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November 2011

Redefining CRM: Expanding Its Reach in a Mobile World

Mike-muhneyThis guest blog post is by CRM industry veteran and expert, Mike Muhney. He's the cofounder and cocreator of ACT!, and the CEO and cofounder of VIPorbit Software, which focuses on mobile relationship management solutions for users of smartphones and tablets.

 

American Express developed its advertising slogan, "Don't leave home without it," in the 1970s. What we won't leave home without has changed dramatically since then. For me, it's a very short list: my keys, my wallet, and, of course, my smartphone. And I doubt I'm alone.

This burgeoning landscape of mobile devices begs the question: Isn't it time to redefine customer relationship management to include mobile relationship management?

Why should it be limited to corporate use? For too long, CRM solutions have really only catered to the enterprise and small-to-midsize-business (SMB) world. One of the largest sectors of any economy, the individual consumer, which includes the sub-SMB realm, has been virtually overlooked. This untargeted and therefore untapped market opportunity stands to gain possibly more than any other from the best aspects that traditional CRM provides its users.

To reach these previously overlooked consumers, we must redefine CRM by focusing on the fundamental components of relationship management. At its core, CRM exists to effect higher sales and profits for its users. Even the recent surge of social media reinforces its primary goal of developing personal relationships from which to create more loyal customers. And just as our best relationships imply an element of closeness, both social and mobile solutions provide further means with which to maintain and expand that condition.

According to Forrester, 1.5 billion people are using smartphones and tablets. Many of them are self-employed individuals or employees of small organizations who, because of mobile devices, are able to work how they want, where they want. As independent users, their professional success depends even more heavily on their ability to develop and maintain business relationships. As smartphone and tablet users, they require mobile business solutions to manage those relationships.

While fewer than 20 million people currently use enterprise CRM/CM solutions, the remaining mobile device users who are unlikely to use existing CRM systems now have access to relationship management solutions. Given the power, ubiquity, and convenience of the smartphone, who couldn't use it for mobile relationship management? After all, most people in business are relationship-centric in one way or another.

People are becoming more and more dependent on their mobile devices. Over time, as the functionality and utility of these devices increase, their dependency on PCs and notebooks will decrease. Mobile should provide more flexibility, not less.

To many mobile device users, traditional relationship management options are too complex, pricey, and cumbersome. These mobile device users are looking for truly convenient, desktop-like, full-featured applications for their devices and will create greater demand for consumer-priced solutions, including CRM. And, at the risk of sounding heretical, there is actually a place for an individual to use both an established CRM system for corporate purposes, as well as one for outside-of-corporate reasons for those whose companies mandate CRM use but have no place to manage their other relationship knowledge.

To better meet the needs of the CRM veteran entrenched in an enterprise system and using mobile as an adjunct, personal, database manager, as well as the individual user new to the benefits of relationship management for business, CRM must be redefined. It must go beyond merely recognizing the existence of mobile users to fully capitalizing on the opportunities of the new mobile landscape.

As Mark Roberge, VP of sales for HubSpot, recently said to me, "If it doesn't run on my smartphone, then I won't use it." Now there's an interesting follow-up story...

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Closing the Gaps in Lead Nurturing

BDenneyThis guest blog post is by Baxter Denney, principal of Marketologist, which provides strategic marketing consulting. Baxter is a marketing automation and demand management expert. 

 

 

Lead nurturing is a largely familiar term among the marketing automation software crowd, but in case you are new to the game, here is a great description from Eloqua: "At its core, lead nurturing is the process of cultivating leads that are not yet ready to buy."

The approach to setting up a lead-nurturing program is pretty straightforward:

  • Identify who you will nurture.
  • Identify how you will do it.
  • Create content.
  • Set things in motion.
  • See what happens.

Many organizations new to the idea of marketing automation and lead nurturing will take this route; however, they will be doing themselves a disservice. Let's go back to the Eloqua definition and the concept of cultivating leads. The word "cultivate" implies a sort of building process. It is not a hit-and-run instant. For marketers to truly cultivate a lead, they need to influence the buying-decision process at every step throughout the customer's lifecycle. The most powerful way to influence the buying-decision process is to strategically provide targeted content to your prospects based on where they are in the process.

Baxter Denney of Marketologist works with companies every day, helping them set up quality lead-nurturing programs that do just this. Here is an outline of his method.

First, he says, you have to visualize every step in the buying-decision process. He suggests using the image of a funnel, something any of us in the sales and marketing world should be very familiar with. Below is an example.

SiriusFunnel-large

The funnel and stages may vary by organization, but the point is to visualize each stage and identify points where marketing can add value and influence by nurturing. This is what Denney calls a gap analysis. He provides an example, using a fictitious company called Webert. He looked at the current content-nurturing program, comparing that to the number of leads that ended up converting. Here is a chart showing what he found.

COL_DemandGen_Waterfall_funnel_2011_06_26

Overall, this program looks pretty good; however, there is always room for improvement. In this next image, Denney illustrates the places where marketing is either completely absent or has the potential to modify the message to better reflect the buyer's stage in the buying process.

COL_DemandGen_Waterfall_funnel_gapanalysis_2011_06_26

With this analysis done, Webert can now begin constructing a revised program that will nurture these identified gaps. The next step is to develop (or repurpose) content that has both a meaningful and appropriate message that will engage buyers.

Finally, it is vital that marketing keeps sales involved in this process. When doing the gap analysis, pull the sales team in so that it can provide real-time feedback. Perhaps there are additional gaps the team can identify. Additionally, sales can communicate to marketing where the most support is needed. Then marketing is able to create a nurturing program accordingly. With both sales and marketing on the same page, companies will be able to optimize their nurturing program in order to convert the most leads possible.

For Denney's full post, see the Marketing Automation Software Guide blog.

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How Much More Will You Sell in 2012 with Social Media?

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Today's guest blog post is by Caitlin Robersonfounder and CEO of Wordisseur, a content marketing consultancy that specializes in sparking conversations online for technology vendors. Follow her on Twitter @CaitlinMarketng.

 

I just attended the "Sales Strategies in a Social & Mobile World" conference, and if the pulse of the room was any indication of how fast social business is changing, then prepare yourselves for a head-spinning 2012. Check out the conversation on Twitter (#s20c).

Below are the key takeaways from the invigorating day, which include the following:

  • 5 key trends of a rapidly changing marketplace
  • 4 principles for sales success with social media
  • 3 steps to sales transformation

5 Key Sales and Marketing Trends

  1. Companies are suffering from adaptation apathy. @Gerhard20 (the Sales 2.0 Conference host) said the rate at which business is changing has increased by 10, and most companies lag behind, changing at a rate of only 3x. Keep doing business the way you've always done it, and you'll be out of business in 3 years.

  2. Email is dying. An average of 200 emails floods your prospect's inbox every day, and as many as 97 percent of them are unwanted. Video is the new high-impact sales medium. Successful companies reach out to prospects through social media, and then they connect face-to-face online. Find great tips to put your best face forward online here.

  3. Geographic territories will become extinct. @MichaelLodato said geographic territories have become useless in a social world. If your Chicago-based sales rep has a closer social connection to your San Diego-based prospect, it doesn't make sense to assign that lead to your San Diego-based sales rep. Social proximity beats geographic proximity, hands down. Lodato termed the new idea "social proximity prospect management."

  4. Thought leadership is out; community leadership is in. Marketing owns more of the sales funnel now that buyers self-guide up to 80 percent of their buying cycles online. To earn their place at the revenue table, marketers must join the online conversation, become community leaders, and be numbers driven. Conversations and collaboration must lead to measurable ROI metrics if they have any hope of fueling future success.

  5. Standardization is dead. @Gerhard20 also said, "We are moving from the industrial world that aimed at standardization to the information world, which aims at customization." We no longer can afford managers who rigidify sales and marketing processes, strangling opportunities left and right. Off-the-shelf solutions stopped working in 2008. Customers expect greater flexibility and customization – for everything. B2B needs to adopt the 1:1 sales strategies of B2C.

4 Principles for Social-Media Success

  1. The corporate voice = the personal voice. The social business operates in a 1:1 world. @MarkRoberge (VP of sales at HubSpot) says every HubSpot sales rep is required to blog, and IBM's joining the social crusade across multiple channels.
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  2. You learned the rules for online conduct from your mom and grandma. (Credit for this tagline goes to Jon Ferrara, @Nimble's CEO.) If someone RT's you, say thanks. Asked @JeffreyHayzlett, would you interrupt a live conversation between two people you don't know? Personally, I think the answer is maybe. It begs the question, is the cold tweet the new cold call? Attendees weighed in below.
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  3. Content catches customers. The social business rests squarely on four pillars: people, process, technology, and content. Successful companies create killer content for every stage of the buying cycle.

  4. Quality trumps quantity. @Jon_Ferrara described this phenomenon with the following metaphor: "We're swimming in a social river. Catchable fish only swim by once in a while, so why would you tweet every second?" Proof for the point: Jon only tweets three to four times each day but has 8,000 followers. Check out my quick tips for quality connections during events here.

3 Steps to Sales Transformation

Here is a crib-sheet version of the preconference roundtable:

  1. Identify the emerging opportunities in a chaotic marketplace.
  2. Objectively assess your internal capabilities and realign them to match external opportunities. Again, think people, process, technology, and content.
  3. ROI and metrics: rinse and repeat in real time…all the time.

Your takeaway: Sales transformation will deliver predictable sales performance. Just check out how many leads @PAKRAGames sources through social media:

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It all comes down to the value you deliver. @AnnekeSeley's RT said it best:

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Sales and marketing leaders, what other trends and principles are guiding you as you refine your plans for 2012?

Thanks to @Sales20Conf – and everyone quoted here – for a fantastic conference.

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Five Ways to Measure If Facebook "Likes" Work for Your Business

Wedding_just_me_reasonably_smallThis guest blog post is by Julie Bevacqua, Vice President of Global Marketing for CDC Software. As a natural networker and team motivator, she has encouraged, guided and steered her team to play a major contributing role in maintaining the company's online presence.

As the business world continues its shift from what the seller wants to what the customer demands, simple tools such as Facebook's "Like" are getting a lot of attention.

You no longer have to imagine what the customer does or does not like about your products or services. If you're lucky enough to have a Facebook following, they'll tell you!

Depending on what you sell, a large percentage of Facebook's 500 million users could be your market. According to eMarketer, the 2011 forecast for ad revenue spend on Facebook is $4 billion. But with all this money being poured into Facebook, savvy marketers are beginning to ask questions:

  • How can we measure Facebook?
  • What is the ROI on the time, effort, and money spent?
  • Do I pay for additional advertising on Facebook? If so, what should I pay?
  • What is my return on ad spend?

And the ultimate question: what is a fan "Like" really worth to my business?

The value of a fan can mean different things depending on your business. Consider Papa John's: would you connect with your favorite pizzeria on Facebook? Nearly 2 million fans seem to think it's a great idea. Papa John's started its page only after discovering that people were actually creating Papa John's fan pages!

In this instance, the value of a "Like" is tangible and hard to ignore. For some companies, the value may mean an actual sales figure; for others, the evangelical aspect of a "Like" proves invaluable. How do you know what your fan value is?

Such companies as Syncapse have assigned a value of $136.38 to each fan, while Vitrue brings it down to $3.60! In fact, Vitrue has released a free tool: Social Page Evaluator, which helps you set a value to your Facebook page. While some argue it is not necessarily the most scientific way to assess your online marketing strategies, it does provide a starting point.

As with any social media, metrics are still being worked out, and the results are often hard to compile. So step outside the box and explore these five ways to determine if Facebook "Likes" can work for your business.

1. Consider the nature and size of your business. It is important to understand that the actual advantage to a company will depend on a number of factors, including its size and ad spend, as well as the nature of the goods and services it promotes. Smaller enterprises may well focus their efforts on Facebook, while larger companies will regard Facebook as part of a bigger social-media strategy that spans the enterprise.

2. Question your transactions. More and more retail stores are using Facebook to target their clientele by offering such things as a promo code in exchange for being a fan; however, you may need to give more in order to be "Liked."

3. Reassess your evaluation methods. Having someone "Like" your page is not enough. You need to track the results to see if these "Likes" convert into paying customers, repeat customers, evangelists, etc. Use analytics to track your statistics, and base your campaigns at least in part on the results they produce.

4. Recognize the sustaining value of the social media you select. Twitter has adopted far fewer changes than Facebook, which is constantly reinventing itself via applications and advertising methods. Can your business keep up with these changes?

5. Outline your social-media strategy. All new media require an investment – time and money – before they show results. Define your goals and objectives and assign resources. The quicker your business can adapt and convert "Likes" into actual sales, the better the chance you have of becoming a Facebook success story.

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Unsticking Your Stuck Deals

TomSearcy_150This guest blog post is by Tom Searcy, Founder & CEO of Hunt Big Sales. He has helped clients transform the way they do business and close deals they would have never thought possible.

 

Ever had a deal get stuck? Of course you have. We all have. And what's our first reaction to recognizing that a deal we've been working on might be stuck and then lost? DENIAL.

At first you make excuses and nurture false hope, but it doesn't take long for you to realize that the deal is stuck and you are on your way out.

For professional salespeople, the signs of a deal going south include the following:

  • The Deadly D's – Delays, deferring to other decision makers, denying access
  • Newbies – New faces in the process, new requirements, new caveats
  • Access restriction – No connection or response from contacts

So the question becomes, how do you get back on track?

Here is a quick summary of the steps you can take to unstick a stuck deal:

1) Declare – You can't take any steps until you recognize that waiting won't work. Declare that you are stuck and bring your team together to work through the process and subsequent strategy.

2) Determine – Why are you stuck? There are four categories that we use in understanding why we are stuck and then setting a strategy:

  • Acts of God – Tsunami, earthquake, strike, budget freeze, or corporate regime change: these all represent conditions out of your control.
  • Lies/Dreams/Governance – There never was a deal. The prospects were going through the motions for the purposes of market scan, free consulting, and because they were following governance requirements.
  • Problem Is Wrong – Your solution is a bad fit for the prospects' problem, and they are chasing what is considered to be a better answer and have not told you yet.
  • Bad Chemistry – They believe that your answer can deliver on the promise, but not your people, resources, or processes.

Based on your determination of why you are stuck, you can set and execute a strategy. This strategy may very well include walking away with speed and purpose. No one likes to be used as cannon fodder in a bidding process that’s run by procurement, and you can't save a plant that's been shut down because of tornadoes. There are times when walking away is the best strategy.

3) Define – What steps are you going to take? If you are solving the wrong problem, or you possibly have bad chemistry, here are some strategies to consider:

  • Get a Bigger Buyer's Table – You need to recruit more people from the prospect's side to add energy and support to your approach.
  • Reframe the Problem – Did you accurately define the problem up front? Reconsider the problem and stakeholders.
  • Change the Timeline – Consider how you might more closely align your schedule with the prospects'. If you're proposing too much change, you'll scare them, but if you propose too little impact, you may not get their support.  
  • Resubmit a More Complete Business Case – If the ROI from the business case is not compelling, go back to the drawing board and re-examine.
  • Change Out Some People – Trade out some of the people on your team. It is possible that there isn't a connection, and that can mean death in a sales process.

4) Deploy – Here are a few simple guidelines for executing an Unstick Stuck Deals strategy:

  • Focus on 3-Day Cycles – Make certain that your execution windows for contacting, introducing new information, introducing new people, and following up are tight.
  • Be Prepared for Tactical Retreats – When executing a strategy like this, you risk irritating key players. Be prepared to back up if that happens. Forgiveness over permission, right?
  • Work as a Team – Plan, execute, update.
  • Finally…Win forcefully or exit gracefully.

To watch the complete Webinar "Unsticking Stuck Deals," click on this link.

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How to Get Out of a Sales Job That Is Going Nowhere

Today, I got an email from a pharmaceutical sales rep, who wrote, "I am having a difficult time finding jobs in my industry (in NYC) against steep competition. I am very open to careers outside of pharmaceutical sales, but I don't know how to present my situation and find the right fit for myself. What can I do?"

I can appreciate this situation; pharma sales forces have declined by about 25 to 30 percent within the past two years.  

There are two ways of looking at it all. One way is through the lens of emotion. In the pharma industry, you tend to walk under a cloud that's threatening and digs at your self-esteem. When you are confronted with shrinking opportunities, you tend to feel less confident, and that can often start a cycle of self-defeating thoughts or actions. The worst thing you can do is to accept less and less; this causes you to get stuck in a rut.

The other way to look at this situation is to objectively appraise it and ask, "How can I transform and adapt my skill set to another sales field that offers me a better chance to shine?" You have the ability and talent to learn, adapt, and grow. Here are four quick ideas to consider:

1. Sell to the same client base, but switch to a different product category.

If you like the clients that you have been calling on, you may want to consider selling a different category of products to the same clients. There are many medical-software companies looking for salespeople. Search the Web for medical-software solutions, and you'll find 100 different medical-software vendors. For example, DrFirst sells prescription software to the same hospitals you have been calling on in the past. Instead of calling on busy doctors who don't want to see you, you call on hospital executives who are actively looking for new solutions. Next time you call on a hospital, find out what's on the medical-software shopping list, then search for companies that sell what's needed.

2. Switch to an industry that has higher growth rates.

The industry that shows the best growth rates today is technology. For example, Bluewolf in NYC is hiring talented people from any industry. As long as you can sell yourself and have the ability and willingness to learn, you can essentially write your own paycheck. You may have to take a step down at first, but within a year, you may double your current income.

Other technology companies that are looking for good salespeople are salesforce.com and LinkedIn, which is hiring sales reps across the nation.

3. Improve your job-hunting skills.

You may also want to examine your career-navigation skills and find ways to improve them. Go to TheLadders and read up on career navigation and how to land a better job. Present yourself in the best light in the social-media space. Here is a great Wall Street Journal article on how you can enhance your personal brand with a better profile picture. 

4. Work on your attitude.

The most important piece of advice is to start selling yourself to yourself. Zig Ziglar once said that the word "enthusiasm" ends with four letters: I-A-S-M, and they stand for "I Am Sold Myself." If you are not sold on your sales talents, if you are not sold on your own winning attitude, if you are not sold on your future, then you are just preparing yourself for the role of a loser.

You can land a great sales job anywhere in NYC, just stay away from real estate, banking, finance, and pharma. Hunt for that sales job with a positive attitude. Think of yourself as going after Moby Dick with a spear in one hand and a jar of tartar sauce in the other.

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My Social Media (for B2B Sales) Experiment Results

Donal-dalyThis guest blog post is by Donal Daly, CEO of the TAS Group. He shares sales insights, hindsight and a little foresight on his sales and technology blog, Dealmaker365 (previously Sales20Network).

 

Social media is on everyone's lips. But B2B use cases are extremely rare. Most stories relating to B2C experiences are hard to transfer to the B2B sales world. We've been working on that.

For the past 18 months or so, I've been trying some B2B models in the social universe. The core philosophy has been to shape thinking, cultivate customers, and earn permission to engage.

Here's what we have learned:

1. The social universe is a great place to listen and learn. If I follow you on Twitter, read your blog, or study your LinkedIn profile, I quickly get a sense of who you are. Everything you do in the social universe leaves a shadow that I can collect to build a picture.

2. Give value first and expect nothing in return. Whereas traditional selling centered on targeting customers, now you need to make it easy for them to find and want to engage with you – because you give value. It's a long road. Short-term return is unlikely. First, you must cultivate interest by building awareness and delivering value.

3. Be authentic, be prepared to fail, don't give up. In the social universe, you're competing for hearts and minds, and you need to develop trust. Openness, integrity, and authenticity are essential. You can develop trusting fans, or you can be voted off the island.

4. Be open, collaborate, co-create; in other words, let others play in the community. When others play in your world, everyone's experience is enriched. You choose your fellow travelers, and they may select you. Comment, participate, and invite contribution.

And here's what we have done:

 

What we do

 

Is it worth it?

 

My main blog is Dealmaker365, and I blog in other communities. I try to post twice a week.

 

Dealmaker365 has had 220,000 visits this year, and a number of our commercial relationships have started with the words, "I read this on your blog." Definitely worthwhile.

 

@dealmaker365 follows 143 people on Twitter and has 2,500 followers. I am interested in everyone I follow, and I don't follow just to be followed back. I try to cultivate opinion carefully and respect my followers, and I don't tweet about my breakfast.  

 

I learn a lot from and about the people I follow. Twitter is my main source of (immediate) market information. I engage actively (Reply/DM) and have done business with people I first "met" on Twitter. Hugely valuable.

 

LinkedIn helps with recruiting, profiling customers, and networking. I think adding/accepting connections with strangers dilutes the network value. We also use LinkedIn Groups and Polls.

 

I'm not sure I really understand why, but LinkedIn is consistently one of the highest-traffic referral sources. The network value is high, and I use it every day.

 

We created a YouTube channel called Dealmaker Magic to showcase our products. It includes short movie-trailer-style videos and full product demos.  We sometimes send demo links to customers before a call. The call is then more business focused.

 

Dealmaker Magic has had 20,000 views this year. It shortens the sales cycle and delivers consistent messaging. Maintaining up-to-date content is hard work, but we think it is definitely worthwhile.

 

We have also engaged in an extensive amount of Freemium activity, with which we have provided automated services online that we (or others) would have charged fees for in the traditional world. Customers are invited to partake of these services on our Website and on my blog.

 

This proves the "give value first" concept. We had to get comfortable with the amount of "free" value we were delivering; however, we have seen dramatic return.

Among our customers, I've seen a few examples of success in the social universe, but primarily when the company integrates "social" into everything it does and recognizes that "social" becomes part of how it does business, rather than when it tries to do "social business" explicitly.   

My advice: Listen first, then give value. Be open, authentic, and honest, and the engagement will happen.

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