All posts by Scott King

Scott is the co-founder and CRO for ReadyTalk, a Cloud Communication Provider that helps companies have more effective meetings and deliver high impact webinars. Scott and his brother Dan launched ReadyTalk in December 2001, and since then Scott has focused on product strategy, sales, marketing and business systems. Scott is motivated to find collaboration solutions. He is at the forefront of leadership around the Future of Work, and committed to championing its principles within ReadyTalk and across industries. Scott earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from University of Colorado while attending on a cross country and track scholarship. He has more than 30 years of experience in the communications industry and has led teams at both TellSoft Technologies and Hewlett-Packard's Telecommunications Systems Business. Scott continues to be an avid runner, enjoys coaching soccer and frequently rides to work from Boulder to Denver with other cycling enthusiasts from ReadyTalk.

7 Sales Trends for 2017

Sales is a constantly evolving field due to continual shifts in the world around it. As it is constantly changing, it’s important to realize key trends that may be shaping it in the near future. Here are the top seven to think about for the upcoming year as we look forward into 2017.

1. Leverage big and little data

Sales has more access to accurate and meaningful data than ever before. With this heightened availability, sales professionals should expect to see even more emphasis placed on analytics and data interpretation in the future, according to Salesforce.

2. The adoption of social selling

While social selling might merely be a buzzword to some at the moment, this strategy is actually incredibly important for salespeople to learn more about the people they are selling to. With this model, you can target companies and even know more about the pain points these individuals and their companies are experiencing.

3. More connection between sales and marketing

This disconnect between sales and marketing will likely lessen in the next few months and years as people began to see the benefits gained from working on the same page. Whether it’s called sales enablement or just doing business, these two departments will interact and engage more.

4. Consumers will want a voice

People want to know who they are buying from nowadays. As a result, consumers want human interactions with the companies where they shop. While automation is beneficial, companies shouldn’t replace meaningful human interaction with it.

5. Content is king

sales trends for 2017Thought leadership content is a huge trend in generating leads and making sales today. For cold prospects, it can warm them up. For people in the funnel, it can provide more ideas and information. Consumers want to know more about what they are buying from perceived experts, and successful content marketing strategies helps sales teams achieve this goal. This content comes from a variety of places, but one of the best converting: webinars.

6. Cold calls will become more irrelevant

With thousands of new solutions and selling strategies available, cold calling is likely to fade in the near future. Consumers rarely are persuaded by cold calls and prefer being wooed over social media or through more personal means.

7. Discounts and loyalty programs will draw in more sales

Inc. reports that an annual survey from the consulting firm BIA/Kelsey of 500 small to medium-sized businesses found that 26 percent of their sales would come from discounts. The average consumer is far likelier to purchase goods or services if they are offered an incentive or discount.

Sources:
https://www.salesforce.com/quotable/articles/biggest-sales-trends/
http://www.inc.com/christina-desmarais/7-emerging-trends-in-sales-that-will-disrupt-your-business.html
http://www.business.com/sales/danny-wong-b2b-sales-trends/

5 Tips to Increase Sales

It’s a dog eat dog world out in the sales industry today. Even if you’ve been in the business for years, the tips and tricks that might have worked then are no longer applicable. With 10 more businesses popping up in the time it takes you to give your first sales pitch, you (and your company) cannot afford to fall behind.

1. Ask questions

increase salesThis goes hand-in-hand with item 2 about selling to a need rather than a feature. First, ask questions to determine what your prospect is looking for. This may also help you understand your product just isn’t for them (which would waste time, also on this list).

Understanding the issues they’re facing also improves your pitch. You can identify the items that are the biggest challenge and sell to those issues.

2. Quit describing the product; sell to your customers’ needs

You’re not going to sell anything if you spend your days describing to potential customers information they could easily gather on your website. Since everyone has a smartphone these days, all they have to do is pull up your product page and they know more in a minute than you will tell them in 20. Instead, emphasize how this product or service will meet their needs.

Sure, if you’re selling software features help decide between products, but first lay the groundwork for the how the product solves the need.

3. Don’t waste time — yours or your prospects’

Do your homework. Know the type of company, the type of person you’re talking to, and ensure you understand the issues.

How can you conduct this homework: on social media. LinkedIn is a great way to review who you’re meeting with, what their title is, and more. You can eve find out a little about them. It also involves asking those questions in the meeting. But don’t forget to tell your prospect that’s the goal of the meeting, otherwise it could come as a shock. Approaching it as ensuring you address their particular needs is best and then spend time going over those features first.

Set goals and benchmarks that you want to reach each day, week and month and make sure to stay on track. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself falling behind before you even realize it. Social selling is a big part of that — it sometimes will even make someone call you.

4. Don’t forget content and a smile

Your marketing team can give you insight into how to address specific issues your prospect wants to solve. Most likely, they have content around solving it, both with the product and service and with some thought leadership. Arm yourself with this information and know how to get it during the meeting. It could even warm a cold prospect.

Even if you’ll never see your prospect, it’s important to feel good. When you feel good, you smile. When you smile, you’re outlook is brighter and people can often hear a smile in your voice. In fact, it’s a top tip for candidates to respond with a smile. It almost always comes across.

5. Use some sort of video (video or webinars)

Seeing your prospect will help you get the sale. Ideally, it’ll be a product you can see a prospect’s face and still share info or documents as well as demo. Some products like FoxDen are even impromptu meaning you can fire up a meeting right away.

Some products like webinars enable demos and can even integrate with your marketing automation and CRM system like Salesforce. That’ll save you time from re-entering information. It’ll also save from making errors that might eat into sales.

What’s the way you increase sales?

Don’t see a tip? What kind of tips do you have?

The Big “P” – Purpose at Work

Do you ever wonder what motivates people? American psychologist Abraham Maslow sought to answer this very question throughout his life’s work. Though he greatly contributed to the study of psychology, he was best known for his hierarchy of needs, which is represented in a five stage pyramid divided into basic, psychological and growth needs.

The top tier of Maslow’s hierarchy is self-actualization, which is the need to achieve one’s fullest potential and feel like you are making a difference. In essence, those who are enlightened can then help others down the hierarchy to achieve their fullest potential — like by doing more charitable work.

And emotional intelligence is not the same as enlightenment, although one could argue enlightened people are emotionally intelligent. People who’ve found purpose flourish — thrive in ways they can help others.

But this sense of purpose is not only essential in daily life, but is a critical component to creating a meaningful, happy workplace.

Why is having a purpose at work important?

Maybe in the early 1900s it was okay to drudge to work to collect a pay check. But that’s not what most workers want. They want to feel happy. They want to do work they find meaningful. And they want to do work they really love doing.

After all, when you’re doing work you love doing, it’s no longer — really — work.

What does this mean for companies – it improves business

Happiness = engagement

A recent Deloitte survey found that 73% of employees who identify as working for a purpose-driven organization report that they are engaged in the office. This number starkly contrasts the 23 percent of engaged employees who say that they do not work for a purpose-driven company.

Better productivity

A sense of purpose improves workHappier employees are 12% more productive. And if employees are doing purposeful work and work they love doing, the quality will be better and there’ll be fewer accidents, too. They’re even more likely to mentor other employees, helping leadership in your organization.

Employee retention

Also it helps employee retention. Employees who are challenged and engaged are less likely to leave. That decreases turnover costs, which run — according to SHRM — about half of an employees’ salary just in finding a replacement. That’s added on to the cost of actually getting the new employee — paying him.

Better customer service

Best of all, happy employees make for happy customers. If employees are achieving more and doing their best work, customers will notice.

As mentioned above, if employees are enlightened, they’ll be more willing to help customers (and other employees) to be enlightened as well.

How can you foster this need?

Integrating purpose at your business must begin at the ground up. Re-evaluate your mission statement, determining whether or not your company’s goals truly match up with its organizational structure, rewards system, market approach and more. If not or if you believe your mission is lacking, you may need to completely pivot and change directions.

Once you finalize your new mission statement, make sure that your employees’ personal goals are in sync with your organization’s. Understand what really drives them and why they chose to work at your particular company. Then, channel this energy into how your organization operates and rewards its high-performing staff. Meanwhile, create a positive atmosphere, where managers provide meaningful feedback and one-on-one sessions to keep everyone on the same page and motivated to do their work well.

Ways to engage employees

The #1 Enemy of Online Conferences – Poor Audio Quality

Conference calls from noisy locations

More meetings than ever are taking place online. Increased mobility of businesses and individuals means more cloud-based webinars, team meetings, and customer service. I think audio quality is the most important element in determining the success of an online conference. Poor quality audio can result in missed communication, lost productivity, and poor customer service.

Because the brain is not good at multi-tasking, hearing is the most difficult of the senses for it to handle. Vision reaction is impacted by motion, and the brain can quickly focus on one thing. Likewise, the brain can deal fairly easily with taste, smell, and touch. Not so easily with sounds.

Typically, the brain reacts to the loudest source of input. Any combination of poor volume, background noise, line static, echo, distortions, and other impairments can be introduced simultaneously, causing the brain to work extra hard to find focus. Ever have a day of multiple audio conferences and wonder why you’re so tired? It could be “brain fatigue” from the effort it takes to get through poor audio quality.

Technology and user involvement determine the level of audio quality. Let’s look at 3 issues of each, technology first.

Noisy communication might mean no communication

When the signal, the content you’re trying to focus on, is strong and the background noise level is low, communication is easily understood. That’s called a high Signal to Noise Ratio or SNR. As lines are added, if they’re not mixed properly, they increase the noise factor, while the broadcast signal remains constant. That lowers the SNR and makes it difficult for participants to stay engaged.

Most modern bridges – conference mixing devices – handle noise pretty well. They can limit additive noise by scanning input lines, mixing the three best lines and muting other channels. Switching lines between individual speakers happens quickly, so conversation flow is maintained. The quality of the mixing device, therefore, can greatly impact the audio experience. Participants lose focus when there’s too much noise.
Echo in a canyon is fun… In a conference, not so much

Too much retransmitting, or sound echo, can severely impair understanding and even bring a conference to a halt. Fortunately, most modern audio devices, speakerphones, I-phones, etc. have built in echo cancellation. They make sure the speaker’s words are not retransmitted through the microphone.
Echo problems can arise in a conference room setting. A microphone source in the room and a voice connection over the Internet (VOIP) from a laptop microphone creates two different audio paths into the bridge. That can cause what’s called a closed-loop echo, severely disrupting the conference.

So, echo can be a result of poor audio devices that don’t do a good job of echo cancellation or conflicting connection configurations.

Let’s not both talk at the same time

Analog communication, basically electric impulses, is prone to distortion from signal loss. In digital, real-time communication where bits or packets are being sent, signal loss is not as much of a concern. However, depending on the type of connection, there can be packet loss or delays. This gets into some technical issues of Internet transmission protocols (IP), better addressed in a more technical discussion.

The concern here is the effect the delays can have on the meeting outcome. The host of an online meeting may not be able to control how people are connected or the type of network they’re using. If they’re on a real-time data connection such as VOIP, excessive delay can result in people talking over one another. That creates halted or ‘broken’ conversation. Besides potential voice overlap, pauses occur when one person is not sure another person is going to start talking. The disruption to the natural flow of a meeting creates frustration and poor communication.

Now let’s look at user involvement, i.e. conference management and human logistics:

How to keep track of participants

The conference moderator can control what happens when participants enter or exit a conference. The participants name can be announced, an audible signal or beep can be sounded, or it can just be noted to the moderator with no audio involvement. 

The entry-exit control should be based on the size and type of conference. Using name announcements is best limited to small, controlled groups where it’s important for everyone to know who is or is not on the call.

Tone announcements are fine for small groups, but can be highly distracting in a large group where there may be frequent participant entry and exit. With large groups, it’s best to let the moderator visually see the activity without any audio interference.

Could someone please let the dog out?

Remote attendees of meetings and conferences aren’t necessarily in an office. They may be in their home, car, or coffee shop where the potential for background noise is significantly higher. It’s not unusual to have disruptions from a dog barking, wind, traffic, other phones ringing, or people talking. These distractions can result in poor communication to literally shutting down a meeting.

Another issue, user and technology based, is the signal generated by a remote participant. The audio signal coming out of the handset or mobile device is the best it’s going to be. If you start with an inferior handset or a poor network connection, the resulting audio is what’s experienced throughout the conference. Moderators can monitor who’s talking and perhaps can manage those disruptions to a certain degree.

You’re in the conference room – others are not – two different experiences

Online meetings that include a group in a conference room and remote attendees has it’s own set of audio challenges. Awareness of the dynamics can help minimize communication failures.

  • Those listening remotely may not be able to hear someone who is at a white board or across the room from the speaker microphone.
  • A projector fan won’t be a distraction to those in the room, but can transmit through the microphone and be a major distraction to remote participants. Keep the projector away from the microphone.
  • Remote attendees already feel a bit disconnected. They can’t see who’s talking in the room. Side conversations can create background noise and cause them to lose focus.
  • Poorly designed rooms with hard walls and white boards can create echoing. Again, remote participants have to work extra hard to stay involved.

A fairly new technology, speakerphones with multiple microphones, can help solve some of these issues. They allow directional tuning so the sound energy can be focused at the person speaking.

Being aware of, and compensating for, remote attendee logistics will help them have a better experience and improve overall results for everyone.

Engage your audience, but don’t wear them out

The success of audio conferences depends greatly on getting participants engaged, keeping them involved, and not leaving them exhausted at the end of the meeting. If participants have to work intensely to hear everything, they may lose concentration and drift away to other activities. Fatigue will also reduce their productivity.

Poor audio quality is the #1 enemy of online conference success. ReadyTalk is always looking at ways to eliminate or minimize audio problems, to make sure customers have the best experience possible.

 

You might also enjoy:

The 8 Most Common Audio Conferencing Issues

Lost while working remote? 5 tips for virtual collaborators