6 Books Every B2B Marketer Should Read (or Reread) Over Thanksgiving

6 Books Every B2B Marketer Should Read (or Reread) Over Thanksgiving

I’m checking off my year-end reading list earlier than usual. With just hours to go before Thanksgiving, I think now would be a great time to share a selection of book titles I’m sure most marketers will enjoy over the long weekend. While these books aren’t strictly marketing-focused, they do offer valuable business and personal insights that will help you become a better B2B marketer.

So, without further ado, here’s a list of six must-read business books to check out during the holiday season (arranged in no particular order):

 

Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street (John Brooks)

Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street (John Brooks)

If you have time for just one book this Thanksgiving, then I highly recommend John Brooks’ Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street. If you’ve heard of the book or have read it already, it’s probably because Bill Gates named Business Adventures as the best business book he’s ever read.

The book details 12 pivotal moments in 20th century American business—from the botched rollout of the Ford Edsel, to the world-changing introduction of the Xerox photocopying machine. Weaved into its engaging narrative are hard-learned, real-world lessons still relevant to today’s marketers, such as the dangers of overhyped products and the importance of maintaining transparency in teams.

 

 

Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? (Lou Gerstner)

Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? (Lou Gerstner)

In the early 1990s, IBM was on the brink of collapse. The hitherto-icon of tech innovation had stagnated into a lumbering laggard weighed down by bloated corporate bureaucracy and costs. The company saw consecutive quarters of record-breaking losses which, at that time, were the worst in American corporate history. Things were going downhill for IBM. Then, Lou Gerstner showed up.

Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? is Lou Gerstner’s account of his time as CEO of IBM during a critical period in the company’s history. Under his leadership, IBM survived a near-death experience and regained its footing. Part of Gerstner’s success was that he approached the company’s problems as an IBM customer—a perspective which his predecessors lacked. If that doesn’t pique your interest as a marketer, nothing will.

 

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail–but Some Don’t (Nate Silver)

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail--but Some Don't (Nate Silver)

I read Nate Silver’s classic book The Signal and the Noise when it came out years ago, and it really shed some light on the many ways that forecasts and models can go wrong. The main takeaway I picked up from the book was that the avalanche of data available today has actually misled people to see patterns where none exists, oftentimes leading to flawed conclusions and predictions with disastrous results.

Now, as marketers increasingly find themselves buried under mountains of data, the insights from this book become even more relevant. Browse through any B2B marketing industry report and it’s easy to see why marketers find it hard to separate the signal from the noise.

 

Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade (Robert Cialdini)

Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade (Robert Cialdini)

From opening an email, all the way to showing up for a face-to-face appointment, marketers depend on their ability to persuade people. In Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade, renowned social psychologist Robert Cialdini walks you through several research-backed, actionable tips on changing people’s minds in order to prepare them for persuasion.

According to Dr. Cialdini, this “pre-suasion” step takes place before message delivery. It’s your audience’s state of mind that determines how receptive they’ll be to your message. You need to tap into this state and prep your listeners first. That’s what this book teaches.

 

Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time (Rory Vaden)

Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time (Rory Vaden)

Aside from overstretched budgets, marketers today feel they’re trying to achieve more with less and less resources, including an apparent lack of time. Now, more than ever, marketers need to master prioritization and self-management (read: not time management) skills.

Rory Vadden’s Procrastinate on Purpose offers up actionable ways for overwhelmed people to get more impact with what little time they have on their hands. This isn’t your typical self-help, how-to-be-more-productive guide. That’s why, rather than write about the book, I’ll just quote one of my favorite lines:

“Once you admit to yourself that you can’t manage time and that you can only manage yourself, and you accept that there is more to do than you can ever possibly do, a new strategy emerges: prioritizing.”

 

How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business (Douglas W. Hubbard)

I haven’t read Douglas Hubbard’s How to Measure Anything yet, but this book has gotten some pretty decent reviews and recommendations (including from some in the B2B marketing community). The book shows ways to gauge seemingly non-quantifiable business indicators such as customer satisfaction and organizational flexibility.

But what really drove me to add this title to my Kindle reading list is that it explains the ideas behind many of the best practices we willingly accept in our roles as “data-driven” marketers. It’s easy to find how-to guides and practical tips on marketing metrics and analytics, but how many resources dive into the underlying mathematical framework?

 

Now, it’s your turn. What books are you planning on reading this holiday? Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

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A Crash Course on Lead Nurturing… And Why it Matters

Callbox Ensured Success For Health Care Provider [CASE STUDY]

Callbox Ensured Success For Health Care Provider

The Client is unique not because they are a major health insurance provider but because their target customers are those who can hardly afford to get a good health insurance package for themselves. The Client did not start the company just for business reasons but was inspired to revolutionize the health insurance platform based on their personal experience – the loss of loved ones due to high healthcare costs.

Competition was tough so the Client opted to employ a lead generation company that has the expertise and tools needed to reach their targets – Callbox.

 

 

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Not Just an Address Book: 4 Hacks to Turn a CRM into a True Sales Tool

Not Just an Address Book: 4 Hacks to Turn a CRM into a True Sales Tool

CRMs are like gym memberships. Everyone buys one but most will end up only using it once in a while. Most users (about 71% in some estimates) feel satisfied with the results they’re getting out of their CRMs, but that leaves nearly 30% disappointed. To many in this group, CRMs are nothing more than a “glorified address book” that’s best put aside and taken out only when there’s new contact info to be recorded.

That’s a massive waste of CRM potential. Keep in mind that a well-implemented CRM platform pays back up to $8.71  for each dollar spent—not to mention a 29% improvement in sales, a34% boost in sales productivity, and a 42% enhancement in sales forecast accuracy.

The key idea in turning your CRM into a productive sales tool is to focus on the customer journey and to make sure that the platform maps the people (your marketing and sales reps) into the right stages of the process.

It’s okay if you don’t have any idea how to do this. Most CRM users encounter this difficulty when translating overall strategy into specific actions. That’s why we’ve rounded up four concrete steps to help you get started:

1.) Track customer lifecycle stages

Right out of the box, most CRMs come shipped with some pretty slick segmentation features, but these capabilities tend to be underused. Typically, CRM segmentation begins with features for segregating people into groups like contacts, leads, opportunities, and customers. These, of course, are only starting points.

To really feel the sales benefit from a fully-functioning CRM, you need to classify your target buyers according to life cycle stages. Life cycle stages allow you to set relevant and timely engagements, helping you minimize wasting resources on misaligned touch points.

While customer life cycle varies from one organization to another, a bare-bones outline (according to HubSpot and Christine Donahe) looks something like this:

  • Subscribers
  • Leads
  • Marketing-qualified Leads (MQLs)
  • Sales-qualified Leads (SQLs)
  • Qualified Follow-ups
  • Inactive Follow-ups
  • Open Opportunities
  • Lost Opportunities
  • Current Customers
  • Past Customers
  • Evangelists/Advocates

This further implies that you need to follow a well-defined method for ranking and classifying leads in your pipeline. Using customer life cycles and lead scores also provide an added benefit for CRM users. It streamlines the process of categorizing and finding CRM records, making sales reps’ workflows more efficient.

Related: 12 Easy Methods You Can Accomplish Massive CRM Success Rates

 

2.) Pool data into a single, 360-degree customer view

Acquiring a holistic customer view still ranks as one of the top perks of using a CRM. But, according to Gartner, fewer than 10% of CRM users actually achieve a 360-degree customer view, and no more than 5% manage to turn this insight into growth.

Data silos prevent companies from attaining 360-degree views of their customers. That’s because data barriers hinder users from quickly discovering patterns and linkages between different customer actions/attributes (e.g., buyers and buying history), oftentimes forcing users to compile one-time datasets multiple times in a campaign. Silos also drag down productivity by making users repetitively sift through records from separate sources. In fact, Cyber Sphere Security reports that 30% of marketers blame the difficulty in gleaning useful customer insights on having too many isolated data sources.

To begin breaking down data barriers, start with the following:

  • Connect your CRM with your collaboration/workflow tools
  • Create a single, central hub of information with all your different data sources
  • Append demographic, transaction, behavioral, and social data into customer segments
  • Team up with your IT or dev team to take full advantage of CRM APIs
  • Prioritize customer profiles over database schema

Related: Top ISO Certification Firm Boosts Sales Pipeline with Callbox

 

3.) Power your sales team with mobile and social tools

As CRMs increasingly play the role of sales and customer intelligence repository, features that enable reps to remotely access and modify information are becoming even more critical.

Nucleus surveyed 233 CRM decision-makers and found that sales reps increased productivity by 26% with the help of social networking and mobility features in CRM applications. In addition, the study revealed that data accessibility for sales people (visualization, customer profiles, mobility, and embedded information) cuts their sales cycle by 8% to 14%.

Also, the Aberdeen Group reports that 24% more sales reps achieve annual sales quotas thanks to mobile access to their CRMs. According to the research, organizations rely on the following mobility and remote access functionalities:

  • 58% of top-performers make their CRMs device-agnostic by integrating it with mobile tools their reps use out on the field.
  • 75% of companies support syncing calendars, contacts, events, and tasks.
  • Other top features include email access, data I/O, live chat, web conferences, and access to marketing materials.

Related: How to Use SEO To Influence B2B Buyers On Social Media [GUEST POST]

 

4.) Keep the ‘face’ in ‘interface’

No matter how powerful or well-integrated they get, CRMs will always remain a tool—and tools are only as effective as the people and processes that use them. Before you can expect great results with a CRM platform, you need to secure user buy-in and adoption. That’s where usability comes in.

When asked to rank what features mattered to CRM users, 65% of respondents told Inside CRM they preferred ease of use, 27% prioritized schedule management, and 18% pointed out data snapshots.

IBM also says that companies which provide quality CRM training tend to see very decent adoption rates. Among companies whose CRM training programs were given an “exceeds expectations” rating, 71% report that at least 90 reps actively use their CRM platform.

Finally, CRM Magazine notes that technical support and customer service are two other crucial factors that influence end-user adoption.

All this boils down to improving the user experience in order to drive adoption. Here’s a quick list of tips:

  • Involve end users early in the procurement and implementation process
  • Educate users on concrete benefits, not features or functions
  • Make sure the CRM solution offers adequate support and learning resources
  • Assign a “CRM champion”, an internal employee users can turn to for help and support
  • Set up a process for gathering user feedback and promptly acting on issues
  • Use end results (such as leads processed, prospects followed up, or deals closed via the platform) as metrics to gauge adoption, not just login rates

Another factor that causes friction between CRM implementation and adoption is that the end users themselves see CRMs as getting in the way of their tried-and-true methods. Sales reps tend to be an obstinate lot, so they’ll most likely end up eschewing anything that takes away their favorite tools and tactics. The only way around this is to find a CRM tool that enhances (not replaces) the things that have been working so well for them.

 

The Takeaway

Despite the availability of CRM, ERP, and ERP platforms, it’s somewhat surprising that close to 70% of mid- to large-sized companies still rely on spreadsheets for collaboration. Even for those that do use CRMs, almost half (about 43%) admit they leverage less than half of the available features in their platforms.

That’s despite the dozens of potential benefits that CRMs offer. The keyword here is “potential”. It’s going to take the right approach and culture to transform a CRM into a true sales tool.

 

 

Get a targeted sales leads or learn more about Callbox Pipeline CRM

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A Crash Course on Lead Nurturing… And Why it Matters

Callbox Nets New Users for Analytics Firm’s Research Tool

With operations in over 175 countries and a 200-year company history, the Client leads the legal research and intelligence market across the globe. Professionals performing various research roles in law offices, government agencies, and private organizations make up the bulk of the Client’s customer base. The Client differentiates itself with its focus on combining deep content and technology to help customers gain business insights.

The Client recently launched marketing initiatives aimed at increasing the number of users for its trademark media aggregation, monitoring, and analytics platform. Rolled out in 2015, the platform enjoyed steady user growth (both new and active) which remained fairly in line with targets. But with the introduction of new capabilities and similar solutions from competitors, the company decided to ramp up promotion and user adoption efforts.

The plan calls for rapid and direct outreach to key personnel in charge of public relations and corporate communications at companies in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya. The primary objectives revolve around setting up appointments for customer acquisition. Given the time horizon and the scope of the project, the Client concluded that outsourcing part of the prospecting activities was a better option than carrying out the whole program in-house.

The company chose Callbox as its marketing partner, citing Callbox’s extensive database of local companies and experience in the area as crucial factors.

 

 

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150+ B2B Tech Marketing Stats to Help You Plan for 2018 [Free eBook]

150+ B2B Tech Marketing Stats to Help You Plan for 2018 [Free eBook]

In a few short weeks, we’ll be wrapping up another year. So now’s a good a time as any to look back at where we’ve been with our marketing efforts and, more importantly, to plan where we’re going. To help you refine your 2018 marketing strategy, the Callbox team is releasing an extensive compilation of key software/tech marketing stats as a free eBook.

We dug into more than 60 reputable published sources and pulled out over 150 data points every data-driven tech marketer should include in their planning assumptions. But we didn’t stop at simply listing the numbers out. We’ve also grouped the stats into 35 actionable insights gleaned from the data.

Let’s take a sneak peek.

Insights on Overall Strategy

Forrester expects digital disruption to shake things up in 2018 and become the new normal for B2B marketing. Most other research into B2B software/tech marketing seem to bear this out. Among the essential overall marketing insights the numbers point to are:

  • Tech buyers are evolving along with the purchase cycle. Millennials now comprise a significant chunk of the tech buying committee, while baby boomers and Gen Xers are starting to take a backseat.
  • A growing number of marketers in complex-sale B2B products (especially tech marketers) now embrace account-based marketing (ABM). Case studies and industry reports show that ABM strategies outperform other traditional methods in several key criteria.
  • MarTech and marketing automation platforms remain a critical component of tech marketers’ toolkit, although several studies point to both opportunities and challenges for marketers in this space.

Related: How to Get Quality IT Appointments Hands-Free with Marketing Automation

  • For a number of tech marketers, AI has evolved from a shiny new thing to something they can’t do without. More and more marketers plan to invest in AI for various practical applications, from predictive lead scoring to big data mining.
  • While MarTech continues to improve, data quality still bothers a huge percentage of tech marketers. In fact, they point to data as a major obstacle that’s keeping them from getting the most out of their tech stacks and campaigns. Up to the present time, tech marketers encounter difficulty gauging performance and returns.

Almost 9 in 10 tech marketers rank improving the ability to measure and analyze marketing impact as a top priority.


  • This is why a majority of marketers still think their budgets won’t be enough to hit their marketing objectives, even though most of them will see a bigger budget next year.
  • From the top three campaign priorities of B2B marketers (reaching audiences at the right time, matching strategy to audience behavior, and identifying the best channels to use), tech marketers encounter the most difficulty in connecting with prospects at the right time.

Related: 5 Lessons From Epic Tech Flops That Will Make You Better At B2B Sales

Channel-Specific Insights

The eBook also delves into current and future trends shaping content marketing, email marketing, social media, organic/paid search, and other tech marketing channels. Some highlights include:

  • Content retains its throne as king of the software/tech marketing world. IDG explains that tech marketers are now seeing the benefits of pioneering “brand as publisher” strategies. The next priorities revolve around precise measurement and diversifying the content portfolio.

Related: Better Content Means Better Leads: Make the Most Out of Your Content

  • Email remains very much alive. That’s because study after study reveals tech buyers prefer emails both for business communications and for sourcing information. No other channel comes close to the spectacular ROI emails offer, especially if emails are used to reinforce engagement and conversion in other channels. Read  The Great Email vs. Social Media Bakeoff (2018 Edition) if you’re not convinced yet.
  • Almost all software/tech marketers use some form of social media marketing. That’s despite a huge number of tech marketers claiming social media is their least effective lead generation channel, and only 1 in 4 tech buyers turn to social media to learn about new products.
  • Software/Tech marketers are big fans of SEO and PPC. That’s because an overwhelming portion of their target audience relies on online search when evaluating potential solutions.
  • Traditional initiatives like tradeshows and free trials still occupy an important place in the tech marketing mix, while newer strategies such as cross-border marketing are gaining traction among tech marketers.

Related: Get your First Tradeshow Clients with these Marketing Ideas

The Takeaway

It’s an exciting time to be a tech marketer today, and things are bound to get even more interesting next year. This post only scratches the surface of what you’ll learn from the eBook, so get your free copy right now.

 

 

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This eBook features over 150 data points hand-picked from more than 60 reputable whitepapers, slide-decks, industry reports, and other published materials. Beef up your 2018 marketing plan, click here.

150+ Software/Tech Marketing Stats to Help You Plan for 2018

A Crash Course on Lead Nurturing… And Why it Matters

Callbox Gives HR Consulting Client Base a Boost [CASE STUDY]

Started in 2014 as a joint venture between a pioneering European cross-cultural training company and a top Southeast Asian HR solutions provider, the Client has built and grown a customer portfolio of over 150 multinational companies in various industries across Asia. The customer enjoys a clear lead in the region’s market for intercultural management training services.

But with a spate of new entrants seen to come into the growing market in the next 3 to 5 years, the Client has recently followed a more active strategic direction to protect and enlarge its market share. An important component of the new growth strategy emphasizes direct and targeted outreach to prospects in industries with high potential.

Having little outbound experience of their own, the Client needed some outside expertise to achieve many aspects of its goals.

In particular, the company faced three key marketing challenges that made working with a third-party provider a more viable option:

1. Identifying the right prospects to contact in the Client’s target industries and companies

2. Qualifying and booking sales meetings with prospects that fit the target buyer profile

3. Gathering additional marketing intelligence to be used further along the sales cycle

 

 

Check out the Full List of our Client’s Success Stories

Watch Callbox Videos and Revamp your Marketing Campaign!

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Grab a copy of our FREE EBOOK, The Ultimate Lead Generation Kit Ebook! Updated with links to the best and latest techniques that will help generate quality sales leads for your business

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Callbox is One of the Most Sought After Lead Generation Services

Marketing and Sales Alignment – Best Practices [GUEST POST]

Marketing and Sales Alignment – Best Practices

It’s very common in businesses and offices environments that the marketing and sales departments are kept apart, with poor communication channels, working towards their own individual targets and consequently are not producing the most conductive results for the organization.

It is not the case that they are actually doing anything incorrectly, so to speak, but that they are not assisting themselves to create a situation that enables the team to perform with greater output and achieve ultimate synergy

Marketing can be defined as the planning, awareness and first contact with prospects, exposing the key details regarding the business service via a variety of creative processes and well-organized outreach. The end goal is to generate opportunities to be endeavored by the sales team.

The Sales Process then begins. This is the coordinated communication procedure of a newly-discovered lead through the sales cycle. The sales department members are involved with the direct selling of the business’s merchandise or offering and developing the transfer of goods in exchange for money along with various progression steps.

Alignment

In business, it is not a competition between marketing and sales. It is a mutual working relationship which in order to achieve the best results, must work in tandem.

When you take a step back, you realize that the process of selling cannot start until a marketing root has been planted.

And on the flip side, the marketing techniques and strategy cannot follow through without sales follow up. For sustained results, you can’t have one and not the other.

When all’s said and done, the end goal of a marketer matches that of the salesperson. Both want a sale to be concluded.

The only difference is the part which is played in getting a user and potential customer to the end of the cycle.

It is the preparation at the top of the funnel, the planning, targeting and identification of who is going to be sold to and how to get them in front of your sales representatives.

Marketing with more efficiency will allow the sales communication to be a lot more natural and fluent because of more relevant leads. Therefore they will qualify and progress with a lot less hassle.

Ensuring that your sales and marketing teams are being directed towards a consistent goal, singing from the same hymn sheet and helping the business to learn more about regular information passing through the channels.

Engaging in an alliance, opposed to separate areas. This will help contribute to the synergy of the business, with unanimity and collaboration.

This aids to building a strong team morale on an overall level with excellent psychological as well as strategical effects.

It is understandable that there is an element of fixation towards your own working project with there being a large amount of responsibility on that.

Also, it is fair to say that not everybody is always perfectly comfortable switching spontaneously into alternative job positions which do not match their inherent qualities.

However, here are some ways introduced by the Whoisvisiting senior management to consider which can contribute towards bringing your marketing and sales departments a lot closer for more effective business output.

Related: How to Use the 3 Levels of Pain Points for Better Sales Conversations

 

Alignment Of Your Marketing And Sales Departments

  • Organise Shared Team Meetings

By organizing regular meetings which incorporate the marketing and sales staff, it can develop a routine and the integration, giving everyone a platform to share their thoughts, highlighting the key topics and issues with an instant opportunity for constructive reaction.

These can be arranged on a weekly basis as an informal catch-up and overview, reinstating the immediate targets and constructing the alignment of the company. Everyone can hear each other’s plans and can branch off those with any input.

Alternatively, or as well as, Monthly meetings can offer – great detail of the bigger picture going into more complicated analysis and creating the framework for longer-term results.

  • Shared Brainstorm Sessions

Along with having your meetings which are organized and frequently attended, when there is a new campaign brainstorm or creative mind-map session, inviting all members to contribute can add value to fresh ideas and approaches.

This helps to break down the barrier of separation and gives all involved a clear visual of the project from its absolute source. This delivers a stronger understanding of the thought process behind the marketing approach for everyone’s awareness.

By gathering some contribution ideas of the sales team, who deal first hand with the prospects and current customers and speak to the day-to-day, you can gain access to thoughts from a different angle. This leads to better results.

  • Work Social Events

To keep with the theme of the sales and marketing teams being involved and doing things together, having regular work social events can help build the understanding between both sides.

Often used by many forward-thinking companies is an easy-going, Friday catch-up session to wind down for the week. This involves low key and informal sharing of the good which has been achieved across the company. It provides the benefit of keeping everyone updated but allows integration where you can let your hair down.

This can often be catalyzed by an alcoholic drink or two, so everyone feels comfortable and enjoys the experience.

  • Tactical Office Placement

Having your sales and marketing employees using and working in an area where it is not any effort to share information verbally can create a situation where communication and progression can take place naturally.

There is no reason to have a barrier to communication and intentionally make it more challenging to share information.  

Small details overheard in conversation can allow others to be informed and change something in accordance instantly, rather than waiting to receive that information through an email at a later date. It is the small things which can build up over time to overall create a stronger result.

  • Marketing and Sales Message App

Having access to a group messenger application between all members is a brilliant idea and it can be useful for less immediate, or more informal communication.

You can also create a different chat for different purposes, for example, one where ideas are dumped and logged.

Slack is a very practical tool for this and it integrates with all sorts of digital solutions for the seamless flow of information, keeping everyone in the loop.

One-on-one conversations can also be conducted conveniently for more serious or private matters.

  • Documenting Visual Progress

Having a completely transparent process that allows everybody to be notified when a positive development has occurred is an excellent idea for sales and marketing alignment.

Whether that be a lead, sign-up, or a sale.  Having a hub for visualization and awareness of this brings clarity and keeps the motivation high.

A useful software for this procedure could be Pipedrive, which simply allows you to log deals in separate ‘Pipe’s’ or channels which you can custom create for each stage of your business sales cycle.  

Within this platform, a marketing executive can log in to see whether or not their referral has been able to get results, or where the stumbling block in progression is happening.

Ultimately they can be reactive to this, rather unknowingly allowing sales to continue with poor quality leads.

In order to create more responsibility and positive pressure, everybody should be able to openly view each other’s results and having email reports of the KPI’s (key performance indicators) and updates of the analytical breakdown can be beneficial.

This should create an office environment for sales and marketers where they are receiving the credit they deserve for the individual actions which action successfully.

  • Socially Interacting Through Business Events

Within the realm of sales and marketing, there are always events going on around and about. Pairing a sales and marketing executive to go along to these events and report back to the rest of the office is a brilliant way to learn new nuggets of valuable advice from presentations or by networking.

It is also a strong way to build rapport and is a good way of building your public relations. Meanwhile, the sales and marketing members get to share time and build their relationship.

  • Joint Department Reward Scheme

If your business is rewarding the sales representatives with a commission structure based on closing deals that is regulatory.

However, by incorporating a reward scheme whereby the whole team is involved, it can create a cohesive working culture throughout the company.

It may not have to be commissioned if that does not resonate completely fairly, but something smaller which recognizes the whole business as one, rather than pinpointing individual units as ‘more important’ in completing the sale.  

It can instigate team members to pull together to create better conversion rates.

  • Flexibility Through Switching Roles

In theory, many of the skills which marketers and sales executives possess and due to the attachment and involvement with customers and prospects, it is not completely ridiculous to say that each can’t contribute to the other’s roles now and again.

This provides ultimate flexibility and versatility within your business and can be extremely useful when there is an absence in one particular department.

Being able to get involved in simple ways such as the marketing executives getting on the phone occasionally is a great way to integrate the roles, for example.

  • Neutral Job Titles

In business, by applying the terms ‘sales representatives’ and ‘marketing executives’, you are instantly creating a divide which people will instinctively separate by.

By applying a neutral title such as a Business development professional to all of the members, it changes your approach not independently as a seller or marketer, but to be involved in developing the potential of the business as a whole through various involvement.

There has to be a clear structure built around it, but it can contribute to overall alignment.

 

Author Bio:

Ant Musker is a content writer at Whoisvisiting.com, whilst also involved in marketing activities including email, social and SEO. He has various experience in sales and marketing environments, working for start-up companies and in the PR industry.

 

 

 

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A Crash Course on Lead Nurturing… And Why it Matters

 

How To Utilize A High-quality Blog As A Springboard To Success [GUEST POST]

How To Utilize A High-quality Blog As A Springboard To Success [GUEST POST]

The path to success is riddled with many obstacles. There are a few different routes you can take to grow your business but more and more businesses opt for content marketing.

Even if you decide to take a road less traveled, you can’t escape the fact that having an online presence is paramount to the success of any business.

Having a website isn’t anymore just about leaving your contact info and throwing your customers directly into your webshop. It is much more than that. Selling a product or service is still the ultimate goal, but in order to do that, your website needs to be useful to your audience in other ways too.

The best way to do that is to be informative. And to be informative, you need to have a proper place you can use to present your content. This is where blog takes the stage.

If you decide to invest your time and money into running a blog on your website, you should make sure you do it right. We’ll go through the most important areas to emphasize why having a blog is so important and how you can use it to its full potential.

Back up Your SEO Efforts

Like it or not, SEO is a big part of internet/digital marketing and not many businesses have the luxury to skip it.

  • Build Backlinks Easier

Having a decent blog on your website will do wonders for you when you start building links towards it. While links in author’s bio are relevant and definitely shouldn’t be discarded as useless, contextual links still bring more value. If you take a look at the guidelines of reputable blogs in any niche, you will find that most of them don’t have a problem if you link to relevant and high-quality content on your blog.

On the other hand, links to sales and landing pages will often be removed or even get your article declined. The only way to get around that is to look for sponsored posts – but that can get really expensive, really fast.

Another big advantage of having a great content on your blog is earning links without actively building them. The idea behind it is that when you have a link-worthy content that ranks relatively high (high enough to be found while researching a target area), people will be inclined to link to it in their articles as a source that adds value to their work.

  • Improve Traffic

In a recent study by SEMrush, it was concluded that website traffic is the most important signal to Google in determining your rankings in search results.

SEMrush - Ranking Factors Study

Even if you take their findings with a grain of salt since “traffic > referring domains” seems quite controversial, we can still agree that traffic is extremely important beyond just rankings.

A tried and tested way to increase your website traffic is to create an interesting and useful content that will attract your target audience. Again, the blog is a perfect place to host that kind of content.

If you are then able to rank this content high enough, you should see an increase in organic traffic as people who search for answers are likely to check out your advice.

Related: How to Use SEO To Influence B2B Buyers On Social Media [GUEST POST]

 

Reduce Bounce Rate & Increase Time Spent On Site

The same research we cited earlier also concluded that bounce rate and time on site are also very important ranking factors.

One of the best ways to improve these signals is through quality content on your website.

Let’s explain this with an example.

You wrote a guest post for a website and you placed a couple of contextual links. Let’s assume your target audience analysis was on point so the bounce rate won’t be affected because you were talking to the wrong people.

One link leads to a landing page and the other one to a blog post. The latter one seems to have a significantly lower bounce rate than the first one. Why? Because the visitor doesn’t want to be sold yet. This is especially true if you are a smaller business and this is your first contact with the potential client. It isn’t the time to sell but to build trust and pull them into your marketing funnel. More on that soon.

Blog and the increased time on site go hand in hand. It doesn’t matter if the visitor is taking a quiz, reading an article, trying out a demo of your product or something else, interesting and useful content is what will keep them from leaving.

Related: 6 Most Important and Untold Benefits of Repurposing Old Content

 

Improve Your Content Marketing  

Doing any kind of long-term content marketing plans without a proper blog is just silly. As it is obvious you should have it, let’s see how you can use a blog besides having a place to dump your content into.

  • Help Your Social Media Manager

Gathering social media following and engaging your audience has become an integral part of any marketing strategy.

Being present on social media means you have to have something to share with your followers on a regular basis. Even if you are full of ideas now, sooner or later you will run into a problem of not having anything to share. Having a blog that features news and advice is a perfect place to welcome visitors from any social media channel.

Additionally, people are attracted to brands that can help them solve their problems. If you are doing that by linking to other websites, you are doing yourself a huge disservice. You could direct all that traffic directly to your blog if you had something to show.

  • Pull Them Into Your Marketing Funnel

Setting up a marketing funnel and matching content with the stage of the funnel your customers are in can be a post in itself so we won’t be diving too deep into it. What we will do, however, is describe the role a blog can have in the funnel.

As we mentioned before, people that come to your blog for the first few times often aren’t ready to buy something yet. That doesn’t mean they won’t be ready to make a purchase after a couple of additional iterations. They just need to make sure you are a reliable and trustworthy brand.

Interesting thing is that a blog can serve as a platform that features content for every stage of the marketing funnel beside the purchase itself.

Marketing funnel

When you bring visitors to your blog, depending on the type of post they are reading, you can do several things:

  1. Point them to other helpful posts they might be interested in
  2. Ask them to follow you on your social media channels
  3. Ask them to subscribe to your newsletter
  4. Offer them a lead magnet in exchange for their contact info
  5. Point them to your landing page/trial/product if they are reading an article that covers the area in the bottom part of the funnel (Consideration, Intent, Evaluation)

But wait, there’s more.

If you are using PPC (Facebook, Google, Twitter) you can target the people who visited your blog with a new piece of content and try to pull them into your marketing funnel that way.

Nothing of this would be possible without a dedicated place to feature your content.

Related: 12 Tools to Hack Your Content Creation Workflow [Plus Free Content Calendar]

 

Build Brand Trust & Authority

When we are talking about brand trust and authority, there are 2 simple questions that need to be covered:

  1. Can this brand deliver on what it promises? (trust)
  2. Do they know what they are doing? (authority)

Now, there are many factors in play that have an impact on the brand image like testimonials, reviews, word of mouth, posts on other sites and so on. However, that doesn’t mean a blog can’t help too.

You can:

  • show your expertise by publishing case studies from the projects you previously worked on
  • ask a satisfied client to write a post about their experience on working with you
  • do a research in your field and make a post out of your findings
  • write in-depth content that covers pain points of your target audience
  • do webinars, instructional videos, tutorials…

Doing everything stated above will help you to build brand trust and improve brand authority which will surely have a positive impact on your business growth.

Related: 4 Signs that you’re Getting Positive Responses in your Content

 

Promote Your Advantages

While we do want to be useful to our audience, we still need to be able to present them our product, show them why we are better than our competition and “brag” about our success and notable collaborations.

While sponsored posts can do the job well, they will require a significant monetary investment and they will be attractive mostly to the audience that is already in the middle of the marketing funnel.

The additional perk is that no one can say “look at how they plug their business on their blog, how shameful”. The benefits don’t stop here. You have a place to promote your business and make sure your achievements don’t go unnoticed while visitors can reach it at their own leisure without being coerced into reading it.

Related: Better Content Means Better Leads: Make the Most Out of Your Content

 

Improve Customer Engagement & Conversion

Having a blog isn’t just about posting articles. It is for posting content. And by content we mean:

  • quizzes
  • calculators
  • infographics
  • educational videos
  • reviews
  • podcasts
  • lists
  • case studies
  • contests

As you can see, there are plenty of content types to choose from. If you are looking to take a full advantage of your blog, you have to think beyond “6 Tips For…” and similar 700-word posts.

That is especially important now that content marketing is in the full swing. If you are in the niche that has a strong content marketing presence, you need to have a more strategic approach.

Mix things up by using different types of content. Interactive content, for example, is a great way to boost engagement and improve conversion rates.

Related: 3 Design Best Practices to Fine-Tune Your Next Content for Visual Learners

 

Planning Is Crucial

Producing high-quality content on a regular basis isn’t something you can do if you don’t plan ahead. Chances are your marketing team is small and your budget is limited. Luckily, there is one thing that will help you to get the most out of the resources you have available – a content marketing calendar.

Creating content that is a step ahead of what your competition does will result in a need to use multiple types of content and you will often be forced to commit to creating long-form content. Both approaches require significant time investment and they are hard to coordinate with other work assignments.

That is why planning your content a few months ahead is crucial to success.

 

Dario Supan is a content marketer and editor at Point Visible. Except for taking care of projects for our clients and creating helpful blog posts, his interests are related to graphic and web design. He occasionally throws in an on-page SEO project, just for good measure. If he isn’t at home or at work, he is probably throwing some weights around in the nearest gym.

 

 

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5 Data-backed Tips for Better Phone-based Sales Presentations

5 Data-backed Tips for Better Phone-based Sales Presentations

Let’s start off today’s post with a quick poll. When doing sales presentations, which format do you prefer: in person or over the phone?

My experience tells me that salespeople tend to be evenly split on this one, but they somewhat lean slightly toward meeting prospects in person. Face-to-face meetings let sales folks put their people skills to use and allow more time for conversing with the prospect. More importantly, in-person presentations enable salespeople to read prospects and get to know them even better from visual cues.

When you’re meeting prospects face-to-face, it’s fairly easy to get a feel for how interested (or disinterested) they really are. Once a prospect slumps down onto the chair with eyes wandering and chin resting on one hand, these are dead giveaways you’re losing your prospect’s attention—and that you better switch gears or risk blowing up the deal.

You obviously won’t get this level of visual feedback during phone-based presentations. Sales meetings done over the phone only provide salespeople verbal clues on whether or not a prospect is really into your conversation.

That’s a huge information gap, considering that 93% of communication is nonverbal.

Still, phone presentations play a key role in the selling process. There’s just no substitute for the convenience and efficiency that phone calls deliver. In some cases, for example, the telephone remains the most viable option for many companies that can’t afford their own field sales team or businesses whose target prospects are too far away.

That’s why it’s crucial to refine your phone-based presentation strategy. Conventional sales wisdom offers a ton of useful advice on substance and delivery that you should definitely pay attention to. But data to support (or disprove) these best practices are hard to come by—until now.

The data scientists at Gong, an AI-enabled language platform for improving sales team performance, crunched the numbers from over 25,500 sales calls earlier this year. Their analysis found some surprising things about many of the sales profession’s time-honored calling tactics. Among other findings, they uncovered several qualities that the best sales calls have in common.

Here’s a rundown of five actionable tips based on Gong’s study that you can (and should) apply to improve results from your phone-based sales presentations:


1) Listen 1.3 times more than you talk


This is prospecting 101, but salespeople seem to have forgotten this lesson. Gong’s research finds that the average sales rep takes up 65% to 75% of the total call time with prospects. Even more importantly, the study reveals that talk-to-listen ratio impacts win rates:

  • The ideal talk-to-listen ratio for the most productive sales calls is 43:57.
  • Increasing the prospect’s talk time from 22% to 33% significantly improves opportunity win rates.

The numbers speak for themselves. Let your prospects do more of the talking. Just listen.

Relared: A Software Company’s Guide to More Software Clients and More Sales


2) Talk about price 3 to 4 times, but build value first


Gong’s analysis also uncovers a strong correlation between the number of times pricing came up in a sales call and the likelihood of closing the deal. They find the sweet spot to be between 3 and 4 times:

  • When reps mention pricing less than three times or more than four times in any given call, win rates decline.
  • If price comes up three or four times in a call, that’s a buying signal.

Moreover, there’s the right time to talk about price in a sales call. High-yielding sales calls tend to bring up price-related discussions around the 40- to 49-minute mark. This indicates that top-performing reps build value before talking about price, while low-performing and average reps mention pricing throughout the call.

Related: Ditch that Pitch: The Case Against Selling to First-Time Prospects


3) Ask (11 to 14 questions) and you shall receive


In another analysis (this time involving 519,000 sales calls), Gong’s data science team concludes that there’s a clear relationship between the number of questions a rep asks and his chances of closing the deal.

  • Asking 15 to 18 questions during a call is “only marginally more effective” than asking 7 to 10 questions.
  • The most productive sales reps ask 11 to 14 questions in a sales call.

So, what type of questions should a rep ask? The research also identifies that questions about your prospect’s business pain points exert the most impact on win rates. Elementary. By that, you should read this later How to Use the 3 Levels of Pain Points for Better Sales Conversations.


4) Distinguish between caution and hesitation


Needless to say, prospects’ responses indicate a sales call’s likely outcome. But some remarks appear to be more telling than others, particularly the following replies to timeline questions:

  • If a prospect uses “probably” in a response like “…probably in 2 weeks”, the forecasted time horizon is 73% accurate.
  • Answers that resemble “”We need to figure out…” are negatively correlated with win rates.

Responses that indicate caution can imply that your prospect is seriously considering your offer. Responses that suggest hesitation, on the other hand, can mean a lack of interest.

Related: Using Social Signals to Spot Sales-Ready Leads


5) Use language that embraces and soothes


Every sales rep knows that their style and tone matter as much as the message itself. Gong’s findings seem to support this idea. Some specific words and phrases apparently influence a rep’s chances of closing the deal.

  • Top-performing reps are 10 times more likely to emphasize collaboration than low performers.
  • The most productive salespeople are 5 times more likely to use words and phrases that focus on mitigating risk than other reps.

In other words, reps who focus on collaboration and inspire confidence tend to close the most number of deals.

Related: How To Improve A Lagging Inside Sales Team

 

The Takeaway

So there you have it, five practical ways to improve phone-based sales presentations backed by solid data. Most of you are probably already following some variations of these best practices, and the study findings cited here only serve to vindicate your calling methods. The most important results, of course, are those generated by your own campaigns. What other tips and tricks do you apply that are supported by hard numbers?

 

 

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Selling Tips for Medical Sales Reps to Succeed

When it comes to medical sales, competition is fierce. Sales reps, both those new to their respective role and veterans in the field, are vying to sell their product and searching for a way to stand out among the muddled crowd. So how can you differentiate your selling point and stand out from the competition?

Know the Customer

Medical sales is all about relationship-development, so it’s crucial that you learn all about your customer, both professionally and personally. By learning about them professionally, you’ll be better able to provide what they need, and be a long-term resource.

Learn all about your customer’s goals. If you can understand your customers wants and needs, you can sell towards solving any problems that they are having. Who wouldn’t want you to fix their problems?

On the flip side, by learning about your customer personally, you’ll be able to develop a relationship with them, strengthening your ability to grow the professional partnership.

Often in the medical world, your customer already needs your product – so to them it isn’t so much what is being sold but who is selling it. Understanding your customer personally can help you sell yourself, and that can be the ultimate closer. Additionally, if they like you, they will be more likely to refer you to colleagues and friends.

Related: 3 Keys to Influencer Marketing in the Healthcare Industry [GUEST POST]

Personalize Outreach

When competition is stiff, sending out a bulk email or request for an appointment is not going to cut it. You have to make each prospect feel that you care about them and want to solve their specific problems.

Whether it’s personalizing a business card for the prospect or customer or simply sending out targeted, personalized emails, taking this extra step can go a long way. Consider leveraging email marketing automation to streamline outreach and follow up tasks without losing the personalized touch.

Remember, if a prospect can get the same product from everyone, then it is the personalization and service that can be a deciding factor in winning or losing the sale.

Related: Top Healthcare Marketing Trends to Expect in 2017

Use Umbrella Questions

When you’re trying to collect as much information about a customer or prospect as you can, specifically relating to their wants, needs, and challenges they’re facing, rely on umbrella questions.

Umbrella questions are open-ended questions intended to get a response that’s more than a simple “yes” or “no.” Examples of helpful umbrella questions include “what are your specific pain points currently,” “can you share an example?” and “What do you wish you could do more efficiently.”

If you’re going to be on a sales call, these types of open-ended questions are a must if you hope to learn as much as possible. Let your prospect speak and concentrate on listening, not selling. Listen to specific issues they have that your product or service can fix, and once they bring it up, explain what you can do for them.

Related: 3 Keys to Influencer Marketing in the Healthcare Industry [GUEST POST]

Set daily goals

For most professionals who work in medical sales, there’s a strong sense of autonomy, or the ability to set a schedule on your own.

The medical sales reps most likely to succeed in this type of work environment establish daily goals and strategic scheduling to sell their product.

Before even starting your work day, have an idea of what your day will look like. Which clients will you be visiting? Who will you be reaching out to? What goals are you hoping to complete by the end of the day? Week? Month?

Once you’ve established some ground rules for the day, you’ll be much more equipped (at least mentally) to tackle the day’s challenges.

Related: Lead Generation: The Main Road to Success in the B2B Healthcare Industry

Learn from “No” and Adapt

In sales, being able to accept failure and the loss of a sale is crucial. It’s going to happen to you, no matter how skilled a medical sales rep you think you are, you will always have to deal with a lost sale.

It’s always disheartening to miss a sale, especially one you had high hopes of getting. Being able to mentally handle the negatives and the “no’s” of the job is a must.

Another must? Learning from your failures. Some of the most important lessons you can learn in sales will come from the rejections you receive. Work to identify what went wrong, or a specific excuse you couldn’t overcome, and work on a pitch to overcome it next time.

 

Author Bio:

Jon Zimmerman is the Director of Marketing at WorkWise, the provider of OnContact CRM software and has over 25 years of experience in customer relationship management.

 

 

Learn more content marketing and lead generation tips at The Savvy Marketer’s Blog!

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7 Ways File Sharing Tools Make Life Easier for B2B Marketers

7 Ways File Sharing Tools Make Life Easier for B2B Marketers

Dozens of cutting-edge tools now make up the average B2B marketer’s tech stacks. From lead management to public relations, today’s marketers rely on an entire alphabet soup of CRMs, MAPs, and DMPs to get things done. But only one secret sauce binds all these ingredients together in a special recipe, and that’s collaboration.

Radius says that, on average, a marketing team’s stack consists of around 17 different technologies. However, a CMO Council survey reveals that only 3% of marketers believe they’ve managed to fully integrate all of their automation, engagement and deployment tools.

This is where marketing-focused collaboration tools come in handy. Moving toward increased collaboration solves a lot of the challenges related to martech integration. To ensure that all the pieces of your stack fit and work together, you also need systems and processes that promote trust and accountability among the different roles in your marketing team.

As we’ll find out in greater depth below, the ability to share materials and resources among team members is a critical part of the collaboration. That’s why file sharing tools remain a staple in a modern marketing team’s toolbox. These tools provide capabilities that are several orders of magnitude better than traditional sharing methods like physical storage devices, email attachments or shared network drives. Specifically, file sharing platforms help marketers.

  1. Allow better collaboration

If collaboration is the glue that holds your tech stack together, then file sharing is the adhesive that makes it stick. With file sharing tools, team members freely exchange files and resources that enable them to work together and complete projects.

Today’s marketing teams are made up of individuals with different roles who work separately from different places. File sharing tools help your team overcome obstacles to collaboration by making sure everyone’s on the same page regardless of role or location.

Related: A Software Company’s Guide to More Software Clients and More Sales

  1. Streamline workflow

Modern file sharing solutions eliminate the extra steps needed to access and retrieve files associated with outmoded methods, such as through thumb drives or email attachments. This, in turn, allows your team to focus more on the tasks at hand instead of repetitively doing non-value added activities.

In some cases, file sharing capabilities enable team members to work on files simultaneously, reducing idle times and bottlenecks. This simplifies marketers’ workflows and boosts productivity.

Related: 6 Ways a SMART Telemarketing Platform Doubles Sales Productivity

  1. Stay in sync and updated

In a typical marketing project, team members can have several versions of a file floating around in their project directory. This creates problems in version control and duplication, especially in situations where the team is working on projects that require multiple iterations to complete.

A good file sharing platform addresses this issue by aligning versions across users and properly handling duplicates. File sharing tools often come shipped with this feature, so marketers can leverage this critical capability right out of the box.

  1. Shorten project duration and lower costs

As we’ve seen, the right file sharing tool simplifies marketers’ workflow and enhances productivity. These platforms also ensure that everyone on your team stays on the same page throughout the project.

But file sharing solutions go beyond providing convenience. The gains in efficiency you get from file sharing tools also help accelerate project schedules. All those savings in time and increases in productivity add up to cost reductions and better marketing outcomes.

Related: 5 Lessons From Epic Tech Flops That Will Make You Better At B2B Sales

  1. Overcome technical limitations

Producing quality marketing materials often means that marketers and creatives have to work with very large files. Moving these big files around can become technically challenging. Emails have file size restrictions while transferring files through thumb drives and shared folders can take up too much time.

File sharing tools overcome this limitation by enabling users to send large files securely in as little time, cost, and risk as possible.

Related: Best Marketing Tools to INCREASE Sales Leads Production

  1. Enable scaling and expansion

The time available for value-added, creative work correlates with the quantity and quality of marketing materials produced. That means the more time your team spends on actually crafting content and collaterals, the more and better their output will be.

The right file sharing tool frees up time and accelerates the production process. It helps your team effectively scale up and expand their productive capacity. Without a robust file sharing system, it can be extremely difficult or even outright impossible to turn your team into a marketing machine.

Related: Selling Tips That’ll Make B2B Prospects Purchase your Software

  1. Improve transparency and accountability

Traditional methods for file transfer suffer from a lack of transparency and difficulty in maintaining accountability. Even FTPs make it hard to track and manage files. With traditional file transfers, you can’t easily make heads or tails of things like content authorship and contribution.

Most file sharing solutions today allow you to effectively manage files along with versions and contributors. In a time where marketers are increasingly being measured by how much they’re adding to revenues, this is an indispensable capability.

Related: Forget About Marketing, Focus on Improving Software Solution

 

The Takeaway

File sharing tools make life much, much easier for marketers. They help marketing teams organize and manage projects. They improve efficiency and productivity. Most of all, they foster collaboration and teamwork.

 

 

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