracking. While most MA software options offer standard features, but with extremely competitive pricing, and easy to use drag-drop-join workflow editor, GetResponse is the organic choice for small businesses and freelancers.