Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Cultivate a New Approach to Business and Customer Engagement

Source

We are operating in a new environment with respect to interacting with customers and prospects. And this environment will be different tomorrow than it is today—literally. That's how fast things are changing; as new technology is created at accelerated rates, the only thing moving faster is consumer adoption of the "latest and greatest" app or gadget.

As a result, companies must adjust their approach. And while focusing on improving a customer's experience is important, broadening the scope to include opportunities to facilitate improvement of customer lifestyles when possible offers the potential to build longer, more intimate relationships. Most likely it will take a different approach to deliver the experiences customers expect.

Here are a few key tenets companies are taking to heart to create organizations that can keep up with customer behaviors and expectations.

Fast and Flexible (F)

Every second counts when it comes to meeting customer expectations. A study by Kissmetrics found that 47 percent of consumers expect a Web page to load in two seconds or less, and just a one-second delay decreases customer satisfaction by 16 percent. According to a recent University of Massachusetts study, if a video hasn't started streaming in five seconds, about 25 percent of potential viewers will bail before viewing, and if it doesn't start in 10 seconds, that jumps to almost 50 percent.

Speed thrills and lack of it kills. We've never liked waiting for things we want, and technology enables us to wait less and less. Book buyers are used to getting e-books downloaded in less than 60 seconds, where just a few years ago they didn't mind waiting days for a book to be delivered—or even going to a bookstore to get it.

With less time to make a connection and convert it into a meaningful relationship, companies have to act quickly—and react even quicker, which means taking a hard look at their current capabilities to make fast moves.

Agile and Analytical (A)

There has never been more information about consumers, much of it coming from consumers themselves. Companies that invest in creating a strategic social listening culture supported by tools can effectively understand what's important to customers and prospects in real time.

Being able to integrate social data with transactional information is critical to discovering important insights. And while aggregating disparate data and analyzing it calls for analytical tools and skill sets, it also calls for an empathic approach to convert those insights into appealing interaction opportunities.

Interactive and Integrated (I)

Social, mobile, and cloud technologies have unleashed people's collaborative nature, and it's important for companies to not only embrace this, but to find ways to facilitate it. And as customers, people want to be valued beyond the financial transaction their business brings.

Pamela O'Hara, CEO of social CRM vendor Batchbook, says early customers are crucial to her business. They help figure out who the company's market is, how to reach that market, and at what price point. Because of this, O'Hara says it is important for her entire team to be involved in the relationship they are building with customers. Integrating customers' voices—not just their wallets—is key in building a business today.

Responsive and Reliable (R)

That building trust is critical to finding and keeping customers isn't news. But it's something that can get lost in the excitement generated by social media, mobile technology, and the cloud. And listening sometimes, responding when you can, or doing things right occasionally won't get you far with customers. It raises expectations quicker, and disappoints faster when those expectations aren't met.

Because consumers are operating differently today, and more differently tomorrow, companies must embrace the environment in which we're operating. It's only fair to customers that companies rethink their approach to doing business and building relationships with them.

This post originally appeared on DestinationCRM.com.

http://www.frontrow-solutions.com/

Friday, December 27, 2013

5 Reasons 2014 is the Year of Video in BtoB Marketing

Source

92 percent of B2B customers watch online video and 43 percent of B2B customers watch online video when researching products and services for their business, according to this Inc. article. Video engages multiple senses, resulting in deeper engagement.

In addition, CK Kerley, mobile marketing expert, shared, “Jeff, video is the killer application for mobile.” Since we live in a mobile world today, you need to embrace video.

So how can you use video in BtoB marketing in 2012? Let’s take a page from Jay Baer’s appearance on Marketing Made Simple TV,  where Jay leaned into the camera and said, “Hey, I don’t know how to create awesome content, and I bet you don’t either. But I do know how to be helpful.” There’s the first key to success with video – just be helpful.

Here are five reasons why video marketing is king in 2014:

1. Be helpful in a good way

Create How To instructional videos, tell stories and provide tips and insight all with short videos on your website or blog.

2. Entertain as well as inform

Inject some of your own personality into the videos, like Kinaxis did in their hilarious Suitemates series.

3. Capture leads 

Video can generate sales leads, provided you have good bait on your hook (offers) with a clear call to action. You can also put a form in front of your videos in an effort to capture leads.

4. Mobile-friendly

More and more content is consumed on smartphones and tablets each year. You simply cannot be sure your prospect will be in front of a computer screen any more. Video is highly engaging on smartphones and tablets.

5. Story-telling

Human beings are programmed to respond to stories. What’s one show that consistently beats NFL ratings? It is The Walking Dead – a story about people trying to survive in a world filled with zombies.  Storytelling is so powerful that I was not surprised to find an article entitled, “Zombies devour the NFL.”  Spend time and invest right in video production services to deliver great stories and the world will respond.
I’d love to hear what you think and appreciate those who share our content.  Lastly, I invite you to check out the new Video Production Service offered by Find New Customers.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

4 Rules for Strong B2B Sales Performance

Source

In AntiFragile, author Nassim Taleb explains what companies can do to lower their risks of catastrophic events, despite prevailing complexities and uncertainties in sales and beyond.

Firms that thrive on uncertainty benefit more when they’re right, than harmed when they’re wrong. If you are looking to minimize risk and increase the resilience of your sales performance, here are four rules for being "Antifragile":

1. Learn from trial and error

Taleb contends that companies that learn are buffered from making big mistakes. They exploit small errors by detecting and fixing them fast. When every trial gives you info on what doesn’t work, you start zooming in on a solution. Trials that fail let you figure out where to go, one step at a time.  In practice, such trial and error makes high performance a logical result of learning that’s incremental and personalized.

2. Focus on reducing risks rather than prediction

When predictions fail, there’s often a call for better forecasts. Taleb contends this is a flawed response when the situation is complex or uncertain. We’ve come to rely on technologies that have errors and interactions that are harder to estimate or predict. When you’re dealing with situations fraught with uncertainty, you’re far better off modifying your exposure than honing your calculations.

3. Measure the chain of effects


To avoid risks of big mistakes, there’s a need to avoid what Taleb calls, “Confirmation fallacies that show what has worked without a complete picture of what’s worked and what’s not worked." Spotting and fixing small mistakes requires an approach to measuring performance that broadens the picture, reveals what needs fixing, and confirms that the fix really fixed things in the full chain of effects. This requires more organic feedback mechanisms that help us sense faster, and with greater granularity, when we have an error to correct.

4. Focus on bad practices instead of best practices

Don’t look for the path to the big win. Look for early signals that you’re on a path to a loss and fix associated mistakes. This is akin to the Moneyball future of B2B sales management…the Oakland A’s out-performed expectations by avoiding being struck out at home plate. By getting on base, the team left themselves in a position to still score runs. Put another way, if you want better outcomes, focus less on improving predictability and more on modifying your exposure to errors that could produce a big, negative, event [like a deal that unexpectedly didn't close].

How are you de-risking the uncertainties of your revenue performance? How has it affected your sales management practices and the revenue growth you’ve achieved?


http://www.frontrow-solutions.com/

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Customer Service Skills: How to Satisfy and Delight Your Customers

Source

In the world of customer service, a lot of attention is given to the concept of customer delight. There are books written about it, and training classes offered on how to do it. Influential customer service experts tell us we’ve failed if we don’t delight every customer every time.

Legendary tales are breathlessly retold around the customer service campfire. Did you hear this one? A store once gave a customer a refund on a set of tires despite the fact that the store didn’t even SELL tires.
There are also valid arguments against trying to delight everyone. Giving one customer a refund on set of tires you don’t sell is the stuff of legend, but you’ll go bankrupt if you do it for everyone. Something that delights one customer may annoy another. What delights a customer today may simply satisfy that same customer tomorrow as they become accustomed to a new level of service.

So, is customer delight truly a business imperative? Or, is focusing on customer satisfaction enough?
The answer is somewhere in the middle. Delight and satisfaction actually co-exist quite nicely. In fact, they need each other.

Satisfaction and delight defined

Customers’ perceptions of service are based on how the experience matches their expectations:
  • Satisfactory service occurs when expectations are met
  • Delight occurs when service exceeds expectations
  • A service failure occurs when service falls short of expectations
The rub is that we only really notice experiences that are different than what we expected.
Imagine you walk into a room and flip the light switch. You expect the lights to turn on. That’s exactly what happens 99% of the time, so you hardly pay any notice when they do. Satisfactory service is a lot like that.
What if something different happens?

You’d be sure to notice if the lights came on to reveal a room full of people shouting, “Surprise!” A surprise party would be an unexpected delight.

Delight is great, failure is bad, but most of the time the lights just come on as expected and you go about your business.

Customer service is the same way. We get satisfactory service most of the time but we don’t really notice it because that’s what we expected. The delight and failure outliers are what we notice and remember.

 

Why we need satisfaction AND delight

Our tendency to only notice the unusual plays an important role in customers’ perceptions of service. If a customer has four satisfactory service experiences with your company and one delightful one, their overall perception will be heavily influenced by the delightful encounter.

Imagine a frequent flyer who settles into a comfortable routine with her preferred airline. The flights are generally on time, the flight attendants are friendly, and her elite status provides a few extra perks that make travel easier. One day, a severe storm cancels all departing flights and the traveler must wait until the next day to fly home. While other passengers scramble for accommodations, an airline employee seizes the opportunity to be a hero and books the frequent traveler in a nice hotel room at no charge.

These hero moments don’t happen every day, but they’re the experiences that are remembered.
It’s impractical to create hero moments like this all the time. It’s also not necessary. Providing satisfactory service most of the time and delightful service in the right moment is often enough to make your service stand out.

Companies that seize these hero moments benefit from another quirk of human perception called "confirmation bias." When people have a strongly held belief, they’ll selectively filter information based on whether or not it supports that belief.

If the frequent traveler pledges her unwavering allegiance to her favorite airline after they put her up in a hotel, she’ll unconsciously find herself biased by this experience. Good travel experiences become further proof in her mind that the airline is great. An occasional poor experience is dismissed as an anomaly and quickly forgiven.

The opportunity and danger of service failures

Strangely, service failures also represent an opportunity to delight customers. Service failures can and will happen in every company, but what happens next separates the great organizations from the rest.
By definition, a service failure is an experience that falls short of a customer’s expectations. This puts the customer at a crossroads. The service failure is amplified if the company fails to fix the problem. It might even negate the impact of previous satisfactory experiences and cause the customer to dwell on the one service failure. The customer can develop confirmation bias where they expect the company to provide poor service and selectively filter information based on whether it supports their opinion.

But, what happens if someone seizes the hero moment and quickly fixes the problem with style and grace? Now, the feeling of delight is amplified because the customer started out feeling so poorly.

 

Start with consistency

If you want to delight your customers, start by being consistently good. Fix chronic problems. Get the basics right every time.

Do this well and your hero moments will stand out and delight your customers.

http://www.frontrow-solutions.com/

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hit All Your Sales Goals in Just 5 Hours a Day

Source

Bill is the successful CEO of the most effective sales organization in his industry. In just ten years, his company has skyrocketed from $0 to $50M with organic growth in the very traditional copier industry. He attributes much of his success to developing a first-class sales team and asking his salespeople to sell only five hours per day.

But, what is the “Five Hour Sales Day”?

Realize What an Effective Day Is

The “Five Hour Sales Day” is a beautifully simple system, which ensures that Bill’s sales team is performing productive, sales-related activities for the majority of their day. Research by Pace Productivity shows that the average salesperson only performs 2 hours (23% of their time) of sales-related activities per day, such as sales meetings, prospecting, sales follow-up, etc.

Sadly, the majority of an average salesperson’s day is wasted performing non-sales-related activities like putting out fires, processing orders, doing paperwork, entering data, or just getting distracted.
Therefore, spending five hours on purely sales-related activities is actually a massive increase in sales output—a 250% increase on average.

Assign a Time-Value to Activities

This system works by assigning a time value to each desired sales-related activity. For example, twenty prospect calls equals one hour. An initial sales meeting equals one hour. A sales presentation equals one hour. Ten client up-sell calls equals one hour. So, you get the picture (but notice that tasks such as doing paperwork, researching, and solving client problems are not on the list). Each day of sales-related activities must then add up to five hours. After Bill’s salespeople have completed their five hours of sales work, they can go home. It’s truly that simple.

Hold the Team Accountable

The key is to stop counting the total hours in the day. Whether you manage a team or are selling yourself, forget about the eight or ten hour work day. It just leads to wasted time. Instead, only track the activities that actually matter, which will ensure that the most important sales-related activities take priority and get accomplished. In fact, Bill’s company attaches part of a salesperson’s compensation to whether or not that individual is actually achieving his goal of five hours of daily selling. This guarantees that appropriate output and high selling productivity are maintained. It also cultivates a healthy business culture, in which no one focuses on who is first to show up and last to leave the office. Instead, being hyper-efficient is what really matters.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to design your own “Five Hour Sales Day.” Simply allot a time value to only your critical sales-related activities, and be sure that your daily activities add up to five hours.
And, don’t forget the best part. After you or your salespeople have achieved the five hour goal, feel free to head home. This system will not only ensure an improved quality of life, by providing you with more time away from the office, but it will also enable you to hit your sales goals, eliminating daily guesswork.

Bill is the successful CEO of the most effective sales organization in his industry. In just ten years, his company has skyrocketed from $0 to $50M with organic growth in the very traditional copier industry. He attributes much of his success to developing a first-class sales team and asking his salespeople to sell only five hours per day.
But, what is the “Five Hour Sales Day”?

Realize What an Effective Day Is

The “Five Hour Sales Day” is a beautifully simple system, which ensures that Bill’s sales team is performing productive, sales-related activities for the majority of their day. Research by Pace Productivity shows that the average salesperson only performs 2 hours (23% of their time) of sales-related activities per day, such as sales meetings, prospecting, sales follow-up, etc.
Sadly, the majority of an average salesperson’s day is wasted performing non-sales-related activities like putting out fires, processing orders, doing paperwork, entering data, or just getting distracted.
Therefore, spending five hours on purely sales-related activities is actually a massive increase in sales output—a 250% increase on average.

Assign a Time-Value to Activities

This system works by assigning a time value to each desired sales-related activity. For example, twenty prospect calls equals one hour. An initial sales meeting equals one hour. A sales presentation equals one hour. Ten client up-sell calls equals one hour. So, you get the picture (but notice that tasks such as doing paperwork, researching, and solving client problems are not on the list). Each day of sales-related activities must then add up to five hours. After Bill’s salespeople have completed their five hours of sales work, they can go home. It’s truly that simple.

Hold the Team Accountable

The key is to stop counting the total hours in the day. Whether you manage a team or are selling yourself, forget about the eight or ten hour work day. It just leads to wasted time. Instead, only track the activities that actually matter, which will ensure that the most important sales-related activities take priority and get accomplished. In fact, Bill’s company attaches part of a salesperson’s compensation to whether or not that individual is actually achieving his goal of five hours of daily selling. This guarantees that appropriate output and high selling productivity are maintained. It also cultivates a healthy business culture, in which no one focuses on who is first to show up and last to leave the office. Instead, being hyper-efficient is what really matters.
So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to design your own “Five Hour Sales Day.” Simply allot a time value to only your critical sales-related activities, and be sure that your daily activities add up to five hours.
And, don’t forget the best part. After you or your salespeople have achieved the five hour goal, feel free to head home. This system will not only ensure an improved quality of life, by providing you with more time away from the office, but it will also enable you to hit your sales goals, eliminating daily guesswork.

Bill is the successful CEO of the most effective sales organization in his industry. In just ten years, his company has skyrocketed from $0 to $50M with organic growth in the very traditional copier industry. He attributes much of his success to developing a first-class sales team and asking his salespeople to sell only five hours per day.
But, what is the “Five Hour Sales Day”?

Realize What an Effective Day Is

The “Five Hour Sales Day” is a beautifully simple system, which ensures that Bill’s sales team is performing productive, sales-related activities for the majority of their day. Research by Pace Productivity shows that the average salesperson only performs 2 hours (23% of their time) of sales-related activities per day, such as sales meetings, prospecting, sales follow-up, etc.
Sadly, the majority of an average salesperson’s day is wasted performing non-sales-related activities like putting out fires, processing orders, doing paperwork, entering data, or just getting distracted.
Therefore, spending five hours on purely sales-related activities is actually a massive increase in sales output—a 250% increase on average.

Assign a Time-Value to Activities

This system works by assigning a time value to each desired sales-related activity. For example, twenty prospect calls equals one hour. An initial sales meeting equals one hour. A sales presentation equals one hour. Ten client up-sell calls equals one hour. So, you get the picture (but notice that tasks such as doing paperwork, researching, and solving client problems are not on the list). Each day of sales-related activities must then add up to five hours. After Bill’s salespeople have completed their five hours of sales work, they can go home. It’s truly that simple.

Hold the Team Accountable

The key is to stop counting the total hours in the day. Whether you manage a team or are selling yourself, forget about the eight or ten hour work day. It just leads to wasted time. Instead, only track the activities that actually matter, which will ensure that the most important sales-related activities take priority and get accomplished. In fact, Bill’s company attaches part of a salesperson’s compensation to whether or not that individual is actually achieving his goal of five hours of daily selling. This guarantees that appropriate output and high selling productivity are maintained. It also cultivates a healthy business culture, in which no one focuses on who is first to show up and last to leave the office. Instead, being hyper-efficient is what really matters.
So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to design your own “Five Hour Sales Day.” Simply allot a time value to only your critical sales-related activities, and be sure that your daily activities add up to five hours.
And, don’t forget the best part. After you or your salespeople have achieved the five hour goal, feel free to head home. This system will not only ensure an improved quality of life, by providing you with more time away from the office, but it will also enable you to hit your sales goals, eliminating daily guesswork.

http://www.frontrow-solutions.com/

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Increase Sales in 12 Easy Steps

These easy tweaks to your sales process to create a huge increase in both sales revenue and profit:

Step 1. Reduce the number of opportunities you pursue

The more opportunities you've got, the more likely you are to make a sale, right? Wrong. If you can't give each prospect the attention they deserve, you'll lose sales you otherwise might make.

Step 2. Increase the percentage of time you spend selling

Get somebody else to handle your paperwork, expense reports, or whatever busywork is involved with making a sale. Use the extra time to get in front of customers.

Step 3. Stop buying technology because it's cool

Smartphones, tablets, and PCs can be important tools--but learning and supporting them can drain your productivity. Only purchase devices and programs that actually help you sell.

Step 4. Think about your solution as a verb

Suppose your company makes glue. If you're selling "glue" (a noun), you'll talk about product features. If you're selling "gluing" (a verb), you'll talk what your offering does for your customer's business.

Step 5. Treat selling as a service to the customer

Stop thinking that selling means "convincing" the customer, "overcoming" objections, and "winning" the business. Instead, view yourself as the customer's ally in solving a problem.

Step 6. Terminate weak engagements

The moment you find out that a customer really doesn't need what you're offering, point them in the right direction, then politely withdraw from the opportunity.

Step 7. Don't confuse telling with selling

Rather than talking to the customer about what your product can do, ask intelligent questions so that the two of you can discover whether the customer really needs you to help solve a problem or achieve a goal.

Step 8. Hone your lead generation effort

Based upon your own experience, observe who's just interested and who's actually buying. Hone your lead generation efforts to find more of the ones who are actually spending money on your offering.

Step 9. Don't focus on the gatekeepers

Make sure that you're talking to the real decision-makers, and not just the influencers and sideliners. When you meet a decision-maker, stay in regular communication throughout the sales cycle.

Step 10. Stay atop of your opportunities

Don't lose track of what's changing inside the account. Build a short sales plan that documents the process and the players, so you don't spin your wheels trying to remember who needs what and when.

Step 11. Outflank your competition

Find out who the other guys are calling on, and how they're approaching the account. Figure out who they're talking to, what they're saying, and defensively position your offering to counter their approach.

Step 12. Increase your average sales value

It takes just about as much effort to cut a $1,000 deal as it does to cut a $10,000 deal. The more revenue you book on each opportunity, the more money you'll make overall.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

6 Ways to Provide AMAZING Customer Service During the Holiday Rush

Today’s customers have unreasonably high service expectations - even more so during the holiday rush. The last thing you want is to let the quality of your customer service slip during the most important time of the year. In order to shine amidst the clutter of promotions and maximize your holiday efforts, your support team needs to provide superior customer service. 
At Desk.com, we talked to some of the support managers taking on the holidays this year to understand how they empowered their teams to provide amazing customer service. Through a series of interviews with them and our WOW team members, we gathered six effective strategies that all holiday heroes should use to prepare for the peak seasons:

1. Plan Ahead

You should consider planning at least three months before peak periods. This time is needed to determine personnel needs, training, and if necessary, schedule longer shifts for existing employees. Planning ahead and setting goals is essential - especially for fast-growing companies that have experienced rapid customer growth in the previous months.
Fortunately, some simple reporting and forecasting efforts can really go a long way to determine how much personnel and tools you need on hand for the peak seasonal demand. There is a wide set of factors that you should consider analyzing in order to effectively forecast the holiday season.
Desk.com’s customers paid special attention to these key points:
  • Look at your workflows from the past peak seasons
  • Understand your past years’ customer satisfaction ratings during the holidyas
  • Consider the cost of hiring seasonal workers compared to training team members from different departments
  • Make an educated forecast of how many customer inquiries you will receive this year

2. Divide and Conquer: Triaging Customer Interactions

One of the biggest mistakes you can make during the holidays is not providing a process for your support team to efficiently and effectively handle all of the cases. Unfortunately, an inbox full of hundreds of cases that grows by the hour has the ability to slow any agent down. An effective process that keeps agents productive is “triaging” - a strategy that gives all cases quick, instant attention.
Triaging cases as they come in allows you divide and conquer your case load by having the right cases, assigned to the right teams, right away. By gauging the urgency of a case and correctly categorizing it by the type of help the customer needs, you’re ensuring the right agents are handling the customer’s question. This prevents specialized agents from wasting time digging through cases looking for the ones that most require their subject matter expertise.
Desk.com customer, SmugMug, says this about triaging cases:
"Triaging cases makes all the difference during the holidays. It's necessary to triage for cases and set up special filters. In order to efectively triage incoming customer interactions, we use Case Filters a lot in Desk.com."

3. Improve Self-Service Support

It’s no secret that the holidays are a time of high case volumes and even higher emotions. The best way to keep both at bay is to provide customers with the resources they need to solve their own questions. You can serve more customers faster simply by making answers to common questions readily available to them through an online support center. Most customers prefer to solve their own problems anyways! According to Forrester, 72% of customers prefer self-service to resolve their support issues over picking up the phone or sending an email.
A Holiday FAQ is an incredible resource for customers and has the potential to dramatically deflect calls or emails - meaning, holiday shoppers do not need to contact your support team because they have solved their own problem using the FAQ.
Consider some of the following questions for your Holiday FAQ:
  1. What are your work hours during the holidays? 
  2. Did you recently release a new version of a product during the holidays? What’s different about it from the older version? 
  3. Are there any discount codes available? Explain the fine print. 
  4. What are the shipping policies? 
  5. What are your return/exchange/ cancellation policies? 
  6. Do you have any rush order options?

4. Empower Agents to Get the Job Done

We’ve all been in that situation when a holiday order somehow goes terribly wrong. It might have been lost in transit or arrived three sizes too small. In which case, having a problem resolved in the shortest amount of time in a friendly and personalized fashion has the greatest impact on a customer’s holiday experience.
In order to deliver amazing customer service in the shortest amount of time during the holidays, you should consider empowering your agents to solve customer problems at all costs. By giving agents trust and confidence to make their own judgment, they will be able to deliver a fast, personalized customer experience without having to jump through any hoops. A team of support agents that deliver a fun and fast customer experience has the potential to be a huge competitive advantage during the holidays.
Desk.com customer, Bonobos has created a positive reputation for their company because of the amazing customer service that they provide. Here is what Senior Support Manager, Cole Sickler said about why they empower their agents:
By empowering our staff to do whatever they want to satisfy a customer they can jump to a workable solution immediately without having to get clearance or jump through any hoops."

5. Focus on Fast Resolution Times

Many customer service managers will advise that the biggest efficiency metric to focus on is an immediate first response time. Setting goals to reach a customer as soon as possible is a great way to make them happy because it assures them that support is reachable. However, bear in mind your team could consist of agents that pick up a phone within two rings or average an hour response time via email. But, if they require multiple contacts over a period of 2-3 days to solving each case, then your agents might not be as effective as you thought.
There are several ways to twist the gears to make sure agents can solve cases as fast as possible:
  • As mentioned earlier, triaging cases allow agents to quickly respond to easy, one-touch-resolution cases and escalate the higher priority ones that require more time and patience. 
  • Desk.com customers love using Macros to get simple questions answered fast and effectively. It’s also easy to train cross functional teams on which macros to apply where. 
  • Actively respond to cases with links to your knowledge base giving customers the opportunity to solve their own issue. HINT: This can be automated with Desk.com’s Macros.  
  • As also mentioned earlier, empower agents to solve cases at all costs. Rather than creating a bottleneck filled with cases that have not been resolved due to agents asking permissions from their managers, give them the freedom and resources to make the customer happy. 

6. Activate Whole Company Support

Rather than spending time and money on seasonal workers, consider activating whole company support - or cross-training fellow colleagues - for the busy holiday season. Whole company support provides more personnel that require little training as well as allows your system to be more resilient to the stress that will undoubtedly be experienced during the peak season.
First, you should equip all of your colleagues to answer basic questions customers may have (refer to the Holiday FAQ previously discussed). Then set up an escalation procedure for common situations that require additional steps or expertise from full-time agents. This tactic is particularly useful on busy days like Black Friday and the day after Christmas when all hands need to be on deck.
With basic training and some guidance, you can stack your support team with more personnel and make sure each customer receives a fast and personal response.

In Conclusion

 Тhe holidays are a stressful time for everyone - shoppers, retailers, service providers, and especially customer support agents! It’s important to remember, though, that at the end of the day, most of the insanity is being done to bring a smile to someone’s face.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Advice for Young Salespeople from 9 Sales Veterans

Much has changed in the sales game over the years, and much has stayed the same.
We asked these sales veterans for tips for the young salesperson.

Hunter
Questioning and listening skills are vital. Close behind that would be pricing integrity.
A young salesperson can learn a lot from veteran salespeople who not only genuinely listen to understand, but also are disciplined enough to not rely upon discounting.
Nothing is more vital to a salesperson’s career than their ability to question, listen and become keenly focused on the desired outcomes of the customer. Combine this with a strong commitment to the pricing structure, and the young salesperson is likely to experience success.
~ Mark Hunter, The Sales Hunter 

♦♦♦
Waldschmidt
NOTHING.  Except the hard-fought notion that success demands hard damn work.  Even if what you see is good for someone else, that doesn’t mean it is going to work for you.  Times change. Tactics change. People change.
So spend less time copying (or even learning) and more time pushing your limits.  Stop looking for a path forward and get good at leaving a trail.
Dan Waldschmidt



♦♦♦
Haken
Always prepare for each sales call, no matter how well you think you know the customer, no matter how successful a salesperson you become. Treat everyconversation you have as though it is the first time you met that customer, so that you listen to what is being said and remain engaged. In each meeting or conversation you have with customers and prospects, something has changed, something new is said, there are different circumstances surrounding the context of the meeting. It’s up to you to pick up these subtle differences. Be fully focused.
Nothing is ever the status quo, even when you think you are dealing with same-old, same-old. Listen with “new ears” and intercept new selling opportunities. Always bring some “news” to the table, as well: a trigger event impacting the industry, a piece of information about competitors relevant to your customer, an update about an HR issue from a few meetings back. If you remain “fresh”, both you and your customer will always be looking forward to your next meeting.
~ Babette Ten Haken, Sales Aerobics for Engineers

♦♦♦
Weinberg
If I had to pick one tactic, it would have to do with that supposed antiquated piece of equipment that still sits on most desks today: the telephone.
The telephone was invented way back in 1876 and until the past ten years or so, it was regarded and respected as an incredibly effective tool of the sales trade.
In spite of what many of the loud voices, false teachers, and Kool-Aid peddlers of today’s “Inbound Marketing Only” crowd are preaching, the old-fashioned proactive telephone call still works quite well when executed properly.
Pick up the phone. You’d be amazed what you can do with it – and what it can do for you!
~ Mike Weinberg, The New Sales Coach

♦♦♦
PorterRelationships do still matter and trust is everything. Top veterans have unparalleled style and charm. If you can combine their top qualities with those of the next generation technical seller, you’ll be crushing quotas in no time!
~ Kyle Porter, Sales Loft





♦♦♦
BarrowsWhichever ones that work.  As a young sales rep I would constantly ask questions and put myself in a position to learn from the best reps inside and outside the company. 
I would listen in on their calls and presentations, I would try to grab coffee or lunch with them and ask them about what they do that works.  I would write everything down and then try out the different ideas and techniques to see if I could fit them into my approach and make them my own .  Here’s a “tactic” that has made a huge difference for me in my career: set SMART goals and hold yourself accountable.
~ John Barrows
♦♦♦
IrreverentBe quiet. Be prepared. Be on time. Send a hand-written thank you note.
~ Dianna Smith, The Irreverent Sales Girl


  



♦♦♦
Keenan

That depends on who the expert is and where the young salesperson is in their career.  The advice I give is, just because someone has been around a longtime doesn’t mean they are good.  Find the best of the best and learn from them, regardless of how old they are and how long they’ve been selling.
~ Jim Keenan, A Sales Guy



♦♦♦
Iannarino
This question is a trap for me. Young salespeople are being sold the line that the things that used to work in sales no longer work. They're being told that social selling and inbound marketing have replaced the need to pick up the phone and call your dream client. I know this is unpopular. But there's an important lesson here.
The new tools, like social media, blogs, and LinkedIn, are merely amplifiers. They amplify what you already are. If you don't have both sales acumen and business acumen, the new tools amplify your inability to create value.
The veteran salesperson has the ability to create value for their clients. That's how they won those clients, and that's how they retained them. If you want to study what allowed the proven veteran to succeed, then study their ability to make a difference for their clients. Once you've done this, then you can transfer that value creation over to social selling. But until then, the best thing you can learn from the veteran is how to sell.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What is CRM?


You’ve probably heard the term “CRM” if you are a business owner or sales manager. But what does it really mean?

C-R-M stands for Customer Relationship Management. At its simplest, a CRM system allows businesses to manage business relationships and the data and information associated with them. With CRM, you can store customer and prospect contact information, accounts, leads and sales opportunities in one central location, ideally in the cloud so the information is accessible by many, in real time.

While a CRM system may not elicit as much enthusiasm these days as social networking platforms like Facebook or Twitter, any CRM system is similarly built around people and relationships. And that’s exactly why it can be so valuable for a fast-growing business.

Any business starts out with a foundation of great customer relationships. You, the seller, connect with people who need your product. Yet, as your company grows, these business connections grow more sophisticated. It’s not just a transaction between the buyer and seller. You start to manage a myriad of connections, across time, within each company you do business with. You need to share information across various teams within your own organization who are making contact with the same customers. A CRM system can serve as a vital nerve center to manage the many connections that happen in a growing business.

For small businesses, a CRM system may simply help you put your data in the cloud, making it accessible in real time, across any device. But as you grow, a CRM can quickly expand to include more sophisticated features to help teams collaborate with colleagues and customers, send customized emails, gather insights from social media conversations, and get a holistic picture of your business health in real time.

Today growing businesses manage customer connections and information in a variety of ways. Some use old fashioned note cards and Rolodex. Others store information on their mobile phone while on the go. Others use Excel spreadsheets or Google documents. While that may help in the short term when you have a small team and don’t plan on scaling your business, if you want to scale for fast growth, it may be time to consider a CRM system to help you collect your precious business data in one place, make it accessible via the cloud, and free up your time to focus on delighting customers rather than letting valuable insights and information fall through the cracks.

Wondering if your business would benefit from a CRM system? Contact us Today!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Email Marketing FAQs to Grow Your Small Business

While the effectiveness of email marketing has recently become a point of contention among marketers, a 2013 study by iContact confirms that email is still a worthwhile part of an SMB marketing strategy. With a sample size of 601 marketing decision makers, the study indicates that 91 percent of businesses find email marketing either helpful or very helpful to their organization, with 56 percent saying that they plan to increase their use of email marketing in the future.
Despite its success, email marketing isn’t always black and white. Questions about send times and email frequency are never far from a marketer’s mind, and the answers are often as frustrating as you would imagine: everything depends. An email send time for a B2C email is entirely different than a B2B email, and your email frequency often depends on the size of your database, the purpose of your emails, and the expectations that you set when prospects or clients are added to your email lists.
Luckily, many email marketing companies collect and analyze huge amounts of email data so that we can get answers to some of the most common email marketing questions. Let’s take a look at some of the most pressing issues surrounding email marketing, and see what the experts think about each.

What time should I send my email?

The best time to send an email is in the early afternoon, right after lunch (source). Why? Because emails sent in the morning are forced to compete with the usual barrage of early-morning emails. On a similar note, emails sent in the late afternoon risk getting pushed aside as your recipients finish up their day’s work and head home. Experiment with early afternoon send times to see if any specific time resonates with your audience. Then, start trying different days of the week.

What’s the best day to send an email?

The answer to this question varies greatly between B2C and B2B marketing. If you’re a B2C marketer, your email sweet spot might be the evenings or weekends, when your email recipients won’t be distracted by work emails. B2B marketers, on the other hand, want to avoid nights and weekends like the plague. For a B2B email, Tuesdays and Thursdays are often the most popular and most effective days for email sends; however, sending on either of these days also puts you at risk for greater competition in the inbox. Try sending an email on a Wednesday or Friday to see what kind of results you get, but try to avoid sending on Monday since your recipients will still be playing catchup.

How often should I send emails?

Email frequency can be tricky. While you want to send emails often enough that you stay top of mind, you don’t want to become annoying. Most of the businesses surveyed by iContact indicated that they email their entire lists on a monthly basis, and send segmented communications at least weekly (only 6% indicated that they email their entire list every day). Using the email marketing or marketing automation tools at your disposal, you can track the impact of email frequency on your opt-out and click-through rates. You can also automate your email marketing efforts based on timing or your recipients’ actions, ensuring that your campaigns are timed correctly and won’t overwhelm your recipients. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sales Discounts: Discounting the Price is Discounting the Value

Source

Sad to say, many salespeople get in the habit of using discounts to close deals. There are several reasons that this usually isn't a good idea.  First, the sales discount reduces your profit on the sale. Second, a discount implies that the best price wasn't offered first.  And finally, a discount "cheapens" the price/value of whatever you're selling in the mind of the customer.
It's much more effective to think of list pricing as something that you defend, rather than discount, according to Robert Nadeau of the Industry Performance Group.  He recommends the following process:

1. Identify What's Different

In order to justify paying a higher price for your offering, your customer will need to see either you, your offering and/or your company as different (and, specifically, better) than the competition.  There are six basic types of "differentiators":
  1. Feature. A characteristic or capability that your offering has and other products lack.
  2. Brand. An emotion uniquely tied to your company or offering.
  3. Convenience. Your offering is easier for the prospect to purchase and support than the competitor's.
  4. Quality. Your offering is higher of quality (lasts longer, works better, etc.) than the competitor's product.
  5. Commitment.  You're personally more committed to the customer relationship than the competition.
  6. Integration. Your offering works better with products that the prospect has purchased in the past.
The more differentiators that you can identify and articulate, the easier it is to defend your price.

2. Create a Financial Case

Now that you know what's different about your offering, tie each differentiator to one or more of the following five types of financial benefits:
  1. Increased revenues. How will your offering help the prospect improve their revenue? How much more product could they sell? How much are those extra sales worth to them?
  2. Decreased costs. How will your offering help reduce the prospect's costs? How much will they save in labor costs? How much will they save in overhead?
  3. Improved quality (of their own product). How will your offering help improve the quality of the prospect's offering? How much will they save in reworks, scrap, overtime, corrective action costs, and so forth?
  4. Faster delivery (of their own product). How will your offering improve the prospect's ability to deliver their own offering? How much will they save in canceled orders, expediting costs, air freight charges, and so forth?
  5. Lower risk. How will your offering reduce their exposure? How much will they save in penalties, legal fees, and litigation?
The bigger the financial impact of the problem and solution, the less relevant your price becomes.  And tying those benefits to your differentiators gradually pushes the other choices (specifically, the lower-priced competitors) entirely off the table.

3. Get Consensus on Financial Impact

Work with the prospect to get agreement on specific negative financial impacts of the problem that your offering solves.  Make sure the decision makers agree with the cost analysis.  The bigger the negative impact, the better the value.
Then work with the prospect to define all the ways that the problem that your solution addresses impacts their revenue and profit. Include direct costs, lost opportunity costs, personnel costs–whatever applies.
For example, if you can service your product at the customer's site within one hour and the low-cost competitors can only get provide within 24 hours, determine how much it would cost the customer to be without support for 23 hours.
Approaching a sales situation in this way gradually forces the competition out of the picture because it builds a financial case around what's unique about you and your product.  As you build the financial case, the prospect becomes convinced that only your product makes financial sense.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

How to Build an Ideal Sales Team

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You wouldn’t swap Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. It was a perfectly symbiotic relationship while they were in their respective positions. As the saying goes, “there’s a place for everything and everything in its place.” This is true of your sales team too. There are clear stages of the sales cycle: prospecting, qualifying, closing, and retaining. Not specializing your sales team results in inefficiency, unclear career paths, underdeveloped skill sets, low conversion, burned customer relationships...basically, your team will never reach its full potential.
"You will not be successful unless you have prospectors prospecting, closers closing, and inbound lead qualifying done by people in a dedicated qualifying role. If you do that, usually companies triple how fast a qualified lead is generated." – Aaron Ross, author of the bestselling book, Predictable Revenue
What does the ideal sales team look like? Here are the components.

Prospecting: Outbound Sales Rep

Your outbound sales rep has to conjure up new sales opportunities or garner interest from cold accounts. This person should be aggressive, discerning, affable, and efficient, and possessing strong business acumen. They should know the ins and outs of the customer’s business - what problems they encounter, which competitors pose the most threat and why.   

Qualifying: Inbound Sales Rep

One of the most broken steps in inbound marketing is the marketing to sales handoff of leads. Their primary function is to qualify leads generated by marketing activities - PR, advertising, social media, content marketing. With a salesperson specializing in understanding where the lead came from and what motivated them to engage with your business, you’ll experience higher conversion rates and opportunity. This person should be competent in marketing and sales, singularly empathetic, and creative enough to solve the problems of the prospect (with your products).

Closing: Account Executive

Without the previous two roles, the Account Executive wouldn’t have opportunities to close. By the time a lead has reached the AE, the lead has expressed a need for your product and ability to purchase. It’s on the AE to lock down that deal.

Retaining: Account Manager

The Account Manager is in charge of ensuring the customer’s success and securing renewals, all the while keeping an eye out for opportunities to upsell. It walks the line between sales and support.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

12 Ways To Maximize Leads with Whitepapers

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Many sites offer free white papers, case studies, or resources in exchange for visitor information. If you do this and your white paper doesn't contain valuable information, your visitors won’t download it.
You’re asking for something extremely valuable to both you and the visitor: their contact information. To get this valuable information, you need to show the visitor the value of what they’re downloading. So when they fill out the lead form, they feel they’re making a fair exchange: valuable information for valuable information. Here's how to do it.

1. Have an interesting title

 Would you rather read a white paper titled “Mobile Analytics” or “Why 90% of Your Mobile Visitors Aren’t Tracked”? The same technique that works for selling books, getting people to read blog posts, and attending webinars can significantly increase your white paper downloads. But don’t go for such an interesting name that no one knows what the paper is about. For borderline cases, a strong subtitle can bridge between interesting and descriptive. Here are 4 strategies to make your titles jump off the page.

2. Include a Cover

 Never judge a book by it’s cover, but people always do. Instead of just giving the white paper a title alone, merchandise it the way you would a book. Make it engaging. Keep in mind, many people prefer to download and print white papers before they read them. Which is more likely to catch someone’s attention on a busy, cluttered desk: a white paper with no cover or one with an engaging cover design?

 3. Make it easy to digest

 How often have you downloaded a white paper for it only to be long, block text? No headlines, sub-headline, or bullet points. No graphics, charts, or screenshots. People are busy. It’s fine to make a long white paper if the topic deserves it, but please make it reader-friendly.
4. Tell them what they are going to get
 Write persuasive copy that not only informs people what they’ll learn from the download, but also what they can do with the information. Make sure this copy is crisp, simple to read, and formatted for online readers. You may want to offer key takeaways, a table of contents, or even an example chart to show them how valuable the paper is going to be.

5. Give the download details

 Let users know the file format (PDF, DOC), file size and number of pages before they download.

6. Include an excerpt

 Very few people like reading poorly written, monotonous sounding, corporate gobbledygook. By providing an excerpt, you can help prove how well-written, easy to understand, and valuable your white paper is.

7. Prove other people like it

 Like endorsements on a book cover, credible testimonials on the landing page of your white paper can help sell the value of the content and improve conversion.

8. Don’t ask for too much information

 Make sure your forms are optimized to require only what you really need. There is an inverse relationship between leads and form fileds. This requires testing to determine the proper mix of lead quantity versus lead quality and some cooperation between marketing and sales.

9. Explain what will happen with their personal information

 Provide users with point of action assurances around their privacy and what will happen after they fill out your whitepaper request form.

10.  Make it easy to share

 Give users an easy mechanism for them to share your white paper via social media, email, etc. Visitors are most engaged when they are already downloading the white paper, so a suggestion for them to share it often helps. Don’t forget to add shareable links within the white paper itself.

11.  Have a follow-up program

Let’s face it, you created your white paper and offered it for download in order to get leads. The money is in the list, but the money is not only in the list. The point of collecting leads, that is names, email addresses and other demographically identifiable information, is to use those as a basis for getting to understand your customers better. Study their behavior to understand what makes your customers tick and to build better profiles and segments to have more meaningful interactions.  That means the white paper has to generate a response or conversation. Making your white paper interesting, actionable, and readable will help, but you’ll be far more successful getting responses if you initiate the post-download interactions and follow-up conversations through a well-planned lead nurturing campaign.

12.  Offer contact information

Some people actually prefer to contact you immediately upon finding the white paper, so make sure your contact information is on the download page. Others prefer to contact you as they are reading the white paper, so make sure your contact information is found there as well. I like adding simple contact information in the footer of my white papers. Others just feel a sense of confidence knowing you are providing your full contact information and not trying to remain anonymous while asking for their personal information. In simple terms, make it easy for them to find your contact information everywhere.
These are a few tips that I find useful. What other techniques have you tried to increase leads from white paper requests?

http://www.frontrow-solutions.com/

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

10 Ways to Ruin a Customer Meeting

Source

Customer visits are expensive–and if you don't make a sale, your time and travel expense has been wasted. Make sure you're at your best during face-to-face meetings by avoiding these common errors:

1. Be late to the meeting.

If you don’t arrive on time, it tells the customer that you don’t give a hoot about them or their time. Always arrive 15 minutes ahead of time. If you drive to calls, get a GPS device to make sure you won't get lost en route.

2. Fail to check your appearance.

Don’t show up with something amiss–spinach in the teeth, lipstick smeared–that could have been headed off by a quick stop in the client’s bathroom. Make a quick pit stop before the call, and give yourself a once-over.

3. Act too friendly. 

You'll just seem phony and "sales-y" if you pretend that a prospect is like a long-lost friend. Approach each prospect with respect and courtesy–not with a glad-hand and a back slap.

4. Talk more than you listen.

Sales calls are about relationship building and gathering information. You can’t do either of those if your mouth is moving all the time. Get curious about the customer. Ask questions.

5. Argue with the customer.

If the customer doesn’t agree with an important point, arguing is only going to set that opinion in concrete. Instead, ask the customer why he holds that opinion; then listen.  You might learn something.

6. Give a sales pitch. 

Sure you’ve got something to sell–but nobody wants to hear a sales pitch. Have a discussion about the customer's needs; then, if appropriate, discuss what you've got to sell.

7. Fall short on product knowledge.

No prospect wants to hear, “I need to get back to you about that” over and over. Make sure you’re trained on your current products and policies before the call.  It's the least you can do.

8. Get distracted by your phone.

No call, email, or message is more important than the real live person in front of you. When you're talking with a prospect, turn off your phone and, if you're using a tablet, disable email alerts.

9. Let the meeting meander.

The customer's time is valuable.  Don't have wandering conversation that slowly gets to the point. Instead, provide a brief agenda of what you're there to discuss, and be sure you stick to that agenda.

10. Overstay your welcome.

Your prospect has hundreds of other things that he or she could be doing, rather than spending time with you. Set a time limit for the meeting and stick to it.

http://www.frontrow-solutions.com/

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

25 Social Media Stats About Your Customers

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Being a customer company starts with understanding how your customers use social media. And while we all know that the number of social media users, channels, time spent and content created is rising, it's important to understand how your customers are using these platforms. So we did the research for you with 25 social media stats about customers just like yours.
  • 76% of Twitter users post status updates. (The Social Habit)
  • 10 million minutes of Skype calls happen every day. (Brandwatch)
  • Google’s +1 button is used 5 million times a day. (Huffington Post)
  • 23% of Facebook’s users check their account five or more times every day. (The Social Habit)
  • There are 2.7 billion “likes” per day. (Digital Trends)
  • 80% of Pinterest users are female. (Huffington Post)
  • 18-29 year olds tend to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. (Pew Internet Research)
  • 42% of users update their LinkedIn profile information regularly. (Socialtimes)
  • 80% of users prefer to connect with brands on Facebook. (Huffington Post)
  • Users with a college degree are less likely than those with some college to use social media. (Pew Internet Research)
  • 2 million blog posts are published every day. (Brandwatch)
  • Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber are still the most followed members of Twitter with a combined 71.9 million followers. (Twitter Counter)
  • Every second, a new user signs up on Instagram. (Digital Trends)
  • 12% of users have looked for deals on social media using their smartphones. (AllTwitter)
  • More than 20 million US users have their birthday and year included in their Facebook profile. (Mediabistro)
  • There are 3,480 photos uploaded to Instagram every minute. (Digital Trends)
  • 58% of social gamers are over 40 years old. (Digital Buzz Blog)
  • 82% of users come to a website to get an issue resolved. (LivePerson)
  • 1.3 billion phone apps have been downloaded on both Apple and Android devices. (Digital Trends)
  • About 1 in 3 bloggers are moms. (Hubspot)
  • 40% of people spend more time socializing online than they do face-to-face. (AllTwitter)
  • Facebook posted a 67% year-over-year mobile growth rate. (AllFacebook)
  • 60% of LinkedIn users have clicked on an ad. (Socialtimes)
  • More than 10% of Wiebo users are not from China. (Mediabistro)
  • 71% of consumers expect assistance within five minutes of entering a website. (LivePerson)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

4 Keys to Open the Door to More B2B Sales

Do you wish that your salespeople were better at closing? Or that their sales forecasts were more accurate?  Are you frustrated that apparently well-qualified opportunities end up with the prospect deciding to do nothing? If so, you’re not alone. I hear these complaints all the time.

These sound like classic “bottom of funnel” challenges. But when I take a closer look at many of these situations, more often than not the real problem lies elsewhere - not at the bottom of the funnel, but at the top. When salespeople repeatedly struggle to close opportunities, the issue often lies with how they started the sale, and not with how they are trying to close it.

It’s not how well you close, it’s how well you open

Don’t get me wrong. Salespeople need to be able to close. It’s an important skill - but it’s not enough, and no amount of closing skill can compensate for the failure to qualify the opportunity accurately, or for the inability to influence the buying decision process from an early stage in the cycle.

Losing to “no decision” is particularly galling. Being defeated by the status quo is just as unproductive as being defeated by a conventional competitor. Inertia is just as powerful an enemy as the organization you’re wrestling with for market share.

You can expect your prospects to be asking themselves, “why should I change at all?”or “why should I change now?” and “why should I change to you?” Here are a handful of strategies that could enable you to swing the odds in your favor:

1. Your prospect must have a compelling reason to do something

You can engage prospects in conversation about issues that are interesting to them. You can get them to evaluate your solution if it appears to address an important issue. But unless they have a critical reason do actually do something, odds are they will stick with the status quo. Have you established a compelling case for change?

2. Engage a sponsor who is a mobilizer, and not just a talker

It’s easy to assume that you’re on the right track if you are engaged with a helpful, supportive sponsor. But unless your sponsor has the power, authority and respect necessary to successfully catalyze change within their organization, chances are the decision will be to “do nothing.”

3. Be positioned as the least risky of all available options

It used to be said that “nobody got fired for buying IBM”. Today’s more common sentiment is that “nobody got fired for not sticking their neck out”. Buyers have become more risk averse. If you’re going to win, you need to emerge as the least risky of all their available options, including simply staying as they are.

4. Continuously re-qualify the opportunity

Even if the opportunity initially looks promising, you’ve got to coach and encourage your sales people to continuously re-evaluate each sales situation. Is the prospect’s need critical? What are the odds of them doing anything? What are the chances of doing it with us? And - last but not least - will the effort be worth it?
If your sales organization embraces this discipline, you’ll probably find that a lot more deals drop out early in the sales cycle. The total value of your pipeline may even seem to go down. But your revenue potential will have risen, perhaps dramatically. Well-qualified, well-managed opportunities will close naturally, and at a predictable time.

And because your sales people will be opening up and managing opportunities in a much more effective, they (and you) will be fretting a lot less about their closing skills. You might like to start by identifying your idea customer profiles, and embedding this into a progressive approach to opportunity qualification.
 
Source

Thursday, September 26, 2013

10 Lessons in Customer Satisfaction

From 1992 to 2009, I ran online survey companies Decisive Technology and CustomerSat. Here are ten customer satisfaction lessons I learned in those 17 years:

1. Timeliness is critical to every customer.

No matter the industry or touchpoint, timeliness of response is becoming ever more important as a driver of overall satisfaction. The reasons: business is moving ever faster; waiting is frustrating; attention spans are declining; and speedy responses eliminate uncertainty.

2. Focus increases satisfaction.

American General sells just life insurance; 21stCentury, just auto insurance.  Both enjoy higher satisfaction than other companies that sell many types. Serving one set of customers well is hard enough; serving many different customer sets is much harder. Execs at those businesses can’t be as familiar with the requirements of each customer set; they misestimate or misunderstand requirements; and use precious resources and time trading-off one set for another.

3. Satisfaction scores vary widely among attributes.

A 7.5 on a 10-point scale can be high for one attribute but low for another. “Courtesy and professionalism” may be a full point higher than “how well your representative knows my company.” Human-based attributes like these tend to get higher scores than inanimate ones such as documentation. People are more willing to criticize processes and technology than humans.

4. Benchmarks make metrics meaningful and actionable.

By itself, a score of 7.5 conveys little, even if we know that standard deviation is .6. But adding that the relevant benchmark score is 8.1 reveals that performance is one full standard deviation below benchmark.  That tells us a great deal.
Benchmarks let us more effectively prioritize areas of improvement. If our smart phone scores 7.7 in compactness and 7.3 in style, it might appear that style deserves higher priority.  But, if for all brands in the target market, the norm is 7.0 for style and 8.0 for compactness, our scores relative to benchmarks are -.3 on compactness and +.3 on style, giving a very different picture.

5. Every corporate unit benefits.

With today’s feedback systems, teams, departments and business units can all be held accountable for their satisfaction performance and can take immediate and targeted action when problems arise. These enterprise-wide benefits are elevating Customer Advocacy and its importance in organizations, in some cases to the office of the COO.

6. Behavioral data is trumping survey data.

Behaviors include how and when customers make purchases; calls to technical support; attendance at training courses and webinars; “Likes” of Facebook pages; Tweets and re-Tweets; paths walked in retail store aisles; and body language and facial expressions. The number of ways we can track these behaviors – including GPS, cams, motion detectors, RFID tags, and a growing variety of micro-sensors – is skyrocketing. Gathering behaviors typically requires no respondent cooperation. Since survey response rates are falling at the same time, expect to see surveys increasingly becoming tools to validate and interpret behavioral data rather than ends in themselves.

7. Track market share.

Mainframes, fax machines, and travel agencies all enjoyed high customer satisfaction ratings as they lost market share over the last three decades. The last holdouts of a product or service are often the most loyal and satisfied. So track market share as well as satisfaction.

8. Use many metrics.

No one would want to be a passenger in a plane whose pilot had only a single gauge in the cockpit. Similarly, multiple metrics – financial, customer, employee, and market – provide the most complete picture of your business. Any claim that this or that is the “only metric you’ll ever need” is nonsense.

9. Customer advocacy goes through fads.

These including service quality, expectations, loyalty, customer value analysis, six sigma, NPS, and customer engagement over the last two decades. Some of these have little merit but survive by dint of marketing and simplicity; others are rigorous but have relatively few users due to complexity.  The customer metric that has best withstood the test of time is – you guessed it – satisfaction.

10. Feedback truly makes a difference.  

Customer feedback can improve dozens of decisions large and small: product features and positioning, service quality, staffing, organization, order management, even mergers and acquisitions. The evidence from many sources is overwhelming: companies that consistently measure and act on customer feedback really do perform better.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

30 Inspirational Content Marketing Quotes from Experts


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Ready to get inspired to create great content? Last week Content Marketing World dominated Cleveland, Ohio with marketers from around the globe including experts such as Joe Pulizzi, Ann Handley, Jay Baer, Lee Odden and many, many more. We collected their inspirational quotes during the conference, creating this post and this free poster below.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Number 1 Way to Close Twice as Many Deals

Source

If you’re among those who think referral selling doesn’t scale, consider this: B2B sales representatives report that referrals generate at least twice as many closed deals as marketing-generated leads, according to Sales Benchmark Index

In addition,
referral programs generate 300 to 400 percent more ROI than all other campaigns combined.
Yes, referrals rock! But, you must earn the right to ask for them.

Start by Earning Trust

People do business with people they know, like, and trust. You would never refer someone who doesn't meet these three criteria. Referral selling is very personal. Your reputation is on the line when you vouch for people. So you need to trust that they will take as good care of your contacts or clients as you would, that they'll follow up, that they will add value to the discussion, and that they will act with integrity. This is why you must earn the right to ask for referrals. So where do you start?

You’ve Already Earned the Right With…

Existing clients are our best—and often most under-leveraged—source of referrals. With them, we have already earned the right to ask, because they:
  • Know first-hand the value of our solutions
  • Can attest to the ROI they’ve received from working with us
  • Trust us (or else they wouldn’t do business with us)
You don’t even have to wait until your solution is implemented and producing ROI.

You can ask:

  • During the sales process when you’ve added value
  • When your client has thanked you
  • Those with whom you and your team interact during the implementation process

If You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get

Your work may speak for itself, but your clients probably won’t—unless you ask. Many salespeople expect satisfied customers to automatically refer them. But here's the deal: your clients have their own businesses to worry about. They have a lot of competing issues, systems to upgrade, leadership challenges to meet, and a myriad of other decisions to make every day. You are just not top of mind for them.
You might be surprised by how willing your clients are to help you. All you have to do is ask.

Where Else Have You Earned the Right?

You have tons of people in your network—former and current colleagues, other salespeople, workout partners, good friends, your CPA, bankers, or attorneys. Begin with those with whom you have the best relationships. Never assume someone won’t make a great referral source. You never know who others know … until you ask.

Cut to the Chase

Remember to ask for an introduction, not just a name and contact info. When you receive a referral introduction, your prospect expects your call. He knows about you and why it’s beneficial for the two of you to talk. You begin the conversation “knowing about” each other. When you make referral selling your go-to strategy for business development and your No. 1 sales priority, you reduce your cost of sales, shorten your sales cycle, and convert prospects into clients more than 50 percent of the time. Why would you work any other way? For more on how to build and leverage your referral network, read “Your New Referral Network: It’s Always About the People You Know.”

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Marc Benioff: Win Customers by Treating Them Like Partners

Source

For all of you sales leaders out there, here is an excerpt from CEO Marc Benioff's book "Behind the Cloud." This time, Marc delves into The Sales Playbook and offers us a look at winning over your first customers by treating them like partners. 
 
Thanks to our developers’ talent and our earliest test users’ guidance, we developed a quality beta application. Finally, it was time to go out and win actual customers. Suddenly, we stumbled upon our newest and biggest test: making people comfortable putting their most sensitive data (proprietary customer lists) on our servers. Everyone was concerned about security breaches. It was challenging to convince prospects to try our service, and it was especially challenging to convince the first one. Most people don’t want to be the first to take a giant risk. Realizing that truism was pivotal. We finessed our strategy to target pioneers who saw an opportunity to participate in something new and exciting.

That first pioneer came in the form of Blue Martini Software, one of the small software companies in which I had previously invested. I knew I was asking for a favor when I called the founder, Monte Zweben, but I also knew I was offering something that he really needed. Monte’s sales team was using spreadsheets and wanted a CRM system, but it couldn’t afford traditional enterprise software. Blue Martini also needed a service without the complexities of enterprise software, because Monte wanted his sales team to be focused on selling, not getting a system up and running.

Monte floated the idea of using our new service by his sales force (the end users), and they immediately embraced it. Blue Martini (which has since been acquired and is now known as Escalate Retail) became our first customer in August 1999. The service was up and running within two weeks—not the months or years by which other software implementations were measured. Even better, Blue Martini did not have to make a million-dollar investment.

We did not have a formal sales organization at this time so in our quest for early customers, everyone on the salesforce.com team was encouraged to contact anyone he or she knew in any industry, or at any start-up. Diane Mark, our product manager, won our second client while she was standing in line at the local market, Mollie Stone’s. She ran into a former colleague who was working as a sales manager at iSyndicate, a company that sold syndicated content over the Web. She asked him what the company used to manage its sales process.

“ACT! And Excel,” he replied. “It’s a mess.”
After a short meeting with the iSyndicate executives, they signed on as our second customer. By September, we had five pilot customers using salesforce.com for free. They were more like beta customers, but I called them design partners to recognize their real contributions.

Our design partners’ insights were essential to the development of our application. We contacted them frequently to discuss their experience using the service, and they became the eyes and ears of the engineering team. They discovered features and tools and functionalities that they needed. We added a button that allowed any user to immediately send us an idea, and we could react very quickly. We created “bugforce,” a scaled-down database to track bugs and new ideas, which helped us rate the frequency of the problems or requests. The development team built all additional functionality in a very short time—a matter of weeks, which was unheard of in the industry. Being small, nimble, and in constant communication with our earliest customers is what enabled us to produce a terrific service.

In fall 1999, once we had honed the service into something of measurable value to customers, we hired our first dedicated salesperson (and fifteenth employee) to help acquire additional free users and to convert our free users into paying customers. The plan worked exactly as intended. Blue Martini soon started paying for the service. Before long, Colo.com, a datacenter provider, was paying for twenty-five sales reps to use salesforce.com and touting our service in the press, explaining that it cost a fraction of a traditional enterprise product.

Our conversion strategy was successful for several reasons. First, through the free trial, prospects had already experienced the service, and they knew it worked. Second, it was a very low risk proposition because the service was billed monthly and there was freedom to change the plan or quit without any penalties. Third, it was such a good product that users became addicted. They needed it.

Go from Adoption to Addiction with a Feedback Loop

Be open to including all customers, and treat them as partners. To do so, utilize a fast and prioritized “feedback loop.”
  1. Stay in touch with customers.
  2. Develop a way to track their requests.
  3. Respond to their requests quickly.
  4. Ask if their needs have been satisfactorily met.
  5. Pay attention to how they are using the product.
This is an excerpt from Marc Benioff's book "Behind the Cloud."

Friday, August 30, 2013

Are You Making These Cold Calling Mistakes?

Cold calling is hard. But you might be making it harder.

You work your tail off, but you are striking out. What you had once chalked up to a cold streak of poor leads and bad luck might actually be a series of bad mistakes you're making on your sales calls.

Stop making these 10 cold calling mistakes now and see your sales results improve.

1. You are insincere

You may not mean to do this but you may come off sounding insincere. It’s painfully obvious to the buyer or potential customer when reps sound insincere or disingenuous. Instead of making unrealistic promises you know you can’t keep, offer rational fact-based reasons as to how you can help the buyer.

2. You're overconfident

Similarly, don’t rave on and on about how superior your product is. You may be passionate but this could be misinterpreted as boasting. Nobody wants to hear such aimless bragging. Instead, within the first minute of connecting with a prospect, you should communicate why your product is great for them specifically.

3. You sound like a robot

You may be new and innocent. And this isn’t to say that call scripts are bad. Rather, reading robotically and sticking rigidly to the script is immediately obvious to your prospect and will turn them off from whatever you are saying.
Learn the script but speak like a human.

4. You talk too much

As a sales rep, you want to be helpful. Many talk too much thinking they should tell the prospect as much as possible. This backfires and bombards potential customers with tons of information and minutiae without addressing their specific pain points. Stop talking and start listening. After all, this is why you have two ears and one mouth. Ask questions, learn about the prospect’s needs, and be helpful.

5. You lack confidence

If a sales rep isn't confident, how can the prospect be expected to have confidence in him or her? Exuding or projecting confidence through a sales call requires practice, knowledge and desire to be helpful. You know you possess all three so be confident.

6. You aren't prepared

If you fail to prepare then prepare to fail.
The adage is as old as it is true. Don’t put yourself in that position. Make sure you have all the information before your sales call. It’s easy. There is no excuse for this today. You have the ability to get informed from sources such as Google, social networks, and your trusty CRM system.

7. You have "happy ears"

Sales reps should have real expectations about their chances with prospects. Everything is a funnel and not all of your leads (or even opportunities) will end up closing. So don’t waste your time pitching or pursuing prospects that are unqualified or have little interest.
A fast no is better than a slow maybe.

8. You are as clear as mud

Have a clear message for the prospect and know it before you pick up the phone. You need to articulate your benefits crisply within the first 30 seconds of the call or you will surely lose their interest.

9. You don't set next steps

Just because an initial sales call is successful does not mean the deal is done. It is critical that reps get a buy in on the next steps in the buying process. The prospect will not follow up with you. Your job is to discuss and get agreement on the next steps - that’s why you are in sales.

10. You aren't measuring

If you are not using metrics to measure your call effectiveness then you will not know how to improve. Also, ask your manager for sales coaching based on what you measure from your call performance. No rep is perfect and your sales manager can analyze your calls with you and will help coach you with metrics.