Impacting Business Development and Sales with Marketing

12 Best Practices for Conducting Effective One-On-One's

Posted by Gabrielle Guidero on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 @ 09:03 AM

iStock_000040507586Large

The main responsibility of a team leader is to help his or her team members continuously improve their results. Sounds pretty simple--but just spend a day with a team leader, and you will observe that the job requires a lot of skill and planning to handle the day to day fires, while at the same time doing the things that keep team members focused.

Below are twelve simple best practices that have been outlined and defined in order to help you plan, conduct, and follow-up on your one-on-ones.

 

  1. It is important that the meetings be carefully documented.  Simple use of the sample PDM form makes follow-up easy and clear.  In addition, it makes recapping the previous meeting and goals easy.
  2. Prepare for the meetings. Put the meetings in your calendar so other meetings do not crowd these out. It is also important to have a game plan before beginning a meeting.
  3. Treat the meeting as a goal-setting session.  Both team members and team leaders should look forward to these meetings each month. 
  4. Be prepared to adapt your style and be ready to “push” or “pull” based on your team members level of skill, will and experience.
  5. All goals must meet the SMART criteria; including the “expected help from the team leader”. Before you end your meeting, test the goals with your team member to make sure they are SMART!
  6. Show that you care about your team member. Take time to know what some of their personal goals are and why they are important to them. Listen more than you speak.
  7. Give compliments and praise for the development of good habits and for the achievement of the previous month’s goals.
  8. One action step is enough if it is the correct action step. Success will generate more and bigger action steps.
  9. Spend the majority of the time during the meetings focused on the future in a positive, solution-oriented way, and less time on why a something didn’t happen – fewer excuses and more action.
  10. Some team members may require being on a shorter “leash” – meet and follow up with them more often.
  11. Ask your team member what their performance goal for the month is and then back into how many interactions they need to reach it.  This helps the team member set realistic goals and take ownership for their action plan for the month.
  12. Always commit to at least one action step in “expected help from the team leader” to demonstrate that you are committed to helping them grow and succeed. This is also important with top performers to show your commitment to them.

Tags: Alignment, Performance

How to Increase the Effectiveness of your Next Laboratory Outreach Tradeshow

Posted by Gabrielle Guidero on Wed, Jan 29, 2014 @ 08:01 AM

OncoMDx Tradeshow Booth ExampleWhether you are a hospital-based program, commercial, or private organization, keep in mind that there are no open markets: Every one already has a provider for diagnostic testing and reporting. You are there to engage and persuade physicians, medical group directors or hospital administrators to change.

So, why should they change?

By understanding the process physicians take to change, you can outline a different approach to position more targeted messaging that resonates faster with the internal conversation already going on in their minds.

 

4 Ways to Improve Trade Show Sales Conversations

You’ve taken your current collateral and marketing tools to a couple of tradeshows recently, and you’re just not getting the reaction you’ve gotten in the past… You’re not alone: many marketers are facing similar difficulties. Here are 4 ways to improve your collateral without the need to start over from the beginning:

Situation: You feel that the existing branding and messaging on your large format graphic does not resonate as quickly with your physician segment and draw them in. A few tips you can use to amplify your current collateral are:

 

1.   Add a standing banner with keywords to catch physician’s attention
    • A single key point and image which address and align physicians’ business/patient care decisions will add more value by inspiring targeted conversations faster.
    2.   Update the graphics on hardware you already have in order to hone targeting while minimizing costs
      • Almost all tradeshow booths and podiums are made with replaceable graphics and murals. New images, copy, and a potentially new arrangement of hardware on your rental space can make your tradeshow budget go farther in a short amount of time.
      3.   Evaluate your collateral’s effectiveness as sales tools that will help close the deal
        • Does your sales team feel your collateral is relevant to conversations, and use it as visual reinforcement of buying motivators for physicians? Re-write copy to include key messaging, and incorporate new visual aids that your sales team knows will work and highlights benefits that customers are looking for. Be sure to include any URLs for follow-up tools, resources, and engagement as a takeaway.

         

        Situation: You feel that you can be getting more marketing qualified leads (MQLs) in your pipeline, but lose momentum two months after attending. Keep in mind that 60% of a customer’s buying decision is made prior to contacting a sales representative. In order to boost your MQLs and keep them engaged after your tradeshow, you can:

         

        4.   Put together a three-part communication campaign using all channels to reach the physicians you are targeting:
          • Direct email or postcards for customers and prospects announcing your attendance and value to them, industry and region.

            • Invite them to sign up to a webinar prior to the conference, invite them to an invitation only dinner prior to and/or view a blog post regarding industry and professional trends with benefits your organization brings.
               
          • A single web page within your company site promoting the event and your participation. Use this as an opportunity to engage and convert visitors through targeted keywords. If done with long term goals in mind this section of your website can have a continuous impact on traffic, conversion and SEO of your website.

            • Include relevant and valuable information benefiting your segments business objectives, professional development, patient safety and quality, technology, healthcare reform implementation, reimbursements.
               
            • Include calls to action and links to offers you have published such as white papers, guides, videos, studies, reports and medical journals.
               
          • Write and publish blog posts reporting on the event itself, turnout, keynote speakers, industry takeaways. Add these blog links to the email communications that are sent as follow-up.

           

          Minimize costs - There’s no need to start from scratch. Update messaging and visual aids first to focus on your target persona. Their wants and needs change over time, so you must adapt your tools to meet their needs. This will facilitate your conversations, and help them make the decision to change to or add your company to their list of providers. 

          Tags: Alignment

          How to Build Effective Sales Tools for your Outreach Laboratory

          Posted by Gabrielle Guidero on Tue, Jan 28, 2014 @ 18:01 PM

          Doctor patient handshake  sales tool blog Low participation in marketing campaigns with minimal utilization of web assets by the sales team are enough to create havoc in any marketer’s plan.  Combined with an augmented responsibility to produce an increased ROI and validate marketing spend, these challenges are beginning to shift the way laboratories build and deploy their marketing and sales tools.


          With more aggressive competition from commercial laboratories, along with independent and hospital outreach programs, sales and service professionals need to establish relevancy quickly. Along with accommodating the changes occurring in the healthcare environment, (including re-imbursements) laboratories need to arm sales people with harder working tools and tactics to achieve successful outcomes faster.

           

          Keep the Sales Perspective Top-of-Mind

          Through a defined process, sales people are on a quest daily to qualify or de-qualify prospects as a potential customer. They have the unique position to get up every day and purposely go out, talk with strangers, and be willing to hear “no” or “not interested” more than “yes”. By combining the sales perspective with marketing knowledge and customer data, marketers create and build more relevant sales tools that increase flexibility, real-time responsiveness, and engagement.

          You have to give your presentation and get to the point fast! Six tips your sales people might want you to know in order to accomplish this are:

          • Most of the time, I talk with the front desk or office manager first. I need to know the material and be well versed in order to address how our solution benefits the physicians’ specialty or practice management challenges better than the perceptions they already have of our competitors.
          • Many times I have to wait in the hall between offices and exam rooms to talk with a physician. I should not be surprised to hear “What do you have for me?” between the physician walking from one exam room to the other.
          • Concisely focus on highlights the doctor and his office care about, and be direct with how our services help improve operations, financial performance, or patient management.
          • I might only get 1-5 minutes to discover what needs are not being fulfilled and then present a better solution.
          • Be responsive: if there is interest, follow-up quickly and educate.
          • If I’ve been there before, what do I have to validate another return?

           

          Enhance the conversation already going on

          • Know what value proposition your sales people use in the field, and understand why it works.
          • What are the common obstacles they hear, and how do they overcome them?
          • What perception do prospects have of your organization and your competition?

          Marketers can gain invaluable insights in field sales and service perspectives by keeping an ear to the ground. What is and isn’t working in your current portfolio, and why this may (or may not) be so? Tap into your marketing expertise and understand your sales team as a customer, their motivators, pain points, and metrics for success. Your sales team will have the direct answers you need to evolve and build more effective sales tools.

          Beyond creating tools and collateral, you need to engage the sales team. Establish a channel to ensure a better process in order to improve the utilization of your marketing programs and assets. The key is to define a consistent process of: asking, listening, integrating and calibrating. This will build your most responsive program that leverages the strengths of both the sales and the marketing perspectives.

           

          Think of your Website as a Supplement for Sales Success

          Maximize money you may already be spending by leveraging printed sales tools with a lead nurturing web strategy. By integrating your approach towards physicians and their patients on your website, you will elevate the impact of human engagement happening through your service and sales team with an automated approach, keeping your pipeline filled and leads nurtured. Here are a few ways to transition physicians and leverage your website as a sales tool:

           

          • Professionally designed and printed business cards with contact information that might include a website URL along with supporting information or relevant offers to download.
          • Concise brochures including field language to mimic the flow of conversations with buying triggers. This will lead physician to take the next steps, with links to web pages that provide more clinical information, directions for specimen submission, and reporting.
          • Website workflows that provide physician tools, best practices, disease management, and calls-to-action will transition your website to become a more effective sales tool.
          • Follow-up tools – such as newsletters, white papers, or chapter videos of your pathologists –increase interaction opportunities at the office, and bridge your website as a resource for physician education on the newest technological and practice management advances.

          Keep the sales perspective in mind when you’re developing your sales tools and marketing campaigns. This will help you organize and unify your messaging to enhance the conversations that are already percolating in the physicians’ offices, and help you establish a connection quickly with your audience. Make sure the messaging transfers over from your printed collateral to your website: with more physicians going digital, it’s important to not undervalue or underestimate the importance of your website. It’s also important to make sure your sales teams are aware of all the collateral they have at their disposal: every physician will have a preference or process of how to digest information, so having different methods of presenting your company/service will enable your team to speak to a wider audience. 

          Tags: Alignment

          3 Steps to Evolve your Website into a Sales Tool

          Posted by Gabrielle Guidero on Wed, Jan 22, 2014 @ 18:01 PM

          Evolve your website                 The Right Perspective will Take You Far

          Change your approach, change the game. If you want different results, you’re going to have to do things differently. Refresh your thinking and take a step forward in your usage of targeted channels to create momentum. The key is to anticipate and incorporate your customers’ internal conversations with the answers they need to hit the ground running. Keep all channels open and engaged with these easy and quick to implement tactics.

           

          Step 1: Internal Review - Validation and Communication

          Start by validating that your website lays the foundation to really engage and align your sales and marketing processes. To highlight the importance of customized messaging and branding, the information architecture and content should provide a blueprint for customers, your sales team, and internal resources to easily find, share and engage with. This information should support the purchasing decision embedding your unique value propositions and offerings.

          This approach will enable you to create more relevant and powerful messages that speak directly to your audience and specific customer segments.  Your website provides an automated communication channel that increases in value as an asset for your company, sales team, and customers. Spend wisely. With the right approach, your website will be one of the most powerful sales tools you have at your disposal and you should consistently evolve to keep your cutting edge.

           

          Getting Started

          Implement an on-going feedback process to engage with your sales team.  This communication process will validate the effectiveness of the site with the sales team to ensure that the content published is on target, and utilized as a true asset to sales and your customers. Overall, sales should have a complete understanding of how and when published content addresses their customers’ challenges and needs, where to find the content, and how to easily access it.

           

          Evolve

          Continuously educate your sales team by sharing your content calendar, and be sure to publish responses to their commonly heard objections and concerns from the field. Regular training and education are critical to ensure internal understanding of the website as a consistent and automated communication channel tool. Doing so  will also provide social proof with customers and prospects. The results of this are increased acquisition, retention and growth.

           

          Step #2:  Get Social - Generate Content and Delivery Strategies around Defined Workflows

          We all know that the potential of social media to help increase brand exposure is virtually unlimited.  The wide variety of mediums available provides multiple options for reaching your target markets.  By using social media as a tool to broaden exposure to your brand, you will reach and engage with many more people than you would otherwise.  In fact, according to the “2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report” put together by Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner, social media marketing yielded significant gains in brand exposure, traffic and sales.  Remember, it does not stop there: it’s only the first step in a journey.

           

          Getting Started

          Take one commonly heard objection that your sales team faces and define a workflow that proactively addresses and resolves to draw in the audience. Take them through the various stages of a purchasing decision with calls-to-action that will engage and direct them through the next phase of the buying cycle. Define the objective and goal of the workflow, along with the metrics that will be measured and qualified as a successful conversion. Include how it supports the overall mission of the company and objectives to acquire or retain a customer. A call to action can be any number of things including: sharing information, downloading content, subscribing to a newsletter, registering for an event, requesting more information, making a purchase, or asking to be contacted by a sales rep. Once you have this defined, take a look at your website and select where your target audience would enter (it’s not always the home page), interact with, and navigate this information naturally.

           

          Evolve

          Your increased success with your social media strategy lies in providing more opportunities for interaction and conversion with your brand and content through calls-to-action from your customers’ perspective. Utilize your channel positioning documents and persona profiles to anticipate the internal conversations and decisions your target audience is having, and provide those answers as if you are dropping breadcrumbs along a path. Keep in mind that although the web is a never ending resource of information, you have the opportunity to keep your audience engaged through quality content structured with relevant information to guide them through a satisfying experience on your website.

          Companies who see the best return from their website investment define their information architecture and information delivery with a solid foundation of workflows in mind.

          Conduct a website audit and evaluate how well your website supports customer experience, navigation, flow and conversions.

           

          Step #3:  Revere Content as King with a Focus on Blogging

          Blogging is your chance to be unique and is one of the most powerful inbound marketing tools available to increase traffic to your website and raise brand awareness.  It can be your most readily accessed channel strategy for keeping your website relevant, fresh and active. Publishing responsive and proactive content that addresses industry opportunities and challenges in real-time,, using internal and external links, and keywords is a must for search engine rankings as well.  It provides a platform to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise in facing industry challenges.

           

          Get Started

          After completing Steps 1 and 2, define and write two blog topics. The first will include and respond to a commonly heard market concern you’ve collected from your sales team. The second will address the initial follow-up or internal conversation your customers are having, and will include a call-to-action (an invitation to take the first step into your defined workflow).

           

          Evolve

          By sharing useful information that initiates engagement from both your customers and your sales teams, you are creating another path for establishing trust in the marketplace. The stronger your content, the stronger confidence you will see in your services and products through increased traffic and conversions.  By further validating your content with social proof, you will increase the value of your blog as an asset to your business and sales process.

           

          Engage Your Customers in the Right Place at the Right Time

          Using this new approach will build familiarity and encourage customers’ willingness to buy from you. Backed with social proof of outstanding customer service, your website strategy will become a well-respected (and highly appreciated) part of the sales and service process.  As you go along keep this one thought in mind: Information is the currency of business. How do you manage yours?

          Tags: Alignment

          6 Critical Components of a Strong Brand Foundation

          Posted by Katya Girgus on Wed, Oct 23, 2013 @ 17:10 PM

          Business Hand With Brand Text by Suwit RitjaroonYour company’s image is its brand, and so the brand becomes the embodiment of the features and benefits of the company itself. To lay a strong foundation communicating your company’s value proposition internally and externally, you must ensure your brand foundation is solidly in place. By defining the key elements supporting your brand you can ensure your brand is differentiated from others in the market. 


          Image Courtesy of Suwit Ritjaroon/
          Free Digital Photos.net

          1. Brand Identity: Your brand identity demonstrates who your company is, defines positioning, and creates competitive advantage. Brand elements include your name, tagline, logo, and design.  Just as importantly, your brand identity includes your company’s personality and its assets, which include: brand awareness, emotional connection, credibility, and purchase motivation.  Altogether, your brand is the key to unifying behaviors, actions, and communications.  Each of these components of brand identity play a strong role in communicating competitive advantages, product/services quality, competitive advantages, and operational efficiencies.  A strong brand identity: resonates with all stakeholders, guides marketing, enables the sales force to sell more, and provides vision to your employees.
          2. Brand ManagementEnsuring that your brand reflects the very best of your company requires planning support strategies.  Strategies which support and build the brand include: promotions, marketing, advertising, outreach, social media and thought leadership.  Additionally, brand management requires educating and training of internal personnel to ensure alignment of key messages delivered externally.  By constantly monitoring and measuring brand awareness, as well as customer perceptions and loyalty, you can ensure that your brand is resonating with your target audience.
          3. Brand Experience: When people see your logo, read your tagline, or think about your company, the way they feel will be influenced by brand experience.  A brand’s experience for customers is built through a wide variety of methodology.  The best methods for your brand are dependent on your target market and how you can best appeal to them.  Certainly, every company’s brand experience relies on the public perceptions, products & services themselves, as well as personal interactions with the company (which underscores why internal education is so important).
          4. 4 tiers of brand strategyBrand Strategy: A strong brand strategy is the process of pinpointing your brand’s strongest attributes and integrating them into a unique value proposition.  Brand strategy delivers on the VALUE the company has to offer its customers.  Robust strategies include tactics for communicating brand promise with supporting messages that act as proof points.  The creative elements and copy tone reinforce key messages, and give your brand depth and personality.  The brand strategy clarifies how positioning in the market as well as the relationship with customers.  For example, some business models call for high touch customer interactions while others do not.  Your brand is at the heart of your overall business strategy, and requires in-depth understanding of your customer preferences and your competitors positioning.  By deploying the brand strategy across the company, you successfully bring your unique value proposition to market.
          5. Communicate DifferentiationYour value proposition is unique, and for the best return on investment, you’ll want to ensure your clients understand exactly how you differentiate your company from all the others.  To create your company’s unique value proposition, you’ll want to develop a clear statement which captures the unique value your company, products, and services bring to your customers. 

            Robust and unique Value Propositions focus on differentiation.  Focus on the critical dimension of value where your company’s products and services excel.  By drawing attention to your unique qualities, you will become the best choice for customers who need the unique advantages your company brings. 

            A solid, unique Value Proposition answers the question of why a customer should do business with your company and not someone else.  Your Value Proposition statement hones in on the key reasons customers and prospects will buy the company’s services and products.  By appealing to the customer’s strongest decision-making drivers with an authentic value-add, you are able to represent your brand and your Value Proposition in a way that gains the right attention from your target market.
             
            Success depends on your ability to live up to the promise made through your company’s unique Value Proposition.  Done correctly, your Value Proposition will focus strategies and tactics to increase revenues and market share.
          6. Defining Your Value PropositionIdentify the unique value-add facets of your offering and the advantages that result from this value.  Create a statement that is clear and concise.  Your statement should be specific and developed with key target audiences in mind.  Ensure that in each step of the development process you FOCUS ON THE CUSTOMER, and evaluate all forms of advantages you bring to your customers including: predictive value drivers (i.e. quality), image, price, convenience, safety, and time.

          Be prepared to review, refine, rewrite, and rework your Value Proposition until is 100% accurate and instantly credible. You’ll want to find the words and talking points that resonate with your audience, and then stick with them – consistency drives results.  It’s not creative to make the same statement multiple ways.  It’s confusing.  Once you develop your unique Value Proposition and the narrative that supports it, stick to it!

           

           

           

           

          Tags: Alignment

          Marketing Leaders: Improve Campaign ROI with Shared Metrics

          Posted by Katya Girgus on Mon, Sep 23, 2013 @ 11:09 AM

          describe the image

          You’ve got a great communication strategy, dynamic marketing resources and sales team, but the full impact of these smart assets are not being fully realized with the faster ROI and increased sales you had anticipated. Statistics suggest that as much as 80% of marketing collateral spend is tossed aside and left unused by sales. At the same time, sales spends 30% of their time re-creating that same 80% of collateral to build something more relevant to their needs.

          Many times tensions and perceptions felt towards new campaigns and marketing programs across organizations are similar:

          • Marketing is frustrated: 
            • Sales is discarding or not fully utilizing the key messaging, social campaign assets and marketing collateral developed.
          • Sales is disengaged:
            • The new campaign is disconnected from field conversations, and doesn’t support what they need to sell more, gain qualified leads and win against aggressive competitors.
          • Leadership is critical of performance across the board:
            • Business initiatives are not fully realized as reflected in flat revenue performance, slow or no ROI and low customer satisfaction scores.


          Renew Perspectives Internally and Set the Ground Rules

          We all want the same thing. Marketing and Sales departments are each engaged in revenue performance, but operate from opposite ends of the spectrum to acquire and retain customers. While both are responsible to deliver measurable results, Sales wants: to validate and is incented on volume, and delivers tangible results based on action (short term). Marketing wants: to understand and is incented on market share, and delivers strategies & tactics (long term). Improve engagement of both departments and achieve a more consistent customer experience when internal rules are established and incentives are aligned through shared metrics.

          We like to think of things this way: When Sales & Marketing work together as two symbiotic parts of one dynamic system, performance increases and each has its role in contributing to the success of the other.

          • The Sales Department is Marketing’s Customer.
          • The Marketing Department is the Solution Provider for Sales.

           

          Structure for Real-Time Responsiveness

          The ever present communication channels and expectations for faster response to customers means that Sales and Marketing are the eyes, ears, voice and reflex of your organization now more than ever before. Mindful planning to marry department roles, strengths and perspectives with shared metrics at the start of your next campaign enables fluid market engagement and sustained performance by:

          • Increasing the speed to ROI
          • Empowering consistency of your brand and customer experience
          • Increasing engagement and commitment to act from your workforce and customers
          • More proactively enhances the sales conversations to reinforce company values and vision

           

          In Short, Shared Metrics is the New Black

          Approaching marketing metrics requires an outcome-based approach in which the metrics for success, or objective goals, are established first. Depending on industry, service/product category, and the target audience, marketing metrics should drive results that match company goals and takes into account the desired behavior from target audiences. Regardless, the marketing metrics chosen should measure indicator performance that is directly connected to the organization’s goals. Know how sales and marketing – both specifically and individually – are responsible in supporting your organization goals and business initiatives, and understand their unique perspectives and processes. Then develop shared metrics from the start which will complement and lift the other.

          Essentially, the more synergy there is between sales and marketing, the more efficiently company goals can be reached. Therefore, marketing metrics require a variety of transaction measures, like program-specific ROIs, as well as leading indicator metrics including brand preference and share-of-wallet. In, this way marketing initiatives and programs connect to critical business outcomes by providing internal communication and engagement, external brand awareness, and demand generation. Synergy between sales and marketing creates thought-provoking ideas for meeting customer needs, best practice customer solutions, and strengthened cross-team alliances.

          The best approach for improving campaign ROI focuses on:

          • Sharing goals and performance management
          • Understanding different viewpoints and processes
          • Giving clear description of the goals and time-line regarding the phased rollout of advanced tools and techniques to enable sales
          • Training and facilitation to empower employees to communicate the same message
          • Fair assessing and allocating of resources needed to reach the goal

          ­­

          Tags: Alignment

          Predictive Analytic's: Frame Your Brand Evolution

          Posted by Laura Ehrhardt on Thu, Sep 05, 2013 @ 11:09 AM

          magnifying glass picIt is important to create relevant, ever-evolving value propositions that can be communicated internally and externally. The best way to do this is to devise a way to track analytics, and predict the trends customers are taking.

           There are no complications, no psychic abilities are needed. All you need to do is be prepared to jump into something big.

           By big, I mean the infinite amount of data you need to access in order to use predictive analytics effectively. Your company has access to information such as what are popular search topics, keywords/problems which potential customers are looking at solutions for, what kind of products they’re looking at, etc. This list goes on. Much of it you can use to help you create your value propositions, but some of it is unnecessary.

           However, because there’s so much information out there, it’s basically un-navigable without using some form of CRM program. Using predictive analytics CRMs, you can tap into the infinite amount of data that is being processed continuously in order to pinpoint your value propositions to get the most out of your investment/campaign. There are a number of companies who provide CRMs (including IBM, SAS, Microsoft, etc.), so first you have to choose one that best fits the needs of your business’s overall objectives and budget.

           Even with the CRM’s aid, you need to have a goal before you dive into data. There are different models CRMs, utilizing predictive analytics, which can be applied to your projects depending on what you need, and how you want to focus your research:

           Predictive Models use targeted information that is already gathered to ascertain what behavior a targeted customer type will exhibit. This type of model is often used to detect fraud, based on specific patterns a customer projects (i.e. buying habits/amounts/etc.)

          Descriptive Models take a broader view of a customer’s behaviors and traits (i.e. product views/preferences, demographics, etc.) and looks at the different ways customers are connected to other customers/products. This type of models is often used in order to figure out what other types of products can be offered, as well as targeted customers’ reactions to these suggestions.

          Decision Models look at all the aspects in the decision making process to identify different scenarios in which certain decisions can be applied. This model is often used to determine the effectiveness of rules/procedures that will provide a better experience for the customer while at the same time optimize the efforts of the employees/resources.

           Using these models (separately or any combination), predictive analytics not only will help you pinpoint your Value Propositions, but will help you improve your customers’ overall experience with your company. The information you gain from the analytics will tell you: how effective your product is; how popular it is; how many people are curious about it; ways people would like to see it improved upon; how your customer feel about your company (based on what they see in press releases, what they know about the reputation of your company, etc.). The list goes on.

           Many companies are faced with the dilemma of what kind of information to process – what is the most important to focus on, what will affect the messaging more, etc. The answer: EVERYTHING, as long as it is pertinent to your market. Use the information you gain to talk to your customers more directly – find their pain points and interests in order to formulate your Value. If you see that the majority of your audience is on Facebook 12 hours out of the day, you need to get your name out there in Facebook. If you see that your customers are looking at new phones, see what kind of specifications they’re interested in to develop the next best thing.

           Quick Tips:

          • Enlist a CRM program – whether you hire a service, or purchase a program
          • Monitor the data you receive constantly.
          • Don’t be stubborn. People change their opinions by the minute. Change your messaging to reach your target audience.

           How are you using your predictive analytics? Are they helping you solve your value proposition problems?

          Tags: Alignment

          Creating and Communicating a Value Proposition That Sticks!

          Posted by Katya Girgus on Mon, Aug 12, 2013 @ 14:08 PM

          Communicating a Value Proposition that Resonates

          All companies have a value proposition, but many make the mistake of creating a value proposition that doesn’t work very well for customers.  How does this happen?  Companies become internally focused and create value propositions centered around their own goals and priorities, not on their customers’ needs.

          It’s easy to do because the phrase “value proposition” is  pervasive in B2B marketing that the meaning can be diluted, misconstrued, or defined relative to the wrong audience (e.g. internally instead of externally).  To avoid this trap, create a persuasive value proposition that addresses both the customers’ needs and your ability to fulfill them.

          A well-written, well-understood value proposition can earn you the opportunity to engage your customers in conversations about your company’s solutions.  It’s worth taking the time to get it right.

          Crafting Persuasive Customer Value Propositions

          To develop a persuasive value proposition, consider your brand and positioning as well as your customers’ values.  Positioning yourself in the market is a process of establishing and sustaining brand specific messaging in target customers’ minds.  In order to understand your positioning, you should assess and define:

          • Target Customer Characteristics
          • Essential Attributes of your Company & Products / Services
          • Points of Difference & Relative Benefits
          • Social Proof
          • Delivery & Sales Channels

          By defining these components of your value proposition, you will be able to create a value proposition that is also a conversation starter.

           “ALL BENEFITS” Value Proposition

          With this type of approach, the value proposition encompasses all benefits customers receive from a market offering whether it is a service or product.  Creating this type of message and ensuring the sales force can deliver it requires a depth of knowledge about your products and services, and how they stack up to others.  The question the value proposition must answer a useful customer question: “Why should you purchase our offerings instead of our competitors?” 

          When creating this type of value proposition, make sure you

          1. Pinpoint benefits specific to the target market
          2. Avoid benefits are points of parity
          3. Understand how the customer perceives value
          4. Enable & train the sales force to deliver the message

          “TARGETED FOCUS” Value Proposition

          A “targeted focus” value proposition communicates only one or two points-of-difference, but the magnitude of their importance delivers the greatest customer value over the long term.  This type of value proposition is backed by robust expertise on your own market offering as well as the next-best-alternative offering, customers’ preferences and requirements and the value of meeting these needs over the long-term.  It is not enough to say “Our service drives efficiency”.  This is a generic claim that everyone can make and it offers no differentiation.  When you create this value proposition, make sure you answer the most useful customer questions possible: “What is worthwhile for me to remember about your offering?”

          With a “targeted focus” value proposition, it is critical to:

          • Gather data and provide substantiation of the value of your offering
          • Focus on two points-of-difference which are of the greatest value to the customer
          • Use case histories and testimonials to provide social proof of value

          Quick Start to Creating Your Value Proposition

          • Test your value proposition with the salesforce and ask how they think competitors will reach.
          • At the start of product or service development, determine which benefits will be superior and which will be at parity.
          • Test the value proposition at each stage of development to make sure the value proposition is fulfilled.
          • Get Sales involved in the process as early on as possible to make sure they have the sales tools they need to support the sell.

          Tags: Alignment

          Align Your Sales and Marketing Communications With Synergy!

          Posted by Katya Girgus on Thu, Aug 08, 2013 @ 11:08 AM

                                                                           Creating Synergy between Marketing & Sales

          If you think of yourself as a Marketing or Sales professional, then you likely have direct experience navigating the chasm that can exist between the Marketing & Sales teams.  Even though both teams are working to achieve revenue goals and company growth, Marketing & Sales have very different approaches.

          Understanding the Differences Between Sales & Marketing

          Marketing delivers strategies and tactics while focusing on market share.  On the other hand, sales delivers tangible results based on action with incentives based on volume. Often, Marketing advocates pricing based on “value”, while Sales approaches with cost-plus pricing perspective.  The key is understanding how to bring these perspectives together in order to create a synergistic approach.

          In order to meet short-term goals, Sales really needs Marketing to increase the quality and number of leads, participate in sales calls, and create marketing materials/ sales tools to support the sales process.  Sales needs Marketing to think globally while enabling Sales to act locally.  

          At the same time, Marketing is looking to long-term goals.  To reach these objectives, Marketing really wants Sales to help eliminate wasted leads, provide feedback on customer needs & wants, utilize corporate marketing materials consistently (No DIY), and find ways to sell value, not price.

          Bringing Marketing & Sales Together

          To create synergy between Marketing & Sales, begin by understanding barriers to adoption.  Focus groups can be used to identify adoption problems internally and Customer Advisory Boards can serve the same purpose externally.  Using this data, gaps in the information flow between Marketing & Sales can be identified.  At this point, Executive Ownership is critical.  Commitment from the top-down must be communicated through multiple channels internally.  The Executive Team will want to specify short and long terms sales tools gained, hold Marketing accountable as a change agent, and challenge Sales to use a consistent selling approach using the tools provided and continuously offering feedback. Promote early wins to build grassroots support and focus on early adopters who “get it” – others will follow. 

          To drive measurable results and hold both Marketing & Sales accountable, key performance indicators (KPIs) should be established for both Marketing & Sales.  These tangible performance measurements should reflect both company goals and customer experience objectives.  To further facilitate Marketing & Sales momentum, encourage Sales to contact Marketing for help and support. Be sure to also measure Marketing participation in customer calls and strategic account planning sessions. 

          Synergized Customer Focus

          For dramatic results, keep the customer experience at the core of measuring success.  The performance measurements for a synergized Marketing & Sales team MUST parallel customer measurements and CLEARLY hold both Marketing & Sales accountable.  Enable Marketing & Sales to meet their goals by creating market-based strategies which reflect defined customer values.  Marketing’s job is to inject innovation, while Sales offers the experiences of the customers.  This will help to ensure successful Sales execution of business driven market-based strategies.  In this way, a synergized Marketing & Sales team is focused on customer needs, the value proposition and competitive strategy.

          Overall, it’s critical that  synergized Marketing & Sales team views understanding customer needs as part of the job, sees marketing and sales as complimentary processes, and works with common operating procedures for meeting customer’s needs.

          Quick Start to Improve Synergy between Marketing & Sales

          • Make sure Marketing & Sales visit customer together
          • Create Marketing & Sales forums with agendas focused on customer driven goals
          • Share goals & performance management strategy & performance
          • Enhance consistency through training

          Tags: Alignment

          Feels like the first time: Creating marketing personas.

          Posted by Joshua Wilson on Tue, Apr 02, 2013 @ 12:04 PM

          In creating a marketing persona, you are building a fictional person who represents the target clientele you want to market your services/products to. They are useful modeling tools that businesses use to help focus their sales and advertising to clients who are more likely to require their product.  In creating these personas, you can effectively curtail your marketing and spending to draw in the clients you know you want to come to your site – you wouldn’t advertise the new medical equipment you’re company designs at a daycare, for example.

                    A few principles to keep in mind while creating your marketing personas are:

          - Focus on behaviors: trying to figure out what motivates him or her and what makes up his/her goals

          - Keep it fictional, but realistic: you don't want it to be abstract, but don't use someone you actually know.

          - A picture is worth 1000 words: there's a lot more that you can get out of a picture.

          - Tell stories: stories can tell a lot more and you get a lot more detail in telling a story while making the persona memorable.

          - Focus on one or two personas to start.  

                    Not only does this help focus the target area in which you market your products, but it will also help in deciding what kind of content to create. If you are a company which creates medical equipment, for example, you would take into account the type of information that a medical professional already has on hand. You also can get a better sense of who your clients are and what makes them do what they do, as well as how they spend their time. This will help you focus your marketing strategies to where your persona would be more likely to see the advertisement. A doctor would be more likely to see an ad for your medical equipment in a medical journal before they would see it a People, for example.

                    One of the best ways in finding out this information is to interview or send surveys out to your current customers. Also, pay attention to what sites you use generate the most leads; this will tell you where your customers are spending more of their time. At the same time, try and track which posts/advertisements generate more leads: this will tell you what type of content to continue using to generate more leads. One of the most telling ways in determining your persona is in your sales – what is more popular, what draws attention, and who is interested in which product you’re selling.

          After you create your personas, make sure you distribute them to your team. They can help you to edit it and clarify different aspects of the personas.

          For help in defining your persona profiles, see our template. This will give you guidance on generating your profiles so you can focus your advertising and marketing strategy to generate more leads!

          Tags: Alignment