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At our February #SmallandMightySummit, we were lucky to host Ted Nikolakakos, VP of Sales at Salesforce, where he mentioned what the biggest change has been for B2B sales in recent years: that customers don’t want to talk to sales professionals anymore. Thanks to the internet, customers now have access to information so that they’re more informed than ever before. As a result, salespeople come much later in the sales cycle and more so, the sales cycle is no longer in tune with the buying cycle.
As sales professionals, how do we reach our customers when they don’t want to interact with us? The answer is through social media. Although it’s often viewed as a B2C platform, social media can also benefit B2B companies. However, for sales professionals to effectively leverage social media, they need to do 3 things:
They have to think like a marketer.They must build a rock-solid reputation online.And lastly, they need to focus on engagement.
Think Like a Marketer
Nowadays, B2B sales is all about consultative selling: when the salesperson becomes an expert consultant for their prospects. As customers start to educate themselves with their own research and salespeople enter the pipeline at later stages, we need to up our game. How? By thinking like a marketer. By merging sales and marketing through social media, it helps to make consultative selling work in 2 ways:
1. Work with the buying process.
The buying cycle of a customer is never a straightforward journey. Sometimes a salesperson may need to take the customer a couple of steps back to re-educate them. Or the customer is not ready to buy when the salesperson is introduced to them by the marketing team, so the salesperson ‘returns’ the customer to them. No matter what stage the customer is at, salespeople should understand them like marketers and nurture leads throughout the cycle, not just at the end. When the salesperson is involved in their own marketing and owns the entire customer experience, it’s better for the customer relationship and leads to selling more.
2. Use data science to learn about your customers.
You have to learn about your own accounts before you meet them. You are your own analyst. So when your close rates are going up or down, you’ll know exactly why. These days, there are many available tools you can use: Salesforce, apps, social media like LinkedIn. If you better understand your customers, the better you can sell to them.
Build a rock-solid reputation online
Reputation is everything. And these days, we have to ensure that our online reputation like on social media is as solid as our offline reputation. In a marketplace where customers like to educate themselves, we can engage with them by providing content. And by providing reliable, varied, and engaging content, we become a reputable source. Content is a key component to building a reputation in 2 ways:
1. Different audiences, different types of content.
B2B content comes in many forms such as video, audio, and visual. If we’re only providing one type of content, we’re only reaching one type of audience. By varying our content, we can reach more customers and be seen as a more reliable source because of our vast knowledge.
2. Relationship building.
Build relationships with your customers before you start selling to them. You have to gain their trust before you can convince them to buy from you. And that trust starts at the moment when customers see your positive online reputation. So, your content acts as the starting point of building your relationship with your customers.
Focus on engagement
To us, social media looks and feels like the perfect sales platform. But it’s much more than that and we have to remember that it actually isn’t a sales platform. Social media is a place for engaging with customers, not selling to them. You need to drive engagement with your prospects before you ever get to the buying stage. So when it comes to social media, focus on engaging with your prospects in these 4 ways:
1. Creating a pain-free process.
Customers are looking for an effortless and seamless experience across all touchpoints and interactions, particularly in the customer service department. To meet this need, companies need to streamline their processes to deliver quality customer support and leverage social media to be a pain-free touch point with their prospects.
2. Being proactive.
Customers are looking to engage with proactive companies. They’re looking for companies that know what consumers want even before consumers know what they want. For instance, like when companies provide product recommendations based on profiles or past transactions. To do so, B2B companies need to gather the insights to continuously improve their customer support and engagement processes, which then leads to increased sales. And social media is a great tool in gaining these insights.
3. Personalize their experience.
Customers love personalized experiences. Deliver the right experience and you have a happy, loyal, and buying customer. To meet this expectation, companies need to leverage their data of past interactions to provide a better customer experience and service.
4. Optimize customer service.
Companies need to provide differentiated experiences across all levels and always be improving those experiences. But how do we do that on all levels? By empowering our teams with the right tools such as automated scripts and sales and marketing data. Our teams will be able to get a full profile of their prospects to better optimize their experience, which then leads to actual sales.
At the end of the day, social media is an opportunity for any company to interact with their customers. If you think like a marketer, establish a solid online reputation, and focus on engagement, you can leverage social media to its full potential for your B2B sales. Through this medium, you can create your brand, build authority, and improve your customer relationships. Social media isn’t a platform for B2B companies to ignore, it gives B2B companies the chance to engage with their customers and ultimately, drive sales.
Need help with your social media? Contact Change Connect to ask about our training program. We can help make social media work for you.
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“We expect to have solid growth of over 2% in 2018… With interest rate still low, now is the right time for Canadian entrepreneurs to make the necessary investments to grow, become more productive and more competitive,” said Pierre Cleroux, Chief Economist at RBC. That’s great news for Canadian SMBs. With the above-expected growth fueling the economy, we are poised to do even better in 2018. We are betting these trends will help grow your sales organization in the coming year:
Back to the Basics with a Technology Twist
When it comes to B2B sales, most customers revert back to product and price. But when you peel back, you’ll find that they are really looking for reliability and trust. For sales reps, that means getting the basics right. Can technology play a role in building relationships? Absolutely. Subscribe to industry news feeds. Contribute to industry chat groups. Read up on competitor’s latest news. Allow your CRM to be your assistant.
Managing Different Communication Platforms
Today, customers demand personalized and relevant information in real-time in their preferred platform. Let’s admit it – people are moving away from email and onto other communication platforms like Whatsapp, Facetime, WeChat, iMessager, SMS, etc... The key is to be where your customers are. If you want to be at the right place at the right time, you want to be communicating your message in the platform that they prefer.
Better Way to Manage Internal Communication
Let’s admit it – sharing information internally can also be a daunting task. Between email, chat, conference calls and file sharing, information can easily be misplaced and over communicating can be exhausting. Can technology help? Sure. That said, to enable company-side conversation is a cultural shift. Does the culture empower employees to communicate inter-department? Are you working in a silo?
Transform your Customer Experience
Customer Experience is not only a B2C play, it is also fundamental in a B2B buy cycle. When done right, customer experience can actually be a differentiator in the world of B2B sales. This is especially the case where over 70% of your revenue comes from existing customers. Too many B2B service providers still work in silos. To deliver end-to-end customer experience, the back end operations must be seamless - from pre-sales to billing and everything in between. Here is where technology and workflow and training comes in. But most importantly, management must care to build a culture with customer experience at its core.
Embracing Mobile
You do not want your sales executives handicapped by a lack of mobility. An old-school approach to the office will only hinder your sales team. Instead, equip your reps with the tools necessary so that they can make deals on the go. There are countless apps that help keep sales manageable yet mobile, such as Evernote for taking notes, Docusign for getting that closing signature on the spot, or Dropbox so they can move files around without a laptop present. More than just the apps; it’s the mindset – sales is an on-the-go job that needs to adapt to the client’s schedule.
Merging Sales Roles
In 2018 we will continue to see the traditional sales role adapt and evolve into one that reflects the changing business landscape and what that means for the customer journey. What was once a very linear sales cycle has completely transformed, and sales roles need to reflect that. This is particularly true for sales in small businesses, where the ability to wear many hats has already been necessitated. Sales and Marketing, or Sales and Technical Sales, where they once had clearly delineated lines, are in some cases becoming one role as the buying cycle changes. As the roles of marketers and technical sales gain prominence, sales training will become a critical onboarding component so that the ability to close deals is merged with the knowledge and skills necessary for the new client journey.
Building up Agility
In today’s sales climate, trends move quickly and sales executives need to be able to adapt just as fast. An agile sales team is prepared to go with the flow and is ready to modify as necessary depending on the circumstances. As we said earlier, the customer journey has greatly changed and an agile team is best prepared to adapt accordingly. While the changing needs of your customer’s journey are one thing, an agile team is also better prepared for any external environmental changes. This can mean being ready to compensate for a trend that is not in your business’s favor, or it can mean being ready to jump on the next wave before your competitor.
With 2017 ending on a high note, we are optimistic about 2018. Are you a sales manager looking to drive change in your organization? What are your plans for 2018? We are here to help. It’s time to make the Change Connect call.
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As 2017 winds down to a close, having a disaster recovery and backup plan for your small business should be top of mind for 2018. Many organizations experienced cybersecurity attacks in 2017 that shut their business down for a period of time. Regardless of how long that period of time was, the reality is that those businesses lost revenue, and their brand image was impacted as a result.
This can be a lesson for your small business into 2018: be prepared. You cannot predict the things that will happen, but you can ensure that you have a plan in place to deal with them. For small businesses, this means having a disaster recovery and backup plan in place. Whether you’re dealing with hackers, natural disasters or simply human error, you cannot let events such as these derail your business.
Many small businesses don’t want to acknowledge that this can happen to them too, instead thinking that larger enterprise businesses will be the target of hackers. This is not the case, small businesses are just as much of a target, and may in fact be more vulnerable to the effects of having a disaster taking your business offline.
It’s no longer a matter of if but when. As such, preparation is key. You need to have a backup plan for your small business. By having a disaster recovery/backup plan in place, you are protecting your business and ensuring that you can recover, despite “disaster.”
In this blog, we will discuss why a backup plan for your small business is so important to keep your business (and sales) up and running, why Azure Site Recovery/Backup is our recommended backup plan for your small business, and three ways that Azure Site Recovery/Backup can help your small business.
2 Main Reasons Why Having a Backup Plan for Your Small Business is Critical
Data and Disaster Recovery aren’t typically synonymous with Sales, but they aren’t as far apart as you’d think. In fact, having a Disaster Recovery/backup plan in place for your small business is an important facet of good customer service, which is a central tenet of Sales. Below we discuss the two main areas of customer service that can negatively impact your sales, and your company as a whole, if a disaster recovery/backup plan is not in place.
(Not) In Service
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a regular day or one where you’re in crisis mode; either way you need to be able to take care of your customers – or your competitors will. Even if you have the greatest sales rep ever working for your company, they can’t make any sales if the business has been taken offline by an event, whether it’s from hackers or a natural disaster. By having a backup plan for your small business, you can ensure that your business will continue to function with minimal interruptions, something that is absolutely key for continued Sales success.
Maintain Trust
In Sales, trust is critical. Once you’ve worked hard to earn that trust, you don’t want to lose it over something like a data hack. If you look to the recent example of Uber, where a hack compromised the data of 57 million users, the damage to their brand from not being prepared was considerable – and avoidable. Instead of acknowledging that the hack happened, they paid the hackers a bribe and tried to keep it a secret. When it inevitably came to light, it became far more damaging than if it had been properly handled in the first place. For your sales team, trust is critical to maintaining good client relationships and it helps to build confidence in your brand. As such, you must protect your customers and their data. A disaster recovery and data backup plan for your small business can ensure that their trust was not misplaced.
Azure Site Recovery/Backup for Small Business
Let’s consider the following scenario: your sales team is working on a big deal – if they land it, this could mean over a hundred thousand dollars in revenue for your organization. They’ve been working for several weeks to close this customer, and have finally progressed to the ‘close’ phase. They need to provide the customer with a finalized quote by end of business Wednesday. But, on Tuesday night, you get a call from your local fire department… there’s been extensive fire and water damage done to your building.
So, the question becomes, do you have a Disaster Recovery/backup Plan in place? Are you able to get up and running in time to help your sales team meet that 5 o’clock deadline the next day?
Of course, disasters aren’t limited to natural disasters, like fires… In fact, most common causes of IT disasters come from operational failures, like power failures, hardware/software failures, and/or network failures.
This is where Azure Site Recovery/Backup comes into play. Azure Site Recovery (or ASR) allows you to protect your environment in an effort to ensure that you have business continuity in the event of a disaster (like the fire scenario above).
Azure Site Recovery replicates your servers (whether they’re physical or Cloud-based), fails over, and recovers workloads so that they can remain available to your small business if a failure of any kind occurs. Backup service works to keep your organization’s data safe and recoverable.
Simply put, Azure Site Recovery/Backup allows you to proactively protect your organization’s environment and enjoy peace of mind knowing that your environment is fully protected. It never hurts to have a backup plan in place.
3 Ways Azure Site Recovery/Backup Can Help Your Small Business Survive
#1 – Azure Site Recovery/Backup Allows Your Small Business to Test Your Disaster Recovery Options
If you have a Disaster Recovery/Bankup Plan, have you ever tested it? Do you test it regularlyto ensure that, in the event of a disaster, your Plan will perform to your expectations and get you up and running as fast as you need to? Not all Disaster Recovery/Bacnk Plans are easy to test – in fact, if you’re using a third-party provider, they may not even allow you to test it because of the level of complexity surrounding the test.
With Azure Site Recovery, you can test your Plan whenever you want. And running any Disaster Recovery drills won’t have an impact on your primary systems, either. By allowing failover to your backup environment to ensure it’s working, you can give you – and your employees – the assurance and the confidence they need that, in the event of a disaster, your system will function as it should.
#2 – Orchestrated Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) for Your Small Business
As much as we wish it wasn’t so, disasters will hit everyone sooner or later. It’s not a matter of “if”, but “when” a disaster strikes. Small businesses are just as at risk as large corporations. That’s why it’s so important to be proactive and have a backup plan for your small business in place. There are a lot of Disaster Recovery solutions out there today, but Azure Site Recovery certainly ranks up there with one of the best.
Why is this? Because Azure Site Recovery is capable of automating the recovery of services if a site outage happens. This means that your backup system can be set up to automatically kick in should a disaster occur. Even if your organization has complex, multi-tiered workloads, you can still bring over applications in an orchestrated way so that your vital services are restored quickly.
If we look at the fire scenario in the section above, this means that the sales deal your team has worked so hard on closing won’t be affected when that disaster strikes – Azure Site Recovery will automatically fail over to your backup site, and your team can send that finalized quote to the customer by the deadline.
#3 – Your Data is Always Being Backed Up Through Continual Replication
Let’s return to our scenario in the section above and apply it to your business: What would happen if a fire broke out in your building? Do you have a solid enough Disaster Recovery/Backup Plan to keep your small business going with minimal interruptions? How soon would it be before you could get back up and running? A few hours? A few weeks? A few months?
If you use Azure Site Recovery for your small business’s backup plan, you have the opportunity for continuous replication, depending on the type of server you’re using. This means that your data could be replicated on a continuous basis, so all of your data would be available to you from the moment that you choose to failover to your backup system.
So, if your organization had a fire (like in the scenario we gave), you could failover to your backup system and be up and running, quite literally, with a few clicks of a mouse.
A Backup Plan for Small Business is An Important Facet of Good Customer Service
Here’s how a Disaster Recovery/Backup Plan should affect your small business: Your organization suffers a disastrous event, so you failover to your Azure Site Recovery backup the moment you discover how the disaster has impacted your business. Since you had a backup plan for your small business, your sales team sends your prospective client the final quote by the deadline, the customer signs it, and you sit back and celebrate landing that hundred thousand-dollar deal.
This is why Disaster Recovery/Backup plan is so important to small businesses! It helps you continue to take care of your customers, and with a solid Disaster Recovery/Backup plan, you can maintain your data and keep your customers’ trust in you. And Azure Site Recovery/Backup is a solid solution that helps protect your organization’s environment, giving you the peace of mind knowing your environment is fully protected.
Interested in how Azure Site Recovery/Backup can help your small business? Talk to ProServeIT today – their experts can help you set up the right disaster recovery plan for your small business.
Interested in how to manage the adoption of technology? Talk to Change Connect today - our experts can help you manage change and maximize your ROI on technology investments.
This blog post is co-authored by Change Connect and ProServeIT. We publish a monthly blog specifically written for small businesses. Some of the topics we have discussed include security, CRM, Cloud computing, and Business Intelligence (BI). Click here to view a list of the previous co-authored blogs for small businesses.
Change Connect specializes in helping clients to work more efficiently and effectively in pursuit of their revenue goals. We offer customized solutions for small to midsized businesses with a focus on Sales Transformation, which includes our customized sales training. Whatever stage your business is at, whether you’re a start-up looking to expand or an established company looking to move from a plateau to record growth, Change Connect is your partner in transformation.
About ProServeIT
Helping customers secure their identity, data and devices and manage advanced cybersecurity is one of ProServeIT’s main priorities. For over fifteen years, ProServeIT has been going end-to-end on our customers’ transformation journey; from infrastructure, to productivity, security, and managed services, ProServeIT can help guide you through every stage of your digital transformation, helping you be more effective, efficient and safe.
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Top performing sales organizations know that continued success involves incorporating sales efficiency technologies into their sales process. Imagine your most effective sales rep – and then imagine if they were more efficient. That is the idea behind implementing sales enablement technologies to increase productivity and drive your sales successes to further heights. By listening to your salespeople as you evaluate your current sales process and taking a holistic rather than piecemeal approach to productivity technologies, sales enablement technology can be implemented to take your company to the next level.
Below, we discuss in larger detail sales efficiency, driving that efficiency through technologies, and where to get started in the process.
Improving Sales Efficiency – What Does It Mean to Small Businesses?
Start from evaluating your current sales process
Implementing new productivity technologies without ensuring they align with a strengthened sales process is a missed opportunity. Successful organizations know that efficiency must be incorporated in many areas, even when implementing efficiency tools. However, in order to strengthen the sales process, you must first look at its current iteration. Be willing to take a deep dive into what is truly working and what is not.
Have a set of efficiency metrics
You can throw various technology options at the wall and see what sticks, but that can involve a lot of wasted effort. Instead, a carefully implemented set of technologies that are evaluated against a set of Efficiency Metrics is more likely to be a success, and one that can be identified. These metrics need to be clearly defined and based on measurable outcomes.
Use simple metrics, such as communication with prospects, number of cold calls, time spent on sales planning efforts, as well as metrics measuring the time reduction of open deals prior to closing and smarter (faster) client meetings.
Evaluate the technology available that can enhance your sales efficiency
Not only are there many technologies available to enhance productivity, there are also many that can be specifically targeted towards sales efficiency. CRMs, business analytic tools, cloud computing and mobile technology are all productivity and efficiency instruments for sales success when paired with a sales process full of best practices.
Driving Sales Efficiency through Technology – 3 Tools to Consider
Technology improves sales efficiency, simple as that. Mobile technology, for example, enables your sales staff to work wherever and whenever they need to. CRM systems have been designed to help your team stay on track with their clients/customers. Business Intelligence (BI) software helps you track trends and make better business decisions. Cloud-based apps enable your employees to collaborate and be more productive.
Here are four helpful tools that small businesses can implement to improve their sales efficiency.
Customer Relationship Management – Microsoft Dynamics 365
Microsoft Dynamics 365 enables your sales team to:
get a full view of their customers;track their sales opportunities from first contact through to close;provide proactive customer service; andgain insight from their customer data to help them make more informed decisions about how to handle their clients.
In addition, Dynamics 365 also fully integrates with other Office products (like Outlook), which means your sales team doesn’t have to waste time switching from one application to another. In fact, if they’re using Outlook to manage their emails, they can update client records in Dynamics 365 right from their Inbox.
Business Intelligence – Microsoft Power BI
Power BI is a suite of business analytics tools that can help you gain better insight into your organization. With Power BI, you can oversee hundreds of data sources, produce reports, and share them with your organization. And these help you make better informed business decisions.
How exactly does Power BI help increase your sales efficiency? Simply put, Power BI puts your company’s sales pipeline under a microscope. In (literally) seconds, your sales team can see their data pulled from the most common sources (like Dynamics 365 or Salesforce.com). This helps your sales team to better forecast their monthly or annual sales, see how close they are to their sales targets, and see what trends are forming, which would help them to know how to approach their customers.
One of the best things about Power BI is that it is very easy to use. Here are 10 things your sales team can do in their first 10 minutes with Power BI. Want to see a demo of Power BI? Drop us a line and we will be happy to walk you through.
Cloud – Microsoft Office 365
When you implement Cloud computing in your organization, you’re providing one of the most effective ways for your team to increase their sales efficiency and productivity.
How, exactly?
Cloud gives your team the collaboration tools that allow them to stay in touch with their clients and colleagues, and ensures that they have a consistent user experience across any device they use. Your sales team has the opportunity to be as efficient on the go as they are in the office. No matter where they are in the world or how long they’re gone for, mobile technology has made it easy for them to stay just a phone call or email away. Not only Office 365 but also Dynamics 365 and Power BI have been designed to work on any device, including mobile.
Cloud can also make your business much more agile – you can add the products and services you need (often at the click of a mouse), and be up and running, typically within minutes. By doing this, your sales team doesn’t have to wait for IT to install things on their devices – they can continue working without interruptions.
By implementing the right technologies and taking full advantage of them, you can greatly improve sales efficiency and productivity. The productivity increase can also be translated into a dollar value that will give you an idea of how much you can save by utilizing the right technology. See how much your organization will be able to save:
Where to Start? Improve Your Sales Efficiency by Focusing on Sales Activities
In order to make the sales process more efficient, it is important to first consider control. Where does management (and sales) have control, and where is control ceded? What are the activities that management can most influence, and where can the largest results be affected? Or, conversely, where is there less control, and what are the outcomes that are harder to influence?
Throughout the sales process, there are places where sales management can make meaningful changes, and there are also areas that fall heavily into the prospect’s or client’s control. For a successful implementation of sales efficiency strategies, it’s important to focus on the areas where the most change can be realized.
Sales activities are where management has the most control and can affect the greatest degree of change through sales efficiency strategies. Number of sales calls and client/prospect meetings, time spent sales planning, call plan completion – these are activities that can be measured and managed.
While sales objectives do not become any less significant, it is important to understand that there isn’t the same measure of control as with sales activities. These are the areas where the prospect or client will exert more control on the outcome, or simply where salespeople and management have less control. Examples of this are winning and retaining customers, hitting sales quotas and the mix of product or services that are on offer.
Get Started Today to Start Improving your Sales Efficiency Today
Sales, as the revenue generator, is one of the most critical departments in any successful organization. As a result, seeing that it runs to its fullest potential is imperative for good management. Sales efficiency and sales effectiveness, when combined, result in total sales enablement. There is no “one-size-fits-all” sales formula, but if sales enablement technologies are implemented to align with a strengthened sales process designed specifically for your company’s needs, then you will see your organization’s productivity quickly improves.
About Change Connect
Change Connect specializes in helping clients to work more efficiently and effectively in pursuit of their revenue goals. We offer customized solutions for small to midsized businesses with a focus on Sales Transformation, which includes implementing measures to drive sales efficiency. Whatever stage your business is at, whether you’re a start-up looking to expand or an established company looking to move from a plateau to record growth, Change Connect is your partner in transformation. Change Connect – Making Sales Scalable.
About ProServeIT
As a multi-award winning Microsoft Gold Partner, ProServeIT has been helping SMBs increase their efficiency for over fifteen years. We’ve helped over 200,000 clients migrate to the Cloud, and we’re constantly looking for ways to help our clients get the most out of their technology investments. Are you looking for ways to increase your sales efficiency? Interested in some of the solutions that we discussed in this blog? Talk to our experts today about how we can help your organization!
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The customer is at the center of all that we do. Engaging your customers with the right message, at the right place, at the right time, via the right channel, at the right price point is the key to winning in today’s marketplace.
According to IBM, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. That’s 2.5 million terabytes (or 2.5 trillion megabytes) being created on a daily basis - that’s a lot of data! This data that’s being created every day translates into valuable information about your customers. Are you taking full advantage of this?
Small businesses should strongly consider utilizing business intelligence to take advantage of the valuable information available. When utilizing business intelligence for your small business, you can take advantage of technologies and practices that collect, integrate and analyze your data so that you can make better-informed business decisions.
This post is intended to help small business owners and managers understand the benefits of business intelligence for small businesses, and the advantage of using Power BI, a powerful business intelligence tool, that your small business can easily implement.
Business Intelligence Advantages & Benefits for Small Businesses
Uncut diamonds are of little use on their own, but they hold immense potential value. Similarly, raw data has a huge amount of potential, but it is only after the “refining process” using a powerful business intelligence tool (like Microsoft Power BI) that your data’s true worth becomes visible. What exactly are the benefits of business intelligence? Here are three major advantages:
Business Intelligence Benefit #1. Ability to Forecast
Business intelligence gives your small business an ability to forecast because it helps you identify future trends and patterns. From processing your organization’s historical data, you are able to forecast behaviours, patterns, and trends to prepare for your customer’s demands. You can then generate more detailed plans and strategies, which will allow you to make more informed business decisions.
Business Intelligence Benefit #2. Better Customer Experience
Big data can be the backbone of your customer experience platform. With big data, you are in a position to understand your customers better - where they shop, what products/services they are interested in, and what their product/service challenges are. Collection of big data allows your customers to feed you valuable information every day, and better yet, they willingly do so! By tapping into it, you’re in a much better position to personalize their buying experience. As we all know, a “one size fits all” strategy does not work anymore.
Business Intelligence Benefit #3. Agile Pricing Strategy
By taking advantage of big data, you can construct efficient pricing strategies through segmentation. Big data provides information that helps you gain an understanding of the various factors that affect pricing – things like the behaviour of your demographic, the seasons you’re in, your marketing campaign, and your tiers. You are no longer working with lagging indicators; rather, you are working with real-time behavioural trends and patterns to get ahead of the pricing game.
Power BI Benefits for Small Business – Get the Most out of Your Data
To enjoy these three benefits of big data to its full potential, you’re going to need a powerful business intelligence tool that can refine your raw data into those valuable gems. Microsoft Power BI, a suite of business intelligence tools, helps your organization to analyze your data, share insights, and make better informed business decisions. This will provide your small business with a huge competitive advantage.
Here are the ways Power BI can help you harvest the business intelligence benefits discussed above:
Power BI Benefit #1: Power BI helps you forecast.
Do you have numerous Excel files on your laptop and a large amount of customer information in a CRM system like Dynamics 365 or Salesforce? Power BI gives you the capability to pull your data from various sources like Excel spreadsheets, CRM systems, Cloud services, streaming data, and on-premises databases. Wherever your data is housed, Power BI can grab it. In addition, you can take advantage of real-time dashboards, which lets you view problems as they occur and seize opportunities when they come up.
Power BI Benefit #2: Power BI helps you better customer experience.
Using Power BI, you can combine your data sources, create compelling visualizations, and publish your organization’s story on your website or blog, targeting the clients/customers that mean the most to you. In addition, by customizing your communications based on what your data tells you about their buying journey, preferences, last purchases, etc., you can better your customers’ experiences, no matter what communication channels you use to connect with them.
Power BI Benefit #3: Power BI helps you construct efficient pricing strategies.
With Power BI, you can also become more enlightened about incorrect assumptions. Touch-enabled apps for iOS, Android and Windows allow you to access your data from wherever you are, keeping you up to date on what’s happening with your data at all times. Power BI also gives you new insights and analysis into information from your team’s daily operations.
Often, you need to make decisions fast. With the right business intelligence tool, you don’t need to wait until the next time you collect and compile information from various teams and analyze it to generate reports. With Power BI, you can get alerts delivered right to you whenever there are significant changes happening to your data. With this constantly updated data, you are in a better position to construct efficient pricing strategies, whether you are in B2C or B2B market place.
Power BI for Small Business: 4 Things You Can do with Power BI Without IT Help
You and your staff often work remotely and accessing data and analysis at any time from anywhere can save time and increase productivity. There is no doubt that being able to use a business intelligence tool without IT help would be extremely convenient for you and your team. So, what can you do with Power BI right away without IT help?
1. Directly import Excel spreadsheets.
As previously mentioned, Power BI allows you to directly import your Excel spreadsheets in a few easy steps. All you need to do is sign in and browse for the files that you want to import. No IT support needed.
2. Browse from the web or from a mobile device.
Power BI is available on any iOS, Android or Windows 10 device, and getting access to it is simple – just download the Power BI mobile app to your phone or tablet through your app store, sign in to your account, and you’re ready to view and interact with your Power BI dashboards and reports right in the palm of your hand.
3. Monitor your data live.
Power BI lets you create dashboards and reports that are updated continuously via data streaming (meaning you don’t need to hit the refresh button to see the changes to your data). This gives you the ability to track your data in real time, as things are happening.
4. Collaborate with others.
With Cloud-based collaboration, you can ensure that your organization’s employees are always on the same page. Power BI gives you a number of different options for how you can collaborate with your colleagues – creating an app (much easier than it sounds!), or by sharing your dashboards publishing it to the web, or printing and saving it as a PDF, all of which can be done by just a few clicks of your mouse.
Want to see a Power BI demo? Drop us a line to schedule a complimentary demo session. Our Power BI expert will be happy to walk you through.
Business Intelligence for Small Business – Not an Option, But a Requirement
The data phenomenon is a smart way to drive growth in businesses today. By utilizing a business intelligence tool like Power BI, your business can better predict who the customers are, what they want, and where they want to buy it. Think about it this way – your competitors are utilizing business intelligence to better understand and serve their customers. You need to do the same to stay competitive.
This blog post was co-authored by Change Connect and ProServeIT.
About Change Connect
Change Connect specializes in helping clients to work more efficiently and effectively in pursuit of their revenue goals. We offer customized solutions for small to midsized businesses with a focus on Sales Transformation, which includes adapting the sales process to new technologies such as Power BI. Whatever stage your business is at, whether you’re a start-up looking to expand or an established company looking to move from a plateau to record growth, Change Connect is your partner in transformation.
As a multi-award winning Microsoft Gold Partner, ProServeIT is your trusted source to get your small business using Power BI. Our team of experts will be able to walk you through the benefits of Power BI, how you can utilize it in your organization and we’ll also help you determine a plan for going forward that suits your budget and timetable. Contact us today.
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Come July 1, 2017, nothing will be the same for marketers in Canada. CASL will come into force, and it will be its third and final stage. This legislation is one of the harshest in the world, and that’s why both Canadian companies and companies that are operating in Canada have to adhere to it in order to avo
id serious penalties. However, many businesses aren’t sure what they’re supposed to do in the light of this new law, and what exactly it means for their marketing efforts.
What is CASL?
CASL is a law made to protect Canadian citizens from all unsolicited electronic messages sent by companies as a part of their “commercial activity” and marketing efforts. According to this law, all Canadian and global companies have to obtain consent from recipients before they start sending any commercial electronic messages (CEMs) within, to, or from Canada. The only exceptions are commercial electronic messages that are routed through Canada. These provisions will affect both Canadian and global companies operating in Canada, meaning that a company from the U.K. will have to obtain consent from each potential recipient if it wants to send a commercial email in order to promote its services. Apart from that, every SEM has to identify the sender and contain the prescribed contact information, as well as a visible and functioning unsubscribe mechanism in order to comply with CASL.
What is a CEM?
A commercial electronic message is any message that is in an electronic format – an email, text message, instant message, and even certain social media messages. In order to be qualified as a CEM, a message also has to be sent to electronic addresses, such as email addresses, instant message accounts, phone accounts, and social media accounts. Finally, a CEM is a message used to commercially promote a business by encouraging the recipient to take part in a commercial activity, and it refers to promoting various products, services, people, or companies. It’s important to state that blog posts on social media, micro-blogging platforms, as well as fax messages don’t fall into this category.
Not all electronic messages are covered under CASL, and there are several exemptions, which means that in these cases you don’t have to include an unsubscribe button or obtain consent. If a CEMs are:
sent between friends and family members;sent within or between (B2B) organizations that have an existing relationship, as well as, messages sent to employees, consultants, and other business associates;sent in response to an inquiry or complaint;sent as a result of a legal obligation, or in order to enforce a right;accessed or opened in a foreign country;sent on a behalf of a charity or political organization with the purpose of raising funds and obtaining contributions;sent in order to provide warranty or safety information about a product that the recipient purchased;sent in order to provide information about a purchase, loan, bank account, subscription, membership, or any other current relationship, including software updates and upgrades;sent as a referral. This means that a single message can be sent following a referral, and it has to include the full name of the person(s) who provided the referral, the identity of the sender, and an unsubscribe button;sent from instant messaging platforms and social media, which contain a clear unsubscribing mechanism and fully disclose the identity of the sender (LinkedIn, InMail).
Types of Consent
There are two types of consent: implied and express. Implied consent means that you can send CEMs to
a recipient who has an ongoing business relationship with your company;a person who explicitly discloses their personal information, on a website or in a magazine, as well as to a person who gives you their personal information (by giving you their business cards or address);a person who volunteered, participated in the work of, or gave a donation to a charity or a political organization.
Express consent is a written or oral agreement given by a person that they agree to receive SEMs from you, i.e. newsletters, promotions, and notifications. What’s important to understand is that from July 1, 2017, all companies will have to obtain express consent from recipients. After this date, they will be allowed to send SEMs only to recipients from whom they obtained express consent, or to recipients whose implied consent is currently valid, which means 24 months after a purchase or 6 months after an inquiry. Express consent is valid until a recipient unsubscribes.
Obtaining Consent
If you want to obtain consent from a recipient you need to provide them with:
your name or the name of your organization;your contact information, including your email address, phone number, or website so that your potential recipients can reach you for more information;a description of messages that you will be sending them;a clear and free unsubscribe mechanism.
If you are trying to obtain consent on behalf of your client, their name and contact information has to be included, too.
If you don’t comply to CALS, you can face serious fines ranging from $1 million for individuals up to $10 million for businesses. Apart from that, penalties include criminal charges, civil charges, as well as personal liability for company officers.
Our CASL Compliant Data service can help you continue with your marketing efforts in Canada. We can also obtain express consent on your behalf, and provide you with quality CASL complaint prospect lists.
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Cloud Computing. The Cloud. Moving data to the Cloud. Do these terms sound familiar to you? As many organizations of all sizes get to know about the benefits of Cloud Computing, they move their data from on-premises to the Cloud.
So, what exactly is Cloud Computing? Traditionally, an organization’s data was stored in servers in a server room (i.e., on-premises) and they had to be maintained by your IT team. Migrating to the Cloud means renting a server space from a Cloud service provider such as Microsoft and having Microsoft take care of it for you.
The next question is then why would organizations – especially small to midsize businesses (SMBs) – move their data to the Cloud? What are the specific benefits you and your sales team can enjoy from Cloud Computing? Enhanced collaboration. More client-facing time. Increased productivity. Accommodating different work styles. Reducing costs. Just to give you a handful of benefits. To give you a better sense of how your sales team can benefit from the Cloud, here are 3 major advantages of Cloud Computing that this post will explore in detail:
1. Cloud helps increase your sales team’s productivity 2. Cloud helps your sales team go mobile 3. Cloud helps your sales team with a smarter data management
#1. Cloud helps increase your sales team’s productivity
Competitive markets move fast and SMBs need to as well to stay competitive and rise to the top. To keep up with the pace, your sales team should have access to Cloud-based productivity tools, like Microsoft Office 365, to work efficiently from anywhere and communicate and collaborate more effectively with each other.
Consistent User Experience
Enabling your sales team to easily work anywhere on their preferred devices can lead to greater productivity, especially if the right tool is in place. With Office 365, your sales team can use both personal and business devices to access trusted business applications, benefiting from a consistent experience across the various devices including laptops, smartphones, and tablets.
Collaboration Made Easy
Office 365’s important collaboration feature is real-time co-authoring. Our clients have given us extremely positive feedback on Office 365’s SharePoint, OneDrive, and OneNote, as these tools have made it possible for their sales team to edit and contribute to documents at the same time. When your sales team works together on a Word document, for example, your team members will see each other’s edits to text and formatting as they are made.
Staying Professional
As well as access, storage and capacity becomes easier with the Cloud. The ability to quickly respond to clients while out of the office is creating fast-paced, agile sales that reflect customer expectations. Not being able to send a large file or missing a client email because your storage is at capacity signals to your clients that your organization isn’t professional. If your client is using Office 365’s OneDrive and can send and receive large files with ease, you need to have the same ability at the very least. With Office 365, your sales team can quickly and easily respond to their clients.
#2. Cloud helps your sales team go mobile
Mobile technology will continue to evolve and redefine how and where your sales team works, communicates, and collaborates. Your sales team will require expanded access to business applications and data from mobile devices. Office 365 makes reviewing, editing, analyzing, and presenting possible with a consistent user experience optimized for your team’s preferred mobile devices.
Keeping it Fresh
Put yourself in your sales rep’s shoes for a moment: you’ve been out at meeting after meeting, and by the time you get back to your office, the nuances have left your brain. Trying to parse through the notes you cobbled together during your sales calls after the fact, especially once it’s been a day or two, means that you are missing things, period. With Cloud-based tools like Office 365, you can help your sales team work on their mobile devices to easily make updates to proposals in real time and input information into the CRM system immediately after meetings.
Time is Money
We understand that the only thing SMBs want more of than money is time. It is a precious commodity that is so easily squandered. This is particularly true in Sales, where meetings and client-facing time is so critical to the job. The office has improved since the time of desktops and landlines, but for many businesses the bulk of the work still has to be done in house. Imagine your sales team being able to book a few meetings and not having to worry about trying to dash back and forth to the office to get out a rush proposal? With Cloud Computing tools, these can be efficiently done on mobile devices! Time well spent is money well earned.
#3. Cloud helps your team with a smarter data management
The Cloud promises a smarter and faster way of working. Many cloud applications promise and deliver a simpler, faster, smarter approach to running your business. The access to data at your fingertips drives real time decisions to run your business.
Your Data – Remains Yours and Always Under Your Control
You need to have confidence about where your company’s data resides and who can access it. With the increase use of mobile devices and Cloud Computing tools, data security has been a major concern for many SMBs. With Office 365, you can manage who has access to which data. Blocking access on phones and tablets that fail to meet security and encryption standards can also be easily managed. We help you with your data security to ensure your sales team’s mobility without increasing security risks.
Threats Managed
When you think about your data’s security, email traffic control should be high priority as it is often how malware reaches your company. Attacks are becoming more and more sophisticated. To protect your sales team from advanced threats, we utilize Office 365’s Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) to guard your mailboxes in real time. The ATP automatically reviews and evaluates your team’s email attachments and links to detect any suspicious activity.
Data Transformed into Insights = Smart Business Decisions
An increasing number of SMBs are now using a Business Intelligence (BI) tool like Office 365’s Power BI. All SMBs have a large amount of data that can be transformed into insights, and these can be leveraged to make smart business decisions. When the data is simply sitting there, it does not provide your team with any benefits. Sales is only getting more competitive and consumers are the most informed they have ever been. Make your data work for you. By using a BI tool such as Power BI, you can turn an uncut diamond (your raw data) into a refined diamond (business insights). The benefits of using a BI tool? Bottomless! Better business decisions, enhanced data quality, improved customer satisfaction, increased revenue, and reduced external IT costs just to name a few.
Boost your sales team’s productivity with the Cloud!
A sales rep that spends too much time at their desk is not where they are supposed to be – in front of the client. It’s important that the office culture and technology is supportive of a sales process that sees the most closed deals. Implementing Cloud Computing is one of the most effective ways that SMBs can help their sales team increase productivity, while also protecting the company’s interests from data and security threats. Do you want to improve your sales team’s productivity? Get in touch with us today! We are here to help improve your sales processes with the best Cloud Computing practices!
This blog post is co-authored by Change Connect and ProServeIT.
About Change Connect
Change Connect specializes in helping clients to work more efficiently and effectively in pursuit of their revenue goals. We offer customized solutions for small to midsized businesses with a focus on Sales Transformation, which includes adapting the sales process to new technologies such as Cloud Computing. Whatever stage your business is at, whether you’re a start-up looking to expand or an established company looking to move from a plateau to record growth, Change Connect is your partner in transformation.
About ProServeIT Corporation
ProServeIT Corporation (ProServeIT) specializes in a comprehensive focus on cloud computing, IT managed services, custom software development and technology consulting services that provides a competitive advantage to SMBs. ProServeIT was one of the first Canadian Microsoft partners to spearhead the adoption of Cloud Computing and have migrated over 200,000 users to the Cloud.
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People buy from people they like or are like. I say this ALL the time. Let’s be honest, there’s a pretty good chance there’s someone else doing exactly what you do. And it’s never been easier to find those people. So how do you stand out and close that sale? By connecting with your prospects through great conversation. Stop filling awkward silences with the standard, "what do you do?" or "how about that weather?" Start having meaningful and memorable conversations with your prospects.
So how do you get started?
1. Don't settle for just yes or no
Choosing a question that requires more than a single word answer is an easy tactic. By not letting your conversation partner get off easy with a single syllable answer you also gain a great opportunity to learn what makes them tick. It's just one step towards building a strong connection.
2. Active Listening
It's easy to get distracted and simply just wait for your turn to talk. Or worse, just line up a series of questions just to fill dead air but then completely ignore the answers you're getting. Your listener can sense this and can back off. On the other hand, if you actually focus on the conversation in order to give insightful replies or questions then help them feel more confident and hopefully share even more.
3. Compassion
Now that you've been listening with your full attention you can use what you've learned to understand exactly what they're feeling. You may have even have experienced a similar situation. Resist the urge to simply repeat back your story. Instead, help your listener feel more included and comfortable by keeping the focus on them.
4. Memory Game
So you've been listening, right? Now prove it. Bring back relevant details that your conversation partner has shared with you. It proves you cared about their story and are now willing to strengthen the relationship. This goes a long way towards building trust.
5. Offer Insight
We're at the finish line. Now that you've been a great conversation partner you can bring it all together by offering insights. Bear in mind, not all conversations require advice but if you're able to offer helpful guidance based on careful deliberation then you've established yourself as a credible confidant
While this list isn't all-encompassing it's a great start to having stronger, more productive conversations with your prospects. Each tip is designed to make your prospect feel more at ease and to validate their position. By doing so, you'll find it a lot easier to connect with them and become that trusted partner that your prospects are looking for. Just do your best not to talk about the weather.
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In the role of a sales manager, there’re many people that depend on you. Whether is your knowledge, experience or techniques, you are expected to uphold a certain level for each quality. Along those characteristics as a sales manager, your ability to coach is what help keeps your team capable. For a great sales coach, there are 3 most important qualities you need a master:
The ability to listenThe ability to keep from interferingThe ability to build positive relationships with your sales rep
Tip #1: Master your listening skills
Allowing your reps to talk and while listening carefully to what they have to say is an essential skill for sales managers. It is important to for your reps to freely express themselves on the issues or situations they are experiencing. Not does it helps you identify a solution for them quicker, it helps build trust with your reps.
As a Sales manager, you should ask open-ended questions when you are helping them come up with a solution. These questions should help your sale reps identify their own solution rather than providing them with the answer. As they find their own solutions, they will be able to tackle much more difficult tasks in the future.
Tip #2: They will learn with their own experiences - Stop Interfering
One of your ability as a coach is to sometimes do nothing. As a sales coach, you want them to achieve independence. It is difficult to not interfere when one of your rep is struggling, but their lessons learned from their own attempts and failures will stick them much more.
Through you training sessions, guiding your reps to see why things weren’t according to plan with their prospects is an important task. They will learn much faster through their own experiences.
Of course, the mistakes that you let them stumble on should be minor. The objective is to help you reps see what went wrong by themselves.
Build a positive relationship through trust
Coaching your sales representatives becomes much easier and productive when they trust you. Reps that feel confident that they can freely express themselves and know their sales manager have their back will listen and learn much quicker.
Sales reps that don’t trust their sales managers will be dishonest to avoid consequences. They will tell you what you want to hear, and not what they plan to do. You do not want them to hide their bad behaviours out of fear you will judge them.
If they can’t express themselves freely, then you can’t help to address their problems. As a sales manager, your main goal is to help improve your reps help and building a strong positive relationship with them is the fastest route.
Final Thought
The best way to coach your reps is to help them develop their own solutions. Ask open-ended questions to guide them and to give them the opportunity to learn their own lessons.
Your sales representatives improve much quicker when they know you are there to support what they do.
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Your sales people are the face of your business, which means you want to keep them happy, motivated and engaged. Sales people who perform exceptionally well are difficult to find, so when you have them, you want to keep them. However, even the happiest team members can become unmotivated at times. Salespeople oftentimes feel they are constantly under fire from having goals and quotas to meet, being the primary point of contact for potential and existing customers, and oftentimes being at the receiving end of complaints from disgruntled clients.
Still with all the demands they may be faced with, quality sales people want to succeed. Below is a list of tips to keep your sales people happy and motivated.
#1 Build Trust: There is perhaps nothing more important than staying in constant communication with your team. But, the communication can’t be shallow; it must be in-depth conversation whereas everyone is being entirely upfront, honest, and transparent. Trust plays a major role in motivation. Your sales people need to have confidence that you trust them and that they can trust you as well. Having this form of open communication will build trust and lay the groundwork for discussing goals and challenges.
#2 Build Relationships with Your Sales Team: It is difficult to motivate the members of your sales team without knowing and understanding their personalities. Each one will have their own style of selling and an effective manager will understand this is an important factor in knowing how to develop a strategy and set goals for all sales personnel.
For instance, some people thrive on public recognition of their accomplishments while others prefer a more personal approach. Also, in regards to other forms of feedback, you will have some members of your sales team who want to know the moment an issue arises, whereas others may prefer an email. Building relationships and finding a common ground for communication will enable problems to be readily addressed and praises to be acknowledged. So, when motivation falters, the problem can be resolved quickly.
#3 Set Goals: As you nurture the business relationship with your salespeople, you’ll know whether they are motivated by recognition, friendly competition with peers, cash, or a desire and commitment to positively impact the organization. Being challenged with goals is a key motivator. Always set realistic goals and create different types of objectives, ranging from quotas to goals that will help each person grow individually.
#4 Encourage Self-Care: Motivation can falter when your team is not taking time for self-care. Regardless of long days or quotas that need to be met, if stress is an issue, the drive to excel will lessen. If you notice a sales person not producing at his or her normal capacity, or less personable than normal, take time to find out what the issue is and if possible help the person get re-engaged. If it’s been a while since he or she enjoyed time off, encourage it. Having a healthy balance in life is essential to success, both personally, and professionally.
#5 Inspire Camaraderie: It is easy for salespeople to become isolated from other departments in the business because they are juggling so many tasks. However, department members should get together routinely to avoid finger pointing and miscommunication. Through being provided with the opportunity to openly discuss issues, goals, hurdles, etc., it ensures that everyone is aiming towards the same result and encourages everyone to work together. This builds relationships and mutual respect, which has the ability to quickly launch into new growth for the company.
#6 Make the Rewards Meaningful: Cash rewards, public recognition, and higher commissions are great incentives, but when you take it a step further, it makes it more personal; which can be a great inspiration. By making the rewards meaningful, you convey that you know the person as an individual. For instance, perhaps one of your sales people has three small kids and he and his spouse never go out due to lack of reliable childcare. A meaningful reward in this instance would be to provide childcare for them, or give them a weekend away.
On a group level, the reward may be treating everyone to a barbecue at your place, or going out to lunch in the middle of a workday. The point is, show that you appreciate them for more than their sales efforts; and recognize each of them as individuals whom you appreciate and respect for their hard work and dedication.
#7 Be Creative: Ask for input from your sales team as to what they’d like to see implemented. The results may take you by surprise and include anything from fun group outings, team building exercises, or additional vacation time.
Knowing how to motivate your team could result in more participation in the less fun tasks such as cold calling. When it is attached with a desired reward, some members will step up to the challenge without a second thought.
Final Thoughts
Ultimately, when you have salespeople who want to succeed, they can be easily motivated by these simple suggestions. As you hire salespeople, evaluate them carefully to ensure they have the morals and values that fit your requirements. Anyone can lose motivation occasionally, but there are people who lack motivation altogether and regardless of the amount of effort or training you invest in him or her, you can’t change their personality. Select people that have the right personalities and invest in making them happy so they will be devoted to you long-term.

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