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The Mighty GDPR

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General Data Protection Regulation – the new law which protects the absolute privacy of all EU citizens residing anywhere in the world. It gives EU citizens complete right over how their personal, sensitive and important information is procured, stored, used, passed, and processed by all companies dealing with them all throughout the world. They can see which company uses their data how and can control contacting mechanisms through which companies get in touch with them, whether already acquainted or new.

The much feared deadline of 25th May has passed and taken down giants like LA Times (Europe) with it. It certainly did push in a certain sense of urgency and doom into a lot of businesses especially the marketing & sales community. We all know how sad those emails sounded – you know the goodbye but keep in touch ones. Among all the haste and inexperience with such a large scale clampdown we have encountered numerous problems answers to which still remain elusive. But like always it mattered most whether you got it right rather than quick. Are your processes to the book or barely put together fearing the audit. Do you in essence really care about the privacy of your contacts or is this another tide you’e ducking under to let pass.

One thing that GDPR has left in its wake is massive segregation – a stark difference between the people who have actually put real efforts in documenting their improved processes, keeping check mechanisms up to date and plugging leaks in their systems. Keeping systems safe from soft and hard attacks has also become one of the key points in declaring organisations compliant or otherwise.

On the other hand are mass marketers and people who illicitly contact unsuspecting prospects and consumers, who store and distribute information without any consent and divulge even the most private details for a fee. Hopefully these “companies” will be left upturned by this shaking.

There are numerous Supervisory Authorities who are the end-all-be-all when it comes to compliancy. They are responsible for clearing organisations for operating with the information of EU citizens.

Supervisory Authorities of different member states are going to be set up.  SA’s will be responsible for:

  • carrying out audits on businesses
  • issuing warnings for non-compliance
  • issuing corrective measures

SAs have both investigative and corrective powers to check compliance with the law and suggest changes to be compliant.

We need to be vigilant post May 25th as much concerned we all have been before. There already are numerous leakage points and more will be invented soon. The point to be remembered is continuous improvement and vigilance, remember this is for all our safety and that elusive peace of mind.

Everything is changing: Why shouldn’t your approach change too?

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As NetProspex found, 37% of B2B marketers complain that they do not have enough data points on their prospects to leverage effective segmentation. Accenture’s report adds credibility to this point, they found that 51% of marketers find it difficult in integrating data across various platforms owing to disparity in data sets.

We’re halfway through 2018 and it has brought with it many answers to our problems and the market is still evolving as to how best leverage all available technologies, insights, analytics, AI & machine learning for its benefit.

Personalisation of approach: With the boom of data and its availability it is easier now than ever to have directed marketing approach in addition to more traditional form of marketing (viz. billboards, videos, advertisements etc). Data sources like IoT, smart devices, fitness trackers, social media applications, activity specific trackers have given us a deluge of data, of which we often know not what to do. Combining this data with previously available metrics such as demography, life events, purchase history etc can produce insights which can define specific action points and effective engagement techniques not yet seen.

Align, align, align!: ABM is personalised approach to a specific audience set with a set message at one given point of time. Complete resonance across all frequencies can create a harmonious message which touches the very basic needs of your customer, be it an individual, group, company or even an industry. Messaging and action teams working in tandem can discover and take advantage of affinities and buying tendencies of accounts. Marketers can provide sales with insights such as interest, proclivity, malleability and sales can reciprocate with references and feedbacks.

Next step ABM: The biggest buzzwords now, of course after #crypto, are Machine learning & Artificial Intelligence. They are all around us, from handwriting recognition in real time, to self driving cars. AI & ML have given the ABM space some very valuable relief. AI can structure cumbersome data to delivery pertinent information, action patterns, buying trends, preferences, social engagements, data consumption patterns. Converting this data into insightful structure can enhance any organisation’s ability to have more effective 1:1 interaction keeping at the fore each prospect’s individuality.

The wheels have turned, we have so much to play-dough to mould and create our unique identity and approach that all this may seem like a tall order. Take assistance from softwares, consultants, agencies and create demand, generate leads – take full advantage of this turning tide.

More articles at http://coledahub.com/blog/

“Everything is changing: Why shouldn’t your approach change too?”

Enable your sales team to perform better

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Companies across the world belonging to almost all sectors outsource totally or at least some part of their sales operations to experts who provide market tested expertise across multiple domains within the sales cycle.

It acts as a risk buffer for your organisation, especially if you’re an SME as it firstly dilutes your risk of operating a full sized sales team and reduces your man hours spent on training them to become market ready.

Expertise comes differently to different people and job roles, a good technical CEO cannot be tasked with developing an outstanding marketing and sales department which immediately delivers tangible results. Focus on what you know, perfect that – let someone else worry about the rest.

There are more than a few advantages of outsourcing your sales & marketing departments, we will elucidate some of the reasons which make this decision an easy one:

  1. A good sales partner can showcase industry standards against which results can be measured. Owing to their time spent in the market developing expertise in this domain, they’re aware of the metrics which are prevalent in the market and what needs to be followed during various times of the selling year.
  2. Strategy development comes naturally to these outsourced marketing teams, thy’ve spent years perfecting launching and subsequent activities often by hit and trial methods, time and resources which you can’t spend each time you want to add something to your outreach. Outsourcing of these tasks enables you to keep your attention on other vital tasks for your business needs.
  3. It takes more than a couple of months to get your pre-sales teams market ready including your marketing outreach etc, a comprehensive sales team is another matter completely. Hiring partners can cut that time short to weeks as there are ready procedures with trained experts to make your life easier and give you results from the word go!

There might be many other reasons which would compel you to think about outsourcing this important aspect to experts in their domains. However, there are many who still like to micromanage all aspects of their business, running a Go To Market strategy with expert vendors can clearly define whether your approach, size, strategy, priority are sound or they need some alteration. If not the entire department, a part of sales & marketing needs to be outsources. When companies like IBM, Dell, Oracle, HPE, Fuze, Adobe need assistance with their ‘more-than-god’ resources, you might need to revise your decisions.

Them bad sales days & how to get over them:

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I’ve had colleagues, seniors and most of the sales people I know go through the throes of what seems like never ending slumps. No prospects seem to appreciate their offerings, most don’t even seem to be able to come on the phone. The best in business are bitten by this bug rather regularly and they’re quite easy to spot — beleaguered expression, downtrodden countenance, in general a gloomy outward appearance.

Rather than fretting about the way out to the sunshine states we can actually devise a systematic exit from this maze. The secret lies in not haphazardly working your A off and ending up a flustered wiry haired mess, but in acceptance, meticulous planning, forecasting, future anticipation and contingency plans.

Acceptance:

Please accept the facts before beginning to chalk out plans. Accepting and acknowledging the problems as a whole and broken into parts is essential. Without diagnosis there is no prognosis and even a hope for a cure. Downward spirals in numbers might appear to be the only symptom of a sales slump. But, there are many more hidden aspects to a problem than what is evident in the first glance.

Analysis:

Whether it be poor product knowledge, market trends, approach, attitude, support, infrastructure or the quality of your product, always indepth analysis of the present situation ensures a smooth sailing in the future.

Solutions:

The part which actually deserves to be in the last stage of any action jumps up because of our anxiety and often ends a good recovery before it can even become. Managing symptoms is what the medical profession terms such an approach. These are steriods to manage a rash rather than curing the underlying condition. Increase the hours/numbers you spend on outreach, take references, study new methods, study the trends of the market, network, speak to veterans for similar experiences and read the experts. There are myriad ways to overcome the ‘Sales Slump’ whether one approach works or a mixture of all/some of them it depends on too many conditions to elucidate here.

Copy-Paste-Innovate: 

Keeping templates ready for mitigating future disasters but keeping yourself flexible for figuring new ways. Evaluate each area that you are responsible for including, training approaches, corporate policies, procedures, philosophy, communication, sales reporting, management style, and product/service quality issues that may contribute to poor sales performance.

All strategies might not end up In results but no one thing ever has.

Most common make or break points in every sales cycle: 

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The topic of sales cycle is barely covered in an entire semester or even after 10s of meetings the sweet spot of your approach is fuzzy at best. The point being – no matter what books we read or how many ‘hit & trials’ we employ, sales is a practice best learned by mistakes and our response to them.

In a larger sense for understanding this very difficult concept, we have broken down the sales cycle to 3 basic sink or swim parts. These are essential considerations whether you’re a new business or an established firm.

1.Value Creation: Clearly defining point(s) of differentiation between your product/service vis-a-vis your competitors’ is as essential as the quality of your offering. Till the recent past only direct comparison was considered the most effective differentiator. Sales people used to hand out a laundry list of ‘rich features’ which set apart their offering from their nearest rival, using attractive statistics and fancy terminology to aid them in this task.

But as we are witnessing the explosion of knowledge and fee transfer of thoughts, customers have become increasingly aware of all competition even for their smallest needs. They don’t pay heed to direct comparisons as they know it is a swindle as the ‘not so good’ features are carefully excluded by sales people. The reluctance to change even in the face of minute troubles is a real aspect of customer behaviour. You need to weave a story, empathising even with the smallest discomfort of your user as to make them him/her understand that it is in their best interest to make the shift. Here a carefully designed content syndication approach works wonders as it is customisable as per the requirements of each target market and buyers relate more to real life scenarios rather than black and white dry comparison.

2. Justifying your claims: After smartly proving the superiority of your product in a language which is easily digested by your customer, now comes the real part. Why the needs and benefits outweigh the cost of your product. For this a deep understanding of your target market, its current direction, paradigms, reluctance, proclivities and opportunity is vital. Empathising with your prospects and reassuring their fears and surpassing their expectations is the only way to make them truly believe your offering is apt for the needs/desires. Conversations have to be held, preferably 1v1 to actually give the whole aspect of selling a human touch.

3. Conversion: After telling your tales and hearing out your prospects, now hopefully you’ve tipped the scales in your favour. Now comes the hardest part of all – actually making the sale. Your customer will waiver on minute points and even after all your efforts, some lingering doubts will remain. Here incentivising their next move can be the actual ‘make or break’ point. A competitive, alluring price is without a doubt the biggest incentive.

Most customers are tech savvy and know that the first price offered is rarely the price they’ll end up paying. They expect freebies, discounts and more for their money. Be prepared in advance and discuss the limits of the discounts you can offer to bring on-board new consumers.

Lead Generation vs. Demand Generation

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Most of sales and marketing personnel’s professional lives revolve around lead generation and demand generation. Often used interchangeably these two approaches of information exchange are co-dependent but not the same.

Demand generation v Lead generation happens to be our most confusing of jargons because due to the lack of definitions, we are nebulous about their roles.

Here is a simple difference which is at the core of these two functions:

The chief function of demand generation is to create market awareness and brand recall/association. In this, content is freely given out without having to fill forms with personal details like phone, email, job title etc. Different content is to be created and spread for various levels of the buyers’ journey to successfully associate the brand with an idea and as a first step of penetrating newer markets.

Lead generation on the other hand moves further from the ‘awareness’ phase to the ‘interest phase’. Here any content disbursed in the market comes with strings attached (read: info like email, phone, job, interest etc). Any viable potential customer shall wilfully part with their information for content which is valuable and not freely available in the market. This campaign is highly dependent on successive quality, no one shall share their data or might even block companies from contacting them again.

Lead generation and Demand generation are based on easily digestible, knowledge parting content which connects with its audience instantly.

In the funnel ‘AIDA’ viz awareness, interest, desire, acquisition; Lead generation (interest) should always be following Demand generation (awareness). Any reversal in this strategy causes a less than favourable RoI situation for your marketing campaigns.

Challenges of Marketers

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Marketing – the function which founds the cornerstone of an effective outreach of an organisation, happens to be one of the most burdened, poorly funded, top heavy, pressured department of a company. Generally led by highly qualified individuals whose brilliance rarely trickles down to the ‘on-ground’ staff; the reasons for which are manifold – incoherent messaging, undefined roles, idealogical silos, unclear roles and their expected outcomes.

Often compared and confused with sales – marketing receives less than half the training, focus and defined boundaries of sales department. Sales people are nurtured, trained to perform very specific roles and are given adequate exposure to hone their skills before being put on the grinding stone, so to speak. Marketers barely move a level above from the bare minimum training and knowledge transfer.

Lacking staff & budget: Marketing teams are a compilation of every available skill set rather than all desirable ones. Teams or put together, made of people with basic knowledge of their domains who are then expected to ‘learn-on-the-fly’. Money and talent are big hurdles, and a well thought out execution of initial planning can go a long way to improve on this teething trouble.

Poor implementation of ideas: After every ‘brain-storming’ session – one which leaves all involved grinning with a sense of importance and focus, the execution of such plans is sadly but often the worst aspect of the entire exercise. Poor feedback, follow-up, campaign design and implementation are hurdles which break the axle of this heavy vehicle. Individual roles and KRAs if fixed are a step in the right direction to achieve better results.

Lack of insight: Although not openly accepted, lack of insight and clarity of their target market creates major challenges for marketing teams. Incoherent messaging, lacklustre response, depleting market mindshare are all resultant of this very basic problem. A properly designed ‘Go To Market’ strategy is essential rather vital for framing a working pattern – one which achieves desired results. Finding the RPC and buying centre sweet-spots can vastly alter the RoI of marketing efforts.

Keeping up with Marketing Trends: This system is never perfected but one of the most sought after ventures within any organisation. No organisation, not even your behemoths, can be on top of all aspects, avenues, methods of market outreach. It is imperative for a good marketing mix to indulge as many various channels as it can accommodate, but focus should be clear on an essential few keeping your target market(s) in view. Some markets are more susceptible to information shared socially, visually or via a 1v1 conversation. This distinction is vital to generate a cycle of interested parties interested in more knowledge share with your sales team. Barking up the wrong tree can be exhausting but unnecessary.

Proving ROI: How do we quantify effort? for techies, HR personnel and even sales people it is pretty tangible and evident in one form of black and white or the other. But the sheer size of marketing activity makes it impossible to judge, with mathematical precision, the impact of campaigns. Volume, Quality, Timing, Geography, Demography, Cadence and many other factors determine the value of a marketers effort. And so many free variables are a daunting task for a skilled mathematician, so how will the pitiful marketing executive feel in face of this commotion. It takes persistence and more importantly profound patience with continuous guidance and course correction to come out with positives from the vicissitudes of the market. Only long-term well funded marketing plans reap results, otherwise reference sales is your go to answer. 5 challenges (1)