You have probably heard a lot of talk about artificial intelligence (AI) in the last couple of years. Scientists and engineers have been trying to make computers that can mimic the human brain ever since World War II, 1943 to be exact. Despite more than 70 years of investment in it and the great advancements achieved, we are not yet where we would like to be.
AI technology, however, has come a long way since the beginning. Today, many established businesses and startups rely on this technology for their daily operations.
What Types Of Artificial Intelligence Are Out There?
There are two types of recognized AI in the world: artificial general intelligence and narrow AI. The latter is pre-programmed for particular tasks, while the former manages to find solutions to tasks that are unfamiliar. General AI, also known as strong artificial intelligence, is what the majority is striving for. This would allow computers to replicate humans behaviors and learning patterns.
While AI technology has gone pretty far and can do certain things better than humans, there’s still a lot of room for improvement and future development. As a matter of fact, we expect this technology to grow by 120%-140% each year until 2025. Although exciting as to where all this could take us, there are many skeptics out there.70% of people still fear what AI could do to our day to day activities. Like many other things, however, fear is driven by a limit in understanding what the technology could do. The same research showed that 70% of surveyed people thought they understood what AI is about, however, more than half didn’t know that AI can solve problems.
There are many different ways to implement AI in our daily lives. For example, computers can replicate simple and repetitive tasks in a more efficient way as opposed to humans, just by implementing a simple algorithm. With AI, we can also expect computers to learn and change behaviors without the need for additional programming.
Businesses are especially interested in the development of AI. These advanced machines could replace human workers by around 38% in the next 10 years. It can also prevent cyber attacks and help avoid car accidents, saving thousands of lives.
In the latest years, we have also seen how many digital businesses have implemented AI-powered chatbots to improve online customer experience. However, this is just part of it, as many startups adopt AI to also enhance the conversion funnel.
The future sees implementations of this technology across several business functions, adapting to the way users interact with other existing technologies. By 2020, for example, 30% of web browsing will occur without the user interacting with the screen. The below infographic gives more details on what’s to come in 2019 with AI.
The lack of alignment between sales and marketing is a problem as old as the hills. Although both teams share the same business goal very often they don’t get along, at times reminding of two rivals finger-pointing at each other for not doing things right.
Marketing people blame sales for not taking advantage of all the leads they generate and the content they create. The sales team, on the other hand, think that marketing is not producing enough sales-ready, good quality leads. They often also complain about the content, not being relevant to their clients.
And the “us versus them” feud goes on.
The Reasons For Poor Alignment
But where does this disagreement come from?
According to a survey by Demand Gen Report, the biggest challenges to sales and marketing alignment are:
These findings are further supported by another survey. This shows that “51% of marketers are not satisfied with the level of communication between the teams and 53% of sales professionals are not pleased with marketing’s support.”
So, if communication breakdown is the main problem that prevents sales and marketing from working in unison. What is it that the two sides have to say to each other?
It’s time to sit down and talk.
The Demand Gen Report discloses the following grievances that sales and marketing have for each other:
Now that we’re aware of the main grudges, the next question is: what prevents sales and marketing teams from working together to resolve their miscommunication problems and start working like a well-oiled machine?
And the answer turns out to be surprisingly simple…
The research further demonstrates the frequency ofcontent marketing and sales collaboration on related activities among teams with high and low sales-marketing alignment.
The key takeaway here is that only 25% of all respondents with low alignment said they discussed how to use the content. On top of it, a mere 19% discussed when to use the content. With no doubts, these are the two most important areas to ensure effectiveness.
If salespeople don’t know what to do with all the content, what’s the point in making it?
The Benefits Of Sales-Marketing Alignment
So why should the two teams work together?
The simple answer is – it brings revenue!
The success of any business is traditionally measured by a set of metrics. Harvard Business Review points out that if sales and marketing teams work together their key business metrics improve. Sales cycles become shorter, market-entry costs go down, and the cost of sales decreases.
Further expanding on the benefits of sales-marketing collaboration is Sirius Decisions that points to the following improvements:
A LinkedIn report claims that 58% of sales and marketing professionals reporting that collaboration delivers improved customer retention. 54% also note its positive contribution to financial performance. 58% of organizations with highly aligned teams experience improved efficiency and 52% enjoy enhanced productivity.
Not convinced yet? Let’s dig deeper.
According to the research by the Aberdeen Group, “companies that optimize the sales and marketing relationship grow revenue 32% faster”. There are also improvements in the following areas:
Finally, businesses with unified sales and marketing teams enjoy 38% higher sales win rates, 36% higher customer retention rates, and generate 208% more revenue from marketing, according to MarketingProfs.
All this only proves that companies need to rethink entirely how their sales and marketing teams work. Does it make any sense to continue keeping them in silos?
And even though sales and marketing tend to disagree on how to deal with potential customers and grow business, it’s not a dead end.
As M. Gandhi once said:
“Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress”
6 Ways To Make Sales And Marketing Work Together
There are a number of ways how you can help your marketing and sales teams get along better. Here below we take a look at 6 ways to successfully do so.
1.Work On Creating Relevant Content Together
To start off, let’s recap the key premise. The content that marketers create helps salespeople advance a potential buyer down the sales pipeline faster.
Marketing teams create content based on market analysis and industry trends, promotion strategies and target group segmentation. This type of content is then used in sales proposals.
That’s why sales can really help out by sharing valuable “real life” insights with the marketing team as to what content works best and at what stage. Why? Because they know what questions prospects ask or what concerns they have at each stage of a sale.
This makes relevant content creation much easier and eliminates “the guessing game” of what content a target group wants to consume. In other words: “If a customer wants to know about A, don’t feed them information about B.”
And that’s why both teams need to communicate more!
2. Analyze The Customer Journey And Agree On The Buying Cycle
Stepping into your customers’ shoes and walking the walk with them is the ultimate winning strategy. This is where performing a comprehensive customer journey analysis and defining the buying cycle helps.
What’s the point of creating tons of content, distributing it on random communication channels and then praying some of it will work?
By getting together and looking closely at the stages that the customers go through, channels that they use, questions that they pose, etc., sales and marketing can help each other tremendously and create a single, all-inclusive customer experience model.
3. Communicate Regularly And Use Customer Feedback
As cliché as it may sound, there’s nothing better than communication. And the more of it – the better.
Sales and marketing will align much smoother if they held regular meetings to discuss their visions and strategies. According to this research, 73% of highly aligned teams meet DAILY or WEEKLY. While low aligned teams only 25% of the time.
It’s also important to analyze the results of a month, quarter or year together. It is very educational to hear how numbers are perceived by both teams. On top of that, it is also a great bonding exercise, helping the teams decide on what works and what doesn’t.
Another thing that goes a long way is listening to customers’ feedback. It allows both teams to see how things are evolving in real time and increases accountability.
Once again, salespeople are a perfect asset here. During sales calls, meetings or presentations, they get a great chance to listen to customer’s pain points, concerns, and wishes. This information can be then used to refine or improve your marketing strategy.
4. Develop Buyer Personas Together
Defining buyer personas is very important. Being able to describe who your ideal customers are, what they do, what choices they make, what challenges they face, and how they make decisions – gives both marketing and sales teams a competitive advantage.
Put simply – if you know whom you’re dealing with, then you know what to do!
Yet, the tricky part here is agreeing on who your ideal customer is. Sales and marketing team might see the same target in different ways. Alignment is once again the key here.
The best is to have the two teams sit down to pick each other’s brain. Combining their practical and theoretical knowledge will help them to define more realistic needs of potential customers. This will result in offering the right products at the right time and to the right people.
5. Set Common KPIs And Sync Up Measurement Criteria
The differences in measuring achievements are serious obstacles for sales-marketing alignment. The sales team may focus on the numbers of new accounts, deals closed, upsells, etc.. Marketing, on the other hand, may put more emphasis on the quality of leads, brand awareness ratio and lead funnel progression.
In order for sales and marketing to feel that they are working towards the same goals, they need to share something tangible – like KPIs.
The importance of using the same key metrics of success measuring is proved by the research that stipulates that highly-aligned teams share a set of common KPIs that prioritize revenue and pipeline growth.
Adopting joint KPIs, driven by the “revenue first” mindset, is a great way to sync the efforts of the two teams.
6. Speak With One Voice
A successful business always comes across as a united, wholesome organization where everyone speaks with one voice.
If a customer hears one message in the ad or in a social media post, and then receives a completely different information presented in a different style and tone from a salesperson – it becomes super confusing, to say the least.
Such things as inconsistent naming of products, different terminology, conflicting tone of voice, are detrimental to the entire company’s reputation. If sales and marketing don’t work together, they may, inadvertently, create an image of a confused brand. And who wants to buy anything from a disorganized business?
That’s why sales and marketing should sing in chorus. They should share and convey the same culture and send consistent and matched messages.
Finding The Best Alignment Tool
One of the best ways for bringing the sales and marketing teams together is by giving them the same working tools.
A CRM system is arguably one of the best fits here. It unites all documents, activities, and contact information in one, centralized, easily-accessible place. CRM allows salespeople and marketers to access the common database, share their interactions, see each other’s progress, offer seamless customer service. All happens in the same system, and most importantly – it gives both of them a common goal.
It is not surprising that 71% of organizations with highly aligned sales and marketing teams name the CRM software as their top digital technology.
It’s All About The Good-old Teamwork
Sales is not from Mars and Marketing is not from Venus.
They are the sides of the same coin called “business success”. The two need each other.
And even though they work differently, both can bring a lot to the table. If salespeople’s frontline experience and marketing’s strategic knowledge are put together, customers can enjoy a truly seamless experience, where everything flows with no distinct lines.
While marketers know how to create versatile and engaging content for each stage of the buying process, sales can use the content strategically and modify it depending on individual circumstances and preferences of a particular customer. And that’s the true meaning of a customer-centric business model!
In the end it all boils down to working as a TEAM – where Together Everyone Achieves More.
Regardless of your level of expertise, one thing you have probably realized is that digital marketing is constantly evolving. With the various strategies and tools used and its different branches, it isn’t exactly a simple area of expertise.
Understandably, making an effort to stay up-to-date can get overwhelming. It requires a huge investment in terms of time. It’s no small feat, but the onus is on you to stay on top of things. Your brand’s success rides on it.
There are currently 4.4 billion users populating the internet, and nowadays, mishaps turn into memes that seem to just go viral overnight. That said, a marketing strategy flop has the real potential to cause damages and setbacks in brand growth, audience acquisition, and overall profit.
It’s a mistake no company can really afford.
What Are Some Key Digital Trends To Keep In Mind?
To help you maintain a competitive edge over the competition, we’ve compiled an infographic about the 7 key digital marketing trends for 2019.
Here below some key facts:
SEO still plays a key role in successful digital marketing strategies. In just two decades, search engine use has risen from millions to billions. On Google alone search queries have increased from 3.5 million worldwide to 3.5 billion daily. With new technologies being developed daily, the trend is only upward.
Organic search still matters. With voice search seeing increased use and expectations that it will continue to do so, there is greater significance in leveraging sound organic search strategies.
The mobile market grows and will continue to do so. From 11.51 exabytes per month in 2017 to nearly double 2018, mobile traffic is projected to reach a monthly consumption of 77.49 exabytes by 2022.
Pay-Per-Click marketing remains a smart investment. It currently generates 1.5 as many conversions in comparison with organic search and stands among the top three on-page conversion generators.
Facebook still dominates the social media. The platform is home to a staggering 2.27 billion active users. YouTube comes second at 1.9 billion.
These definitely got you thinking, right?
Now that we’ve whet your appetite let’s dive into the main course — the 2019 digital marketing trends infographic courtesy of SERPwatch.
In today’s world, thought leadership refers to the aspect of having intellectual influence in a specialized area of business. Thought leaders are authorities in an area within a specific industry. Often, they tend to have invaluable insights and knowledge in their areas of concentration.
Thought leaders in an organization increase their own and their company’s value. This can be a launching pad for other activities, like increasing the firm’s social presence and marketing as well.
Increasing your social presence entails increasing the reach of your company to parties like:
Thought Leadership Bolsters Credibility
Thought leadership is all about giving intelligent thoughts and views, regarding a particular area of your business or industry. When industry players recognize that, chances are they will pay attention to your organization and its leaders as well. On a business level, this helps to build credibility, and this makes other players to develop trust in your company.
Gaining credibility opens up an array of opportunities which you could use in the furtherance of your firm’s agenda. You could use the credibility gained to make the firm known further and more extensively, thus increasing your social presence. Expanding your social presence on the back off credibility will help you to attract more business. This could contribute to cementing your firm’s position in the industry.
Expertise & Social Presence
Thought leadership stems from the ability to understand the ins and outs of a specific industry. The ability to build on the information and knowledge leads to intelligence influence. Expertise in a particular area means that other individuals and businesses would look up to you to gain insights and forecasts.
John Green, head of writing services at TheEssayTyper, says: “Giving expert advice on industry and firm trends with regards to thought leadership requires a good knowledge of information management, or getting help from relevant sources.”
The net effect of the cooperation with other businesses is increased social activity, and an overall increased social presence. Therefore, thought leadership is a key driver of social activity for a firm or an individual.
Building a Following from Thought Leadership
Thought leadership will manifest itself in various ways. It could be through a blog or a website that makes information, insights, and forecasts. It could also be through, journals, podcasts, newsletters, or even through social media channels. By making use of FlyWriting and Grammarly, you can improve the quality of your work. Whichever the outlet may be, thought leadership will result in a huge following.
Industry players, other businesses, competitors, and individuals are highly likely to follow your firm, because of it. This situation allows you to build better networking opportunities.
Thought Leadership, Publicity, And Increasing Your Social Presence
Thought leadership can help to fuel the publicity and public relations of your firm and you as an individual. When you get to a level that creates interest, PR won’t be a problem.
Consumers in the world of business get to know about your company through media. When you are a thought leader receiving media attention, the chances are high that you will enjoy publicity and opportunities will grow. Apps like Hemingway, Best UK Writers can help you to better at your content.
This publicity could help you a great deal when it comes to building your brand identity. By gaining a lot of publicity, you can expand the opportunities for your organization as well.
Prospects for Strategic Partnerships
Thought leadership makes you gain attention from many sides. It could be the media, other individuals or businesses, and even competitors. On this account, there could be opportunities of a strategic partnership or a joint venture with your business.
The prospect or the news of a possible partnership is enough to increase your social presence. Thought leaders make the headlines often. Any information regarding partnerships is going to increase the publicity of your company.
Carol Marks, the Chief Editor at 99HomeworkHelp says, “Refining the process of intelligence gathering and coming up with good content is a plus for thought leadership.”
By getting this attraction, you get to enhance social ties between your firm and other relevant entities that are of interest to your operations. In this regard, you get to increase and leverage social presence to advance business activities.
Increasing Your Social Presence from Increased Cooperation
Thought leadership opens up opportunities for working with other people, and businesses. When you are an authority in a specific field, other individuals and companies would seek to work with you on some issues within that area.
Your firm stands to work with other firms on various issues – all this cooperation stemming from the aspect of thought leadership. Collaboration with other entities allows you to build social contacts and networks. This could help you in the broader context of increasing your social presence.
When it comes to leveraging the benefits of thought leadership, your firm can witness an increased social presence. Thought leadership prompts a lot of industry collaborations. Businesses and individuals using these relationships either commercially or non-commercially stand to gain.
Cooperation increases the social network of the business. Whether the relationship is transactional or non-transactional, an opportunity has been created. Business is dynamic and, in the future, there might be a need for some collaboration.
While it means countless startups fail every year, the reasons behind their failure are not uncountable. Research shows that most startups fall into the same traps over and over again. If they could avoid those mistakes, however, the chances for them to succeed would be much higher.
Making mistakes is more than natural. Everybody does and should make mistakes in order to advance. Startups should be no exception to this rule because behind every startup there are human beings.
One of the top reasons startups fail is because they create products that no one wants. There is another mistake though that is commonly overlooked by startups: failing leadership.
The bad news is that startups are vulnerable to even the slightest mistake. The good news, on the other hand, is that you can do something about lowering the chances of your startup failing this year.
To help you with this, we came up with the list of 5 fatal leadership mistakes that your startup should avoid.
#1. Not Delegating Tasks Properly
delegate properly is probably the most classic leadership problem in business.
Both young and experienced leaders make this mistake because they tend to take
control of everything. This results in a wrong delegation of tasks where none
of the parties feels either effective or satisfied.
Another way of delegating tasks is by assigning work to those who volunteer. By taking this chance, both the leader and the employee may discover exceptional skills they never thought about.
Remember that human resource and expertise are one of the biggest assets of any startup. Use this resource wisely.
#2. Over-controlling And Under-managing
Most startup leaders are either control-freaks or too hands-off. Some argue that the first is better than the latter. However, neither over-controlling nor under-managing can be good for a startup. It is not very pleasing to have your CEO breathe down your neck nor is it cool to be mismanaged.
The secret of
successful startup CEOs is the ability to combine both and find the middle
ground. If you have built your teams based on their strengths, the only thing
you should do is set reasonable goals and deadlines and check from time to time
whether those goals are met.
If you build teams based on strengths and give them feasible tasks, there is no chance your employees will fail to do what they are asked to.
It is all
about finding a balance between micromanaging and mismanaging and being able to
adjust your style depending on the situation.
#3. Strongly Believing In The Wrong Idea And Not Listening To Others
Many leaders tend to follow their instinct which most of the times proves to be right. Sometimes though they just cling to the wrong idea and try too hard to push the erroneous hill. What is more harmful in these situations is that in most cases leaders do not even listen to others.
happens with young leaders who fall in love with their idea and fail to accept
constructive criticism. While no one is perfect and making mistakes is a
natural thing, good leaders should know when and how to stop.
In order to avoid fatal mistakes that will cost their startups a packet, CEOs should consult with at least 3 people from different disciplines when it comes to making important decisions. Sharing information and listening to other opinions help evaluate if the idea is achievable and if it is worth going after.
So when you
feel trapped in your own ideas and when it becomes addictive, take some time to
talk about it with your team. In case it is a good idea, it will only boost
#4. Underestimating The Power Of Communication
Communication is fundamental for any business activity. Many startup leaders, however, think that sending out an email once a month is more than enough to keep the communication going. That’s not totally right, though.
communication includes not only sending out recapitulative emails from time to
time but also providing and receiving feedback, constantly keeping up with
company developments, and inspiring other
colleagues. All of this requires good
communication skills and the ability to convey important messages in
the right way.
In order to keep consistent communication, weekly or bi-weekly emails are a necessity. Startup leaders should use them as a means to communicate any significant changes, new projects, arrivals or departures of employees, or simply wish a productive week to everyone.
leaders should also take some time every week to hear feedback from each team
member. It might sound unnecessary but it will help keep the finger on the
organization’s pulse and asses the overall dynamics of the team.
Remember that communication is the strongest means of inspiration, so use it to constantly to serve as an example to your team by hearing them out and by helping when required.
How To Succeed At Being A Better Leader
Anyone can tell what a startup CEO should do. In reality, though, it is easier said than done.
Startup CEOs, most of the times, are people who have a lot on their shoulders and very little time to take care of themselves. In pursuit of their goals, they often forget to take some time for themselves in order to regain energy to conquer the world and inspire more people.
In order to avoid the above-mentioned mistakes and be physically and mentally ready for challenges, startup leaders should follow these simple steps:
Meditate every morning for at least 15
minutes: this will help free the mind from unnecessary
thoughts and anxiety and leave space for new and creative ideas.
Once at work, take 5 minutes to write
a thank-you note: thanking your colleagues or partners
for their wonderful job or for helping you out benefits one’s physical and
mental health a lot more than one can think.
Do not forget to do some exercise:
sometimes working on a challenging project can disconnect you from the reality,
but taking some time to walk around the office or do some basic exercise is
essential to decrease the feelings of depression, anxiety or stress.
Take up a sport and dedicate some
time to it every week: there are many types of physical activity,
including swimming, running, jogging, and dancing, to name a few. Being active
has shown to have many health benefits so take some time every week to practice
your favorite sport and take care of your body and mind.
of any startup depends on numerous factors and leadership is one of them. If as
a startup CEO you take care of yourself and are able to prevent the
abovementioned mistakes, then you are setting yourself up for a big success. So
It’s difficult to keep up with the trends in today’s ever-changing digital world. If you want the best for your company, however, falling behind can come at a cost. Customers have higher than ever expectations when it comes to user experience. A good-looking and highly-functioning website is a must. Investing in a quality website design is a wise business decision for any company.
Nonetheless, how and what you can do to increase your online traffic and boost your credibility is often a question of debate.
Why Is Web Design A Crucial Business Choice?
DesignAdvisor has put together an insightful infographic on why investing in website design is the right business choice. It aims to put an end to some of these dilemmas by summarizing the fourteen most important web design trends of 2019.
The trends illustrated showcase studies with the aim of helping website owners get one step closer to create an online presence the audience is happy with. Having a website is not enough anymore. A corporate webpage is part of the brand identity of a company and it should not be ignored.
The collected data range from tips on how to improve your company’s contact information section to advise on how to increase the speed of your website.
The infographic lists real-life examples of companies which have implemented these trends, and the results that followed. For example, one company noticed an increase in mobile traffic by 40%, organic search by 19%, and social referrals by an incredible 1,624% just by improving the website user experience. Another one increased users time spent on-page by 56.19% by optimizing the website for mobile.
Each one of the trends highlighted are a must for companies that get most of their clients online. Implementing one or more of these tips will increase your chances to succeed.
Sole traders, solopreneurs or sole proprietors – whatever you like to call them, a business person who is running their operation alone certainly has some guts.
There are obvious advantages of full control. First and foremost, no one to clash with. On the other hand, however, there are also upsides for those who decide to share the workload with a business partner.
The team at so-sure wanted to find out what kind of relationships exist behind the co-founders of these top startups and the advantage to have a partner.
We asked each one of them one question and got their point of view.
What Are The Benefits Of Working With Business Partners?
Katie Buckett |OneFifty Consultancy
Katie is a digital brand communications expert, with experience working for both global and UK organizations. She and her co-founder, Alex Pearmain, set up OneFifty together in 2015.
“I would find it very difficult to do it on my own because entrepreneurship it is quite a lonely place. There is loads of pressure – the highs are highs and lows are low. No one else can quite appreciate those highs and lows. The only person is Alex. It’s quite a special thing to share these moments with someone. It’s also just quite practical, if you can’t make it to a meeting, there is a bit more flexibility if your partner can step in for you.”
Pip Wilson | amicable
Pip Wilson is the co-founder of amicable. She is an entrepreneur and technology expert who is passionate about using technology to tackle social issues. She founded amicable with her business partner, Kate Daly.
“It’s good to have someone to bounce ideas off. amicable’s first year started slowly as I was still tying up a few loose ends from the sale of my previous company. Kate had been working for her own business. For the first year we were prototyping and refining the idea and it was just the two of us. It would have been so lonely if it had just been one individual. The advantage is that you have someone else to work with who is just as passionate about the idea as you, so that keeps you motivated. You also benefit from having different ways of looking at things.”
Lilia Stoyanov | Transformify
A chief executive officer and angel investor at Transformify. Lilia is a FinTech and digital transformation expert. She is also a professor at Zigurat Business School and expert evaluator Horizon 2020 at the European Commission. She founded Transformify in 2015 with her business partner and CTO, Desislav Kamenov.
“We bounce off each other. We have very different backgrounds and this helps us when we need to see the big picture. The different points of view add creativity and criticism which are much needed for the success of any project.”
Rachel Hugh | The Vurger Co
Rachel, alongside co-founder Neil Potts, founded The Vurger Co in 2016. The Vurger Co’s mission is to revolutionise fast food forever through the power of plants.
“Definitely trust! When you know and trust your partner, it’s super easy to rely on one another for everything. Nothing is too much to ask, and no challenge is insurmountable. It’s also pretty special to build a business with your partner in life and business. “
Alex Bodini | Spinbrands
Alex is co-founder of Spin Brands, a social and digital marketing agency specialising in SMEs & Startups. Having previously worked in large agencies, Alex met his co-founder in more entrepreneurial ventures and created Spin Brands to serve a huge gap in the market.
“It genuinely does feel like 1+1 = 3 when there is a good partnership. You feel three times as strong, as resilient and capable of making the right decisions. Sharing successes and high points with someone else too is extremely valuable.”
Gauthier Van Malderen | Perlego
Gauthier is the co-founder of London-based Perlego which aims to tackle one of the biggest pain points for students with its e-book subscription service for textbooks. He and his co-founder Matthew Davis set up Perlego in 2016.
“We have several core members in the team but by being in a team, when I’m having a bad day Matt can lift me up and vice versa. Plus, you live the highs and the lows together. Doing it by yourself would be quite a lonely thing. You’re sharing that burden with someone else.”
Matthew de la Hey | Inploi
Matthew is co-founder & CEO of inploi, a cutting-edge recruitment/HR-tech platform based in London. He set up inploi with Alex Hanson-Smith, and Chris Mackie in 2015.
“It would have been impossible to do this alone! You are taking on a pretty insane task with a lot of things stacked against you and a lot to learn along the way. Having to do that alone would have been very difficult. Often times, if you’re having a bad day the other person is not and you can pick each other up. The advantages are also that you can have another set of perspectives and look at solutions or problems from a different angle that you might not have thought about. Lastly, it’s good to have someone to share the burden and have fun with.”
Tessa Clarke | OLIO
Tessa and Saasha Celestial-One are the co-founders of OLIO, a free app which harnesses the power of mobile technology and the sharing economy to provide a revolutionary new solution to the problem of food waste.
“To be honest I see only upsides of working with a co-founder! Together we’re able to cover a far broader range of skill sets and bring a more diverse set of experiences and perspectives to the table. All this ultimately makes the business far stronger. Plus, having someone who is on the same startup rollercoaster as yourself is absolutely invaluable in terms of mental and emotional support. When it comes to strategy, product development and marketing initiatives for example, it’s incredible helpful having a sparring partner to bounce ideas off. Finally, it can sometimes feel a bit like a super-power having a business partner because you can ‘clone’ yourself and be in two places at the same time, which is incredibly handy and powerful!”
Alice Holden | Attollo Lingerie
Alice is this director and co-founder of Attollo Lingerie which caters for D+ cupped figures. She runs the business with co-founder, Fleurette Mulcahy.
“It’s someone to share the experience with. When we first left university none of our friends could really relate to the fact that we were running off to meet the CEO of banks, or meet managing directors of massive multinational companies; running board meetings, pitching for investment, controlling shareholders. It was a very abnormal environment to be in from quite a young age with very little experience but we had each other to share that with. We know other business owners who have founded on their own and have said that they wish they had had a partner to share everything with. So I guess that’s a big benefit that we’ve enjoyed.”
Jasmine Eilfield | Expocart
Jasmine is the co-founder of ExpoCart which she set up with Ryan Farquson. The startup is on a one-way mission to reinvent the way people discover, hire and buy products for their exhibitions.
“Running a business can be extremely isolating. Having someone to work with helps balance the pressure, especially when difficult decisions need to be made. Having someone to bounce it around and talk through in detail when they know the business so well is crucial.”
Do you work with a business partner? What advantages do you see that otherwise you wouldn’t? Share your experiences in the comment section below.
Trust has always been the basis of building relationships with prospects. If you are not able to win prospects’ trust then you won’t be able to close deals and create long-term partnerships. Trust, however, is built over time and it requires efforts from both parties. After all, it is well known that:
People buy people, not products.
Salespeople often think that having a better pitch or fancier deck or a more comprehensive objection handling process is the key to close more deals. The reality is, however, very different.
Buyers couldn’t care less about the way your deck looks or how well you can pitch your company. Marketing materials support your activities, they don’t replace them. Prospects receive tons of cold emails and calls on a daily basis with, guess what, a sales pitch about the “leading company in the industry” or “the best solution in the market”. On average buyers receive about 140 emails from different vendors in a day with a “unique selling proposition”. Do yourself (and your prospect) a favor, stop wasting everyone’s time and start focusing on what matters.
Cutting through the noise, as a salesperson, is not simple but there are ways to do it if you are willing to change the way you approach the sales process.
1. Have A Customer-Centric Approach
Too often, salespeople forget that is the buyer the one making the decision. Inexperienced sales reps get too focused on their pitch and stories, forgetting about the most important part of the equation, the customer.
For example, when talking with a prospect, how much time do you spend pitching your company? Or presenting your solutions? Or making assumptions on why the prospect needs you? Or simply not letting the prospect know what’s going to happen? How much time do you hold the mic? It has been shown that in successful calls there are about 77% more speaker switches than in unsuccessful ones.
Stop putting yourself at the center of the conversation. Start listening to your prospects. Ask questions and listen to what they have to say. This is the so-called sales disconnect between sellers and buyers that affects how successful you will be at building relationships with prospects.
Are you sure to be tuned in the same radio station as your buyer?
As a sales rep, your job is to understand the prospect’s needs. Yet, 69% of buyers think that salespeople are not listening to their needs at all. That’s a third of buyers out there thinking you are listening to what they have to say.
2. Be Genuinely Curious
When approaching prospects, salespeople should be genuine interested in their situation and curious about what issues they are experiencing. Trying to be in the prospect’s shoes should be part of your daily activities.
Even though your prospects might all have the same characteristics, each one of them has a different need that has to be addressed differently. Once again, it’s important to listen to what they have to say and stop making assumptions about their needs.
Objections should also arise curiosity in salespeople. Sales reps tend to treat objections as an obstacle to overcome, rather than an opportunity. Sales managers usually prepare their teams with an objection handling document, teaching them the best ways to go through those rough moments without addressing the real issue.
Learning how to turn objections into useful questions is what will make you stand out from the crowd. When a prospect is objecting to your statements take the time to unveil the truth behind those doubts. Don’t run away. If you redirect your curiosity back at the objection, you are in control of the conversation. By doing so, you will increase the possibility to win the prospect’s trust.
3. Understand The Prospect Fit
In a perfect world, companies would like every prospect to be a good customer. The reality, however, is that there are good and bad customers in terms of ROI. Each prospect is driven by a different set of values and needs that might or might not meet the company capabilities to deliver the results wanted.
Closing a deal is not good enough anymore. Some managers think that the more deals you close, the better off your business will be. However, there’s nothing more wrong than that.
What is the cost of having to deal with an unhappy customer? What are the repercussions of on-boarding a prospect, whose needs cannot be met? How much time will your team have to spend on trying to figure out what to do next? And lastly, how easily will you fire that bad client?
The reality is that many businesses tend to accept any client their sales team bring in because they are afraid of missing out an opportunity. The thought that any customer is a good customer is insane and can harm your company growth. The ideal prospect fit is a method developed to take only valuable customer down the funnel with a carefully planned lead qualification process. You cannot please everyone and you better understand that sooner rather than later. Having tougher on-boarding rules will help your company focusing on building relationships with prospects that matter.
4. Be Honest & Work Together With The Prospects
Honesty is probably the last thing that the common person associates with salespeople. Unfortunately, we have built a name for our profession that is not reputable, to say the least. We are known to bend reality and make things look better than they are as far as we can get someone’s money out of their pocket.
If you want to make a difference and create a long-term relationship with prospects, you need to be honest and work together with them. Honesty, however, is not just about saying things as they are.
For example, when a prospect asks you “Why should I choose you instead of a competitor?”, what do you say?
Most salespeople, as they have been trained to such basic objection, will jump on it and start pitching all the different USPs their product, service or company has against all different competitors in the market. However, doing so will just raise barriers from the prospect perspective. As seen previously, by tackling an objection, you won’t be uncovering the real truth.
Have you thought about why the prospect is asking such a question?
If you get asked what makes your company different in the market, be honest and address that with curiosity. Ask them what problems they are currently facing and try to understand why they are asking this question. You might have the best solution or product in the market (for real) but the reality is that you don’t know if that will suit your prospect’s needs. You are assuming that it will and you might be wrong.
Being honest and showing your prospect vulnerability will increase the chances to build trust and long-term partnerships.
5. Become An Expert
Too many times, salespeople make up stuff just because they don’t know what they are talking about. As a consequence, buyers tend to have little trust in sales reps.
Salesforce reported that 79% of buyers want their sales reps to be trusted advisors. Customers are looking for consultants. Building relationships with prospects is a lot like personal relationships. Buyers are looking for a long-term relationship, not a one-night stand!
Together with this finding, it has been shown that buyers want more than just a sales counterpart. As a sales rep, you need to know the ins and outs of your product or service offerings and understand the market. All of this can be achieved only by becoming an expert in your field.
Depending on the industry you operate in, it might be easier to stand out if you know just a little bit better than your competitors the market and how things work for your potential customers.
Invest time in researching the market. Schedule personal development time during your working day to learn about what’s going in the industry. Organize with your team “discussion times” to share knowledge and build confidence. Lastly, connect more often with people within the organization who could help you get a higher than average understanding of what your product USPs are.
6. Follow Your Values As A Person
At the beginning of this article, I wrote that “People buy people, not products”. This means that you need to related to your buyers as a person. In sales, you are quite often told to avoid talking about personal things with prospects as “things could get messy”. You might not want to get involved in political talks. However, keeping a distance with your counterpart will not benefit anyone in building a long-term relationship.
The best salespersons I have met during my career are those who are able to connect with prospects just about anything. Understanding that who you have in front is not only a buyer but also a person, it’s crucial to how successful you will be. Get to know them and share a genuine interest in opening up yourself.
In-person communication is crucial to building truthful relationships. I often see too many salespeople spending so much time in front of the laptop or on the phone, ignoring the value that in-person meetings have. In case geographical limitations don’t allow you to visit prospects with flexibility, have a weekly catch up with prospects that are the most valuable to you.
Sales is a challenging but crucial role in any organization. As industries evolve, so do buyers. Salespeople need to adapt to changes and move away from old tricks. In today’s environment, prospects rely on salespeople who are trustworthy and know what they are talking about. Don’t get stacked with the average Joe. You can’t control the product delivery or other people’s behaviours or market conditions, however, you can control what you do and what you stand for.
Instagram is undoubtedly the most popular visual networking platform. It is famous for its application based design and the look. According to Hootsuite, 4.2 billion posts are liked on Instagram each day. This platform has been successful in creating a great name for itself and the traffic capable of making everyone shine overnight.
If companies are not on Instagram, it is time to reevaluate the decision. Instagram is popular amongst celebrities as well as the general audience. The platform has over a billion users, which clearly displays the potential for businesses to promote their brands. Business owners should also consider integrating their WordPress website with their Instagram account.
Most of the businesses are constantly hunting for stylish, elegant, as well as a powerful blog theme, capable of serving various purposes. Carrie is undoubtedly the best for those running personal blogs.
This theme is renowned for its unique design and various features, including changing fonts, colors, post views, layouts, and a lot more. The theme also comes with the built-in slider, perfect for displaying the Instagram content in numerous ways.
This is a WordPress Instagram theme, crafted with a lot of attention to various tiny details. This theme is perfect for both personal as well as corporate use. The design is timeless and the layout is known to feature customizer options. This allows the user to customize the layout, the colors, and the typography for personalization. This theme is free from any bloats, and you will be able to customize it easily.
The coding of the theme ensures that it is compatible with most of the plugins. You will be able to create and share all your favorite content with this theme and it is only going to cost $24.
If you are looking for a modern and elegant theme, that is not only clean but also pretty, the Brooklyn Indie Band is definitely for you. It is perfect to make represent bands and works also great to display products and services.
This is not just a theme; it is also known to offer diverse assets for making the band site look ideal. This theme is known to include the best possible features and it is going to cost you $39.
Jarsen is unique in comparison to the various other blog themes because of the classic and simple style that follows. This theme is well known and widely used because it offers numerous possibilities, optimization, and responsiveness.
The template is retina ready, great for displaying images and videos on new devices. You can customize this theme in a simple and easy way. The cost is only $49.
Donald is one of the most responsive blog themes in the market. It is perfect for sharing knowledge, displaying personal achievements or usable also as an online web diary. This is a premium blog template and it is convenient for building the various types of professional and personal blog websites. It is based on the CSS framework of Bootstrap and it costs only $19.
This is the go-to-theme by a number of people, interested in creating personal blogs. Its design is clean and bold. The trendy layout and the elegance of this template add value to the website you would build.
It offers various features, including the sidebar layout as well as the layout with full width. You can get four different layouts when purchasing the theme for $39.
In case you are looking to displaying content in an elegant and modern style, this template is one of the best Instagram WordPress themes that you will come across. It features a slider, a header, a carousel, a user-friendly panel and it also has various other amazing features.
This theme offers various layouts and post options along with numerous Google fonts. The setup and installation of the theme are extremely simple. The price is $49.
There are several options when it comes to WordPress Instagram themes. It is certainly difficult to pick one among the many, however, the above suggestions should make your life easier. The most important thing when considering a WordPress theme is to first consider your own needs and then look for what matches the best these. Many templates offer a free version to try out.
What theme did you choose to display in the best way your Instagram profiles? Would you recommend anything else that is not here? Share your suggestions in the comment section below.
Having a happy workforce automatically guarantees they will be productive, too. After all, it’s much easier to get work done when you feel like you are at the top of the world. Of course, it’s as tricky to keep the level of motivation up as it is to bring it up. If you want to be a good and caring boss, you’ll need to realize that this is a permanent job. The changes you implement will have to last permanently, not just for a period of time. Keeping employees happy and productive is what will drive your company to success.
1. Always Give Them Something To Do
People aren’t happy unless they are working. As soon as they don’t have anything to do at the job, they start thinking how pointless it is to even go there. This in no way means that you should overwork your employees and burden them with extra work, just that you should always have projects planned ahead. A little breather between projects is fine, even welcomed, but be sure to start the next phase shortly.
This keeps the mindset of having to work hard ever-present and helps your employees feel like they’re making a difference. In truth, those two components are essential for their mental health, happiness, and productivity. You can even have several projects planned out ahead and then let your employees decide which one they want to work on. This way, you can divide your workforce and have people work on something they’re genuinely interested in. That factor enhances the level of their productivity and happiness all the while leaving them with a purpose.
2. Come Up With A Reward System
The more people go unrewarded for their good work, the less they’re willing to try. After all, what’s the point of working hard if it doesn’t seem to earn you anything than what the others have? Where’s the justice in contributing twice as more without being recognized for it? To counter these thoughts and avoid an inevitable decrease in productivity, you should create a reward system. It can be anything from days off, a raise, or a massage.
In fact, sometimes a kind word is more than enough. This will show your workforce that you take an active interest in what they do and appreciate the work they put in for your company. A simple “you’re doing a great job, keep it up”, will be enough to make anyone’s day.
Of course, real rewards will have a longer lasting effect and will make your employees much more productive and happier. You can start small and then go up to bigger rewards so as to keep things new and fresh and keep the productivity up. Another idea is to ask your team what they would appreciate most as their reward to keep them happy and productive.
3. Encourage Work Harmony
Team building and work harmony are the essence of keeping your employees happy and productive. If they feel like they belong to something bigger than themselves, they’ll feel like they have to do their part to aid the system. It will also give them a purpose in your firm. You can easily achieve this effect by encouraging your employees to socialize and engage with each other. Make them see they’re welcomed and have friends in the office.
Of course, this should be done subtly, not directly. There’s nothing more awkward than your boss forcing you to interact with others. The easiest way to do this is to give them something they all have in common- coffee. Acquire a Blue Pod coffee machine and watch the conversation flow easily during every break. It may start with small talk, but even that’s enough to warm your employees up to one another. In the long run, a simple thing like chatting while drinking your coffee will bring them together and make the work environment healthier and more pleasant for everyone.
4. Make An Effort To Listen
A happy and productive employee is one who is heard and listened to. It’s often the case that bosses just nod their heads to their employees’ ideas, not really caring about them at all. Even more so, we see cases where the boss flat out discourages the employee from being creative by putting down their idea. This leads to frustration and will inevitably lead to negligence of office duties. Don’t be that boss.
When your team is brainstorming, encourage them to come up with as many ideas as they can. They don’t even have to be all good, the important thing is that they’re actively participating. Challenge them to think and change their opinions and steer them towards one vision. They’ll all have something interesting to contribute, that’s guaranteed. Praise the good ideas and make sure to give credit where it’s due. This way your employees feel both heard and appreciated.
There’s nothing more than a warm feeling in their hearts and a smile on their faces. Everyone likes being valued.
As you can see, keeping your employees happy as well as productive is no easy task. Still, we’re confident that you’ll be able to do a proper job due to your dedication to the workplace. Your hard work is bound to go noticed, too. When employees see how much you’re trying to keep them happy and motivated, they’ll have even more reason to keep giving excellent results. In truth, being more conscious of your work environment and how you can improve it can and will prove to be beneficial for everyone involved.