This morning's Sales 2.0 Conference lead off speaker was Polly Sumner of Salesforce.com. Although she spoke about Tools, her real message wasn't about tools as much as it was about use, and ways of working.
It Gerhard Gschwandtner, the conference host,captures it with a question to Polly, "so it's about a mindset?"
Explore tools with an eye for how your team will adapt to it. How they will use it. How it will change the way they work
Challenge yourself to identify where efficiencies can be gained. Can you gain time? Knowledge? Trigger events?
Don't get caught up in the hype. Look through demos and presentations, does the tool change the way you will get your job done?
The best Sales 2.0 apps are adopted without being forced on users. Quote from a beta tester of Salesforce Chatter two weeks ago at CloudForce Boston "We just turned on Chatter, a week later we had 700 active users."
"Failure is OK," says Polly. Don't be afraid to take risks, it's risks that can introduce change into your organization.
From our experience with Sales 2.0 tools at Green Leads, we had an immediate impact by making an extremely risky decision 18 months ago. Instead of hiring new people and adding headcount to our appointment setting team, we took a major risk by implementing ConnectAndSell. It allowed us to double the weekly production of our best people for about half the cost of a new hire. We didn't push it, we let our team adopt it at their own pace. It organically became a part of their daily routine.
What risks have you taken related to Sales 2.0? Has it changed the way you work?
You want to talk about improvements? You know what needed improvement? The Boston Celtics, that's who. If you're a fan of basketball, or maybe even a fan of rivalries, maybe you, like me, watched the Boston Celtics crumble last Thursday night (June 17th). Two storied franchises, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics, both vying for the NBA Championship in a Game 7 match. Winner takes all, losers go home with their heads hanging low. For Celtics fan, it was a great game - up until the 3rd quarter. Spoiler alerts here, folks: The Celtics blew it. The Lakers tied the game and then went up and never looked back. It was a bad night for the Bean's Green, and their play in the 4th quarter certainly needed improvement -- minute by minute improvement -- constant improvement.
What about your B2B sales and marketing blog, though? I read 20-40 of them a day, do they need improvement? Are you on the verge of "blowing it" and driving prospects to competitors, or losing your industry leader status? Chances are, it could use some constant tweaking (I'm speaking to myself, too). Here are three ways, as we head into the second half of 2010, that you can improve your B2B sales and marketing blog:
Revisit your blog's goals - When you first started writing your blog, you had a goal in mind. Maybe it was to establish your organization as a thought leader, maybe it was to bring awareness of your services or solutions, and more than likely, it was to create interest in your prospect audience. Somewhere along the line, maybe you've moved from one of those goals to another. That's not a bad thing, but maybe you've confused your audience. Go back and revisit what you intended to do when you first started. If that goal is still a worthwhile pursuit, resolve yourself to stick with it. If not, make the changes necessary to make your blog into what you want it to be. In my case, I had two goals, and I'm sticking to them: establish a leadership role in the b2b demand gen space (demand gen blog tag here), and to promote without being too self serving, the appointment setting and outbound marketing services offered by Green Leads. Not to mention SEO and Lead Generation.
Write from a place of passion - This one really should go without saying. If you've lost passion for writing about your services or solutions, it's time to pass the torch onto someone else who may have some. That doesn't mean you can't pick it back up later when your batteries are recharged, but if you're not excited about what your writing about, neither will your audience be excited to read it. If you've got a "corporate" type blog, look for someone else who may have an interest in writing and encourage them to share their talents. And keep the passion regular -- be it once per week, or twice a day, maintain your article publishing consistency.
Don't be afraid to stir the pot - While I don't necessarily subscribe to the belief that nice guys finish last, I do believe that nice guys are free to disagree with whomever they want, and then blog about it. The following two controversy articles were two of my highest traffic articles to date:
What I'm getting at here is that you shouldn't be afraid to use your blog to disagree with ideas or create controversial ones. It's a great way to get some good dialogue going with your audience. Remember, there's a good way to go about airing controversy, and there's a wrong way. We're all adults and professionals, so let's act like it. Don't hurt your brand.
What are some of the ways you go about improving your blog?
ActiveConversion is a web based solution that allows organizations to identify visitors to their website, to automatically qualify and nurture leads, to get notified when leads become "hot," and to track ROI of marketing campaigns. They are partners with Google, Jigsaw, VerticalResponse, and Salesforce.com.
Upon opening up the solution, you can view your ActiveConversion dashboard. You're able to see your active leads, broken down by active companies, active prospects, and qualified leads. The information is easy to read and easy to understand, and a click of the mouse allows you to dive deeper into the graphically represented reports. The dashboard gives you visibility into seeing which of your leads is actually showing genuine interest. That's great, but as I'm thinking about it, how exactly does this work? How does it determine whether or not one of my prospects is showing "genuine interest? They do this by scoring visitors to your website on three different categories:
How they reached your site
What they viewed, and
How long they visited.
These scores are easy to configure and allow you to determine when a prospect is ready for a call, and when they're not.
ActiveConversion can help simplify lead management and lead routing process. The sales team can also reap the benefit from the following:
Identification of anonymous visitors to your website by mapping known IP addresses. Contacts of the prospect company can be instantly researched in Jigsaw.
Push leads and session visit data to the sales team through regularly scheduled emails. This can also include lead score.
Returning visitors can have lead scores improved and salesforce activities scheduled upon further visits.
When I visit your site, do you know if I'm a lead?
Today at Enterprise 2.0 in Boston, Jive Software is rolling out a new agenda for social business that is worth a close look.
We all wake up on Mondays to a mountain of data, feeds, and emails. It's great to know that our best buddies "like" your latest blog article and left a comment that they miss you while they are surfing or mountain biking through your facebook fan page, or that the company we are following on LinkedIn just hired a VP of Demand Gen (nice lead for me), and that Chris Brogan just launched ManOnTheGo.com, which a colleague in sales recommends by retweeting a link from @chrisbrogan. That said, you still have hundreds of Google Reader articles to scan, a few new sales enablement presentations to review before publishing them to Slideshare, and two meetings to approve in the Appointment Setting queue...
I can go on, but you get the picture. In the enterprise, we are flooded with internal and external data -- nuggets of information that we find valuable or our colleagues find valuable and that we need to know in order to do a stellar job. Roll all these feeds, files, emails, tweets, micro-blogs, discussions, and public buzz into a cockpit-like environment and you have Jive What Matters, an enterprise class portal into this sea of social information that keeps us operating in real time.
My domain expertise is B2B Marketing and Sales, especially Demand Gen. Here are some use case scenarios I see for the b2b executive:
Competition - Aggregate feeds from multiple buzz sources. Follow keywords and specific phrases that can point you to competitive intelligence.
Opportunities - Work sales opportunities in a team mode. Follow everything about that opportunity. "Like" the feeds from the key account manager, feed in key words from the opportunity such as company name or project name, follow the status and feed updates from key decision makers in the social sphere.
Sales Enablement - Monitor sales and marketing asset libraries. Know when files change, are upgraded, or need collaboration. Create/follow discussions focused on use case scenarios or sales tips.
Reporting - Create feeds from certain reports that trigger when large opportunites change status, or when a company KPI changes.
Follow Colleagues - That applications engineer from Calgary that you met last year with all the great opinions on how to demo software, follow that guy -- he's a wealth of knowledge.
Data - Most data sources (Jigsaw, LinkedIn, etc.) allow you to create RSS feeds on specific searches. Set some up for your best prospect titles, when a new record is created with "demand gen" or "marketing operations", and funnel that feed to your data analyst for addition to your nurturing/lead queue.
Industry Leaders - Stay abreast of the emerging thoughts and trends in the industry. Subscribe to the best in Lead Nurturing, Lead Generation, and B2B Marketing.
Your Team - What better way to follow the activity of your team and key contributors. Follow their feeds and know what they are up to, or what makes them tick. Do the same for the execs above you.
Buzz - Follow industry trends, keywords of interest. Take advantage of Jives Chatter Filter [play on words?] and Jive Genius. The two help filter and recommend only the best and relevant data for your needs.
Social Graph - Visually see how your prospects are connected in the social network. Stunning representations. Make that first call a warm call by knowing who they know.
What Matters - The Chatter Filter and Jive Genius look like promising tools that can reduce the amount of non-relevant noise coming in.
What other B2B Marketing and Sales Demand Gen use case thoughts can you find? I'm off to their launch event in Boston for some great Jive Talkin.
The Catcher in the Rye. Moby Dick. Pride and Prejudice. The Grapes of Wrath. A Tale of Two Cities.
If there's one thing those books have in common for me, it's that they were part of my high school summer reading lists. Remember those? You'd receive a list of books before the end of your school year that you'd have to read in preparation for the next school year.
Maybe you were excited by all of that reading; maybe you weren't. Maybe you cleared your list well before summer's end, or maybe you were running to the local bookstore to find the Cliffs Notes versions of the books on your list (not that I know anything about that). Since we're so close to the beginning of summer, I thought I'd share with you what should be on every good B2B marketing and sales careerist's list this summer. It's a bit more geared to the marketer, but every good sales professional is their own marketer too.
If you're reading this and you've just graduated from college hoping to find yourself in sales and marketing, take heed! This list is the tip of the iceberg for you. If you're like me and you've read these books, take heed and read them again; they're just that good. Note that all of the links are to Amazon, should you choose to purchase them.
The New Rules of Marketing and PR, 2nd Edition - David Meerman Scott's book on completely changing the way marketing and PR is handled effectively today. David's book is worth reading time and again to be reminded of how the Internet and social media can radically improve your business. This book is a Marketing 401 class in 320 pages.
Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs - Written by the founders of HubSpot, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, Inbound Marketing delivers on its promise to get your organization found. Brian and Dharmesh talk about just what "inbound marketing" is, how you can get found by the prospects you want to do business with, and how to convert those prospects into customers.
SNAP Selling- Jill Konrath's latest book is a must-read. This new book teaches its readers how to better handle prospects who, today, have shrinking budgets and more "to-do's" on their plates than they've ever had before. Oh yeah, and she teaches you how to close them, too. Jill is a master saleswoman, and she artfully delivers a message to improve the sales processes of her readers.
Ogilvy on Advertising - David Ogilvy's book, now celebrating its 25th year in print, is a classic and one that I revisit time and again. Ogilvy teaches that advertisement is salesmanship, and he couldn't be more right. His lessons on buyer personas (though not necessarily called that) are just as relevant today as they've ever been. In fact, he calls out the lazy marketers who do not go about this process and warns about "skidding about on what my brother Francis called 'the slippery slope of irrelevant brilliance.'"
eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale - Ardath Albee's book on eMarketing is a great book that teaches its readers how to differentiate themselves from every other organization in their space. Ardath sets a great tone throughout the book, and the lessons in the book aren't just things marketers should be doing but rather things they must be doing. Ardath spends a considerable amount of time discussing what she calls "Contagious Content," and with good reason - she understands the importance of content that spurs the prospect to move from reading to engaging.
Digital Body Language - Steven Woods' book explores how today's marketers can market better to their target audiences, taking into consideration all of the intricacies of 21st century sales and sales processes. Woods' idea that marketers and sales folks can now "read" a prospect's digital body language (i.e. their web behavior) is on point and is sure to help shape readers' effectiveness in their chosen professions. Pick this one up.
Obviously there are more books that I could place on the B2B Sales and Marketing summer reading list, but these are my "must reads." What about you? What would you add to the list?
So, for a few days last week in Boston and her surrounding suburbs, it was extremely hot. I'm not talking "spring time" hot, like in the upper 70's. I'm talking about temps in the 90's!
I'm a big guy, and I can tell you this -- I can't stand the heat. I hate it. Some days I think the only reason I stick around the Northeast is for the sports, and there are days when they make me cringe, too. There are days when I think,"Boy, the Eskimos sure have it nice." Okay, maybe that's a little too far, but it got me thinking -- what's the temperature like for my appointment setting team? Are they hot, cold, or lukewarm? If they're hot, great, but how do you keep them there? If they're cold or lukewarm, what can you do increase the temperature?
Let's talk about what you can do if your team is cold. Surprisingly enough, this isn't the worst place they can be; that would be lukewarm, but we'll get to that in a bit. If your team is cold and they're not producing like you'd like them to, here are couple of things you can do right now to heat things up:
Competitions -- I don't care if it's number of appointments set in a day or in a week, or number of conversations with prospects, but build competitions into your reps' workday. You'd be amazed at what people will compete for. Put a prize in front of it and watch your productivity climb. Movie tickets, cash, a DVD, it doesn't matter, because the very nature of the competition will heat things back up in your bullpen.
Evaluate -- Are the right people doing the right job? Did you build the team too fast? Are some of them better suited for other roles? Take some time to evaluate and move folks around if you have to. You may find that the right person is doing the wrong job, and the right job for that person is just begging to have some added support. Good people are hard to find, so put them in positions that suit them.
If your team is lukewarm, I'd say you've got bigger problems. You know what lukewarm says to me? It says, "Meh." It says, "Eh, okay." It says you've got a team that doesn't really care about what they're doing. They're just a bit better than cold, and nowhere's near hot, and harder to tell the differences If your team is lukewarm, here are couple of ways to get them on fire:
Clean House -- Yup, you read that right. Chances are, there is someone on that lukewarm team who is ready to move on to the next part of their sales career, and they're begging you (sometimes without even knowing) to let them go. Take a look at your team and see who that person is. I think the term to coin here is "addition through subtraction." Removing a lukewarm player may be just what the rest of your team needs to heat themselves back upm especially if that person is a negative drag on everyone else. You know who I'm talking about.
Management? -- If your team is just so-so and lukewarm, maybe it's how they're being managed and motivated. Take some time and really evaluate yourself as manager here. Are you doing everything you can from a leadership perspective to help your team? Is there anything you could be doing better to help your team increase their production? If there is, get on it, and fast, before someone above you decides to "add" by "subtracting' you.
If your appointment setting team is hot, and they're on fire, keep it up. "Keep what up?" you may ask. Whatever it is you're doing to help them stay hot -- but don't leave without sharing how you're doing it with the rest of us!