Monday, October 31, 2011

Optimizing Your Social Media Profile To Attract Headhunters

By Kieron Casey
Headhunters are all over the place looking for new prospects for their businesses. You’ll become a very attractive option to them if you can optimize your social media profile to suit what they’re looking for. To do that, you first have to understand what a headhunter is looking for when they view your profile. They are looking to see if they think you have the qualities needed to take a position in their business. They look for the most professional people with the best images and personalities to suggest for the hiring process of a particular business. By optimizing your social media profile in several ways, you can make yourself a more appealing candidate.

The social media profile is your calling card on the web. Your profile is what your friends online know you by. If you have a tacky social media profile, you are less likely to be contacted by a prospective employer or headhunter. The first thing you must do is eliminate all photos and comments about any illegal activity. Don’t have any pictures of yourself partaking in illegal activities, and don’t have any photos of others doing so either. You must build and keep a clean reputation and character online. Pick a photo that depicts you in a clean, respectful, positive and professional manner. Dress nicely in your main profile picture.

When a headhunter looks at your social media profile, they are trying to learn about you. One of the many things they will try to learn about you is what you’re good at. How will anyone know what you’re good at if you don’t show them? Showcase your skills on your profile. Start a blog on your profile and update it frequently with well-written posts on anything, but especially on things that you enjoy or in a field you may want to work in later in life. If you’re studying to be a teacher, for example, and you want to teach reading and writing in a school, post samples of your writing and make posts showing people how to become better writers.

Optimize your profile in such a way that it only represents what you truly are like. be yourself in your photos, videos and comments. Don’t try to create this persona of someone you aren’t. People will see right through it when they talk to you in person or start chatting with you. Be sincere about your interests, goals, attitudes, opinions, actions and thoughts. However, be confident in what you do present. Confidence is very important, and it can make things a lot easier on you in the long run. if you’re confident in who you really are and what you’re capable of, people will take notice and treat you accordingly.

Your social media profile is a way for you to make yourself known on the internet. It is a great tool that you can use to set up connects and portray yourself in a positive way. The opportunities you can discover from having a great social media profile are endless.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The ABCs of SaaS Math

Before we start going deep into SaaS Math, it’s important to level set on terminology. So without further ado, here are the key terms used. If you think I have missed any, please let me know.

A pirate war cry or more importantly, an acronym coined by Dave McClure to summarize the flow of SaaS users from first activation to monetization and referral.

: The first time someone uses your service.

: A new user sign up. This does not necessarily mean a paid customer. It means a new user on a free trial or permanently free version. If you don’t have a free trial or free product and the only way for someone to use your product is to pay then acquisition for you is a new paid customer. In this series “user” will refer to people that don’t pay and “customers” will be people that do pay.

: Average Revenue Per User: Total revenue / # of paying customers.

: Customer Acquisition Cost. Total costs of customer acquisition / # of new customers acquired. This should be calculated both for gross new customers and net new. Net new is net of customers that you lost in the period.

: The % of users / customers that abandon the service over time. This can be measured weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc. You will want to measure churn for users and churn for customers (assuming you have a free trial or freemium product).
Customer churn: % of paying customers that cancel their subscription.
User churn: % of free users that stop using the service.

: Customer Lifetime Value. The expected total revenue from a customer over their lifetime less the cost of generating that revenue less the cost to acquire that customer.

: Also called cohort analysis or class analysis. A cohort is a group of users that are grouped together based on a common attribute. That could be the month they signed up, the source through which you acquired them, the method in which they use your service (web vs. mobile vs. desktop app), etc. Say, you’re looking at cohorts based on month of sign up. You can then look at usage and monetization patterns for those users over time. For example all users signing up in January are a cohort. You can then look at the % of them that use, subscribe for, churn out, cancel their account etc. in February, March, April, etc.

: Every time a user moves forward a step in your funnel from visitor (just visiting your web site) to user (signed up) to customer (paying you money) to referrer (helping bring you new users).
UV conversion: % of new unique visitors that become users.
Active conversion: % of users that use the service for the 1st time.
Paid conversion: % of free users that upgrade to a paid account.

Engagement metrics
: These are softer metrics that are specific to your application that don’t measure core conversion but measure specific feature uses and overall engagement with your service. Examples include # of likes, session length, # of comments, # of connections, etc.

: A goto market strategy where you have a permanently free base version of your service. This, hopefully, replaces the need for a big marketing budget and reduces friction for user sign up enabling you to acquire lots of users. From that large user base you convert a small portion to a paid premium version. There are other freemium scenarios such as free content monetized by ads but in SaaS this is the primary meaning for freemium.

K Factor
: Also known as “viral co-efficient“. For every active user how many new users do they bring on. If your K factor is > 1 then your user base grows virally or exponentially. This applies well for social games and freemium services that have a built in viral aspect that introduces the game or service to new potential users.

: Subsequent usage of your service. Any usage after the initial (activation use). As you will learn, retention is the most important aspect of a successful SaaS business.

Retention rate
: The % of users that continue using the service over time. This can be measured weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.

: The # of months or years that you keep a paid customer. Calculated as 1 / churn rate.

Upgrade %
: The % of customers that upgrade from you basic plan to a higher plan.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

What Facebook’s New Subscribe Button Means for You

by Sidney Angelos

In what seems to be a battle of the titans between Facebook and Google+, the two social media giants are looking for ways to improve the user experience and broaden the ways users interact with one another and the web. One of the latest moves by Facebook was to add their new Subscribe Button
( Now, users can get updates from people other than their friends and to choose what information appears in their news feed. This button is found alongside the Message and Poke buttons of a user’s profile.

You do not have to be an approved friend in order to subscribe to someone. This means that if your favorite celebrity or journalist allows subscriptions, you can follow the latest information that they share via Facebook. This move allows Facebook to replicate the functionality of Twitter and Google+ to follow individual users.
Additionally, this subscribe button allows you to unsubscribe from friends. (You are automatically subscribed to all of your friends.) If a friend becomes too frequent or of little interest on your news feed, you may simply unsubscribe from them. You will remain friends without having to receive constant updates.

Facebook is taking heed from Twitter’s success as well as the rapidly growing Google+ platform. It is currently working to rollout Timeline ( Additionally, Facebook announced features that allow users to group friends and made privacy more prominent on the site (a move in an obvious reaction to the user-friendly Google+ Circles).

Keep in mind that the Subscribe Button is completely optional. You may choose to turn off the button in your settings and not subscribe to anyone else.

For businesses, it only makes sense to allow subscribers. You can enable subscriptions on your company’s profile page by simply following the steps listed on Facebook’s Subscribe Button page ( Many users have found increased traffic and improved search engine optimization results by simply adding this feature to their company page. Keep in mind that subscribers may only see information that you share publicly.

Like Twitter, the number of individuals subscribing to you, and the number of individuals you subscribe to, will appear on your profile. Keep in mind that friend requests will automatically be subscribed to your public updates unless you choose to turn the button off.

This new feature will allow individuals to customize their news feeds with only information that is important and relevant to them. It’s important for businesses to consider adding and utilizing their subscribe button in order to improve user engagement with their page. For business owners wishing to fully leverage the new option, it may be worth considering including the subscribe button in part of your overall integrated strategy. Consider making pushes for individuals to subscribe.

This will likely be one in many changes getting ready to occur for Facebook. Make certain that you are consistently keeping up with the latest trends in order to fully leverage your online brand. These changes are often viewed from the individual user experience level but it’s important to consider how each of Facebook’s changes may be leveraged to help your overall online marketing strategy. Consistently think of creative ways to use these new tools in order to attract and engage followers.

Remember, that fully leveraging your online presence can make a huge impact in your bottom line. However, it’s important to maintain your online presence as part of an overall marketing strategy. Consider your online presence as part of a growing conversation. Make sure you appear to be authentic and not trying to over sell your brand or product. A genuine online presence can significantly enhance your marketing strategy and help build your bottom line.  Are you looking to grow your online presence?


Friday, October 21, 2011

Sales Process Breakdowns: Are Your Forecasts Really Just Guesswork?


Think for a second about the least reliable things in the world. What comes to mind? It could be a cheap used car. Or maybe your United Airlines flight itinerary. Or how about a clunker computer with an operating system older than Justin Bieber?
You can’t really count on any of them.

Of course, if you’re an expansion stage founder or executive, something else might come to mind. Like, for instance, sales forecasts.

Did you hear that collective sigh? For a lot of early stage companies, forecasting is a futile practice dragged down by faulty or incomplete data.

It’s not hard to figure out why, either. Most salespeople are taught the cliche — and incorrect — approach of under-promising and over-delivering. They sandbag forecasts, fudge numbers, and underestimate their potential to protect themselves. If they underperform, they’ll still hit their forecast. If they perform as they should, they’ll look like a sales superstar.

The obvious problem with this philosophy is that it prevents a company’s management team from making decisions based in fact. And guesswork forecasting is a quick way to start a tsunami that will tear through every other component of your sales process.

Faulty forecasts are really the result of companies poorly defining their process of milestones. There’s a knowledge transfer that needs to take place at every step in the sales process that keeps everyone in the loop and allows them to understand — not guess — what to expect next.

So how can you shore up that knowledge transfer?

It starts with truly defining what a forecasted opportunity means. If a salesperson can’t say who a decision maker is, what they talked to that person about, why they talked about those things, and how that data will affect the projected close date, then their forecasts will be horrible.

It’s also critical to place opportunities in the right grouping. If they’re likely to close in the next 90 days, they should appear in a forecast. Anything outside of that is an opportunity that will lead to a more fruitful pipeline — and ultimately a better future forecast.

Forecasts should be updated in real-time based on every interaction with a prospect. That way, sales managers and their salespeople can comfortably say what the definitive next step is and make decisions based on that data. Great forecasts — not sandbagged ones — will result from that.

Former Oracle global account manager Eric Berridge (now the co-founder and principal of management consultancy Bluewolf), makes a good point when he writes in a guest post for SellingPower that stronger forecasts also result from well-structured weekly sales calls. He suggests incorporating these tactics into those calls to improve forecasting:
  • Only speak about deals that are forecasted at 50% or greater. Forecast calls are for closers, not dreamers.
  • Let the numbers speak for themselves. Forecasting is about accurate, concrete data. As such, forecast calls aren’t the time for scolding or reflection.
  • Invite marketing to join the call. Poor forecasting is a common breakdown, but it’s not an isolated problem. It often points toward a weak sales process, which includes everyone involved in opportunity creation. In a small expansion stage company, there aren’t many team members left out of that equation.
There are several more factors that contribute to good — and bad — forecasts than the ones I’ve listed here, and you can find numerous sources that will help you address each individual issue.

 But as I wrote in a previous post, simply addressing the symptoms of a terminal illness won’t do much to cure you of it. You have to focus on the root cause and treat it. For most expansion stage businesses, that means you have to take a deeper look at your sales process. If your forecasts stink, I’m willing to bet there are much bigger problems festering somewhere else.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Expansion Stage Sales Compensation: Are You Paying Too Much or Too Little?


We’ve all heard Tom Cruise’s famous line from Jerry Maguire before. You know, the one where Cruise’s character, in an effort to keep one of his prized NFL clients, energetically repeats a specific phrase?
Having trouble remembering? Maybe this will help.

“Show me the money….” Yup, that one. So, why do I bring that up in a blog that focuses mostly on startup and expansion stage sales teams?

Because, as most CEOs will find out at some point, it’s not easy to decide when and how to show the people that make up their sales organizations that proverbial money. And there are myriad questions that must be addressed to flesh out compensation plans that are fair for each position within your sales team.

For example, should your entry-level inside sales reps be given more salary and smaller bonuses? And what about a VP of Sales — how can you compensate them in a way that centers around an equity stake in the company’s overall results, increasing their motivation to drive revenue? Then there are lead generators. What outcomes or transition points should correlate to their compensation? And how frequently should their bonuses be paid out?

Here’s the short answer to each of those questions: At the expansion stage, the more you can leverage compensation to results, the better off you’ll be in the long term. As the CEO, that means allowing your sales employees — whether they’re a VP of Sales or a field sales rep — to earn more from their sales results than they can from their salary.

In the past, I’ve seen too many companies go the other route.

The problem with salary-heavy compensation, of course, is that it decreases motivation and makes it virtually impossible for a small company to scale. Commission or bonus-focused compensation plans, however, provide tremendous upside for growth and allow CEOs to truly leverage their people. And we’re not talking about a unitary system here that’s only good for the company. Bonus-heavy compensation is ultimately better for everyone, providing ample opportunity for each member within the sales team hierarchy (and the company itself) to make more.

The bottom line is that startup and expansion stage leaders have to understand their growth potential, where they want their organization to go, and how they can compensate to get there.
And, for your employees’ sake, try to keep it as simple as possible. The last thing you want to do is confuse your people. If they’re spending more time thinking about how they’ll get paid than they are working to get it done, it’s a recipe for disaster.

The truth is, every startup or expansion stage CEO should want to show their sales teams the money. Because if compensation plans are structured properly, the distribution of wealth usually means that those people are being paid relative to the value they bring to the company. And in that scenario, everyone stands to benefit.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Not Just For Nerds Anymore: Sales Forecasting and Technology


Sales forecasting includes all methods used to predict future sales by looking at sales history, customer information and demographics, and other information relative to sales trends. It is time-consuming and challenging, particularly for new companies that do not have pre-existing data to work from. It is especially imperative for new businesses to research the benefits of sales forecasting technology. These tools provide businesses with the resources they require to maintain stability – and project growth – in an increasingly fierce market.

There are many complex processes completed when creating an accurate sales forecast. With such limited time frames, it is often impossible for companies to complete such tasks and still have time to interact with customers. Sales forecasting management tools available on the web offer many solutions.
In order to create a measurable sales forecast, businesses must gain knowledge of their customers. Companies need to learn what a customer’s current interests are, a customer’s other service providers, what they are in need of, and the types of purchases they have made in the past. Web-based applications, which are run on a cloud-computing model, can make this process easier.

Cloud computing is simply a way to share and store data over multiple, decentralized Web servers instead of on a mainframe or personal computers within the office setting. When a company opts to move their sales force automation systems into the cloud, they can increase their productivity, free up reps to do more actual selling, and keep the entire company plugged into the same informational channels.

Sales force automation (SFA) has been in use for years, but many sales and marketing employees are still familiar with it as a software program which is accessible only from their office computer, or perhaps on a limited basis from their mobile device. Cloud computing can change all that, since it’s an Internet-based format that requires only a Web browser for access. This means that sales reps and executives alike can have real-time visibility of customer data, sales figures, projections and analysis, in addition to convenient business document templates, no matter where they may be.

Cloud-based SFA apps are more than just storage and templates, however; they can also be utilized to perform sophisticated analysis. Once all data is gathered, sales reporting is the next step and often, the most complicated. Creating sales reports manually, or even with out-of-the-box software, consumes a lot of time. It is difficult to share information generated from sales reports because the data is not always accessible to all staff members. Sales force automation tools, especially those that run in the cloud, enable businesses to minimize workflow issues and automatically generate reports based on submitted data.

Since these forecast and projection reports are stored using outsourced servers, there is never a worry about lost data. Reports are viewed by all authorized staff in real-time and are continually and automatically updated, which means that all departments have accurate, reliable information on hand when they need it.  By using Web-based tools, companies are able to easily alter sales projectionss based on fluctuating sales trends. Being able to change as conditions changes, instead of maneuvering through the red tape and lag time of traditional forecasting methods, can be extremely beneficial in today’s lightning-speed business world. Best of all, automation provides companies with the tools they need to satisfy customer demands without overworking sales representatives.

Sales forecasting technology is a necessity for any business, large and small. In the increasingly competitive market, companies are benefiting from intelligence tools that provide them with the data needed to determine the profitability of sales.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Implementing a Sales Management Solution

Perhaps the biggest challenge for growing companies is trying to develop a system of management that matches the style and professionalism of your company. Learning to share responsibilities between the sales representatives and sales managers is a common problem. Some of the many duties sales managers face are tracking progress, keeping track of closed deals and prospects, and collecting and analyzing daily, weekly, and monthly sales reports. Finding the time to create reports poses another problem for many companies.

Completing all these tasks simultaneously, while at the same time trying to encourage creativity and motivate employees, is unimaginable without implementing effective sales management tools to work with.
The goal of sales force automation is to decrease the many everyday mundane tasks that would otherwise take time away from valued customers. Sales force automation uses Web-based applications that automate data quickly and efficiently by using real-time, an advantage only available through cloud computing technologies.

One important aspect of this program is that it offers tools demanded by sales representatives to manage leads. With it, sales representatives use the Web to capture and score leads. All in a single location, sales force automation enables users to view opportunity details, analyze trends, process sales, and track competitors.

A good management team provides sales representatives with activities to be completed with due dates, ensuring the company sticks to a strict schedule. This is difficult to implement using simple software applications because data often gets lost in the shuffle. Using real-time applications on the Web, data is always up to date and each individual is aware of his or her responsibilities.

Collaboration is an essential component to any successful business. Using sales force automation, users track down colleagues and consult one another about topics relative to their fields. Offering new insights and  sharing effective sales strategies is necessary to spark business growth. Some of the best ideas are formulated through a group effort.

Sales forecasting and data manipulation is unavoidable. Charts and reports must be generated in order to view current sales pipelines and target future demands. This is a competitive world, and small businesses need access to the same resources as larger companies in order to advance in this market. Reports are automatically generated using CRM sales reporting tools. Sales representatives focus on customers rather than paperwork.

Sometimes, customers need to contact a business outside of regular business hours. Sales force automation applications are designed to be integrated with mobile technology. Imagine being able to conduct a conference with a prospective client from any location, at any point in the day. Some of the most popular phones and other mobile technologies are used with this program. Application integration also enables users to import and export data with applications most frequently used in office settings including Microsoft Outlook and Excel. If templates do not meet your demands, application customization is a common solution. Some companies build their own applications from scratch using the easy to follow, open source language. Others simply modify existing applications to fit their needs. Both strategies offer sufficient solutions to common problems.

Problems that arise in everyday business practices are not easily masked. Companies are letting the Web do the work for them by using on-demand products to automate workloads. CRM sales fore automation tools are also environmentally friendly. Good software programs take up a lot of space, and much of the power that is used to run these applications is wasted when upgrading and debugging. Since CRM sales management systems run on outsourced servers, energy is pooled, benefiting the environment. Implementing a sales management solution is a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Sales: Nurturing Can’t Be ALL Marketing’s Responsibility


There’s not doubt about it — sales relies on marketing. However, salespeople that rely TOO much on marketing are putting themselves at risk of an unhealthy pipeline in the future.

Salespeople need to be involved with nurturing their high priority leads and opportunities that are “aware” and have some level of interest, but are not in a buying position at this point in time — there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

I don’t care how good your marketing automation system is — a prospect knows the difference between a personalized touch point, or one generated from marketing and sent out with a blast.

Cindy Modzel of Sigma Marketing Group wrote in a recent blog post, “True lead nurturing is about relevant conversations and consistent follow up. Pre-set messages and e-mails may hit a few prospects with appropriate information or catch a prospect with an immediate need, but the real truth is that the more conversations the salesperson has, the more likely they will uncover a pain point or true need. Pre-set messages cannot address trigger points in a conversation that prompt further discovery with your prospect or current client.”
Salespeople’s nurturing practices cannot be random. “It’s a slow week, so I guess I’ll call into some contacts that I am trying to win over for next quarter.”  This inconsistent behavior won’t cut it long term if a business’s main goal is to scale.

Sales managers need to work with their salespeople to determine what they should be doing to nurture qualified leads/opps — more specifically content type and frequency — to supplement marketing automated activities. Human touch point nurturing needs to be built into a salesperson’s model day/ week. For example: every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon from 3:30-5 pm your team focuses on human touch point nurturing to their top X nurturing accounts, researching relevant topics that reconnect with the prospects that they want to win over in the long term. Set guideline for your team, like the top X accounts that your reps are nurturing need to have X human touch points per month.

Human touch point nurturing does not consist of “check-in” calls or “check-in” emails; nothing is more annoying than getting a “check-in” from a pushy sales person. These are calls or emails that include something relevant and helpful/informative for the prospect, aside from what your marketing is already sending out (be sure to check the activity history to make sure that you are not double-sending what your marketing team has already blasted!).

Here are a couple of personalized human touch point topics:
  • News articles relevant to their industry and yours
  • New content that your company has released, that may be of interest
  • Upcoming events in their area that are relevant to their industry and yours
  • Comments about recent events within their organization (a promotion, etc.)
  • Webinar invitations

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Not on the Net? How and Why To Do Business Online

by Sidney Angelos

Your business is not on the Internet? What the heck is wrong with you?

OK, I’m kidding, of course—but seriously, if you’re not on the ‘net, you are losing opportunities and sales. Period. You may also be tarnishing your brand. As more and more consumers embrace not only online shopping, but also technologies that put them in touch with companies—social media platforms like Twitter and Foursquare, applications for mobile phones, and online knowledge bases or live chat software—they might be looking for you online. If you’re not there, chances are the customers will find your competitors.
Before we jump into the advantages of doing business online, a real life example will serve to inspire and motivate you, as well as help you think about how you could benefit from an online business.

Not long ago a friend and I had a lunch date, and we considered trying a local restaurant that just opened near my office. I thought that it was a casual place that served sandwiches and salads, but decided to check out their Web site to make sure. A Google search of the restaurant’s name yielded a surprising dearth of information. My next stop was the wiki created for my city, which has a directory of local establishments with reviews, but it didn’t include this place. I headed over to Yelp, and again typed the name into the search bar. Nothing. By this time I figured that Facebook and Twitter were a long shot, but I tried them anyway—nada.

I don’t like surprises. My friend and I ended up lunching at a tex-mex joint, where she was able to check in with Foursquare—earning us some complimentary guacamole. Not only that, but I was able to peruse the menu online beforehand and even see nutritional information, so I could plan my meal and not completely wreck my diet.

Maybe your business can afford to lose the equivalent of a $30 lunch. Maybe not. The point is that consumers across the world now turn to the Internet for information and recommendations, and unless you are a confirmed Luddite, why wouldn’t you provide those things to them through this inexpensive, useful medium?
It takes very little in the way of equipment and capital to set up your business online. There are numerous free applications that can help you establish a presence—WordPress or another free blog-hosting site and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, where you can easily communicate with customers and market your business. You can access these from your home computer or smartphone. If you’re a small business, that may be all you need to start.

If you’re a little more established—or would like to be—you might want to think about running your operations in the cloud. What this means is that instead of purchasing a server and additional hardware, you store your data and run all your business applications in the cloud. That way all of your employees can access the tools they need to do their job with nothing more than an Internet connection. Cloud computing offers you tremendous scalability, so if you anticipate growth but don’t have a lot of capital to invest, this is the way to go. There are tons of applications to choose from, or you can have one custom developed to fit your business’s unique needs. Either way, you’ll be able to streamline all your workflows and processes, from inventory management to contact management to sales forecasting—freeing you up to focus on creating and selling a quality product. Oh, and counting your profits, of course.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Create Opportunities and Generate More Leads with Sales Tracking Software


Being a salesperson is not easy—I did it for a summer in college, and let me tell you I’ve never worked harder. My hat’s off to sales rock stars, and even those who try their best but aren’t quite closing the deals. In this economy? Forget about it. These days, sales representatives sometimes have to chase almost 20 leads in order to make just one sale.

What would help is if the salesperson could do some of the legwork in advance—for example, being able to identify customers who are most likely to purchase the product. This would help reps avoid wasting precious resources, as well as cut down on time spent chasing fruitless opportunities. Sales force automation applications, as part of a comprehensive customer relationship management (CRM) strategy, allow companies to do just that: to identify the best opportunities and leads, and to approach them intelligently.

Gathering sales leads is simply not enough to close a deal. Studies show that 90 percent of the leads generated through marketing are never acted upon by the sales department. Salespeople must be diligent about analyzing the data to determine which leads offer enough potential to pursue. Sales tracking software allows companies to organize information gathered from a marketing campaign to determine which leads are worth pursuing. For instance, a company may launch a pay-per-click campaign or a Twitter campaign to generate traffic to the company’s website. The company collects the information about the customer and determines their level of interest and time frame for purchasing a product. The company can then determine how many, or which, resources to allocate to that customer in order to encourage a sale.

Many sales tracking software tools have data mining capabilities to generate leads for the customer; companies need to utilize these tools in order to find the best opportunities. These tools may also assist with sales forecasting and Return On Investment (ROI) measurement.

Collaboration tools allow sales people to share sales leads. Through collaboration, sales reps may be assigned to accounts in their area of expertise. By assigning sales people in this manner, key accounts or difficult accounts may close faster by an informed or seasoned sales person.

Sales lead management systems allow automated campaign execution. By executing an automated campaign, salespeople can expect their potential customers to receive emails, direct mail, phone calls, and other correspondence on a consistent basis. The system will automatically remind or execute the command on a specified date periodically. The sales team can simply follow up afterwards to determine if the customer received the correspondence.

Managers must make sales people accountable for the leads that they receive. By generating lead aging reports, viable lead reports, and campaign effectiveness reports, managers can determine which marketing campaigns generate the best leads. Additionally, managers can determine which sales people are more effective with managing leads, as well as the best place to invest marketing dollars.

Because most sales people are, by the very nature of the job, on the road a great deal of the time, they need mobile solutions. Cloud-based applications that cater to the sales team are a fantastic solution, because they can be accessed by the rep using only an iPhone, BlackBerry, laptop, or any device with an internet connection. Cutting down on in-office administrative work and travel time, too, can help the salespeople focus on what they do best—meeting up with their leads, and turning them into customers.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Understanding Sales Management Software

Businesses in sales have a great deal of information that must be kept organized to use it efficiently and with success. Traditionally, information such as client names and contact information, sales trends, market research, and other data has been kept in spreadsheets and databases. While somewhat effective, newer systems have been developed that make recording, maintaining, and utilizing data easier to manage and more generally accessible to those who need it.

Sales management applications have been designed with the concept of streamlining information and making it easier to make sales in mind. One of the primary functions of sales management software is to keep lead and customer information in an organized, easily accessible system. This allows for sales reps to input and access customer data with ease. Keeping this information organized as such also allows sales reps to have access to the most current data needed to make sales presentations or to deliver at meetings. Critical information is immediately available. In turn, more time to devote to selling is potentially made available.

Sales opportunities, essential to business growth, can be tracked and kept up-to-the-minute with sales management applications. Customer communications, decision makers, and customer feedback, as well as any other important data, can be organized and tracked to aid in the sales process. Sales teams may also receive updates and reminders of pertinent information to keep them apprised and their knowledge current. Current information can be capitalized upon and turned into sales opportunities.

Having access to current customer and product data also means that sales teams have an opportunity to identify sales trends early. If problems are identified at an early stage the sales team can analyze where problems might lie and work to resolve them quickly. In addition, current data allows sales teams to track sales processes, track product sales, as well as what is happening with competitors. Being able to follow this information almost as it happens allows sales teams to capitalize on opportunities as well as pinpoint areas they might need to target for improvement or growth. Sales representatives may also be able to identify sales and opportunities other reps may have worked on, giving them a chance to garner insight from their associates and potentially improve their own approach.

In addition to making essential information readily available to sales reps, sales management tools also provide opportunities for businesses to eliminate redundancy of tasks, automate processes, and establish uniformity of processes. Using sales management applications, businesses can organize work flow and adjust it as necessary to meet business and customer needs. There is also opportunity to establish customized approval processes that automate things such as discount requests or opportunities to close sales. Sales territories can be analyzed, defined, and adjusted frequently according to data organized by sales management software.

This can aide in the elimination of overlapping sales territories, or customers becoming lost in transitions.
Businesses may use sales management tools to analyze sales trends, create customized reports, and review status updates in real time. It can also be utilized to review data and make sales and product revenue projections for better short-term and long-term planning. Such analyses may allow businesses to forecast the demand for products and adjust production and sales accordingly.

Sales management applications allow businesses the opportunity to maintain key customer and product data in an efficient and organized manner that is readily accessible to sales teams. In doing this, the opportunity to streamline sales opportunities and the functions of sales teams can be capitalized on. Sales management applications aide in making the sales process an efficient one for leads, customers, sales reps, and businesses as a whole.

Monday, October 3, 2011

CRM on Demand – What’s It All About?

For businesses to succeed in any market environment, they must have solid relationships with customers and clients; they’re the ones who make success possible. But many businesses are falling behind on keeping those relationships strong because of one thing-they don’t have a simple way of keeping track of everything.

Businesses, especially ones that rely on sales forces, lack a system to maintain good customer relationships. Whether it be through sales force automation or contact management. They try to integrate many different programs, but all too quickly it becomes a hassle. More and more businesses are realizing the benefit of cloud computing solutions that provide on-demand CRM services to get organized and dramatically improve sales.
On-demand CRM is different from traditional CRM software because it’s not hosted on a computer hard drive or an office server. It’s hosted on what those in the IT world refer to as “the cloud,” know to most of us as the internet. The cloud refers to the structure of the internet and how it’s depicted in diagrams as a series of computer and server connections. Free e-mail services such as Google’s Gmail and MSN’s Hotmail are all in “the cloud.” Businesses just take it one step further and, in essence, pay to have operations through the cloud rather than on individual computers in an office.

One of the biggest benefits companies who use on-demand CRM find is that it’s easily accessible. With software, you’re tied to a desk, making it hard when it comes time to travel or when you’re somewhere else and need information quickly. Because everything is online, it’s accessible wherever there’s internet—including cell phones and PDA’s.

Sales is a multi-step process, and companies who provide on-demand CRM understand that. Most of the services out there offer easy integration with the programs most business already use. They also offer the whole spectrum of CRM, like help desk services, sales force automation and lead management. For organizations seeking more applications, many CRM companies even offer ways to develop applications yourself to integrate into your business, and ways to share applications with others. With customizable options, the ability to change the look, feel and flow of the platform online is quickly becoming a popular choice for all types of businesses.

Hosting all of your CRM services on the cloud is also beneficial to your entire sales force. It provides an environment of support and encourages collaboration among your sales reps. They’re able to share information among each other and interact in unique ways. Managers will appreciate faster access to sales reports and data, as well as the use of provided data analytical tools to evaluate sales performance.

Your CRM software system is only as strong as the customer experience it provides. Don’t forget about who these services are really all about—the customer. CRM services and platforms help provide a better customer experience. While customers aren’t using CRM directly, they benefit from what it does for a company.

Businesses who use on-demand CRM have opportunities to really study their customers, their habits, behaviors, preferences and what works for them when it comes to sales. Everyone will benefit by having stronger customer relationships and customers that stay loyal. With a good CRM system, you’ll be able to provide better customer service while still maintaining your budget and your bottom line.