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ELF Receives Major Improvements in Latest Release


The ability to nurture your leads overtime through ELF just got a whole lot easier. With the most recent release of InsideSales.com’s ELF, users gain additional powerful features making their drip marketing and lead nurturing tools even more effective. In the latest announcement, ELF now allows users the ability to trigger events based on actual [...]

The Social Selling Catch-22


Like sports, travel, and Justin Bieber, Anchorman provides a nearly unmatched wealth of metaphors applicable to the sales industry (and I’m only half-kidding about Bieber. Hate the music, but give the kid some props—he definitely understands his target audience and their needs).

With salesforce.com CEO Mark Benioff making it the entire focus of Dreamforce 2011, “social selling” is, in the immortal words of Ron Burgundy, “kind of a big deal” these days. In a world where attention spans are short, having an edge in connecting with prospects makes every step of the sales process easier and faster. Professional sales reps–particularly inside sales reps who sell remotely–seemingly can’t afford NOT to be connected to the various social platforms.

Inside sales expert Ken Krogue notes that a LinkedIn invitation with the exact same content as a marketing-generated email is 8x more effective at getting responses than the email by itself. Hubspot reports that companies that blog get 55% more Web traffic, 70% more leads, and 57% of organizations have acquired a customer through an interaction on their blog. In addition, companies with an active Twitter account get 2x as many sales leads, and organizations with 1000+ followers get 6x more traffic.

Sales and Marketing – “It’s Time to Ask Yourself What You Believe”


It’s been nearly three months since the Sales Insider’s last blog post.

I’ve been heavily involved with the new InsideSales.com Certified Administrator project, and various Dreamforce 2011-related projects, so other than an occasional tweet, and interacting with clients, time for our online presence has been in short supply.

However, a few weeks ago in a company meeting, we watched this presentation on TED.com. And I was absolutely compelled to write a post on its contents.

It’s 18 minutes long. The ideas presented within it are simple and easy to comprehend.

And I cannot stop thinking about it.

Inside Sales Tip: 7 Slump-Busting Ways to Get Your Mojo Back


Everyone goes through sales slumps. If you haven’t yet, you’re either too new to the profession . . . . or you just haven’t been doing it long enough.

We’ve got some sharp sales reps here at InsideSales.com, so I thought I’d talk to them about what they do to get out of their personal pipeline woes.

  1. Separate the real opportunities from the fluff: “When I hit a slow period, sometimes I’ll throw some stuff overboard and just start over. When your pipeline sucks, it means you’re wasting time chasing stuff you can’t really close. Focus on generating better deals instead of chasing garbage.” — R.J. Tracy
  2. Focus on “touch” quality, in addition to quantity: “Our software [the InsideSales.com Lead Response Management Suite] has built-in safeguards to make sure we do enough follow-up, but let’s be honest, not all follow-up activity is created equal. A call is a call, as far as your numbers are concerned, but being ready and engaged . . . .

A Friday the 13th Well Spent


Rather than avoiding black cats and cowering in fear from triskaidekaphobia, the team at InsideSales.com decided to spend some time on Friday, May 13 at the Food & Care Coalition offices in Provo, Utah. Ten InsideSales.com volunteers worked and cleaned the kitchen, and served meals to Coalition patrons. Robb Young, Director of Operations stated afterwards, [...]

Sales Tip: Customer Symptoms vs. Root Causes


As sales reps, we occasionally forget that sometimes a prospect isn’t looking to solve a problem, they’re trying to alleviate the symptoms of something else.

This isn’t to say that you can’t make money selling solutions for both. Just be clear with the prospect about what it is you’re actually attempting to solve.

Inexperienced sales reps can be particularly susceptible to the fallacy of assigning need based on the requested solution—”Well, they’re asking about X, so clearly their problem is Y” (even though your solution is massaging a symptom, not solving the root cause).

Carried to its logical conclusion, the idea can apply nearly universally. For instance, if you’re selling outsourced HR services, you’re not actually solving your buyer’s need to eventually improve its own internal resources—you’re just applying a particular band-aid to it (i.e., your services). As soon as the value of managing HR in house is higher than the cost of outsourcing, the buyer will inevitably make the switch.

Does this mean you shouldn’t pursue deals if you’re not meeting the direct need? Of course not; that’s why service-based solutions and outsourcing exist to begin with. But it does mean you should be careful . . . .

Support is the Sequel to Sales


There’s lots of reasons movie sequels often suck—but regardless of the actual symptoms, the root cause is generally the same: the creators forget that the audience must have a reason to care AGAIN.

Characters have to evolve in new directions to remain interesting. Plots can’t just retread old developments. If we wanted to watch the same movie twice, we’d just watch the original.

There’s nothing worse than sitting through a sequel “retread” feeling like you’re being had—”This isn’t taking me anywhere, it’s a waste of time”—and if the creators screw up badly enough, it can damage the the entire collective experience.

Take, for instance, the generally reviled Star Wars Episodes I, II, and III. By all accounts they achieved financial success, but in some ways their blatant artistic failures demeaned the entire George Lucas enterprise. Episodes IV, V, and VI suddenly don’t look so “magical,” or meaningful, or worthy of praise.

So what’s the point of all of this?

Namely that in business contexts, customer support is the “sequel” to sales. If support teams aren’t “keeping the magic alive,” re-inventing value and connecting with the vision of the client, it casts a pall across everything that came before it (not unlike Hayden Christensen’s laughable acting) . . . .

7 Sources of B2B Marketing Inspiration


In its purest form it’s difficult to find, and even harder to keep.

When used properly, it creates more conversations than a thousand mediocre TV ads, a million tweets, and a 100 million social media experts blathering across the blogosphere.

It doesn’t build companies, it creates movements. It doesn’t design a brand, it defines it.

It gets more sales reps to hit quota; transforms challenging problems into the “do-able.”

It keeps people up at night—and helps them sleep better at the same time.

So where do you go for inspiration?

In no particular order, here’s my Top 7 Places I go on the Web to Get the Creative Juices Flowing:

Sales Management Tip: Help Your Reps Cut Through the Noise


Unless your entire business is based on a “1-click” transactional sales model, the old rule of “You don’t have a sale until you have a conversation” remains pretty well entrenched. Sure, there’s lots of companies doing great things with inbound marketing, demand generation, lead nurturing, and “pre-qualifying” of prospects–but even then, unless you’ve got a relatively simple product with few set-up requirements, at some point a prospect is going to need a sales rep to step in and “bridge the gap.”

And as we’ve been preaching for years, the trick is giving yourself every possible opportunity to actually have that conversation.

With that end in mind, B2B lead generation outsourcers Green Leads has a “standing policy” for reps to work harder on “off peak” holidays (e.g., President’s Day, Columbus Day, Martin Luther King Day).

Why?

Because a lot of companies, even if they don’t take the day off, they “take the day off.” There’s less noise, less static floating around the prospecto-sphere. It’s about better opportunities for getting a decision-maker’s undivided attention. And Green Leads has had a lot of success doing it . . .

The Sales and Marketing Disconnect Continues


Just when you think the business world is changing for the better, that marketing and sales professionals are starting to “get it,” that a new age of enlightened prospecting is on its way, based on serving the customer and truly providing strategic value to them, rather than just pushing product . . . you have a meeting like the one I sat in on last week.

Well, to be honest, calling it a “meeting” is a bit disingenuous; a live-action comedy of marketing errors is a bit nearer the mark.

I can’t reveal names or the organization involved, because it would be a blow-up embarrassment for them. But let’s just take you through
the last bit of our collective conversation . . .