5 Steps to Future-Proof Your Go-to Market Strategy for Cloud Services

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5 Steps to Future-Proof Your Go-to Market Strategy for Cloud Services

Here’s a number to think about: $1 trillion. That’s the amount of IT spending Gartner says the shift to the cloud will disrupt by 2020.  Whether you’re launching your first cloud solution or expanding an existing cloud services portfolio, it’s vital that you nail down your go-to market (GTM) strategy well before the planned rollout. A GTM plan acts as your road map for taking a (small) bite out of the huge cloud services market.

Now, there are tons of resources on how to build an effective go-to market strategy for cloud services, so we won’t be looking into that in this post. Instead, today’s entry talks about a simple 5-step process you can apply to make your GTM plan robust enough to withstand any road bumps you encounter along the way.

 

Step 1:  Make sure you’re looking at a trend, not just a blip.

A go-to market strategy often starts by identifying relevant business drivers. Business drivers are the underlying reasons for developing and launching your new solution. These include revenue goals, customer interests, industry developments–or practically anything that answers why you’re building and selling the product.

You want business drivers that result from long-term trends, not random blips. For example, if you’re rolling out back-end SaaS solutions, the related drivers should include generating recurrent revenue based on your core business as well as sustained demand, not just because you want to keep up with your competitor. Learn from these 5 Lessons From Epic Tech Flops That Will Make You Better At B2B Sales.

 

Step 2:  Know the best target customer for your solution.

Some sources consider a GTM plan as a subsection of a marketing plan. GTM strategies apply to specific products or services, while marketing plans apply to the entire business. It is best to identify the key decision makers for lead generation.

That’s why a good go-to market strategy for cloud services requires you to be more specific about your target users.  You want to define what qualities make up the best fit for your solution. Different customer segments often times have widely diverse cloud services adoption and spending rates. Sales and marketing resources should reach only the best opportunities.

 Related: Selling Tips to Make Prospects Buy your Software

 

Step 3:  Go beyond just keeping a close eye on the competition.

Christina DesMarais has an excellent Inc.com article on staying ahead of the competition. The main idea behind the post is that monitoring competitors forms only the tip of the competitor research iceberg.

Just because a competitor launches a new solution doesn’t mean you should, too. Instead, she argues, you should proactively seek out the business value behind your competitor’s decisions. How does the new product affect your competitor’s revenues, customer base, profitability, or market share?

 Related: Forget About Marketing, Focus on Improving Software Solution

 

Step 4:  Gauge your technology partner’s true capabilities.

A 2016 Innotas survey finds that cloud projects have at least a 50% chance of failure. While it’s hard to lay the blame on any single factor, one of the reasons why cloud projects fail is that the provider’s technology partner is unable to deliver the needed requirements. As one source puts it, it’s the supporting ecosystem that’s oftentimes behind why cloud projects fail and not the product itself.

The two main qualities in a technology partner that you should look for are integration and flexibility. This helps ensure that the cloud services solution you’re about to launch runs as expected.

Related: How to Clinch that Million-Dollar Sale in the Software Industry

 

Step 5:  Leave room for instinct and gut-feeling.

A good go-to market strategy sets the metrics for measuring success, but a future-proof GTM plan leaves ample room for gut instincts as well. As with marketing, not all decisions you make need to be based on data. Some situations call for falling back on your experience and intuition.

For instance, it can be difficult to find the right metrics to quantify something as abstract as the quality of user experience your cloud app delivers. You can track end-user experience  with benchmarks like response times, throughput, and invocation time. But you still need to rely on your intuition to get a handle on how everything falls into place.

 

The Takeaway

A future-proof go-to market strategy for cloud services can help you weather the ever-present changes in cloud computing. Don’t just plan for the future, let the future drive your plan.

 

 

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The 5 Success Factors of Multi-Channel Marketing Revealed [INFOGRAPHIC]

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Multi-Channel Marketing Process is a way of communicating via different online and offline channels. It runs through a marketing automation tool that converges calling, sending emails, social networking, web, and mobile into a single yet most effective marketing tactic.

Let’s find out what comprises of the multi-channel marketing success.

The Success Factors of Multi Channel Marketing

Transcript:

Calling

The calling channel pipes in live conversations between you and your target customer.

  • 92% of all customer interactions happen over the phone
  • 80% of sales require 5 follow-up calls after the meeting; 44% of sales reps give up after 1 follow-up
  • It takes an average of 8 cold call attempts to reach a prospect

Related: Multi-Channel Marketing: A Fresher Way of Reaching IT Decision Makers

Email

The email is the most exhausted among other marketing channels. Most marketers now have the automation tools to send custom emails in a scheduled manner so it’s easier and even more convenient.

  • 65% B2B marketers planning to increase email spending (eMarketer)
  • Companies who send automated emails are 133% more likely to send relevant messages that correspond with a customer’s purchase cycle. (Lenskold and Pedowitz Groups)
  • Automated email messages average 70.5% higher open rates and 152% higher click-through rates than “business as usual” marketing messages. (Epsilon Email Institute)

Social

The social media channel is where businesses can greatly build themselves up, and connect and interact with their target customers that marketers can jump in and ride on, but which one best fits their customer’s buying journey, is a question:

  • 78% of salespeople using social media outsell their peers (thebrevetgroup.com)
  • 90% of young adults—ages 18 to 29—use social media (compared to just 35% of those over age 65).
  • Fully a third of millennials say social media is one of their preferred channels for communicating with businesses. (business2community.com)
  • 80% of marketers use “likes” and “shares” or what we call “vanity metrics” as primary success metric; 56% base social success on website traffic. (business2community.com)

Related: Using Social Signals to Spot Sales-Ready Leads

Website

The website provides you with opportunities to attract target customers by having a broad online presence through seo and inbound traffic:

  • 2.35% Median click-through rate for Google Adwords (Wordstream)
  • 42% Share of QR code scanners who are under age 35 (Scanlife)
  • 40% Marketers ranking paid search as the best channel to drive online sale, ahead of online display (26%) and social media (18%). (eConsultancy/Adobe)

Related: 15 Brilliant Web Design Hacks That Convert Traffic into Leads

Mobile

The mobile channel appears to be largely impacting today’s generation buying habits.

  • 97% text messages opened within three minutes of receipt (Nielsen Mobile)
  • One out of every three clicks within an email occurs on a mobile device. (Campaign Monitor)
  • It is more common for a reader’s second open to being on a mobile device than it is on a different device: 70% will stick with their mobile device, and 30% will go elsewhere.  (Campaign Monitor)

 

References:

http://www.thebrevetgroup.com/21-mind-blowing-sales-stats/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2015/08/13/7-social-media-platforms-that-could-explode-before-2016/#feac94d41af9

 

 

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10 Things Only B2B Brands with Solid Global Reach Can Understand

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10 Things Only B2B Brands with Solid Global Reach Can Understand

Back in the old days, having “global reach” meant businesses had to (literally) set up shop and ply their wares on foreign shores. Fast forward a few short generations later and practically any business can rightly claim to have a worldwide presence without ever setting foot in the places where their customers are.

To really achieve strong global reach, however, you need to develop and follow a sound brand expansion strategy first. This allows you to clearly define the image you want actual and potential customers to equate with your company or solution, as well as to set your product apart from those of your competitors.

If you take a look at global B2B brands that have managed to carve out a decent slice of both market share and mindshare in different parts of the world today, you’ll find that their brand expansion activities all boil down to the following 10 key ingredients:

#1. Local Audience and Market Segments

Named the world’s most valuable B2B brand for the second consecutive year by WPP and Kantar Millward Brown, Microsoft is a company that’s able to balance its global reach with a local focus. To help it stay locally relevant within its many different markets worldwide, the company employs a Global Readiness team that enables Microsoft to respect and comply with various geographic and cultural requirements arising from its worldwide operations.

Bing_France_

Image source: brandquarterly.com

Because customers’ priorities and experiences vary from one market to another, it’s important that you “localize” your brand expansion strategy to suit a particular area’s profile. Craft a brand message that appeals to specific niches or segments in your target region, and deliver that message in the language and tone that that particular audience uses.

Related: How do B2B Marketers Craft an Industry Related Content

#2. Identity and Values

Another global B2B brand that consistently tops rankings is General Electric (GE). The company owes much of its success maintaining its strong global presence to its uniquely recognizable brand identity and values. For an organization that offers a diverse set of products and solutions in over 180 countries, defining an overarching identity can be a bit of a challenge. That’s why GE always goes back to its brand story to communicate what it stands for.

Brand expansion requires a unique identity that your prospects and customers can readily associate with your company. Find that promise that your company alone can deliver and place it at the core of your brand’s narrative.

Related: How NOT to Market your Product: 9 of the Worst Branding Failures

#3. Consistency

With operations in 220 countries and territories worldwide, logistics titan DHL is a case study in global branding consistency. During the company’s transition from domestic mail to global logistics, DHL ensured international consistency by touching all aspects of its rebranding efforts–from the color of its delivery fleet all the way to its company-wide brand ambassador employee program. Today, the entire organization strictly adheres to a set of corporate identity and design rules that govern every marketing campaign and material it uses.

DHL Rebranding

Source: retail-loyalty.org

Offering a consistent brand experience for your current and upcoming customers across borders goes beyond using the same set of colors and typography in your marketing materials. It’s about letting people experience your company as a whole, wherever they come across your brand.

Related: TechnologyAdvice recognizes Callbox as one of the top 5 lead generation agencies

#4. Logistics

Coming up with a compelling promise forms only one part of branding–being able to deliver on that promise is another. Few international B2B brands can do logistics and supply chain management quite like Intel. Aside from manufacturing industry-leading processors and chips, the company is also known for supply chain innovations that guarantee its products reach customers no matter what or where. So, carefully planning how you ensure that your solutions get delivered is a vital part of the brand expansion.


There’s an old saying that goes: “Amateurs talk tactics; professionals study logistics.”


 #5. Scale and Scope

SAP is a global B2B brand with scalability at the core of its reputation. Not only does the company enable its customers to scale operations and business activities effectively, SAP itself is the end result of a massive scaling-up strategy that transformed the organization from an ERP company into the end-to-end digital solutions powerhouse that it is today.

The real measure of scalability for your brand expansion is how well your business is able to meet the demands of growth in a market–such as pursuing more opportunities or keeping up with tighter production schedules. If your organization is unable to handle scaling properly, your brand can suffer as a result.

Related: Expanding Business in Asia

#6. Competition

One B2B brand that’s clearly crushing its competition is Amazon, particularly its Amazon Web Services (AWS) division. With over 1 million active enterprise users under its fold, AWS clearly leads the cloud services market while rivals like Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud lag way behind. Gartner points to AWS’s significant competitive advantage in terms of core services, geographic coverage, and sales strategy as the main reason why the brand has such a dominant market position.

rcpmag.com

Source: rcpmag.com

Expanding into new markets means inevitably going head-to-head against competitors (both local and foreign). Whatever your relative strengths are over your competition, these should serve as guideposts for shaping your brand expansion strategy.

#7. Outreach and Exposure

Oracle stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the world’s most valuable global B2B brands today. This is in no small part due to the level of targeted outreach and exposure the Oracle brand maintains, especially toward C-level and executive segments where brand visibility matters most. Oracle uses a combination of educational and promotional content to help position its brand as both a trusted resource and a reliable partner.

It goes without saying that social media and the Internet have leveled the playing field when it comes to brand visibility and exposure. The tools to reach out to and engage any target market on the planet are readily available out there (most of them at almost no cost). The key challenge is knowing how to use these platforms in ways that align with your brand expansion strategy.

Related:

#8. Thought Leadership and Influence

Consistently ranked as one of today’s most valuable and influential B2B brands, Salesforce is comfortably perched as the CRM market’s undisputed leader. It owes a great deal of its brand value to its reputation as an innovator (for pioneering and shaping SaaS) and as a trusted source for business and technology insights.

In the current B2B setting where the buyer mostly leads the way, the best thing you can do during brand expansion is to try and influence how your audience perceives your company’s image. Control is pretty much out of the picture. Brands that thrive today are those which their audiences view as reliable experts.

Related: 5 Ways B2B Startups can Become Thought Leaders

#9. Company Culture and Commitment

Cisco is a great example of an organization with its brand seamlessly weaved into its company culture. It’s “People Deal” relates the company’s mission to “connect everything, innovate everywhere, and benefit everyone” into its worldwide workforce, ensuring employee buy-in of Cisco’s values.

Brand expansion requires firm support and commitment from your team or organization. That’s because, as a Fortune report points out, company culture is “incredibly important” in building B2B relationships and hence needs to reflect your branding message, too.

#10 Barriers and Hurdles

What do you do when the government of a country you’re trying to expand into labels your company as a security threat and severely restricts operations?

That was the situation communications equipment manufacturer Huawei once found itself in when the company tried to enter the $30-billion U.S. telecom equipment market but got mostly banned because of alleged links to the Chinese military. Huawei was able to find another way to tap into its target market and is now supplying smaller (regional) U.S. carriers, with equipment sales steadily growing each year.

Regulations and restrictions are only two of the barriers to entry you need to take into account when trying to expand your brand into new markets. Language and cultural barriers can significantly influence the outcome of your brand expansion efforts, as well as factors like the costs of doing business in that region and the amount of risk you’re taking on.

 

The Takeaway

With the right brand expansion strategy, global reach is well within the grasp of any business, regardless of size or maturity. While we’ve focused on relatively large and well-established B2B brands in this post, the fact is that physical distance is no longer an obstacle for anyone when reaching out to your target audience and customers.

 

 

 

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Network Management Sector Rises: Industry to Grow 9% in 2019

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Network Management Market worth $11,058.6 Million by 2019

There are substantial reasons why entrepreneurs in the network management industry should rejoice.

A report by Markets and Markets has cited that the market for network management systems would grow past expectations by 2019, stimulated by high demand and a strong sense of innovation among major players. The same report also placed compound annual growth rate (or CAGR) at 9.5 percent.

As more enterprises from various industries are adopting better networking tools to streamline their business operations, the report has pegged the value of the network management industry at a whopping $11 billion! This is, of course, a far cry from previous years, particularly in 2014 when the industry was valued at $7 billion. Much of the revenue, of course, will be generated in North America, followed by Europe and Asia-Pacific.

There are several reasons to this. For one, more and more enterprises from various industries (most notably, the government, IT and telecommunications and the financial sectors) are on an “updating spree.” There has been a significant rise in purchases of network management tools driven by the desire to reduce costs and to acquire better visibility of network operations.

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

Aside from that, we should also consider the demands of “Big Data.” Businesses need effective tools to optimize their data management capabilities via scalable solutions and reduce the risks associated with large data acquisitions. To such an extent, these enterprises have increased their requirements for solutions, encouraging network management vendors to develop better products along these lines:

  • Network traffic management
  • Network device management
  • Network configuration management
  • Network security management

The total network management market to grow from $7,024.5 million in 2014 to $11,058.6 million in 2019. source: marketsandmarkets.com


As a result, we should all expect solutions providers to up the ante when it comes to offering something new to the table. But more than just product development, increasing competition also calls for better handling of marketing campaigns. It’s not only the product that spells success, but also the way how we present it to our target audiences.

Related: How to Upsell Telecom Products Using Multi-Channel Marketing

Evolution of network management technologies has triggered some companies to become more aggressive in marketing their solutions. Of course, most of them will make use of the usual tools (social media, landing pages, the works). But to truly rise above the noise, you need to know how to make effective use of the tools at your disposal.

Content marketing may not sound appealing in such a technical industry as network management. But, in today’s B2B arena, it pays to have a good sense of knowing what your audiences want and how to make them listen to what you have to say. Here’s how to create industry related content.

There are several factors that make this possible. The most significant is, no doubt, having a robust marketing team that will package your messages and draws in potential customers to your fold.

 

 

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Answering Quora: How do I sell medical devices to hospitals?

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Answering Quora: How to Sell Medical Devices to Hospitals?

This question gets asked a lot of times on Quora and tends to generate some interestingly varied responses, given the broad scope the topic covers. In this post, we’ll discuss our take on this question by focusing on a specific aspect of selling medical devices: deciding between doing direct selling vs. partnering with distributors.

How do I sell medical devices

Reference: quora.com

Choosing the right sales channel is a critical decision to make since it’s going to influence whether or not your product reaches the customers you’re aiming for. That’s why arriving at this decision involves weighing a lot of factors. There’s more to it than just opting for the cheaper option, and that’s what today’s entry is going to talk about.

Laying the Groundwork

But first, it’s important to note some of the things you need to take into account prior to bringing your medical device to market. If you’re planning to sell to hospitals and healthcare institutions in the United States, make sure that you’ve cleared all regulatory hurdles, such as the FDA’s medical device registration and listing process as well as complied with any applicable state-level requirements.

Next, it’s essential that you become deeply familiar with how device purchases are made in your target hospitals and, more importantly, identify the persons who make buying decisions at these institutions. Most hospitals have a committee that evaluates, selects, and purchases medical devices for the organization. Having a clear idea of the people and process involved before you actually start to market or sell your product will help you choose the right sales channel.

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

#1. Partnering with a Distributor

Distributors, resellers, and channel partners can help your product cross that “last mile” to reach your target customers. Distributors typically have the knowledge and connections needed to access buyers in a specific region, which would otherwise be out of reach to companies that don’t have the resources for establishing and maintaining a presence in that area.

Since a third-party channel partner already does business with the hospitals in an area you’re trying to sell to, working with one lets you expand into a new market at lower cost than entering directly.


However, your company may need to share between 10% to 50% of revenues with distributors as commissions and partner discounts.


Accordingly, partnering with a distributor is a good option if:

  • The added revenue brought in by the channel partner exceeds the costs of establishing and nurturing that relationship.
  • The partner can deliver the value you’re looking for, such as their customer base, reputation, and market reach.
  • The channel partner lets you directly deal with end users, such as for providing support and maintenance services on your device.

Related: The Advantages of Medical Tourism: Why Aren’t You Hopping on a Plane Yet?

#2.Taking the Direct Sales Route

Directly selling to hospitals means forming and managing your own sales team that does meetings with prospects and closes deals with your target buyers.

The typical medical device purchase process needs your sales reps to be physically present at different points in the buying cycle so that targeting multiple hospitals at different locations can require sales teams to stay close by or be available on short notice.

While direct selling brings several key advantages such as having full control over the sales and revenue process as well as direct interaction with your customers, selling your device directly to hospitals carries additional costs and overhead related to managing sales teams along with a potentially more difficult entry into a new market.

As such, direct sales is an ideal route to take if:

  • Your product doesn’t need much in the way of customization and setup for each customer.
  • The costs of managing your own sales team is significantly less than the amount of revenue you need to share with potential channel partners.
  • Your business has the resources to create and handle multiple sales teams, most likely in different locations.

 Related: Top Healthcare Marketing Trends to Expect in 2017

 

The Takeaway

Whether you choose direct sales or distributors depends not only on which one you can readily afford, but also on your target market’s characteristics and your company’s current capabilities.

In some cases, it might make more sense for you to combine these two sales channels, such as partnering with a distributor in certain regions while directly selling to hospitals in other locations. At the same time, you may find it more cost-effective to work with a channel partner as a medical device startup but, once your company has matured enough, penetrating new markets with your own sales team may be a more attractive option.

 

 

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Top 7 Growth Hacking Tips for Manufacturers’ and Distributors’ Bottom-line

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7 Growth Hacking Tips: Increase Profit Margin for Manufacturers and Distributors

It’s now been seven years since Sean Ellis coined the term “growth hacker”. Since then, growth hacking strategies have propelled many startups to become important players in their industries. As the initial hype around growth hacking is starting to wane, it’s beginning to look as though growth hacking is a thing that every business should try out, regardless of how new or established they may be.

For manufacturers and distributors, the benefits from adopting a growth hacking mindset couldn’t be more timely. We’re almost a full decade after the recession, and the sell-at-all-costs approach that had kept many companies afloat during the crisis is no longer relevant today. As one analysis published in the Harvard Business Review argues, every company needs a growth manager to help it thrive in today’s business environment.

To be clear, growth hacking goes beyond testing and tweaking marketing tactics to net more customers. It’s combining product development and marketing in ways that contribute to faster business growth. In other words, growth hacking is all about finding shortcuts to achieve extremely high rates of growth for a product.

As you can imagine, every business needs to develop its own unique set of growth hacking strategies, but successful growth hacking programs cover the following seven key steps:


#1) Prioritize customer and product knowledge over traditional marketing skills


According to growth hacking marketing expert Ryan Holiday, the reason why successful startups achieve phenomenal user growth rates is that they managed to really get to know their target customers and are intimately familiar with the product they’re selling. Often times, in the absence of resources to spend on traditional marketing expertise, that’s all that startups ever rely on.

Does your product truly solve a pain point? How can you measure your target customers’ level of interest and need?

Related: How to Make Prospects Get Curious or Interested with you?


#2) Break down product development-marketing silos


In most manufacturing and distribution firms, product development and marketing teams are typically separated from each other. This can hinder growth since there’s little collaboration going on between engineers (i.e., the people who design the product) and marketing specialists (i.e., the people who talk to users of the product).

Growth hacking means rapidly testing what works and what doesn’t, so these two teams need to be on the same page together.

Related: Creating Appeal: How to Promote a Product People Don’t Search For


#3) Embrace experimentation and failure


Speaking of rapid testing, the main idea behind growth hacking is careful experimentation of ideas and, more often than not, these ideas tend to inevitably fail. But that’s okay, since this process is eventually going to yield something that works.

But with so many ideas to test and so little resources to run these experiments, prioritizing which hypotheses to work on can help you save time and money. To identify which ideas to test first, Sean Ellis developed the ICE scoring framework which involves answering three key questions:

  • What will the impact be if this works?
  • How confident am I that this will work?
  • How much time/money/effort is required?

Related: 6 Growth Hacking Lead Generation Techniques for 2017


#4) Find one thing that works, stick with it, then move on


One thing that overextended startups do to avoid becoming even more overwhelmed is to specialize on a single growth tactic or platform at a time. Once you find that growth hacking sweet spot through testing, stick with it and find another one once the data tells you so.

This also implies that you have to avoid channels and strategies that you cannot measure, since they won’t allow you to scale the learning you gain from your experiments.

Related: Beat the Giants: Marketing Tips and Tricks for Startups


#5) Grow by small increments, not huge leaps


We often label great products as innovations when, in fact, quite a number of the things we consider as “innovations” are actually just iterations of a product’s earlier version. While the term “growth hacking” conjures up images of world-changing ideas, a lot of the things you’ll do in growth hacking will involve making tiny changes to an existing process.

So, don’t swing for the fences when developing and testing your ideas. If you’re looking to introduce a new feature or test a new approach, choose a small subset of your customer base as your sample and run your A/B split test accordingly.

Related:


#6) Streamline the customer acquisition funnel


It’s still a little surprising that nearly 7 out of every 10 B2B marketers have yet to identify their funnel. For these organizations, it can be quite challenging to measure and (eventually) optimize the customer acquisition process.

Consider applying the AARRR startup metrics model (which stands for acquisition, activation, retention, referral, revenue) to help you clearly identify your funnel and run tests to improve each step of the process. Read more about our customer acquisition process.


#7) Know where to look and listen for growth


Opportunities for growth can pop out anywhere, so it can take quite a lot of testing to pinpoint where to focus your efforts next. This means that you need a decent level of familiarity about when, where, and why your customers communicate–typically, this happens on social media–even for B2B–so it’s a good place to start. Here’s why social media deserves attention.

Of course, as always, it’s going to be data that’s going to help you decide. So, be sure that you take a look at both quantitative and qualitative data to paint a more complete picture of the growth landscape.

Related: Re-activate the Interest of Lapsed Customers to your Company

 

The Takeaway

Adopting an unyielding focus on rapid growth isn’t only for startup founders–it’s for every business that wants to thrive. Growth hacking strategies work for companies on so many levels. It’s about doing more with less and, more importantly, it’s shifting the focus toward the customer.

 

 

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5 Pieces of Advice for Live Chat That you Can Never Live Without

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5 Live Chat Advices you Can Never Live Without

Since customer satisfaction is everything when it comes to growing your conversion rates, you might as well focus on the very tools that make this possible.

And what better tool to get yourself closer towards your audience than  Live Chat. In this day and age where the word “instant” is plastered everywhere, prospects want answers as fast as they can type a query. By responding in real-time through Live Chat, you will not only spike your site conversion rates, you will also secure guaranteed sales.

That is, if you could execute Live Chat properly. Understand that it also functions as a lead generation and appointment setting booster, and that means seeing Live Chat as an actual part of marketing and not just of customer support. That’s why we included it in our multi-channel marketing.

For this, you might want to apply these important tidbits for Live Chat mastery.

Master the use of canned messages

We all know that too much automation can be counterproductive in marketing. But what if we just use a bit of it through canned messages? By creating a list of messages to send out allows you to make instant responses. It saves you precious time and, more importantly, shows prospects that you are up and ready to take a question. Think about the good impression that makes! Here’s how to make a good impression on the initial call with a senior executive.

Send files and links

Instead of typing solutions as you go, you might want to anticipate possible questions and issues that prospects might bring up. From there, you can create content such as e-books, infographics, videos, and links to other media to provide the kind of information they need. You can let these materials do all the talking for you. Besides, too much typing is actually bad for you.


Callbox now includes Sales Chat 365 in the Multi-Channel Marketing Approach!


 Set when you are available to chat

If you are operating a 24/7 Live Chat, then expect to go round the clock responding to queries. Especially if your enterprise is not limited to a single geographic region, it is essential to go 24/7. Otherwise, you must tell your site visitors the available hours for Live Chat. Either way, you need to have a corps of agents who will man the frontlines.

Related: 5 Surprising Benefits of Live Chat Software

Make your conversations human

The human factor is still your best bet to get prospects wanting you more and more. In this sense, drift away from the technical jargon and try a more conversational tone. And as much as possible, mention the prospect’s name.

Related: 3 Ways to Make your IT Products and Services from Sounding too Technical

Follow-up questions

Sometimes, a prospect would like your help trying to figure out a certain issue or problem. It wouldn’t be too much of  a hassle for you if you already have a list of follow-up questions to keep the conversation going and to get right into the heart of an issue. 

Check out The 5 to 5 Calling Rule for Inbound Leads (That Generated Over 40% Increase in Sales)!

 

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

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

When tech giants stumble, the entire tech world feels the resulting aftershocks. Sometimes, the tremors can even reach the distant shores of sales and marketing land, giving us not only fodder for the watercooler but also valuable life lessons that can help us become better at what we do.

Behind every botched rollout or embarrassing recall is a nugget of sales wisdom waiting to be cracked. In today’s post, we’ll dissect five failed products from tech’s “Big Five”–Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google (Alphabet), and Microsoft–and find out what we can learn from these titans in their lesser moments.

Amazon Fire Phone: Adequate is not enough.

Amazon

In 2014, Amazon unveiled the Fire Phone, marking the online retailer’s entry into the highly-competitive handset market. A little over a year later, the company completely ceased selling its debut smartphone amid dismal sales and steep discounts.

The Fire Phone, as many industry watchers now believe, is arguably Amazon’s biggest flop. The phone had “adequate features” such as 3D graphics and the Firefly function which allowed users to scan and identify thousands of items. But, to carve out a decent share in a market long dominated by Apple and Samsung, adequate simply wasn’t good enough.

In B2B selling, it’s highly unlikely you’re the only provider your prospect is looking into. So, don’t just go for a checklist of features when comparing your solution with that of a competitor. Dig deeper into your organization’s characteristics and relate these to a story of how you’re uniquely able to deliver a benefit or solve a pain point.

 Related: Marketing BI Software: Be The Heaven-Sent Solution to Customers

 

Apple Newton: Timing is everything.

Apple

Today, most people equate the Apple brand with quality and design excellence, but it can be easy to forget that Apple has also seen its fair share of products that ended up as spectacular flops.

One of these was the Apple Newton, a pioneering device in the personal digital assistant (PDA) space, released in 1993. The product was considered visionary when it debuted, but it suffered from a number of major flaws, including its unreliable handwriting recognition software. The Newton’s marketing materials touted the handwriting feature as its main selling point, but character recognition was still in its infancy when the product was launched. Still, when the technology finally matured enough, the Newton was outclassed by newer and smaller PDA devices.

Although a commercial failure, the Newton’s impact can still be felt today. The idea of making the computer fit in the palm of your hands originally took shape in the Newton. It was quite plainly ahead of its time. So, if a prospect says no to your pitch today, don’t write him off as a lost opportunity right away. It’s just probably not yet the right time to consider your offer.

 Related: Marketing BI Software: Be The Heaven-Sent Solution to Customers

 

Facebook Home: Fit doesn’t mean intent.

Facebook

As the youngest company on this list, it’s understandable that Facebook has taken quite a number of product development missteps in its 13 years of existence. But few are more worth reviewing than Facebook Home, a Facebook-focused user interface designed to replace the home screen in a variety of Android devices.

Facebook Home was launched in April 2013 and immediately garnered poor reception. Users complained that Facebook Home’s almost-exclusive focus on Facebook got in the way of other apps, while others voiced privacy concerns over its level of access on user data. Apart from releasing a couple of updates later that same year, Facebook has all but pulled the plug on the product in the face of low adoption rates.

Anyone in B2B sales can look at the entire Facebook Home saga as a cautionary tale on misreading prospect fit for purchase intent. The main thinking behind the interface was to “make it about people, not apps” since people mostly do social networking on smartphones. Facebook Home’s designers mistook this aspect of device usage as a signal that Android users were willing to give up widgets, docs, and app folders, so the design team left these features out.

In B2B selling, fit and interest are only the starting points when determining whether a prospect is going to turn into a buyer. You need to look at prospect intent (e.g., prospect activities like searching by company name, requesting a product trial, viewing pricing pages, etc.) before aiming for a close.

 

Google Glass: Always be following up.

Credit: technource.com

Inducted into Sweden’s Museum of Failure last month (alongside the Apple Newton), Google Glass is either a world-changing idea that has yet to see its time or a footnote to the company’s never-ending innovation story. Either way, Google Glass was a massive flop, and there’s a ton of reasons why it failed–including a basic marketing mistake: not following up.

Google Glass’s marketing slip-ups began with how the company decided to initially promote the product, and these gaffes continued throughout much of the device’s brief commercial life. Before being made available to the general public in May 2014, Google Glass units were sold to qualified “Glass Explorers”, a select group of early adopters and celebrities that acted as the product advertisement.

At first, this appeared to be a brilliant PR stunt with Google generating a decent amount of buzz around the product. But Google Glass’s marketing team failed to capitalize on the initial product hype by being unable to clearly communicate what Google Glass exactly was. If you ever try to drive awareness through PR, the only way to turn this into demand is to follow it up with a clear value proposition.

 

Microsoft Zune: Find products for customers, not customers for products.

Zune

If you haven’t heard of Microsoft’s Zune music player, you’re not alone. The Zune was Microsoft’s failed attempt to take on the iPod and, judging by how history unfolded, it was one of the biggest tech flops of all time, with the former barely making a dent in the latter’s market share.

The Zune was launched in 2006, a full five years after Apple released its iconic audio device. Amid lackluster sales, Microsoft released a final version in 2009 and discontinued support for the device in 2015.

There are as many reasons for Zune’s demise as there are Zune post-mortems ever published. But one very interesting side of Zune’s story was Microsoft’s failure to position the device as an iPod alternative. The Zune had features that the iPod didn’t have, but Zune’s target users (most of whom were iPod users themselves) weren’t convinced that Microsoft’s music player solved a pressing issue or fulfilled an urgent need.

In the end, a product’s ability to solve a problem or pain point is what converts prospects to buyers. As Seth Godin puts it: “Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.”

 

The Takeaway

Even with the vast amounts of talent and resources at their disposal, the Big Five still mess up from time to time. But the business of innovation is a trial-and-error process, so it’s possibly because of (and not despite) these product debacles and the ability to learn from them that Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are what they are today. The same is true in B2B sales: flops are inevitable, so embrace failure and learn from it.

 

 

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Ways Marketers Can Harness the Potential of Voice Recognition Technology [GUEST POST]

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Ways Marketers Can Harness the Potential of Voice Recognition Technology

Like many other modern technologies, voice recognition – and the power to use the technology for web searches – has come a long way in a relatively brief period of time. Voice search didn’t hit the scene until 2004, when Google rolled out a half-baked experiment from its labs called “Google Voice.” The convoluted approach involved calling a phone number, speaking your search query and then opening a web browser to see the results. Predictably, the novel search tactic only occasionally worked and failed to seize the public imagination.

Fast forward little more than a decade, however, and voice recognition has become one of the hottest trends in the internet search space. Tech giants Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Google have all thrown their hat in the voice search ring, employing sophisticated algorithms to power voice-activated digital assistants – Alexa, Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant, respectively – that now handle an ever-growing share of all internet search activity. For online marketers, this shift toward voice control and digital assistants raises some interesting issues: how does this change alter the traditional approach to SEO, and how might this technology be leveraged to reach an even broader and better-targeted audience?

Understanding Voice Search

In years past, voice search was probably better known for its high incidence of recognition and transcription errors – sometimes amusing, often frustrating – than for its real-world usefulness. Technological advances have radically reduced those mistakes, however, and today nearly half of all adults say they use voice-control devices like the Amazon Echo or Google Home speaker on a on a regular basis. Their growing popularity makes understanding voice search all the more important to marketers.

While few analytic tools exist that are specifically tailored to voice searches, traditional paid search campaign tools can still elicit plenty of useful information. The data they provide makes it easy to single out searches that originate from mobile devices, and the way search queries are phrased often differentiates voice versus text searches. Where traditional text searches often use brief, specific keywords – “best pizza Chicago” or “fastest smartphone,” for instance” – voice search tends to be more conversational in nature. Full-sentence queries are the norm, and local searches are particularly common among voice users. Knowing these differences, it’s often easy to roughly approximate which searches are done via voice and which are made through text.

Related: Ways Marketers Can Harness the Potential of Voice Recognition Technology

Optimizing for Speech

The broad fundamentals of content marketing are unlikely to change as we move progressively toward mobile and voice-based search, but new strategies are still needed to optimize marketing campaigns for this new reality. The biggest change is the evolution toward conversational, full-sentence searches. Since voice search often takes place in the context of a digital assistant, it’s important to recognize and account for the fact that many such queries come in the form of direct questions. Perhaps the best way to take advantage of this is by utilizing FAQ pages, taking the most commonly searched questions relevant to your content and supplying concise, actionable answers.

Similarly, because so many voice searches are local, on-the-go and conducted via mobile devices, marketers who optimize for these uses will be well-positioned to stay ahead of the game. Websites for physical businesses should always display addresses, phone numbers and directions from major interstates or points of interest in text format, and a strong presence on review directories and social networks like Yelp, Facebook and Google Local Guides is invaluable for driving foot traffic. As speech recognition and AI assistant technologies continue to improve and mature, voice search will continue to take on a larger share of overall search traffic. In fact, analysts expect that voice searches may account for more than half of all search queries by the year 2020, making it an essential tool for any savvy content marketing team.

Related: The Five Elements of Quality Content (According to an End-user)

Driven by the progressive march toward smarter, more interactive, more mobile technology, the online search space is clearly changing. Digital assistants have already begun to alter the way we interact with and think about search platforms, and that trend shows no signs of slowing down. It’s on content marketers to learn how best to utilize these new technologies, and those who can do so quickly and effectively will be well-positioned to succeed both now and in the future.

 

 

Author Bio: 

Beth Kotz is a freelance writer and contributor for numerous home, technology, and personal finance blogs. She graduated with BA in Communications and Media from DePaul University in Chicago, IL, where she continues to live and work.

 

 

 

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Declare Your Independence from Bad Data: A 5-Step Plan

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Declare Your Independence from Bad Data: A 5-Step Plan

Independence Day happens to fall on a Tuesday this year. For many, that means a long four-day weekend of barbecues, parades, and fireworks. But as you sit back and celebrate the nation’s 241st birthday, it’s also a perfect time to take a step back and reflect on things holding down your marketing and sales performance.

One of the biggest hurdles you need to break free from is bad marketing data. Bad data leads to bad insights and more, and this eventually translates to poor results. In fact, bad data can shave off as much as 12% of revenues due to wasted marketing spend and misused staff time pursuing invalid leads and lost opportunities.

That’s why this 4th of July, it’s time to set your marketing and sales processes free from the needless limitations that bad data imposes. But, like any great undertaking, this won’t be easy. It’s going to be long and tedious, and it’s going to require having a good plan in place.

Step 1: Keep records as complete as possible

Records with empty fields can have very serious consequences for your marketing efforts. Incomplete contact information can severely restrict reach and deliverability, while missing prospect details can impact segmentation.

There are (at least) two ways to maintain complete records for your leads database or CRM tool. First, you need to make sure prospects submit all required information at the initial point of capture. This means identifying the minimum set of information that comprise a complete record and to set them as mandatory fields on your lead capture forms.

Next is to sift through your existing prospect database and fill out fields containing missing information. For a small-enough list, using built-in filtering features in Excel can get the job done, while it might take a little automation or even a third-party data provider to handle missing data in large databases.

Related: The Hidden Gems of the Web: Where Can You Get a Good B2B Lead List?

Step 2: Have a regular update schedule

No matter how stringent your data collection and storage practices may be, every bit of marketing data has an expiration date. Estimates widely vary, but contact data decays at a rate of anywhere between 30% to 70% each year. Read more about Database decay.

Changes in job title, department, location, contact details, and company attributes are among the most common reasons why data becomes obsolete overtime.

That’s why it pays to follow a regular and thorough database update schedule. Data cleanup applications and data enrichment companies help your in-house research activities get records up-to-date on the latest job titles, contact info, and other key details on your leads.

How often should you update your marketing data? This depends on a number of factors such as the size of your database, the resources you have at your disposal, and the processes you follow. One key thing to consider is the average turnover rate in your target industry or job title. This can give you a sense on how quickly data on your prospects change.

Related: Customer Profiling Checklist in Verifying Business Contacts

Step 3: Manage and merge duplicate records

Duplicate records negatively affect productivity and efficiency as well as cause confusion when measuring and tracking results. This is such a pressing problem among marketers that 68% say de-duplication is their top data quality priority.

It’s very difficult to prevent duplicate records from populating your database. Take, for instance, the unavoidable possibility that a single prospect can sign up using multiple different email addresses. The number of unique emails that particular lead submits will also be how many records she’ll occupy on your database.

It’s going to take a mix of manual processing and automated tools to thoroughly remove duplicates from your list. Most CRM applications have built-in de-duplication features, while commercially-available list cleanup tools come with even more powerful de-duping capabilities. However, there are specific instances when you need to manually keep a lookout for redundant entries (e.g., when deciding which records to keep and which ones to discard).

Here’s a step by step guide in removing duplicate data using excel!

Step 4: Standardize data and keep things consistent

Having inconsistent data across records and fields can skew targeting and reporting accuracy. Examples of this include following different country/state abbreviations, date formats, and slight variations in spelling.

A clean list contains consistent and uniform data. One way to ensure this is to let prospects pick an item in a drop-down menu instead of letting them type in the values themselves (such as when specifying a country or state) when signing up. Once again, standardizing existing data on your CRM can require both manual and automated methods. Your platform should be able to clean identical entries but still let you keep track of the cleanup process.

Related: Better Business Decisions by Enhanced Customer Data Analysis

Step 5: Develop a thorough data cleansing program

If there’s one key idea to pick up from this post, it’s that achieving independence from the influence of bad data is a continuing process and not just a one-time thing. That’s why you need a data maintenance program that both prevents and fixes data quality issues at each stage of your data life cycle, from creation/collection to removal.

Also, data quality requires a major rethink of how your team or organization uses and handles data. While it’s important to assign clear roles and responsibilities for data maintenance to specific people, data quality is actually everyone’s initiative.

Related: Why Cleaner Marketing Data is Essential for IT

Lastly, you need to identify relevant benchmarks for measuring the success of your data cleanup efforts. To help you determine which particular metrics to look at, make sure that the numbers you keep track of let you answer these key questions:

  • What is the overall level of data hygiene?
  • How complete are the database records?
  • How much reach and targeting does your database allow?
  • What are the response rates you’re generating?
  • Can you identify which data sources most issues come from?

Related: Why Customer Profiling Could be the Best Investment your Company Makes 

 

The Takeaway

Let’s conclude this post with a quote that’s often spuriously attributed to a number of authors: “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”

The same can be said about your data quality initiatives. To make sure that you have actionable data on hand (and nothing less), you need to constantly be on the lookout for sources and causes of bad data. That means having a plan, and hopefully this entry can help you put one together.

Happy 4th of July!

 

 

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Creating Appeal: How to Promote a Product People Don’t Search For

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Creating Appeal: How to Promote a Product People Don’t Search For
The essence of marketing has everything to do with getting the right information out there and for your target audience to consume. In particular, it is all about creating effective messages that respond with your ideal clients through the use of all available channels.

But that’s just the tip of it. In lead generation and appointment setting, you need to understand what makes buyers tick and how they respond to every content they encounter online.

Basically, people search for something they urgently need because certain circumstances require them to. But what if you have a product that does not meet this urgency but can still be useful in the future?

Promoting a product that people don’t actually search for can be bit tricky even for major B2B brands. Despite this, there are still countless ways these companies can apply in order to provide their products a boost in their appeal.

Highlight audience needs.

For most marketers, it is always important to talk a lot about the service or product. But what they don’t get is that client needs still remain the top priority in content marketing. Even if there is no sense of urgency, you will never know when a prospect will need your product. Even if there is an absence of urgency, you will never really know when a client needs to purchase your product or service. So, it is best to base your marketing messages on potential issues that may arise.

Source: ethos3.com

Go outbound.

Outbound marketing has become the lifeblood of any B2B company. Efforts through trade show participations, telemarketing and cold-calling, and E-mail campaigns allows for reaching out to your target audience and C-Level decision makers even if they don’t need your product or service at the moment.  

More importantly, Social media presence is everything if you consider increasing your brand’s online clout a priority. You can count on Facebook and Twitter to spread your messaging and let your audience know that you have a product which can help them out in the long run. All it takes is knowing what type of content to post in your feed as well as the ideal times and dates for when to post.

Related: The Naked Truth: Outbound Marketing is still Important

Participate in forums.

Forums are where your audience gets most of their information. Whether they are looking for specific information about a certain issue they want to address, they are still open to other topics as an aside. In this case, try to get your voice heard in important industry forums. Create a thread and see where it would take you.

Related: 5 Reasons Why Forum Participation is Beneficial for Lead Generation

Discuss about a problem.

As much as we can admit it, basically anything can go wrong within a business. As an entrepreneur, you will have preemptive measures to make sure such problems are well addressed. Use this perspective to create content that discusses about a future problem or even a prevailing need. That way, potential clients may add you up in their list of go-to solutions when things get a bit sticky.

Related: What to Tell Clients Who Say “You’re too expensive.”

 

 

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4 Tips on How to Get Prospects Interested in Your Business

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4 Tips on How to Get Prospects Interested in Your Business

The secret to increasing your sales margins lie mostly in the marketing side of your business.

For one thing, lead generation and appointment setting are essential to acquiring high quality leads that translate to purchases. However, there is still a lot for marketers to know and apply in order to lengthen the interactions they have with their prospects.

Generating interest is highly important if you opt to put your products front and center, and eventually push prospects towards a purchase. Apparently, not everyone has truly mastered the art of generating interest.

Nothing’s really perfect in the world of B2B marketing, but you can always bet your bottom dollar on effective marketing advice, starting with:

Listen to what your audience has to say.

 

You will have to understand that your prospects have issues that they want to streamline within their own enterprises. And depending on what these issues are, you should be able to craft your message around them. Rather than spend time on giving away too much details about your product, try to dig deep with questions that really matter to your prospects.

As Jeff Hoffman of HubSpot puts it: “Not everybody you’re selling to will be interested in your product, but I guarantee they’re always interested in themselves.”

Related: Selling Tips to Make Prospects Buy your Software

Keep them guessing.

 

While it’s good to be an effective salesman like what the self-help books tell you to be, focusing too much on promoting your product will only give prospects the right reasons to turn you down. Their curiosity needs to be fed, and giving too much away wouldn’t help prolong your interactions. As much as possible, avoid giving prospects a panoramic view of the horizon. Give them a thumbnail version of it, and you will get them to know more about you.

Hoffman says, “Playing up curiosity over credibility can be scary for reps. But if you maintain confidence and courage alongside your curiosity, I guarantee you will grab and hold your buyer’s attention.”

Related: Using Neuroscience to Better Answer 5 Questions Leads Ask Themselves Before Buying

Explain the ins and outs.

 


 This is where your salesmanship should be invoked. Potential clients are itching to know more about what they (and of course) you can do to make things a tad easier. In this vein, you should fill the shoes of a teacher and an expert. The important thing here is to guide them and show them that you know your industry all too well. Sensing this, you prospects  may want to hold on until the very moment he or she decides to make a sales appointment.

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

Get to the human core.

 


As much as we can admit it, people are emotional creatures and they respond to stimuli that touches upon the challenges they face as humans. For this reason, create your messages and coincide them with the issues they face. They will listen accordingly.

What other ways can marketers do to generate interest? Tell us in the comments below.
 
 

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