We’re excited to announce that Penny has been invited to speak at the Ark Group Women Legal Forum on Wednesday, Feb. 5. The Women Legal Forum is advancing the increasingly important dialogue on gender diversity in the legal profession, while illustrating the business imperative for the retention and succession of female leadership.
Penny will take part in a panel discussion around the themes of the book Stiletto Network: Inside the Women’s Power Circles That Are Changing the Face of Business. The panel will focus on shedding light and sharing insight on models used in business that the legal profession can learn from and adopt.
For more information on the Ark Group Women Legal Forum and to see a complete list of speakers, please visit http://usa.ark-group.com/events-details.aspx?eid=142.
Training your salespeople is vital to the continuing success of any business. Even if they can’t turn back time by flying around the world in reverse, sales superheros can turn a bad pitch into a closed deal. In a rapidly changing world, it’s a mistake to assume that your best sales reps don’t need any more training. Whether your salespeople are veterans or just entering the world of sales, it’s necessary to provide them with the training they need to best represent your company. Training sales reps is important for:
Here are some ideas for training your sales people:
Hire a trainer
Most businesses can benefit from hiring a trainer. However, be careful that you hire the right person, according to Geoffrey James for Salesforce. Different professionals have different areas of expertise. If they don’t have what you need, the investment won’t be worthwhile.
Make development of sales staff a part of every sales meeting. Try to set a goal for how much time you’ll spend on it. According to Caron Beesley on the government’s Small Business Administration website, one training session is rarely sufficient. Make sure your reps are up-to-date on the state of the market and even new research that would be beneficial in sales tactics.
An often overlooked way to increase the success of your sales team is to make sure they know your competitors as well as they know your company. As Beesley says, it’s a good idea to encourage role playing exercises that involve competitive selling techniques.
Make training part of your routine
Have sales reps incorporate training into their day by encouraging them to share information via social media or over group lunches.
Knowing your customers is one of your top priorities. Since utilizing social media is one of the best ways to get plugged into your consumer market and develop relationships, it’s become a must. While getting on Facebook and Twitter creates unprecedented opportunities to get personal with potential buyers and current clients, sometimes letting your personality shine can backfire. When you have real people monitoring social platforms, they are bound to screw up now and then. Here are a few frequent mistakes and what to do if you find yourself making them:
Saying the Wrong Thing
You want your social media presence to have personality. While whomever is running your channels may be tweeting or posting under the name of your brand, people want to know there’s a real person behind it. However, you need to pick a professional who knows what they’re doing. Most people have their own Twitter or Facebook, and it can be disastrous when someone posts personal content under their employer’s name. Nevertheless, it happens. Another tragic error, according to John McMalcolm on Marketo’s blog, is to post something insensitive or offensive. While world events can often be a great excuse to plug your products, never use any event in which people were physically harmed or killed, like Kenneth Cole did. The brand used riots in Cairo as an excuse to advertise its spring collection. Naturally, it garnered widespread criticism for its insensitivity.
To avoid these missteps, companies should always plan out tweets in advance. If your social media expert has a history of creating questionable content, have someone read over their work before it gets published.
Sometimes when businesses start out on social platforms, they simply have no idea what they’re doing. This can lead to situations like those above, but other problems can result, as well. Some companies don’t know the rules of the game they are playing. For instance, you don’t simply jump onto Twitter, search for anyone who may be interested in your services and start following them – or worse – messaging them directly.
Social media isn’t self-serving, it’s about establishing relationships that help you know your customer and ideally, help them get to know you too. For every post you make promoting your own services, reblog or share a news item from your industry or community that may interest followers.
Before implementing a social media campaign, do proper research about the channel. See how people behave on it, and which companies are using it effectively.
Using the Wrong Data
Having thousands of followers doesn’t guarantee prospects are actively engaged with your company. According to Jeff Bullas, not all customer analytics are created equal. Applying the normal metrics to social media may not yield the same results. Check to see how people are actually responding to what you put out there, don’t just assume followers have seen it.
Connecting All Your Accounts
Many companies use too many different platforms. In an effort to save time, they end up linking them up to publish simultaneously. This can be very irritating for those who follow you on multiple channels. It can also be annoying to those who don’t. Most platforms link up, but in less-than-ideal ways. Do you really want your Twitter feed to tell followers “I just posted a video to Facebook” every time you upload something? Everyone knows the message is automated, and it comes across as lazy. Similarly, when users link Twitter and Facebook status updates, anyone who follows both will see the exact same message.
As a best practice, write posts individually, keeping in mind what makes each platform unique. Instagram and Facebook are great for visual media, while Twitter may be better for linking news items and blogs. Better yet, don’t take on more channels than your marketing department can manage.
Now that we’ve just crossed the threshold into 2014, it’s a good time to reassess marketing and sales strategies to keep up with changing times. Here’s a hint – it’s not bourbon-swilling ad men in expensive suits. Is your marketing team up to scratch now that we are roughly a decade and a half into the 21st century? Here are a few traits that characterize the modern-day marketer:
Data Artisan Marketing professionals need to be able to stay on track with customer data, but they also need to understand how to implement this knowledge into a successful campaign, and that still requires a great deal of creativity. As Matt Wesson noted on Salesforce blog, marketing no longer lionizes creativity above all else, although it’s still a large part of what makes a successful marketer. These days, marketers who aren’t taking advantage of customer intelligence analytics and other data points may be seriously missing the mark.
Customer-oriented When it comes to information consumption, clients are increasingly omnivorous, switching quickly between multiple channels. From social media to email to online video, if you’re not keeping up with consumers, you’re not doing it right. The customer is king. In this media-saturated world, knowing your customers is essential. Use customer intelligence to keep an eye on trends in your customer’s industry. It’s no longer adequate to have just a preliminary understanding of your clients. They’ll expect you to know more. Predict their needs in advance and your marketing campaigns will be far more successful.
Social Media Maven The contemporary marketer understands that it’s crucial not to overplay the role of “me” in social media. There are no Don Drapers here. Social platforms are all about connection and communication, not about self-serving status updates and calls to action. Marketers can help themselves by helping others on Facebook and Twitter. Serve as a resource and listen for potential clients that need help. In the same spirit, it’s important to remember that the marketing department doesn’t exist in a vacuum; it’s part of a team. Collaboration is essential in ensuring that campaigns provide return on investment. A survey from CRM Essentials cited in Destination CRM found that small and medium-sized business executives were more successful in social media campaigns when they took a holistic approach. Rather than having separate departments firing out social posts, they worked together to roll out a strategic plan.
Mobile-driven If emails and websites are not optimized for mobile viewing, they won’t be successful. A lot of people view email on mobile devices on the go. According to an infographic from Position2, almost half of all emails are opened on mobile devices. Decision makers are busy people, and if they can’t check their inbox at a time that’s convenient for them, you may have lost out on a sale. The infographic also shows that 80 percent of recipients will delete an email that doesn’t look good on their mobile device. Just think of how users are deterred by a website that transitions poorly to a tablet or smartphone! In 2014, there’s no excuse for this.
Good Communicators This point is somewhat built into some of the earlier ones. After all, in order to have a collaborative spirit, you need to be able to communicate. According to Maria Pergolino for Marketo, any marketing position will require you to wear multiple hats - when you’re not generating leads, you may be writing a blog, speaking at an event or networking. Communication skills are, therefore, vital to success. You will need to converse effectively with prospects, colleagues and managers about your company and products.
Congratulations to Kathy from CH2M Hill, the winner of a brand-new Fitbit Force! Kathy won her Fitbit by attending our January 22 webinar, How Personalized Business Analytics Transform Your Business.
Didn’t get a chance to attend the webinar? Don’t worry; we have another one coming up on Feb. 13. Stay tuned for details and the registration link.
Customers want to be heard, and equally as important, understood.
— Shep Hyken (@Hyken) January 23, 2014
As a salesperson, you’re constantly told that you need to listen to what your customer needs instead of just talking at them and drowning them out. That’s definitely true—how are you supposed to be an effective salesperson if you can’t address their specific needs?
Instead of simply listening to the customer, you should really aim to understand them. When client-facing employees actually understand their customers, they have a better idea of how to help their customer achieve their goals and, therefore, a better chance of making the sale.
What I mean by “understanding” is this: you can hear what the client is saying, but do you really know why they’re saying it? You need to be familiar with what’s going on in their business; once you can put their pain points in context you can help your customer use your product in such a way that will give them the most benefit.
Video is a fun and engaging way to find sales opportunities, and it’s not just for B2C anymore. B2B companies can harness the power of movie as well. According to Janine Popick for Inc., 92 percent of B2B customers watch videos online, and 43 percent of B2B customers watch videos when researching products and services.
You don’t have to outsource a video production company to make a great video, although that’s certainly an option. You just need to create content that people want to watch. Put someone in front of a camera, and demonstrate what a font of knowledge they are. Sales reps are generally pretty dynamic individuals, so get one of them to be your spokesperson. Having a genuine employee in front of the camera will also make you appear more authentic.
Here are some tips for engaging your customers and generating leads with video:
Create awesome content
If you can’t come up with a reason to use video marketing, you probably shouldn’t do it. If you don’t have a wealth of information you’re dying to share, video is useless. However, if you have tons of ideas and need an engaging outlet to reach your audience, video is perfect.
If you need ideas, using customer intelligence analytics can help you determine what kind of information your customers really need. The best content will anticipate the problems customers have and provide them with solutions.
Make the video engaging
According to Jeff Molander in Target Marketing Magazine, many marketers fail using video because they overthink what they are saying and forget to consider how they will say it. It may be easier said than done, but in order to be successful on this channel, you need content that really says something interesting while keeping the viewer’s attention.
Try telling a story. The human brain is programmed to respond to narratives, and they tend to be more memorable than straight facts. In the Salesforce Blog, Jeff Ogden notes how popular television show The Walking Dead consistently gains more viewers than the NFL. This compelling narrative of a small group of survivors outrunning bloodthirsty zombies tells a story that is both gripping and visually engaging. Just remember, you don’t need gore to create videos that users want to watch.
Finish off videos with a clear call to action to find potential buyers. Once you’ve hooked users on your fantastic video channel, you can even require a user registration so that visitors have to give you an email address in order to continue. YouTube allows you to overlay ads if you are a Google Adwords advertiser, according to Popick.
Everyone loves a good game. Games engage us and put us in a flow state that leads to a feelings of well-being. That’s why the gamification trend is on the rise, and will continue to trend upward. Games are a great way to engage customers, too, even if you’re in the B2B world. They’re also a great way to train staff and provide business insight.
What is gamification?
According to Forrester research, gamification can be defined as “the insertion of game dynamics and mechanics into non-game activities to drive a desired behavior.” In layman’s terms, gamification is making the boring aspects of life more fun by adding points systems, badges and other hallmarks of game playing. It’s a way to make often less-than-interesting aspects of business life more engaging for clients and employees alike.
If you’re still unsure of exactly what gamification might look like, Foursquare is a good example for consumers. This social platform essentially transforms the act of visiting new places into a game by allotting points whenever a user checks into a named location. You can unlock badges by visiting a certain number of locations in a similar category. For example, you can unlock a badge after visiting 10 different Mexican restaurants, or 10 different movie theaters. Whenever a user checks in, he or she receives points that allow friendly competition between users. While this platform is designed for consumers, it is an excellent model for the way gamification can be applied to training.
Using gamification to improve sales productivity
When training salespeople, you often have goals in mind that you would like them to reach before sending them out into the trenches. Gamification is a great way to help novice sales reps achieve these benchmarks. It’s a good idea to create metrics and other measurable goals for new salespeople. Every business does things a little bit differently, so things like CRM protocols can also be included. Naturally, measurable goals make it easy to implement a game. According to Bob Marsh for Salesforce blog, creating a leaderboard is a great way to engage new salespeople. Add a point system for each goal, and display the results in a public setting.
Displaying these outcomes in the open can help sales reps learn from each other; it also creates a culture of open communication. There is no shame at being at the bottom of the leaderboard in the context of a friendly game, but it may help the new hire see that they need to work on some key skills. You can also include more seasoned associates in the game.
Customer engagement and lead generation
According to David Kirkpatrick on Marketing Sherpa, B2B companies can use gamification just as well as B2C. Implementing a captivating game online is a great way to get users to get engaged on your company’s website, and it can be as simple as offering rewards for persisting in certain behaviors. As an example, Kirkpatrick notes how software company SAP made its online community more active by integrating game dynamics. The community message board was already very active and users would frequently answer one another’s inquiries. The company assigned the title of “expert” to certain users with a track record of responding frequently.
Adding gamification strategies can be a good way to find sales opportunities. Kirkpatrick recommends giving users a set of goals to reach. Once users download a white paper or watch a promotional video, you can have them take a quiz. Allow them to unlock expertise badges about your products. Once they reach a certain level, offer them some kind of reward.
You can also gamify normal social media posts. In an example cited by Corey Eridon on Hubspot, a business posted a statement on Facebook, requesting that users respond whether it was true or false. Out of the correct answers, the company randomly selected someone to win a gift card. The initiative ropes in prospective clients and keeps current ones engaged.
It’s a good idea to provide an incentive for people to play. While achieving the highest status, or the highest number of points can a good enough reward, shelling out for gifts can make the experience even better. Whether your reward is aimed at your own salespeople, or potential leads, chances are giving people a concrete reason to play your game will improve the outcome. For customers, offer early access to white papers and other content, or even a discounted rate.
D&B’s Business Information Products Now Powered by FirstRain’s Advanced Analytics; Customers in Any Market Can Immediately Maximize Sales Opportunities
SHORT HILLS, N.J. & SAN MATEO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– D&B (NYSE:DNB), the world’s leading source of commercial information and insight on businesses, and FirstRain, a leading provider of customer insights for the enterprise, today announced a partnership to deliver a ground-breaking solution combining structured and unstructured business data and analytics. The solution will provide a 360-degree view of a company that unifies relevant social content with D&B’s leading commercial content in a simple and seamless manner that is easy to use and integrate into business applications, in near real time.
“As we continuously look for opportunities to strengthen our position as the market leader in B2B data intelligence, finding and identifying solutions that solve unmet customer needs is crucial to our success,” said Laura Kelly, Chief Product Officer, D&B. “The relationship with FirstRain will enable our customers to receive up-to-the-minute insights on prospects, customers, competitors and key markets, especially in today’s social age where companies have immediate needs for deep insight. FirstRain’s company and industry social analytics combined with D&B’s world-class structured data gives customers advanced warning of sales and growth opportunities in their markets, when and where they need it.”
Under a long-term strategic agreement, FirstRain provides D&B with customer and market intelligence, which D&B delivers through its world class solutions. The agreement with Silicon Valley-based FirstRain, an emerging leader in big data analytics, builds on D&B’s commitment to investing in and providing its customers with breakthrough and innovative services.
Going far beyond traditional news feeds, FirstRain big data analytics on unstructured information, including social media conversations on Twitter and blogs, deliver highly relevant, real-time insights on companies, markets and competitors to sales and marketing teams. FirstRain users have a superior understanding of their customer’s businesses, uncovering greater opportunities and risks, and ultimately driving smarter business decisions and accelerating growth.
“The integration of FirstRain’s analytics with D&B’s sales and marketing intelligence will enhance D&B’s profiles, setting them apart from commoditized products in the market,” said Harry Henry, VP & Practice Leader at Outsell, Inc. “This partnership allows D&B to offer relevant new content, from a wide range of sources including social media, to millions of users across different industries.”
D&B users now have access to FirstRain’s first-level analytics integrated directly within the D&B solutions including Hoovers, D&B360, D&B Direct and First Research®. The combination of D&B data and insight on more than 230 million businesses, 100 million business executives and three million corporate family trees linked via the D&B DUNS® Number with FirstRain’s real- time insights on customers and markets sets the standard for business data analytics.
“Our partnership with D&B is a tremendous milestone for FirstRain,” said Penny Herscher, CEO of FirstRain. “D&B is the global leader in business information and we are excited to bring the powerful insights that FirstRain extracts through real-time unstructured data analytics to their customer base through this partnership.”
About Dun & Bradstreet (D&B)
Dun & Bradstreet (NYSE:DNB) is the world’s leading source of commercial information and insight on businesses, enabling companies to Decide with Confidence® for 172 years. D&B’s global commercial database contains more than 230 million business records. The database is enhanced by D&B’s proprietary DUNSRight® Quality Process, which provides our customers with quality business information. This quality information is the foundation of our global solutions that customers rely on to make critical business decisions.
D&B provides two solution sets that meet a diverse set of customer needs globally. Customers use D&B Risk Management Solutions™ to mitigate credit and supplier risk, increase cash flow and drive increased profitability; and D&B Sales & Marketing Solutions™ to provide data management capabilities that provide effective and cost efficient marketing solutions and to convert prospects into clients by enabling business professionals to research companies, executives and industries.
For more information, please visit www.dnb.com.
FirstRain is a pioneer and leader in customer insights solutions for the enterprise. FirstRain’s cross-platform solutions provide sales, marketing and finance professionals with analytics tuned to their specific company strategy, allowing them to deeply understand their customer’s business and their markets. FirstRain’s patented, advanced analytics technology finds business-focused Web and social media and then integrates it seamlessly into the world’s premier CRM and social enterprise platforms, including Salesforce, Salesforce Chatter, Cisco WebEx Social, Microsoft SharePoint and Dynamics, Jive and Yammer. This intelligence is similarly incorporated into leading research platforms such as Fidelity.com, Interactive Data and Mergent. Based in San Mateo, California, FirstRain also has offices in New York and Gurgaon, India.
Wayne Roberts, 404-995-4533
Too often, salespeople get a bad rap. When the average person thinks of a sales rep, they imagine pushy, inconsiderate and generally insincere individuals who will do or say anything to close a deal. Popular culture only perpetuates these negative images. In movies like Wall Street and Glengarry Glen Ross, salesmen are depicted as ruthless, sociopathic and criminal.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Truly successful salespeople know that honesty and empathy are key to making great sales.
Understanding your customers
To be a great salesperson, you have to know where your customers are coming from. Use CRM intelligence to get a better handle on your potential buyer’s world; however, don’t use customer analytics to hurl data points at your prospects. Yes, it may communicate to them that you’ve done your homework, but it probably won’t help you make a sale. Use this information to truly understand what it is your customer needs. Then you can think about your role in helping them achieve it.
Understanding your customer’s background is a little different than actually being in the room with him or her. Being keyed into your client’s emotional state can help you better guide the conversation. Emotional intelligence can be hard to learn, but there are some ways to practice. According to Natalie Grace for the Houston Chronicle, practicing self-awareness can help you to better understand the thoughts and feelings of others. When you can identify your own emotional triggers, you will become better at noticing them in others.
Be a good listener
Part of being an understanding salesperson is knowing when to stop talking. As S. Anthony Iannarino puts it on the Sales Blog, a huge part of emotional intelligence is the ability to listen. Salespeople often put a lot of effort into changing people’s minds. However, without really understanding why someone believes what they do, these efforts are going to be in vain.
Ask good questions
If a prospect has already decided they don’t want what you’re selling, they may not say what they’re thinking. A good salesperson knows how to ask the questions that will make prospects open up.
Know when to stop
Not every pitch will end in a sale. Some clients truly don’t need or want what you’re offering, at least right now. An empathetic salesperson will know the difference between hesitation and determination. For prospects that truly have no intention of buying, persistence can be a waste of time. Being too pushy will certainly not make you look good. End on a pleasant note–it’s possible you may hear from them again in the future.