What’s Your Story?

Maureen and I have been together for 26 years.   Let me clarify, we have been together since we were 16 and 17.  This is uncommon these days, and so we are often asked what the secret is to a meaningful, and lasting relationship.  It is simple, we keep trying to impress each other!  Let me give you an intimate example: For the past 26 years whenever I leave on a cross country trip, Maureen will dress herself up, outfit, hair, everything.  She will insist on dropping me off, and picking me up.   She will make sure she leaves an impression.  A first one, and a last one.  Impressions matter.  In personal life, and in business.

How do you leave a lasting impression online?

In a world where we have come to develop relationships online, it is of utmost importance that you leave an impression online.  In the business world the global platform for that is LinkedIn.  And yes, it starts with a great picture on your profile, but you also need to complement it with an authentic story written in the first person.

Once upon a time

How to tell your story in a sincere, authentic way?

I found that the simplest way to tell your story is as follows:   What do you do passionately, that is the same both in personal, and business.  You can discover this by thinking back to when you were a teenager.  Think of something you did then, that you still do, and how it relates to what you do in your work.  Did you wake-up early? Did you dance? Were you raised in a small village?.  This simple question will help you tell your story.

The Art of connecting with your heart and mind

Next are a few stories, simply taking the same approach.

Paul’s story

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At a young age, I had a paper route where I had to get up at six am everyday to deliver newspapers, rain or shine. I learned at an early age that customer satisfaction was a critical factor in my tip for the week. If I was late or missed a house, I did not get rewarded.  Over the past 20 years, I have found one philosophy that I have lived by:

  • Listen to the what the customer needs
  • Try to deliver to their expectations
  • Ensure they are happy along the way

Simple words with a huge impact.

Mark’s story

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Hi you found me!   My name is Mark.   Early on in life I realized I love art and entertainment. This started as an aspiring artist playing the saxophone and in management college I got involved with organizing dance events. Just before I started my “corporate life” I decided to also master the marketing profession.  As one of my clients said: “Sorry for interrupting you Mark, but talking about marketing drains me. Let me do what I love to do … and that is making music … and let you do what you love to do … marketing.”  And now after 12 years with some great successes and some painful lessons (that’s experience right?) I realize that I enjoy it the most when I work directly with the artist(s). I just love their inspiration & creativity, their eye for detail and doing things openhearted & differently.  So I created my own dream job to help artists (maybe you?) showcase their talent that may be music, artwork, a film, that great event, ballet play, etc.

Tina’s story

Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 4.39.34 PMAnyone can make a movie these days. Just ask my 5th grader. She and her two classmates are making a 5 minute movie where her little brother has to play a young president. As a proud parent, I am sure it will be a perfect film.   As a technologist, and a creative person, I can truly appreciate the reality of putting together the right minds, right talent and right equipment to make a moving image worthy of a professional budget. Lucky for us, we have access to amazing technology that is affordable and has the power to make beautiful imagery.

Cecilia’s story

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I love to dance, dancing makes me happy, and I especially love Latin dances.  In dancing it requires both partners to know each other, to dance to the same rhythm & beat, and to anticipate the next move. A memorable performance requires both partners to be fully committed, in tune with each other, and that takes a positive mindset, a smile, and laughter along the way. My approach to customer success is the same, after all it takes two ToTango.

So how about that relationship advice?

So how to develop a meaningful and lasting relationship?  Treat every day as an opportunity to make a first impression!

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Posted in Content, Tools

Your content just got trashed

It’s 7:30 a.m., and I am waiting in line at Starbucks.  This is my time to prepare for the day, and I am cleaning out my inbox, by sending content to my trash folder—content that costs thousands of dollars and countless hours to create.  My daily clean-out routine starts by deleting the common perpetrators: invitations to webinars from companies I don’t know, free offers for things I don’t want, blog posts urging me to click on them, status updates and tweets from my network begging me to read something they didn’t …

This constant barrage of digital content has made me numb. The fact is that I’d rather be watching and sharing a video about a crazy kid dancing at a basketball game, than reading, and forwarding valuable content that will help me do my job.   Today’s content stands no chance of making it out of Starbucks!

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How Can You Avoid Your Content From Going Straight to the Trash Can?

I am not talking about how to draw your attention.   For this, you have to use a powerful picture, create a provocative tagline, etc.  Let’s assume you have got all that figured out, and most of you do these days. What I like to discuss is the boring content that follows. Here are some keys to creating meaningful content:

1. Engagement over entertainment:  Entertainment in the B2B world is extremely expensive.   Few of us have a CEO who is willing to commit the dollars needed for an entertainment pitch.  The better, more affordable path to success, is engagement. How to engage? Make it my story, relate it to my journey, and provide a conclusion that applies to me.

2. Offer me value. Now: I’m impatient, and I need to deliver results. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t need you to solve all my problems right then and there, but at least help me diagnose my problem, or provide a fresh perspective.  But please do not try to sell me—it won’t work.

3. Native to online/tablet use: This sounds basic, but it’s extremely important for the success of your message. Sharing a PDF file through Dropbox is not a digital content strategy. Your content should be native to online use and target a tablet instead of a PC.  The NFL leverages the TV as a medium compared with fantasy football which is an immersive online experience.  Similarly, your online content needs a new approach. Let your audience double-tap, swipe, and pinch their way through an exciting experience.

4. Be authentic: Show me you care about this topic. Show me your passion, share your opinion, forget copy/paste, and put your heart into what you do. You are truly the unique selling point, regardless if you work on the first or tenth floor.

A Lean-Backward Video vs. a Lean-Forward Prezi

Below is a typical lean-backward video experience.  This video plays uniformly on all devices. You can hit Play or Pause, and watch.  Not much engagement.

Reversal: Turning an engaging Prezi into a non-engaging, lean-back video

In contrast, click here to try this interactive lean forward experience on your iPad.  Use your fingers to navigate, pinch to get a broader perspective, swipe to change your point of view, and double tap where you want to go. You can even rotate it. Notice the difference? Instead of viewing, you are discovering.  You can start anywhere, and finish anywhere you want to.

Sell Sell Sell and Blah Blah Blah

In his book Convergence Marketing, Richard Rosen asserts that building awareness and enabling interaction require finding a balance between sales (high-velocity conversion), and marketing (low-velocity conversion). I leveraged his work to look critically, at the (software as a service) customer journey, and plugged in the content we commonly use as part of sales enablement.  What you see is that most of the content we use today falls into the categories of “Sell Sell Sell” or “Blah Blah Blah”—neither of which is engaging or meaningful to the customer. Content that hits the sweet spot between these two extremes, seems to hit the spot where it actually offers value to customers.    But beware, you may have produced the right kinds of content, but it is still key to engage through interaction.

The example above demonstrates how a boring video, becomes engaging by changing the tool. Can we do this for other content, too?

Visualization of the “trust cloud” of engaging and meaningful content—click to engage

What Kind of Content Is Ready for Overhaul?

Some types of content are easier to overhaul than others, and some have a bigger impact.  Here are the three pieces of content that I found to have the biggest impact:

  • RESEARCH MATERIALS: Aggregate, analyze, and share research through a research paper that outlines the problems experienced in your market.  Combine a variety of source materials such as video, PDF documents, etc.  The key is not to fall into the trap of recommending your solution.
  • WHITE PAPER: Present a white paper of a solution that leverages the research and that turns the analysis into action.
  • VISION PITCH: Share your vision of a better world, why we need it, how to go about it, and what is needed to get started.

Which Tools Can Engage An Audience?

For the past year, I have been tinkering with different types of online content, and published it on a variety of platforms, to determine what attracts the most views, drives the most engagement, and, ultimately, develops the most business.

I have included a table below listing the number of views, and likes, some of my top assets have accrued on various platforms. For example, my SaaS In the Enterprise prezi (white paper) received 439,396 views and 1,244 Prezi likes, while the Slideshare version of that same asset—literally the same content, simply reformatted into slides instead of path points—received only 39 views and one SlideShare like.

Comparison of the same content published on different platforms

Although each platform excels in its own way, the data show that Prezi stands out head and shoulders above the rest. Realise that the number of views (likes) directly correlates to rankings in search engines. The likes indicate engagement and are reflective of where most of the leads are being generated. Below are some of the comments I’ve received.

“Prezifying” Content Delivers Results across the Entire Journey

I recently received word from a client, to let me know that the traditional marketing materials we had “Prezified” into a Virtual tradeshow “has grown legs, and has Usain Bolt-ed way past its expected goal lines.”  The Prezi was viewed over 25,000 times, and created as many impressions as ten other videos the company had created—combined!  This kind of virality is the result of engaging, entertaining native-to-online content.

A “View” is Worth a Thousand Words

The value is not always in the number of views, likes, or shares.  Sometimes all you need is just one single view, to make a stellar sale.  Over the past months, I developed outreach campaigns for several companies, leveraging their top executives to generate leads. I’ve collaborated closely with the CEO to send out a brief and to-the-point e-mail asking a prospective CEO to take a look at the Prezi and determine if the idea in question was of interest.

Why not? Value is simple. The seller is going to spend his valuable resources, to engage the prospective clients’  valuable resources to come to the conclusion that your offer is not on the CEO’s priority list.

Why not spend money on a professional storyteller, who captures the value, avoids all the (technical) details ,and tells it in a visually stimulating way? This approach continues to show great results. In my opinion, the best “cold calls” are actually made by executives who use their skills and networks.  I was very fortunate to find several of my clients willing to share their CEO-to-CEO Prezis that illustrate the power.

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Three examples of CEO-to-CEO stories

Yes, content is key in a digital strategy.  Yes, content sells in a digital strategy.  But what content are you going to build your strategy around?  Add pictures to your PowerPoint and post it on SlideShare? Create a boring e-book around your valuable content? A shallow Infographic that generates views?

I hope that after this post has given you, a sense of what is possible, and perhaps even some fresh ideas.  If you like to read more, click here, and if there is anything I can do to help, you know where to find me.  At Starbucks, having a coffee, while cleaning out my inbox.

PS:  Try out the Apple Speech function to have this article read to you while stuck in traffic.

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The Social Selling Campaign

Why do we need a social selling?

Prospective buyers identify problems, discover needs, and create a list of prospective solutions online, long before you get the call.  They breeze through this based on online search—instead of—leveraging the expertise and insights of sales professionals, gained over a lifelong career.  And so, as sales professionals, we find ourselves having to bid on price, or worse, are not invited to bid at all.  If this sounds familiar, you should consider a social selling campaign.

How does social selling work?

I don’t find myself buying a lot from friends or peers, however, for most purchases, I do consult with friends or peers.  And that is the key to social selling.  Social selling engages your best asset, your sales team, to spread the word around using their sales expertise in combination with their network.

A meaningful network

Sales professionals across industries will tell you that there is a lot more business value in their network over a purchased “lead list.”  Every day social media is proving they are right.

Social selling leverages your sales force’s network by sharing meaningful content, on a social media network like LinkedIn, to bring your company’s solution to the full attention of prospective clients, early on in the process, when a client is defining requirements and exploring solutions.

No need to know everyone

For social selling to work, it is not required for the sales force to have a personal connection with every prospective client.  Social networking is designed to take place in the second degree of your network. As long as sales professionals have between 200 and 500 relevant connections, success can be achieved.

What does social selling entail?

A recent blog post by Mark Schaeffer, titled The fundamentals of a social selling campaign, identifies the elements of success during this stage:

It is important to recognize that should be seen from a client’s perspective, a client who has a problem that needs to get resolved.  What content is meaningful to him/her?  What does he/she considers to be helpful?

Social selling is not marketing

Today most organizations rely on marketing to manage social media.  Marketing properly uses the company’s social media network and places meaningful content at watering holes frequented by prospective buyers, such as blog sites and LinkedIn groups.  The results of these campaigns lead to increased awareness, measured by impressions and engagement.  But they do not generate sales.  The critical missing piece is the sales force providing their authentic insights, and extending their personal network:

  • Marketing: Social Media Campaign = Awareness
  • Sales: Social Selling Campaign = Deal Flow

The social selling campaign

The most effective way of social selling is to partner with marketing and rally your sales team around a compelling event like a trade show, or a new product/service release.  This creates a focused effort, or a social selling campaign.

Your first social selling campaign

Unlike most corporate initiatives, a social selling campaign does not rely on a centralized technology of sorts;  it can be implemented today by any sales leader who is ready to unleash the power of the sales force.  Here is how you start:

  • Together with marketing, pick a compelling event,
  • Develop meaningful content that matches your client’s journey,
  • Introduce your sales force to social selling with a training session,
  • Let your sales force publish the content on LinkedIn and Twitter.

If you want to learn more, or better yet get started today, click here.

It is time to get your shades out. The future is bright!

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Posted in Content, Methodology, Tools, Uncategorized

Value of Presentations

Attending, preparing, and giving presentations is a critical part of doing business. The big question is, what is the outcome of your presentations? How many presentations lead to measurable results? On behalf of Selling Power and SalesOpShop.com I recently conducted a survey of B2B sales professionals to get a better understanding on this subject.

How much time do you spend on presentations?

Of the 175 participants in the survey, 76% indicate they need presentations to do their job, and for 53%, this means they attend at least one to two presentations a week. The most prominent users are product managers, who attend several presentations a day, present once or twice a week and, together with marketing, spend as much as a full day in preparation. Sales, which accounted for 56% of the respondents, present less frequent, and spend only a couple of hours in preparation.

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How much does a presentation cost?  

Let’s take the example of a small company of about 50-100 employees and assume that a midlevel manager creates and delivers a presentation to 10 people in the organization:

  • 8 hours (@ $65/hour) to create      $    520
  • 1 hour to deliver to 10 people      $    650
  • Total cost for one presentation  $ 1,170

This excludes the cost of a conference room, projector, technical support, and condiments for the participants.

The costs of presentations are staggering!

Similarly, assuming a company uses conference rooms for its internal presentations, and inside sales and field sales representatives for its external presentations, it will find itself investing the following:

  • $273,000/year per conference room on internal presentations,
  • $88,000/year per field sales professional on client presentations, and
  • $12,400/year per inside sales professional on client presentations

A company that employs five outside reps and two inside reps will spend nearly a million dollars annually on presentations.  If you want to estimate the amount your company is investing use our online calculator.

What is the outcome of presentations?

There is a great value in getting people together at a set time to share ideas by having a conversation that is initiated through a thought-provoking presentation.  However, in most corporations, the majority of internal presentations are provided by untrained people who deliver monologues instead of engaging in two-way conversations. As you can tell from the results below, approximately one out of two presentations is considered valuable enough and leads to a measurable result.

Q3 How many were worth your time

As for external presentations, the result appears worse.  In the sales industry the monologue, one-way presentation is so commonplace that it is referred to as “a talking brochure”.  It is no surprise that a panel of buyers at the recent Sales 2.0 Conference in London rated only 1 out of 8 presentations valuable. When posed with the question “What do you fear the most?” their response was “long and boring vendor presentations.”

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How can presentations be improved

How can we deliver a better return on the sizable investment in presentations both internally and externally?
Q8 What would make your presentation better

These responses can be separated in a few areas of improvement:

  1. Prepare by researching your audience and develop, a story line that matches their need.
  2. Make your content exciting, adding telling visuals, and base it on relevant/reliable data.
  3. Improve your delivery by practicing, and with every practice, shorten it up until the length is between 12 and 15 minutes.
  4. Integrate a way to engage and involve your audience early on.

For those presenting regularly, I recommend Duarte Academy and, in particular, its workshop Resonate.  If you are presenting data, I recommend Edward Tufte and his class Presenting Data and Information.

Rethinking presentations

But the biggest opportunity for presentations does not come from improving the way we present.  There is a far bigger opportunity with new use cases powered by the latest presentation tools.  These emerging use cases operate at a lower cost and provide a more meaningful and measurable return. Use cases that will make you rethink presentations altogether:
  • The briefing presentation: Pioneered by account executives in need of a presentation before the meeting to make room for conversation during the meeting resulting in a shorter sales cycle.
  • The white paper presentation: White papers command the highest sign-up ratio of any online asset. Give your white paper exponential exposure with 100K views and 1,000 likes to drive lead gen.
  • The client roadmap presentation: Developed by a product manager who wanted to let the client drive the discussion using double tap and swipe, resulting in a more productive conversation.
  • The online sales pitch: Pioneered and developed by inside sales teams based on its efficiency & effectiveness.  This includes desktop/application sharing for instant demonstrations.
  • The Starbucks experience: Conversations are moving from a conference room into a coffee shop, where you sit side by side and use an easy-to-navigate presentation tool to spark a conversation.

As you can see, no longer does a presentation need to take place at a set time and location with a lean-back audience being asked to listen intently and ask questions at the end. These new use cases take aim at a lean-forward audience, and its goal is to drive conversation. For more examples, click here to visit my content section.

How do you capitalize on the opportunity?

If you want to capitalize on the opportunity, do not hesitate to contact me.

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Posted in Content, Skills, Tools

Is Sales A People Business?

I have always been a strong believer in people doing business with people.  Yet I see sales professionals being replaced by an online experience, at a staggering pace, where the recommendation of a trusted source exceeds the value of a B2B sales professional.

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Today we buy more things online at an increased financial risk.

Several years ago as a consumer, I would only buy stuff online of which the value was less than $100.  This was the risk I was willing to take.   Today my comfort level has been raised significantly.  For example my entire suite of business software, valued at a total of $10,000 is now licensed online. For me $2,500 is still a lot of money, yet I have no problem subscribing to the Adobe software suite.

It’s not about a buying experience, it’s about getting a problem solved.

I have noticed that I am not looking for a “buying experience”.  I am not looking for a sales person in a Best Buy store to educate me, nor an online person at Amazon to help me make a buying decision.  I am looking for getting my problem solved, and preferably as quickly as possible.  If I can get my problem solved, for an equal or lower price, without any help, right from the comfort of my living room, I will not hesitate and click buy.

What is the value of the sales person?

For me the value of a personal interaction is less about helping me make the right decision, and more about reducing the risk of buying the wrong solution.  As a consumer and enterprise user, I am used to educate myself and make an informed decision.  Thus the sales person has started to play a decreasing role in the information process.  The increasing role they play, is to help me after the sale, to deploy and become successful.  In return for successfully using a service, I will gladly buy more and share my experience as a reference.

Power of a recommendation.

The recommendation of a trusted source exceeds the value an average sales person offers in the process.

ASK YOURSELF: A CTO at a 100 person start-up has made a bad purchasing decision.  He sits in e-staff confronted with the consequences of his decision.  What is worse for him? That he made the wrong decision based on: a) diligent research and being outsold by a sales pro, OR, b) following the recommendation of his CEO who successfully used the service at another company.

For every great sales experience there are many bad ones.

When we say sales is a people business we talk about how great it is to do business with that superstar you once did business with.  The superstar that spends time with you, educated you, helped you process the order, and stood side-by-side with you when the system launched at 2am.  However in B2B only 1 out of 4 experiences with a sales professional is a great one, and I am kind here.  In most cases the sales person never has used their own product, has hardly attended any training, and merely is able to quote speeds & feeds.  In the business we refer to these folks as talking leaflets.  And there are many talking leaflets out there.  These talking leaflets are driving more and more clients every day to buy online at a higher risk.

Will Sales be replaced by Marketing and Customer Success.

Recently I was on a panel at the sales 2.0 conference in London, where Dr. Jonathan Farrington of Top Sales World (www.topsalesworld.com) made the prediction that within five years only the Creme De la Creme of front line sales professionals (20%) will still be around.  Flying home from London this thought kept me awake.  If sales is to be replaced by the internet, it is marketing and customer success that will have to step-up, creating and fulfilling demand, is that even possible?

The new norm

Customers big and small buy a product/service to solve a problem, not to have a great buying experience that will help a salesperson meet his quota.  Today I buy online as follows;

  • I do my online research, shortlist 2 to 3 options.
  • Obtain recommendations from trusted sources, with an emphasize on those who use it.
  • Buy it in the most convenient way.
  • At the lowest possible price/risk, no pay, no cure.

B2B business teams have to start modelling, their marketing, sales and customer success functions along this consumer experience.

Future Of Sales Is Now.

For every online tool clients use to find the right solution, we are offered the same tool to sell our solution.  The Future Of Sales will be determined by sales’ ability to embrace the tools available, and modernize their sales skills to meet the needs our clients are expressing today.   Other businesses that relied heavily on “personal touch” such as: job search, personal training, and even dating services give us an indication of the consequence of no-action.  Start modernizing your sales team now with small yet swift steps.  When you are ready to take the first step, click here.

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Posted in Methodology

Social Selling Lessons From The Mall

People that visit your store to use the bathroom aren’t leads.

Think of your B2B company as having a store in a mall. The mall is called Facebook or LinkedIn with your store being your corporate page within the mall. Your sales team is hanging around in the store waiting for buyers to come in, e.g. leads being generated.

CEO Demands a Social Media Campaign

But leads are hard to come and the CEO tasks the marketing with a social media campaign. Marketing starts by hanging signs at strategic spots throughout the mall (banners-ads), based on how many people walk through (traffic), and they leave them no option but see your ads (impressions). Marketing even found a way to pay off the people at the central information desk to make sure they refer anyone your way (GoogleAds).

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Great Stats On The Lead-Gen Program

The entrepreneurial and hard working marketing team did not leave it at that, they also hired a number of kids who are putting flyers under your windshield wipers (lead-gen campaigns). The stats look great, more leaflets every day, and more impressions from the banner-ads, even more people stop by your store (pageviews). Most of them however are asking if they can use your bathroom. Urgh.

Sales Remain Flat! Whoa.

Encouraged by the great stats (big data) you decide to put up more banner ads in the most effective areas (targeting), the flyer kids have been trained to put different flyers based on the kind of car (lead scoring). The always friendly person at the information desk has contacted you, competition is offering more money, alas you double the price.

Your find yourself six months later, your social media budget just doubled and the stats look great, but your sales shows no increase. Marketing and Sales now fight frequently blaming each other, whilst neither is at fault. Eventually the perceived non performance take its toll, leading to one fired, and the other leaving soon after.

What is happening?

Continuing the analogy here is what you did not see! With marginal real-estate & building cost the shopping mall was able to double retail space overnight. Declining your % and with it your exposure. And although overall traffic continues to increase, this does you no good. It is the wrong kind of traffic. The real leads are going to the hip stores that are opening up in the new parts of the mall, where cewl kids in jeans and on skateboards attract all the attention and seem to have no need for advertisement whatsoever (start-ups).

It is time for you to deploy your best asset!

The solution to this is right in front of you. Your biggest asset. Your sales team. You have invested in this group of people to handle this situation over the past years, and it is time for you to engage them in social selling!

But they too are in unfamiliar terrain, and whilst your superstars will find a way to make it work, the lionshare of your sales team needs to be coached on social selling.

Social Sales Lessons From The Shopping Mall

Social selling is nothing new, you actually experience it yourself every-time you go to the mall. I encourage you to look around and see if you can spot what works and what doesn’t. Why many brand name stores are completely empty, yet some seem to thrive. Here are some of my observations of what successful stores do;

  • They have their best people go out of the store and walk around offering samples (social selling)
  • They put up an incredibly cool, yet short, demo together that gather crowds (social selling)
  • They have personable people that you meet in line at Starbucks (social selling)
  • Instead of having a store, they have a pop-up booth that sell iPhone covers 10 feet away from the Apple store (social selling)
  • And don’t forget the mom & pop store that knows you, your entire family, and wants to know first how your mom is doing (social selling)

Time to take action!

How do you get your sales team started? You will be surprised to find that your sales team actually will be very excited to get involved with this. I have seen the most reserved sales teams get really excited once they understand this is about the core of their beliefs, building relationships between human beings. Here are some simple steps & examples to start with;

  • CONTENT: Provide your sales team with content developed in response to todays client needs. Instead of a long boring powerpoint, create an engaging Prezi for them (example social sales pitch – 2mins 1k views )
  • TOOLS: Enable them with the latest in sales tools, a LinkedIn Sales Navigator license, simple to use desktop sharing license (example tool training – 1min 69k views)
  • SKILLS: Provide them with frequent short coaching sessions, think of a video series, no more than 5-10 minutes each to coach a new skill (example skills training session-2min NEW 100 views)

Share your own experience! Contact me with your story.

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Posted in Content, Skills, Tools

Value of Business Meetings

When I started my sales career I was told I’d better practice my golf swing, as a 4 hour afternoon golf outing was the norm ‘to do business’.  Over the years this vanished, together with the 2 hour steak dinner, the 75 minute business lunch, and as of late getting a one hour business meeting on the calendar is a challenge.  Are we experiencing the rise of the 15 minute business meeting, and if so are we ready for that?

Rise of the 15 minute business meeting

Experience gained over thousands of business meetings tell me that by using online tools – 90% of all in person meetings – can be reduced to a 15 minute (online) meeting. You will have a hard time finding a client that will argue that.

A 15 min online meeting changes everything

For decades sales professionals have been trained how to do a one hour in person business meeting.  Changing this into an online 15 minute meeting requires a new set of tools, a different set of skills, and use of engaging content. Above all it requires training!

Whoever adapts first, wins first

In other words – How You Sell has become a competitive differentiator!  The good news is that the money you save on a single flight will pay for all the tools needed, and the time saved on travel can now be applied to training.

How to make a 15 minute online meeting a success

Over the past 18 months I have worked with several sales teams and renowned external advisors such as Gerhard Gschwandtner of Selling Power 2.0 and Dan Adams of Trust Triangle Selling, and here are a few of the lessons we learned:

  • Tools:  Setup your LinkedIn profile to do the introduction process.  Instead of a phone call do an online meeting by sharing your desktop. Use tools like join.me, that do not require your client to become a member of your social network (like Skype). As for Video conference (I love vSee) make sure you are prepared with a professional backdrop, some halogen lights, and please look the part!
  • Skills:  The best meetings occur when you collaborate which requires a conversation (not a presentation). The best way to engage an audience is to present fresh ideas from different perspectives.  However time is ticking so get to the point quickly, you are competing with e-mails, tweets, and text messages using pop-ups, beeps, flashes and vibrations to draw their attention.
  • Content: Strive to use a lot more visuals vs. text.  Taking your audience on a journey of (a few) web-sites that support your case – you can even step through relevant articles you posted on your LinkedIn profile.  Tie it all together in a simple Prezi which in turn can be posted on your social media.

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 12.13.25 PM

Train as a team, perform as an individual

Sales enablement is about learning as a team to enable us to perform better as individuals.  Join me in the conversation in the sales enablement group at http://www.salesopshop.com and accelerate your learning experience.

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Posted in Content, Skills, Tools

Value of Tradeshows

A creative sales enablement idea 

How to maximize investment in a major trade show? I recently stumbled on this super simple and cost effective use-case and wanted to share this with you.  Click on the picture below: Seeing is believing!

What happens here

It takes a full day at a trade show to get the story down!

Over the past years I always had the feeling that only on the 2nd day of a show I finally ‘got the story down’.  Consulting at Harmonic I realized that with a large group of over 150 professionals headed for Las Vegas, this was a great challenge for Sales Enablement.

How to start the experience a week before the event starts? 

So I walked over to the marketing department, who got the idea, and supplied the artwork of the booth and other readily available materials.  With it we created a simple Prezi that was distributed a week in advance.  We focused on having the attendees visualize the experience, and put bits of info in there so they could start practicing how best to engage clients with a simple story, learn from expert insights, and develop relevant questions to prompt a conversation with their clients.

Videos on Youtube do not tell the entire story

Independently, Harmonic’s marketing team was shooting video interviews to shine a spotlight on its pioneering innovations around Cloud based Services, HEVC, and Ultra High Definition.  These interviews captured not only the content itself but also the authentic trade show experience.  Putting these video’s ‘just on Youtube’ somehow did not seem to relay the total story nor does it capture the excitement everyone was experiencing.

Pinching, swiping & tapping is a universal language

After the show closed, we added these videos to the Prezi with just a few clicks.  Looking at the result it dawned on us that in a matter of hours we had created a simple to use breakthrough sales enablement tool that in addition to providing excellent value to clients & partners can be used in a growing number of ways throughout the company.  Here are just a few of the take-aways:

  1. Salespeople send this Prezi out as a follow-up.  We have noticed clients pass it on to their staff, which increases reach and creates mind share in a value add way 
  2. Since this is a hosted Prezi, it is available 24/365 globally – we notice there is a global audience, unable to attend in person, but interested to participate in the virtual 4-5 minute experience 
  3. Due to the engaging content it allows us to bring newly hired staff quickly up to speed and have them pass it around to their network to inform them what they are doing
  4. Employees learn what the company does beyond their daily scope, and they express pride, and share this link through Social Media, and/or e-mail
  5. Prezi is very iPad/iPhone friendly, and allows the audience to engage with the story through the universal language of swiping, pinching and double tapping

As a result the ROI of this tradeshow increases as the reach and use of the Prezi grows.  We are talking about this and much more at http://www.salesopshop.com –; join the sales enablement group and share your ideas.

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Posted in Content, Methodology, Tools, Training

Role of Customer Success

Social media is giving your client a voice that can be heard across the world.   It is because of that voice, customer success can no longer be an empty promise, it has to be a solidified program in every company.  Of equal importance is that because of the SaaS business model, revenue generation has shifted,  most revenue is earned way after the deal is closed, with a higher profit, and more visibility.

With this really BIG carrot and a really LONG stick Customer Success is rapidly becoming the change agent within B2B companies.   But if you were thinking to setup a customer success group in a stand-alone silo, simply to have them deliver on the promises the acquisition sales team made to get the deal – you better think again.

Five examples of where Customer Success will drive cross-silo alignment

  • Sales to be compensated on Client Success – A buyer is held responsible for buying the right solution and today’s competitive business environment is very unforgiving in case a mistake is made.  On the other hand a sales individual is rewarded and applauded for being able to sell ‘Ice to an Eskimo’. Common sense tells me that in order for clients to be successful we must hold sales teams (not just individuals) accountable for diagnosing a client’s problem and recommending the right solution, and that means we must consider to compensate against it.
  • Problem Diagnosis as a Qualifier – In sales we generally qualify an opportunity based on budget, time, and compelling reason. Many go further and add both decision maker, and decision process.  But rarely is there an opportunity qualifier along the lines of ‘problem diagnosis established’.  Customer Success requires that we add “Problem Diagnosis” as a key qualifier and will drive the acquisition sales process.
  • Curiosity over Closing – We persistently have trained our sales teams to hunt and close deals.  Right now, throughout the world, sales coaches are preaching to sales teams, large and small on the ABC of Sales – Always Be Closing.  Companies that pursue true client success MUST provide the sales team with a fresh take on the ABC of Sales – Always Be Curious to drive the awareness and importance of researching, provoking and inquiring to diagnose what the client needs to be successful (add healthy dose of Challenger Selling).

ABC

  • Self Qualification over Lead/Demand-Gen – Prospective clients can be expected to self-qualify if a product/service applies to them.  What is missing is that most companies do not give prospective clients the ability to self-qualify, even just with a simple 60-90 second video pitch. WHAT problem does a company solve, HOW was it solved, and WHY are you motivated to do so.  Simon Sinek has proven, that successful companies start with the Why, then How, then What.  Customer Success requires your marketing department to re-direct resources from low efficiency DG/LG campaigns to a new set of high-efficiency self-qualification tools that give a simple/correct impression of what problem your company solves.
  • Show you Care – Most companies see clients as a means to an end to meet quarterly targets. This is becoming very visible on social media.  On LinkedIn for example, most sales people state how well they performed against quota, the gross margin/profits they created, and the awards they received as a result.  Marketing professionals outline the great Lead-Gen/Demand-Gen programs they run, and the % of opening rate they achieved.  Your future client(s) will find you on LinkedIn (and twitter), and if you appear not to care about helping a client but rather the numbers then why should they care about you and your company?  Customer Success can provide great customer insights to the company on why they should care.

Customer Success as the Big Differentiator

In a world where most products look and feel the same, and with ‘unique’ cloud based services a dime a dozen, Customer Success is the next Big Differentiator for your company.  As a leader you will have to establish alignment between Marketing, Sales and your Customer Success teams.   The consequence for not realizing the importance is simple (see below).

Hangman

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Posted in Methodology, Skills
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