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September 2011

How Do You Communicate Your Value in a Social-Media World?

Last week I was invited to connect with a person named Tina on LinkedIn. I accepted the invitation, since the company she works for was connected to salesforce.com. Today I received this sales letter from Tina: 

Dear Sir / Mam,

How are you?

Its immense pleasure for being connected with you on Linked-In.

Before going further let me first introduce ourselves to you,

Consummate Technologies "force.com" is a based center of expertise in Apps Development and showcase "point solutions" in Education & Healthcare sectors;
We are keenly focused on Education point-solution offering based on Force.com platform for the Salesforce Foundation and would love an opportunity to work together to make solid inroads;

Currently we are positioning our certified pool of resources for agile apps-dev engagements; and would appreciate if you keep us in mind for your development need. We assure you of success with Consummate's app-dev unit/bench.

For the same, our Company's C.E.O wanted to discuss few business opportunities with you that proliferates both our companies together.
Can you please suggest me a suitable Time that works with your schedule?
So as I can arrange a call for this same.

We would love to have a chance to prove Consummate... as a trusted partner company.

Thanking you.

Regards
Tina 

I thought that Tina deserved an "A" for effort. She used social media to make a sales call.

But Tina's letter brings a few questions to mind:

  1. Why did Tina call me "Sir/Mam"?
  2. Why didn't Tina use spell check?
  3. I was confused by her suggestion to discuss "opportunities that proliferates both our companies together."  

Tina's letter made me wonder about her company's roots and leadership.

Here is the elevator pitch of Consummate Technologies.

Consummate is an IT company providing technological services under various industries. These technological services can be categorized by IT Development and IT Management. Consummate can also provide IT infrastructure services in all these domains through cutting edge technology and innovative consulting.

Here is the profile of the company's leader: 

Dr. Anil Kumar Agarwal
Managing Director

Dr. Anil Kumar Agarwal is one of the Founders of Consummate Technologies and is currently working as a Managing Director with Consummate Technologies

Dr. Agarwal was born in 1950 in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, India and is a Medical Professional from Gwalior University, Madhya Pradesh, India. Though having qualified as a Medical Professional , he did not constrained his life only in his Nursing Home as a practitioner, rather with a drive to achieve and aiming high in the Industry, he established his name in the field of manufacturing drugs near in his home town, Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh, India.

He is a skilled professional and with his expertise and experience in the field of business, he not only takes care of his Pharma Company and Private Practice as a Doctor, but also takes care of his Parental Tours & Travel business extensively in few states in India. 

Dr. Agarwal’s profile brings up a few questions:

  1. Why would a doctor run a nursing home, a pharma company, a travel business, and then start an IT company?
  2. If I agree to speak with Dr. Argawal, will he sell me on his technology, sign me up for his nursing home, sell me custom drugs, and then send me on a tour in Uttar Pradesh?

After a short search, I found DP Chem, registered in the Memorial Nursing Home in Nowgaon, Dist. Chhatarpur, India. 

Here is the manufacturing facility of Dr. Agarwal's pharma company.

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Below is the manufacturing staff. 

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Tina's letter, Dr. Argawal's profile, and his company's Websites are not designed to sell or market anything but confusion.

Here are four sales suggestions for Dr. Argawal, whose apparent goal is to gain a foothold in the global marketplace: 

1. If you have less than $20 to invest, visit Amazon.com and purchase a book that teaches employees how to write effective business letters.

2. If you have less than $50 to invest, go to http://www.writeexpress.com/sales-letter.html. This will give you access to 3,000 sales letters with helpful tips for writing letters that get results.

3. If you have less than $200 to invest, go to http://www.esldirectory.com. There, you'll find 1,000 places around the world where ambitious salespeople can learn English as a second language. 

4. If you have a budget for training, hire a company that specializes in removing the language barriers that stand in the way of your business growth. Check out www.globalenglish.com. They can help non-native-English-speaking employees gain an average of two hours per week of improved productivity.

Selling has changed. Social media is a powerful tool; salespeople the world over have leveraged its global reach to earn new business, define their company's brand, and guide conversations. But social media also magnifies communication weaknesses. Without the communicative power of face-to-face interaction, your words have to be able to stand alone. Do what it takes to get your point across plainly and powerfully.

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Can You Sell Yourself Like Actors Do? Seven Quick Acting Lessons for Sales Pros

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This guest blog was written by Julie Hansen, the author of the new book ACT Like a Sales ProJulie Hansen (@acting4sales) is a keynote speaker and trainer. She helps salespeople use acting techniques and improv skills to persuade and engage customers and prospects and close more sales.

 

Unless they're Brad Pitt or Meryl Streep, most actors must audition for every role they get. They have to find ways to stand out from the hundreds of other actors auditioning for the same role and quickly convince the casting director that they are right for the part. As salespeople, you are also auditioning. You must convince the prospect or customer that you are right for the sale. So how do actors do it? What are their secrets? Here are 7 quick acting lessons from my new book that will help you land the sale! 

1. Perform at your best by warming up.

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A good actor would never go out on stage without warming up physically and vocally, so why should we show up on the business stage without doing the same? Practice proper breathing techniques, release hidden tension, energize your body, and try vocal exercises to strengthen and add variety to your voice. A short, daily warm-up will go a long way toward communicating at your highest potential call after call.

2. Commit to your objective with strong choices.

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Nobody would watch a movie about a character who hopes or half-heartedly tries to achieve a goal. Robert DeNiro said, "The talent is in the choices." Good actors like DeNiro make strong choices. Sellers, too, should find strong, active words that motivate them to take action. Instead of wanting to make a sale, how about fighting for it? Try proving a point, as opposed to making one. Strong active verbs will keep you focused and committed to your goal. 

3. Discover urgency by raising the stakes.

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If the hero doesn't capture the villain by midnight, the villain will detonate the bomb. If he detonates the bomb, the city will be destroyed. If the city is destroyed, the country will go to war – a classic example of raising the stakes in Hollywood. You can use this same model to define the urgency for a prospect by connecting emotional triggers to potential outcomes.

4. Use unpredictability to get your calls taken.

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Lady Gaga wearing a meat suit. Lady Gaga arriving in a giant egg. What will Lady Gaga do next? Who knows?! But you can bet the world will tune in to see! Most salespeople end up doing the same thing in the same way. Don't be one of them. Unpredictability gets your calls taken and you in the door. Do something new. Do something old in a new way. Meat suit? Probably not, but you get the idea...

5. Move the sale forward by welcoming obstacles.

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Obstacles are a necessary part of drama. They keep the audience engaged and the scene moving forward. Reframing obstacles as a key element in moving the sale forward arms you with a winning attitude and leads you to discover an arsenal of actions to overcome potential obstacles. Welcoming obstacles will improve your belief in your talents and abilities.

6. Keep them engaged by using your mistakes.

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Whether an actor drops a line or a prop, they follow this rule of thumb: use it or lose it. Drawing unnecessary attention to mistakes takes the audience out of the story, and the actor has to work twice as hard to get the audience back. If you stumble over a proposal or forget your PowerPoint, don't make a big deal out of it. Use it or lose it, and keep your prospect engaged. 

7. Handle objections with improv. 

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The improv technique of saying, "Yes, and…" is an excellent way to diffuse objections and cocreate solutions. Saying yes to your prospects acknowledges their perspectives. Adding "and," followed by your suggestion, opens the door to new possibilities you may not have realized otherwise and sales you may not have closed.

Full disclosure: Julie Hansen is not a Selling Power client. 

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Social Media Is Getting Tired…Social Business Is the New Frontier

Research suggests that most social-media initiatives are owned by marketing, not sales. Yet salespeople have the most to gain from the emerging new discipline: social business. Yes, social business. Social media is designed for fun; social business is designed to create customers. While social media often leads to a waste of time, social business leads to more business.

The big question is, why aren't more salespeople getting with the program?

This week I took notes from my conversation with successful sales executives, and here is what I am hearing:

  1. "All salespeople should blog."

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    Mark Roberge, the VP of Sales at HubSpot, told me during our recent Webinar that ALL his salespeople are asked to start a blog the moment they are hired. "What's the ROI?" I asked. Mark said that he found that there is a direct relationship between his people's blogs and the company's SEO ratings on Google. He said, "HubSpot gets a higher ranking because of our blogs. What's the return on ignoring?" Mark also suggested that everybody in the company should be a marketer.

    Insight: It takes a community of sales bloggers to create customers. 
     
  2. "We plan to sell book chapters like songs."

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    An editor at a New York book-publishing company shared how the company shifted its mind-set from printing books to selling content. The big idea this company is working on involves selling book chapters like Apple sells songs on iTunes. The plan includes creating mini communities where people can share comments about a book chapter and tweet about the content. Inkling, a San Francisco-based company, is selling college textbooks online. Students can purchase individual chapters. The best part: some chapters are free. 

    Insight: Watch how other companies become social-business leaders. 
     
  3. "I made $1,200 by responding to one tweet."

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    A software sales rep told me about closing a deal. The lead was generated by his "listening" to a tweet from a prospect he'd never heard of. He checked out the prospect's company Website, then found the prospect on LinkedIn but still had no email or phone number by which to contact this person. (Yes, there are too many companies that don't publish their phone numbers on their Websites.) Next, the sales rep used a OneSource tool, iSell, and got the phone number and email address of the prospect. He sent out four emails and made eight calls before the prospect responded. Thirty days later, he closed the sale. His commission: $1,200. The result of following one tweet. 

    Insight: People do business with people, not companies. Lead by listening. 
     
  4. "I bought a plane and asked the salesperson only one question."

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    A friend of mine recently told me that he sold his old plane online and then purchased a Beechcraft Bonanza for $675,000. He "listened" to his peers on community sites to educate himself on the avionics, plane specs, purchase options, and discount structure. He learned that Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak crashed his Bonanza at takeoff in Santa Cruz due to premature liftoff followed by a stall. He used that information to get into a high-performance training course. He learned that other pilots are more credible sources of information than company Websites. Once he completed all his research, he emailed the aircraft sales rep his list of specs and what he was willing to pay, along with only one question: "When can you deliver?"

    Insight: Companies are no longer in control of the message; customers are.

In his best-selling book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, Seth Godin said it best: "For the first time ever, everyone in an organization – not just the boss – is expected to lead."

Suggested Action Steps:

  1. Change your mind-set from social media (low ROI) to social business (measurable ROI).
  2. Expand the definition beyond personal selling. Turn your salespeople into digital influencers. Teach them how to listen online, join the right communities, and engage customers in their social-business sphere. Give them sales intelligence tools, such as InsideView for Sales.
  3. Create your social-business strategy before searching for the best technology. Gartner considers Jive, Lithium, and salesforce.com as key players in the market.
  4. Take a closer look at Social CRM tools. SugarCRM, Nimble, and salesforce.com executives participated in a great panel discussion on the subject. Note how Jon Ferrara (founder of GoldMine) sees the future of Social CRM. Don't miss this eye-opening video.

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  5. Roll up your sleeves and participate in this brand new conference on November 15, 2011, in Santa Monica called "Sales Strategies in a Social and Mobile World." 

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How to Win More Customers with Better Email Practices

SueHC_head_reasonably_small Today's post was written by Sue Hershkowitz-Coore (@SpeakerSue), the author of Power Sales Writing and How to Say it to Sell itSue helps salespeople transform their sales messages and close more business. 

 

 

If you were to walk into the grocery store wearing clothing on just the top half of your body, two things would happen: 1) You'd call attention to yourself (in a really distracting way), and 2) you'd get escorted out of the store (without the chips and beer).

Emailing is just like that. If you send sales messages without attending to certain important guidelines, you become a distraction to your own success. These eight tips from my just-released second edition of Power Sales Writing (McGraw-Hill, 2011) will help your prospects and customers see you as appropriately dressed and ready to earn their business. Your respectful attention to detail will help them feel comfortable and confident in choosing to do business with you.

1. Start friendly. Though the salutation "Dear…" may have gone the way of a carbon copy, starting with a friendly hello sets the right tone. Depending on your brand, choose either "Hi," "Hello," or any variation of "Good morning/day/afternoon." Then, use your customer's name. Research shows that readers tend to misinterpret writer intent, reading positive messages in a neutral light and neutral messages in a negative one. Take a moment to say hi to create a more positive message.

2. Match your subject line with your message. Every time the subject of the email changes, so should the subject line. Use your subject line to truthfully summarize the content of your email. Whatever you do, don't promise what you can't deliver! Be transparent and relevant and likeable. If your subject line sounds like your offer is too good to be true, your email will be deleted.

3. Save the world on your own time. Your personal philosophy of life is just that, yours, and it should not be included in your signature line. Not only do you run the risk of offending a prospect, but your philosophy can also sound pompous or arrogant. Even a seemingly safe line, such as, "Consider the environment before printing," can annoy a prospect. Why chance it? 

4. Make your phone number mobile. If you want your buyer to call you back, right after the words "Please call me," include your phone number. Don't make busy prospects scroll to the end of your email to find your phone/fax number. Place important information (like your phone number) where your recipient can best use it. The easier you make it for clients to call you, the more likely they are to do it.

5. Ask for what you want! Customers shouldn't be expected to figure out what you want from them. Make it crystal clear. If you want them to get back to you, say something like, "As soon as I receive your confirmation, I'll...," or "I'll follow up with you as you suggest." Avoid using such phrases as, "What do you think?" Be specific and clear.

6. Take on the work load. It's always best to have control of the next step. Whenever possible, avoid asking your customers to get back to you. Simply say, "I'll phone you Tuesday morning to discuss the exciting options." If you ask which date is best for them, they have to take the next step – and you lose control.

7. Don't overpunctuate. Multiple exclamation points may make folks think you forgot to take your meds today. Unless something truly exciting happened (a wedding, a baby’s birth, a big contract was just landed), use only one exclamation point. Even worse than "!!!!" is "????" What is it you're really saying with all those question marks?  Be careful of ellipsis points, too. Use them too much, and your email begins to look like an S.O.S. message. You can occasionally use an ellipsis to indicate missing words or a thought break, but one... often leads to another... and to... Enough said!

8. Stop the high-priority flag thing. Only flag an email high priority if your buyer has asked you to do that (so, pretty much never). 

Create distraction-free sales messages so that customers feel safe and smart when selecting you. Take time to get dressed – and demonstrate your business smarts – to extend your professional reputation and get your best sales results.

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How to Sell More and Cut Your Expenses in San Francisco

I like to sell and travel in style, and I like to save money. Here are a few great sites that can help you do that.

Getaroundcom Getaround (getaround.com) is a site that lets you rent cars from private individuals, insurance included, for less than a rental car company would charge. For example, you could rent an Acura for $15 an hour or $240 a week. Rent a Cadillac SRX for only $10 an hour.



Airbnbcom Airbnb (airbnb.com) gives you access to thousands of rooms, studios, lofts, yachts, or apartments that are available for a lot less than the cost of a hotel room. For example, you could get a three-bedroom apartment in San Francisco for only $157 per day. 

 

Zaarlycom Zaarly (zaarly.com) gives you access to people who will be happy to work for you for $20 a day, wearing your t-shirt and walking a trade show, such as Dreamforce. Since Dreamforce doesn't charge a fee for visiting the exhibit area, companies that can't afford to exhibit can send a Zaarly sales team to the event to speak to any visitor.

 

 


Suiteamericacom SuiteAmerica (suiteamerica.com) offers one- and two-bedroom apartments for an extended stay. For example, a completely furnished (to your specs) two-bedroom apartment in Foster City will cost you about $4,800, and that includes wireless Internet access, a dishwasher, washer and dryer, and fully equipped kitchen. Huge benefit: no hotel tax.

 


Note that the providers listed above are expanding nationwide. Good news for those who like to sell and save.

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Dreamforce 11: Our Generation's Summer of Love

Michael-liebow-foretuit Today's post was written by Michael Liebow, founder and CEO of Foretuit Inc., the leading company in predictive sales pipeline management. Michael has successfully built organizations that uniquely address the needs of global markets and industries.


SummerofLove Was August's Dreamforce a corporate event?  Or a counter-cultural San Franciscan summer of love replete with shouts for an "Enterprise Uprising?"  If you were one of the 45,000 attendees, you probably think the latter.  Now that I'm returning from my 'cloud high', I find myself searching for the means in which to make the grandiose vision of the Social Enterprise a grounded reality – and to enable the kind of hard metrics that most senior executives crave in order to rationalize the required investment and resource allocation.  Based on my research, socialization allows you to focus on improvements in these five areas:

#5:  Reduced Organizational Costs: Reduce the overhead of administrative tasks and redirecting high value resources to generating revenue not managing process.  Yes – there's a novel idea – have sales people in front of customers instead of doing mundane chores.  How much time is spent each week in your org on sales reviews?  Some organizations spend upwards of two days each week, allocating hours to understanding what is happening with each forecasted deal.  This burden keeps resource from being with customers which is why you hire a direct sales org in the first place.  The goal should be to reduce the weekly process to minutes, not hours or days.  Do you have metrics in place for selling time improvement?

#4: Improved Sales Efficiency: Support automated task planning, streamlining labor intensive and error prone activity.  What is the compliance rate of associating information within opportunity records?  How many clicks does it take to add a task or associate an e-mail?  And what is the currency of the information?  If some actions take upwards of 30 clicks, then is it any wonder why adoption, compliance and currency are so low.  What if you handle the same load in one, two or no clicks?  Wouldn't that yield significant improvement?

#3: Increased Leverage/Effectiveness: Better target sales effort at prospects that are winnable and redirect resources away from lost causes as early as possible.  On average, losing deals stay in the pipe twice as long as winning deals.  Orgs are loathe to 'de-clutter' the pipe of what can only be referred to as “coverage fodder.”  For some reason, big coverage factors on a 1x target seems to make management happy, that is, until deals begin vaporizing at quarter's end (they never slip, now do they?).  Having a clean, clear pipe helps allocate resource better but requires a degree of organizational integrity to let go of the failed opportunities.  Lowering deal maturity days is critical.

#2: Better Risk Management: Reduce the need to build in margins and improve the accuracy of projections – projections that are critical to right-sizing production and other upstream and downstream decisions.  Intellectual honesty in forecasting can be difficult to achieve primarily due to subjective and highly interpretive nature of deal stage maturity assessment.  Making the process fact-based has been elusive at best, but can be done with the right pipeline management capability and transparency.  What's your forecast accuracy?  How is it measured and tracked?   Do you use standard measures of deal maturity?  Are they uniformly applied?

#1: Improved Employee and Process Assessment:  Provide the opportunity for detailed performance assessment and continual sales process improvement, not to mention allocate incentive compensation more fairly to those most responsible for winning deals.  Many organizations find attributing contribution difficult at best.  With a clear understanding of actual contribution to the deal and an understanding of behavioral characteristics associated with internal and external activity – an organization has better odds of improving productivity and process, not to mention retaining the most valuable performers.  Do you measure contribution, responsiveness and timeliness of interaction, throughout the entire deal lifecycle?

Extreme ROI

Bottom-line, modest improvements in sales efficiency and effectiveness can yield significant short term ROI – not including higher deal win rates which would boost the return exponentially.  Take a solution that costs an incremental $50/per user/month but yields a certifiable 25% increase in sales operation efficiency and a 10% improvement in management time.  Based on average comp, you would likely see a 400% ROI within 12 months.  Now you can rationalize the underpinnings of a socially connected enterprise.  And for any leading enterprise to be social, its sales people must become more effective and efficient – in other words, they must spend more time in front of and with customers.  Now that's love.

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Sales Success Strategies for a Social & Mobile World

Social media and mobile sales have changed the way we relate, communicate, and conduct business. Eric Qualman, the author of the bestselling book, Socialnomics, said it best, “We don’t have a choice whether we do social media; the question is how well we do it.”

Let’s look at the facts: Only 14% of people trust advertising; 93% of marketers use social media for business. Big Shift #1: we’re moving from customer relationship management (CRM) to customer engagement management, aka Social CRM. Tech research firm Gartner predicts that by 2012 the Social CRM market will be more than $1 billion with 100+ companies competing for this rapidly growing pie. The three leading vendors are Jive, Salesforce, and Lithium

If you’re still unclear about how to approach sales success strategies in a social and mobile world, picture your office water cooler going global, enabling B2B sales conversations in real time, 24/7. Here are the numbers:

  • 175 million users log on to Facebook every 24 hours. 
  • 65 million access Facebook through a mobile device and they share 30 billion (billion!) pieces of content every month and that number includes 3 billion photos and videos. 
  • 84% of Internet users watch videos online. 
  • YouTube visitors watch 2 billion videos every day. 
  • LinkedIn attracts one new member every second. 
  • Econsultancy reports that over 25 billion tweets were sent last year. 

Big Shift #2: Prospects care more about what their peers think than what companies think. Chest thumping is dead. Even the largest companies have to abandon the old script, “me big, you little, I tell, you listen.” Smart companies have handed the controls over to the community by offering different levels of autonomy, engagement and collaboration. Notable examples: amazon.com, and mystarbucksidea.com. 

Initiating and leading great conversations online is only one side of the story.  Gen Y salespeople consider email a thing of the past: they no longer cold call; they shifted to social calling; and they are far more productive. They also embrace new online video tools like iMeet.com and have discovered that the best way to persuade is by looking into a prospect’s eyes -- online. 

Since social media is accessible on most mobile devices, real-time collaboration is the new rage. A VP of Sales shared the story of driving in a cab to visit a client. He posted the following question on Salesforce Chatter, a social network for businesses offering secure collaboration and knowledge-sharing for CRM: 

Q: Visiting XYZ in London, any thoughts that I could share to enhance our relationship?

Within minutes the company’s CFO shared: 

A: Yes, they owe us $400,000 that’s 60 days overdue.

The result: the VP was able to eliminate the bottleneck in the company’s payment process. Problem solved.  

The social media world is slowly moving in a new direction. Let’s say you are working in a company that employs 600 salespeople. Would you want to follow everybody in that company on a social network? No. You’d follow the top 10 thought leaders and learn what’s important to them. Big Shift #3: the emphasis is moving from quantity connections to quality connections. Social learning companies like Saba benefit from this new trend by continually refining social learning tools. 

Someone recently told me: “I consider the iPhone as an extension cord to my brain.” Social media has become a second brain for everybody. Why not use it more effectively to serve the community and serve your business? 

We'll be exploring these issues during our next conference on November 14-15 in Santa Monica, "Sales Strategies in a Social & Mobile World." This conference is bringing together top-level sales leaders and plugged-in thinkers like Sales 2.0 author Anneke Seley and former Kodak CMO Jeff Hayzlett to discuss how these developments in social media can translate to increased revenue and productivity for B2B sales teams. Click here to check out the agenda and reserve your spot now. 

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