99.999% error-free marketing campaigns (here’s how)

Test keyboardPost by Brian Hansford, Director of Client Services, Heinz Marketing, Inc.

Every marketing team should target perfect execution of marketing campaigns. Shoot for at least Five-9’s of error-free campaigns every year! For the non-IT folks, that’s a reference to 99.999% reliability.

Review Procedures
Do you have a quality review and approval process for your marketing campaigns? I have recently witnessed several B2B campaigns that clearly lacked any kind of QA process before going live. Emails with misspelled words, the wrong content served up, inappropriate comments in social media – it’s all happened and it’s all avoidable. Even the big enterprise organizations are taking short cuts and missing QA review and approval procedures.

New marketing technologies make review processes even more critical simply because of the breadth and depth of consequences from errors. Can you imagine sending an email to your entire global database when it was only intended for a small segment of contacts? What about sending a production email that has “TEST” in the subject line and the field inserts show someone else’s name? How about a landing page form that is broken and doesn’t allow entries and prevents content delivery? How about a targeted account campaign that features images of one of their competitor’s products? Each of these are examples of real world mistakes that could have been prevented with tight QA review procedures.

Here are some ideas to review and test the elements of your marketing campaigns.

Asset Review
Assets include any piece of content, email, landing page that is part of an overall campaign. Here are some suggestions for a review and approval process.

1. Fresh Eyes Review – Do a Copy and editorial review by someone other than author. Includes spell check, grammar.

2. Update Changes – Re-review after changes from first step.

3. Context Review – Ask, “Will the imagery and content resonate with the intended audience, or turn them off?”

4. Legal and Compliance Review and Approval – Do (if required)

5. Final Approval – Get from manager or team manager

Top Tip! Never ever rely on your own set of eyes to review assets you created! A fresh set of eyes will catch details that authors/creators will likely miss.

Systems Review
Review all of the digital and systems components of a campaign including email, landing pages, forms, segments, integrations and workflow.
1. Segmentation – make sure the correct segment is selected. A large database may take several minutes or hours to build the final segment. Do NOT execute a campaign until the segment build is fully complete.

2. Layout and Rendering Reviews – Use tools like Litmus to test how well emails and landing pages will render across platforms and devices. An HTML email that renders well in your personal email client may look atrocious on a mobile device. Different versions of MS Outlook are notorious for inconsistent email rendering.  TEST!

3. Asset Editorial Review – check all asset builds like email and landing pages to eliminate spelling and grammar errors.

4. Check HTML and Text email versions – Don’t count on your email or marketing automation platform to correctly compile a text email from an HTML version.

5. Test all links!

6. Test forms and landing pages – Do they redirect properly and serve the right content?

7. Test programs with a closed seed list to review rendering, readability, and link performance

8. FRESH EYES Review. Always get a fresh set of eyes to review the program.

These are general ideas to minimize the risk of errors to get toward 99.999% of error-free campaigns. What are some of the procedures you follow with your teams?

“How I Work”: Jeff Ogden, President of Find New Customers

Jeff Ogden avitar“How I Work” is one of my favorite recurring features in Inc Magazine as well as via Lifehacker’s This Is How I Work Series, and recently several sales experts (including  Anthony IannarinoDave Brock and Trish Bertuzzi) participated as well.

Periodically moving forward we will feature a new B2B sales, marketing or business leader here answering what have become the standard “How I Work” questions.  You can catch up on everyone we’ve featured thus far in the “How I Work” series here.

This week I’m excited to feature Jeff Ogden, president of Find New Customers.  Jeff has been a fixture in the B2B marketing community for several years, and we almost lost him earlier this year when he fell several feet in a warehouse and was in the hospital for 5 ½ months and in a coma for weeks. He was essentially a dead man for a long time with tubes all over his body.  We’re glad he’s back (worth reading his story of recovery and attitude on the Salesforce.com blog here), and reinvesting in the growth of his business from a new home base in Tampa, Florida.  Jeff, suffice it to say, gets stuff done.  Here, in his own words, is how he does it.

Location:  St. Petersburg, Florida – very cool town and quite warm all the time.

Current computers:  Very simple.  Acer laptop I will replace someday, but it’s pretty fast – so it is okay for now.

Current mobile devices: iPad Air and iPhone 5. I love the simplicity and elegance of Apple products.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?  ReadNotify.com lets me know (secretly) when people read my email.  I also use social media a lot and believe it is bigger than ever.  I use Twitter and LinkedIn a lot plus Facebook sometimes and I find if you just keep helping people, more and more people connect to you all the time – people connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter all day and all night and I now have over 2,700 LinkedIn connections and over 6,400 Twitter followers. The more 1st level LinkedIn contacts you have, the more see your updates.

Dashlane is a super tool for keeping track of logins and passwords.

To keep my routines, I read the New York Times and Wall St. Journal on my iPad every day. I also have Presentation Pro on my iPad, for the scripts for my videos, which I now do every month. Presentation Pro is teleprompter software.  I also use WordPress for my blog Fearless Competitor, which I publish often – six days a week.

What’s your workspace like?  Very simple.  A computer desk in a bedroom.  I stand all day because I don’t like to sit. Staying fit is very important to me.

What’s your best time-saving shortcut or lifehack?  I like IDoneThisToday.com.  Yes, it is bad English.  “I did this today” is the right way to say it.  Just hit reply and tell it what you did that day.  It keeps a log for you.  Very, very simple. That idea came from the New York Times best-selling author Daniel Pink, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing. He recommended it.

What everyday thing are you better at than anybody else?  That’s easy. I write an email on the weekend and work on it over and over till it is perfect! Once the wording is perfect, I turn on ReadNotify. Then I wait till a certain time of day (9:30am for the East Coast, 10:30am in Chicago and 1:30pm for the West Coast) before I hit send.  I have never had one not get read right away and I know precisely when they read it.  That process really works and I recommend it highly.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager?  Mostly I set up Tasks in Outlook.  It is very simple. I also use Salesforce, but it’s not as simple and easy as Outlook.

What do you listen to while at work?  I love music, especially rock n roll, but I only do that on the weekends.  Weekdays are for work only, except evenings, because like you I don’t want distractions. Fortunately, my Passat has a kickass sound system and I love to crank the tunes. My guilty pleasure is AC/DC! Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap gets cranked up really loud in my car.

What are you currently reading?  Brainfluence by Roger Dooley.  100 Ways to Influence Consumers with Neuromarketing.  Debunks lots of traditional theories, like fast forwarding through ads.  They are still recognized by most viewers, though most advertisers freak out.

What’s your sleep routine like?  I usually go to bed around 11pm and get up at 6:30am.  My alarm clock is my iPhone. I also go for a run each and every morning.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?  Always be helping. That has been my motto since I founded Find New Customers in 2005.

If your attitude is to keep helping people, more and more fans come to you all the time. And your network grows and grows.

Anything else you want to add?  The universe of marketing experts is a small group of really cool people.  I had a typo on a LinkedIn post and marketing expert Ruth Stevens helped me fix it.  I didn’t even ask for her help.  She contacted me.

I never take a chance with a marketing award. If someone contacts me about an award, that’s a priority for me. I get back in touch with them. If I get two questions about the future of marketing, I answer them. “Loved your answers, Jeff.” Marketing awards are the Good Housekeeping seal of marketing, in my mind.

A top priority for me is keynote speaking – I want to do more and more keynote speaking, because that’s a great way to promote your business.

I also have a tag line that I heard from a CMO years ago, but it is good and resonates with people all the time, so I used Henry DeVries ideas of R&D, which is rob and deploy marketing ideas. Find the best marketing ideas and use them yourself. “Marketing looks for Mr. Right.  Sales looks for Mr. Right Nows.” Sales needs Mr. Right Nows to close. That’s a great tagline.

Fill in the blank: I’d love to see __________ answer these questions.  Paul Dunay is a great friend of mine, so maybe he is a person to ask

Just suck it up and move on

keep_moving_forwardSomeone told me once that the only thing that matters, the only thing you need to worry about, is what you do right now.  The past is no longer relevant, and the future does not yet exist.

I believe reality is slightly more complicated than that.  You want to learn from the past, and plan for the future.  But neither of those mean much if you don’t effectively execute today.

What happened in the past certainly colors what you do today.  It might limit your options.  But you’re wasting even more time if you’re crying over spilled milk.

I’ll never forget a particular board meeting for a company I worked at years ago.  We had recently fired the CMO, and the founder (who was also chairman of the board) had spent the last five minutes complaining about decisions that CMO had made, how it had led to issues with results in the past quarter.  It was obvious he was still upset and emotional about it.

One of the company’s investors let him vent, then quietly responded by saying: “Well, if it would make you feel better, we could all go over to her house and fire her again.”

That comment broke the tension and immediately got the conversation re-focused on what needed to happen now.

Yes, you want to learn from the past.  Mistakes that were made.  Lessons learned both good and bad.  But none of that matters anymore.  What matters is what you do now.

We make mistakes all the time.  But I’m convinced that we’re measured not by those mistakes, but how we react to them.  How we respond.  What we do next.

What we do in the present colors and justifies what people think and how they now choose to act.

Learn and reflect, fine. But quickly after that, suck it up and move on.

 

Why Can’t I Write 500 Words?

writing quoteGuest Post by Nicole Williams, Marketing Coordinator, Heinz Marketing, Inc.

I’ve talked with a lot of marketers about writing, and many of them tell me the same thing: it’s like pulling teeth. It doesn’t get done. There’s just never the time or the priority for sitting down and writing something they can be happy with. These are all smart, capable people. They’re efficient and driven. So what is it about writing (even a short post) that makes us so frustrated–or break out into a cold sweat?

It’s because writing is different. Writing is a creative endeavor, and most of us tend to have a warped view of creativity: You wait for the inspiration to come, and the right idea will hit you, like a lightning bolt. When it’s good, it’ll just feel right–all the really good ideas just come effortlessly out of the ether.

And when that doesn’t happen to us, we get frustrated and give up.

But ask anyone who has made a creative endeavor their occupation, and they will tell you that producing creative work is much more about discipline, hard work, and repetition than getting hit over the head with your next idea.

It’s like athletic training. It’s like rehearsing. The repetition and discipline is necessary –even if those things aren’t what we would normally associate with creativity. As a creative, you’re going to produce a lot of terrible material before you produce something that’s pretty good. And then you’ll keep producing terrible and pretty good stuff until you start to make great work. Even then, that still doesn’t mean you’re creating great work all the time. Most of it’s still pretty terrible. I was (and still am) an illustrator and designer when I was in college, and one of the most memorable things one of my professors told us was “the secret to being a respected artist is consistently making a lot of bad images and showing the world only your best.”

So what does that mean? Being creative means working hard. It means reading, it means writing lots of terrible drafts, it means sitting down whether we feel like it or not and cranking out those words. It means developing the muscles of discipline to practice that craft every day and then sticking with the process. When we do that, we’re enabling the creative part –the fun part—to take place within the routine. Not as a lightning bolt, but piece by piece, through mastery of a skill.

Need a little inspiration? The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield is a great first step.

What are B2B marketers anticipating in 2015?

B2B-Marketing-Trends-for-2015As we all look forward to 2015, we wanted to collect thoughts and feedback on priorities, plans, and opinions about the B2B marketing efforts in the new year at your company as well as leading B2B companies nationwide.

Take the survey!

We’d appreciate a few minutes of your time to complete this survey, and you’ll have the option at the end to enter a drawing for one of our $50 Amazon.com gift cards as a thank you for your responses.

We are interested in understanding how your budget may be changing, how you measure marketing success, and what the marketing priorities are at your company headed into the new year.

We will be presenting the results in an upcoming webinar so keep an eye out for those details.  You’ll also get a copy of the final survey results when they are compiled.

Take the survey!

Brian’s App of the Week: Highspot

appoftheweek-300x284By Brian Hansford, director of client services and marketing automation practice lead for Heinz Marketing

This is the latest in a series of weekend posts highlighting a wide variety of applications we think are pretty cool. Most have to do with sales, marketing and productivity. Check out past featured apps here.

Content marketers and the platforms they typically use are heavily focused on filling the top of the funnel with early stage leads. However, when Marketing moves a lead to Sales, the level of content engagement is much harder to support and measure, commonly referred to as Sales Enablement. This is why I am very bullish on the solution from Highspot.

Highspot provides sales engagement software that improves the way companies engage with customers. They address three problems for sales and marketing organizations:

1. Sellers Don’t Have The Right Content
Your sales team should be connected to exactly the content they need – relevant, engaging, tailored to the current opportunity, and proven to be effective in moving the deal forward. What really happens is that content is scattered across multiple internal portals, Dropbox and Box directories, and on their disk drives.

2. Customer Engagement is Invisible
You sent three attachments to your customer, and you hope that it was what they wanted to see. Did they open it? Spend any time on it? Which part of that sales deck really interested them? You have no idea – once you ship it off, you are flying blind.

3. Marketing Can’t Tell What Works
The marketing team is constantly producing content for the sales team (white papers, data sheets, case studies, etc.) but lacks any visibility to what works, what is effective, and what is needed so there is no feedback loop in place whatsoever.

Highspot makes sure that each sales rep has the most relevant content for each situation, with presentation flexibility, and deliver real-time visibility to sales and marketing leaders into how customers are engaging with that content.

Highspot’s platform closes the content loop across marketing, sales, and the customer and includes:

A sales pitch service that lets you present directly to customers and track their engagement. Sellers are alerted the moment a prospect clicks through to look at any of the content, and the parts they read.

Sales playbooks show each seller carefully targeted content based on the opportunity they are working on. This is particularly valuable in a more prescribed selling environment. The Highspot playbook highlights exactly the items that a seller is most likely to need, with content scored based on how effectively it has performed in previous deals. Playbook content can appear as part of the opportunity inside your CRM system (Salesforce.com currently), so that sellers don’t have to hunt around for it.

I really like the engagement analytics for every step of the sales cycle. Know the items that the sales team is looking at and what they are ignoring. See what gets pitched to customers, whether it engages their interest, and which content influences the deals that close.

For more information visit: www.highspot.com

B2B Reads: lessons learned & why we don’t listen

best-blogsIn addition to our Sunday App of the Week feature, we also summarize some of our favorite B2B sales & marketing posts from around the Web each week. We’ll miss a ton of great stuff, so if you found something you think is worth sharing please add it to the comments below.

In the meantime, here’s some of what we’re reading:

4 lessons learned after one year as an inside sales manager
In sales, just like in any other business, the learning never stops. Here are some great sales lessons Kim Staib has learned on her journey as an Inside Sales Manager.

Successful innovators don’t care about innovating
That’s a play on words. If innovators don’t care about innovating, what do they care about? The most successful innovators care about solving interesting and important problems. Great point Doug Sundheim.

What makes these crazy entrepreneurs tick?
Every entrepreneur has a different story, but most have the same goal in mind that helps drive their fire. Here are some examples of great ambition that’s been made into a successful reality. Great article Ashwin Satyanarayana.

7 qualities of a great sales negotiator
Being a great negotiator is a craft that can be learned by just about anyone. However, there are certain skills that need to be mastered. Great advice Mike Schultz.

5 rules for using social selling to crush quotas and build your social funnel
Utilizing social selling can increase your sale quota by 51% according to Jill Konrath. Why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of that? Great tips Jack Kosakowski!

Your creativity might be stifled by your expertise
It’s great to say you are an expert at something, but is that holding you back? Innovating means finding that element of newness. Being an expert could hinder that. Great article David Van Rooy.

40 questions to ask yourself before publishing your next blog post
Content marketing is a beautiful thing because it can bring you so many new viewers in a matter of minutes. But, it has to be great content and the content marketing has to be done right. Thanks for the checklist, Neil Patel.

How to fix a broken hiring process
As your revenue grows, your company needs to grow too. Don’t rush the process because of desperation. What are some of the mistakes that hiring managers make? Good stuff Andrew Urteaga.

The truth about why we don’t listen
Every leader knows we’re supposed to actively listen. But, a lot of the time, this simple act gets forgotten and ignored. How can we listen better? Thanks Deb Calvert.

Why 2015 Should Be the Year You Finally Do Your Strategic Plan

posey-headshot_smGuest Post by Laura Posey

As a strategic planning consultant, I hear a lot of reasons business owners don’t want to spend time creating plans for their companies.

The most popular excuses are “It takes too long”, ”I don’t have time” and “What good is a plan anyway? It will just sit on the shelf collecting dust”.

Have you ever heard yourself using these as reasons not to do your own strategic plan?

The fact is, truly successful companies have a plan for what they want and how they are going to get it. Planning doesn’t have to be hard and it doesn’t have to take a week to do.

Here are seven great reasons to carve out a few minutes for strategic planning right now:

  1. Without a strategic plan, you will have no idea whether the money you are spending on your business is going in the right places or the wrong places. When you look back on your spending, don’t you have a trail of money that you spend on things that looked like a good idea at the time, but were, in fact, just wasted? Don’t throw away any more money that could be going into your pocket!
  2. Planning now allows you to relax and simply execute the rest of the year. If you spend a little time now on the plan, you can ensure that you will make progress on your goals each and every day. Think of a strategic plan like a blueprint. Once you draw it up, your team can go to work building the business you envision.
  3. Without a plan you won’t know if you are doing the right things or the wrong things to be successful. Just as you’ve wasted money on the wrong projects, you have also wasted your valuable time as well. Put a stop to that waste this year.
  4. Without a plan you can never complete your work because you don’t know where the beginning and end are. With a plan, you can parse out the work for each week and everyone can go home on the weekend confident they completed the right tasks to move the company towards its goals.
  5. Without a plan, no one else can help you reach your goals. You are stuck doing it alone. With a plan, your team knows exactly where you are headed and what their role in getting there is.
  6. People who write down their goals and plans to achieve them earn, on average, three times more than others who don’t plan. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take every advantage I can get.
  7. Having a plan will inspire you to accomplish the things that are important to you. Whenever you feel your energy flagging, you can refer to your plan for a boost of energy. My clients spend just 6 minutes a week with their plans and typically accomplish their 10-year goals in just 3-5 years.

Creating a strategic plan doesn’t have to be hard or complicated. In fact, you can do it all on just one sheet of paper in an hour. The key components are your values, vision, long- and short-term goals, key areas of focus for the year, key metrics and an annual theme.

If you’d like to join us for a free 30-minute webinar I will show you each step of the planning process and how to summarize it all on one page, I’d love to show you how easy it is to dramatically change your results.

Laura Posey is Chief Instigator of Dancing Elephants Achievement Group and founder of MySimplePlans.com. Her driving passion is to help business owners earn more in less time so they can use their talents to radically improve the world. She can be reached via www.dancing-elephants.com and www.mysimpleplans.com.

 

“How I Work”: Mark Roberge, Chief Revenue Officer – HubSpot Sales Division

Mark Roberge“How I Work” is one of my favorite recurring features in Inc Magazine as well as via Lifehacker’s This Is How I Work Series, and recently several sales experts (including  Anthony IannarinoDave Brock and Trish Bertuzzi) participated as well.

Periodically moving forward we will feature a new B2B sales, marketing or business leader here answering what have become the standard “How I Work” questions.  You can catch up on everyone we’ve featured thus far in the “How I Work” series here.

This week I’m excited to feature Mark Roberge, Chief Revenue Officer – HubSpot Sales Division.  Their incredible growth, recently successful IPO, and fast-moving sales team are all indicators of how much Mark gets done.  His sales team is viewed within the industry as a benchmark and role model for others to emulate.  And he’s also quite generous and open about what’s working (and what’s not) on the speaking circuit for sales & marketing conferences around the country.

Suffice it to say, Mark gets stuff done.  Here, in his own words, is how he does it (editor’s note: this version of “How I Work” is longer and more conversational than most.  We did it via phone during Mark’s commute home a couple weeks ago, so this is an edited transcript of that recorded conversation).

Location:  Boston, Mass.

Current computers:  IBM, PC.

Current mobile devices:  iPhone 5S

What apps/software or tools can’t you live without?  Run Keeper. I’m an avid runner. I like Skitcher because I do a lot of commuting and it’s a way for me to get up-to-speed with the news without having to read. I can just listen. I’m a pretty traditional Gmail calendar guy. Another one I’ve been using is a contact management system out of the UK, Ever Contact.  Every day it crawls your email and it adds contacts directly to your Gmail and iPhone from the email signature. It’s beautiful because I get a flurry of stuff. How many times have you emailed me? And I’ve never updated you as a contact.  But now I have your mobile phone; I just called you because of Ever Contact because at some point you emailed me … it’s beautiful. “Hey Mark, you should meet Ralph, he does work at so and so.” And Ralph writes back, “Yeah, sure Ralph. Can you schedule a call with Violetta?” And two days later when I have my call with Ralph I have his cell phone in my phone because he sent me an email with his signature. Plus you’re automatically building all those contacts, so that’s great. Obviously my mobile Gmail and mobile calendar is key for me, and then HubSpot I do all my social media through the mobile app. And then Side Kick, which is our former signals product for emails.

What is your work environment like?:  I don’t have a desk–which I don’t want. For me a desk means maintenance. If I had a desk I’d need to have one of those digital photo things of my kids which means I’d have to update every three months so my kids actually look updated. And I’d need one of those little calendar blocks with the day and the date and the month and I’ve have to turn it every day just to say I’m updated. I keep my laptop and my notebook in a corner. I walk in. I grab it if I need it and I go to my meetings and if I have alone time or independent time where I’m just going to crank, we have plenty of individual space where I can crank on things. So my workspace at HubSpot is our 30,000 square foot office. I use a big chunk of it and probably all the coffee shops and restaurants around it.  Very virtual.

What are some unique things you’ve done from a time management or productivity standpoint?:  Yeah, so let me just give you my rant. When I was in 10th grade I read a biography on Ben Franklin and there was one thing that stuck with me that I never knew I’d do for my life, but I have. Before he went to bed at night he wrote down everything he did that day, hour by hour, and everything he planned to do tomorrow, hour by hour and I’ve done that my entire life since.  Literally, whenever that was (the 80’s), I had a literally had a little pad on my bed and I’d write it all down– did that straight through college. At some point through the years I stopped writing down what I did–Even though it was very interesting to reflect on was I productive that day?  I was able to process the day and think about what I learned. But I’ve never given up on what I’m going to do the next day. It’s so valuable to be able to plan out that time and it relieves stress to know you have these four things to do and you’ve actually visualized and analyzed that you have time to do it. And then at 10 AM you know if you’re on pace to get done what you need to get done in a day. It’s just comforting.  I’ve transitioned that to a monster Excel document. I should probably try to upgrade it to an EverNote or a Google doc spreadsheet or something else but I just can’t. I can’t get over putting it in the cloud right now because God forbid I don’t have access. I need access to this thing. That’s why I call it My To Do’s Excel Document. And literally there’s 150 things there. Everything from strategically what I’m trying to get done at work tomorrow to my wife’s birthday to sending out the email for my kids’ football coaching thing. It’s got everything. My life is in there.  I go into this document probably three times a day and definitely every night before I shut down and ask myself what was I supposed to get done today?  and did I do it?. And all my one-on-ones with my guys are in there so if I’m in one meeting with a guy and something comes up with another person who reports to me, I just go into My To-Do’s list for that person and read the comments on what I should be reviewing. And every night I just update what I did today and what do I have to do tomorrow? and push tasks off or finish them. So that’s a pretty regimented process.

I’ve extended it out to be done on a monthly basis so what I do on the 20th of every month is I look at the next month and I think a little bit more long term at this point. I block out everything I need to get done in that next month on the 20th of the prior month.  I’ll have a goal, like working on the positioning of this new product, so I want to have a weekly meeting and film review with that team, all week, all month because that’s such a critical piece right now. So I’ll block that in.  And then I’ll have my weekly one-on-one’s on my direct reports and I block those in. Whatever strategically I’m doing, I’m blocking out time. We’re doing annual planning so I have a big presentation in three weeks to the whole senior management team so I want to have three, four blocks plus reviews with different people and I’ll just visualize it and block it all out and everyone complains at HubSpot that it’s so hard to get in my calendar and I’m just like yeah, it is, because I’m working on the stuff that’s important to me and my role and my contribution to the company. I’ll ask them, “What ’you got?” And if it’s mission critical, great I will move it around. I don’t need to do that one-on-one tomorrow. I’ll move it. Listen, I’ll stay up till 11 PM and do my strategy review then because what you have is mission critical. But if it’s not, then hey, fine. I’m free in two weeks. Let’s throw something on the calendar. So that process makes sure I’m proactively managing my role and my day and my month and not just reacting to whatever the haphazard demands of the company and the outside world are on my time.

I’d just be lost, man. I wouldn’t know what to do. Seriously if my To-Do document got deleted, which is almost impossible because obviously I rely on Dropbox and I’ve got it on three different computers. I would be fucked dude. I really don’t know when my parents’ anniversary is. You know what I’m saying?   I would be screwed. I would be so screwed.  I think that’s really what it does is buy you memory capacity and frees up brain CPU in a way. A lot of people have to expend general brainpower remembering all this stuff. I put it in place and it maximizes CPU like what I’m thinking about and what I need to be focused on.

Do you listen to anything at work? No, not at work.  And really, I’m just easily distracted. So, even when I’m doing work at home going through e-mails I don’t listen to music unless I’m driving.  I just took up the guitar the last year so I’ve just been listening to a bunch of different things and I listen to AC/DC when I’m running religiously but not when I’m just cranking away.

What are you currently reading?  I spent a lot of time writing a book this summer. I wrote, The Sales Acceleration Formula: Building a HubSpot Sales Team. That consumed a lot of my literary free time. I’m about to read Jill Konrath’s new book, Agile Selling. I’ve got a vacation coming up in a few weeks and I want to read the new book on how Google works by the founders.

What’s your sleep routine look like?  Not enough. I’m a night owl so I rarely go to bed before 1 AM. Some mornings I’m up at 6:30 and other mornings I sleep in ‘till like 8 or so to miss the traffic. I can survive many days in a row on four or five hours of sleep as long as I can get a seven or eight-hour in once or twice a week.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?  That’s a tough one.  I don’t know where I picked it up. But one of the philosophies, wherever it was, I think I read it in a book or it was a combination of different things is– Just appreciating who I am as a unique individual; really trying to reflect on that and using that to drive making the world a better place. I think all too often people are obsessed with society’s perception of them or the hot thing of the week.

I always think about going through business school and it was like five years before I was doing it everyone was starting companies and then when I was going through everyone was going into banking and consulting because start-ups dried up. And then five years because dried up later banking died so everyone was doing like these jobs. When you follow the herd it’s an uphill battle and you don’t stand out versus if you can really just understand why you’re unique and turn over rocks that aren’t being turned over. I think amazing things happen. So that’s just a philosophy I live by.

Fill in the blank: I’d love to see _____ answer these questions.  Richard Branson. I’m a passion entrepreneur and his style resonates the most with me. I like the way he does things.

A proven homework assignment for inside sales candidates

Homework-9This is one of my favorite ways to separate the good from not-as-good inside sales candidates we see on a regular basis.

Interviews are great but aren’t anywhere near the typical environment in which those sales professionals are going to help you make money.  Past experience and performance is nice but doesn’t always cleanly translate to a new company, new industry, new internal and external selling environment, etc.

I want to see that inside sales candidate in action.  So what we often do is ask them to pitch us. On our product.

Basically, we ask them to take what they find on the Web site and convert that into a voicemail script and email template.  I then ask them to use them on us (or on the hiring manager at the company we’re working with).  That literally means leaving us a voicemail and sending the follow-up email.

I’m curious to see a number of things with this short homework assignment.

How long did it take them to turn it around after the interview? How long was the voicemail?  Was it product focused or customer focused?  Did the email come first or the voicemail first?

I’ve found that evaluating these homework assignments against general best practices has been a very consistent leading indicator of whether those reps will be effective in communicating, convincing and converting more prospects into qualified opportunities.

Curious if you’ve had experience or success with something similar.  If you ask sales candidates to do some other type of “homework assignment”, please share in the comments below.