7 Intriguing Questions to Include in Your Prospecting Email

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Ending your first email to a prospect with a question gets their mental gears turning, demonstrates your subject matter expertise, and helps kick off a meaningful conversation.

Perhaps most importantly, it makes your message memorable. The Zeigarnik effect states that people fixate on unfinished tasks — so leaving a question dangling in your prospect’s mind causes them to think about your email long after they’ve read it.

What should you ask buyers? Great question. These seven options will help you end prospecting emails on a strong note. 

If you’re more of a visual learner, click here to jump straight to the infographic we created with 24Slides.

7 Questions to Use in Prospecting Sales Emails

1) “Would you like to learn about the opportunity I think [prospect’s competitor] is missing out on?”

Nothing is more interesting than competitive intelligence. The buyer doesn’t know if you have real insights to offer — but they’ll want to get on the phone to find out.

Citing another player in your prospect’s space also proves you’re not spraying and praying, since this email could only apply to them.

2) “I see [prospect’s company] uses [X strategy]. Why?”

Not only will you learn valuable information about why the buyer is using a specific approach, you’ll also make them wonder if you know about a better way.

3) “I see [prospect’s company] isn’t investing in [Y area]. Why not?”

This question is a variation on #2. The response will tell you whether your prospect doesn’t know about the opportunity, is unsure how to capitalize on it, or doesn’t have the resources to do anything about it.

No matter the answer, you’re in a good position to help. Prove the opportunity is worth their time, help them create a plan, or show them how your product makes it far simpler to execute.

4) “Is [likely challenge or opportunity] a priority for [prospect’s boss]?”

Use LinkedIn to discover to whom your prospect reports (or to whom their boss reports). Do some digging to identify their top initiatives — maybe they wrote a blog post discussing their current focus, spoke at a webinar about their success in an area, or belong to a niche community.

Use this intel to craft your question. Your prospect will be eager to learn if you can help them impress their boss.

5) “Do you want to get on a call with [expert within your company] to discuss [prospect’s business focus]?”

Offer to connect your recipient with an internal expert. For example, if she works in Sales Operations, you might write:

“Our Sales Ops senior manager recently built a new lead scoring program from the ground up. Do you want to get on a call with him to discuss Clearize’s lead score strategy?”

You’ll immediately distinguish yourself from the other reps trying to win time on her calendar to talk about their product — unlike them, you’re adding value from the get-go.

Of course, you won’t be able to do this for every deal, so save it for important accounts and hard-to-reach prospects.

6) “Have you considered trying [X technique]?”

If you know of an easy fix for your prospect, suggest it in your first email. They’ll feel indebted to you for your help — which starts the relationship off on strong footing and makes them likelier to listen to your future suggestions.

Wondering what this might look like in practice? Suppose you sell an event hosting platform. Your prospect runs two-plus events per week, but you’ve noticed he doesn’t promote them beyond email. You might ask, “Have you considered advertising your webinars on Twitter? One of my clients doubled attendance with less than $500 of sponsored tweets.”

7) “Should I save a [seat, ticket] for you?”

My coworker received an email letting him know a webinar he may be interested in was nearly full. The salesperson asked if he’d like her to save him a seat.

Although my coworker wasn’t planning on attending, discovering how popular the webinar was changed his mind.

Use this question to incite the fear of missing out in your prospect. The offer doesn’t need to be about a webinar — you could ask if they’d like a spot saved in your organization’s networking event, online community, conference, workshop, and so on.

Once you’ve made the connection, you can learn more about the buyer’s needs and objections and craft an appropriate pitch.

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HubSpot CRM


Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales

12 Tools That'll Keep You Productive Morning, Noon & Night

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When I need to have a very productive day, I tell myself it’s going to be easy.

I’ll just wake up early, grab a big cup of coffee, and then begin powering through my to-do list. Maybe I’ll break for a meal, or a stretch, or a quick conversation with a coworker. But I’ll truck on, energy unwavering until bedtime, where I’ll promptly fall asleep for eight, wonderful, uninterrupted hours of sleep.

Cool fantasy, self. Real life is rarely — if ever — that picture-perfect. Our bodies aren’t designed to operate at a constant 100% efficiency level. So if you want to be more productive throughout the day, you’re better off relegating certain activities to certain times, and devoting yourself to doing those activities within those windows. Download our complete guide here for more tips on improving your productivity.

And to make sure you get the right things done at the right times of day, you can lean on a plethora of different free or relatively cheap apps and tools. Below, we’ve collected some of the highest-rated and often-recommended productivity apps for each part of the day. Try them out and see if they work for you.

15 of the Best Productivity Tools for All-Day Efficiency

Morning

1) Headspace

Price: Free, with subscriptions available on iPhone, Android, Web

Starting your day off with a quick meditation session can be a great way to gear up for the day — even scientists say so. According to a 2012 study, people who meditated “stayed on tasks longer and made fewer task switches, as well as reporting less negative feedback after task performance.”

Sold … but not sure how to get started? We recommend downloading Headspace. It gives you 10 free guided meditation sessions, and if you end up getting hooked, you can sign up for a monthly subscription.

2) Prompts or Writing Challenge

Price: Prompts is $2.99 on iPhone | Writing Challenge is $1.89 on Android

You may have heard about the benefits of writing something — anything — in the morning. But actually making time for morning freewriting a reality can be a challenge. How do you actually find something to write about when you’ve barely had time to make your coffee?

By downloading a writing prompts app, of course. Prompts and Writing Challenge are both great options. They give you a jumping-off point for a piece, and then let you dive right into writing. Prompts is especially cool for folks who like to track their habits to stay motivated because it offers some basic analytics for you to analyze your writing habit progress.

3) Todoist

Price: Free, with premium subscriptions available on iPhone, Android, Web

You don’t have to actually write down your to-do lists in the morning, but you should definitely take a look at them before you dive into your work. And if your to-do list is cluttered and confusing, you’ll end up losing precious time to reorganizing and re-prioritizing it.

To prevent that from happening, I’d highly suggest a tool like Todoist. HubSpot Senior Marketing Manager Lindsay Kolowich introduced me to it, and it’s completely transformed the way I keep track of what I need to accomplish. It allows you to add deadlines and labels to each list item, then automatically sorts your whole to-do list by what you have to accomplish that day. That can help you keep you on top of what you need to accomplish on a given day, and prevents you from getting sidetracked by down-the-road projects.

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4) Jell

Price: Free, with premium subscriptions available on iPhone, Android, Web

After you set your own to-do list, chances are, you’ll need to check in with your teammates about what’s on their plates for the day. One super easy way to do this — especially when you have a remote team — is by using an app called Jell.

Instead of calling a 30-minute meeting to debrief on what everyone’s doing, you simply fill out a form in Jell that gets sent to the rest of your team. (If you’re using Slack, it has a handy integration to have these messages posted in there, too.)

This way, you can quickly get on the same page with your team, and then move on to the most important work of your day. Here’s what Jell looks like in action:

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5) Feedly

Price: Free for desktop, iPhone, and Android

Before I get started on my work every day, I like to check in on what my peer influencers are writing or talking about in the marketing and technology space. With Feedly, you can add a feed of the latest blog posts and articles from your favorite publishers to get inspired and informed to kick off your day. I even set Feedly as my homepage so I have to check it out. Here’s what it looks like:

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Afternoon

6) Do

Price: $10/month on iPhone and Web

Fast-forward a few hours, and chances are, you’ll have a block of meetings on your plate. (That is, after all, the best time of day to have them.) But if you’re going to take time out of your day for meetings, they better be productive. There’s nothing worse than wasting a bunch of people’s time on something that could have been handled over email.

Yep — a tool can help you with that too. The Do app can help you keep yours more organized and actionable — that way, no one’s wasting time sitting in unnecessary meetings. If you’re looking for a free option, Solid (available on Web only) is a great choice.

7) Stormboard

Price: Free, with premium subscriptions available on Web

When your attention starts to wane, it can be hard to get things done. For many people, that tends to happen in the afternoon.

Turns out, that can be a good thing: When you’re less focused, you have more room to be creative. So the afternoon is a great time for brainstorming, collaboration, and breaking through cognitive barriers.

If you and your team are feeling particularly creative one afternoon, a great tool to consider using is Stormboard. It allows everyone to easily brainstorm and collaborate — even if they aren’t in the same room. Then, you can prioritize the best ideas to be put into action at a later date.

8) Unstuck

Price: Free on iPhone, Android, Web

But what if you’re not focused or feeling creative? You’ve got to get work done, but you’re feeling … stuck.

Unstuck can help. It’s an app that acts like an in-the-moment personal coach. It’ll ask you a series of questions to unearth what exactly is blocking you, and then give you steps to get through that block. Having this “outside” perspective can be a game-changer to breaking through some seriously inhibiting time-sucks.

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9) StayFocusd and Freedom

Price: StayFocusd is free | Freedom is less than $3 per month after a free trial for iPhone

StayFocusd and its mobile app Freedom can help you stay focused (get it?) throughout the day, by blocking access to distracting websites for certain periods of time. So whether it’s Twitter, Reddit, or YouTube, you can customize certain periods of time when you’re allowed to be distracted — and when you’re not. As the day goes on, you might be more tempted to slack off and lose your steam, and these apps will help keep you going with a reminder — and a countdown clock:

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You should still take breaks throughout the day — but instead of getting sucked into procrastinating online, get up from your desk and take a walk. More on that next.

10) Daily Water

Price: Daily Water is free for iPhone and Android

When you’re in the zone getting work done, it can sometimes be hard to remember to take care of yourself. Daily Water is a handy app that reminds you to take a break, stand up, and rehydrate. You can set the app to remind you to drink water during different intervals of the day, so you can schedule breaks for in between projects to stay healthy, focused, and productive all day long.

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11) Quartz or Inside

Price: Quartz is free on iPhone | Inside is free on iPhone, Android, Web

When you’ve been in the weeds all day getting important projects done, it can be tempting to take some time to catch up on what you missed in the news.

The trouble is, those reading breaks can sometimes get unruly. That 15 minutes you thought would be enough turn into 45 minutes of reading, and you’re suddenly late for your train home.

To feel in-the-know about the day without breaking your productivity streak, try catching up via your favorite news summary app. Mine is from Quartz: a chat-themed news summary app that’s quickly become a staple of my phone’s home screen. A few quick clicks, and I’m on my way to catching a ride home.

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Night

12) 7 Minute Workout

Price: Free on iPhone, Android

Everyone has their favorite time of day to work out, but science says that your lung function peaks around 5 p.m. So if you want to squeeze in a quick workout sometime in your day, right before dinner might be the trick.

If you don’t have a regular routine or are just trying to do something fast, I’d recommend checking out J&J’s 7 Minute Workout app. You can pick from its programs, or design one of your own — and all can be done in less than 30 minutes.

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13) Podcasts or Stitcher

Price: Podcasts is free on iPhone; Sticher is free on iPhone, Android, Web

Chances are, you’ll have spent most of your day looking at things. Reading on the computer. Watching slides on the projector. Scanning news on your phone. So when you leave work, you should strengthen one of your other senses, such as your listening comprehension. It’s an underdeveloped skill — especially in adults — but it can have a big impact on our professional and personal lives.

If you want to strengthen your listening skills, try playing a few podcast episodes on your phone during your commute home. If you have an iPhone, you have a Podcasts app already built-in. Otherwise, you can access them through Stitcher.

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14) Grid Diary or Journey

Price: Grid Diary is free with premium options on iPhone | Journey is Free on Android, Chrome App

Many might think that journaling is just a teenage pastime, but it has many benefits for people of any age.

If you don’t love the idea of actually penning your ideas and experiences to paper, you can use Grid Diary or Journey. Both allow you to not only capture written recaps of your day, but also add photos to your entries. Plus, they both have built-in prompts — so even on the most hectic of days, you can distill some insights for your future self.

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15) Sleep Genius

Price: $4.99 on iPhone; Free with in-app purchases on Android

Finally. You’ve made it through the day and kept yourself productive. You take a moment to celebrate … but then, you realize that tomorrow’s to-do list is already jam-packed. You need a good night’s sleep, and you need it now.

Sleep Genius might be the cure. The app has built-in relaxation techniques and gentle alarms to wake you up at a natural moment in your sleep cycle, helping make sure you feel rested come morning.

After all, if you’re feeling sluggish the next day, even the best apps might not be effective. (But that cup of coffee might do the trick.)

What are your favorite productivity tools for different times of day? Share with us in the comments.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Source: 12 Tools That'll Keep You Productive Morning, Noon & Night
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

The Decline of Organic Facebook Reach & How to Outsmart the Algorithm

If you’ve been managing a Facebook Page over the past few years, you’ve likely noticed a drop in how many of your fans have been viewing and interacting with your organic posts. This decline in organic Facebook reach came to a head in 2014, when marketers started picking up on (and complaining about) the situation in droves, prompting a response from Facebook’s VP of Advertising Technology, Brian Boland.

“Over the past few months, I’ve read articles and answered questions from many people who are concerned about declines in organic reach for their Facebook Pages,” Boland wrote in June of 2014.

He continued, “My colleagues and I at Facebook understand that this has been a pain point for many businesses, and we’re committed to helping you understand what’s driving this change … ”

The two main reasons Boland cited for the organic reach decline? First, there’s simply too much content being published on Facebook, making visibility in the News Feed increasingly competitive. Second, Facebook is deliberately trying to show people the content that is most relevant to them, as opposed to surfacing all the content available.

The good news in all of this is that there’s a lot you can do to counteract these changes, like being more selective about what you publish, paying attention to when you publish, and putting money behind your posts (a.k.a. “boosting” them).

Download our free Facebook guide here for more tips on maximizing your Facebook reach.

Before we dive deeper into how you can improve your Facebook Page’s organic reach, let’s explore exactly what happened during the Great Organic Reach Decline of 2014, and how Facebook decides what content gets surfaced nowadays.

How (And Why) Facebook Reach Has Declined Over Time

Facebook defines organic reachas “how many people you can reach for free on Facebook by posting to your Page.” Prior to 2012, that number used to be much, much higher than it is now.

From the moment “Fan Pages” launched in 2007, anyone could create a Page for their company or organization, start collecting fans, and post unlimited messages to their fan bases with the assumption that they would see those messages. But when 2012 rolled around, Page managers learned that only a fraction of their Facebook fans — 16% on average — were seeing their Page posts in their News Feeds. And that fraction has only gotten smaller and smaller since.

A study from Edgerank Checker found that between February 2012 and March 2014, organic reach for the average Facebook Page dropped from 16% to 6.5%. Research from Social@Ogilvy, meanwhile, suggests that for Pages with more than 500,000 Likes, organic reach could be as low as 2%.

Based on the figures above, that means a Page with 10,000 fans could expect just 650 of them to actually see that Page’s posts in their News Feeds. For a Page with 1 million fans, about 20,000 would end up seeing posts (based on the 2% figure).

SocialFlow analyzed over 3,000 posts by publishers on Facebook and found that organic reach dropped 42% between January and May 2016.

Then, later in 2016, Facebook adjusted its News Feed algorithm again — to further prioritize content from friends and family over Pages. In the blog post announcing the algorithm change, Facebook Engineering Director Lars Backstrom warned that Pages could anticipate a dip in organic reach — which could leave reach lower than that earlier 2% estimate, in some cases.

After this algorithm adjustment, SocialFlow adjusted the decline in organic reach — which had dropped further. Between January and July 2016, publishers saw a 52% decline in organic reach on Facebook.

Fewer people seeing your Page’s organic posts on Facebook means fewer clicks, comments, and shares. And having fewer of those interactions means fewer conversions, leads, and customers. Understandably, this has annoyed the crap out of many a Facebook Page manager. So why would Facebook decide to decrease organic post visibility in the first place?

We already touched on Facebook’s official response to this question in the introduction: There are simply too many Pages producing too much content for too many fans, which means competition for visibility on the News Feed is high. What’s more, Facebook is trying to make sure people are only seeing the best content — the stuff that is relevant to them.

Some publishers have cracked the code when it comes to engagement on Facebook: by publishing and broadcasting video. (And we’ll get into that later in the post.) But many in the marketing world suspect that Facebook had (and still has) an ulterior motive: to get people to start spending more on ads.

More Money = More Reach

As Facebook has evolved into more of a paid marketing platform than an organic one, Page managers are realizing they’re now expected to pay for ads yet again to reach those newly acquired Fans, even if those Fans have seemingly elected to see a brand’s posts by liking their Page in the first place.

In a 2014 interview with Digiday, James Del (who was the head of now-defunct Gawker’s content studio at the time) summed up the general sentiment:

Facebook may be pulling off one of the most lucrative grifts of all time; first, they convinced brands they needed to purchase all their Fans and Likes — even though everyone knows you can’t buy love; then, Facebook continues to charge those same brands money to speak to the Fans they just bought.”

Of course, Facebook has denied that this is the case. Boland even had a section in his 2014 organic reach update post titled, “Is organic reach dropping because Facebook is trying to make more money?” Boland’s response:

No. Our goal is always to provide the best experience for the people that use Facebook. We believe that delivering the best experiences for people also benefits the businesses that use Facebook. If people are more active and engaged with stories that appear in News Feed, they are also more likely to be active and engaged with content from businesses.”

From Facebook’s perspective, it’s simply not an ideal user experience to flood the News Feed with posts just because a Page has lots of Likes and is publishing prolifically.

Nowadays, Facebook is encouraging marketers to look at their fan bases as a way to make paid advertising more effective rather than using it as a free broadcast channel. Additionally, Facebook says you should assume organic reach will eventually arrive at zero. So, if you really want to reach your target audience on Facebook, you’ll need to supplement your organic efforts with some paid advertising.

Additionally, Facebook advises marketers to expect things to keep changing, and often times for the better. Facebook has never been stagnant in terms of innovation, so no marketer can figure out a formula and then stick with it forever.

That being said, knowing how Facebook currently surfaces organic content in the News Feed can be helpful for understanding the broader Facebook marketing ecosystem.

How Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm Works

When Facebook first launched News Feed back in 2006, the algorithm was pretty basic. Different post formats were assigned different point values — so a post with just text might be worth one point, while a post with a link in it might be worth two points, and so on. By multiplying the post format point value by the number of people interacting with a given post, Facebook could generate a ranking system for determining the order in which posts would appear.

As the years rolled on, the News Feed algorithm evolved to factor in the recency of posts, as well as the relationship between the person doing the posting and the person interacting with said post. This iteration of the algorithm was known as EdgeRank. But in 2011, Facebook abandoned EdgeRank for a more complex algorithm that incorporates machine learning.

That machine learning-based algorithm is what’s responsible for surfacing content on your News Feed today. Unlike its predecessors, which assigned generic point values to post formats, the current algorithm adapts to individual user preferences. So, for example, if you never, ever, interact with photos in your News Feed, Facebook’s algorithm will pick up on that and show you fewer photos over time.

On the other side of the coin, Facebook has identified for marketers the content formats that drive engagement and sharing — native and live videos. Facebook ranks live videos higher in the News Feed, as well as videos with higher watch and completion rates and videos that are clicked on or unmuted as signals of viewer interest.

Ultimately, there are thousands of factors that inform Facebook’s algorithm, which range from using trigger words that indicate important events (e.g., “congratulations”) to whether or not you’ve actually clicked a link in a post before liking it.

Facebook’s end goal here is to have its algorithm match News Feed content to the individual needs and interests of each and every user. As Facebook’s Chief Product Officer, Chris Cox, told Time in a 2015 interview:

If you could rate everything that happened on Earth today that was published anywhere by any of your friends, any of your family, any news source…and then pick the 10 that were the most meaningful to know today, that would be a really cool service for us to build. That is really what we aspire to have News Feed become.”

How to Deal With Declining Organic Reach

Now that you’ve got a better understanding of how Facebook surfaces content, let’s explore some tips for dealing with the decline in organic Page reach.

1) Be more selective about what you post.

Marketers have to switch gears from untargeted, frequent publishing to targeted, selective publishing. The goal is no longer to spray and pray — it’s to get as much interaction from a single post as possible. Each post published to a brand Page can be targeted to a specific audience regardless of whether or not it’s sponsored, which may improve overall interaction with that post among other people who are likely to find it more interesting and relevant.

2) Remind your Fans they can go to Pages Feed on the left sidebar of their News Feed to see content from Pages they’ve Liked.

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3) Educate your super fans that they can update their notification settings from your Page.

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4) Encourage fans to engage with your posts when they do see them, so they see more of them.

This can be as simple as adding a reminder to “Please Like and share” at the end of your posts.

5) Share engaging videos on Facebook.

Videos on Facebook are engaging and make visitors more likely to stop, watch, and maybe even unmute when they spot them in the News Feed. Use videos with captions, animations, and engaging visuals to draw in Facebook users’ attention.

According to a recent study by quintly, native Facebook videos have an 186% higher engagement rate and are shared more than 1000% more than videos linked to from other hosting sites. Take the extra steps to publish videos for the platforms you’re promoting them on for best results — distribute your content on Facebook, YouTube, and other social platforms you’re trying to leverage.

6) Broadcast on Facebook Live.

If you’re not already doing so, start broadcasting on Facebook Live. Users spend 3X more time watching live broadcasts than traditional videos on the platform, so start experimenting with live content if you’re concerned about your organic reach. Advertise what you’re doing on different platforms to generate buzz, broadcast for several minutes (at least) to help your broadcast get surfaced in the News Feed, and share authentic, behind-the-scenes content to attract and interest your viewers.

To learn more about Facebook Live broadcasting strategies, check out our free guide.

7) Re-allocate your time and effort toward your owned assets.

Since the only constant with Facebook (and the larger digital media landscape) is change, it’s always safest to focus on the digital channels you entirely own and control — your website and blog. Spend the vast majority of your effort creating content (blog posts and long-form content such as ebooks, case studies, or videos) that will continue to garner inbound traffic, leads, and customers long after they’re first created. If you have time and budget, share those assets to Facebook for additional reach.

8) Start treating Facebook like a paid ad platform.

If you’re going to pay-to-play, get your targeting right. Once you’ve built an audience of relevant fans, focus on advertising the content assets you’ve created — blog posts, ebooks, etc. — and use ads to amplify them to targeted users. Remember: It’s likely only a matter of time before organic reach hits zero, so you might as well hone your paid strategy now, which brings me to one final recommendation …

9) If you do advertise, go beyond the basics.

Facebook’s targeting capabilities have gotten considerably better over the past few years. You can now pay to reach your ideal persona based on demographics, interests, web behavior, and more. Additionally, there are a bunch of tools and features that can help you maximize the effectiveness of your campaigns, including:

To learn more about how you can improve your Facebook Page’s reach, check out our free guide: How to Attract Customers with Facebook.

What are your thoughts and experiences with Facebook’s organic reach decline? How have you adjusted your inbound marketing strategy accordingly?

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2014 and has been updated and for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

Does Influencer Marketing Actually Work? A HubSpot Blog Experiment

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I ran my first experiment in influencer marketing in middle school. My mom had bought me a pair of practical (her words) but hideous (my words) sneakers — and insisted I wear them to gym class.

Believing — maybe rightfully — that my reputation hinged on having cool footwear, I convinced my mom to buy a second pair as a gift for my friend Kelly’s birthday. Kelly was the coolest girl in sixth grade. Everything she did turned into a trend.

Kelly wore her sneakers to gym, probably at behest of her mom. Next thing I knew, everyone was rocking my ugly shoes. I was trendy, not lame. The experiment was a total success.

I didn’t think about influencer marketing again until I joined HubSpot. On the blog team, we’re always looking for ways to scale traffic — which gets continually harder as your audience grows. We’ve already captured much of the “low-hanging fruit.” Partnering with influencers could help us reach new readers while bringing our current ones fresh insights and promoting worthy thought leaders. Win-win-win.

When I started experimenting with influencer marketing strategies for the HubSpot Sales Blog seven months ago, I was operating under a few key assumptions:

  1. If one influencer is good, 23 is better.
  2. A huge name on a standard quality blog post is better than an unknown name on a great quality post.
  3. Partnering with influencers is an efficient and scalable way to grow traffic.

Turns out, those assumptions were mostly — even completely — false.

Experiment #1: Is Influencer Marketing a Silver Bullet?

Let’s go back to November 2016, when I set out to create a blog post that received 10,000 views or more in its first 30 days.

For context, average views per Sales Blog post for November was 3,180.

I decided to create an influencer round-up (a type of post gathers quotes from multiple influencers on a single theme or topic). Harnessing the reach of some of the biggest names in sales through their social shares would surely push the post over the 10K line.

Since there are relatively few sales influencers, and their expertise is pretty varied, I chose a broad theme for the round-up post: How to Have Your Best Sales Year Yet. Each month received its own section and covered a different aspect of selling, from qualifying to giving demos.

Then it was time to get the influencers on board. First, I identified 30 sales experts and thought leaders, and wrote a personalized email to each one.

Twenty-three influencers agreed to participate. That’s approximately 77% of the 30 I approached — a great response rate that was likely bolstered by the personalized emails.

Next, I wrote custom questions for each influencer based on their area of expertise. I collected their interview answers for the post through a combination of phone and email interviews. I also asked each influencer to commit to promoting the post on LinkedIn and Facebook, as well as their email newsletter if they had one.

After the post went live, I created custom tracking URLs for each influencer to use for their share(s). This step allowed me to see exactly how much traffic every individual was responsible for. I also created a custom image for social media each influencer with a quote from their interview:

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From start to finish, the entire post took me roughly 18 hours. A standard, non-influencer post takes me 45 minutes to an hour. That’s a big difference in time.

The Results:

The post ended up getting around 9,100 views in the first 30 days. The influencers were responsible for 4,143 of those views — each sharing their link on Facebook and Twitter within three days of the launch date, with several sharing the link on LinkedIn as well.

Sounds like our influencer strategy worked, right? Well, not quite.

When I dug deeper, I discovered the influencer traffic wasn’t distributed evenly. In fact, one person was responsible for 77% of all influencer traffic.

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Some influencers drove less than 20 views each.

These results killed my first assumption: If one influencer is good, 23 is better.

Experiment #2: Is Targeted Influencer Marketing a Silver Bullet?

With this in mind, I had two goals for the next post in my influencer marketing experiment:

  • Feature as many “heavy hitters” as possible.
  • Feature the influencers’ products — giving them a clear incentive to promote the piece beyond being quoted as a thought leader.

I chose The 20 Most Highly-Rated Sales Books of All Time as the theme, since it would enable me to satisfy both criteria. I sent an email to each author with a custom URL and a polite request for them to share it.

The Results:

All in all, the influencers drove around 5,700 views. Guess who was responsible for 60% of those views? The same influencer who was responsible for 77% of the traffic for the first post.

It’s not surprising this influencer is such a reliable source of traffic. He has more than 1.7 million Facebook fans. A mere 0.002% of them clicked on the link to the HubSpot Sales Blog.

What is surprising is that the other influencers are driving such little traffic. It takes roughly the same amount of time to get a quote from the other influencers as this superstar one, but the results are completely disproportional.

Experiment #3: Looking for a Scalable Solution

Is the solution to concentrate solely on massive influencers? Unfortunately, there aren’t enough out there in the sales space.

What if we skipped the time-consuming process of picking a theme, finding experts, reaching out to them, developing questions, transcribing and editing their answers, and putting everything together into a post? What if I started with content that already existed, cutting out the creation process entirely?

I started handpicking influencers based on their network size and asking to publish their original content and/or repurpose some of their existing content — along with a social share, of course.

This strategy requires much less time. Each post would receive fewer page views, but I’d be able to produce more in the same amount of time — meaning we’d drive more overall traffic.

It’s also great for the influencers. They’ve already done the hard work of content creation; now they can sit back and enjoy its amplification. We send their posts out to our 50,000-plus email subscribers and give them the option of adding in-line links and a CTA to their website or virtual offers.

I started this experiment with an excerpt of a book from a well-known author, who has a sizable audience.

The Results:

The post got 2,143 views — and 1,200 of those came from the HubSpot Sales Blog email subscribers. Because the author didn’t use the tracking URL I sent her, I can’t say definitively how many views her Facebook and LinkedIn posts generated, although it’s likely around 300. Not that impressive.

We see similar results whenever we publish posts for “the name” versus the content. If the writing isn’t relevant, insightful, or helpful, it doesn’t seem to matter who’s got the byline — the post tends to strike out.

There goes my second assumption: A huge name on a standard quality blog post is better than an unknown name on a great quality post.

Experiment #4: Content First, Influencer Second

With that in mind, I decided to focus on content first, influencer second. I looked for sales experts with unique perspectives and ideas and largely ignored the size of their audience.

A sales leader I found on LinkedIn is a perfect example. He’s not a recognizable name, but he’s built a solid following (almost 10,000 followers) by consistently posting entertaining, helpful articles on LinkedIn.

His posts we’ve published get an average of 4,600 views.

Tom Niesen, CEO of Acuity Training, belongs in this category as well. He wrote a post about upfront contracts that generated roughly 6,000 views before Sandler Training shared it on social and drove 1,000 more.

These partnerships might not create one massive traffic spike, but they’re lightweight for me to manage, generate content I’d be happy to share with our readers no matter who wrote it, and are a scalable way to work with influencers to produce content that consistently performs above average.

My third assumption: Partnering with influencers is an efficient and scalable way to grow traffic — still true, if it’s the right influencer.

3 Influencer Marketing Takeaways

It turns out influencer marketing has gotten a bit more complex since middle school. After running these four experiments, here are my three main takeaways.

1) If you’re trying to drive traffic, use your time and energy to get one major influencer on board rather than five to 10 mid-level ones.

An influencer’s impact depends on both their audience size and engagement — you can get similar results from an influencer with tons of followers and low engagement and one with a medium following but crazy-high engagement.

I recommend looking at the influencer’s average Facebook post performance. If they’re receiving 600-1000+ reactions and 500+ shares on any given post, they’re probably a major influencer. Validate this by giving them a dedicated tracking URL to share and seeing how much traffic they drive.

2) That being said, quality still matters.

Weak content rarely performs well even with a “big name.”

When evaluating content for the Sales Blog, I ask myself these questions:

  • Are the ideas relevant?
  • Have we covered this material in other posts?
  • Does the author give enough explanation, detail, and instruction that the reader can immediately apply the concepts?
  • If they make a controversial argument, do they sufficiently back it up with research?
  • Is the post engaging from beginning to end?

If the answers aren’t all “yes,” then I’ll ask the author to edit the piece.

3) Prioritizing content leads to posts that get traffic on their own merits.

I’m proud of our readers. They’re not star-struck — if a post is great, they read it and share it, regardless of the byline.

Ultimately, our best “hack” for growing traffic? Publishing great content. That’s an assumption I’m happy to operate under.

How does your content team approach influencer marketing? Let us know in the comments.

Intro to Lead Gen

Source: Does Influencer Marketing Actually Work? A HubSpot Blog Experiment
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

3 Ways Your Qualifying Questions Are Destroying Your Buyer's Trust

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Your time is valuable. Every precious minute you spend with a prospect who will never be a viable buyer is a minute you’ve wasted. You need to qualify prospects to make sure they’re serious, not just price shopping or browsing.

The problem is that empowered prospects are impatient with your qualifying questions. They’ve done some research and are talking with you to get their own questions answered. Some of your questions might seem intrusive or premature. HubSpot Research’s study on buyer perceptions revealed there’s a wide gap between your sales process and your prospect’s buying process.

To gather the necessary information without alienating your prospect, you have to strike a delicate balance between understanding their needs and qualifying their ability to purchase. If you flub this balance, you might lose the deal. The number one thing buyers want sellers to do differently is provide information and answer questions in a relevant and timely manner. If you’re perceived as doing anything less, buyers begin to question your trustworthiness.

As you work to qualify prospects and protect your time, avoid these three mistakes.

1) Asking purely self-serving questions

Your questions about the prospect’s needs are welcome and appreciated. Conversely, questions about the prospect’s ability to buy seem self-serving, especially if they come in rapid-fire succession.

There are, of course, certain things you need to know. Is this the decision maker? Who else will be involved in making the decision? What’s the timeline? What’s the budget? What’s the current solution? What other options are being considered?

There’s no shame in needing this information. But the way you ask matters a great deal. Questions that are buyer-focused signal that you care about the prospect. Questions that seem process-focused make the buyer feel marginalized. To get these details without seeming untrustworthy:

  • Explain the purpose for your questions in a way that shows prospects your desire to help them. Say something like, “I know your time is very valuable, and I have just a few questions that will ensure the best possible attention to your needs.”
  • Mix up your questions. Start with a broad, open-ended question to understand the prospect’s needs. You’ll get lots of insight and may even get some of your qualifying questions answered, too. Your opening question will sound something like this: “Let’s get started by talking about your current business needs. What’s going on that led to your interest in (our product)?”
  • Combine your questions so there are fewer of them. Try “Tell me about the process and where you are in your process for making a decision about this,” or “When it comes to all the variables like price, timeline, decision criteria, and such, what are the ideal outcomes you’re looking for?”

2) Being inflexible

True story: At a large, well-known software solutions provider, SDRs are only paid when they set appointments with the true decision maker who has budget authority and final say. A sure-thing purchase in the high six figures was recently lost when an SDR refused to set up a next-steps meeting with a VP, insisting the CEO would have to be present. She was unwilling to accept the VP’s explanation the CEO would take his recommendation and never, under any circumstances, met directly with vendors. This VP went from being a rabid fan of the software to a bitterly disappointed customer of the competition.

This is a classic case of process interfering with progress.

If your processes require you to ascertain where the prospect is located, how much the prospect will likely spend, the number of users the prospect is considering, or other bucketing information, consider how this sounds to the prospect. People want to be treated with dignity, not sorted.

Sellers also lose trust when they’re unable to answer basic technical questions and insist on setting an appointment with someone else. This happens, for example, when SDRs push for demos with the technical team and an account manager. To buyers who only want to get their questions answered, this often seems like a ploy to ensnare them in a thinly veiled sales pitch.

Strive to answer the prospect’s questions in a timely manner and provide basic information without requiring a full demo. Don’t let internal roadblocks stop you from closing deals.

3) Implying someone’s not worth your time

There’s an inherent problem with the question, “Are you the decision maker?”

It suggests that you can’t be bothered with someone who is not a decision maker. For a prospect who has been appointed as information gatherer, it may suggest that you’re about to cut them off without giving them what they need.

Buyers often answer in partial truths. Some don’t want to admit their lack of authority. Others have been asked to stand in for the decision maker at this early stage and will represent themselves that way until it’s truly time for a decision. Increasingly, committees of decision makers are appointed but not revealed to sellers until absolutely necessary. It’s not uncommon to have layers of decision making — the person you speak to first truly is the decision maker, but only for this phase of the process. And so on.

This question really doesn’t do you much good. You risk offending the prospect and operating on incorrect information. Asking someone about their own authority builds barriers between you and makes it more difficult to establish mutual trust.

Instead, treat the prospect like the ultimate decision maker. Demonstrate that you’re on the same side and it’s normal and expected for others to be involved. Ask, “Who else should we keep in the loop as we proceed, and how can I make that easy for you?”

If you correct these three errors, you can qualify prospects without offending them or making them feel like you only care about getting their money.

HubSpot CRM

Source: 3 Ways Your Qualifying Questions Are Destroying Your Buyer's Trust
blog.hubspot.com/sales

How to Avoid Burnout at Work: 7 Strategies from HubSpot’s Manager of Culture

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Doesn’t it seem like we don’t go a day without hearing about employee burnout — mostly what a problem it is?

In a survey conducted last year by Morar Consulting, 95% of human resources professionals blamed the loss of good employees on job burnout. Headlines call it a “crisis.” Type the words “employee burnout” into the Google search bar, and one of the autocomplete phrases likely ends with, “is becoming a huge problem.” And yet, despite all the research pointing to how bad it is — for reasons ranging from physical health to how much employers lose on turnover because of it — it continues to be a huge problem.

But what are you supposed to do about it?

Many of us recognize these patterns in friends and family, but rarely ask that question of ourselves or, sometimes, our employees. So many people are afraid to take time for themselves until it’s too late and we reach — you guessed it — burnout status. Download our free guide here for more interviewing and screening tips to build  your team.

That’s why I decided to enlist the help of an expert: HubSpot’s Manager of Culture and Experience, Tamara Lilian. I asked her about the many ways her team goes above and beyond to prevent employee burnout here — and, perhaps even more important, how employees and employers everywhere can put them into practice in their own environments.

So, what did we learn? Read on to find out — or listen to our interview with Lilian by pressing “play” below.

How to Avoid Burnout at Work

For Employers and Managers

1) Learn how to recognize signs of burnout.

This tip applies more to individual managers than it does to employers as a whole. When workloads are at a peak for everyone, and there’s plenty of stress to go around, it can be difficult to remember to observe what — and how — others around us are doing. And when it comes to signs of burnout, it’s often difficult for people to recognize them even within themselves.

That’s why it’s so important for managers to be able to recognize them — and take the necessary actions to address and resolve them. And while that can be tough for new managers, Lilian says, with some knowledge and information, it’s certainly not impossible.

“We’re stepping up our manager training, and we’re working on trainings to support them with their teams,” she explains. That includes things like knowing how to manage workloads in a way that mitigates burnout before it even happens, as well as supporting employees during their time off.

Actionably, what does that mean? To start, if you have people on your team who are particularly overeager to tackle things, recognize that it’s a great attitude to have, but check in regularly to make sure that person isn’t biting off more than she can chew. That way, you’re working to manage her workload in a way that prevents burnout.

And while employees should also be encouraged to take time off when they need it, make sure they know that they should truly be offline during their times out of the office. For that reason, it’s fair to request as much advanced notice as necessary, so you can work together to make sure there’s a support system in place at the office that can allow that person to fully disconnect.

2) Set the tone with a company (or team) culture code.

Here at HubSpot, we have a Culture Code, a document created to represent our people, culture, and values. It was written by CTO and Co-founder Dharmesh Shah with the mentality that, to build the best company, he would build it much like an engineer builds a product with code.

But the keys here are the three aforementioned things that the Culture Code was built to support: people, culture, and values. And no matter how big or small your team or company, you can still build a “code” guide the way your team operates. In fact, there are a few things from HubSpot’s own that can be applied to a number of environments, says Lilian. These are things like:

Transparency

“We share everything internally, from executive leadership meeting decks, to finances, to board meetings,” Lilian explains. “That creates trust, which in turn makes people feel valued.”

One easy way to add more transparency to your team or company culture is to always add context to major changes or decisions, especially when they impact the things your employees work on. If there’s a sudden pivot, explain why, and acknowledge that it’s sudden.

Trust

“Speaking of trust,” says Lilian, “in the Culture Code, we have a three-word policy: use good judgment. There’s no employee handbook you receive on Day One, because we put an enormous amount of trust in our employees.”

Showing that you trust your employees can manifest itself in a number of ways, but a big one is to stop micromanaging. Autonomy is also a big part of our culture here at HubSpot — which means that while managers are encouraged to maintain strong communication and be available for help whenever it’s needed, they trust us to get our work done on time, ask for help when we need it, and keep them updated on projects.

In other words, employees are given a large degree of control over their own work, which has been shown to correlate with both higher productivity and overall wellness. It also allows employees the freedom to independently discover the ways in which their work contributes to an organization’s overall success, which can lead to a greater willingness to ask questions — instead of being afraid of looking like they don’t know something. Being able to obtain that information without being judged for it can encourage creativity, too, as transparent, comprehensive answers can encourage new ideas.

People > Perks

“Sure, the free beer, being able to bring your dog to work, and having a gym on-site are cool,” says Lilian. “But that’s not what keeps people here. Keeping people motivated, challenged, and welcomed with an inclusive work environment is what keeps people here.”

That said, as you begin to build your team, remember that perks don’t go unappreciated. Free coffee is great for most of us, let alone free beer. But also think about the things for which the novelty isn’t quite as likely to wear off — things like the engaging work that Lilian referred to. If your team isn’t producing quality work, don’t assume that it’s due to laziness. The issue could just be a lack of interest. Have a conversation with employees about that to find out what’s making them lose interest, and together, figure out how to make it more engaging.

3) Lead by example.

Riddle me this: If you never see your boss take a vacation, how good are you going to feel about taking one? Probably not great — you wouldn’t be mirroring the example set by your manager to never take time off.

“You have to lead by example,” says Lilian. “For example, our CEO, Brian Halligan, just took his one-month sabbatical. If he can take that time off, then others definitely can.”

In the end, leading by the example of taking time off when you need it ends up benefitting everyone. Not only will it permit you the time you need to disconnect and recharge — which boosts productivity — but also, you’re showing your team that it’s an important thing to do.

They say that actions speak louder than words, but this tip partially goes back to the idea of knowing when to recognize burnout. Don’t just take time off — encourage it, too. If you’re planning to take some time off and realize that it’s been a while since your employees have, bring that up in your next conversation. Even if that person responds that she’s too busy to take time off, discuss the importance of breaks and that you’re ready to work with her to make sure all bases are covered while she’s out.

For Employees

4) Use the resources made available to you.

And while we’re on the topic of the old “I don’t have time” excuse, when it comes to taking care of yourself, “you need to make the time,” says Lilian.

She points to the the Healthy@HubSpot program, which includes things like on-site fitness classes, a kitchen full of healthy snacks — including fresh fruit and vegetables — and standing desks. And while not every workplace will have the budget for these types of resources, it’s important to take advantage of those that are available.

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For example, maybe your workplace has a nice outdoor area. Weather permitting, don’t let it go to waste — eat lunch there, or sit there for five minutes when you’re feeling particularly stressed (more on that later).

Sometimes, though, taking advantage of what’s made available to you comes down to your colleagues. “It sound so simple, but just grabbing coffee with someone you work with can have an impact,” says Lilian, “or turning a meeting into a ‘walking meeting’ outside.”

She also encourages making time to do these things with people who you don’t necessarily work with regularly. “Getting to know folks from other parts of the business can benefit the quality of your work,” she explains, by gaining more neutral and fresh insights or ideas.

5) Get away from your desk.

I’ll never forget a quote I once read from Bon Appétit editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport in the article “25 Ways to Practice Self-Care”:

I know what you’re thinking. The time to take care of yourself is when you have time to take care of yourself. Bright-and-early Saturday morning yoga. Sunday afternoon hike. But that’s not where my head’s at. I’m talking 3:18 p.m. on a Tuesday. When you’re sitting at your desk, ready to throttle your boss. Or quietly seething that your colleague got credit for something that your colleague totally didn’t do. That’s when you need to get up and walk away. And go do something. Anything. On such days, I head out for a coffee. Not because I need a coffee, but because I need to get out. I wander down to this little joint in a giant office complex on the Hudson River. And, then, instead of walking back to the office, I park it on a bench. And I just sit there. Breathing actual nonrecycled office-building air. Watching the ferries pull up to the dock. Because sometimes doing a better job means not doing your job at all.”

In other words, when you’re starting to feel like you might lose it — whether it’s the result of a frustrating project or a co-worker’s annoying whistling — step away. Now.

Lilian emphasizes the importance of getting away from your desk — even if it means doing your work somewhere else. “Results matter more than hours, or where we produce them. You can actually see this in the HubSpot offices, as we create ‘nomad desks’ where folks can work from in addition to their main desk,” she explains. “But we have plenty of collaborative workspaces to grab a seat at any time, if you need a change of environment or feel more creative or inspired in a different area.”

6) Take the time you need — with good judgment.

This practice falls along the lines of taking advantages of the resources made available to you. If you have paid time off — use it!

According to Project: Time Off’s 2016 State of American Vacation, the use of paid vacation has been dwindling among U.S.employees since 2000. In fact, last year, 55% of them didn’t even use all of their vacation days, with an average of .2 days taken off per employee.

I don’t know about you, but those numbers make me sad. If you’ve read the text leading up to this point, then you already know that taking time off can aid productivity. But if the refresh-and-renew benefit isn’t your thing, think of it this way: “By giving up this time off, Americans are effectively volunteering hundreds of millions of days of free work for their employers,” writes the Project: Time Off report, “which results in $61.4 billion in forfeited benefits.”

Okay, so maybe you’re worried about leaving your team in a lurch by taking time off. You’re in luck — there’s a fairly simple solution for that. “This goes back to using good judgment,” Lilian explains. “If you’re looking to take a week’s vacation with your family, make sure your team is set up for success while you are gone.”

Not sure how to start? Here are two key points:

  • Let your team know when you’ll be out of the office as far in advance as possible. My colleague, Sophia Bernazzani, uses the rule of one week notice for every day that you’ll be out of the office — so if you’ll be off for ten business days, let your colleagues and manager know about it ten weeks before you leave.
  • Be prepared to hustle before you leave in order to get ahead on the time you’ll be out. Not only will you be minimizing the amount of extra work your colleagues have to share in your absence, but also, you’ll (hopefully) be returning to that much less to catch up on when you return.
  • Make sure which regularly-occurring tasks you’ll be out for. For example, let’s say you and a colleague take turns doing something each month, like compiling a monthly performance report. If you’re going to be away during the time when it’s normally your turn, work with a colleague to rearrange the schedule so that she doesn’t have to unexpectedly take it on.

7) Don’t check in during your time off — and don’t feel bad about it.

Part of the point of working so hard before you leave for your vacation is to make sure you can completely step away during your time off. And yes — a lot of people “do a significant amount of work while on vacation,” Robert Blendon, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health professor told NPR. “So they’re taking their stress along with them wherever they go.”

The point of a vacation is to leave your stress behind, or at least to try your best to detach from it, so you can feel rested when you get back to work. Keeping that source of stress present during your time off is like going to the dentist with one cavity and leaving with four. It defeats the purpose of why you went there.

So please — don’t come back to work with four cavities. Disconnect when you’re away, and get the rest you need.

They Say It Takes a Village

Remember, preventing job burnout requires efforts from both managers and employees. The latter can’t be afraid to ask for the things they need to be well and do the best work they can — but their supervisors also have to create an environment where it’s not discouraged. Start making some of these incremental changes, and you’ll be well on your way to your own healthy workplace.

How does your team prevent job burnout? Let us know in the comments.

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Source: How to Avoid Burnout at Work: 7 Strategies from HubSpot’s Manager of Culture
blog.hubspot.com/marketing

How to Choose the Right Accounts for ABM (and 3X Your Average Deal)

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There’s no doubt that Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is hot right now. According to the SiriusDecisions 2016 State of ABM, 70% of all B2B companies are focused on driving account-based selling programs. That number is up 350% from the previous year’s study.

Research from the ABM Leadership Alliance found B2B marketers saw a 171% lift in their average annual contract value (ACV) when implementing ABM strategies.

But while many are talking about what ABM is and why you should adopt it, few are teaching the tactics.

At Engagio, we’ve set out to create the most clear and complete guide to ABM. In this post, we’re going to dive into the first and most important part of account-based sales: Selecting the right accounts to target.

How to Choose Target Accounts for Account-Based Marketing 

Building an ABM Engine with Data

Using the right data fuels your ABM rocket. Neglecting to use data, or even worse, using the wrong data, can lead to internal combustion and complete system failure.

A study by SiriusDecisions proves better data results in better account selection, which leads to a 35-40% higher average sales selling price (ASP). How much would 35-40% add to your bottom line? Using the right data points allows you to scientifically identify the accounts with the highest likelihood of doing business with you. This data can also tell you which existing customers are likely to expand.

The two key types of data you’ll need to draw better company-level insights are firmographics and technographics. Firmographics are company characteristics that best predict a good fit including company size, industry, number of employees, estimated revenue, estimated growth, and number of locations. Technographics are the technologies your target accounts currently use or are looking to invest in — for example, complementary technologies to yours, technology that rules out your solution or makes it less necessary, or competitive solutions where you know you have a highly win rate.

Get Insights on Contacts to Shorten Sales Cycles

Next, identify the contacts you’ll need to reach out to within your target accounts. Take the time upfront to research the customer stakeholders, their place on the organizational chart, personal goals, and the level of influence they each have. Targeted sales prospecting lets you get to the right people in less time.

The specific details you’re looking for include:

  • Job title
  • Tenure
  • Decision-making hierarchy
  • Account affiliation
  • Activity/engagement history
  • Skills and proficiencies
  • Experience with your category

Once you’ve collected these details, you can build an “influence matrix,” which will give you and your team members more clarity into the buying and decision making processes within the account. This step can decrease your sales cycle by as much as 50%.

Getting Access to Decision Makers with Market Insights

According to 75% of executives surveyed by ITSMA, prospects welcome even unsolicited material when the ideas are relevant to their business. After you’ve found the right accounts and the right contacts, deliver relevant business insights.

To organize your account based plays effectively, you need to know:

  1. The target’s industry and market trends
  2. SWOT analysis of the target account
  3. The relationships inside the account
  4. Your connections to the account

This information will lead you to the content and delivery methods you should use with each account. Providing compelling insights generates credibility, trust, and ultimately more business.

From Idea to Execution: How Engagio Selects and Tiers Accounts

Selecting target account is a rigorous process. We use three funnels:

  • Funnel 1: Target accounts
  • Funnel 2: Qualified but non-target accounts
  • Funnel 3: All other accounts

Target accounts are hand-selected by the individual account executives (AEs) with help from Marketing (which provides firmographic data and a definition of the Ideal Customer Profile).

Funnel 2 represents all the non-target accounts that meet our ICP and have become a Marketing Qualified Account (MQA). MQAs are similar to MQLs; however, when you’re taking an account-based approach, you focus on accounts rather than leads.

Funnel 1 accounts are further broken out into three tiers. Each AE selects roughly five Tier 1 accounts, 45 Tier 2 accounts, and 150 Tier 3 accounts. These tiers are important because they decide how we will treat each account:

  • Tier 1: This is ABM in its truest sense. We use deep research, a customized account plan, personalized content, bespoke campaigns, and one-to-one communication. There’s no automation.
  • Tier 2: These accounts also receive individual research, but they’re limited to a few key points of information for each account. We won’t use completely personalized plays and custom content but will still deliver highly relevant touches based on their industry and persona.
  • Tier 3: This bucket includes all the accounts that you want to target but don’t have the resources for personalization and customization. ITSMA calls this Programmatic ABM. It’s traditional marketing with account-level targeting and customization. The key difference from demand gen is that instead of scoring leads, you track account-level engagement and wait until the account hits a sufficient threshold to label them an MQA.

After you select your target accounts, it’s time to map out the players. Use data and predictive analytics to identify the individuals who represent your key personas inside each target account Once we have the accounts and contacts, we use our own platform (ABM Analytics) to understand key engagement metrics inside each account.

Identify the Right Data with Insight Resources

If you want to be successful with ABM, you need to invest in new resources. The proportionately larger deals you’ll be closing will make this investment worth it.

Here are some of our best tips and lessons we’ve learned around implementing ABM:

  • Insight generation has to be somebody’s job, or it’s nobody’s job.
  • Incentivize your people: Compensate your Sales Development Reps on insight collection metrics, or run a SPIF.
  • Utilize third-party vendors that specialize in collecting insights on companies and people.

This is just the beginning of the ABM process, but it’s the most important piece. Get this wrong, and you’ll be setting yourself up for failure. Get this right and your business will see growth like it’s never seen before.

Free Sales Training from HubSpot Academy


Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales

The B2B Outreach Strategy That Helped Us Win Our First 10 Customers

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Early-stage companies often cast too wide a net when defining their target customer base. They believe the more prospects, the better — but pursuing the wrong types of prospects wastes precious time, cash, and sales resources. There’s a high opportunity cost to chasing someone who won’t buy (or buys and quickly churns).

All the while, your competitors are entering the market and getting to large and enterprise clients more quickly than you.

I’ve now helped three early-stage tech companies go from zero revenue to cash-flow positive. Honing in on the most valuable accounts and customer stakeholders has helped me accelerate B2B sales at each of these. In fact, the company I currently lead, Spotted Media, used this three-step plan to acquire our first set of customers before we even had a fully functioning web site.

Step 1: Create an Ideal Customer Profile

An Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) should consist of five strict bullet points that you will not waver on. This means you can’t work any prospect who does not check all five boxes of your ICP.

An ICP might consist of the following:

  • Revenue size (e.g. more than $200 million in annual sales)
  • Employee count (e.g. no fewer than 1,000 verified LinkedIn employees)
  • Organization’s employee structure (e.g. the brand must have an in-house media team)
  • Type of product sold (e.g. a direct manufacturer)
  • A mutual goal (e.g. a manufacturer that cares about increasing brand awareness)

Once you’ve created your Ideal Customer Profile, the next step is thinking through the people who work for this ideal customer. Stop asking yourself surface-level questions like, “Are they in marketing?” and start asking yourself in-depth, meaningful questions about these professionals’ motivations.

That leads me to the next step.

Step 2: Create a Persona Map

Choose the three primary roles that you sell into (e.g. the VP of Advertising, the VP of Media, and the VP of Brand Marketing), then outline the following for each of these three roles:

  1. The buyer’s 2-3 primary daily responsibilities (projects they work on and think about every day)
  2. 2-3 ways your company can help make the buyer’s daily responsibilities easier
  3. The buyer’s 2-3 longer-term goals
  4. 2-3 ways in which your company can help further the buyer’s longer-term goals
  5. How your company can get this person promoted faster than their peers

This approach will save you and your team a great deal of time in the future when you’re at your laptop thinking, “What messaging and language should I use when reaching out to this person?” By filling in the five points above for each of your target roles, your outreach messaging will practically craft itself. Repurpose points #2 and #4 specifically for your email outreach.

These should appear within the first few sentences of your outreach emails to the target contact. Here is an example:

Ideas for [prospect’s company] re: [goal]

Dear [prospect’s name],

I am reaching out to you given your role in media at [prospect’s company]. [Vendor] can help [prospect’s company] improve [point #1] with its millennial customers by [point #2]. [Vendor] is helping [Client A] and [Client B] media teams achieve a [point #3] that is [X%] more efficient through [point #4].

Do you have 15 minutes to hear about the unique ideas we have for the [prospect’s company] media team on [date] or [date]?

Thanks in advance,
Janet

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You’ve mapped out the specifics of your ideal customer, the personal motivations of the stakeholders — now where do you go from here? To focus your outreach on the right people, you have to prioritize.

Step 3: Prioritize Your Personas

Prioritize your personas by ranking each buyer on a scale from one to five on the following:

  • Alignment with your solution
  • Size of their budget
  • Level of influence within the organization

Once you’ve calculated the scores for alignment, budget, and influence, lay out a strategic plan for your outreach starting with the buyers with the highest totals. (In this example, the VP of Media ranks the highest.)

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This exercise will drastically reduce wasted time and optimize your outreach while allowing you to get in front of the right people faster.

What’s the result of this upfront investment in strategy? Efficient outreach that specifically addresses the needs of your various buyers. Your messages will resonate more, and your prospects will respond more frequently.

Say goodbye to the typical results at early-stage companies, and say hello to more calls, meetings, and closed business.

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Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales

Clip Art Through the Years: A Nostalgic Look Back

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When I was growing up, it was a pretty big deal to have a computer with an operating system other than DOS. If you had an Apple, or even a computer with Windows, your house was the place to be. Not only were you likely to have the coolest games, but also, you probably had access to clip art libraries, which made for hours of entertainment — for me, at least.

Today, it’s hard to imagine a world where you can’t procure an image just by searching for it online. When I was in school, the only way to include a picture in a book report, for example, was with enough luck to find what I was looking for in a magazine. Clip art opened up a whole new world of visuals for academic assignments — not to mention, the newsletters that my childhood, future-writer self liked to put together for fun.

But today, clip art has become a bit of a thing of the past, at least since Microsoft retired its version in 2014. That’s an important distinction — clip art isn’t limited to Microsoft, and actually had several predecessors before it found its way into the likes of Word and PowerPoint. New Call-to-action

And maybe its retirement was for the best — when I think back to some of its more popular images, they would look positively antiquated today. But where did clip art come from, anyway? Today, we’re honoring its legacy with a trip through time.

The History of Clip Art

The 1980s

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Source: Computer History Museum

It all began with the idea to create a digital library of images. That was made possible by a program called VCN ExecuVision, a presentation program created in 1983 for IBM personal computers. Think of it as a primitive version of PowerPoint. But the $400 software didn’t come with these image libraries — instead, they were available on separate floppy disks that had to be purchased for $90 each.

But despite this seemingly trailblazing effort on behalf of IBM, it was really Apple who may have emerged as a leader in the digital image space, at least around the early-to-mid 1980s. That’s partially due to the 1984 development of MacPaint, which was released alongside Apple’s word processing program, MacWrite. As the story goes, they were the only two applications pre-installed on this historic Macintosh 128K.

But what made MacPaint so important was its role as the first program that allowed users to manipulate bitmap images: The “simple line art,” according to The Atlantic, that comprised “early electronic clip art.”

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Source: DigiBarn

Not long after that, however, the T/Maker Company collaborated with Apple to develop another word processing program, WriteNow. While it’s not clear if that particular program came equipped with its own image library, the same company began producing and selling groups of bitmap images under a new name: ClickArt.

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Source: Vetusware

The 1990s

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Source: MakeUseOf

By the mid-1990s, T/Maker was the largest distributor of unlicensed images, with a library of roughly half a million in 1995. Microsoft took note of ClickArt’s success, and thought to eliminate the extra step of having to install additional software to access artwork. So in 1996, Microsoft Word 6.0 came equipped with 82 clip art images — a miniscule amount compared to the 120,515 files available on openclipart.org today.

And yet, Microsoft became the brand most strongly identified with the idea of clip art, despite its predecessors having laid much of the groundwork. That could be because its in-app nature — across the entire Microsoft Office Suite — made adding art to documents and presentations a groundbreakingly seamless process.

The Early 2000s

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Source: Wayback Machine

By August 2000, at least 41% of U.S. households had computers with internet access, indicating that people were using it more and more for consuming information and media. And like so many other things — books, for one — clip art was becoming available for purchase online via sites like clipart.com, which is still in existence, but today looks a bit different than its 1996 counterpart above.

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And while clip art isn’t exactly one of those things that we think of as having suffered “death by download” — like books, music, and movies — the ability to procure images online made something like Microsoft’s in-app feature obsolete.

Clip Art’s (Semi) Retirement

In December 2014, Microsoft announced that it would be doing away with any in-app art libraries.

“The Office.com Clip Art and image library has closed shop,” the statement read.

Instead, users would now have to use either images from their own devices, or those found through Bing Image Search, where they’re now automatically sent when searching for art within Microsoft apps — step-by-step directions can be found here.

The announcement, for many, read as the end of an era. What would become of cartoonish images of urban landscapes, or out-of-date business travelers with flip phones? As it turns out, if that’s what you’re looking for, you might be in luck.

Clip Art in 2017 and Beyond

For those who need a fix of this kind of old-school imagery, not all hope is lost. There are still plenty of resources out there to find these pictures, including the aforementioned sites openclipart.org and clipart.com. Plus, as The Atlantic so astutely points out, if you search Bing images for “clip art,” you might find some of those fittingly nostalgic results:

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And perhaps this version of clip art isn’t really gone for good — after all, NPR once noted Microsoft’s penchant for revitalizing its older pieces of technology, like Clippy.

In any case, clip art has certainly taken many forms over the years — and we’re curious to see what shape, if any, it takes in the future.

Which clip art images make you the most nostalgic? Let us know in the comments.

80 royalty-free stock photos

 
download 80 royalty-free stock photos


Source: blog.hubspot.com/marketing

8 Ways to Start a Sales Call So Prospects Don't Hang Up On You

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How do you feel when your phone rings and you realize you’re receiving a call from a salesperson?

For most business people, it’s interruptive, annoying, and distracting.

But if it’s your job to call prospects, you don’t have to fall into the category of “pesky sales rep.”

To kickstart a productive, professional conversation, you need a strong opening.

Your opening should do two things:

  1. Get the prospect into a receptive frame of mind
  2. Make it easy for them to make a positive decision

Here are eight call openings will engage the prospect so they don’t immediately hang up.

1) “My research shows that your company is in the process of … ”

This shows you are interested in them and you’ve spent some time finding a reason for calling. It also shows you aren’t trying to sell them something right away.

2) “One of my clients, [name] at [company], mentioned to me you are [looking for, might be a good fit for] … ”

Talking about a mutual connection gives you instant credibility. Your prospect will be curious to know why his contact thought he might need your product or service.

3) “I was looking at your LinkedIn company profile, and saw that one of your major projects this year is … ”

Referencing their LinkedIn page and company goals proves you’re interested in discussing something of value to them rather than just pushing your products and services.

4) “We’ve been working with a couple of similarly sized companies within your industry, and they are experiencing two major problems. I wondered whether they were causing you concern as well … ”

This piques your prospect’s interest, as they will be wondering what those problems are, and whether they are facing them too.

5) “I read your [Twitter, Facebook] post the other day about … ”

This opening tells the buyer you’ve done your homework and are calling about a relevant and timely topic.

6) “I see your [annual report, newsletter] was released on your website last week, and it’s looking like you’re expanding your operations in … ”

Reading their marketing materials reveals genuine interest in their company. It also implies your recommendations will be pertinent and helpful.

7) “[Name], in reading your company blog, I noticed that you’ve had some good reviews from customers on your new [product] and I was wondering … ”

Your interest in their blog can open new doors to discuss results that your products have achieved for other clients.

8) “[Prospect], I was speaking to one of your business managers yesterday and he said that a growing part of your business is through [product, niche, market]. As that’s the case, I can … ”

Bringing up your prospect’s coworker tells them to take you seriously, while focusing the discussion on an emerging revenue source ensures you’re talking about a company priority.

These openings highlight the prospect’s business before even mentioning what product or service you represent. Simply calling and listing what your company sells is a sure-fire way to get the phone slammed down.

The purpose of a connect call should always be demonstrate your professionalism, credibility, and expertise.

When you do that, you give the prospect a reason to at the very least discuss options with you, making it likelier the call will end the way you’d like — with a second call scheduled.

If you’d like some additional help with your calling technique, then please download our free report “100 Ways To Improve Your Sales Success” or visit my sales blog.

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Source: 8 Ways to Start a Sales Call So Prospects Don't Hang Up On You
blog.hubspot.com/sales