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Whenever a salesperson asks me about the “best” time to implement a price increase, my quick answer is, “Right now!”

Of course, after I say this, the salesperson wants me to back up my response, which is a good opportunity for me to tell them that whenever they take a rate increase, how they do it matters immensely!

When you take a price increase, you must do it with confidence.

Sadly, some salespeople are not even confident about their current pricing, let alone a higher price.  And to compound the matter, the salesperson thinks if they put off taking a price increase, some how the price increase will get easier “down the road” and the customer will respond with fewer objections.

That’s rarely the case.

Sure, you could wait, but ironically what happens is that you begin believing that you can never take the increase (which isn’t realistic at all)!

What happens by waiting is that you just end up losing that much more revenue.

As for when to take an increase, I believe you can do it when any of the following conditions occur:

1.  A competitor has gone up in price.

2.  You’ve incurred an increase in your costs.

3.  Your customers have just raised their prices.

4.  Other key players in the industry are increasing their prices.

These four reasons are “market factors,” and a sales force needs to be aware of them and how they impact pricing and revenue.

However, just because you can take a price increase when one or more of the above variables appears doesn’t mean you always should.  It merely means the marketplace is giving you permission to do so.

The additional factors you need to consider are what I call “value factors.”

The below questions will help you identify the real reasons why you would want to increase your prices. These are all focused upon your customer’s desired outcomes and how what you offer meets those outcomes.

1.     Has your customer experienced added value from using your products and/or services in the past year?

2.     Is your customer going to be experiencing added value from what you provide them in the year to come?

3.     Are there improvements in service or performance you can document that your customer would see value in?

4.     Will you be able to increase your strategic importance to your customer in the year to come?

5.     Can you show your customer how what you provide them will give them a competitive advantage or minimize their risk in the year to come?

These are the real reasons why you can take a price increase.  When you are able to demonstrate added value to your customer, it is easier to present an increase in price.

Yes, there could very well be other strategic or even tactical reasons why you would not want to take the price increase, even though you could take it.  You will be able to discern these reasons only after assessing your overall business plan.

Price increases are a part of the selling industry, as every consumer knows, whether that consumer is in a B2C environment or B2B environment.

My perspective is you should diligently and routinely review your pricing structure to determine when a price increase is wise.  If more companies followed this approach, I believe they would take more price increases (and they would be justified in doing so).

Being proactive not only guards your bottom-line, but also provides you some protection should there be unavoidable price increases on the production or operation side of what you offer.

The more confident and comfortable you become in your pricing – including your price increases – the less likely you will be to devote precious energy to worrying about your pricing.  That energy is better spent when you show how what you offer meets your customer’s needs and desired benefits.

The pricing structure that is best for your company will always be closely tied to the value you bring your customer.

Copyright 2014, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price.

Many times the sale is won or lost based on the ability of you, the salesperson, to develop an effective relationship.

This applies whether it be B2B or B2C.

Having an effective relationship with the customer can go a long ways to closing the sale and, more importantly, to closing sale after sale through an on-going relationship.

Below are 11 tips you can do right now to help you build better relationships with your prospects and customers.

As you read the list, you’ll see not only does it apply in sales situations, but also in every situation you encounter (professional or personal).  I shared this list with a sales audience recently and a person immediately stated how they realized the list would work with their spouse too.

1. Show respect of the other person when they’re talking.

2. Follow-through on what you say you will do.

3. Compliment the ideas and recommendations shared by the other person.

4. Share with the other person information about yourself.

5. Help the other person achieve their goals and objectives.

6. Be open and honest.

7. Start each conversation by referencing something from a previous meeting.

8. Allow the other person to hold you accountable.

9. Accept responsibility.

10. Never share with another person something shared in confidence with you.

11. Your body language must match what you’re saying.

As you review the list, did you notice one or two you do well and one or two you should work on?

Use the list as a reminder of what it takes to have quality relationships.

In so doing, you’ll quickly realize the people you do have quality relationships with have most likely demonstrated the same 11 characteristics to you also.

Source: Copyright 2014, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog.

Articles and Write up / 7 Keys to Successful Negotiating
« on: March 27, 2014, 06:26:09 PM »
7 key things you can start doing right now to improve your negotiating skills:

1. Be prepared to walk away. Have 100% confidence you can and will do it if necessary.

Too many salespeople fall victim to getting chiseled down on price one small step at a time. Ultimately, they agree to an offer that simply doesn’t make sense.  You have to know your walk-away point.

2. Make sure the person you’re negotiating with is the one who can and will make the decision.

Nothing will undermine a negotiation more than thinking you have an agreement, only to hear from the other party they now need to go to someone else to see what they think.

3. Only negotiate when the other party has rejected your offer at least 2 times.

Agreeing to make concessions too quickly only results in one thing — losing credibility and losing profit.  A better approach?  Sell first and negotiate second.

During the selling process is when you uncover the customer’s real needs. Understanding those needs are key if and when you do have to negotiate.

4.  Before you even start negotiating, know how the other party values time and the timeline in which they intend to make a decision.

Time is the ultimate negotiation tool. It’s amazing how powerful it can be when the other party is under pressure to make a deal.  People who aren’t in a rush to make a decision can be the most difficult to negotiate with.

5.  Know your list of things on which you may be willing to concede if you get something of equal or more value in return.

Just like when you go grocery shopping… if you have a list, you’ll spend less. Having your list will keep you focused.

6. Know at least 3 critical needs the customer has that you can leverage in your negotiations.

There is no way you can negotiate successfully if you don’t know what the other party values.   Three is the minimum number. Ideally, if you’ve engaged the customer in the selling process, you’ll have a much larger list of needs.

7. Be confident and believe in what you have to offer.

Your outcome is going to be a direct result of the level of confidence you have going into the negotiation process.

Following the above steps will help increase your level of confidence.  In the end, it’s what you choose to believe that will ultimately determine your level of confidence.

Copyright 2014, Mark Hunter

A decade ago, “sales-marketing alignment” was not a phrase on the tips of our tongues every time we entered a conversation about lead generation and revenue. But it is now. With the advent of platforms like social media and sales and marketing automation, we often see a blurred line where marketing stops and sales begins.

Traditionally, customer data wasn’t centralized and each organization had a different view into their customers and prospects. But as both sales and marketing organizations recognize a clear need to understand their prospects at a deeper, more analytical level, these teams are starting to employ a holistic data strategy.

Big data (read: expansive data sets that are difficult to navigate at the user level) should be replaced by small data. For the unfamiliar, small data implies data sets that can inform daily business decisions and are appropriate for end-user consumption. While your sales reps might be adept at analyzing data, we know it’s not that common and definitely not a good use of time when meeting quota is massively important to your quarterly revenue goals.

Business analyst Rand Schulman knows the ins and outs of big data — so we asked him to make a case for small data in sales and marketing. In the Q&A session outlined below, we talked with Rand about how the shift from big data to small data calls for precision and accuracy. When the rubber hits the road, it doesn’t matter how many leads you have. Your stellar marketing message or sales introduction won’t even make it to first base if your data is unreliable.

Want to learn more about data, big and small? Check out this helpful article: “Little Data Vs. Big Data – Nine Types of Data and How They Should Be Used.”

For over two decades Rand Schulman’s area of interest and success has been in building organizations and products that disrupt old sectors and forge new ones. He was founder and CEO of one of the first SaaS-based web-analytics companies, Keylime Software (Yahoo!), and he led products and strategy at Webtrends. His trajectory also includes CMO of WebSideStory (Omniture/Adobe) through its IPO, general manager of Unica’s Internet Division (IBM), and founding board member / director emeritus of the DAA. He’s been a trustee of the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation and is an executive-in-residence at the University of the Pacific for New Media and Marketing.

Rand is currently board member and advises numerous mobile and social media companies, including Qualcomm and SRI on big data topics, and is a managing partner with Efectyv Digital.

Rand will be speaking on multiple points regarding the value and quality of small data for sales and marketing in a one-hour webinar next month. Stay tuned for details about “Doing Small Data In a BIG Way.”

You recently published an insightful article called “Your Small Data Just Sucks.” Can you share your a bit more about the importance of small data to sales and marketing organizations?

Rand:  Yes, big data has been quite the buzz word out there, but we really need to recognize the value in small data too. That’s where we get the biggest bang – smaller data sets that provide users with more digestible information.

Just a few weeks ago, I was in my office working on a targeted email when I realized something so essential — and it’s a bit embarrassing to admit — as a data-driven marketing guy, you’d think I’d realize the most basic building block of any conversion starts with accurate “top of the funnel” CRM contact data. With garbage in, you only get garbage out.

As salespeople and marketers struggle with all of the new data tools, we need to better understand how the small data we’re using drives sales effectiveness. Without good contact information, these systems are just plain dumb and they cost us more than they help. According to Gartner, contact information ages up to 50 percent in any year, becoming inaccurate and out of date, only serving to compound the issue. The top of the funnel data just has to be solid. And as salespeople and marketers, we have to be agile.

It is important to note that most vendors claim their data is the best. They often toss out words like “comprehensive” or “most.” When we hear this, we are highly skeptical and instead tell clients that they need to understand the specific claims and look at the numbers that support the claims. Remember the shape of the lead funnel? It’s wider at the top. A perfect funnel would look more like a rectangle, with high conversion rates flowing down each step toward revenue (plus a little drop off). Poor quality data, wastes time and has a huge opportunity cost associated with it. More leads and better conversion is good, while more leads and poor conversion is bad. Thus, attaining a successful funnel is not about how many contacts or names you generate, it’s about what converts to revenue at the bottom of the funnel.

What are the different data segments you consider critical to use when creating quality small data sets for leads?

Rand:  There are several benchmarks we use to categorize content, or data. I generally think of these methodologies in the following segments of data: content collection; content triangulation, and content checking.

Though no one type is perfect and “truth” is relative, an objective set of accuracy benchmarks can provide a factual comparison. Various companies apply different methodologies. I’ve found that the data gathering model comparison matrix on is very informative.

And why do you consider content collection a critical piece of small data segmentation?

Rand:  The first benchmark, content collection, is the requirement to collect multiple sources of truth. As any reporter knows, it’s critical to ask the same question of many people. Since a human is not scalable over millions of records, we need to use technology to do that. Additionally, it’s critical to make sure more than a single data-gathering engine is collecting content. For example, crowdsourcing is great for breadth but tends to lack accuracy. Editorial, like the WSJ or NYT, is great for accuracy, but lacks breadth.

We tend to categorize content collection into four principal areas: 1) editorial aggregation of content from sources like the WSJ and NYT, 2) social media sources, like Twitter feeds and Facebook posts, 3) web crawling, which is good for finding out what web sites are reporting about people and company events, and 4) crowdsourcing, using the “wisdom of the crowds” to filter and create truth (i.e. Yelp, Jigsaw).

We know that incorrect data/results leads to wasted budget and lost time. Acknowledging that each method of content collection produces different results, can you describe the next step in the data segmentation process?

Rand:   After it’s collected, the data has to be triangulated and filtered. As I’ve said, having more than one source is required for ensuring powerful and accurate data. We need technology that can reconcile multiple data sources and scale across millions of records, merging only the most recent and most accurate pieces of company and contact data into a single record. I believe that this is a key area where vendor technology, using NLP, is a requirement to determine content’s “truthfulness.”

 Many vendors offer some kind of data technology, and we recommend that the data buyer (and the end user) perform their own benchmark tests on their own content, people, company and event information to determine quality. It’s not easy to do, but you can ask the vendor if they have conducted these tests and check out their results.

How can you create rules around triangulation and filtering this data, and why can’t you skip that step?

Rand:   Some vendors have created very effective triangulation logic. One of the most sophisticated approaches we have come across uses “entity triangulation”– algorithms that are based on both human judgment and machine learning. In the security and email deliverability fields, this is known as “reputation systems.” Editorial experts analyze vast sample files to assess the accuracy of different sources. This is done at both the overall vendor level (vendor X is more accurate than vendor Y) and the individual field level (vendor Y provides the most accurate data for specific field Z). The end result is that for any given field of data, on any given company or contact record, the algorithm can present the best available information. The end result is that the marketer or salesperson no longer has to compare multiple sources of data and try to make sense of conflicting information all by themselves. It is now automated.

And lastly, you mentioned that there must be a validation process. Can you describe the data validation process?

Rand:   There’s less magic in validation – it’s more about blocking and tackling. That said, vendors go to different lengths to validate data (and yes, some don’t bother at all!).

Several vendors use basic validation technologies such as email deliverability testing, which will “ping” an email service to confirm the existence of an email address (without actually sending a spam email). Some vendors rely on crowdsourcing via services like CrowdFlower or Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to evaluate specific information that can benefit from human judgment. Finally, just a few vendors use their own editorial experts to manually verify user-contributed data and conflicting information that has been flagged for review by end users or surfaced automatically by algorithms. Generally speaking, review and verification by an editorial expert is the last filter. The buck stops there.

Why is “Small Data” quality so important?

Rand:   We’ve analyzed vendor data accuracy results many times, testing with different contacts and companies. A great percentage of the time fundamental results were different between vendors, and they showed incorrect or conflicting titles, email addresses, phone numbers and other basic information which leads to poor conversion rates.

Can you share a specific example of one of your tests?

Rand:   At Efectyv Digital, we tested a few of the popular sales effectiveness tools to see why our conversion rates were so low. It didn’t take us long to confirm, as we suspected, that our data just sucked and we needed to start making it better. Here’s our analysis. At least step one. We’ll always work on our marketing messages and segment to help our conversion rates.

While there are scores of products on the market, including LinkedIn, Zoom, and One Source, and some great new start-ups that have various degrees of content mash-ups like Tempo and Refresh, we chose to test three of the more popular products that come integrated with CRM systems, including D&B 360, which has mostly manually generated contact and company information;, the roots of which are crowdsourced with Jigsaw data acquired by Salesforce; and InsideView, which relies on a multisourced, triangulated, validated data approach to deliver results. The levels of integration vary, depending on the CRM system: Dynamics, Oracle, Sugar, or Salesforce.

For the test, we used a real person and a real institution — Krystin Mitchell, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at 7-Eleven Inc. Since 7-Eleven’s revenue is in excess of $80 billion and they’re public, we thought they might be a good test to see how we can find her in our test systems.

So, where is Krystin? According to their current company Web page, she is indeed at 7-Eleven, but according to Krystin Mitchell is not included in 7-Eleven’s “Find Contacts” search results. When we broadened the search, we found there were 16 wrong results with her name, company, and email address. That’s crazy and not acceptable. I can see why our emails bounce.

We then tested the trusty old saw, D&B 360. Since much commerce is based on its data, it has to yield accurate results, right? D&B is the gold standard of contact data — the truth. It’s built with human editorial control so we thought we’d get correct results. But, even with D&B, Krystin Mitchell is not included in “Build a List” of custom search results (this time 65 wrong contacts came up in her place).

To find her, we needed to do a “general people in search,” but like in it yielded multiple/duplicate results, and different types of incorrect contact info, which defeats the purpose of a sales and marketing effectiveness product.

We are drowning in data. It is no simple feat to filter this sea of data, but it seems to me that we need to get the basics right about “small data” before we can talk about optimizing big data, real-time data, and the impact of attribution models. Quality B2B or B2C contact information is fundamental. It’s best to walk before we run and finally sprint to the holy grail of real-time conversions, and revenue falling from the trees.

What Happens When You Turn Curated Customer Data into Intellectual Property?
by Lynn Langmade

While most marketers know that producing adequate sales leads requires thorough data collection and analysis, they must also be mindful of each target account ‘s current business situation (which can change almost daily).

Information about business circumstances comes in many forms — press releases, earnings reports, news items, analyst reports, and much more. When added to what we already know about our territories and target accounts, this new information can turn a pile of routine marketing findings into powerful sales knowledge that borders on intellectual property (IP).

If you view IP as the sum of a company’s research, knowledge, patents, processes and the like, then you really should add sales knowledge to your list. The knowledge you can develop about your markets and target customers, in relation to your business’ other knowledge, designs, and plans, is unique. You own it and no one else has it – and that's a competitive weapon in sales.

A Marketing Revenue Revelation

Based on salespeople’s demand for better leads and pressure on marketers to generate revenue, marketers have discovered that the type of data they collect is as important as its volume.

Even a few years ago, salespeople were happy with basic demographics (name, title, phone number), and with that they’d schedule a prospect meeting to capture the really important information (business need, budget, decision maker identities, etc.). But with today’s high quotas, salespeople don’t have time to invest in basic data gathering and managers are steering salespeople away from qualifying prospects during valuable meeting time. And managers have earmarked sales meetings for conversations that advance the sales process.

Marketers need to provide their sales counterparts with rich prospect profiles that answer salespeople’s most important questions, including:

    Does our product/service match the prospect’s business needs?
    Does the prospect have budget to spend?
    Is an executive sponsor tied to the deal?

Buying a target list will not answer the above questions – and qualifying a lead before a sales call also requires more effort than collecting a small set of demographic data.

Starting with a generic prospect list and applying lead nurturing campaigns, marketers aim to cultivate information that salespeople can use. For instance, they engage with prospects via social media, and in the process, build a knowledge-base and share content. With the help of lead nurturing programs and enhanced data collection that feeds into analytics, the refined leads that marketers are delivering to sales are nearly sales-ready – but that’s not enough.

Marketing is starting to re-think its lead capturing processes to meet sales’ demands. Using various data collection techniques and lead enriching, they are able to weed out leads that might look good on paper but will never close. They're starting to curate leads that border on intellectual property.

Intellectual Property’s Competitive Advantage

But just like filing a patent, there’s a long process involved in bringing knowledge (read: intellectual property) together so that it can be used effectively. Until fairly recently, marketers didn’t have the tools needed to find the disparate data scattered across the Internet that could complete the picture of a prospect’s need. There is an advantage to being a first-mover in the race to capture and collate market knowledge before your competition.

That’s why savvy vendors are increasingly relying on sales and marketing intelligence tools to scour the Internet for those bits of information that can complete a marketing profile and turn it into a hot lead. Every day, businesses give off data about their aims, ambitions, results, and shortcomings. These insights are moments of truth and are incredibly useful for vendors selling targeted solutions.

Developing customer knowledge really is like developing any other form of intellectual property in a company. It lessens the randomness from selling. It's why so many forward-thinking businesses see sales and marketing intelligence tools as vital to their continued success. By identifying moments of truth and being able to suggest specific solutions, a vendor can move from a position of hawking a product to becoming a trusted partner. And all of a sudden, the vendor has a competitive advantage.

 5 Stupid Mistakes that Will Kill Your Sales Email

 Stupid Mistakes that Will Kill Your Sales Email .You may think you’re sending a great email, but don’t kid yourself.

Chances are you’re making one of the following fatal mistakes.

1. Using the first 15 words in the email to explain how great you are.

Most likely you’re writing your sales prospecting emails while working on a desktop or laptop computer and that alone is going to hurt you.

Reason is simple.

People tend to check their emails on their smartphones, and when they do, they’re making a 2-second judgment based on the subject line and the first few words of the email.

The best solution is to send the email to yourself and take a look at how it comes through on your phone and ask yourself if you would open it or delete it.

2.  Putting a title in the subject line that is all about you and has zero importance to the person you’re sending it to.

Telling the recipient you’ve just won an award or you’ve helped others make big money is nothing more than bloviating.   I have one recommendation if you’re going to do that: Go look in a mirror and never look anywhere else, because you’ll never find a person who thinks you’re as good as you think you are.

3.  Putting a graphic of your company logo in your signature line.

Many spam filters are designed to automatically block emails with graphics.  Your company logo isn’t that impressive!

Second reason you shouldn’t do it is that it can easily gum up smartphones.   Have you ever looked at an email with a bunch of graphics on your smartphone?   Many times they come through as plain garbage or they take up far too much space, making it hard for the reader to determine what the email is about.

4. Writing too much.

Keep it simple. End of statement.

5. Sending the same email over and over again to the same person, thinking they didn’t see the previous ones.

The only thing you’re doing is earning yourself some “junk map” status.   Many email systems are set up to automatically flag a sender’s name as spam if the person receiving the email doesn’t reply to the first three or four.

“Hackathon re-energizes the product development teams,” says Harini Raghavan, Engineering Manager at InsideView. “It’s an opportunity for teams to break out of the routine, look at the product from perspectives not limited to roadmap priorities and build something cool while adding value.”

This year, teams were challenged to produce a working hack based on InsideView’s existing product code. Here’s the event outline:

Time: 40 hours

Location: Hyderabad, India

Team Composition: Minimum 2, maximum 3 participants per team

Hack Specifications: The hack should either use an existing codebase to achieve something new within the current product areas (the “Re-Invent” category) or represent a new technology build (the “Innovation” category).

Evaluation Rules: Teams must produce a working prototype to be considered for evaluation.

Integrate or Disintegrate

Post-event, we found that like the newest Microsoft Dynamics CRM release (announced at Convergence) and the hack that Netflix dreamed up, many of our hacks focused on innovating via integration with another app, platform or product. The Dynamics update provides a framework that allows businesses to develop new connected apps in Microsoft Dynamics, while Netflix’s hack integrates with Fitbit. Some of or our hacks featured Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Still, remember that integration isn’t always easy. Netflix made sure to include a disclaimer in their hackathon blog post: “While we think these hacks are very cool and fun, they may never become part of the Netflix product, internal infrastructure, or be used beyond Hack Day.”

While InsideView knows that two heads are better than one, we also know that Netflix is right. Our great ideas may never make it to the product roadmap, even if we recognize that they are great ideas. For some of these hacks to work, our product will need to integrate with a another brand. And they have to say yes. Legal restrictions may be the only thing stopping a great hack from becoming a reality.

And Now… the Results!

58 employees participated, of which, 13 were women.

Most teams were cross-functional spanning content, test, and user experience engineering groups, plus developers and data services.

Of 25 teams that competed, 19 teams completed a working idea and prototype.

Creative Team Names Included: Sub-Mad, Europhia, Lazy Pandas, Trendsetters, Sales Xpress, Connecting dots 2, Connecting dots 1, PIE, Anonymous, Titans, Protheans, Charlie’s Angels, Royal Flush, X Monad, Bootstrappers, Alpha, NaN|#N/A|NA|NULL|!@#$%^&*_meaning_garbage, 911-Match, DeepLearn, NewsPower, Maniac, AKAKIOS

Ideas Varied: mobile apps, browser plugins, data cleansing system, enhanced recommendation systems, clustering algorithms

Shortlisted Hacks: List building analytics, IV tour/theme, Business card scanner for IV, Sentiment analysis for tweets, Linkedin browser plugin, Chrome extension for Activity stream

Other Final Hacks: ViewCleaner – Cash From Trash, Usage Based List Build, Industry sync based on tag library, Activity stream Reinvented, Improved connections performance, Lead scoring, InsideView for Facebook, Improve Marketing Lead Enrichment, News Categorization, Right Information Right Time Triggers, Browser cache for IV page performance, Trends by company, industry, word cloud

Innovate or Die

About 50 years ago, living to 61 was normal. What if we told you that the life expectancy of thriving companies on the S&P 500 (an index of the top 500 most valuable U.S. companies) is now only 18 years (source: Innosight)? The S&P index is a definitive view into the best of the best and represents companies that meet certain measures of liquidity, but we know the shift isn’t limited to top performing enterprise businesses. How can a business of any size stay ahead of the downfall?

While competition is fierce in the SMB market, newer technologies like online advertising, CRM, and social media outlets have allowed local and regional businesses to extend their reach and survive. If they can keep up with trends, then they can stay relevant.

For mid-market and enterprise businesses, and even technology companies of any size, there is a different key to success. We already assume these companies are inundated with sales pitches for technology products and services, and most of them are well-covered in that regard. So how else can you encourage your company to grow its reach and impress your customers?

Avoiding regression is a sub-par survival plan — and we we’re pretty sure that status quo won’t get us very far either. But allowing for and acting on innovation can move a business from reactionary to progressive.

Even though decreasing company longevity is trending, strong companies are fighting back and setting a new trajectory by using innovation to break the status quo.

“The heart and soul of the company is creativity and innovation.”-Robert Iger | CEO, The Walt Disney Company

Like many other companies in the tech space, InsideView’s enthusiasm for innovation is at the forefront of our business. We hold a hackathon at least every year. It’s internal, and it’s product focused (see details/results at the bottom of this post). Jason Muldoon, InsideView’s VP of Technology explains the internal hackathon as “critical in engaging the creativity and out-of-the-box thinking that are key to product innovation.”

For technology companies, leaving gaps in the product roadmap and providing outlets for creativity will allow innovation to permeate your organization. Marc Perramond, InsideView’s VP of Product Development maintains that “If you are consistently innovating, you are generally solving problems before they exist.”

Engineers Aren’t the Only Innovators

Thanks to engineering, the rest of us are learning a thing or two about hacking and agility (both gaining popularity in the mid-2000s). We’ve talked about Agile software development before and we’ll do it again. In Agile, solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams. Sounds like a daily 8-hour hackathon, doesn’t it?

There are at least two ways to release Agile and hacking within a company: 1) structured, like a hackathon, and 2) unplanned, as in the case of Google’s “20% time.” Last year, the policy that had intended to promote unplanned company-wide innovation came under scrutiny. Critics pointed out that allowing one-fifth of an employee’s work time to be consumed by activities unrelated to the company roadmap has the potential to produce disengaged employees when they constantly hear: “great idea, but not now.”

Basically, innovation can be siloed too. If a structure for evaluation and acceptance is left out of the innovation process, policies like Google’s 20% time will only hinder the creative process. The division of labor that worked 50 years ago when companies stood strong for over six decades isn’t so relevant in the age of technological enlightenment. Creators need access to cross-functional resources and executive buy-in to set their ideas in motion.

Alternatively, when hacking (read: brainstorming, creating, executing) is organized, teams understand potential outcomes, get competitive, have fun, and they even innovate.

That being said, can sales, marketing, business development, operations, finance, HR and IT teams hack out innovative programs and processes too?

We think so. Our engineering team has embraced Agile, and collectively we’ve realized that if structured appropriately, like the framework for hacking, Agile is relevant to aligning our entire company. Activating both hacking and Agile methodology will help us create better processes and ultimately better experiences in every part of the business. Right now, our marketing leaders are hosting a Sales Kickoff 8,000+ miles away, in India. What can we learn from cross-training eng and sales? We’ll expand on that soon.

5 Stupid Voicemail Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

 5 Stupid Voicemail Mistakes and How to Avoid Them photoWe’ve all heard stupid voicemails, and if you’re like me, you do two things.

One, you delete them before they’re done, and two, you remark to yourself how the person leaving it is a village idiot.

Let me share with you 5 stupid voicemail mistakes:

1. Speaking without any energy or volume.

The other person can’t see you, but they are still painting a picture in their mind as to who you are.

The last thing they want to do is to be talking to someone who has no enthusiasm for what they are doing.

2. Stating in the message they need to call you back between “x” time and “y” time.

When you do this, you’ve just made it that much harder for them to call you back. Unless you have an amazing relationship with the person for whom you are leaving the message, don’t expect the call to be returned.

3. Failing to state in the first 6 seconds of the message why you’re calling.

If you can’t say it quick, don’t say it.  When you leave a voice mail message, the person receiving it is looking to do one thing: Delete the message as quickly as possible.

This means if you spend the first 10 seconds droning on about nothing, you’re gone!

4. Not saying your phone number clearly.

Getting people to return voice mail messages is hard enough, but when you spit your number out so fast that no one can understand it, then why do you think they will call you back?

State your number clearly and if possible twice. Why? It allows the person to get your phone number the first time they listen to the message.

5. Not using a decent telephone.

Don’t forget that the person listening to the message is not in the same room as you. Depending on the equipment they use and you use, believe me — the quality of your voice can sound pathetic.

I know there are no guarantees that every voicemail message will be returned, even if you don’t make any of the above mistakes.

But the person receiving your message will more likely view you in a more positive light if you don’t make these mistakes.  And this means there is greater potential for you to communicate at a later point.

Copyright 2014, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter

5 Coolest Things We Heard & Saw at Convergence (+5 Superlatives)

#1 - Reducing Tension in Sales Greatly Affects ROI

Buying/selling relationships typically begin with high levels of tension, evidenced by resistance and objections, leading to slowed or halted business deals. By contrast, if salespeople can reduce tension, create trust and build intimacy in their customer relationships, they dramatically affect ROI. The end result? Customers raise fewer objections, are more willing to cut through red tape, and are less price sensitive. Heidi Tucker put it this way: "The ROI of Trust = Faster Deals + Lower Cost + Higher Margins."

#2 - IT and Marketing Need To Be True Partners, Sharing Glory and Blame

Increasingly, the roles of the CMO and CIO are overlapping, creating a counter-productive tension. Marketing relies on customer data and technology to meet growing responsibility for revenue production, and they need to be nimble and quick because revenue goals cannot wait. On the flip side, IT’s typically methodical processes are slow enough to dry out the revenue stream. How can these two teams come together? They need to become true partners, sharing goals, communicating regularly, and understanding one another. As one audience participant put it, “they need to be willing to share the glory and the blame.” All too often, when marketing is successful, they take the credit without a nod to IT, but when they aren’t making their numbers, they’re quick to place the blame on IT. Isn’t it time that marketing and IT stop butting heads and start shaking hands?

#3 - B2B Salespeople Need More Thank LinkedIn To Be Successful

Barbara Giamanco is a top LinkedIn user, and gives a lot of credit to the platform. But she also acknowledges that to sell intelligently and efficiently, salespeople need a deeper view into their customers and prospects, such as they get with InsideView CRM Intelligence.They need insights about the companies and people they call on, as well as connections, and they need to have this information readily available. With recent partnerships and feature announcements, Microsoft Dynamics CRM is now providing these insights within CRM.

#4 - Tech Is Neither Good Nor Bad, It's How We Use It That Matters
"Creating a culture of burnout is opposite to creating a culture of sustainable creativity,” says Arianna Huffington, a highly successful business woman, author and syndicated columnist, who advocates for work-life balance. As work and home life continue to converge into collective experiences and tech takes up more of our time, we have to recognize that we have a choice about how we use technology. We can use it wisely, and for good, or we can let it consume us. Huffington promotes the former, citing this example: Social has replaced front page news, where the old adage was, “if it bleeds, it leads.” Instead, social contributors are using their platforms to inspire, to share what’s good, what’s working…to promote our best.

#5 - Millennials Grew Up With Social, But May Not Know How Its Used For Biz

Don't assume your people know how to use social for business, even if they grew up on it - in fact, be more careful with team members who grew up with social media. Millennials are more likely to share content indiscriminately. It’s essential to develop company guidelines, train, certify and coach employees of all generations in using social properly and effectively for business.

It’s pretty cool that we’re on the same page as our clients when it comes to intentions while attending B2B events.  Tradeshows and conferences rank in the top two lead generation sources for B2B companies (source: InsideSales). And believe it or not, nearly 70% of conference attendees are showing their faces to shop and learn about products and services (source: CEIR). What a coincidence!

With these facts in mind, and Convergence less than 24 hours away, we hope you’ve already thought about your marketing strategy for the week. How will you showcase your company and set the stage for winning prospects? Which contacts will you collect and who will view you as an important contact? What sessions will you attend and who will attend your sessions? What is your expo floor strategy? Which vendors do you need to avoid? Which parties will you attend? When will you find time to eat?!

Last, but certainly not least, have you thought about a strategy for your peeps–your people? Your contacts, customers, and future customers. And even your competitors’ customers…
Putting Power Behind Your People

Obviously, it’s important to have a people strategy for an event like Convergence. You should have already outlined a process for capturing leads. As you spend the week meeting and greeting (and schmoozing, dodging, selling, and being sold), how should you, as a marketer, approach your people strategy? The Aberdeen Group points out that while the industry average for lead to conversion ratio is a staggering143:1, best-in-class companies have figured out how to par that number down to 68:1.

Part of the solution is implementing “customer data quality initiative” (source: Aberdeen). Ask yourself, “Does my lead capture strategy include everything I need to create relevant re-connections with my new contacts?”
Nerding Out on Lead Data

A critical piece of any event strategy is lead data accuracy. And the same goes for Convergence. As most marketers know, it’s imperative that scanned lead data equates to actual usable contact information. Over 70% of best in class respondents cite marketing database management (cleansing, de-duping, etc.) as a top contributor to an effective marketing lead process (source: Aberdeen).

>Ensuring that the best marketing contact data enters your database will not only improve your nurture campaigns and produce faster lead routing, but it will also develop a stronger, more qualified lead pool for your sales team. And isn’t that why you’re going to Convergence in the first place?

A lead enrichment solution will solve the data accuracy challenges often encountered at large events like Convergence. Enrichment tools ultimately compare scanned contact data with extensive databases that are teeming with triangulated data. The technology scours millions of financial records, leverages crowdsourcing techniques, and even uses people to double-check the accuracy of your data.

To boot, lead enrichment tools deliver completed data records directly into your existing Microsoft Dynamics CRM contact and account records. How cool is that?
Throwing Leads Over the Fence Doesn’t Work

As you’re marauding around the Convergence expo floor this week looking to pounce on both new and existing unsuspecting customers, make sure your people strategy and data enrichment solutions measure up. Incomplete and inaccurate lead data not only ruins your relationship with your sales counterparts, it also results in significant lead loss, lower pipeline value, and missed revenue opportunity.

Don’t be one of the 44% of B2B organizations that don’t verify the validity of their business leads before passing them to sales (Source: MarketingSherpa). It would be a shame to have wasted your event budget on what amounts to high-priced nerdfest tickets and a bunch of leads that simply cannot convert.
Some Helpful Convergence Tips

Download the Convergence 2014 app to take advantage the “Contact Exchange” networking feature that allows you to swiftly scan QR codes on attendee badges. Be sure you “opt-in” in for a “name badge QR code” or you may miss out on networking opportunities.

Check out the InsideView booth (#2713) while you’re strolling around–we may just have that lead enrichment solution you’re looking for.

Account Managers Are Playing a New Game--and It's Called Customer Success By: Insite View

Not long ago, account managers and customer service associates were hired to maintain accounts. But now, companies who still see retention as the main goal for those groups are starting to lose market share. Why?

The account management program that drives revenue has changed. As Software as a Service (cloud) businesses continue to soar, sales teams have realized that they must keep pace with Agile product launches and feature releases, or risk losing clients to one of their many competitors.

It’s no longer enough to retain your customers, merely reaching out when it’s time to renew their service. Your friendly customer service team is now your strategic customer success team, and their goal is growth.
80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers (Source: Forbes).

Customer Success Enters the Chasm

After hearing Geoffrey Moore (author of Crossing the Chasm) speak at an event last month, we were compelled to ask him about two common themes in his talk: customer success management and the trusted advisor relationship. The truth is, Moore says, “virtually everyone has some small number of trusted advisors, but the number of slots, and the people applying for those positions is like trying to get into Harvard.”

So, using Crossing the Chasm phases as a backdrop, how can high-tech CSMs use their business savvy to grow their accounts rather than just maintain them?

In the outline below, Moore not only defines the four actionable phases (aka engagement opportunities) of market development for customer success management, but he also maps each opportunity to the land-and-expand model widely used in SaaS selling. Viewing your customer relationships through the lens of the technology lifecycle will help you assess which opportunity to take.

Engagement Opportunity #1

Phase: Early Market / Landing
Trusted Adviser Relationship: Minimal
Customer Mindset: The person or organization who takes the bait in this instance is willing to experiment and exercise technology to the maximum. They like to be heroes, and they like to go ahead of the herd. Their goal is to differentiate their business in the market.
Your Charge: Continually associate the opportunity for growth with things that are visionary in this customer’s world. Do whatever you can to reinforce that spirit, while illuminating the match between the customer’s needs and your solution. Capture their imagination, and make your customer relationship (and your account strategy pitch) fun and adventurous.
How to Grow: Remember, this is not a one-size-fits-all customer. Focus on the bigger picture (and think outside of the box) in this relationship. Not only should you understand their business, but you should also be knowledgeable about their industry and competitive landscape. If done correctly, you can effectively close the gap between the customer’s vision and the business opportunity at hand.

The rest of the engagement opportunities Moore offers take place after the “chasm” (see diagram).

Just when it seemed like the push for mobile had peaked, we’re learning about even more trends that have staying power. Why is it important for marketers to recognize and master mobile progressions?

Don’t Get Left Behind

Your competitors are already jumping on the bandwagon, and they’re having a good time. (source: eMarketer)

    42.8% of B2Bs plan to increase spending in the mobile category this year.
    The number of B2B companies using apps in their marketing strategy increased by 26 percentage points between 2013 and 2014.
    Just 38.6% of marketers say they currently use mobile in their strategies.
    94% of marketing executives who use mobile advertising are either “fairly satisfied” or “satisfied” with the tactic.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)

Success Factors: Increased efficiency and flexibility for users. Low overhead costs for companies.
Why Marketing Cares: BYOD is the silver lining in mobile marketing strategy and execution. More often than not, your customers are always connected to the web, and to their business email account. They’re also downloading business apps on their personal devices, so as a marketer, you have more time in the day to reach out. (Review our earlier blog post to find out more about this trend.)

Responsive Web Design

Success Factors: Adapts to future technology, requiring minimal design updates. Trumps the “mobile-friendly” site that needs more time and resources to maintain. Provides a better user experience and increases brand credibility.
Why Marketing Cares: Massive improvement to bounce rates on mobile resulting in higher MQL (marketing qualified leads). Google’s Hummingbird (algorithm) release last year has put more pressure on businesses to use mobile-friendly and responsive sites—without mobile compatibility, your business’ SEO ranking will likely suffer.

Cloud-Based CRM & Marketing Automation Tools

Success Factors: Accessibility leads to increase in user adoption and productivity.
Why Marketing Cares: Make real-time updates in the database and access the most accurate lead information on-the-go. Some mobile marketing apps even allow for photo uploads, voice memos, push notifications, dynamic activity streams and synced workflow notifications.
Meeting Customers’ Expectations

Your customers’ expectations are growing every day, so you need to be digitally proficient, and mobile-savvy.

    One in every five people in the world owns a smartphone (source: Business Insider).
    Over 60% of all mobile phone owners in the US use a smartphone (source: Nielsen).
    More than half of smartphone users access the web almost exclusively via their mobile device (source: InMobi).
    60 percent of mobile users expect a site to load in 3 seconds or less. 74 percent are willing to wait only 5 seconds for a site to load before leaving. (Source: Compuware).

Once B2B marketers to understand how prospective customers are using mobile, it will be easier to adapt to trends in mobile marketing. Just know that when it comes to mobile, we haven’t seen many trends that didn’t stick. Even QR codes are showing up in airports and on towing signage!

Articles and Write up / Sales & Marketing Have Moved In Together
« on: February 14, 2014, 10:23:41 AM »
Are your sales and marketing relationships on a path toward power or toxicity?

Historically, the inability to track marketing efforts and correlated results has been a major factor in misaligned sales and marketing departments. Before the internet age, marketing to customers was like setting up a blind date for your cousin because your parents had that expectation. Back then, as little as 10 years ago, marketing arranged the blind dates for sales, the cousin.

The lucky girl that went on one unsuccessful date with your cousin was just a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend. And you weren’t close with your cousin–so everything turned out alright for you, and your cousin continued on his path of frustration.

But things have changed. We are deep into the “internet age” and blind dating has turned into informed dating (it includes cyber-stalking and seemingly open, one-sided communication about interests and demographic data). In the “beyond age,” marketing is accountable for revenue and sales has greater expectations regarding marketing qualified leads. Basically, when you arrange a blind date for your cousin, he’s going to cross-reference the details you provided with OKCupid, Facebook, and the vast sea of information contained in his favorite search engine. No more getting off scot-free.

With a new outlook on dating (and on buyer behavior), it’s more important than ever to play it smart. Stop frustrating your cousin. And to play Devil’s Advocate, sales needs to be clear about his preferences in a mate.

With a new sales-marketing alignment comes a responsibility to aim higher and to create a Power Couple relationship, as the Toxic Couple is doomed for failure.

Source: InsideView Infographic

Be a Leader / Make Small Commitments. Get Big Changes
« on: February 11, 2014, 04:48:42 PM »
Make Small Commitments. Get Big Changes.
Excerpted from Rules of the Hunt

Taking Care of You

Drink plenty of water.
Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.
Eat more fruits and vegetables and eat less that is manufactured in processing plants.
Avoid eating food that is handed to you through a window.
Live the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy.
Play more games.
Read more books than you did last year.
Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
Sleep for 7 hours.
Take a 10-30 minute walk daily. And while you walk, smile.

Your Outlook

Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
Don't have negative thoughts of things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
Don't overdo. Keep your limits.
Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
Don't waste your precious energy on gossip.
Dream more while you are awake.
Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
Forget issues of the past. Don't remind others of their past mistakes.
Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.
No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
Learn a new word every day.
Smile and laugh more.
You don't have to win every argument.

Your Relationships
Call your family often.
Each day give something good to others.
Forgive everyone for everything.
Spend time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6.
Try to make at least three people smile each day.
What other people think of you is none of your business.
Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will. Stay in touch.

Your Life

The worst promise you can break is one made to yourself.
Do the right thing!
Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.
However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
The best is yet to come.
When you awake alive in the morning, thank God for it.
Your Innermost Self is always happy. Follow it.
No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

Keep these rules handy and review them from time to time. Follow them and small, almost imperceptible, changes will accumulate into something big. Your life will change.

Source: Mark Hunter

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