Have you enabled your sales team this holiday season?


A recent study by Adobe hints that online shopping will see a significant rise this year. It goes on to state that 31% of online sales will be generated via smartphones and tablets, up from 21% in 2013.


Over the last year, online shopping has received a major boost owing to a number of retailers working hard on their big data and personalization techniques. The giants have always been doing this, and now smaller retailers have joined in.


How are you going to sell better this season?


An all-round analytical view of the data you are collecting is going to be the source of change for you this year. For example, it can help you understand the kind of merchandise you should be stocking. Your website can give you excellent insight into the kind of customers you can expect this season. Which age groups are most likely to visit your stores? What is the most trending item in your inventory? Use these pieces of information to stock your store, because the last thing you want is to run out of stock in the midst of a high-demand sale day or have overstock that has to be remaindered come January.


Do you have the right tools?


Big data can prove highly beneficial when your sales reps have access to it. Sales enablement solutions can help you to effectively slice and dice the data and present it to your reps in an articulate way that helps them to analyze and act upon that data. Provide them with real time analytics that will provide awareness of the kind of buyers to expect.


Your sales reps are your front line with the customer. Make sure that they are well-trained for this season. Also, this is a season when retail hires extra reps to meet the high demand. But these newbies will only be effective if  you are on-boarding and training them the right way.


Your reps need a tool that is all encompassing, covering every stage of the buyer’s cycle from prospecting to cross selling or upselling and even beyond.
Are your reps ready to face any and every kind of customer that walks in?

The Swiss Army Knife Approach to Sales Enablement




In the new sales cycle, where the buyer is in a position of power, the role of a salesperson has undergone a paradigm shift. Salespeople can no longer afford to just focus on selling their products and services. Instead, they are expected to be advisers and guides to buyers, helping them make the right purchase decision. In order to fit into their new role, salespeople today need something much more than the basic sales collateral. What they really need is a whole new range of sales enablement tools fit onto a single platform.



Here’s what the Swiss Army Knife for sales should contain:

360-degree Lead View

Help your salespeople understand what their prospects are looking for, so that they are able to present your products and services effectively. Your sales enablement platform should offer the sales team a syndicated prospect overview across all channels of interaction including websites, landing pages, emails, PPC campaigns, direct mails, etc.

Lead Segmentation

A good lead segmentation module will help your sales team chart out different marketing and sales strategies for each key segment--which in turn makes them more effective. Make it easy for your salespeople to classify their leads into meaningful sectors on the basis of their position in the sales cycle, their industry, their existing IT infrastructure, or whatever other criteria that works for them.

Lead Scoring

Having a lead scoring mechanism in place helps you prioritize your sales efforts. A lead scoring tool will grade your prospects based on multiple pre-defined parameters tied to their attributes and behavior. This will provide you with  an accurate score for your leads. It also ensures that you don’t spend your time on leads who are not yet ready to sign a contract with you.

Lead Nurturing

Help your salespeople stay in touch with other leads even as they focus on leads most likely to close. Invest in a sales enablement platform that has strong lead nurturing capabilities. It should also automate follow-ups and lead nurturing efforts so that they continue to happen even while your sales team is busy dealing with active, hot leads.

Personalization

Offer personalization tools that enable your sales teams to engage in high-level personalization that cuts across both print and digital communication channels and helps them build a strong personal relationship with every  prospect.

Collateral Creation

Give your salespeople complete control of their sales collateral by investing in a sales collateral creation tool. With a template-based approach to sales collateral creation, this convenient content management system will allow your sales team to make modifications to the final output using a built-in, pre-approved template. As a result, your sales team gains control over the sales materials without having to depend on marketing. At the same time, your corporate branding standards remain undisturbed.

Asset tracking and Analytics

Provide your salespeople with all the insight they need to know how their sales efforts are faring. Investing in a system that offers sales asset tracking and campaign analytics will help your sales team realize what sales pieces work and which ones don’t. Based on this knowledge, they can tweak their sales campaigns and assets for optimum performance.

Mobile Apps

Enable your salespeople to ‘go-mobile’ by offering on-demand access to their leads through any internet-enabled mobile device. It will alert them to key lead behavior such as newsletter sign-ups, appointment requests or whitepaper downloads so they can respond quickly even if they are away from their desk.

Sales Playbooks

Using sales playbooks, give your sales team all the information they need to have and share with prospects when making a sales call. That way neither  you nor they have to worry about saying the right thing at the right time. Nor will they have to spend time looking through the sales asset database for the right sales material. One-click access to the sales playbook can make your salespeople more efficient and effective.

CRM Integration

For your sales team, the CRM is an information bank about their leads and existing customers. Hence, make sure that any sales tool they  use integrates smoothly with the CRM that is already in place.

Social Media Integration

Social selling is fast catching up. However, building your brand on social media takes consistent effort. Your salespeople will find it challenging to make timely updates across all social media channels when they are busy juggling client meetings. Empower them by offering a social media automation tool so that they can be active on all social media channels, even as they are busy taking care of the more important stuff. Look for a social media automation tool that allows you to post relevant content across all major social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Wordpress, Blogger, etc.




What prospects want today is a value-adding partner they can count on to provide the best possible purchase advice and assistance at the right time. And the Swiss Army Tool-kit for sales will help your salesperson make a smooth transition from being just another seller to a sophisticated sales advisor.

Interested in the Mindmatrix Sales Enablement  platform? You can visit our website here.


The Beginner's Guide to Blogging


Blogging doesn't come naturally to everyone. So if you think you don’t have what it takes, you can relax.

With nearly 40% of US companies using blogs for marketing purposes, it is safe to conclude that blogging is to business what cheese is to hamburger, what beer is to Superbowl, what controversy is to Miley Cyrus, what.. well, you get the picture. 

If you've been giving blogging the cold shoulder until now and wish to make peace with it, you need to read and follow this blog post right now.


What you will need for this exercise (in no particular order)

  1. A blogging platform- where else are you going to post it, right?

  1. Friends/ connections to share it with - how we wish search engines were generous enough to automatically list our blogs on the first page of search results for everyone to read! However, as long as that isn’t happening, we continue to share our blogs on social for maximum readership (AND search engine rankings, of course).

  1. Good eye for research - apart from a flair for writing (natural or developed), this is a must-have for any aspiring blogger. More on this later.

  1. Good intent - of course, everyone knows that blogging is a subtle form of advertising and the expected end result is ROI. However, this is no reason why you shouldn't be writing stuff that will benefit your audience in some way.  

  1. Sense of humor (it’s a bonus) - a sense of humor is like the garnish of grated cheese and red sauce on your spaghetti and meatballs. Just like the right garnishing  can tantalize your senses, a little dash of humor can make your blogs much more appetizing.










Generating a blog topic


  1. List posts: One of the first hurdles to blogging is generating the right topic. For starters I’d recommend you stick to list posts. Examples of lists post: 5 tips to turn leads into sales, 6 steps to master personalized selling,  etc. You could take a cue from Buzzfeed, which does an excellent job of making list posts.


  1. Depend on keywords: Blogs are usually written around keywords. Keywords are words that are often searched for by your audience. You can use any of the free keyword tools like Wordstream, Google keyword tool or the Bing keyword tool.


  1. Resort to social media hashtags/news feeds: I like to personally start my day with a healthy dollop of social media. Why? Because over time I have realized that the trendiest and most happening news and discussions happen first on social sites. I choose to follow people and influencers from my field which let me understand what the others are talking about. Oftentimes, these blogs serve as an inspiration for a new post.
  1. Newsjacking: Close on the lines of the previous point, newsjacking means to catch on to the most “trending” topic currently and using that as a base for your new post. Your trending topic may not necessarily be related to your industry, but with a little cleverness  you might find a way to relate the two.


  1. Something that you feel your prospects need but your company hasn’t covered yet? No matter how often your company blogs, there is the possibility that some general topic area has been missed. Find out what it is and get crackin’ on it.  


Creating an outline


  1. Feel free to write anything that comes to your mind when you first pick your topic.
If you are anything like me, then having your topic out of the way is like accomplishing the biggest hurdle in this whole process. Once you have that in place, feel free to jot down whatever you can think of related to that topic. You don’t need to focus in on any specific aspect of your topic yet, just jot down whatever strikes you. If you’re falling short of ideas,  have a random conversation with colleagues/friends/ family about the topic, you’ll be surprised by what you get.   


If I choose to write about Christmas and I sell Christmas decor, I’d probably choose a topic like “How to decorate your house for the holidays”
Possible general topics: which things to put up first, halloween decor, christmas ornament, decorative lightings, how to save time on decorating tree, wrapping gifts, funky sofa furniture covers, faux floral arrangements.   


  1. Create a flow
The points jotted above are a kickstart to your writing. The next step requires you to choose the ones that are most relevant to your topic and discard the ones that aren't. (Tip: Don’t discard all of them, some of them can be developed into a whole new post in the future). Arrange the points sequentially in order to keep a flow for your readers. Jot down every related topic randomly, arrange them in a sequence.


  1. Research
Make sure to do plenty of research when you start writing about anything, even if you are a subject matter expert. When you research, you are going to come across stuff that you may have missed or a point of view that you hadn’t known before. Another benefit that research offers  is adds greater depth to your content. Google is your best bet for researching purposes. However, depending on what you want to blog about, you can also access research articles and ebooks from Aberdeen, Forrester, Ezine Articles, google scholar, etc.  

The draft
Once you have got your topic, outline and research in place, you are done with most of the hard work.


Now you need to articulate your thoughts and connect the dots. This isn’t as hard as it seems.
You will often find that you have a lot on your mind, but when you write it down, it doesn’t make sense. Happens all the time. Yes, even to the best of bloggers. The only way to get out of it is to keep writing till you are satisfied with what’s on paper. Don’t be too hard on yourself the first few times (note: by first few times, I mean at least a few months till you actually start liking what you write).


Here are some tips to help you blog effectively. A common error that most bloggers do, is to publish the blog without proofreading it. By doing this, you could be committing the gravest error in the blogging world. You need to proofread your post at least twice, before you pass it on to a trusted friend or colleague to proofread it for you one last time. No one likes to read poor grammar with punctuation in the wrong place. This will only deflect attention from your messaging to your grammar.

The key to being a successful blogger is to stay consistent and being passionate about what you blog about.


“Successful blogging is not about one time hits. It’s about building a loyal following over time.” - David Aston


“If you want to continually grow your blog, you need to learn to blog on a consistent basis.”- Neil Patel

“The currency of blogging is authenticity and trust.” -Jason Calacanis

First Impressions Last | How to Secure a Second Sales Meeting



Research says that you need about 8 meetings or follow-ups before a lead is closed; but the first meeting plays a key role in determining if you will get a chance to meet the prospect again. Even the most seasoned salespeople know there is no clear rulebook for a perfect first sales meeting. That said, we have put together a bunch of tips that you could use to make the most of your first client meeting.

Research, research, research

Before you meet with a prospect, do your homework and gather whatever knowledge you can about them. Understand the challenges faced by the industry  that your prospect is a part of. Then move on to study your prospect company in detail. Spend time on their website, social media pages, read about them online and see how your services can truly add value to them.

References and testimonials

Providing relevant testimonials and references will go a long way in building trust. When I say relevant testimonials, I’m referring to testimonials from your clients who are from the same industry vertical as your prospect, or have opted for the same product or service that your prospect is considering investing in. It is best if the testimonial is objective, and talks about how you added value to your clients in very quantitative terms.

Avoid jargon

Avoid technical slang when talking to your prospects. They are more likely to trust you when they understand what you are saying.

Maintain professionalism

Always dress professionally, arrive before the time of the meeting. If you arrive a bit too early, use any extra time you may have to learn more about your prospect’s business and style of working by observing their office.

When you talk

During the course of your interaction with the prospect, make it apparent that you have done your homework. You have invested your time and effort in learning more about your prospect, their business vertical and challenges...help them realize this--subtly. It sends the message that you truly care about adding value to them.

It doesn't have to be boring

Once you find that you have reached a certain comfort level with your prospect, talk to them about something other than business. It could be anything-- family, hobby, sports, charity, travel, etc. Why? It helps build trust, and then of course, knowing that you both play golf at the same club, or volunteer with the same organization will make it easier to develop a business relationship.

Listen

During your first meeting with a prospect, your goal should be to understand them, their business and their challenges. This involves asking your prospects a lot of questions and listening for answers. Even if you know exactly what challenges your prospect is facing and how you can help resolve them,  hearing out your prospects completely will convince them that you truly “get it”.

Never bad mouth a competitor or another client

You are not the only one who has done their research. Your prospect would have also consulted your competitors and may even point out that they are cheaper, or offer products or services that fit them better. At that point if you feel like bad-mouthing your competitor, bite your tongue. Instead state the facts--how are you different?

Your sales presentation deck

Your sales presentation is your best ally during the first client meeting. An ideal sales deck is short, but provides all the key information about the presenter’s company and their product or service. Your sales deck should have about eight to ten slides with the first being a cover slide with your logo and company name, the second giving a brief introduction of your company, and the third should include key client names and logos. The fourth slide can list your services or products, with a slide or two totally dedicated to your key offerings. Finally, include three short testimonials from your happy clients. Your closing slide can contain a message thanking your prospect for their time, followed by your contact details including your web address, e-mail, phone number, office address and links to all your social media pages.

What next?

Close your meeting with a clear discussion of the next step that should follow. If possible, try to  schedule a follow-up meeting immediately. Once you are out of the prospect’s office, send them an email that summarizes your discussion and lists the action items for the next steps.


If they don’t close immediately, you can add them to a lead nurturing drip and continue to stay connected until the time they are ready to make a purchase decision.

The first client meeting is always a little tricky, as that is your first and probably only chance to shine and impress your prospect with what you have to offer. Make sure you go into it armed with enough information about your prospect, their business vertical, challenges and of course, a positive outlook.

To learn more, visit Mindmatrix.