Matt’s App of the Week: FastBar

appoftheweek-300x284I’ve been dying to write about these guys since I saw them present at the 9Mile Labs Demo Day late last year.

Let’s say you’re hosting an event, party or conference that includes a cash bar.  The WORST part of the cash bar isn’t necessarily waiting in line for your drink, but having to fumble for your credit card or more cash every time you need a refill.  It’s annoying, takes more time, slows down the line, etc.

Wouldn’t it be easier if you could supply your credit card at registration, and just pay as you go with a wristband that’s swiped at the bar for each new drink?

That’s exactly what FastBar does.  I experienced it first-hand at an event last fall.  Very smooth, drink lines went twice as fast as usual (when they existed at all, it was that much faster).  Could work for food orders, silent auctions, pretty much anything that requires payment multiple times at a single event.

Worth checking out.

B2B Reads: football, clarity & who’s Phil Walton?

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:

13 content marketing strategies every business must implement to boost conversion rates
With traditional forms of advertising taking a backseat, more business are relying on digital marketing strategies. How’s your content marketing strategy going? Great tips from Tech Cocktail!

What football coaches can teach CEOs
Running a football team and running a boardroom aren’t very different. You’re ultimately responsible for the success or failure, and have to balance the needs of multiple people. What other similarities do you see? Great article from the editorial staff at Business.com!

13 questions that eliminate clutter and create clarity
Let’s make 2015 a year of clarity and organization in business and in our daily lives. How will this translate to our leadership potential? Great tips, Dan Rockwell.

Do great leaders focus on people or results?
When you’re looking to make progress, are you focused on increasing or meeting your numbers? Or, are you focused on keeping happy employees so your employees are actually excited to come to work? Interesting perspective, John Spence.

5 really smart social things a guy named Phil Walton does and you can too
What are the 5 really smart, cool things Phil Walton does? And, to make this even better, no one even asked him anything. These things were all learned from his practices using Twitter and his blog. Great article, Marshall Kirkpatrick!

6 ways to attract more LinkedIn leads
How well are you using LinkedIn to generate more leads? Here are 6 great ways to attract more leads and how you can contribute to their success. Good stuff, Kristina Jaramillo.

Should B2B sales people prospect?
Generally, sales people have been responsible for both prospecting and closing. If sales people didn’t prospect, would this open up more opportunities for success? Great stuff, George Brontén.

6 new roles smart CMOs will take on in 2015
It is clear that corporate marketing functions are evolving and becoming some of the most strategic functions in a business. What will happen with CMOs this year? Interesting point, Stephanie Overby.

How our brain determines if the product is worth the price
When you go shopping, what major questions are you thinking before you purchase a product? How does price play a factor? Here are some interesting insights into our brains before purchasing a product. Thanks, Carmen Nobel.

3 questions every marketing campaign and sales pitch must answer
Between marketing and sales, there’s always been a push and pull relationship. Sales and marketing teams have been growing closer each year. Here are 3 questions that each team can use together simultaneously. Great stuff, Jason Rushin.

If I had to start from scratch today…

press-start…what would I focus on?  What would I do on a regular basis to ensure (or at least increase the likelihood of) success from the get-go?

When I look back at six-plus years in business, there’s plenty I’m proud of.  Plenty more I wish I had done more of, things I wish I’d done earlier, etc.

I’ve had numerous friends, peers, customers and prospects ponder stepping out on their own.  Every time it takes me back to this very question – if I were to start from scratch again tomorrow, what would I prioritize?

At minimum, it would be these five things:

1. Sales & prospecting discipline
Nothing happens until you sell something.  That starts from day one.  Actually, it should start before day one if you want billings or revenue right away.  But even if you’re building something for sale in your early days, a discipline of regular sales management, prospecting, following up with your target accounts – that’s a requirement for growing a successful business in any field or industry.  There is no such thing as “build it and they will come.”  If you want to predictably hit your number, if you want consistent revenue, this is a must-have.

2. Content frequency & focus
I was three years into my business before I started blogging every day.  I wish I had started doing that sooner.  And although some of the best blogs I read clearly follow a serendipitous editorial route, I highly recommend focusing the majority of content on the topics, keywords, pain points and problems that your target audience focuses on regularly.  This will help attract the right prospects to you, and help them understand how well you already understand their issues.

3. Narrow networking
Know the people you want to know, and go after them.  Prioritize networking at events, conferences, social networks and more where they particularly congregate.  Some of my earliest professional networking (when it was still just me, a laptop and a bus pass) was at events where the overlap between my target and the circulating audience was very low.  Great people, good networking, but minimal business development value.  While it’s true that you never know which relationships will eventually turn into business (directly or indirectly), there’s a ton of value in being premeditated about focused, precise networking execution.

4. Mentors & advisors
I’m incredibly lucky to be part of EO (Entrepreneur Network)  in Seattle for the past two years, which has provided an unparalleled experience learning from other business owners who have been there (and mostly still are there).  I wish I would have been more proactive and formal about identifying and engaging mentors and advisors on a regular basis early on.  Sure, I did this with a handful of people I truly respected and trusted.  I should have just done it more often.

5. Productivity & focus discipline
I’m a productivity nut, but that hasn’t kept me from focusing on the wrong things too often.  This includes not just how I manage my day, calendar and email.  It’s also how effectively I’m staying focused on the right work. The right initiatives.  The most urgent AND important priorities for the day, month and year.  I’ve learned if nothing else that focus is fleeting.  It takes constant vigilance.

If I had to start from scratch tomorrow, these five focus areas would be my foundation.  How about you?

“How I Work”: Gary Palgon, VP Sales & Marketing at Liaison Technologies

Gar Palgon“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 Gary Palgon, VP Sales & Marketing at Liaison Technologies.  Gary is in charge of strategy for the Liaison with a special interest in healthcare, security and cloud computing. He is very respected as a leader and a talented and engaging communicator, both in writing and in speaking.  Gary has a passion for family tree research and gives back with his time at Camp Sunshine to help children with cancer.  Read his LinkedIn recommendations and among many things, you’ll notice he’s admired for his extreme efficiency, resourcefulness, and his mastery of productivity.  Here in his own words is how he gets things done:

Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Current computers: HP Windows 7 at work and Dell Windows 8 at home; Ctrl-Alt-Delete in both places!

Current mobile devices: Android phone; iPad and Fitbit

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? I love using Google Search with voice commands on my phone. I save notes, search for things, ask it to dial people for me and start there for navigation. I use Waze for real-time navigation as it works much better than anything out there, BUT you must be careful that you don’t look at it while you’re driving.  And I’m a fan of Facebook, but I’m sure I could live without it if I had to.

What’s your workspace like? A nice-sized, window office with a large whiteboard and two guest chairs. There are a few pictures on the walls including my family, a “family tree” of Atlanta technology companies and one of Camp Sunshine, a camp where I volunteer every summer for kids with cancer. My desk is usually well organized with papers neatly categorized in folders and stacks. The door is usually open and it’s been trashed, I mean decorated, on my birthday multiple times.

What’s your best time-saving shortcut or lifehack? Lookeen for searching through years of Outlook emails for contacts, information and documents – just enter a name or a word and “poof”, there’s a list of contacts, emails, attachments, etc. to choose from which can be further filtered.  It’s great to see the face of someone watching how fast I can pull up what they are looking for.  Also, LinkPoint360 for email integration with SalesForce – with a single click from an email, it automatically creates accounts, contacts or records emails and documents within SalesForce, saving lots of time and setting an example for my sales teams of what they should be doing.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager? I have both electronic and old-fashioned to-do list. I’m driven by my email Inboxes at home and work along with email or document printouts of actions to be taken, usually accompanied by a folder with supporting information about what needs to get done. When I think of something that needs to get done and I’m not at my desk, I usually make a note in email using Google Search voice commands as noted above so I don’t forget. And a Post-it Note here and there solves the rest of my to-dos. Some people call me a “tree killer” for printing out lots of stuff, but it’s highly efficient when I go to a folder and everything I need is right in front of me, usually highlighted from some prior research and/or notes.

What are you currently reading? I do a ton of reading, though most of it is non-fiction and either related to business or genealogy, a long-time hobby of mine.  I’m currently reading Big Data: Demystified, not because I don’t understand Big Data, but rather because it’s required reading for our 2015 Sales Kickoff and I have to come up with the quiz questions. I’m also in the middle of an oldie, but goodie, The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt, which is in it’s fourth edition since first being issued in 1984!

What’s your sleep routine like? I rarely ever sleep late, whether it’s during the week or on the weekend, no matter what time I go to bed. Then again, I’m not afraid to power nap so I can stay up late working on projects – and every once in a while I come across an article that lists the benefits of power naps and I just believe I was ahead of the trend.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? When my kids were young, a guy at my old gym told me, “You only have 18 years to raise your kids, exposing them to your values and beliefs, so make them count. When they become teenagers, you’ll never know what kind of mood they will be in and/or when they will feel like having a conversation with you – so the best thing you can do is to be available to them, whether it’s in the morning before they go to school or when they come home and are just hanging out – make yourself available to them so you can engage when they are ready to talk.”  One of my kids is in college and the other in high school and I make myself available to talk, text, Snapchat or whatever, whenever.

Fill in the Blank: I’d love to see Elon Musk answer these questions.

Six roles you need to succeed with B2B content marketing

sixrolesAs the function and importance of content marketing increases for B2B companies, organization of that effort has picked up speed as well.  Many companies are developing entire, internal “newsrooms” that effectively mimic the organization, cadence and efficiency of professional journalism environments.

But today’s B2B content marketing needs so much more than that.  It happens faster, and requires far more work post-publication to maximize impact, conversion and shelf-life.

To be successful in content marketing, you need at minimum six roles.  These roles don’t need to be owned by five distinct people.  In some cases, one person may own multiple roles.  In other cases, roles might be managed by multiple people.

But no matter how you organize and execute, make sure these functions are understood and filled.

Voice of the Customer
It’s near impossible to create an effective content marketing program without injecting every level of effort with your customer’s point of view.  This includes up-front input into your editorial calendar, an understanding of what formats & channels your target customers prefer, as well as real-time feedback on published content as well as reactive content production & participation opportunities.  This role can be filled by a network of customers directly, by regular input from your customer-facing employees, or by a liaison in marketing (perhaps your product planners, research directors or otherwise) who provides feedback, reaction and input early and often.

Strategist
Someone needs to develop, manage and optimize the content program overall.  What are our objectives? How are we measuring immediate results and long-term success? How do our efforts tie into the broader business goals, and how do we integrate our work into that of the rest of marketing, sales, customer service, account management, etc.?  This role develops the up-front plan and ensures alignment against goals moving forward.

Managing Editor
This role translates the customer insight and objectives into an editorial calendar that directs premeditated, near-term content development and accounts for immediate, real-time reactive content opportunities.  This role manages the overall editorial tone, output and direction of the content.  It’s a hybrid role really, strategic and tactical but focused on delivering results and output that realize the objectives and vision of the Strategist.

Traffic Coordinator
What’s due when? What is the production, review and publication process?  What happens when? This is a purely and critically important operational role to ensure everything is done on time, published on time, and executed as efficiently as possible.

Producer(s)
Simply put, this role creates the content.  Even with a small content marketing effort, this role is typically played by multiple contributors – writers, videographers, designers, etc.

Amplifier
You know what they say about the tree falling in a forest with nobody around.  This role is all about traffic.  Eyeballs.  Both immediate and ongoing.  Too often, companies publish something and drive traffic that day, then move onto the next piece of content without cycling through older but still relevant content on a regular basis.  Amplifiers are responsible for increasing the initial “bump” of traffic for new content but continuing to expand the long-term shelf life and impact of the entire library.

Curious if these roles match how your organization is executing.  What roles are you missing?  What critical roles am I missing in this outline?

The difference between service & experience

dynomite-1310624041Service resolves an issue, addresses a need, delivers the result you expected in the first place.

Experience goes beyond.  It creates lasting impressions, shareable moments, lifetime reminders.

Both are important components of managing customer relationships.  They can be impressively good, or decisively bad.

Neither is exclusive to paying customers.  You can deliver great service to prospects, and lasting experiences to just about anybody (both those who can eventually pay you, and those that will impact others).

Service is what customers expect.  Experiences are what they discover, unexpected, lingering, sustainable – in good ways and bad.

Are you delivering great service, or creating lasting experiences?

 

4 Reasons to Forget “Talking-Head” Sales Training

Enjoy the following excerpt from the 15 in 2015 Inside Sales Trend Report provided by Josiane Chriqui Feigon -President, TeleSmart and author of Smart Sales Manager and Smart Selling on the Phone and Online

I regularly get requests for a one-hour training. But what I’m realizing is that it’s not the length of the training, but how it is delivered. As I continue to tailor my TeleSmart training to meet the needs of millennials, I reference the psychologists and educators who are tailoring educational systems for maximum impact in this new generation.

millennials

Millennials are currently flooding inside sales organizations, and their numbers aren’t going to be reduced. They come in a broad range of work personality types: some are uber-professional superstars with high leadership potential, while others treat the office like a dorm, walk around with their wrecking balls, and have extremely short attention spans.

The challenge of ramping them up and doing the knowledge transfer is big. Since many of them don’t want anyone telling them what to do, any type of training that involves a talking head or an authority figure is not well received.

Here are some of the issues:

Millennials Don’t Trust Authoritytalking heads
Millennials approach education and professional training as a “transaction.” They won’t buy into without a clear understanding of what it’s going to give them. Further, Pew Research revealed that most millennials are less trusting of others, especially authority, than previous generations.

Connect your training lessons to real life (and current culture) to communicate the timely value and relevance of what you’re delivering and be sure to clearly highlight the most valuable takeaways from the training.

Millennials Defy Hierarchy
The same study shows that millennials prefer a less formal learning environment that allows them to interact informally with the instructor and their peers. A recent LinkedIn internal study reported that 1 in 3 millennials have texted their boss outside of work for a non-work-related issue compared to only 10% of the boomer generation. Growing up in a more child-centered society, many millennials find hierarchical relationships to be uncomfortable or foreign.

Open your training up to more direct contact in and around the learning sessions.

peer to peer meeting swingUtilize Strategic Peer-to-Peer Learning
Millennials really respond best to learning from peers, even if their peers have no idea what they are talking about.  Beware that these peers may do an incorrect knowledge transfer, so stay tuned with the leadership, professional types.

Millennials Crave Variety
According to a Dalton State College study, millennial culture has been “inundated with multimedia,” making millennials “huge multitaskers.” Millennials won’t hold their attention on one type of instruction, much less one talking-head. The study advised ….

Introduce more variety when teaching millennials—incorporating videos, social media, television, and other sources that help them stay engaged.

Millennials Admire Honest but Tough Professionalism
As much as you want to be hip and cool with your millennials,  you might not be “cool enough.” And the coolness factor is short-lived anyway. Try going to the opposite extreme to win the attention and support of the more professional millennials who are there to learn—your potential superstars—and who are as annoyed as you are with the wrecking crew.

Be the cool professional, strict and smart with a take-no-prisoners attitude. Let them know that you expect great things from them, and you just might get their attention!

There’s never a dull moment in the inside sales world. This rapidly changing profession is exploding today, so how do you keep up, staff up, and prepare for the coming year?

Our trend report is 100% accurate – loaded with advice on tactics, tools and talent.

15 in 2015 Smart Inside Sales Trends Download the 15 in 2015 Inside Sales Trend Report here

Matt’s App of the Week: Songza

appoftheweek-300x284What kind of music are you in the mood for?

Pandora is great for finding music related to an artist you like.  SiriusXM and “terrestrial” radio focus on genre.

Songza gives you music by context.

Working but don’t want lyrics?  Check.

Having a dinner party? Check.

You get the idea.  I love discovering new music and this is one of the best services I’ve found to do that.

Worth checking out.

B2B Reads: checklists, scorecards & Singer’s paradox

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:

How sales ops makes the number next year
Strategic leaders have identified 6 key shifts in sales operations that will impact 2015. What are they? Great insight, John Kearney.

14 checklists, scorecards, and worksheets to set up content marketing success
2014 was the year for content marketing. Now, how can we make 2015 even better? Good tips, Michele Linn.

No one cares what you have to say about yourself: Why marketing plans need customer advocacy more than ever
Customer-based stories, events, and experiences are the solution to your problems. Stop focusing on yourself and focus on them. Great stuff, Megan Heuer!

9 resolutions for sales managers
Sales managers are in a great leadership role. Are you leading rather than micro-managing or commanding? Great tips, Anthony Iannarino!

10 B2B marketing tips from the best B2C ads
B2B marketing is nothing like B2C marketing. However, there are still many lessons that each can learn from one another. Interesting approach, Janice Bowen!

The power of a sales bucket list
Where do you want to be as a salesperson? Maybe you should start a sales bucket list to keep your goals on track. Good stuff, Tom Searcy.

Cutting through Singer’s paradox
Interesting take on Peter Singer’s paradox. Really gets you thinking about solving problems in the long term versus the short term. Good point, Seth Godin.

How Google works [infographic]
Don’t you ever think about how Google is able to give you the exact answer that you want? There’s a lot more to Google than you might think. Good stuff, Ginny Soskey.

How to keep your readers on your blog longer
In an ideal world, people would spend hours reading and sifting through your blog. But, realistically, that just doesn’t happen. Great tips to get your readers to stay longer, Neil Patel!

Content marketing: New focus maybe, but NOT a new concept

CommonsenseI feel like I haven’t had a good rant in a while.  This might count as one.

Content marketing may be the belle of the ball for marketing organizations right now, but it’s not exactly a new concept.  For example, I heard just a couple days ago from someone who claimed to have “originated” the term content marketing 15 years ago.  Seriously.

We think today about content marketing as blogs, white papers, best practice guides, multi-media but mostly digital assets.  All that is fine.  But please, let’s not pretend this is just 15 years old.

Good content serves the entire buying process, of course.  Historically most companies have created content for the middle and bottom of the sales funnel, meaning content that speaks to the product or services, highlights features and benefits, etc.  As more buyers do their own research at the beginning of their buying journey, smart marketers are increasing the volume & quality of content that speaks to prospects earlier and earlier.

The right topics at the beginning aren’t about your company, product or service at all of course.  SiriusDecisions smartly defines the first two stages of the buying cycle typically as 1) Challenging the status quo, and 2) Committing to change.  Neither of those require any knowledge, insight, interest or inquiry into a particular product or service.

They merely create motivation, urgency, to do something different to change or improve a particular outcome.

Content has been challenging status quos for hundreds and hundreds of years.  Think Martin Luther and his 95 Theses.  Thomas Paine and Common Sense.  I can go on and on.

In fact, these older and highly successful examples of “early pipeline” content marketing can probably teach us quite a bit about what could still work today – regardless of format or media type.

</rant>