Make a Splash in Sales With These Technology Tools

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The modern day sales team has more expectations placed on them than ever. Growth hackers and inbound marketing means sales needs to be quicker and more efficient, while still maintaining the personal touch with hundreds of thousands of leads. To stay competitive, you have to move beyond the popular sales tools like Salesforce and find ways to make personal connections that scale.

Seem like a tall order? Fortunately, we’ve got some out of the box ideas that will help you stay ahead of the pack and up your sales game.

Rethink the Follow-up with BombBomb

How would you like to see a 200-300% increase in your email click-through rates? Including video in your emails has shown to increase engagement and generate more interest in your product or service—and BombBomb has made it incredibly easy to shoot and send short videos no matter your comfort level.

BombBomb has become the hottest sales enablement for folks looking for the next big thing. The app, which is available for both iOS and Android, allows you to record and send video from anywhere to follow up with prospects quickly.

For example, let’s say a potential customer reaches out via email with a few  questions. Instead of typing out a long-winded reply or playing phone tag, respond with a quick video walking through the answers. Or perhaps you run into a happy current customer at a conference who is raving to you about their experience. With BombBomb, you could record a short testimonial that could be easily send out to prospects that are on the fence.

BombBomb is the ideal sales tool to make those critical connections when you can’t be there in person. Plus, the nature of the quick video feels more authentic due to the lack of rehearsal. If you want to leave customers feeling impressed, get ahead of the curve with video messaging.  Provide a short demo of a particular aspect of your tool or service.

No Email Falls Through the Cracks with Boomerang

Inbox zero doesn’t need to be a mythical unicorn only achieved after a weekend of combing through your emails. Boomerang helps you manage your inbox in a unique way—by taking messages out of your inbox until you are actually in need of them.

Instead of letting starred emails get buried by a few weeks of additional communication, click the Boomerang button and select a date for when you need to see it. The message will be archived until the date you selected, at which time the email will come back into your inbox, marked as unread, starred or put at the top of your message list.

Additionally, Boomerang makes delayed follow-up a breeze. When a prospect asks you to check back in a few weeks, Boomerang it. Waiting on a few pieces of additional information from a prospect? Ask Boomerang to notify you in a few days if nobody replies. With Boomerang, you enjoy less noise in your inbox and fewer messages slipping through the cracks.

Never Lose a Potential Client with Trill Cards

While CRMs like Salesforce and Hubspot are a great way to store contact details like name, email, and phone, we all know there’s a lot more to a person than that and how do you collect them?—which is why having a tool like Trill Cards comes in handy. As with many of the tools we’ve shared, Trill Cards is another way to make a deeper connection with your prospects by managing their detail information right on your phone.

 In-spite of spending time and money on designing and printing something unique, your physical business card is unlikely to leave a distinct impression or forge a personal connection. In fact, 88% of business cards find their way to the wastebasket in a week or less. That’s a lot of missed opportunities and potential business lost to competitors if you aren’t able to keep track of your contacts.

Enter Trill Cards, the digital equivalent of having dozens of stunning business cards customized with the contact information most relevant to their preferred communication channels. Gone are the days of the awkward handoff; instead, impress a potential future client by sending your business card via sound to their smartphone! Setting up your card takes only a few minutes, as the app has lots of pre-built templates you can customize to your heart’s content. You can create several different versions of your card to target various types of contacts.  Trill Cards increases the likelihood your card will be reviewed again and again as these cards are always available on your phone.

img-notes Even better? The app allows you to take notes on contacts right from your phone, so you don’t have to worry about hunting down a pen, limiting your notes to the back of a business card, and then hoping you don’t lose the card in the laundry. Plus, if you change jobs or companies, the cards automatically update with your new information, avoiding the cost of a reprint or embarrassment over having to ask for a card back with bad information. On top of that, Trill Cards app allows you to access your CRM and manage your contacts with a tap of your finger—like carrying around your sales office in your pocket.

Always Be Available with Ruby Receptionists

67% of inbound mobile call customers have reported hanging up in frustration after not being able to reach a real person. That’s business lost to competitors if you aren’t able to answer your phone.

Of course, making sure you answer every call isn’t realistic either—which is where Ruby Receptionists comes in. Ruby is a team of live, remote receptionists that ensure 100% of your calls are answered by a friendly, professional person—at a fraction of the cost of an in-house headcount. Their focus on personal connections and not on scripts means your callers listened to and treated as individuals. In addition to making you look good, this also results in more detailed information gathering that results in a more informed follow-up conversation for you.

Plus,  you can receive calls (or not) at your office, home, cell or wherever you’re working for the day. On top of that, their mobile apps for iOS and Android allow you to access your call activity and manage your call-handling instructions with a tap of your finger.

Technology should enhance your work—not replace it

The sales tools of the modern era may subsist on technology and access to the cloud, but the true driver behind a successful sales team is the ability to make personal connections. All the tools we’ve shared focus on enhancing this quality, as opposed to throwing it to the wayside. After all, at the end of the day, people want to do business with people.

Beyond Networking 101: The 7 Step Networking Plan To Shine At Your Next Event

“Serendipity always rewards the prepared.” — Katori Hill

There are some things that should be left to chance—finding the right significant other, winning the lottery. When it comes to building the perfect network of contacts, however, it’s better to be strategic. Networking events can be fruitful when it comes to building relationships, particularly when you’ve done your homework and feel confident approaching others. Fortunately, we’ve got a simple 7 step plan that move beyond your networking basics. Get ready to graduate from Networking 101 and ensure you’re ready to leap when serendipity strikes.

Step 1: Prepare for the venue

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Different environments call for different approaches to conversation. Knowing in advance if you will be free to mingle versus sitting at an assigned table can help direct the best locations to strike up a conversation, as well as the type of topics to have prepared. For example:

If it’s a bar: The biggest challenge at any network event is drawing out key contacts from clusters. Your best bet at a bar is to stick close to the bar itself, as folks are less likely to cluster when ordering drinks. The close proximity makes it easier to have a one-on-one conversation; plus, commenting on a drink order is an easy conversation starter!

If it’s a speaker or panel discussion: The key to networking at an event with a set agenda is to associate yourself with the topic. A great way to stand out is to come prepared with a question for the panel or speaker. Not only will you learn something you’ve always wanted to know, you’ll leave a great impression!

Step 2: Review the RSVP list

Most likely, you’ve seen this piece of advice before in other networking research. This is because it’s an incredibly important step in making connections. Reviewing the RSVP list is more than confirming the event is worth attending—it helps you craft opening statements.

To begin, look for names that seem familiar, or that you already know are people you’d like to connect with. Once you have a list of 6-10 names, research these individuals through LinkedIn and social networks. Take notes on similarities and items that could be potential opening lines, such as “Hey, I saw that you’re connected to my friend so and so. How do you know each other?” or “I happened across an article you wrote. I’d love to know more about…”

Quick note: If your LinkedIn profile is set to public, anyone you view when signed in will be notified you have viewed their profile. I don’t see this as a negative, since you may pique the individual’s curiosity. Who knows—they may even reach out before the event! If this makes you uncomfortable however, consider changing your profile settings.

Step 3: Determine your goal, then tailor your message

Think of networking as a spoken version of a cover letter. You would never send a cover letter to a company with a rote, one-sentence description of what you do. Instead, you weave a story explaining how your skills, experience and personal characteristics meet the needs of that particular role.

Before your next event, consider how you would answer the question, “What do you do?” Instead of the usual, “I’m the {title} at {company},” try something that speaks to your passion and your plans for the future. An example could be:

“I help companies tell compelling stories about their brands that excite                consumers.”

“I enjoy connecting nonprofits with innovative technology that could assist in  expanding their outreach.”

“I’m currently in marketing, and am in the process of getting my Adwords          certification to expand my skillset.”

Not only will this type of the response invite more clarifying questions and open discussions, it sets more clear expectations around the type of work or contacts you’re looking for.

Step 4: Don’t immediately focus on what they do—listen

On the flip side of Step 3, no one else enjoys being asked what they do either. It makes people feel like they’re being whittled down to their profession without taking into account their whole person.
If you’ve done your research (as we suggested in Step 2) , you have the opportunity to connect with folks on a deeper level. This not only makes for more engaging conversation, but increases the likelihood you’ll make an impression.

As explained by the Similarity-Attraction Effect, humans naturally enjoy being around others who share similar beliefs and interests. Once you’ve had an opportunity to engage, ask questions that focus on learning more about what motivates them, their passions, as well as their activities outside of work. Come prepared with a few questions to help begin this type of conversation, such as, “I see you sharing lots of articles about x. What about this topic interests you?” or “Your resume is impressive. Which experience are you most proud of?” Then, listen.

With luck, you’ll have material you can relate to your own experience or interests. The contact will appreciate your effort to step outside of the typical conversation, as well as your desire to connect with them on their passions.

Step 5: Create a list of go-to questions

We’ve talked a lot about preparing for the conversations you want to have, but what about the unplanned, random opportunities to connect? After all, someone you aren’t aware of could also be a fruitful future connection.

Starting and sustaining a conversation from nothing is tricky for everyone, which is why I suggest having a predetermined list of questions that are guaranteed conversation starters. These questions should be open-ended, neutral, and stay away from the taboo (politics, religion, money, etc.).

How did you hear about this event?
What’s your most exciting project at the moment?
What’s the strangest conversation you’ve ever had a networking event?
I’m always on the search for good book recommendations. What are your favorites?

Step 6: Focus on what you can do for them

Networking events can quickly turn into grating affairs if everyone in the room is focused on what others can do for them. If instead you offer ways you can help them, you’ll find you’re quickly the most popular person in the room. A few ideas include offering to connect them with contacts in your network, provide recommendations on resources that could help with a problem (e.g articles, books, etc.), or offering to meet with them in the future to discuss a topic at length.

Step 7: Avoid the awkward business card handoff

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Having a conversation with someone can feel strange enough, so handing them a piece of paper like a car salesman can kill the moment. With the number of technology tools available on your phone, consider offering something a little more in line with actions we do everyday. For example, if there is an item you agreed to follow-up on, why not send an email right then and there letting the person know you chatted about this item and you’ll be in touch? You could also connect with them on LinkedIn or follow them on Twitter right as the conversation is wrapping up? To leave them thoroughly impressed, however, dazzle them with your early adopter status by suggesting you shared contact information via Trill cards. By setting up your customized Trill cards in advance, you can easily pick and choose which version to share with a contact, as well as easily make note of what you discussed. New connections will appreciate one less piece of paper to keep track of and you increase the likelihood they’ll remember chatting with you when you follow-up.

To stand out at a networking event takes preparation and poise. Taking the time develop a networking plan, craft your message, create discussion topics, and make sure you have the right tools in hand ensures you come off as confident, engaged and most importantly—interesting.

5 Habits of Successful People

For many people success can seem like a lofty, unachievable status that’s only reached by a few people. It’s easy to look at a person and see their prosperity without acknowledging the work that went into it. Reaching your goals is a journey that has to start somewhere. Here are five small changes you can make now, that can have great returns in your future life.

1.) They Live Healthy Lives

Conventional wisdom tells us that a healthy body is a healthy mind and it couldn’t be more right. The NCAA estimates graduation rates of student athletes are 22% higher than their classmates and much of that is attributed to their lifestyle choices outside of the classroom. Physical activity increases blood flow to the brain and produces endorphins that elevate your mood. On top of that, a healthy diet is just as important to the brain functionality as it is for fueling your muscles. Keeping a healthy lifestyle with exercise, proper nutrition, and adequate sleep will help ensure you can bring your A-game every day.

2.) They Limit distractions

Living in a world that is so connected and accessible also comes with its drawbacks. A recent article in Time magazine highlights the decline in the average attention span of humans over the last decade. Having the world at our fingertips through newsfeeds, emails, and other instant updates also make it easier for us to indulge in those distractions. There’s also been a growing trend of making workspaces more open to encourage collaboration and while many would argue the benefits of this shift outweigh the costs, there’s no denying that some people may easily lose focus on their work over workplace commotion. Distractions are inevitable so it’s important to recognize when they happen and re-focus. Try setting aside a specific time each day for responding to emails and texts. Get to work early to get a jump start before the chaos of midday. Discover your distractions, find a way to eliminate them and get ready to be more productive than ever before.

3.) They Accept Imperfection

Most professionals are very conscious of their personal brands so it can sometimes be hard to wrap up a project with your name on it when you think there’s room for improvement. While the pursuit of perfection can help set a standard for your work, it’s equally important to know when you’ve done enough to achieve your goal. The law of diminishing returns is an economic concept that describes how increased input eventually yields less and less benefit. To avoid getting trapped in this pitfall of inefficiency make an effort in the planning stage of your project to outline what you are trying to achieve and the benchmarks that must be met to achieve your goal. There’s always more work to do than the one task at hand; don’t end up in a position of missing other deadlines in the aimless pursuit of perfection.

4.) They Learn from Mistakes

As any professional athlete or business mogul will readily echo, major achievements rarely come without some failures along the way. Everyone fails; it’s a fact of life. What separates successful people from those that never reach their aspirations is the ability to understand their mistakes, own up to them and make improvements for next time. In the business world where efficiency equals money mistakes can be costly, but repeating the same mistakes can be crippling. Making the same bad investments over-and-over will quickly show on the bottom line and the same is true for mistakes that aren’t as easy to measure as a profit or loss. Be your own toughest critic and others in your organization will follow suit.

5.) They Take Action

The previous items on this list can help to increase personal productivity, it’s entirely ineffective without taking action. While this may seem obvious, it’s easy to get in the habit of having ideas without them coming to fruition. Try getting up with your first-morning alarm and making your bed. Commit to finishing your day’s most challenging to-do list task before lunch. These small efforts can help you start your day with productivity that you can keep rolling with. Actions always speak louder than words.

The Best Places To Host A Meeting

Depending on the size of your business and if you travel to meet clients, you may find yourself requiring somewhere professional to have a meeting.  If you work from home or do not have access to a conference room, here are some options for potential places to have a meeting.

A Coffee Shop or Public Library

The most cliché meeting places may be that way for a reason.  While these spaces may not be ideal in some scenarios, they are usually free of charge and easily accessible to people.  A coffee shop can provide a good degree of comfort while still allowing some privacy.  Don’t count these options out before considering if they’ll suit the purpose of your meeting.

Colleges and Universities

Whether public or private, colleges and universities often have buildings with plenty of unoccupied rooms that can be rented for free or a nominal fee.  Their large impact on the area they surround makes them easier to find for both locals and clients who may just be visiting town.  Most include projectors and screens for presentations.  Call any phone number you can find and ask to speak with building or office managers.  You’ll likely have to speak with a few people, but you may be surprised by the quality spaces you find.

Temp Offices

Some companies make a business out of helping people find temporary office spaces.  If you want to impress a client, websites like Liquidspace or Evenues offer meeting rooms at a number of locations at a range of prices.  This is an especially strong option for those who work from home who occasionally need to “wow” a client.  Some spaces even have their own professional staff dedicated to helping you host clients and making it appear as a more natural office setting.

Virtual Meetings

Virtual meetings can be a viable option that saves both parties travel time and saves you money on a rental space.  Even many conference rooms found at the locations listed above come with equipment for video conferencing so you can make use of them even if your client isn’t present. Software like Skype and Wiggio allow you to manage your virtual meetings with ease.  This is a great option for regular meetings and won’t break the bank since they can be done from anywhere.  Always be conscious of your surroundings before you begin a video conference. Avoid noisy areas where there could be interruptions and make sure you have a professional or neutral backdrop.

Your Client’s Office

Don’t be afraid to ask your client if their space is free during the time you need to meet.  If you are working with a more established entity they may have more resources available than you and may even prefer meeting in their space.  Don’t be afraid to suggest it if you don’t have your own facilities.  You can even schedule another meeting in the area as though you were “in the neighborhood anyway.”  Besides having a comfortable place to meet it saves your clients a trip out of the office and may even create the appearance that you are more full service.

 

 

 

How To Break The Ice When Networking

Networking events tend to be designed for a particular personality, those who can walk into a room and make friends with anyone. These events are tough, and everyone feels the pressure to be interesting and likable.

Here are some helpful hints that can be used to help you break the ice with new connections at your next networking event.

1. Create realistic expectations. Not everyone feels natural at networking events, if they make you nervous, don’t psych yourself out with unrealistic expectations. Even though you may not meet 25 new contacts at your next event, that’s okay. Try to find individuals you can build strong relationships with, because one quality conversation is more beneficial than 25 superficial ones.

2. Prepare before you go. Start planning ahead and prepare some icebreakers or opening lines. Be sure to start with open-ended questions, these spur interesting conversations. People love to talk about themselves, their work and their hobbies. Ask questions like, “How long have you been a member of the host organization?” or “What’s your favorite part of your job?”

3. Manage your time. Start deciding ahead of time how long you’ll stay at an event; this makes the commitment much less intimidating. Start by giving yourself 20 minutes to get your nametag, a drink, and meet at least one new person. From there you will start to get used to the environment and enjoy yourself.

4. Ask for an introduction. If there’s a particular person you’d like to meet at the event, ask a common connection to introduce you. LinkedIn makes it easy to find mutual connections, so use them to increase your network.

5. Become a great listener. Most people are better at talking than listening, if you can overcome this, you’ll stand out as someone who values others. Be sure to listen, think, then respond in three separate steps.

6. Get personal. Challenge yourself to open up and contribute to the conversation. If you ask consecutive questions without giving any information about yourself, it will start to feel like an interrogation.

7. Practice make perfect. If you’re still extremely nervous or unsure, challenge yourself with low- or no-risk situations. Drive to a networking event in the next town over where you likely won’t know anyone. Experiment with new conversation-starters or stories. That way, even if you make a complete fool of yourself, it won’t matter.

8. It takes time. With more practice, you’ll become more comfortable in social situations and with sharing your true personality. Make it a habit to take advantage of everyday opportunities to network. At the office, take small breaks to walk around and casually socialize with your colleagues. Once a week, invite a colleague to join you for lunch or coffee.

How Listening Leads to More Business

Listening may be one of the most important skills you can have when it comes to leadership and running a business.
There are many reasons we listen. We listen to; learn, stay informed, understand, gain information, acquire knowledge, and obtain wisdom.
While there are many benefits to great listening, sadly most of us are in fact terrible at it. Research suggests that we remember only 25 to 50 percent of what we hear.
With that being said, learning to be a good listener has significant benefits for business leaders. It helps you build critical relationships with clients, bond with customers, and engage with employees.
In turn, this builds trust and confidence. That trust encourages loyalty, and that confidence motivates productivity. Both of these things leads to more business and more profitability.

Now, here are seven ways you can become a better listener:
1. Keep your mind clear.
When you listen, actually listen! Clear your mind; stop thinking of your beliefs and positions and what you’re going to say next. Be ready to truly hear what the other person is saying so you can benefit from their thoughts, opinions, and ideas. After you hear what they say, then think about what you will say.

2. Context is key.
To truly listen, you must pay attention to what is being said beneath the words. Listen for the essence of what is being said. Look beyond the surface. Make an effort to hear the words that the other person is saying, and, more importantly, to understand the complete message that is being conveyed. Give your full, undivided attention to the speaker at every level. Aim to understand the context of the words, instead of just the words themselves.

3. Don’t get distracted.
Resist the natural urge to be distracted by whatever else may be going on around you, or by forming counter arguments that you’ll make when the other person stops speaking. Don’t let your mind wander so that you lose focus. All of these contribute to a lack of listening and understanding.

4. Stay open.
A very important part of listening is the ability to set aside one’s own prejudices in order to step into the shoes of another. Learn to silence your personal thoughts and opinions in such a way that you can address the needs of other people directly. Practice showing empathy.

5. Use your body.
Body language isn’t only important when speaking, but also when listening. Look directly at the speaker, lean in, and be interested. Listen and learn. Watch your body language and watch the body language of the person speaking. Use smiles, nods, and gestures to signal your engagement and connection.

6. Don’t interrupt.
Resist the urge to interrupt; it frustrates the speaker and derails the point being made. Allow the speaker to finish his or her thought before jumping in to ask questions. Don’t interrupt with counter arguments or to add your own ideas. When you listen, you listen; when you speak, you speak. There is a time for everything.

7. Respond.
When the speaker has finished talking and it’s your turn to speak, be open, inquisitive, and honest with your response. Assert your opinions, ask the right questions, and do it all with great respect. Treat the other person as you would want to be treated.

Listening is an acquired skill. It takes a lot of determination and concentration. But if done right, it will help you become a better communicator and develop stronger relationships–important elements of success in any field. For leaders, listening is a central competence for success. For business, listening is a competitive advantage.

Why You Should Never Eat Alone

If there is one phrase that you should live by in business it is that which is the title of Keith Ferrozzi book; “Never Eat Alone.” The idea of this phrase is simple, the truth is that actual relationships with people are a big key to success. People hire, buy from, and give money to people and businesses that they like. Knowing this it is important to build mutually beneficial relationships with others.

So how do you build a mutually beneficial relationship with a stranger? If you do something to make someone else more successful, they’re more likely to value your relationship with them, and the more relationships you have with value in them, the more valuable you become, not only to yourself, but to the world: your employers, your clients, and so on. To put this into practice, try and give everyone you meet 51% of the value of a relationship. You will easily see how successful you will become living off of the 49%.

When giving someone 51% of the value of a relationship, it is important that you don’t keep score. If someone calls you up and asks for a favor that you can easily accomplish, make it so and don’t look back. Relationships are not finite things that are a straight-up exchange of one thing for another – they are living, breathing things. If you are going to take the time to connect with somebody, you should be willing to try to make that person successful. If they succeed, you succeed – it’s that simple.

The main idea here is that you should begin reaching out to others and building your network of contacts before you need anything from them. If you start networking just as your job is about to die, or your company needs funding, it’s too late. Get out there and network, join community groups that interest you, take leadership positions in hobby groups that interest you, enroll in a local community college class on the topic of interest, or try to become involved with an approved work project that enables you to come into contact with more people. Then, as you’re exposed to more people, gravitate towards the ones who are involved with things that you want to be doing

Here are some rules to live by to make sure you are networking right:

  1. Don’t schmooze: have something to say, say it with meaning, and focus on establishing a few good connections than spending your time surfing the room.
  2. Don’t rely on gossip because it paints a picture of untrustworthiness.
  3. Be willing to give something away – bloggers who give away content to their readers.
  4. Don’t treat those under you poorly, ever.
  5. Be transparent – if you want to meet someone and are happy to meet them, say so.
  6. Don’t be too efficient – make genuine, individual connections. If you’re going to take the time to touch base with a contact, write to that person individually, don’t just include them on a big ol’ email to hundreds of people at once that starts off with “Dear friend!”

No successful person is completely self-made, everyone needs help from each other.

How to Navigate your First Networking Event

We have all been there before; we walk into our first networking event and have no idea where to begin. We think these things to ourselves; do you walk up and just start talking, or do you have to make eye contact first? What topics should you talk about? How personal is it okay to get in a business setting?

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The key to effective networking is to be genuine and authentic, through these two actions you will be surprised on how your networking results turn out.

Effective business networking is the linking together of individuals who, through trust and relationship building, become walking and talking advertisements for one another.

Continue reading How to Navigate your First Networking Event