Followup – recognized by Slideshare

Followup.. your way to success, one of my presentations was recognized by Slideshare as one of their featured presentations on the home page.

One of my better presentation work till date..

Have a look at it here…

Advertisements

Online tools for a startup

As with any other bootstrapping startup, we’re constantly looking at different tools which can help us maximize our productivity at the same time keeping the expense in mind.

Being a product development company, the needs are more technical in nature.. Apart from that, there are other operational needs as well.

Let me summarize some of the best tools that we use:

1. Bug Tracking / Wiki / Project management : FogBugz (www.fogbugz.com)

Fogbugz has been generous enough to offer a free plan for startups. We use the online version to manage our issues.

Its one of the best Project Management tool available. Some of the features are absolutely top of the world. We use it for Wiki and task distribution as well.

Inspite all this, we only utilize 50 – 60% of the features.

2. Leave Management : www.whosoff.com

A great tool to manage all your employees leave and organization holidays. Online tool, hence giving the flexibility of location.

3. Sales/Marketing Automation : Lead Simplified (www.leadsimplified.com)

One of the better lead management systems around for SMEs and Enterprises alike. Online tool enables marketing/sales team to access the data from anywhere. Great flexibility to have for a growing organization specially.

Some of the features like Dashboard, Lead Routing, Checklist, Enquiry Process History, Lead Scoring add the required sophistication into our whole sales and marketing system.

(PS : we’re the creators of this application, hence no cost)

4. Web Demos / Desktop sharing : Team Viewer (www.teamviewer.com)

Very easy tool for sharing desktops and conducting web demos.

5. Presentations : http://www.slideshare.net

Slideshare is a great community which has literally redefined the usage of powerpoint to drive a presentation.

6. Demo Videos : http://www.youtube.com

Its a no-brainer.

7. Customer Feedback : http://www.uservoice.com

We literally started at the same time as this startup. The tool is excellent as well.

8. Video Messages : http://www.openacircle.com

Look at their Beta release to get some information. Cool tool.

9. Development tools:

Eclipse, SVN, Firefox, Firebug, SQLYog, WinSCP, Putty, fireftp.

Still looking for::

1. Online Code sharing tool. (looking at few options)
2. Online team collaboration tool. (something like twitter locally, looking at few options)
3. Online invoicing/billing system.
4. Online Client Subscription management system.
5. Online client testimonial system.

Shall continue review of some tools later…

Followup.. your way to success.

Follow-up.. Your Way to success
Follow-up.. Your Way to success

When a company signs up for a Lead Management System, its typical aim is to increase sales and revenue. Ofcourse.. a lead management system does help improve the efficiency of a sales team, but apart from that, it also helps an organization build a great social impact. What they are doing is that they are creating a great platform for their customers. Something that their customers would love and cherish and recommend to others.

Lead Management has proven to make companies faster and proactive and hence close more deals. Saliently, it also improves the customer experience and helps get more referrals. Here are few of the things that it helps improve:

1. Agility of the organization to respond to the first contact.

Present day scenario.. Customers are used to slow and unresponsive organizations which generally take days to respond to any enquiry. Some organizations can take it as an opportunity to grab new customers by quicker response times.

With a Lead Management System, organizations can easily assign enquiries to right salesperson and start responding immediately to enquiries. Thus gaining more respect from customers resulting in a sale. This would guarantee that you’re one of the first to cater to the enquiry and a step above your competition.

2. Better relationship through on-time follow-up

First contact helps a lot but seldom does it result in a sale. It typically takes 5-6 follow-up to convert a prospect into a sale. According to Gartner reports, 70% of your leads are lost due to inconsistent follow-up.

Follow-up is a process of building trust and relationship that helps you get deals. Unfortunately, this is one reason where most of the relationships are broken.

One of the essential things in a Lead Management tool is to help automate the followups. This helps your customer feel special and starts believing in your brand. Result, Sale.

Relationships are built on promises that you make and keep along the way. At every followup its extremely important for you to know what stage of the sales process, the customer is in currently. Also, you should be totally aware of what discussion you’ve had with him previous to this one. This information would keep you on top of things and you can continue the discussion where you last left.

Once you’re on top of your game, the customer wouldn’t have to remind you of anything that happened earlier. This would again increase his trust and help make the relationship even stronger. The more proactive you appear, stronger trust builds and helps you and customers more efficient.

Lead Management System keeps you and your customers in close reach. Customers would relish the experience you give them and they’d continue to bring more business to you.

LeadSimplified is one such Lead Management System, that simplifies your follow-up process and helps you give the best experience to your customers and clients.

Programming is just a fancy way of typing! There is some truth in it..

Programming and Typing
Programming and Typing

Few months back, I had one of my friends (with an MBA) say that programming is just a fancy way of typing. At that moment, it created a bit of an argument.. Though at a later point I tend to agree with him to some extent (not completely though)

Lot of programmers concentrate of various aspect of programming like problem solving, IDE, logical reasoning, syntax, languages, etc. Many of them forget that typing is an extremely essential part of programming as well..

Have you ever seen a biker, who likes oil, wind, helmet but is struggling in handling the motorbike? Have you seen a cricketer who struggles to hold the bat, but scoring heavy runs?

The answer is NO. If programming is your profession, you have to take to keyboard as a duck takes to pond.

A good programmer is a very efficient typist. (reverse is not true though)

Lot of people would agree that the speed of their thoughts run much faster than what our fingers can keep up with. But, with constant practice and application this can be improved.

So go ahead and look for typing test in google. and test your speed right away. Mine is about 75 words per minute. I know its not the fastest, I’m working towards it too.. Lets reach 100 soon.

Video messages, the new way of getting closer to customer.

Salesperson autopilot
Salesperson autopilot

Getting close to customer and building a rapport is an extremely important part of any sales process. Being a online startup that we are, it is extremely difficult to be present physically in front of clients.. the constraints being travel costs, time, etc.

We were looking for different ways we can get closer to the customer. The traditional ways are emails, newsletters and phone calls. We wanted something more.. Then came this idea of video messages.

We are getting started with videos as one of our sales tools. The idea is as following:
1. Once a user registers, we send them a personalized video message made by one of our salesperson. Since its experimental, it is usually accompanied by a welcome email as well.
2. Nurturing the lead is also done in video format.

Benefits we expect:
1. Customers feel much more secure looking at a real person.
2. Gives us a great first impression, which traditional methods like emails and phone calls would not be able to achieve.
3. Would communicate our values better than traditional methods.

In the coming few months, we would be concentrating on generating much more friendlier and customer focussed video messages. Lets see how it manages to affect our relation with our prospects..

Strategy Beyond the Send

Strategy for B2B lead nurturing is often treated as more of an after-thought—if it’s thought of at all. I’m not sure exactly why, as the whole point of lead nurturing is to extend the initial attention you’ve caught across the buying process until the prospect is in a sales-ready state.

People talk about the components of nurturing, email campaigns, messaging, content, even touch frequency and reaching deeper across potential customer companies, and more. But when I ask them what their overall plan for prospect progression is, they seem stymied.

Like it’ll just happen if they keep sending some message or newsletter every month without regard for where prospects are in their buying process, what they know, or what they have yet to learn.

That’s leaving a lot to chance. One-off sends aren’t really the essence of building a relationship. That type of program is just putting information in front of someone multiple times and hoping you hit them when they’re focused on whatever message you send that day.

For example:

Send 1: A newsletter with new product launch info, a customer spotlight using the beta version and an invitation to download a 3rd party expertise white paper.

Send 2: Email with link to a thought leadership article about the benefits of using one of your legacy products.

Send 3: Invitation to a webinar about how bundling your products together provides increasing scales of efficiency.

Do you see any storyline building? [other than focused on what the company wants to promote] Well, according to research, much of marketing communication is based on the company’s product strategy, not prospect needs. Most websites are updated only when new products are launched, or when company positioning changes – excepting press and event areas.

That said, marketers seem to have enough success with this “chance” approach that the outcomes they’re getting seem good enough.

But, are they? Really?

I think we can do better. I think that for sales to actually trust marketing that the prospects they hand over to sales need to be sales-ready. And marketing must have established higher levels of credibility for their companies than ever before during the pre-sales process.

Let’s face it, content marketing is a big deal. Sourcing information online is how buyers in complex sales decide how to choose through learning about the options and ideas available to solve their problems. Based on the quality of those interactions, they decide who to partner with to get the outcomes they want. As more and more companies embrace the power of content marketing and create better, more customer-focused content, it’s going to become more challenging to stand out.

By integrating the components of customer focus, content development, and technology with a strategic approach, you’ll find it easier to differentiate your company based on your strengths and expertise.

Instead of talking, thinking and planning around the components of interactive marketing, you need to think about the whole of it—the strategy beyond the send. You need to think progressively, like your prospects do when they set out to solve a problem. One step leads to another… and another…

Here’s an exercise to help you start planning a progressive nurturing approach:

  1. Think about one problem your products solve that’s key to your prospects.
  2. Define that problem from your customer’s perspective.
  3. List the questions they’ll have and what they need to know in order to make a decision. (If you can address this to segments, all the better.)
  4. Review your options for content that addresses these concerns.
  5. Rate the Q&A for priority (take a stab and refine as you go)
  6. Create an editorial calendar based on the priority list you just created.

Do not aim for perfection. It won’t happen, so give it up now.

Just get started. Monitor prospect response and behavior and make adjustments. You’ll likely find gaps over time where you missed a thought leap. Create content to fill them and keep going.

Create an overview for your salespeople so they know the story you’re telling. What questions and answers did you brainstorm that fall into the sales activity realm? Create content for your salespeople to use that keeps your storyline going. In fact, involve sales in the brainstorming and your chances of more closely matching the storyline to your prospect’s experience of solving the problem will get better.

The key point is that marketing has to think beyond one send at a time to nurture effectively. Marketing is not an exercise in utilizing components, it’s a pro-active effort to coordinate the effectiveness of their use across the prospect’s experience of solving a problem.

via Strategy Beyond the Send.

Lead Management Software, The 5 Mistakes That Kill Sales

In today’s business climate it’s no secret for the need of a strong customer base and to keep attracting new ones. Yes, we all want more customers with less leads. This is a strategy that greatly improves your profit and saves your company from throwing away money for marketing. Bringing in customers with less leads is key in this climate. Companies are throwing away opportunities every day. If you want to win more deals its important to use proper sales management to increase your sales numbers! It’s important to fix these gaps in your sales process to put you on top!

Here are 5 common lead management mistakes that should be fixed to increase sales performance:

1. Email Doesn’t = CRM Software

This is unquestionably the top killer of sales leads. Email is a communication tool. Meant for short-term discussions or collaborations, not sales account management. It is not a tool to build sales relationships, with hundreds of clients, over numerous years.

Fact: the human brain can only manage so much information.

Your attempts at remembering to follow-up and diligently stay on top of hundreds of prospects and customers is a guaranteed failure. Real sales performance needs a system that will routinely automate some contacts and remind you to reach out personally on a regular basis.

2. One Call Close are Unlikely

It is certainly the stuff of sales legend, that Boiler Room like close. But, real sales professionals know the real probability ranks up with winning the lottery. So, if you hit it be happy, but don’t expect to pay your bills and feed yourself playing that game.

This is why a disciplined process of following up, on all prospects, is critical to success. Industry surveys show that the average lead takes a minimum of 5-7 contacts to close and generally requires 30-60 days. So, don’t get frustrated and toss out that two week old lead–nurture it.

3. Stop Picking Threw Leads

The Call of the Wild fouls this one up too, our primal nature lures us to the biggest fish (whale) of the freshest meat (new lead). Two notoriously bad choices.

We can’t pick the right leads! We invariably gravitate to our biases, which is typically counter productive to our sales numbers.

Grabbing for the brass ring (tackling only the biggest accounts or loan amounts) and neglecting the opportunity to land a few small ones along the way, is the perfect example. Your sales management system should help you create an ideal lead profile for each of your sales agents. You will be amazed at how different your “perfect lead” looks from your “preferred lead.”

4. Start to Value Your Leads

Are you trashing valuable non-responsive customers? More so than ever, leads need to be effectively nurtured. Challenging economic conditions slows everyone’s buying decisions. Stay top of mind, so you will be first in mind when the pain or the need becomes right for the big buy.

This doesn’t mean just throwing all your old leads into the autoresponder. Smart sales people build a detailed follow-up plan that includes email, mail, and telephone. And don’t forget the value at each of those touch points–an interesting article or report, an example of success, or best practices session.

5. Get to the Next Lead!

Often we forget that sales is really about numbers in the end.

How many times do we spend too much time organizing or getting ready to do something? The best strategy in most cases is to do as my Dad was found of saying, “Do something, even if it’s wrong.”

Simply getting onto the next lead will produce more sales than any other strategy. Get To Your Leads Now!

Lead Management Software, The 5 Mistakes That Kill Sales | valeriesvenue.com.