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We’ve been thinking and talking about the future of B2B sales a lot, especially through the lens of Sales Enablement. We wanted different perspectives on the subject, so we contacted a group of sales enablement & b2b selling experts and asked them. Here’s what they had to say.

What are the best B2B sales development opportunities for companies in the coming years and why? Olli Syvänen

Founder and Chairman, Helsinki Sales Academy Oy - Linkedin

I think companies should think more about how they can harness every function of the company for Sales Enablement. This requires the naming of at least one person as a Sales Enablement role. This person should also be given enough influence in the company. You often hear about the philosophy of “everyone sells”. I think that’s misleading, since you need to find the most fitting way for each function to enable sales.

Arif Samaletdin

Managing Director, Mirum Agency - Linkedin

1. Shaking up old-fashioned sales and this notion: I see that the faster companies manage to get rid of old practices and create conditions for salespeople to be more than “just” salespeople, the more they will succeed. We’ll be seeing more and more superstar salespeople who have risen to a sales oriented role from an expert role and sell in addition to other responsibilities.

2. Contents and various business tools: Not exactly a new thing, quite the opposite, but I still see building the right tools and content for the customer journey and to make buying easier as a great opportunity. In order to truly set yourself apart, it’s integral to invest in the experience.

Hannaleena Koskinen

Head of Media Sales, SOK Media - Linkedin

From my perspective a company may have traditional assets that could be used as a tool for growth hacking e.g. when those assets are commercialized into a B2B offering. A good example of that is the "Retail as a Media" -thinking: the consumer touchpoints during their buying journey could be turned into commercial B2B assets.

Juha Einesalo

Sales Director, Lähitapiola Pääkaunkiseutu - Linkedin

Definitely utilizing digitalization and many channels in the sales process. Different tools, BI, AI etc. help us streamline sales and target it better to the right customers and their needs.

Jarkko Lindroos

Director, Strategic and new accounts, Digia Oyj - Linkedin

Better conceptualization of services and clear presentation of their functional business benefits.

Johannes Karjula

CEO, Kokemuksia.fi - Linkedin

Increasing remote sales: borders will disappear for good and markets will open everywhere. Sales still must happen naturally, and a personal relationship always makes buying easier. VR demos of results: there are many products and solutions, the results of which can be demonstrated using VR technology. The introduction of AI into prospecting, contacting and targeting: an obvious trend through the necessary development of software. The top salesperson’s attributes are changing: the salesperson is required to have increasing skills in using software to support sales (especially in prospecting and the timing of sales activities) and an understanding of how marketing works and what kinds of marketing actions can be taken or have been taken before personal contact with the customer. The value of an individual’s work isn’t likely to diminish, but the salesperson’s profile will change.

Aleksi Rautakorpi

CCO, Pop Media Oy - Linkedin

A multifaceted answer: 1. To utilize developing technologies (automation, chat bots, web analytics, lead generation) 2. To collect customer data and act based on it more efficiently (CRM/MAS) 3. Investing in fundamental sales: quality counts for more than ever before, when facing the customer.

Jukka Niittymaa

Account Director, Sherpa - Linkedin

In B2B-sales, the ability to reach the right person at the right time is more important every year. On the other hand, the significance of inbound sales will keep growing, even if it is only a small part of a salesperson’s day-to-day now.

Mikko Räty

CEO, Transfluent Oy - Linkedin

Finnish companies have amazing possibilities in expanding abroad and grow that way. Online commerce and digital solutions have made this possible. In addition, the world keeps getting smaller as translation technologies keep making contacting and communicating with people easier, removing language barriers in communication.

Sami Lampinen

Regional Vice President, Enterprise Sales, Salesforce - Linkedin

There is still lots of room to grow in inbound automation and experience. Most of the companies miss these truly simple (but bit technical) opportunities to serve their prospects better in the channels these prospects spend their time before 1st contact with sales reps. Numbers are there to justify every penny of investment. Unfortunately, only few advanced companies I know are using these technologies e.g. lead qualifying bots, advanced audience targeting and simple customer advocacy/connections to support growth of their company.

Pekka Räsänen

Sales and Client Lead, Hopkins Oy - Linkedin

Companies, as do we at Hopkins, should focus, put their energy and resources into inbound marketing. Especially in content creation that speaks to your potential buyers and has the right kind of industry-specific market approach.

This is because of two reasons:

First, decision-makers evaluate their options and make their short list of service providers before contacting the actual service provider. This process usually starts from search engines. If customers can find you in search results, there is a big chance that you'll be one of the candidates in that short list.

Second, by offering exciting content that provides both information, solves problems and guides the potential buyer in the decision-making process, will increase your chances of being contacted by the potential customer.

The best proof of this happening here at Hopkins, was when our potential customer (now an existing customer) made searches on Google and found our article that matched the search and need of the customer. This led to a contact request and a few weeks after that we started cooperation.

I still see cold calling necessary and essential part of the sales process, but raising potential customers interest over the phone, getting the first meeting and in best cases starting the cooperation from that cold call, can be a long and rocky road.

So, there you have it. While digitalization plays a part in every answer, thoughts on how it should be utilized are varied. It makes complete sense, considering that all respondents are operating in their own business environments with unique characteristics, challenges and possibilities. Still, based on the answers we can clearly conclude the opportunities digitalization is offering are so abundant that you can find something to help you at every step of the sales funnel and the customer journey.

We highly appreciate all the respondents for sharing their thoughts and providing valuable insight regarding what to take into consideration when planning sales development!

If you’d like to talk about this topic more with us, don’t hesitate to shoot us an email or book a call with one of our Sales Enablement experts!

Henri Piipponen, Sales & Marketing Director
+358 50 650 0051
henri.piipponen@salesframe.com

 
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Salespeople are busy. They have quotas to hit, calls to make, proposals to draft and people to meet. Important stuff, urgent stuff. There’s always something to do, and nothing is more frustrating than being held back by tasks you shouldn’t have to do in the first place. For sales reps, that’s combing through a network drive to find a document or trying to choose the right font in PowerPoint. So, where’s the problem and how to fix it?

1. Reps might spend 30h each month on searching for & preparing materials
  • That’s four workdays a month. Chances are you’re not surprised by that statistic. Maybe you’ve seen it before. Maybe you know from experience.

  • Materials might be in an intranet that’s unnecessarily complex or badly organized. They might be on network drives, scattered over multiple locations.

  • When you finally find what you need, it might be outdated. Now you, a sales rep, have to start modifying marketing materials. Maybe you don’t have permissions to update the materials directly on the network drive.

  • So now you’re downloading files to your device and editing them just for yourself. And that leads into problem number two.

2. Why are B2B sales materials inconsistent?
  • If finding the right material is a pain for the salespeople and they don’t know if the materials are being updated, they’ll stop trying to look for them.

  • It’s easier and faster for sales reps to make, modify or update their own materials than browsing network drives. This, of course, means that every salesperson has their own little collection of materials, that don’t look like the materials the next rep has.

  • The content carefully created by marketing goes unused, and everyone’s time is wasted. When reps have to make their own materials, they concentrate only on their expertise, which leads to the third problem.

3. Presentations don’t support dialogue in meetings
  • Typically, materials for meetings are prepared in advance. If all you have is that PowerPoint file with the slides you carefully picked, that meeting is a presentation, not a conversation. That’s all well and good, sometimes.

  • But what if the customer asks a question that’s outside of the scope of that particular presentation? Are you going to lose that opportunity because that topic wasn’t something you prepped for?

  • Okay, maybe you can start looking for the right file from your computer during the meeting or submit materials later, but that doesn’t provide a good customer experience.

How to make B2B material usage easy and effective?

First and foremost, stop cutting and pasting material together to make a Frankenstein’s sales deck. Instead of using a variety of file storage systems, material sources and apps, concentrate everything in one place. One way for everyone to present, one way for everyone to build a presentation and all materials centralized in one place.

If the material is properly organized, relevant and up to date, salespeople won’t have to waste their time modifying it or making their own. If salespeople can spend several hours more each week actually selling, everyone wins. Centralizing also benefits marketing and management by giving them more control over what material gets used in the field.

Here’s the value extraction portion of the article. Salesframe is a way to organize and distribute presentation materials, so that marketing and management can control what gets used in the field and so that sales reps don’t have to waste time looking for or making materials for their meetings. If you’d like to discuss this topic in more detail, don’t hesitate to book a call with one of our sales enablement experts. Also, why not try Salesframe for 30 days for free and see for yourself, how it can enable your whole sales team!

Henri Piipponen, Sales & Marketing Director
+358 50 650 0051
henri.piipponen@salesframe.com

 
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The new year is fast underway, and sales organizations are gearing up for evolving and breaking last year’s records. Faster Internet connections, more powerful devices and better digital tools are fuelling the ever-accelerating digitalization machine. Sales and marketing teams across the globe are adopting new methods and employing new tools to react to and grow with these changes. Among AI, data driven sales, native advertising and many more growing trends in marketing, materials used by salespeople to push cases forward are evolving too. Here’s a brief look to some of the main trends in sales and marketing materials in 2019:

1. Materials are becoming Authentically Digital

Fewer and fewer digital sales materials are PDF versions of print brochures. Almost all materials are now digitally distributed, and everybody’s wise to it. The sales and marketing materials of 2019 are made to be viewed on devices, not on paper. This means materials have a whole different set of rules. The fine print and page numbers must die, so that vertical scrolling and horizontal swipes can live.

2. Materials will live in the cloud

Nobody wants to download a presentation, if they can just present it. Cloud services and online tools, like Google Drive and Office Online (and Salesframe) are making downloaded and locally stored materials obsolete. The sales and marketing materials of 2019 are automatically updated, version controlled and backed up. You can leave that external hard drive or thumb drive at home, just make sure you can go online where you’re going.

3. Video keeps getting more relevant

You’d think we’ve reached peak video usage by now, but no. Not even close. Faster connections and devices are making showing videos anywhere more convenient, and cheaper cameras and easier editing software are making video production more affordable. Professionally produced videos will still cost you, but some basic things you can do with your phone with no training or budget. A basic introduction video for saying hello to your client? You can shoot it, edit it and upload it without ever sitting down at a computer.

4. Interactivity: Materials people will want to play with

Imagine being given the option between copy-and-pasting an address of a restaurant from their website to Google Maps, or having Google Maps embedded on the website, with the location of the restaurant pinned. You might not do the former at all, but you’re definitely clicking that map and zooming it in and out to see exactly where that restaurant is. Now apply that to B2B sales materials. Instead of looking at a spread sheet, wouldn’t you rather play with a benefit calculator? Instead of flipping through a catalogue of available parts, wouldn’t you rather build your own?

5. Personalized content

Whether it’s an ad campaign that uses AI to determine which products you might be interested in, or just a really good slide template being properly used, personalized marketing is blowing up. In B2B sales materials, that means making a presentation customer specific. In the olden days of yore, that meant spending hours or even days building a presentation for a customer from scratch. Not in 2019. Maybe your slide templates have a predetermined spot for a customer logo. Maybe your presentation starts with a short video clip of your CEO saying hello to your prospect personally. Maybe you can easily pick and choose materials based on what topics, products, operating countries or other areas of interest are relevant to your customer.

If any of these topics are of interest to you, or you’re looking for a solution to support all these five trends, Salesframe can most likely help! It’s super easy & convenient. If you’d like to discuss this topic more, don’t hesitate to book a call with one of our sales enablement specialists or just click that chat icon in the lower right corner of the page and start a conversation! Also check out my previous article, listing the 9 best free online tools for creating graphs for marketing materials!

Mikko Oittinen, Creative
+358 44 271 5515
mikko.oittinen@salesframe.com

 
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From a marketer’s point-of-view, it’s sometimes hard to tell if your hard work is in vain. You get detailed analytics on your website and reports on the results of an ad campaign, but how do you know if all that material you created for the sales team ends up being used out there in the field?

Most of the time, you don’t. Let’s look at some of the core issues with getting the right marketing material out there and what to do about them.

Marketers don’t see how materials are being used

Marketing people aren’t in the field to see what salespeople do in sales meetings. Marketers might work for ages to build a 30-slide deck, but they are often blindfolded as to what happens afterwards. This causes many problems:

  • If you don’t know which slides are being used, there’s nothing to be learned or adjusted.

  • Imagine ten different sales reps making their own modifications on the slides without telling you and presenting with those. Now all your salespeople are telling different stories and any notion of brand cohesion is out the window. Everything is scattered, and there are as many versions out there as there are sales reps.

  • Your carefully crafted brand might be represented by slides full of Comic Sans and cartoon clipart, while the marketing department is oblivious and keeps churning out PowerPoints nobody really uses.

  • Up to 90% of content created by marketing can be left unused, which is a huge waste of resources. Especially in a b2b environment, expensive content like 360 pictures or long brand videos tend to be rarely used.

What marketers need, then, is a way to follow which materials are used and how often. Not which slide decks are being downloaded, but which individual slides are being used. The same goes for other types of materials as well. If every salesperson always shows that one video you had made, maybe make another one. And stop creating material that doesn’t get used.

Problems with managing content on network drives

Many companies, perhaps yours, keep their marketing materials on network drives, so that they are available to everyone. Salespeople download the materials from there onto their own devices and do with those as they see fit. There are few things the marketer should take into consideration:

  • This would be a decent system, if nothing ever changed. If materials have to be updated, for whatever reason, there’s no control over whether salespeople update the materials on their devices, let alone third-party sellers or business partners. Version control is virtually impossible.

  • Larger the company, more likely it is that some salespeople are selling new products with old materials. Or worse yet, materials that are both old and new and have contradictory information on them.

  • Do your salespeople know for sure where to find the materials they need? Do they know if they’ve been updated? Are you sure?

Some network drives allow for some level of version control, but if salespeople have to download the material, there’s no guarantee that version control helps. What salespeople need, is the latest material, automatically pushed to them. No more downloading PowerPoints. Instead, they should get the materials without lifting a finger.

Bringing sales and marketing together

It’s not enough, of course, to be able to push marketing materials onto salespeople. It’s also not enough to be able to follow what salespeople do in the field. If you, as a marketer, aren’t helping the sales team, they’ll keep doing things the way they used to.

By getting analytics on sales reps’ activity, you’ll get insights about material usage, which helps marketers create better materials and content, which helps sales reps to perform better in their job. You’re responding to their needs, saving their time and giving them what they need to close more deals.

By using a sales tool which centralizes all your materials in one place, you’ll enable the sales reps to find the right materials quickly and easily pick the right stuff for their meetings and presentations. You, as a marketer, always have the control on what materials are being used, and at the same time enable sales reps to do their work better and sell more! The best results are made when sales and marketing work together.

By the way, if you identified your company’s situation in this article, we at Salesframe can probably help you! Book a call with one of our sales enablement specialists if you’d like to discuss this topic more, or just open that chat window in the bottom right corner of the page and start a conversation!

Henri Parviainen, Sales Manager
henri.parviainen@salesframe.com
+358 400 515 676

 
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Advance B2B organized their first Sales Tech event this November. We had the privilege of being a partner in the event, and it was a pleasure to meet so many people and discuss the role of automation, AI and tech in selling today and the possibilities they provide for businesses.

Here are a couple of key thoughts that especially caught our attention.

Salespeople spend 5,5 hours every week updating CRMs

One of the speakers, Advance B2B’s Mikko Seppä, gave a presentation on 5+1 myths about CRMs:

  1. CRM is a system

  2. CRM is expensive

  3. CRM is a tool only for salespeople

  4. CRM exists only for reporting and stalking

  5. CRM system is a project for IT

  6. Salespeople hate CRMs

If an organization thinks like this about it, they haven’t really understood the potential of CRM. Mikko had good insights and arguments on how these myths can be corrected and the true nature of CRM being completely different and providing significant value for businesses. In short, his conclusions on the myths were:

  1. The core of CRM is not the system itself, but customer relationships and how to manage them better.

  2. CRM is not expensive – the market today provides a wide variety of competent CRM systems, some of them even for free.

  3. Besides sales, CRM systems provide big value for marketing by enabling communication with customers throughout the lifecycle, tracking and showing results of marketing efforts, and to plan and deliver customer focused growth.

  4. CRM is not for stalking. It’s central, for example, for business forecasting and planning, developing sales, and for managing customer relationships and satisfaction.

  5. The customer is the most important most important person in the CRM. Sales and tech teams both need to understand the company’s joint vision before digging into single functions in the system.

  6. Salespeople spend, on average, 5,5 hours every week updating CRM, so it’s no wonder they hate it. Organizations need to create CRM processes that serve the salespeople and make their lives easier instead of forcing people into time consuming routines with no value.

Hopefully most organizations are already utilizing the potential of CRM, using it in a way that enables their employees to perform better every day. We think that many businesses are going in the right direction already, but if these myths about CRM persist, there is definitely room for development.

Just as a reminder – Salesframe is also a tool for enabling salespeople to utilize their working hours more efficiently, so if this is a challenge in your business, you can find out more about our tool here.

AI – The Perfect Sales Assistant

Another speaker today, Salesforce’s Juha Teljo, focused on the nature and development of AI and how it relates to business. AI has already been a buzz word in the biz for some time and it was interesting to hear more about how it actually works in the context of B2B sales.

Juha proposed that AI can help and assist companies, providing more information for people for better decision making. Many companies are still taking baby steps when it comes to utilizing AI. It’s useful to review what the recurring actions are in your sales processes and consider using AI to automate some of those processes. Juha also shared some concrete use cases on what AI is already providing to make sales more efficient:

  • Lead scoring

  • Pricing optimization

  • Opportunity scoring

  • Product recommendations for up- and cross-selling

  • Better forecasting

  • Smart data capture (like voice recordings)

Employees will understand the value of AI better when it’s made a tangible part of the tools they use every day, therefor making it something concrete and not some abstract concept. As a nice conclusion, Juha pointed out that AI can be considered as the perfect sales assistant – giving you better information and helping you work better.

Besides the two presentations referenced, we enjoyed an interesting and interactive panel discussion and heard Advance B2B’s review of the most useful tools in the Sales Tech landscape.

Our team really enjoyed all the talks, interactions and insights throughout the day. Thank you to all the participants and especially to Advance B2B for organizing such an interesting event! We’re already looking forward to the next one!

Lauri Ruhala, CEO
+358 50 410 0052
lauri.ruhala@salesframe.com

 
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In the past decade, the market has provided us with quite an enormous supply of technologies, AI, automation and so on, helping companies optimize their selling processes. It’s clear that these new technologies are providing value, but if you ask an average company about what the share of inbound cases is from all their sales opportunities, they’re likely to say it’s not that much. Most B2B salespeople still need to make cold calls to people who haven’t heard about the product or service before. Even if you’re satisfied with selling only to inbound leads, there are high chances that you’re missing many outbound opportunities and thus not maximizing the productivity of sales. Cold calls are still a critical part of B2B sales.

Here are 8 rules-of-thumb that will help you get the most of those cold calls.

1. Research before calling

The key to a successful sales call is reaching the right person. The only way to have a meaningful conversation is to talk to someone who both understands what you’re talking about and is a decision maker in their organization. So, do the research. Find out who that person is in your target organization and find some information about their business so that you’ll be able to talk about their interests and needs. Calling the wrong person is a waste of time, unless they can direct you to the right one. Cold calling without knowing anything about the business you’re contacting is also a waste of time, since you won’t have anything of substance to talk about. Still, don’t overdo it with the research. Your time is precious, and you shouldn’t put too much time into a single call.

Bonus Tip!
Different technologies developed in the past few years can help you identify the right person, making your cold calling work easier. For example, here at Salesframe, we are currently using LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Vainu.

2. Don’t start pitching immediately

When people answer the phone, they’re not necessarily at a good spot. Maybe you caught them off guard or maybe they were really focused on something else when you called. It’s better to start with a calm opener: greeting, who you are, where you’re calling from. Wait for the client’s response. When they respond, you know you have their attention and they’re listening to you. This way they might actually remember what you’re about to say.

3. Explain your value in about 15 seconds

Make the conversation interesting and relevant for the client. You need to be brief here and convince the client that they should keep listening.

·         Introduce the topic

·         Make it relevant with a reference

·         Explain the value you’re providing

·         Transition to a conversation with a question

4. Ask and listen

You’re calling the client to help them. Only if you listen and learn about their situation can you find out what they need or what you can sell them. Typically, the more time you spend conversing and especially listening, the better you will understand the client and what value you can offer them.

5. Help the client & maintain quality

A good cold call doesn’t always mean you have to book a meeting. Finding out whether there’s something you can do for them is a service to both you and your client. In the end, you’re helping the client with their business. If you can’t do that, then it’s better to be fair and open about it. Identify if there’s an opportunity you both want to spend time on. If you’re going to meet the client, you’re investing hours of your own time in it too. By identifying the quality of the opportunity in advance, you can avoid unproductive meetings and use your time on other prospects.

6. Be yourself

Everybody’s different. You might have good chemistry with someone, and not so much with someone else. Stay polite and professional but try to always be comfortable and always be yourself. You’ll sound much more natural over the phone when you’re not pretending.

Bonus tip!
Smile as you speak, people can hear the difference.

7. Call after 4 PM

The best time to reach people is late in the day, when decision makers aren’t so occupied with meetings. Also, they’re usually in a better mood when they’re about to head home. So, if you want to maximize the number of calls answered, schedule your calling efforts after 4 PM.

8. Don’t mind the rejections

Getting rejected is a natural part of sales in general and cold calling in particular. You shouldn’t worry about it. There will be better days and days when you have no success. Just keep working systematically to maintain the size and quality of your sales pipeline. Also, it helps to do some self-assessment and share insights with colleagues. That way you have a chance to learn about best practices and how to improve your daily work.

For more insights on selling, check out our other blog articles. If you’d like to get to know us better, you can book a call!

Henri Piipponen, Sales & Marketing Director
+358 50 650 0051
henri.piipponen@salesframe.com

 
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We did the research on this, so you won’t have to.

I set out on a quest to find the best tools out there for creating beautiful and informative graphs for marketing materials. Turns out, there are tons of different tools out there that let you make graphs from your own data. I wanted a way to quantify which ones are the best, so I broke each of them down to five key features:

Usability – How easy and pleasant is it to use?

Customizability – How well can graphs be customized?

Data Input – How well can you input your own data (ease of use, ability to import csv- or excel-files etc.)

Exportability – In which formats can you export the final product?

Style – Do the graphs look good?

Here are short reviews of the X best free tools for creating graphs for marketing materials online, with links! These are in no particular order, if you just want to see the winner, scroll down to the bottom.

Meta-Chart

This very easy graph-making tool takes you through creating a graph in four easy steps, lets you upload csv-files and copy-and-paste data as well as customize the colors, fonts and formatting comfortably. You can download the finished product in several different formats including PNG, SVG and PDF. It’s not entirely without its faults, however. The top of the page is covered with garbage clickbait links to “articles” and the user interface is quite ugly indeed. Additionally, while it’s possible to make stylish graphs with this tool, the default settings are all pretty awful, so it’s up to the user to use quite a bit of time and effort to make it look decent.

Usability: 2/5
Customizability: 3/5
Data Input: 3/5
Exportability: 3/5
Style: 1/5

Final verdict: 2/5 Feels like the year 2005. But it’s free.

Piktochart

This is a very stylish and easy-to-use tool with tons of features and beautiful templates for all sorts of presentations. A large variety of different graphs and the ability to even import dynamic data from Google Spreadsheets makes it a powerful tool for material creation. It does, however require logging in, which probably means that your data is being sold to third parties, if you care about such a thing. Also, lots of features are behind a paywall. The actually useful features of high-quality and PDF exports, watermark removal and custom color schemes require the Pro version, which will set you back a whopping 29 USD a month. That’s basically the same price as a corporate license of an Adobe software like Illustrator or InDesign. For fairness sake, I’ll review this only by what’s available for free.

Usability: 5/5
Customizability: 3/5
Data Input: 5/5
Exportability: 2/5
Style: 4/5

Final verdict: 3/5 The paid version would get a perfect score, but the free version is crippled by restrictions.

Infogram

This, again, is not really a free tool. It’s very easy to use, stylish, powerful and customizable with animations and a variety of ways to input data, including JSON-files and Google Sheets. However, if you don’t want to pay anything, you can only share links to your presentations on their website. To download the charts in any format, you need to upgrade to the paid version which will cost you 25 USD a month. Even then, you’ll have the Infogram logo slapped on your presentations. If you want to remove it or replace it with your own, you’ll have to pay 79 USD a month. That’s more than Adobe’s entire Creative Cloud!

Usability: 5/5
Customizability: 4/5
Data Input: 5/5
Exportability: 1/5
Style: 4/5

Final verdict: 2/5 The fact that you can’t download without paying makes the free version almost entirely useless.

Google Charts

Look, it’s Google. It’s a 100% free and endlessly customizable with a dizzying array of features and options. But it’s Google for Developers. So, it’s not very pretty (unless you’re a CSS wizard) and all its fantastic features and options make for a very steep learning curve. This is an amazing tool for creating dynamic graphs on the web, but you need a developer and a designer to use it and it’s not even meant to be used for marketing materials and sales presentation materials.

Usability: 2/5
Customizability: 5/5
Data Input: 4/5
Exportability: 1/5
Style: 2/5

Final verdict: 2/5 It’s very powerful, but not for your sales pitch.

Visme

Visme is another tool that’s easy to use, looks good, offers a wide variety of templates, features, options and data inputs, but to access everything, you need to pay. It’s not as pretty or as easy to use as Piktochart or Infogram, but it offers pretty much all the same features and you can still make great charts with it, if with a little less style as its competitors. The free version has JPG and PNG download options, but not at a very high resolution. However, if you’re going to pay for it, this one is a lot cheaper than the competition. The most important features, like PDF download, Visme brand removal and all chart options, are available for 19 USD a month, with the full package for just 30 USD.

Usability: 4/5
Customizability: 3/5
Data Input: 5/5
Exportability: 2/5
Style: 3/5

Final verdict: 3/5 Not the best at anything, not the worst at anything.

ChartGo

This one feels like web tools in the early 2000s. It’s easy to use, I’ll give you that, and you can upload your own Excel or CSV-files. It’s completely free, even if there are some ads on the page, and it lets you download your charts in a variety of formats without signing up or paying for anything. In fact, I don’t think it’s even possible to sign up for anything on this site. But, like I said, it feels dated. That means it’s a collection of inputs, in what feels like not a very carefully considered order. It looks like it was designed in 2003 and the graphs it creates look like they were designed in 1999. Just not good enough for sales and marketing materials in the late twenty-teens.

Usability: 4/5
Customizability: 2/5
Data Input: 4/5
Exportability: 4/5
Style: 2/5

Final verdict: 3/5 It’s free and it looks like it’s free.

Plotly

Plotly (or Plot.ly) is an extremely customizable graph maker. It has tons of options and it’s possible to create almost any graph imaginable with it. You can import or input data in a wide variety of ways. However, it’s a little more difficult to use than some of its competitors, so there’s a bit more of a learning curve. It also has a paid option, which will give you access to better download options, among other things. How Plotly really differs from the competition is that it generates your graph as code in several different languages, including JSON, Python, Matlab and node.js. That makes Plotly a very handy tool for creating graphs for apps and websites with a graphical interface. That’s something you get for free. The paid option (which gives you PDF download) can only be purchased annually for 420 USD, which comes to 35 USD a month. That’s pretty steep for an app that only makes graphs, even if it’s really good at it. However good this is for front-end developers, it’s not made with sales and marketing materials in mind.

Usability: 3/5
Customizability: 5/5
Data Input: 5/5
Exportability: 2/5
Style: 3/5

Final verdict: 3/5 It’s very useful, but only if you’re a developer or a research scientist.

Online Chart Tool

This one is free, but not very good. You can only import CSV-files, the manual data input is annoying and the options for visual customization are, well, not very good. It’s easy to use and completely passable for something like a high school presentation, but not a professional tool by any means. It does give you a variety of exporting options without having to pay anything. It has a Donate-button and a couple of banner ads, but nothing too distracting. I guess if you don’t have a ton of data and don’t care about making your graphs look good, it’s an okay tool.

Usability: 3/5
Customizability: 2/5
Data Input: 3/5
Exportability: 4/5
Style: 2/5

Final verdict: 2/5 It’s not bad per se, just not good.

Canva

Wow. Canva isn’t exactly a graph maker, but a versatile tool for creating nice designs for ads, social media posts, presentations, Facebook covers and much, much more. It’s free, ad-free, easy to use, and beautiful. The paid version only gives you some added features like saving your brand settings and more assets, but all the necessary features like PDF download are completely free. The paid version is also the cheapest one out there at a measly 13 USD a month. Canva is flush with beautiful templates to work with and makes editing them very easy. The only real drawback here is the data input. There’s no importing CSV-files or integrating Google Sheets here. You can either add data manually in input fields or copy-and-paste the data in a text field. No idea how well that works. For creating marketing materials for sales presentations, Canva is excellent. Even for free.

Usability: 4/5
Customizability: 5/5
Data Input: 2/5
Exportability: 5/5
Style: 5/5

Final verdict: 4/5 I’m very impressed.

Winner: Canva

Hands down. The purpose of this article was to find a tool for easily creating graphs for sales and marketing materials for free. Canva is a fantastic tool for that specific purpose. It’s one of the easiest ones to use, it’s one of the prettiest, and actually gives you everything you need for free. Even the paid option is cheap, if you use it a lot and want to save your brand styles and whatnot. The fact that all the other workable ones are either made for developers or crippled by hiding necessary features behind a pay wall, makes this a non-competition. Canva is the best free online tool for creating graphs (and other graphics for that matter) for marketing materials.

Thanks for reading! If you’d like to learn more about presenting materials, check out our Ultimate Guide to Great Marketing Material for Sales Presentations, my article on Making Better Graphs or these 10 Rules for Better Presentation Slides.

If you have any questions or would like to talk more about sales presentations, feel free to Book a Call with one of our Sales Enablement specialists or shoot us an email!

Mikko Oittinen, Creative
+358 44 271 5515
mikko.oittinen@salesframe.com

 
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As a new hire, I’ve been thinking about onboarding from the perspective of sales enablement quite a lot. Specifically, how I, as a new sales rep, can provide value to my new employer as quickly as possible. Since I’ve had some time to think about this, I figured I’d share my insights. So, let’s get right to it, how to get new reps selling sooner?

1. Do your homework

Know what you’re selling. After all, how can you help, if you don’t? Whether you’re a technical- or a business-oriented seller, you should have a crystal clear, unique selling proposition. Learn the most common use cases for different industries. If one size doesn’t fit all, as it usually shouldn’t, take some time with management to figure out where you can start and specialize in a certain product, service or industry. You can always broaden your focus as you gather more experience.

2. Get to know your team

Whether you’re a lone sales wolf, working from your own sales office (like I am), or a part of a large sales team, get to know the people around you. Their roles, their expertise, what’s important for them and what they do with their free time. The team around you will help you find and grow your business in so many ways. It’s good to be comfortable with the people around you, especially when facing clients. That’s why activities outside the office are important. If they’re busy now, don’t worry. You’ll know everything you need by the end of the office Christmas party.

3. Learn past customer success stories

Not just the success stories either. Also, the failures and lost deals your colleagues still feel bad about sharing. Focus on understanding why the customer chose (or didn’t choose) your company. If possible, join your colleagues in meeting existing clients to learn about the relationship. You’ll need those stories to win over new clients since you’re relying on the success of others until you create your own stories. Be sure to share those with the next hungry sales reps as well! Don’t forget to dig deep into some of the lost cases as well. They may not be readily available internally, but there’s something to be learned from every defeat and surely many wins can be replicated. Go for the low hanging fruits"!

4. Go through the average sales cycle

Even though the sales cycle and the sales process might not always be identical, go through a couple of cases with your colleagues. How many meetings does it usually take? Who should you meet? Whose budget are you after? Who signs the deals? What kind of proposals do you send out? What kind of a contract do you usually have? There are many phases on the road to winning a new deal, so it’s good to know what the next step is, so you can move the deal forward. I’ll never forget the moment my first ever deal came in and I had no clue what to do. I had to walk to my ex-manager and say, my client wants to buy from us, what do I do? Clearly the final part of the sales cycle was missing from the onboarding process…

5. Get to know your sales tools

Back in the day, this meant your notebook, car and phone. Today, we have a variety of tools to help you prospect, research, progress deals and, in our case, present what you’re selling. Your sales tools are there to help you sell more and be efficient. In the beginning, invest some of your time in getting everything out of your tools. As a new hire, I’ve spent most of that time with our actual product. I always have all my sales materials available in one place. I can use our analytics to learn which materials my colleagues use the most. As a sales manager, a sales enablement tool like Salesframe will really help you get your newcomers up to speed. Besides the fact that I don’t have to spend time preparing slides for my clients, I enter meetings with a lot of confidence, because I know that everything previous sellers have needed to close their deals, is in my Salesframe.

Happy selling! If you’d like to learn more about how Salesframe can help you with new hires, don’t hesitate to contact me!

Henri Parviainen, Sales Manager
henri.parviainen@salesframe.com
+358 400 515 676

 
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After your presales efforts you’ve managed to book a meeting with a potential client. Great! Now, how can you ensure that you fully utilize the opportunity? There are numerous factors influencing how the meeting goes and what the outcome will be. Selling is a dialogue with the client, so succeeding requires interaction before, during and after the meetings. Regardless of who you’re meeting, there are some no-brainer actions you can always do, that will help you manage your sales pitches efficiently. Some of these may seems like obvious points, but they’re on this list for the sake of clarity and simplicity.

How to prepare for the sales meeting
  • After you’ve booked the meeting time, send a calendar invite and a short preview.

  • Consider which use cases and references are relevant to the client, that are worth mentioning during the meeting.

  • Don’t be late from the meeting – respect your client’s time!

What to do during the sales meeting
  • Introduce the topic – you want to discuss the right things that are relevant to you both, which you can buy & sell.

  • Guide the client by asking and listening. Only by understanding your client’s situation can you recognize how you can create additional value to their business or operations. This is the most crucial part in identifying what you can sell.

  • Based on what you just heard, present your service and the additional value that you can provide. Explain how you can deliver it easily. The more you can give with the least resources required from the client, the better you sound. In best-case scenarios, it’s not just you explaining things. Your client is planning and co-creating with you, and you’ll come up with a mutually designed solution. Once the client has the feeling it’s something they’ve done themselves, they have higher motivation to get it forward.

  • Agree on the next steps. If the solution makes sense and would provide value to the client, they’re also highly likely to agree upon what happens next. If you’re getting just a vague comment without any signals about concrete steps, it’s clear that you shouldn’t put too much effort on that sales opportunity.

How to follow up after the sales meeting
  • Share materials and relevant information.

  • Review the agreed next steps.

  • Remind the client when the agreed timelines are getting close.

If you’re the seller, making the next steps happen is your responsibility. So, you need to remind and ensure that what you’ve agreed on together is going to happen. But after you’ve done your action points, that’s all you can do. If the client is buying, they will get back to you. Meanwhile you should focus on other sales opportunities and ensure that you have a good sales pipeline in size and quality.

For more insights, check out our article about the characteristics of a successful salesperson or how to save money with better material management.

Henri Piipponen, Sales & Marketing Director
+358 50 650 0051
henri.piipponen@salesframe.com

 
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Are your materials any good? Are they organized well? Are you sure? Have you ever wondered how much time and resources are wasted in your organization on inefficient content management? Chances are it’s a lot. Hours wasted searching for stuff that should be right there at your fingertips, hours wasted creating materials nobody uses, opportunities that slipped through your fingers because the salesperson didn’t have the materials they needed with them. And so on.

Here are three ways inefficient material management might be costing you money.

1.      Wasting time

Are you managing materials on a network drive? Be honest, how hard is it for your salespeople to find the right material? Can they even access the network drive in the field?

Every salesperson downloads the materials they need once. Then, they prepare, manage, update, modify and present the materials on their own as they see fit. This means every employee spends hours on something that could be done once by one person. Does this sound familiar?

2.      No control

When every salesperson has their own copy of whatever materials they use, there might be as many versions of the materials as there are people working with them.

Every salesperson is presenting the company with their own message, which might not match with the message or the brand you might’ve built with a lot of time and money.

3.      Lack of analytics and insight

Do you know which materials are actually being used in the field? Even if the most recent sales material is shared internally, material banks or network drives can’t tell you how the material is being used throughout the organization.

Managers must rely on gut feelings and word-of-mouth feedback. I’m sure you trust your co-workers, but that stuff is always unreliable. Without concrete data, there’s no chance to lead sales work or content production based on anything but feelings.

These are the most common problems we’ve encountered with material management. These problems create frustration among sales reps, marketers and directors. Not to mention the fact that all of these result in money wasted and lost. If you identify with any of these issues, you might want to consider updating to modern tools for centralized content management and presentation. Salesframe is a great option. Just saying.

If you’d like to learn how to create great materials for sales presentations, check out this article I wrote a while ago!

If you have any questions on this topic or would like to talk, don’t hesitate to book a demo with one of our sales enablement specialists.

Mikko Oittinen, Creative
+358 44 271 5515
mikko.oittinen@salesframe.com

 
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