Next Big Tech Movement: Internet of Things

April 17th, 2014

Internet of things word cloud

CRM systems within companies have helped revolutionized how we view the facilitation of employees’ efforts to help the customer. However, what is the new shift occurring with CRM systems? The next shift is called Internet of Things (IoT). This means that businesses will be able to gather information from an increasing number of devices including, televisions, refrigerators, cars and mobile electronics.

As this progresses into the future, businesses will be able to gain connectivity on more unusual devices that are connected to the internet. All this data streaming back into the business’s CRM systems holds a wealth of information regarding how the product is performing, how it is being used and whether the customers are getting their money’s worth.

The best CRM systems, including Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce.com CRM are able to better leverage big data, allowing you to quickly respond to customer wants and needs. While the transition to IoT will not be overnight, it is a feature that all levels of the company need to be aware of.

To view the original article, click here.

Gartner Says CRM Will Be at the Heart of Digital Initiatives for Years to Come

April 9th, 2014

Not only is CRM the heart and soul of digital initiatives for years to come, it tops the list of leading tech trends in 2014.

Vector electronic connected heart

More than ever, companies are leveraging CRM technologies such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce.com CRM. Gartner said, “The demand for modern technology and customer relationships is driving refreshed or expanded integration and usage of all areas of CRM software. The outlook continues to be positive for CRM as buyers focus on technologies that enable more-targeted customer interactions in multi-channel environments.”

Hot areas for CRM investment include: mobility, social media and technologies, web analytics and e-commerce. Also on the list is marketing technology. This isn’t being necessarily driven by IT, but by the CMOs with little to no IT involvement. This is due to the mounting pressure experienced by the CMOs to drive growth, improve accountability and reduce costs which is pushing marketing organizations to make significant marketing technology investments across a broad set of applications and functionality.

According to Gartner, the main drivers that spur the critical need for CRM as well as CRM maintenance and support  include:

  • Social: In the sales, marketing and customer service departments, marketing is being forced to monitor, communicate and engage in social commerce business with several hundred public social networks. Customer service has to respond to tweets as well as Facebook and LinkedIn discussions, as new service channels and sales are now using social media as a source of new leads and intelligence on prospects.
  • Mobile: Smartphones, tablets and mobile apps are forcing change at an even faster rate than social networks. Connections to the Internet via smartphones will exceed PC users by the end of 2014 and smartphones have already overtaken PCs as the most common tool for accessing social networks in most countries. Bring your own device (BYOD) policies are springing up around the globe as IT departments are forced to support a proliferation of devices. It is tablets, however, that are causing the most disruption as sales departments and board directors purchase them and then demand support.
  • Big Data: The marketing department has been most impacted by the explosion in customer information available to businesses during the past five years. Predictive analytic models for churn analysis, product and service recommendations direct to the customer, and/or sales prompts for salespeople are all becoming more sophisticated. Thus, the data is available and the tools are emerging, but the problem is the lack of skills and resources to use the tools.
  • Cloud: This driver is a decade old now in CRM, having started back in the late 1990s with the rise of application service providers. In many ways, the low-hanging fruit for cloud adoption has already been picked. The remaining areas of CRM application functionality will be ever harder to adopt in a cloud delivery model, so the switch to cloud will steadily slow.
  • Internet of Things: As cars, buildings, bodies and chairs are connected to the internet and as the price of sensors and communications drops down toward $1. The automotive, construction, healthcare and hospitality industries, among many others, will be transformed. At the forefront of this shift will be sales, marketing and customer service departments in promoting, selling and supporting the new services.

To read the original articles, click here and here.

Email Marketing is Not Obsolete

April 2nd, 2014

Research has found that email marketing has quadrupled the rate of gaining new customers. However, how do you really know how to use email marketing to get more sales and more customers?

Target non-buying customersb

While it is great that you have a loyal subscriber list, you need to find a way to continue to grow your email list. You can do this by offering incentives for joining. The incentive doesn’t necessarily have to be a coupon or discount, but can be the download of free information like a whitepaper or webinar. If you have social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, invite them to sign up for your emails.

Pay attention to your email subject line

This determines if your message gets across. State the main benefit readers will get if they open your email. Also, don’t use the words “free”, “help” or “percent-off”. They usually get caught in spam filters and have lower open rates. Try mixing it up and add who the email is coming from.

Keep it short

Email is a way to provide a brief snippet of information and most people won’t read the whole thing. Instead of trying to include everything in your email, you should redirect them to your website if they want to finish reading.

Stop talking about yourself

When it comes to your products, you need to add value to them other than just selling your product. The value can be recent updates that affect that product or advice on items they may eventually buy. This  may cause the consumer to continue to look at your site, not just for the product, but for the additional insights you deliver.

Also, to improve your content, track your emails so you can see a potential customer’s engagement. It also gives you a lead into asking what they thought about your content.

Conclusion

The ability to track, and create an experience is one of the most beneficial features of marketing automation. It not only provides better customer retention, but generates the ability to upsell and cross sell. At TopLine Strategies, we offer the leading marketing automation implementations. If you are interested in discovering how to enhance your system and tailor it to your organization’s needs, we would be more than happy to help you explore the most cost effective and efficient solutions.

To view the original articles, click here, here and here.

 

 

Are you Lucky?

March 26th, 2014

When it comes to luck, what drives it? The truth is that is stems from taking advantage of the world around you and seeing everything as an opportunity.

Ditch the four-leaf clover and follow these steps so you can be as lucky as the next person.St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock

Play to your strengths.

Do the things that you excel at! Everything else can be delegated or you can find a partner to compensate for weaknesses.

Always prepare!

Establish structure for getting tasks completed. This will allow you to be actively involved rather than reactive.

The early bird gets the worm.

Why is it that some people seem to have more hours in the day? The most successful people are the ones that try to be as efficient as possible and start early whether it be in planning projects, etc.

Make connections—also called, networking.

The more people you know and influence, the more opportunities you create for yourself. The key is creating the value you bring to these people.

Respond.

When people ask you for something, the timelier you are in your ability to respond, the better. Following up is often more powerful and impressive than the act of initiating.

To view the original article, click here.

What do you do that makes you a lucky person? Leave us a comment below.

Get visual with your marketing!

March 19th, 2014

Whether you are sending an email, writing a blog or adding flair to your website. Adding visually appealing content to each of these will improve how your brand is consumed. Visual content is received by humans 60,000 times faster than text.

What are some ways you can make your emails, blog or website more visual?

PhotosPhotos and film with images

This is a simple way to draw readers into blogs, your website or an email. It can also be used for social sharing if your brand is on Instagram. You can also use text on photos or as captions to add further explanation.

VideosSpool and film

Anyone who has a phone can record a video, but when you are managing a brand, the quality of the video matters. Videos can also be used to showcase a live event like a presentation or seminar, just make sure you have the proper editing tools or hire a professional.

Comics/Cartoons Comic Strip Speech Bubbles

Easy to understand and usually funny, comics and cartoons simplify your message and capture people with short attention spans.

Infographics

Complex information is streamlined when placed into a combination of images and text when designed as an infographic. It also is simply understood by a broader audience.

EBooks & Whitepapers

Use these mediums for multifaceted information that tends to be lengthier in content. Adding pictures and charts will help break up the information, but also serve as a resource for your audience that they can refer back to.

Symbols Set of characters of yellow emoticons

Emailing has certainly changed over the years, including the way that subjec5t lines are written. Recently, companies started to place symbols, icons or special characters in the subject line to grab the recipient’s attention.

Sources:

http://blog.marketo.com/2014/03/is-your-content-like-spinach.html

http://www.exacttarget.com/blog/success-with-subject-line-symbols/

 

Persistence Pays!

March 12th, 2014

In sales, there is an art to being persistent as there are effective and non-effective ways to get in with the prospect you want. Here are a few tips that we’ve picked up along the way!

Following UpFemale support assistant working at the helpdesk

Sending only one email or calling only once is not enough, especially if you have yet to get ahold of the person. If it is worth it to you, try again and more than twice! That said, business professionals get very busy and they may have not simply seen your calls or emails, or the timing of them may have been off. In any case, a helpful hint would be to follow up at least two times more than you think you should.

Also, if you are not able to reach them on the phone or through email, message them on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. If you are reaching out to multiple people within the same company through these methods, you should communicate this as it may backfire.

Assume the worst

When you go to follow up, assume that the person has not heard your pitch and that you need to start from the beginning. If you sent an email or left a message, include messaging from the previous email sent or words that you said in the last message left.

You are not owed anything

Be polite, gracious and respectful with every call and email. It can be frustrating and possibly tempting to want to take out anger on a prospective client because they have not answered any of your phone calls or emails, but it is not there obligation to respond to you.

Make sure to say “thank you” whenever you get an email response, have a phone conversation or read over your information. This will create a positive impression of you and the company and they may want to do business with you in the future.

Hearing No!

Getting some answer is better than no answer. If someone tries to say “I’ll get back to you,” set a time when you’ll get back to him or her instead. Sometimes when a person says “no,” it can actually mean maybe. Decision-making is an emotional process, not an intellectual one and most people will do more to avoid pain than achieve pleasure, so the first impulse most people have when asked to make a decision is to find reasons not to make that decision.

Assuming you’re asking the right person (that is, someone who ought to say yes), a no usually means one of the following:

  • Wrong information. You didn’t explain well enough why yes it is a good decision for the other person. Therefore, you must now do a better job of explaining.
  • Wrong timing. The other person needs some time to ponder and thus is saying no to stall. Therefore, you must now be patient and ask for the yes later.
  • Wrong circumstance. There’s a situation or circumstance the person has no control over that’s blocking him or her from saying yes. Therefore, you must now work with the this person to transcend the block. You may need to get an executive sponsorship and/or have this person help “champion” you in.

Listening

Reading between the lines and really trying to understand your customer is key in sales. It will tell you the story that the customer isn’t telling you.

Most sales people will hear the words “I’m really busy right now.” While they may or not be busy, what they are really saying is that “I have not decided whether or not I want to buy your product” or “I don’t have money right now” or “I really need to get a purchase done, but I am overwhelmed by other things happening in my world currently.” The other spectrum is that the customer will not say anything at all. In this instance, they probably decided to purchase from a competitor.

To overcome these issues, a good salesperson needs to be able to pick up on the underlying context and ask questions to further explore for  the true answer.

Sources:

http://www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/why-you-need-to-be-better-at-following-up.html

http://www.inc.com/vanessa-merit-nornberg/how-great-sales-people-hear-what-customers-arent-saying.html

http://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/4-ways-to-turn-no-into-yes.html

 

Top Trends for CRM Adoption

March 5th, 2014

I think that we can all agree that the biggest challenge with implementing a new or existing CRM system is adoption. However, the bottom line is that a CRM system plays a vital role to not only increase sales’ efficiency, but effectiveness as well.

What are the top three trends that can help with adoption?Customer relationship management

Training

Not only have interfaces become more user friendly, but the applications in general are easier to use than years’ past. However, they are not always as intuitive as one may hope. Educating your team on how to get the maximum benefit out of the system will empower them to want to use the system as they will be more comfortable operating something they are familiar with.

Data Quality

Accuracy of data equals trust with the system. Purchasing sales intelligence services that integrate with existing customer information will enhance the records and allow for the sales team to update the system as they gain new knowledge.

Integrate Features

The more capabilities you add to your CRM platform, the more doors for selling it will open. Tools such as web conferencing and sales collateral will provide a one-stop solution for your sales team.

To view the original article, click here.

What have you implemented in order to get CRM adoption? Let us know in the comments section below.

Microsoft Changes the CRM Game with a New Release in Q2!

February 26th, 2014

Microsoft just announced that, in the second quarter of 2014, they will be unveiling a new comprehensive set of Microsoft Dynamics CRM capabilities to help organizations match their customers to the right products and services, engage with them in the right way at the right time, and nurture their relationships.

They will add new functionality to help marketers be smarter and efficiently drive and manage their marketing campaigns. These marketing solutions will help with planning and executing campaigns as well as provide analytics to gain insight on what makes the most impact to their organization.

Microsoft will also add a way for businesses to engage with and care for customers in a personalized manner on virtually any device and bring social listening capabilities to every sales, service and marketing professional within an organization.

To learn more, click here

Forbes Names Phoenix No. 3 for Fastest-Growing Cities

February 19th, 2014

Starting with the 100 most populous Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in the U.S. geographic areas designated by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Forbes rated these cities on six metrics:

  1. Estimated rates of population growth for 2013Phoenix Arizona
  2. Estimated rates of population growth for 2014
  3. Year-over-year job growth for 2013
  4. Rate of gross metro product growth (economic growth rate)
  5. Federal unemployment data
  6. Median salaries for local college-educated workers

The result, Phoenix jumping five spots to No. 3! Construction industry jobs, which dropped 50% in the state during the downturn, are up 5% year-over-year. Surprisingly, Phoenix—not New York—is No. 1 in the nation in terms of growth in finance industry jobs, adding 8,300 from December 2012 to 2013. Insurance and Healthcare are also growing. Add to that an estimated population growth rate of 1.67% for last year and a projected growth rate of 2.46% in 2014. Phoenix is expected to be the 4th fastest-growing metro area in terms of population this calendar year.

Click here to view the original article.

MARKETERS: What is it you really want to say to IT?

February 12th, 2014

As a marketing professional, what are the things you are DYING to say to IT? Here is a list of 5 things that could make the difference for YOU!

Give me better insight

In order to meet my goals, I need as much insight into all customer interactions. From sales, to servicing and billing, understanding the customer’s total lifetime experience will allow me to better optimize all the KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) I value.

Give me integrated databases

Marketing is all about integration. The greatest challenge is managing, collecting and making use of internal and external data. For example, marketers are looking for IT to provide solutions for databases that manage and collect customer information from lead generation through sale and post-sale (returns), and how customers interact with the company on social networks.

Give me spending guidance

According to Gartner, by 2017, CMOs will spend more on IT than will CIOs. However, I want to be able to spend money on valuable technology resources for the company. Having IT’s input and suggestions are important for making sure not only is everything compatible, but will it provide the results we are looking for in order to advance the company in the future.

Give me freedom

Of course marketing wants help in making purchasing decisions, but I also want more control of my own systems once they’re up and running. Owning them will help me know them inside and out allowing for improvements.

Give me less firewalls

When sharing large files with vendors or internally, not everything is a security breach. Loosing up the firewalls a bit to allow for less barriers of getting information out will help in making marketing more effective and cutting-edge.

To view the original article, click here.