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14 Nov 20:02

7 Easy Things to Do to Simplify Your Life

by Martina McGowan


Life always seems to be zooming past us and things can get pretty intense and complicated. When we feel pressed by time constraints, the demands on our personal live and our professional time, the sheer volume of all we feel responsible for, the things we must do and the the things we want to do, it can feel overwhelming. There are many things we can do to simplify our lives and still get a great deal accomplished. If you check online you will find hacks for work, hacks your love life, exercise, and anything else you can imagine. Setting up all of these hacks requires a hack or an app of its own.

Strategies for A Simpler Life

1. Keep your list short.

  • The fewer things we try to accomplish, the more we will be able to get done.
  • Make a list in the morning (or the night before) of the two or three most important things you want to get done at work today.
  • Before you leave work, make a list of the one to three most important things you want to get done while you are at home.
  • Make a new short list for the weekend.
  • This action of making a working list will force you to prioritize so that you can focus on and succeed at accomplishing the tasks that are most important to you.

2. Focus. Stop Multitasking.

  • Switching back and forth between two or more tasks is inefficient.
  • Learn to focus on one task until it is complete before moving on to something else.
  • Try this for a week and notice the difference it makes.

3. Pare down your diet and your waistline.

  • The next time you are shopping for groceries, make a list, and stick to the edges of the store.
  • What is on the edges? Lean protein, vegetables, fruits, and dairy. Throw in some nuts, some healthy whole grains and you have a healthier diet.
  • You will save time and money at the store while working to improve your health.

4.Write shorter emails.

  • Try to limit your emails to five sentences.
  • If an email is five sentences, no one will complain that your email is too short , too long, or too wordy.
  • You can maintain relationships without spending a lot of time typing a senseless email and repeating information people already know.
  • If the topic will take more than 5 sentences, then pick up the phone or walk to the other person’s office as the situation calls for it.

5. Get to bed on time, or early.

  • Any extra time that we are awake at night is rarely productive.
  • Most people spend evenings nodding off in their favorite chair while the TV watches them. Break your TV habit.
  • Get to bed early and get up early.
  • You will get more done.

6. Sort through your mail as you enter your home.

  • Every day, take the mail from your mailbox, and stand over the garbage can.
  • Throw out the junk immediately, and sort the rest.
  • Put it all away in its appropriate place.
  • This will help avoid the frustration of lost bills and clutter.
  • Save your precious time and energy for more important tasks than going through a huge stack of junk every time you need to find a bill or other important paperwork.

7. Go off-grid.

  • I know that it seems like more and more work must be completed on the computer, but there are pitfalls to working online.
  • The internet can be, at times, both the best and worst thing ever invented.
  • While it provides us with tremendous resources, it is also an absolutely perfect way to waste a lot of time.
  • Would you rather complete the billing report for your boss or watch a video of kittens riding on the back of a goat? See?

Try out these seven simple methods and see how they can make a significant impact on your life and your productivity.

What other things can you add to this list?

Keep your life simple and it will be easier to get through each day with a sense of accomplishment.

Simplify 1 (mgm)

14 Nov 19:57

6 Ways to Use Explainer Videos to Your Advantage

by Alyson Wuamett

Explainer videos are a perfect way to teach, inform, inspire and familiarize potential customers with your business, but do you know all the other great ways to use these videos to your advantage?

Today, I’m going to tell you how.

Before we can go full steam ahead, however, I want to make sure I clarify what an explainer video is. It’s pretty self explanatory, but an explainer video introduces a product or service quick and memorable – quick being the operative word here.

According to Wistia, You can expect the average viewer to watch 82 percent of the video if it’s between zero to 30 seconds, and 75 percent of the video if it’s between 30 to 60 seconds. Which doesn’t surprise me, since a survey conducted from the National Center for Biotechnology recorded in 2000 the average attention span was 12 seconds, and it decreased to 8 seconds in 2013.

Better get your message across quickly or people will lose interest. There are all types of explainer videos too – from simple whiteboard videos to complex 3-D animation. When done right, explainer videos are a great way to engage with potential customers.

Increased Conversions

The longer you can keep a visitor on your website, the better the chances are to make a conversion. According to a recent survey conducted by Video Rascal, 85 percent of people are more likely to buy a product once they see an accompanying explainer video.

Most of all, explainer videos can relay your message in an efficient and effortless way for your users to comprehend. Thus, you increase your conversion rate. Sure, copy on your website is great for SEO, but when someone comes to your page, there is a slim chance they’ll even read the majority of your content.

Dropbox is a great example of a company who took full advantage of the effectiveness of explainer videos.

They limited their homepage design to contain only two simple things: one explainer video and one download now button. This video increased conversion rates over 10 percent, and with the video being viewed 750,000 times in one month alone, the 10 percent increase resulted in several thousand extra sign ups per day.

Turn Customers Into Promoters

A big reason online videos are so popular is because videos are easy to share. That is why social video generates more than 1,200 percent more shares than text and images. Though it is unpredictable what makes certain videos spread like wildfire across the internet, providing those easy to share videos will help spread your message.

It also provides your current customers who love your product or service with a simple way to become promoters through their social platforms.

Content Retention

To me, this is the largest advantage to explainer videos. According to Western Ontario University research, great visuals make potential customers remember your business story. On average people recall 10 percent of any visual data three days after and up to 70 percent of audiovisual information.

By harnessing both the visual and auditory senses together, explainer videos increase retention rates and clarify their value concept in a condensed way. By utilizing this knowledge of brain science, developing compelling explainer videos will increase memory retention. This two-sided approach gives new information several different avenues to enter long-term memory.

Visual clarity

Many companies have a tough time expressing what it is they do or sell in a way that potential customers can easily comprehend. An explainer video will help take the guess work out of describing just that. Text can be construed in numerous ways, and your audience may miss your main selling points. However, when you are explaining your story on video, there is a less chance of confusion, because videos tend to create less jumble than copy alone.

Having an explainer video replace your boring text will result in less misreadings and misunderstandings. It’s equivalent to an in person business demonstration.

Case Studies

Another way to use explainer videos to your advantage is to incorporate case studies into the script. Using case study stories can help bring down the level of “salesiness” in the video. It adds a certain level of authenticity to your communication, as the message is coming from the customer, rather than straight from your business.

Viewers of your videos are often “researchers” who are attracted to hearing about experiences of people “just like them.” People love to connect to a story and situation.

Qualified Leads

Explainer videos allow your company to convey the perfect message every time. It’s easier to communicate unique selling points to a visitor in a video by showing – rather than telling – them how your product works. Once a visitor decides to convert to a lead, they will be much better educated and much more qualified when your salesperson gets them on the phone – a stepping stone to generating more revenue for your business.

Do you currently have a great explainer video? Share with us some of the free ways your take advantage of it.

14 Nov 19:57

Top Personal Branding Tips for Thought Leaders

by Gabbrielle Branch

Personal branding is commanding a lot of attention these days, especially from job seekers and people trying to get ahead in the workplace. Google the topic and you’ll be greeted with a cacophony of advice to take your career to the next level or turn you into the next Richard Branson. (Good luck with that last one.)

But branding the individual is especially relevant in the professional services, where developing thought leadership is a critical tool in an expert’s rise to prominence. I’m not talking about the self-described, “empty-suit” expert. Instead, these are serious professionals who want to increase their visibility and become recognized industry experts.

These high-profile individuals are often referred to as thought leaders or Visible Experts. But it takes more than knowing your stuff to build a following. To become a true thought leader you need to focus your attention in the right areas.

What areas, specifically? Here are seven critical tips that will build your personal brand and put you on the path to higher visibility.

Top Personal Branding Tips

1. Focus your expertise

Don’t try to be an expert in too many things. The more narrowly you focus your expertise the faster your personal brand will grow. Why? Because people are not very good at associating an expert with more than one thing. Not to mention, it’s very difficult to master multiple disciplines. A few exceptionally gifted people have become experts in more than one field, but most are remembered for only one of them.

If you could become the go-to expert in one thing, what would it be? Try completing this sentence:

“I am the leading expert in ____________.”

Whether or not you consider yourself the leading expert yet is unimportant. “Leading expert” is in the mind of the beholder. If you can state your expertise in clear, simple language, you’ve already taken a huge step forward.

Let’s look at a quick example. Suppose you’re an accountant and you say your expertise is in taxes. That’s probably not going to cut it. “Taxes” is just too broad a concept. Could you credibly be considered “the leading expert” in taxes? I doubt it. A focus on “state and local taxes” would be better, but you may need to go even narrower to find an expertise platform you can “own.” How about “state and local taxes for online purchases”? That’s more like it! It’s very specific, but still applies to a lot of businesses out there.

Okay, you get the picture. Narrower is better.

2. Pick your issues carefully


One more advantage of a narrow focus is that it limits what you will write and speak about. No longer faced with a wide world of possibilities, you can work within a clearly defined range of issues.

But won’t you run out of things to talk about? That’s very unlikely.

When you zoom in on an area of specialty you’ll discover a whole new ecosystem of problems, challenges and ideas just waiting to be answered, explained and debated. In fact, it’s possible to become overwhelmed by the complexities of practically any niche.

The key is to focus on issues where you can shine. Here are three questions to help you filter out the noise:

  1. Where do your interests lie?
  2. Where do your clients struggle most?
  3. Where can you deliver the greatest value?

At first, focus on just two or three issues. These will be issues that you write and/or speak about on a regular basis, so you should either understand them in depth already or be prepared to put in the research to get up to speed. Your goal is to become closely identified with these issues, so make sure they align well with the services you sell.

Choose issues that have legs. That means that they 1) don’t have an easy solution, and 2) aren’t likely to go away soon. If you want to get the most traction from your issues, you should try to take a position that’s different from other experts who work in this area. If you can take a contrarian or controversial stand, so much the better. That’s how you attract notice and stick in people’s minds.

3. Shape your personal profiles to be consistent with your expertise

Take a look at your bio on your website and the personal profiles on your social media pages. Do they present you as a highly credible professional? Do they convey a consistent message? And do they connect you to the issues you’ve chosen to write and speak about?

Next, take a look at your areas of expertise and tags. Do they align with the image you are trying to project? If someone were to look at those alone, what would they communicate about you?

Finally, turn your attention to your photo(s). Professional photography is essential if you want to convey a high-end personal brand. That doesn’t mean it has to lack personality — you can take your shot in any setting. But it needs to look great. A web cam portrait or cropped dinner party shot isn’t going to put your best foot forward.

4. Develop a signature piece of content

Most high-profile experts have a high-value piece of content that demonstrates their expertise and amplifies their reputation. It’s an important way they deliver on their brand promise. And it’s their signature calling card. In rare cases, this piece can become even better known than the expert, herself.

For many thought leaders, this signature piece is a book. Sometimes this book becomes the tipping point that catapults an expert to stardom. Most of the time, however, the effect is less dramatic but still critical to the expert’s reputation. If you aren’t ready to write the book on your area of expertise, however, there are other options to enhance your personal brand.

Here’s a great way to start: write an executive guide on one of your issues. Guides are typically 20–30 pages long and cover a topic at some depth. Think of it as an advanced introduction to an issue. Usually, it’s best to write your guide in plain English with the goal of explaining a technical subject to a non-technical audience. (This ability to simplify complex issues is a hallmark of Visible Experts.)

Another option is to produce white papers. These pieces are usually shorter than guides and can be quite technical. Most white papers range in length from a few pages to 20 pages or so.

You can also consider an entirely different approach to your signature content — conduct a research study that explores a problem of intense interest to your target audience. If possible, the topic of the study should align with one of your issues. And when you publish the final research report be sure to include your expert analysis along with the findings, and identify some practical takeaways your readers can apply to their businesses. As an added bonus, you’ll be able to use the findings to inspire countless blog posts and speeches (see #5 below).

Whatever format you choose for your signature piece of content, it should be a sample of your expertise at work and position you as a knowledgeable and creative thinker.

5. Write regularly on your area of expertise

A person’s reputation isn’t created in one big push. It’s built up over time, little by little. That’s exactly how you should think about your thought leadership, too. Writing on the issues you care about in small, steady increments is one of the best ways to build a loyal following.

And writing on a regular schedule comes with significant added benefits, too: it helps you master new material — deepening your expertise — and it forces you to think through and refine your arguments.

Where do you publish your writing? Your firm’s blog or e-newsletter are ideal outlets for your thinking — they are cheap to produce and flexible enough for a busy schedule. You should also look outside your firm for new opportunities to share your ideas. Seek out publications and blogs that speak to your target audience. If you were ambitious, you could even establish a regular guest column in an outside publication, becoming the resident expert on your issue.

However you end up structuring your writing, keep your eye on your end goal: to broaden the visibility of your personal brand and get in front of people who otherwise might never find you.

Now, your writing doesn’t always have to break new ground. Many of your readers will be new or unfamiliar with the issues you cover, so it’s okay to return periodically to your most important points and apply them to different situations. Even long-time readers may appreciate looking at a familiar topic from a new angle.

The important thing is to set a schedule and stick to it. Even when you are busy. Try reserving a time on your calendar every week for writing. If you schedule won’t allow a fixed schedule, you may have to carve out time as it becomes available, or plan to do your writing during off hours.

6. Embrace speaking events and webinars

Public speaking is one of the most popular — and effective — tools used by Visible Experts. It’s a terrific way to demonstrate your expertise and strengthen your personal brand. If you choose your speaking events carefully, you can reach groups of people who not only are in your target audience but are very receptive to your ideas. And if you can meet members of the audience face to face after the event, you can make personal connections that are just not possible online.

Webinars are another great way to expand your visibility to new audiences and build your personal brand. Like speaking events, webinars allow you to share your knowledge and express your personality. You can even field their questions at the end. And once you’ve been doing them for a while, webinars can attract hundreds of qualified and engaged prospects at a time.

Each format has its pros and cons. There’s nothing like standing in front of a live audience to convince people that you are the genuine article: a true expert. But public speaking can be time consuming and, in many cases, expensive. While webinars can’t convey the full range of your expertise, they can be remarkably effective at building your reputation and brand. They free you from the bounds of geography and take less time and effort to pull off. You can also record them and use the recordings again and again.

Whether you choose to speak publicly or conduct webinars (or both), live events provide a unique opportunity to give your audience a taste of your personality. They can also expose you to a new set of people outside your local area who haven’t yet discovered you through your writing.

7. Network with peers and prospects

Here’s a personal branding tip that shouldn’t surprise you: networking can be a powerful tool. It has two important dimensions:

  1. Who you network with, and
  2. How you do it

Let’s look at these in turn.

Without a doubt you, should be rubbing elbows with people who can use and buy your professional services. That’s a no brainer. But there’s another important group that might not be so obvious — experts. Don’t be afraid to network with other experts, especially those who serve an audience similar to yours but don’t directly compete with you. (For instance, if you an expert architect, you might reach out to top engineers or construction managers.) Their recommendations can hold a lot of burnishing power. And just associating yourself with respected authorities can place you in their league. It’s not necessarily a bad idea to network with your direct competitors, either. They can’t always handle all the work that comes their way, so they can be valuable referral sources. Or if you take a different angle to solving problems, it might complement their own approach.

So where can you find other experts like you? Follow them on social media, get to know them online, and start exchanging ideas. This approach will make you a better expert and put your brand on a higher plane. Building a rapport online also makes it easier and less awkward to meet in person at industry conferences, where you can deepen the relationship.

The “how” is easy. While face-to-face networking has some real advantages, its reach is limited by the time you can spend on it. Social media, on the other hand, can be a faster and easier way to build your brand. (Don’t get me wrong. It still takes time.) To the uninitiated, social media — with its plethora of platforms and tools — can be intimidating. But most industries favor just a few. LinkedIn is the most common social platform across the professional services, and many firms use it exclusively. In higher education, Facebook is very popular. A quick review of competitors’ websites should point you to the one or two essential social media tools in your industry.

If in-person networking is working for you, by all means keep doing it. But if you haven’t yet dived into social media, it offers a lot of possibilities to increase your exposure, meet prospects and other experts, debate relevant issues and share your expertise. This is exactly how personal brands are built.

So there you have it: seven personal branding tips that can make you a better, more visible expert and a recognized though leader. You don’t have to tackle them all at once. You may even be doing some of these things already. But the more you time you can devote to building your personal brand, the faster your stock will rise.

If you’d like to read a few real-life personal branding stories, check out this post that profiles four experts from a variety of industries.

14 Nov 17:58

Psychological Hacks for Marketers – Part 3

by Zach Heller

Welcome to the latest installation of our weekly blog series – Psychological Hacks for Marketers. Each week we will introduce a new shortcut that the consumer’s brand takes and how the crafty marketer can take advantage. Last week’s topic was Confirmation Bias.

This week we are discussing:


Anchoring refers to the cognitive bias for human beings to overly rely on one piece of information, usually the first piece of information, and to judge additional information provided against it. This impacts decision making, because instead of parsing out options and weighing them evenly, we tend to place more importance on the first option and then compare and contrast each proceeding option against that one.

That means that options are not on an even playing field, even though we’d all be better off if they were.

For marketers, however, this means that there are some best practices you can follow to steer consumers in the direction you want them to go. Here are a few examples of how to do that:

  • When presenting a discount or special offer, always mention the full price first. Rather than simply describing something as half off, quote the full price and then show the new, lower price. That discount looks a lot better when compared to our anchor, which is much higher.
  • Pricing tiers are common in many industries, especially among technology and service companies. Pay one price, get X. Pay a higher price, get X +Y, and so on. You will notice that a common practice is to show three different plans side by side. That’s because if there were two plans, people would steer toward the cheaper one. But with three, people are comparing the second two to the first one, and will usually choose the middle option.
  • When comparing your own products to those of your competitors, anchoring is a powerful tool. By choosing the specific characteristic where your product offers more value and highlighting it, you are controlling the conversation in the consumer’s mind.

Successfully deploying strategies that take advantage of anchoring can help companies convince consumers to make the right decision right now.

14 Nov 17:56

Case Study: Altering Employee Recruitment Strategy for the Millennial and Generation Z Workforce

by KC Claveria

Why Goldman Sachs is advertising on Spotify

Attracting and retaining Millennial employees is becoming a real challenge for big companies. Millennials, according to studies, are choosing smaller companies and startups over bigger, more established corporations. They want competitive salaries, but they also expect work-life balance and a diverse and engaging workplace culture. More importantly, many Millennials want to make a difference in their work—something they don’t think they can achieve working for a big conglomerate.

To attract this elusive generation, one company is tapping into a platform millions of Millennials visit every day. According to Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs started running ads on Spotify earlier this month in an effort to recruit Millennial employees. The audio and banner ads, which target Spotify users in the U.S. and the U.K., direct potential employees to a careers quiz page where people can explore the various departments and roles in the company.

Why Goldman chose Spotify

The bank’s decision to run its ads on Spotify isn’t surprising given the streaming service’s popularity among young music listeners. In The Everything Guide to Millennials, we revealed that 35 percent of Millennials are subscribed to the music streaming service. (Twenty six percent of Generation Z, the cohort after Millennials, are subscribed to it, according to another Vision Critical report.) With over 100 million users—a majority of them 35 or younger—Spotify is a good place to get in front of potential employees.

Spotify is just one of the new channels Goldman Sachs uses to build its employer brand. In 2015, for instance, the finance company used Snapchat Stories to lure Millennial employees.

“Spotify and Snapchat are unconventional media choices for us,” admits Amanda Rubin, global co-head of Goldman Sachs’ brand and content strategy, to Bloomberg. “We’re trying to be valuable and help young people understand Goldman.”

Diversity and impact

Goldman’s Spotify ads aim to highlight the company’s diverse workforce. “It’s a place where talented people from diverse backgrounds come to make a difference—from building a new app to managing an IPO,” the ad says. “We’re people who have studied the humanities, science, math—you name it.”

That messaging is a nod to the fact that most Millennials value diversity in the workplace. The campaign also aims to address the fact that Goldman Sachs is still ‘mostly white and male’—an issue that the company is actively working to correct.

Recognizing that Millennials want to do meaningful work, the ad also emphasizes the potential of working for the company. “When you want to make an impact in unexpected ways, think Goldman Sachs,” the ad concludes. According to our study, ‘making a difference’ matters to 26 percent of Millennials when it comes to their ideal job—a six percent lift from Gen Xers. Among Gen Zers, that number jumps to 32 percent.

Retaining Millennial employees

Goldman Sach’s aggressive push to reach Millennials and Gen Z is just another reminder of the intensifying war for young talent. As these generations take over the workforce, leveraging their skills, talent and business acumen will become an even bigger competitive advantage for companies.

But just as crucial as attracting Millennials, companies need to figure out how to retain these younger employees. Millennials tend to change jobs more frequently compared to older generations. So, while running ads on Spotify and Snapchat is a good start, companies like Goldman Sachs can’t afford to stop there. More than ever, big companies need to invest in understanding the motivations of their Millennial and Generation Z employees—and build a workplace culture that meets their expectations.

Photo credit: WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM/ Rèmy Steinegger

The Everything Guide to Millennials - comprehensive report from Vision Critical

14 Nov 17:55

The Hustler’s Playbook: Two Problems You Have Generating Results

by Anthony Iannarino

There are two main reasons you aren’t producing the results you want now.

Not Enough Activity

The first reason you aren’t producing the results you want right now is because you aren’t taking enough action to produce them. There is no harvest in the Fall if you do not plant in the Spring.

Activity is what produces results, not desire, not intentions, and not luck. If you really desire a certain result, you’ll do the work necessary to produce it. Otherwise, it’s just talk. Intentions are important, but only when coupled with action. You can grow old waiting for luck to find you; she only looks for hustlers.

If you aren’t where you want to be right now, it’s very likely that you aren’t doing what is necessary to get there. If you were, you would already have what you want.

Not The Right Activity

Maybe you are taking massive action and still aren’t where you want to be, even though that’s less likely to be true.

You may believe that the activity you are taking isn’t the right activity. Before you  decide that this is the case, you have to honestly determine whether or not you’ve done enough of that activity to get the results you want. Have you gone all in? Would some impartial party know exactly what you were trying to accomplish by looking at the actions you are taking, believing it to be an extraordinary effort?

You also have to decide whether you’ve done enough activity  for long enough to get the results you want. Some outcome you want require persistence, and that’s why so few produce those outcomes. It rarely makes sense to switch strategies and tactics without first executing against what you believe to be right.

All that said, if what you are doing isn’t working, treat each failure as feedback, and then change your approach. Find a model, someone who is already producing the result you want, and look for clues as to what they are doing differently. Repeat this until you find something that works, and then go all in.

The obstacles to success are almost exclusively internal. Even when they are not,  with enough energy and effort applied consistently over time, the obstacle will yield.

The post The Hustler’s Playbook: Two Problems You Have Generating Results appeared first on The Sales Blog.

14 Nov 17:55

9 tricks for getting people to do what you want

by Áine Cain

woman boss talking directions

At the end of the day, your ultimate professional success could rely on one basic thing — getting people to do what you want.

The trick is, being persuasive without adopting dishonest or manipulative tactics.

However, no matter who you are and what industry you're in, the ability to influence others is crucial.

Here are nine methods for persuading others — some might seem a bit tricky, but they could provide a serious boost to your career:

1. Always have a good visual handy

A picture's worth a thousand words.

As Forbes previously reported, Dartmouth University's Brendan Nyhan and Georgia State's Jason Reifler ran a study looking into strongly held political convictions.

The researchers presented information that contradicted with the worldview of the study participants — hoping to see what it'd take to persuade them. Subjects didn't respond well to a written summary of evidence or attempts to assuage their self-esteem and make them feel comfortable.

However, all isn't lost. According to the study, charts were actually persuasive.

This won't always be easy — it's not like you'll always have a chart or a powerpoint on hand whenever you need to convince someone of something. However, this is an important to keep in mind. Cold facts and personal connections won't always do the trick — sometimes, a visual presentation is the edge that you need to sell your point.

You don't even have to get too fancy. As Stephen Meyer wrote for Forbes:

"All visuals used in the study were simple plain-vanilla graphs, so their power had nothing to do with fancy design or big production values. They were effective because they spoke to the brain in its native language."

2. Make people feel good

Dr. Robert Cialdini, author of "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion," lists "liking" someone as a major "weapon of influence."

According to the American Psychological Association, when we have a good feeling about someone, we're more likely to find them persuasive.

That's not too surprising. Still, for anyone that's a bit shy or awkward, that probably sounds easier said than done. However, as Business Insider previously reported, there are a few habits that you can get into in order to come across as more likeable.

3. Look the part

Would you buy something from a salesperson who's slouching, fidgeting, and avoiding eye contact? Of course not! They could be the most honest person in the world, but it wouldn't matter. Their body language projects a lack of confidence at best, deception at worst.

If you're going to become persuasive, you've got to brush up on some body language tips and start looking the part.

4. Repeat yourself

"Words, words, words," as Hamlet said.

Repetition can be pretty annoying. In writing, it's horrendous if overdone. In conversations, it's brutal (we all know someone who keeps cycling between the same few anecdotes — or, if you're like me, you are that person).

However, repetition in speeches and pitches isn't necessarily a bad thing. Plenty of famous speakers employed rhetorical devices that involved repetition. Feel free to adopt it to emphasize and drive hope your point.

5. Make people want to help you

The American Psychological Association reports that Cialdini found "reciprocity" is a key factor in persuasion.

This makes perfect sense. People tend to be more comfortable supporting individuals who've demonstrably done something for them.

So it's not a bad idea to start establishing a network of people that "owe you one."

6. Don't whine

When you're trying to present a convincing point, it can be difficult to strike a good balance. You don't want to appear passive, but you also don't want to come on too strong.

John Brandon of Inc. writes that it's probably better to air on the side of honesty and politeness:

"Some of the most miserable people I know have this attitude about persuasion that it's all about cajoling others. You try to trick them — usually through a stern attitude or a demanding voice — to get what you want. It doesn't really work, unless 'what you what' is the same as feeling miserable."

7. Demonstrate your value

What makes gold, diamonds, and Ninetales so valuable?


According to the American Psychological Association, scarcity it another one one Cialdini's principles of persuasion.

People tend to value what is rare and unusual. It can be tricky sometimes, but try to use hat psychological quirk to frame and construct a convincing argument.

8. Have people do favors for you

Counterintuitively, people tend to like you more when they do things for you. It's called the "Ben Franklin effect." So if you can put yourself in a position where others do favors for you, that's a good start. As Changing Minds notes, Franklin once wrote, "He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another than he whom you yourself have obliged."

9. Tell a story

Humans are emotional creatures. Data and facts are crucial, but if you really want to be persuasive, you've got to appeal to emotion as well. This means finding a compelling way of conveying what's on your mind. Whether you're speaking with your boss, interviewing with a hiring manager, or even giving a presentation, you should always strive to tell a story.

SEE ALSO: A Stanford psychologist shares a smart trick for landing your dream job

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer explains the 3 keys to building a powerful brand

14 Nov 17:49

Show Me the Money! How 4 Financial Brands Are Empowering Buyers With Content Marketing

by Dana Harder

Financial services has the reputation of being a dry industry. Even for consumer-facing financial businesses, it can be challenging to communicate such in-depth and complicated concepts as financial health and wealth management, budgeting, retirement investment plans and so much more. For B2B fintech companies, the complexity intensifies. They’re dealing with executives who are in the financial trenches and understand the market — including all of its regulations. So it’s easy for fintech brands to pack in the jargon and generate the same uber-professional content they always have.

But the fintech world is changing in exciting new ways. With global investment in financial technology increasing 75% in 2015, fintech brands have the opportunity to differentiate their brand and their marketing by embracing new content trends, formats and tactics. To spark some inspiration, we wanted to spotlight some B2B and B2C financial brands that have fearlessly broken new content marketing ground:

1. Content Discoverability and Bingeing: American Express

Screen Shot 2016-11-07 at 11.40.36 AM

American Express has always eagerly experimented with different messaging tactics and content marketing approaches — for both its B2B and B2C divisions. We recently showcased how the brand’s commercials featuring Tina Fey were great examples of buyer-focused messaging in action, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t spotlight some of its B2B content, as well.

Using results from an in-depth survey of business travelers, American Express and its Global Corporate Payments division developed an immersive content hub spotlighting business traveler behaviors, experiences and even their pain points. The hub features a variety of supplementary assets, such as blog articles, listicles, infographics and presentation. All visual and tactical in nature, these pieces helped put a fun spin on meaty survey data. Additionally, the research, which was developed in partnership with the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), helped position the Global Corporate Payments division as a thought leader in the industry, while also providing knowledge and insight to business leaders.

2. Video and Mobile Optimization: Rocket Mortgage

Searching for a house can be tiring. You have your list of must-haves and deal-breakers; you need to consider the location, school district, taxes and so many other factors. Once you find the house of your dreams, though, you need to get pre-approved for a mortgage. This swallows up even more time and a lot of paperwork. Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans is striving to solve this headache. And the brand’s turnkey website, how-to video and streamlined mobile UX all contribute to this goal. (If you need proof, just sift through the site. It’s really so easy to navigate.) Quicken Loans allows buyers to choose their own journey based on whether they want to get a mortgage or refinance their home. Then, they walk through the process, showing how visitors can build their account, share financial information and get approval. If visitors have any questions, they can instantly connect with an expert through chat.

The Quicken Loans site, companion mobile app and supporting content are all integrated, helping to make the experience as easy as possible for user. That, at the end of the day, should be the central goal of your content marketing efforts.

3. Pain Point-Driven Blogs and Newsletters: Square

Screen Shot 2016-11-07 at 11.45.47 AM

Over the past decade, there have been significant shake-ups in the point-of-sale market. New mobile apps and solutions helped level the playing field — allowing consumers to exchange money and helping smaller businesses better track their sales and streamline operations.

Square was undoubtedly one of the contributors to this market disruption. Over the years, Square has had to develop a content arsenal that speak to both consumers and businesses. How can both parties use Square? What are the features and capabilities? What are the benefits? Because Square targets small businesses, high-tech jargon simply won’t do. This is why Square’s content strategy really shines. An introductory video illustrates how Square works and lays out the short- and long-term benefits. The brand also shows its vision for helping businesses grow via additional services like Square Dashboard, Square Instant Deposit and Square Capital, as well as its suite of software products.

Finally, the Town Square Business Resource Center serves as the small business owner’s guide to success. Touching on everything from marketing and operations to employee hiring and retention, Square shows that beyond being a solution provider, it has a lot of small business savvy that can help business owners in the long term. People can even subscribe to the blog so the latest business insights and best practices are delivered right to their email inboxes.

4. Data Visualization, Personalization and More: Mint

Screen Shot 2016-11-07 at 11.48.22 AM

At its core, Mint was designed to make people’s financial lives easier. Through a single platform and mobile app, you can develop and track budgets, pay credit card bills, get your credit score, and so much more. The solution itself is streamlined; users can track their progress by tapping into visual dashboards and looking at vibrant charts. The information is easy-to-digest and is always bolstered with follow-up advice and support based on users’ unique behaviors, affinities and goals.

The Mint blog, called MintLife, takes a similar approach. Targeting young professionals who want to be more “money smart,” MintLife features quick-hitting articles on budgeting, holiday planning, building credit and more. Its diverse coverage shows that MintLife has successfully become an integral resource for maintaining financial health.

As you can see, there are truly no limits for financial brands that want to educate and empower their buyers. Even B2B brands are breaking the mold of 30-page briefs and daunting research reports — and are using storytelling, blogging, video and other methods to convey their unique value proposition and add value to buyers’ lives.

12 Nov 18:48

Creating a Killer Email Strategy for Sales

by Graham Curme

Email is still the top business communications tool. 58% of us check our email first thing in the morning, and – according to market research firm Radicati Group – 100+ business emails were sent and received per day per user last year – and that number is set to reach 140 by 2018.

Email is easy to use, virtually everyone has an email address, and email can be instantly accessed from wherever you are via your mobile device.

However, too often sales leaders don’t spend enough time developing an email strategy. If you think of email simply as a tactic for your sales people and don’t invest in the appropriate planning, you lose a tremendous opportunity for differentiation and competitive advantage.

It all starts with the subject

If you can’t get your prospective customer to open your email, what is the point in coming up with compelling content?

The subject matter is the only thing that affects the open ratio and how many people you get to convey your message to.

The subject matter has to provoke or intrigue your prospect enough to motivate them to move to the next stage. It must be unique, timely, and relevant.

You must have the right messaging

If you can’t effectively and consistently communicate the value of your service or solution, you won’t get anywhere. Organizations should have a process in place to make sure that their sales people are using the right language and messaging for the right audience.

Using email templates is one way to do this. By creating quality email templates for a particular audience, you save your sales reps time and gain the confidence that reps are using the messaging that best addresses your prospects’ needs and problems.

Sales templates give your team a powerful foundation for outreach that gives reps more time in the day and improves internal alignment within the organization. Further, with today’s technology, your reps don’t have to sacrifice personalization or control. Dynamic fields allow for immediate personalization, and reps also have the ability to customize as needed for particular accounts.

In addition to reducing the time your team spends writing emails, email templates have the added bonus of ensuring that emails are clear and concise and without grammatical errors.

Make sure delivery is as efficient as possible

In sales, time is your most valuable commodity. You don’t want your team manually sending out large numbers of emails. With advanced automation, you can instantly deliver emails to a much larger group of prospects. If you aren’t automating email delivery, you’re wasting a huge amount of your reps’ daily selling time.

Consider when you come back from a huge event such as Dreamforce. If your reps are writing or even just sending individual emails to the entire list of prospects, it will take days – or even weeks. By then, your competitors will have gotten to them first.

Follow-up based on buyer interest levels

As you create an email strategy, pay attention to how you will execute follow up. You need to have a system in place to prioritize your team’s follow-up activities.

Everyone knows that you should focus on the best opportunities to maximize sales efforts. But, how can you do this? Email engagement analytics make it easy and fast to identify the best opportunities. These analytics provide real-time insight into how prospects are interacting with emails and content – providing the guidance your reps need to determine which prospects they should call or email first.

Refine email processes for greater success

Continuously monitor your email programs and campaigns. See which ones have the most success. What was done differently? By understanding which approach works best, you can repeat it and use it across the team at scale.

Analytics have the power to provide you with this knowledge. With engagement analytics, you can see which email templates get the highest response rates – so that you reuse the templates that work the best and toss out the ones that don’t work well.

Marketing has long employed subject line A/B testing to improve and refine its messaging. Now, sales organizations have the same capability. If you have a group of 50 prospects, split it into two. Send 25 prospects an email with one subject line, and 25 prospects the same email with another subject line – and see which one performs best. Learn what type of approach resonates best with your target audience, so you can copy the same style for future emails.

Make your sales emails more effective

To get the most from sales emails, leaders need to be sure that their email programs and campaigns are well thought out, personalized, and executed in the most efficient way possible.

With an optimized email strategy, organizations save time – speeding conversion rates. Which is why today’s top performing sales organizations are incorporating sales engagement analytics and automation as part of their sales email strategy.

12 Nov 18:45

9 Metrics to Determine your Social Media Marketing ROI (Part 2)

by Karen Repoli

My last post was prompted by this question from Jim, “How do I know my efforts on social media are working, or am I just spinning my wheels?” As a struggling entrepreneur, Jim wanted to know how to measure the ROI on his social media marketing. I discussed the first four metrics in part one and today I will cover the remaining five.

Rate of Applause

Rate of Applause What?! This is written content, why are you talking about applause? It might sound funny but it is possible. The standing ovation after a speech would be a sign that your job is well done. When it comes to your social media, the rate of conversion and share (applause) would aid you in measuring the content quality.

You may also use the data from Google Analytics to measure your content’s quality. When there is a new post on your website, you have to check the page views count. Also, you need to be mindful of the time of day you receive the most visitors. When these numbers go up, you can say that you are progressing, the content’s quality is high and people visited your website to get information.

Conversion share

This is a metric that will take some research to compute for your social media marketing. Breaking it down to the simplest explanation, it is comparing your conversion rates with your competitors’ conversation rates. When you do this you can see what part of your targeted audience you are reaching and also see who your competitors are reaching. If you keep track of it over time and you see your conversion share decreasing, you know you need to reevaluate. You can also use this when analyzing your competition. What are they doing that attracts customers? Is this something you can do better or different?


Social media is influenced by the sentiments of the audience. To measure the sentiment accurately, you should do it manually. This is the labor intensive process which includes the sorting of your posts. It also involves determining if the feedback obtained is positive or negative.

Economic value

Economic value

Most businesses use social media to generate sales, leads, and profits. This is where the rubber meets the road. You can begin by simply tracking the total number of conversions obtained from the online users who visited your website via your social media platforms. But you need to take it another step and track the total rate of conversion. Next, you need to factor in the cost of customer acquisition. This will help you determine the economic value of social media marketing.

All of these metrics should be in your social media marketing toolbox. You can use these to determine how well your marketing plan is working and where you need to do things better or do things differently to get your maximum return on investment.

12 Nov 18:45

Why the Sales Operations Role is so Data-Obsessed

by Leah Bell

Why is it that the Sales Operations role is so obsessed with data?

A position relatively new to the modern sales family, the sales operations role is a crucial data bridge across the entire company, but what is it about data that drives almost 100% of their focus? Well, nearly all marketing and sales initiatives are lead generating campaigns. And within each of those campaigns, the leads are funneled back into the company’s CRM (in most cases, Salesforce).

So given this modern era of hyper-volume, hyper-speed, hyper-personalized communication, data volume is higher than even, making data obsession a primary focus for the Sales Operations role.

From beginning to end, data is the fuel to their purpose: overall team improvement. That process starts with the input of data into Salesforce. But there are a number of data sources that contribute to this, from lead conversions on your website, to leads generated from your sales development teams’ cold calls.

That’s why we created our newest ebook, “Salesforce for Sales Engagement: Sales Operations Leaders,” to talk about why the Sales Operations role is so data-obsessed, and what features they can leverage to manage that data.



So how exactly do you, the Sales Operations pro, manage all of this data? Lead organization and data clarity are both priorities, and Salesforce has a huge impact on both, especially in the data- obsessed Sales Operations role. Here’s a few ways to manage all that data:

1. Salesforce leads and accounts.

There may be countless tools and technologies for everything from lead routing to advanced predictive analytics, but no matter how complex Salesforce data gets, lead and account records remain the building blocks of the Sales Operations role and initiative. So before you can build out any additional or unique functionality, you need to make sure your building blocks are in order. The more streamlined you can make your records, the easier it will be to leverage the information in those records throughout the sales process.

2. ICP and lead grading.

Once you’ve established your lead and account records, the next step is to determine which leads the company is after. This requires the development of an ideal customer profile, or ICP. Your ICP should list all of the characteristics (like industry, company size, and growth stage) of the accounts that your business is most likely to close. Then, there are a ton of technologies that can be added to Salesforce to help with lead grading, or the process of assessing how well an incoming lead matches your ICP. If a new lead is in the wrong industry, or their company is too small, you don’t want your sales team to waste time pursuing that lead.

3. Clean data.

All of your configuration of lead records and scoring means little if the data isn’t right. Cleaning sales data is a constant process — especially when inputs are coming from all over. Duplicate data can distract from productivity, but rules like Salesforce’s de-duping prevent duplicates upon creation, while also encouraging merging practices. This way, by managing the data at a high level and using an installed data quality dashboard package, you can see where the pain points are in the sales data, and what the potential causes for those pains could be.

Download your free copy today and start getting the most out of Salesforce. While CRMs weren’t built with modern sales tactics in mind, but remember: a team with solid Sales Operations data in Salesforce crushes numbers, while teams that just wing it barely hit quota.


The post Why the Sales Operations Role is so Data-Obsessed appeared first on SalesLoft.

12 Nov 18:44

How Rethinking the Social Content Strategy Helped an Animated Video Marketing Company Drive More Demand on LinkedIn

by Kristina Jaramillo

An animated video creation, production and marketing service company for technology companies like Cisco, BMC Software, Compuware, IBM, UPS, Brocade, Oracle, CA Technologies and many others did not have the systems or processes in place to build and leverage relationships. They relied on “word of mouth” and on satisfied clients continually coming back without any urging. But because of the “marketing slow down” when enterprise IT technology companies shrank their marketing budgets, clients stopped investing in expensive animated videos.

Because there was no “keep in touch” system in place, previous clients forgot about the animated video firm as they were no longer on “top of mind.” So we went to build a LinkedIn community to re-engage clients and prospects and provide them with discussions and content that moves relationships forward. But most of the company’s content was around video production so it was later stage content. For example, here are the blog articles the firm was creating:

  • Don’t forget sales when creating your explainer videos
  • How can your video content address group dynamics
  • Starting at the end: constructing videos around the call to action
  • Six questions to ask when planning a 2-Minute Explainer
  • 3 things to understand in planning an enterprise explainer solutions
  • The must-have information to include in a two-minute B2B video
  • Five mistakes B2B organizations make when condensing information into two minutes
  • Why make your introductory B2B content marketing video two minutes long?
  • 4 ways to help ensure your B2B content marketing videos create conversations
  • How to condense your product information and marketing messages Into a two-minute
  • (or less) video
  • Why I don’t like storyboards for B2B videos

What Was Wrong with This Content?

You see there was no content to drive demand. There was no content to create an unconsidered need and an unexpected urgency and demand for the company’s services. You see, the company was only basing their content on what customers were saying what their needs were. So, they were responding to those known needs with commodity messaging that were very much like the information their competitors were providing. They weren’t showing prospects a pathway to change and giving them the urgency to do it now.

A recent Forrester study shows that 74% of committed executive buyers will invest in the company that is able to create the buying vision and turn it into a path to value. Can you tell me how articles around video production creates the buying vision? It doesn’t!

How the Animated Video Explainer Firm Started to Create the Buying Vision and Demand

In talking with our client, we found out that in many cases their animated explainer videos were just being put on the homepage or product page and used within their tradeshow efforts and that was it. Now as Content Marketing Institute shows, marketers are using at least 13 different content marketing tactics.

So our client needed to put a social content marketing plan in place, where there were articles, podcasts, white papers and webinars on how the videos should be integrated with social media platforms like LinkedIn, webinars (how videos should be used before, during and after the event), email marketing, PR and other marketing initiatives.

The animated explainer video firm literally laid out a road map that shows how the videos should be used within their everyday sales and marketing activities and demonstrated concrete results for clients that were using an integrated approach.

Notice, how the firm is now creating an unexpected need. Their prospects’ minds and budgets may be on a different approach like webinars but now they see exactly how they can get an even greater ROI for the initiatives they are focusing on.

The firm also created a plan to focus on sales enablement and how sales and marketing leaders need to have a new thinking about explainer videos and design them for buying teams that not only involved IT but also operations, finance, sales and marketing and other departments. This content that created a new need led to a completely new revenue stream for our client: Buyer’s Journey Video Bundles.

Cisco invested in the bundle to communicate the business value of their workload automation software to data center operations, to data center architects and to big data specialists – 3 different and unique audiences. Axios invested in the bundle to help IT champion the extension of their popular assist platform and to help other departments like HR, corporate finance department and facilities and security understand how they can automate repetitive tasks and replace high maintenance home-grown solutions with ITIL-compliant cloud solutions. Five9 commissioned the video bundle to target IT operations, COOs, and sales execs within contact center outsourcers. Journey sales used the video bundle to tell sales managers about how their analytic features can help fill the pipeline, tell the sales team how they can use smart rooms to increase engagement and provide a video invitation to customers to show customers how smart rooms benefit their team.

Community Building, Re-Engagement and Lead Nurturing with the Right Social Content Leads to More Revenue Using LinkedIn

Once the animated video firm had the right content they were then able to create a LinkedIn community that was filled with discussions that focused on the unexpected video needs of IT sales, marketing and sales enablement leaders. Because their discussions introduced new ideas their prospects weren’t thinking about and because these discussions led prospects to content that created the buying vision, there was a quick demand for the video firm’s services. In fact, after re-engaging with a former client on LinkedIn, the firm received a video project that generated $38,000 in revenue and it was an opportunity that would have otherwise been missed.

Based on the sales and marketing initiatives that the target companies were engaged in – and on the needs and goals of the target decision makers, the company also began a 1-to-1 nurturing campaign that showed the prospects how they should be using videos. From there, they led prospects to white papers that they can download. They were then able to nurture the prospects on and off LinkedIn. Through an email campaign, prospects were getting our client’s articles that were published on top websites like MarketingProfs (which has 600,000 global members including entire marketing organizations at the world’s largest corporations) and the CMO Council (which has 10,500+ members that control more than $450B in aggregated annual marketing expenditures and run complex, distributed marketing and sales operations worldwide). And, the LinkedIn nurturing campaign focused on issue based content that moves prospects forward.

So our client’s prospects, which included enterprise IT companies like Microsoft and Oracle saw that our client was a thought leader and they realized that they would not just get a video delivered to them. But, they will also get a plan and vision for using those videos in the most effective manner.

Let’s Talk Results….

  • More than 500 sales, marketing and sales enablement leaders from companies like Act On Software, Compuware, ADP, Kapost, BMC, CA Technologies, Flexera and others are part of the firm’s LinkedIn group
  • The firm had sales ready conversations with companies like Microsoft, DynamicWeb, Qubole, Dell, SDL, Serus, Netsertive, EMC, iSupport and many others
  • The firm gained more than $100,000 in additional revenue from new clients from LinkedIn like Deltek, Oracle, Dynatrace, Seeburger, JourneySales, Axios Systems and others
  • The firm gained $65,000 in additional revenue from their Buyers Journey Bundles that we created after the company saw demand for the buyer’s journey content they were creating.

Now, take a look at the content you’re sharing on LinkedIn and other social media platforms? Is your content driving demand and an unexpected urgency?

Maybe it’s time to rethink your social content strategy. To help you, click here to watch our webinar on how to influence buying decisions using LinkedIn and content.

11 Nov 18:03

3-Step Linkedin Secret Sauce To Getting Booked As A Speaker

by Warren Knight

3 step LinkedIn secret sauce to getting booked as a speaker


Having a successful LinkedIn profile does not happen overnight; I know because it has taken me years to achieve a 6-figure income from speaking opportunities coming directly from LinkedIn.

There is a process which can help you achieve more connections, leads and sales from LinkedIn as a speaker and I am going to share this with you today. If you want to take that next step, and become a real success as a speaker on LinkedIn then keep on reading for my secret “sauce” to winning business as a speaker.


The first part of your LinkedIn “sauce” may seem obvious, but you do need to build a niche network of targeted business connections. The reason I am telling you this is because of LinkedIn’s news feed algorithm.

Did you know that when you “like” a post on LinkedIn your network will be notified, and vice versa? I have over 22,000 connections all in different niche areas of business, which means that more of my connections will engage with me on LinkedIn because they are seeing their connections doing the same.

It’s simple really; the bigger the network you have, the more people will see your updates, and engage with you.

I do want to add that connecting with “anyone and everyone” will not work; only connect with people who you know or want to know professionally.


I will talk about LinkedIn Pulse as the next “sauce ingredient” but before then, I want to talk about posting updates. It can be very difficult to measure the type of content you should be sharing as an update.

If I have a new blog, I share this five times on Twitter and I do this to give me an idea of the type of content that gets engagement. The content I write is both suitable for Twitter and LinkedIn because it is educational, and informative. Knowing what works on Twitter helps me understand what I might get the most engagement from on LinkedIn.

It is a survival of the fittest and sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Find out the topics that DO work inside of LinkedIn to reach a high amount of engagement.


LinkedIn Pulse has been, without a doubt the most successful LinkedIn feature for me, especially this year. I now have over 12,000 people following my LinkedIn Pulse and have had hundreds of thousands of views on my posts.

More than a million LinkedIn users have been posting on Pulse, with over 130,000 posts being published every week.

One of the best ways you can utilise Pulse is to get featured on their channel. To make this a possibility, use your keywords in the title of the blog, and in the content. You can also reach out to them on twitter via @LinkedInPulse and ask them to feature your content in a specific category.

This however, isn’t always enough. This is just one network. Utilise your other social networks with the link to read more being directed to your article on Pulse as a biggest factor when LinkedIn are featuring posts is based on traffic, and engagement in the first few hours of setting that content live.

These are the three key factors to my LinkedIn secret sauce. There is of course, a lot of basics like completing your profile, having a professional image and having recommendations and endorsements that contribute to winning business as a speaker.

Likes + Engagement + Content = A large LinkedIn network that drives sales.


Want to generate 3 leads in 7 days at ZERO cost?

I will be running a LIVE and FREE 1 hour certified webinar on 15th November at 7pm and it will take you through his 6 step checklist to generate 3 hot leads over the next 7 days using LinkedIn without SPENDING A PENNY.


  • My Six step formula to building your profile and generating leads
  • Build your LinkedIn network with 500 QUALITY business connections
  • Generate 1 Lead Per Day
  • How to find potential customers using LinkedIn’s search functionality
  • Get to the top of LinkedIn for your specific keywords in less than 60 seconds
  • Utilise all of LinkedIn’s features to put you one step ahead of your competition
  • How to share targeted and relevant industry information
  • Learn 3 SECRET LinkedIn features you didn’t know about
  • The Do’s, and don’ts of your profile image
  • Design and implement a networking strategy for success

All I ask for is 60 minutes of your time so I can help you master LinkedIn to grow your business, and be a success on LinkedIn. You can sign up for this webinar here.

11 Nov 18:01

Here's why India's fintech sector could boom

by BI Intelligence

Indian FintechThis story was delivered to BI Intelligence "Fintech Briefing" subscribers. To learn more and subscribe, please click here.

India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, announced on Tuesday that existing R500 ($7.5) and R1,000 ($15) banknotes would no longer be legal tender from November 9, with airports, railway stations, and hospitals only accepting them until November 11.

The government made the surprise move in a bid to combat "black money," or currency that is unaccounted for, and counterfeit currency. Consumers have until December 30 to exchange their R500 notes for new editions with enhanced security features, while limited numbers of new R2,000 ($30) notes have been issued. A replacement R1,000 note will be introduced in "due course," according to a government official. 

Here's how the government's move could benefit the fintech sector: 

  • Limited availability of cash will drive people to digital alternatives. The government is restricting the number of notes a consumer can exchange to R4,000 ($60). There are also restrictions on ATM withdrawals, and huge queues have already formed outside of post offices and banks, according to the BBC. This means people may not be able to retrieve the new cash they need before official businesses stop accepting the old bills, which could force them to turn to other methods of payments they have not previously considered, including mobile wallets and P2P solutions. 
  • The unbanked may now have no other options except digital payments. Many segments in India are unbanked, especially drivers, small grocery store (kirana) owners, small retail shop owners, and travel agent businesses, according to Forbes. With a suddenly diminished availability of cash, these segments will be compelled to find alternatives — and many will likely turn to mobile wallets as they are typically easier to acquire than bank accounts with debit cards.  
  • More digital transactions will generate more customer data. This will allow online lending platforms, alt lenders, and other fintechs to make better assessments of potential borrowers' creditworthiness. As a consequence, availability of credit from these fintechs may increase.  

A boost to the fintech sector could help another government policy succeed. The Indian government has been promoting digital finance for some time. Earlier this year, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) launched United Payments Interface (UPI), a tool that allows users to access multiple bank accounts and merchant payments within a single mobile app. The government is keen on a transition to a cashless economy because it could be cheaper to run, help reduce the underbanked population, and reduce financial crime as electronic payments are easier to track. Growth of the fintech industry, and increased use of fintech products, will only further drive the move toward a cashless economy. 

We’ve entered the most profound era of change for financial services companies since the 1970s brought us index mutual funds, discount brokers and ATMs.

No firm is immune from the coming disruption and every company must have a strategy to harness the powerful advantages of the new fintech revolution.

The battle already underway will create surprising winners and stunned losers among some of the most powerful names in the financial world: The most contentious conflicts (and partnerships) will be between startups that are completely reengineering decades-old practices, traditional power players who are furiously trying to adapt with their own innovations, and total disruption of established technology & processes:

  • Traditional Retail Banks vs. Online-Only Banks: Traditional retail banks provide a valuable service, but online-only banks can offer many of the same services with higher rates and lower fees

  • Traditional Lenders vs. Peer-to-Peer Marketplaces: P2P lending marketplaces are growing much faster than traditional lenders—only time will tell if the banks strategy of creating their own small loan networks will be successful

  • Traditional Asset Managers vs. Robo-Advisors: Robo-advisors like Betterment offer lower fees, lower minimums and solid returns to investors, but the much larger traditional asset managers are creating their own robo-products while providing the kind of handholding that high net worth clients are willing to pay handsomely for.

As you can see, this very fluid environment is creating winners and losers before your eyes…and it’s also creating the potential for new cost savings or growth opportunities for both you and your company.

After months of researching and reporting this important trend, Sarah Kocianski, senior research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has put together an essential report on the fintech ecosystem that explains the new landscape, identifies the ripest areas for disruption, and highlights the some of the most exciting new companies. These new players have the potential to become the next Visa, Paypal or Charles Schwab because they have the potential to transform important areas of the financial services industry like:

  • Retail banking

  • Lending and Financing

  • Payments and Transfers
Wealth and Asset Management

  • Markets and Exchanges

  • Insurance

  • Blockchain Transactions

If you work in any of these sectors, it’s important for you to understand how the fintech revolution will change your business and possibly even your career. And if you’re employed in any part of the digital economy, you’ll want to know how you can exploit these new technologies to make your employer more efficient, flexible and profitable.

Among the big picture insights you'll get from The Fintech Ecosystem Report: Measuring the effects of technology on the entire financial services industry:

  • Fintech investment continues to grow. After landing at $19 billion in total in 2015, global fintech funding had already reached $15 billion by mid-August 2016.
  • The areas of fintech attracting media and investor attention are changing. Insurtech, robo-advisors, and digital-only banks are only a few of the segments making waves. B2B fintechs are also playing an increasingly prominent role in the ecosystem. 
  • It's not all good news for fintechs. Major hurdles, including customer acquisition and profitability, remain. As a result, many are becoming more willing to enter partnerships and adjust their business models. 
  • Incumbents are enacting strategies to ensure they remain relevant. Many financial firms have woken up to the threat posed by fintechs and are implementing innovation strategies to stave off disruption. The majority of these strategies involve some interaction with fintech firms. 
  • The relationship between incumbents and fintechs continues to evolve. Fintechs are no longer viewed exclusively as a threat, nor can they be ignored. They are increasingly viewed as partners, but that narrative alone is too simple — in reality, a more nuanced connection is taking hold. 

This exclusive report also:

  • Assesses the state of the fintech industry. 
  • Gives details on the drivers of its growth. 
  • Explains which areas of fintech are gaining traction. 
  • Outlines the range of current and potential models for fintech and incumbent interaction. 

The Fintech Ecosystem Report: Measuring the effects of technology on the entire financial services industry is how you get the full story on the fintech revolution.

To get your copy of this invaluable guide to the fintech revolution, choose one of these options:

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11 Nov 17:38

Should You Match Your Competitor’s Price?

by Zach Heller

The threat of competition is one that drives business to act erratically at times. We fear that our competitors are working on a product that’s much better than ours. Or that they will offer theirs at a lower price. Or that new competitors are out there waiting to pick us off. Or that they’re stealing our secrets without us knowing.

So we safeguard, and we experiment, and we test. These are all good, healthy effects of a competitive marketplace.

But one question seems to come up again and again when I talk to marketers and small business owners in these kinds of competitive environments. Should I match my competitor’s price?

Chances are your company is not the cheapest. Few are. And so you may have asked this question of yourself or your colleagues at one point.

The answer is, as is often the case, it depends.

One reason this question does not have a straight answer is because it originates from a false understanding of price. In very few industries, price is all that matters. For the most part, consumers are interested in more than just price.

Consumers are looking for the best value. Value incorporates price, but it also includes benefits. Think of it this way:

Value = Benefits – Cost

To increase value you have two levers. You can lower cost. Or you can increase benefits.

If your products carry benefits over and above those of your competitor who is charging a lower price, you can justify the higher price. In fact, lowering your price might hurt you by masking the value that you are providing to customers.

So let’s get back to the question: Should you match your competitor’s price?

The answer is yes, only if you can’t beat them on value. If you’re offering the exact same thing they are at a higher price point, you can’t win.

11 Nov 17:38

The Evolution of Sales Intelligence

by Rachel Serpa


The picture above features a mainframe computer from the 1960s. Yet despite its sheer size and the two people shown operating it, we can now wear more data processing power on our wrists (hello, Apple Watch) than exists in this photo.

Data and our ability to make sense of it has grown rapidly, particularly in the last few years – into a $122 billion market, to be exact. Yet while marketing has been busy visualizing data and crunching numbers with mere clicks for what feels like ages, sales seems to have been stuck in Excel hell until just recently.

And now, the next generation of sales intelligence is upon us. We’re about to take a stroll through the evolution of sales intelligence and see that, while each generation has an important place in the sales organization, they have all culminated to the quintessential holy grail of sales intelligence: prescriptive insights.

Descriptive Data

The first step to transforming data into a useful sales tool involved simply making it easy for teams to get answers to everyday questions without having to rely on IT or spend hours crunching numbers in Excel. This type of sales intelligence essentially describes what is happening in your business at a given time in response to a particular query. In other words, think of descriptive intelligence as organized outputs of very specific inputs.

Questions that can be answered by descriptive sales intelligence solutions include:

As time has gone on, the answers to these queries have grown increasingly granular, and their presentation has become far more visual. Think Tableau or Domo. But while descriptive information is 100% essential for sales teams to have, it is fairly one-dimensional in that it only allows you to look behind you at where you’ve been, but offers no insight as to where you may be going. Enter predictive analytics.

Predictive Analytics

As the name implies, predictive analytics anticipate what will happen in the future. This is made possible by artificial intelligence (AI) as well as an understanding of the events, activities and outcomes of the past. Predictive analytics take many forms, but for the sake of this blog we will take a closer look at three of the most popular.


Email sentiment: Using natural language processing, predictive sales platforms can detect whether or not an email that you’ve received contains any negative sentiment, signaling that the deal may be in jeopardy. Examples of words or phrases that may trigger negative sentiment alerts include “unhappy,” “need to speak right away,” “disappointed,” etc.

Lead scoring: By isolating the key qualities of your best prospects and customers, as well as identifying common traits shared by high-value businesses, predictive lead scoring assigns a numerical value to each of these signals – industry, title, number of employees, etc. The higher the score, the more likely the lead is to eventually convert.

Forecasting: Forecasting tools estimate the win likelihoods and close dates of your deals based on your previous wins and performance patterns. Using this and other key information, they can then calculate the probability of winning deals to predict expected revenue and help you create more accurate sales forecasts.

Examples of platforms that provide predictive analytics include Oracle Advanced Analytics, Salesforce Einstein and Base’s very own All-in-One Sales Platform. Predictive sales intelligence is extremely valuable, with high-performance sales organizations claiming to be 4x more likely to use predictive analytics than underperformers. However, it’s important to note that these predictions are formulated based on information that is already known, either within the technology itself or within existing business patterns. This means that, while predictive analytics can tell you what might happen, it cannot tell you how to correct course if you are unhappy with your “fortune.”

Prescriptive Insights

Finally, the latest and greatest generation of sales intelligence, prescriptive insights, actually prescribes the exact actions that a sales team can take to achieve a desired outcome. Unlike descriptive data, it can look beyond the situation at hand and analyze potential future scenarios; unlike predictive analytics, it does not have to rely on pre-existing patterns or performance outcomes to make assumptions about the future.

Rather, scientific sales solutions like Base Apollo have the power to dynamically codify and analyze millions of data points at once to isolate the key dimensions impacting your sales performance. These dimensions range from lead source, to rep activity, to stage duration and more. Identifying and isolating these factors gives way to actionable recommendations as to the specific levers that your team can pull to achieve results.

In other words, prescriptive insights don’t tell you what’s happening or what might happen; they tell you why something is happening and how you can increase sales growth. The chart below illustrates the difference between descriptive, predictive and prescriptive sales intelligence:

Descriptive Data Predictive Analytics Prescriptive Insights

You are 30% away from your sales quota this quarter. Based on your current performance, you will finish the quarter at 5% under quota. If each rep on your team can increase her average contract value by $5K, you will end the quarter at $35K over plan.
Lead A did not convert. Due to Lead B’s industry and lead source, there is a 65% chance that it will convert. To increase your average deal size by $10K, focus on leads that come from paid search and have at least 500 employees.
Your team’s time-to-first-action is 30 minutes. Considering your current lead flow, if your team’s average time-to-first-action is 30 minutes, you will be able to follow up with 112 new leads per day. Reduce your team’s time-to-first-action from an average of 33 minutes to 17 minutes to generate $150K more per quarter.

The Science of Sales

Sales intelligence has come a long way since the days of the 1960s supercomputer. And while descriptive and predictive sales intelligence undoubtedly have their place and purpose within the modern day sales organization, the future lies within prescriptive sales insights. If you’d like to learn more about how to achieve actionable, prescriptive sales intelligence, download this free white paper: Why Your Business Needs the Science of Sales.

11 Nov 17:37

Recruitment Marketing and the Power of Storytelling

by Sunil Bagai

recruitment-marketing-storytelling.jpgFall is in full swing, and that means holidays filled with rich heritage and storytelling. On October 30, India celebrated Diwali. During these festivities, the retelling of mythical tales plays a critical part in the events. Stories become introspective metaphors that compel people to resist darkness and focus inward on good deeds. Right after that, millions enjoyed the spooky tales of eerie Halloween nights. Now that November has dawned, Mexico will observe its colorful Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, holiday. Around the country, people create homemade altars and gather at cemeteries to commune with departed ancestors. Our societies, regardless of culture or location, have flourished as a result of stories. History itself is a system of tales — chronicles of events, parables, myths and beliefs told to localized groups of people who then venture to spread them through an evolving process of oral, written and digital media. Stories capture our imaginations. And for that reason, compelling stories have great power in driving recruitment marketing efforts. Let’s see how contingent workforce leaders can fuel their hiring in this autumnal season of tales.

The Power of Compelling Stories

One of the most fabled Halloween tales in American history is Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” What some may not realize, however, is that Sleepy Hollow is a real locale. Birthplace of Caitlyn Jenner. Home to Irving’s remains. Up until 1996, North Tarrytown was a quiet industrial village just north of New York. That year, General Motors shuttered its Hudson River factory, leaving 4,000 locals without work and the town stripped of its primary source of tax revenue.

So what did the village do? It officially rebranded itself as Sleepy Hollow and capitalized on the power of storytelling. The image of the Headless Horseman now haunts the town for real. It’s everywhere. In fact, Sleepy Hollow’s spooky fall festivities have made it a thriving tourist destination.

As Forbes’ Henry DeVries wrote of Jeremy Hsu’s intriguing 2008 Scientific American article, a good yarn holds tremendous sway and influence: “Storytelling is a human universal, and common themes appear in tales throughout history and all over the world. The greatest stories — those retold through generations and translated into other languages — do more than simply present a believable picture. These tales captivate their audience, whose emotions can be inextricably tied to those of the story’s characters.”

Shortly after Hsu’s piece was published, marketing researchers at Vanderbilt University discovered that test audiences in an advertising study responded more favorably to ads conveyed in a narrative format rather than just those listing the comparative benefits of a product or service. “Studies such as these,” DeVries observed, “suggest people accept ideas more readily when their minds are in story mode as opposed to when they are in an analytical mind-set.”

It’s true, data now drives the focus of organizational leaders in the staffing industry. We concentrate on metrics, key performance indicators, Big Data and people analytics. And that information is instrumental behind the scenes. Our recruiting strategies, however, must still sell our client’s employment brand. It’s not enough to provide candidates with compensation figures, numbers about the company’s growth or competitive rankings. We have to engage them, entice them and inspire them. That means detailing corporate culture, opportunity, vision, mission and development. In short, our success often hinges on our ability to tell a captivating story.

Your Recruitment Marketing Story in Three Acts

Contingent workforce leaders don’t need to head back to school and study up on the elements of fiction or the complex mechanics of literary analysis. Stories that resonate come from the heart and speak to the motivations and aspirations of an intended audience. Anyone can spin a majestic yarn by following three fundamental rules for constructing a good plot.

In mythologist Joseph Campbell’s groundbreaking 1949 work The Hero with a Thousand Faces, he introduced us to the concept of the monomyth — the hero’s journey. It’s the very template on which most great tales are based. To summarize, using Campbell’s own words: “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

Our stories to candidates can easily conform to these ideals. There’s a villain, a hero and a mentor. There’s a journey that must take place across paths fraught with obstacles. There’s a wise and experienced leader to help guide the young hero. There are magnificent opportunities that await, which can better the situation of every stakeholder at the successful conclusion of the adventure. This is the employment story for candidates — their heroic journey. And because contingent talent are usually brought aboard to tackle projects or conquer specific challenges, the concept of a quest seems fitting.

The Villain

In this instance, the villain isn’t an individual or supernatural presence. It’s a situation, an obstacle, a greater problem that must be overcome. Introduce your prospective hero to the client’s villain. It could take the form of skills deficits, stalled innovation, a lack of diversity, the status quo, the need for fresh perspectives, an aggressive competitor or other obstacles on the road to progress.

Paint a vivid portrait of the issues facing the client and the rewards to be gained by solving them. Give your talent something to champion, a shared mission they can rally behind as vital contributors who will learn new skills and refine their abilities along the way.

The Mentor

Every memorable hero’s tale involves a mentor. This role belongs to a learned and experienced veteran who will provide guidance, inspiration, training and direction. The Hobbits had Gandalf, who himself relied on the insights of Galadriel, a mighty elven queen. King Arthur sought counsel from the wizard Merlin. Buffy the Vampire Slayer learned from Giles. Luke Skywalker became the most powerful Jedi thanks to the lessons bestowed on him by Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Contingent workforce leaders are ideal mentors. They possess the tools, the acumen, the experience and the people skills to fit top talent to highly engaging assignments. They are not gatekeepers hoarding information, or dictators pushing down orders to the frontlines. They lead with empathy. They serve as advocates, mentors, facilitators and negotiators. They give talent a voice and lend talent an ear:

  • Exceptional contingent workforce program leaders take a genuine interest in the personal and professional aspirations of their people, and help steer them toward paths that lead to attaining those goals.
  • They recognize the efforts, contributions and achievements of their talent or staffing partners.
  • They schedule time to meet and talk with crucial stakeholders: hiring managers, contingent talent and staffing partners
  • They have meaningful interactions — they ask open-ended questions about projects, challenges, ideas and recommendations — and they actively listen to responses.

Other team members who are already working the job on behalf of the staffing partner are equally strong sources of knowledge, comfort and creating welcoming climates for their new colleagues.

At Crowdstaffing, we listen to our workers and provide feedback about their performance, areas for continuous improvement, and offer mentoring from qualified internal coaches with related skills and experiences. This is a practice that translates well to the onboarding experience. Bringing in peers with experience at the client organization and knowledge of the MSP creates a safe and supportive coaching outlet where new workers can ask all their questions upfront, without worrying about the reception.

The Heroes

Your top candidates don’t want to battle villains alone. Show them the strength of the team members who will support them through the quest. Think of the rebels in Star Wars, Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Rings, the crew of the Starship Enterprise and the band of friends who worked alongside Buffy to slay all those undead monsters. Victories are achieved by teams of heroes.

Also consider how diverse those teams tend to be. In the stories we cherish, we often find that our valiant groups include a broad swath of society — members who represent different genders, races, ethnicities, cultures and experiences. Together, their diversity brings greater strength and value to the mission.

The best way to highlight the exceptional workplace culture and employment brand of your clients is to tell the stories of their talent to your new heroes. Even better, encourage a social media campaign — driven by other workers — that allow them to tell their stories directly.

Telling Your Tale

Nearly everyone is familiar with Irving’s 19th century romp through the woods of Sleepy Hollow — an epic chase through the supernatural wilds of the Hudson Valley, where a galloping Hessian ghoul expels a superstitious, supercilious and opportunistic schoolmaster from the quaint community he’s attempting to exploit. Although the story makes clear that a local rowdy in disguise did the deed, the ghostly legend endures because everyone loves a good tale.

It’s the same reason we cling to old myths, comic books, space operas, fables and folklore. When crafted well, there’s a truth being revealed in these stories that reaches out to us in a more visceral way, without obscuring the real message. It draws us in and inspires us. Why, as children, do we dress up on Halloween as the heroes of stories we love? Because they embody the challenges we want to overcome, the contributions we want to make and the heroes we one day hope to be. For contingent workforce professionals, treat your candidates to a meaningful story during the recruitment process, not just a list of numbers and duties. That’s how contingent workforce heroes rise.

11 Nov 17:37

7 Big Marketing Mistakes Engineers Make (& Why You Need To Avoid Them)

by Scott Lambert

7 Big Marketing Mistake Engineers Make (& Why You Need To Avoid Them)You might say that I have a soft spot, in fact a fascination and high respect for engineers. My three daughters would be rolling their eyes at me right now saying “Yea Dad. A little too much.”

Just let me explain…

I might have had all three of them playing instruments by the 5th grade because I heard somewhere that children who play instruments are better at math and science. Hey, that actually became true and they are good at math. So was I wrong?

I might have also repeatedly sent them links to engineering websites such as “Engineering Girl” or something like that. I guess I was secretly hoping that these subtle hints would slowly infiltrate their subconscious until one day they woke up and said, “I think I want to be an engineer. That’s so unexpected…”

No? It doesn’t work like that?

Well shockingly one of my daughters did become an engineer, probably because all of my tactics actually worked, but who’s keeping score? She was actually the one I least expected would enjoy math or science. Until her Sophomore year of college, she showed no signs of hope to cross over to the engineering side. I mean seriously. When asked, she said that Lunch was her favorite subject in school.

So, one day at dinner when I was visiting her in San Diego, she was telling me her frustrations with the lack of available engineering and construction information online. She was a Construction Manager in the US Navy at the time, and it seemed like she had to jump through hoops to find information relevant to her projects, materials, RFP processes, contractors, mistakes to avoid, etc.

I thought that was strange since it seems that most industries are charging towards the Inbound Marketing methodology to grow their companies online. As a result, you can find almost any information online. In fact, if your company is not publishing content, then it can affect your credibility and brand awareness.

Since engineers are usually at the forefront of innovation, technology and growth, I was baffled when I came to find out through research that almost the entire industry was pretty much left behind when it came to effective online marketing and sales.

I would be lying if I said it didn’t bother or affect me much. I would look at the websites and social media pages of leading engineering firms and let out a sigh of disappointment with what I saw.

So why am I writing this?

I’m rooting for the engineering industry. If I can make even one firm face the reality that they are so far behind in one of the most critical areas a business needs to succeed and grow, then I would be beyond proud of that firm.

Now For The Necessary Evil of Telling the Ugly Truth

Engineers are extremely smart, very analytical and have lead our country and the world through the most fascinating innovations that the mind can deliver. But why is it that engineering companies still struggle with digital marketing?!

Is it because they lack the ability to creatively think outside of the traditional RFP box? Or, are they still hanging on to the outdated, outbound marketing approach, as if the digital world has not evolved in their industry?

This year we were requested to evaluate 10 very accomplished engineering companies from a digital marketing perspective. Honestly, I was a little stunned with what I found.

As a group they appeared to be 5-7 years behind in the most effective digital marketing methodologies, such as Inbound Marketing.

To share my insight with you, here are the 7 most common inbound marketing mistakes we found in the evaluation of these 10 major engineering companies:

1. Weak or Non-Existent Value Propositions

These were all well-accomplished engineering firms to say the least. But it was difficult to find a value proposition on their website that clearly stated what made them different from their competition.

In fact, if you were motivated and stayed on their website long enough, you may eventually determine how they can help you and why you should choose them over their competition. But, within 8 seconds or less, your prospective customers want to know “What can you do for me?” and “Why should I choose you?”

I think that 8 seconds was horribly breached.

Your value proposition needs to be able to quickly and effectively communicate why website visitors should choose you. Your visitor should see your value proposition above the fold on your home page before ever having to scroll or click around.

And you need to continue to have evidence throughout the entire website that supports and gives your value proposition credibility.

To be honest, this is an area that even the most experienced marketers struggle with and often completely miss the mark when it comes to their own website. That’s because it’s sometimes difficult to articulate your own value prop when you are too close to it.

Value propositions are critically important in order to keep your target audience engaged on your website from the first moment they arrive. It is also a key factor in converting them from an anonymous visitor, just trying to do their research, into a known lead or prospect that you can follow up with.

The reasons why so many engineering companies are challenged with effectively communicating a compelling value proposition are because:

  • They have never actually identified a value proposition for their company yet
  • They have not clearly expressed their value proposition
  • They have never tested and measured the effectiveness of their value proposition to know if it is working

2. Weak or Non-Existent Calls-to-Action (CTAs) and Landing Pages

Lets Begin With The CTAs…

CTAs are key to motivating your website visitor into action in order to engage with your company further. CTAs were actually used by 60% of the engineering firms evaluated but they were weak. They mainly consisted of:

  • “read more”
  • “signup”
  • “submit”
  • “download our brochure”

Instead, consider starting your CTAs with much more effective and descriptive verbs, such as:

  • “Get…”
  • “Start…”
  • “Build…”
  • “Join…”
  • “Learn…”
  • “Discover…”

You also want to personalize your CTAs. This includes using words such as:

  • “You”
  • “Your”
  • “Me”
  • “My”

CTAs need to communicate value in the minds of your prospects with words they understand and relate to. And they need to describe what they will get if they click on the link. Don’t make them “submit.” Instead, allow them to “get” or “download” you guide, eBook, or whatever you are giving them.

And More Importantly, Landing Pages…

Even more concerning to me in this evaluation is that none of the engineering firms used landing pages.

The CTA is meant to get your prospective customer’s attention and motivate them to learn more by going to a landing page. The landing page is meant to describe the offer and the benefits they will receive after providing basic information collected by a form, such as the person’s name and email address. The collection of this information gives you to opportunity to market and connect with your prospect.

3. For the Love of Blogs

Only 40% of the evaluated Engineering firms published blog articles. Blog articles are one of the the most effective organic website traffic generators from search engines. The blog articles help rank your website higher in the search engines for the specific key terms your prospects are searching for.

We even found one of the engineering websites prominently promoting their blog on their home page, yet when you clicked to their blog, there were no articles in it!

If you are not going to consistently publish blog articles, don’t bother putting up an empty or outdated blog. This is more harmful to your credibility.

4. Content Was Definitely Not King

None of the engineering companies we evaluated provided educational content offers such as:

  • Guides
  • eBooks
  • Whitepapers
  • Case Studies
  • Checklists
  • Webinars
  • How-To Videos

According to research by, engineers are twice as likely to go to a digital publication or website to gather information than a print publication.

However, engineering firms tend to post pictures of a bridge, road, waterway, building, etc. on their website with only a project name associated with the picture, as if that tells you something of value. A few will describe the project in a little more detail, but they significantly lack key information about their projects that their prospects are searching for as part of their research, education and evaluation process.

Next, there were no whitepapers or case studies to educate their prospects or show their measurements of success in a way that is meaningful for their potential customers. Engineering firms do generate a lot of public relations information in the form of news and press releases, but that is still not educational content.

Even with the high volume of news and press releases generated by these firms, only 20% were optimized for search engines and effectively distributed throughout Google News and other online press release networks. That means that only 20% of the press releases they most likely worked very hard on were actually effective.

5. Websites Are Not Mobile Friendly

We found that only 60% of the engineering websites we evaluated were optimized for mobile devices using responsive design.

Responsive, or mobile-friendly websites, are a big issue for all business websites. In April, 2015 Google announced that it would take into consideration (hint, give preference) in search engine rankings to mobile-friendly websites for searches conducted from mobile devices. And the reality is that over 50% of Google’s searches are from mobile devices.

Since over 50% of all engineers use a mobile device to find and consume engineering content, the engineering firms that do not have their website optimized for mobile devices are in trouble. In fact, over 70% of millennial engineers use a mobile device to access engineering content, based on research by

Rumors are now that Google will soon base all of their search engine results on mobile-friendly websites, even if searched from desktop computers.

Basically, time is running out to get your website mobile-friendly if you care about ranking well in search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.

6. Social Media Usage Dominated by Self-Promotion

Engineering firms lean towards LinkedIn as their preferred social media network. They should in our opinion, since engineering is basically a B2B industry.

However, the social media posts for the firms that we evaluated were all self-promotional and almost entirely linked to their public relations and recruitment departments.

That left very little educational content to help someone seeking and researching their services.

We also saw a divergence in how civil engineers chose to work based upon their age.

For example, 64% of millennial engineers rely on digital media for engineering information. In contrast, only 20% of the senior engineers rely on digital media, preferring more traditional trade or print publications instead.

7. Lack of Marketing and Sales Automation

Only 10% of civil engineering firms we evaluated have implemented marketing and sales automation tools and processes.

Of the firms interviewed, the common reason for not implementing any type of marketing and sales automation seemed to be “this is the way we have always done it.”

Marketing and sales automation tools and processes have proven to be critical for effective marketing across all industries, especially in our 24/7 digital ecosystem. No industry is immune from this digital life that we must be plugged into daily.’s research reveals that:

  • 73% of engineers are seeking information weekly to help them perform better at their job.
  • Most engineers use a search engine like Google, Yahoo or Bing to acquire engineering information.
  • Engineers do not want to speak to sales and marketing representatives until midway or later in their buying journey. Only 20% of engineers are open to talking to a sales person at the beginning of their evaluation process.
  • 55% of engineers want to be contacted only after they have researched online and narrowed down their options.

Marketing and sales automation, with related processes, is key to marketing and selling effectively today and in the future. Engineering firms clinging to the “old-school” way of marketing and developing business will struggle to find continuous success in the new digital era.

The executives and managers of engineering firms need to evolve their marketing practices and methodologies to be more successful now in order to sustain it for the future.

It’s time for engineering companies to seriously reevaluate their marketing efforts to grow their business today.

Inbound Marketing for Engineering and Construction Firms

11 Nov 17:37

Are Your Reps Asking This Question?

by Rachel Clapp Miller

question_mark_sign.jpgWe know a lot of work goes into a sales presentation. For many salespeople, the PowerPoint deck drives the conversation and is the one tool you may leave behind for your prospects to socialize internally.

For all those hours spent on the presentation deck, here’s one critical question to ask your sales reps that will drive success in those prospect conversations:

Is this deck focused on the customer needs?

Think about the majority of your team’s sales presentations. Do they contain the slide that talks all about your company? When your company began, how many employees you have, the number of customers, your locations all over the globe…

Your company may be long-established and have a great history of pleasing customers, but those slides don’t drive an effective sales conversation. Potential customers really don’t care about your financial stability or company culture when they’re trying to solve a problem. They want to know how your solutions can help them achieve their business objectives. Use your sales conversations to highlight how your solutions can help alleviate the specific challenges faced by the customer.

Don’t focus them on your company story, no matter how good it is.

What if a prospect asks about your company?

We aren’t saying avoid the topic at all costs, but it’s important you use that valuable time with a prospect to focus on how you can solve their problems. Our Delivery Partner, Brian Walsh, coaches our salespeople in Command of the Message® training to frame the question in a way that provides value for the prospect.

Instead of answering the question directly, say something like this, “I would love to tell you about our company. However, I want to make sure I do that in a way that provides value for you. Do you mind if I ask you a couple of questions first?”

This technique allows you to do the discovery necessary to have a value-based sales conversation. There’s a time and a place to talk about your company history and other organizations you’ve worked with. However, you should save them for the right time in the buying process.

If you find yourself discussing your company’s financial stability or its leading position in the industry, instead of engaging your customer in a discussion of their needs and requirements; it’s time to retool your approach.

Logos make for nice and colorful PowerPoint slides. Mapping solutions to problems make for signed deals.

11 Nov 17:36

How to Follow-Up with Event-Based Marketing Leads

by Will Humphries

Event-based marketing is a popular strategy to engage new prospects. In the digital age, this personalised approach remains an effective method to create intrigue.

To succeed with this strategy, though, it is important to follow up with new marketing leads after meeting them at an event.

The following is a look at some key tips to follow up with business leads after marketing events.

Plan Ahead

The first key to post-event follow-up is to have a plan in place before the event. If you wait until after the event to decide how to follow-up, it is too late.

People expect to hear from you in a timely manner, or they forget about the interaction.

Your plan should include the communication goals, message format, content and sequence for all scheduled post-event executions.

Load Your Database

Your data collection actions during the event have a lot of value as well. You need to load up your database with as much detail as you can gather about prospects.

Depending on the traffic at the event, you may not have time to capture much more than a name, number and address.

Paper forms, QR codes, interactive surveys and kiosk forms are among the approaches used to gather prospect data at events.

Start Immediately

Begin your event-based follow-up right away. You could even start with an automated email message after capture, or with a social message on LinkedIn or Twitter.

This immediate message reinforces that you valued meeting the prospect. It also allows for rapid digital connection.

Offer a free gift to help ensure that the contact pays attention to your initial follow-up message. Perhaps the prospect can click on a link in your social message or email, fill out a more involved questionnaire, and receive the prize.

Establish Objectives and Formats

Two key aspects of effective follow-up messages with marketing leads are clear objectives and appropriate formats.

Common post-event message objectives include: delivering more in-depth information, driving the prospect to your website and arranging an in-person visit.

Your goals likely dictate which format or formats you communicate with. If the goal is to quickly engage in a sales introduction, your follow-up may include a sales contact.

Often, though, you send direct mail pieces or email messages that further establish the connection. These approaches allow you to direct the contact to your website for more information and solution landing pages.

From there, you can continue the conversation with a sales call.

follow up with marketing leads
Wrap Up

Successful event-based follow-ups with marketing leads are driven by effective planning, data collection, message objectives, timing and formatting.

Map out your intent and strategy to turn the event prospect into a more engaged buyer or a qualified sales lead.

11 Nov 17:35

Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics, and Pure Social Selling Nonsense

by Anthony Iannarino

Yesterday the article’s headline read, 84 percent of B2B Sales Start with a Referral — Not a Salesperson. Today the headline has been changed to read How B2B Sales Can Benefit from Social Selling.

The text is the same, “Outbound B2B sales are becoming less and less effective. . . . Meanwhile, 84 percent of B2B buyers are now starting the purchase process with a referral, and peer recommendations are influencing more than 90 percent of all B2B buying decisions.”


Enter, Reality

Pull up your pipeline of opportunities right now. Look at the name of the company for the first opportunity on your report. Was that opportunity generated by a referral? What about the next opportunity? If the first two weren’t referrals, then statistically speaking, the next eight opportunities were generated that way.

Wait? What is this you say? None of those opportunities were generated by referral? Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Think of all the salespeople you know. How many of them have a pipeline with 84 percent of the opportunities generated by referral? How many have a pipeline with 10 percent of their opportunities generated by referral, for that matter? For most salespeople, 10 percent would be far better than they have now, and more than many of their peers.

The reality is that very few opportunities are generated by a referral. In fact, most salespeople don’t ask for them, and even fewer buyers go out of their way to refer their suppliers to their peers.

A Lie Repeated Long Enough

The problem with lies is that if they are repeated often enough, they eventually begin to sound like the truth. You’ll likely see a slide with this 84 percent statistic at a sales conference in the next year, with this HBR article cited as its source.

No doubt you’ll hear that social selling is what generates enough referrals that you should no longer use any other method to prospect and create opportunities, least of all cold calling.

The fact that this may very well become the newest in a long line of bunk will not make it true. Nor will it make it useful.

Poor Social

Poor social selling again takes a beating. Drivel like this over promises and under delivers.

For social selling to be a useful toolkit for salespeople, it doesn’t have to create a pipeline that is made up of 84 percent referrals. It doesn’t have to exclude all other methods of prospecting. Worse still, because so many ridiculous statistics are bandied around as if they are truth, they are all now suspect.

If you want to build a pipeline of referrals, call your best clients and ask them to refer you to someone they know who would benefit from the same value you created for them. If you want to use social as part of this process, go to LinkedIn and see who they know before you make the call.

The post Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics, and Pure Social Selling Nonsense appeared first on The Sales Blog.

11 Nov 17:11

9 incredibly successful companies founded by military veterans

by Paul Szoldra

sam walton

  • Some of the world's most recognized companies have founders who served overseas. 
  • The companies include retail giant Walmart, whose founder Sam Walton served as an Army captain.
  • Here are other successful businessmen with roots in the military.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

It should be no surprise that skills learned in the military such as decision-making under pressure, organization, and leadership translate well to the corporate boardroom. 

People like FedEx CEO Fred Smith or Walmart founder Sam Walton have become household names for their business success. Less known is their service prior to founding major companies.

After World War II, nearly 50% of veterans went the entrepreneurship route, though that number has substantially declined today. Still, there are currently around 2.5 million majority-veteran-owned businesses.

Here are nice companies started by military veterans.

Paul Szoldra wrote a previous version of this article.

SEE ALSO: This man built a cutting-edge stealth boat for the US Navy. Then the government tried to put him out of business.

Real-estate giant RE/MAX was cofounded by Air Force veteran Dave Liniger.

Prior to founding "Real Estate Maximums" — better known as RE/MAX— Dave Liniger served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War.

From 1965 to 1971, he served as an enlisted airman in Texas, Arizona, Vietnam, and Thailand, according to his LinkedIn.

"The military really gave me the chance to grow up. It was fun. I thought it was a fabulous place," he told Airport Journals. "It also taught me self-discipline and a sense of responsibility."

After he got out of the military, he started flipping houses for profit, and eventually got his real-estate license. He cofounded RE/MAX with his wife Gail in 1973.

Sperry Shoes was founded by Navy veteran Paul A. Sperry.

You can thank a former sailor in the US Naval Reserve for inventing the world's first boat shoe.

In 1917, Sperry joined the Navy Reserve, though he didn't stay very long. He was released from duty at the end of the year at the rank of Seaman First Class. 

Still, his experience there and further adventures sailing led to the founding of his company, which eventually created the first non-slip boating shoe. He founded Sperry in 1935.

During World War II, the Navy purchased Sperry Top-Sider shoes by the boatload. Nearly a century later, they are still a favorite of sailors everywhere.

FedEx was founded by Marine Corps veteran Fred Smith.

Back before FedEx was the behemoth logistics company it is today, founder Fred Smith was observing how the military was getting things from point A to point B.

After graduating from Yale University, he was commissioned as a Marine Corps officer and served two tours in Vietnam. He earned a Bronze Star, Silver Star, and two Purple Hearts, according to US News.

Only two years after he left the Corps, he started Federal Express.

"Much of our success reflects what I learned as a Marine," he wrote for "The basic principles of leading people are the bedrock of the Corps. I can still recite them from memory, and they are firmly embedded in the FedEx culture."

Walmart was cofounded by Army veteran Sam Walton.

Walmart is the largest retail company in the world.

It was founded by a former Army intelligence officer named Sam Walton. From 1942 to 1945, Walton was in the Army and eventually rose to the rank of captain. His brother (and cofounder) Bud served as a bomber pilot for the Navy in the Pacific.

According to the company's history, Sam Walton's first Walmart store, called Walton's Five and Dime, was started with $5,000 he saved from his time serving in the Army and a $25,000 loan from his father-in-law. Walton passed away in 1992.

Web-hosting company GoDaddy was founded by Marine Corps veteran Bob Parsons.

The company responsible for registering a large portion of the world's web domains, GoDaddy, is the brainchild of Marine veteran Bob Parsons.

Parsons enlisted in the Corps in 1968 and later served in Vietnam, where he earned a Combat Action Ribbbon, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and the Purple Heart for wounds he received in combat.

"I absolutely would not be where I am today without the experiences I had in the Marine Corps," he writes on his website.

In 1997, he started GoDaddy. In 2014, it filed for a $100 million IPO. He left the company around that time to focus on his philanthropic efforts.

WeWork was founded by Israeli navy veteran Adam Neumann.

Coworking company WeWork's CEO Adam Neumann served in the Israeli navy.

Adam Neumann started a coworking office space for entrepreneurs in New York City back in 2011. Today, the company has 466,000 members across 28 countries, and it is valued at $47 billion.

Born in Tel Aviv, Israel, Neumann served as a navy officer there for five years before moving to the US in 2001.

Taboola was founded by Israeli army veteran Adam Singolda.

Another veteran of the Israel Defense Forces is Adam Singolda, the founder of content-recommendation engine Taboola.

Like many other successful Israeli entrepreneurs who served in the IDF (military service is mandatory in Israel), Singolda developed many of the skills that would help his company later on in the military intelligence field.

He ended up serving for seven years as an officer with the elite Unit 8200, the Israeli military's version of the NSA.

He started Taboola back in 2007, and you've probably seen his work under the many millions of articles that feature "Content You May Like." The company projected over $1 billion in revenue as well as profitability in 2018.

Kinder Morgan, a North America energy infrastructure company, was cofounded by Army veteran Richard Kinder.

Vietnam veteran Richard Kinder cofounded one of the largest energy companies in North America, Kinder Morgan. Along with his business partner, William Morgan, he started the company in 1997.

He earned his law degree at the University of Missouri before serving in Vietnam as a US Army captain. He was in uniform for four years as a Judge Advocate General officer (aka a military lawyer).

USAA was founded by a group of Army officers.

It may not be a huge surprise that USAA — a company that exclusively caters to military veterans and their families — was started by veterans.

Interestingly, though, it doesn't have just one founder: It has 25.

Back in the 1920s, it was pretty hard for military service members to get (or keep) auto insurance, since it was either way too expensive or likely to get canceled because they moved around so much.

That's why Maj. William Henry Garrison and 24 of his fellow Army officers got together in 1922 to form their own mutual company to insure themselves, according to Today, the United Services Automobile Association provides insurance, banking, and investment services to 12.4 million members.

Disclosure: Former Business Insider editor Paul Szoldra has USAA insurance and use its banking services.

11 Nov 17:10

Vibrant mesh ceiling art installations

by Andrea James


SOFTlab creates handmade mesh sculptures that appear to melt and flow from ceilings, down stairwells, and from vaulted lobbies. Their most recent, Ventricle, evokes the human heart. (more…)
11 Nov 17:09

Geodesic art installation explores themes of particle physics

by Andrea James

Istanbul-based Ouchhh created AVA, a geodesic surface installation that serves as a convex screen for physics-inspired moving images. The stark black-and-white pulsing forms look especially impressive with one lone spectator in silhouette against AVA. (more…)

11 Nov 17:08

The 3 Layers of Sales Questions, and How to Use Them

by (David Hoffeld)


In sales, there are three distinct “layers” or “levels” of questions you can ask. Each level is built on the previous one, and together will guide you in creating dynamic follow-up questions.

Asking layered questions is a straightforward process. In this post, I'll explain each level and provide an example of how they can be used in conjunction with one another.

First-Level Sales Questions

First-level questions are preliminary questions that open up a topic by revealing thoughts, facts, behaviors, and situations. They are used to gain a basic understanding of a subject, so they’re the best questions to use when beginning conversations with buyers. Furthermore, they are imperative to the success of a sale because they unveil the initial layer of a topic and allow you to dive deeper into it.

This brings up an important point about first-level questions: they are necessary, but not enough. They must be used in combination with the other levels of questions that allow you to identify the beliefs that sustain and direct a buyer’s perspective or behaviors.

Nevertheless, I have found that the majority of salespeople I meet predominantly ask first-level questions. Since these questions expose only rudimentary information, they do not give them a thorough understanding of their buyers, which will limit their ability to customize the sales process for those buyers. This will hinder sales, since any time the sale ceases to be focused on the buyer, sales effectiveness will also wane.

Most likely you already have numerous first-level questions that you use when selling. But just in case you could use more, here are some examples:

  • When will you migrate to the new software?
  • What percentage of market share do you currently have?
  • What are the requirements you have established for this project?
  • What is your process for deciding which vendor you will choose?
  • What is your budget for this project?
  • How many other providers are you considering?
  • What are your current assembly capabilities?
  • When your organization considers an investment like this, who is involved in the decision process?

Second-Level Sales Questions

Once you ask a first-level question, how do you advance to the next layer of information? You ask second-level questions, of course. I have discovered that these questions are what top salespeople ask more than any other. In fact, they are the key to asking powerful follow-up questions.

Second-level questions guide buyers in assessing and explaining first-level responses. These questions are vital because they prompt prospective customers to think through a thought, fact, behavior, or situation.

These powerful questions have been analyzed in a series of recent scientific studies. For instance, when researchers from Stanford University studied the effects of second-level questions, which they termed "elaboration questions," they found that the questions aided participants in understanding others’ viewpoints. Furthermore, the questions also prompted participants to be more receptive to someone else’s ideas, even if those ideas were contrary to their own. Other studies discovered that second-level questions help the brain process a persuasive message and even cause the presenter of the message to seem more influential.

But perhaps the most intriguing research on second-level questions occurred at Harvard University, when researchers utilized functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify how disclosing information impacts the human brain. The study revealed that answering second-level questions, which prompted participants to state their opinions, increased neural activity in the areas of the brain associated with reward and pleasure. These good feelings caused a change in the brain that naturally enhanced the participant’s emotional state. In other words, potential customers enjoy answering second-level questions.

When you begin using second-level questions, you’ll notice that the impact of your questions and the insights they generate are enhanced dramatically. This tier of questions is also linked with heightened levels of sales performance, because they guide you in obtaining an awareness of the perspectives and beliefs that are shaping buyers’ behaviors.

Since these questions are based on how the brain naturally discloses information, formulating them will seem intuitive, and when you practice them, within a short time you will begin asking them with ease. For example, just ask customers to either assess or explain a first-level response.

Here are some samples of second-level questions:

  • Why did the board decide to go in that direction?
  • Would you ever consider investing in a product that did not include this feature?
  • May I ask why you chose that vendor?
  • Is aggregating your data in this manner what you would like to do moving forward?
  • That sounds like it is very important to you. May I ask why?
  • If you could change one thing about the training your end users receive, what would it be?
  • Based on what we have discussed, does it make sense why so many companies are choosing to use our consultants?
  • Why is it important to solve this concern right away?
  • Do you believe that this issue is causing the lack of production you described?

Third-Level Sales Questions

As insightful as second-level questions are, there is still one more level that penetrates even deeper. It is the most consequential of all the levels of questions because it addresses buyers on an emotional level. And when it is leveraged, it will often reveal information that will transform the entire sale.

Third-level questions excavate the final layer of information by guiding potential customers in thinking through and verbally disclosing their dominant buying motives -- the emotional reasons why they would purchase your product or service. They are comprised of two potent behavior stimulators: the desire for gain or the fear of loss.

Regardless of the type of sale, buyers only become willing to purchase a product or service when they believe that doing so will move them closer to what they desire or further from what they fear losing. This is why third-level questions are so powerful: They provide you with an understanding of how potential customers will benefit from investing in your product or service. Armed with this knowledge, you can then clearly show them how your product or service will satisfy their dominant buying motives.

However, that’s not all third-level questions do. As buyers answer them, their feelings of trust toward you will increase. That is, the very process of disclosing their emotional responses will enhance their trust because they feel you understand them. This bond will separate you from your competitors because salespeople buyers trust are also those they will buy from.

Formulating third-level questions involves asking potential clients to reveal something they fear losing or desire to gain. Here are some examples of these potent questions:

  • If we could reduce your costs as we have discussed, how would that positively affect your company’s profitability?
  • If the problem you have described is not resolved, how will it impact your organization’s sales?
  • This seems like a very important issue to you personally. May I ask what it would mean for you and those on your team if this issue is not resolved?
  • If your end users were thoroughly trained and were using this platform effectively, how could that increase company productivity?

Using the 3 Layers of Sales Questions

Here's an example that demonstrates how first-, second-, and third-level questions work together in the context of a real sales scenario:

Salesperson: How efficient is your current equipment? [First-level question]

Buyer: It’s older equipment and not very efficient. In fact, I’ve been tasked with improving that, so any new equipment would need to make a difference in that area.

Salesperson: If you were to invest in the new equipment we’ve discussed, how would that impact efficiency levels? [Second-level question]

Buyer: Based on our conversation today, I would estimate that it should improve efficiency by around 6%.

Salesperson: How would that positively affect the business if efficiencies improved by 6 percent? [Third-level question]

Buyer: Well ... it would be a big deal. It would increase our profitability and help us fund our new growth initiatives.

The insights derived from meaningful questions are an essential part of influence. By embracing the scientifically validated model of first-, second-, and third-level questions, you will be equipped to ask questions that are aligned with how the brain instinctively reveals information. This will guide you in obtaining a full and relevant understanding of your potential customers, which will enable you to adapt your sales presentation to address their needs.

Salespeople who ask effective questions thrive, and likewise do the organizations they represent.

Editor's note: This is an excerpt from the book The Science of Selling and has been published here with permission.

HubSpot CRM

11 Nov 17:07

The latest New Yorker cover gives an ominous glimpse into Trump's presidency

by Michelle Mark

The New Yorker cover for the November 21 issue has been released following President-elect Donald Trump's election win on Tuesday, featuring a colossal brick wall.

The illustration, by Bob Staake, not only provides a sinister glimpse at one of Trump's most infamous campaign promises, but also captures the resounding shock many Americans received Tuesday night after Trump's stunning upset victory.

"When we first received the results of the election, we felt as though we had hit a brick wall, full force," art editor Françoise Mouly wrote on the website.

New Yorker editor-in-chief David Remnick has been a vigorous critic of Trump, and lamented the impact his victory will have on Americans' civil liberties, the Supreme Court, and the newly emboldened Republican-controlled Congress.

"The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the force, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism," he wrote.

new yorker cover

SEE ALSO: The latest New Yorker cover perfectly captures America's election despair

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A model that has correctly predicted the presidential election since 1980 says Clinton will have a landslide victory

11 Nov 17:05

Afghanistan’s running women: The racers who made a statement in the world’s most secret marathon

by Chris Nelson, Special to National Post

For Canada’s Marathon Man, Martin Parnell, it was the best time to record his worst time.

For almost seven long, gruelling hours, he had coaxed, pushed and encouraged a young Afghan woman to complete the 42-kilometre regulation distance that made up the world’s most secret marathon. When the pair crossed the finish line with only eight minutes to spare before the official cutoff time, it was the end of an eye-opening international odyssey for the 60-year-old runner from Cochrane, Alta.

For a man who became famous across Canada by completing 250 marathons in a single year, and has raised more than $1.3 million for the Right To Play international charity, his finishing time was actually the worst he had ever clocked. But the joy on the face of the 25-year-old Afghan woman made such a detail irrelevant.

“There was never a better time to set my worst-ever time,” said Parnell, now back in Alberta after his secretive journey this month.

The second Afghanistan Marathon was staged in Bamiyan, a town of 35,000 about 140 km northwest of the capital, Kabul. Parnell and nine other international runners quietly slipped into the war-torn country two weeks ago to help organize and advise the 60 novice long-distance runners. The Nov. 4 race included five Afghan women who raced alongside the male competitors.

.The race, which took place in Bamiyan, a town about 140 kms northwest of the capital Kabul, was kept super-secret, because last year locals tried to stone a women running in it.

The pre-race secrecy about the timing and location was vital, said Parnell, as the Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan are a constant deadly threat — particularly when women dare to take part alongside men.

“The five local women who took part this year are the new leaders who are stepping outside the norm. They are making a statement by using the marathon as a vehicle to show they are going to do what they need to do and they are not going to be stopped,” said Parnell.

More than a year ago, Parnell himself was almost stopped in his tracks when doctors discovered a blood clot in his brain. It was while recovering from treatment he heard about the inaugural Afghan marathon and how the first female runner to take part — Zainab — had been stoned and called a prostitute while training.

“It was then I made a vow: if I could recover in time, I would run the 2016 Marathon of Afghanistan and support Zainab’s efforts to show that sport is for everyone,” said Parnell.

.Parnell took part to raise money for Right to Play.

He did recover. On Oct. 26, he met up in Kabul with a few other international runners from Britain, the Netherlands and the United States before flying to Bamiyan. They couldn’t drive to the town because the road was often mined.

Bamiyan was chosen specifically because the people who lived there have suffered from Taliban violence and are considered some of the most liberal in the country.

Before the race, Parnell spoke with town elders, asking whether they had concerns about the women running alongside men.

“Many of these older men had big families, some with four or five daughters. They said, ‘No, we want our daughters to get educated, to get on in the world. We want them to run,’ ” he said.

Travelling with Parnell was fellow Albertan, Kate McKenzie, a former teacher from Red Deer, who now works as a filmmaker. She planned to run the 42 km and produce a documentary of the event with a two-man crew from Toronto.

.Martin Parnell, and Kubra.

McKenzie and the other female international runners, along with the five local women, wore the traditional hijab. In total, 70 runners turned up for the 8 a.m. starting gun.

It would be an out and back course on mostly paved roads, reaching the turnaround (halfway) point at a daunting altitude of 2,740 metres. But Parnell’s race plan was set aside before the event even began when he met Kubra, a 25-year-old Afghan woman.

She had tried before to run a long-distance event but had collapsed without finishing. She had also recently lost friends when the Taliban had blown up the university in Kabul where she studied. And when she trained by running through the streets of Kabul, there would be gauntlets of jeering men.

“They would yell names at her and one man got off his bike and tried to push her over. So she took some action and bought a can of purple spray paint and a set of knuckle-dusters — ‘Enough of this I’m going to run,’ she decided. What an attitude,” said Parnell.

By the time of the marathon, Kubra hadn’t completed the necessary training regime. In the days before the race, Parnell tried to persuade her to do a 10-km event instead. The shorter race would take place in Bamiyan at the same time.

“But I thought, here is a young woman who has been dealt a tough hand, losing her friends in the bombing, so I decided then that the purpose of me going there was to help Kubra do this marathon, that if she wants to do a marathon then I’m going to help get her through it.

“The next day I gave a running clinic for the five Afghan women, talking about nutrition, hydration and pacing, and after the clinic I pulled her aside and said, ‘I’m willing to run with you.’ She was over the moon. So in the end I found my purpose — helping this brave, young woman complete her first marathon,” said Parnell.

.Kubra was not able to condition for the marathon but ran the race anyway.

On the morning of the race, the pair lined up at the back of the pack as the racers gathered in chilly 3C weather. It would turn out to be a lovely day for running, cool, in the late fall sunshine. Kubra and Parnell had a strategy: run nine-minute segments interspersed with one-minute walking breaks.

“The first half was uphill, a continuous climb. Then it was all downhill coming back. I’ve never done a marathon quite like it. It was so tough,” he said.

The first three kilometres took them through the town on a dirt track, past burned Russian tanks, reminders of another war the country has endured.

Townsfolk lined the route, calling out. Parnell worried they were yelling insults. His young companion calmed his nerves.

“People along the way were shouting at us, but I didn’t know what they were saying, so I asked Kubra. She said they were just wishing us good luck.”

“Some of the women along the route kept inviting us in for a cup of tea. I don’t think they got the concept that this was a race,” he added.

Some of the women along the route kept inviting us in for a cup of tea. I don’t think they got the concept that this was a race

A few kilometres out of town, they hit the highway and left the excited crowds behind as the quiet slog, ever upward, into the mountains began.

“It was very quiet, except for the occasional car or truck passing. That was always a problem because drivers there are pretty crazy, so you had to be very careful. A stop sign means nothing to them.”

The pair made it to the halfway point in a time of three hours, 36 minutes. Now the downward leg, on the same stretch of highway, would begin. Then, Kubra started suffering from cramps.

“She was in a lot of distress. By the 32-km mark she was pretty well done.

“I kept looking at the clock, hoping we could somehow make it before the seven-hour cutoff for finishing.

“But this woman was tough. She wasn’t going to quit and somehow we did it with eight minutes to spare. She had achieved her goal and she was thrilled.”

The odd couple – a 60-year-old Canadian and a 25-year-old Afghan — woman embraced at the end in triumph. To the locals gathered at the finish line, it was an astonishing sight. But no one complained.

11 Nov 17:03

Hiring Your First Chief AI Officer

by Andrew Ng

A hundred years ago electricity transformed countless industries; 20 years ago the internet did, too. Artificial intelligence is about to do the same. To take advantage, companies need to understand what AI can do and how it relates to their strategies. But how should you organize your leadership team to best prepare for this coming disruption? Follow history.

A hundred years ago, electricity was really complicated. You had to choose between AC and DC power, different voltages, different levels of reliability, pricing, and so on. And it was hard to figure out how to use electricity: Should you focus on building electric lights? Or replace your gas turbine with an electric motor? Thus many companies hired a VP of Electricity to help them organize their efforts and make sure each function within the company was considering electricity for its own purposes or its products. As electricity matured, the role went away.

Recently, with the evolution of IT and the internet, we saw the rise of CIOs to help companies organize their information. As IT matures, it is increasingly becoming the CEO’s role to develop their companies’ internet strategy. Indeed, many S&P 500 companies wish they had developed their internet strategy earlier. Those that did now have an advantage. Five years from now, we will be saying the same about AI strategy.

Insight Center

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

AI is still immature and evolving quickly, so it is unreasonable to expect everyone in the C-suite to understand it completely. But if your industry generates a large amount of data, there is a good chance that AI can be used to transform that data into value. To the majority of companies that have data but lack deep AI knowledge, I recommend hiring a chief AI officer or a VP of AI. (Some chief data officers and forward-thinking CIOs are effectively taking on this role.)

The benefit of a chief AI officer is having someone who can make sure AI gets applied across silos. Most companies have naturally developed siloed functions in order to specialize and become more efficient. For the sake of argument, let’s say your company has a gift card division. There is a reasonable chance that AI could make the selling and processing of gift cards much better. If the team has the expertise to attract and deploy AI talent, by all means let them do so! However, in most cases, that’s unrealistic. Because AI talent is extremely scarce right now, it is unlikely that they will attract top talent to work on gift cards at the division level.

A dedicated AI team has a higher chance of attracting AI talent and maintaining standards than a single gift card division does — and anyway the new talent can be matrixed into the other business units in order to support them. But the dedicated team needs leadership, and I am seeing more companies hire senior AI leaders to build up AI teams across functions.

Hiring the right AI leader can dramatically increases your odds of success, but only if you pick the right person. Here are some traits I recommend you look for in a chief AI officer or a VP of AI, based on my experience in leading and nurturing some of the most successful AI teams at Google, Stanford, and Baidu:

  • Good technical understanding of AI and data infrastructure. For example, they should ideally have built and shipped nontrivial machine learning systems. In the AI era, data infrastructure — how you organize your company’s databases and make sure all the relevant data is stored securely and accessibly — is important, though data infrastructure skills are arguably more common.
  • Ability to work cross-functionally. AI itself is not a product or a business. Rather, it is a foundational technology that can help existing lines of business and create new products or lines of business. The ability to understand and work with diverse business units or functional teams is therefore critical.
  • Strong intrapreneurial skills. AI creates opportunities to build new products, from self-driving cars to speakers you can talk to, that just a few years ago would not have been economical — or might even have been in the realm of science fiction. A leader who can manage intrapreneural initiatives will increase your odds of successfully creating such innovations for your industry.
  • Ability to attract and retain AI talent. This talent is highly sought after. Among new college graduates, I see a clear difference in the salaries of students who specialized in AI. A good chief AI officer needs to know how to retain talent, for instance by emphasizing interesting projects and offering team members the chance to continue to build their skill set.

An effective chief AI officer should have experience managing AI teams. With AI evolving rapidly, they will need to keep up with changes, but it is less important that they be on the bleeding edge of AI (though this helps attract talent). What’s more important is that they can work cross-functionally and have the business skills to figure out how to adapt existing AI tools to your enterprise.

11 Nov 17:02

How to Manage Your Google Search Console Like a Pro

Google Search Console (previously Google Webmaster Tools) allows you to check your website's indexing status and to optimize its visibility for searchers. Here are issues you're like to face and how to deal with them. Read the full article at MarketingProfs
11 Nov 17:01

You Need a Sales System – Not Just Sales Training

by Aaron Ross

Sales leaders look for the edge that helps their team bring in more deals – often turning to the latest training program or best-selling book. And there are times that training is important – like when you’re onboarding a new staff member, going through a major transition, or adding a new tool.

To gain that competitive edge, sales teams need a documented, managed sales system.

A sales system isn’t your CRM or your sales automation tools. It’s not your list building software or your email templates. It is the step-by-step, pre-defined set of interactions that your sales team uses to identify, qualify and convert them, along with the tools they use to make those connections.

A sales system goes beyond the why and how that you learn from training. It creates procedures that your team can follow, taking out the guesswork and makes your process repeatable.

Of course, the importance of a system goes beyond just your sales process. You can leverage the importance of systems across your business (and your life). With your customer service department, train on complaint resolution – and take it further by implementing a case system that allows you to escalate cases and evaluate your performance. Productivity training makes a lasting impact on your team when it’s partnered with a project management or task tracking system that’s effective for your team.

How Sales Systems Help

People forget information quickly. According to the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve, we forget 42% of what we have learned within 20 minutes. Within 31 days – a typical onboarding timeline, we lose 79% of what we learned.

[Image Source]

Consider how much you’re investing in sales training – nearly two-thirds of which is forgotten before your team gets home for the day. It may be time to invest in designing and implementing a sales system to reinforce your best practices.

Tying a system to your training helps you:

  • Identify and measure what you want to accomplish. When documenting your system, build in your key performance metrics, including how you’ll measure them.
  • Identify what is working – and what isn’t. Measurements throughout your system help you leverage your high-value activities that are driving you forward. You can also focus on closing gaps.
  • Leverage the expertise of the people involved. When your team understands and trusts their system, they’re able to use their expertise to improve your systems and help close your customers.
  • Free up time for more important sales leadership activities – like coaching. Leveraging a sales system – not relying on training – allows you to dedicate time to building your team through coaching.

Don’t just “train to train” – train people to a repeatable system. Just as there’s no single best diet for everyone, there’s no single best sales system that works for everyone. You need to find one that’s the right fit for your team.

You can choose to start from an existing system, like the one we teach in Predictable University, based on the best-selling Predictable Revenue book. This system is based on the Cold Calling 2.0 methodology that I created at to help ramp revenue faster. It’s a framework that uses a combination of phone calls, emails, and social to learn about companies and their pain points, connect with decision makers, and move them into a sales cycle – in a predictable and scalable way that works for students. Other popular systems that you may want to look at include Sandler, Challenger, Salesgravy or Barry Rheins’ Selling Through Curiosity.

Whatever you do, however you do it, anything you can do to systematize your lead generation and sales processes should be equally helpful to both management – who gets predictability – and to your salespeople, so they don’t have to figure things out on the fly every day and have more confidence that they have a proven path to making quota. If your people don’t see personal value to them in the changes you want to make, they’re more likely to ignore or even resist them.